[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Sat Nov 8 10:42:01 EST 2014

Clarke—I take your point about the difficulties with drawing a distinction between interpretation of a rule and application of the rule. But I think in practice many religions do draw a fairly sharp distinction. The example you give illustrates the point.
In Church practice, the distinction between interpretation of a rule and application of the rule resides in the fact that interpretation of a rule itself is non-negotiable and its application is negotiable only on what are regarded as trivial points. For example, women must cover their heads when in Church but how they do so has a wide latitude of observance—everything from a hood covering nearly the entire head to a small pillbox hat, leaving nearly the entire head exposed. 

On the issue of women being silent in Church, however, the rule is non-negotiable. In other words, the rule itself cannot be questioned and a “rule itself” may be defined by its being treated as something that is non-negotiable. Interpreting the rule of women being silent in Church as meaning that women cannot be ordained as priests becomes an issue that produces schisms and different denominations, precisely because the interpretation of the rule is viewed as non-negotiable. As one defender of the “no women priests” position states, “Christ made no provision for women to administer the sacraments and only he can change that.” In the case of divinely inspired texts the only legislative body is God himself and what he intended by his “rules” is a non-negotiable, authoritative matter. Thus, the interpretation of rules leads to schisms because what God intended can have only one true meaning. Applications of rules can be given latitude only insofar as they are not perceived to threaten the rule itself.  

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