Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Welcome to Anthony Paul Smith

I'd like to welcome one of The Continuum's newest readers, Anthony Paul Smith. I don't have a clue who he is, but I wanted to share with you his take on the debate about the future of The Episcopal Church under a presiding bishop who is not a Christian.

I discovered it linked from a site called adamkotsko.com/weblog:

Question for all the real theologians out there.

Why the hell would you want to have debates like this? To all the throw back Anglicans, is not your church going the way of the buffalo? And don't you think it a bit convenient for you, the true believers, to have the "priestess" as scapegoat? Fuck that noise. I'll take paganism over this sexist and vaguely racist bullshit any day. I wonder what hope there is for any kind of catholic and orthodox Christianity today to escape from this kind of reactionary bullshit.


I would love to respond, but I'm not really quite sure what it is he's on about.

Perhaps Anthony Paul would be kind enough to elucidate.

42 comments:

albion said...
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albion said...
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Discard said...

A graduate student in Britian, in a religious studies program, to be exact.

albion said...

Thank you, Discard (an interesting choice of monicker, given the Episcopal Church's moves to discard 2,000 years of Christian belief).

From your response, it is impossible to determine whether you are Anthony Paul, whether you know him or whether you have just done more research than I have. Whatever the case, I would welcome his entering into discussion on the subject he himself raised. I have had at least 30 hits from the Kotsko site since I posted the item, so eventually the word may get out.

In the meantime, may I propose a first point of discussion? The thrust of the post on Mrs Schori was that she does not appear to believe that Jesus Christ is, as he said he was, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. As a result, Mrs Schori places herself outside what has been a defining element of the Christian faith since the beginning. I, therefore, stand by my assertion that Mrs Schori is not a Christian.

Question One: Would he dispute the facts as stated above and, if so, on what grounds?

Question Two: How does he equate the post's assertions on the uniqueness of Christ with sexism and racism, as he appears to do?

A final point. I copied Anthony's post verbatim, so as not to fall foul of any eventual accusation that I was manipulating his words. I have been admonished by one of my co-hosts for having done so, on the grounds that one of the words might be offensive to readers. If anyone has been offended, my apologies.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"I have been admonished by one of my co-hosts for having done so, on the grounds that one of the words might be offensive to readers. If anyone has been offended, my apologies."

If there are children about then I apologize. Otherwise I assumed I was speaking with adults.

I've expanded at The Weblog.

"Question One: Would he dispute the facts as stated above and, if so, on what grounds?" Yes, provisionally so. Does she affirm the Nicene creed during the liturgy? If she does, I see no reason to have her burned as a witch for attempting to deal with the fact that other religious truth claims exist.

"Question Two: How does he equate the post's assertions on the uniqueness of Christ with sexism and racism, as he appears to do?"

She was compared to a pagan priestess. The pagan aspect covers the racism and the belief that somehow the magic doesn't happen if a penis is absent covers the sexism.

albion said...

Now we're getting somewhere!

Anthony has just updated his original post, with the following. There is a lot to unpack here, but as I have a nasty case of bronchitis, my brain is a bit addled, and I am not going to attempt any response for the moment.


Update: Now with an ‘argument’!

Thought I should add some more in case some friends from Vanderbilt drop by. What bothers me about this kind of discourse, which can be summed up as "Kill the witch!", is that it doesn't take seriously our historical situation. As a fellow traveller with Christian orthodoxy I understand why you want your leaders to affirm the fundamental creeds. Even on a PR level it just looks better if your leader says in public, "We have the truth, they don't." I understand that. Really, I do. What I don't understand is why intelligent people refuse to take seriously problems of truth and difference in our inter-faith world, and one could argue the most intelligent philosophical theologians of our age fall into this category. John Milbank and David Bentley Hart leap most immediately to mind, the former has even been very explicit in his affirmation of a certain kind of British (and thus Christian) imperialism in a move that out-Zizeks Zizek and the latter may fall pray to a certain kind of exoticism I've seen in many converts to Eastern Orthodoxy (an exoticism I'm not above!). Now Milbank's views on this are honest if not a little insipid. But I can't help but wonder what amount of bad faith is present here. How much such arguments really matter in the world we live in. It seems to me that the blog I linked to is pretty insular, able to constitute themselves as the remnant saved from destruction.

Now, this seems to be the problem in the Episcopalian church. Everyone is a goddamn martyr. Every aspect of this debate sets themselves up as the victim, the one standing up for God, the future of the church, etc. So the discussion never leaves a kind of fairytale land. We never get to either the absolute or the singular, but skewed versions of them. The homosexual priest. Our orthodoxy vs. their heresy.

Now, from the few interviews I've read with Bishop Jefferts Schori she doesn't appear all that unorthodox. In the interview alluded to by Albion she comes across like a wishy-washy liberal and she probably is! But to declare that she is not a Christian is show one's own lack of Christian humility and charity. (Ah, but DBH wants us at war! I'd provide a link but the website I'm alluding to is down.) In other interviews she's discussed issues of holding people to their baptismal vows and I'm willing to guess she affirms the Nicene creed during the liturgy (assuming her church does the liturgy, though the fact that the low-church evangelical protestant contingent in the Episcopalian church is more likely to agree with Albion should give him pause), which seems to me more important than what she was saying on NPR to a secular audience. That is to say, regardless of how badly she went about it, I read that interview as an attempt to navigate the current situation within her piety. Perhaps the theologians job, whether they be lay or academic, is to enter into the conversation as fellow Christians. To get off of their island and engage the Bishop instead of wishing the Anglican Communion had an Office of the Inquisition.

poetreader said...

I seem to see a certain inconsistency in Anthony Paul's use of terms like 'witch-burning' and 'inquisition'. It would appear that we are being dubbed as evil people because of a considered opinion that Ms. Schori has stepped beyond the limits of Christianity. Are we being subjected to sa witch hunt for expressing such views? I certainly get that impression.

If, as Traditional Christians certainly believe, in accord with both Scripture and two millennia of Christian tradition, that salvation comes, not from the efforts or discoveries of humanity, but from the revelation of God in Christ, through the Cross and Resurrection of Him who is the eay and the truth and the life -- if that is what we believe, is it somehow an evil thing for us to say it? If we believe ourselves to be right, would it be kind not to say it?

At any rate, what we are saying is not that Ms. Schori is a spectacularly bad individual -- that appears not to be the case at all -- but that she represents a religion that has cast loose from many of the central aspects of historic Christianity, and should not, therefore be labeled as Christian.


ed

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Anthony,

For what it's worth, as far as I can see, "Bishop" Schori is certainly materially heretical by the standards of the Vincentian Canon. However, having fuzzy ideas about how other religions might function as "roads to God" does not make her an apostate. She has not denied Christ or the doctrines of the Trinity or the Incarnation, though she may hold to them mixed with errors even here for all I know. She is therefore a Christian, but a deeply heterodox one in the area of soteriology.

As for easy accusations of sexism and racism, it is precisely that sort of cliched "cheap shot" that is in fact unwelcome amongst adults trying to have a real discussion. The use of the word "pagan" has no racial connotations at all in traditional Christian discourse. It literally refers to "countryfolk", who in the early Church were usually evangelised after cityfolk. Later it applied to the unconverted Europeans. Later to any unconverted ethnic group. Today in the West it usually refers to consciously post-Christian culture and its more enthusiastic participants.

