Monday, November 26, 2007

A bishop then must be blameless

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I Timothy chapter 3:1-13

After the comments to a previous posting, it has become obvious that more needs to be said about the requirement that a clergyman be "the husband of one wife." First of all, the time to bring up this subject and its relevance to our claims that we continue the practice of traditional Anglicanism, is long overdue. It is overdue because of the questions I raised: Would men with multiple marriages have been acceptable for ordination in the universally accepted understanding among Anglicans one hundred years ago? Since the answer is "no," what are we continuing? In a comment, my friend Fr. Charles Nalls amplified what I asked:

Merely parroting electronically and in print nostrums like we represent “Apostolic Christianity in the Anglican tradition. Our beliefs are stated on the pages of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.” Or, how about, “[fill in your jurisdiction here] holds the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ as handed down from the apostolic fathers.” Really? Without getting into the nuts and bolts of belief in the Continuum which would be a great discussion, I do think the Apostolic Fathers might generally be appalled by the general condition of things in the Continuum’s little corner of Christendom on a number of scores.

The Apostolic Fathers, yes, and also the average Anglican/ Episcopalian in the time when I was a mere boy and beardless youth.

However, it would be wrong to let certain misunderstandings be generated from my endorsement of a letter by Dr. Peter Toon (the real substance of that other post). For example, on the subject of divorced clergy, I am well aware that a good number of people are victims of divorce. A man who has been abandoned by an adulterous or even an insane wife, and yet holds to his integrity (and I am thinking of some actual real life cases), can provide a godly example, and need not be barred from ordination because of the wrong done to him. Nor would I say that such a man, abandoned long ago, granted an annulment, joined to a wife in a sacramental marriage, and then later sensing a call to the priestly vocation (to create a scenario) should be barred, certainly not absolutely. Yet, even here we need to be cautious. Once we embark down a path that differs from the standards of our fathers, we have already wandered into perilous territory. It may be hard to draw the line anywhere if we do not think everything through very clearly.

Looking at the third chapter of I Timothy, and the requirements set out for ordination, I will make a statement that has already caused an objection. Everything that St. Paul lists here is part of what he has identified as the quality of being "blameless." In fact, it is that word that serves as the key to unlock the meaning of the text. And so, the objection has been raised that the requirement that he must be "apt to teach" has nothing to do with being "blameless." The problem is, the context must be understood to give the meaning, and so an interpretation that takes even a part of a passage outside its context simply cannot be right. Looking at the whole context, which describes the "blameless" man, it is this very key of blamelessness that explains just what St.Paul meant by the words "apt to teach." In fact, these words take on a very important significance as a result, one we cannot afford to miss.

As much as the bishop (and St. Paul seems to use this word by a "primitive" definition that includes the office of presbyter, the word "bishop" later being reserved for those few priests who actually enter, as Dix put it, "the apostolic college"1) should be able to teach from the standpoint of theological and scriptural expertise, St. Paul is speaking about the fitness of the man to teach with credibility before the eyes of others. How can a man who is a drunkard teach his congregation to be sober? How can a striker teach that we must be forgiving, kind and that we turn the other cheek? How can a man whose children live scandalous or criminal lives, teach the people to raise their children in the fear of God? How can a man known to be "greedy of filthy lucre" or covetous, teach about giving? How can the husband of several wives teach God's holy commandments? A man who cannot represent the sacrament of marriage, who cannot show forth its sanctity by a life either of celibacy or fidelity to one wife, is not "apt to teach" about anything to do with any of the sacraments, let alone about how to raise a family or about sexual morality.

The credibility problem in the Continuum needs to be addressed by this very passage. Some of the clergy are not apt to teach because they are uneducated. But, Among the educated, others are not apt to teach because their lives do not have that blameless quality of which St. Paul speaks. Obviously, he is not saying that a man must be sinless, since he possessed the humility to call himself the "chief" of sinners, "not worthy to be called an apostle," and "the least of the apostles." The text is about the problem of a life that creates scandal. No amount of legalism and clericalism is sufficient to repair the pastoral damage done when bishops, priests and deacons are not blameless, and therefore not apt to teach.

1. Dix, Dom Gregory, Apostolic Order

18 comments:

tdunbar said...

"A man who has been abandoned by an adulterous or even an insane wife, and yet holds to his integrity (and I am thinking of some actual real life cases), can provide a godly example, and need not be barred from ordination because of the wrong done to him."

True, as long as he doesn't remarry.

LP said...

I agree with much of what you say here... and this phrase particularly jumped out at me:

Yet, even here we need to be cautious. Once we embark down a path that differs from the standards of our fathers, we have already wandered into perilous territory. It may be hard to draw the line anywhere if we do not think everything through very clearly.

