Thinking Anglicans

Mr Hooker and the Windsor Report

Mike Russell, the Rector of All Souls Episcopal Church, San Diego, California, recently wrote the following short essay to explain why section B4 of the Windsor Report does not reflect the classic Anglican position on the authority of Scripture, which is to say the position of Richard Hooker.

Reproduced with Mike’s permission

For his credentials on Hooker see here
Another essay in the same vein is here

The classic Anglican position, found in Hooker’s “Laws” is that scripture is the primary source of revelation for “all things necessary for salvation” not all things simply. The WR and the Neo-Puritans are attempting to make it necessary for all things simply. Books II and III of the Laws are quite clear on the boundaries set on Scripture’s “prima” authority having already rejected it as having “sola” authority.

So while Scripture is perfect for the purpose for which it was created, it is for Mr. Hooker and those that follow clearly a mixture of documents as well, many of which are bound by time and place. For example, in the Articles of Religion we see the Church setting to the side not only the Apocrypha, but the judicial and ceremonial laws of Hebrew Scripture. What is most interesting in that is that the specific parts of Leviticus we see bandied about quite often are part of the judicial law and not the moral law which is confined to the Ten Commandments.

So classic Anglicanism has at its core a hermeneutic for prioritizing the contents of Scripture and their respective authority. To treat it in any flat literal sense as a repository of eternal commands is not and never has been Anglican. That the WR is hazy on this, wanting to affirm the authority of scripture, but also warning of the dangers and ambiguities related to interpretation, leaves it listing disastrously to the fundamentalist Neo-Puritan side.

But wait, there’s more! Mr. Hooker in Book III investigates the mutability of laws and concludes that even direct commands spoken by Jesus might under different times and circumstances be mutable. How else might we have allowed divorce and remarriage except with such an Anglican hermeneutic.

And more. Most people belabor the Reason, Tradition, Scripture “three legged stool”, but that is a secondary level of discussion in Mr. Hooker who accords revelatory status to the Law of Reason, The Law of Nature and Divine Law of which Scripture is a sub category. These are three of the four categories of God’s Second Eternal Law (the fourth being Celestial Laws regarding Angels). For things NOT “necessary for salvation” we can be instructed as well by the structures of Reason and the Book of Nature and perhaps by the ongoing revelation we might have from the Holy Spirit. To ignore what these sources of revelation can teach us is to gag God.

Finally, Mr. Hooker also understood that which is a continuing topic of discussion even among contemporary legal philosophers: reflexivity among laws. In essence sometimes laws stemming from different legal arenas clash and we have to decide which to use as operative. Hooker saw this in potential clashes for people between King, Church, and Positive Laws. But it is also embedded in his understanding of the hermeneutic that develops for each conscience with respect to the interaction of the components of God’s Second Eternal Law. Nothing is ever quite so simple as having a code book that will tell us everything to do.

So, for me, when we talk about the authority of Scripture it must be framed as Mr. Hooker framed it, respecting the hermeneutic foundation that shaped our Anglican heritage. To surrender to the language of the WR (and of the groups using this same language for the last decade as though it were Anglican) is simply to set ourselves up to buy the pig in the poke.

What we need to do is resolve whether or not we are going to be true to our Anglican heritage with respect to scripture or slip into the crass fundamentalism that has proven so divisive and destructive in every setting where it has come to power.

And finally, finally, it is worth re-reading the Preface of the Laws just to appreciate how sophisticated an understanding Mr Hooker had of how conflict is fomented. For me, at any rate, its description of the sleazy tactics of the Calvinists is every bit as apropos to those of the Neo-Puritans. It is worth remembering that Mr. Hooker himself was accused by Travers and others of heresy and apostasy well before he wrote the laws. So classic Anglicanism was and continues to be defined and described by people that Puritans and Neo-Puritans alike consider heretical and apostate. Not a bad heritage to possess.

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dmitri
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dmitri

Thank you for this article. It is quite helpful. I hope and pray that the Communion can remain faithful to its Anglican heritage of Biblical scholarship and not be derailed by zealous literalists.

J. C. Fisher
Guest

I find it interesting that Fr. Russell is, like myself, a cradle Episcopalian. I resonate, therefore, w/ his claim that the neo-Calvinists/neo-Puritans—having lost the same ol’ arguments 400 years before—are trying an end-run to steal OUR ***ANGLICAN*** Tradition from us.

