Friday, March 21, 2008

Radner & ACI & the furture of Anglicanism

There is no Anglican Church.

If you keep that in mind, much of the diaphanous sophistry of the ACI dissipates like a chill mist gradually burned away in the rosy-fingered dawn.

Uses of "Anglican Church" make sense, to be sure, in that they are parasitic on applications of "church" to genuine churches. We know what it means to say "the Church of England" or "the Roman Catholic Church", and the Anglican Communion at times may resemble these, like a glass eye may resemble a live eye--so one might even innocently utter "the Anglican Church" referring to the Anglican Communion.

But Radner and Seitz' uses are rather darker, part of a larger attempt--an effort that I strongly suspect meets with the avid approval of our Archbishop--to impose a reality, an Anglican Church, on the heels of imposing a new usage, where "Church" in "the Anglican Church" is univocal with "Church" in "Roman Catholic Church." So you see, Schofield did not really abandon the communion of this church by joining the Southern Cone--they would seem to say there is no real distinction between the communion of the Episcopal Church and the communion of the Southern Cone because what may seem to some to be their distinct communions are really the same as the one communion of the Anglican Communion.

But that gets the notion of communion backwards--the communion of the Anglican Communion could only supervene on the communions of its member churches, at least for now. That's why, for instance, we say our common life is damaged when some member withdraws from it, as Nigeria's Primate boycotts the Eucharist with the other primates, and threatens to withold its bishops from Lambeth. It can't be that the various communions of the member churches derive their being from the communion of the Anglican Communion, particularly if they exist in such a way that they may withdraw from it and form other, really distinct networks. At most one could argue the being of a member church's communion is filled out or amplified by its being a member of the larger network--a matter not of esse, but of plena or bene esse, a contingency. To get what the ACI wants, the AC would have to change what it is, and its members would have to change what they are as well.

The long term goal seems to at least include the imposition of a centralized, bureaucratic structure, with power of its own to discipline and observe at the level of the Anglican Communion as a whole, an imposition whose practice is carefully circumscribed by a constitution or social contract so as to be incapable of responding to correction from the Holy Spirit that would require communion-wide repentance and amendment of life, as with adoption of the ordaining of women or the breaking down of race barriers. To conservatives, this is merely insurance against what some would call "social justice" and what they might call "liberalism": Amaziah of Bethel banning Amos.

Ironically, the scheme is directly analogous to Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, and Hayek's thoughts on constitutions and Keynesianism. The idea with Hayek et al. was that economic management by the federal government--as in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, WIC, etc--could be eliminated and in the future precluded by constitutional reform, esp. reform locking out deficit spending, and the leading edge of what they saw as socialism. And a general potentially growing threat to the institution of private property could be cut off, or as Norquist would later say, strangled in the bathtub. Buchanan, additionally, saw himself as preserving something precious from the heritage of the Old South. Of course, these guys are all liberals--classical liberals in the mode of Say, Sisimondi, "Smith": what we would now call "right-wing liberals." Structurally, ACI seems to be inthe same boat, so to speak. It is odd--to say the least--to see Williams and Radner plumping for a structural solution to our crises in the style of classical liberalism, of all things.


At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Like many in TEC today, I think you are being hypersensitive. Of course the Anglican Communion is not a "church" in the way that the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox claim to be "church." If we speak of the "Anglican Church" at all, it is derivative. It is a linguistic convenience. But let's be clear. Referring to "the Episcopal Church" or "The Church of England" is a similar convenience. These are organizational structures, "churches" if you like. But the only Church that ultimately matters for Anglicans is The Church which we have historically claimed to be a part of. The fear that Radner and Seitz have is the same one that I have, that we are well on our way of elevating the idols of "polity" and "autonomy" over the very real gift of The Church that Our Lord has given to us. If we wish to be yet another increasingly irrelevant Protestant sect then that is our choice, but it is essentially a choice of death over life.

