Sunday, July 31, 2016

My "Way Forward" Part 4.5 (inching towards Part 5)

Time is of the essence but essentially time is short these days, so I find myself not able to get into the time/space for mentally thinking through my final post, "Part 5", which (with fine tuning after, hopefully, some comments) would be my submission to the Archbishops by the 1 October 2016 deadline.

Here, en route to that final post, I am making a few remarks/notes, picking up on some on-blog and off-blog correspondence and conversations. Your comments remain welcome ... In no particular order of logic or priority:

(1) A very helpful suggestion that I drop talk of "same sex blessing" (SSB) but refer instead to "blessing civil unions or other marriages recognised by the State" where "other marriages" refers other than Christian marriages between men and women. That is, as a Christian church we Anglicans are "in the business" of conducting Christian marriages as traditionally, Scripturally and customarily understood by orthodox Christians in all churches, but we are also a church in a society which legally recognises permanent unions between couples (irrespective of gender) and short of disengaging from society we should ask ourselves how we might respond to such unions with some form of acknowledgment, affirmation and support.

(2) With particular reference to a debate between Malcolm Falloon and myself (e.g. here), I acknowledge the importance of asking of ourselves two related questions about the position we might come to. One question concerns the viability of a decision with reference to relationships with other Anglican churches in the Anglican Communion. Another question concerns whether "catholicity" means anything to ACANZP these days since we seem to be paying only a small amount of attention to whether or not a decision to change the status quo might affect our relationships with other churches and might mean that as a church having some semblance of commitment to being part of the catholic (universal) church of God we effectively ditch catholicity as a mark of ourselves as a church. In some conversations it strikes me that "justice" is the replacement mark for "catholicity."

(3) A growing conviction in my mind that the core of my proposal, that we steadfastly eschew SSM in favour of retaining our current doctrine of marriage but consider recognition of unions recognised by the State (see (1) above), is not a mere "compromise" (with all the difficulties that raises for brothers and sisters who cannot think of compromise in such a way as anything other than a failure to be faithful to Christ) but is actually a principled solution.

The principles here are that (A) we are committed to being a catholic church sharing in the universal Christian doctrine of marriage as being between a man and a woman, (B) we are committed to being a church which lives in a specific time, place and culture (21st century South Pacific), seeking to be a bridge between God and this set of Pacific societies (and not an isolationist sect within it), and (C) we wish to appropriately and lovingly respond to relationships which do not fit with that universal Christian doctrine yet which represent the frailties and vulnerabilities of human beings for whom relationship is preferable to aloneness.

As always, what do you think?

I will do my best to post comments over the next few days when I am tied up extensively in a meeting or two ...! I may or may not be able to respond to comments for a few days.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, re the Carrell/Falloon conversation in your second paragraph here. I find it intriguing that Malcolm should suddenyl be addressing the idea of 'catholicity' in the Body of Christ. This would seem not to be the lynch-pin of his basic relationship to, for instance, the Church of Rome. On the other hand, I, as an Anglo-Catholic (and an admirer of Pope Francis' tendency towards mercy in the Church) am really concerned about what might further distance us Anglicans from that Church.

Regarding your, and Malcolm's, concerns about avoiding actions that might threaten our fraternal (catholic) relationships; might I draw your joint attention to the fact that we actually have no formal connection (understanding?) of priestly ministry with Rome, while yet maintaining a real relationship (via our very own Archbishop David Moxon) with Rome in the context of ARCIC. In the context of Church Order, there can be nothing more important that a joint acceptance - at least, 'de facto' - of ministerial provenance, so that any other matter - such as Same-sex Marriage Blessings - might be accounted as 'adiaphora'.

It strikes me that protestant Evengelicals are not always so concerned sbout being in synch with Catholic Order on any other issue. What is so very different about the blessing of monogamous and faithful two-person relationships, approved by the State, that warrants this concern? Sexual promiscuity is, surely, a more troubling issue for all Christians!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
You are over-reading what I wrote above: I did not say that Malcolm was concerned about "catholicity", I said that a debate with him (actually about Communion relationships and fellowship) prompted my concerns, expressed in the point above. It is for Malcolm to say if he wishes something about catholicity in general and relationships with Rome in particular.

For myself, I think a long reading of this blog would reveal and confirm that in my contributions to discussion on human sexuality and marriage I have been concerned about Anglicans holding to views shared by Christians around the world, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism.

