Thursday, March 29, 2018

On the execution of those who challenge power, then and now

Hello at the beginning of Maundy Thursday and the days that follow.

This is Anglican DOWN UNDER so I do quite a bit of trawling across our main print media news sites, Stuff and NZ Herald (and sometimes Sydney Morning Herald).

This morning I noticed the name of my friend and New Testament studies colleague, Derek Tovey. He has written an article on the historicity of Jesus' crucifixion for the NZ Herald.

Then my news trawling, which includes Twitter, noticed this article on a woman called Marielle Franco. I had never heard of her but she was a Brazilian politician who was assassinated after challenging the power structures of her country.

Her story is an analogue for the crucifixion of the historical Jesus: whatever divine purposes were being worked out through the death of Jesus (destruction of power of evil; propitiation and expiation of sin and guilt), there was an historical explanation for his death, as Derek Tovey's article explains. Jesus, a political nobody, threatened the cosy power sharing arrangements in Palestine, and needed disposing of, before things got out of hand.

Bonus link:

with H/T to a correspondent, here is an interview with Ross Douthat who has written a book on Pope Francis.

Bonus bonus links:

I have noticed this article on four options for evangelical Christians, responding to the cutlure of today in the West.

Also, because I want to mark the article even though I am going to ban discussion of it (for the Usual Reasons about That Topic), Ian Paul has posted an erudite, careful discussion of a case in the UK which raises some questions for ACANZP as it discusses the Motion 29 proposal.

Happy reading or viewing over the Easter break ...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Substitutional sacrifice

We may have read the news story this week of a French police officer, Arnaud Beltrame, who swapped himself for one of the hostages taken by an extreme Islamist gunman only to die of his injuries when the gunman shot him as armed forces moved on the hostage taker.

What you may or may not have read - because it is being ignored by some news outlets - is that the heroic officer was a committed Catholic Christian.

He gave himself that another might live.

Like Jesus, he sacrificially substituted himself for the sake of another.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I agree: cut down on the number of miracles needed for sainthood

Fr Maurice Carmody is a scholar and a gentleman whom I got to know when he was parish priest of St Francis' Catholic Church, Stoke, Nelson. He has doggedly pursued the NZ Catholic Church's ambition to have NZ's first saint made, the famous Mother Suzanne Albert. His scholarly researches into the matter have left no stone unturned, and there have been many trips to Rome to press the case. But he has hit a snag, as this report tells us: the Vatican quota of two miracles is too high.

I agree that the quota is too high. There should be no requirement for any miracles to be associated with a person being made a saint. None were required in New Testament times. In fact Paul addressed the whole church as saints of God (Ephesians 1:1), with no mention of evidential miracles. The implication is, of course, that the one and only necessary miracle for someone to become a saint is the miracle of salvation.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A weekend away

One of the best periods of my life - in which, praise God, there have been many good periods - were the years 1984-86.

I was in Dunedin for theological study at Knox Theological Hall (a Presbyterian seminary at which "private students" of the University of Otago, such as my Anglican self, also studied). I am thankful to this day for the outstanding quality of the teaching, the pastoral care and scholarly attentiveness of the teachers and the brilliance of the ethos. In hindsight, it was a wonderful era for Presbyterian ministers in training (a number of whom I have met up with in recent years) and it was near the end of an aeon. By the 1990s all teaching of B.Theol. and B.D. subjects took place at the University itself.

I lived at Selwyn College - an Anglican residential college of the University. Selwyn College then and now has had a mixed reputation: some brilliant and famous alumni have emerged from the College. But around Otago University, any story of heavy drinking fuelling outrageous behaviour, daring pranks and strenuous initiation rites is bound to bring "Selwyn" instantly to mind. Even if it turns out it was students from Arana ... :)

I worshipped at St Matthew's Church, Hope St - an inner city Anglican parish with a reputation as a leading student church. John Meadowcroft was the Vicar and he was an outstanding Bible teacher and leading charismatic. (It is another blogpost for another day to speak about some of the experiences of that charismatic era.)

Selwyn College was founded in 1893 and named after the first and only Bishop of New Zealand, George Selwyn. Is there any other Anglican bishop of the 19th or 20th centuries who has had two university colleges named after him? The other is at Cambridge University.

So this year is the 125th anniversary of that founding and this weekend past was the celebratory weekend. Teresa and I were able to travel down from Christchurch in a leisurely way on Friday. En route we stopped off at Karitane (about 30 minutes north of Dunedin). Its bays are exquisite. World class.

