Monday, January 30, 2017

The Doctrine of Marriage 2017: the C of E bishops have spoken! [Updated]

UPDATE: Cranmer has one of his best ever posts on the C of E HOB statement. It includes these sobering words for ACANZP to ponder as it makes its own deliberations this year and next:

"This understanding of marriage is rooted in the Bible and developed in the Church’s tradition: it is revered and respected in its sacramental character, embodying, as it does, natural law and the growth of holiness. Christian marriage is not simply a corporeal contract between two individuals: it is in its nature a union of one man with one woman. Holy matrimony is a natural institution predisposed to the purpose of making of “one flesh”, which reflects the covenant relationship between Christ and his Church. This is “doctrinal coherency”: so much flows from it (and proposals to redefine it [see Appendix 1]) that there is a risk of mistaking the earthen vessel for the treasure it contains."

Wednesday 1 February: My attention has been drawn to this robust response to the bishops' document. I do not find it especially convincing ... are we in an analogous situation to Luther's Europe?

And (my bold):

"And in the dimness of that provisionality it becomes apparent that there is simply no corporate appetite or collective belief in the right to amend Canon B30. And since Anglican polity determines that there can be no liturgy which is contrary to the teaching of the church – we pray what we believe – there will be no development of same-sex marriage blessings. The reasons couldn’t be clearer ..."

I invite you to read the whole post (and/or bishops' document) to find out what those reasons are. Spoiler alert: unity is involved!

ORIGINAL Here are three scenarios which seem to be in play at the moment around the Anglican Communion. Any of the three might be in play for ACANZP though our General Synod discussions to date have been focused on Scenario 3.

Scenario 1: Stick with the doctrine of marriage (notably, a blessed sexual relationship uniting a man and a woman in a bond for life) as taught in Scripture, continued in the tradition of the church, while making accommodation to one degree or another for the presence in the life of the church of partnered gays and lesbians. See further below.

Scenario 2: Change the doctrine of marriage (to equalise heterosexual and homosexual marriage) and take the consequences (i.e. that people will leave either for other churches or to form a church which maintains the previous doctrine of marriage or both; yet some may stay, seeing what unfolds). I think this is more or less TEC's situation: "more or less" because, as I understand it, TEC has not formally changed its doctrine of marriage while effectively changing it by formally providing liturgies for gay marriage.

Scenario 3: Change the structure of the church in order to provide two ordered contexts in which some effective difference in understanding of marriage is possible within the one church.  A sticking point here (as I interpret things) is that we Down Under are uncertain whether to moot something akin to Scenario 1 (e.g. no change in doctrine of marriage but blessing of same sex partnerships is possible) or Scenario 2 (change doctrine of marriage in one of the contexts and hope the other context will actually live with that).

What I find interesting, even over this past weekend reflecting on some responses to a report I mention below as well as to a Twitter exchange between some colleagues in ACANZP, is that there does not seem to be a Scenario 4 in play:

Scenario 4: respect for the church maintaining its doctrines means that those wishing to equalise marriage (homosexual, heterosexual) form a new church in order to enshrine a new doctrine. Why not, I ask?

Scenario 1 is now in play in the Church of England. The bishops of that church have published a report which is summarised in this press release (for link to report and for release, go here): my bold,

"The Church of England’s law and guidance on marriage should be interpreted to provide “maximum freedom” for gay and lesbian people without changing the Church’s doctrine of marriage itself, bishops are recommending.  
A report from the House of Bishops to be discussed by the Church’s General Synod next month upholds the teaching, recognised by canon law, that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.  
But it also concludes that the current advice on pastoral provision for same-sex couples - which allows clergy to provide informal prayers for those marrying or forming a civil partnership - is not clear enough and should be revisited.  
It also calls for a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for lesbian and gay people and those attracted to people of the same sex throughout the Church of England. 
The paper recommends that bishops prepare a substantial new teaching document on marriage and relationships to replace or expand upon documents drawn up in the 1990s.  
And it calls for new guidance to be prepared about the kind of questions put to candidates for ordination - irrespective of their sexual orientation - about their lifestyle.  
It also speaks of the need for the Church to repent of the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirm the need to stand against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.  
The report from the House of Bishops attempts to sum up the Church’s position after a two-year process of shared conversations on the subject of human sexuality, involving clergy and laity."

Of course there is a host of reaction, helpfully captured by Thinking Anglicans here. I particularly commend two blogs listed there for consideration, here and here. I also commend this post.

Here be my thoughts (without having read every word available to us):

a. There is a powerful movement amongst commentators and commenters for change to the doctrine of marriage, yet that power does not rest on theological authority in Scripture and tradition inspiring or requiring such change. I detect little ecclesiastical self-awareness of the change to the nature of the church which would be consequent on changing the doctrine of marriage (let alone change to the membership of the church as it flies apart into schism).

b. Thus (1) I admire the C of E bishops for standing firm. and I admire them for clearly knowing that doctrine is doctrine and that pastoral responses to people's varying situations require the maximum possible mercy and compassion within the constraints imposed by doctrine.

c. Thus (2, despite 1) I wonder if we will never hear the end to this matter until we actually have some form of Anglican church in which gay marriage is doctrinally equal to straight marriage.

d. Frankly, it would be theologically better for such a church to be a new church with both a new doctrine of marriage and a new doctrine of authority than to take the old church with its doctrine of authority and pretend that the new doctrine of marriage fitted that doctrine of authority. But I support fully our current Down Under attempt to avoid a "new church" if at all possible by restructuring our current church.

e. Incidentally the protests against the C of E bishops deciding what they have decided are very revealing: they show an episcopal church in which some members are restless about its episcopate even when the episcopate does what the episcopate is meant to do which is to uphold the doctrine of the church. If that is not a contradiction, I do not know what is!

I am interested in your comments on the specifics of the C of E situation. I am not interested in any comments about the Anglican church there or here going to the dogs - we have had plenty of such comments here and there is no need for repetition.


Anonymous said...

Scenario 5: A church could-- (a) suspend consideration of all practises not traditional anywhere in 1950 (eg SSM, lay presidency at the Eucharist, communion without baptism, etc); (b) seek an unpolarised and phenomenological description of the way authority is actually being exercised and followed in the church today; (c) elicit corrections to that description and lively discussion of it; (d) adopt a new general principle and practise (NGPP) of authoritative governance; (e) allow those who cannot accept the NGPP to leave without penalty, and (f) again permit consideration of untraditional practises in accord with the NGPP.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Bowman, but short of you and I running the Anglican Communion (and all member churches anxiously looking to follow our (ahem) Executive Orders), is Scenario 5 possible in the foreseeable church either in the Communion or within any of its member churches?

Anonymous said...

Is I have understood it right, scenario 1, which does seem to be the final decision of the CofE Bishops, does not allow for either SSM or SSB. In short, no change to the doctrine of marriage in any form. If that is the case, the Bishops have decided wisely, and bravely given the pressure they were under to decide for change.

Peter Carrell said...

That is my understanding too, Shawn!

Father Ron said...

My first comment simply vanished while being presented, so I'll try again!

If you people think that this is the end for the implementation of equitable treatment of lawfully married same-sex couples in the Church of England, do think again. And do take a look at the 'Thinking Anglicans' website, where you will find the latest statement by Bishop Paul Bowles (+ Liverpool) and others on this latest eru[ption onto the scene in the U.K.

The Church of England bishops have never been known to be proactive on issues of common human rights and dignity. It took a long time for them to react appropriately to the need for the abolition of slavery; the acceptance of contraception; and the ordination of women as priests. Look how long it took them to then follow up with the ordination of women bishops!

NO. It takes a revolution to kick-start the Church of England bishops into initiating proceedings that the general public has decided upon and has brought into the public arena for scrutiny. Now that the British Government has legalised 'Equal Marriage', the Church of England Bishops find themselves unable to meet this human dilemma with either grace or decency. Despite their pleas for parishioners to treat LGBTI people with the respect they deserve, they are still unwilling to grant the Blessing of the Church on monogamous and faithful same-sex relationships. They opposed Civil Partnerships; and only when the prospect of Civil Marriage of Gays became a possibility, did they then debate whether they might have made a mistake in rebuffing C.P.s.

It has taken other Western Provinces of the Anglican Communion to bring justice to bear on many controversial human issues of vital importance. Women's Ordination - in which ACANZP was an early participant - has only just been fully implemented by the Church of England, decades after our first woman bishop was ordained in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It may be that our Province of the Church will once again initiate the Blessing of Same-Sex Married Couples - in order to validate similar action by the Church of England! Roll on ACANZP General Synod 2018!

Anonymous said...

Peter, do you think this is likely to have any bearing on ACANZP's upcoming GS?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I can only say, "Hopefully"!

Anonymous said...

Peter, why is Scenario 5 less likely than your (d)?

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

My (d) proposal, Bowman, is already within the conceptual apparatus of many Anglicans (whether contemplating the same or antipathetic to the thought of it). Your proposal, elegant, excellent and ecclesiologically sound though it is, is not within the conceptual apparatus of many Anglicans (as far as I can tell) and its several steps is potentially a barrier to it being readily grasped by a broad swathe of Anglicans. I also suspect it is not agreeable to Anglicans already committed to this and that which it requires to be set aside in order for there to be a "1950" reset.

Of course if only we were all desperate for unity at nearly any price we might contemplate the costly task of embracing the work required for your option 5 to be followed through.

Bryden Black said...

