Carolyn J Sharp Responds to the Proposed Anglican Draft Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The genius of Anglicanism is its gracious comprehensiveness in allowing for pluriform, contextually responsive theologies and hermeneutics throughout the global Church. Our heritage and our Christian witness are enriched by the presence of evangelicals, conservatives, moderates, and progressives in our midst, engaging in spirited dialogue that respects the culture and insights of each believer and each local church. The Baptismal Covenant, the Creeds, and the Eucharistic liturgies we use have all been developed with extraordinary care over the centuries and are sufficient as the “fundamentals” that bind us together officially. To suggest that we need another covenantal authority beyond those is not only to innovate in an undesirable way regarding the central characteristic of Anglicanism. It is also to dishonor, however unwittingly, those ancient and great instruments of unity.

Historical precedents in adiaphora—such as the Church’s positions on various social questions and liturgical options over the centuries—should be mulled with respect, but they should never be bowed to as if they were idols. The truth of this claim should be transparently obvious just on the face of it, but I would add a particular reason in light of our current debates: the voices of women, the poor, and openly gay persons have been suppressed in the councils and other judicatory bodies of the Church since its inception. I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has “always” done something or “always” said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter. It is abundantly clear that the Church has made disastrous missteps in its history—the Crusades, colonialism, and chattel slavery are only three examples out of many that could be cited. Creating a covenant that enshrines any historical status quo as such would be a dangerous and harmful move in our polity.

It is politically naïve and theologically suspect to suggest, as some have, that having an Anglican Covenant will keep us in conversation on divisive issues. Our commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ should already keep us in loving and patient conversation on every issue of importance to the Church and the world. Those for whom our unity in Christ is not sufficient reason to remain in dialogue will not be one iota more inclined to listen to Christians with whom they disagree if we establish a new and weak political instrument.

It has also been suggested that a Covenant could serve a spiritual-formation purpose as a rule of discipline that fosters virtue in the life of the Church. To propose that a juridical instrument could serve that purpose effectively is to gravely misunderstand what polity is for and how spiritual formation in community may be nurtured. In my view, that suggestion also subtly denigrates the rich traditions of spiritual formation on which Anglicans already draw.

The concern of some that global mission and relief work will be fatally compromised if we do not have a Covenant is understandable, but in that case, the terms of the issue are being illogically framed. Service delivery systems are already in place within the Anglican Communion and outside of it. Those who are committed to relief of the poor and to mission work will continue to minister in those arenas, and where collaborative relationships have (already) broken down, new relationships with other partners can be forged. The problem should be understood for what it is: the unconscionable refusal of some Global South primates to accept resources from provinces that do not hew to their own particular patriarchal, misogynistic, and homophobic views. If relief work suffers in the short term—which will be a tragedy—it will be because of the intransigence of those primates, not because of the absence of an Anglican Covenant or the failure of the Episcopal Church to yield to pressure on one or another matter of our local polity.

There can be no question that the proposed Covenant will be used in pragmatic terms to derail local autonomy, threatening discipline or exclusion of those whose Christian witness does not conform to androcentric and heteronormative values (which are by no means as obviously “scriptural” as their adherents claim). The causes of our current divisions are many and complex. As all agree, a fundamental disjuncture has to do with divergent ways of conceiving Scriptural authority in different cultural contexts. The uneven deployment of economic resources globally and reactions against Christian and secular Western colonialism are also in play here. I see little reason to expect that the innovation of a potentially punitive instrument of extra-provincial polity will help us to address these challenges more effectively. To the contrary, such a Covenant would likely only exacerbate the bitter struggles for power that we are currently experiencing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantEpiscopal Church (TEC)

42 Comments
Posted June 12, 2007 at 4:05 pm

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1. Phil wrote:

I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has “always” done something or “always” said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter. It is abundantly clear that the Church has made disastrous missteps in its history—the Crusades, colonialism, and chattel slavery are only three examples out of many that could be cited.

