Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Proclamation for the Episcopal Church

"So what exactly is "Claiming the Blessing" going to DO at General Convention?" is a really good question -- and here's the really good answer: the "hot off the presses" Claiming the Blessing Platform just crafted by the CTB Steering Committee meeting in conjunction with members of the Integrity Board in Beautiful Downtown Columbus.

Claiming the Blessing Platform
A Proclamation for the Episcopal Church

The Claiming the Blessing (CTB) Steering Committee is an all-volunteer committee representing a broad constituency of progressive Episcopal voices. Members are LGBT and straight, lay and ordained, old and young –all with a deep love of The Episcopal Church and a firm commitment to classic Anglicanism.

As baptized Christians, we commit our lives to:
· the celebration of the goodness of all creatures and creation as given to us by God;
· our relationship with Jesus the Christ;
· the discernment of truth as revealed in Holy Scripture and the work of the Spirit;
· the indivisibility of spirituality, prayer and politics as modeled by the prophets and apostles;
· peace with justice as proclaimed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
· truth and reconciliation as articulated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu;
· the vision of the Beloved Community as revealed in the table fellowship of Jesus.

We come to the 2006 General Convention in Columbus compelled to communicate our identity, articulate our beliefs and convey our sense of call to prophetic action and pastoral presence.

Therefore, we call the Church to:
· Work for full civil marriage equality.
· Clarify our theology of marriage, family and human sexuality.
· Oppose the limitation of adoption and other civil contracts on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity and expression.
· Study the role of clergy as civil magistrates in marriage.
· Reaffirm the sacredness of long-term committed relationships, as articulated in D039” “We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.” (GC 2000)
· Authorize the development of liturgical rites of blessings where civil marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships are a reality, and elsewhere.
· Support universal domestic partnership benefits.
· Affirm human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide.
· Work for an end to the violence against LGBT people throughout the global village.
· Engage the international community in a listening process which includes the active voices and full presence of LGBT people.
· Embrace a theology of abundance; reject the theology of scarcity, fear and scapegoating; and commit ourselves to proclaim and live the good news of Christ Jesus.
· Reaffirm that all orders of ministry are open to all the Baptized who are otherwise qualified.
· Establish as church policy the commitment not to meet in those places where justice and liberation for all God’s children, including LGBT people, are absent in state law or local ordinance.

For the Claiming the Blessing Steering Committee: Peggy Adams, J. Edwin Bacon, Jr., Cynthia Black, John Clinton Bradley, Kim Byham, Louie Crew, Cy Deavours, Lyn Headley-Deavours, Ethan Vesely-Flad, Michael Hopkins, Elizabeth Kaeton, John Kirkley, Joseph Lane, Christine Mackey-Mason, Susan Russell, Jason Samuel, Katie Sherrod, John Simonelli, Jim White


Anonymous said...

Susan, you are doing something that is not approved by the worldwide communion. Go to the Unitarian church. Get lost.

Anonymous said...

"An inch at a time" try a "lickin at a time". You are sick individual.

Anonymous said...

I am sure your family is so ashamed of you. Promoting something that the Catholic Church has has fits with for years. Reminding myself not to leave my daughter alone with you. You need to be arrested and put away.

Anonymous said...

The Episcopal Church will fold before the ever pass something that stupid. Have you ever read the Bible?

Anonymous said...

If you think that the Anglican Communion is going to accept "your agenda" think again. The Anglican Communion is about to crack down on people like you. If I were you I would be looking for another job or better yet another religion.

Anonymous said...

You are nothing more than a "common whore".

Anonymous said...

Good grief. Go to church amd get some Christian attitudes and humility you guys, whoever you are.

I belong to a sizeable, front line orthodox parish in a liberal diocese which has a real vested interest in preserving the faith. I never have heard trash talk like some the stuff above, we take it too seriously, and we argue in a Christian context.

Integrity may be angry, pompous and self delusional, but you all sound like idiots too.

Right now, as I post this, I think you deserve each other.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am conservative and would favor actions like defrocking or excommunicating some of the LGBT folks, but the insults found here go against Christian charity.

Being nice is not the same thing as being loving. But the remarks on here are just disgusting. On behalf of my conservative brothers and sisters I ask your forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am conservative and would favor actions like defrocking or excommunicating some of the LGBT folks, but the insults found here go against Christian charity.

