Wednesday, 11 July 2012

General Convention approves Same Sex Blessings

Updated again Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service reports: Blessing rite authorized for provisional use from First Advent

Same-gender couples soon can have their lifelong relationships blessed using a rite approved by General Convention July 10.

In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.

The motion in the House of Deputies carried by 78 percent in the clergy order, with the clergy in 85 deputations voting yes, 22 no and four divided; and 76 percent in the lay order, with laity in 86 deputations voting yes, 19 no and five divided. The bishops had approved the resolution on July 9 with a roll call vote of 111 to 41 with three abstentions…

The text of the resolution, as amended, is here as a PDF.

The Diocese of South Carolina released a statement in opposition to this action.

Some other statements in reaction to this, and some press coverage can be found here.

Updates

Anglican Ink reports
12 bishops say no to gay blessings

A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention has released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.”

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years…

and South Carolina walks out of General Convention

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal. John Burwell and Lonnie Hamilton have agreed to remain at Convention to monitor further developments and by their presence demonstrate that our action is not to be construed as a departure from the Episcopal Church. Please pray for those of us who will be traveling early and for those who remain.”

and South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church

Sunday Updates
Statement from Diocese of Central Florida
Statement from Diocese of Albany (PDF)

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Comments

Bravo to the Episcopal Church in the USA! If only the Church of England had looked with favour on such a matter - the blessing of same-Sex Unions - there may not have been the same pressure for Civil Marriage Legislation for Same-Sex Christian couples.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 10:59am BST

A religion that promises a new heaven and a new earth can't call itself conservative.

"Behold! I am making all things new."

The Episcopal Church just moved the world a little closer to Isaiah's vision of God's Holy Mountain.

And one day, even Rome, Geneva, and Constantinople will catch up.

Posted by: Counterlight on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 12:06pm BST

It appears that TEC has made provision for something called a 'provisional rite.' Article X of TEC's constitution has no rite so-called. It does have provision for what it calls a 'trial rite' and this new rite was called that until at last minute a change was proposed to 'provisional.' A 'trial rite' requires a supermajority of Bishops to approve and people saw that was not going to happen. Rites like this one called 'provisional' must according to Article X conform to the rubrics of the BCP. The BCP is after all a constitutional document, not a loose leaf binder or Etch-a-Sketch. I'm not sure anyone voting Yes yesterday knows that or even much cares. After all, each Bishop in each Diocese may ban the use of such a rite. So now we have Uncommon Prayer. The only way this rite is in conformity with the rubrics of the BCP is by thinking about it as something sui generis -- but Art X and the BCP were crafted so as to comprehend and order all the rites of the church. So there is now an obvious question mark over the status of the constitutional Art X and BCP.

I accept that those in favor of these rites don't care about that or disagree with it. But the fact remains that for many Bishops and Dioceses this new rite is not only not to be used but is constitutionally questionable.

Conservative also means 'in a fellowship of saints' who have gone before and who have helped order our life of Common Prayer and Worship, where we await the Coming of our Lord in love and hope.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 1:16pm BST

The large majorities by which this was passed among laity, clergy, and bishops (what might be called a "landslide" in the political realm)leaves no doubt that this is indeed the will of The Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Old Father William on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 2:30pm BST

The oppressed, the abused the sneared at (by selective Scriptural chest pounders and back slappers) are inching closer to becoming the authentic Christian human beings that God created us to be...thanks to TEC. May the grumblers shake fear and prejudice from their souls before religious excluding leaves more outcasts demeaned or in Uganda, Nigeria, Jamaica and beyond...the great foam of hate will dry and fall away...truth has begun to be graced.

Posted by: leonardo ricardo on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 2:41pm BST

Will this lead to a fresh round of accusations from other member churches in the Communion?

Posted by: Mike P-J on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 4:48pm BST

Far from the zenith of heavenly Zion, this 'liturgy' represents the nadir of contempt for Holy Writ.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 5:32pm BST

It will be interesting to hear the reaction from 'the Church of England' since we have now declared ourselves such supporters of civil partnerships when faced by the prospect of same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Grumpy High Church Woman on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 5:40pm BST

I have not read the rite nor background info on this. However, I regret that it has been solely described in the media as a same-sex rite. At least in the developmental stages such a rite was intended for 'straight' relationships as well, where legal marriage would have resulted in economic difficulties for elderly and widowed couples who could not afford to reduce their retirement income, or a host of other scenarios of a truly pastoral nature. Having served in South Florida I witnessed such difficulties all too often.
If the original intention has been maintained, then this is a rite for several different circumstances, gay and 'straight'.

Posted by: Bob McCloskey on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 8:15pm BST

The revolutionary spirit at the heart of the Christian faith is finally starting to crack open the hard amber of doctrinalism.

Posted by: Counterlight on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 8:32pm BST

cseitz:

The vote in the House of Bishops was 111 to 41 with 3 abstentions. That comes to a majority of 73% by my reckoning. How large a supermajority is required for your "trial" rite?

And once again, I am amazed that you appear to claim a greater knowledge and authority about the church's rules than those making decisions about such in GC.

A suggestion, sir: If you are so unhappy with the way the Episcopal Church is doing its business, why do you stay?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 8:40pm BST

Post Covenant, the C of E's own consultation can save itself a lot of work by drawing on the TEC liturgy for a template - it's probably the only useful thing they could recommend apart from a general commitment to equality. As the legal status of gay unions varies widely across the United States, the liturgy is readily adaptable to England now that we have a Church divided, pace the most ideologically opposed, between supporters of civil partnerships (belatedly!) and gay marriage.

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 9:05pm BST

Contempt for the same Holy Writ always preached at this liturgy, DavidS? [C'mon, scare quotes? That's beneath you.]

While TEC has yet to catch up (and admittedly, never will) w/ the Holy Spirit, even in this step (full equality of ALL the Children of God), it's certainly a Big Step in the Spirit's direction. TBTG & Alleluia! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 9:36pm BST

Pat--a supermajority according to Art. X would be a majority of all bishops -- there are 305 total.

Kindly inform yourself before you write.

Art. X is quite clear and in this case the Bishops themselves knew they did not have the votes for a 'trial rite.' So they invented the category 'provisional rite.'

If you need any further help understanding this, I am afraid I can make it no clearer.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 10:20pm BST

The numbers game is of more interest to cseitz when it relates to CoE's "Covenant" vote, Pat O'Neil.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 10:47pm BST

I believe this to be the work of The Holy Spirit. The time has come for full inclusion of the glbt communities. The blessing of same-sex unions would seem quite in keeping to the inclusive love that Jesus tried to teach His disciples. Ugly words have been used to hurt and devalue those voices who yearn for marriage equality. These words are acts of violence against a hated group by ignorant and fearful minds. It is time for full inclusion and the provisional rite for blessing their unions is an act of love and fellowship with our glbt brothers and sisters. If it threatens those with different views it is time for those persons to examine themselves and place their feet in the shoes of same sex couples.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 11:00pm BST

cseitz:

Perhaps you can make it clearer: Does the article in question say "all bishops" or "all bishops voting"? How has the phrase been interpreted in the past? If only 155 bishops (just barely a majority of all 305) attended GC, how could a majority of the whole number be expected at all?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 11:41pm BST

it strikes me as odd that so many appear to believe that the Holy Ghost cannot act through the democratic process. Perhaps a more biblical drawing of straws would be more convincing for the dissenters?

Posted by: Nat on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 11:51pm BST

Art X of The Constitution of The Episcopal Church (2009) provides:

The Book of Common Prayer, as now established or hereafter amended by the authority of this Church, shall be in use in all the Dioceses of this Church. No alteration thereof or addition thereto shall be made unless the same shall be first proposed in one regular meeting of the General Convention and by a resolve thereof be sent within six months to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting, and be adopted by the General Convention at its next
succeeding regular meeting by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a vote by orders in the House of Deputies in accordance with Article I, Sec. 5, except that concurrence by the orders shall require the affirmative vote in
each order by a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies.
But notwithstanding anything herein above contained, the General Convention may at any one meeting, by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops, and by a majority of the Clerical and Lay Deputies of all the Dioceses entitled to representation in the House of Deputies, voting by orders as previously set forth in this Article:
(a) Amend the Table of Lessons and all Tables and Rubrics relating to the Psalms.
(b) Authorize for trial use throughout this Church, as an alternative at any time or times to the established Book of Common Prayer or to any section or Office thereof, a proposed revision of the whole Book or of any portion thereof, duly undertaken by the General Convention.
And Provided, that nothing in this Article shall be construed as restricting the authority of the Bishops of this Church to take such order as may be permitted by the Rubrics of the Book of Common
Prayer or by the Canons of the General Convention for the use of special forms of worship.

