Friday, August 24, 2007

The Danger of Nihilism in Brothers Minns & Akinola's Letter (somewhat pretentious biretta tip to Brother Milbank)

As you may well know, Akinola's latest missive seems to have been penned in part by Virginia's own import, Bishop Marty Minns.

I advocated the HoB affirm Minola's (as Minns and Akinola seem to be speaking in one voice for now) list of bona fides--but this elicited a well-founded worry that the HoB would be leaving itself vulnerable to the anti-Anglican Communion interpretation of the Minolans.

My response:

The problem for the Minolans is that the decoder ring for Minola's list doesn't come in the Bible box.

It seems the Bible needs the Church, the Spirit moving in the work (liturgy, esp. Eucharistic and Baptismal) of her people, if the Bible is to even approach the significance God intends.

That implies one must go outside the Bible to make sense of what is in the Bible. But--alas--any evidence at this point will underdetermine theory. That means authority will be necessary for Minola to single out which interpretations, which compromises, which equivocations, and which silences about tough texts are permitted and which are not. I.e.: they may be tempted to an exclusivist decoding of Scripture.

The church has to take stands on the basis of underdetermined theory--it is unavoidable. That's fine if it is ready to be always reformed and reforming: if it is ready to be corrected in the Spirit and repent.

But Minola might be tempted instead to Eliminationist Rhetoric--the kind of rhetoric they(?) have used before: TEC et al are a cancer, to be cut off and burned; TEC are not merely erring Christians but not Christian at all; etc. That rhetoric does not call for Separation alone, but a more extreme Solution: Separate and Destroy. The thing speaks for itself, as we have seen the Chapman Memo strategy unfold even as assorted conservative resisters said it wouldn't.

An exclusivist decoding in any terms--conservative or liberal--is an exercise in sheer assertion of Created will over against that of the Creator--Who knew we could never comprehend Him.

The sheer assertion of Will, along the lines of a fiat "Let it mean what we say it means" is an exercise backed by Nothing (what can we really be apart from God?); and the fervent advocacy of sheer will backed by Nothing is merest Nihilism: the impossible attempt to Reduce the Creator to the plane of the Created.


At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great post and it deserves some unpacking and development into a more comprehensive essay/paper.

Bunker Hill
Spearfish SD

At 9:08 PM, Blogger MC Fanon said...

Strong point, though Christianity and nihilism have some common aspects. For instance, the Christian's outlook on the condition of man is similar to the nihilists because man lacks any intrinsic value on his own accord. Granted, where the nihilist despairs, the Christian finds hope in the supreme sacrifice of Christ. Nevertheless, excellent post.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Thanks for your comments.

It seems the tempting Eliminationist Rhetoric creates in time its own set of brutal realities on the ground--making moderation and self-control impossible and making the hyperbole eventually too dangerous to openly resist.


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