Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Presiding Bishop issues pastoral letter
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church, in which she refers to the Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and urges continued dialogue with those who disagree with recent actions “for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.”
The full text of the letter is below the fold. It also deals with the proposed Anglican Covenant. The covering press release continues:
In his May 28 letter, Williams acknowledged the tensions caused in some parts of the Anglican Communion by the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the ongoing unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay, partnered bishop.
Jefferts Schori acknowledged in her letter that “the Spirit does seem to be saying to many within the Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.
“That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety.”
Note: the error discussed in the comments below has now been corrected in the original ENS published copy, and therefore this copy has been conformed accordingly.
A pastoral letter to The Episcopal Church
Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit.
The recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the struggles within the Anglican Communion seems to equate Pentecost with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news. The crowd reported, “in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11).
The Spirit does seem to be saying to many within The Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.
That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety. The willingness to live in tension is a hallmark of Anglicanism, beginning from its roots in Celtic Christianity pushing up against Roman Christianity in the centuries of the first millennium. That diversity in community was solidified in the Elizabethan Settlement, which really marks the beginning of Anglican Christianity as a distinct movement. Above all, it recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree. It also recognizes what Jesus says about the Spirit to his followers, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:12-13).
The Episcopal Church has spent nearly 50 years listening to and for the Spirit in these matters. While it is clear that not all within this Church have heard the same message, the current developments do represent a widening understanding. Our canons reflected this shift as long ago as 1985, when sexual orientation was first protected from discrimination in access to the ordination process. At the request of other bodies in the Anglican Communion, this Church held an effective moratorium on the election and consecration of a partnered gay or lesbian priest as bishop from 2003 to 2010. When a diocese elected such a person in late 2009, the ensuing consent process indicated that a majority of the laity, clergy, and bishops responsible for validating that election agreed that there was no substantive bar to the consecration.
The Episcopal Church recognizes that these decisions are problematic to a number of other Anglicans. We have not made these decisions lightly. We recognize that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.
We also recognize that the attempts to impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity. Native Hawaiians were forced to abandon their traditional dress in favor of missionaries’ standards of modesty. Native Americans were forced to abandon many of their cultural practices, even though they were fully congruent with orthodox Christianity, because the missionaries did not understand or consider those practices exemplary of the Spirit. The uniformity imposed at the Synod of Whitby did similar violence to a developing, contextual Christianity in the British Isles. In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity.
We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.
We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures. We note that the cultural contexts in which The Episcopal Church’s decisions have generated the greatest objection and reaction are also often the same contexts where women are barred from full ordained leadership, including the Church of England.
As Episcopalians, we note the troubling push toward centralized authority exemplified in many of the statements of the recent Pentecost letter. Anglicanism as a body began in the repudiation of the control of the Bishop of Rome within an otherwise sovereign nation. Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the
Church of Scotland Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion.
We have been repeatedly assured that the Anglican Covenant is not an instrument of control, yet we note that the fourth section seems to be just that to Anglicans in many parts of the Communion. So much so, that there are voices calling for stronger sanctions in that fourth section, as well as voices repudiating it as un-Anglican in nature. Unitary control does not characterize Anglicanism; rather, diversity in fellowship and communion does.
We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the Communion. We note that these seem to be limited to those which “have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion.” We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard? In our context bowing to anxiety by ignoring that sort of double-mindedness is usually termed a “failure of nerve.” Through many decades of wrestling with our own discomfort about recognizing the full humanity of persons who seem to differ from us, we continue to work at open and transparent communication as well as congruence between word and behavior. We openly admit our failure to achieve perfection!
The baptismal covenant prayed in this Church for more than 30 years calls us to respect the dignity of all other persons and charges us with ongoing labor toward a holy society of justice and peace. That fundamental understanding of Christian vocation underlies our hearing of the Spirit in this context and around these issues of human sexuality. That same understanding of Christian vocation encourages us to hold our convictions with sufficient humility that we can affirm the image of God in the person who disagrees with us. We believe that the Body of Christ is only found when such diversity is welcomed with abundant and radical hospitality.
As a Church of many nations, languages, and peoples, we will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God’s mission for a healed creation and holy community. We look forward to the ongoing growth in partnership possible in the Listening Process, Continuing Indaba, Bible in the Life of the Church, Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, and the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion – efforts in mission and ministry that inform and transform individuals and communities toward the vision of the Gospel – a healed world, loving God and neighbor, in the love and friendship shown us in God Incarnate.
May God’s peace dwell in your hearts,
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 10:53pm BST
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Arghh! Will someone respectfully tell Bishop Katharine that it was the (Anglican) Scottish Episcopal Church which consecrated Seabury and not the Church of Scotland (which is presbyterian).
It would be good if she knew the difference before pitching up at the Scottish Episcopal Church synod in Edinburgh in a couple of weeks.
Apart from that, full marks.
Thank you, Bishop Schori. Thank you, thank you.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come”
This is the thing that so many--both within and without the Anglican Communion--do not want to hear...and not only on the subject of same-sex relationships. They are closed to the idea that the Spirit still speaks to the Church and those within it today, that there are still truths the Spirit is imparting to us as we come to be able to bear them.
Good point Kelvin but it works the other way too -how many times have I seen writers/press in the United Kingdom either refer to our Episcopal Church as "the Episcopalian Church" or 'The Episcopal Church of the United States' - there is no Church of the United States - we have separation of church and state based upon our constitution and an 'Episcopalian' is a person who attends an Episcopal Church.
The Church of Scotland is the established Kirk and it had nothing to do with non-juring Scottish Episcopalians. Seabury was an ardent Tory, and would have served as a Chaplain for the British Army. He was no founder of an American Church. Til the end of his days he is said to have referred to the church as the Church of England in America. He wanted to be ordained in the Church of England, and it was the oath of conformity that led the English to dissuade him. When the non-jurors consecrated him in Aberdeen, he sailed back to Canada in the first instance, unsure of where he stood. When after the revolution a fledgling church was inaugurated it was Seabury more than anyone else who sought to preserve catholic order and continuity with the C of E (on matters like the descent clause; role of bishops vis-a-vis laity in the new church). To describe Seabury as the great Independent American is to—as with so many things TEC now dreams up—simply re-write history. The morale in this story is that once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture, you move into a mindset that permits you to tinker with all past records. Now we have a Seabury who chopped down the English Cherry Tree and created The Anglican Communion, after he threw a sovereign over the River Tay.
"The uniformity imposed at the Synod of Whitby did similar violence to a developing, contextual Christianity in the British Isles. In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity. We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding."
- TEC Presiding Bishop -
Well said! Bishop Katharine. And how eirenically you have set forth the provenance and experience of the progress from PECUSA to TEC. Hat tip to Kelvin, who reminds us that TEC owes its first bishop to the hospitality and foresight of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and not the Pressies!
However, that having been acknowledged, I believe that Bishop Katherine has put forward a very deeply spiritual argument for the Inclusivity of TEC and other Anglican Churches which have heard the call of the Holy Spirit to acknowledge and empower the ordination of Women and Gays into the priesthood and episcopate of the Body of Christ in their respective jurisdictions of the Church.
The Spirit, indeed, did not cease God's calling people into ministry on the first Day of Pentecost. And it must be remembered that Jesus said that "When the Spirit comes, (He) will tell you all about me, and will tell you all the Truth - about sin." (what SIN is, and what it it not!).
It is in this understanding - of the ever-present guidance of the Holy Spirit upon the Church - that the ministry of TEC and other more liberal Provinces in the Communion has been expanded to include ALL PEOPLE. This is the Gospel of Christ - on the Day when we celebrate Corpus Christi.
'Come Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful with the Fire of God's Love, in Christ"
Christopher Seitz wrote: "The morale in this story is that once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture, you move into a mindset that permits you to tinker with all past records. Now we have a Seabury who chopped down the English Cherry Tree and created The Anglican Communion, after he threw a sovereign over the River Tay.
The moral of the story is that what never was (an Anglican Church),never shall be.
On that point our morale is simply wonderful, and our expectations glorious; those who inhabit the world of literalism of scripture, inhabit a dream state of their own creation and hopes and fears and biases.
God's "day" is not a human day, and God's truth is -- at best -- understood through a glass darkly.
Literalism is for those whose minds and hearts are closed to learning and revelation, for they reject any possibility of the Spirit speaking to them over the evolving history of Creation.
I am sad for these people, but I am not willing to cede the high ground to their distortions of what it means to be a Christian.
Dr Seitz is a noted scholar yet he inexplicably misreads Dr Jefferts Schori's letter.
The letter refers to the consecration of Seabury by Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen - Arthur Petrie Bishop of Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and John Skinner, Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen on behalf of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
And as I understand the letter it is what is in the heart of the consecrating Church and bishops that might at that bitter time echo "concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control" - not in the mind or heart of Seabury.
As Prof Seitz will know the colonial power had at this precise time devastated the Scottish Church giving their buildings, land and assets to the Presbyterians through the vicious Penal Laws.
The phrase "and so began the Anglican Communion" is lifted from the website of the Scottish Church.
I see no claims for Seabury in this letter - and wonder how Seitz can make these extraordinary and rather bitter (if I might say) comments. Is he referring to some other piece of work by this bishop without giving us the benefit of a citation?
Really I think Dr Seitz has here only brought upon himself the same condemnation of imagining whatever he likes is true and tinkering with the facts as he was calling down on TEC.
Shame on you!
I'm writing from Loyalist country. Christopher Seitz's conclusions about Seabury are a selective oversimplification of a time and situation that was anything but. The War of Independence has been referred to as the last English civil war. It divided families and communities. Benjamin Franklin's son William was a loyalist. Benedict Arnold (who notwithstanding his switcheroo), fought bravely first for the Patriot's and then for the British. Canadiens from Quebec comprised a unit in the Continental Army (2nd Continental Congress). Many Loyalists who opposed the patriot cause stayed behind in the new United States, despite a very difficult post-war reception,and became committed citizens of the new nation. (Inglis, rector of Trinity Church New York, left with the Loyalists and became the first C of E Bp.of Nova Scotia.) Seabury has to be understood within such a context. He is rightly claimed by TEC for the importance of his overall contribution to the Episcopal Church in the post revolutionary period. Also, great rejoinder by the PB, hope Tom Wright gets time to read it because it addresses his unfortunate aside very nicely.
As a Vatican II Catholic, we have only dreamed that a remarkable woman such as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would one day be our Bishop of Rome and lead the Church into a new awakening such as the Second Vatican Council envisioned. She is a true leader and her beautiful pastoral letter sets a truly good example of what it means to be a shepherd watching over her flock. The Holy Spirit never stops breathing fresh air and new ideas into the Church as it did with Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council was no accident and I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is at work in much the same way as our Anglican sisters and brothers teach us what it means to be a Church. Bishop Katharine's words contain a spirit of inclusive love which seem to be sadly absent in the recent "pastoral letter" from The Archbishop of Canterbury. We should all pray that the Holy Spirit brings us many more people such as Katharine to the ranks of leadership. I have stated so many times, Catholics of the Roman variety have so much to learn from Anglicans. You are lighting our path to the future. If a Vatican Council III is to happen, it will be because the Holy Spirit is actively at work making it a reality. Perhaps Anglicans will be a crucial part of that plan. I hope so. Come Holy Spirit and bring us light and the ability to love one another.
Christopher, re: "The morale in this story. . .": I presume you meant "moral" instead of "morale". But my principal point is directed to ". . . once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture. . .". Had you qualified this part of your statement with a parenthetical, "in my opinion" or "as I read scripture" then your claim would be grounded where it rightly resides--in your own definition of what is the "literal/plain sense of scripture", to which you and everyone else is entitled. To do otherwise is to say, in effect, "I know what scripture means and others don't." Such unfounded hubris and certainty is exactly (in my opinion) the "singular understanding" about which Presiding Bishop Katherine has written.
Kelvin - your statement about the Scottish Episcopal Church misses the point and is bombastically semantic.
Christopher - No where in the letter did the Presiding Bishop say anything about Seabury founding an "American Church," nor did she "describe Seabury as the great Independent American." She simply said, "Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Church of Scotland to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion."
At most, you can say that she was being imprecise by calling the Scottish Episcopal Church the Church of Scotland, but to claim that the Presiding Bishop is "re-writing history" or somehow try to tie a variance of opinion on the "plain sense of scripture" (as if that existed) to the tinkering of past records is childishly tendentious.
Oh fah! One small slip - that others have made on this list - about the confusing nomenclature of churches in Scotland.
Otherwise, a slam dunk.
"The morale in this story is that once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture, you move into a mindset that permits you to tinker with all past records."
What a bizarre reading.
Perhaps the *moral* is that once you start worshipping ink and paper you forget living people, or God, or a world, or how to think, or how to be unafraid of the unknown.
Long way around to your elbow for a non-starter, there.
Speaking of rewriting history, Christopher, I see that you are in your element doing exactly that.
Whatever political outcome Samuel Seabury may have preferred during the unpleasantness of 1775-81, he accepted that he was no longer a British subject and freely accepted the citizenship of the United States. As a churchman, he sought the necessary things for an ecclesiastical institution in the tradition of BUT SEPARATE FROM the Church of England.
While he would certainly have preferred that the 13 Colonies continue united to the Crown, that ship had long sailed. The Seabury of your depiction was a fantasist completely divorced from reality, rather like the 21st Century Jacobite who really believes in his heart of hearts that the rightful king is the Wittelsbach duke resident in Munich.
