What do you think?
Archbishop Peter Jensen has written a stirring, well argued, impeccably logical article entitled "The Mythical Middle."
It is completely obvious that he has another Peter in his sights. :)
Especially with his concluding sentence:
"Be careful of the Mythical Middle – it is in fact a Misleading Muddle!"
But I am wondering if ++Peter is as muddled as that other Peter.
I say that because ++Peter seems to think that a church cannot entertain lots of moderates in a middling if not muddling position. It is bound to end in disaster, seems to be the implication of what he writes.
But when he writes these words below, I feel he is an accurate, sympathetic historian of a certain church I know well, which has lasted with its over population of muddled moderates for centuries!
"In this way, you can avoid being ‘an extremist’. Of course, ‘extremist’ is such an ugly word that no one wishes to accept the label. We much prefer to have the good judgement that enables us to be in the middle of any dispute, seeing the good on both sides but not turning the argument into a matter of mutually exclusive choice between two options.Incidentally, after I drafted the above, I came across notice of this extraordinary John McArthur recipe for responding to a gay child. Is this the logical extension of ++Peter's non-muddled approach to sexuality?
Notice how the strategy of creating a false middle occurs. It appeals to the natural human desire to be supposedly rational in thought, calm, and fair. There is a belief that the truth in any matter is not at either ‘extreme’, but inevitably in the middle and if we occupy the middle ground we cannot go too far wrong.People with a product to sell often play off this instinct. They don’t offer us two sizes of coffee cup – they offer three, knowing that most of us will choose the middle and pride ourselves on being moderate. What they do not tell us is that the middle choice suits them commercially as this is where the best profit margin will be.But it is not just in buying and selling. How many times are we told even in Christian communications that we have a choice between the over-emphasis of one side and the over-emphasis of another and that if we stick to the convenient middle, all will be well? Think. What if the truth is actually on the boundary and not in the middle? What if there is no middle, but the choice is binary, and the middle is a mythical middle?For example, imagine a denomination in which some ministers teach that Jesus was a merely good man and others teach that he is both true God and true man. Where is the moderate, middle view here? Would it be to say that Jesus is divine but not fully God? We can hear all the arguments in favour of this moderate position – but we know that it is actually heretical.By using the word ‘extremist’ for those who hold a strong point of view, who make a stand, we excuse ourselves from the need to think, to make a decision, to act. Or we give ourselves permission to bless what God calls sin because it is not the most extreme form of such an activity. Or we acquiesce without protest in the activities of others doing this, in our name."
ADDED LATER: The implication of ++Peter's GAFCON piece is that churches of like pure mindedness should stick together. But, here's the thing, no Anglican church is perfectly pure. Here is a disturbing report of a GAFCON province, the Anglican Church of Kenya, being found to have sacked priests without evidence for the canonical crime for which they were assumed guilty.