Monday, February 27, 2006

Will You Walk Away?

Late this afternoon as I was browsing some blogs, I found this post on Brian’s site, which led me to this article and discussion on titusonenine . After reading 44 responses, I felt moved to respond. This is not something I do frequently on titusonenine. While discussions there tend to reflect more thought and reflection and listening than most sites coming from the “reasserter” or “traditional” side of Anglican arguments, it is only the best of a bad lot. Rather than add to the fire, and open myself to those responses, I tend to simply click away, with an intellectual shake of the head. However, today I responded. My response is as follows.


So much of this saddens me. How shall we imagine finding common ground if we cannot even find “shared space?”

I grew up in a culture where the most common standard for Biblical interpretation was “literally true, verbally inspired, inerrant and infallible.” Now, that goes quite a way beyond “containing all things necessary to salvation.” In that light, it is not simply my opportunity, it is my responsibility to live with Scripture to discern what is necessary to salvation, and what is not.

Will you walk away from me because of how I understand Scripture? Certainly, I have reappraised some parts of Scripture. I do not hesitate to wear shirts of a blended fabric. And I am part of a long tradition of reappraisal in big things and little. I am reasonably certain I have ancestors who plowed their fields with mules. I am reasonably certain I have ancestors who owned slaves. I believe God created (and continues to create), but I don’t believe it happened in six 24-hour days. I am heir to the saints who reappraised the prophecies of the Old Covenant and recognized in them the things pertaining to Christ. I have been doing this all along, making no pretence. Will you walk away from me now?

I say with conviction the Nicene and Apostles Creeds. I affirm the Baptismal Covenant, and seek to live it out to the best of my ability. I believe in and preach the full divinity and full humanity of Christ, and believe that he is still living and present, in the Spirit, in and through the Church, and in the Sacraments. Will you walk away from me, claiming that this issue, this understanding of these portions of Scripture, negate all of that?

Again, how can we speak of common ground when we cannot imagine shared space? I have been with you on the path all this time, claiming and proclaiming the faith, and appraising and reappraising in light of Christ the word as received in Scripture. I have not changed. Will you walk away from me now, and then blame it on me?


I don’t know whether this will bring a direct response. It has not as of the time of this posting, but only time will tell. And as for the possibilities that we might reconcile, that we might still “walk together:” well, only time will tell about that, too.

ADDENDUM: I have received a comment from Kendall of titusonenine that confronted me and called for clarification of the phrase, "best of a bad lot." I have responded to him directly by email, but in the interest of clarity have included it as a further comment to this post.

5 comments:

Bill said...

Marshall,
This eloquent response is probably one of the reasons you're a priest and I'm not. I tend to get too hot-headed. I love to bring the grace and peace of God to those who are open to it, but I have so little patience with those who seem to be turning their back on it. And, of all people, I should know they're the ones who are most in need of it.
BTW, they've talked me into becoming a volunteer chaplain here at the hospital. After a CPE-like experience, I'll be on call one night a week so the regular chaplains can get a good night's sleep.

kendall said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and post to the blog.

I am sorry to read your comment about the "best of the bad lot" but that kind of harsh judgment is alas part of the polarized atmosphere in which we find ourselves. Since you merely make it without back it up by saying what you mean I do not think it helps things, nor do I think it lends itself to the very creating of space you say you seek.

Marshall said...

Kendall:

Thank you for looking back at my blog, "Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside." I did want to respond to your comment, and as courteously as you responded on my site.

I do appreciate you looking at my comments, both in the context of your blog and in mine. You know, I think my comments were intemperate, and I apologize. I don't think my site really gets enough traffic to create any stir, but I must consider whether editing my comment both for courtesy and clarity might be helpful.

In all this discussion I see, and I imagine you see, sites that are largely filled with doctrinaire, "Good riddance to bad rubbish" comments. Those sites are from both sides. I noted on your own page of comments on comments that you've seen this problem. I think largely it is a "bad lot," because those sites on the whole deny that "the other" has any place, not only in the argument, but also in the Body of Christ. While I'm not a frequent poster beyond my own blog, I have most commonly called for precisely that recognition: that even if we "walk apart," and regardless of who changed direction, we continue to be siblings for whom Christ died, and members of the (admittedly disparate) Body. Since I'm on the "reappraiser" end of the discussion, I have said it consistently and frequently to other "reappraisers."

We have shared [elsewhere] that we are moved by the writings of Miroslav Volf. I do believe I am still called to pursue reconciliation, even at cost. I find myself sadder and sadder that there seem so few voices that see that as worthwhile, much less possible. That is the source of my question about finding "shared space," even if not "common ground." It is out of that growing sense of sadness and frustration (and perhaps reflecting inappropriately other stresses) that I used the intemperate phrase, "best of a bad lot."

Again, thanks for responding and for your confrontation.

Marshall said...

Kendall:

To be even more clear: from my reading of titusonenine you and most of your posters are committed to theological reflection and respect even for those with whom they disagree. This is also demonstrated by your "Comment on comments" page. Had titusonenine not been different, I would not have acknowledged it as "best," and probably wouldn't have made any distinction at all.

Connie said...

I so appreciate your comments here, Marshall, and could heartily endorse much of what you say. (I also appreciate your encouraging comment on my blog.)I find myself continually challenged to stay in (peaceful) conversation with Christians of various denominations who might like to write me off as un-Christian because of my views on the inclusion of GLBT people in the church. I don't think any of us can afford to write off those who disagree with us. God's peace, Connie