Dissent Among the Deans

As part of the discussion in the thread about inappropriate responses to the Tsunami tragedies, it was noted that Immanuel Rant had criticised the Anglican Dean of Sydney, Phillip Jensen’s remarks about God’s will… Dean Jensen was quoted as saying “the will of God involved His creation of the world but it also involved His judgment on the sinfulness of humanity”. As predicted by Troppo, Dean Jensen now claims “the statement was taken out of context, and it now was the time to help victims of the disaster; philosophical debate should be left until later.”

The Catholic Dean of Sydney, Neil Brown, has a different opinion:

At a Mass dedicated to victims of the tsunami, Father Brown told a congregation at St Mary’s yesterday that humans could not know the will of God. “It [that such disasters are God’s will] is not a Catholic belief, and it’s a rather horrible belief when you begin to think about it,” he said.

ELSEWHERE: Rob Corr updates the story at Kick and Scream. Graham at Virulent Memes also has his say.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

It is of no surprise that the thirteenth chspter of Luke backs up Philip Jensen,is dean his brother?.

A further reading of job would indicate everything is under God’s control however we will never know why this occurred in this life.

Catholic belief and Christian belief are usually but not always two different things.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Dean’s a title, Homer. I used to know the son of the Anglican Dean of Brisbane. His dad went into a chemist shop and when asked for his name for a lable said “Dean Grimshaw”. The pharmacy assistant typed “Mr D. Grimshaw”. So horrified was he that future visits to the pharmacy led to him saying his name was “The Very Reverend Arthur Grimshaw”.

On the other hand, you may be right. How many Jensen brothers are there with ecclesiastical preferments in Sydney?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Another example of Sydney anglicans unable to rid itself of its catholic origins.
how ironic in Sydney!

given their understanding ofthe bible I wouldn’t mind a walton’s family of Jensens!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Well, Homer, I gather that Mr Jensen did shake up St. Andrew’s Cathedral on his appointment by trying to get rid of the tradition of choral services. Pity – Anglican plainchant and the settings for Matins and Evensong really are beautiful.

Alan
2022 years ago

Any number of Jensens now work for the Sydney Anglican archdiocese, including the archbishop and his brother the dean. Given Anglican Sydney’s passion for all things low church, I would have thought calling them Catholic the rough equivalent of calling the Man of Steel a Green. I would have thought excitable statements about the difference between Christian and Catholic belief belonged back in the Wars of Religion rather than this century.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Interesting, C.L., but I prefer what JP had to say:

In Rome yesterday, Pope John Paul II addressed the challenge to faith posed by the disaster, saying that with the birth of Jesus, God “has come to share our existence.”

“Faith teaches us that the most difficult and painful trials —

C.L.
2022 years ago

I didn’t post the story link because I preferred the sentiment. I was horrified by the f****ing idiocy of it.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

But if you believe god is omnipotent (hence also omniscient) then it is not logically possible to simultaneously believe she is benevolent while any substantial suffering – whether through natural or human causes – exists in the world. The only ways out of this dificulty are to deny god’s omnipotence (a la the Manicheans), deny god’s benevolence, or (with Liebniz) assert that the structure of logic is such that this is the best of all possible worlds (ie has the best logically possible ratio of good to evil) – a very curious and dubious proposition.

The traditional monotheist (including both Catholic and Protestant christian) response is to bleat that we cannot know what god’s purposes are (“Can’st catch leviathan with a hook?”). That’s what the mainstream reponse has been (Jensen’s view that this is obviously a part of divine justice that we can all understand is strictly unorthodox, though historically very popular – it is the position that the Book of Job set out to refute). But the mainstream response doesn’t address the problem, which I repeat is a logical one. AFAICT the only way out is to either deny divine omnipotence (in which what good is she to us?) or deny divine benevolence (in which case where is the emotional comfort? And absent emotional reasons, what practical ones are there for such a belief?)

If God was just the innocent would not suffer. If God was merciful neither would the guilty.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sorry, C.L., I thought so and agree with you. It’s hard to tell sometimes when people just post links without commentary. I’d have been surprised if you’d agreed with those views and I apologise if it sounded like I thought you did…

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

derrida derider, I agree with your characterisation of the problem of theodicy.

There was something about this in The Age:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/God-alone-knows-why-there-is-suffering-on-Earth/2005/01/02/1104601236069.html

La Comte de Tweed Hds Nursing Centre
La Comte de Tweed Hds Nursing Centre
2022 years ago

Christian scripture instructs that God loves and cares for every part of His Creation, and apparently most of all for each member of humanity.

The problem people have with earthly suffering is that, very understandably, humanity’s entire focus is on earthly existence, as that is all we have any experience of, but God sees our entire existence, of which this earthly life is an immeasurably small fragment. We should probably refrain from criticism of parts of God’s plan for humanity only when we know that plan in full, which we can never do as we have not the mind of God.

There has always been difficulty in accepting that God is not only loving, but also jealous, vengeful and wrathful. In humanity these are negative attributes, but obviously different standards apply to God from whom only good can comes. Certainly, after the flood, God swore to desist from any direct pre-Judgement Day retributive act. However, as He is omnipotent, He allowed the destruction of the tsunami to occur.

The Dean of Sydney, Philip Jensen, is quite correct from a scriptural perspective in saying that natural disasters are premonitory of Judgement Day. However, as a very well grounded orthodox Christian scholar, he did not say, and I’m sure did not intend to imply, that the tsunami was a specific retributive Act of God for humanity’s sinfulness.

yellowvinyl
yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

my French isn’t as good as it was when I was living in Switzerland, but shouldn’t that be either (Monsieur) Le Comte de etc. or (Madame) La Comtesse de etc.?