Chicago Studies Editorial Board Thomas Baima
Melanie Susan Barrett
Founding Editor George Dyer
CHICAGO STUDIES is edited by members of the faculty of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary for the continuing theological development of priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers. The editors welcome articles and letters likely to be of interest to our readers. Views expressed in the articles are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of the editorial board. All communications regarding articles and editorial policy should be addressed to email@example.com. Indexed in The Catholic Periodical & Literature Index and New Testament Abstracts.
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Developing Ideas Editor’s Corner Fall 2018/Winter 2019 By: Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima, S.T.D. This issue of Chicago Studies presents essays which were originally public lectures. The first two essays summarize the papers of the 2018-19 Chester and Margaret Paluch Lecture Series at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. The third and fourth essays were originally keynote addresses at the Diaconal Convocation of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Both represent an important exercise in “the development of ideas.” The Paluch Professor of Theology, Elizabeth Y. Sung, is an Evangelical theologian in the Reformed tradition. Fr. John Kartje invited her to serve as a visiting professor at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake to help us as an academic community to engage the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with some depth and nuance. To do that meant that she had to approach Catholic Christianity with similar depth of engagement. She did this by studying the work of two previous visiting distinguished scholars at Mundelein, Dr. Christian Smith and Bishop Robert McElroy. The Paluch professorship allows a visiting professor time for research and writing. Dr. Sung has used this time to work on two books, one on racism and one on theological anthropology. Her lectures share the fruits of that research. In the first essay offers us a sustained engagement of one of the issues that has been a struggle since long before the establishment of the American Republic, racism. This is a hard topic. We confront it daily in the media, in the workplace and in our neighborhoods and parishes. We know racism has a long history. We are all aware the attitudes about race and inseparable from power and privilege. But Dr. Sung traces the origins and institutionalization of “race” in the United States, exposing just how embedded this idea is in our culture. I worked for five years as assistant to Msgr. John J. Egan, one of the leaders in urban affairs in the 20th century. After many advances in racial equality were encoded in law in the 1960’s and 1970’s church-related social action began to change. With Msgr. Egan, we evolved the Chicago Conference on Religion and Race into the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, to give the religious institutions a clearing house for public action. But now, fifty years after the height of the civil rights movement, we still see serious problems of inter-group relations and prejudice, and on a surprisingly wide scale, here and abroad. Throughout these years, scholars of social science have been exploring questions of race from new perspectives. Aided by these data, theologians are engaging racism in new ways, especially through the lens of theological anthropology. Dr. Sung will take us to that intersection between social science and theology and there drop us on our heads with the contention that “race” as we have understood it, does not exist. And she will point us toward an alternative that is biblically and theologically sound. In the second essay, Dr. Sung engages two different goals. The first is to offer a fresh view of love through an analysis of two biblical terms, agape and eros. The second is to explore the unique methodology of Evangelical theology which she terms “scriptural discourse.” First, she sets up her theological methodology, realizing that her audience is almost entirely Catholic, with a careful definition of the relationships of authority between the sources of theology: scripture, tradition, reason and experience. I found it interesting to see that the fundamental difference between myself as a Catholic theologian and Dr. Sung as an Evangelical theologian did not lie in
different sources, but in the relationship of the sources to each other. When she says scripture is the ultimate authority, she echoes Pope Saint John Paul II when he writes about the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. He calls Sacred Scripture “the highest authority in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God.” (Ut Unum Sint, no. 79) There is an interesting conversation Catholics need to have in our own house about whether in our discomfort with sola scriptura we have neglected to grant scripture the highest authority. Dr. Sung’s argument about methodology, even if we disagree in the end, is an occasion for mutual enrichment. She herself is certainly looking for such mutual enrichment. In developing her exploration of Agape and Eros, she analyzes the work of three bishops and a philosopher. Two are Protestant (a Lutheran and an Evangelical) and two are Catholic (both Bishops of Rome). Dr. Sung’s own contribution comes in the synthesis she offers from her method of scriptural discourse. In the end, she takes us to the point of understanding more deeply what it means to flourish in God’s love for humankind. The third and fourth essays in this issue are my own. They were delivered as lectures at the Diaconal Convocation of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, at Saint Paul the Apostle Parish in Racine, Wisconsin, March 11, 2017. The represent some theological issues around the restored diaconate. I have been involved with promotion of the restored diaconate since I was a deacon. As an ecclesiologist with interests in Eastern Christianity, I have always envisioned the sacramental ministry of the Church as three-fold. As I first read the Documents of Vatican II the teaching on the diaconate as a permanent order resonated with what I knew from Eastern Orthodoxy. It seemed to me to be an example of the sister churches mutually enriching each other. When I was ordained a deacon as part of formation for priesthood, I personally discovered the depth and richness of this order, such that when asked “When were you ordained?” I always answer saying “I was ordained a deacon in 1979 and then to the priesthood in 1980.” Throughout my priestly ministry I have served in parishes with exemplary deacons. In fact, I am always somewhat surprised to go to a parish that does not have the ministry of deacons. Yet, the understanding of the diaconate is a developing idea. Unlike the Eastern Church, which never abandoned the diaconate as a permanent order, the Western Church had to re-learn how a permanent diaconate fit into the sacramental life of the Body of Christ. In my two essays, I try to offer a different approach to the theology of the diaconate shaped by my study of Eastern Christianity from one side and the developing theology of the baptized from the Western side. From these two vantage points, I focus on a rarely articulated fact: The Catholic Church chooses her priests, (presbyters and bishops) solely from the order of deacons. Any theology we have needs to make sense of that fact.
Understanding the Roots of “Race” and Racism in U.S. Society: A Historical and Sociological Perspective By Elizabeth Y. Sung, Ph.D. Introduction This essay is the first of a two-part series addressing the concept of “race” 1 as a topic within the purview of theological anthropology, albeit one seldom treated in systematic theology. The initial study examines the origins of the concept of “race” that underpins the social beliefs and practical norms by which human beings are understood and everyday life is organized in the contemporary world, with special attention to the societal context of the United States as an exemplar. 2 As such, it lays the ground-work for a subsequent essay, which appropriates several important sociological concepts to analyze some of the principal effects of the racialization of society, with a view to engaging in specifically theological reflection upon the claims and practices associated with “race” in relation to beliefs about Christian identity (already formed in a modern individualist culture and a racialized society). The latter will be developed drawing on resources from moral theology in dialogue with Scripture. In focusing specifically on race and racialization, this essay also offers a perspective that complements—even as it overlaps with—the fundamentally ethnic lens through which United States history and society is interpreted in Bishop Robert McElroy presentation. Although the terms “race” and “ethnicity” are often used interchangeably, or in a conflationary manner, their referents are quite distinct, as will be seen. On Recovering a National Identity: Bishop Robert McElroy Bishop Robert McElroy begins his Cardinal Meyer lecture, “An Errand into the Wilderness: The Vocation of the Catholic Community in Healing Our Nation,” 3 by recalling two important moments during the colonial period as emblematic standards of reference. First, he draws attention to the claim that John Winthrop made in a 1630 sermon casting a vision of the ideal society to be created by the New World-bound company of English Separatist immigrants. 4 Winthrop mined Old and New Testament teaching to draw numerous analogies between the Israelites’ call and ensuing history and the Puritan colonists’ project: establishing their own covenantal community as “a model of Christian charity.” 5 The consequences of maintaining a fervent constancy toward God and diligently walking in his ways would be far-reaching: For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world. 6 By invoking these biblical themes, Winthrop claimed for “this work we have undertaken” a kind of religious and moral significance on the world-stage akin to that of Israel and the church in redemptive history.
In a programmatic essay, An Errand into the Wilderness, historian Perry Miller argues that the first-generation Puritan colonists were self-consciously English: the aim of their “errand” into the hinterlands was to establish the cause of Calvinist Protestantism in a “new England,” vindicating it before a European audience. But this ambitious project had lost steam by the 1650s and 60s: an irreparable division developed between Congregationalists and Presbyterians, and Puritanism had weakened in the England after the Civil War. In his 1670 election-day sermon, “A Brief Recognition of New England’s Errand into the Wilderness,” second-generation Puritan minister Samuel Danforth lamented the religious and moral change in the “temper, complexion and countenance of the churches” of his day as a deviation from the original “Cause.” 7 For Danforth and other leaders, the state of the Puritan “errand in the wilderness” raised painful questions about the causes of drift from the founding vision, and spurred a reassessment of their reason for existence. According to Miller, “having failed to rivet the eyes of the world upon their city on the hill, they were left alone with America,” 8 forced to rework inherited forms and to assemble new ones to make existential and practical sense of the conditions of life on the frontier. Miller thus treats the biblical image of a Christian society as a “city on the hill” commanding worldwide admiration (the first-generation settlers’ aim) and the state of disarray of that “errand in the wilderness” (creating an identity crisis for their descendants) as defining motifs and moments in the history of the United States. Together, they form part of a larger frame for interpreting the building of the nation as marked by movements of progress or decline toward realizing the ideals articulated and shared by English colonists from the outset. Bishop McElroy cites them as a kind of hermeneutical key that illumines our own situation. Specifically, he suggests that the current state of society, seen in the rancorous discourse and actions of a bitterly divided population, resembles the latter: the body politic is at war with itself in no small part because the nation has, to a significant degree, lost its historic moral bearings. He proposes that U.S. Catholics can contribute to the healing of the nation’s soul—corroded by a resurgent tribalism fueled by hyper-partisanship in the public square—if they face the crisis in contemporary political culture unflinchingly. The task is to “reforge ties of unity and purpose,” and it consists of three “errands into the wilderness.” The first errand is to recover the once-inarguable consensus that the unique national identity of the United States lies in its composition as a nation of immigrants. American Catholics—a quintessentially immigrant church—can lead the way in recalling and bearing witness to this identity. Affective conversion can be fostered—within and beyond congregational boundaries—by drawing on the resources of Catholic social teaching and promoting cultural celebrations and the sharing of narratives. The second errand requires turning-away from the temptation to over-identify with political parties as such. If Christians were to embrace a proper “homelessness” vis-à-vis the political landscape, they would thereby refuse to allow narrowly defined ideological worldviews and underlying interest group-driven agendas to displace the values and practices of the Kingdom, or to define outgroups as enemies, or to eclipse the “Catholic political imagination” that upholds the universal dignity of the human person and consequently seeks the common good in solidarity with others, following where the Gospel leads in the possibilities afforded in the local, particular contexts of lived experience (subsidiarity). The final errand is to “enshrine authentic greatness and patriotism in our national culture,” in keeping with the lived virtues and values and legacies embodied by leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Dorothy Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton, whose contributions Pope Francis highlighted in his address to the United States Congress on September 24, 2015. 9 To
address “the need for a unifying narrative in American life,” “a nation of many untold stories” must retrieve them. This exchange of narratives is twofold. The sharing of personal backgrounds and stories among individuals and in small groups should be encouraged and facilitated. A broad national conversation about what it is to be the American people must also take place, engaging multifarious stories with a view to affective conversion and consensus-building. McElroy affirms that what distinguishes the United States is its identity as a nation of immigrants whose shared political vision is expressed in “the Creed of 1776,” which asserts fundamental claims about the nature of human beings with rights conferred by God. Rightly understood, the path to realizing a valid aspiration to national greatness lies not in military might, but in a shared resolve to celebrate the noble elements and to acknowledge and amend the defects of the past and present as the American people pursues the project of realizing the high ideals of the Creed. This essay takes up and develops one of the insights suggested by Bishop McElroy: that the telling of narratives offers a way forward. He proposes that the retrieval and recounting of the “many untold stories” comprising the story of America as a nation of immigrants and the celebration of cultures holds great redemptive potential. While I fully agree with this fundamental insight, I submit that the task of “reforging ties of unity and purpose” and creating solidarity and a will for the common good—among professing Christians, as well as among fellow-citizens of good will—is considerably complicated by the historic and contemporary realities of the racialization of U.S. society. An account of racialization follows a different line of inquiry, even if in the case of the historical formation of the United States as a nation-state, ethnic formation and racial formation are inseparable. “Race,” “Racism,” and “Racialization”: Defining Basic Terms It is almost universally taken for granted that distinct human “races” exist, grounded in objective and observable differences among people groups to which individuals belong— differences that are “given” in the order of nature. I have described this prevailing view elsewhere as “biological racial realism.” 10 Biological racial realism holds that racial categories correspond to the ontological reality of human persons because “natural and separate divisions, akin to subspecies, exist within humankind.” 11 Thus, “‘races’ denote discrete human groups possessing determinate, distinguishing traits rooted in biological constitution. Bodily features are but the most visible markers of the innate natural endowments that differentiate the respective races.” 12 More specifically, an inherited “racial make-up is a fundamental determinant of the unique set of inborn qualities, capacities, cultural and moral proclivities … possessed by individuals and groups.” 13 In actuality, however, the use of “race” as a research paradigm in the natural sciences— e.g., in human biology, evolutionary anthropology, physical anthropology, and similar disciplines—began to unravel with its falsification in genetics in the early decades of the twentieth century. More recently, among the findings reported by the Human Genome Project upon its completion of the sequencing of the human genome in 2003 is the signal conclusion “that— contrary to what phenotypic variation (observable bodily features) seems to suggest—human beings are 99.9 percent identical in genetic make-up. 14 In other words, the difference in genetic material carried by any pair of persons on the planet is one tenth of one percent, and these differences occur not between genes but at the level of alleles (i.e., the variations that occur in the expression of a gene due to mutations, either deleterious or beneficial).” 15
Ongoing research in genomics and human population variation continues to confirm that attempts to analyze human persons by assigning to discrete racial groups are based on fallacies in earlier models in the history of biology. “At present no single trait or set of traits has been identified that is necessarily manifested by all members of a population group, nor have traits been found that are restricted to a single population group. For [numerous] reasons, most geneticists and biological anthropologists now concur with the view that biologically determinate ‘races’ corresponding to traditional racial taxonomies do not exist.”16 The classification of human persons in “races” as rooted in innate biological group differences has been refuted. What, then, accounts for the prevalence and power of racial beliefs and their real-world manifestations in contemporary society? “Racism” is the most commonly invoked explanation, and in typical usage, it is construed in psychological and attitudinal terms, as does the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” 17 This essay, however, suggests that the sociological concept of “racialization” is the most illuminating framework with which to understand the arrangement and conditions of society: the construction of the social world as a set of institutions based on shared assumptions and practices. Within this frame, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith define racialization as denoting a situation in which “race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities and social relationships” because the system is organized by racial ideas and values and reinforces it. “Due to the origins of the idea of race, the placement of people in racial groups always means some form of hierarchy. … A racialized society ‘allocates differential economic, political, social and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines: lines that are socially constructed.’”18 The following sketch of historical actions and events demonstrates how the relatively recent, contingent idea of “race” and racial logic came to acquire not only social meaning but concrete existential force through its use to create a hierarchical society. The institutionalization of “race” is best seen and understood by examining the historical policies undertaken—especially through the enactment and enforcement of laws—with respect to the status, opportunities and constraints of the various people groups in society relative to one another. The construction and application of race, i.e., racializing logic, is clearly evinced in the historical development of the United States as a nation-state, beginning in the colonial era. This history extends into and clearly explains a major cause of the contemporary conditions of life in this society. The Origins and Institutionalization of “Race” in the United States: An Historical Overview The following historical account is selective, both in substance and in scope. It highlights a series of significant actions and events pertaining to the experiences to a number of the principal groups representative of the many that now comprise the people of the United States, in relation to the process by which the social world they entered, inhabited, and developed became an increasingly racialized order. To bring the principles and dynamics of racialization into sharp relief, this narrative treats the laws and social policies that were enacted and implemented in roughly chronological order. Thereby the development of the objective societal system as a racialized system is traced from the colonial era to more recent events.
European “Discovery” and the Backdrop of Colonialism (1436-1600) Accounts of U.S. history sometimes begin by noting that the first Europeans known to have set foot in the New World were Vikings, led by Leif Eiriksson, who christened the land “Vinland” (present-day Newfoundland). Several groups settled there around 1000, but it was abandoned after clashes with the indigenous people. Since the site was discovered only in 1960, 19 it has been common to credit Christopher Columbus with discovery of the Americas when—nearly 500 years later—he made landfall in the Caribbean Islands. Initially believing he had reached Asia, Columbus’s report of the lands and goods he claimed for Spain in 1492 included “Indians,” who, he “seized” and “took by force” as slaves. Eight of them survived the voyage to be presented— with gold and other booty—to the court upon his triumphant return in 1493. 20 Columbus’s voyage was financed by the Spanish crown. Behind it lay political machinations successfully securing ecclesiastical authorization: papal bulls granting to the Iberian kings the right to expand into the Canary Islands, Africa, and the Atlantic, for “conquest, slaveraiding, and trade.” 21 In the first decree, Romanus pontifex (1436), Eugenius IV was persuaded by King Duarte of Portugal that the Pope’s universal spiritual lordship made him guardian over infidels. Accordingly, Eugenius “authorized Portugal to convert the Canary Islanders and to control the islands on behalf of the Pope.” 22 In Dum diversas (1452), an edict concerning a North African region ruled by Saracens (Moors), Pope Nicholas V granted to King Alfonso V of Portugal free and full power … to invade, conquer, fight, subjugate the Saracens and pagans and other infidels and other enemies of Christ, and wherever established, the Kingdoms…and any other possessions,…and to lead their persons in perpetual servitude, and to apply and appropriate realms…possessions and goods of this kind to you and your use and your successors the Kings of Portugal. 23 Another bull gave to Portugal all lands, peoples and goods in Africa already “acquired and that shall hereafter come to be acquired,” and authorized establishment of churches and monasteries for administration of the sacraments. As all violating “these orders” incurred excommunication,24 Spain turned elsewhere for expansion. After Columbus’s return, Pope Alexander VI confirmed in Inter caetera (1493) that the Spanish crown owned and held “free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind” over the lands Columbus discovered, and all future territory not already possessed by a Christian ruler. Inter caetera II drew “a line of demarcation from the north pole to the south pole, 100 leagues west of the Azore Islands,” conferring on Spain all lands “‘discovered and to be discovered’ west of that line,” and “‘the holy and praiseworthy’ work of conversion so that it would contribute to the spread of the Christian rule.” 25 Native Americans and Spanish and English Colonists (1607-18) Spanish colonists preceded the English arrival in North America. Juan Ponce de Léon laid claim to the Florida peninsula in 1513, and other explorers expanded the Spanish territory of La Florida, which eventually stretched as far as Virginia and Texas. In 1565, Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Aviles founded the first permanent European settlement in North America: St. Augustine. Further west, Santa Fe was founded by the second Spanish governor of New Mexico in 1607.