Three bad examples: the Church didn’t “always” conduct Crusades, “always” practice colonialism, or “always” advocate slavery (if it ever did the latter).  So, her second sentence above has nothing to do with the first.

June 12, 4:12 pm | [comment link]
2. Larry Morse wrote:

Her opening sentence is tells us what the rest of the essay will be like. The jargon, the polysyllabic pomposity, the immediate descent into the esoteric, is a textbook example on bad expository prose. In short, her aim is not clarity in style, tone, or exposition.

It is no surprise therefore to discover the rest of the essay does not really deserve our attention. I would not be suprised either to discover she had a doctorate, for the opening sentence is standard doctorate posturing. Such a failure to observe any of the standard compositional practices has become commonplace in this debate, if debate it can be called. We need clarity, organization, and careful argument. We get pursuasion, and all the tactics appropriate to this practice.  LM

June 12, 4:47 pm | [comment link]
3. Larry Morse wrote:

Ok, I surrender. Does anyone know wht prooftexting is? Here’s a academic barbarism! What can it mean?

I have gotten so that when I run across “hermeneutic” in every form and frequency, and the evils of the church in the Crusades, I tend to shut down all systems. I see that she IS a PH.D; and does this essay have doctoral pedantry all over it, like web-worm caterpillers in an apple tree? And as the snarl words pile up - androcentric and heteronormative, patriachal, hegemonic, and homophobic - we get again the certain sense that TEC is dying, for the snarl words contradict her opening proposition about gracious, comprehensive and pluriform Anglicanism. We have noted this contradiction here often, and yet, the TECnophiles seem unable to see the problem. It is precisely this incomprehension that makes me so certain that we are listening to the death rattle.

June 12, 5:12 pm | [comment link]
4. GoSane wrote:

Larry Morse:  If you are unwilling or unable to understand something, one way to show it is by criticizing the form and not the content, which is what I believe you have done in response to Prof. Sharp’s essay.  It’s obviously not written for dummies; however, she advances an argument that’s worth engaging and, if you are able, dissecting and arguing about in response.  Simply ranting about her rather extensive vocabulary and academic credentials doesn’t reveal much critical thinking on your part.  BTW, if you are going to criticize someone’s expository style, maybe you should do a little proofreading of your own responses.  But what do I know?  I’m just one of those high-falootin’ Ph.D.‘s!  grin

June 12, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
5. Dave B wrote:

“I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has “always” done something or “always” said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter.” So if the Anglican communion has “ALWAYS” had autonomy and unique polity among it’s constituant provinces mean it is wrong?  Can she have it both ways?

June 12, 6:15 pm | [comment link]
6. taz wrote:

She misses the point.  As ususal she goes off assuming that those with whom she disagrees are misogynists or homophobes and that those misguided attitudes define the dispute.  They are so convinced of the correctness of their views on sexuality that they cannot conceive of anyone intelligently and honestly disagreeing with them. 
  The real problem is that we no longer trust that the reappraisers accept the creeds as true; accept the concept of baptism (much less the the baptismal covenant); or accept the meaning of the Eucharist.  Hence the need for a covenant to once again establish the ground rules, the parameters, within which a debate about other matters can take place.

June 12, 6:47 pm | [comment link]
7. taz wrote:

I apologize.  I see that I slipped from the pronoun “she” referring to professor Sharp and slid into “they” referring to rappraisers generally.  I meant that her arguments echoed positions common to those voiced by others who support the TEC position.

June 12, 6:56 pm | [comment link]
8. BillS wrote:

I do not have a PhD, but I do have an MBA, and can read and translate articles written in academic jargon.

Sharp is against the covenant because it will not allow her to do what she wants. That’s all there is to it.

Best

Bill

June 12, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
9. Br. Michael wrote:

8, That’s it in a nutshell.  An unwritten constitution is fine as long as all agree on the presuppositions.  But change them and you need a writtten standard of agreement.  And even then it doesn’t work, witness the splits in the confessional Churches.

