A Clarification…

March 2, 2007

Yesterday I posted an entry entitled Certainty, Uncertainty, Hope, and Trust.

Please read that entry first; this is a clarification of that entry.

Understand that I am not trying to make judgments about either the Orthodox renewal movement nor the far-left projections of Jesus as an anti-establishment, anti-purity law radical.

My premise, as I said, is that I have to approach everything in uncertainty, and as such I have to assume that both are possibilities.

My experience, however, is that both of those extremes are unhelpful places to STAY.  They may be necessary places to pass through for certain people on a journey of faith, but to allow oneself to stay there for too long means that something is being made an idol.  For the orthodox, it may be rules– trying to place God into a categorical system so that God can become tangible in an institution when God is far bigger than any tangible system.  For the far left, it may be idolatry of one’s own idea of justice, so that God can become found in arrogance over community needs- what “I” think the needs of the common good- and in that quest God really gets left behind.

Rather, in my view, the needs of the common good are foremost.  That does not mean a utilitarian means of putting the needs of the many over the needs of the few– such as the primates have done by allowing the needs of the many in the Communion to outweigh the needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people of the world.

Rather it means that the common good is enhanced by the value that all of the members of the community play individually, and that when we all work together for the common good our common life is enhanced.  When any member or group of members stop acknowledging this common good in totality, squashing any other member, all of our lives are affected.

But of course we are human, and we sin.  The Primates too.  And they have sinned.  And so forgiveness becomes important.  Forgiveness is important in all Christian life.  Because moving through any one place, whether radical Orthodoxy or radical liberalism, is part of the journey.  It is part of our Christian narrative.  We find it over and over again in our Christian story, along with God’s mercy towards us as we do it and our call to forgive each other for the wrongs it causes AND the call to correct the social injustices that result so that the common good may be enhanced.

So I do not judge those in the Orthodox nor radical liberal places, but call them into the common good with all brothers and sisters in our community to work for peace and justice and the dignity of every human now and forever.

j

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8 Responses to “A Clarification…”

  1. obadiahslope Says:

    In your earlier post, Jeff, you wrote in reaction to the Tanzanian documents that the Anglican Communion was not prepared to be vulnerable. My reading of Windsor, Dromantine and Dar es Salaam is the the possibility of the AC coming to the view that gay inclusion is right is not precluded. Indeed in Windsor it is explicit – a new consensus is spoken of as a possibility. In this the communion does make itself vulnerable to conversation that may lead to “conversion”.
    But the communion view expressed in these documents is that it wants to act in communion – making decision together. In this way the provinces of the communion will be radically vulnerable to each other. There are those on both the conservative and progressive sides who fear this – who fear that the covenant will suffocate their local iniatives and preferences. It may be that both you and I wish to draw back from that vulnerability.
    The communion is asking TEC to halt some practises in order to akllow the communion to make a decison together – and to roll back the flying bishops, too.
    You see the communion as harsh in its Dar comminique. Perhaps I see it as exasperated at the outcome of your GC 2006, an outcome that appears to be controversial within TEC also.
    You for example might repudiate “B033”. How then can the communion work out what the TEC response was to Windsor and Dromantine? It is hardly the Communion’s fault if the TEC response is vague or contradictory. After all your polity is your provincial responsibility.
    Why not ask TEC to interpret it? Not wanting to wait another three years the primates put a deadline on TEC.
    Should the TEC answer come from the bishops or not? Well, I think that is something TEC can decide – the Bishops house could meet and ask the HoD delegations to send in their responses and tally the total. Or you could have a special GC. How you respond is up to you. It seems a number of your dioces have already revisted B033 and issued a judgement about it.
    From reading blogs right and left it appears that the process at GC 2006 was a mess. OTOH the HoB with little fuss did impose a moratporium until 2006. So it is hardly surprprising the Proimates did not call on your GC to decide. It would be beyond their powers to demand your GC reconvene. but you copuld do it if you want.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Ah- but obadiah, my entire clarification is to point out that my model of theology is contextual.