Posted by: andrewdb on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 12:16am BST

My understanding, from a distance as I am not at General Convention, is the SSB liturgy is not (and never was intended as) a revision of the BCP. Indeed, by its terms the resolution A049 says use of this liturgy is subject to the local Ordinary's approval and so does not meet the requirement that the BCP "shall be in use in all the Diocese of this Church." The change in the resolution was thus made to ensure there was no confusion that this was a BCP change.

Posted by: andrewdb on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 12:23am BST

"Far from the zenith of heavenly Zion, this 'liturgy' represents the nadir of contempt for Holy Writ."

Had David been arguing here all, with the Bishop of Milwaukee, that marriage is the only appropriate rite for the blessing of monogamous, exclusive conjugal relationships in the Christian church, I might be able to take it seriously. As it is, the notion that same-sex blessings engender promiscuity more than _un_blessed unions is something I can only see as being neither flesh nor fowl. If you think that same-gender unions fall short of God's design, fair enough. If you think not blessing them will bring us closer to said design, you're living in cloud-cuckoo land.

How is that people can call themselves "conservative" even as they argue, not that marriage should be the sole form of family life, but that some people should, in essence, be left to make up sexual ethics on their own? "Conservatives" love to portray LGB folk as being on the side of "permissiveness" even when we are begging to be held to the _same_ sacrificial standard as all Christians! No, not conservative: "Because you are neither hot not cold I will spit you out!"

Posted by: Geoff on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 4:25am BST

@ cseitz >> Conservative also means 'in a fellowship of saints' who have gone before and who have helped order our life of Common Prayer and Worship, where we await the Coming of our Lord in love and hope.

And the southern Methodist church split off in 1844 because they were conservative and believed in slavery, and *awaited* 95 years to reunite with the Methodist church in the north. And to kinda admit they mighta be wrong.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 4:55am BST

I note that not one of the dissenting bishops is a woman.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 5:11am BST

cseitz, and what sort of majority was required to authorize the supplemental liturgical materials like the "Enriching Our Worship" series? The majority of all bishops that you describe? I doubt it, since they were last authorized in 2009, unless, of course, you wish us to believe that none of those liturgical supplements can legitimately be used in TEC. If you look, I think you'll find that the provisions for trial-use liturgies refers to liturgies created as part of a prayer book revision (or at least has only been used in the prayer book revision process), while supplemental liturgical material (which can only be used in somewhat more limited circumstances) has to meet a much lower standard in order to become authorized.

Posted by: Jon on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 5:50am BST

The usual suspects raise the usual dire warnings and spin, because, when you get down to it, they hate gays. That's still what it's about, wrapped in pretty words pretending to be pastoral concern. The whinging cry of "How can you be so cruel to your *brethren*!" never concerns them when it is their cruelty.

Hollow, sad, pointless conversing with them. Let the dead bury the dead.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 6:11am BST

Heaven above, the Holy Spirit is being banded about as if it is something bought from an off- licence. The result of this decision of the American Episcopal Church will be more significent defections to other denominations, not necessarily Rome, and many of them young married people. Already the TEC is a ghost of itself and it will soon be a wraith. But the reality is that for some time a significant number of Episcopalian parishes (some with openly lesbian incumbents) have been performing same-sex marriages without let or hindrance. For example, Google Emmanuel, Boston, and read its website in full. They even perform marriages for Jewish gays!.

Posted by: John Bowles on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 11:09am BST

So, as I understand it then, the provisional rite is not a revision (even a trial revision) of the BCP, but merely a supplement to it, on the order of the "Enriching Our Worship" materials.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 11:20am BST

Many of the comments here demonstrate why we should cut ties with the CofE and establish a TEC mission to provide for those who are not pastorally-supported by their church. Again, let the dead bury the dead.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 11:40am BST

Thanks for the good news John Bowles. So encouraging to know that Jewish couples have been included - and why ever not. Same as Jesus.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 11:54am BST

@ David Shepherd: Perhaps our contempt for "holy writ" would be mitigated if we resumed the wholesome practices of stoning adulterers (the implicated females only, of course) and killing children who smart-mouth their fathers. Then we could move on to genocide of nations and peoples whose religion disagrees with ours - just as the god of the book of Numbers commanded Israel to do. The whole Christian church could be edified by the Episcopal Church's witness to the entire catalog of BronzeAge morality--not just that pertaining to condemnation of persons of the same sex who fall in love and build lives together of mutual sacrifice.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 12:01pm BST

I find it sad that 'Christians' should be so against the blessing of loving, stable, monogamous couple relationships. are they not preferable to serial and promiscuous relationships? The Bible seems - at least in the New Testament - to tell us that Love casts out fear. Now who exactly is afraid here?

It was lovely hearing the prophet Hosea at Mass this morning. God is Good! - forgiving and loving.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 12:04pm BST

Daniel

I guess for some, what you descibe as bronze age morality, reflect the very real, immutable ways of the living God, reflecting His Holy character, rather than a cultural tradition - which changes with the ways of the world.

The New Testament - self-declared as inspired by God Himself - certainly doesnt endorse the stoning of adulterers, but rather calls for them to repent and live. However the New Testament still clearly teaches the ways of the flesh shall lead to death.

Posted by: David Wilson on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 12:44pm BST

I actually agree with the 12 dissenting bishops at the convention. This IS marriage by another name. We should come clean as a church and embrace these rites for what they are instead of trying to distance ourselves from same sex marriage for the sake of political expediency. We certainly haven't fooled or appeased the opponents of marriage equality, and we've not earned any credibility with the gay community. Half measures never work.

Posted by: Counterlight on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 1:15pm BST

Pat -- the Art. X is now before you.

"by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops" = 305.

Insufficient numbers to pass a trial rite.

A 'provisional rite' was proposed instead. Art. X makes clear that any rite must still conform to BCP rubrics. Supplemental rites included.

Of course, this is what I already said in the first comment.

BCP and Art. X clearly envision no rite that is not in conformity with the constitutional BCP. They may be supplemental. They cannot be sui generis.

"I accept that those in favor of these rites don't care about that or disagree with it. But the fact remains that for many Bishops and Dioceses this new rite is not only not to be used but is constitutionally questionable."

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 1:20pm BST

Geoff:

'the notion that same-sex blessings engender promiscuity more than _un_blessed unions is something I can only see as being neither flesh nor fowl.'

I agree. Minor issue, though, I didn't actually claim that inordinately more promiscuity would result from same-sex liturgy. I merely declared the innovation to be the worst example of contempt for Holy Writ. In the end, contempt is, well, just contempt, no more and no less. (That's hardly a scare tactic, JCF).

'but that some people should, in essence, be left to make up sexual ethics on their own'.

Therefore, the idea behind this move is to affirm (bless) the sexual ethics that they've already made up, rather than leave them to their own devices. A very shrewd capitulation. It might even thwart the defection of LGBT anglicans to more other denominations. Let's sell the family silver to prevent a mass exodus.

A nice idea to bring the fire of mutual devotion and commitment before the Lord. A pity that 'Tainted Love' is no less 'strange fire' than that offered in the tabernacle by Aaron's sons.

Daniel:
Holy Writ extends beyond the sanctions of your references to Old Testament martial law that you employ to bolster your argument.

Beyond the Old Testament theocracy, there remain several New Testament prohibitions established by the apostolic tradition and committed to scripture that the church would have adhered to without having to resort to the Old Testament penalties that you've cited.

Of course, you can claim is that reason (read, obdurate rationalisation) trumps scripture and tradition, thereby toppling Richard Hooker's three-legged stool. TEC becomes an episcopal order unhinged from apostolic authority.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 2:03pm BST

Mr Randal:

There is surely a distinction between saying that those who formulated constitutional order were wrong and the hard work is now before us to correct the constitution and its understanding (processes to undertake this exist); and saying, let’s ignore what was said, or say it doesn’t matter now that we believe something else.

So, e.g., The House of Deputies appeared to have passed a resolution on Communion without Baptism that included an option for discretion manifestly at odds with the C/C. So the HOB, seeing that, eliminated the discretionary clause as out of order. The logic of the HOD was apparently that the C/C didn’t exist or was wrong or could be ignored. The HOB properly saw that it could not go along with this, just as they saw that a ‘trial rite’ was not going to be possible constitutionally.

The question however is whether a provisional rite was consistent with Art X and its restrictions due to the rubrics of the BCP. Concerns like this are not illegitimate. They belong to the very heart of Christian order and what it means to honor what was intended by those who came before us. If you want to say they were wrong, then do the hard work of changing the C/C.

Jon, something other than a 'trial rite' does not require a majority of all bishops (305). But Art X indicates clearly that it cannot be opposed to the BCP rubrics. Kindly read what I wrote in my very first note. I stated it with care.

