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TWO CREATION NARRATIVES AND THE PB

Father Jake, whose last name I don’t know, writes a regular blog from a liberal point of view. He’s a graduate of Nashotah House which makes his consistent attacks on orthodox Episcopalians the more odd.

Today he reports on a meeting between the clergy in Fr. Jake’s diocese and our Presiding Bishop and Primate. Fr. Jake reports that +Katharine uses the two accounts of Creation in Genesis to differentiate between the God of love and acceptance of the first story and the God of sin and retribution in the second account. Some have written in saying they have heard this speech in their areas as the PB moves around. The first account is supposed to be embraced by liberals and the second by traditionalists.

Now I am quite prepared to hear that this account is a biased version of what the PB said. Fr. Jake suggests that those who oppose what +Katharine says do so because she is a woman or supports the Bishop of New Hampshire. The first is a political shot. Call a traditionalist a bigot and one doesn’t have to hear what is said. As for the second shot, the PB has an obligation by her office to “support” all her comprovincial bishops whether they are left, right or center. I suppose Fr. Jake means those who do not accept the rightness of the Bishop of New Hampshire’s consents and consecration are also bigots and so talk nonsense. Ah!

I wrote in comment:

“I’m not sure that one would have to object to +Katharine’s being a woman or her support of Bishop Robinson (do you mean his election/consecration?) to disagree with her on some points. But perhaps that section was hyperbole?

Why give alternatives based on the Creation stories? Again one is offered supposedly conflicting possibilities which up until now the church seems to have harmonized. Why always the “either/or”. I suspect it must have something to do with Republicans versus Democrats or football, making it impossible to contemplate symbiosis?

Does not God look at all God made and say, “It is good”. Is it not true that our response, to want to be “as god(s)” rendered us, in the words of the Articles NOT totally depraved, but “very far gone from original righteousness”? Does not the Creed we profess speak of “baptism for the remission of sins” and of God’s continued loving kindness in that God adopts us through Christ’s death and passion and resurrection, and restores us to that gracious relationship which was “In the beginning”?

So one remembers, the Liturgy, which is our primary source of faith and doctrine, speaks Anglican orthodoxy. Why divide us up on something which should surely be the coin of the realm?”

One apologizes for using the word “God” so much in the above comment but if one uses “He” one is not pc despite the Lord’s Prayer and I’ll write their jargon to get over the church’s teachings.

I hope I am not getting the PB right. It was the Gnostics who spoke of a good god who created everything and an evil lesser god who corrupted the earth and humans. But the Gnostics tended to be Puritans when it came to sexuality, perhaps wishing that God had devised a purer method of procreation, as do many schismatic sects and odd amalgams of religions which the Gnostics were as reflected in their “Gospels.” It is passing strange that many find the Gnostics and their Gospels so affirming, but like Thomas Jefferson and his New Testament, they manage the manuscripts with a handy pair of scissors.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

We are told by our church’s leadership that there’s ample room for traditionalists and “orthodox” moderates in the fold, that we should “stay in and fight”, an unfortunate metaphor for Christians, and “take our place at the Table.” We are even told that traditionalists are valued and appointed to commissions and committees of the National Church and of General Convention, although the evidence for such a deliberate policy is perhaps less than obvious.

I am associated with a very bright and positive group of clergy and laity at the “Covenant-Communion” web site. Some of them are engaged in post graduate studies at excellent seminaries. One wonders whether there will be a place for them on the faculties of our seminaries? I lament our loss of Dr. Ephraim Radner to the Canadian Church. Wycliffe Seminary was far-sighted enough to appoint him to their faculty along with the Reverend Dr. Christopher Seitz. Fr. Ephraim is a world class theologian, the author of some splendid books, recognized as such by the Archbishop of Canterbury and unsung in our own church. So much for inclusion.

What seems to be the case is that those of us who are firm in our Anglican ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) and believe that without its unity, as far as we may experience unity in the divided Christendom, justice, mercy, compassion and reconciliation are impossible, are invited to remain, grumble, grouse, and get nowhere!

This isn’t entirely the fault of the Establishment -who still believe and yell that they are a minority – although I would suggest that most theological liberals, firm in their righteousness, find it utterly impossible to get into the minds and hearts of those who still believe with Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626…yup an old guy!) in Anglican authority based on “One canon…two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries and the series of Fathers in that period…determine the boundary of our faith.”

The major problem theological liberals have with the rest of us -maybe we are the silent majority but the silence is deafening – is that our religion seems archeological, the dead voice of tradition. Well they also oppose such a “belief system” because it offends their sentimentalism. Many seem to walk through this world blind to evil and the suffering and the destruction evil brings, confident that the eradication of poverty – a worthy and splendid cause -will usher in a brave new world. Not believing in “our father below” and all his works, dysfunction in families and societies and the world at large is attributed to social and psychological pathologies. They may well be right, but what lies behind such pathologies? To suggest that evil lies behind dysfunction is taken by many to suggest that dysfunctional people are necessarily evil. Some may be, but to the orthodox, so are we all prone to be evil without God’s grace in Christ mediated in Word and Sacrament. The living tradition so teaches.

Notice this sudden obsession with the theory that a National Church creates dioceses which are part of that structure and whose property is held in trust for that structure? Now it may well be that our National Church by its missionary zeal did forensically create most of the dioceses in the USA. It is also true that the National Church was itself created by delegates from existing Anglican churches in the colonies, who organized themselves as dioceses and elected delegates to the first General Convention. But in Anglican ecclesiology the diocese and not the national church, the bishop surrounded by priests and deacons and laity at the altar table, constitutes the essential unit of a “Catholic” church. Why? Because that is how the early church began as episcopal-“men” like SS. Timothy and Titus were sent to establish the first Christian churches. From them, in various ways, with a very few exceptions developed the form of a bishop and his “parochia” or family of Christians. As these “parochias” grew they subdivided into “parishes”, eventually pastored by episcopal delegates or priests and extended outward into “Provinces”. The term “National” Church is anachronistic, expressing the emergence of the Nation State in the 16th. Century, a concept any true modern global liberal will want to alter if not abjure!

It’s marvellous how an old-fashioned idea like the “National Church” can catch on again when property is in danger and dioceses split off. One cannot help a degree of cynicism.

Back to incomprehension! It is also true that theological conservatives often cannot get into the minds and hearts of theological liberals. They prefer to create safe bastions of faith, either in internal or external schism, into which may be attracted like-minded people. If the early Evangelicals and Tractarians had decided on such a policy -it is so like the Puritan paradigm of the church Anglicans firmly opposed in the 16th and 17th Century – their extraordinary transforming effect on the Church of England and the American Church would have been impossible. In this respect the Establishment challenge to traditionalists and “orthodox” moderates is cogent. “Make yourself heard”. “Be fruitful and multiply.” “Speak as true prophets to the church.” A prophet says nothing new or novel, proclaim no developments as do many among us who claim the prophetic mantle. The task of prophets is to say “Thus says the Lord” and call the church back to repentance, conversion and new life. St. John the Baptist was a prophet, and he said “Behold the Lamb of God” and called the Church of Israel to repentence and newness of life.

Yet perhaps after the extraordinary battering traditionalists have experienced during the past forty years in TEC, the time has come to call for “affirmative action.” Let us hear ourselves affirmed by the TEC leadership. Find places for us at the Table in churches, seminaries, Conventions and commissions. Listen to us. When that happens we will believe the burble about inclusiveness and comprehension, and not until!