Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In More Trouble Than I Thought?

One of my learnings from past blogging is to take care diving into troubles of overseas jurisdictions, especially, in my case, those concerning TEC. On the one hand I may have been obsessive about 1/38th of the Communion (not a good look). On the other hand I may have conveniently overlooked troubles in my own church - admittedly harder to comment on because sometimes I know too much to go to print about, and sometimes involving people I am likely to encounter face to face! Nevertheless I continue to write some things some of the time about TEC because that 1/38th of the Communion has much more influence over the future of the Communion as a fellowship of churches than my 1/38th part. In  such writing I try to find the "Communion angle" on the affairs of TEC and other member churches.

I have been observing in recent days an unfolding controversy involving the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Sometimes "controversy" means the standard blogs on the conservative side of things are running with some statement or action which is played out as significant, but which no one else picks up on. Recently, noticed here on ADU itself, such an action concerned a narrative of changes to the PB's Wikipedia entry and the statements made on the CV presented at the General Convention that elected her. No standard blog on the liberal/progressive side of things picked up this issue. The present unfolding controversy is quite different inasmuch as The Lead at the Episcopal Cafe is taking, well, the lead on it, and asking some hard questions of the PB. The story concerns the ordination of a man in the Diocese of Nevada when the PB was diocesan bishop there - a man (1) with a record of sexual harrassment involving youth during previous ministry in another church prior to joining the Episcopal church, (2) [correction: received as an] ordained [as] priest with a constriction placed on him [being licensed] that he not minister around youth, (3) now self-admitting many offences committed during that previous ministry. Present aspects of the story involve the possibility that current handling of the situation involves an ineptitude in media response (e.g. is the PB avoiding making a direct statement - so far she has remained silent - good communications strategy?). The most recent post of The Lead on this matter is here. Its focus question is whether transparency at the top of TEC is being exhibited.

On the face of it, the extraordinary aspect of this story is that any bishop would proceed to ordain//receive an ordained someone on whom a restriction in ministry relating to conduct around people was immediately placed. It raises significant questions about judgement, questions which are unlikely to be dispelled by a response which says the restriction was for the priest's benefit. Those questions can and should be played out within TEC's jurisdictional processes. I will not take comments on these questions - you can comment at The Lead.

But the question we can be concerned with here is whether this situation affects the leadership of the PB in two ways relating to the Communion. First, a few days ago a new canon on discipline of bishops came into effect. Some believe this new canon will be used to bring charges against the Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, because allegedly there is a case which can be brought against him for the way in which he has handled some situations involving churches leaving his diocese, permitting property to go with the departure, rather than fighting to retain it for the future ministry of TEC. To bring such charges will be of great interest to many in the Communion because +Mark is a symbol of conservative presence in TEC: to charge +Mark would look to all the Communion as though TEC has no particular commitment to the diversity it professes. But now, there is a possibility the canon could be used against the PB herself. Or will both possibilities quietly die away, the embarrassment of the latter outweighing the advantages of the former?

Secondly, future involvement of the PB in Communion affairs will expose her to media questioning. Say, for instance, the PB visits with ++Rowan in England, and afterwards there is a media conference. Journalists there will not hold back on unresolved questions. This particular question will dog her unless it is squarely faced and dealt with. So, will we see the question of past judgement fronted, or will we see the PB's leadership presence in future Communion life hampered?

I will consider comments focused on the PB's role in Communion life, and whether this unfolding story has potential or not to hamper her leadership within the Communion. I make no commitment to publish comments made and will judge each on its merits as a constructive contribution to the life of the Communion.

Addendum: the story that is not going away quickly has now been taken up by The Living Church. I have found this US journal run by Episcopalians to be responsible and careful in its approach to the Presiding Bishop.

Additional addendum (23 July 2011): I see a second suit has been brought against the Abbey where the offending took place (one can say that as the perpetrator has admitted (some) fault) and this suit alleges that the Diocese of Nevada received information such that - if this allegation is true - will be a challenge to explain away. Again, so there is no implication that this is some kind of "right-wing conservative conspiracy" type news agin the PB, check out Jim Naughton here.


Brother David said...

May I point out that Bede Parry was not ordained by +KJS. He was received, as is stated by the current Bishop of Nevada, as a previously ordained person by +KJS.

He was ordained under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Benedictine order, of which he was a professed member. He asked +KJS about reception in 2004. After whatever the Dio Nevada process involved at that time, he was finally received by +KJS as a priest in 2004.

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

I am reticent to comment here on what some would regard as this minor issue because, it seems to at least one of your anonymous commentors that I am guilty of not contributing sufficiently to what some would regard as a more major issue. However.

