Saturday, April 7, 2012

Trouble at mill?

You can tell something is on someone's mind when they speak about it. It is especially telling when a person in authority makes reference to challenges to that authority. It shows that some special anxiety is at work. The more so, I suggest, when it is referenced in an occasion which is otherwise given over to traditional reflections in keeping with the season.

"Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?"
That is none other than Pope Benedict XVI speaking two days ago at this year's papal Chrism Mass.
Benedict's whole response to this particular challenge is steady, theological (asking whether it is 'configuration to Christ' or not) and pastoral (he has got to keep the global Catholic church together).

But what is he going to do if these several hundred European priests become several thousand European, British and American priests? Imagine if some Kiwi priests join in? (Here's a fact: talk to Kiwi Catholic priests in NZ about the ordination of women and you will find a lot in favour).

This is an interesting time for the Romans: on the one hand offering the Anglican Ordinariate, reasserting the importance of the Latin Mass, tightening up on this and that which flowed from the loosening up which as Vatican II; on the other hand facing a liberalising movement which could get out of hand in which shibboleths are challenged. Dare the Pope call rebellion the many Catholics throughout the world who ignore Humanae Vitae? Is it really 'rebellion' to follow a common sense understanding of the possibilities of modern life, whether it is utilising artifical contraception to enhance family life or seriously considering whether women might be priests?

Rome's challenge through the next pope or three will be facing the facts on the development of human life through the last century. A new fullness of humanity is being enjoyed by women, as educated, emancipated, empowered persons. If this is faced up to in a theological manner, that is accepting that these developments are a 'configuration' to Genesis 1 and 2, and Galatians 3:28, a configuration to our imaging of God and to our redemption by Christ as male and female, then change might occur. A key theological shift would be to move away from the priest as the icon of Christ's gender to the priest as the icon of Christ's humanity. Underlying this shift would be a (perhaps somewhat Anglican) emphasis on the incarnation: the Word became flesh, not the Word became male.

Otherwise it is going to be 'trouble at mill' for Rome. I expect change, but not necessarily in my lifetime.

In other news, some poor arguments against the ordination of women to positions of authority continue from Protestant pens. Here is Cranmer's Curate:

"It was precisely to counter spiritual disorder in the early Church that much of the New Testament was penned. Important New Testament epistles such as 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, the Johannine letters, Jude and the Revelation to John were written against the background of local churches facing serious theological threats.

The two Pauline epistles where the Apostle to the Gentiles directly asserts the requirement for male headship in the ordering of the Church – 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy – were written to counter serious disorder in the congregations at Corinth and Ephesus.

Even those NT documents apparently not occasioned by a particular theological crisis, such as St Paul's epistle to the Romans, certainly contain warnings against false teaching and ungodly behaviour.

Various New Testament churches, within a few years of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, had got themselves into a mess and needed sorting out. Hence the exalted Christ sent forth his divinely inspired Word to bring order to the unruly seas of ecclesiastical chaos.

Furthermore, in his providential and sovereign wisdom the reigning Christ ensured that these authoritative Holy Scriptures would be preserved for coming generations of Christians in order to remedy future disorder in his Church."
This approach is seriously interesting inasmuch as it begs a question or two about why God let the church which began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit grow into such disorder without prior written instructions to signal the order that was meant to have been followed, to say nothing of the question of whether a response to the unruly seas of Ephesian and Corinthian church life was intended to forbid women ever leading a church in any situation, including one in which there is neither chaos nor disorder.

I suggest another explanation is better: God cares for the order of the church but does not care particularly which order is followed. In all discussions of church order in the New Testament we do well to observe that no one order is set down which is to be followed by all in all situations. Bishops, elders, deacons, ministers, co-workers are all mentioned but never in a definitive 'this is how the church offices are to be ordered for all time' manner. The greatest detail in 1 Timothy about the ordering of ministry and church life concerns widows. Twenty centuries later, I know of no church which follows this order!

The early church was a church propelled by the Spirit which fuelled it into life at the first Pentecost. Carried along in the Spirit the church was led by the apostles (for the obvious reason that they were the people closest to Jesus and commissioned by him to continue his work) and thereafter made things up as it went along according to the challenges it faced (table ministers in Acts 6, men and women leading churches in Romans 16, women being prohibited from usurping authority in 1 Timothy 2), though it always responded with responsible theology, anchoring its responses into its knowledge of God, of the Spirit, of Christ, of the church as the body of Christ in which varieties of gifts and ministries are to be found, and of the need for good order and sound teaching.

