Friday, April 8, 2016

Hermeneutics of Hospitality by Prof. Chris Marshall

You can see the Professor Chris Marshall lecture delivered in the Diocese of Christchurch last Friday here. Powerpoint slides to go with the lecture are here.

I have embedded the lecture below:

For something to read as a counterpoint to Chris Marshall's emphasis on conscience and mercy, you may like to read this article from First Things.


Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for this attachment. I look forward to reading it after Mass this morning. Agape, Fr.Ron

Father Ron Smith said...

Having now listened to and viewed this video for its entire length, Peter, I am most impressed by the lucidity anf clarity of Professor Marshall's summarisation of the hospitality, liberality and inclusivity of (even) Paul's view of what Jesus was 'up to' in his personal demonstration of God's unfailing Love and Charity to all (including well-known 'sinners') in the Gospel.

By expressing the opinion that the situation of societies since the Scriptures were written and were codified into the present-day Books of the Bible; together with a gradual understanding of the core issues of faith - once based on adherence the 'The Law' and now released into the experience and knowledge of 'Grace' - Professor Marshall was indicating that God is much more compassionate than his human children.

While emphasising the fact that Christianity grew out of the Hebrew Tradition, as well as being 'grafted' into it by the phenomenon of the Christ event; we are now allowed to perceive that salvation, in Christ, in the sovereign work of God - a mattrer to be thankful for, rather than believing that, in some way, we can 'earn' this free gift from God. We have now, in Christ, been 'set free from 'The Law of Sin and Death' and, in that light, we are bound by love to live into that situation by helping to 'open up the Kingdom to ALL believers.

In this paradigm, our individual consciences are very important. We can never assume to become someone else's conscience. Neither ought we to interfere in the faithfully held conscientious actions of any other person. I'm very much exercised by the saying of Jesus: "They will know you are my discplies by your LOVE" -(not by your judgement even if you think you are right)

Interesting that Chris Marshall places Christian 'Hospitality' above 'Judgement'. He so obviously does not consider, for instance, that Same-Sex relationships are a 'matter of life or death' in the light of Paul's theology - despite the conservative tendency to judge them as more important than other issues the Church now considers to be adiaphoral. The important issue is, do they have the capacity for genuine love - rather than mere human exploitation or rebellion against God? This must have been a very useful exercies for us all.

Rosemary Behan said...

In the magazine Crossway, published by the Church Society in the UK, there is an article by Martin Davie entitled .. "Can we agree to disagree?" The first paragraph reads....

"There has been much talk lately of 'agreeing to disagree' on the issues of human sexuality in the church. In this article, I shall introduce three categories into which we can place matters on which there is disagreement within the church:
* matters which are adiaphora
* matters which are not adiaphora and on which the church cannot simply live with disagreement, and
* matters which are not adiaphora and on which the church can live with disagreement.

Having introduced these categories, I shall conclude by asking which category the iddue of human sexuality fits into.

Bishop Victoria advertised a lecture from Dr. Marshall which would answer these questions. The lecture failed to do so, this article doesn't.

Peter Carrell said...

Surely, Rosemary, there are aspects of human sexuality which fit each such category?

For example, remarriage after divorce seems to be a matter which is not adiaphora but which we seem to be able to disagree on.

Polygamy does not seem to be adiaphora and I don't think we could live with disagreement on it (inside ACANZP, we know that in some countries some accommodation is made re polygamy where people convert to Christianity who are polygamous).

Whether my wedding service includes Eucharist or not is a matter of adiaphora.

Brendan McNeill said...


Having attended the evening, and learned from Chris that amongst other things, conservative Christians are weak in their faith, while progressive Christians are strong, I have reflected that we may have been better served by the services of Anglican theologian NT (Tom) Wright, who had this to say on the subject of SSB:

Wright attracted media attention in December 2005 when he announced to the press, on the day that the first civil partnership ceremonies took place in England, that he would be likely to take disciplinary action against any clergy registering as civil partners or any clergy blessing such partnerships.[39]

He has argued that "Justice never means 'treating everybody the same way', but 'treating people appropriately'".[7]

In August 2009, he issued a statement saying:

...someone, sooner or later, needs to spell out further (wearisome though it will be) the difference between (a) the "human dignity and civil liberty" of those with homosexual and similar instincts and (b) their "rights", as practising let alone ordained Christians, to give physical expression to those instincts. As the Pope has pointed out, the language of "human rights" has now been downgraded in public discourse to the special pleading of every interest-group.[40]

Source Wikipedia:

Wearisome indeed.

Rosemary Behan said...

Surely Peter you are not suggesting that the Bible speaks with forked tongue? I knew relativism was rampant in our society but ……??

You said, “For example, remarriage after divorce seems to be a matter which is not adiaphora but which we seem to be able to disagree on.” I think you had better speak for yourself Peter. I agree that the matter is not adiaphora according to Scripture.

You said, “Polygamy does not seem to be adiaphora and I don't think we could live with disagreement on it (inside ACANZP, we know that in some countries some accommodation is made re polygamy where people convert to Christianity who are polygamous).” So now our understanding of God’s Word is to be driven by???? What, another country? Culture? Our own desires? What?

You said, “Whether my wedding service includes Eucharist or not is a matter of adiaphora.” Sorry, it must be late but I don’t even understand that one.

To sum up, nothing you have said leads me to believe that there are matters of sexuality on which God’s Word is CLEAR .. that are matters of adiaphora.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I have not been very clear!
Let me try a slightly different tack.
Take the issue of polygamy.
I think the Bible is quite clear that Christians are not to be polygamous.
But in some countries in Africa, churches have had to ask the question whether they require a polygamous convert to divorce all wives except for one. I don't think the Bible offers any particular guidance on that question and (at least some) churches have determined that a pastorally appropriate response is to not require divorces (e.g. Because that could lead to economic cruelty).

On remarriage after divorce the Roman Catholic Church on behalf of more than half of all Christians determines that the Bible is very clear: remarriage cannot take place, so either an annulment should be secured or a divorced person should remain celibate (if they wish to receive the Eucharist). [Overnight news from the Pope nuances that position a little!]. Many Protestant Christians are just as clear as the RCC that remarriage after divorce is possible, at least in some circumstances. Who is right? Has the Bible been clear or unclear on the matter? Who decides who is right?

On the qiuestion of blessing of same sex relationships we are in a situation where there are at least two views in ACANZP of what the Bible clearly says. Our question is whether we cannot or cannot live with one another when we have such disagreement.

Rosemary Behan said...

I think what you say muddies clear water Peter. I thank God so much that He has given His Word, and that it is so clear on the issue of human sexuality. And no often how often you tell me there are two views Peter, I see only one, and as I say, it is clear. What did Dr. Chris Marshall say, six references and ALL are negative. To bring in divorce, which is not as plain or clear. Or polygamy, which is a local matter in a specific situation .. well it just looks to those who are looking for guidance from you .. that you are muddying clear water.

Father Ron Smith said...

"...someone, sooner or later, needs to spell out further (wearisome though it will be) the difference between (a) the "human dignity and civil liberty" of those with homosexual and similar instincts and (b) their "rights", as practising let alone ordained Christians, to give physical expression to those instincts". - Brenadan McNeil -

Perhaps those with 'homosexual and similar instincts' (whatever they are) may be considered alongside - and with similar dignity - those with heterosexual and similar instincts (whatever they may be).

Of course, I am presuming that the pohenomenon of human sexuality is common to all humanity.

As for the differences between them; I wonder, Brendan, when you got to 'choose' your own brand of sexuality (presumably heterosexual) ?

And, for Rosemary:

"To sum up, nothing you have said leads me to believe that there are matters of sexuality on which God’s Word is CLEAR". = R. Behan -

Here, Peter, is my proof, that Laity may sometiomes have a greater discernment of what is 'CLEAR' in biblical teaching than we clerics! However, I do think that Rosemary sometimes attributes biblical clarity to the issue of the ability of women to preach the Gospel as ordained clergy - about which many people are still agnostic. However Professor Chris Marshall has already declared that matter to be what he calls a 'non-issue' at least for protestant Christians.

I must say though, that biblical self-contradictions may sometimes give problems to theologians like N.T.Wright, who is sometimes wrong.

Caleb said...

Thanks for the link, Peter. I'm watching it now and enjoying it.

As for N.T. Wright, he is of course an excellent biblical scholar, but he is indeed not always right, unless it's with a capitalized silent W. It seems to me that he doesn't know enough about sexual practices, gender, and ethical stances 'kata phusin'/'para phusin' sex in Paul's context to be a very good resource for interpreting those notorious texts in Rom 1, 1 Cor 6, and 1 Tim 1. In fact he's quite a dangerous source on those passages, because he talks as if he does know enough about the context to make bold claims about the passages.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Caleb

This is the first time I have heard NT Wright’s theology described as ‘dangerous’. Well, perhaps it is dangerous to theological novelty, but it remains consistent with almost 2000 years of Christian Biblical scholarship.

Wright is a man who has committed his life to engaging with Scripture and has published numerous books on the subject. He remains a well respected figure in the Anglican Church.

I’m interested to learn that you believe he ‘doesn’t know enough about the context’ of those passages that condemn homosexual practice. Whereas by inference you do, or at the very least you are echoing the thoughts of others whom you consider to be more authoritative.

One of the challenges we all have to face up to is the prospect that we may be wrong. That is never easy.

Wright’s point was that justice doesn’t demand we treat everyone the same, or equally, but rather we treat everyone appropriately.

By way of example, if your local Church provides a food basket for the poorest families in its congregation at Christmas time, is it unjust that they don’t do the same for more affluent families?

Why is that blatant discrimination not considered unjust? Why is that unequal treatment not condemned?

Or would you condemn it?

Or, assuming for one moment that you and others are correct and those six passages do not condemn practising homosexual relationships, this still does not provide justification for ‘blessing’ these sexual unions as the Bible only expressly blesses sexual intimacy between a man and a women united in marriage.

Therefore, if you open the door to non sanctioned (but loving) sexual unions outside of Scriptural marriage, does this mean that all forms of novel sexual unions may be ‘blessed’?

If not, why not?

For example, would you permit two loving homosexual brothers to have their relationship blessed, or would you consider that to be incest?

Once you begin to depreciate Scripture, you inhabit the realm of fantasy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Your reply to Brendan, which I am choosing not to publish, doesn't help the conversation along.
The key point Brendan is making is about novel sexual unions.
I don't think the example of homosexual brothers etc is particularly helpful (and I agree with your comment to the extent that you take issue with such a hypothetical example being proposed) but we will not have a helpful conversation if we discuss such hypotheses.
Let's pick up on the theological grounds for accepting or not accepting novel epsexual unions.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I am clear that the Scripture of our church does not provide grounds for believing that God wishes the church to bless sexual relationships which are not marriage between a man and a woman. (I hope that is clear and muddies no waters).

I am also clear that I belong by ordination and inclination to a church which includes people who disagree with me, and with you, and only thus do I talk about two sets of clarity in our church.

I hope that stating a reality of life in our church is not in itself a muddying of any waters but a recognition of reality!

Brendan McNeill said...

“Let's pick up on the theological grounds for accepting or not accepting novel epsexual unions.” Peter Carrol

Peter, this is an excellent proposition and raises another important question, namely upon whom falls the primary responsibility to provide the burden of proof? Surely it is not upon those of us who uphold an understanding of sexual intimacy that is endorsed by Scripture and has been Christian doctrine for more than a thousand years.

Logic dictates that the burden of proof must fall upon those who seek to normalize and bless such ‘novel sexual unions’ which to my mind at least, represent a clear departure from Biblical orthodoxy.

I have been following your blog for several months, at times joining into this discussion, and I have yet to see or hear a systematic theological case made for same sex blessings.

What typically happens is that proponents resort to personal narrative, exhortations to love and acceptance, and in once instance, reference to eunuchs. Others seek to reduce it to a question of justice, or to conflate the issue with former Christian attitudes to slavery or divorce.

None of these arguments go anywhere near using Scripture to explain how blessing sexual unions between gay couples can be substantiated theologically.

The reason for this is simple. We all know such a justification doesn’t exist within Scripture.

Absent theological justification, where does that leave the proponents of such novelty? In many churches, after two or more admonitions by the Elders or Bishops to cease all such extra Biblical advocacy, some form of Church discipline would be invoked.

This is clearly the view of NT Wright who has publically stated as much. The fact the Anglican Church in New Zealand has failed to uphold the Biblical understanding of sexual intimacy, and wandered off down the imaginary path of ‘two integrities’ does not bode well for our future.

Still, if proponents reading your blog are willing to work up a theological justification, lets see it.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I enjoyed Chris Marshall's lecture and the way he opened up the piece of scripture regarding what and what not was kosher to eat.

I am not entirely sure the .overlaying of the modern labels of conservative and liberal was entirely accurate but his summinng up of the pitfalls befalling each point of view gave me a laugh - too close to the truth!

