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January 09, 2005

Comments

WannabeAnglican

I'm sorry. But apostates and false teachers are not part of the body of Christ. And if you think that's mean, then you don't want to read about what Paul said about such.

I appreciate your call for civility. But apostates and heretics should be called out just as Paul and the fathers called out the apostates of their day.

Karen B.

A nice post, QC. Thanks. About the only thing you wrote with which I struggled was the following.

It's perfectly OK to think that homosexual conduct is prohibited by Scripture and therefore is a sin. It's equally OK to think that it's a sin against charity to deny homosexuals the benefits of same-sex marriage.

I take issue with the phrase "it's perfectly ok" -- as if both are morally neutral positions.

We reasserters don't believe that these are morally neutral issues. And if something is a sin, it's NOT perfectly ok. If not repented of, it could cause someone to be eternally separated from God. We believe there is light and darkness, good and evil, black and white, truth and lies. And so sometimes the debate can't be recast into two equally morally neutral positions.

But, other than feeling the need to make that clarification, I really appreciated your words, and I appreciate all the challenging comments and questions you offer on T19 and elsewhere. Thanks.

D. C.

Many thanks for the kind words, Karen. Please note: I'm saying only that it's perfectly OK to think that homosexual activity is a sin, or to think that it's sinful to deny homosexuals the benefits of same-sex marriage. I've never understood it to be sinful to hold an opinion, no matter what its morality; it's what one actually does that might be sinful. (That's a separate issue from faith versus works, I think, which is an argument I hope to avoid [g].)

D. C.

Let me add another problematic phrase. DON'T SAY: The Episcopal Church has flouted Biblical authority. INSTEAD, TRY: Many regard the Episcopal Church's actions as contrary to Biblical authority.

bls

We reasserters don't believe that these are morally neutral issues. And if something is a sin, it's NOT perfectly ok. If not repented of, it could cause someone to be eternally separated from God. We believe there is light and darkness, good and evil, black and white, truth and lies. And so sometimes the debate can't be recast into two equally morally neutral positions.

The problem is that I don't believe this statement at all. "Reasserters" can claim that they "believe there is light and darkness, good and evil, black and white, truth and lies." But I've seen no evidence at all for this so far during the "homosexuality" debates, since I've never heard an argument against homosexuality that's based on logic - which is the means human beings most often use to decide what "truth" is. And no one ever seems to listen to gay people and what we say about our own "truth."

So when claims like this are made for "truth," I'm afraid I take them with a very large grain of salt at this point. And that's not a good sign for the upcoming "debates," I'd say.

Gay people are not "homosexuality." We are real flesh-and-blood human beings, and that's a "truth" that hasn't quite been digested yet. As Canon Edward Norman said, significant numbers of Christians are and always have been homosexual. Another truth.

Anyway, the "gay marriage" issue here is a red herring. It's not part of these debates, since it's a political and civil matter.

bls

(And BTW, that argument seems to imply that "reappraisers" aren't interested in distinguishing between "light and dark, good and evil, truth and lies."

Which reminds me of the accusation by conservatives of liberals that they are "moral relativists." But this isn't true, either, and here's an argument against this easy sort of disparagement:

Conservatives often accuse liberals of "moral relativism." Now I surely disagree with most liberals on many specific moral issues. But I'm puzzled about exactly what the commonly heard charge of moral relativism in general, as opposed to a charge of moral error on a particular issue, means.

I take it that it can't be that liberals don't believe in moral principles. They surely do: Most liberals, for instance, believe that race discrimination is wrong, rape is wrong, murder is wrong, legal interference with a woman's right to get an abortion (at least until a certain gestational age) is wrong, and so on.

Now it's true that, to liberals, some of these principles admit of exceptions -- but surely this is true of conservatives, too. Liberals, conservatives, and libertarians both agree, for instance, that killing is generally bad, but the definition of when killing is evil and when it's permissible (or even laudable) necessarily has to be pretty nuanced, so that it properly treats killing in self-defense, killing in war, and the like. In fact, some liberals of the pacifist stripe may employ a more nearly absolute prohibition on killing (at least of born humans) than conservatives do -- in my view, that's their moral error, but it's not an error of moral relativism.

bls

So you see, the "rules of engagement" have already been broken, from my point of view, by the insinuation that "reasserters" are interested in "truth," and by inference that "reappraisers" aren't.

How's that going to work out, then?

David Huff

Well, since the very first comment broke the rules of engagement (as did subsequent ones, per bls above), I can't hold on to much hope that the discourse will remain civil for long.

I think it's time we realize that there is an uncrossable gulf between a certain percentage of the "conservatives" and the mainline church that they are unwilling to bridge. I don't say this from an emotional standpoint, but from a pragmatic one. I think any discussion time between these groups would be much more productively spent in discerning ways to part company in a graceful and peaceful manner vs. artificially trying to force them together.

D. C.

David, personally I don't regard WannaBeAnglican's comment as crossing the line (not that anyone has asked me to be the judge). He obviously has strong feelings, and he expressed his opinion in a reasonably civil way. He probably doesn't regard either you or me as fellow Christians, or BLS either for that matter, and who knows whether he'd be willing to share a Eucharist with us, but that's his prerogative.

bls

I'm willing to talk. I actually want all this stuff to come out into the open and see the light of day.

But we have to set some terms, and start off on an equal footing. To have one side claim the mantle of "Truth-with-a-capital-T" before talks even begin creates resentment and anger (quite to be expected, in my view), and dooms the whole project from the beginning.

You may be right, David. Perhaps there's no way to bridge the gap; we'll soon find out, anyway. All of this does seem to raise more anger and bile than seems worthwhile, at times. On the other hand, we gay folks in the United States have a responsibility, I think, to people elsewhere; there are gay people in conservative Africa, and elsewhere, that have no place at all to go.

And to be honest, I think ECUSA will profit, too, from hearing and absorbing a (reasonable) conservative viewpoint. We really do need both sides to continue to be "via media," a thing I personally value a great deal.

David Huff

D.C., Well, having WannaBeAnglican refer to people he/she doesn't agree with as "apostates," "false teachers" and "heretics" doesn't strike me as horribly civil (them's fightin' words). However, I may have just grown thin-skinned from hearing that stuff so much ;)

bls, I agree whole-heartedly that ECUSA needs to hear from a "(reasonable) conservative viewpoint." We have many of these folks in our Via Media Dallas group and they add to our organization in a very positive way. We wouldn't be via media without them!

Matter of fact, I think it's critical to differentiate these conservatives from those who will not come to the table with the mainline folks and who are actively working to promote schism.

bls

Matter of fact, I think it's critical to differentiate these conservatives from those who will not come to the table with the mainline folks and who are actively working to promote schism.

I think this might be the key to the whole thing, actually.

Again, I'm willing to listen and to talk, even with the other folks, the "unreasonable" types. But they need to listen also, and they need to recognize, from the outset, that "liberals" (am I one? who knows at this point?) are also seeking truth. That's the whole point of all this, in fact. We're not trying to be "nice," although there's nothing wrong with that, either, now that I think of it. We're acknowledging reality and trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Robert

I would add "ilk" to the words to be avoided list (e.g., "Bishop X and her ilk"). It just sounds so dismissive.

"Diabolical" is also bad, when referring to people, ISTM.

I know a lot of people are disappointed and the stakes (seem?) high, but do we really hate each other this much to show such utter disdain for other people, especially other Anglicans? (And, yes, I think it's hate, no matter what qualifiers or justifications are given.)

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