June 12, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
10. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

“The problem should be understood for what it is: the unconscionable refusal of some Global South primates to accept resources from provinces that do not hew to their own particular patriarchal, misogynistic, and homophobic views.”

Rather, the problem should be understood for what it is:  the unconscionable refusal of some Global North primates to accept Global South adherence to received Christian moral teachings, views of Scripture, and the Global North embrasure of homosexual behaviors as consonant with either.  If the miniscule number of Global North primates so believing wish to redefine universal Christian teaching, they should be open and honest enough to form their own sect and not attempt imperial imposition of their views based on their (current and transient) financial leverage.  They would subject their “new revelation” to Communion discernment before acting as they had the power to do as they please without regard to the whole Body.  The actions of the Global North reveal who is seeking and using power very clearly.  Fortunately history shows the failure of such attempts to subvert the Church.

Have any such ever repented and returned to the Fold?  I cannot think of an example off the top of my head.  One can still hope and pray that ECUSA/TEC and ACCanada and their fellow travelers will.

June 12, 9:14 pm | [comment link]
11. hrsn wrote:

#10: In your rush to make a clever-clever riposte, you forgot that Prof. Sharp’s point about the unconscionable has to do with the refusal of aid and relief for the poor on the basis of theological squeamishness. They are afraid of taking food that they think has been sacrificed to idols, I suppose. Too bad for those who suffer because of this weakness.

June 12, 9:37 pm | [comment link]
12. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

hrsn, in your rush to riposte you missed the point that allegedly stronger brethren were to avoid offending the weaker brother, not rush to judgment and imperialistically force the new thang into existence.  But subtlety is difficult and restraint unheard of in the ECUSA/TEC in reappraiser control, isn’t it?  But the aid was refused on the grounds you suggest…impurity.  Not that any reappraiser thinks that a cause for reconsideration, right?  On the bright side, it’ll help reduce the population problem naturally.  Not as fast as the ECUSA/TEC’s decline, but maybe…just maybe…especially with the MDGs for ECUSA/TEC designated to lobbying and not relief…

June 12, 11:31 pm | [comment link]
13. Irenaeus wrote:

“The genius of Anglicanism is its gracious comprehensiveness in allowing for pluriform, contextually responsive theologies and hermeneutics throughout the global Church.”

“Show us anything clearly set forth in Holy Scripture that we do not teach, and we will teach it; show us anything in our teaching and practice that is plainly contrary to Holy Scripture, and we will abandon it.”—- Stephen Neill’s summary of the classical Anglican Via Media

Sharp’s gracious pluriformity sounds more like the Griswold than like the gospel.

Nice for Sharp to include “androcentric and heteronormative values,” lest anyone forget reappraisers’ priorities.

June 13, 1:02 am | [comment link]
14. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

The Author writes, “I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has ‘always’ done something or ‘always’ said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter.”

She apparently assumes that a particular practice that was “always” done had its genesis in either random chance or some sort of oppression that she later refers to.  The possiblity that a practice began with Godly men who knew Jesus, knew the apostles, and took seriously both the existing Scriptures and the writings that would be recognized as the New Testament, seems to have been dismissed entirely.

June 13, 2:19 am | [comment link]
15. Boring Bloke wrote:

I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has “always” done something or “always” said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter. It is abundantly clear that the Church has made disastrous missteps in its history—the Crusades, colonialism, and chattel slavery are only three examples out of many that could be cited.

I notice that in the three examples she cites the church (if it was responsible at all, which is debatable in two of the cases, and if we should consider the Church’s role a mistake, which is debatable in the third) are precisely when the church broke with its former practice and followed the ways of the world. One might think that there is a lesson there.

June 13, 3:48 am | [comment link]
16. Philip Snyder wrote:

I am astonished whenever anyone, progressive or conservative, suggests that the fact that the Church has “always” done something or “always” said something means that the Church has necessarily been correct on the matter.  It is abundantly clear that the Church has made disastrous missteps in its history—the Crusades, colonialism, and chattel slavery are only three examples out of many that could be cited.

