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DAR2007: Lady Schori's 'Tiers In Heaven' - by Gary L'Hommedieu

LADY SCHORI'S "TIERS" IN HEAVEN

COMMENTARY on Liberal Method Going into Dar es Salaam

By Gary L'Hommedieu
www.virtueonline.org
2/15/2007

Liberals around the globe have latched onto a technique for reducing what used to be primary to the nether regions of irrelevance. It's a familiar technique, but conservatives continue being flummoxed by it in their fear of being portrayed as hateful or extreme.

It is the simple technique of the false dichotomy.

Here again the issue that has captivated the Church east and west, north and south, homosexuality -- the issue everyone claims to be sick to death of - is a perfect illustration of the technique. In fact homosexuality has been brokered into the Church entirely on the basis of false dichotomies.

Here's just one example: if you don't agree with the homosexual that his lifestyle is good and right in the eyes of God, then you hate him. Since people of good will do not wish to be seen as hateful, they will acquiesce to the idea that the homosexual lifestyle is good and right in the eyes of God. They may never believe it, but they will not dare oppose it. They will retreat from a conservative biblical understanding and begin calling themselves "moderates".

No one knows what a moderate is. This should not be surprising. A moderate is recognized not by his or her views so much as by his or her single objective. The objective of a moderate is to avoid confrontation - period. A moderate wishes to be invisible. By doing so he thinks he looks respectful and compassionate, but this is granted him by the mere fact that he has not incurred the wrath of those who care enough about what they believe to confront those who disagree.

But suppose the Bible were true, and that the homosexual lifestyle is not as good and right in the eyes of God after all. If that is the case then the "extremist" who insists upon preaching the text of scripture, whether in season or out of season, is the only friend the homosexual has. If the Bible is true after all, then those who claim to love homosexuals may just be willing to write them off to perdition, rather than risk confrontation. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Back to false dichotomy as method. In recent weeks several dignitaries within the Anglican Communion have echoed the hackneyed notion that the gay issue is not fundamental to Christian doctrine.

"We need to make a distinction between issues that are fundamental to the faith and second-order issues. This is not a church-dividing issue." (Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop for Southern Africa, quoted in the New York Times, South Africa Bureau, February 9, 2007)

The implication is that conservatives, whether in the West or in the Global South, have been so preoccupied with the issue of homosexuality that they clearly regard it as a "fundamental issue." Liberals would say that the "fundamental issues" facing the Church are the same ones facing the rest of the world: war, hunger, AIDS, sickness, the underdevelopment or enslavement of whole peoples. Clearly these are more important, and thus more "fundamental".

Notice the false dichotomy: If you actively oppose the gay agenda in the Church, you are deliberately overlooking the other pressing concerns listed above. You are saying that defending the claim of scripture regarding gays is to undermine the claim of scripture in terms of justice.

By this logic the message of the radical prophets of the Old Testament would have been, "never mind idolatry and fornication, just feed the hungry and set the captives free." Thus anyone who preaches against false religion and morality is in favor of starving the hungry and oppressing the captive.

In the present argument over sexuality, we are invited to choose liberating the captive over living a life of biblical sexual morality. As if this weren't a strange enough dichotomy, it leads to another even more strange: if we are intent on liberating the captive, then our fornication becomes good and right in the eyes of God.

One of the greatest displays of the false dichotomy is that of Millennium Goals. You've probably guessed the logic by now: Millennium Goals (and all the good they stand for) is more "fundamental" to the needs of the suffering people than biblical morality. Therefore anyone who argues against the church's innovations in sexual morality seeks to minimize, if not oppose, the intentions implied by Millennium Goals.

This particular point was neatly handled by the CAPA Primates a year ago:

"We recognize the strategy employed by Episcopal Church and certain Communion bodies to substitute talk of Millennium Development Goals for the truth of Scripture. These choices are false alternatives...." ("The Road to Lambeth"; Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), February 2006).

For the sake of my present argument, what the CAPA Primates reacted to was the attempt by the Episcopal Church to swindle the rest of the Communion through the clever use of a false dichotomy. They rejected such a bogus formulation of Christian truth: it's NOT either practice biblical morality OR feed the poor. In the Bible it's BOTH AND.