This is precisely why, in that earlier thread, I said that Tradition's understanding of Scripture -- that "husband of one wife" excluded those who remarried after being widowed from a prior post-baptismal marriage -- needs to be taken seriously, and not simply dismissed as not relevant to "today's world".


I like your observation that "apt to teach" can be understood to refer not just to skill and education but also moral example. Do you have precedents in Tradition for this exegesis too?... it sounds like something the Fathers would like, and I know that St. Victor and St. Bonaventure would certainly approve.

It might be a little harder to say that this is the explicit intent of Paul's teaching... I don't think "didaktikon" really has that meaning. I think "didaskw" and its cognates in the NT generally refer specifically to teaching and dogma etc, but I'd have to do a careful word search to be certain.

The only other place this word comes up in the NT (and, for that matter, in any of the classical Greek texts searchable by Perseus) is 2 Tim 2:23-5, where it appears chiefly to denote teaching and correcting error (though you could exegete similar connotations here too):
---
Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth
---



Still, however you parse or exegete the passage, you're still left with the fact that the Fathers really only considered two interpretations for the "husband of one wife" requirement of clergy -- either as excluding those who were polygamists or as excluding those who had remarried after being widowed from a first post-baptismal marriage.

To reject the patristic interpretation about not ordaining remarried widowers (interpretations not just established in patristic theology but also actively implemented in patristic canon law) -- especially with no more justification than a mere "oh, they're not the scandal today that they once were" -- is to stray straight into that "perilous territory" which, as you rightly point out, we should do only very reluctantly and with the greatest of careful thought.

Worse yet, it is to substitute "today's" lax attitudes toward marriage for the sacramental patristic understanding -- for it was precisely their high, sacramental view of marriage which supported this understanding of Scripture's prohibition.


I continue to think it important for folks to recognize what Tradition's understanding of this phrase in Scripture is and is not, for this shared theological and historical understanding would faciliate charitable and reasonable discussions on how best to implement the ideals and practices of Scripture and Tradition in today's world... and how best to deal with the cases (not explicitly addressed by Scripture) of men either remarried after the dissolution of a non-sacramental merely-civil union, or remarried after the valid discovery that the previous marriage was non-sacramental (i.e. a valid discovery of nullity).


pax,
LP

poetreader said...

I think it is pretty clear in the NT that teaching involves much more than just talking. Witness Our Lord's treatment of the Pharisees -- those who "sit in Moses' seat" and therefore must be listened to, and yet whose example makes them reprehensible, even dangerous. Teaching, in Scripture and in Patristic sources, and right down to the present, is more than just the imarting of propositional dogma, but also the teaching of morality, and that is accomplished far more by example than by word.

The present discussion has revolved around the issues of marriage, but the principles are much broader. Is a priest teaching morality if he is cheating either his flock or outsiders in financial matters? Is he teaching morality if he treats his people with scorn? Is he teaching morality if he himself is a predator of children? I could go on, but I would maintain that he that says, "Do as I say and not as I do," is not necessarily to be considered as "apt to teach", and therefore is not fulfilling the qualifications St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy. Can such a one be validly ordained? Of course. Should such a one be acting as a priest? Something doesn't taste right about that.

Thus, back to the subject at hand, it seems highly unwise that we should have clergy whose marriages (however correct they may actually be) present an appearance that could lessen the impact of moral teaching, either within the Church for the guidance of the faithful, or as a testimony of consistency to those outside, as St. Paul said:

"Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without."

ed

Ken said...

The only real question I have is how many of these annulments have been granted to those married "in the Church"?

My understanding of the marriage sacrament is that it is valid if the following conditions are met:

1) proper minister - the bride and groom being baptized Christians

2) proper intent - the understanding that the union is for life, for procreation, with fidelity and done of free will

3) proper form - the witness of the Church, that the marriage is "in the Church", with the blessing of the bishop

As strange as it may seem, I think item #3 is most critical with respect to an individuals confidence that a church is truly administering sacraments.

So if these bishops have received annulments even though their marriage ceremonial had been properly administered by the church then I have doubts as to whether the church can truly administer the sacraments simply because the church itself has decided that its ministration was of no effect.

That would be especially true of the sacrament of marriage, because nobody can look into the heart of another and see true intent. My mind thinks "if bishop so and so wasn't really married 30 years ago even though the church witnessed it, who's to say I'm really married."

Doubts in the administration of all the sacraments would follow.

LP said...

