Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Round up and around

I was away yesterday at a conference. As usual, plenty of stimulation. I have brought back with me, as a return to the TH library from a borrowing friend, Rupert Shortt's biography of ++Rowan. A very nice book to read on the plane home. Including this passage which better expresses something I have been trying to say here, recently. In Shortt's words, ++Rowan, when he changed his own mind on the ordination of women, came to this argument (p. 94):

"All Christian priesthood has its ground in the priestly work of Jesus. The function of ministerial priesthood is given to some by God's call, so that the dignity belonging to all may be received. To infer that women cannot be priests entails two assumptions incompatible with the New Testament model of priesthood: that the ordained priest's relation to the priesthood of Christ is different in kind from that of the baptised person; and that a baptised woman's relation to Christ's priesthood is substantially different from a baptised's mans. For those who reject these assumptions, it follow that the ordinaton of women is perfectly compatible with Catholic orthodoxy."

Further stimulation came with the thought that unbeknown to myself I have made a personal submission to the Ma Whaea Commission [our church's commission on ordination/blessings re same sex partnerships]. A member of the Commission at the conference told me that they had seen a DVD in which I dialogue with another person re these matters. Here was me feeling slightly guilty for not having (yet) made the effort to make a submission! (The DVD was made for the Auckland Diocese late last year. If you want a copy please contact their office, not mine. I am not even sure where my copy is, and haven't yet watched it.)

Coming back home and catching up on internet news I find that Mark Harris has published a rubbishing of the CofE's recent statement about marriage in relation to the UK government's proposals about same sex marriage. I have disagreed with him in a comment on his site.

This morning on Thinking Anglicans there is an interesting statement by the UK government as it tackles with the horny matter of religious bodies and their response to their proposals about same sex 'marriage': they are proposing that religious bodies will be exempt from any requirement to bless such 'marriages' and from any consequences re anti-discrimination legislation, with the further step that religious bodies would need to opt in to such blessings (rather than opt out). I will be blunt: if it was just the Cof E they were up against, I do not think they would be so kind, believing the CofE can be kicked around. But they are also up against all mosques, some synagogues and all Roman Catholic churches. This direction from the UK could be helpful for our own parliament when it soon considers these matters ...

Indeed, I wonder if the UK government is offering a way forward for our church as it grapples internally with these issues. Suppose we do pass certain legislation in 2014 which is controversial: what if it offered "opt in" for dioceses and/or parishes and/or clergy, rather than "opt out"?

35 comments:

Shawn said...

The State is not our friend.

Rosemary Behan said...

I’m not a theologian, but I’ve been very interested to read about what changed Rowan Williams mind about WO. Also, although I struggle mostly to understand him clearly, Bryden’s response to Susan in the last comment on a previous post. I’m not at all sure that I understand either point. I’m also not sure what wisdom is being used, that which God has written, or modern secular understanding?

Rowan makes the assumption that ‘priesthood’ is something which as an evangelical, I don’t believe. The Old Testament has ‘priests’ such as he describes, but we have Christ! So that is an immediate ‘cross purpose.’ He refers to the New Testament model of priesthood, which to me is the priesthood of all believers, and nothing to do with the ‘office’ of leader and teacher. In fact I cannot find the term ‘priest’ in the sense that he I presume uses it, in the New Testament at all!! So I’m puzzled as to how that can have ‘changed his mind’ with regard to WO. [continued]

Rosemary Behan said...

With regard to Susan’s comments, if indeed I understand her correctly, there is more of a case for Our Lord having chosen a man with a homosexual orientation to be an Apostle, than there is a woman. We simply don’t know. [Which is not to say I believe they would be PRACTISING homosexuals.] What we DO know is that He didn’t choose a woman, and that is one question that MUST be answered unless you’re suggesting that He .. God Himself .. didn’t know what He was doing.

With regard to Bryden’s post, yes all three Persons of the Trinity have roles in Salvation, as indeed do men AND women, but that doesn’t indicate to me, that the different roles are interchangeable.

Peter said he wasn’t going to bring up this subject again, but he’s like a tiger, never lets it go. However sometimes I get the impression that he’s trying to convince himself rather than those like me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rosemary.

As no one else said anything, I presumed I was the one who was thick (self-ad hominem).

