Comments: San Joaquin development

Simon,

"San Joaquin is in Eastern California, the see city is Fresno."

Californians refer to it as Central California. Fresno to Stockton is a large part of the Cental Valley.

Posted by Chip Chillington at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 12:57pm BST

TEC couldn't discipline noted heretics like Spong and Pike, let's see if they leap at the chance to jump on Schofield.

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 1:30pm BST

This is a question. I looked at the diocesan web site and saw listings for churches and other entities labled 'mission.' In my diocese, a mission church is a church plant that is not yet fully self-sustaining. But I know the word 'mission' may well have different connotations in California. Enlighten me?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 1:33pm BST

Yes Chip, I daresay they do. I was writing for Noo Yawkers :-)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 1:53pm BST

Cynthia:

I think the parish/mission distinction you're making is in fact part of the national Canons, and so I would expect those churches designated "missions" are receiving some sort of diocesan support. That may be much, or it may be little; but it suggests that without some sort of support those congregations can't pay their bills.

I've heard many, including bishops, in TEC saying that TEC has waited too long to exercise some discipline against wayward bishops. However, while the cases are different, I would also be interested to see whether the full House of Bishops would support deposition, at least at this point. If an investigation came up with more substantive specifics, that might be different. In any case, as with many such actions, this will take months at the very least.

All the same, just as there is a "broad middle" among the Deputies (representative of the laity), there is a "broad middle" among bishops. They may or may not agree with Schofield, but may well want to defend the institutional stability of TEC.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 2:10pm BST

"TEC couldn't discipline noted heretics like Spong and Pike, let's see if they leap at the chance to jump on Schofield." Steven

I was a young/wild college man in San Francisco when Bishop Pike presented such a positive image for the "lost soul" in me that I renewed my connection with God again at Grace Cathedral.

Bishop Spong convinced me as a "middle aged" man that it was GOOD and HEALTHY to question some fear/confusion I had about across-the-board acceptance of some radical/ignorant Scriptural "messages" I didn't believe and therefore ignored...Bishop Spong encouraged me to become a fuller and truer member of the Episcopal Church by encouraging me to challenge myself and many of YOU.

Neither Pike or Spong are heretics in my opinion. Bishop Pike and Spong *are/were* open and fearless Christian/Episcopal leaders and heros in/of my/our religious life.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:32pm BST

Steven:
When the time came to try Spong the conservatives instead tried Walter Righter. You can chant "Spong, Spong, Spong" all you want, but Spong being wrong doesn’t make Schofield right. In fact, I think it points to the weakness of Schofield’s position that the defense is to summon forth the specter of the Great Boogie Man of Newark. You will get no argument from me that Spong should have faced the music; however I’m also aware that this is an apples and oranges moment. Theologically, Spong’s an atheist and Schofield’s a Donatist. Spong, while an irritant, was honest. Schofiled’s trying to commit theft, all the while waving the banner of his “purity

Posted by FrairJohn at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 3:50pm BST

Cynthia, to the best of my knowledge, the meaning of "mission" is the same in San Joaquin as in other dioceses: Mission = not financially self-sustaining congregation.

Posted by MB Brown at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 5:18pm BST

Cynthia,

In the American Church a mission may either be a new congregation or a congregation that cannot support itself without assistance from the diocese (my first cure was an 80+ year old mission). In both cases the diocese has decided for reasons of mission that the church needs to be present in that community, even if it means financial and other support.

Posted by Chip Chillington at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 5:25pm BST

Cynthia: a mission is as you understand, a congregation that is not yet self sustaining and not yet entitled to incorporation as a parish.

Posted by Richard Zevnik at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 5:28pm BST

As folk were predicting before GC2006! Dissent, even by way of wanting to remain with mainline Anglican theology and conduct, and after appeal to the ABofC's panel, will NOT be tolerated. I wonder whether this sort of development was discussed at the recent liberal primates' [strategy?] meeting in Coventry..

But why +San Joaquin, rather than going straight for +Pittsburgh.. or all the NACDAP bishops at once ?

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 6:41pm BST

I have to say, that I find the use of the term 'heretic' here, gratuitously offensive. Especially from one who insists on remaining anonymous. I sign in my own name again.

I request the moderation and removal of such deliberately offensive langauge.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 7:09pm BST

Thanks to all. The distinction on the diocesan website is parish [c.26] and mission [c 19]. That's a lot of missions in proportion to parishes. Does anyone know if this represents an aggressive policy of church plantings or a plethora of missions that are struggling to hold their own or a mix. I ask because we in the Diocese of Virginia have been doing some fairly vigorous church planting over the past several years, with the hope that new church plants will transition to mission and then church status in an orderly way. There are small churches in the diocese that will always need assistance, but the idea with new ones is that they are to make steady progress, and many have.
Thanks.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 8:26pm BST

Laurence:

(1) "Steven" is my real name.
(2) Spong and Pike weren't heretics? Sorry, I must've made a mistake somewhere. Please feel free to discuss why they weren't heretics in order to clear the record. Your explanations of some of their more controversial statements and positions would be very helpful to me.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 8:27pm BST

Laurence: I apologize if my post offended you. I simply entered my normal nickname as a matter of habit. I do not, however, apologize for my use of the term “heretic,” especially since it was used in the post to which I was referring. I didn’t see it as inflammatory, or as an insult per se. Rather I simply used it since it was already out in the conversation and to point out that the accusation could cut either way. Looked at plainly, either man can be accused of (at least one) heresy, hence the term is appropriate. It may not be “nice,” but it is accurate.

Posted by Johhn Robison at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 9:37pm BST

Laurence wrote:

"I have to say, that I find the use of the term 'heretic' here, gratuitously offensive."

If Friar John is correct, it may not be accurate in Bishop Spong's case, if he is indeed an atheist. It may certainly be rather rude, as when applied by Archbishop Carey to those of us who opposed his innovation of ordaining the ladies. (Realising that this might remove the photo ops when getting on a variety of aircraft to attend meetings with the Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch, His Grace later softened the accusation to one of "grave theolological error", which sounds very much like a dictionary definition of, err, heresy!)

Turning to what I think is the real issue here, I am not exactly a fan of Bishop Schofield. (I was once moved to complain gently to Forward in Faith about the inclusion on its website of one of his pastoral letters which read like a party political broadcast on behalf of Likud.) However, I think that this attack is utterly grotesque and deliberately provocative. I must confess to only having heard of one of the obscure Californian prelates who have laid the accusation, namely Bishop Swing, who has "form" for dodgy initiatives of a syncretist nature.

Not for the first time, I think we are seeing that interesting form of fundamentalism which consists in believing in the verbal and literal inspiration of the Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA, as currently interpreted.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 9:46pm BST

"But why +San Joaquin, rather than going straight for +Pittsburgh.. or all the NACDAP bishops at once ?"