If you think that sexual differentiation is limited to the human "plumbing", so to speak, or that such differentiation could not possibly have both ontological and symbolic dimensions relevant to priesthood (which is being a walking sacrament, in a sense), you are seriously misinformed. There is more to being a man than having male genitals, more to being a woman than having a womb, but that "more" has a continuity with the biological aspects that actually means something.

Finally, many orthodox theologians have written intelligently about "inter-faith" issues. You just may not like what they have said. Unfortunately for the comfortable ambiguities of relativism, Christians believe in the validity of reason, including the law of non-contradiction. This requires accepting that if you are certain particular propositions are true or, more to the point when it comes to us and God, particular commands are genuinely from God and oblige obedience, then you must be logically consistent and reject incompatible truth-claims. That's not imperialism. It's just refusing to talk nonsense.

albion said...

The following comment from Anthony Paul would suggest that he does not respect the ethos of this blog, which is to share in "robust, if polite, discussion of matters theological and ecclesiological."

Rather than speaking to the issues, he is engaging in ad hominem ridicule. I shall allow this comment to pass, removing the vulgarity about which he has already been brought to task. If he wishes to address the specifics of issues in a civil fashion, his further comments will be welcome; if not, not.

His comment:

"I seem to see a certain inconsistency in Anthony Paul's use of terms like 'witch-burning' and 'inquisition'. It would appear that we are being dubbed as evil people because of a considered opinion that Ms. Schori has stepped beyond the limits of Christianity. Are we being subjected to sa witch hunt for expressing such views? I certainly get that impression."

Nice try. It is always a fun argument, "But he's intolerant of our intolerance!" Of course, that's not actually what I said, so it misses the mark.

As the rest of your confused and uncritical question - why is there any value in Traditional Christianity (why is it capitalized?)? How do you decide what parts of your history make it in to your Traditional Christianity and which parts don't?

As to whether or not the Bishop has cast off central tenets of the faith, that is hardly clear. You have a few lines from an interview on NPR. The more important question is, does she affirm the Nicene Creed during the liturgy? Is that not the most central text of the tradition outside of scripture? I do think you're going to get confused between a fairy tale Traditional Christianity and the messy history that actually constitutes Christianity.

"Father" Kilby,

If you're ignorant of the racial connotations of pagan with regards to European Christianity I suggest you enrol in a world history course. Of course pagan meant "country people" (despite my being 23 I do know this!), but it was also used to rile up Christian, even traditional Christian, soldiers in war against non-Christians. Of course, I doubt the history of violence in the Christian church troubles you as, traditionally, it was everyone else’s fault. Right?

Your views on the ontological aspects of men and women lack any kind of rigour. The only thing I have to do is find a good women priest or minister in the world and you're proven wrong. By your logic, of course, you're not wrong because essentially women can't be priests either for some mystical ontological aspect you leave undetermined or because they lack a …. But you were saying something about believing in the validity of reason? I guess that only goes up to a point eh?

Regarding contradictory truth claims from different religions - first, you shouldn't be so quick to label me a relativist "Father". Second, you're acting as if there was some way to easily verify these claims. I have to be rude about this, but the idiocy of believing you have this kind of truth is staggering. Absolutely staggering.

I didn't expect to change anyone's minds, after all you've got the truth on your side, but really the lack of critical thinking is disturbing brothers. If you feel the need to make yourselves irrelevant that is fine, I simply wanted to bring attention to my critical theologian friends those that exist in their church.

albion said...
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Anthony Paul Smith said...

"The following comment from Anthony Paul would suggest that he does not respect the ethos of this blog, which is to share in "robust, if polite, discussion of matters theological and ecclesiological.""

You're right, I don't share your "ethos" that sees any attack on you or your own as "ad homeinum", while you engage in calling others pagans or doubt the sincerity of their faith. Robust? Insular, that's the only kind of debate I see here. Re: language - grow up.

poetreader said...

I merely have to comment that the lack of critical thinking and the refusal to offer reasoned discussion of specific points leaves is nowhere to go with this discussion. I'm sorry Anthony that you find it necessary to hurl insults at people who disagree with you, instead of trying to find out exactly what they are saying. If you ever find yourself willing to carry on a reasoned and respectful conversation with people you disagree with, we are more than ready for the same. Otherwise, there isn't much pirpose in continuing this.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have no time to waste trying to argue with a person who must resort to the tactics of Ezekiel Bulver. Smith is incapable of making a coherent and intellectually sustainable argument, and so he must rant like an idiot and revel in pure emotion. If he wants to cry "witch burner!" as if it were an answer to theological criticism, then he is beneath our level of erudition and reason. His profanity displays a lack of expressive ability, and it reveals childish anger. Frankly, I am embarassed for this young man (and if he thinks that he is able to understand my brother or John Milbank, then I fear he gives himself too much credit).

As for Ms. Schorri, I believe that we have treated her with the respect she deserves, namely, to be taken at her word. Her word is apostate, and just who are we to change that on her behalf? And, who is Smith to presume to make her orthodox against her will?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way, if he pleases. Mr. Smith may take the above as ad hominem. The problem is, the shoe really does fit.

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"I have no time to waste trying to argue with a person who must resort to the tactics of Ezekiel Bulver."

Just how much time did you to take to write this then?

"Smith is incapable of making a coherent and intellectually sustainable argument, and so he must rant like an idiot and revel in pure emotion."

And if I find the "arguments" given here unpersuasive, are you we just going to go back and forth like children? "I know you are, but what I am?" No one has really given an argument here, just stated things like, women and men are ontologically different as if that counts as "sustainable argument".

"If he wants to cry "witch burner!" as if it were an answer to theological criticism, then he is beneath our level of erudition and reason."

Let's see, what did I actually say? "What bothers me about this kind of discourse, which can be summed up as "Kill the witch!", is that it doesn't take seriously our historical situation." Ah yes, I said your discourse amounted to this. That, despite your very high level of erudition and reason, you weren't dealing with issues that our historical situation is calling for us to deal with. I'm not convinced that you're my betters with regard to reason, for I've only been told repeatedly that I'm unreasonable and you respect reason.

"His profanity displays a lack of expressive ability, and it reveals childish anger."

Actually, profanity is very expressive. I'd demonstrate but it would just be edited. I don't think it reveals childish anger, but if it does I hardly think that's a sin. Though it's hard not to get angry when you claim someone is apostate who in fact is not. Unless you can show me an interview or get her to tell you that she denies Christ and refuses to affirm the Nicene Creed, she's not apostate. I do have to have to wonder what God will do with such self-righteousness.

"Frankly, I am embarassed [sic] for this young man (and if he thinks that he is able to understand my brother or John Milbank, then I fear he gives himself too much credit)."