Geez, christopher seitz: that's a whole lot of nothing to hang on a simple typo!
It would be a shame if nomenclature debates took away from the import of what +Katherine is saying.
...in reply to William Benefield, it seems not unreasonable in Scotland, at least, to refer to 'The [US based] Episcopal Church'. After all, locally here, to refer in conversation to the Episcopal Church means the Scottish Episcopal Church.
The hijacking of the word 'The' was as colonialist an act as they come when there are other Episcopal Churches in the Anglican Communion.
'human kind can not stand very much reality'
Yes there is a mistake that misdirects the traffic.
Read simply, this is one missile directed at the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is targeted and it hits the target. Surely she has a clearer understanding of Anglicanism than he, given the totality of its history, its variety, its innovations in some places and resistances in others, and his complete innovation of trying to impose centralised direction of what is and what is not legitimate.
Christopher Seitz makes one intellectual leap there - indeed it is nothing more than a cheap point - from some comments the Presiding Bishop made to a nonsense he's called the plain meaning of scripture. What plain meaning?
Still, such a mistake that Katharine Jefferts Schori did make adds to the potential for satire:
How strange there is so much about the identity of the church in America, rather than the issue that is causing such world wide distress. I did find the reference to 'colonial' telling. Having worked alongside American christians (evangelicals) in Europe I am dismayed at how much their brand of christianity is culturally bounded and transmitted as the christian norm. (The American dream) I suspect that the Presiding Bishop and the prevailing theological teaching is in the same mind-set. I am reminded of a teenager kicking their heels at a parent/grand-parent because they insist they know best- alas I am sure the spat will continue.
As a non-anglican I am tempted to say let the this grouping go its own way and treat it the same way as all those other splits in the American anglican tradition (there are many) and waste no more energy on a cause that cannot be arbitrated. Conversation that creates so much heat will never come to an agreed position. Roll out Gamaliel.
Thank you, Martin Reynolds, for setting straight Seitz's misreading.
Following up on your tip , the link is here
"The oath of royal supremacy proved too difficult a problem, however, and he came to Scotland and was consecrated in Aberdeen on 14 November 14 1784, the first Anglican bishop to serve outside the British Isles. It was the beginning of the world-wide Anglican Communion of Churches. [also there is a portrait shown of Seabury with the caption "First bishop of the Anglican Communion"]"
How ironic and sad that Rowan Williams wants to return to days when the church persecuted its own. Penal Laws redux?
Except, Mr. Russell, we are still not telling the other provinces they have to do it our way, but they *are* telling us we have to do it their way.
One could say your reference to "parent/grand-parent" is telling: what makes you think that anyone, simply because they are European and not from the U. S. knows better for us than we do? We are not better than you, but we *are* equal, and the nasty little shot at "America" - which encompasses more than the U. S., btw - as a "teenager kicking their heels" says more about a kneejerk reaction on your part to our national origin than anything else. Do you think that your "brand" of Christianity is any *less* tied to your culture?
I really am getting a bit tired of this undeserved sense of superiority from so many anti-American voices. You don't like Bush, take it up with him. We don't either, particularly.
Dr. Seitz says: "The morale (sic) in this story is that once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture, you move into a mindset that permits you to tinker with all past records."
This coming from a founder of the group that has worked to re-write the polity of the Episcopal Church and the nature of the Anglican Communion and the history behind them in order to forward their own theological ends? The ACI is all but built on an exaggerated reading of one line in the Preamble of Constitution of the Episcopal Church and turned it into an imagined past and a centralized polity for a non-existent international church out of which they wish to expel the Episcopal Church.
Brava, +Katharine! You are my hero!
I very much doubt that there will be any rioting in Scotland over this letter.
However, I'm sure they're breaking dishes and throwing furniture at Lambeth Palace.
I am not a member of "Titus" and don't wish to be, so I won't comment there. A cursory reading, however, makes one feel that (some) people who post there are disrespectful, sexist, and illiterate-at least as they choose to be. An early poster complains that there isn't a word of scripture in the letter. Not only does the PB quote Acts and John, she gives the references. It's easy to see mysogyny and homophobia in those circles, but they can't seem to get past it. The PB is always "Ms. Schori", which is not only calling her some kind of new age feminist fanatic, but clearly avoids any reference to the fact that she is a priest, let alone a bishop. That group often use even worse nicknames for her (e.g. "Squiddy", referring to her scientific work.) I'm sure there are unprintable ones, mostly based on her gender. Whether or not they agree with her, most of these responses are clearly personal (e.g. "she doesn't care about people") and not about what she says. They would not be expressing the same derision or using the same tactics if the PB was male. Mr. Seitz's use of the words "the literal/plain sense of scripture" is typical of his ilk, since it is only literal and plain when they agree with it or it suppports their views. It is a meaningless phrase. Otherwise there wouldn't be a dozen churches in every town in America (or Canada).
We are indeed very privileged to have one third of an entire institute participate in our discussion!
Kudos to ++KJS. The recent comments by the ++ABC, Bishop Andrus and ++KJS reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies: " I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it.
We're a knowledgeable family. (A Lion in Winter).
Is all this banter overkill?
History writing (and its motivations) is a fascinating topic and here is a good example in Bishop Seabury. The fact that the SEC does its own version of history-writing on its 21st century web account only underscores the point. Seabury is a figure who languished in historical obscurity (in Scotland and in the United States), probably because he was such a Tory and did not serve well as an image of Founding Father. Also, much controversy surrounded him, as he insisted on a loyalist version of Episcopalianism unsuited to the Independence theme Americans warm to, and had his struggles with White and other episcopal colleagues over his version of anglicanism. But then in the early twentieth century Aberdeen, without a Cathedral, sought to imbue the English Tory with Scottish Episcopal bona fides. Why? To raise money in America for a nice tribute in the form of a Cathedral. Dowsnplayed was the problematic that Seabury came to Scotland only out of expediency, and encouraged by English Loyalists worried for what the oath of supremacy might mean for his episcopacy. The next bishops to be consecrated for the New World were of course not headed back to Aberdeen for that, but London. As for the the fund raising campaign. The New World liked the idea well enough and things like Seabury publishers and societies emerged to help with the cause. Until the crash on Wall Street. No Cathedral was built. Seabury was returning to his obscurity. But look: again he is being brought out for display. TEC is creating a new mythos: The Anglican Communion begins with us. Not Britain. We are Americans, freeing ourselves from the shackles of the past, moving on. Fine. But few people could serve as worse representatives of that account of time and church than Samuel Seabury, Bishop of the Church of England in America. The question all this begs, therefore, is the myth emerging again with force because TEC is creating its New World church, shaking off the shackles of oppression? It is hard to say from this letter alone, but Bishop Andrus also sounds these notes.
The Rev. Mr Russell wrote, "Roll out Gamaliel."
As a non-Anglican, you may not be aware, but many of us in the Episcopal Church said long ago to other churches in the Communion, "Roll out Gamaliel. Do not feel the need to imitate or be bound by us, but stay in communion with us as we live this out and discern (further, for we started discerning before we made any changes) whether God is in this." I went so far on this site of suggesting that the Episcopal Church could be the "Research and Development" locus for the Communion. We would take the risk, and others could observe and learn with and from us.
Sadly, many leaders in other parts of the Communion have been unwilling (we know and tend to assert little or nothing about people in the pews in those national and provincial churches). For reasons I have suggested elsewhere, they have a worldview where personhood is defined more by the community than by the individual, and they cannot - literally can not - see our actions as not affecting them. They will not, and frankly cannot imagine "rolling out Gamaliel," as willing as we are for them to try.
Where is the "kicking at the parents/grandparents?" I would only note that it is among national/provincial churches that were "children" of the Empire that these reactions have arisen. Those national/provincial churches with their roots in the Episcopal Church have said they can continue in communion, even when they publically disagree with us on these issues (as in the Churches in Central America). Perhaps they *are* more willing to trust that the Spirit will lead, and that time will tell, than the more vocal.
Keep trying to distract and confuse over historical nonsense if it makes you happy, Dr. Seitz.
But the truth is that +KJS has proven herself--and by extension, TEC--to be far more "Anglican" than +Cantuar or that rump group you lead.
Must be mighty painful to be so thoroughly schooled by a woman. In fact, it appears to have robbed you of anything useful to say--which we all know is why you are writing dissertation-length posts on a minor error.
My grandmother always says "When you are in a hole, stop digging." She's a wise woman--you ought to take her advice.
Goodness, Professor Seitz: such resort to 20th Century history to challenge 20th Century history. However, the questions should relate to 18th Century and 19th Century actions. Notwithstanding his personal animus to Bishop Provoost, did Bishop Seabury not take his part in the formation and leadership of the Episcopal Church from the beginning? Did not his leadership result in the Eucharistic Prayer from the Scottish Episcopal Church becoming the prayer in the Episcopal Church's first Prayer Book? Did he absent himself from the Consecration of Bishop Clagget, or from the first meetings of the General Convention? These are hardly the actions of an unhappy recalcitrant.
And, by the way, do you imagine that Parliament would have made provision for the Church of England to ordain bishops for other national churches if it had *not* been for Seabury?
So, perhaps the Communion started with the Scottish Episcopal Church, in that they were the first separate national/provincial church. At the same time, they were indeed persecuted and hardly recognized by the Church of England, as others have noted. So, it as not until the Scottish Episcopal Church recognized the Episcopal Church in the United States that there was a Communion as the Anglican Communion has been: a fellowship of national/provincial churches with roots in the Church of England. Sadly, the Church of England was well prepared to deny those roots, both in their connections and their differences, until the ordination of Samuel Seabury for the Episcopal Church in the new United States. However deep the roots might have been, one can hardly claim that the Communion was "founded" by the Church of England when historically their acceptance of the possibility of such communion came at best third.
It it comes to who started the Anglican Communion, it can't really be England, at least as far as America is concerned. The Act of Parliament that permitted Canterbury with other English bishops first to lay hands on Americans to make American bishops stated explicitly:
"[B]e it hereby declared, that no person or persons consecrated to the office of a bishop in the manner aforesaid, nor any person or persons deriving their consecration from or under any bishop so consecrated, nor any person or persons admitted to the order of deacon or priest by any bishop or bishops so consecrated, or by the successor or successors of any bishop or bishops so consecrated, shall be thereby enabled to exercise his or their respective office or offices within his Majesty's dominions."
England was not really interested in an "Anglican Communion" -- at least as a "fellowship of independent churches" (they didn't recognize the non-juring Scots, for example) -- but in a "Colonial Church" with branches only reluctantly granted their own episcopate. Perhaps history is backtracking?
Marshall--'unhappy recalcitrant' is your language. Loyalist anglican is mine. The PB used the language of 'self determination vs colonial control.' This is mythical. Seabury did not stand against 'colonial control' and he wanted dependence and continuity. That is how he has been remembered. Even the epiclesis was the effort of Scottish episcopalians to link themselves to antiquity, via the Mass of St John Chrysostom. Seabury was be the perfect example of Communion accountability and interdependence, and not autonomy. The record:
Conformed to the Church of England 1730, recommended by Timothy Cutler (one of the Yale Converts) and ordained 1730 in London by the Bishop of Llandaff. He served at New London 1732-43 and then at Hempstead, Long Island, NY 1743-64. Samuel, Jr. (1729-96) born at Groton, Yale 48, Kings, NY, 1751, studied medicine at Aberdeen 1752-53, ordained London December, 1753. SPG missionary New Brunswick, NJ, 1754-57, Jamaica, LI, NY 57-66, Westchester County, NY, 1766-77 where he wrote Loyalist pamphets, hospital chaplain NY 1777, chaplain King’s American Regiment, NY 1778-83. He arrived in Halifax May, 1785, visited daughter and half-brother in Nova Scotia, and held first ordination in Connecticut August 3, 1785.
PS--This tidbit from Todd Granger: According to Arthur Middleton (in Fathers and Anglicans), it was Martin Routh, “one of the most interesting and remarkable figures that has ever appeared in Oxford” who at the age of twenty-eight advised “the envoys of the Anglican Church in America” (presumably Samuel Seabury) not to accept episcopal consecration from Danish bishops (because of their irregularity as an invalid succession), saving them from “taking a step which would have been fatal to the catholicity of their church” by directing them to the Scottish Episcopal Church for the creation of an American episcopate.
Seabury wanted to be a Bishop for the Church of England in America. He had studied medicine at Aberdeen, and here we see that he even considered Danish ordination but was advised against it. CT had no interest in an Independent Church for America, but wanted episcopal orders so that the Church of England could continue its life under adverse circumstances -- a War of Independence. Seabury even served in the Kings Army. Let's just keep Seabury from becoming a Boston Tea Party man and founder of a anti-colonial church. best regards.
This note just forwarded to me:
"In 1789, the GC passed a resolution proposing that Seabury (now recognized by the GC), White and Provoost consecrate a fourth bishop (Bass from Mass.) subject to the non-objection of Canterbury. The ABC was notified and objected (not public) so in fact the fourth bishop (Madison of Virginia) was later consecrated in London by the ABC." Hard to see the founding of the Episcopal Church as a declaration of independence. One also recalls the preface to the first BCP in the US, 'far from intending in any way to depart...'
