Comments: more Special Commission followup

One point that we expect to bring up with our GC deputies (if we can) is GC2003 resolution B001. Frankly, my wife and I (who are coming rather firmly down on the "reasserter" side partly because of the sort of brushoff we've been getting from our parish "leadership") don't give a damn about homosexuality (as distinct from people who are attracted to the same sex) one way or another. As far as we're concerned, it's a pastoral issue, like remarriage after divorce. (Divorced/remarried bishops, like non-celibate homosexual ones, create a scandal that hurts other Christians, as St. Paul admonishes. But in ECUSA that barn door's been open for a long time...)

When we found out about B001, we got really, really pissed off. That's what really got us going.

I'm posting this here because GC deputies on the left seem to read this blog a bit more than T19. Even a formal reaffirmation of the C-L Quadrilateral would be a step in the right direction.

Posted by Dan Berger at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 3:58pm BST

Calls by some to "embrace" Windsor (and then, only as they define it) or face schism, ring hollow as long as all provinces are not held to the same standard as TEC, or any standard for that matter.

Posted by RMF at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 4:46pm BST

I'm Canadian, and therefore need some clarification. What's the wording of B001? I was able to find its title on the GC2003 site, and the fact that it was rejected, but what was the wording that was rejected? Thanks.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 5:57pm BST

Sorry, FE, I tried to include a link but TA doesn't seem to allow link tags. Here's the URL:

http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/03_b001.html shows the roster of bishops who voted for/against.

http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/03_b001.html#resolution is the text of the resolution, which never left the House of Bishops and was never (to my knowledge) modified from the original.

Posted by Dan Berger at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 6:46pm BST

You can find the text of the original resolution at this URL: http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution-complete.pl?resolution=2003-B001 When one checks out a resolution in the electronic archives of General Conventions since 1973, the first page is the final result: the text as passed, and no text if failed. However, at the bottom of the page one can link to the resolution as submitted, and to the legislative history.

Not being a bishop, I don't know all the debate. However, looking at the original resolution I can make some educated guesses. This has the appearance of what we call in America a "motherhood" resolution - as in, "Motherhood and applie pie: who could be against them?" On the other hand, theologically and specifically ecclesiologically (related to the theology of the Church) this resolution is difficult because it raises the 39 Articles to a level of authority that they have never had in the Episcopal Church. By extension, and especially in the reference to Article XX, the resolution describes an understanding of the authority of Scripture that is a matter of great debate. (Not to mention difficulty: the specific reference in Article XX that "it is not lawful for the Church to ordain [that is, establish or enact] any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another," could cause some interesting debates about our practices of episcopacy.) The clause in 2003-B001 calling for affirmation of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral calls for us, ECUSA, to affirm it for the entire Anglican Communion. Accurate as it may be in one sense, calling on our Convention to speak for the Communion sounds like the sort of theological colonialism for which we're criticized now.

In my observation, "motherhood" resolutions are rarely as simple as those who propose them, much less those who see them from outside, would wish. So I think it probably was for 2003-B001.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 7:28pm BST

Windsor completely failed to notice that conservatives were trying to trump and define historic Anglican diversity. Somehow the obvious, heated evidence that we were not of one global Anglican mind on sexuality or reading scripture or confessional conformity issues got used as incontrovertible evidence that we were indeed of one mind, and to hell with any believer who wasn't. Ooops.

Windsor failed to adequately discern all the high international drama of conservatives taking alarmed and disgusted offense that a church would even bother to talk openly about sexuality, human nature, or Queer Stuff. This is like a jury in the current USA that has members who fall for the so-called Queer Panic defense in a gay bashing or homocide case. Abruptly, jury members find themselves thinking very solemnly: Oh yes, you were understandably panicked to discover that Queer Folks existed. You were quite within the love of Jesus to discover that - yuck - you have come face to face with one of these horrible perverts. Oh dear Lord, You were understandably afraid for your life, afraid for your masculinity, afraid that you were about to be raped.

Duh.

We can try to make both themes of witness, without falling into the several definitional traps that rightwing propaganda campaigns have set for us. We may need to clearly decline to occupy the Anglican Conformity trap. We may need to clearly decline to occupy the Anglican Confession trap. We may need to clearly decline to occupy the Violence Against Queer Folks trap. We may need to clearly decline to occupy the One Way To Read Scripture trap. We may need to clearly decline to occupy the Be Penal And Judge Other Believers Above All Else In Order To Be Saved trap.

