Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Awful Gravity of Logic

In the "Culture Briefs" from today's Washington Times:

Not getting religion

"Suppose you picked up your morning newspaper, and read that the local softball team, sponsored by Ken's Transmission Specialists, had won the World Series.

" 'That doesn't seem right,' you might say to yourself. The boys from Ken's are as good as any nine men when it comes to pounding the Budweiser, but in terms of athletic ability ... And didn't some team from Boston just win the Series? Puzzled, you read on. The story explains that the World Series took place in the parking lot behind Sal's Discount Suds.

"At this point you realize that the story is complete — well, 'nonsense' is the polite term. You realize that the editor of the sports page is incompetent, and you think seriously about canceling your subscription. Right? "Then you probably won't be impressed with the editors in St. Louis who gave the OK to a story that begins: 'A couple of firsts: Two women were ordained as Roman Catholic priests Sunday in St. Louis — and the ordination was in a synagogue.' "

Pseudonymous blogger Diogenes, writing on "Journalists Without [bleep] Detectors," on Monday at Catholic World News blog "Off the Record."

It has been thirty years since the meeting in St. Louis when the Affirmation was written. The above blurb, a comment on a recent example of sloppy news reporting in the same city, reminds us that the immediate cause of the Continuing Church movement was the crisis provoked by the "ordination" of women in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Church in Canada. As much as we want to applaud the point made by Diogenes the Blogger, the truth keeps us sober. In the case of Continuing Anglicanism, it was the valid and faithful expression of Anglicanism that was made to appear like a local softball team claiming to have played the World Series behind a store in a parking lot. Our own church here in Easton, Maryland spent about eleven years in rented store front space, which earned us the mockery and disdain of the "proper" Episcopalians in town (the respectable folks from from the local ecclesiastical "Gay Bar"); that is, until 2005 when we moved into a large former Roman Catholic church building on a prominent corner, conveniently two blocks from the ECUSAn cathedral. Appearances can be deceiving; in 1977 the official Canterbury Anglicans, with the backing of then Archbishop Donald Coggan -who tried to kill this Continuing baby before it was born- managed to maintain their respectability, not to mention the property, assets and name of the established churches. Frankly, they have, over these thirty years, kept just about everything, except the Faith. So, they should not mind that we have kept it.

In these thirty years the other side have gained notoriety in place of respectability. The Episcopal Church embarrasses itself every time it makes the news; and who can forget that the official Anglicans in Canada almost put themselves out of business by the sexual abuse of Indian children in schools? (No, I haven't forgotten all you Brits, Aussies and others. I was just pointing out a few tidbits.) It may be tempting for us to shift our focus to the issue of homosexuality, the "Blessing" of same sex unions, which sounds like a labor movement, but isn't. After all, when the headlines scream at us about the majority of Anglicans in the world who want to break communion with the ECUSAns, and C of Ers, many of us would like to be in that large, impressive company of "orthodox" Anglicans who stand on principle, those godly Africans and Global Southerners. Sometimes it feels lonely in this movement.

But, we must not forget that the immediate cause of our break with the Cantuarian elite was the issue of women's "ordination." We must consider the theological connection between sacraments. The majority of principled Anglicans cannot help but notice the heresy of Homosexualism (learn that word: it means the heresy of teaching and promoting this form of immorality as an acceptable way of life), since they don't like it. As I said in a Touchstone article published in 2004:

After all, what the homosexualists have been able to do is to base their arguments upon a foundation already laid for them. That foundation has included relaxation of the moral laws about sexual behavior. It has also included the confusion of sex roles ever since women were first “ordained” in the Episcopal Church. The conservatives have accepted these things, but hope now to credibly and effectively oppose the homosexualist cause. This cannot be done.

The fact is, once the "ordination" of women was accepted, the movement to bless same sex unions was inevitable. The arguments for Homosexualism are not merely similar to the arguments for women's "ordination." Rather, they are the exact same arguments. The blessing of same sex unions, practiced now throughout the heretical but official Canterbury Communion, is performed as a church rite by sincerely lusting couples under the direction of clergypersons of both sexes and all genders, to be as close to the semblance of marriage as the Law of each state, province or nation makes possible. In short, it imitates the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and does so on the newly understood basis that the sex of a person has no significance in a sacrament. If Shirley and Maggie can be "ordained" they can also be married, and so can Adam and Steve.

