Friday, February 26, 2016

Planning A Way Forward

I've been away a few days and as a result missed the first two of three meetings scheduled this week for the A Way Forward report to be presented (post below). What a good few days they were, buried deep in the heart of the countryside (Te Waiora, for those who know it).

Now back into the Anglican fray, a friend has sent me a link to Uganda threatening - well, actually, Uganda is pretty good at doing what is says it will do, so change that to - promising to boycott the ACC meeting in Lusaka.

It seems that Archbishop Ngatali has common accord with no less an Islamic figure than the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque in respect of critical assessment of TEC's approach to the Scriptures.

Meanwhile, closer to home, in the western island to the west of the Most Beautiful Country on Earth, an Australian bishop has suggested that a nearby diocese is divisive. But David Oulds' article is worth a careful read. Who is being divisive in the Australian Anglican church? Is it the Diocese of Sydney or is it those who disregard common agreements made across the dioceses?

Meantime, back in NZ, I still haven't read the whole of A Way Forward in a diligent manner.What is a busy man to do? Here is my working plan: each Monday (or thereabouts) I will publish an analysis of of a section of the report. We have ten Mondays between now and General Synod. There are twelve sections in the report, so some Mondays we will cover more than one section.

Conversely, I hope to discipline myself to not publish endlessly on AWF, so any posts between Mondays will be on other topics.

Natch I will be plagiarising the many wonderful, astute, perspicuous comments made in the post below. Thank you commenters :)

45 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

" Who is being divisive in the Australian Anglican church? Is it the Diocese of Sydney or is it those who disregard common agreements made across the dioceses?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Well, Peter, there are reports thart Sydney's Archbishop and Bishops are trying to coerce the other dioceses to tow its own line on homosexuality - otherwise, they threaten to boycott bishops' meetings.

Is that what you calkl a 'common agreement made across the dioceses'?

I believe it was Mr. Ould who made veiled threats of opting out if the other diocese did not fall in with Sydney's leadership on this.

Anonymous said...

Peter, proposes a rather French city hall solemnisation + church blessing model of marriage for all. When one starts by thinking of marriage that way-- Jacques and Jacqueline married before family and friends by the mayor of the village and then in the church for a nuptial mass (MFB)-- the basic relationships of state, church, and creation fall into place. The tripartite view of marriage is that God creates an inpulse to pairbonding, a state solemnises a couple, and a church blesses the marriage.

Until one grasps it, the report's proposal that this new order of things be further varied with SSB cannot make sense. The first questions then are: (1a) does the state's SSM make the tripartite understanding inescapable, no matter what one thinks of SSB?; (1b) Can ACANZP make this church-state-marriage relation intelligible to Christians in New Zealand?; (1c) Is the thought of SSB an insuperable imaginative obstacle to understanding it? Father Ron articulates the tripartite understanding explicitly and well; Nick surely could get it, but was too distracted by the whole gay thing to do so. A sobering possibility: it may be that ACANZP needs for myriad pastoral reasons to officially acknowledge the relation of church, state, and creation in marriage, but cannot do so if the first application of it is SSB.

The tripartite view places enormous weight on ACANZP's understanding of blessing. However, our friends' other responses to the report resist the tripartite distinctions, implicitly park the magic moment of !wedding! in different places, and usually neglect to give an explicit definition of the blessing that they oppose. The several understandings of blessing seem to break down this way--

(2a) Blessing is a ritualised expression of God's approval.

(2b) Blessing is a ritualised grant of the Church's permission.

(2c) Blessing is a ritualised beginning like a ribbon cutting, a foundation laying, a gunshot at a race.

(2d) Blessing is a merely a simulacrum of solemnising, which is the real wedding wherever it happens.

(2e) Blessing a couple transforms a state of life, but not an individual.

(2f) Blessing a couple transforms individuals as it transforms the state of life in it.

(2g) Blessing should be available to individuals apart from couples.

Which poses three further questions: (3a) Which understanding of blessing is both true in itself and appropriate to marriage?; (3b) Can ACANZP make this church-state-marriage relation intelligible to Christians in New Zealand?; (3c) Is the mere thought of SSB an insuperable imaginative obstacle to understanding such a blessing? Again, a sobering possibility: state preference for SSM over civil partnership may have had the unintended consequence of so forcing the Church in the West to recasting its basic marriage doctrine into the tripartite form that consideration of a variation on that doctrine for homosexuals cannot be taken up even hypothetically until the new doctrine is in place.

Bowman Walton

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

Your most recent (re)casting above of our issues Bowman is a help, IMHO - though perhaps not definitive.

For many a year I have viewed the entire matter from an anthropological/missiological stance, derived from my experience in Africa. That is, society generally has been in the marriage game for centuries in many and various ways in many and various cultures (echoes deliberate!). The Church then naturally got in on the act(s) - even coming up with the magic inclusive number Seven to make it a fulsome “sacrament” in some/many eyes. On the mission field, natural theology accords legitimacy to, say, customary marriage among the local tribes - even polygamy to a degree (tho that particular issue has met with various, contradictory solutions I know). And the final twist: along comes the State, both in its own right, and even as an opposing institution to the Church (cf. Bill Cavanaugh and Doug Farrow), registering marriages, as much as anything else for financial reasons (taxes, property, insurance policies, inheritance, etc.).

In this situation the responses of the Church in the 21st C may be various. CoE types still wear double hats (and thereby ACANZ&P with its history) - although frankly, I prefer the European Continental method of town hall + nuptial mass, which clearly makes the latter an optional extra for the Church Community, establishing a suitable gap between Church and State. I’d favour this full separation as the solution for ourselves here in NZ, withdrawing all ministers of religion from being civil celebrants and rewriting yet further our rites of marriage - although naturally along traditional Prayer Book lines and not ala this proposed parallel sop from WFWG.

