Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical Faculties Agree on Mission, Future Collaboration

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NASHOTAH, WI, October 23, 2007 – After two days of worship, dialogue and brainstorming, the faculties of Nashotah House Theological Seminary and Trinity School for Ministry, meeting on the Nashotah House campus this week, announced today their commitment to partner together in common witness to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism, and to welcome opportunities to join in common ministry as they emerge.

“While each seminary has its own unique character and ethos, we are united in our core theological convictions,” said the Very Rev. Robert S. Munday, Dean and President of Nashotah House. “Above all, we are united in our commitment to training biblically faithful leaders for the Church, and in our desire to support a renewed orthodoxy within North American Anglicanism today. These past two days of fellowship have only strengthened those shared commitments.”




“We each belong to our own tradition,” said the Right Rev. John Rodgers, Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry, which is located near Pittsburgh, PA, “and we each need to be faithful to our own tradition. But it’s growing increasingly clear that the fullness of our faith and our tradition is realized when we come together. We rejoice in each other’s encouragement. And we need to be a caution to each other. We want the diversity and the fellowship of both traditions sharing the same table.”

“These past two days have been a joy for all of us,” said the Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Trinity’s Academic Dean. “Sharing our own stories, sharing the Eucharist, and considering the needs of the whole Church—this fellowship heartens our hope, our confidence in the future of God’s mission in North America.”

“In the current state of the Episcopal Church, the old disputes between our traditions pale in significance when measured against our common devotion to the great tradition of the Christian faith,” remarked the Rev. Martha Giltinan, Trinity’s Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology. “Both schools are asking themselves what the future of Anglicanism is going to look like. And the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism isn’t just about our Bishops coming to agreement. It involves the whole Church--including its organs of theological education.”

The two faculties are contemplating a wide variety of possibilities for future collaboration, including sharing expertise in creating and growing new degree programs, and the mutual stimulation each faculty can provide the other in terms of academic scholarship. “We recognize that each school, because of its particular emphases, teaches subjects that the other doesn’t,” said Bishop Rodgers, “and it’s easy to see how students could profit from being able to take advantage of what both seminaries have to offer.”

The 22 faculty members of both schools will meet again in the Spring of 2008, on the campus of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, to continue their discussion.


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1. anglicanhopeful wrote:

Nice decision that aligns with Common Cause Partnership.  Would be great if a union of Covenant-compliant Anglican seminaries across U.S., UK, Canada and Australia could be achieved by the end of this decade.

October 24, 4:18 pm | [comment link]
2. Nikolaus wrote:

This is what Anglican comprehensiveness is really about.

October 24, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
3. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Couldn’t be better news or better timing.

October 24, 5:13 pm | [comment link]
4. David Hein wrote:

I worry that Nashotah could be losing its historic identity.

October 24, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
5. BCP28 wrote:

I think Nashotah will be just fine.  This is great news, and helps put traditional low and high churchmen (churchpeople?) on the same page for once.

October 24, 5:31 pm | [comment link]
6. Churchman wrote:

David, I think your concern is well-founded.

October 24, 5:32 pm | [comment link]
7. ronl@sjms.org wrote:

As a graduate of the “House” and having some knowledge of the members of the board of trustees, I am confident that Nashotah will keep its identity. (At least that is what I want to believe.)

October 24, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
8. rwkachur wrote:

I was raised Anglo-Catholic in Northern Indiana and came to the Evangelical wing of the Anglican Communion at the Falls Church in Virginia.  I have been blessed by both experiences.  God reached out to me in both places.  I am thrilled that these two seminaries are taking the first steps in showing the rest of the TEC that our unity is in Christ and His resurrection and that we can move forward together.  Amen, Amen, Amen!

October 24, 7:31 pm | [comment link]
9. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Nashotah and Trinity are the last bastions of orthodox Anglican clerical education in the United States.

The radicalization of ECUSA did not happen overnight.  In fact, it happened so slowly and so insidiously that many close to the event did not even sense that it was occurring.  It was a classic application how to boil a frog without the frog resisting.  A normal frog would be able to jump out of a pot of water if it sensed a threat, but by turning up the fire under the pot ‘ever so slowly,’ the frog becomes dead cooked meat without realizing what it experienced.  I am not speaking of an original theory here, I am talking about a fact that has been described well by others.

Part of this insidious process has been the secular/political perversion of the discernment process within dioceses.  Those who have not met political/secular expectations have been shunned by diocesan authorities and have not been ‘blessed’ by their diocese to continue their efforts to become priests or deacons.  Therefore, many persons who might have attended Nashotah or Trinity or have attended other Episcopal seminaries have not been permitted to do so.

Another part of the insidious revisionist process within ECUSA has been the blatant, yes, I said blatant, censure of the appointment of priests by diocesans of priests to parishes who do not meet the particular secular/progressive prejudices of those bishops who will not accept orthodox/traditional clergy within their sees.

The fact that Nashotah and Trinity find a common need to establish a common orthodox relationship speaks volumes to the outrageously blatant attitude among ECUSA’s ruling bishops against orthodox/traditional Anglicans.

And yes +++Rowan, I am a mere parishoner, but I pray that you will read what I have just written.

October 24, 8:21 pm | [comment link]
10. BCP28 wrote:

Just out of curiosity-because I would NOT want Nashotah to be eaten by a low church ethos, what makes you think that the culture and unique place of the place is in danger?

October 24, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
11. Betty See wrote:

BCP28,
Would you please explain what you mean when you refer to a “low church”.

October 24, 8:53 pm | [comment link]
12. BCP28 wrote:

I am referring to the following positions:

1.  Traditionally, low church parishes emphasized preaching and morning prayer, as was the de facto position of many parishes in the southern US for a couple of centuries.  That is not to say that the Eucharist was not treated with due reverence, but Eucharistic services were not the Sunday norm as is most often the case today.

2.  A generally less-ritualistic, or perhaps Reformed, approach to worship in terms of vestments, music, altar arrangements, etc.

3.  A strong congregational emphasis.

4.  Fairly strict adherence to theology of the Anglican formularies and BCP, in spirit if not always to the letter.

October 24, 9:05 pm | [comment link]
13. rob k wrote:

Adding to no. 12 above - A Receptionist or Memorialistic doctrine of the Eucharist, with no sacrifice (except that of prayer & thanksgiving).  Also an aversion to any honor payed to OUr Lady expect for the instrumentalist view that someone had to be the mother of Jesus.  Emphasis on Lutheran or Calivinist views of JUstification rather than on the Catholic view of Sanctification.  Several more I haven’t mentioned.  Sorry I am stating these rather simplistically.  Thx.

October 24, 9:27 pm | [comment link]
14. stjohnsrector wrote:

It may of interest to note that the Dean of Nashotah and her Pastoral Theology Prof were on staff at one time at Trinity.  Also, the liturgics professor also lectured there while rector of an Anglo-catholic parish in the diocese of Pittsburgh.
I was at the House last week and it was good to see so many men in the choir compared to the years I was there (91 to 94).  I arrived after a great purge of liberal faculty and students and the school had to recover for a while.

October 24, 10:21 pm | [comment link]
15. Betty See wrote:

BCP28,
I have no idea whether the Episcopal Churches I have attended in Louisiana and Mississippi (the South) are low or high churches but this is how they fit in with your outline:
1. All of the Episcopal churches I have attended have 2 Eucharistic services on Sunday.  Some have a Wednesday or Thursday Eucharist service also. The Eucharist is treated with due reverence.  We do often have very good sermons.
2. Perhaps there is a Reformed, approach to worship in terms of vestments, music, altar arrangements, etc., but I don’t know what the difference would be. Early Sunday Eucharist does not usually have music.  We do use the Book of Common Prayer, Rite 1 early service, Rite 2 later service
3.  There is a strong congregational emphasis.
4.  There is a fairly strict adherence to theology of the Anglican formularies and BCP and I will add that Scripture is read and respected, we stand when the Gospel is read.
I would be surprised if these churches are not typical of most conservative Episcopal Churches around the country but you are free to correct me if that is not the case.
Maybe the terminology of low church and high church is causing the confusion but I still don’t understand what you mean when you say “I would NOT want Nashotah to be eaten by a low church ethos”.

October 25, 12:01 am | [comment link]
16. Ross wrote:

In an extremely loose way, you could say that “low church Anglicanism” is more Protestant and places more emphasis on Word, while “high church Anglicanism” is more Catholic and places more emphasis on Sacrament.

I’ll pause for a moment to allow several people to finish choking over that vast over-simplification.

A conventional marker for measuring high-church-ness is how elaborate the ceremonial of the service is.  The more vestments, candles, incense, processing, genuflecting, and crossing you see, the more likely it is that you’re in a high-church parish.  The plainer the service and the longer the sermon, the more likely it is that you’re in a low-church parish.  Ceremonial (or lack thereof) isn’t intrinsic to the theological differences, but it tends to be symptomatic of them.

One of the things that confuses the matter is that Episcopal practice in general now is much more “high church” than it used to be.  The Oxford Movement in the mid-1800s and the Liturgical Renewal in the 1960s re-introduced a lot of ceremonial (“smells and bells”) that we take for granted now, but which many Anglicans of the time viewed with great mistrust.  There was a resolution proposed at the 1871 General Convention that would have banned (IIRC) vestments for clergy, candles on the altar, marching in procession, elevation of the host, and other such Popish practices.  It was defeated, but only after a passionate defense of ritualism by James de Koven.

Similarly, weekly Eucharist is pretty typical now, but that’s fairly recent… many people remember when the standard Sunday service was Morning Prayer, and Eucharist was once a month or less.

October 25, 12:44 am | [comment link]
17. Br. Michael wrote:

Both will be fine.  Both strands are valid so long as they hold fast to Scripture and both institutions do that.  Trinity was very welcome to this friar who wore his habit and rosary to all public worship services.  Quite frankly, so far as I am concerned, many people see a tension that I do not find.  With the primacy of Scripture firmly in mind both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical traditions, the charasmatic as well as the liberal traditions are rooted in scripture.  You only get in trouble when you let go of Scripture as has liberalism.

October 25, 6:08 am | [comment link]
18. more martha than mary wrote:

Well said, Brother Michael.

October 25, 6:41 am | [comment link]
19. Dan Crawford wrote:

As an Anglo-Catholic who chose to attend Trinity during the days when Nashotah gave every indication that it was starting to slide into the revisionist camp, and as one who knows both Bishop Rodgers and Dean Munday, I am pleased that the two schools have agreed to collaborate.  It’s long overdue and offers the possibility that we can move beyond the knee-jerk anti-Catholicism and anti-evangelicalism that has on occasion characterized both seminaries. Dr. Munday and Bishop Rodgers are remarkable men of great integrity and vision and I pray that if Anglicanism is, as it has claimed to be, a “via media”, it will be a church that learns to embrace the great riches of both traditions in the church.

October 25, 7:40 am | [comment link]
20. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

“Both schools are asking themselves what the future of Anglicanism is going to look like. And the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism isn’t just about our Bishops coming to agreement. It involves the whole Church—including its organs of theological education.”

This was the comment offered by the Reverend Martha Giltinan, Trinity’s Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology. That an ordained woman and seminary professor can talk about the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism without any irony is an index of how far gone the Anglican communion is from any form of Christianity which is biblically faithful and traditional. Friends, this is the camel’s nose under the tent, and until and unless it is driven back out into the desert, every manner of tempest will sweep in through that gap. To put it most simply: if a woman can be a presbyter, there is no coherent argument left against two men marrying each other. And given that even Nashotah House, the once proud flagship of American Anglo-Catholicism, has accepted this profoundly unbiblical and untraditional distortion of the Church’s sacramental life, there remains no hope (that I can see) of Anglicanism in the States being restored to biblical and traditional Christianity.

October 25, 8:21 am | [comment link]
21. Leander Harding wrote:

I was present at the meeting and it was clear that neither school was giving up any of their distinctives or witness and Nashotah certainly was not endorsing the ordination of women. I think on this topic a variety of views can be found on both faculties. Trinity is on record as a school as supporting the ordination of women and Nashotah as opposing it. What was acknowledged was a common commitment to creedal Christianity, to the Holy Scriptures and to the mission of spreading the Gospel. This did require coming together in a spirit of Christian charity and solidarity over real tensions and disagreements which are nevertheless within a common commitment to Jesus Christ as the one saviour of the world.

We were asked at the end of this very encouraging and spiritually uplifting meeting to share hopes and fears. My hope was for an emergent Anglican church in North America that would at once be catholic, evangelical, charismatic and missionary. My fear was that we would recreate in the 21st century the brittle and rigid church parties of the 19th. I do not think young people are interested in this nor do I think it a way forward to an effective missionary church.

October 25, 9:47 am | [comment link]
22. William Witt wrote:

That an ordained woman and seminary professor can talk about the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism without any irony is an index of how far gone the Anglican communion is from any form of Christianity which is biblically faithful and traditional.

The Rev. Martha Giltinan can and does indeed talk about the return to a biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism—without any irony.

There have already been many predictions that the coming together that is taking place among the different streams that are uniting around Common Cause will fail.  Most predictably, the PB said last week that the historic squabbling among the various factions will doom any future.

But the future keeps happening, nonetheless.  And now, predictably, there are those among the factions who fear that rather than fail, it might actually succeed.

I have had the rare privilege in the last couple of months of being able to observe firsthand that Christians who may once have been at loggerheads are now repenting of past injury, and determining to go forward together.  The meeting between the two faculties of TSM and Nashotah is just one small piece in a long overdue reconciliation.  It is a very good thing.

October 25, 9:58 am | [comment link]
23. Grant LeMarquand wrote:

Dear t19 readers,
As a member of the faculty of Trinity who was at the meeting over the last few days at Nashotah House I would like to make a few brief clarifying comments. The first is that the faculties have no intention of merging or subsuming one to the other. Neither faculty was interested in making the other institution in its own image. Both faculties are committed to biblical faithfulness, but we would have some disagreements about what that meant. The Trinity faculty enjoyed the worship at Nashotah, but we aren’t planning to copy their schedule or their style. I think it would be fair to say that both faculties are happy that we have a strong Anglo-Catholic and a strong Evangelical seminary preparing Anglican clergy in the U.S.
Grant LeMarquand
Academic Dean
Trinity School for Ministry

October 25, 10:04 am | [comment link]
24. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

My point was not that this effort at reconciliation between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals will fail; my point is that whether this effort succeeds or not has no bearing on an unavoidable fact: the ordination of women was and is a departure from “biblically faithful,  traditional Anglicanism,” and for this reason, those accept the ordination of women will never be able to offer a coherent reason why other departures from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism” should be considered unacceptable by other Anglicans. And to repeat the example from above: Those who accept women priests cannot finally make a convincing argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay bishops. That Nashatoh and Trinity are seeking common cause against (to take an example) gay revisionism on the Sacrament of Marriage may be praiseworthy, but since they have both already accepted feminist revisionism on the Sacrament of Orders, they stand on theological quicksand and have no base from which to wage this battle.

October 25, 10:08 am | [comment link]
25. Br. Michael wrote:

Fr. Jay are you absolutely certain that the NT is absolutely unambiguous in denying ordination to women, given that it does not set out Church governance and polity in anything like excruciating detail.  Where for example does it set out the manner of setting up the table and what to place on the corporal?

October 25, 10:19 am | [comment link]
26. Kevin Maney+ wrote:

Jay Scott Newman,
Do you know Martha? If you do, then I am amazed that you could offer such uncharitable words about her, albeit tangentially. If you don’t know her, then I encourage you to hold your tongue. I know her. Had her as a professor and there is no finer witness and faithful disciple of Christ than Martha. Period. In my estimation our church would be impoverished without voices like hers and I doubt seriously if the Lord much cares if those voices are male or female.

You are certainly free to your opinions about WO. You are not free, however, to disparage other faithful Christians who are fighting hard against the false gospel being propagated today by most in TEC. Martha and all like her are not our enemies, your dubious link between WO and SSU notwithstanding, and you would do well to take this to heart.

October 25, 10:22 am | [comment link]
27. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Br Michael, I am a Roman Catholic, and so I can and must say that there is no doubt whatsoever about whether women can be ordained to the presbyterate. They cannot.

Professor Fate, I do not know Dr. Giltinan, and I harbor no feelings or judgments about her whatsoever. My observation was that it is passing ironic for an ordained woman to speak in defense of biblical and traditional Anglican when the very practice of ordaining women (however outstanding they may be personally) is the repudiation of biblical and traditional Anglicanism. To point out this irony is not in way a lack of charity; it is merely a pointed reminder that those who seek to change traditional Christian disciplines of the sacraments are in no position to accuse others who seek to do the same of being unfaithful to Christian tradition.

October 25, 10:30 am | [comment link]
28. William Witt wrote:

Those who accept women priests cannot finally make a convincing argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay bishops.

Fr. Newman,

I will not get distracted on this post to discuss something that belongs elsewhere.  I will say this.  If the argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay priests is no stronger than the argument against women’s ordination, then the progressives are right.

October 25, 10:31 am | [comment link]
29. Br. Michael wrote:

Fr. Newman, I do understand and respect your position.  And I expect you to be loyal to the teachings and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.  I do agree with Mr. Witt in what he says and in not hijacking this thread.

October 25, 11:01 am | [comment link]
30. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

I see that I have touched a very sore spot, which is exactly what I expected. I realize that few Anglicans want to hear this, but to one standing outside of your internecine disputes (as I do), it is self-evident that those who accept the ordination of women (a practice rejected as unbiblical and untraditional by all Christians until three generations ago and still rejected as unbiblical and untraditional by 75 or 80% of all Christians) but who now invoke biblical authority and Christian tradition to reject homosexual behavior are simply in an indefensible position. I understand that you do not want the position to be indefensible, but (to use yet another metaphor) the Turk is in the wall. On this point, I’m afraid the TEC revisionists see more clearly than the rear-guard Anglican traditionalists of the sort who teach or study at Nashotah or Trinity.

October 25, 11:28 am | [comment link]
31. Br. Michael wrote:

Fr. Newman we will be glad to discuss this with you, but this is not the thread for it.
The post does show that Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical Anglicans can work with each other and respect each other.  There are theological differences, but then neither facalty is in 100% theological agreement within each institution.

October 25, 11:43 am | [comment link]
32. Words Matter wrote:

It’s not really that surprising to see the two schools cooperate. In the first place, they are both fighting a common foe, which would create a natural comity.  Moreover, Anglicanism, high- or low- church both, is “catholic on the outside, but protestant on the inside”.  That’s a direct quote from my last Epis. rector, a graduate of Nashota House, and a reappraiser at heart. His point was that Anglican theology has it’s roots in Calvinism, though it doesn’t necessarily partake of the post-Calvin developments we sometimes see in the conservative reformed churches.

October 25, 12:29 pm | [comment link]
33. Violent Papist wrote:

Congratulations, Father Newman, on pointing out the obvious elephant in the room and rightly rubbishing the self-styled “reasserters” claim to be “reasserters” of “biblical christianity.”  The fact that Witt and Br. Michael are trying to order you to “shut up” simply underscores your point.  Kudos.

October 25, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
34. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “I see that I have touched a very sore spot, which is exactly what I expected.”

If you did, then why did I smile?  ; > )

No, the comments of a Roman Catholic about Anglicanism are a matter of some indifference to me.  I appreciate conversation with Christians about many matters—whether Roman Catholic or Presbyterian or Baptist—but their assertions about how Anglicanism should conform with their own church’s theology are only very occasionally interesting.

October 25, 1:19 pm | [comment link]
35. Br. Michael wrote:

33, All right lets discuss it.  Elves what say you?

October 25, 1:42 pm | [comment link]
36. Br. Michael wrote:

Rome has rejected scripture before and has no qualms about doing so again.

October 25, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
37. Sarah1 wrote:

On another note, kudos to the House and Trinity for their efforts!  It warms the heart.

October 25, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
38. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

I do not expect Anglicans to hold Catholic doctrine (though I believe that would be very good for them), and my posts above were not aimed at proving a point of Catholic doctrine. But I do ask that Anglicans recognize when they have changed Anglican doctrine, and my argument runs thus

Major Premise: Changing the doctrine on the ordination of women is a departure from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism.” Call it what you will, but the decision to ordain women was an innovation and a departure from the received teaching of Anglicanism on the Sacrament of Orders.

Minor Premise: Changing the doctrine on the marriage of homosexual persons is a departure from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism.” Call it what you will, but the decision to marry homosexual persons is an innovation and a departure from the received teaching of Anglicanism on the Sacrament of Marriage.

Conclusion: Those Anglicans who accept the ordination of women have no standing to reject the marriage of homosexual persons.

Both decisions are radical innovations in Christian doctrine, totally rejected as unbiblical and untraditional by the vast majority of Christians of every time and place (including almost all Anglicans until this generation), and those who accept the first change cannot give a coherent argument from Scripture or Tradition for rejecting the second change. Either doctrine can be changed by majority vote of the General Convention, or it cannot. The doctrine on the ordination of women was changed by majority vote, and even the party of resistance in TEC (represented by Nashotah and Trinity) accepts the legitimacy of that change; on what basis, then, is a change on homosexual marriage by majority vote rejected by those who accepted the first change?

The only possible answer is, We approved of the first change, but we don’t approve of the second change. And that is simply the Will to Power, not an argument about the proper role of authority in the Church. To provide an adequate rejection of homosexual marriage (which I believe must be done by faithful Christians), it is also necessary to admit that the ordination of women was an illegitimate innovation in the life of the Church. And that’s not a Catholic argument; that’s just the operation of right reason and ruthless honesty.

October 25, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
39. William Witt wrote:

The only possible answer is, We approved of the first change, but we don’t approve of the second change. And that is simply the Will to Power, not an argument about the proper role of authority in the Church.

Well, no.  There can be many cases in which one can approve of a given change while disapproving of a second change that do not reduce to Will to Power.  For instance, there might be good reasons for the first, and poor reasons for the second.  For example, I think it would be a good thing to change the drapes.  I think I will leave the roof in place.

October 25, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
40. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

If, as a matter of principle, you reject constant Christian teaching and discipline as normative in one matter by claiming that contemporary experience trumps tradition, then on what basis do you deny to others the same claim about a different matter? This is the problem with many authorities in the Church, and while your experience may differ from that of Gene Robinson, who is to say which authority is authoritative?

In one year the General Convention approves the ordination of women; in another year the General Convention approves the ordination of Gene Robinson. And those who supported the first but opposed the second claim that there is a difference. Says who? Once Scripture is normed by our experience, the game is up. And though many faithful souls devoutly wish that it weren’t so, the game is up.

October 25, 4:33 pm | [comment link]
41. Br. Michael wrote:

Jesus, approved the presence of women.  The pericope of Mary and Martha is but one example.  No 1st Century Rabbi would have taught Mary or invited her to “sit at his feet”.  It simply was not done.  Nor would the implication that women should teach men be allowed.  It is no sin to be born a woman, nor is it a sin for a married woman to lie with her husband.

And even the Catholic approved Bible, the ASB states the Junia was numbered among the Apostles.  An equal to the twelve and Paul himself.

Romans 16:7   7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me.

So who is Junia that Paul should call her an Apostle?  This text needs careful analysis because of its modern implications.  Nevertheless while the act of homosexual behavior is clearly condemned in all of Scripture, the precise make up of God’s church and the gender of those who exercise his authority is not clear.