Dear Ron; I certainly have to admire the way you continue to plough on. But then others also plough on—but in other directions. And in the interests of all those who put their hands to any sorts of plough, it might help to parse this characteristic comment of yours, if only to expose the sorts of material (analogously) the respective ploughs are made of. So; in [square brackets] some parsing of your comment, bits quoted to give context...

“If you people [who?!] think that this is the end for the implementation of equitable treatment of lawfully married same-sex couples [it is this very phrase that requires addressing. For what is “equity”? And how might it have relevance to “marriage”, as well as the “law”? My own submission to our own NZ Commission pointed out this curious anomaly. The then Bill’s preamble stated the governing principles of the Bill to be equality and non-discrimination. And yet the sections that followed only provided for the further ‘marriage’ between two men or two women. On what basis were there no subsequent sections for the provision of ‘marriage’ among, say, two women and a man, or two men and a woman, or among a number of men and women; that is, why are not polygamy, polyandry and polyamory not being legislated for— on the basis of equality and non-discrimination? Perhaps because the Estate of Holy Matrimony is far more than the business of consenting coupling. The nature of marriage simply may not be addressed adequately via such language as “equality” and “non-discrimination”, however laudable those features may be. Far more is necessarily going on.] ...”

“The CoE bishops have never been known to be proactive on issues of common human rights and dignity. [It’s this last phrase we especially have to examine closely. For while the Gospel down the centuries certainly and notably bequeathed to the world, via the doctrine of Imago Dei, a unique Christian understanding, the sense that human being is worthy of great dignity and so entitled to certain protections etc, the late 20th C and now the 21st has witnessed a radical (and that is a vital word) morphing of the notion of ‘rights’. This is now far removed from its Gospel origins and sits rather within the ideas of autonomous self-determination and the self-positing of personal human subjects who construct/define themselves any which way they desire, individually and/or collectively. Just because words sound similar does NOT mean we are speaking the same language any more.] It took a long time for them to react appropriately [this key word merely assumes some framework. BUT IT’S THIS VERY CONCERN OF A FRAMEWORK THAT IS ITSELF UNDER DEBATE] to the need for the abolition of slavery; the acceptance of contraception; and the ordination of women as priests. Look how long it took them to then follow up with the ordination of women bishops! [Such lists are common in these debates; but not much effort is then made to show how exactly each category is commensurate with others. I have often pointed out how slick 9 second grabs, like such lists, just don’t equate to careful dissection of the non-sequiturs ...] To be continued ...

Bryden Black said...


“NO. It takes a revolution [we surely do live in revolutionary times; but WHOSE revolution is it really?!] to kick-start the CoE bishops into initiating proceedings that the general public [what has this milieu necessarily to do with the Community of the Kingdom of God?] has decided upon and has brought into the public arena for scrutiny [yet by what criteria exactly are we supposedly to adjudicate? An enormous amount of work has been done in the area of moral theology and ethics to point out the radical divergences nowadays between moral discourses in our pluralistic world: we’ve only to mention Alasdair MacIntyre. Sadly, and especially in the realm of the ‘chattering classes’, such careful discrimination is mostly lacking.] Now that the British Government has legalised 'Equal Marriage', the CoE Bishops find themselves unable to meet this human dilemma [indeed; it is a dilemma of great import and consequence: agreement here!] with either grace or decency [mmm...; that again depends very much upon one’s own initial perspective Ron]. Despite their pleas for parishioners to treat LGBTI people with the respect they deserve [this is a very tricky one frankly. For again, what exactly IS “respect”—if in fact our world views are so incompatible ...? How do we agree not merely to disagree, but to disagree at the most essential level of what constitutes “human being” itself? For that IS what is at stake actually], they are still unwilling to grant the Blessing of the Church on monogamous and faithful same-sex relationships [back to the very definition of the nature of Holy Matrimony: is it but a contractual arrangement; or does it reflect profoundly something ‘extra’? The very relationship God has with his People/Christ has with his Church—?]. ...

“It has taken other Western Provinces of the Anglican Communion to bring justice to bear ... [Lastly, while to be sure “justice” IS the catch-cry of some/many, the prior question as to what exactly constitutes the form of “justice” is so frequently side-stepped, as if we all had the same assumed understanding. AND WE SIMPLY DO NOT. Back to the likes of MacIntyre and his entire legacy, and the basic matter of FRAMEWORKS.]

So; thank you Ron for once more highlighting so well for us all what is really at stake here. My prayer for our own GS 2018 is for less heat and more clarifying light.

Anonymous said...

Liberal "justice" and Biblical justice are not the same.

Liberal "equality" and Biblical equality are not the same.

The Liberal understanding of marriage and the Biblical understanding of marriage are not the same.

The Whig conception of history is not a description of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I have no problem if an Anglican-style church is founded which provides in doctrine and liturgy support and provision for "equal marriage." Your passion for an Anglican church which does that may or may not be possible to be fulfilled within an existing Anglican church or it may need a new church framed around that doctrine and liturgy.

What I have a great deal of trouble over is myself being able to sign up to such a church (whether in formally signing declarations of adherence and submission as a clergyperson or in metaphorically signing by participating fully in the liturgical life of such a church). It is now not clear to me, in respect of your comment above, whether your preferred Anglican church can make room for me!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
I think your comment below is a better comment if we offload from it a piece of incidental criticism.

"Go for it, Ron! There are thousands of denominations, another one won't matter. Isn't that what being a Catholic is all about - everybody having his or her own say, everybody a Pope (or Popess) if others don't agree with you?

..... or maybe Catholicism is something to do with holding to the consentient witness to the truth down the ages ....

I will say this: biblical truth is systemic. That means every part is related to every other part and corruption in one part will soon enough lead to corruption in every other part, just as poison is carried around the body by the bloodstream.

If you change the doctrine of marriage from that promulgated by Christ in the Scriptures (), you will end up by (a) denying the legitimacy and normativeness of biblical language for God (a regular target for feminists who hate the idea of 'Father God'); denying the Trinity itself in which the Father-Son relation is a central component. Unitarianism and Unitarian-tinged liberal Protestantism (such as much of Tec) show the truth of this assertion.

Father Ron said...

May I draw the attention of other commentators on this thread to the fact that the doctrine of marriage, said by conservatives to have been unchanged since its original formulation by the Church of England, has, in fact, been changed to reflect (1) the realisation that not everyone married in the Church of England is now expected to intentionally increase the population, and (2) the understanding that a person may be (re)married in the Church, having been legally divorced by their first spouse.

These are two ways in which 'the doctrine of marriage' has been compromised if not actually changed. Equal marriage is just one more step in the process - not denying the validity of one man and one woman being joined together in matrimony as being the 'norm'; but rather, extending the process to same-gender couples who pledge themselves to lifelong fidelity.

For Bryden's benefit, this has absolutely nothing to do with a man marrying his dog, polygamy or polyamory. Just two persons pledging a monogamous, legal and loving relationship

Anonymous said...

"These are two ways in which 'the doctrine of marriage' has been compromised if not actually changed."

Neither change compromises the teaching of Jesus that marriage is one man and one women. They may be changes, arguably, but neither can be said to be outright denials of Biblical teaching. Biblical teaching allows for divorce is some cases, and says nothing at all about whether a marriage is valid or not of children are not produced.

" Equal marriage is just one more step in the process"

It's not "equal" marriage, it's homosexual marriage. And no, it's not "one more step" at all, it is a radically different road entirely, which, unlike the "changes" you speak of, is clearly not supported by Scripture, and radically departs from what Jesus Himself defines marriage as being.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I appreciate the way you have put the case in your most recent comment above. It is potentially a way forward for agreement that we think of "extending" the definition of marriage than of "changing it."

But it is difficult for those of us who do not think of your first examples as making a radical change (or extension) to the understanding of marriage as, tout simple, a union of male and female to make the further extension you seek, of denying that difference in gender is intrinsic to marriage.

There are other ways we might think of a covenanted, monogamous, loving relationship between any two people than marriage (friendship, companionship, fraternity/sorority, partnership). And theologically there would be more likelihood that we might reach agreement if that was what we were talking about!

Father Ron said...

Shawn, where in the Bible does Jesus allow re-marriage after divorce?

Father Ron said...

Peter, the Church did have the chance of recognising Civil Partnership for two S/S persons. However it refused to do so. To my mind, that was a regrettable mis-step. The chance for compromise, unfortunately, is now over. People in this situation have since been granted state-sponsored, legal Marriage. How does the Church now deal with this reality? Does it expel such people?

Andrei said...

"...said by conservatives to have been unchanged since its original formulation by the Church of England

I think you will find Fr Ron the institution of marriage predates the Church of England by millennia - indeed it pre-dates England and the English by millenia :)

"... the Church did have the chance of recognising Civil Partnership for two S/S persons. However it refused to do so. To my mind, that was a regrettable mis-step. The chance for compromise, unfortunately, is now over. People in this situation have since been granted state-sponsored, legal Marriage."

As a matter of historical record that compromise was made in the civil arena but it wasn't enough for the revisionists and nothing less than total surrender demanded and given

Of course I personally do not recognize the New Zealand issued marriage certificate as anything other than an expensive sheet of toilet paper - my daughter married in Australia in a ROCOR Church where real marriage is still possible, it not having been totally trashed there yet.

But in any case all that is required is a Church wedding since under NZ Law cohabiting for two years incurs the same liabilities and rights as marriage so why bother with an utterly worthless bit expensive Government issued bit of paper for a pseudo marriage?

Anonymous said...

Peter, those who have been framing the debates of the past generation as quarrels about the nature of authority in the Communion have been right. Scenario 5 pursues that thought, not to the grand design of an organised lobby someplace, but to that cunning of history or divine providence which does not need any human intention to reach its inevitable result.

