The Three Legged Stool

The Three Legged Stool

Canon Kaeton wrote this as a private exchange with another person with whom we both are in conversation. She has graciously permitted me to share it here. -- Lutibelle/Louie


Louie copied me your letter to him, no doubt because I am mentioned in it.

Let me make a point about the importance of "balance" with the Three-Legged Stool.

Yes, Hooker did stress the primacy of Scripture. I believe Scripture to be of critical importance to our faith. So does Louie. It is one of the things we have in common and one of the ways we are bound together in Christ and in love.

We just celebrated Trinity Sunday. Can you tell me where, in Scripture, we find mention of the Trinity? It's like Prego Sauce: "it's in there" -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But, where, specifically, is the Trinity mentioned in Holy Scripture?

The answer is that it is not. This is an important part of our Tradition which came from our own intellect (Reason). The doctrine of the Trinity came to us, in part, because of our ability to "make the connections" between our God-given reason and the scripture given to us by God. Without this connection and the tradition of Church which God also gave to us, we would not have one of the essential mysteries of our faith. Certainly, our lives would be the poorer for the loss of this doctrine of our faith.

As for the clarity of scripture on homosexuality, well, scripture is very clear on a number of issues, isn't it? And yet, we seem to be able to apply our ability to reason and make some sense of what scripture is saying to us in our day.

For example, Jesus is very, very clear about divorce, isn't he? Indeed, He has some hard things to say to and about people who divorce. And yet, in the mid 1970's, the Episcopal Church changed its canon law about divorce. (And, thanks be to God, for without it, more than half of the Episcopal Church -- including many in the House of Bishops -- would be standing outside that welcoming red door to the Church.)

Scripture is shot through with the oppression of certain groups of people which even Jesus seems to condone: women, slaves, Samaritans. As a Galilean, Jesus himself was ridiculed by the "religiously pure" Jews in Jerusalem, so it seems strange that one who was, himself, no stranger to prejudice, seems also to be condoning the kind of prejudice which leads to a system of oppression.

It's only strange if one does not use one's God-given reason. The words of Jesus were reported through the mouths of men of their own time and culture. As followers of Christ, our central task is, as one previous Lambeth conference seems to have forgotten it said, "in all things, seek the mind of Christ". This is the logic which was used to change the canon on divorce, to condemn slavery, and to allow women full access to the councils of the church. And, please God, it will be used to condemn and end the prejudice experienced by God's lesbian and gay people.

The 1998 Lambeth Conference did real damage to 'the Spirit of Anglicanism' by forgetting it's own words and opinions as to how we, as Anglicans, make decisions. Each one of us may have our own fondness for a particular leg of the stool, but we do not hold one leg higher than the other, despite what Hooker said. To do so is to act at our own peril: we will loose our balance and find ourselves falling flat on our backsides. This is precisely what happened at Lambeth 1998. As the Lambeth Conference of 50 years previous had determined for itself, the Spirit of Anglicanism is fostered by a commitment which leads us to, "in all things, seek the mind of Christ".

This is my commitment. I know it is the commitment of Louie. It is how we are able to love one another despite our disagreements. (Yes, even Louie and I disagree on occasion)

Perhaps . . just maybe . . . if we let go of fondness for this graven image and, instead, sought the mind of Christ (or, as the kids ask, WWJD, what would Jesus do?), we might find that a great deal of the noxious vapors which emanated from the 1998 Lambeth Resolutions might begin to dissipate and we could all breathe easier again.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, "The Lord of the Church would not be where the Church is on the issue of homosexuality." From everything I have read in scripture, I believe that to be true.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness. Since you did not solicit this response from me, you owe me none.

God Bless you and the work you do in Jesus' name.

Elizabeth Kaeton


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