I take issue with your phrasing above, "concerns about avoiding actions that might threaten our fraternal (catholic) relationships": my concern is not about threat, but about shared belief, common commitments and the like. Catholicity is not about what threatens our unity but about what builds it!

Some "protestant Evangelicals" may not be concerned about being in synch with "Catholic Order" on any other issue, but I can assure you that I am concerned about multiple levels of synchronicity: e.g. maintaining commitment to the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds, continuing to be a church with three orders of ministry, inching our way towards a common understanding of the eucharist which makes the church, finding the ways in which we unite together in Christ in mission and ministry. Is that enough for you?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

(1) Ceasing to use language that is provocatively descriptive and choosing instead to embrace language that is infinitely more inclusive overcomes most theological problems.

(2) When you speak of ‘justice’ are you talking about Biblical justice, or are you speaking of something more akin to the secular notion of ‘equality’, as in ‘marriage equality’?

(3) (b) Bridging the gap? Can you provide any examples from the New Testament where the Apostles sought to ‘bridge the gap’ between the church and surrounding culture, by embracing pagan practices?

(c) Better to live in sin than to live alone. Is that our new gospel?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan

(1) Yes, ow we use language affects how we understand matters, what common accord we might find on matters, and ways forward which enable us to walk together. I find such re-framing of language of great assistance in my marriage :)

(2) Yes, I think the replacement of "catholicity" with "justice" has helped those who wish to drive the church forward to embrace SSM. I think that is a less than helpful way to do ecclesiology.

(3) (b) No, I cannot think of any such instances, but then I do not think that two people choosing to commit to covenanting their love for one another is a "pagan practice." What I do see in the NT is adjustments being made to new situations. Thus, for instance, Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 makes an adjustment to Jesus' teaching re remarriage after divorce for a situation that Jesus had not envisaged (a Christian being married to a non-Christian). In other passages Paul attempts to work through what it means to adjust to a "Jewish-in-origin" movement extending to contexts where meat sacrificed to idols is available at the butchers for purchase. (Actually, that one is pretty close to a "bridge" to "embracing pagan practices"!)

(3) (c) Not at all. But in the Scriptures we see recognition of the plight of being alone, whether we think of 1 Corinthians 7 better to marry than burn with lust or Jesus not telling the Samaritan woman in John 4 to get rid of her de facto husband. But, even without those examples, we are faced in our society today with our friends and families living in relationships which are not strictly "Christian marriage" and which, conversely, are not (in my experience at least) susceptible to general denunciations and calls to repentance. Is the church to shun or to find some means and ways of recognising? (Even if not moving to full "blessing"?)

In general terms Brendan I find your "black and white" responses to my musings giving me little or no indication about how Christians are to live in a "grey" world!

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

I am pleased that you have addressed the issue of catholicity. We affirm in the creeds our belief in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Yet we have looked to revise our pastoral understanding of holiness and what God does and does not bless. We have followed new hermeneutical readings of the apostolic scriptures that limits their authority and that of the church's constitution, which is based upon them. We seem determine to cut ourselves off from the voice of the wider catholic tradition, both over time ("we now know more than they did") and geographically ("we are an independent church responding to our local context - besides, we are pioneering the way for the rest of the church to follow"). Is it any wonder that we have trouble maintaining the last remaining mark of the church - Unity!

One further comment. I don't find the idea of blessing "other marriages" (along with civil unions) very helpful at all. From a canonical point of view, it diminishes our existing doctrine of marriage, even while appearing to leave the traditional understanding unchanged. Sociological, in my view it represents a ghettoizing of Christian marriage. The Church has always recognised that there are different accounts of marriage due to custom or the state. Its another thing entirely to incorporate such a paradigm into the church's very theology: christian marriage as just one variant of a large category called "marriage".


Andrei said...

" I don't find the idea of blessing "other marriages" (along with civil unions) very helpful at all."

