Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"Beautiful Anglican Accommodation" comments' thread: continue here

Amazingly comments continue on my major post (last month) on the interim report of our GS working group on SSB.

That post is here.

If you want to keep commenting, please do so here and not there as it is becoming non-easy to connect with the latest comments there.

The most recent comments at the time of posting this are copied below. Before we get to them, a little reflection of my own:

And they say an Anglican house divided will not stand!

Readers from beyond Down Under may not understand how a mere 1200 miles of ocean (or Ditch) places no particular distance between NZ and Australia in terms of close interest in the doings of our neighbour (at least for Kiwis - no doubt many Australians think of us as the boring little brother or sister!). Cultural distance is another matter ...

So, over in Oz, there is a major and I mean major brouhaha about SSM. Even how a nation with a parliament and a postal system can decide what it collectively thinks and wants re SSM has been a brouhaha. That Kiwis sorted this years ago now with the minimum of fuss may reflect that cultural distance which is clearly wider than 1200 miles ...

Natch, Christians are at odds with each other on this matter, even as they are working out how beleagaured the Christian community at large is within a rapidly secularising Australia.

Fascinatingly, for this Anglican observer at least, even Catholics are at odds with each other, as this article indicates. And in quasi-Anglican terms: the gospel of love versus the law of God!

Here's the thing. Are we Christians/Anglicans/Catholics divided on a matter which is genuinely intractable, which involves deeply held convictions about deep matters of God (law/love)? If so, should we (A) be kind to each other, and (B) work out how we live with these differences rather than how we divide because of them? Let's face it, no matter how much we divide the denominational cake on this one, the whole Christian communities in Oz and NZ will remain Christian communities in which there is major difference over SSB/SSM!

MOST RECENT COMMENTS FROM ORIGINAL POST on Beautiful Anglican Accommodation

"Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Bowman and Bryden

An interesting insight into character formation, and the scripting we bring with us into life, and into our lived experience as Christians.

I wonder in the light of those thoughts, what you make of Romans 12:1-2:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I’m particularly interested in the aspect of ‘being transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – how do you suggest that takes place? While I have my own views, I’d be interested in yours.

Secondly, Paul implies that renewal of ones mind is not an automatic process that follows salvation, that it appears to involve some agency or choice on the part of the believer. Thoughts?

Third, when someone undertakes the renewing of their mind and therefore begins to approve of God’s good and perfect will, should we think it strange if their teaching and example did not begin to eventually comply at least somewhat more closely to the example of Jesus, and the testimony of Scripture?

To me this passage of Scripture appears to have considerable bearing upon the matter in question, not in regard to how God views same sex anything, but rather how we view it.
Father Ron Smith said...
Thankyou, Bowman, for your reminder of 'inherited prejudice', which may - or may not - be pastorally considered as a hindrance to the formation of a valid conscience. One excellent example of this was Saint Paul's need of 'conversion', from his formation under the Jewish Tradition - into the grace-filled understanding of Christianity.

One suspects that some of the failings he was able to confess in his newly-acquired conscience - but which he accepted were subsumed into the redemption of Jesus - were mystically dealt with as part of his journey into the Kingdom of God. Thus: "Thanks be to God for the victory in Christ Jesus"
Bryden Black said...
Well Brendan (1/2); you have picked, what for me, is an absolutely seminal pair of verses. Only the likes of Jn 1:14 and 3:16 might compare in density and significance.

First off, I see you have chosen the NIV translation, which has “in view of God’s mercy”. A nice rendering, given these two verses constitute the fulcrum [what’s the “therefore” there for?!] of the entire letter, coming after the fulsome presentation of “Paul’s Gospel” (16:25), which forms chs 1-11. The conclusion of these chapters may be viewed as 11:32.

“I urge” [compare other EVV translations]: Paul often presents his more theological material first, followed by his “hortatory” section, given the second is, in his view, the natural consequence arising out of the first. The ground/basis (of his appeal) comes first; then the appeal itself second.