October 25, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
42. Br. Michael wrote:

Fr. Newman, as we begin this discussion, presumably with the elves approval, may we assume that we do so with the assumption that God’s will is supreme and that we all want to do what God wants us to do?  Recognize that we Protestants, at least theoreticaly, and accord Scripture as the highest authority.

October 25, 4:58 pm | [comment link]
43. Phil wrote:

Br. Michael, surely you can see Fr. Newman’s point.  “[T]he act of homosexual behavior is clearly condemned in all of Scripture” - says you, and says me.  Susan Russell and the majority of voters at General Convention don’t see it so clearly; they don’t think the Biblical text is addressing what they’re doing, but something else.  Absent an authority, who’s to say we’re right and they’re wrong?

October 25, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
44. Occasional Reader wrote:

In light of the happy news of rapprochement between two seminaries, each happy to keep their fundamental identity but recognizing the gift that the other is to the Body of Christ, it’s a shame that this thread has devolved in this direction . . .

October 25, 5:23 pm | [comment link]
45. Betty See wrote:

Phil,
Scripture is the Authority.

October 25, 5:24 pm | [comment link]
46. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

It was not my purpose here today to argue the truth of the Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained to the presbyterate; we’ll leave to another day. My purpose was simply to point out that those Anglicans (like the good professor from Trinity) who do accept the ordination of women deprive themselves of any argument against the marriage of homosexuals because both practices depart from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism” as that has been construed from Thomas Cranmer to this generation. That this is not self-evident, my point continued, to those who accept women priests but oppose homosexual marriage demonstrates how confused the body ecclesiastic has become since the Episcopal Church was seized with the madness of modernism in all its polymorphous perversity.

And since Brother Michael insists that the Catholic Church does not accept the authority of Holy Scripture, I recommend that he have a close look at Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council. Among the nuggets he’ll find there is this: “Since all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided in the sacred Scriptures.” (DV, 11). Would that the General Convention of TEC could make such a statement.

Two years ago I gave a lecture which addresses some of these points. Those who need a sleep aid can find it here.

October 25, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
47. Phil wrote:

But Betty, those who have ripped the Communion apart (claim to) read Scripture differently than do we.  What authority breaks the tie?

October 25, 5:32 pm | [comment link]
48. Betty See wrote:

Phil, The Word of God as proclaimed in Scripture.

October 25, 5:37 pm | [comment link]
49. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Here, friends, we have the dictionary definition of a tautology, and that is why TEC today looks like New Orleans after Katrina. Tautologies do not teach or persuade, and they evade the disputed questions.

I’ve done enough devolving for the day, so I’ll simply leave you with a prayer:

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

October 25, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
50. Phil wrote:

Betty, I’m sorry I’m not writing clearly enough.  The same passages you think say one thing about homosexuality, our opponents think say something completely different?  OK?  Same Word of God as proclaimed in Scripture.  Two interpretations.  Who decides whether my and your interpretation or their interpretation is the right one?  The answer cannot be “Scripture.”

October 25, 5:43 pm | [comment link]
51. Betty See wrote:

Phil,
You are writing clearly enough but you should also acknowledge that Scripture is clear, revisionists clearly misinterpret Scripture if they do refer to it at all.
You are capable of reading Scripture are you not, who do you think is portraying Scripture correctly?

October 25, 6:00 pm | [comment link]
52. BCP28 wrote:

I am writing again to get into arguments over WO.

Betty:

The other comments added (Receptionist/Memorialist view of the Eucharist, recent liturgical developments that emphasize the Eucharist over MP) were important and I think those who wrote them!

I personally have a problem with the Memorialist view-I consider it almost as un-Anglican as Transubstantiation-but there are good people who would disagree with me.

IT SOUNDS TO ME like your parish is probably lower church, which is not unusual in the south, as I said.  The loss of Morning Prayer in the wake of a generally more Eucharistically centered pattern is a concern for me-I think the Office as principal or secondary Sunday service is highly under-rated.  My parish still does MP in name only on 2nd and 4th Sunday: truncated, altered beyond recognition, with the Eucharist at the end.  (We used to have a chapel Eucharist at the end of service.)  It is, admittedly, a difficult problem.  There was even a question about it on the General Ordiantion Exam a few years ago…but I digress.

Randall

October 25, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
53. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Major Premise: Changing the doctrine on the ordination of women is a departure from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism.” Call it what you will, but the decision to ordain women was an innovation and a departure from the received teaching of Anglicanism on the Sacrament of Orders.

Minor Premise: Changing the doctrine on the marriage of homosexual persons is a departure from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism.” Call it what you will, but the decision to marry homosexual persons is an innovation and a departure from the received teaching of Anglicanism on the Sacrament of Marriage.

Conclusion: Those Anglicans who accept the ordination of women have no standing to reject the marriage of homosexual persons.”

Wow.  That’s pretty incredible.  I mean . . . to state that a church body has actually made an error [in the Roman Catholic opinion] . . . and that therefore they cannot reject any more errors is . . . breathtakingly irrational. 

Of course, as a Protestant, I believe that all churches [including Roman Catholic] have made errors both large and small but that certainly does not mean that therefore they cannot in integrity resist further errors, any more than individuals who behave in the same way.

I see that William Witt has answered in the same fashion.

RE: “If, as a matter of principle, you reject constant Christian teaching and discipline as normative in one matter by claiming that contemporary experience trumps tradition . . . “

Of course. . . those evangelicals that support WO do not believe that they support it because “contemporary experience trumps tradition.”

RE: “My purpose was simply to point out that those Anglicans (like the good professor from Trinity) who do accept the ordination of women deprive themselves of any argument against the marriage of homosexuals because both practices depart from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism” as that has been construed from Thomas Cranmer to this generation. That this is not self-evident, my point continued, to those who accept women priests but oppose homosexual marriage demonstrates how confused the body ecclesiastic has become since the Episcopal Church was seized with the madness of modernism in all its polymorphous perversity.”

Well . . . you certainly asserted that point!  ; > )

RE: “It was not my purpose here today to argue the truth of the Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained to the presbyterate . . . “

Right—it’s fairly obvious that the point was to attempt to touch “a very sore spot” . . . ; > ) . . . kinda like a Protestant coming into a Roman Catholic blog and slyly attempting to touch “a very sore spot” about bishops who cover up their priests’ sexual molestation of children.  That sort of behavior is pretty obvious in its motivations as well . . . and hopefully is equally as ineffective on such blogs as on this one.

October 25, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
54. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Dear Sarah,

I regret that you have met my attempt at reasoned argument only with invective and ad hominem attack. I have offered a simple, if sharp, analysis of a logical trap from which I do not think any Christian can extricate himself or herself except by the assertion of raw will and political power, and I think you have confirmed my hypothesis. And this is more or less the same dynamic which has reduced TEC to a smoldering ruin in three decades. And so I say again, Kyrie eleison.

October 25, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
55. Betty See wrote:

1 John 4:1 (King James Version)
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

October 25, 6:16 pm | [comment link]
56. The_Elves wrote:

This elf was offline for the past few hours.  I guess this discussion can continue.  It is in some sense within the broad bounds of the topic.  Obviously any discussion of Evangelical - Anglo-Catholic rapprochement is going to have to deal with the elephant in the room as one other commenter named it.  But we would very much encourage comments to deal with theological issues and not get into name calling about commenters.  Thanks.

October 25, 6:23 pm | [comment link]
57. Words Matter wrote:

kinda like a Protestant coming into a Roman Catholic blog and slyly attempting to touch “a very sore spot” about bishops who cover up their priests’ sexual molestation of children.

Actually, that happens a whole lot, or did when the subject was current. Which doesn’t give Sarah license to read Fr. Newman’s intentions. Civil people give credence to what their opponents say, and go lightly on accusations about motives.

That said, Fr. Newman, as a Catholic, I agree with you completely, but Episcopalians view WO as what they call adiophora, which, as you know, means “it’s not a deal breaker”.  Remember that many clergy and layfolk have remained in communion with the ordination of women for 30+ years now, despite their firm beliefs against it, and this new realignment is perpetuating that communion. 

If I may play Sarah’s game, without the spite, I think some of these folks know it has to be addressed, but just don’t want to do so now. Some, as noted, think it’s not important.  In either case, they have been consumed with the homosexualist arguments for awhile now and, I think, they are tired. The Common Cause realignment looks like heaven compared to TEC, and if they can slide around WO, they will. I certainly would in their situation.  I don’t agree with it, but I do sympathize. After the abuse they have taken from TEC, it must feel really good to relax among people of mostly like mind.

October 25, 6:28 pm | [comment link]
58. Ross wrote:

Fr. Newman—a question, if I may.

In #46, you quote Dei Verbum to say:  “Since all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided in the sacred Scriptures.”

As I read it, this seems to imply that:

(a) Scripture may contain material other than that which “God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided.”

and

(b) Such material is not guaranteed to be “without error.”

Is that in fact the intent of Dei Verbum, or is the Catholic position that the entirety of Scripture is uniformly without error?  And if the former, how does one discern (rather, I suppose, how does the Magisterium discern) whether a given piece of Scripture is “for the sake of our salvation” or not?

I’m asking sincerely; I’ve wondered about this point of Catholic doctrine before, but never got around to asking someone who would know.

October 25, 6:33 pm | [comment link]
59. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Ross,

The first place to find your answer is in the text of Dei Verbum, available here.
Next, see that part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which considers these questions:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm

The short answer is this: the Catholic Church teaches that there is no error in matters of faith and morals in Holy Scripture, and knowing the answer to the disputed or ambiguous points of Scripture requires reading the Bible within the Apostolic Tradition and under the guidance of the authentic magisterium of the Church. So, for example, ambiguities in the New Testament made it possible for Arius to make a compelling but false argument about the divinity of the Son; these ambiguities were resolved by the First Council of Nicaea (authentic magisterium) by reference to other passages of Scripture and the baptismal symbols which confessed the apostolic teaching about the divinity of the Lord Jesus.

October 25, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
60. Betty See wrote:

BCP 28, I do not understand what WO has to do with whether the church is high or low church. Sorry if I missed the point of your post.
I have not talked to our Rector about whether we are low church or high church, I do know we believe in Scripture, we do NOT cross our fingers when we recite the Nicene Creed and we take Communion very seriously.
Our Rector does have Morning Prayer every weekday.
You seem to have some very specific, finely drawn distinctions that might be better expressed if the terms high church and low church were not used so I will just stop wondering if our church is High church or Low church.

October 25, 6:50 pm | [comment link]
61. Ross wrote:

Betty, “high church” and “low church” are concepts representing opposite ends of a spectrum; any given parish is likely to fall somewhere in the middle.  And some parishes are just plain hard to classify on the high/low scale at all.  It’s entirely possible that your church is neither particularly one or the other; and there’s no reason you or anyone else should lose sleep wondering where it falls.

But Nashotah and Trinity have historically been associated with “high” and “low” designations, respectively, which is one of the reasons it’s noteworthy that they had this meeting.  It’s also the reason that some people expressed concern that one or both schools would lose something of their unique characters by collaborating with each other.

October 25, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
62. Words Matter wrote:

Ms. See -

If I may interject, 30 years ago was taught that celebration of the Eucharist as the principle service on Sunday denoted a “high” church, while a “low” church focused on Morning Prayer (Solemn High Morning Prayer was the joke back then) at the main service.  Along with that, a sacramental worldview tended to mark the “high church”, although technically all Anglicans believed what the 39 Articles said about the sacraments.

I would note that some high-church folks I knew back then did cross their fingers when it came to those Articles which spoke of the sacraments. I first attended Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in an Episcopal parish, and that sure ain’t in line with the 39 Articles.  Finally, high-churches back then tended toward more elaborate ritual - smells and bells - but that was not at all uniform.  My last Episcopal parish was theologically high-church: weekly Eucharist, Father heard confessions, and so on, but we had a very plain liturgy.  I think these lines are somewhat blurred today as Eucharist has become more common.  In no case, however, does churchmanship exempt one from an honest affirmation of the Creeds.  Sadly, there does seem to have grown up an inverse correlation between orthodox belief and ornate ritual.

October 25, 7:20 pm | [comment link]
63. Words Matter wrote:

And I skipped my main point (my bad!) -

Classic low churchmen, having less emphasis on the sacraments, would tend to have fewer reservations about ordaining women, since ordination would be to “ministry” rather than a sacramental priestly office.  High churchmen, on the other hand, were more concerned with the sacramental aspects of ordination, hence, more reserved about ordaining women (+Iker,+Schofield, and +Ackerman are all very high church).

October 25, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
64. Phil wrote:

Betty, I think you (and I) are portraying Scripture correctly.  I’m assured our reading of Scripture is correct because 2,000 years of Catholic Tradition backs us up.

October 25, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
65. BCP28 wrote:

Betty:

It is correct that these are older labels and some, if not most parishes are in between.  The labels actually describe a broad set of variables-I am more trying to lay out tendencies than precise definitions. 

I do not buy into the argument that the labels are not useful.  Anyone who has ever seen a parish clergy search go awry with a bad mismatch of a priest who does not want to wear the vestments that the vestry just paid for will understand…because that is only the beginning of the problem!

Given where this thread has gone I am not saying anything about WO.  In this country, the high church postition has always been concerned with the continuance of legitimate Apostolic succession (going back to Seabury!) and has tended to be more concerned about the WO issue since it first came up.

Understand that low and high are older markers and can often assume a similar Protestant theological position.  I use “high church” and “anglo-catholic” to differentiate between traditional Anglican parishes using the BCP, and those that add in the Angelus and half a dozen other Roman rites, using everything from the 1549 BCP to Rite II.  (Grace and St Peter’s in Baltimore uses the former; St Mary the Virgin in NYC uses the latter)

Two of the histroically “low” parishes in this city are some of our most liberal.  Our higher parishes can go either way, depending on the parish.  So really, it can get confusing…

MP on weekdays is common in the highest of high parishes, but on Sunday is often only held just before the 8 AM service.  While this mimics monastic patterns, I still think the Office has a good use for the less committed and seekers in a more prominent place.  But I digress, again.

October 25, 8:52 pm | [comment link]
66. young joe from old oc wrote:

Sarah:

I have to agree with Father Jay on this one.  If he is being so “breathtakingly irrational”, then your job as a true old school Protestant is to show at least a fair amount of clear-headed rationality in reply - hopefully, at the very least, from a traditional and classical Protestant point of view that is more grounded in some kind of a well-established biblical perspective than it is in rationalism.  Wait, I’m sorry - maybe that’s exactly what you’re doing after all.  Keep layin’ into those Roman Catholics - that’s always a top priority.  Don’t concern yourself with the ages old principle that’s behind his words.

October 25, 9:41 pm | [comment link]
67. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “I regret that you have met my attempt at reasoned argument only with invective and ad hominem attack.”

Nonsense. Pointing out the logical errors of your premise is certainly not “invective” or “ad hominem attack.” 

Pointing out that the evangelicals who believe in WO do not believe what you claim is not “invective” or “ad hominem attack.” 

Pointing out that you merely made unsupported assertions rather than argument is not “invective” or “ad hominem attack.”

And pointing out your actions on this blog is not “invective” or “ad hominem attack.”

RE: “I have offered a simple, if sharp, analysis of a logical trap . . . “

No—you fell into a logical trap yourself by asserting an entirely unconnected and false “conclusion” from two premises, namely that if a church body has actually made an error [in the Roman Catholic opinion] it therefore cannot reject any more errors.

October 25, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
68. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Actually, that happens a whole lot, or did when the subject was current.”

I agree.  It is why the example sprang so readily to mind.  The tactic is easily recognizable and I do not respect it in either Protestants or Roman Catholics.

October 25, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
69. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “If he is being so “breathtakingly irrational”, then your job as a true old school Protestant . . . “

Actually, both Protestants and Roman Catholics . . . as well as even other religions entirely . . . are able to form premises that connect logically with conclusions.  But in the case of the above example, regrettably, that did not occur.  It is not a “Protestant” or “Roman Catholic” matter of theology to avoid logical fallacies like the one demonstrated above.

October 25, 10:11 pm | [comment link]
70. Br. Michael wrote:

Well, this is great.  I see that Fr. Newman has failed to answer my scriptural questions.  And I see from 43 that we are all over the place.  I also see that the good Fr. as saying that I said things that I never said.  Ah, well such is life.
Well If Rome in its Magisteriam, has authoritatively said that women can’t be priests, however those words are defined, then that settles the matter.  Scripture be damned.

If, on the other hand, as I have suggested, Holy Scripture is not that clear, then who judges what?

Fr. Newman, what does the text say?  Engage the text.  I quoted you’r own Bible.  What does the text say!  What about Junia the Apostle?  Paul holds her in high regard as his equal, if not his superior!  Is the Bishop of Rome greater than Christ?  No!  We all must submit to Him.

October 25, 10:13 pm | [comment link]
71. Phil wrote:

Br. Michael, FWIW, from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junia:

There is debate whether the mention of Junia(s) as being “prominent among the apostles” (NRSV) means Junia(s) was one of the apostles, or only well known to the apostles. A parallel to the second interpretation is found in the Psalms of Solomon 2:6, where the Jewish captives are spoken of as “a spectacle among the gentiles”. The construction is exactly the same, and the word translated as “a spectacle” is exactly the same word that in Romans 16:7 is translated as “of note” or “prominent”. But the phrase in the Psalms of Solomon clearly does not mean that the Jewish captives were Gentiles.

Note that the most up-to-date translation, the ESV, apparently agrees with this analysis:

(Rom 16:7) Greet Andronicus and Junia,my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. (emphasis mine)

So, the example is not as clear as you would have it.  What’s more, the contemporaries and close contemporaries of Junia - centuries upon centuries closer to Christ than you and I - declined to draw your conclusion from whatever the facts of her life were and ordain women as priests.  I submit they were in a far better position to make that decision regarding catholic faith and order than are you or I.

October 25, 10:51 pm | [comment link]
72. Words Matter wrote:

Well, I am not Fr. Newman, who I hope is comfortably asleep by now, and I see that Br. Michael is still concerned about his “scriptural questions”, of which I can only find one, that being the case of Junias.  The example of Mary and Martha has nothing to do with ordination to the presbyterate.  We should all agree that women can be as close to the Lord as men and that women, by their baptism, are called to “ministry”.  The issue is whether they are called to the specific ministry of presbyters and bishops.

Br. Michael, a quick google search turned up two questions: is “Junia/s” a male or female name, and does “among the apostles” mean that he or she was actually an apostle?  I’ll skip lengthy quotations, as I assume you can google as well as I can.  Indeed, what does the text say?  It’s simply not a case of “scripture be damned”, but, rather, by what authority do you decide when scripture isn’t clear?  In the meantime, why don’t you engage this text: 1 Timothy 2.12. 

If, on the other hand, as I have suggested, Holy Scripture is not that clear, then who judges what?

Well, that’s the question, although I thought you were claiming that Holy Scripture is clear and that it’s us Catholics damning the scriptures by replacing it with the Magestrium. Very confusing, Br. Michael.

October 25, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
73. Ross wrote:

One of the questions surrounding WO is to what degree the early church ordained only men because they had been so instructed by Jesus or by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to what degree because they lived in a patriarchal culture and it was automatically assumed that positions of leadership would go to men.  If it were the latter, then of course we would not be bound by their precedent.

October 25, 11:02 pm | [comment link]
74. libraryjim wrote:

What about “Dorcas”, a DISCIPLE who did many good works for the people, she died, and Peter raised her back to life (Acts 9:36-43)

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. [1] She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics [2] and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Footnotes
[1] 9:36 The Aramaic name Tabitha and the Greek name Dorcas both mean gazelle
[2] 9:39 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

October 25, 11:14 pm | [comment link]
75. libraryjim wrote:

on topic!
My wife actually MISSES the days when Morning Prayer was the norm. When she was growing up, she says that this was the practice at St. Andrew’s Episcopal, three Sundays were Morning Prayer, with the fourth Eucharist.

The only time I can remember going to church and having Morning Prayer was in Wyoming, where we had a travelling priest, who alternated Sundays between Sundance and Newcastle. So every other week we would have Eucharist, and every other week from that we would have a deacon who would lead Morning Prayer and bring a pre-prepared sermon from the priest (presumably the same one he was giving at the other parish congregation).

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

October 25, 11:17 pm | [comment link]
76. Phil wrote:

And so, we come full circle, with Ross making Fr. Newman’s original point.

I assume the pro-WO contingent would agree with Ross’ point, but, of course, we might as well say, “One of the questions surrounding gay ‘marriage’ is to what degree the early church married only women and men because they had been so instructed by Jesus or by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to what degree because they lived in a bigoted culture and it was automatically assumed that only men and women could validly be attracted to one another.  If it were the latter, then of course we would not be bound by their precedent.”

Thank you, Ross.

October 25, 11:19 pm | [comment link]
77. Words Matter wrote:

libraryjim -

What about Dorcus? Does it say anywhere she was a presbyter? What does going around helping people have to do with being a presbyter?

Is that St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth? I believe they still do Morning Prayer on the first Sunday of the month, and they use the 1928 prayerbook. And the rector is “Mister”... as in Mr. Steenson, rector there in the 90s. The way I heard it, that’s why they were never the cathedral of the diocese.

One summer, I read Morning Prayer for a small congregation on alternate Sundays, when the priest was at the other station. We had a prepared sermon I was required to read, but I often went around after the service to deny that I agreed with the sermon. They didn’t either, I think.

October 25, 11:46 pm | [comment link]
78. Betty See wrote:

If Jesus has instructed us to do something his instructions should be honored.

October 25, 11:48 pm | [comment link]
79. William Tighe wrote:

Re: #s 41, 70, 71, 72:

On “Junia the Apostle” see:

http://trushare.com/70MAR01/MR01JUNI.htm

It does appear that this fictitious “apostle” resembles one of those mischevous poltergeists that is hard to get to rest quiet.  Or, and perhaps better, she shares a certain characteristic with that substance to which Horace referred euphemistically when he wrote “Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret.”

October 26, 12:11 am | [comment link]
80. Occasional Reader wrote:

After reading the dismissive ditty weblinked above, one might want also to read a work of scholarship on the question.  No one should reach a conclusion on Junia(s) without consulting the definitive study of J. Eldon Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle, which is the republication of a painstaking piece of NT scholarship by one of the eminent text critics of our generation—in which, by the way, the Brurer/Wallace argument is discussed and rightly found wanting.  It goes without saying that this hardly settles the WO question, but curious minds should at least engage the best there is on the topic.

October 26, 12:55 am | [comment link]
81. Ross wrote:

#76 Phil says:

And so, we come full circle, with Ross making Fr. Newman’s original point.

I assume the pro-WO contingent would agree with Ross’ point, but, of course, we might as well say, “One of the questions surrounding gay ‘marriage’ is to what degree the early church married only women and men because they had been so instructed by Jesus or by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to what degree because they lived in a bigoted culture and it was automatically assumed that only men and women could validly be attracted to one another.  If it were the latter, then of course we would not be bound by their precedent.”

Thank you, Ross.

Well, I think your rhetorical question is a valid question.  That doesn’t mean one couldn’t answer it in the negative, though.

Fr. Newman’s point is compelling only in a limited context.  If you take it that the only authoritative argument against WO or SSU is “the tradition of the church is against it,” then yes, once you demonstrate that you are willing to set aside the tradition of the church once, then you can no longer say that it’s impossible to set aside the tradition of the church.