Not one of these beloved propaganda traps set by the Anglican right are of any use or importance to us, whatsoever, as modern Anglican believers. They cannot be used to dramatically define following Jesus, and however we say it, we maybe need to directly decline to take up the bondage and imprisonment that each trap wishes for us as Anglicans.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 8:49pm BST

Here's the text of resolution B001:

http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/03_b001.html#resolution

My understanding is that this resolution did not pass because it was considered redundant, in light of resolution C051, which was passed, and contained this language:

"“That our life together as a community of faith is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ and expressed in the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: Holy Scripture, the historic Creeds of the Church, the two dominical sacraments, and the historic episcopate.”

Beyond that, we have the creeds; why must we legislate submission to the Articles of Religion? The creeds are sufficient. These attempts to develop some kind of Anglican Confession make me uncomfortable.

Posted by Jake at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 9:13pm BST

Dan, re: Even a formal reaffirmation of the C-L Quadrilateral would be a step in the right direction.

I also have thought of this. Our parish is hosting a pre-convention forum with the delegates from our diocese in a couple weeks, and I'm going to suggest it.

Posted by Pen Brynisa at Monday, 1 May 2006 at 9:53pm BST

I'd have to agree with it being a 'motherhood issue'. Whenever I hear statements like this, my alarms go off. What is really behind it? I think it's pretty obvious what the things "repugnant to the word of God" are in this instance.

A question: given that the practice of usury is plainly repugnant to the word of God, regardless of how the Church, wedded to the spirit of the age, compromised herself and gave in to the trends of the world 500 years ago and declared usury no sin at all, would those who made this motion then require every diocese that earns money from interest to repent of their usurious practices? How many of said movers have earned a significant part of their personal money from interest, which is to say sin, and will now give it away and desist from such a wicked, unBiblical practice? None, I'd wager. My point is the Church hasn't been pure in Her dealings for 1700 years, we have always accomodated to society and allowed society to dictate our morals. It was wrong of us to do so, and things should change, but to imply that it is somehow a new phenomenon and try to legislate a return to some mythical "pure and holy state" is hypocritical.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 11:40am BST

After reading the text of B001 I'm not surprised in the slightest that it was rejected. It sounded like its resolves were code for "TEC utterly rejects the liberal position on everything that is controversial at this time". In so far as that was the intended message, the resolution was anything but motherhood and apple pie, in spite of how uncontroversial the text itself is.

Jon

Posted by Jon at Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 11:57am BST

Marshall Scott wrote,
"In my observation, 'motherhood' resolutions are rarely as simple as those who propose them, much less those who see them from outside, would wish."

Fr. Jake wrote,
"These attempts to develop some kind of Anglican Confession make me uncomfortable."

drdanfee wrote,
"Not one of these beloved propaganda traps set by the Anglican right are of any use or importance to us, whatsoever, as modern Anglican believers. They cannot be used to dramatically define following Jesus, and however we say it, we maybe need to directly decline to take up the bondage and imprisonment that each trap wishes for us as Anglicans."

Thank you all for your responses, even drdanfee's which was as heated as my original post, thus unfortunately expending most of its energy outside the visible spectrum. You can tell by my metaphors that I'm a scientist...

I agree with Marshall Scott that B001 was a "Motherhood & Apple Pie" resolution, and such resolutions typically have rhetorical force because it's hard to disagree with them. I've had not a few such brickbats flung at my own head, even right here in this thread. "Motherhood & Apple Pie" content serves a rhetorically useful purpose; and the left has not refrained from using it, even in resolutions passed by GC.

For example, C051 www.integrityusa.org/gc2003/FinalResolutions/C051%20Rites%20Blessing%20of%20Committed%20Same-Gender%20Relationships.htm did not stop with paragraph 1; instead it went on to paragraph 5, which was disingenuous at best (as pointed out in paragraphs 3 & 4 of the minority report). Ya think maybe paragraph 1 was a "Motherhood & Apple Pie" bit, inserted to make the rest more palatable to the pesanos? Naaah.

I do think that the US HOB was pretty stupid (or arrogant) to vote B001 down, though it was kept more-or-less successfully under wraps for quite a while. (In my parish, the former rector--and for that matter the current rector and the diocesan leadership--treated us in the diocesan hinterlands remarkably like mushrooms. We're expecting to be harvested and set out in little trays in the produce section any day now.) Now that the Bishops' 2003 rejection of this resolution has come out, it's creating a big stink, and for what? People who can recite the Nicene Creed and the Baptismal Rite without crossing their fingers, while meaning something rather different from the plain sense of the words, could easily have worked their way around the language in B001. And it would have quieted the hoi polloi for a further time.

What we unwashed provincials see is a steady erosion of the very Creedal basics that are defined in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (which, I'll grant, was an ecumenical document rather than an Anglican one). At some point, Fr. Jake, even if it makes you uncomfortable we have to insist on *some* sort of confessional requirement, or we'll end up liturgical UUs; there are those who say that some of us are there already, though not in my parish yet, Thanks Be to God.

