LETTER TO THE CHURCH TIMES (UK)


(www.churchtimes.co.uk)

PUBLISHED ON 9th JULY 2004

CLERGY DISCIPLINE AND HERESY TRIALS

Sir,
I hope someone at the General Synod will have (or did have) the courage to call on the church to catch up to where modern theology has now reached. Faith claims can only be expressed in metaphorical and symbolical language. The story of incarnation through to resurrection is an extended metaphor expressing faith claims about that reality which we symbolise by the use of the word "God". We are claiming that such an ultimate reality is trustworthy and finds us loveable and reconcilable. We are not making historical or literal claims. Culture changes and the mythological story of the heavenly Father who sends his Son into the world to become a human being, to die for the world and save us, and then to return to sit at his Father's right-hand side in the glory of heaven is a story that no longer conveys meaning in a very different universe from the one it was first formulated in. We are in a wilderness at present and we must be patient as we wait for new myths and metaphors to help us express our faith claims about ultimate reality, ourselves and our world, and to affirm our sense of mystery and not-knowing, of uncertainty and provisionality in our life-long religious and spiritual quests.
In my book "Tried for Heresy A 21st Century Journey of Faith" I included a section called "World-wide responses". One such response from the Church of England was as follows: "I am a recently retired Anglican priest...Most of my clergy acquaintances, many senior in their dioceses, hold views similar to yours (and mine) but manage to keep them well concealed, so as not to rock the boat and risk their status and their security. It is, in my opinion, vital that this reality is exposed as soon as possible, and before all men and women of integrity are forced to leave."
Yours etc.,
Rev Andrew Furlong,
(Dean of Clonmacnoise 1997-2002)

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