I am also not defending the Presiding Bishop in this case, nor really giving any opinion about this case about which I know little more than the headlines.

It is interesting that you weigh our 1/38th part of the Communion alongside TEC as a 1/38th part. We are about 1% the size of TEC. Our lack of accepting how small we are, I have said more than once, is part of our problem. The current structures of the Communion, however, have allowed us to be influential way above our size.

You write, “the extraordinary aspect of this story is that any bishop would proceed to ordain someone on whom a restriction in ministry relating to conduct around people was immediately placed”. This is incorrect. Obviously, Bede Parry was already a priest. He received a licence from Bishop Katharine and, I don’t know the details of in which way, but there was a restriction placed on him in the exercise of that licence.

Placing restrictions on the exercise of someone’s priesthood, Peter, is not at all “extraordinary” as you suggest. In our church this is done both in the actual licence given by the bishop and in the letter of offer of the position. Details may include where one may exercise one’s ministry, limits on this, instructions about supervision, retreat, lines of accountability, and even what one ought to pray when.

You may have a story here, but it is not the story of restricting priestly activity. The story would be whether in this case the particular restriction was appropriate.

Finally, to satisfy your anonymous commentor that I continue my feat of camel-swallowing, I know it’s prevalent in NZ but I really don’t like seeing “learning” used in the manner of your first sentence ;-)



Fr. J said...


Is the fact that the Church in New Zealand is "one percent the size of TEC" really relevant to the kind of influence it should have? Should Nigeria, for instance, have way more authority than all of the first world provinces combined? If we're going strictly by average Sunday attendance, it would seem that would be the thing to do.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
While disagreeing around "learnings" :), I agree the story is not about restrictions on exercise of priesthood per se but on restriction re the scope of that exercise in respect of a group of people. I cannot think of any instance in our church where a bishop has ordained or received an ordained person into licensed ministry knowing that a restriction of that kind would need to be placed on the ministry.

As for 1/38th: yes, it is one measure of influence/power in the Communion (e.g. when the Primates meet); it is possible for one member church to wield more influence than another; and this influence might wielded in different ways. Dare I say it, but I suspect that at Primates' Meetings our primatial representative is one voice among 38 (maximum!). But we are constantly told that our prayer book is widely influential!!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David and Bosco,
Somewhat rudely my initial response was not to say "Thank you" for your correction re the accuracy of my description ... Thank you!

liturgy said...

Fr J, I was not arguing against our influence, so not arguing for your idea that Nigeria should have more. I was merely noting it. I continue to hold that we could function more effectively in some points if we were more honest with ourselves. On the other hand, we are more influential within our country than our numbers might warrant - so I can see swings and roundabouts here.

As to the story now being "I cannot think of any instance in our church where a bishop has ordained or received an ordained person into licensed ministry knowing that a restriction of that kind" perhaps if we were the size of TEC such an occasion might have occurred. I guess if you could find 100 such occurrences in TEC there would be a story there we could compare to our own context. Again, I am not commenting on the story - merely pointing out that a story not be created that isn't really there. As you've noted, TEC gets a hard time on this site.


Peter Carrell said...

I could be clearer, Bosco!

There are stories and stories here, or a story within a story within a story.

My primary interest here is whether there is a growing story of lack of response and/or transparency by the PB which will affect her influential leadership within the Communion.

The (so far) lack of response and/or transparency by the PB concerns another story, of an action in licensing a priest for ministry with a potentially unusual restriction placed on that ministry.

It is very unusual by the standards of our church. I presume it is unusual (if not very unusual) by the standards of TEC otherwise (i) why would The Lead bother with it; (ii) wouldn't commenters commenting there (some of whom are frequently supportive of the PB in other comments in the past) have mentioned the fact that there is effectively a non-story here?

As I understand the situation, we are one press release by the PB away from this becoming a non-story for the Communion.

Brother David said...

Peter, I do not get why +KJS has not spoken to her church at this point. I think that it has been a pastoral mistake on her part, as far as the hits that she has taken, such as on the Lead website. But being a participant there in these posts, I can point out that the ones raising the biggest stink are who I would refer to as the usual suspects. The same handful who get up in the air about +KJS since she was elected and was misunderstood about her "crucified place" comment.

Unfortunately, I do not see +KJS as a warm and fuzzy mother figure. I think in fact that she comes across as hard and cold, way too often. But, at this point in the time line, whatever she does will be seen as not enough and too late. Whether a decision she made herself or one made by handlers, I think that it was not her best moment in her church's eyes. So, again, another opportunity lost. Especially after Jim Naughton outlined what appears to be a more excellent way for someone to handle such a PR situation. Folks have something almost tangible to weigh in both hands, Jim's contribution in the one and +KJS's behavior in the other. She should consider ignoring whomever gave her this horrible advice the next time. And with a term that extends into 2015, she will likely have other issues to face.

