ALSO: Bosco Peters has a local analysis and reflection here.
ORIGINAL Within the last week we obsessives in Anglicanland who follow this or that news service, and may or may not scout about the obscure corners of that land, likely will have come across the following matters relating to recent synods and to an ordination which took place here in Christchurch on Saturday. The links to these matters are placed here with minimal comment.
If they serve no other purpose, they may help me at a future point in time to quickly re-find a link. Discussion is welcomed - on the issues, not ad hominem. One particular question I have is this: does the last week represent a turning point in the tide of Anglican Communion affairs? To change metaphors, is the parting of the Anglican ways beyond reversing?
(In no particular order of importance/significance)
The ordination on Saturday
The Archbishop of Sydney's recent Presidential Address (as reported)
The Archbishop of Sydney's Presidential Address (as defended)
The full text of the above address
A couple of supporting blogposts for the address, here and here.
Syndey also passed a motion re marriage, here, which places the Diocese in a state of impaired communion with ACANZP and with the Diocese of Christchurch ... and with me.
For an interesting take on the address in respect of what freedom of belief means, inside the church and inside the nation, see here.
But it is not all about Sydney. The Diocese of Melbourne had its Synod late last week. One report is here.
Archbishop Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, rightly says the church is in a crisis.
Unfortunately the Melbourne Synod joined the Sydney synod in sending greetings to the ordination service on Saturday (i.e. a recognition of the new Anglican church here). I do not have a link for that, but I can confirm it. I first saw mention of it in this tweet from Archbishop Davies:
Within that photo are serving bishops of the Anglican Communion.A great celebration in Christchurch! 3 Archbishops + 15 Bishops from 4 continents witness and affirm the Church of Confessing #Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand and its first Bishop Jay Behan. Greetings from Sydney and Melbourne Synods and from across the world.— Archbp Glenn Davies (@abpdavies) October 19, 2019
Matt 28:19,20 pic.twitter.com/wV0I9cJ4PU
Within some of the links above are signs of an Australian Anglican church in crisis.
I can see no way to avoid the crisis becoming a schism unless a spirit of Anglican compromise prevails over episcopal and synodical minds and hearts.
Our experience in our church, however, more than suggests that even when a great compromise is offered, there is a mode of Anglican theology which will reject it.
If Australia splits, I think the Communion as a formal body expressing a global intent to be a unified polity of and for Anglicans is #goneburger.
Dear Peter, it's not only Australian Bishops we have to be concerned about in the recent ordination of Jay Behan as the head of a rival (quasi-Anglican) Church here in Christchurch. Present at the service were three Nelson bishops - including the newly-ordained Bishop of Nelson, Steven Maina, whose recent consecration took place under the auspices of our very own Archbishops and Bishops of ACANZP - including your-good-self.
If this is an indication of a severed relationship with CMS and the House of Bishops in Aoteroa/NZ, where does that leave the rest of us who have loyally supported our provincial 'Same-Sex Blessings' ethos in the face of deeply-rooted opposition from Sydney and Tasmanian Archbishops - and now the bishops of Nelson?
I, for one, will no longer encourage our diocese or provincial Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand to support CMS. I would prefer our missionary efforts to be more strategically placed with USPG and CWS - where Gospel inclusivity, under Christ, is more active and positive.
Dear Bishop Peter, further to my earlier comment; I don't think the Australian Province will split from Canterbury - only the dioceses of Sydney and Tasmania. The rest of the Australian Church seems more like the Church of England, groggy but faithful to Canterbury and Lambeth - just like the majority of ACANZP. It may be, however, that those dioceses which strongly support CMS will opt to join GAFCON.
However, I believe that if Sydney goes, our Diocese of Nelson will go with them. They do seem to be joined at the hip, as it were. So sad!
I suggest you and other Kiwi readers here should ask whether CMS is in any way responsible for the situation we find ourselves in re ACANZP/CCAANZ.
My answer is that CMS is not responsible.
I also suggest we take great care in what we say about who attended the service on Saturday.
Is it for us to judge what was going on in the hearts and minds of those who attended, many of whom would see themselves as friends and continuing colleagues in the universal church of God with Jay?
What is fair is to ask of bishops who robed and participated in the ordination what was going on in their thinking about relationships between themselves and ACANZP; and what they might be doing by way of explicitly evolving the polity of the Anglican Communion in what I can only see as a more rather than less fragmented direction.
I can only publish a portion of your latest comment because there are inaccuracies within it which will do no good for our relationships if I publish them. In particular, it is not helpful to talk about "CMS Dioceses": CMS supporters are present in all dioceses; nor is it accurate to give an impression that Nelson as a Diocese has had a significant role in the founding of CCAANZ: the most significant role in its founding has been played by people who were once in OUR diocese!
Here is the edited comment:
"Dear Bishop Peter, thank you for your swift response to my recent comments. 
When connected with the recent outburst of Sydney's Archbishop - to the effect that we in N.Z., together with other supporters of Same-Sex Blessings are apostate and should leave the Anglican Communion - what is one to make of this blatant breech of ecclesial protocol? And how does it contribute to the unity of the Body of Christ?"
+ Peter and Ron +, it must be painful for you to watch this from front row seats. Seeing a schism yawn open like a crevasse in the earth's crust is a horrid experience, one like watching many of your friends get divorced and the rest disowned by their relatives. My prayers were with those who were sooner or later going to endure this years before I realised that I was actually praying for you, my friends at ADU. I have also begun praying that Jay Behan will have a less painful time than poor Gene Robinson did.
From far above in the third mezzanine of the opera house-- a distant view through lenses, and surely not a better one-- this all seems anticlimactic. Wikipedia has had a series on Anglican Global Realignment for about a decade because the wisdom of the crowd has been, for at least that long, that GAFCONians want a divorce, want a divorce, want a divorce-- did even generous concessions slow their pace out the door?-- and those who want SSM in every church yesterday won't stop, won't stop, won't stop.
Several years ago in Fulcrum, I wrote that the happy warriors of a certain generation had been polarised against each other by the zeitgeist of their youth, and were acting out their mutual hatred on a matter that is not, in itself, urgent, difficult, consequential, or even related to their feud unless they make it so. As St James noted, the anger of men worketh not the justice of God, and the rising generations-- here already, there in the near future-- will live with the proof of that. The opponents should have respected science; the proponents should have waited for it. There is no pleasure in knowing that the successors of each will pay a price for their predecessors' preoccupied haste.
Will either side, freed from the antagonism of the other, fashion a useful magisterium? That was ++ Peter's objective from the beginning, and it may now become at least an interest of + Peter's as well. As Bryden has noted, ACNA has been articulating its doctrine with a didactic clarity unimaginable in TEC, but only with respect to narrowly churchly things. Some younger clergy feel naked with no social magisterium at all-- poverty? gun violence? climate change? incarceration?-- and quite a lot should be said about reading the canon as scripture in the C21. But their tired and limping elders lack the fortitude for anything difficult.
According to David Virtue's account, "Bishop Richard Ellena, president of NZCMS said his movement remained committed to orthodox faith and gospel and stood with the new GAFCON bishop."