Well, as Phil said that the three examples stated were never part of the Vincentian Canon (believed at all times, in all places, by all).  The Crusades were a response to militarily aggressive Islam (sound familiar).  Colonialism was an secular movement that the Church used to spread the gospel, sometimes well (SPG, CMS, etc) and sometimes poorly (Conquistadores).  Slavery was accepted in society and the Church worked against it for several hundred years.

If the Church has believed and practiced something, I will agree that that, in itself, is not proof that it is right.  However, the assumption must be that it is right and the burden of proof that the Church’s belief/practice is wrong lies with those who wish to change the teaching/practice of the Church.  So far, all we have seen is the assertion from groups of people who want to change the moral teaching of the Church that the Church is wrong in its interpretation of Scripture or its tradition.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 13, 9:27 am | [comment link]
17. hrsn wrote:

#16 Phil: <i>So far, all we have seen is the assertion from groups of people who want to change the moral teaching of the Church that the Church is wrong in its interpretation of scripture or its tradition.</i>

I think this is a mischaracterization. Surely, there have been sustained, principled, and nuanced arguments on the reappraiser side; reasserters happen not to be persuaded by them, sometimes for principled and nuanced reasons of their own.

Prof. Sharp’s contribution—despite some arguable points and occasional shallow essentializing—I would count as an argument to contend with. I’m disappointed that initial response was anti-intellectual (big words!).

And, for #12: hrsn, in your rush to riposte you missed the point that allegedly stronger brethren were to avoid offending the weaker brother, not rush to judgment and imperialistically force the new thang into existence. I do get that point, and have been troubled by the claim that “justice” trumps it. But the aid was refused on the grounds you suggest…impurity.  Not that any reappraiser thinks that a cause for reconsideration, right? I don’t; are your offerings pure?

June 13, 10:00 am | [comment link]
18. Larry Morse wrote:

#4, see #8. This is clear, no?

Criticizing style is not in contradistinction to criticizing content. Her doctoral pedantry fundamentally influences her content. See #8 again.
Style and content are closely related and interactive. Her style is established to obscure, not illuminate, at one level. At another, it exists to show that she speaks academicese; these are her credentials to justify her demand that we grant her authority on the subject. She is one of the intellectual elite, as she demonstrates, and therefore we should bend our knees to superior skill.
This is one of the reasons I left a doctoral program; the sheer need for mastery of academic b…...t was ubiquitous and suffocating.

And I have characterized it correctly. It may be that in the sciences, there is space for new insight in a doctorate. In the belletristic world, the space is gone, so that the absence of room for new insiight is supplanted by a demonstration of one’s ability to speak the language of academia with consummate skill.

Let me ask again. What is prooftexting? Does anyone know?

June 13, 10:36 am | [comment link]
19. hrsn wrote:

Let me ask again. What is prooftexting? Does anyone know?

Yes.

June 13, 10:46 am | [comment link]
20. Philip Snyder wrote:

hrsn (#17) - I’ve missed the biblically based arguments for blessing same sex unions or for raising up to church leadership those engaged in ongoing and unrepentant sin - preferring to call that sin “blessed.”

I’ve also missed the arguments that flow from Tradition.

What I’ve heard is that Jesus worked to include all in his message and that, therefore, we should bless homosexual unions.

Can you enlighten me or point me to sources that say something different from what I’ve heard or read?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 13, 11:16 am | [comment link]
21. hrsn wrote:

Phil, (#20), I’m afraid I don’t have time at the moment to compile a thorough list of sources so, regrettably, I can only offer remembered bits—like many of Marilyn Adams’s contributions, such as in Gays and the Future of Anglicanism or Neil Alexander’s This Far by Grace. I’ve read and heard more, but would have to dig around for them. Carolyn Sharp’s essay, the ostensible center of this thread, I also count as a worthy contribution.