That same year, the English arrived in Virginia, home to over 14,000 Powhatans. An agrarian people, they grew corn in fields as large as 100 acres, lived in “palisaded towns with forts, storehouses, temples and framed houses covered with bark and reed mats,” cooked with ceramic pots, and had a sophisticated numeric system and a calendar with five seasons. 26 120 English immigrants arrived at Jamestown, but the first winter was extremely harsh. Thirty-eight survived “the starving time” because the Powhatans gave them food. Several hundred more colonists arrived the next year; as another lean winter began, and some desperate folk were reduced to cannibalism, the English obtained food by attacking tribal villages, with hostilities ensuing. In 1609, British Gov. Thomas Gates came with orders dictating that the Indians serve the English and render annual payments of corn and animal hides—brutally enforced. The colonists’ early farming efforts turned little profit until 1613, when their first tobacco shipment to London proved lucrative. Tobacco-planting greatly multiplied; a major influx of immigrants swelled their ranks in Virginia, growing ten-fold in five years (1618-23). 27 As English immigration and competition for resources increased, native Americans began to be depicted in racializing terms. Although Virginian and southern New England tribes were farmers with “highly developed agricultural systems,” 28 the English represented them as hunter-gatherers, which, it was claimed, nullified their land-ownership. An evolving “ideology of ‘savagery’” 29 went hand-inhand with racialization of Indians: earlier seen as backward but educable, they were increasingly portrayed as inheriting both unfavorable physical traits (e.g., darker skin) and a nature incapable of being civilized. Leading Puritan ministers (e.g., Cotton Mather, Increase Mather) contributed to the construction of race in oppositional religious terms. 30 As the Indians were the principal external threat to the “errand in the wilderness,” their decimation by new diseases 31 and (according to Increase Mather) their “Devil driven … unjust and bloody war upon the English … issued in their speedy and utter extirpation from the face of God’s earth.” 32 The English and Africans: The Evolution of Labor Practices (1619-1705) Seventy-five percent of the European immigrants to 17th-century Virginia were indentured servants that came from the underside of society in England, Ireland, and Germany (indigents, convicts, etc.). 33 However, they were not adequate to the labor-intensive enterprise of tobaccofarming. English settlers’ attempts to create a large work force by enslaving Indians proved unsuccessful. In 1619, a Dutch slaving ship arrived in Jamestown; twenty Africans were purchased as bond-servants. 34 At that time, they—like their far more numerous European counterparts—were eligible for release upon completing a four-to-seven year term, thereafter, becoming freemen. 35 Coming from different shores, white and black laborers in Virginia had very limited understanding as well as negative notions of each other, and natural feelings of fear and hostility undoubtedly existed. Still, both groups occupied a common social space—a terrain of racial liminality that had not yet developed rigid caste lines. White and black, they shared a condition of class exploitation and abuse: they were all unfree laborers. 36A common lot of degradation and misery bred solidarity among white and black laborers. Court records detail collaborative escape attempts and couples crossing racial lines. Twenty years after the first Africans arrived, colonial laws began to confer privileges on European servants over against black servants. The 1640 Virginia legislature decreed that “a negro [bond-servant]…shall serve for the time of his natural Life.” In 1669, slaves were defined as “property” belonging to their owners’ “estate.” 37 The racializing term “white” entered the official
vocabulary: a 1661 statute prohibited “English or other white” unions with “negroes, mulattos, or Indians.” Other laws sanctioned racialized violence: a 1680 law allowed whites to attack non-white slaves with impunity: thirty-one lashes on the bare back were prescribed if the latter tried to “lift up his hand in opposition to any [white] Christian.” 38 That law also denied free blacks the right of assembly and freedom of movement, and in 1691, they were stripped of the right to testify in court, to vote, and to hold office. 39 In 1705, the Virginia Assembly passed the Servants and Slaves Act. It made slave-trading legal and decreed that “all servants” not already “christian” were “slaves.” 40 It forbade black and “mulatto” freedmen from employing white servants. It also levied fines and jail-time for sexual relations among white and non-white persons. The Act also ordered Anglican priests to refuse to marry interracial couples, and to ensure that women who transgressed racial boundaries and became pregnant paid a fine and served five years of bond-servitude, while their children “of abominable mixture and spurious issue” were required to serve as unpaid laborers until age thirty-one. Church wardens were ordered to seize free blacks’ and slaves’ farm animals, applying the “profit to the use of the poor [whites].” All weapons were outlawed for blacks. 41 Thus, “the poor” whites were enriched by the mass transfer of blacks’ property into their own hands. The law also provided white servants completing their terms fifty acres of land, ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings and a musket. 42 The Virginia elite then leveraged the denial of weapons to blacks and issuing of firearms to freed whites, “using landless whites to put down slave revolts.” 43 By these laws, the white land-owning elite contained the growing threat to the colonial order: by the 1660s, up to 25% of the population consisted of “discontented indentured servants, slaves, and landless freemen, both white and black.” 44 The 1676 Bacon’s Rebellion of poor whites (later joined by poor blacks) against the colonial authorities was a wake-up call. The above laws were an ad hoc solution to a class-based problem. These measures gave limited rewards to lowerclass whites and created a sense of superiority over and antagonism toward non-whites (blacks, “mulattos,” and others). As historian David Roediger observes, “In this slaveholding republic, where independence was prized … the bondage of Blacks served as a touchstone by which dependence and degradation were measured. Racial formation and class formation were bound to penetrate each other at every turn.” 45 The colonial elite “reorganized society on the basis of class and race,” 46 transforming it into a racial hierarchy that was enforceable and concrete in its effects. “The American Creed” and the Foundations of the Republic (1776-91) Two of the nation’s earliest documents, framed at the outset of the War of Independence and at the beginning of U.S. history proper, comprise the basis of “the American Creed” 47: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. First and foremost, of course, is the 1776 Declaration of Independence, which begins: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 48
It proceeds to state: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among them is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. 49 That rationale is complemented by a list of actions in the “history of repeated abuses and usurpations” by the King, no longer tolerable by his colonial subjects. Among them is the charge that he “has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” This characterization is a telling indication of the prevailing image as well as the state of Native American-white settler relations. 50 The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union of the States, signed by all thirteen states in 1781, bound them in “a league of friendship.” 51 After the War of Independence was won and Britain ceded its territory in 1783, twelve states appointed 55 delegates to convene in Philadelphia in 1787 to strengthen the existing agreement. The product of their deliberations was the Constitution of the United States. The Preamble “[unites] its citizens as members of a whole, vesting the power of the union in the people.” 52 It affirms: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. 53 The Convention’s deliberations were contentious. Because several northern states had already abolished slavery, and nearly 90% of all slaves comprised almost 30% of the total population of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, deep sectional differences over slavery became a flash-point. The Constitution was adopted by a majority on September 17, 1787, and—with a promise to add a bill of rights—the last state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1789. 54 Its passage was attained only by several compromises protecting proslavery interests. First, the ratio counting five black slaves as equivalent to three (free white) men to determine a state’s House seats and tax burden increased slave states’ representatives. Second, the slave trade was extended until 1808, giving slave-owners twenty years to expand. Third, the federal government collected a duty on each imported slave. The founders’ dividedness over trading and holding blacks in permanent servitude, and the concessions favoring slavery, would continue to shape the nation’s development. The 1790 Naturalization Act, passed just one year after the Constitution, is also noteworthy: it reserved citizenship for “any Alien being a free white person.” The Bill of Rights was ratified and appended to the Constitution in 1791: the original ten Amendments guaranteed political rights and freedoms to (free) individual citizens. Slaves, bonded laborers, and non-white persons remained vulnerable to exploitation and oppression. Territorial Expansion: Native American Peoples, the U.S., and White Citizens (1823-38) Land-ownership was the prime objective for all. White settlers acquired property in the
aboriginal peoples’ lands in various ways, through sale, swindling, or forcible appropriation. The federal government owned the Northwest Territory and held treaties with various tribes, but white settlers’ increasing encroachment on Indian lands in the Ohio Valley provoked fierce conflict, which the government tried to avert by purchasing from tribes blocks of land which it set aside for whites. And in the Southeast, the 1807 invention of the cotton gin made cotton an enormously profitable crop, creating intense interest in acquiring more land for plantations. In 1823, the first lawsuit defining the nature of Indian nations’ self-rule and territory was brought before the Supreme Court. In Johnson v M’Intosh, the Court ruled that the proper owner of a disputed parcel of land was not the Indian tribe who originally sold it to a settler, but the U.S. government which bought it later and sold it to another. The argument cited “the grant of the Pope” to Spain as establishing the precedent that all Europeans had observed in “appropriating” the New World: discovery gave exclusive title to those who made it [and] the rights of the original inhabitants were… necessarily, to a considerable extent, impaired. They were…the rightful occupants of the soil…but their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished…Discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest; & also…a right to such degree of sovereignty, as circumstances…would allow them to exercise. 55 In 1827, gold was discovered in Cherokee lands; the tribe enacted a republican constitution asserting sovereignty over its lands. In 1830, the Georgia legislature annexed the coveted areas. That same year, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. The Cherokees challenged the legality of these actions in three lawsuits before the Supreme Court. The 1832 Worcester v Georgia decision upheld Cherokee sovereignty, but neither the federal nor the state governments observed the ruling: forced removal proceeded. In 1835, a Cherokee faction signed a treaty with U.S. officials, ceding land and accepting relocation. However, most stayed, relying on the 1832 Supreme Court decision. Many then were killed as armed whites claimed and looted “ceded” farms and property. In Winter 1838, 16,000 Cherokees were driven from their farms by the Army on a forced march to the reserved “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi River. On this Trail of Tears, over four thousand people (25 percent) died of cold, disease, and starvation. 56 The dispossession and removal of the Cherokees was the template for the federal policy toward native American peoples in general. “By 1837, the Jackson administration had removed 46,000 Native American people from their land east of the Mississippi, and had secured treaties which led to the removal of a slightly larger number. Most … of the five southeastern nations [the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole peoples] had been relocated west, opening 25 million acres of land to white settlement and to slavery.” 57 Mexicans and Whites in the National Expansion in the Southwest (1810-48) Expansion into the Southwest (discovered by Spain, acquired by Mexico in 1821) proceeded apace. In 1810, the United States annexed western Florida. In 1835, a group of white colonists and Tejanos in the Mexican state of Texas rebelled, forming the Republic of Texas. In 1845, the U.S. government annexed the entire state of Texas; the following year, it declared war when Mexico refused its offer of $25 million for California and New Mexico. Also, in 1846,
thirty armed settlers arrested General Vallejo, annexing California and renaming it as the Bear Flag Republic. In the 1847 treaty ending the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded California, New Mexico, Nevada, and parts of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona for $15 million, losing (with Texas) half its previous holdings. To retain their lands, 100,000 Mexicans were required to change nationality. Subsequently, they endured abuse and lynchings and became out-numbered by settlers drawn by federal policies (e.g., the 1862 Homestead Act) rewarding whites’ westward migration to fulfill the nation’s “Manifest Destiny.” 58 As Walt Whitman opined in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “We pant to see our country and its rule far-reaching…What has miserable, inefficient Mexico…to do with the great mission of peopling the New World with a noble race?” 59 Irish Immigrants, Chinese Immigrants, and American Blacks and Whites (1845-54) Large-scale immigration from Ireland began in 1854 as one million people fled a catastrophic potato famine. In the United States, the Irish found themselves the object of scorn, unwelcome aliens “stereotyped as ignorant and inferior.” 60 In northern cities where they lived in close quarters with other marginalized groups (including blacks), they banded together as exploited workers, forming labor organizations. 61 In Massachusetts, the largest Irish union (the Crispins) went on strike for higher wages and an eight-hour workday. The owner replaced them with seventy-five Chinese workers, who, proving more productive, were touted as the solution. The Crispins tried to unionize the Chinese in a separate lodge, but “based on self-interest rather than an ideological commitment to class solidarity, this attempt…quickly collapsed. At a meeting in Boston, [Irish] workers turned against the Chinese laborers, condemning them for reducing ‘American labor’ to ‘the Chinese standard of rice and rats.’” 62 When in Ireland, many saw similarities between the centuries of oppressive British rule they endured and black slaves’ oppression in the U.S. In fact, 70,000 Irish had signed an 1842 antislavery petition calling Irish-Americans to “treat the colored people as your equals, as brethren.” 63 However, the earlier “Irish sympathy for black slaves seemed to disappear with the Atlantic Crossing. In America, many became anti-black.” 64 Often competing with free blacks for jobs, they began to promote “their own whiteness and white supremacy.” 65 “‘In a country of the whites where [we] find it difficult to earn a subsistence, what right has the negro either to preference or to equality, or to admission?’” Facing white “Protestant nativist hatred identifying them as Catholic, outsiders, and foreigners, the Irish newcomers sought to become insiders, or Americans, by claiming their membership as whites. A powerful way to transform their own identity from ‘Irish’ to ‘Americans’ was to attack blacks.” 66 Many Irish Americans strongly opposed Lincoln’s addition of abolition to the objectives of the Civil War. 67 Despite the hardships the first wave of Irish immigrants endured, three million more arrived between 1855-1920. Unlike disfranchised blacks and Chinese immigrants, “what greatly enabled the Irish to ‘merge’ into the mainstream was the fact that they were ‘white’ and hence eligible for [naturalization]. Their rates for becoming citizens and voters were the highest of all immigrant groups.” 68 One third settled in northern cities, where, by promoting “Green Power,” “by 1890, the Irish had captured most of the Democratic Party organizations”: political bosses awarded municipal jobs and public works projects to Irish construction firms, who employed Irish tradesmen in highly unionized occupations. “Irish ‘ethnic solidarity’ and influence in the unions enabled…the Irish exclusion of racial minorities from the skilled and high-waged jobs, [representing] what historian David Roediger called ‘the wages of whiteness.’” 69
Whites and Free and Enslaved Blacks, Pre-Civil War (1830-61) In the 1857 Supreme Court case, Dred Scott v Sanford, the plaintiff, a slave, sued for freedom, having resided with his owner on free soil before returning to Missouri (a slave state). The question was: Can a negro whose ancestors were imported into this country and sold as slaves become a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen, one of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases specified in the Constitution? 70 The Court ruled that no descendants of African slaves were U.S. citizens; thus, the Bill of Rights did not apply to any blacks, even freedmen in free states. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roger Taney cited colonial statutes and the nation’s founding documents (the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution) as warrants. It also ruled unconstitutional the 1820 Missouri Compromise, opening all territories to slave-holding. Abraham Lincoln criticized the Dred Scott decision. He cited the dissenting view of Justice Benjamin Curtis, who wrote that “in at least five of the then thirteen States [free “colored persons”] had the power to act, and, doubtless, did act, by their suffrages, upon the question of [the] adoption” of the Constitution. Lincoln also insisted that the affirmation of the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal,” intended to include all men… [The framers] defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in ‘certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ This they said, and this they meant…[They intended] to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. 71 He concluded that free blacks were U.S. citizens, and that gradually emancipated slaves were entitled either to remain in the South or be “repatriated” to other countries. His famous “House Divided” speech in 1858 and campaign debates with Stephen A. Douglas brought him to national prominence and eventually election to the White House on November 16, 1860. The Civil War and Abolition (1861-65), Reconstruction )1865-70), Jim Crow (1870-1954) In 1862, eighteen months after the Civil War began, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation decreeing that as of January 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” It also opened the military to black men: over 200,000 served in the Union Army and Navy, considerably strengthening its might. 72 As the war neared its end, in January 1865, Gen. William Sherman signed an order allocating 400,000 acres in South Carolina and Georgia—which an Act of Congress had declared “abandoned” by rebels against the nation, hence the property of the federal government—to be divided into plots of “40 acres of tillable ground” for rental or sale to freed slave families and refugees. 73 The Freedmen’s Bureau Act created the agency to oversee distribution of the plots and
administer other forms of aid for one year. It is estimated that 40,000 families were resettled on these parcels. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, only five days after Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Gen. Ulysses Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. Over four million slaves were freed at the close of the war. In May, President Andrew Jackson proclaimed pardon and amnesty for Southerners swearing an oath of allegiance to the Union, and he acceded to their demands for return of the lands distributed by the government. He also refused to sign a bill extending the Freedmen Bureau’s existence. Soldiers then evicted families; those who stayed were required to sign labor contracts returning them to a life of poverty in dependency on their former owners, working on plantations as share-croppers for basic subsistence. 74 During “Reconstruction,” three Constitutional Amendments were passed. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery (1865); the Fourteenth granted citizenship to all U.S.-born or naturalized persons and extended the Bill of Rights’ “equal protection under the laws” to former slaves (1868); and the Fifteenth barred disfranchisement “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (1870). With the achievement of legislated equality, federal supervision receded; the “Jim Crow” era began. In the end, it was former slave-owners who received restitution; the majority of the 4 million formerly enslaved African Americans received limited or no aid. Post-Reconstruction, white Southerners’ racial hostility and refusal to accept equality was implemented by recreating a racial hierarchical system that subordinated and excluded blacks in housing, jobs, transportation, schools, health-care, cultural institutions, and the like—prescribed by state and local laws and enforced by intimidation and violence by civil authorities as well as groups like the Ku Klux Klan (founded in 1865). Contravening the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, state and local laws were passed, imposing literacy tests and levying poll taxes to prevent blacks from voting. Such discriminatory practices were ruled constitutional in the 1896 Supreme Court case, Plessy v Ferguson: “separate but equal” facilities could continue to apportion the goods of the community inequitably, along racialized lines. Chinese Immigrants: Recruitment, Restriction, Exclusion (1848-82) In the 1840s, U.S. businesses sent agents to China to recruit indentured laborers for gold mines, factories, and the transcontinental railroad. Sought-after by bosses for their work ethic and exploitability, Chinese workers were persecuted by Americans in an increasingly nativist climate. They were blamed for the 1870 economic recession: anti-Chinese violence erupted across the country, including the largest mass lynching in U.S. history in Los Angeles, when a mob of whites and Latinos pillaged Chinese families’ homes and shot and hanged eighteen to twenty men and boys. California law barred Chinese from testifying in court; eventually eight men were tried, but their sentences were overturned on technicalities. The 1870 Naturalization Act barred Chinese persons from eligibility for naturalized citizenship (the first group to be excluded by federal law) and forbade entry to Chinese women, creating “bachelor colonies.” The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act halted all immigration from China; businesses turned to Mexico and Japan for cheap labor. The 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act forbade entry to peoples across the Asia Pacific region. The absolute ban on Chinese immigration held for sixty-one years; when lifted in 1943 as a concession for China’s World War II alliance, the annual maximum was 105 individuals from the global Chinese diaspora.