So if this is reported correctly, what gives Bishop Richard the right to speak for my NZCMS supporting church, or any other, which like the majority, have no intention of disaffiliating from ACANZP?
What does our province's Anglican Missions Board have to say about this apparent line that NZCMS's president claim it is taking, I wonder? Is anyone asking these questions at a board level?
Simon - I was at the event and don't remember exactly what Bishop Richard said, but from memory he came across as very gracious and I'm pretty sure he said nothing as strong as your quote and certainly nothing that was at all critical of churches that are still within ACANZP.
The event was live-streamed, so I'm sure you could view it somewhere and verify what was actually said.
I guess CMS are in the tricky position where they have mission partners overseas that are supported by disaffiliated churches (our church supports at least 2 CMS missionaries for example) so want to be committed to those people and their gospel work and not get dragged into the "politics" as such. My impression was that what the Bishop said/implied was that despite the split CMS are committed to the spread of the gospel.
If then, this split indicates anything important, it is that CMS supports 2 version of the Christian Gospel - one of which (GAFCON) asserts that the other (ACANZP) is a 'false Gospel'.If this assertion is correct, Craig (and support of this ordination indicates that), then what is CMS doing in continuing to support a supposedly 'apostate Church like ACANZP? - Just Asking!
Dear Bishop Peter - for what its worth - I have to confess that I did not actually SEE Bishop Steve Maina in photographs of the ordination streamed by CACANZ. Someone whom I know from the Nelson Diocese had offered that information on Facebook. Accordingly, If I have made a mistake in including his name among the Nelson bishops present (see my comments, above) I hereby offer my humblest apology to Bishop Steve and to you and people on ADU. (Fr.Ron Smith, Christchurch)
Why on earth might anyone be surprised by all this muddlement?!
The AC has been in crisis for the past 50 years (to pick a time frame). The 1970s saw PECUSA ordain women. I remember well talking with Jean-Marie Tillard, who was an observer from the RCC at the time. (Eames et al gave all this a reasonable tonk for some Anglicans, perhaps, only in the late 1990s as a direct result of Lambeth 1988.) For Abp Robert Runcie wrote that short book ahead of Lambeth 1988 earlier in that year, Authority in Crisis? An Anglican Response. Perhaps he published it a year too soon?! During the years, 1980s-90s, Stephen Sykes and Gillian Evans too were offering great material on both authority and the Anglican Church in its wider contexts, ecumenically, historically, and sociologically/politically. Then of course we had Lambeth 1998 (after PECUSA had really started its rumblings ...) - and the shift in the global centre of gravity of the AC was clearly revealed. A picture tells a 1000 words. Just so, please examine the photo of who was there and the various pigments of their skin!
Well; we know - many of us - how the decade of 2000 played out: New Westminster (Canada), New Hampshire (USA), RDW, as new ABC, hastily calling a Primates gathering, TEC (morphing inevitably but labelling itself later in fact!) ignoring these “bonds of affection”, Windsor Commission and Report, CDG (Covenant Design Group), Primates Meetings, ACC Meetings, and then Lambeth 2008 ... The ABC’s involvements with and responses to both the Dar es Salaam Primatial Meeting, 2007, and ACC in Jamaica May 2009 - despite his seminal Advent Pastoral Letter of 2007 in between, where “recognise” and cognates is used necessarily 18 times - are, to my mind, pivotal. Well; if you discount Lambeth 2008—merely an extended Gillian Rose type dialogical talk-fest with specifically no ‘synthetic’ goal deliberately as we “question on” ... Rowan is a brilliant and beautiful theologian, philosopher, and literary/psychological analyst; I’m glad he and Jane reside now where they do; I’ve met both of them, and they are delightful. But he’s just not into real-politick! I mean; what to do about GAFCON? And notably their three global conferences now ...
cont 1 ...
That first decade (again to my mind, amongst the plethora of blogging comment and formal writings) offered us two most helpful texts. Contextually, Ephraim Radner and Philip Turner put together The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church (2006). Then dear Oliver O’Donovan offered us his Sermons on Fulcrum initially, which were published both sides of The Pond with different titles: A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The Churches and the Gay Controversy (SCM, 2009); Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade Books, 2008). Here he deals powerfully with both especially the presenting symptom of the crisis and a good deal of the necessary wider context, theologically and historically. Yet, NB this ‘read’ in this paragraph. The presenting symptom of SSA/SSB/SSM is just that, it’s but the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile, the underlying seismic historical forces of (I read it) 300 years have finally erupted and the lava is belting out. Metaphorically again, finally the glacier has reached its cliff edge; it’s broken off a huge chunk, and great has been the crashing sound amidst much cloudy mist and obscuring of sight.
And now we await Lambeth 2020—although we’ve plenty of ongoing run-up stuff to get our heads and hearts around. Yet all the while the “slow moving train wreck” (Tom Wright) that has been the AC these past 20 years in particular has inexorably fragmented into: ACNA, AmiA, Global South, GAFCON, et al ... and now CCAANZ ... with some kind of ‘historical’ mothership(s). But of course! What rock have you been hiding under ...?
Two last comments. “Science” from BW. Thanks Bowman for your characteristic engagement, but I must bring you up here. What ‘science’? The jury is pretty well still out, mate, on aetiology/aetiologies. As one who studied science at high school and continues to read the history and philosophy of science to this day - and what’s more recommends the likes of Finding Ourselves After Darwin (2018) on ADU a number of times - I have to report the rich complexities of the true reality, of both context and presenting issue. Contemporary evolutionary theory seeks to model human being crucially via four dimensions. Genes of course; but then via behaviour, society, and symbolic universe. What rich myriad creatures we are!! And thanks to the likes of an Alister McGrath, after TF Torrance, we may truly establish something of A Scientific Theology.
Secondly. We will all have our various Rubicons; and we shall all move/stay in ways that may well be surprising, to others and to ourselves - yet I hope not quite so to the Chief Shepherd. Our own imaginations are often a bit stunted! And of course there will be rancour and confusion, and well, just plain getting-on-with-it. But with what ...? It’s one thing to read Church History; it’s quite another to live through it ... My closing advice. Phil 3:10-12 (naturally, in context!). BUT BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL. Jesus will take you at his word - and yours ...
I have said all along that this position should never have seen the light of day. General Synod  never established that blessing same sex relationships, let alone, performing same sex marriages was consistent with the Doctrine of the ACANZP; as defined in her 1857 Constitution.It is a completely back to front situation;where those who wished to perform such blessings should have been required to form "Communities of Faith" to do so. As it stands,the "orthodox" are now required to take this move; to hold to the legally defined Doctrine of the Church. I consider it to be completely out of place for a Bishop of the ACANZP to have a public view on this matter which is not consistent with the Doctrine ; that they vow to uphold.
Glen, why do you persist in raising up the 1857 Constitution - boring away at it as though it were a device written in heaven for all eternity. Gospel necessity brings change (remember Pope John XXIII's Semper Reformanda?). This brought about a loving revolution in the Catholic Church which the conservatives are still fighting.