What Cranmer's Curates approach in the post I cite from above, and what Benedict XVI's chrism sermon are not reckoning with is the possibility that women might serve in the church of God in a manner in keeping with its order rather than in a way which promotes disorder and rebellion.

It is not reasonable to suppose that the likes of Phoebe and Priscilla were contributors to disorder in the churches they were part of and it is incredible to suppose that they needed prohibitions to govern their roles in authoritative leadership and teaching. We may properly suppose that their ministries as leaders in the church were a 'configuration to Christ'.

At this Eastertide it may be especially useful to consider the rationality (i.e. logic) of the resurrection: in Christ everything is made new, including divided and hostile humanity being made into a new society (Ephesians 2), so our reasoning about what constitutes order in the new order of the resurrection now allows for the fullness of our renewed humanity to be represented in the life of the church. In Christ there is neither male nor female is not just a baptismal formula affirming that all are redeemed through the cross of Christ. It is a ministry formula affirming that in Christ there is a new humanity in which old distinctions between men and women in respect of ministry roles have passed away (see further via link a lovely essay by Benjamin Myers). That they were reinvoked in 1 Timothy shows how seriously stormy the ecclesiastical seas had become in Ephesus, but that reinvocation tell us nothing about the ordering of ministry when the seas are calm. The letter to the Ephesians tells us nothing about gender in ministry, presumably because it was written after the storms had abated or before they arose.

In short, Benedict XVI's problem on Maundy Thursday is resolved on Easter Day and Cranmer's Curate's theology is challenged on that same day.

These are not idle ramblings at this season (though I acknowledge they may appear to be so). When we consider the cross and the resurrection we must do so precisely in relation to the world as we find it today: Jesus died for it and lives for it as much as for the world in AD 33 or 1533. Do we have within Christianity a coherent message for humanity as 21st century humanity or not? If we are, in part or in whole suffering from incoherency, then there may be no part more so than the Anglican churches individually and collectivised into the Anglican Communion (see further an essay by John Milbank which repays very careful reading).

Those Austrian priests challenging Rome are an intriguing part of a great convulsion going on within world Christianity. In 2012 we may be as close to the epitome of that convulsion as Christians were in 1512 to the epitome of the Reformation.


Rosemary Behan said...

Peter writes .. “Do we have within Christianity a coherent message for humanity as 21st century humanity or not?”

No I'm very afraid we don’t. Of course we all have biases, and that often directs our remarks, so I think first of all we must ALL admit we have them. In this post for instance Peter, you ignore the thousands of women who are members of the church that Jesus died for who do not want a woman to minister in their churches. They are your sisters in Christ, and yet you never mention them or their point of view/bias. Fine, I can see that you think they are wrong, but don’t you see that this division is symptomatic or all the problems we have. You also have no more than a dismissive remark to make about your brothers in Christ, who happen to also be gay, but who don’t believe in the liberal interpretation of the bible. Fine, there are few of them, does that make it easy to dismiss them? Jesus has chosen them, they are brothers in Christ, and yet they are voiceless, and no one amongst our leaders represents them. We are very sick indeed when we ignore the very people that Jesus has chosen and died for .. and refuse to submit to His authority.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
Well it will sound a bit plaintive, but I had not intended anyone to be dismissed by this post.

There are and will be many women in churches, Roman and Protestant, who do not wish for there to be women in positions of authority. Working out how that commitment is worked out alongside a commitment to permit and encourage women in positions of authority is a challenge, not least to how we Christians express ourselves coherently. Is it any less of a challenge for the gospel to explain how and why women might not lead the church as it is to explain how they might, or how the church might accommodate two approaches?

I had not thought I had made any particular remark about gay Christians, nor sought to ignore them. But if I have done that by implication then I am sorry for that.

liturgy said...

Greetings Peter

Might I add to your reflections, that your not finding a definitive church order in every page of the New Testament is not dissimilar to not being able to find a definitive list of the New Testament (or biblical) canon there.

The development of church order is not dissimilar to the development of the canon. Some early documents were relatively soon not received as inspired. Some early leadership styles were similarly relatively soon so not received.

