Thursday, January 12, 2006

Questions for Anglican Conservatives

Do you believe that God is immutable?

Do you believe that God is impassible?

I ask these questions noting that Christian tradition has long answered "Yes" to both, but that "Yes" has become very unpopular lately--even Alister McGrath seems to have said "No" to both. Finally:

Do the Creeds imply God's immutability and impassibility?

I have a sneaking suspicion many on the Anglican right have beliefs incompatible with a "Yes" to all three of these questions. A "Yes" three times here may well lead one away from the literal sense of Scriptural text, into senses of the text established only by theological speculation. Yet, it seems to me that the Anglican right in its narrative/canonical incarnation is allergic to that speculation, as it would call any general reliance on mere "plain sense" readings of Scripture as normative into question.

15 Comments:

At 10:25 PM, Blogger ruidh said...

Hmmmm. You don't expect the "orthodox Anglican" position to be logically consistant, do you? It's intended to have gut appeal, not intellectual appeal. In fact, part of the message is distrust of having to think too hard about Scripture.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

You are right--I expect it to tacitly embrace contradictions.

As with the bruhaha over open communion, the so called orthodox "No" ends up contradicting Nicene orthodoxy, as articulated in Aquinas.

 
At 12:07 PM, Blogger ruidh said...

I think the reall issue is that in the OA worldview, "homosexuality is a sin" is an axiom, not a logical conclusion. Either it rises from the "ick factor" or from a fundamental assumption of complementarity -- there are "ins" and "outs" and "ins" belong with "outs" and not "ins" with "ins" or "outs" with "outs".

I think another axiom of the OA position is that marriage is fundamentally about procreation. It is not about mutual support. Again, the logical contradictions of this position are swept under the rug.

Thi is why I feel that reconcilaition is fundamentally unobtainable. Sadly, I think the OA position will largely die out over the next 40 years as other schismatic movements have. The worldview is a dying one in the US.

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger bls said...

"I think another axiom of the OA position is that marriage is fundamentally about procreation. It is not about mutual support. Again, the logical contradictions of this position are swept under the rug."

But this can't really be so. Most people I've talked to are quite aware of the "mutual support" aspect of marriage. In fact, I think this is another cornerstone of the "one-man-and-one-woman" argument: that marriage "civilizes" a man. Which might, in fact, be true.

It's really the "ick" factor all the way - and the fact that men don't like having to think about being the objects of lust, I think.

Also, they're just too entrenched in their position at this point to retreat.

 
At 7:51 PM, Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

"Sadly, I think the OA position will largely die out over the next 40 years as other schismatic movements have. The worldview is a dying one in the US."

Why is this sad, ruidh?

I'm all for reconciliation w/ persons---always infinitely loved by God---not positions.

I pray you are correct that the "OA" (that's for "orthodox Anglican"? So-called! ;-p) will indeed die out . . . freeing its former adherents to embrace the Truly Loving Christ, for a change. :-D

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous D. C. said...

The only proper answer is "I don't know."

If someone does answer otherwise, the immediate follow-up question is, "And how exactly do you know that?"

The answer to the follow-up question is likely to be along the lines of, "Because St. Whosiwhatsis said so."

The follow-up to THAT answer can be either (i) "What leads you to conclude that St. Whosiwhatsis knew what s/he was talking about?" or simply (ii) "So?"

 
At 10:03 PM, Blogger ruidh said...

BLS, you say But this can't really be so. Most people I've talked to are quite aware of the "mutual support" aspect of marriage.

Most pople, sure. But we're not talking most people here. We're talking the "orthodox anglicans" who represent at most 10% of the EC.

JCF, it's sad because the schism is going to happen. The Anglican Communion is going to tear itself apart over a theological position which is going to be obsolete in the US in a generation. Where is the segreagationist Episcopal Church today?

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger Simeon said...

ruidh is right. One will not get far in requiring that the "Anglican Right" (which is neither, to paraphrase the well-known bumper stickers :) be theologically consistent.

It's not about an honest theological position anyway, it's about an extremist neo-con political position in religious drag.

Oh, and in a more mischievous vein, I'd reply to bls that at least this man doesn't always mind being the object of lust. Kinda depends on who's doing the objectifying ;)

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger bls said...

Well, I meant most people of the "OA" persuasion. That's why I included the sentence that followed - because they are in fact in a deep contradiction with their own position. Which is a good indication that they've got things wrong.

