August 18, 2010

It’s My Fault that Leander Harding is not a Bishop

Filed under: The Episcopal Church — William Witt @ 6:58 am

We all have hobbies. My friend and colleague Leander Harding seems to like to run in episcopal elections. I don’t know how many times he has run, but he likely holds some kind of a record, and he has never won. Actually, he does not seem to run, so much as people keep nominating him. In the last few months, he was nominated in both the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande (New Mexico) and the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield (Illinois). In both cases, the clergy and laity chose candidates who were (speaking strictly objectively) both pastorally and academically less qualified than Leander to be a bishop. I speculate as to why this is the case, but have been convinced that the problem is that he is too orthodox, and too smart. The elected bishop in Rio Grande (formerly an orthodox Episcopal diocese) is a revisionist, and I expect this means the end of orthodoxy in that diocese, as orthodox parishes will either leave for the ACNA or will die.

Over at Virtueononline, David Virtue noticed this anomaly, and posted a piece on his blog asking about why it is that in the Episcopal election at Springfield, not only Leander, but other far more qualified candidates, like Robert Munday, Dean of Nashotah House, were passed by. The very first comment to appear was by the Rev. Tom Woodward of Santa Fe, NM, a retired Liberal Protestant priest who lives in the Diocese of Rio Grande. Tom and I had met before online. Tom wrote to respond to Virtue’s column about Springfield, but in passing offered some interesting information about why Leander Harding was not elected in Rio Grande. (more…)

August 12, 2010

Does God Change His Mind?

Filed under: Metaphysics — William Witt @ 5:11 am

The following appeared in the comments section on a blog in answer to the question of whether prayer “changes God’s mind.”

If God could change His mind, then He would be learning from and therefore be dependent upon His own creation.  He would be growing from good to better, from wise to wiser.  He would in short be deprived of some of the essential characteristics of Deity – His Omniscience and Timelessness.

The writer was a Calvinist, but I have heard Thomists (of which I am one) make similar kinds of statements. While I do not believe that creatures can make God “change his mind,” I have always been troubled by the more sophisticated metaphysical assertion that really lies behind the claim — that God in no way responds to creatures, and that contingent actions of creatures do not make any difference to God’s knowledge. If they did, God would depend on creatures for that knowledge, and God’s would change, either for the better or the worst, etc. While this position is common among Calvinists and Banezian Thomists, I do not believe it is Thomas’s own position, and I find it problematic because it inevitably leads to determinism–a position Thomas rejects.

I replied as follows: (more…)

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