The lack of “prior written instructions” for canon or church order on God’s part does show a certain recklessness on God’s part, and an overwhelming trust in the power of the Spirit. In fact why didn’t Jesus just write up the “Anglican Covenant”, with its clear affirmation of the scriptures and the historic episcopate? ;-)

Well – at least the latter is clear there; Jesus could have been a bit less vague about the former.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
As you know, the Anglican Covenant is a modest elaboration on two scriptural factors:
(1) A combination of Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 14:40; and
(2) A recent discovery by biblical scholars that Ephesians 5:21 is not, as previously thought, limited by boundaries between nations.

Quite a few developments in the history of the English church have involved such modest scriptural elaborations: agreeing on the date of Easter, finding out what is what when the king wants to marry again (and again), determining that the papacy was not as well founded on our Lord's authority as previously thought. And so on!

Even the early church's reception of inspired or 'inspired' church order under went ongoing revision through the ages. I would like to have been a sub-deacon. But, alas, this office is no longer available in the Western hemisphere. But all in all I am glad that church order has changed over the centuries, otherwise I think we would be rather stuck on a matter which needs to adapt with the changing ages.

liturgy said...

Pope Benedict allows the subdiaconate, Peter.

And you can also fulfil your desire at St Michael's ;-)

Christ is risen!


Peter Carrell said...

He is risen indeed, Bosco.

PS I shall look forward to meeting a sub-deacon in person.

Rosemary Behan said...

"Well it will sound a bit plaintive, but I had not intended anyone to be dismissed by this post."

Of course you didn't Peter, it's all quite unthinking. You've been bombarded for years by the women who feel disenfranchised, and you've now quite forgotten those whom you are at present disenfranchising. I've sat in synod after synod, even general synod, hearing the same thing. When the church changes something so major after two thousand years, it's bound to happen. My plea is that you don't forget us, because we ARE part of the church, whether it suits you or not.

Father Ron Smith said...

"A key theological shift would be to move away from the priest as the icon of Christ's gender to the priest as the icon of Christ's humanity. Underlying this shift would be a (perhaps somewhat Anglican) emphasis on the incarnation: the Word became flesh, not the Word became male."
Dr.P. Carrell -

Precisely, Peter. Well said! And, in the same vein, the en-fleshing of Jesus incarnated every aspect of the continuum of human gender and sexuality. This is probably one good explanation for the reason that Jesus did not participate in the phenomenon of procreation.

I believe that this is what the Holy Spirit may be saying to the Church at this moment in history, and which the Church is bending over backwards to avoid - simply because of its inconvenience, and the challenge to institutionalised patriarchy.

No wonder the Roman Catholic Church is most disturbed, it has more to lose - the mandatory celibacy of the (male) clergy

Anonymous said...

The problem Peter is that Word DID become male. So perhaps the answer is to move away from the idea that the minister is a "priest" in the first place, or an icon for that matter.

The Biblical (NT) approach to Church leadership seems more functional and pragmatic. The notion of an elite sacramental priesthood is a later development in the Church and is fraught with problems, both theological and practical.

It is, I believe, important for the Church to take both Christ's humanity and his maleness seriously. De-gendering Christ, so that he becomes a kind of androgynous metrosexual, surrenders too much to the spirit of the age, and leads to other theological problems.

laudable Practice said...

Peter, Easter greetings!

I think you are on the money by linking Benedict's Chrism Mass homily and Milbank's excellent essay. Perhaps the greatest relevance of Benedict's homily is not the presenting issue - the ordination of women - but rather ecclesiology:

"Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?"

Benedict's words perhaps have a special relevance for Anglicanism in light of what Milbank states regarding our Communion's lack of coherence which underminines our mission:

"The Anglican Church needs to increase the effectiveness of its teaching office, since this is an essential aspect of priesthood and episcopacy. While the operation of the Catholic magisterium is still (whether fairly or unfairly) regarded as too draconian by many Anglicans, there is little doubt that Anglicanism has gone way too far in the other direction, and offers its members pitifully little guidance and only partial and sporadic leads on doctrine and practice".

The Austrian priests rebuked by Benedict can be said to represent that tendency to autonomy in contemporary Anglicanism which leads to doctrinal and evangelistic incoherence. Milbank suggests an alternative, an Anglicanism "radically biblical yet hyper-Catholic", recovering its "hidden coherence". In light of Milbank's words, we could conclude that Benedict - and not the dissident Austrian priests - offer a route for the renewal of Anglicanism as an expression of the church catholic.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for comments here.

