Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I am on another blogging holiday!

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading through 2018!

This has been an extraordinary year for me personally, having no anticipation at its beginning that I would be elected a bishop before its end.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

As in previous years, I will be on a blogging holiday for a while, likely to resume service on Monday 14th January 2019.

As my new role Is already showing me how demanding it will be timewise, I am recognising that my aspiration to keep blogging will best be achieved by aiming to post once per week. And Monday mornings will be a good day to aim for making that weekly post.

Here is to Mondays in 2019 :)


I had some fascinating ministry experiences over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Two/four experiences illustrated the continuing reality and potential for the Christian faith to connect with many Kiwis and for "church" to be at the heart of communities. And two/four experiences illustrated the continuing reality and potential for many Kiwis to be disconnected from the Christian faith and for "church" to be at the margins of communities. We live in interesting times, with challenges and opportunities for the gospel.


Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, enjoy a wonderful Christmas, and may it be a launching pad for your calling as a bishop in God's Church. Looking forward to your episcopal ordination in February. Agape, Fr.Ron

Anonymous said...

God bless your offline & online ministry, Peter - having episcopal presence in the digital world (so significant, as you know, in the 21st Century) heartens me. You know, as I do, how it reaches in a way that IRL cannot (acknowledging that IRL reaches in a way the virtual world cannot).



Unknown said...

No, Peter, I hope that your holidays are nothing like a launch pad and everything like the vacation you will soon need. Every Christmas blessing on you and your family :-)

Bowman Walton

Unknown said...

No, Peter, I hope that your holidays are nothing like a launch pad and everything like the vacation you will soon need. Every Christmas blessing on you and your family :-)

Bowman Walton

Unknown said...

God bless you and your blog, Bosco! Thank you for your several stimulating visits to ADU this year.


Anonymous said...

This is where it's all headed, Peter, and this is what your predecessor was ready to affirm.

Will you tell your diocese that this is "following the Holy Spirit" - or is down a Gadarene slope? You decide.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear William,
Obviously in your Anglican context it is fine to use the word "Gadarene" in the way you have done, in respect to people who are made in the image of God.
I cannot envisage any contexts in my Diocese in which such usage would be fine.

Anonymous said...

If you think a bishop "marrying" a man while another (female) bishop smiles seraphically and "their" children watch on and that this is pleasing to Jesus Christ, then it is not our "Anglican" contexts that differ, but we are near to being in different religions. This is effectively the future for New Zealand Anglicanism that you have opted for. Like you, I had formative years in St Matthew's and I can only weep at this apostasy. What you consider pleasing to Jesus Christ I consider grave sin that will only accelerate the death of Anglicanism. No doubt you will be reading the Pastoral Epistles closely in the next weeks. Will you find this brave new world depicted there?

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
I made no comment on what is pleasing to Jesus.
I made comment on the use of the word "Gadarene."
I would be surprised as debate and discussion in our Diocese continues about what is pleasing to Jesus (and about what we weep over) to find the word "Gadarene" being used.
Put another way, the event you mention creates difficulties in a number of ways and at a number of levels - well known to Communion debates these decades past - and I can appreciate that you weep over it and have no problem with you using such language.
My specific objection is to the use of the word "Gadarene."

Anonymous said...

Well, if you got upset by the word 'Gadarene' you are majoring in minors and have an overly literalistic mind. The image is a common one in literature referring to an idea obsessing a crowd and leading to a mindless rush to destruction. You could equally say that Nazi-ism put Germany on a Gadarene slope to destruction. It was an image that Malcolm Muggeridge used in his autobiography 'A Third Testament' drawn form Dostevesky's 'Crime and Punishment', referring to the Soviet Union where ordinary people ended up acquiescing in terrible deeds. And I could reference more. I wasn't calling individuals "swine" but referring to the self-destruction of Anglicanism as sin as publically celebrated as Holy Matrimony by none other than the very ones who (in Anglican terms) are supposed to exemplify holy, Christ-pleasing behaviour. Of course, if you don't think same-sex acts are intrinsically wrong but rather are "right" for those who feel that attraction, then logically what the Anglican Bishop of Toronto has done is a Holy and Good Thing. Is it because you are resisting logic that you cannot see this? Something to talk about at Lambeth, maybe.
(BTW, animal imagery for sinners - not my intention in my reference - is found in Revelation and Galatians and these books should be avoided by those who would find this offensive.)

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
There will be many things to talk about at Lambeth.
I find it difficult, however, to imagine that we will be comparing Anglicanism with Nazi-ism!

Anonymous said...

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."

--Psalm xc 12

As we number the early days of 2019, may all our endings, continuings, and beginnings in this labyrinth of time be gracious.

Here up yonder, it is the red letter but usually neglected feast of the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In these parts, the feast does not fit New Year's Day-- a shallow time for eating holiday leftovers, watching televised sports, visiting relations not seen at Christmas, and making vain resolutions to be better. The last thing people want to hear today is a choir.

In Parador, where the night sky looks much like yours, the bishops have regularly transferred the observance to the date of an aboriginal celebration thick with animal sacrifice and magical incantations. They have reasoned that devotion to the Holy Name at that time allows the faithful to participate in the festival whilst sublimating its folk religion into something better. In the high Andes, Anglicans are Protestants who excel in enculturation of the gospel.

In Cockaigne, the Holy Name has a rite for solemn evensong similar in structure to that for the Blessing of the Bibles in that the observance is appointed for a season rather than a day, the readings are a catena of passages taken from throughout the canon, there are at least two homilists, and a meal is integral to the rite.

Because biblical studies and liturgics go hand in hand in Cockaigne, a few different catenae are in widespread use, presenting officiants with an embarras de richesses. One of them sticks to the theme that Jesus = Son = YHWH, taking the congregation from an OT reference to the angel of YHWH through Daniel's night vision of the "One like to a man" to a miracle performed by Jesus and on into any of a few brief texts in St Paul. Another is a midrash winding OT messianic texts cited in the NT around others pointing toward the marriage supper of the Lamb. Yet another uses TEC's collection of not-very-masculine canticles. And Cockaigne's enlightened policy of inter-diocesan adaptation continues to stimulate rapid improvement on these.

Like all of the readings being appointed for solemn evensongs, these catenae for the Holy Name model ways of reading the scriptures that are at once devotional and theological. They and the rubrics also slyly disrupt ways of reading that have lead to error and impasse. Perceptive Bosco implicitly raises the question whether these rites are *formularies*. A good answer to that would require a fuller discussion of the Memorandum On Doctrine and its sequelae than I can attempt here, but briefly the answer there is "No, but..." The CoC understands these services to be, not doctrine restated as ceremonial-- an oblique confessionalism-- but robust models of koinonia that enable and constrain more propositional teaching.


Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, it seems that some of your readers are subject to the sort of personal stress that might well project them into a New Year of grief and trouble. However, my wish for all of us is that the "Love of Christ will reign in our hearts" - for ALL people not just the holy and righteous! Jesus Christ died for all people. Thanks be to God!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Ron.
I am feeling the heat myself :)

Anonymous said...

Reading the comment* that appeared above at 9:43 as an inference from disgust to divine law to Peter's conscience, I am curious to understand why it might work for some people and fail to work for others.

EEW...YUCK! arguments are sometimes misleading but they are not necessarily crazy, nor are they always conservative. Here up yonder we see them from the right in arguments about sex and immigration, and from the left in arguments about industrialised food and fossil-fuel energy. By insisting that some truth is already in our gut feelings, EEW...YUCK! arguments are non-modern, annoying whatever in us still seeks the commanding view of Thomas Nagel's *view from nowhere*.

The underlying logic here seems to be--

(D-1) If one sees X and feels moral disgust, then one knows that divine law prohibits X.

(D-2) The more people know from moral disgust that divine law prohibits X, the more confidence all can have in one's own initial inference.

(D-3) The more people know from moral disgust that divine law prohibits X, the less confidence any can have in the judgment about divine law of one who is not disgusted by X.

If X = bloody wifebeating, we all follow the logic without difficulty. And the CAD hypothesis lends support from the human sciences to the implication of D-1 that empirically divine law simply is a predictor of moral disgust; this is not theology, but it does constrain what a theologian might think. So whatever its truth-status turns out to be, it is not crazy to think of EEW...YUCK! as a datum for the internal forum of the conscience.