Perhaps the greatest illustration of the false dichotomy is one of the most recent. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said in a recent interview in USA Today that she saw "two strands of faith", one "concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent... The more gracious strand is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward."

There's a mouthful for you; the new Lady Primate is "more gracious" than the Christ who died for our sins.

Once again, by this logic those who preach Christ "and him crucified" avoid looking forward, reject joy and blessings, etc. etc. Like a Chinese menu, choose from column A or column B: either Jesus' atonement for sin or joy, blessings, a way forward, etc. As for me and my house, says the good Lady, we choose Millennium Goals...

These are false alternatives. No one was more forward looking than St. Paul, who was made a "new creature" by Christ, who sought to "know nothing at all but Jesus Christ and him crucified." Thus he could "do all things through him who loved me." There is column A and B together, as they always are when orthodox Christianity is practiced faithfully.

There is only one reason to reduce Christianity to a series of false dichotomies: because we want to con someone. Maybe it's only ourselves that we want to con. When I am battered into submission by the Via Media and their quest for a "middle way", I will acquiesce to the claims of, say, the gay liberation agenda. As a colleague of mine said recently in an email, "there are other issues besides this one." Yes of course, there other issues "more fundamental" than this one. Therefore it doesn't matter how we handle this one. We can choose to be faithful in some other area, and that will cancel out all the areas of life in which we are unfaithful.

Why would someone, in the name of Christian faith, want to lure me into "selective faithlessness" with the promise of an eased conscience?

As the Primates continue in the present marathon of "listening", let us all brace ourselves for the spin. If we see false dichotomies, particularly on the side of the Left, look for a con. There is no other reason to pose a false dichotomy than to deceive and justify wrong.

Let's hear the Liberals preach the full text of the prophets: repent of BOTH your idolatry/immorality, AND your neglect of the poor. No captives will be liberated by a con.

---The Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon for Pastoral Care at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida, and a regular columnist for VirtueOnline. He is with David Virtue covering the Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam.LADY SCHORI'S "TIERS" IN HEAVEN

COMMENTARY on Liberal Method Going into Dar es Salaam

By Gary L'Hommedieu www.virtueonline.org 2/15/2007

Liberals around the globe have latched onto a technique for reducing what used to be primary to the nether regions of irrelevance. It's a familiar technique, but conservatives continue being flummoxed by it in their fear of being portrayed as hateful or extreme.

It is the simple technique of the false dichotomy.

Here again the issue that has captivated the Church east and west, north and south, homosexuality -- the issue everyone claims to be sick to death of - is a perfect illustration of the technique. In fact homosexuality has been brokered into the Church entirely on the basis of false dichotomies.

Here's just one example: if you don't agree with the homosexual that his lifestyle is good and right in the eyes of God, then you hate him. Since people of good will do not wish to be seen as hateful, they will acquiesce to the idea that the homosexual lifestyle is good and right in the eyes of God. They may never believe it, but they will not dare oppose it. They will retreat from a conservative biblical understanding and begin calling themselves "moderates".

No one knows what a moderate is. This should not be surprising. A moderate is recognized not by his or her views so much as by his or her single objective. The objective of a moderate is to avoid confrontation - period. A moderate wishes to be invisible. By doing so he thinks he looks respectful and compassionate, but this is granted him by the mere fact that he has not incurred the wrath of those who care enough about what they believe to confront those who disagree.

But suppose the Bible were true, and that the homosexual lifestyle is not as good and right in the eyes of God after all. If that is the case then the "extremist" who insists upon preaching the text of scripture, whether in season or out of season, is the only friend the homosexual has. If the Bible is true after all, then those who claim to love homosexuals may just be willing to write them off to perdition, rather than risk confrontation. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Back to false dichotomy as method. In recent weeks several dignitaries within the Anglican Communion have echoed the hackneyed notion that the gay issue is not fundamental to Christian doctrine.

