Friday, May 24, 2013

The one rule liberal Anglicans always follow

Mention the Diocese of South Carolina or ACNA and a stock standard liberal response here at ADU if not elsewhere is that they are not Anglicans as they do not belong to the Anglican Communion. It strikes me that for all the noise liberals make about rules not defining and binding us as Christians there is one rule which liberal Anglicans always follow: to be an Anglican you must belong to a church which belongs to the Anglican Communion.

This is, of course, a very useful rule because it means that it doesn't matter what happens in The Episcopal Church, even the most egregious exegesis by its Presiding Bishop, everything is Anglican because it has taken place within or been uttered by the chief leader of an 'official' Anglican church, one that belongs to the Anglican Communion.

But the serious issue here is what makes an Anglican an Anglican. Is belonging to the Anglican Communion the sine qua non of being a proper Anglican? Is it allegiance to the prayer book as in the BCP (which one?) or its local successor? (Some discussion along these lines occurs at Liturgy) Then there is the important corporate dimension of Anglicanism. What makes a diocese and a province 'Anglican'? Three recent essays at Living Church tackle this question, with specific reference to the current and future status of the Diocese of South Carolina which, shall we say, has stepped aside from TEC for the time being.

Jesse Zink, "Why Provinces Matter?" astutely observes:

"Hierarchy in the church is a bedeviling issue. The Episcopal Church itself has not provided persuasive reasons why hierarchy is necessary on a provincial level but unnecessary on a Communion-wide level. Surely for a church that defines its existence in terms of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, hierarchy cannot stop at the water’s edge?"

He then strikes a challenging note on Anglican ecclesiology:

"As in Scripture, so also in ecclesiology: the pernicious hermeneutic of self-justification remains a constant temptation. This is regrettable. Ecclesiology is not a minor administrative matter that can be casually tossed aside. It is part of the core good news Christians have to proclaim. In a globalizing world that is dominated by discord and fracture, the Church makes the counter-cultural claim that in baptism we come to belong to the body of Christ. No other entity is shaped by a common willingness to die daily with Christ and be raised with him who is the author of true and abundant life. We believe we belong, and that this is good news. Anglicans work out the implications of this radical claim in the constellation of parishes, dioceses, provinces, networks, and institutions that comprise our global Communion.

The dispute in South Carolina could provide an opportunity — yet unrealized — to think seriously about the ecclesiological and theological convictions underlying Anglican churches."

William Witt weighs in with further angles on the subtle issues at stake in the ecclesiology evolving out of current disputes. His diplomatic language barely disguises a ruthless demolition - emboldened by me - of TEC's pretension to being one, holy, catholic and apostolic church:

"The issue that is little addressed in such discussions is the theological nature of episcopacy. What does it mean to be a bishop? Standard Church histories make clear that the office of bishop is about continuity, specifically continuity between the apostolic Church and the catholic Church of the second century. To be a bishop is to recognize and submit oneself to the canonical authority of the Old and New Testaments as the faithful witness of prophets and apostles to the triune God revealed in the history of Israel, the saving work of Jesus Christ, and the Church as summarized in the Rule of Faith.

Whether bishops of the Episcopal Church have acted in continuity with this apostolic Church in proceeding to approve of same-sex unions is precisely the issue that is splitting the Anglican Communion. There are, of course, issues of universality involved as well. A bishop is a bishop not just for a local diocese but for the whole Church. In the long run, an extra-provincial diocese accountable only to itself is problematic. But then again, a national church that refuses to be accountable to an international communion has brought the Anglican Communion to its current crisis, even as a bishop who does not understand his chief role to keep intact the apostolic witness has rather missed the point of being a bishop."

Then Colin Podmore, "Beyond Provincialism," offers astute observations about recent Anglican history when the Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao divided itself into four dioceses in order to become a province, precisely so as not to continue association with a larger but conservative province. A way forward for South Carolina? With this parting shot at TEC at the end of the essay,

"the most important question facing the Anglican Communion is not whether dioceses can exist other than temporarily without being subject to provincial or other metropolitical jurisdiction (in catholic and Anglican ecclesiology they cannot), but whether provinces should not in turn defer to the councils of the wider Church."

There is much to ponder here. I offer two further observations.

(1) I do not have to belong to an Anglican church to be an Anglican, provided I have commitment and intention to belong to an Anglican church. Let me explain. I would not challenge for a second a person who said to me, "I am an Anglican but I worship in a Methodist church. I was brought up Anglican, I remain Anglican in my heart and mind, but ever since I married I have belonged with my wife to her Methodist church. If I were widowed I know I would go back to worshiping in an Anglican church."*

Analogously, I suggest that the Diocese of South Carolina remains Anglican although it has stepped apart from TEC. It has the intention and commitment to belong to the Anglican Communion (that is, formally belong; I understand the Diocese to collectively believe that informally it does belong). That is, just as in the individual example above, the Anglican husband has a plausible reason for not currently belonging formally to an Anglican church, so the Diocese of South Carolina has a plausible reason for not currently belonging to TEC. That is the Diocese disputes the fact that TEC remains, pace Witt, "in continuity with [the] apostolic Church". It is noteworthy that in making such dispute South Carolina is not an idiosycratic diocese but is supported by many Anglican provinces to say nothing of many individual Anglicans, such as myself, in provinces which otherwise maintain goodwill relationship with TEC.

(2) We should take care to not place too much emphasis on the character of Anglicanism being determined by the rules of Anglicans. The true innermost character of Anglican churches is that we are Christian churches, faithful to Christ, in continuity with the one, holy, apostolic and catholic church which Christ founded. The BCP or any Anglican prayer book is nothing save for the fact that it gives expression to this character. Bishops, priests and deacons are nobodies save for the fact that we are faithful to the 'doctrine of Christ' as expressed in our prayer books, articles and constitutions. The Anglican Communion is a fantasy (or a lie!) if it is not a Communion with the Christ who founded the one, holy, apostolic and catholic church. If the rules of Anglicans define Anglicanism in such a way as to exclude Christians determined to be Anglican in the character of their mission and ministry then the rules need reform.

As Bryden Black lamented here recently, the Anglican Covenant is much missed at this point. Its precise contribution to present Anglican difficulties, if we would adopt it, is to renew our understanding of what being Anglican means in respect of common theology. By avoiding adoption we are left with Anglicanism defined by rules which are now out of date.

87 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

" In the long run, an extra-provincial diocese accountable only to itself is problematic. "

- Dr. Peter Carrell -

That's precisely my reaction, Peter, to your posers in this article. I think that when a diocese has been part of a national provincial Church, and chooses to break its filial relationship to that Church, this is nothing less than schism.

This is precisely what has happened in South Carolina. Whatever the entity under schismatic Bishop Lawrence wishes to call itself, it is no longer a part of TEC, which is the national representative of collegial Anglicanism in the U.S.

Any attempt to re-link with the world-wide Anglican Communion - through its mentoring Provinces of the GAFCON, cannot alter its status in the collegial Anglican set-up.

However if/when the GAFCON Provinces decide to set up their own Church entity - outside of the present body of the Communion that is related, through Lambeth to the historic Canterbury See - then that entity could include South Carolina and all the other dissenting ex-Anglican people in North America. BUT; they cannot then claim to have in any way replaced the existing Anglican Communion - which will remain loyal to Canterbury and Lambeth - and includes TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, ACANZP, and the Australian Anglican Church (- maybe sans a significant part of the Sydney Diocese).

You cannot leave an entity and then claim at the same time to be a part of it - that's what schism means.

Bryden Black said...

Oh Ron; I do declare you have proved PC’s very point - the only rule for such a person as yourself is that organizational rules themselves rule.

To spell it out beyond the dense (very dense, I admit) comments I’ve already made re apostolicity under “Free Radicals” and echoed again under “the diabolical”: such Christian organizational rules as we may create will seek to express something more basic, even essential to the Faith itself, which we can only call the theological. And when we examine these theological dimensions of our current ‘dilemmas’, debates and struggles - as these three Sic et non articles do re the Dio of SC - I have to say there is an extraordinary disconnect, theologically, between the many organizational expressions of TEC’s leadership this past decade and that One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Denial of this, refusal to acknowledge this, or just plain obduracy, will not make such disconnect disappear! One may try to foist the word “schismatic” upon the Dio of SC to describe the actions they have been forced to take. But that merely evades the wider context and the deeper issues. It certainly does not advance either due understanding or lead to anything like ‘reconciliation’.

To sum up. I deliberately used the word “prudent” in my brief comment earlier re the Covenant. To repeat it now: “So folks, when we are prudent enough perhaps we can revisit the matter: say, in 2021?!” Why this word? A clue is to go all the way back to the Faith’s earliest days. When Christians sought to engage with their world, they very quickly aligned themselves with the very best of Classical Culture, even as they seriously undermined other features. Just so, the four cardinal virtues were quickly adopted by Christian apologists, headed by ... PRUDENCE. What therefore I am suggesting is really very serious: our contemporary western form of church lacks what even most pagan moralists would have considered essential. And NB; prudence is not some vague ‘ethic’; it involves the most practical and wise forms of action that lead precisely to other, virtuous outcomes. That’s why it heads the list!

Genuine theology - genuine ecclesiology - will always express itself in life-giving forms of collective behaviour. False theology will likewise always eventually lead to death. This too is a vitally important rule.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Genuine theology - genuine ecclesiology - will always express itself in life-giving forms of collective behaviour. False theology will likewise always eventually lead to death. This too is a vitally important rule." - Dr. Bryden Black -

If this is down to a competition on 'whose theology is correct', Bryden, then I guess you have a pretty long haul conversation on your hands. Whose theology is the correct one?