I recommend folks read Bp Skinner's sermon preached at Bp. Seabury's consecration. It is the spirit of the Scottish Episcopal Church that was bequeathed us more than just a bishop.
I am somewhat surprised at the assertion that somehow history is a singular reading. As the historian and liturgist Robert Taft, SJ reminds us, history-writing is more about us and what the past says to us than simply facts in the past. That is interpretation is involved. Assertions of a literal and plain reading often ignore or conceal how these readings too are being employed in interpretation to understand and create our present.
Of course interpretation is involved, as well as falsification, over-interpretation, under-interpretation. But no historian works on the idea that Ghandi, Moses, and Lincoln are contemporaries, because we live in a time when the past consists of 50 years. The fate of Seabury ebbed and flowed. But there was a Seabury and one can speak of a record about him and indicate which historical accounts are better than others. Actually, with the scanner and the internet that is now easier than ever: the primary sources can be located easily, including the correspondence between the American Bishops of the churches in CT, VA, PA, etc and their 'venerable Bishops' as they called them in the C of E regarding church order. Interpretation does not void historical occurrance but seeks to understand it, in this instance, a complex welter of convictions not reduceable to the form necessary for myth making.
This is like the voice of sanity and grace. While others urge a "cutting off", this group of Christians recognises our unity is in Christ, and has the grace to recognise the image of God in those they disagree with. There is no "cutting off" off advocated - only shared faith in diversity.
Another interesting point she made:
"We look forward to the ongoing growth in partnership possible... the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion..."
Here in UK, just because it might come to be said by some: "***We*** are no longer in full communion with TEC", does not actually have the authority it sounds like it has, because significant numbers of individuals will continue to affirm their full communion and indeed agreement with TEC. In fact, parishioners in almost every church. Same in other countries. They will continue to be fully in communion with TEC, whether others like it or not.
There is no one-size-fits-all. And authoritarianism won't stop the move of the Spirit, and the networking of Anglicans around the world who recognise a profound justice issue here, and grace and courage and decency and solidarity.
A few leaders may come to say "You breach the Covenant, you are no longer in communion..." but such words won't stop a movement which worldwide says, "Yes we are still in communion".
The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a Pope. There is no agreement in the Church over these issues. We can get tribal, and ban each other, etc etc. Or we can make space for grace, and acknowledge integrity in diversity, and hand the limits of our human searchings over to God, and get on with love and service, in union and communion with the living Christ, and hence with one another, whether we like it or not.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no authority to tell TEC to abandon its striving for justice and wholeness and prospering in this issue. There is no consensus. As Anglicans, many of us find far more in common with TEC than with the marginalisation of gay and lesbian (and transgendered like myself) that contributes in some places to a climate of terrible hate and homophobia.
TEC is right, with continuing grace, to affirm the full ministries of women, of men, regardless of their orientation, and they have the courage to be honest in their solidarity and example. They are admirable.
One of the tricks of the Anglican Right is on full display in this set of exchanges. Our Presiding Bishop made a mistake in her essay that is easy to make and frequently made by educated people. It is easily corrected and surely is easy to forgive.
Starting from that, the list is descended upon by people who leap upon this mistake and have totally distracted us from her arguments, one of which is that our theology of the Spirit informs us that the third person of the Trinity is always with us, developing our understanding of God and God's purposes for us. Otherwise, we would still teach, for example -- as our predecessor Anglicans did in both England and the US -- that slavery is according to God's will.
She is also careful to point out that the Anglican Communion is a communion of independent churches. If it were not, the current effort to control the range of opinion in the Communion would not be proposing the centralization of authority.
Instead, we are bogged down in interpretations of Samuel Seabury's significance for the Episcopal Church. This response to the issues before us is a reminder to me that perfectionism like "foolish consistency" ... is "the hobgoblin of little minds."
Well this has been a lovely graduate seminar. Back to reality, now. Our PB has finally pushed back. Many of us have waited for this for many years. Our church is finally standing up to the bullies in England and elsewhere. While history debates can be a fun aside, perhaps we can pause for a second to celebrate this new spirit of courage in our church.
Christopher refers, just for example, to this passage from Skinner's sermon,
"Such is the interesting subject presented to our notice in the passage of scripture now before us: and that I may be able to do as much justice to it, as the limits of a short discourse will allow, I must endeavour to confine myself to that divine account of pure ecclesiastical authority, which is here so briefly narrated. According to this rule, I shall be obliged to consider the christian church in the same simple light, in which we at present view that part of it, whereof we are members, as a society entirely distinct by itself, without being incorporated into, or any way defended or supported by the state; but as it stood for the first three hundred years after Christ, unprotected, and therefore uncorrupted, by any legal establishment. Upon that spiritual and independent footing we shall behold it in its native purity, before it meddled with "the things of Cæsar," or [9/10] gave Cæsar a sort of right to meddle with "the things of God." Both these are equally dangerous deviations from the primitive plan of this holy society, and both have been too often adopted, to the manifest prejudice of its real interests."
C. Seitz is apparently willing to compromise his own postliberal bona fides in order to further his agenda--and this raises significant and disconcerting questions as to what his agenda really is.
Someone, like myself, whom he would no doubt (wrongly) judge incapable any longer of reading Scripture without reference to a general principle external to it, certainly should not have to remind him that Hans Frei was insistent that the meaning of a narrative is communicated in and through the narrative itself—that is, its character, setting, and plot—and decidedly not by appeal to the distinct—even if unique—consciousness of its central character. In fact, the plain and literal sense (and these are different in a way he does not signal) of the narrative often requires that one recognize a meaning that contradicts that consciousness in deference to the realistic reading of the narrative. At least one of Frei’s points was that an hermeneutic appeal to the consciousness of character is never adequate to a narrative meaning that shapes the identity of a community.
Oddly, his comments here repeat the approach of Schleiermacher--the great father of the Liberal and so-called "revisionist" theology he so despises. Are we supposed to assume that these facts of Seabury’s consciousness should control the meaning of the narrative as it is (canonically) received by the community of faith that is TEC? Well, that’s specifically not a plain and literal, but rather “revisionist” sense? At least it makes for a rather shortsighted strategy, no?
++Schori has only lifted out the sense in which the plain and literal sense of the narrative-history of TEC is *specifically* tied to the birth of a Communion, rather than a continuation of proxy churches of England. Importantly, this meaning in the narrative does not in the slightest contradict his point about the importance of building rather than destroying community. It does, however, profoundly indict his dogmatic assertions about what communion means.
What is more: this contradiction raises significant questions about the his role in the plot we now see playing out. What are we to make of so much apparent pleasure on display in Seitz camp at the thought of a breach in that communion?
A charitable response to ++Schori would at least extend her the dignity of granting her a different interpretation of the meaning of a common narrative. It would view that difference as one regarding the interpretation of a common narrative-history, rather than attempting to divide himself from her by way of a performative contradiction of his own commitment to the plain and literal sense.
One is left wondering whether the purpose of all his talk about unity is not (literally) to produce the very schism he seems to desperately to want to avoid. I plead with my Episcopalian brothers and sisters not to give my brother C. Seitz (whom I continue to recognize) what he wants.
While it is true that the founders of the American Church were anxious not to upset any apple carts with Canterbury, and were anxious about proceeding with consecrations against England's will (as in the case of Madison), this has nothing to do with dependency. Moreover, there was some significant interest expressed in the desire to merge the Scottish and English lines of succession, and this was soon accomplished in Claggett of Maryland.
Dr. Seitz very selectively quotes the 1789 Preface, on the matter of our shared history with England. In keeping with the actual "political" topic at hand, however, it would be better to cite the Preface on the question of "ecclesiastical independence" which was rendered "necessary" by the civil independence of the American states. And, as the first Constitution of 1785 stated as its first clause: "Whereas, in the course of Divine Providence, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is become independent of all foreign authority, civil and ecclesiastical:"
There is no suggestion that the American Church thought of itself as merely a "branch" of the English Church, but rather as an independent church sharing in an English heritage. Taken in conjunction with the Act of Parliament I cited above, it appears the feeling was mutual, and as long as the Americans remained within the pale doctrinally (as in the matter about the omission of the creeds) they were to be seen as an independent ecclesiastical entity.
Good Heavens no, JPM! It's only a quarter of an entire institute. Don't forget the lawyer!
Dr. Seitz: I greatly enjoyed reading Bruce Steiner's biography of Seabury, subtitled, 'A Study in the High Church Tradition.' I am not an historian so I have no way to assess the scholarly merit of the book; however, it does give a more nuanced reading of Seabury's significance than you do. Surely, the crucial point is that with the beginning of an American episcopate in the new republic it becomes possible for the first time for a national church to be Anglican without being subject to the Crown. If Steiner is right, this was an outcome that Seabury himself thought meet and right. (The Scottish Church is not an exception in spite of its disestablishment).
Kelvin: didn't the bishops who consecrated Seabury refer to themselves as 'the catholic remainder of the ancient Church of Scotland'? I seem to remember reading that somewhere.
I see that our PB has been allowed a do-over. Episcopal News Service has released a corrected version of her pastoral letter here:
Now, perhaps, we can move the conversation past the silly season to address matters of substance.
Early documents of The Episcopal Church being referred to above can be perused here,
Simply searching under the word archbishop produces good results.
In his polite letter to the ABC White writes in the style of day, "how far ye have been from imposing any restrictions interfering with the ecclesiastical independence which has arisen from ye Revolution in our country."
That is, in writing to you we do _not_ acknowledge you have any colonial power over us as you have exercised over the Scottish Episcopal Church.
>>>Good Heavens no, JPM! It's only a quarter of an entire institute. Don't forget the lawyer!
Considering their onetime financial relationship with Don Armstrong, they are very wise to keep a lawyer around.
As @jnwall this thread has been distracted.
Getting back to the PB's letter what I was struck by was her judo move with colonialism and the uniformity it imposes. RE: "a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity ... In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity. ... We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures. We note that the cultural contexts in which The Episcopal Church's decisions have generated the greatest objection and reaction are also often the same contexts where women are barred from full ordained leadership, including the Church of England."
Her concluding paragraph maps out a vision of an anti-colonial model of partnership, the only one compatible with true Anglicanism. It strongly echoes the Toronto Anglican Congress of 1963
Another document being grossly distorted by the right.
Bravo, ... a fine example up front ... of the going rightwing Anglican campaign strategies.
... all more or less to:
(A) exclusively claim some alleged muscular plain-reading aka guaranteed error and hermeneutics-free scriptural high ground, while (B) indulging in covert selections which suit a preferred invisible conservative hermeneutics, compounded by
(C) effectively sidestepping people or realities insofar as people/ideas do not suit a very self-regarding, heavy-handed global Conservative Realignment Campaign.
The alternative Anglican reply still holds, alas, despite contrary claims and efforts. Thanks to KJS for adding her clear and eloquent voice as PB to the growing chorus who find it their benighted fate to have to answer back to a palpably mean-spirited conservative-traditional Anglicanism.
1 - it is deeply unseemly and painfully awkward that those Africans and Asians who suffered prejudice-violence justified by white European Anglican colonial theologies-ethics should now so easily, so gleefully turn to an equivalent prejudice-violence in ethics and theology against queer folks plus any visible-audible allies. (Not to mention the odds out conservative white folks behind the Asian-African scenes who still seem to be doling out money and pats on the back in favor of exactly those prejudices, that implicit violence.) Dress all that up as some muscular and plain reading moral and theological high ground, as often as you wish; antigay prejudice-violence still does not pass the basic human smell tests, no matter what flat earth plain reading tradition is said to urge upon us. If we struggled to change our hearts and minds when we read Galileo and Copernicus and Bruno, we have to struggle now with finding that competent-thriving queer folks are included in our human families and our church families.
2-Canterbury is skating on very thin ice, insofar as CoE covertly practices a leeway and a tolerance towards its own churched and unchurched queer folks; while lamely and loudly mouthing holy war shrieks every time TEC does something equitable or generous, right out in the church and social-democratic public opens.
3-The going decisional framework for most modern global citizens and global Anglicans is NOT simplistically between a conservative and realigned Anglican church life which is nothing but haughty and condemning and punitive when it comes to queer folks and similar hot button sexuality and science issues, versus a polar opposite non-conservative option which always boils down to self-indulgent folly valorized by careless hermeneutics.
I understand that the 'Christopher Seitz' on this thread is the same Dr/Prof C. Seitz who is - as someone here has pointed out - one of the Trinity (Three Persons) in charge of the so-called 'Anglican Communion Institute'.
Can anyone tell me what official standing this peculiarly-named organ has to to with any of the 'Instruments of Communion'? If there is some official connection, and it is an approved 'Anglican' body in North America, what is it doing representing here, through Doctor Seitz's arguments, a sort of 'disloyal opposition' to TEC - which is at least still, at this point in time, part of the world-wide Anglican Communion?
I find it strange that a quasi-Episcopal Church organisation (small though it may be in the context of the rest of TEC) should be supporting the ABC's Letter - rather than that of its own official Presiding Bishop! There is such a thing as Institutional Loyalty - Apparently, though, not this particular 'Institute'.
And the name of the Scottish Church that consecrated +Seabury was not the Scottish Episcopal Church, that name came later. I have seen two variants of the name at the time of +Seabury; the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church in Scotland. An easy blunder for a research assistant to make I think.
Other than to note that Samuel Seabury seems to have been named after a seminary, I'll leave his life and meaning to others. Although I've enjoyed the exegesis.
