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April 18, 2005


David Huff

[w]hat we have now, he says, is a Donatist church stocked with reputedly perfect people, rather than an Augustinian one in which leaders are expected not only to sin, but also to repent openly and grow toward holiness.

i.e. what we have now is a "standard" that no actual, living, breathing person can meet (but which can be used as a cudgel to hold over someone's head) vs. one which deals with people in a constructive, real-life way that actually works...

Sorry, but the current Neo-Donatist movement in the Episcopal church has me feeling a bit snippy about this sort of thing ;)


bls, in her blog The Topmost Apple, has a lovely quote from one of my favorite hymns that's germane to this topic:

"Frederick William Faber captured the spirit of the Church all too well in a verse of his great hymn There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, a verse that is omitted from our own Hymnal, “But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own; and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.” "

Well said.


The discussion of standards in this post reminds me vividly of Mr. S, a teacher in my junior high who made it his mission to guide his students toward high standards of Christian morality as well as instruct them in American government. Mr. S once overheard me muttering "dang" in response to some minor irritation -- I don't remember what, maybe I dropped a book on my foot -- and admonished me that "dang is just a substitute for another word, so saying one is just as bad as saying the other." He did not, however, offer any suggestions about what I should say instead of "dang" if a similar mishap should occur in the future.

Based on what Mr. S said, and didn't say, I concluded that he thought a strong faith should confer upon the Christian some magical immunity from feeling upset when reality bites. And if one's faith is not strong enough to shut out irritation, it is imperative to conceal this failure at all cost. This encounter left me uncomfortable, and now I know why. Mr. S's exhortation sounded like a worldly message in Christian guise. If you can't be good, look good. Fake it till you make it. Keep up with the Joneses. Never show weakness. What troubles me about the perfectionist ideal is that it leaves no room for the other values present in the New Testament. If no one ever transgressed or failed -- and admitted it -- what need would there be for forgiveness or compassion?

Michael Townsend

So, in the "Augustinian church," leaders are expected to sin."

This means that "the Augustinian church," has no connection with Christ's Church" in which everyone - leaders and the led, are all expected ti be free from sin. [Refer to Letter to the Romans 6:18 - "Having then been made free from sin..,.:

Take a look also at 1 John 3:6 - "Whoever sins has neither seen Christ nor knows Him."

Maybe we need to pack our bags and start looking for Christ's REAL Church, because those that claim to be "churches" fail to make the grade.

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