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February 20, 2009

Optional orthodoxy

Archbishop-canterbury-wide Following up on Steve's theme . . .

Over at IRD, Jim Tonkowich has a thoughtful piece about the March Atlantic's story on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Jim argues that the Atlantic article ought to be read in conjunction with First Things’ reprint of a 1997 Richard John Neuhaus piece titled "The Unhappy Fate of Optional Orthodoxy."

Jim writes,

In “The Unhappy Fate of Optional Orthodoxy,” Fr. Neuhaus notes that Williams and others are not thoroughgoing relativist[s]. They propound normative truths.

These truths, however, are not embodied in propositions, precedent, ecclesial authority, or, goodness knows, revelation. They are experiential truths expressing the truth of who we truly are—“we” being defined by sex, race, class, tribe, or identifying desire (“orientation”).

As a result:

… [D]isagreement is an intolerable personal affront. It is construed as a denial of others, of their experience of who they are. It is a blasphemous assault on that most high god, “My Identity.” Truth-as-identity is not appealable beyond the assertion of identity. In this game, identity is trumps. An appeal to what St. Paul or Aquinas or Catherine of Sienna or a Church council said cannot withstand the undeniable retort, “Yes, but they are not me!”

Since Christian orthodoxy challenges all such self-justification, it becomes “an intolerable personal affront” in such settings. This is why Neuhaus began the article by stating: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

Hence the war in the Anglican Communion and many other parts of Christendom. For progressives, “my experience” is the measure of truth. Orthodoxy is tolerated, but only as one option among many. The toleration ends, however, when it asserts normative theological truth and moral truth—two things considered oxymorons. These impede progressive goals such as the normalization of homosexuality. As a result orthodoxy must be suppressed.

Read more.

(Image courtesy of the Atlantic)

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Steve (SBK)

Actually, I think you can read it without a subscription here:

His insight and prescience is another reason Richard John Neuhaus will be missed.

Gina Dalfonzo

Thanks, Steve. I'll make the correction.

Jason Taylor

What in the world does it mean to be "deserve to be wanted sexually"?

Steve (SBK)

"What in the world does it mean to be "deserve to be wanted sexually"?"

It means "force someone to like you".

Jason Taylor


Rachel Coleman

For those who feel they "deserve to be wanted sexually," omeone needs to make an announcement along the lines of "Ahem ... that doesn't really work."

Any volunteers?

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