But this is only critical if you have no other tools to use for determining whether something is proper for the church than the tradition of the church, and I submit that we have plenty of other tools.  Reason and experience, among others.  Obviously, we don’t all agree on what tools to use (if any) or how to apply them, and that’s a real and substantial problem.  But then, there isn’t universal agreement on what the tradition of the church does and does not allow, either—see, for example, this very discussion about WO among people who would all call themselves orthodox Christians.  (Not me, he hastened to clarify.  I’m a heterodox Christian.  But most of the other people in this particular thread would claim orthodoxy, I believe.)

I’ll concede the Catholics this point:  if you want unambiguous declarations on matters of doctrine, then you must have some person or persons who has the authority to make those declarations.  “Scripture” or “tradition” are not sufficient by themselves, because they must be interpreted and not everyone agrees how to interpret them; the “plain meaning of Scripture” is never as plain to someone else as it is to you.  Confessional documents aren’t much better, because the instant the people who wrote them leave the building they become themselves subject to multiple interpretations—look at what people can do with the Nicene Creed.  If you want uniformity, you have to have a living human authority making those choices.

The reason I’m not Catholic myself is that I’m not convinced that I want uniformity of belief.

October 26, 2:50 am | [comment link]
82. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Brother, I did not answer your questions about the specifics of the debate over the ordination of women because that was entirely beside the point of this entire thread. So, once again, let me try to clarify the only point I sought to make above: Many of those who now oppose gay marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals have already accepted the ordination of women, and having done so, they have made it impossible to make an argument against homosexual marriage and ordination because no argument from Scripture alone will answer any of these questions definitively and by accepting the radical and untraditional innovation of women priests they have opened the Church to any innovation which can be endorsed by political philosophy or personal experience.

Now, having said that, anyone interested in a fuller discussion of why the Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained is welcome to have a look at an old essay of mine on this point.

October 26, 5:49 am | [comment link]
83. rob k wrote:

I’m afraid that no one has seriously engaged Fr. Newman’s argument.  Sarah, for example has only been able to assert that the church was right to ordain women, but wrong to ordain practicing homosexuals, overlooking the fact that the justicification for the first applies as well to the second, as Ross pointed out.      By the way, I think we should all remember that Article VI (of the 39) says only that Holy Scripture CONTAINETH all things necessary to salvation, not that it is necessary for salvation that everything in scripture must be believed.  Just a thought!

October 26, 6:35 am | [comment link]
84. William Witt wrote:

My point in making the statement—“If the argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay priests is no stronger than the argument against women’s ordination, then the progressives are right”—was simply to point out the obvious.  The theological arguments for and against both same-sex unions and women’s ordinations are very different kinds of arguments, dealing with very different issues.

The argument against same-sex unions is based on a plain sense reading of Scripture about the purposes of marriage and sexuality founded in the order of creation that begins with Gen 1 and 2, is repeated throughout Scripture, and ends with Rev. 21.  On the contrary, orders are not part of the creation order, but part of the order of redemption, and there are only hints of a doctrine of orders found in a very few passages of Scripture—primarily in the pastoral epistles.  Ecclesiology was a very late theological development in the history of the church, and the modern arguments against women’s ordination are developments of the last half century.  The historic argument—that women cannot be ordained because they are inherently inferior to men and do not possess the mental capacity to exercise leadership—was the same argument that was used not only against women’s ordination but against any role of leadership or authority for women, e.g., teaching students. 

This premise of the inherent inferiority of women has been rejected by all mainline churches, including the Roman Catholic.  Nonetheless, while women have been allowed other roles, there are some churches that still refuse them this role. Since the historic argument (of inherent inferiority) can no longer be taken seriously, new arguments (e.g., that women cannot act in persona Christi) have had to be adapted.

It is specious, then, to claim that there is some kind of parallel between the cases of same-sex unions and women’s ordination.  Yes, both were rejected throughout the history of the church.  OTH, there is no parallel between the reasons for their rejection.  The reasons for the rejection of same-sex unions have not changed.  The reasons for the rejection of women’s ordination have necessarily changed—because no one now wants to touch the historic argument with a ten foot pole.

The constantly repeated refrain that the cases are parallel and that those who embrace one must necessarily embrace the other is nonsense.  One might think the claim indicates either intellectual laziness or deliberate misrepresentation.  I prefer to think otherwise.

October 26, 8:00 am | [comment link]
85. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Mr. Whitt,

Your analysis above depends entirely upon YOUR reading of Holy Scripture; thus we find your reason and experience (rather than the Apostolic Tradition) functioning as a norming norm of the Sacred Page. My sole argument above is that once this move is made, you simply cannot deny to any other person the same prerogative. Gene Robinson’s personal experience and philosophical commitments lead him to interpret the New Testament on the question of the moral character of homosexual acts in an entirely different way than you do. But if you accept the ordination of women, you have both made exactly the same move: you both reject Sacred Tradition as transmitted by the magisterium of bishops as the sole legitimate interpretative authority of Scripture in the Church. Once that is done, there is no voice capable of judging between contradictory interpretations of Holy Scripture, except for majority vote. And the majority has spoken in the Episcopal Church: blessing same sex unions and ordaining practicing homosexuals are good things. The possibility of this conclusion, if not the choice itself, was inevitable once the Episcopal Church decided to walk apart from the rest of sacramental Christianity on the question of women priests and overturn a doctrine of the faith based upon a majority vote and tendentious readings of difficult texts.

Now, as to the substance of the argument about women priests and homosexual marriage, I believe that (whatever the theological and Scriptural dimensions of this may be) both practices rest upon the same anthropological mistake: viz. That the human person is an incorporeal spiritual Self temporarily encased in a physical body, the gender identity of which is arbitrary. The objective nuptial meaning of the human body therefore disappears under the desire of the human will, and then the only legitimate consideration in women choosing to be priests or two men choosing to marry each other is the subjective desire for the sacramental identity in question.

October 26, 8:24 am | [comment link]
86. Br. Michael wrote:

I do suggest that you read J. Eldon Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle.

There does in fact appear to be a textual problem with that verse that needs to be engaged.  Indeed it is arguable that the ESV translators got this wrong in part because the underlying Greek text that was used was wrong.  The 1993 edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek Testament used the masculine form Junius and later corrects this in 1994 to the feminine Junia (Epp, 63).  The earliest Church Fathers, to include Chrysostom, accepted the feminine, Junia (Epp, 32) .  The Vulgate latin translation appears to have used Iuliam, the femine form (Epp, 23 & 28). 

Note also that the change in Gender appears to influence the translation of “among the Apostles” (Junius) or “known to the Apostles” (Junia).  The translations should be one way or the other regardless of the gender of Junius/Junia yet it appears that the presupposition that an apostle cannot be female influences the translation independent of what the Greek actually says.

The variation in the translations should also raise warning bells that there is a problem here that needs careful study and analysis and not knee jerk reactions and citations to wikipedia.

ASV Romans 16:7 Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also have been in Christ before me.

ESV Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

NAB Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners; they are prominent among the apostles and they were in Christ before me.

NAU Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

NIV Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

NLT Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did.

RSV Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.

October 26, 9:34 am | [comment link]
87. William Witt wrote:

Your analysis above depends entirely upon YOUR reading of Holy Scripture;

Nonsense.  Perhaps my biggest problem with post-Tridentine Catholic apologetics is that it so easily slides into Cartesian assumptions about the meanings of texts—that language and texts have no meaning except for that given them by an interpreter.

There were a handful of attempts to challenge the plain sense teaching of Scripture about same-sex sexuality in the 1980’s, e.g., Boswell. Competent and careful biblical scholars, e.g., Richard Hays, examined the texts, and demonstrated that Boswell was wrong.  Accordingly, there is no question today about what the texts say.  Those who embrace SSU’s today do so knowing that they are in disagreement with the meaning of the texts.

It is also the case (as I said) that Scripture says little about orders.  Any discussion (even a Roman Catholic discussion) that discusses biblical teaching about orders will have to discuss the same biblical texts, and will make the same exegetical acknowledgments, e.g., that the NT does not clearly distinguish between episcopoi and presbytoroi.  Careful exegesis would show that it is not clear whether Scripture even addresses the question of women’s ordination.  And any contemporary Anglican application (which is not the same as exegesis) would have to acknowledge the historic distinctions (echoing Aquinas, but elaborated in Hooker) between matters of Scripture that are permanently binding (e.g., matters of doctrine and morals) and matters that can be altered (e.g. matters of ceremonial and juridical law).  Forbidding same-sex activity would be a matter of moral law, rooted in the original creation.  Ordination falls under ceremonial law, which, Hooker argues, allows of a certain amount of variation—even from NT practice.  For example, Hooker acknowledges that there is no clear distinction between presbyters and bishops in the NT, and yet we do not have to be presbyterians.

So “my reason” and “my experience” are not functioning as norms for reading the text.  If “private judgment” were the norm for interpreting texts, there would not now be a consensus about what Scripture says about homosexual activity.  It is not in the interests of those interpreters who disagree with the plain meaning to concede that Scripture speaks against that of which they approve. Yet they do. If “private judgment” were the norm for interpreting texts, there would not be consensus (even among Anglicans and Roman Catholics) about the equation of episcopos/presbyteros in the NT.  The texts have an inherent intelligibility and stand over against the interpreter.  Because of that, even reluctant interpreters can have their minds changed by reading the text.

The argument that the magisterium is the “sole legitimate interpretative authority of Scripture” endorses the same Cartesian reading of texts endorsed by Liberal Protestantism.  It removes the inherent meaning and authority of the text from its own inner intelligibility and places it under the authority of the interpreter.  The only difference is that the interpreter becomes the current pope.  The very attempt to defeat private judgment accepts its major premise—that the meaning of texts exists only in the minds of interpreters and texts have no inherent intelligibility in themselves to which the reader is subject in interpretation.

It would follow that there is no clear message in Scripture about anything.  We believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead not because “the Bible tells me so” but because the magisterium says it is so.  No interpreter of Scripture before Trent would have found this remotely plausible.  Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas—all believed that they were placing themselves under the authority of what the text actually said.  Because they wanted to heed what the text actually said, they provided rules of hermeneutics to guide in interpreting the text.  The need for rules to prevent misreadings of the texts would only be necessary if the text had an inherent intelligibility that careless readers could miss.  If the text has no such intelligibility, hermeneutical rules are not necessary—either because the text has no fixed meaning or because the magisterium can just tell us what it means.

Your statement—“both practices rest upon the same anthropological mistake: viz. That the human person is an incorporeal spiritual Self temporarily encased in a physical body, the gender identity of which is arbitrary”—is a kind of argument against the ordination of women.  That is, there is something about the gender identity of a person with a female body that makes it impossible for a woman to be ordained.

This is, of course, not the argument that would be used against ordaining a homosexual man.  There is nothing in the gender identity of a homosexual man that would preclude his ordination.  A celibate man with homosexual proclivities could certainly be ordained, as could (among orthodox Anglicans) a man with homosexual proclivities married to, and faithful to a woman.  The objection would be against the sinful practice of same-sex activity. 

The argument against same-sex activity is not that there is something in the gender identity of a man or a woman that prevents the activity.  Otherwise, all sexual activity would be prevented.  Rather, the nature of sexual relations themselves are grounded in the complementarity of human beings as created male and female.  (That’s Genesis 1 and 2, not the magisterium.) It is not that men cannot have sex.  They just cannot have sex with anyone who is not their wife (their complementary other)—which means they cannot have sex with other men.

What you have not done is embrace the church’s historic reason for opposing the ordination of women—that women’s inferiority precludes them from leadership roles.  And, of course, one could use the very argument you have used above against women exercising other rules that they were once forbidden.  For example: “Those who believe that women should be able to teach students embrace the anthropological mistake that the human person is an incorporeal spiritual Self temporarily encased in a physical body, the gender identity of which is arbitrary.”  It is not obvious to me that this is the case, nor is it obvious why those who endorse women’s ordination should presuppose that women’s gender identity is arbitrary.

The case that would need to be made would be that there is something about women’s gender identity encased in a certain kind of body that makes it appropriate for them to engage in some kinds of activities that were once forbidden to them, e.g., teaching, but the same gender identity precludes other activities, specifically, that of ordination.

Such an argument could be made.  The argument that women cannot act in persona Christi is such an argument.  I would point out again that such an argument is not the church’s historic argument, but a shift to a new reason for excluding women from ordination.  A case would also have to be made as to why women’s gender identity precludes this role, but not other roles to which they were once denied access, and why women’s gender identity would actually preclude ordination, and not just mean that ordained women would exercise ministry and priesthood in a female way as opposed to a male way, in the same way that female teachers teach the way women do, rather than men.

At any rate, you have begged the question that same-sex activity is parallel to women’s ordination.  It is not.

October 26, 10:01 am | [comment link]
88. Fr Jay Scott Newman wrote:

Mr. Witt,

On the matter of what Scripture teaches about homosexuality, your argument is not with me but with the highest decision making body of your own church. And in your church, those who argue that homosexual persons can marry others of their own sex usually begin their argument by pointing out that women can now be ordained but could not be before the reading of Scripture was correctly normed by modern experience. My suggestion that those who support the ordination of women but oppose the marriage of homosexuals are in an untenable position is not question begging; it’s a simple fact of your history.

And on the matter of whether or not women can be priests, the argument of the Anglican Communion is with every Christian from the Lord Jesus through the mid 20th century and with the vast majority of Christians even now, tendentious absurdities about female apostles (see above) notwithstanding.

October 26, 10:12 am | [comment link]
89. Phil wrote:

Br. Michael, I agree with you that there is a legitimate question here; on the other hand, what the purpose of the phrase “knee jerk reactions and citations to wikipedia” is supposed to be is unclear.  You appear to be familiar enough with the subject to know that I could have pointlessly spent the time to find ten other links that would, in the end, have contained the same information found in Wikipedia.  It was, in the event, the simplest place to go; there was nothing “knee jerk” about it; and its presentation, in this case, represents both points of view.

What’s more, your citations don’t in the least show “the change in Gender appears to influence the translation of ‘among the Apostles’ (Junius) or ‘known to the Apostles’ (Junia).”  In fact, two of your chosen three translations using “Junia” say “among the apostles.”

Finally, you don’t touch the question of why the Apostolic authorities, 1,100 years closer to Christ than you or I, walking around with the (supposed) Apostle Junia, nevertheless failed to come to your conclusion and ordain women to the presbyterate in the Church.  Good choice; what you’ll have to argue is that their backward, pre-modern culture wouldn’t permit it, while our enlightened, advanced culture knows better.  I can point you to another current group of people making the same argument about other issues.  If you’re interested, contact Susan Russell at All Saints, Pasadena, CA.

October 26, 10:35 am | [comment link]
90. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Sarah, for example has only been able to assert that the church was right to ordain women, but wrong to ordain practicing homosexuals . . . “

Hi Rob K, I made no such assertion at all!  Indeed I do not and have never believed that it is right to ordain women. 

I merely pointed out the unfortunate logical fallacies in Fr Jay Scott Newman’s original [and now modified] premises and conclusions, pointed out that he was inaccurate about the reasons that certain evangelican Anglicans support WO, pointed out that his assertions [not arguments] were based on his Roman Catholic theology, and pointed out that, while it is occasionally pleasant to discuss different churches’ views on things, it is only a matter of idle interest to me as to what leaders of other church’s think about what they perceive Anglicanism to be or ought to be.

In fact, I never engaged in the issue of WO at all, other than to point out the logical fallacies of Fr. Jay Scott Newman’s original stated premises and conclusions, which were so large that any person somewhat trained in Logic 101 could drive a truck through.

My main interest is in Anglicanism, and not in trying to get other people who are not Anglican to like it or approve of it, or to in any way “defend” it to those have accepted Roman Catholicism, or the Baptist, Methodist, or Lutheran churches, for that matter.

October 26, 10:39 am | [comment link]
91. William Witt wrote:

On the matter of what Scripture teaches about homosexuality, your argument is not with me but with the highest decision making body of your own church. And in your church, those who argue that homosexual persons can marry others of their own sex usually begin their argument by pointing out that women can now be ordained but could not be before the reading of Scripture was correctly normed by modern experience.

No, Fr. Newman, this is not the case.  Roman Catholic polemicists these days seem not to be able to escape from the sixteenth-century setting.  On the issue of justification by faith, the disagreement between Protestants and Roman Catholics really was about the interpretation of Scripture.  On the issue of homosexuality, the revisionists in the Episcopal Church have not made a case (or even tried to make a case) that Scripture really does not forbid same-sex activity.  Rather, those who are above board simply admit that they believe that Scripture is wrong.  Those who are more subtle, e.g., the authors of To Set Our Hope on Christ, do not actually address the issue of what the texts say about same-sex activity at all, but rather argue from other passages (e.g., Acts 10) that what Scripture says about Gentile inclusion necessarily implies that gays should be included as well.  In so doing, they violate basic rules of Anglican biblical interpretation (articles 6, 7, 20 of the 39 Articles), most specifically art. 20, which says “Scripture cannot be interpreted so as to be expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” 

The issue is not about the interpretation of Scripture, but about its authority.  In rejecting the authority of Scripture, the “reappraisers” have effectively ceased to be Anglicans.  And, of course, I have an argument with that.

And, yes, the “reappraisers” do indeed draw a parallel (as do you) between women’s ordination and same-sex unions.  But logical coherence on this issue seems no more to be a trait of Episcopal revisionists than of Roman Catholic polemicists.  It is one thing to make a statement, and another to make a case.

I note that you have chosen not to address the ways in which I have shown that the issues of same-sex unions and women’s ordination are different—and that is all that is necessary to refute your claim that the one necessarily inplies the other. Rather, you have resorted to appealing to to “reappraisers” (of all people) to argue that they are the same.  I see no reason to embrace the claim of either Roman Catholic polemicists or Episcopal reappraisers that it is the church that decides what to do with Scripture.  I do find the parallel interesting, however.

October 26, 10:47 am | [comment link]
92. Words Matter wrote:

It would follow that there is no clear message in Scripture about anything

No, it does not follow. Some things are quite clear, some not.  Moreover, it seems an anachronism to say that early Christians placed themselves under texts which did not have the weight of canon.  Irenaeus might well have said “for Polycarp told me so” and Polycarp might well have said: “for St. John told me so”, rather than “for the Bible (particularly the Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation of St. John) tells me so”. Interesting also to mention Irenaeus, who was sent to the bishop of Rome with a letter concerning Montanism in 178 or so, almost like the bishop of Rome had some kind of authority.

So it seems to that Br. Michael (and Dr. Witt?) base their argument on a presumed female apostle, the gender and status of that person being in doubt.  Even if he/she were a woman, this single instance stands against other writings of the same St. Paul and asks us to believe that he approves in one place what he disapproves in another.  I don’t have a theological education, but I was taught (by a Presbyterian theologian, not a Catholic) to read the scriptures as an integrated whole, not isolating proof-texts, or being careful about doing so.

And finally, Br. Michael and Dr. Witt, you are asking me to believe that this one disputed instance authorizes a change denied not just by the Catholics, but the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox.

October 26, 10:55 am | [comment link]
93. Sarah1 wrote:

. . . And, upon perusal of the discussion between Witt and Newman, I see that the usual differences between Roman Catholics and the liberal camp, on the one side, and evangelical Anglicans on the other, have now reared their heads, which is not unusual, in debates of this sort. 

William, though I do not believe in WO, thank you for knocking this one out of the park, and revealing the inherent and distinct differences between the Roman Catholic way of handling scripture and the evangelical Anglican way.

One note about two lines by Fr Jay Scott Newman—“And in your church, those who argue that homosexual persons can marry others of their own sex usually begin their argument by pointing out that women can now be ordained but could not be before the reading of Scripture was correctly normed by modern experience.”

Actually it is the progressives that make both arguments in this manner.  It is unfortunate that Fr JSN has not listened very carefully to the rather different reasons why evangelical Anglicans have made the case for WO—reasons that again demonstrate how very opposed in foundational areas they are from the Roman Catholic understanding of the church and scripture.  So this line might better read: “And in your church, those [progressive Anglicans] who argue that homosexual persons can marry others of their own sex usually begin their argument by pointing out that [from the progressive Anglican argument] women can now be ordained but could not be before the reading of Scripture was correctly normed by modern experience.” 

Again, evangelical conservative Anglicans make no such argument for “norming” Scripture by “modern experience.” 

RE: “My suggestion that those who support the ordination of women but oppose the marriage of homosexuals are in an untenable position is not question begging; it’s a simple fact of your history.”

As William Witt pointed out so amply . . . this is the illusion of a person who wishes it to be so; it demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the reasons certain evangelical Anglicans accepted WO . . . reasons that WW amply demonstrates.

William Witt—thank you again.

October 26, 10:56 am | [comment link]
94. William Witt wrote:

No, it does not follow. Some things are quite clear, some not.

Words Matter, 

Your quarrel here is with a type of Roman Catholic apologetical polemics, not with me.  I was not the one who said that apart from submission to the Roman magisterium, all interpretation of Scripture is reduced to “arbitrary private judgment.”  I would certainly agree that some parts of Scripture are clear, and some not.  In fact, I argued that what Scripture says about same-sex unions is clear.  What it says about orders is not so clear.

Moreover, it seems an anachronism to say that early Christians placed themselves under texts which did not have the weight of canon. Irenaeus might well have said “for Polycarp told me so” and Polycarp might well have said: “for St. John told me so”, rather than “for the Bible (particularly the Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation of St. John) tells me so”.

Indeed, they might—the difference being that Polycarp actually knew St. John personally.  We do not.

The second-century church (and this is Irenaeus) established three marks of catholic identity: Canon of Scripture, Rule of Faith, and apostolic continuity.  All three are logically related.  Those books were authoritative that had apostolic authors, or at least were of apostolic provenance.  The Rule of Faith provided a norm for interpreting canonical Scripture because it summarized (not added to) what was found in canonical Scripture.  Those churches that had bishops in apostolic succession were precisely those churches that embraced the canonical Scriptures, and recognized that the Rule of Faith was their accurate summary. 

In recognizing the canon, the church placed itself under its authority, and realized that as one became further removed from the historical memory of people like Polycarp one could no longer depend reliably on a merely oral tradition. A Scripture that was not inherently intelligible and authoritative would have been an unsure guide.

So it seems to that Br. Michael (and Dr. Witt?) base their argument on a presumed female apostle, the gender and status of that person being in doubt.

I said nothing about whether Junia was a female apostle.  I don’t have a horse in this race.  “Apostle” in the NT means both one of the twelve, and something like a traveling missionary.  Junia might well have been a woman and an apostle without answering the question of whether she was ordained.  Similarly, presbyteros means both “elder” (an office) and “old man.”  Women in the pastorals are referred to by the term presbytera (“old woman”).  It does not follow that they were necessarily female “elders.”

October 26, 11:22 am | [comment link]
95. Fr Jeffrey wrote:

de cura animarum

October 26, 11:54 am | [comment link]
96. libraryjim wrote:

#77
libraryjim -

What about Dorcus? Does it say anywhere she was a presbyter? What does going around helping people have to do with being a presbyter?

No but it does say she was a DISCIPLE, thus higher than just a “believer”.

October 26, 12:02 pm | [comment link]
97. libraryjim wrote:

oops,
Also, #77, Words Matter:
no, St. Andrew’s Panama City FL.

October 26, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
98. Br. Michael wrote:

89, Phil my citatations were to show that there is a text problem.  You then need to trace through the Greek and how this has been handled.  Read Epp’s book and examine his evidence.  And, yes, it is one text and has to be read in totality with the rest of scripture.
But it is clear to me that even if Scripure was absolutely clear that there was a female apostle it would be rejected by many here.

