Peter Storey: God and Caesar

Some of my mucking about in the ChurchQuake stuff brought me to this talk by Peter Storey, who you may have heard of as a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa as part of the South African Methodist Church. The talk is to the Florida chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

His talk theorizes that Sept. 11 damaged the nerve and will of the church in the United States. “The church held the nation’s hand, but the politicians made up the nation’s mind.”

He talks about the church’s “balance of payments” problem with the culture around it.

He offers an interpretation of John Wesley that I’m not sure holds up entirely, but it is quite an interesting portrait and argument.

He argues that if our church insists on locating itself with the comfortable and the middle class, we cannot be surprised if we cease to have a prophetic voice.

He says the church is only the church when it is engaging the world. All the rest is just preparation.

I am going to steal borrow his line about church and lunch hour at some point in the near future.

He talks about several interesting things in interesting ways.

He ends by arguing the church should spend a year wrestling with these four issues:

1) Wealth, poverty, and the gospel

2) Violence, non-violence, war, and peace

3) The issue of flag and altar

4) Inclusion and exclusion (or what is the meaning of the word “all.”)

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10 thoughts on “Peter Storey: God and Caesar

  1. That’s the issue with the whole focus on sexuality. It’s about middle class self-congratulation. If my only responsibility to the world is to keep it in my pants until I get married, there’s a whole lot of love your neighbor I’ve been exempted from. Wesley was scandalized when his movement turned into middle class self-congratulation.

    1. I understand your point, Morgan, but I did not just organize and host a national gathering at which a bunch of bishops stood up and declared sexual freedom as a doctrinal imperative. I’d be happy to talk about something else.

        1. Anyway FWIW just keep in mind that from the Church Quakers’ perspective, what they’re doing is no different than Luther or Calvin defying the pope. You can of course disagree with that, but the Protestant Reformers weren’t exactly reasonable and polite in how they handled their revolt. Luther didn’t submit his theses as a resolution at an ecumenical council. I’ve been reading a book called the Theological Origins of Modernity recently. Luther really could have taken a much less abrasive tact than he did. Because we’re Protestants, we just have to say that whatever he did was fine and acceptable, but he was way more of a fiery loose cannon than I’ve ever been. He wrote a whole book about how Erasmus was actually Satan incarnate. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to give him some credit for the intensity of vitriol that spurred the deadly religious wars that broke out in his wake. In any case, when people are convinced that the church institution has been messed up enough to merit absolute revolution, they write and act like Luther did. Some people are convinced of that now. I respect that, though I take the position of trying to articulate my disagreements clearly while honoring the process of the communion that I ultimately hope to join in my ordination. Just as Ananias said, God will show us what is of God and what is of man. I can only try my best to listen to Him and be obedient to what I hear.

        2. Each of us can only do what we believe is faithful to God and be willing to suffer for our convictions.

  2. The focus on sexuality is two fold: One, Scripture spends a lot of time warning against sexual immorality and therefore we should speak at least as much about the topic as it’s writers did and second, it’s being forced upon the church from those who wish to see changes in how we interpret sexual immorality.

    (btw, what did this post have to do with sexuality, anyway? Did I miss something?)

    1. His last point about inclusion and my reference to hire I found the video, but most of it was about other issues.

  3. All I want to add here is that UNMASKING the darkness is good subversive gospel (Ephesians 5:10-11), and John does it well in these blog posts.

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