Is that because one has to be of such a high level of erudition and reason to understand them? I have to say, it's really not that difficult to read John or your brother and that, despite any confusion you may have despite your high level of erudition, one can even disagree with them. I'm sure you, or at least some here, take issue with John's stance on who can be ordained as priest. But perhaps that's because he's just so hard to read! Except, of course, that he's not hard to read once you read the philosophers he's cribbing notes off of. As to your bother, I think he is brilliant in his own way, but I think he shares with John some real misreadings of the philosophical canon and a certain perchance to commit violence by way of reduction to their thought. Which is fine, but I would hope people of high erudition and reason would at least be able to admit that as they read him. But I'm giving myself too much credit, of course, so you can just take this as the idiotic ravings of someone you don't agree with. That should help you not to waste your time.

albion said...

I am glad to see we are beginning to approach rational discourse here.

Might I suggest to all those participating in this discussion that we now go to the heart of it, which is the question of whether the current presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church is suited, by virtue of her public pronouncements, to head an institution that defines itself as Christian?

I maintain that she is not, based on what I have read and heard her say. I would happily be proven wrong.

Anthony has several times raised a very valid question, asking whether there is evidence that Schori has refused to affirm the Nicene Creed. I cannot say that I have ever seen her, in any of her published remarks, publicly renounce the Nicene Creed. In fact, I do not recall ever seeing her make reference to the Creed.

But is is a bit disingenous to limit oneself to questioning the orthodoxy of someone by whether or not they recite the Nicene Creed. In fact, there are numerous examples of priests and bishops in the Anglican world who openly acknowledge that they recite the creed "with their fingers crossed."

We can only judge people by what they say and do. And Katharine Schori holds a position that demands of her that she speak clearly to the faith that she is solemnl obliged to uphold. I do not believe that she is doing that.

Let me remind you of what I said in the post that you found offensive:

"Katharine Schori ... cannot or will not affirm one of the basic tenets of the Christian faith -- that Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. A sad day it is when an institution claiming to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church chooses as its leader someone who does not hold, or is at least incapable of expressing the fact that she does hold, to one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. In fact, on rereading, I am not even sure that she recognises Jesus as God. I not only do not recognise her as the head of her church, I do not recognise her as a Christian."

Anthony, you have repeatedly accused us of un-christian behavior by presuming to judge the orthodoxy of Katharine Schori. I submit to you that it is the duty of every Christian to be assured that those whose solemn and sworn responsibility it is to pass on the faith and to guard it against all false doctrine do just that. As a student of history, you will be aware that at many times of crisis in the Church, bishops have been anathematised and excommunicated for failing to do just that.

Warwickensis said...

Mr Smith,

obviously you are very passionate in your defence of Mrs. Schori as being a Christian woman.

I see a lot of invective directed against the owners of this blog, and largely against the religion that I hold rather dear. I am assuming that such invective is your needing to let off steam whilst you try to put your point across to people whose minds, you confess, that you had never hoped to change. So you've let us know you're angry.

That's reasonable: the issue is indeed deeply personal since it goes to the heart of what it means to belong to God, and how we might best deepen that relationship. If an issue should bring out anger, then it is this. I think all of us have lost our temper about understanding God's relationship with Man, and I will freely admit that I have lost my temper with Him on similar grounds. However "be angry and do not sin" says the text, and so we must all separate the argument from those who are debating if we wish to get any further.

Mr Smith, you've tapped into things that are obviously very well debated amongst us Anglo-Catholics. You have to understand our position, which I'm sure that you are aware, of following the Catholic Faith as has been handed down through Scripture and Tradition. This means that our arguments against the priesthood of women and against a more liberal reading of "I am the Way the Truth and the Life" and Luke's testimony in Acts iv.12 are understood in exactly the same sense as when they were written through the Traditional interpretation of Scripture - at least we believe it to be so.

So if you weren't hoping to change our minds, what do you want of us?
Do you wish us to explain what we believe to you, since clearly it is not a belief that you hold? Please ask and let us know and perhaps we can come to a mutual understanding of each others' positions in the matter.

Thank you for posting.

albion said...

Last night I recieved a comment from someone identifying himself (herself) as JD and claiming to be a theologian. I asked JD to honor the rules of discourse here and to give his full name with the comment. He has refused to do so. However, for the sake of moving the debate forward, I will post JD's comment. AL

I am one of those "critical" theologians to whom Anthony was referring in his original post. While I do think that your biases - perhaps they are bigotries, we will leave that undefined for the moment - will most likely prevent you from hearing anything from a theologian from Vanderbilt (that bastion of the liberalism you so obviously despise), I nonetheless feel the need to speak. I have watched this debate unfold since yesterday evening, and the way you have dismissed Anthony has, to put is bluntly, angered me.

So, let me make a few things clear about where I am coming from. I am an Anglican, and a "traditional" Anglican at that. Additionally, I am an Anglican theologian working in the traditional Anglican way of theological reflection: I work with Patristic and Medieval sources, I privilege history, and I do not shy away from metaphysics. If I had my liturgical druthers, I'd participate in sarum mass, rather than the most recent form of the prayer book.

Now, let me make the following "rational" points.

First: if you are unable to see that your reasons for discontinuing this conversation with Anthony - i.e., ad hominem, etc. - are exactly the same form of your claims against Schori, then at best you are "idiotic," and at worst you are disingenous and sanctimonious - the latter characterization, of course, being far worse, since anyone can excuse an idiotic attempt at truth-telling.

Second: as such, your own attempts to 'preserve' the 'traditional' form of the faith are, at least in their execution, no more noble then that which accuse Schori of. That is, if you are right that Schori has done a poor job of witnessing to proper Christian belief, then your exchange with Anthony - one who does not 'believe' - you must admit, is no better witness than what you accuse her of. At least, that is, in terms of your own duty as a disciple to proclaim the euangelion of Jesus Christ.

Third: given the rather glib way that certain of your readers are so willing to place the title "Bishop" in quotations marks before Schori's name, one, such as myself, is lead to wonder just how attentive to "2,000 years of Christian belief your readership is. You may recall that one of the most definitive moments in the formation of Christian doctrine occured during the Donatist controversy, wherein those who questioned the authority and validity of the bishop's office, even in the face of an overtly apostate bishop (who had literally and publically denied Jesus Christ), were deemed to be the truly heretical ones. Now, considering the fact that there is no official statement regarding how one is to comport oneself toward other religions in the face of the claim that Jesus is the one way to the Father, it would seem that the much more dangerous path, the more heretical path, the more unchristian path, would be to deny the legitimacy of, or even ironically distance oneself from, Schori's office. (Incidentally, this also applies to the issue of homosexuality within the church, thus making the onus of responsibility squarely with those who would claim to be 'orthodox' in their denial of any bishop whatsoever.) And, let it be said, this is not a matter of negotiation; it is well established in the Christian tradition, and if you wish to deny it, you are going to have to significantly rework the whole of the Christian doctrinal tradition you prize to dearly.

So, fourth: it would appear, to this theologian, who is, indeed, quite concerned with orthodoxy and tradition, that you are not so interested in offering a truthful presentation of the gospel to the world, and especially non-believers; nor does it appear that you care very much at all for Christian orthodoxy. It, rather, seems to this humble, orthodox Anglican theologian, who believes with Augustine that the validity of any eucharistic celebration is established, not on the basis of assent to propositional statements, but on the basis of unity in charity, that you are more concerned with wiping out the specter of all that which makes this demand of charitable unity difficult. That is, your appeal to the 'hard' kernel of dogma is itself a denial of it - one which points more to your own fears and lack of belief then it does the virtue of your cause.

albion said...