    The role of the Communion is not doctrinal, but relational. To think of it as authoritative is a mistake, and that is what the communique asserts.

    Rather in a contextual model they should seek to understand differences first– what I hear in the communique is “let us use authority first and ask questions later.” That doesn’t work. That steps on the bounds of local culture assuming that one theology fits all. It just doesn’t.

    j

  3. obadiahslope Says:

    In 2003 the Communion pleaded with TEC not to rend the relationships within the communion. Yet TEC deferred to its local authority structures rather than address the issues of relationship.
    Some on the TEC left stated that the relationships with the rest of the communion could wait – the p[riority was to move ahead on seating +NH. “We will work on repairing the relationships later” was the argument. I think the left has forgotten what it said in 2003.
    As an aside, I am not sure that the doctrine/relationship dichotomy should be driven too hard. Our unity is based on our common relationship to Jesus, the son of god – which is both relational and doctrinal at the same time. A God that works in relationship within the trinity – which lies behind our valuing of realtionship – is once again a unity of doctrine and relationship.

  4. Jeff Says:

    If the consecration of +Gene has done nothing else, it has galvanized the far right of the Communion around an idea of “doctrinal purity.”

    There has never, and never will be, any such thing as a “pure faith.”

    “Global doctrine” is an impossibility with multiple cultures.

    If my neighbor asks me to refrain from eating because he doesn’t like my food, who is at fault? Him for asking me to stop eating in my own house or me for continuing to eat the food that I am accustomed to eating even though I am in my own house? To answer that it is anyone but the neighbor’s problem is ridiculous.

    j

  5. obadiahslope Says:

    I am sure there are some doctrinal matters that you would agree are global. It would be interesting to tease them out. One you might hold is that GLBT are part of the body of Christ. Would that be as true in Abuja or Washington. I am not sure that on the issues that divide us, contextual thelogy will suffice.

  6. Jeff Says:

    This is a long response, but I like it. It is by William Sloane Coffin:

    Rules at best are signposts, never hitching posts. Personally I doubt whether there is such a thing as a Christian rule. There are probably only acts that are more or less Christian depending on the motives prompting them. But if we say, “Down with rules,” we must at the same time say, “Up with persons.” And if we exalt freedom as Christians, we must remember that freedom is grounded in love. “He who does not love remains in death.” Though setting no outer rules, love exacts much from within. As Paul Ramsay says, “If everything is permitted which Christian love permits, everything is demanded which Christian love requires.” So let others say, “Anything goes.” The Christian asks, “What does love require?”
    In short, we have come up with love as an answer to legalism on the one hand and lawlessness on the other. Love hallows individuality. Love consecrates and never desecrates personality. Love demands that all our actions reflect a movement toward and not away from nor against each other. And love insists that all people assume their responsibility for all their relations.

  7. FrMichael Says:

    Coffin is more a propagandist than theologian: even a brief perusal of the Gospels indicates that Jesus would fall far short of his explanation of “love.”

    “Love consecrates and never desecrates personality.”
    Oh? How about Jesus’ severe criticism of the Pharisees? “White-washed tombs” isn’t exactly consecrating the Pharisees’ personality.

    “And love insists that all people assume their responsibility for all their relations.” Sounds like a recipe for codependency. Jesus’ “Let the dead bury the dead” is more sensible.

  8. Jeff Says:

    You can choose to think that Jesus was anti-Semitic if you wish, Fr. Michael. I actually think that Jesus was brought up in the Pharisaic tradition, so things aren’t quite as simple as you have framed them.

    Love insisting that people assume their own responsibility for their relationships is the exact opposite of co-dependency. Codependency is the assumption that we have to assume responsibility for the other- a tendancy of the Communion of late and of Orthodoxy in general; something that is not good. So Jesus’ “Let the dead bury their dead” is in line with Coffin’s sentiment.

    j


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