New Zealand is unusual in the 21st century of having the clergy recognized as marriage celebrants

In most of Europe people have a civil ceremony followed by a religious one

We have a civil document dreary and boring to gaze upon and an ecclesiastical one which is far more elegant, aesthetically pleasing and meaningful :)

Just as a matter of interest

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
In one sense I agree with you on everything you say!
1. As a point of clarification my correspondent re recognising other forms of relationships was not pressing that the church bless them, rather than that the church acknowledge that it lives in a society which does recognise a variety. Of course some in our church do want permission to bless (and that has the attendant dangers re our understanding of marriage that you note), but do we all not need to ask ourselves what it means to live in this society rather than the one we used to live in (i.e. when what society understood as marriage was pretty much what the church understood, when what society agreed were grounds for divorce were pretty much what the church thought also)?
2. We may indeed need to formally separate as a church in order to have unity around what we consider to be 'holy', 'marriage' etc; but what if the church will not separate so tidily as that? in part I am proposing a compromise rather than a schism because I see myself in a church with - simplifying a bit - three groups: those determined to vote for change to bless, those determined to vote against change to bless, and those who are not sure what to think but will remain in the church whatever the vote leads to ... is schism or compromise the better way to serve the members of such an untidy (black, white, grey) church?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter,

I have framed my response somewhat starkly because I can think of no other way to point out the absurdity of what the church is seeking to embrace. I read the book of Jude last week and thought how appropriate it is for the days in which we live. A few extracts if you will bear with me:

4. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality …..

7. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8. In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies ….

19. These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

Surely it is the responsibility of Anglican theologians, bishops and clergy to test the idea of ‘blessing homosexual relationships’, be they within or without the State’s definition of marriage by Scriptures such as these from Jude, and many others besides? No doubt there will be those who believe I’m simply re-litigating an argument that the Anglican church has already moved beyond – it’s no longer a question of ‘should we’ but ‘how should we’?

Even so, my appeal is to our conscience before God, that we ought to fear Him rather than men. I remain convinced that no good can come of our intended embrace of popular culture. Far better we are persecuted for our convictions than celebrated for our compromise.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I make two comments (with gratitude for your reply above).
1. I am trying to deal not with "the absurdity of what the church is seeking to embrace" but with the reality of being a church of two (or more) views, of being a church of which one part seeks to embrace something and another part does not (and yet a third part is unsure what to think).
2. What we are dealing with here is not simply "embrace of popular culture" (e.g. in the sense that we might as Christians embrace incorporating profanities into our everyday language, or show X-rated clips in sermons from shows on TV shown at so called "family hours" for viewing) but our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, best friends and workmates evolving differing forms of relationship, sometimes with no particular reference to God, sometimes with particular reference to God. Real human lives are involved - not just "popular culture" - human lives that may feel they now have one final and all sufficient reason to no longer have anything to do with God, the church or even you and me because we have come up with no response to their relational status other than to categorise them as sinful pagans. Yes, Jude said what he said but Jesus also refrained from condemning the Samaritan woman. Was Jude referring to the casual sex, clubbing, promiscuous culture of his days (perhaps with the odd swinging orgy thrown in) as well as to people living in faithful monogamy, or to the former? If to the former then his words - of course - remain apt to this day. But did he have faithful monogamous relationships as clearly in view? Can we be so sure that if Jude were asked today whether faithful couples of the same sex should break up, that he would say "Yes"?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

When it comes to Scripture, we can only work with what is written; conjecture on silence profits us little.

We know that Jesus Christ is a friend of sinners, and we should follow his example. Friendship is predicated on both love and truth. Paul tells us we are not to judge those who are ‘in the world’ – we are to love and serve them. We should therefore welcome married or unmarried gay couples from ‘the world’ into our faith communities to hear the word of God and to test the legitimacy of our gospel in the sincere hope they may be saved.

We already agree that the Word of God is clear about sexual intimacy between couples of the same sex. It is sinful, and as Peter instructs us, we are to repent of our sin, believe and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What we know of Scripture is that it precludes us from blessing that which we know to be sinful. It would be both untruthful and unloving to affirm people in their sin, and in doing so give them what may turn out to be a false hope for eternity. However, God is both just and merciful, and in such instances I suspect He is more likely to reserve judgement for those mature Christians who preferred to affirm sinners in their iniquity than to call them to repentance.

Furthermore, the Anglican Church will be further weakened by this apostasy, serving only to advance its own demise. Thankfully we still have almost two full years of grace in which we can turn aside from this foolishness, and affirm what we know and understand to be true from Scripture.