Much of what has been debated has arisen from inflated authority claims that have failed to win broader acceptance. A relative peace will come when those claims are seen to have been deflated by simple non-recognition. That is, those who truly want to get on with the life of the Church *as Anglicans* will eventually ignore the least accepted authority claims and base their common lives on the more modest authority claims that are actually accepted in ordinary practice. They will have no other choice but to do so.

It is not surprising that, as you say, those who live and die for the more extravagant expressions of authority do not now contemplate their inevitable loss of reach. Even now they sometimes write long jeremiads, often intemperate, and sometimes eloquent, on our terrible, tragic failure to agree with them. Nevertheless, we will not agree with them, we will get on with being the Church anyway, and that will be the end of the matter. The result will be mere Christianity.

The dynamic is already at work in the threads here. We see it when Father Ron affirms that the scriptures "contain all things necessary to salvation" but denies that they are a blueprint for a restoration of the Church to the limitations of the C1. We see it when any of us affirm that local synods have a narrow and useful regulative function, but deny that they can make any new doctrine.

In the future, some diligent historian will describe what happened during our own lives and times. Between the covers of a plump monograph, there will be descriptions of myriad persons and movements, writings and speeches, votes and events that could never be mentioned in a brief comment such as my own here. For this reason, that comprehensive tome will be acclaimed as indispensable, surpassing all previous efforts, essential for every library, etc. It will sound like Scenario 5.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I think Andrei is right: both here (Civil Unions) and in the UK (Civil Partnerships) even if the church had compromised at that point in legal evolution we would still be faced with the question of legal same sex marriage.

I am not aware of any church which is advocating expulsion of same sex married couples, though I suppose it might happen in the Exclusive Brethren!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I have no problem with your last comment which I understand to mean that (to [not] coin a phrase) the arc of Anglican history will bend towards Scenario 5. My problem has been with the thought that somehow we might proactively bend the church in the present to embrace Scenario 5 via the usual routes of commissions, motions and study groups!

I also understand your comment to mean that even if a synod here or a convention there approves things which look like doctrinal change, in the long term, the orthodoxy of the church will nevertheless prevail through the sincere beliefs of the people expressed in regular, faithful practice.

However I would also want to hesitate slightly: expressed sometimes on this bog has been the reminder that sometimes the church has become weakened through its internal bickering and then overun by external forces (cf. North Africa). We Anglicans should be careful not to presume that God will also be patient with our existence while "mere Christianity" is formed in our midst.

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Ron once more for the push-back in your comment(s), which once more enable us to see more clearly the rationalization(s) of your position. Now; most of us are engaged in such rationalizing moves, or arguments. It’s just a case of which comes first, which predominates: the end position we are seeking, or the means to reach it?! And so whose arguments might cut it, and whose might be inadequate, or actually illegitimate. That said, I’ll make five comments on your responses.

A. You are absolutely right once more to highlight the matter of “change”. You have already used the word “revolution”, and I have highlighted already the basic question of WHOSE revolution? For I truly suspect that a number engaged in these debates do not appreciate the roots of the change(s) that is/are and so have been afoot. I mentioned last time the crucial issue of human rights - which I note you’ve simply dodged ... But it may not be avoided nor again stand unacknowledged, and notably its own seismic change of rationale. More basically of course is the entire question of “change” itself, and our perception of it. That’s one element of Shawn’s insistence on raising the matter of “Whig History”. At the risk of boring you (and/or other readers) I’d say this.

One major stimulus of the emergence of the discipline of sociology in the late 18th C was to try to determine the causes behind the change(s) in societies from ‘traditional’ ones to ‘modern’ ones. Yet that very question was also to a large extent couched from within another more basic assumption, an evaluative one, which decreed such a change/changes was/were “progressive”, that these ‘developments’ enhanced human flourishing. Just so, the sorts of historiography we see from say Owen Chadwick and his analysis of 19th C society and the rise of secularism and onto now say Charles Taylor and his magnum opus, The Secular Age (2007). Nor should we discount the important roles of such ‘fathers’ as Comte and Spenser, let alone Marx. In all of this, we’ve constantly to be alert to the mix of description and prescription. Frankly, I seldom see such nuances in your use of language in your comments - which prompted my careful parsing exercise last time (which was far from exhaustive).

B. Onto now some specifics. You mention @ February 2, 2017 at 3:06 PM two things which you claim have changed, and then you use such alleged changes to extrapolate to the desire for further change. Yet (in line with Andrei’s delightful cutting to quick - pun!) you simply overlook the key distinction between changes by degree and changes in kind ... That’s the first thing. Then secondly, the claims themselves. Confining ourselves to CoE history alone (pace Andrei!), if I recall correctly, the founder of our church wanted an annulment from the pope of his marriage to Catherine, not an infrequent request, one gathers. And made even more frequent by the current practice of the RCC. Although still not quite as common as “divorce”, it is certainly starting to resemble the same ‘animal’ by another name ... I.e. I don’t think an Anglican theology of marriage was ever quite in the “indissolubility” camp—even as we surely vow “till death do us part”: the intention certainly goes in that direction. Yet we all know s*** happens, either Henrician or this week in the Family Court. And so, a pastoral ‘accommodation’ has always existed, by degrees.

C. As for marriage of older folk: I have already stated on ADU a number of times the sheer non-sequitur nature of this line of argument. The infertility of an older couple, husband and wife, just may not be equated with the infertility of a s/s couple. The latter is essentially different in kind. Nor will I repeat details of the case now ...


Bryden Black said...

D. As for the ridiculous mention of a “dog”, I do not think the magistrate in Brazil had such a thing in mind when granting his licence recently to JUST SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT as is precluded by our own recent NZ legislation. And so, the logic of my own submission remains, and remains unanswered—not surprisingly, since there is no answer once the obvious is pointed out ... Back therefore to the entire matter of “rationalizations”.

E. Some “compromises” are certainly possible, even praiseworthy. The problem emerges however when things change, especially when the rationale for the thing that has newly come about itself morphs beyond recognition. Abortion in the USA is a case in point. I quote an American theologian: “When the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized permissive abortion forty-four years ago this month [January], abortion supporters argued that abortion was a sad necessity. As such, it needed to be made safe, legal, and rare. Now it’s celebrated as a sacred right that demands veneration from the whole culture, including the millions of ordinary people who see this kind of officially blessed homicide as a gravely evil act.” WHATEVER one’s actual view of the matter of abortion itself, catch the sort of “difference in kind” I am suggesting Ron ...?

So; whatever “scenario” eventuates in ACANZ&P, our publically debated “rationales” need to be of the sort where any compromise is clearly such that we are still in the world of “changes of degree”, not “in kind”. My own prognostication, for what it’s worth, however is not that hopeful, given the substance and forms of debate to date. Peter Carrell @ February 2, 2017 at 9:44 AM and @ February 2, 2017 at 5:22 PM puts his finger near the reality.

Bryden Black said...

Kia ora Bowman. Re your comment of February 3, 2017 at 7:06 AM

One key feature of any hypothetical future church historian’s/theologian’s analysis will surely derive from the constitutional documents of those organizations that arise. Specifically, we have in our current ACANZ&P explicit Fundamental Provisions and Further Provisions (in Maori and in English), which reflect the claim that our Church believes in the Trinity and is a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (the two opening WHEREAS’s of our Constitution). Not a bad beginning!

My concern however is this. It is not difficult to imagine our 21st C throwing up in NZ organizations which also seek continuity with just such claims, yet which phenomenologically are just rather different in belief and practice. Furthermore, as per the Reformation, there will likely be conflicting claims as to who is an expression of “the true Church”. Nor is this hypothetical exactly. ACNA versus TEC reflects just such a scenario already. And by 2075 - should the Lord tarry - I’d imagine finally either one or the other would still be in existence, not both ... Sheer reality (Providence?!) will therefore have determined who is indeed “the true Church” up your way. [Unless of course we all become in Communion with the See of Rome for some reason ... Apologies Andrei ...!]

Anonymous said...

"My concern however is this..."

Bryden, I cannot quite make out the concern to which you point.

Since no Anglican church makes claims as exclusive as those of the C16 Church of Rome, I do not see why ordinary Anglicans would be asking which could be regarded as the only "true Church."

"And by 2075 - should the Lord tarry - I’d imagine finally either one or the other [of TEC and ACNA] would still be in existence, not both ... Sheer reality (Providence?!) will therefore have determined who is indeed *the true Church* up your way."

My experience of the TEC/ACNA coexistence is one inspiration for Scenario 5. While I do not lack empathy for the rather elevated passions of the past generation, they are unlikely to endure to 2050, let alone 2075.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

"Unless of course we all become in Communion with the See of Rome for some reason..."

As you know, of course, Bryden, prediction is worthwhile as a way of modeling our understanding of the present, but is a most unreliable guide to the future. In the C18, it was clear to certain American observers that the religious future of this continent was the Unitas Fratrum. Why? The pietism that had inspired Wesley seemed very attractive amid the Great Awakening; they were able to evangelize the myriad Germans in British America; they had the only consistently successful mission to the aboriginal nations in the interior. These were sound arguments about the strongest forces then in play. One could have disagreed with them if it made one feel better, but one would have had no evident ground for doing so at the time. Nevertheless, at least some of Peter's readers are presently typing "Unitas Fratrum" into a search box.