The Church everywhere in the world is in a new and different era of mission endeavour. This is why Slavery and the Subjugation of Women in The Church and Women's Ordination were brought into the amended rules & regulations of ACANZP. It is also why our 3-Tikanga Church was brought into being - allowing faith expressions to be plurally practised and lived out in our Church. And now, the emancipation of a group of people whose gender-sexuality identity is being publicly recognised as fully consonant with the order of Creation - a REALITY which ours and other Churches around the world are graciously cognisant of and doing something positive and loving about it.
Avoidance of critical pastoral needs of real people is a constant barrier to the living out of the 'Great Love of God as revealed in The Son'- who, himself, had to fight against the Keepers of the Law (Scribes and Pharisees) who opposed his proposition of Grace being above The Law - and was crucified for his pains. Read again, will you, the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, and see "Who came away, justified" - not the pure and holy Pharisee, but the sinner who knew his need of God and was humble about it.
The recent bullying tactics of the GAFCON/ACNA invasion into ACANZ Territory in Aotearoa/New Zealand can only be seen as an arrogant and mistaken assertion of ACANZ's apostasy in the Mission of the gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who fought against Pharisaical self-righteous propagandised grandstanding.
I have never stated that the Constitution 1857 was written in Heaven for all eternity; what I mam saying and saying quite clearly is that it was accepted in N.Z. law,and reinforced by the Church of England Empowering Act 1928. Until the N.Z. Parliament passes Legislation stating that that "Constitution: have no legal binding within this Realm; the Constitution 1857 [revised in 1992- from memory], and repeals the Church of England Empowering Act 1928; the Constitution 1857 remains the legal foundation of the ACANZP. So, Ron,does your Church exist in N.Z. or Heaven? Does your Church claim any taxation exceptions under N,Z, law.Are not the N.Z. tax payers paying money towards the Christchurch Cathedral?
I respectfully suggest to Ron that you are confusing two Realms; Heaven and Earth;Jesus said [Matt 22/16 on] states our obligation to Caesar and to God; and when asked "Are You the King of the Jews? and Jesus said unto him'Thou sayest' ". Matt 27/11. Jesus did not confuse the the two Realms; but the Anglican community certainly does.
Glen, you keep repeating your original mistake. Although the Church of England happened to be established by law in this country - as it had to be as part of the Commonwealth outreach polity, this does not mean that ACANZP is legally bound to the State. We are not (unlike the Church of England in the U.K.) the State Church. We are now free from government interference in Church polity - excepting that, like any other Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand, we must obey the exigencies of the current laws that exist TODAY - not yesterday or even in the 19th century.
In case you may not have noticed, Glen, we are no longer 'The Church of England', but The AnglicanChurch of Aotearoa/New Zealand (and Polynesia) - ACANP.
Dear Glen and Ron,
Without comment on the specifics of matter X or issue Y, I would like to remind you that:
(1) (especially Glen) It is intrinsically unlikely that any lawyer is going to treat the Church of England Empowering Act as a straitjacket against any kind of change.
(2) (especially to Ron) Your beloved ACANZP is constrained by an act of parliament and it is called the Church of England Empowering Act 1928. There are other acts of parliament which constrain the life of the church. The Church Property Trustees, for instance, are governed by an act. The St John's College Trust Board is governed by an act .... they can't (for instance) spend money on replacing rotten floorboards ...
Glad to hear that - about the rotten floorboards, Bishop. However, I can't imagine Government, for instance, would have any problem with ACANZP's forward movement on blessing Same-Sex Unions - especially when they (Government) brought in legislation for Same Sex Marriage. What the Government will not allow, however, is any illegal discrimination against LGBTQI people.
"Thinking Anglicans has superb set of links to many articles and reflections, including an especially pertinent one about "state of the play" in the Melbourne Diocese."
Yes, and we have been talking about you on that page too. I heartily wish you would participate from time to time on 'Thinking Anglicans' because we need evangelical voices for balance and intelligent discourse. I really hope you may drop in from time to time and add your thoughts, like you do at Psephizo.
It's not the floorboards that are rotten.
Dear Glen and Susannah
Glen: without diminishing the seriousness of the issues before us, that is a very witty remark!
Susannah: I have had a brief foray, but time is limited.
Bryden, it is good to see your name in the thread :-)
Science does not have or need juries. (In fact, James Watson once told me that his little Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory had raised the impact factor of its published research well above that of major research universities by betting against official peer review panels.) I review the research articles that have mattered annually. Those on aetiology are interesting, but peripheral to the central problem.
The stochastic texture of living systems, including that for human reproduction, could not be more soundly established. Nor might we have expected anything else from the scriptures. The opponents have disrespected this in thinking more about tidy law for churches than messy life in divine providence; the proponents have been too impatient to let the Body discern what it means.
More modern absolutism than godly wisdom on both sides. Yet Jesus's synthesis of wisdom with apocalyptic leads, not to anything like the Talmud, but to the New Testament.
Dear Bowman, re yours of October 28, 2019 at 5:57 AM
Omitting for reasons of enough overlapping agreement your “stochastic systems ...”, since my reference to “the model of four dimensions of contemporary evolution” suffices, for this blog, at present... I begin to address further matters among what you say.
As perhaps you’ve discerned by now, that very dialectic of “opponents :: proponents” is what I sense demands reconstruction also. Your last para I guess might be what you are proposing as some kind of ‘synthesis’ (double entendre). And I get the two bits you see as forming it. We are in fact in some kind of heated agreement ... and I’ll return explicitly to apocalyptic, but couched a little differently, aiming directly at “the political” (which of course was always its matrix anyway; YET what = “the political”? That’ll prove vital, as we’ll see).
Sorry to now post this: have you managed to pick up a copy of the Rev Ed of God’s Address? I had fun trying to ‘wisely’ deal with feedback while still keeping the original intent. For I believe the synthesis (if we’re going to continue with that word) is just a tad richer than your initial twin offering! Sure; you know that; and this is a blog after all ...!
My Parts One and Two offer the building blocks, with notably revised Q.9 (now much improved imho). And of course there are a few, wee Parts to come ... ;)
Now; what on Earth does all this do to the very partial stances of “proponents :: opponents”? And I don’t care which you or anyone does or does not align with, in the first instance, for this analysis (tho clearly I have my sympathies).
To be honest, I’m not sure. But let’s give it a go. Because local and provincial cultures and subcultures receive the Rays of that Biblical Economy via fractured and fragmented prisms, both deliberately and stubbornly, and naively and ‘innocently’. And the global AC of the 21st C just hasn’t the mechanisms (yet? will it ever?) to sift and “ponder” (Lk 1&2) all this weird and dazzling stuff (yes; many are just as that servant of Deut Isa - “deaf, dumb & blind” - because their grasp of and being grasped by that True Servant is so slippery - yes; echoes of Phil 2&3). I offered my three part summary above, which I think suggests something.
So; again we are probably in a heated agreement of sorts. Yet I must recall an address of Terry Fulham’s (of Darien fame) I heard live based on the opening ch. 40 of Deut Isa. In sum: “the Holy Spirit will breathe as much death and destruction in the times ahead as refreshment and renewal. LOOK WHAT THE WIND/RUACH DOES AND HOW! But there’s no need to panic; just buckle up and look up and look forward ... together with ...!!” Mmm... Now; there’s much to ponder - and that was 1980!
