February 17, 2007

Of Sin and the Power of God

Over on the House of Bishops/Deputies list, a member responded to my post about What Would Gamaliel Do? by pointing out, quite rightly, that the divisions in the church may well be a result of human sin.

I would certainly have to acknowlege that human sin plays its part in the generation of divisions in the church, which, as I noted in the original post, have been going on since Apostolic times. But I would also have to apply the felix culpa principle: that God can bring even out of this some new great work. I'm reminded of the Rabbinic concept that the inclination to the self (the "evil" inclination) is an intrinsic part of the created human nature as much as the inclination to the good of the other -- these are the yetzer ha'ra and the yetzer ha'tov. (The Rabbis say this is shown because the word used for God "forming" Adam is misspelled with two yods -- one for each yetzer. Go figure...)

Anyway, the Rabbis also say that the evil inclination has its own kind of goodness. What? How? If it were not for this inclination people would have no ambition to build, to expand, to raise a family.... In short, the desire for self-preservation is an essential requirement for the eventual evolution of morals. (I will say more about this at another time.)

So, applying this, I suggest that the proliferation of divisions in the church, while it may originate in human fraility and failing, may yet be spun to God's ends by the proliferation of cooperation between the emergent variety -- when all come to realize they share a common life. In this we find mirrored precisely what happens in the living world of evolving creatures, who are not all alike, who differentiate and develop, and yet who taken together make up the biosphere.

By analogy, our richly diverse "ecclesiosphere" is also full of many wonderful creatures, in a stretched out sheet let down from heaven -- to show us that what God has declared clean we must not call unclean.

-- Tobias S Haller BSG

1 comment:

Ann said...

Felix Culpa -- hmm - something like this?
Nora the Cat?