"We need to make a distinction between issues that are fundamental to the faith and second-order issues. This is not a church-dividing issue." (Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop for Southern Africa, quoted in the New York Times, South Africa Bureau, February 9, 2007)

The implication is that conservatives, whether in the West or in the Global South, have been so preoccupied with the issue of homosexuality that they clearly regard it as a "fundamental issue." Liberals would say that the "fundamental issues" facing the Church are the same ones facing the rest of the world: war, hunger, AIDS, sickness, the underdevelopment or enslavement of whole peoples. Clearly these are more important, and thus more "fundamental".

Notice the false dichotomy: If you actively oppose the gay agenda in the Church, you are deliberately overlooking the other pressing concerns listed above. You are saying that defending the claim of scripture regarding gays is to undermine the claim of scripture in terms of justice.

By this logic the message of the radical prophets of the Old Testament would have been, "never mind idolatry and fornication, just feed the hungry and set the captives free." Thus anyone who preaches against false religion and morality is in favor of starving the hungry and oppressing the captive.

In the present argument over sexuality, we are invited to choose liberating the captive over living a life of biblical sexual morality. As if this weren't a strange enough dichotomy, it leads to another even more strange: if we are intent on liberating the captive, then our fornication becomes good and right in the eyes of God.

One of the greatest displays of the false dichotomy is that of Millennium Goals. You've probably guessed the logic by now: Millennium Goals (and all the good they stand for) is more "fundamental" to the needs of the suffering people than biblical morality. Therefore anyone who argues against the church's innovations in sexual morality seeks to minimize, if not oppose, the intentions implied by Millennium Goals.

This particular point was neatly handled by the CAPA Primates a year ago:

"We recognize the strategy employed by Episcopal Church and certain Communion bodies to substitute talk of Millennium Development Goals for the truth of Scripture. These choices are false alternatives...." ("The Road to Lambeth"; Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA), February 2006).

For the sake of my present argument, what the CAPA Primates reacted to was the attempt by the Episcopal Church to swindle the rest of the Communion through the clever use of a false dichotomy. They rejected such a bogus formulation of Christian truth: it's NOT either practice biblical morality OR feed the poor. In the Bible it's BOTH AND.

Perhaps the greatest illustration of the false dichotomy is one of the most recent. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said in a recent interview in USA Today that she saw "two strands of faith", one "concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent... The more gracious strand is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward."

There's a mouthful for you; the new Lady Primate is "more gracious" than the Christ who died for our sins.

Once again, by this logic those who preach Christ "and him crucified" avoid looking forward, reject joy and blessings, etc. etc. Like a Chinese menu, choose from column A or column B: either Jesus' atonement for sin or joy, blessings, a way forward, etc. As for me and my house, says the good Lady, we choose Millennium Goals...

These are false alternatives. No one was more forward looking than St. Paul, who was made a "new creature" by Christ, who sought to "know nothing at all but Jesus Christ and him crucified." Thus he could "do all things through him who loved me." There is column A and B together, as they always are when orthodox Christianity is practiced faithfully.

There is only one reason to reduce Christianity to a series of false dichotomies: because we want to con someone. Maybe it's only ourselves that we want to con. When I am battered into submission by the Via Media and their quest for a "middle way", I will acquiesce to the claims of, say, the gay liberation agenda. As a colleague of mine said recently in an email, "there are other issues besides this one." Yes of course, there other issues "more fundamental" than this one. Therefore it doesn't matter how we handle this one. We can choose to be faithful in some other area, and that will cancel out all the areas of life in which we are unfaithful.

Why would someone, in the name of Christian faith, want to lure me into "selective faithlessness" with the promise of an eased conscience?

As the Primates continue in the present marathon of "listening", let us all brace ourselves for the spin. If we see false dichotomies, particularly on the side of the Left, look for a con. There is no other reason to pose a false dichotomy than to deceive and justify wrong.

Let's hear the Liberals preach the full text of the prophets: repent of BOTH your idolatry/immorality, AND your neglect of the poor. No captives will be liberated by a con.

---The Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon for Pastoral Care at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida, and a regular columnist for VirtueOnline. He is with David Virtue covering the Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam.

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