Anonymous said...

But four robust objections have been raised against this opinion.

(1) Because disgust has some non-moral functions (eg hygiene, sanitation), we cannot assume that EEW...YUCK! always has moral import.

(2) In human intimacy, disgust is the default reaction that attraction and commitment waives. As children especially know for a few years, the whole idea of kissing is disgusting. So too is the thought of kissing the next 25 people you meet, or even the next dozen people of the opposite sex, but kissing one's own spouse is highly pleasurable.

(3) In mature adults, moral emotions are attention-getting signals prompting deliberation; in children, who are inexperienced in the effects of emotion on perception, what emotions merely suggest seems immediately and vividly real.

(4) It is hard to miss not only the number of situations in which Jesus teaches the subordination of purity rules respecting persons to the informed conscience, but also the later application of this to Gentiles in whom the Holy Spirit was seen to be active.

To which I add a fifth--

(5) Disgust ultimately promotes minds apt for procreation, as the Bible itself does. An argument about human intimacy is inescapably an argument from evolution** that all of the pertinent manifestations of disgust support reproductive success. As a fact of nature, this procreative teleology explains both the biological evolution of disgust and the whole vast complex of biblical references to sex, love, marriage, and family. Procreation does this more thoroughly and elegantly than a hypothetical but undescribed antihomosexuality.

So then, if we do feel EEW...YUCK! or queasiness or just surprise at the spectacle of a faraway male *bishop* marrying another man, what does that feeling mean? It suggests that, because bishops teach and rule within that vast complex of biblical references, one within which we ourselves live, we normally-- indeed humanly-- expect that they will model *reproductive success* themselves in order to do so with personal authenticity, and so we are uneasy with this exception to the expectation. Obviously, how much that exception matters to us depends on how much the expectation does. In fact, readers here who care little about procreation and a lot about childless relationships and clergy careers may find the spectacle rather uplifting.

* Please note, dear readers, that comments are about their contents and not their authors. Like yourselves, I can only interpret the words that I see on my screen. Interpretation necessarily assumes a human mind causing the words to be posted, but it does not so assume any particular mind. And words can have many meanings to others that surprise those who choose and arrange them. I herewith disclaim any intention of reading the minds of commentators at ADU.

** Because Genesis 1 made archetypal sense in the ancient Near East as an account of a god creating the cosmos to be his temple and putting his image in it, the early chapters of Genesis are best read for the same kind of sense, which happily supports the argument of St Paul at Romans 5-8. As St Thomas Aquinas noted, the Bible does not specify or require any particular account of the web of efficient causes that has resulted in the natural world.


Anonymous said...

"I herewith disclaim any intention of reading the minds of commentators at ADU."

- But that's what you're doing all the time, BW, in your long and speculative word salads about "disgust" and evolutionary theories about how negative emotions came about - which, if they were true, would be a defeater for any Christian doctrine of creation. There is NO teleology in evolution by natural selection (ENS), only adaptive outcomes. Teleology belongs to an older, more classical understanding of science that modern biology has sought to banish - along with Aquinas (although you pray him in aid at the end).
Similarly, there is no transcendent morality in a world ruled by ENS, since (according to this theory) all biological developments (including the emergence of mind, consciousness and emotions, as well as every phylum and species, from bacteria to homo sapiens) are the unplanned and undirected consequence of random genetic variations interacting with the environment. ENS is all about the Four F's, as someone memorably said.
The bishop in question is not 'faraway' from you, and I for one do NOT expect bishops to model "reproductive success" (whatever that means - it smacks of Darwinian reductionism); I expect them to model the holiness of Christian leaders described in the Pastoral Epistles. To lead the young and weak into sin is the gravest of all sins. (In God's eyes, of course, many whom the world thinks of as 'Christian leaders' are nothing of the sort, but this problem has been around since at least the First Letter of John, and long before him there were plenty of false prophets in Jeremiah's day.) My 'emotions' are neither here no there; with the right conditioning you can learn to love Big Brother and rejoice in evil. After all, there are critics who extol Pasolini's disgusting pornography. (Or have I just been conditioned through natural selection to find those things "disgusting"?) The Bible is replete with discussions of emotions (affection for the good, hatred for evil) which are understood of course as reflexes of our creation in the likeness of God, not as adaptive functions for survival on the savannah. That's too much like unprovable psychological Bulverism to me ("You feel disgust because millions of years ago ..."). It has the Popperian virtue of being hard to debunk but it's equally impossible to prove. It's about as useful as theories about phlogiston and ether.


Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Bowman and William for a superbly, high level of rational discourse.
Surely a sign of teleology in the progress (evolution?) of human consciousness :).
Albeit reminding me of the human situation - well known at this time of year Down Under - in which one tennis player serves and another returns and then forehand for backhand for forehand ... is traded!
The proper resolution of the debate - being worked on by me in a paper due for submission by 31 March 2019 (no revelations before then :) ...) - surely involves our rational appraisal of Scripture in the light of tradition with respect to contexts of knowledge, experience and community discernment.
That is, as always, the church, willingly or unwillingly, is invited to address community issues ... as Israel within the pages of the OT and the church within the pages of the NT did ... .
Meantime, this is likely my last contribution to this thread, for a few days, for reasons of technological reductionism (i.e. no access to my preferred discourse device, my laptop) during a sojourn into a remote part of Down Under.
Happy Holidays!!

Anonymous said...

Again-- "* Please note, dear readers, that [my] comments are about their contents and not their authors. Like yourselves, I can only interpret the words that I see on my screen. Interpretation necessarily assumes a human mind causing the words to be posted, but it does not so assume any particular mind. And words can have many meanings to others that surprise those who choose and arrange them. I herewith disclaim any intention of reading the minds of commentators at ADU."

Otherwise, we are debating persons rather than ideas.

Father Ron, I have only just caught up to Winston Graham's Poldark novels about Cornwall 1781-1790. I am intrigued that the BBC has seen fit to adapt them twice, in 1975 and 1977 and again in 2015. And although the human sciences lend support to David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed, I am startled that a depiction of C18 family life near Truro, Cornwall seemed so similar to actual C20 family life near Truro, Virginia. Knowing your familiarity with the south of England, I have to ask-- have you impressions of any of this?

William, my 4:48-9 explores how-- that is, it concerns efficient causation-- some find arguments from disgust persuasive and others not so. Is your 1:41 a reply to that?

Sometimes the arguments you post make sense to me, and sometimes they do not. And I would be the first to admit-- no, insist-- that scarcely any argument that I post is likely to make sense to everyone. Neither fact troubles me. Independent thought is a risky business.

Peter, enjoy your time "off the grid," as we say. But please do come back.


Anonymous said...

Dr William Carroll of Blackfriars, Oxford on cosmology in modern science and creation in St Thomas Aquinas.

Dr John Walton of Wheaton College et al describing the meaning of Genesis in the ancient Near Eastern context of its first readers.


Bryden Black said...

Two contributions to this thread:

1. Part of my summer reading addresses the ENS / teleology debate rather pointedly (while supplementing BW above). See Finding Ourselves after Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, gen. ed. Stanley P. Rosenberg, assoc. eds, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, & Benno van den Toren (Baker Academic 2018). It puts into stark perspective a number of comments on ADU re supposed claims of contemporary science.

2. Frankly, IMHO William has it with his “Gadarene” description. Just so, I too am on record with my own assessment: that ACANZ&P has committed “institutional suicide”, or more biblically, is bound for “exile”. Neither naturally enough denies the Lordship of Jesus of the Church; rather, they all lovingly demonstrate it - not exclusively of course, but at least truly enough. Yet as with all things ‘historical’, time and the fullness of time will surely show it ...!

Bryden Black said...

Two contributions to this thread:

1. Part of my summer reading addresses the ENS / teleology debate rather pointedly (while supplementing BW above). See Finding Ourselves after Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil, gen. ed. Stanley P. Rosenberg, assoc. eds, Michael Burdett, Michael Lloyd, & Benno van den Toren (Baker Academic 2018). It puts into stark perspective a number of comments on ADU re supposed claims of contemporary science.