Which brings us to the matter of Blessing. Your tabling of options 2a - 2g initially looks reasonable. But I’d then set up a comparison between these ideas and Ephraim Radner’s paper from ACI, http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2009/06/blessing-a-scriptural-and-theological-reflection/

The net result I believe (and as per your very last sentence, “Again, a sobering possibility: ... in place.”) should be - and here I declare my colours, as if I’ve failed to do so already! - a clear parting of the ways between Church and State: the creation ordinance of marriage simply can not and is not to be applied to ss couples; even the notion of SSB is misconstrued. In a way similar to the emergence of monogamy by means of progressive revelation, so too here this ‘social development’ is to be adjudged not just a ‘bridge too far’, but a “tragic irony”, a counterfeit even. True; there remains the ever-pressing concern of “pastoral sensitivity” given our ‘social spaces’ - but I’ve already commented in some detail abt that on ADU. So; even if I mention it last, it is by no means the least of our or my concerns ... Rather; I really do think we’re going abt it all in a very cockeyed manner, predicated upon massive theological confusion and misunderstanding.

My tuppence worth ...

Anonymous said...

Bowman, I heard a christian politician here espouse a similar view before parliament legislated ssm. If the Church stops playing celebrant for the state, that would leave blessings of civil ceremonies to the Church. I'm not sure how that changes the objection to ssm relationships though. Don't you still have the argument (albeit begging the question) that you cannot force God to bless the unblessable?

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

The following comment, slightly edited, is from Michael Primrose. The slight editing is to remove some direct critical comment re the conduct of the public meeting held in the Transitional Cathedral on Tuesday night: I suggest such comment is better directed either direct to the people concerned or to the Standing Committee of the Diocese (not least to assist us in future improvements)

"Hi Peter,

Whilst having the ability to consider a section of the "A Way Forward" each week might be considered to be sheer luxury, it would have been useful to have had more than one night to have analysed the report before Tuesday's meeting.

The first chance I had to read the report was in the Breaking News in Anglican Taonga on Monday evening. It would have been useful for the news to have included a formatted PDF version of the report, as 52 pages of dense argument in one HTML page is both a daunting prospect and a trifle difficult to absorb. Valuable time was wasted in correctly formatting the report into a PDF copy so that I could start analysing it.

The PDF format has been a standard format for publishing documents for some decades, so one does wonder why such an unreadable, and archaic publishing style was chosen to inform the public of the committee's deliberations. Surely, if you want to encourage intelligent and informed discussion about the report then you do not publish it in a virtually unreadable format.

The same question could be applied to the timing of the Diocesan Public Meeting on Tuesday evening. The Church seems to be perfectly content to take its time to come to resolution on the question of the blessing of right-ordered, same-sex couples sometime late in this decade, and yet a meeting of those in the City of Christchurch was called a day after the publication of the report. Such close timing could have prevented many people from attending the meeting or, indeed, reading the report in detail in advance.

There did seem some surprise expressed at the number of people who had already read the report, but perhaps I was being unduly sensitive, sitting so close to the front.

However, a large number of people did make the effort to attend, which shows a healthy interest in the first and second order questions facing the Church.

The use of a Powerpoint display to explain the report. in the Cathedral, on a sunny summer evening, when you can't close the curtains, was an unfortunate decision. Sitting through a rather uncomfortable discussion on the circumcision of the Gentiles, until the light faded, whilst apparently apposite, did rather limit the time for discussion of the report.

[omitted]

The constant refrain of "This is a question for ...." should instantly ring alarm bells in the organisers.

[omitted]

All in all, it was an interesting and enlightening meeting although somewhat light of detail and forethought. There did seem to be a rather vague wish to sweep the Report under the currently lumpy Anglican carpet before anyone noticed it.

But perhaps I am being somewhat sensitive.

However, one can take some comfort from the words of the Archbishop's Covering Letter

"As such they represent, both in their way of working together, and in their reporting to us, the very best this Church is capable of. They have been our true servants."

Words that deserve our intense contemplation.

Regards

Michael Primrose
also signed by Kirk Spragg
"

Anonymous said...




Peter, Bryden, and Nick:

Thank you for interesting and rapid responses.

First, my apologies for the obvious typographical errors. I posted without proofreading at the onset of a blizzard.

Second, the tripartite taxonomy itself is better explained in my string of comments on the other thread. This is not only a question of sexual morality, although it is that, but also a question of how ecclesiology and political theology-- two badly neglected disciplines-- relate to each other and to the soul in the totus Christus.

Third, the tripartite taxonomy is a tool for precise thinking. It does not imply that either the state or the church is necessarily right about created marriage. Just so, it does not follow from the mere fact that there are three parts that the state was right with respect to created marriage to choose civil marriage over civil partnership to advance civil justice for sexual minorities. Nor does it follow that the early modern church was right with respect to created marriage to emphasise a wife's obedience more than, say, a husband's chastity and self-control. Rather it reminds us that because the state's justice is dependent on the logic of power seeking order, it is necessarily blind and approximate, and because the church bears witness to an inaugurated kingdom that is now and not yet, she too is often only one-eyed and clumsy. In relating the parts of marriage to their correlated creatures, a theology of marriage with adequate precision is a heuristic discovering the error in the practise of marriage at any given time in the present aeon.

So then, fourth, the tripartite taxonomy is not a rationalisation for marriage as arranged in any particular society, although a good marriage teaching must engage all three parts well, but can be a tool for diagnosing what is distorted in any given arrangement. For instance, it shows us what was disordered in the Byzantine emperor's command, despite Christ's words on the subject, that Roman civil law, with its indefinite number of divorces, be administered by the Church in the East, and it explains the Church's remedy of distinguishing liturgically between the first marriage and the second or third, making the first an evocation of martyrdom and the latter two a rite of penance. Importantly both rites are enactments of, in the philosophical, biblical, and patristic sense, therapeia; they frame the state of life that they begin in terms of the passions that must be healed for it to flourish. So the sheer absurdity of the Church herself administering the remarriage of the divorced inspired a rite therapeutic for the passions that inspire divorce. And this has validity in Christ insofar as St Maximus was right to say that every soul in him participates in his reconciliation of Creator and creature, things invisible and things visible, heaven and earth, paradise and world, man and woman. Even a penitential wedding rite in which the couple recite Psalm 51/50 together hastens the bride and groom to their eternal end in him. In comparison, the lawyerly 1662 service, which is largely certification of identities, verification of free consent, and notarisation of promises exchanged, is an instrument of social order rather than soulcraft, one that did more for Caesar than for the Church. Indeed, this is one root of our present confusion.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