But yet, I suspect that you might already know these and find them unpersuasive, which is fine. They fail to persuade me often enough. But I would take exception that they are neither principled nor nuanced—that, in other words, because you don’t agree, they are tout court wrong, damnable, etc.

So there you have it—I’m in the apparently rapidly dwindling middle and still read, meditate upon, and pray about the best and most faithful writings of both sides.

June 13, 11:50 am | [comment link]
22. Frank Fuller wrote:

*Sigh*  It seems to me that both the article and our responses are simply pointing up that the party is just about over.  In the brave new Church Prof. Sharp loves, will there be a place for us X-phobics and Y-archals and Z-centrics?  Will we have to wear gas masks to be able to breathe?  Kind of looks like…. 

In the breakaways, is there anything to suggest that the fission chain reactions will be able to stop?  Or that anything like the breadth and comprehension Anglicanism has enjoyed and made profitable for the Church of yore will be able to survive our cramped little ghettos?

...slouching toward Bethlehem

June 13, 11:57 am | [comment link]
23. Larry Morse wrote:

#19. You DO know? OK, please do explain. I cannot make sense of the word. L

June 13, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
24. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

hrsn, my offerings are pure!  They stay in the local church and don’t fund the Diocesan uber liberal agenda nor 815 nor the abortion approving Executive Council nor lawsuits.  The offerings go to the people they are to help in Christ’s name. 

But of course you don’t mean intent, you mean ritually pure.  So within the scope of the Global South’s intention, the answer remains yes.

If you mean that they aren’t in God’s eyes absolutely pure in very respect, the answer is yes again.

Now, without prooftexting, tell me why they should be pure.  I’ll be interested to learn.

June 13, 12:56 pm | [comment link]
25. hrsn wrote:

#23. I linked my response to the Wikipedia article on prooftexting, which is a pretty clear if somewhat eccentric piece.

#24: Are you saying that your local church doesn’t pay its diocesan share?

June 13, 1:41 pm | [comment link]
26. BillS wrote:

Larry Morse-
Prooftexting, from Wikipedia (and thanks for the question, I was not sure either).

Prooftexting is the practice of using decontextualised quotations from a document (often, but not always, a book of the Bible) to establish a proposition rhetorically through an appeal to authority. Critics of the technique note that often the document, when read as a whole, may not in fact support the proposition.

Ministers and teachers have used the following humorous anecdote to demonstrate the dangers of prooftexting:

  A man dissatisfied with his life decided to consult the Bible for guidance. Closing his eyes, he flipped the book open and pointed to a spot on the page. Opening his eyes, he read the verse under his finger. It read, “Then Judas went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5b) Closing his eyes again, the man randomly selected another verse. This one read, “Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:37b)

Click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prooftext for entire article.

Best,

Bill

June 13, 1:58 pm | [comment link]
27. BillS wrote:

The Global South rejects money from the heretical TEC because they know that accepting the money means accepting control by TEC. The money from TEC comes with strings attached, and is a 21st century version of slavery.

The Global South know that they will not be able to criticize the theology of TEC if they are beholden to them financially. They prefer to do the best they can with what they have rather than be forced to kowtow to the secular, non-biblical theology of TEC. They should be admired for their willingness to pay the financial price to be faithful to the Bible.

June 13, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
28. hrsn wrote:

#27: What ecumenical or even Anglican council has declared TEC heretical? Or is this just you?

June 13, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
29. BillS wrote:

It’s just me because I am seeing with new eyes and being prophetic, and believe that God is about to do a new thing to TEC. That God has spoken to me and not yet to others is the same claim that God is doing a new thing in TEC that He is not doing in Nigeria and Uganda.

That the ponderous mechanisms of Anglican Communion have not declared TEC officially heretical does not mean that they are not heretical. It just means that officialdom is constrained by political considerations that do not constrain me.