As he conceeding he didn't actually attempt to point out what was could be considered an essential (aka first order) issue within out church nowadays, but I welcomed his suggestions of looking at other pieces of scripture regarding disagreements within the church to help form a broader view of what was seen as such in biblical times. I also found it difficult to align the issue of SSB with the one examined.

What hit me the most, unusually perhaps, was the primary importance that both camps in the disagreement he analysed have are given the liberty by the other group to do what they do "according to faith" noting "everything not done by faith is sin." So therefore what both groups were arguing to do they truly believed they were acting as they were because this is what would please God.

It is a timely reminder to both sides of 'our issue' and thosse of us contenting our viewpoints to examine if we are truly acting out of our own wishes or beliefs, our cultures or if acting to please God is our primary concern.


Father Ron Smith said...

"None of these arguments go anywhere near using Scripture to explain how blessing sexual unions between gay couples can be substantiated theologically. The reason for this is simple. We all know such a justification doesn’t exist within Scripture." - Brendan McNeill -

This is what I call a typical conservative 'Sola Scriptura' argument; which is NOT the first and last refuge of ALL Christians. In classic Anglicanism, there is the appeal, also, to Reason and Tradition. I suggest that many people like Brendan are solely looking to Scripture and (past) Tradition, without recourse to the Anglican precept of (Sweet) Reason.

It is this last 'leg' of the three-legged stool of Anglicanism that I and many other Anglicans are able now - with biological, social, psychological and theological insight brought into play by dint of ongoing resources and experience of 20/21st century reverlation - are wont to accept the fact of sexual-diversity in the human condition, something the writers of Scripture were just not privy to.

However, though Jesus seemed never to have spoken directly about same-sex relationships (excepting, perhaps for the statement about eunuchs in Mark 19:12 - a statement you, personally, deem irrelavent)
there is always the all-encompassing statement of Jesus - about every relationship: "They will know you are my disciples by your LOVE" - not by your judgement of the way in which other people find love.

Jesus was reviled because of his opposition to constant Pharisaical judgementalism; insisting that the 'Law of Sin and Death' would be overcome - as Paul himself decreed had happened at the Cross of Christ. For this insistence on Love's primacy, Jesus was crucified.

Brendan McNeill said...

Fr Ron

Thank you for attempting to explain yet one more time how in your view, the blessing of same sex relationships may be sanctioned by the Anglican Church.

I have no problem in principal with your three legged stool analogy. Three complementary streams of insight supporting the whole. It makes perfect sense.

However, the problem arises when one of those legs seeks to deconstruct the other, or establish practices in the Church that are proscribed by another leg. How can such a stool continue to stand?

Your assertion that writers of the New Testament were not privy to the diversity of sexual preferences within the human condition is ahistorical, and plainly incorrect. It is an attempt to distance the teaching of Scripture, (one leg of the stool) from a desire to affirm those in loving homosexual relationships. I understand the reasons why one might be disposed to this approach, but if you are keen to rely upon ‘sweet reason’ then you must accept the historical facts as they present themselves, not how you might wish them to be.

I note that Chris was also keen to frame (erroneously in my view) loving homosexual relationships as something ‘modern’, that is to say post NT authorship in origin, and therefore beyond the scope of Scripture. A little too convenient perhaps?

What is ‘modern’ is our cultures embrace of the sexual revolution which logically culminates in the celebration of individual choice and sexual preference.

For the record, I don’t deem Jesus teaching on eunuch’s irrelevant, I just think it’s a stretch to suggest he was talking about gay men. An assertion that once again you cannot substantiate or corroborate from any other Biblical text.

I agree that loveless Pharisaical judgementalism isn’t pretty. It’s something I’m sure we both seek to avoid. Equally unhelpful however is an attempt to frame Jesus as a 1960’s free love hippy. He came to us ‘full of grace and truth’. Not just grace, but also truth. It’s that balance that I sense is lacking from your characterisation of his ministry, particularly in respect to the subject matter in question.

While he graciously forgave the women caught in adultery, he did admonish her to ‘go and sin no more’.

Brendan McNeill said...


I largely agree with your reflections on Chris’ lecture. However, I suspect that Paul’s willingness to allow either group to act ‘according to their faith’ was primarily because he viewed the debate around food and drink, and special days as being a ‘second order’ issue.

Paul was considerably less sanguine when it came to dealing with sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 5, or ‘theological differences’ in the first chapter of Galatians, primarily I suspect because he considered them to be first order issues.

Chris’s point was that the Jewish Christians of the time considered such observances to be ‘first order’, so therefore it was a first order issue for them. However, this position was gently refuted by the Apostle who used it as a ‘teaching moment’ and as you have noted, stated that it was simply a matter of faith and good conscience for either party to observe (or not) as they saw fit.

Scripture reveals that Paul viewed observance of ‘food drink and days’ as a matter of Christian liberty, whereas sexual immorality and heresy - not so much.

Father Ron Smith said...

Brendan, further to your lovely extension of the handy hypothetical 3-legged stool of Anglicanism; you, too, may have your own problem. 1, If Tradition is solidly resistant to change, e.g. we would still have slavery and male superiority as planks of Christian Faith. 2. Therefore; if Sola Scriptura then becomes your sole defence for your thesis, your one-legged stool may be subject to turn in any direction or maybe fall over.

Brendan McNeill said...

FR Ron

Re slavery, male superiority and conservative Christianity – First of all the Bible deals with what is, not necessarily what God wants or desires. Slavery was a cultural norm at the time of Paul’s letters, and still exists in the world today.

Scripture neither affirms or condemns slavery, primarily I suspect because the Gospel is not a social justice movement, neither is it a political or economic movement. It is primarily about the new creation in Christ.

Consequently, there would have been conservative Christians on both sides of the slavery debate, precisely because it was a cultural phenomenon. Some would have resisted change, others like the evangelical Clapham sect advocated for change.

Conservative Christians (like myself anyway) don’t resist change in the Church, we simply ask if the change is around cultural practices, about which Scripture is either silent, or ambivalent, or if a Scriptural doctrine is about to be overturned. If it’s the latter, as is the case with SSB, then we want to see a theological justification. If you can provide it, then we can be convinced.

The same is true with your ‘mail domination’ narrative. It was / is a cultural construct and is unsupported by Scripture, especially by the teaching and actions of Jesus, and the writers of the NT.

There are times when the Church shapes culture as with the abolition of slavery in the West, and times when the culture shapes the Church. Presently we are living through times where the culture is seeking to shape the Church, hence the push for SSB.

Bryden Black said...

Oh dearie me! How many times must we clearly (sic) point out that in fact the presumed “three legged stool/three-fold cord” is not, repeat NOT, what characterizes an Anglican hermeneutical view. To repeat yet again Rowan Greer:

“My suggestion will be that the idea [of the “Triple Cord”] is less helpful than it appears and that it proves impossible to argue that Hooker’s view really illustrates it or that the Caroline divines after Hooker follow his views”. Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present (Crossroad, 2006), 14.

Now; there are further steps to be sure. There is the firstly the vital distinction between sola Scriptura and nuda Scriptura. What the Magisterial Reformers meant by the former we see clearly (sic) in the Articles: necessary beliefs for salvation are those contained in the Scriptures, which, though obviously needing interpretation as we read them, may not be so expounded in one place as to be repugnant to another exposition (Jean demonstrates this nicely above when covering the likes of Gal 1). Sadly, many see sola being equivalent to nuda - Scripture all by itself: without Church with its public liturgy, without previous readers and so Tradition, etc. And so next, what is the role of Tradition?

By the late Middle Ages a two-fold view had arisen, derived mostly from canon law practices. [For a compressed overview, see AE McGrath, A Scientific Theology, vol.3 Theory, 176-193, “the transmission of revelation”. EL Mascall, Theology and the Gospel of Christ: An Essay in Reorientation (SPCK, 1984), 31-2, re the rise of Tradition as a separate entity. More comprehensively, AE McGrath, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (Blackwell, 2nd ed 2004), ch.4 , “Scripture: Translation, Text and Tradition”, 119-147.] This idea then becomes consolidated in the 16th C with the Council of Trent’s decrees on two streams of revelation (subsequently modified but not entirely rejected by Vatican II). The notion of Tradition itself then becomes more discriminatingly defined by the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC: Montreal 1963, Bangalore 1978.

I have kept the matter of reason until last for a most important reason (sic). It simply has no one meaning nor one single form of practice down the ages. When Greer cites Hooker that is because Hooker’s use of reason is pretty well the same as that of Aquinas - and both are miles away from say that of Kant and the entire Enlightenment legacy, where we see human reason, as exercised then, extolled as the supreme arbiter over all things. And nowadays we see a basic conflict in response to that: much (but not all) of what passes for the postmodern almost denies human reason, yet in the technological realm techne reigns supreme and its manner spills over into all sorts of forms of life. Just so, the role of science’s actual ambiguity in our day, culturally speaking: some laud it and its supposed fruits, others decry them. [To be cont]

Bryden Black said...

To take but one contentious example therefore, the multifactorial aetiology of ‘homosexuality’, pertinent to our present ‘dilemmas’. Is it a “symbolic confusion”, as displayed by Ruth Tiffany Bancroft, who also unmasks a good deal of what passes for ‘science’ along the way? For, even if we discover the complex reasons behind the phenomenon of a person’s “sexual orientation” [the jury remains well and truly still out, BTW], that will in no way thereafter provide a moral evaluation of either those desires per se or their explicit expression (in either orgies or SSM, to contrast) - or explicit suppression (in a celibate vocation, for example). To confuse the phenomenon with any moral evaluation is simply a category mistake - akin to muddling the legs/strands of the stool/cord! Apples are apples, not pears! What passes for a positive moral evaluation often rides piggy back upon a surreptitious form of naturalism. On the other hand, there might be a number of basic reasons (sic) for decrying both the phenomenon and its practice: it’s a tragic expression yet again of the “fallen” condition of our world; it’s contrary to the socially acceptable ethos of the day.

True; as the start of Chris Marshall’s address pointed out, change is pretty well the only constant nowadays. Yet, despite the lengthy lucidity of the address, it only went a very small way down the road of providing a universal set of moral criteria by means of which to evaluate any of these changes. The fact that we might have differing understandings today of a whole heap of social phenomena is absolutely no justification in and of itself towards either agreeing, or disagreeing, with their practice. As Bernard Lonergan years ago carefully and clearly spelt out, experience is one thing, understanding that experience another, and evaluating that understanding of that experience yet again another; and finally, to act upon all of these necessary human features something else again too - either in love, or from fear, two VERY different forms of spirit again!

Disentangling the complexities of human formation and socialization has become for western Christians the most pressing of needs. Why else does Jamie Smith devote an entire trilogy to the task: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Cultural Liturgies Vol.1 (Baker 2009); Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. Cultural Liturgies Vol.2 (Baker 2013); both now summarized in You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos 2016); we await the final volume 3 of the series ...! More succinctly, there’s this poignant article, with which I draw to a close: We are all swimming as Christians in this most awkward dualistic pool. We need (perhaps) at least two further addresses from Marshall (as per Smith’s projected trilogy), by means of which to better assess morally the significant, tsunami-like human changes which are upon us all. Only then may our practice of “mercy” be sufficiently formed by an adequate understanding, evaluation, and love of “justice”. For see lastly

Jean said...

Hi Brendan

Yes I agree, Paul considered the issue of food a non-essential component to following Christ.

I do think though it holds merit to keep in mind what was important to Paul that all the Christians in this picture were acting as they were because they believed their actions were pleasing to God (e.g. it was not out of their own self interest). Rather than license to mean conscience triumphs over truth I rather think it raises questions about motivation for actions today such as:
a) Does feeling or wanting something to be right in God's eyes make it so?
b) Are we placing our desire to please God above our desire to please ourselves?

I think there is also a bit of mis-use of the word love. Love in Christ in unconditional but it is not without discipline in the original more kinder use of the word. God disciplines those he loves, he corrects them and admonishes them for their own good. And for the most part scripture has been used by Christian's and western societies (to a degree) in order to understand what is good for us. If you only say yes to someone and never say no you create a person you cannot live with, what then if you create a cultural where the word 'no' is translated as being intolerant in any moral issue?

Chris Marshall highlighted he didn't think NZ could have an open moral discussion and I think this is why. We no longer feel able to say 'no I disagree' on moral issues for what gives us the right to judge another? However, what if no is not about judgement but love? The plumbline for measuring what is for the benefit of the common good used to be the Christian values espoused in our legal system. Now culture in many areas no longer has a law to stand on so to speak, anything goes.

For example, who would ever have dreamed of the Salvation Army being taken to court because of a national appeal to help women who wish to leave prostitution. "The called what was good evil and what was evil good"...


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Jean

Yes, on that score Chris is correct. As Mark Steyn once opined, attempting to have a conversation about morality with moral relativists is like playing tennis with the net down.

