zondag 18 juli 2010

De noodzaak van leergezag

Zie het volgende niet onhumoristische citaat van van een zekere Engelse Fr Dwight, n.a.v. de sterk betwiste beslissing van de Anglicaanse Kerk van Engeland vrouwen tot bisschop te wijden:
How could anyone hope to be clear headed and clearly spoken when he has to head up such a denomination? Here’s the real situation. Anglicans have liberals who deny the existence of God, the supernatural, any vestige of a traditional understanding of the Christian faith and they also have conservative Evangelicals who are virtually Biblical fundamentalists. They have Anglo Catholics who believe in the real presence, have monks and nuns, go on pilgrimages to Marian shrines, call their priests ‘Father’ and whose liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholics. On the other hand they have priests who have the same orders who deny all Catholic doctrines, put leftover communion bread out for the birds and proudly bear the name of Protestant. They have proponents of homosexual marriage and those who think homosexuals should be put in jail. Some would die to have lady bishops some would die if they didn’t have lady bishops.
All of this is held together under the banner of 'unity', but how can anyone hope to hold any of it together at all without being totally muddle headed? It's impossible. That's why there is a typical sort of Anglican clergy speak which goes like this: "I think I would like to say that in some way there ought to be a way forward which does not alienate anyone and yet attempts to propose a truth statement which may, if I am not pushing it too far, expresses what might be called 'truth' in a way that is a propositional statement which is descriptive while it is not prescriptive. This is to say that if we cannot find a way forward then it is best, perhaps to return to a discussion stage when we might sit down and without being dogmatic or judgmental listen again to one another to see if there is not in fact a way in which we can walk together while we are still fundamentally walking apart. Of course this will be a demanding and challenging journey which will in many ways for some of us (indeed all of us in one way or another) be at its heart paradoxical if not seemingly contradictory. However the seeming contradiction need not be a real contradiction even though it feels painful for some us to continue to live and what might be called a creative tension....... blah blah blah.
En nu een paar heldere gedachten terzake. Nog in zijn anglicaanse periode toonde J.H. Newman aan dat de Kerk niet zonder centraal leergezag kan (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, hoofdstuk 2, sectie 2, paragraaf 13):
If the very claim to infallible arbitration in religious disputes is of so weighty importance and interest in all ages of the world, much more is it welcome at a time like the present, when the human intellect is so busy, and thought so fertile, and opinion so manifold. The absolute need of a spiritual supremacy is at present the strongest of arguments in favour of the fact of its supply. Surely, either an objective revelation has not been given, or it has been provided with means for impressing its objectiveness on the world. If Christianity be a social religion, as it certainly is, and if it be based on certain ideas acknowledged as divine, or a creed, (which shall here be assumed,) and if these ideas have various aspects, and make distinct impressions on different minds, and issue in consequence in a multiplicity of developments, true, or false, or mixed, as has been shown, what power will suffice to meet and to do justice to these conflicting conditions, but a supreme authority ruling and reconciling individual judgments by a divine right and a recognized wisdom? In barbarous times the will is reached through the senses; but in an age in which reason, as it is called, is the standard of truth and right, it is abundantly evident to any one, who mixes ever so little with the world, that, if things are left to themselves, every individual will have his own view of them, and take his own course; that two or three will agree today to part company tomorrow; that Scripture will be read in contrary ways, and history, according to the apologue, will have to different comers its silver shield and its golden; that philosophy, taste, prejudice, passion, party, caprice, will find no common measure, unless there be some supreme power to control the mind and to compel agreement.
There can be no combination on the basis of truth without an organ of truth. As cultivation brings out the colours of flowers, and domestication changes the character of animals, so does education of necessity develope differences of opinion; and while it is impossible to lay down first principles in which all will unite, it is utterly unreasonable to expect that this man should yield to that, or all to one. I do not say there are no eternal truths, such as the poet proclaims, which all acknowledge in private, but that there are none sufficiently commanding to be the basis of public union and action. The only general persuasive in matters of conduct is authority; that is, (when truth is in question,) a judgment which we feel to be superior to our own. If Christianity is both social and dogmatic, and intended for all ages, it must humanly speaking have an infallible expounder. Else you will secure unity of form at the loss of unity of doctrine, or unity of doctrine at the loss of unity of form; you will have to choose between a comprehension of opinions and a resolution into parties, between latitudinarian and sectarian error. You may be tolerant or intolerant of contrarieties of thought, but contrarieties you will have. By the Church of England a hollow uniformity is preferred to an infallible chair; and by the sects of England, an interminable division. Germany and Geneva began with persecution, and have ended in scepticism. The doctrine of infallibility is a less violent hypothesis than this sacrifice either of faith or of charity. It secures the object, while it gives definiteness and force to the matter, of the Revelation.

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