God bless Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori!! Her letter is oh-so-civilized -- we are Episcopalian, after all -- but she clearly tells the ABC exactly what she thinks of his not-so-pastoral Pentecost letter. And, as others have noted in a previous discussion on this wonderful forum, she simply asserts that the Episcopal Church in the USA is simply going where it believes the Spirit is leading it, and is not trying to impose what it's doing on others -- unlike some of its critics, if I may add.
I agree with those who feel that TEC, as the name for the Anglican-originated church in the United States of America, is showing smugness and parochialism. If, for whatever reasons that I don't know the full history of, PECUSA had to be discarded, how easy it would have been to change it to TECUSA -- The Episcopal Church of (or in) the United States of America.
Of course there was a Seabury, who had distinctive views and whose views can be followed through letters, but I think his views and a wider telling of TEC history are being too quickly conflated in some of the readings of PB Jefferts-Schori's letter here. Such readings suggest a plain reading not just of Seabury's own thinking and point-of-view but of a wider telling of TEC history, which are not necessarily the same thing. The problem starts in reading PB Jefferts-Schori's sentence as if Seabury is the actor in her sentence when the subject is The Scottish Episcopal Church:
"Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion."
How it is that this got so quickly moved to only dismissing legends of Seabury by those reading her letter is puzzling. She makes no further reference to him in her letter.
It seems symptomatic of those who so cavalierly seek to drive out people drawn to God that all they can come up with in response to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's pastoral letter is petulant nitpicking.
Rowan Williams does not speak for all of us in the Church of England; many of us are horrified by his willingness to give aid and comfort to people who routinely demonstrate their commitment to the Gospel of love by beating up gay people.
Even if he does erroneously believe that gay people are intrinsically psychologically disordered, surely he must see, at the very least, that desperately poor countries spending time and money hunting down gay people when it could be spent alleviating suffering is wholly alien to Christ's teaching.
Instead he devotes himself to studiously ignoring the consequences of his complicity whilst wondering why people have the temerity to question his right to rule...
'And the name of the Scottish Church that consecrated +Seabury was not the Scottish Episcopal Church, that name came later. I have seen two variants of the name at the time of +Seabury; the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church in Scotland. An easy blunder for a research assistant to make I think.'
"Absolutely fascinating"-- as the Late Humphrey Littleton might have said.
peterpi, we're not the Episcopal Church either in or of the United States of America. We are the Episcopal Church in and of The U.S.A., Puerto Rico, Europe,Virgin Islands, Haiti, Columbia, and other places I can't remember right now. So, we could be The Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., parts of Central America and the Caribbean, parts of Europe and Other Places - TECUSAPoCAanCPoEaOP. I kinda like it.
We're also trying to remember not to call 815 "National Church Headquarters". I call it "TEC International Headquarters or affectionately 815".
None of this having anything to do with the current thread so I will close now by once again affirming: +Our Katharine, you are my hero!!!!
peterpi, the legal entity is still the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, when the church encompassed the former CoE parishes of the newly independent 13 original US states. The emphasis of protestant was let slip away to allow a more catholic understanding of Anglicanism. The part about the USA was let slip away because today the church is much broader than just the USA. There are full membership dioceses and Episcopalians in many other countries; Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Taiwan, as well as parishes in a number of European countries which make up the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. So what they were left with was the Episcopal Church in their efforts to be less US-centric and more inclusive as to who they were as a regional church.
Perhaps it needs more work, because it obviously makes some folks unhappy still.
It is a pity that Rod Gillis's little posting about ++Katharine's comments re the Gulf oil disaster has been buried in all the historical/hysterical mumbo jumbo about who ordained Seabury and why.
IMO it deserves a thread all of its own.
"I agree with those who feel that TEC, as the name for the Anglican-originated church in the United States of America, is showing smugness and parochialism."
"If, for whatever reasons that I don't know the full history of, PECUSA had to be discarded, how easy it would have been to change it to TECUSA -- The Episcopal Church of (or in) the United States of America."
My understanding is that ECUSA (which for a time replaced PECUSA in use) was rejected (as would be TECUSA) because of a quite valid point, i.e., while the bulk of the dioceses of said Church are indeed located on the territory of the United States of America (and its various possessions, associated states, etc.), the same Church also has dioceses in the following non-U.S. countries and territories: Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the British Virgin Islands -- plus there are also the churches of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.
So the challenge remains, what non-geographic identifier could be added that avoids the perceived arrogance and/or parochialism of the "The"? Ironically, in seeking something other than "USA," in order to express the true national diversity of the [sic] Episcopal Church that is based in the USA, the chosen geography-free "The" can itself be read as being Americo-centric.
For what it's worth, my recollection is that The Episcopal Church was formally adopted as an alternative name in 1967, over 40 years ago. This is not a new change and those who seem to be treating this change as some kind of recent power-grab are historically mistaken.
In addition, if my memory is correct, at that time, in addition to the countries other have mentioned above, TEC also included what have become the independent provinces of Mexico, Central America, and the Phillipines.
Christopher, no one disputes that Seabury was a Tory, and nobody disputes that Seabury would have preferred a different outcome to the Revolution.
None of that justifies your little canard that he intended to create an American church body subject to the direction and control of the Church of England.
Perhaps we've had quite enough about the origins of the Episcopal Church in the USA. What really matters is the quality of its outreach to its own and other countries, where it is invited. The fact is, that TEC is alive and well under the leader-ship of its Presiding Bishop, the Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori (and right reverend she is too, in my view). TEC's mission is pretty far-reaching, having nurtured the saving grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in some places where she, and her Church, are now being vilified.
It is a pity that the Propagation of the Gospel, which Bishop Katharine is keen to continue (for instance, in her concern for the poor and outcast in other countries) does not receive a bit more affirmation from the likes of the ACI and other entities in the US, which seek to bring her and the Church of their Baptism into disrepute.
One is mindful of the Gospel ethic of Paul: "Whatsoever things are good... think on these things". So often the cause of the Gospel is Subverted by anxious souls who are so obsessed with their own idea of ritual purity - that they cease to think about the good of others in their own neighbourhood, who need to be nurtured and respected for who they are - the children of a Loving God, like all of us.
"Where charity and Love are: There is God".
I do not believe that Rowan Williams considers the glbt community to be "intrinsically psychologically disordered" as Joe (Benedict) Ratzinger believes. I have seen nothing in his speech so far to confirm such a belief. I do believe that Rowan Williams has acted cowardly and arrogant, appearing as a sort of Anglican Pope to some. His FAILURE to respect other national churches for their brave stands on the inclusive theology which has brought glbt persons to the table and has extended equal participation to glbt persons in the Anglican community of disciples of Jesus is a tragedy. Rowan may be "full of himself" at times when he should be standing with the disenfranchised and it probably would not surprise some if Rome "made him an offer that he could not refuse," but at the end of the day, he is edging close to retirement and his game plan may be to coast along until that time arrives. The problem with this "plan" if it in fact, is a "plan" is that it carries land mines of dangerous words that invoke violence against those glbt people he is attempting to marginalize. Perhaps Rowan has Vatican Fever and the only cure is a "red hat" that would be miraculously bestowed upon him by Joseph Ratzinger for his martyrdom. Maybe he will become a sort of Newman post modern. It is a shame that he seems to be turning the other cheek when it comes to cross border interventions by Fundamentalist Anglican archbishops and bishops but he just can't restrain himself from punishing those "radicals" who welcome glbt persons with open arms at the cost of "unity" for the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Tip of the hat to Edward Prebble for spotting and flagging my post with the link to the Presiding Bishops article on the oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. I agree that Thinking Anglicans might have given the PB's article its own heading on this one. This is a massive bad news story in North America. The Gulf Coast is beautiful. The oil spill is just awful. Just this evening CBC news is reporting that migratory birds from as far away as Newfoundland are in peril because of the spill. Here we have a statement by a leading international Anglican on one of the worst ecological disasters ever. Her statement is focused, prophetic, and informed. In case you can't find the link above go to
or go to
Peterpi, David da Silva Cornell: really, have you nothing better to do with your time than to nitpick like this over the name of a church? I find the pettiness of these complaints astounding. The 'smugness', 'parochialism' and 'arrogance' you decry seem to me to be in the eye of the beholder. Mr. da Silva Cornell writes, 'the chosen geography-free "The" can itself be read as being Americo-centric.' Well, yes, if you are looking for Americo-centrism, you can find it; you can read it into any text or title or word that emanates from the church's leaders or members. But why bother?
Unless you want to make it into a hobby or a parlor game. In which case, why not pick apart the name of "The Church of England"? Who do they think they are, claiming to be THE Church of England when there are Methodist, Unitarian, Baptist, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and other churches whose members are also citizens of the UK with full religious rights? Isn't that insufferably arrogant, parochial and smug? Why don't we ignore the history and have a big pout about it and use up endless amounts of time and verbiage advising the C of E on how to modify its nomenclature so as to avoid annoying or insulting anybody?
I can understand the rightful concerns about ECUSA; from the perspective of our non-U. S. churches, *that* is arrogant and parochial. However, I've never been happy about The Episcopal Church, which I always read in my head as THE Episcopal Church.
I understood, I thought, that it was a temporary measure in any case.
In the end, I have to agree with Mary Clara. Perhaps, we have all little our little sensibilities get too delicate to be allowed outdoors.
Now the Right has done it again in this conversation.
First, they attacked the PB's mistake about the name of the ecclesiastical organization consecrating Seabury. That distraction served for a while. When it gave out, they posed another distraction, this time about the implications of the name of the Episcopal Church. That distraction seems still to be working.
The point of these maneuvers is a) to divert conversation from the main points to minor, trivial ones and b) to undermine the voices of authority in the Episcopal Church by suggesting that if they do not get it right in small things they must not be right in large things.
Its all smoke and mirrors, folks. Surely we can do better.
Woooow -- Mary Clara, perhaps it is due only to the lack of visual cues and tone in written communication, but you appear to me to have quite misread my comment and my intentions.
Certainly, I don't lose sleep over the "The," and I'm not quite sure where my comments got elevated for you to the level of "complaint." One might well turn your own query back on you, and ask you whether you haven't anything "better to do with your time than to nitpick like this over" some random comments on a thread seeking to clarify and provide background on why this is -- whether you like it or not -- a matter of concern and debate for some folks.
That said, I will however affirm that words, and names, *matter*. I'm a gay man, thanks, not a "homosexual," and I'm "out" or "openly gay," not "practicing." African-Americans are not "Negroes" or "Colored"; those of East Asian descent are not "Orientals"; etc etc. "Catholic" does not refer exclusively to those who follow the Bishop of Rome. "Christian" does not exclude "Catholic" (as it does in the eyes of very many U.S. conservative evangelicals).
Words/names carry meaning, both denotative and connotative. Words, and names, do matter, my dear Mary Clara. They matter very much indeed.
As with "humor," usually, those least sensitive to the implications of names are those who have always been comfortably ensconced in a privileged and "in control" group, who get to define for everyone else what is humorous and what is "being overly sensitive," or what is a "correct" name and what is "making a big deal out of nothing." I.e., such claims often speak more to the privilege of the speaker than to the validity of their determination of what matters and what doesn't.
The Presiding Bishop has spoken with grace, dignity, strength, and authority. The Episcopal Church, after years of showing the patience of Job but appearing weak in the process, now has a leader who no longer allows our Church to be a punching bag.
Excellent letter...and long, long overdue.
Dr. Seitz suggests that history can be misrepresented. This is certainly so.
But Dr. Seitz has failed to prove that (apart from a bit of misnomenclature since corrected) the Presiding Bishop has done any misrepresenting.
Now, one might concede that she has oversimplified the significant of Bishop Seabury. That is scarcely a surprise given that her entire reference to the matter of Seabury's consecration and the creation of an American episcopate runs a mere single sentence of 34 words. It would be quite a feat to render a nuanced description of the matter in 34 words.
Dr. Seitz, by contrast, has made several posts on this thread - the shortest of which runs well over 34 words - producing a laughable fiction about a Bishop Seabury whose entire life after the American Revolution was focussed on a singular attempt to ensure that the Anglican Church in the United States would be subject and subordinate to the Church of England. He can't actually present any relevant facts to defend this novel thesis, mind, so he simply repeats his bald assertion ad nauseam while offering up a host of irrelevances as chaff and distraction.
Apparently the academic standards at Wycliffe aren't that rigorous.
"Now the Right has done it again in this conversation.
"First, they attacked the PB's mistake about the name of the ecclesiastical organization consecrating Seabury. That distraction served for a while. When it gave out, they posed another distraction, this time about the implications of the name of the Episcopal Church. That distraction seems still to be working."
For the record, jnwall, I'm about as far as you can get from a "Right" wing Anglican, and have zero interest in advancing their cause and lots of interest in opposing it.
There are solid grounds for progressive Episcopalians to consider "The" Episcopal Church to be an unsatisfactory, and indeed tad arrogant, name. It is, I would indeed argue, the only truly progressive perspective on the matter. "Right"? Heck no.
"Even if he does erroneously believe that gay people are intrinsically psychologically disordered" -- And so what if he did? The cross says that all of humanity is intrinsically psychologically disordered. The Son of God had to die to pierce the darkness of our hearts and understanding in order to bring us into relationship with the Father. It is only after his death that the Apostles who followed him around and heard his teachings for three years ever understood him -- such was the state of their disorder. Only the cross could break such a curse.