If some gay Anglicans choose to leave as a result, well then so be it. At least the group in the middle of whom you speak will most likely remain within the house of Christian orthodoxy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brendan,

"Can you provide any examples from the New Testament where the Apostles sought to ‘bridge the gap’ between the church and surrounding culture, by embracing pagan practices?"

Not sure about practices, but both the Gospel of John and parts of Saint Paul's thinking (for example his use of the Pagan Roman adoption process as a model for our adoption by the Father) could be said to be attempts to bridge the gap between the Hebrew world and the Pagan/Classical world.

I don't think that has any bearing at all on the issue of SSM however, and I'm not suggesting it should.

Stu said...

Hi Peter,
I appreciate the energy you are putting into offering alternate structures in response to the Archbishops request, but I do worry about the pragmatic compromises that you are offering in the goal of unity. I am more comfortable with your recent language of ‘acknowledging’ same sex civil unions, but to formally start using the biblical language of blessing, when the church catholic is so far from reaching a place of agreement on this, is to embrace too much.
I am concerned about what seems like a lack of patience from many within our church. As a pastor of a local congregation who reject the move to bless same sex unions, I know how destructive any structural move in that direction will be. I understand Bishop Victoria at some point (perhaps GS 2014) urged our church to address our theology before enacting legislation. The Way Forward report in my diocese was rightly criticised as being woefully inadequate in presenting a coherent case for same sex blessing and yet here we are being asked to get on and just do it?
As you note the emphasis is on so called justice but there is very little talk of righteousness in this debate. Is it too much to ask, for those in our church who are so adamant that God would bless a same sex union, to present first, a coherent case for this from scripture that can make sense theologically of our doctrines of marriage, humanity and the church, before we run to structural change?
And then please to also respond to my single (heterosexual) friend in his mid 50s who at great pain and heartache has remained celibate, all his life not through choice, but through obedience to God’s word.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I cannot publish the whole of the comment below because it is my policy that we do not tell or almost tell other commenters what to do with their lives. Please comment on issues and not on commenters. Accordingly I have omitted one sentence from what you submitted, as well as another adjective which I think does not contribute to felicitous conversation here.

"Dear Brendan, considering the fact that you once ran your own Christian fellowship, obviously based on the [] theological understanding you show on ADU, and have chosen, for your own reasons, to join the Anglican Church (ACANZP) - admittedly one of the more conservative parishes - this does not give you the right to judge others in the Anglican community who think differently from yourself on matters of human sexuality.

[] You will by now have gathered that ACANZP is a forward looking Church, not given to damning the civil society in which we 'live and move and have our being' - but, rather, more pastorally sensitive to the real situation of sinners like ourselves.

Dr. Peter Carrell is a well-esteemed Evangelical teacher in our Church, deserving of a little more respect than you seem wont to afford his eirenic arguments.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Stu
On the one hand I don't think much of my own suggested compromise if we were working in a situation in which no one was pressing to get anywhere in a hurry. But there does seem to be a pressure since for two synods in a row something has nearly been achieved but not quite. Accordingly I am trying to respond to the "is" of the situation even though I (and you) would prefer that this were not so.

On the other hand, your question is on the money: "Is it too much to ask, for those in our church who are so adamant that God would bless a same sex union, to present first, a coherent case for this from scripture that can make sense theologically of our doctrines of marriage, humanity and the church, before we run to structural change?" I do not think it too much to ask and wonder if we will ever have the theology for a changed situation properly brought forward for consideration.

I would hope, referring to your friend, that we will always be a church which honours and celebrates those who are single and celibate for the Lord's sake. I know it must seem for some for most of the past few years like we are not that church.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Ron

I’m doing my best to feel welcomed by you into the broad church of the ACANZP.

It is true that I am perhaps not your ideal congregant on many levels, but at least my wife and I are swelling the numbers in a church characterized by demographic and economic decline. One reason at least for you to be thankful for our presence. Also, it was kind of you to suggest a new vocational calling for me, although why Peter declined to disclose it remains a mystery. Perhaps he felt such matters are best handled by the Bishop?

But to your point, I don’t ‘damn civil society’. I thank God for this city and its people. This city has been a place of blessing for me and for our family, why would I ‘damn it’?