At the same time, I do not see any grounds for those crying for her head on a pike! There is more smoke than fire here and she did nothing that I can see that will serve as fodder for a presentment, even under the new canon.

Will this harm her "leadership" in the AC over the remainder of her term? No. She plays a very low key role, even if she is on the Standing Committee. For as much as she draws the ire of her detractors for jet setting around the world, which I think is a huge exaggeration, she does not really try to draw attention to herself. Her role in anything in the AC over the next four years will only be flagged by the likes of the yellow journalism of the Virtue on Line website or the toxic atmosphere of the carrying on at Stand Firm in Faith.

Jon said...

The NZ Prayer Book is indeed widely and highly regarded by many here in the US. I like some of it but am not one of those who gush, though I do wish your publishers made it a bit easier to use.

As to the PB, I do wish there was a little more transparency to this story and I am a little troubled by the restrictions mandated at Fr. Parry's reception, but remain hopeful that reasonable explanations may be forthcoming.

Could it compromise the PB's influence throughout the communion? That seems a genuine risk if she and the TEC are not sufficiently forthright. Yet, I also believe that since only sinful humans can be called to ministry, that if the PB's decisions as Bp of NV are called into account, many will be willing to extend a gracious willingness to allow her to carry out her ministry and leadership.

liturgy said...

Peter and Pilgrim,

Just as an aside to the thread:

"But we are constantly told that our prayer book is widely influential!!"

This kind of talk interests me. Who says this - Kiwis or people in TEC? & are we talking the whole prayer book - or bits of it? When I ask for specifics, people don't usually get very much further than the Jim Cotter Night Prayer.

Is it a bit like Americans coming to NZ & telling us we have a lovely country? But they don't line up in droves to emigrate here...

The NZ Prayer Book is a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there?

Would they be prepared to swap their own liturgical provisions for ours?! And their own liturgical life for ours?


Tregonsee said...

For reasons which are specific to TEC, +KJS is widely perceived even by many theological liberals as both a mistake, and untouchable. There are just too many forces at work which are protecting her from current actions, let alone relatively ancient history. I would like to be proved wrong.

Brother David said...

I would like to be proved wrong.

I disagree that many liberals perceive her as a mistake, and untouchable. I think that is a conservative wish verbalized out loud, and nothing more. But neither opinion can be proved at this point.


Bosco, I recall that when the NZ prayerbook first came out it was lauded by many unfamiliar with it as pretty, and different than the run of the mill prayerbooks produced in other provinces. But no one was familiar with the liturgical situation that is NZ today. I think folks are still unfamiliar with your situation and are recalling the book's past popularity.

But I agree with you, few know it and can tell you much about it, including me, and I have a copy within easy reach that I have little used. Mostly of late to check things which you note in your posts. It is as pristine as the day I bought it in Seattle, WA, USA, probably in 1990.

Of course, I am partial to my own prayerbook, which is the Spanish version of the TEC 1979 BCP.

Anonymous said...

RE: "I will consider comments focused on the PB's role in Communion life, and whether this unfolding story has potential or not to hamper her leadership within the Communion."

I think it all depends on how one defines "leadership." By my definition she doesn't "lead" within the Communion anyway, even prior to the Bede Parry thingy. She does express power -- but I think that's a different thing.

At any rate, whatever it was that she was doing "within the Communion" prior to this latest, I don't think this will affect whatever that was in the least. I'm sure that her reputation -- great or poor [depending on which gospel group we're talking about] -- will be the same no matter what happens.

My opinion of her actions remains the same -- and I'm confident the liberal activists will remain the same as well.


Anonymous said...

Specific things I appreciate and use from the NZPB--in addition to Night Prayer:

The first thing I noticed about it was that, where the US BCP says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord/who has made heaven and earth," NZ says, "Our help is in the name of the living God/who is making the heavens and the earth."

The Prayers in our Rite II Burial Office are of limited usefulness. I routinely use prayers from the NZPB.

I love the USBCP wedding service, but it doesn't work very well for informal outdoor weddings. On the rare occasions that I have done them, I have pieced together a service from the NZ book.

liturgy said...

In other words, Anonymous, not very much, or to put it politely, pretty much sweet nothing - almost totally damned by the faintest of praise...

I do think there are some other worthy parts of the Curates-egg Prayer Book, but I once made a list of how much of it is actually regularly being used now & it would be nothing like the TEC BCP.


Anonymous said...