And Simeon, perhaps I should've said "being the objects of male lust." This seems to make the vast majority of men exceedingly uncomfortable. Because they're used to being the objectifiers? Because they think it makes them look queer to their friends and they think thereby they lose face? I'm not sure. Can anybody tell me?

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Simeon said...

Well, being straight, I don't get any sort of personal charge out of a gay man thinking I have a cute b*tt or anything - but it doesn't send me into wild paroxysms of indignity or outrage, either :)

I honestly just don't get why some straight men are so offended by this, so perhaps I'm not the ideal person to try & provide an answer. I'm certainly pretty secure in my own sexuality, and fear of "looking gay" (horrors! :) isn't a big motivator, so go figure. :/

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Why is male-male lust such a taboo? Good question; here's a guess.

Maybe: maleness is especially constructed in comparison with femaleness--though both are elaborate constructions,men don't have the same capacity to breastfeed and bear children that can partially constitute and ground an identity.

Thuis, when exploitation heats up, as it is doing in increasingly stratified America, one's contructed self becomes unstable; the instability especially affects men, in general.

As desire, including sexual desire, is essential to selfhood, its mutability threatens the stability of the "I". The backlash against the source of attraction is in proportion to the threat.

Thus, you might expect to find sincere hatred of homoeroticism among the most exploited, who have constructed their identities around contingencies in flux, who are nevertheless exposed to homoeroticism and opportunities to act on it.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Note too, for most (I bet) sexual orientation is not a matter of deliberation or even conscious choice--regardless of any biological sources.

What happens when it becomes a matter of choice, to the extent that the so-called heterosexual realizes he or she may feel and follow homosexual love. That very freedom might be too much of a burden for some people, especially those socialized into groups whose "inside" depends on demonizing gay "outsiders".

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger Contarini said...

:As desire, including sexual desire, is essential to selfhood:

No, sexual desire is not essential to selfhood. That's the real difference between liberals and conservatives. We don't just disagree about homosexuality. We differ about the nature of human sexuality and its relationship with human identity. Sexual desire is part of who we are, but not an essential part. It is, in the scholastic sense, accidental. A person who feels no sexual desire is still fully human. Your position is, frankly, idolatrous.

I didn't respond earlier to your main point, because I didn't see any use. You keep repeating what seem to me to be utterly unfair straw-man arguments, and I doubt there's anything I can do to convince you to stop. But it's late, and I'm punchy. . . .

I for one do not believe that Scripture has only a literal sense. Nor do I believe that the "literal sense" is identical either with the sense that appears at face value to a naive reader or with the sense that emerges from modern historical-critical scholarship. The "literal" or "plain" sense of Scripture includes responsible, faithful theological speculation, comparing Scripture with Scripture and reading the whole of Scripture in accordance with the analogy of faith. You are arguing with a caricature. This may be fulfilling for you, but it doesn't contribute to genuine dialogue. (And of course, as always, I'm ready to admit that plenty of folks on "my" side are as bad or worse. in this respect--indeed, I'm sure I've been guilty of plenty of caricature myself.)

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Yes, sexual desire is essential to human selfhood here below--which is not to say either that hetero or that homosexual love is essential.

Sexuality in a generic sense here below can only achieve a transient union; but our desire for such unions affirms both an incompleteness in our personhood, and a desire to redress that incompleteness by participating in eternity.

The key term is "participation"--used by Hooker for other sacraments, and applicable here in sex as well. All sex is by nature to be a showing forth of God's grace through fragile matter--that is why we permit sex only within the context of a sacrament.

No?

 
At 12:56 AM, Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

No, sexual desire is not essential to selfhood. That's the real difference between liberals and conservatives. We don't just disagree about homosexuality. We differ about the nature of human sexuality and its relationship with human identity. Sexual desire is part of who we are, but not an essential part. It is, in the scholastic sense, accidental. A person who feels no sexual desire is still fully human. Your position is, frankly, idolatrous.

I don't have the slightest idea of what you are talking about, contarini.

[Braces for "I know, that's the problem!"]

The Bible says "it is not good for [a human being] to live alone": we're made for relationships.

As we're made for relationships---for love in relationships---we do so w/ our whole selves (made in the Image of God). Our whole selves include our bodies: including everything from our aesthetic appreciation of other human beings, to our nervous systems, complete w/ the ability to respond to certain kinds of physical stimulation.

In short, contarini, could you maybe drop the ideological struggles (not to mention the self-righteous 'tude) long enough to really examine what you're saying? Unpack the unstated assumptions?

Otherwise, you can shorten it to "You liberals are a bunch of sluts & ho's" and leave it at that...

 

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