I've been a Unitarian Universalist. It was boring.

As for "bondage and imprisonment," who ever told drdanfee that Christianity was a democracy? Last I heard it was a Kingdom, and Jesus himself told us that we are to say, "we are only slaves, who have done no more than our duty." The creedal issue is often presented as drdanfee presented it, "either dogma or liberation." To paraphrase Dorothy Sayers, the dogma *is* our liberation. "Following Jesus" and Christian dogma are not really separable; otherwise, why is Jesus important enough to single him out from a slough of more successful wisdom teachers?

And what does "following Jesus" mean, when drdanfee's rhetorical bludgeons about "modernity" are stripped away? One thinks that there might be some value in learning from those who have gone before rather than striking out on our own. As I remarked to my daughter the other day, the point of learning from other people's experience is so we can smack ourselves on the forehead ten years down the pike and say, "Why didn't I listen?"

I repeat that voting down B001 was just plain stupid. You have *no idea* how pissed off my wife, who is "pro-gay" in the sense espoused by this blog, was when she read it and found that the bishops had been unwilling to uphold "the authority of Scripture as containing all things necessary to salvation." She's not stupid; she recognized that it was a "Motherhood & Apple Pie" resolution; but it didn't matter to her. Until that moment she was pretty skeptical of my misgivings; she's quite a bit more politically liberal than I am. Now she's pretty firmly in the "reasserter" camp.

Y'all are shooting yourselves in the foot, there.

Posted by Dan Berger at Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 4:11pm BST

Ford Elms, shall we keep things on topic? "Usury" is still a sin and a crime. We just define it somewhat differently. See, for example, Rodney Stark's "The Victory of Reason." You might also look into the process the Amish use for deciding which bits of technology fit into their vision of a Christian life, and which don't, as an example of how the Church works. The fact that the Church exercises discernment doesn't mean that it will, should or must approve everything -- or else nothing. "False dichotomy."

Jon, I agree that B001 was a rhetorical bludgeon. But see my immediately previous post as to why voting it down (as opposed to making minor amendments before passing it) was a really stupid or arrogant (or both) thing to do.

Posted by Dan Berger at Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 4:26pm BST

Dr. Radner's invitations seem quite sincere, and who among us would doubt that he consciously intends to do everyone well? The problem is, he urges us to agree with things which are simply not so. The problem is, he and all his traditionalist colleagues know completely better, both about sexuality and about Anglican leeway. How can this be? Well, Dr. Radner tells us that this is because they are orthodox, and so they alone have the right - indeed the biblical obligation - to save the rest of us from ourselves.

But facts are funny things. They seem to affect you even if they have been preached away by people like Dr. Radner.

Continued on blog, at: http://drdanfee-blogs.blogspot.com/2006/05/anglican-reply-to-ephraim-radnors.html

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 2 May 2006 at 7:18pm BST

After looking again at Dr. Radner's article, I am more convinced than ever that we are becoming more clear in describing the different goals sought by those on both sides. The SCECAC Report calls for seeking consensus, and in the meantime maintaining humility while continuing to explore and to listen. Dr. Radner speaks of establishing the limits of the faith and exercising discipline. Of my own thoughts on consensus I have written more on my blog at http://episcopalhospitalchaplain.blogspot.com/2006/05/slow-and-steady-wins-doesnt-it.html

I agree with Dr. Radner about the topics we need to discuss. I think that actually discussing these issues, and actually listening to one another, may help us all in the search for consensus. However, I am troubled at the perspective he brings to the process. He states,

"One of the great failures of past discussions of sexuality, in ECUSA at any rate, has been an insistence that the topic bear no relationship with the full range of Christian commitments given us in our tradition: the authority of Scripture, catholic witness, the character of common life and the Eucharist, conciliar polity, the doctrine and reality of the Holy Spirit and the nature of revelation, and so on. It is not as if people have not realized that all these things are implicated; but ECUSA has moved forward with its innovations on the matters of sexuality in deliberate disjunction from any understanding of how these other matters relate and are affected by changes in sexual discipline."

First, I don't think this is accurate. These discussions have been going on in the Episcopal Church for literally 30 years (I've been at various General Conventions, among other venues, in which these issues have been addressed), and I've seen many who didn't want to discuss them, hoping that in time they would simply go away. Second, it seems to elevate sexuality above the standard of a part of life to be reflected on in light of all those theological loci to become a theological locus in and of itself. It is never the total, or even the critical issue of our theological anthropology.

Further, he writes as if the Christian tradition, in both content and method, were more coherent than is my own observation. We need no further evidence to the contrary than to observe on this, the Feast of Athanasius, that for generations after Nicea the Arians were both numerically and politically more powerful than the Orthodox. The Orthodox position survived, I believe, because recognizing the full divinity of Christ, in language that is not in Scripture (homoousios), made salvation more open to all and more inclusive.