This is why, fifth, my discussion of the transformative nature of blessing on the other thread is relevant to just these situations in which the state or the church have erred in their relation to created marriage. The truth may be-- although we have no right to assume this-- that gay and lesbian couples want only God's affirming love and not his loving transformation. But blessing understood as a sort of approbation is just a form of cheap grace. Blessing as practised in the Church is more often creative disapproval that reorients a thing from bondage to its true being in the age to come. One might think of Tom Wright's proverb that those of us in Christ are in this life merely shadows of our future selves. So as I imply on the other thread, the potential for evil in a thing to be blessed-- eg a nuclear submarine capable of vaporising large cities-- is often why we bless it. Our lovely French couple Jacques and Jacqueline are blessed after mass even though they may be ill-paired, unfaithful, cruel, guilty of abortion, or bad parents. Blessing re-commits a creature's terrible potentiality for good and evil to God's purposes, both now and in the age to come. On the Monday after each Pascha, the priests of the East bless all the waters of the Earth as they present themselves nearby-- salty wells, chlorinated reservoirs, polluted streams, lakes where children drown, seas where sailors perish and Leviathan plays in the deep-- for though the sea shall be no more, the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, shall flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. So on the other thread, I do not try to present a case for SSB; rather I try to show what form a proper case would necessarily take: some narrative that instantiates the larger narrative of God's inaugurated kingdom. The blessing of bread and wine takes them into the story of the Last Supper, which in turn takes them to the Cross, and only then to their eschatological reality as the messianic banquet, the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

"Rather; I really do think we’re going abt it all in a very cockeyed manner, predicated upon massive theological confusion and misunderstanding. " - Dr. Bryden Black -

"As such they represent, both in their way of working together, and in their reporting to us, the very best this Church is capable of. They have been our true servants." The Archbishops of ACANZP -

As Michael Primrose has here suggested, the format of the document was ill-conceived (it should have been presented in PDF), and the content somewhat mixed in quality, but at least the people producing the Report, among them not only theologians, but also people who might have a more objective understanding of the need for pastoral provision for Same-Sex persons, and of the etiology of homosexuality, than most in our Church.

Despite the Chairperson's own admission about whose 'side' he was on, theologically, his conduct of the meeting was exemplary, drawing our attention to the fact that the meeting was not an occasion for personal exhibitions of the finer points of theology involved, but rather, an opportunity for people to try to understand the pastoral reasons behind the proposed change in attitudes towards LGBTI people in our Church.

Though there were obvious differences of opinion on whether the new initiatives towards the blessing of monogamous Same-Sex relationships were necessary; the presentation allowed us all some insights into the possibility - or not - of agreeing to disagree on matters that the Commission had agreed to present to General Synod for consideration.

I loved the scriptural readings that began the Meeting, pointing to the wrong-footing of the Early Church people on the need for physical circumcision for the Gentile believers. This had a strong resonance with the Church today in its refusal to accept that physical, sexual privation is not necessarily the way to Godliness. Celibacy has its place, but it just aint everyone's cuppa tea.

Father Ron Smith said...

I was most interested in Bowman's description of different (>) types of Blessing. Well, in New Zaaland, at least; it includes the Blessing of a House, of a Boat, of a Warhsip, of Animals (at Francis-tide) - even if those anilmals are homosexual, there is no distinction made on that particular acore. And what about the blessing of a Mule -a-sexual?

Anonymous said...

Father Ron, is (>) an emoticon? What does it mean?

The Blessing of a House(hold) may in fact be the blessing that we should be talking about. In the East, the blessing of a new home, room by room, is integral pastoral care. In some places, it is still done yearly for all. (More generally, Anglicans could learn from the Byzantine ordo that much of the liturgy of the Church belongs outside of churches. The next liturgical movement may well retrieve this, as the last one began to retrieve the Eucharist.)

The blessing of a boat is usually a prayer for safety amid danger, that of a warship, a prayer for peace, although a Catholic bishop up here drew the line at blessing a nuclear-armed submarine named Corpus Christi.

In the category of blessings amid hazards, we should note the Mediterranean custom of scoring loaves for the oven with the sign of the cross.

The blessing of animals for the Feast of St Francis recalls Isaiah's famous description of the messianic kingdom, even if it is not advisable that the pet python and the pet gerbil should lie down together in the present aeon. In Virginia, there is some blessing of hounds, although in the circumstances that seems very unfair to foxes, and of horses, which is simply gratitude for their refined mammalian empathy, which even God once thought might be companionship enough for his newest creature.

And of course terrible things happen in churches, but we consecrate (and, still more interestingly, deconsecrate) them anyway, which is a sort of blessing. In somewhat common Anglican experience, this is the simplest model of blessing that we have, although usually rather idealising. Rites for confirmation exemplify blessings of people.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

That we bless any of these things points to the inadequacy of merely moralistic categories for understanding what a blessing is and does. It is hardly amoral in an antinomian way, but the controlling idea is the *governing providence* (cf John Webster) of God by which the creature under the conditions of the Fall is ritually committed to his care with respect (we desire) to this world, but primarily (we know) to the world to come. If one is the sort of rationalist for whom religion has to be carefully instrumentalised in the service of one's social blueprint, then one is in rebellion against God and cannot understand divine blessing anyway, although divine cursing may all too soon concentrate the mind wonderfully. But for believers, the distinct relation of each of the three Persons to any of their creatures is invoked when we bless it in their Name. It can be blessed because it is their creature. Full stop. And doing so recognises the authority, in the deep sense, of the Creator who orders, sustains, and governs all things.

What people are worry, worry, worrying about is how they can get their own own own moral programs-- scriptural or intuitive-- to control what a blessing is and does. But the very point of a blessing is that God is in charge, not us, and a fight over whose moral program is to prevail veers dangerously close to unbelief. When we moralise about blessings we are like Job who is stubbornly sure of his righteous convictions facing the Whirlwind who demands to know how he dares to tell the Creator how to govern all things, summons the entire cosmos to testify to his sovereignty, and mentions for good measure that he has made the terrifying Leviathan and Behemoth simply to watch them play because its fun. The Creator creates with a wild joy in his creatures that will not be boxed in by any human notion of correctness. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes can verify that from experience, as can Jesus.

Would a procession with cross and banners and incense through a red light district to bless the whores and the pimps and the johns and the police and the drug fiends get this across? The Lord sends his rain on the just and the unjust, and until one truly inwardly accepts that, one is not living life in the gratitude that the Eucharist is all about. In fact, one may be living the life of Jonah or Saul.