And frankly, this paragraph is surprisingly naive and banal for a person of your usually reasoned intellect-

The long term goal seems to at least include the imposition of a centralized, bureaucratic structure, with power of its own to discipline and observe at the level of the Anglican Communion as a whole, an imposition whose practice is carefully circumscribed by a constitution or social contract so as to be incapable of responding to correction from the Holy Spirit that would require communion-wide repentance and amendment of life, as with adoption of the ordaining of women or the breaking down of race barriers. To conservatives, this is merely insurance against what some would call "social justice" and what they might call "liberalism": Amaziah of Bethel banning Amos.

All I can say is, really? Do you really believe any of that? You honestly think that the goal of the ACI, Archbishop Williams, and others who seek accountability in the Communion is to protect us from "social justice" and create a "centralized, buerocratic structure?" Do you realize how paranoid delusional that sounds? Will we be hunting for communists in the closet next? I would find this kind of blanket statement offensive if it wasn't just so trite. And I would write it off if it was written by someone else. But as I said, you tend to be more reasoned and logical than this, even when we disagree.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


You may be right about me; maybe this is just hypersensitivity.

Perhaps you too have puzzled over events and asked "Why is this happening? Does it signify anything?"

On the Church:
We have a real difference over what "church" means. I'd like to hear a bit more about what you think it means, as I am puzzled by Seitz and Radner. It seems to me that the CoE is a genuine church, whereas the AC is not; the RCC is genuine, but thye NCC is not.

How is that possible? It would be possible if being church were like a nature or universal individuated in its intantiations, yet unified by prior relation to Christ. I'm a metaphysical moderate realist about "church" (as is, so far as I can tell, Zizioulas); Seitz and Radner are nominalists. For them (and maybe for you?) being church is incapable of multiple location.

For me, inasmuch as Christ in the Bread and Wine is capable of multiple location (though not through his flesh & blood being universal--it's different for Christ), so is the church.

On my suspect Paragraph:
Consider a larger narrative: I wonder if you are familiar with the National Review, the New Criterion, First Things, the thinking of the New Natural Law theorists--these guys powered the resurgence of conservatism in the US, esp. religious, RC conservatism. They met with complementary thinkers in political economics: Tullock, Buchanan, Hayek, and the result was an intellectually powerful conservative coalition that was also quite successful at the ballot box.

The idea of using a constitutional document & a strict constructionist reading to curtail so called "social justice" initiatives is a real one, applied in Supreme Court opinions, legal scholarship, law philosophy, and economics.

It does not seem to me unreasonable that this broad coalition would move to apply this strategy to the Anglican Communion. But this is precisely what you object to: that anyone could consciously intend such a thing, that the ABC culd be a tool in such an effort, that it would result in an Amaziah-like situation, no?

Of course, they first need a Constitution-like arrangement; the old Quadrilateral will not do. So, Yes: the Anglican Covenant can be viewed as producing a requisite structure for this interpretation strategy.

To you, that sounds insane--like a paranoid delusion, like hunting for Commies. Maybe so. But then where does it go wrong? Where would you put your foot down and say "No, that is False" or "No, that is Dellusional"? Surely, if your suspicopns are well-founded, you can point to something?

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be right about me; maybe this is just hypersensitivity.

I'm always right. Except for when I'm full of crap. :)

On the Church:
We have a real difference over what "church" means. I'd like to hear a bit more about what you think it means, as I am puzzled by Seitz and Radner. It seems to me that the CoE is a genuine church, whereas the AC is not; the RCC is genuine, but thye NCC is not.

My understanding of "Church", while woefully incomplete, is based on scripture and the early Church Fathers. The Church is the Body of Christ. It is the mystery of Christ in the world. And as we say every Sunday in the Nicene Creed, it is "one." To speak of "churches" as anything else but shorthand for ecclesiastical structures within the one Church is to misinterpret the Incarnation. Christ's one Body is the one Church. It is a broken body, yes. It is a body that we have torn asunder six ways to Sunday in our schismatic sinfulness, no doubt. But it remains one.

