Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some strange northern hemisphere Anglican thinking (except for sensible Mexico)

A couple of 'odd' things off the internet:

The Lead describes ++Schori arriving in Australia and being treated as an 'equal' Primate by ++Aspinall, with the note 'whatever the sentiments of Archbishop of Sydney are on the matter'. The dig here is at Canterbury. Has Canterbury ever not treated ++Schori as an equal as a Primate? Read the item carefully: the Primate of Australia says she is welcome in his Diocese, Brisbane. He cannot say (a) she is welcome in Australia (because, as The Lead notes, she is not welcome as Primate in Sydney) and (b) she is welcome in Australia with the minor exception of Sydney, because Sydney is not a minor exception, being about half the Australian church. I suspect that there may be a (c), that she is not welcome in some other dioceses of the church. It does not appear that she is going anywhere than to the Brisbane Diocese, otherwise one would presume that a report in the Melbourne Anglican media would know of that. There is more chance of having a semblance of knowledge of our church by visiting Auckland and Christchurch than there is of knowing the Australian church by visiting just two of its dioceses, let alone one diocese.

Thinking Anglicans lines up a report on Anglicans objecting to the Covenant. The arguments proffered are simply outrageous about grabs for power by homophobic crazies. Then it mentions that Mexico has ADOPTED THE COVENANT. Mexico!! That is interesting. A neighbour on the doorstep of TEC has seen the light, ignored crazy arguments, and acted sensibly!


Tim Harris said...

Peter, in one of your previous comments you affirmed the appropriateness of a warm welcome to +KJS on the basis that 'hospitality is hospitality'. I respectfully differ. Hospitality is a sign of koinonia, and is an act of support, commendation and comfort. 2 John 7-11 speaks of the significance if this, and warns against offering hospitality to those who teach another gospel.

Sydney's approach (I imagine) would not just be on the basis of +KJS as a female bishop (their policy is the same as the CoE in that regard, but limited to a welcome and recognition as a deacon). Now as you know, I differ with Sydney in that.

However, Sydney's view would be more concerned about welcoming a high profile leader who teaches another gospel. It would be akin to offering no comfort and succour to +Spong.

If one believes (as I and many others do) that KJS teaches another gospel, then it is quite consistent to be concerned about the message that a warm welcome sends to the people in the pew: it says that here is someone we commend to you and support - and label as 'distinguished guest' no less!

I think we underestimate the damage this does to the Faith and the spiritual health of the Church.

The rampant theological confusion so endemic to the Anglican Church in the global north is due in large measure to the inability of leaders (I think especially of the role of Bishops as an order to defend the Faith once delivered) to do anything other than offer cosy and supportive welcomes to anyone and everyone who has a title, regardless of their gospel pronouncements.

No wonder the Anglican Church in the west/north is fast becoming an insipid imitation of the Church it is called to be - but there again, we do know how to provide an effusive welcome, albeit it in a 'low key and unofficial way', so all must be well... (at least that is the message that is projected).

spicksandspecks said...

Hi Peter,
I imagine the Presiding Bishop wouldn't be welcome in the mainly evangelical dioceses (for theological reasons) or the Anglo-Catholic dioceses (for women's ordination reasons). That would mean the following at least, although there may be more since I'm not as familiar with some of the non-Victorian rural diocses:
Evangelical - Sydney, Armidale, North-West Australia, Tasmania (bit of a mix but an evangelical bishop)
Anglo-Catholic - Ballarat, Murray, North Queensland, Wangaratta
That's 8 out of 23 dioceses. So, it isn't just Sydney that would have issues with inviting her. The fact that she is only preaching in 1 local parish in 1 diocese might also indicate how warm the welcome is.
The Presiding Bishop has made it very clear that she is pursuing a different gospel to the majority of the AC. In that case, you don't roll out the welcome mat, you protect God's flock that is under your care.
Best wishes,
Andrew Reid

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Andrew for commenting with useful clarifying information which expands my knowledge base!

