Cooper & Cary Have Words

#160 Agree To Disagree?

August 24, 2023 James Cary & Barry Cooper Season 1
#160 Agree To Disagree?
Cooper & Cary Have Words
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Cooper & Cary Have Words
#160 Agree To Disagree?
Aug 24, 2023 Season 1
James Cary & Barry Cooper

Has the church become a battleground for personal preferences? Is the holy communion of believers threatened by our own biases and individualistic tendencies? Cooper & Cary have words about disagreements and disputes in the church, and how to handle them.

In Philippians 4, Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to "agree in the Lord". How do we do that? What does that even mean? And should there be times when we simply can't "agree to disagree"?

Philippians 4

https://earlychurchhistory.org/beliefs-2/paul-barnabas-split-over-mark/
https://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2022/03/conflicts-over-lesser-matters/
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/7-steps-to-conflict-resolution/

The Out of the Silent Planet book group is on Wednesday 26th June at 8.30pm UK time. Join us on Patreon to take part. https://www.patreon.com/cooperandcary

All of Life for God
The All of Life for God podcast is an engaging and thoughtful collection of exclusive...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Unlock extended ad-free episodes, advance access, a huge episode archive, and bonus content, by subscribing to Cooper & Cary+ on Apple Podcasts. Or get everything on C&C+, together with video, and access to the exclusive C&C Discord server, by becoming a Patron.

Encouragement and/or open derision should be addressed here: cooperandcary@gmail.com

Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Has the church become a battleground for personal preferences? Is the holy communion of believers threatened by our own biases and individualistic tendencies? Cooper & Cary have words about disagreements and disputes in the church, and how to handle them.

In Philippians 4, Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to "agree in the Lord". How do we do that? What does that even mean? And should there be times when we simply can't "agree to disagree"?

Philippians 4

https://earlychurchhistory.org/beliefs-2/paul-barnabas-split-over-mark/
https://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2022/03/conflicts-over-lesser-matters/
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/7-steps-to-conflict-resolution/

The Out of the Silent Planet book group is on Wednesday 26th June at 8.30pm UK time. Join us on Patreon to take part. https://www.patreon.com/cooperandcary

All of Life for God
The All of Life for God podcast is an engaging and thoughtful collection of exclusive...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Unlock extended ad-free episodes, advance access, a huge episode archive, and bonus content, by subscribing to Cooper & Cary+ on Apple Podcasts. Or get everything on C&C+, together with video, and access to the exclusive C&C Discord server, by becoming a Patron.

Encouragement and/or open derision should be addressed here: cooperandcary@gmail.com

Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Cooper:

Welcome everybody to Cooper and Cary Have Words. I'm Barry Cooper, I'm here in Florida and 4,000 miles away from me in Yeovil, Somerset, is my good friend, James Cary. James, how's it looking over there?

Cary:

It's alright. It's been an odd summer and it was very hot earlier in the summer. But my wife said that wasn't the summer, that was technically spring and she feels rather short changed by the summer here. But anyway, two Brits talking about the weather is not why people have tuned in. They want deep theological reflection on the matters of the church today, plus jingles.

Cooper:

Yeah, well, we can certainly deliver some of the jingles. The other stuff I'm not so sure about. But we wanted to talk today on this episode about disagreements in the church and what, if any, is a legitimate disagreement to have, what is not maybe a legitimate disagreement to have. And then how should we respond to those? Should we stay? Should we leave? How do we draw the line? And this was all prompted to James, because recently I was preaching on Philippians, chapter 4, which, as folks might know, is focuses on Euodia and Syntyche, the first few verses. They were a couple of women who presumably had some sort of prominent role in the Philippian church. Maybe they were even a couple of founder members.

Cooper:

There Paul talks about being serving the Gospel, standing side by side with them in the Gospel and Gospel work. So they were clearly valued. But they had disagreed about something. We do not know what that disagreement is. It seems as if it was likely not a sin issue, because usually Paul comes down like a tonne of bricks on sin issues he doesn't hear. So possibly it was just something to do with reference. I quite like the fact actually, james, that we don't really know exactly what the disagreement was about, because I think if we did know what it was about, there's a good chance that we would read it now and go oh, they had an argument over that. I would never do that.

Cary:

Or worse, just go team Sinterki, right? I mean, who's going with this other Lady, eudia? I mean, it's like it's a cut and dried issue. I don't know why Paul is mucking around being even handed with these. That's how divisive the human heart really is, right.

Cooper:

Yeah, it is, and clearly, Paul thinks this is a really problematic. Problematic thing, because what tends to happen, even if it is just an issue of preferences, is that people do take sides, factions develop and then, before you know it, you've got a first century church split on your hands. Just FYI, I looked on Twitter to see what some of the reasons were why people had had divisions and factions in their church, and some of them were clearly ridiculous, for example, arguments over the appropriate length of the pastor's beard. There was another one, though, which is obviously quite serious. I don't know what line you'd take on this.

