Sunday, August 05, 2007

Why Arun Arora got it right about David Anderson getting it wrong about the Archbishop of York getting it wrong:

Thanks to Kendall Harmon of titusonenine fame for bringing to our attention Why Canon Anderson Got It Wrong -- a response (just posted by Arun Arora to the Diocese of York's website) to David Anderson's recent ramblings: Why the Archishop of York got it wrong.

Anyway, do go read it all ... but here are my favorite bits (Quite cheered me up after watching the Dodgers get swept by the Diamondbacks ... grrrr!):

He starts with this contextualizer which I can't resist sharing: Most people who have ever entered into an online debate will be familiar with the concept of Godwin’s Law. This law – formulated by Mike Godwin in the 1990s – suggests as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler becomes inevitable. This is not to say that the comparison will be right or justified, but rather that at some point the comparison will be made.

A rather similar law feels like it is taking shape in the debates over the future of the Episcopal Church in the United States. As the discussions grow longer, the probability of a comparison with Bishop John Shelby Spong becomes inevitable. The comparison may be unjustified or incorrect but as debates rage, the invocation of Jack Spong becomes inescapable.

AMEN, Arun! Amen! How great would it be to call "game over" on the Spongization of discourse across the theological divide?

But as much as I loved that part, more germaine is this gist of Arora's rebuttal to Canon (why he's still calling himself that since the honorific came from the Apostate Diocese of Los Angeles still confuses me) Anderson: By using such a broad brush to attack the Episcopal Church as a whole, Canon Anderson conveniently whitewashes the testimony daily offered up by all those faithfully reciting the creeds and liturgy that bear evidence to those doctrines which he alleges have been abandoned. The orthodox voice of the multitude is drowned out and ignored in Anderson’s analysis in favour of selective quotation from the fringe.

Where Anderson & Sentamu do agree is the place of Christ at the centre of doctrinal statements. Hence the Archbishop of York’s recent comment to a newspaper that: “the thing that unites all Christians is our faith in the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ” would likely be agreed with by Anderson who argues that there are those in The Episcopal Church who cannot be relied upon to share such a belief.

So add me to the list! I'm TOTALLY good-to-go with "what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ." I'm GREAT with Christ at the centre (or "center" on this side of the pond!) of doctrinal statements. I even shlepped all the way to Nottingham a few years ago with a bunch of other Episcopalians to "present our case" to the Anglican Consultative Council. Remember? The apologia entitled "To Set Our Hope On Christ?"

Not good enough for Anderson and the AAC bunch but then, at this point most of us have recognized that nothing we can say or do will be. Oh well ...

The good news it really doesn't have to be ... and the OTHER good news is that voices of sanity from York are pointing to the core values of historical Anglicanism as received through the centuries rather than kowtowing to the hysterical Anglicanism as reinvented by Anderson et al.

So thanks, Arun Arora! Bravo, well said, here-here, Amen! (Now if you can do something about those Dodgers and their pathetic offense ... :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

My rule is that the first person who invokes the "Hitler" reference automatically loses the debate.
Using the "Hitler-facist-communist" epithets only shows that you have no argument.

A sinner saved by God's Grace,

Jim from Michigan

Anonymous said...

Oh Susan! Please call "game over" for the Spogification of theological discourse in my country, and get Jack Spong to stay at home.

JimB said...

".... Canon (why he's still calling himself that since the honorific came from the Apostate Diocese of Los Angeles still confuses me) Anderson...."

Have you noticed that other than 'the defendant no other titles appear to be on offer? I suspect that is the short explanation.


Anonymous said...

jimB ... but the "longer question" is why David Anderson continues to refer to HIMSELF as "Canon" when it was a title given by the Bishop of Los Angeles for his service IN the Diocese of Los Angeles (the title is actually "Canon of the Cathedral Center of the Diocese of L.A.) when he's dusted off his feet of the whole apostate lot of us here in La-La Land. I know it's a question I've seen Canon Newman ask on the HoB/D list before but he never got an answer either.


JimB said...


I understand. I am simply thinking that it is exactly the only title he has. If only Nigeria would call with a miter....


Anonymous said...

If Spong the writer didn't exist, someone would have to invent him. He does useful service as a counterfoil to conservative theologians, and as a lure to the curious secularist unchurched.

Dialogue helps one to define one's beliefs. It's not a bad thing sometimes, although sometimes one just wants to give it a rest for a while.

I am not commenting on Spong the bishop, he's done with that. Just his function as a writer.


Anonymous said...

What's a Canon anyway?


Anonymous said...