One responsive comment re the possibility of de-gendering Jesus. I suggest there is a both-and to hold to: Jesus was a real male human, a man; and Jesus was a human being. In respect of soteriology, incarnation and passion (Jesus suffering for us), I suggest Jesus experienced life and suffered as a human being, the Word made flesh, only thus can we preach that Jesus experienced every temptation common to humanity, died as a perfect human being on the cross for all humanity, male and female. Yet in all aspects of his life and work, Jesus was a man, was and is the Son of God.

liturgy said...

Easter Season Greetings, Peter,

I agree with all in your excellent comment and, hence, pause to ask you to expand on your last clause, “Jesus was a man, was and is the Son of God.”

Are you saying “the Son of God” is, of necessity, masculine – a male? Is God the Son, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, of necessity, masculine?

And possibly more speculatively: is Christ’s masculinity integral to his Resurrected Person? Does our resurrection body have gender?

Christ is Risen!


ps. you may not have noticed you allowed an anonymous comment through moderation

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Bosco is right: letting your comment through without you having supplied your name is against my policy. Please don't do it again, or there will be "moderational consequences."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I think the 'Son of God' was necessarily going to take on the human flesh of a man and not of a woman (otherwise would be 'Daughter of God.') But whether the second person of the Trinity necessarily needed to be 'Son' rather than 'Daughter' ... I am not sure that I have the intellectual wherewithal to explore that much further (unlike the Master-designate of Magdalene College!)

His resurrected person and what is integral to that? Does our resurrection body have gender? I do not know! (If I had to give an answer it would be "no" because gender relates to generational capability and as far as I can tell, resurrection bodies are not required to reproduce.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter.

Actually the "anonymous" comment above was mine. I think I hit the wrong button by accident. Sorry!

Father Ron Smith said...

"The problem Peter is that Word DID become male. - ANONYMOUS -

Not so! Read your Bible, there is a definite clue to the original intention of the writer(s) here to signify that Jesus took OUR flesh upon himself. His maleness was co-incidental.

He represented ALL humanity not just the male of the species. Otherwise only males would have been redeemed. And that is not the case. "He took our(common human) nature upon him".

Just consider what would have happened had Jesus been recognised as female: He could not have taken on the role of a leader in a patriarchal society. He would have been disregarded as a teacher.

Mind you, most of the Jewish, male, establishment did not accept his teaching anyway; especially his acceptance of publicans, sinners and women, as equals in the Kingdom of God.

Parts of the Church today are still in that mode today!

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, re your question about post-resurrection 'gender' identity, one would suspect that gender would be superfluous. And this makes all the fuss about specific gender identity a merely earthly problem - nothing to do with the perfection of heaven.

So why all the fuss, here, about gender identification - except insofar as it helps us humans to recognise one another as potential lovers, work-mates, procreators, or people to steer clear of?

Anonymous said...


Clearly you did not read all of my post. I affirmed that Christ became human, but to be human is to be either male or female, as God created us. This is nothing to be ashamed of, it is the gift of God.

So while Christ took our common human nature upon us, He did so as BOTH human and male.

But to claim his maleness was incidental is quite wrong. This kind of thinking leads to the problem a lack of male attendance in many churches. Presented with an androgynous metrosexual Christ most males, especially working class males, naturally stay away.

Men, particularly in this day and age when simply being male is under attack from feminist and homosexual activists, need to know that being male and heterosexual is not a curse but a blessing.

And yes Ron, parts of the Church today are still not listening to Christ. Like the Pharisees they are inventing their own traditions (gay marriage)and ignoring the Word of God.

Fr. Jonathan said...

"I suggest another explanation is better: God cares for the order of the church but does not care particularly which order is followed."

It is surprising to read this from you, Peter, given how valiantly you have stood up for the Covenant and for Communion ecclesiology. It seems to me that skips right over not only the way in which apostolic order is delivered in the Gospels but also the universal witness of the early Church to the place of bishops in particular. Church order is not an inconsequential thing nor an adiaphora. As a matter of fact, that is largely what separates us as Anglicans from the rest of the early Reformation, that we believe in the Catholic, apostolic order handed down to us not merely as a matter of good taste but as a revelation of God's intention and design.

