Monday, August 30, 2010

Ecclesiastical Evolution IV: Reformation

I am used to describing myself as an Anglican Papalist. I wonder how accurate a term that is in me. I've said before that being an Anglican Papalist necessarily involves living in a confused ecclesiology: holding the Supremacy of the Pope yet remaining out of communion in order to hold on to an Anglican Integrity which is despised by the Roman Canon Law. We know that Anglican Identity is hard to define and it is our faith that it is right that makes Communion with the Pope something of a existential anomaly. I've already said that some believe to be Anglicanism to be that which is expressed within the pages of the Prayer-Book, others believe Anglicanism to be that which has grown from an English Heritage stemming back way before the Synod of Whitby. There are others still...

However, I am not an Anglican Papalist, because I am a human being and "Anglican Papalist" is just some description of how I express myself in terms of relationships with the Church of England, the Anglican Continuum and the Holy See. If I define myself by being "Anglican Papalist" then I am not being a human being.

I am happy to admit to having a confused ecclesiology. I don't understand how I can hold to Catholic Doctrine as expressed by the Roman Magisterium and yet remain out of Communion with the very person whom I regard to be the man appointed by God to guide the Church. I try to see that as the state I'm in now and trust in the Grace of God to bring me in line with the Truth. This is part of my own personal Evolution: I have the core idea, i.e. that God exists and loves me as evidenced by the Lord Jesus Christ, and my life evolves according to how the love of God grows within me. Perhaps one day I shall be entirely consistent.

So far this is terribly personal - not very Catholic - and I suppose one may take me to task over a pick-and-mix attitude to the way I approach religion. Romans tend to regard that as being Protestant - whatever that word means.

The key to understanding (if it's possible) Anglican Papalism is to look at the Reformations of Christian life in Great Britain. Below, I have tried to argue that the litmus test of any development within the Church has to be Love.

Well, it doesn't take very much digging to see the level of hatred within the 16th century between Reformers and Romans, but is it fair to judge the sentiments of those times with the 21st Century morality of "live and let live"? A lot of people from both sides lost their lives horribly, standing up for what they believed in. Why then did they lose their lives? For the reason that the other side saw them as dangerous corrupters of the True Faith. What of the Reformers wishing death on the Pope in their hymns?

Martin Luther writes:
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
Und steur des Papsts und Türken Mord,
Die Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,
Wollen stürzen von deinem Thron!

However this gets translated today as:
Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who fain by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.

The second line isn't correctly translated, is it?

What of the Bull of Pope Pius V who, in excommunicating Elizabeth I also said:

Praecipimusque et interdicimus universis et singulis proceribus, subditis, populis, et aliis praedictis, ne illi eiusve monitis, mandatis et legibus audeant obedire. Qui secus egerint, eos simili anathematis sententia innodamus.

We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication.

So the erstwhile Pope is inciting at best civil disobedience and at worst regicide.

Of course, we can easily try playing the blame-game. Just whose fault was the first Reformation? Leo X? Luther? Henry VIII? pre-Reformation "heretics"? Anne Bullen? Cranmer?

Utterly irrelevant - we can't change a thing!

The only relevant thing is the Elephant in the Room, not the keeper who brought it in.

Were the Reformations born out of love? That is the question that we are tempted to demand be asked and answered honestly. I disagree on the grounds that this brings us back to the who-did-what-to-whom rather than focus on the true issue: groups of Christians do not regard each other as being truly Christian.

I suppose the real question is: How do I hold on to the expression of the Christian Faith which I believe to be fundamentally true and yet express Christian Love as fully as I can to someone else who claims to be Christian but who holds a radically different set of Doctrines?

The Reformers were concerned with the purity of the Faith and seeking the ease of others' souls by demonstrating to them their errors to the point of saving their souls by destroying their bodies through fire. That may be the way they understood the Love of God in their time, but it doesn't sit right ith our consciences in this day and age and one can reasonably doubt that it would ever sit right on a Christian man's conscience.