For people in the actual field of combat - like, for instance, Bishop Desmond Tutu, whose pastoral and theological expertise is probably rather more extensive than that of someone like ex-Bishop Lawrence - who has actually headed his people out of the Episcopal Church, on matters of adiaphora like gender and sexuality -for me there is no contest. Tutu displays the authentic Gospel of loving inclusion - and he's an African, who actually knows at first hand what 'apartheid' means.

While acknowledging that there is room for difference of outlook in such matters, I really haven't understood why conservatives have made these issues their definitive battleground - when issues of much greater human need are presenting that could better exercise the energies of the Church.

If gender and sexuality are the real reason for the S.C., ACNA and GAFCON 'abandonment of the Anglican Communion'; then one wonders where the liberating power of the Gospel has brought its influence to work in areas of justice, and freedom from oppression and judgementalism.

I still think there is room for two points of view on gender and sexuality. But when one side of the argument decamps, that leaves no room for what you are wont to call 'reconciliation'.

Bryden Black said...

I recall all too well the first time I met Desmond Tutu, in the home of a bishop of CPSA. We had tea and then a meal together: it was a delightful time, full of laughter and wit, and inordinately serious discussion on politics and theology. Yes Ron; Tutu is indeed ‘up there’. But what’s the point of trying to construct some principle of ‘apartheid vs. inclusion’, as if it were some master key to unlock all theological matters? That’s inordinately lazy thinking!

I too for that matter am/was an African who knows all too well what racism looks like: just ask my numerous black friends who, like me, survived the civil war in then Rhodesia. But then others did not, both black and white. Theological longevity is a function of the Spirit of Truth and Divine Providence, not us mere mortals.

“Gender and sexuality” are NOT adiaphora. Even the St Michael Report from Canada (2005), which our own +VM chaired, deftly steered its conclusions towards a “theology of marriage” that meant the issue was neither adiaphora nor (supposedly) “credal” or “core doctrine”. Let’s get some elementary facts straight here please.

Nor is “gender and sexuality” the reason for the turmoil in TEC. As I have said on numerous other occasions, these are but symptoms of far deeper issues, most notably regarding authority and the means of legitimation. Please understand this Ron; it would help all of us immensely to progress due conversation. As for “Why This Issue?”, please see Edith Humphrey’s brief but cogent article: http://www.augustinecollege.org/papers/EH_30June03.htm

Shawn Herles said...

That would be this Desmond Tutu?

http://frontpagemag.com/2010/alan-m-dershowitz/tutu-and-the-jews/

I think the Jewish people might have a different view of how "inclusive" Desmond Tutu is.

It is very easy to claim moral righteousness for those who are pro-gay, while judging others, such as Bishop Lawrence, as fundamentalist haters, but the true Gospel is that we are saved by God's grace alone, not by works of supposed political righteousness, and thus nobody, including Desmond Tutu, who has his own sins if exclusion to reckon with, can claim to be more righteous than anyone else.

We are all sinners, no matter how much pro-gay marriage advocates in the Church think their stance makes them more righteous and loving than others.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Shawn! As per the later comments on another thread: we all tend to have rather large planks in our eyes.

Two wrongs sadly do not make a right.

Anonymous said...

Desmond Tutu is a strange mixture of old-style faith from his Anglo-Catholic upbringing, heterodoxy and intellectual confusion, with a dash of vanity, still living off the capital of his brave opposition to apartheid. He mistakes his leftist politics for the voice of God, as this little piece makes clear: http://www.catholicregister.org/columns/item/15690-desmond-tutu-and-hell

As for one-party state South Africa, is it a better and happier place than it used to be under the old one-party state? When one hierarchy has replaced another? I really don't know: it doesn't appear to be a safe place to be if you're poor, female or unborn. It certainly needs preachers of the Gospel.
Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

"But what’s the point of trying to construct some principle of ‘apartheid vs. inclusion’, as if it were some master key to unlock all theological matters? That’s inordinately lazy thinking!" - B.B.

Not ALL theological matters, Bryden, just the ones I have been speaking about and which you know very well, but choose to scew the conversation.

You may think I'm a 'lazy thinker':
(ad hominem, Mein Host?), but I do guarantee that my 'thinking' - and praying - are no less active on these important matters than your own - except, I think, perhaps not so obsessively focussed.

Bryden Black said...

Not "obsessive" Ron; that is, not if you read the link to Edith H. There you'll see just how broad the canvass necessarily is. Enjoy!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Bryden did not say you were either 'lazy' or a 'lazy thinker'. That, arguably could be 'ad hominem.'

Rather he asserted that the thinking demonstrated in your comment above (10.04) is 'lazy thinking'. I presume he does so because it lacks appropriate supportive reasoning for the claims you make re Tutu's recipe for the good life and GAFCON's raison d'etre.

I am troubled by the kinds of thinking you are demonstrating. It has its own 'ad hominem' quality because it tends to falsely accuse fellow Anglicans of having obsessions they do not have, anxieties they have no reason to have, and so forth.

I do look forward to the day when you might treat those you disagree with better. I see on your latest blog post about women bishops in England that you have no room for those who in theological conscience cannot accept women bishops in the Anglican church. Just a few days earlier you extolled the virtues of Bishop John A. T. Robinson. Well when he lectured in Chch in 1979 I clearly remember him extolling the virtue of the Anglican church as a 'large room'.

Is his large room larger than yours?

Jason said...

I do have to say that I enjoy watching a "liberal" crow about loyalty to Lambeth and Canterbury as signs of being in communion.

It is heavily ironic that those who rabbit on about these things then ignore Lambeth (see 1.10) and Canterbury (see Windsor) in order to be prophetic.

Anonymous said...

Jason - very good point. Liberals have no understanding at all of the spiritual meaning of koinonia. Like some spouse in an abusive relationship, they ignore and trash the Communion when it suits them, furiously resist even a weak covenant, then profess deep loyalty when they want to come home. Truly a serially abusive relationship. But as Carol King would sing, 'It's too late, baby ....'

Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

After sober reflection, and the spiritual experience of today's worship of the Most Holy Trinity;
I am minded to remember that we are all part of God's Church. It is not our own, we have no prior rights to exclude anyone.

Singing today's iconic hymn: "Saint Patrick's Breastplate", at Mass, in procession. And then, tonight, at Evensong and Benediction - at Saint Michael and All Angels - one heard the choir sing the Schubert "Holy, Holy, Holy". Our quarrels do seem pretty small potatoes. As Saint Paul reminded us in the Epistle for today - from Romans 5:5 - "God's love has been poured into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us".

Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Never a more agreeable word spoken by you here than "we are all part of God's Church. It is not our own, we have no prior rights to exclude anyone."

Thank you!

Chris Hynde said...

Peter I come to your site daily because, despite our differences (and they are many) I like you. I want to hear what you say. I don't want you to feel that you are being pushed out of the Anglican Church nor do I want to feel pushed out either. And you seem to have a wonderful, dry sense of humor that appeals to me. I've come across your comments over the years on various Anglican blogs and I feel that I can learn from you and, perhaps, share some things as well.

Some of the comments above, which merit no mention from you, are beyond the pale of the standard you seem to hold Ron to. Why is that? Who do you, Martin, Jason, and Bryden get to insult, objectify, generalize, and otherwise do the things you call Ron out for?

The very title of this post is an example. Liberals? Which ones? What is the definition you mean? Is it the same caustic one used by the above-mentioned commenters, who spit it out like an epithet or a nasty racial slur? That's what it sounds like to me.

And attempting to smear Bishop Tutu? Is it OK to break a commandment in support of "orthodoxy" but not "liberalism"? Bearing false witness is wrong no matter what, right?

I join Ron in wishing you, Martin, Jason, and Bryden and most joyful and holy Trinity Sunday and I am glad that we are part of the same Anglican Communion and you are welcome here any time as brothers in Christ.

I honestly can't say that I believe that you and those I mentioned extend the same Christian hospitality to me. Your reply to Ron thanking him didn't return his humble apology nor extend an olive branch in the other direction, did it?

Still, I wish you the peace of Christ, if you will accept such from a gay, liberal, Episcopal sinner. God bless!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Chris,
Hmm. We could have a long to and fro ping-pong conversation about matters you raise.

'Liberal' in the title is provocative. I accept that and my titles are often intentional around provoking people to bother to read ADU.

Moderating comments has been a troubling issue for me over the years. (I am not sure how many years you have been reading here ...). I have conservatives who tell me they won't comment here because I continue to permit Ron to comment. Vice versa. What to do?

However, in the particular case of this thread, where strong things are said (e.g. re ++Tutu), the commenters have heeded something I have asked for: a bit of evidence for their claims. I saw the Tutu words re Israel: not impressive.

I see what you mean re me offering a more fulsome acceptance if not applause of his apology. But am I required to be fulsome? I made a very positive note of agreement with his cited comment (no ifs and buts) and I said 'Thank you'. (It is not that I do not want to be fulsome if time were inordinate. But it isn't so often I am concise in reply. Mostly I do not respond to comments at all.

As for your wishing me the peace of Christ (and complimenting my dry humour): I thank you, fulsomely!

Anonymous said...

