Skip to comments.We’re All Crusty, Now
Posted on 08/25/2005 7:44:44 AM PDT by sionnsar
The Greek story has it that Procrustes the innkeeper claimed he had a magical one-size-fits-all bed. Of course, the fact that Crusty used an axe to adjust the too-tall, and a rack to enhance the not-tall enough to fit the bed, did not come up when the
victims guests arrived at the Procrustes Motel. Procrustes met his deserved end when the hero Theseus refused to be fitted, and the bandit ended up on his own bed.
Why recall this old story? Well, here at CaNN were all about trying to remember and in that remembrance, to return to God and the fullness of classical Christianity.
After all, were seeing an outbreak of liberal Anglican Procrusteanism these days, as conservatives are adjusted one way or another on the magic canonical and legal beds of many dioceses. Liberals just arent liberal, we see again and again: the openness, diversity, tolerance, pluralism and other back-pattings they use to describe themselves and their project are all about how they FEEL, not what they actually DO.
The Rt. Revd Procrustes
Hearkening back to Canadian renegade Bishop Michael Ingham, we can see the roots of the current chop-or-stretch liberalism arise from well just not getting it. A far-sighted editorial from 1997 lays it out (more editorials here):
Ironically, for one who is committed to peace among religious communities, he does not seem to have a method for dealing with the real diversity in his own. In one tantalizing passage, he comes close to admitting this: There are two broad streams emerging within modern Christianity, which are locked in a highly competitive relationship with each other One is the conservative - evangelical - fundamentalist coalition on one side of the theological spectrum, and the other is the modernist-liberal-progressive coalition on the other. Each of them claims to be orthodox but each defines the essence of orthodoxy differently, and each perceives the other as threat and rival . Each is engaged in a struggle for power within all the mainstream denominations of the church today [pp.94-95], and so on. But his train of thought veers off into a generalized discussion of religious rivalry and competition, and we never find out that Ingham is indeed a prominent member of the liberal coalition which dominates the Canadian church establishment. Ingham does not talk about how that tension is to be dealt with, and the rest of the book does not hold out much hope for tolerance of the conservative community in the Canadian church. Tolerance he opines at one point must exclude intolerance [p. 138] - a rubric which could justify the extirpation of any non-pluralist theology .
Extirpation.. ecclesiastical ethnic cleansing.. wolf among the sheep.. by hook-or-crook.. Tolerance must exclude intolerance.. Procrustes chop-or-stretch. Sounds pretty much like the long sad tale of 1999-2003 in the Diocese of New Westminster. Again 1997:
Tolerance after all, is not really tolerance, if it does not involve toleration of genuine diversity. Yet pluralism abolishes each religions distinctive claims for and understanding of the truth. The Contradictory claims of other religions are to be regarded as possessing equal validity with ones own. All diversity in essential matters disappears, and all outward diversity of practice is reduced to differences of style, taste, or fashion alone - consumer options in the religious supermarket, ultimately interchangeable. It means that you are free to hold any sort of view you like provided it does not affect the established religion of theological pluralism in any concrete way whatsoever. So in the end theological pluralism does not provide a basis for any religion that is not itself pluralist. In the end, theological pluralism surely tends not to support religious diversity but rather to undermine it
Sound familiar? Mhmm.
Choose yer Poison
What we are seeing, then, is the predictable outworking of a flawed logic: a feel-good pluralist theology with an awful lot of unintended and unpleasant consequences: Ingham, Bennison, Peers, Andy Smith, Crawley, Dixon, Griswold, Robinson, Hutchison and all the rest. Iron claw, velvet glove. Procrustes little helpers. All shall fit, or else.
That so many liberal leaders conservatively demand blind institutional obedience, clerical and parochial meekness (for conservatives, anyway), oaths of loyalty, and are such sticklers for the absolute right of
Anglican Popes bishops in all matters well, its a bit rich.
Again from New Westminster where, in the name of diversity, Anglican heresiarchs like Jack Spong and Dick Holloway were invited to the diocese to speak in 1998-9, yet in 1999 the evangelical Archbishop of Singapore, and the Primate of South East Asia, Archbishop Moses Tay was forbidden to preach at a parish church in that same diocese. Ingham: Im all for theological diversity he is reported to have said in the Vancouver Sun, but Im concerned his visit would harm my attempts to create dialogue and mutual listening in the diocese.
Once again, Canada has led the way. Comments the AFP Editor:
One can sympathize. Archbishop Tay, an outspokenly conservative charismatic Anglican, would likely inflame passions. But a bishop who admits only the most temporary submission to the law of the church submission only in letter, not in the spirit, for he openly campaigns against the law of the church has little moral authority by which to invoke laws against those who hold opposite views. Having abandoned the unity that is found through common submission to the rule of law in matters of doctrine and discipline, Ingham must resort, as such lawless liberals do, to bureaucratic power to keep their piece of the institution from blowing apart. In the end, these liberal clerics, so quick to decide matters of doctrine and discipline by majority vote, are seen to favour managed democracy, in which only the revolutionary agenda gets the full weight of the episcopal and synodical process .
Do As I Say, Not.. That Other Thing
Bishops themselves are subject to the Lord, and thus to the laws and received faith of the church; this is, in part, where their own moral authority comes from, along with their ability to call for a common submission to the rule of law in doctrine and discipline. That many modern bishop and synods and conventions locally or nationally make liberal stuff up as they go along, then retroactively invoke the not very liberal principle of submission to such mutated Christian things and novel ways, is topsy-turvy wickedness and lawless nonsense. Its called jumping off your own shadow, or chopping off the branch youre sitting on. The true character of such things doesnt take long to merge: mere and arbitrary bullying. Naked power. Chop-or-stretch.
Of course, modern progressives didnt invent bullying those over whom you have power; we all do it, or work mightily to restrain ourselves from it. But traditionally, rulers or shepherds are bound by many oligations towards those they rule over, and are judged by higher standard that what they happen to prefer, can get away with, or what is currently permissable. We are commanded by our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ to be the servant of all, tending our power to the blessing and benefit of others, so futhering the will and Kingdom of God.
Sadly, modern ideological liberalism cant seriously analyse itself in a larger framework or a greater light: while living off the built-up spiritual, moral and institutional capital of past faithful generations, church progressives have only shallow puddles of theology or philosophy to paddle in. To a fair-hearted liberal, current developments will somehow feel wrong the slogans and promises dont match reality. Silencing people and excluding viewpoints isnt what its supposed to be about, is it? What happened to dialogue and inclusion?
Equally sadly, such tolerant lawlessness and betrayal spreads witness all the recent Anglican news of I say so, cuz Im the bishop, dammit and this discredits the very idea of lawful and godly authority. Even some so-called conservatives are tempted to become a law unto themselves, and join the rebel crew of those doing whatever seems right in their own eyes. Thus both Liberal and conservative can become tribal names for My crowd and the things which currently suit us.
How like Procrustes.
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