As an Anglican Papalist, I see myself engaged in a similar struggle. The Church of England is riven with diverse doctrines which are slowly tearing Christians apart. There is spiritual and therefore moral confusion coming about from a ghastly inconsistent set of beliefs. They cannot all be right. Adult baptism has always been sufficient in the Christian Church, but some groups in the CofE say that it is necessary. Others say that it is not necessary. They cannot both be right. And there are other issues too.

Where do we turn to find the pure Faith? Lots of people will go the Bible and then realise that the same passages that are being used to support the issue are being used against the issue. There is no consistency in just reading the Bible for ourselves. So then one must choose whom to believe, which authority, which pastor, priest, professor, prelate or Pope? This only works if pastor, priest, professor, prelate or Pope are acting in the True Faith themselves. If they are acting for their own devices as Pope Leo X was when trying to collect money for his building projects (but was his motivation the love of God?), then there are problems.

We can see this coming out in the Child Abuse Scandals rocking the Church with the clergy closing ranks, effectively creating the barrier between them and their flocks. Now that's not Love, that's trying to protect appearances. Obviously it is only the tiny majority of priests who are actually guilty of abuse, but the clericalism has exacerpated the situation (as has, admittedly a sensationalist press). Yet, what of pastors inventing their own religions in order to denounce Roman Catholicism as the expression of the Antichrist, or to finance their own over-indulgences (pardon the pun).

Nonetheless, one should seek refuge in the Church that has always sought to preserve the Truth, humbly accepting that it is by God's good grace that it holds that Truth. In reflecting on the Lord's parable of Pharisee and Tax-collector, St John Chrysostom says that it is better to be a sinner and yet humble than virtuous and yet proud. Love breeds humility and it is a mark of the Church to be humble because it is made up from sinful men. Humility seeks obedience to the Faith as laid down from the first and faithfully transmitted through the Fathers.

Were the Reformations born out of love? If I have to answer an irrelevant question, I would say "no" in that it has separated Christians contrary to the uniting principle of Love. I maintain that the Reformations were born out of a fear of loss of control, but I do not care if this is the wrong answer. This is not the issue, especially since the Christian Faith has still grown in the various post-Reformation bodies which have sought to preserve the organic growth evidenced by Tradition. However, any parish that calls itself Christian has to provide evidence of Love in order to do justice to the name. How does it do that? Well, if it's Christian, it should know!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The English Catholic

I'd like, if I may, to draw your attention to a new blog - The English Catholic run by Fr Anthony Chadwick. If you have read his Reflections from Normandy, then you'll know that Fr Chadwick is interested in exploring the nature of English Patrimony and the ethos evoked by the Sarum rite.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Elmore 2010: Last orders please

My last visit to Elmore Abbey! Things have run their course and the four monks have now sold the Abbey (to whom I know not) and are preparing the move to Salisbury. This is certainly a stressful time for them, so please pray for Prior Simon and Dom Kenneth, Dom Francis and Dom Bruce as they have to gather things together and downsize to pastures new.

Of course, they'll still be constituting a monastic community and that's the important thing. Size does not matter in the Church, though the CofE at times seems to be more inclined to put bottoms on pews than the Love of God into the hearts of folk. Four monks, no matter how old still constitute a community and their prayerful diligence in observing the Opus Dei means that the concerns of the world are still being presented before Almighty God at the hands of this little Anglican Community. There is also a sizable community of Oblates all under the Rule and spiritually based with the Elmore Quartet. Apparently, having made my life Oblation last Thursday, I was told I was to be the last. I'm sure that they could squeeze in one or two more before they go. I don't like the though of being the last, though the CofE does make me feel a relic.

We still need more monks and nuns, and we must examine our vocations in life very carefully. I do recommend reading Touched by God edited by Laurentia Johns OSB (Burns and Oates) in which ten Religious folk (all Roman Catholics) tell their stories of the call to live a life of prayer in a community. I still ask myself why I'm not one of them, but my calling to education has not yet ended.