Chris,
I use the word 'liberal' in at least three discrete senses.
1. in the general sense of intellectual inquiry, ready to consider all outlooks as a means to discovering the truth.
2. a political belief in 'progress' with a commitment to change, guided often by secular humanist values.
3. a theological outlook that prioritizes the contemporary deliverances of human reason over Holy Scripture as the decisive means of discovering religious truth.
I consider myself a liberal in the first sense, and a strong advocate of the dying ideal of a 'liberal education'.
Political liberalism isn't the focus here, except to note that theological liberals are often quick to support political liberals, and conservatives similarly.
As for theological liberalism (TL), I have watched this morph throughout my life, depending on the regnant cultural mood (which isn't what Aristotle or Aquinas meant by reason, either). The basic problem with TL is it doesn't know what to do with the Bible, which parts it's going to believe this year and which parts it's going to ignore. It's like a man writing checks when he doesn't know if there's anything in the bank.
I am not aware of any 'racial slurs' or smears above - perhaps you can illuminate?
Martin

Jason said...

Chris,

Calling out obvious errors in thinking and consistency does not constitute an "ad hominem" argument that our host must moderate. If that were the case, no discussion would be possible.

A general observation of mushy thinking, even if drawn from a specific commentators comments, is just that a general observation of fact.


Although, I do see a trend in general philosophical arguments that any disagreement with a position, any pointing out of logical fallacies, is immediately termed "ad hominem" in order to shut down debate. I am certain, though, that this is not your point.

Now, if the general observation is not true, please feel free to correct me. If I have engaged in mushy thinking, please feel free to correct me. If I have been logically inconsistent, please feel free to correct me. I promise I will not take it as an "ad hominem".

Father Ron Smith said...

"3. a theological outlook that prioritizes the contemporary deliverances of human reason over Holy Scripture as the decisive means of discovering religious truth."

- Anonymous Martin -

As, for instance, on the subjects of justice for women and slaves, perhaps?

The question here might be: "Has the Holy Spirit stopped 'leading us into all the Truth' with the publication of the Bible?"

Or, in fact, as most reputable scholars - and, indeed ordinary mortals with the gift of reason - have come to realise; does this important promise of Jesus still have validity - for now and into the future? If not, then God might indeed be 'dead', and all hope of redemption relegated to the past.

Veni Creator Spiritus!

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Chris for your comment; it prompted quite a series of thoughts, as I’m sure it was intended to. The upshot though was ambivalent - and I’ll try to show why in one particular case.

I’m sure the celebration of such a Feast Day as Trinity Sunday should have a sobering effect upon us all. The beauty and the majesty of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose “zealous love” for humanity will not allow our folly or rebellion to thwart the divine creative purpose, but will even use that very rejection to win us back, can only prompt the sort of thing we see in Isa 6 or Ezek 1 or Rev 1. And so I appreciated Ron’s comments at first blush. But sadly the days when lex orandi, lex credendi determined everything are past.

I have no idea where you sit on this matter, but my own experience has not been promising. For example, of the three prominent members of TEC leadership to have visited our city this past decade, the one most relevant for this discussion stated flatly that she only held to the Creed “loosey goosey” - or was that “Lucy”! (And no; it was not the PB in this case.) Now; I don’t know about you but I’m not sure I want to belong to a church that adheres so loosely to the primary Symbol of the Faith.

By all means let us explore the meaning of the Faith - as in Martin’s first tabled meaning of the word “liberal”. I myself would not have invested in post grad work if I did not aspire to such things. Yet failure to acknowledge the Church Catholic at its most basic seems to me to equate nicely with Martin’s third meaning of “liberal”. And it was this element that this woman leader was clearly extolling in her address to us. In other words, Scripture’s canonical status coupled with its ecumenical interpretation via the Church’s Councils was willingly bypassed.

The only form of compunction I’d rejoice over unequivocally would be one that sought again to believe in the Faith of our Fathers (and Mothers!) before us. For only such a thing will be able to withstand the vagrant winds of false doctrine into the future.

Father Ron Smith said...

" Behold! I am doing a new thing! "

Was this a 'once and for ever', only?

Or is God's Holy Spirit constantly 'renewing the face of the earth'?

After all, God did change human hearts and minds on many things over the course of salvation history. God is not dead! God is alive and active - both in the Church and the world.

The sad thing for some of us, is that God doesn't always do things in the way we might want, or expect, God to do. Blessed be God!

Shawn Herles said...

"As most reputable scholars"

Such as? Which ones?

You keep making such statements but never back them up with examples.

What does "reputable" mean? And reputable to who?

The Bible does not condone chattel slavery.

The Christians who made up much of the anti-slavery movement were motivated by Scripture, not special or new revelations.

The Christian women who made up the bulk of the Temperance movement also advocated for women's suffrage. They too were motivated by Scripture.

In fact both groups would have in most cases taken an approach to Scripture that today would be labeled fundamentalist.

Scripture is not a road block to genuine Godly social change.

And no reputable theologian I know of claims that special revelation is ongoing.

Shawn Herles said...

The Holy Spirit only leads us into a deeper and more mature understanding of Scripture, not to entirely new revelations that contradict Scripture.

Shawn Herles said...

@Chris Hynde

Hi Chris.

I was not trying to smear anyone with regards to my post on Desmond Tutu, merely to point out that we are all inclusive in some ways and exclusive in others.

Neither "inclusive" nor "exclusive" accurately describes the real positions and principles of either side of the debate. They are not helpful in moving the debate forawrd.

My only concern in this debate is the integrity of the Churches understanding of Scripture and the independence of the Church with regards to the State.

If the debate was shifted away from trying to redefine Christian/Church marriage or trying to make Scripture (and thus God) say and affirm what it/He does not, and instead focused instead on how local churches can respond to, care for and include those who experience same-sex attraction, then we might find more common ground.

Bryden Black said...

May 28, 2013 at 1:06 PM

I think Ron with these comments (the likes of which you and others have made before on ADU) we really have the heart of the matter - and not just re issues of ss attraction, about which I surely do not want again to be called “obsessive”! No; we are here at the heart of the “liberal” approach to most if not all matters.

And my concern is just this.

Holy Writ/Scripture is generally acknowledged in the Church to be the divinely appointed servant and so unique instrument in the economy of the triune God. That is what it means for these writings to be canonical, the norma normans vis-à-vis other kinds of authorities and/or resources when we Christians try to go about evaluating our understanding of human experiences.

So; when folks come along and allege some “new thing” to be ‘inspired of God’, the cry goes up: show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated; show me how the Tradition has generally interpreted/viewed such matters before. For to be honest, while many things HAVE changed in this world down the ages, most things have not really changed at all when it comes to basic humanity, to the human condition; all that’s happened is that we’ve tried to tweak it so it looks all fashionably new and different!

For what God the Holy Spirit IS renewing is the old order of created reality which has fallen into death and corruption due to evil and the power of sin, from which the Lord of Creation has begun to redeem it through the Son Incarnate and the Spirit. At least, that’s how the Scriptures and the Great Tradition have always viewed it ...

Anonymous said...

And the point is that the 'Great Tradition' is essentially a way of reading and interpreting the Holy Scriptures, not an alternative or substitute to it.
Catholic theology is inescapably biblical, while the liberal Protestant theology which our resident contrarian espouses (yes, he does, though he may not realise it: to be catholic means to submit to the voice of the church catholic) may waltz around the Bible, but only ever as the leading partner.
My point about liberal theology constantly morphing according to the current state of what is believable can be borne out in the mouldering stocks of SCM books throughout the 20th century, as one fad succeeds another (unitarianism, Bultmann, Robinson, liberationism, eco-feminism, revolution, 'queer theology', pomo, syncretism etc) in a restless cavalcade.

Martin

liturgy said...

Greetings

By “generally acknowledged in the Church” and “catholic” are people meaning “protestant” and “except amongst the majority of Christians, ie. Roman Catholics and Orthodox”?

Amongst them I certainly am missing the cry that “goes up: show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated” in relation, as just one example, to the celebrated “new thing” of the Glorious Assumption of the Mother of God body and soul into heaven before her body could begin to decay, as the first fruits of Christ's Resurrection, and the symbol and foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time.

Blessings

Bosco

Shawn Herles said...

The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which is created by the Word of God, is the eschatological communion of the elect, chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Eph 1:4).

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Bosco for your mention of BVM as a test case. You clearly have not been amongst Latin American Christians, where the Pentecostal-RC interface is acutely ripe for HUGE discussion surrounding Mary!

More soberly, may I recommend Tim Perry's Mary for Evangelicals: Toward an Understanding of the Mother of our Lord (IVP, 2006). But perhaps this might be too irenic to your mind to qualify! Yet it is strident enough where it needs to be IMHO. Enjoy!

Bryden Black said...

Martin, I accept naturally your interpretation of the “Great Tradition”. That said, a due qualification is still needed to round off the picture you have amplified.

Theories of “two source revelation according to Scripture and Tradition” have come under the spotlight these past decades. While we have the likes of Rahner and Ratzinger’s collection on Revelation and Tradition (1966) typically encapsulating the traditional (sic) RCC’s approach, more recent historical theology would claim the rise in popularity of canon lawyers and their methods in the 14th C to have engineered late medieval theology generally away from the previously universal single source theory you have correctly indicated (that is, Scripture is the canonical witness to the One Divine Revelation, with the Church’s ongoing and accumulated commentary of Scripture our responsible guide). The approach of these lawyers strongly differentiated between Scripture as original source and the processes of transmission for corporate life via the institutions of the Church, with the latter naturally concentrating on their present day practices which needed due regulation, in their eyes, and which were often accorded legitimation via ‘oral tradition’. Just so, Trent’s subsequent strong endorsement of “two source revelation” - which was partially qualified by Vatican 2's Verbum Dei.