I think that Zizoulas had a good grasp of this. Where he differed from western thinkers is that he saw the local church as the locus of that oneness. Wherever the bishop is surrounded by presbyters, deacons, and laity, all engaged in the sacramental life of Christ, there the fullness of the Catholic Church can be found. On this point I would agree, although I would add that apostolic succession is more than just a sacramental passing but also contains the deposit of faith, without which the sacraments themselves become mockeries of the truth.

So yes, the Church of England is a "church" in that it is the "One" Church as she has historically existed in the place that is called England. And one could say that the Anglican Communion is a "church" in so much as it is the Church as she exists in Anglican structures and history around the globe, connected by communion to the Archbishop of Canterbury. But is the Communion the same as the Church? No. As an Anglican, being as faithful as I can be to earliest understanding, I cannot make such a bold and exclusive claim. The RCC and the Eastern Orthodox make such claims for their own "churches." But from a classical Anglican perspective, such claims have to be rejected as incompatible with the organic reality of the Church. Our structural separation from one another is a sad fact that causes chaos within the Church, but it does not ultimately separate us in the unity of Christ.

As to your other points, I am now even more baffled. Are you suggesting that the ACI and Archbishop Williams are part of some concentrated effort to make the world over into a right-wing economic system? Yes, I'm familiar with The National Review and First Things. I'm also familiar with Episcopal Life and Sojourners. Does that mean that I can claim that any "liberal" inkling that is suggested by a Christian within our "church" is the result of a grand conspiracy to turn the Christian Church into a socialist state / free love hippy party?

You reveal the problem with your comments when you try to "expand the narrative" to include all of these other folks instead of actually addressing the legitimate concerns that are being addresses. Radner and Seitz may be rightwing Republicans, or they may be hippies. I have no idea. But their concern, and the archbishop's concern, and my concern, and the concern of many Anglicans around the globe is that we are unable to hold ourselves accountable in our current relationships. You can't deny the reality of that. We are deathly afraid of some threat that we can't even begin to name. The covenant is meant to be a way for us to name the reality of our Communion as it has evolved and to be accountable to one another freely, just as we choose freely to be in Communion in the first place. But we act as if the idea of a covenant is a step towards the gulag while ignoring the fact that as things stand we are fracturing into oblivion. Maybe a covenant is not the answer, but in TEC today we haven't even got the wherewithal to admit that there's a question.

Finally, let's speak for a moment about "social justice." What exactly is "social justice" and how does a stronger, healthier Anglican Communion threaten it? I'm so weary of the way we throw these terms around as if they mean something. Either this threat must be named, in detail with specific examples that can be addressed, or it must be admitted that "social justice" is just one more buzz word that is ratcheting up our nerves without actually contributing to our common life. And I might add, there's not a thing in the prized Chicago/Lambeth Quad about justice of any kind.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Marshall Scott said...

I have expressed my own concerns that Archbishop Williams wants something more centralized than the Anglican-Communion-as-we-have-known-it, if not fully a Roman-style church. At the same time, there does seem to be a spectrum of folks uncomfortable with the "relationship" structure of the Communion, and some do seem to want significantly more centralization than even Canterbury - sort of a "Rome light," with authority to not only exclude but to expel. It doesn't really take a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to pursue that - only a belief that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." (Whether that attitude can actually accomplish such a project is another issue.)

j-tron, while I appreciate your focus on the Church as the Body of Christ, I find I have to see that as eschatological hope and holy mystery, without rejecting utterly the way in which some (significantly, Rome) use that term. The Body of Christ includes Southern Baptists and Russian Orthodox, neither of whom would recognize the faith the other expresses. It arguably includes the Ancient Churches of the East, who are still anathemitized by the Oriental Orthodox Churches (indeed, explicitly in a joint statment with the Anglican Communion not a decade ago). It becomes difficult to speak about the Church as Body of Christ, and then speak of a common faith, when so many members don't see as much in common as we might.