Thank you Tim for commenting. I think a difference between us I would want to work through (in my own mind, at least) is the question of whether a visiting bishop is teaching 'another gospel'. That is a 'serious charge' to bring against a brother or sister in Christ. And it raises other questions, such as whether I consistently apply that charge to all teachers around me ... I have tolerated a fair diversity in theology over the years in clergy with whom I am in collegial relationship!!

I agree that we are far from clear, consistent, and coherent in Western Anglicanism on doctrine, and for that a fair number of bishops over a long time now bear responsibility, but not alone because theological teachers figure in the situation!

liturgy said...

Thanks for your first link on this post, Peter. I love the ABC admission: "Following the #mitregate kerfuffle Lambeth Palace quietly revealed the Presiding Bishop was not singled out for special treatment, but fell under the policy that applied to all openly female bishops". Clearly the CofE policy, as usual, doesn't apply to closet females ;-)



Peter Carrell said...

If one does not ask, one will not be told. But if one asks ... :)

Kurt said...

Andrew and Tim’s comments are interesting in that the Presiding Bishop’s low-key visit Down Under appears to be A Very Big Deal to some Australian con-evos. Here in America, most Episcopalians wouldn’t know--or care about--Peter Jensen if they tripped over him at coffee hour. The contrasting indifference is striking.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt,
A point of difference is that it is highly unlikely that the Primate of TEC would be entertaining ++Jensen; and reasonably unlikely that any Episcopalians who knew about ++Jensen would think for a moment that the senior influential leadership of TEC were open-minded about following ++Jensen's lead.

Kurt said...

Oh, I see what you mean, Peter! In that case, perhaps the “Sydney Anglicans” do have something to worry about!?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Kurt, they worry about the susceptibility of others ...

Tim Harris said...

Peter @ 7:19pm: the conclusion about 'another gospel' is not one I make likely, and sadly it is one I have little doubt about. It is not along the lines of liberal-evangelical disagreements in academic theology and its occasional popularist exponents of past decades, but where such trajectories have taken the church.

There have been significant voices within the Church and the AC coming to the same conclusion - that the tensions within the Communion and internally within Provinces are more than ecclesiastical relationships, but over how two religions or faiths can co-exist within one Church (in the CoE the bishops of Winchester and (formerly) Rochester expressed it powerfully).

In the mind of ++Jensen and the Global South more generally, the troubles within the Communion are more than over sexuality (with all the pastoral challenges that brings), ecclesiology (who recognises who) or concern over 'scorched earth' legal strategies, but nothing less than a battle over the gospel as affirmed and lived out as the witness of the Church throughout the world.

They believe (and I concur) that the AC is not just losing its way because of an inability to relate to one another within a broader ecclesiology, but because of a determination by high profile members such as TEC to take its 'God is doing a new thing' version of the gospel which despite its deceptive use of traditional terminology is essentially jettisoning the gospel as handed down from apostolic times.

Tim Harris said...


Just ask yourself this: how much has the notion of what is 'holy' been abused in justification of behaviour that is bizarre and little more than western indulgence? - the presence of official TEC diocesan floats within GLBT parades in the US should at least give you pause for thought, sanctioned by senior leadership and its message that such lifestyles are 'holy' and 'blessed' by God. But these are just symptoms of what results from adopting another gospel and an enormously selective reading of scripture.

That the PB believes she has a calling to a global mission to commend such a gospel is alarming enough. Providing warm welcomes to such a mission is cause for disillusionment in local leadership. The affirmation that 'hospitality is hospitality' regardless of such considerations is more harmful to the church than we may realise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tim, for spelling out what I have been concluding for some time - that the core of Schori's theological beliefs do not cohere well at all with the Nicene Creed. This has been clear from her first sermon as Presiding Bishop. Many leaders in Tec are quite heterodox in christology and soteriology.
Al Mynors

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim and Al,
Thanks for further comments. I am not unmindful of the 'another gospel' aspect of the PB's communications, including her sermon here the other night (but cannot promise when a reflection on that will appear).