We have embraced the cult of the individual and worshiped at the idol of unrestrained choice. Short of a spiritual awakening, I’m pessimistic about our cultural trajectory. To lose the culture is one thing, but to lose the church is something else again.

Anonymous said...

"So therefore what both groups were arguing to do they truly believed they were acting as they were because this is what would please God."

As usual, Jean, I enjoy your comments. Let us take this one a step further.

It happens that the science of moral psychology is a good deal more secure than the science of That Topic. From it, we know that perception is not severable from belief as ordinary rational(istic) argument supposes, and that although every baby is born with the same rough draft of morality per se, his temperament and environment will develop its component values to different degrees. We are entitled to combine them to reach the depressing inference that *in individuals* with a polarising disagreement it is unusual for them to be able to process the same observations or even to see how those observations might warrant the opposing conclusions.

That is, if Peter demanded that all his excellent yet polarised friends send him just one post that plausibly advocated the position they oppose before posting anything else on That Topic, he might well silence the whole discussion. I speak here from experience. Fulcrum's Stephen Kuhrt did just that, and on that occasion the results were fascinatingly bad. Otherwise intelligent people were proven to be incapable of even plagiarising a plausible argument for the other side. Stephen then lowered the bar by asking the polarised commentators to name the strongest argument of the other side. Most could not even do that. The exceptions proved the rule: those still undecided were the only ones who could actually feel the moral weight of the arguments on both sides.

On reflection, it was not surprising that commentators were most unresponsive to precisely those kinds of argument that they were unable to convincingly make themselves. Those who disdained biblical modes of argument could not even pretend to make a passable fake of one. Those who distrusted arguments from Scripture, Tradition, and Reason tended to think that this meant Scripture, Tradition, and Sentiment. So after Stephen's experiment, I am no longer surprised to see that, for example, those who oppose the solid biblical arguments for conservative views are also neglectful (as the working party for AWF has been) of solid biblical arguments for liberal views such as SSB. They do not have the je ne sais crois that these modes of argument require.

We are not being as reasonable in all of this as we think. And our differences arise less from a collision of truth with error than from our differing incapacities. (Except, of course, for those of us who blessed to feel the weight of the arguments on both sides ;-) This is not to deny that truth and error collide; it is to insist that few are really able to see it happen.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

re Bowman's last contribution on this thread (April 12 @ 6.34pm)

I was most interested that Bowman speaks of Fulcrum's Stephen Kuhrt, whom he quoted as author of a discussion about 'That Topic' on the Fulcrum web-site.

Looking in on Fulcrum's site I was surprised to find their latest thread which discusses ACANZP and its involvement with Motion 30. In the margins, I saw that Bowman had been commenting on this 'Topic'.

Now, why on earth would Fulcrum be discussing ACANZP's business, unless it had been prompted to by someone closer to the action?

Bowman, are you the one providing their enlightenment on ACANZP's treatment of Same-Sex Relationships? Because, frankly, I really don't think that anyione else at Fulcrum would have given us a second glance? Predictably, according to Bowman's own thinking on the issue involved, its consonance with Fulcrum's Article in not surprising.

Here is the Article from Fulcrum - if they haven't taken it down:
(note Bowman's comments in the margin)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
The article is by Andrew Goddard and the comments in the sidebar relate to other Fulcrum columns.

Caleb said...

In response to Brendan's second comment:

Thanks for your response.
I must admit that I was changing the subject somewhat from the original point that you made about Wright. I do not disagree with Wright nor you that "justice doesn’t demand we treat everyone the same, or equally, but rather we treat everyone appropriately." What I disagree with is his belief that one example of just differential treatment is treating different marriages or sexual relationships differently according to the sex/gender ascription of the partners. He believes this differentiation is just because he believes that certain biblical texts rule out any morally legitimate sex except between male-female couples, and that Christians today must echo such proscriptions. That's where information about the contexts of these texts becomes relevant (and where writing in an authoritative tone as a distinguished scholar, giving the impression that you understand the context when you don't, is dangerous and irresponsible). Of course I don't consider myself a better biblical scholar than Wright. Nor do I consider myself an expert on this historical literature. But I have read enough of that literature to know that Wright is not an expert on it either. His misrepresentations of the context colour and limit his interpretation of the relevant passages.

With regard to your other points in that comment: You challenge what you take to be my view, and you mention a realm of fantasy. In response, I challenge you to consider whether your 'paraphrase' of what "[I] and others" believe actually comes from my comment, or whether it comes from a realm of fantasy (or at least a realm of straw-men).

In response to your next comment, about the burden of proof and your dissatisfaction with arguments (on this blog and, I assume, elsewhere) for removing the traditional male-female criterion for ecclesially blessed sex and marriage:

I agree that as a general rule of thumb the burden of proof falls on those who wish to change, rather than retain, church policies and stances. However, I believe when a serious challenge is raised to a traditional stance, at least some of the burden of proof also falls on advocates of that stance to defend and justify it.

You may be interested in two papers I have on my page:

The shorter of the two papers (though with a longer title) can be understood as an argument that the suffering of LGBTIQ people and others (suffering which seems to be linked to dominant hetero-patriarchal gender systems) shifts at least some of the burden of proof onto the traditionalists to defend a traditional stance that is closely tied up with those dominant gender systems.

The longer paper (again, shorter title) is my best-developed attempt so far to make a theological case for removing the male-female criterion for morally endorsed sex and ecclesially blessed marriage. I do this by examining arguments from Scripture, natural law, and theologies of the body (i.e. arguments from the three legs of Hooker's stool, along with experience, which adds up to the Wesleyan quadrilateral), and arguing that, collectively, the revisionist arguments are stronger than the traditionalist ones. It has various flaws and needs more work (especially on the Theologies of the Body section and other parts, such as my discussion of Leviticus). At least I can say that it's better than any arguments I could cobble together in a comment thread here.
(It also addresses various points in your comments, e.g. [1] your dispute with Ron about what the biblical authors knew and thought about the science of gender and sex, and [2] your dispute with Chris in the video in his [correct, according to my research] suggestion that the mutual Christian same-sex marriage is a very recent phenomenon.)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
It sounds like you are treating Scripture as one document among many which influence the life of the church and the minds of Christians.
What does the idea of the "authority of Scripture" mean to you?

My sense is that a combination of Scripture being an authoritative document (and not just one document among many) with tradition being understood as the church's accumulating understanding of Scripture means the burden of proof re change to "traditional understanding" actually falls on the proposers of change and not on the conservers of the status quo.

Father Ron Smith said...

"the burden of proof re change to "traditional understanding" actually falls on the proposers of change and not on the conservers of the status quo." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Well, Peter, there is historic (from the scriptures) precedent where this has actually changed the Church's (OT) understanding (status quo) of the need (intstuction) to stone a woman caught ibn the act of adultery. This, of course, reflected the traditional partiarchal view of the woman's responsibility for the sins of men. Jesus changed that, and other 'biblical' (partriarchal) practises - in common with his intention to bring 'mishpat' into the equation.

Followers of Jesus are surelky meant to follow in his fottsteps - to bring mishpat into situations of injustice and inhumanity.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
It seems to have escaped your notice that we are discussing issues in the Christian era when we have both the Old and New Testaments, as well as tradition, reason and blogs.

For the record: I am not and never have been a Pharisee, Sadducee, scribe or lawyer living in Jerusalem c. 30 AD with only the scriptures of Israel to guide me.


Father Ron Smith said...

I do understand your situation, Peter. However, many of the arguments posited by conservatives in issues of sexuality seem to berlieve in the need to continue the O.T. understandings of the subject, which were still present in some of the N.T. understandings reiterated by Paul - whose teachings are sometimes contradictory - certainly about the treatement of women in the Church.

Caleb said...

Hi Peter

Which of my remarks did you take to be indications or examples of me "treating Scripture as one document among many which influence the life of the church and the minds of Christians"?

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

Your claim of "tradition being understood as the church's accumulating understanding of Scripture" is an example of misdirection. Tradition was there before scriptures, during their composition, being embodied in the scriptures, helping discern which documents are our scriptures, and continuing with the scriptures within it. Your reduction of Tradition to merely the various interpretations of biblical passages decimates it.

Easter Season Blessings!


Bryden Black said...

Well Bosco; I have to say myself - yes and no; sic et non!

Sure; there were multiple traditioning processes at work before the NT Scriptures were written (in the form of Letters, Gospels etc.). We both enjoy (I suspect) those NT scholars [and dare we both acknowledge our brother Peter’s doctoral work in this respect] who engage in sundry exercises trying to surmise traditions behind and within what eventuated as Canonical Writings. Their work helps our ‘reading’ of Scripture, I fancy. And true again; further traditioning processes were involved in the Church’s discernment of what writings would be deemed Canonical and what not (and to a small degree, in some areas, that debate continues among/between certain sections of the Oecumene).

So; as the WCC has carefully acknowledged, Tradition (with a capital T) may be seen as a constituent element of the historical nature of the Church itself. Yet that very Tradition has itself also seen fit to address two basic questions: how to evaluate traditions (small t and pluralized) by means of their agreement or otherwise with those very Canonical Writings; summations of both Tradition and Scripture - which themselves then stand somewhere between Capital T Tradition, as particular expressions/forms of T/tradition, and sundry church traditions down through the years; but still subject to a similar evaluation by Canonical Scripture. [For this last, see perhaps dear Jaroslav Pelikan’s final major work, Credo (Yale, 2003).]

I recall well Hugh Bowron and I travelling to hear Robert Jenson in Dunedin for the Burns Lectures of 2009. They plus additional material made it into his subsequent book Canon and Creed in the Interpretation Series published by WJKP in 2010. I’d also heartedly endorse John Webster’s stunning little book, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (CUP, 2003). For I also have to parallel your own summation, “Your [Peter’s] reduction of Tradition to merely the various interpretations of biblical passages decimates it”, by saying your - seemingly implied - view of Scripture “decimates” its true nature and authority and power.

As I Cor 15 would allow us to confirm, "Jesus is Risen! Hallelujah!" And Barth is probably right: the entire Letter is gearing up towards that chapter as its conclusion of a robust Christian spirituality ala St Paul. Pax tecum!

Caleb said...

Putting aside the question of whether Tradition is ONLY the tradition of interpretation of Scripture, I do think the tradition of "the church's accumulating understanding of Scripture" is highly pertinent to this debate. When we do not call on that tradition as a rhetorical move to add the weight of nigh on 2000 years of history to current status quo ecclesial/theological/ethical stances, but actually attend to it as a real history, I believe it gives us important lessons about the church's developing understanding of gender in its interpretation of Scripture (and its interpretation of creation). For example, and to oversimplify greatly, we've moved from matter-of-fact acceptance of natural gender hierarchy (e.g. Augustine and Aquinas's suggestion that Eve was only Adam's helpmeet in procreation, as in everything else another man would be a better help) to strong affirmation of fundamental equality of all gendered persons. Some disagreement (actually, quite a lot) remains about how much, if any, functional inequality/restrictions-based-on-gender/sex-ascription is (a) compatible with that fundamental equality and (b) endorsed by God's Word. This tradition of interpretation does not in itself either demand or rule out changes to the ACANZP's current stance on gender-based restrictions. It does, however, give us lessons for discerning whether and how and why such change should happen.

Anyway, patiently waiting for your response to the other comment Peter so that I know in which particular way to defend myself (needless to say—or maybe not needless to say—I do not believe I treat Scripture as just "one document among many").

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bosco (and Bryden)
I was travelling yesterday and formulating a response along the lines of "mostly disagree and slightly agree" (cf Bryden's "sic et non"), musing on whether Bosco's comment itself "decimates" Scripture (cf. Bryden who gets that in first) ... so I have not anything substantive to add to Bryden's response.

My question back to you, Bosco, is, What constitutes Scripture's special status that in the liturgy, only Scripture provides the readings and not other parts of the "Tradition" (as articulated by you)?

Finally, I am surprised that you find my version of "tradition" decimates it: I have received that version as handed down by others (!!) in a shift away from subscribing to a Protestant version which accepts-and-immediately-rejects a "Scripture AND Tradition" approach (so some versions of Catholic understanding) towards a more appreciative understanding of Tradition as the church's continuing engagement with Scripture.

Oh, well ...!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
Thank you for your patience. (I have been travelling and operate on the basis that if possible I should publish comments for all readers to engage with even if it takes me ages to get back to comments which I am invited to respond to or choose to respond to. Publishing is easier on a cellphone than responding!).

I made my comment (with "sounds like" implying that I was making a deduction) because an approach to interpreting Scripture which reverses the plain meaning of the text seems like Scripture is one document among many in the world of "Scripture, tradition and reason" rather than an authoritative document which intrinsically places limits on how it may be read.

I have no problem accepting that you do not think Scripture is one document among many but I do have a problem accepting the conclusions you draw. (However we have been down that path before of disagreement!)

