Friday, June 16, 2006

Speaking of "clarity" ...

Just because you don't ask for clarity doesn't mean it doesn't sometimes show up anyway:
Our deepest desire is to testify to this church and to this communion what we know of the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus present in our lives, our vocations and our relationships.
Susan Russell, Integrity President
Committee 26 Testimony, June 13, 2006
Q: Why do you stay [in the Episcopal Church] Canon Anderson?
A: Well, I like a good fight.

David Anderson, AAC President
Larry King Live, June 15, 2006


Renee in Ohio said...

I was *really* hoping to make it to this:

1:15pm Lunchtime Speaker: The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

...but it turns out I really can't afford to pay to attend the convention. At the beginning of the week, I signed up--very last minute, to be sure--to be a volunteer. I couldn't sign up before that because a lot of things have been up in the air regarding our son and some special needs services we were trying to retain for him. Bottom line is, we lost services *and* some much needed funding.

I have wondered if doing things like transcribing Bishop Michael Curry's sermon at the U2Charist might count as volunteering, but it really didn't seem to fit into one of the categories of need.

Anyway, I really hope that someone will share the gist of what Bishop Robinson says this afternoon for those of us who are not able to attend.

Catherine said...

This is a comment I made over on the All Saints' Convention site, and it is relevant to this topic as well. So as a firm believer in "cut and paste", here it is:

" Though I was expecting Susan to be there with +Gene per the press release, I think The Rev Jo Hudson, and reporter Andrew Sullivan did extremely well in representing the pro-inclusion side of the issue. As for Canon Anderson, he showed his true motivation for staying in the Episcopal Church. It’s not God, it’s not faith, it’s not Jesus, no, instead it’s “I like a good fight.” He doesn’t want peace or unity, he wants to “win” regardless of the cost."

Renee in Ohio said...

FYI, I've got the first part of Bishop Gene Robinson's sermon from last night posted here.

Anonymous said...

Yes, John, Canon Anderson (the Archfiend - John I'm not feeling the inclusive love)didn't give the most comprehensive answer. But his answer was in line with John 8 - Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, as Greg Griffith points out at Stand Firm in Faith. "He who is without sin cast the first stone." That is the best answer from the New Covenant.

Anonymous said...

Didn't I read that clarity was an idol on this blog within the past 3 days?

I also think that I have heard complaints about contextualization too.

Windsor, Dromantine, and the messages from the ABC and Primates have the virtue of clarity. But I thought you thought that was idolatrous.

Spin which way?

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look that one up Jeff. I don't have FTG's comments or the text in front of me. Given this, my kneejerk reaction would be that if FTG divorced the Spirit speaking today from what the Scripture gives us, FTG is engaging in gnosticism. His statement years ago in the Phila. newspaper about the church moving beyond Scripture is surely gnostic in orientation. I'll have to look up the words of FTG that you mentioned.

Chip Webb said...


Here's Griswold's comments referencing John 16:12-15:

"Let me make a comment here. Jesus says I have many more things to tell you but you cannot bear them now. When the spirit of truth comes he will draw from what is mine or reveal it to you. Truth is unfolding. Isn't it interesting that we learn more about truth in medical areas, truth about the world around us, but we can't learn anything new about sexuality? Isn't that strange?"

Unfortunately, our presiding bishop misses the point. Of course, we can gain more knowledge about any topic, including sexuality. But is that what Jesus is talking about in reference to the Spirit?

It seems to me that there's a confusion here of natural revelation and special revelation. Natural revelation comes to us from looking at the world -- as in fields such as medicine, science, and humanistic fields. We can find pointers to God in the world around us.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit guided the authorship of Scripture, which is a form of special revelation. And the Holy Spirit never guides the church in a direction contrary to Scripture, but always in concert with it.