Hawaii: From Sovereign Nation to Territory of the United States (1846-98) In 1846, the United States and the Kingdom of Hawaii established diplomatic relations as sovereign nations. On January 17, 1893, U.S. Minister to Hawaii, John Stevens arranged for a naval warship to land in Honolulu and armed Marines and sailors to station themselves at the consulate and other U.S. government offices, aiding a plot to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. Backed by U.S. soldiers and its own mercenaries, an annexationist group of U.S. and European businessmen and some native Hawaiian leaders 75 seized power, arrested Queen Lili’uokalani, and declared themselves a “Committee of Safety.” 76 The Queen appealed the treaty breach to the U.S. government; President Grover Cleveland withdrew the annexation treaty approved by his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, and ordered an investigation. Based on the Blount Report (1893), he declared the take-over an illegal “act of war” and ordered Dole to return power to the Queen. But Dole refused to comply, and when the Queen refused to grant the conspirators amnesty as a condition for U.S. support, she was forced to abdicate. Minister Stevens had declared Hawaii a U.S. “Protectorate” two weeks after the coup; in 1894, the “Provisional Government” declared it an independent “Republic.” Mass protests by native Hawaiians were suppressed. In 1898, with its naval base at Pearl Harbor established, the United States annexed the Republic of Hawaii. In 1900 it became a U.S. Territory: its citizens (predominantly white, landed males) became American citizens, while the majority indigenous Hawaiians and Asian Hawaiian residents remained disfranchised. 77 Native American Citizenship and a Revised National Immigration Law (1924) 1924 proved a fateful year. While Congress granted U.S. citizenship to Native Americans, some states quickly passed laws barring them from voting. Moreover, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act—supported by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Federation of Labor, opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses—was passed by 323-71, and was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. 78 Among the dissenters was Detroit Republican Congressman, Robert Clancy, forcefully objected to the bill, passionately defended his Jewish, Italian, and Polish immigrant constituents, and argued for a non“xenophobic” definition of Americans. 79 Henceforth, 86.5% of those granted visas were Western Europeans and Scandinavians; 11.2% Southern Europeans (e.g., Italian Catholics, Greek Orthodox) and Eastern European peoples (Catholics, Orthodox, and Jews); and 2.3% non-Asian “Others.” 80 (The 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act had already banned entry for everyone in the Asia-Pacific Triangle—the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and East Asia—except for Filipinos). The Act also decreed that only persons of white or black descent were eligible for naturalized citizenship. The Office of the Historian of the State Department summarizes the bill’s motive: “In all its parts, the most basic purpose of the 1924 Immigration Act was to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity”: 81 a nation of Northern and Western European whites. Whites and Blacks between the Great Depression and World War II (1929-45) The Great Depression, which began with the 1929 stock-market crash, was exacerbated by the “Dust Bowl,” a drought in the Midwest and Plains states (1931-39). President Franklin Roosevelt acted to create dozens of federal agencies and programs to bring relief to the poor and the unemployed, and economic recovery through nationalized job creation. The 1934 Housing Act created the Federal Housing Administration to spur recovery of the construction and mortgage industries. The agency institutionalized segregation in the national
housing market by its underwriters’ manual, which created maps of major cities using color-coded categories to rank neighborhoods. A key criterion was the number of properties with “housing covenants” (clauses in titles barring sale to blacks) in a given zone; zones with aging properties and no housing covenants (i.e., open to non-white residents) were shaded red. Realtors steered white home-buyers to upscale, “homogeneous” zones, and non-white buyers to red ones. Lenders also red-lined, denying mortgages more frequently to non-white applicants, and granting fewer loans in lower-ranked neighborhoods. The Social Security Act (1935) created the nation’s social welfare system, giving governmental assistance to vulnerable citizens: a pension system for the aged; unemployment insurance; and welfare benefits for the disabled and children in single-parent households. But historian Ira Katznelson shows that to secure the votes of powerful Southern Congressmen, Roosevelt allowed the programs to be state-administered. Southern lawmakers and agency officials then excluded farmworkers and domestic workers—the vast majority of African Americans—from eligibility to participate in the program. 82 Alongside the Social Security Act, the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was one of the most influential social programs of the twentieth century. The G.I. Bill allocated government monies to fund a range of benefits for all World War II veterans on active duty at least 90 days and honorably discharged: a free post-secondary education; low-interest loans for housing and for business start-ups, and unemployment compensation. Katznelson observes: “Even today … the G.I. Bill … qualifies as the most wide-ranging set of social benefits ever offered by the federal government in a single, comprehensive initiative.” 83 However, in the era of legitimized segregation, although all veterans were eligible to receive all of the Bill’s benefits, they were never distributed equally. Educational options for African Americans were extremely limited; without regulation, many for-profit schools bilked veterans of tuition funds. Thus, the Bill actually widened the gap in educational attainment, which correlates closely to earning potential. Lending institutions also discriminated against black veterans, making it difficult to obtain low-interest mortgages and impossible to buy into the new suburban housing developments being built. “The Veterans Administration, established under the G.I. Bill, adopted all of the FHA racial exclusion programs when it began to insure mortgages for returning veterans. Big developments…built after World War II were financed by the Veterans Administration…with the same racial restrictions.” 84 Katznelson observes, “Missed chances at home ownership… compound over time.” 85 By 1984, when most G.I. Bill mortgages had matured, the median white American household had a net worth of $39,135; the comparable figure for black households was $3397, or 9% of white holdings. “Most of this difference was accounted for by the absence of homeownership…Black Americans who were not homeowners possessed virtually no wealth at all…Over time, it is harder to make up gaps in wealth than in income.” 86 Katznelson concludes, “On balance, despite the assistance black soldiers received, there was no greater instrument for widening an already huge racial gap in postwar America than the G.I. Bill.” 87 Thus, in the era of legal segregation, implementation of the federal “New Deal” programs and the post-war G.I. Bill did not treat eligible individuals and groups impartially and equitably. Instead, in Katznelson’s pithy summary, the government-subsidized social welfare programs— especially the G.I. Bill, which “advanced momentum toward suburban living, mass consumption, and the creation of wealth and economic security, [creating] created middle-class America”— comprised, in fact, the era “When Affirmative Action Was White.” 88
Scapegoating and Detention: Japanese American Citizens During World War II (1942-46) After Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing creation of military areas on the West Coast and removal of “any or all persons” deemed security threats. Ultimately everyone of Japanese descent was removed—122,000 people, two-thirds citizens, and the others legal “resident aliens.” Multi-generational families had three to fourteen days to report for “voluntary relocation.” Permitted only the belongings they could carry, given no details about their confinement, and pressed by deadlines, many were forced to give away or abandon whatever they could not sell at fire-sale prices—their homes and goods, farms, and businesses. Families were shipped to and housed in temporary quarters until the “permanent relocation” sites were ready: internment camps in remote locations. The internees were held in rude facilities, living under armed guard, surrounded by barbed-wire, for three years. Concurrently, over 33,000 young men (2100 from the camps themselves) voluntarily enlisted for military service. Young men and women entered all branches of the military and served in combat units, military intelligence services, and the Women’s Army Corps. Upon their release in 1946, each family was issued $50 plus train fare. Having lost their homes, property, and businesses, many never returned to their prior communities of residence. 89 Mexican Americans and Mexican Migrant Workers During World War II (1940-56) Half a million Mexican American young men—nearly 20% of the entire population in the U.S.—enlisted in World War II. Casualty rates were high, but Mexican American soldiers served with distinction and many were decorated for bravery. Women also contributed to the war effort, especially defense industry factories producing steel and building and repairing armaments and aircraft. 90 The increasingly restrictive immigration laws between 1870 and 1924 did not affect Mexican migrant workers and immigrants traveling to the U.S. for short-term travel and work opportunities. 91 Building on this history, the U.S. initiated the 1943-56 Bracero guest-worker program with the Mexican government to remedy the World War II labor-shortage. U.S. businesses recruited two million contract laborers from Mexico, who worked in 38 of the 48 states (primarily in agriculture, but also in the railroad and mining industries) and returned when their terms ended. While gainfully employed, Mexican workers were frequently exploited. Contract violations of their rights seldom were enforced, and as demand for low-wage labor rose, many employers hired individuals directly, attracting would-be workers without visas. Texas’s expulsion from the program for non-compliance did not deter businesses from recruiting and relying on undocumented workers. After World War II, opposition from organized labor and small farmers grew. In 1954-56, the military-enforced Operation Wetback program rounded up and deported 1.1 million people; tens of thousands left voluntarily. 92 Jewish Americans, European Jews, and White America During World War II Four and a half million Jewish people lived in the United States when Hitler entered office in 1933. The white American majority proved, at best, indifferent to the plight of European Jews. This apathy was expressed in polls and in blocked legislative proposals to make exceptions to the quota system to admit Jews into the country. Popular opposition and official unwillingness to act despite known atrocities included, e.g., lawmakers’ failure to pass a Congressional resolution to grant entry to the relatives of American Jewish citizens fleeing persecution (1933). Even after
condemning Kristallnacht (November 1938), President Roosevelt and Congress did not support a bill to admit 20,000 German Jewish refugee children (1939), and FDR ignored a final plea from 907 asylum-seeking transatlantic passengers in imminent peril (1939), 254 of whom eventually died in concentration camps. 93 Even when Germany’s genocide program was revealed, “the press did not cover the shocking news as a major story.” 94 Roosevelt flatly rejected proposals to grant refugees temporary asylum, insisting on a “rescue-through-victory strategy.” By the time the Allies liberated prisoners in the death camps in June 1945, six million Jews had been murdered. 95 African Americans and Whites: The Post-War Struggle for Civil Rights (1954-68) Americans of all racialized and ethnic groups contributed to victory in World War II, making the racism and disparities in their homeland difficult to ignore. The pioneering sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois had rendered this diagnosis nearly a half-century earlier: “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” 96 African Americans’ daily struggles with racial subordination, segregation, and poverty, under the constant threat of violence—codified and enforced by state power—made rising political movements promoting communism and socialism as the pathway to equality and social solidarity an attractive alternative. At the end of World War II, in his summary of a Carnegie Foundation report on blacks’ lives in the segregated South, the sociologist Gunnar Myrdal argued that to win the “ideological war,” the nation needed to recognize the similarities between the societal systems it had fought and its own condition: Fascism and Nazism are based on a racial superiority dogma—not unlike the old hackneyed American caste theory—and they came to power by means of racial persecution and oppression…When in this crucial time the international leadership passes to America, the great reason for hope is that this country has a national experience of uniting racial and cultural diversities and a national theory, if not a consistent practice, of freedom and equality for all…The main trend in its history is the gradual realization of the American Creed. 97 Segregation—the creation of two separate and unequal societies—prevailed both de jure and de facto since the end of the Civil War, despite the “Congressional Reconstruction” Civil Rights Amendments. Small inroads began to made on several fronts, in various ways. The armed forces in World War II were organized as racially segregated units. Over 900,000 African Americans served, but—in a continuation of the post-Civil War history of racial violence and terror inflicted blacks—veterans again were denied benefits and disability pay, and targeted by white mobs for beatings, whippings, torture, shootings, and hangings. 98 Pressing for black veterans’ rights, equality and civil rights amid resurgent racial violence, A. Philip Randolph (who founded the first black labor union and successfully confronted FDR to ban racial exclusion in the defense industry) warned President Harry Truman that “Negroes are in no mood to shoulder guns for democracy abroad, while they are denied democracy here at home”; he planned to lead a mass action of non-violent civil disobedience if inequality continued. 99 Truman’s Executive Order 9981 stated that “there should be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services.” 100 Resistance continued in several branches, but the full integration of the military was completed in 1954. 101
Military desegregation was followed by action in relation to public education. In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown v Board of Education struck down Plessy v Ferguson, which deemed constitutional the creation of segregated schools 58 years earlier. Refusal to implement Brown continued; a 1957 “Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom” met in Washington, D.C. to encourage the federal government to act. Four months later, President Dwight Eisenhower deployed Army troops to oversee the enforcement of desegregation by the Arkansas National Guard, which had previously prevented nine African American students from entering Central High School in Little Rock, as ordered by Governor Orval Faubus. 102 On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks—NAACP member since 1943 and activist on behalf of victims of racial violence—took a stand against “the color line.” She invited a white bus driver to have her arrested for refusing to yield her seat in the “Colored” section to a white passenger. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began, and it spurred men and women across the South to engage in local campaigns to protest racial discrimination and call for equality and integration in their communities: sit-ins at segregated lunch-counters, boycotts, and other actions. On August 23, 1963, a quarter of a million people (190,000 blacks and 60,000 whites) took part in a “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” to publicly, peaceably protest racial discrimination and show support for a federal civil rights bill securing fair wages and complete integration of schools. 103 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s closing address invoked the Emancipation Proclamation and the nation’s charter documents as unfulfilled “promissory notes,” and concluded by confiding his famous dream. The national coverage and King’s powerful speech gave momentum to President John F. Kennedy to introduce a bill with strong provisions. In the Summer of 1964, local organizers and Northern students joined forces to empower blacks in rural Mississippi to exercise their suppressed voting rights by conducting registration drives and offering “Freedom School” programs. Three young civil rights volunteers (a black Catholic Mississippian, and two white New Yorkers) were murdered. By the end of “Freedom Summer,” only 1,600 of 17,000 voter applications were accepted by registrars. 104 These events led to increased support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning segregation in public accommodations and employment discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibited restrictive state and local laws and tactics preventing blacks from voting. On April 4, 1968, while visiting Memphis, Tennessee, to support a sanitation workers’ strike, Dr. King was assassinated. The abrupt, violent extinguishing of his life robbed those committed to a society marked by racial justice, equality, integration and unity of an incomparably compelling moral leader, long before the nation had fulfilled its “promissory note” to its African American citizens. As shock and grief gave way to fear, anger, and despair, rioting erupted in over one hundred cities nationwide. The deep unrest spurred Congress to pass the then-stalled Fair Housing Act: it prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of property due to race, religion, national origin, or sex. 105 Immigration and Intermarriage: Reform in Federal and State Laws (1965-2000) In 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act. It superseded the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which had modified the 1924 quotas favoring northern and western Europeans and severely restricting others in establishing national admission quotas and eligibility for citizenship. The new act replaced the latter and eliminated national-origin quotas. The new criteria were desired skill sets for employment and family reunification.
Interracial marriage had been a prosecutable offense since the colonial era (e.g., the 1691 and 1705 Virginia laws). An 1880 California law forbidding whites to marry a “negro, mulatto, or Mongolian” typified legal codes across the country. In the 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving v VA, “anti-miscegenation” laws were ruled unconstitutional. However, such statutes remained on the books in sixteen states. In 1998, South Carolina repealed its ban on interracial marriage; in a 2000 referendum, Alabama voters were the last in the nation to repeal their law, by a 59%-41% majority. Official Recognition and Redress for Historic Acts of Wrong (1970-2011) Executive Order 9022: War-time Internment of Japanese Americans and Aleut Islanders Another campaign for civil rights sought an apology and restitution for the 122,000 Japanese American citizens and legal resident aliens relocated and incarcerated during World War II. In 1976, President Gerald Ford terminated Executive Order 9066 of 1942. 106 In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed a Commission to investigate the claim that the wartime detention of Japanese Americans and Aleuts was necessary. Its 1982 Report, “Personal Justice Denied,” concluded that the Executive Order was unwarranted, based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” 107 In view of detailed evidence that the internees suffered severe losses, it recommended that monetary compensation be provided. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act. In it, “the Congress recognizes” and “apologizes on behalf of the Nation” for “fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals of Japanese ancestry.” Acknowledging “enormous damages,” “incalculable losses,” and “significant suffering” inflicted on the 122,000 internees, it authorized restitution payments of $20,000 to living survivors of the camps. The Act of “the Congress” also “recognizes” that the United States “failed” the Aleut internees, and established a trust fund to provide benefits to various groups and the community as a whole, including a payment of $12,000 to each survivor for personal property losses. 108 Apology for the Annexation of the Nation of Hawaii On November 23, 1993—a century after the coup d’état and take-over of the independent Kingdom of Hawaii—President William Clinton signed U.S. Public Law 103-150. Based on the 1893 Blount Report of the House Committee and official statements by President Grover Cleveland (who tried to negotiate restoration of the Hawaiian constitutional monarchy), this “Apology Resolution” acknowledges that the U.S. government was complicit in the illegal acquisition of Hawaii: the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further…the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum. 109 Biological Experimentation on African American Men On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton officially acknowledged that, in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service created a study, selecting 600 black men in Macon County, Alabama as subjects. The men were told that they had “bad blood” (a popular term for fatigue, anemia, rheumatism, and stomach problems) and were recruited to a program promising free exams,
medical treatments, and burial insurance. The original goal was to gather data on men with syphilis—the fourth leading cause of death among all Americans prior to World War II 110—“in hopes of justifying treatment programs for blacks.” 111 When the study began, 399 men had syphilis, while 201 comprised the control group. In 1936, the agency extended the study for the purpose of observing the progress of the untreated disease. In 1945, penicillin was confirmed as the treatment of choice, and before 1946, the government established 36 Rapid Treatment Centers to make it widely available. 112 However, the Tuskegee men were never informed that an effective treatment was discovered, or that they could obtain it through other government programs. In the 1960s, Peter Buxtun, an epidemiologist, heard about the study, obtained documentation, and filed official protests with the national division, which met with indifference. Repeated reporting to others was to no avail. 113 Only after he leaked the story to the press in 1972 was the program halted. 114 The following year, Congressional hearings established that the 600 men were never informed of the program’s purpose: “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” Thus the 399 men with syphilis were deceived by doctors assuring them their “bad blood” was being treated, while withholding penicillin. Not only did the men’s lives and bodies break down as blindness and neural, heart, liver, and brain damage set in, but their wives and children were also exposed to the congenital disease. A class-action lawsuit also was filed that year. In 1974, the government settled out of court for $10 million and agreed to give lifetime medical benefits and burial services to participants. In 1975, wives, widows and offspring were added to the program; and it was augmented by health benefits coverage in 1995. 115 In his 1997 speech, Clinton acknowledged and apologized to eight survivors and their families: The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens…What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence…We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry…To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist. That can never be allowed to happen again. It is against everything our country stands for…The legacy of the study at Tuskegee has reached far and deep, in ways that hurt our progress and divide our nation. We cannot be one America when a whole segment of our nation has no trust in America. An apology is the first step, and we take it with a commitment to rebuild that broken trust. We can begin by making sure there is never again another episode like this one. 116 Recognition of Exceptional Military Service: Japanese American Veterans On October 5, 2010, President Barack Obama signed Public Law 111-254, which commended and conferred the Congressional Gold Medal collectively on three groups of Japanese American veterans who served with extraordinary distinction during World War II: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (the most-decorated unit in U.S. military history), the 100th Infantry Battalion, and 6000 Military Intelligence Services soldiers. The Congressional resolution affirmed that “The United States remains forever indebted for the bravery, valor, and dedication to country
these men faced while fighting a two-fronted battle of discrimination at home and fascism abroad.” 117 Redress of Federal Mismanagement of Native American Lands and Trust Funds Elouise Pepion Cobell, “Yellow Bird Woman” (1945-2011), an accountant who founded the first bank owned by a Native American tribe, grew up in a humble home on the Montana Blackfeet Indian reservation. She knew the ironic reality that many Native people are “land-rich” but live “dirt-poor.” 118 As Treasurer for the Blackfeet Nation, Cobell saw that despite much oil extraction from the reservation, the income from companies leasing the lands was meager. Discovering that “no accounts-receivable system was in place,” she began to research and to raise questions at agency meetings; 119 however, reporting the issue to officials repeatedly fell on deaf ears. The 1887 Dawes Act had authorized the President to set aside areas on reservations divided into individual parcels; persons accepting them became U.S. citizens. 120 The Department of the Interior managed a Trust program on their behalf, by issuing leases of parcels for mining, grazing, drilling for oil and gas, and placing the revenues in Individual Indian Money accounts, from which regular pay-outs would be sent to the individuals. 121 Cobell discovered that the “government trustee who managed the leasing…had never given Indians an accounting of their royalty payments. Not once over the course of a century!” 122 After all efforts to obtain trust account records were blocked, she filed a class-action lawsuit in 1996.123 Cobell v Babbitt charged that the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged the Indian Trust Funds per the 1887 Dawes Act, by “administrative errors, diversion of money to other programs and even outright theft…The government took the position that it owed them little or nothing.” 124 In 2009, after fourteen years of litigation, the government agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement. 125 It provided a $1000 payment to each land-holder, with the remaining monies going to a scholarship fund for Native American postgraduate students and a tribal land consolidation program. 126 When the bill (signed by President Obama in 2010) was approved by a federal judge in 2011, another round of appeals began, during which Cobell passed away from cancer. After the Supreme Court denied Justice Department lawyers’ petition for review, the settlement became final in 2012. 127 President Obama posthumously awarded Elouise Cobell the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. The recent settlement of the Indian Trust Funds case provided some redress to the Blackfeet Nation. But other Native American peoples have also suffered under the implementation of the federal legislation. It is now evident that this U.S. policy and its application dealt a host of serious wrongs and set-backs to the lives of many Native Americans. Much of this stems from their historical deprivation of political power in relation to the federal government. Here the observations of Federal Judge Royce Lamberth (a Republican, Reagan appointee who presided over Cobell vs. Salazar from 1996-2006) are telling: [The case] serves as an appalling reminder of the evils that result when large numbers of the politically powerless are placed at the mercy of institutions engendered and controlled by a politically powerful few. It reminds us that even today our great democratic enterprise remains unfinished. And it reminds us, finally, that the terrible power of government, and the frailty of the restraints on the
exercise of that power, are never fully revealed until government turns against the people. 128 Conclusion Sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith define a racialized society as one in which race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities and social relationships. … Due to the origins of the idea of race, the placement of people in racial groups always means some form of hierarchy. … A racialized society “allocates differential economic, political, social and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines: lines that are socially constructed.” 129 This overview of selected historical actions and events that created the United States as a society has illustrated the great extent to which the diverse groups now comprising the American people were assigned differential positions within a racialized society created early on: one that, for most of its history, has consistently bestowed political, economic, and social rewards on those among our forebears able to attain the status of whiteness, while withholding them variously from racialized non-white others. Racial ideas acquired their concrete force because of their articulation and enforcement in the system of laws created from the colonial period onward, and is even inscribed in the nation’s charter document, the Constitution of the United States. Christians who understand God’s desires for his world and who desire to be agents of his work of redemption in bringing his reign to bear upon the present world need to come to grips with the macro-history of their nations’ development (of which the United States is but one exemplar). Thus, the measures Bishop McElroy proposes—the retrieval and exchange of familial and ethnic communal stories with others in conversations at multiple levels, and collective celebrations of the diverse cultural heritages—are indeed invaluable resources contributing to a way forward for a society that shows signs of having lost our way. However, these experiences, struggles and accomplishments unfolded within the larger structural realities established by our nation’s racialized societal institutions. The former must be complemented by the latter. “Even today our great democratic enterprise remains unfinished.” 130 It is the continuing political, economic, and social inequities created by these historic racializing policies in our shared society must be addressed by Christians and Christian communities in solidarity and partnership with our neighbors, in order to realize the promise of “the American Creed.” It is hoped that the critical framework above provides readers with additional clarity and incentive to commit to rectifying the instances of injustices that we encounter which hinder the “forging [of] a more perfect union,” in the course of seeking the common good according to the opportunities each of us has to participate with God the Holy Trinity in enacting “loyal love, justice, and righteousness on earth” where he has placed us (Jeremiah 9:23-24). 1
The use of scare quotes with the term race indicates the view that the relation of the concept to its referent in reality is problematic. However, sociologists and others employing this convention typically omit the scare quotes with related forms (racial, racism, and the like). 2 The choice to examine “race” with respect to the United States takes a case-study approach. Choosing a particular instantiation is necessary because the specific ideas associated with “race,” the set of racial categories in use, the criteria applied to distinguish the “races,” and the consequences of racial classification vary with communities and their sociopolitical, economic, and cultural circumstances across space and time. See George Fredrickson, Racism:
A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002). Examination of this exemplar is intended to be instructive for studying “race” in other contexts. 3 Bishop Robert McElroy, “An Errand into the Wilderness: The Vocation of the Catholic Community in Healing Our Nation,” University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, March 15, 2018. 4 Daniel T. Rodgers, As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018). 5 John Winthrop, “Christian Charity: A Modell Thereof,” in Alden T. Vaughn, ed., The Puritan Tradition in America, 1620-1730 (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1997), 138-46. 6 Ibid, 146. 7 Samuel Danforth, “A Brief Recognition of New England’s Errand into the Wilderness,” Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1670, in The English Literatures of America: 1500-1800, ed. Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner (New York: Routledge, 1997), 467. 8 Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 1956), 15. 9 Pope Francis, “Address of the Holy Father,” Visit to the Joint Session of the United States Congress, September 24, 2015. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/september/documents/papafrancesco_20150924_usa-us-congress.html. 10 Elizabeth Y. Sung, “‘Race’ and Ethnicity Discourse and the Christian Doctrine of Humanity: A Systematic Sociological and Theological Appraisal.” Ph.D. dissertation, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois (2011), 136. 11 Elizabeth Y. Sung, “Culture, ‘Race,’ and Ethnicity in Christian Perspective: Theoretical and Theological Foundations for Multi-Ethnic Ministry” (Chicago: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, 2001), 85. 12 Elizabeth Y. Sung, “‘Racial Realism’ in Biblical Interpretation and Theological Anthropology: A Systematic-Theological Evaluation of Recent Accounts,” Ex Auditu 31 (2015), 6. 13 Ibid. 14 Francis Collins and Monique K. Mansoura, “The Human Genome Project: Revealing the Shared Inheritance of Humankind,” Cancer 91 (2001): 221-25. 15 Sung, “‘Racial Realism,’” 10. 16 Ibid., 11. See Deborah Bolnick, “Individual Ancestry Reference and the Reification of Race as a Biological Phenomenon,” in Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, ed. Barbara A. Koenig, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Sarah S. Richardson (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 70-85; and John Dupré, “What Genes Are and Why There Are No Genes for Race,” in Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, ed. Barbara A. Koenig, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Sarah S. Richardson (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 39-55. 17 “Racism.” Oxford Dictionary online. www.en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/racism 18 Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 7, 8, citing Robert Woodberry and Christian Smith, “Fundamentalism et al.,” Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1998): 25-26. 19 Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, rev. ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, 2008), 23-24. 20 Christopher Columbus, Epistola Christofori Colom…de Insulis Indie Supra Gangem. www.gilderlehrman.org/content/epistola-christofori-colom-de-insulis-indie-supra-gangem-exploration. 21 John Thornton, Africa and Africa in the Making of the Atlantic World: 1400-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 29. 22 Robert J. Miller, Lisa LeSage, and Sebastián López Escarcena, “The International Law of Discovery, Indigenous Peoples, and Chile,” Nebraska Law Review 89, no. 4 (2010), 832. 23 Catholic Church, Pope, Bullarium patronatus Portugalliae Regum in ecclesiis Africae, Asiae atque Oceaniae bullas, brevia, epistolas, decreta actaque sanctae sedis ab Alexandro III ad hoc usque tempus amplectens, vol. 1 (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Library, 1868), 22-23. English translation: http://unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com/2011/02/dum-diversas-english-translation.html. 24 Nicholas V, Romanus pontifex. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/nichol05/romanus-pontifex.htm. 25 Miller, LeSage, and Escarcena, “International Law of Discovery,” 833, 834. 26 Takaki, Different Mirror, 33. 27 Ibid., 35. 28 Ibid., 38. 29 Ibid., 44. 30 Ibid., 37-43. 31 Ibid., 39-40.
