Thinking Anglicans

O'Donovan on the Anglican Communion

Fulcrum has just published the second of a series of articles by Oliver O’Donovan. It is entitled The Care of the Churches. No doubt this will generate some discussion on Fulcrum, and perhaps even here. Entangled States chose this pull-quote:

When the Windsor Report posed, as the alternative to its own approach, that ‘we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart’, it clearly did not mean this as a choiceworthy alternative, one that the church of Jesus Christ could opt for with integrity. It was to be viewed as a horizon of total failure. Unhappily, it seems to have underestimated the capacity of Anglicans to think the unthinkable. The immediate effect of the hardening of the anti-revisionist position was to make the breach more likely; indeed, some voices, however little representative, did not hesitate to suggest that this was something to be welcomed. On the revisionist side the idea of an amicable separation of the ways had long been mooted – just another example of liberal other-worldliness, unfortunately, since the only separation ever to be looked for was bound to be far from amicable. To the anti-revisionists looking in this direction it was to be a solemn exercise of church discipline. A curious combination of ecclesiological influences, Calvinist and patristic, had already encouraged a number of bishops to raise their voices and announce the several combinations of churches and bishops with whom they were and were not in communion. The resulting untidiness in the Anglican world communion began to make some think that a shoot-out would be the desirable curtain-fall.

But this severely underestimated its difficulties. Such an occurrence would, for one thing, destroy the Anglican identity.

The previous article in the series, The Failure of the Liberal Paradigm provoked comments on various blogs, and also an article in last week’s Church Times by Giles Fraser, What true liberalism really wants. Other comments on it which I found interesting can be found here, and here, and also here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

I read wonderful things in both parts of this series, side by side with odd or curious things, side by side with what I read as outright falsehoods. Among the wonderful things? His grasp of: (1) conservative realignment would breach the core values of our historically mixed Anglican identity – room for evangelicals, catholics, progressives; (2) the queer communities are actively investigating and maturely reflecting on their own innate capacities for individual and communal good, truth, and care; (3) various forms of legacy authority innately contain the seeds of their own bases for self-scrutiny and self-correction. At times I read… Read more »

Simon Cawdell
Simon Cawdell
14 years ago

I think Dan in your last paragraph you are setting up a false distinction, in that you appear to suggest that science and theology are somehow opposed. I cannot imagine you think that, and nor would the professor. But he is arguing through the medium of his background, beginning with theology.

Your final sentences, I think, are pressing a different question from that being addressed in this article. Whether he chooses to address it we shall need to wait and see for the rest of the series.

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

Howdy SC, let me try to clear up confusions. It is the good professor’s presumptive characterizations of liberal thinking as fatally lacking in practical reason – see Part One, I think (maybe my ailing memory fails me again?) – that raises the issues of science. In fact, most liberal thinkers that I know make a great deal of reading science as part of the reason/practical reason leg of the typical Anglican three-legged stool. (Lately I’ve heard that Anglicans have taken to mentioning experience as a fourth leg, but for me this is entirely redundant as reason must ever include experience,… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
14 years ago

drdanfee noted “It is the professor’s frame which []sets us all up []to conclude that a negative reading of scripture concerning sexuality, say, must trump empirical data. If the only way we can maintain our legacy condemnations of LGBTQ folks is to consistently leave out the real world data of their decency, normal range variation, competency, and care – what sort of theology are we doing?” Good question. Most disturbingly, perhaps, this closed world theology is only allowed to operate in carefully selected areas. Even creationists try and get science to back them up, rather than disregard it, even if… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

I do think drdan and DR have a point here. While it may not be entirely fair to single out O’Donovan in this regard, it does seem to me that there is a continuing reluctance among at least some theological conservatives to engage with science. This point was starkly illustrated for me a few months ago when I saw two leading CofE evangelicals (note to SC: not members of Fulcrum 🙂 interviewed on a Channel 4 documentary, and one of them stated that he “did not accept the category of ‘being homosexual'”. And I was reminded of this again recently… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

This is close to the nub of the issue, & therefore worth pursuing. My impression was that the recent pro-homosexual movement was largely the result of social change (specifically: part and parcel of a more general loosening of sexual morals, which was never actually argued for but was just the result of people ‘going with the flow’ as their social/economic circumstances increasingly allowed them to do so). Not the result of scientific advances in the same period which clearly pointed a certain way. Hang it all, how many participants in the sexual revolution base their behaviour on any findings of… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
14 years ago

how many participants in the sexual revolution base their behaviour on any findings of science

umm, how about the contraceptive pill…:-)

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
14 years ago

The question is whether this is beneficial, or to be encouraged.