[Skip Wikipedia, click here-- ]

So of course I will defer to you and others down under on NZ&P's religious landscape, even as I wonder whether anyone has yet identified the strong forces that are actually shaping it.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

"...our Church believes in the Trinity and is a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church... It is not difficult to imagine our 21st C throwing up in NZ organizations which also seek continuity with just such claims, yet which phenomenologically are just rather different in belief and practice..."

Bryden, perhaps we can this partially define this malaise as the unhappy marriage of two tendencies?

Some Anglicans-- the ones with which we more easily empathise, I suspect-- yearn for more inner coherence of head and heart, faith and practice. Very often, they would prefer that their churches live by theology that is *systematic* (or *dogmatic*) rather than *constructive* (or *topical*). When they search for something in our communal life that might make their preference authoritative for everyone, they often assert that all *Anglicans* both *are* and *should* be *Reformed*. Yet, for several reasons, such claims are often tacitly or explicitly rejected. One side of the malaise is that this disagreement has degenerated to a test of wills that offers no prospect of the coherence that was sought.

Meanwhile, other Anglicans yearn for less *bad religion*. They love the Bible, but reject the rejection of all other knowledge in its name. They value an ethos that broadens their connection to others, but distrust strong-willed moralism with a shallow, unreflective view of the self. They understand themselves to be leaven in the loaf of the world, but not a baked loaf distinct from a burnt one. They prefer worship that makes the sacred tangible to worship in which Christ is really present everywhere but in communion. They might use a theological system, but they do not have the temperamental need to. follow one. As might also be said in retrospect of certain Latitudinarians, we could say that they are trying to wriggle free of those distinctive thoughts of St Augustine of Hippo that are not ecumenically attested and are similar to those of Mani. But of course those thoughts are the heritage of the Western Church, and an intense preoccupation of the Reformed. These Anglicans take refuge in an ad hoc, *constructive* or topical approach that leads into such blind alleys as marriage with no room for *la difference*.

Bowman Walton

BrianR said...

And I am reminded that there are two kinds of people in the world: those that divide the world into two kinds and those who don't. I don't know anyone even of the most conservative systematic theology who doesn't accept the knowledge of physics, chemistry, mathematics etc - even if they demur at evolutionary biology or have many doubts about the protean character of modern psychology (I certainly do) or consider 'critical theory' as largely ideological rubbish (as I do) and not knowledge at all. Do conservatives have 'shallow, unreflective views of the self'? Well, the Puritans didn't - they were forever examining their conscience; but they have few spiritual descendants today. On this matter I won't cast aspersions or asperges. But judge for yourself what the "gay evensong" at Westcott House Theological College tells us about the "yearnings" of "other Anglicans" - or their "temperamental needs", whatever that means - presumably that truth is based on feelings ('felt needs'?) rather than facts?
As for the Fall and original sin: it's a bit of a slur to say this is Manicheeism rather than Romans. Matthew Fox's day has come and gone - but no doubt will come again in a different guise, since angelism is a persistent temptation to fallen (!) men and women. 'Love wins' and the sacralising of eros will always be popular where personal autonomy is held to be the summum bonum.

Father Ron said...

In the midst of all this moral philosophizing, and grand as it may appear on paper and in blogs (the book trade thrives on such ruminations), the theological nitty gritty lies in one's relationships to God - rather than high-minded philosophy.

I can only thank God for His/Her closeness in the sacramental life of the Church Catholic - which we, as Anglicans, have access to. To be with Christ in the Mass is to be influenced by the Divine Wisdom, compared to Whom, their is no human parallel. Jesus, mercy; Mary, Pray.

(Off, now, to Solem,n Evensong and Benediction)

Anonymous said...

"the theological nitty gritty lies in one's relationships to God"

The theological nitty gritty lies in the Bible, the revelation of Divine Wisdom.

Anonymous said...

"And I am reminded that there are two kinds of people in the world: those that divide the world into two kinds and those who don't."

It is telling Brian, that Matthew Fox (and his followers) decry what they claim to be "dualism" in the Western Church, yet about twenty years ago I read Fox's first big seller, a book called Original Blessing, and in the introduction he divides the Bible, and Christian theology, into two opposing camps, the Original Sin camp (bad) and the Original Blessing camp (good).

I can only assume self awareness is not one of his strong points!

Still working through the L part of TULIP, currently with the help of R.C. Sproul, but I'm growing more and more inclined to the view that Reformed theology generally hews the closest to Scripture of any other.

BrianR said...

“In the midst of all this moral philosophizing, and grand as it may appear on paper and in blogs (the book trade thrives on such ruminations), the theological nitty gritty lies in one's relationships to God - rather than high-minded philosophy.”
You have confused piety with theology. At least from Paul’s speech to the Areopagus, Christianity has always engaged the philosophies of the world, whether Stoicism and Epicureanism in Paul’s day, Neo-Platonism in Augustine’s or the Latin Averroists in Thomas’s. Today the battle is with Post-Christian Secular Personalism – the bastard child of Christian ethics that has repristinated some ancient romanticism about the self.

“I can only thank God for His/Her closeness in the sacramental life of the Church Catholic - which we, as Anglicans, have access to.”
I don’t know which hermaphrodite deity you are referring to: possibly Brahma? Christians don’t worship a bisexual god/ess; they serve and love the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose mother Mary is as human as everyone else, and who taught us how to think and speak of God and how to pray to Him. Anything else is only human vanity. As for the ‘branch theory’ of the Catholic Church, this is a 19th century Tractarian fantasy, explicitly repudiated by Rome in 1890.
“To be with Christ in the Mass is to be influenced by the Divine Wisdom, compared to Whom, their is no human parallel. Jesus, mercy; Mary, Pray.”
Wisdom in biblical thought (hokhmah, sophia) is always cognitive in character: it is about knowing and obeying the truth of God’s Word. It is not about supra-rational ecstasy, nor is wisdom acquired by ingesting bread and wine. Rather Christ declares blessed ‘those who hear the word of God and keep it’ (Luke 11.28), while Paul declares it is the Scriptures ‘which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim 3.15).

‘(Off, now, to Solemn Evensong and Benediction)’
Which is no doubt what they said the other night in Westcott House in Cambridge. I hope the chapel has been cleansed from the blasphemy.

Anonymous said...

Peter; I'm not particularly interested in this tediously trivial topic (while the thousands in Syria have their throats slit) but Fr Ron's comments seem (1) not to grasp Dr Black's careful comments (2) to suggest a god created in a human image (3) worse to suggest that God is transsexual (for non-linguists "gender" is a grammatical term only) (4) to say Christ is really present in a mass no Protestant, Roman, Greek (or anyone else in the church catholic other than perhaps the dwindling tiny number of NZ Anglo-Catholics) recognises (5) to be an aspiration to Christian utopia. Just sayin'.


Anonymous said...

So Bryden, much of the odium theologicum that hangs in the air wherever That Topic is discussed is the passionate hope of each tendency that it will finally be sawn apart from its historical twin. This, I suspect, is why you envision mitosis (eg TEC/ACNA) in NZ&P. But taken from their hothouses into the great outdoors, neither tendency flourishes as Anglicanism.

Apart from a few neglected exceptions (eg T. F. Torrance), the systems of the later Reformed, as distinct from our own reformed reformers, do not adequately motivate and inform the received Prayerbook practise. Neither the Reformed Episcopal Church nor the Free Church of England have flourished in their frigid independence, and there is no grounded reason to think that *this time will be different*. Indeed, Augustine scholar Phillip Cary (Anglican, evangelical) explains Luther's view of assurance in a way that points to an immovable obstacle: Prayerbook assurance grounded in God's promises in baptism and communion is eroded rather than nurtured by systems that rely on John Calvin's innovative *reflective faith*. If we doubt this, we could read such later Reformed as Charles Hodge criticising the danger that *sacerdotal religion* poses to assurance of salvation based on their whole exfoliated system. Or one could take note of insurgent Reformed of our own day (eg T. F. Torrance, Evangelical Calvinists, Federal Vision) who try to modify that system to accommodate the gospel sacraments as precisely gospel. Either way, following the Prayerbook for old times' sake whilst preaching and teaching a system that subverts it can hardly be energising, and that is what foredooms Anglican churches that fully identify with the later Reformed.

Meanwhile, ad hoc alternatives to those later Reformed systems have come and gone but these do not satisfy the mind's love of Christ, and may even lobotomise otherwise sound practise. Do you remember when process theology was thought to be the great cure for all ills? And with the ordination of women we lost most of those Anglo-Catholics who had kept theological head and liturgical heart together with Thomism. Those who remain find themselves trying to maintain a complex system just for the sheer beauty of it. In one sense, Beauty will save the world, but how does one do a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament with no more than a liberal theology of symbols? The Use of Sarum today seems to be in the hands of persons so experiential in their practise that they risk a sacrificium intellectum incompatible with the threefold cord of scripture, reason, and tradition. While we may agree that it is deformed to fear personal religious experience per se, the Religious Society of Friends is about as close as one can get to a working church based solely on it. Persons who follow only experience not anchored in traditions of gospel thought that enable a common life will never listen to even an ordained clergy, let alone a global communion with hierarchs and synods and enemies.

Postscript-- I typed all this yesterday before the comments just above were posted. But I assure you that I have in no way tampered with the witnesses. What they say is what they think.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Nick and Brian et al
I think you are reading too much into Ron's use of His/Her re God.
That need no more than acknowledging that the use of His may imply in today's English that God is masculine without the feminine.
Since humanity, male and female are created in the image of God, femaleness derives from God as much as maleness. (Surely no one here is implying there is a mysterious second creator responsible for the feminine in life?)
Unless a commenter outright says that God is without gender, I do not see why some remarks about Ron's presumed assumptions are deserved.