We can well believe that the Body of Christ includes everyone who proclaims him, from the Churches of Christ (non-instrumental) in the United States, who are so focused on the local church as to require rebaptism when moving from one congregation to another; to the Crypto-Catholics of Japan, reciting phonetically passages of the Tridentine Mass, convinced that they alone really understand; to remaining Russian Old Believers; and on and on and on. At the same time, it doesn't on its face give us many tools with which to resolve differences or pursue reconciliation, or, for that matter, to define our accountability one to another.

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scotist, Thinking about this a little more last night, it occurs to me that what I'm most bothered by in the way you present this is the way that (for lack of better terms) the center and the right are lumped together. It's not that I don't agree with you that there are extremists in the Communion who wish to exercise abuse. Obviously there are, on what is considered both the "progressive" and "traditionalist" sides. But to throw Archbishop Williams or even the ACI into that group is, I think, a mistake. Remember, Radner left the Network when they overstepped their bounds. And Archbishop Williams has been just as caricatured and criticized by traditionalists for not doing everything that they've wanted him to do as he has been by progressives. All I'm saying is, one can support the notion of accountability and mutuality in the Communion without being some sort of crazed extremist. It's not a conspiracy. It's just theological integrity.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

I have to say, as I mentioned in as part of a response to ecclesiology, that I for one am deeply troubled that the laity are not once mentioned in the proposed covenant. This from a communion of churches with roots in the Reformation? If we're going toward centralization, perhaps a broader vision of what a conciliar church might look like is in order. Bishops and primates alone have not shown themselves trustworthy. Here was my proposal.

I think we have to make a distinction between centrists and the middle. The two are not the same thing though too often they become conflated.

Many of those who fit the former term are want to move us toward centralization and an arrangment more in keeping with Rome, either by ecclesiological conviction or for the sake of order. That would include Radner and Williams and Donovan and Wright. The Scotist is not he first to notice a remaking of the Communion in a certain Anglo-catholic mould by these folks, using terminology in certain ways that has not generally been what we have understood them to mean, as the "church" example shows here. Or using the terminology singularly, indeed, reducing its multivalence when we have had differences longstanding about what such terms mean. This would include "church" as it is being used by the ACI and Williams.

The latter, the middle, encompasses a lot of people, mostly in the pews who may be all over the place theologically, may be liberal, conservative, or moderate politically and socially, and may be largely unaware of the goings on at the top seeking to reshape us. No the middle are those who are still primarily shaped by the Anglican ethos of conformity at prayer and freedom of conscience in much elsewise. See this fine piece by Connie Woodcock. The middle is a broad catholicity more than the sum of its parts and invaluable. We may shut that down in favor of a more precise vision.

The middle can contain differing perspectives on a variety of things. Though most would not count me in the middle, the middle can have an Anglo-catholic or an Evangelical or something in-between, for example:

While the Anglo-catholic would emphasize the historic episcopate and perhaps creedal content, I would emphasize the Word purely preached and the Sacraments rightly administered as that which makes the church. The emphasis being placed on God's initiative and action, not those that order us to that action in response and for good common life.

That does not mean I have no place for bishops, they are good but contingent means amendable to the Spirit and thus should not be readily undone. And the creeds themselves point to what it would mean that the Word is purely preached. Nor does that preclude calling me "catholic", but it does emphasize that the Reformation Fathers and Caroline Divines have influenced my thinking.

For me, the church is that event whereever Jesus Christ is proclaimed Lord and the Sacraments given. Close to Lewis' summary of Hooker:

Hooker had never heard of a religion called Anglicanism. He would never have dreamed of trying to 'convert' any foreigner to the Church of England. It was to him obvious that a German or Italian would not belong to the Church of England, just as an Ephesian or Galatian would not have belonged to the Church of Corinth. Hooker is never seeking for 'the true Church', never crying, like Donne, 'Show me deare Christ, thy spouse.' For him no such problem existed. If by 'the church' you mean the mystical church (which is partly in Heaven) then, of course, no man can identify her. But if you mean the visible Church, then we all know her. She is 'a sensibly known company' of all those throughout the world who profess one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism (III.i.3) (p. 454).

