March 31, 2006

Non-Hunting Dogs of Ecclesiastical War

Dr Andrew Goddard takes up Bishop Langrish's comments to our House of Bishops and highlights this argument:

The Bishop proceeds to define precisely the difficult features of the New Hampshire consent and consecration (and hence any similar future consecration). These are two-fold in that such actions amount to:
-'consecrating a Bishop - presumably with intent to create a bishop for the church catholic - without seeking the assent of that wider church catholic (and this is about more than consultation)'
-'ordaining to the episcopate someone (and I make a general rather than a personal point here) who was in a relationship not liturgically sanctioned by the church, and to that extent at least irregular'

It is unfortunate that folks like Langrish and Goddard frame their arguments in ways that simply beg for rebuttal.

For example, are they unaware that the "liturgical sanction" of marriage in the church is not, according to the church's own teaching, what "makes" the marriage? Marriage, in the time of the church's foundation, was a civil phenomenon. The church did eventually get around to imparting its peculiar blessing on this secular institution, but never required the nuptial blessing for "regularity" until the Council of Trent! Quite simply, those of the apostles who were married (such as Peter) did not have the benefit of "Christian marriage" because it didn't exist.

(I leave to one side the observation that for most of its history, and throughout its broadest extent, being in the married state at all was a bar to the episcopate, period. Hmmmm.)

But back to church sanction: The Episcopal Church meeting in General Convention in 2000 recognized (in large part in response to Lambeth 1998.1.10) that persons living in same-sex relationships, while in tension with the historic teaching of the church, and absent any authorized ecclesiastical recogntion, nonetheless were to be given "the prayerful support, encouragement, and pastoral care necessary to live faithfully by" principles of "fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God."

Moreover, the 2003 General Convention, drawing upon this resolution, recognized that indeed there is liturgical recognition being given to such relationships, albeit without provincial authority, and that those who do so are acting within the bounds of the church's common life.

Of course, Goddard would like to play a game of Whack-A-Mole with this, because the "liturgical" objection is simply a smoke-screen for his real opposition to any recognition of same-sex relationships, to say nothing of electing bishops who are living in such relationships. This is also known as the famous Catch XXII (Vicesimus Secundus).

Finally, as to bishops for the "church catholic" -- has either Dr. Goddard or +Exeter checked in with the Vatican lately to see if they are considered to be ordained in the "church catholic"? Failing such broad recognition, what are we to say of the fact that the Church of England and a number of other Anglican provinces would not recognize (at this point) a woman in the episcopate as authorized to function as such?

This dog will not only not hunt, but I am not entirely convinced it is a dog.

— Tobias S Haller BSG


Anonymous said...

Tobias - This is wonderful - as are al the thing on this blog, which I did not know existed - I had no idea you were a poet as well...Do you mind if we link this to the Rivendell site along with the BSG stuff we have there?
Cathy (

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The 1563 Decretum Tametsi forma tridentina which required Church approval in the form of priestly precence at the ceremony, was not mandatory, however, in Roman Catholic lands before the 20th century.

Marriage remained Civil law - and if the forma tridentina was at all used (such as in Calvinist states) it was still a magistrate or civil servant who performed the thing (under the forma tridentina it is the declaration Ego coniugo vos of the Performer which makes the marriage, not will of the parties).

For Roman catholics the forma tridentina was being pushed from about 1906 and made mandatory in the 1918 edition of the Codex iuris canonici.

The People of God perspective of Vatican II finished with this in the Roman church. From then on it is (again) the parties who make their marriage, which is sealed by the Mass.

European civil law has seen the same development: various forms of Platonistic Renaissance Absolutism up to 1945, followed by rapid democratization.

The exception is Sweden, which adheres to the 1915 Marriage Act which European legal tradition, introducing the forma trindetina into Swedish Civil (and Administrative) law, putting an end to the validity of "common law marriages" in the "Childrens laws" of 1917.

Amongst other things these put 3 categories of children, who during Millennia had been considered born in wedlock, outside of the protection of the law as bastards.

In Sweden the forma tridentina was first introduced for the Court and the regiments, in the 1608 Calvinist Court Manual. It was mentioned (under the name of Vigsel) the 1686 Absolutist State Church Law.

The 1734 Law Book (started in 1686 under Absolutism) made the equal standing of the wife and the full inheritance rights of the children dependent on the Vigsel Ceremony.

Up till then it was the Mass that gave equality between the parties - and set thralls free (Upland law of 1296).

Under Absolutism, people of "Foreign" faiths could only contract Common law marriages. This was changed in several stages between 1863 (Jews) and 1908 (Baptists).