On the question of the Mass, Anglican-style, I might point out that the Solemn Mass at SMAA where Ron worships cheerfully (or solemnly, depending on one's perspective) incorporates Roman Mass words re offering of sacrifice into (or onto) the words of our NZPB liturgy. Whatever Rome might make of that, it is unfair to Ron and to SMAA's understanding of liturgy to imply that they think the mere words alone of our NZ Anglican liturgy do the heavy lifting required to support an Anglo-Catholic belief that they are taking part in the one Mass of the Church Catholic.

Of course, with a different mode of evangelical thinking, I find the mere words of our liturgy do a fine job of fulfilling the command of our Lord to "remember" his sacrifice once offered on the cross as part of the single church of Christ (there is only one!) offering the worship of his Body to the Head.

Ron, if you are reading this, while you were at Solemn Evensong last night, I was at the evening service of SJLSq, not far away in the Piano (an auditorium in central Chch) where we had an excellent exposition of the Word ...

BrianR said...

"That need no more than acknowledging that the use of His may imply in today's English that God is masculine without the feminine"

- "Today's English" is no different in this respect from the English of the 13th century. I was referring to the exclusive use of masculine pronouns for the God of Israel in the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek of the Old and New Testaments and the unanimous teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who deny Christ's language are false teachers. I do not know what it means to say that 'God is masculine and feminine' but I think that that assertion is almost certainly false. FWIW, I do not think God is either 'masculine' or 'feminine' (these words seem to refer to biological physiology, which can hardly refer to God), but we are given only one set of words to use in referring to God and we are not at liberty to change this. He is the Creator and creation is not panentheistic. God the Father is the Father of the Son; He is not the Mother. The imago Dei does not mean that God 'contains' maleness and femaleness ('the divine hermaphrodite') any more than he 'contains' genderless vegetative life. Genesis 1.27b does not explicate the divine image but introduces v. 28, the command to be fruitful and multiply, which is posited on sexual differentiation. Exactly how human beings are the 'image of God' is not clear but the purpose clause in v. 26b suggests it is in 'ruling over ... all the earth'.

As for paragraph 2, I'm not sure what that means. If Anglo-Catholics use different liturgies from the one they promised to use, I guess that's a matter for their conscience.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Fatherhood clearly has its source in the Godhead, from what you say above.
Whence does motherhood derive? From the same Godhead or from another source?

BrianR said...

"Fatherhood clearly has its source in the Godhead, from what you say above."

Not from my words - from Ephesians 3.15 (depending on how you translate 'patria'). If God was our 'heavenly Mother', I have more than a strong suspicion that Jesus would have told us so.

"Whence does motherhood derive? From the same Godhead or from another source?"

From the same source of daughterhood. (Are you saying that God the Son is also God the Daughter?) There is only one Creator, y'know. The church must stop anthropomorphising God - playing Feuerbach's game. Motherhood is a divine gift, like everything else in creation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I agree, who cares whether Rome recognises an Anglo Catholic Eucharist, but my understanding (possibly wrong) is that the vast majority of Anglicans don't accept "the magic bits". That's my basis for saying Protestants don't recognise Anglo Catholic Eucharist.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
The church must stop anthropomorphising God. Who could disagree with that!
Nevertheless I am completely unconvinced by your reluctance to find "motherhood" directly within the Godhead (who longs to gather Israel as a mother hen gathers her chicks) but only through the route of daughterhood.
Maybe I am alone here in that lack of conviction but I fail to see what good is done either to our understanding of God or to our relationships with one another to offer this demoting of the source of motherhood.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
As in the Catholic church where Thomism jostles with recent theological reflections on the "what" of the eucharist (e.g. Schillebeeckx), there is a range of views within Anglicanism (though I readily concede our range might be wider :) ). Some of us in Anglicanism are very happy to see (with Eastern Orthodox) an inexplicable mystery in the eucharist (and thus are unhappy with Anglo-Catholicism's attempt to explain the mystery in terms of transubstantiation). From that perspective we are very comfortable with the variety of eucharistic prayers in our modern prayer book. Others, at the more Protestant end of our spectrum are more comfortable with a lack of mystery: bread and win at communion are aides de memoire (and Anglo-Catholicism is errant for its explicit rejection of the Reformational Church of England's explicit promotion of that approach).

For myself, let me say, I would be comfortable receiving the Roman elements were Rome comfortable with my "mystery" approach (for which Anglo-Catholicism has the virtue that it will accept me as a supplicant at their altars!). Indeed I may have done so once or thrice, though I couldn't possibly say in public :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman, Bryden and Brian (sort of the "B" Trinity :) )

While it is not always a good idea to divide the world into two camps, I think Bowman is putting his finger on something with his comments above.

We do have some odd Anglicanisms roundabouts. There is a "Reformed" Anglicanism which professes to sit strongly to what the Anglican Reformers determined while sitting very lightly to regular celebrations of the liturgies (Mattins/Evensong/ Lord's Supper) which express that 16th century theology. There is a "Catholic" Anglicanism which sits very strongly with the liturgical form and wording of the Catholic Mass while sitting very lightly to any substantive theology bearing resemblance to (say) the substance of the Catechism let alone to Augustine's or Thomas' mighty works.
Somewhere in the middle is a whole bunch of Anglicans who think Anglicanism is a bit of a mix of the above two oddities :)

I know that is three groups ... but the two have a profound if not always acknowledged (let alone discerned) influence on the third ...

BrianR said...

"Nevertheless I am completely unconvinced by your reluctance to find "motherhood" directly within the Godhead (who longs to gather Israel as a mother hen gathers her chicks) but only through the route of daughterhood."

And I am completely unconvinced by your reluctance to find "birdhood" directly within the Godhead.
Not to mention "shieldhood", "rockhood", "warriorhood", "firehood" etc.
But I'm sure you do understand metaphor and analogy.

God the Father is not a metaphor. He is the First Person of the Trinity and the One to whom Jesus directs us to pray. If anyone knows what God is like, it is Jesus - who incidentally is the one who likened himself to a hen in his solicitous care, and elsewhere id called 'Lion' and 'Lamb'. How this has bearings on the doctrine of the Trinity is quite beyond me.

Father Ron said...

"Our God is so close to us! Ours is a God who knows our every affliction and responds with compassion and encouragement. Knowing that we are not alone in our affliction provides the courage and the energy to see us through.
This encouragement has a domino effect. When we experience the effects of our spirits being lifted by God, we are inspired to go and do the same for someone else. God’s nature is compassion. We become instruments for God to use to touch the lives of others who are challenged." - today's 3-minute Retreat -

(For Nick's especial information, this quotation is from the R.C. Jesuit site)

Father Ron said...

Regarding nick's concern about my reference to God as He/Her is, admittedly, and attempt to relativise the composite humanity that became a part of the triune God at the Incarnation. Of course, to believe this, it would become necessary for us to realize that at the Incarnation God became truly human in Christ. Jesus did not become only representatively male, but 'Fully human' - which. logically, must include aspects of both male and female identity. If Christ represented only the male of the species by becoming 'fully human', then maybe females were not included in Christ's redemptive mission!

Nick, along with many of the commenters on this thread, seems to be resuming the old threnody of patriarchalism, which today's Christian Theology has, rightly in my opinion, discarded for a more eirenic understanding of the fullness of God that was transmitted to Christ at His Incarnation.

God is not able to be imprisoned in either male or female personhood, but is uniquely other, while at the same time capable of being recognized in both female and male aspects of the Body of Christ. This is a mystery, that may not be revealed until we inhabit the courts of heaven where, as Scripture tells us; there will be neither giving nor being given in marriage - and indication that gender difference is a provision for this world only.

Of course, we humans have always struggled for a language that could be said to describe the deep mystery of God. However, we must not be trapped into persistently describing God as uniquely 'male'. At the same time, I am constrained to address God as 'Our Father', and Jesus, as 'Son of God' - simply because of our common preoccupation with labeling a relationship which it is difficult to address - except in anthropomorphic terms. I think Mother Julian of Norwich discerned the problem in addressing the Deity as 'Father-Mother God'.

Bryden Black said...

From the many rich threads of your recent tapestry of comments Bowman, I’d only pursue this line of conversation - to clarify what was perhaps less clear than it might have been.

A key feature of the Reformation, as I understand it, was the trichotomous distinction made between not only the invisible Church and the visible Church [we’ll leave de Lubac’s Corpus Mysticum out of it!], but additionally all those church organizations which sought to reflect the one holy catholic apostolic Church. Just so the CoE and its subsequent iterations across the Empire, and now Commonwealth, and elsewhere (Europe!). Of course, one consequence of this ecclesiological thinking and practice was the rationalization of what emerged in the Land of Religious Lib-er-ty, in the USA—a veritable plethora of denominational variety! In their various ways, each (perhaps!) seeks to be a “true company of believers”, a legitimate expression of Church. Yet any sane church historian knows full well these church organizations often present in mutually exclusive ways. Sometimes they deliberately contrast themselves to other, ‘false Christians’; we are “the true Church”, not ‘them’.

When it comes to our 21st C and the AC’s current woes, gone I sense is the logic hitherto of any “broad church”. Even as claims are made for being/trying to be an “inclusive tent”, the actual practice of intolerance (by many a version of Anglicanism) is shattering that genteel respect among the village or suburban congregation. Perhaps it actually began in the 19th C, with the Tractarian Movement coupled with intense urbanization. Real choice set in ... And add now a twist of consumerism, and ...