2. Frankly, IMHO William has it with his “Gadarene” description. Just so, I too am on record with my own assessment: that ACANZ&P has committed “institutional suicide”, or more biblically, is bound for “exile”. Neither naturally enough denies the Lordship of Jesus of the Church; rather, they all lovingly demonstrate it - not exclusively of course, but at least truly enough. Yet as with all things ‘historical’, time and the fullness of time will surely show it ...!

Peter Carrell said...

I wonder, Bryden, whether gay and lesbian Christians have ever felt "in exile" within the church?

I shall follow up on the book when I have time and get hold of a copy.

Bryden Black said...

A number of us Peter have been exiled over the years - for sundry reasons, and excuses ... As always, who’s writing the ‘history’?! Nothing new there ...
What is new however is this latest confusion pretending to cover all bases when the premises are mutually exclusive.

Anonymous said...

Nearly any topic that has ever agitated churchfolk has prompted two conversations, simultaneous but not parallel or equal.

One is a polarised fight in the street about the worst possible implications of the crudest ideas that each mob attributes to the other one. I say "attributes" because the happiest of the happy warriors just know with a certain gleeful contempt that all of the other side has said and must think all sorts of things that bystanders have never heard some of them say, and that even those might reconsider anyway as they think further. The fighters are in the street because they want to get stupid and punch somebody; if they wanted to think or pray they would shut up, calm down, go inside, and listen for a long time.

Indoors, another conversation is somewhat concerned about what the mobs outside are shouting about, but although opinions are diverse, they are not frozen, not stereotyped, and not polarised. On the common ground of allegiance to Christ alone, there is an unforced respect for all at the table that does not entail that all agree to agree. There is no war of words, but there is a competition of reasonable ideas.

The streetfight is unreasoning. Jesus Christ has said that the enmity of those throwing punches is sin. The unreason and the sin are mutually motivating.

I understand how the street-fighters end up out of the praying Church and into the punching crowd. The dessert fathers long ago traced the stages of passion, temptation, and sin. As human nature works, once one resolves to act on a passion, one is better at doing things than at thinking flexibly about reasons and consequences. Personal minds are easily absorbed into the marching groupthink of crowds with pitchforks. Loyalty to those at one's side in a conflict causes one to overlook their errors of thought and deed, and magnify those of opponents. And once one has come to enjoy being a happy warrior, any outbreak of peace feels like a threat that must be put down at any cost. On the day when one finally sees that one deserves to be damned to hell for what one has done to the Body, one shakes a fist at the mirror and shouts at it that those on the other side have done worse. We have seen all of this human frailty and sin on the threads at Thinking Anglicans, Fulcrum, ADU, and elsewhere. Reformation-era pamphlet wars. A papal bull on the altar of Haghia Sophia. Factional fights in the NT. The garden of Gethsemane.

Now faith in Christ is confidence that the Holy Spirit will bring all creatures into the unity of the Son according to the Father's will. Back of that there is no more faith to be had. And starting from that, there is a straightforward path to the indoor conversation by the font and altar; the faith makes the dialogue possible. But there is no straightforward path from the faith to the street. Although we know that God's unity will mysteriously prevail in the end, we do not seem to have been commanded to do disunity that unity may come, slash bowels that surgeons my sew them, do evil that good may come. The justice of God is not achieved by the wrath of men.

That may be because God's left hand can always find fighters in the world to throw punches if he needs them, but he can only find witnesses to his Son's mysterious reconciliation in churches that are single-mindedly the Body. I am open to other views-- eg '70s liberation theologians, etc-- but it has been clear to me for decades that there is nothing in the Body like a mercenary church, offering its sword to kill for whatever shimmering causes come along. Soldiers and executioners have their callings in this aeon, but the tradition is not that we ordain them, but that we pray for the forgiveness of their sins. If fighting for a cause could give glory to God, testifying to the eventual reconciliation would give him still greater glory, and one cannot have it both ways.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
To be frank, I do not know what or whom you are getting at in your comment above?!
Possibly it is me.
If so, I suggest a comment here and there on blogs does not necessarily amount to a "street fight" but may be more a quick throwaway line or pointed note within a longer discourse which is "the body" in conversation.
In particular, I take this opportunity (whether or not my most recent comment is in view by you), to ask how the body of Christ on earth may be experienced as a place in which members of the body of Christ (the common premise, by the way, Bryden) do not feel exiled when seeking to work out differences within the body, including differences in theological understanding AND differences in experience of being human, especially differences in our desires, though united by capacity to love one another and holding in common (again, Bryden!) the premise that true love is faithful love and faithful love relishes being bound by covenant.
In such a body, is it necessarily the case that any Christian should feel exiled, when we are all bound to the head of the body?
The church, of course, at least as an all too human institution, is not that body (yet), but it might be ...

Bryden Black said...

“Now faith in Christ is confidence that the Holy Spirit will bring all creatures into the unity of the Son according to the Father's will. Back of that there is no more faith to be had.” BW

One of the additional references in my revised edition of The Lion, the Dove, & the Lamb (now published) was Aidan Nichols’ Figuring out the Church (2013). Now; it’s certainly written from an explicitly RCC’s perspective; but for all that, it’s mostly good Creedal, ecumenical thinking also. In the first place, “unity” is not only an eschatological focus, which Nichols avers too; there are three other dimensions to consider as well. The ontology of the Church spells out her “constituent features”. Epistemologically, the four marks identify the Church Community for who she is—as the Church of the Creed, and so of Scripture. And finally, pedagogically, the four marks enable us to construct a due ecclesiology, one that fills out the other three dimensions theologically.

I start here as “unity” is surely a hot-button issue. But we all know there is unity, and there is unity - and yet again, unity. Our previous century saw “unity” decreed by totalitarian regimes of sundry ideological kinds to be “uniformity”. The prior century again saw the rise of nations states - only to become embroiled in the War to end all Wars, the conclusion of which we remembered globally most recently. Nor is the Church a mere organization, with its supposed unity of purpose.

Acts 2:42-47 spells out Luke’s picture of the Church. That it begins with the apostles’ teaching is paramount. Paul too in say 1 Cor 1:10ff or Phil 2:1-13 founds the Church’s ‘common mind’ in the truth and reality of Christ Jesus, Son of Father and Messiah of Israel, who shares nothing less than the Holy Spirit as the vinculum, who binds three ways (as per Nichols), credally, liturgically, socially - in that order too note! And while there is much nowadays about the local church that is embodied in its unique and specific culture, so that in classic postmodern dress pluriformity reigns, the catholic whole of the human race should still remain a key feature of the Gospel and so even the dear old Anglican Communion. As the Windsor Report extolled (via Runcie) “interdependence” is the key.

To be sure Bowman; street battles aplenty have raged these past decades around the AC; and too few cool heads have drunk wine - or beer! - together around fires at night. From the start I’ve always seen the root cause to be a crisis of authority. For how do we “recognize” (Rowan Williams Advent Letter 2007) what means of legitimation are to be employed when trying to the solve any of our ‘dilemmas’ and so come to a decision regarding them. The sheer oddity of the ACANZ&P is now that we’ve concluded: “we don’t actually know; some think this, others think that; so here’s what we’re going to do ...” In the light of an Aidan Nichols this is just plain weird. Sure; some would try to spin it all as an act of compassionate mercy. Yet that just falls prey to Alasdair MacIntyre’s “emotivism” via his “Disquieting Suggestion”, given the grievous rupture of our contemporary moral frameworks.

So BW et al; whether 2019 will indeed be a Happy New Year or not for us in ANZ we shall just have to wait and see. Personally, with the precursor years of 1998 onwards, I’m not holding my breath ...

Bryden Black said...

You seem of late Peter to be trying to use "faithful covenant love" language to legitimate what's occurring among us. This might help us all, together with - yes again! - A Mac's work:

21. Robert Song, Covenant and Calling: Towards a Theology of Same-sex Relationships (SCM, 2014).
Perhaps the best summary and assessment of this book is provided by Ian Paul on his website:

Father Ron said...

A note to Bryden - at a time when Chyristians are still pondering the Incarnation, when God became fully human in Jesus Christ - the absolute 'otherness' of God has been surrendered, bringing the prospect of holiness into the sphere of our common humanity. At this, my only response is 'Laus Deo'. Glory to God for God's loving condescension - bringing a new relationship into being; bringing God's instinctive holiness into our human frame. God's incarnation brought the possibility of our divinisation; which has been freely offered - but can be rejected by individuals.