June 13, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
30. Larry Morse wrote:

Thanks, #26. Your explanation is clear, although “decontexualized” makes me wince - urk. (That’s a textwince.) Prooftexting is an abominable word and there should be something in Scripture that damns it for eternity. Why not just say,“taken out of context…”
Blasted neologisms. Put that wretched word in the same coffin with deconstruct, and pile on the dirt. LM
  LM

June 13, 4:57 pm | [comment link]
31. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

hrsn,  what part of “my” do have trouble understanding?  the “m” or the “y”?

Awaiting your commentary on purity without prooftexting.

June 13, 4:58 pm | [comment link]
32. hrsn wrote:

#31: OK, I give up. Too much static on the line. Your offerings are pure—good for you!

As for the original point—yes, I do find it unfortunate unto unconscionable that aid is refused on purity grounds. #27 seems to think that doing so promotes independence because such aid comes with strings attached…which are what, I wonder? So, OK—let purity be the reason. Then can we hope that those who claim this reason are pure themselves, eh?

June 13, 5:10 pm | [comment link]
33. GoSane wrote:

#26:  Thanks for the anecdote, re: “prooftexting.”  It was worth a chuckle after a hard day.  I don’t post very often on blogs, and feel I may be a bit behind the curve, so I’d like to know if anyone knows where the terms “reappraiser” and “reasserter” originated and how they came into use in apparent preferance to “conservative” and/or “liberal/progressive”?
#18: Thanks for your response.  Somehow I managed to complete a doctorate without “the sheer need for mastery of academic b…...t .”  Instead, I, and others, focused on scholarship and hard work to complete our programs.  I read somewhere that 50% of people who complete all the course requirements for a doctorate never receive their degrees because they were unwilling or unable complete and defend a dissertation.

June 13, 6:19 pm | [comment link]
34. Philip Snyder wrote:

HRSN (#21)
I never said that the arguments were not “principled nor nuanced.”  I simply said that they were not based in scripture.  For the arguments to be persuasive for most Anglicans in the world, they need to be based on scripture, tradition, and reason - with Scripture being the primary base.

So, can you point me to biblically based arguments or arguments based on Tradition?  All I see is faulty reasoning that assumes what it wants to prove or makes radical leaps of “logic” that confuse things such as being welcome with leading.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 13, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
35. hrsn wrote:

Phil, In haste, as I’m heading out of town…
The whole issue comes to this: “scripture, tradition, and reason - with Scripture being the primary base.” I put more weight on reason than you do, which is to say that I test the incontestable scriptural condemnations of same-sex relationships under rational scrutiny, and I’ve found the condemnations more wobbly than firm. As a lurker, I’ve come to know where you stand on the matter of scriptural authority, so we needn’t push this farther. As Carolyn Sharp herself wrote: “It is clear that disagreements over how to read Scripture lie at the heart of our current disputes.” That we can agree on, yes?

And for another time, perhaps by private email, I’d provide you with my scripturally-based case for at least a theological indifference to sexual orientation.

June 14, 11:07 am | [comment link]
36. Carolyn Sharp wrote:

The nasty anti-intellectual tone of many responses here is shocking to me. I would like to say two things and then ask a question. First: when I come across a word I do not understand, I do not call the writer names—I look up the word! Here is a partial list of words I did not understand in the awesome, prize-winning biography of W. E. B. DuBois by David Levering Lewis: rodomontade, epigone, cynosure, condign, mephitic, eleemosynary, soi-disant, nacre, circumvallation, purlieu, anneal, and coruscant. Now, why on earth would I want to be nasty to Lewis just because his vocabulary is (way) bigger than mine? The English language is a rich and beautiful thing, and every unfamiliar word is an opportunity to learn.

Second: at the bottom of this post are definitions of all the jargon-y words I used in my piece. (Please note: I never intended it for a general audience, nor did I ask for it to be linked on TitusOneNine.) I supply these definitions completely earnestly – truly, not in any way trying to be elitist – because I want to help make my piece more comprehensible.