Cooper:

Apparently, there was an argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal or not. For me, I would say I think that's fine, as long as you also serve angel cake. Very good, you see, that's where people come, isn't it really for that level of humorous interludes. So what about this then, james? Have you ever been in a congregation where anything like this has happened, where personal preferences have threatened to put a fissure in the middle of the Lord's body?

Cary:

Well, I would say congregation, no Denomination, aka the Church of England. Yes, and it's all kicking off and I have a front row seat for the massive disagreement that's going on within the Church of England over the blessing of people in same-sex relationships. Of course, don't forget that the prayers of blessing that are being proposed aren't blessing the relationships. They're blessing the people in the relationships we have to play that distinction as we ask.

Cary:

In order to keep the peace. I mean, we can talk about that in more specifics if you want. It's interesting that Southern Baptists are also having a bit of a existential crisis on what's keeping them together, and that's not the same terms of unity of denomination, because that's more like an affiliation thing.

Cary:

But just one thing before we move off, philippians 4 is. It is interesting how the climax of Philippians is a beginning of Philippians 4. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you, whom I love and long for my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord and in this way, dear friends, I plead with you, dear, and I plead with Sintakey to be of the same mind in the Lord. This is part of the joy and the crown is that unity, isn't it, and I think that's something that we don't really cherish very much and that, therefore, schism and walking away is a really, really serious business. That I don't think as Protestants I mean the clues in the word Protestant protest I'm taking my toys off the field and going over here now I don't think we fully understand the importance of unity. Now, not unity at all costs, but unity. Is that fair?

Cooper:

I think it is because Jesus says specifically, doesn't it? By this, all men will know that you are mine, that you love one another, and therefore, if you don't love one another in the church, well, that's like a massive red flag to the culture in terms of this gospel that we're proclaiming, because, after all, it's a gospel of reconciliation. That's the way it's described in Scripture. So if we say to people, yeah, the gospel is great, we're reconciled God and man, there's no, there's therefore no more condemnation. We're at peace with God, but we're transparently not at peace with each other. Well, the world's not stupid, maybe clever, but it may be stupid, but it's not clever. It's going to look at that and go well, this gospel that you're talking about clearly doesn't work in the way that you're advertising.

Cary:

Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, except those guys. They're the worst.

Cooper:

No condemnation for those who agree with me or my preferences. What?

Cary:

do you read my lord Words?

Cooper:

Words, words. Now, at the same time, obviously, I think we will talk more about the importance of unity and how crucial that is and why Paul stresses it At the same time. Paul certainly didn't think twice. I don't think he particularly enjoyed conflict, but he didn't think twice about calling people out when they needed to be called out. Even the apostle Peter, of course you know, famous in Galatians 2, publicly rebukes Peter.

Cooper:

So this isn't when he says agree in the Lord. He can't be meaning by that yeah, just get along Whatever happens, just agree with each other. A bit like what you were saying about the situation in the C of E, where it's just like let's try and avoid conflict at all costs. That's clearly not what Paul's saying. So it'd be good to maybe get into that a little bit and talk about well, what does he actually mean by saying agree in the Lord? You know, does that mean we sort of have to find some sort of middle ground? Does that mean one of us has to back down? What's going on? And where I landed with that?

Cooper:

And I think you see that in the stressing of immediately before the passage he talks about reminding them your citizenship is in heaven, and at the end of Eudian Syntiqui, that little bit he says remember, your names are written in the book of life. So there's that sort of book ending where he's trying to lift their eyes above their present disagreement and say look, you're both on the same team, you both want the same things. Therefore, agreeing in the Lord is something to do with recognizing how amazing it is that the riches that you have in Christ mean that you don't have to need certain preferential things from other people you already have. You already have Christ, you already have incredible wealth there. And once you realize that, it tends to take the heat out of those arguments about getting your way over preferences, I think that's sort of, if my reading is right, that's where it goes.

Cary:

I think that's right. There's something here about wisdom. But before we get there, I think what you were saying there made me think about the rampant individualism which has crept in over the last 500 years. I don't want to throw this at 20th century America and social media.

Cary:

Yeah, I really do think that people are much more concerned for their own consciences and their own spiritual purity and their own preferences, and neglecting the fact that this isn't about you, it never was about you. Even though you are infinitely loved and infinitely valuable, it's still not about you. It's both about the church and it's about the triune God.