Schori's use of history is like her use of scripture, selective and twisted to make a point antithetical to Anglicanism as it has been and Christianity as it was handed down by the Apostles and understood by a vast majority of Anglicans [or Catholics or Orthodox or Pentecostals or Baptists or Christians -- choose any] around the world believe. What she describes as "listening to the Spirit" is listening to the spirit of the age. It is a voice trumpeted by a non-Christian, unbelieving, secular culture that has no Judeo-Christian understanding of God's self-revelation so they have no ability to tell a man sexually attracted to another man that it goes against God's created intent and blessing. It is the spirit of an unbridled and licentious culture listening to "the elemental spirits of the air," not the Holy Spirit. Just read 2nd Kings and how the Israelites over and over again bought into the worship of the Canaanite god's and all their sexual idolatries. Schori trumpets a return to paganism with a hubris that would be astonishing if it weren’t so classic.
"... it goes against God's created intent and blessing"
Is Rob+ aware that this created intent and blessing is a quite late invention? It is found in "The bond that breaks, Will homosexuality split the Church" by Presbyterian Don Williams, published in California of all places...
Rob+. I'm interested in your signature on the web. Are you a bishop of the Church? If so, I do find your remarks about the Presiding Bishop of TEC to be somewhat cavalier. Or is the cross a sign of your Christian fidelity? In which case, I still find your attitude towards Bishop Katharine to be somewhat grudging. And as for your comments about her use of scripture - do you have an insight into Holy Writ that she is not, as a Bishop, privy to?
Or is it simply that this Woman of God is female; marked by her Baptism as a bearer of the Image and Likeness of God, but, in your humble opinion, not allowed by God to carry out her episcopal vocation? I'd like to know!
"There are solid grounds for progressive Episcopalians to consider "The" Episcopal Church to be an unsatisfactory, and indeed tad arrogant, name. It is, I would indeed argue, the only truly progressive perspective on the matter."
'"Even if he does erroneously believe that gay people are intrinsically psychologically disordered" -- And so what if he did? The cross says that all of humanity is intrinsically psychologically disordered.'
I do not share that belief, but were I to accept your claim as a working hypothesis then the failure to make that matter clear becomes even more oppressive; if one is speaking of a common affliction universal to us all then how can one justly single out one group amongst the many?
But of course your claim that:
'Schori's use of history is like her use of scripture, selective and twisted'
reveals that you do not, in fact, believe your own earlier claim that we are all intrinsically psychologically disordered.
If you did then you would recognise that you must yourself be as selective and twisted in your use of scripture and history as you claim the Presiding Bishop to be.
And indeed, reading the remainder of your post, the word twisted certainly comes to mind; fortunately I am reading Richard A. Norris' paper:
Some Notes on the Current Debate Regarding Homosexuality and the Place of Homosexuals in the Church
which is functioning as a mental palate cleanser...
Rob's comments represent the sort of straw-person alarmism that characterizes so much fearmongering of the Right. No one is arguing for the abolition of Christian sexual ethics and its replacement with a Babylonian free-for-all. Those faithful gay and lesbian Christians who are lobbying to be included in the valid "matter" for matrimony are not "secular" or "unbelieving." Why would we do so if we did not believe in said sacrament? We simply want the same opportunity for sanctification that is afforded heterosexuals. Yet to Christians of Rob's ilk, any same-sex relationship, regardless of duration and exclusivity, is "unbridled and licentious" purely by virtue of the genitalia involved! Is this reductionism a recognizably Christian understanding of marriage?
Many of the arguments that have been advanced are firmly rooted in the Judæo-Christian tradition, despite Rob's contention that those who happen to disagree with his interpretation of that tradition "have no understanding" thereof. Perhaps Rob should read Fr Haller's "Reasonable & Holy," convincing counterarguments to which, despite the tortured efforts of lesser scholars such as Radner, remain conspicuously outstanding.
I have known gay and lesbian persons who do adhere to Pagan or Neopagan faith traditions - and with complete integrity - but by definition they are not to be found at TA or anywhere else in the Church.
Fr Ron - priests I know in the USA and elsewhere will often sign themselves with '+' after their Christian name - it simply means 'priest'. I've always thought it useful - not least as a reminder to the person who signs - as an indicator.
In the US, bishops put the cross in front of their name, priests afterwards. Just following the convention.
Well of course, Schori isn't alone. She has a lot of company from TEC, but I am addressing her as the spokesman who wrote this letter. When you lead apostacy, you necessarily get more credit for it.
New information? Romans, the catholic epistles, Jesus' words in Mark chapter 7, the plain reading of scripture, Lambeth resolution 1:10, the Windsor Report, Dromantine, etc., etc. Hardly new.
"I do not share that belief, but were I to accept your claim as a working hypothesis then the failure to make that matter clear becomes even more oppressive; [EXACTLY!] if one is speaking of a common affliction universal to us all then how can one justly single out one group amongst the many?" --
This is really a wonderful and honest question, even it includes a little misunderstanding. It IS oppressive to single out one group as not needing the cross as the liberals have done to gay people in their sexuality. With 'liberal' theology TEC precludes gay people from receiving the grace God freely bestows in the second biggest area of their disorderdness. It is the cross that brings transformation to our disordered affections and appetites. The first disorder is our independence from God. In all of us there are many other and resultant disorders. The sanctifying work of the Spirit deals with them one at a time until the day we are brought to glory. Everyone in my little congregation has access to forgiveness, healing, transformation and empowerment for every sinful area of their hearts in all their myriad and sundry forms (substance abuse, gossip, covetousness, selfishness, envy, greed, lust, pride, independance, etc., etc.) But if we were on the TEC bandwagon, the gay people wouldn't have access to this grace, at least not in this fundamental area of sexuality. They would be left out and left in their disordered state. That is why this heresy trumpeted by TEC is so cruel.
Geoff, I described the secular society as unbridled and licentious, not gay Christians. My truly offensive claim is that "the spirit" being listened to by TEC is the same that this unbridled and licentious society is listening to. I know there are many homosexual Christians that except for this one area try to live honest, godly lives. The nature of heresy is that it is a twist of the truth to be a lie, not a whole fabrication from a different cloth. That would be too easy to identify and avoid.
And I am sure when gay marriage gets enshrined in TEC, some of those same gay people will object when others want much broader and looser limits to sexual morality. But they will have nothing to point to, since scripture can be so easily revised to fit cultural norms. The enemy of our souls loves to use precedence to lead the faithful further from the truth.
I simply have the weight of scripture and the vast majority of the world's bishops as the authority to point to. The liberals have secular studies, TEC and sometimes well reasoned 'theology' papers based on heretical ideas and culturally based presuppositions.
But this is getting off topic. Schori has declared her colors. There is no turning back now. The question is, how many people will be seduced to follow?
Malcolm et al -- Gavin White has produced a very readable History of the Scottish Episcopal Church (where I was licensed for a decade, and whose churches I visited and worshipped at). You might have a read, especially if you want to be a 'Thinking Anglican.' He has a very nice section on Seabury.
"I simply have the weight of scripture and the vast majority of the world's bishops as the authority to point to."
It's a pity that legalistic fidelity to Scripture is being put before compassion for actual people. Our Lord came to deliver us by grace from the condemnation of the Law's strictures.
David da Silva Cornell (4 June 2010 at 5:03 pm BST), I’m sorry if I misread you, but I rather dislike your assumptions about my ‘privileged’ position.
Names do matter, but trying to change our nomenclature is an undertaking full of pitfalls and ambiguities. I noted above, for the sake of comparison, the illogical and arguably inappropriate name of ‘The Church of England’, but I don’t actually recommend messing around with it. The name carries a history and still in some way fulfills its original purpose (at least as far as I, an outsider, can tell – and it’s not my decision). Where ‘The Episcopal Church’ is concerned, the name is so hopelessly inadequate that if I were going to repair it I wouldn’t start by quibbling over the definite article. Forget about ‘The’ – what about ‘Episcopal’? Who in the world ever thought THAT was a suitable name for a church founded on the Gospel of Love? What it conveys is that we are the church whose defining characteristic is that it is governed by bishops, or believes in governance by bishops. The obvious problems that leap to mind here are that (1) we are far from being the only church whose governance involves bishops, so this doesn’t even accurately differentiate us; (2) the form of governance of a church is not something to revere in itself and makes a pitiful witness to the world of what we are really about; and (3) we are no longer so focused on the bishopric as we once were, now recognizing four orders of ministry who support each other. (For a wonderful account of how that fourfold ministry can be ritually affirmed and celebrated, see this recent entry at Mother Amelia’s blog: http://motheramelia.blogspot.com/2010/03/chrism-eucharist-and-countrymans-living.html .)
It would be great to brainstorm some alternatives to ‘Episcopal’ (whether ‘The Episcopal Church of Herethereandeverywhere’ or PECUSA or TEC). Maybe we could come up with a short and sweet name to replace ‘The Episcopal Church’ that would really convey the heart of who we are. I see us as something like The Welcoming Eucharistic Church of the Baptismal Covenant, but that is an awkward mouthful. And we don’t know how a name that fits us now will sound fifty or two hundred years hence. So there’s some virtue in preserving or updating the old names by which (for better or worse) we are recognized, imperfect though they are.
simply have the weight of scripture and the vast majority of the world's bishops as the authority to point to. The liberals have secular studies, TEC and sometimes well reasoned 'theology' papers based on heretical ideas and culturally based presuppositions.
But this is getting off topic. Schori has declared her colors. There is no turning back now. The question is, how many people will be seduced to follow?
Posted by: Rob+ on Saturday, 5 June 2010 at 7:49pm BST
What a thoroughly alarmist, uninformed , tendentious and somewhat sensationalist post. It's all much less troubling and more boring than you (would like to) think.
Don't let that weight crush you !
@Rob. It strikes me as a non-sequitor (re Mark 10, which is what I hazard you mean, and not Mark 7) to suggest that because Jesus recognises that men and women regularly leave their parents to become one flesh, he is therefore arguing that this is the only possible path for his followers. Forbidding divorce is not at all the same ans enjoining marriage. For a start, tradition suggests Jesus himself was unmarried. IF then heterosexual marriage is NOT a necessary condition of salvation, Jesus is plainly NOT condemning other states. Nobody is suggesting that the state of affairs where heterosexual couples marry should in any way be changed. It is plainly true that heterosexual coupling is a bed-rock of creation. This is not to say that other forms of coupling do not exist, and that they are not equally made by God and blessed by him. What is suggested is that on occasion men should leave their parents and become one flesh with other men, and likewise women with other women. Jesus is not addressing this issue at all, but a quite other one, that (essentially) of the abandonment of a marriage partner to the misery of divorce.
"But if we were on the TEC bandwagon, the gay people wouldn't have access to this grace, at least not in this fundamental area of sexuality. They would be left out and left in their disordered state. That is why this heresy trumpeted by TEC is so cruel."
Oh, I get it! You want to keep gay people from the ordained ministry, from having our unions recognized, and (I would bet dollars to donuts) from enjoying equal civil rights with straight people, *all for our own good*! This is hurting you more than it hurts us, too, I'll bet. It's all so very touching. :-\
Rosemary, you are correct in that Jesus' main point of Mark 10 is about the sin of divorce. God intends marriage between a man and a woman to be life long. (And there is no other marriage, or couplings as you say, blessed by God in the scriptures than between a man and a woman.) But that was not my point. If you would go back to Mark 7 you would see Jesus addresses two issues: the first is honoring the teachings of men above the word of God (much like TEC's "listening to the spirit" of the age in injury to the word of God and coming up with their 'new' idea for marriage) and the second is what arises from the heart that makes a person 'unclean,' precisely the disordered and diseased affections (sinful desires) that all of us are born to (like among other things a gay orientation) and for which Jesus died for our salvation. Jesus also specifically addresses fornication and sexual immorality (which precisely includes "other forms of couplings") that you say are blessed by God but which scripture (in this case Jesus) specifically denies. Jesus says such desires make one 'unclean,' for which in love he died, shedding his blood upon the cross for the forgiveness (not enouragement) of the same.
Alarmist? Well, certainly not in any original way. Uninformed? I am neither ignorant of revisionist arguments, Christian homosexual testimonies, nor the word of God as it pertains to these matters. Many of you may say the same. In addition, I have seen many receive healing, deliverance and transformation in their sexual identities. The Holy Spirit is passionate about reordering our disordered hearts. He calls it sanctification. Tendentious? Perhaps, even gratefully so in regards to these matters. Sensationalist? Well, only in an effort to get others to hear. So if I am, it is a well intentioned sensationalism. Blessings to all, especially those of you who may feel attacked by what I have written. You are no more disordered in your affections than me, or any other person you come across. Jesus has particular compassion for each of us whatever our condition.
I just re-read all of Mark 7 and I find nothing a propos to this discussion, unless you consider the single reference to "fornication" in the final verse to apply to a monogamous relationship. I don't.
You refer to the "weight of scripture and the vast majority of the world's bishops"--as to the first, I say, and you are absolutely certain that your interpretation of scripture is inalterably correct? As to the second, since when is rightness--outside of democratic elections--defined by the number of people who adhere to a position. Might I point out that only about a third of the world's population is Christian?
