Monday, May 14, 2007

It's Not the Theological Agreement That Matters

Over in Dylan's Grace Notes (via Fr. Jake) we have an invitation to discuss "a list of points on which I think I and many 'progressives' agree with the vast majority of 'reasserters.'" I don't see any significant problems with the original list of points, though I would certainly throw in adherence to the Nicene Creed as a point of agreement.

But there is another point about which there is agreement, and this point is what is creating the battle: Moral teaching is a central purpose of the church. Certainly both, um, factions believe this. On The Issue That Is Driving This, they are committed to teaching some moral position. If there is much of a difference, it's that the progressives are more sanguine about their ability to pass judgement on the world and to effect change.

And that leads to still another point of agreement, and the one that really enables the conflict: It's all about power and politics-- especially church power and therefore church politics. The current conflict is very much about using the church as a locus of power in an attempt to change the moral climate of the nation, if not the world.

BUT there are, for instance, feminist theologians who want to play with the God language to support the moral imperative of women's rights. Here we run into the most serious problem: the separation between systematic and moral theology cannot be maintained. So it's questionable whether points of agreement are going to persist, or (for instance) whether the social liberals are going to be able to resist the demands to abandon Nicene orthodoxy as being, well, immoral. It seems to me that they are going to find it difficult to do so.

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