Geography, I should think - all the dioceses involved in this instance are "daughters" of the "mother" Diocese of California, split off at various points since the founding of the diocese in 1849.

Posted by MB Brown at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 10:19pm BST

I've just been having a laugh at myself ! My goat was got.

From my last post (on heresy) it is clear that, in fact, without my quite appreciating it, I did / do feel that somethings shouldn't be said, or some folks should be silenced. What is that, if not a fear of heresy ?!

So I recant herewith. (And no-one has leaned on me!).

This unpleasant bit of self-knowledge is rather discouraging. I expect someone will suggest a suitable penance...

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 10:56pm BST

I'm a native of Northern California, w/ many family links to the Diocese of San Joaquin (celebrated Easter in the Fresno cathedral a number of times as a child).

I'm filled w/ ambivalence about this.

On the one hand, I trust the 4 bishops named: none of them are wild-eyed radicals. +Schofield, in my humble opinion, has been a train-wreck just *waiting* to happen (came into his episcopal office w/ a "TEC is becoming apostate!" 'tude, and has he has only gotten more vituperative, as successive GC democratic-majorities failed to sign onto his POV).

...on the other hand, this feels a little hasty. And I have to agree w/ {shock!} Dave, that +Schofield hasn't been AS OUT THERE, in his "abandonment of communion", as has +Duncan (if +Schofield was a train-wreck waiting to happen, +Duncan has been a nuclear meltdown which HAS happened...)

I'm just going to reserve judgment, and *trust the process*. The canonical decision-making authorities of TEC *as a whole*, will get to the bottom of this (whether, to paraphrase The Clash, "he should stay or he should go"!)

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 11:07pm BST

Dave,

Our Church most certainly not only tolerates dissent, but often encourages it because it can (though not always) help get to a fuller understanding of whatever aspect of God you are exploring better than a narrow proclamation and claim of finally knowing the mind of God so well that anyone who disagrees with you is branded a "heretic" or worse. I would agree with you if simple dissent were all that the Network/GS were engaging in, but that is minimizing their tactics to the point of delusion.

To my (life-long) understanding of Anglicanism, I do not recognize subversion, manipulation, coersion, intentional misrepresentation (e.g. the "requirements" of the WR), smug self-righteousness, theft of Church property, willful violation of ordination vows, (and in Akinola's case) unmitigated support for state-sponsored human rights abuses, on and on, as anything remotely representative of "mainline Anglican theology and conduct."

Posted by marc at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 11:07pm BST

Dave:

With the announcement today of a covenanting document for the Anglican Communion Network (reported at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_76899_ENG_HTM.htm) the grounds may change. I have read the document in question (one can link through from the ENS news item), and it definitely takes a different direction than the understanding of the faith under which I was ordained 25 years ago. Moreover, in insisting on (among other things) the ordinal of the prayerbooks of 1549 through 1662 (and, therefore, no prayer book of the American church), it will create a deviation from the discipline of the Episcopal Church today established in the Book of Common Prayer (1979). If it were the case that Schofield, either as an individual or representing San Joaquin, signed such a document, that would certainly be concrete evidence of that. Again, there might be debate about doctrine, and about how important the ACN statement might be; but it would be concrete.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 25 July 2006 at 11:10pm BST

Dear Friends,

I find this discussion both interesting and missing the point. As I read the canon with which +John David is accused, then it would appear that an offense has not been comitted. The argument as I understand it, is that because the Diocesan Convention made a change to its Constitution, +Bp J-D is to be held accountable. This could be viewed that a local convention could be reduced to not than more than a rubber stamp.

If the Bishop has violated the National Canons then why did not the Gang of Four make a more formal presentment. This current complaint can be processed quickly and without much (evidence and formal hearing) publicity.

Dan Palmer

Posted by Dan Palmer at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:06am BST

My family has been in California for about 85 years (that may not impress people in the CoE, but in California it is almost like arriving with William the Conquerer - well, maybe Henry II).

Being an Episcopalian, context is important. So...

San Joaquin is in some of the most conservative (politically) area of the state. California, if laid on end, would stretch from Munich to Birmingham, if that helps with the geography. In the main, the Central Valley is also much less wealthy then the coastal areas. It has a very large hispanic population, which generally trends Roman Catholic.

As for "the obscure Californian prelates" - they are ALL of the other serving Ordinaries in the state. The Diocese of El Camino (generally San Jose, Silicon Valley, and the Central Coast) is currently vacant and being served by an Assisting Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Sylvestre Romero-Palma, formerly Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Belize.

I have no idea why this is the first presentment, but I would suggest it may have something to do with the general (and stereotypical) California liberalism. I do know that the Bishops of California (San Francisco), Los Angeles, and San Diego are what would be considered "moderate to liberal". +Schofield is rather an outlier.

Posted by Andrewdb at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:03am BST

Marc,

I am curious. You state that PECUSA encourages dissent. One bishop encourages dirversity so much he forbade any parish priest their right to associate with the Network. This was done using a pastoral direction, the disobedience being grounds for abandonment of their ministry.

I guess we are all for inclusion so long I do not speak but send my money in to support their ministries.

Posted by Dan Palmer at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 7:51am BST


Good to see not all ECUSA churches are dead:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/884/

Posted by Nersen at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 10:41am BST

Nersen, did you read the comment by the author of that study, objecting to the misleading presentation of her findings?

Dan, why would any sane bishop allow his/her clergy to join a group that is openly dedicated to destroying the church? (Have you ever read the Chapman Memo?) Frankly, I gained a lot of respect for Parsley when he kept the Duncanites out of his diocese.

Posted by New Here at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 12:07pm BST

“Theologically, Spong’s an atheist and Schofield’s a Donatist. Spong, while an irritant, was honest. Schofiled’s trying to commit theft, all the while waving the banner of his ‘purity.’”—FriarJohn

I don’t know if I would agree with that, Friar. Bishop Spong has always struck me as a deist, rather than an atheist. And deism had a great run in Anglicanism in the 18th century

Posted by Kurt at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 2:16pm BST

Thank you, Kurt. I get *really* tired of people trotting out the Great Demon of Newark everytime they want to make some sort of a point (and these points are often made quite poorly). It's almost as bad as using a Nazi reference to shutdown an argument ("I don't care what you say! How about SPONG ?!?")

Bp. Spong may very well be described as a deist. I also pick up on a bit of Panentheism from reading his works. He certainly *doesn't* fall for the anthropomorphic "God as Magic Sky Genie" model so popular in certain cirlces...

Posted by David Huff at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 2:46pm BST

People seem to bandy the term "donatist" around quite a bit on this board.

Does this mean that Luther and the reformers, continental and Anglican, were donatists? Does thinking the other side is wrong in a theological/Biblical dispute automatically makes one a Donatist?