October 26, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
99. Phil wrote:

Br. Michael, I agree with you.  I also enjoy your comments and hope that remains clear despite a very rare disagreement.

October 26, 12:54 pm | [comment link]
100. Violent Papist wrote:

“Article VI (of the 39) says only that Holy Scripture CONTAINETH all things necessary to salvation, not that it is necessary for salvation that everything in scripture must be believed.  Just a thought!”

I had forgotten about that studiously -even brilliantly - ambiguous Article.  Frank Griswold could hardly do better.  Game. Set. Match.

October 26, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
101. Betty See wrote:

William Witt: 
I agree with your statement that the texts of the Bible have “an inherent intelligibility and stand over against the interpreter. Because of that, even reluctant interpreters can have their minds changed by reading the text”.
I am a fallible human being and I sometimes get impatient with people who wish that I misunderstand that which is clearly understood so thank you for presenting a more gracious way to state our belief in Scripture.

October 26, 1:22 pm | [comment link]
102. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:

Thanks Dr. Witt, for reminding this Protestant about why the magisterium is not quite what many hope it to be. It (The Magisterium) is often presented by Romans as a simple answer to the problem of authority and the issues which divide both Biblically submissive believers AND those who make no attempt at submission to tradition or scripture.

I have often wondered what will become of the Roman concept of authority if/when, may God forbid it, they get a revisionist pope. We will be right back to the great schism on the question of authority.

On WO, my church (not Anglican, but becoming more sacramental, I think!) argues that male and female gender are symbolic, especially in marriage but also in single roles, of the relationship between Christ and His church. So, the prohibition against female ministers is not about inferiority, or even fitness for the task, but is a symbolism that we would do well to continue. For the Protestant, God has established other symbols through which He infuses his blessing, such as communion, baptism, tithe, Sunday worship, etc. It’s not that we are damned if we work on Sunday for instance, it’s just that we will miss out on the blessing of rest that God has programmed into His universe.

In other words, the symbol is arbitrary, but once God has selected such a symbol, it’s proper treatment is “blessed” with real and concrete consequences for our life here.

Where does this idea fit into what you were saying about the traditional objections for WO?

October 26, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
103. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:

Sorry about the failed formatting. I meant to close italics after symbolic.

October 26, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
104. Ross wrote:

The argument in #102 seems to suggest that, just as only men may be priests, only women may be lay people.

October 26, 2:12 pm | [comment link]
105. Words Matter wrote:

libraryjim,

Are you claiming that “disciple” = presbyter? If so, that is a claim I have certainly never heard.  For that matter, I’ve never heard the claim that “disciple” and “believer” were - or are - distinguishable. Interesting…

Well, if you are ever in Fort Worth, your wife would probably enjoy St. Andrew’s - or “Mister Andrew’s, as it’s sometimes playfully called.  grin

Dr. Witt -

Thank you for your courteous clarifications.  I apologize for joining your arguments to Br. Michael’s. The question mark in the first reference should have been repeated in the second, or, preferable,  your name deleted. And thank you for the additional comments on Junia/s and “apostles”. In fact, Catholics today use the term much in the way you describe: an “apostolate” is a thing separate from Holy Orders.

That we don’t know St. John is beside the point I was trying to make, which is that we inherit a living faith. I learned my Christian faith at my Baptist parents’ knees.  Yes, they taught me from the Bible, but it’s in the context of a living community – family, congregation, and so on.  As I said in another thread recently, {i}sola scriptura simply doesn’t exist.  We always read scripture in a context, and through a filter of one tradition or another.

A Scripture that was not inherently intelligible and authoritative would have been an unsure guide.

If the scriptures were clearly intelligible, there would not exist tens of thousands of protestant denominations (and yes,  many of those come about for historical reasons, or simply due to the egos of their leaders).  So I suppose your point is correct, if it is that Catholics read the scriptures in a profoundly different manner than protestants.  I would, however, note that where the scripture is clear, the Catholic Church stands exactly with the scriptures.  I can’t think of an example of Catholic dogma which goes against scripture, though some stand outside of it. 

three marks of catholic identity: Canon of Scripture, Rule of Faith, and apostolic continuity.

I had that church history class, too. You’ve probably taught it,  but my (Episcopalian) professor told me that apostolic continuity was a matter of bishops being consecrated by bishops who were consecrated by bishop who were…and so on back to the apostles, rather than deriving from adherence to a scripture or creeds which didn’t yet exist.  I don’t want to argue the merits of apostolic succession, only it’s historical realities.  Of course, some bishops became heretics (and still do, at least materially), but the point is that the episcopate predates the Canon of Scripture, and, perhaps, even the Rule of Faith (probably not, but it certainly predates many elements of the Creeds).
I do think you (and Sarah) underestimate the place of the homosexualists in your church. To an outsider with only the smallest of dogs in the hunt (someone like me, for example), it’s pretty clear that the Episcopal Church is now a homosexualist sect,  notwithstanding the presence of folks who stand against that ideology.  From 1998 to now, diocese after diocese acclaims “full inclusion” of “our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters”, meaning same-sex marriage (excuse me, “blessings”) and the ordination of practicing homosexuals.  This is in full opposition to Lambeth 1.10, and approved, or ignored, by this ABC and the last one.  Your Presiding Bishop and House of Bishops issue statements which make clear that formal and public recognition of these practices are only a matter of time.  There is NO sense of a change from the underlying ideology. 

Moreover, the scriptural case is not isolated to Boswell in the 80s.  You and I certainly agree that the scriptures are clear against same-sex genital sex acts, but the assault on the plain meaning of scripture continues to this day.  Remember that “study document” prepared for the ’97 GC?  And was not To Set Our Hope on Christ presented as a response of TEC to the AC in a rather formal setting?  Do not the shell-fish arguments and “they didn’t understand homosexuality” arguments continue unabated.  These are “scriptural” arguments (although poor ones) that claim Jesus (who never spoke against same-sex relationships) would approve of these “developments” based on his purported “gospel of inclusion”. These are from the highest authorities of your church.  Therefore, it is understandable that Fr. Newman would argue to these authorities making their public, if disingenuous, statements. 

Again, Dr. Witt, thank you for your courteous response.  I stand completely with Fr. Newman and see a clear movement from Women’s Ordination to Same-sex issues.  Still, I pray for ya’ll who try to maintain something like historic Anglican Christianity.  I certainly don’t impugn your good will.

And Capt. Sparrow: the Magesterium is precisely what I hoped it would be,  which is a process – and not a “simple” one - to resolve those questions that come up in the life of the Church.  It was the lack of this process in Anglicanism, with the resultant incoherence on display today, that was the push to examine the Catholic Faith and enter the Catholic Church.

October 26, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
106. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:

“And Capt. Sparrow: the Magesterium is precisely what I hoped it would be, which is a process – and not a “simple” one - to resolve those questions that come up in the life of the Church.  It was the lack of this process in Anglicanism, with the resultant incoherence on display today, that was the push to examine the Catholic Faith and enter the Catholic Church.”

I believe in the concept of primatial authority, although it appears to be under an extreme test at this point in Anglicanism. But the Romans who sojourn among us DO have an easy repose under the pope’s shadow. I think too easy, for some. It’s not so much the idea that primatial or apostolic authority begins and ends in one man as much as the idea of papal infallibility that bothers me.

Nothing in life is that simple. And yes, I’m aware of the fact that Romans often try to “deconstruct” infallibility at points where it suits them, while “reconstructing” it in order to “solve” difficult questions of faith or order for a time.

Your analogy about the lack of a pope being the cause of Anglican failure seems to me a bit like saying “The man shot himself because he wasn’t wearing a straightjacket as he should have been.”
Technically true, but then why did he need to wear the straightjacket in the first place?

October 26, 3:07 pm | [comment link]
107. Chris Jones wrote:

Dr Witt,

In your #87, I think you overstate the “inherent intelligibility” of texts, at least in the case of the Holy Scriptures, which are, in a number of ways, unlike other texts.

Not least among the ways in which the Scriptures are unlike other texts is in their purpose.  The purpose of the Holy Scriptures is not simply to communicate information (although they surely do that), but to bring about a confrontation between lost sinners and the crucified and risen Son of God, in order that they be transformed by a saving union with Him.  That existential encounter does not take place simply in an intellectual encounter with an “inherently intelligible” text, but in and through the sacramental and liturgical life of the Apostolic Church, in her kerygma and her covenanted mysteries.

That ecclesial and liturgical context is the context within which the Scriptures must be read and understood, and if abstracted from that context they cannot be said to be intelligible at all—certainly not “inherently” so.  The Scriptures then become merely intellectual materials to be put together as we choose, to support the world-view that we bring to them.

The Scriptures are to be used, not to deduce the truths of the faith or the “rules” of Church order, but to communicate and to impart the Church’s rule of faith, thereby effecting in each believer the salvation which the Scriptures proclaim.  And the ecclesial and liturgical context in which that takes place is not ordered according to deductions from Scripture, but according to an Apostolic order which is itself coeval with (and presupposed by) Scripture.

The firm intent to remain with that ecclesial and liturgical context, to be faithful to what has been, and continues to be, given to us there, is what following the Apostolic Tradition is all about.  What the WO debate and the sexuality debate have in common is that human ideas which come from outside that tradition have been allowed to become criteria by which to judge the teaching and practice which are given to us in that tradition.  The Gospel has been weighed in the balance provided by modern liberal values and found wanting.

One need not be a Roman Catholic (I am not) nor agree with Fr Newman about the privileged role of the institutional magisterium as the expositor of the Apostolic Tradition (I do not) to recognize that there is such a thing as the Apostolic Tradition, and that as Catholic Christians we have no other option than to be faithful to it.  What WO and sexual revisionism have in common is that they are the result of judging the Apostolic Tradition by the values of this world, and Fr Newman is right to point that out.

October 26, 3:15 pm | [comment link]
108. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:

Mr. Jones,
I agree that for the secularists in TEC, you are probably right that they have weighed the gospel and found it wanting. I don’t think your criticism is true of folks like Anne Kennedy, Matt Kennedy’s ordained wife.

In other words, the original impetus for WO might have come from the folks who didn’t value scripture as much as they did being fashionable. But it is a bit unfair to paint all believers in WO with the same brush.

This has been the case with other good movements as well. For instance, many of the abolitionists were unitarians and not orthodox Christians. In the same way, many who promoted equal rights for people or color came from liberal or unorthodox persuasions. This fact does not then negate the obvious rightness of equal protection under law for all people.

BTW, I do not support WO.

October 26, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
109. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

Wm. Witt wrote:
I will say this.  If the argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay priests is no stronger than the argument against women’s ordination, then the progressives are right.

Exactly the problem; Mr. Witt is right. However, the “progressives” are wrong about both.

This is not mere theory. The arguments used by the same sex blessing crowd, for re-imagining, or rethinking, the meaning of scripture as outside of, or merely balanced against, the Catholic Tradition, are not similar to the arguments used previously for the “ordination” of women. They are, instead, the exact same arguments. And the result is the same: The sex of an individual is believed to be irrelevant in a sacrament. If Lucy and Louise may be priests, then no argument exists for why they may not be woman and wife.
We Continuing Anglicans predicted, in 1977, that you ECUSAns would have to go through this. History has proved us right. You have no argument against these facts.

October 26, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
110. Occasional Reader wrote:

Chris, what you write here is eloquent and theologically sophisticated, and I am even in substantial agreement with you.  It does not, however, explain the phenomenon of one who reads the Bible quite apart from liturgical and ecclesial contexts and is nevertheless able to hear God through Jesus offering eternal life and calling them to be followers, even as they read it—heaven forbid!—privately.  I know too many people for whom this is the case to doubt the intrinsic intelligibility of the text and its efficacy toward this end.

I take Witt’s point to be that the text of Scripture, because it participates in the incarnation via the employment of human language, is thus intelligible, and publicly so, such that two persons could actually talk about its meaning with one another (even if disagreeing) and without appealing to private illuminations.

October 26, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
111. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

Captn. Sparrow:

Just a point of interest (which is not a reply to your comment, because it merely provoked my thinking about this subject).
The only Biblical references to slavery (other than Deut. 23:15,16, which forbids it) are New Testament passages that deal with the reality of the pagan Roman empire. The idea that St. Paul’s acceptance of that reality should be read as approval, rather than urging a Spartacus style revolution, is clearly mistaken. Pertinent to this discussion is a simple fact. The WO crowd began using this false “slavery” argument in the 60s to show that we need to grow beyond Traditional/ Scriptural thinking to be in step with the Spirit. Once again, the Same Sex Blessing crowd uses the exact same (bad) argument.

The WO apologists have already done all of the homosexualist’s work for them.

October 26, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
112. Chris Jones wrote:

Capn Jack

I certainly don’t think that Mrs Kennedy (who strikes me as an intelligent and pious woman) has “weighed the Gospel and found it wanting.”  But at the same time I do not believe that she or other “conservative” supporters of WO have thought through the issue in its proper context and applying the proper criteria.

It is not just that the “original impetus” for WO came from those who valued their liberal values more than the Gospel.  It is that the intellectual environment of today, with its presuppositions and thought-categories, has been accepted as the proper context within which not only to interpret Scripture, but to evaluate the content of the Church’s Tradition.  And that is true no less of “conservatives” like the Kennedys than it is of progressives.

It is no accident that Episcopal conservatives who support WO tend to be decidedly “Reformed” in their theological allegiance.  They adhere to an extreme form of Scripture Alone which is hostile to allowing the Tradition a role in determining our Scriptural hermeneutic.  But the exclusion of Tradition only allows modernism and secularism to fill the vacuum.  Thus the neglect of the Tradition (as St Basil the Great put it) injures the Gospel in its vitals.

October 26, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
113. Words Matter wrote:

Cap’n Sparrow -

You complicate what is simple, and simplify what is complicated.  And confuse me along the way,  though I must admit to being easily confused.  grin

The Magesterium is not reducible to “one man”.  It encompasses the roles of bishops in communion with the bishop of Rome, particularly when met in an ecumenical council.  It encompasses “ordinary” teaching, as well as the extraordinary statements “ex cathedra”. Catholic doctrine functions on a variety of levels, from religious opinion to the Creeds and dogmas.  We happen to have a good pope at this time, but even if it turned out that he harbored secret heresies and had a boyfriend on the side, it wouldn’t matter. My faith isn’t in Benedict, but in Jesus Christ.  The question comes along, then, of whether Jesus is truly guarding His Church from error in essential matters of Faith and Morals. If He isn’t, then we are in a mess, are we not?  If He is, then what is the instrument of His doing so? 

My answer, based on the Scriptures and history is that the locus, though not the whole, of His means is the office of the bishop of Rome, Peter’s successor.  My Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters have a different answer. The problem with Anglicanism is that it doesn’t seem to have an answer at all. I didn’t say that the lack of a “pope” is the downfall of Anglicanism. Here’s what I said:

It was the lack of this process in Anglicanism, with the resultant incoherence on display today, that was the push to examine the Catholic Faith and enter the Catholic Church.

That’s rather different, is it not?  But let me lay my cards on the table: I came to the conclusion that the lack of an authoritative teaching ministry marks Anglicanism as something other than that Church founded by Christ through the apostles. “Ecclesial community” is the term Catholics now employ for protestant denominations, and I think that is correct.  To repeat myself: if the pope isn’t a reliable arbiter of disagreements, then who is?  Too often, the answer is: “I am”. 

I haven’t a clue what you mean by:

And yes, I’m aware of the fact that Romans often try to “deconstruct” infallibility at points where it suits them, while “reconstructing” it in order to “solve” difficult questions of faith or order for a time.

Papal infallibility is a very limited concept, tightly defined.  As noted, truth claims are understood to have various levels of reliability. The proximate truths of the creeds are binding on all Christians; the dogmas are binding on Catholics.  Yes, Catholics do argue a lot about the exact nature of various truth claims.  We are a fractious lot. That doesn’t mean that, at some point, matters can’t be settled. If and when they need to be settled, we have a way to settle them.  Anglicans don’t.

October 26, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
114. Chris Jones wrote:

Occasional Reader,

I do not doubt that there are people who come to faith by reading the Bible privately, although I think that such cases are very much the exception rather than the rule.  But I would make two brief points about such a scenario:

First:  A person who comes to faith from reading the Bible privately is profiting from the theological and spiritual capital laid down by others, for two reasons:  the Bible was written and compiled in and for the liturgical life of the Church—it did not drop from the sky; and the Bible was published, guarded, and handed down to us by the Church.  Thus even someone who reads the Bible privately is benefiting from the ministry of the Church, simply by virtue of having a Bible to read in the first place.  Indeed, he who comes to faith by “private reading” is still a son of the Church, even if “at one remove”.

Second:  A person who comes to faith by private reading does not thereby come to “private faith” and cannot be, or remain, a “private Christian”—there is no such thing.  He who comes to faith, even “privately,” must enter into the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.  He may have come to believe in Christ “on his own,” but he must be baptized; he must receive the Eucharist; he must hear and receive the proclamation of the Word in the liturgical assembly.  There is simply no other way of being a Christian.

What faith is it that a person who comes to faith “privately” receives?  It is either the faith of the Church, or some other faith.  If it is the faith of the Church, then he as received it (whether he knows it or not) through the ministry of the Church, albeit indirectly; and he must cleave to the Church and live by her means of grace to guard and maintain that faith.  But if it is some other faith than the Church’s faith, then it is false and will avail him nothing for salvation.

October 26, 4:19 pm | [comment link]
115. Capn Jack Sparrow wrote:

Words,
I too have great respect for Benedict. I was THRILLED at his election. The Roman church (and its ideas about authority) are particularly attractive right now, because they appear to be working when compared to the lack of authority and chaos in Protestantism.

Primatial authority was also very attractive—-when it appeared to be working.

I see your point about process rather than person. I am probably caricaturing your ideas unfairly.

I think that as you say, unless Christ guards the unity and purity of the church, we are finished. However, I think that Christ has not been quite as specific as the Romans say when it comes to the human mechanism of that guidance.

I’m also acutely, and painfully aware, of the problem of private judgement. It is a curse. Ultimately it goes back to the garden “Yea hath God said???”

October 26, 4:23 pm | [comment link]
116. Laurence K Wells wrote:

Someone wrote:
“It is no accident that Episcopal conservatives who support WO tend to be decidedly “Reformed” in their theological allegiance. “

Support of WO seems to be a kind of badge for Protestant Episcopalians, even when they attempt to present themselves as
exponents of Reformed theology.  The irony here is that the genuinely Calvinist denominations (OPC, PCA, ARP, URCA, etc) will have nothing to do with WO and correctly discern it to be a capitulation to the Zeitgeist.  So I would amend the quoted sentence to say, “It is no accident that Episcopal conservatives who support WO try very hard to appear “Reformed” in their theological allegiance.”

October 26, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
117. Id rather not say wrote:

(Oops.  Forgot my blockquote.  Here it is again.  Elves, feel free to erase the previous version.)
Hmmmm . . . perhaps we should begin a TitusOneNine book club and start with Cardinal Newman’s Grammar of Assent?

First, let me suggest that it is possible to agree—and disagree—with both William Witt and Fr. Newman. 

The question of the “ordination” of women cannot be settled by a simple scriptural appeal; at the same time, the case for same-sex unions involves a willful misreading of scripture.  The same insistence that words do not mean what they plainly mean can be equally applied to pronouncements of the magisterium, as surely Fr. Newman must realize when he continues to encounter Roman Catholics who claim that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis somehow does not close the question for the Roman Catholic Church.  Thus far for William Witt.

The problem, of course, is that not all men are as intellectually honest as William Witt.  In fact, all men are sinners, and that includes sins of the intellect.  Nor are they as intelligent as William Witt.  Therefore, we need both forgiveness and guidance.  We know from whence we receive forgiveness.  What about guidance?

In other words, actually ending this controversy, instead of letting it roll on endlessly, must ultimately involve an appeal to an authority outside of Scripture.  Sorry Betty See, but if just saying “You will find it in Scripture” were enough, then Arianism would still be a viable option.  Thus far for Fr. Newman.

However, let us remember that Christianity is not natural religion.  It is a revealed religion; that is, it is the product of a revelation.  We’re all familiar with the t-shirt that reads “Because I’m the Mommy, that’s why!”  We believe certain things because He said so.  Period.  Don’t like it?  Too bad—and that goes for our intellects as well as our wills.  In the words of C. S. Lewis,

The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation . . . If it is true, then we should expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and which believers will call supra-rational.  There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it—as the facts of sex and sense on the natural level are opaque.  And that is the real issue.

So then, when faced with this problem, how do we determine what we believe?  Somehow, somewhere, at some point, we must all park our judgment.  Even the ultra-ratonal Aquinas did that, as William Witt well knows.  We know where Fr. Newman parks his.  I think I know where I park mine.  William, where do you park yours?  To say “Scripture alone” is untenable for a hundred reasons; at best you end up with the epistemological equivalent of endlessly receding mirrors.  If you say “with myself,” then if you judge some heretofore unknown innovation in the Church’s practice to be of God, you either deny the revealed character of the Christian religion, or you (or you and those voting likewise in General Convention) are declaring that you are a unique vessel of divine inspiration, à la Montanus.  And if not “Scripture alone” and not “with myself,” then pray tell where?  What authority would settle this question for you?

In the end, I agree with Fr. Newman that both the “ordination” of women and same-sex “unions” involve an anthropological error.  If one is looking for the Scriptural root of the problem, so to speak, then both of these errors follow from a misunderstanding of the first two chapters of Genesis, compounded by a misreading of St Paul—or perhaps better to say a failure to properly use St Paul to interpret the first two chapters of Genesis—and, in the case of the “ordination” of women, frequently topped off with a misunderstanding of the nature of ordained ministry itself.  But that is to get into the “why” of the issue, and not the “whether,” which is what Fr. Newman raised.

I’ll conclude this portion with a self-advertisement: http://rathernot.classicalanglican.net/?p=27

Second, while I have not read the work to which Br Michael refers and so must reserve final judgment, I am fully aware of the textual issues involving the (in)famous Junia, and it would take an awfully good argument to convince me that the title “apostle” was being applied in Romans 16 to her.

However, even if it were, that would not settle the issue.  As I am sure Br. Michael is aware, words mean different things in different contexts.  There are obscure occasions when the term “apostle” has been applied to a woman—perhaps the best know instance is the Deaconess St. Olympias, friend of St. John Chrysostom, but I know of a very ancient church in Egypt with a fresco that labeled St. Thekla an “apostle.” However, I have no doubt that neither St Chrysostom nor the painter of that fresco believed that these women were somehow included in Holy Orders. So while the identity of Junia is of interest, determining whether she was included in the group labeled “apostles” cannot be dispositive for the question we are pursuing here, since we cannot know in her case whether the term was purely honorific, as it certainly was in the cases of Olympias and Thekla,

October 26, 6:00 pm | [comment link]
118. FrKimel wrote:

Looks like this is a good time to reference (for those who have not yet read it) Edward Norman’s essay “Authority in the Anglican Communion.”  His book Anglican Difficulties is out of print, but is readily available.

October 26, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
119. FrKimel wrote:

May I respectfully suggest, contra my old friend Dr Witt, that the intelligibility of Scripture is not the issue.  None of us are Kantians here arguing that the mind constructs reality.  What is the issue is the resolution of conflicting interpretations of the apostolic deposit of faith.  Can there be divinely effective resolution?