Your personal definition of fornication and how you have decided to define it is novel. But that is not the meaning of the word recorded in scripture. The Greek is porneiai, "meaning fornication, sexual immorality." But I don't really want to get into "bible bullets." The whole canon of scripture reflects this basic traditionalist view.
I have never made a case for "my interpretation" as if it were novel. Rather I am assured that the councils of the Church of God have always taught the wholesome example of sexual realtions within the context of marriage between a man and woman and nowhere else. What other religions or belief systems teach is for them and their purposes. The burden is upon those that want to change the teachings of the Church to give proof of their new interpretations. That my understanding also happens to easily agree with the plain meaning of scripture does give a sort of easy peace though. Not sure what your last question is really getting at. To be a Christian means we believe in God's self-revelation as contained in the word of God. What non-Christians believe is a separate subject. Though since you bring it up the vast majority of the world's peoples do agree that homosexuality is immoral. Paul says that God has written his law in the hearts of all mankind, so I suppose that is again supporting evidence of the reliability of the traditionalist view of human sexuality. But again it isn't like gay people or more disordered than anyone else. We all are, that is why Christ died for us.
To be fair though, none of what I write really makes that much sense unless you have asked Jesus to forgive your sins, accepted him as your savior, trusted him with your life and decided to obey him as your Lord. Because that is when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and makes sense of things that can seem legalistic or kill-joys. I believe it was St. Augustine that said understanding follows belief. Peace.
How can you be so absolutely certain that what TEC hears is the "spirit of the age" and not the Spirit? Have you had a private revelation?
The absence of "other forms of couplings" from the scripture is surely a result of cultural circumstances and nothing more. Would you have all our cultural circumstances conform to first century Palestine and before? Shall we go back to keeping slaves? A purely patriarchal society (though I suspect you'd rather like that)? Women and children as the chattel of their husbands and fathers?
Ending slavery and segregation (2 things sanctioned by Scripture as I was repeatedly told by my fundamentalist neighbors who constantly retold the story of Ham to me) was definitely listening to the spirit of the age.
Since when did the Holy Spirit become the Spirit of the Bronze Age that speaks so clearly on so many issues from the Scripture? Are we still careful not to wear clothes made of more than one fiber? Are we sure that no one is yoking an ox and an ass together these days? You'd better check!
So, all those heterosexual couples in monogamous relationships around the world who have never been married as recognized by Judeo-Christian tradition are "fornicating"? Millions of Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, whatever? You are aware there are cultures on this planet where "marriage" is defined simply as co-habiting?
In your second paragraph, are you suggesting that we, as Christians, have nothing to learn from others? That the Spirit spoke to us, through the scriptures centuries ago, and never again, and never to anyone else? As I've said before, you have a very constricted view of the Spirit.
'It is the cross that brings transformation to our disordered affections and appetites.'
You seem to regard the cross as death; I don't.
Christ's life matters just as much as his death, and his commandment that we should love our companions as we do ourselves cannot be disposed of by the charnel house you drag with you into every statement you make.
After all, there is singularly little point in telling us to love each other if we are all 'intrinsically psychologically disordered' as you claim; none of us would be capable of doing so.
As for your claim to be relying on scripture I note that, as Richard A. Norris pointed out, there is very little, if at all, support in the Scriptures for that proposition.
It's possible, of course, that you devote the Sabbath day to hunting down people collecting sticks so that they can be stoned to death outside your church, in which case I would commend you for your faithfulness to scripture whilst calling the police, but I very much doubt it.
Meanwhile Rowan Williams, scourge of gay priests and women bishops, has decided that divorced men can become bishops...
"David da Silva Cornell (4 June 2010 at 5:03 pm BST), I’m sorry if I misread you, but I rather dislike your assumptions about my ‘privileged’ position."
Mary Clara (5 June 2010 at 9:59pm BST), I assumed nothing. I made an observation, based upon my own empirical experience and that of others, as to the most usual position from which folks tend to hand down dismissive pronouncements as to whether someone else's issue is merely their being overly sensitive, or is but "nitpicking" or "astounding" "pettiness" (yes, I do believe that was your wording).
If that observation does not describe you, and so the position from which you handed down your dismissive pronouncements was in fact a wholly *different* position than that of someone used to privilege (whether white privilege, economic privilege, U.S. American privilege), well then, simply disregard the observation as irrelevant and inapplicable to you.
As for your appeal to the name "Church of England," your points are well-taken, but "The Episcopal Church" is not of such hoary and ancient provenance as the name of the C of E. It's rather more open to revision then, imo.
But again, while I find the name of "TEC" problematic, and look forward to the organic emergence of a more appropriate, less presumptuous name, I'm certainly not losing any sleep over it.
And so, back now to the main attraction in this thread, as to which I'll just add an extra Alleluia that the PB has spoken out so clearly and solidly -- at last! -- to ++Rowan's curious curia envy and centralizing drive. (Plus a footnote to follow in a separate post...)
Continuing...I'll add as well the footnote that I disagree not only with C. Seitz's rather odd and grasping reading of the sentence that including a single passing mention of Seabury -- importing into that sentence all sorts of tangential meanings that the PB surely did not intend -- but also with the analysis by Christopher at Thursday, 3 June 2010 at 10:05pm BST: "The problem starts in reading PB Jefferts-Schori's sentence as if Seabury is the actor in her sentence when the subject is The Scottish Episcopal Church..."
To remind everyone, the sentence in question is:
"Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion."
I agree with Christopher that the actor in the sentence is not Seabury, but I disagree that the actor is in fact the Scottish Episcopal Church, even though it may seem that way because the SEC is grammatically the subject of the clause in which Seabury is the object.
And the true actor cannot have been "The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States," because the Episcopal Church as such did not even form until 1789, and Seabury was consecrated as bishop in 1784. Here too, as with referring to "the Church of Scotland," the PB's editors for historical accuracy might want to be a bit more on their toes.
No, the *true* actor in the PB's sentence is off-stage; the true actor is the assembly of 10 priests of Connecticut who elected Seabury as their bishop -- mind you, only as their second choice. (See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Seabury_%281729%E2%80%931796%29#The_episcopacy: "On March 25, 1783, a meeting of ten Episcopal clergy in Woodbury, Connecticut, elected Seabury bishop as their second choice (a favorite son was elected first, but declined for health reasons).")
So all of the attention on Seabury above in this thread is wholly misplaced. The PB's sentence correctly focuses on a post-colonial church (although not actually the yet-to-emerge TEC, but rather the nascent Diocese of Connecticut), stranded in a now-independent nation, and *its* actions -- not Seabury's per se -- in electing its own bishop and sending him off to Britain to obtain consecration into the Apostolic Succession. Seabury-qua-Seabury is rather incidental to the point the PB is making.
The sentence seems fairly clear on all that, and if one is going to pontificate about the plain and literal meaning of Scripture, one might want to begin with applying "plain and literal" readings to simple English-language sentences such as those of the PB's letter, rather than reading into them tortured/tortuous tangents toward the Tory Seabury.
In other words, one should remember Occam's razor, and avoid imposing lots of pretty Ptolemaic epicycles onto otherwise rather simple sentences.
I wonder if Professor Seitz could enlighten us on the 'literal/plain sense' of the Ascension narratives, and, if not (the answer I expect), why not.
Indeed, Mark 7, while splendid teaching, wholly begs the question of what is, and is not evil in the case of same sex partners. And yes - this becomes a debate about how the Holy Spirit is speaking to the Church today - and if she has new things to say. I believe she does, for reasons so well outlined by Pat above.
I wonder if Professor Seitz could enlighten us on the 'literal/plain sense' of the Ascension narratives, and, if not (the answer I expect), why not.
Posted by: john on Sunday, 6 June 2010 at 5:07pm BST
Oh yes, there goes OBL sailing up past the windows and into the stratosphere !
Reading this reply over Pat's shoulder, I am appalled at such condescension.
'To be fair though, none of what I write really makes that much sense unless you have asked Jesus to forgive your sins, accepted him as your savior, trusted him with your life and decided to obey him as your Lord. Because that is when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart and makes sense of things that can seem legalistic or kill-joys. I believe it was St. Augustine that said understanding follows belief. Peace.
Posted by: Rob+ on Sunday, 6 June 2010 at 10:20am BST
Maybe time to have another wee word with Jesus Rob ?
You can read my essay for Oxford University Press on the Trinity in the Old Testament where the question of what has traditionally been held as the 'literal sense' of scripture is canvassed. Read Aquinas on Psalm 22 (LXX 21) where the literal sense is contrasted with the sense of Theodore of Mopsuestia and delcared by Thomas as 'the spiritual sense'. Or, if you are ambitious, see Childs' essay "Sensus Literalis: an Ancient and Modern Problem." The literal sense is only in the 18th century something like the sense I suspect you are referring to. 'Where did Jesus go?' is not answered by the literal sense in John (Resurrection = 'not finished ascension') and Luke-Acts the same way because the referent in Risen Life, whose literal sense must be conveyed by Aquinas's 'spiritual sense.' None of this is what Schori means when she tries to tell us the Holy Spirit is an agent of new revelation. That has nothing to do with literal or spiritual sense-making, and it is more akin to gnosticism.
You're obfuscating and trying to blind me with 'scholarship'. You've been published by OUP? Wow! Well, actually, so have I, and in a far more demanding discipline. Note also your feeble 'slide' between my query and your attack on Schori's so-called 'Gnosticism'.
The fact is: when the NT narratives (and the creeds) say Jesus ascended into heaven, the cosmology is ... WRONG.
Why can't you Evo-types simply admit this? Of course, I know the answer, but the responsibility lies with you. When you give an HONEST answer, we might have some real intellectual debate.
Your question is the wrong one, as it unwittingly reinforces Seitz's critique and galvanizes his allies.
The literal and plain sense of scripture is specifically not about the response to questions such as, "To what does X [e.g., ascension] refer [in the real world] for its meaning?" Rather, the plain and literal sense is about recognizing that the meaning of an event in Scripture [e.g., ascension, incarnation] is first (but not only) concerned with its role in the narrative (i.e., character, setting, and plot) in which it occurs--especially as that narrative is canonically received by the Christian community--and not with reference to something outside it.
Your question does not get to Seitz's point because its shows a confusion of the question of meaning (i.e., "What does ascension mean?") with the question of reference (i.e., "What really happened?"). These are logically distinct, and any adequate response to Seitz demands not only that you account for that difference, but that you take it seriously. And taking it seriously is a matter, quite simply, of charity. This is because, from the perspective of him and his colleagues, it is the meaning given in the plain and literal sense that ensures continuation of the apostolic witness. Until you account for this, your position remains tethered to an incoherence that he will continue to exploit.
And in this debate, charity is absolutely coincident with the integrity TEC claims for its witness. Carelessness with regard to such questions will continue to be the weakness they (passively) exploit in their attempt to produce more and more momentum for a schism.
I repeat my point from above: neither integrity, fidelity, or victory are to be found in consenting to a schism they insist is inevitable or has already occurred. Williams' recent letter shows that if this story of recent events is allowed to prevail, then it will only serve to produce a separation that is desired but which they would never dream of pursuing with active integrity.
Please take note of the demonstration of the tactic I described in Seitz's response, John.
Dear John--I'm sure your OUP publications are in more demanding subject areas, but my mind-reading skills are inadequate to assess you or them. I mentioned this OUP essay for the sake of economy, not to display my skills in 'demanding' feats, something I have no interest in. My publication record is open for all to see, and when I have finished a monograph on interpretation in the School of Antioch, it will be there to study and evaluate -- as with my previous writing in areas 'less demanding' than your own: whoever you are and whatever they may be! I will continue to hold the view that the PB's handling of scripture sounds like the private revelations of early gnosticism, seen to be preferable to the written record of apostle and prophet. Your concern with referentiality is a modern problem unrelated to literal sense making as the church has meant this.
grace and peace -- cs.
jdd--charity is indeed as you see it, critical to apprehension of the literal sense (so Augustine) which is why the TEC position is taken to be uncharitable and prone to schism, probably inevitably. It divorces itself from literal sense readings of texts like John 14/16 and Acts 2 (and 11 and 15) as the tradition has held this, and participates in a gnostic hermeneutic (more disinterested in ostensive reference, by the way, than what you appear to suggest is true of a canonical reading as I deploy this. I don't think 'meaning' and 'reference' are logically distinct at all, but the relationship between these must be carefully sought and charity and humility are demanded for not getting them out of balance (usually in the name of 'what really happened' apologetics of right or left). Otherwise I believe you have spotted the (angry) cul de sac John is working in.
I don't think I agree with your dichotomy. Could you e-mail me? If you don't know, I'm:
Christopher, in a myriad of posts and a forest of words, you have offered exectly nothing to support your contention that Seabury's intent was the creation of an American church subordinate to the Church of England. Evidence that, PRIOR to the creation of the new republic he supported the retention of the monarchy is irrelevant to the matter at hand.
The clear and unequivocal intent of Seabury and of those who sent his was to establish the necessary conditions for an ecclesiastical body that would continue in the tradition of BUT WOULD BE SEPARATE FROM the Church of England.
Dr, Jefferts Schori's 34 word summation may have oversimplified the facts.
Your thousands of words have woven a fabrication, a caricature, a falsehood.