Once again, we may see the historical context for the Reformation more clearly if we appreciate such things - and notably the emphasis upon the personal nature of grace in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ as the necessary antidote to this “Roman Doctrine of Grace from the point of view of Reformed Theology” (to quote a chapter title heading of TF Torrance). But such things are never just confined to the past it seems!

liturgy said...

Sorry, Bryden. Your response is a bit lost on me as to how it in any way responds to my point. Or why you claim my comment is not irenic. Nor can I work out how you ascertained from my comment that I hadn’t been to Latin America, when in fact I spent over a year there with Anglican, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and other Christians and missionaries.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

By 'catholic' I meant in keeping with the consentient witness of the early church, in conformity with the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creeds and Chalcedonian Definition, regarding our understanding of Christology and the Trinity. I know that dissenters and those deemed 'heretics' also quoted and used the Bible, so the authority of Scripture was implicitly recognised then, even if correct interpretation remained the problem.
I don't know anything about 14th century canon lawyers, but have always thought scholastic theology had a tendency to build large claims about Mary (e.g., immaculate conception) and the papacy on some very slender biblical grounds. The Reformers of the 16th century were more properly interested in going back ad fonts, and it's striking how much Calvin in his Institutes owes to the Greek Fathers.

Martinos Eleutherios

Father Ron Smith said...

"For what God the Holy Spirit IS renewing is the old order of created reality which has fallen into death and corruption due to evil and the power of sin, from which the Lord of Creation has begun to redeem it through the Son Incarnate and the Spirit. At least, that’s how the Scriptures and the Great Tradition have always viewed it ..." - Dr. Bryden Black -

Well, Bryden, what about Jesus' mention of the problem of trying to put new wine into old wine-skins?

Also, what about the promise of a 'new heaven and a new earth'? Is that all hyperbole, do you think; or is God really creating 'a new thing'? It certainly doesn't sound - at least to me - like re-cycling.
___________________________________

As for Martin Peregrinus, your use of droll multi titles cannot cover the hint of stark theological singularity. In this Pentecostal season, Saint Paul reminds us of the vanity of 'tongues-speaking'.

Shawn Herles said...

Are you speaking in tongues Martin?

Pretty clever thing to do over the Internet.

Bryden Black said...

Well Ron; where to start? I think I’ll just quote Tom Smail and leave it at that, as he does it far better than I can:

“The pattern of the resurrection determines the pattern of the Spirit’s work. And the pattern of Christ’s resurrection is one of both continuity and discontinuity together. Something new appears, which is nevertheless not novel, but the fulfilment of what was there before. The Jesus who rises is in identity and continuity with the Jesus who died. ... And yet, although everything in him passes through death, it is raised up into a radically different mode of being ... so that on the one hand he is scarcely recognizable, and yet at the same time seeks to establish with his every action that he is the same.”

Peter Carrell said...

From Bryden - with some material moderated out (fascinating though your discussion with Bosco is re mutual geographic travels, I adjudge it to be both personal and irrelevant to the ongoing issues you raise re the BVM).

"“More soberly, may I recommend Tim Perry's Mary for Evangelicals: Toward an Understanding of the Mother of our Lord (IVP, 2006). ...”

The mention of Perry’s book - which seeks to be precisely “irenic” - was meant as a contrast to your comment re “cries going up”, or not, as the case may be. He has done a superb job, to my mind, steering a profoundly biblical path that addresses those Protestants who seem a bit blind to the material, despite their apparent claims re biblical authority, while yet also pointing out where ‘the tradition’ lacks any biblical warrant at all; i.e. where it is simply silent. The Assumption is of course just such a dogma - even if there are attempts made to stretch the biblical material. However, frankly, the better course is the likes of Stephen Shoemaker, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption (Oxford, 2004), which handles the very complex history of the earliest traditions in the East, their emergence at the end of the 5th C in both narratives and liturgies, and their eventual assimilation into Orthodoxy - but not without severe editing in some/many cases. That is, the dogma really has very little to do with the Bible ...; and everything to do with practised piety in the Early Byzantine period; and any genealogical stuff is extremely conjectural! Just so, “CRIES” of “HEY!” But perhaps not for one whose lode star is ... liturgy per se ...!

Blessings indeed!
"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
I am not sure that I get what you are trying to say above. There is no biblical warrant for assuming the assumption of Mary took place, not even in its silence. One might lean towards Rome, propped up by Scripture on aspects of Marian devotion, but lean too far, your recommended books notwithstanding, and one will fall in the Tiber, or ought to, since at no point does Scripture require of us any speculation about the life of Mary,

Bryden Black said...

Let me (try to) hold your hand Peter.

Well; if you’d kept the first bit in, you’d have seen how the ironic tone of the first section of the reply paralleled the irenic tone of Terry’s book. That’s the first thing - which directly addressed the point Bosco was making re his being unable to see how his earlier remarks were anything but irenic - which of course they were, their tone being pretty neutral, while mine were deeply ironic, given his considerable time in Latin America! Stet!

The second longer section re Shoemaker then addresses the business of cries that seek (demand?!) to corroborate stuff with the canonical Scriptures. Just so; when I say, “... pointing out where ‘the tradition’ lacks any biblical warrant at all; i.e. where it is simply silent”, together with the concluding three sub-sentences beginning “That is, ...”, I demonstrate, via Shoemaker, that the only way to try to legitimize any Marian dogma is not from Scripture but from the sheer practice of piety - and this only from the late 5th C onwards, with its immense variety of narrative traditions and liturgies, which only later again came to some form of coherence within both Eastern Orthodoxy and Latin Faith.

But for all that, should one’s centre of gravity be the mere performance of liturgy, such contrasts between Scripture and later (much later) leitourgia should not much bother one ... [again, watch the tone ...!]

Peter Carrell said...

I am not sure, Bryden, what you are getting at with your last para in 6.16 above. Are you attacking the whole of the RCC and EO churches?

I acknowledge that you cover your tracks with 'watch the tone'

Bryden Black said...

What I’m getting at is this:

1. For those who aspire to have doctrines, theology, dogmas and liturgical practices corroborated by Scripture, the Assumption of BVM is ... well, not able to be so corroborated.

2. Yet, if one’s doctrines, theology, dogmas and liturgical practices are governed by other criteria, such as ‘venerable’ pietistic ‘tradition’, then 1. should not bother one at all.

All of which does have some bearing upon contemporary 'dilemmas' in the AC ... perhaps ...!

liturgy said...

Bryden

You contrast an irenic mind with what you refer to as my comment about a cry going up. In fact it is your own comment May 28, 2013 at 1:06 PM that has the “cry going up” phrase. Not me and my nonirenic mind at all – but yours.

In that same comment you asserted that for a “‘new thing’ to be ‘inspired of God’, the cry goes up: show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated” and that this is “generally acknowledged in the Church”.

You still do not appear to have plainly responded to my point: I think your point is not “generally acknowledged in the Church”. The majority Christian position, held by Roman Catholics and Orthodox, differs from your assertion. Unless you are denying that majority as being “in the Church”.

The Glorious Assumption of the Mother of God bodily into heaven is a good example of a teaching which is not corroborated in the Scripture. Nor, I am repeating myself, contrary to your claim, does the cry you claim go up.

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden and Bosco,
I think the points have now been made between you about "who said what" and such.

The substantive issue, to which I direct any future comments by you or anyone else here is, in my deliberative judgment as moderator, this:

Is it the general characteristic of the universal church to ask of claims of revealed truth that they be corroborated in Scripture?

In a separate comment, to distinguish from this "Thus speaks the Moderator about the rules of discourse" comment, I give my own verdict!

Peter Carrell said...

As I understand movements within the theologians of Roman and Eastern persuasion within the past one hundred years, the tendency has been towards a renewal of acknowledgement of the role of Scripture in the corroboration of doctrine.

It is particularly noteworthy in the (relatively recent) Catechism of the Catholic Church the manner in which the doctrines set forth there are, as far as possible, anchored into Scripture. The Eastern Orthodox church, in my (albeit limited) understanding, make a great play of the Scriptural undergirding of its understanding of doctrine, and, indeed, of its reasoning why it disagrees with Rome on certain matters.

I use the word 'tendency' above because one can introduce the Assumption of Mary into debates about the course of Roman theology in recent times and cite the date of 1 November 1950 as an attempt to deny my point. But the tendency is there in Roman scholarship notwithstanding 1950.

My related point is that one or two doctrines here and there, whether dogmatically defined in the 1950s or not, do not necessarily undermine the case that the 'general characteristic of the universal church is to ask of claims of revealed truth that they be corroborated in Scripture.'

In this way, Protestants, Romans and Eastern Orthodox have much in common. There is also, bien sur, much which is different because of the way Scripture is read, to say nothing of different ways in which 'corroboration' is said to take place.

Nevertheless, on certain matters, and one might consider marriage, there is both near universal agreement in all the churches that marriage is between a man and a woman, as well as agreement that this is corroborated by the Scriptures.

Peter Carrell said...

A moderated comment from Bryden:

(1) The following is permitted through by me only to allow that it might clarify something above; and it does contain an apology. I am not at all convinced that "there remains confusion". Confusion would be confusion about the substantive issue which is not irenic versus ironic!:

"Peter, actually not at all; there remains confusion so:

BB - “That’s the first thing - which directly addressed the point Bosco was making re his being unable to see how his earlier remarks were anything but irenic - which of course they were [totally irenic], their tone being pretty neutral, while mine were deeply ironic, given his considerable time in Latin America!”