Moreover, I am surprised that you would support the dissidence of certain Roman priests even if you happen to agree with their conclusions regarding the ordination of women. As the pope points out, the issue isn't so much one of the theology of ordination as it is one of the understanding of the Church. To be Roman Catholic is to accept magisterial authority from the curia, and to be a Roman priest is to accept the discipline therein required. If these priests truly believe this is a make or break issue, they should do the honorable thing and accept eccesial censure or else remove themselves entirely and begin their own church. Or, as with so many others, they can assert their opinion without actually disobeying the authority under which they serve. Any of those options would have more integrity than simply proclaiming the need for "disobedience."

Peter Carrell said...

That is a good criticism, Fr Jonathan. Nevertheless I am intrigued that the NT is not particularly clear about order (though the role of 'overseer' is perhaps the clearest, even if it seems to swing between being titled 'elder' and 'bishop'; I am also wary of asserting the Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox order is demonstrably superior under God to Presbyterian order. For Anglicans we have an order, it is a long heritage, it is shared by other branches of the church, so I am glad to uphold it re Covenant and communion ecclesiology.

As for dissidence: yes, a very fair point, I should not be supporting disobedience. But my point would still be, when does the Pope wake up to the fact of many Roman Catholics thinking differently to the edicts of Rome re contraception and ordination of women. Actually, on contraception I think I would be prepared to counsel disobedience to Humanae Vitae!

Father Ron Smith said...

" Any of those options would have more integrity than simply proclaiming the need for "disobedience." - Fr. Jonathan -

My only question here, Father, is whether, or not, there is ever an occasion for 'holy disobedience'?

For instance, when Jesus disobeyed the Jewish Law?

Or, more pertinently in the present circumstances; when the Church in/of England broke away from the Roman Magisterium.

After all, this latter is seemingly perpetuated by your good self - as a priest within the Church of England! Are you being disobedient to 'The Magisterium? Or do you think that 'disobedience to some magisterial rule is O.K.?

liturgy said...

I repeat, Peter,

I do not understand why you are any more intrigued that the NT is not particularly clear about order than that the NT is not particularly clear about the biblical canon. And many other things we hold to. Sorry but the Bible alone just doesn’t cut it for this stuff.

You will realise I’m not particularly surprised that the details of the “Anglican Covenant” are not held to seriously by pro-Covenantors. We’ve had this discussion here previously about other elements of the “Covenant” which pro-Covenantors don’t really take seriously.

As to counselling disobedience to Humanae Vitae – by all means do. But it is, along with the inability to ordain women, an infallible teaching of the RC Church.

I think Fr Jonathan has an important point: you are advocating one direction for one Communion and the opposite for another. [I know the temptation will be for you to say these two directions meet in the middle which is you ;-) ]

Christ is risen


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I guess, instead of trying to argue myself into a corner like certain painters painting a floor, I need to ask: on what basis do you respond to the argument of Cranmer's Curate, given that you are valiant for apostolic order and also support the ordination of women. I may have argued badly, but I have tried to argue for the ordination of women in response to one who argues from Scripture against it. (I don't think dismissing "Scripture alone" is sufficient response to Cranmer's Curate's argument. "The Bible just doesn't cut it for this stuff" means what? That it is irrelevant? All theology is grounded in Scripture so we engage with Scripture on all issues, whether we are Roman, Reformed or otherwise).

I am not sure who you are referring to when you say that pro-Covenanters do not take the details of the Covenant seriously: to whom and to what details are you referring?

You and Fr Jonathan may be missing my (obviously unclear) point re dissidence: in both Roman and Anglican Communions there is dissidence. In the former it is a matter of interest how the Pope will handle a larger group of dissidents than he currently faces. In the latter it is a matter of interest how our whole Communion handles significant disagreement among ourselves, including, in reference to the Covenant, disagreement on how we might restructure our processes for handling disagreement.

liturgy said...

Easter season greetings Peter

I am perfectly fine should you paint yourself into a corner – I do that regularly myself and have developed the useful skill of leaping over large distances of undried paint.