Gimme that Old Time Religion! ;-D

Sean Doherty
Guest

One Anglican theologian does not a tradition make (how about the prayer book and the articles for starters?). Why should the fact that Richard Hooker thought something make it binding on Anglicans today? That would be literalistic fundamentalism every bit as much as the so-called Neo-Purtianism Mr Russell and others so abhor – just with a different source. More to the point, this reading of Hooker makes the rather absurd assumption that behaviour and morality are irrelevant to the salvation which Scripture contains all things necessary for according to Hooker and the Prayer Book etc. Quite the opposite is affirmed… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

There’s a fascinating counterpoint discussion ongoing at TitusOneNine: http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/wp-trackback.php/7029 The background: Someone had posted Matt Miller’s 6 June 2005 New York Times column “Is Persuasion Dead?” Miller, who is concerned strictly with the political arena, laments that “marshaling a case to persuade those who start from a different position is a lost art. Honoring what’s right in the other side’s argument seems a superfluous thing that can only cause trouble, like an appendix. Politicos huddle with like-minded souls in opinion cocoons that seem impervious to facts.” The commenters so far have been heaping scorn on Miller; some go so far… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

The lunancy of the Neo-Puritans; that is, those who are hell-bent on purifying the cult regardless of the deception they use or carnage they produce, never ceases to amaze me. Hooker IS the theological basis of Anglicanism. The Bob Duncans of the world aren’t going to be happy until they’ve destoyed classic Anglicanism and made it into some Baptist-like cult with only people like themselves in the club. The majority of Episcopalians in the USA are quite content with classic Anglicanism as given to us by Hooker, thank you very much. If Duncan and his Rebellion want to leave, then… Read more »

Simeon
Guest

Peter wrote: “If Duncan and his Rebellion want to leave, then leave (and leave the keys to the church and your pensions behind). But please leave the rest of us alone.” Well, yes – that’s ultimately the issue behind all this sound & fury, regardless of oh-so pious remarks to the contrary. But of course, they don’t *want* to leave without the property and the pension, and will consequently stay and remain disagreeable and obstructionist. If they *could* leave in possession of things which don’t belong to them, I assume they would. The desire to do so, I’m guessing, to… Read more »

Bill Matz
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Bill Matz

Interesting and provacative analysis. Would be more credible without some significant errors:
1. First I’ve heard that Jewish moral law is limited to the Ten Commandments.
2. The 39 Articles of Religion did not set aside Jewish ceremonial law; that was done by the apostles after revelation, as reported in Acts. The 39 Articles merely continued that 1500+ year distinction. Big difference.
Curiosity: is there some subtle significance to the author’s repeated reference to “Mr.” Hooker?

joe from oc
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joe from oc

Sean is 100% on the mark. In fact, Hooker was deeply opposed to single individuals, with the exception of apostles, being held out as the authority on any theological question. There is also a clear effort here to avoid Hooker’s ties to the natural law tradition and his admiration for St. Thomas Aquinas. By leaving this out, Father Mike doesn’t have to explain how Hooker’s “flexibility” on certain difficult parts of the moral teaching of Scripture does not exactly coincide with the modernist/progressivist idea of comprehensiveness. Hooker believed in the authority of tradition, and he was clear on what constituted… Read more »

Sean Doherty
Guest

Peter said: “Hooker IS the theological basis of Anglicanism.”
No, the self-disclosure of God in Jesus Christ as borne witness to in Scripture is the basis of Anglicanism, as it must be for any theology which wishes to be Christian in any meaningful sense.

Peter
Guest
Peter

The very thought of Bob Duncan and his Rebellion hanging around and continuing to make life hell for the rest of us sickens me. Duncan is never going to be PB of ECUSA. Rowan Williams is never going to give his Rebellion parity with ECUSA. He and his grenade throwers are going to get trounced–again–at General Convention in 2006. The majority of Episcopalians in ECUSA fall under the umbrella of classic Anglicanism as given to us by Hooker. They smell a phoney when they see one, and they know a blundering sort of power-grab when they see one. Anglicanism is… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
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Caelius Spinator

From Article VII: “Although the Law given from God by Moses as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.” The more Protestant leaning Anglicans in 1571 may have been like their descendants who wrote the Westminster Confession etc. and believed that the moral law is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments (proof-texting with Matthew 19:17-19. The more Catholic-leaning Anglicans would have agreed with the idea of summary… Read more »