And yet ‘we’ ‘carry on’, as Anglicans (ref now Peter’s latest re Newman 2), oblivious to what Bill Cavanaugh would term, “the Migration of the Holy” (Eerdmans, 2011). We simply may NOT assume your beautiful, quoted summary, nor Peter’s addendum (IMHO). There’s been a seismically deep cultural shift these past 300 years (of European history, now exported globally in countless ways) ... And the alloyed nature of these communities and institutions [of ‘church’ & ‘state’, say] with their ‘native memberships’, swimming ever so naturally in their variously polluted/alloyed societal cultures, resemble the clay-iron feet of Dan 2. Your apocalyptic element is of course vital! As long as we ‘view’ it ‘right’ ... So NB for starters: the chiasmic structure of the opening chapters of the book pairs ch.2 with ch.7. They interpret each other.
Just so, Who is this Son of Man, who’s the only true human to have ever lived [I haven’t forgotten your opening first para and a half]; for yes; adam IS vs. those four political beasts? And this One seeks ‘those of “dust”’ to become participants (NB this word in Parts 3ff of GA) in His Life Giving Spirit (1 Cor 15 of course, with its transformational power - so into 2 Cor 2-6!). Yet we cling to the earth/ground (sic), together with that slithering serpent, since we fear to fly (back to Isa 40!). It’s just too risky, too ... well, out of control/order: that RUACH AGAIN! Just so, a basic question: whose/which “order” (an often cited original CoE term NB!)?
The compromises, accommodations, and negotiations between clay and iron up to say 1700 were able to function (more or less). Yet La Crise de la conscience européenne (Paul Hazard, 1935) has ensured that that Migration, of which Cavanaugh speaks so eloquently, gets some helpful unpacking and explaining. And as we reach 300 years out (the 2000s now), after shift after slide after shift, it’s become a glacial crash (ref earlier post too). Well; a bit more than that perhaps ...!
And what might it truly mean to “want to know him”, this Son of Man, who is the Pioneer/Rep (Hebrews) for “the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7)? Answer: Phil 3:10-11 (in context of course), which, with yet another tight chiasmic pattern, revolves around the real means to union with Christ Jesus, but flips the chronology to ensure an epektatic outcome (Greek text v.13, which is then MUCH beloved of Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Robert Jenson ... and moi), revealing the true driver of eschatology. For this One is the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, who, once again, brings death and destruction and then resounding new life, being Sheer Futurity, ensuring God’s purposes (so Jenson - and Ephesians!). “The Old is rendered old by the Emergence of the New” - Eberhard Jüngel. It is ever and only so.
And what or where might we perhaps be able to cash out concretely this otherwise heady stuff? Right here in ACANZ&P, when there’s been ‘negotiated’ a ‘compromise’ seeking “right order” and so some form of ‘unity’ which is supposedly able to ‘accommodate’ the utterly contradictory notion that X may be viewed as both a sin to be condemned and as something to be blessed of God.
Which leads to my last comment: my sincere apologies to the Early Church Fathers (and Mothers, cf. Macrina) of the 2nd to 7th Cs, who believed the Creator Logos was the same One Word made Flesh, and so was the Singular One to both condemn sin in the flesh and revive our mortal bodies unto new life indeed. I’m sure they are either hysterically mocking our irrational schizophrenia or wailing at our nihilistic nonsense. For has there ever been such an attempted deliberate mixing, in a single church body politic, of iron-and-clay?! [I omit entirely the mixtures in other polities for now ... enough ... phew!] ... For, perhaps, the ‘noblest’ of ‘reasons’.
Bryden insists (30 Oct. 9pm):
"And what or where might we perhaps be able to cash out concretely this otherwise heady stuff? Right here in ACANZ&P, when there’s been ‘negotiated’ a ‘compromise’ seeking “right order” and so some form of ‘unity’ which is supposedly able to ‘accommodate’ the utterly contradictory notion that X may be viewed as both a sin to be condemned and as something to be blessed of God."
Jesus seemed to be pretty well at ease and able to cope with sexual 'sins', Bryden - far more so than with the sins of pride, greed, self-righteousness and judgementalism. Perhaps you could look at my latest article on - kiwianglo - which tells of Pope Francis' words to a Vatican self-confessed 'gay' entertainer - on his (the Pope's) understanding of Jesus love for sinners (that's ALL of us).
It does seem that you, a theologian, have problems with a Church composed of people who are imperfect. There is no such creature. Get used to that fact. Christ died to redeem sinners. That's Gospel!
Thank you, Bryden, for these reflections.
You are there, and I am here. Even if I wanted to-- I do not-- I could not challenge your observations of what you see on the ground Down Under.
From what I can see, a provincial synod took on an intrinsically pastoral matter far beyond its competence-- in both senses-- produced an absurd and divisive report, and finally referred the matter back to the diocesan bishops to whom Jesus gave all hard cases in the first place. And they, so far as I know, have not done much of anything, which may be proper in the circumstances that they severally face. The synod also created a sort of safe space for stable people who are not "blown about by every breeze of teaching." The retreat and the safe space are good ideas.
Meanwhile, those who wanted a divorce but know that this is evil, used the preposterous report to fan the flames of discord, and to give themselves at least the simulacrum of some moral high ground, ignored the retreat and the safe space, and ran out the door before any could have second thoughts. Whether the ecumene has gained a new tradition, or Presbyterians face a new rival, or the Communion has lost a faction is debatable. My question has been: did the departed obey the discernments of local Anglicans in other less disputed matters (eg liturgy)? If not, then they did not belong to them in the first place, and nothing much has changed.
Now I will admit to a L'Annales tendency to see big change mainly in many small increments happening at the glacial pace of *la longue duree*. And to a realist ecclesiology in which what the Body actually does in myriad churches matters, and what synods etc do matters if and only if the Body actually does something concrete with it. And to a materiality in that ecclesiology in which social forces like migration may be less exciting to think about but are missionally much more important to the kingdom. And to an evangelical recognition that the Holy Spirit from to time humiliates the institutionalist pretensions of every part of the Body. And to a familiarity with the dynamic and even techniques of polarisation that induces me to look past the noisy extremes to what silent majorities think. At times, the two tendencies we discuss seem to be divided and embittered most by the solemn frippery on which they agree.
So I view the late unpleasantness much as I did the shooting that happened a while back: evil deeds have a ripple effect on my friends and their friends, and of course that concerns me. No man is an island; even an island is not an island. But for now, my prayers are with those on both sides of the divide who may be personally affected by recent agitprop and ceremonial.
I say all this, not to be contrary, but to be a bit less difficult for you and others to address in comments.
"Go forth into all nations passing resolutions, sending press releases, giving interviews..." No, wait--
"...some form of ‘unity’ which is supposedly able to ‘accommodate’ the utterly contradictory notion that X may be viewed as both a sin to be condemned and as something to be blessed of God."
Of course, X may not be viewed at at all, and the "contradictory notion" is only thinkable in Thomas Nagel's Nowhere. Directly or indirectly, Bryden's discontent is about what C20 architectural theorists called *presentation*.