Here is my response to the first issue raised by JD:

JD:

Thank you for your comment, which I shall attempt to deal with point by point over the course of several comments. Unlike you, I am not a theologian. I am, however, a student of theology, and will endeavour to speak to your assertions as best I can. My co-hosts are far more versed in theology than I, but it is up to them whether they choose to respond.

Let me just say that I hope we can take this conversation to a new level, and debate in an atmosphere of Christian charity.

You said:

"I am one of those 'critical' theologians to whom Anthony was referring in his original post. While I do think that your biases - perhaps they are bigotries, we will leave that undefined for the moment - will most likely prevent you from hearing anything from a theologian from Vanderbilt (that bastion of the liberalism you so obviously despise), I nonetheless feel the need to speak. I have watched this debate unfold since yesterday evening, and the way you have dismissed Anthony has, to put is bluntly, angered me."


I regret that you are angry, but I would suggest that you have no cause to be.

You say your anger has been caused by our dismissal of Anthony in this debate. I would put to you two points: there has been very little resembling genuine debate here and no one has dismissed Anthony, nor are we discontinuing conversation with him.

Allow me to remind you how this conversation began: Anthony saw fit to excoriate us about something I wrote on my site. Fair enough, as far as it goes. But he chose to do that on the adamkotsko site, which I only fortuitously discovered, rather than on The Continuum, as a comment about the Schori thread. The latter would have been the appropriate and courteous way to present his views.

And this is what he said:

"Why the hell would you want to have debates like this? To all the throw back Anglicans, is not your church going the way of the buffalo? And don't you think it a bit convenient for you, the true believers, to have the "priestess" as scapegoat? Fuck that noise. I'll take paganism over this sexist and vaguely racist bullshit any day. I wonder what hope there is for any kind of catholic and orthodox Christianity today to escape from this kind of reactionary bullshit."

Throw-backs. Buffaloes. True believers. Sexist and racist bullshit. Reactionaries.

I would put to you that this is not the sort of language that is likely to ellicit a pleasant response. Moreover, it was not structured in such a way as to lend itself to a reasoned and dispassionate response.

Yet this is what I said:

"I would love to respond, but I'm not really quite sure what it is he's on about.
Perhaps Anthony Paul would be kind enough to elucidate."

This is hardly dismissing him.

Anthony then did speak directly to us, and I also copied from the adamkotsko site the expanded version of his original statement. Unfortunately, dialogue was complicated by the fact that a parallel discussion was taking place at that site.

This is the remark I made:

"The following comment from Anthony Paul would suggest that he does not respect the ethos of this blog, which is to share in 'robust, if polite, discussion of matters theological and ecclesiological.'

"Rather than speaking to the issues, he is engaging in ad hominem ridicule. I shall allow this comment to pass, removing the vulgarity about which he has already been brought to task. If he wishes to address the specifics of issues in a civil fashion, his further comments will be welcome; if not, not."

I did not dismiss Anthony. I simply asked him to abide by the rules of discourse at The Continuum. His contributions, not to mention yours and those of others, are more than welcome here, if they do so.

This was Anthony’s response:

"You're right, I don't share your "ethos" that sees any attack on you or your own as "ad homeinum", while you engage in calling others pagans or doubt the sincerity of their faith. Robust? Insular, that's the only kind of debate I see here. Re: language - grow up."

In what I consider a reasonable and irenic response, Ed Pacht said the following:

"I merely have to comment that the lack of critical thinking and the refusal to offer reasoned discussion of specific points leaves is nowhere to go with this discussion. I'm sorry Anthony that you find it necessary to hurl insults at people who disagree with you, instead of trying to find out exactly what they are saying. If you ever find yourself willing to carry on a reasoned and respectful conversation with people you disagree with, we are more than ready for the same. Otherwise, there isn't much pirpose in continuing this."

And Fr Hart weighed in with the following comment:

"Smith is incapable of making a coherent and intellectually sustainable argument, and so he must rant like an idiot and revel in pure emotion. If he wants to cry "witch burner!" as if it were an answer to theological criticism, then he is beneath our level of erudition and reason. His profanity displays a lack of expressive ability, and it reveals childish anger. Frankly, I am embarassed for this young man (and if he thinks that he is able to understand my brother or John Milbank, then I fear he gives himself too much credit).

"As for Ms. Schorri, I believe that we have treated her with the respect she deserves, namely, to be taken at her word. Her word is apostate, and just who are we to change that on her behalf? And, who is Smith to presume to make her orthodox against her will?"

He also said:

"By the way, if he pleases. Mr. Smith may take the above as ad hominem. The problem is, the shoe really does fit."

Harsh words from Fr Hart, but not unreasonable, given Anthony’s aggressive tone from the outset. No one is dismissing Anthony. If anything, I would argue that he has dismissed us by engaging in name-calling and insult.

I, for one, am happy to move beyond personalities, whether individual or corporate. Let us try to do so.

Dave Hodges said...

JD said: "given the rather glib way that certain of your readers are so willing to place the title "Bishop" in quotations marks before Schori's name, one, such as myself, is lead to wonder just how attentive to 2,000 years of Christian belief your readership is. You may recall that one of the most definitive moments in the formation of Christian doctrine occured during the Donatist controversy . . . "

They don't put the word bishop in quotes because of what they believe to be her apostasy. They put it in quotes because even if she were the most orthodox, traditional Anglican in the entire universe, it does not change the fact that women cannot be bishops or priests. It's that simple. The Sacrament of Holy Orders cannot be conferred to a woman.

As exalted as Our Lady is, yea, the greatest saint of all time, born without sin even; yet she could never be bishop. Not because of a lack of virtue but because the office cannot be granted to a woman. Just in the same way, Our Lord could never have been borne from St. Joseph.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

It’s hard to know where to begin. First with Mr. Smith: No, I really do not think that you have exhibited erudition at all. You lack a grasp both of facts and of logic. You said, “Actually, profanity is very expressive.” So is a punch in the nose, or some Three Stooges antics like poking people’s eyes (not very clever comedy in my opinion- I much prefer the wit of Groucho Marx). The fact that you are using profanity reveals a lot about how clouded your reason is, clouded by exactly what I have called it, childish anger. Insulating yourself against arguments which may correct your opinion, you express yourself by insulting rather than debating, by cussing rather than polite conversation, making it impossible for me to take you very seriously. Frankly, all I see in your remarks, so far, is bigotry, that self-righteous kind of bigotry that “liberals” use in politics instead of addressing themselves to substantive argument. All you have really said to us is that Ms. Schori should not be taken to task for her public remarks, and that we are bad- really bad- for doing so. Well, until you say something that qualifies as an argument (which intelligent people can do with good manners) I can only say that you come across as a bigot, ranting and raving to drown out the sound of refutation.