My question: would anyone like to respond (courteously, please) to any of the actual points I make in my essay? Here they are:

—baptism, creeds, and Eucharist are enough to bind us together
—the Church has been wrong on stuff before, so let’s not make tradition an idol
—global relief work will survive even if we have to change the system a little
—enhanced primatial authority is a new thing and would be a mistake
—we need to honor the fact that different folks read Scripture differently
—our unity is (already) in Christ

DEFINITIONS:

pluriform: having lots of different forms

hermeneutics: the science of interpretation; how we read stuff

adiaphora: stuff that is not essential, stuff that is not at the heart of the matter

prooftexting: using a Scripture verse out of context, often in a way that distorts its meaning, to make a point

colonialism: when a country forces another region or country to accept its laws and culture, and then exploits that other region or country for its own gain; this usually requires military force backed up by economic pressure

juridical: having to do with law or the office of judge

patriarchal: when men (and sometimes women) think that men should rule the world; if they are religious, these folks think it is God’s will that men should rule the world.

misogynistic: hating women or the female

homophobic:  fearing homosexuals and homosexuality

androcentric: when men (and sometimes women) think that “the male” is the natural center of the universe

heteronormative: when heterosexual folks think that they are the natural, “default” setting for human sexual expression, and other expressions (gay, bisexual, celibate) are not valid

hegemonic:  having much (often: too much) authority or control over others

multivocality:  having many voices

praxis:  a type of practice; a way of doing things

reductionist:  reducing the complexity of stuff until it is so simple that it becomes useless or even untrue

ecclesial: having to do with the church

monolithic:  being massively unified to the point of being rigid

exegetical:  having to do with interpretation that pays close attention to a text

To the extent that we speak the truth in love to one another, even our disagreements can honor our Lord and proclaim the Gospel. May the dialogue continue in a Christian spirit, and may each one of us learn something important today from someone with whom we disagree.  CJS

June 14, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
37. Tom Roberts wrote:

Dr Sharp, if you wish to take the intellectually high road and not depend on semantics, I would suggest you respond to #16’s (and by extension #1’s) objections to the thrust of your essay.  Some of the readers here actually recognise your point about anklebiting without your having to make it in writing, and your dropping to that level merely makes your assumption that your article was suited to other than the hoi polloi less than appealing as a response to this thread.

On the other hand, if you have no response to #16, so be it.

June 14, 10:40 pm | [comment link]
38. Philip Snyder wrote:

Dr. Sharp
OK.  I will respond to your points if you respond to mine.  In fairness, I will go first.
—baptism, creeds, and Eucharist are enough to bind us together
Evidently not.  We seem to mean different things by the same words.  By “Jesus,” reasserters mean the incarnate Word (Logos) of God - the Second person of the Trinity - who was born of Mary - a woman who was a virgin when she conceived.  Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to God.  By “Holy Spirit” we mean the Third Person of the Trinity that spoke through the prophets and the authors of the Holy Scriptures.  Holy Scripture should be allowed to interpret itself and read with a hermeneutic of faith - not suspicion.

—the Church has been wrong on stuff before, so let’s not make tradition an idol
True statement.  I agree.  However, because of the long history of teaching regarding human sexual expression, the assumption is that what the Church teaches is true.  It is up to those who wish to change the teaching of the Church to persuade the Church (from Scripturally based arguments) that their new teaching more accurately reflects the mind of God before acting on that new teaching.

—global relief work will survive even if we have to change the system a little
The Church is about reconciling the world to God.  All work (even relief work) of the Church should be focused towards this end.  Thus, if it is perceived that we worship two different gods, then why would we do relief work together? 

—enhanced primatial authority is a new thing and would be a mistake
There would be no need for enhanced primatial authority if TECUSA had not breeched the bonds of affection by its constant innovations and refusal to discipline even the most egregious heretics among its bishops.  The unwritten agreements used to be that what affects all is decided by all and TECUSA followed that agreement (even endorsing it in 1991 - B020) until GC2003 and GC2006.