To be sure; we all try to rationalize/legitimize our own ‘tribe’s’ identity. Yet the real eclecticism of the RCC (despite Amoris Laetitia and its various reactions) is simply unrepeatable under an Anglican banner. The 17th C proved that (Cromwell; Non-Jurors); our own day finally reaps it ...

As for ACANZ&P: what’s at play is a dynamic that will inevitably end in institutional fragmentation, I sense. Our three tikanga constitution was always more pragmatic than theological. And because our brand of pragmatism simply lacks the likes of a Peirce (let alone a TFT!), long term the lack of logic may almost surely not hold (20+ years is a snip vis-à-vis history). Not least, there is the fact that over the years we have tolerated those who hold and preach views as if there were no physical transformation of the resurrected Jesus’ body, or sundry positions on Eucharistic Presence. Now however the concern is the formal institutionalization of views, and their inevitable practice, of a stance that would seem to equate with placing certain folk beyond the reach of salvation (viz 1 Cor 6:9-11, Gal 5:19-21). I have heard such stances aired a number of times in formal meetings now. And this of course runs exactly counter to for example Ron’s views. It’s not a ‘single tent’ anymore; it’s an illogical conglomeration ... And history has a habit of demonstrating the reality behind anything so bluntly illogical ... We just happen to be in the midst of it currently ...

PS drafted before Peter's very latest post! Stet mine!

Jean said...

Re perceptions of God,

I am with Peter on this one, as the source of all life I have always seen God as encompassing both male and female attributes - in a sense why a man and woman together can become one. Yet I have no issue with calling him Father. Perhaps this is human contradiction, divine mystery? Just as the whole church male and female are the bride Christ, another mystery. Certainly scripture supports God as having qualities he himself identifies as feminine such, as identifying his own love as that which goes even beyond a mother's love for her child.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

" I am completely unconvinced by your reluctance to find "motherhood" directly within the Godhead"

I don't think that's the issue. The question is about personal pronouns. That there are both masculine and feminine descriptions of God's nature and actions towards us in Scripture is obvious. However when it comes to naming God, Scripture only ever uses masculine pronouns. So it is perfectly Biblical to say that God mothers us, but not Biblical to call God Mother, or She.

Jesus models this distinction when, on the one hand he describes God as a mother hen gathering her chicks, but on the other never names God personally as Mother, but always and only as Father.

I believe Scripture makes this distinction for a number of reasons, one of which is to carefully distinguish God from pagan notions of the divine, which Brian mentions in his response to Ron. This is as much an issue today as it was in Biblical times. I don't believe Scripture's approach to this has to do with the so-called patriarchal culture of the time. Whenever Scripture takes a consistent and clear approach to an issue, it's wise to defer to it's wisdom.

Bryden Black said...

Re Peter's comment @ 9:46 and his three groups.

Knowing something of the Majority World's recontextualizing of the CoE, I'd say we a few more than three. Not only has the Charismatic Movement had a profound effect in the Western churches, most of that Majority World is innately imbued with Spirit/spirit. This colours enormously what we westerners reckon to be both formal theology and liturgical practice, giving rise forms of Anglicanism some of us wld be hard pressed to freely acknowledge were 'in the family' - I suspect ...!

BrianR said...

Well, what happened to my post about Peter's reluctance to find "birdhood", "shieldhood", "rockhood" etc in God? - i.e., confusion of metaphor with ontology within the Trinity?

Why don't you publish it, Peter, instead of waiting to think up a reply first?

The idea that God "contains" all the possibilities of the created world is more like Hinduism than the faith of the Bible.
That was my point about anthropomorphic projection.

Father Ron said...

DeaZr Peter, now that this thread has strayed into the area of Eucharistic theology, may I draw your attention to the fact that I have never - either on this blog or my own - claimed to be an advocate of the Roman Catholic belief in 'transubstantiation'; being, rather, an advocate of consubstantiation, that denotes a belief in both the materiality of bread and wine together with the spiritual reality of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist - a High Church Anglican view. However, this view is currently, I believe, held by many Roman Catholics as well as Eastern Orthodox Believers. Perhaps Nick might comment on this point.

BrianR said...

"Jesus models this distinction when, on the one hand he describes God as a mother hen gathering her chicks, but on the other never names God personally as Mother, but always and only as Father."

Actually, Jesus describes HIMSELF with this simile (Matt. 23.37). What relevance this simile has for language for addressing God escapes me, unless someone is proposing we should offer prayer to the Bird-God. Quetzalcoatl, perhaps? Paul also likens himself to a woman in childbirth (Gal. 3.19) and nobody ever refers to him as 'she'.
The point about language - and the Lordship of Christ over culture - is correct.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Comment on apparently missing comments: I work from multiple devices and sometimes a comment (i.e. notification by email) shows up on each device and it doesn't matter which one I check and sometimes, it appears, a comment does not do that and I may only get to it when I finally check the last of my devices - as in this morning's case where I see a comment from you bewailing the non-publication of an earlier posted comment ... which is now published :)

My point re He/She or His/Her language for God is not that I think it right and correct to swap "he" pronouns for "she" pronouns - our language about God should reflect the language of the Bible - but that the use of "He/She" in a passing sentence helpfully reminds us that the use of even biblically based pronouns and Father/Son language for the Godhead may foster an impression that God is masculine and the feminine comes from somewhere else.

Much as I appreciate your critique of what I have said, you have said very little which would, in my view, bring comfort and encouragement to a woman who wonders whether men are first class citizens in the kingdom of God and women are also rans, destined to always be behind the men in its gatherings.

Andrei said...

What does the creed say?

"I believe in God the Father maker of Heaven and Earth..."

It is only 21st century airheads who would find this confusing as this nonsensical story from Great Britain attests modern Western educated elites have lost their minds: "Don't call pregnant patients 'mothers': Doctors are banned from using the word over fears it will upset those who are transgender"

"Much as I appreciate your critique of what I have said, you have said very little which would, in my view, bring comfort and encouragement to a woman who wonders whether men are first class citizens in the kingdom of God and women are also rans, destined to always be behind the men in its gatherings."

Why would women wonder that? For example didn't the Risen Christ first reveal himself to women rather than the Apostles?

And of all the saints isn't the most revered the Virgin Mary?

For reasons known only to himself God created us man and woman - I don't know why but it is what it is

And while you are going around and around in circles trying to paper over the very real and obvious distinctions between men and women - real men and women who are raising real children conceived and born in the time honoured fashion are not bringing them to the Church to be baptised and raised in the Faith.

And Liturgies conducted in Polari are not going to draw them back into the fold - just the reverse in fact, such things just highlight the irrelevance of the church to their everyday lives and concerns

BrianR said...

"Much as I appreciate your critique of what I have said, you have said very little which would, in my view, bring comfort and encouragement to a woman who wonders whether men are first class citizens in the kingdom of God and women are also rans, destined to always be behind the men in its gatherings."

The remedy to these wonderings is to read the Gospels. Not that difficult, really.
As for assuaging feminist critiques of the language of Christ and his apostles: the Mary Dalys and Daphne Hampsons abandoned Christianity long ago.

Father Ron said...

Thank you Peter!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bryden and Peter, not only for kind words, but also for a very thoughtful account of the predicament of NZ&P. Fairness and gratitude require that I mull it all over before replying at length. Peter's comment anticipates the one subversive thought that I venture here for your criticism.

Rather than a broad church with a general duty of tolerance for whatever comes in the door, I have experimentally imagined Anglicanism as the symbiosis of a host and its parasites. It is not difficult to imagine a host spirituality that compasses both the faith trajectory of the 39A and the worship of the Prayerbook. We are, I hope, proficient practitioners of that whole spirituality, which has long been able to form and guide churches that flourish and endure.

The half-hearted eccentricities that Peter describes are parasites on that host. Parasites are not necessarily bad, but they cannot do and be all that the host can do and be. They probably make some sort of contribution to the churches that they inhabit, but are unable to form and guide generous, flourishing churches. The questions-- (1) can we distinguish the generous host from its parasites?; (2) are the parasites' effects on the host benign and worthwhile?; (3) if not, can the host expel a malignant, greedy, or dying parasite?

Kindly note that this metaphor is not so scrupulously neutral as broad church toleration, nor so righteously intolerant as the parasites themselves can be when they threaten to leave a disobedient host. It accounts for the possibility that the whole is not the sum of its parasites. Also for the possibility that a once mutually-beneficial symbiosis could come to an end.

As I have explained to Peter elsewhere, the simplest explanation for the tensions around That Topic is that parasites have been rebuffed in their attempts to exercise authority, but do not dream that the reason is that they themselves are not the host and therefore do not have authority in the first place. "Surely, we synodical liberals have the authority to promulgate a new theology of marriage!" "Surely, we conservative evangelicals have the authority to decide and enforce a church's exegesis of the Six Texts!" Were these partisans willing to accept the natural humiliation of their authority claims, there would still be a challenging ethical problem, of course, but it would not have escalated into a crisis of ecclesial identity.

As it is, the parasites may indignantly leave the host. Is this a bad thing?

It is not difficult to imagine a host spirituality that compasses both the faith trajectory of the 39A and the worship of the Prayerbook. We are not, I hope, the only proficient practitioners of that whole spirituality. It has long been able to form and guide churches that flourish and endure...

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I feel a need to quickly distance myself from your comment!
While I can think of a few folk I have come across in the life of the Anglican church who act reasonably blatantly as a "parasite" on a "host" body, the examples I cited above are not at all intended to be described in those terms. Not least about the objectionableness of such imagery is the sense it gives that the "parasitic" Anglicans are Johnny-come-lately arrivistes whereas most Anglicans of a liberal A-C or conservative evangelical shade/stripe are, like myself, lifelong Anglicans.

