Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 26 December 2015

Natasha Moore The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) In defence of the nativity play

Rowan Williams ABC Religion and Ethics Where Faith is Born: Seeing Ourselves Honestly, Seeing the World Differently

Giles Fraser The Guardian The story of the virgin birth runs against the grain of Christianity
Archdruid Eileen A Canon Backfires

Some (arch)bishops’ Christmas Messages

Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of York

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada – Archbishop Hiltz has also recorded this video jointly with the Lutheran National Bishop of Canada
Bishop David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (video)

Bishop of Chelmsford
Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop of Western Tanganyika and Bishop of El Camino Real
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Lincoln
Bishop of Liverpool – The bishop also has a separate video message.
Bishop of Sheffield

Bishop of St Asaph
Bishop of Bangor
Bishop of Swansea and Brecon

Anglican and Roman Catholic Primates of Ireland

Archbishop Philip Freier, Primate of Australia

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda

And some sermons

Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Bath and Wells
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of Durham
Bishop of Guildford
Bishop of Leeds
Bishop of Southwark
Bishop of Taunton

Archbishop of Wales

Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow Midnight Mass Christmas morning

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Rod GillisEric MacDonaldFather Ron SmithcseitzKate Recent comment authors
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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re Natasha Moore, “My own sense is that the depth and counter-intuitiveness of these truths suggest that the Christmas story is much more than simply a repository of human wisdom. That it may be, truly, Emmanuel: God come down to us, as one of us.”

Perfect. Thanks for the link to her terrific article.

Father Ron Smith
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With all due respect to Father Giles Fraser – whose theological understang of gender and sexuality I normally approve of, I’m afraid I think he has completely the wrong end of the argument when he pours scorn on the virginity of Mary – before the Conception of Jesus, Son of God. “before they came to live together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, beiung a man of honour, and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally…” – Matthew 1:18-19 – The amazing mystery of Christ’s Incarnation was not so… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Archbishop Justin uses the word apocalypse (once in its plural form) no less than ten times in his Christmas Day sermon. I wonder, does he know something that the rest of us don’t?

cseitz
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cseitz

Gibraltar links to Wales.

Peter Owen
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I’ve corrected the Gibraltar link.

Kate
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Kate

@Father David

That is an interesting observation especially since the present Pope, more than any recent predecessor, has also talked about end times.

cseitz
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cseitz

Thanks.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Father David, “Archbishop Justin uses the word apocalypse (once in its plural form) no less than ten times in his Christmas Day sermon. I wonder, does he know something that the rest of us don’t?’