Does that mean that either J-tron or I are not Anglicans? No. But I think that this exercise highlights precisely a point I made not too long ago:

It is one thing to propose structures to handle better disagreements among our churches. I have no problem saying that we needs ways to do so, though the proposals to-date look more like ways to shut down the disagreement to keep the peace by smoothing over some quite sharp differences we’ve held together, including differences about Eucharist, Baptism, bishops, and ecclesiology to name just a few. How is it we can uphold a Baxter and a Hooker on such matters unless we are willing to acknowledge that Anglicanism has allowed for disagreement on all those areas named above and more?

It is quite another to speak of a “global church” as Bp. Epting does. Speaking thusly is not first about governance or polity, but about ecclesiology. Speaking thusly presumes a particular ecclesiology more akin to Rome eliding that our homegrown ecclesiology must account for churches in a global communion, which is not the same thing as a “global church”. A “global church” ecclesiological perspective has a history in Anglicanism, but it is not the only ecclesiological perspective, nor the only authentically Anglican perspective, and it certainly is not a descriptive place to start in drawing up what an Anglican ecclesiology might actually look like working with what already exists and what we have learned, say from this "General Convention Church".

If that is so as Anglicans, we should not so quickly allow crisis to move others to convince us to undo our breadth and in the process undo our depth. Rather we should work on increasing our tolerance of one another, increasing our capacity for pain, and increasing our ability to handle ambiguity and difference in the same house. But that requires a lot more humility than simply redoing our governance and polity to fit a certain ecclesiological vision. It requires us to become Anglican Christians.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


On the Church:
When you say the CoE is a church and the Anglican Communion is a church, do you mean the same thing by "church"? Don't you mean the CoE is a genuine church and the AC is a church not in the genuine way, but in a derivative sense?

The eschatological and scriptural points you've mentioned seem right and good--buut don't you think that the AC could only be a church--at this point in time--in a derivative sense?

On the vast right wing conspiracy:
I really don't think you should say Radner and Seitz are involved in a conspiracy.

Quite admirably--giving them credit here--they are very open in their thinking and in their intentions. The Covenant group is not a cabal of conspirators. Likewise, the strategy of limiting social justice reform through constitutional rules is no secret; its all out in the open: e.g. Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty.

Who knows if Radner's ever read Hayek, say? It does not matter. The relevant ideas have found such wide circulation, Radner et al may pick them up from reading and conversation without having to read the sources.

Of course, Radner and Seitz probably would not recognize what I call "social justice" as genuine justice. That mey be--who knows?--b/c they do not recognize society as anything over and above its members; i.e. they are individualists as opposed to communitarians. But that is speculation.

As to a defitnition of social justice fitting Scripture, two candidates come to mind:

Pareto optimality: nobody is made better off at the expense of anyone else;

Rawlsian maximin: nobody is made better off than the others unless the least well off are made better off as well.

That is, defining social justice is not much of a difficulty, esp. if one is topic neutral, e.g. betw. individualists and communitarians.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

OK, I see now--and preemptively concede--my immediate reaponse above gives a poor answer about how to define social justice, inasmuch as my tendentious correlationist presumptions are on display. As if the right place to start is of course with secular philosophy. You might ask, are either principles scriptural? I think so, but that is another post.

At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting discussion, and an important one in its own way. I think, in part, AS demands too great an exactitude in definition here – “too great” because, in pressing for it, some of the substantive realities of Christian calling are lost.

The distinction between “churches” and “the Church” is made by e.g. Paul; but the distinction is never very well clarified. There is “one” Body of Christ, that is “the Church” (the early Paul usually calls it “the church of God” simply, as opposed to “the church at …”), and that includes individual members of many localities and local “churches”. These local churches are themselves a “body of Christ” somehow, although there are not many “bodies” of Christ. But “the Church” is not only, for Paul, an idea or form that is instantiated in distinct local churches – so that the “only” church in a concrete and historical sense is local. Rather, the larger “Church” is also concrete and historical, and demands specific actions – like the famous “collection” – that constrain local churches. Obviously, this is made much clearer in writings like Ephesians and Colossians. One key is given in the equivalence of “the Church of God” with the “Israel [not “synagogue’] of God” that Paul makes in several places.

