Thinking Anglicans

opinions in Christian Unity Week

Ekklesia brings us a piece by Martin Marty titled Catholic but not necessarily Roman.

And also, Kersten Storch writes about Praying for unity across a century of division.

Peter Steinfels writes in the New York Times about Praying for Christian Unity, When Diversity Has Been the Answer.

Roderick Strange writes in the Tablet about Newman, in Saintly, but very human.

The Guardian has Theo Hobson writing Face to Faith, and he argues that The Church of England’s gay crisis makes clear that that liberal Anglicanism is finished.

In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes that I cannot eat at your table, Plato.

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Jay VosSimon SarmientoHugh of LincolnPrior Aelredrick allen Recent comment authors
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Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

I am reluctant to disagree with Giles Fraser. Who am I to criticise a lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford? I think however that Giles makes a mistake by seeking to separate Philosophy and Religion as two separate entities or disciplines. That distinction may exist in modern universities, but did it exist in ancient times? Plato has always appeared to me to be the most spiritual of writers. We may struggle with the “abstract metaphysical” concept of the form of a table being the model of all real tables. But what difference is there betweeen that idea and the idea that… Read more »

Brian MacIntyre
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Brian MacIntyre

I’m always irritated and amused when someone trumpets “the death of” or “the end of” this or that – the novel, ideology, religion, sex, capitalism, communism, feminism, science – they’re generally wrong. Theo Hobson’s piece is a slightly more thoughtful version of the oft-heard “I don’t believe in organized religion” expression. He may be right that the reactionaries will win the day (outside of North America anyway). But I think he’s a little too hasty in sounding he death-knell for organized religion. I agree with him in objecting to authoritarianism; but he suggests that you can’t possibly have an organized… Read more »

Pluralist
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Yes, there are many more Greek influences than simply Plato, but unlike Simon above I think an anti-Plato stance is a good one – and yes it does impact of Christ as perfect human, perfect form, perfect God and all that. As for the articles, well use of Roman is useful in order to say what is and what is not. There are many independent ecclesial communities (to use a phrase), for example independent sacramental Catholics, that define themselves precisely as being non-Roman. Accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury pursuing a neo-Roman Catholicism does imply a shorthand of centralisation of authority… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

I, too, rather doubt that we are seeing the end of conservatisms or liberalisms in religious life, or religious institutions. As if the main point of being conservative or liberal was incarnate in arriving at some (near) total domination? Oh, Really? Okay, maybe some forms, some patterns, some iterations of one or the other, or even that other. The shaking we now endure, not least in the agonies of our current mean-spirited conservative realignment campaign (which will no doubt seek to express itself as forcefully, i.e., therefore as meanly as possible, at the next Lambeth, and though we may all… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
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It is good that Giles is looking beyond the surface of things to the premises and presumptions behind them. There have been some wonderful discourses in recent times questioning the presumption that the body is “sinful” and the soul “divine” and that we are to restrain one and worship the other. Here’s another article for those who want to do more contemplations along those lines http://www.torah.org/learning/ramchal/classes/fundamental4-4.html I agree Drdanfee; tyranny is most certainly not a pleasant form of governance. There is a Chinese saying that societies are at their best when they are ruled by a benevolent dictator. The Abrahamic… Read more »

John
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John

I agree with Simon. The philosophical influences on Christianity are wildly varied, and Plato is one the lesser influences. The biggest single influence, at least in the West, would have to Aristotle. Eight centuries of Scholastic, Protestant Scholastic, and Neo-Scholastic theology bears witness to that. Roman Catholicism still proclaims transubstantiation as an article of faith. What I find troubling about some of Fraser’s recent columns is that he seems to be suggesting somehow Christians are to be only what John Stott called “Bible people.” No doubt the Scriptural tradition shapes and forms us as Christians, but we live in a… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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“Yet when the church claims authority to rule on sexual morality his tune changes. This aspect of its teaching is mistaken, he says, and amounts to a betrayal of the Gospel. The problem is that this tradition of sexual moralism is part of the traditional authority of the church, which Father Giles claims to affirm.”

Traditionally, Platonic Gnosticist Academics in State and Church claimed Authority because of their being celibate.

The “White” Martyrdom, they called it.

That is a very un-Biblical authority. The Bible is about Life, not death. Lechaim. So is the Gospel. Enough said.