No, Father, I think he knows exactly what everyone else knows, you know, climate change with severe weather, terrorists looking for dirty bombs, loose cannons like Putin with nukes, and on it goes. But look on the biblical bright side, “wars and rumors of wars” but the end is not yet.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Fr. Ron (27 Dec. 12:19). Enjoyed your comment. Fraser’s articles are usually iconoclastic; but I share your assessment of this one. Wondering if you have seen (Ian) John Macquarrie’s book, Mary For All Christians (Eerdsmans, 1990)? The ARCIC document, Mary:Grace and Hope in Christ is also very helpful. There is a useful footnote (2)to paragraph 18: “Given its strongly Jewish matrix in both Matthean and Lucan versions, and appeal to analogies with pagan mythology or to an exaltation of virginity over the married state to explain the origin of the tradition is implausible. Nor is the idea of virginal… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Rod. Being ‘old-fashioned’ in some ways, I am thankful that I can still believe in miracles.
For me, the abiding miracle is that our Creator was interested enough to become part of the creation, giving us the prospect of new life from within.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Father Ron, “…the abiding miracle …of new life from within.” Now there is a turn of phrase that caught my eye, turning up within the context of a conversation about The Nativity and St. Mary. As an aging Anglican I have re-appropriated a few of the religious practices from my Roman Catholic upbringing.(Perhaps Erik Erikson would approve.) One such practice is a devotion to St. Mary. A few years ago I crafted a prayer based on The Ave. I have been using it during Advent and Incarnation seasons. I find it adds to my appreciation of the collect for… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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I find the comments on Giles Fraser’s column in the Guardian just a little hard to understand. Fr. Ron suggests that Giles “pours scorn on the virginity of Mary – before the Conception of Jesus, Son of God.” So far as I can see, there is not a scornful (or iconoclastic) word to be found in Fraser’s column. All he says is that the emphasis on the purity of Mary goes against the grain of the story of Jesus, who associated with prostitutes and sinners, and in other ways violated the purity restrictions of Judaism. If the Son of God… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Eric MacDonald, the introduction of the R.C. doctrine of the Immaculate Conception into the conversation is sleight of hand. Natasha Moore in her article writes, “I happen to be a Christian, so I do think the story of Mary and Joseph, the stable in Bethlehem, the shepherds and wise men, is true; or, more accurately, I’m Christian because I think it’s true.” I agree with her. One wonders sometimes, how it is possible to remain a Christian and a member of the institutional church given the institution’s ecclesiastical politics? The answer, for me, resides in its mythology, ( in… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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Rod, I see no sleight of hand in raising the doctrine of the immaculate conception. Nor do I find Natasha Moore’s account of Christmas particularly helpful. First of all, she concentrates almost entirely on Matthew, since that allows her to play with the idea of Jesus as refugee (very timely, no doubt), which Luke’s gospel does not. (Nor do I find her speaking of “truths” either reasonable or helpful when speaking in terms of myth, especially when she so sedulous confines herself to only one birth myth, and one that is less likely to have been true.) I think the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Eric, I’ll make an effort not to turn this into another 100 round duel. “The problem of the atonement …unsolved …” Only if one is a problem maker and not a problem solver. The passion and death of Christ is an act of full and complete solidarity with the poor, the suffering, , the oppressed, the despairing. the dying. ‘We have no idea how to accept Jesus as truly human…” Who is “we”? I have no problem knowing how to accept Jesus as human. Nor do a host of contemporary faithful artists, activists and care givers find it problematic.… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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Well, Rod, as affirmations of faith, what you say is doubtless comfortably orthodox. As theology, it fails in ways that I already suggested, and does not account for the early controversies about the nature of Jesus, which, despite our more sentimental attachment to faith claims about Jesus, are still living theological issues. “The Myth of God Incarnate” didn’t come from nowhere. Nor did Arius’ language about Jesus become normative Christian doctrine by accident. Christian orthodoxy concerning the relation of Father and Son (homoousios) was simply an inversion of Arius’ claims about that relationship. But the language itself never solved the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Eric,”…what you say is doubtless comfortably orthodox…” Orthodoxy is largely a political construct. I don’t find it a useful self-description. All will be well has nothing to do with Jeremiah. Its from Julian of Norwich. I’m surprised you missed it. You seriously misunderstand Brown in terms of this discussion, and your citation from him does your argument in support of Giles Fraser no good. (See, Brown BM ( 2nd ed),Appendix IV B The Virginal Conception and NT Christology.) You chose not to respond to my suggestion that Nicaea is a form of modelling. It attempted to conceptualize biblical data… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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Rod, I am, in general, not a great supporter of those whose writings are preceded by the Vatican imprimatur. Raymond Brown is no exception, and I did not and do not pay much attention to his biblical exegesis. Thus his books on the birth and death of the Messiah have not received my attention at all. As for my debating style, I think you would be hard put to show that I “tend to find the fine point of the most extreme evolution of an idea and make it bear the load of a wide spectrum issue that contains a… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, “..debating style…” your first paragraph is illustrative. Why would you make a masterful NT scholar responsible for your visceral reaction to the Papacy? “I do not now understand …what the church wanted to say originally …its doctrinal claims…” While I tip my hat to Nicaea, I’m not entirely sure it isn’t hollow which is perhaps why some theologians look for a different model. We certainly need something that better serves inter-faith dialogue. ” ..we superadd to it when we speak of it in biblical terms.” You have it backwards. Nicaea is the superstructure. Don’t conclude I agree with… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Well, Rod, if my first sentence is illustrative of what you call my “debating style”, then it is nothing like you describe it. Long ago, when, for some reason, the editor of Blackfriars (to which I subscribed when it was simply Blackfriars) became the target of the CDF, and the magazine (journal) was renamed, I resolved that I would read nothing that came with the church’s imprimatur, since what is said in those conditions obviously comes with a caveat about openness and authenticity of belief (I cancelled my subscription at once, and wrote a letter expressing my dismay). That goes… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric, your continued defense of your debating style just keeps building my case for me. “The virginal conception of Jesus is obviously mythic in structure…” Of course it is. But, unlike you, I think it has meaning within the parameters of mythic consciousness. “…it is possible to argue ourselves into and out of faith. I am surprised that someone who studied theology to the extent that you did should think otherwise. ..” Actually, I’m surprised that someone who has studied theology to the extent that you have would think it possible. I’m less of a believer in the enterprise… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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Your last comment was obviously a farewell, so mine will be too. As for my debating style, I don’t see how your characterisation of it is true to the way that I construct arguments – which is what I do, by the way, though you are a bit more staccato in the way that you deliver yourself of a number of largely unrelated comments. First of all, theology cannot have the *goal* of reasonably claiming superiority for one’s belief or faith tradition, since all traditions are human creations, just as myths are, though I think there are things to say… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Eric, “Unlike you, debates are mother’s milk to me, and do not lend themselves to boxing metaphors.” What can I say, I grew up on the streets of a coal mining town. You can run away, stand up and slug it out or jab and dance around. I’m inclined to the latter.

“There are no pleasures in a fight, but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.”
-Muhammad Ali. ( :