Cooper:

Yes, the church has the body of Christ. Yeah, exactly, I think that's right, although, again, I think you mentioned two things in the same sentence there, which is your spiritual purity and your personal preferences. I would argue that you would maybe relate to those two things in a slightly different way, because if we are talking issues of, say, sexual purity, for example, I would argue that is what we might call a kind of a first order issue which is worth confrontation over. I don't think we should say about that, let's just all get along, let's agree to disagree or whatever. I think that is one area where Paul, particularly case in point, is very clear Well, there's actually a moral wound in here at the kingdom and therefore, if that is a view that's come into your church, by whatever means, you need to fight. You do need to fight over that. You can't just be saying, oh, it's no biggie, because actually people's eternal destination is at stake there.

Cary:

Yeah, and therefore I think what we need, unfortunately, is wisdom, discernment, wisdom. What kind of disagreement is this? Is this a doctrinal issue, which means that we need to change our doctrinal basis because we now have discovered that our theological conviction is an error? Or is this a matter of practice and worship that some people think is helpful and others think is unhelpful? And so there's that level of distinction. And, whilst we're about it, there's then that distinction about what we mean by unity, so what you need to be united over as a congregation, even within a denomination.

Cary:

So, although we are a Church of England congregation, my congregation holds to a complementarian view, which I know people in America think. Complementarism is just a milk toast easy way to egalitarianism. You should be patriarchal, not complementarian. Okay, blah, blah, blah. Fine, that's one for another podcast, but we are quite hopefully clear that it is for men to lead and to preach. So we don't have women preaching. We don't have female ordained senior clergy. Whether we'd have a female deacon or not, I don't know, but again, what we would have, and within the Church of England there is provision for that for those who have an egalitarian view and those who have a complementarian view, but in terms of those who believe in penal substitutionary atonement and those who don't. Well, no, that's pretty much baked in to everything we do and say as a Church and has been since we were founded in the 16th century. So if you don't believe that, then we've got a serious problem. Therefore, if you.

Cary:

But then again, so there's that doctrinal thing, but there are ways in which we tend to order ourselves as a congregation and there are ways that other churches do, and we can still be united as Anglicans. But we wouldn't necessarily go to each other's church services. We could be have, you know, often we have greater unity as conservative evangelicals with Baptists and with members of the FIEC and nonconformist denominations. But we would have a problem where, you know, we wouldn't just sort of swap elders necessarily, or we wouldn't. Again, within Baptism. Obviously the Church of England has a Peter Baptist view and so we would have to respectfully negotiate that. But we can still enjoy unity despite not having the same church polity or governance. But it seems that we have very much gone for the one size fits all. Either we agree on everything in every way or we don't, and we're trying to avoid that minor disagreement or just saying that it doesn't matter where some do, some don't, but we have a horrible time discerning because we lack wisdom.

Cary:

The Beepbanks and the Beep-Peeps Great, great tall blonde geek with glasses Good drama. Great, look, good drama. Yeah, fine, he died. He died in a bizarre gardening accident.

Cooper:

Yeah, and what occurred to me as you were talking, there is presumably, if there was somebody in your congregation who was suddenly became heaven forbid, a convinced creed of Baptists. I imagine that maybe some of them would just be oh, this is still my church. As long as they're happy to have me, I'm delighted to be here. But there might be others who would say, yeah, do you know what? I think I probably do need to go to a different church and I would say, well, that's fine. I mean, that's certainly better than causing division in your congregation where you are. But what's interesting is people would take that stand and I think that reasonable stand where it comes to baptism, but when it comes to sexual stuff, people disagree with the historic teaching of Anglicanism and they go yeah, I'm still going to stay and I'm going to really fight for this. I'm going to cause division over it rather than just going yeah, do you know what? I do see how this differs from 500 years of Anglican history.

Cary:

I should probably go and nearly 2000 years of church tradition and church violence and everything.

Cooper:

It's just amazing that people have that level of kind of arrogance to do that really.

Cary:

But anyway, yeah, I think that's completely fair, I think that's valid and you're right. There are, and again, more distinctions here. I am a member of a congregation which teaches something that right now I don't think I'm fully signed up to. Now the Church of England doesn't technically have a church membership. And go back to our brilliant episode with Jonathan Liebman Brilliant because he's brilliant and that's incredibly articulate. Again, what you require of a church member, what you require of a deacon or an elder, what you require of, in our case, a bishop, would and should be different. But again, we don't want to make those distinctions for some reason. I think it is because we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I think that's it.

Cooper:

I think it's the confrontation problem, and perhaps this is a peculiarly British problem in lots of ways. Maybe this is why Anglicanism has this particular thing, but I do think there is. I mean, this is one of my points when I was talking about you, oda and Sinterke, last Sunday, was that are we willing to actually step into a situation where, when we see a brother or a sister who are at odds with each other, will we actually confront them on it In a loving way, of course, just as Paul does? But are we willing to do it? I mean, some of the most transformative moments in my Christian life for the better have been when somebody was brave enough to call me on something and say actually, as happened to me many years ago now, I don't think you're behaving in a loving way here, and we need other people to help us see who we are. We just need somebody to do that sometimes.