Just as the expansion of economy and technology have given us an uncountably vast number of TV channels compared to 40 years ago (and most of these are absolute dross), the publishing boom means there has been a proliferation of what I am tempted to call littergy. (I have just coined that word but no doubt when I google I'll find it's been around for years.)
The NZPB has its own qualities but you'll have to dig for them, amidst its PC, degenderized theology and rewritten "psalms" - chiefly fro the same reason, I imagine. I opened p. 184 at random and burst out laughing at the high school poem about the night - worthy of Helen Steiner Rice. Oh Cranmer, please forgive us - you at least understood what worship was about, how it should be phrased, and what it teaches, from the Bible and Reformed theology.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,

Some observations:

(1) Some flattering remarks about our prayer book are general and do not tell us Kiwis whether it is every word which is being appreciated, or specific chunks of it (as one commenter above notes).

(2) My own appreciation of our prayer book is selective. I like (e.g.) the eucharist beginning on p. 404 better than the others; the collects which drawn strongly on Cranmer's; quite a bit of night prayer; most of the funeral service; wedding services 1 and 3; etc. I suspect I have many selective colleagues, but their selections will be different to my own.

(3) Conversely, I find some parts of the prayer book have either always been difficult to appreciate (e.g. its "mod" collects; wedding service 2) or, over time, have not "worn well" (e.g. the Benedicite Aotearoa, p. 63, is a bete-noire of mine; the eucharist beginning on p. 456 (increasingly neither especially good nor especially bad, in my view).

For what it is worth, some parts have grown in my appreciation such as the controversial version of the Lord's Prayer on p. 181!

Anonymous said...

Peter, you really should warn people not to be drinking coffee when they turn to p. 181.
It's abysmal and heretical in equal measure. I imagine it would be go down fine in the Church of Oprah, though.

Seriously, is there not a connection between the remorseless decline of Protestant churches and the minting of dire stuff like this? I knew an Anglican priest who became Orthodox, and he said he saw this coming over forty years ago.


liturgy said...

just as p184 has a particular history (which includes no revision - hence the lack of clarity about to whom it is addressed - not, by the way, unusual in some places in NZPB - see the prayer of consecration in the ordinal...);

so the prayer top p181 has a history. It is not a "version of the Lord's Prayer" as the text itself makes clear - it is called the alternative to the Lord's Prayer. It is another Jim Cotter (though without his "love-maker" - sadly?) and draws as a summary from the classic book by Louis Evely.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P, cc Bosco

I disagree with you, Peter P: the alternative to the Lord's Prayer on p. 181 is a fine prayer.

So Oprah could say it: is everything she says unworthy of saying!

There is a decline in Protestantism. It would have been an even more rapid decline in Anglicanism in this country if we had refused to admit a new prayer book and had the BCP as our only prayer book

Anonymous said...

Peter, it may be "a fine prayer", just as the Iliad is "fine poetry" (well, parts of it), but it isn't Christian. The God to whom Jesus prayed isn't the "Father and Mother of us all", and it is unfaithful to Christ to teach otherwise. Jesus never prayed to his "Mother"! This is just liberal feminist agitprop. The language has no foundation in Scripture.
God the Father is not called "Eternal Spirit" in Scripture; this is in fact a descriptor for the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 9.14.
God's kingdom (basileia) is not a "commonwealth". One can only speculate why the words of the Lord Christ have been changed.
The so-called "psalter" has also been put through the PC grid.

Peter Carrell said...

I can certainly agree with you, Peter P, that the psalter has been PCised, and not for betterment of David's originals!

Goodness me: God is NOT Father and Mother of us all? Where does 'motherhood' derive from?

God is not able to be addressed as "Eternal Spirit" when God is eternal and God is spirit? Quite a true address of God, I suggest; and pastorally quite helpful to those who have been abused by their fathers ...

If the first Christians in Acts were not living out a 'commonwealth of peace and freedom' perhaps 'communist utopia' would be a better alternative for 'kingdom'?

I won't belabour the point: I think it is a fine prayer.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Peter, advocatus diaboli to the end - I admire your persistence, if not your arguments.

"Goodness me: God is NOT Father and Mother of us all? Where does 'motherhood' derive from?"

-Not to mention apple pie. Oh of course, I'm forgetting, "God didn't make those little green apples...". No, God is not our mother. Or our uncle and aunt.

"God is not able to be addressed as "Eternal Spirit" when God is eternal and God is spirit? Quite a true address of God, I suggest;"
- actually, this "true address of God" (me, I prefer "Prime Mover") reminds me of those hokey westerns where the Sioux braves gather to invoke their manitou...