I can't believe that anything traditionalists are doing now evidences more (or qualititatively different) disgust and dismay regarding the opposition than either side in the Great Schism or the Reformation aimed at each other. Do we regard them as Donatists?

It is also strange that those that would dispute whether Spong and Pike were heretics are so eager to paste another type of "heretic" label on those they disagree with. Overall, it has a bit of the childish taunt about it--"nyaah, nyaah, you're a Donatist, you're a Donatist".

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:11pm BST

New Here,

The issue is not the Chapman memo. The issue is the right of association. If one group insists that membership in an organization is not permitted, then should not membership in all organizatons be resticted. On its face, this type of discrimination is institutionalized and amounts to the bullying of clergy and communicants alike.

Posted by Dan Palmer at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 3:14pm BST

Nope, Dan. The point is the same as I made above. Bsp Parsley didn't discourage *diversity* (much like the Network is not about simple dissent, as I said above.) He discouraged divisiveness, etc.

New Here made the point for me. Diversity (as is dissent) is encouraged. But those hell-bent on subversion, manipulation, coersion, intentional misrepresentation (e.g. the "requirements" of the WR), smug self-righteousness, theft of Church property, willful violation of ordination vows, (and in Akinola's case) unmitigated support for state-sponsored human rights abuses, on and on, are hardly representative of a healthy diversity (or dissent).

They are two vastly different things and using softer language to try to make it more palatable doesn't work. Call it cheese cake all you want, but if it's moldy, it still takes like spoiled food, no matter what you call it.

Posted by Marc at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 4:27pm BST

"New Here" (your real name in the new TA protocol??)

Yes - I read the comments and wanted all to see them because stats must always be treated with caution - the general point is made.

Fact still remains, "inclusive ECUSA" is including 35,000+ fewer people per year - it will diappear in the next 50 yrs at this rate

Posted by Nersen at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 4:37pm BST

No, Dan, the issue is very much the Chapman Memo.

The very purpose of the Network is to mount a hostile takeover of the Episcopal Church. That's their whole reason for existing. Not all organizations are alike, so it's just silly to argue that if people can freely join one group they should be able to join any group at all. Does the fact that I can join the local garden club mean that I should also be able to join the Mafia?

Posted by New Here at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 4:56pm BST

"The issue is the right of association. If one group insists that membership in an organization is not permitted, then should not membership in all organizatons be resticted."

Say wha??? You're saying a bishop should make it *equally* verboten, for a priest to join the NAACP [Nat. Assoc. for Advancement of Colored People: noted U.S. civil rights organization] or the KKK [Ku Klux Klan: noted U.S. racist *terrorist* organization]?

Back on-topic: isn't there anybody here interested in just following the process? Even IF this charge arose from "stereotypical California liberalism", it will nevertheless be the canonical disciplinary panel of TEC *as a whole* which decides. Truth will out!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 6:11pm BST

Steven observed:
It is also strange that those that would dispute whether Spong and Pike were heretics are so eager to paste another type of "heretic" label on those they disagree with. Overall, it has a bit of the childish taunt about it--"nyaah, nyaah, you're a Donatist, you're a Donatist".

If I remember my Church History correctly, Donatism was not a heresy, but a schismatic movement: looking at some of its features I can understand why some might want to draw parallels with contemporary events.

"Donatism... had been formed from a coalition of dissnters angry at the promotion of a tactless archdeacon.... As God was one, so was his church, and its hallmark was purity. There was no salvation outside this body of the elect. Other considerations, even communion with apostolic sees, was irrelevant. They must oppose 'the world' in all its aspects. Augustine was to find himself confronted by... groups convinced that he and his party were the 'sons of traditors'" (Frend, 'The rise of Christianity 654-5 passim)

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 7:21pm BST

"The very purpose of the Network is to mount a hostile takeover of the Episcopal Church"

Hhmmm, that must mean that Network Bishops are try presentments against liberal Bishops...

Oooh Noooo! It's the other way round... The very purpose of ECUSA's liberals must be to mount a hostile takeover of the Episcopal Church !

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 8:00pm BST

Iirc, +Pike *was tried for heresy. The attempt did not succeed, any more than did the later presentment against +Righter.

This latest attempt to reign in a wayward Bishop may not even make it to a trial. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

H P Burkett
Austin, TX

Posted by Oriscus at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:01pm BST

No, James Pike was never formally tried. Philip Turner summarised it thus:

The Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, despite pressures to the contrary, wished to avoid a heresy trial and so managed to have the matter referred to an ad hoc committee rather than to a panel of judges. The committee concluded that a heresy trial would be widely viewed as a “throwback” to a previous century in which both church and state sought to penalize “unacceptable opinion.” A trial would thus give ECUSA an “oppressive image.” The members of the committee did say, however, that they rejected “the tone and manner” of the Bishop’s statements, and that they wished to dissociate themselves from many of his comments. Pike’s utterances were, they said, “irresponsible” for one holding episcopal office. The bishops then censured Bishop Pike; but, despite the fact that he did not renounce his heresy, they also did nothing to inhibit him in the exercise of his office.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:28pm BST

Here's what Wikipedia says:

"The Donatists (founded by the Berber Christian Donatus Magnus) were followers of a belief considered a heresy by the broader Catholic community. They lived in the Roman Africa Province, and flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries."

I've never heard Donatism not called a heresy, but I've probably lived a sheltered life.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 26 July 2006 at 9:48pm BST

Dear Simon, I wonder whether the presiding bishop(s) will have such tender scrupples about presentments against a bishop who is "too orthodox" (rather than too non-orthodox)... despite most of the Communion agreeing with +Schofield!

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:14am BST

Steven:

The Reformation arguments were theological disagreements, not simply a fight over purity. That is true for the Great Schism. Schofield and the other "traditionalists" are holding out the argument that the, perceived, immorality of a partnered gay man makes him unable to hold Episcopal office. When one adds in the apparent “cooties” affect where in all that voted for the consecration are also now unable to be properly respected. Steven, you mentioned “disgust,” a visceral reaction which I would point out is tied to the heresy. And don’t try to hide behind some weak argument about repentance, that is a smoke screen to for this new breed of the old heresy. Since the thirty-nine Articles now have a new, more official, standing with the Network I would like to see how they will wriggle their way around XXVI. My assumption is that they will either ignore it or will do as you did: toss a bunch of non sequiturs out.

Posted by John robison at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:16am BST

Steven:

On a side note, I do believe that I said that +Spong should have faced the music for his statements. Instead the brave, brave "traditionalists" tried Bishop Righter. I also noted that I find it odd that +Schofield and the rest are to be allowed to violate their ordenation vows since no one went after +Spong and +Pike.

(BTW – Pike was so far before my time that I only know about him through anecdote. I would be more willing to look into it if I weren’t convinced that summoning his shade was a Clupea pallasii rufus.)

