Saturday, October 25, 2003

Couldn't Have Said It Better. Consider this very apt, consise description of what happened at GC2K3:
a vocal minority claiming a privileged knowledge of the mind of God has placed itself in the seat of judgment, above the good order, canonical authority, civility and
. . . Scripture. Opps, that last word wasn't part of the statement, but, of course, should've been. Since that is the Word of God upon which the Church is built.

Unfortunately, the speaker doesn't really care much for Scripture. You see the speaker is John Bryson Chane, the Bishop of Washington, D.C. And he's not talking about the power play that was rammed through at GC2K3, but about the members of the confessing churches.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Praying. Debbie told me that the AAC was having a board meeting at Truro today. The room is booked off from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. What is significant is there are two women posted outside the room, praying.
Head of Woman Is Man? I don't normally do this -- repost a webposting -- but I'm doing so today, because these change on a daily basis and the day is almost up.

IVP has the following essay up today, as part of its "Hard Sayings of the Bible" series looking at 1 Corinthians 11:3: "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (NIV) In other words, men are superior to women, just as God is superior to Christ, right? Wrong.

Because so much of the "debate" by the revisionists in the ECUSA has simply been "well we disregarded the what the Bible taught about women, why not disregard it when it comes to homosexuality." The Bible must not be "disregarded" it must be understood -- and sometimes that takes a little work:
These words in 1 Corinthians 11:3 are easily part of one of the most difficult and debated passages in all of Paul's epistles. What, precisely, does he mean when he says that "man is the head of woman"? How are we to understand the assertion of 1 Corinthians 11:7, which follows the "head" passage, that man "is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man"? And finally, who are "the angels" in 11:10, due to whom "the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head"?

These sayings, because they appear in the same immediate context (1 Cor 11:2-16) are closely tied to one another; thus in my interpretation I shall occasionally need to refer to matter treated in one or both of the other sayings.

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 the often-heated debate centers on the meaning of the word head (a literal rendering of the Greek kephale). For most English readers of the text, the common figurative sense of "head" as ruler, leader, chief, boss, director suggests itself almost immediately. Such an understanding of "head" as connoting "authority over" leads to an interpretation of this text (and of Eph 5:22-23) as Paul's teaching about hierarchical order in the relation between men and women. Some who stand within this interpretive tradition go so far as to posit a "chain of command," where authority is passed along: from God to Christ to man to woman.

While the NIV, RSV, NASB and NEB are cautious in their translation, rendering the Greek kephale with its literal English equivalent "head," other contemporary versions opt for a figurative meaning. Thus the TEV renders kephale with "supreme over." The LB's paraphrase becomes even more interpretive when it renders the text: "a wife is responsible to her husband, her husband is responsible to Christ, and Christ is responsible to God."

Even when such explicit interpretations of the term kephale are not employed, the literal "head," as in the NIV, implicitly suggests an interpretation along the same lines because of the common understanding of "head" in English when applied to persons in relationships such as marriage or other institutions. Common phrases like "she is head of the division" or "he is the head of his family" illustrate this everyday metaphorical meaning of "head" in our language.

Apart from the question whether this common English meaning is also the common Greek meaning of "head" when used figuratively, serious issues are raised by such an interpretation. How are we to see the relation between Christ and God? If God occupies a rank superior to Christ, then we have here a revival of the ancient heresy of "subordinationism" and a challenge to the classical doctrine of the Trinity.

Further, if husbands (or men; the Greek word is the same) are under the authority of Christ, and wives (or women; the same Greek word) are under the authority of husbands/men, do we then not have a situation where women stand only in indirect relation to Christ, via their husbands? Such a conclusion is in fact reached by some when they understand the series (God - Christ - Man -Woman) as indicating a "growing distance from God," or by others who extend the "chain of command" to children (on the basis of Eph 5:21--6:4) and maintain that the woman's authority over her children is a "derived" authority; that is, she exercises that authority "on behalf of" her husband.

The core issue in our attempt to grasp Paul's instruction is this: what meaning, or meanings, did the word kephale have in the common Greek language of the New Testament period? How would Greek-speaking Christians in Corinth have heard Paul when he used kephale? And how did this help them understand Paul's instructions concerning appropriate decorum in their public worship (1 Cor 11:4-16)? To answer these questions attention will be given to linguistic data, Paul's use of kephale elsewhere in his epistles, and the thrust of his argument in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.

