Your Budde

Religious liberals are in the difficult position of having to defend their innovations against the testimony of Scripture and Tradition. Both of these, it’s argued, are the final arbiters of our ecclesial decision making. The one is the revealed Word of God, containing “all things necessary for salvation” and the other is nothing less than the teaching authority of Christ, handed down to us through the Apostles. Being consonant with these, then, equates with authentic Christianity. 

This leaves the proponent of, for example, the ordination of women, or gay marriage, with few options. They can simply ignore the argument altogether, awkwardly attempt to revise the meaning of opposing texts and church doctrine, or more attractively, posit a new authority altogether, one which trumps Scripture and Tradition. This new authority, we’re told, is “experience”.

Dr. Mariann Budde, newly elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. makes the point well. Debating with Kendall Harmon on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), Budde states:

“It seems to me a very naive understanding of how change really does occur to say that we all need to get together in a room and argue this out because it’s by lived experience and seeing how people that we thought are very different from us, just as the early Christians who were Jewish tried to... [but they] grabbed [the]reality that Gentiles were being accepted into the communion called the church. That didn’t happen because they thought it out; it happened because they saw lives transformed and people that they thought so different from them coming to know Christ in the same way that they did...”

The argument here is simple, it’s by doing things and experiencing their result that we come to believe in the things we do. To put it another way, experience drives doctrine. It sounds convincing, as long as we forget that the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) notoriously involved a group of men getting together in a room and “arguing it out” - or that St. Paul presumably preached to the gentiles because he thought it right. None of that took place? Really? But Budde isn’t being naive, she’s being disingenuous, using the unsuspecting 1st century gentiles as a Trojan horse for gay advocacy, all in the name of the primacy of experience. She continues:

“I think it is very dangerous to take our understanding of marriage and fidelity in relationships and try to imagine that even what Jesus was saying... because understandings of marriage in that time and that eras is [sic] very different from how people may experience marriage today. And to imagine that Jesus was speaking to the kind of realities that we are addressing now in same-gender, lifelong, committed relationships is just a huge distortion of the Palestinian world view that he was addressing... It flies in the face of everything we know about now about how the Holy Spirit moves and works with us over time.”

So much for Scripture and Tradition, both slain by the stainless steel sword of liberal experientialism. We experience marriage rather differently than Jesus did, evidently, and that understanding, which somehow argues in favor of “same-gender, lifelong, committed relationships”, wins out for Budde. It is just this, contemporary experience, flowing from one of the most disbelieving ages in Western history, that we are being asked to believe is sanctioned by the Holy Spirit.

Experience, in fact, argues otherwise. The experience of the Anglican Communion, brought on by those who have abandoned the Faith for the secularist project of liberalising the church is plain to see. Litigation, schism and scandal that reaches far beyond the confines of the world’s third largest denomination. All that and more would have been avoided by genuine obedience to experience, to the experience of the church throughout the ages, to the consensus fidelium, the consensus of the faithful, grounded in the revealed Word of God and Christ-given Apostolic Tradition.

We must pray that the new alignment of Anglicanism on our continent, the Anglican Church Church in North America (ACNA), will let itself be ruled by such authority.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.