"The only way this rite is in conformity with the rubrics of the BCP is by thinking about it as something sui generis -- but Art X and the BCP were crafted so as to comprehend and order all the rites of the church. So there is now an obvious question mark over the status of the constitutional Art X and BCP."

Counterlight is closer to the truth of the matter. He believes this is "marriage by another name." That "marriage by another name" requires the hard work of BCP revision is apparently irrelevant. That is the difference between having a constitution and canons and allowing whatever is now required free reign for development. TEC is unsure what it wants to be or do on this front. I suspect this is the collision between politics and constitution.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 6:41pm BST

cseitz:

Where in the rubrics of the BCP is it forbidden to bless a non-marital relationship? Is it forbidden to bless my relationship with my siblings? Or with my children? Or with my neighbors in a block association?

Surely, if the rubrics permit the blessings of pets, jewelry (wedding rings), and even military vessels, they permit the blessing of human relationships.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:04pm BST

“Already the TEC is a ghost of itself and it will soon be a wraith.”

The Episcopal church I attend in Seattle is growing, and the vigor, involvement and devoted donation of time by our Search Committee and our vestry are amazing and energizing – as is the quality of applicants we have had from all over the US.

AND we are a very progressive community. I have spoken with a number of younger members who come to us because we have long been outspoken in acceptance and full inclusion of GLBT persons – and stance strongly supported by even our oldest members.

Several Sundays ago we heard in a sermon that Equal right for LGBT persons is the civil rights issue of out time. One couple left. The rest of us are still talking about how energizing this was to hear, and experience has shown that proclaim the good news of total inclusion will continue to bring in young people who have no use for exclusion, “business as usual” and die-hard conservative attitudes (I should note that we have and rejoice in a vigorous conservative liturgical tradition… ).

So, yes, some will leave. But TEC is playing a prophetic role, and in the end, it is those who bar the doors of our churches to LGBT persons who will join the wraiths. Nothing will separate us from the love of God – not even our radical hospitality in welcoming the outcast and the despised.

Posted by: Nat on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:11pm BST

Mr Shepherd, many many times in our history have reason (or you may call it obdurate rationalisation if you like) have been allowed to "trump scripture and tradition." And it's a damn good job for all of us that it has done so. Plenty can be found in both Scripture and Tradition that, I hope, horrifies the hearts of all decent people. In any event, the modern secular state has moved Western society away from much Bronze Age barbarities--no thanks to the Church or any other religious "scripture and tradition" I'm able to identify.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:21pm BST

I do not regard your writings as 'holy writ' David Shepherd. So sorry but there we are.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:21pm BST

This is the logical development of what happened at the 1930 lambeth Conference, when Anglicanism affirmed contraception, and stated that sex did not have to be open to the tansmission of life.

That is why some of us are grateful for the guiding hand of the Catholic Church and her Magisterium.

If you don't like the Synodical democratic system of Anglicanism, please have the integrity to leave.Stop thinking of the endowments.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:38pm BST

David Shepherd: a quick question that is quite relevant. You have avoided my questions in the past but please do answer this one. Have you ever donated or received blood transfusions, or eaten sausage? Very simple question. As an arbiter of what is and is not Christian have you done any of the above?

And I look forward to how you will spin the related passages in Acts to not apply to your literalist interpretation. But before that are you free of the above behaviors?

Posted by: Dennis in Chicago on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 8:52pm BST

Dear Ms O'Neill,

Kindly look at Page 13 of the BCP where we are told what rites are permitted. What was passed at GC was an official rite of the church. I don't believe GC has passed an official rite for blessing neighbours in a block association. You can correct me about that, as you seek to do previously with comments like those in your first response.

I cannot see how Art. X's regulatory concerns -- which are so obvious -- would anticipate the development of a rite which in every way imitates marriage except in name, and for which the rubrics are clear.

The simplest thing to do, and the most obvious thing, is to change the constitution and revise the BCP. I'm surprized proponents of SSBs accepted such an obvious contrivance. The obvious answer I suppose is that it is easier to ignore the C/C and the BCP, or finesse them, for the time being. I still think the more straightforward approach is more honest: revise the BCP and Art. X both.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 10:34pm BST

When opponents of same-sex blessings on the grounds of "holy writ" become equally adamant opponents of divorce after remarriage on the grounds of "holy writ," I will listen to what they say. Otherwise, it's just picking and choosing Bible verses with a dash of intellectual dishonesty and a smidgen of theological incoherence thrown in.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 1:01am BST

I always find it remarkable that the detractors of the Episcopal Church always fall back on the "might makes right" argument.

Exxon-Mobil is the most powerful and most profitable corporation in all of history. It is far larger, more influential, wealthier, and affects more people than any church ever will. The governments of the United States, the UK, and several other countries are on its payroll. Heads of state and legislators around the world are eager to curry its favor. The Roman Catholic Church in all its power and glory is but an antique bauble in comparison.

Our outfit was founded by a young man from the lower end of the working class who left behind his family and the family business, wandered around homeless and dependent on the charity of other people. He probably didn't own a change of clothes. The religious authorities of the day condemned him for blasphemy. The Roman colonial authorities executed Him as a minor political troublemaker who challenged the Emperor's authority by claiming to be a king. His followers scattered in despair. Killing Him was more cost-effective than keeping him alive in prison.

Not my idea of a young achiever.

Posted by: Counterlight on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 1:22am BST

Dennis:
No need for spin when St. Paul speaks explicitly regarding ritual food prohibitions. This is an explicit progression from the Noahide prohibitions established by the Jerusalem council in Acts. Love sausages (with brown sauce, please!)

'As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.' (Roman 14:14) This specifically relates to Jewish food regulations, as does the following:

'So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.' (Col:2:16)

Strangely, there is no explicit, or implied change in the apostolic position regarding homosexuality. St. Paul does enjoin those disciples who considered themselves entitled to freedom to avoid conduct that might hamper the spiritual progress of those who they considered to have less resilient consciences.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 1:24am BST

"However the New Testament still clearly teaches the ways of the flesh shall lead to death."

Posted by: David Wilson on Thursday, 12 July 2012

The reality is that all flesh shall die. That was the reason that even Jesus Had To Die, and be raised in a form that was different from his former body - so much so that he wasn't recognised by his closest disciples, not even Mary Magdalene!

The ways of the flesh are death - no dispute here. and there presumably will be no problem with bodily passions in the next world! It is only the Spirit that is eternal, thank God.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 10:29am BST

Cseitz:

As I believe I have noted to you before, I am MR. O'Neill.

And, no, there is no "official" rite for blessing block associations, or even for blessing pets. OTOH, there is no official rite for blessing a birthday, yet my rector weekly calls those who will be celebrating such events to the altar and blesses them.

Is your objection to the idea of one rite for the entire church to use in this matter (as one who puts so much emphasis on "common prayer" I would think you would support such a measure), or to the idea of such a blessing at all?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 11:32am BST

I never like arguments e silencio, and David's one tends a little that way. It's hard to reconstruct the apostolic and sub-apostolic church, when all's said and done, and one observation on David's point about the food regulations may be worth making: that the issue of the observance or non-observance of Jewish ritual law affected each and every member of the fledgling Jesus movement. Some sort of accommodation had to be reached with great urgency. Sex wasn't that important, bluntly.

And perhaps it's not surprising that sexual law doesn't feature that greatly within the apostolic teaching: after all, the Pauline drift seems to be towards celibacy and abstinence in the face of the impending parousia - if you're only 'giving it up' for a matter of a few weeks to concentrate on more important things, you're not likely to say a lot about it, except when things are going horribly wrong, as in the Corinthian community.

Posted by: david rowett on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 11:32am BST

"No need for spin when St. Paul speaks explicitly regarding ritual food prohibitions. This is an explicit progression from the Noahide prohibitions established by the Jerusalem council in Acts. Love sausages (with brown sauce, please!)"

But wasn't Paul then simply one man speaking for himself? And the Jerusalem council speaking for the church as a whole?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 11:35am BST

'But wasn't Paul then simply one man speaking for himself? And the Jerusalem council speaking for the church as a whole?'

This is a valid question. For instance, when he insisted the continuing validity of marriages solemnised before coming to faith, Paul was quick to distinguish his inferences from a direct prophetic revelation from Christ: 'To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord):' (1 Cor. 7:12)

By prefacing his remarks with: 'As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself', St. Paul establishes our freedom from Jewish dietary restrictions with apostolic authority.

The Jeruslem Council's position was a diplomatic solution that alleviated the imposition of onerous Jewish ritual purification on Gentiles, while avoiding unnecessary immediate offence to Jews.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 2:01pm BST

Mr Shepherd, The word "homosexuality" did not exist until the mid-19th Century. Do you think that fact may have some relevance to this discussion?

