This week I was listening to BBC 5live and there was an amazing interview in the wake of the CofE vote to allow women to be Bishops. Richard Bacon was interviewing a conservative Canon who felt deeply betrayed by the decision and Bacon asked him why he objected. After a few words on tradition that Bacon gently challenged the Canon stated, about the fact the Women should not occupy this position, that 'we know the mind of Christ' on the matter. Bacon was audibly taken aback by this amazing statement and asked something like 'sorry, you are saying you know exactly what Christ thinks about this?'. He continued by pointing out that the very office of Bishop only arose after Christ. Yet the Canon was adamant that he 'knew the mind of Christ'.
Now I guess I kind of admire the single minded and sure place of the Canon but I, like Bacon and probably many millions of listeners was disturbed by the absence of humility and open acknowledgement of interpretation and 'faith' that lay behind this statement. It was not in anyway provisional and so sounded almost tyrannical. Worse still it did not see tyranny in its own construct, its obvious complexity and its vulnerability to being used as a tool of oppression. The saddest thing was that the bearer of this position did not take responsibility for all this, for his interpretation and its potential, but all the images of tyranny that it conjured were projected not even onto the church but straight into the very mind of Christ. Whether or not one agrees with the Canon on who can be a Bishop surely this is dangerous stuff.
I don't think I can ever 'posses' the mind of Christ but I am, by the spirit, possessed by Christ. That's very different. In 1 Cor 2 Paul does say v16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. Wow but I see Paul says we 'have' not 'know' - it is not ours to instruct God - how crazy, proud and ultimately self destructive for all of us would that be. So what is it to 'have' the mind of Christ, it seems to be about being indwelt by the Holy Spirit v10-12 The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
So for me all this 'knowing the mind of Christ' might better be knowing/communing with God in me to understanding just what God has gifted me (which is perhaps a very different emphasis to telling someone else what God has not gifted them). Interestingly in the very next lines of his letter Paul begins to address divisions in the Corinthian church. The 'jealously and quarrelling' that have arisen from them still thinking and acting in a worldly way using their facts as power over another rather than thinking 'spirit'ualy . Craziness, we are the temple where God's spirit lives, how can we even think of violating one another.
Actually, says Paul, don't ever claim to wise at all - be fools - Ch3 v 18Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
So perhaps it would be better to lay down this anti wisdom of 'I know' and take up the fool's cap. Acknowledging that for now we see in part and that our call is to continuously seek by faith after an obvious oxymoron - the understanding of the unimaginable gift of God. And this seeking is not just in thought but in deed. And in so doing we may, in a very humble way, on 5 Live and everyday, be able to point people beyond our own straw Gods to Christ.
Phil 2 v5-8 (NKJ) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
I am sure that in the background of my mind behind this post is not just the affable ex Blue Peter Mr Bacon but also the great book I just finished by Pete Rollins - 'How (not) to Speak of God' - buy it, its great, heck I'll buy it for you if you want.