Thursday, May 26, 2005

philip turner on the ecusa

"We must say this clearly: The Episcopal Church's current working theology depends upon the obliteration of God's difficult, redemptive love in the name of a new revelation. The message, even when it comes from the mouths of its more sophisticated exponents, amounts to inclusion without qualification."

(From the current issue -- June / July 2005 -- of First Things)

Turner is complaining about the Episcopal Church's new theology of "radical inclusion", which works itself out practically in such things as the notion of an "open table" and of the Clinical Pastoral Education requirement in most dioceses (I complained about that all Summer once).

He's absolutely right. ECUSA's new theology leaves no room for notions of sin, redepmtion, forgiveness, repentance, justification, sanctification, holiness of life, etc. etc. Insofar as ECUSA engages, practically, with such things, she engages them on her own terms, not on the terms of the 2000 year old Catholic Church. I.e. ECUSA says "we are Christians" -- though by "Chrisitan" she means something other than what the Church has always meant hitherto. The working theology of radical inclusion within ECUSA may therefore safely be regarded as non-Christian.


Adam said...

I'm just curious - what does CPA requirement have to do with it? I'm not sure about that. I agree that ECUSA is a bloody mess.

father wb said...

Well, CPE is all about affirming the patient in his situation. "Proseletyzing" is strictly forbidden. By this they mean that you cannot suggest to a patient that he might not be right with God, that he ought to consider repenting, that he ought to be baptized, etc. You are sort of expected to be a hindu with hindus, a moslem with moslems, etc. Or, if not this, rather some vague kind of affirming deistic presence, who is only interested in the emotional comfort of the patient. I couldn't stand it, and fought it every step. The operational assumptions of CPE are entirely inconsistent with Catholic Christianity.

Philip said...


Thanks for the encouraging words about CPE. I get to do it for eleven weeks, starting next week. I am just going to talk about sports.

Otherwise, you seem to have too high of expectations for human institutions. Read Augustine and Hobbes and realize the utter depravity of mankind. Everything we do is tainted by original sin. You are correct in one respect with your analysis. Some traditions (radical inclusion, UCC, etc.) are more fallen than others.


Thorpus said...

I didn't realize CPE was so 'inclusive' by which I mean 'vague' by which I mean 'non-catholic' by which I mean 'non-Christian' by which I mean 'an almost complete waste of time'. Thanks be to God I was able to avoid it. From the hearsay available to me, I understand the military chaplaiships are much the same, especially if YDS prof. Kristin Leslie has anything to do with it.

CPA is Certifed Public Accountant, and I don't think they're allowed to preselytize either.

Three cheers for Turner. The church's radical inclusion has always been the the radically open invitation to repentence and salvation. "No one comes to the Father but by me" and all that. The only reason I can think to swap that for a radically inclusive table (ahh, for the days of the Altar) is to further an agenda that brings in inclusiveness from outside Christian theology. If you're previously committed to radical inclusiveness and have found the prooftexts you need to call it Christian, I'm sure it makes sense.

The Ranter said...

That is not encouraging... If a patient is dying and needs to make a confession, the time is running out. There is something to be said for being pastoral and non combative with the dying, but at the same time, I'd rather have a gut-wrenching deathbed and a peaceful eternity than the alternative. However, if the liberals have their way, there will be no sin to repent of (other than not tithing, not signing up for the Sunday School Rota, and not being 'open to God's love') and thus, no Hell to fear, so it solves the whole problem, right?

J-Tron said...

I also found CPE to be practically unbearable, but for different reasons. I didn't have a problem with the bar on proseletyzing since I was a paid agent of the hospital, representing the Church but primarilly there to make patients aware of the religious services available to them. If I were there as a priest, that would be an entirely different issue. As it was, I was allowed to tell people that the sacraments, including baptism and reconciliation, were available to them.

My problem with CPE was the utterly antiquated psychological model it uses for the third of the time you're supposed to spend in the "classroom." My supervisor spent the whole summer trying to tear us all down and make us talk about how much we hate our fathers or some such nonsense. The connection between the "classroom" time and the time spent on the floor with patients was non-existent. Coming off the floor and into the classroom was like walking out of truth and into fiction. Bizarre.

father wb said...

Yeah, J-Tron. It was unbearable for those reasons too. I felt excluded because I came from a "normal" family and was happy with my cultural surround. Horse-poo.