Being nice is not the same thing as being loving. But the remarks on here are just disgusting. On behalf of my conservative brothers and sisters I ask your forgiveness Susan.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the above posters are, but they are not traditional Christians.

I am a conservative Christian - theologically, politically, and socially. I do not agree with Integrity's or Claiming the Blessing's agenda. However, I think the hate and sickness I see above is worse. Try to argue in reasoned tones with the love of God in your post. Belitteling or debasing your oponent only shows that you do not know Jesus Christ.


Anonymous said...

A few of you have tried to say that the comments here are not representative of traditional Christians. Oh no. Oh no indeed. In my experience, and that of many others, they are entirely representative of traditional Christians. People who are gay and Lesbian, people who have gay and Lesbian children, relatives, or friends have all heard such comments many, many times from "traditional Christians." There's even a post up on TitusOneNine calling for better comments here, and look what this post gets. Look in the mirror, you so-called "orthodox," in this season of repentance. Do you like what you see?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Susan Russell vigorously, but the first ten commnents include some of hte most vile responses I have ever seen, and they only reinforce the concerns of those who seek to have homosexual relations normalized. I am embarrassed by them.

But I will add that this agenda will likely lead to ECUSA being expelled from the Anglican Communion.

I have no idea why "Claiming the Blessing" calls itself a group of "classical Anglicans." Apart from their homosexual agenda, most of those who affirm the aims of Claiming the Blessing deny the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord and reduce the cross of Christ to something like an example of love and of soldarity with mortal human beings -- much less than what the New Testament as a whole teaches, and what Jesus himself said. It is also not at uncommon to find the doctrine of the Trinity reduced to modalism. If they were classical Anglicans, they wold uphold the 1662 Prayer Book, including the Thirty Nine Articles and the vows undertaken at ordination.

Is the "classical Anglicanism" espoused by Claiming the Blessing merely a preference for a liturgical style of worship, a delight in vestments, and what they to believe to be a high view of the Sacraments? I wonder...

Anonymous said...

Whoops! My first line should say I DISAGREE with Susan Russell vigorously. (I should preview...)

Shane said...

I think this is perhaps the most depressing set of comments I have ever read. I do not support the CTB platform, but I would support excommunicating the vituperative, hateful people who have left comments here. My prayers for you, Susan and Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

The general tone of the comments here leaves me breathless and almost speechless. If Christ came back today, I do believe some of these folks would crucify him all over again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much to the above posters who tried to bring some "salt and light" to the discussion.
Susan, from what I have read and seen of your "ministry", it is clear to me that you are not in agreement on the authority of scripture with the vast majority of Christians.
More to the point, please don't make any "proclamations" on behalf of the Episcopal Church. You don't speak for most of us, and unfortunately (considering your profession) you don't seem to have been given "ears to hear."
I won't apologize on behalf of the sue barners and jack loebs of the world, because I don't believe that we share a common faith either.
It is interesting how, on an orthodox site, such as T19, the comments (even in strong disagreement) are so intelligently and even humorously presented, but on site such as this, the devil has an absolute field day, on both sides of the fence.

Anonymous said...

Sorry--the above post is mine. I did not mean to leave an anonymous comment.

Anonymous said...