Posted by John robison at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:26am BST

I note that Nersen trots out the "liberal churches are losing members" big lie in his post here. I want to point out that ECUSA actually grew last year. A bit off-topic but our "mostly" liberal faith holds a strong lure for the well educated unchurched unable to relate to the offerings of the evangelical ayatollahs. Thanks be to God.

Posted by Byron at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 3:45am BST

More to the point, why do those who accuse "liberals" of seeking the approval of the world take such glee in pointing out the relative size of their congregations compared to liberal ones? Surely the popularity of the congregation is somehow linked to the world's approval, no? Oh, and here's one "liberal" who is no fan of Spong, sorry to complicate things, but the world ain't all black and white.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:14am BST

Maybe, maybe not, Dave, but just remember: If they are presented it will not be because they are orthodox; it will be because they committed a presentable offense(s) (which is unorthodox.)

Posted by marc at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:16am BST

Clupea pallasii rufus

wonderful! Can I borrow that??

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:27am BST

Don't know who wrote the Wikipedia article, but Donatism doesn't fit the bill as a heresy — the ancient and revered JND Kelly 'Early Christian Doctrines'says:
"The donatists took the line of rigorism; the validity of the sacramnents, they taught, depended on the worthiness of the minister and the church ceased to be holy and forfeited its claim to be Christ's body when it tolerated unworthy bishops... in its ranks. In this case the resulting (sc. from Felix of Aptunga) contamination infected not only Caecilian and his successors but everyone in Africa and throughout the whole world who maintained communion with them" (p.410)

To describe someone as a donatist is not to brand them a heretic, therefore — it is to identify them as part of the 'purity movement' brand of Christianity.

Tellingly, though, Optatus in 'on the Donatist Schism' regards schism as terrible — tantamount to apostasy, the negation of the spirit of charity.

Whether some in worldwide Anglicanism are presenting Donatist tendencies I leave to better judges of Church politics....

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 11:37am BST

Byron - show us your proof "liberal" ECUSA churches are growing please?

Posted by Nersen at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 12:15pm BST

John:

(1) How is this not a theological argument? I look forward to your explanation of how a dispute that is founded on the interpretation and weight to be given Scripture and the role of Church tradition can not be theological.

(2) You need to clarify what point you are trying to make with your statements about "repentence" in this context. I'm not attempting to be argumentative, I'm just not sure what your argument is, which makes me unable to respond.

(3) Article 26 deals with the sacraments. The sacraments defined in the 39 Articles are baptism and Communion. I have not heard that any of the consecrating bishops is not entitled to administer these sacraments anywhere in the TEC. So, even if TEC accepted the Articles as binding, where is the Article 26 violation you speak of? Groups and individuals in the TEC may not want to accept their ministries, but disputes of this type are not violative of Article 26 (even if it were binding in TEC).

However, I also note that Article 26, where it is accepted, applies only to churches that have ACCEPTED IT and are in COMMUNION with each other. Churches that have not accepted it and are not in communion with the TEC certainly do not violate 26 by not accepting communion from the TEC--taking the RC as an example. And, at this point, communion is impaired within TEC and in the Anglican Communion and may soon be broken altogether. When that occurs, the issue becomes moot.

(4) As to non sequiturs, I have not heretofore sought to make any rigorous arguments on this particular thread, merely to stir up some conversation. If I have "sinned" by (heaven forbid!) throwing out some non sequiturs . . . well, I can live with that.

Meanwhile, have at it--I'm particularly interested in your response to (1), above.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 2:48pm BST

I agree with Steven that Donatism has generally been regarded as a heresy. It appears to be adhered to as the primary element of the faith by the members of the Network and is condemned in Article XXVI.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 3:44pm BST

One person;s heresy is another person's orthodoxy. I sometimes refer to the Orthodox Heresy which is the (false) teaching that salvation depends upon believing correct doctrine. I suspect a number of the Network bishops are heretics in this sense. An appellation of "orthodoxy", especially a self-applied one, is not a guarantee of inerrant doctrine.

Posted by ruidh at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 10:36pm BST

Prior Aelred:

To quote myself earlier on this thread:

Overall, [liberal responses of this type have] a bit of the childish taunt about it--"nyaah, nyaah, you're a Donatist, you're a Donatist".

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 27 July 2006 at 10:54pm BST

"An appellation of "orthodoxy", especially a self-applied one, is not a guarantee of inerrant doctrine."

Most especially when that "orthodoxy" refers to the rejection of certain beliefs that have always been considered Orthodox and the acceptance of 500 year old innovations that have never been accepted as Orthodox. It is often used to mean "those who agreee with me".

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 1:08am BST

Steven said:
Overall, [liberal responses of this type have] a bit of the childish taunt about it--"nyaah, nyaah, you're a Donatist, you're a Donatist".

Do you really think so? Sad if one can't spot a pattern and ask whether the Christian past has something to say about it.

Most movements have antecedents somewhere in Christian history, and there have always been Christians who have felt the urge to split from the corrupt institution and create a purified Church - Tertullian, for example, or many of the dissenting sects of C17. Donatism was one of those (and, pace Prior Aelred, Optatus refers to Donatism as 'schisma', not 'haeresis'). Some of those movements survived and flourished, others did not.

The things which are being said about the 'corrupt nature of TEC' are pretty close to some of the comments from North Africa all those years ago!

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 9:54am BST

David:

Every division in the Church has ultimately been the result of "Christians who have felt the urge to split from the corrupt institution and create a purified Church . . ." There may be some variance in terms of whether the "corruption" was deemed to be primarily moral, primarily theological, or various combinations of the two, but whatever it is, the drive to seek a purified Church is the same. So, yes, there are obviously antecedents. Every split in the church is an antecedent. The tendency of liberals to want to pick and choose particular antecedents so as to flatter themselves and denigrate the opposition is understandable (and is not confined to liberals).

As to specific verbiage used by traditionalists, I don't have time at the moment to look up samples from Church history. But my recall is that the writings of Luther and the other reformers are rife with disgust, dismay and derision (from having read some of them in the past)--Luther's writings are, to my recall, especially fertile ground if one is looking for pithy dismissive and disgusted remarks about the opposition.

So, as you say, we've been here before. However, history never repeats itself exactly. And, in terms of "match-ups" I would say the split has more in common with the great theological divides of the Church in the past than it has to do with Donatism.

This may also reflect my particular biases, but when this "liberal" site has seen so many long and detailed arguments about the meaning of Scripture and Church tradition as well as the role of the Holy Spirit in "showing us a new thing" it is hard to deny that the current split has a very strong theological aspect.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 1:36pm BST

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) --

Thank you for that clarification. I believe that we can agree that one can feel a tone of self-righteous judgementalism from those who plan to leave if they do not get their way -- sad but hardly the first time this has occurred.

Certainly one speaks of the Donatist schism, but schisms usually involve some sort of doctrinal disagreement (as did this one, IMHO). But, as Presbyterian scholar James McCord once said, "If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time."

