Jesus Our Mediator

So Jesus, who is our God, is at the same time our mediator, our almighty intercessor, to whom God does not refuse anything, and there is no other name by which we should be saved. Let us put our trust in Jesus, who is God and mediator together and, even greater and above Moses, as Moses is only God to send temporary wounds, and he is a mediator only to divert them; but Jesus passes by doing good, and healing all the sick. He deploys his power only to show his kindness; and the plagues which he diverts from us are the plagues of the spirit. Let us put ourselves in his salutary hands; he does not ask anything else, except that we let him do it, from then on he will save us, and salvation is his work.

From Bossuet’s Elevations on the Mysteries.

Francis Chan Bails on Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology

As you see here:

“Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology” is my catty description of Zwinglian theology, which posits that the Holy Communion is a mere symbol.  As I noted in my piece entitled Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology: It Depends Upon What Is Is:

Until the Reformation Christianity uniformly confessed that, when Our Lord said “is” he meant “is”, up to and including the concept of transubstantiation, which Aquinas details in the Summa.

With the breakage of the Reformers we start seeing a variety of explanations of how this “is”, something that Bossuet has more fun than a human being ought to have in his History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches.  But the biggest variation, one that started with Huldreich Zwingli, basically stated that “is isn’t”; that it’s just bread from start to finish and that the Lord’s Supper is purely symbolic.  That “theology” made its way into many Evangelical churches, including the Southern Baptist Convention.

Welcome, Francis Chan.

Gavin Ashenden Swims the Tiber

Yes, he does:

An internationally renowned Anglican bishop and former chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is leaving the Anglican Church to become a Catholic.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden will be received into full communion by Shrewsbury’s Bp. Mark Davies on the fourth Sunday of Advent at Shrewsbury Cathedral, England.

From the standpoint of the online Anglican-Episcopal world, this is probably the most significant “Tiber swimming” since Greg Griffith did so five years ago.  That led in part to Stand Firm in Faith’s disappearance from the internet, something that is only now coming back.  What George Conger and Kevin Kallsen plan to do with their Anglicans Unscripted series now that Gavin has left the Anglican world remains to be seen.

My own opinion–and it comes from someone who did the same thing many years ago–is that I can’t think of a worse time to do this than now, with the current Occupant in Rome.  Although Gavin’s sentiment that “I came to realize that only the Catholic Church, with the weight of the Magisterium, had the ecclesial integrity, theological maturity and spiritual potency to defend the Faith, renew society and save souls in the fullness of faith” resonates, the actualities of the Church–especially in the West–have made each Papal transition a nail-biter, and now we’re at the point where at least a good part of Roman Catholicism is entering a wilderness all too familiar to those of us who started out in a Main Line denomination.

No matter what, my prayers are with him and his family.

Update: now we have some of the answer re Anglicans Unscripted:

Benedict XVI on Historical-Critical Scholarship — Ad Orientem

Scripture has been opened up anew by historical-critical scholarship and, I admit, locked up anew as well. It has been opened up anew: thanks to the labors of exegesis we hear the Word fo the Bible in a completely new way in its historical originality, in the variety of a developing and growing history, with […]

via Benedict XVI on Historical-Critical Scholarship — Ad Orientem

Anatheism: What Is It, and Do I Have It?

I probably spend more time than I should online following seminary academics.  That’s not just considering their impact on me: sometimes they bite back, especially if they’re of a Reformed background.  In any case a series of events has led me to discover something called anatheism, which is the discovery (for want of a better term) of one Richard Kearney of Boston College.

So how did I get interested in this?  Well, I was asked to find the latest publication of one Austin Williams, a PhD student at Boston College (and probably a protégé of Kearney.) Austin is the son of my church’s pastor, Mark Williams. (I get a whiff from his Twitter feed that Austin is bailing on Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology, of which his father is an adherent.  If that happens, it would be a major triumph for me.)

So I discovered this book review of Richard Kearney’s Anatheistic Wager: Philosophy, Theology, Poetics in Pneuma.  It piqued my interest.  So what, you ask, is anatheism?  The best way to answer that question is to go to the man himself, and he explains it (in a pithier way than many seminary academics manage) in this video.

Rather than get into a full-blown critique of the concept, I’d like to make some observations that perhaps will shed light on the subject and/or engender some conversation.  (The last is a dangerous objective online.)

Most people obtain their faith beliefs while being raised (or discipled for adult converts) in “the system.”  Generally the objective of “the system” is to bring people into some understanding of the faith without going over their head intellectually while at the same time minimizing the possibility that they would challenge what they’re being taught along the way.  (I have this illustration of that process in the Roman Catholic RCIA.)  The problem with this is that eventually, especially when people get to university, they’re confronted with hostile belief systems they aren’t prepared to deal with, which in many cases leads to them bailing on the faith for atheism or even this.

