Thinking Anglicans

more from the Chicago Consultation

Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a paper entitled “Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time”.

Read the full text on Daily Episcopalian over here.

Read the Episcopal News Service report here.

Check at Episcopal Café for more papers soon.

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L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

A very interesting and forward-looking paper.

This is the future.

david wh
david wh
13 years ago

Rev Canon Prof McCord seems to have managed to argue for the normalisation of same-sex relationships based purely on drawing equivalents with racism and sexism. But race and sex are inate properties. Whereas even identical twins, with the same genetics and womb environment, do not necessarily develop the same sexualities. Plus many people experience themselves as changing sexuality (George Melly for instance). Further, sexual behaviour does not necessarily equate to sexual orientation. So, just because some people currently experience themselves as sexually orientated towards people of the same sex, doesn’t mean that same-sex sex is righteous. If Prof McCord wants… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
13 years ago

My Goodness, what could this be? Truth ringing clear as a bell instead of the tired old muckraking from Hell?

Joseph O'Leary
13 years ago

I agree: this is the future.

Maybe this kind of theology will succeed in giving a wholesome, liberating, saving sense to the word “biblical”, used so obnoxiously by so many today.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Why can’t Marilyn McCord Adams and Rowan Williams swap jobs?

David Walker
David Walker
13 years ago

A fascinating paper, with some important observations on how liberals and conservatives act. But her case is, for me, fatally undermined by the fact that she collapses ecclesiology into democracy – and nation/state democracy at that. Indeed, one might say a distinctively North American model of democracy that attempts to bypass Hegel (and Marx, though it contains what some may see as Trotskian transitional demands) in how it understands conflict and challenge. In England at least I would have thought that the main liberal tradition is the “liberal catholic” with which I would personally identify more than any other label.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

David and David
I’m not sure you’ve not missed the main point of the paper. She isn’t trying to persuade you to her point of view. On the contrary, she knows that is impossible.

What she is doing is calling for an end to extreme liberal tolerance that appears to set no limits to what we agree to in the name of liberal values.

It’s time we got our act together and began to set some real boundaries.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Sorry, got muddled with my previous comment, it was not aimed at David Walker.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

David and David: you both seem to be rather sneery about Marilyn McCord Adams: she is one of the sharpest thinkers you’ll ever come across. Regius Professors of Divinity at Oxford are not generally intellectual lightweights.

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

“Homophobia is a sin whose end time is now,” said the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams”

This is what I call the future. This is the only boundary I am prepared to consider, until it is effectively addressed.

(Talk about christology at a crossroads!).

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

An excellent paper and I appreciate her wisdom that churches are not divine: “…the Church is summoned to vigilance, to institutional circumspection which is ever on the lookout to identify the systemic evils to which it gives rise; to repentance and works meet for repentance that seek to uproot them. Nor is this a temporary and passing assignment. When it comes to social and political arrangements, our institutions will always be riddled with systemic evils. Because it proves so difficult to uproot any one of them, because we can’t dig out all of them at once, we are everywhere-and-always tempted… Read more »

Steve Caldwell
13 years ago

On 13 December 2007, david wh wrote: -snip- “But race and sex are inate properties. Whereas even identical twins, with the same genetics and womb environment, do not necessarily develop the same sexualities. Plus many people experience themselves as changing sexuality (George Melly for instance). Further, sexual behaviour does not necessarily equate to sexual orientation. So, just because some people currently experience themselves as sexually orientated towards people of the same sex, doesn’t mean that same-sex sex is righteous.” (1) Biology and genetics isn’t a simple binary yes/no situation. For example, we know from identical twin studies that genetically identical… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“Finally, if the sexual behavior involves two consenting adults and doesn’t harm anyone, wouldn’t that make it “righteous” enough for us?” Not even for me, actually. Just because something pleases us as individuals doesn’t make it right, even if it causes no harm. Besides, we aren’t always good at judging what causes harm. I just don’t buy the legalist conservative “God says so” argument. Given that they have to use so much falsehood, distortion, and propaganda in their arguments suggests to me they don’t believe it either. I could accept an argument that respects who I am, how difficult it… Read more »

badman
badman
13 years ago

Welcome back, David Walker. Please stay – you have been missed.

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

‘..So, just because some people currently experience themselves as sexually orientated towards people of the same sex, doesn’t mean that same-sex sex is righteous.”

And on the other hand :

just because some people currently experience themselves as sexually orientated towards people of the opposite sex, doesn’t mean that opposite-sex sex is righteous.

Does it .