I am pasting in Richard Kew's take on the general position of CTB

A New Thing?
By the Rev Richard Kew
Several weeks ago I wrote a piece about the theological vacuum that there is among those who believe the whole issue of rethinking our understanding of human sexuality is of God. As I have before, I asked at that time if anyone could come up with an adequate theological response to orthodoxy, and as usual, there has been a resounding silence. I guess it should not surprise me because few 'reappraisers' visit this blog, but stuff does get around on the Internet and I had hoped that somehow or other it would get into the in-box of some of those leading this charge away from received biblical values.
However, I have raised the issue with one or two 'progressive' friends, and it would appear that the only approach they can come up with that gives them permission to move forward is that God is doing a new thing. That is, to assert that God is doing something that is above and beyond anything that has ever happened before in the history of monotheism, outside the canon of Scripture, and having little to do with the on going tradition and life of the church.
What this allows for is an end run on the last 4,000 years or so, and seems to obviate any need for a response to careful historical analysis, and the mindset of the church catholic through the ages. It also obviates any need to respond to careful and disciplined theological analysis that makes it very clear that a revisionist understanding of sexuality has no place in the Christian story.
The manifesto in the Episcopal Church of those who are going down the path that God might be doing a new thing is a document that was presented to the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham, England, last year, and which goes by the unlikely title of To Set Our Hope on Christ. Shallow and thoroughly postmodern in its approach toward Scripture, it asserts that "For almost forty years, members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and, have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions" (TSOHOC 2.0). It believes that this is the gift that we have to offer the rest of the world.
It is not my intention to respond to this document, although obviously I find it totally lacking, but to move forward to discuss the wider implications of what it means for God to be doing a new thing like this in our midst.
First of all, we have to get a clear answer to the question why God has broken completely will all precedent that was set by... God! If we are to be Trinitarian Christians believing in the God who has revealed himself, then it is essential that we accept that this deity is eternal, almighty, and immutable. This means that God was, is, and always will be unchanging and changeless, and that in this Almighty God we live and move and have our being.
This also means that what we believe (and have always believed) about this God and God's self-revelation is either wrong, or was revelation just for a limited period of time and now has been superceded. This would mean that we are part of some kind of evolutionary continuum, and not only have we evolved 'upward' but so has God.
This further means, therefore, that if God is doing a new thing, then God is a process rather than all the things that Christians have declared him to be since 325 AD and the Council of Nicea. If this God is always changing, developing, and altering, because we are always changing, developing, and altering, then this God is becoming a different God than the One he used to be. It is also to say that those who are in the know, gnostics if you like, have a better idea of who God is and what God is up to than the whole of the rest of world Christianity.
To say that God is doing a new thing is an attempt to totally sidestep revelation and all our Christian past in favor of an untried and untested future. It also raises such huge questions that it soon becomes apparent that this solution to a profound theological dilemma is actually no solution at all, unless you want to abandon all that the church believes about God, and start again from scratch. It is to happily declare ourselves out of step and out of communion with the whole Christian faith tradition of the last two millennia. This is nothing less than chronological arrogance that flies in the face of To Set Our Hope On Christ's protestations of humility.
That these 'progressives' are prepared to go to such lengths illustrates that not only does the left not understand precisely what it means to be human and made in the image of God, but also that they have totally lost touch with the nature of the triune God in whose image we have supposedly been made (Genesis 1:27, Mark 10:5-9). This is perhaps the most supreme example of cutting off your nose to spite your face, or of demolishing the whole building in which your apartment is located for fear that your home will be repossessed!
Looking at the history of the church, there has been a steady stream of those who have pronounced that God is doing a new thing going back as far as Montanus, a prophetic individual from Asia Minor at the end of the Second Century. His prophecies were claimed to be of a higher order than what God had already revealed, and were finally declared suspect. There were also a variety of strange practices and values attached to the Montanists.
It would seem that a good few of these movements of new or higher revelation have a sexual component to them. Somewhere within them there are individuals who chafe under biblical standards of sexual morality. We have certainly seen this in plenty of 20th Century groups who have made such claims. And here we have such a claim being made again, except this time instead of being on the fringes it is in the heart of the established churches.
I actually had an experience of this phenomenon early in my ministry. In the early 1970s as the charismatic renewal was cranking up and from America's West Coast came the Jesus Movement, I was the assistant on the staff of a young and dynamic parish in North London. A Jesus Movement group had found its way to London and began preying on our fairly large and lively congregation of teens and twenties. This group was then known as the Children of God.
The Children of God had been founded by a Christian Missionary Alliance pastor who subsequently took for himself the name Moses David. He had been a plain vanilla evangelical minister, but as the phenomenon went forward he began receiving revelations which resulted in the Children of God moving away from revealed Christianity. In a relatively short time they went from being a quirky but basically orthodox outfit, to being something entirely different.
Among the revelations that Moses David had was one that opened the doors for a different kind of sexuality. Certainly, his own appetites were met by a variety of women, and not long after this, supposedly under the guidance of God, they launched their "flirty fish" initiative which based upon the teaching of Jesus that he would make his followers fishers of men, sent out a bevy of pretty young women into the streets to offer their bodies to men as evangelistic outreach.
For more than a year I lived in proximity to this group, and the problems and damage that they did in the lives of individuals. Indeed, one young woman who had gone off and joined the group for a while until her parents abducted her, lived with us for many months, so we were up very close to all that was going on among these people.
If God is doing something new, then I suggest that those who adhere to this notion rather than ignoring objections to their position should provide solid and strong justification for it that item by item, issue by issue tells us clearly why God's nature has changed, and why God's nature even needs to change. We need evidence, we need hard facts, we need solid research and clear spiritual insights to help us grasp the kind of new thing that God might be doing because God's nature is in a process of evolution. Those asserting that a new thing is taking place are the ones who are obligated to clear away without reason of doubt objections to their position, not vice-versa.
We haven't received this, and certainly To Set Our Hope On Christ does not provide anything but the most tentative grounds for accepting this huge sea change that is being claimed is taking place. This is what I might call as a result of my experience Moses Davidism.
In effect, what I am being asked to do as I climb the mountain of faith is to change midstream to untried and untested equipment. Not only that, but I am being asked to put my whole weight on some new kind of rope that was designed by someone who has never done any research on why the old one doesn't work as well as it should. Sorry, I'm just not in the business of doing such a thing.
Posted by Richard Kew @ 3/20/2006 09:39:00 AM