His “appeal”/“exhortation” is addressed to those whom he knows to be his family in the Lord Jesus, the Household of God - “brothers and sisters” - who share in common the Holy Spirit. We are all in this together; but only so on account of God’s gift and doing, his Grace/Mercy.

“Offer”/“present”: classic Jewish sacrificial language. And what is so offered up is first off most concrete - as befits an Incarnational belief, and the God of Creation. Yet this entire first verse also leads back directly to ch.1 and vv.18ff. There the matter was “false worship”, worship of the creature(s) rather than the Creator (v.25); and the result of such “folly” (v.22) furthermore involves both “hearts” and “bodies”, which will be taken up directly in 12:1-2. Note too “desire” (1:24): Augustine will make much of this human trait, since in his schema the entire point is to desire the God who made us and yet we stupidly seek after instead false objects of worship. I.e. he beautifully paraphrases Paul.

In the OT, “sacrifices” were slaughtered naturally, and so dead (or were vegetable); now, since we Christians are both dead and resurrected in Christ Jesus (Rom 6), we’re able truly to offer our very lives - that supreme gift of God, the Living God, Who Is, is returned to its Source.
Yet here too Augustine (in a sermon) plays delightfully: “the trouble with being a living sacrifice is that it has a habit of crawling off the altar!”

“Holy”: anything given over unto God, as we Christians should now be, was considered holy in the OT.

The “aroma/odour” of any burnt sacrifice in the OT was often described as smelling pleasant or pleasing to God. Cf. 2 Cor 2:14-17.

All of which response ‘accords well’ with what we should be doing: creatures are meant to worship their Creator (Rev 4 & 5). This response is the most “logical/rational”, consistent reaction to what chs 1-11 have displayed: the phrase “true and proper” is thus one translation; another is “spiritual”. And “worship” is one of a pair often used: leitourgia = bringing of offerings or performing ceremonial services; latreia, as here = worship/service of God.
Bryden Black said...
2/3. The neat thing about v.2 is that it echoes delightfully and in passing the NT Catechism. See Eph 4:(17-) 20-24, with v.23 directly paralleling Rom 12:2. [See now my God’s Address—Living with the Triune God: A Scripture Workbook in the Style of Manuduction to Accompany The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb (Wipf & Stock, 2017).] I.e. v.2 compresses an inordinate amount into its full and real meaning - if we but knew it and heard the full echo that Paul is wanting us to invoke.

“Conformed to this age/world”: adding the word “pattern” in your translation brings out the Greek verb nicely. All that is opposed to God comprises an entire “scheme” - in both senses of that word. And here there’s often a real difficulty. Many folk are simply blind to the fact that there IS such a ‘world’ which is against God (back to 1:21-22 again). This “period” of history in which we currently live as humans consists of two opposing ‘worlds’, or ‘schemata’, one which is under God’s Kingdom and another which opposes his Rule. Cf. Col 1:12-14. The NT simply makes no sense apart from this Apocalyptic dualism. Now; of course it’s pretty fashionable to discount such a scheme of things in the modern, secular West. The world is the world is the world; and that’s all there is to it. And furthermore, it’s but a natural evolutionary process ... This is one enormous temptation for Western Christians. Nor do I sense many of us have managed to quite reconcile either the natural sciences or the social sciences with our Christian Faith very well. The history of theology these past 200 years is instructive. Indeed; I fancy much of what passes for discussion on That Topic has its roots right here.

Next. I write this in God’s Address re Eph 4:20-24. “This archetypal pairing of putting off the old and putting on the new (see too Col 3:1–14), “in the power of the Spirit” (Rom 8:13), via the “renewing of the spirit of the mind”, may be likened to a pair of scissors. Such an instrument is made up of three things: a pair of opposing blades, and a rivet holding them together. This crucial pivot, with a similar contrast of old and new, is exactly what Paul presents again at the turning point of his magisterial Romans, 12:1–2.”