The question of women’s ordination is an excellent test case.  Anglicanism has, by and large, decided that divine revelation, as attested in Scripture, does not bar the ordination of women to the presbyterate and the episcopate.  And to be honest, it’s hard, in my humble judgment, to find in the New Testament clear, definitive, uncontroversial instruction on this question.  There is no divine commandment “Thou shalt not ordain women.”  And so for a host of questions.  Our Anglican brethren in Sydney, e.g., are quick to point out that there is commandment “Thou shalt not allow laymen to preside at the Supper of the Lord.” 

And yet the two oldest and largest apostolic communions, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, are convinced that the apostolic revelation restricts ordination to the presbyterate and episcopate to men.  I suggest that this should cause catholic-minded Anglicans to question (1) how they read Scripture and (2) how they construe the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, Church, and the apostolic revelation.  Thus I formulated Pontificator’s First Law:  When Orthodoxy and Catholicism agree, Protestantism loses.  At the very least, I think it should force Anglicans to concede that if Anglicanism is authentically catholic, it does not have the right to unilaterally alter catholic faith and order, as IRNS has repeatedly asserted on this blog.  To do so, as it has in fact done on the matter of women’s ordination, is to abandon its claim to be catholic.  To quote our anonymous professor:  “You cannot claim to be only a part and yet act as if you represent the whole. ”  If Anglicanism truly believes it has the right to ordain women to the priesthood, it is in fact and reality simply one denomination amid thousands.

October 26, 6:45 pm | [comment link]
120. William Witt wrote:

I have already spent way too much time in this discussion. I wanted to add a few points of clarification.

To Chris Jones: Of course, there is a context in which Scripture should be and must be read.  As Alasdair MacIntyre has shown eloquently, all knowledge takes place within and is transmitted through communities of tradition.  And the tradition in which Scripture is read, and intended to be read, is the Church.  This does not imply, however, that the text receives it intelligibility from the Church, least of all from the magisterium.  It especially does not mean that the text in itself is some kind of rubber nose, that can be twisted in whatever direction the reader intends.  I am certainly not advocating “private judgment.”  I do not believe it exists.

To words matter:

If the scriptures were clearly intelligible, there would not exist tens of thousands of protestant denominations (and yes, many of those come about for historical reasons, or simply due to the egos of their leaders).

I have never been impressed by this appeal to the “thousands of protestant denominations.”  Having spent the first half of my life in one of these “protestant denominations,” and having studied at and taught at several colleges in which these numerous denominations were represented, I have been more impressed by the commonalities of the various Protestant denominations, which tend to fall into a few basic types, and whose differences tend to turn around a few basic issues that have turned up repeatedly in the history of the church: sacramental theology, ecclesial polity, the relationship between church and the surrounding culture, issues of war and peace.  If the Catholic Church (and its Protestant descendants) had not so closely aligned itself with secular powers throughout its history, and if it had more creatively dealt with theological differences, e.g., Berengar, the Reformation would not have been necessary. The denominations that have distinguished themselves by particular answers to questions that were already debated (and prematurely silenced) in the Middle Ages would not now exist.

With the exceptions of cultic sects that add new revelations to Scripture (e.g., Mormons, Christian Science) or interpret the biblical texts in clearly irresponsible ways (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses), the kinds of differences between Protestant denominations are not more extreme, I think, than the kinds of differences between Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Copts, and other churches that separated during the first millennium of Christian faith.

The glaring exception to the above is, of course, Liberal Protestantism, which is basically a revival of gnosticism, and has its counterpart, even today, among Catholic modernists, many of whom teach in Catholic universities and seminaries, and preside at Catholic altars.

But I do think it crucial to point to your admission in your initial clause: “If the scriptures were clearly intelligible.”  If the Post-Tridentine position is that the Scriptures are not clearly intelligible, it is a break from the historic Catholic tradition.

To Robert Hart:

The arguments used by the same sex blessing crowd, for re-imagining, or rethinking, the meaning of scripture as outside of, or merely balanced against, the Catholic Tradition, are not similar to the arguments used previously for the “ordination” of women. They are, instead, the exact same arguments.

I have already addressed this, as has Sarah.  As Sarah wrote:

So this line might better read: “And in your church, those [progressive Anglicans] who argue that homosexual persons can marry others of their own sex usually begin their argument by pointing out that [from the progressive Anglican argument] women can now be ordained but could not be before the reading of Scripture was correctly normed by modern experience.”

Progressive Anglicans do indeed use the same arguments for SSU they used for WO.  Such arguments for WO would be bad arguments. They are not the kinds of arguments that I myself would use. In my rather lengthy replies to Fr. Newman, I noted just some of the ways in which the cases are different.  To presume that because revisionst Anglicans make a certain kind of case for WO, and make the same kind of case for SSU’s means that orthodox Anglicans who support WO are making the same case indicates a kind of carelessness, and an apparent ignorance of the state of the discussion for the last thirty years or so.  For example, the authors of the most careful exegetical texts opposing SSU also support WO, e.g, Richard Hays, Robert Gagnon, Thomas Schmidt, William Webb. The progressive case for both is based on premises that the orthodox do not share.

As I pointed out before, logical incoherence is not an exclusive privilege of revisionists. It seems to be shared by certain kinds of traditionalists as well.

October 26, 7:02 pm | [comment link]
121. Words Matter wrote:

Cap’n Sparrow -

I don’t think you caricatured my comments, though you did miss my point. That could, of course, be due to my lack of clarity as much as your reading.  But you hit the point I intend to make: “Yea hath God said???”  As my (Episcopalian) church history professor liked to say: the Protestant/Catholic divide boils down to this: WHO says what the Word of God is? She was quite frosted when I informed her that answered that question led me to become Catholic. grin

Oh, my RatherNot and Fr. Kimil are here. Between them and Dr. Witt I had best take my under-educated self back to the tall grass, from which I can hide and watch. grin grin

October 26, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
122. Michael Liccione wrote:

As a Catholic, I first want to thank Chris Jones, Fr. Kimel (to whose old blog he allowed me to contribute posts) and IRNS (a former college roommate of mine) for engaging Dr. William Witt on the topic of the “inherent intelligibility of Scripture.” I also want to point out that I’ve already critiqued WW’s view at my own blog on this very point, both here and here.  I’ve yet to get a reply, perhaps because the time WW has available for Internet controversy is as limited right now as mine often is. But he and I had a closely related debate last year at Fr. Kimel’s old blog, and I never got a reply even then to what I thought was my main criticism. Indeed WW’s latest comment (at #120 here), in this case to Chris Jones, shows that he’s just restating the same point I’ve been criticizing:

As Alasdair MacIntyre has shown eloquently, all knowledge takes place within and is transmitted through communities of tradition.  And the tradition in which Scripture is read, and intended to be read, is the Church.  This does not imply, however, that the text receives it intelligibility from the Church, least of all from the magisterium.  It especially does not mean that the text in itself is some kind of rubber nose, that can be twisted in whatever direction the reader intends.  I am certainly not advocating “private judgment.” I do not believe it exists.

In reply yet again, I quote from my latest post:

....the question that needs addressing is this: why should we believe that the post-canonical Church exercises the same degree of authority in interpreting the canon of Scripture that the pre-canonical Church exercised in forming the canon of Scripture?

One might understand almost everything I’ve written before about Catholic-Protestant issues as a contribution to answering that question. But for now, I shall offer a more focused answer: we should believe that the post-canonical Church has the same degree of teaching authority as the pre-canonical Church because, absent such authority, it is impossible to transmit the deposit of faith as an object of faith, as distinct from human opinion. St. Thomas Aquinas put the same point thus: “he who does not adhere to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, may hold what is of faith, but he does not do so by faith.” My reasons for saying that are presented fairly economically in my essay Faith, Private Judgment, Doubt, and Dissent.

I make clear in that essay that what Newman abhorred as “private judgment,” what Fr. Kimel and I abhor as “private judgment,” and what Aquinas abhorred though not under the title of “private judgment,” is not what WW is denying the existence of. Despite numerous explanations and references, he continues to miss the point about private judgment.

October 26, 9:23 pm | [comment link]
123. Michael Liccione wrote:

I forgot to say how amused I was by WW’s explanation why he’s ...never been impressed by this appeal to the “thousands of protestant denominations” and finds a lot more “commonality” in Protestantism than Catholic apologists admit.

First he dismisses as exceptions the “cultic sects,” the “irresponsible” interpreters of Scripture, and “Liberal Protestantism,” thus leaving a fraction, albeit a substantial fraction, of Protestantism to consider. He does not say whether that fraction is supposed to include Pentecostals, by far the fastest-growing segment of Protestantism today. Are they “cultic” or “irresponsible”? If not, how much do they really have in common with the LCMS or with traditional Anglicans? While admitting that, in the fraction he praises for commonalities, there are differences about “sacramental theology” and “ecclesial polity,” he doesn’t note the fact that the differences among conservative Protestants about such things are great enough to sustain historic splits among denominations, even with the Reformed tradition. Nor does he note that that the differences within Catholicism about such things exist primarily between a fading cadre of “modernist” scholars on the one hand, and Rome and a vast bulk of the faithful on the other. The latter continue to believe and profess what they did before the modernists came along, and will continue to do so when the modernists have seen their day.

In light of such facts, and others I’m polite enough not to detain people with, WW ought to be impressed by the thousands of denominations.

October 26, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
124. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

William Witt wrote:
To presume that because revisionst Anglicans make a certain kind of case for WO, and make the same kind of case for SSU’s means that orthodox Anglicans who support WO are making the same case indicates a kind of carelessness, and an apparent ignorance of the state of the discussion for the last thirty years or so.  For example, the authors of the most careful exegetical texts opposing SSU also support WO, e.g, Richard Hays, Robert Gagnon, Thomas Schmidt, William Webb. The progressive case for both is based on premises that the orthodox do not share.

ON the contrary, a few dissenters to one point or the other proves nothing. The opposite fact, that some supporters of WO do not accept SSB, only means that they cannot follow their own thinking to its logical conclusion. The issue is not that some of them make these same arguments for only one, and not the other, position. The issue is that the arguments are the same. In both cases they begin by rejecting the clear meaning of I Tim. 3:15, after which the Bible is their toy, not the voice of their Master.

October 26, 11:08 pm | [comment link]
125. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

Trackback (I think that’s the blogger term).
http://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2007/10/holy-ghost-made-me-do-it.html

October 26, 11:18 pm | [comment link]
126. William Witt wrote:

May I respectfully suggest, contra my old friend Dr Witt, that the intelligibility of Scripture is not the issue.  None of us are Kantians here arguing that the mind constructs reality.  What is the issue is the resolution of conflicting interpretations of the apostolic deposit of faith.  Can there be divinely effective resolution?

To my friend Al Kimel:

Al,

I agree that none of us are Kantians.  Nonetheless, the Tridentine polemics about “private judgment” as developed by Newman and repeatedly used by some Roman Catholic apologists are Kantian in their argumentative structure.  They explicitly argue that the Biblical texts cannot be understood apart from an authoritative interpreter. Newman actually argues that apart from a living interpreter, no text is comprehensible.  Of course, he excludes his own texts.

Unless there is some kind of inherent distinction between biblical texts and other texts that makes the texts of those who write on blogs comprehensible, but the biblical text not, the arguments are Kantian.

And to be honest, it’s hard, in my humble judgment, to find in the New Testament clear, definitive, uncontroversial instruction on this question.  There is no divine commandment “Thou shalt not ordain women.”

Indeed.  Thank you, Al.  This is my point and the crucial point I was trying to make.  The discussion began when Fr. Newman made the claim:

[I]f a woman can be a presbyter, there is no coherent argument left against two men marrying each other.

That is not true, the reason being that Scripture provides “clear, definitive, uncontroversial instruction on [one] question” and does not provide ““clear, definitive, uncontroversial instruction” on the other.  As you write: “There is no divine commandment ‘Thou shalt not ordain women.’  There is a divine commandment against sexual unions between people of the same sex.”  And yet, some continue to make the incoherent claim, as, for example, Fr. Hart just above.

The question since raised in this discussion, and raised repeatedly by Catholic polemicists on this blog and elsewhere is a very different question. Thus you write: “And yet the two oldest and largest apostolic communions, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, are convinced that the apostolic revelation restricts ordination to the presbyterate and episcopate to men.”  And again, you mention Pontificator’s law: When Orthodoxy and Catholicism agree, Protestantism loses.

As you know, the Anglican understanding of authority begins with article 6: ” Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”

Anglican understanding of catholicity includes art. 20:

“The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.”

There are areas of agreement between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy that are not found in Scripture, e.g., the Marian dogmas.  They cannot then be required of Anglicans as necessary dogmas.  From a theological perspective, an Anglican has to ask not only about the existence of an ecclesial practice.  But the reasons for that practice. 

As I noted above, the historical reasons for the denial of ordination to women are the same as the historical reasons for the denial of women to other roles of authority.  They were said to be rationally inferior to men, and incapable of exercising roles of leadership over them.  To the best of my knowledge, Rome and Orthodoxy have now both abandoned the historic reason for denial of ordination, i.e., they no longer affirm the inherent inferiority of women.  They have then been forced to adopt new reasons to support an old practice.  Yet the change in theology is not acknowledged.  An old practice supported by different theological warrants is arguably not the same practice.

If Anglicanism’s insistence on the sufficiency of Scripture makes it not “catholic,” well, then, it is not “catholic,” at least by the requirements of Orthodoxy and Rome.  But it is precisely that insistence that has historically divided Anglicanism from Orthodoxy and Rome, so there is nothing new here.  Anglicans are not Orthodox or Roman Catholic.  Anglican understanding of catholicity is well summarized in Jewel’s Apology and Hooker’s Laws.  Anglican catholicity is located in a group of doctrines and practices that are rooted in Scripture, summarized in the Rule of Faith and the Creeds, and held in common with the patristic Church.  Historically, it was not understood to include a particular understanding of orders.  Anglicanism has always rejected the notion of ecclesial authority being advocated by some in this discussion.

Whether orthodox Anglicans can put aside past differences in order to unite around what will certainly be in some sense a new ecclesial entity, and how they will do so is an interesting question.  What kind of ecclesial authority they will have, and how it will provide discipline is another interesting question.  How the question of women’s ordination will be addressed is another one.  These are all questions that at some time will have to be addressed.  The evidence seems to indicate that they can be addressed, and will be addressed without enmity.  Of course, there are those who would prefer to cling to old polemics.  As my colleague Leander Harding states above: “My fear was that we would recreate in the 21st century the brittle and rigid church parties of the 19th. I do not think young people are interested in this nor do I think it a way forward to an effective missionary church.”

The question of whether Anglicanism is just a bad deal, and Anglicans should jump ship for Orthodoxy or Rome is one in which I have no interest.  It did not come up in the meeting between TESM and Nashotah House.

October 27, 8:18 am | [comment link]
127. William Witt wrote:

I should have written:

As you write: “There is no divine commandment ‘Thou shalt not ordain women.’” There is a divine commandment against sexual unions between people of the same sex.

The concluding sentence is mine, not Al Kimel’s.  I do not want to put words in Al’s mouth.

October 27, 8:22 am | [comment link]
128. William Witt wrote:

I forgot to say how amused I was by WW’s explanation why he’s ...never been impressed by this appeal to the “thousands of protestant denominations”  and finds a lot more “commonality” in Protestantism than Catholic apologists admit.

I am happy that I have amused Michael Liccione.  That he seems to perceive no difference between churches that are rooted in Reformation principles, and churches that explicitly depart from those principles either by adding new revelations, forming around a particular charismatic personality, or simply rejecting them (as in Liberal Protestantism) speaks volumes, but not about the churches of the Reformation.

October 27, 8:33 am | [comment link]
129. Michael Liccione wrote:

That he seems to perceive no difference between churches that are rooted in Reformation principles, and churches that explicitly depart from those principles either by adding new revelations, forming around a particular charismatic personality, or simply rejecting them (as in Liberal Protestantism) speaks volumes, but not about the churches of the Reformation.

On the contrary, I perceive many differences between them, and I did not question your distinguishing between them. The premise of my argument was that other ecclesial bodies falling with the ambit of Protestantism—the largest and fasting-growing class of which you did not and apparently do not see fit to mention—exhibit other substantial differences even among themselves. That includes the ones you call “the churches of the Reformation.” Given said premise, my argument was that such a state of affairs is the inevitable result of rejecting the idea of an infallible teaching authority embodied in the Church.

October 27, 9:32 am | [comment link]
130. William Tighe wrote:

This debate has received some notice and attention here (in the “update” at its end):

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2007/10/irish-anglicans-aim-for-union-with-rome/#comments

October 27, 9:50 am | [comment link]
131. Michael Liccione wrote:

...the Tridentine polemics about “private judgment” as developed by Newman and repeatedly used by some Roman Catholic apologists are Kantian in their argumentative structure.  They explicitly argue that the Biblical texts cannot be understood apart from an authoritative interpreter. Newman actually argues that apart from a living interpreter, no text is comprehensible.  Of course, he excludes his own texts.

Unless there is some kind of inherent distinction between biblical texts and other texts that makes the texts of those who write on blogs comprehensible, but the biblical text not, the arguments are Kantian.

I shall leave aside the inconvenient fact that Kant post-dated Trent, and thus the fierce “Tridentine polemics” of the 16th century, by a couple of centuries. I shall also leave aside the inconvenient fact that the very existence of a text presupposes a “living interpreter” at some stage: the linguistic community in which it was produced and is normally situated. The real issue here is being obscured.

The Catholic claim is not, without qualification, that “...the Biblical texts cannot be understood apart from an authoritative interpreter.” In the case of many though not all biblical texts, many people can and do acquire a reasonably adequate understanding of what they say insofar as that embodies the intent of the human authors. That is not really in question, and the issue does not really matter. The question that matters is whether what the texts say insofar as they embody such intent, whether or not we ascertain that correctly in any given instance, is what God is revealing to us by those means. That is the only question that matters because the purpose of Scripture in the Church is to help communicate to us what God is saying to us. There is no a priori reason to believe that what the human authors intended, even if we could always be certain of it, is precisely co-extensive with what God is saying to us through their writings. Even if that assumption were true—and I don’t think it is—we would need extra-biblical premises to reach the desired conclusion.

The Catholic answer is that the way to learn what God is saying to us in the Scriptures is not merely to read them in and with the Church, but to permit potentially church-dividing disputes about interpretation to be authoritatively resolved by the teaching authority of the Church. That answer involves no assumption that the biblical texts are always and necessarily “unintelligible” apart from the Magisterium. It is, however, to say that whatever measure of intelligibility the texts may enjoy in themselves, they function to present an object for the assent of faith, as distinct from opinion, only when read in the Church, through the Church, and when necessary by the authority of the Church.

This debate will go nowhere unless and until that claim is actually confronted instead of caricatured.

October 27, 10:10 am | [comment link]
132. libraryjim wrote:

In 130. William Tighe wrote: This debate has received some notice and attention here

I liked the comment by Aelric (26 October 2007 @ 8:33 pm—since they don’t number them) in pointing out the difference in the two situations being discussed.

October 27, 10:26 am | [comment link]
133. Words Matter wrote:

the historical reasons for the denial of ordination to women are the same as the historical reasons for the denial of women to other roles of authority.  They were said to be rationally inferior to men, and incapable of exercising roles of leadership over them.

Dr. Witt or anyone else -

Do you have primary source citations for this statement? I have no doubt such things were thought and said in the past, by protestants as well as RC and EO theologians, but were they actually justifications used in Catholic documents for not ordaining women?  I have heard the argument that since Eve was “deceived first”, that put her in a subordinate position, but the argument was from a Baptist. 

Not meaning to be polemical, just wondering. In fact, I can’t find documentation of previous generations justififying the male-only priesthood, although I am not an internet search expert.

October 27, 10:50 am | [comment link]
134. Id rather not say wrote:

William,

Perhaps I will have a chance for a longer comment, or perhaps this thread will be dead by that time.  In any case, just two short points.

First, Anglican teaching on authority is not limited to the Articles, and even within the Articles it is not limited to Articles 6 and 20.  But even Article 6 insists, not only on requiring what is only found in Scripture, but also “or may be proved thereby,” which (as the Latin version inde probari potest makes clear) cannot mean “demonstrated” as in a mathematical or even legal sense, but rather “pass the test.”  The Scriptural argument against the “ordination” of women is that it does not pass the test, or in other words does not conform with the both the specific texts and their overall coherence.  But beyond that, Article 20 states, as you yourself quote, that “the Church [which in context can only mean the ecumenical church]  . . . hath authority in controversies of faith.”  In other words, the context of the Church is controlling.  Moreover, the very restriction on that authority in Article 20, that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another,” is just what is implied by “or may be proved thereby,” and is precisely that which opponents of WO are arguing is going on here.

Second, the point of the changing rationale for denying ordination to women is of little import.  The Trinity is a datum of revelation.  As we have known for some time, the rationale for that changed too, and many pre-nicene Fathers, quite a few of them saints, justified the Trinity on grounds that were later abandoned.  That a few comments by this or that theologian (Tertullian?  A heretic.  Thomas Aquinas?  Even Rome admits he didn’t get everything right) are now judged inadequate to justify a practice that was uniform in the Old Testament, and established by Our Lord himself in the New Israel, His body, says little or nothing as to the question of authority, which is what Fr. Newman raised, and which you have still not answered.

I’ll leave Kant to the experts.

October 27, 10:58 am | [comment link]
135. William Witt wrote:

As I said above, the issue has gone far beyond the initial question whether there is a necessary correlation between the ordination of women and the blessings of same-sex unions to the tired old polemics between Roman Catholics and the Reformation—a debate that good manners keeps from entering.  I am not interested in debating with Roman Catholics who enter Anglican blogs trying to convince Anglicanism that they should leave Anglicanism for Roman Catholicism.

My mention of Kantian epistemology was not anachronistic, as Newman’s development of the “private judgment” critique is post-Kantian—and his argument is the one constantly cited as authoritative.  However, Liccione’s statement below illustrates my point:

we should believe that the post-canonical Church has the same degree of teaching authority as the pre-canonical Church because, absent such authority, it is impossible to transmit the deposit of faith as an object of faith, as distinct from human opinion.

The shift here is clearly from the objectivity of the known object to the certainty of the knowing subject.  The implicit assumption is that apart from such an authority any interaction with the objective text is reduced to mere human opinion.  The question then becomes which group of privileged knowers becomes the locus of authority, the infallible Platonic episteme  of the magisterium or the uncertain doxa of the humble believer.

The reason I do not enter into these discussions is that I am sceptical of all such implicitly idealist attempts to settle questions of ontological reality with more clever epistemological solutions.  Any attempt to verify the certainty of external reality that begins with the knowing subject (whether that subject be individual or corporate) is doomed to failure.

The key relevant assertions as I see them are two-fold:

1) The post-canonical church does not have the same degree of teaching authority as the pre-canonical church and cannot for the simple reason that the authority of the pre-canonical church was the authority of apostles who were eyewitnesses of the risen Lord.  We are neither apostles nor eyewitnesses. To state that the post-canonical church has this same authority is always to subvert the authority of the canonical witnesses to contemporary subjective human opinion.  Whether that opinion is that of “private judgment” or of an ecclesial magisterium is irrelevant.

Oscar Cullmann states the issue:

“The problem of the relationship between scripture and tradition can be viewed as a problem of the theological relationship between the apostolic period and the period of the Church.  All the other questions depend on the solution that is given to this problem.”

