Daily Archives: October 20, 2007

From NPR–American Muslim Family Chooses Polygamy

Though polygamy is illegal and uncommon in the United States, some Americans practice it, including some Muslims. One Muslim family living San Diego says the drama depicted in shows like Big Love on HBO is more fiction than fact.

Bartolone is a fellow with the Knight-Carnegie News21 Initiative.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Scott Carson: Scripture, Meaning, and Interpretation

It is sometimes said, mostly by Protestants but sometimes by Catholics and Anglicans, that there exists such a thing as “the plain meaning of Scripture” (PMS) and this thing ought to serve as the normative criterion for the acceptance or rejection of any proposed assertion about Christianity in particular but sometimes of any assertion at all. Some Catholics will say that, while there is such a thing as “the plain meaning of Scripture”, the “final meaning”, that is, the interpretation given to Scripture by the Tradition and the Magisterium, is more important than “the plain meaning”. I shall argue that there is no such thing as “the plain meaning of scripture”, at least as it is used by most Protestants, and hence, a fortiori, it cannot serve as a normative criterion for the interpretation of scripture.

First of all it must be admitted by all sides that, whatever else one must mean by the expression “the plain meaning of scripture”, it means, first and foremost, a certain kind of interpretation of scripture. This is because, in spite of the fact that some passages of Scripture may be taken literally, at their “face-value”, so to speak, there are certain very obvious exceptions to this. For example, when we read, in Revelation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, we cannot take this literally, unless we sincerely believe that God is identical to two letters of the Greek alphabet. No one, including severe literalists (SL) who think that the world was created in six 24-hour periods, will suggest that God is nothing more than a letter of the Greek alphabet. The language is quite obviously metaphorical, and presumably other cases such as this one would be sufficient to show that in at least some passages the Scriptures must be interpreted in light of their metaphorical content, and that to interpret them in a literal way in every instance would be to reduce Christianity to nonsense.

So, if every reading of the Scriptures, including a literal one, is in reality an interpretation of the Scriptures, we must take some pains to distinguish the interpretation of the Scriptures that is called “the plain meaning of the Scriptures” from that set of interpretations that is favored by the Church. The non-Catholic view is essentially connected to the criterion of private judgment that I criticized in this post. According to the non-Catholic view, PMS is something that is equally available to any well-informed, rationally competent reader. No one denies that different well-informed, rationally competent readers often come up with different interpretations of the Scriptures–that is why there are so very many Protestant denominations, after all–but the central idea is that disputes of this sort can be settled by well-intentioned and jointly cooperative searches for the truth, in which rational agents rely on their own rational powers, their own private judgment, and a cooperative examination of all available empirical evidence. The fact that this has rarely, if ever, succeeded, for some reason, gives no one pause, but it is not my intention here to examine the psychological underpinnings of PMS, as interesting as such an inquiry would be.

The Catholic view is rather different. Catholic practice has traditionally been to privilege certain readings of the Scriptures over others.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Montreal diocese becomes second to urge same-sex blessings

The annual synod of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal has become the second to urge its bishop to allow clergy to bless previously solemnized civil marriages between same-sex couples.

Bishop Barry Clarke, who himself concurred in the Oct. 19 vote, told reporters after the vote that he is “glad we came to a place where we made a decision.”

He said some Anglicans in the diocese may not he happy with the decision, “but at least we can say we are out there and we can say that’s where we stand.” He told delegates at the close of the debate that, “I want to say how impressed I am with all of you.” He added, “I will consider seriously what I have heard today. I will take it into serious and prayerful consideration. I am a pastor at heart.”

However, he said in a statement that the decision makes no immediate change in the policies and practice of the diocese. He would bring the results of the vote to a meeting of the Canadian house of bishops Oct.25-30 in London, Ont.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Ashley Null–Conversion to Communion: Thomas Cranmer on a Favourite Puritan Theme

In the end, repentance, not love, has come to symbolise Cranmer himself, his life’s work being interpreted by his last days. In the eyes of his critics, Cranmer’s recantations prove that at best he was weak and vacillating. In the hearts of his admirers, however, Cranmer’s last-minute renunciation of his recantations proved his true commitment to the Protestant faith. But what of Cranmer himself, how did he interpret his last days and the meaning they gave to his life? According to a contemporary account, having previously been distraught, Cranmer came to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind.

Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right Hand, and thrust it into the Flame, and held it there a good space, before the Fire came to any other Part of his Body; where his Hand was seen of every Man sensibly burning, crying with a loud Voice, This Hand hath offended. As soon as the Fire got up, he was very soon Dead, never stirring or crying all the while.

His Catholic executioners surely thought Cranmer was making satisfaction to his Protestant God. Yet his doctrine of repentance would have taught him otherwise, for the God he served saved the unworthy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Theology

The Chicago Tribune looks at the Nominees for Bishop of Chicago

Next week, the eight finalists for bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago meet their potential flock at a series of gatherings throughout the region: St. Mark’s in Glen Ellyn on Tuesday; Church of the Redeemer in Elgin on Wednesday; Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest on Thursday; Church of the Transfiguration in Palos Park on Oct. 26; St. Edmund’s in Chicago on Oct. 27, and St. Luke’s in Dixon on Oct. 28.

The slate of nominees reflects the changing face of the nation’s Episcopal church, with three women and two Africans among those running. Before this election, no woman had been nominated for Episcopal bishop of Chicago.