Sparked by your images I think I am going more for a dynamic movement in which some Anglicans are in the process of distancing themselves from where Anglicanism in its long term centric mode is heading. They may or may not realise this and they may or may not make the criticism that the "other" group are the ones making Anglicanism leave them :)

Within this dynamic reality there are phases in which those who are distancing themselves from the centre/longterm ground live happily in the same environment ("dynamic equilibrium"?), sometimes tussling for the title of "we are the true Anglicans," sometimes just getting on with their respective missions, acknowledging with a sign that the Anglican church includes some weird and varied others. There are phases in which this happy living together fails and one side thinks the other side should leave (in order for happiness to resume) and either both sides stick it out ("Why should we go when it is they who should go?") or one, in the end goes, as we have seen with North American Anglicanism.

Perhaps, to coin a phrase, there are two kinds of Anglicanism: one in which there are partisans likely to part and one in which there are partisans likely to whinge, harrumph and grizzle ... but never actually depart!?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I don't know whether any RCs believe in consubstantiation in the Eucharist, but it's definitely not approved teaching. Consubstantiation (Jesus plus the wine) seems inherently less likely to me than transubstantiation (Jesus is the wine). To the extent consubstantiation is considered heresy, there might be a softening of that approach in light of the current régime's overtures to the Lutherans. If I were a Protestant, I'd say the elements are symbolic only. That would make even more sense, though I believe in transubstantiation myself.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I am slightly bewildered why my attempt to argue that maleness and femaleness both come from God is understand as an attempt to diminish the real and obvious differences between men and women!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
A lot depends on the word "is"!
I am myself concerned at what we mean by "substantial".
Thus I am comfortable with affirming that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ while leaving as a mystery what that means in terms of how consuming this particular body and blood feeds and nourishes my life in Christ (John 6) as well as my participation in the life of Christ (1 Corinthians 10).
What the bread and the wine do not become is human flesh and human blood!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I agree that the bread and wine do not become flesh and blood. The accident of the bread and wine remain.


Glen Young said...

Peter, your reply to Andrei misses the mark.He is not stating that both maleness and femaleness do not spring from God; anyone who has read the first two chapters of Genesis should understand that.

What he and some other commentors are trying to make clear is that Jesus Christ,The Pre-existent Logos who became fully man always referred to"His Father" and taught us to pray:"Our Father which art in Heaven".There is no good reason to change His Revelation.

Perhaps the Church should follow His instruction (Matt. 23/9) and cease to use the term Father as a clerical title.

Andrei said...

Stockholm Syndrome Peter.

We live in an age where the Church is under attack - the Servants of Satan learning from the failures of the Soviet Union in extinguishing the Church there are now at work in the Western world where they are doing exceedingly well.

The last wedding I attended was conducted in a winery by a minister of religion who donned a roman collar for the occasion (not an Anglican you will be relieved to hear) one who famously conducts gay "marriages" and God was not mentioned once - the readings were trite doggerel about "love" while the bride got gloriously drunk and puked over the best man.

Sad, really really sad

The Church needs to remain true to itself and not allow itself to be dragged into the ephemera of today's political discourse

Marriage in New Zealand has been rendered meaningless by the secular - the Church needs to put the meaning back - this is part of her evangelistic task, to build Christian families to live their lives in the Faith from cradle to grave.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, in leaving this thread, may I just make these tweo comments:

1. Regarding the situation of Marriage; this was a state existing in the world well before the existence of the Church, which found it to be a convenient means of encouraging faithful one-to-one relationship wherein God's gift of sexuality could find its proper place (a) for the mutual society and comfort of the couple, and (b) for the procreation of children. (However, nowadays, the latter requirement has been rendered not mandatory - a marriage is still a marriage, without the blessing of children! The new concept of same-sex marriage, granted by civil society, has the same objectives - faithful, monogamous relationship, with each person murturing the common good.

2. I object to Nick's understanding of the Anglo-Catholic preference for the term 'consubstantiation' rather than the Roman-Catholic 'transubstantiation'
The one (R.C.) rejects the idea of a continuing corporeal reality of the bread and the wine of the Eucharist. The other (A.C. acknowledges the continuing corporeal existence of the bread and the wine, while yet believing in the added reality of the Real Presence of the Body and blood of Christ. This is a Mystery, contained in God's provision and consonant with the teaching of Christ: "This IS my Body; this IS my Blood. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, there is no life within you! (This is one saying of Jesus that protestants have the most difficulty with!)

Respectfully, Peter, I have to take issue with your intimation that one of the 39 Articles still forbids the doctrine of the Real Presence in ACANZP.
Our Prayer Book Eucharistic Liturgy (page 423) has this to say - at the invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiclesis): "Send your Holy Spirit that these gifts of bread and wine may be to us the body and blood of Christ. And that we, filled with the Spirit's grace and power, may be renewed for the service of your kingdom" - This is not the first time I have had to point out this consequence of the epiclesis in the Prayer of consecration in our Liturgy.

Andrei said...

This is the sort of thing we are dealing with Peter

BrianR said...

You are right, Andrei - those who are offended and scandalised by Christ's teaching about the Father and who seek to "correct" it are simply playing Feuerbach's game of anthropomorphic projection.

The link from the BMA is bizarre, even from an organisation that for a long time has been more interested in politics than serious medicine, but one can foresee such rubbish becoming mainstream in ten years' time. Already the press and public bodies go along with the fantasies of political agitprop.

BrianR said...

'I am myself concerned at what we mean by "substantial".'

- The meaning is quite clear. 'substance' (in Aristotelian thought) means 'essence' - i.e. what makes something what it is.

'Thus I am comfortable with affirming that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ'

- definitely NOT what Cranmer taught: he never spoke of the bread and wine becoming ( = changing into) another substance.

'while leaving as a mystery what that means in terms of how consuming this particular body and blood feeds and nourishes my life in Christ (John 6) as well as my participation in the life of Christ (1 Corinthians 10).'

- ah, 'mystery' - the 'get out of jail card' or 'admit everyone card': all opinions accepted and none is explained. I think the Reformers did better than that!

'What the bread and the wine do not become is human flesh and human blood!'
- But you just said above that the bread and wine become the body of Christ; are you now denying his humanity? Docetist!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I was objecting to this comment of Andrei's:
"And while you are going around and around in circles trying to paper over the very real and obvious distinctions between men and women."
I do not deny that Andrei understands that God created both male and female.
The question I am trying to tease out is what it means that we are created male and female IN THE IMAGE of God.
I have yet to have much affirmation here that "female" is as much in the image of God as "male"!

Andrei said...

"The question I am trying to tease out is what it means that we are created male and female IN THE IMAGE of God."

Well you wont tease that out exactly in this world, what we hope for and strive to achieve is reunion with God, that is the prize Theosis, whether you are male or female makes no difference to that end goal

But what is clear is that Satan hates the image of God within us and seeks to degrade it - that is the true meaning of pornography, ugliness and baseness

That too is the meaning of the link in my comment above marriage trivialized and made banal in a TV reality show, a degradation of something God given and Holy

If you look at the Orthodox marriage rite a major element is the mutual support of the man and the woman together in their path towards mutual salvation and theosis

God has provided us with a light to guide us through this wicked world, the Church

And the image of the Church as the Bride of Christ is a powerful one with much biblical support

But what is to come remains somewhat a mystery but I don't think it involves sitting on a fluffy cloud playing a harp rather the image of God within us will shine forth

Sometimes we are given a glimpse of heaven though and that helps us persist in a world that would drag us down into the sewer, though most of us fall into it from time to time, hopefully less as we mature in the Faith

Your question it seems to me is born in the political discourse of our era and is not one that would have occurred to the desert fathers and if we survive this age the religious of days to come might view it as pointless as the apocryphal tale of medieval theologians arguing over "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin"

The real question is how we as members of the Church shine the light of Christ into a world dominated by reality TV

Anonymous said...

Peter, I have no idea what Anglo-Catholics believe about consubstantiation or whether they even have a common view. It is clear, however, that consubstantiation involves two substances; blood of Christ plus the wine. This halfway house is more complicated (and less likely) than transubstantiation or the Protestant view that there is no change in substance at all.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei (11.09 pm and an earlier comment or two)
There is no dispute at all between us on the matter of Western trivialization of marriage, the most visible and loathsome aspect of which in the media is the Married at First Sight genre of reality TV (i.e. the fantasy that if it is recorded it is true, real and worthwhile).
Nor, of course, do I differ from you on the importance of shining as the light of Christ in our world - a shining that is not particularly enhanced by arguing over pronouns!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Good spot: looks like a contradiction. Perhaps I should have used some quotation marks around "body of Christ" and "blood of Christ."
I have no idea what the body and blood of Christ is other than a share in the eternal life of Christ as the once human who was crucified and was raised to life again. That participation through eating and drinking is real, the body and blood feed and nourish me, the whole of me.
But what I am not doing is eating human flesh and drinking human blood (that is cannibalism!). Put another way, I do not subscribe to the Aristotelian distinction between "accident" and "substance."
So the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ through the consecration of the body = church of Christ gathered to celebrate (remember with thanksgiving) his death and resurrection but they do not become human flesh and human blood: they remain both in appearance and in molecular structure, bread and wine.
To anticipate a reply to Nick below: there is more to the consubstantiation view than meets the eye of those who dismiss it in preference for the simplicity of either Thomism or Zwinglism!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
There are times when the simplest explanation is likely the best but there are other times when it should be viewed with great suspicion since unlikely to explain all relevant aspects of the matter at hand. Such suspicion might particularly arise when two simple explanations are at hand which cancel each other out!