I have no idea what Bryden was saying. I have tried Google Translate - without success. Peter, can you state what his reply is in English please? Anyone? Shawn? Or does no one here actually understand what he writes? And only Rosemary is ready to say so.

I have seen online sentence generators - but I don't think they would get through the "please prove you're not a robot" here.

Just a few sentences from the academic sentence generator.

"The linguistic construction of normative value(s) is, and yet is not, the historicization of the gendered body." The critique of this is "Your work on the historicization of the gendered body is a masterpiece of unreductive exactness."

"The eroticization of pop culture furnishes a provisional lens for the analysis of the construction of power/knowledge." Of which the critique is (sounding VERY familiar!), "Your unusual approach to the construction of power/knowledge addresses a surprisingly underexamined subject."

Susan

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
The quote from the book about RW was too good not to repeat. I understand him to be talking about the priesthood of all believers in relation to Christ, and within the priesthood of all believers, the ordained priesthood or presbyterate.

Susan, I will try to get back to your comment when I have time.

Anonymous said...

Williams is simply re-hashing ideas from a century ago on 'ministerial priesthood' first promulagated (AFAIK) by R. Moberley, and they are no more convincing now then they were when Bishop Lightfoot answered them. Williams' arguments typically depend on a rhetorical cascade of words that have to unpicked to discern the different contentions made, and a sleight of hand that subtly diverts the subject under discussion. Thus:
"To infer that women cannot be priests entails two assumptions incompatible with the New Testament model of priesthood:"

Error #1: he has smuggled in something undefined called 'the NT model of priesthood'

"that the ordained priest's relation to the priesthood of Christ is different in kind from that of the baptised person;"

Error #2: he has smuggled in something undefined called 'the ordained priest'

"and that a baptised woman's relation to Christ's priesthood is substantially different from a baptised's [sic] mans."

Error #3: this is nonsense. No evangelical believes that Christ saves men differently from women.

What Anglo-Catholics do (or did?) believe is that the order called 'priests' shares in the priesthood of Christ, which is (in the words of ARCIC - remember that?) 'of a different order of the gifts of the Spirit' from the priesthood of all believers.

Martin

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I agree with Rosemary. There is something in the way that Rowan Williams speaks of Priesthood that makes me rather suspect that he is using the word in two senses - one protestant and the other catholic.

I'm not sure what he means by "ministerial priesthood" - it sounds a little like a tautology to me. How "dignity" fits into that equation is beyond me. If it belongs to all, why does it need to be received?

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Susan et al,

Is it Bryden or Augustine who is difficult to understand?

Or, if you are referring to Martin's Latin, are you looking for a translation of,

"care Bryden, maximas gratias tibi ago propter consilium tuum de redditu anglice significationeque Doctoris Africani Ecclesiae; quamquam magister linguae Latinae quondam eram, opera tamen Vergilii Ciceronisque docens, nec satis vitae neque scientiam mihi manet ut libros sancti Augustini sicut scriptos legam! primum tamen mihi oportet 'De Civitate Dei' legere, quoniam nuper hoc emi - et ut scis: ars longa, vita brevis, et ars Augustini longissima!

Ludovicus Ayres, quem credo Anglicanum fuisse, nuper Tiberim transiit.

pax gaudiumque tibi

Martinus"

In slight confusion, as usual.
P

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin/Malcolm

Protestant and catholic understanding of priesthood? Sounds a good Anglican to me!

I get what ++R is saying. Don't you!?

He is saying that our ordained ministry is a calling within the priesthood of all believers which itself is an expression of the eternal priesthood of Christ. In relation to Christ's priesthood no one is gender distinct and thus there is no reason for women to be denied opportunity for their calling to ordained ministry to be denied by the church.

Janice said...

No evangelical believes that Christ saves men differently from women.

Martin, I'd really appreciate your thoughts on these two quotes and how they relate to the issue of women's salvation.

Gregory of Nazianzus: "That which is not assumed is not saved."
Gregory of Nyssa: "By becoming exactly what we are, He united the human race through himself to God."

If women can never be fit and proper persons to lead men or teach them, as Jesus did, then there must be something distinctive about being a woman that Jesus did not assume and did not become. In that case women are not saved and are not united through Jesus to God. Therefore it would be better for women if they had never been born for they have no hope of anything but a burdensome subordination to men in this life and no hope, after death, of being raised to eternal life.