“Mind”: technically, this word nous had uses in popular mysticism and philosophy, as a specific faculty that engaged such things. Paul may or may not be thinking of this here. Overall, the point is clear enough: our ‘human control centre’ is to engage with the significance of what has happened on account of the Gospel, both externally, objectively in history itself, and to each and every Christian by way of their conversion and incorporation into Christ Jesus, Who in Himself, is the New Age. Once more, this ensures our response is “consistent with” the Gospel (as in the last part of v.1). Yet this “transformation” is no instant thing; it is continuous in this current ‘world’. Cf. 2 Cor 3:18. Our “walk in the Spirit”, who does this transformation work within us, is an ongoing business (Gal 5:25, Rom 8:9-13). My most fulsome experience of the sort of thing envisaged here has been my exposure to the work and ministry of Leanne Payne. Her Pastoral Care Ministries and now, after her retirement and death, the Ministry of Pastoral Care Schools were/are quite extraordinary. They are a special and almost unique expression of what this “transformation” is all about, I warrant. And they surely address the very sorts of things Bowman is raising by way of “invincible ignorance”, etc. Actually, firstly, in the power of the Risen Jesus, such things prove to be NOT invincible, although seemingly, previously they might have appeared so; they are also brought to light/into the Light, and so become “known” - as they were always in God’s Sight anyway. And I’m also referring to intergenerational stuff as well ...
Bryden Black said...

“Then”: so that, the purpose and goal of all this. “Test and approve” unpacks the double sense of the Greek: both prove and approve; approve, having first tested; both discerning that will and then of course following it faithfully, obediently.

And of course such a divine will is three things in this context. For God himself is always “good” and just; and such goodness (of God and God’s purposes) pleases him, brings God pleasure and joy; “perfect” is also “mature/complete” (as in Matt 5:48), and so naturally rounds everything off. There is always a point to all that God does and is!

This running commentary, Brendan, has already begun to address your subsequent questions. These verses are absolutely seminal, as I say, regarding the Christian life in general, and so should be able to bring MUCH LIGHT TO BEAR upon our present Anglican dilemmas. They also govern both confessors and their supplicants, in my experience. To summarize therefore. Christians are sanctified by the patient ministry of word-and-sacrament; by private and corporate prayer; by consistent and persistent “acts of mercy” in their ministry and mission in and to and for the world. Via all these things the Holy Spirit conforms us to the Image of Christ Jesus. I wrote God’s Address as an explicit answer both to making things Trinitarian operational, and to guide folk into reading Scripture via a Trinitarian lens - in a Trinitarian vein, as I say. That very ‘reading’ leads most naturally to an entire set of other things (as the workbook also lays out). For the Triune God works in those Ways he has clearly laid out for us in his written Word. It’s only a case of learning (as a disciple!!) ‘How’ to ‘Read’, and so how to “Perform” such a ‘reading’. The trick is ever becoming a practised, virtuoso performer, following the score of the text of the Word (written and Personal) in the power of the Spirit, unto the Father’s Glory.
Brendan McNeill said...
Hi Bryden

Thank you for taking the time to make a such a comprehensive response to my question. I agree that they are pivotal verses in helping us understand the process of transformation God seeks to undertake in the mind and the life of the believer.

I agree with the ‘two kingdoms’ understanding of the environment we inhabit, and the battle that is ever present for the hearts and minds of the believer, and ultimately Christ’s Bride, the Church.

Yes, to submitting our bodies as a living sacrifice, and our minds to the transforming power of God’s Word and his Holy Spirit. I am unaware of the life and ministry of Leanne Payne, however she has clearly had a significant impact upon you. The teaching and ministry of Derek Prince had a similar impact on my life as a new believer (and beyond). He came to Christchurch at least once, and had a powerful ministry in the spirit as well as the Word. Many were healed and delivered from demons in his meetings as I recall.

I appreciate that you have also added the sacraments to the Word and the Spirit. This is an emphasis I have begun to appreciate more since my involvement in the Anglican church. Ron, if you are reading this, then I’m sure that will please you!

Over the years, I have had the privilege of seeing many people’s lives transform through the process you have outlined, albeit maybe not as well understood as you have expressed. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (NIV). Surely, this is the transforming power at work in Romans 12:1-2.