Thereafter: the original cry [for Biblical corroboration] was indeed mine, only to be repeated by Bosco in relation to there being no (apparent) such cries re the BVM in his Latin American encounters. To which I countered ... with non-cyberspace friendly irony. I’m sorry for not inventing such needed ‘tags’. Come on you computer geeks!"

(2) Only here, Bryden, do you address the substantive issue, as encouraged to do above:

"Lastly indeed: as for Bosco’s “I think your point is not “generally acknowledged in the Church”. The majority Christian position, held by Roman Catholics and Orthodox, differs from your assertion. Unless you are denying that majority as being “in the Church”.” Here we need to go back to what constitutes the ‘Great Tradition’. If one holds, as Martin and I do and have commented as such, this ‘Great Tradition’ to be that of exegesis and interpretation and commentary upon Scripture, then the Assumption of the BVM (and/or now the Immaculate Conception for that matter too) is not part of it. Only in the late middle ages do we get (a) the two source theory of revelation emerging, (b) Duns Scotus positing such things as the Immaculate Conception. Prior to that there is absolutely no consensus, and so NO ‘Great Tradition’ of which such things re the BVM being Assumed or Immaculata may be a part.

Latterly of course, only after such things as “two source theories of revelation” come seriously into play thanks to 14th C canon lawyers and then Trent, do we have the grand “majority Christian position” consolidating either the Dormition (Greek) or the Assumption (Latin) positions. Naturally - for their criteria are exactly as stated: “‘venerable’ pietistic ‘tradition’”, all of which is painstakingly researched by Stephen Shoemaker - including the ongoing differences between Dormition versus Assumption! Does one get the drift that the point of the Reformation has yet to be heeded?! [Let alone the paper I’ve prepared for ANZATS, already passed onto Bosco ...]
"

Father Ron Smith said...

As a mere onlooker to this intriguing conversation about the doctrine of the BVM's Assumption into heaven. There has been at least one such 'assumption', that of Elijah, in a whirlwind. One might ask, if this was good enough for a Prophet of God, may it not be good enough for the Mother of the Son of God?

Regarding the numbers game - which some people on this site seem to believe is evidence of The Truth among Christians - when one considers the joint tally of the Holy Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, they represent the great majority of Christians, and they believe in the bodily Assumption of the BVM (with the Orthodox, known as the Dormition) - and all without specific Scriptural reference. Are they not truly Chrisian? OR, is Scripture - without Tradition - the sole reference point for faith in Christ? If so, one wonders how the Faith grew before the New Testament was written and codified.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Peter for your graciously moderating these two comments, thus allowing some more iron to sharpen iron - without I hope more sparks! Tho even fire granted light in them olden days ... I.e. might the notion of the Great Tradition itself have a cut-off date parallel somewhat to the Bible's own canonization? Not a question I've had to put so sharply before. Or is Tradition just some ever rolling stream - that permits even changes of the degree now sought by so-called revisionists and their blessing of SS marriages?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Number prove nothing by themselves. Otherwise we would still believe in a flat earth.

But numbers point to the possibility that a belief should be considered. Mass hysteria might drive a crowd out of a safe picture theatre. But most times if everyone else shouts 'Fire' and leaves, it is a good idea to leave also.

Further, numbers may help us understand what a group presumption is. Nearly all Muslims do not believe in killing unbelievers: that is a good reason for thinking that the dominant interpretation of the Quran amongst Muslims is peaceful.

Most Christians do believe in the Assumption of Mary. That tells us the belief is widespread. It suggests we should look into it. Some have and find the notion wanting. (Your suggestion re Elijah is clever but remains speculation via analogy, not evidence via observation or testimony).But those of us who find it wanting do so via another widespread belief, that Scriptures corroborate doctrine.

Peter Carrell said...

Re tradition and Scripture, Ron and Bryden:

1. I point you to a wise observation by Brevard S. Childs on my sidebar: "The function of the Christian canon was to separate the apostolic witness from the ongoing tradition of the church, whose truth was continually in need of being tested by the apostolic faith."

2. Christians have never gotten by without Scripture. Jesus himself taught from the Hebrew scriptures. The apostles preached Jesus in the light of the same scriptures. Christian Scripture is the capturing of both those older writings and the writings which express our Lord's teaching and that of his apostolic band.

Anonymous said...

"Number prove nothing by themselves. Otherwise we would still believe in a flat earth."
- It was obvious in the 13th century, when Dante wrote Purgatorio, that the world was known to be spherical, and almost certainly long before that.

"Further, numbers may help us understand what a group presumption is. Nearly all Muslims do not believe in killing unbelievers: that is a good reason for thinking that the dominant interpretation of the Quran amongst Muslims is peaceful."

- But the dominant interpretation could be wrong, based on ignorance or misunderstanding of the text. Most Muslims know little of the Quran.

"Most Christians do believe in the Assumption of Mary. That tells us the belief is widespread. It suggests we should look into it."

Indeed we should. But truth isn't decided by numbers. Otherwise Anglo-Catholics should submit to Rome - in ethical as well as doctrinal matters.

"Some have [looked into it] and find the notion wanting."

Because they found it absent from the teaching of the apostolic and sub-apostolic church. If it really was one of the original beliefs of the earliest church, we should expect to find *some mention of it in Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, even the Shepherd of Hermas or Eusebius's traditions.

Martin

Anonymous said...

I should have course stated that the sphericality of the earth was known at least as early as Plato (Eratosthenes in 3rd C BC actually gave a very good estimate of the earth's circumference) and was the majority view throughout antiquity, incl. among Christian writers.
Martin

Bryden Black said...

Dear Bosco,

Woke this morning to an “Aha, I see said the blind man” type of thing, having also “awakened the dawn with lute and harp”. For I asked myself: “Put yourself in Bosco’s shoes and see it has he has encountered the words ...” And I did see it! It was that wee idiom, “anything but”, with its possible ambiguity, that did it! You took it one way; I meant it quite another, the opposite. So; apologies for the lack of clarity that dropped the pair of us (and the Moderator!) into it ...

As for the more substantive matter, see now my response to Ron.

Bryden Black said...

You are right Ron to allude to Elijah - and Enoch and Moses too from the OT period. But what exactly do these examples indicate? What does the presence of Elijah and Moses at the Transfiguration indicate? (Nor do I view this event as a ‘resurrection story relocated’ ala Bultmann, BTW.) Peter has already flagged such questions. Nor can we adduce e.g. Lazarus and/or those at the end of Matthew’s Gospel at the time of the crucifixion/resurrection; all these presumably died again.

Bosco’s take on the example of the BVM was briefly expressed thus: “the Glorious Assumption of the Mother of God body and soul into heaven before her body could begin to decay, as the first fruits of Christ's Resurrection, and the symbol and foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time.” At least, that’s what I take him “to indicate” by the Assumption; I’ve also heard it before.

Well; a certain cry should go up in relation to the plain meaning of 1 Cor 15:20-23, if that’s what the Assumption is trying to indicate. I have to say as well the numbers game is actually not that helpful in this respect. For what of the papacy itself - a locus of ecclesiology inextricably tied to Mariology on account of the two ‘infallible pronouncements’? How might the numbers stack up, Rome vs. the entire Eastern Orthodox Churches on the papacy?! True; both East and West have their versions of the end of Mary’s life. Just so once again those finicky details of the many varied texts examined by Stephen Shoemaker with great care. But things are far from uniform! Nor do they even try to tie things in with the rest of 1 Cor 15 for example; the nature of “Paradise” is more to the fore. I.e. NT corroboration is not even looked for in these traditions.

No; I sense that as we pursue more closely the actual rise of the Marian cultus across both Byzantine East and Latin West, and its eventual integration into other loci of the Faith, which very processes are far from uniform, we shall see just how ‘marginal’ Marian matters truly are - despite the actual numbers. True; ‘something’ is going on with all this stuff. But what exactly it does truly indicate, however, is far from assured, let alone certain. [And back again especially to my imminent ANZATS paper: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/40623476/The%20Solution%20of%20the%20Church.pdf ]

My bottom line after a visit to Medjugorje over four days last year, which was something of an anthropological-cum-theological field case study for me: if the RCC were to extol Jesus half as much as they do Mary, they might very well re-evangelize Europe within the decade. And they sure need to; other faiths are well and truly ensconced - secular humanism, Islam, New Age syncretism, etc.!!

Father Ron Smith said...

While all you lovely Christians are still working on the relevance and authenticity of the Assumption of the B.V.M., my wife, Diana, and I will be in the little hill-town of Assisi, visiting 'St. Mary of the Angels' - a tiny gem of church within a great Basilica erected in her name; which celebrates the traditional understanding of Mary, the Mother of God-in-Christ, as being with the holy angels. Francis was a devotee of the BVM - simply because she was God's choice to be the Mother of God's Son - and we, too, love her for the same reason.

So, while you're still wondering where she is, we will be enjoying their company, and will be off-scene for a couple of months with family and friends in Europe. Blessing on all!

Anonymous said...

"she was God's choice to be the Mother of God's Son"

Standard English would say '*his Son'. To repeat the noun 'God' in this way implies two different Gods (cf. 'Tom is reading Tom's book'). I don't think Ron means this when Ron writes this, so why does Ron not follow biblical and catholic practice and use the Spirit-given language of Scripture?

Martin (written by Martin's self)

Bryden Black said...

Enjoy the Umbrian scenery Ron!

liturgy said...

Why is it when I offer an example to illustrate a general point the energy seeps to the example – abandoning the discussion about the general point that it illustrates?

The general point, for me, was a discussion whether the assertion is correct that “when folks come along and allege some “new thing” to be ‘inspired of God’, the cry goes up: show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated”.