Sadly 'Disgusted of Hamilton, Christchurch, or Palmerston North' (or wherever) is still trying to put the genie back into the bottle. God took on our sinful nature; thus 'lifting it up to the Heavenlies' - in totality, not just for its 'righteous ones'. Of course, any one of us can reject God's sovereign provision which covers us with God's holiness and righteousness. However, it is not our job to judge which of our fellow human beings is rejected by God - if only for fear of the possibility that we are putting ourselves outside of God's overall provision of Salvation.

As for 'exiles' - the 'Holy and Righteous' (like GAFCON) seem to have a hell-bent capacity to separate (exile) themselves from other God-fearing people (who are only to aware of their unacceptability to certain conservative members of their human community). However, this is self-exile - not like the enforced exile of those of us who are made to feel 'outside the pale' because of our innate sexual difference.

What GAFCON & FCANZ seem not to understand is that God has no favourites in this vital matter of salvation. In his dealing with the different attitudes of the Pharisee and the Publican, Jesus made quite clear who was 'justified'; not by his sinlessness but by his acknowledment of his need of salvation. Another reality that needs to be taken into consideration is that LGBT+ people do not 'choose' their orientation. It would mostly prove to have been too difficult a choice.

Some have chosen their 'exile', while some are exiled by selective discrimination - sexism, racism, classism and homophobia

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Ron - sincerely. As is often the case here on ADU, this latest comment is curiously and simultaneously both totally on the money and utterly bankrupt as a response to what I’m saying ... But there it is.

Anonymous said...

"To be frank, I do not know what or whom you are getting at in your comment above?! Possibly it is me."

No, Peter, you are among the few who were not on my mind at 1:49.

What am I getting at? The Fall was bad; among those with a clear allegiance to Jesus Christ, polarisation is the next worst thing. Indeed, for the reasons given in my comment, a putative allegiance to Jesus Christ is suddenly much less clear when a disciple intentionally polarises the Body. I am perplexed and scandalised that this is not obvious to people who have been reciting the creeds, reading the Bible, resisting temptation, and praying for the Body and the world all their lives. The root cause of their confusion is the Deceiver, of course, and the mediate cause is an individualistic gospel detached from both christology and sanctification-- this also makes it hard for Christians here up yonder to discuss gun addiction-- but from time to time I post some comment that diagnoses the disease from its symptoms.

Lately, I have watched a few of us offer comments here that used empirical reason to allude to probable common ground. We have our views and they are not the same, but the empirical move in itself seems an irenic one. I have been disappointed to see these engaged, if at all, with extreme reluctance.

Anonymous said...

Three salient examples.

(1) Your references to the self-awareness of individual persons who say that they have only had SSA-- and have been believed by those who know them best-- has not been engaged as one would wish. It would be interesting to see someone spell out in an irenic and empirical way how pastoral care can work on the supposition that a soul is deluded about its constitution. Or, if that is too heavy a lift, why not comment on the report of the American Psychological Association task force that grappled with the task of caring for persons with SSA, some of whom want help to live with it well, and others of whom want help to live without it well? Ian Paul has quite rightly noted that, for all its unbelief, this report is more even-handed and evidence-based than anything thus far produced by a church.

(2) Meanwhile, I have taken to referring to Hx mainly as a reminder that revisionist belief in the bare possibility of an organic lifelong SSA does not in itself warrant a churchly leap into the whole secular project of LGBTQIA*, so that even if SSB in the Hx cases were reasonably grounded, the slope from there may be-- for Christians especially-- an uphill climb rather than a downhill slide. Now happy warriors at the poles badly want a slippery slope to stoke either faithless fear or unholy impatience in their partisans, but those with more of the serene mind of Christ might find it most charitable to those in each of the several conditions to listen to them separately and respond to each independently.

(3) And Bryden and William, like Brendan before them, have pointed to peer-reviewed empirical study of the instability of sexual disorientation in some persons. Among themselves, they have drawn different inferences from that data. I will not try to speak for any of them here, but it was not *prima facie* unreasonable to think that this does not support Hx or the leap from that to the wilder frontiers of LGBTQIA. It would be timely and unpolarised to read some serious attempt to engage the predicament of a pastor and parishioner who both know what Brendan, Bryden, William, and their researchers know-- does anyone not know this even without studies?-- whilst trying to make godly, and maybe scriptural sense of a divorce after SSB that has posited lifelong fidelity as the whole point of sex. For instance, consider the predicament of a woman who, after marrying a woman and building a solid relationship with her, gets pregnant in the usual way, which she never ever expected would happen until she suddenly, desperately wanted it to happen. For extra credit, consider some familiar complications of that scenario-- ordination, abortion, miscarriage, reproductive technology, etc. The dogmatic essentialism of conversation on That Topic is propping up theologies that are tidier than the created order.

* To be clear, churches may have an even larger project than that before them. There is no possibility that we can avoid some serious engagement with the wider range of involuntary malevolence, not just pedophilia, but also eg personality disorders. Prepare for a long twenty-first century.

Anonymous said...

Now if any feel moved to attempt these essays then, with Peter's leave, please do. But what prompted my reflection at 1:49 was not any one of these examples, nor our disagreements here about empirical knowledge per se, but the eager polarisation in argument that seems unwillingly to acknowledge our common ground in Christ. There are also some warm interpersonal exchanges, but these do not seem to be making minds more receptive to mildly disruptive ideas. Why is our unity in Christ not more evident in these conversations?

"In such a body, is it necessarily the case that any Christian should feel exiled, when we are all bound to the head of the body?"

No, we have an inaugurated eschatology. Just because we are bound to the head of the Body we are all together in the same exile of being embodied in the present aeon whilst living toward the one to come.

Anonymous said...

"Without Me, you can do nothing." St John xv 5

Peter, your other question about practice is complex. A basic answer is in the two lines that Bryden plucked out--

“Now faith in Christ is confidence that the Holy Spirit will bring all creatures into the unity of the Son according to the Father's will."

Everything that has been revealed by God is developed from what the first sentence, or a better one like it, says. God does not give us unity to make gospel-spreading more efficient; the unity is the gospel itself, and disunity is apostasy. Salvation is not just forensic, but participatory. So the Bible says.

"Back of that there is no more faith to be had.”

That gospel is the principle of any metaphysical knowledge that we can have. God saving the world is the macrocosm of which any fruitful thinking that we do is the microcosm. Therefore "seeking to work out differences" can succeed if, and only if, it is receptiveness to the unity that is being wrought by the Son. Our unhappy divisions have arisen from an embittering habit of preferring divisions of the Body and the defeat of fellow Christians to reception of the unity from the Son that is given by the Holy Spirit. You will already have noticed that division with *generous accommodation*, as the CoE once put it, is nevertheless resignation to the absence of that unity, and so to the falseness of the first sentence, which is, of course, the gospel.

After two generations as a permanent minority in a never-ending division, the embittered around the Communion are in revolt. This is wrong, the pretext is an odd one, and happy warriors may not fare well in the aeon to come, but the elevation of majoritarian rule to the place of at least the second sentence has made this outcome inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Now if we tried to give unity from above its gospel due, our "seeking to work out differences" would already be radically different in that only differences authored by God would be tolerable. How can I convey what a drastic difference that makes? It is a fine thing to have a plantation of one's own, but if there are fire-breathing dragons about the countryside, then it is really so much safer to be in the stone castle behind a moat that sane people will bang the gates until somebody lets them in. Once inside, bragging about the exquisite carpentry of one's own house is a little beside the point.

The Body does what it can do with the unity that God gives and no more. We see that unity in what the Body actually does, not in anything said or voted upon. For hard individual cases, Jesus Christ has given the power of the keys, fallible and inevitably controversial among us but accepted by God. Traditionally, the best responses to most problems, questions, and emergencies have been recognised in retrospect as the work of the Holy Spirit, and collected for the future in canons. Where there is no Christian prince, a sort of synod can be one fruitful way to coordinate work on the temporal needs of the Body, like clergy pensions and church repairs, but in the C21 there are other ways, and it is not strictly necessary to have one. None of this is complicated unless we make it so.

Does civil SSM make it so? Not that I can see.

