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Re: Speaking with a voice of authority
You draw an important distinction between two kinds of authority and
observe that the question of Dr. Vonholdt's intrinsic authority "would
appear to be not a question that could be resolved by a database search."
Of course not. I was responding to the claims being made about Dr.
Vonholdt's extrinsic authority. Apparently she has not been taken
seriously by her peers; maybe she should be, but she hasn't been.
The Prayer Book invites us to pray "For those who Influence Public
Opinion": and to refer to them as "those who speak where many listen and
write what many read." If the Lambeth Conference wants to cite expert
testimony, are there not experts with Dr. Vonholdt's point of view who are
taken seriously by their professional peers?
You are right about other kinds of authority. They are indeed often
superior. Some sailors are undoubtedly more knowledgeable about the world
than are many highly credentialed geographers, ethnologists, and political
scientists. But in general we do not formally consult sailors, don't set
up institutions of higher learning at the docks when they come into port,
and don't send search teams to scour the docks for those whom we ought to
honor with degrees. Most bright sailors would probably think that a silly
way to access their wisdom anyway.
As you noted, the scribes with whom the gospel writers compared Jesus drew
their authority by knowing who all the experts were and by citing them in
every discussion, much like those in RLIN's data base. What helped
confirm Jesus's authority was not only what he said, but the reactions of
those who heard him. My Samaritan ancestor proclaimed, "He told me
everything about myself!" Do lesbigays say that of Dr. Vonholdt?
Bishops charged with official review of the sexual issues before Lambeth
dramatically refused to hear from lesbigay Christians, not even from Dr.
What kind of authority can we afford to give to their conclusions?
Some in the press gave as much attention to Dr. Vonholdt's conclusions
about lesbigay activists as they gave to her conclusions about her
patients. Surely even she would not proclaim to give a medical diagnosis
of those whom she has not even examined.
From: "D & B McConnell" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 09:48:13 -0700
A good time to bring up the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic
authority, I think. Extrinsic (tenure, titles, headgear, numbers of
publications, etc.) doesn't necessarily carry with it intrinsic authority,
i.e. the credible witness of a person, in their person, to the truth. You
would say Bp Spong passes the test for intrinsic authority. Others,
certainly among them Dr Vonholdts patients, would say she does. In any
event it would appear to be not a question that could be resolved by a
database search. Many were the writers and religious officials in Jerusalem
in Jesus' day, and he was not among them. Yet, we now read that those who
listened to him "were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one
who had authority, and not as their scribes." (Mt. 7.28-29).
From: Louie Crew <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: qch list <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, July 30, 1998 12:38 PM
Subject: [qch] Re: QUEST COFFEE HOUR Note 24484 by INTERNET
>Re: speaking with a voice of authority:
>To read more of Dr. Vonholdt's work, I looked up Dr. Vonholdt in the
>online combined catalogs of the Research Libraries Information Network
>(RLIN), which gives the holdings of the major research libraries of the
>world. No luck. Not one of these libraries has a single book of hers.
>Just to be sure the catalog was working, I checked for holdings by
>John S. Spong: 40
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