(I don't use the term "Civil" here for the various "natural law" followers of the byzantine novelties of Emperor Justinian, but for "positive" or Common law, which is the Western tradition).

Anonymous said...

I came here from Kendall Harmon's blog at

There is one thing I would like to add (as if it is needed) to what Dr. Radner (see above link) wrote.
I submit that the Bishop of Exeter was being polite when he spoke of Bishop Robinson living in a relationship that was not liturgically sanctioned. I believe that what we was trying to avoid saying bluntly was that Bishop Robinson was living in a relationship that the vast majority of the Anglican Communion - indeed the vast majority of Christians world wide - finds sinful. So, please, let's dispense with this red herring of "liturgically sanctioned." To see that the Church blessed marriage or called it a good estate, please read Genesis 2, John 4, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy, Proverbs, and just about any other place that deals with marriage in Holy Scripture. You could also read many of the Church Fathers, Aquinas, and any number of writings by Radner+ and others. You might also look at the Marriage Ceremony in the Book of Common prayer - all editions. The Church may not have had a formal liturgy for blessing marriages, from the beginning, but it probably did bless them early because we have evidence of Jewish blessings in the first century and early Christian worship came from Jewish worship.

As for the marriage of bishops, Peter had a mother-in-law and Anglican Bishops have not had to vow celibacy since the Reformation.

Phil Snyder

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Phil Snyer,

How then do you explain that there isn't a word for "Marriage" in the Bible, even less the abstract concept?

Anonymous said...

Goran Koch-Swahne:

"On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples." (John 2:1-2)

"Now a bishop must be abover reproach, the husband of one wife".... (I Tim 3:2 it implies a marriage, does it not?)

"Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen 2:24)

"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage be be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous." (Heb 13:4)

There are several online tools that make searching the Bible for a word or words easy. Perhaps you should try one before making a claim that is so easily proven wrong.

Phil Snyder

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

No, dear Phil Snyder,

The fat words are gámos, wedding.

That is the Feast, not "marriage" - and certainly not our modern abstract concept of marriage.

That gámos in Dynamic Equivalence "translations" is rendered as a word that did not exist and as a concept that is modern or late modern, is forgery.

Simple as that.

Heb 13:4 says:

Tímios o gámos en pâsin kaì e koíten amíantos. Pórnous gàr kaì moixoùs krineî o Theós.

The wedding is honourable in all and the bed unblemished. God [that is not us] will punish "men who go to Temple prostitutes" and traitors.

Not "marriage".

There was pro-abstinence philosophical and gnosticist anti-cosmic opposition to weddings in the Patriarchate of Alexandria, claiming they were worldly and impure.

In the Early Church this was not the recieved teaching.

Also, marriage as it is found un-named in the Bible is Polygamy, not our Western mutual marriage. In premodern societies people are married off, but there is no marriage as we know it; mutual & c.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for helping make the evangelical case that the Episcopal Church is headed on a course of no return (no matter what we're hearing from the House of Bishops this week) by citing Resolution D039 (GC 2000) in your post today. When D039 was passed as a compromise to help keep dialogue open, evangelicals warned that the language would be used to justify the holiness of same sex unions and partnerships. The evangelicals agreed to it (remember, Bishop Howe voted 'aye') as an offer to keep the dialogue open (the final resolve was struck down in the House of Bishops which actually was the whole point of the resolution - to begin to create new liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions). You now cite D039 to justify the actions of General Convention 2003 and I thank you for making the case better than the AAC or the Network could do. Thanks for showing us that Episcopalians have long not supported the covenant of marriage as revealed in Scripture or in the biblical understanding of holy living. This is an excellent reason of why General Convention 2006 is crucial one way or the other. The status quo and theological agenda of the current ECUSA leadership is exactly as you outline - and so our friends in the Global South and in England and Australia and the Far East are right to be gravely concerned about the real meaning of our leadership's words. Keep going, sir - you dig the grave better than anyone else.

All Along the Watchtower

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dear Mr. Watchtower,

General Convention 2003 itself used the resolution 2000.D039 as justification for its actions; this was not my idea!

As to digging a grave, well, even there we make our song. It being Lent I won't cite the words, but I'm sure you know the tune.

As a general comment, this post has been cross-linked to Titus One Nine, and some interesting responses by Ephraim Radner, to which I've also responded, and I will eventually make a new post out of this. I do want to say here that I do realize that Langrish?s primary point was about preserving the Communion. (I wish he had stuck with that rather than dishing up those tasty red herrings). But there are two approaches in any disagreement in which one party does something the other doesn?t agree with.

