Monday, July 24, 2006

Staying Put

It is strange that among the cries of the theologically orthodox for "staying put" in the fragmenting Presbyterian Church that more aren't making use of the theologian who has (for some time) been that position's most articulate and thoughtful voice from within Anglicanism, Ephraim Radner. Here are some of his more haunting quotes, made all the more intersting when knowing that Radner is unimpeachably orthodox himself:
"To forgo choice is something that takes place wherever we are, and it submits us to the forms of such a discovered place. If we are shopping, it will mean stopping even at one spot and staying the movement on; if we are struggling against the place of our childhood, it will mean ceasing to struggle there; if we are warring or wilting in the denomination of our discontent, it will mean allowing what chafes to be cherished" (51).

"The providential value of suffering division as a means of repentance is, in fact, the only theological model of ecclesial division that the Bible offers us. I refer explicitly to the history of divided Israel, a reality that is both the consequence of sin and the means of that sin's experiential redemption. No Jew, within scriptural testimony, is ever asked by God to choose between Israel and Judah, despite the fluctuating fortunes of their respective faithfulness. Rather, God asks each Israelite to suffer these fluctuations themselves in faith and to allow that faithful patience to be molded into the shape of repentant people by God's own acts upon them" (207).

"It is not so much ironic as it is theologically inevitable that one of the central issues currently in dispute within our denominations - the character of marriage - provides also the very shape by which faithful Christians are called to enter into this dispute: the cruciform union of love that suffers its rejection indissolubly. What is ironic is that some of those who would protect the human embnodiment of marriage within the church should be tempted to contradict its ecclesial expression. We must not give in to this temptation" (209).

"We cannot hear God's prodding and correction unless we are physically bound to those who would speak hard things to us" (214).

"Pierre Nicole, one of the great Jansenist apologists for Catholicism, is notorious for his argument against the Calvinists: despite the evils of the institutional church, Nicole insisteded, you should have gone without pastors altogether, rather than alleviate your suffering through subverting the unity of the church by ordaining your own" (193).

"In the Christian Church, followers like Catherine of Siena live and speak to our own age most pointedly. (I suppose she would say that our vocation is to die for the liberal heretic in our midst! There is a thought worth sinking our theological teeth into!)" (203).