Thursday, March 10, 2011

Episcopal Same-sex ceremonies: embrace chaos to impose uniformity

The Episcopal Church's Standing Liturgical Commission on Liturgy and Music has a document out about "Theological and Liturgical Principles" for ceremonies to affirm same-sex and, unless I'm missing something in the jumble of words, any other "household" arrangements that don't go with the Biblical and still-existing Prayer Book standards for Christian marriage.

What struck me on first read was the appeal to chaos in the "Liturgical Principles" on p. 2 (good luck making heads or tails of some of this):

"Recognizing the varying notions of what makes public prayer recognizably Anglican, the task group identified these qualities..."

"Options must be provided so that this action of the entire Church - this common prayer - does not degenerate into a generic rite."

So, there is lots of "variance" and there must be "options" so that "common prayer" is not "generic."

But there are some certainties beyond question, according to the "Theological Principles" on p. 1:

"...these commitments become a blessing to the wider community. Blessing covenantal relationships, including [NPA note: but not limited to] same-gender unions, thus belongs to the mission of the Church in its ongoing witness to the good news of God-in-Christ [sic] and the Christian hope of union with God."

So although we can't agree on much of anything or expect much in the way of coherent expression of our faith, we are damned sure that God-in-Christ requires everybody in the Church to provide liturgies for all "household covenantal relationships." You don't think that's uniformity? Try becoming an Episcopal deacon, priest or bishop today if you disagree with it. Try getting elected to lay office in your diocese or the national denominational stuff if you oppose this.

The Bible, needless to say, has no authority in the matter. The document comes up with an interesting replacement for the traditional Prayer Book teaching that "the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain all things necessary to salvation." Now, church practices need only

"resonate with Scripture" (p. 2)

We have no common resources or understandings to which we can appeal. So where's this come from?

I think the clue is the constant capitalization of "Church" throughout the document. It can't possibly mean "the universal church" because the vast majority of Christian bodies would never affirm this document. So it means that The Episcopal Church now makes claim to the "one, true Church" moniker. Really creepy.


David said...

I saw that "resonate with scripture" line as well and thought, well, if that's all it takes! These guidelines, like the decisions at GC that authorized them, are non-serious, non-theological, and a-historical. What a mess.

TLF+ said...

David, you're so right.

I really (and sadly) believe that the people drafting this stuff actually believe that they thought their way to their conclusions - which is obvious self-deception because they had a desired outcome and have been making up language to justify it.

The Archer of the Forest said...

What I found most interesting is that there is actually two sections to this document. There is the "Outline of Theological Principles" which was spawned from the second part, "Principles for Evaluating Liturgical Materials."

The original principles from the Gen Con resolution note that the reflection should resonate with scripture. But does the subsequent "Outline of Theological Principles actual say anything about scripture? Did you note that little bit was casually omitted?

In fact, in the five points of ” Renewing the Church’s Theological Reflection,” God is never mentioned as an active component within the covenant nor is Scripture or Tradition submitted as lens for reflection apparently. In fact, the terms Scripture, Tradition, and Jesus are completely not there in any way, shape, or form in the subsequent section.

If there is not grounding in some way of Scripture or Jesus, what makes this particularly Christian theological reflection?

The Underground Pewster said...

I thought they would at least have included David's love for Jonathon in there somewhere. Of course if they did that they might have to also include Mark 10.