Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sacramental vs. gnostic

Not long after Rowan Williams was named archbishop of Canterbury, George Weigel had a ninety minute conversation with him at his London office in Lambeth Palace, during which Weigel gave Dr. Williams "a copy of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II". The two then discussed Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. This led to a conversation about "the difference between 'sacramental' and 'gnostic' understandings of the human condition. The former insists that the stuff of the world – including maleness, femaleness, and their complementarity — has truths built into it; gnostics say it’s all plastic, all malleable, all changeable. The sacramentalists believe that the extraordinary reveals itself through the ordinary: bread, wine, water, salt, marital love and fidelity; the gnostics say it’s a matter of superior wisdom, available to the enlightened (which can mean, the politically correct). Dr. Williams seemed convinced that the gnosticism of a lot of western high culture posed a great danger to historic Christianity and the truths it must proclaim."

The end of the Anglican Communion, by George Weigel

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