Nevertheless, it is a city that falls short of its name. All the more reason for us to remain a church faithful to the gospel and to the one who called us from darkness into his eternal light. To the topic of this post, part of our testimony before both God and man is that we continue to affirm the only sexual relationship that Jesus affirmed, that is the union between one man and one woman in the context of marriage. We have no mandate from heaven to affirm or to ‘bless’ any other.

To Stu’s point, there is a reason why no coherent case from Scripture has been presented by those who believe Jesus committed a sin of omission. Such a case doesn’t exist, and we should cease pretending it does. Even if there was no condemnation of homosexual practice of any kind in Scripture, there is no affirmation of it either. Silence is not endorsement.

For 2000 years the Church has understood this. It is only now that we appear to have become 'wiser than God' and feel compelled to endorse loving homosexual relationships; a phenomenon he apparently did not foresee, or painfully overlooked. Because that is what the proponents of SSB are saying isn’t it; that Scripture is incomplete or incoherent when it comes to homosexual practice?

Is that to become our testimony?

Father Ron Smith said...

"For 2,000 years, the Church has understood this" - (the fact that its theology has only been able to accommodate heterosexual marriage as the only sanctified human partnered relationship) - Brendan McNeill -

And could this not, Brendan, have been merely because Same-Sex relationship were simply not fully understood - either biologically, psychologically or theologically during that time? After all, it took Gallileo's pardoning by the Church, for the Church to come into a relatively modern understanding of the complexity of the Cosmos. Also, the Church was once engaged in a fierce consdemnation of the Jews; a fact not atoned for until the reign of Pope John XXIII. And, of course, there is still the problem - even for some Anglicans - of the question of women's fitness to represent Christ at the altar. Ignorance is not a good argument for anything - let alone the doctrine of a Living Church

Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter. Kiwis are, by and large, not a religious bunch. We do however take fair-mindedness very seriously, so much so that I would argue “fairness”, under the broad mantle of “justice”, “equality” and “human rights”, functions as our prime social virtue. Against this backdrop, any argument for a deontological ethic, which is to say something which starts along the lines of “God commands us to …”, operates at a severe disadvantage. We demand to know “why” - and rightly so! Too many times have people marched to their deaths in pointless wars, inflicted and suffered all sorts of pain and indignity on the authority of “God wills it.” Now some argue that God encompasses all that is virtuous and good, so by extension, all God’s commands in Holy Scripture are good – even the ones that may appear patently unfair (enforced celibacy/singleness for gay people, for example). Others argue that God encompasses all that is virtuous and good, so by extension, service to the virtues of fairness, justice and equality is service to God’s Kingdom – even when Scriptural provenance on particular issues is a bit hit and miss. Is Stu right to dismiss “fairness” as easily as he appears to? Can one, in response to his challenge “Show me the Scripture … “ not validly point to past Christian excesses, abuses and injustices perpetrated in the confidence that we had Scripture (and by extension God) on our side and caution that the easy dismissal of justice and fairness in favour of “obedience” may not be the right path? This is an age old and perhaps intractable debate. On the bright side, I read an article just the other day on how vectors bend over cosmic distances. The maths for why is beyond me, but if it is true we may still hold out hope that two parallel lines will one day meet. Keep up the good work. Juan

BrianR said...

"I would argue “fairness”, under the broad mantle of “justice”, “equality” and “human rights”, functions as our prime social virtue. Against this backdrop, any argument for a deontological ethic, which is to say something which starts along the lines of “God commands us to …”, operates at a severe disadvantage. We demand to know “why” - and rightly so!"

Coincidentally I have just finished reading C.S. Lewis's 'Till We Have Faces' (aided in its interpretation by Peter Kreeft's lectures) and once again it is striking how prophetic and insightful Lewis was back in 1956, before any of these issues had appeared on our horizon. The protagonist of the novel (a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche) writes - as a pagan - to condemn the injustice of the gods in denying her love in her life until she is awoken in a startling (and still pre-Christian way) to dimensions of divine love - and grace - she didn't suspect as well as profoundly unsettling discoveries about herself.