Anonymous said...
Warm thanks to you, Brendan, for another fascinating comment. Your questions at 5:52 are so close to my heart that I have for years considered blogging somewhere about them alone. I will answer tomorrow, as it takes time to write a concise reply. If the result is not also brief, I will post it to a more current thread where Blogger is less likely to inconvenience Peter by misplacing it.

Bowman Walton
August 30, 2017 at 3:36 AM "


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden

Question: does Paul himself follow your application of Romans 12:1-2 in 1 Corinthians 7?

It is noticeable there that when advocating for celibacy he does not ask the Corinthians to work on the right mind transformation etc. He simply says, if you can do, otherwise, marry!

Father Ron Smith said...

"I appreciate that you have also added the sacraments to the Word and the Spirit. This is an emphasis I have begun to appreciate more since my involvement in the Anglican church. Ron, if you are reading this, then I’m sure that will please you!" - Brendan -

Bless you, Brendan, for acknowledging your conversion to the understanding of the importance of the Sacraments in worship and for pastoral efficacy.
When Jesus said: "DO THIS to remember me", one must believe he meant what he was saying - about the empowerment of the Eucharistic Tradition. He also said (from the scriptures) "I am the Bread of Life; whoever eats my flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day" - a pretty direct commendation of the perpetuation of the Eucharist.

Also, regarding the Sacrament of Baptism, Jesus said: "Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus also inferred, in the Gospel of Mark:16:16, that Baptism was necessary for salvation.

So yes, Brendan, both of these sacraments are basic as instruments of salvation in the Body of Christ.


Anonymous said...

Brendan, your question-- and some other thoughts introduced by Bryden and Father Ron-- can be answered best in rather brief comments at different sittings. I regret not offering a single pithy reply, but can explain why I cannot, and that may be at least as interesting.

Prior to everything is an observation about forest-and-trees. Romans 12:1-2 is about a new forest planted in C1 Rome; your questions are about trees growing in Christchurch today. The two are not unrelated, of course, and I think that you are right to put the forest before the trees here.

But anyone answering your whole comment-- text and questions-- clearly has to explain how s/he got from St Paul's forest to your trees. There is no congregation of C1 Roman Jews living in Christchurch. Moreover, some popular applications of group verses to individual souls have been nonsense in practise. For example, Jonathan Edwards emphatically did not experience the neat phases of personal salvation that some before him (eg William Perkins) had found in Romans 8:29-30.

Richard Bauckham, a scholar whose suggestions about exegesis are not lightly ignored, has noted that believers have often put rather personal questions about life in Christ to rather corporate passages in St Paul when the NT's clearest answers to them may be in St John's gospel. Following up that hint in my own study, I have found it to be true. And when I thought through your own four questions, Johannine answers came to my heart.

So without further analysis of it today, let us just look at St Paul's forest.

According to the custom of the day, Phoebe of Cenchreae (16:1) brought a letter from St Paul to sympathetic Jews in Rome, and presumably read it aloud to a gathering in someone's home. I imagine that it had an electrifying effect on its hearers.

Its contents implied that Jesus's death had sealed a covenant in blood (cf Exodus 24:8) in which the Shekhinah that had dwelt in the heart of the Tabernacle and the Temple for more than a thousand years off and on, had come to rest on them. In effect, the faraway holy of holies where only the high priest could stand once a year, had sailed across the sea, continued up the Tiber, disembarked on the south bank, and come to envelop them all. More than this-- shocking as that already is-- Phoebe said that Paul had written that they were the Creator's Presence to Rome and to all the peoples of the earth.

God was with them; they were actually living in the awesome Presence and exhibiting it to others. What were they to do? As Bryden said, one answer begins at Romans 12:1-2.

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

Your last two paragraphs Bowman are beautiful and profound - and, dare I say it, exactly as portrayed in my God's Address.

Then, your important reminder, prompted by RB, that many of Paul's Greek verbs are plural and not singular, just as "you/yours" are similarly plural (English has become lazy, unlike say French or German to this day), is crucial: "we are in this all together". The dynamic of corporate faith and personal, individual faith is itself a key to the Presence, among others.

