Our Calling is Not Our Own
In recent news, the Episcopal Church in Michigan welcomed it’s first female leader, Bonnie Perry. Perry, who is both a woman and a lesbian, was raised Catholic, but eventually realized that she could not fit into Catholic ministry based on her “calling” and who she is as a person. So, as has happened with many before, she left the Church and became an Episcopalian. Her and her “spouse” (another woman who is ordained in the United Church of Christ), have reportedly been together for 31 years and are both active in ministry. As one would correctly assume, Perry is a firm supporter of same-sex marriage in the church and will certainly use whatever power she has to steer the Episcopal ship toward modernism and away from tradition. Luckily for her, the Episcopal Church has abandoned almost all orthodox teaching in order to become more accessible.
The most intriguing part of this situation—to myself at least—is not the edgy, social justice laced details. It is the anomaly that Bonnie Perry, and women like her, feel so strongly called to ministry in a Christian church. After all, if someone feels called to a position in a particular religion, would it not make sense that the calling would fit the ancient teaching of that religion? Not according to new Christianity. According to new Christianity, what one feels in their “heart” (if they are a self-proclaimed Christian), is the calling they have. There is no rule of logic nor of historical authority, there is simply a feeling of a calling. From a philosophical standpoint, these types of “callings,” are highly suspicious. Emotions are a good and natural part of humanity, but they, like our senses, can also betray us. Bonnie Perry abandoned her church and tradition to match her supposed calling, which begs the question—what is a calling? How do people discerning ministry positions know that they’re not being influenced by deceitful feelings of “calling.” A feeling of a calling is nothing without an actual calling from Christ Himself, and Christ has never called women to be priests and bishops in the history of the Church. This is not to say they are not called to share in divine calling or in other forms of ministry, but it had never been pastorship until less than a century ago.
Many modernist Christians ask why an institution as “universal” as the Catholic Church could not change a couple rules to accommodate Perry’s “calling” as a woman in ministry. The answer is that the Catholic Church is not a new religion, nor is it directed by modern law. It is not ruled by modern ideologies and passing fads. It is ruled by ancient creeds and councils that are directed by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. For the record, I am not trying to single out women here. The same perimeters should be placed on men who disagree with ancient Church teaching. If they do not believe in the fundamental pieces of our faith, their calling is not to pastorship, no matter what they feel. Sadly, the teachings of the Church Fathers have been replaced with mob-rule morality in the new Christian churches, and the mob continues to choose Barabbas over Christ. When the world tells us that calling is a feeling, our first instinct should be skepticism. The Church may be in the world, but it is not of the world—in other words, our calling is not a decree of our heart, nor is it a decision we can make of our own authority. Our calling is to be found in Christ, to hold to His teaching, and to live according to the instruction of the timeless Church. If we follow our first callings first, we can be certain that our individual callings will be made apparent to us. _____________________________
“We do not change the boundaries marked out by our Fathers. We keep the Tradition we have received. If we begin to lay down the Law of the Church even in the smallest things, the whole edifice will fall to the ground in no short time.”
~St. John of Damascus
“And we, too, being called by His will to Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
~ Clement of Rome, The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians
“One should not seek among others the truth that can be easily gotten from the Church. For in her, as in a rich treasury, the apostles have placed all that pertains to truth, so that everyone can drink this beverage of life. She is the door of life.”
~ St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, III.4