<i>—we need to honor the fact that different folks read scripture differently </i>
We are now determining the limits of that diversity.  I submit that the limits are in the Vincentian Canon.  What TECUSA is doing is breaking with that canon before the rest of the Communion (indeed, the rest of the Church) agrees that the innovation is adiaphora.

—our unity is (already) in Christ
On the evidence, I would disagree.  It seems that by “Christ” two (or more) different persons or things are meant.  The reasserters mean the one person who is fully God and fully man - the only sinless man to live.  We believe that Christ’s work is continued through the Church and that the Church recognized the authority in Holy Scripture.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.  I’ve heard and read the Presiding Bishop mention that Jesus is only one way to the Father and that others are acceptable.  This violates Holy Scripture, the 39 Articles, as well as the unbroken teaching of the Church.  If Jesus is only one way to the Father, then Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is nothing more than the child abuse some reappraisers claim it is. 

I’ve asked this question of others and I ask for your resonponse.  Can you give me a biblically based reason why we should ignore the witness of Holy Scripture that sexual expression belongs in only in marriage between one man and one woman?  Can you show any scriptural basis for blessing what Scripture calls “sin?”

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 15, 3:32 am | [comment link]
39. Larry Morse wrote:

#36: Let’s take the jargon word “heteronormative” as a case. It is part of a list of feminist jargon which you have usefully provided us with. The list itself shows a clear and obvious bias whose aim is not argument, but pursuasion.In short, it is a strongly biased vocabulary; the words carry a weight of attitude. So: herteronormative.
It appears in tone and slant that you regard this term as describing a condition that is to be faulted. But why? Heterosexuality is normative and always has been. Moreover, it is genetic, and evolution has set the rule that to fail at this task is to commit genetic suicide. If heterosexuality is the norm, why should it not set the standard for behavior, for this is what norms do. What else does norm mean? Since this norm is genetic, then its standard is absolute, isn’t it?

The real trouble with such doctoral prose is that is can be too easily used to mask condescension and arrogance, for such pedantry is the common academic means by which dominance is asserted and personal bias is institutionalized. It is elitist and always has been. One need only go once to a meeting of the Modern Language Association to hear (and suffer from) the condensation of your essay’s manifest character. Style gives form to substance, and this is itself meaning. To pretend that style and substance are separate is, as I am sure use know, quite false. To pretend that the argument and the way it is advanced are separate entities, that the way argument is advanced has no effect on argument is equally false.  LM

June 15, 8:56 am | [comment link]
40. Henry Troup wrote:

#38 - can you give me a scriptural citation that marriage is between “one man and one woman”? The best I can come up with is that this is the standard for priests, deacons, and bishops.  In OT times, the Jews were not required to be monogamous; by NT times, they had adopted the Roman custom/culture that most of the world follows today.  But, if we reject “being conformed to the culture”, then where is the mandate of monogamy for the lay man?  I say lay man, because the OT marriage is one man and one or more women ... see, for example, David, Solomon, Hannah’s husband, etc.

June 19, 12:47 pm | [comment link]
41. Philip Snyder wrote:

Henry Troup - How about Ephesians 5:31 - “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The same sentiment is in Gen 2:24 which is what Paul is quoting in Ephesians.
Also Jesus speaks directly to this in Matthew 19:4-6 “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ “

The number of males and females are always two - one of each.  The two become one flesh.  All of the biblical examples of polygamy are in the Old Testament and they almost all end badly - see, for example, David, Solomon, Jacob, Abraham (although he technically didn’t marry Hagar), etc.

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 19, 3:33 pm | [comment link]
42. Tom Roberts wrote:

I would like to point out that Jewish law still does not catagorically forbid polygamy.
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=425&letter=P

The arguments against it, however, are rather persuasive.

June 20, 10:04 pm | [comment link]


© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

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