---
Thus, back to the subject at hand, it seems highly unwise that we should have clergy whose marriages (however correct they may actually be) present an appearance that could lessen the impact of moral teaching
---

Having generally voiced support with the more "cautionary" side of the issue (even while disagreeing with the IMHO flawed argument which attempts to say that 1 Tim & Titus forbid such ordinations per se), I want to balance that with some comments in support of the "other side."

Part of Christian teaching is a clear distinction between, to use the modern terms, "sacramental" and "non-sacramental" marriages.

This distinction is found already in Paul's epistles -- Paul cites the "word of the Lord" that married Christians remain so until death do them part, even if they separate for due cause, (1 Cor 7:10-11) but says to "the rest" that they are "not bound"... that they can remarry. "The rest" here are those in "non-Christian" marriages.

In fact, the famous "Pauline privilege" in this passage is not, as it is often misunderstood, a "liberalizing" of early apostolic teaching on marriage (oh, Christ said you shouldn't divorce and remarry but it's okay if your unbelieving spouse deserts you) but rather a restricting of it. While "not I but the Lord" commands the former never to remarry, Paul, "not the Lord", urges the latter (those married to unbelieving spouses) not to divorce.

The only coherent sense is that though "the Lord" does not command life-long fidelity to non-Christian marriages (Paul understands that command to apply only to Christian couples), Paul nevertheless urges that, even if married to an unbeliever, a Christian should not rush to divorce... should, in fact, remain with that spouse -- but he recognize that this is not a command of "the Lord", makes clear that it is only his own recommendation ("I say, not the Lord"), and admits that this recommendation doesn't apply in the case of desertion (the "Pauline privilege").


Now, this is not to say that divorce is good or that Paul was wrong or misguided to make his recommendations, but simply to point out that in some of our very earliest Christian Scriptures and records of apostolic teaching on marriage we have a distinction between what we would, today, call "sacramental" and "non-sacramental" marriages.


This apostolic distinction is continued through the patristic period. To take but a few examples:

St. Ignatius, in his letter to Polycarp, recommends that engaged couples seek the approval of their bishop. (Early marital counselling? See also I's letter to the Philadelphians, where the Pauline principle that marriage is a good and virginity a better good is also echoed.)

Tertullian reports that by the late second century (i.e. well before Christianity was legalized or bishops given judicial powers by the emperor) it was customary for a couple, received into the Church with baptism, to have their marriage, as well, blessed, marking its change from what we would call a "non-sacramental" one outside the Body of Christ to a "sacramental" one inside it.

St. Jerome (among others) explicitly states that the Church did not consider everything a "marriage" which the State did, and considered some unions which the State did not consider marriage (e.g. concubianage - an established legal state) actually to be, in the eyes of the Church, a full-fledged marriage.

This distinction is reflected even in the 4th century debate over our 1 Tim / Titus "husband of one wife" word and which remarried widowers could be ordained -- the established practice was to distinguish between those whose first marriage was "pre-baptismal" (and who thus had had only one "sacramental" marriage and who could be ordained) and those both of whose marriages were "post-baptismal" (and thus both "sacramental" and preculding him from ordination).


The point of all this is to point out that, from the days of the apostles themselves, the Church has made a distinction between (to use the more modern term) "sacramental" and "non-sacramental" marriages. This is part and parcel of her teaching on matrimony.


Accordingly, to say that the ordination of a man who has been remarried in any way whatsoever (e.g. the kind of cases Fr. Hart proposes here) would be to "present an appearance that could lessen the impact of moral teaching" is, I think, to misrepresent the Church's moral teaching.


Now, if the Church fails to instruct the laity about her doctrines of marriage -- if the laity don't understand the difference between a man who is remarried after having been divorced from a purely secular union before his conversion on the one hand and someone who wishes to divorce a sacramental spouse to remarry a new lover -- then there are some serious catechetical problems and, in this confused and uneducated situation, the presence of a validly both-remarried-and-ordained priest might "present an appearance" which could confuse the laity.

However this confusion and appearance would be the fault not of the ordination, but of the catechesis.



Again, I agree with you that the issue of ordination of the multiply-married is one which must be approached with caution... and with great fidelity to both Scripture and Tradition.

But to base a practice merely on "experience" and "expedience" and the confusion of laity who do not understand the Church's teaching on marriage is, I think, dangerous.


Much better to solve the teaching issue on its own terms, and, likewise, to examine the ordination issue on its own terms.

Sure, the question of "appearance" is a valid factor to consider in that examination and the determination of canonical regulations... but it's not the only or, I would suggest, even the principle one.


pax,
LP


(p.s. in an absurd and amusing coincidence, the letters required "word verification" for me to submit this post are "sxctsy")

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP wrote:
I don't think "didaktikon" really has that meaning.