(a) You can have a building that is only presentation-- a Hollywood set where the facades of a western town are propped up in the back because there is no building-- no inhabiting life-- there. This is pure deception, of course.
(b) You can have a building that is presentational-- a barber shop with red, white, and blue stripes around a pole out front to say "You can get your hair cut here." Probably, there will also be shaggy men walking in and clean cut men walking out to confirm that, but anybody can put up a barber pole, and anyway the ancient symbol may have been given a new meaning.
(c) You can have a building that is not presentational at all-- a big shed that looks good from the street, but itself tells you nothing about what happens inside. Only the coming and going of a US marshal, cowboys in white and black hats, ladies of easy virtue, stagecoaches, Indians, etc tell you that there is a western town in there. Buildings should be seen and not heard.
C21 churches amid postmodernity have been debating presentationalism much as the C20 architects did, although for a different reason. The debate is the same because in both there are some for whom only (c) is honest and trustworthy, trying for (b) too often results in the unacceptable (a), and most presentation is just ostentation and narcissism. And in mainline churches, presentationalism is too often just class-warfare signaling that they side with the *clerisy* against the rabble. But there are others who viscerally feel that presentation is so indispensible to the Body that even (a) upsets them less than the prospect of (c) does.
Bryden can speak for himself. At ADU, I have usually spoken for (c).
Postmoderns cannot possibly care what synods etc want the public to believe that they have decided about Great Issues of the Day. And if churches insist on pushing opinions into the media just so they can say that they did it, they will meet with the deepening scorn that + Peter has lately commented on. Churches should be seen and not heard.
So too thought Jesus. Be the city on a hill. There is nothing in the NT about telling others that *they* should be the city on a hill, or about going into the forum to announce our latest synodical resolution on hilltop urbanism.
But that is precisely what Anglicans have always and quite rightly done, albeit in an era very different from this new one. So some understandably still want to Say Something Inspiring, even if they are unequal to the complexity of the matter itself, even if they have to appoint a working group decide what they are going to think, and even if their message splits the group that is supposedly delivering it on the authority of their consensus. The greatest peril facing Anglicanism is not the sex war, North American schism, GAFCON, or Sydney's poaching, but the quite honest confusion of myriad thinking Anglicans hither and yon who cannot imagine church without presentation.
The Holy Spirit may have a fourth gift for us that we are not yet eager to receive. That would be the gift of discernibly embodying in, well, the Body and our own bodies just enough of the new creation that God is making in the world. When we have been doing something good for awhile, he will make others curious about it.
Thank you Bowman for both your comments, the second of which I found most helpful via that notion of “presentation”. A very brief rejoinder if I may.
One of the key features of Anglicanism was its BCP. Here we found doctrine liturgically declared and forming folk (the ordinary English folk of 16th C onwards) into God’s People, Christ’s Body, up and down the land. Well; that’s the vision, of lex orandi, lex credendi in late Medieval/Early Modern dress, all liturgy being a “showcase for Scripture”.
Fast forward to mid 20th C (via also the Oxford Movement) and we begin the matter of Liturgical ... well, what? Bottom line: obviously, ‘relevance’ to each and every particular; plus clearly bye-bye to any ‘lex’ ... the AC’s ‘variety’ dispels it. [Yes; yes; we had to change the language(s) - I get it ...]
So; and to the crux. It’s not just any form of ‘presentation’ (a, b or c) I’m homing in on. IT’S A RITE. And with that, enough should have been said - if there were any truly formed ‘Anglican ears’ to have heard and seen it. Oops! Is that now you too?! Surely not ... Sorry bro ...
As for your first ... I'm not going public at this time coz there's too much dust around - and it's late!
Dear Ron, I have to confess when I first saw your post I did what the priest and levite did - they passed by on the other side - I just plain ignored you/it. Now; that might be ok when life’s a bit supersaturated ... and it’s a blog anyway. BUT when I saw the post again last evening, Jesus took that X and poked my eye with it! “Unkind, Bryden” (Yes, Matt 7!) So; let’s get this started.
The poor old priest and levite thought - no; were afraid! - they were running the risk of making themselves impure, of becoming unfit “to love God” if they were to discover the poor fellah was dead. I mean to say; they couldn’t carry on doing their Temple thing, and so “loving God”, if the lad turned out to be dead. The corpse would render them ritually unclean ... Religious Game Over!
Of course, the samaritan - poor benighted, ignorant, outsider - wouldn’t know a scruple if it bite him in his backside. It would just be another annoying flea. So; he leaps into action - of course! The fellah’s been mugged, for goodness sake! Can’t leave him there! Leaps into compassionate action, etc etc. [We’ll omit Augustine’s wondrous allegorical ‘read’ in his sermon for the moment, folks ... even if he does have some great points actually.] No; he just does the right thing, you twit; don’t get all sanctimonious on me ...
So; there’s absolutely NO CLASH BETWEEN AUTHENTIC LOVE OF GOD AND TRUE LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR; LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR AND LOVE OF GOD ARE A PACKAGE DEAL. “GET IT! GOT IT! GOOD!” Here endeth the Lesson folks!
And so to continue. I’m not coy, Ron; nor ignorant (I think); or ... whatever. Rather, it goes like this.
BW often writes “That Topic”. We know what he means; and he’s sick to death of floggong this dead horse (yes; double entendre, folks!). Can’t we move onto some other things ... PLEASE! It seems not quite, BTW ... There’s actually a conversation waiting to begin ... Still, even now (H/T Oliver O’Donovan). A real one, BTW, this time; one of careful, compassionate, considered appreciation; where we, the Body of Christ, are NOT conformed to this aeon’s ways of (say) identity politics or prejudice or ‘extremism’ (whatever that might mean), etc.; but truly, appropriately, “in view of God’s mercies” (NIV), transformed/ing through the renewing of our minds, etc. [I wish there were space to assess this absolute fulcrum of Paul’s theology and praxis, his praxis and theology, in his magisterial Romans at 12:1-2, the link between chs 1-11 in their entirety, as a whole, and the rest of the Letter - oh; there is?! ABSB’s God’s Address?! Checky b*****]
No Ron, when I say X here, I’m playing alegbra. Put whatever you like in its place, whatever at all: Ron’s drinking his tea // No; the opposite, Ron’s drinking Diana’s tea (by mistake ...). We just cannot have you drinking both your own tea and Diana’s simultaneoulsy, from the one and only, single cup in the room. The world ain’t like that ... [It happens often in our house ... with two cups of course - she grabs the wrong one ... Oops! I did ...]
Just so; it’s a piece of irrationality, a nonesense, to try and say - and practise, Anglicans NB, with your traditional appreciation of the role of rites and all that vis-à-vis a due BCP ethos - two opposing, contradictory, illogical things at once. Indeed; it’s against the very structure of the universe the Logos has created, and into which He so graciously came and comes again and again through his Holy Spirit. For God is not absent, dear world; God is not “eclipsed” dear western world (H/T Martin Buber) by your own imaginings; God is not some absent watchmaker who’s wound up the universe and then gone on holiday. And no; God - the One and Only True God - is NOT Gaia either, who inhabits the trendy hearts and minds of the likes of the film Avatar (2009) - even though it does surely grope and gasp after the real thing (oops!) in its classic Hollywood way. Goodness knows what the soon to be released sequels will be like ... “Can’t wait ...!”