1) (a) The offending party can apologize and stop doing what is offensive, until (b) the offended party either changes his or her mind or stops being offended.

2) The offended party can decide it can live with the offense, or that it isn?t really all that serious; or comes to agree.

You will notice several things:

that (1)(b) is actually subsumed in (2);

that without the possibility of part (1)(b) or (2) then (1)(a) becomes a permanent condition.

The ?Windsor? approach seems to think that (1) is possible in its entirety. It talks in terms of ?moratoria? (temporary by definition) instead of a ?cessation.? It talks about further study and dialogue ? hardly to the point if the issue is moot.

But what I would ask is, why can?t those offended take the position outlined at (2)? They have done this with the ordination of women, which I would argue is a much more serious matter than the ordination of a person in a same-sex relationship. After all, for those who oppose both it is the difference between a bad bishop and a person who isn?t a bishop at all! Which, ultimately, is more problematical to the concept of communion and inter-communion? I think the answer is obvious.

I am heartened that not all Anglican Provinces who oppose the ordination of persons in same-sex relationships feel that this is a communion-breaking issue. It appears to me that the hard-liners on this represent a minority of the Provinces. I hope that they can come to agree to live with this ambiguity for a time, rather than sever their ties with those who offend, and those who can live with the offense.

Anonymous said...

Tobias writes: "General Convention 2003 itself used the resolution 2000.D039 as justification for its actions; this was not my idea! As to digging a grave, well, even there we make our song. It being Lent I won't cite the words, but I'm sure you know the tune."

Exactly, the more we cite the facts of what General Convention has done in the past, the more the case is made that the Episcopal Church is no longer in the Anglican tradition.

You see, the case was made to us at GC 2000 that dialogue was still possible, but that - as we see just three years later in Minneapolis - was just a ruse. The decisions have all ready been made and those who may raise their voices in protest are called hardliners. Their so-called hard-line is mainstream Christianity shared by the majority of Anglicans, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. The Episcopal Church is being prophetic and damned anyone who disagrees.

As for Lent and General Convention, I am reminded of this:

I've been here before
I've seen this room
and I've walked this floor,
I used to live alone
before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag
on the marble arch
and love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

L. Cohen

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Daer Mr. Watchtower,

"Dialogue" does not mean everyone having to stop what they are doing until everyone (and that means everyone) agrees that it is o.k. to change. This is neither how the church nor the world works. As far as I can see, no dialogue was stopped by GC 2003: people are still talking, on both sides of the issue. Some few are even listening!

Do you think that people who think they are right about something should stop just because other people, even many or most people, think they are wrong? There would not be a church on earth today if the Apostles had followed your advice.

I beleive that my view is correct, and the whole weight of the tradition on this matter is, quite simply, wrong. It is wrong on this matter as it was wrong about the geocentric universe, and for much the same reason: a defective understanding of reality deformed by a defective theology.

I say this fully aware that I may be mistaken. However, having reviewed the arguments advanced by the leaders of the traditional view, I find the same errors and assumptions coming up time and again. I would be delighted to see a fresh and persuasive argument that could stand up to close examination. But I am not at all impressed by the "weight of tradition" approach: the weight of tradition has been demonstrably wrong in the past; why should I trust it now, independent of a persuasive argument? And as Richard Hooker noted, given a persuasive argument, who needs the tradition?

Anonymous said...

You ask "Do you think that people who think they are right about something should stop just because other people, even many or most people, think they are wrong?"

Yes, I do. Christians have a history of standing against the winds of the spirit of the age, sometimes at the cost of their own lives (as our brothers and sisters in Uganda know so well). The "something" matters. We don't stop and take a poll on morality and holy living. We just stop. There are consequences to our actions - and the Episcopal Church is now facing the consequences of her actions, born - as you have illustrated so well, if perhaps unintentionally - after decades of moral decline. Who is the lone voice, crying in the wilderness, ""Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"?

It is not the spirit of the age that speaks so defiantly? Yet who cries out in a spirit of repentance but the Holy Spirit? Who is brokenhearted by these acts of defiance? Is it not an act of defiance, that act you illustrate so well when you say "I believe that my view is correct, and the whole weight of the tradition on this matter is, quite simply, wrong." Where is the humility, the meekness, the transparence, the aroma of Christ? Where are the tears that lament over what we have done to our witness in the world? The witness speaks louder than even the words. Where do we make our lent?

Which why it is a cold and broken hallelujah.