March 17, 2007

See how these Christians...

Seriously, few things have troubled me more in recent days than the reactions to the failure of the consent process in the Diocese of South Carolina, and the small-minded, carping, mean comments that are coming from some on both sides of the aisle. In the meantime, I had a graced opportunity for a conversation with Mark Lawrence in an open place -- a situation to which I am still slow to be accustomed, as it is odd to speak so personally in a public forum; perhaps the fact that it is via a keyboard rather than face to face makes it seem less difficult than having such a conversation on a bus! (I am still disconcerted by people pouring out the intimate details of their lives in cell phone conversations in public places!)

In any case, Mark and I have had an irenic exchange which I hope can also model how I wish all of us could communicate in moments of high emotion. It is over at Kendall Harmon's Titusonenine, beginning about the 28th comment. (Continue reading down to comment 37 for Mark's gracious closing.) It also lays out a bit about the work we did together at the last General Convention, at which I formed a very positive impression of Mark Lawrence, in spite of our disagreements on some of the matters at hand. —Tobias Haller BSG

8 comments:

R said...

Tobias,

Thanks to you and Mark Lawrence+, we have some reasoned conversation as a counterpoint to all the polemical discourse of late.

No one came out of this one unscathed, it seems to me.

adoremus said...

I agree that the exchange is a model of Christian Charity. I also note that you claim to be "theologically conservative" on many issues except one. Must be "the issue" as oft put on Chris Johnson's blog. May I make a rash prediction? If TEC somehow comes out of this with current direction and leadership intact, you may eventually exit in one way or another if you don't conform on ALL matters important to the Episcopal left.

First they came for the neanderthal conservatives, then they came for the moderate convservatives, etc.

David Charles Walker said...

that encounter was brief... but amazing. YOU are amazing!

Tobias said...

Adoremus, I have never bought the accusation made by some that TEC is going to hell in a handbasket because of statements by Pike or Spong, or the (to my mind) excessively narrow critiques of people like Frank Griswold or Katharine Jefferts Schori. I do not expect any time soon to see the Creeds tossed out the window. There are plenty of things TEC does that I don't agree with, most of them fairly minor. And as far as I can see, most "liberals" are willing to allow for disagreement; what they become intolerant about, in their own annoying way, is what they perceive as a narrow insistance from the "conservative" side that all must be done in fashion X. It is true that the intolerances of the left can be as bad as those of the right -- but I don't expect to see the equivalent of the Cultural Revolution in TEC, at least in my lifetime! Of course, I could be wrong; but I won't leave peacefully ... Peace,
Tobias

Weiwen Ng said...

Tobias,

Just curious, as a theological conservative, how do you handle the homosexuality issue? Do you believe that gays, lesbians and bisexuals may form same-sex romantic (and/or sexual) relationships on equal terms with everyone else? What do you make of the Bible's condemnations of same-sex sexual activity? And all the juicy stuff like that.

adoremus,

Tobias hits the nail on the head, I think. I believe that everyone should question the assumptions they have been handed down. How they handle the questioning and what conclusions they come to is their own business - so long as they don't conclude that we should conduct genocide or oppression, anyway. Most of us have no intention of conducting any sort of Cultural Revolution.

Tobias said...

Dear Weiwen,

Thanks for the question. I would answer your question in the affirmative; that is, I believe that the "virtue" in a human relationship is not determined by the sex of the persons involved. I do not accept the popular thesis that "the Bible condemns homosexuality" -- rather, one can find in Scripture some specific actions which are condemned in specific circumstances. Nor do I believe the Scripture to be the determinative factor here -- there are many things definitively condemned in Scripture (far more unambiguously than same-sex sexuality) that are not only allowed by the present-day church, but even commended.

Moreover, I think that the best case in favor of committed same-sex relationships is better supported by strict adherence to orthodox theological doctrines, most importantly the Chalcedonian definition of the Incarnation, which clarifies that gender (or sex) is not essential to the human nature. Efforts by some to read theological or moral significance into the existence of the male and female in human beings runs aground on this great theological truth.

If you are intereseted in reading more about my views on the wider issue, I commend a paper from a decade ago, Lawfully Joined which was my masters' thesis in seminary.

David said...

If i may add a resource to weiwen's question about homosexuals and same-sex unions, read "What God Has Joined Together," by David Myers and Letha Scanzoni, who argue for same-sex marriage from a mostly evangelical context.

Eileen said...

Tobias - You are truly a gentleman. Your exchange with Fr. Lawrence embodies the type of discourse I have come to expect from you. Many blessings.

Additionally, I agree with your statement that the issue I have with the conservative factions has far more to do with the insistence of doing it the "right" way and being condemned in a blanket fashion for the way I meet God.

Ultimately, we each meet God in our own way. In my heart, I believe it is more important to God that we meet him, then meeting him the right way.

Blessings.