On the way back, yesterday, we journeyed via Aramoana at the northern end of Otago Harbour, then turned at Port Chalmers for a winding route to SH 1 back to Christchurch. This view, from a lookout above Port Chalmers, across the harbour to Portobello, is as good as they come, anywhere in the world.

Within 30 minutes of the centre of Dunedin such brilliant scenes as captured in the two photos above could be multiplied a dozen times. It is the most extraordinary region geographically and scenically speaking. It also has some tough weather. Let's just say it is not tropical there so the vast population of Auckland lives in Auckland rather than in Dunedin. But if Dunedin were closer to Auckland, it would be our largest city and Auckland just a port with some factories around the mudflats!

Back to the weekend. We had a great time with a welcome event on Friday night, photos Saturday morning, a cricket match in the afternoon, a fab dinner on Saturday night, then the opening of a new building ("Fitchett House" - a redolent Anglican name, as some readers here will recognise) on Sunday morning before gathering outside Selwyn's entrance for the beginning of our Palm Sunday church service.

In the pic are Archbishop Philip Richardson (our NZ Dioceses' Primate, former Warden and former student of Selwyn College), Bishop Stephen Benford (new-ish Bishop of Dunedin) and Fr Michael Wallace (Vicar of All Saints, Dunedin - the church which forms part of the Selwyn courtyard). We processed from the entrance to Selwyn around the block to All Saints church itself. ++Philip preached and +Stephen presided at our eucharist.

Archbishop Philip challenged us on Sunday morning to prove to him that there is one person God doesn't love. His point being that everyone of us - each of us utterly unique and different from the other - is loved by God. Without exception. On Saturday night, Bill English, former PM, spoke about his experiences of Selwyn College and what it had contributed to his life. He could not remember why, as a staunch Catholic he and his siblings ended up residents at Selwyn College, but it cannot have done them any harm because they have sent their children there.

Among several speakers on Friday night we heard from David Kirk, former All Black captain and current business leader based in Australia. He paid tribute to Selwyn as a place of transition from the cocoon of home to the independence of adulthood.

Nevertheless the lived experience of Selwyn was not far away in what was said by a range of speakers. In that actual history of the college, alcohol has been mixed many times with the "stupidity of youth" (a phrase used in Bill English's address), with predictable results. There was a lot of drinking when I was there. I imagine there is less these days. I think students are more serious about meeting assignment deadlines than we were.

What remains a challenge for the College is what Archbishop Philip addressed in his sermon yesterday morning: how to give expression to the love of God in a community of young people bound together for a relatively short period of time. A starting point is that Selwyn has always been strong on being a community. I can recall lots of alcohol drinking in 1984-86 but we also had supper together, in small groups, Monday to Thursday evenings. Coffee or tea. And biscuits.

Where there is tea and biscuits, there is the love of God! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Nelson's Vote on Motion 29 Final Report

Recently here I reported on the Christchurch Diocesan synod's decision on 3 March 2018 to support General Synod adopting the Motion 29 Report and its recommendations.

A week later the Nelson Diocese held a synod on the same matter. So far I have not seen a substantive public report on the decision, including the details of the motion agreed to. Nothing to date in secular media such as the Nelson Mail, nor in our Anglican Taonga, nor on the Diocese of Nelson website.

The only public note I am aware of is this Tweet by Trevor Morrison:

I have received other messages. On the one hand I am loathe to become an originator of news. On the other hand the Nelson decision is interesting on a few counts. Working from two published messages of vicars to their parishes (only one of which is on the web, here), I observe the following:

- the part of (a three part) motion to support the recommendations of the Motion 29 Report was supported by roughly 60% of the synod (pretty much the same as the Diocese of Christchurch, but the clergy vote was higher than here and the laity vote lower than here);

- another part of the motion was a unanimous vote making clear that same-sex blessings will not be permitted within the Diocese of Nelson. (For those who know little or nothing about the Diocese of Nelson, this is unsurprising.)

- the third part of the motion concerned thanking the Working Group for their work etc.

- there was concern within the Synod discussion that if the Motion 29 Recommendations do not pass then Motion 30 (from the 2014 Synod, which "lies on the table" currently) would be put forward again. Since Motion 30 is a change to the formularies of our church (i.e. explicit, formal change to doctrine), it is unacceptable to conservative evangelicals (including me).

- thus, by implication, it seems that some votes for supporting Motion 29's recommendations being adopted were pragmatically for the better of two options.