Ibid., 43. Ibid., 54. 34 Ibid., 53. 35 Ibid., 53, 54. 36 Ibid., 55. 37 Ibid., 66. 38 Ibid., 67. 39 Ibid., 69. 40 Ibid., 60. 41 An Act concerning Servants and Slaves. www.encyclopediavirginia.org/_An_act_concerning_Servants_and_Slaves_1705. 42 Takaki, Different Mirror, 66. 43 Ibid., 67. 44 Ibid., 62, 63. 45 David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, rev. ed. (New York: Verso, 1999), 20. 46 Takaki, Different Mirror, 63. 47 Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1962; original publication: New York: Harper Brothers, 1944), 1021. 48 “Declaration of Independence.” www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid. 51 “Articles of Confederation.” Library of Congress Research Guide. www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/ articles.html. 52 “The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” National Archives. www.archives.gov/foundingdocs/constitution-transcript. 53 Ibid. 54 “Observing Constitution Day.” National Archives. www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitutionday/ratification.html. 55 Johnson v M’Intosh. www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/21/543. 56 Takaki, Different Mirror, 93-98. 57 “Indian Removal: 1814-58.” www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html. 58 Albert K. Weinberg, Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1935), 112. Cited in Takaki, Different Mirror, 163. 59 Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Pres, 1981), 235. Cited in Takaki, Different Mirror, 164. 60 Takaki, Different Mirror, 142. 61 David Roediger, Wages of Whiteness, rev. ed. (New York: Verso, 1999), 134. 62 Takaki, Different Mirror, 140-41. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid.,142. 65 Roediger, Wages of Whiteness, 133, 137. Cf. Noel Ignatiev, How Irish Became White (London: Routledge, 1996). 66 Takaki, Different Mirror, 142, 150, 151. 67 Ibid., 142, 144-45. 68 Ibid., 152. 69 Ibid., 154. 70 Scott v. Sanford. Legal Information Institute. www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/60/393. 71 Abraham Lincoln, “Speech on the Dred Scott Decision,” June 26, 1857. www.teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/speech-on-the-dred-scott-decision/. 72 The Emancipation Proclamation. National Archives. www.archives.gov/exhibits/featureddocuments/emancipation-proclamation. 73 “General Sherman’s Order Providing Homes for the Freed Negroes.” New York Times (January 20, 1865). www.timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1865/01/29/78737924.html?pageNumber=1. 33
“Forty Acres and a Mule.” www.thoughtco.com/forty-acres-and-a-mule-1773319; cf. “Forty Acres Promise to Blacks Was Broken.” New York Times (October 25, 1994). www.nytimes.com/1994/10/25/opinion/l-40acres-promise-to-blacks-was-broken-628816.html. 75 Ernest Andrade, Jr., Unconquerable Rebel: Robert W. Wilcox and Hawaiian Politics, 1880–1903 (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1996), 130. 76 Merze Tate, The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 235. 77 “Newlands Resolution (Annexation of Hawaii).” www.law.cornell.edu/topn/newlands_resolution_annexation_of_hawaii; “The 1897 Petition Against the Annexation of Hawaii.” www.archives.gov/education/lessons/hawaii-petition. 78 Steven G. Koven and Frank Götzke, American Immigration Policy: Confronting the Nation’s Challenges (New York: Springer, 2010), 133; “The Immigration Act of 1924,” www.history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlights/1901-1950/The-Immigration-Act-of-1924/ 79 “The Immigration Act of 1924,” www.history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1901-1950/TheImmigration-Act-of-1924/. 80 “Who Was Shut Out? Immigration Quotas, 1925-27.” American Social History Project: Center for Media and Learning (CUNY) and Center for History & New Media (George Mason University) http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5078. 81 “The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act).” Office of the Historian of the State Department of United States. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/immigration-act. 82 Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in TwentiethCentury America. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006. 83 Ibid., 113. 84 Richard Rothstein and Terry Gross, “A ‘Forgotten History’ of How the U.S. Government Segregated America.” May 3, 2017. www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=526655831. 85 Katznelson, When Affirmative Action was White, 163. 86 Ibid., 164. 87 Ibid., 121. 88 Ibid., 113. 89 “A Brief History of Japanese American Relocation During World War II.” www.nps.gov/articles/ historyinternment.htm. Cf. “Japanese American Internment,” Encyclopedia Britannica www.britannica.com/event/ Japanese-American-internment#ref1201801. 90 Takaki, Different Mirror, 361-67. 91 Nicholas De Genova, “Immigration Policy, Twentieth Century,” in Suzanne Oboler and Deena J. González, eds., The Oxford History of Latinos and Latinas in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 2: 353. Cited in “Depression, War, and Civil Rights: Hispanics in the Southwest.” https://history.house.gov/Exhibitionsand-Publications/HAIC/Historical-Essays/Separate-Interests/Depression-War-Civil-Rights/. 92 Juan Roman García, Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1980), 217, cited in “Depression, War, and Civil Rights: Hispanics in the Southwest.” https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/HAIC/Historical-Essays/SeparateInterests/Depression-War-Civil-Rights/; Kitty Calavita, Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration and the I.N.S. (New York: Routledge, 1992), ii; Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004). 93 Takaki, Different Mirror, 371-80. Cf. “Voyage of the St. Louis,” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. www.encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/voyage-of-the-st-louis. 94 Takaki, Different Mirror, 376. 95 Ibid., 378. 96 W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1903), v. 97 Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 1004, 1021, emphasis added. Cited in Takaki, Different Mirror, 340. 98 “Lynching in America: Targeting Black Veterans,” Equal Justice Initiative. www.eji.org/reports/online/lynching-in-america-targeting-black-veterans. 99 Takaki, Different Mirror, 385. 100 “Desegregation of the Armed Forces.” Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/desegregation/large/index.php?action=bg. 101 “Military Integration Timeline.” www.archive.defense.gov/home/features/2008/0708_integration/military_integration_timeline.pdf.
Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace (New York: Random House, 2012), 723. “March on Washington.” www.nps.gov/articles/march-on-washington.htm. 104 “Freedom Summer.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. www.kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/freedom-summer. 105 See “Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act,” https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/ fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview. 106 Gerald R. Ford, “An American Promise,” February 19, 1976. www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/ document/0248/whpr19760219-015.pdf. 107 “Personal Justice Denied.” www.archives.gov/research/japanese-americans/justice-denied. Cf. House Resolution 122, 110th Congress, 2007-2008. www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/house-resolution/122/text. 108 “U.S. Public Law 100-383, August 10, 1988. 102 STAT 903.” www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-102/pdf/STATUTE-102-Pg903.pdf. Summary from H.R.442 - Civil Liberties Act of 1987. www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/house-bill/442/allactions?overview=closed&q=%7B"roll-call-vote"%3A"all"%7D. 109 “U.S. Public Law 100-383, August 10, 1988. 102 STAT 903.” www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/ STATUTE-102/pdf/STATUTE-102-Pg903.pdf. 110 “History of U.S. Military Contributions to the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” Military Medicine 170, April Supplement: 62. 111 “The Tuskegee Timeline.” United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm. 112 Frank W. Reynolds, “Nationwide Results in the Early Treatment of Syphilis with Penicillin.” The American Journal of Medicine 5, no. 5 (November 1948), 679. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/ pii/0002934348901430. 113 “The Tuskegee Timeline.” 114 “Peter Buxtun to Share Historic Tale.” www.bioethics.jhu.edu/events/peter-buxtun-to-share-historic-talenov-12/. 115 “The Tuskegee Timeline.” 116 William J. Clinton, “Presidential Apology.” May 16, 1997. www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/clintonp.htm. 117 U.S. Public Law 111-254, 111th Congress (October 5, 2010). http://uscode.house.gov/statutes/pl/111/254.pdf. 118 Melinda Janko, “Elouise Cobell: A Small Measure of Justice.” American Indian 14, no. 2 (Summer 2013), 2, 3. www.americanindianmagazine.org/story/elouise-cobell-small-measure-justice. 119 Ibid. 120 Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Dawes General Allotment Act.” www.britannica.com/topic/ Dawes-General-Allotment-Act. 121 “Elouise Pepion Cobell: Banker-Warrior.” September 23, 2014. http://montanawomenshistory.org/ elouise-pepion-cobell-banker-warrior/. 122 Janko, “Elouise Cobell,” 2. 123 Donald Lee Fixico, Bureau of Indian Affairs (Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing, 2012), 162. 124 Hevesi, “Elouise Cobell, 65, Dies.” 125 “Secretary Salazar Lauds Senate Passage of Five Historic Indian Country Settlements to Resolve Cobell Litigation and to Deliver Clean Water to Indian Communities.” U.S. Department of the Interior, November 19, 2010. www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Secretary-Salazar-Lauds-Senate-Passage-of-Five-Historic-Indian-CountrySettlements-to-Resolve-Cobell-Litigation-and-to-Deliver-Clean-Water-to-Indian-Communities. 126 Ken Salazar, “Fulfilling Our Promise in Indian Country,” November 30, 2010. www.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/11/30/fulfilling-our-promise-indian-country. 127 H.R. 4783, “Claims Resolution Act of 2010.” “The Indian Trust Fund Litigation: An Overview of Cobell vs. Salazar,” Congressional Research Service. www.everycrsreport.com/reports/RL34628.html. 128 Janko, “Elouise Cobell,” 5. 129 Emerson and Smith, Divided by Faith, 7, 8, citing Robert Woodberry and Christian Smith, “Fundamentalism et al.,” Annual Review of Sociology 24 (1998): 25-26. 130 Janko, “Elouise Cobell,” 5. 103
Agape and Eros and “The Logic of Scriptural Discourse”: Toward Conceptual Clarification1 By Elizabeth Y. Sung, Ph.D. What essentially characterizes divine love and the corresponding desiderata of human love and Christian love as revealed in Holy Scripture? In posing this general question, we confront matters that comprise a divine mystery (God’s love as revealed in Scripture, rendered intelligible and coherent by the Christian classical-theist doctrine of God as actus purus—especially the concept of divine simplicity) 2 and embark upon well-traveled theologico-ethical terrain. This particular inquiry is undertaken in an Anselmic spirit of “faith seeking understanding”; it aims to summarize and assess several influential theological accounts of the meaning of the term agape and the relevance of eros as they relate to descriptions of love within the immanent Trinity, God’s love for humans, human love for God, human self-love, and human neighbor-love found in the New Testament. Each of the specific theological definitions proposed will be examined for their explanatory precision and conceptual cogency in relation to several specific New Testament passages that have the status of loci classicae on the topic. Finally, an attempt will be made to relate the diverse claims to what is analytically contained in these biblical loci, showing their respective contributions to the presentation of agape in the New Testament as a whole. “The Logic of Scriptural Discourse”: A Methodological Note Testing all claims for their commensurability with Scriptural teaching as a whole is a method underpinned by two theological convictions advanced by the magisterial Reformers, and, arguably, especially by the Reformed tradition. The first affirmation, sola Scriptura, the so-called “formal principle of the Reformation,” names “Scripture alone” as the ultimate authority, the norma normans non normata (“norming norm”) that governs the norma normata (“normed norms”) of church tradition, reason, and experience. The second affirmation, an implicate of the first, states a general hermeneutical rule: Scriptura scripturae interpres (“Scripture is its own interpreter”). One influential statement, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), explains the import of both of these axioms for biblical interpretation and the formulation of doctrine and theology as follows (albeit presented in reverse order): 9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly. 10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture. 3 In other words, Holy Scripture is the final arbiter in all matters of Christian faith and practice, especially when varied human authorities make conflicting claims. Biblical teaching—the parts understood in light of the whole, and the whole in light of the parts, with the clear, more
perspicuous passages interpreting the more obscure ones—has magisterial authority. The Ecumenical Creeds—and, subsidiary to them, denomination-specific confessions, catechisms, and dogmatic accounts—have a ministerial authority. That is, they sub-serve the work of “the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture,” penetrating and illuminating the minds and hearts of God’s people (Hebrews 4:12-13) to convey instructive, corrective, and restorative truth with gracious power, in the lives of Christ’s followers as they meditate and internalize the Word of God (Psalm 1) and in the common life of congregations (especially through the public ministry of Word and Sacrament) within the Church catholic. A third axiom, pertaining to both Christian theology and Christian practice (or “life and morals”), states: ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbi Dei (“the church reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God”). 4 Faith continually searches for a more adequate understanding of matters that God has revealed, in order to better apprehend Him, His ways and will and become “one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17), fueling wholelife worship and growth “in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The aim is to be increasingly conformed to Christ in personal character and manner of life, and possessed by his life and power for goodness, participating in God’s world-project of reconciling, renewing, sanctifying, and bringing it to final perfection in Christ in the life of the world to come. Taken together, these three theological convictions establish a matrix and method for theological reflection, which may be stated as follows. Because Holy Scripture alone is the divinely-inspired disclosure of matters concerning the Christian faith and life otherwise inaccessible to us, it is sui generis: the only infallible norm and the touchstone for ascertaining authentic Christian teaching. The premium placed upon the disciplines of biblical exegesis and biblical theology as an expression of prima Scriptura derives from these convictions about the unique divine authority and plenary inspiration of the canonical writings received by the church universal: close and extensive attention to Holy Scripture should both generate and govern systematic theological reflection. Within this framework, developing a theological understanding of biblical teaching about a given matter is a process that begins with “analyses of the logic…of scriptural discourse,” 5 which affords interpreters the capacity to distinguish between biblical vocabulary and “concepts” as such and the substantive canonical “judgments” that the texts convey about the matter in their concrete linguistic form. The Agape-Eros Relation: The Matter Under Investigation In keeping with this approach—anchored in recourse to the Bible as prima Scriptura and ultima Scriptura—this study inquires into how two of the principal forms of love have been explicated in the Christian tradition. Four notable theological proposals will be examined; they exemplify a long-standing debate about the meaning, validity, and significance of the concept of eros in relation to the concept of agape. It is universally recognized that in extrabiblical Greek literature, the meaning of the verb agapao is rather obscure, and occurrences of the noun agape are virtually non-existent. The Septuagint translators used agape as an equivalent for the Hebrew term aheb—“an umbrella term for physical attraction and delight in things like food and sleep (Gn. 29:18; 27:4; Pr. 20:13) as well as love in interpersonal and God-man relationships.” 6 As is the case with other matters (e.g., the Gospels’ presentation of the expression “Son of Man” as Jesus’ preferred self-designation, coupled with his general reticence to lay claim to widely-used titles such as “Son of God” and “Messiah”), it may be inferred that the New Testament writers deliberately selected agape—a less familiar term
with a relatively underdetermined semantic field—to avoid confusion or conflation with other preexisting, more theory-laden terms, thereby reserving the conceptual space to carefully specify and more precisely render what is absolutely distinctive about the Christian proclamation of the triune God and the gospel, and the form of human life that it calls forth. It also is a well-known fact that the term eros is entirely absent from the New Testament writings, conspicuously so given its predominance as a motif in Platonism, which so profoundly structured and conditioned the religious and sociocultural thought-forms and practices of the world of Hellenistic antiquity within which Christianity was born. Historically, theologians have drawn divergent conclusions about the theological-ethical import of this lacuna. Patristic writers (e.g., Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa) thematized eros extensively. Augustine employed it systematically in his account of caritas as the preeminent theological virtue. Medieval theologians took up and developed Augustine’s concept of caritas, defining it as “faith formed by love.” The magisterial Reformers (e.g., Luther and Calvin) objected to this tradition of interpretation, based on exegetical arguments and (ultimately) doctrinal differences. Thus, this study compares how the theological concepts of agape and eros have been explicated, and seeks to clarify how they might be more clearly defined, distinguished, and related. Four relatively recent treatments—written by a Lutheran bishop, two Bishops of Rome, and an evangelical Protestant philosopher, respectively—each of which thematizes either agape or eros (or both, in the case of the first study)—are examined. We will summarize and briefly assess, in turn, the central claims of the following works: a treatise titled Agape and Eros by Anders Nygren, Bishop of Lund in the Lutheran Church in Sweden (1890-1978); 7 Deus Caritas Est, the first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI (1927- ); 8 an excerpt from Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II (1920-2005); 9 and “Getting Love Right,” an essay first delivered as a conference address by American philosopher Dallas Willard (19352013). 10 The key claims about the meaning of agape and eros advanced by the four treatments are summarized and weighed for their truth-value and salience as warranted by New Testament teaching. The aim is conceptual clarification, gaining greater purchase on these ideas, so as to illuminate further the nature and dynamics of the life that Christians are called to pursue, one essentially framed as a life of love. Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros Bishop Anders Nygren’s voluminous two-part treatise, Agape and Eros, has exerted a wide influence in the field of Christian ethics since its publication in Sweden in the 1930s. Subsequent writers such as C. S. Lewis and Pope John Paul II cite his study in their own treatments of these ideas. Nygren’s aim is “first, to investigate the meaning of the Christian idea of love; and secondly, to illustrate the main changes it has undergone in the course of history.” 11 Nygren postulates that the distinctive outlooks of religious systems are traceable to “fundamental motifs,” which “answer…a fundamental question of a ‘categorical’ nature” 12 posed by those systems. In this kind of analysis, he contends, “consideration of formal statements of doctrine is not enough; we must discover the underlying religious motif, the real motive forces behind them.” 13 In his typology, “Man’s desire for heavenly things, man’s fulfilling of the Law, and God’s own love freely bestowed on the sinner…are the fundamental motifs of Hellenism, Judaism, and Christianity.” 14 Eros, nomos, and agape are the answers supplied by these disparate
religious systems to the question of how the blessed life of human communion with the divine is attained; each of these “fundamental motifs” refers to a basic principle taken as centrally constitutive of the human good, which generates a distinctive form of piety and a corresponding ethical vision of life for its realization. 15 Nygren argues that eros and agape are “contrary motifs,” 16 diametrically opposed in meaning. Both in Plato and Neoplatonism, eros denotes a desire in finite creatures, born of poverty and need and awakened by encountering a good that it lacks, which gives rise to seeking the desired object in order to satisfy that unfulfilled longing for “the beautiful and the good.” 17 Eros is thus egocentric and acquisitive. In eros-based religions, the motive for directing one’s love toward the divine, the highest good, is what is self-advantageous; the quest for God is powered by human resolve to attain the state of blessedness. At bottom, eros piety is a calculative form of enlightened self-interest, leaving egocentrism intact. Even within a Christian framework, individuals striving to secure the Highest Good aim to fulfill their own potential and maximize their enjoyment of happiness (eudaemonia). From a Christian perspective, the chief objections to eros can be summarized in three tenets. First, “Eros is egocentric love, a form of self-assertion of the highest, noblest, sublimest kind”; second, it “is determined by the quality, the beauty and worth, of its object; it is not spontaneous, but ‘evoked’, ‘motivated;’” and in summation, “Eros recognizes value in its object—and loves it.” 18 In starkest contrast, Nygren contends, the New Testament writings (specifically, the Synoptic Gospels; the Pauline epistles; and the Johannine corpus) take pains to show that agape— not eros—is the distinctive essence of Christianity. There is a complete dis-analogy of motive— and hence of fundamental motif—between God’s agapic love for humans (which Christ’s followers are commanded to receive and to extend to both God and neighbors) and human eros, the desire for God and for others that seeks “a good that completes the self.” 19 In the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:32-34), Jesus draws a sharp distinction between human love and Divine, and so also between the love that is a natural growth and that which has its root in God’s love. The Divine love is unmotivated, the human motivated. Measured by the standard of Divine love…human love is… only a form of natural self-love, which extends its scope to embrace also benefactors of the self. In distinction from this natural love, which is displayed even by sinners, Christian love is spontaneous and unmotivated. 20 Unlike eros-desire, God’s agape is universal in scope: he does good to the ungrateful and the wicked. Agape is thus unevoked by any worthy quality (i.e., “spontaneous”: freely willed, unconditioned by any extraneous factor) and it is extended without expectation of reciprocity (“unmotivated” by personal gain). God’s agape is the prototype and ground of the neighbor-love and enemy-love that Christians are called to receive and to extend to others. The Pauline epistles, Nygren suggests, render “agape a technical term for Christian love.”21 Indeed, the “sublimest conception of God’s Agape ever given” 22 is set forth in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own agape in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Here God’s agape is identified with the cross of Christ; it is the supreme demonstration that divine love “gives itself away…sacrifices itself, even to the uttermost.” 23 Agape is utterly contrary to eros, the natural self-love that underlies merely human affections:
The spontaneity of Christian love means that it is directly opposed to all rational computation and calculation. Agape gives and sacrifices even where rational calculation would suggest that any sacrifice was useless. The Agape that is required [of Christians in the dual command to love God and neighbor] has its prototype in the Agape manifested by God, and therefore it must be spontaneous and unmotivated, uncalculating, unlimited, and unconditional. 24 God’s own agape is a love that “seeketh not its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). It is his uncalculating, non-self-seeking, “pure and unselfish love” 25 that empowers the human recipient—both in the first instance and thereafter—to respond with “the free—and in that sense spontaneous—surrender of the heart to God.” 26 In Paul’s writings, “Divine love dominates everything from beginning to end, freely giving and sacrificing for man, seeking him out, being shed abroad in his heart, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in his life.” 27 Crucially, God’s gift of agape liberates the Christian to obey God’s will “without any thought of reward” 28 whatsoever: the believer agapically loves God (with no self-concern vis-à-vis obtaining favor or merit) and his or her neighbors (including tormentors) without self-interest operating to incentivize or inhibit the outflow of God’s love in freely willed acts of forgiveness and generosity. The Johannine writings additionally contribute a “formal identification of God with 29 love.” “The identity of God and Agape is asserted in the twice repeated formula: ‘God is Agape’ (I John iv. 8, 16). ‘God is Agape’ gives the supreme formal statement of it. Nothing greater can be said than this: God is [Agape] love and love, Agape, is God.” 30 Nygren explains the entailments as follows: Love is one with the substance of God; God is love, and…not only in relation to fallen humanity but eternally in himself…The Johannine idea of love acquires a peculiar cosmic-metaphysical aspect, so that we can justly speak of a “metaphysic of Agape”…which forms the background of his view of love as a whole. God’s Agape is in the first instance the Father’s eternal love for the Son: “Thou lovedst me”, He says, “before the foundation of the world” (John xvii. 24; cf. iii. 35; v. 20; xv. 9). Love means here the self-communication of God to the Son, and it furnishes the starting-point of a series of self-communications—from God to Christ, from Christ to the disciple, from the disciple to the brethren. Just as God has loved Christ and imparted Himself to Him (John iii. 35; v. 20), so Christ has loved His disciples and imparted Himself to them (John xv. 9); and so they also are called to love one another and impart themselves to one another (John xiii. 35; xv. 12). 31 However, Nygren points out, two striking inconsistencies appear in John’s “metaphysic of Agape” as compared to the “unlimited” (unconditional) and “unmotivated” (non-self-serving) character of agape revealed in the Synoptic Gospels and Paul. The first concerns a “peculiar duality” in relation to the doctrine of God: On the one hand…the thought of God’s spontaneous, unmotivated love [is] carried to its utmost limit; God is love, in no sense whatsoever based on anything outside itself; it has its ground in God Himself, for it is His very essence….Love expresses something eternal and transcendent, something that was “before the foundation of
the world”; for even then God was love—in relation to the Son. On the other hand, this metaphysic of Agape…has something rationalizing and “motivated” about it. If the eternal love of the Father for the Son is the prototype of all that can be called Agape, the question inevitably arises: Does Agape here retain its original character? Is it still absolutely unmotivated? Is it not rather the case that the inherent worth of the Son is what makes Him the object of the Father’s love? If so, will not this have its effect, at least in some measure, on God’s love toward men, so that not even it is conceived as altogether spontaneous and unmotivated? The Johannine idea of Agape…actually occupies a somewhat uncertain position between unmotivated and motivated love. 32 The Johannine metaphysic of Agape…has its perils… precisely for the nature and content of the Christian Agape motif. Where the Father’s love for the Son is made the prototype of the life of Agape in general, there is always a danger that the unmotivated nature of Divine love may be insufficiently recognised. 33 Secondly, Nygren observes that John’s primary interest lies with “that little circle of believers whom Christ has taken out of the world…the object of Christ’s special love and care and of which the chief distinguishing mark is the members’ brotherly love for each other.” 34 As such, agape “acquires…a depth, warmth, and intimacy that are without parallel,” 35 and it also becomes particularistic, focused on Christian fellowship. But this generates an ethical problem: Just because [agape] love in John is limited to the narrower circle of “the brethren”, it is able to develop a far greater warmth and intimacy than it otherwise would; but this limitation involves for Christian love [agape] the risk of losing its original unmotivated character, and of being restricted to the brethren to the exclusion of outsiders and enemies. 36 These statements acknowledge that sharp differences exist in the descriptions of agape appearing in the New Testament. The Synoptic Gospels and Paul teach that “as freely giving and self-giving love, Agape is entirely independent of the value of its object” 37 and it is “absolutely unmotivated” by the criterion of personal gain. 38 But the Johannine presentation of agape “weakens” the former: [it] represents in a measure the transition to a stage where the Christian idea of love is no longer determined solely by the Agape motif, but by “Eros and Agape”. The Agape-metaphysic, the particularism, the uncertain position between unmotivated and motivated love, the modification in the direction of acquisitive love—all these contribute in their various ways to that development…of the otherwise alien Eros motif. 39 Nygren thus concludes his findings about the meaning of agape, reluctantly conceding that eros finds a footing in the Johannine writings, along with other “points of contact” with “essentially Oriental-Hellenistic” gnostic ideas (e.g., “light,” “life,” “know,” “spirit,” “glory,” and the like). 40 He resolutely insists that because “Christian love,” agape, is “unconditioned” by its object and is “absolutely unmotivated” by personal profit or loss, eros—that desire underlying all human
affections that is conditionally offered and self-serving, expecting gain through reciprocity—is incompatible with Christianity. However, he does not offer a resolution to this problem. Subsequently, Nygren argues that Augustine’s attempted synthesis of agape with eros subsumed in a master concept he designated caritas was unfortunate and unsuccessful: The possibility of a pure and unselfish love of God became a burning question for Medieval theology; and the reason was that it started like Augustine with the assumption that all love is acquisitive love and therefore, in the last resort, selflove. But if in every act of love man seeks his own bonum, how is it with Christian love, of which the Apostle says (1 Cor. xiii. 5) that it seeketh not its own? Especially 41 in the case of love to God, the love must indeed be pure love for God and not simply self-love in disguise. 42 Nygren contends that the conceptual conflation represented by caritas (identified with the radical priority of grace in Augustine’s understanding of election) displaced agape from the center and substantively altered its distinctive character as “unselfish love.” Eros—albeit a “higher,” sublimated form of natural self-love—inevitably became the predominant lens through which God’s love for humans and the believer’s love for God, neighbor-love, and self-love were explicated. He insists that—in concert with the break-through theological insight about the nature of justification in Romans 3-4—Martin Luther recovers the New Testament teaching about agape. According to Nygren’s representation and augmentation of Luther’s view, having heard and received by faith the gospel promise of the bestowal of the unmerited gift of justification—a judicial declaration crediting Christ’s personal righteousness to the believer in virtue of union with him, a status of objective righteousness established by God’s act alone (Romans 5:6-8)—there is nothing that remains for the believing sinner to accomplish. To be in Christ is to affirm with Paul that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20): thus, “Agape…excludes all self-love,” 43 all self-referentialism whatsoever. Contrary to all subsequent theologians’ attempts to distinguish between a “right and a wrong self-love” and to infer a directive to love oneself as implicit in the command to love one’s neighbor, Self-love is excluded by Paul’s fundamental principle. “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. viii. 39) is for him the archetype of all that can rightly be called Agape, and it is characteristic of this love that it gives itself, sacrifices itself. It is thus the direct opposite of acquisitive love. 44 … As Christ “pleased not himself,” we also as Christians “ought…not to please ourselves,” but “let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good” (Rom. xv. 1-3; cf. Phil ii. 4). When…Paul sets self-love and neighborly love in opposition to one another, he is not condemning merely a “lower self-love”, or the natural propensity to self-assertion, but all self-love whatsoever, even in its most highly spiritual forms. … Christian love must be ready, according to Paul, to sacrifice even its “spiritual” advantages and privileges, if need be, in the service of its neighbor. 45 On this view, self-regarding, self-enhancing motives—even in activities and projects undertaken to serve God and others—are completely obviated in life in Christ. The Christian is liberated by
the inflow and overflow of divine agape into his or her heart by the Holy Spirit to serve God, and the neighbor for his or her own sake, freely, disinterestedly, unreservedly, without partiality or prejudice, with no fear of personal loss or expectation of personal gain. The believer simply offers to God a response of grateful self-surrender in which he or she lives as a conduit of the continual inflow and outflow of God’s agape, directed upwardly toward God and outwardly toward neighbor. Evaluation The principal texts in the Synoptic Gospels and Pauline epistles that Nygren adduces for defining agape as “a pure and unselfish love” present it as qualitatively different in motivation and in kind, over against natural human affections based on affinity whose premise is reciprocity. Agape is that kind, merciful, generous love that God expresses in actively doing good to his enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36); it is supremely displayed in the cruciform act of love in which Christ lays down his life in sacrifice in order to benefit those at enmity with him, securing their justification, reconciliation, and life in him (Romans 5:6-8). Hence, agapic love is unmotivated by self-interest; it is non-self-serving (1 Corinthians 13:5). Nygren’s description of agape meets the test of exegetical adequacy with respect to these particular passages. Nygren also rightly insists that with reference to these biblical texts, agape is not reconcilable with eros as he casts it: “(1) Eros is the ‘love of desire’, or acquisitive love; (2) Eros is man’s way to the Divine; (3) Eros is egocentric love.” 46 However, in two crucial respects, Nygren is unable to satisfactorily account for the apparent disparities between the character of agape as “spontaneous” and “unmotivated” (per the divine archetype and source whereby Christians are commanded to love their enemies, accentuated in Paul and the Synoptics) and the Johannine “metaphysic of agape.” First, the doctrine of the Trinity—especially when interpreted in light of divine simplicity—renders his proposal that the love that the Father has for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father is “absolutely unmotivated” both implausible and unnecessary. Why this is the case will emerge from engaging with and developing the account offered by Pope John Paul II below. Second, Nygren aptly observes that John’s primary focus on the warm love obtaining within the family of God seems to make agape conditional, restricted, and motivated (i.e., the functional equivalent of eros). Eros “weakens” the radically universal and non-self-serving thrust of agape in the teaching of Jesus and Paul. Given Nygren’s interpretation of eros, his ambivalence toward the Johannine perspective is unsurprising. However, the concept of eros admits of more than one construal. It is precisely Nygren’s specific definition of eros and his framing of the agapeeros relation as virtually contradictory motifs that hamper his ability to resolve the problem of apparently disparate viewpoints within the New Testament witness regarding the character of agape. Interacting with the insights of Benedict XVI will offer a way forward. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est The topic that Pope Benedict XVI selected for his first encyclical letter of December 25, 2005, Deus Caritas Est, “On Christian Love”—“the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others”—was a daring choice, indicating his clear-sighted pastoral awareness of the existential and evangelistic challenges that the clergy, religious, and laity of the Catholic Church (and other Christians) face in embodying and proclaiming the gospel in a coherent and compelling way in contemporary society. 47 The introduction presents two key affirmations in
1 John 4:16: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” and “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us,” accompanied by a sketch of their implications in light of Christ’s conjoining of the first and second great commandments. Part I of the Encyclical—a “more speculative” discussion that lays the groundwork for Part II, the practice-oriented section—sets forth “some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love.” 48 Noting that the term “love” possesses a “vast semantic range,” Benedict asks: “are all [of the variegated] forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?”49 While the letter addresses the agape-eros relation, and it begins by positing them as different but ultimately unified forms of love, it is principally occupied with offering a positive Christian account of eros, particularly focusing on how human sexual desire reaches its divinelyintended, mature expression in marital love: the definitional point of departure is “that love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, which was called eros by the ancient Greeks.” 50 After briefly reviewing the meanings of eros, philia, and agape, Benedict observes: “The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love.” 51 A “rapid overview of the concept of eros past and present” follows. 52 Contrary to the popular modern accusation that Christianity “poisoned eros,” the Old Testament rejected not eros itself, but the “counterfeit divinization” of an “intoxicating and undisciplined eros,” celebrated in the fertility cults and mystery religions in antiquity, whereby ascent to the divine was ostensibly achieved through sexual union with temple prostitutes. 53 In the biblical perspective, such practices were exploitative and degrading; although “a certain relationship between love and the Divine” exists, to which human sexual desire (eros) points, “fully realiz[ing] its divine and human promise” of “infinity and eternity” is not attained by merely yielding to “instinct.” 54 Rather, eros “needs to be purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.” 55 Agape, on the other hand, is “the typical expression for the biblical notion of love.” 56 In the Song of Songs, the Hebrew ahaba (translated as agape by the Septuagint) “expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that prevailed earlier. Love now becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking…instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing for sacrifice.” 57 Benedict further explains, It is part of love’s growth towards higher levels and inward purification that it now seeks to become definitive…both in the sense of exclusivity…and in the sense of being “forever”…Love is indeed “ecstasy,” not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inwardlooking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God. 58 In this description of the developmental trajectory of (unspecified) “love,” it is difficult to analytically distinguish eros from agape, except as “selfish” love which, at some point in a growth process, is intended to become “self-giving.”
Reprising the general questions posed at the outset, Benedict concisely states his own view of the agape-eros relation as follows. The term “eros…indicate[s] ‘worldly’ love and agape refer[s] to [human] love grounded in and shaped by faith”—distinctions also characterized as “ascending” as distinct from “descending,” or “possessive” rather than “oblative” love. 59 He rejects their construal as strict opposites, observing that doing so would sever the point of existential contact between Christians and the world. Instead, “‘love’ is a single reality but with different dimensions that require to be realized… God loves, and his love certainly may be called eros, yet it is also totally agape.” 60 “God’s eros for man is also totally agape.” 61 The Old Testament prophets depict “God’s passion for his people using boldly erotic images,” 62 and in light of the New Testament, “the Logos is a lover with all the passion of a true love.” 63 The essential compatibility of eros and agape, he contends, is seen most clearly in the incarnate life of Christ: “in Jesus Christ, it is God himself who goes in search of…a suffering and lost humanity.” 64 “God’s passionate love [i.e., eros] for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love [i.e., agape]. It is so great that it turns God against himself; his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the cross; so great is God’s love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love.” 65 Indeed, Christ’s “death on the cross is the culmination of the turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ (cf. Jn 19:37), we can understand the starting-point of this Encyclical Letter: ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8).” 66 Returning to the divine-human relationship, the Encyclical observes, “love is not merely a sentiment…Mature love…calls into play all man’s potentialities; it engages the whole man, so to speak. Contact with the visible manifestations of God’s love can awaken within us a feeling of joy born of the experience of being loved. But this encounter also engages our will and our intellect.” “The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide.” 67 A whole-person, “intimate encounter with God…which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings” is the necessary precondition for love of neighbor: It consists in the fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings…Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first…Love is ‘divine’ because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28). 68 Benedict’s letter thus expounds “Christian love” by treating 1 John 4 as the locus classicus text, demonstrating that the idea of eros qua passionate desire is implicit in biblical teaching, and that it attains its intended fruition in human relations by agape qua sacrificial, self-giving love. Evaluation Deus caritas est is an engaging and accessible piece of pastoral instruction regarding the relation of divine love to human love. Part I is “speculative” 69 rather than exegetical in its
explication of eros and agape. While Benedict acknowledges at the outset that the New Testament writers do not employ the term eros, following the Augustinian tradition, he proceeds to treat “Christian love” 70 primarily in terms of eros, whose chief exemplar is human sexual desire: “that love that imposes itself between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings,” 71 which finds its intended fulfillment in marriage. This is in marked contrast to Nygren, who insists that agape is “Christian love.” For the present purposes, what is most notable is the fact that despite the complete silence of the New Testament with regard to eros as such—and contra Nygren’s largely rejectionist, fundamentally ambivalent stance toward eros—Benedict sketches an account of biblical exemplars that conceptually approximate eros (albeit in several different senses, as appropriate to the referent). First, with respect to God, especially as enriched by the New Testament revelation of the Logos, eros may be predicated of God because his “creation is dear to him.” 72 Eros also pertains with reference to God’s love for Israel: “the Prophets … described God’s passion for his people using boldly erotic images” such as the metaphors of betrothal and marriage, such that “idolatry is thus adultery and prostitution.” 73 The eros of God for his covenant people (and humanity in general) takes analogous forms in creatures. Human eros is the desire to seek for God: “Man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration.” 74 Second, eros also is expressed in the human impulse “to seek in another the part that can make him whole, the idea that only in communion with the opposite sex can he become ‘complete.’” Eros “somehow rooted in man’s very nature” and it “directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfill its deepest purpose.” The “exclusive and definitive” one-flesh relationship of marriage is an “icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa.” 75 Agape, on the other hand, is “[graced human] love grounded in and shaped by faith.” 76 In contrast to “eros” (ascending, possessive or covetous love), it is “descending” or “oblative” love. This “love grounded in and shaped by faith” moves eros (passionate desire) beyond its initially “selfish character,” becoming “concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking…instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.” 77 There is one point on which this exposition of eros as passionate desire—ascribable to God in the first instance and analogically to humans and other creatures—generates a problem. Of course, the Encyclical is not a scholarly treatise directed to specialists; rather, it intends to “clarify certain essential facts” about Christian love in an accessible manner to the faithful whose backgrounds vary widely. However, the letter takes pains to sketch the pertinent beliefs of rival religious and philosophical systems, and it is rife with footnotes for serious readers, directing them, e.g., to works by Plato and Pseudo-Dionysius, Pope Gregory the Great; Augustine, Ambrose, Descartes, Pope John Paul II, and other writers. In view of this fact, there is something of a missed opportunity with respect to bringing to readers’ attention—even briefly, in footnotes—theological concepts, distinctions, and qualifications bearing on several specific statements. First, to avoid predicating internal moral and/or personal conflict to God, indicating the distinction between the immanent Trinity and the economic Trinity, and the classical-theist notions of divine simplicity, immutability, and impassibility could have explained more precisely how to interpret the anthropopathic assertions that “God’s passionate love for his people…is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.” 78 Similarly, a reference to the Chalcedonian Definition of Faith and a brief
summary of its import for Christology (perhaps citing the Athanasian Creed) could have clarified and rendered more consistent the assertion that Jesus’ “death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him.” 79 Benedict offers a compelling account that predicates eros to God and to human persons, citing biblical exemplars to show that it is both proper and fruitful to do so. However, is a yet more comprehensive conception of eros available—one whose scope extends beyond Benedict’s construal of it as “passionate desire,” predominantly focused on its instantiation in human sexual desire, applicable (metaphorically) to the divine-human relationship and (literally) to interhuman, male-female relationships fulfilled in marriage? Additionally, do “forgiving love” 80 and “purifying [eros-] love” suffice as summative descriptions of agape? The following proposals address these questions. John Paul II, Theology of the Body In his treatise, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, after citing Nygren’s study approvingly on specific points, 81 Pope John Paul II observes that “the term eros has many semantic nuances.” 82 Thus, “taking such a vast range of meanings into account, one should evaluate in an equally nuanced way what relates to ‘eros’ and is defined as ‘erotic.’” 83 In Plato, he notes, “eros is the inner power that attracts man to all that is good, true, and beautiful.”84 Additionally and crucially, he introduces the concept of “ethos”: in philosophical and theological usage, it “embrac[es] in its content the complex spheres of good and evil that depend on the human will and are subject to the laws of conscience and of the sensibility of the human ‘heart.’ 85 More specifically, he writes, eros and ethos are related: If we suppose that “eros” is the inner power that “attracts” man to the true, the good, and the beautiful…[then] the call to what is true, good and beautiful means, at the same time in the ethos of redemption, the necessity of overcoming what derives from the threefold concupiscence. It also means the possibility and the necessity of transforming what has been weighed down by the concupiscence of the flesh… [In Christ’s call] the “eros” and “ethos” do not diverge, are not opposed to each other, but are called to meet in the human heart, and to bear fruit in this meeting. What is worthy of the human “heart” is that the form of the “erotic” is at the same time the form of “ethos,” that is, of that which is “ethical.” 86 “Ethos” is connected with the discovery of a new order of values… The task of the human spirit…is by its nature an ethical task. If one does not assume this task…man, male and female, does not experience the fullness of “eros,” which implies the upward impulse of the human spirit toward what is true, good, and beautiful, so that what is “erotic” also becomes true, good, and beautiful. It is therefore indispensable that ethos becomes the constitutive form of eros. 87 These excerpts from John Paul’s magisterial account of God’s intent for human sexuality, love, and well-being offer a description of eros within an expanded frame of reference (ethics), one that complements the concept put forward by Benedict.