Whatever you may think--or think you know--about "homosexuality," biblical scholars are quite clear about one thing: the word is not a satisfactory translation of the terms cited when referencing the book of Leviticus or Paul's concern with temple prostitutes.

As to "holy writ," the idea (or its like) is a figment of the imagination of religious power-guys seeking to manipulate the credulous--not a practice that exactly comments your use of the literature we're discussing.

But do you or do you not believe in the literal verbal inspiration of the biblical material? Do you believe its cosmology? Its geology? Its social-critical perspective? Do you believe the Torah is history? If your answer to any of these questions is "yes," then I won't even bother to ask you why we should believe its perspective on the behavioral sciences. If your answer is "no," then you still have a lot of unpacking to do.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 2:56pm BST

Mr O'Neill

You appear to ask me simply to repeat myself. Can a rite that is meant to look like marriage in everything but name be passed by GC and released to the Church for use if Art. X does not permit such things? The answer is No.

If the question is, are the C/C of TEC now on the order of batteries that in time wind down, or if they prove cumbersome can otherwise be ignored? I
certainly think the answer to that is Yes.

Apologies for getting your gender confused. There is that theme again.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 5:40pm BST

"By prefacing his remarks with: 'As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself', St. Paul establishes our freedom from Jewish dietary restrictions with apostolic authority."

But Paul's authority comes entirely from himself, really. He is the one who declares himself an apostle; he is not chosen by the ones whom Christ chose.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 7:36pm BST

Daniel:

While the word 'homosexual' may have a relatively modern etymology, the New Testament scripture condemns same-sex copulation (that can only be described as homosexual) as incongruous with God's purposes and without resorting to your self-excusing distinctions.

If it was any other aspect of human behaviour, you would have no problem in dismissing such an exemption as a self-serving indulgence. Dr. Primrose goes that far in comparing those who support the re-marriage of the divorced. On that basis, your semantic distinction is no more than a special pleading.

Tell me the ground, apart from the Torah and the prophets, upon which the church teaches that an itinerant first-century preacher from Nazareth is indeed the eternal Son of the living God? Where do we find scientific evidence of His pre-existence before all worlds?

If the apostles reached conclusions about His deity from philosophical ideas and personal insight (and apart from the Torah and N'vim), why did they take pains to refer repeatedly to the written words of those prophets as foretelling His passion, victory over death and indicating our own path to salvation?

So, is Christ's victory over the limitations of my mortality literal or just a figurative expression of positive thinking? I believe it's literal. Did the Son of the living God and Maker of all things truly become man and inhabit a human body, one that before resurrection was as frail as my own and is now eternal? I believe He did.

If that's too literal for you, then so be it. If that's not entirely compatible with first-century Hellenism or 21st century scientific and political thought, so be it. Perhaps, others here can join you in publicly deriding such a 'gullible' acceptance of Jesus as the Christ.

Given the status accorded by the apostles to the scripture that undergirds these teachings, I'm surprised that you can selectively dismiss those bits that challenge your own conduct and still manage to call yourself a Christian.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 8:09pm BST

Pat:

The other apostles did not choose Paul, neither did they appoint themselves. An apostle is personally chosen and commissioned by Christ himself.

St. Peter did accord recognition to St. Paul's writings as apostolic, placing them on par with earlier prophetic scripture: 'As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.' (2 Pet. 3:16)

Much of the church's underpinning doctrine is derived from revelation communicated by St. Paul's in scripture. If you set at nought St. Paul's apostolic credentials, the church becomes, ipso facto, the fruit of the poisonous tree: 'if the source of the evidence (the "tree") is tainted, then anything gained from it (the "fruit") is tainted as well.' By that logic, you must set at nought the entire church, as you believe it to be founded upon tainted evidence.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 8:31pm BST

So, basically, cseitz, as long as those in authority are prepared to maintain that the rite isn't marriage (even if the claim is implausible)it's legitimately passed? Or are you somehow the Supreme Court of TEC that you get to enforceably rule on what distinctions are and are not legitimate?

There are even a few points at least slightly in favor of it not being a marriage rite. First, the committee that drafted the rite consistently maintained that they were not permitted to consider marriage in reflecting on what the blessing should look like or on what the underlying theology should be. Second, IIRC, the final rite doesn't come with permission to use it for opposite-sex couples even though such couples obviously generally can marry.

Posted by: Jon on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 9:02pm BST

"excluding retired bishops not present." Article X

One of the referenced rubrics of the BCP (page 13) provides,

"In addition to [the Daily Office and Holy Eucharist] and the other rites contained in this Book, other forms set forth by authority within this Church may be used."

The rubric also provides that Bishops may authorize liturgies for occasions for which the BCP makes no provision.

The SCLM has crafted a liturgy, that, by the authority of the General Convention, bishops are free to allow, or not, as they choose.

The proposed rites are fully constitutional and in accord with the rubrics of the BCP.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 10:20pm BST

You have cited the wrong section of Art. X. That voting procedure is for BCP revision (which requires two conventions). For other rites (trial rites) the procedure is "by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops." That total number is 305.

This was a point of discussion in the HOB. That is partly why the language of 'provisional rite' was dreamed up. You may consult the record.

Art X is clear that a rite must conform to BCP rubrics. Neither BCP nor Art X envisage rites being created that parallel so closely one that exists, for which the rubrics are clear.

"The rubric also provides that Bishops may authorize liturgies for occasions for which the BCP makes no provision."

This is therefore irrelevant in respect of a rite resolved at GC.

Jon, re: "the rite isn't marriage (even if the claim is implausible)it's legitimately passed."

I suspect that says it all.


Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 11:33pm BST

BCP 13 states that other forms may be authorized by “authority within this church.” Art. X indicates what that authority is. There are two such authorities: i) GC can amend the BCP and adopt trial rites “throughout the church”; ii) bishops can authorize special forms in accordance with BCP rubrics or GC canons.

GC did not do either of the things it is authorized to do. Therefore, its resolution on this subject has no more legal relevance than the resolution it passed on clean airports.

But that is not the end of the question. The real issue is whether bishops have the constitutional authority to authorize this rite under Art. X. One view--it is the one I share--is that the BCP rubrics must be interpreted as a whole so as not to be inconsistent, i.e., BCP 13 does not permit bishops to act contrary to other rubrics, but only to supplement.

So, to the extent this new rite is used in connection with something deemed a “marriage” or the blessing of a civil marriage, it is prohibited by Art. X and BCP rubrics.

We will probably see more discussion of all this in the days to come. What GC has done is arguably unforeseen by the framers of BCP or the Constitution. This means we enter a realm of dispute. Conservative Bishops will not exercise the putative authority given to them in this matter so the burden will not be on them.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 13 July 2012 at 11:44pm BST

Jon, I think the question is what you mean by 'those in authority.'

Obviously the GC must operate under the authority of the Constitution. So if your question is, is it possible for GC to resolve things or pass canons that are unconstitutional, the answer is Yes.

A good example is the recently passed C049. It is very clear that canon law experts judge Title IV to be in violation of the Constitution of TEC. Therefore C049 calls for a sustained review. I cannot copy and paste from the PDF issued today, but you can easily find it. The point is, GC can issue resolutions and canons that prove to be in violation of the Constitution. Title IV has been so judged.

My judgment is that the 'provisional rites' will likewise be subject to legal questioning at a wide range of areas. Just as Title IV has been.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 12:04am BST

Nothing will separate us from the love of God – not even our radical hospitality in welcoming the outcast and the despised.

Posted by: Nat on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 7:11pm

This sounds like the Full Gospel to me, at least. It's a pity that David shepherd seems more intent on finding excuses for exclusion of the marginalised.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 1:13am BST

"The other apostles did not choose Paul, neither did they appoint themselves. An apostle is personally chosen and commissioned by Christ himself."

But we have only Paul's testimony as to that comission. No one else was present on the road to Damascus (as opposed to the callings of most of the Twelve, which were witnessed by others of their group).

And, yes, I am very bothered by the amount of "the church's underpinning doctrine" being determined solely by Paul's writing...especially when that writing seems to contradict the words of Jesus himself.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 3:19am BST

Oh, and I should have added:

"Especially, too, when much of those writings cannot even be definitively attributed to Paul."


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 3:20am BST

Pat:

You claim that your main reason for questioning the authenticity of St.Paul's apostolic calling is its lack of corroboration by other apostles.

Yet, we do know from Acts 15 that Paul's apostolic calling was affirmed by the other apostles. The Jerusalem Council unanimously endorsed His ministry towards the Gentiles. Paul explains, 'James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.' (Gal. 2:9)

St.Peter also corroborates the validity of Paul's writings as on par with scripture (2 Pet. 3:16). So, you may as well call St.Peter's testimony into question. Yet, if part of the united testimony of Christ's chosen eye-witnesses is not credible, how can we trust any of it as a basis for understanding who Christ is?

