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On the Things that have Passed Away and the Things that Have Not

Posted by Remy on April 30, 2009

Amongst the charges that I bandy about from time to time is the charge that the Romanist and Constantinist view of the church, first class Christians and second class Christians, is part of the old world that has since passed away.

The idea that the body of Christ is divided seems difficult to maintain, particularly with that Greek Testament throwing all sorts of wrenches into such thinking. The response from my friends who have invested in these things tends to avoid a Biblical discussion, but I did recently have this thrown back at me:

I’m sure your church doesn’t keep archaic rules about who can serve the Lord’s Supper, who can preach, who can be an elder, and I’m sure women play large liturgical roles in your service, reading the Scriptures and so forth. It’s not like there are degrees of closeness between man and God anymore. It’s not like men can do things in the church that women can’t, because that means there’s gradations. The curtain is torn! We’re all priests! We’re all the same!

Because I don’t want the force of my argument deflected by such flim-flam, but because I can see how someone might use this to avoid the potency of my comments I thought I’d have a go at it.

First, intentional or not, the above response assumes that there is a division between God and women. I assume this is just a confusion in the response and not necessarily an affirmation that women do not have access to the Most High God. My comments on the access to Jesus that comes in the New Covenant has no bearing on liturgical practice. In the Old Covenant there was a division between Israel and the rest of the Fearers of Yahweh, who were not allowed full access to Him. In the New Covenant access to Jesus is not restricted by veils of separation. There are no longer second class citizens in Christ Jesus. This has nothing to do with women having or not having access to the risen Lord.

Secondly, I honestly don’t know of any rules governing who can serve the Lord’s Supper if by “serve” it is meant “hand out”. Anyone at all can hand out the Lord’s Supper.

If “serve” here means “officiate” the Supper there are indeed requirements for who can be in charge of the covenant renewal service and among them is the requirement that the representative of Christ Jesus must be male, but this has no bearing over whether or not women have full access to Jesus. If Romanists or Constantians believe that their gender give them greater access to Jesus then their wickedness is greater than I imagined. More likely is that the comment incorporated an unintended vagueness.

So while the New Covenant eradicated the divisions of access it does not change the liturgical roles for men and women. Romanists and Constantians and any Protestant church that imitates them in a refusal to feed the whole body of Christ is grasping after the old covenant. Jesus says to feed His sheep and there is no hiding behind the temple of Rome, the temple of the Hagia Sophia, or the temple of Wittenberg.

In the future I plan to talk more about the “Newness” of the new covenant. But for now, my point is that the liturgical roles of men and women are not done away with in the new covenant, they are creational and reaffirmed in the new covenant. The division within the worshipers of Jesus, however, has passed away in the new world, all those is in Christ have full access to Him.

43 Responses to “On the Things that have Passed Away and the Things that Have Not”

  1. Josh said

    I read this and felt appropriately chastised for “avoiding Biblical discussion.” Thanks, brother.

  2. Remy said

    Just pointing out a fact, sir. You don’t have to engage me with Scripture if you chose not to. But I have offered several challenges to which you haven’t responded to exegetically. Again, you don’t have to, but I don’t see why I can’t point it out.

    Also, I wrote this before you mentioned that you were no longer interested in discussing this with me. This is not an attempt to drag you back into the conversation if you don’t want to be here.

  3. kyriosity said

    If women have all the same roles, then everybody has less access to Jesus, because they can’t properly represent Him to the Church in those roles.

  4. joshgibbs said

    Remy,

    No, I want to be here. I’d like to be the repository for any and all complaints and accusations you have to make against the Orthodox church.

    Let me first commend you for not calling the Orthodox church “the Orthodox church.” It’s good to call the Orthodox church “the Constantinian church” as you do because it reminds Orthodox christians of Constantine, who is become a largely troublesome figure for some of us. It’s good to remind us, and me specifically, that I don’t have all the answers and that I have not come unto a church that has no embarassing history. It’s also a good reminder that I am not at liberty to simply abandon any teaching of the Church at will, even if that teaching causes me grief.

    You’re doing good, Remy. Keep it coming.

