anthills–Episcopalians & the Anglican Communion

March 17, 2006


Filed under: ECUSA, Uncategorized — anthill @ 12:28 am

A comment by Richard (not Kew–see next post) at "Preview of a speech for General Convention" gives a blockbuster analysis of two key points that will be made at GC by advocates of same-sex blessings.

Susan Russell–President of Integrity–cites Scripture as a “living word” (a biblical allusion) and experience as a crucial authenticating factor for change. Richard analyzes this as follows:

She seems to appeal to a concept of doctrinal development grounded in the scripture as a “living word.” What is not adequately dealt with is how we discern between true and false development. Arguably, the fundamentalism of the Southern Baptist Church is a development of biblical Christianity. But I am relatively certain that she would not accept this as an authentic development of the Christian tradition.

I might assume that the authenticity of such development is to be tested by her first point, “[her] lived experience” of homosexuality and that of others. But is individual experience an adequate arbiter of true development? If a Mormon Fundamentalist in a polygamous relationship experiences the same “spiritual fruits” as does Ms. Russell+ in her sexual life experience does that affirm that polygamy is an authentic development of the tradition?

Ultimately, an epistemological appeal to experience will deconstruct. What we call “truth” in this matter is merely the aggregate of discrete individual experiences. Thus there can be no overarching appeal to truth outside of the exercise of power.

While I’d like to debate with Richard on the conclusion that followed these words, I think he makes a piercing critique in the thoughts above.



  1. Would be interested in your dissent from the conclusion.

    Comment by Richard — March 18, 2006 @ 2:41 am

  2. Richard,

    My dispute with your final conclusion is the absolute nature of it.
    You say “the pitched battle on these issues” is
    -“not for the hearts and minds of the Communion,
    -“but over where power resides…” and…
    -“The debate over Windsor pretends to be about theology,
    -“but it is about politics….”

    I believe it surely involves power and politics, but not to the complete exclusion of a concern for hearts, minds, and theology. It is both/and. The mix depends on where you stand.

    For example, I know diocesan politics and power well. It is real. But I testify now that my zeal is for hearts, minds, souls, and bodies, for that matter.

    On your very final line, I agree that the “epistemological ground upon which the battle is being waged” is a critical question. That ground is not agreed on, and therefore (if for no other reason), there cannot be a resolution on the level of dialogue. So, I recognize that what I am working on here will likely end up as a one-sided witness.

    And, what say you, if not more on this, then something in the Open Thread sometime.

    Comment by anthill — March 18, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  3. Sorry not to have responded earlier.

    I will confess that you caught me in a little rhetorical excess.

    I do note that when the actions of GC ’03 were challenged, the appeal to experience very quickly gave way to issues of power: NH was canonically in the right. The constitution and canons were followed. etc. etc. Now I hear that the AbC has no power to throw anyone out of the Communion.

    I think we may be on suspect terrain as we attempt to engage in the issues that confront us.

    Comment by Richard — March 27, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

  4. Richard thinks “we may be on suspect terrain as we attempt to engage in the issues that confront us.” I agree completely. The image came to mind from several old movies of people running through jungles and falling into quicksand.

    Post-modernism cuts both ways. High-sounding principles easily mask our desires.

    Richard–Pop something into the Open Thread sometime for our consideration as we look carefully where we are stepping.

    Comment by anthill — March 27, 2006 @ 4:12 pm

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