So Ron; we are (mostly) in heated agreement with these your latest comments. Where “heated agreement” can be used in a ‘quasi legal sense’ to signal (like an X, like That Topic, like whatever means of comms we humans enjoy): Don’t get your knickers in such a knot, you two. Calm down; don’t let those ‘buttons’ get pressed so quickly. Breathe - and think - and pray - deeply, ever more deeply ... and then ... Who knows what the Living Holy God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, may still do with and through this weird and wonderful trollop of a Church. BUT buckle up ... should He really arrive. I mean, really turn up one Sunday Morning in his Real Presence via Word and Sacrament. Now that would be true Love. But it would also cause a bit of a commotion, upsetting “right order”, even those presentations that embody our best of intentions ...
PS: run a quick spell checker next time Bryden ... Spot the typos.
You nearly make the point which underlines what ACANZP is doing.
The Levite and the priest are afraid to disobey the law
The Samaritan (surely you are wrong to say he has no similar fear, the Samaritans held to the Torah) looks at th e situation and steps into it, leaving the Law behind.
What to do when the Law does not fit the situation?
The gospels, in one way, are a reply to that question: not the way of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, not even the Zealots; but the way of Jesus.
What to do when we understand homosexuality differently today?
(Yes, yes, we can argue that nothing has changed. But what if it has changed? What if we find (as Chch folk found recently) that a same sex couple might love each other for 40 years ... does a simple “Law” analysis apply: sorry, but love, commitment, even a contracted marriage counts for zilch, it is just play old fashioned sin/“sin” (and, in ABSB’s determination, also wrong because contradicts the principle of the universe)? Or does something also come into play about a pragmatic remedy for the human condition, for life as we find it, for what to do when we come across a rag doll, dead looking man, bloodied and bruised on the side of the road?
You suggest that when the “real presence” actually comes, Jesus will be (putting it in blunt but also personal terms) on your side and not Ron’s ... but is that so?
Is the Jesus of Good Samaritan telling and other events of “mercy” in his life and teaching, going to incarnate in our society in such a way that those whose rhetoric (here I move beyond your own words to a whole lot of words being said under the umbrella of (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, etc) “hardline” conservatism - where “hardline” means, there is a line, you have crossed it, now I am breaking fellowship with you - cf., e.g., Catholic threats of schism over Francis) going to applaud churches which ... well it is difficult to talk about what I think without thinking about all sorts of rejoinders coming back to me: “We DO welcome gays, no, really, despite them thinking we don’t because of the line we have taken, we do ... we do ... we are not excluding them ...”
What would Jesus do today?
I am, in sum, not so sure you have it right.
Brydon, you said:
"BUT buckle up ... should He really arrive. I mean, really turn up one Sunday Morning in his Real Presence via Word and Sacrament. Now that would be true Love. But it would also cause a bit of a commotion, upsetting “right order”, even those presentations that embody our best of intentions ..."
Perhaps the difference between you and me, Bryden, is that I know Jesus does come in the Eucharist - not only on Sundays but on every day of the week at the same old - same old - Fellowship around the Table of Believers. How do I know? I just know, Bryden!
Thank you Peter, for your dogged defence of what You know to be the truth, about the great Love of God as revealed in the Son - and so often obscured by human intransigence - about Sins and the Grace - that covers a multitude of them. Deo Gratias!
Dear Peter and Ron, thank you for your quick responses.
These two responses are I suspect the kind of thing that Oliver is perhaps seeking himself. For they might enable small incremental steps forward down that Road/Way (echoes of ...?!). How so?
Well Peter; as and when we might/do meet up…
Well Ron; once again I strongly suggest we are in heated agreement – perhaps a bit too much heat still, and not yet enough common light. In order to perhaps cast a small ray of light on the situation, especially as it pertains to your understanding of the Eucharist as relayed now in this comment, please, I would ask you merely to read the second new appendix in God’s Address. It concerns naturally the Eucharist. You may be surprised by what you read; and then perhaps, just perhaps, we might even be surprised … together! I know full well that the Host himself wishes to surprise us both - together; and then again, ALL TOGETHER! It’s called TOTUS CHRISTUS ...
Peter, a reasonable pause for thought @ November 2, 2019 at 6:43 AM.
Yet I too have read some NT scholarship material on Samaritan faith in Second Temple Judaism. But I’m not sure that that takes us very far here, and certainly not down the alley ways (v. the Road) you claim.
Rather, the point might just be, and especially in Luke’s Gospel (FG is another matter altogether!) the question: what rhetorical role do Samaritans play in Luke’s mind, and notably within this parable where Jesus invokes one, and when he—or rather his disciples, 9:51-55!—encounters them? See too lastly 17:11-19. Rather than get all 18-20th C with us, ‘read’ with Jewish eyes and hear with Jewish ears - given the original hostile dynamic ... When we do that, the Sam counter foil of that Lk 10 parable washes out rather differently to how you suggest - I suggest!
The key (as always, and contra NRSV translation) resides with that wee word πως/how. See Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book, which gave rise to the blurb on the back of GA (both editions, of which you kindly launched the first).
Then there’s more re Torah than what you say—and frankly, also naughtily say! But we’ll just have to have our own ‘encounter’ and spin a few ‘stories’ then ... Clue: see Part Two Rev ed, notably new Q.9, which then translates delightfully into Paul, both Rom and Gal (albeit in their respective and differing ways) - let alone Hebrews, as cited!
BTW Peter; there’s a delicious Freudian slip in the customary title we give “The Story of the Good Samaritan”. All the rest are just plain bad ...
"What if we find (as Chch folk found recently) that a same sex couple might love each other for 40 years ... does a simple “Law” analysis apply: sorry, but love, commitment, even a contracted marriage counts for zilch, it is just plain old fashioned sin..."
Several modern practices that are important to our societies-- sanitation, mass elections, police, motored mobility, universal literacy, professional sports, scientific experiments, central banking, global trade, etc-- are not explicitly treated in the canon and seem to have been absent from the imaginary of ancient Israel. Among these is intentionally non-procreative marriage (INPM), which the biblical authors regarded as a disobedience or curse, but which has been commonplace among the wealthy of all societies we know well since before the time of Jesus.
Considered in itself, if INPM has some clear and distinct relation to the gospel, what exactly is it? When we do something for the gospel, some criterion must tell us whether we have done it rightly in a particular case. Or, considered among other practices, what about INPM occasions a need for more gospel ceremonial than, say, the Dedication of Water Treatment Plants, the Counting of Ballots, the Investiture of Police Officers, the Hanging of Traffic Lights, etc? If we are not to sing carols door to door when central bankers change the discount rate, we need some place to draw the line between a gospel practice and a valued but ordinary social convention. Where is it?
The challenge is not to find something about INPM that is as good as say clean water from a faucet. The challenge is to find a stable relationship between that good and the faith of the creeds that warrants a sacramental sign.
Confusion has arisen in two ways.