You know I would be the last to say that the Bible is irrelevant – but your contention that “All theology is grounded in Scripture” is not the starting point that you insist is the case, for example, in the Roman Catholic Church, the communion which is the core of your thread. I challenge you to find an official RC document which makes your contention. This does not make the Scriptures irrelevant – it just isn’t what you accept it to be in the largest body of Christians.

Better to follow the discussions around, say, Fr John Behr – popular currently on my site, and to explore the history of women’s ordination in the early church, than go down the fruitless exercise of a duel of Bible verses at ten paces.

As to regularly ignored bits by proCovenantors – let’s start with 1.1.5; 1.1.6 (pertinent in this thread as Fr Jonathan highlights); 1.1.7.

Christ is Risen!


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Your legs are longer leaping than mine!

Yes, RC discussions will start in a different place, though (in my experience and reading) not too far from grounding in Scripture; but, yes, history of early ordinations of women would (or, should) count for much in that context; perhaps much less so in the world of Cranmer's Curate.

As for the Covenant and sections 1.1.5, 1.1.6, and 1.1.7 (at least), you will find the mover and seconder of, as well as other speakers to the motion next week to pass muster.

liturgy said...

Peter, as if in response to your question how the Vatican deals with dissent: Father Tony Flannery who questioned celibacy, was an advocate of ordaining women into the priesthood, and a critic of the Vatican’s handling of the Irish church sex scandal has just been silenced and sent to a monastery.

Your paralleling the dealing of dissent in the RC Communion with the need to deal with difference within our own does not encourage me.

Christ is risen!


Fr. Jonathan said...

Fr. Ron,

You ask:
"My only question here, Father, is whether, or not, there is ever an occasion for 'holy disobedience'?"

Perhaps. Certainly in situations where the apostolic leadership diverges from the apostolic teaching. The whole body of the faithful is responsible for maintaining the faith once delivered to the saints. But when a particular bishop becomes heretical, his people should look to the other bishops of his synod for relief. And if they become compromised, then an appeal to the bishops of the wider Church must be made. And our problem in the Anglican Communion is that, when such an appeal was made, the bishops had no vehicle for responding to it because we have idolized the "national church" to such an extent that we believe nothing else exists.

The case of the Church of England is interesting because there you have two competing claims for an appeal to apostolicity. The Church of England erred by not making a greater effort to connect with the wider Church at that time, particularly the Orthodox, but nevertheless, the appeal they made was to the sources of apostolic faith, not against them. Rome made an equally serious error, appealing to the authority of the pope while ignoring the apostolic deposit. Schism thus became a reality, but there is enough blame to go around.

I think that it can be a noble thing to stand upon a theological principle even in the face of great opposition. But if one is going to engage in ecclesiastical disobedience, one must be prepared to willingly accept the consequences. When Jesus defied the Jewish authorities, He was crucified for it. He accepted that consequence willingly. He even told people not to defy the priests and rabbis but to listen to them. Those who engage in such acts today seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. If you want to be a prophet, that's fine, but you need to be prepared to suffer and to suffer willingly. Anything less just makes your cause look cheap.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
For the life of me, I cannot think what there is not to like about life in a monastery! :)

Anonymous said...

"Are you saying “the Son of God” is, of necessity, masculine – a male? Is God the Son, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word, of necessity, masculine?"

If 'masculine' and 'feminine' refer only to natural biology, then the answer must be no, that sensu stricto, gender doesn't apply to God. But that's a big 'if'. The use of masculine language in any case is normative from the Bible and from our Lord.

"And possibly more speculatively: is Christ’s masculinity integral to his Resurrected Person? Does our resurrection body have gender?"

The Bible always calls the Resurrected Christ 'he', 'Son' etc. Nothing to suggest otherwise.


Father Ron Smith said...

"The Bible always calls the Resurrected Christ 'he', 'Son' etc. Nothing to suggest otherwise."

- Martin -

And this is the problem with the word for Word dependence on the Bible. In the days of its composition, there was not other understanding of God-in-Christ - except that of God's human persona
which was that of the male.

This is one of the problems, too, with language. How does one explain the exalted persona of the Risen Christ - except in terms that might be understood by human beings?

And, in any case, do remember the fact that the Scriptures were written in the era of a patriarchal society. Later, mystical evocations of God could be feminine. Hence, Mother Julian's "Mother/Father God"

Anonymous said...

