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Rethinking tradition

Timothy Kincaid

February 8th, 2012

For the past 134 years The Living Church has been speaking to Episcopalians – especially those of the Anglo-Catholic “high church” wing – on matters of faith. In the January 29 edition, there is a fascinating article entitled “Tradition, Novelty, and the Need for Discernment” by David Newheiser, which reinspects what tradition has to say about same-sex marriage.

Those who appreciate a scholarly and thoughtful approach will enjoy this article. Here’s a taste:

The relevant question for faithful Christians is thus not whether Paul would have affirmed homosexual marriage: on the basis of the conceptual apparatus he had available, he would have been able to grasp neither the concept homosexual nor the Nicene affirmation that the Son is “of one substance” with the Father. Even if, as is likely, he would have been alarmed on both counts, this does not settle the issue, for the force of Paul’s teaching may point toward developments that he would not have expected. Just as Athanasius argued that the teaching of Scripture recommends ways of speaking that the authors of Scripture would not have recognized, it may be that the fidelity to tradition requires new ways of thinking about the status of same-sex unions.

I don’t always find that an article changes my perspective or opens new ways of thinking. But after reading Newheiser’s piece I came away with a new understanding of tradition.

Theological responses to same-sex marriage are no more longstanding and traditional than theological responses to online dating or sexting. Tradition is more than just “doing what we did before” when there is no “before” with which to compare. Rather, the church should utilize another tradition, that of applying discernment to questions before it. And that is, indeed, an old and established tradition.

Comments

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MJC
February 8th, 2012 | LINK

That is brilliant. I will definitely read this.

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