Cullmann notes correctly that the office of the bishop is not the office of an apostle, but of a successor to the apostles.  By recognizing the canon, the second Century Church effectively and for all time insisted that it is the apostolic tradition that constitutes the authority of the Church, and to which the Church must always be subordinate: “[The] apostolic norm [is] only what is written in these books.”

2) The fundamental issue of certainty of divine revelation is whether God is in himself who he is in his revelation.  If we cannot be certain that the canonical Scriptures communicate to us who God truly is in himself then we can have no certainty that they can speak to us at all.  If the apostles were faithful witnesses of that which they have received, then the church needs no infallibility to hear them faithfully.  The question of application is not one of epistemology or ecclesial authority, but of obedience.

Some of the best resources for these discussions are Oscar Cullmann’s article “The Tradition” in The Early Church (SCM, 1956), Barth’s discussions of the differences between the apostolic church and the post-apostolic church in CD 1/2, and J.B. Mozley’s The Theory of Development, a Criticism of Dr. Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1847, 1848).  William Abraham’s more recent discussion of “canonical theism” in Crossing the Threshold of Divine Revelation (Eerdmans, 2006)s also quite good.

To close with the words of Abraham:

“It is simply a mistake to think that the rationality of any and all forms of [Christian] theism depends on the epistemology embraced by their adherents.  The only forms of theism in this predicament are those that build epistemological proposals into the content of their theism. . . . Fundamentalism, liberal Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism make epistemic proposals constitutive of their identity.  Fundamentalist theism is unthinkable without the doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture; liberal Protestant theism makes the appeal to religious experience a hallmark of its identity; Roman Catholicism requires a commitment to papal infallibility. . . . Canonical theists rightly make no such assumption, for they are very clear that the church in its canonical commitments eschewed this kind of luxury.” (41-42)

October 27, 11:15 am | [comment link]
136. Id rather not say wrote:

I would add that what is really interesting about those theologians of the past who justified the male characters of the priesthood by the inferiority of women (and my impression is that there were not, in fact, very many of them) is that they felt there was something here that needed to be justified in the first place.  If they didn’t take the male character of the priesthood as part of the deposit of faith, why would they bother to comment at all?

October 27, 11:19 am | [comment link]
137. William Tighe wrote:

“Cullmann notes correctly that the office of the bishop is not the office of an apostle, but of a successor to the apostles ..”

Well, indeed he “notes” it, but I would hardly say “correctly.”  His view is simply reflective of the Lutheran view of Orders, which likewise denied any “ordinate” difference between bishops and presbyters.  As far as Anglicans are concerned, that view is one which some Anglicans have held and others rejected.  It has certainly not been the view of Anglo-Catholics since Tractarianism (who, like Eric Mascall, would distinguish between “the Twelve” and “apostles” generally, and hold that each bishop was an individual added to “the apostles” in the larger sense); and I would further add that historically it was the Church that canonized Scripture, not merely “recognized” it, for if the Church did only “recognize” it, on what authority did Protestants (and Anglicans with them) “derecognize” the deuterocanonocal books, and so come up with a “Canon of Scripture” which they hold in common only with the Jews, and with no Christian church or entity that predates the Reformation (it is well-known that all the Eastern Churches, Orthodox and others alike, have an OT Canon which includes even more books than the Latin Canon which the reformers rejected).

What I think this whole thread shows, implicitly and at times almost explicitly, is that an “Anglican Orthodoxy” that would include WO in its ample folds is merely one of a multitude of Protestant denominational orthodoxies, with no more claim to be “Catholic” in any historical sense than Adventist orthodoxy, Baptist orthodoxy, Lutheran orthodoxy or Socinian orthodoxy.  Any one of these can chop or change the meaning of “catholic” to make it fit their denominational sizes, whether it be the Lutheran “Evangelical Catholicity” that reduces bishops to nothing more than pastors with administrative functions, or a kind of Jewellian Anglican orthodoxy that asserts that Anglicanism is “Catholic” because it shares Doctrines A, B and C with “the Fathers” while passing over in silence other doctrines that the Fathers held with equal tenacity, such as the indivisible visibility of the Church it the liceity of the veneration of images (upheld by the Seventh Council)—or for that matter the non-ordainability of women.  But whether a Protestant denomination embraces the term “Catholic” (like Anglicans, generally) or repudiates it (like Baptists, generally), it is all one: those that reject it, at least, reject something definite, while those that embrace it alter its sense to something that, upon examination, proves to have very little common substance with how Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrians undestand and make claim to that term.

For Jewel, see: *John Jewel and the English National Church: the Dilemmas of an Erastian Reformer* by G. W. Jenkins (Ashgate, 2005).

October 27, 11:45 am | [comment link]
138. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “The opposite fact, that some supporters of WO do not accept SSB, only means that they cannot follow their own thinking to its logical conclusion.”

As the Roman Catholics on this thread have demonstrated their complete lack of knowledge about what the “thinking” of evangelical supporters of WO has actually been, they are certainly unable to judge the “logical conclusion” of such thinking concerning much of anything else, much less something so unconnected as SSBs.

Same old, same old . . . the Roman Catholics on this thread wish to fancy that the evangelical Anglicans on this thread actually hold to their foundational claims, many of which we do not. 

This line by Al Kimel is one example: “And yet the two oldest and largest apostolic communions, the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, are convinced that the apostolic revelation restricts ordination to the presbyterate and episcopate to men.  I suggest that this should cause catholic-minded Anglicans to question (1) how they read Scripture and (2) how they construe the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, Church, and the apostolic revelation.  Thus I formulated Pontificator’s First Law:  When Orthodoxy and Catholicism agree, Protestantism loses. At the very least, I think it should force Anglicans to concede that if Anglicanism is authentically catholic, it does not have the right to unilaterally alter catholic faith and order, as IRNS has repeatedly asserted on this blog.  To do so, as it has in fact done on the matter of women’s ordination, is to abandon its claim to be catholic.”

He makes—yet again—the fatal mistake of believing that evangelical Anglicans actually believe Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism to be “catholic” which of course if we did, we would all promptly convert.  So why Anglicans should attempt to mold their views about “catholicity” to the Roman Catholic or Orthodox views about “catholicity” is beyond me.  Since Al Kimel believes [understandably] that the Roman Catholic church is the one true church, then his line above might just as well read like this: “I think it should force Anglicans to concede that if Anglicanism is authentically [Roman] catholic it does not have the right to unilaterally alter [Roman] catholic faith and order.”

But precisely the issue is that we do not believe that the Roman Catholic church is the one true church, otherwise evangelical Anglicans would all be Roman Catholic!

Michael Liccione does the same thing: “The Catholic answer is that the way to learn what God is saying to us in the Scriptures is not merely to read them in and with the Church, but to permit potentially church-dividing disputes about interpretation to be authoritatively resolved by the teaching authority of the Church. That answer involves no assumption that the biblical texts are always and necessarily “unintelligible” apart from the Magisterium. It is, however, to say that whatever measure of intelligibility the texts may enjoy in themselves, they function to present an object for the assent of faith, as distinct from opinion, only when read in the Church, through the Church, and when necessary by the authority of the Church.

This debate will go nowhere unless and until that claim is actually confronted instead of caricatured.”

That claim has been “confronted” . . . evangelical Anglicans don’t believe “potentially church-dividing disputes about interpretation to be authoritatively resolved by the teaching authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church. . . . It is, however, to say that whatever measure of intelligibility the texts may enjoy in themselves, they function to present an object for the assent of faith, as distinct from opinion, only when read in the [Roman Catholic] Church, through the [Roman Catholic] Church, and when necessary by the authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church.

As William Witt stated so well “If Anglicanism’s insistence on the sufficiency of Scripture makes it not “catholic,” well, then, it is not “catholic,” at least by the requirements of Orthodoxy and Rome.  But it is precisely that insistence that has historically divided Anglicanism from Orthodoxy and Rome, so there is nothing new here.  Anglicans are not Orthodox or Roman Catholic.”

Right.

“Anglicans are not Orthodox or Roman Catholic.”

RE: “The premise of my argument was that other ecclesial bodies falling with the ambit of Protestantism—the largest and fasting-growing class of which you did not and apparently do not see fit to mention—exhibit other substantial differences even among themselves. That includes the ones you call “the churches of the Reformation.” Given said premise, my argument was that such a state of affairs is the inevitable result of rejecting the idea of an infallible teaching authority embodied in the Church.”

Yes . . . and a Protestant’s argument is that “such a state of affairs is the inevitable result of [the Roman Catholic church’s claim that it actually has] . . . an infallible teaching authority embodied in the [Roman Catholic] Church.”

Why either “argument” [actually assertion] should really matter to the other, I don’t know.

October 27, 11:56 am | [comment link]
139. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “What I think this whole thread shows, implicitly and at times almost explicitly, is that an “Anglican Orthodoxy” that would include WO in its ample folds is merely one of a multitude of Protestant denominational orthodoxies, with no more claim to be “Catholic” in any historical sense than Adventist orthodoxy, Baptist orthodoxy, Lutheran orthodoxy or Socinian orthodoxy.”

Correct.  “. . . an “Anglican Orthodoxy” that would include WO in its ample folds is merely one of a multitude of Protestant denominational orthodoxies, with no more claim to be [Roman] “Catholic” in any historical sense than Adventist orthodoxy, Baptist orthodoxy, Lutheran orthodoxy or Socinian orthodoxy.”

Anglicans are not Roman Catholic.  Neither are Baptists.  Neither are Old Catholics.  Why that should come as a surprise to the Roman Catholics I don’t know.  Roman Catholics, unsurprisingly, accept their church’s claims.  Protestants do not.

October 27, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
140. William Witt wrote:

Well, yes.  Thank you, Sarah.  At least one thing is clear after 138 comments.  Former Episcopalians/Anglicans who are now Roman Catholics are not happy with Episcopalians/Anglicans who are still Anglicans, and they think that Episcopalians/Anglicans should become Roman Catholics.  What this has to do with the original objection about the correlation of women’s ordination and same-sex unions is not clear to me.

October 27, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
141. Id rather not say wrote:

Re: #141:

While I have a moment:

Fr Hart is still and Anglican.

I am still an Anglican.

Michael Liccione was never an Anglican.

Some other time I’ll address Cullman’s manifest errors.

October 27, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
142. FrKimel wrote:

Re #126:

Bill, you elide the key point:  Orthodoxy and Catholicism know that Christ has restricted the priesthood to men.  They know that the male priesthood belongs to the apostolic institution of the Church.  And they know this despite the apparent absence of a clear, definitive, and uncontroversial word on this subject in the New Testament and despite the fact that the reasons sometimes advanced in the past to justify the restriction now appear specious.  So either the two oldest and largest apostolic communions are simply wrong, and have been wrong for 2,000 years, on a matter of critical importance to the Church’s sacramental economy; or you, and the rest of Anglicanism, are wrong in the way you read Scripture and the way you construe the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, Doctrine, and Church

I acknowledge your assertion that there is a difference between the issue of women’s ordination and the issue of homosexuality—namely, Scripture does, apparently, contain an explicit command proscribing homosex, whereas it does not, apparently, contain an explicit command proscribing the ordination of women to the priesthood.  Whether Fr Newman will feel a need to qualify his argument we shall see.  He may well disagree with my agreement with you. 

One doesn’t need to be a Kantian to note that there is a difference between authoritative doctrine and theological opinion.  One doesn’t need to be a Kantian to acknowledge that faithful believers can read the text of Scripture and reach different conclusions.  One doesn’t need to be a Kantian to reject Protestantism’s assertion of Scripture’s formal perspicuity and to insist that Scripture can only be rightly apprehended within the living Tradition of the Church. And one doesn’t need to be a Kantian to believe that the reliable transmission of divine revelation through history requires a Church that can effectively resolve with divine authority theological controversies and conflicting interpretations of the apostolic deposit of faith.

Invoke the plain meaning of Scripture as often as you want, but the fact remains that Christians disagree on this plain meaning of Scripture.  Now perhaps some of us are too stupid or too sinful to see what is so plain to others.  Or perhaps, just perhaps, the interpretation of Scripture is inherently more challenging and difficult than the interpretation of any other work of literature.  My limited thoughts on why I believe this to be the case can be found here and here.  Even the divine commands of Scripture need to be interpreted. 

To readers of this thread, I strongly commend Michael Liccione’s article “Faith, Private Judgment, Doubt, and Dissent.”  It is a succinct and clear statement of the issues at hand.  In light of Liccione’s analysis, how is Anglicanism’s rejection of the exclusively male priesthood not an exercise of sectarian judgment?  Or is it simply the case that in Anglicanism doctrine is never more than theological opinion? 

Bill, can you provide the source for your statement “Newman actually argues that apart from a living interpreter, no text is comprehensible.”  Thanks.

October 27, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
143. William Tighe wrote:

“Anglicans are not Roman Catholic. Neither are Baptists. Neither are Old Catholics. Why that should come as a surprise to the Roman Catholics I don’t know. Roman Catholics, unsurprisingly, accept their church’s claims. Protestants do not.”

True; but Old Catholics, together with Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrians hold (or have held, in the case of the Old Catholics, for with the exception of the Polish National Catholic Church here in the USA and Canada the Old Catholics have “caught the Anglican bug” and even increased its virulence, accepting both WO and SS—so perhaps I should have written “have caught the Anglican bug***y”) certain things in common about the nature of the Church, authority in the Church, a rejection of *sola scriptura*—all of which differentiate themselves from any and all kinds of Protestantism, both liberal and “traditional,” and from “historical” (i.e., Elizabethan and Evangelical) Anglicanism.

And, furthermore, you display a dishonesty or an intellectual ineptitude that I have come to discern is seldom absent from your writings, at least when discussing Catholic matters, when you alter what I wrote to suit your own purposes, and then think that you are “answering” me by reponding to your own fancies.  I wrote:

“an ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’ that would include WO in its ample folds is merely one of a multitude of Protestant denominational orthodoxies, with no more claim to be ‘Catholic’ in any historical sense than Adventist orthodoxy, Baptist orthodoxy, Lutheran orthodoxy or Socinian orthodoxy” 

while you changed it to:

“an ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’ that would include WO in its ample folds is merely one of a multitude of Protestant denominational orthodoxies, with no more claim to be [Roman] ‘Catholic’ in any historical sense than Adventist orthodoxy, Baptist orthodoxy, Lutheran orthodoxy or Socinian orthodoxy.”

Why did you insert “Roman?”  I was not writing about the orthodoxy that those who are in communion with the Pope of Rome are bound to embrace and share, but about those numerous common dogmatic beliefs about the Church and the nature of its authority that Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians and (probably) Polish National Catholics share (and which the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics once shared, before they were corrupted by their too close embrace of, first, Anglicanism, and then, inevitably, and as a result of the former, the Zeitgeist).

My argument was not, as your dishonest (or inept) handling of what I wrote, gave you the opportunuity to conclude, that “Anglicans are not Roman Catholic”—but rather that they are Catholic in no sense other than, or different from, the manner in which Baptists or Lutherans are “Catholic.”  They are “Catholic” in a different sense than those other churches are Catholic and share (to a considerable degree) a common “Catholicity” that Protestants and Anglicans (or at least the sort of Evangelical denominational Anglicanism for which you and Dr. Witt speak) do not.

Or, to put it differently again, if Anglicans (or Baptists or Lutherans) want to ascribe the term “Catholic” to themselves, it needs to be understood that it is being used synomymously with “Protestant” since it differs markedly from the meaning, sense and content which it had for the upwards of 1400 years since St. Ignatius of Antioch first employed the term.  Use it if you like—but in that sense you might just as well, and on as string grounds, filch the term “Jewish” from the Jews or “Deist” from the deists, and ascribe them to yourselves as well.

October 27, 12:31 pm | [comment link]
144. William Tighe wrote:

“They are ‘Catholic’ in a different sense than those other churches are Catholic ...”

Oops, I meant to write “in no different sense” above.

October 27, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
145. Words Matter wrote:

RE: 138 & 140 -

As an ex-Episcopalian and now Roman Catholic, I would of course be pleased to see all Christians in Communion with Peter. 

In the meantime, it would be nice to see the theological murder of Anglicanism cease. How far back that goes can be debated: is it same-sex issues? WO? the failure to respond to Bishop Pike? Divorce and remarraige? Perhaps the 1930s change regarding contraception.  Maybe it goes back to the 1530s, when the English folk renounced their relationship with the pope in favor of a secular ruler (now that one really is Catholic polemicism). 

Perhaps, Dr. Witt and Sarah, you should consider that Catholics come here not to convert you to the Catholic Faith, but to point out how and why your religion is dying.  Perhaps we comment from authentic charity, if not always with Episcopalian niceness.

October 27, 12:57 pm | [comment link]
146. Chris Jones wrote:

Following on from Prof Say:

I was a cradle Episcopalian but am an Anglican no longer.  But I am not and never have been a Roman Catholic, nor have I any wish for those who are still Episcopalian to become Roman Catholics, nor have I urged any such to join my own Church body.  (I will note that I believe that Episcopalians who think of themselves as orthodox remain in communion with manifest and unrepentant heretics, and that to break communion with them is an urgent spiritual imperative.  Or, as Fr Kimel put it much more succinctly:  Fly, you fools!)

I carry no brief for Cdl Newman and I reject his theory of development; and Dr Liccione and I have gone hammer-and-tongs over “private judgment” on more than one occasion.  But none of that is essential to Fr Newman’s original point.  To complain of “Roman Catholic polemics” does nothing to refute what Fr Newman said.

October 27, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
147. William Witt wrote:

Perhaps, Dr. Witt and Sarah, you should consider that Catholics come here not to convert you to the Catholic Faith, but to point out how and why your religion is dying.  Perhaps we comment from authentic charity, if not always with Episcopalian niceness.

I am bemused when people try to point out to people like me and Sarah the problems in the Episcopal Church, as if this were some new revelation to which we were oblivious up until now.  I have been fighting the battle for fifteen years now, and was one of the authors of an article about the errors of Bishop Spong’s theology in a book published over ten years ago.  Sarah’s voluminous reflections on these matters can be found in the archives at Stand Firm.

The Episcopal Church is a small American sect, with about 700,000 ASA.  I would imagine that in terms of sheer numbers there are far more revisionist Catholics in the USA than there are Episcopalians.  The Anglican Communion, on the other hand, is the largest Reformation body, standing just under Orthodoxy in terms of total members.  It is not dying, and the vast majority of its members and bishops continue to fight for and maintain the historic faith.

To equate Anglicanism with the revisionist opinions of those who control the machinery of the Episcopal Church would be as fallacious as to equate Roman Catholicism with the eccentric opinions of certain Jesuits who control major American educational institutions and publishing houses.  Anglicanism is not dying.  TEC is in the beginning stages of rigor mortis.  As with all gangrenous bodies, it will be necessary to have it removed for the health of the organism.

October 27, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
148. The_Elves wrote:

A repeat reminder from the elves: We would very much encourage comments to deal with theological issues and not get into name calling about commenters.  Thanks.

October 27, 1:16 pm | [comment link]
149. Michael Liccione wrote:

This is part one of two in response to #135.

I’m delighted to see that WW has finally begun to address, if not exactly to engage, my argument. Unfortunately, we haven’t got far beyond that just yet.

The implicit assumption is that apart from such an authority any interaction with the objective text is reduced to mere human opinion.  The question then becomes which group of privileged knowers becomes the locus of authority, the infallible Platonic episteme of the magisterium or the uncertain doxa of the humble believer.

Once again, that mischaracterizes what’s being asserted and how it’s being argued for.

For one thing, even if I were making a mere assumption here, the assumption would not be that the Magisterium has episteme and the humble believer has only doxa. The claim is not that the Magisterium enjoys the authority of episteme, i.e. “knowledge,” as if it had the authority of those who know as distinct from those who merely believe (i.e., who have only doxa). Those who have and exercise the Magisterium do not, as individuals, enjoy a species of insight into divine revelation that is fundamentally different in principle from that of the humble believer. Many bishops, including many popes, are not professional theologians; some lay people are better theologians than most bishops; and many humble believers have greater faith in the Catholic sense of the word than many bishops and theologians. Rather, the claim of the Catholic Church is that the Magisterium, under certain conditions, is preserved by God from error when teaching about points comprised by the deposit of faith. Such authority is charismatic, not
epistemic. As a divine gift, it cannot be earned; it can only be acquired by office not study; and its scope is limited.

In WW’s formulation, there is another mischaracterization of what Newman et al., including yours truly, are asserting. We do not assert that “apart from such an authority any interaction with the objective text is reduced to mere human opinion.” I for one did not say “any” interaction with the text, precisely because it would have been foolish to say such a thing. When one reads a text, for example, one normally “knows” what text one is reading, along with a bunch of coordinate facts about the text. I’ll even concede arguendo that, in some cases, a reader can “know” what a given form of words in a text says, quite apart from an expert’s telling them what it says, when what the text says clearly embodies the intent of its human author. That is a philosophical question, and one’s answer depends in large measure on what one means by “knowledge.” But in the case of the Bible, none of that broaches the real issue.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the question in the case of the Bible is not what, in any given case, the human author intended to say, which is often an interesting question but never, in itself, decisive for any matter of faith. The question is what God is saying to his people through the text; and our claim is that it is that question which cannot be reliably answered, even for purposes of doxa, without an authoritative interpreter. Moreover, we have arguments for that claim. Newman adduced some; many have adduced others, including yours truly. But the arguments can’t even be assessed fairly if one of the key conclusions continues to be caricatured.

That’s why it’s relatively easy to defend my argument against WW’s rebuttal. Consider:

(1) The post-canonical church does not have the same degree of teaching authority as the pre-canonical church and cannot for the simple reason that the authority of the pre-canonical church has the authority of apostles who were eyewitnesses of the risen Lord. We are neither apostles nor eyewitnesses. To state that the post-canonical church has this same authority is always to subvert the authority of the canonical witnesses to contemporary subjective human opinion.  Whether that opinion is that of “private judgment” or of an ecclesial magisterium is irrelevant.

In the first place, there is a serious ambiguity in the statement that “the authority of the pre-canonical church was the authority of apostles.” Even if we assume arguendo that all the books in what we now call “the New Testament” were written while at least one of the Apostles was still alive, the process of distinguishing truly “apostolic” writings from others only purporting to be apostolic went on for quite some time after the Apostles had all died. The authority of the Church that formed the canon, therefore, was not identical in kind with the authority of eyewitnesses such as the Apostles. Until the fourth century, there wasn’t even any formal list of canonical books on which the Church as a whole was agreed. So, while there is a sense in which “the authority of the pre-canonical Church was the authority of the Apostles,” that is not so in a sense that would make its authority greater than that of the post-canonical Church. Hence the truth in question does not constitute a rebuttal of my argument.

By the same token, the quote from Cullman that WW uses to support (1) is inapt. The Catholic Church, and defenders of hers such as Newman, do not for a moment deny that the post-canonical Church is not “subordinate” to the apostlic tradition maintained by the pre-canonical Church and applied for the purpose of forming the canon. The Church does not claim the right to alter the canon, or even to revoke definitive formulations of the truths contained in the canon. On the Catholic understanding, the teaching authority of the
post-canonical is thus,from Dei Verbum §10:

Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. (7)

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission; and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

Accordingly, the teaching authority of the post-canonical Church, through the apostolic succession of the bishops, is not “above” Scripture and Tradition, which by means of that succession hand on to us what comes from the Apostles. Rather, said authority “serves” the word of God as conveyed through those sources. The teaching authority of the post-canonical Church is only over the interpretation of what is already established as apostolic and as
binding precisely in virtue of being apostolic. Hence the sort of sola scriptura claim WW offers as a conclusion from Cullmann—i.e. that “[The] apostolic norm [is] only what is written in these books”—simply does not follow from the premises offered.