So, let's indeed have the conversation he seems to want, and on the subjects he thinks important. I think they're important, too. I just think he may be surprised at the intellect and the intellectualism that he has not recognized so far. I am certain he will be surprised at the faithfulness he will find in those he seeks to challenge.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 4:50am BST

I'm not so sure it was that foolish. I have heard similar stories about GC refusing to pass a resolution to reaffirm the Nicean Creed. This wasn't because they didn't believe the Creed. It was because they had just finished reaffirming the Creed at the eucharist that morning. Similarly, B001 served no useful function beyond repeating what is still present in the ordination liturgy. Incidentally the presence of the line about Scripture containing all things necessary for salvation in the ordination rite is why you can reassure your wife that the bishops still uphold that principle since as far as I know no one is proposing to remove those lines at this point. As for amending and passing B001, every vote takes time and redundency isn't a particularly good thing since it just makes more paper to wade through later. Is the reaffirmation in C051 insufficient and is that the only place a reaffirmation of Scripture containing all things necessary for salvation found?

Jon

Posted by Jon at Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 10:58am BST

Jon, to a an extent I agree with you. This should not be an issue to a church that rubrically mandates the recitation of the Nicene Creed every Eucharist; and the "we believe" weasels are answered by the "I believe" in the Baptismal Covenant, recited each Easter. But we all know that the rubrics are ignored, and there is no accountability.

The scandal is that certain highly-visible episcopal voices have been openly repudiating Nicene Christianity for decades, and the response from ECUSA has been, not discipline (why should such a one occupy a teaching position in a Christian body?), not even a yawn (jeez, the guy's a lightweight, just ignore him), but *encouragement* and *plaudits*. That's why a specific affirmation of Nicene Christianity by GC, coupled with some attention to discipline, is so important to people like me (and my wife).

Posted by Dan Berger at Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 12:47pm BST

Sorry, I didn't answer Jon's last question. I would say, no, the affirmation of the C-L Quadrilateral in C051, paragraph 1, is insufficiently specific. The reason it is so is the weaseling around and outright ignoring of Nicene doctrine that has become a relatively common scandal in ECUSA.

It might be specific if it were coupled with a commitment to actual church discipline.

Posted by Dan Berger at Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 3:56pm BST

Dear DanB,
Assuming I get to leave, then, for whatever good reasons now preached by the conservative Anglicans – all mainly about how awful me and my ways are - what is reasonable to expect next?

Continued on blog, at: http://drdanfee-blogs.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_drdanfee-blogs_archive.html

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 3 May 2006 at 9:02pm BST

Y'know, I think we're just talking past each other. I would say that your blog post doesn't deserve a response, but that would let you "win" in some eyes.

If we can remove the focus from your sacred self and look at some doctrinal issues... such as what differentiates Christianity from, say, Zen Buddhism ... we might make some progress. But condescending dismissal, of which you provide an excellent example, is not the way to go. You can dismiss me. Can you so cavalierly dismiss, say, N.T. Wright? Rowan Williams? Alvin Plantinga? Elizabeth Anscombe? The entire Oxford Movement? Richard Hooker? Thomas Aquinas? Anselm? Augustine? Paul of Tarsus?

In the last analysis, if we really believed St. Paul when he told us to avoid scandalizing fellow believers, we'd be bending over backward to accommodate each other. Folks with silly "modern" theologies like drdanfee would show much more deference to the faith of those who have gone before us, and for that matter I wouldn't be putting "modern" in scare quotes, or calling his theology "silly" even if I do think it is.

drdanfee's blog doesn't allow comments from non-bloggers, and I'd prefer to carry on the conversation/argument here anyway.

Posted by Dan Berger at Thursday, 4 May 2006 at 2:54pm BST

Dan B, to be honest, I would rather you didn't carry on that conversation with drdanfee here. There are plenty of other, more succinct commenters here to respond to :-)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 4 May 2006 at 3:11pm BST

Simon, your command is my wish. :^)

Posted by Dan Berger at Thursday, 4 May 2006 at 4:04pm BST

P.S. Ditto, in retrospect I agree to solely being a reader. Happy to be part of the silent global audience, and let it go at that. Best wishes. I am just down the block, and maybe next to you at work.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 4 May 2006 at 6:54pm BST

Simon, some observations by Bishop NT Wright on what the Windsor Report meant have just been posted. As he was a member of the Windsor Commission, I guess that his interpretation is more-or-less as authoritative as they come. It's here: http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/comments/we_can_all_celebrate_diversity_bishop_tom_wright/

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 10:15am BST
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