  5. Matt Yonke said

    Let’s try a fresh tack. There are two kinds of baptized Christians. Baptized Christians worthy to receive the Eucharist and baptized Christians unworthy to receive the Eucharist. St. Paul’s distinction, of course, not mine.

    Unlike the Old Covenant, where the God Fearers could never enter into the fullness of God’s presence, no matter what they did, both worthy and unworthy baptized Christians CAN receive the Eucharist, and thus the fullness of God’s presence. All they need do is become worthy.

    Becoming worthy, by the oldest Christian standards and those maintained by the vast majority of every Christian who ever breathed (and, incidentally, Sacred Scripture) involves renouncing one’s heresies and confessing one’s sins in order to receive the Eucharist.

    As you refuse to renounce your heresies and believe the voice of Christ in the Church, you maintain your own unworthiness. No one keeps you out but you.

  6. Valerie,

    I’m not sure that works. If there were a particular liturgical role for women that was not open to men, you point would stand. But as it is, at least by office structure, there is the one office for men, and the common office for men and women. Women have nothing corresponding to the pastorate, but feminine. Which at least seems odd.

    Not that I’m arguing for women priests. But there isn’t a role for women like there is for men. I personally think this is because Christ has ascended, but the Church has not yet, and so we can have vicars of Christ, but not vicars of the Church.

  7. Remy said

    I appreciate you, Gibbs.

    Yonke, that distinction is not from St. Paul. Sounds like the Accuser to me. Try again.

    Petersen, the office of Deaconess is not open to men.

  8. Matt Yonke said

    Petersen,

    Well, there is motherhood, both spiritual and physical, which is a true vocation and open only to women. What’s more, it’s a reflection of Our Lady, who is ascended just as her Son.

    Remy,

    St. Paul warns us (us baptized Christians, that is) not to receive the Eucharist unworthily. That means there are Christians who, if they are unworthy, ought not to receive the Eucharist.

    Fill me in on where the Deceiver rears his ugly head here.

  9. Remy said

    That is certainly not what St. Paul means. Try again.

  10. Matt Yonke said

    Ok, let it be noted that I swallowed a whole postful of snark to ask the reasonable question, Why do you roundly deny and rule out without explanation my (and historic Christianity’s) understanding of Paul’s discussion of worthiness?

    Should the baptized Christians who are making themselves sick and dragging themselves to their graves by their unworthy reception continue to receive unworthily? Or should they, by the works of repentance, move themselves from the class of unworthy baptized Christian to the class of worthy baptized Christian?

  11. Matt,

    Regarding physical motherhood: Yes, and physical fatherhood is open to men and not to women. And Jesus is ascended. But the question isn’t whether men and women naturally (in the Church–whatever that means) have equal roles, but whether they have equal roles liturgically. In the Church as Church.

    Regarding spiritual motherhood: Yes, but they hide away, and aren’t ordained in any way. There isn’t anything public. Women can’t have a liturgical role as mothers the way men can as fathers.

    Regarding the Assumption of the Blessed Theotokos: I’m pretty sure you missed my point–I’m trying to explain why there is an all male priesthood. But here we go anyway. I’m not sure that the Theotokos is ascended just as her Son. She is assumed, but I think most theologians would say that the assumption is different from the Ascension.[1]

    I think that though the Theotokos is the epiphany or theophany of the Holy Spirit[1] and is the face or soul of the Church, and in some sense is the Church[2], yet in a very real sense, she is less than her Son, and is who she is, in and through the Church, who is the true, complete, and Divine feminine, for whom Christ longs as for streams of living water. And though Mary’s assumption and resurrection is a foretaste of the coming Ascension of the Church, I don’t think that Mary’s assumption is sufficient grounds for a female priesthood. In glory female priests–which all women, including, in particular the Theotokos, will be–we be regents of the Church, not of the Theotokos. Her Son commissioned priests before He ascended, but the Church did not.

    Or at the very least, we could say that though perhaps the Theotokos, as the face and will of the Church would have had authority to commission priests in her image, she did not. And probably she did not because that would be to act as Church before the Church had Ascended. And therefore there are no priests in her image–that is, in the image of the Church.