More to the point at issue, it would seem that your position is no more than an attempt to nullify the authority of those epistles because, absent those writings, you could assert that NT scripture tacitly treats same-sex copulation as morally neutral.

Unfortunately, the Petrine corroboration of St.Paul, together with Luke's testimony of his endorsement by the Jerusalem Council means you'd have to impugn the testimony of chosen apostolic eye-witnesses to Christ's resurrection.

We're back to the ecclesiastical equivalent of relying on the outcome of tainted testimony, the 'fruit of the poisoned tree'!

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 10:59am BST

I'm not sure, David (S) that basing an argument for Paul's acceptance by the Jerusalem mission on what Luke writes (post-AD70, Gentile, massager of what Paul himself writes about relationships with the Jerusalem apostles) or on II Peter (slow to gain acceptance in the Early Church, regarded as secondary from an early date, questioned by Calvin and Luther as possibly 'inauthentic') advances the discussion very far. It seems to me to be perfectly legitimate even on conservative Biblical Critical premises, to ask questions about the 'reliability' of the sources you cite.

Half of our problem is that we can't even agree on a hermeneutic in the Church - or perhaps, rather that our tripodalism has become so extreme in all camps that we can no longer talk meaningfully to one another. Or as someone put it so beautifully recently, 'the CofE is made up of three groups, one of which seeks to complete the work of the Reformation, one of which seeks to complete the work of the Counter-Reformation, and the third of which seeks to complete the work of the Enlightenment.' (I wish I'd said that!) And we've forgotten how to talk across those presuppositions.

Posted by: david rowett on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 12:58pm BST

The bulk of Article X refers to alterations of and additions to the Book of Common Prayer. The explicit proviso at the end of the Article allows the Bishops to take order for other forms in accordance with the rubrics -- the principle of which is the rubric I cited, which deals with the question of additional rites directly. This includes the Book of Occasional Services, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and more recent supplementary liturgical material such as those in the Enriching our Worship series. It also includes the liturgy approved at this past Convention by an overwhelming majority in both Houses, for the blessing of a life-long covenant. This liturgy is not in conflict with the BCP, any more than a liturgy for the blessing of a battleship would be. The fact that the BCP does not refer to such blessings is not in itself a limiting factor, nor does this blessing liturgy in any way conflict with or alter the forms in the BCP. It is a supplemental rite making provision for something the BCP does not address -- which is the nature of a supplement. By Constitutional definition, the limit upon authorized rites is respected, and with the proviso of local episcopal approval, these rites may be used as of authority in this church, equally as much as the rites I have enumerated above. Some bishops will decline or refuse to permit the use of this new rite -- this is what renders it provisional, and they will be within their competence to act in this way.

Questions of constitutionality have been referred to the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons. In the past they have been reluctant to rule on Constitutionality as beyond the ambit of their role, but in accordance with Canon I.1.2.n.3.v have by resolution C116 been charged to take up the question. The opinions of canon lawyers (and others) on both sides will no doubt be considered in their deliberations.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 2:29pm BST

The portion of Article X referring to trial use is for trial use of a alternative to the BCP, or section or office in it, or a revision of the whole. The rites approved at this past Convention are not any of these things, but a supplemental rite. Article X is inapplicable except in its closing provisional section.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 2:39pm BST

For avoidance of doubt:

Are you saying that Bishops have straightfoward constitutional authority to allow the provisional rite drawn up at GC to be used for the blessing of ss couples *who have had a civil marriage*?

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 6:02pm BST

C049 reads:

“It has been noted by a number of various experts in Canon Law throughout The Episcopal Church that there are various clauses within the latest version of Title IV which appear to be in violation of the provisions of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church.”

Therefore C049 calls for a “comprehensive review.” The goal is to “bring them into clearer compliance with the Constitution of The Episcopal
Church.”

If the question is, could the same be true of ‘provisional rites’ and their authorization by Bishops of this church, especially but not exclusively in regions where civil marriage is allowed (thus making them apply to marriage as such; in conflict with BCP rubrics), the answer is Yes. The only open question is their authorization where civil marriage does not exist. A review of these cases would likely also be in order.

Of course none of this would apply to Bishops who decline to involve themselves in the ‘provisional rite.’ By refusing to allow them to be used, the question of compliance with Art. X is rendered moot.

One might rightly wonder if a knock-on effect of things like ‘provisional rites’ is the underscoring of the diocesan character of TEC. But that is another topic. I doubt the concern for expediting this carried with it long-range thinking about polity implications.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 6:41pm BST

"you could assert that NT scripture tacitly treats same-sex copulation as morally neutral."

I assert that, lacking an understanding of ***homosexual orientation***, what the NT says about "same-sex copulation" (really?) is IRRELEVANT.

"The Bible Has the Answer to Every Question!" tract-type claim is *not* Anglican.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 8:41pm BST

"Are you saying that Bishops have straightfoward constitutional authority to allow the provisional rite drawn up at GC to be used for the blessing of ss couples *who have had a civil marriage*?"

Yes. Because they are not blessing the *marriage*, they are blessing the relationship between the two people, exactly as the title of the provisional rite says.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 10:34pm BST

"Article X is inapplicable except in its closing provisional section."

As it turned out this is correct.

1. Article X has a section on 'trial rites'
2. a 'trial rite' was proposed
3. the part of Art. X that speaks of voting procedures for trial rites does not exclude retired bishops, but of the entirety of the HOB -- hence my disagreement above with your statement
4. it was proposed to void the language of 'trial rite' and speak instead of a 'provisional rite'
5. as you properly, Art X regulates all rites by requiring that they conform with the rubrics of Art. X
6. A bishop who allowed the rite to be used for civilly married couples would be therefore in violation of Art X.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at 10:52pm BST

CRSeitz, you quote the explanation to C049, which has no legal standing. See Resolution C116 which addresses these issues. See also the revised C049, which does not address constitutional issues. (Nor did the original; one of the reasons the Canons Committee urged instead the adoption of C116, with C049 as the omnibus of items for further study, except constitutionality.)

There is no question of constitutionality of the provisional rites because they are not alternatives or additions to the BCP.

Trial use was approved for the 1997 Supplemental Liturgical Texts because they were alternative forms of Office and Eucharist. There was no "trial use" of the Book of Occasional Services, or its predecessors from 1916, or later volumes of Enriching our Worship as they are neither additions to the BCP (they are not bound with it) nor alternatives to it (they do not replace any BCP rite.) All have been issued subject to discretion of the diocesan. There is nothing new here.

The present rite is not an alternative to any rite in the BCP. Nor is it an addition to the BCP.

The blessing of a civilly married mixed-sex couple is provided for in the BCP. There is no such provision for a same-sex couple in the BCP. The provisional rite provides for such an occasion, so if I understand your question the answer is Yes. There is an open question as to whether the provisional rite can "confect" a marriage that would be civilly recognized, in those places with same-sex marriage. But that is a civil question. The provisional rite is not "billed" as marriage. If the civil authority chooses to recognize it as such, that is civilian business.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 12:36am BST

Sam Norton (https://plus.google.com/101268968303049407900/posts ), moderator of the blog http://http://elizaphanian.blogspot.ca/, wrote yesterday, "It seems to me that both sides are seeking an outcome which disfellowships the other - that is what is at stake - and being clear about that might paradoxically allow for a more spirit-led solution." (http://elizaphanian.blogspot.ca/2012/07/the-dying-of-church-is-not-management.html?showComment=1342264063889#c5535921942831612932)

I think he's right. Those who approved and disapproved of slavery could not live together in the same church. We've discussed everything back and forth; the church is moving forward; and it's time to acknowledge that just as in the American Civil War, not even part of the church is going to be able to make the journey in this century (the southern Methodist church left because of slavery and did not re-unite until the 20th century) and move on.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 8:14am BST

"The blessing of a civilly married mixed-sex couple is provided for in the BCP. There is no such provision for a same-sex couple in the BCP. The provisional rite provides for such an occasion, so if I understand your question the answer is Yes."

Except that a blessing rite for civilly married couples exists because the BCP has a marriage service. The BCP as no marriage service for same-sex couples.

A Bishop's authority is grounded in the Constitution on this matter. Not in GC tinkering.

I think we need to be pause and acknowledge what we've got here.

A rite has been dreamed up that seeks to imitate in every conceivable way a marriage rite. It stops short only because of political realities. In order to move forward a 'trial rite' became a 'provisional rite.' In everything but name, the marriage service of the BCP has been adapted for a same-sex couples. Is this in doubt? No. Indeed, the very goal of the proponents of SSBs is a marriage rite, and one has heard objections that this one is contrivance. I agree with that view.

