Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What Preludium doesn't get!

Mark Harris at Preludium has a blogging go at the ABC inviting ACNA Primate to the Primates' Meeting in January 2016.

On the face of it, he has a point. ACNA is not on the list, not named in the Communion's book of Anglican life. Foley Beach should not figure in this meeting. End, of, story.

But what Mark's post does not appear to understand is a view widely held across other parts of the Communion - so I understand - that TEC has left the Communion (cf. reiterated talk in past years re 'walking apart'). It is Ecclesia Non Grata. How then is the ABC to proceed to call a meaningful meeting of primates if his list of Gratae Ecclesiae is different to the list held by others (at least as written in their own minds)? There is no Communion if primates do not turn up en masse. If inviting Foley Beach is the way forward to some kind of meaningful primates meeting or Primates Meeting then that is, to coin another term of diplomacy, the realpolitik of the situation.

I vote for Justin's realpolitik.

Forget the list. Think about relationships!


williamp said...

The real deficiency inherent in the ABC's proposed "same-room" meeting doesn't revolve around an invitation by ABC to ACNA and certain seminaries. The real problem is the risk to the Communion inherently associated with a meeting where consideration of discipline is apparently to be verboten in the case of a province such as TEC that's in essence thumbed its nose at the Communion for over a decade. ABC isn't going to find this very real, negative issue easier to deal with by means of a "same-room" meeting. In fact, the result may be that the issue may likely become harder for ABC to deal with since, in the absence of an assurance of consideration of the disciplinary matter, the fact would remain that after such a meeting the thwarting of discipline by a province of the Communion would remain a continuing, negative reality. Thus the real issue becomes: Is there wisdom in ACNA/seminaries/Global South attending a meeting regardless of the nature of the meeting?

Kurt said...

Father Mark does have a point. However, I'm willing to give the ABC the benefit of the doubt. Certainly, if we can heal the rift and bring ACNA back into the fold (even though it might be years in the future) it's probably worth trying. Time will tell...

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

williamp is probably nearer to the reality of the problem facing the ABC when he cites the Archbishop of Canterbury's incapacity to deal with what williamp sees as "the absence of an assurance of consideration of a disciplinary matter by TEC" that does not, per se, fall under the powers of the ABC to administer.

TEC's disciplinary processes of its own polity remains within the ambit of its own canons at the level of General Convention. This is a reality that impinges on, say, any Gafcon Province's disciplinary processes that decide to do along with the local government's persecution of homosexuals and their supporters at the local level.

What williamp obviously is not aware of is that the ABC has no disciplinary power to kick anyone out of the Anglican Communion. And nor does any other Provincial Primate have that power.

Gafcon's refusal to sit down at the Table of The Lord with other Provincial Church members is already a break with tradition that exceeds the seriousness of any other behaviour on the part of a Communion Province - against koinonia. This is what the ABC needs to overcome in his laudable attempt to restore Communion solidarity.

Neither TEC nor that Anglican Church of Canada has broken the bonds of Table Fellowship with any other Province that requires restoration of koinonia. That schismatic action is what requires restoration before fellowship can be restored.

Father Ron Smith said...

Part II. I like the idea of TEC 'thumbing its nose' at the ACC, when in fact, Gafcon did just that on a massive scale with its erection of its own doctrinal statement of 'orthodox Anglicanism' - spurning the Lambeth Quadrilateral and replacing it with the 'Jerusalem Declaration'

In setting up its own statement of Faith, that defines 'Orthodox Anglicanism' as being based on a Sola-Secriptura view oif the Bible, the 39 Articles and the 'Jerusalem Declaration'; Gafcon and Acna have broken fellowship on a fundamentalist scale that over-rides any adiaphoral change to the tradition made by Provinces such as TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Church of England, that are presently being contested by the dissidents in the communion.

williamp said...

There was no assumption inherent in my comment re discipline that ABC had the power to "kick anyone out of the Communion". However, I certainly imagine the existence of ABC's power to seek some form of action relative to action taken by a province against the specific plea of a Communion official--i.e., the predecessor ABC--with the responsibility the actor would bear for resulting outcomes. Although errors and unwise actions occur by all and at all times, that doesn't excuse overlooking facts and the responsibilities relating to the facts.

Father Ron Smith said...

Any disapproval measured out against TEc and the A.C. of C. for its inclusivity, ought, surely be matched by a like disapproval of the active anti-gay activity of the Gafcon Provinces. Or do you not agree?

Bryden Black said...

I sense Ron your reading of (particularly recent) history is really rather ‘selective’.

When the then ABC, Rowan Williams, called a hasty meeting of the Primates to try to address the election of Gene R to the New Hampshire see of TEC (then ECUSA), saying that his consecration - a future event from the date of that Primatial Meeting - “would tear the fabric of the Communion”, the Americans went ahead with that very consecration, despite Griswold’s attendance with his peers. And thereafter, as we know, the Windsor Report tried to assess the overall situation, balancing various moratoria re both border crossings and the entire issue of partnered homosexuals (whether in leadership - America - or as couples - Canada). But history will justly say that TEC was itself a significant actor in the drama of the AC’s being torn apart post Lambeth 1998 - even as there were surely other responsible actors too ...

For true; the Global South and subsequently GAFCON around the time of Lambeth 2008 added to the “tearing”, in various ways. Yet their responses too were a direct result of the failures of the ACC and subsequent Primates’ Meetings to follow through calls to address TEC’s additional ‘progress’, via its own General Conventions, altering the Tradition’s theology and practice of Marriage, a key anthropological datum.

The only sanction the ABC has - which was clearly pointed out in TWR - was to uninvite bishops to Lambeth. I know of at least two bishops who were not invited to 2008: Gene R and Nolbert Kunonga, each for very different reasons, with the former coming to England anyway and running something of his own side-show at the time.

And all the while, as suggested in TWR, the ABC established a high powered AC group to write up an AC Covenant, which went through various drafts. As you may recall, I myself proposed a motion to our own diocesan synod re the Ridley Cambridge Draft in 2009, which passed and to which our diocesan +VM was most favourable - even though section 4 was still at that stage itself under review, with sections 1-3 also being received affirmatively by our own provincial GS.

True again; that entire Covenant idea has seemed to hit something akin to quick sand. BUT has it?! Watch this space still among GS churches (NOT to be confused directly with GAFCON and/or FCA). Church history continues to grind its way slowly, even in this hi-tec age of the internet and global travel. [And true enough; the ABC's ‘interventions’ in the ACC meeting in Jamaica almost single handedly scuppered his own dream of the Covenant, as any brief look at the video of Anglican TV Ministries of that fateful 8th May 2009 will show. Such is also the influence, not to say power, of the President of the ACC - malgré lui.]