This discussion did meander along the pathway of two-source or one-source? The two-source being the dominant position developing since the Middle Ages. We should have noted as we walked that track, past Trent’s definition, “Any disjunction between Scripture and Tradition such as would treat them as two separate ‘sources of revelation’ must be rejected. The two are correlative…Holy Tradition completes Holy Scripture….By the term Holy Tradition we understand the entire life of the Church in the Holy Spirit.” [Agreed Statement Adopted by the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Commission, Moscow, 1976: 84]

Wandering through these woods, then, it may be fun and even important to stop at the Glorious Assumption of the Mother of God tree, but there are lots of other trees in this neck of the woods: only the episcopally ordained can preside at a valid Eucharist; one must first be a deacon before one can be a priest; a deacon cannot confirm; there is a purgatory; that’s four more trees in the “cannot be corroborated by the Scripture” part of the woods.

So – there is a part of these woods that can be corroborated by the Scripture. There is a part of these woods that it is debated whether it can (women’s ordination; infant baptism; women submit to their husbands;…). And then there is the part of these woods that, sorry, whether or not the cry goes up – you cannot “show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated”.

Peter has made a good and interesting point that Roman Catholicism has been putting much more effort into the first of those three parts of these woods. Better, I posit, than some who maintain that the other two are not part of the forest at all! Nonetheless, the majority position (in time and currently) is that these woods are all part of our (re)birth right. Discussing whether they are one or two separate woods may be of academic interest to some, but does not deny that, for the majority, the not-corroborated-by-Scripture is where we wander just as much as in the corroborated-by-Scripture part.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

re Martin's little bon mot; Today, in common with many modern church people, I prefer to speak of God in ways that acknowledge the Father's capacity to be also Mother. My use of the name 'God' co-inheres with my new understanding that non-sexist language is probably the fairest way to speak of the totality of the Holy Trinity - of Whom I was speaking in my recent post.

Why, even Jesus (male) spoke of wishing that he could be like a 'mother hen' who would gather chickens under her wing. I'm not sure God is too hung up on gender identification. That would seem to be a problem for patriarchal men.
_______________________________

Thanks, Bryden, for your good wishes. Assisi is one of our favourite places - one of the 'thin places' of this world wherein God's love becomes more tangible.

Peter Carrell said...

Martin: please do not make ad hominem comments, that is, do not tell people what they are really; do not ask them to draw the dots and join another church and that kind of thing. The following are your two most recent comments, heavily moderated:

(1) "...To sum up very briefly: liberal thought about 'the trinity' is modalistic and metaphorical; catholic thought is eternal and relational: there is no 'God the Mother' or 'God the Daughter'. 'Non-sexist' language for God is simply anther twist in the self-reflecting story of liberal Protestantism - even one with bells and incense."

(2)""Nonetheless, the majority position (in time and currently) is that these woods are all part of our (re)birth right."

No, it isn't. You speak as if the Reformation had never happened.

"Discussing whether they are one or two separate woods may be of academic interest to some,"

- it's not academic unless you think we all still believe in purgatory and intercession to the Saints

"but does not deny that, for the majority, the not-corroborated-by-Scripture is where we wander just as much as in the corroborated-by-Scripture part."

- wander or worship? ..."

Anonymous said...

Fair enough - then I will rephrase myself in a more impersonal way as follows:

1. The biblical language for God used by Christ and the Holy Spirit is revelatory and normative for Christians: 'Christ over culture'. It is no "improvement" to try to avoid using it, or to "supplement" it.

2. If you go down to the woods today, you could find yourself 'auf dem Holzweg' - lost, on the wrong path. Why exactly should we think that Catholic Marian piety and doctrine should be normative for Protestants? If we do think that, doesn't that call into question the legitimacy of the Protestant churches? A lot of exotic things can grow up in a forest, but that's what axes are (sometimes) for.

Martin

Shawn Herles said...

I disagree that the Sola Scriptura vs a two source notion is more than just of academic interest. It speaks to the heart of whether or not God has spoken, and how.

Discerning how God has spoken is thus vitally important in speaking to that which God has revealed.

In answer to Bosco's question, yes, it is correct to say that if anyone claims any new revelation outside of Scripture then it should be rejected outright as God's revelation of Himself is cobtained in Scripture alone.

Thus there is only one forest. Anything not in that forest is not special revelation.

Shawn Herles said...

Also, the issue of numbers is irrelevant. Truth is not determined by majorities, but by God. The fact that currently a majority may be in non-Sola Scriptura churches is not relevant. At one point Arianism was in the majority in the West.

If we allow any mechanism for adding to Scripture, we will end up perverting the truth to suit ourselves and our idolatrous hearts.

Shawn Herles said...

While the Bible does use female metaphors for God ( the mother hen) it never uses such language as personal pronouns, and for good reason.

This is not sexist. It is to preserve the nature and character of God in which pagan idols had (and still do) pervert our understanding of God.

Thus it is never acceptable to use "Mother God" instead of Father, especially as such language would have a dangerously corrosive and distorting effect on our Christology.

Father Ron Smith said...

"'Non-sexist' language for God is simply anther twist in the self-reflecting story of liberal Protestantism - even one with bells and incense." - Martin -

As it was, obviously, for Mother Julian? I can heartily recommend an intelligent reading of her epic "Revelations of Divine Love".

Her visions, of course, were not 'biblical', but they did influence much speculation about the being and nature of God. She quite liked the idea of Father/Mother God - and she was an English Christian!

Of course, not every visionary can be taken seriously. Joseph Smith, for instance. But there are many Saints, to whom Jesus has appeared in visions - even in our time. The Anglican mystic Dorothy Kerin was one such. Read about Burrswood and her Home of Healing, in Kent.

I shall be taking a 2 months rest from serious blogging. However, I will be watching ADU from afar. Enjoy my absence!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
So as you need not have doubt about my own views: I think you are out of line in your grizzle about pronouns and the use of 'God's self' and such.

Language is translatable and often ought to be translated. We live in a world in which it is self-reflectingly patriarchal and chauvinist to use 'he' and 'his' without aforethought for their effects on women feeling included in the world we create through our language. To translate these pronouns in creative ways towards inclusion of women (while, here I agree with you, trying very hard indeed to uphold the persons of the Trinity as persons, and to avoid lapsing into ancient errors pagans made about sexualizing the gods) is an appropriate, indeed loving and just thing to do.

Anonymous said...

And (because you are not touchy and I have spent most of my life studying and teaching languages, ancient and modern) I think you are wrong, Peter, because you are confusing talk about God with talk about human beings - with a bit of political cringe, maybe?
The biblical languages Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek are clear about pronouns. Even the verbs are gendered in Hebrew.
Language about human beings can change as we like, provided we accurately reflect the meaning of the ancient writers. If 'man' or 'men' have now been narrowed in meaning, then we can adjust, however inelegant the results.
But Christ's own language about God is NOT open to revision or correction; it is revelation, not suggestion. Similarly with the rest of the NT witness.
Mother Julian of Norwich was no more an apostle than I am. Her imaginative writing (like Joseph Smith's) must be tested against Scripture, not held up as deuterocanonical.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
My PC approach here is, "pastoral care" not "political cringe."

I had not realised that when Christ refers to God as he/ him and to the things of God as his, that I am thereby prohibited from, say, talking about God's people, God's self, and God as the object of a verb!

Anonymous said...

The custom of writing and talking about God in a gender-neutral way (or even a gender-switching way) began in liberal seminaries in the US in the 1970s, where students were instructed to write this way or lose marks. It is ideology-driven, and carries a heavy freight of Unitarianism and modalism. It has no foundation in the Bible or Christian tradition, is contrary to the practice of Jesus and his apostles (where we should find our true model of 'pastoral care'), and leads to barbaric English. Try talking about the (orthodox) Trinity in gender-neutral language: the result is absurd. The whole project is political in character, not theological.

Martin

Peter Carrell said...

There is no distinction in the kingdom of God between politics and theology,

The origins of language usage do not impinge on present day usage. Just because a four letter word has an honourable history in an ancient language does not make it acctable today. Nor the converse.

No one here using inclusive language as far as possible is also arguing for a tortuous way of referring to the Trinity,

Anonymous said...

"There is no distinction in the kingdom of God between politics and theology"

'My kingdom is not of this world.' :)

By 'politics' I mean the human quest to gain and hold onto power over others. This includes controlling speech. By 'theology' I mean the enterprise of seeking to speak truly about God. Not the same thing.

Martin

Tim Chesterton said...

My goodness; how hard we try to find things to fight about!

I choose not to use 'inclusive language' when I talk about God. Others who I know, love and respect choose to use inclusive language. Many of them are manifestly not 'liberal' or 'revisionist' or any other negative epithet that we can think of to throw at them. They love God, follow Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit. My understanding of God is undoubtedly flawed and incomplete. So is theirs. One day, we'll all know the answer. Until then, I suspect that God is more interested that we live holy lives, care for the poor, and not slander our neighbour than he is about whether we refer to him as 'he' or 'she' (given that both male and female are described as being made in God's image, there has to be female as well as male in God).

And as for 'sola scriptura', it's a rather circular argument, it seems to me. Where in scripture is the list of books that comprise the scriptures? Answer: nowhere. It's in the tradition. I say this, by the way, asa person who is instinctively a 'sola scriptura' kind of guy. I've just come to understand that you can't cross all the 't's and dot all the 'i's. Sometimes, it's messier than we think it is. Fortunately for me, it's not one of the questions I'll be asked at the 'dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts will be disclosed' (to quote from Holy Tradition - i.e. the 1662 BCP!)