Evaluation As seen above, Nygren construes the platonic and neoplatonic idea of eros as an irredeemably acquisitive and egocentric desire that fuels a self-reliant, ultimately futile religious quest to attain “the beautiful and the good” and immortality. Thus he totally disallows this selflove as proper to “Christian love.” But John Paul II’s observations and contributions, excerpted here, suggest a larger framework and permit an alternate rendering of eros within it. Here, human eros is defined as “the upward impulse of the human spirit toward what is true, good and beautiful,” i.e. “the inner power that ‘attracts’ man to the true, the good, and the beautiful.” By situating eros in the domain of ethos—the ethical or moral sphere, defined by the “new order of values” that, for Christians, corresponds precisely to the “the ethos of redemption” to which Christ calls them, a much broader account can be developed from the specific case of marriage. Specifically, this essentially theocentric, ethical conception of eros identifies that which humans are created for, and thus find themselves drawn to and yearning for: all that is objectively true, good, and beautiful—fully, perfectly, infinitely so in reference to communion with the triune God, and derivatively in reference to the divine order (the Kingdom of God, i.e., that state of affairs that prevails wherever his “good, pleasing and perfect will” for the flourishing of his creation, corresponding to his moral excellence and redounding to his glory, is realized: cf. Matthew 6:910; Romans 12:1-2; Revelation 21-22:5). Eros in this sense corresponds to the human expressions of desire for and delight in communion with God that pervade the Old and New Testaments (e.g., Psalm 63:1-5). Analogous to this is the desire for relationship embedded in the goodness of human sexuality in God’s design, engendered in the mutual recognition, desire, and call to realize the good to which a man and a woman respond when they are united in holy matrimony, which becomes the context for a schooling in sanctification in “the ethic of redemption,” as developed by John Paul II in his exposition of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. This outline of eros provided by John Paul II dispels the chief worries of Protestants such as Nygren regarding the inclusion of the concept of eros within a Christian worldview, especially the objection that the biblical writers (the Septuagint translators and the New Testament authors) conspicuously avoided the term. It demonstrates that the Platonic idea of eros can be appropriated and rendered intelligible within the Christian worldview, even as it is substantively refined by being placed within the framework of Trinitarian theism. This expanded context and content provides the ontological and moral framework within which all creaturely desires proper to human persons can find their rightful place, restored, renewed and sanctified in Christ through the Spirit. The biblically grounded, speculative theology of John Paul II offers an important resource to many evangelical Protestant accounts, whose tendency to avoid the employing concept of eros, by and large, results in a lack of the conceptual means to do fuller justice to these matters. 88 Dallas Willard, “Getting Love Right” Does “forgiving love” 89 suffice as a definition of agape, per the summative description of Benedict XVI? And can still more be said than Nygren does, that it consists in “a pure and unselfish love,” 90 one “that gives itself away, that sacrifices itself, even to the uttermost”? 91 In his essay, “Getting Love Right,” the American philosopher Dallas Willard observes that while “the apostle John is usually thought of as the apostle of love…what Paul says about it, as well as his practice, can help us to get love—and therewith all the other “loves” of the Greek and
other languages—right.” 92 Treating 1 Timothy 1:5 (which states that agape is the aim of Christian instruction); Romans 13:10 (which indicates that obedience to God’s law is a by-product of agape); and 1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1 (which comprises the most expansive description of agape) as “guidelines” for understanding the nature of agapic love, he makes the following key claims: That love of which [Paul and Jesus] spoke [i.e., agape] is something (whatever it is, exactly)…that arises out of certain prior conditions of the whole self, something which involves an orientation of the whole self toward what is good and right, and something which has amazing, supernatural power for good as it indwells the individual. (Cp. Col. 1:9-12) 93 Love [agape] is an overall condition of the embodied, social self poised to promote the goods of human life that are within its range of influence. It is, then, a disposition or character (a second-level potentiality or potency, in Aristotelian terminology): a readiness to act in a certain way under certain conditions. It is not an action, nor a feeling or emotion, nor, indeed, an intention, as “intention” is ordinarily understood—though it gives rise to intentions and to actions of a certain type, and is associated with some “feelings” and resistant to others. This understanding of love [agape] as an overall disposition of the human self…alone does justice to…the New Testament [teaching] about love and gives us a coherent idea of love that can be aimed at in practice and implemented. 94 Our aim under [agape] love is…to be a person possessed by love [agape] as an overall character of life, whatever is or is not going on. The “occasions” are met with from that overall character. I do not come to my enemy and then try to love them, I come to them as a loving person…God himself doesn’t just love me or you, he is love. He is creative will for all that is good. That is his identity, and explains why he loves individuals, even when he is not pleased with them. We are directed by Paul to “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us.” (Eph 5:1-2) We are called and enabled to love as God loves. 95 [1 Corinthians 13:4-8 indicates that] patience, kindness, humility, etc., arise from the overall disposition of love because it is directed to what is good and right before God and not to the gratification of desires and emotions, except insofar as they are under the governance of the overall disposition of love…Paul [does] not say that we are to be patient, kind, humble and so forth, but that love itself is patient, kind, humble, etc…So we “pursue love” and the rest takes care of itself. 96 Agape love is not desire and not delight. Desire and feelings…aim at their satisfaction, not at what is better and possibly best. Choice considers alternatives and weighs what is best. If its vision is broad enough, it will find what is good and right. If it is surrendered to God, united with his will, it will be able to do what is best…Love…seeks what is best. That is why it enables a person to refrain from hating their enemy, which they might very well want to do, and to seek what is good for them along with all others involved. 97
In Willard’s multi-dimensional model of the human person, the will is one’s “capacity to originate things and processes…the executive center of the self: the heart or human spirit. It is meant to direct all dimensions of the self, not by direct and explicit supervision, for the most part, but by indirect means with God.” 98 As he writes elsewhere, it is in practicing “the disciplines for life in the Spirit” 99—as integral to the personal commitment to follow Jesus in his lived example and teaching—that disciples “are drawn toward his likeness” by the indwelling Spirit who makes him present, resulting in an increasing transformation of character into genuine Christlikeness.100 Within this spiritual formation framework—the context in which personal renewal occurs for disciples of Jesus— we can undertake actions that remove the barriers to love that reside in the various dimensions of the self. They may reside in the will itself, ultimately the root of all the resistance to love: the will as a stubborn resolve to have one’s own way, to control others, and to be exalted. Such a person will be governed by the desires of the eyes and of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). They are quite certainly headed for a life of disappointment and anger, full of attempts at clever manipulation and hypocrisy. To escape such a life they have to surrender self-will as their governing principle, a hardened resolve to have one’s own way. They will have to yield their will to good and to God, and learn to seek what is good for others as well as one’s self. That is what love does. Thus we have the basic spiritual teaching about “death to self.” 101 Consider a simple practice and command of Jesus, such as blessing those who curse you, praying for those who mistreat you, and remaining vulnerable to those who have hurt you. (Luke 6:28-20) [Removed from] legalisms and put into the category of natural expressions of the person who lives in love, they become things that people can learn to put into practice and find to be all-around much better for themselves and others than the ways of “the world.” [We must] teach…what these practices are—for example, blessing those who curse you—and why they are good and how they are possible. The bodily habits and social patterns which are shaped to curse when you are cursed and strike when you are struck will have to be reformed by consciously practicing contrary, loving responses until they become habitual. The conditions necessary to such retraining must be put in place and cultivated. We then can develop to the place where, when we are rejected, abused, or mistreated, our mind and body responds, not with an automatic “Here is a person to curse, reject and harm,” but with “Here is a person in need of blessings.” To bless them is to explicitly will their good under the invocation of God. 102 Once you get it right as to what…love is, you can begin to move into it as a practical and realistic option for living and can lead others into it. Love ceases to be the hopeless task of doing loving things: the things that love, if you had it and it had you, would do. It rests in the love of God for us and casts all care upon him because he cares for us. 103 There is, indeed, no greater love than this love, and within it all of the “loves” of human existence serve their particular goods without destructiveness. 104
Thus, Willard differentiates agape from “desire and delight” (i.e., eros), acts of the will, and deeds as such, issuing from an underlying characterological condition that is oriented to doing what is good and right toward others, seeking their best. Evaluation Willard’s essay, focusing chiefly on Pauline texts, contributes to the conceptual clarification of agape in several notable respects. First, agapic love is “an overall condition of the…self poised to promote the goods of human life that are within its range of influence.” 105 Most specifically, he identifies agapic love with God, “who is creative will for all that is good”: this “explains why he loves individuals, even when he is not pleased with them.” 106 Being objectively identified with God himself, agape is inseparable from all that comprises his moral excellence— a fundamentally and continually gracious disposition or character toward human beings, as profiled in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Secondly, agapic love is a communicable divine attribute, concretely personified by Jesus: it is “an orientation of the whole self toward what is good and right, and something which has amazing, supernatural power for good as it indwells the individual.” 107 It is a supernatural strengthening (imparted inwardly by the Holy Spirit) to love, discern, and to choose the good in God, with God, and before God, that enables the second-level potentiality in human nature to become ontic in regenerate individuals who comprise Christian communities. Third, as such, human agapic love is “not desire and not delight” (i.e. not eros);108 moreover, it is “not an action, nor a feeling or emotion, nor, indeed, an intention.” 109 Rather, agape describes an underlying “disposition or character,” 110 an orientation toward “what is good and right” 111 expressing a determinate condition of directedness toward God’s will, hence considering and choosing “what is good and right before God.” 112 It requires divine empowerment and support in learning to consistently prefer “what is best”: 113 what is “good for everyone involved,”114 “whatever is or is not going on” circumstantially (in the face of rejection or favor, opposition or support from the neighbors one encounters). 115 Agapic love in this sense is sharply differentiated from the natural (and, arguably, also the regenerate) human affections on which eros- and philia-based relationships are built. Both of the latter are conditioned, invariably selective, favoring only those persons in whom they find some attractive quality or basis for affinity; affiliation hinges to some extent on the expectation of mutual advantage and reciprocity. In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus observes that natural human relations operate upon and are wholly explicable by these factors and dynamics (here, eros is the functional equivalent). In conspicuous contrast, the agapic love he and his Father possess, and whom his disciples are commanded to imitate, runs directly contrary to those natural, contingent and delimited interests and incentives: agapic love is a readiness to promote the well-being of others, acting to secure for them the goods of human life, in concrete, consistent, selfless acts of generosity and blessing that are within the range of feasibility (in Luke 6, loving one’s enemies [vv. 27, 35]; “doing good” [vv. 33, 35], “lending, expecting nothing in return” [v. 35], and showing “kindness” and “mercy” to “the ungrateful and the wicked” [vv. 35, 36]). In other words, agapic love is the divine power for good that consistently seeks and does what is best for individuals, “even when [one] is not pleased with them” vis-à-vis personally appealing qualities (eros) and—most importantly—when moral excellence (what is objectively good, true, and beautiful in God) is utterly lacking: “sinners” (Luke 6:32, 34) and, most pointedly, one’s “enemies” (Luke 6:27, 35; cf. Romans 5:6-8).
Conclusion Our survey of the theological conceptualizations of agape in the New Testament examined the treatments given by Nygren, Benedict XVI, and Willard. Moreover, in contradistinction to Nygren’s objection to eros—it included a consideration of that concept as put forward by Benedict XVI and John Paul II. John Paul’s specification of eros and Willard’s specification of agape are commensurable, and offer a way forward from the impasse in this debate. They suggest that there are several senses whereby loci classicae biblical texts setting forth key claims about the substantive reality of agape can be explained, distinguished and related to the meaning of eros (an extrabiblical term) proposed by Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Agape First, Willard’s conceptualization of agape locates it as “an overall condition of the self…poised to promote the goods of human life that are within its range of influence.” 116 In other words, agape designates “a disposition or character” 117 that is itself “an orientation of the whole self toward what is good and right,” 118 characterizing, first and foremost, God himself, and, derivatively and correlatively, human persons in God. In this description, the coinherence of agape with goodness and righteousness corresponds to the explicitly moral definition of eros in the Christian ethos given by John Paul II. Willard also describes it as the conveyance of “a supernatural power for good” 119 to the believer, an outlook and disposition sustained by the indwelling Holy Spirit, distinctively recognizable as a “readiness to promote” 120 the goods conducive to another’s well-being, irrespective of what “is or is not going on” 121 vis-à-vis oneself (i.e., choosing, selflessly and unconditionally, what is best for all involved, from God’s perspective). Willard’s description of agape contributes a further measure of substantive precision to the description of agape offered by Nygren and by Benedict XVI, whose account of “forgiving love” and “purifying love” best accords with the Johannine outlook, but does not treat the naturally counter-intuitive, humanly impossible cases that both Jesus in the Sermon the Mount (Matthew 5:43-48; cf. Luke 6:27-36) and Paul (Romans 12:9, 14, 17-21; 13:8-10) require of Christians. These texts exemplify and enjoin agape as the love that distinguishes Christ-followers from “tax collectors” and “pagans” (Matthew 5:46, 47) and evil-doers and enemies who inflict harm (Romans 12:14, 17, 20). More generic notions of Christian love—especially those that confuse or conflate “desire and delight” (eros) with agape—have had difficulty accounting for the conditions under which following these instructions—to do good, act generously toward, bless and forgive one’s adversaries and tormentors, to give without expectation of return—become possible, much less desirable. Eros On the question of the relation of eros to agape, Nygren’s attempt to exclude eros and to construe Christian love as singularly comprised of agape was overdrawn. Eros is certainly analytically distinct from agape, and it is entirely absent as a lexical form in the New Testament. However, more carefully defined—both by Benedict, and especially by John Paul II—it has a proper place in the biblical vision of God’s love. Nygren was right to insist that agape is “not selfseeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5) and to disallow the Platonic notion of eros as a lover seeking satisfaction of an unfulfilled desire by attaining and possessing an object bringing completion. That is, rightly understood, God’s love and motive in creating, sustaining and redeeming the cosmos manifests the superabundance of divine goodness and generosity, and is not, properly
speaking, self-seeking. However, as Benedict notes, God’s passionate love for his people (and the created order as a totality) is depicted and expressed in Scripture (e.g., the Song of Songs and Hosea) employing the analogy of marriage as a sign pointing beyond itself to its ultimate consummation in the fullness of life in God in the world to come. And in discussing its special instantiation in the marital relationship, John Paul II draws our attention to the fact that the innate, creaturely, human hunger for what is true, good, and beautiful (eros) is intended to be fully coextensive with its full ethical realization, in union and communion with God in the divine order. It is the scope of Willard’s global description of God’s disposition that corresponds to the affirmations in 1 John 4:7 and 16b that “love comes from God” and that “God is love” (even as, in v. 10, the focus shifts to the particular sense of God’s gift of his Son as an atoning sacrifice for sins, and this, moreover, within a passage addressed to the Christian community, i.e., regenerate persons who experience new affections for God and “brotherly love” because of the indwelling Holy Spirit). God consistently agapically loves all creation, desiring its good, parts and whole, a love, or benevolence, that he maintains in all his relations to the creaturely order ad extra, in relation to which he has acted to secure its well-being in the missions of the Son and the Spirit, and in view of which he remains ever-poised and active in doing good to his creatures. Within this all-encompassing reality, God agapically loves creatures who are, strictly speaking, unlovable from the standpoint of eros, i.e. the pleasure he takes in what is actually and purely true, good, and beautiful. Willard’s conceptualization, then, provides an exegetically apt and positive description of divine love that explains the logic of specific New Testament texts (the negatively- and positively-cast descriptions), even as it establishes the positive and most comprehensive sense in which the variegated forms of natural human love (e.g., eros, philia, and the like) are conceptually subsumable and explicable as finite instantiations of God’s consistent disposition in relating to the world, expressive of his constancy in freely offered, benevolent generosity, desiring and ever-ready to act to secure its full well-being and flourishing in union with him. 1 The expression, “the logic of scriptural discourse,” is coined by David Yeago, in “The New Testament and the Nicene Dogma: A Contribution to the Recovery of Theological Exegesis,” Pro Ecclesia (1994), 152. Its significance is discussed below. 2 What, after all, is “love”? How does it pertain to the triune God, and how does God communicate it to creatures? Minimally, we may state that it is one of the essential moral attributes of the triune God, a divine power or energy (energeia) which, in God, is eternally and perfectly actualized, and which is consistently and fully expressed in his relations ad extra. Although the Christian classical-theist view of God as actus purus and the corollary concepts of divine simplicity, divine immutability, and divine impassibility are now disputed matters, I propose that a carefully qualified account of this conceptual framework can be held as implicates derived from what is analytically contained in Scriptural discourse. More specifically, I suggest that these ideas can be inferred from three climactic passages in the book of Exodus relating YHWH’s self-disclosure to Moses of his proper name, accompanied by three distinct and complementary self-descriptions. First, YHWH’s self-introduction in Exodus 3:14-15 reveals the divine name, identity and personal agency in a formulation (“I AM WHO I AM”) that implies his metaphysical attributes (e.g., his unity, aseity, eternity, independence, necessity, omnipresence, omnisufficiency, and perfection, i.e. integrity without change), in an absolute contrast with the essences and attributes of finite, contingent, creaturely entities. Second, in Exodus 33, in response to Moses’s audacious request to behold the divine glory (v. 18), YHWH provides (in vv. 19-20) a succinct summary highlighting several moral attributes among the divine perfections: what is revealed of the divine “glory” is “all my goodness” (v. 19) and the subsequent self-description highlights, in order, his sovereignty (his absolute freedom to will all possibilities consistent with himself as the Supreme Good,
unconditioned by any other consideration, v. 19a); his free decision to relate to his creation in grace (determining to show mercy and compassion to those he wills, v. 19b); and his absolute, inviolate holiness (v. 20), in relation to which he is intrinsically, eternally separate from all that is disordered, unrighteous, and in conflict with him (a condition precluding the visio Dei for those not fully sanctified, e.g. Moses). Third, the promised revelation of YHWH’s infinite “goodness” (Exod. 33:19) or “glory” (Exod. 33:18, 22) in Exodus 34:6-7 provides an expanded account of his moral attributes and actions in relation to his covenant people. The twofold proclamation of the divine personal name, YHWH, is immediately explicated by the fourfold expression, “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (v. 6). This list of qualities is augmented by stressing his justice and mercy, which are manifest in “maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin” (v. 7a) and not remitting the consequences of guilt incurred by the impenitent (v. 7b). In this context, YHWH’s “jealousy” for his covenant people (v. 14) is his zealousness for their full and final good, found only in union and communion with him. Notably, the traits designated in these texts as constitutive of the divine “glory” (Exod. 33:18, 22) are represented and summarized as “all my goodness” (Exod. 33:19). These narrated self-descriptions of YHWH have primacy and are programmatic for redemptive history; they comprise a kind of composite divine self-portrait rendering YHWH’s “glory” and “goodness” in humanly intelligible terms. This strongly implies that the divine attributes in the composite portrait presented by these foundational, touch-stone texts are commensurable, and that they cohere inseparably in the divine essence (with “anger” toward wrong-doers and “punishment” of the intransigent to be understood as God’s intrinsically righteous response to “wickedness,” “rebellion” and “sin” as desecrations of goodness, i.e., expressive of his moral perfection, which the created order mirrors, both its parts and as a whole). Thus, in what is analytically contained in these biblical passages, not only does YHWH archetypally, infinitely, and perfectly instantiate moral excellence, such that he is the absolute norm of goodness against which all else is to be measured, but the particular attributes singled out here, enumerated as constituent aspects of his goodness, are simultaneously and completely fulfilled by him. Thus they are continually and actively expressed in the relation he sustains to his creation: always willing its good as he upholds, judging, redeems, and brings it to final sanctity under Christ On this view, God communicates his eternal, perfectly actualized, fully operative power of love to his creatures, who possess it as a second-level potency—as such, one that may or may not be fully actualized in them, and which is susceptible to change (to increase and to decline, impairment, loss, and the like). See Thomas Weinandy, Does God Suffer? (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000). 3 Westminster Confession of Faith 1.9-10. Accessed at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/ creeds3.iv.xvii.ii.html. 4 On the origin of this maxim, coined by the second-generation Dutch Reformed Church preacher, Jodocus van Lodenstein in Beschouwinge van Zion (“Contemplation of Zion”) (Amsterdam, 1674), see Michael S. Horton, “Reformed and Always Reforming,” in Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey, ed. R. Scott Clark and Joel E. Kim (Escondido, CA: Westminster Seminary California, 2010), 121. Horton translates the phrase “the church is Reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God.” 5 Yeago, “The New Testament and the Nicene Dogma,” 152. 6 David H. Field, “Love,” in New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 12. 7 Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros, trans. Philip Watson (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1953). 8 Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est. Accessed at http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/ encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est.html. 9 John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body, trans. Michael Waldstein (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006). 10 Dallas Willard, “Getting Love Right.” The essay was originally presented as an address to the American Association of Christian Counselors at a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 15, 2007. Kindle Book. Accessed at www.amazon.com/Getting-Love-Right-ebook/dp/B0071I65D0. 11 Nygren, Agape and Eros, 27. 12 Ibid., 46. 13 Philip Watson, “Translator’s Preface,” in Nygren, Agape and Eros, xvi. 14 Ibid., xi. 15 As Nygren puts it, “the Christian idea of Agape … is clearly marked off from the legal piety of Judaism and from the Eros-piety of Hellenism.” Nygren, Agape and Eros, 143.