In respect of your latest comment above, I think it a long bow to draw that because we now read (e.g. Genesis 1:27-28/Galatians 3:28) as requiring understanding of equality between male and female that we now might move to equating marriage between a man and a woman with marriage between two same gendered people. There is simply not one iota of Scripture to be drawn in favour of that conclusion to say nothing of the persistence of Scripture through both testaments in denying that God blesses sexual relationships between two same gendered people.

There are plenty of texts in Scripture which require us to act with justice and mercy in our treatment of all human beings, so I am not without sympathy for your attempt to argue against the grain of Scripture in order to secure a better life for gay and lesbian people. But it is far from clear to me (and most Christians around the world, including the Pope and those welcoming his most recent statement) that these requirements of acting with justice and mercy also require us to change our understanding of marriage.

Anonymous said...

Your question, Peter, supports my position rather than yours. It is Tradition that indicates that only Scripture provides the readings at Eucharist.

Tradition does not decimate the Scriptures, as suggested here. Quite the opposite: Tradition presents the Scriptures as God’s Word to us, individually and communally. Tradition urges us to constantly return to the Scriptures to be nourished by God’s Word.

It is no surprise to me that those who stand firmly within the Tradition read more of the Scriptures in their communities.

Easter Season Blessings!


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
It is not Tradition alone which indicates that only Scripture provides the readings at Eucharist.

An attempt to introduce permission to read from other documents would be met by more than "It's what Tradition indicates." It would also be met by "The Scriptures are God's Word to us and other documents are not." That is, the Scriptures have a special status within the Tradition, indeed they have a status such that they can be invoked to question and critique the Tradition itself.

Tradition may have carried the development of the writings along to the point where they have become our Holy Scripture, but now Holy Scripture stands as (evaluative) judge over subsequent Tradition.

Cf. "The function of the Christian canon was to separate the apostolic witness from the ongoing tradition of the church, whose truth was continually in need of being tested by the apostolic faith." citing B.S. Childs on my sidebar.

Bryden and my point is not that "Tradition decimates Scripture" but that some invocations of Tradition as greater than, more significant than Scripture decimate the authority of Scripture. However invoking Tradition as driving consistently back to Scripture is not one that decimates Scripture, especially if we read Scripture as God's Word to us, a Word which does not come through any other source than Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Hi Father Ron,

Much as Peter has done from time to time here, Andrew Goddard has been reviewing in Fulcrum each book or report likely to be of interest to Anglicans following That Topic. More for its proposal than for its rationale, A Way Forward is interesting to Anglicans beyond the most beautiful isles.

Andrew's views and mine sometimes converge, but we think about That Topic from different premises, and it is often hard to survey the overlap in the views that result. And of course, Andrew is by now a connoisseur of reports on sexual ethics of every vintage. If Andrew happens to read a report as I do, the report itself may be the best explanation.

My last comments in Fulcrum concerned Jeremy Pemberton's case, and the new STEP software for Bible study.

Bowman Walton

PS-- Has an octopus really escaped into the ocean from a zoo in New Zealand?

BrianR said...

'Tradition!' 'Tradition!'
Not for nothing could I hear the words of 'Fiddler on the Roof' ringing in my ears when 'Tradition!' is invoked - or even reified to suit your own views - for (as the song continues with its reference to 'il Papa' - :) ) 'Tradition!' needs its own norms to be defined - and the continuous 'Tradition!' of the Church Catholic would find Anglican 'Tradition!' a feeble and etiolated affair - and would certainly denounce the terrible *breaks* with 'Tradition!' that Anglicanism has made, such as in ordaining women - an INNOVATION not found in 'Tradition!'. So be careful when you pick up such a sword to wield against others in the cause of post-Christian sexual ethics, for you may cut your hand on the handle and poke the pommel in your own eye. 'How do we keep our balance? I tell you in one word: Tradition!' (Tevye the Milkman not a rich man)

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman,
We have a zoo?

Anonymous said...

Nobody believes in the authority of -ing. If the claim is that the Church is acquiring, developing, discovering, expanding, redefining, rethinking, reenvisioning, etc Y, then we should just shelve it for a century or two and see what we in fact think about Y then. Until the merry-go-round stops, the received teaching remains, if only by default, the stable standard of teaching and practise.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Peter, I should probably have typed *aquarium*. At a breakfast meeting today, someone of uncertain reliability reported that workmen at your alleged aquarium left a gap in the covering for the octopus tank. As octopi are brilliant escape artists, it is said that all that remains of him is a wet trail across the floor to a drain into a pipe that runs to the sea.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Latest news reports say the octopus has just washed up on an offshore island, made a secret deposit in a tax free bank account and disappeared from view ...

Father Ron Smith said...

"The Scriptures are God's Word to us and other documents are not." That is, the Scriptures have a special status within the Tradition, indeed they have a status such that they can be invoked to question and critique the Tradition itself." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

So, Peter, you would maintain that any subsequent 'teaching' of the Church Catholic is NOT 'God's Word' to us (The Church)?

This, when even Jesus said: "When the Spirit of Truth comes (he) will lead you into all the Truth - about me, about sin...etc". This means that, by your definition, there has been no Word from God to the Church since the Scriptures were defined - not even to the historic Councils of The Church". Oh dearie me; what a problem we have. Not to mention the possibility of God still 'speaking to the Church'.

Anonymous said...

Brian, Anglican proponents of change for the sake of *tradition* tend to be referring to *the authority of -ing*. That is, their tradition is not what Joseph Ratzinger would have understood as the received testimony of the whole Church to the soul, but what Karol Wojtyla meant in referring to those who in his day preferred an imaginary Vatican III to the actual Vatican II.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Well then, Peter, my source is as reliable as I had thought.


Peter Carrell said...

A multiplicity of documents and a plethora of sermons may be God's Word to the church, Ron, it they agree with God's Word written in the Scriptures and are received as God's Word by the church at large. Yes, God still speaks to the church, but God is not speaking when contradicting the Scriptures, nor is it yet clear that God is speaking to the church when what is said divides rather than unites the church.

I note and encourage you to note what Bowman is saying about the lack of authority when the church is "-ing" as much of the Anglican Church is doing today as it is discerning God's will but cannot yet say it has discerned God's will.

Caleb said...

Hi Peter

Not interested in reversing the plain meaning of texts but in understanding texts in their contexts and figuring out the best way to act in light of Scripture along with our other less privileged sites of revelation and guides to truth.
Sometimes this means a passage can be basically transplanted into our context as a commandment equally applicable to us now (e.g. Lev. 19:18; Mic. 6:8; Jam. 1:27); sometimes not, for various reasons (e.g. Eph. 6:5-8; 2 Tim. 4:13); sometimes it's disputed whether we should take the words as a direct commandment to us—or even what it would mean to do so (e.g. Matt. 5:39; Matt. 19:3-12; 1 Cor. 11:2-16; Rom. 1:26-7).

Official understandings of gender and of marriage and of the biblical texts referring to same-sex sex have changed before (and sometimes justice concerns have influenced those changes); that is a historical fact. (In fact I believe you put it well a couple of years ago regarding marriage: t's both created and evolving.) I left my last comment deliberately vague—not saying that past change demands change now. It does provide some lessons for how change may be supported or opposed.

BrianR said...

Thank you, Bowman - and the Classics teacher in me has to remark that 'traditio' means (in the words of the educationist Quintilian and the historian Tacitus) 'that which has been instructed or handed over' (usually orally). Even today the great majority of our instruction, especially of the young, is by necessity communicated orally and is rarely if ever written down; all the more so in the ancient world when few could read and writing was expensive.
The Pharisees of our Lord's day believed quite literally that their halakhic practices had been given orally by Moses along with the Torah, so there was an unbroken line stretching back to Sinai; while Catholic 'traditionalists' (!) certainly believed once that all their practices went back to the Apostolic Church (ad fontes). Newman tried to head off the Protestant challenge to that piece of historical fiction by reinterpreting the meaning of revelation in a more historical evolutionary manner. For it was clear to the best historians of the 19th century that the great edifice of Marian dogma wasn't part of the first century church, nor the penitential system and related beliefs.
As far as modern Anglicanism's relation to the Patristic Church is concerned, it is obvious (as Bosco must know) that it broke decisively with the undivided tradition of the Church Catholic in ordaining women to the presbyterate. It is much more aligned with the 17th century Independency which Restoration Anglicanism (from 1660 onwards) tried to crush.

Father Ron Smith said...

So, Peter; you are seriously contending that Scripture is, in every respect self affirming? What about the differences between the Creation myths in Genesis - and that's only the beginning. And then there are Paul's different ideas on the status of women. Do you not see these as at least 'developments' denying former statements in Scripture?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
There are developments within Scripture and there are differing points of view to engage with. That does not change or alter the church receiving Scripture as God's Word written, though it highlights the demanding nature of the church's work in understanding Scripture and applying it diligently and obediently.

That is why tradition/Tradition as the handing down of the results of biblical interpretation from one generation to another is important alongside Scripture, as well as why the use of reason in assessing the meaning of Scripture in the light of tradition/Tradition is also important: God has given us minds and has ordered life in such a way that discernment of God's will is possible rather than impossible. (That's intended to be a bit Hookerian!)

But once we diminish Scripture's role in that triad, submitting it to tradition/Tradition and/or to reason, then we diminish its authority as God's Word written for us.

Anonymous said...

The Bible and its interpretations alone: God clearly speaking to unite rather than divide the church. Yeah right.

Peter Carrell said...

I am not sure what particular point you are making, Bosco.

There is much that unites Christians and much that divides Christians.

I would argue that Scripture is overall more uniting than dividing:
- all Christians read Scripture (but not all Christians read other documents in the life of the faith);
- Scripture informs and forms us in the direction of our discipleship as no other document does;
- most of Scripture and its interpretation is agreed by Christians (cf binding ourselves to the creeds as summative statements of what is revealed in Scripture);
- a few matters divide us, some relatively benignly (e.g. Anglicans communing together with differing understandings of communion), others very sharply and painfully (e.g. the Roman Catholic church excluding other Christians from communion on the basis of a lack of commitment to their understanding of communion).
Is there another, greater unitive force in ecumenical relationships which you are thinking of?

Caleb said...

Peter, you seem to be saying two things re: tradition. One, that Scripture has a preeminent and authoritative place amidst the rest of tradition. No disagreement here.

Two, that tradition is nothing but "the handing down of the results of biblical interpretation from one generation to another." Here I do disagree. And you yourself have contradicted this statement at certain points, e.g. by noting that your view of tradition itself has been handed down by others, and your acknowledgement that it was tradition that gave us the Scriptural writings and the canon.

Father Ron Smith said...

My question in all of this supposition - about the pre-eminence of Scripture is: Has the power of the Holy Spirit to LEAD us into all Truth been foreclosed by the Canon of Scripture? Or does the humasn race still have something more to learn?

Also, what place has God's Word-made-flesh in the Eucharist have in feeding God's people with up-to-date grace, healing and enlightenment? Yes, of course, the Scripture has its place - but not, post-Pentecost, in any way pre-eminent over the Presence of Christ in the Body of Christ assembled atound this gift of the Word-made-flesh.

When the word became flesh, God's grace was no longer confined to rthe pages of the Books. The Books are 'enlightenment' but certainly not God's Final Word to us. This is why 'sola Scriptura' is not enough to feed God's people with the fullness of life in Christ.

Bryden Black said...

Just one small rejoinder Caleb. Together with the WCC Faith and Order crowd, it is helpful to distinguish between Tradition and tradition(s).

Bryden Black said...

Ron says: “Has the power of the Holy Spirit to LEAD us into all Truth been foreclosed by the Canon of Scripture? Or does the humasn race still have something more to learn?”

I sense Ron you make us land up on the unnecessary horns a false dilemma. Naturally, the human race “learns” much over time - even if one might disagree with the traditional philosophy of a Whig view of history. But this is not exactly what the FG is seeking to achieve at all ...

The Fourth Gospel has at its core the revelation of the Word made flesh, and thereafter with testimony to the same, notably in all its assembly of various witnesses throughout, which when combined both save and judge the world/the prince of this world (Jn 3:16-21, 16:7-11). And this trial motif runs throughout the entire Gospel, even from the Prologue (vv.10-13).

John 15:26-7 then allows for the creation precisely of 1 John, since the writer puts himself among that definitive set of witnesses who were “with Jesus” “from the beginning”. And please note that word “definitive”. For the writer of 1 John clearly sees two things at once: his own specific and vital witness - “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at (literally - “theorised”) and touched with our hands”; and then secondly, the Spirit’s direct witness upon the recipients of his letter, 2:20,26-7. Both of which establish koinonia: with the writer and so the Father and the Son; and with the Spirit; and both of which were mentioned in Jn 15:26-7.

NB there is simply no competition here; each and both witness(es) are wrapped up together. We might conjecture that this sort of witness is but a reflection of the Triune God’s own co-inherence, the perichoretic nature of the Trinity.