"and pastorally quite helpful to those who have been abused by their fathers ..."
Well, that would be all of us, wouldn't it? What an ancient chestnut - straight out of "Honest to God".

"If the first Christians in Acts were not living out a 'commonwealth of peace and freedom' perhaps 'communist utopia' would be a better alternative for 'kingdom'?"

So the first Christians in Acts are still around, in NZ? Must be the water.

To forestall misunderstandings and obiter dicta, let me state that among Cranmer's goals in *common* prayer was to communicate/teach the reformed doctrines of the Church of England and to facilitate worship within those parameters. There were, and are many collections of 'Preces Privatae'
in which people can be as maudlin or heretical as they like. But that is something very different from an official order of worship.
Jim Cotter and 'Changing Attitude' have their own barrow to push, but it isn't Cranmer's.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,
It is hard to take seriously someone such as yourself who will not recognise God as the source of motherhood. Are you in danger of diminishing the glory of motherhood as well as of God?

No one claims that the NZPB is Cranmerian in aim.

Anonymous said...

Peter, of course God is the *source* of motherhood - and everything else, including birds, planets and the laws of physics. Whoever denied that?
But He isn't our Mother, and Christian prayer (as Jesus taught it - and that's all I care about here) never CALLS God 'Mother'. Mary was and is his mother. God was and is his Father. Every orthodox Christian understands that.
(He also said his 'mother and sister and brother' were those who do the will of God, but we won't go into that text here, which is doubly fatal for revisionists.)

A prayer book should teach the truth a church proclaims in its liturgy, not be a mirror of its confusions.

Brother David said...

And now you see Doctor Peter, how far the Greek has gone in his literalist understanding of scripture. Anyone using terminology from outside Holy Writ is heretical. That would include you.

And that is the grain of salt by which we must all take his comments, past and future.

Mr. Greek, I take it that any bread used for eucharist aside from unleavened bread would be heretical, is that not so. Because leavened bread would be outside the parameters of its Christly institution. Jesus instituted eucharist during his final Passover meal. The passover meal only lawfully used unleavened bread. So only unleavened bread can lawfully be used in a eucharist.

Does it have to be wheat bread?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,

With encouragement from David, I would press the point: if "A prayer book should teach the truth a church proclaims in its liturgy" (I agree), then why not include a prayer which addresses the one who is the source of all parenthood and love, beyond our knowing (cf. Ephesians 3:14-21) as 'Father and Mother of us all'?

To address 'the Father' (Ephesians 3:14) in this way is not to deny that God is Father.

Given that it is one prayer in a prayer book in which many prayers address God as 'Father', this prayer makes a simple teaching point that if God is 'source' of life, God is also 'nurturer' of life. Being just one prayer, it does not over emphasise this point. As one prayer of many it proportionately reflects those passages in the Bible which convey maternal/feminine imagery of God's care for us (e.g. mother hen, we as the chicks).

liturgy said...


Peter “Palaiologos” has never been straightforward about his beliefs or commitments, or even why he feels the need to hide his identity and these commitments.

So it comes as little surprise to me now that his beliefs about the nature of God tend in an unorthodox direction. He parallels “God was and is Christ’s Father” with “Mary was and is his mother”. This just will not do. Whatever one believes about the origin of half of Jesus’ chromosomes and the interpretation brought by first century biological understanding of conception – the unique nature of God the Father with Christ lies not in the biological conception of Jesus but in the eternal begetting within the Trinity. Peter “Palaiologos”’s paralleling this to the motherhood of Mary moves this towards a Mormon understanding and soon we are back to St Matthew’s billboard images. It is the inner life of the Trinity that we are drawn into as orthodox Christians – not into some participation into a biological conception. That Peter “Palaiologos” is not grasping that demonstrates the problem with the image he is stuck on. It is precisely through the use of a variety of images that Christians have been able to safeguard this central treasure from the sort of Gnostic tendencies prevalent in the folk-religion counterfeit.

The suggestion that “Christian prayer never CALLS God 'Mother'” is, of course, patent nonsense. Peter C alludes to a biblical image – there are, of course, others – surprising in such a male-focused culture (the ten commandments are solely addressed to males). St Anselm and Julian of Norwich spring immediately to mind. The Maori translation of the Lord’s Prayer is addressed to “Matua” (parent) not to pāpā (father). This is not the only occasion in our Prayer Book where God is addressed as “Mother”.



Anonymous said...

David, puedes comer tacos si quieres, me da igual. Pero prefiero vino en vez de tequila.

Peter, you don't seem to grasp the difference between *name and *metaphor. The Bible never calls God "Mother". We don't know better than Jesus or his apostles.

Bosco, you are quite wrong in second-guessing my perfectly orthodox, patristic theology. Mary is the mother of Jesus. The Eternal Father is the Father of the Eternal Son - and the 'fons divinitatis' of the Eternal Spirit. In eternity, God the Son has no mother. The Theotokos is another matter ... - if you have ever interacted with some Orthodox theologians, and Anglicans influenced by them (like Gerald Bray in his book 'The Dcotrine of God') you will understand my point.
Anselm and Julian of Norwich wrote all kinds of interesting things (some true, others more speculative - would you stand by every word in 'Cur deus homo'?); however, they were not biblical writers but medieval Christians. My precise words (which you may not have noticed) were: "Christian prayer (as Jesus taught it - and that's all I care about here)". The "Gnostic tendencies prevalent in the folk-religion counterfeit" you worry about are precisely those found in Tec liberalism and those so influenced in NZ who grasp little of patristic theology. Remember it was Elaine Pagels who promoted Gnosticism in Tec. Read Bray or Al Kimel - and Ratzinger, in 'Jesus of Nazareth' - and you'll understand what I'm saying.

Peter "Palaiologos"

Anonymous said...

This piece from Orthodox priest Father Paul Tarazi explains what I have been trying to say about the language of Christian prayer:


It has nothing at all to do with Mormonism. BTW, Bosco seems very cicrumlocutory or hesitant about the Virginal Conception of Christ. I hope this is just an impression of mine. I thought my own evangelical beliefs were obvious and have never hidden them.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,

I suggest that "Father" as in addressing God the "Father" is both name and metaphor (because God as Father is unlike human fatherhood in certain ways; we make a great mistake if we have a view of God the Father which is more or less similar to our view of our own Dad).

I also suggest that we can and do address God via names/titles provided for us in the Bible, and via names/titles we supply ourselves as truly representing who God is: Creator God, Loving God, Everpresent and reigning God ... we may address God in these ways.

Because neither Paul nor Jesus addressed God as "Mother" or "Father and Mother" does not mean we may not do so, providing we are addressing God in terms which faithfully represent the truth about God.

I say again: where does motherhood come from compared with fatherhood? If motherhood is not from God in the same way that fatherhood is, then we are saying there really, really is an inequality between men and women as God's creatures; an inequality which contradicts Genesis 1:27 (and Galatians 3:28).

Citing crusty old male Orthodox theologians determined to uphold a patriarchal theology cuts no ice with me. I read the Bible and find it offers a more radical understanding of humanity than the, what are they called again, "Church Fathers." That kind of tells us something, does it not, about a bias?

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter (Carrell)

I would stress your point even more strongly, “Father” is more metaphor than name. Although a name can move a bit from language to language, “Father” moves more than that. I daren’t press further your point to that every metaphor of God needs to be accompanied by its negation (a la Thomas Aquinas), because Peter "Palaiologos" could regard such careful phrasing as further “very cicrumlocutory or hesitant”.

As to Peter "Palaiologos"’s “evangelical beliefs” having been “obvious” I would suggest he goes back and reads his earlier comments here. It seems to me that he has majored in (who and) what he is against rather than what he stands for.



Anonymous said...

"...and via names/titles we supply ourselves as truly representing who God is: Creator God, Loving God, Everpresent and reigning God ... we may address God in these ways."

Just about all these titles are already found in the Bible. Your reference to American Orthodox Professor of OT Paul Tarazi sounds a bit churlish to me. Did you actually read what he wrote?
(And I doubt you will find a "more dradical understanding of humanity" than among the Cappadocians, for that matter.)

"Father"/Abba IS God's name, as Jesus used it and taught his followers to do so. Liberal Protestants who go beyond the Word of God can follow contemporary culture if they wish -in fact that is always the modus operandi of liberal Protestants: accommodation to culture, in this case, late western feminism. Your own comments make this clear. your sentence "if motherhood is not from God etc etc" is a complete non sequitur, and shows how ideologically driven this whole venture is. I am only interested in supporting the creedal and biblical catholicity of historic Anglicanism.

Bosco's last paragraph makes no sense to me. I am sure that anyone who has bothered to read my pieces can see I am an evangelical Anglican. Someone on this blog calls me 'Bryden-lite'. I'm not sure if I wish to own that precise appellation, but she understand me well enough.


Brother David said...

Do you notice how the Greek just brushed off my question as a joke about tacos and tequila? And yet that is the very logic employed by a very serious group of conservative Campbellite churches in the US. A relative living in California, whose husband is a minister of a congregation in this group, the churches of Christ, not only believe this about the communion bread, recently told me that another CoC congregation had fired its senior minister because he heretically believed that folks could celebrate the eucharist on days of the week different from the New Testament example of only on Sunday.