Ibid., 53. Ibid., 175. 18 Ibid., 210. 19 Ibid., 80. 20 Ibid., 96-97. 21 Ibid., 114. 22 Ibid., 119. 23 Ibid., 118. 24 Ibid., 90, 91. 25 Ibid., 640. 26 Ibid., 94. 27 Ibid., 133. 28 Ibid., 95. 29 Ibid., 116. 30 Ibid., 147. 31 Ibid., 151-52. 32 Ibid., 152. 33 Ibid., 153. 34 Ibid., 155. 35 Ibid., 154. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid., 157. 38 Ibid., 152. 39 Ibid., 158. 40 Ibid., 159. 41 Ibid., 641. 42 Ibid., 640. 43 Ibid., 217. 44 Ibid., 130. 45 Ibid., 131. 46 Ibid., 175. 47 Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, Introduction, 1. 48 Ibid., I.2. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid., I.3. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid., I.4. 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid., I.5, 6. 55 Ibid., I.4. 56 Ibid., I.6. 57 Ibid. 58 Ibid. 59 Ibid., I.7. 60 Ibid., I.9. 61 Ibid., I.10. 62 Ibid., I.9. 63 Ibid., I.10. 64 Ibid., I.12. 65 Ibid., I.10. Emphasis added. 66 Ibid., I.12. 67 Ibid., I.17. 68 Ibid., I.18. Emphasis added. 17
Ibid., I.1. “On Christian Love” is the subtitle of the Encyclical. 71 Ibid., I.3. 72 Ibid, I.9. 73 Ibid., I.9. 74 Ibid., I.10. 75 Ibid., I.11. 76 Ibid., I.7 77 Ibid., I.6. 78 Ibid., I.10. Emphasis added. 79 Ibid., I.12. Emphasis added. 80 Ibid., I.10. 81 John Paul II, Theology of the Body, 215, n. 35. 82 Ibid., 317. 83 Ibid., 316. 84 Ibid., 316. 85 Ibid., 315. 86 Ibid., 318. 87 Ibid., 319. Emphasis added. 88 A notable exception is that of Alvin Plantinga, in Knowledge and Christian Belief (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015). However, his own description of eros remains quite vague, and the tenor of his conclusion is somewhat tentative. 89 Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 10. 90 Nygren, Agape and Eros, 640. 91 Ibid., 118. 92 The Greek terms for the forms of love to which Willard refers are eros, philia, and storge. Willard, “Getting Love Right,” para. 3. 93 Ibid., para. 9. 94 Ibid., para. 12. 95 Ibid., para. 14. 96 Ibid., para. 18. 97 Ibid., para. 19. 98 Ibid., para. 12. Emphasis added. 99 Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 26. 100 Dallas Willard, The Great Omission (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2006), 28. 101 Willard, “Getting Love Right,” para. 23. Emphasis added. 102 Ibid., para. 25. 103 Ibid., para. 26. 104 Ibid., para. 28. 105 Ibid., para. 12. 106 Ibid., para. 14. 107 Ibid., para. 9. 108 Ibid., para. 19. 109 Ibid., para. 12. 110 Ibid. 111 Ibid., para. 19. 112 Ibid., para. 18. 113 Ibid., para. 19. 114 Ibid. 115 Ibid., para. 14. 116 Ibid., para. 12. 117 Ibid. 118 Ibid., para. 9. 119 Ibid. 120 Ibid., para. 12. 121 Ibid., para. 14. 70
In the Sanctuary but Not of the Sanctuary: Liturgical Reflections on the Identity and Life of a Deacon as Cleric By Fr. Thomas A. Baima, S.T.D. Introduction It was a lovely morning on April 28, 1979 when I was ordained a deacon. This day was the culmination of many years of theological studies and priestly formation, but practically no formation in the order we were about to receive, with one exception. That one exception was celibacy. As one of the central features of priestly formation, we had focused intently on the fact that during this liturgy, we would become clerics. And, by century-old law in the Western Church, this meant making the life-long commitment to be celibate for the sake of the kingdom. I was 26 years old. I had spent most of the previous four or five years going to weddings of my college friends. Life commitment was what my age cohort was doing. And my friends understood my diaconate ordination in the same way. As they were voluntarily committed themselves to a wife or husband so that they might walk side-by-side for the life to come, I was about to commit to celibacy for the unique life of the priest. That was what we were thinking about as we approached the sanctuary to receive the sacrament of holy order. Which tells you what a pathetic theology of the diaconate was abroad in the land fifteen years after the Council. Fortunately, it got better. Fortunately, the men who will walk down the aisle of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral this year will know with much greater clarity and intentionality the nature of the diaconate and why, for those who, God willing, may later be ordained as presbyters, why the Catholic Church chooses her priests solely from the order of deacons. There is something foundational for holy order in the diaconate, such that priests (presbyters and bishops) ought to be drawn from the deacons of a diocese. Bishop William McManus, of happy memory, lastly the Bishop of Fort Wayne/South Bend, when he preached to my class on our deacon retreat, tried to focus on just this point with the phrase “Remember that you will always be deacons one year longer than you are priests.” By this he meant the spiritual insight that being configured to Christ the servant is foundational to a man who may someday be configured to Christ the shepherd and head. But imbedded in this spiritual lesson was something else. A priest does not stop being a deacon when he is advanced to the presbyterate or episcopate. The ontological change remains. But to Bishop McManus’ point, does the consciousness of a deacon remain as well? Sadly, I think, for most priests the answer is no. They focus on the idea of being a transitional deacon. We are trying to address that in the Archdiocese of Chicago by ordaining all deacons in a single ceremony whether the candidate is Anglo, Hispanic, transitional, permanent, diocesan or religious. There is one order of deacons in a local church. A single ordination ceremony would help the clergy and faithful understand this doctrine. My story of my personal experience entering the order of deacons illustrates the challenge I have with the topic today. We have a reality in the restored order of the diaconate. At the same time experience and theology that are not presently aligned. In these presentations, I hope to propose some greater alignment. The reality is the sacrament of holy order, which is one of the constitutional elements of the Church. It is a dogma of the Church that Christ willed there to be a three-fold ministry. As such, it is not optional. That great patristic writer on ecclesiology, Ignatius of Antioch, paints a picture of the Church using the celebration of the Eucharist as his image. 1 At the center stands the bishop, surrounded by his presbyters, assisted by his deacons, in the midst of
the Christian faithful. We see the Church fully when we see the celebration of the Eucharist. This will be our first touchstone for our explorations today. The second thing we have is the new experience of deacons in the Western Church. It has been only 50 years that the diaconate has been restored as a permanent order. Fifty years is not long, in church history. But it is significant for in a few years, as the last of my generation completes our time on this planet, there will be no one alive who did not know a time when the Church was not served by permanent deacons. This experience of a church with deacons is changing history. The final thing we have is theology, whose task is to explain and explore doctrine. Vatican II gave us the new orientation to the doctrine of holy orders. The Council taught teaching about the sacramentality and collegiality of the order of bishops and restoring the order of deacons to its permanent place. And Vatican II in the post-conciliar phase gave us revised ordination rites which express the rich heritage of the diaconate. But we are still in the period of reception of the Council, so our theology is still weak. To help us develop our theology, I want to give you a heuristic – a mental short cut – to use throughout this presentation. It comes from the very rich theology that stands behind both Pastores Dabo Vobis, the Apostolic Exhortation on Priestly Formation and the Directory of the Formation of Deacons in the United States. Both focus on the life and ministry of the cleric. So, here is my heuristic – “Who” comes before “what.” The ordained life interprets the ordained ministry, not the other way around. With that, we want to start with the theological reflection on the dimension of diaconal identity which can be seen when a deacon enters the sanctuary. In the sanctuary If “who comes before what” we all need to change our way of thinking about the diaconate. This reminds me of a conversation which took place between a permanent deacon and the late Francis Cardinal George. The deacon was quite nervous about serving with a cardinal and was asking a transitional deacon about several rubrical matters, such as if he was supposed to extend his hand at the greeting before the gospel reading. Overhearing this, Cardinal George offered a rule of thumb on diaconal rubrics. He said, “Whatever I do, you don’t.” What Cardinal George was trying to emphasize is that the deacon should not take his cues from the behavior of concelebrating presbyters. The deacon has a distinct role in the sacred liturgy and that role behaves according to its own sacred logic. This is the first lesion I would suggest to us about understanding the identity and life of the deacon. Deacons should not model themselves after priests, whether presbyters or bishops. During the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, bishops and theologians began to see problems caused by a theology which took a functional view of ordination. If the starting point for understanding holy order is what the ordained person does, then it’s a house built on sand. Remember my heuristic: who comes before what. Sacramental configuration to Christ determines identity, not the various functions a deacon performs. This is similar to a long running debate in church architecture over the school of thought that form follow function, as opposed to another view that form is part of the via pulchritudinis, which discloses the transcendent dimension which is beyond our earthly sight. 2 Francis says: Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with
new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. 3 In this second case, function follows form. “The scriptures tell us that Jesus was in the form of God, but did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” (Phil 2:6-7). This is the basic scriptural text regarding the diaconia as understood in the New Testament. Theology starts its reflections on the diaconal order with Christology. If the ordained minister is configured to Christ, then understanding Christ is fundamental to understanding the different sacramental configurations. We have to first begin with baptism. The International Theological Commission (ITC) said this: The essence of being a Christian can thus be grasped in a Christological perspective. Christian existence is a sharing in the diaconia or service which God himself fulfilled in favor of mankind; it likewise leads to an understanding of the fulfillment of mankind. Being a Christian means following Christ’s example in putting oneself at the service of others to the point of self-renunciation and selfgiving, for love. 4 The ritual for the renewal of the vows of baptism we celebrate each Easter season, exemplifies the foundational identity of the deacon. The deacon is a Christian. But the deacon is, in his person, configured to Christ in such a way that he is the sign of an essential dimension of being a Christian. The ITC says, Diakonein is shown to be a radical determination of Christian life, expressing itself in the sacramental basis of Christian existence, of the charismatic building up of the Church, and also of the sending out of the Apostles on their mission and of the ministry which flows from the apostolate, of the proclamation of the Gospel, and of the sanctification and governance of churches. 5 A Christian is not a person who acts in a good and ethical way, although we expect that she or he will do that. What makes a person a Christian is the configuration to Christ through baptism. Because of the grace of that sacrament, identity is expressed in a way of life. Function follows form. The manner of living signifies the identity of the believer. The sign dimension of the baptized person lies in the way she or he disclosed the transcendent dimension of being a Christian. This is primary. Charisms, mission, and ministry come after this essential quality of baptismal identity. And identity is not of my making but is my identification with Christ by means of my configuration to him. It is for this reason only that we bear the name Christian, an adjective which means “of Christ.” (Acts 11:26) I want to turn now to explore what insights we can gain from studying the rites of the Church regarding the diaconate. As I already mentioned, Saint Ignatius of Antioch painted a beautiful picture of the Church by describing the celebration of the Eucharist. He described the bishop, surrounded by his presbyters, assisted by his deacons, in the midst of the baptized. The Eucharistic rite discloses truths about the nature of the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate.
First of all, we see the three-fold ministry, but contextualized in its ecclesiological meaning. I want to explore that for a moment. Following Avery Cardinal Dulles, and traditional Catholic authors before him, the fundamental question about the Eucharist since the Reformation has focused on the presence of Christ. In the Eucharistic controversies of the 16th century, the one which tore Protestantism asunder was over whether the Ascension made real presence in the Eucharist impossible. The argument goes like this. At the Ascension, Jesus ascended, body, blood, soul and divinity into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. This tells us that he cannot be physically present in the bread and wine. He and his body are in heaven. Catholic and Lutheran theologians at the time and today dispute this claim. If you care about the details of the argument, you can look it up in my book Understanding Four Views on the Lords’ Supper, but for now, the main point is that in the Catholic view, the Ascension is not the departure of the Lord from the planet but rather a change in his mode of true, real and substantial presence among us. 6 Let me digress and caution you about this point with regard to preaching. Any sermon about the Ascension which says something like “Jesus ascended to his Father and left us to carry out his mission” is in error. Jesus didn’t leave! The Ascension represents a change his mode of presence. Elvis may have left the building, but Jesus didn’t leave the planet! Jesus continues his presence as head and shepherd of the Church in just as real a way as when he walked with his disciples after the Resurrection, and when he walked through Galilee during his earthly ministry. To the great surprise of the disciples, after they had seen Jesus killed by the Romans, three days later they experienced him as alive, and alive in a way in which he could die no more. Jesus presence in his earthly body gave way to his presence in his glorified body. The Ascension marked the change from presence in his glorified body to presence through his Eucharistic body. This means that Saint Ignatius of Antioch is describing Christ’s presence among us as head and shepherd of the Church. The description shows how the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing, marriage and ordination mediate that presence and signify it to your senses. Cardinal Dulles, in a short but powerful essay on the real presence, reminds Catholics that it is authoritative church teaching that Christ has five modes of presence in the Eucharist. They are: • • • • •
In the gathered community of the baptized In the proclamation of the Word In the person of the priest-celebrant In the sacrifice and communion In the enduring presence in the sacred species 7
Devotional Catholicism has tended to put all of its attachment on the fifth mode. In doing so, we obscure the active presences of the Lord which allow us to see his continued headship and our discipleship in ways analogous to the disciples during the post-resurrection experiences. I want to unpack some of this, but before I do, a warning. Just as devotionalism shrinks Catholic Christianity to a true but reduced vision of itself, so too is the tendency to draw single analogies. It is the doctrine of the Church that Christ has three office: prophet, priest and king which correspond to the functions in the Church of teaching, sanctifying and governing. But we cannot assign these to
one person or one order. I have heard people say, “Well, the deacon teaches the faith, the priest celebrates the sacraments and the bishop governs the church.” Wrong. All Christians, Vatican II teaches, share in the teaching, sanctifying and governing charisms, albeit in different ways. 8 Here I need to move into theology for a moment, and the problem created by a functional view of ministry. Not only did this approach have a negative effect it had on life-committed vocations, it distorted our sacramental theology by locating ministry in activity and not in participation. Participation, as a theological term, does not mean how many people you can jam into the sanctuary for a special Mass, or how many symbolic gifts are carried down the aisle in the offertory procession. No, as a theological term, participation refers to how we share in something Christ himself is doing. This takes us back to the modes of presence. If you look at the list, you see that each of us has differing participations in the same action. This is why a mere functional description does not give us the rich and fulsome understanding of our orders that we desire if we are to ground our identity there. So, let’s look again. If someone is present at the celebration of Mass who is not baptized, then although she or he is present, we cannot talk about participation in the sacramental sense. She or he may say all the prayers, but there is not participation at the level of sacrament. Remember that a sacrament is both sign and reality. Non-baptized persons may be present, but Christ is not present in them the way he is present in the gathered community of the baptized. Consequently, they are not signs of the presence of Christ. The baptized, however, are participating in the sign of the sacrament of baptism. This is part of the sanctifying office. Any one of us here, baptized woman or man, can participate in Christ’s presence in the proclamation of the Word. We do this by hearing, and by proclaiming the word as lectors. In both ways, we participate in the teaching office. For the third real presence, Dulles names the person of the priest-celebrant. I expanded that to include the person of the ordained ministers, because Christ is just as much present in the deacon who serves in the liturgy as in the priest who confects the sacrifice and sacrament, but it is a different participation in Christ’s leadership of the assembly. The deacon by proclaiming the gospel is participating in the teaching office and by assisting at the altar participates in the sanctifying office. The bishop, or the priest who takes his place does the same, teaching in the liturgical homily and sanctifying by the confecting of the sacrament/sacrifice. All three participate in Christ’s governing by the right ordering of the assembly. There are even participations in the sacrificial act of the Mass. Christ is the sole priest of the New Covenant. His bishops continue his high priesthood. Presbyters take the bishops’ place in the parishes, but in an indispensable way, for it is through their participation in the priesthood of Christ that the diocese is able to instantiate its Eucharistic identity each Lord’s Day. Whether bishop and his deacons lead the ritual, or a priest and deacon, the Mass is presided over by Christ the one priest. Christ’s precious blood is distributed to the faithful by deacons, who thereby share in the breaking and distributing of the Lord’s body and blood, another participation in the sanctifying office. All Christians are disciples before the enduring presence of Christ in the sacred species. Whether bishop, presbyter, deacon, or faithful, all sit at the feet of the Lord and dwell in his presence.