As for JD: A theologian? I hardly think so, since the term suggests a level of education. Your writing suggests that the most education you have is very thin, sophomoric in fact. No, the Donatist controversy was not about anything similar to the subject of women in Holy Orders, and no, Saint Augustine did not consider as valid everything that conforms to the mere appearance of a sacrament. Were you writing for me as a student, whether of Theology or History (though, as Aristeides Papdakis said to me 26 years ago, “you cannot be a theologian unless you are a historian”), your grade would be “F” simply because you do not have your facts straight. The Donatists believed that the Christians who had renounced Christ under threat of death during the persecution ought never to be admitted back into the Church. Furthermore, they insisted on re-baptizing anyone baptized by a clergyman who had lapsed during the persecution and was later restored after repenting. Before it was over, some of their extreme members took to suicide by throwing themselves off of buildings in protest. Their harsh stance was repudiated by the Church as heresy.

Now, whenever someone tries to defend heresy on the basis of orthodoxy, namely accusing someone of heresy for rejecting heresy, it is not long before the charge of Donatism is thrown about by people who are as reckless as bulls in a china shop. They charge Donatism whenever anyone questions the validity of any sacrament. Never mind that to use an insistence on orthodoxy in order to defend heresy is an absurd spectacle in itself. The Donatist controversy dealt with the validity of true sacraments from restored ministers. Saint Augustine wrote about the validity of sacraments even when the minister is unworthy, and the Church Universal affirmed his teaching. Saint Augustine wrote against Donatism as a heresy, just as he wrote against Pelagianism as a heresy too. Now simple logic dictates that you cannot use the writings of someone who defended orthodoxy to complain that such a defense is always heresy, that it must be Donatism ever to question one’s orthodoxy. Otherwise the Donatists would have won, since who could then offer apologetics in reply? Throughout the History of the Church two things have remained visible. 1) Heresy has been exposed and refuted, and 2) the validity of sacraments has been taken very seriously. By JD’s paradigm it is wrong ever to do either of these, ironically enough, on the basis of being orthodox. Furthermore, heretical ministers, along with immoral ministers, have always been subject to the discipline of the Church to the degree warranted. The real Donatist position, unlike the false charge of the same leveled by JD, would be that such a minister cannot be restored ever, no matter how truly he may repent. It has nothing to do with our firm belief that no woman can be a priest, no matter how much she may be a saint; nothing to do with it at all. Furthermore, it is not a relevant charge to what Albion said in critique of Ms. Schori’s public remarks.

As for the way JD opened his correspondence, he presumes that anyone who holds to the views we have must do so on the basis of prejudice. In so doing, he has proved that he is completely ignorant of the volumes that have been written, and in fact ignorant of what we have written here over the last year. Until his education improves in this matter, and he learns why we reject the modern twists and turns of the Revisionists, he shows himself unequal to the task of debate. The charge of prejudice has a nasty way of falling back on the head of those who try to use it in place of reasoned argument.

And now, children, why don't the both of you pull up a chair, sit down, and converse like reasonable people, maybe even like grown ups?

Anthony Paul Smith said...

"Anthony, you have repeatedly accused us of un-christian behavior by presuming to judge the orthodoxy of Katharine Schori. I submit to you that it is the duty of every Christian to be assured that those whose solemn and sworn responsibility it is to pass on the faith and to guard it against all false doctrine do just that. As a student of history, you will be aware that at many times of crisis in the Church, bishops have been anathematised and excommunicated for failing to do just that."

I was unaware I was speaking with those who have the power to excommunicate. I assumed I was speaking to those who were under the authority of the Bishop (an assumption I see is wrong in some places).

Shorter Father Hart:
You may not enter into this debate until you agree to all the terms set forth and any refusal to do so shows that you are unlearned. No penis, no magic.

Well, that should really get all the children to sit down at your feet and marvel at your erudition. It hardly counts as 'reasoned', but rather coercive.

This is really quite pointless now and has even ceased to be entertaining.

Dave Hodges,

I apologize, but I can't take anyone who appears to like bad drawings and David Duke seriously. "The Sacrament of Holy Orders cannot be conferred to a woman." Yes, but why is that? No penis, no magic?

Jarrett said...

It is arguments precisely like this one - where both parties speak largely in insults, where both sides clearly have no respect for the other, where both sides accuse the other of distorting facts and history, where both parties clearly value being right and scoring points more than accomplishing anything useful - it is this type of dogfight that causes those outside the church to turn away in disgust.

We all have plenty of hatred, venom, antagonism, and arrogance in our lives as it is. We won't turn to the church if all it promises is more of the same.

-Jarrett Chaney

JD said...

Fr. Robert Hart,

I do not know why you feel the need to mock your audience? It is interesting that you did not address that aspect of my observations. But, on to more substantive issues.

First of all, I did not say enough about the Donatist controversy for you to make the assumptions that you do. Second, I never said that Augustine said that anything that merely approached the semblance of a sacrament was a sacrament.

Since, I agree with your teacher's assessment of a theologian, let's back up and really do some history, shall we?

What is really at issue in the Donatist controversy is how to interpret Cyprian's writings in the midst of the controversies surrounding the immediate aftermath of the Decian persecution. The specific text in question is On the Unity of the Catholic Church, which has its own problems of interpretation because Maurice Bévenot isolated two different versions of the text, which also suggest a third.

As best we can tell, the original received text was most likely written by Cyprian in the Spring of 251 and was intended to exhort the faithful of his congregation and rebuke the lapsed in their midst. The point of this version was to combat the growing notion that a written statement from an imprisoned, and soon to be executed martyr, could circumvent the bishop and provide forgiveness and reinstatement to the lapsed. Cyprian's point is that only the bishop can forgive sins.

Now, the second manuscript, found by Bévenot, varies the argument. And, as Bévenot notes, it appears to be a different version of the same argument sent to the bishops in Rome in the Summer of 251. This latter version emphasizes, not simply the prerogative of any single bishop, but the unity of the episcopal college itself as the locus of forgiveness. The argument, however, throughout both is for the unity of first the local, then the global church, and this in the face of both "laxists" and "rigorists" in North Africa. (The third revision of the text was most likely produced during the rebaptism controversy of 256, and I may make a few notes about it, but not presently.)

Now, all that needs to be noted here, for our purposes, is that Cyprian comes to see, even in the midst of this one argument, that the power to forgive sins does not reside in the single, local bishop, but is a "unified power" passed on directly from Christ and shared by the episcopate as a whole. (Cf. Cyprian's "Letter 33," e.g.)

Now, all of this is only important insofar as it is rooted in a logic of ritual purity. Cyprian did not believe that secret sins or improper performance of rituals contaminated the community, but he did insist that schism was a form of idolatry, and as such all rituals performed therein were contaminating. (You can see the sense in which your own logic tracks quite close to this; we will see the significance of it momentarily.) Thus, the importance of the matter lies with the fact that Cyprian did not consider a schismatic minister to be able to sanctify the flock because that minister had abdicated his share in the unified power of the episcopate. Hence, Cyprian requires a great vigilance about adherence to structural forms, precisely for reasons of ritual purification.

Now, when Augustine began to write against the Donatists, this Cyprianic legacy was sacrosanct: he had upheld the unity of the North African Church after the Decian persecution and overcome the difficulties associated with both the laxist and rigorist schisms. And, the fact that he died a martyr under the Valerian persecution only sealed the deal. Thus, it was within this Cyprianic framework that the Donatist controversy even became a possibility.

