Wednesday, June 10, 2009

These are a few of my favorite ...


"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." -- Desmond Tutu

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.” -- Adlai E. Stevenson

"I'm so glad Mary didn't wait for the formulation of a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'Yes' to God." -- Ed Bacon

“Justice is the corporate face of God’s love.” – John Hines

“Faith is what you’re willing to die for. Dogma is what you’re willing to kill for.” – Robert Shahan

“History belongs to the intercessors, who believe the future into being.” – Walter Wink

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Nothing changes the past. Everything changes the future.” – Joan Chittister


Brian F said...

Susan - thank you for your post of your favourite quotations. There are two that I would take exception to however. Firstly on Ed Bacon and Mary, I fear that he has got it around the wrong way - it is because Mary said yes to God that we now have a doctrine of the incarnation according to the account in Luke's gospel 1:26-35, whereby we can know from the apostle's teaching (or doctrine or dogma, whichever word you prefer to use) that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, both fully human and fully divine. Without that historical fact and the ensuing doctrine, our Christian faith falls into a heap.

Secondly, about Shahan and faith/dogma. He sets up a false dichotomy between faith and dogma, or doctrine or teaching. No belief system in the world is devoid of a body of teaching which defines that faith system. Doctrine or dogma, are both related to the same word Greek word didache, and come from the Latin doctrina, simply means teaching. Is teaching bad? Of course not, otherwise we wouldn't send our kids to school or to Sunday School. Teaching in the church informs Christians about what we believe and why we believe. It is part of being transformed in our minds to acknowledge the truth of God and his ways, and to rationally and reasonably discern his will for us (Rom 12:2-3). Faith without teaching, doctrine or dogma is a faith devoid of understanding, and is irrational. If you are an ordained minister, then at some point in your career you will be involved in teaching others about your faith, as I am. That is labelled unfortunately as in"doctrin"ation by those who might disagree with what we teach, but nonetheless, it is teaching the basic foundations of the Christian faith, which distinguish Christianity from other belief systems. Does that mean I am motivated to kill someone if they reject my teaching? Of course not, how utterly absurd and utterly unbiblical, ungoldy, unChristian. It does mean however, that if I am willing to die for my faith, then I am doing so rationally and reasonably, because my faith has been informed by my doctrine. Some others however may be willing to kill other people for their faith (ie radical fundamentalist Muslim per 9/11) and that is because their faith is informed by erroneous doctrine. In their case both their faith and their doctrine are wrong.

I do wish you would stop perpetuating this false dichotomy between faith and dogma, as if teaching the faith is unnecessary and even undesirable. This quotation is actually quite antithetical to authentic Christianity.

LGMarshall said...

Thank you Brian F. for your Biblical Christian perspective. I'm praying that Ed Bacon will follow Mary's example and also say 'Yes' to God.

Re Faith/Dogma....there are plenty of examples in God's Word where the Faithful followers were asked to kill... so that argument goes out the window too. Is it always wrong to kill? Of course not -- that's absurd.

Men can utter useful & clever sayings and they may hold some weight, but, I would never bet my life on them.

It's telling that Susan didn't include any of God's 'quotes' in her favourite sayings.


"God's Quotes?"

You mean Her literal words from the inerrant Canon of Holy Scripture?

You're kidding, right?

(And ... in point of fact ... I consider God to be ably quoted in the words of Martin King, etc.)

Onward and upward ...

IT said...

Oh, come now Susan.

Everyone knows God spoke plain English.


uffda51 said...

But Brian, why is it that so many conservatives refuse to admit that dogma, or doctrine, or teaching, changes over time?

Dogma changed after Paul, after Constantine, after Nicea, after Luther, after the American Revolution, after the Civil War, after Vatican II, and on and on. It will continue to do so.

There is a direct line between the faithful and God. Sometimes, however, the faithful have obscured God with dogma.

David said...

Susan - Thank you for these! Dr. King's is one of my favorites as it remains so applicable and is a reminder the constant call of God to us to make justice a reality.

I lifted three of them to add to my Facebook page. I believe Sr Joan's may be my favorite!

Brian F said...

LGMarshall - I believe also that there is a place for killing in warfare, if that war is well supported by the international community to preserve justice in the world and to defeat evil. We just need to be so cautious in how we define evil and to honestly assess how severe a risk it presents, while always acknowledging that evil always exists in this fallen world, before we embark into warfare.

I would not extend that "permission to kill" though to allow me to kill anyone to preserve my faith or religion or to enforce anyone else to accept my faith and religion. Killing abortion doctors for example is not called for, despite the utter abhorrence of abortion. The weapon?/tool/instrument Christians are to use to overcome evil or to promote truth, righteousness, peace and goodness in our community is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, not perverted as it is by some false teachers.