Unless, of course, it is true that in the new, post-resurrection creation the old distinctions between the sexes really have been abolished as Galatians 3:28 says they have.

I look forward to reading your response, should you choose to offer one, but if you do and I don't respond quickly that will be because I am flying out of here tomorrow to spend some time with a family member who is terminally ill.

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

Apart from the Anglican fudge, I still don't think the argument works.

I have a lot of sympathy with Anglo-catholics who detect in these kinds of arguments a failure to fully incarnate the eternal priesthood of Christ in the man, Jesus of Nazareth.

For instance, when you say no one is "gender distinct" in relation to Christ's priesthood, I have two reactions. Firstly, I agree that we are related, men and women, without distinction. But secondly, I am a little nervous about a certain level of abstraction. To be human is to be gendered (as I'm sure you would agree) - even if the western world would like to pretend otherwise.

I remember our theology class being asked to comment on the changes to the English versions of the nicene creed. The question was, did any of the changes have theological significance? At the time, I saw no problem. But now I'm not so sure. Amending "and became man" to "and became fully human" is just subtly different. I now think this alteration is indicative of a changing western world-view and why people today resist the idea of marriage being defined in terms of gender.

However, I would rather discuss the ordination of men and women on other grounds, for I think ordained ministry is best not confused with notions of priesthood. That's my reading of a passage like Heb 13:7-17 anyway.

Malcolm

Kurt said...

“The State is not our friend”—Shawn

Yes, well Shawn, neither are the corporations.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
You should not be nervous!
In many areas of ministry the question of gender does not arise and nor should it.
The question is why it arises in relation to ordination.
If it is because of a representative aspect to ordained ministry, then I am with Janice in asking whether the representation is of the humanity Christ assumed or of the maleness Christ became, and if the latter, why?
If it is because of a role division between men and women, the question arises, what, specifically, is 'male' about the role of the ordained minister?
The sharp edge to the question arises in our culture where we have come to the realisation - a good realisation, not a 'shock, horror' realisation - that women can do things we formerly thought they could not (become doctors, principals, engineers, political leaders, theological lecturers, pioneer missionary evangelists).
So, do not be nervous about the possibility of 'abstraction' - be comfortable about the involvement of women and men in the continuing incarnational ministry of Christ through the active service of his body on earth!

Anonymous said...

"I get what ++R is saying. Don't you!?

He is saying that our ordained ministry is a calling within the priesthood of all believers which itself is an expression of the eternal priesthood of Christ."

Yes, I know what he's saying (and the provenance of this idea in Moberly in the late 19th century) and it's wrong. No one "shares" in the priesthood of Christ. The 'priesthood of all believers' is NOT an expression of the priesthood of Melchizedek and NT church leaders are never called priests. 'priest', as everyone should know, is derived from 'presbuteros' (not 'hiereus', used of Christ in Hebrews) and renders 'zaqen', which means 'elder'. Read Lightfoot on 'The Apostolic Ministry'.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

There is a point in a discussion such as this, Martin, where I sense one takes leave of the original starting point (what did ++RW mean, am I defending or critiquing him?). So, speaking for myself in response to your latest, I would nevertheless like to explore the mystery of being 'the body of Christ': is that not the body of the eternal High Priest, and is not our 'priesthood of all believers' a sharing in the priesthood of Christ because we are the body of Christ, and, yes, the presbyterate is not the hieratical office, but is not a presbyter let alone an episcopos a member of the body of Christ with special responsibility for steering the ministry of the body on earth in a manner centred on Christ, worthy of Christ, and growing in Christ, that is, a role in drawing the people of God closer to the God of Jesus Christ, a role with certain continuities with the priests of Israel, albeit now shorn of sacrifices, save for the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise?

Anonymous said...

Peter, I was looking for a translation of Bryden not Malcolm. I had thought Rosemary was also.

"The second half shows an ignorance of the recent revival of the doctrine of the Trinity these past 50 years. Take for example Karl Rahner (although it was that other Karl, Barth, who humanly speaking kicked off the revival). As he wisely sought to pay close attention to the actual shape and content of the economy of salvation as enacted by the triune God, he gives this summary among others: “Grace gives rise to not-appropriated relations of divine persons to man [sic].” (The Trinity, p.25) What this is implying is this.