So can a homosexual be blessed? Yes, of course. He is a creature. Homosexuals have been blessed every Sunday since the days when St Paul blessed them, along with all the other sinners in his congregations, while warning people against the power of sexual passions to distort the soul. Gospel with law, affirmation with transformation. But in blessing the glory of God that is a man fully alive, we should serve the Father's ordering will, the Son's reconciling love, and the Spirit's openings of this aeon to the next.

When those discernments are made about homosexual lives with a eucharistic gospel heart, it is reasonably likely that blessing of some kind for some occasion will follow. Why? Because that is how we commit things to their Creator's merciful care. But such a blessing would seem to be of something different from created marriage, or else the reports that say otherwise would not keep suppressing its distinguishing features of Man, Woman, and Procreation to make their case.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...


Bryden, I do not mean to turn this into a game of Rock Paper Scissors, but while I do think highly of Ephraim Radner's work as here--

http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2009/06/blessing-a-scriptural-and-theological-reflection/

--this sounds more like St Paul--

https://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/correcting-our-vision/

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...


"This had a strong resonance with the Church today in its refusal to accept that physical, sexual privation is not necessarily the way to Godliness. Celibacy has its place, but it just aint everyone's cuppa tea."

Nevertheless, Father Ron, whether they are straight or gay, people spend years outside of marriage. In the long run, it will be those who can make some more than hedonistic sense of those years who will inspiringly discern and teach the Way in the C21. They could be either post-liberal or traditional, for there are some promising voices in both camps. But spiritual beacons will not be found among people whose lives are centered in materialism and eroticism and who weep about *sexual privation* as though the greatest of misfortunes is to have missed one's lifetime quota of orgasms. An age of mass prosperity has brought the vices of the rich to all, so that anyone can now be depraved in ways that only emperors could once afford.

There will inevitably be a healthy reaction against this, and any real Church will be a part of it. So while I too am wary about a too-tidy, too-convenient assumption that all homosexuals have certified calls to life-long celibacy, I have no compunction about saying that they will have to practise the disciplines of chastity if they are serious Christians. And why not? Some of the best exemplars of this have always been gay or lesbian.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

"The Creator creates with a wild joy in his creatures that will not be boxed in by any human notion of correctness. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes can verify that from experience, as can Jesus.

Would a procession with cross and banners and incense through a red light district to bless the whores and the pimps and the johns and the police and the drug fiends get this across? The Lord sends his rain on the just and the unjust, and until one truly inwardly accepts that, one is not living life in the gratitude that the Eucharist is all about"

Love your playful rhetoric here, Bowman. A man after my own heart!

However, in connection with your mention of the prostitutes and pimps being blessed, there is still extant, as far as I know, a delightful book about the anglo-Catholic priest in the East end of London, a well-known and much-loved Father Williamson. who provided a shelter in his parish for prostitutes, to rest between 'bouts' of activity in their profession, for the purpose of R. and R. with a cuppa and a friendly chat, if that was what they needed. How very Franciscan tghat was and, I'm sure brought a smile to the heart of God.

Now I know that's going to shock many of my fellow contributors on ADU, but your comments provoked it - not unwillingly on my part.

Blessings!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Father Ron, is (>) an emoticon? What does it mean?"

In explanation of the above, bracketed, 'emoticon'; it was no such intentional gizmo. Merely the result, in fact, of a momentary hesitation of a palsied finger over the keys of my computer. I find, as one gets older, that many of these little incosequentialities creep in.

Michael Primrose said...

"There will inevitably be a healthy reaction against this, and any real Church will be a part of it. So while I too am wary about a too-tidy, too-convenient assumption that all homosexuals have certified calls to life-long celibacy, I have no compunction about saying that they will have to practise the disciplines of chastity if they are serious Christians." Bowman Walton

I should point out that here, in the Diocese of Christchurch, I have never been asked by a member of clergy or of the laity, whether I am in possession of a Certificate of Life Long Celibacy or whether my chastity is sufficiently disciplined.

The question of my on-going, private, sexual activity, or complete lack of it, has neither been raised when I have partaken of Communion, nor when I have read the Lessons, nor when my partner has served as an acolyte.

As with the late Emperor Vespasian, it would also seem that the Anglican Church in New Zealand is not offended by the smell of the money we donate to the Church, even though there would appear to be many a Titus, who would wrinkle their nose in Puritan disgust.

Although for the Church, as with the Pardoner, the abiding text is "Radix malorum est cupiditas", it would seem in our case that "Pecunia non olet" is the more apposite Latin tag.

It may be of course. that the clergy, taking note of my advancing years and my fewer remaining greying hairs, have assumed that the sexual circus has long since passed me by and the dogs have ceased to bark. I am not sure that I find this assumption to be particularly complimentary, or reassuring.

However, rather than commissioning a sin by mis-assumption or by my natural delicacy and reticence, I will take virtuous delight in informing the Bishop and the relevant clergy, of the intimate details of my sexual life, such as it is. Then a valid theological assessment of the rigour of my chastity can be made and I will know, with exquisite certainty, my correct relation to the Church.

My "sins", though many and varied, will, after all, be an excellent, clerical introduction to the myriad of exciting details, that the clergy will be exposed to, when they begin, as instructed in Canon III, Section 2.3, to:

"provide education to the parties seeking blessing on the Christian understanding of life­long relationships, or see that such education is provided by some other competent person, in accordance with any Guidelines that General Synod may from time to time issue. The Church's teaching on life­long covenanted relationships is as set out in Schedule II of this Canon."

Schedule II is set out in "Section 10. Proposed Schedule to Part B of Title G Canon III" of the "A Way Forward" report

As the Eucharist may be included in the Rite of Blessing of committed, life-long, monogamous, right ordered same-sex couples, clergy will have to be extremely worldly in asking about the chastity of the couples before them. Of course, if they were not worldly before, they certainly will be afterwards.

However, it may be the case that, the Anglican Church in New Zealand may be following the teachings of that modern, moral exemplar, the former POTUS, Bill Clinton, and that all of this confusion, on my part, is simply the practical application of the injunction

"Don't ask! Don't tell!"

Regards

Michael Primrose
also signed by Kirk Spragg

Peter Carrell said...

A cricket umpiring analogy, Michael, might explain some clergy's approach to the matter you raise: always give the benefit of doubt to the batsman.