Fast forward to Jan 2016. Of course the current ABC would invite the Archbishop of ACNA to a “gathering” of Anglican global leaders, as he tries to kick-start again some means of repairing our torn AC fabric. ACNA is a spiritual force on the ground in North America to be reckoned with - just as there are countering winds also blowing. Whether his attempt is a piece of whistling into the wind I personally do not know. Nor do I know how either GAFCON or GS churches will respond - either ahead of the gathering or during or afterwards. On verra; we shall see ... History is still very much in the making - and not least among the churches of our own Province.

June Butler said...

Archbishop Justin could disinvite the Presiding Bishop of TEC to the Primates meeting, and he could exclude the bishops of the Episcopal Church from the next Lambeth meeting, but that's about it. He can do whatever he likes about ACNA. I agree with Mark Harris.

For the ABC to mess about in his own yard is fine. For the ABC to mess about in our yard, for even the best sorts of reasons, is exercising a ministry of uninvited super - primatial oversight.

The ABC is repeating the same mistake as his predecessor by interfering in affairs of TEC that are none of his business. I am surprised.

Father Ron Smith said...

For Bryden: Archbishop Rowan made his statement about 'breaking the fabric of the Communion' - with his involvement in Jeffrey John's enforced withdrawal from election as the Bishop of Reading in the same year very much in mind - and was forced by the G.S. to address Bishop Gene Robinson's election by the episcopal Church.

Here is the evidence, from a web-log article:

" Almost the first thing the newly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had to do was quell the rebellion fomented by Jeffrey John’s appointment. There was only one way to do that — John stepped down. Being made Dean of St Albans was his consolation prize."

Bullied by Primates of the Global South - from which Gafcon emerged - The ABC had already been threatened with their promise of withdrawal if a Gay person was ever elected to the episciopate on the Anglican Communion. In the light of TERC's acceptance of their own gay bishop, Rowan had little recourse but to make the protest you referred to.

This bit of history is sometimes conveniently ignored by those who blame TEC for the 'breakdown'. Jeffrey John's election and subsequent enforced abandonment was a very early marker in the play. And, don't forget the events of the iniquitous Lambeth 1:10, on which occasion an African Primate tried to 'exorcise' a gay priest present.

June Butler said...

Thanks for the reminders, Fr Ron. Rather than poking his nose into TEC's affairs, perhaps Justin Welby might consider using his skills to reconcile with gay clergy in the Church of England.

The Rev. Lauren A. Gough, (ret.) said...

For those who live far off, this discussion may seem like a theological or a matter of Order. But for those of us who live in the dioceses in TEC that have been terrorized by ACNA for some years now, I can assure you that just getting ACNA and TEC in the same room produces MAJOR problems for us. We have had ACNA bishops who have taken funds and real property of the Church and moved them to private accounts often in other states. We are still in litigation because some of the ACNAites still hold these properties even though they have been clearly disciplined and removed from office. The audacity of the ABC to 'recognize' ACNA bishops hurts the day to day lives of those of us who remain loyal to the legitimately-elected, constitutional authority of the Episcopal Church.

Over the past 20 years, the larger Anglican Communion has complained bitterly about women's ordination, ordination of women bishops, etc. Yes, we have gone out on a limb to address issues that have been difficult for some in the Communion. But over the past 20 years, many have come to accept women's ordination and consecration over time. How the world and the Church will address LGBTQ issues still remains to be seen. We are not a single entity. We are a Communion, not a Church. We did not get upset when New Zealand produced a rather controversial prayer book some 30 odd years ago--a prayer book that began a whole new theological approach to worship. Each Church has the power to deal with the issues that are pertinent to each area. But GafCon's refusal to be in communion with the people of TEC, speaks of THEIR refusal, not ours. It is their choice to not be in communion, not ours. It is heartbreaking that there are those who cannot open themselves to the love of Christ or to stand even in the willingness to confer. But the acknowledging of those who have been duly disciplined for their misdeeds and disobedience to the Constitution and Canons of the Church that ordained them, says that the ABC is interfering with a Church's ability to govern itself.

That acknowledgement is used by the lawyers of ACNAites in courts of law to continue to rob those of us who are trying to proclaim Christ in honesty and truth of the basics of being able to pay our clergy, minister to the people of our locale and prevents the re establishment of TEC in areas that have been harassed by those who disregard the basics of Christian behavior.

Bryden Black said...

Many thanks Ron for your response - tho curiously you continue to illustrate just that selectivity which prompted my first comment. How so?

While context is certainly helpful, even important, the way you construct the JJ affair is ... well, selective.

I remember it well and the domestic reaction to his candidacy. But the quote you drop in illustrates the sort of high moral ground gambit to which I’m wanting to point. The use of words like “rebellion” and “consolation prize” give the game away. And who are these folk who are opposing the choice of JJ? You fail to clarify and make no direct link; but is one to assume they are the “bullies” with which you immediately follow?! And wow! That’s a pejorative term if ever there was one! On what basis do you call these people this?! And what is the deemed relationship with the domestic response and these suddenly imported characters from GS? [For another account, please see Rowan’s Rule by Rupert Shortt, pp.264-77; and I personally know some of those cited in the summary at the end.]

Yes; context is helpful. But why is Lambeth 1998's 1.10 (as part of that context) suddenly “iniquitous”, pray tell? Another pejorative, surely. And what’s the difference between the American ‘politicking’ both before and during L 1998 and the actions of the now majority GS - whom you go on to describe as “bullies”?

Yes; context is important - vital even. For ahead of L 1988, Robert Runcie, then ABC, was in America presenting what became published as Authority in Crisis? An Anglican Response (SCM, 1988). As he states in the Preface, “the question of authority underlies the particularities of the detailed agenda, and they will have to take decisions of lasting consequence for the future of the Communion.” One item on the agenda was of course women’s ordination. [One of the most curious and problematic things about much of our contemporary dilemmas is the continued insistence by some that matters of “gender” are simply a package deal, extrapolating from WO direct to LGBTQI in a straight line: this is a severe category mistake!] And if I mention Runcie, it is also to point to his being cited in TWR at §66, using his Opening Address to L 88, where he concludes: “I believe the choice between independence and interdependence, already set before us as a Communion in embryo twenty-five years ago, is quite simply the choice between unity or gradual fragmentation.” For those who have insisted upon “independence” - the “local option”, in whatever form - his conclusions are hardly prophetic; they are inevitable. Judges 21:25 redivivus ... But as Runcie also asks, “How do we articulate or structure our interdependence?” In other words, what form of authority might undergird our present disparate (if not dissolute) groupings?