The "conservatives" among the Anglicans have failed to understand the gravity of logic. It works the same way as this illustration. If I stand at the top of a thirty foot hill with a big round rubber ball, and decide to roll the ball only ten feet down the hill and no farther, like it or not, the ball will roll the entire thirty feet to the bottom before it stops after rolling even farther still. It does not matter that I intended only to roll it ten feet. Once I let go, gravity will take the ball the whole way. This is how a premise works in relation to logic. Once you let go of the ball, that is, once you state or merely accept a premise, the gravity of logic will take over. Perhaps you only meant to let women be priests, but not to let the premise take its own logical course to the final end. However, the premise itself is subject to the gravity of logic, and must keep rolling until you are "blessing" Adam and Steve in the imitation sacrament of Unholy Unmatrimony. Those who want to argue that this was not inevitable have two problems facing them: First, we predicted this would happen, and second, it has.

So, with all due respect to our conservative and principled Anglican friends who want to keep their priestesses, and make new ones, we cannot surrender the doctrine that the sacrament Holy Orders is, by God's revealed will, reserved to men. Otherwise, we only slow the process down instead of preventing it. We don't need to be ECUSA part II, waiting to happen again.


John A. Hollister said...

Bravo!, Fr. Hart.

You have put precisely and concisely why the real Continuing Churches cannot be members of the Common Cause Partners, as that partnership is presently constituted, and why those who are members of that as it now stands, and despite what some of them say, are not, in fact, Continuing Churches.

Having said that, however, we need to be in communication with these people. Unless we talk with them, we cannot witness to them and thereby attempt to show them how confused and self-defeating some of their thinking is.

This article would make a wonderful tract to put in their hands as part of that process of witness.

John A. Hollister+

Alice C. Linsley said...

Dear Fr, Hart, you are NOT alone and you aren't in a "movement". You are a member of the Body of Christ and as such know the Truth. We can't expect the lost world to know the Reality of God's order in creation, much less the order of the new creation.

Breaking with the Cantuarian elite over the issue of women in the priesthood was good and right. Holding the line when surrounding by secular humanists is very difficult. The Truth will come out and one day all with see.

David Chislett said...

What a spectacularly good essay!

Thank you, Fr Robert.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

From what I know, Common Cause is not a church communion in any sense, but more of a trade association. So, having strong ties with them does not constitute a compromise. But, any relationship with them should be for the purpose of enlightening them, which takes patience and humility.

Anonymous said...

I quite agree. There are some who ignore the communion-breaking event but think themselves to be upholding Christian orthodoxy by indulging in a prurient obsession with other people's sins. It's a bit like trying to cure a brain tumour with headache powders--after a while not even symptomatic relief will be possible.

poetreader said...

Exactly the point I've tried to make with a Network priest in my town. He's a no-longer-retired former-ECUSA priest, a pleasant person, and asmirable in many ways,
but, having remained an ECUS loyalist for so many years, he just doesn't get it. After the Robinson consecration he led the parish in which he was Interim out of ECUSA, actually over the sole issue of homosexualism, but, when I tried to trace the sources of THAT error back to WO, he told me, flat out, "That's ridiculous!" and quickly changed the subject. Most of his people refuse even to visit our services, simply because we have done that unforgivable thing of rejecting WO. Sorry, it's like hanging on a life rope halfway down a cliff while an enemy above is busuily sawing through the rope.

I'm a member of ACA, and thus if a jurisdiction with connections to FACA and through that to Common Cause. I believe Fr. Hart has described that relationship accurately. We are not in sacramental. ecclesiatical union with those bodies, but rather are there to bear witness to somethg they need beyond what they have preserved. Real unity cannot come until that has been achieved. Meanwhile, they need to hear.


Ken said...

So those that approve of and support "women's ordination" and claim to be orthodox are really just fooling themselves.

Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to persuade those caught up in false egalitarianism.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of being viewed as "Johnny-one-note," we need to be clear on every--every--opportunity to point out the problem until they fix it, or, sadly more likely, boot us from their little protestant club, that, ahem:

If you hadn't left Apostolic Order in 1978, you wouldn't have these problems now.

They hate hearing it, I know. I have spoken with people in the latest wave of departures about why they make up something new when the Catholic Faith and Apostolic Order is available in the continuing church, and they say without hesitation, "We wanted to use the 79 BCP and be part of a body that ordains women."

When you point out--gently--that a practicing homosexual bishop is at least a valid bishop, whereas a female of any belief can never be a bishop, priest, or deacon, they shut down. You get the polite smile reserved for loony cultists.

I just hope they learn the truth before they have to learn it in Purgatory!