But most, likely, are avoiding theological lessons from either Mr or Mrs Clinton ("I mean, who can afford their talks!"), and heading straight for teaching from the Master, Matthew 7:1-5.

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

Giving the "benefit of the doubt" to the non-chaste partner of a same-sex couple, who drops a bank-note in the Offertory plate, or to the somewhat less than celibate partner of a same sex couple, who donates both time and devotion to serving the Church, does seem to be rather convenient for the Church. A case of happily benefiting from the sacrifice whilst turning a blind eye to the "sin" perhaps?

But can you, when offering the wafer and the wine, blink when it comes to a parishioner, who you know, in your heart of hearts, has neither repented of nor renounced the continuance of their carnal sins? Should you not, as a person of the cloth, take a virtuous stand, and refuse the communicant?

Of course, being too particular about the private lives of your parishioners may lead to a sudden reduction in the "bums on pews", so it is probably more sensible, and advantageous to do a "Nelson" and to see no sins.

Better a Church full of sinners than a nave empty with virtue.

As for judging not lest you be not judged, I would accept the appositeness of the Gospel quote, if innumerable clergy did not take great delight, these days, in passing judgement against all manner of things, that they have neither a practical knowledge of nor the personal experience of the intricacies of the question concerned.

One could respond with the proverb quoted in the Gospel of Luke

"Physician, heal thyself!"

Regards

Michael Primrose

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
There are various ways in which church leadership Nelson like turns a blind eye, and sooner or later such a policy runs into snags.
But with particular respect to the communion rail (real or, in many churches today, imaginary), I suggest priests would wish to give the benefit of the doubt, that is, not presuming that between confession-absolution and reception, God has not accomplished a work of repentance in the communicant. I believe our dear lady [QE1] said it well about not presuming to make a window into people's souls.

Anonymous said...

Michael Primrose, may we hope that you will keep posting hereabouts? You haven't posted a dull comment yet, and the last were a delight to read twice.

But my own comment--

"There will inevitably be a healthy reaction against this, and any real Church will be a part of it. So while I too am wary about a too-tidy, too-convenient assumption that all homosexuals have certified calls to life-long celibacy, I have no compunction about saying that they will have to practise the disciplines of chastity if they are serious Christians."

--does not mention clerical scrutiny of the laity. There is simply a desire-- "if they are serious Christians"-- and its consequence-- "they will have to practise the disciplines of chastity." If they are serious cricket players, they will have to learn to bat. If they are serious investors, they will have to analyse financials. If they are going to bake good croissants, they will have to find butter with a low water content and fold the dough carefully. Desire, consequence. No police.

And it was in the future tense, speaking of the time when "there will inevitably be a healthy reaction against this, and any real Church will be a part of it." May your wry sense of humour live to brighten those days! But about any then who still attend church but do not want to be serious Christians, or who prefer a simulacrum of the Church to the real thing, I made no prediction. I am not, after all, a Presbyterian.

Bowman Walton



Anonymous said...

Peter; in my area the experts are often sent away to work out a solution. It isn't binding, but advocates and politicians aren't allowed in. Your Way Forward group would have been more meaningful if it had comprised only celibate and non celibate LGBT Anglicans. Their voices would have been relevant. Probably not too late.

Nick

Father Ron Smith said...



I must confess, I am just a wee bit surprised, Bowman, that you should think that, in order to be a 'real' Christiian, a homosexual must be a permanent celibate. You seem to waver between acceptance of homosexuals and saying things like this. Are you really ambivalent? It would be good if you could enlighten us all.

Father Ron Smith said...



I must confess, I am just a wee bit surprised, Bowman, that you should think that, in order to be a 'real' Christiian, a homosexual must be a permanent celibate. You seem to waver between acceptance of homosexuals and saying things like this. Are you really ambivalent? It would be good if you could enlighten us all.

Anonymous said...




"There will inevitably be a healthy reaction against this, and any real Church will be a part of it. So while I too am wary about a too-tidy, too-convenient assumption that all homosexuals have certified calls to life-long celibacy, I have no compunction about saying that they will have to practise the disciplines of chastity if they are serious Christians."

"I must confess, I am just a wee bit surprised, Bowman, that you should think that, in order to be a 'real' Christian, a homosexual must be a permanent celibate."

Well, Father Ron, your paraphrase does miss the subtlety of my comment. That reflects, not ambivalence toward social acceptance of homosexuals, but clarity that the gospel found in scripture entails a degree of ascesis. Hence I referred to the virtue of chastity rather than to a state of life such as celibacy. And although the real Church is known by her support for every aspect of life in Christ, there are certainly serious Christians who, out of a strong sense of vocation, struggle on in churches that cast out demons in the Lord's name but are not quite bands of disciples.

To my mind, I have not wavered at all, but I realise that there have been so many game-changers with respect to That Topic that not all here have integrated them into their own thinking about it. They may then be surprised when a comment of mine makes a move not seen in the old game.

Bowman Walton

Andrew Reid said...

Just to go back to Bishop Greg Thompson's (Newcastle) likely boycott of the Bishops Meeting, there is a document called Faithfulness in Service which has been adopted by the Anglican Church of Australia. It sets out safe ministry practices and behaviours expected of all workers within the church. It includes the requirement (section 7.2)for clergy to be faithful within marriage and chaste in singleness. It was first published in 2004 and most recently updated in 2011. At the Bishops' meeting in 2014, all Bishops agreed to abide by this protocol when appointing, licensing or ordaining ministers.
http://www.anglican.org.au/governance/Documents/bishops-protocols/1348%20Bishops%20Protocol%2019%20Faithfulness%20in%20Service.pdf

What Sydney and many other dioceses are asking for is that dioceses keep the commitments they have already made. They are not asking for new commitments or extending existing commitments. If Newcastle diocese no longer wants to be bound by this commitment they ought to seek support from General Synod to amend Faithfulness in Service, or implement their own scheme and withdraw from the Bishops Meeting. Expressing divergent views within the church's accepted teaching is fine. A bishop advocating publicly for change to that teaching and/or acting contrary to that teaching is not.

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

I am, to use Bowman Walton's definition, essentially a frivolous and amateur Anglican, however I would, professionally,have expected, rather as does Nick, that the committee that produced the "A Way Forward" report should have included some openly celibate or uncloseted, sexually active LGBTI members of the the Anglican clergy and laity, if only to add artistic verisimilitude to the report before us.