Fast forward: that comes home to roost right here in ACANZ&P. For even if we were to grant a certain “integrity” to both sections 1a and 1b of Motion 30 from our own GS last year, the question remains: what integrity (viz. authority) might the single “structure” possibly have in which each group resides???!!!

In other words, Ron, it is only by a judicious reading of history - which ever grinds away slowly, as I said last time - that we may better learn to go forward. As Butterfield used to say: “Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.”

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, I was actually in auckland when Archbishop Robert Runcie addressed a group of N.Z. Women Clergy - at the Auckland Franciscan Friary - on the matter of ordaining women clergy in the Church of England. What he learned there would no doubt have influenced his own opinion of how the Church of england should proceed on this justice initiative. However, there can be little doubt that the majority of the may-sayers in the Church of England would have outweighed anything that ++Robert might have to say when he returned to the U.K.

The same problem has occured with the Church of england's reluctance to fulfil the justice needs of the LGBT community in the Church. The conservatives have applied the brakes on any forward action that would have liberated this minority group from the traditional culture of homosphoba and sexism that the Church had - on the surface in the U.K. - fostered for much of its existence.

Your view of history may be just as prejudiced ass mione - or anybody else's. We are crfeatures of our environment. You were brtought up in Continental Africa; I was brought up in England and Aoteroa/New Zealand, where human justice issues have generally been more readily addressed.

I believe that ACANZP is adult enough to want to bring justice to those in the Church and community are different because of their gender or sexuality. Motion 30 will eventually bear fruit - the fruit of justice and integrity.

Jean said...

Personally it just seems like a common sense approach. ACNA has sought oversight from the Global South and therefore their desire to be in the Anglican Communion worldwide is being recognised. TEC has always been a part of the Communion. Rather than interferring with an internal problem it is rising above it by inviting all.

From what I understand, and church bodies taking parishes or dioceses to court I do not understand, TEC has instigated most of the litigation involved between churches/dioceses within it's borders who have decided they can't operate under the present doctriine of TEC but have stewardship over the buildings and parish finances, and in most cases TEC have won. So the parishes move. Not much of a victory there for anyone.

Father Ron Smith said...

June and Lauen, thanks for your respective comments on this blog. I want to assure you both that there are many in of us the Anglican Church of Aotearoa. New Zealand & Polynesia (ACANZP) who are grateful for TEC's leadership on issues of justice and integrity towards the marginalised of the Anglican Cchurches around the world.

Congratulations on the appointment of your new Presiding bishop, who, I am sure, as an African-American bishop of an inclusive provenance, will continue in the succession of leadership initiatives bringing an eirenic openness to all people into the Body of Christ The Church is a 'hospital for sinners, not a mausoleum for saints. Why is it that some Christians cannot understand that God so LOVED the world.....?

Don't worry too much about ACNA. There are many breakaway 'churches' from their parent bodies in Ekklesia Anglicana, but you will survive because your mission is based on love, rather than self-righteousness - a preference for which Jesus gave his life.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
Thank you for many vital and valid (as far as they go) comments.
The history is controverted, the present is uncertain.
I want to reiterate that, in my best understanding, ACNA being invited is nothing to do with anyone bullying anyone, in the past or the present, but has everything to do with 'recognition', and not the recognition of ACNA per se, but the recognition of the majority view of member churches of the Communion, that business cannot continue as usual once TEC decided that Anglican views on human sexuality (as represented in Lambeth 1998 1.10) would not continue in the usual way of church tradtion.
That is, ACNA being invited is a sign that the majority of the Communion is not being silenced by the Western minority.
We in the West may not like what is happening and it may alarm us from perspectives such as 'justice' and 'independent governance' but that, in my best understanding, is the way it is.
The alternative is a kind of rump Communion consisting of Western Anglican churches singing from the same hymn sheet.
Is that what we want?

Bryden Black said...

Curiouser and curiouser, Ron. To the point that one could be quite scathing - but that would not be charitable nor probably serve the cause of the justice you seemingly seek.

A number of years ago I alluded on ADU you’d totally misconstrued the matrix of my Christian perceptions. Clearly now it will serve us both to make it plain. I schooled for 13 years in the Great British Isles, from a home base my parents bought in the mid ’50s. But perhaps this was not too surprising, as my grandparents had themselves bought an English home prior to WW2, where too countless NZ armed services’ personnel were welcomed for a time of RnR during the war. True; my first degree was from an institution outside Europe - even if it was sponsored by an English university; but then many a ‘red brick’ too was initially established that way. And the key to my time away from those heady European days of the 60s and early 70s was that the physical distance afforded just the necessary mental distance to effect the possibility of a far deeper Christian conversion than might have been otherwise if I’d remained in Europe. This became clear to me when I returned to England for ordination training at Wycliffe Hall, before serving eventually in Harare for 8 tumultuous years.

These are bare historical facts.

Arising from such a profound series of cross cultural experiences during my first 30+ years has been an acute sensibility to precisely cultural bias. And so when you continue to select the vocabulary you employ, attempting to bolster your own preferred position, such wording as “justice initiative/needs”, “liberated”, “homophobia”, and “sexism” merely flash themselves like any New Year firework display from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You seem utterly blind to their own ideological alloy,* mixed into a supposed Christian narrative and discourse. THAT is what lies at the heart of the Western Church’s stubborn and autonomous refusal to listen patiently to her brothers and sisters from the Majority World - whose “adult” maturity by the way, especially in places like Singapore or the Middle East or the Southern Cone, and even parts of Sub-Sahara Africa, is the just fruit of Europe’s sacrificial Christian missionary zeal, once the hallmark of the Western Church, but alas now long forsaken, as it sought to establish a due counter-cultural Gospel kingdom of God, in Christ Jesus.

* Once more I repeat my comments under “Are women bishops a collusion with culture or development of Galatians 3:28?” (Thursday, January 29, 2015), time-stamped February 4, 2015 at 8:39 PM, and February 7, 2015 at 5:27 PM.

Father Ron Smith said...

"The alternative is a kind of rump Communion consisting of Western Anglican churches singing from the same hymn sheet.
Is that what we want?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Well, Peter; I do think that 'singing from the same hymn sheet - rather than the same screen projection (which can be defective) - is probably more in line with what Jesus prayed for: Unity around Him, rather than adiaphoral issues that are cultural, rather than part of the seminal message of the Gospel.

I have complete confidence in the Holy Spirit bringing about whatever result God wants from the Primates' Meeting. If it means a leaner and fitter Church in the West, then that may solve the current crisis of ecclesiological differences brought about by a culture if intentional schism.