- by contrast, the Motion 30 v Motion 29 issue figured little (as I recall) in our Synod.

My final observation:

I suggest Motion 29, in its substance, will be agreed to by General Synod. In the two Synods where, conceivably, it might have been turned down, it has not. I am not aware of other Pakeha dioceses having Synods specifically about this matter but I have no reason to think that the other Dioceses are not also supportive.

A critical question, however, will be what details we will agree to since GS is capable of amending any and all of the recommendations.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Yesterday morning we had a special staff meeting at the Anglican Centre (where I work). At that meeting Bishop Victoria announced that she is resigning from her position as Bishop of Christchurch, effective from 1 May 2018.

Later, at 4 pm, this announcement became public. You can read it here. Bosco Peters has published a note about this and offers other links to relevant information. I join with his call for prayer for +Victoria as she discerns God's next step for her life and ministry, and for the Diocese as we make our next steps.

I have worked for and with +Victoria since 21 January 2010 - just over eight years, most of which have been dominated by our earthquakes and their aftermath. In that time we have had three different locations for the Anglican Centre and five different locations for Theology House. This last 16 months we have been in a common location and it is by far the best of the locations to work in. Bishop Victoria will leave her role with many things settled which were previously unsettled.

Through everything +Victoria has been utterly faithful to God and energetically determined that the God of Jesus Christ is at the front and centre of all we do.

Now we enter a period of change. I know we who live and work within the Diocese will be praying for God's help and for God's will to be done. If you are reading this outside our Diocese please pray for us.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Time for Love - NZ documentary - you may find your friends speaking on it!

I urge Kiwi readers, in particular, to take 48 minutes of precious time, with coffee, tea, wine and/or chocolates at hand to watch the documentary Time for Love.

This is a video, as I understand it, put together by the Auckland Rainbow Community Church in order to offer a viewpoint on the Bible and homosexuality before General Synod in May.

Most of those speaking on the video are friends of mine (and colleagues in the world of biblical and theological studies here). One or two are saying things explicitly I had not heard them say previously.

Perhaps particularly significant are the voices testifying to changing their minds, and the reasons they give for doing so.

I am urging that you watch this video for three reasons, none of which are about urging you to change your minds:

i. We have so little of this quality of biblical and theological presentation made in NZ that we should see what we can produce. (By "quality" I mean that it offers careful, considered thinking about why we might read the Bible in a non-traditional way. The voices include voices of some of our leading biblical and theological scholars.)

ii. Whether we change our minds or not on the matter of homosexuality, whatever we hold to with integrity will have greater integrity if it engages with the exegetical and hermeneutical insights brought forward here.

iii. I am not in it. You do not have to put up with me speaking :)

As previously, I am not going to accept comments on this matter.
As moderator I continue to need a holiday from moderating this particular debate.
There will be an opportunity in April, before General Synod in early May, to have such a thread of comments. I will re-link to the documentary then.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Marriage and Contraception

Thoughtful article here.

I like what it says about marriage as a distinctive relationship between man and woman.

I am not convinced that it makes an adequate case against artificial contraception since the purposes of artificial contraception can be the same as the purposes of natural contraception (e.g. spacing of children for the sake of the wife and mother's well-being). That is, I am not convinced it makes the case that there is intrinsic virtue in sexual intercourse timed to express unitive love without fertility and by contrast some kind of intrinsic vice in sexual intercourse expressing unitive love without possibility of fertility.

Your thoughts are welcome here.

If your first thought is to expound either the virtue or vice of same-sex blessing or marriage, create your own blog! If some reasonable, care-full consideration of the same arises in the course of a thread of comments, I will consider publishing your comment. But I do not guarantee that. I will guarantee that I will not myself comment on such comments, so do not address them to me. It ought to be possible for Christians to discuss marriage between a man and a woman and the kind of contraception they may or may not choose to use without invoking That Topic.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Good Anglican news in Christchurch

Not every bit of news about our Diocese in the local newspaper over the last seven or so years, since the quake damaged our cathedral, has been good news - that is, news in secular terms, at least, which is of the kind "Look, the Anglicans are doing something worth this newspaper writing about in praiseworthy terms."

Yesterday our Christchurch Press online carried a good news item about $4m being invested by Anglican Care (of our Diocese) in a Youth Hub, spearheaded by one of the most admired citizens in our city.

However I chanced upon some of the comments to the article - nearly always a mistake in the world of 21st century online newspaper interaction! - and realised that, well, "haters are going to hate."

