Saturday, March 03, 2007

Body and Bride IIIb

(B) Bates suggests that I have not addressed the following point:

[E]ven if an individual were not the right type of entity to enter into the eschatological relation with Christ constituting salvation--only the Church could do that--still individuals could take the Church/Christ relation as normative here below for relations like marriage between persons. The fact the Church is many is no bar to one individual modelling behavior here below on the Church in the hereafter.

But the reason I have not addressed it is that it is irrelevant to the argument, even on its own terms. The argument was supposed to present a set of premises grounded in Scripture qua canonical narrative; it is thus irrelevant whether individuals can modeling behavior in this way. What the argument needs is for this to be actually grounded in Scripture qua canonical narrative in such a way that it supports the premises of the argument without generating an equivocation; and Bates continues to evade the point that a conservative Anglican can simply point out that it does not appear to be so, and that assuming that one can directly move from the Christ-Body to the Christ-member relation without equivocation is the fallacy of division.

Bates notes that there can be properties of wholes that are shared by its parts; I never suggested otherwise. It still doesn't get him out of the charge, which might be made by a conservative Anglican, that he appears to be committing a fallacy of division, since a fallacy of division occurs when the attempt is made to move from property of the whole to property of the part without a bridge principle, i.e., a warrant for doing so. This is so even when the inference is accidentally correct. For instance, the following inference, taken strictly, commits the fallacy of division:

A wall of bricks is material; therefore each of the bricks is material.

Now, the inference is accidentally correct in this case; but it's the same fallacious type of inference as:

A fleet of ships is spread out over the whole bay; therefore each of the ships is spread out over the whole bay.

In ordinary discourse, we would take the first to be an enthymematic representation of an argument of different form, one which does not commit the fallacy of division because it has additional premises about the nature of material composition. What Bates needs are such additional premises; only these can show that the apparent fallacy was merely apparent -- that the appearance of committing the fallacy of division was due not to the argument itself but to how it was stated. What is more, if the argument is to do what Bates has already said it is supposed to do, it must give premises that are "grounded in the Bible qua canonical narrative". It is unclear what these premises are supposed to be. Bates claims in the response that he has given them, but I don't see them anywhere. What I do see is a passage that's difficult to make any sense of. He starts out with this:

In response, I suggest that Christ will never marry a city. Jerusalem is figurative for the Church, as I think Siris would agree. Revelation 21 is referring with Jerusalem to what Ephesians 5 calls the Body, meaning there the Church. Revelation is speaking, therefore, of an eschatological union between the Church and Christ, something begun here below rather imprefectly and consummated hereafter. But note Revelation pictures the consummated relation a marriage relation. Again, marriage is referred to figuratively, as I take it Jesus in the Gospel narrative was serious in saying that there is no marriage in heaven. The point though is at least in part that here below we can understand something of the meaning of the consummated relation between the Church and Christ in terms of something we are familiar with, namely marriage here below: the consummated relation will be like that. Thus, the Revelation 21 text is rather favorable to my cause, which requires seeing the eschatological relation between the Church and Christ as a model for marriage here below. In fact, Revelation 21 almost settles the issue. For as I have already mentioned, I see no reason why a relation between individuals cannot be modelled on a relation between a group and an individual.

Nothing in this line of reasoning shows that "Revelation 21 almost settles the issue". All Bates has pointed out here is that Revelation uses symbols, and that one of these symbols is marriage; and that Christian marriage is modeled on the relation between Christ and the Body. This, I take it, is agreed on by all parties. He then goes on to say:

Here is what I take to be the clinching point. In both cases, the salvific relation involves unity with Christ: that is, the achievement of a unitive purpose. That unity is pictured between Christ and the corporate Church when marriage is referred to in Revelation 21; indeed, it seems to me that the use of marriage as figuative in Revelation 21 is licensed at least in part by common knowledge of the normative achievement of a unitive purpose in marriage here below. Just so, the unity between the individual member and Christ achieved by Christ in the giving of salvation would license the use of marriage as descriptive, figurative language. It follows that the eschatological salvific unity between the member and Christ could serve meaningfully to model marriage here below in one's relation to a spouse.