Simeon
Guest

Peter wrote: “Again–I repeat–the majority of Episcopalians in ECUSA want this nonsense to end.” And I should have made it clearer in my last comment that I’m also commenting on the “current unpleasantness” as it pertains to the ECUSA. While everything I’ve read or personally experienced (living in a “Network” diocese) leads me to the conclusion that the “conservatives” of the AAC/”Network” have a theology that boils down to a thinly veiled Neo-Puritan fundamentalism, they are ultimately motivated by a desire to walk away from the ECUSA *with* property & financial resources which don’t belong to them. Here in the… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

Simeon–you’re so right. Bob Duncan and his Rebellion remind me of people at my college who use to protest against something out in front of the Administrative Building until 5:00 rolled around and it was time to go to the dining hall for dinner. I’m all for a little revolution now and then; and, I would have more respect for Duncan and his Rebellion if they would do what the Puritans had the integrity to do in Hooker’s time: leave unconditionally. You know, if General Convention 2003 had gone the Rebellion’s way, don’t doubt for a moment that Duncan wouldn’t… Read more »

DGus
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DGus

You say: “Mr. Hooker … accords revelatory status to the Law of Reason, The Law of Nature and Divine Law of which Scripture is a sub category. These are three of the four categories of God’s Second Eternal Law.” Evidently, Reason and Natural Law are therefore supposed to condition or qualify (or revise?) the “flat” teachings of Scripture (e.g., condemnations and prohibitions of sex outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage). But Reason and Natural Law just don’t have that much to offer here–partly because the Scripture interpretation problems aren’t that tricky. Although one can profit well from studying the teaching of… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

I know the law varies hugely from place to place. But it always mystifies me when people speak of congregations running off with property, somehow taking it away from its rightful owner. One could argue that it all belongs to God I know. But, apart from the legal argument which may or may not be an ass, morally who has more ownership claim on a property? The faithful folk who have sacrificially skimped and saved and funded it in the first place and then paid to maintain it over the years, sometimes many hundreds of years? Or some abstract organisation… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
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Leonardo Ricardo

“Hang in there, mainstream Anglicans! Hooker, Maurice, and Temple are the foundation of Anglicanism–not idolatry of the Bible and not cheap circus antics like Duncan.”

We’re hang’n just FINE south-of-the-border(s) but thanks for thinking of US…may God bless ANGLICANS everywhere with MORE brotherly/sisterly love, acceptance,inclusivity and SANITY!

Sean Doherty
Guest

I am entertained by the use of the term Rebellion. It reminds me of the Emperor in Star Wars telling Luke Skywalker he will “crush your insignificant rebellion”, except this time it’s the General Convention instead of the Death Star which seems to be accorded ultimate power. More to the point, I fail to see how it is rebellious to adhere to the historic teaching of the church. Personally I support the ordination of women but I don’t think that those who oppose it are rebellious. Far from it. They are seeking to be faithful to what they believe is… Read more »

Sean Doherty
Guest

P.S. Please could someone explain to me why the church building are the property of the diocese and not the parish. (This is not a polemical question, I am genuinely unsure of the reasoning behind this.)

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Because we’re Episcopalians, not Congregationalists? (not to be glib—and I speak only from a U.S. context, of course)

When I read this essay a couple of days ago, I thought: will the opposition say 1) “Who gives a fig about Hooker?” or 2) “You don’t know Hooker, like I know Hooker!”

Interesting to see we have some of each [However, re: the latter—it’s just strange to me, that I’ve never heard Hooker cited previously, *in favor of* a more authoritarian view of Scripture (and literal/systematically-prejudicial readings thereof) in determining the Mind of the Church]

This is a good debate, though. May conversation continue!

Bob Webster
Guest
Bob Webster

DGus, An observation regarding natural law being that which we can deduce from nature….it has long been known, and usually suppressed, that homosexuality it found throughout nature in all species. It is also known that while there are 2 sexes, based on the size of gametes, there are often more than one gender in each sex. Usually the different genders have a different size or markings but not always. It would be helpful in Humanity if those of homosexual gender had something other than their internal awareness to distinguish them. Lavender Skin maybe. Scripture is precious for the message of… Read more »

Mark
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Mark

Neil asks, “But, apart from the legal argument which may or may not be an ass, morally who has more ownership claim on a property? The faithful folk who have sacrificially skimped and saved and funded it in the first place and then paid to maintain it over the years, sometimes many hundreds of years? Or some abstract organisation ‘over there’, otherwise known as the Diocese or the Denomination? “ You speak as though the faithful folks who gave for 100s of years are the same folks who are now trying to leave the church. The people who gave their… Read more »