While I prefer to think in terms of "mystery" (not pace Brian above, as some kind of easy cop out from the hard work of explaining, but as a respectful way of holding together heavenly and earthly realities, of making coherent our time and the timelessness of the eternal sacrifice of Christ, to say nothing of holding in one act of believing the multiple but fragmentary witnesses of the New Testament (Last Supper accounts, John 6, 1 Corinthians 5:7, 10 and 11) in the course of this thread, consubstantiation (as far as I understand it) does greater justice to the mystery of the eucharist than the simple views you prefer (albeit one ahead of the other!)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
If consubstantiation is the heart of Anglo-Catholicism and if it is true to the inner heart of Anglican eucharistic theology, and if this is tightly distinguished from a Thomist transubstantiationism, why do Anglo-Catholic celebrations of the eucharist find it necessary to import words from the Roman Mass into these celebrations?

Note, by the way, that although there is epiclesis-like language in NZPB I have, on good authority of one of the compilers of it, an assurance that the NZPB compilers deliberately included no actual Epiclesis in any of its eucharistic prayers in the sense that, with the saying of certain words invoking the Spirit the moment of transubstantiation comes.

The words you quote crucially include "for us". In the mystery of the eucharist the bread and the wine do not become the body and blood of Christ in their own right, separate from the action of the ones receiving the bread and the wine.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, while appreciating your acceptance of the word 'consubstantiation' to be a 'better' term to explain the Mystery of Christ's Presence in the Mass; I still insist that the words of our N.Z, Prayer Book (qutied earlier) allow for ther assumption of an epiclesis, Thus "Send your Holy Spirit that these gifts of bread and wine may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ". These words, for me, as presiding priest, have all the grace of the traditional epiclesis. In fact, toi emphasize this 'mystery', I use my hans to indicate the process - for anyone who is looking to see and believe. This is a gesture not unlike that of an Eastern Orthodox in the Liturgy.

These words come not from the Roman Liturgy but from the N.Z. Prayer Book. I too, am acquainted with a mermber of the N.Z. Prayer Book Commission - Fr. Richard Easton, an Anglo-Catholic, who certainly advocated this understanding of an epiclesis being present in the context of this publication - in his lectures on Liturgy when I weas a student at St. John's Anglican Theological College in Auckland in the late 1970s. Perhaps the person you know, who was also a member of the Prayer Book Commission may not have realised what was going on at the time this provision was being made. Fr. Richard Easton was a good theologian and knew what he was talking about in this particular area of expertise. Also, we have another Anglo-Catholic on the B.P.C., John de La Bere, now in his 90's, who is still a Daily Mass attender at SMAA in Christchurch. His opinion matches mine regarding the presence of at least one epiclesis in the N.Z. Liturgy.

Bryden Black said...

Oh, this recent chain of comments is fun and games - at least, it is such for any who are aware of those delightful debates down the centuries of theologies (NB PLURAL) of the Eucharist/Holy Communion/the Lord’s Supper/the Mass/the Divine Liturgy/Breaking of Bread. Curious how even the names spell out the diversity ... I’ve so far resisted the temptation to join the fray, but alas! the flesh is weak ...

Two lines of conversation only. (1) Lateran IV (1215) and its promulgation of transubstantiation has like all things historical its context. In the first place, that has to do with the Communication of Grace, a debate/discussion which had already been ignited as far back as the 9th C, with this Latin Council seeking a degree of closure and therefore assurance for the Faithful. Added to which is the (re)emergence of Aristotelean categories to assist all debates pertaining to ontology—the thinginess of things. [Sorry Peter; we may not avoid such kinds of talk, matey! Even if some dialects are richer than others for the task.] Yet this very discussion had too its own setting, one which determined the very reason for the disputes at all at all. JA Jungmann termed it “the Anti-Arian backlash”. In essence, it shows itself from the end of those debates in the late 4th C in the formal prayers of the Eucharist and other liturgies, and takes the form of this sentiment: never again is Jesus going to be allowed to be seen as anything less than fully God. However, and it’s a big however, what also occurs is the development of a mediatorial vacuum—given the fact that the genuine nature of the God-man’s role as the Mediator of all gets pushed up into this very Godhead. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too the supernatural even more so; something has to fill the vacuum. The solution was the Church - and its various sacred objects and sacred personnel, all imbued with sacra potestas on behalf of the laos of God. Linked too with an Augustinian view of the world, these bridged the realms of the invisible and the noetic, with the visible and the material. Just so, heaven and earth are duly joined together; and Grace fully Communicated. Or so the Story went ...! (And see the BCP catechism’s definition of a sacrament.)

(2) But what if we radically reorientate the issues, viewing them from a far richer perspective altogether? That is, firstly, what my own ch.8 of The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb (2015) does. It reconfigures holus-bolus an explicit trinitarian stance, where the triune God himself has established his own mediatorial field, through the Son, Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. “It’s the Economy - of Salvation! - stupid!” (The diagrams of the book help, to be sure.) Then secondly, I cannot recommend enough Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Last Supper (2015), which (re)locates that Supper fully in its 1st C Jewish context. Just so do we have the “proclamation/memorial” (1 Cor 11:26, Ex 12 & 13, where the Hebrew = zkr) of the New Passover rite, celebrating koinonia in the New Exodus and the New Covenant, through Jesus’ blood and the power of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of the New Temple (the laos of God, Eph 2:11-21). All of which duly anticipates Rev 21-22. And just so, ALL the concerns of both Greek East and Latin West are solved by such means, frankly! Enjoy folks!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bryden
I assume that the kind of understanding you are driving forward here lies behind an aspect of our NZPB which I didn't mention above in my remarks about the (non) Epiclesis of its eucharistic prayers despite invocation of the Holy Spirit to do "something." That is, that the compilers, in keeping with what might be called "modern liturgical understanding" view the whole eucharistic prayer (reciting the whole account of salvation as well as the specific historic occasion of the last supper imbued with the eschatological hope of the gospel) as consecrating the bread and wine, rather than involving any single "moment" of transformation of the bread and wine.

On your account I also proffer that what is important in the eucharist is not what happens to the bread and the wine per se but what happens to God/bread/wine/us, namely that God fills us with himself and we open ourselves to God's saving power as experienced in Passover and Cross/Resurrection, mediated through bread and wine, in the reception of which heaven and earth meet.

But, I feel somewhat like a crumb trying to talk about the loaf when giants of eucharistic theology are invoked :)

Bryden Black said...

Ah yes Peter; crumbs, loaves, and entire fields of wheat dispersed upon the mountains - until that Day itself! ’Tis a sight to be sure ...!!

Your two paras Peter: almost ... Surely, following Dom Gregory Dix (Ron; you shld be smiling with glee at that name!), the centre of gravity has shifted from “the moment of consecration”, rung with bells, to that four-fold “shape” of “taking, blessing, breaking (for distribution, as much as anything else), and administering”, where material bread and wine are consumed - the FG is very strong with “chewing”, in Jn 6, a most anti-docetic line. The entire action is the sacramental moment of Union with Christ, that great John Calvin insight. And he too was fond of invoking just the role of the Holy Spirit as well! I’d go further and say, our re-union or sacramental ‘maintaining’ of our incorporation into Christ Jesus and so our participation in the triune Economy of Salvation. And yes; that “blessing” component is a recital in brief of exactly that Economy, and where the entire Great Thanksgiving Prayer, and not just the wee phrase, “This is my Body”, does all the heavy lifting, of setting aside now these material “creatures” to effect that divine promise of Presence, of re-Presence, re-Union, which seeks not just my own prayerful consecration (as president) but each parishioner’s subsequent consuming. For I’m still not convinced that “adoration” and/or “benediction” is the res of Holy Communion; rather, it is indeed an action, and specifically a dominical sacramental action, for God’s People, so that the triune God would come and dwell afresh among us, and notably to renew us for the Missio Dei in and for the world. The other is too much like freeze-framing a video, rather than a dynamic renewal of our participating in the Living God’s Love and Life. Where, finally, any participation is only by means of that death and resurrection of Jesus—which death and resurrection are God’s climax to his plan/economy of salvation, now actualized, here and there, as the Holy Spirit brings it to pass, again and again, and again. OK???!

Anonymous said...

"rather, it is indeed an action, and specifically a dominical sacramental action"

Yes, and/also a specific kind of action, storytelling. Regardless of the how, whether Baptist minimalism or high church extravagance, we are engaged as a community in telling the Story of Christ's death and resurrection, and it is by entering into the Story through consumption of the elements that the Father, by the Spirit, draws us into union with Christ.

Bryden Black said...

Interesting Shawn. Though perhaps the notion of Story, even with a capital, does not quite equate with the weight of "drama". To be sure, drama has its necessary plot or story line. Yet that very line requires embodying, dramatizing, performing, not just telling - which is mostly how we do stories however honourable. That's perhaps why in Anglican tradition we have an ordained ministry of word + sacrament.

Father Ron said...

Peter, with reference to the 'Bishop's Report', the news that 14 Retired Bishops of the Church of England are taking issue with its findings should not be too surprising. Here, in protest, is perhaps the most telling sentence:

"Our perception is that while the pain of LGBT people is spoken about in your report, we do not hear its authentic voice." - (14 Retired Bishops)

Peter Carrell said...

All noted, thank you Ron.
In a rush this week so not responding but will think upon these things as I travel ...