What Kearny is talking about is a moment when we are confronted with a choice (he characterises our response as either hostility or hospitality) between God and atheism, and then those of us who choose God have to make a wager to follow God. (That’s a nice touch for someone who teaches Pascal’s Law to his Fluid Mechanics Laboratory students, but don’t tell the Pope or James Martin.)  Those who get through that, in Kearny’s view, return to “God after God,” thus anatheism.

His first illustration of that is Abraham, who actually has two anatheistic moments: the first when the three visitors come to announce the coming birth of Isaac, and the second when he takes same Isaac to sacrifice.  In both cases he wagers for God, and as Paul reminds us “What then, it may be asked, are we to say about Abraham, the ancestor of our nation? If he was pronounced righteous as the result of obedience, then he has something to boast of. Yes, but not before God. For what are the words of Scripture? ‘Abraham had faith in God, and his faith was regarded by God as righteousness.'” (Romans 4:1-3 TCNT)  That kind of encounter, although seminal in our salvation history, is one that is lacking in the experience of many Christians.

And that leads to the personal part: have I ever experienced this?  In thinking back, yes, at least three times.  The first was at the start, as I mentioned in my dialogue with Ron Krumpos.  The second was my year in prep school which led me to “swim the Tiber.”  (In fairness, I must say that my hapless school chaplain wasn’t alone in forcing this moment; he had a lot of help.)  The third was the experience I had in the Texas A&M Newman Association.  So I guess I have it.  In all of these I should make a qualification: atheism wasn’t really the alternative.  That’s in part because I came from a long line of secular people/Lodge dwellers who didn’t need outright atheism to marginalise religious belief and practice.  To have that kind of experience is good, and does give you a different perspective on your walk with God, but it makes you an outlier in normal local church/parish life.

There are two other observations I’d like to make.

First, I get the impression that Kearney’s idea is that, if more people had this kind of anatheistic experience, they would be less dogmatic in their faith.  I don’t agree with this.  One good example of this is Mohammad, one which Kearney himself brings up.  Another is Pascal, the person who advanced the whole concept of wager in both mathematics and religion.  After his experience he became the most vociferous defender of the Jansenists, much to the regret of the Jesuits.  It helps to have that experience but it doesn’t necessarily dampen the enthusiasm.

Second, I’m not sure how well any theistic concept works in Buddhism which, in the form the Buddha set is down, really has no need for a god.

I’m sure that there are philosophical and theological objections to the way I have presented my observations.  But I don’t believe that it is good that the musings of academics be divorced from the reality of those in the pews that have to endure the sermons of those who emerge from seminary academic.  Kearney has made in interesting contribution to Christian thought, one that deserves further discussion in an age when people are transitioning away from their faith at a significant rate.

That Man in Rome…That Man in the White House

2019-11-17 16.00.31Just saw the tweet at the right.  I think it’s hilarious that people have started to refer to the Occupant of the See of St. Peter as “that man in Rome.”  American history buffs will remember that some Republicans, unable to utter his name, used to refer to Franklin D. Roosevelt as “that man in the White House,” and I’m sure that my grandfather muttered ripe language when he had to visit him to help promote his 1933 Langley Day air meet.  Even the thought of FDR made Republicans’ blood pressure rise and veins bulge in the temples.

I used to refer to Barack Obama as the Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and I’ve thoughtfully transferred that to the Occupant near the Tiber (too near as it turns out!)

It’s also worth noting that some of the strongest people in Catholic Twitter are women.  Such turns many peoples’ feminist construct upside down, but it was that way in the Anglican Revolt and the tradition continues with conservative Catholicism.  Besides, it’s worth noting that the founder of #straightouttairondale Catholicism was no other than Mother Angelica, without a doubt the most influential American Catholic since Vatican II.

The Coming Continuing Roman Catholic Church — Ad Orientem

“The Burke critique is simple enough. Church teaching on questions like marriage’s indissolubility is supposed to be unchanging, and that’s what he’s upholding: “I haven’t changed. I’m still teaching the same things I always taught and they’re not my ideas.” What is unchanging certainly can’t be altered by an individual pontiff: “The pope is not […]

via The Coming Continuing Roman Catholic Church — Ad Orientem

I’m Kristen Karman-Shoemake and This Is How I Mesh — Another Fine Mesh

I was born in Arlington, TX and spent most of my childhood in and around the Fort Worth area. When I was in high school, my family moved to Chattanooga, TN. I then went on to UTK for my undergraduate degree. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and ended […]

via I’m Kristen Karman-Shoemake and This Is How I Mesh — Another Fine Mesh

Kristen and I went to graduate school together, along with her husband Lawton.  Their wedding–coming as it did at the end of many of our dissertation defences in 2016, was a delight and “the event of the season” for weary graduate students.  She is also a Roman Catholic, and the wedding was, as I like to say, #straightouttairondale.  (Which we had to explain to our fellow students from Iran and China and Ghana and…)