Sean Doherty
Guest

I am intrigued by the suggestion that homosexuality is a gender. Does that mean that God made four genders? Or did he make a fifth and sixth (male and female bisexuality) or did he make an infinite number, reflecting the graduated spectrum of sexual desires? And how are we to square this with the biblical witness (which is not just about a few minor proof texts about sexual practices but about the way it seems to teach God made male and female rather than several other genders)? Somehow the idea that he made two genders and that sexual desire is… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Even if I accepted Mark’s point, I still wonder how a Diocese or a denomination can have * more * of a “right” to the property than the local people? And that is the implication of those who keep accusing congregations of stealing the property or hijacking it or the like from the allegedly rightful owner, the Diocese or the Denomination. If the funds were given to preserve the proclamation of the gospel in a particular place last year or last century, there is something quite immoral about an outside entity who holds to a different gospel trying to distort… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Neil says, “If the funds were given to preserve the proclamation of the gospel in a particular place last year or last century, there is something quite immoral about an outside entity who holds to a different gospel trying to distort the use to which the legacy is put whether one year later or a hundred years later.” Ah, well, of course the problem lies in the phrase “a different gospel” — you and I might disagree about that. And, since we’re talking about hundreds of years of parish support here, many of the people who founded and supported some… Read more »

Simeon
Guest

Of course we could argue from now until the Second Coming about “right & wrong” WRT who “should” own the property. But that’s really beside the point. The point is that it’s a purely legal issue, and the Diocese as trustee for the ECUSA wins. I’m also dumbstruck that, apparently, there are clergy and vestry who have somehow come to those positions w/o any knowledge of ECUSA canon law. Did the future clergy sleep through those classes at seminary or what ? 😉 I actually see this issue as ultimate proof that there’s more than a tad bit of hypocrisy… Read more »

DGus
Guest
DGus

Dear Bob Webster: Hello. Nice to meet you. You say, “It is also known that while there are 2 sexes, … there are often more than one gender in each sex.” Your passive voice obscures who does this supposed knowing. I don’t know this. Genesis says that God made them male and female. So we have revealed truth on the point. Or maybe this is an instance in which you say that I’m “try[ing] to make [Scripture] respond to questions it wasn’t designed to answer”? I don’t think so. The complementarity of the (two) human sexes is THE point of… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Thank you for the reminder Simeon that what holds the church together is canon law. I had naively thought it might be something like the 39 articles and ultimately the Bible. I’m sure those who are ordained went to college to learn all about Canon Law. Again, naively I thought (hoped) college was about being trained to pastor and teach God’s Word. And thanks too for the reminder that the letter of the law is what matters, not the spirit of it, or the morality of it. Your post reminds me that the orthodox have no need to leave –… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Tut-tut, Neil. These have been the rules concerning property in the Church of England and her Daughter Churches (to use that very old-fashioned expression) for a very long time now. They have been the rules of the Roman Catholic Church for an even longer time. You can say that the rules don’t seem right to you, so they can’t really be the rules. There is a word for that: immaturity. You can also say that the rules aren’t giving you what you want, so you are going to ignore them and do what you want anyway. There is a word… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

“These have been the rules concerning property in the Church of England…” My first post in this thread acknowledged that the law varies hugely from place to place. It is not actually so that the Diocese owns parish property in the Church of England, not at all. Neither morally nor legally. “You can say that the rules don’t seem right to you, so they can’t really be the rules. There is a word for that: immaturity.” So Jesus was immature when he said the Pharasees laws were immoral? “You can also say that the rules aren’t giving you what you… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Neil, your arguments are in need of repair. Here are some suggestions: I wrote: “You can say that the rules don’t seem right to you, so they can’t really be the rules. There is a word for that: immaturity.” You replied: “So Jesus was immature when he said the Pharasees laws were immoral?” Neil, here you are trying to make an argument from analogy. To make this argument successfully, you need to show that the canon laws governing property and the Pharisees’ regulations governing (let us say) tithes or labor on the Sabbath are similar in crucial and relevant respects,… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Before we start deconstructing every word and every letter of what * I * wrote…. My question and point was quite simple originally. It hasn’t been answered by anyone yet. What is the moral justification for property being attributed to a Diocese or a denomination, rather than to a congregation who has paid for it – whether a couple of hundred years ago or, equally so, ten years ago? Is it precisely the same people – who knows but does that matter? It is the * purpose * for which the property was acquired/built etc that must be morally significant… Read more »