The point is *there is not a single supplemental rite ever concocted that has this particular DNA.* To seek to range it alongside all other supplements is inaccurate and, for liberal proponents, ought to be a touch offensive. No it is a 'politically required expedience rite' en route, so it is hoped, to a full fledged BCP marriage service. One had hoped to call it a 'trial rite' so as to make that clear and the only thing getting in the way was lack of votes in accordance with Art. X.

To the degree it is a politically required expedience rite seeking to imitate a marriage rite, it is not like supplemental rites. Supplemental rites must be in conformity with the rubrics of the BCP. This rite pretends they do not exist for this specific instance.

Bishops who decline to use the rite have also on their side the dubious character of the rite as constitutionally sound.

The intriguing thing, in the light of all this, is where does the SSBs movement now go? It has created a sui generis 'supplemental rite'. It claims it is not a 'trial rite'. This cannot be a desired outcome. But it must try to fig leaf the BCP constitutionality matter and so this is what has been 'confected.' To the degree it gets close to its real goal, it runs into constitutional constraints. To the degree is seeks to avoid them, it creates an second-place imitation. Is the idea now to go through two conventions and create a new BCP rite? 2018 is a long way away. Who knows what the state of TEC will be in 2-3 years, much less another six. Are SSB proponents content to wait six years for a marriage rite?

This provisional rite is not just another supplemental rite. It targets a single constituency and none other, and it does so as a politically necessary expedience. I can think of no other rite like it, on its own face and with its own (short-term) objective.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 2:33pm BST

I quoted the explanation for C049 simply because it is clear. Are you charging that the summary is inaccurate?

As for C116, it is even clearer. It requests review of Title IV in respect of constitutionality and the role of the PB.

Title IV as written in 2009 was in need of review and amendment. Its constitutionality and other matters were in doubt.

GC is under the authority of the Constitution. That principle is clear.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 3:18pm BST

"This provisional rite is not just another supplemental rite. It targets a single constituency..."

I don't care for the rite, personally. But in its targeting "a single constituency," how is it any different from the marriage service?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Sunday, 15 July 2012 at 11:37pm BST

Whatever the wording of the rite in question, it clearly exists as supplemental to the BCP, not as a substitution or revision. As such, it is clearly in order with the rubrics and canons and constitution.

Your objection, cseitz, is to what it does, not what it is.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 12:20am BST

Mr Dilworth

The rite in the BCP is a constitutionally approved rite. It was agreed to by the Church and set the standard, consistent with these rites from the church's very beginning. Kindly read the rubrics introducing the rite. They are very clear. The 'target' is described in Genesis 1 and that text is read in the service.

The 'for-the-time-being-expedient-rite' (which you don't care for) is not a BCP rite. It is 'different' because it does not have either 'trial rite' or 'BCP rite' approval.

I see that handy access to the Title IV resolutions and all others is now available. C116 asks for a review of Title IV and questions the constitutionality of the role given to the PB vis-a-vis her fellow bishops. It questions whether the actions of 76th GC were constitutional in respect of the language of Title IV and queries the decision to move from the long-standing practice of 3 Senior Bishops needing to give a nihil obstat. This system was constitutionally sound.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 1:43pm BST

Mr D, PS -- could you point to a genuine supplemental rite that a) focuses on a single constituency only and b) seeks to imitate in every way possible a rite that is already in the BCP?

Mr. O'Neill, If a Bishop were to allow the rite to be used in the context of a marriage, then the Bishop would be not be 'in order' with the rubrics of the marriage service and that service itself.

"Your objection...is to what it does, not what it is." Actually, you have that backwards, but both/and is also accurate.


Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 1:51pm BST

CSeitz, I think you are misinterpreting the Constitution on this. The closing section of Article X does not require proposed supplemental rites to be in accord with the Rubrics of the BCP. This section is about providing for things that the Rubrics do not provide for in themselves --- for if they did so no action would be needed. Article X is about process, not content.

The Article requires that the *process* by which the Bishops "take order" for "special" (here understood as "supplements" rather than "alterations" or "additions" addressed in the earlier sections of the Article) be "allowed" by the Rubrics and Canons *governing that process*. "Permitted" modifies "take such order" and refers in the rest of the sentence to "the use of special forms of worship." The principal Rubric addressing this process is the second paragraph on page 13 of the BCP.

As with all resolutions on Liturgy, the House of Bishops is the House of Initial Action, and the Deputies concur or not. This is the process by which the Bishops "take order" for such supplemental liturgies at General Convention, as well as the more intensive actions of revision or amendment of the BCP.

I agree with Pat O'Neill concerning the actual rite in question. You are addressing issues of "agenda" and not the actual facts on the ground. Some wanted stronger action, others less, but this is what has been approved. The rite in question is not "same-sex marriage." Whether GC will ever approve of such is an open question. What has been provided is just what it asserts itself to be, and what was adopted by an overwhelming majority in both houses: a provision for blessing a life-long covenant between two persons of the same sex. That some of those couples may also be or have been married under civil law is not the business of the rite in question.

You might just as well argue that prayer for the safety of our troops constitutes approval of the decision to go to war.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 3:30pm BST

Dr Seitz, my question really didn't have anything to do with the constitutionality of the rite, and I confess utter ignorance concerning other trial or supplemental rites (unless the Anglican Service Book, which my parish uses, counts). But I am genuinely interested in how the constituency addressed figures into the discussion. The marriage service, no less than the SSB, addresses but a single constituency. Why is that allowable for the marriage service, but a mark against SSBs?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 4:17pm BST

To crseitz' question "could you point to a genuine supplemental rite that a) focuses on a single constituency only and b) seeks to imitate in every way possible a rite that is already in the BCP?" I would direct your attention to the liturgy "For the Burial of a Child" in Enriching Our Worship 2. There was such a rite in the 1928 BCP, but the revisers chose not to have a "special" liturgy of that form in the 1979 Book. I think this meets the criteria both (a) and (b). It is a true "supplement" as it provides an entire liturgy designed for a purpose not directly addressed in the BCP, for a particular class of persons, and it reflects the "regular" burial liturgy but amends most of it to render it appropriate to the special context.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 6:41pm BST

The 'provisional rite' seeks to imitate a rite that exists and it takes the precise form it does because it is hedged about by constitutional restrictions. Marriage is defined both in the BCP and in the Canons. So the 'provisional' rite seeks to imitate the BCP, but it must stand back from certain key elements.

Nothing about "For the Burial of a Child" is analogous.

The rite is a contrivance, in that it wants as much of marriage as is politically desired, but cannot get too close constitutionally.

It is a 'for the time being expedient rite.' I wonder if there is any other service concocted that purports to pronounce God's blessing but also says God's blessing exists only where a Bishop so decrees?

Mr D. It doesn't target a single constituency simpliciter. It targets a single constituency which happens to exist in a particular region where the Bishop decides to give permission. This isn't a supplemental rite. It is a rite for special places.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 8:01pm BST

"...nothing in this Article shall be construed as restricting the authority of the Bishops of this Church to take such order as may be permitted by the Rubrics of the Book of Common
Prayer or by the Canons of the General Convention for the use of special forms of worship."

The rubrics of the BCP and the Canons of GC have declared what marriage is. For a Bishop therefore to allow the rite to be used in the context of SS civil marriage would be to overstep Art. X.

What kind of rite purports to pronounce God's blessing in the Church but also is a creature of the Church which equally says that blessing is not possible or present somewhere else? What kind of bona fide supplemental rite is that?

Do SS couples really want a 'provisional blessing' from God?

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 8:08pm BST

"What kind of rite purports to pronounce God's blessing in the Church but also is a creature of the Church which equally says that blessing is not possible or present somewhere else?"

But the Church hasn't said that the blessing isn't possible or present in some places and is in others. It has said that use of the rite is dependent upon the bishop's permission. That truly does not seem like the same thing to me.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:54pm BST

"Do SS couples really want a 'provisional blessing' from God?

- Posted by: cseitz on Monday -

I'm pretty sure that many Christan Same-Gender Couples already experience God's Blessing - in their relationship. They might just like the Church to recognise the fact.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 2:12am BST

The 2012 GC went a long way toward clarifying in people's minds this insight:

"Short of a Constitutional amendment to make General Convention the supreme legislative and judicial authority in the Episcopal Church (USA), there is nothing that anyone in ECUSA can do about the right of Dioceses to judge for themselves the validity of acts of General Convention."

I believe it was Lincoln who said the best way to kill a bad law was to enforce it rigorously.