And uffda51 - institutions may change their doctrine as much and as often as they like, but if the church changes its doctrine to such an extent that it departs from the teaching of the apostles and prophets, as ECUSA seems to be in the process of doing, (see note below) then it ceases to be a Christian organisation, because it has shifted to a different foundation (ref Eph 2:20)

1. as it redefines the nature of God ("Her" susan? - I don't suppose that you would mind being called Mr Russell then?), or the person and work of Christ including his incarnation, atoning death, bodily resurrection and glorious return - I am referring to the work and writings of the Jesus Seminar including John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, which seems to have well penetrated the seminaries of ECUSA and changed people's understanding of who Jesus is, and significantly diverted the church's teaching away from the apostolic witness in other areas of human sexuality and ethics as well.


Brian F ... the "nature of God" involves testosterone? Really?

Wow ... the things you learn on blogs.

As for the Mr. Russell, actually, it's Rev. Russell. Thanks for asking.

Brian F said...

Dear Susan - if it doesn't bother you to dishonour God by refusing to refer to Him as He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture, then why do you get so precious about the way others might refer to you? Are you greater than God? And BTW, I never mentioned anything about testosterone, since I don't believe that the sex hormones of either gender are applicable to God. According to Gen 1:26-27 both human genders, male and female were created by Him in His image. So obviously God's "He"ness is not to do with the male sexual identity, since females have equal status with males of being created in His image. Yet God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to reveal Himself to us using the masculine pronoun. Who are we to reassign Him to being her?


Brian ... Bless your heart. Today is actually my day off so I'm just going to acknowledge your taking time to post and then get on with my day.

(She said, sipping her coffee from her "God Is Not A Boy's Name" coffee mug.)

Suffice to say, since I don't buy the "in His infinite wisdom He revealed Himself" part, the rest of your argument doesn't hold.

Have a great weekend,though.

WilliamK said...

Yet God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to reveal Himself to us using the masculine pronoun. Who are we to reassign Him to being her?

Right, indeed! How dare Mother Susan refer to God using feminine terminology! Why, she's doing just like that arch-heretic, St. Augustine of Hippo, who wrote, "Deus mater est, quia fovet et nutrit et lactat et continet" (Exposition of Ps. 26.2.18, PL 36:208). How dare he have done such a thing???? And then there was that revisionist, St. Anselm of Canterbury, who penned this prayer: "But thou also Jesus, good Lord, art thou not also Mother? ... Truly, Lord, thou art also Mother.... Thou, therefore, soul, dead of thyself, run under the wings of Jesus thy Mother and bewail under her wings thy afflictions. Beg that she heal thy wounds, and that healed she may restore thee to life. Mother Christ, who gatherest thy chicks under thy wings, this dead chick of thine puts himself under thy wing" (Oratio ad Sanctum Paulum, PL 158:981f.). What blasphemy!!!! How dare St. Anselm refer to Jesus as "she"???!!!

What's the world coming to when Anglicans refer to God the way St. Augustine and St. Anselm did?

WilliamK ... running under the wings of Mother Jesus

(Enjoy your day off, Mother Susan!)

uffda51 said...

Could it be, Brian, that an ancient patriarchal society created a god in its own image? Can the ground of all being be reduced to a pronoun? Can the peace that passes all understanding be reduced to pearly gates, streets of gold, and harp-playing angels?

Brian R said...

Brian F is a priest in the diocese of North West Australia. It is a huge diocese in area but only has 18 parishes. It is supported by the homophobic GAFCON diocese of Sydney and a large number of its priests (Not Brian F) were trained there.
Its Bishop David Mulready (originally from Sydney) said in an interview.
"Women are prohibited from leadership in the Anglican Church, he said, because the Bible says so.

He quoted this passage, from Paul’s first Letter to Timothy: “Women should learn in silence and all humility. I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men; they must be quiet.” The passage goes on to say: “For Adam was created first, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God’s law.”

But he adds kindly: “But a woman will be saved through having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”
He boycotted the installation of Australia's first women bishop (in his own province) last year and has announced she will not be allowed to officially visit his diocese. He claimed it was the first step on the ladder towards gay priests.
Some of the parishes in Sydney (so I assume also in NW Australia) do not allow women to speak (even read the lessons) if men are present.
It is a wonder Brian F does not feel he is made impure by just visit Rev Susan Russell's blog. His view of the nature of God relegates all his views to the dark ages but then I thank the previous comment for informing me that even in those times some of the divines were far more enlightened.
The sooner these types leave the Anglican communion the better in my opinion.


Goodness me! Context may not be EVERYTHING, but it's certainly on the list!

Thanks for the "back story," Brian (R)!!!

