Elizaphanian (an English blogger): Catholicism trumps liberalism

Centrists / Religion

Another reaction to Theo Hobson’s post. (We had a longish discussion of it earlier in the week if you recall). This article points out at the end that reason (liberal thought) must be included as an equal voice if we are to use Hooker’s criteria (i.e. the three legged stool.)

Of course the use of the three-legged stool model as a way of illustrating Hooker’s ideas is somewhat problematic as many other folks have pointed out…

“Where Hobson has something interesting to say is in pointing out the tension between a Catholic understanding of authority and the liberal tradition – the liberal tradition being derived from Protestantism, where both place primacy on individual will and understanding. What has happened is that the wider Modern culture has so reinforced that tendency that it became a distorted parody of itself, lacking any place for humility before the truth, and some sense of Christian solidarity – which is why Protestantism dissipates into the ten thousand things. A Catholic sense of authority – healthily understood, for even in Catholicism the individual conscience is paramount – is one that gives more weight to church tradition, and therefore tempers the arrogance latent in Protestantism, that the individual is in a position to know better than the church as a whole. It can happen – I think that Luther was right to Protest – but the onus is on the one seeking to overthrow the church tradition to show why. And as Rowan has put it, genuinely prophetic action has costly consequences.

What the liberals in TEC seem not to be able to supply is an argument properly grounded in theology for taking the stance that they do (see Oliver O’Donovan on this here). This is where Rowan is most seriously misread by the liberals, for he was never ‘one of them’ in placing individual opinion so recklessly ahead of the gathered consensus (which is why he keeps emphasising that full understanding of the truth requires unity). I’m quite sure Rowan still holds the same views about homosexuality etc that he has always held; what has changed is that he has taken on the office and authority of ABC and he has a profoundly Catholic (ie correct!) understanding of what that involves – that individual opinion comes second to the authority of the church. Not always – conscience does NOT have to be violated – simply a recognition that ‘I MIGHT BE WRONG’ – and that the Spirit works through the church to lead it into truth – we therefore trust the process, and trust the church.”

Read the rest here: Elizaphanian (an English blogger): Catholicism trumps liberalism

(Via Stand Firm.)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve read that liberlas in TEC have not offered a theological explanations for the consecration of non-celibate gay bishops or the blessing of same sex relationships. And I wish I had another dollar for every such explanation I have read. A basic awareness of one’s opponents arguments is the price of admission to any debate, and in this instance, that price has not been paid.

  2. Could you post some links to these explanations? Maybe that would help.

  3. The Claiming the Blessing folks have a page of resources outlining their thinking here:
    The Episcopal Church explanation (as requested of it by the Windsor Report) and other material re: +Gene Robinson is here:
    There have been critiques of both of these published. I think most of the critiques are linked from Kendall Harmon’s blog or can be found on the Anglican Communion Website.
    Jim – do you have others that you’re thinking of?

  4. I think also, however, that there has been slews of decent thinking in recent years transtraditions, and its as if none of that gets any airtime. I’m thinking of Hefling’s work, or James Alison, or Elizabeth Stuart, Sarah Coakley, to name a few–bls, I’ll place a resource list at the new site where some of us are offering worship resources for lgbt folks: http://www.thanksgivinginallthings.org .
    Someone pointed out not to long ago that there was more solid thinking at my blog than among liberals, and I certainly don’t see that that’s the case, or at least I hope not. The problem is, I tend to address matters from an ascetic and Patristic and theological/liturgical lenses which are decidedly not how liberals address these matters–but it is how the authors above so do.

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