    _____
    [1] See for instance S. Bulgakov Sophia the Wisdom of God “Evidently, it is necessary to avoid a dogmatic identification of the assumption and the Ascension. Indeed, they must be distinguished, and even rigorously contrasted. Christ’s Ascension and return to the bosom of the Holy Trinity is connected with his descent from heaven to be made human. It betokens the end of the kenosis of God the Son. The assumption of the Mother of God, on the other hand, is a notable, even an extreme instance of the glorification of a creature, deified and sharing in the lofe of God, by participation. It by no means denotes a penetration into the Holy Trinity, which is metaphysically beyond the reach of any creature…” p. 119
    [2] “Filius incarnatus est: Jesus Christus. Spiritus Sanctus quasi incarnatus est: Immaculata.” St. Maximilian Kolbe, quoted in (the rather awful book–though the quotes from the saint seem very good) The Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: the Marian Teachings of Father Kolbe p. 63. And more sensible to me “She [the Theotokos] is, in personal form, the human likeness of the Holy Ghost. Through her, with her human form become entirely transparent to the Holy Ghost, we have a manifestation and, as it were, a personal revelation of him.” Sergei Bulgakov Sophia the Wisdom of God p. 122.
    [3] Thus St. Francis’s prayer “Hail O Lady, Holy Queen, Mary holy Mother of God, who are the Virgin made Church…”

  12. Remy,

    I’m not sure there is an office of deaconess per se. I think there is the one office of deacon, which is divided between deaconess and deacon proper. But the highest office is exclusively male, and has no female counterpart. Which needs explanation.

  13. Remy said

    Yonke, I know that your assumption is that Rome cannot possibly be wrong and that no verse is too big to be put sub cathedra, but I’m really quite astounded that you can read that passage and come away thinking that the eating is the problem. It’s a great passage, I encourage you to go at it again and this time watch out for the reason St. Paul gives for their damnation.

    Petersen, your view of office is very modern. The reason St. Paul and others have to keep telling us that the position of the elder is worthy of honor is because it is slaves work. Hence the collars.

  14. Remy,

    I know “highest” was a poor word. But I couldn’t think of a better one. I think it’s acceptable if we remember that “whoever would be the greatest must be the servant of all.” And my point still stands that in Church structure, there is the office for men, and no corresponding office for women. You only have male readers. Do you have women do something that corresponds to reading, but is feminine? You only have male pastors. Do you do something that corresponds to pastor, but is feminine? We aren’t, in Church, given a dance with male parts and female parts, we are given male parts, and no corresponding female parts.

    Again, I think you’re right to only have male readers etc. But 1) it isn’t quite true that in the Church we specific roles for men and women. We only have roles for men. And 2) this is really odd. It would seem that women should be able to represent Christ to the Church as women. There is something incomplete about the fact that women cannot officially represent Christ to the Church, as women. And this distinction and even lowering of women needs explanation.

    My explanation is that the pastorate is a this world ordinance, it too is destined to perish with use. Pastors are to shepherd and father the baptized to help them reach full maturity. But because the pastorate is a this-world ordinance, is part of the “not yet” of the New Covenant, it is perhaps sensible that in the pastorate there is male and female. The pastorate is Jewish.

    But still, why only men? So it’s this world. Why would that affect whether it is exclusively male? The answer I think is that pastors are stewards of the king, they are vicars of Christ. Female pastors would be stewards too, vicars of the Queen, the Church. But the Church has not yet resurrected, and so she could not commission stewards.

    Baptism is the true priesthood, and unlike in the Old Covenant, both men and women are baptized. So though in the pastorate there is male and female, yet in Christ, there is no male nor female, for all are one in Christ. As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

  15. Remy said

    I think the tension is resolved in seeing the full dance. Men initiate, women glorify. Heaven is the model for earth. The Lord serves us, then we serve the world. These are two steps of one dance. In the world we’ve made the mistake of thinking that even here men are leaders, but women have the most important role in the world.