As they say, nothing speaks the Truth so well as a life experience actually lived.

One would assume, of course, that testimony had been sought from both the celibate and the unchased LGBTI members of the New Zealand Anglican community, during the formulation of the report, and the deliberations that preceded it, if only to act as leaven to enable the report to rise to the heights to which it seeks to aspire.

To have not thus so widely consulted, would be as fatuous as a group of male-gendered Anglican clergy and laity deliberating and deciding, in barren intellectual isolation, on the role and function of those Anglicans of the female gender within the Church. Such theological arrogance would scarce be tolerated in these supposed, Modern Times without universal, and well merited derision and hilarity.

Of course, one might naively assume, that the "A Way Forward" report was concerned and focused on alleviating the condition of the differently sexually desiring persons of the New Zealand Anglican Community, whether they actively followed their desires, or not.

However, the "A Way Forward" report does rather remind one of the parable of "The Theologians and the Rolls of Wallpaper".

One evening, a babble of theologians crept into Christ Church Cathedral, unobserved. They carried, under their arms, a myriad of rolls of tastefully inoffensive, patterned wallpaper and tins of matching paint beyond number. Working with dedication and without rest, they laboured through the long dark hours of the night, relying on faith to guide them, since they dared not use a light. And they laboured until their work was done.

And in the light of the new day dawning, the People of the City awoke and they were sore amazed, for their beloved Cathedral stood before them as a Church reborn. The walls of the Cathedral were covered in tasteful wallpaper with the patterns carefully aligned and the arches of the aisles gleamed in the light of the rising sun as if they were forged anew.

And the People of the City were glad and did rejoice mightily at the wonder the theologians had performed for them, and they ignored the small, lone voice that said

"Put not thy trust in Paisleys to repair the fabric!"

But, in future time, when the earth was caused to shake, they remembered the words, and marvelled at them.

Regards

Michael Primrose

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
I personally do not assume that no openly LGBT persons were associated with the production of the report.

Anonymous said...


Father Ron, an article in today's NYT by Molly Worthen reports that American evangelicals are increasingly agreeing with you on the etiology of homosexuality and its ethical implications, and that for just that reason, the community of celibate homosexual evangelicals-- that group needs to pick a name-- is also thriving with a hybrid of queer theory and evangelical theology.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/opinion/sunday/who-are-the-gay-evangelicals.html?

That is, they have personally experienced the ways in which the experience of very straight church has been hurtful, but they nevertheless find the spirituality of evangelicalism well-suited to the living of difficult vocations. In general, I resist certain tendencies to marginalise their experience and perspective. I think that, when everyone absorbs all of the implications of civil SSM, both will be pertinent to wise choices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/opinion/sunday/who-are-the-gay-evangelicals.html?

In your context, Molly Worthen's perspective on evangelicalism may also be helpfully subversive.

http://religionandpolitics.org/2013/12/03/the-intellectual-civil-war-within-evangelicalism-an-interview-with-molly-worthen/

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

" the gospel found in scripture entails a degree of ascesis. Hence I referred to the virtue of chastity rather than to a state of life such as celibacy." - Bowman -

So, Bowman; do you think that leaves heterosexually married people off the hook? Would not the ascesis you so heartily recommend include hetero as well as homosexual persons? Saint Paul, at least, was keen on this idea. However, he did say that it was 'better to marry than burn'. I guess most heterosexual marriages are conditioned by that last bit!

It's all very well for married heterosexual people to urge 'chastity' upon homosexuals, but it might be more helpful if more of them who want to curb the natural sexal instincts of LGBTQI people would be prepared to set an example by only engaging in connubial activity for the express purpose of producing progeny. (Do any of them, for instance use artificial contraception?) Let us not urge on others a practise of ascetic behaviour that we are not prepared to accede to ourselves.

And then, there is the question of 'what is chastity?' Is it complete abstention from all sexual expression - whether married ro single? Or does it include marital connubial relations - even when not directed towards procreation.

God's gift of sexuality can be so inadvertently 'out of control'. Ask any teenager who's had to explain stains on his bedsheet to matron.

The fact is, is it not; sexual expression is part of our common human nature - a gift of God that we can either relish or deny? "All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above - so bless the Lord and thank the Lord for ALL his Love" - True or false?

Yes, our sexuality can be misused - as in instances of abuse of the other person involved. Yes, discipline is required and fidelity to one other person is the way of the Gospel. This is one reason why many Christians would like to see Same-Sex Blessings of monogamously related couples in the Church.

Jesus did speak of 3 ways of avoiding the use of our God-given sexuality. Interestingly, only 1 was 'for the sake of the Gospel!' Jesus Himself was the perfect exemplar. Monks, Nuns and Catholic Clergy are enjoined by the Church to follow suit. No-one else!

Anonymous said...

By *ascesis*, Father Ron, I meant what Martin Thornton meant--

https://www.ambroseinstitute.org/the-principles-behind-martin-thorntons-theology/

His books were young when you were. Did you read them? I remember devouring his books as fast as the Cowley Fathers could put them out, wishing that there were evangelicals with as keen a grasp of the spiritual riches of the tradition and the ways of souls as that eminent Anglo-Catholic. Nowadays, of course, there are--

http://webbercenter.tsm.edu/aef-conference/

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

G’day again Bowman. A wee pause my end due to both sermon prep and delivery + farm needs. Tho I’m now in a position to respond to what I read earlier: yours at February 27, 2016 at 4:24 AM under Planning A Way Forward.

I think I must be missing something here. For I don’t sense Ephraim lacks the vision required by Craig; and I don’t see the so-called virtue ethics vs. consequentialism struggle in the links (tho to be sure, Craig makes a deal of it!). As for Virtue ethics itself: I’ve enjoyed Alasdair Mac’s material for many years now; and he has a real point. Ethics, even the invention of ethics (cf. Stanley now), in our modern era is innately a muddied and muddled thing - overall, most “disquieting”. That’s why I am so enjoying Oliver’s mature attempt to write Ethics as Theology. Roll on vol.3!

So; perhaps it might be your turn for some elucidation in a less than transparent response ... ;-) And certainly one that addressees more thoroughly “blessing”.


On another front: I think I’d muster Andrew Murray, JC Ryle, and AW Tozer as reasonable Evangelical spiritual Masters ... What sayest thou?