The linguistic evidence points strongly, if not overwhelmingly, away from the common reading of head as "chief," "ruler," "authority over," though there are many conservative scholars who would challenge this. The most exhaustive Greek-English Lexicon covering Greek literature from about 900 B.C. to A.D. 600, among numerous metaphorical meanings for kephale does not give a single definition to indicate that in ordinary Greek usage it included the meaning "superior rank" or "supreme over" or "leader" or "authority."

What is especially interesting in this lexicographic evidence is that in the 1897 eighth revised edition of this lexicon, the final entry under "metaphorical" meanings is "of persons, a chief." But not a single citation from the literature is given to support or illustrate such a definition. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence, that definition is not included in the later editions. However, among the range of meanings which kephale had in ordinary Greek were "origin" or "source" or "starting point" and "crown" or "completion" or "consummation." As we shall see below, these meanings do far greater justice to the Pauline usages of kephale than the "authority" nuances conveyed by the English "head."

Strong support for the linguistic evidence (that is, that the metaphorical range of meanings of kephale did not normally include the ideas of "authority over" or "superior rank") comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called the Septuagint) made between approximately 250-150 B.C. by a large group of Jewish scholars for the Jews living outside Palestine whose first, and sometimes only, language was Greek.

Like the English word "head" and the Greek word kephale, the Hebrew word ro's has first of all the literal meaning "head of man or beast." But like English and Greek, it also has numerous figurative meanings. In an exhaustive study of how the Septuagint translators rendered the Hebrew word ro's, the following data emerged. In the more than 200 times when it refers to a physical head, the translators almost always used kephale. About 180 times, ro's clearly has the figurative meaning of "leader" or "chief" or "authority figure" of a group. There is thus a close similarity between the English "head" and the Hebrew ro's; figuratively, both frequently designate an authority figure.

When the translators, however, sought the appropriate Greek word to render this figurative meaning, they used not kephale but archon (and its derivatives) in the great majority of cases (138 times). Archon means "ruler," "commander," "leader." Its derivatives include meanings such as "authority," "chief," "captain," "prince," "chief of tribe," "head of family." Most of the remaining occurrences of ro's (when it designates an authority figure) are translated by several other specific Greek words (such as hegeomai, "to have dominion over"). In only eight out of 180 cases was kephale used to translate ro's when it designated the leader or ruler of a group. It is very possible that one of the figurative meanings of kephale (namely, "top" or "crown") allowed the translator to use it in describing a prominent individual. It may also be that in these few cases one of the Septuagint translators simply used the literal equivalent for ro's, namely kephale (since both mean "head"). This is in fact what happens all too frequently in any translation when it is too literal. The exact equivalent may, in fact, distort the meaning conveyed by the original in its own context.

It is clear from this data that the Greek translators were keenly aware that kephale did not normally have a metaphorical meaning equivalent to that of ro's.

This linguistic evidence, which suggests that the idea of "authority over" was not native to the Greek kephale, has led numerous scholars to see behind Paul's use of "head" either the meaning "source, origin" or "top, crown, completion."

Another factor to take into consideration is that nowhere else in the New Testament is kephale used to designate a figure of authority. If that had been a prominent meaning, it could have served well in numerous places in the Gospels where the head or master of a household appears; yet it is never used to convey this meaning (see, for example, Mt 10:25; 13:52; Lk 13:25; 14:21).

If the readers of Paul's Greek did not hear our "headship" concept in the word kephale, but rather the idea of "source, origin," what did it convey to them, and how did that meaning in 11:3 lay the foundation for Paul's admonitions about appropriate hair length and decorum in public worship? Cyril of Alexandria, an important Greek-speaking leader of the church in the fourth century, commenting on this text wrote: "Thus we say that the kephale of every man is Christ, because he was excellently made through him. And the kephale of woman is man, because she was taken from his flesh. Likewise, the kephale of Christ is God, because he is from him according to nature."

This interpretation meets all the requirements of the passage and its context, and at the same time sheds light on several other of Paul's statements where both Christ and the man are designated as "head" of something or someone (Eph 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:15-20; 2:19). Paul, as other New Testament writers, affirms Christ as the one by whom all things were created (Jn 1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16). Thus Paul can say that Christ, as God's agent of creation, gave the first man, and thus every man, life ("Christ is the source of man's life"). Such a meaning is confirmed by the fact that in the same passage (1 Cor 11:7-9) he clearly has the creation narrative of Genesis 1--2 in mind. Though it is obvious that, in a final sense, Christ/God is also the source of the woman's life (1 Cor 11:12), Paul is here considering the sequence of creation of the human species in Genesis 2.