Anonymous said...

Just some minor nits to pick.

"... some of those leading this charge away from received biblical values." A charge away from biblical or scriptural values isn't necessarily bad. Jesus led a charge away from received Torah values.

What is there about "the mindset of the church catholic through the ages" that exempts it from the same kind of criticism given to the mindset of the Jewish temple establishment through the ages by the prophets and to the pharisees by Jesus?

"... it is essential that we accept that this deity is eternal, almighty, and immutable." Really? So all the times documented in scripture when God changed God's mind are not really there? But isn't the Bible inerrant?

"... this solution to a profound theological dilemma is actually no solution at all, unless you want to abandon all that the church believes about God, and start again from scratch." Why is it when faced with a question to one part of an argument that certain minds insist on seeing the whole thing as flawed. E=m(c squared) doesn't entirely invalidate f=ma, only at certain, hard to achieve (for us) extremes.

"... there has been a steady stream of those who have pronounced that God is doing a new thing going back as far as Montanus ..." What about Isaiah et al?

These are enough to document that this article by Kew is so full of fallacious argument as to make it resemble a wheel of Swiss cheese. Mind you, they don't prove the contrary either. But they do establish that Kew certainly doesn't have the last word.

Anonymous said...

Susan: As ugly as they are, I hope you'll leave up those initial comments, as they are illustrative of the mindset of some of those on the conservative side of this issue.

Anonymous said...

Susan--You will know from the administrative tools on your blog where some of the dreadful early comments came from. You know that leaders on every level of the conservative "side" in ECUSA would condemn such comments.

While I couldn't disagree more with your/CTB's aims, I'm pretty sure we could have a fair argument over coffee/tea/whatever.

I'll look for you in Columbus.

Signed: An ECUSA rector and anonymous (for reasons you would understand) blogger.


My goodness! What a lot of energy to come back to after a sabbath away from cyber-land! While I am tempted to delete some of the more "polemic" comments at this point I'm erring on leaving them as illustrative of the challenge we face right now in dealing with those who are angry-unto-incivility (which was, ironically and absolutely on the list of "venial sins" when I was growing up in the Episcopal Church!)

I'll admit to being amused by the suggestion on another blog that the comments were "manufactured" -- #1: Like I havetime and #2: This is the sort of stuff that shows up in my inbox all the time. I just count it the cost of discipleship and try to move on.

I am interested that at one suggestion that it was possible to track back comment sources through the blogger dashboard. I'll admit to not enough techno-savy to know how to do that but would be happy to hear from someone who does. Would make, perhaps, an interesting forensic exercise.

Meanwhile, I'm proud to among the twenty-some contributors to the Claiming the Blessing "platform" and particularly appreciative of those who do NOT support our "agenda" for sharing in the distress that such hateful responses to theological differences have shockingly become acceptable in some quarters.

Onward and upward

Anonymous said...

Where are these comments from? It's no mystery. These vile comments are Titusonenine unmasked and unmoderated. I've been on "Titus watch" for some time now and have seen how mean and nasty those orthodox can get. On some posts, one wonders how they dare call themselves Christian. They hate gays. They are scared to death of losing their white, male privilege. Oh, they claim to love the sinner and hate the sin, but that's an outright lie. Many of the posters....and there are about 20 hardcore who have nothing better to do than post every day....are clegy. At least they have the "+" after their names....and they are the nastiiest of all. One has written he wants all the gays out of the church. Another wrote with glee that his sole purpose these days was to destroy the brand of the Episcopal church. And, the comments got so bad that it started to reflect on Kendall Harmon himself. When he realized how vicious his lemmings can be, he went to a moderated forum.

