Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Response to Baldie the Limey's Open Letter to Me: on the Eucharist

Baldie the Limey is a friend I have acquainted myself with over social media. He is Roman Catholic, and is looking at becoming a priest. I am Anglican, and also looking at becoming a priest. He recently published an open letter to me on his blog, asking me about my position concerning the Eucharist.

He's also into anime, which is totes legit. I don't think I've asked him yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's a fan of Blue Exorcist.

HE NEEDS TO SEE SUCH AMAZING ANIME AS THIS.

Now, on to the response...

Just to be clear, I am NOT a Sacramentarian. I do not believe that Christ is only "spiritually" (in the modern sense where "spiritual" means "non-physical") present in the Eucharist.

The bread and wine used in Communion, at the moment of Consecration, become the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is really, truly the Body and Blood of Jesus.

It is not a mere memorial.

It is not merely a symbol of the Body and Blood.

I am a cannibal because at Mass I am truly eating the Flesh of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I say that because it seemed almost as if you thought I held a Sacramentarian view, although you never do actually claim that of me.

Now that that is cleared up, let us move on to my problems with Rome concerning the subject:

Unfortunately, as much as I love the Council of Trent, it did anathematize almost every position outside of Transubstantiation, including the closest one to my own:

"If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema."
--Council of Trent Session XIII, Canon 2

Now, this one is often called "Consubstantiation", Do I hold to Consubstantiation? No, because I don't commit myself to Aristotelian metaphysics. However, I do hold to the fact that the Consecrated bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ every bit as much as they are the bread and wine. Think of the Hypostatic Union: 100% God and 100% man. 100% bread/wine and 100% Body/Blood.

I wonder: am I anathematized for not holding to Aristotelian metaphysics, according to Trent?

Am I anathematized for not holding to Transubstantiation, according to Trent?

Now, as I understand it, according to Aristotelian metaphysics, the accidents of an object are not the object itself; only the substance of an object is (please correct me if I am wrong, Baldie). If the Consecrated Bread and Wine are only in accidents still such, how does this not commit the heresy of Monophysitism?

If I held to Aristotelian metaphysics, I would likely be a proponent of Consubstantiation. Not being committed to it, I am an advocate of merely Real Presence. It is truly both Body and Blood and bread and wine. One of my favorite Anglicans, both a priest and a poet, once said:

"He was the Word that spake it:
He took the bread and break it;
And what that Word did make it,
I do believe and take it."
--John Donne


Another problem I have is that Trent is not an Ecumenical Council. How could it be, when the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, as well as the Anglican Communion, did not weigh in on the matter? At the very most, we've only had seven Ecumenical Councils (all Ecumenical Councils pre-1054 Schism), but more realistically, we do need to understand that the Schism with the Oriental Orthodox needs to be reconciled as well. But let's just focus on the Great Schism for now at least.

Can an Ecumenical Council be had without the whole Church?

Does Rome decide if a Church Council is ecumenical?

Is Rome the decider of who is in and not in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

If Rome considers these branches to be without valid Apostolic Succession, why? Hopefully, Rome does not commit the Donatist heresy in its reasoning.

Either way, I think we can both agree with this quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Hooker, on the subject of the Eucharist:

"This bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body; in that it serveth as well for a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins, as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving; with touching it sanctifieth, it enlighteneth with belief, it truly conformeth us into the image of Jesus Christ. What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not; it is enough, that to me which take them they are the Body and Blood of Christ; His promise in witness hereof sufficeth; His Word He knoweth which way to accomplish; why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, 'O my God, Thou art true; O my soul, thou art happy!'".

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Few Thoughts on the Gay Marriage Thing

"Yay! All of you bigoted Christians just lost!!!! Screw you guys, love is always gonna win over hate and bigotry!"

"What's happened to my America? This country was founded by Christians, and now it's become a pagan nation!!!!"

Yeah...that's basically been my Facebook newsfeed the past few days, and I'm sure it's been yours as well. Between profile pics of rainbows raging against profile pics of crosses, I'm watching bombardments from both sides as the culture wars continue with a major victory for the pro-LGBT side.

First off, I want to lay some necessary points of fact down first, just so you know where I am coming from in writing this article, as well as this article's purpose:

1) This is not an article about whether or not the Supreme Court has the right to do what it did. I lean libertarian, so my position is a bit more nuanced than your average conservative Christian's.

2) I am a person who has actually studied the question of gay marriage and Christianity, and extensively. I have a number of books sitting on my shelf and lying within my Kindle on the subject, from multiple angles.

3) I am a person who actually tries to avoid this and related topics, for multiple reasons. It's too emotional for many people (and I'm not using that term in a derogatory way), and parts of it are incredibly complicated. I'm only writing an article now because I see such vitriol and hatred on many sides with this issue.

4) I'm not a person who enjoys doing some watered down, "I won't take sides on an issue, I just think we should love everyone" crap. Of course love, but for God's-sake state your position if you are going to talk or write about it! It's one of the most annoying things about this generation; how unwilling we are to actually say things of substance when we discuss these serious matters. I have a position, and if I'm going to write an article on it, I won't shy away from that position.

5) While marriage is something that has existed before the Church, in our Western context it is something that has historically been done by the Church, and the State has slowly overseen it in a more active way.

6) I am committed to searching for truth, no matter where it leads.

Now that that's all cleared up...

Calm Freakin' Down

First off, both sides need to stop with the absolutely horrendous hatred thrown at the others. Let's deal with that. And yes, I genuinely do mean both sides. I've disagreed with my LGBT friends and my conservative Christian friends on this issue, and have been attacked by both parties.