So, when the Diocletian persecution ended, the North African church was in a situation similar to that surrounding the immediate aftermath of the Decian persecution. And, through a series of events associated with an alleged lapsing of bishop Caecilian, the North African church was forced to revisit the problem of schism. Cyprian’s writings had given the North African Church an understanding of the bishop as a ‘conduit’ for either purity or contamination, in essence. And the Donatists, outraged by the possibility of a faulty conduit, insisted that any Christian united with an apostate bishop must be understood to be ritually contaminated. As such, the Donatists believed themselves to be obliged to withdraw from the larger (contaminated) communion, which had affirmed the validity of Caecilian’s seat. What they sought was a purified line of apostolic succession.

So, taking up Cyprian’s emphasis on purity, but – note this specifically – compromising his insistence on unity, the Donatists continued the practice of rebaptism that had been championed by Cyprian and affirmed by the North African synod (against the bishop of Rome, mind you) in 256. Augustine emerged into this debate as the leader of the catholic party, and he developed his entire argument against the Donatist by turning Cyprian on his head, basically. That is, he more fully developed the logic of sacramentality, away from the notion of ritual purity (the Donatist platform), and emphasized ecclesial purity. (You will note, Augustine’s theory of the Real Presence, ecclesial unity, and the Holy Spirit all converge on this point of unity: it is an interior, loving intentionality that binds the church together; as such, it is “invisible” even while it is visibly manifest.)

What did Augustine say? Well, in On Baptism, the Cyprianic stakes are made clear. The Donatists are arguing that any apostate minister cannot exercise the episcopal power to forgive sins. And (just as the anglicancontinuum argues), they were mostly concerned with the fact that an apostate minister was practicing idolatry. Now the first parts of Book I are concerned with rebaptism, and are not completely important for our present discussion. But there is one decisive point of note: namely, Augustine argued that even Cyprian was wrong for “not distinguishing the sacrament from the effect of use of the sacrament” (On Baptism 6.1.) Their error lies then in the fact that they argue that “[the sacrament’s] effect [here both ordination and baptism] and use were not found among heretics in freeing them from their sins and setting their hearts right, the sacrament was also thought to lacking among them” (Ibid.)

Now, the most important part of the argument pertains to the notion of purity. Augustine argued that even the Donatists could not maintain their own standards of purity precisely because those standards are incorrect. If they were right, then no Christian could ever be certain of the minister’s holiness. But, he says, we are certain that the forgiveness of sins does not rest on such a feeble foundation, and therefore this capacity for forgiveness cannot be understood as a capacity inhering to the minister. Rather, Christ is always the minister of the sacrament “however polluted and unclean its ministers might be” (ibid, 3.15.)

Thus, Augustine demonstrated that sacramental efficacy could not be a matter of the minister’s ritual or moral purity; and, he also separated sacramental validity from any essential unity with episcopal authority (this is the reason, we do not rebaptize.) Augustine says then that even schismatic groups must be understood to have genuine sacraments, even going so far as to say that they can genuinely confer them. What he does not say is that those sacraments are effective for salvation, but note carefully that this argument has absolutely nothing to do with the authority or status of the bishop; rather, it has everything to do with the unity of the church itself, in charity, which the Donatists have broken! Let me say a bit more about this.

Augustine basically reconfigured how a sacrament’s efficacy was to be judged. He did this by conceiving the function of the episcopate as an extension of the church, by subsuming it into the church, and thereby associating the efficacy of a sacrament directly with the universal church as such, operating in the unity of charity (cf. On Baptism 1.16-22.) The efficacy of the sacrament was then to be correlated to the intentions of the recipient; it was not to be a matter of the community within which the ritual was performed, nor was it to be a matter of the moral or ritual condition of the minister. Ritual pollution was solely a matter of the recipient’s intentionality: “because its inherent sanctity cannot be polluted, the divine excellence abides in the sacrament, whether to the salvation of those who use it aright, or to the destruction of those who use it wrongly” (ibid., 3.15.) This meant that ‘true church’ had to be understood henceforth as a matter of internal, charitable intention, rather than external ritual behavior. As such, the Eucharist is the most decisive Christian sacrament insofar as it is the locus where the intention of unity in charity is displayed; and, thus schismatics are de facto, not participating in that union, not manifesting that charity. Beyond this, Augustine insisted that what constituted a true member of the body of Christ was one’s will being united to the saints in love.

And, this incidentally corresponded to Augustine’s realization that John 20:18, which Cyprian had interpreted as referring to the apostles, actually spoke of conferring the Holy Spirit on the disciples. As such, bishops and ministers were simply those endowed with the authority to exercise the communal power operative within the community itself, as the Body of Christ. Note, this authority was tied, not to a power ritually conferred on them by Christ, but to the minister’s status as an instrument of Christ. In this way, the standard of ritual purity is of no real consequence with regard to the minister as such, but rather refers to the society of saints themselves (who are not to be facilely equated with the visible church as such.) Purity is henceforth a matter of intentional charity, and not a matter of ritual purity.

This is what I was noting in my prior comment. And, this is what undermines your most basic arguments against Schori. If you wished to follow the suggestion of my friend, Anthony, and indict her for being a wishy-washy liberal, that is quite ok; and, I would agree. But, indeed, let us actually be clear on what we are claiming when we are charging our leaders with “idolatry.” The consequences, as I have tried to show, could be quite “unorthodox.”

And, thus, if you are not a theologian until you are an historian, then it is I, Fr. Hart, who give you an “F.”

albion said...

Jarrett,

Thank you for your comment.

You have spoken words that needed to be spoken. For you, or anyone, to turn away from the Church in disgust because of what we who represent the Church might say or do would be a great tragedy, and would bring terrible judgment on those of us responsible.

I do not know you, so I cannot presume to speak directly to what may or may not be your pilgrimage. I would only ask that you judge us on the merits of what we have said, and how we have responded to those who have approached us with ridicule and contempt.

You are right to say that the world is full of hatred, venom, antagonism, and arrogance. But I ask you to show me where there has been any of those things in my words, or in the words of any of my co-hosts on this blog. I have sought from the beginning to guide this conversation toward a plane where people with different points of view might set aside whatever might serve to cause antagonism and to discuss their differences as disapassionately as passionately held beliefs allow. And I do not want to try to "score points" here, but I ask you to tell me how we might have responded differently to our antagonists.

I would also ask you to acknowledge that in such matters, the use of words, and the resort to "facts" and "history" require as much precision as possible. There is nothing wrong with challenging the the correctness of what is said by one's opponent in a debate. Quite the contrary, it is necessary, if truth is to emerge.

Again, thank you for your comment. If you are a man of prayer, I would ask that you pray for each of us on this blog, as we struggle to be faithful stewards and ministers of the Gospel.

Adam Kotsko said...

Anyone who has spent much time reading the writings that come down to us from the patristic era would be hesitant to disallow anything but kind and respectful language. Athanasius, for example, would likely be banned from this site -- as would Paul, as would Jesus.

Dismissing someone based on his use of "harsh rhetoric" is a rhetorical ploy that is doubtless sometimes useful. I would never forbid its use. But it's not distinctively Christian by any means -- in fact, it plays on the values of the same kind of tolerant liberalism that this site otherwise disparages.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, that should really get all the children to sit down at your feet and marvel at your erudition.