    Just speaking this way reveals the shortcomings of the word “role”. Men only represent Christ, so strictly speaking men don’t have a role in liturgical renewal, Christ is doing the service that the presbyter represents, but men do have a role in the world, of responding to the Lord’s service. So both men and women have a role outside of the covenant renewal service, men can represent the role of Christ, but we shouldn’t be speaking of men “having” this role.

  16. I think the question of “having” the role as opposed to representing the role is just terminological. It’s of course important, but I agree with you that men don’t act that role as themselves, but rather act that role. The Pr. Sumpter now represents Christ in the same sort of way as he once represented Bottom.

    But I think you’re a little simplistic about the male and female steps in the dance. In, for instance, Perelandra, Tor tells Tinidril that in one of his ideas initiated from her, and he has born it. Sex, in a certain sense, is initiated by the woman. And though the Incarnation happened at God’s initiation, in a very real sense, given the Incarnation, the Church initiates, and Christ responds. At least till he’s old enough to leave his mother. Not that there aren’t different steps. But sometimes the steps call for the woman to lead and the man to follow.

    The Lord serves us, and then we serve the Lord. We serve the Lord and then the Lord serves us. In Christ, not only is the woman from the man, but the Man from the Woman.

    And so the question remains, if the pastor is Christ as an actor can be Antonio, why does no actor play the Church? We have no feminine initiation towards us in Church. We are, as it were, orphans without a mother.

    And also, the priest doesn’t only represent Christ to the church, but also the Church to Christ.

  17. A specific example of a the Church initiating and a Christ glorifying:

    And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

    Notice that Jesus is merely there, the Theotokos initiates by bring the problem to him, when he refuses to solve it, she, like Israel, refuses to let him go. And he replies by making mere water glorified water–water in excelsis. Moreover, this was a manifestation of Jesus glory, which I don’t think can here mean a manifestation of the Theotokos or the Church, but of his own glory. Also, this miracle is the beginning of Christ’s ministry. At the beginning, his time had not yet come. Now it has. So even the public ministry of Jesus came at the initiation of a woman.

    So why, if women initiate, and indeed initiated Christ–I could also point to the presentation in the temple bringing about Christ remaining in Jerusalem, which is a type of the Crucifixion–why isn’t there any female initiation in the Church? Who plays the role of the Theotokos? Who plays the role of the Church?

  18. Matt Yonke said

    Remy,

    I think the exhortation to discern the Lord’s Body has at least as much to do with the recognition of Christ’s presence in the Sacrament as it does with recognizing Christ’s Body in your neighbor, but both are certainly true.

    Regardless, there are two classes of baptized Christians and you’ve yet to respond to this. There are baptized Christians who may worthily partake of the Eucharist and there are baptized Christians who may not, at least until they deal with their sins.

    This is indeed a two-tiered understanding of the Body of Christ, but it’s St. Paul’s.

    Leave my exegesis aside for a minute and explain to me how there are not two groups of baptized Christians when it comes to receiving the Eucharist.

  19. Remy,

    I think Matt’s right that you’re kinda avoiding his questions. You admitted in a previous thread that many people ought to be excommunicated, but instead receive unworthily, to their own condemnation. You may disagree over how people should be kept from the table (though I doubt it, you could receive at just about any Catholic Church if you wanted to, at least at any Roman Catholic Church), and you, of course, disagree over who should refrain from partaking, but you both believe that some people need to change in some way before they receive communion.

  20. Remy said

    Yonke, you keep dragging modifiers the wrong way. It isn’t worthy and unworthy Christians, it is worthy and unworthy eating. To exegete the passage the way you’re doing would mean that there are two types of Christians: those that do not sin and those that are missing a hand.

    The point is to eat.

    As for what “discerning the Body” means, from the context it means discerning those in Christ. I agree that we ought to understand Christ’s presence at the Supper, but even Memorialists do that (thin and flimsy their understanding might be), but again it isn’t their table. Jesus doesn’t withhold himself just because His people don’t get the math right.