A serious question, Christopher — so what parameters are we to use for assessing this? And does the acknowledgement that homosexuality is not a ‘perversion’ but part of the normal spectrum of human diversity (for good or ill) undermine arguments based on ‘unnaturalness’ and ‘perversion’ which seem to underpin a lot of the scriptural and Christian tradition?

It’s good to see the discussion move on.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Hi David As for the pill, Im sure you are speaking jokingly. Obviously the pill made certain things *possible*. It didn’t simultaneously make those things *moral*, nor was that the reason why people started taking it. It was mere opportunism. The ways to assess what is good or beneficial is to compare statistics for (a) people who are and are not X (e.g. homosexual), and (b) pre-acceptance of X and post-acceptance of X. What kind of statistics are relevant? Three at least: Promiscuity rates. Disease rates. Life expectancy. By each measure homosexuals (on average, of course) do not fare well… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

Unfortunately this brief report of statistics depends upon a fatal flaw – ommitting the intervening discrimination/prejudice factors that mediate causes and effects. Yes, simple surveys of large human populations consistently report high statistical risks of suicide, say, among LGBTQ Youth, say about ages 12 to 22. The classic conservative argument is that this demonstrates for us that having a certain non-straight sexual orientation reliably causes suicidality – it is right there, plainly reported in the statistics, no? Then closer and more detailed studied of these suicides help us to get a whole range of mediating domains – youth depression, say.… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

So far as the WNL designation goes, all the best data we so far have from both animal and human studies suggests that sexual orientation variance is within the normal ranges for human variety. Not one of the alleged personality defects, or other human incompetencies, which received negative theories or models allege are caused by having a non-straight sexual orientation holds us, once you suitably control for Subject and Experimenter biases in your study method. Every double-blind study provides data to loosen and dissolve those supposed empirical links. A social historian in USA at least could reasonably argue that without… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
14 years ago

“The ways to assess what is good or beneficial is to compare statistics for (a) people who are and are not X (e.g. homosexual), and (b) pre-acceptance of X and post-acceptance of X.”

The flaw in this logic is clear if ‘X’ = ‘Jew’ and the context is 1940’s Occupied Europe, or ‘Tutsi’ in 1990’s Rwanda or….. It’s not a sophisticated point, I know….

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

David – good point. Better make that ‘avoidable premature death rate’. drdanfee- thanks for your commitment to truth. Points arising: (1) To speak of ‘sexuality’ and/or ‘sexual orientation’ prejudges the issue. To use these rather modern terms at all (which most societies at most times have not felt the need for) is a short step from adjudging all sexualities / orientations equal. All? Polyamory? Bestiality? Paedophilia? – the last of which is unfortunately very ‘normal’ (a ‘normal’ orientation as opposed to a ‘normal’ practice) as shown by internet search engine figures. (2) Following on from which – I am not… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

It would be nice if the comments here could be related to what Oliver O’Donovan actually said.

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
14 years ago

Yessir:-)) Rather lost the thread a bit. But when O’Donovan says ‘For one church to wish it of another “that you may have communion with us” is framed by a daring and demanding conviction: “our communion is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ”‘ and then spends much of the rest of the article explaining how that daring ACTUALLY involves defining boundaries to that communion, something just doesn’t join up for me, I fear. It’s still the model of someone setting themselves up (be it a tradition or an ecclesial structure) to define whether another is in communion… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

A small point: Very often (maybe even more than 50% of the time) faults in argumentation lie at the level not of the argumentation itself (which may be internally coherent) but of the presuppositions. Everybody will agree with this point. In order to address the presuppositions, one has to go slightly ‘off topic’ or off at a tangent. Everyone will also agree with that. People who are interested in finding the truth will want to do so by all means. This will sometimes involve addressing presuppositions and at other times involve already-stated arguments. Anyone whose focus is on the truth… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

To clarify: not being computer-minded, I am not sure whether it is permissible or not to comment on other people’s comments, as opposed to directly on the postings. Whether it is permissible or not, it certainly happens all the time, & I hope this is a positive thing.
Addressing commenters’ presuppositions takes one off at an even graater tangent than addressing the presuppositions of posters or posted; but hopefully it is all in the cause of truth.

17
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x