[continued in my next comment]

October 27, 1:25 pm | [comment link]
150. Michael Liccione wrote:

This is part two of two in response to #135.

WW also writes:

The fundamental issue of certainty of divine revelation is whether God is in himself who he is in his revelation.  If we cannot be certain that the canonical Scriptures communicate to us who God truly is in himself then we can have no certainty that they can speak to us at all.  If the apostles were faithful witnesses of that which they have received, then the church needs no infallibility to hear them faithfully.  The question of application is not one of epistemology or ecclesial authority, but of obedience.

I’m afraid that argument is ambiguous in itself and, on one construal, irrelevant for the purpose at hand. It is ambiguous inasmuch as, on one ready construal, it puts WW in just as precarious a position as the liberal Protestants he dismisses. Here’s why.

Eastern and Western Christianity have long differed about the extent to which God is revealed to us in the deposit of faith. In the East, the tendency is to claim that God only reveals himself to us in his “energies” (energeiae), not as he is in his essence (ousia), or “in himself”; whereas in the West, the claim has generally been that God reveals himself to us in his very essence and thus in himself. In Karl Rahner’s formulation: “The economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity.” I for one find that assertion too extreme, but that is beside the point. The issue itself is very interesting and profound; but the differing answers to it generally arise from philosophical differences: metaphysical ones about being, essence, and so forth; and epistemological ones about how to interpret religious, especially mystical, experience. The matter is essentially one of theological opinion arising from such differences, such that both “Eastern” and “Western” views fall within the ambit of orthodoxy. If WW is claiming that the very possibility of being certain that there is such a thing as divine revelation depends on resolving the East-West difference in favor of the West, then he is presenting the entire faith of the Church as dependent on adopting one particular opinion over the other. Since that cannot be right, even on his own showing, I’m inclined to doubt that’s what he’s doing.

All WW seems likely to mean is that certainty about the content and truth of divine revelation requires that what is handed down to us through Scripture and Tradition tells us about God, not merely about what some people thought and said about God. If that’s all he means, I agree. But if that is the case, nothing pertinent to the debate between us follows. So construed, WW’s point is irrelevant.

His real punch line is this:

If the apostles were faithful witnesses of that which they have received, then the church needs no infallibility to hear them faithfully.The question of application is not one of epistemology or ecclesial authority, but of obedience.

I quite agree that the fundamental desideratum here is “obedience” to the apostolic witness. But I don’t at all see how that is supposed to be an argument for the claim that “the church needs no infallibility to hear them faithfully.” If the church is fallible through-and-through, then no claim about what being faithful to the apostolic witness consists in can be accounted binding on all believers, for any such claim would have to be accounted revisable in principle. For reasons I’ve given many times above, appealing to “Scripture alone” or “the plain meaning of Scripture” just won’t do.

It may well be that “canonical theists” do not adopt any particular “epistemology,” claiming instead that “the church in its canonical commitments eschewed this kind of luxury.” But the Catholic counter-claim is that what “canonical theists” such as WW dismiss as a luxury is actually a necessity. WW would do well to characterize the arguments for that more accurately than he has.

October 27, 1:32 pm | [comment link]
151. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Why did you insert “Roman?” I was not writing about the orthodoxy that those who are in communion with the Pope of Rome are bound to embrace and share, but about those numerous common dogmatic beliefs about the Church and the nature of its authority that Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians and (probably) Polish National Catholics share (and which the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics once shared, before they were corrupted by their too close embrace of, first, Anglicanism, and then, inevitably, and as a result of the former, the Zeitgeist).”

Why how wonderful, William Tighe!  So you believe that all of those above who, while not necessarily in the communion of Rome are “catholic”?

Then I suggest that the “catholics” [as defined, of course, by you], have a problem, since Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians and (probably) Polish National Catholics, and Union of Utrecht Old Catholics appear to have “a multitude of [catholic] denominational orthodoxies” and that “other ecclesial bodies falling with the ambit of [catholicism]. . . exhibit other substantial differences even among themselves.”  ; > )

Seriously [again], if you are embracing all of those entities as “catholic” then perhaps the reason why I inserted merely “Roman” is because I did not wish to insert the rest, judging that you would understand the end-point, which I stated, as repeated, in a slightly more expanded fashion, below:

“Anglicans are not Roman Catholic.  [Nor are they Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian and (probably) Polish National Catholics, nor even the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics.] Neither are Baptists.  Why that should come as a surprise to the Roman [or Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian and (probably) Polish National Catholics, or even the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics] I don’t know.  Roman Catholics [or Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian and (probably) Polish National Catholics, or even the Union of Utrecht Old Catholics], unsurprisingly, accept their church’s claims.  Protestants do not.”

You will understand, of course, in passing, that I have as much concern about your opinions regarding my dishonesty or intellectual ineptitude as I have about Katherine Jefferts Schori’s opinions.

October 27, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
152. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “So either the two oldest and largest apostolic communions are simply wrong, and have been wrong for 2,000 years, on a matter of critical importance to the Church’s sacramental economy . . . “

Well . . . Protestants certainly believe that they have been wrong before on matters “of critical importance to the Church’s sacramental economy.”

October 27, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
153. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “But none of that is essential to Fr Newman’s original point.  To complain of “Roman Catholic polemics” does nothing to refute what Fr Newman said.”

Right—Fr Newman’s original point was dealt with when it was pointed out that both his premises and conclusion had logical fallacies large enough to drive trucks through, and when WW pointed out that he apparently had no understanding of why evangelical Anglicans accept WO and that those reasons had precisely nothing to do with the rejection of SSBs, since the decisions about WO were not made with Roman Catholic theology but with evangelical Anglican theology. 

The rest of the thread has then proceeded to articulate and explore further those rather vast differences, leaving Newman’s original point far behind in the dust, where it belongs, as it is being well and thoroughly demonstrated here that evangelical Anglicans and Roman Catholics don’t begin at the same point, nor follow on the same trajectory, nor even end at the same place, theologically speaking.

October 27, 1:43 pm | [comment link]
154. Michael Liccione wrote:

For those who find this thread too long already, but are interested in the direction it’s taken, I’ve posted my two-part reply to WW in #149 and #150 at my own blog.

October 27, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
155. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Perhaps, Dr. Witt and Sarah, you should consider that Catholics come here not to convert you to the Catholic Faith, but to point out how and why your religion is dying.”

Hi Words Matter . . . . I’m actually fine with Roman Catholics or Methodists or Lutherans attempting to convert me to their particular church.  If I am ever bothered by their efforts I do exactly what polite people do to me if they are ever bothered by my efforts—smile and excuse myself from the conversation.

But frankly, many of us pretty much know why our “religion” [sic] is “dying” . . . if by “religion” you mean that institution called the Episcopal church in the USA . . . and I’m afraid that neither William Witt nor I believe that it is because we have not submitted to the see of Rome or are not properly “catholic” by the definitions of [insert Tighe list above] as is being argued so vociferously on this thread.

Of course, that a few sometimes attempt to disguise their convertive zeal in the form of these “explanations” is not particularly helpful.  Had Fr. Jay Scott Newman simply entered the thread and stated “Until all Anglicans submit to the see of Peter they cannot in any way claim that they are ‘faithful to Christian tradition’” we could have saved a whole lot of blog space here, not having to explain why his initial sally was so poorly stated.

Then we could have moved right on to the real issues and many—including me—would probably have moved on, since we don’t read Kendall’s blog in order to have people attempt to proselytize into the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Roman Catholic churches.

October 27, 2:08 pm | [comment link]
156. Betty See wrote:

It seems to me that we should read Scripture with the desire to understand it not to interpret it.

October 27, 7:17 pm | [comment link]
157. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

William Witt wrote:
And yet, some continue to make the incoherent claim, as, for example, Fr. Hart just above.

My comment requires a level of literacy beyond the lowest levels, without which everything is incoherent. W. Witt has not refuted what I said, but has tried to dismiss it. I recommend that he quits while only slightly behind.

Unlike others, I would never agree that the Bible is vague about WO. It is completely impossible to reconcile WO with the scripture except by false means that require mental gymnastics.

A repeat plea from the elves to make the tone of comments less provocative.

October 27, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
158. FrKimel wrote:

#156: Alas, Betty, there is no understanding written utterance without interpretation.

October 27, 8:22 pm | [comment link]
159. Fr. Robert Hart wrote:

I will refrain from provocative comments, but ask that others consider how impolite (and, in this case, unjustified) it is to use such words as “incoherent” when trying to register disagreement. Nothing I write is incoherent; irrefutable perhaps, ingenious, brilliant, erudite, or astonishingly clever (if I do say so myself), but not “incoherent.”

October 27, 9:31 pm | [comment link]
160. Betty See wrote:

Luke 24: 45-48
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

October 27, 10:07 pm | [comment link]
161. Michael Liccione wrote:

Betty:

A very apt quotation indeed. You will note that what Jesus got them to understand when he opened their understanding was that the writings of the Septuagint, i.e., “the scriptures,” were about something rather different from what the Sadducees, the scribes, and the Pharisees thought it was about. The scriptures were about him—a fact entirely opaque to most of those who, in first-century Judaism, were experts in the scriptures. That fact needed to be brought out by interpretation. It wasn’t clear to anybody just by reading the LXX. Understanding required interpretation.

The Sadducees were the “fundamentalists” of the day, insisting that only the Torah was the Word of God and that the Prophets and the Writings were what we would call “developments.” As a Catholic I’ve had to deal with that sort of attitude many times before—you know, in people who say that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith, and that things like Tradition and dogma are mere fallible human ideas. But the Sadduccees were hardly unique in another respect. Not even the Pharisees or most others in 1st-century Judaism seemed to understand the LXX as Jesus and the Apostles did. That is very evident in the New Testament. Although the Old Testament was indeed contained, materially, in the New, it seemed that expert Jewish knowledge of the Old was hardly sufficient to establish that. It took the person of Jesus and the apostolic kerygma to establish it, and we know what happened to them among the Jews. Even within the New Testament, you can see a very significant evolution of understanding on such questions as the status of Gentile converts and the timing of the Second Coming. While the canon of the NT itself was being formed, there was savage debate with the Marcionites and the Gnostics about what was to count as “Scripture.” Once the canon was set, there was savage debate about Christology and triadology, yielding new formulations that can’t simply be deduced from the old. And though the development of doctrine seems to have ceased in the East by the 14th century, it continues in the West. All of this is simple fact. And my point is that, in order to regulate DD, the Church needs a visible teaching authority of the same degree as the Apostles’.

Be careful what you quote from the Bible.

Best,
Mike

October 27, 10:39 pm | [comment link]
162. Betty See wrote:

Mike Liccoine,
Most Christians know what Jesus was referring to when he spoke of Scripture and that He came to fulfill Scripture.
I posted these words from the New Testament, in the hope that we will understand Jesus words and cherish the belief that we share as Christians.

October 27, 11:41 pm | [comment link]
163. Words Matter wrote:

Sarah,

Fine you may be with purported proslytizing, but that’s not what we are doing. At least I am not. Nor do I (nor the others to my reading) state that your problems derive from a failure to submit to Rome. Rather it’s the lack of any effective teaching authority that seems to be killing you. 

You and Dr. Witt seem resigned to the death of TEC (I find it sad myself, but the connection is pretty much nostalgic for me), and, at least for now, Anglicanism in other parts of the world is flourishing.  However, I see little hope for a “renewed Anglicanism” or realignment, if the fundamental flaws that have killed TEC are carried over into whatever new entity (entities?) emerge. Church History would support the notion that religious bodies splitting in these ways have a trajectory toward more and more fragmentation. Witness the continuing church movement of the past 30 years. Witness the Campbellite movement. Witness the Presbyterian and Lutheran traditions. Splitting begats splitting. If that works for you,  that’s ok with me.

I do, however, wish you folks well, but since you and Dr. Witt are dismissive of Catholic voices, I won’t waste any more of your time or mine. Sarah, you seem unable to read a simply blog comment clearly, without reading into the words of others what suits you. This is, of course, is not unlike the problem we Catholics claim that we all have with the scriptures. Our humanity is narcissistic in it’s fallenness and needs external checks. If you find that “proselytizing”, well… then you do.

October 28, 12:31 am | [comment link]
164. William Witt wrote:

I do, however, wish you folks well, but since you and Dr. Witt are dismissive of Catholic voices, I won’t waste any more of your time or mine.

I am not dismissive of Catholic voices.  I think it inappropriate for Catholics to use Episcopal/Anglican blogs are opportunities to proselytize.  Or for people who make demonstrably false claims, as, for example, that because progressive Anglicans have used the same arguments for SSUs as they have for WO, that all who favor WO must use the same arguments.  This is not true, and a single counter example refutes the claim.

I am completely uninterested in entering into conversation with those who wish to revive Tridentine or nineteenth century Catholic polemical apologetics against Anglicanism or other Reformation bodies.  This is a dead horse.  For those who are interested in such discussions, the libraries of seminaries are moldering with the no longer read tomes of these conflicts.  As a scholar I prefer to devote my time to productive pursuits.

October 28, 7:30 am | [comment link]
165. Betty See wrote:

Mike Liccoine,
Although I expected my last post to be my final post on this thread, I do have to object to your specious statement about the Old Testament:
“Although the Old Testament was indeed contained, materially, in the New, it seemed that expert Jewish knowledge of the Old was hardly sufficient to establish that.”

Jesus, considered the Jewish Scripture sufficient and so do I.

Matthew chapter 5: verse 17
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

October 28, 9:20 am | [comment link]
166. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “since you and Dr. Witt are dismissive of Catholic voices . . . “

Not certain how one comes up with the word “dismissive” after a 166 comment thread.  Unless “dismissive” actually means “they do not agree with us, they have pointed out our “demonstrably false claims,”  and they state that they are not Roman [insert Tighe list here] Catholics.”

I have enjoyed the skirmish, and in particular reading William Witt.

October 28, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
167. Id rather not say wrote:

(Part one)
In #166, Sarah wrote

I have enjoyed the skirmish, and in particular reading William Witt.

William is both a nice guy and a very intelligent fellow, and I look forward to having dinner with him some day (maybe Charleston, Bill?).  However, he does not rate Sara’s praise in this case.  In #153, she wrote

Right—Fr Newman’s original point was dealt with when it was pointed out that both his premises and conclusion had logical fallacies large enough to drive trucks through, and when WW pointed out that he apparently had no understanding of why evangelical Anglicans accept WO and that those reasons had precisely nothing to do with the rejection of SSBs, since the decisions about WO were not made with Roman Catholic theology but with evangelical Anglican theology.

The rest of the thread has then proceeded to articulate and explore further those rather vast differences, leaving Newman’s original point far behind in the dust, where it belongs, as it is being well and thoroughly demonstrated here that evangelical Anglicans and Roman Catholics don’t begin at the same point, nor follow on the same trajectory, nor even end at the same place, theologically speaking.

I’m sorry, but this is a case of revisionist history, and I challenge anyone to go through this thread and see if it really conforms to Sarah’s imagination.  Instead, as Sarah smugly runs her imaginary victory lap, a reality check is in order here.

In #34, Sarah declared in response to the comments of Fr. Jay Scott Newman,

I appreciate conversation with Christians about many matters—whether Roman Catholic or Presbyterian or Baptist—but their assertions about how Anglicanism should conform with their own church’s theology are only very occasionally interesting.

Unfortunately, what Sarah failed to appreciate, either then or in the next 130+ comments, is not only how much Fr. Newman’s comments conformed to Anglican theology, but how little hers did.

For instance, in #53, Sarah (quoting Fr. Newman) writes

Of course. . . those evangelicals that support WO do not believe that they support it because “contemporary experience trumps tradition.”

Sorry, but yes they do, if “contemporary experience” means “how we read Scripture today as opposed to how they read it for the last 2000 years.”  In fact, if I understand Sarah correctly from her comments, tradition is not ultimately normative at all for her and for evangelicals who think likewise.

(Later in the same comment, she reveals her remarkable mind-reading powers again—I’ve run into this before on another blog, and on a similar subject.  She is apparently able to deduce the motives of anyone whose comments she deems unaacceptable, and those motives are always insidious.  If you don’t believe me, go back and read #53 again.  She herself is always innocent, of course; go read #67.)

Fr. Newman then elaborated his premises in #’s 38 and 40, which Will Witt attempted to refute in #39, but did not do so, offering instead a classic example of comparing apples with oranges. (This failure to actually grapple with what Fr. Newman wrote was later describe by Sarah as “hitting it out of the park.”  If so, it was into foul territory.)  I won’t recapitulate those comments; read them yourself if you choose.  However, Sarah later commented in #67 in reponse to this exchange that

No—you fell into a logical trap yourself by asserting an entirely unconnected and false “conclusion” from two premises, namely that if a church body has actually made an error [in the Roman Catholic opinion] it therefore cannot reject any more errors.

This, of course, is not what Fr. Newman said or did, a classic example of Sarah changing the terms of debate and then acting as if nothing was different.  What Fr. Newman actually said was that you cannot logically object to one error if you have made a previous error on the same basis.  It is of course quite possible to illogically object to one error while accepting another based on the same premise, and he may or may not be right as to whether the “ordination” of women was an error, but he fell into no trap.

Thus her statement in #69

Actually, both Protestants and Roman Catholics . . . as well as even other religions entirely . . . are able to form premises that connect logically with conclusions.  But in the case of the above example, regrettably, that did not occur.

is false, and she in fact condemns herself.

Now, let’s take a look at what was actually written by Fr. Newman.

Way back in #20, Fr. Newman wrote:

To put it most simply: if a woman can be a presbyter, there is no coherent argument left against two men marrying each other.

Then in #24 he elaborated:

. . . those [who] accept the ordination of women will never be able to offer a coherent reason why other departures from “biblically faithful, traditional Anglicanism” should be considered unacceptable by other Anglicans. And to repeat the example from above: Those who accept women priests cannot finally make a convincing argument against homosexual marriage or the ordination of gay bishops.

The problem is in the word “coherent” (which seems to have been tossed about in this thread a bit lightly).  If “coherent” means “parses in plain English and has at least a patina of logic stemming from a certain premise,” or even if it means “persuasive,” then Fr. Newman was clearly wrong, since many arguments can appear good but only show their flaws on closer inspection, and many people can be persuaded by bad arguments.  So if all that William Witt or Sarah are trying to say is, “an argument against same-sex blessings can be made that allows for ordaining women and has a prima facie plausibility,” then they are correct and Fr. Newman is wrong.

If on the other hand, “coherent” means “holds up on closer examination,” then I would maintain that Fr. Newman was correct.  I do not believe that those who accept women priests can make a convincing argument against homosexual marriage, either.  They can make arguments, surely.  But I’ve read them, considered them, prayed over them, observed their results, and I am not convinced.  Nor is the great majority of Christendom.

The further difficulty is demonstrating the link between the two.  Here the questions of truth, premises, and authority come in, which have been jumbled together in this thread, but which in fact need to be carefully distinguished.

Fr. Newman elaborated in #30

I realize that few Anglicans want to hear this, but to one standing outside of your internecine disputes (as I do), it is self-evident that those who accept the ordination of women (a practice rejected as unbiblical and untraditional by all Christians until three generations ago and still rejected as unbiblical and untraditional by 75 or 80% of all Christians) but who now invoke biblical authority and Christian tradition to reject homosexual behavior are simply in an indefensible position.

Note what Fr. Newman actually wrote: “biblical authority and Christian tradition.”  The two are, for him, inseparably linked.

It is this very link that has been at issue.  If accepted, then I would maintain that Fr. Newman’s position is indeed self-evidently correct.  He has not erred, and, pace Sarah, William Witt did not hit anything out of the park. 

In #84, William Witt brings out his “inherent intelligibility of Scripture” line.  Readers can judge for themselves whether this is a successful line of reasoning (I don’t think it is).  But then he displays his own logical fallacy.

The historic argument—that women cannot be ordained because they are inherently inferior to men and do not possess the mental capacity to exercise leadership—was the same argument that was used not only against women’s ordination but against any role of leadership or authority for women, e.g., teaching students.

This premise of the inherent inferiority of women has been rejected by all mainline churches, including the Roman Catholic . . .

It is specious, then, to claim that there is some kind of parallel between the cases of same-sex unions and women’s ordination.  Yes, both were rejected throughout the history of the church.  OTH, there is no parallel between the reasons for their rejection.  The reasons for the rejection of same-sex unions have not changed.  The reasons for the rejection of women’s ordination have necessarily changed—because no one now wants to touch the historic argument with a ten foot pole.

I have already shown how past claims of the inherent inferiority of women have no necessary bearing on the contemporary discussion of the subject in #s 134 and 136, so I won’t chase the red herring.  But it does not logically follow that, because the reasons for one have changed, the arguments for both do not parallel.  In fact, it is precisely because the reasons have changed that so many (though not all) of the arguments do parallel.  Just read the literature.

(to be continued)

October 28, 4:05 pm | [comment link]
168. Id rather not say wrote:

(Part two)

From there, it was off into the whole question of authority again, and the inherent intelligibility of Scripture vs. the need for a controlling authority.  I won’t recapitulate that entire exchange, but I will make a few points.

To repeat: for Fr. Newman, “biblical authority and Christian tradition” inseparably linked.  Some of the commenters on this thread, in particular my old sparring partner Michael Liccione, have put forward arguments for the necessity of some such infallible mediating authority.  This has unfortunately led to the characterization of this argument as one between Roman Catholics and evangelicals, but this is simply not so.  Some of these arguments can be characterized as specifically Roman Catholic; others as more generically “catholic,” such that I, an Anglican, can accept them.

In sum, William Witt maintains there is no necessary link, and he does so by cutting the link between apostolic and sub-apostolic authority and between Scripture and Church. This is, in fact, the only possible way to argue for one (WO) and against the other (SSBs).  Even given that premise, I do not believe you can make a very good argument, but you can construct one that will last a bit longer than the flavor in my gum.  (It also seems to me like a retreating army that blows up a bridge against an advancing enemy and then declares a strategic victory, but be that as it may.)

William Witt first attempted to support this disconnect by reference to the 39 Articles, specifically Articles 6 and 20 in # 126; but as I pointed out in # 134, that will not work.  He then invoked the work of Oscar Cullmann, the substance of which was refuted by William Tighe and Michael Liccione.  I would only add that, since appeal has been made to Anglican fomularies, it would help if we took a look at the Ordinal.

Much has been made of late of the declaration by the Common Cause Partners of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a standard of Anglicanism.  The preface to the Ordinal of that Prayer Book states (emphasis obviously mine):

It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors [cf Fr. Newman’s “biblical authority and Christian tradition” above], that from the Apostle’s time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.

Yes, I am familiar with the arguments concerning the details of the above quotation, but it would nevertheless appear that a) it is Fr. Newman, and not William Witt or Sarah, who is on firmer ground here as to what is specifically Anglican, and b) this hardly conforms to the image of the development of authority in Witt’s summary of Cullmann.

Most of the rest of this thread has been about the question of the need (or lack thereof) of a mediating authority when it comes to Scripture.  As I said above, some of those arguments have been specifically Roman Catholic, others more general.  It would be tedious to summarize all of that, so I leave to the reader to determine who has the upper hand thus far, but I know who I would pick as the winner at this point, and it isn’t William Witt, as nice and as bright a fellow as he is.