As a matter of fact, they could not go wrong sitting at my feet, and learning from me. I highly recommend that very thing.

Mr. Jarret: Pray for charity to abound. However, do not assume that hatred or anger exist in our hearts. They don't. I cannot say the same for someone who writes obscene rants, inflamed with rage simply by discovering a point of view that he does not share. Neither will I treat such outbursts of rage as if they are reasonable points for debate. The tone of Mr. Smith's remarks is painful; profanity and invective do not engender respect from me. How much respect can I render to such adolescent remarks as "no penis, no magic"? (and just what reason does he have for mentioning the ridiculous David Duke, if not to suggest something akin to racism? This is a reckless accusation- by mere suggestion- having no basis in reality). If this is supposed to be clever, if it supposed to stand as an argument for his position, then I cannot write to him as if to an equal, but as if to a child, in fact, a brat. If he wants to disagree agreeably, and argue from facts and logic, I will adjust my tone, forget his previous remarks, and take up a conversation on new terms. I will gladly forget every reason I have for my current aversion to his conduct, and converse with him as if none of these traits had been exhibited. That is forgiveness, and it is all I can offer.

About JD:
I cannot believe that the first comment from JD and the second come from only one person, because they seem not to be from one mind, but at least two. Both are flawed, but at least the second makes a stab at something substantive instead of merely tossing the word "Donatist" around, mentioning some of the facts, as many as he needed for his point.

However, both of these bits of correspondence remain marvelously irrelevant to anything we actually have written on our end. Clearly, JD does not understand our position. The notion of "purity of the ministers" has never come up, nor would it come up among people of a Catholic mind. Here again, the whole reference to the Donatists is irrelevant.

Mr. Smith wrote: I was unaware I was speaking with those who have the power to excommunicate. I assumed I was speaking to those who were under the authority of the Bishop (an assumption I see is wrong in some places).

This, too, is irrelevant, not to mention silly. The point is that if Ms. Schori is denying the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ, this would lead to unfrocking and excommunication in a true branch of the Holy Catholic Church. Frankly, that is an objective fact of Church History and of Doctrine. We did not make it up.

As for the remark about the authority of the Bishop, I am confused. It should be clear that none of us who write for this Blog are Episcopalians. It should be clear that our consciences would not allow us to be in communion with that body at all. I am not allowed by my Bishop, in fact not allowed by the Canon Law of my Church, to attend services in any ECUSA church, except as a guest at weddings or funerals, and then not to take their communion. Also, it should be clear that we do not recognize Ms. Schori as being a member of the clergy at all.

If JD thinks that internal charitable intention can be measured objectively, or that the Fathers of the Church set aside doctrinal standards in favor of this idealism, then he must conclude that the Seven Ecumenical Councils did not really happen. As much as a specific passage from Saint Augustine, and other passages, may be used for learning and enlightenment, the fact remains that the Holy Catholic Church always maintained standards of doctrine, and that this is not at all similar to the unforgiving and harsh standards of the Donatists. We believe (as in Credo) that it is the duty of every true Bishop that he "banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine." And, not only that, but that he "teach and exhort with wholesome Doctrine." Therefore, assuming that Albion has been fair in his evaluation of Ms. Schori's remarks, even if we were able to recognize her as a bishop, she would be negligent in her duties (but, that's moot. She is no bishop, nor priest, nor deacon).

Now, JD ought to read The Affirmation of Saint Louis, and also many writings about the sacrament of Holy Orders, especially works of Eric Mascall. Then, at least, his arguments could be relevant to what we are actually saying.

JD's remarks about prejudice are very telling: it tells me that he has no idea what he is trying to debate, since our position is clearly, logically and thoroughly set forth, based on theology, based on what we know of Church History and based on reason. He may continue to disagree, but he would not dare continue this talk about prejudice- if he knew why we hold to what we hold. Clearly, he cannot know the substance of the position he wishes to debate.

Let me make this clear: The standard is the Incarnation (as I John 4 makes abundantly clear). Every theological echo, every detail of liturgy, faith, and doctrine, must come from the Incarnation, and lead back to it. Otherwise, it is not from God.
We have left ECUSA because it left us, having abandoned an honest attempt to live within the Catholic Tradition, and to impart eternal life through the ministry of God's word and sacraments. All of us fall short of a perfect fulfillment of this calling; but those who simply abandon that calling are apostate; they have cut themselves off from Christ and His Church. Ms. Schori is apostate, as her championing the cause of Gene Robinson proves. ECUSA has chosen to become a non-Christian cult, no longer able to minister God's word or His sacraments, no longer holding to any doctrinal standard at all, ready to sing "Anything Goes" instead of "Faith of our Fathers." I say to people in ECUSA: "come out of her my people, that ye be not partaker of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues." It is no more a branch of the Holy Catholic Church than Unitarianism. It is not a house of God, but of spiritual prostitution. Having experience as an exorcist (the real thing, and always successful) I know too well exactly what spirit roams ECUSA. It is not the Holy Spirit.

Some people are impressed that ECUSA manages, in some quarters, to tolerate orthodoxy (for the time being). A church that simply tolerates orthodoxy is no church at all: The Church must teach orthodoxy, and refuse to tolerate any denial of the Incarnation.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Come to think of it a bit more, Mr. Smith's "no penis, no magic" line reveals a serious problem. It is one thing to disagree with our theology of the preisthood; it is another to demonstrate the assumption that there is no theological position. Clearly, he does not know even know that we have a theological position, even less what it consists of.

Either that, or he really makes the mistake of attempting to use Bulverism on educated men. Either way, how does one refute a n on-statement? How does one answer nothing?

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

JD,

With all the reflection on Donatism, Augustine, different sacramental theologies of validity, ritual purity vs charity, etc., the point made by Dave Hodges has been missed. I did indeed put the word "bishop" in quotes in reference to ECUSA'a chief becuase I do not believe it is possible for a woman to be a priest or a bishop in the Catholic sense. However, since it has upset some, and is not obligatory, I will stop using the quotation marks. It had nothing to do with ritual purity or judging her moral status. Neither Augustine nor the Donatist's believed that a woman could be ordained to the priesthood, and neither would have though the reason had anything to do with the issues irrelevantly raised.

Anthony,

The point about use of the word "pagan" is that, while it has had a number of connatations through history, as I said, and may well have been an abused term, as you note, it's use in the context of discussing certain tendencies in ECUSA/TEC was gobsmackingly, obviously not racist. I think I've only seen one picture of Bishop Schori, and she seemed to be white. Did you think we were all African-Americans trying to get back at some honky-lady to make up for previous misuse of the word "pagan" by whites? If not, then the introduction of the racism charge is and was simply an unjustified distraction.