This temporal, sequential thought continues in the sentence "And the head of the woman is man" (that is, "the man is the source of woman's life"). According to Genesis 2:21-23 Adam is the origin of Eve's being. And it is precisely this Old Testament text which Paul has in mind (1 Cor 11:8, 12). That "source" is the appropriate meaning of kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is confirmed by Paul's "source" language in his appeal to Genesis 2.

Behind this temporal sequence stands God ("everything comes from God"; that is, God is the source of everything; see 1 Cor 8:6). Therefore, "the head of Christ is God" (that is, the source of Christ's being is God). Cyril of Alexandria said, "the kephale of Christ is God because he is from him according to nature" (emphasis mine). Though Cyril's language reflects the later trinitarian discussion, his affirmation is solidly grounded in the New Testament. According to John 1:1-14, the Word, which was God and was with God, came forth and became flesh in the Incarnation. In John 8:42, 13:3 and 16:27 Jesus is said to have come from God.

It would therefore seem best to translate 1 Corinthians 11:3 as "I want you to understand that Christ is the source of man's being; the man is the source of woman's being; and God is the source of Christ's being." When read like this, it lays a solid foundation for, and sheds light on, the rest of the passage (1 Cor 11:4-16), in which the next two hard sayings are located.

See also comment on GENESIS 2:18; 1 CORINTHIANS 11:7; 11:10.


Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 2 vols., rev. H. S. Jones and R. McKenzie (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), 1:944-45.

Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "What Does Kephale Mean in the New Testament?" in Women, Authority and the Bible, ed. Alvera Mickelsen (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), pp. 97-110.

See, for example, Stephen Bedale, "The Meaning of Kephale in the Pauline Epistles," Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 5 (1954): 211-15; C. K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Harper & Row, 1968); H. N. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of Theology, trans. J. Richard deWitt (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1975), pp. 379-82; S. Scott Bartchy, "Power, Submission, and Sexual Identity Among the Early Christians," in Essays on New Testament Christianity, ed. C. R. Wetzel (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 1978), pp. 50-80.

G. W. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 749.
I heartily recommend the book that this comes from: Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce and Manfred T. Brauch

No Confirmation. Since it made the newspaper, I can confirm that one of the things Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro, announced (albeit in response to a question) was that Bishop Lee has been advised that he will not be welcomed to perform confirmations at Truro Church.

When the question was posed, Martyn collected himself a moment and made that disclosure. Martyn indicated that he had communicated that decision to Peter Lee, so it was appropriate to disclose it to the wider body. It was very obvious to me that this particular issue was extremely difficult for Rev. Minns. I can attest that Martyn does have a deep respect for Bishop Peter Lee -- as I think most of us at Truro. This is what makes his betrayal all the much more difficult.

For the record, this was what the Washington Times reported:
At Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, the second-largest parish in the diocese with a $3.5 million annual budget and 1,700 worshippers at weekend services, church leaders decided to halt confirmation classes altogether rather than risk a confrontation.
"Our youth ministers threatened to quit teaching confirmation [classes] because their parents won't let Peter Lee physically touch their children," said the Rev. Herb McMullan, head of outreach ministries. "In their minds, he is apostate."
Truro typically has 50 to 60 children per fall class.
No Bad Place to Be Thanks to an e-mail message from Oregon, I am drawn to this essay from N.T. Wright, the new Bishop of Durham. This short essay is richly packed with thought provoking ideas and observations("...the church turns out to be in pain at the point where the world is in pain. That's no bad place to be.")

+Wright notes the Primates in their joint letter are "moving . . . towards a more definite position of teaching (though not juridical) authority." (Yet, as I noted last night, action inconsistent with this authority will bring grave consequences.