Each of the divine ‘persons’ has their own specific identity, each their own proprium in the Latin scheme, their idiotēs in the Greek. That is, they are uniquely differentiated, one from the other, so that, in Athanasius’ language (for example), the Father is the Father of the Son and the Son is the Son of the Father. These non-interchangeable relations are what distinguishes them as their very identities, marking them off from one another. In addition, it is this that then enables us to categorically say: the Son is ever the Incarnate One; and the Spirit specifically the One who, in a “quasi-formal” as opposed to “efficient” way, causes humans to participate in the very life of God. Or again, noting a key feature of the entire NT, the Holy Spirit is the eschatological gift of the Messianic Age.

The upshot is crucial when we NB human being in the Image of this God. As Rowan Williams once remarked, the Christian Gospel has planted cultural time bombs in our midst, and the doctrine of the Trinity and its corollary, Imago Dei, is just such a thing: that Ultimate Reality is personal and relational (or, Beyond Personality, as CS Lewis once put it, referencing explicitly the Trinity), and human being is uniquely endowed with the quality of personhood are gifts of the Christian faith to the world. One fruit of which is the sense, not at all obvious from other perspectives, of human rights.

A tragic irony however occurs when we try to extrapolate from all of this and conclude - try to conclude - “same-sex marriage” and all the rest is a good idea and most to be desired. For the reality is same gender relations indeed parody the genuine image of God; there is quite simply not the mirror of adequate differentiation when we compare this to traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Rather, the premise here is classically modern and postmodern, where human being is now viewed to be a self-positing autonomous personal subject. Here ethics have become a function of self-creating subjectivity, a veritable social construction.

The tragedy is highlighted when such a view tries to counter the likes of a Mahathir, who claims “civil rights are but a western social construct”. For what criteria are we to use to discern between such a western social construction and an Asian one?! Move away from the sheer ontological depth of the created order, Susan, derived from the Bible’s Grand Narrative and the Christian Tradition, and we are literally doomed - in the long run."

Susan

Bryden Black said...

Wow! Now there’s a side-swipe from Susan.

Your own quote again: “Oh dearie me! I have had to conclude that a fully orbed Trinitarian theology will resoundingly endorse WO, just as it will resoundingly endorse same-sex marriage: bottom-line.”

Well; what Trinitarian theology do you understand?! If you say it supports both WO and s-s marriage, how so? If you are unaware of the most basic terms typically used in any Christian discussion down the centuries, and which I merely repeated, then frankly I have to conclude your own quote is pretty meaningless.

But all such is also typical of most western Christians, whose legacy these past few centuries has virtually no room for an operational Trinitarianism.

As for Rosemary. In my reply to Susan I deliberately dealt with only the second half of her quote. If I were now to address directly my Trinitarian support for WO, I fear it might be counter-productive! Only one thing for now: I did NOT use the word “role”, applying it to the divine ‘persons’. Role-play is NOT what specifies their respective identities exactly, even if their identities do thereafter result in certain possibilities and impossibilities. I fear you have merely defaulted to your own favourite approach re gender-and-role, an approach which I find most suspect frankly! Sorry about that!

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply to my comments. I will take something appropriate for my nerves!

One further reason why I am wary of Rowan's line of argument is because, if it is to success, it renders those who disagree as being in error on quite a major point of doctrine.

Do we really want to assign half the Anglican communion to the category of heretics? It naturally leads to condescension to those in younger churches and impatience towards those elements in the older churches who are holding out against this new insight. It seems to be just such a place that the English church has reached.

Is it not better to move the discussion of church leadership to one of discernment and wisdom. Where we may still disagree, but allow one another a degree of freedom to recognise God's gifting of men and women in culturally appropriate ways.

Malcolm

Bryden Black said...

For what it’s worth, I might chime into this conversation and cite John Calvin here, when he is speaking of Christ’s three offices of prophet, priest and king:

“Then this anointing was diffused from the Head to the members, ...” Book II, ch. XV, 2.

“Now, Christ plays the priestly role, not only to render the Father favourable and propitious towards us by an eternal law of reconciliation, but also to receive us as his companions in this great office (Rev 1:6).”

