Posted on: November 26th, 2008 Ephraim Radner on (Not) Going to Rome

From here:

[Radner] more explicitly takes up the arguments of liberals within the mainline church who suggest that conservative histrionics over the inclusion of homosexuals are no different from the resistance to racial or gender inclusiveness or to revision to the Book of Common Prayer (indeed, conservatives on the issue of homosexuality are in some regrettable company in recent history). The issue of homosexuality is different, Radner insists. He says that the Episcopal Church’s “revisionary teachings on sexual behavior is unique in our church’s development,” and that appeals to “justice” and “love” over the particular and defined words and actions of scripture suggest that a general principle has become more important than the lordship of Christ. He also laments liberals’ “chilling” indifference to the protests of more conservative Anglicans in the Third World.

But Radner has also developed an argument for why it is important to stay in what he sees as a deeply flawed church. “God has allowed us to come to faith and to practice our faith within divided Christian communities so that, forced to follow Jesus where we have been placed, we might learn repentance.” Radner offers a figural scriptural argument: though Israel was divided because of human sin and divine punishment, “No Jew . . . is ever asked by God to ‘choose’ between Israel and Judah.” Jewish writers of scripture did not even consider such a move—rather they stayed where they were and tried to help the people be more faithful to the law of the Lord.

Radner sharpens this argument with a christological coup de grace: in the face of infidelity, Jesus himself stays put and dies for his enemies. He does not flee for greener pastures. “It is facile and ultimately misleading for orthodox Christians to identify, face, and respond to their churches’ errors by saying ‘repudiate and separate’ . . . for the simple reason that this is not the shape of Israel’s history—which must ultimately be our own—because it is not the shape of Jesus’ own life. There is no other standard.”

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