But, birds of a feather continue to flock at T19. They allow no comments presenting another point of view. I've even know someone who was bannned from the sight because he offered an opposing voice. But, they have shown their true feathers here and it's not a pretty sight.

And, it makes many of us wonder why we would even want to be in the same church with them...let alone share a pew. Let their theology rule the nasty little minds of those people who can't think for themselves. Being orthodox means they have to give up their right to think for themselves. How sad and how scarey.

Worse than scarey is their preoccupation with comments above. The T19 boys are always speculating about sex. One has to question their motives there. Conservative Christianity is all about penis power. Now that the T19 boys are here, unleashed, you are in for a nasty ride. Put on your seatbelt!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree that the devil is having a good time with all sides here.

And Susan has decided to leave the 3 gross posts up to stoke the fire.

Onward and upward indeed. What irony.

Jake said...

I suspect those first few comments are children with too much time on their hands. I'd ban them anyway, for the greater good. If they get away with "drive by" posts, it will just encourage such anti-social behavior.

But, I do acknowledge your point about letting the world see such a blatant manifestation of homophobia. It affirms the need to call the Church to "work for an end to the violence against LGBT people throughout the global village."

Including the adoption issue is a good move. It looks like that is developing as one of the latest batch of "wedge issues".

And the role of clergy as civil magistrates...about time someone questioned that!

Human rights worldwide...are you listening Abp. Akinola?

A good proclamation...thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Beyond Reconciliation --

Can you quote some of those horrendous postings from T19? I read it regularly, and while I have seen a few nasty comments from time to time there, these are hardly the norm. Of course, if you take any disagreement with the idea of total acceptance of homosexuality as an abusive comment, you could be right -- but to make the first few comments on this item equivalent with even polite disagreement is really stretching things.

There is one poster at EVN who is consistently nasty with anyone who upholds the historic view of sexual ethics. Is EVN therefore a wicked site?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

T19 is a moderated site. That means that any posting deemed offensive by the "elves" can be deleted; posters who regularly offend can automatically be screened from posting. However, even with this system in place sometimes a truly offensive message slips through. You may have missed them; I have seen them. (They usually get removed in quick order.) This site doesn't have the filter turned on, so anyone can post anonymously. And when the veil is removed, this is what you see.

C S Lewis once observed that if you want to know if you have rats in the cellar you don't come in stamping around and making a lot of noise: you come in quietly and turn on the lights. Nothing, after all, will remain hidden; all will be revealed in the end.

I have far greater disagreement, however, with your statement "most of those who affirm the aims of Claiming the Blessing deny the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord and reduce the cross of Christ to something like an example of love and of soldarity with mortal human beings." This is a common assertion among the "reasserters" as Kendall has dubbed the conservative wing. Where, however, is the evidence for this assertion, beyond mere anectodotal evidence that some "reappraisers" (again using Kendall's language) are also "liberal" on some other matters of theology.

In my experience -- to which I must defer in the absence of some authentic survey or data -- those who support these changes in church policy are orthodox Christians. I would suggest Rowan Williams himself as a prime example: he has made it quite clear that his personal views on these matters are being set to one side in the interest of "unity" (and whether this is a wise decision or not remains to be seen). Few would accuse him of being anything less than orthodox, I hope.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your sharing of this proclamation. For me it is fully inspired by Jesus' images of the Kingdom. The season of Lent is upon us and those who abhor the proclamation are seemingly called to a different kind interior process than I am called. That we worship one God and have such different callings is a mystery to me. Unfortunately, I no longer find myself able to experience a sense of Christian fellowship when I am the witness to these kinds of verbal attacks on my brothers and sisters. Am I correct in my understanding that these same Christian "apologists" are the enemies we are called to love? It is a daily, even moment by moment, challenge that I cannot seem to overcome.

Yeats' poem, The Second Coming, comes to mind:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Anonymous said...

To all of those above who posted the contemptible, mean spirited comments:
You can kick and scream all you want but eventually Gays & Lesbians will obtain their rights, not only the civil rights that we are entitled to as American citizens but also our rights/rites in the Episcopal Church. It is only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

Sing it with me now

"... And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love"

Anonymous said...