Numbers, after all, are not everything - especially where justice and peace are involved. "They'll know you're my disciples by your love".

Happy Saint Luke's Day!

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, just one comment on your 'provenance'. With all due respect, the Church in England and New Zealand is rather different from the Church in Zimbabwe. Even the current ABC, who knows Africa well, says that the hierarchy in the Anglican Churches in Africa have an influence far greater over their clergy and laity than ever would be countenanced in the U.K. He even said that, when an African Archbishop speaks, everyone jumps to attention; whereas, when the ABC speaks, the usual response of both clergy and people is "Hmm. Very interesting" and they continue with what they were doing already. This is why the multitudes of Anglicans on the African Continent are compelled to follow the leadership of their hierarchy - without question - otherwise, the clergy might just lose their livelihood or position - as witness the current Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, who was demoted as a regional Archbishop by his All-Nigeria Primate, because his policies did not fit in with the Primate's requirements of him. Here is V.o.l.'s report on this:

" Depending on whom you ask, he was demoted in 2008 by Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola from Archbishop to Bishop of Kaduna because of his close ties to Canterbury and his support for Lambeth 2008, which had been boycotted by his fellow countryman. On the other hand, some argue that he simply was not re-elected by the House of Bishops for a second term as Archbishop of Kaduna. "Under Nigerian protocol, he retains the title of archbishop," a source told VOL.

The point I was trying to make, and obviously failed, was that my own background of Church was securely grounded in the Church of England's catholic ethos, and then matured from 1953 onwards, within the more democratic style of the Anglican Church in New Zealand - prior to it officially being named ACANZP; together with 4 years in Fiji, 2 years in Darwin, and 3 years as a Franciscan Brother in Brisbane. Therefore - differently from you, with your Wycliffe background - I see the progression of Motion 30 as entirely consonant with my own formation, theology, and outlook, as a priest and disciple of Christ domiciled in this fair land of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

I'm sorry, Bryden, if I offended you by any of my comments here.

Bryden Black said...

Hi Ron! Thank you for the sentiments of your last line; but there is really no need to apologize, as there was no “offence” taken!

That said, the only thing I do continue to ‘take’ from your “comments” is the realization - as if I were needing it confirmed at all - that you really do fail to realise yourself how and why I have reached the conclusions I have, on virtually any and all things Christian.

You say: “With all due respect, the Church in England and New Zealand is rather different from the Church in Zimbabwe.” True; but what has that got to do with my own “Christian perceptions” exactly? Very little at all! (Not least on account of my direct experience for many years of precisely the CoE ... BUT “provenance” is really not the point ...) Tho true again; for example, on account of the generally African dimension of (some of ) my experience, I find the entire ‘debate’ around things “charismatic” in the West “curious” to say the least. The entire ethos of African religiosity, Christian and non-Christian, is akin to that of the Maori: imbued with spirit from start to finish. BUT what spirit?! YET I also fully realise where the sentiments of such a person as a Bultmann are derived: “I cannot believe both in electricity and in miracles” (1924). That too has an element of provenance about it - perhaps.

As for your harping on about the Nigerians: I too am fully aware that some African bishops (and archbishops) behave as if they were (paramount) tribal chiefs. I’ve seen it personally. Just as I’ve known personally others in the ACO whose position is not dissimilar to the current Sec Gen. But again; so what? My old friend and I only concluded that the species of snake in the respective ‘snake pits’ were just ... different! I’ve also seen (as I suspect have you) many a Western bishop behave like some prima donna “Prince of the Church” - or again, like some “CEO”! So, all in all; whatever happened to 1 Peter 5?!

But not only do your comments continue to confirm the way you simply have little appreciation of the actual derivation of my perceptions, I’m afraid (and I trust this is not too ad hominem; in the context, I doubt it) I sense a similar lack of self-understanding re your own positions. For mostly on ADU, when pressed to adequately justify your position, the result is as thin a presentation as your account of my own rationale.

For I’m afraid Ron, the question I put to Motion 30 (of the three I have overall), re the integrity of the single institution that might be ‘home’ for both positions 1a and 1b is a matter of logic and so is universal, with nothing to do with any “provenance” - save Christ the Word made flesh in the world of which He is the Maker.

QED: Ciao for now! Ou bien, adieu!

MichaelA said...

A factual correction to Mark Harris' blog. He writes, "Either way the ABC will have allowed the GAFCON Primates to upstage his efforts. The GAFCON Primates are meeting on this matter in Cairo."

In fact it is the Global South Primates who met in Cairo. That is distinct from Gafcon. There were 12 Primates present, of whom 4 or 5 also happened to be members of Gafcon, but it was a GS meeting not a Gafcon meeting.

The reason for the low turnout (the Global South comprises more than half of the provinces of the Anglican Communion) is that the GS meeting in Tunisia had to be cancelled at the last minute due to security concerns. Egypt provided a venue and visas for a re-scheduled meeting but only 12 of the GS Primates could make it.

This is a link to the communique after the meeting: Readers will note that ACNA has been invited in as a partner province of the Global South, and I have read elsewhere that ++Beach has been given a vote in the GS Primates Meeting. I am surprised that Mark Harris missed this - I would have thought it is a more significant development than the issue he raises about attendance at the January meeting.

MichaelA said...

Something else I forgot to mention: Archbishop Welby also attended the Cairo meeting.

Father Ron Smith said...

Don't fret about Mark Harris' seeming lack of information about the G.S. Primates Meeting, MichaelA. I'n sure Father Mark knows as much as anyone in the non-Gafcon Anglican world about the goings on in Cairo. We were well aware of the shift from Tunis to Cairo - expedited by one of the G.S. Primates who, however, obviously could not manage to get the Egyptian Authorities to grant visae for some of the Gafcon Primates

Further gossip it that Mr.Beach (Acna Primate), leading, as he does, a schismatic Church founded by Gafcon, was readily accepted by at least the Gafcon Primates in the Gafcon/GS sodality as a new partner in the Global South fraternity (but not necessarily of the Anglican Communion), in order to confront the non-Gafcon Primates at the upcoming ACC Primates' Meeting with some sort of fait accompli: "Here he is. He and Acna are part of us, and we are the largest grouop in the whole Communion, what are you guys prepared to do about it?

I don't think Archbishop Welby will be intimidated by the Gafcon show of force. He will realise that his own Church of England's Anglican provenance would be at stake with any deference to the ambitions of the Gafcon Primates to control the soul of the Anglican Communion.