So, as always with good news, some of us can find the bad news in it. Property values near the Youth Hub will sink. Why is any money being spent on young people whose parents should have brought them up properly. And, predictably, what about the cathedral?!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Can we reconcile the warrior God of the OT with the compassionate God of the NT?

A comment in a recent post below interestingly arrived in the midst of a teaching weekend intensive on the Old Testament.  Can we reconcile the warrior God with the compassionate God of the NT? (Acknowledged: that compassionate God is also found in the OT).

One immediate recognition in my mind is that there is a very long answer to this question, with some subtle, nuanced work offered by various learned and insightful OT theologians (e.g. Walter Moberley in his Old Testament Theology) which, in turn, builds on the complexity of authorship (competing voices, diverse aims and objectives in the writing community behind the OT documents as we now have them). This, at least potentially, softens our first reading of passages in which God says, swords swing, heads fall, and even children are slaughtered in the pursuit of purity.

My next recognition is that where questions about the vengefulness and vindictiveness of God are being asked outside the gentle, timeless atmosphere of academia, a shorter rather than a longer answer to the kind of questions voiced below might be helpful.

A third recognition is that I do not think it possible to reconcile the two versions of God without the possibility that an adjustment may be required of our understanding of the relationship between the words of Scripture and Scripture as the Word of God.

This is because the simplest route to reconciliation is to emphasise the humanity of certain passages over their "divinity." That is, to emphasise that certain difficult passages

(1) express a theological view of human authors rather than a direct divine command to be taken literally;

(2) may idealise a situation rather than tell us what actually happened. I give an example below.

If this is so, that may be

(i) challenging for many Christians to accept;

(ii) with consequences for how we understand a number of other passages we do not have in mind as we raise a particular question about the violence of God.

Here goes!

Moberly, in his Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013), takes up the question of Israel being "A Chosen People" (Chapter 2), which is the summary cause for "the ban" or holy war of destruction (herem) of that which stands in the way of the chosen people achieving possession of the Promised Land. I here give a brief exposition of a part of what is a much longer and more detailed discussion of these matters, which also takes into account material in Joshua.

Taking up Deuteronomy's "prime passage about election", Moberly discusses Deuteronomy 7:6-8 with reference to Deuteronomy 7:1-8 (pp. 54ff). In 7:2 God commands the utter destruction of the nations which stand in the way of Israel's occupation of the land promised to it.

He notes, incidentally, p. 56, that one of the most frequent approaches of scholars to Deuteronomy 7:6-8 on election is to ignore the role of election in connection with holy war. (Check out commentaries on Deuteronomy to see that this is so.)

Moberly recommends close reading of the letter of the text because that steers us away from taking the text literally. 

In doing this we notice several things. One is that the seven nations mentioned do not actually occupy only the promised land; they are more widespread. This suggests that they stand symbolically for the enemies of Israel.

Another observation is that immediately after the words in verse 2 about utter destruction of these enemies, Israel is commanded to "make no covenant" with them and not to "intermarry with them" (v. 3). These instructions are at odds with utter destruction: covenants are not made with dead people and intermarriage presumes not all have been killed.

This close reading of the letter of the text suggests that we do not take the text literally. Instead we should consider its rhetorical nature and its symbolic character.

That is, bearing in mind that Deuteronomy is a text which Israel is reading after the Babylonian exile, in a period when it has no military power to drive out any actual, physical enemies, we ask what it is actually persuading Israel to think and to do, and we ask what the reference to enemies being destroyed symbolises.

Thus Moberly, p. 61, proposes:

"Since, to put it bluntly, corpses present no temptation to intermarriage, the text surely envisages the continuance of living non-Israelites in close proximity to Israel.
In the light of this, I propose a reading of Deuteronomy 7:1-5 in which the text is construed as a definitional exposition of herem as en enduring practice for Israel."

In practice this means, negatively, avoiding intermarriage because this leads to "religious compromise," and, positively, destroying "those objects that symbolize and enable allegiances to deities other than YHWH (7:5)" but not destruction of people (p. 61-62).

Moberly concludes,

"In other words, herem is being presented as a metaphor for unqualified allegiance to YHWH" (p. 62).

He then makes the point that this is not "mere metaphor" because some specific actions are envisaged: avoiding intermarriage and destroying religious symbols which would compromise allegiance to YHWH. But such practices "do not entail the taking of life on the battlefield" (p. 62).