Brother David said...

"Father"/Abba IS God's name, as Jesus used it and taught his followers to do so.

No, as a jew, I am pretty sure that Jesus knew that God's name was the unspeakable tetragrammaton יהוה. Abba, was how Jesus addressed God in prayer rather than use the name.

Similar to the fact that my father's name is Pedro and I address him as Papá.

liturgy said...

Thanks David

Even Peter "Palaiologos" is losing his confidence in this discussion. Is he suggesting that the whole ""Father"/Abba" is God's name? Or bits of it by different choice? Or that the *name* is "translated" from language to language... and, eg. becomes "Matua" (parent - including "mother") in Maori (but cannot include Mother in English)...

As we know, the unspeakable yod-hey-vav-hey, which Jesus knew the scriptures said was God's name for ever, is regularly replaced with HaShem - The Name.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P
I was not impressed with Tarazi.

Let me try to get a straight answer from you: is motherhood sourced from God in the same way as fatherhood is? (Q1)

Let me try another question: to the extent that it is appropriate to speak of God's fatherhood of humanity, is it also appropriate to speak of God's motherhood of humanity? (Q2)

Brother David said...

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

So that tells me that God created humankind in God's image as male and female. That would dictate then that there is something about God's image that is female; feminine, perhaps mother, sister, aunt, etc. Especially if I was a good biblical literalst

Anonymous said...

This conversation is increasingly becoming a dialog with the deaf, with Bosco resorting to ad hominems about my supposed lack of self-confidence, Peter confusing fatherhood with malehood, and David - who can't even bring himself to use the biblical langauge of 'He' and 'His' when talking about God, let alone 'Father', bringing up the azymite controversy. Bosco doesn't even understand my points, which are about patristic and Reformed theology and the nature of language (and variously made by Kimel, Ratzinger, Bloesch et al), but brings up a lot of irrelevant stuff about modern Maori translations of the Bible. Why not the Klingon translation, while you're at it? Let me reassure him I am not troubled in my self-confidence. Intrinsic to Chrisitanity from the beginning, and from Judaism at least from the Hellenistic period, has been the concept of translatability, which has included the divine name. Yale Professor Lamin Sanneh, a convert from Islam, has made this point central in his works, and it's obvious from the LXX and NT. Myself, I'd be quite happy to worship in Hebrew or Greek, but I might lack for fellowship then.

This will be my last contribution here, so I crave your patience with this reply, and your indulgence for the lack of rejoinder.

1. I have studied Hebrew for years and even taught it for a couple, so am perfectly aware that YHWH is God's name. As appellative address in the Bible, so also is 'God' (Elohim), and 'Lord' (kurie in vocative). Jesus daringly introduced 'Abba', which the NT writers render 'pater'. He never said 'imma'. None of this is new to any of you.

2. Peter asks: "Let me try to get a straight answer from you: is motherhood sourced from God in the same way as fatherhood is? (Q1)"

- "sourced" is an odd word for this question. *Everything is "sourced" from God the Creator. The issue is not "source" but *naming, and the definitive text on naming is Ephesians 3.14-15 - which I (and Barth!) have always thought of as the perfect rejoinder to Feuerbach's belief that Christianity was just projection of childhood beliefs. But feminist goddess religion could well be a projection of culture.

3. Peter asks: "Let me try another question: to the extent that it is appropriate to speak of God's fatherhood of humanity, is it also appropriate to speak of God's motherhood of humanity? (Q2)"

God's Fatherhood has several senses. First, within the Trinity there is the Father of the Son (why not the Mother, I hear you ask? Well you do, don't you?). Second, God is uniquely the Father of the Incarnate Son. Third, God is the Father of Jesus' disciples (by the grace of adoption) and they are taught to call him so. Fourth, all human beings are God's "offspring" (Acts 17.29) - although the name 'father' is not used there. The Lord's Prayer is not about "God's fatherhood of humanity" but about fatherhood in the third sense, discipleship or adoption. We must be wary of confusing God the Creator with the natural realm, the constant temptation of the religions of Canaan. God's fatherhood is not the same as fatherhood in the realm of nature, even if there are analogical similarities. The Bible never calls God 'mother' but can also say he is ' the Rock who bore you ...the God who gave you birth' (Deut 32.18).
My bigger concern is the trajectory that Protestnat churchers findf themselves on. on the sidebar of your blog, Peter, you quote the late Richard Neuhaus about orthodoxy first becoming optional, then proscribed. That's a good epitaph on western Anglicanism.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,

I accept that you are not going to respond to this ... but then maybe that means I get a "last word" in :)

(1) I read what you say. I hear what you say, and I remain convinced that we may pray, as orthodox, "Father and Mother of us all."