The issue here is not the Dictionary definition of the word, but its use in the context. This is not a matter for a lexicon, but for knowing how to read a text.

Still, however you parse or exegete the passage, you're still left with the fact that the Fathers really only considered two interpretations for the "husband of one wife" requirement of clergy --

I have been reading the Fathers for about thirty years, and this "fact" does not jump out at me as an obvious point. Nonetheless, the scriptures have internal evidence as to their meaning, and the only thing we find in scripture is the condemnation of divorce and remarriage, where the Lord quotes Genesis, alludes to Malachi, and thereby provides St. Paul with the subject matter of a whole chapter to be written later (I Cor. 7). The widower thing is not in scripture anywhere. It cannot be what St. Paul meant.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ken's point is exactly why I cannot stand all the hair splitting. Frankly, the administration being done in a church is not necessary. Two unbelievers can make marriage vows, become Christians, and thus have their marriage become sacramental.

The mis-use of the so-called Matthean exception is also problematic. Jesus did not use the word "adultery," but "fornication." This is the passage that authorizes annulments, and it is about an illicit marriage, not merely a non-sacramental one.

Sorry to rain on the parade.

LP said...

---
The issue here is not the Dictionary definition of the word, but its use in the context. This is not a matter for a lexicon, but for knowing how to read a text.
---

Yes, which involves looking at how the same author uses the same words and its cognates. Paul uses "didaskw" and its cognates chiefly to talk about what we would call "education." Your comments on "teaching by example" are an intelligent and apt extention of this notion, and consistent with Scripture and with patristic and medieval thought, but not the primary meaning of the word.


---
I have been reading the Fathers for about thirty years, and this "fact" does not jump out at me as an obvious point.
---

It will if you search through them for where the phrase "husband of one wife" is discussed.



---
Nonetheless, the scriptures have internal evidence as to their meaning, and the only thing we find in scripture is the condemnation of divorce and remarriage, where the Lord quotes Genesis, alludes to Malachi, and thereby provides St. Paul with the subject matter of a whole chapter to be written later (I Cor. 7).
---

Yes... and in 1 Cor 7 itself Paul clearly teaches that such divorce and remarriage is condemned only between Christians -- a Christian is free to leave a non-believing spouse and remarry (though Paul urges that a non-believing spouse be divorced only if that spouse deserts.)


---
The widower thing is not in scripture anywhere. It cannot be what St. Paul meant.
---

The Fathers disagree with you. They (or, at least, most of them) think it is in Scripture and is what St. Paul meant.

And they were closer to the living Tradition of the apostles than we are. Their reading of the Scripture carries - at least for me - more authority than yours. As a catholic Christian, I believe Tradition is a better guide to the true meaning of Scripture than my own individual interpretation -- and the consensus of the Fathers more spiritually enlightened even than a cherry-picking among contemporary commentators to find those who support my personal preference.



Now, it remains a reasonable question whether or not this is dogma or discipline, and whether or not if, as discipline, it is still binding. And it forms part of the larger discussion of the issues of ordination/remarriage/etc.

As I've said before, my own sympathies (FWLTW) lie with your reservations.

I just don't think the patristic understanding of this passage can be so lightly discarded as "cannot be what St. Paul meant"... especially when that interpretation is consistent with a wide range of Fathers, councils, manuals and practices from different times and places across the Roman Empire.


pax,
LP

Anonymous said...

In some ears the word "annulment"
has a nice Catholic ring. But many RC writers with a concern about the Christian community's surrender to the divorce culture do not consider the matter to be so cut and dried as Ken seems to feel. One RC book I have read cites as a horrible example a case in which the marriage tribunal could find no reason to grant an annulment. But after the petitioner continued to twist arms, the tribunal took yet another look at the case. He then learned that the marriage took place in Phildelphia solemnised by a priest from the Diocese (or Archdiocese?) of Chicago. Said Chicago priest had not obtained faculties from the local diocese where marriage was solemnised. Annulment granted. I do not relate this to bash RC's, but rather to show what conscientious RC moralists deplore in their own Church.

I am indeed flattered to find my name attached ("the Wells position")to what was the strongly prevalent position in the Anglican Churches until quite recently. Did a revival of patristic studies lead us into a more culturally enlightened position, or have we begun to use patristic studies disengenuously to justify a capitulation to the Zeitgeist? I know of people who find patristic arguments for WO and SSB.
I think of the case of Bishop Walter Rightor, now on his fourth wife. Were they sacramental marriages or just civil unions (ah, so easily annulled!) and we all know of similar cases in the various Continuing Churches. Can anyone name a Church Father who would smile on our permissive situation? Would anyone claim that it reflects "the almost unanimous consensus of the patristic church" after all those 400 years of bad Protestant exegesis?

