An implosion of the powers of practical reason

…Pluralism is difficult to argue for successfully.

To assert the right of plural moral judgment requires a careful account of the systemic social differences that make that right intelligible. So explanation of difference is the essence of a policy of mutual forbearance. It risks adding insult to injury to demand forbearance while at the same time refusing explanations. The sharp response to the innovations of Western Anglican churches from the churches of the ex-colonial territories owed much to the fact that the innovating churches had no programme of mutual explanation in view. And here, perhaps, the churches of the South and East made a mistake. They attributed the North American uncommunicativeness to racism. It is, on the whole, more likely that the North American churches merely acted, in default of a thorough deliberative process of their own, under the force of strong cultural pressure, the reasons for which they never explained even to themselves, since an ill-conceived doctrine of pluralism persuaded them that thinking was an unnecessary labour. They may have suffered something worse than a bout of racism, if such a thing can be imagined; they may have suffered an implosion of their powers of practical reason, the result of long habits of irresponsibility. And since theology is nothing if not a discipline of common reasoning about God and our life together, unless they recover it, their days of being churches of any kind are numbered.

Oliver O’Donovan Ethics and Agreement – the third Fulcrum web sermon