Saturday, July 30, 2005

adiaphora... we can't always agree to disagree

It will not do for a hypothetical him to say Jesus is Lord and for a hypothetical her to say Jesus is not Lord and then to say “the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity.” It is false to say she believes racism is serious and he believes racism is no big deal but “the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity.” It is untrue to say she thinks eucharist can be optional, he thinks eucharist is crucial, but “the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity.” NO. No, no, no, no, no.

From T:19. Read the whole thing here. Thank you, Fr. Harmon.

Fr. Harmon also relavently quotes this bit of the Windsor Report:

This does not mean, however, that either for Paul or in Anglican theology all things over which Christians in fact disagree are automatically to be placed into the category of ‘adiaphora’. It has never been enough to say that we must celebrate or at least respect ‘difference’ without further ado. Not all ‘differences’ can be tolerated. (We know this well enough in the cases of, say, racism or child abuse; we would not say “some of us are racists, some of us are not, so let’s celebrate our diversity”). This question is frequently begged in current discussions, as for instance when people suggest without further argument, in relation to a particular controversial issue, that it should not be allowed to impair the Church’s unity, in other words that the matter in question is not as serious as some suppose. In the letters already quoted, Paul is quite clear that there are several matters - obvious examples being incest (1 Corinthians 5) and lawsuits between Christians before non-Christian courts (1 Corinthians 6) - in which there is no question of saying “some Christians think this, other Christians think that, and you must learn to live with the difference”. On the contrary: Paul insists that some types of behaviour are incompatible with inheriting God’s coming kingdom, and must not therefore be tolerated within the Church. ‘Difference’ has become a concept within current postmodern discourse which can easily mislead the contemporary western church into forgetting the principles, enshrined in scripture and often re-articulated within Anglicanism, for distinguishing one type of difference from another.”

1 comment:

J-Tron said...

All of which, of course, begs the question how it is that we manage to have any relation as Anglicans in the first place, considering the theological latitude afforded us. I think, at least in part, it comes from maintaining pertinent structures no matter what. The person in the pew might say "We do not need bishops in apostolic succession to be a true Church" and Anglicanism has said in reply, "That's nice, believe what you wish on that matter, it does not affect your salvation," but at the same time does not give up bishops in apostolic succession. I have no problem taking communion from a priest like Paul Zahl who doesn't believe in the real presence because I know that, whatever is in his head, he has been appropriately ordained by a bishop in apostolic succession and he has properly consecrated the Eucharist. It is then the Body of Christ, whether he thinks it is or not.

Also, not that this is directly discussing sexuality, but it is good to point out that To Set Our Hope on Christ very explicitly denies that ECUSA claims that matters relating to human sexuality are adiaphora. I must admit that I have often thought the amount of time that Windsor spends discussing the distinction between what is and is not adiaphora is a waste of time. Adiaphora is a red herring.