The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Process and Persuasion

Perhaps it's my legal background coming to the fore again, but I really do think that many on the "reasserting" right do not have an adequate grasp on ecclesiology and, especially process. Let me take an example. In a discussion of the defecting bishop of San Joaquin's ire at TEC's recreation of a pastoral presence within the geographical boundaries of "his" diocese, several commenters took the position that even if TEC's action were consistent with the Church's canons, TEC's heresy had deprived it of the standing to invoke those canons--that "there is no violation when the faithful in a Diocese from the Bishop to the least of the laity appeal to orthodox groupings to support them in the battle against the errant and heretical ravening them or trying to do so."

This argument is, frankly, absurd. Process, such as the canons provide, is created to allow for an orderly determination as to the rights and wrongs of a contested issue. A party may be perfectly certain that he is in the right in a dispute, but that does not allow him to force his adversary to yield at gunpoint. When reasserters argue that TEC's "heresy"--that is, its effort to discern if the so-called "clobber passages" reflect the Holy Spirit or, like certain other passages are more reflective of the human understanding of those who received revelation and not revelation's kerygma--mean that TEC can properly be subverted, and that the canons that clergy who take this view swore to uphold can be set at naught, they are in the position of the litigant who uses force rather than submit to a judicial process. Such individuals assume that no view but their own is entitled to a dispute resolution process; they are right, and that is all that matters. Rights and process only attach for their side of the argument, and need only be respected when they choose to invoke them. Thus, any act they perform is justified. This argument is that advanced by those who care only for dominance, and not reason, discernment or fellowship. Those who advance it are, simply, outlaws.

1 comment:

Young fogey emeritus said...

As somebody sympathetic to the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin I'd say you don't even need this argument.

This matter is much simpler as I've written elsewhere. The Diocese of San Joaquin has set up shop in a country the Anglican Communion has assigned to the Episcopal Church. So as long as both TEC and the Southern Cone are still in the Communion, Bishop Schofield is now doing incursion.

I thought for whatever reason - he was being fair and/or Californian law favours departing parishes - the bishop said the parishes could choose to remain Episcopal, no problem. Fine with me.

It is his diocese. But those parishes are no longer his. I thought they could choose that.

So his objection to the Episcopalians bringing people in to look after the remaining Episcopal parishes in the area - accusing the Episcopalians of the very thing he's done, incursion - simply doesn't make sense!