So; when John 16:12-15 speaks of the truth the Spirit brings, and notably those “things that are to come”, this is but a reflection also of the similar co-inherence we see from say John 5:19-20. Indeed; the “greater works” of both 5:20 and 14:12 are often combined in exegetes’ minds. For the Holy Spirit is precisely the One who comes as a result of Jesus being glorified, Jn 3:9-15, 7:37-39. And the “greater works” encompass primarily the ongoing work of the world-wide Church post Easter - just so Jn 20:21-23, and the final miracle/sign, ch.21. But that very Church missionary work will also face fierce competition (Jn 15:18-25), and even division - just so again 1 John.

To conclude: to “abide” is indeed the Johannine goal, right from Jn 1:38. And yes; both Scripture and the sacrament - especially together, as Good Anglicans! - enable that “abiding”, Jn 5:39-40, 6:56, 8:28-32. Just so, to abide in his teaching also enables us to be led into all the truth the glorified Jesus will bring through his Spirit. Or rather, to use the sorts of wording you might prefer: only as we remain in the testimony of Scripture will we be able to test (a word 1 John is most fond of, necessarily!) what is in fact of the truth and what not of the truth from among the novel claimants before us all. This is the agenda of the entire Johannine corpus of writings. 2 Jn 9 is a salutary conclusion, literally!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
I accept that what I have said about tradition/Tradition to date may have been contradictory, but they have been largely remarks in passing, so let me try to be more careful!
The Scripture we read today as Christians is the result of a confluence of factors, including direct revelation from God, handing down of received traditions re stories, proverbs, poems, songs, and histories (e.g. the institution of the Lord's Supper), in other words occurs in a stream of Jewish and then Christian tradition of receiving and handing on God's Word. But once formed and accepted by the church, Scripture is itself the source of a new tradition (albeit coherent with the tradition embedded in Scripture), a tradition of the church interpreting Scripture as it has cause to read Scripture in changing times and in response to challenging issues (this interpretation, by the way, is not only found in exegetical books, theological monographs, but also in songs, hymns, meditations, liturgies, creeds, confessions of faith, canons and conciliar statements etc, some of which themselves carry some traditional materials such as ancient hymns of the church which were not incorporated into Scripture). This Christian "tradition"(which for some churches has been deemed "Tradition" to mark it as equal in authority to Scripture itself) is itself subject to Scripture since only Scripture has been canonized, and thus the tradition is continually subject to revision as the church seeks renewed clarity in its understanding of Scripture. To the extent that Protestants value "tradition" and then look over at (say) Roman Tradition, a big question is whether all in that Tradition is itself conformable to Scripture. Much of that Tradition = tradition but some does not, hence Protestants continuing to walk separately from Rome on mattes such as the assumption of Mary and her immaculate conception, neither of which are attested to in Scripture.

I hope this account is not contradictory!

An image I have in my mind is this, thinking of lakes such as Tekapo and Pukaki: a river flows forward from the mountains (most ancient tradition) but enters a deep valley and forms a deep, wide and magnificent lake (Scripture) with an outlet from which a small amount of water moves on from the lake (tradition) towards the sea. The river is not the lake!

Peter Carrell said...

(With apologies to Bosco, the following comment from him got accidentally deleted by me, Peter)

Dear Peter

My Tui Ad was in response to your claim that “God is not speaking … to the church when what is said divides rather than unites the church.”

Patently, Bible-only churches and Bible-only Christians are forever dividing into an ever-increasing number of sects. So if unity, for you, is what determines whether God is speaking or not, then the inevitable consequence is that God is not speaking through the Bible – a conclusion that I cannot entertain.

It is little wonder that you have so little regard for Tradition when for you it appears to be little more than gossip or Chinese whispers. I see not a single person here arguing for your straw man: Tradition “as equal in authority to Scripture itself.”

Where do you get your definition of Tradition as merely the various interpretations of biblical passages? It is not an understanding of Tradition found in Scripture, which, then, following your own logic, means your definition hasn’t a leg to stand on! What is the first occurrence that you know of of your particular definition of Tradition? It has the feel of a very recent piece of gossip/Chinese whispers indeed.

Your image of all traditions (the river) entering a single lake (the Bible) might be nice if you were God – but that is not how things actually happened (Revelation as we wished it had happened!) In actual fact, in different places, people wrote documents within the Tradition, and these documents continued to be read within the Tradition. Within the Tradition, documents were collected. Those documents were combined into what we call the Bible.

Far from your theory that the “creeds are summative statements of what is revealed in Scripture”, in the midst of a number of conflicting interpretations of the scriptures (your version of tradition), the Church gave us the creeds as definitive lenses through which we read the Scriptures.

Without the Creeds and WITH the Bible alone we are just as likely to be Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, or Christian Scientists.

Easter Season Blessings


BrianR said...

"Where do you get your definition of Tradition as merely the various interpretations of biblical passages? It is not an understanding of Tradition found in Scripture, which, then, following your own logic, means your definition hasn’t a leg to stand on!"

I will not presume to speak for Peter, but I will venture to say this is *exactly* what the early, post-apostolic Church (including 'the Apostolic Fathers') thought they were doing! Read 1 Clement (c. 90?) for a taste of how he argued, see how Irenaeus answered the Valentinians in the middle of the second century (where the issue was, who is interpreting Scripture accurately, the Gnostics or the Catholics?), see how Athanasius answered the Arians and other critics in De Verbi Incarnatione - I've just read it again for the third time and it's a sustained piece of biblical exegesis along with appeals to the 'common sense' philosophy of his day. (It's also quite accessible koine); see what the Cappadocians did in defence of the deity of the Holy Spirit (agsin, extended exegesis). And why was 'homoousion' a rock of offence to some (as was 'Trinitas')? Because the word was not found in the Bible! And of course, the Catholic reply was to grant that the word was not there but the ideas were.
No, the historical evidence indicates that from very early on, 'tradition' *did* mean the 'correct interpretation of the New Testament'. The concept of 'the Word of God' as a broad stream of revelation that contained the Bible but was wider than that may have been endorsed in Vatican II (in homage to Newman), but I can't find it in the early church.

Bryden Black said...

I am aware Bosco that Peter is well able to write for and defend himself. But it does strike me that rather a lot is depending upon the mere use of the word “merely” here, in your latest riposte. And I join the fray on account of Marshall’s desire for a wholesome hermeneutic.

I’d have to say a substantial element of what passes for Tradition comprises just what Peter is suggesting - and for reasons that you yourself put forward: the Scriptures are owned by the entire Church. So it’s not surprising that we find this definition (true; among some others) in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church:

“In a more modern sense, tradition means the continuous stream of explanation and elucidation of the primitive faith, illustrating the way in which Christianity has been presented and understood in past ages. That is to say, it is the accumulated wisdom of the past.”

Or again, in passing, AE McGrath simply writes: “Christian theology was thus essentially to be conceived as exegesis of Scripture within the context of the living faith of the Church, which transmitted this to subsequent generations” - with a footnote to Gerhard Ebeling’s Kirchengeschichte [church tradition/significant history] als Geschichte der Auslegung [interpretation/exegesis] der Heiligen Schrift [holy writ]. True again; this is a sentence within a subsection on the “transmission of revelation” in an entire chapter on “The Place of Explanation in a Scientific Theology” - so things are indeed a bit more complex than “merely” this ... but they are at least “essentially” this.

So true again; I’d still stand by what I also wrote earlier (April 13, 2016 at 8:23 pm). Tradition is not only this and that; it is a veritable braided river sweeping through the Canterbury plains - from a God’s eye view. Traversing the river in a jet Hamilton powered boat, however, we might indeed be only skimming along merely one tributary, trying to claim it alone worthy of the Waimak name (and so a bit one-eyed ...!). And if we were now in the Murray-Darling Basin, we’d certainly finish up in a billabong or two if we were not too careful ... And Church History knows of them only too well - nicht wahr!

BrianR said...

Ah,yes, the mighty Waimak - and some claims to being 'tradition' are just as shallow and, dare I say it, Provincial.

Father Ron Smith said...

Doing well, Bosco and Caleb. Keep it up. I must confess I have been feeling a wee bit lonely against these conservative didacts. Trouble is, they seem so hide-bound, I'm not sure we're getting through. They just seem unable to take in the reality that the best of us - is not privy to the fullness of the Mystery that is the mind of Christ.

Caleb said...

Pt. 1 of 2

Thanks for your rejoinder, Bryden. I was taught about the difference(s?) between big and small T and singular/plural, but the significance didn't really impress itself upon me too strongly at the time and I seem to have forgotten it now... I even looked at my notes on the chapter we read entitled "Tradition and Traditions" by Yves Congar and found that all my notes were about tradition in general (which Congar does not capitalize) ... I didn't note down any of what he says about traditions plural.
I also had another look at Dei Verbum from Vatican II and saw that they too put tradition in the lowercase (and usually singular). For the magisterium (in this document at least) it's "sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture," with a clear capitalization difference even though both are sacred and both are "to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence," together forming "one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church."
Anyway, ending these boring autobiographical remarks... I would appreciate it if you could remind me of the significance according to the WCC and/or you?

Peter, thanks for the clarification. I take your last comment as indicating that tradition is in fact not only the tradition of interpretation of Scripture, but that's a vital and supremely normative part of it. (i also read Bryden, though not Brian, as saying this.) If this is what you are indeed saying, I agree.

As for Catholic views on this, the Vatican II view, as mentioned above, is that "sacred tradition [a "living tradition"] and Sacred Scripture" "form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the church," the entire church, which together holds fast to this tradition in its worship, teaching, practice and proclamation (Dei Verbum). Note my comments above re: capitalization... in this document they don't seem to express tradition's importance with a capital T but with statements like these and the word "sacred."
Anyway, this Vatican II teaching is a "clarification" (or perhaps a change) of what was taught before, where it was possible to get the impression that Scripture and tradition are independent sources. Here, though, "there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end."

Yves Congar (possibly the most important theologian at Vatican II) helpfully distinguishes between definitions of tradition, noting that in its general sense, i.e. that which is handed down, it of course includes Scripture. However, it's also helpful for clarity to define tradition in a stricter sense, as basically everything handed down except Scripture; everything transmitted in different ways than through these canonized writings from the apostolic era. This includes but is not limited to the history of interpreting Scripture... for example, it includes practice as well as thought. (Congar also notes, against extreme versions of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture itself affirms other methods of handing down the church's practice and knowledge.)

Caleb said...

Pt. 2 of 2

I think this understanding of Scripture and tradition is broadly consistent with your river and lake analogy, especially when placed alongside Congar's other statement (which I quote at the bottom of this comment) about Scripture as "norma normans, non normata." I can only think of two differences: Firstly, as Bosco says, not all of the original river went into the lake; the lake was a gathering of some particularly important parts of the river, but other important parts of the river were not gathered into the lake (e.g. everything that's not documents). This leads to the other (possible) difference - how big we depict the post-lake stream as being (surely something that contains the creeds, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Aquinas, Barth, MLK Jr., Dorothy Day, and countless forgotten lovers of God and humankind is more than a mere trickle). Anyway, I think I'm happy to affirm this Vatican II understanding of Scripture and tradition, which seems a clearer and stronger articulation than your various comments here (not surprisingly, as it was a product of many bishops reflecting for years, not just spontaneous blog comments!).

Where I would disagree with the Vatican II view is: I'd emphasize the diversity as well as the oneness of this "deposit." And I'd be more frank than the Catholic magisterium tends to be (unlike many its theologians) that not everything "handed on" is God's revelation; it also includes distortion and sin, and mistakes (e.g. most of the Marian dogmas, and the concept of ecclesial/magisterial/papal infallibility).

I may also partly disagree in how they understand the church's interpretation of that "one deposit." To quote Dei Verbum again:

"But the task of authentically [i.e. authoritatively] interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."
I acknowledge a role for the magisterium, but I have some issues about the structure and membership of the (all-celibate-male) Catholic magisterium, and about its particular role vis-a-vis the faithful and theologians (more in practice than in theory). I also take serious issue with the concept of infallibility, even in the Vatican II expression where it's clearly entrusted to the whole church, with the magisterium and pope again having an authoritative role in that (Lumen Gentium).

Anyway, I do note that Congar is careful to say elsewhere that "If there is some regulating authority in the Church, that authority is itself subject to regulation" and that both "theologians ... and hierarchic authority ... are governed, regulated and given life by the traditum [what is handed on] in which the canonical Scriptures are the norma normans, non normata [norm of norms which cannot be normed]." Which doesn't end up too dissimilar to your recent statements, or my view, on tradition and Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bryden, for the helpful clarification.

“A substantial element” of Tradition is clearly the collection of interpretation of Biblical texts throughout the history of the Church. It is Peter’s reduction of Tradition to that collection that is being discussed here. As I indicated, it does not surprise me that this reduction is a modern innovation.