Charlotte
Charlotte
13 years ago

“What she is doing is calling for an end to extreme liberal tolerance that appears to set no limits to what we agree to in the name of liberal values. It’s time we got our act together and began to set some real boundaries.” I’m in full agreement with this. And yes, this is something that applies to all parties in the current conflict. Including (she says, with gritted teeth) us liberals. ++Rowan, on the other hand, seems to believe that any sort of acting-out will be tolerated as long as it will “keep people at the table.” But people… Read more »

dave p
13 years ago

“Regius Professors of Divinity at Oxford are not generally intellectual lightweights.”

Nor is the current ABC, and yet he isn’t very effective at much right now, is he?

Smart people are still subject to making poor cases for their POV.

The rigorous theology from the liberal side is still sorely lacking, even four years after Gene Robinson’s consecration (and eight years since he was first a candidate for the epicopate.)

This would be (and should be) one of the truly legitimate crticisms the conservatives could make, if only they weren’t so concerned with their petty power games.

Ren Aguila
Ren Aguila
13 years ago

Dave makes a relatively valid point about theology. Sometimes, I wonder whether the liberal argument can be boiled down to confusing human rights with the Gospel. Then, I realize that the conservative argument can be boiled down to confusing reactionary ideology with the Gospel.

The trouble is, the more I realize how wrong the latter is, I am not as convinced of how right the former seems to be. Anyone, when provoked, can say anything, no matter how–in the end–it does not stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

Charlotte
Charlotte
13 years ago

Ren Aguila, your complaint is a common one these days. Are you by any chance following the discussions at Father Greg Jones’s blog “The Anglican Centrist”? I’m fairly convinced myself of the need for a fresh start in theology — and that is not to disparage Professor McCord Adams’s contributions, here and elsewhere.

Graham Kings
13 years ago

In his latest book of collected essays, Rowan Williams includes a piercing critique of the theodicy of Marilyn McCord Adams. Rowan Williams, ‘Redeeming Sorrow: Marilyn McCord Adams and the defeat of Evil’, Chapter 13 in ‘Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology’ (London: SCM Press, 2007), pp. 255-274. Originally this was a paper presented at the 15th annual conference on philosophy of religion, Claremont, February 1991 as a reply to Marilyn McCord Adams’ paper at the same conference, ‘Evil and the God-who-does-nothing-in-particular’. Both were first published in D.Z. Phillips (ed.) ‘Religion and Morality’ Claremont Studies in the Philosphy of Religion… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Gee this thread got sorta silly, with the consevo remarks that the liberal or progressive believer position boils simplistically down to a shallow notion of civil rights or human rights. Just for that thread record: ah, no, not at all. The civil rights or human rights notions get wide play, mainly for two obvious reasons. Firstly, the church has a simply abominable record when it comes to either the civil rights or the human rights of citizens who are not straight. A really terrible historical record. So many lib-prog correctives in ethics and theological discernment start where some of the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“The rigorous theology from the liberal side is still sorely lacking, even four years after Gene Robinson’s consecration (and eight years since he was first a candidate for the epicopate.)” How rigorous and complex does theology have to be to show that slavery is wrong? These things are much more a case of a true awareness in people. The resulting theology is, eventually, extraordinarily simple. The complex stage is needed when people still try to stick with pre-awareness concepts and throw up one objection after the other. Having said that, there is very good theology around, why do people keep… Read more »

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Dave and Ren: yes, I think you’re both right. However, there is a huge growth in, for want of a better word, “gay theology”. It’s not all being produced by airheads, either. I don’t know whether we could expect “rigorous theology” to emerge from the liberal side in the wake of Bp Robinson’s consecration, any more than it has emerged from all these years of women’s ordination. When Abp Rowan was a don, the tenor of his teaching was very much that you should have the courage to follow your intellectual convictions even when it takes you into controversial and… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
13 years ago

The Archbishop of Wales is to consecrate a missionary bishop for America.

Speaking in Cardiff after the dramatic announcement today, Dr Barry Morgan said he felt that all Anglicans in America with the surnames: Jones, Williams, Jenkins as well as Lloyd, Morgan, Gwynn, Vaughan, Meredith and Llewelyn should immediately transfer their allegiance to the new bishop.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“Sometimes, I wonder whether the liberal argument can be boiled down to confusing human rights with the Gospel.” This keeps going round and round in my mind. It is clear that gospel values are more than human rights. But how can it be that human rights should not be part of gospel values? Can it be that humans can be more compassionate, loving and respectful than God? That’s not to say that every “I want” is a human right. But if it IS a true human right it’s a gospel value. We tend to believe that God only speaks through… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Ren I think your posting very nicely highlights the problems of “absolutism”, whether that be liberal inclusiveness or conservative puritanism. In reality, we come to realise that the extremes and absolutist interpretations and implementations mean either condoning an abomination (e.g. a pedophile father having sex with his 9-year-old daughter) or making the goals unachievable (one shall not divorce even if thy husband steals your life’s savings, rapes and bashes you to the point of hospitalisation). The reality is that we look at the merits of various positions, and recognize where the boundaries would be pushed too far. It is not… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“What is disturbing in her account of providence is that it suggests that providential divine action has something of the nature of crisis management – that is, it is essentially reactive. It becomes more necessary the worse things get. The implication is that, as human history evolves, it is quite likely that we shall need increasing supplements of direct divine intervention to save us from even worse disasters than we currently experience. (p. 266)”

The alternative to “crisis management” is well known; it’s called navel-pilling in Swedish.