Laurence K. Wells+

LP said...

---
I am indeed flattered to find my name attached ("the Wells position")to what was the strongly prevalent position in the Anglican Churches until quite recently
---

Again, I'm not disagreeing with your conclusion or position.

I'm simply pointing out that a defense of it which says "I Tim 3 forbids the ordination of all divorced and remarried men" is a weak argument, because it relies on an exegesis of Scripture which has no patristic support.


Moreover, it short-circuits discussion with other Continuing bodies because when they point out (quite correctly) "but look at the Fathers... that's not how Tradition has received and understood Scripture". Heck, they may even be wrong in their own position... but they're right about this point of exegesis.

And as long as the discussion stagnates at "Scripture says X" "No it doesn't" "Yes it does"... you get nowhere... and a your position, which ought to get more careful consideration in some circles than I think it has, gets dismissed out of hand.



I think a strong argument can be made for the "Wells position" from Scripture, the Fathers (and their writings on marriage & ordination more generally, rather than their understanding of the exact meaning of this particular passage), and prudent & rational consideration of these authorities. I even, in the earlier thread, gave some thoughts on this.

I just don't think that either that argument - or that ecumenical discussion - is helped by appealing, as its foundation and centerpiece, an interpretation of a bare phrase of Scripture which Tradition simply does not support.


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP writes:
The Fathers disagree with you.

LP:
Easy enough to say. It sort of reminds me of people who invoke the original Hebrew or Greek without considering that some of us read those languages. Yes, some of the Fathers brought up this other issue of yours, about widowers. But, in this and in a comment to Fr. Wells, you say that the divorce and remarriage issue did not come up with them. Of course it did not come up in most of their writings, because it was always a no brainer. Do you really suppose that the Fathers were willing to ordain men who had divorced and remarried? Do you think there was any need to raise it as a question?

Yes, I know that St. Paul says to let the unbelieving spouse depart, and "a brother or sister is not in bondage in such cases." But, you will not find the Fathers ordaining men who had divorced and remarried.

Frankly, I understand what an annulment is, and I understand that it makes a difference when done credibly. But, there is something wrong with about a third of the clergy in some jurisdictions being remarried, and in the case of a certain jurisdiction, all but one bishop having joined in the act of granting each other mutual annulments. If you think this is consistent with the Fathers, then I am amazed.

Anonymous said...

Cutting and pasting from LP:

"I'm simply pointing out that a defense of it which says "I Tim 3 forbids the ordination of all divorced and remarried men" is a weak argument, because it relies on an exegesis of Scripture which has no patristic support."

When did I say such a thing? Are you quoting something I wrote in a former debate of a couple of years ago? Speaking of weak arguments, please do not put words in my mouth.

And speaking even further of weak arguments, because a certain exegesis is not found in any of the Fathers (I'm taking your word for it for the time being), how do you conclude they would reject the exegesis "no divorced and remarried" may be ordained? You tend to appeal to the Fathers, LP, in the same monolithic sort of way that Baptists appeal to the Bible.
I surely hope we are not limited to the Fathers in how we may interpret and apply the Scripture.
Lauence K. Wells+

LP said...

To Fr. Hart:

---
in a comment to Fr. Wells, you say that the divorce and remarriage issue did not come up with them
---

Or, at least, did not come up when they explained what they understood 1 Tim 3 to mean.


---
Do you really suppose that the Fathers were willing to ordain men who had divorced and remarried? Do you think there was any need to raise it as a question?
---

An argument from speculation or silence is a weak one.


Offhand, I do not know what the Fathers did or said in cases identical to those "unnamed" bishops to whom you point today.

The commentaries and canons I have found in searching for patristic discussion of 1 Tim 3 haven't addressed that question - they have talked about remarried widowers.


Maybe they would have ordained such men. Maybe not.

Maybe -- exactly analogously to how they applied 1 Tim 3 in the case of remarried widowers -- they would have ordained men who remarried after a divorce from a pre-baptismal/confirmation marriage but not those remarried after a post-baptismal one. (That, I think, the most likely).

Maybe, faced with what we today call an annulled "marriage", they would treat a divorce from a marriage which is found to be sacramentally null as no impediment; maybe, for the sake of appearance and setting an example, they would have seen them as an impediment (even though the remarriage was not immoral or illicit).


I don't know -- because all the definite evidence I have found in searching them on this question has centered around the "husband of one wife" passage and their exegesis thereof.