I hope and I pray that most of the Platform you advocate is rejected but I also pray that God would reveal to their authors the ugliness expressed in these hateful posts. One of your members once told me that it is not possible to love the sin and hate the sinner. I didn't believe it then and I still don't. Since then, my views remain unchanged that sexual intimacy belongs only within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman, but I have prayed for her and for her family and despite our differences, I respect her and her gifts.

Chip Webb said...

Father Haller,

I apologize if I'm mistaking you for someone else, but weren't you involved with "Let the Reader Understand" from 2002 (if I remember the title correctly)? I bring this up because I'm sure you're aware that the paper presents a view of Scripture that the orthodox do not accept, and that view of Scripture seems to be very common in ECUSA today. In what sense, then, can the majority of ECUSA bishops and priests be said to be orthodox?

Peace of Christ,

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Yes, I was one of the contributing authors to "Let the Reader Understand." I do know that some individuals have had trouble with this document, but most of their criticism is unfounded. LtRU is completely orthodox, and entirely based upon the Articles of Religion and the work of Richard Hooker. The only published review of it I'm aware of was in The Living Church -- hardly a liberal publication -- and the reviewer said, essentially, "this is just classical Anglicanism" and hence doesn't really solve the problem. (Of course, that wasn't our goal, which was simply to lay out the limits to which Scripture may be invoked in an Anglican setting.)

The only other critiques I am aware of are a piece by SEAD and Dr Witt which seriously misunderstands the document in important respects, but as I recall doesn't charge it with unorthodoxy; and one by a Dr. Sanders that wanders off into some very strange territory indeed!

Have you, by the way, read the document in question? If so, would you be willing to point out what is not orthodox about it? I'd be glad to discuss, perhaps in another forum. I can say that Bishops Grein and Sisk, who asked for it to be written, have heard from dozens of bishops from around the communion thanking them for it -- including several from the Global South.

Anonymous said...

Tobias -- I know that T19 is now a moderated forum -- but that has only been a few months. In the days before hand, there were occassional nasty comments posted, and, as I best remember, they were by reappraisers as often as they were by reasserters. And "beyond reconciliation" says that those who posted nasty things here are T19 posters -- how on earth does he know? I see no way to identify those who post anonymously, and I do not recognize the names of those who have posted here.

As for overall orthodoxy -- it is true that a person could take the historic positions on the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, and so on, and also say that homsexual activity is a good thing, in certain circumstances ("faithful"), in God's eyes. The thing is, if a person affirms homosexual activity as good and tries to get that idea out of Scripture, the method of Scriptural interpretation they must take will make all the classic doctrines vulnerable. If one applies the same standard of biblical interpretation to the other doctrines, they become "a wax nose," as the Reformers used to say -- utterly pliable.

In Susan Russell's post on John 3:16, she moves away from the historic interpretation of the passage to a universalist position, and she moves away from the cross as a place of atonement to merely an example of suffering with humanity. If I understand what she says about following Jesus, she says Jesus is our savior by his example, and the important thing is to live like he did.

I believe that a Christian needs to take Jesus as his or her example, but both believing about Jesus and believing like Jesus are important. She sets the two against each other, as though there were a choice, and the traditional choice is the wrong one.

I remember that when Matthew Fox was received as an Episcopal priest, Bp Swing vouched for Fox'x orthodoxy. Having read some of Fox, Bp Swing's comment did more to tell me about his lack of orthodoxy than it did to reassure me of Fox's orthodoxy. Those who affirm the goodness of homosexual activity often claim to be orthodox, but if they say what they actually believe, they have, very often, redefined the terms, so that what they say is not what the Apostles and Fathers (and Reformers) meant, even if they are using the same words.

Jake said...


Some day you may want to take a look at George Carey's book "I Believe." He speaks of five different ways to view atonement. "Jesus as our example", or, if you prefer, "the pioneer of our faith" is one of the five.

To suggest that "ransom for sin" is the ONLY orthodox understanding would be to contradict Carey, whom most people consider quite "orthodox."

When you gaze upon the cross, are you not drawn to consider the suffering of this world? It seems to me that one of the clear messages of the cross is that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Keep in mind, I'm not speaking of MY suffering; to make the cross nothing more than a symbol of "the God of my condition" would be to terribly twist the Good News, as would considering it being primarily about getting my personal ticket into heaven.