October 28, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
169. An Anxious Anglican wrote:

Comment edited by elf. Unnecessary ad hominem attack.

October 28, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
170. Betty See wrote:

Thank you Anxious Anglican, that needed to be said.

October 28, 8:12 pm | [comment link]
171. Id rather not say wrote:

Anxious Anglican, I direct your attention to #56 above.

As for his motives, Fr. Newman stated them, and I take him at his word.  I do not see why anyone would do otherwise.

I also fail to see why a blog which thrives on controversy cannot discuss a controversial topic, particularly one which, given recent events—the formation of the Common Cause Partnership and the recent statement of Bishop Iker at the FiF meeting in London, has become, if anything, even more pressing.

And hey, Sarah said she enjoyed it!

October 28, 9:09 pm | [comment link]
172. Words Matter wrote:

Prof. IRNS -

Your comments #167 and 168, not to mention 117 were very helpful. Thank you.

October 28, 11:52 pm | [comment link]
173. FrKimel wrote:

#164:  “I think it inappropriate for Catholics to use Episcopal/Anglican blogs are opportunities to proselytize.”

My things are getting testy.  And actually it has been a lively thread with some interesting arguments advanced on all sides.  But whenever someone levels the the charge of proselytism against another, one knows that person has reached his aggravation limit.  Personally, I think there should be a total ban on all allegations of proselytism.  The allegations are never true.  Re-read through this thread and you won’t find any serious proselytization going on.  The charge of proselytism is really just a variety of ad hominem.  I’m disappointed it was invoked.

This is an Anglican blog.  But it is also a blog that is frequented, and has always been frequented, by Christians of various denominational stripes, many of whom are former Anglicans.  And their presence has enriched the discussion and debates of T19. 

Fr Newman has done everyone a favor here by so vigorously pushing his argument that a Church that decides it has the freedom to alter the apostolic constitution of the Church is no longer in a position to effectively resist the demand to revise traditional sexual morality.  Dr Witt and others have presented some interesting arguments in rebuttal.  I’ll leave it to others to judge who offered the superior arguments, though I personally tend to side with IRNS’s assessment.  I should note, though, that most of the allegedly “Catholic” arguments found in this thread are in fact arguments that any traditional Anglo-Catholic would advance and has advanced against his evangelical Anglican friends. 

Folks, instead of getting upset when non-Anglicans “invade” your blog space, welcome them and vigorously engage them.  Stop telling them they have committed some terrible crime in daring to present their Catholic or Orthodox arguments in an Anglican forum.  Stop telling them that they lost the privilege of commenting on Anglican blogs when they left the Anglican Communion.  It may annoy you when we ex-Episcopalians show up.  Deal with it.  Without us, T19 would become boring and intellectually vacuous very fast.  At the very least we help you to remember why you are Anglican. 

Lots of Anglicans are wrestling with the questions being raise in this thread.  Lots are wrestling with whether to leave Anglicanism and become Catholic, Orthodox, Continuing Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, or whatever. You can’t stop these people thinking about all of this.  The crisis is already upon them.  And what some of them want to know is whether folks like Dr William Witt have solid responses to the arguments of Fr Newman and Dr Liccione.  To withdraw from the debate in a spirit of peevishness is unhelpful.

October 29, 12:55 am | [comment link]
174. Betty See wrote:

Since the subject of this thread has been changed to a discussion of Catholic (with a capital C) theology, it would be interesting to know how the Roman Catholic Church reconciles the doctrine of original sin with the Infallibility of the Pope when speaking in Cathedra.
Also it would be interesting to be informed about the Roman Catholic Church’s theory of Purgatory.

October 29, 1:16 am | [comment link]
175. William Tighe wrote:

“it would be interesting to know how the Roman Catholic Church reconciles the doctrine of original sin with the Infallibility of the Pope when speaking in Cathedra.”

I can’t even begin to understand your question (or issue).  Are you confusing “papal infallibility” with “papal impeccability?”

“Also it would be interesting to be informed about the Roman Catholic Church’s theory of Purgatory.”

You might read the relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to begin with, and then there is lots of literature on the subject.

October 29, 8:18 am | [comment link]
176. Br. Michael wrote:

I must admit my disappointment and not a little surprise to see the willingness of the opponents of WO to cast Scripture aside.  Fr. Kimmel admits that Scripture is not clear on this matter, and then imposed tradition on top of that ambiguity while Fr. Hart finds no ambiguity at all.  I find their disagreement on whether Scripture is ambiguous or not, to be interesting.  I also find it fascinating to see that neither of them attempted to wrestle with the text.

Indeed it has been said that where Scripture is unclear we become the most dogmatic.

The Church is under Jesus headship, yet Jesus did not, at least not in Scripture, which for us Protestants is supposed to be the supreme authority, set out the “Constitution and Canons” as well as every jot and tittle for the ordering of His Church.  If it’s there in Scripture please show it to me.

What we do have is bits and pieces that give us parts of a picture.  We have Jesus’ radical elevation of women far above their station in Jewish culture; we have the original 12 who were all apostles; we have Paul praising women and calling them his fellow workers; we have Paul’s letters to Timothy, yet we do not have the totality of the problem he was addressing and so we do not know he was addressing a local problem or guidance for the whole of the Church for all time; we have Paul’s comments about Junia, which deserves serious study and not cavalier dismissal.  And we need to fit all these parts together so as not to elevate one part of Scripture above another.  I should hope that all here would want to do God’s will and not cling to tradition for tradition’s sake.

And the early Celtic Churches position on women in leadership positions has been totally ignored.

Yet if all are so convinced that they are right and the others wrong, then fine.  If, over this issue, you do not desire to be in communion with me I can live with that.  If the differing sections of Common Cause cannot live with each other on this issue that is fine.  As far as the Roman Catholics and Orthodox are concerned, I respect their position on this issue even if they do not respect mine, but then they don’t recognize the validity of Anglican orders anyway and that is fine too.

October 29, 8:22 am | [comment link]
177. Id rather not say wrote:

Br Michael, I must get to work, so only a quick comment or two:

I do not think that anyone has “cavalierly” rejected the “apostle” Junia.  As I said, I am quite familiar with the question, just not with the particular literature you mention.

Furthermore, the question behind your comment is not about leadership or the elevation of the status of women, whether in the New Testament or Ireland; on there I think there is actually substantial agreement.  The issue, at least for some, is apostolic authority and apostolic ministry.  Does it have a character such that, given biblical anthropology, a woman is inappropriate for such a role?

However, that was not the point of the discussion above, or at least so I thought.  Rather, the point at issue was the authority of the church, whether local, national, or ecumenical, to make such a change.  Fr Newman’s argument was, if your basis of authority in the Church is Scripture and Tradition, then if TEC has the authority to change one (WO), you can have no logical objection to accepting the other.

As for “tradition for tradition’s sake,” I humbly submit the following for your consideration:

http://rathernot.classicalanglican.net/?p=30

if you like, we can argue over biblical texts some day, but right now I have classes to teach.

October 29, 8:48 am | [comment link]
178. FrKimel wrote:

Re 176:  Br Michael, I’m afraid I must decline your invitation to debate the biblical specifics on women’s ordination.  There are others who contribute to this blog who have far more knowledgeable on Scripture than I.  What I personally find interesting is how the issue illumines the differences between the Christian confessions in understanding the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and Church. 

How is it that sixty years ago evangelical and catholic Anglicans alike were convinced that the plain meaning of Scripture precluded the ordination of women to the priesthood, yet now they are convinced that it permits, perhaps even demands, the innovation?  What has changed?  Did the Holy Spirit speak a new word?  Have there been new exegetical discoveries compelling a new reading of Scripture?  Or is it possible parts of the Church have been captured by that zeitgeist of which Fr Newman speaks above?

Though my words in my previous comments may suggest that I add Tradition on top of Scripture, that is not how I would formulate the matter.  IRNS above has referred to the fine article he wrote a couple of years ago on Tradition and I commend this to you.  Pope Benedict has also addressed Tradition in his catecheses: “Communion in Time and “The Apostolic Tradition of the Church.”  I am particularly fond of the treatment of Holy Tradition by Orthodox scholars like Vladimir Lossky and Georges Florovsky.  What you find in Benedict, Lossky, and Florovsky is an understanding of the coinherence and mutual indwelling of Scripture, Tradition, and Church, which is why Catholics and Orthodox believe that Scripture is clear on the question of the ordination of women, even though neutral scholarly exegesis may not be able to establish this.  Neither Catholics nor Orthodox would accept Oscar Cullmann’s interpretation of canon, as stated above by Dr Witt.  The apostolic deposit of faith is not just external to us, preserved in the form of text.  The deposit of faith lives in the Church in and by the Holy Spirit, and it is this Spirit who guides the Church into the meaning of God’s Word written.  The Church knows the faith once delivered to the saints, and in Scripture she discovers and re-discovers that faith she already knows.  If this is not true, if Catholicism and Orthodoxy are wrong about this, then I suggest that there is no hope that the plain meaning of Scripture can ever be truly known, much less defended against the powers of modernity.

October 29, 10:11 am | [comment link]
179. Words Matter wrote:

Leaving the finer theological arguments to my theological betters, I must point out two features of Br. Michael’s comment:

1.)  Jesus doesn’t mention women’s ordination: does that sound a bit familiar?  If you wished to connect the political aspects of WO and Same-sex , you couldn’t have done it better.

2.)  “if over this issue, you do not desire to be in communion with me I can live with that” - one should assume a variety of issues separate you from the Catholic and Orthodox churches, but this one issue seems to hold for you some kind of key to Truth. Forgive me if I am interpreting your meaning, but, again, I am put in mind of the homosexualists, for whom that one little thing is the deal breaker or maker.

3.) “we have the original 12 who were all apostles”  - none of whom were men. This is, btw, a pretty key element in the anti-WO argument.

4.) “we have Paul’s letters to Timothy” - was this your response to my request that you “engage the text” of I. Tim 2.12? If so, are you claiming that Paul’s rather general statement that “I do not allow…”  was intended for a specific place? I don’t see anything in the text to support that. If you wish to make the argument that the prohibition on women in authority was culturally conditioned, then, again, you are in territory firmly held by the homosexualists, and, again, you are proving Fr. Newman’s original point.

5.) The rest of your biblical references are pure isogesis. One can easily see St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Teresa of Avila (both “Doctors of the Church”) as powerful and influential women (“co-workers”, if you will) within the life of the Church without coming near the issue of priestly ordination.

BTW, looking for some references to the “inferiority of women” as a rationale for not ordaining women, I found a pro-WO website (British, I think) with a helpful collection of documents. The specific page won’t load, but the site is http://www.womenpriests.org  They make the claim that a purported inferiority of women was the rationale, but the documents I looked at (and I didn’t review them all) did not support that claim.

October 29, 11:44 am | [comment link]
180. Br. Michael wrote:

Words, I was trying to give citations that could be cited for either side.  To me they show ambiguity.  Thus the fact that the 12 were men supports your argument.  The fact that Jesus taught Mary in violation of all Rabinical custom doesn’t count for much I guess.  I guess some where in the fine print Jesus says, “Oh by the way I want all my Bishops, priests and deacons to all be men.” l must have missed that clear direction so I will go back and look.

And Fr. Kimmel, you are Catholic.  I expect you to be obedient to Catholic Doctirne and I expect you to elevate that doctrine over Scripture where required.

October 29, 12:26 pm | [comment link]
181. Br. Michael wrote:

Oh and Paul wrote in, “Romans 16:3   3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”  But I guess this only refers to Aquila.  No way Priscilla could be a fellow worker.  Certainly not as ordained person, which clearly existed at the time of Paul, as it exists today.

October 29, 12:36 pm | [comment link]
182. Betty See wrote:

William Tighe,
I admit my ignorance of the terminology the Catholic Church (which is located in the Vatican) uses when referring to Papal Infallibility or Impeccability, nor am I informed about their beliefs with regard to Purgatory or their practices of allowing dispensations, but I do want to be informed. The doctrine Original Sin, (found in the Bible) is a belief that all Christians (including Protestants and Catholics) share and I find it hard to reconcile that belief with the idea that any fallible human being (including the Pope) could be without error, especially when pronouncing anything contrary to Scripture.

I admit I only know the Protestant side of the story but since (Vatican?) Catholics are so quick to condemn those in the Anglican Church who are trying to correct the errors in their own church and urge them to leave without trying to overcome the problems in our own Church I think they should inform us before we, as they say we should: “flee to Rome“.


I will be listening without comment and this will be my last post on this thread.

October 29, 1:02 pm | [comment link]
183. Ross wrote:

Betty, I’m not Catholic, and I’m not certain I understand all the nuances of the Catholic position on Papal Infallibility; but I’ll take a swing at it anyway, in case the real Catholic theologians have moved on to other threads.

I think the Catholic Church does not assert that the Pope is “Infallible” because of any particular quality he has that makes him immune to ordinary human failings and sin.  The Pope is just as likely as any other person to spend twenty minutes looking for his glasses before realizing he’s wearing them, or to speak rudely to someone when he’s having a bad day.  Of course one hopes for a Pope who is—as human beings go—a good and wise man; but all human beings fail from time to time, and Lord knows there have been Popes in history that were pretty outstanding in that regard.

What the Catholics do assert—as I understand it—is that when the Pope speaks in particular, narrowly-defined circumstances, and when what he’s talking about is a matter of doctrine, then the Holy Spirit will prevent him from making an error.  Not for the sake of the man himself, but for the sake of the Church and the millions of souls who depend on the Church for salvation.

Imagine that you’re a parent and you’re supervising one of your kids in the kitchen as he tries to make a recipe “all by himself.”  You might let him forget the sugar and put in double the amount of salt—that’s how he’ll learn to do it better next time—and you might let him spill flour on the floor—after all, he’s going to clean it up—but if he starts to grab a hot pan without using a potholder you’re going to jump in and stop him.

In the Catholic view, since the Church is the authority on teaching what is necessary for salvation, they know that God won’t let them get it fundamentally wrong.  Not because the Church is particularly great at figuring out what’s right, but because the consequences of getting it wrong are too serious for God to let it happen.

October 29, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
184. Words Matter wrote:

Br. Michael -

Listen to yourself:

To me they show ambiguity.

then

to elevate that doctrine over Scripture

So are the scriptures ambiguous, or is it clear, so that Catholics and Orthodox are placing our doctrine above the scriptures?  You even seem to be stating that being ordained has a meaning which has developed,  as though that somehow includes Aquila and Priscilla in some sort of ordained status.  Do you understand, or, understanding, reject, the specific, sacramental nature of the priesthood as taught by the historic Church, including Anglicanism until 30 years ago.

Again, Br. Michael, Jesus didn’t say anything about ordination by gender, just as he said nothing about same-sex relationships. However, he did give us the example of choosing men only as apostles. Plenty of women were among the disciples, but they were not chosen for that particular ministry.

Ross, I think you got it right.  The question always goes back to whether God protects his Church from error in essential matters. If He does, how does He do so? If He doesn’t, what assurance do we have of any Christian doctrine? That second question has been worked over pretty thoroughly in this thread, but you know, it goes back to the claim that the problem in the Anglican Communion isn’t “scriptural authority”, but “scriptural interpretation”.  Who affirms or rejects any given “interpretation”?

October 29, 6:06 pm | [comment link]
185. Br. Michael wrote:

Words, please show me where in Scripture Jesus or the Apostles set out our modern understanding of the ordained ministry?  I do not mean to be talking past you, but I think we are.  You assume a male only priesthood.  I am not sure that the Scriptures support that assumption.

Likewise are you willing to sign on the the assumption of Mary and Her Crowning as Queen of Heaven?

October 29, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
186. Words Matter wrote:

Br. Michael - you wrote:

please show me where in Scripture Jesus or the Apostles set out our modern understanding of the ordained ministry

I take it you are rejecting the sacramental nature of Holy Orders? If so, then we really are talking past each other.  However, to directly answer your question, I would point to John 15 and the Pastoral Epistles (the Timothys and Titus).  In a sense, diverting the discussion to the nature of ordination is legitimate; as I pointed out above, there does seem to be a relationship between whether one has a sacramental, or ministerial view of the priesthood and one’s view of women’s ordination.  OTOH, I am hardly well-equipped to do so, as my vacation is over and it’s back to work for me; perhaps one of the real theologians could do so.

I do have to say that it’s not very helpful to say that I “assume a male priesthood”.  I hope you really believe that claptrap about Catholics checking their minds at the door, but, in fact, the essential doctrines around Holy Orders I learned in the Episcopal Church, and not in a “High Church” setting, for that matter.  I was Episcopalian from 1971 to 1987, mostly in the Diocese of Texas,  during which the women’s ordination issue were most acute;  I rejected the innovation then on scriptural grounds.  I “assumed” nothing and had never considered, much less researched the Catholic Church at that time.  Over the years,  I gradually came around to the Episcopalian point of view, and when I became Catholic,  I rather put it all on the shelf, eventually peddling back to a generally negative viewpoint, based on Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and as much for the arguments as for the authority of the author.  So you see that it’s not just a reflective genuflection to the papal throne with me.  At this point, I haven’t seen anything you’ve presented that overrides, or even poses a serious challenge to my viewpoint.  Not to mention that you still haven’t engaged Paul’s clear word about women in authority in I Tim. 2.12.  If you wish to say that was culturally determined, then fine.  But don’t come at me talking about how you hold to the scriptures, because it’s quite clear that you are practicing nothing remotely like to sola scriptura. Not even close.

In fact, the more I look, the clearer it is that ordaining women is contrary to scripture;  certainly, there is nothing in the scripture that warrants it.  Even at that, if the biblical witness is, as you say, ambiguous, then what justifies overturning the uniform, or at least overwhelming, witness from tradition?  We can also make arguments from reason, but that’s another whole discussion.  Please note that these are specifically Anglican categories I am using and which women’s ordination contradicts. 

The Marian doctrines are not relevant to this discussion.  Interesting, though: I didn’t find anything about the Queenship of Mary in the Catechism, but I did find this rather lovely passage from an encyclical of Pius XII on the subject:

But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation. “What more joyful, what sweeter thought can we have”—as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI wrote—“than that Christ is our King not only by natural right, but also by an acquired right: that which He won by the redemption? Would that all men, now forgetful of how much we cost Our Savior, might recall to mind the words, ‘You were redeemed, not with gold or silver which perishes, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb spotless and undefiled. We belong not to ourselves now, since Christ has bought us ‘at a great price’.”

As Canon Harmon might say: Read it all

October 29, 11:55 pm | [comment link]
187. Alice Linsley wrote:

Women priests is an innovation that changed Anglicanism forever. It broke the back of catholic orders, opening the way for ordination or non-celibate homosexuals and any other type or condition of humanity that those in power deem worthy and for what ever reason they choose.

Ordaining women to the priesthood shows how the essential nature of the priesthood isn’t understood by Anglicans.  Anthropologically speaking, the priesthood, an extraordinarily ancient office, is connected to blood sacrifice and sacred law.  Both have pertained to males from the dawn of time.  In order to understand why this is so, you need to understand the power of blood and sacred law and the dangers to those who are appointed to handle them.  Women were not to handle them, because women were the carriers of new life, which ws to be guarded from all potential dangers.  To people in the ancient world and to the Apostles, the image of a pregnant woman elevating a chalice of consecrated wine would be an abomination.  Now if you are a Protestant, there is no blood involved ans therfore no danger.  But if there is no blood involved, then we cannot call the one presiding a “priest”.  Anglicans need to decide if they are catholic or Protestant.

October 31, 10:23 pm | [comment link]
188. rob k wrote:

No. 90 - Sarah - Please excuse my “tin ear” in not apprehending that your statement about WO was part of the structure of your argument against Fr. Newman.  But I had, mistakenly I guess, gathered from some of your other posts here and there, that you are in favor of WO.

November 3, 7:35 am | [comment link]
189. rob k wrote:

No. 100 - VP - I think that what that Article states would be unexceptional in the RC understanding of the place of scripture in the Church.

November 3, 7:38 am | [comment link]
190. rob k wrote:

No. 112 - Chris - Isn’t the main reason that the LCMS rejects WO the very Protestant reliance on the headship principle found in St. Paul’s epistles , which, as I understand, does not have much cachet in Catholic reasons for rejection of WO?

November 3, 7:43 am | [comment link]
191. Chris Jones wrote:

Rob,

To tell you the truth, I am not all that familiar with the specific reasons that the LCMS as a Church body rejects the ordination of women.  My own views on this issue (and the reasoning behind them) were well-formed long before I joined an LCMS congregation, and I have had no reason (until now) to look into the specific reasoning by which the LCMS reached its conclusions.  It is enough for me that the Synod’s position is the correct one; if they have reached that position by a different route than I have done, that does not bother me.

A quick perusal of the Synod web site shows a report from a Synod commission that relies on 1 Co 14.34 (the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says) and 1 Tim 2.12 (I permit no woman to teach or have authority over man) as the basis for rejecting WO (see here, page 10).  That is, I suppose, what you mean by “reliance on the headship principle.”  But I do not think that there is anything distinctively Protestant about that.  Just because the more “Catholic-minded” have other arguments and are willing to rely on Tradition rather than Scripture alone for their understanding of the nature of the priesthood does not mean that we reject the principle of male headship, which is not only eminently Scriptural but is also confirmed by the Church’s Tradition.

Thus I think you are mistaken if you think that the argument from male headship has little “cachet” among Catholics.  Some, perhaps, may hesitate to use that argument for fear of offending the sensibilities of the politically correct; but those who are thus squeamish are already conceding that the fads and fancies of this age may properly constrain our communication of the faith.  That way lies madness.

November 3, 1:47 pm | [comment link]
192. rob k wrote:

Chris, thanks for your usual thoughtful answer.  May I just add that the justification for the RC (and Anglo-Catholic) side for opposition to WO has been more on two lines, the fact that there never has been women clergy, and the iconic relationship of the priest to the person of Christ, and this from the most conservative of sources.  I may be mistaken, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the headship principle advanced by Catholics of any stripe.  This is just one person’s observation, though.  I might add, however, that many RC priests, as well as lay people, think that women should be ordained.  A priest told me two weeks ago, verbatim - “I’d ordain them tomorrow.”  Regards to you.

November 4, 1:14 am | [comment link]
193. Id rather not say wrote:

Checking in on this thread after a long absence . . . I’m surprised to see it still going.

As regards “headship,” this is in fact a very “catholic” argument; but “headship” is conceived by catholics in rather different terms than evangelicals, I believe.  However, no less a catholic than the leader of FiFUK, Fr. Geoffrey Kirk, has described the biblical view of relations between the sexes as one of “benevolent patriarchy.”

Where catholic and evangelical meet is in seeing the second chapter of Genesis as key to determining questions of sexuality and authority; where they differ is in their relating this to the person of Christ (with Mary as the ‘new Eve’) and to the Apostolic ministry He founded, a ministry not only expressive of talent or “gifts” but also of something more fundamental in the economy of salvation (see Romans 5).

But I swear this is my last posting here!  This conversation needs to be carried on somewhere else . . . and I’m sure it will be!

November 4, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
194. Fr Jeffrey wrote:

I am very happy to host this discussion over at de cura animarum and I have entered a place for it to continue if anyone is interested.

November 4, 7:59 pm | [comment link]
195. rob k wrote:

IRNS - Thanks for your post.  Informative as usual.

November 5, 5:38 am | [comment link]
196. rob k wrote:

Fr. Jeffrey - I can read de cura animarum, but can’t get in to offer comments.  Would like to sometime.

November 5, 5:42 am | [comment link]
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