It is possible to take what they said about this passage and about marriage in general and speculate about a consistent extension of those principles -- and, frankly, I think you could make a consistent argument both "for" and "against" the practice based on that evidence.


Rather than speculating or arguing from silence on the point, it seems to me the sensible thing to do would be to search and see if any of them (or if any local or regional councils, or if any penitential handbooks, etc) actually explicitly deal with that question.


As I have not found such passages -- as what I have found expressly written about 1 Tim 3 in the fathers has not addressed it -- I haven't said anything one way or the other on that point.

I've simply addressed the question "how did the Fathers interpret 1 Tim 3"?


---
Yes, I know that St. Paul says to let the unbelieving spouse depart, and "a brother or sister is not in bondage in such cases." But, you will not find the Fathers ordaining men who had divorced and remarried.
---

Again, you're making me out to say something I'm not... acting as if I've claimed the Fathers would or wouldn't do something when I've said no such thing.

Throughout both these threads, I have been discussing the question "how did the Fathers understand 1 Tim 3". And I've maintained that the prevelant understanding of that passage was that men who had been widowed from a post-baptismal marriage and subsequently remarried could not be ordained. (And that the other patristic interpretation was that it meant "non-polygamists")


I've said that I this is an important clarification to make because by clarifying what interpretations of Scripture Tradition does or does not support clears the way for a more fraternal and productive conversation between different groups in the Continuum about the issue of clerical remarriage.


I have carefully - and explicitly - avoided voicing any opinion on what I think that policy ought to be: whether men remarried after a divorce-from-a-non-sacramental-marriage or an annulment ought to be refused ordination in any or all cases. Besides, that's up to the duly appointed authorities of a jurisdiction to decide... the opinion of a random layman is largely irrelevant.

I've simply tried to address the intellectual/historical question "how did the Fathers understand 'husband of one wife'" based on what I know them to have actually and explicitly stated about that passage.



---
But, there is something wrong with about a third of the clergy in some jurisdictions being remarried, and in the case of a certain jurisdiction, all but one bishop having joined in the act of granting each other mutual annulments. If you think this is consistent with the Fathers, then I am amazed.
---

I've never suggested it is... nor that it isn't. I've never said I don't think it is troubling or creates at least the appearance of scandal.

I've simply said that:

(a) the theology of annulments [regardless of what abuses people have used it to excuse] is consistent with Scripture and Tradition; and

(b) 1 Tim 3, as understood by the Fathers, does not, in itself, forbid such ordinations.


Let others decide what an appropriate _policy_ is. I'm simply trying to clarify what theological and historical evidence we do or do not have from Scripture and Tradition which will serve as the building blocks for establishing those policies.


To Fr. Wells:

---
Are you quoting something I wrote in a former debate of a couple of years ago?
---

I'm sorry... I've been trying quite carefully to distinguish between a position (what I called the "Wells position" simply because you had articulated it concisely in that earlier thread on this site) and a particular defense of that position.

I thought I'd been careful to avoid suggesting that you (or anyone else) used that particular defense... I was trying to analyze that argument (which I have seen made elsewhere) simply on its own merits (or lack thereof).

I was not trying to attribute that argument to anyone... nor even to disagree with the "Wells position", but merely with a flawed argument (regardless of who has or has not made it) in support of that position.


---
because a certain exegesis is not found in any of the Fathers (I'm taking your word for it for the time being), how do you conclude they would reject the exegesis "no divorced and remarried" may be ordained?
---

See above what I said to Fr. Hart.

I've carefully avoided arguing from silence or even getting into speculation about an "extension" of the Father's explicit writings on this passage.

What I've focused on is simply that for which I've found explicit evidence -- i.e. how did the Fathers exegete 1 Tim 3.

On what they might have said in other cases -- even what they did say but which I don't know about -- or the different ways in which these principles might be extended to deal consistently with situations they didn't discuss... I've said nothing about that.


Please don't suggest otherwise.

To do so in an attempt to dispute what I've pointed out about the Fathers on 1 Tim 3 is to "argue" by appealing to an inaccuracy or irrelevancy just as much as is the attempt in saying that historical evidence of an interpretation is useless and worthless unless it is in an Ecumenical Council.



I realize that these are difficult issues and that emotions can run high.

This is why I've tried to be very careful and only address a very specific (and, as it were, "impersonal") point -- "how did the Fathers exegete 1 Tim 3" -- a point the clarification of which I think could be very helpful in facilitating productive and charitable dialogue in the Continuum -- and why I've carefully tried to avoid taking "sides" (or even defending sides) on the issues of policy.