This sacramental view of participation takes us further in understanding that our identity is more than our function. Identity is more about how Christ has configured a person to himself. Saint Augustine put it so well on his homily on the anniversary of ordination when he said, What, though, is to be dreaded in this office, if not that I may take more pleasure, which is so dangerous, in the honor shown me, than in what bear fruit in your salvation? Let me therefore have the assistance of your prayers, that the one who did not disdain to bear with me may also deign to bear my burden with me. When you pray like that, you are also praying for yourselves. This burden of mine, you see, about which I am now speaking, what else is it, after all, but you? Pray for strength for me, just as I pray that you may not be too heavy. Where I’m terrified by what I am for you, I am given comfort by what I am with you. For you I am a bishop, with you, after all, I am a Christian. The first is the name of an office undertaken, the second a name of grace; that one means danger, this one salvation. Finally, as if in the open sea, I am being tossed about by the stormy activity involved in that one; but as I recall by whose blood I have been redeemed, I enter a safe harbor in the tranquil recollection of this one; and thus while toiling away at my own proper office, I take my rest in the marvelous benefit conferred on all of us in common. So I hope the fact that I have been bought together with you gives me more pleasure than my having been placed at your head. 9 But not of the sanctuary The unique dimension of the permanent deacon is that while he is ordained and therefore a cleric, he does not live after the manner of clerics but after the manner of the laity. He resembles the “worker priests” of that early twentieth-century experiment of outreach to the secular world. But the deacon does it in a fuller and more integral way. This makes him a new kind of cleric, with new opportunities. But it also means that he has no role models for this life. Indeed, the present generations of deacons are only beginning to understand the secularity of their clerical life. I will explore these things in the second talk. For now, I want to look explicitly at the rites and use them to shape our understanding of the identity of the deacon. I will look first at the Roman Rite and then offer some few comparisons from the Byzantine Rite where the sacramental logic is clearer. Cardinal George’s rubrical maxim, “Whatever I do, you don’t” applies outside the sanctuary as well. Where the priest (presbyter and bishop) are set apart from the world by his sacerdotal consecration, the deacon is set in the world by his. The deacon’s reply to Cardinal George could really be similar: “I live and minister where you can’t.” The locus of the world is something proper to the deacon in a way it cannot be to the priest. It is ironic that when we compare the rubrics for the liturgy between East and West, this dimension of the deacon’s identity is better expressed in the Byzantine liturgy. I call it ironic, for the Byzantine liturgy is far more ritualistic than the Roman, and yet, perhaps because they never lost the diaconate as a permanent order, they distinguish the diaconal order better. In the Byzantine rite, the deacon is highly mobile. His usual place is neither in the sanctuary nor the nave, but at the threshold between the two, at the Royal Doors of the Icon screen. There he directs the faithful. He moves in and out of the sanctuary, sometimes assisting the priest
and sometimes directing and leading the prayers of the faithful. This movement in and out is done through special deacon doors, decorated with the figures of angels. Following the imagery of Dionysius the Pseudo Areopagite, like an angelic messenger he moves between the church on earth and the kingdom of heaven, uniting the two. Another liturgical difference which reveals something about the nature of the diaconate from the Byzantine rite is the direction of processions. In the Roman Rite, processions go up to the altar of God. They are actions of ascent. In the Byzantine Rite, processions come from the sanctuary and descend into the midst of the baptized. Where the Roman Rite stresses Christ going up to Calvary to make an offering of himself, the Byzantine Rite stresses Christ coming down from heaven to dwell among us. Both are true. Each reveal something of the mystery. The heart of the Byzantine liturgy is the Cherubic Hymn, which is sung. The commentary of the Orthodox Church in America has this to say of the Cherubikon: The Cherubic Hymn and the meditative verses of the celebrant just mentioned are a late addition to the Divine Liturgy. They were added in the imperial era of Byzantium in order to enhance the essential liturgical act of the offertory which is the movement of the Church offering itself to God the Father through its Head, High Priest and King Jesus Christ who is also the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God and the New Passover; the sole sufficient sacrifice which is perfect, total and fully acceptable to the Father. 10 Note that the actor is Christ, through whom the Church participates in his headship, his high priesthood and his servanthood while celebrating the new Passover, which like its Jewish predecessor is the profession of identity and belonging in the covenant community. Further instructive is the private prayer said by the priest-celebrant during this hymn. With this prayer I will close this first talk, for it stresses that the life of the ordained minister precedes the ministry of the ordained minister. Function follows form. The deacon takes the censer and after censing the altar, he leaves the sanctuary and incenses the icons, and the faithful. Meanwhile the priest prays the Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn: P: No one who is bound with the desires and pleasures of the flesh is worthy to approach or draw near or to serve Thee, O King of Glory; for to minister to Thee is great and awesome even to the heavenly powers. Nevertheless, through Thine unspeakable and boundless love for mankind, Thou didst become man, yet without change or alteration, and as Ruler of All, didst become our High Priest, and didst commit to us the ministry of this liturgical and bloodless sacrifice. For Thou alone, O Lord our God, rules over those in heaven and on earth; Who art borne on the throne of the Seraphim and King of Israel; Who along art holy and dost rest in the saints. Therefore, I entreat Thee Who along art good and ready to listen: Look down on me, a sinner, Thine unprofitable servant; and cleanse my soul and heart from an evil conscience; and by the power of the Holy Spirit enable me, who am endowed with the grace of the priesthood, to stand before this, Thy holy table, and perform the sacred mystery of Thy holy and pure Body and precious Blood. For I draw near to Thee, and bowing my neck I implore Thee: Do not turn Thy face away from me,
nor cast me out from among Thy children; but make me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant, worthy to offer gifts to Thee. For Thou art the Offerer and the Offered, the Receiver and the Received, O Christ our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. After the Deacon finishes the censing, the Servers go to the High Place, cross themselves, bow, turn and bow to the priest. When the Priest finishes reciting the prayer and the Deacon his censing, both stand before the altar and recites the Cherubic Hymn three times, bowing after each recitation. P: Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares. D: That we may receive the King of All, Who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 11 The liturgy is not something we do. The liturgy discloses the unseen realm, which though out of sight is not out of reach. While we cannot reach it, it reaches for us. And we can “see” it, through the living signs Christ uses to continue his presence among us.
Ignatius of Antioch, “Letter to the Smyrnaeans” no. 8, in Fathers of the Church: The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Francis X. Grimm, et al (New York: Christian Heritage, Inc, 1974), 124. 2 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel (Washington, DC: USCCB Publications, 2013), no. 167. 3 Ibid. 4 International Theological Commission, From Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles in Compendium on the Diaconate: A Resource for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons, ed. Enzo Petrolino (Washington, DC: USCCB Publications, 2015), 315. 5 Ibid., 318. 6 Russell D. Moore, I. John Hesselink, David P. Scaer and Thomas A. Baima, Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper, eds. Paul E. Engle and John H. Armstrong (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 65 and 80. 7 Avery Dulles, “How Real is the Real Presence?” in Church and Society: The McGinley Lectures 19882007, ed. Robert Imbelli (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008). 8 See Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam Actuositatem: The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1965), no. 2. 9 Augustine, Sermon 340, “On the Anniversary of Ordination” See Sermons on the Saints, ed. John E. Rotelle, trans. Edmund Hill (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1994). 10 https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-divine-liturgy/offertory-great-entrance. 11 The Service Books of the Orthodox Church: The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (South Canaan, PA: Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 2010), 56-57.
Cleric in the World By Fr. Thomas A. Baima, S.T.D. In this second essay, I want to explore the other dimension of the deacon’s identity. Said simply, he is a cleric who is living in the world after the manner of the laity. I will argue that this is neither accidental nor pragmatic, but rather an expression of his identity which flows from his configuration to Christ the servant. The basis of my argument will be the same as in the first essay, that we cannot discover the ministry of the deacon apart from his identity. Just as the Roman Ritual is clear that the deacon receives the laying on of hands “not unto the priesthood but only for a ministry of service” so also his life in the world is not identical with that of the laity. 1 The identity of the laity is distinct and provides a second boundary on the identity of the deacon. While he is baptized, his ordination by the laying on of hands, though he continues to live in the world, his identity is now ecclesial and not secular. This is a second reason that we should not and cannot define diaconal identity functionally or practically. We have all fought against the inaccurate term “lay deacon.” Happily, this term has mostly passed from the scene. But, I argue, it originates in the same mistake of trying to define the identity of an ordained minister functionally. A man is a deacon by virtue of his configuration to Christ, not where he lives and works. It is in sacramental configuration that we find his identity, and it is only from that identity that we can truly define his ministry. So, this essay will have two parts. The first will be theological and seek to delineate secularity as the distinctive quality of the baptized. The second part will look at the deacon as an ecclesial man living in the world, and how this distinguishes his life from that of the laity. The conclusion of both talks will locate “doing in being,” and “service in identity.” It will, in the end, seek to say how the deacon is a sacrament and not just a man who has receive all seven of the sacraments. Part One: The Secular Character of the Baptized The first part, as I said will be theological and seek to delineate secularity as the distinctive quality of the baptized. In this, I am following insights from the great Catholic theologian of the last century, Yves Cardinal Congar, and his groundbreaking book Lay People in the Church. 2 I want to acknowledge my debt on this subject to my doctoral student, Raymond Cleveland, whose work Secularity is the True and Distinctive Mark of the Layperson shaped my thinking on this part of the presentation. 3 Cleveland grounds his thesis on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the laity and the substantial body of magisterial teaching which prepared the way for this historic decree. 4 In framing his thesis, Cleveland gives us a clear definition which will provide us with the foundation for this second talk. I want to quote him at length so that we have this foundation upon which we can build our understanding. The Second Vatican Council taught that the laity share Baptism in common with all members of the People of God, and in Confirmation they complete their sacramental initiation into the ecclesial body. However, it made clear that they are called to live out their baptismal and confirmed calling first and foremost in the temporal order. Secularity, the Council taught, is what distinguishes the laity among all members of the people of God. 5 This idea developed before the Council, but never before was it expressed so succinctly and explicitly as in Lumen Gentium, 31. Moreover, the Magisterium during the post-conciliar period consistently reaffirmed secularity as a chief characteristic of the laity, as seen in the discourses and writings of Paul VI, John Paul II,
and in the 1986 Synod on the Laity. John Paul II concisely reaffirmed LG’s teaching in the 1999 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America: ‘Secularity is the true and distinctive mark of the lay person and of lay spirituality, which means that the laity strive to evangelize the various sectors of family, social, professional, cultural and political life.’ 6 It is in Lumen Gentium that we find the Council’s definition of a lay person. The vocation, the Council tells us, lies in “seeking the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” 7 Cleveland tells us that it was Gerard Philips who helped to draft this section of the decree and who based it on his conviction that the laity construct the temporal city so that it is attached to the city of God. 8 These acts of ordering temporal affairs and construction the city of God through their evangelization of the sectors of the world form the basis for lay spirituality where the baptized are themselves sanctified by this apostolate. Jaroslav Pelikan puts it this way: Already in Clement of Rome and in the Didache the attributes of the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament were being applied to the ministers of the Church. Yet the conception of the priesthood of believers remained alongside this development…Irenaeus was the most articulate defender of the thesis that the continuity of the church was guaranteed by the apostolic office of the men who held the apostolic sees; yet it was also Irenaeus who, perhaps more explicitly than any of his contemporaries, affirmed that “all the disciples of the Lord are Levites and priests.” 9 This formulation is both clear and bold. By the third century, however, a development was occurring away from the both/and notion I just described. With the rise of spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures, especially the allegorical method of the School of Alexandria, theologians began to use the texts on priesthood and its various ranks in the Old Testament as a way to reflect upon the Christian ministry. 10 Gradually, this trend would develop into ecclesiastical offices and the continuity with the baptized faithful found in Irenaeus would be obscured. Without a vital theology of baptism, the theology of holy order is weakened. Centuries later, like a number of the doctrinal developments of Vatican II, reception of the magisterial teaching about the universal call to holiness and the restored diaconate has seemed something akin to making a U-turn with an aircraft carrier. That idiomatic expression of difficulty caused some engineer friends of mine to try to figure out the physics. They spent a good while trying to calculate the actual time for such a turn. In the end, it seems aircraft carriers are quite remarkable machines, so a full U-turn might be measures in minutes. However, they also determined that to accomplish such a turn at maximum speed, the deck would tilt 30 degrees, and anything not welded down would slide off into the ocean. The expression, therefore, is more one of prudence than possibility. The best approach is a slow, wide tur. Fifty years after the council is a long, but prudent measure of time needed for reception. Theology is catching up to the Council’s teaching. As hindsight helps us to see the circumference of the turn, we are able to understand how significant Congar and Philip’s insights were. Cleveland tell us that Congar’s historical survey reveals a three-part framework which was in place since the AD 200’s. Clerics hold an office, a ministry of service of sacred things; monks were characterized not by liturgical service, but by their way of life—they lived apart from the world. Lay people then were the remnant: those who lived in the world
and occupied themselves with everyday things. . . [by the] Middle Ages, there arose within one City of God (the Church) a double order of jurisdiction. The pope led the clerics and monks, who were consecrated to the spiritual, while the emperor led the princes, knights and peasants…Congar claims [this division] helped create a secular-religious divide that proved fertile ground for the Reformation, when kings and princes laid claim to leadership in the Church and hierarchy [meaning the ecclesial mediation of grace] was discarded. 11 Congar’s point is that an integral theology of the laity will redress this error. My point is that the missing element in the theology of the diaconate is the way the deacon as a cleric in the world plays a role in restoring the awareness of the ecclesial mediation of grace lost at the Reformation. Now, before I can get to part two, I need one more piece of building material. For that, I need to say one thing about the other doctrinal development at the Council, the sacramentality and collegiality of the episcopacy. There was a long discussion at Vatican II about auxiliary bishops. There is an ancient canon that in every city there is to be but one bishop. When more than one bishop was needed because of the size of a see, an auxiliary bishop was ordained and assigned to assist the diocesan bishop. But because of the canon, he was given the title of some abandon diocese in partibus infidelem. He would be ordained, for example, as the Titular Bishop of Nara and assigned as auxiliary to the Archbishop of Chicago. The discussion at the Council was to simply to ordain to the title of Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. This line of argument did not win, though Paul VI did create the office of vicar episcopal, which allowed a bishop or priest to be given actual executive authority within a territorial jurisdiction. 12 Now this may sound like a fussy or marginal issue, but at its root is an important ecclesiological point. A bishop is pastor of a city. Archbishop Jerome Listecki is Archbishop of Milwaukee. He is not the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, not matter how often Wikipedia repeats this error, but of Milwaukee, the whole city, and all of its people are in his care. He is your pastor outside of the church building as well as within it. With his brother bishops, he shares responsibility, for all the local churches in union with and under the Bishop of Peter’s Church, which is at Rome. These teachings are foundational for what I will now claim about the deacon as a cleric in the world. Part Two The Catechism of the Council of Trent asserts some specific things about the office of deacon. 13 The deacon’s office is to be, as it were, the eyes and ears of the bishop. He should be thoroughly acquainted with the conditions in the diocese, the level of attendance at Mass, the sacraments and religious instruction. On the basis of this information, the bishop should be better able to exhort his people, both privately and publicly. The deacon also has charge of the list of catechists and of candidates for the clerical state. Finally, in the absence of the bishop and priest, he may preach in church; but not from the regular pulpit, so as to indicate that this is not his ordinary function.14 This is an important description of the diaconal order that we find a sixteenth-century church document. But I want you to understand that in light of what I've just said about the nature of the laity as fundamentally secular and of the bishop as having pastoral care for the entire population
of the place where he is sent to minister. A pastor, whether presbyter or bishop, needs to have personal knowledge of the cares of the flock. This is obviously difficult once a community grows to such a size that the pastor cannot know everyone personally. Research done by the Alban Institute in Washington, DC suggests that this number is actually 250. That's not very many people when you consider the size of our churches. 250 persons seems to be the outside limit for one cleric to know personally enough that he can directly shepherd them. Obviously when you compare that number to the number of faithful under the care of a diocesan bishop, the need for additional eyes and ears becomes immediately clear. The pastor, to be truly a shepherd, must have personal knowledge of the cares of the flock. The deacon moves out from the bishop into the church and into the world precisely to be those eyes in years of the bishop. This describes an important point, that the deacon’s relationship to the bishop is a direct one. In his ministry he is always extending the pastoral ministry of the bishop. In addition to knowing the cares of the flock a pastor needs to provide pastoral care. Pastoral care as a term is quite large in the Catholic sense, including everything from sacramental ministrations to individuals, to counsel and pastoral care properly so called, to referrals for therapeutic counseling, etc. What most characterizes pastoral care though is that it is one-on-one ministry. It is truly a ministry to individuals that grows out of knowing the cares of the flock. The other dimension of being eyes and ears of the bishop, or the presbyter who stands in his place, is to be a representative. One of the very early roles of deacons was to be a messenger and emissary of the bishop. The deacon would be sent out from the bishop to the world churches to carry messages and instructions or to represent the bishop at some important meeting. In this representational role. the deacon was not only eyes and ears but mouth, for as an ambassador. he was to echo perfectly the mind in the words of the bishop. This describes the kind of communion that needs to exist between the individual deacon and his bishop if they are to be of one mind. It is to be as Saint Ignatius wrote, do nothing apart from the bishop. 15 In our current structure today, each parish has a proper pastor assigned by the bishop to stand in the bishops’ place in the community to celebrate the Eucharist and to exercise the bishops’ governing office in that place the parish priests are true pastors; they're not merely delegates. But everything I said about the communion of the deacon with the bishop is to be understood more intensely about the parish priest. The presbyters of the diocese form a college around the bishop. They are united with him in the overall shepherding of the people of that place and for the particular pastoral charge that they have been given as parish priests. When a deacon is assigned to a parish, he serves the parish priest as he would serve the bishop. He is the eyes and ears; he has the personal knowledge of the care of the flock; he delivers pastoral care; and he represents the priest pastor. All of that describes the ecclesial ministry of the deacon. Just as with the bishop, the deacons’ ministry is not restricted to the members of the church. This is where our unique dimension of the diaconate can be seen and understood. I want to argue that the sacramentality of the deacon is found precisely in his person as a sign of the kingdom. As a sign of the kingdom the deacon first of all witnesses to faith. Faith is the foundation of a transcendental consciousness. That's a $10 word for saying that what we can see and what we can touch and what we experience is not the totality of reality. Rather there is an unseen dimension to this life we are living in without awareness of that deeper, wider and richer reality we cannot fully actualize here. The deacons’ faith exposes or reveals the transcendental in life. I think it is a sign of a kingdom in another way. He's a sign of the kingdom because of his personal virtue. In the world today, most compelling virtue is his chastity. We need only turn on the television or walk past a magazine stand to see that the dominant culture has, in effect, abandoned any sense of
discretion regarding this virtue. To have a cleric living in the world, who exemplifies the virtue of chastity in marriage and gives an example of what the religious dimension of that most important human relationship is, reveals the transcendent. It reveals the possibility of a human being actually living according to the exulted version of Christian marriage. There's a third way the deacon is the sign of the kingdom. That is by his service through his actualization of the theological virtue of charity. Charitable service lies at the very heart of the deaconsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; identity, but when he lives those virtues as a cleric in the world, the kingdom is revealed in a special way. I've mentioned Yves Congar a number of times in the talk, and so I want to take a short tangent and just mention that one of the formative influences on Congar was the worker-priest moment. This movement advocated priests taking on secular appointment by primarily working in factories and as common laborers as a way of growing close to identifying with the life of their peers. The movement was based in a concrete way on the Letter to the Philippians. 16 The goal was to know the life and the cares of people from participation in that life. It was all also a strategy of accompaniment. The worker-priest movement did not endure. There were many reasons, but I would argue that it was not compatible with the life animated by the priestly charism. However, such is not the case for the deacon. Because the deacon is ordained not to the priesthood but for service and because the deacon, though he is an ecclesial minister, lives his life in the world; he is in a position to live out the creative tension that animated the worker-priest movement. Because his identity is now ecclesial and not secular, he continues to live in the world and, as a servant, is able to disclose that dimension of the kingdom and of Christ who, â&#x20AC;&#x153;though he was in the form of God did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at rather he emptied himself taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.â&#x20AC;? 17 This accompaniment which the deacon is uniquely positioned to offer to the baptized among whom he lives can I think best be described as a form of dialogue of fraternity through service. I'm taking this phrase from something Pope Francis said about or year and a half ago at a conference I attended involving interreligious dialogue. 18 The pope, who is a Jesuit, conceives intercultural and interreligious dialogue as, first of all, relational and secondarily a witness of service. Said another way, his desire for dialogue is that people become friends, and in the context of that friendship, they are able to act together charitably. In this approach to dialogue, Pope Francis believes that while it does not take the place of theological dialogue or the dialogue of religious experience, offers a faster route to building bridges between communities. The dialogue of fraternity establishes itself on the basis of a human communion. Human communion offers the proper foundation for all other forms of dialogue. Francis conceives of dialogue being a part of the evangelizing mission of the church. Indeed, in his apostolic exhortation, he describes various circles of dialogue. He takes this vision from his predecessor, Pope Saint Paul VI and his first encyclical letter Ecclesiam Suam, by which the church extends herself beyond the boundary of the Catholic community to the next circle of those who believe in Christ, and then to the next circle of those who believe in God, and finally to a circle of those who are not believers [but] are open to the transcendent. This is an expansive version of evangelization and one which goes far beyond the programmatic notions that we often see offered as evangelization today. Francis understands that accompaniment depends on personal relationship in that a personal relationship is grounded in knowing and having pursued personal knowledge of the cares of the people with whom you are in a relationship. As such the work of evangelization is quite properly diaconal work, because the deacon is an ecclesial minister, living in the midst of the world after the matter of the faithful.
I said at the outset of these two talks what I wanted to achieve was reimagining the diaconate by looking first at the life of the deacon and drawing the diaconate meaning from identity not from the functions of ministry. A non-functional approach to understanding holy orders starts with being. What we really want to find is being as doing or identity in service. Archbishop Thomas Murphy, who was Rector of Mundelein Seminary from 1973 to 1978, used to say: “We minister out of our identity.” What it means is that the diaconate is the sacrament. It also means the deacon is himself sacrament. A clerics spirituality must his ministry in his identity, not the other way around. By knowing who you are as a result of your sacramental configuration to Christ the servant, you will be able to find both the locus of your ministry in the church and in the world. You will also be able to find, with some precision, what that ministry requires of you as you strive to be the eyes, ears, and hands of Christ to the people of the diocesan church for which you were ordained.
1 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Rome, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1964), no. 29. See also Paul VI, Moto Proprio, Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1972) in The Rites of the Catholic Church, Vol. Two (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 12. 2 Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church, trans. Donald Attwater (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1954). 3 Raymond Cleveland, Secularity is the True and Distinctive Mark of the Layperson: An Analysis of Magisterial Teaching and the Work of Selected American Theologians (Ann Arbor, MI: Pro Quest, 2014) 4 Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam Actuositatem: The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Rome: Libriria Editrice Vaticana, 1965). 5 Lumen Gentium, Op. Cit., no 31. 6 Cleveland, Op. Cit., 3-4. 7 Lumen Gentium, Op. cit., no. 31. 8 Cleveland, Op. Cit., 7. 9 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971), 160. Pelikan is quoting Irenaeus from Against Heresies, 4.8.3. 10 Ibid., 59-61. 11 Cleveland, Op. cit., 37. 12 See Council Daybook: Vatican II, Session 3, ed. Floyd Anderson (Washington, DC: National Catholic Welfare Association, 1965), 223-224. 13 The Roman Catechism, Intro. and ed. Eugene Kevane (Boston: Saint Paul Editions, 1985), 318. 14 Ibid. 15 See Ignatius of Antioch, “Letter to the Trallians” 16 See Philippians 2 17 Ibid. 18 The International Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue of Fraternity, Castel Gandolfo, July 2015.