In the meantime, the Word-made-flesh of Christ in the eucharist will continue to be celebrated in other parts of the Communion, with the understanding that intentional schism does nobody any good.

MichaelA said...

"I'n sure Father Mark knows as much as anyone in the non-Gafcon Anglican world about the goings on in Cairo."

No, I don't think he does. He wrote that it was a meeting of Gafcon, and it wasn't. I don't know why you are so sensitive - everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and this is clearly a mistake.

"who, however, obviously could not manage to get the Egyptian Authorities to grant visae for some of the Gafcon Primates"

Why is it "obvious"? Whilst that is possible, it seems far more likely that some Primates couldn't change their schedule at such short notice.

"Further gossip it that Mr.Beach (Acna Primate),"

Any relation to Mrs Katie Schori (TEC PB)?

"a schismatic Church founded by Gafcon"

You are mistaken: the schismatic church is TEC, and ACoC.

"was readily accepted by at least the Gafcon Primates"

The statement doesn't make any reference to Gafcon at all - it is a statement of the Global South, and the Gafcon Primates were distinctly in the minority at the meeting.

"In the meantime, the Word-made-flesh of Christ in the eucharist will continue to be celebrated in other parts of the Communion, with the understanding that intentional schism does nobody any good."

Of course - that is why I celebrate the Eucharist in the sure understanding that the intentional schism of the liberals does nobody any good.

MichaelA said...

"who, however, obviously could not manage to get the Egyptian Authorities to grant visae for some of the Gafcon Primates"

I just want to focus on this a bit more because it provides a good illustration of some of the nasty things that are said about Gafcon by its opponents. The implication is that there is something infamous about Gafcon Primates such that they would be refused a visa by government authorities. That is not only untrue, but the suggestion was made mischievously, i.e. with no basis.

It is also misconceived - simple mathematics demonstrates that there were more NON-Gafcon Primates who did not make it to Cairo than there were Gafcon Primates.

On a somewhat lighter note, the plural of "visa" is "visas". Whilst the ultimate origin is Latin, the French in 19th century began to use it to mean a particular administrative document, with the plural "Les visas". We in turn adopted the word from French, including its plural.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Ron and Michael for contributions to clarifying various GAFCON/Global South/other Communion matters.
I am happy to publish the correspondence to date even though it heads towards 'ad hominem' territory (e.g. using wrong titles for clerical leaders).
But this is a friendly note to remind you not to keep pushing the boundary!

Anonymous said...

Peter, thank you for hosting this discussion in your evenhanded and gracious way.

All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Some Anglicans want communion that is close, reciprocal, and global. Others want a loose Anglican heritage league. Neither desire is evil, and God in his providence may well grant both of them.

The bitter outrage comes from those who are either confused about what they want, or who cannot accept that others want something very different. Both conditions arise from prior illusions that are hard to let go. Disillusion is painful, but in Him, the reality itself may not be.

It once deeply offended my ecclesiological scruples that Anglicans in Africa were planting churches in TEC's American provinces. But after I noticed that successive General Conventions had voted on communion-without-baptism, and heard the reasons why this first got on the agenda and then returned to it, I could hardly complain that foreign prelates had transgressed the C4 Apostolic Canons.

Different Anglicans want different things. It seems wiser to accept this than to resent it.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
I particularly appreciate your noticing the inconsistency of (some) Anglicans flouting ancient canon X while sternly condemning (some other) Anglicans for flouting ancient canon Y.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I notice that inconsistency without quite condemning those caught up in it. This is, at its psychological heart, a lovers' quarrel in which each side argues on while trying to conserve cherished illusions about the relationship without which there would be no argument in the first place. Our long-cultivated sense of mutual belonging plays infuriating tricks on us.

It plays those tricks on me. If America's congregationalists adopted the BCP 1979, I would see the glass as more than half full because I do not expect 'them' to do anything so orthodox. They would still not be episcopalians, but my heart would sing that another American church had such scriptural, eucharistic liturgy. Yet when TEC which wrote the BCP 1979 practices it much as those same congregationalists might do, then the glass seems so much more than half empty to me because I once expected so much more of 'us'. One reality, two perceptions. And the irony, familiar to embittered lovers, is that the harsher perception is of the beloved, who is never allowed to be anything but what we had so fondly dreamed.

This psychomachy seems to have roiled the minds of our African fathers with respect to TEC. If they had seen Episcopalians as simply unanglican, then their prodigious effort to rescue traditionalists here would never have made any sense. That some of those traditionalists were easier to rescue than others may have been the first clue to Africans that TEC has never ever been quite the same sort of bird that they are. In the end, the Pygmalion that emerged from their efforts looks less like TEC than like the post-colonial Anglican churches more familiar to the global south. We may admire the resulting ACNA or not, and it may thrive in America's religious bazaar or not, but like a sketch from an old memory, it shows the lineaments of a lost illusion.

As you say in today's fine post about Richard Bauckham on St John 6, Anglicans who think that they want to be a communion would be wise to start, not from our fallible perceptions of each other, nor even from what we say in all seriousness about ourselves, but from what God says about koinonia.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

A lovely summary of the Anglican situation from Bowman Walton:

"The bitter outrage comes from those who are either confused about what they want, or who cannot accept that others want something very different. Both conditions arise from prior illusions that are hard to let go. Disillusion is painful, but in Him, the reality itself may not be."

I think Bowman has hit the nail on the head. Conservative 'tradition' is sometimes congenitally averse to any desirtability for change. Even Good Pope John XXIII, in calling the reformative Vatican II Council, earned the hostility of the conservatives at the Vatican. Pope Francis, in following in the footmarks of Vatican II, has uncovered more reluctance to change - and that's only in the Roman Catholic Church!

The world sometimes moves ahead of the Church in crying out for justice to be granted to minorities. In the case of gender and sexuality issues, the Global South Churches have not kept pace with others in the need for a new paradigm - not anchored in a first century understanding of these issues.

If the Anglican Communion needs to separate out into its constituent parts, in order to operate with the freedom to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in different contexts, then so be it! I'm sure God can manage to deal with human instransigence - as has happened for all of the history of Christianity. Maybe perfect Unity if a gift and has to wait for the Second Coming of Christ for its full realisation.

Anonymous said...

Bryden, Ron, you may find Ian Paul's morning post today interesting--

Again, Ron, thank you for responding to my comment.

Yes, whenever debates are framed in ways that set compassion and authority in zero-sum conflict, the liberal and conservative temperaments will clash and deadlock. However, I believe faith seeks understanding of that framing to ask how what was conjoined on the cross can again be conjoined in our thinking.