    I encourage you to read the passage again. There is nothing about “not eating” and everything about eating. St. Paul mentions that there are those who hog the Supper, there are those who go hungry. This is me going: “Hmmm…”

    Petersen, Yes, I mentioned that there are some who are to be excommunicated. And everything I’ve ever said about it shows that this situation is lightyears from what Rome and others like them do when they ban the supper for blueprint reasons.

    We were both to wound up in ourselves to take too much note of Steven’s comment (in the previous thread) when he mentioned that doctrinal excommunication would be extremely rare. But this is what was behind my statement that whatever awful heretic joining would need to join and then break his vow to uphold the ministry of the church before he could be excommunicated.

  21. Remy,

    It may be that your position is less legalistic than the Roman one. But it seems that that legalism/lack of legalism is on the level of who you consider unworthy, or for what reasons you consider them unworthy, not whether people should be considered unworthy. It may be that doctrinal excommunications are uncommon, but that’s irrelevant here. You are representing your disagreement with Matt as if it were a disagreement over whether people can be unworthy, but it seems to be a disagreement over who is unworthy. He thinks someone who denies the Real Presence is unworthy. You think Don Juan is unworthy. And frankly, I’m having a little trouble understanding why you can’t just go along with him. Your disagreement is elsewhere.

    I think your point about the difference between the person who receives being unworthy and the reception by the person being unworthy is probably valid, but it seems in this context to be just niggling. Perhaps it’s a needed clarification, but it isn’t anything like a contradiction of Matt’s position.

    Though regarding Steven’s comment: I did respond to it in the previous thread. But again, it’s off topic here.

  22. Remy said

    I’m not sure what you mean by “legalistic” here. I haven’t been arguing that people can’t eat unworthily.

  23. mattyonke said

    Should the unworthy then eat?

  24. Remy,

    You have to be joking. You acted like Matt was reading I Corinthians completely irresponsibly simply because he said the unworthiness is in the reception by the person, rather than in the person who receives? Even granted that’s a legitimate distinction, which it may be, but equally may be only linguistic, it seems to be entirely aside from the point.

    Stop being an ass.

    And let me rephrase Matt’s question in a way that is acceptable to you:

    Should those whose reception be unworthy were they to receive receive?

    I suppose there is more clarity in periphrastic constructions.

  25. No, that should be “should those whose reception would be unworthy were they to receive receive.”

    I think you are just fascinated by the English Subjunctive, and want to see sentences in it. Is that a characteristic clause? Probably, given the use of the subjunctive “would be…were”. Wouldn’t it just be easier–and better English–to just say “Should the unworthy then eat”?

  26. Regarding legalism:

    You said “And everything I’ve ever said about it shows that this situation is lightyears from what Rome and others like them do when they ban the supper for blueprint reasons.”

    I believe in previous threads you have described what you are here calling “blueprint reasons” “blueprint hyperventilating and phylactery histrionics.” Phylactery histrionics is a clear reference to Matthew 23:5 “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries.” Perhaps you have some other secret name for what Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for that you won’t tell us, but most people would say he is rebuking them for legalism. Or perhaps you aren’t using a hendiadys and actually would distinguish between “blueprint hyperventilating” and “phylactery histrionics”–though even there, most people would call “blueprint hyperventilating” and even “blueprint reasons” legalism.

    Though maybe since I haven’t learned your secret code, you don’t have to hear me. Did you know what I was talking about?

    Also, what does the verse earlier to the one you alluded to say? Is it not “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” How, if you demand that we speak your secret code, and won’t even tell us the code, are you not binding burdens, and refusing to move them with one of your fingers?

  27. Remy said

    Petersen, deep breaths. You’ve lost me again.

    Yonke,
    Historically Christians have always believed that those saved are unworthy. I’m entirely unaware of a category of people who deserve salvation. Christ didn’t come for the worthy, but for the unworthy. Should the unworthy eat? Yes, for unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood there is no life in them.

  28. Remy,

    You’re playing word games with Matt. He’s trying to make a point based on the fact that sometimes reception isn’t good. Sometimes it brings death and destruction–as you yourself have admitted.