The exact relation between local and larger church is never defined in the Scriptures. But Ephesians, for instance, makes it clear that whatever integrity a local church has, it has it because it is informed by the reality of Scriptural and apostolic teaching (e.g. 2:20), which provide a foundation that it holds in common with other local churches. This is all very traditional and accepted by protestant and catholics alike at the time of the Reformation: local churches are accountable to “the Church” in that which is essential. One argued about the essentials, not about the accountability. Hence, Hooker (hardly a nascent let alone crypto-Anglo-Catholic – although, I grant, something of a real conservative in many respects), distinguishes between the autonomy of local (national) churches to order their own lives in matters “indifferent”, but insists that there is such a thing as “the whole Church” which can “tie the parts unto one an same thing” in certain matters, and it can do so by quite concrete methods, namely a “General Council” (Laws, IV.13.7f.). It is the fact that there could always be a General Council, even of disparate denominations, that demonstrates the reality of “the Church” in this world as something that is other than a local congregation. That such a General Council has not actually taken place in a very long time indeed does not contradict the fact that it could still take place.

Hooker did not have any notion of an "Anglican Communion" per se. But nor did he have a notion of "Anglicanism" as a shared sensibility or way of local churches being church. He had a very strong sense of "Reformed churches", which together make up (with others) "the Whole Church". He talks about all this quite a bit. Hooker does indeed have a sense of “parts” (local) and “whole” in this regard.

But does it make sense to call a collection of “parts” – that is, a collection of local “churches” -- also a “church”, even if it is not the “whole Church”? Of course it does, if it is so desired by the parts in question (hence, in our day, a “covenant” between them.). Just as it is possible to call a national collection of local congregations a “church”, insofar as they have ordered their lives with and through one another as a limited means by which they fulfill their vocation as Christian people. After all, such national (or, even in some caess, multi-national provincial) churches are no less unclearly related to the Whole Church, or to local congregations as any other grouping.

There is no reason in theory, therefore, that the Anglican Communion cannot be rightly called “a church”, any more than the Anglican Province of Central Africa can be called “a church” or the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe can be called a church, or the Cathedral in Harare can be called a church. But has the Anglican Communion in fact been a church in the past? Is it now? Should we wish it be? I would answer “yes” to the first (on historical grounds, not least of which are the external constraints on American Episcopalian life contained within our Prayer Book – not to mention strange little quirks like AS calling Canterbury “our Archbishop”), “murky” to the second (on the basis of contradictory Christian witness), and “yes” to the third, on the basis of theological imperative. It is the last that is most at issue, I suppose, in the minds of some today. I would simply say here that, given the murkiness of Christian witness with regard to the present – a murkiness that has much in common with the scandals of past Christian unfaithfulness – we are in fact called by God to a more integral way being both a local church, and a local church that properly lives into the fullness of “the whole Church”, whose reality has been obscured (obviously, given debates about whether it even exists during these days).

In a time of Christian disintegration on a number of fronts, reaffirming the limited and provisional integrity of the Anglican Communion as a church, is a faithful step in the repentance and healing of all churches for the sake of the Whole Church, whose integrity the Anglican Communion can at best only serve, not take the place of. And as for the actual nature of the Whole Church, that is probably currently veiled from our understanding, concretely, until such time as we are willing to pass through the labor of such service.

The speculated linkage AS makes here between these kinds of theological reflections and other political attitudes and strategies is, I am afraid, factually off the mark.

Ephraim Radner

At 1:14 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Father Radner,

Thanks for stopping by in what may well have seemed and unduly critical environment.

First, on how "church" should be understood: then, in another post, I'll address historical questions.

The fact there may be many churches and can only be exactly one Body of Christ--taking the manner of speech in the Pauline corpus as normative here, at least for the moment--seems on the face of it not to be much of a mystery.