The review of Title IV (C116 and C049) is extremely useful in establishing the principle of constitutional authority in TEC, and its maintenance at the level of the Diocese, thus showing GC to be under authority of the Constitution and not a judicial branch and legislative branch rolled into one.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 2:22am BST

Just so I have your thoughts straight here, cseitz:

Are you saying that each diocese can decide FOR ITSELF whether something enacted by GC is constitutional, and thereby abide by it or not? And that there is nothing GC can do to enforce its enactment?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 2:55pm BST

Yes, but the rite is an acknowledgement that God can be called on to announce his blessing only where a Bishop has said this is OK. This has really nothing to do with the 'experience of God's blessing' in a prior sense. SS couples who 'experience God's blessing' in a region where the Bishop is unfavorable will find God unable to acknowledge it there. What kind of a rite of the Church functions in this way? My consistent point is that this differentiates this rite from other supplemental rites. This is a trial rite that became a provisional rite that those who wish to avail themselves of it want a marriage rite. Has anyone given any serious theological thought to what a 'provisional rite' blessing is? Does it exist for three years and then get updated? Can you move around with it to a diocese where these things don't happen. The danger is that it represents something on the order of a commodification of God's public blessing.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 3:04pm BST

The General Convention is the supreme legislative and judicial authority of The Episcopal Church. In our unitary form of church government, the General Convention alone creates and amends the Constitution and Canons, with no appeal to any other entity possible. As a system of governance this is plainly manifest in the documents themselves. This is not a federation or confederacy, but a unitary form of government. No "amendment" is required to make it so.

The Defense rests.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 3:17pm BST

"SS couples who 'experience God's blessing' in a region where the Bishop is unfavorable will find God unable to acknowledge it there."

What the...? Since when does any individual diocesan bishop speak for the Almighty? God will acknowledge what he chooses...whether the bishop in question agrees or not. The Episcopal Church in that jurisdiction may be "unable to acknowledge" God's blessing on same-sex couples...but even General Convention would not be so presumptuous to declare that its performing of a rite (or not) has anything to do with what God blesses (or not).

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 8:02pm BST

"Yes, but the rite is an acknowledgement that God can be called on to announce his blessing only where a Bishop has said this is OK...What kind of a rite of the Church functions in this way?"

Well, until Bishop Iker et al left, the Ordinal functioned in exactly the same way. Women could be ordained in most dioceses, but not where the bishop didn't allow it. Do you think that GC was therefore correct in enforcing women's ordination on all dioceses?

" SS couples who 'experience God's blessing' in a region where the Bishop is unfavorable will find God unable to acknowledge it there."

I've got a fairly high view of the priesthood, but it doesn't extend to believing that God's blessing is utterly dependent upon finding a cleric willing to pronounce it. Presumably the real ministers of this rite are, as in Matrimony, the couple, and the priest is there witness it and to give them the Church's blessing. The Spirit, on the other hand, blows where It wills.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 8:38pm BST

Mr. O'Neill

I am saying that it is empirically the case that GC can and has passed resolutions that are not constitutionally sound. Title IV is a good example. That is why it is under review. That is why certain dioceses refused to incorporate it, and we see now properly so.

Is this in doubt?

Is your question, can they be allowed to do this? the answer is, they did.

Arguably, 'provisional rites' -- leaving aside their sacramental logic -- are also GC inventions of dubious constitutional logic if a Bishop permitted them in the case of SS Marriage. But the GC has deferred whatever authority it has to Bishops and a non-BCP 'provisional rite.'

Fr Haller's statement is wordy, but it doesn't affect anything above as stated. Yes, it requires GC to change the Constitution. Unchanged, the Constitution is the law governing GC. That is why there is C116, which questions Title IV as passed by GC 2009 re: constitutionality of the role of PB. If GC wants to have a BCP rite for SS marriage, because it is now governed by the C/C, it would have to change these. It has not done so.

"This is not a federation or confederacy, but a unitary form of government." What in the world is a "unitary form of government?" Is this a form of government in which GC automatically passes constitutuional resolutions and canons? That would be handy.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 10:09pm BST

"Since when does any individual diocesan bishop speak for the Almighty?"

Alleluia. A break-through at last.

This is exactly what a provisional rite has contrived. It has purported to invoke the language of God Almighty in blessing, and yet is released on a Church with the explicit acknowledgment that the blessing will not be available or appropriate everywhere.

It will be up to the Bishop.

This is your provisional rite. And when a provisional blessing runs down, in a new state of affairs, does one do in for a top-off?

Mr D. If a blessing was sufficient as declared between two people simpliciter, there'd be no need for the 'provisional rite' at all.

I am not defending the rite nor the decision of GC. I don't believe they were carefully wrought, theologically. Here I agree with someone like +USC, no 'conservative.' When one wants a political 'inch at a time' one needs to be careful about what that inch looks like theologically.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:29pm BST

"the priest is there witness it and to give them the Church's blessing" -- except that not every Priest and not 'the Church's blessing' since the Church has contrived a rite that divides it into those regions able to give a blessing and those which cannot.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:34pm BST

I find it very sad that the ACI Bishops should have left the General Convention because of its openness to Same-Sex Blessings. I thought the Church was here specifically to bless that which God has created, and not to consign it to the Nether regions.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 12:29am BST

"I am saying that it is empirically the case that GC can and has passed resolutions that are not constitutionally sound. Title IV is a good example. That is why it is under review. That is why certain dioceses refused to incorporate it, and we see now properly so.

Is this in doubt?

Is your question, can they be allowed to do this? the answer is, they did. "

And, yesterday, the fast-food place on my block was robbed. Should the robbers have been allowed to do this? The answer is, they did.

I think you see my point.

As for your question, "What in the world is a "unitary form of government?"" It is one in which all the functions--legislature, executive and judiciary--exist in the same person or body. In the Episcopal Church, that body is General Convention.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:45am BST

Again, Dr. S, how is the fact that some bishops will give permission for blessing SSBs and some will not different from the practice - both in ECUSA and the CofE - of some bishops ordaining women and some not?

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 10:47am BST

cseitz:

You and I have very different ideas of what it means when a priest or bishop confers a blessing upon something. You seem to believe the clergyman is speaking for God, that if he does not confer the blessing, then God has not blessed the item in question.

I, OTOH, believe that God blesses what He chooses, with or without action by the clergy. I believe what is happening in any "blessing" by a clergyman, that person is merely REQUESTING God's blessing...and whether it happens or not is God's choice, not the clergyman's.

Therefore, no priest or bishop speaks for God, but rather for the person or persons being blessed. Why, then, is it important for there to be a public rite for the blessing? Because it shows that the Church believes the relationship is worthy of God's blessing.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 11:25am BST

"Because it shows that the Church believes the relationship is worthy of God's blessing."

Except that it doesn't. 'The Church' you are talking about is this and that Bishop saying Yes. That is the problem with this rite. It simply describes the 'The Church' and for that 'God' as operating where the Bishop so says.

"I, OTOH, believe that God blesses what He
chooses, with or without action by the clergy."

Neither account is correct.


"And, yesterday, the fast-food place on my block was robbed. Should the robbers have been allowed to do this?" -- yes, this captures perfectly the character of GC and the assessment of constitutionality. Why didn't I think of it?


Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:28pm BST

Mr. Dilworth, I know you have asked this but it seemed almost counterintuitive and I puzzled what you meant. It makes the point almost perfectly.

The Church did not purport to create a special rite for the ordination of women.

In this instance, because of constitutionality and the BCP's definition of marriage, the rite could not be used for SS couples. The Church had no teaching to support this.

Instead, a trial rite became a provisional rite; which could be used only by Bishop's perceptions as to what God intends; for those who wanted a marriage but couldn't have one.

This is far removed from your example and hence I could not track it.

Fr Ron, you are the only person I have ever heard call the Bishop of SC a 'ACI Bishop.' This has as much precision as a 'provisional rite'.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:40pm BST

Dr Seitz, it's not at all that different. Try focusing on the action itself, rather on whether it's called this or that. In both cases, the action may be carried out in one area, but not in others. Yet I don't recall anyone on the Right lamenting that, or alleging that the selective enactment caused God to be acting inconsistently, in the case of women's ordination.

I'm of the same opinion as the dissenting bishops: this rite is gay marriage in all but name. It being allowed in one jurisdiction but not another is exactly analogous to the former state of affairs regarding WO. The only difference is the terminology used.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:23pm BST

A follow up to my last comment:

My point in belaboring this with you is the that the theological reasons you give (God blessing gay couples in one area but not another, the Church's approval given in one but not another) really aren't sufficient to condemn the rite, since they (a) could be applied to WO and (b) don't make all that much sense. You may be correct about the constitutionality of the rite, but the odd parsing of God's actions based on permission to use it does not advance that case. If its illegal, it's illegal, and you're better arguing that than ascribing exaggerated powers over the Almighty to the local bishop.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:35pm BST

""Because it shows that the Church believes the relationship is worthy of God's blessing."

Except that it doesn't. 'The Church' you are talking about is this and that Bishop saying Yes. That is the problem with this rite. It simply describes the 'The Church' and for that 'God' as operating where the Bishop so says."