As to Brian Kelly, and your inability to find, in the early church, Tradition beyond what is written in the Scriptures, let me help you. Starting with Irenaeus, whom you mention, read Against Heresies 1:10:2; 3:1-3; 3:2:2; 3:4:1

Then try Athanasius Festal Letters 2:7, 29.

It is very clear in Augustine. Read On Baptism, Against the Donatists 5; let me quote it so people don’t need to look it up:
“there are many things which are observed by the whole Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not mentioned in their writings"

And yet again in Augustine’s Letter to Januarius:

"But in regard to those observances which we carefully attend and which the whole world keeps, and which derive not from Scripture but from Tradition, we are given to understand that they are recommended and ordained to be kept, either by the apostles themselves or by plenary councils, the authority of which is quite vital in the Church"

Check again Tertullian Purity 9:1
And again Tertullian'z On Prescription Against the Heretics 36 - again, let me quote:
“For this reason we should not appeal merely to the Scriptures nor fight our battle on ground where victory is either impossible or uncertain or improbable. For a resort to the Scriptures would but result in placing both parties on an equal footing, whereas the natural order of procedure requires one question to be asked first, which is the only one now that should be discussed. 'Who are the guardians of the real faith? To whom do the Scriptures belong? By whom and through whom and when and to whom was the committed the doctrine that makes us Christians? For wherever the truth of Christian doctrine and faith clearly abide, there will be also the true Scriptures and the true interpretations and all the true Christian traditions."

Might I add Origen to this quick list? The Fundamental Doctrines 1:2

If not, let’s go back in the other direction and see what the Bible itself thinks about Tradition:
2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; Phil 4:9; 1 Cor 11:2; 1 Peter 1:25

Easter Season Blessings


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
There is a lot to unpack in your comment above and I pray in advance for forgiveness for being concise. I also thank the Lord for other commenters here rescuing me from drowning in the lake or one of the turbulent streams of the river braids entering and flowing from the lake :)

My definition of tradition comes from somewhere which I cannot remember but actually reflects my own being-humbled correction of previous misconceptions of tradition as somehow disconnected from Scripture: I have learned from non-Protestants that this is not so. Surely you are not asking me to go back to mere Protestantism? :)

Where is tradition equated with Scripture here? Pretty much every time commenters (ok, Ron, mainly you!!) cite the three legged stool with an emphasis on the equal lengths of the three legs.

Your comment feels like you have fastened on me as a "Scripture only" guy and then critique my understanding of tradition for being one which "Scripture only" does not support. Indeed, if that were so! Actually, I am trying to argue for "supreme Scripture", not for Scripture alone; and in doing so, trying to be a good (Hookerian) Anglican, with the nuance that I do not ascribe to Hooker the "three legged stool with equal legs" version of the relationship between Scripture, tradition and reason.

I am genuinely puzzled by how you understand "tradition." On the one hand it seems to be immutable when you observe that we read Scripture and no other documents in worship because that is the tradition. On the other hand it seems mutable when you offer signs of openness to changing the tradition that marriage is only between a man and a woman. What is your understanding of tradition and how do we discern when it is unchanging and when it might be changed?

I stand by my illustration with the rivers and the lake, but you have rightly critiqued it as needing improvement. Think of the lake as Scripture once finalized by the church, and the braided river flowing into it (sometimes through smaller lakes en route) as the whole process which leads up to the finalizing of Scripture.

Finally, yes, "Scripture alone" without the creeds runs into the danger of being at the mercy of passing JW door knockers, etc - it is Saturday morning as I write! - but that was never what the reformers meant, because they understood the creeds and the importance of confessions of faith - "Scripture alone" is about what we need to know in order to be saved, not what we need to know in order to be orthodox. But I demur from your description in this regard: there is a virtuous circle between Scripture and the creeds. The creeds are summative of Scripture; Scripture is rightly interpreted with the aid of the creeds.

So, off to FCA today, spurred by this correspondence to put the emphasis on "Confessing" :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco (and other commenters)
My comment immediately above refers to the earlier comment of Bosco's and not the one immediately above mine.

To that comment I would simply observe that those remarks appear to be about safeguarding how we read Scripture in continuity with the apostles, both warding off, as the time and season may be, Gnosticism, Arianism, etc.

Yes, they constitute a rejoinder to my estimation of tradition as the accumulated interpretation of Scripture through the history of the church, but do they demolish it? Scripture in an Anglican/Protestant view remains judge and jury of the tradition, including the extra apostolic bits which did not make it into Scripture. Thus we continue to rule out certain Marian dogma. Without Scripture shouldn't they be ruled in (since some kind of [extra] apostolic source can be claimed for them) but if we accept that, are we not then in a Catholic rather than Anglican/Protestant theological paradigm?

Father Ron Smith said...

"Scripture alone" is about what we need to know in order to be saved, not what we need to know in order to be orthodox." - Dr. Peter Carrell

And here was I thinking that 'IN CHRST ALONE' is found salvation!
Sola Scriptura as the foundation of Salvation is surely heterodox!

Enjoy your day, Peter, with the 'Fellowship of Confusing Anglicans'.

BrianR said...

Well, Bosco, I have checked the references you cited (which are readily found on Catholic apologetic websites) and I don’t see them at all establishing the point you are trying to make (if I am clear what that is) – rather the reverse. But since you gave this list of references, I can venture a quick reply.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies: 1:10:2 – note that this refers to the preaching and faith received as a deposit from the Apostles.
3:4:1 ‘What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the church?’ In other words, he is referring to a deposit or an oral summary of faith directly spoken by the apostles, which isn’t substantially different from the New Testament in his view.
Origen, Fundamental Doctrines 1:2, is about fidelity in teaching from the apostles: "Although there are many who believe that they themselves hold to the teachings of Christ, there are yet some among them who think differently from their predecessors. The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles and remains in the churches even to the present time.’ There is no appeal to an extra-biblical source here.
Athanasius, Festal Letter 2:7, ‘keeping to the apostolic tradition’ says nothing that couldn’t be derived from the New Testament. 2:29 means ‘the continuity of the faith’.
So what we find in the second and third centuries is a concern with defending right doctrine (mainly on questions of Christology), chiefly against Gnostic, Marcionite and other rivals, and the burden of these apologists is to assert that their interpretation and not the Gnostics’ is the true one.
The idea that there are other doctrines (as opposed to liturgical practices) that derive from the apostles but which are not written down isn’t one I’ve been able to trace before c. 375. Perhaps this was a reflection of the late-developing Marian dogmas. But even Augustine, with a better historical sense than others, hedges his bets when he writes to Januarius about practices (not doctrines) that these ‘may be supposed’ or ‘we are given to understand’. In any case, ‘tradition’ always meant a body of doctrine or practice that was communicated in unbroken succession from the Apostles. It never meant ‘an ongoing journey into new truth disclosed to the pilgrim church by the Spirit’ or however the word is being abused today by revisionists.

BrianR said...

And further, Bosco, if you read my earlier post carefully, you would see that I said 'the early, post-apostolic church (including the 'Apostolic Fathers'); I was referring primarily to 1 Clement (c. 90. (Tertullian is an interesting fellow, too, but mind how you quote him! Same goes for Origen.)
"Tradition" NEVER meant that reified and personified entity you proposed above ("Tradition was there before scriptures, during their composition, being embodied in the scriptures, helping discern which documents are our scriptures, and continuing with the scriptures within it"). That sounds more like Hegel's Weltgeist to me than anything in church history.
No, 'tradition' as the Church Fathers from the third and fourth century onwards used the word meant something quite different: it meant an oral body of doctrine and practice, supplementary to the New Testament, that came directly from the Apostles and was communicated orally through successive bishops (John to Papias etc), and in its developed form this theory came to mean in those churches supposedly founded by Apostles (Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome and, um, Constantinople). In other words, it was pretty much the exact parallel of the idea that the supplementary Oral Law came directly from Moses along with the written Torah.

Anonymous said...

Bowman, above, makes one of the most fascinating points I have read in a long time - Stephen Kuhrt’s experiment. It is happening before our eyes on this very thread.

Best example: Brian Kelly arguing against my point by saying that Tradition “isn’t substantially different from the New Testament”! OF COURSE Tradition “isn’t substantially different from the New Testament”! I would be seriously concerned if it were!

“tradition as somehow disconnected from Scripture” – what a bizarre idea. I have never come across this. I repeat: In different places, people wrote documents within the Tradition, and these documents continued to be read within the Tradition. Within the Tradition, documents were collected. Those documents were combined into what we call the Bible.

“the three legged stool with an emphasis on the equal lengths of the three legs” – surely the point of the three-legged-stool metaphor is that the legs DON’T need to be of equal lengths, and it will stand securely whatever the terrain.

“I am genuinely puzzled by how you understand "tradition." On the one hand it seems to be immutable when you observe that we read Scripture and no other documents in worship because that is the tradition. On the other hand it seems mutable when you offer signs of openness to changing the tradition that marriage is only between a man and a woman. What is your understanding of tradition and how do we discern when it is unchanging and when it might be changed?” - Rather an ironic question in a post about ‘first order’ and ‘second order’ isn’t it? I thought how we make that distinction (and sometimes the difficulties agreeing whether it was immutable-first-order or mutable-second-order) was the core of this post? For a start, Anglicans tend to see the Lambeth Quadrilateral as part of what you refer to as immutable tradition. Our own church, of course, has the Fundamental Provisions as immutable.

“The creeds are summative of Scripture” – tell that to Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, or Christian Scientists.

How was FOCA?


Peter Carrell said...

The following comment, edited to omit unnecessary presumptions about the course of Bosco Peters' arguments, is from Brian Kelly. (Brian, please remember that presumptions can turn a fine content of a comment into an ad hominem).

"Bosco Peters again fails to understand the point I made, that his conception of 'Tradition' as some personified reified Hegelian 'Geist der Kirche' has nothing at all to do with how the word or concept was used in the first centuries.

I repeat (for the last time here): 'tradition' meant the practice and teaching of the churches supposedly founded by the apostles ('patriarchates') which was claimed to come directly from the apostles themselves. In other words, it was a *deposit of teaching - including how to understand the New Testament. This is the germ of the regula fidei idea which will in time produce the creeds. Only in the later fourth century (as far as I can see) did the idea come to include the notion that there were other teachings of the apostles (Marian? purgatory?) not expressly found in the NT.

[Omitted but Brian is raising a similar question to one I asked above re consistent invocation of the tradition as both mutable and immutable]. The idea of SSM has no place whatsoever in the teaching of Jesus Christ and his Apostles, and [omitted] talk about 'same-sex blessings' is only a stalking horse: the world does not stand still. Homosexual desire, as Vaughan Roberts has said, is a manifestation of our "brokenness", and Christ's purpose is to draw us into wholeness. Across the western world we have seen old-line (and generally declining) Protestant churches devastated by efforts to push this innovation (at huge cost to people like David Short). If these denominations have any chance of continuing into the 21st century, it can only be by reaffirming the tradition of the Apostles - written for all to read in the New Testament.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
You make a number of points above which I cannot accept as responding to the points I actually made or raised!
- When Rome talks about tradition as a stream flowing alongside Scripture it is difficult for Protestants with tiny brains not to think that tradition is disconnected from Scripture (not least when that same tradition yields dubious Marian dogma re assumption and conception, and scenes such as Jesus falling before Veronica, none of which have anything to do with Scripture); so it is actually an advance for a Protestant to accept that a significant part of tradition might be connected to Scripture;
- the three-legged stool is often invoked in such a way that each of Scripture, tradition and reason are equated as equally authoritative; that you see that a three legged stool can have unequal lengths and still stay upright on varying terrain does not in anyway change the fact that it has become something of a mantra in many Anglicans' minds that the three are equal and, in particular, that Scripture is not greater than tradition or reason;
- I find your response to my question about the mutability and immutability of tradition to not actually be an answer. I have no idea whether tradition telling us that we read Scripture in worship and not other documents is a first order or second order approach to tradition; I would have thought that marriage being between a man and a woman was a first-order immutable tradition (partly because it stems from so far back in the tradition (Adam and Eve!), partly because the tradition keeps reinforcing it, but it may not be. How, "within the tradition" do we know?
- if the creeds do not sum up the Scriptures, what do they do?

BrianR said...

The (relatively) new definition of 'tradition' which I see being advocated here looks very much like the proposal of Vatican II's 'Sacred Constitution' that 'the Word of God' is a wide concept that *contains* the Bible but is necessarily wider than the Bible, just as a river can have a particular current flowing within it (if my potamology is correct) and it continues to 'unfold' as it flows. This looks rather like what Newman proposed in his Essay on the Development of Doctrine.
As I have been at pains to show, historically this is *not* what 'tradition' meant, which is an extra-biblical deposit of teaching and practice ascribed to the first-century Apostles.
As we have seen above, 'tradition' in Protestant circles has denoted the legacy of Biblical interpretation and theological construction from the past. From the beginning Protestants have been respectful of this legacy but never uncritically. The most obvious case in point is the Reformers' rejection of both Origenistic and medieval exegesis using the four-fold method of interpretation. Luther called Origen's method as 'worth less than dirt', but was still very much a medievalist in his methods. John Calvin was, it seems, the first interpreter in over a thousand years to discern that the Parable about the Good Samaritan was *not* an allegory of salvation by Christ (as everyone from Athanasius to his day imagined).
Calvin showed that for Protestants, 'tradition' is a humanistic practice of reading the Bible contextually, not a mystical outlook about the processes of revelation.