To say there may be many churches but can only be one Church is no more mysterious than the fact there can be many humans but Mankind--or humanity--can only be one.

Thus--and this seems important--when you say

"Ephesians, for instance, makes it clear that whatever integrity a local church has, it has it because it is informed by the reality of Scriptural and apostolic teaching (e.g. 2:20), which provide a foundation that it holds in common with other local churches"

I think you are absolutely right--in a literal sense, taking "informed" and "foundation that it holds in common" with ontological seriousness. That is, there exists a common form of ecclesial life necessary for any church's being, which is analogous to what Aquinas or Scotus would have called a "common nature."

Even when you say

"But “the Church” is not only, for Paul, an idea or form that is instantiated in distinct local churches – so that the “only” church in a concrete and historical sense is local"

I will completely agree. Let us surrender the notion of atomic substances to the dustbin of history, and affirm together that some relations are contitutive, as, for instance, an infant's relation to its mother might contitute its ego. But note, this relational conception of ousia and the notion of natura communis are logically consistent.

It is consistent to see the being of the church multiply located and yet one insofar as the same specific being is present in each instantiation--while it is required, as a matter of being, that each local instantiation stand in a certain constitutive relation to other instantiations: no inconsistency here.

In particular, one should not think of parts--individual churches--in a way that need deny
their unity as tokens of a type, or their intergral unity, as needing to stand in a certain relation to be what they should be. That is where I think we are conceptually divided.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

The Anglican Scotist said...
Father Radner,
I picture, perhaps wrongly, that while acknowledging the relational ousia or esse of Christian churches, you would deny that there is a natura communis of ecclesial being, since you would view admission of such a natura communis as inconsistent with the churches' relational entity; to the contrary, I see relational entity as compatible with having a nature, and would recommend that view to you or to anyone else interested as the truth of the matter. Again, I think our most important difference of opinion is there.

Now on to questions about history or fact. It is a fact that analogical adaptation is a nearly ubiquitous fact of language use. Consider these (borrowing from JF Ross):

She dropped the course.
She dropped her glasses.
She dropped her gaze.
She dropped the beat.

The uses of "dropped" above are not univocal, but are not purely equivocal either; the term seems to adapt to different contexts while maintaining a certain likeness. The same can be said of your uses above of "church" (for a cathedral, a province, an institution)--where you see univocity perhaps, I see analogical adaptation.

More to the point, consider:

The horse is healthy.
The horse's urine is healthy.
The horse's food is healthy.

Here analogical adaptation is governed by a prior use--attributing health to the horse. Just so, the urine is healthy as a sign of the horse's health, and the food is healthy as a partial cause of the horse's health.

The same is true of "church"--there is a prior sense that binds the others, "church" as it applies to the Body of Christ, and there are analogical adaptations of that prior use, as when we call the Roman Catholic Church a church.

But not all adaptations are the same (as in the case of "healthy" adaptation may follow being a sign, or a cause, etc)--the RCC instantiates the nature "church," and in instantiating the nature is individuated. The Anglican Communion, at the moment, is a church in a different sense, not by instantiation, but by another relation than that of instantiation to the Body of Christ: perhaps, as you suggest, by member churches-by-instantiation covenanting themselves into an organization which itself is not a church-by -instantiation, but a church in the sense of being an organization composed of churches-by-instantiation.

Anyhow, that might be the "reason in theory" you claimed did not exist. If you have an objection to it, it would be nice to hear it. Or perhaps you would agree?

The crucial point, maybe the most important point to raise, is where repentance should lead--what kind of amendment of life is called for? It seems a sound answer to that question requires a sound grasp of What the Church as Body of Christ is, and What the various churches are.

On the view I have espoused, it could be that churches may better live into what they are for the time being--addressing the privations from which they ought to repent--by remaining provincial, multiple location in no way implying fragmentation.That is concictent with agreeing to a binding covenant--but it need not call for making or acknowledging the Anglican Communion itself is a church in the sense the RCC is a church.

Let me close for the time being by hoping these replies find you, and that you might find time to reply.

Todd Bates


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