    But he doesn’t have the lingo quite down, and so you keep refusing to answer his questions, and not even providing him with the key to cracking your code.

    As I understand it, you are saying that we are all unworthy, and we receive because we are unworthy. And that the problem with unworthy reception isn’t that the one who receives is unworthy, but that reception is. Sure. I don’t even think Yonke would disagree. I’m relatively sure Pope Benedict doesn’t disagree.

    Matt, on the other hand, is making a natural, and perhaps merely linguistic switch between someone who deliberately does not confess sins, someone who were he to partake would be partaking to his own destruction to someone unworthy to partake. There is a difference between these two ways of expressing the fact that for some people reception is to their own destruction, but at least one difference is that Matt’s is much better English. It may be worse theology, but it is better English, and thus I’m not entirely convinced that your way is not just obfuscated.

    But anyway, your objections to Matt are really aside the point. If Matt rephrased his question as “there are some people for whom reception is to their destruction” would you be able to answer his question? If so, stop playing games, and answer his question. Perhaps the linguistic point is important, if so, make it, and answer Matt’s question. Or at the very least, make the linguistic point, rather than making Matt guess at it, and refusing to talk till he guesses your code.

    Regarding legalistic: It was a reference to your claim that the Catholic position is Pharisaic. Stop jumping on trivialities like that.

  29. mattyonke said

    Remy,

    Petersen’s got a point. We both know how the other is using terms here. It makes the discussion difficult when you toy around with semantics so much.

    I grant completely your point that we are all unworthy of the gifts of salvation. But St. Paul is crystal clear on this. There existed in the Church of Corinth people who were receiving the Eucharist unto their salvation and people who were receiving the Eucharist unto their destruction.

    The people who were receiving unto their destruction were doing so because they persisted in sin.

    These people should have done one of two things:

    Do the works of repentance and subsequently partake of the Eucharist unto their salvation
    Or
    Not partake of the Eucharist so as not to further their damnation

    If this is the case, and I don’t see how there could be any other reading of the passage, there exist two classes of Christians. Those who should partake of the Eucharist and those who should repent before they do.

    Let’s have some straight talk on this, Remy. I’m not advocating some wacky Romanist position. This is Christian doctrine plain and simple.

  30. Remy said

    Petersen,
    I don’t understand how I can be playing word games when you said that his point is something I’ve already admitted and in fact never denied. He keeps saying “unworthy Christians” and I kept repeating that’s not what St. Paul said, even after I said that it is unworthy eating, he repeated his question again saying unworthy Christians. I merely responded to what he asked. I think perhaps what you perceive as coyness is actually just fatigue.

    Those comments on blueprints were aimed at the way they do the math of the Real Presence. To get huffy about that is Pharisaic. The “phylactery histrionics” was actually aimed at the other tradition. I believe it was when Josh said that we confessed the wrong creed, meaning we added the filioque. That again, to me, would be phylactic histrionics to hissyfit over one word. But I would agree that those things are trivial.

    Yonke,
    If by “toying around with semantics” you mean “continue to deny the invented category of worthy Christians and unworthy Christians” I’m more than pleased to continue to do that.

    Really, the problem we keep having is that I’m taking you at face value. It seems to me that you have a category in your head of people who are worthy of Christ and people who are not. I think well of you so I presume that you do not mean that, but I don’t want to get into a contest of “this is what you must mean” I don’t think I’d be very good at it.

    To address some of your specific comments I can agree to a point.

    “The people who were receiving unto their destruction were doing so because they persisted in sin.”

    Not just sin, but a specific sin.

    And the only response to this specific sin is to repent and eat worthily. St. Paul describes these people as despising the church of God when they do not discern the body. After saying those that eat unworthily are eating and drinking damnation he tells them what to do: “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

    So this judgment is a chastening of the Lord that they should not be condemned with the world. He then says in the very next verse, “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat…” I’m still looking for these two classes of Christians.

    Wacky Romanist position would be one thing, but for you to come at me with a view that some dippy Protestants hold is a little surprising. Do you really want to side with those guys?

  31. If someone agreed with me, but refused to enumerate his position, and indeed pretended he disagreed with me, I’d call it playing word games.