Undergirding all these ideas is Calvin’s rich theology of our union with Christ, itself derived from the Patristic writers and their notion of “exchange”, which too is derived from St Paul.

All of which Cranmer (not to omit our own Anglican heritage) then implies when we offer our “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving”.

Stet!

Rosemary Behan said...

Janice, God loves you to bits, you are His especial creation. I've written a bit about my own experience in this regard and hope you will e-mail me on behanrw@clear.net.nz so that I can send it to you. I don't want to bore everyone here who has probably heard it all before. Rosemary

Mark said...

Hi Janice,

Gregory of Nazianzus: "That which is not assumed is not saved."
Gregory of Nyssa: "By becoming exactly what we are, He united the human race through himself to God."

If women can never be fit and proper persons to lead men or teach them, as Jesus did, then there must be something distinctive about being a woman that Jesus did not assume and did not become. In that case women are not saved and are not united through Jesus to God. Therefore it would be better for women if they had never been born for they have no hope of anything but a burdensome subordination to men in this life and no hope, after death, of being raised to eternal life.


You realize that you are using the Gregorys' maxims in a fashion that they would reject? The maxim was articulated for one context and you have applied it to a very different one - one that they would not have recognized as being a valid application?

You could run the same argument with 'gift of teaching' in it and get a similar result - if people with no ability to teach others cannot teach men the way that Jesus did then there is something distinctive about being a human being that is not able teach others that Jesus did not assume and did not become, and hence is not saved.

The argument you offer, if correct would have to result in adrogyny - there is nothing distinctive about being a woman or a man at all - for whatever is distinctive would then not have been assumed, and so therefore was not redeemed.

And that's pretty well the opposite logic to how the Gregorys would apply the maxims - by becoming one particular human being, with its own particular propoerties, the Word took on human nature that is common to all kinds of humans. He didn't have to become smart and stupid, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. He just had to become a real human being with one set of properties, not every possible property.

The problem you are making is the same one Peter keeps lurching into - of making ordination something to do with salvation and being recognized as a human being. So if someone cannot be ordained then there is something about them outside of Christ's redemptive work. Both the early church fathers and the Reformers would be outraged at any such suggestion.

And if it's true then that has terrible implications for all those people whom God created and whose purpose in creating them does not include them ever being leaders in the church. They were never made able to teach, they will never be called. There must be something subhuman about them all. Only Christian leaders, or people able to become such if they want to, are fully human, and fully spiritual.

It's another introduction of 'two tier' Christians - the perfect and the ordinary. It's ironic that the priesthood of all believers is being shoe horned in to support this, because it was introduced to establish the opposite arrangement - that you didn't need to be a minister to be fully human or a 'top tier' Christian.

It wouldn't surprise Luther to find his doctrine being harnassed to argue the opposite of what he intended - that only if some class of Christians can be ministers can they be truly recognied as 'top tier' Christians. Because he always expected that the true freedom of the gospel would always be getting lost and exchanged for a version that would bind people once again.

Mark said...

This shouldn't have been on this thread - my apologies. It should have been on the Really truly (I really mean it this time) human thread.

I'll repost it there.

Bryden Black said...

Many thanks Mark for this simple elucidation of Cappadocian theology! (That’s the trouble with hoicking material out of context ... And then there’s all that Greek metaphysics at play too ...)

In addition you close with Martin Luther’s Freedom of a Christian allusion. I have come to view that particular 1520 piece of writing in my Top Ten Non Canonical Christian Works due to its vital importance. Freedom is one thing (especially by the mouth of the likes of George Bush!); sustaining authentic freedom is a richer task still, I fancy! Hence Luther’s careful focus of attention, inwardly and outwardly. Perhaps we could send copies ...?!

Mark said...

Yes, a definite allusion to Freedom of a Christian, Bryden, and I concur wholeheartedly about the importance of that work, and especially the distinction between inner man and outer man.

I think in some ways the current debate over WO and 'equality' needing a direct application to social structures is a rerun of Luther's controversy with the Peasants' Revolt. The peasants wanted certain kinds of social reforms to express their 'equality' with their lords (secular and spiritual). Luther rejected that vehemently (too vehemently, alas) because he saw that it would turn the gospel into a new law - which I think would also be his response to Peter's argument in one of these recent posts that the freedom of the gospel must push us towards social inclusivity.