In other words, consideration of the human authorship of Deuteronomy, including the fact that it is not actually a text written at the time of the conquest of Canaan, and recognition of the human intentions of the text, to utilise the past (Israel entering the promised land in the time of Moses) in order to lay down a command for the present (Israel in Babylonian exile and Israel returning from exile to Judah), leads to new understanding.

Our first reading of the text, which implies a savage God bent in destroying people, gives way to a second reading of the text, in which we read something which is consistent with the continuing messages of the whole of Scripture: that God is love and God desires our unqualified love for him.

Friday, March 9, 2018

To conference or not to conference?

Ian Paul has put together a handy list of upcoming theological conferences. Here. It is rare to see such a list and thus worth noting here. Not least for me personally to access - I have a role in assisting clergy planning study leave and often they are in search of academic events which will contribute to their plans for study.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Apparently I have been heading in the wrong direction!?

Is theological education and ministry training in our church - ACANZP - in which most of my working days are invested (!!) deeply unfaithful to Jesus?

Jenny Te Paa-Daniels - a well-known theologian and prophetic figure in the life of our church, former staff lecturer and principal at St John's College - offers her view here.

I am not going to comment at length. What are your comments?

My brief comment is that it is plausible to have a caste of priests who look after the mechanisms of the church at worship ("every Sunday counts") and that the role of such priests is to teach the people of God the radical Jesus and spur each member of the church to take up the radical challenge of Jesus.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Our Synod debate and vote [UPDATED]

On Saturday 3 March 2018 the Synod of the Diocese of Christchurch met. Our major item of business was responding to the Final Report of the Motion 29 Working Group on the Blessing of Same Sex Relationships. [An UPDATE is below.]

Here Bishop Victoria tells the story of what happened:

"The Final Report on Motion 29:

Conversation and debate about the Working Group's Final Report on Motion 29 at the one day Synod at St Christopher's on 3 March was wide-ranging and mostly respectful; challenging and emotional. In the end our Synod voted to adopt the recommendations of the Motion 29 Final Report.

Both the house of clergy and the house of laity approved the recommendations with a 60/40% split. This simply indicates the opinion of our Synod as a way of informing those going to General Synod to debate the recommendations there.

Personally, I would like to express my gratitude to the people on the Working Group, the authors of the report. General Synod asked them to find a way people who hold different beliefs might move forward in unity, and they produced the Report and recommendations considered at our Synod.

I also thank our Clergy and Lay Synod members. Their faithfulness is appreciated.

But most importantly, I want to thank those members of our Diocese that bravely got up and spoke about issues that are deeply personal and usually private—I want to assure them that their voices have been heard.

General Synod meets in New Plymouth in early May 2018.

In Christ

Stuff has a news item here.

My reflection on Saturday's vote is that the 60:40 split in favour of moving forward on SSB has pretty much been the split on This Topic in the Christchurch Diocese for a long time. Several years ago when we had a motion favouring the now much forgotten Anglican Covenant (that is a motion which was a proxy for favouring "not proceeding with SSB") the motion was lost something like 45:55. In other words, yesterday was not a signal of a changed theological/ecclesiological make up to our Diocese in respect of This Topic.

I myself would take care not to interpret this vote as a signal of other characteristics of our theological/ecclesiological make up. For instance, if the vote yesterday have been that we do not support the current legislation on euthanasia being considered in our parliament, I surmise it would have been 90:10 against it.* If the motion had been about continuing to profess the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds I think the vote would have been 99:1% in favour. (I make no prediction about our keenness to retain the affirmation of faith in the p. 476 eucharist!). And if the motion had been about retaining the status quo on our current permissions and discretions re the remarriage of divorcees, I suggest the motion would have passed 90:10.

*Our most recent vote against euthanasia, last year, was 100% against legislative change.

UPDATE: A stirring editorial published today, Tuesday 6th March is here. I agree: the wisdom of Solomon is needed. This matter is not only about whether secularism is influencing the church, it is also about whether anyone is willing to hear what the church has to say ...

I am not going to publish any comments here. A recent comment thread here on ADU canvassed these matters widely and in depth. I envisage nearer to the time of General Synod in May, 2018 I will post about this topic again and comments will be welcome.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

There is only one eucharist but is there only one way to eucharist?