You don't like the message offered. Fine. But take care not to confuse your personal tastes with what is "orthodox" and what is not.

Anonymous said...

Jake and Tobias,

Try as you might, I cannot take seriously your totally beside the point contest as to who can prove who is or who is not "orthodox".

To paraphrase what +Spong said after the last GC -the Rubicon has been crossed.

In case you didn't notice, we have awoke to the realization that ECUSA liberal tactics had changed.

The GC victors can and will just determine who is orthodox!

But then, prehaps you are just preparing us the logic of what is to come.

Episcounitarian Animal Farm

Anonymous said...

Jake, I did not say that substitutionary atonement was the only way to look at the work of the cross -- simply that it cannot be omitted.

The NT uses a variety of images to describe the cross and its significance. I have not read Abp Carey's "I Believe," but I do know that there are a number of ways the work of the cross has been described down through the centuries. What happened on Good Friday is bigger than we can really wrap our minds around -- but the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostles as they wrote, and what they said about the cross (remembering the words of Jesus and reflecting on the significance of the event in light of those words and the OT prophecies and the sacrificial system of the Torah) tells us something, and we are not free to treat the various images as "multiple choice" views, but should take then as several perspectives, each with its own light to shed on the cross of Christ and his work there.

What bothers me about many reappraisers is that Jesus often becomes only a "guru," one of many voices speaking for God, and that the cross is reduced merely to solidarity with human suffering and the experience of injustice, and to an example. It is not less than these two things, but it is also a great deal more.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I don't accept your "wax nose" argument -- that if one issue is assailable all must be assailable. It is, however, clear that not all doctrines are necessarily well-developed in Scripture, and had to be evolved over time. The Trinity and the Incarnation, for example. Some doctrines, such as the Atonement, have never been given (in the Catholic wing of the Church, at least) a final form, as you acknowledge. This is one of the reasons that "sola scriptura" doesn't really work in a "catholic" or "orthodox" tradition -- these traditions see the Scripture as under the church's care and keeping, and the church as the authoritative interpreter. Anglicans add the crucial fact that the church sometimes makes mistakes in its interpretations and applications.

Which is why we are where we are at present. The issue of sexuality is an issue precisely because the Scripture does not take it up as a major theme or offer a uniform witness -- regardless of the strained efforts of the "reasserters" to make that claim.

The most one need do to for the church to "allow" for a view that some same-sex relationships may be licit is to demonstrate that the Scriptural prohibitions on same-sex behavior are similar to those on mixed-sex behavior: that is, that they involve abuse, rape, force, promiscuity, prostitution, infidelity, etc. In spite of efforts from reasserters to prove the contrary, the evidence in support of a broad condemnation of all same-sex relationships rests on circumstantial evidence or supposition or interpretation (whereby, for example, Genesis 1-2 is understood as a limiting template for all human sexuality rather than as an etiological story to explain why people are as they were understood to be.)

Then one applies an examination of the (extra-Scriptural) theological principles at work. The reasserter position rests (in some forms of the argument, as with the ordination of women) on a presumed ontological distinction between men and women. This is an error, and comes into conflict with the Chalcedonian doctrine of the Incarnation. (Eastern Orthodox theologians have begun to discuss this officially in relation to the ordination of women.) One can argue for a functional limitation on the actions of the sexes (in both orders and sexuality) but this then clearly becomes a matter of discipline, not dogma. When reasserters make an effort to raise these matters to dogmatic level, they bump into other far more important dogmas concerning the nature of God.

In short, the reasserters just as often wander off into error and heresy as do the reappraisers. All heresy and error usually comes about through an effort to be overly protective of a certain particular doctrine.

Anonymous said...


What the heck is circumstantial in or about 1 Corinthians 6:9.


"All heresy and error usually (sic) comes about through an effort to be overly protective of a certain particular doctrine."

Incredible. Write that one on the barn wall.

Like I said - Animal Farm.

Anonymous said...

Tobias says, “I don't accept your ‘wax nose’ argument -- that if one issue is assailable all must be assailable.”

What I am saying is that, if you apply the same principles of interpretation to other doctrines (the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, etc) as you use to get Scripture to support the goodness of homosexual sexual activity, then these other doctrines will falter. If you have to twist Scripture to get it to support homosexual activity, then it can be twisted to undercut the incarnation.