Cooper:

And so it is a question of do we love people enough to be able to maybe risk a person, our friendship with them, because we know it might go south if we raise this issue. But do we love the body of Christ, as it were? We love Christ even more than maybe we love our own personal relationship in that situation and I want to be at pains to point out there are obviously some people and we all know who they are in every congregation who just love confrontation, are always spoiling for a fight. Those people I said on Sunday I'm not actually talking to you right now. If that's you, you probably need to butt out a little bit. But if it's not you, if you're a typical British person, maybe this is one area where we ought to think that the loving thing may be confrontation rather than just keeping quiet.

Cary:

Yeah, yeah.

Cooper:

But again, your point wisdom. It takes wisdom to work out what you need to speak into, because there's also a proverb, isn't there? It's the glory of a king to overlook a fault. So how do we decide, all right, what faults need to be overlooked and which faults actually really do threaten the unity of the body?

Cary:

Yeah, and God in his divine forbearance has passed over our former sins. God is endlessly patient, but even when his patience ends, it still continues in some strange way, because obviously it culminates in the cross of Christ. But, yeah, there's wisdom on the part of everyone. That's needed, isn't there? Do I say this word now to this person in the situation? And you're right. I mean, I'm sure there are times I can't think of any specifically, but I know they've happened where someone's just said to me huh, you said that, and I don't think that's right.

Cary:

In fact, I had somebody the other day, after I did my water into wine show, who said I had to leave, I couldn't, I just didn't feel, I felt, I just didn't feel right, didn't sit right with me. It felt like it because it to them it's. It's what I call stand up theology. So it's like a stand up show, but I'm talking exclusively pretty much about the bible and particularly john's gospel and the seven signs in john. And you know, I said to him, I said what I'm trying to do is make people Think aren't these miracles wonderful? Aren't they even more wonderful than I'd first realized? And isn't christ the most wonderful King who comes, who will bring aged wine and swallow up death forever. According to isai 25 spoilers, that's where the show lands, but I could totally relate to the fact that this person just thought that the way I was going about it was inappropriate and they were from a relatively Traditional, old fashioned christian background and therefore I can totally see that it would seem rather sophisticated and not in a good way.

Cary:

So I kind of welcome the challenge because it just made me think, am I okay with this? Is there anything in this? And I said to him at the time. I said I'm so grateful you said that because I don't get it very often and actually that is more of a concern for me on time wise, isn't that a? That is a concern, I think. I'm sure some people aren't fine with it, but I have had one or two bits of pushback and I think they've been entirely Valid. But also I would say to him I don't blame you for leaving. I think that's probably the right thing and there is a live streaming version is available and I will put a link to that in the show notes. If you want to get hold of it in exchange for a small amount of money and you can judge for yourself. But if you just would rather not go down that road, I think that's completely fine and I don't think that.

Cooper:

Yes, I think you've touched on a good category there to be thinking of, which is the.

Cary:

Which is my comedy career. Yeah, I think that's a good.

Cooper:

Yeah, let's discuss that more get into that the right, some wrongs of that, but I'm thinking more of the weaker brother syndrome yeah, so example dude comes to your church has happened to me sort of five, ten years ago now, and we all knew that he was recovering alcoholic and we were in the habit of having our socials at the local pub. Well, nobody else had a problem with it. They were like, you know, freedom in Christ, course we can have a beer, nobody's getting drunk. But we decided, okay, well, just for the sake of this one guy who's just joined the church and clearly wants to be joining the socials, let's meet somewhere else. And I think again, that's that's an issue of wisdom. So it would have been wrong in that situation, I think, to have insisted on our preferences.

Cary:

And it also would have been wrong for this person to have insisted that you changed the venue In order that this person could come, because this is very much their problem, as it were, and they don't need to say well, I think you're Either ungodly for even drinking in a pub, because don't you know where that leads. Well, actually, it doesn't necessarily lead to where it did lead for this person.

Cooper:

Donica Babshot, the very least it's us.

Cary:

But then the second place, that the second grounds is you should change what you're doing because of my tender conscience. How very dare you not consider my own conscience and I think that is at the heart of a number of church disputes which is you seem okay with this and I'm not. I would like to bend the church to my own conscience. Yeah, involuntarily, rather than. This is something that you do with joy, and again, it's just, it's always a reciprocal thing. It always has to be Christ centred and for the and for the glory of the church, and not just so that someone stops complaining or that we've ticked the box that says. Scripture says we have to do this and we've done it, we've done it. Now, happy, it's like. No, that's not a. That's not how we do church, is it?