Anonymous said...

I appear to be using the idea of “Tradition” differently to the way Brian Kelly understands it is used in the earliest church. I continue to hold that within the apostolic and early post-apostolic texts it is used in my sense not his.
I also think that ‘some unwritten, memorised, oral package of information passed from bishop to bishop’ alluded to in later centuries was a way of expressing Tradition rhetorically and not understood in the literalist manner that Brian Kelly does. And also that, even if it was so presented, that is not what actually happened.

I am still waiting for the earliest quote that defines “Tradition” as being the sum of interpretation of the Scriptures and nothing beyond that. Anything earlier than Bryden’s 20th century mention? I must say that I see my own understanding in this thread reflected best in Bryden’s comments.

I am not sure, Peter, where you are getting that “we read Scripture in worship and not other documents” might be a first order approach to tradition. Our own Church, in the formularies that you and I vow and sign up to, has “Non-scriptural lessons approved by the priest may be read” in worship. Reading non-scriptural documents in worship has been part of Christian tradition for centuries.

Whether 'marriage needs to be between opposite gender couples' is immutable in the Tradition is the very question that is being debated. As the debate over whether this is first or second order in the Bible is the one over which so much ink (and so many pixels) is being spilt, you can hardly expect me to give a short answer in a blog post comment!

“if the creeds do not sum up the Scriptures, what do they do?” I have already answered that April 15, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Easter Season Blessings


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
Re the readings from Scripture: I thought we were talking about the readings from Scripture at the point where "the appointed readings" are required. Of course there are other parts of the service where non-Scriptural readings may be introduced.

Let me be clearer about my question re the creeds. I am not disagreeing that the creeds are a lens through which we read the Scriptures, I am saying they are also summative of the message of Scripture. If they are not summative, are they only a lens through which we read Scripture?

I don't think a definition of the tradition has to be an ancient definition. We are entitled to look back from the 21st century and ask what the tradition looks like and how might it therefore be best defined.

I am not asking that you give a concise answer to the question of whether marriage itself is mutable within the tradition. I am asking whether you can give even a brief account of how, within the tradition, we might determine what is first order/immutable and what is second order/mutable. I actually think you owe us even a brief insight into how that might be done. Otherwise I believe you are leaving us with a confusing sense of what the tradition means to you, since in some remarks you make above it appears to mean something which is permanently fixed as it guides the church forward in the light of the past as well as being something which is quite flexible as we are permitted not to be guided by it as we determine new futures.

Anonymous said...

If the objective of these discussions is to enable ACANZP or the Anglican Community to conserve unity whilst disagreeing, hopefully well, about That Topic, then the disagreement about doctrinal authority in this thread poses an obvious question.

Does the *unity* of the disagreeing Anglicans here (eg Frs Peter and Ron) better resemble--

(a) The ecumenical unity of distinct and disagreeing sister churches that, say, Roman Catholics (or Lutherans) and the Orthodox (or the Reformed) have, or as

(b) The ecclesial unity warranting shared decisionmaking that, say, the Patriarchate of Moscow has with the Patriarchate of Antioch?

Of course, we want to bear witness to our unity in Christ. But at some tipping point, the unity of the Body is better seen in ecclesial bodies that are unified and self-consistent, albeit with explicit and perhaps negotiable disagreements with other bodies, than in those that are disunited and wavering precisely at their ostensible point of unity. Put another way, given firm agreement that, despite disagreement on That Topic, ecumenical intercommunion would be maintained among Anglicans with both views of *tradition*, what is the ecclesiological case for maintaining a forced unity with this deep dissensus?

Is there any way to persuade either of the usual sides that that their *Anglicanism* is not the *One True Anglicanism* to the exclusion of the other view? If not, *Anglicanism* alone may well be both an historical success as a nurturing tradition, and an historical failure as a criterion in church governance. Although my own mind is open, the appeals in this thread to various extra-Anglican authorities (eg WCC, Catholic theologians) to resolve inner-Anglican questions of authority and identity give a certain plausibility to this view.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Useful analysis because a division along Catholic/Protestant lines is pretty strong and arguably irreversible (despite a measure or rapprochement in recent decades) whereas a division along "Patriarchate" lines is, maybe, not a thousand miles from a "two integrities" approach within a common Anglican framework.

But I am also taken by what could be called the Franciscan Footnote option: to hold two sides together one re-affirms the doctrinal inheritance while offering a footnote capable of interpretation in a pastorally pragmatic direction, cue both conservatives and liberals finding some "joy" in the recent papal document.

As for Anglicanism being both a success and a failure, that is quite a possibility!

BrianR said...

Bosco Peters writes: “I appear to be using the idea of “Tradition” differently to the way Brian Kelly understands it is used in the earliest church. I continue to hold that within the apostolic and early post-apostolic texts it is used in my sense not his.”

But you need to establish this point, not just reassert it. You gave me a list of references which I argued meant the opposite of what you claimed.

“I also think that ‘some unwritten, memorised, oral package of information passed from bishop to bishop’ alluded to in later centuries was a way of expressing Tradition rhetorically and not understood in the literalist manner that Brian Kelly does. And also that, even if it was so presented, that is not what actually happened.”

Again, you need to establish this – and not dismiss the prima facie meaning of ancient authors as ‘rhetorical’ (whatever that means in this context). If I understand you correctly, you picture ‘Tradition’ as some kind of reified Hegelian trans-subjective entity guiding the church (what I termed a ‘Geist der Kirche’), but I think the meaning is much more down to earth. Of course most of the earliest teaching of the apostles was oral; the NT itself says so and calls this ‘paradosis’. And that is the natural subject matter of ‘tradition’ in the second and third generations of the church (to the time of Ignatius and after): we can picturing them saying, ‘Remember what Brother Paul / Peter / James / John etc taught and did when he was amongst us.’ By the late second century, however, when Gnostic, Marcionite and other heterodox opinions (and interpretations of the NT) were rampant, it was becoming necessary to formulate the churches’ teaching for those being baptised and this is what I understand by ‘the rule of faith’ or ‘canon of truth’ in the churches: local trinitarian doctrinal summaries of confessions of faith. These were essentially scriptural summaries (as we find for example in Adv. Haereses 1:10:1) and the forerunners of the ecumenical creeds.

“I am still waiting for the earliest quote that defines “Tradition” as being the sum of interpretation of the Scriptures and nothing beyond that. Anything earlier than Bryden’s 20th century mention?”

Well, you may have a long wait because Protestants have a wide variety of attitudes toward ‘Tradition’. The Reformers and their successors had their own list of ancient and Medieval exegetes they approved of and those they didn’t (and sometimes these could be the same person). In general Chrysostom and the Antiochene school, and Augustine are approved, while Origen and the Alexandrians get the thumbs down. In other words, the Magisterial Reformers took a critical attitude to ‘the sum of interpretation’. They affirmed everything in the past that they thought was sober and accurate exegesis, and rejected whatever they thought fanciful.

“Whether 'marriage needs to be between opposite gender couples' is immutable in the Tradition is the very question that is being debated. As the debate over whether this is first or second order in the Bible is the one over which so much ink (and so many pixels) is being spilt, you can hardly expect me to give a short answer in a blog post comment!”

Actually, ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ would be a fair start; you can give the reasons later. For myself, I can answer that the Bible and the practice and teaching of the early church leaves us in no doubt whatsoever what Jesus and his Apostles taught.

Bryden Black said...

This thread is certainly proving a useful forum, Bowman, to explore the meaning of hermeneutics in relation to authority. And as you point out now, a complex set of issues is involved, not least, “tradition” & “governance”. I’ll pick up two observations.

1. The first Lux Mundi collection, 1889, was entirely an Anglican affair, indeed a liberal Anglo-catholic affair. [Cf. The more conservative Anglo-catholic reactions, let alone others! And compare too - fast forward - the reaction perhaps to The Myth of God Incarnate ...] The subsequent collection of “essays to mark the centenary”, Keeping the Faith, was firstly edited by a Methodist, and then gathered together a veritable diversity of fifteen ecumenical and international scholars (see the list, pp.xiii-xvii). True; it’s dedicated to Michael Ramsey! I highlight all this only to show how the work of Christian theology today well and truly spills over (yes; to carry on using river metaphors) beyond provincial (sic) boundaries. We need to mark the tradition this is forging, and give thanks to God for it - at least, I most certainly do!

2. Yet, what effect (if any) does this have on “governance”? And what in particular of Anglican Governance (both capitalized)? And let’s now mark two things here: ACC Lusaka’s coming to a close (I got a brief email overnight from an African participant - no Ron; NOT a Kenyan!); the Primates’ Gathering of January, to which ACANZ&P sent two (sic) delegates, and its possible ramifications upon our own GS next month. Certainly, in our Fair Isles, IMHO, theology (the point of 1 above) has very little bearing upon our own pragmatic, political mind-set. Other factors and factions are far more significant it seems. Which makes me make my final observation (for now), one I’ve made before. If indeed theology has such little traction for our own polis, what does that say for the longer term well being of our governance? For any organization that pays even scant lip service to the vibrancy and general health of its ideology can only become ‘sick’. For ‘power’ will become the real source of its decision making. And not power carefully nuanced by the likes of a Stephen Sykes, who has tried to address theologically matters of authority and power over the years [see only Authority in the Anglican Communion, ed SS (1987), and Power and Christian Theology (2006).] Nor will mere ‘nice feelings’ quite suffice as an antidote to ‘power’: unity in the Gospel is predicated upon far more robust stuff even than politeness - though, to be sure, courtesy helps (Phil 2:1-13).

All in all Bowman, unfortunately, I am not holding my breath (as we say here, often) that our GS is capable now of addressing the depths of our own “implausibility structures”.

Bryden Black said...

G’day Brian. You say inter alia: “In general Chrysostom and the Antiochene school, and Augustine are approved, while Origen and the Alexandrians get the thumbs down.”

I’d only amplify with this observation: the guiding principle behind this generalization would seem to be that Alexandria was more allegorical in its approach than Antioch, and the Reformers were generally against the Medieval four-fold approach, as is well known, confining themselves more to “the plain sense”. I.e. we’ve merely an ongoing differentiation at play here.

BrianR said...

Bryden: "For any organization that pays even scant lip service to the vibrancy and general health of its ideology can only become ‘sick’. For ‘power’ will become the real source of its decision making."

Exactly so. When the gambit of a professing church is legal ('We have the constitutional authority to do X') rather than theological ('What does our received doctrine require of us?'), it has ceased to be a spiritual entity concerned with the catholicity of the Church and become a local political body. The constitution exists only to subserve the spiritual purpose, which is fidelity to the deposit of truth given in the Gospel. As Andrew Goddard showed in his 'Fulcrum' review, 'A Way Forward' is biblically dishonest (to the point of changing the biblical texts) and uses legal arguments rather than addressing basic theological principles about the nature of marriage (as well as being historically in error about "civil marriage").

Bryden Black said...

Please therefore pray for us Brian

Anonymous said...

I must seriously be missing something, Peter, because I am not trying to obfuscate. There are not dissimilar problems with Tradition as there are of the Scriptures. How do we ascertain, to step away from the hot marriage topic, whether in the Scriptures the historicity of Adam and Eve is first order or second order? In other words: can one be a Christian and deny the historicity of Adam and Eve?

It is clear that within the Tradition corruption happens. But the Bible is not (always) sufficient to renew the tradition (often it is). I would point to the ecumenical renewal within liturgy – the renewal of the shape of the Eucharist, and (in particular) of the Eucharistic Prayer – these draw from Early Church (and West drawing on East), they are enriched, certainly, by Biblical study, but the Bible (by itself) would not, could not, have led to this renewal – we have no Eucharistic Prayer (for example) preserved in the Bible. But we do within the Tradition.

Let me switch it the other way around. If tradition is limited to the historical variety of interpretations of the Bible (your view), all we have is a plethora of sometimes/often-contradictory/confusing commentary. And over the centuries we may have been way out. We now often have more archaeological, lexical, and other information than we have had since some of the Biblical texts were produced. I am currently onto my second book by John H Walton (with NT Wright this time). He sees the first Chapters of Genesis as not being about material creation AT ALL. This is quite a different reading than all the interpretations = your tradition and I am perfectly content to leap over the centuries to quite a different insight into God’s Word.

To turn the question once more – this time back to the hot topic: I would have understood (civil) marriage being a “rightly-ordered” relationship to be fixed within the Tradition, but now within our Church that may no longer be the case. We can visualise (as your recent link to my post indicates) the possibility of someone holding a bishop’s licence losing it (and with it their livelihood) because they are in a civil marriage in a diocese which has decided it will not allow these blessings even for heterosexuals.