I am unsure what is so unclear, Mr Malcolm. Any American Church History would explain the fact that Seabury's concern was not for autonomy but for continuity. I am not sure what further information would dislodge your prejudice that it is somehow otherwise. I learned this kind of basic factual account in the Church's Teaching Series by Dawley and in seminary basic courses. This is not advanced degree stuff. Seabury was a Tory, Chaplain in the Kings Army, would have been happy to reside with High Churchmen in Halifax if it came to that, never envisaged an independent church in the model of the PB of TEC. Indeed the burden of proof is not with the standard account but with the revisionisms tailor made for TEC's progressive interests. I am only repeating basic facts in the record. Please take a weekend and read any standard account (Gavin White's is not long). Just yelling falsehood is not moving your revisionist account into the persuasion category. Can you demonstrate that Seabury's interest was an autonomous church prepared to go its own way if that was necessary? If so, why the concern for the descent clause, role of Bishops as in the C of E, conformity of the BCP with the rites of the C of E, interest in being consecrated in the C of E in the first instance, and so forth. I think it is time to stop making odd charges and read the basic historical accounts, which put Seabury closer to Rowan Williams' view of Communion than the PB's. grace and peace.
Patt writes "How can you be so absolutely certain that what TEC hears is the "spirit of the age" and not the Spirit? Have you had a private revelation?" You might just as well ask how does one test the spirits as Paul cautions. How do we discern if what we are hearing is from the Holy Spirit or a deceiving spirit? This takes no gift of discernment. If someone says they are hearing from the Holy Spirit and they contradict scripture, they are mistaken. Similarly, when someone is saying that are hearing from the Spirit and yet it sounds much more like cultural parroting in contradiction to biblical sexual morality, it is likewise easy to see that this is not the Holy Spirit they are listening to.
"The absence of "other forms of couplings" from the scripture is surely a result of cultural circumstances and nothing more." That is a sweeping assumption that has no historical warrant. The Hellenist (Greek) culture that was widely spread among the Roman empire was full of ever form of sexual vice and "couplings" as you say. You don't need to be a student of ancient history to know that. Simply read Paul's letters to the churches in Asia. He addresses sexual confusion among new church members specifically, for instance 1 Cor. 6:9-11.
Pat wrote "So, all those heterosexual couples in monogamous relationships around the world who have never been married as recognized by Judeo-Christian tradition are "fornicating"?" Not sure how you get that out of what I wrote. Clearly, the institution of marriage (like God's laws written on our hearts) is the world over and a gift from God to all mankind.
"Indeed, Mark 7, while splendid teaching, wholly begs the question of what is, and is not evil in the case of same sex partners." -- Well, no. By itself as well as in the context of scripture it upholds Jewish understanding of sexual morality and clearly implicates same sex sexual relationships, along with all other forms of sexual immorality like incest and pedophelia for example as something that needs to be repented of. The argument from silence tack falls on two points. Scripture is neither silent and it upholds life long marriage between a man and woman as God's intention.
All such arguments have been thoroughly addressed by Robert Gagnon in his book.
Chenerie wrote "Christ's life matters just as much as his death, [Absolutely] and his commandment that we should love our companions as we do ourselves cannot be disposed of by the...After all, there is singularly little point in telling us to love each other if we are all 'intrinsically psychologically disordered' as you claim; none of us would be capable of doing so."
Granted, "intrinsically psychologically disordered" is a bit heavy handed. In the natural secular world there are a lot of good peole with good families doing a good job at leading good lives. And this includes gay couples.
But our discussion is about the church and our relationship with the creator of the universe. In spiritual terms, in terms of our ability to be rightly related to God in his holiness and righteousness, to say that we are intrinsically disordered that our thinking (psychology) is muddgled and wrong until Jesus brings us into relationship with the Father and gives us understanding, well that is what the church has always taught and that is my personal experience as well.
You really do hit the nail on the head. None of us can keep even that simple law - to love one another as ourselves - except by grace in faith. Yes, there is lots of love in the world outside of Christianity. But to actually keep the law, to love your neighbor as yourself is impossible, just as it is impossible love God with heart, mind, soul and strength, as it is impossible to not even think sinful thoughts as Jesus commanded.
And yet, God created us all to live in perfect harmony with Him in his holiness and righteousness and glory. So Jesus gives us all these things in his very life shared with us. (Christianity is not simply moral precepts.) Our responsibility is to receive this grace in faith, part of which involves repentance from our sinful (I labeled this disordered) ways. Afterall, to be "disordered" is to not be ordered rightly. If we were ordered rightly Jesus would not have had to suffer on the cross for us as he chose to do. We would already be in a rightly ordered relationship with God.
That is the gift of the cross and resurrection, he died our death so we might live his life. Both together.
That is also, by the way, why I would never tell a non-Christian homosexual that they can't have a partner, or non-Christian young people that they can't have sex before marriage. The law is little use with out mercy, grace and redemption first.
@Rob - well, no Scripture precisely does not uphold 'life long marriage between a man and woman as God's intention.' St Paul for one is pretty sure that this is a compromise granted as a concession. Much of Genesis is pretty happy with polygamy. Jesus himself is anything but an enthusiast for the family which, I take it, will tend naturally to spring from any life long union between a man and a woman. So, no.
What we CAN say is that Scripture accepts that man/woman marriage is wholly within the natural order of things and to be well regulated. Women should remain faithful to their husbands, and Jesus adds to that the absolute demand that men too must be faithful.
IN addition we have a number of OT demands that neither sex become impure by lying with each other. Since the distinction between moral and ritual law is a wholly modern (in the sense used by historians) invention, it is open to either side to insist it is ritual (like the wool/linen mix ban) or moral (like the theft ban).
We then come to the NT and can argue either that Jesus accepts a heap of the more important OT premises (which he does) or we can argue that he rejects a very great deal of accepted behaviour (which he also does) and then both sides argue that Jesus is on their side, and truly believe he is. I'll run out of space if I take in Paul -
What I really want to emphasise is that there is something important to be asked and it is this: whyever would one imagine that homosexuality falls into the moral category described above, or into the category of essentials, which Jesus upholds?
We count incest and adultery as moral prohibitions, because we can see the damage they do. We ourselves have forbidden paedophilia, which is not in my memory a biblical prohibition. All because they do damage. Whereas gay people flourish where their relationships can be open and recognised.
In my book, the deeply held biblical principle trumps the trivia - by their fruits you shall know them.
It's perfectly true I am angry, and one reason is I've been marking solid for three weeks. My problem and I shouldn't inflict it on others. Sorry for irascibility.
But another reason is I dislike intellectual flummery. I am familiar with the sorts of distinctions you and JDD make. The question always is how/if/ they work out in specific cases. Your initial criticism of Schori invoked 'simple/literal' reading of the NT. I say the Ascension doesn't respond. However one integrates it into the overall Christian 'story', presumably, it is making some sort of factual claim (something like: the risen Jesus was re-absorbed into God's element). The way it's clad, however, is literally untenable, we now know, though equally we know it often was read literally ('Jesus went up into Heaven') in Christian tradition. So:
(1) either the NT writers got their cosmology wrong, or
(2) it was never meant to be read literally.
I'm rather sceptical of (2), since (i) cosmic space (both vertical and horizontal) is a very strong element, both narratological and theological, in the Gospels, esp. Luke(-Acts); (ii) in so far as Jesus' Ascension 'trumps' the ascensions of Hellenistic and Roman kings, a notion of literal ascension seems part of the deal (souls going up to stars, etc.). But in either case, one isn't reading 'simply' or 'literally'.
What's wrong with this? If there is something wrong, I'd like to know.
I think the question is whether something contradicts scripture or simply re-interprets it in light of new information. Surely the Spirit is not asking us to close our minds to revelations about the natural world. In that direction lies the Roman church's condemnations of Galileo (over Copernican cosmology) and Teilhard de Chardin (over Darwinian evolution).
We have a new scientific understanding of same-sex attraction and relationships, one that has developed over time through experiment, research, and experience. Are you telling us that the Spirit wishes us to discount all that new understanding in our understanding of scripture? That all of it is, somehow, the work of the devil?
As for the cultural question--yes, Hellenic culture was all around...but the people among whom Jesus lived had rejected it. Further, the kind of monogamous same-sex relationships we are talking about in the modern context were not part of Hellenic culture, either.
So God gave marriage to all the world, without regard to religious belief? Then why can you not expand that understanding to "without regard to sexual attraction"?
"I am unsure what is so unclear, Mr Malcolm"
He didn't say you were unclear. He said you were lying, and trying to advance a red herring.
"TEC precludes gay people from receiving the grace God freely bestows in the second biggest area of their disorderdness. It is the cross that brings transformation to our disordered affections and appetites. The first disorder is our independence from God. In all of us there are many other and resultant disorders." - Rob+ -
I presume Rob+ that you, as a priest, would be aware of the fact that the confessional is open to any member of TEC who wants to avail themselves of the opportunity for Confession and absolution. If this is so, then, no-one needs to be robbed of the grace offered by that simple sacrament of the Church. Also, In the Episcopal Church - as in my own Church in New Zealand, there is a form of confession and absolution available in the common Liturgy of the Eucharist. Both of these offices are made available to all of us who are guilty of sin - including the sin of jedgementalism.
Sexual sins are committed daily, by heterosexual persons as well as homosexuals, and we all need to be aware of the fact that very few of us are without some guilt in this important area of our lives. BUT, to say that same-sex activity is more sinful than heterosexual activity (outside of a monogamous committed relationship) is to say that sexuality is only to be enjoyed by married people for the purpose of procreation - for that is the primitive understanding of the Biblical Tradition.
A little theological training, and a lot of pastoral praxis, has led me to the understanding that God created sexuality for the mutual love and companionship of human beings. This gift of God may be used to build up one's partner, or for one's own personal satisfaction - but not for the abuse or disrespecting of another person. This is where the sin lies - not with sexuality, per se, but with its misuse - whether by heterosexual or same-sex couples. Love is the key to right use of every aspect of loving - including eros. There is plenty of evidence in the statements of Jesus in the New Testament to this effect.
"Can you demonstrate that Seabury's interest was an autonomous church prepared to go its own way if that was necessary?"
Let's try this once again...
Whatever *Seabury's* *personal* interest was, it's not really relevant to the point being made by the PB, and her point is in no way bound by his "interest."
What matters is that the post-independence Church in Connecticut, without seeking leave of the Church of England, took it upon itself to elect Seabury -- again, not their first choice, and had the first man elected accepted, the irrelevance of "Seabury's interest" would be apparent even to C. Seitz -- and sent him off to obtain consecration within the Apostolic Succession, whether that would take him to Denmark (bad choice), England (futile), or Scotland (just right).
What matters to her point is not Seabury the man, with his own political and ecclesiastical opinions, but the decision and act and intention of the Church in the newly independent United States, and specifically, of the Church in the then-organizing Diocese of Connecticut.
I confess your use of the word 'literal' is not clear, from someone like yourself with an academic training. I think you mean the kind of shift that turned 'literal' (having to do with 'letters' in narrative form, in this case) to 'factual, in respect of ostensive reference', hence the peculiar phrase in american english, 'did it literally happen?'). Frei's Eclipse of Biblical Narrative explains how this shift took place in the course of the 18th century. My use of the term 'literal' invokes the earlier consensus, before the Bible's sense-making entailed correlating it with an external world of reference (Calvin had no 'History of the World' he pulled down and compared the Bible with to see if it measured up). One cannot understand ascension without asking what resurrection life is, which cannot be tidily explained by appeal to reference in time/space. Hence, John's 'tell them I am ascending to my Father...do not hold me.' But this is not a topic for 400 words, especially for someone who likes demanding feats of scholarship! I do not think Schori appeals to either your sense of 'literal' or the classical sense. She appeals to an interior conviction, and seeks to relate it to 'themes' the Bible suggests to her imagination. But enough. I too must return to work, so best wishes on your marking labours.
"None of this is what Schori means when she tries to tell us the Holy Spirit is an agent of new revelation. That has nothing to do with literal or spiritual sense-making, and it is more akin to gnosticism."
C. Seitz here posits and seeks to build upon a distinction between (a) "new revelation" and (b) mere "literal or spiritual sense-making."
Presumably (and correct me if I'm wrong, Doc), in reading John 16:12-13 -- "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." -- he therefore views the "guiding" to be done by the Spirit as limited to "literal or spiritual sense-making," never crossing into "new revelation" (for, Heaven knows, that would be all terribly Gnostic).
Fair enough. In the abstract, these distinctions seem valid, and well-rooted in various hermeneutics of the past.
The challenge lies in *applying* this distinction to non-theoretical human lives and to our reading of Scripture not in the rarefied and abstract ways of an academic theologian (again, visions of Ptolemaic epicycles dance in my head), of a ++Rowan or a Ratzinger divorced from actual flesh-and-blood human lives, but rather in a way informed by real lives.
And in *that* context, something that Seitz appears to take as axiomatic is by no means self-evident, namely:
New understanding of human sexuality and of how the Church should respond to it is not necessarily some private, Gnostic "new revelation"; rather, it arguably fits quite comfortably within the category of "literal or spiritual sense-making."
First, it isn't "private," because this isn't just about some vision had by the PB but, as the PB points out, it is the result of a process of discernment of many years' standing across the Episcopal Church, as well as a simultaneous development across different corners of the Church catholic: "The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others."
And, if a new "literal or spiritual sense-making" is indeed of the Spirit and not of the Zeitgeist, I'm not sure how Seitz et al. think it would look different than what one sees now: Here a liberalization, there a liberalization, and so on, and so on, as place after place and group after group discerns and makes decisions based on that discernment.