Anonymous said...

Tim, what I'm really talking about is the progressive loss of the biblical understanding of God the Holy Trinity that we have in Protestant Christianity. If you don't think this has happened, then I beg to differ and think the evidence is all around us - not least in Canada. This loss begins when extra-biblical (ideologically-driven) controls are imposed upon "acceptable" language and ideas. I don't want to go all Orwell on this, but he definitely had a point.
Suspicions about what God "is more interested in" sound modest (if unproveable) but are diversionary, and are regularly invoked whenever any change in Christian practice and teaching is proposed.
As for the criticism of sola scriptura, this is exactly the point that the Orthodox make about evangelicals.

Martin

Bryden Black said...

My energy, as you put it Bosco, is directed to Marian matters because Mariology is not a mere illustrator of the saplings you planted in your forest. She is unique, as the two infallible papal dogmatic pronouncements clearly demonstrate. For such pronouncements have not been accorded any of the other examples mentioned. Nor have the titles of Immaculata, Mediatrix, and Co-redemptrix been applied to any other examples. As a case vis-à-vis Scripture hers is sui generis.

As for the substantive point you want addressed: the entire Protestant Reformation was just that - a protest! And one of the key matters they protested about and decried was the Marian cultus. To be sure; Luther honoured Mary as the exemplar of faith she most certainly is, the issue of faith especially fitting into his overall schema of justification. Now; such Protestant devaluing of Mary might have gone too far, in some circles, even in relation to Scripture. Terry’s text suggests as much. But historically, the cry has most certainly gone up! And it was prompted by certain perceived excesses that went beyond the bounds of Scripture. And the cry continues in key circles to this day ...

Furthermore, as many a Puritan divine will demonstrate, other examples you mention were similarly decried - and forcefully! Yet Hooker and Anglicanism took a typical via media re your saplings: bishops were ‘kosher’, since such an office, while not directly required in contradistinction from presbyters, was not “repugnant” to Scripture; yet certain ways of practising and understanding Holy Communion were taboo. But you know all this; what I find surprising is the lack of acknowledgment that Anglicanism is both Catholic and Reformed, both Reformed and Catholic. Consequently, it shares powerfully certain key moments when the cry has gone up that some traditional things cannot be corroborated by Scripture, the Reformation litmus test.

Which brings me finally to Eastern Orthodoxy. Their practice of Tradition is again sui generis. It is neither Roman nor Anglican. It does not align itself with the view that Tradition is the Church’s accumulation of interpretation and commentary on Scripture, the view that prevailed well into the second millennium, and normally called “single source”. Nor is it Tridentine, as you point out. Yet to affirm “Holy Tradition completes Holy Scripture” suggests Scripture is not “sufficient”, in direct denial of Article VI. Thank goodness I affirm the principle of reception when it comes to these ecumenical kite-flying exercises! And while it is most certainly good that any sector of the Church seeks to ground its formulations of the Faith in Scripture, as has been more evident in more recent years, what is still outstanding is the more careful evaluation of the very processes of tradition themselves. For when we apply our energies more adequately there, we might, just might, begin to see how and why certain matters emerged as they did. Then we might even be able to - horrors! - adjust our very views of what should constitute the body of Tradition, and what not, when gauged by Scripture itself. Those very Scriptures which are both the singular witness to and the unique instrument in the saving economy of the triune God, “the divinely appointed servant” (John Webster) of this economy.

So you see Bosco; what I am seeking is indeed a veritable via media, a due Holzwege, between the foot-loose and fancy-free rule(s) of liberalism and the overrated stance(s) of too weighty a Tradition, one that may lead us towards the Lichtung indeed!

Bryden Black said...

Re Martin, Peter and Tim on the language of God and the Trinity.

I am most sympathetic towards Martin on this one, even though I acknowledge sometimes we can be over precious. And the reason is simple: the program of inclusive language has hindered as much as it has tried to help, and perhaps hindered more than it has helped. Modalism has indeed been a crucial upshot, much of the time, and mere functionalism reigns in many a liberal Christian mind nowadays. We in ACANZ&P are no exception to this trend. Some examples.

“Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier/Life-Giver” cannot be an adequate Name for the Trinity, since God’s Being must be seen to be eternally triune; and if eternally so, then in a way that does not assume the need to even create or redeem or give life to others. As Athanasius said, “It would be more godly and more accurate or true to signify God from the Son and call Him Father, than to name God from his works only and call him Unoriginate.” And one of the reasons is precisely to establish who God is ad extra as the One God is in se. God does not just ‘appear’ as if “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. On the contrary, God IS “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

Another vital issue is the fact that the Name we use with which to address God impacts greatly on how we relate to God and God relates to us, and how we view this relationship. And if NOT explicitly Triune, then we are both dishonouring God and defrauding our salvation. For God’s triune divine nature governs the very economy of salvation. Personally, I’ve begun to be rather fed up with how many address God here in this diocese. Time and again, public prayers begin simply, “Loving God, ...”. How on earth does this annoy?!?! Well; the divine love with which we humans have been redeemed and in which we are to participate is the most exquisitely intimate affair in the entire universe. And that form of address is ... well; just so impersonal! so unaffectionate! so thin!! When compared to “Abba! Father!”, that is. Back to Athanasius: we are to share nothing less than the divine, triune nature! Embrace it - FULLY! Or rather, let the Trinity fully embrace you/us. So Gal 4:9! And so, Gal 4:4-6 rules; OK!!

Peter Carrell said...

Er, Bryden, wouldn't that way be Jesus?

Anonymous said...

Not surprisingly, I must agree with Bryden here, as I too find many modern liturgical prayers rather bloodless and falling short of the vigour and warmth of faith of previous years, let alone the NT. Thin indeed, with little power to kindle faith and love. A cursory glance of NT prayers shows the typical forms of address to God as 'Lord', 'Lord God', 'Father', 'God our Father' and 'Lord God Almighty' and similar covenantal language. Why would we want to pray one way *to God, and then affect a different way of talking *about God? Wouldn't we then be sending a message that our way of praying to God isn't really (or adequately) true? But isn't a Christian at his or her truest when praying? lex orandi lex credendi - atque discendi vivendique.

Martinus Precator

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin and Bryden,

My most frequent address of God, and expecially in contexts where I do not want to presume too much about the faith of those present, is, "Loving God ..."

Call it bloodless if you will. But the Trinity is the Trinity of love and the loving God to whom I pray is the dynamic inter "persons" love of Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin and Bryden,

My most frequent address of God, and expecially in contexts where I do not want to presume too much about the faith of those present, is, "Loving God ..."

Call it bloodless if you will. But the Trinity is the Trinity of love and the loving God to whom I pray is the dynamic inter "persons" love of Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Bryden Black said...

If the "way of Jesus" = Lk 11:1-13, then we are in agreement. IF ...

Bryden Black said...

I do not know whether Martin was punning, but “bloodless” is exactly right! For when folk - even good folk such as your dear self, Peter - address the divine, “Loving God, ...”, I have more recently begun to query: “Now; which God are you addressing here?! What is the form of ‘salvation’ on offer here that you are entreating the deity for?!” (For of course many a deity is ‘loving’ - of sorts ... Otherwise why pray at all at all?)

The Name of the Trinity automatically spells all that out, and dare I say it, necessarily spells that out. For the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ invites those “in Christ Jesus” into that Name; they are invited to share in that Name; they are invited to address precisely that Name; and wonder of wonders, to be addressed by that Name! The Trinity is nothing but a “summary concept” (Eberhard Jüngel) of the Gospel itself - crucifixion and all, the real Sitz im Leben for talk of God’s Love (or so 1 Jn 4 would suggest!).

Karl Rahner puts it simply but elegantly, most Christians are “mere monotheists”. And consequently, they sell themselves drastically short and even dishonour the One who has redeemed them, since the inheritance into which Christians are called is only adequately displayed when we appreciate the Name - or so Galatians would suggest. Please do not accommodate your public displays of faith to those around you, Peter. They will never catch that faith if you water it down; they might even be attracted if you heat it up, as Paul in Galatians so enthusiastically does!

liturgy said...

I sense a shift.

Whilst I could not go with you, Bryden, to every new thing leading to a cry going up, “show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated”(May 28, 2013 at 5:33 PM),

I am very happy to go with Hooker, Anglicanism, and others who accept things that are “not ‘repugnant’ to Scripture” (June 3, 2013 at 10:11 PM).

In fact, I think that most Christians can go with this latter – Roman Catholics and Orthodox included.

I am not engaging just in rhetoric; I am genuinely trying to engage in dialogue.

I want to dig deeper into the penultimate paragraph of June 3, 2013 at 10:11 PM.

If “the view that prevailed well into the second millennium” is “the view that Tradition is the Church’s accumulation of interpretation and commentary on Scripture” – how is it then that the same paragraph has that Orthodoxy does not hold to this? If Orthodoxy does not hold to this then it is not “the view that prevailed” – it is one view amongst others. Where do we find this view expressed explicitly? At an early stage?

Tim Chesterton has already highlighted the very minimum that is in the part of the woods that [sorry, whether or not the cry goes up] you cannot “show me the Scripture where this may be corroborated”. Ie. the canon of the scriptures. Maybe some hold that is the only tree in that part of the woods.

It seems to me that “the view that Tradition is the Church’s accumulation of interpretation and commentary on Scripture” can certainly not allow any further trees there and can only allow that canon-tree begrudgingly.