In my mind, then, Scripture-Tradition-Reason work together. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an infallible way of answering your question? But even when it comes to your “Jesus falling before Veronica” – not even Rome has ruled on that one!

Easter Season Blessings


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bosco
I appreciate that you appreciate that the tradition (on any definition) is a complex thing.
I would hope that Walton adds to our developing understanding of Genesis (I am afraid his books are yet to be read by me ... on the to be read list).
Eucharistic prayers are a good example of the tradition providing something Scripture does not provide, though I note that revisions to eucharistic prayers seem to entail renewed/refreshed contact with scriptural tradition.
I don't think there is an infallible way of answering my question; and I agree that Scripture-Tradition-Reason work together.
But I remain convinced that Scripture is a stronger authority than the other two!

Bryden Black said...

Hi Bosco; in haste ...

Re JHW - I think Walton's claim has to do with Origins (our hang-up since Darwin) versus Cosmic functions and functionaries, a variation on the now classic "formless and void" being addressed by Days 1-3 being formed and 4-6 filling the void respectively, of the Divine Cosmic Temple in which the Divine Image is placed ie humans. This last parallels exactly what the ANE did to their temples also: formed idols; animated them ritually; placed them inside (which incidentally links 2 & 1 quite explicitly!). Thereafter Adam and Eve are archetypes ... So enjoy the rest!

And yes; a little different from Basil's Hexaemeron or Augustine's Confessions...!!

BrianR said...

I am not sure there was even such a thing as a 'Eucharistic Prayer' (formally conceived) in New Testament days. All we have is a tantalisingly brief discussion in 1 Corinthian 11. There is a fragmentary prayer in Didache 9 (over-translated by Staniforth as ‘the eucharistic prayer” instead of ‘give thanks thus’), but it’s a long way from 'Dix-ieland', and even the earliest anaphorae (if the scholarship is sound) come from the mid-third century. Most seem to think there was informality and spontaneity in the first two centuries. This is evident from Justin’s First Apology and the Apostolic Tradition. In the end, centralisation and the battle with perceived heterodoxy usually leads to written texts. These texts are helpful, in my view, but hardly binding on the church in obeying the dominical command and the practice of the Apostles. Eastern Orthodox would perhaps disagree here, because they understand 'Tradition' to be the living voice of the Holy Spirit continuing in the interpretative work of the Orthodox Bishops (and maybe the odd starets as well): 'It seemed good to us AND the Holy Spirit.' That was how it was explained to me once by Jack Witbrock (onetime Anglican vicar in Lyttelton before he joined the Antiochian Orthodox Church).
On what 'tradition' meant in the post-apostolic church, see also Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians 3: 'During (Paul's) residence with you he gave the men of those days clear and sound instruction in the word of truth, while he was still there in person among them, and even after his departure he sent letters which, if you study them essentially, will enable you to make progress in the faith which was delivered to you.'

BrianR said...

That should read 'if you study them ATTENTIVELY (!)', not 'essentially'. 'the faith which was delivered to you' is 'ten humin dotheisan pistin'. A body of instruction is in mind.

Caleb said...

Peter, could you please clarify for us whether you've taken back your previous claim that Scripture is nothing but the church's tradition of interpreting Scripture? Or do you still assert this? ("I agree that Scripture-Tradition-Reason work together. But I remain convinced that Scripture is a stronger authority than the other two!" is a very different claim).

By the way, I understand the references to the Marian dogmas as a cautionary tale, but I think the problem is HOW tradition, magisterial teaching, and popular piety have been understood in the Catholic church... not THAT tradition has been believed to be more than just the tradition of interpreting Scripture.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Caleb
Not at all!
I do accept that different versions of "tradition"/"Tradition" are being used by different Christian (traditions!), represented by commenters here; and I do accept that there is value in traditions which have come down to us which (arguably) do not represent "tradition = accumulated interpretation of Scripture."
However, the key issue to me re "tradition" is whether we are talking about tradition which is consonant with, coherent with, consistent with Scripture or some other tradition which might be unsupported by Scripture (cf. Marian dogma) or even against Scripture (cf. Mary Magdalene as Jesus' wife).*
I cannot see (that is, as an Anglican steeped in the 39A, the BCP, I cannot see) how tradition which is not aligned with, informed by, responding to Scripture is able to contribute to valid, authoritative understanding of our faith.
I readily concede that Scripture needs tradition in this sense, e.g. so that some new fangled interpretation ("Look, for 20 centuries Scripture has been misunderstood, but now, I, Dr E.G. Ocentric, has discovered the real meaning) is measured against the history of interpretation by the church, in order to keep us faithful to what we have known and safe from the claims of "the new." (Cf. the misguidedness of JWs, Mormons, and, we might also say, Muslims).
Reason helps too. So I am not agreeing that somehow my understanding of tradition and my recognition of Scripture, tradition and reason working together is in anyway contradictory.
*Here is a rule of thumb re tradition: Whenever the tradition speaks about Mary, any Mary, take care!

Caleb said...

Thanks for the clarification, Peter!
I don't think we have any substantial disagreement on tradition. I would only add that the Catholic magisterium also agrees that tradition, insofar as it's normative on us, must be "consonant with, coherent with, consistent with Scripture" and "aligned with, informed by, responding to Scripture." But they think the Marian dogmas meet that criterion. (like I said, I have some issues with their process and many of their conclusions.)

Oh; another thing I'd add re. "the claims of 'the new'": I agree that Johnny-come-lately interpretations should be measured against the tradition of interpretation (so long as you really mean that... cf. my second sentence at April 14, 2016 at 1:18 AM). But it pays not to throw stones at Mormons and Muslims too quickly here when our own faith stems from a newfangled interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in light of a few people's testimony about a failed messiah being resurrected!
And let's not forget that that same messiah (in line with a long prophetic tradition behind him) was liable to say statements like "You have heard it was said... but I say to you..."

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

like, Caleb, I don’t think that you and I substantially disagree about Tradition. Tradition that is not "consonant with, coherent with, consistent with Scripture" has no place in Christian Revelation, nor “to valid, authoritative understanding of our faith”. These are just assumed givens for me. I would not, however, be so quick to affirm that Tradition must be “responding to Scripture” because I think that brings us right back to tradition = accumulated interpretation of Scripture whereas you have just acknowledged my own postion: ‘I do accept that there is value in traditions which have come down to us which (arguably) do not represent "tradition = accumulated interpretation of Scripture."’

{and I cannot quite make sense of “Scripture is a stronger authority than the other two [Tradition; Reason]” If Scripture accepts a dome as the sky, and Reason demonstrates there is no such dome, sorry, Peter, put me on a heresy trial if you like, but I’m going with there’s no dome. Scripture, as far as sky-domes is concerned, is wrong.}

As for Brian Kelly’s suggestion that there was “no such a thing as a 'Eucharistic Prayer'” in the earliest church just because “there was informality and spontaneity,” that’s like saying families who give thanks extemporarily before a meal do not have grace before meals “(formally conceived)”. I would have felt totally at home, I suggest, with the extemporary Eucharistic Prayer in those early days, just as they would have felt at home with the one we prayed at the most recent Eucharist at which I presided.

As for John Walton, from page 96 of The Lost World of Adam and Eve he is arguing “Though some of the Biblical interest in Adam and Eve is archetypal, they are real people who existed in a real past.”

Easter Season Blessings


Bryden Black said...

" ... they are real people ... in a real past." Indeed; 'they' are even referring nowadays to "biological Eve", in the heart of Africa, some 200,000 years ago ...! So who am I to demur?!

BrianR said...

Bosco keeps calling me 'Brian Kelly' which is my name, but as I'm the only Brian on this thread, a bit of informality is fine by me. Just call me Brian.

Bosco goes on to say: "As for Brian Kelly’s suggestion that there was “no such a thing as a 'Eucharistic Prayer'” in the earliest church"; which shows that Bosco doesn't read carefully or quote accurately what I wrote, which was "I'm not sure there was such a thing as a 'Eucharistic Prayer' (formally conceived)', i.e. a fixed text or formula. I thought that would be clear from the Capital Letters and the immediately following parenthetical words 'formally conceived'. i.e. written up. Justin's First Apology says as much. I don't know of anything before the Apostolic Tradition in the latter half of the third century that approaches this definition, but I'm open to correction. As I also said, only the Didache gives us some idea, and that's quite removed in time and content from Rome in the third century, and there is no mention there of 'four-fold shapes' etc. I never said they didn't have prayers of thanksgiving at the eucharist - that would be absurd - only that it wasn't fixed and laid down formally, rather that practice was informal and spontaneous and necessarily varied from place to place. I thought the point of what I was saying was clear, sc. 'Follow the later tradition of Hippolytus if you like - but don't look down on churches that don't; their free, charismatic practice may well be closer to the primitive church (1 Cor 14).' The fact that the Bible doesn't give us fixed and detailed instruction on this aspect of Christian worship is not a fatal deficit that has to remedied by 'tradition'.
Anyway, Bosco, what do you think of my perception of your understanding of 'Tradition' as a neo-Hegelian 'Geist der Kirche'? Is it a correct reading of you?

Father Ron Smith said...

And meanwhile, Christ is being received and honoured in the Eucharist 24 hours a day in one or another part of the world. So much argument, and so little engagement with the reality: The Word was made flesh" and still, 'dwells among us". Christ is risen Alleluia! He is risen indeed!

Anonymous said...

This thread is getting old, on the second page of this site, Brian, and probably only being read by a faithful remnant, and we seem to be talking past each other, so there appears little fruitfulness in continuing this ping pong.

You seem to keep referring back to Dix (including most recently “no mention there of 'four-fold shapes'”) as if Dix is the measure of liturgical renewal.

Peter’s and my context is a church that allows Eucharistic Prayers that “aren’t fixed and laid down formally, rather [our prayers may be] informal and spontaneous [with some minimal requirements] and necessarily vary from place to place.” As well as allowing such “free, charismatic practice [close] to the primitive church” our church allows the use of any Eucharistic Prayer authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion. That includes, again, the two frameworks authorised in TEC which, again, can be used (anytime, unlike in TEC) in an “informal and spontaneous free, charismatic” manner.

Hence, it does not surprise me that Peter immediately got my point about a Eucharistic practice taken for granted in the NT period and so not thought to be required to be put into the NT documents as it was continuing fine into the post-Apostolic tradition.

So, to be clear, and conclude our unfruitful ping-ponging, on the Geist der Kirche, it may appear that way to you, but that is not at all what I am saying.

Easter Season Blessings


BrianR said...

Bosco, I can't play ping pong with someone who refuses to return a legitimate ball but insists on playing a different game instead. You began with your theory about the nature of 'Tradition' as some reified trans-subjective 'spirit' that shaped and directed the church - as well as supplementing what was 'lacking' in the NT - and I replied that your definition didn't match what the primitive and early church meant by 'traditio' / 'traditiones' or 'paradosis' / 'paradoseis', which instead meant 'custom and practice of the Apostles in the churches of apostolic foundation' OR an oral tradition of teaching supplementary to the New Testament. I cannot see where you returned the ball, i.e. answered my points about the meaning of 'tradition', showing that your definition is correct. Your description of contemporary NZ Anglican practice is really beside the point. ALL churches have 'traditions', which simply means an inherited and continued practice and belief of some kind. Whether theses traditions are good, bad, true or false is an entirely different question - which was exactly the Reformers' point about the traditions of the medieval church, both its liturgical practice and its doctrine. Tradition is never unthinkingly accepted as authoritative but is always subject to the criticism of Scripture. And that's the Anglican way, too!
Neo-Hegelianism is *not what 'paradosis' meant in the early church. Off to play table tennis now.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian/Bosco
We are not here to play ping-pong.
Bosco may or may not want to return to whatever he meant re the spirit of tradition way, way back.
I think the discussion has move on, Brian, and we could keep moving with that movement - if we choose.
For me Bosco has made a substantive point that buried in the Eucharistic traditions of the church, some surviving to this day in the prayers we use (epiclesis?), are words used from apostolic and sub-apostolic times, and thus represent a stream of the church's most ancient responses to the gospels.
Today we, reformed Anglicans, subject that stream to the arbitration of Scripture (your and my point, Brian).
In saying these things I am reminded that of all the bits of the NT which have a curious and checkered history as growing tradition, those concerning the Eucharist, in the four gospels and in 1 C, has claim to being most curious and most checkered, cf. Jeremias etc.

Anonymous said...

Brian, could you please give me the date and time of my comment above in which I state what you say is my "theory about the nature of 'Tradition' as some reified trans-subjective 'spirit' that shaped and directed the church - as well as supplementing what was 'lacking' in the NT". I can't find where I said that and I'd be obliged to have my memory refreshed.

Thanks in anticipation