Cooper:

yeah, yeah, the system only works if you are both saying after you know, after you, after you know. It only works. If you do that, if one of you is insisting on your preferences, then, yeah, it's a disaster yeah.

Cooper:

How much of what we disagree about in church is disputable, disputable matters. It was interesting. We will talk about this for those of you who are patrons. If you want to become a patron or you want to become a subscriber to kubernetes plus, just hit the subscribe button in apple podcast and you can join this discussion to. After we do the standard length episode, we do an extended, but nothing will talk some more. A little bit about Some of the feedback we got from our patrons on our discord server about reasons why people had fallen out in their churches. It seemed as if I don't know what you thought, james, but it looked to me as if most of those were issues of. They were disputable matters. They were personal preference things rather than huge doctrinal, chunky disagreements over, I don't know, the Trinity or whatever. It just tends to be stuff like no, I don't think that the piano store should be there, it should be over there. You know, it's that kind of stuff really.

Cary:

Yeah, it is quite depressing in that sense, and I guess that shows a real, well, lack of discipleship, I guess, isn't it? I mean, that's what it comes down to. It is a lack of Christian maturity that sees, that sees our own worshiping preferences as being more significant than they necessarily Are. I think is it because you know you could make a case that you're going to die on a hill for the regulative principle and that we shouldn't even have instruments To with which to worship, because the New Testament does not expressly commend the use of instruments. Now, we've we have done an episode on that. Go back and find it and if it's not freely available, again join us on patreon and you can listen back to an extended version of our Real pearls of wisdom on that. I'm sure. Absolute gold theologically speaking.

Cary:

But I guess, in one sense, if you don't like the use of instruments, you know not to go to that church to begin with, and you're going to have to seek out some incredibly Calvinistic tiny little chapel that's probably attended by nine people. Yeah, and that's fine. It's not for me to say that the regulative principle is utter nonsense. I think there's, I think it is defensible, even though I don't agree with it. But but if you change your view, whilst being a member of a congregation, you want to bear in mind that other people don't agree with you, but also that this may just be a preference issue and this may be something over which you can actually have the joy of bearing with others and going without. Now, when you, when you love your children and you go without something so that they could eat, you do it with joy. You know kids get hungry regularly and if you've not brought enough food with you, you're just going to give the food to your kids, and you would. You wouldn't even think about doing anything else, would you, barry?

Cooper:

No, I would never steal a child's yogurt pouch from them. No, I would never do something like that. I would never do something like that.

Cary:

No, no, no, I'm sure you haven't, but you get. The point I'm making is that it is actually a joy to give.

Cary:

It's quite a thing, by the way, but yes, yeah, I agree with you, it is a joy yogurt, depending on giving up certain things for the sake of those that you love. Now, it's not going against your conscience not to eat, so I get that. So this is very much a preference issue. But I guess, on the theological issue, if you change your mind on something, then again this is something that should be done slowly, prayerfully, thoughtfully and in consultation with with others.

Cary:

In your church there's a. There's a wise old man in my church. He's a very experienced pastor and Bible teacher and I check in with him regularly and say I've just read this, I've just thought about this, how is that anything, is that something? And he's normally very like oh yeah, no, that's a, that's a. That's a really interesting area to go down and there might be one or two things. We'll just say, hmm, I've always thought that's a bit of a dead end theologically speaking. I'm not sure that ends well and I'm like, oh, ok, well, that's, that's helpful to know that and so. But whereas I think there's that temptation that the moment I change my mind I demand the congregation and the entire denomination to have a different view, yeah, and this is where we have a membership vow.

Cooper:

When people want to become a member, they will. They will start. They've been through our discovery class for six weeks. They will then stand on the platform with me and I will read out the membership vows, one of which is you vowed to protect the peace and the purity of this church. Wow, that means and this is explained in the discovery class I mean, if you suddenly, for example, decide that you are Peter Baptist, it's totally fine, we're not going to revoke your membership. But what it does mean is that you can't then go around to other members of the congregation proselytizing that view or in Bible studies saying, well, this is my view and I think this is the correct view, but our leadership man, they just don't get this baptism stuff Like that's not okay. And if you were doing that, then you would. You would if it really got. You know, when push came to shove, it would come to removing you from membership because that's part of the vow and I just don't think it's doable otherwise.