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

Neil, there is an answer to your question, although whether this will meet your expectations for moral justification I don’t know. The reason that Canons of The Episcopal Church specify that the local congregation holds property in trust for the diocese begins with ecclesiology. The ecclesiology of the Church as maintained in the Anglican Communion (I believe I can say that with some confidence) is that the basic unit of the whole Church is the Diocese. The local congregation is the local expression of the Diocese on behalf of the Church; as opposed to seeing the Diocese, and the Church… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Thanks Marshall. I followed most of that and can certainly see some pragmatic logic there, depending on how the majority of churches were founded in particular places – it is not of course by any means the case that “the Diocese” had a major role in every province. However “The ecclesiology of the Church as maintained in the Anglican Communion (I believe I can say that with some confidence) is that the basic unit of the whole Church is the Diocese…..” Well the Anglican Communion is surely all founded on the 39 Articles of Religion? In which case: Article 19:… Read more »

Marshall
Guest
Marshall

Neil, let me make a disclaimer: as a priest in the American church, I am expected to be aware of the Articles of Religion, but they are not in any institutional sense binding. Adherence to them is not stated in the ordination rite, nor required in Canon. They are included in the current Book of Common Prayer (1979)in the section “Historical Documents,” and are important in that limited sense. With that in mind, I have two thoughts from your comment. The first is that Article XIX is addressing a question different from that to which you apply it. The historical… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Surely the Articles are simply reflecting what the Bible says: they certainly defer to the Bible (not the Bishop) if there is anything unclear. “Article XIX is in contradiction to that” (the reformation view of visible and invisible church) Surely not! Article 19 is surely talking about a congregation (being the visible church, not the Diocese or the denomination) and defining the prerequisites for that congregation to exist: Word and Sacrament. Its explicit reference to the visible church is not denying the existence of the wider invisible body of all true believers now and in the past and the future… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Neil, you’re assuming that the writers of the Thirty-Nine Articles meant by “congregation” what you mean by “congregation,” and this is not a safe assumption. Keep in mind that the Thirty-Nine Articles were agreed and passed by Parliament in 1563, as part of the Elizabethan Settlement. They were, moreover, a revision of the Forty-Two Articles, Thomas Cranmer’s work, which were adopted in the last year of King Edward VI’s reign, 1553. I think before you take your argument very much further, you should familiarize yourself with this history. You would be much less inclined to say that “the Articles are… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Charlotte wrote: “_The Reformation_ is a very readable history and might be a good starting point” So here we have it: ECUSA loyalists pretending intellectual and legal superiority.. while taking as much as possible away from “conservatives” who won’t accept decisions of GC2003 and the House of Bishops — that are rejected by the majority of Anglicans worldwide, and made despite the appeals of the leaders of the Anglican Communion that they say they want to continue to be a part of. Here’s a story to gladden Charlotte’s and Marshall’s hearts: St. Nicholas’ Episcopal Church had the highest attendance of… Read more »

DGus
Guest
DGus

Charlotte: Hello! You quote someone saying, “Hooker’s criteria for making decisions became as much [1] the weight of collective past experience and [2] the exercise of God-given reason as [3] the commands of Scripture itself”. Fair enough. Pardon me for essentialy repeating myself (see above), but what light do “collective past experience” and “God-given reason” actually shed on the current controversy? Do they help, where “the commands of Scripture” are rather plain (at least, when read “flatly and literally”)? Can they trump the Scripture?

David
Guest
David

Neil said:
“I’m really disappointed to hear you only have to be aware of the Articles. I think you will find that to the rest of the Communion they are foundational.”

Resolution #43 of Lambeth 1968 “suggests to the Churches of the Anglican Communion that assent to the Thirty-Nine Artcles be no longer required of ordinands.” It goes on to state that the Artcles should only be considered in the full range or their historical content.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Dave, I think there is nothing wrong with knowing something about the history and doctrine of one’s own church. It is a historical fact, and quite an important one, that Anglican churches are not, and never have been, organized along congregationalist lines. They are episcopal churches. That is a fact relevant to a good bit of the “current controversy,” including the events in West Texas you mention. DGus, the person I quoted is Diarmaid MacCulloch, who is probably one of the two or three best-respected contemporary historians of the English Church and Reformation. I quoted him merely as a way… Read more »