Institutionally, it is rather humiliating. Caesar got to it first. SSM cannot be a sacrament; even MWM is not that. There is no Christian belief on which to build a lesser rite for it, and no synod can make new ones like a short-order cook at a grill. One can admire fidelity and covenant as much as anyone and still worry that gilding this particular lily may kill it. In the public view, churches cannot credibly commend or oppose a practice that has only existed for a few years. And when they do so anyway, they are read as taking sides in class-based culture wars. It is hard to be further from the gospel that the Son is drawing all to himself than that.

But the Life of the Body is more than the institutions that it sometimes uses and sometimes shoves aside. The injustice of the civil order that lacked SSM is probably plain now to most people. Even if churchfolk thought SSM was something as hideous as war, they would still pray for those who go off to it in good faith. Clergy are not going to let those who try SSM face it without the support of the Church. The next generation of the faithful will know more about this than we can know, and will do wiser things with it than we can imagine.


Peter Carrell said...

Thank you all for recent comments - Bryden, Ron, Bowman!

Very, very brief notes - not a full response - only on my iPad!

1. Jesus said, Blessed are the bankrupt!

2. Ian Paul reviews Robert Spong well. My own argument re a pragmatic, empirical approach moves in a different direction (seeking less to establish legitimacy of a new rite etc and more to work from ways in which Scripture offers support for "concessions". - cf. 1 Cor 7.

3. I accept that Synods can make poor decisions but there does not seem to be acceptance above that Synods might discern the mood and spirit of the church (if not the Spirit) and thus Synods may be less agents of polarisation and more meetings of minds determined to find a way or ways forward that are not perfectly united but do give expression to what the vast majority wish. In turn that may be criticised as "Majoritarianism" but it might also be about improving people's lives. The critique of Majoritarianism does not, as I read it above, and previously, tell us how we would have lived all these decades without remarriage for the divorced, ordination of women, a new prayer book, etc.

Bryden Black said...

“No, we have an inaugurated eschatology. Just because we are bound to the head of the Body we are all together in the same exile of being embodied in the present aeon whilst living toward the one to come.” Perfect BW!

Recently I was in a lift travelling three floors up with a retired bishop to a meeting we were both attending. We know each other reasonably well as I was once one of his examining chaplains.

He asked me innocently (sic): “How are things at St C’s?”

“Well; as you’d expect”, says I, “tricky ...”

“And what are you going to do?”

“Well frankly; I would not have done anything like what GS has done. Making the whole thing a regulatory defined matter forces us all to decide, to come to a judgement. Rather, we should have dealt with it completely differently, refusing to buy into a cultural agenda but pastorally embracing those explicitly involved over the long haul with a Gospel of patient healing and transformation. We might have all benefited.”

“I hadn’t thought of that possibility ...”

The lift doors opened and we went into our meeting. And given the specific backgrounds of each of us, this exchange is staggeringly loaded ...

Bryden Black said...

One very brief retort Peter: your alleged extrapolations of concessions from 1 Cor 7, which you tried on before, singularly fails in context - that of 1 Cor 5-9. Please; as a NT scholar you/we must do better ...! Thanks!

Peter Carrell said...

That's the point, Bryden!
Any argument has to take account of the whole text (see now, e.g., Andrew Goddard on Psephizo, currently latest post there via my sidebar) and you keep on prodding/provoking me to do better :).
Needless to say, when I finally publish, I will dedicate the work to you, acknowledging your vital role in my, ahem, theological and exegetical development ... :)

Bryden Black said...

I fancy the traffic has been two way Peter. Just so; my having to revisit RS. Still siding with IP though. Shall check out AG naturally.

Meanwhile, I do hope to not see 1 Cor 7 for a while ...!

Anonymous said...

Is it not the brake that enables your car to go? For when you lift your foot from it, your car moves!

Does not a prisoner owe his freedom to his jailer? For the jailer is the one who unlocks the cell so that he can walk out!

And does not a dam cause a river to flow? For it is only there at the great submerged wall that the placid water upstream spills into the channel downstream with great force.

For the cause of each thing is the cessation of what inhibits it.

Just so, synods are the progressive principle in churches. For when they vote to get themselves out of the way of the faithful, then churches adapt to reality unhindered. From this has come remarriage for the divorced, ordination of women, a new prayer book, etc.

-- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Anglican Edition.

Father Ron said...

Brilliant! (Lao Tzu - via Anonymous)
Simmilarly - First Law, then Grace. Until Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law, the fullness of Grace was not set free. Alleluia!

Bryden Black said...

... And when authority becomes so dispersed - as in ideal Anglican ways - then there’s nothing to tie even the Body to its Head any more.

Appendix 151, Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Revised Anglican Edition.

Anonymous said...

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

-- Ecclesiastes iii 1

Did you know, Father Ron, that there is an Anglo-Catholic priest in Parador who is much older than you-- more than a centenarian-- and who not only still says Sunday mass (as you do), but afterward relaxes in the village red light district (as you likely do not do)? After sipping the local liqueur with his parishioners, and collecting his honorarium from the senior warden, he tips his wide-brimmed A-C hat-- do you remember those?-- to the ladies, strides down the street with his cape billowing behind his cassock, and then to the wonderment of all the watching village, steps briskly into the shadows of the alley of pleasures. "We must always be about our duty of evangelism," he often says, and it may be that he inspires the men of the village and the ladies of the afternoon in equal measure.

Now that happens so regularly that there would be nothing to remark here, except that on one Sunday he took the congregation with him. The gospel reading appointed mentioned some possibly similar dining of Our Lord. (No, probably not *spaghetti alla putanesca*, but what?) His homily was, as usual, an explication of some other text-- the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. Being the doughty conservative that he is, he does expound more often than chance would predict on the wisdom books of the Bible, but it was not until later clear how this chapter was related to the appointed gospel.

As people were waiting for the benediction, he instead summoned the crucifer, thurifers, et al and sent them down the aisle, through the gate, and into the street outside. He sent the servers after the parish banners, urged the matrons who serve refreshments to bring those along when they could, and recessed down the aisle. An Anglo-Catholic choirmaster knows a procession when she sees one, and so she hastened down the aisle after him, intoning the Litany for the choir pouring out of the chancel after her.

So even in the high Andes, mad dogs and Anglicans go out in the noonday sun. Now the villagers know what a procession is supposed to look like, and even this helter skelter one sorted itself into proper form behind the cross and the gorgeous silk banners for which the parish is renowned. But in every other way it was a puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Where there is a procession there must be a feast for the occasion must be a feast-day, but from porch to porch the ladies of the village exchanged glances. None had smelt any unusual cooking and baking, just the sweet perfume that always drifts from the bakery and the spicier aroma of the stew with which the ladies in the alley lured young men into their arms. But since it was Sunday, all had baked or cooked a little something, and one of them, implored by the eyes of St Mary from her banner, stepped into the street after them with the game pie she had just glazed with its sauce. When one neighbour will do, no other will be outdone, so a procession of foods was soon following the pious down the street, around the corner, and into the alley of which all had heard though only some had seen, in one role or the other.

And there they saw something that nobody had ever seen: by the authority vested in him as a notary by the President of the Republic, the old padre was solemnly pronouncing two old whores to be married. Now he did not at that time say why he was doing that; the law does not explain, it just does. But the older women suddenly saw for themselves why the tenacious old fox had been beating their husbands at chess in the village tavern for as long as anyone could remember.

Decades before, the disowned daughter of a wealthy family had ended up in the alley, which suited her scornful relations, but outraged the aunt who had survived her husband in the family's oldest house. She bequeathed this house to the disowned daughter, who by the time of her demise had become attached to another woman of the alley. Now the mistress of the house had herself had a brush with death that showed, if any had doubts, that the family had intended to take back the house and throw her companion and her belongings on the street. The padre had made this impossible.

Anonymous said...

Now the Anglican bishop in that thin air was used to hearing grumbles about the old man. To some he was too conservative, a hopeless romantic too out of touch with the progressive ideas of today. But most were unnerved by what was tactfully called "his capability for executive judgment." One could not blame him for being challenged to a duel by a wicked man, or for being a good shot when his own life was in danger, but everyone was startled when he officiated at his fallen foe's funeral because the Catholic padre could not. He does the logical thing even when the logical thing is not the thing that people usually do.