Cooper:

Now, I do think there is an asymmetry here in terms of what we, that the kind of difference of opinion that I think is perfectly acceptable in the congregation and a and the kind of doctrinal difference, that same doctrinal difference in the ministry team who are leading a church, is catastrophic, I think. Because, again, I mean, imagine if one week I'm teaching creed of baptism and the next week Larry's teaching Peter baptism. Well, that's just a disaster for everybody and you're going to have factions. So I think it's important to keep those two things in mind. There's a kind of you can take doctrinal issue with your brother and sister in Christ some of them anyway and still remain a member in good standing. But if you're on the ministry team, then I think yeah, then it gets tricky, doesn't it?

Cary:

Or even a member of the House of Bishops of the Church of England, where there are now two different views, and I think the the great disaster is the fact that I think there is a desire to do that, not only to do the wrong thing, but to do the wrong thing in the wrong way.

Cary:

And so what? Those of us who hold the Orthodox historic view although now the word Orthodox is being challenged Orthodox and historic, both of those are being challenged we're not allowed to claim that our view is the biblical one, because there are there is some disagreement on that. I don't think it's a particularly credible disagreement, and you and no strong theological case has been made for why the Church of England has gotten this wrong for literally centuries and all of the early church fathers were wrong and all that kind of stuff. We're not allowed to say it's historic because apparently in the medieval church the idea of marriage itself was not blah, blah, blah, blah. And the fact that our view is the Orthodox view and that the new viewers are not Orthodox, well, that's just ridiculous and you go, you know, talk about the battle over the dictionary.

Cooper:

Well, I think a lot of that is. I've just been watching the Hillsong documentary and it's extraordinary how basically the critique in Episode 1 amounts to. These people at Hillsong have basically taught the sexual morality that the church has held for 2000 years and I'm shocked and outraged that they would do such a thing, and it's like it's just total biblical illiteracy, isn't it?

Cary:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That only says something about you. It doesn't really say anything. Say what you like about Hillsong and people do. That's not yeah. That's not the one thing to yeah to get them on, should you so be minded. But I think what is frustrating is that if the Church of England needs to change the doctrine of holy matrimony, which we are being reassured isn't being done, but to anybody who is a casual observer witnessing what would be the use of prayers of love and faith, which would look an awful lot like a wedding. In fact, some of the prayers themselves are adapted from the from the marriage service, the author. But it's not a wedding, you said, james. It's important to make that distinction, isn't it?

Cooper:

That distinction is important, yeah.

Cary:

Yeah, and you will hear bishops regularly do that and say we're not changing the doctrine of holy matrimony. And you have to read these prayers very carefully to see what they're actually saying and what they're not saying. Well, that may be one thing. What they're saying and not saying, what impression they're giving and how they will be used is obviously very different. But I think I think what those of us with a historic Orthodox and biblical view are trying to do is to say can we please do this the right way? And the right way is to refer it to the liturgical commission if we're going to change our liturgy and if we're going to change our theology, and that will require a two thirds majority within all three houses of the general synod in order to change the cannons and change it, and so obviously the progressives would say well, this is just a blocking motion, isn't it? To which, on one level, you go. Well, yeah, because you won't get the votes. I know you won't get the votes, but secondly, if you're going to do the wrong thing, don't do the wrong thing the wrong way. There is a process to changing our view theologically on something. Now the Church of England hasn't really done it. We still essentially, theoretically, believe what we believed in the 1560s and the 1660s, and for some people that's a problem and I understand the reasons for that. But there is a process for doing this properly. Can we please go through that process rather than? Here are some optional prayers that can be used and will smash the unity of a local parish church, because the Vicar will use them and half the PCC say they shouldn't, or the Vicar will refuse to use them and half the PCC say they should, and they're shocked at the homophobia of their, you know, of their incumbent and so forth. So all the House of Bishops are doing and if I'd been called in the debate to speak I would have said this all the House of Bishops are doing is pushing division down to the congregations so you can fight it out and literally rip pieces out of each other. And a local activist group will call the press and say we tried to have our gay wedding in the church and they said no, even though apparently we're allowed, which in itself is not even true. So that's not what the current thing is. So anyway, that's just a brief Church of England daybarkle sidebar to this.

Cary:

But what it demonstrates is if there is theological disagreement. That's where it leads. And I guess the last comment on this is they sometimes, you know, say that the Church of England is a broad church, and in one sense they're right. In another sense it's not right. We are a reformed Catholic denomination and the 39 articles and what is said and not said in our creeds and formularies and ordinances is pretty clear.

Cary:

So, and what I mean by that is to say, where should the Vicar stand at the Eucharist? Either behind the table, in which case it looks like he's representing God. Should he stand in front of the congregation, in front of the table, thereby representing the congregation, or to the side of the table, where he is neither one nor the other, but in some senses he's representing himself as an intermediary. Well, there are theological problems with all three of those and there are theological justifications for all three of them, and I think what the Church of England does well is it says well, actually there's a case for all of them, given our view, our distinctive view about what the Eucharist is and is not. But the idea that we can just pick and choose what we actually believe and teach really isn't up for grabs, I don't think.