As I said to carl, I'm not going to engage Ron in any fruitless "debates". My reply was to Bosco.
Other than as a sometime classicist and teacher of Homer (The Odyssey) and Ovid and Vergil (Metamorphoses, Aeneid), I'm not interested in pre-/post-Christian religions, goddess worship etc, or anthropological speculation about "divinity" that belongs to the ancient pagan Mediterranean. Those who think they know better now than Jesus and what He said about His Father are entitled to their own views. I'm a catholic Christian, I'm quite sure Jesus knows better, and I do know who the Theotokos is (FWIW, I've even been to her supposed house near Seljuk and to the site of Council of Ephesus).
Bosco should know that late medieval scholasticism asked even stranger questions than he has, e.g. could the Second Person have been incarnated as an ass? There is really no limit to where such speculation can lead - and it explains why the reformers had little time for scholasticism, focusing instead on the Bible's message as the touchstone of our thinking about God. I also know that theological liberals (of all stripes) don't consider the Bible sufficient for this task but needing to be supplemented or corrected by other sources.

Father Ron Smith said...

" I do know who the Theotokos is (FWIW, I've even been to her supposed house near Seljuk and to the site of Council of Ephesus).'
- Martin -

SNAP! And did you ask Our Blessed Lady for her prayers? I did.

I must say, I am perpetually impressed by your deep, deep and wonderful, scholastic provenance. I'll bet Our Lady was impressed.

Anonymous said...

"And this is the problem with the word for Word dependence on the Bible."

Not really a problem at all Ron, if we take the approach that the Bible always speaks truly, then our task is to submit to it as God's Word written, the other side of the coin to God's Word incarnate. Problems such as yours only occur when we assume we are wiser than God, wiser than Jesus, and we have to somewhere re-educate God, who is too primitive for us "enlightened" beings.

To call such an attitude arrogant and self-righteous would be an understatement.

"And, in any case, do remember the fact that the Scriptures were written in the era of a patriarchal society."

This makes no difference for two reasons. First, to claim as some feminists do that there is a patriarchal bias in Scripture, and this is a problem, would mean that we must then go down the path of picking and choosing which parts are relevant and true, and which are not. This leads to the problem of having a 'Canon within the Canon', forcing us to apply some other standard higher than Scripture, which means in practice submitting Scripture to the fashions of the day and the spirit of the age, an untenable position that means in reality we lose all of Scripture, not just the parts that do not suit our whims.

The other problem is the assumption that the patriarchal aspect of Scripture is wrong in the first place. Even as a supporter of women's ordination I would dispute this. As far as I can tell God blesses patriarchy in Scripture, and while He modifies and redeems it, He does not reject it. To reject the patriarchal aspect of Scripture means in practice to reject Scripture, and all the twisting and turning of liberal/feminist theologians makes no difference, because in the end, as I said, we lose Scripture in its totality.

On a personal level, I just do not care about the fashions and idols of the modern world, liberalism, humanism, feminism, Marxism, and pan-sexualism. They are not signs of progress, but signs of a civilisation in decline and decay.

Anonymous said...

Shawn, I think you've pretty much got it right, and I do hope and pray that in your own theological studies you have at hand the best restatements of the evangelical doctrine of Scripture (engaging with modern philosphical and cultural challenges) - such as Grudem, Carson, and Tim Ward. The wonders of the internet mean that we can listen to such teachers all around the world.
The generation that grew up on Bultmann has passed or is passing Yhink: Lloyd Geering, Ewing Stevens), but the 80s and 90s passion for postmodernism had a destructive effect on 'cultural evangelicals', as I call them, people who had never imbibed classical philosophy or classical hermeneutics. I found Vanhoozer's book 'Is there a meaning in this text?' helpful years ago; maybe Tim Ward is the most helpful writer today.
What liberals (including 'cultural catholics' and liturgical fundamentalists, who build castles in the air) don't seem to grasp is that their 'insights', which they have privileged as 'true', must necessarily be rejected by the next generation, as new 'insights' emerge. This was brought home to me while attending a conference held in a Quaker meeting house, where I saw Richard Holloway's new book on his atheism on sale. What would George Fox have said about that? New light from the Spirit? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

.... not fogetting John Wenham's fine little introductory book 'Christ and the Bible', which gives the central argument in the evangelical doctrine of Scripture (which was also historically accepted by Catholics before the rise of historical criticism).