Still, it is not every day that a bishop's phone rings with a complaint from the president of the associated brothel keepers that a whole parish has disrupted business with a wedding for their ladies. And there was that odd detail that the couple of honour were both women. Odd that it happened, odd that one of his priests had done it with no authorising canon, and oddest that he was the priest in the diocese with the least patience for revisionist chatter about anything, let alone SSM. Their conversation was going to be an interesting one.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, and readers of ADU, here is today's reminder in 'National Catholic Recorder' - of the fallibility of the Catholic Church (of which we are all a part) which also applies to the fallibility of the USA national "make America Great Again Movement:

Make the Catholic Church great again? There's no going back
by Daniel P. Horan
Despite political slogans to the contrary, there has never been a time when America was "great." The same thing could be said about the Roman Catholic Church.

"There has never been a "great" time, a "golden age"; a context in which the church was actually a "perfect society" or anything apart from what it always has been and remains: a pilgrim community of the baptized. It has always been simultaneously holy and sinful because it is composed of imperfect, weak and ordinary human beings like you and me and everybody else."

The Body of Christ on earth is made up of fallible human beings, all reliant upon the holiness of God-in-Christ to redeem us.

Kalo Epiphania!

Bryden Black said...

A more significant non apocryphal story here, albeit rather off the radar of most Latin Westerners:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter, also here up yonder Lambeth Conferences, the General Convention, and diocesan bishops and synods all played governing roles in the adaptations that gradually brought remarriage after divorce, the new BCP, and the ordination of women. But just because these were *adaptive* changes, they would have happened anyway, and maybe sooner, if there were no GC at all.

In contrast, *creative* changes are best fostered by structures and practices beyond the scope of ordinary governance. From here, it appears that, at least with respect to That Topic, your General Synod discovered that for itself.


Anonymous said...

On majorities, Peter, we do seem to be thinking from different contexts.

One could build a plausible Western case from Luther and Hooker that, whilst an instructed lay prince should weigh and balance the arguments in matters of church governance, absent the royal supremacy, this can be done by representative groups using some majority principle to reach decisions. This makes some suppositions-- the representatives seeking unity speak for a unified body; their decisions are governing order not creating it; voting summarises the will of the voters; governance is an exercise of prudence with respect to common interests; majorities are usually prudent enough to govern; each vote has its own unique majority; minorities are usually a heterogenous mix of those less prudent, more ideological, or otherwise distracted from what is most urgent. Please note that, for better and for worse, there is nothing supernatural about any of these suppositions.

From all that I have seen and heard, those suppositions have usually made sense in the local synods of all denominations that have them. This is why they have been so effective, not just at governing churches, but also church-sponsored schools, hospitals, universities, etc. And of course, it is why the representative civil governments of your Parliament and our Congress have also worked tolerably well in less troubled times.

But from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the Culture Wars of the 1980s, and the alt-Right candidacy of Donald Trump, Americans have been learning, both in churches and in legislatures, that when the several suppositions of majority rule are not actually true on the ground, plodding majoritarianism can lead to serious injustice, deepening division, and absurd appearances. For just one lesson of this long course, consider the racially polarised towns here like Ferguson where white majorities have been lording it over minorities of colour since time out of mind. No theory of rights can keep up with all the injustices that result from centuries of that misrule. Yet the only permanent remedies for this are either to persuade the two groups to freely choose to merge-- neither is willing-- or for the two blocs to take power in turns-- which is not majoritarian. We see a relief of symptoms in those places when the white bloc divides, part of it supporting the candidates of people of colour to subvert the majoritarian outcome.

So like any other tool, majority rule has its uses and its limits, and there will be tasks for which the wise constitutionalist uses others in the toolbox. Crisis ensues when governing bodies cannot or will not avoid challenges to which majority rule is not adequate. And indeed, much of the developing world has been telling Americans for the past few generations that, while elections and majorities are fine and good, these tools are unhelpful for their most urgent and intractable problems-- boundaries dividing kin and uniting enemies, foreign ownership of key industries, resource extraction economies, scarce water crossing borders, hard social hierarchies, etc. Since the Second World War, our diplomats-- we used to have more of those-- have learned to accept incremental progress toward our preferred world of democratic republics. Even at home.

Anonymous said...

Is it just a coincidence that those GAFCON prelates who show the least comprehension of the dilemmas of the general synods of TEC, ACC, CoE, and it seems ACANZP are leaders who have emerged from just such places where robust majoritarianism is not obviously a good thing? I do not think so. And is it a coincidence that the more divisive the actual results of our most majoritarian synods are, the more we hear mystificating talk that the Holy Spirit made them divide the Body? We used to be able to appeal to the intrinsic reasonableness and justice of what majorities do, but that was when the suppositions of majority rule were more intact on the ground.

There have been good nations without parliaments and good churches-- even Anglican churches-- with nothing like a modern synod. (After Matthew Parker, the CoE had not even the old convocations of Canterbury and York through the whole formative phase of what became "Anglicanism.") Nevertheless, American diplomats will continue to recommend that developing nations respect voting more than they have done; Anglicans will continue to entrust the governance of churches to synods that are as representative as possible. In each case, that is a straightforward matter of identity-- America is about democracy etc, and Anglicans about participatory governance etc. But although experience may have been a necessary tutor, neither identity ultimately requires or allows anyone to be unmindful about reality on the ground or in the heart.

No analogy is perfect, but when I think of change-happy Anglicans ruling Bible-driven Anglicans generation after generation around the Communion, I think of those Southern towns where the paler citizens have been ruling the darker ones even longer. Harm is rarely intentionally meant in either case, but just because these majorities feel so righteous about what they do, they do harm to their minorities because the *righteous mind* has its root in the suspension of empathy that enables one to kill for the tribe to which one belongs. Harm on the streets of Ferguson is using more force than strictly necessary; harm in a church is trying to delegitimate those who hold competing views (eg TEC deposing conservatives from holy orders) where those in the Son should instead deepen common belief and in that light understand difference. Again, although we have heard happy warriors insist otherwise, the fault is less in ideas or ill-will than in a polarisation that enables unconscious cruelty in frozen majorities trying to feel righteous.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Bryden, it is almost as though Canterbury had established new Anglican provinces around Nairobi or Sydney.

Athanagoras has won. These things take time, but over half a century the Second Rome has been rolling back the expectations of the Third Rome-- the rejection of Moscow's grant of autocephaly for North America, Constantinople's growth Down Under and in East Asia, adroit use of the EU as a platform, the convening of a Great Council, and now, despite decades of warnings from Moscow and mutterings from Unia Catholics, this *tomos* for Ukraine which the present government there will respect. Internally, this continues an extraordinary revival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that began with Athanagoras, and reflects the emboldened Holy Synod as much as it does Bartholomew. Externally, this has been as crazymaking for nationalistic Russians as anyone would expect-- thoughts, Andrei?-- but since the First Rome may lose the most on the ground in Ukraine, I wonder most how those around Francis are evaluating this.

Pussy Riot may not be the most reliable guides to Orthodox dogmatics, but their protest does exemplify something sane from the Byzantine Commonwealth that Jens alluded to in his famous "You Wonder..." paper-- where the Holy Spirit is seen to have begun the Body at Pentecost, his work is not exclusively identified with either institutions (eg papacy, denominations) or individuals (eg pietists, evangelicals), but rather is a cosmic renewal in which both can be discerned to have somewhat participated, or not. This enables believers in the street to respect both the patriarch in the capital and the holy fool on the corner but discourages them from too closely identifying either with the Body. The flamboyant punk rock ladies scolding Kirill for his ties to Putin echo myriads
of more decorous matrons down the centuries who have deplored the worldliness of prelates ensnared by the imperial court but revered the intrinsic authority of holy women and men.

It is striking that, apart from the dogmatic deposit of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, nothing that Orthodox attribute to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was promulgated by any recognized authority. Everything-- calendar (tradition, monastic commemorations), liturgy (eg Menaion, Triodion), canons (The Rudder), spiritual counsels (Philokalia), etc-- has been collected and circulated by enterprising monks far from power. When these collections "went viral" throughout the Body with healthy results, they were received on this *organic* evidence as given to the Body by God. Is this not the sort of thing that a believer in the Resurrection would expect the Holy Spirit to do?

