The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Limits of Liberalism

The deposition of Anne Holmes Redding is no cause for celebration--ending the career of any sincere minister cannot be described as such--but I believe it is a necessity. Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island gave her an extended opportunity to reflect, and to either resign her orders voluntarily, or to state that she did not consider herself to be a Muslim.

I don't say this out of disrespect for Islam as a faith; but Islam and Christianity, while both Abrahamic faiths, are very different, especially in the value they place of Jesus. And the Church has a right to expect that her ministers retain an unswerving adherence to the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the Episcopal Church. Ordained ministers of a Christian church have the obligation of maintaining our faith's own creed, with the understanding, championed by Charles Gore's book Belief in Christ that the creeds are not to be understood as comprehensive statements of the faith shackling thought, but rather as delineating the broad contours of the faith of our church. As I remarked in a law review article in 2000, those who accept the benefice must bear the burden of the teachings of the Church from which they have sought and obtained ordination.

We need, as Gore noted, to not fall into the trap of narrowness and refusing to use our reason--Gore's trilogy, Belief in God, Belief in Christ and The Holy Spirit and the Church (collected in The Reconstruction of Belief) was an affort to address the critique of modernism while retaining its beneficial insights, through reason. After all, who really wants to be cast as Frederic March here:

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