Sunday, December 11, 2005

Examining "Claiming Our Anglican Identity" Pt. I

At ACI's site you may find a document, commended by the Primates to the AC, namely Claiming our Anglican Identity, that makes "the" case against ECUSA for certain acts of its GC2003. So far as I can tell, completing its argument requires reference to another short work you may find over at ACI, True Union in the Body. I presume these works constitute the core of the Anglican right-wing argument against blessing gay unions and ordaining a sexually active homosexual as bishop. As such, they demand close examination as we near GC2006.

I find neither of these documents cogent. What is lacking most of all? Sustained engagement with the arguments of the opposition; it is as if argument were a lost art. Although True Union is at least thoughtful and rather well-written, points in Claiming our Anglican Identity are made as if they settle the dispute, as if nothing effective or at least prima facie cogent could be said in response. That is, the authors show little evident awareness in their text that for all the points they make against ECUSA, they have not settled the issues. The points made just are not sufficiently strong--despite the fact that the conviction behind the points made is evidently very strong indeed. Thus, despite the authors' probable intention to produce a final statement of sorts, the debate goes on.

In contrast, both the Windsor Report and ECUSA's To Set our Hope on Christ openly acknowledge that debate is ongoing. The Windsor Report clearly declines to decide for or against the theology behind the actions at GC2003--for all the Eames Commission has said, ECUSA maight be absolutely right to bless gay unions and ordain VG Robinson; the Windsor Report maintains neutrality on the theological issues in dispute. Likewise, To Set our Hope frames itself as merely a contribution to an ongoing debate explaining why ECUSA did what it did at GC2003; both ECUSA and the Eames Commission maintain epistemic humility.

Claiming our Anglican Identity does not maintain epistemic humility. Such privation is deleterious to the entire Anglican Communion. For if the right-wing does not see its thinking as part of an ongoing debate, then they do not see themselves as needing to remain in communion in order--at least--to take their place in the ongoing debate. Evidently, Claiming argues withion a tacit framework insinuating we should as a communion move on from debate, close the debate down, and take action. Witness the "outed" GSA letter to WIlliams, with its talk of sawing off branches.

Part of our ongoing travail as a communion has to do with the different attitudes disputing parties take to the arguments they have given. But the Windsor Report, calling explicitly for ongoing debate and dialogue, implies the framework within which Claiming was written is inappropriate--I go further, and say "hostile to the very Spirit of communion in Christ." I am reminded of Cleon's speech to the Athenians against Diodotus.


At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this work, Scoty.

I confess: as much as my very humanity get constantly attacked by the Right---I just don't usually have the stomach (or low-enough blood-pressure) to do a close reading of these kind of documents... :-(

[I will, however, look forward to your analysis. Before you even said it, I had a feeling that "EH" would be the key that was lacking therein]

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Simeon said...

...if the right-wing does not see its thinking as part of an ongoing debate, then they do not see themselves as needing to remain in communion in order--at least--to take their place in the ongoing debate.

Agreed. But after everything from the Chapman memo thru those horrid videos released during the last AAC conf in Pittsburgh, I'm finding it hard to care.

We need a split with the most extreme conservatives. Let them leave. An amicable divorce would be much better than this endless animosity.

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Annie said...

I'm sorry J.C. and yet seeing Petah's name simply sends chills down my spine. The point is well made that they have never yet addressed the issues under discussion. I have a feeling that it is simply because they could not maintain an argument if they attempted to do so. I don't see any way around a split. So much for orthodoxy and scripture as so much of the NT is devoted to unity.


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