The search for "fairness" without reference to the source of justice (and even more, of grace) and the desire of sinful, finite humans to make sense of a world they didn't create evokes the title of Macintyre's book 'Whose Justice? Whose Rationality?' and even more the Lord's question to Job who has spent 30 chapters of the book decrying divine justice: "Were you there when I laid the foundations of the earth?"
In other words: "I insist on asking the questions - and not being questioned myself."
But even in Job (in 28:28) the answer of biblical wisdom is given.
Justice and fairness can never contradict obedience to God.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Juan

I’m sure Stu can speak for himself, but reading your post did elicit a deep sigh, for it eloquently expressed the heart of our present problem when attempting to obtain consensus in the church with respect to SSB. You talk of fairness, justice, equality, and human rights as if these are ‘self-evident’ virtues commonly understood by all of mankind.

Quite clearly they are not. This is why without any hint of embarrassment Saudi Arabia can chair the Human Rights committee at the United Nations. A nation whose women are not even allowed to drive a car!

Which brings us to the ultimate question when it comes to understanding these virtues, and that is ‘by what standard’? Are they subjective, only to be determined by each individual for themselves, or can they be objectively known. If it’s the latter what is our source? Is it the Koran as in Saudi Arabia? Or possibly the Bible?

As Christians, we have historically relied upon Scripture for all matters relating to faith and Practice. Yes, we have also taken into account Church history and sanctified reason, but as the article Peter referred to in his most recent post points out, the latter are subject to the former.

To the extent they are not subject to the former, we become something other than Christian in our world view. We end up with a form of syncretism which is neither one thing nor the other.

Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that you, or anyone holding similar views are anything other than a compassionate and caring person who wants the best for everyone. But my question to you is this. What is God’s best when it comes to sexual expression? If you abandon Scripture as your ultimate point of reference when answering that question, how can you possibly be certain?

BrianR said...

Yes, Brendan, you have spelt out all the implied questions in my own post. Human reason in all its forms - including the 'theology of liberation' which was all the vogue in liberal circles a few years ago - claims the right to pass judgment on the Scriptures, whether they are 'the Word of God' or only contain 'the Word of God', imperfectly and not without contamination. Liberalism answers the latter, along with giving its own (time-conditioned and changing) version of what 'salvation' means.

"Fairness", even in the unphilosophical mind of a modern Kiwi pagan, is no less historically conditioned (even by the fading memory of Christendom) than is "justice" in the mind of a modern Saudi Muslim.
What is "fair" today will seem monstrously "unjust" tomorrow, yet the pagan has the consolation (or is it frustration?) of knowing there is no hell to punish wrongdoers: all will pass into extinction without retribution or reward.
And to his credit, Immanuel Kant, that strange conservative father of liberal Protestant, understood that that was an intolerable syllogism (even if his Marxist epigone in the church have not).
And absent from such discussion is teleology: what is the purpose of human existence?
An absurd question, says the pagan; life has no meaning except what I choose to give it (think of the Casey ruling in the SCOTUS in 1992 on 'the mystery of life'). Which makes the human subject the autonomous lord of morality, as that dreadful piece of doggerel 'Invictus' puts it.

Father Ron Smith said...

re Brian's remark here, about those "claiming the right to pass judgement on the Scriptures"; did not Jesus Himself do that very thing: "You read the Scriptures and they tell you..... But I tell you......". Does this not imply that what Jesus had to say was more important the the words of the Scriptures? The Word is no longer confined to a Book, holy as that Book may be, but "became flesh and lived amongst us" Scripture (via the intruction of St.Paul and the Gospel writers) is a commentary on the reality of The Word made Flesh in Christ, now availble through the Eucharist: "Do this to re-member me" - to bring "The WORD" to life in your own experience! This is why making Eucharist is important to the Body of Christ. Therein we become His Body in the Church.

What some Christians seem unable to understand is the catholic theology of Jesus as the definitive "WORD-MADE-FLESH", who "dwelt qmong us, the only-begotten Son of the Father, FULL of grace and truth". This is why frequent exposure to The Word-Made-Flesh in the Eucharist is practised by Catholic Christians, in order to bring the fullness of God's truth and beauty into their lives - together with the experience of God's infinite mercy and love: "Where charity and love are; there is God" - the Holy Thursday antiphon.

BrianR said...

"re Brian's remark here, about those "claiming the right to pass judgement on the Scriptures"; did not Jesus Himself do that very thing: "You read the Scriptures and they tell you..... But I tell you......"."
- I presume you are alluding loosely to John 5.39. Read the actual text of Scripture carefully and you will see that Jesus is faulting his accusers for *not understanding what the Scriptures were saying*! In other words, for playing fast and loose with the Bible.