Why? Bishop Pierre Whalon (Convocation of the American Churches in Europe) expressed it extremely well, "...heresy dies out. Schisms last for centuries. Heresy invites its own reversal by awakening a dynamic orthodoxy. Schism freezes doctrine, interferes with its healthy development. Heretics after all passionately want to improve the church's teaching. Their passion ignites a new passion in the church. Schism only provokes the passion of hatred, and its concomitant, war. I reiterate, schism is always worse than heresy. For heresy is about doctrine...while schism is about abandoning the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us."

I say (far less eloquently) that it is virtually impossible to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Canterbury & Rome & Constantinople have all signed statements of agreed christology with the Copts, but no one expects the Chalcedonian split to end any time soon!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 3:59pm BST

Prior Aelred:

A good post in many ways, although I would interpret who the "heretics" and "schismatics" are differently than you would.

To me it is quite clear that the heretics and schismatics are the liberals dominating TEC, who have chosen to "walk apart" from the wider Anglican Communion. It is THEY that have innovated and introduced new "truths" into the communion and TEC. It is THEY who seek to remake and "purify" the Church and its standards in accordance with their "NEW" revelations. It is THEY who are seeking to purge traditionalists from their ranks. If you shout "donatist"--first look in the mirror.

Traditionalists, as their name implies, are trying to stick to dat ol' time orthodox religion. They cannot be accused of heresy, because they are not trying to change the "truth once received". This is a LIBERAL quest. You have just indicted yourself and the rest of the liberals.

Now, having sundered the bonds of unity, the liberals of TEC meekly look up, knife in hand, and claim they have done nothing (and won't you please stillll keep me, knife and Allll!). Yes, this heresy has awakened a dynamic new orthodoxy as you predict. And yes, I do expect that this heresy will wither and die in time.

However, for the moment, it is necessary to seek some way to protect the faithful orthodox within TEC from the depredations of a heretical national church and its operatives. This means cleaving to the wider communion, and seeking all the protection it can give.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:32pm BST

But, as Presbyterian scholar James McCord once said, "If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time."

Sadly, I agree: I seem to recall that back at the time of the Donatist controversy that same take on the matter was taken by the catholic church.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Friday, 28 July 2006 at 10:33pm BST

"It is THEY [TEC liberals] who are seeking to purge traditionalists from their ranks."

No. This is a lie. It is the Network/AMiA/AAC who are seeking to leave, demanding ALPO [talk about innovations!] and flirting and courting with the likes of ++Akinola, but also hoping to retain for their use the property they hold in trust from TEC.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 3:12am BST

Traditionalists, as their name implies, are trying to stick to dat ol' time orthodox religion. They cannot be accused of heresy, because they are not trying to change the "truth once received".

Do you, then, believe that the Church is inerrant? The 39 Articles disagree with you.

I find it odd that you use quote marks around the phrase "truth once received". I'm aware of the phrase "faith once delivered" which occurs in the New Testament. Are you equating 'truth' with 'faith' and 'received' with 'delivered'? That which is 'delivered' is not necesarially 'received' and 'faith' is not doctrine but trust.

Posted by ruidh at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 12:45pm BST

I suppose Donatism could be described as a heresy a posteriori, althogh at the time considered essentially as schismatic.
The dangers of judging people as heretical in contexts subsequent to their own life-time are incidentally well brought out by the North African Catholic bishop Facundus of Hermiane in four volumes (the fourth alas with a few spelling mistakes)recently published in Sources Chre'tiennes. For a moderate Donatist author see Tyconius, who has also recently appeared in the same collection.

Posted by clive sweeting at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 1:34pm BST

North African Catholic bishop Facundus of Hermiane in four volumes (the fourth alas with a few spelling mistakes)recently published in Sources Chre'tiennes. For a moderate Donatist author see Tyconius, who has also recently appeared in the same collection

Thanks for that reference, Clive

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 5:09pm BST

Cynthia:

What is the Church? If it is all Christians, then TEC is innovative and schismatic. If it is the Church Catholic, including the RC and Eastern Orthodox, then TEC is innovative and schismatic. If it is the Anglican Communion, then TEC is innovative and schismatic. If it is any of the foregoing taken across time (as opposed to merely as they stand at present), the TEC is even more incredibly innovative and schismatic.

Yet, you say that traditionalists who seek to cling to the historic Christian, Catholic, and Anglican Faith (despite the opposition of TEC) as the TEC departs farther and farther from all of the aforesaid are schismatic? I say that your perspective is beyond is incredibly myopic and skewed. You are completely missing the point.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:21pm BST

Cynthia Gilliat wrote: "It is the Network/AMiA/AAC who are seeking to leave, demanding ALPO [talk about innovations!] and flirting and courting with the likes of ++Akinola, but also hoping to retain for their use the property they hold in trust from TEC."

Dear Cynthia, Maybe this stance would have some credibility outside your own ranks if all this wasn't caused by things done by TEC that:

1. Are different from before (innovations) that,
2. have been agreed by the Communion's Bishops to be unacceptable (in line with the traditional interpretation of Scripture),
3. Have lead to TEC being excluded (temporarily of permanently) from the instruments of unity of the Communion !!!!

I don't understand why you still don't understand ?

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 7:31pm BST

Ruidh:

"Do you, then, believe that the Church is inerrant? The 39 Articles disagree with you."

No, but I do believe that:

(1) "Innovation" in doctrine by the Church as opposed to "development" of doctrine is very bad. Kittens may grow up to be cats, they do not grow up to be dogs. However, I take Newman to have "missed the boat" in other respects--i.e., "overdevelopment" can also be a problem, which is to say that puppies grow up to be dogs, not "Clifford the Big Red Dog". This is where I believe the RC err, allowing some aspects of the faith, which may be proper in proportion (such as Marian devotion) to grow out of proportion. But, I'm probably getting off the subject there.

(2) All proper development of doctrine must be consistent with Scripture. And, though it is possible for the Church to have erred on some points (as noted above) either by innovation or overdevelopment, it has been given the Holy Spirit as a guide, and Church tradition is therefore entitled to great weight in interpreting and understanding Scripture.

(3) The direction of doctrine in the TEC is contrary to Scripture, contrary to Church tradition, represents innovation rather than development, and even if it could be described as development (which I don't believe it is) would represent "a Clifford the Big Red Dog" type of over-development.

(4) Radical changes in doctrine should be approved by the Church as a whole, or the closest thing to an ecumentical counsel as can be managed by the divided Church. TEC's changes have not been approached in this way, but have been enacted against the will of the Communion as a whole, are schismatic, and are currently ripping the Communion apart.

