Taking Your Pick
Here's a problem that I wrote about earlier in comments to Titusonenine (6/19/05). ECUSA's right wing (e.g. over at the Anglican Communion Institute) from time to time argues by appealing to the "plain sense"of Scripture or some equivalent. The idea seems to be that Scripture is transparent. No fancy philosophy is needed to interpret Scripture--in fact, bringing philosophy in is suspect on its face. For ECUSA's right wing, Scripture alone is authoritative and sufficient unto itself.
But that can't be quite everything--surely right-wing ECUSAns would assent to the Nicene Creed, affirming in effect the Council of Chalcedon's christology and the Creeds' view of the Trinity? In fact, if you polled them, I bet most would date the beginning of their misgivings with ECUSA to Pike's questioning creedal dogma in the 60's (or Robinson's Honest to God, or Hick's Myth of God Incarnate).
But committment to the Creeds sits uneasily with committment to Scripture alone as authoritative. Why? The Creeds assume the framework of Greek metaphysics, a framework not at home in Scripture. Scripture does not lay out a system of metaphysics like that of Aristotle, or Plotinus, or Philo. Any attempt to derive the Creeds from Scripture would take as premises extra-Biblical assumptions from Greek metaphysics. Keeping to Scripture alone as authoritative calls the Creeds and our committment to them into question. On the other hand, calling for confession of the Creeds implies the Bible is not authoritative alone. Indeed, given committment to the Creeds, it follows rather that Scripture interpreted through philosophy that cannot be found in Scripture is authoritative.
When ECUSA's leadership interprets Scripture by bringing in premises that cannot be found in Scripture, it is doing the same type of thing right-wing ECUSAns do when they confess the Creeds--both sides find that Scripture alone is an insufficient authority. Right-wing ECUSAns find Scripture insufficient when it comes to explaining the nature of Christ of the Trinity. ECUSA's leadership finds it insufficient to articulate our moral obligations to homosexuals. Thus, it will not do to appeal to the "plain sense" of Scripture--given how both sides already read Scripture, to invoke "plain sense" readings is inconsistent, an instance of special-pleading.
ECUSA's leadership could, thus, say to the right wing: Take your pick. If you preclude gay activism by appealing to Scripture alone as authoritative, you lose the Creeds. But then, if you want to keep the Creeds, you lose the appeal to Scripture alone as authoritative. In effect, given the soundness of ECUSA's argument from extra-Biblical premises, keeping the Creeds implies accepting gay activism. At the very least, the argument should shift away from the so-called "plain sense" of Scripture to the extra-Biblical premises.