The technical term is deus otiosus.

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

Graham sums up the basic problem

The idea that there is a ‘personal’ God who ‘acts ‘ in the world.

Its medieval silliness. God and religion are human creations.

Andrew
13 years ago

I’ve met Marilyn McCord Adams and heard her preach. I haven’t read her scholarly work, and perhaps it is quite intellectually powerful, but I think I might find it as unsatisfactory as Rowan Williams does. I say this because the sermon I heard from her and the conversation I participated in with her were in no way intellectually weighty. She made a lot of cheap, shock value points including that Jesus was a bastard and several other things. Absolutely the opposite of someone like Rowan Williams.

badman
badman
13 years ago

I find the notion that human rights are somehow antithetical to Christianity a little odd. The 1978 Lambeth Conference Resolution (3) on Human Rights is worth citing in full: The Conference regards the matter of human rights and dignity as of capital and universal importance. We send forth the following message as expressing our convictions in Christ for the human family world-wide. We deplore and condemn the evils of racism and tribalism, economic exploitation and social injustices, torture, detention without trial and the taking of human lives, as contrary to the teaching and example of our Lord in the Gospel.… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

I don’t understand the relevance of Graham Kings raising here and on Fulcrum rowan Williams’s “devastating in its demolition of McCord Adams’ concept of God.”

The article in the book is a just a resell of a 1991 paper obviously as part of the selling of books with Rowan Williams’s name on the front.

I’m interested in what she is saying now, and on this issue, and it is here about the limits of tolerance.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“The trouble is, the more I realize how wrong the latter is, I am not as convinced of how right the former seems to be.” Can we form a support group? Seriously, I find myself getting more and more frustrated with the extreme positions of both sides, each adamant of its own rightness. Many of each side’s critiques of the other are valid, I think. While I guess I basically side with the Left, there’s a lot on the Left that makes me uncomfortable. I thought it was just my innate knowledge that I am right, and why can’t everybody… Read more »

Ren Aguila
Ren Aguila
13 years ago

On the contrary, Erika, I think one recent development in ecclesiology is that the church–not merely the institution–is the alternative to the prevailing society that makes itself the fulfillment of human needs. (The term ekklesia is sometimes used to avoid the problems associated with the so-called “institutional church.”) Not that the church is a pure society, but that it is willing to criticize the world in which it exists. I won’t use the question of sexual ethics here, but rather how the modern world makes a claim to being the “heavenly city” which it cannot be. At the same time,… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Could the mainstreaming of homosexual partnerships act to increase the divorce rate. Not solely, and not absolutely directly either. By means of helping to create an atmosphere in which marriage is thoroughly and/or increasingly optional and disposable? Now you’re talking.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Rubbish, Christopher. If gay people marry, they obviously have no effect on heterosexual divorce rates. If anything, they are saying that the ideal of married commitment is worth aspiring to. That sort of illogical thinking, worthy of My Lord Carey, illustrates how the conservative case is little more than scare-mongering.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Ford and Ren,

that’s why I also said (was it on another thread?):

Society is more open to experimenting. The church then discerns what of this experiment is new truth and what is going in the wrong direction. To believe that the Spirit is only active within the confines of our ecclesiastical structures and processes is an error.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“By means of helping to create an atmosphere in which marriage is thoroughly and/or increasingly optional and disposable?” How does marrying gay people give that impression? How does fighting tooth and nail for the right to marry make marriage appear disposable? Is it not more reasonable to say that the image of marriage as disposable is a direct result of heterosexuals treating their marriages in that way? Gay people after all, can’t get married in most societies, thus don’t have marriage to dispose of. Unless you are referring to the situation in which one or both partners is gay and… Read more »

Ben W
Ben W
13 years ago

David Walker, McCord Adams does do some interesting things here, and you can go a long way down this road if you accept her premises. This becomes apparent on several fronts: about the church she says it is both “divine and human.” But then she only attends to what is human, “the ways we organize ourselves–are human constructions that have no intrinsic authority.” It is a matter of developing “skillful means” to certain ends. On “homophobia” she reheareses the history of the treatment of homosexual people; we should learn some things from that as we should from the treatment of… Read more »

