05 February 2007

I'm No Oceanographer, But . . .

. . . of the making of false dichotomies there is, it seems, no end. The latest from, ahem, Katherine Jefferts Schori:

Indeed, asked about her critics, Jefferts Schori doesn't blink. She leans in, drops her voice even lower and cuts to the chase.

She sees two strands of faith: One is "most concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent." But the other is "the more gracious strand," says the bishop who dresses like a sunrise.

It "is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward.

"God became human in order that we may become divine. That's our task."

Jesus on the cross for me and for you - not very gracious, was it? Here's the whole thing from USA Today.
And here is John the Baptist, and here is Jesus. And as to some supposed tension between a robust theology of atonement (as, for instance, enshrined in the traditional Anglican eucharistic liturgy) and KJS's "more gracious" way, here again is Jesus and, for good measure, here is St. John.

And, as it happens, S.M. Hutchens has an unrelated but completely relevant rumination of the theological disasters that come by elevating one truth at the expense of another; because it is so apposite, I'll quote it in full (emphasis mine):

I gave the last word in my dissertation to G. K. Chesterton. Part of the borrowed inscription was: “The ordinary man . . . has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them.” I have always believed this; one cannot believe the Bible otherwise, nor can he be a Christian, for our faith is built upon the ultimate contradiction: the God-Man, and many others besides. But churches and theological schools, as John Williamson Nevin observed long ago, are not founded or maintained by ordinary men, but by Great Ones, who make their ways and their names in the world by emphasizing one truth at the expense of others, enthralling lesser men by giving them many infallible proofs that the truth upon which they stand apart from others is indubitably true.

Believing this describes an actual state of affairs, one’s view of the world of theological letters, including, and perhaps most especially, the intentionally conservative, is radically changed, those worlds becoming filled to the brink with sophism and superfluity, a great, long chronicle of wasted time in which for every true word that is spoken, ten false or useless ones are, where one word from a true master, when finally heard, will overrule a lifetime of deep, expert lucubration. How many oceans of ink have been spilled, how many shelves have been filled, how many sects and parties have taken their rise, how many reputations for deep scholarship and wisdom have been made among the intelligent and ambitious, because they have taken extra-ordinary measures to avoid taking two truths from the Holy Tradition that seem to contradict each other, and the contradiction along with them--avoiding the Mystery, the doxology, and most particularly, the fear of God that comes when we step into the realm where we no longer have the mastery of him?



Blogger Thunder Jones said...

While the language of less graciousness was certainly a horribly deficient view of atonement, I think she may have been (poorly) pointing towards the ol' Abelard or Anselm debate which has genuine merit.

I'm getting sick of feeling the need to clarify the PB's akward theological statements. I hope that my renarration is the intent, otherwise...

I'd rather not consider otherwise.

05 February, 2007 10:45  
Blogger Karen B. said...

Thunder, I appreciate your honesty. I've seen quite a few others (like Joe at Canterbury Trail blog) beginning to express similar concerns about the need to constantly "renarrate" what the PB says.

It is very worrying that when given chances to clarify her statements or go deeper (prime example the ADG interview) she seems to pretty much repeat the same shallow statements while lamenting she was misunderstood. (I'm thinking here of both the John 14:6 flap, as well as her comments to the NYT re: Episcopalians, education and birthrates.)

It is possible to take her remarks "renarrate them" and fit them into an orthodox Christian theology or worldview, but generally it means having to take her remarks out of context and twist them or elaborate on them in a way she has never done. I'm all for believing the best about someone, but it is getting very hard for many of us to continue believing that +Schori's theology is any deeper or more orthodox than what we are seeing repeated over and over again in these interviews.

She claims to be simplifying and despiritualizing her remarks for the sake of the world. Ok, there's a time for that. But right now she urgently needs to speak as a bishop to the Church and to tell other Christians about what she believes or doesn't believe. Otherwise many if not most evangelical / traditionalist Anglicans I know are going to assume the worst. She keeps giving us cause.

05 February, 2007 12:52  
Blogger PSA+ said...

Stars in your crown, Thunder, for your attempts always to find the most positive way of understanding the PB's remarks. It is discouraging, as you and Karen both note, that rather taking opportunities to clarify and/or deepen, she generally only provides more grist for the Thunder Jones Charitable Renarration Mill.

I think a real factor here is, by the way, that she is simply the recipient of a poor theological education - for which she is not to be blamed.

05 February, 2007 15:08  

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