I'd go on, but I'm afraid of exceeding my 400 words.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 8:06pm BST

Dave

There are all kinds of things that could answer your #1, but suffice to say that Jesus adamantly spoke against marginalization and self-righteousness, both of which are hallmarks of the Network/GS (thus, NOT in line with the traditional interpretation of Scripture.)

#2 The bishops of the Communion (esp. the GS) have no legitimate authority to exert the kind of influence (to put it nicely) that they are attempting. If it is not a legitimate exercise of the authority (and it isn't), it then is a coersive abuse of power (thus, NOT in line with the traditional interpretation of Scripture or tradition.)

#3 TEC was not "excluded." TEC *voluntarily* (and temporarily) chose to withdraw (from the ACC) as a show of good faith, which takes a great deal of humility in the face of those who are acting in anything BUT good faith (thus, NOT in line with the traditional interpretation of Scripture, tradition OR reason.)

Maybe the reason you don't understand is because you don't understand (nor wish to.)

Posted by marc at Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 1:19am BST

Steven posited that "all proper development of doctrine must be consistent with Scripture"

All this does is throw us back to the weasel words "consistent with Scripture". I'm all too aware of how consistency with scripture is capable of being circumvented or reinterpreted when it's convenient.

Sometimes I think that we are at a 'Galileo' point in Church History: the Church (except in the True Light Church of North and South Carolina:-) ) long ago conceded the battle with most of the empirical sciences - why else would the proponents of the Genesis creation myths be so assiduous in finding spurious scientific arguments for a Young Earth etc, fo rif they believed in the supremacy of scripture they would not need to kowtow to mere physics.

The issue of how the Church engages with the social sciences and with more difficult areas of science (eg psychology, endocrinology) is now coming to the fore. I hope we make a better job of it this time round than the balls-up we made in the late middle ages and then did for an encore in the mid 19th....

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 10:20pm BST

It is just so difficult to respond, only from strictly inside the preferred conservative (biblicist? traditionalistic?) frame(s) which are supposed to be the start, middle, finish of our discussion.

So, I guess: as an educated person in this century, I begin - with the huge flow of new empirical data that tells me LGBTQ folks are just fine, can do just fine. -In individual personality and adjustment. -In short and long term intimate relationships. –In physically embodied intimacy and commitment with a beloved man or woman. -In friendship and in family, immediate or extended family. -At work, and generally, in other important domains of life.

Given this new data, I quickly remember that not one whit of all this positive, reliable information was predicted - not even a hint, not a glimmer - in any of our received legacy negative views. The only positives I recall from a traditional frame is that something good could happen, mainly and if only, the person involved did not ever positively perceive, feel, or live out anything of the allegedly wrong possible ranges of Queer Stuff. Taking a firm painful stance against one’s possibilities of being LGBTQ was supposedly the royal road to any and all good that could conceivably come of such a sad or broken thing in a human life. No other good is predicted by the negative traditional views.

I step back momentarily. Already this matter is getting weighty. Already, so far then, I am getting real positional clues, with which I am somewhat familiar from weighing other comparative and contrasting paradigms or frames. Even the discrepancies between the two frames help me discern them, and between them.

It looks like sexual orientation variance is a discrete domain piece of solar-system-like discovery. That is, I can minimize or ignore the solidity of the new data, but I cannot disconfirm it. The patently obvious fact that the traditional negative reading could have simply gotten its claims or definitions so wrong must give me serious pause. Real, decent human relationships – real, decent human lives are at stake.

A whole complex mix of elements tend to kick in as I try to follow, discern, investigate, and think. The example and hint towards resolution of my dilemma is already beckoning. I already suspect that I will end up, more or less doing what we believers did when we finally finished processing the solar system discovery.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 30 July 2006 at 11:36pm BST

This has to be one of the most screwed up collections of comments in the entire blog world! Lies and judgments and inaccuracies and hyperboles are simply rampant in a majority of postings!

There are two very simple and clear matters at issue here:

1. The traditionalists believe that anyone who voted for the confirmation of the election of +Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, and anyone who participated in his episcopal ordination, and anyone who is supportive of or in agreement with that ordination is an immoral person. And they further believe that immorality is of such a degree that the sacramental ministries of such persons are invalidated. This is simply the crux of the entire problem. If the denial of sacramental validity had not taken place, we would all be where we have always been: we would be in disagreement about a matter of discipline, and life would go on. And this denial is precisely what St. Augustine and Article 26 argued against: no matter how immoral one considers an ordained person to be, his/her sacramental ministry remains entirely and unconditionally valid – until they are accused, found guilty, and deposed.

2. Four bishops in California are deeply concerned about future legal battles they may have to undertake concerning the ownership of church property in their dioceses. They believe that the Diocese of San Joaquin has passed an article of the diocesan constitution which is contrary to the constitutional hierarchical discipline of the Episcopal Church, and which may open dangerous precedents that could challenge the hierarchical (and canonical) nature of the Episcopal Church as California courts might come to view the same. They fear that the change in the constitution of the diocese of San Joaquin may jeopardize their own episcopal and pastoral jurisdictions and responsibilities. Their accusation is simply that Bp. Schofield has compromised the “discipline” of the Episcopal Church by supporting his diocese’s constitutional change, which may prove to be of significant danger to any diocese in the State of California (or elsewhere, for that matter). They are merely defending the doctrine, DISCIPLINE, and worship of the Episcopal Church for the sake of the people, parishes, and dioceses over which they have jurisdiction and for which they bear responsibility. They are not accusing Bishop Schofield of heresy or impropriety in worship, but of abandoning the canonical DISCIPLINE of the Episcopal Church.

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 6:19am BST

David's reference to Galileo is very timely. I would urge anybody who can to see the new production of Brecht's play at the National Theatre in London. (I did this last week.) This play clearly articulates the issues he mentions and it is impossible to watch the play without thinking about the current disputes.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 8:41am BST

drdanfee's observation about new learning is important for the Church because such new learning always marks a significant shift in Christian self-understanding.

Archbishop Ussher is lampooned for his 4004 BC date of creation — but living as he did prior to Adam Sedgwick, Ussher was simply following best evidence; likewise Kelvin's hopelessly young dating of the earth was not because he was an incompetent but because he lacked the vital information about radioactive processes.

However, post-Sedgwick, the game changes: the acceptance of 4004 is no longer done according to best evidence — the 'scientific method' — but in order to fit in with an (unfalsifiable) ideological standpoint. Thus the age of innocence passes, and a decision, a choice is required where none was required before. Tradition never had to face the questions which we face: even if superficially it looks like they did, we are having to handle hard evidence they did not possess. One (ha!) non-controversial example would be the re-definition of the status of apes based both on genetic similarity to hom sap and our increased awareness of their social structures. 'Brute beasts that have no understanding'?

In one sense, then, it is pointless quoting any authority from before the watershed in support of 'traditional views' — we do not know what they would have done faced with 'new learning':'quod ubique, quod semper' — but if this bit of the jigsaw doesn't fit....

We can choose to ignore or even disparage new information which our ancestors in the faith did not have, but we cannot uninvent it — eppur si muove — nor can we assume arrogantly that they would have disparaged or rejected it.

Perhaps it's essential that the so-called traditionalist position believes homosexuality to be a moral issue only, concerned with obedient and disobedient human beings: if it has an organic/ genetic etc base, then God perhaps has some explaining to do, and in my experience many evangelical Christians find that uncomfortable.

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 11:49am BST

"1. Are different from before (innovations) that,
2. have been agreed by the Communion's Bishops to be unacceptable (in line with the traditional interpretation of Scripture),
3. Have lead to TEC being excluded (temporarily of permanently) from the instruments of unity of the Communion !!!!

I don't understand why you still don't understand ?"

Dave, I apologize for butting in, but what I don't understand is how this is different from the situation in England 500 years ago.

Ford

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 3:51pm BST

David Rowett:

You write good posts. I appreciate that. I don't usually agree with them (which should come as no surprise), but you generally set forth your ideas coherently and succinctly. This makes it easier to engage.

To go back to your posts on "Science", I think the thing you are missing is the fact that Science ultimately has nothing to tell us about right and wrong. It can tell us how to build a nuke, but not whether it is right to drop it on someone. Science can shed light on the issues involved, but good and evil are not within the purview of science. This is the job of something else. So, don't expect an "advance" in science to remove the problems at hand.

If science finally proves up a "gay" gene or something similar it will not eliminate the right/wrong issue, although it may well change the way we look at those dealing with the issue on a personal level. There are genetic predispositions to all types of things. A predisposition to alcoholism does not change whether drunkenness is right or wrong, but it does help in dealing with those who have a problem. (BTW-I have some alcoholics in my family, so this is something I know about). It has recently been determined that there is a genetic predisposition to what is commonly referred to as "road rage" (though it is not restricted to the roadway). This does not affect whether it is wrong to shoot someone in a sudden fit of rage. I read once that the history of operatic basses demonstrates unusual levels (and apparently temptations towards) infidelity, which the author theorized was due to high testosterone levels. Whether true or not, infidelity is still wrong.

The point is that we live in a fallen world and we are all deformed in one way or another. We need to be compassionate on one another's weaknesses, but that does not change the question of what is right and wrong.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 7:07pm BST

Steven;

I agree with what you say about the right/wrong evaluation not being amenable to a scientific answer — but that isn't quite the point I was trying to make, which was that the matrix in which we evaluate our moral decision making may be facing the same sort of phase change as the faith's relationship with empirical science half a millennium ago.

If the 'perversion' language of early Christian/Jewish writers is shown by (say) endocrinology to be inappropriate, those who have severe misgivings about the 'rightness' of stable gay relationships might have to recast an opposition based on homosexuality being a perversion of the natural order. If homosexuality is shown to be a variant within the natural order, the grounds on which (say) Paul appears to have opposed it are severely weakened.

It depends in part, I know, on a circular argument, and where any party steps into it is problematic: if we were to hold that (say) 'a gay gene' (admittedly a ludicrously over-simplified concept) is an aberration, like a predisposition to alcoholism, then it is to be regarded sympathetically, perhaps even without undue condemnation, but nevertheless remains Not A Good Idea. If on the other hand, it is held to be a normal variation, akin to skin colour, say, we are into a different ball game entirely (if you'll pardon the expression!).

But if the perversion language of parts of the Christian tradition were shown to be no longer appropriate as understandings of homosexuality, I suggest other grounds would need to be found by Christians opposed to homosexual practices.

In the case of alcoholism, it is relatively simple to say, "This isn't a good idea." In the case of adultery, we can perhaps posit some evolutionary advantage long past which is now not consonant with an ordered and stable society.

If the matrix of explanation of homosexuality is changing, and the perversion/unnatural presuppositions of past Christian tradition were seen to be inappropriate/misleading, from where would we draw evidence to assist our moral decision making?

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Monday, 31 July 2006 at 10:14pm BST

David:

You need to seriously consider where you are going with this. Do you really think that substituting an Evolutionary framework for deciding whether things are right, wrong, or neutral is superior to using a Biblical framework? Evolutionary reasoning only looks to whether characteristics aid in biological survival and propagation. In the past such reasoning has led to vicious consequences among those who adopted it as a social and/or spiritual paradigm, for pretty obvious reasons.

Do you seriously think such a paradigm is going to favor homosexuality or consider it a "neutral" characteristic? You seem to forget the pink triangles of the Nazis.

From my perspective you are abandoning the Truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures for human ideas that pertain to biological rather than spiritual processes. In the process, you are constructing a syncretistic mess by attempting to meld together totally dissimilar and incompatible idea systems. However, even from your own perspective you should realize that you are (even after putting the worst spin on Christianity and the BEST on evolution), "jumping from the frying pan into the fire", and a very HOT fire at that.

At the broad level, evolutionary theory is a dangerous foundation upon which to build any kind of social, ethical and/or moral system. At the narrow level, as it pertains to homosexuality as an inherited characteristic, it is one that is likely to exclude, excorciate, and attempt to eliminate genetic homosexuality from the reproducing gene pool as a trait that is incompatible with survival of the species.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 2:44pm BST

(1) "Innovation" in doctrine by the Church as opposed to "development" of doctrine is very bad.

I fail to see4 the difference. If something is a development, it must be innovative. I suspect you call something an "innovation" when it's a develoment with which you disagree and a "development" an innovation with which you do agree.

(2) All proper development of doctrine must be consistent with Scripture. And, though it is possible for the Church to have erred on some points (as noted above) either by innovation or overdevelopment, it has been given the Holy Spirit as a guide, and Church tradition is therefore entitled to great weight in interpreting and understanding Scripture.

(3) The direction of doctrine in the TEC is contrary to Scripture, contrary to Church tradition, represents innovation rather than development, and even if it could be described as development (which I don't believe it is) would represent "a Clifford the Big Red Dog" type of over-development.

I profoundly disagree. Superficially, it appears to be addressed in Scripture, but in its essential nature, the kinds of relationships we're discussing here are not discussed at all in Scripture.

(4) Radical changes in doctrine should be approved by the Church as a whole, or the closest thing to an ecumentical counsel as can be managed by the divided Church.

Wht an absurd suggestion. Radical changes should be atytempted by *small* areas of the church and then tested for the fruits of the Spirit. If you wait until the entire Church is ready to accept some development, you will never stop waiting. How long did it take the RCC to accept worship in the common language of the people? Hundreds of years.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 4:04pm BST

No, Steven, you miss my point. I posited that evolutionary processes could not be allowed unlimited reign in a civilised society — even if excess testosterone driven infidelity was a good gene pool idea two million years ago, it isn't now. Humanity has resisted naked evolution since at least the time of the Shanidar burial.

But if being homosexual was revealed by modern study NOT to be 'perverse' or 'unnatural', this drives a coach and horses through Christian (and Scriptural) anti-gay pronouncements which depend on 'unnaturalness' or 'perversion' as their motor.

Christians who find homosexual practice incompatible with Christian faith must start to ask themselves how they would cope with the undermining of what seems to me to have been their core argument. There are, I think, precedents....

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 6:03pm BST

eliminate genetic homosexuality from the reproducing gene pool as a trait that is incompatible with survival of the species.

Actually, you could argue that homosexuality within a species was useful - it provides a number of non-breeding individuals who are more available for other responsibilities within the group.

Don't believe everything you read in CHristian literature about evolution!!

Posted by David Rowett (= mynsterpreost) at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 6:44pm BST

David:

I am fairly familiar with evolution and a variety of other scientific topics. I was a physics major in college with minors in math/chemistry and a large part of my career in law has been spent dealing with technical matters. Very little biotech, but Scientific American and Science News (with all the evolutionary updates anyone could desire) cross my desk monthly/weekly.

Anyhow, I still think you are barking up the wrong tree. Evolution (like other fields of science) does not provide standards for what is right and wrong. At best it can only speak to what encourages the survival and propagation of individuals, species, etc.

Genetic research may reveal a predisposition akin to other predispositions, but an evolutionary analysis can only speak to whether it helps/hinders the individual and species in propagation/survival--not whether it is good or evil. Nonetheless, genetics--if it shows such a predisposition--could help to soften attitudes. However, this does not say whether something is right or wrong, only whether the actor is to some degree compelled to act as he/she does.

BTW-From a biological standpoint I obviously agree that someone does not need to have progeny to benefit the species. (I would agree with this tenet anyhow from a Christian perspective). And, there are certainly instances where non-breeding individuals work altruistically for the benefit of the mass (and not just among ants and bees). However, I have not noticed any evidence that altruism is genetically linked to homosexuality.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 9:21pm BST

Ruidh:

I am not a theologian, but everything I have read and heard on the subject says "innovation" is bad, theologically speaking. The reason for this is that we are not entitled to add to the divine revelation (i.e., innovate), though we may seek to further "develop" our understanding and practices based on what has been revealed (e.g., develop a more polished understanding of the trinity based on the evidence for the trinity revealed in Scripture).

Legitimate development takes the whole counsel of Scripture into account, thereby putting every part of Scripture in context with the whole witness of Scripture, and seeking to reconcile the parts with the whole. (The Articles also speak to this). Such developments can start somewhere small, but they eventually come before the whole Church for testing, to see whether they are to be affirmed as valid developments or dismissed as innovation. The great councils of the Church are examples of this process at work.

As to the Anglican Communion, the closest thing available is Lambeth. At Lambeth '98 the issue was brought before the assembled bishops of the Communion and voted down. TEC has chosen to ignore this and move forward on its own. This has precipitated a crisis in the Communion as well as in TEC. And, here we stand . . .

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 9:45pm BST

David:

A quick follow-up. I don't mean to imply that there can't be areas of overlap--i.e., areas where a trait might be seen as beneficial from an evolutionary standpoint and might also be seen as being good from a Christian standpoint. The same is true in reverse. There are also occasions where an evolutionary analysis would label a trait as non-beneficial biologically and a Scriptural analysis would see it as being evil.

However, these remain two separate systems. Evolutionary analysis is not about good and evil, and Scriptural/Christian analysis does not rest on biological benefit.

Steven

PS-following up on something else mentioned earlier--It would be interesting if there was a proved genetic link between homosexuality and other traits that were extremely beneficial biologically and/or "good" (such as altruism). But, that is an issue for another day and for real theologians, not me . . .

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 1 August 2006 at 10:33pm BST

Steven,
Putting the issue in the whole context of Scripture and seeking to reconcile the parts with the whole is exactly what the "reappraisers" are doing. The overall witness of Scripture is of a profligately loving God, generous beyond belief. He, the Creator of all that is, became one of the poor and homeless among us, lived in poverty, and was tortured to death, and finally rose again, and all to set us free by finally overcoming all that enslaves us. He stood against the pious legalism of His day, and smashed the traditions that were considered to be God's way at the time. I often wonder how I, who believe it or not have a tendency to conservatism, would have reacted to Him. "Oh sure, He says we should eat with sinners, He talks to unclean people, and even Gentile women, and even allows His followers to break the Sabbath. He's just a self important blasphemer who thinks he can ignore the plainly written word of God to justify His own liberal politics."

There are 7 or 8 passages of Scripture, most of them in the OT, that speak against something we, with varying degrees of certainty depending on the passage, translate as homosexuality. This seems to fly in the face of the profligate generosity of the God we see elsewhere. So those passages must be understood in light of the whole, and that's what people are trying to do.

As to Lambeth Confrences, several of them have enjoined on the Church that we listen to gay people, not accept nor condemn, but listen. While you may argue that liberal churches have listened by approving, how many conservative churches have actually obeyed these several Lambeth resolutions and listened to gay people, even if only to condemn?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 3:21pm BST

Ford:

I disagree in terms of what Scripture shows and teaches, but that should come as no surprise. And, quite frankly, I'm not too interested in debating the issue--I've found it to be pointless, and have watched several debates of this type between board "scholars" as they argue of the meaning of greek and hebrew texts.

I found the traditional interpretations utterly convincing and the liberal attempts to be, at best, empty and only thinly disguised attempts to wiggle around the obvious in an attempt to justify predetermined prejudices. But so what? That's not why I'm here.

The two sides are irreconcilable, both in terms of the different presuppositional frameworks they employ and in terms of the conclusions they reach within those frameworks. Neither will depart from their respective frameworks or conclusions. Thus, we have reached an impasse.

This is not, unfortunately, one of those minor things that can be passed over. Both sides explicitly or implicitly accuse the other of SIN and HERESY in a big way. This is not a difference that can be papered over. This is BIG.

So, what do we do? I keep trying to suggest that we work out a fair separation that keeps both sides as much as possible from bitterness. If possible, it would be good to have some type of continuing relationship. Why? Because there is no current solution, but if we don't burn all of our bridges behind us something may develop across the course of time.

That's the best I can foresee, and all I'm trying to promote.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 6:02pm BST

I'm not overly comfortable with the hoops through which we must jump, either, actually, while I do understand the translation issues involved. Like you, I'd like to keep the bitterness down. A man at my parish says, "You know Ford, if we really believe what we say we believe, we'd go crawling on our knees to the altar for Communion." My response is that there is another school that says if we truly believed what we say we believe, we'd go dancing for joy up the aisle for Communion. This seems to be a fight between the dancers and the crawlers. Sadly, each side COULD learn from the other, but won't.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 2 August 2006 at 8:01pm BST
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