The problem is that ECUSA never brought Spong to task over his heretical 12 theses and many of the things he wrote - you just let it get accepted as if these were a valid expression of contemporary theology within ECUSA. Only a few bishops in ECUSA issued a denial of his propositions, but this denial never came from the executive of ECUSA or from its presiding bishop. Therefore, what are we left to think? Many Anglicans outside of ECUSA simply concluded that ECUSA has gone nuts, when Spong's statements and books continued to be published without any disciplinary action from ECUSA's leadership. But now you claim that it's not valid to mention Spong? why not?


brian ... no one is claiming it is "not valid to mention Spong" ... what ISN'T valid ... or helpful to the dialogue ... is to paint anybody advocating the full inclusion of all the baptized into the Body of Christ as a "Spongian Christian" without actually ASKING them what their theology is.

I'm actually happy to leave the judgment elsewhere on the efficacy of Bishop Spong's theological musings because in the end I have a sneaking suspicion our theologies matter a whole lot more to us than they do to God -- who is more interested in what we DO with our faith than how we explain it.

Anonymous said...

Susan - thankyou for clarifying that it is still ok to refer to Spong then, albeit with discretion. Jim and NancyP above seemed to suggest though that the first one to refer to "Hitler" (or Spong according to Godwin's Law), automatically loses the debate.

Of course I agree that our theologies matter a great deal more to us than to God, although I'm sure He's concerned that we get it right - I mean: God already knows who He is, and our theologising is our attempt to make sense of the Bible to discern who God is, what He has done and why, and what His plan is for us. So of course it matters deeply to us, and we ought to take it seriously - otherwise when we talk to a newcomer about being "baptised into the Body of Christ", what do we mean by each one of those words? To be unified as Anglicans, we ought to have some commonality of understanding about this most basic sacrament of the Christian faith. Spong tried to redefine the whole thing so that being baptised into the body of Christ was utterly meaningless.

RonF said...

I was born an Episcopalian and was immersed in the ECUSA; Dad was Warden, Mom was in the Choir (her 1940 hymnal that she wrote her name in back when her handwriting was like copperplate engraving is in my own choir stall now), my brothers and I were acolytes, etc. Then we moved and fell away from church.

I picked it up again about 10 years ago (long story), and started to do some reading when I saw the changes in the BCP and hymnal. It took a while to understand that someone like Jack Spong would have put forward the kinds of ideas that he did and not have his office as Bishop stripped. It was then that I realized that there were some very serious things gone wrong in my church.


IT ... So I've been checking on how to actually define a "canon" and what I'm told is that they were originally the staff members of a cathedral who served as the bishop's council of advice. Canon was a title attached to the office so if you left the employ of the cathedral you left the title with you. Typically in the Episcopal Church the title of Canon is given to members of a bishopp's staff.

There are also HONORARY Canons who are given the title by a bishop in recognition for service to the diocese. It's kind of life-time service award. That's what David Anderson got from the Diocese of Los Angeles and MY wondering is why one would continue to use an honorific given for service to a diocese one considers a hotbed of apostate heresy.

Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Susan.

Maybe because he's now a cannon, Taking Aim?

But I suspect it's because he's a typical Yank, and is overly impressed with titles. Especially his own.


Anonymous said...

Orthodoxy can be both wrong and slow to change, to say the least.

It’s worth noting that, as James Carroll points out in “Constantine’s Sword-The Church and the Jews,” the Roman Catholic Church to this day has not excommunicated Hitler.

They did, of course, excommunicate Galileo. 350+ years later they apologized for it but spun the case as “a tragic mutual incomprehension.”

On a more personal note, my wife and I were both baptized and confirmed Lutheran. My wife’s aunt and uncle were Lutheran missionaries in Japan. Once, while traveling in Japan, they unexpectedly encountered another American Lutheran missionary couple. My wife’s relatives, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, were not allowed to take Communion with their hosts because they were not Missouri Synod Lutherans. Two couples, both Lutheran, both missionaries, thousands of miles away from home and family, preaching the Gospel of Jesus, yet one would forbid the presence of the other at God’s table.

Long story short, my wife and I both drifted away from the church. Writers like John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Elaine Pagels, Dominic Crossan and many others brought us back. My mother in law, who will soon be 90, reads the same authors.

Are things going terribly wrong within ECUSA? Or is ECUSA finally addressing some issues that need to be re-examined?

(Side note- I just looked at the home page of the church where my mother grew up and my grandfather preached, Mt. Horeb Lutheran in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.

The home page states “We welcome, encourage, and appreciate the diversity of all individuals.” This message was not the message of my grandfather’s church in the 1920s, but thankfully it is now. And I believe my grandfather, if he were alive today, would have seen this change as progress rather than heresy.)

Anonymous said...

When I was new to the Episcopal Church (having discovered that's where I am at home -- a "Cradle Episcopalian for 10 years") someone commented that a Canon was:

- A big shot;

- A person of high caliber;


- A big bore

~ Wayne