But the main point is that -- putting aside the aspersions casting as "Gnostic" and "private" something clearly quite public, collective, and corporate -- the reasoning to support classifying new theological understandings of sexuality as necessarily rising to the level of a full-blown "new revelation," rather than as simply "literal or spiritual sense-making" of things that "you [could] not bear" before (a` la John 16:12-13), is simply not self-evident.
Indeed, for those of us who see better understanding of human sexuality as a gift enabling better, more faithful application of Gospel teachings, and leading to full LGBT inclusion in the life of the Church, it seems quite clear that this is indeed only "literal or spiritual sense-making" of already-delivered revelation, and not some "new revelation."
Such a view may be subjective, and only the Gamaliel test may resolve its validity, but it is no *more* subjective than Seitz et al.'s kneejerk assignment of these new understandings to the Gnostic-like "new revelation" category...not one iota more subjective.
And if one would care to differ with that verdict, then by all means, "show us the math" whereby these new understandings must, of necessity, be but false "new revelations" rather than the Spirit's "guiding" the Church into new-and-improved "literal or spiritual sense-making."
Of course meaning and reference go together and must be rightly related. But that is a very different concern than whether they are formally (i.e, logically) distinguishable. My point to John was that his question framed the matter such that explanatory meaning was strictly coincident with reference. It does not seem controversial to make a formal distinction between these, else a story about talking rabbits, like Watership Down, would just be babble.
As to my point regarding charity, you are certainly right to reference Augustine, as the leadership of that good bishop will no doubt, in the end, be decisive for this debate. It is no surprise, then, that you seem to have misunderstood the force of my point regarding charity. By encouraging John and others on this blog to account responsibly for your concerns regard to plain and literal sense, I simply holding them accountable for maintaining the charity that is inherent to and inseparable from the witness of their position (at least insofar as they support TEC). I was simply underscoring that this charity fails only when your own tactic of uncharitable misrepresentation (e.g., the charge of "gnosticism")of the various positions and issues currently facing our Communion is allowed to determine that debate. In other words, TEC must address your concerns without adopting your strategy.
I leave it to you to conclude, in such circumstances, whose position is trending toward schism. I can resolutely say, however, that my position does not commitment me to construing your as "inevitably" schismatic.
"Clearly, the institution of marriage (like God's laws written on our hearts) is the world over and a gift from God to all mankind."
Well, except not, according to you, because there's a significant minority of mankind you would deny it.
You're being deeply evasive.
'Once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture.' That is the 'modern' usage.
The point of my question to Christopher was simply to establish that there are cases where we should all be able to agree that a 'literal' reading in the above sense just can't be done. If we agreed that, then we might begin to explore grey areas in good faith, instead of shutting things down with the fairly crass appeal to 'the literal/plain sense of scripture'. I don't see any need for either of you to make a big song and dance about this.
If I understand your point, jdd, thanks.
Silva Cornell--Gnosticism was also not private in the sense you attribute to me. Private means, in this case, guided by strong convictions apart from scriptural attestation. Gnostics were social beings, and held many ideas in common. These convictions sought grounding in a theory that the literal sense deposit of prophets and apostles was not adequate (and indeed was evil in the case of OT). Did not Paul have revelations he did not set down? We do too, and we appeal to the propriety of them by reference to Paul's visionary experiences. Our revelation of the truth is independent of the written revelation and must be, for then it demonstrates its superiority. And equally, the fact that the truth is grasped only by a few is its own guarantee of higher knowledge. Naturally others have more prosaic accounts of the work of the spirit and the obviousness of truth as grounded in letters. Indeed, most will lodge their Christian faith along these more pedestrian standards. When they say we have wandered from the truth of Christ, we respond that they have not yet come into the truth, and may not ever. Our Rule of Faith is higher than scripture letters, and that is why it is more truthful than mere material form and letters from men like Paul. One must select from his letters based upon a comparison with higher knowledge, and so we have a single gospel and a single apostle. We have been led into all truth. I have responded to the PB and it is posted at T19, so let the charges of lying and falsification gather new force!
Apologies to the owners of the site - perhaps I am just too dim to discover how to email them directly: this is a long, interesting but convoluted thread - and my feeling is that the software or platform being used isn't up to allowing people to track comments and sub-threads. While I am here, I personally often provide links to my comments on various blogs on Twitter, but this appears not to be possible with the TA blog. This is an excellently moderated blog but I wonder if it would be possible to consider using something a bit more sophisticated as a presentational layer?
"Pat wrote "So, all those heterosexual couples in monogamous relationships around the world who have never been married as recognized by Judeo-Christian tradition are "fornicating"?" Not sure how you get that out of what I wrote. Clearly, the institution of marriage (like God's laws written on our hearts) is the world over and a gift from God to all mankind."
One does wish that the defenders of "traditional" / "biblical" marriage would not only read their Bibles more closely (in which all sorts of unions other than one-man-one-woman-for-life not only appear but appear blessed - lots of polygamy, concubinage, etc.) but also at least take an introductory course in anthropology. Plenty of cultures have had marital institutions that differ from the one-man-one-woman-for-life "institution of marriage" that is allegedly "like God's laws written on our hearts." From Tibetan polyandry to Tahitian polygamy to Torah-based levirate marriage by an already-married man, what God has written on the human heart "the world over" seems to differ quite substantially in many places from the one-man-one-woman-for-life standard.
By the way, ever read Martin Luther's thoughts on whether polygyny contradicts Scripture?
"All such arguments have been thoroughly addressed by Robert Gagnon in his book."
Gagnon's book and "scholarship" is ideologically-predetermined rubbish. That would take a whole other long thread to address adequately, but if one is acquainted with The Google then one can locate thorough rebuttals of Gagnon both online and in print.
John -- Not being evasive in the least, just not convinced the categories you work with are adequate for christian theological reflection. You could equally be charged with sloth, and not wanting to think through the limitations of your conceptual framework. You persist in not understanding what the word 'literal' means in classical christian reflection and I am disinterested in joining a peculiar 19th century framework for knowing and then getting nowhere with it. signing off. all strength with your marking.
You compound your evasiveness and, indeed, outright dishonesty. Not to mention lack of charity (reference to 'the limitations of your conceptual framework'; the quite elementary point is that I am seeking to agree an 'irreducible minimum' as a basis for debate; doesn't mean that I dismiss larger perspectives).
It is absolutely clear that when you wrote: 'once you ignore the literal/plain sense of scripture', you were using 'literal' in exactly the same way as I did.
Yes? No? Let's have a little Evangelical clarity.
Seitz, your reply to me addresses only the sideshow of how to understand "private" -- and even there seems to miss the point, which is that we "reappraisers" have engaged within a public process of discernment and debate, for decades, and in varied corners of the Church catholic, and it is *that* process which we believe has been the conduit for the guiding of the Holy Spirit, not any by any merely "strong convictions apart from scriptural attestation."
But on that point, and more importantly on the more fundamental point - of defining "new revelation" versus "literal or spiritual sense-making" of already-delivered revelation (a question which your reply comment wholly ignores), I do see that you have now published this: http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2010/06/god-the-holy-spirit-and-“being-led-into-all-truth”/
With every hope that that text does address the question you left untouched in your reply comment, I look forward to reading it as soon as the work day permits. If you felt able to respond here more directly to the question, though, that would of course be welcome.
Re "I have responded to the PB and it is posted at T19, so let the charges of lying and falsification gather new force!": I'll assume this wasn't directed at me; not sure where I charged you with "lying and falsification."
Re "Silva Cornell": Thanks for being formal and including my maternal surname (which in Portuguese custom precedes the paternal; the reverse of the Spanish order) but no need to stand on ceremony, Seitz. The more familiar "Cornell" will do just fine; we are, after all, brothers in Christ.
Fr Rob "Though since you bring it up the vast majority of the world's peoples do agree that homosexuality is immoral."
Er, not in Europe. The rapid move of public opinion in Europe away from a culture which has in the past viciously persecuted gay people (in the name of Christianity) towards one which accepts them is a defining change in modern European society, and something churches need urgently to start to take seriously. How can you claim to run a national church (such as the C of E, or the RC Church in Spain or Portugal) in a country where many of your members are gay and in civil marriages/partnerships, yet not offer ANY appropriate pastoral provision for such church members at all?
It beggars belief, quite frankly. If the Church doesn't want to serve the society it exists within, then it should simply get out of the business of both trying to influence that wider society and receiving privileges from it. Otherwise, church leaders need to get a bit more real about how European Christians actually live.
"None of us can keep even that simple law - to love one another as ourselves - except by grace in faith. "
Are you really saying that no one who is not a Christian, no one who does not receive "grace in faith", is capable of loving others as he loves himself? Every Jew, every Muslim, every Hindu, every atheist and agnostic is incapable of this?
Rosemary – marriage – you might read Jesus’ words Mt 19:4-6. The concession for divorce made by Moses was noted by Jesus when he affirmed lifelong marriage – becoming one .
It is not about *imagining* that homosexuality falls into a moral quality but *acknowledging.* If you don’t want to regard God’s word that is your option.
Pat – God certainly continues to speak and teach us both supernaturally and naturally. But he does not contradict himself. You might want to read up more on Hellenist culture. There most certainly were same-sex unions of the kind sought today. Human nature really hasn’t changed in 2000 years. “…without regard to sexual attraction?” Because of God’s revelation in his inspired word. It is that simple.
Ron – why in the world would someone confess as sin what their priest is calling holy? That is the cruelty of heresy. It leaves people in their sin. I agree with all you write about the gift of sexuality until you insert the non-bilblical “not with sexuality, per se”. That is cultural fabrication inserted into the church. It is bad theology. But it sounds nice and accommodating.
David da Silva – Nice short list of exceptions to life long marriage between a man and a woman. Like I said, the large majority of the world’s population understand the gift of marriage in its natural ordering by God. Gagnon’s book is exegesis. You seem to prefer eisegesis.
Fr. Mark – there is wonderful pastoral provision provided to our gay brothers and sisters. One of the best is Pastoral Care Ministries by Leanne Payne. Her books are life changing. Then there is Redeemed Lives by Mario Bergner, Regeneration, Living Waters, and on and on. The Gentile Christians in Paul’s day were no less broken, and probably more, than today’s Europeans. The real problem is the church’s inability to minister the transforming power of the cross into their lives and sexuality. In the absence of power (the spiritual kind) the church has resorted to the ministry of affirmation. But why should anyone bother going to the church for that?
Pat – As to keeping the law of love. All of the law and the prophets hang on two commandments, loving God and loving neighbor. And none can keep even these laws to God’s perfect standard. Have you never read Romans? Try Romans 2:12-16. Of course people love in part to be sure in every culture, religion, people all over the world, but none to God’s holy standard. Our ability to love as God created us to love is marred by sin. In other words our hearts are dis-ordered for they were created to love God and neighbor perfectly, it is called Holy Communion which we only experience by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Clearly, I will not change any of your minds but this conversation has been instructive in teaching me about your worldview. Thanks.
Nothing is the least bit unclear, "Mr. Christopher." It is crystal clear that you are prepared to twist, manipulate and spin irrelevancies in order to "prove" your fabrications.
That Seabury HAD BEEN an opponent of the Revolution is irrelevant.
That Seabury HAD BEEN a chaplain to the British Army is irrelevant.
Seabury WAS (at the timeof his election and consecration) a citizen of the new republic. He could easily have continued as a British subject by emigrating to Canada or elsewhere (as many did), but he chose not to do so. The establishment of the American republic may not have been his preferred end state, but it is manifestly obvious that he had resolved himself to the new state of affairs.
Clearly Seabury (and, as importantly, those who elected him) accepted the proposition articulated some few years later in the preface to the first American Prayer Book, that:
"But when in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent with respect to civil government, THEIR ECCLESIASTICAL INDEPENDENCE WAS NECESSARILY INCLUDED; . . ."
Finally, Christopher, you're false dichotomy of autonomy and continuity is nothing but dishonest word play. At no point has ANYONE denied that Seabury et al sought to have continuity with the Church of England. But that does not for one second alter the fact that they viewed the Church in the United States as a separate and independent institution.
Just to make it perfectly clear, Christopher, I understand your "argument." I merely see it for the house of cards it really is - a fabrication built upon your own wilful denial of reality.
Of course, Bill Dilworth's summation is a trifle pithier.
(Stand by for Christopher to tell us that "their ecclesiastical independence was necessarily included" actually means "their ecclesiastical institutions should nonetheless remain subordinate to the bishops of England." After all, in the Humpty-Dumpty world of Wycliffe College, words mean only what Christopher Seitz chooses them to mean -- neither more nor less.)
Rob - which is indeed why I noted that this was Jesus's teaching.
I am taking the Bible seriously - just not agreeing with the views to which you come on reading it.
However, I see the prohibition of homosexuality in the OT as being a matter of the same kind of cleanliness as using two different yarns in one cloth (et al.). The reason for this is that it is perfectly clear to me there is no rational base for disapproving of faithful gay relationships - bluntly, they tend to do good and not harm. They tend to grow those in them, and those around them. They are no more selfish and venial than any heterosexual relationship - whereas other forbidden relationships do harm.
Rosemary, then you might try reading the what the NT has to say about homosexuality and sexual morality. That would be the rational thing to do.