MAY I CONFESS something to you? I absolutely despise theological debates. I suppose a lot of this has to do with the fact that I am no apologist nor do I feel a calling to be one. I do read a lot of theology (especially Christian Mysticism and Spirituality) but find arguing about it to be ridiculous, whether it be the “new” issues of homosexuality, the fact that Rob Bell might be espousing Universalism or the old issues like Transubstantiation and Memorialism. Since your interlocutor made up her mind the same time you did (eg. long before the conversation), I see little point in arguing. In fact, I see it as a complete waste of time.
YES, THERE IS ole’ 2nd Timothy 2:14, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Those who thrive on debate use this as the certifiable proof that God wants us all to be little apologizing antagonists. But, I would temper that understanding with Our Lord’s words in Luke that when we are brought before those who disagree with us to “take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (12:11-12) And the words of St. Francis that we are to “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Logic and extended diatribes, therefore, seem to have little to do being ready in season and out of season! But our actions and readiness to the Spirit have everything to do with it.
PART OF THE ANGLICAN/EPISCOPAL ethos is that we like “doing theology to the sound of church bells.” This magnificent phrase was coined by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey in The Anglican Spirit showing that in the Anglican tradition, orthopraxy is considered just as important than orthodoxy. Meaning that how we worship is considered equal to our understandings of who we are worshiping. Theology, as it were, is not done by sheets of logic or philosophical adaptations of the virtuous pagans, but by, in and through the worship of the Church. If anything, lex credenti, lex orandi tells us that the way we worship tells us more about whom we are worshiping than any theological book or argument ever could.
NEXT TIME SOMEONE tries to engage me in a theological argument, before I will respond, I will simply ask them to pray Morning or Evening Prayer with me for a week. Or, at least, go to Mass with me a few times. Or pray the Rosary. You know, do anything to show that perhaps orthopraxy is just as important as orthodoxy and that praying together is more important than being right alone. Perhaps I should hold in suspicion anyone who refuses to do this.
I SUPPOSE WHAT is most unfortunate is that I can write this and I know it is the right thing to do, but I probably won’t do it. When someone is wrong and I am right, I must prove this to them. I must drown them in scripture verses, evidence from Tradition and plain common sense! God bless it, they’re wrong and I am right and I will not rest until the entire world knows it! Sad isn’t it? Perhaps I should give up being this addiction to proving my rightness for Lent. To say, at all times and in all places – in season and out of season — the words of the Psalmist:
“Lord, I am not high-minded *
I have no proud looks.
I do not exercise myself in great matters *
which are too high for me.
But I refrain my soul, and keep it low,
like as a child that is weaned from his mother*
yea, my soul is even as a weaned child.” (131:1-3)
THE GREATEST SERMON we will never preach, the most convincing argument we will never write is trusting and waiting on the Lord, yet all will see and hear this louder and clearer than anything else we ever do. Lord, have mercy on us miserable offenders whose mouths prevent them from doing otherwise, especially me.