Lastly, while I too relish a sacramental dimension to both Reality and so the Faith, I'm not unaware of how perverted this aspect has been on and off down the ages. Just so, my ch.8 in The Lion, the Dove & the Lamb. It justifiably cites some key theologians in its thesis. And just so too the Reformation priority of the written Word followed by the sacramental life. Ex Abp Bill Burnett of Cape Town, himself most High Church, once remarked: "The problem with the Anglican Church is that we've superimposed a sacramental system upon an unevangelized people." Often most true ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Yes, Bryden. I'm sure Bishop Burnett would have found a few con/evo parishes in ACAZP that still have not understood the sacramental virtue - which proceeds from actually practising the Gospel inclusivity. Words must lead to the Word-made-flesh, otherise they are without life and virtue.

Rosemary Behan said... .. the FCA response

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Rosemary
I will post about that tomorrow.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Ron for that stab at interpreting Abp BB's words. But actually, it is not at all what he was meaning, nor what I mean. You see; I met him a number of times and enjoyed his fulsome integration of the charismatic, evangelical and sacramental traditions, each cross-fertilising the other and gently tweaking them too. For bear in mind the Church of the Province of South Africa was/is pretty "spiky"!

Perhaps I can recommend (again) that ch.8 in my book LDL. The only sort of "inclusivity" of which we may legitimately speak theologically is of the Barthian kind, which repristines the Early Church's Christological understanding (Athanasius, Maximus, et al). The sacramental takes its cue from the Incarnation, but is only derivative. And WHAT is so derived is actually debatable. Just so, back to ch.8.

Anonymous said...

"I’m particularly interested in the aspect of ‘being transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – how do you suggest that takes place? While I have my own views, I’d be interested in yours."

Brendan, worship of and allegiance to Jesus as YHWH did it for the apostles and does it today. To understand how that works, I prefer the simplest explanation that comports with the scriptures. Like Bryden, I admire the explanations of Dallas Willard which are readily available in videos and books.

But for most late modern people-- even some conservative Christians-- there is a sort of blind spot for what it actually is to be wholly devoted to a god. In that blind spot, I find an idea of the Catholic philosopher Linda Zagzebski to be helpful-- one's god exemplifies a pattern of divine motivation that we internalise ourselves as we contemplate his perfection and serve him to please him, and this motivation in turn stimulates the development of capabilities in the soul that serve that divine motivation. Zagzebski would concede that the incarnation of the Son is the best, and maybe the only fully satisfactory, instance of a divine exemplar.

So the "renewing of the mind" is not only coming to regard every creature more and more as Jesus does, but also being able to be visibly present to that creature as Jesus invisibly also is. That actually requires a recalibration of the human emotional repertory; one is pleased and displeased by different things. Martin Luther describes this as our transformation into "little christs" who have acquired some of his divine capability for seeing possibilities of regeneration in lives marred by sin.

Responding to another Catholic philosopher, Elizabeth (or G. E. M.) Anscombe, Zagzebski was trying to show the inner connection between devotion to a god and an ethic constructed around virtues of good being. That sort of *virtue ethic* tends to regard proper ways of being and acting as the true point of any rules or commands that may be valid. Some find a similar line of thought in St Paul, and some do not.

Bowman Walton

Bryden Black said...

Your question @ August 30, 2017 at 8:20 AM Peter is best answered by the previous chapter, 1 Cor 6. It strongly suggests your own suggestion might be deeply flawed!

Peter Carrell said...

Possibly, Bryden. But I am intrigued that Paul does not make the Romans 12:1-2 move within 1 Corinthians 7.

1 Corinthians 6 is much controverted, as you know. And it is at least arguable that on such a list as verses 9-10 provides, we find the kind of excessive if not criminal behaviour which SSB/SSM is certainly not about, given its focus on constraining human instinct to a permanent, covenanted relationship.