Ren Aguila
Ren Aguila
13 years ago

By the way, Charlotte, I haven’t really gotten around to reading Fr. Jones’s blog, until now. It does make for some promising reading.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

Ben “Between 1961 and 2001, the country’s population increased from 18 million to 31 million . . . In the same period, the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada fell by 53%, and it’s still picking up speed.” Well the seeds of the future are in great part in the repsonses we make today” I couldn’t agree with you more! To think what problems are facing this world – and we get more and more worked up about what kind of loving loving couples do. It’s utterly pathetic and we truly deserve to loose even more relevance if we… Read more »

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

Ben: yes, you’re quite right that the churches have been painting themselves into the corner of total irrelevance. If you look at the morally very hard-line RC Church right across Europe, you can see that it is at serious risk of dying out in a generation. Why? Because young Europeans don’t want to be told they can’t use contraception, can’t divorce, can’t marry same sex partners, can’t have any role at all in the Church’s decision-making if they are lay people, can’t get ordained if they are women, etc., etc. It is a long list of needless stumbling blocks to… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

Erika, In so far as any of my friends recognize anything like liberal Christianity, they see it as a sad, if somewhat cute, attempt to look good. They know what Christianity is: an evil, manipulative belief system that supports the traditional abusers of power, and does not in any way follow the teaching it pretends to. It is comprised of people who will lie and cheat to get what they want, who will walk all over “unimportant” members of society, who show no understanding of anyone’s pain and hardships, and who will do whatever they like while hypocritically demanding everyone… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

“Could the mainstreaming of homosexual partnerships act to increase the divorce rate. Not solely, and not absolutely directly either. By means of helping to create an atmosphere in which marriage is thoroughly and/or increasingly optional and disposable? Now you’re talking.”

How in the name of heaven (quite literally) does the opening of marriage to a previously excluded class of people make marriage “increasingly optional and disposable”? Logically, doesn’t it do exactly the opposite?

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

“In the same period, the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada fell by 53%, and it’s still picking up speed.” Well the seeds of the future are in great part in the repsonses we make today.”

That stat–like the one about Episcopal membership dropping over the same time in the US–only has bearing if placed in the context of ALL religious membership in each nation over time. I think you’ll find that, in the US, only two religions are growing, both mainly through immigration: Roman Catholicism and Islam.

Malcolm+
13 years ago

Ben; “Between 1961 and 2001, the country’s population increased from 18 million to 31 million . . . In the same period, the membership of the Anglican Church of Canada fell by 53%, and it’s still picking up speed.” Of course, the membership statistics for most denomination show similar trends over the period. That includes both Rome and the assorted conservative Calvinist sects. The decline is fairly consistent with the surrounding demographics, regardless of diocese, churchmanship or relative liberalism or conservatism. Certainly the statistic tells us that the Church can do a better job a evangelism. It tells us nothing… Read more »

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

The Archbishop of Wales is to consecrate a missionary bishop for America.

Speaking in Cardiff after the dramatic announcement today, Dr Barry Morgan said he felt that all Anglicans in America with the surnames: Jones, Williams, Jenkins as well as Lloyd, Morgan, Gwynn, Vaughan, Meredith and Llewelyn should immediately transfer their allegiance to the new bishop.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 14 December 2007 at 9:20am GMT

And all bearing the ancient and noble name of Roberts / Robaitsh be consecrated forthwith as bishops !

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

It is worth reading in full and is devastating in its demolition of McCord Adams’ concept of God.

Rowan Williams states in his opening paragraph:

‘I find her paper unsatisfactory in terms both of philosophical analysis and of moral adequacy to the question of suffering’ (p. 255)

”WELL, I find his papers, letters and statments unsatisfactory in terms both of philosophical analysis and of moral adequacy of his understanding of relationship & love.”

L Roberts

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

Why oh why is anglicanism, in Britain at least, so infected with this terrible snobbery and snidery ? WE won’t find much in Jesus’ message about gay relationships, civil partnerships or ‘scholarship;. But then what do I know ? I am no-body in the eyes of this compromised organisation.

dave paisley
13 years ago

Erika: “Having said that, there is very good theology around, why do people keep saying there isn’t? “ I wasn’t implying that there isn’t plenty of “gay theology” around, but that the leadership of TEC (at least the liberal wing) should have the guts to lay out the particular gay theology they support. Frank Griswold, in the aftermath the Windsor Report, admitted that TEC had not made the theological case and (supposedly) commissioned some work on the issue. The results so far: (tumbleweed blowing down main street…) There’s a huge difference between “there’s gay theology out there” to “this is… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“… in the US, only two religions are growing, both mainly through immigration: Roman Catholicism and Islam.”

And both of them have memberships that are mainly nominal.

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