MarkBrunson said...

Brian F is a priest in the diocese of North West Australia.

And has an unhealthy need to meddle in TEC . . . in which he still has no say.

It must gall him to not be able to put you in your place, Mother Susan.

Brian F said...

Thankyou Brian R for that attempted exposure of me on Susan's blog. I would appreciate if you had contacted me prior to making erroneous allegations against me. If you had, you would have learned that I regularly have women reading the bible in our services, and leading us in intercessory prayer, and involved in a number of other ministries in the parish, which I highly value, and would appreciate your prayers for their success.

Furthermore, I do regard Susan as a fellow sister in Christ - why should I feel impure by visiting Susan's blog? Are we not all sanctified by the Holy Spirit as He dwells in us, so our purity is not determined as the Pharisees believed by who we associate (or communicate) with.

And WilliamK - while Augustine and St Anselm wrote some great things, they were not infallible - they were not divinely inspired as the prophets and apostles were. And anyway, Paul refers to himself as being like a nursing mother to the Thessalonians (1 Thess 2:7), but clearly he was male and not at all confused about his gender identity, nor did he have gender reassignment surgery for a few verses. Clearly some passages of the Bible must be taken metaphorically - and maybe that's what Augustine and St Anslem were doing in the passages you quoted. All of us have to engage our brains when interpreting the Scriptures, and I for one do not take everything written in the Bible literally. However, that does not give us a licence for referring to Jesus as Mother as PB Schori has done without any context, or for referring to God as Her just to stir up offence among the brethren.

And uffda51 - if the god we worship was created by an patriarchal community then He is no god at all (how could such a god raise a man crucified dead and buried to new life?), and we are all wasting our time here. I could be earning a fortune doing other things in my previous career.

uffda51 said...

I doubt if PB Schori refers to God as “Her” just to stir up offence among the brethren. I suspect she is trying to remind us of the all-encompassing nature of the God who created and loves us all.

Conservatives believe that women should not be priests because none of the apostles were women. Nor were any of the apostles Irish

BrianF, could you tell us about the day when you chose the faith tradition in which you would be born? (Was it the same day you chose your sexual orientation?) Does God determine before birth which souls will be born into the One True Religion and which will be condemned to Hell for all eternity?

Are our choices in life really reduced only to “my God is greater than your God” versus “earning a fortune?”

WilliamK said...

Father Brian (F),
I believe you misunderstood the point I was making in my post. I was pointing out that Mother Susan's use of a femine pronoun to refer to God,and PB Jefferts Schori's reference to "Mother Jesus," are not modern "politically correct" innovations; rather, they draw on and reflect deep and authentic sources in our tradition.

I was certainly not claiming infallibility for either St. Augustine or St. Anselm (I happen to disagree with both of them on several issues); I was citing them to indicate that MEN of undisputed orthodoxy in our tradition felt comfortable referring to God and Our Lord Jesus using feminine language. Like those saints, I'm not a strict "biblicist"; I don't think what we say and believe must be limited only to what the Bible itself says. I accept Holy Tradition ... and referring to God using feminine language is part of Holy Tradition... just as referring to God as a Trinity is! If you reject Holy Tradition, that's "okay"; but surely you do understand that we are now replaying one of the good old tensions in Anglicanism? I get it. You're an "Evangelical." Father, I'm not... as my address to you as "Father" probably signals!

I'm not sure I understand what you are claiming when you refer to confusion about gender, gender reassignment, etc. ... unless you really are taking the masculine language about God that is dominant (but not exclusively so) in Scripture LITERALLY? To quote Scripture, "God is not a man." Any anthropomorphic language used of Her is necessarily metaphorical. To say otherwise is to embrace paganism, which had genuinely male and female deities who were genuinely sexual (think randy Zeus and virginal Athena). Referring to God as "She" is not about subjecting God to sex-reassignment surgery. It is a case of using a different metaphor to broaden our understanding of how God relates to us and we relate to God. That's exactly what St. Augustine and St. Anselm were doing ... not to mention Blessed Julian of Norwich (whom PB Jefferts Schori was drawing on in her sermon), and (as I recently learned) the late Pope John Paul I, who early in his lamentably brief pontificate said, "God is also Mother."

When I refer to God as "She" I am not thereby asserting that God IS female. I genuinely hope that when you refer to God as "He" you are not thinking of God as male.

...or for referring to God as Her just to stir up offence among the brethren.