However, one should not enter an Abbey just to "get away from it all" - that's the last thing that happens! One thing of which I'm acutely aware during my retreat is that the real world is very much part of the lives of the four monks, and they do have a tender and deep concern for all that happens. Intercessory prayers are offered daily, intensively and comprehensively as part of the personal work in the community. I know from bitter experience just how difficult prayer can be, and yet to make a life of it is a great undertaking, a noble and effective endeavour, and desperately needed by a World that is teetering over an abyss.

The challenge that these monks offer us is that we should "not despise the day of small things." While wishing otherwise, it is unlikely that these gentlemen will ever be formally canonised as saints, and yet they are trying to live the life of God not by big, obvious acts and miracles, but rather by doing little things for the Love of God.

And this is something that we perhaps all should be looking for. We should not seek to be the next Moses, Augustine, Aquinas, Andrewes or Pusey, but rather to order our lives in baptising all our little, apparently insignificant actions into the Love of God. Now that is what St Peter meant by our Royal Priesthood. If we're honestly not called to the monastic life, then this is still a discipline that we adapt for our own commitment to God.

If you're worried about doing that, don't worry - there are at least four gentlemen praying for you.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ecclesiastical Evolution III: Truth and Love

I still need to make some headway into clarifying the Object and Rule of Christian Doctrine which I have not yet done. Perhaps, what needs to be done is to see what does not constitute an acceptable Evolution, and also to identify what remains constant under Evolution. The danger, as Canon Jerome Lloyd puts it, is that everything in the Christian faith comes up for review if we assume the wrong rule of Evolution.

First of all, can a legitimate teaching of the Church be withdrawn? If we look carefully at mathematics which makes a study of logical truths and is well aware that it has limitations as to deciding the truth, we cannot undo a result. If 1+1=2, 1+2=3 and 1+3=4, and addition is associative (i.e. (a+b)+c=a+(b+c) where the brackets tell you what to do first) then 2+2=4 and there is no way of changing that result when it has been discovered. In this sense, Mathematics is entirely self-consistent because logic is infallible. Of course, Mathematics is not complete and therefore not infallible in matters beyond its capacity - it just cannot reach all Truth, indeed it is very limited in what truth it can say and the Truth of our reality is a matter of faith.

However, if we believe in an Eternal God, i.e. a God beyond Time who is not affected by Time, then He doesn't change or evolve in any way. Our encounter with Him evolves because we are changing, being temporal beings. If then we are in any way to say that we worship the same God as the chap next-door, as the lady on the other side of the world from us, as the child in the slum, as the Queen in her castle, as St Peter, as Our Blessed Lady, as St Maximilian Kolbe, as a peasant sitting in Carthage in 432AD or the man operating an interstellar craft in 6310AD, there has to be some constancy. God is faithful, that is our belief as Christians, and if He is the only God, and He tells us so, then there must be consistency in our encounter with Him.

The consistency embraces both Truth and Love. Indeed if we follow St Paul, then we have, of course Faith Hope and Love as the three Eternal things, and you know what the greatest of them is. Truth does fit in here because our knowledge of the Truth is based on Faith and carried into the future on Hope. If there are statements which are grown, or Evolve from Truth, then they cannot be withdrawn or change in Time. The Rule for Evolution is therefore continuous and accumulative, like the trunk of a tree.

Most important of all is this thing called Love. Now think of this, the very, very basic tenets of the Christian Faith are these:

1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

2) Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Everything hangs on these. Everything!

The matter and the process of Evolution. The Doctrine of Christ is fundamentally built on Love and anything that goes against this Love is not from God - it is not Christian.

And we're not talking about some mawkish, weak or impotent stirring of the emotions here. This is a love that can say "NO!" as well as "Yes". It is a force that will break down as well as build up, that can slam doors as well as open them. This is not some namby-pamby feeling but the driving force of the entire Universe. All Christian Doctrine must pass the test of Love as we have seen expressed initially in the faith of the Jews, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the writers of the Holy Scriptures, in the aedifice of the Holy Church.