William Abraham (Canonical Theism), Thomas C Oden (A Change of Heart; Rebirth of Orthodoxy), and others besides Jens have noted that, although the Latin West also understood authority in this organic, rather scriptural way in the M1 (eg Gregory's collection of chants), the rise of the papacy early in the M2 (eg Innocent III) began the more abstract and juridical idea of authority by which churches live and alas die today. In the high middle ages, that renewal of Roman law brought order to the lawless West (eg church weddings), but that mission was accomplished long ago. Today, there is no obstacle to a renewal of the *spiritual sense* (Dallas Willard; Sarah Coakley, Paul Gavrilyuk) that can encourage spirituality and spark convert-led growth.


Bryden Black said...

To pluck another line from BW:

“The Latin West also understood authority in this organic, rather scriptural way in the M1 (eg Gregory's collection of chants), the rise of the papacy early in the M2 (eg Innocent III) began the more abstract and juridical idea of authority by which churches live and alas die today.”

When I first trialed my “Deconstruction” chapter 8 of LDL at a theology conference, it prompted two fascinatingly different responses from two of my RC confreres. The one (from NZ) objected vigorously that I was just another Protestant trying to cut the RCC down to size yet again. The other (from Sydney) quietly both complimented me and then complemented the presentation with a replica of your comment, Bowman.

“The first millennium Church was seeking to be a Body signifying (sacramentally) the Presence of the Glorified Jesus through the many and varied Gifts of the Holy Spirit, while the second became fixated on canon law and the institutions that sought to channel grace.” [My ch.8 you will recall was all about the solution of the church to the problem of grace’s communication post Arius, 9th-13th Cs, versus the Triune God’s redemptive creation of its own mediatorial field, a classic case of the cart before the horse.]

“Let’s hope and pray the third will see a return to the Ways of the Spirit as the means of embodying Holy Scripture, the testimony to the Son, in the People of God’s lives.”

Furthermore, and contrariwise, it was the rise of canon law coupled with late medieval nominalism that paved the way to an explicit Two Source form of Tradition/Revelation (‘they’ think!) - which in turn set up the early humanist cry “ad fontes”, taken up by the Reformation. All part of our contemporary crisis of authority thanks to the manifold forms of voluntarism, individual and institutional, that plague our culture even to this day.

I am given to understand Billy Abraham (whom I’ve met a few times) is coming to NZ later this year - hallelujah!

Anonymous said...

With your help above, Bryden, perhaps I can pull together some loose ends.

N T Wright, Richard Hays, and all the EHCC emphasise that the Second Temple Jews who knew Jesus and wrote the NT followed their tradition (eg Genesis 1-2, Proverbs 8, Daniel 7) in seeing heaven and earth as interlocking aspects of one creation. Because God is immanent in it as well as transcendent beyond it, Eden, the Tabernacle, and the Temple formerly, and now Jesus presently and the Body immanently have been the visibility of that intersection to the whole creation.

Examples-- St Paul writes casually about getting on the heavenly elevator and forgetting onto which floor he exited, and whether he took his body with him or not. In writing about *signs* the evangelists assume that immanence when they show Jesus doing things unusual for a man but done everyday by YHWH. The post-Resurrection realisation that the Body now exhibits that intersection motivates both the infancy narratives and Acts 2.

At some point, this awareness faded-- you mention Arius, NTW mentions the C14 retrieval of Lucretius-- and your Chapter 8 describes how puzzling sacraments become in a non-Judaic and indeed pagan cosmology. Neither St Thomas nor Zwingli were Epicureans, but transubstantiation or memorialism often make more intuitive sense today to those who live in the heaven/earth split common to much popular medieval and modern religion. But trying to run the Judaic software of the gospel *mysterion* on the Epicurean operating system somewhat impairs one's understanding of it and participation in it.

In the C16, Brenz, Calvin, and Hooker all recognised that problem and proposed their respective ways of seeing heaven and earth together again in the eucharistic Presence. Brenz (according to Jens) sees Jesus as present because heaven is present because the Body which replaced the Temple is present. Calvin (says Canlis) sees Jesus as present because the Holy Spirit has taken the Body to heaven where Jesus went at the Ascension. Hooker sees Jesus as present in the believer in the heavenly liturgy by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the time, these were debated in scholastic fashion in terms of Chalcedon's Act V-- the infra Lutheranum and extra Calvinisticum; finitum capax infiniti (non)-- but today we can also situate each of these in clearer relation to its native subplot of the biblical narrative.

That heaven/earth split is also the impetus for much quarreling about evolutionary accounts of natural history. Some say that the grand archetypes of eg Genesis 1, Proverbs 8, and Revelations 21 are necessarily compatible with nearly any natural history that is merely causal, empirical, and provisional (John Walton et al). Others insist that even a causal account is still an historical narrative engaging the Judaic kind of metaphysics (Teilhard de Chardin, Jens). Devout Epicureans do not get that part of the Bible at all but try to practice what they understand of Jesus (William Dembski, maybe). Bluntly-- never mind, Darwin just wrote brilliant but unpretentious science; wake up!-- Darwin wrote atheology that masses of godless people believe; no, no, no, Darwin wrote SCIENCE and that's all there is. As with the eucharist several centuries ago, gospel responses to all that require some conversion from the heaven/earth split of popular religion to the Judaic sensibility to which acknowledgment of the incarnation of the Son is native. Even after Christmas, this is, I realise, easier to do than to preach.


Bryden Black said...

Great spiel Bowman; loved it!!

There’s one name missing from your list of resources, even if he does reflect to a degree some of them: Tom Torrance.

I discovered TFT as I was finishing up at theological college. Thereafter I devoured him for the next six or seven years. Together with J√ľngel, they paved the way for a direct reading of Barth ahead of and during doctoral work.

The crux of and key to all this is their resolute anti dualism. Dualism plagued Hellenism; it plagues our own post Kantian world. It thrives in contemporary postmodern Gnosticism. That is, it’s of the essence of the water most present day fish swim in so naturally and obviously. And most cannot let alone do not give it a second thought. The consequences are deadly ...

Antidote: read mark learn and inwardly digest TFT. Noting these three sections
Eg - summary. Theology in Reconciliation: Essays towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West (1975).
Then -
Theology in Reconstruction (1965).
God and Rationality (1971).
The Ground and Grammar of Theology (1980).
Then -
The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (1988).
The Mediation of Christ. The 1982 Didsbury Lectures (1983).
The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (1996).

Now, there’s an agenda for 2019 folks!

This wee list is a massive distillation ...!!! Our own local Myk Habets is a fabulous interpreter! As well as being a theologian of the Third Article: quite the combination!!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it odd, Bryden, that neither of the last century's leading Anglican theologians was Anglican? Jens ended his days as canon theologian of a cathedral up here, but I am sure that he remained on the roll of the ELCA. And although Moderator of the Church of Scotland, TFT was Anglican enough-- and gutsy enough!-- to propose that those presbyterians elect bishops. I do not mean to disparage any of the several interesting Anglican divines who have upheld the theologoumena of their tribes (Mascall, Packer), persevered from one ecumenical conference to another (Allchin, de Catanzaro), engaged new ideas and other religions (MacQuarrie) or spoken pastorally to the church and people of England (Temple), but even a polymath of the scope of Rowan Williams cannot be said to have brought the tradition as a whole into the present in the way that Jenson and Torrance have done. While our churches were distracted by eg Maurice Wiles or Norman Pittenger, or worse by James Pike or John Shelby Spong, a Norwegian Lutheran and a Scottish Presbyterian were hammering out the contemporary systematic theologies that actually make sense of the faith and practice of the Anglican Communion.

With most top Protestant divinity schools sailing to Byzantium as a port of call these days-- dissertations on St Maximus at Princeton?-- it is unlikely that any bright Anglican attending one is overlooking either Jenson or Torrance. And while Baptists like Myk Habets, Bobby Grow, and Bradford Littlejohn seem to be doing the most to revive integral churchmanship, there are now also some on Anglican seminary payrolls doing the same-- Michael Bird, Katherine Sonderegger, Hans Boersma. (And here at ADU, Peter was working through Barclay and de Lubac last year, for which he deserves a good seat and an extra portion of dessert at Lambeth : -) But on the ground, a stubborn *punk*, *DIY* sensibility feels that Anglicanism is the freedom to get lost and stay lost without God being er cross about it, and fears that Truth might break out any minute, robbing us of the pleasures of muddling through and making stuff up. To it, good theology is bad news. Spend a century or so being wandering existentialists among warring tribes, and it can be hard to remember what it was like to want be illumined by the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth Anscombe saw this coming. The virtue ethics of MacIntyre et al is now also the virtue epistemology of Zagzebski et al. Not a minute too soon.