One very good reason to use Genesis 1 and 2 as a template for human sexual relationships is that both Jesus and Paul did so. Jesus based his teachings on divorce with Genesis 2:24. Genesis 1:27 tells us that the image of God is reflected (in part) in humanity consisting in two sexes, different from and complementary to each other. Granted, there is a lot of stylized language in Genesis, but that does not mean that the theological points it raise about theological anthropology are to be ignored. Genesis 1 & 2 tell us that God created human beings, and that he has a design for them and for their relationships. And Genesis 3 tells us that the design has been grievously compromised….

Tobias also says, “The reasserter position rests (in some forms of the argument, as with the ordination of women) on a presumed ontological distinction between men and women. This is an error, and comes into conflict with the Chalcedonian doctrine of the Incarnation.” I know you are pressed for time (I am), but could you tell me how this conflict comes about? Men and women are different from each other, but both are equally human.

I am a Reformed Catholic, and so I say not the Bible is the Church’s Book, but that the Church is the Bible’s Church – formed by the Gospel and living under it, not over it.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

If you could provide an example of how applying the hermeneutical tools described in Let the Reader Understand could lead to as heterodox understanding of any of the doctrines you describe it might help your argument. As it is you are simply making an assertion. As several of these doctrines are embedded in the principles themselves, I don't see how this would be possible.

As to Genesis 1:27 meaning that the image of God requires both male and female, you have fallen into one of those erroneus traps: this conflicts with the doctrine of the incarnation, which holds that Jesus Christ is the full and complete image of God. He is also a man -- a male person. He is not androgynous. Actually every individual human being reflects the image of God; the sexes are accidental, not essential to the human nature. This relates to the other matter of Chalcedon, which teaches that Jesus derives his entire human nature from Mary (a woman). Male and female are irrelevant to the divine image, and to redeemed humanity. The difference has "no significance."

Jesus did not use Genesis 1-2 to say that this was the only form of permissible sexuality. He used it to forbid divorce. That is what the Bible says. I think you are "twisting scripture" to turn it into something other than what Jesus intended.

Finally, as a person in the Reformed tradition I understand your point about the relationship between the church and Scripture. That is not the view held in Anglicanism, which holds that the Scripture is in the keeping of the Church, and that it is a product of the church (broadly understood as the people of God under both Covenants).

Anonymous said...

Tobias writes:
"Finally, as a person in the Reformed tradition I understand your point about the relationship between the church and Scripture. That is not the view held in Anglicanism, which holds that the Scripture is in the keeping of the Church, and that it is a product of the church (broadly understood as the people of God under both Covenants)."
I think of anything that I have read about the Church, this statement concerns me the most. If we as the church puts itself above the Scriptures, than we have nowhere to go but down.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I'm sorry that you find this a matter for concern. It is one of the things that separates classical Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and the Orthodox from the truly "protestant" or "reformed" churches. The authority of Scripture places limits on what the church can do, but it also places the interpretation of Scripture within the church's keeping. It also gives the church the freedom to annul or set aside portions of the Scripture judged no longer to be binding upon it, for any number of reasons. This is why, for example, the requirement to kosher one's meat (removing all blood from it before eating) which is among the things that E Volz omitted in her catalogue from Leviticus (19:26), and which was repeated as a requirement for Gentile converts to Judaism by the first Christian Council (Acts 15:20), is no longer considered to be a matter binding on Christians, although extremely important in the OT and for the early church. Or do you think the later church (beginning with Saint Augustine) was correct in setting this Scripture aside?

Anonymous said...

I have found that the last eight to ten comments are far more representative of the comments posted on the T19 threads. The first comments here were truly and horribly embarrassing but I have never seen anything on T19 that remotely approaches the cruelty, insensitivity and immaturity of these comments.
Furthermore, while I disagree with your positions Susan, I have never, ever spoken with or know anyone online or offline who would speak in this way about gays and lesbians.

Anonymous said...

You sayd that you have a "a firm commitment to classic Anglicanism." That is just rubbish. Really. Just say that you are progressive. That is the honourable thing to do. You just do not have any such firm commitment: your theology, anthropology, ecclesiology, pneumatology, let's see, what else? . .. is all a departure from classical Anglicanism. Better to admit it than claim the tradition as somehow endorsing or enabling you.