JCF
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JCF

Theo Hobson’s editorial is so full of *logical fallacies*, it is difficult to know where to begin. The problem ISN’T that the Church is affirming sexual morality, in the form of marriage. It’s that it’s *violating the Imago Dei*, of those God made LGBT (by denying them the right to/blessings of monogamous marriage, the same it gives to heterosexuals). Moreover, simply from a position of *political prediction*, Hobson likely has it ALL wrong. As it appears now, the Lambeth Conference will happen all right—but WITHOUT the Akinolist Bloc, which will stay away (if the “apostate” Episcopalians are permitted to attend).… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

Liberal Anglicanism might indeed be dead in the CoE, but it is alive and well in the U.S., Canada, Scotland, South Africa, etc.. These churches are in position to carry on the tradition of broad Anglicanism should Rowan continue to kowtow to the fundamentalists.

In other words, Mr. Hobson, England is not the whole world.

Pluralist
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About Theo Hobson (regarding England) I now have this:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/01/hobsons-end.html

He hasn’t counted all the chess pieces, nor where they are.

Cheryl Va. Clough
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JCF I think it is time that people stopped focussing on sexual morality and relearnt the concept of “righteousness”. There’s a plethora of bible studies to be done. Some gem passages, and by no means complete: Jeremiah 9:24 “I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” Isaiah 16:4-5 “The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it —one from the house of David — one who in… Read more »

Christopher
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I think I would like to see some teasing out of the difference between Plato and Neo-Platonism. There are dangers, yes, but first we must distinguish between these two.

Simon Dawson
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Exploring which Church Father imported which bit of Greek philosophy into the Christian theology may be of interest. But when I read many commentators on this subject there seems to be an unsaid assumption that if we can remove these later accretions then we will get back to a purely Jewish Jesus with no Hellenistic pollution. But I wonder if that is the case. What interests me is the Hellenistic influence in Palestine before and during the time of Jesus, and not after – an influence from the Mystery Religions not philosophy (although there is a huge overlap). To take… Read more »

Easter Dates
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As an individual you can take a small step towards Christian Unity at http://www.onedate.org.

It is an on line petition to unite the date of Easter that Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox would celebrate this Feast of Feasts all on One Date.

There is also a downloadable petition kit that you can take along to Unity Week events.

Bosco Peters
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I have just found the one date petition.
I hope union with God might lead to union with each other without destroying the delight of diversity.
http://www.liturgy.co.nz/worship/matters_files/weekprayerchristianunity20080121.html

rick allen
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rick allen

“It may be no surprise, therefore, that the fiercest contemporary attack upon Plato has come from the Chief Rabbi, the ever-challenging Jonathan Sacks. “The Bible represents the great anti-Platonic narrative in Western civilisation,”” That is certainly arguable if the gentleman is refering to the Jewish canon. But some of us Christians recognize the canonicity of highly Hellentized books such as Wisdom, and all Christians there is of course the New Testament, a series of Greek works which in various degrees make a great deal of sense in a Hellenized world (most obviously, the Johannine conception of the incarnate Logos). Jesus… Read more »

Prior Aelred
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Simon Dawson — Agreed — the writers of the New Testament were certainly influenced by Hellenistic thought, which of course included Stoicism & neo-Platonism (which is an anachronism — all “neo-Platonists thought that they were Platonists — or more accurately, that Plato was right & that they were agreeing with him). The notion that “spiritual” always is positive & “physical” is always negative is a nasty element in the tradition that waxes & wanes — if you read the Philokalia you won’t find it at all in the Desert Fathers but you will find it taken for granted by the… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

Whether it was his intention or not, Giles Fraser’s warning about “the attempt to impose an artificial unity on divinely created diversity” makes sense in the context of Christian Unity Week. Theo Hobson’s gloomy piece was a shot across the bows. In spite of best efforts to chip away at conservative religion, hopes for an inclusive church will be dashed this year, caught as we are in the throes of patriarchal authoritarianism and colonialism. North American attempts to show us otherwise will be marginalised. Synod will approve a watered-down Covenant next month; there’ll be stagnation on women bishops. At Lambeth,… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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The Guardian itself has several letters in response to Theo Hobson’s article, including one from the Bishop of Lincoln, John Saxbee. See
http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,2244112,00.html

Jay Vos
Guest

Interesting discussion. Thanks, Simon, for the Guardian letters link. I was struck by Thomas Camps’ letter, in which he writes, “The huge ethical dilemmas that arise from our developing sense of the world as one interconnected being is just one major cluster of questions of the day.” Last November, before the Diocese of Vermont convention, the Presiding Bishop gave a lecture at the University of Vermont on the importance of the Millenium Development Goals and how their achievement can be an important ministry of the Church. After reading the last sentence in Mr Camps’ letter (“It is time for religious… Read more »