We cannot define Love, we just know it because it is part of our make-up, deeper than genetic, at a smaller scale than the sub-atomic, yet encompassing the largest supercluster of galaxies. Its attributes are set forth quite plainly in the Scriptures and the growth occurs in Holy Tradition. It is organic and therefore continuous and accumulative. Furthermore, it is paramount and trumps all things. For example, our first priority is not our own salvation, our first priority is the Love of God and obedience to Him as He requires and not on our terms. Our salvation becomes then just as much a by-product as the first genuine smile on the face of our baby. The issue of Salvation then is an example of something that evolves naturally from Love.

I did mention in my first musing on this topic on Friday that this "one step at a time" which I described as being akin to the differential equation in mathematics poses problems for the mathematician in that some evolution equations are solved (integrated) by use of a numerical method such as the predictor-corrector method. This involves some approximations on the parameters. This is often okay as long as one sticks to within the levels of tolerance of the system; take too big a leap and you find yourself whizzing away from where you should be.

While it seems that both defining the Object and Rule of Ecclesiastical Evolution is an impossible task, we do find ourselves back to something where we can relate: Love.

More to think about here, methinks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ecclesiastical Evolution II: What is the rule?

Yesterday, I tried to consider the principle of Evolution and how it applies to the Church. I stated that we require an initial object to do the evolving and a rule by which it evolves.

I would like to examine this in a little more detail as this seems to be rather an important point. For Christian Unity to occur, we need to be clear as to what the Object of Evolution is, and what the Rule of Evolution is. I am sure that this has been thrashed out by many an eminent theologian and by each ecclesial body, but I think it bears the scrutiny.

What is the Object that should evolve? I think I was a bit glib about this yesterday. We have the added danger that we are arguing from within the system which presents us with very strong limits to what we can and cannot decide. Clearly from a universal perspective, the Word of God does not evolve. It has to be the same for all people be they living in prehistory or the End of Days. Salvation has to be the same for everyone, because there is only one God doing the saving, and He is outside the system therefore not subject to Evolution.

So what does Evolve? Cardinal Newman says Christian Doctrine, the teaching of the Church. Is this reasonable?

Well, human beings evolve, their technologies evolve, their philosophies evolve and their understandings evolve. This means that different questions must present themselves at particular times, and it is the job of Christian Doctrine to provide some answer to those questions even if the answer to those questions is not only unknown, but unknowable. Such things exist, and Kurt Gödel has shown us how but only within the past century! Thus Christian Doctrine has to evolve.

Christian praxis depends very much on Christian doctrine: it should therefore be subordinate to Christian doctrine in that we do as we are taught in concordance with Christian Verity. I suspect though that there are occasions where the practice of Christians has wormed its way into Christian Doctrine - could this be something like, for example, the end of the obligation to fast on Friday in the Roman Catholic Church?

If we agree that the Object of Evolution is Christian Doctrine, then how must it evolve? What is the rule?

To understand this, we must understand what drives Evolution. If this is to be in any way compatible with Christianity, then the ultimate driving force for any evolution must be the procession of the Holy Ghost in History acting in response to human activity. This is clear because the whole issue of Christian Doctrine is the interaction of Humanity with Divinity. This principle underlies the rule, but still doesn't tell us how Doctrine should develop.

Yesterday, I described three methods of evolution. Seeing as we are within the system, we do not have an overall understanding of the rule, therefore we have to rely on a rule that changes step-by-step. It makes sense that the Rule ought to be "keep travelling in this direction until God says stop." This however needs further articulation and better precision. Holy Scripture itself helps us to see when God tells us to stop and change direction, but did Holy Scripture evolve according to the rule? Does it hold the key as to how the rule should be applied? Most Christians should say "yes" but it is then finding this out, a question of interpretation as it were.

It's clear that the Rule is the generator of Holy Tradition. Once we have some awareness of that we have some clarity as how to proceed further.

More on this when I have more time, and have unaddled my brain.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Developing Doctrine and Ecclesiastical Evolution

There must surely be peace among Christians, so why doesn’t that harmony exist? Our biggest problem is dissent and heresy, namely what constitutes lawful dissent and what constitutes heresy. In 2000 years of development, why isn’t there a single Church? Well actually there is, if we subscribe to the Creeds – One Holy Catholic and Apostolic et c.Well then which is it? Rome? Constantinople? The inhabitants of one little building in Texas?

