Monday, 1 May 2017
The Christian Family Tree
With Palm Sunday being celebrated last Sunday, we are now in Holy Week with the anticipation of the Great Triduum; The Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. I know this actually is four days but that Religion for you. But actually, it is counted from the evening of the Maundy Thursday service, with the foot washing, to the end of the Great Vigil Saturday evening in which the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour is celebrated with the return of the light of Christ to the world. It recalls the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. This is the foundational story of Christianity.
I was reminded of how important this is to us when I attended a session on a class on Luther a few weeks ago. Lorna is taking that class at Huron University College, Luther: Love Him? Loath Him? Learn from Him, which commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I audited the class on that occasion being April 1st as we were in London to celebrate my birthday (yes, I am an April Fool and am proud of it).
The professor, Murray Watson, who is a very engaging teacher, provided a hand out entitled, The Christian Family Tree compiled by Rev. Nathan L. Bostian. This diagram has Jesus Christ as the “root and foundation” with all the major branches of Christianity which have sprung up in the two thousand years since then. It has all the main branches which we are familiar with including the Anglican dated in 1536. It gives the Denomination rating with such things as “T” for Use of Tradition, “W” for Style of Worship and “S” for Structure with a scale from 1 to 10 for each. Anglicans are rated T4 with 1 begin conservative in tradition and 10 being liberal; W2 for with 1 being sacramental and 10 experimental; and S2 with the range between hierarchical and congregational. This seems to be fairly accurate for Anglicans. Of course there is a great range of difference between Anglo-Catholics and whatever the opposite is within the Anglican Church. But overall it is a reasonable rating. I can’t speak for the rating for other denominations but I sure there is similar variation within each denomination similar.
The thing that strikes me as I look at the chart is the diversity that has developed in the way we humans can decide to worship our God or gods. We all believe we have basically the correct understanding of whom and what God is and the way God should be worshiped. This is true for atheists who have their own god in my view (I leaned in grade 9 math that even a null set is a sub set of a factor) i.e. even non-belief is belief in something.
I am not absolutely certain of many things about God but I am sure that Jesus Christ did not have any idea, despite being fully divine (I’m not absolutely certain about that), that what he started would end up where it is today. Being a good Jew he likely did not anticipate there being a new Religion named after him or at least after his title of Christ.
I believe if we are to be at all true to what Jesus wants us to be we must focus on the root of who we are as Christians which is Jesus Christ. If we all have this in common we should not worry so much about the differences in doctrine and liturgy. That being said I am glad I have found the “one true faith” of Anglicanism which can worship God along with the other true Christian faiths.
To all my brothers and sisters in Christ have a blessed Holy Week and Great Triduum.