Perhaps; but I can't say because I don't know what clinching point Bates is intending here. The reasoning seems to be [this is reconstruction, not quotation]:

The salvific relation between Christ and Church involves unity with Christ.
The salvific relation between Christ and individual involves unity with Christ.
They therefore exhibit a unitive purpose.
Marriage exhibits a unitive purpose.
Thus, to that extent, both salvific relations can be described figuratively as marriage.

Which is wholly true. It doesn't move the argument forward, though. I pointed out in my original response that there is a long tradition of using marriage in this figurative way. It does not follow that the conservative Anglican has to accept the original argument, because it still looks like the argument is engaging in a fairly straightforward equivocation. The argument, you will recall, is as follows:

1. Christ was resurrected in the flesh, and will exist in the world to come.
2. In the world to come, members of the Church will be resurrected, male and female, in the flesh.
3. In the world to come, the members of the Church will bear a new real, reciprocal relation to Christ; call it R.
4. Here below, marriage should be modeled on R.
5. R obtains between males: for instance, Christ and each blessed male.
6. As R obtains between males (from 5), and marriage is to be modeled on R (from 4), marriage may obtain between males.

This is supposed to be grounded in the Bible qua canonical narrative. But Bates has provided nothing to show that in these terms the conservative Anglican has to accept premise 4 for both relations. It is one thing to say, "This is grounded in the Bible as a canonical narrative: that marriage should be modeled on the relation between Christ and His individuals members." This Bates nowhere proves, although it is what the argument requires. It is another thing to say, "Because they both involve unitive purpose of some sort or other, we can use marriage as a metaphor for the relation between Christ and His individual members." Which is true, but doesn't support anything in the argument. Basically what's being pointed to here is that we can reasonably call the Christ-Church relation marriage and the Christ-individual relation marriage. It is true. It doesn't follow that any other properties transfer. I can call the sea foamy and your latte foamy; that doesn't mean I can sail in your coffee cup.

The problem is even worse when you consider that the language is metaphorical, and explicitly recognized to be so. A metaphor is simply not enough. Bates has been clear enough about the reasoning behind the metaphor; but this reasoning doesn't meet up with the requirements of the argument at any point. In particular, it doesn't give, or even suggest a Biblical grounding for the claim that the same relation on which marriage is modeled is a relation obtaining between Christ and males. (It should be noted that I seem to have accidentally mislead Bates about what the 'same relation' here means, since he takes it in his response as numerical identity; whereas I was taking it as sameness in kind.) It is this Bates has not shown, and it is this that he needs to show if the argument is to be saved from the charge of equivocation. And, indeed, Bates's strongest argument so far has suggested otherwise: for it has suggested nothing more than that we can draw metaphors for two different kinds of relation from the same domain. But this is hardly surprising. This commonality of having a common source domain for metaphorical purposes, however, is not enough to remove suspicion of equivocation, which requires that the terms be of the same kind, in this case that the R obtaining between males is the R on which marriage should be modeled. That's one R; if there are really two different meanings given to R, the argument is simply equivocal and fails. The conservative Anglican will point out that the R on which marriage should be modeled is a relation between Christ and the Church; and that the R obtaining between males is a relation between Christ and the individual. Thus the argument equivocates and should be rejected. Bates needs to show that the relation between Christ and the Church, then, is the same as the relation between Christ and the individual, not merely in the sense that we can use the same metaphor to speak of them, but in the sense that they really are the same.

(Also, as a side note with regard to Bates's last paragraph, as I pointed out before, the conservative Anglican is not committed to denying that the Church is nothing over and above its members. The same questions of division, equivocation, and Biblical grounding arise whether he does or not. The real issue is that Bates continues to attribute properties of the Christ-Church relation to the Christ-individual relation in a way, it would seem, no conservative Anglican need grant, even according to the standards Bates himself intends his argument to meet.)

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