How can we tell? Well, time has passed and this means there needs to have been some evolution of the Church to bring us here. If I may move back to my mathematical heritage here, Evolution requires and Object to Evolve and rules by which it evolves. Change the rule and you change the way the Object evolves in time. Mathematically this would take place using a set of initial conditions for the Object and a function of time, recurrence relation, differential equation, as the Rule.

To illustrate these methods, we’re going to Evolve some numbers. Think of them as a population of some animal if you wish.

We could simply define the size of the population at time t as a function of time, for example f(t)= t+1, which means that whatever t is, f(t) is what you get just add one to t. The number f(t) is the size of the population at time t (seconds, years, millennia whatever you like) when we start measure. So initially, when we start measuring, t=0 and the size of the population is f(0)=0+1=1. So the initial population is 1. If we’re measuring time in years, then after 100 years, the population is f(100)=100+1=101, i.e. the size of the population after 100 years is 101. Still with me? The point is that in this situation when the rule (in this case the rule f) is given for all time, right from the start and all sizes of population are obviously determined, in this case very easily.

We could use a recurrence relation. Start with the numbers 0 and 1 and then use the rule “add the two previous numbers to get the new number” In this case we get the sequence

0, 1, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8

generating 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,... – the famous Fibonacci sequence.

It’s more difficult for us to work out what the 100th number will be but we can still see how the thing is eveolving.

Mathematically, the evolution of physical systems is described by differential equations. This is a bit difficult to describe to non-mathematical readers, and if you’ve borne with me so far, thank you and well done. A differential equation only tells you how fast to travel and in which direction. For example, if I tell someone keep turning left at 3 feet a second, then he’s going to spend his time walking in circles. Yet this is how many physical systems act: we will know their velocity at any position and time, and have to work out where they will go. This makes for very complicated mathematics and leads to chaos theory. For examples of this we can look at the Lorentz equations which produce some remarkably complex behaviour.

The differential equation style evolution requires only knowledge of the speed and direction in which we are moving at any point. If we’re actually in the system that’s evolving, then this is the best that we can do. If we’re in the system, then we do not have knowledge of the whole system, but rather only local information. Slight changes to a differential equation make big changes in the long term, so constant readjustment needs to be made in order for the system to compare well with reality. If the differential equations are particularly complicated, mathematicians have to resort to numerical methods to analyse the solutions which aren’t always well behaved.

All this mathematical jargon brings me to the main question. In 2000 years since the Lord walked with us before His Ascension, what rule of Evolution did He leave us? St Paul gives us a rule in that what we receive from one generation we pass on to the next. Of course, how we pass it on becomes important especially with the change in time. How the rule adapts to the change in time needs careful thought. It’s clear that what must not change is the Word of God, the message of Salvation and Love of God, of the promise of Eternal Life and a Relationship with the Divine Author.

What we now have after 2000 years is a fragmented Christianity where people refuse to recognise the results of others’ evolution. Cardinal Newman in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine says that the Development of Doctrine should not be a mathematical process, or at least does not have a mathematical sense of continuity. A properly mathematical sense of continuity really means that small changes have small effects in the short term. If I change the function f(t)= t+1 to f(t)= t+1.5, then the change is small in the long term. However, if I change the function, f(t)= 10 x t to f(t)= 11 x t, then in the short term we have a tiny difference 10 versus 11, 20 versus 22. By the time we’ve got to 2,000, we have 20,000 versus 22,000 – a big difference.

Of course, the best thing to do is to check out that point in time where the change was made in Christian doctrine. Again, if we’re in the system, we’ve got a problem in that we cannot travel backwards in time and see precisely what that change is, we have to rely on the interpretation of historical documents which is no easy thing when there are so many factors here.

Now this is the mess that Christianity faces: fragmented by all kinds of different rules of evolution. Do all people who claim to be Christian share a common teaching? Is there truly a prescribed method of Doctrinal Evolution? Cardinal Newman’s has been both a method for conservative and liberal Roman Catholics – how can that be? So what do we do to unite Christianity?