    But it does seem, you’re kinda giving Matt a straight answer now, rather than ducking and running, and pretending to be a sea god. I know you are able to give cogent replies, as your most recent reply to Josh was very cogent and to the point. No obscure quibbling over terminology there.

    Yeah, I guess you’re right it was the other communion. But as the same stock-phrase was used, it seems that the same word would describe both.

    Since it was me, a Protestant, who quite innocently said that the Orthodox do have a point regarding the Creed, I’ll also respond to the claim that the fact that it is only one word means they are being Pharisaical.

    Say I were to start confessing homoiousias. I’d imagine that you and nearly every Christian alive would call me a heretic, and rebuke me for being out of conformity with the Creed. But I didn’t even change one word, only letter. The fact that it is just one word is materially irrelevant.

    And moreover, I imagine that if the Pope were to decide that instead of saying Christ was born of the Virgin Mary we should confess the original and say Christ was born of the Ever-Virgin Mary, and excommunicating everyone who wouldn’t confess the Creed in its “true” form, suddenly the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity would gain a new prominence. It would hardly be legalistic for someone to refuse communion to those who confess the Pope’s creed. (Even if ultimately you said he was wrong to refuse the communion.)

    And frankly, I’m not sure why you can’t just say “you know the Orthodox have a point here. I don’t think it’s conclusive, but it is a point.”

    It seems that Josh’s point about which heresies you accept is relevant. When your opponent is modern, or a heretic in some way, you have no problem quoting the authority to refute them. But when you are out of line with tradition, you dismiss it with a wave of the hand. It does rather seem that you are slow to listen.

  32. Remy said

    Your use of “refused” and “ducking and running” is typical Petersen motivation hunting. I said it was fatigue, if that isn’t enough you may ask me if there was more to my terseness than that. I would be happy to reply.

    Neither have I pretended to have a disagreement with my brother. He seems to have a category of Worthy and Unworthy Christians which I do not have.

    Also, I don’t think of Pharisaical as the same as Heretical. Do you?

    I’ve put the topic of Tradition on the list of things to address, but for now I’ll just say that my invocation of things like Nicea or Marcionism are shorthand and handles for the discussion, not blind invocations to authority.

  33. Remy,

    I’m not sure where I said “refuse”, except with respect to refusing communion. Regarding “ducking and running”, if I had said you were being evasive for such and such a reason, that would be motivation hunting. But I didn’t. I simply said you were being evasive. There may have been a myriad of reasons why you were dodging his questions. You may not have even realized that Matt was trying to put a question as directly as he could, and getting (from our perspective) screwball answers back. You may not have realized that you would say “no I’m not there, I’m over here” till he looked where he thought you had said you were, at which time you would say (from his perspective, and mine) “no, actually, I’m where you thought I was at first.” But of course, only till he looked back there. Again, you probably didn’t realize you were doing that.

    But “Typical Petersen motivation hunting” is just insulting. And actually, aside from being an insulting generalization, is motivation hunting.

    I have no idea where I said Pharisaical is the same as Heretical. The Orthodox say that Westerners are heretics for changing one word of the Creed, which you think is Pharisaical of them. But if I were to change not even word of the Creed, but one letter, it wouldn’t be Pharisaical to consider me a heretic. So the problem isn’t in the number of words changed, but in the content of that change. And then we have to listen to the Orthodox to determine whether or not there really is a large content change.

    We also have to consider the historic reasons for the split. The Pope excommunicated the Ecumenical Patriarch because he wouldn’t submit to Papal monarchy, and wouldn’t confess the original Creed with the filioque.

    Regarding your last paragraph, whatever motives you have for it, you are able to cite authorities, but when people cite them back to you they are dismissed out of hand.

  34. Remy said

    Whatever you say, Matthew.

    I’m glad that we agree that Pharisaical is different from Heretical.

    But don’t you think the way I cite the creeds or tradition is different from the way someone who believes that Tradition is inerrant might cite them?