Cary:

And so I think the breadth of the Church of England is being used as a way to say well, here are some prayers you may or may not want to use. There are other prayers other people may or may not use, and that's all fine too. It's all part of the same thing. No, it isn't. Yeah, it really isn't. Cooper and Cary killed the radio star. Sorry about that Entirely unintentional Apologies.

Cooper:

I sometimes feel like we're more prepared to break fellowship over preferences than we are over doctrine, because when we're reading these stories from Fox's Book of Martyrs, we're like what are you doing? What, really? That's the hill you're going to die on, literally. Yeah, you know, we don't understand, like we haven't really no concept for a doctrine that goes so deep and is so important to us that we would ever die for it, whereas you know color of the carpet in the vestibule. Now you're talking. It's odd, that isn't it? We've really flipped everything. What's that about? Is that again just biblical illiteracy? That we don't see where these sorts of doctrines lead, that we don't really believe in heaven and hell? I mean, what's going on? I don't know.

Cary:

Well, I guess part of it is the distorting effect of history and the stuff that gets written down is the outlier rather than the regular, I suppose. But you're right.

Cooper:

I think so. It seems extremely maybe yeah.

Cary:

But as you were speaking there about the wrong carpet in the vestibule or whatever, it did make me think not only will you not fight for doctrine, but if you're prepared to gossip and so division over the wrong colored carpet, that's even more breathtaking is it will be better if you left over the color of the carpet, then for you to stay and cause division over it. It would be better for you to have a millstone put around your neck and be. But it's true, isn't it? It's like what I disagree now. So I get to now gossip and slander and impugn motives because I'm pretty sure I'm right on this and actually the the toxicity of that disagreement again, because it's not got the body of Christ at the heart of it. Are you really going to justify Poor behavior and sin because of your perception of how the church fabric should be?

Cooper:

Yeah, and it's back to your point about the incredible individualism of people as they come into churches. They just don't have a category for kind of communal Living, communal unity. It is so individualistic and like you have to think, I don't know. I mean you have to think that's got worse, hasn't it over the years? I don't mean that's a, it's a cliche, but I think that is true and I guess things like social media and the after democratization of things on the internet is only made that more of an issue. It seems to me.

Cary:

I think it has gotten really bad. But equally, we're seeing a counter revolution, counter reformation with the folks, and I'd be interested to know Some numbers. I suspect they are really very, very small but those who are embracing A much more inconvenient form of worship in terms of Eastern Orthodoxy and those things that place extremely high demands On on your discipleship and in order to join the church you have to attend classes for a year, two years, you have to do this, you have to go through that, all those sorts of things. Whereas you know we do, we do slip up into easy believers and quite quickly, if you can say these words believe in your heart then, then you're in. We are hearing stories of people discovering inconvenient worship, which I think is interesting, but I'm not sure it's the cultural phenomenon that's possibly being it's been touted as. Do you think?

Cooper:

Yeah, it. Well, it does seem to me anecdotally that there is, especially post covid, there's a real hunger for personal Community interaction, physical presence. I do think that is happening and I think you know an increasing dissatisfaction with things like live streaming as some sort of satisfactory substitute for actually being at church, particularly interestingly among younger folks. I think I'm that is totally anecdotal on my part, but it just feels as if there is the pendulum is maybe swinging back the other way and people are beginning to see. Oh yeah, I've really felt mentally ill during the covid period of isolation. What's the antidote to that? Well, you already have the church. Maybe that the clues in there somewhere.

Cooper:

So I'm hoping that that will lead to something of a nice answer of yeah, let's really. Let's not simply live for my own personal comfort but actually put myself out for the sake of our own and also for the sake of me as well. I mean, there is this weird thing of thinking well, if I just insist on my personal preferences, it will make me happy. And of course you know Paul's. Paul's reasoning in Philippians for is listen, if you can't rejoice that your names are written in the book of life, then winning an argument with someone over preferences that's not going to do it either.

Cary:

And also your preferences are going to change. Your preferences are pretty arbitrary. There is much to do with what you are brought up with, both in terms of what you would like more of or what you're reacting against, and, and when you're older, your preferences will probably change again. So the idea that your preferences are king and it is a form of that kind of hyper charismatic feelings, led stuff where God must be angry with me because I don't feel spiritual, which I know. I'm not saying that this is a sin of continuationism or continuationist feel that at all, but there there is that sense of Temporiness of our feelings and preferences, whereas and again, this is why I've become more and more Anglican, the longer I've been a member of the general synod, you know you've changed man. I've changed is the fact that over hundreds of years, someone's thought about this quite a lot and over multiple generations, people have said actually, we found that the best way of doing is this way and what that gives us is this, this and this.