Anglicanism has affirmed this last point from the beginning. Look at what the Book of Homilies says:

"It is not the duty and part of any Christian, under the pretence of the Holy Ghost, to bring in his own dreams and fantasies into the church; but he must diligently prove that his doctrine and decrees be agreeable to Christ's Holy Testament; otherwise, in making the Holy Ghost the author thereof, he doth blaspheme and belie the Holy Ghost to his own condemnation" (from A Feast of Anglican Spirituality, Robert Backhouse, ed., p. 118).

Peace of Christ,

Chip Webb said...


"I suppose that we should bring back slavery, prevent women from speaking in church, and stone gays and lesbians?"

Nope, Jeff. Look at the context of each passage of Scripture,how Christ fulfills the law, the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and much more.

Go back to the church fathers, to Augustine, to Cranmar, to Wesley, and many others too numerous to mention, and look at how Scripture was handled.

Peace of Christ,

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there's a confusion here of natural revelation and special revelation. Natural revelation comes to us from looking at the world -- as in fields such as medicine, science, and humanistic fields. We can find pointers to God in the world around us.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit guided the authorship of Scripture, which is a form of special revelation.

False dichotomy, Chip: we're not Muslims, believing that Scripture was dictated by the Voice of God!

*All* of revelation is communicated through natural means (because human beings are a part of the natural order). God has simply willed it this way: the supernatural via the natural (What else, after all, is the Incarnation?)

And the Holy Spirit never guides the church in a direction contrary to Scripture, but always in concert with it.

And never, I believe, has TEC---leaning on the Holy Spirit's direction (perceived naturally, of course! *g*)---acted/proclaimed "contrary to Scripture," but "always in concert with it". :-D

[That we disagree on that last point . . . well, here we are. :-/]

I'm in far too good a mood to be brought down now, though: God bless +Katherine Jefferts Schori! May her Presiding Episcopacy be truly God-breathed! :-D

Hiram said...

Jeff, your lack of knowledge regarding biblical scholarship astonishes me. You must realize that Christians of the late 20th and early 21st century are not the first to recognize that the laws of the Leviticus and Deuteronomy cannot be applied in the same way to God's people following hte work of Christ as they were before teh work of Christ -- especially since the OT people of God were a nation-state, and the people of God, under his Messiah, the Lord Jesus, are transnational and transcultural.

You are pulling out what we reassters call "the shellfish argument." In essence, it says, "We now eat shrimp, contrary to Leviticus, so obviously, the OT laws do not apply anymore. Why should we observe the laws against same-sex intercourse when we do not observe kosher?" In the days when the Every Voice Network was a living web site, I used to post a reminder every six or eight weeks that the OT laws were of three types, ceremonial (which includes all the laws on "clean" and "unclean"), civil (boundary markers, cities of refuge, etc) and moral. The ceremonial laws pointed to Christ and his work; when Christ died as our atoning sacrifice, what they pointed to was accoplished, and they were no longer needed. The need for civil laws was also gone, for the people of God were no longer a nation-state. But the moral laws still applied; they are based on what is needed for human relationships and how we are to live out our nature as creatures made in God's image. And that includes laws against same-sex sexual activity, for such activity is contrary to God's design and intention for human beings.

As for slavery -- God provided some laws to regulate things that exist because of our falleness. The OT laws regarding slavery keep the status of slaves from being as bad as they might be; if you look, OT slaves were a lot more like indentured servants than absolute property. The NT statements on slavery help Christian slaves and masters, who were a minority in an culture which depended on slavery, to live within that culture as fairly as possible, without raising the idea directly that slavery is wrong -- for if they had campaigned against slavery, the persecutions they endured would have been far greater. If you read a letter like Philemon, however, you can see that Paul does not approve of slavery; it asks for Philemon to free a runaway slave who had become a Christian. If you know much about Church history, you should know about William WIlberforce, an Anglican Evangelical of the late 18th and early 19th centuries who made it his life's work to abolish slavery in the British Empire -- because he beleived the Bible.

Regarding Bp Griswold's comments on the Holy Spirit, I agree with Chip, who put things far better than I could.