On one hand, it is obvious that INPM, although a new and intentionally different sort of relationship, uses the biological and cultural machinery of the procreative marriage (PM) with which ancient Israel was exclusively concerned. The sort of hearer to whom Romans 1* was at first persuasive would have deplored even a man and woman who thus subverted the plan of the Father-- kindly note that homosexual acts are treated there as the extreme, not as the central tendency of this corruption-- but it has become rather common in our societies of mass prosperity, and even those who object to SSM have never objected to this. If the Body has been unjust, it has been in letting all but one of the horses out and then bolting the barn door with him still inside.
On the other hand, an accident of history has given clergy a role in weddings that we would not have expected from the canon. For almost a millennium from the apostles through the fathers, what members did about matrimony could be a matter for counseling and discipline, but the church had no more or less role in their marriage contracts than it did in the way they treated their parents or children. In AD 912, the Byzantine emperor Leo VI decreed that bishops rather than jurists should administer civil matrimonial law-- weddings and divorces-- and the pope Innocent III somewhat later decided to implement this in the West. Scholastic theologians began a rigorous search for some unearthly rationale for the accidental sacrament, but they failed because (1) the sexual act could not be made to fit any good definition of a sacrament that also fit baptism and the eucharist, and (2) insisting that a sacrament was integral to the state of matrimony absurdly implied that parents who were not observant or not Christian were not married. That is, the scholastics failed in the medieval variant of the challenge above-- to find a stable relationship between the good of procreative marriage (PM) and the faith of the creeds that warrants a sacrament.
As that failure was well known to all the reformers-- Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist-- they all agreed that marriage was a *order of creation* or *condition of life* or *ordinance* but not a sacrament. With a reformed precision and accuracy, The Church of England conserved a rite to "solemnise" a relation called "matrimony" (< Latin *mater* mother), and denied in the 42/39A that this act was a sacrament. Recently, the task force for A Way Forward, in seeking to uproot marriage per se from procreation, stumbled all the way backward to the very absurdities that defeated the scholastics and were themselves again defeated by them.
If confusion makes the challenge hard to meet, then clarity makes it even harder.
Both the scholastics and the reformers were thinking these matters through from within a matrix of Western presuppositions that we have learned to distinguish from those of the canon. They thought of Jesus as a source of grace that fixes sin and of sacraments as *means of grace*, But thanks to Albert Schweitzer a century of biblical scholarship has recognised that apocalyptic themes were also central to the Lord's teaching of the kingdom, to the early Body's worship of him, and so to the two undisputed sacraments (cf Geoffrey Wainwright, Eucharist and Eschatology). Today, to find a stable relationship between the good of INPM and the faith of the creeds that warrants a sacrament, we further need some demonstration that INPM has unique eschatological significance where there is "neither marrying nor giving in marriage." Checkmate.
Please recall that I am not denying that INPM has any value, nor that this value could matter to the Body. I am denying that this value is so salient to the gospel that the Body needs rites to re-enact what has already been enacted in principle when one gets a marriage license from the state. Or, I am affirming that (a) the apostles and fathers had it right for nearly a thousand years, (b) that it is closer to the scriptures-- both their text and their import-- to respect the God-given role of the state in this matter by not performimg any rite that implies its inadequacy, and that (c) neither of the usual sides of the Anglican sex war has offered a forthright account of the meaning of the gap between the canon's PM and the universal acceptance on both sides of INPM.
* I am aware of Douglas Campbell's argument that Romans 1 does not reflect St Paul's own view of Gentile societies, and of the more common view that St Paul is first setting and then springing a trap for his Roman audience. These claims both suppose that the first hearers at least initially agreed with what they heard, which is all that I am assuming in citing the passage here.
Postscript-- The theory and practice of INPM are concretely consequential both for the Body and for societies at large, and have occasioned not only the honest questions but also the cynical manipulations of the Anglican sex war. Yet in trialogues like that above among the reverend and dear fathers Bryden, + Peter, and Ron this recent and radical revision is assumed as common ground. It should instead be examined as a discontinuity within the Body between its apostolic and present generations, one that somewhat complicates and obscures all three positions.
In his Chapel Hill seminar decades ago, Hans-Georg Gadamer emphasised to us that an interpreter must first see the difference between his own horizon and that of the text before he can begin the search for a fruitful way of reading in which the two horizons are brought into a correspondence or fusion. The excitement of interpretation is that it is just this difference that makes the deeper meanings of the text legible through time. When I asked him once whether there was anyone in theology who was an exemplar of this method, he peered at me a little doubtfully and said, "There is an American who works on this, but not many know him. Have you heard of Robert Jenson?" By that time, I had driven up to Gettysburg several times; at this present time I have been revisiting what Jens wrote about interpreting scripture during that period.
May I suggest a rule of thumb? When we in the Body on earth are reading the scriptures for their heavenly or spiritual senses, then the text's horizon is the apostolic *rule of faith* (eg Apostles' Creed), but when bibles open amid the dialogues that we in the Body must have with the apostles (or fathers, scholastics, mystics, reformers, modernists, etc) then the horizons-- ours and theirs-- are the respective social worlds separated in time, space, and culture. We cannot avoid either way of reading, and in both our reading should be responsive to the dialectic of our own horizon with the other.
I have not said in two sentences what others say in books. But even this short rule would deliver us from two ways of misreading the scriptures as though they had been written, not for us, but to us.
I am all for careful reconsideration of marriage in respect of "sacrament" and what we think we are or are not doing as "church" in relation to "creation" and "state."
I offer that the church has a legitimate interest in this "ordinance of creation" and its regulation at least in so far as we want to say things about constraints on marriage consistent with NT teaching:
- monogamy not polygamy
- divorce only as last resort
- remarriage after divorce or death.
As for our own horizons re hermeneutics ... may we read Scripture with consonance with our own times or are we destined to read only with dissonance, when we engage with questions of what the state permits and what the populace begins to realise might be natural phenomena regarding the diversities of human sexuality, notwithstanding the apostles and ancient fathers' writings in a different era (some of which notably conveys things about women no self-respecting teacher of today would endorse)?
(That may or may not be a question you would answer in the present exchange - it is a question which sits, I suggest, in every contemporary discussion!)
- gender make up of the couple.
I am not aware (as you alert to, above) of significant work by any church on intentionally childless marriages (excepting of course the clear encouragement in (at least) the RCC for marriages to be open to children as the fruit of the marriage. But even then, and strictly observing the modern church's Humanae Vitae, it would be possible to intentionally not have children, and I do not know of any specific discipline the church might then seek to impose ...
Gentlemen! Bowman & Peter - Hallelujah!