Cardinal Sarah will not have majority support of the Catholic Communion for his latest outburst against diabolical ministry, this time charging that:

"“The most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, sowing errors and favouring an unsuitable manner of receiving it,” the cardinal wrote.“Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host.“Why do we insist on communicating standing in the hand? Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God?“[Receiving kneeling and on the tongue] is much more suited to the sacrament itself. I hope there can be a rediscovery and promotion of the beauty and pastoral value of this manner. In my opinion and judgment, this is an important question on which the church today must reflect. This is a further act of adoration and love that each of us can offer to Jesus Christ.”"
But he makes a point to ponder about the purpose of the eucharist: in his view it is the epitome of adoration. That is, eucharist is (or should be, as exemplified by our posture in receiving) pure worship.

I suggest a triangle of such points, for us to ponder.

At another point of the triangle is eucharist as nurture or nourishment. This is readily exemplified in our Kiwi Anglican practice, flowing from our belief that baptism is entry to communion, so even the youngest child may receive. Thus some of our communion distributions involve a somewhat chaotic stream of people in which some stand to receive, some kneel, none receive on the tongue, this one holding out one hand, that one offering one hand placed upon the other, here a child reaches up to take the bread, there a parent breaks off a corner of a wafer to place in their baby's mouth (ok, some receive on the tongue!). We Kiwi Anglicans can scarcely say our children at such moments are engaged in an act of adoration. We can say that we wish our children to receive the nourishment of the body of Christ, that we want Christ's saving life to infuse their young lives. On the matter of posture, Presbyterians might offer a comment here: if eucharist is nourishment then the posture of sitting down to ingest the meal of Christ is appropriate.

For the third point of the triangle, imagine a slightly different scene, as we will have today at our Diocesan synod when we debate That Topic, a eucharist in which people diametrically opposed to each other on a matter of importance doctrinally* nevertheless share in the one bread of Christ signifying both belief and intention that they are one body of Christ,** in both cases, whatever aspects of adoration and of nourishment are present, the eucharist is fellowship in Christ. Participation through shared bread and cup is just that, participation in Christ. The appropriate posture here, incidentally, might be a circle of people standing, passing the plate and cup to one another, a circle and a movement of love, one to another.

Thus the citation above about Cardinal Sarah's plea for eucharist as pure worship is a challenge to the other points of the triangle. But the other points in the triangle are also a challenge back to Cardinal Sarah: it is not diabolical to distribute and to receive communion in ways which emphasise the eucharist as nourishment and as fellowship.

Incidentally, a lovely Anglican response to Cardinal Sarah is offered by Covenant and Catholicity in a via media post which reminds us that the rubric of the BCP provides for (requires) Anglicans to kneel when receiving, though the receiving is in hands placed in a supplicatory manner. However kneeling betokens rails.

The strictness of Cardinal Sarah re the way to eucharist is matched in an article on possible intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants (when married) by the strictness of response which emphasises the whole panoply of sacramental system in order for communion to be received. [Update: see also this caveat.]

In my own mind I am with the German bishops and not with their critics because their point is that our communion in Christ is about a shared understanding of the real presence of Christ and not about a shared understanding of how the real presence of Christ in communion comes about. When Christ taught us about his flesh and blood in John 6 the implication is that we receive that teaching and believe it. There is no implication about the role of human ministry in communion, let alone requirement as to what we believe about that ministry.

Cardinal Sarah's challenge, interestingly, is not only a somewhat severe challenge to ecumenical unity across the Christian world, a unity which only reaches true maturity in Christ when we not only meet together in council but also in communion, but also to Catholic unity itself. The practice he urges and the invective he brings against its diabolical counterpart is not actually conducive to unifying the post Vatican II Catholic church itself.

Our focus in communion must be Christ himself and not our practice in receiving. It is Christ who nourishes us, who binds us in fellowship and who draws us to adore himself.

As in other recent posts I will not take comments on That Topic or which veer towards discussing it. The topic here is the eucharist, how it is distributed, how it is received and who may share in it.

*we have other non-doctrinal matters today to consider that I think will demonstrate some strong disagreements.
** yes, of course, on this particular matter we may end up in schism, but it won't be today.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Important Agreement

I want to note here that when Anglicans have property disputes, they do not necessarily need to end badly. The Pittsburgh Episcopalians and Anglicans chart the way here.

This involves a fascinating distinction between (in my words) historic property and its value and recent upgrades and their added value.

I am happy to take comments about resolving property issues when separation arises and about the nature of property when held in trust for ecclesiastical use. I will not (NOT) take any comment which refers to the underlying issue for separation in Pittsburgh or hypothetically elsewhere in the present or the future.