As you'll know, in his basic three reformation tracts, Luther certainly does propose social reforms in light of the gospel, but only indirectly, not directly, so as to preserve the distinction between Law and Gospel, what God gives and what God demands of us (and the inner and outer man distinction, as you noted).

So one way of seeing this debate over WO is a rerun of that Reformational debate over the implications of the freedom of the Christian - with the 'complementarians' more or less fighting Luther's corner that spiritual equality has an indirect application to social life, and the 'egalitarians' fighting the peasants' corner that it must apply directly.

Anonymous said...

No one (not even Peter or Shawn) has attempted to put Bryden’s statements into language that Rosemary and I can understand. Bryden now supports Mark’s attack against Janice’s support for ordaining women (so Bryden appears to side with Rosemary against ordaining women). Whilst Bryden challenges me to support my mirroring of a quote of his, he himself will not do the same as he fears it “might be counter-productive!” As I have been mirroring what I have understood of Bryden, let me do that in response to his challenge: If I were now to address directly my support for the mirror of Bryden’s text, I fear it might be counter-productive! And as no one has taken up my challenge to translate what Bryden calls the most basic terms typically used in any Christian discussion down the centuries, and which he says he merely repeated, then frankly I have to conclude his own comment is pretty meaningless.

Susan

Anonymous said...

No one (not even Peter or Shawn) has attempted to put Bryden’s statements into language that Rosemary and I can understand. Bryden now supports Mark’s attack against Janice’s support for ordaining women (so Bryden appears to side with Rosemary against ordaining women). Whilst Bryden challenges me to support my mirroring of a quote of his, he himself will not do the same as he fears it “might be counter-productive!” As I have been mirroring what I have understood of Bryden, let me do that in response to his challenge: If I were now to address directly my support for the mirror of Bryden’s text, I fear it might be counter-productive! And as no one has taken up my challenge to translate what Bryden calls the most basic terms typically used in any Christian discussion down the centuries, and which he says he merely repeated, then frankly I have to conclude his own comment is pretty meaningless.

Susan

Shawn said...

Bringing in issues of Trinitarianism and salvation tonthe issue if WO is problematic to say the least. I think Mark's concerns on that are well stated.

There are only two questions we need to ask.

Can we establish from Scripture that women can teach and exercise authority over men? To which ivy yes, we can.

And are women being called by God to ordained ministry in which they will lead local churches? And that is clearly the case. Or are our discernment processes so badly flawed that thousands of people, both those being discerned and those doing the discernment, have made a massive misjudgment?

Anonymous said...

Janice, I join my prayers with others here as you care for your family member, that the Lord will give you great strength, compassion and wisdom in this testing time.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Susan and other commenters,
Patience is a virtue; busyness is not.
But I am so busy right now that I need you to be patient, especially re translation of the divine language of theology!
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Or are our discernment processes so badly flawed that thousands of people, both those being discerned and those doing the discernment, have made a massive misjudgment?"

Well, that's never happened before, has it? Judg 24.25

Martin

MichaelA said...

Hmmm, good come-back Peter...!

Bryden Black said...

Sorry Susan, but your latest comment requires some teasing out as well as further calling out.

1. That I thank Mark for his “elucidations” is just that; no more and no less. What you then read into my comment is more eisegesis than exegesis.

2. Given your own self confessed non-understanding of Trinitarian matters and language, all I did was to point out the “meaninglessness” of making the Trinity the premise for your own argument in favour of (either WO or) s-s ‘marriage’. In fact, an authentic doctrine of the Trinity goes against any validation of s-s ‘marriage’.

3. Given the failure to grasp this last line of argument, that the Trinity denies any grounds for s-s ‘marriage’, then it will be equally “counter-productive” to go down any line of conversation re WO and the Trinity, on this blog.

4. Lastly, why try to comment, as I did myself originally? Simple really. Just as the 4th and 5th Cs saw the failure of merely throwing texts around the ancient Mediterranean as the means of solving the controversies re the identity of Jesus and so the deity, so too do WO and s-s ‘marriage’ today require a form of biblical discussion that digs down to what is now termed “the grammar” of the texts; that is, a second-order of thinking is needed, the texts themselves being the first-order. All the doctrine of the Trinity does is to enable us to readily summarise this basic “grammar”. To be sure, given many a failure to teach ordinary grammar at school nowadays, it is not surprising that many moderns might be in the position of Molière’s le bourgeois gentilhomme, who does not realise he has been speaking prose all his life.

