anthills–Episcopalians & the Anglican Communion

June 22, 2006

-PROGRESSIVIST–A NEW LABEL?

Filed under: Episcopal Church, the anthills — anthill @ 11:32 am

Actually, “progressivist” is in my standard dictionary.

I’ve always been rankled by granting the label “progressive” to those who want to turn classic Christianity on its head. A strong argument can be made that true progress follows the Way of Jesus Christ as understood by orthodox Christianity.

I’m very aware that I snuck in two labels for Christianity as I and well more than a billion souls have received it. Labels are unavoidable unless you want to give tediously full descriptions every time you refer to a person’s position.

So “progressivist” looks like a good one to me. It tags the viewpoint that progress itself (as judged by some group) is the thing. It accurately marks a party in the ecclesial organization formerly known as ECUSA.

April 3, 2006

-THE CHOICE FOR GC

Filed under: Anglican Communion, ECUSA, the anthills, The Windsor Report — anthill @ 10:01 pm

An exchange between Tobias Haller and Ephraim Radner on titusonenine brought into focus the choice facing the General Convention. Anthills (with an "s" added to suggest the various attitudes in our church toward the Anglican Communion) will now focus on this choice.

These words from Radner (comment #31) galvanized my thinking about what I need to do here:

…the consequences of our disagreement are quite concrete and will determine the actual shape of our church very shortly and into the future. For some of us, it will determine the shape of our professional lives. Time is running out to put aside the arguments for the present and to re-engage the Communion on its own terms, within which at some point these arguments may again be examined.

I am among the "some of us" who anticipate that choices beyond our control may "determine the shape of our professional lives."

My original purpose started getting bogged down in the details of the argument over homosexuality. I knew before but now see more clearly that we first have to get through a "meta-choice" very soon.

Most Bishops and Deputies to GC are not going to change their views on homosexuality in the two months and nine days until the convention. What will take concentration, meditation, and prayer during that period is the choice about The Windsor Report way of being the Anglican Communion.

The Bishop of Arizona now says (after his "cat out of the bag" memo) that he is "personally faced with a dilemma as he tries to balance his own concerns about the Communion against equally strong convictions in favor of autonomy and inclusion."

In the exchange in titusonenine linked above, Haller took Radner's lead and shifted to thinking about "a way forward." But then the discussion ended. Is this ominous?

Can a way be found? What are the options? What are the arguments pro and con on the possible ways forward?

My metaphor here now is a large pasture with many anthills. "The field is the world." The anthills claiming to be Anglican are, as a "fact on the ground," diverse. The crucial question is, how will they relate?

That thread on titusonenine fizzled out. If a "safe" place is needed to continue the discussion, I offer this site. I will delete comments here that don't mirror the irenic (if spirited) tone of Haller and Radner.

I will be happy to create threads to accomodate anyone with something helpful to say.

This is my new focus and it feels to me like it's on target.

[This is anthills' revised purpose statement in right column. View unrevised "pages" only in this new light.]

March 28, 2006

-GAY GC AGENDA

Filed under: ECUSA, the anthills — anthill @ 7:55 pm

The organization called “Claiming the Blessing” (CTB) has published its “Platform” for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) in June.

I testify that the hateful early comments on that blog do not represent anything I have ever heard from the most conservative Christians I know.

The platform has a section of affirmations as a foundation for the list of aims that follow. The lead affirmation is highly important for what it says and for what it doesn’t say: “We commit our lives to … the celebration of the goodness of all creatures and creation as given to us by God.”

Take this as a general theological claim and it is fine. The things, animals, and people that God is directly responsible for are good as created. We can exclude lethal parasites and such as not part of God’s direct work.

The affirmation can even form a foundation for reaching those who have wrecked the goodness of the original creation. We celebrate the goodness that is under it all; we call it forth in the name of the Creator.

A glaring omission in the affirmations is any mention of the wrecking, twisting, killing effects of sin (name it what you will). And in the listing of aims in the platform, rebellion against the Creator could have shown up as a condemnation of all promiscuity and misuse of sex (hetero and homosexual). Isn’t it relevant that the realm of sex is where some of the most heinous crimes take place?

But I wonder if there is a more subtle problem with the first affirmation. It is a part of gay dogma that being gay in many (most?) cases is not a choice. It is unhelpful for productive relationships to deny such a claim, personally made. Let us accept that a complex bundle of factors bring a person to a point of affirming, “I did not choose this.”

It is frequently asserted that a lack of choice means this is God’s intention and work. But, the experience of not having chosen a state of being does not support a logical leap to saying that God made one that way. Without drawing an equivalence of any kind other than logical, an alcoholic’s claim of genetic predisposition does not require the conclusion that God created that person an alcoholic.

I don’t know the name of this logical fallacy, but it in lay language, this is leaping to a conclusion (from a false major premise—God made me just the way I am).

There are many genetic or inter-uterine hormonal conditions that do not call out for a claim that God positively created that condition. They may rather clearly be attributed to the disorder and disease that afflicts our world.

And that brings us back to the missing word in the platform of Claiming the Blessing – fallenness. If the Bible can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle, then the themes of sin, rebellion against God, the twisting of the goodness of creation, fallenness make up many of the pieces. For these pieces to be missing from the “proclamation” of this organization calls into question its foundations.

Fallenness is a metaphor for a concrete reality. There is moral disorder in the world. It seems silly to have to assert it. This concept belongs in this platform; it fits.

Because fallenness is missing, there is no mention of redemption by Jesus’ death and resurrection, which can restore goodness to sex and to all of life. The assertion that our view on sexuality is usually bound in a coherent package with all our deepest beliefs seems to ring true here.

March 26, 2006

-GOOD ARGUING

Filed under: the anthills — anthill @ 9:59 pm

Kendall Harmon found this:“A Christianity which will bear witness to God’s Word in Jesus will be a speaking, thinking, arguing, debating Christianity, which will not be afraid to engage in intellectual and philosophical contest with the prevailing dogmas of its day.”

– Oliver O’Donovan, Begotten or Made? (1984)

O’Donovan doesn’t mean these are the only modes of conversation. And, while it seems he mainly had in mind going up against the dogmas of “the world,” there is such a thing as good arguing between Christians trying to find truth. Tell me you haven’t had that pleasure.

The word “argue” comes directly out of Latin. There it can mean “prove” or “reason with.” It sometimes translates the Greek word transliterated “dialogue.” Acts 17:17 give an interesting use of this word (translated “argue” in some versions): “Paul reasoned with them in the synagogue … and in the marketplace.” This led to the famous speech in Athens citing pagan poets and philosophers, including the seminal line: “In God we live and move and have our being.”

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