I notice that you and I, at least, have different memories of the history of debate on that That Topic. We are after all remembering it in different from different circles in locales. It might avoid misunderstanding if I describe what I do remember, but I cannot do that today. Instead, I will mention six inferences from those memories that seem salient--

(a) There are deep differences between the arguments that make sense in the court of Caesar and the ones that make sense in the Body of Christ.

(b) The rationale of the Church’s first proponents of same sex marriage was not as divisive as the rationale given today, and their social achievement has been unjustly ignored.

(c) Thus far, our choice is not between an old view and a new one, but from among three perspectives-- a traditional one (procreation) and two quite recent replacements for it (sexual binary, sexless gender) that have not stood the test of time.

(d) In the past 65 years, changes in the intellectual ground on which these perspectives have been discussed has radicalised the competing positions. Perhaps this can be reversed.

(e) Between the extremes of total rejection of all and routine acceptance of all lie some centrist proposals for discerning accommodation of same sex partnerships.

(f) The mental health challenges of those with same sex attraction-- eg higher risks of depression, adolescent suicide, domestic violence-- are pastoral problems for the Church as a whole.

These are not a manifesto. They simply clear some ground at the centre for discussion.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Bowman, for your response to my response to you!

I have to agree that the bases of our arguments have been between the two poles of 'Tradition' and 'Experience' on matters of sexuality and gender. Even the Pope (dear man) is having difficulty with the conservatives at the Vatican on the propsect of any transition from 'Certainty' into the more tentative area of 'Possibility'. So how can we lesser mortals do any better?

However, on your point (f), I have to say that the over-exposure of the 'non-binary' bearers of sexual attraction to religious criticism - as well as that of most heterosexuals in even today's society - is probably the major source of the 'mental health challenges' you here enumerate. Perhaps the word 'suicide' evokes the most interesting reaction. This factor, in itself, is reason enough for the involvement of the Church in what Pope Francis calls pastoral mercy, but also the need for a better scientific and social understanding.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I enjoy your style.

With (c) I am saying that arguments that we are treating as 'traditional' --eg the shift from procreation to the psychology of the binary; the eschatological significance of the binary in scripture-- are in fact quite recent. While there is nothing wrong with having new arguments in the mix, they do not get fair scrutiny or the chance to develop thoroughly when they are prematurely presented and received as the wisdom of the ages. And of course, when that happens, the actually traditional views, for what they are worth, are lost to the Church's memory at a time when we cannot be so confident in our forgetting. Lesser mortals such as ourselves will have healthier discussions with longer memories and less polarisation.

On the procreationist perspective, the deepest discomfort with it is felt by those who programmatically want a non-biological definition of human nature. While we should be open at this stage to whatever arguments for that project can be made-- it would be helpful to see arguments here rather than assumptions-- the present cultural climate does not favour it. I cannot think of a bookstore in Harvard Square that does not have displays of popular books on evolution or neuroscience or some convergence of the two. People today understand their embodiment and much of their psychology in evolutionary, biological terms. Meanwhile, most of those who buy these books believe with Richard Dawkins that Christians devoutly believe that the earth was created in six days, and that the first professor of philosophy was a snake. So, if only for apologetic and evangelistic reasons, we cannot duck our own ancient tradition of reflection on procreation, and might gain something from bringing it up to date.

As you see, my (f) covers a lot of ground by implication. Clearly yes, there is a need for better scientific and social understanding, and also for a theological habitus that enables pastors and others to pay attention to them.

However, the Church's pastoral responsibility in the three disorders mentioned does not depend on their etiology. For one thing, we may never know the directions of all the causal arrows. With the knowledge we have today, who can say that the same factor could not predispose a person for both a disorder and a disorientation? However, the association between religion and suicide uncovered by Emile Durkheim a century ago can be supported with recent data and is very suggestive. My most immediate concern in (f) is that debate about SSM has substituted an ecclesiastical culture war for a pastoral duty. As you say, Pope Francis appears to agree, and I suspect that you do too.

Bryden Black said...

If I am hearing and seeing you aright Bowman - and it could be quite a conditional of course -if I am ‘reading’ you aright, I am beginning to notice you are trying to construct something of an intriguing temperamental methodology here. I am almost tempted to name your search for a 21st C “centrist” stance an attempted via media such are the uses to which this hallowed expression has been put these past recent years among some members of the AC (falsely, in my view, given its due history).

Yet I am also detecting a real reductionism, if this is the case. For even while there’s a legitimate place naturally for such elements as the neurological, the psychological and the sociological re persons in organizations, vols 2 & 3, reality and theory, of McGrath’s A Scientific Theology (2002/3), with his extensive use of Roy Bhaskar’s notion of a “stratified reality”, require there to be no place for a Skinnerian-like reductionist behaviourism. And this is certainly the case with a fulsome personalist philosophy (ala say JP2) coupled with McGrath. Reality and truth are to be apprehended by other means, I sense, than those you proffer - especially when we’ve to factor in divine revelation as well.

In addition, one of the better books around regarding “That Topic” is O’Donovan’s A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The Churches and the Gay Controversy (SCM, 2009), published in the US as Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade Books, 2008), after the original “Sermons” on the Fulcrum website. For his very first chapter spells it out: “The Failure of the Liberal Paradigm”. Here we see indeed a brief history of theology reduced to ethics, carefully spelt out. And that, especially here in ACANZ&P, is tragically the case in many western parts of the AC nowadays: theology has been made to take a backward step, and ‘the political’ (from a variety of quarters) has tended to dominate.

And so, while I agree wholeheartedly with your (a) and especially with your (f), I cannot find any theological rationale for anything like your (e). For indeed, “framing” the very Topic is central; and this (to date) I do not see your attempted paradigm is able to achieve. The sort of historical analysis we need to embark on goes back (in my view) to at least 1700, as we try to see how we have reached the impasse we have [my first question posed here on ADU to Motion 30 when it first hit the headlines in 2014]. And, as I’ve noted above (October 17, 2015 at 11:49 AM), in the last two paragraphs, sheer logic will not accommodate the sorts of solution being sought here in ACANZ&P [my second question of last year, now repeated].

What we need is a far deeper dianoia after the likes of an Athanasius when confronted with the Arian controversy. There the issue was essentially theological; here the issue is essentially anthropological, the fulness of humanity in the triune God’s image.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bryden, both for your reply and for keeping notes of the theology of science, theological anthropology, and theological ethics in our conversation. My few talking points hardly amount to anything so grand as an attempted paradigm, but you may welcome a few brief clarifications, signposted for easier reference. I’ll break this into four parts.

(g) Are (a)-(f) a via media? Not quite. A via media assumes the survival of its extremes. The expanding centre indicated by (a)-(f) could reconcile them or otherwise survive them.