"Does this not imply that what Jesus had to say was more important the the words of the Scriptures?"
- No it doesn't, and that's exactly what the Pharisees were doing, playing loosey-goosey with Law and the Prophets to produce whatever answer they wanted (e.g., 'corban', definitions of 'work' etc).

"The Word is no longer confined to a Book, holy as that Book may be, but "became flesh and lived amongst us"
- it never was "confined to a Book"; it is always God's Word, to be uttered as He sovereignly decides. You will *never find a place where Christ repudiated the Tanakh.

"Scripture (via the intruction of St.Paul and the Gospel writers) is a commentary on the reality of The Word made Flesh in Christ, now availble through the Eucharist"
- the eucharist is incomprehensible and nullified without the Scriptures. Bread and wine are meaningless in themselves. The NT is not a "commentary" on the Incarnation and Atonement (the latter being the fundamental meaning of the eucharist that you seemed to have missed: the Lord's supper is a proclamation - words again! - of the Cross, not the Incarnation) but the very vehicle through which these realities are known. The Apostles died long, long ago; but the Holy Spirit ensured that their Christ-given mandate would be continued through the New Testament.
""Do this to re-member me" - to bring "The WORD" to life in your own experience! This is why making Eucharist is important to the Body of Christ. Therein we become His Body in the Church."
- No, it is faith in Christ crucified and risen that engrafts us to the Lord. Anglicans believe that we 'feed on Christ in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving', not in our stomachs by gastric juices. (As a child I was told some fantastic Catholic stories about bleeding hosts etc, but I was too much of a reprobate to believe them.)

Anonymous said...

The Eucharist derives it's authority from the Scriptures themselves, which are the Word of God written. It is the command of Scripture to "take and eat" and thus the Eucharist does not stand seperate from the Scriptures, nor is it in catholic theology a seperate source of authority from the Scriptures, let alone a source of new revelations contrary to Scripture.

The Word written and the Word made flesh are one and the same Word. To deny the supreme authority of the Word written is to deny the supreme authority of Word made flesh. To set them against each other is to set Christ against Himself.

Anonymous said...

The West today suffers under the soft totalitarianism of a regressive egalitarianism which proclaims the equality of all persons, but in reality elevates some persons to the status of special victims requiring affirmative discrimination. This model of "justice" is not derived from the Scriptures, but from the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School and the New Left. It is proclaimed today by powerful political forces as the only acceptable model of justice. It is imposed by force, and refusal to comply is punished severely. In the US two Christian bakers have had their business destroyed and their livelihood stolen by the State for simply obeying their conscience and faith by refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. That is not fairness, equality, or justice.

It is these persecuted faithful who should be the subject of the Church's concern for justice, not the rich and powerful homosexual lobby backed up by the armed state.

The Church throughout the West is now under pressure to conform to this false "justice" which is the primary source and reason for the campaign for both SSM and SSB in the Church, both globally and here in NZ.

The Church, to be faithful to it's King, must resist this false understanding of justice and resist any attempts to force or brow beat the Church to conform to it's dictates.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,
Must say that there has been some very informative and enlightening postings on your site over the last few days,particularly by Shawn and Brendan.Shawn's last posting hits the nail on the head.
However,I struggle with some of the statements you make in your blog,eg.
'.....but consider recognition of unions recognized by the state.....'. Why on earth would the CHURCH want to recognize and thus validate,situations made legal by the state,but which are condemned by The Word of God(which form Her Holy Writ that it is Her function to protect and proclaim),the Doctrine of Her Constitution and 2000 years of Her teachings and traditions when no one can give any substantive or objective reason to do so.What would be the legal ramifications of doing so???? Could they claim ORDINATION rights???
Secondly,if we wish to remain committed to being a Catholic Church,
I would feel that our appropriate and loving response to relationships which
do not fit the universal Christian Doctrine;should be one of not proclaiming Graceless Truth nor Truthless Grace.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I see a clear preference for conservative, sola-scriptura practitioners using your site, so, as I am on holiday with Diana, I will leave this thread to them. It seems you might almost have enough followers to form a small outpost of GAFCON/FOCA here in little old New Zealand. However, I don't think things will go all their way by any means. However, it probably helps for them to clarify their thoughts onm ADU.
Happy Blogging!

Father Ron said...

