Thursday, April 8, 2010

Obeying God?

I’m a bit rusty, but here it goes.

Reflecting on Acts 5:27-32.

“We must obey God rather that any human authority.”

Provocative words. Dangerous words. How does one determine the will of God? I’ve had this argument many times with those who have told me that they did something because they knew it was God’s will. How did they know?

This very question lays at the root of the Protestant Reformation. Who knew the will of God, the Church (i.e. the Holy Roman Church) or ‘reformers’ within the church such as Martin Luther or Thomas Cramner? The cry ‘sola scriptura’; that is, that the only authority comes from Scripture, falls short of the mark simply because it was the Church who chose the books that would make up our Bible in the first place.

Then and now we are left to ponder who is obeying God and who is just hearing voices....
As a good Anglican, I fall back to Richard Hooker’s assertion that authority is derived primarily from Scripture, informed by reason (the intellect and the experience of God) and tradition (the practices and beliefs of the historical church). Personally, I see this relationship between Scripture, Reason and Tradition as interdependent and interacting, rather than the more static hierarchy that Hooker preferred. As I mentioned above, scripture grew out of the traditions of the Church and have had such a profound impact on our reason (how we think) that our very way of discussing the will of God is tied up with them.

And maybe here is the clue to the truth we seek in trying to discern the will of God – truth which arises from an interdependent, interacting relationship.

I dunno, like I said, I’m still rusty.

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.