Anyone can see the concrete factors that have brought polarisation to the Anglican Communion, and also that these factors are ephemeral. To name just a few of them-- the several polarisations in recent American politics that are reflected in TEC and ACNA; the ambivalence about English hegemony that nearly all post-colonial churches feel for a time; the very ‘Reformed’ cast of the plurality of the remaining protestants in the Communion; the world-centred liberalism of the remaining catholics in the Communion; the differences between those formed by Bultmann and Tillich and those formed by Barth and, taking a representative figure, Wright. Similarly, at this moment one unitive force on which Anglicans have always counted is weak-- the historic episcopate is not helping us to the mature multipolarity of a global communion as it might have done if liberal bishops were less synodical, conservative bishops were less confessional, and the other major sees (obviously, Sydney, Washington, Nairobi) were as responsibly mediating as Canterbury has been. So (a)-(f) point toward deconstructing now, when it is actually useful, the same happenstance tensions that doctoral students will be deconstructing in a few decades anyway.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

(h) Do (a)-(f) reduce theology to science? No, I do suggest a robust role for evidence-based knowledge, and even science, when available, but not scientism.

While I do respect the very suggestive work of Roy Bhaskar, we should also attend to arguments from some main figures of philosophy of science in the analytic tradition.

In making them ex nihilo, God has endowed his creatures with stable characters distinct from his own (Ibn Sina, Maimonides, St Thomas Aquinas). This divides the traditions of Jerusalem from those of Varanasi.

Therefore, as you implied earlier, students of nature do have some theological ground for confidence that they can observe patterns of change (St Thomas Aquinas), and can infer patterns of causation (Karl Barth), subject to the limitation that, without God’s self-revelation, they cannot discern the teleology of things (St Bonaventure), and especially cannot see that “the great end for which God created the heavens and the earth” was the love of the Father and the Spirit for the Son in the perichoresis of the Trinity (Jonathan Edwards, Karl Barth, Thomas Torrance, Robert Jenson).

Because consciousness is intrinsically teleological (Franz Brentano, Thomas Nagel), our current scientific practise, which brackets teleology, is therefore unable to *explain* consciousness (Thomas Nagel). Moreover, although scientists do make many plausible inferences about the self’s identity, free will, etc from evidence, when selves cannot rearrange themselves to accord with these inferences, this casts doubt on either their ethical usefulness (Ingmar Persson), or their logical status as explanations, or both. This does not mean that science can find nothing of cultural value, but it does mean that culture cannot be reduced to science.

Moreover, eliminative materialists (eg Richard Dawkins) have no epistemic ground for their confidence that the past achievements of science were enabled by materialism (Edward Feser); that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain (Robert C Koons, George Bealer); that science as presently practised will eventually explain consciousness (Thomas Nagel); and that these explanations will be *reduced*, directly or indirectly, to physical laws alone (Hilary Putnam). Materialism has been subjected to withering critique (Robert C. Koons, George Bealer), and we do not lack for alternatives to it (Edward Feser, Charles Landesman).

Indeed, the Enlightenment project that pits empirical observations over against metaphysical constructs and value judgements in the discovery of knowledge has long been recognised as incoherent (W.V.O. Quine, Hilary Putnam). Hence, although science can find some truth, and that truth can be too credible to ignore, scientism-- science alone-- will not do as a reasonable basis for anthropology.

Anonymous said...

(i) Do (a)-(f), perhaps in a liberal manner, reduce theology to ethics? No, (b), (c) and (d) all facilitate retrieval of neglected theological positions, and some meeting of those polarised by historical circumstances.

(j) What is the theological rationale for accommodation?

With respect to This Topic, the concept of *accommodation* was introduced to the Pilling Commission by Oliver O'Donovan.

Our end has been inaugurated in the resurrection, but is not yet fully realised (Romans 8). For example, we cannot find a theological rationale for anything like war in the Church's memory of an emphatically pacifist Jesus. What we have found is just war theory, a strategy of *accommodation* that guides peaceful Christians who must, in God's mysterious providence, protect others in a fallen world that remains violent. Rightly understood, just war theory does not transvalue approved wars into holy wars; it simply restrains Christians in the world from some consequences of a properly zealous pacifism. Of course, not all Christians practise such strategies of accommodation; monastics, for example, will not even eat meat, let alone fight wars. But because both monks and soldiers recognise the force of Jesus’s teaching-- often better than the rest of us-- each can respect the other’s calling. In this aeon in which we see the light but from shadows, our approach to the new creation must sometimes be provisional.

The idea of *accommodation* bears comparison with the principle by which we recognise the holiness of the Law, but also that unwise human enforcement of it can in some instances frustrate the divine *economy*.

Anonymous said...

(k) Are (a)-(f) open to a trinitarian anthropology? I do not see how they could foreclose this possibility. The sort of deconstruction for reconciliation that they indicate may be the only churchly vehicle for this lies open.

Has Charles Taylor written the genealogical history that you suggest?

Personally, I have invested some effort in understanding the theosis of SS Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Cyril.

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

I've read C Taylor's two key works (the latter might have benefited from an editor ...). And have concluded I prefer: JKA smith , How (not) to be secular: Reading Charles Taylor.

Thereafter: the genealogical history comprises these key elements: the inability of offering rational assent to the doctrine of the Trinity (cf. Jason Vickers); the increasing tension between human being as an autonomous self-positing personal subject and human being as that creature in the triune divine image. And that does reduce to an either/or eventually.

Bryden Black said...

Re theosis, Bowman: while the Fathers made a good start on this notion, I sense we’ve additional work to pursue once we appreciate truly the significance of the Trinitarian nature of deity. That is, following Rahner, we’ve to realise the significance of “Grace gives rise to not–appropriated relations of divine persons to man [sic].” Which too Robert Jenson has a particularly important take on.

Myk Habets has begun some of this additional work. See his Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance (Ashgate, 2009). [BTW: TFT loves Athanasius!] I too have addressed this concern in my own The Lion, the Dove and the Lamb: An Exploration into the Nature of the Christian God as Trinity (W&S, 2015), via the trinitarian model I have constructed.

A fair bit falls into place naturally re “That Topic” once we do this ... Enjoy!

Bryden Black said...

Lastly, on accommodation.

Yes; it was OMTO’D who taught me Just War Theory - as just that, a form of accommodation. But the question remains: whether it is appropriate here and now to usher in yet another form of accommodation regarding this liberalizing of “identity” - when too the likes of O’Donovan rightly decline to give that an unqualified tick! I quote from “A Conversation”, pp.105-108.