That is, proponents of SSB/SSM within the sphere of Christian theology could argue that it is precisely Romans 12:1-2 which is leading their minds towards a Christian resolve regarding same-sex attraction and desire.

Bryden Black said...

My necessary push-back Peter invokes the bodily nature of Paul's spirituality over against that of the Corinthians, in BOTH Letters. Nor can I see in those very Letters anything that might echo the likes of the currently proposed "accommodation", notably surrounding the nature of unity in these Letters.
As for that List in 1 Cor 6: as you'd know too, it harks back directly to the likes of Leviticus; and coupled with 1 Cor 10, I really rather think the ice you're trying to skate on is pretty thin ...!
So; I don't need to even invoke Rom 1 and 12:1-2 at this point - which of course is a later Letter by far; and I'd hope you would accommodate the possibility of Paul's theology developing, from 1 Thess/Gal to Col/Philemon.

Peter Carrell said...

That's probably checkmate, Bryden!

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden. Like Brendan, you're quoting Leviticus again - as a backing for your arguments against Same-Sex Blessings which is an entirely new phenomenon, having nothing to do with sex orgies, adultery or pederasty. Jesus actually did reform the LAW with his categorical commitment to loving God and one's neighbour as one's-self. Why can you not be content to do the same? This might be more appropriate for an ordained clergy-person in ACANZP in today's world.

Bryden Black said...

The wonderful thing about chess Peter is that we may set up the board and play again: a parable of mercy and forgiveness perhaps?!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I don't think the strictures in Leviticus were only aimed at the orgiastic!

How about a deal: we'll stop invoking Leviticus on sex (albeit through the lens of the NT) when Leviticus ceases to influence the robes and rituals of our liturgical worship?

Bryden Black said...

Dear Ron, Thanks for your own push-back. Yet I sense you miss what Peter and I are attempting in our exchanges.

I realize you’re not one for books and all that. You’ve made that plain over the years. But perhaps you could borrow a commentary or two on 1 Cor, Fee's or especially Thiselton's will do. Then perhaps you might appreciate my simple point as to what's almost certainly going on in Paul's mind when he assembles the list of 6:9-11. Rather than merely repeating those characteristic vice lists common in the Graeco-Roman world, he is almost certainly alluding to the by now common practice of catechetical instruction: “do you not know ...” constantly repeated in 1 & 2 Cor is the key signal. Thereafter, his list of 5 x 2 in 1 Cor 6:9-10 is tied directly into the context: the first five in chs 5-6, the latter notably in 11:17-34, which too the BCP famously picks up on.

It's exegesis of the written word of God we're talking about, Ron - should be talking about. And so for that we turn to Paul, the Christian rabbi, steeped in the OT, and here notably Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The latter clearly presents “the two ways” manner of thinking and practice, lauded notably in Qumran and so Paul’s contemporary Judaism. Paul explicitly echoes this tradition with his use of “the wicked”/“the unjust” versus “the justified”, together with “kingdom of God” talk, in chs 5-6. And then both Lev & Deut exhort folk to resemble the Holy Covenant God - as Paul is doing throughout 1 & 2 Cor. All of which he directly demonstrates when he turns to the OT in 1 Cor 10:1-13, especially addressing ourselves, vv.6 & 11. Nor should we miss the fact that 1 Cor 12:13 exactly parallels 1 Cor 10. There are consequences to belonging to Christ Jesus, as there were to Moses!

Two final points. Paul the Christian rabbi is often on show in 1 & 2 Cor. The entire opening section (after the introduction) is patterned after a rabbinical sermon, exegeting OT passages, 1 Cor 1:17-3:23, with ch.4 as its application. Then he gets stuck into their reports and their list of questions and stuff. Secondly, he uses that key rabbinical expression in both 11:23 and 15:1-3 re “receiving and passing on” key features of tradition. Paul is very aware he is but a member of a covenant community, one which should have a most distinctive character before ‘the world’.