(2) This is not all about the trajectory of Protestantism. It is about how we mutually work together as men and women in the presence of the God in whose image we were created and into whose presence we are drawn together, as one in Christ.

Janice said...


I have a question. Recently I read somewhere that the Hebrew notion of parenthood/conception was that the man provided the "seed" and the woman provided what we might call the seed-bed, but nothing more. If this is so, might we not regard the "Mother" of us all as the dust of the ground because it was from dust that God fashioned us?

I have no problem with thinking that God has the qualities, and therefore gives women the qualities, that are required for motherhood. Jesus talked about wishing he could gather Jerusalem's "children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Mt 23:37). But to address God as "Father and Mother of us all" isn't something I would feel happy doing. It feels too much like a descent into anthropomorphism; too much like thinking of God as like us but only more so when, in fact, he is far beyond our ability to comprehend and his generative activity bears no resemblance to our own. Next thing you know someone would be personalising God's "motherhood" qualities and turning them into his divine spouse. I believe that's largely how the Hindus got all their multiplying deities. Did you know they have a god of white goods now?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Janice,

I learn something new everyday - white goods god indeed!

To the extent that some anthropomorphising is going on when we try to use words to describe or name God, it is very attractive to think of the seed/seed-bed analogy and to conclude that the ground is the mother of us all.

The weakness with that kind of thinking is that it does reinforce the anthropomorphism of God's fatherliness, what with God being the one who plants the seed.

But then, how are we to talk about God? If it is right to use the term 'Father' (and I think it is) then in some sense we are thinking about God's generative power which is similar to the generative power of human fathers at least in principle (i.e. God creates us, fathers create children). My point through this thread is that God has nurturing power as well, similar, we can properly say, to human mothers. Without for one moment reducing God to a seed-planting father, or invoking divine consorts and other ancient pagan mischief, I suggest it is appropriate to pray to God (as generator and nurturer of us all) as Father and Mother of us all.

Brother David said...

I suggest it is appropriate to pray to God (as generator and nurturer of us all) as Father and Mother of us all.

Me too.

Rosemary Behan said...

How disappointing it has been to read this thread. To those of us who are not as ‘intellectual’ as our host Peter, or Bosco, it seems very simple. Sort of common sense in two ways. First, if I invite someone to call me Rosemary, but they keep calling me Fred, I think it might wear thin. Secondly, Jesus [God] told us how to address God when in prayer .. and this is a prayer. So it seems to me to be extremely rude to disobey God during this most private of moments, when we go to Him in prayer. If this is not considered to be disobedience, but simply an expansion .. well who gave us permission to make this expansion? But worse, if you two were in charge of a church, you just lost a member of your congregation, now THAT is terrible. One thing I appreciate so VERY much about our Bishop is her concern for the lost and for her church. That they be built up in the Lord. Not that Peter P was lost, but he was a valuable member of the congregation, and your insistence on such nitpicking in defence of our Prayer Book seems .. well I’m lost for words really. How on earth do you plan to look after the vulnerable new convert? Disappointment is really the least of my emotions at the moment.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,

This has been a discussion about the wording in our prayer book. If it has seemed nit-picking that is because the discussion has ranged over a number of important theological issues. The discussion, from that perspective, is akin to the form of a theological tutorial, and not (say) a discipleship class. As you note Peter P is an able fellow re these discussions - very able, in my view, as he clearly knows a lot more about theology than I do.

I would never (I am sure Bosco would not either, but he can speak for himself) look after a 'vulnerable new convert' by (so to speak) throwing them into a theological tutorial.

As for only addressing God in the way taught or modelled by Jesus or the apostles (or Old Testament writers): I will think about that further. I have, myself, followed a policy of addressing God in ways both truthful to God, appropriate to those praying with me and appropriate to the occasion of the prayer.

I would very much hope that it was not, in fact, disobedience to pray 'Father and Mother of us all' as a legitimate address of God in the light of all we know about God.

Obedience in prayer is important, which is one reason why a prayer that should be prayed in every service is the Lord's Prayer, since he not only taught us that prayer (Matthew) he also commanded us to say it (Luke).

Peter Carrell said...

[Hi David: I am prepared to publish the first part of your comment but not the second which involves potentially unhelpful speculation].

Obedience in prayer is important, which is one reason why a prayer that should be prayed in every service is the Lord's Prayer, since he not only taught us that prayer (Matthew) he also commanded us to say it (Luke)

But did he say this is the only prayer that you can pray? If we say that the prayer is a model, a tutorial, why then is only the address fixed?