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bowman, I am not unfamiliar with the 'Cowley Dads' and their Anglo-Catholic ethos, and Martin Thornton's ideas were, of necessity, born out of his own experience of the Religious Life. My own poor attempt at that life - as an Anglican Franciscan Novice - was cut short by a call to the ordained ministry, and subsequent theological studies at St. John's College in ACANZP. I resonate with the comments in the first of your 2 links in your last comment on this thread:

"Ascetical theology, the articulating of the Church’s corporate experience at every level and phase, means everything matters during our “journey” through obedience-­discipline environment of ascetic. As Thornton summarized, “If theology is incarnational, then it must be pastoral.”[7]

It is the pastoral mode in which I presume you might be challenging me in your arguments, above. And I have tried to make my response according to that particular precept - that, "If theology is incarnational, then it must be pastoral.

Your second link, from the Webber, AEFC, website; speaks of 'First Order' issues, which, as must have been obvious in my responses on this ADU site, may not necessarily include issues of SSB or even SSM.
I believe that Jesus' discourse on marriage, divorce and eunuchs in Matthew 19, is more about faithfulness in marital relatioships, rather than a commentary on the banning of other close relationships. After asll, Jesus did have a uniquely close relationship himself - with John, the beloved Disciple.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden; apropos your sermon preparation; I'll bet those cows of yours could tell you a very interesting story about relationships, if only you could hear them. A farm is a great place to observe 'natural' animal activity.

Bryden Black said...

Indeed; as the Master said: "Consider the lilies of the field..." As for bovines, I don't recall their being cited - just asses, who prophecy!
Mercifully, humans are both animal like yet also superior ...

Anonymous said...

Father Ron, I'm glad that you enjoyed the link. I was not challenging you at all, just clarifying what my own comment was (not) about and looking for common ground in the one discussion that still seems to me to be alive rather than dead-- what religious value can a church bring to a state of life conceived as a vocation in Christ (eg marriage in TEC's TFSM report)?

Given that churches have been doing the state's work since the turn of the second millenium when there were no modern states, an answer valid today is hardly obvious. If some churchly value added cannot be identified, then it might be better for the Church to get out of the marriage business than to stay, fight, and divide.

One can theorise about blessing as a worthy complement to civil marriage, as I have done in other comments. But such a blessing would require soulful pastoral care for it to make livable sense in practise. Now I am not there, of course. The most beautiful isles may also have the most Spirit-filed clergy and the most wise ascetic theology. But Michael Primrose who is there (and what is more qualified by special gifts of frivolity and unseriousness) seems to find the very notion risible. Comedians are pretty good truth-tellers.

Have we even identified the churchly value added? In general, one side talks only about God's creation of pairbonding and the other side offers only boring secular reasoning about equity. Either sounds grotesque as a basis for giving counsel to C21 souls seeking God in the depths of their shared lives. It may be that the problem discussed here can be solved-- maybe has been solved-- but that the solution cannot be implemented, at least not now. Some claim to have seen the Light in Salt Lake City last summer, but that light may have been a train speeding down the tracks.

Compulsory blessings, MFB and SSB, seem to be a last ditch effort to claim some tiny bit of space in marriage for the Church to continue to tinker with. But why? The Church in the West had little to do with marriage for a thousand years. The reformers were clear that it is not a sacrament of the gospel and is subject to state authority. Why should it be involved with it today, and what follows from a credible answer to that question? That seems to me to be worth discussing. Rehashes of arguments now over, so far as I can see, not so much.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father Ron, for clarifying that Bryden ponders the Word while managing a herd. A cattle man I can relate to. The way one goes about vaccinating bulls for pink eye in the midsummer heat says a lot about one's soul.

The Franciscan way-- also the simplest-- is to approach Brother Bull alone, pet him on the head, apologise in a soft voice, and stick the needle behind the cornea. He may not notice.

The Scholastic way-- for this you will need to build the pen and hire a staff of three: a bachelor, a master, and a doctor-- is to first tame his rebellious nature by chasing him across the field, and driving him into a pen from which he cannot escape; then the bachelor paralyses his hindquarters with his knee, the master holds his bucking head still, and the doctor inserts the needle.

Ceteris paribus, three fast Scholastics in fifteen minutes will vaccinate one bull, and one slow Franciscan in the same time, five. Clearly, the Franciscan has more time to eat ice cream.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Bryden, some contemporary readers skip the Six Texts because they dislike them, others read them as stern if unexplained deontological law, and still others read them as a frame around the sexual virtues proper to an ethos in Christ. Never mind the first readers. The second readers come away with a sense that modern homosexuality is the resurgence of ancient law-breaking which they oppose the more it appears to unite a powerful pressure group. The third readers can see that certain deeds are in the Bible's shadow, but only relative to other concerns, different in different texts, and conclude that they have no transhistorical character, so that the major task is simply to discern and uphold the virtues proper to an ethos in Christ. After that, one might consider the latest emergence of the deeds in the shadows as they are today. Ephraim Radner is the embattled second sort of reader, and Craig Uffman is the irenic third sort of reader. Uffman attributes the difference to their different prior assumptions about what sort of morality has been revealed to Christians. Radner emphasises divine commands in the Holiness Code; Uffman emphasises a hybrid of narrative and virtue ethics congenial to St Paul, Wrightly understood.

Radner's word-study on blessing is fine preliminary work, but does not engage with all the blessing that the Church has done in, say, the first millennium. Prima scriptura, yes; nuda scriptura, no. Perhaps our experiences differ, but I have seldom won a bet that the fathers simply could not read their own languages, do simple word studies, hear verbal echoes, etc. Even what have seems to be serious methodological problems in exegesis can often turn out to arise from the hermeneutic proper to a reasonable theological position. Example: St Gregory of Nazianzus preaching on Genesis 35:4 for Easter 381/2. (Donald Fairbairn among others has demolished the old idea that Antioch, Alexandria, etc had different local hermeneutics.) And alas, I have often won a bet that interpreters with a modern sensibility will be rather flat-footed in understanding how liturgical signs worked in a horizon that was far from disenchanted. I like what you linked, and plan to work through it more carefully, but prima facie, it is not enough to overturn a presumption that the Church's own rites exemplify true blessing.