Of course, it is an expression of Faith that we hold to the system that we do, and we should hold to that Faith strongly. However, how should we be treating those whose system need only be slightly different in order to produce very different effects? Dare we leave them or try to live with them?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The trouble with knocking at the door.

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die , it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled ; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this
hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest
darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

There's a knock at the door. Standing there are two Greeks, quite smartly dressed asking to see Jesus. Philip wonders whether these two gentlemen are in fact Jehovah's witnesses - there's still a lot of suspicion about these Greeks who "believe" in God. Nonetheless, Philip has seen Jesus talk with Samaritan women, prostitutes, tax-collectors so he knows that Jesus might actually want to let them in. He goes to Andrew who always seems to act as the bouncer in the Gospels - no-one sees Jesus without getting past Andrew - and together they approach Jesus, half-expecting "yes, let them in and we'll talk" followed by more profound teaching about the relationship between Jews and the "unclean" or "not-quite" Jews.

Instead the reaction seems quite extraordinary - IT'S NOW! Now is the hour. Now is the time! What a contrast to the wedding in Cana - "Madam, my hour is not yet come"! And then we hear nothing more about these Greeks or what was said to them. Who they are or what was said to them is not recorded in the Fourth Gospel. Whatever it is, their presence in St John's Gospel acts as some sign to Jesus about His ministry, and it causes Him great upheaval - He knows that He is going to die soon. And so He runs away!

Well, not really running away, preparations need to be made. This Friday, we have the Feast of the Transfiguration where Jesus is given news of His fate by Elijah and Moses. This episode in John's Gospel is another of great emotional strain on a Messiah who is introverted and seeking solitude, yet is devoted to an outward ministry to bring the good news of what He is going to achieve through His Life and Death and Resurrection.

In St John's Gospel, the clues to this ministry have been set in place very soundly. If you think about it, the main cause of Jesus' arrest and trial are because he raised Lazarus from the dead. This is the event that drove the crowds out to see Jesus on "Palm Sunday" and thus caused the consternation among the Jewish authorities that Jesus had corrupted the people away from the "True Faith".

Jesus knows all this. He knows that His ministry has set Him in direct opposition with the Spiritual leaders of the day. It has upset Him deeply. St John paints a picture of Jesus being deeply affected by humanity. We see him weep, angry, "sore troubled" - this is not an indifferent God who will go to the Cross in some stoic and pious silence. The silence He offers to His accusers will be brimming with wordless power unable to make them understand because their minds are closed, ears unlistening, eyes turned from the Truth. This is God Omnipotent impotent - the greatest of paradoxes - and Jesus is aware of this.

And aware of this paradox Jesus presents another. Death to those who love their life, life to those who hate their life. However, the paradox is lifted by the theme that has run throughout this Gospel - the only life that is worth having is the life of Christ. Lazarus is the sign that Jesus offers life. It is deeply offensive to those of the world; it goes against the received Science; it goes against the Epicurean idea of "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die"; it goes against the idea of being in complete control of our own existence and wills.

Our hope in life is to surrender complete control to God, to recognise that the way we live our lives is unsatisfactory. This means that we do have to search our own selves to see just how poor we really are. We can be satisfied with who we are - that means we don't get upset with ourselves, there's no emotional strain, and we can live our lives unaffected by any idea of shortcoming. Trouble is, then we cannot see the life of Christ. It is He who gives life, and self-satisfaction is a ghastly parody of that life. So if we opt for that life, we render God impotent to help us. Scandalous!

If however we opt for the hard route, the route of emotional upheaval, of distaste of what we have made ourselves, walk into the confusion in our souls and wrangle with our wills, then we see how much better the life of Christ is, and we submit to it joyfully. If we come to Christ, we have true life. It doesn't come cheaply, but Jesus is there with us and that is all that we need.

Sometimes it is we who have to come to the door and knock, just like those Greeks seeking Jesus. The results are not always what we think they will be. They will, of course, turn out to be more splendid than that.