Nevertheless our church as a whole in these islands is not at the same point on what the gospel is, so not all will share a critique of the PB's 'gospel'.

I hold no truck with the antics of +Gene bouncing around gay parades, nor with aspects of TEC's life in which it boldly advances the view that it has the Holy Spirit's inside view on what is now true. But having returned from our latest Hermeneutical Hui (which I am sure, Tim, you will be catching up on via the Nelson reps), I am continuing to think carefully about the fact that gay and lesbian members of our church are asking questions about their place in our church (but not about whether we will join the antics of gay parades), and I am wondering about what we can decide as a church which is pastorally and pragmatically responsible without necessarily carrying with it any triumphant sense of a new revelation ... the kind of pastorally and pragmatically responsible decisions we have made about usury and remarriage of divorcees, for instance.

Please receive these responses in a friendly conversational rather than aggressive argumentative spirit!!

Howard Pilgrim said...

Tim, I want to add my voice to Peter's in testifying to the remarkable improvement in the tone of conversations between liberal and conservative participants in the hui from which we have just returned. To return from that to the rather polarising language you have used in these comments is a bit of a shock, and I hope it is not too indicative of the "reality" of our ecclesial situation. I had been looking forward to your contribution at the hui, was disappointed that you were unable to attend, and trust that you will engage positively in the ongoing dialogue.

One central topic in our discussions was the holiness Christ brings into all our relationships. Like you, I would react strongly to a woolly suggestion that any class of human relationships (marriage, friendships, whatever) are holy as such. I probably differ from you in believing that same-sex relationships, like straight marriages, have a potential to become holy as they are transformed in Christ. At the hui we debated whether that was at least possible, then began to ask what the signs of holy transformation might be and whether these could be the same for straight marriages and same-sex relationships. I look forward to your contributions to this ongoing respectful conversation.

Anonymous said...

"One central topic in our discussions was the holiness Christ brings into all our relationships."
Well, I suppose I would venture that companionship,friendship and a commitment to mutual support are natural goods that can be taken up into Christ (sanctified). What about exclusivity? And parenthood?
But then we come back to the question of the theological character of sexual desire and behavior (as John Paul II termed it, the theology of the body).
NT Professor John Nolland of Bristol explored this not long ago in a number of video addresses on the Anglican Mainstream website.
If we abstract some classical themes about friendship (that even Cicero could've written about) but miss the point of our embodiment as male and female, then we are not really thinking Christianly. Gay apologetics skirts around this.
A tough point for the modern sensual world to grasp: holiness always involves askesis.
Al Mynors

Tim Harris said...

Hi Howard. I'm glad to hear the Hui was conducted in a respectful manner and hope that progress was made in our engagement of scripture. I look forward to hearing reports in due course. My own involvement was curtailed by the change in dates and relatively late notice of the invitation to participate - I had already booked tickets for some leave in Aust. As it is, I had to settle for being in Adelaide and spending a few weeks cuddling our newly born granddaughter (our first), attending her baptism, and celebrating my youngest child's engagement party - not a hard choice as it turns out ;-)

While exhaustive debates about sexuality are not my subjects of choice, I have revisited the questions on a regular basis and appreciate any fresh contributions to illuminate our understanding of scripture and its significance for a faithful approach to discipleship - especially any that assist our pastoral integrity and responsibilities. As you know, my outlook is still theologically conservative, but it is not for want of pastoral sensitivity or concern.

Re. Al @ 5.07pm - I quite agree with you, and thanks for referring to Dr Nolland's well-considered talks. My own research background is in the social world of the NT, and I support Nolland's conclusions about the counter-cultural challenge of the gospel in this regard.