Cary:

What you obviously lose is that, that and that, and that's all fine too, but again there's a very much Whenever, I think we've said this before, there's this, there's this quote. We've never been able to find this that Carl Truman quotes from somebody else, that all of the heresies of the church come about because of mission. He's quoting some somebody that I don't quite know what it is. Yeah, but as the church of England does become much more mission minded, it really is a different ball game to what it felt like even seven, eight years ago, in terms of New worshiping communities and all that kind of stuff. There's an awful lot of presumptions about what unbelievers would, would like. They need to understand, they need to do this. They don't know what's going on, they when actually some would like a sense of transcendence, some would like a sense of, yeah, worshiping community.

Cary:

That I need to learn about otherness, otherness yeah, this, this liturgy is strange and unfamiliar to me, and I would like to get to know it and therefore be able to recite it, rather than essentially something bigger than me. Yeah, yeah there is a really good way of putting it, isn't it? And I know we probably feel slightly differently about liturgy, but there are those who say that it's a bit like dancing you know, you learn to do it so that when you can do it you don't need to think about it, you can.

Cary:

As opposed to, you know, bopping away to music where you don't really know what you're doing and you don't really improve over time.

Cooper:

We recite the apostles creed every single week with the Lord supper, yeah and yeah. I couldn't agree more, because you are internalizing it and it just becomes learning how to dance yeah, yeah.

Cary:

Where have we gotten to on this, do you think?

Cooper:

I think your point about wisdom is a really good one. There are, there ought to be, things that we are willing to if we're pastors and elders, things that we ought to be willing to put people out of membership because of. Similarly, if we are in the congregation, there are certain doctrinal beliefs that we may hold, and we hold them so passionately that it might be right for us to leave that church and go somewhere else. Note, not stay in that church and so discontent. So I think that's important. Wisdom comes in. Knowing the difference between this is just my personal preference and actually this is a serious doctrinal issue.

Cary:

That's the worst there's probably a follow on episode, which is how to leave your church, or should I leave my church? I think we get occasional emails about that.

Cooper:

Yeah, I think we did an episode on that at some point. Oh wow, that's going a long way back.

Cary:

But I think the thing that people might find surprising is how much a pastor would like to leave on good terms and be able to essentially write a letter of introduction to another pastor Not just introduction but recommendation. So if one of your congregation becomes a Peter Baptist, you know I've changed my conviction to Peter baptism. I've got kids coming and also maybe I'd like to move house anyway or something like that I'd like. So we're going to go to another church and it's going to be a presbyterian church.

Cooper:

Man, I love those, I love those conversations, I love those. What I, what I really dislike is when people just silently, just kind of drift away and they don't tell you what's going on, or worse, they they start. Yeah, so it's so in this content because of some view they've got.

Cary:

Yeah, but it would be helpful if somebody comes to your congregation from somewhere else. Yeah that their pastor picks up the phone or send you an email just to say, oh, have you met some Simon and Sally? Yet they're just coming. They were great members of congregation, they, they changed their view and they're now credo Baptists. And you know, obviously we weren't a good home for them for that, and but we wish them well, that's the way it should work, isn't it?

Cooper:

I mean, that's the way it should work and that is unity, yeah, isn't it?

Cary:

I mean, that's not actually schism, that is unity for which the the New Testament gives it gives justification. So you, dear, and syndicate, need to be of the same mind of the Lord. They don't need to agree with each other, but they do need to be of the same mind of the Lord. And I think that's the thing that people find really hard to understand is, the religions of the world Demand total obedience and conformity and, especially in today's cancel culture, the moment you don't seem to believe in the shibboleths that we now have in the sacred cows, you, you're out, you're gone, you have to leave the church isn't like that, nor should it be.

Cooper:

No, and the word of the episode is shibboleths.

Cary:

Oh, that's shibboleths.

Cooper:

I think that's probably quite a good place to draw stumps, don't you think? I think it is. We're going to stick around, james and I, and have a little chat with our patrons. So if you want to join that merry band, follow the link in the show notes or hit subscribe in Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, james, I think that's probably it you can write to us, kubrencarry at gmailcom. Otherwise, god willing, we hope to be back again in two weeks time, so cheerio.

Cary:

Bye, bye, oh yeah, but I'm still very much Church of England. It's like, well, I don't think you are really. Yeah, I think you've made a church in your own image and then not gone to it. I think that's the worst thing, isn't it.

Cooper:

II became a big half world.

Disagreements in the Church and Unity
(Cont.) Disagreements in the Church and Unity
Unity and Differences in Church Congregations
Church Disputes and Doctrinal Differences
Theological Disagreement and Worship Preferences
Unity and Beliefs in the Church