Nonsense. God operates where and how He chooses. The bishop deciding whether or not to authorize a specific rite speaks only to what the bishop chooses.

"I, OTOH, believe that God blesses what He
chooses, with or without action by the clergy."

Neither account is correct.

Really? God doesn't bless anything until a member of the clergy says the appropriate words?


"And, yesterday, the fast-food place on my block was robbed. Should the robbers have been allowed to do this?" -- yes, this captures perfectly the character of GC and the assessment of constitutionality. Why didn't I think of it?"

OK--you didn't see my point. Should have figured you wouldn't.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:15pm BST

There is a huge difference. Women did not ask for and GC did not purport to 'authorize' a supplemental rite imitating one in the BCP.

Bishop Stanton to the Diocese of Dallas today. On the nature of a 'blessing':

My first consideration is theological: Is this rite true? When I or any member of the clergy bless anyone, we use the form, “I bless you in the Name of God.” This is what may be called performative language: it performs the action that the words imply. We do not say, “I pray for,” or “I wish,” or “I think that” ... God will do so and so. We are only authorized, however, to bless what God, in fact, blesses. And when we use these words, we had better have a clear warrant from Scripture or the theological tradition of the Church to back us up. No individual is competent to decide what God blesses, and no congregation or denomination is competent to do so either. Otherwise, we are merely guessing at best, and misleading people at worst.

My second consideration is closely related to the first: is it really pastoral? How may we give to people the assurance, the comfort and the strength of God’s blessing without the warrant of Scripture or the great Tradition, or even the agreement of our closest brothers and sisters in the Communion to which we maintain we belong? Indeed, how can we do so given the “theological diversity of this church” itself in “matters of human sexuality”? This seems to me to be an incoherent act. A pastoral blessing must rest on a more solid foundation than this. Furthermore, I must point to the “provisional” character of this blessing rite: I must ask our brothers and sisters in Christ who seek this rite if they are really satisfied with a “provisional” blessing? What happens if, or when, this rite is modified, or perhaps even rescinded? What General Convention gives, it can also take away! What kind of blessing is it that is subject merely to majority human vote?

Given these two considerations, my conclusion is predictable: I cannot give direction or permission for the use of the rite in this Diocese. I trust that this conclusion will not be understood to be either capricious or stubborn. The theological and pastoral stakes here are very great indeed. A bishop is ordained to “guard the faith, unity and discipline” of the Church. Given the teaching of Scripture, the Tradition as set forth in our own Book of Common Prayer, the witness of our Communion, and my own theological and pastoral concerns, I find no other alternative.


Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 10:05pm BST

So, Bishop Stanton presumes to know what God blesses and what he does not. Relying on "scripture and tradition" to tell us what God blesses (or doesn't) seems to me to trap us into believing God only blesses the things found in those places.

Can God therefore bless an office building? Apparently not, because there is nothing in scripture or tradition to suggest so.

It would appear Bishop Stanton (and I presume cseitz, who quotes him here) believes the Holy Spirit has stopped talking to us and no longer guides us individually or the church as a whole, because only things found in scripture and tradition have any reality to him.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 3:35am BST

There is a serious discussion to be had--and it can be consulted--over the promiscuous deployment of 'blessings' (battleships, dogs, office buildings).

But there is no church-wide "office building blessing rite" and we need to keep before us what we are discussing here or we are just swimming in generalities.

This is a GC authorized 'provisional rite' with lots of formal talk about conditions of its deployment, Title IV exceptions, conscience clauses, etc.

"the Holy Spirit has stopped talking to us and no longer guides us individually or the church as a whole".

Well, he hasn't been talking to "the church as a whole" so I don't understand your comment. Even inside TEC he isn't talking to "the church as a whole."

Rather, He is talking in some ways to this Bishop and in other ways to that Bishop and a rite has been provisionally provided a condition of which is this very "talking and not talking" reality.

This fact the rite underscores.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 8:13pm BST

"Relying on "scripture and tradition" to tell us what God..."

Correct me if I am wrong. You appear to speak of scripture and tradition and (perhaps?) reason as three independent modes of disclosure. So, we ought not to rely on scripture and on tradition when we have a third way to know something independent of the first two.

Since the language of scripture, reason, and tradition appears to be used in your comment as if it were a 'principle' of some kind -- debatable, but certainly popular since the late nineteeneth century in certain anglican circles --presumably you use in as reliant on Hooker? If so, I can only say I find it preposterous to believe that Hooker himself would have referred to scripture and tradition as two choices among three, each independent of one another. I will leave to the side whether 'reason' in the 17th century meant anything like its post-Lockian use, related to something like 'individual conscience.' 'Reason' was the divinely given ability to grasp the things of God as given in scripture and tradition, as against the idea that a magisterium regulates Christian truth for darkened Christians and an obscure Bible.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 9:53pm BST

"I will leave to the side whether 'reason' in the 17th century meant anything like its post-Lockian use, related to something like 'individual conscience.' - cseitz -

So you think then Christopher, that a 'collective conscience' might be preferable to the 'individual conscience'? This would mean that I have no responsibility to exercise my own conscience on matters of faith, justice and morality? This doesn't sound particularly Anglican, but it could perhaps suit the Magisterial type of discipleship.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 1:57am BST

""the Holy Spirit has stopped talking to us and no longer guides us individually or the church as a whole".

Well, he hasn't been talking to "the church as a whole" so I don't understand your comment. Even inside TEC he isn't talking to "the church as a whole." "

Perhaps he IS talking to the church as a whole...but only part of it is listening?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:26am BST

" 'Reason' was the divinely given ability to grasp the things of God as given in scripture and tradition..."

Yes, and also the ability to know what parts of scripture and tradition are truly "things of God" and which are not, right?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:28am BST

"Yes, and also the ability to know what parts of scripture and tradition are truly "things of God" and which are not, right?" -- you are welcome to this late modern view.

It is not to be found in Hooker, whose language you invoke.


Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 1:57pm BST

Fr Ron, you are free to do as you like. Indeed that is your principle apparently.

The uncontroversial point is that nothing in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity supports your view. I shouldn't think that really matters given your concerns. What is not proper is claiming a 'scripture, reason, tradition' warrant from Hooker which is not there to be found. You might do better with Immanuel Kant, that grand protestant individualist.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:24pm BST

""Yes, and also the ability to know what parts of scripture and tradition are truly "things of God" and which are not, right?" -- you are welcome to this late modern view.

It is not to be found in Hooker, whose language you invoke."

If the "ability to grasp the things of God" does not include the wisdom to know which are those things and which are not, then what good is it?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 9:04pm BST

If the "ability to grasp the things of God" does not include the wisdom to know which are those things and which are not, then what good is it?

The idea that the Bible contains "things that are not of God" and some things that are would be absolutely foreign to Hooker. Isaiah tells us that the word of God closes ears and shuts eyes and dumbs comprehension. We need divine help to hear scripture's word. Reason is the divine endowment that helps us hear how scripture delivers its sense. Reason is not a geiger counter telling us where God is and isn't talking. Hooker would have been puzzled by that modernist idea.

I see +Mark Sisk has now announced that he has the authority to go beyond the constitution and canons of TEC, and that GC gave him that right! We are now in chaos in the post-GC period.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 11:39pm BST

cseitz:

Is the biblical imprimatur of slavery a thing of God? How about the various calls to genocide of non-believers? Which things in the Bible are things determined by MEN and which things determined by God?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 11:58am BST

Mr O'Neill -- Do you actually know anything about the reality of debt-slavery in antiquity? How the OT frames that vis-a-vis the culture? I feel like I'm talking to a slogan and cliche machine. You may read my Oxford Press essay on Holy War.

I don't know what it means to ask what parts of the Bible are MEN generated and which parts GOD generated. And I am quite certain the hermeneutic would look bizarre to Hooker.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 1:46pm BST

"Mr O'Neill -- Do you actually know anything about the reality of debt-slavery in antiquity? How the OT frames that vis-a-vis the culture? I feel like I'm talking to a slogan and cliche machine. You may read my Oxford Press essay on Holy War."

Yes, I do...and I'm not talking about debt-slavery. I'm talking about slavery in the Roman world, which is quite specifically condoned by Paul.

"I don't know what it means to ask what parts of the Bible are MEN generated and which parts GOD generated. And I am quite certain the hermeneutic would look bizarre to Hooker. "

That you don't know what I mean is probably the whole problem here. Do you believe the entirety of the Bible is inspired by God and is literally true? Do you believe Joshua actually stopped the sun in the sky? (I feel like I'm doing a scene from Inherit the Wind here, frankly.) Do you believe the references to women in menses being "unclean" are from God...or from men with no understanding of biology?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 6:28pm BST

Please would both of you avoid any further ad hominem remarks. It may be time to draw this thread to a close.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 7:01pm BST
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