As for women priests and reason, I was not attempting to give the entire argument against ordination of women to the priesthood on the basis of sacramental and ontological considerations. That argument can be found elsewhere and requires more time and room than I have here and now. Best reference: Manfred Hauke's book, Women in the Priesthood. The only point I was trying to make was that your implication that it all came down to one part of the male anatomy was false, especially since there is more to maleness and femaleness than these purely physical differentia. Your statement that finding a "good" woman-priest would disprove my argument is also false. If you mean by "good" morally upright, then you have confused degree of sanctity with the "character" due to certain sacred offices. If you meant by "good" effective, then in the matter of consecrating the Eucharist you would have no way of judging this empirically, only by faith. In pastoral and teaching areas, it should be noted that Catholics accept a woman can more than adequately perform these functions anyway, but many would add that they would see a subtle but real difference in the pastoring of a gifted lay-person and a clergyman. That difference would come down to what sort of spiritual authority it proceeded from. Again, this would be difficult to verify other than by a spiritual sense.

And so it comes down to faith, yet reasoned faith. In other words, I am convinced by the confluence of evidence that God exists, that Jesus is who he said he was and that the Catholic Church is his true Body, protected from doctrinal and moral error in whatever it affirms with virtual unanimity. Reason can get me that far, though I won't go through all the reasoning here. But from that point I rely on faith more than reason when it comes to that which intrinsically non-verifiable empirically, that is, most of the Church's teaching. That is why criticising my "idiocy" for believing I have "this kind of truth" is unreasonable, as is demanding verification in the ordinary sense. I do not claim to have "this kind of truth" on the basis of my purported cleverness or personal infallibility but on the basis of accepting the Church's infallibility. If it is idiotic to do this, then all faithful Catholics are by definition idiots.

Finally, regarding "relativism", while you may hold that there is such a thing as objective truth, your comments seem to imply that you do not believe it can be discovered with certainty in areas of religion. This is a kind of functional relativism, effectively. "Believe what you like, but don't act as if you actually know you're right, that would be arrogant." I suppose this could be called epistemological modesty, but it assumes that God is not capable of revealing truth in a way that provides moral certainty for the recipients that Truth Himself really was the source. This assumption has no justification in reason and is the opposite of what I believe as a Catholic.

I have tried to keep this comment objective and free of rancour. I hope the discussion can remain in that tone. God bless.

Dave Hodges said...

What Anthony has shown is that he believes a debate is won by one party's calling the other one a racist. Whether or not it is a fact that the accused actually is a racist or not is irrelevant. I have David Duke's book listed on my website because I am reading it because a friend loaned it to me. I'm not afraid of reading books that may present views different from my own.

Anthony, would you like to tell us why Our Lord chose twelve men as Apostles? And why did those twelve men and their successors ordain no-one but men for two thousand years? Was everyone wrong until the 1970's? Maybe you know about Old Testament examples of female priests?

In terms of even modern concensus, the overwhelming majority of the Church is opposed to the false "ordination" of women. The burden of proof is on the innovator to justify his cause, not those who are holding up the 2,000-year-old Sacred Tradition of the Church.

Jarrett said...

To Albion:

At your request, I reviewed the comments you have made over the course of this "debate," and I thank you for consistently attempting to pull this argument back from the brink of a Holy Flame War. In my view, you have been nothing short of civil for the duration. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for some other participants on both sides of the battle. But I won't indict individuals unless they ask me to.

You are right about challenging the opponent's "facts" and "history." It must be done. That was written in frustration. Consider that line of my comment withdrawn.

To Father Hart:

I agree that remarks made by your opponents were inflammatory. I agree that at times you were not spoken to respectfully.

However, I humbly submit that it was still not the best decision to respond to your opponent as if he were a "brat," even if he was one. Perhaps you could treat your opponent with respect, even if he doesn't deserve it. Perhaps you could treat him as an equal, even if he isn't one.

When confronted with comments you find obscene and inflammatory, I understand how difficult it is to respond in humility and charity. But if you could overcome that difficulty, imagine how powerful a message it would send to those of us looking on.

-Jarrett Chaney

albion said...

Jarrett,

Thank you for your latest comment. As Fr Hart said, let us pray that charity may abound.

Warwickensis said...

Also, Mr. Hodges, we must also remember that St Paul instructed Timothy that deacons, priests and bishops were to be husbands of but one wife!

albion said...

Jonathan,

You disappoint me. It would appear that you are clinging to the fallacy that the terms 'husband' and 'wife' are ontological in nature. They must be understood in purely functional terms: there is no reason that a man cannot be a wife or a woman a husband. This is the nature of creation.

Paul was simply holding Christians to a higher standard, and particularly their leaders, in stating a sound Christian doctrine that the Church suppressed for so many years: that no woman should have more than one wife, and no man more than one husband.

albion said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr. Robert Hart said...

However, I humbly submit that it was still not the best decision to respond to your opponent as if he were a "brat," even if he was one. Perhaps you could treat your opponent with respect, even if he doesn't deserve it. Perhaps you could treat him as an equal, even if he isn't one.

But, that just isn't me.

Warwickensis said...

Albion,

How else am I to learn if I don't disappoint someone? I'm an ontological kind of chap. I see the Greek word andres in I Tim iii.12 and I translate it as "husband" since literally it means "man" without ambiguity, likewise the word gunaikos meaning "woman" or "wife". Personally, I see nothing but a reference to the ordained ministry being necessarily male and in, as you say, a chaste marriage with a single wife - thus prompting, as you also say quite rightly, the idea that Christian leaders should live their lives as an example to their flock. But still it's there words that are clearly male, and clearly female. Now I can't get past that. Perhaps it's because I'm not married.

I quote from "Consecrated Women?" a book written by Forward in Faith on the Women and the Episcopate debate which cites I Tim iii, I Cor xiv.33-6 Titus i.5 ff et c.

This is paragraph 7.1.6:

"By the time of the Pastoral Epistles, an ordained ministry with full authority has developed, and with these we see, in some places, the first beginnings of monoepiscopacy. We naturally stress the witness of the Scriptures that the ministry of presbyteroi and episkopoi is male. There is no evidence of, or endorsement for, the exercise of oversight or liturgical leadership by women: the opposite is the case." The text them prompts us to look at the texts I mentioned above.

That is my justification for disappointing you. If I still disappoint, then obviously I still have much more learning to do.

albion said...

Twas a lame joke, Jonathan. I think too much antibiotics have addled my brain.

Warwickensis said...

Ach! Should have seen that one!

I've disappointed myself now! ;-)

O internet, thou face-thieving fiend that careth not for the intricate visages of humanity!

Sorry, I'm on the defensive; the kids have been giving me gyp lately. 'tis the peril of teaching at a non-Conformist school!

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have tried to keep this comment objective and free of rancour...

Dagburn it Padre! Sometimes you jus' ain't no fun.

poetreader said...

Actually, in the matter of calling someone a brat. I find it condescending to allow someone to 'get away with' bad behavior. I only treat people I don't respect that way, and, if I were acting like a brat, I would expect anyone that respected me, to show that respect by calling me on it. I do regard the throwing out of obsenities and gratuitous insults as the action of a brat. I didn't use the term, but I applauded its use. The person so addressed is an adult and therefore capbable of acting like one. If he were to do so, it would be a rewarding thing to discuss issues with him. I invite him, as an equal, to take his place at the table with civility. If he wishes to act the part of a brat, he may.

ed

Warwickensis said...

Capbable, Ed?

Do you mean that our young friends are talking out of their hats?

;-)