Perhaps, just perhaps, we have the small building blocks of what Oliver is truly after with his Sermons on Fulcrum, which I have cited before above and which were published both sides of The Pond with different titles: A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The Churches and the Gay Controversy (SCM, 2009); Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade Books, 2008). That is, to cite mine @ November 2, 2019 at 4:57 AM, which built upon it:
“There’s actually a conversation waiting to begin ... Still, even now (H/T Oliver O’Donovan). A real one, BTW, this time; one of careful, compassionate, considered appreciation; where we, the Body of Christ, are NOT conformed to this aeon’s ways of (say) identity politics or prejudice or ‘extremism’ (whatever that might mean), etc.; but truly, appropriately, “in view of God’s mercies” (NIV), transformed/ing through the renewing of our minds, etc. [I wish there were space to assess this absolute fulcrum of Paul’s theology and praxis, his praxis and theology, in his magisterial Romans at 12:1-2, the link between chs 1-11 in their entirety, as a whole, and the rest of the Letter - oh; there is?! ABSB’s God’s Address?! Cheeky b*****]”
The thread runs between November 3, 2019 at 4:10 PM and November 4, 2019 at 2:20 PM. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, both!
I was delighted Bowman with your references: to Gadamer: to unpacking something of Church vs. State (a passion of mine via ... well; at least Bill Cavanaugh; and my BA was in Pol Sci and Theol, w a Soc minor); to apocalyptic, etc - but sadly I part company from you with DC’s [original] view re Rom 1; see now NTW and his 2015, Paul and His Recent Interpreters; and more ... We really do need to Skype and get behind this ‘stone age’ technology of blogging ;)))))))) All in all, sorry, but much of it reminds me of a unit I used to run enticed “Theology & Culture”. But that’s for another day and a week’s holding up together in one of our mustering huts ;)
And Peter; where did you find the time ...??? ;))) I break the comment into three parts (naturally I think); it is a blog once more! And I’d have to say each part deserves careful consideration - though with small rejoinders here and there as well ... small ones ;)
Thanks for the catalysts! I sense I might have degrees of sleeplessness ahead as I “ponder” (Lk 1 & 2) the implications of each part. Already the mind is delightfully exploding ...!
"...the church has a legitimate interest in this *ordinance of creation* and its regulation..."
Yes. Solemnisation is redundant, confusing, and probably pre-empting some more churchly practice, but even before Leo VI dumped law enforcement on his bishops they had a discipline that covered at least the points you mention on the shape of matrimony.
In return, I offer, with thanks to St Maximus who brought this to our attention a few centuries before Leo VI, that the Body has been released from the estrangement of men and women from each other, one of the divisions in the creation that has yawned since the Fall and that the Son "in whom all things hold together" is mending. Within the Body, both feminists and conservatives have drawn attention to the discord of the sexes in our time, and it is odd that there is no practice among us to charge men to be responsive to and responsible for women throughout the lifespan, and vice versa. Any marriage discipline that works will be simply an application of that one whatever form it takes.
"...may we read Scripture with consonance with our own times or are we destined to read only with dissonance...?"
Gadamer (or Jenson or Childs or Frei) would say that a culturally distant (ancient or foreign) text is illegible to us until we have done both, and that each way of reading depends on the other. On one hand, the dissonance inevitably yields more insight into our selves than our selfies; we can only understand what resists easy comprehension by allowing ourselves to be more than we had imagined that we are. On the other, the consonance elicits insights from the text that were unavailable to its first hearers; that the Holy Spirit has such insights in store for us is what we mean by saying that the canon is inspired. In the desired *fusion of horizons*-- the text's, our own-- we seek a takeaway that is adequate to both discoveries.
The resulting experience of being *thrice-born* is analogous to that of an anthropologist who travels from New Zealand to some strange place, learns to see the locals' lives and world through their eyes, and then as a person changed by that empathy, inhabits her own homeland in a deeper way. The example reminds us that the Holy Spirit most often makes us not more ruly with a new rule, although that does happen, but more ethical with a new ethos. Disciples united to Christ read for the ethos of the Body and then the rules given or improvised fall into place as habit. "Seek ye first the kingdom..."
"it is a question which sits, I suggest, in every contemporary discussion!"
But it arises from a mistaken expectation that the Bible is or ought to be legible as a document-- an instruction booklet even-- for casual browsers of our own time. We have already drawn the contrast between reading for rules and being habituated to an ethos. It remains to be said that the scriptures were written for us, but they were not written to us.
Your suspicious discussants are like a tourist who crosses an ocean to a strange land and once there criticizes the locals about everything that they do differently-- "You're driving on the wrong side of the road!"-- because she cannot detect the cultural context in which their ways make sense to them. Indeed, it is often precisely the points at which we most viscerally or moralistically disapprove of others that they reveal the logs in our own eyes. When we return home, as we must, we cannot replicate what the foreigners do-- we may still reasonably disapprove of some of it-- but with the logs taken from our eyes we will see and do things differently. It is same with writings from other times and places in the Body; it is the same with the scriptures.
Postscript. Ancient invective is not an exception to the foregoing. Reading it, we are eavesdropping on a conversation in the distant past where language was used differently, not credulously learning from the ancients how to speak and act in our own societies today. If we avoid the modernists, reformers, mystics, scholastics, or fathers because some of them said or did things that shock us today, will we avoid the scriptures too because we cannot quite account Phinehas's zeal to him for righteousness? Dear readers, please keep your minds open to the possibility that difficult texts can open a door to inspiring insight.
Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, here as elsewhere. From most ages, there are texts vehemently warning men (usually male monastics) to be wary of women (especially those that haunt their dreams), and others emphatically warning women (especially maidens) to be wary of men (especially those desiring fornication). This literature is motivational, not speculative. The stereotyping and admonition in St Jerome's letters to women can seem crude, but then the subtle psychology in those of de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses seems to defeat itself. We learn most from doughty sin-fighters of the past by understanding, not only the dangers that they warned about, but also why they were so afraid of them just then.
What we learn from them may have a surprising application in our own world. There are few masterpieces of paschal preaching more glorious than one by St Melito of Sardis, but to my youthful dismay it excoriates the Jews more than any generation after the Shoah can easily read. Nevertheless, for a graduate seminar, I not only read it but investigated its context which is this: much of his congregation was mixing Jewish and Christian observances, attending synagogue on Saturday and cathedral on Sunday, keeping kosher and approaching the chalice, circumcising and baptising. Just as the rabbis responded to this dual adherence with a curse on Nazarenes in the Twelfth Benediction, so Melito (like ++ Davies) also tried to force a choice by preaching to heighten cognitive dissonance in the fence-sitters.
Discovering this did not make me an anti-Semite. It showed me that church and synagogue still overlapped in the East long after AD 70, opened my mind to the claim that Byzantine apocalyptic was borrowing from the Jews well into the middle ages, and prompted me to ask how, despite St Paul's hopeful chapters in Romans, the disciples of Jesus and the Pharisees became distinct religious bodies in the Roman world. Figuring out how to understand them as two movements in a single religion is one of the most valuable things I have done in my life.
A painting professor once told me that the secret to a powerful palette is to figure out which colours one viscerally hates, and then build a series of paintings around them, so that no hue or tint remains beyond one's creative use. Those in every contemporary discussion could profit by likewise learning to integrate what offends them.
Thanks Ron for yours @ November 2, 2019 at 1:20 PM
All I can truly say is that it is time you and I knelt together at the same HC rail before the same altar/Table of Fellowship and received “the Bread of Life” Himself ...
Alternatively, please just read the new Appendix in God’s Address on the Eucharist ... It may give us both a ray of hope.
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