I really don't think it is appropriate to attribute motives to people you don't really know. In any event, I must confess that I had a chuckle at "offence among the brethren"! I wondered, what about the "sistern"???!!! But, seriously, this IS the problem that is being challenged by Mother Susan, PB Jefferts Schori, and others who advocate for inclusive and expansive language to refer to people and God: the tendency of traditional Christianity (so far) to make MALES the primary focus and essential default in all things. Yes, I know, "brethren" is a biblical expression. But I don't believe we must be limited to the language of Scripture, especially if slavish use of it actually goes against what Scripture actually affirms. As Scripture itself says, "The Letter kills; the Spirit gives life." If our language excludes, thereby stirring up offense among the brothers and sisters, then we ought to change it... and we can do so fully in accord with our deep and rich tradition.

May God our Mother encourage, nourish, nurse, and hold you.


P.S. My verification word is "nolis". Some message in that, I think???

Brian F said...

WilliamK - just because other saints in the past have referred to God as "Her" or Jesus as "Mother" in the past does not make them right in doing so, or make us right in following them, if it has no Biblical support. There are and have been many things in the church's tradition which have erroneously crept into the church against Biblical revelation, and need to be weeded out. The Protestant church is a reforming church, always examining our practices and traditions in the light of Scripture, NOT in the light of our present cultural context. If you hold to all things in earlier traditions, then do you still practice or believe in selling indulgences? if not, why not? It's in the tradition.

I don't have a problem with inclusive language where it is appropriate - for example in many places in Scripture, "men" are referred to when "people" is what is meant - therefore the biblical translators ought to use "people". Similarly with "brothers" - and I wondered if brethren was a more gender neutral term rather than brothers or sisters, since there is no corresponding word which is explicitly feminine. Other times however, men are specifically referred because it is the males who need to be addressed. Therefore that ought to be preserved. Again, I do not accept that such gender neutral langauge can be applied to God when he has chosen to reveal himself to us in the masculine - not because he is a man, but because that is what he has done.


"... God when he has chosen to reveal himself to us in the masculine - not because he is a man, but because that is what he has done."

Really? And the fact that only men had the power to control the language and how the story of that reveleation was recorded didn't have any influence at all?

My, My, My!

Take two Phyllis Tribles and one Rosemary Radford Reuther and call me in the morning!

WilliamK said...

Brian F wrote:
...just because other saints in the past have referred to God as "Her" or Jesus as "Mother" in the past does not make them right in doing so, or make us right in following them, if it has no Biblical support.

Okay; "Biblical support":

"...and God's Spirit hovered/brooded over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2) ... the noun (ruach) AND the verb (merachefet) are FEMININE: God the Holy Spirit is designated with a grammatically feminine noun and verb in the second verse of Scripture.

This is just ONE of several examples of feminine language used of God in Scripture.

WilliamK said...

P.S. ....

St. Anselm was inspired by this verse of Scripture in his prayer that I quoted:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Matt 23:37)

The Bible's God-metaphors are rich and complex, and the Spirit urges us to draw from this deep well. I believe we should heed Her call!

LGMarshall said...

"God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit" -- sounds Paternal to me. And I believe there is a GOOD reason for God to present Himself in the way He has chosen to.

Do I know what that reason is?? No, I don't.

... but I'm willing to set aside my feminist upbringing and accept the reality of what is.

There is something different about LOVE from the FATHER.... perhaps bloggers should expound on the differences of Fatherly Love & Motherly Love?

For me.... since we are born of woman... that Love is a 'given'. Maybe when the Father Loves us --- that carries an extra ever deepening type of love, that allows us to Grow up and Thrive in this Fallen World? (Of course our Mothers loved us!) Would the parable of the Prodigal Son have the same impact (on women or men), if the repentent Son ran into the arms of his Mother?

I have an unproven theory -- Fatherly love (or lack thereof) , has far an above more impact on our lives than Motherly love (or lack thereof).

Again... It's not arbitrary that God has given us the Father & the Son -- it's what we can relate to most, and it's what is best for our development into the Servants he asks us to be.

MarkBrunson said...

If you keep arguing with Fyffe and Marshall you are simply prolonging the fallacy that they have a valid point. That's doing no service to them.

WilliamK said...

If you keep arguing with Fyffe and Marshall you are simply prolonging the fallacy that they have a valid point. That's doing no service to them.

It must be nice to know with such certainty who has a valid point and who doesn't.

I'm afraid I don't have such certainty....

MarkBrunson said...

It must be nice to know with such certainty who has a valid point and who doesn't.

It is.

A lot of it comes from the realization that you can keep your mind too open and your brain'll fall slap out!

WilliamK said...

One thing I am fairly certain about: arrogant conservatives and arrogant liberals are... arrogant.

MarkBrunson said...

Here's another couple of certainties for you:

Humility that is certain of it's righteousness, is a false humility.

Arrogance sees arrogance in others' certainty.

Tolerance of evil - particularly for the sake of being seen as a "good guy" - is to cooperate with evil.