This inaccurate and conversation-crushing response of "oh, you disagree with me on 1 Tim 3 therefor you think any remarried man can scandalously be ordained and so you should be attacked or ignored" is precisely the kind of inaccurate knee-jerk reaction from the one "polar extreme" which I have decried... just as I have decried the knee-jerk reaction, from the other extreme (from which I know some have suffered) of "oh, 1 Tim 3 doesn't expressly forbid ordaining men remarried-after-an-annulment and annulments are doctrinally sound, there's no reason to examine the issue further... and if you disagree you're contemptuous of sacramental theology and therefore should be attacked or ignored."



I believe I have been quite careful to stay focused on the question "how did the early church exegete 1 Tim 3 and implement it in practice" and to avoid - beyond the expression of sympathy for concerns/elements of one side of the debate or another - saying that either "side" is abosultely right or absolutely wrong. And very careful to avoid saying whether not -- in my little opinion -- any particular cleric, or someone in a particular situation, should or should not, in practice, be ordained.

Certainly that's what I"ve tried to do... and I believe an honest and dispassionate reading of my posts would appreciate this care... and not accuse me of supporting one "side" of a policy or another (or of speculatively claiming the Fathers would or would not say something about contemporary jurisdictions) when I have done no such thing.


pax,
LP

LP said...

A CORRECTION & APOLOGY --

Having just submitted my last post & glancing back over that previous thread on this site, I see that I did, at one point, refer to "how Fr. Wells defends" that position (i.e. taking 1 Tim 3 to mean explicitly no-ordaining-of-any-divorcee-
whatsoever).

I apologize -- I thought I had avoided attributing the argument in an effort to stay focused on the logic of the argument itself and not get (as so often happens) dragged down into "he-said-she-said"s or peronal posturing. I certainly tried to be careful to stay focused on the argument per se as discussion ensued, but that early one slipped past me.

Anyway, I have no interest in attributing that (IMPNSHO) flawed argument -- it matters little who said it or not, and if I mistakenly suggested that you did or do make that flawed argument, I apologize. (Heck, even if you do happen to make an argument that way, that's irrelevant to examining "is this argument sound or not.")

I'm interested in what can or can not confidently be said about Tradition's interpretation of Scripture -- not in squabbling over who did or did not say exactly what.

It's the ideas and the theology which are important -- not playing some sort of one-upsmanship competition with rhetorical flourishes or subtle misrepresentations, however tempting those tactics may be to us all.

pax,
LP

Anonymous said...

LP: I do not recall even mentioning the texts from the Pastoral Epistles. I do not recall Fr Hart talking about them either. In case you missed the topic, we were discussing the problem of widespread divorce and remarriage in the clergy. What is your point?
LKW+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP:

You keep narrowing down the patristic options to the two you know. We don't have that so clearly proven. Furthermore, I have not said that it is always wrong to ordain a man who has remarried after being granted an annulment. Read my little article more carefully.

Among Anglicans there is no bishop anywhere who would see the remarriage of a widower as a hindrance to ordination, and there is no place where such an ordination could be a scandal. It has no moral implications at all. Some of the Fathers would not agree (and you cannot claim to have discovered a consensus, or even an "almost" consensus. You have read what some of them thought in a given time and place). Nonetheless, this is a settled issue in every Anglican jurisdiction; a man who was married again after being a widower faces no hindrance on that account.

A man who was divorced and remarried (still in that state with his second wife) without an annulment, however, cannot be ordained. Common sense tells us that St. Paul's words in I Tim. 3 must rule him out. He is living in adultery. Whether or not you find a good case for this obvious bit of common sense in St. Jerome or Quinisext, the man has two wives. One is his real wife in the eyes of God, and the other is his real wife in the eyes of the state. If that does not make him the husband of multiple wives, with or without more patristic evidence, nothing does. He has two wives in fact, the first one and the current one (in some cases with a few thrown in between). He may as well proceed to ordination with a full Mormon or Muslim style harem.

This brings us to the subject I am trying to address, which is too serious for any more distractions.

The Continuing Churches have a problem with credibility. Yes, the standard is held that requires a decree of nullity. But, the process of annulments can be abused, and the multiplicity of these cases among CC clergy does not have the appearance of anything closely resembling the meaning of "blameless." My point is that, in Anglicanism of the kind we claim to be Continuing, this would not have been possible even fifty years ago. We are not really Continuing the old practice; we are simply adding the process of annulments to the new liberalism of the Episcopal Church, et al.

This weakens the effectiveness and authority of the clergy. It fails the needs of the people. It presents a bad witness. It is problem enough when the cases are rare and very understandable. But, what we have today is a scandal.

LP said...

---
Furthermore, I have not said that it is always wrong to ordain a man who has remarried after being granted an annulment
---

I never said you did. Indeed, I agree with you that it is not always wrong.

Rather, I've simply been commenting on the patristic exegesis of 1 Tim 3. As I just wrote, I'm not trying to comment on jurisdictional policies.



---
Anglicans there is no bishop anywhere who would see the remarriage of a widower as a hindrance to ordination, and there is no place where such an ordination could be a scandal. It has no moral implications at all.
---

Whether or not this is a mistake (or, at least, worth reconsideration) because at odds with patristic teaching and practice is, of course, a separate question.


But I'm not appealing to contemporary Anglican practice, nor the feelings of bishops, nor what our culture does or does not consider a scandal.

(Though I would suggest that none of those is an adequate authority to establish what does or does not "have moral implications" -- rather, I think Scripture as received by Tradition should establish our moral theology... regardless of what this or that contemporary Anglican bishop, or our contemporary society, does or does not consider scandalous.)

So while what you say about contemporary Anglicans and what they today happen to consider scandalous may be quite true, it is irrelevant to the question of "how did the Fathers understand this Scripture."


---
A man who was divorced and remarried (still in that state with his second wife) without an annulment, however, cannot be ordained.
---

I've never suggested otherwise... nor, I think, could any sensible Christian who has a Scriptural and patristic understanding of the faith.


---
Common sense tells us that St. Paul's words in I Tim. 3 must rule him out. He is living in adultery.
---

I don't think 1 Tim 3 actually address this -- not because it isn't important (it is) or because Scripture and the Fathers aren't clear that this is forbidden (they are) -- but, far more simply, because that is something which is condemned for all Christians, clergy and laity alike.

The 1 Tim 3 and Titus passages aren't talking about or establishing some second or alternate moral law for clergy - the same law applies to both - nor are they describing regulations which apply to both laity and clergy. The pasages are, rather, enumerating particular and especial qualifications for office which should mark those laity being considered for office.

It makes no sense to look, there, for something binding on laity as well -- and certainly doesn't make sense, in a list of especial qualifications for leadership, to look for something for which laity would have been ejected from full membership in the Church -- as adulterers were -- rather than being considered for ordination.


But you don't need to appeal to 1 Tim 3 to establish the indisputable fact that those living in adultery shouldn't be ordained. That's already clear from the Gospels, 1 Cor 7, and all the teaching of the Fathers which denies the reception of communion or full membership in the Church to adulterers.


---
The Continuing Churches have a problem with credibility. Yes, the standard is held that requires a decree of nullity. But, the process of annulments can be abused, and the multiplicity of these cases among CC clergy does not have the appearance of anything closely resembling the meaning of "blameless."
---

I doubt that many within the Continuum would disagree. I, for one, certainly find it troubling, for exactly the reasons you mention.

I find troubling, as well, the failure of jurisdictions to sit down (either separately or toegher) and address this situation and their disagreements (for it is one of the topics which needs to be addressed for a restoration of Continuum unity.)


And I think one of the chief reasons for this lack of discussion is precisely the "polarization" which I described in our last thread (before we got sidetracked into the "ordination of remarried widowers" discussion) -- one which results, in large part, from these exegetical issues.


I think 1 Tim 3 has been a crucial stumbling block -- one "pole" not accepting that the passage does not, per se, condemn all ordination of remarried men; the other "pole" not accepting the fact that just because there is one and the same moral law for clergy & laity doesn't mean that there can't be "qualifications for office" (some of which may well have moral overtones... and some which don't!) which Scripture and Tradition make for clergy. [And yes, most folks - no doubt you included - aren't at the ends of the spectrum but somewhere closer to the middle on one side or the other.]


Thus clarifying our understanding of what Scripture and Tradition have to say on this pasage -- for all Continuers, one hopes, share a respect for Scripture and Tradition -- represents an important (and prerequisite) step in "clearing the air" to enable the productive adderssing of the situation which you (and many others) find so troubling, a "bad witness" and an (at the least) scandalous "appearance."


pax,
LP

Fr. Robert Hart said...

LP:
The greatest patristic scholars, those who resurrected patristic studies in the 19th century, were Anglicans. The fact that Anglicans agreed, across the board, that remarriage of a widower does not constitute a hindrance is sufficient for us. Furthermore, the Fathers probably knew that one plus one equals two. Arithmetic is an old discipline. The fact that a man with two wives, one recognized by the state and the other by the Church (and God) means he is not "the husband of one wife." Some points are are so obvious that we don't need tons of patristic literature to figure them out. One plus one equals two, and two is a number greater than one, and a husband of two wives is not the husband of one wife.

This part of this discussion is closed, because it amounts only to endless repetition.