"I’d muster Andrew Murray, JC Ryle, and AW Tozer as reasonable Evangelical spiritual Masters ... What sayest thou?" Yes, especially Bishop Ryle, but to those names I would add several from other evangelical streams. At present, some of the most salient include missionary spirituality (eg Hudson Taylor on the Song of Songs), evangelical sacramentalism (eg German Reformed from Mercersburg), evangelical reflection on union with Christ (eg Richard Sibbes and early C20 American Lutherans such as Francis Pieper), and of course, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bowman, you have us all sussed. I love this para:

"The Scholastic way-- for this you will need to build the pen and hire a staff of three: a bachelor, a master, and a doctor-- is to first tame his rebellious nature by chasing him across the field, and driving him into a pen from which he cannot escape; then the bachelor paralyses his hindquarters with his knee, the master holds his bucking head still, and the doctor inserts the needle."

I understand that Bryden is a Doctor, so all he needs for the treatment of the red-eyed bull is 2 other shcolastics - a bachelor and a doctor. Mibd you, the Bull, being a bull, would probably prefer the not so scholastic but simpler, Franciscan.

Bryden Black said...

To be sure now Ron & Bowman; what jester is pretending to be a cowherd? For what a bull needs is a herd of cows. Then there'd be no need of pens or vets or straws - just, well, nature! Thereafter perhaps a vealer too ...

Bryden Black said...

Thanks for your approach in your comment March 1, 2016 at 11:49 AM, Bowman. A couple of thoughts though, in order.

Firstly, precisely because those Six Texts have proven really rather slippery (diverse hermeneutics seems to rule in many a mind ...), my own approach for a number of years (approx 30 now) has been more basic - “transhistorical” indeed, even primordial. For Christ redeems a broken and disordered creation. And just so, Paul seeks not exactly a ‘virtue ethic’ before the fact, but a communal baptismal discipline founded upon “becoming in the Spirit who we are in Christ Jesus”. Perhaps then there is even a fourth way to both frame them and expound them.

Secondly, just because the Church has invoked certain rites of blessing does not per se imply their correctness. Just so, what might be the means of adjudication? Nuda versus prima is usually a matter of context. But what if the context is the grand narrative as implied above? One which evaluates any ‘customary’ moralities along the historical way? Then once more we see a missiological sifting as I’ve invoked before on ADU. To be sure; as Eco (RIP) taught even the most earnest secularist there was more to a Rose than its mere Name, so “signs” may make for both a good crime novel and a richer cosmological tapestry. Yet even here there are due limits to our fertile imaginations - as mere apprentices soon discover! Augustine may have given us De Doctrina Christiana; but he also stretched the parable of the Good Samaritan (for example) to lengths that obfuscated practical neighbourliness - as the Reformers were wont to point out. Just so again, are there ‘really’ two sacraments or seven; and which seven? I rest my case.

Anonymous said...


Bryden, do you think that we disagree on That Topic? If so, what is the disagreement that you see?

The sort of reading that you describe sounds like the narrative side of the Hauerwasian side of Craig Uffman. To which I would only add this: much that we interpret as the forgiveness of sin-acts is actually in St Paul release from the power of sin. Readers often construe apocalyptic langusge in juridicalising ways that dampen its narrative overtones.

Scepticism itself requires a warrant, and on the face of it, I am not seeing a warrant for doubting *that the undivided Church adequately practised blessing* that believers in the creeds should accept (cf Jenson, Canon and Creed). Even if I did, such a scepticism would not avoid the testimony of the scripture-soaked, missional, and pre-sacramentological Church of the first millennium.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

I love the jousting here - just like one Sancho Pancho and his beloved Master (the name escapes me for the senior moment). To us mere mortals, the subtleties of the conversation are just like 'seeing through a glass darkly' (sunglasses, heavily reinforced). But, no doubt, the combatants are really having fun. Enjoy!

Bryden Black said...

G’day again Bowman - eventually! ’Tis time to try a response to your comment @ March 2, 2016 at 1:25 AM, notably re That Topic. Apologies for lateness, but it’s been a rather full week. And this comment might now have relevance to the Canadians’ own inevitabilities ...

Well; I have had to conclude, after some 25+ years of trying to converse and read and pray and think, that the best way to describe the relationship of a same-sex-couple is this: it’s a “tragic irony”. And I’d wish to emphasize equally both words.

Re Tragedy. I have in mind the classic Greek sense, of heroes and heroines, caught up in the ‘drama of human life’, often with fine qualities, whose very qualities nonetheless only lend yet further pathos to the inevitable outcome; for such an outcome is inevitable - and so, tragic - since the fates and furies and the sheer nature of the world all ‘conspire’ to render it so; indeed, we might even invoke Providence here: this is the Way It Is.

As for Irony. Let’s simply invoke a dictionary or two:

• expressing one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
• a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.
• a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character. Hence: dramatic irony, tragic irony.

Well; there you have it. And in which light we may ask subsequently - what of a church who blesses such a relationship ...? It seems to me that, far from ‘accommodating’ such descriptions as “exceptionality” or “marginalization” - which might at first blush very well be viewed as Gospel actions in their own right - we would be only compounding the tragedy - again with equal weight upon each of those two words. For such is the Way It Is.

And the Gospel response becomes one of living “under the mercy”, with baptismal catechetical formation of Christians seeking even this worldly transformation, in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit - knowing full well post baptismal sinning is a reality. Just so, with ML: “If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (emphasis added) Just so again - with Dante this time: we in Christ Jesus wait washed in faith, hope and love for the Consummation of the Divine Comedy.

Brian Kelly said...

"The sort of reading that you describe sounds like the narrative side of the Hauerwasian side of Craig Uffman. To which I would only add this: much that we interpret as the forgiveness of sin-acts is actually in St Paul release from the power of sin. Readers often construe apocalyptic langusge in juridicalising ways that dampen its narrative overtones"

- with permission I'd like to quote these words in my next sermon on the Feast Day of my Patron Saint Gaunilo (commemorated this year on the fifth day after Easter).

Bryden Black said...

I'd agree with this realist view of Paul's language Bowman/Brian. On account of (some of) our historical debates, atonement is often primarily viewed in juridical language. On the other hand, Paul sees eschatology both here/now and there/then. Just so, my own summary of the baptismal catechetical form, which seeks and even expects real transformation in the here and now. E.g. 2 Cor 3:18, Phil 3:12ff.