Shawn said...

Hi Martin,

Yes, it has and does happen, but this would be on a pretty massive scale, and seems just a little unlikely.

Hi Susan,

I will have a go at translating Bryden for you, but just a small point first. Not only is it close to Christmas, but both myself and my wife are extremely busy settling in to a new church, and getting to know all the various groups and tribes that make up a large evangelical congregation. Lots and lots of meetings and dinners!

So if I do not respond to a post straight away it's nothing personal nor anything to do with the difficulty of an issue or argument.

Now to the translation, and apologies to Bryden for reducing his post in this way, and also if I get it wrong.

In the Holy Trinity we see both unity (one God) and difference (three Persons).

Human marriage is an icon of the Trinty, a representation of the Trinity. This is what God intended it to be.

Thus in the covenant of marriage we see both unity (one flesh) and difference (a man and a women).

That is why homosexual "marriage" cannot adequately represent the Trinity, because the gender difference is not there.

To put it another way, think of the Chinese idea of Yin and Yang. They are different to each other, but together make a perfect union. Two Yins or two Yangs do not make a union.

Hope that helps, and I pray to God that I have not made things worse!

Janice said...

Mark,

I am among the merest of beginners when it comes to Cappadocian theology and Greek metaphysics. However, my question really was about salvation.

Thank you for your reference to "particular properties". While searching that term I came across this quote from one of the Gregorys. "I shall say that substance (ousia) is related to subsistence (hypostasis) as the general to the particular. Each one of us partakes of existence because he shares in ousia while because of his individual properties he is A or B. ... ousia refers to the general conception, like goodness, god head, or such notions while hypostasis is observed in the special properties of fatherhood, sonship, and sanctifying power."

From the other Gregory is this. "God is three in regard to distinctive properties, or subsistences (hypostases) ... He is one in respect of the category of substance, that is, of godhead. The Godhead is distinguished, so to say, without distinctions, and is joined in one without abolishing the distinctions. The Godhead is one in three, and the three are one. The Godhead ... is the three. We must avoid any notion of superiority or inferiority between the Persons; nor must we turn the union into a confusion, or the distinction into a difference of natures."

If the "substance" of humanity is human nature and this is what Jesus assumed then, as you say, salvation is available to all of us whether we are male or female, smart or stupid, rich or poor, slave or free, gifted at teaching or leadership, nor not. Hooray!

However, I cannot see that the properties "male" and "female" are like the other properties mentioned above. They seem much more like the "special" or "distinctive" properties which distinguish between the three persons of the Trinity - fatherhood, sonship, and sanctifying power. After all, though both have the same nature only the Father has the property of fatherhood and only the Son has the property of sonship. But males and females, both, can be smart or stupid, rich or poor, a gifted teacher or leader, or not, and so on. Disregarding the effects of the Fall, the only property that males cannot have is femaleness, and vice versa.

So the "special" or "distinctive" property of male human beings is maleness and that of females is femaleness (Gen 1:27). All those other particular properties are inconsequential and we can say that males and females, having the same nature, are "distinguished ... without distinctions" and, at least in marriage, can in some sense be "joined in one without abolishing the distinctions". That would make androgyny a non-issue and, now, thinking like this I can see how complementarians start thinking about role distinctions. After all, the Father sends and the Son is sent and those are different roles. So men and women must have different roles. But if they do, these different roles must be related to their different special properties, not to any particular properties.

Why is it that the Father sends and the Son is sent? So that human beings can be saved and have eternal life. But why not the other way around? It can't be in the nature of the Son to be sent or in the nature of the Father to send because then they would have different natures. If the Son sent the Father would the Father then be the Son and the Son the Father? Isn't this just a matter of nomenclature?

Why did God create human beings in his image, male and female? So that they would be fruitful and multiply. In the matter of fruitfulness and multiplication the male impregnates and the female is impregnated. So that's what their different roles are. No more, no less. Everything else between men and women is a matter for them to work out between themselves in love and mutual submission, "with fear and trembling" (Ph 2:12).

I'm happy with that. You might not be.

Janice said...

Martin,

Thank you for your prayers. I need them.