Finally, your desire for God’s love is naturally also Paul’s - and therefore it must be ours too. 1 Cor 6:11 is a glorious expression of God’s redemption in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit; yet there are implications surely - just so vv.12-20! And the irony of ch.13 on “love” should not escape us: Paul uses the “I” form, when he is rhetorically meaning “you Corinthians” are actually just like this ...! Nor is 2 Cor devoid of all this. For example, 2 Cor 5:17, 20-21; 8:9, 9:15 similarly declare God’s beautiful, loving gift who is Jesus, beginning precisely with 2 Cor 1:3-7. Yet such love also brings with it necessarily features of power and authority. It’s one and same God with whom we have to deal after all ... And 1 & 2 Cor is VERY clear on this ministerial package deal.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, as a matter of interest, can you tell me which verses from Leviticus directly affect the Eucharistic Vestments used in catholic worship today?

On the other hand, Leviticus does prescribe disciplines which the Church no longer accepts.

Anonymous said...

Peter somewhere linked this--

Is there anyone here for whom this is not theological common sense?


Bryden Black said...

Not only is this "common sense" theologically and Biblically, Bowman; it is beautifully worked through and lovingly propounded. Thank you for the link!

Anonymous said...

Peter and Bryden (and Brendan),

This comment is about your conversation on St Paul's view of the body, which itself touches on one of Brendan's still unanswered questions. I can begin tonight, but will have to finish on Wednesday or Thursday.

SSB debates often seem unrealistic at this point: if evangelism is effective, it will bring some persons in civil SSM into the Church. This upsets some arguments on both sides.

On one hand, there may be compelling ethical reasons why these persons should not abandon partners, so that like it or not, pastors will be supporting these relationships, at least as economies. If they pray in their studies for those they counsel, is that SSB? If not, what if others join in those prayers? Is that SSB? If not, what if others join in those prayers in a larger room? If not, what if others join in those prayers in a larger room with a cross someplace? If not, what if... We cannot imagine Christian counsel without prayer, and any prayer short of a curse could look a lot like a blessing. How can one minister at all to same sex couples without blessing them in some sense?

On the other hand, it is far from inevitable that same sex couples will see frequent life-long sex as the point of their partnerships in the way that proponents of SSB suppose. Sociologists in my own rather secular society have noticed that our entertainment talks about sex a lot more than couples are actually doing it. And again in the US, gay sexual passion for a single partner seems to be somewhat fragile-- some men in SSM remain "active" only if they frequently change partners; many women in SSM lose interest in sex altogether. So even apart from religious considerations, and despite what may be intended, SSM will be for many an exit from sexual activity, not an entrance to it. If SSB is a step toward celibacy, why is it necessary to defend gay sex to accept homosexuals as they are?

And for at least some of those, a Pauline view of the life of the body could be a reasonable and even inspiring way of understanding the seasons of life. In many more traditional cultures, churchly couples have viewed sexual activity as a natural part of youth, but not usually of marriage in old age. In eg Byzantium and modern Greece, Orthodox canons allow married persons to enter monastic life; even married couples may enter *double monasteries*. But these were cultures that saw asceticism, not as extreme moralism in the service of earthly authority structures, but as the free spirit's bodily practise of spirituality in Christ.

If That Topic is really a feminist (and maybe feminine) conversation about marriage beyond procreation, then we can understand how gay realities that could not represent concerns of straight men and women have dropped out of it and thereby polarised it. But my concern here is to set all of that aside and put *ascesis* at the centre of our thinking about both SSB and St Paul.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Leviticus 8:6-9 is intriguing. When the NT prescribes no vestments for presbyters, deacons or bishops, I assume there is some scriptural background to vestments. Has this passage had no influence?

I realise Revelation has an influence on the decoration of some catholic churches, including use of menorah. But such things also have their background in the Torah.

Then, of course, our NZ Anglican ordinations propose the use of Numbers 11:16-17, 24-25b (priests) and Numbers 27:15-20, 22-23 (bishops). Admittedly not about robing, but a reminder that the Torah has some influence on our thinking about ministry.

Father Ron Smith said...

Precisely, Peter. Thank you for your "Admittedly, not about robing".