Proof-texting with canons
There’s been much discussion on the email list for the House of Bishops/Deputies about the San Joaquin situation. One person asked why it wasn’t OK to have parallel jurisdictions — that is, why the Southern Cone shouldn’t have congregations and dioceses in the USA. An answer came back: because it says so in the canons of the Council of Nicea.
Fair enough. That is what the canons say. But we seem to ignore most of the canons of Nicea. If we’re going to base current policy (and polity) on ancient canons, what else must we do? Well, for one thing, we need to remove Archbishop Rowan Wiliams. The very same canon that seems to forbid parallel jurisdictions is really about the translation of bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury was translated from another see, so he is not compliant with the ancient canons. What are things must change in our church, if we’re to be “Nicea compliant”?
Clergy mustn’t live with women to whom they’re unrelated (which presumes that priests & bishops are all men, by the way). Priests and deacons need to stay in their cities (see cities) of ordination. No Christians may accept usury. Deacons may not communicate bishops or priests, nor may they receive the Eucharist before priests. If fact, deacons may not even sit among priests. Finally, kneeling is forbidden on Sundays and during Eastertide.
How is it OK to cite the canons of Nicea and then not actually follow all of them? Why might some canons still carry the force of law and not others?
Right. There’s no sense to it. If we’re going to oppose parallel jurisdictions, let’s come up with solid reasons. Lambeth resolutions might be a good reason. Maybe there are others. If we progressives are going to accuse conservatives of selectively reading the Bible and canons, we should make sure we’re not doing the same thing.