Bryden Black said...

Again Bowman I have to acknowledge an almost perfect series of sentences, from: “But on the ground, ... and it can be hard to remember ... [all the way to] ... Holy Spirit.”

Robust we are sadly not, as a result ...

Anonymous said...

Father Ron insists that nothing in the past was ever all that great.

Peter wonders how happy Kiwis at beaches and restaurants can know that they want grace.

I note-- in Anglicans particularly-- a punky, DIY resistance to any received tradition that is itself resistant to being reshaped by the user.

Bryden laments that we are not robust.

Are different blind men describing one elephant? As one of them, I cannot know for sure, but I do have a guess that connects all of these haptic percepts-- we are near the individualistic extreme of the Western pendulum that swings between congregational and personal religion, but our tradition is almost wholly defined by corporate stuff. We are the Protestants who understood broad participation and deep communion when others slid into sectarianism and atomisation-- three cheers for that!-- but we are not very graceful at what business calls "mass customisation."

You know them, the people in the gastro-pub who tell the server that-- never mind what the menu says-- their diet guru says that that their salads must be prepared thus... Everybody does this now. We do not live in a world of marching group-truthers who comply with legitimate norms; we live among wanderers who ignore adverts as a point of pride and buy what Amazon's recommendation engines suggest to them, personally.

To conservatives, Father Ron, the world really was better when they and everybody felt more group solidarity. Without it, many social pathologies are simply intractable.

To persons amusing themselves to death, Peter, the gospel may have to relieve them of the burdens of individuality without making them feel like brides in a Moonie mass wedding. Union with Christ, yes; conformism, no.

Those punk DIY persons are in Anglican churches by choice, Bowman, and it may be that the ratio of tinkering to learning can be improved. If they did not like tradition at all, they would go to some non-denominational megachurch with few ideas and a big parking lot.

Can we be robust, Bryden, if the mass customising faithful are held together more by their direct and indirect ties to clergy they viscerally trust than by an agreement to all meet the same minimal expectations of the Club?

In some generation, the pendulum will swing back to the other extreme, irritating new blind men in opposite ways. But we cannot wait for that.


Peter Carrell said...

Bowman, you are on commenting fire!
Recent comments, and the most recent in particular are superb - focusing our minds on gems and sparks of truth - important aspects of the elephant! Thank you.

This might be critical to a lot of matters here at ADU and elsewhere in Anglican locations: "I note-- in Anglicans particularly-- a punky, DIY resistance to any received tradition that is itself resistant to being reshaped by the user."

I think, Bryden also, that Bowman is very helpful to understanding why we might just be more "robust" than you allege: because whatever our institutional follies, Anglicanism, at least Down Under, generates personal loyalties ... whether to the figure of the vicar ... or to the style of things (we do have "refugees" from various other churches who do not exhibit signs of going back to where they came from ...

Bryden Black said...

“Can we be robust, Bryden, if the mass customising faithful are held together more by their direct and indirect ties to clergy they viscerally trust than by an agreement to all meet the same minimal expectations of the Club?” Freudian (or otherwise) slips are helpful in seeing how things are seen.

Because there is unity and there is unity - and yet again unity, this supposed insight into ‘that Club’ which is a key element of things Anglican - “wot!” - the form of robustness I seek has NOTHING to do with good “corporate men or women”. These latter see indeed first and foremost an institution to which folk belong - or perhaps just don’t. And then, whether respective clergy embody the better traits of the Club in the minds of ‘followers’ or not may or may not be the point: it’s the chuminess, stupid (to echo a 1990s fellah up yonder). Yet for that why not just go to the working folks’ club.

No; Bowman (and Peter) the robustness I seek to address our collective and individual pathologies is far deeper, being of a different ilk. We’ve lost our bearings from the Lode Star (say, your Big Dipper), our instrumentation being faulty, and the Morning Star has yet to rise for us again ... Things are currently caught up in that stillness just before dawn, and who knows what kind of day it’ll be - sunny or stormy. And for that we’ll just have to wait and see: we’re not in charge of the weather ...

Anonymous said...

Bryden and Peter, my 4:41 had several elephant touches in mind, but perhaps the most interesting to you two is this one--

Few congregations have ever been denounced in a book from a major publisher for having a contradictory identity, but with a characteristic sense of irony, Blacksoil sold copies of it autographed by the pastor in their bookstore. For several months in 2015, the offer of a friend and a query from Graham Kings had me spending Sundays in an old firehouse an hour from Grand Rapids with a congregation that not only had a Reformed pastor (RCA), but was also *emerging*, following TEC's BCP (1979), and importantly, very pleased with their organic permaculture garden outside. As it happened, it was the peaceable end of this congregation that I was witnessing, and that may have been even more indicative than its beginning in a quarrel among conservatives about how to do youth ministry.

If we spot trends in the descriptive statistics, we often understand them by studying the dynamics of outliers up close, and this community was truly an outlier-- a conservative pastor leading young evangelicals who were simultaneously Emerging, Ancient Futures, and Missional. They were emphatically anti-denominational and yet tradition-hungry, arguably learning to be much like the punky, DIY Anglicans I've seen elsewhere, but usually much more articulate about how they believed what they did.


Anonymous said...


Blacksoil = The congregation in which the elephant was touched.

Conservative = Adherence to the Forms of Unity and opposition to SSM.

Reformed, RCA = The Reformed Church of America is one of a few Continental Reformed denominations here that have ethnic roots in the Netherlands. The pastor's denomination, and the body that helped finance the acquisition of Blacksoil's worship and mission site, an old firehouse in a poor neighbourhood.

Grand Rapids = A city in central Michigan that is known as a hub of Republican politics, Reformed churchmanship, and religious publishing (Eerdmans, Zondervan, Baker, etc).

Emerging = Not the same as Emergent. Roughly, evangelical churchmanship for those who are neither seekers (not humanists, UUs, etc), nor finders (not Catholics or Protestant confessionalists), but inquirers (figuring out the situational implications of a fundamental option for Christ). Blacksoil members were baptised and recited the Nicene Creed, but they did not subscribe to the Forms of Unity as their pastor did.

Ancient Futures = Evangelicals selectively appropriating patristic patterns of faith, worship. and order. Comparable to, but distinct from such mainline practices as the paleo-orthodoxy of Thomas C Oden or the canonical theism of William J Abraham. Possibly the opposite of the CoE's Fresh Expressions. Blacksoil followed the ordo of the BCP and used much of its text, but also featured bespoke aesthetic gestures-- musical, literary, or visual-- specific to the service.

Missional = A laical and anti-denominational churchmanship in which a focus on the imago Dei and vocation of believers leads one to expect the Body to be organised around discerned stewardship challenges in the world rather than around clergy supplying and regulating the means of grace. Flips the para- in para-church organisation on its head. Blacksoil had several members with postgraduate degrees in agriculture, and its garden for the surrounding neighbourhood was seen as subversive of an industrial food system in the US cursed by God for promoting ecological destruction, climate change, cruelty to animals, and malnutrition, disease, and death. Blacksoil also had a basketball hoop for local youth since there was no playground for them in the neighbourhood.

Peaceable end = The pastor swam the Tiber and resigned; the congregation celebrated his ministry, and offered help in seeking new employment. The elders and congregation discerned that the worship program had reached creative exhaustion. The firehouse was acquired by another RCA congregation, which promised to allow the gardening to continue.


Bryden Black said...

So Bowman, while you may be - may be?! - referring to elephants in the midst of us, I’m surely indicating the emperor has no clothes. And with these adages on the table ...

Thereafter you might have been describing a church I was with for a number of years in Melbourne during the 1990s - and ...? Or then again, there’s a not too dissimilar relatively new church here in Christchurch I know that reflects elements of your description. So; ...?

Meanwhile “the Club” has become what it tragically has ... Mercifully, there remain a few sane voices: + Richard’s “synod charge” last year ahead of his retirement is one such.
Prayers for his successor ...

PS Thanks for the glossary - tho I got most of them, helpful for some no doubt.

Anonymous said...