On the conservative Christian side, I've been accused of going to Hell for my position on the subject. I've seen conservative Christians treat gay people horribly, acting as though they were sub-human. Whether you consider homosexuality a sin or not, you should never consider that person sub-human. I know Christian friends who are and were so afraid to come out, because of how hateful many people have been towards this issue. It needs to stop. Seriously.

One person in particular comes to my mind who, rather than thinking he could approach his parents about this complicated issue, was so scared that he decided to hide it from them instead, supposing he could change himself. Whenever you hide something, that something only grows. He ended up going into activities that any responsible person, whether LGBT or straight, would find sexually dangerous and degrading to oneself and others. Is that what his parents and church community wanted? I doubt it.

Think that's bad, LGBT friends? I've had a gay man argue, rather viciously, against me for holding to my position, later friend me on Facebook, then in the middle of the night start posting claims that I was hitting on him and trying to seduce him and was a closet gay. All because I respectfully disagreed with him. I've seen people like Tony Campolo--Tony freakin' Campolo!!!!--accused of being a bigot. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Recently, Campolo came out in favor of gay marriage within the Church. Prior to that, he was fine with gay marriage, just not within the Church.

He was fine with gay marriage, he just didn't think the Church should perform gay marriages.

...that is a position that requires vitriolic hatred and screams of bigotry? Seriously?  This is the guy I'm talking about (and this is a video from years before he decided to approve of gay marriages within the Church):




Yes, ladies and gentlemen: that guy apparently deserves to be given the same derogatory names as the Westboro Baptists.

Congratulations: you've made the term "bigot" utterly useless. And ironically, your claims of bigotry only reveal that you yourself are one and have no idea what that word even means.


So both sides need to seriously calm down. There are rational voices on both sides, certainly.

And if you can't see rational, thoughtful people on the opposing side, the above paragraphs are about you.

Now, onto my position:

Concerning the State

I couldn't care less what the State does.

We Christians have a fundamental problem within the Church today, and that problem is this:

We think the secular government of the United States is our friend, our ally, our tool.

I'm sorry, but no. The federal government is not our ally. Take this very issue, for instance: why is marriage something to be licenced by the State? It's a Sacrament; our Sacrament. Yet we thought that we could get the approval of Caesar, and our greed for tax and other benefits pushed us to slowly allow marriage to be considered first and foremost a State-sanctioned institution, rather than a Sacrament of the Church.

You have no idea how many times I've spoken with Christians who treat marriage first and foremost as though the State is the one that decides how it works. I've even had family members joke after a wedding that the couple couldn't go to their honeymoon yet because they hadn't signed the certificate. Yes, it was a joke, but the joke is based upon the idea that the most fundamental fact concerning the marriage is that they have signed a piece of paper given to them by the State.

A marriage certified by the State should make as much sense to us as a Baptism certified by the State.

And thank God we've not tried to do with Baptism or the Eucharist what we've done with marriage. Can you imagine the State forcing the Church to recognize pagan baptisms? Or forcing the Roman Catholic Church to allow the Eucharist for everyone?

Let's treat this as a lesson in what happens when we go to bed with the State.

So bottom line: I literally couldn't care less what the State does. If they want to enact gay marriage, let them. Oh, it will reinforce bad culture within Christianity? Rome had worse. Rome had killing people for sport legalized. Somehow the Church magically survived. My bet is that the Spirit will protect and lead His Church.


Now for the Religious Part:

I have studied the subject with an open mind, reading books like Matthew Vines' "God and the Gay Christian" and Michael Brown's , "Can you Be Gay and Christian?". I've listened to lectures and debates and talks about the issues at hand, here.

I don't do so merely out of abstract boredom. I have a LOT of LGBT friends, many (but certainly not all) of whom are of the opinion that Christianity either is or should be in support of gay marriage. 

After my studies on this issue, I can't as a Christian support the Faith blessing same-sex unions. 

Why? Oh, I might write a detailed article on that in the future. But suffice it to say that no amount of "shellfish!" or "two cloths woven together!" exclamations are going to refute my position.

Because those are really, REALLY poor "
arguments".

(Yes, yes; the necessary "Lutheran Satire" video. Sue me.)

For now, just read Matthew 19:1-12.

Understand that Jesus is saying this. 

Is Jesus God in the Flesh? 

Could Jesus see into the hearts and minds of men and women? 

Then how could Jesus say something like this, knowing that there are people who are only attracted to the same sex hearing these words (whether at the moment they were spoken or later in the writings), if Jesus is fine with blessing same-sex unions with the Sacrament of marriage? 

Whatever your position on the matter, understand that the Levitical Code or even St. Paul's words on the subject are not the chief reasons for it being a union the Church cannot bless.

Because Jesus did speak on the nature of marriage, and He defined it as only a man and a woman for life. 

Now, whatever the State wants to do, I don't care. 

My concern is not the State. 

My concern is the Church. 

And so I couldn't care less that marriages are now blessed by the State. The State is not my religion. The State is not my Kingdom. The State is not my God. 

Same sex blessings done by the State? Sure. That's fine. 

Same sex blessings done by the Church? That is something that I cannot support Scripturally, theologically, or historically. 

And I've read and listened to the best arguments for the claim that Scripture supports same-sex marriage. They don't work, the arguments. They require such forced ambiguity of the text that I am amazed how some of the advocates can make such statements with confidence.

If you think that makes me a bigot, understand that what you are saying is that you cannot tolerate a position on this issue that is any different from your own.

Realize that, then look up the definition of "
bigot".