Tribune religion reporters Margaret Ramirez and Manya A. Brachear compiled information on the eight nominees from personal statements and interviews with Episcopal scholars. The election will be held Nov. 10 at the diocese’s annual convention in Wheeling. The new bishop will succeed Bishop William Persell, who has led the diocese since 1999.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Mary Adamski: Episcopal bishop evokes ”˜living God’ on gay issue

If you believe the headlines, schism is imminent in one of the oldest Christian denominations because the American branch of the church, caught up in the latest civil rights movement, approved an openly gay man as bishop.

Not so, said that bishop, who was in Honolulu this week, giving a small audience at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church some political, philosophical and pastoral insights into the issue that put the U.S. Episcopal Church at odds with some other branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“I don’t think there are many bishops in the Episcopal Church who believe that 20 years from now we won’t have an authorized same-sex blessing, and that the issue of an openly gay bishop won’t be an issue any more,” said Bishop V. Gene Robinson, head of the New Hampshire Episcopal Diocese. About 60 members of the Hawaii Episcopal Diocese and a few from other denominations attended his unpublicized appearance at a meeting of Integrity, an organization for homosexual Episcopalians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Patricia Templeton: New 'Bible' welcome

Years ago, I was in the hospital room when a beloved parishioner was disconnected from the machines that were keeping her alive. I prayed at the bedside with her family, anointed her with oil, then stepped back to the corner of the room, trying to be both present and unobtrusive during those sacred last moments of life.

The mood in the room was somber, filled with tears and hushed voices. So I was a bit disconcerted when a man I didn’t know came up to me and heartily introduced himself as a cousin of the dying woman.

“Are you the preacher?” he asked.

I nodded yes.

“Does your church believe in the Bible?” he demanded to know.

I was both stunned and offended at the question. Out of respect for the circumstances, I quietly assured him we did indeed, then quickly stepped away to speak to someone else.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Central Florida Episcopal Leaders in Separation Talks

Priests and lay leaders from nine Episcopal churches – including two with Polk County ties – have begun talks with the Diocese of Central Florida that could lead to them breaking away from the denomination.

Among the nine priests are the Rev. Andrew Doan, rector of Holy Cross Church in Winter Haven, and the Rev. Geoffrey Boland, who leads St. Nicholas, a newly planted church that meets at Liberty High School in Poinciana in Osceola County but draws members from Polk County. The group has been critical of increasingly liberal policies in the Episcopal Church toward the role of homosexuals, including ordaining them as priests or bishops and using liturgies to bless same-sex unions.

On Friday, Boland would say only that the priests and lay leaders had met Thursday with Bishop John Howe and other diocesan leaders and entered into “a process of conversation and negotiation.”

A statement released Thursday said the two sides discussed “possible scenarios by which all or part of the congregations may disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.”

Doan said no decisions have been reached.

“We’re still in wait-and-see mode. There’s a lot of talking to do,” he said.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable

“It just makes it clearer that the group of bishops is finding that the number of congregations in The Episcopal Church who want to affiliate in that way is shrinking and they are looking for partners with similar philosophy and theology outside The Episcopal Church. I think it would be remarkable if they could all gather into one body. They have such a history of splitting that it would be a sign of the Spirit’s moving if they could gather into a coherent whole…”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori speaking of Common Cause.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Douglas LeBlanc: Coming Attractions in California

1. Some dioceses will proceed with public same-sex blessings if they are so inclined. This commission’s report was authorized by the diocese’s 156th convention in 2005, and once the gears are turning it’s unrealistic to expect that they will stop suddenly because of a statement from the House of Bishops, a resolution from the Lambeth Conference, or even a resolution of General Convention (peace be upon it). The diocese’s 158th convention, which meets for its day of business on Saturday, Oct. 20, could table the report or receive for a year of study or otherwise kill it with kindness. Still, does anyone seriously expect such a vote from this convention?

2. This discussion is, and always has been, about marriage. Three times the commission members express their hope “for the day when ”˜marriage equality’ will be the reality in our Church and State.”

Set aside the oft-heard and, to my mind, patronizing arguments that the church should bless same-sex couples because it blesses houses, pets, and fishing boats. Human beings are not houses, pets, or fishing boats, and for the church to pronounce the blessings of God on a covenanted and sexual relationship is a far more weighty and consequential matter. Two of these three recommended rites specifically adapt existing marriage services ”” one from The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, 1979, and the other from A New Zealand Prayer Book. The third service is the Diocese of New Westminster’s custom-designed “Rite for the Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Covenants.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

TLC: Traditional Anglican Communion Petitions Rome for Union

The College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) recently petitioned for “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Roman Catholic Church recently.

The appeal for union was debated during a meeting of bishops in Portsmouth, England during the first week of October. It was delivered in a letter, which was signed by all the bishops present. The letter was delivered personally to the Holy See by the Most Rev. John Hepworth, Primate of TAC, and two other bishops selected by the college.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Church in Mt. Lebanon dismissed from local presbytery

Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church was dismissed from the Pittsburgh Presbytery yesterday so it could join a more conservative denomination — the first of what could be several votes over divisive theological and ecclesiastical questions.

The dismissal was the culmination of six months of discussions precipitated by the Mt. Lebanon church’s overwhelming vote in April to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The vote by the presbytery’s clergy and elders was 174 for dismissal and 73 against, with two abstentions.

The action takes effect immediately.

According to the settlement between the presbytery and the 400-member church, Beverly Heights will keep its building and land — together valued at more than $1 million — and the rights to its name.

In exchange, it will pay the presbytery $250,000 over 10 years and forfeit $46,655 in a trust account.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian