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Dr Radner and Dr Adams on honesty and disorientation
The Confessing Reader ^ | 5/25/2005 | Confessing Reader

Posted on 05/25/2005 6:36:44 PM PDT by sionnsar

The Rev’d Dr Ephraim Radner, rector of Ascension Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado, and a collegial theologian of the Anglican Communion Institute frequently cited on this weblog, has written on the need for honesty from the team The Episcopal Church is sending to the Anglican Consultative Council’s June meeting in Nottingham (UK) in a particularly incisive essay published on the ACI website. The essence of his argument is that the team will be misrepresenting the situation in The Episcopal Church if they do present the actions of the 74th General Convention as in any way the result of a process of common discernment, both within The Episcopal Church and among the Churches of the Anglican Communion as well as our partner Churches in ecumenical dialogue.

And to this degree, they will not be able to fulfill the full request of the Windsor Report that ECUSA provide a demonstration for their actions that “meets the criteria of scripture, tradition and reason” and that can show why they “constitute growth in harmony with the apostolic tradition as it has been received”. They cannot do so because the actions of General Convention manifestly took place within a context that made no attempt to do so, and that was carried out according to intentions that differed wildly in their self-understanding and conscious relationship to these criteria and traditions. At best they can plead the incoherence of a highly charged and divided political process.

Dr Radner comments on the composition of the team:

Given the make-up of the “team” going to the ACC on behalf of ECUSA, we can only fear that such a partisan presentation is what is planned. It is, after all (and notwithstanding the personal grace and intelligence of its members) a group made up of some of the most outspoken, politically importunate, and unbending advocates of affirmed gay sexual partnerships in the church, along with others who have given these attitudes a clear nihil obstat.

As Dr Radner points out, the team is nearly exclusively composed of those in favor of ordaining partnered gay men and lesbians and of blessing homosexual relationships, with the exception of the Rt Rev’d Charles Jenkins, Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana (whose reasons for agreeing to serve on the delegation have been published by Brad Drell in his weblog). Others have not pointed this out, but I wonder at the inclusion of the Rev’d Dr Michael Battle, Vice President of Virginia Theological Seminary as well, given that Dr Battle was a member of the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops who, reporting to the House a few months before the 74th General Convention in 2003, concluded that

because at this time we are nowhere near consensus in the Church regarding the blessing of homosexual relations, we cannot recommend authorizing the development of new rites for such blessings. For these reasons, we urge the greatest caution as the Church continues to seek the mind of Christ in these matters.

What word might Dr Battle bring to the presentation, given The Episcopal Church’s utter disregard for this advice to exercise “the greatest caution” in consenting to the election of a partnered gay man to the episcopate and Canon Robinson’s subsequent ordination and consecration?

One also notes in this regard that Bishop Catherine Roskam was a member of the Theology Committee who produced this report, laid hands on Bishop Robinson at his ordination to the episcopate, and is a member of the team who will make the case for General Convention’s actions as being within the ambit of faithful Anglican teaching and practice.

The incongruities and incoherences mount.

It is illuminating to read in this context a recent essay written by the Rev’d Dr AKM Adams of Seabury-Western and published in his weblog, concerning varieties of dissent and the need for a stable - and traditioned - theological teaching and administration in the Church. Dr Adams is not a theological conservative, at least on the presenting issues of human sexuality, but what he has to say about the present state of the Church rings true.

The stock figure of the dotty English clergyman who dreams up outré explanations (or dismissals) of theological propositions reflects a genuine sense that the church is better off enduring folly than enforcing conformity. At its best, this allows for a thoughtful theologian to challenge the church’s teaching without calling the church’s authority into question, or jeopardizing his or her loyalty to the church. That ecclesiastical endurance, though, relies on the aggregate soundness of the non-dotty leadership; if the community’s pooled sense of theological truth were to drift toward “dotty,” or if the church’s decision-making process itself obscured the church’s teaching authority, the community itself would have nothing left by which to orient itself. The very process of orientation would have come disordered.

The teaching and administration of The Episcopal Church have gone in large measure over to dottiness, and we are communally and theologically disoriented. With Dr Radner, I encourage the team appointed to explain our actions to the Anglican Consultative Council to adopt a policy of open honesty about that.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 05/25/2005 6:36:45 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; keilimon; Hermann the Cherusker; wagglebee; St. Johann Tetzel; AnalogReigns; GatorGirl; ..
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 05/25/2005 6:37:15 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Fraud in WA: More votes than voters!)
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