Friday, May 04, 2007

The Judgment of Charity

The free church tradition is sectarian by nature. I do not say that as a dig. I mean that as a description.

It is sectarian because its goal is to have a church made of only those who can demonstrate they are truly "converted" or "regenerated". In contemporary North America, this means if one has a "born-again experience" or certain culturally prescribed practices in one's life, then one is regenerated and part of the church.

Anglicans look at things differently. They seperate the question of who is legitimately part of the church from the question of who will be finally saved. We are not trying to figure out who is really saved and then who is not really saved and then fence the church so only the really saved are in. Instead, Anglicans extend the judgment of charity. If one is baptized, then we call you a Christian. As long as you join in worship, do not deny the faith and do not engage in any grossly scandalous misconduct, you are part of the church. But being part of the church does not mean one will be finally saved.

Because of this we, when we do things correctly, are continually being called to conversion.

This approach can wierd out baptists and other free churchers. They are used to the church being made of people who have been "transformed" or who have been "sanctified" or who "don't drink, cuss, dance or chew."

Check out Enthusiasm by Ronald Knox for some more insight on this topic.

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