20 August 2009

core doctrine

Over on HoB, which I read as do about half (that is 2) of my readers, there is a discussion of 'core doctrine.' I offer here as a non-elite I am not welcome there, a few thoughts on the subject.

"Core Doctrine" has two definitions.

(1)That which a court to try a bishop will use to depose someone. This consists of at the very least of the creedal statements (Nicene and Apostle's Creeds) and the Quadrilateral. Other items may or may not be added depending on the membership of the court.

(2) That which the announcer of core thinks is important. This definition requires that one understand the old proverb that a judgment is always dependant on whose ox is gored.

I am quite serious about the second definition. Jesus (not a particularly important figure to some 'reasserters' when it comes to doctrine -- but I digress) said that divorce with its consequencial disaster for women and their children was wrong. That stopped being core doctrine when reaserter bishops started discovering wives who lived in the 19th and later centuries.

What has not changed is the impact of divorce on women. So if Jesus found divorce unacceptible, as seems very clear in his preaching and the impact is not resolved, how do we ordain those people as 'wholesome examples' and how do we loose that piece of 'core doctrine?' The short answer is that divorced bishops vote.

In fact a careful reading of Jesus's comments suggests that divorce is sinful for men. That would clear a lot of posts in ACNA if applied as preached! But it is no longer core doctrine. This one no longer makes us comfortable.

Core doctrine changes, consider that Paul never heard of the Trinity, the "lord's Prayer' or the 'historic episcopate.' But especially for bishops(!) that latter item is core! I think the Moravians have something with an episcopate that confirms and ordains but does not rule. Want to bet that is a problem of core doctrine for the HoB?

I have some sympathy for Caiaphas. He was defending the system of core values and doctrines that he believed would keep the Hebrew nation alive and aligned with God's intent. He knew the Romans would kill any nation that messed up free trade and prosperity for Rome. He knew that God expected God's chosen to practice exclusivity. He would in short have been a fine primate for GafCon inter alia.

It is really all about comfort and paradigm. We are uncomfortable with change as a species. Our paradigm unassailable and unchanging is what makes us comfortable. When someone shakes it up, be it a woman in clericals, a rock music group from England, a bishop who is honest about his sexuality or a carpenter practicing indescriminate inclusion, we stand with Caiaphas and demand action.

Like Caiphus we get action. We like he, put people in crucified places. That way we get invited to Lambeth! Yup that episcopate thing is sure enough core. Our paradigm cannot be assaulted by something as ingsignificant as god! We know the right way. So too did Caiaphas.



Rick+ said...

     Well written, Jim. I always enjoy reading your reflections.

JimB said...



Christal said...

Wow-I didn't know Bishops were able to be Bishops if they were divorced. Thanks to your blog, I learn something new every day. And then somethings still remain going to the devil-like US Healthcare reform. Go Obama!!!

JimB said...


Thanks! I try to make some contribution to the intellectual discussion.

Yes there are divorced bishops out there. More in the allegedly holy conservative wing. At least one CANA/ ACNA bishop has a third wife. Generally, exceptions exist, TEC wont elect a divorced priest but once they are bishop, things can change. The homophobes will I think, elect anyone they agree with on gays and women.


Anonymous said...

Iam as I often am somewhat confused. If something was not an esential teaching then it would not be doctrine, yes? I mean isn't all doctrine core? The first time I been able to find the term in our circle's is Righter's trial and it refer's to the Quad lateral. You hit the nail on the head with core doctrine being"somthing I maintain that I can chuck stone's @ your for" Are we really ignoring the log in our eye to point out the speck in a wayward's heretic's.

JimB said...

Beyond the Quadrilateral (either one) and the creeds, everything else is in my view commentary. I will actually go the next step which is the quotes attributed to Hillel and Jesus.

Jesus said, "The first commandment is this: Love God with all your heart and mind. The second is similar: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Hillel said, "Love God and seek Justice is Torah. Everything else is commentary."

Yup -- I think I get what is core. The rest? We can talk, discuss, redefine endlessly.


Christal said...

Fight complacency America!!

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