Peter, I can only believe that you have blocked my latest posts. I take the hint and will not bother you any more. May you enjoy the comments of those who accept your own theological position. Happy Blogging!

MichaelA said...

""You read the Scriptures and they tell you..... But I tell you......". Does this not imply that what Jesus had to say was more important the the words of the Scriptures?"

Not at all. Jesus is the author of all the Scriptures, the Old Testament and the New. He had the write to declare new scripture. The new scripture did not conflict with the old scripture (despite how his words might sound when taken out of context) but were simply further parts of God's revelation.

Jesus also delegated the power to write further scripture to his apostles, just as he had delegated such power to the Old Testament prophets. But he delegated it to no-one else, certainly not to us now.

"The Word is no longer confined to a Book"

In the sense you mean, yes it is. What you really want is permission to disregard what is written in the Book when it suits you. Sure, that's tempting. But no, we don't get that right.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I have checked on the blogpost site itself and I cannot see where I have blocked any comment from you (other than those comments from time to time which I report to you that either I have done so or have redacted before publishing). Certainly over the past few days I have published several comments from you.

So, I wonder if, in the mysteries of the internet, you have attempt to post some comments which have simply gotten lost?

To be very clear: I try very hard to have no preference, no bias for or against comments posted here regarding which part of the theological or political or both spectrum they represent; but I do have a bias - as you know - for comments which cross a line re commenting on issues/commenting on commenters ... though I am not always very good at knowing how to draw the line.

I object to your claim re a preference for comments in one direction only: Juan Kinnear recently posted a comment here which is profoundly, thoughtfully against the majority of commenters here on the current threads. I am very glad that he and you are readers and commenters here.

Anonymous said...


In fact Jesus was not overturning Scripture at all in the Sermon on the mount. That is why he begins by saying "You have heard that it was said."

This phrase, which is repeated several times makes it clear that He was dealing with oral traditions concerning Scripture and distortions of Scripture, not the Scriptures themselves, which is why He clarifies further on when he says "“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets."

I know of no Christian theology, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic or Orthodox that claims the Bible is merely a guide, now replaced by the Eucharist. That is not Roman Catholic teaching, and it is not Anglican teaching, or even Anglo-Catholic teaching. In fact the idea that we can get new revelations from the Eucharist that are contrary to the Word written looks more like a form of Gnosticism.

BrianR said...

Shawn writes: "I know of no Christian theology, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic or Orthodox that claims the Bible is merely a guide, now replaced by the Eucharist. That is not Roman Catholic teaching, and it is not Anglican teaching, or even Anglo-Catholic teaching. In fact the idea that we can get new revelations from the Eucharist that are contrary to the Word written looks more like a form of Gnosticism."

I think you are entirely right. It is quite a bizarre idea without any dogmatic foundation in the teaching of any church, but one that Ron regularly alludes to. I think it may have its basis in a certain stream of liberal (Anglican) Catholicism which asserts simultaneously a radical scepticism about the New Testament as well as a kind of atemporal sacramentalism which believes that the Kingdom of God is focused through the Eucharist. Don Carson may have encountered this when doing his PhD on John in Cambridge under Barnabas Lindars. Lindars was both an Anglo-Catholic monk and a biblical scholar steeped in Bultmannian scepticism. Carson recalls having dinner once with his Doktorvater and asking him a little provocatively (my paraphrase): 'How do you reconcile the strong catholic doctrine you profess when saying the mass on Sunday with the scepticism you express during the week?' (sc. 'Did Jesus really say/do this?' etc). Carson remarked that Lindars fell silent for a long time and then replied that he didn't know how to. Carson recalls this as a watershed for himself as a young scholar and no longer was he intimidated by the edifice of liberal scholarship: it had no secure foundation.
Maybe Lindars was just a creature of habit, not able to think through his position, having been brought up as an Anglo-Catholic before he learned from his German master to doubt. Certainly the Episcopal Church in the US historically maintained a (more or less) conservative liturgy while believing and preaching a contradictory, even heretical, message.
A more consistent character (but not entirely so) is Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh who went down the pathway of:
1. traditional Anglo-Catholic in Scotland;
2. liberal-radical in Massachusetts;
3. now an open atheist.
However, he kept his atheism secret long enough, until he was retired and safely pensioned. He never got round to resigning his orders.