DGus
Guest
DGus

Charlotte sez: “DGus, it would seem from your post that you reject Hooker’s approach, at least as it might be applied to the “current controversy.” Fair enough: the Puritans of his day rejected his views also, as applied to their (then-)current controversies. However, Hooker and his views are central to the Anglican tradition….” No no no. I am asking: Assuming Hooker’s approach (as characterized by MacCulloch) is the correct one, what difference DOES Hooker’s approach make? It’s fine to say, “The Scriptures that may seem to say X need to be informed by Collective Experience and Reason, and then may… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Charlotte You seem intent on defining Anglican by (one not very balanced, interpretational angle on) Hooker. That is most definitely not what Anglican means or what most other Anglicans do. At the same time, you seem intent upon playing down what most Anglicans do define themselves by: the foundational articles which in themselves attribute their authority to the Scriptures, NOT Hooker I’m afraid. “…a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered…” is irrefutably and undeniably a congregation! That’s not to deny the existence of the wider episcope (-… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Hi Charlotte I have no intention of being distracted into spending huge effort finessing my intellectual arguements when what you are really supporting is the ejection of good Christians from ECUSA. There are plenty of other folk here who can do that better than me, and have done. Plus lots of other documents and discussions avaiilable to anyone who wishes to research the various issues. But even if we could persuade you that we are right and that ECUSA has erred from the Faith, which I doubt since we are starting from very different assumptions, I expect that you would… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

DGus, thank you for the clarification of your own position, and for returning the discussion to Hooker. There are other posters to this blog who have addressed your questions, so I will add only this: There is a difference — subtle, but I think ultimately quite significant — between your formulation of Hooker’s views and MacCulloch’s. In your formulation, Hooker is concerned with ways of determining the meanings of doubtful Scriptural passages. MacCulloch’s suggests that Hooker is addressing people who have to decide how Scriptural passages should be applied to a given concrete situation. I think MacCulloch’s way of understanding… Read more »

DGus
Guest
DGus

Charlotte: OK, Hooker teaches not only that we use Experience and Reason to inform interpretation of Scripture but (you say) to determine its “application”. I can’t help thinking this really means using Experience and Reason to correct or supersede or overrule Scripture, but I really just want to understand your position. Let’s take as a given that Experience and Reason inform (govern?) the “application” (or non-application) of Scriptural truth. My question–and forgive me for pushing–is: What do Reason and Experience tell us when the subject is homosexuality?

DGus
Guest
DGus

Bob Webster: Hello again. I find my mind returning frequently to your comments about “Natural Law” informing our judgments about the licitness of human homosexuality. You said, “An observation regarding natural law being that which we can deduce from nature….it has long been known … that homosexuality [is] found throughout nature in all species.” Assuming this is true, I’m trying to figure out its significance. It seems you’re saying (although maybe I misunderstand) that if a behavior occurs in “nature” (i.e., among animal wildlife) then this supports a “Natural Law” argument that the behavior is licit among humans. Is that… Read more »

Michael Russell
Guest

My thanks to everyone who has taken time to reply so thoughtfully and energetically to the posting here of a note I wrote for the House of Bishops and Deputies e-mail discussion list. Since they appreciate brevity, I acknowledge that the article may not satisfy those who would like me to be more nuanced and complete. Such is the cost of having to be brief. To those who don’t think I’ve read enough of Mr. Hooker, I suggest you look on my website at the sample pages from my “Essence Outline” of the “Laws”. In it I distill each section,… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

DGus asks: “What do Reason and Experience tell us when the subject is homosexuality?”

Answer: Plenty! (That was a rhetorical question, DGus, wasn’t it?)

But to give you a more serious answer: Here you have the reason the Windsor Report and the 1998 Lambeth documents commit all of us in the Churches to “listening to the experience of homosexual persons.” No individual demonstrations of logic or hermeneutics applied to the sacred texts, no matter how cleverly done, can substitute for this process of listening to one another’s experiences.

DGus
Guest
DGus

I hope it’s not impolite to say that, in my opinion, this reflects very sloppy reasoning. You say that authentic Anglican analysis, per Hooker, requires that we condition the application of Scriptural commands by appeals to “Collective Experience” and “Reason”; but then when push comes to shove, all you invoke to set aside the Scriptural commands is “the experience of homosexual persons”–i.e., the subjective feelings of persons inclined to live counter to those commands. Homosexually oriented persons experience in their own context what we ALL experience one way or another–i.e., “the good that I would, I do not; but the… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest

dgus ; I’m absolutely clear that both the Bible and the Church have been wrong, and that Christianity does require revision – liberal Christianity has always started from the premise that revision is needed.

I think what people in this thread are talking about is one’s approach, which has led many of us to these conclusions. A conservative, fundamentalist approach will not have that possibility. Which is its problem – it has no flexibility, no ability to respond and be self-critical.