  35. Remy,

    First, I’m not sure how you are reacting to my first paragraph, but take this one at face value. I wasn’t intending a sarcastic “you can claim you weren’t intending such and such, but look at the facts.” I meant simply that I have no idea why you were doing what you were doing. But what you were doing was frustrating. If it sounded otherwise, I’m sorry.

    Yeah, sure you cite the Creeds differently than someone who believes tradition is inerrent. But I’m not entirely sure you reply to the citation of Creeds and tradition differently than Evan Wilson does.

  36. Remy said

    I don’t know why you aren’t entirely sure at this point. I mean, I know I haven’t said anything at all on the subject but usually your powers of intuiting these things are dead on.

  37. When someone writes cryptically sometimes they get misunderstood. I’d appreciate it if, when I misunderstand you, you didn’t attack my character. And particularly, when I apologize, you didn’t turn it into an opportunity to mock me.

    Now maybe you can reply that I’m misreading you, and you’re just teasing me. If it’s assuming your motives (which I have not ever done!) to make necessary distinctions like that, then communication is impossible. Just be a man and say “sorry, I wasn’t trying to mock you, but I can see how you could take it that way.” Don’t expect me to be a god who can see your motives.

    Michael Spenser makes people put sarcasm in tags. Maybe you should put your sarcasm in tags, or at least not be upset when people can’t read your sarcasm.

  38. Remy said

    Terse yes, but cryptic not at all.

    If this were a one time misreading I could understand, but this is a regular occurrence with you. And you do this to everyone. It is time you seriously evaluate how you go about interacting with people’s words.

    And your words to me have been far more brutal than I have ever been to you.

    As for me, I think I will make it a policy that if you cannot be a more conscientious and charitable reader of others I will highlight your misreadings every time. I would rather you feel chagrined than mocked, but I would rather call you on it, than to simply ignore you and allow you to continue.

  39. If you have a problem with something I do, address it then and gently, and clearly. Rebuking someone for “what he always does” is unfair and uncharitable. Similarly, if you have a problem with some of what I said to you, bring it to my attention at the time, rather than being passive aggressive. If I misunderstand you, say “I didn’t mean X, but rather Y.” Don’t say “More of your usual motivation hunting.” The first is helpful, the second is insulting, unhelpful, and rude.

    In this thread for instance, I put a decent amount of time into a reply to you, but rather than listing–or at least rather than acting as if you had listened–you objected to the word “legalism” which carried rather little weight in my post, and was mostly used to make it clear that I wasn’t arguing you were wrong, but that you were arguing wrong. That my argument was that you were misrepresenting your position and Matt’s, rather than interacting with him. I used it as a gesture to you. “You may ultimately be correct, but I think if there is a problem, it’s here, not where you’re pointing.”

    The second half of your response was also entirely off topic. I had made a point of noting your objection to locating the worthiness in the one who receives, rather than in the reception itself, but had said that it probably wasn’t the issue Matt was addressing. You replied by telling me that you didn’t object to locating unworthiness in the reception. As if I had not just said you didn’t.

    To the bulk of my post you did not reply at all. The first half of your response was to a filler word, the second, completely off-topic.

  40. Remy said

    “but had said that it probably wasn’t the issue Matt was addressing.”

    This is the sort of thing that I would like you not to do. I don’t want to address the issue Matt “was probably addressing” I want to speak to what he says. When I do so I would not like you to come in afterward and say I’m “ducking and running” from his question. Let’s stick to what he says and what I say.

    But I’m happy to wipe the slate clean and try this again some time.

  41. Wait a minute:

    Now you’re not being clear. First you said I impute motives. Then you said I regularly misread people. Now you say that you would rather I not claim you had gotten stuck on a side point and were missing Matt’s main point. Which is it?

    By the time I said “ducking and running” I had three times received off the wall responses to trivialities and throw away words, and though I had three times reiterated my main point that you were missing the bulk of Matt’s argument, it was only after the third time, when Matt joined in, that you actually began to address his point.

  42. Remy said

    Good grief.

    The slate is clean. Let’s leave it at that.

  43. Ok.

    Sorry. I should have left it at the first half, if that.

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