Blessings,

Bosco

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Bosco for the shift in tone ...

Re you first few paragraphs. I sense Bosco for myself that much of the strength of those cries/heat generated by Marian matters is precisely the view that titles like those I mentioned were and are actually “repugnant” to Scripture with its claim about Jesus being “the one mediator”.

Re the para you wish to delve into some more. Yes; there is an apparent failure of logic! That’s the trouble with speed writing for a blog! That said, I’d have to say - as far as I know the Eastern Tradition and its slow developments; quite a caveat that! - their view for at least the first 1000 years was more akin to the one source theory than anything else (although there is the added feature of their holding VERY firmly to the Seven Ecumenical Councils which are more honoured, one senses). There is a discernible shift though with Gregory Palamas - which was what I had more in mind when I first wrote that para. And the legacy he has left (taken up mightily by people like Lossky, although tempered by others among the Orthodox) colours their Tradition uniquely, a colouring I can only describe as excessively Neo-Platonic: e.g. offsetting God’s essence from his energies. Any help?

As for Tim’s canonical tree you home in on: I seriously think he and you do not assess the historical processes by means of which the canon was acknowledged. That last word is vital! The Church did not decide in the sense like any government might regarding road rules: let’s drive on the left or right side of the road; for US only, free turn on Red; etc. No; what the Fathers had to ‘decide’ was to acknowledge and recognise what was already evidently the case by sheer facts on the ground regarding the perceived authority of certain writings. The very best summary of this entire issue (to my mind) is provided by John Webster in both Holy Scripture (2003) and now The Domain of the Word (2012). To say canonicity is a part of Church Tradition because the Church created the canon is a furffy.

Bryden Black said...

Oops! Last word misspelt: Furphy! More haste: apologies ...

liturgy said...

Having spent time on Mount Athos (and of course in Thessaloniki) I have strong interest Gregory Palamas. Perhaps we could follow the Orthodox and dedicate a Sunday to him alongside our celebration of our Holy Constitution!

I cannot see how you come to conclude that “[you] seriously think [Tim] and [I] do not assess the historical processes by means of which the canon was acknowledged.” For what you describe is the exact understanding that I would articulate had you asked. But your articulation is no different to what might be said of another tree near there – the requirement of episcopal ordination for Eucharistic presidency. Again, it might be said of that, “The Church did not decide in the sense like any government might regarding road rules: let’s drive on the left or right side of the road; for US only, free turn on Red; etc. No; what the Fathers had to ‘decide’ was to acknowledge and recognise what was already evidently the case by sheer facts on the ground regarding the perceived authority of certain [ways of organising Christian leadership].” Your error lies in presuming that Tradition is something the church might “decide in the sense like any government might regarding road rules”. “The Church created the canon” in the same understanding as the Church created the New Testament texts themselves. So one might say of the other nearby tree that I am highlighting that the Church created episcopacy in the same manner.

What I am still waiting for, is the answer to my question: where is an early, explicit statement of “the view that Tradition is the Church’s accumulation of interpretation and commentary on Scripture” and no more [the canon excepted]?

ps. In the tradition “furphy” can also be spelled as “furfie”.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

"What I am still waiting for, is the answer to my question: where is an early, explicit statement of “the view that Tradition is the Church’s accumulation of interpretation and commentary on Scripture” and no more [the canon excepted]?"

I don't know enough early historical theology to answer this question, but then, fools rush in where (other) Anglicans fear to tread ....
Perhaps it didn't occur to people in the early centuries to frame the question exactly that way because they assumed their practices had biblical warrant or because they didn't clearly distinguish between their theological method with its background in Greek philosophy and rhetoric and their biblical exegesis. A great deal of medieval Mariology is based on OT exegesis we would probably think rather fanciful now: the ark of the covenant prefiguring Mary, Elijah and the Stella Maris, Gen. 3.15 and Eva/Ave etc. Rev 12 was also pressed into service. It was exegesis, Jim, but not as we know it: e.g. 'plena gratia' "proving" the Immaculate Conception and the sinlessness of Mary. Sometimes you get the feeling they began with a practice or belief and found a text to support it.
But I cannot think of a time when the Church proposed a doctrine without a biblical foundation, however exiguous, and I find it interesting that the Trinitarian disputes of the 4th century did turn on the *adequacy of biblical exegesis. Both the Arians and the Cappadocians claimed biblical warrant for their beliefs; but in his 'Theological Orations' Gregory Nazianzen used over 750 biblical citations and allusions to make his points, to argue that the Trinitarian position enshrined in 381 makes *better sense of *more Scripture than the subordinationist Arian position.
The Reformation didn't come to the Eastern Churches (pace Cyril Lucaris) and they were too preoccupied in surviving the assaults of Islam to deal with other questions, or to question 'Holy Tradition'.

Martin

Bryden Black said...

OK Bosco; first up: I’ll try to discern and display the difference in the two processes, canonicity and bishops/the Eucharist.

1. The simplest answer is, if it were as you/I say, a simple case of “facts on the ground”, re both, then why/how did the Reformation debate regarding the episcopal requirement versus presbyterianism flare up so?! Especially with regards to the cry of the day, Ad Fontes?!
Monarchial bishops might be ‘clearly visible’ to some as early as Ignatius’ Letters; and yet even the early days of the Arian struggles reveal another, equal dynamic: Alexander, as bishop of Alexandria, did NOT enjoy a monarchial position among all the clergy in his own city! Rather, the locally exiled ones like Arius could easily aver to other leaders, which they did! I.e. even by the beginning of the 4th C, what we take as a due ‘monarchial episcopal picture’ had not become formalized. The entire nature of the dynamics of the Arian struggle for much of the century is only explicable if monarchial episcopacy was not (yet) formally the case. [There is more data from the 3rd C too, from North Africa, which I am also familiar with, but the point is made, I hope, by allusion to the subsequent later date.] And yet the canon was pretty well sorted by this time ...

Bryden Black said...

2. The answer to “your question” re “the view”: well; first off, how early is “early”? If Ignatius is early, then clearly not; if the setting of the early 4th C is early, then again perhaps not. Both answers based on the above. But perhaps this temporal dimension is the wrong initial avenue of approach; or rather, not really the ‘engine’ of “the view” itself.

Instead (and here I throw all caution to the wind as Martin’s “fool”!), my own answer has more to do again with sheer facts on the ground: it’s what Church teachers actually did - they commented upon Scripture and/or their perception of the Apostolic Tradition as enshrined in those Scriptures. I.e. just read the Fathers! Read Clement; read Justin; read Augustine even; or Maximus - and NOTE WELL: what are they actually doing much of the time?! Yet saying this is not adequate or fair again, and for similar reasons to the above: the facts on the ground are richer and more complex (as in Alexandria and environs re supposed monarchial episcopacy).
Lewis Ayres says this in Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology (Oxford 2004), commenting on what he terms a “dual-focus anthropology”: “where problems with unsanctified human thinking and action - and the cure for those problems - are described by exploring how human beings should possess a trained soul that animates the body and attends to their joint τέλος in the divine presence through contemplation of God” (p.326). Which is his formal summary of the development of an entire, specific “culture” and habitus with its concomitant “life of the mind”, a set of cultivated practices of intellect and body resulting in due purification of body and mind, and so communion with and in Jesus Christ and so life within the triune God. So Nicaea and Its Legacy, chs 11-13, addressing necessarily Scriptural reading habits and goals as well (pp.335-341 specifically). I.e. the production and confession of what we’d term Nicene creedal orthodoxy was a function of an entire strategic development of a quite specific theological imagination, coupled with a necessary way/form of life, focussing especially upon the ‘reading’ - and so commentary upon! - Scripture. All this by the end of the fourth century - or so Ayres.
[Another (re)source for me, and one which is right up your street I guess, is TF Torrance’s essay “The Mind of Christ in Worship: The Problem of Apollinarianism in the Liturgy”, in Theology in Reconciliation: Essays towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West (Chapman 1975), ch.4, which stresses again the links between theologia, theoria and eusebeia, and so making similar points to Ayres. So again, by the end of the 4th C.]

A final aside: if one really wants to get under the skin of Calvin’s “theological imagination”, read his commentaries not his Institutes; and likewise - I am told by those who know far more about Thomas than I - a number of key Aquinas scholars nowadays are turning not to his Summa but to researching his biblical commentaries to get into his own “mind” more deeply. That is, the situation sketched by Ayres continued for centuries, even as the terrain changed and ‘scholasticism’ emerged!

Happier now?! Although probably not that happy with Article VI ...

liturgy said...

The information about monarchical episcopacy (abandoned in NZ) is another fascinating deviation, but that is what it continues to be – yet another distracting deviation. My example was about the requirement for episcopal ordination in order to preside at the Eucharist. Post-Reformation contra-examples (Bishop Brian Tamaki springs to mind) may be interesting but, from my perspective, they reinforce the problem with rather than argue in favour of Tradition = reflection on scripture.

The claim being made is that Church Tradition is identical to the historic reflection on scripture. My question remains, to phrase it differently, when was this concept first explicitly articulated? If the first time that has been explicitly stated was by Dr Bryden Black on such and such a date – so be it.

That Christians have reflected on scripture throughout history is, to me at least, not surprising. Reflecting on scripture is certainly part of tradition, but IMO it is not the whole of it, nor to be identified with it. I have now given two examples within the tradition that cannot be corroborated in scripture.

Certainly, the scriptures have an irreplaceable place and role within Christian tradition, but I continue to not see an identification of tradition with reflection on scripture and think that identification is self-defeating.

Blessings,

Bosco