Last, this brief paragraph applies not only to the Robinson/NewWest issues but to most conversations in the public square:
Our cultural history has left us disabled in our moral discourse. The rhetoric of progress on the one hand ("Now that we're living in the 21st century") and victimhood on the other ("My pain is worse than yours, so I claim the high moral ground") are poor substitutes for clear thinking and robust argument. Look what they have done in the Middle East.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Démarche. As I was listening to Martyn discussing the Primates statement from last week, it occurred to me that this is more of a demarche, which generally refers to a "formal diplomatic communication of a country's position on an issue, presented to an official representative of another country." In this instance, however, it's more of traditional demarche -- a statement setting forth boundaries to not be crossed or action to be taken and if the appropriate action is not taken, grave and serious consequences will be taken. Duhaime's internet law dictionary has this definition of a demarche:
A word coined by the diplomatic community and referring to a strongly worded warning by one country to another and often, either explicitly or implicitly, with the threat of military consequence. Demarches are often precursors to hostilities or war. In September, 1996, for example, US President Clinton issued a demarche to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when intelligence reports showed troops massing along the border of Kurd communities.
In short, if ECUSA goes through with the Robinson ordination, it (ECUSA) will be responsible for the tearing apart of the fabric of the Anglican Communion.
...What Living Word ... I received my response today to my statement and questions submitted after the “Community Meeting” at St. John’s, McLean. I am disappointed to say that Peter Lee did not answer my questions set forth in my statement. I did add an additional question, which the Bishop did respond to:
If I were given additional time, I would ask many more questions, however one thing you said during the meeting troubles me. You stated: “My reading of scripture convinces me that the Gospel is ever-increasing its power to erase the barriers that we human beings erect among ourselves.” By this do you mean to say that you believe the passages in Scripture relating to homosexual practices and the requirement of fidelity within marriage are barriers erected by human beings? Do you see why this troubles me? The Episcopal Church holds and I believe, the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God; so called “because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.” Do you really believe that the Scriptures are human made barriers? I think I must be misunderstanding you and welcome clarification.
In his letter, dated October 20, 2003, Peter Lee responds, (the entire letter):
I appreciate receiving a copy of your comments that you would have made at the meeting at St. John’s Church, McLean. I do most certainly believe that over the centuries, Christians have used the scriptures to erect barriers between human beings. We have done that in our relationship to Jewish people, in dealing with the place of women in the Church, and even in the support of many Christians for slavery. As I said in my statement at the community meetings, I believe that God is ever-increasing the power of scripture to put down the barriers that divide us and to unite us in Christ. With you, I believe the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and that each generation needs to search the scripture to see what living word God has to speak to that generation.
Bradley v. Sullivan. The ever-brilliant Catholic philosopher and Thomas More-like attorney Peter Sean Bradley exquisitely fisks the craven Andrew Sullivan.

Personally, I gave up reading Sully awhile ago -- he is too dishonest for my tastes. Nevertheless, Bradley's effort is excellent.
Gay Martyr? So now Robinson is planning on meeting with the ABC. If he steps back from ordination, he makes himself a gay martyr.

Please remember that this is not solely about Gene ("God wants a gay bishop") Robinson. The ECUSA has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions which is contrary to Scripture. The Canandian Diocese of New Westminster has already been agressively doing this as well and has been persecuting anyone who disagrees.

If Robinson steps down, this does not end.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Down... but not out.

I came back from Oregon with a bad bug that's wiped me out. Also, I don't think I've checked e-mail for nearly a week. Will try to do so tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Some other items. Consider these news reports for the background of what went on at Lambeth and the gradual fallout:
  • There were reports that Peter Akinola's life was threatened.
  • There was one report that the first stumbling block at the meeting was the fact that the Primates were not in communion with one-another. See this report. Contrary to that report (which seems to indicate that the Primates were pushed to communion only after being threatened), it is my understanding that the Primates were brought to the communion table by the nature of the sacrament itself -- that it is the Lord's sacrament, along with the fact that it was celebrated by Rowan Williams and not, say, Frank Griswold.
  • As reported here and other places -- one or more Primates from the Global South indicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury ("ABC") that the draft schedule did not leave room for the open discussions necessary. Furthermore, John L Peterson, Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council was excluded from the meetings.
  • Four Bishops and a number of American Clergy were in London assisting the Primates, particularly those from the Global South. The next day, following the conclusion of the Primates meetings, this group had breakfast with Rowan Williams. One of the four Bishops in attendance was John Howe -- his report is here.
  • Be on the lookout for "episcopal oversight" to be sought by minority parishes (the confessing churches as I've called them in the past -- borrowing from our sisters and brothers in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches) in New Westminister and Colorado, among other places.
  • Parish Meeting. I went to the Truro meeting this afternoon. Basically, it was just a review of what happened this past week and a look at the Primate's statement. Martyn Minns did start the meeting saying he wanted it to be off the record and he specifically didn't want to see that he be quoted on the internet. So I abide by those wishes.

    I'd say if you read Martyn's updates from London and the analysis of the Primate's statement on the Communion Parishes website, you got about 80-90% of what was brought up. The remaining percentage constitutes mostly small things.