Chip Webb said...


Good to see you here! (And thanks for the nice words over at Father Jake's.)

I never said that Scripture was "dictated," JCF -- not at all! But was the Holy Spirit's hand involved in superintending the authorship of Holy Scripture? Absolutely.

And without denying Jesus' humanity in the least, the incarnation was supernatural; a virgin gave birth to a son.

We can always disagree, JCF, and that makes neither one of us less important in God's eyes! :)

I also pray that God will give Bishop Schori wisdom, strength, humility, love, and all of the fruit of the Spirit in her new role.



It's funny, but apparently to both of us it seems at times like the other is not addressing our issues. I guess that's part of the limitation of online communication...

"Scriptural interpretation HAS CHANGED over time. It is not absolute."

Obviously, there are multiple interpretations of Scripture at any given moment. That does not mean that they are all right or valid. The church has recognized that throughout her history.

My point, which I thought was clear in my last point (I guess I was wrong), is this: Go back and look at how the church fathers and other figures in church history approached Scripture. While you won't find unanimity on every topic, you'll see that there is far more agreement of belief than you might have thought. You'll see how those who came before us were very careful to hold to essential Christian doctrines, and concerned for the importance of both orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

"We used to think the Bible justified the things I listed. Over time God revealed that the Scripture didn't work that way."

It's not that cut and dried, Jeff. Go back through Christian history and look at how people like John Wesley attacked slavery, etc. God's revelation of Scripture is not unfolding (there's very little that the early Christians didn't tackle -- the exact point in question may be different, but if you search, you'll usually find the general issue addressed); rather, our sinfulness (and that goes for every single one of us) keeps us from understanding Scripture aright.

"God continues to reveal Godself."

I'll have to disagree here, Jeff, if I'm taking the sense of what you're saying rightly. There is nothing about God's character that we can learn that isn't in Scripture. Certainly, we may come to new applications of Scripture in response to new situations in the world, and in that way it may seem (from our limited human perspective) revelatory, but God's character and attributes are revealed to us in Scripture. There's a difference between application and revelation.

"God continues to reveal Godself. And that God does that in a way that may not be completely contained in the Scriptures. Jesus said so. It's right there in plain text."

My point in my previous post was that Jesus did not say what you and Frank Griswold say he did. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would reveal things to the apostles. He did not say that he would continually be giving his church new revelations. The view that you outline is not one that the church fathers and other Christians in church history held.

Jesus did use the Holy Spirit to give the apostles revelation, Jeff. Through the Holy Spirit he enabled them to remember his own words. With the power of the Holy Spirit, he enabled them to understand how the Old Testament pointed to him, the suffering messiah who would die for our sins. Those are two common understandings of that passage in church history.

Peace of Christ,

Hiram said...

Two things:

First, about Canon Anderson and "I love a good fight." I didn't see the interview (I watch so little TV that I don't even know how to tune to Larry King), but isn't context important in this situation? It is quite possible he said this with a twinkle in his eye? There is such a thing as humor, you know, and a bit of irony is not unknown. Of course, if he simply replied with that one sentence, and did not go onto more substantive reasons, then you would have some grounds for thinking that mere pugnacity was at work -- but I would bet he went on to give better reasons than loving a fight.

Secondly, Jeff, if the Holy Spirit is one who can give a variety of revelations, some of which are mutually contradictory, then how can you be sure that the Holy Spirit will not, at some point in future decide that his directions in 2003 (for instance) were not a good idea, and that those who have same-sex attraction should be stoned to death? You may like what you call inclusiveness, but if you erode the reliability of Scripture, all you have is a system in which those who are the best politicians are the ones who get things done in the way they want.

Catherine said...

I thank God Almighty that He knows my heart and my words and thoughts before I think or speak them. With this knowledge, I am not concerned with how people judge me, my ministry or my life. As long as He knows that is ALL that matters. To say any different would make my belief in Him null and void.