COLUMIST: Wit & Wisdom

Rev Canon Giles Fraser, an Anglican priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, Newington in South London in 2003 founded an organization called ‘Inclusive Church’, writes Adam Harbinson.
Adam Harbinson.Adam Harbinson.
Adam Harbinson.

It advocates for the full inclusion of all people regardless of ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation in the Christian churches, especially the Anglican Church.

Surely that’s how it should be, but we all know that many modern Christians would balk at that degree of inclusivity.

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It was the French philosopher Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) who once said: ‘When people come together to form a community, the first thing that happens is that rules appear’ and, of course, the rules of each community must be distinct from the rules of the others, which is why there are so many Christian communities, or denominations.

It struck me as odd one day when it occurred to me that Jesus, upon whose life and teachings Christendom is said to be based, gave us only one rule - ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

It’s that simple, but that would never suit the world of man-made religion.

However, you will search in vain through all the records of Jesus’ teachings for a single word that could be construed as divisive in this context.

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I refer often to the Sermon on the Mount as the distilled wisdom of the ages.

There you will find him listing eight groups of people: the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek and the hungry, the merciful and the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted, and what they had in common was that they are equally blessed.

I’m pretty sure that left to their own devices the early church fathers would have grouped them into eight distinct sects or denominations.

It’s all about rules, for isn’t that how people control people?

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For example, who made the rule that women could not be vicars or bishops? And who made the rule that gay people should be excluded from church membership?

And what about the segregation of Blacks from Whites in the Bible belt of the Deep South?

Not Jesus, for his one rule calls to love.

And yet this Jesus whom these rule makers say they worship, never asked to be worshipped, he simply said, ‘Follow me!’

Are they? Are we?

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