Homosexuality is not the determining factor in any human being’s existence; therefore it cannot be the determining factor in the way we treat a human being, and should not be the determining factor in the way a human being treats him- or herself. Gays are children of Adam and Eve, brothers and sisters of Christ. There is no other foundation laid than that. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd”; from which it follows, simpliciter and without adjustment, that he will feed gays like a shepherd, too.

Yet, it can be replied, there are other less fundamental senses of “identity.” Can we not speak of a “homosexual identity” in this less fundamental way, as we might speak, without denying anything in human solidarity, of a racial identity or a class identity? And may we not ask how the good news may be addressed specifically to it? Since Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Rule, bishops and other preachers have been preoccupied with how to address the gospel to sections of the flock with special needs—a gospel for the rich, a gospel for the poor, a gospel for the powerful, a gospel for the powerless, etc., etc.—which, as Gregory claims, “solicitously oppose suitable medicines to the various diseases of the several hearers.” I have to confess a reservation about this. I am not sure that it can be disentangled from Gregory’s idea of the preacher as rector, or “ruler,” who safeguards and services a certain kind of Christianized social order built on role differences. Gregory’s preacher strives to make role differences comfortable for everyone chiefly by preventing them being overstated—excellent managerial sense, no doubt, but not the primary business of a Christian evangelist. The gospel is addressed to human beings irrespective of their condition, and there is no prima facie place to dismember it into a series of gospels for discrete social sectors. Why would there by a gospel for the homosexual any more than a gospel for the teacher of literature, for the civil magistrate, for the successful merchant (to name just three categories that the early church viewed with the same narrowing of the eyes that a homosexual may encounter today)? It is for the church to address the good news, we may say; it is for the recipient—homosexual, pedagogue, politician or captain of industry—to hear it and say how he or she hears it in and from this or that social position.

Bryden Black said...

Yet there is more to be said than that. The gospel does have implications for the way we conduct ourselves in the world, and the way we conduct ourselves in the world is differentiated as the forms and circumstances that constitute the world are differentiated. There are special needs because there are special contexts within which the Christian life has to be lived out. Traditionally these have been discussed in Christian theology under the heading of “vocation.” The preaching of the gospel can and must address distinct vocations, even though it must address them only in the second place, after it has spoken to us all as human beings, not in the first place. “He will gather the lambs in his arms, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isa 40:11). Let us imagine a gay person who has “heard” the message of the gospel but is yet unaware of any bearing it may have for his homosexual sensibility. Must there not be some following up of the good news, something to relate what has been heard to this aspect of his self-understanding? It is helpful to keep the analogy with teachers, magistrates, and financiers in our mind. Suppose a Christian teacher who has found in the gospel no implications for how literature is to be read and taught; or a Christian politician who has found no special questions raised by the gospel about policies for military defense; or a financier to whom it has not yet occurred that large sums of money should not be handled in the way a butcher handles carcasses. A pastoral question arises. In the light of the gospel, neither literature nor government nor money are mere neutral technicalities. They are dangerous powers in human life, foci upon which idolatry, envy, and hatred easily concentrate. Those who deal with them need to know what it is they handle. The teacher, politician, and banker who have not yet woken up to the battle raging in heavenly places around the stuff of their daily lives, have still to face the challenge of the gospel. It is any different with the powers of sexual sensibility?

Of course, this pastoral train of thought does not entitle us to demand that the gay Christian (or the teacher, politician, and banker) should repent without further ado. Theirs is a position of moral peril but also a position of moral opportunity. In preaching the gospel to a specific vocation, we must aim to assist in discernment. Discernment means tracing the lines of the spiritual battle to be fought; it means awareness of the peculiar temptations of the situation; but it also means identifying the possibilities of service in a specific vocation. The Christian facing the perils and possibilities of a special position must be equipped, as a first step, with the moral wisdom of those who have taken that path before, the rules that have been distilled from their experience. A solider needs to learn about “just war,” a financier about “just price,” and so on. Again, can it be any different in the realm of sexual sensibility? Discernment is not acquired in a vacuum; it is learned by listening to the tradition of the Christian community reflecting upon Scripture. In this exercise, of course, we cannot rule out the possibility that we may reach a “revisionist” conclusion. No element formed by tradition can claim absolute allegiance. But the right to revise traditions is not everybody’s right; it has to be won by learning their moral truths as deeply as they can be learned. Those who have difficult vocations to explore need the tradition to help the exploration. The tradition may not have the final word, but it is certain they will never find the final word if they have failed to profit from the words the tradition offers. And if it should really be the case that they are summoned to witness on some terra incognita of “new” experience, it will be all the more important that their new discernments should have been reached on the basis of a deep appropriation of old ones, searching for and exploiting the analogies they offer. No one who has not learned to be traditional can dare to innovate.

Anonymous said...

Belated congratulations, Bryden, on the publication of your book last summer, and timely thanks for breakfast reading today. We seem to share an interest in thinking about the Trinity in a personal way and in other systematic loci (eg essays from Jenson's Princeton period on justification and atonement).

On accommodation, I agree thay caution is as wise as you and O'Donovan say, but paralysis of analysis is more than dangerous. Mortals want prompt answers to their existential crises, and feel little compunction about taking godless answers if they see no prospect of godly ones. So we must proceed with a prudently deliberate godspeed.

Have you seen on Fulcrum the excerpt from Oliver O'Donovan's new book?

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Bowman; appreciated!

And while I squander time on our West Coast, alternatively dodging cloud bursts and basking w the seals in the sun: I have to try to consider what might be the difference between accommodation and compromise. And if the latter belongs to the body politic while the former might - just might - reflect the body of Christ. Yet even that move asks, with Oliver: to what, to whom are we indebted? Where he starts his first volume (you ref the extract from his second...)
And I have had to conclude (too soon? After 25 years conversation ...) that, as with Mk 10 and divorce's accommodation due to hardness of heart, so too, shld the Church surrender to current proposals, it'll be compromising with a form of naturalism, a humanistic philosophy that says: if it is the case, then who are we to say no?! Au contraire; I'd step back and ask: (with Oliver perhaps) what is the due order of things? Especially in a fallen world undergoing redemption? Ie what are the possibilities under the Holy Spirit's leading and power of precisely transforming our seemingly natural (fleshly) desires?

Anonymous said...

Bryden, we seem to agree on several broad points of theology, but not on the tempo with which they should be applied to the duties of the Church. But then, if I were dodging cloud bursts and basking with seals, I might not be replying to online comments at all. So I thank you for your brief message, and hope that the Holy Spirit will show us all something soon.

Bowman Walton