Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The case for staying

If our GS passes motions on same sex partnerships as proposed in the published portion of the papers in the post below, one case for going is that this would mean that the 'authority' of General Synod was compromised. The authority of GS, to which licensed officers of our church, both clerical and lay, must declare their submission, according to this argument, could no longer be submitted to because the authority of GS now incorporated 'false teaching'. Thus the honourable thing to do (so I understand such an argument) would be to resign one's post.

I want to suggest, respectfully, to any lay or clerical officer of the church thinking in this way that there are, nevertheless, reasons for staying. For the sake of clarity about my own position re the compromising of General Synod's authority in this way, I am not so sure that that is so. But I will leave for another occasion the reasons for my doubts on that score. What are reasons for staying even if we believe we have sound reason for going?

In line with some thinking of colleagues whose acumen I admire, these reasons include missional, pastoral, moral, historical and ecclesiological considerations.

Missional: if our church splits over the matter of homosexuality, our wider society will not understand this. It views homosexuality as harmless and civil unions and, increasingly, gay 'marriage' as a good thing. In such a climate we make ourselves even harder to be heard when we seek to present the gospel which becomes inextricably linked with an uncaring, even hurtful attitude to gays and lesbians. Almost impossible is winning a hearing from gays and lesbians themselves. Our consciences may tell us to go; our missional strategy  could, or should tell us to stay.

Pastoral: if our church splits over homosexuality, any aspect of it, many in the church will not understand this. If pastors leave congregations who both wish to remain and find themselves confused about splitting, who will pastor them? If we go, can we reasonably expect to be approached by gays and lesbians for pastoral care in our new churches if the critical reason for their existence is division over homosexuality? Further, the situation in our church is already pretty dire in overall perspective: aging congregations everywhere, new Christian churches and denominations are becoming the face of Christianity in our country, money problems loom re the post-quakes crises for our buildings (i.e. everywhere, not just in my Diocese). If GS passes the motions cited in the post below it will contribute to the perception that the Anglican church here is in lockstep with a slow ebbing tide of liberalism. But. The worse the situation, the more reason for evangelicals and other conservatives to stay, to bear witness to the truth, to fight for reading Scripture within the tradition of the church,* and to care for the progress of the gospel in the church we love. If some of us leave we will lose our voice completely, however marginalised we feel it is or will be if we stay.

Moral: if I go from my church because I think I am right about same sex partnerships being blessed on one level I am on moral high ground. But what does my going communicate? There is more than one message being communicated by such action. In report, whether in the press or in word of mouth explanations, I will be going because of homosexuals in the church. Protestations from me that I am going because of the presence of false teachers about homosexuality will cut no ice in the media and over the coffee cups: effectively, whether I intend to do so or not, I will be creating a 'scapegoat' grouping re my departure and the church splitting around me. That scapegoat grouping will include the tiny minority of self-identifying gays and lesbians in our church. Is it morally correct to create a scapegoat of this kind? I suggest not.

Historical: within the history of Christianity some splits in the church have been, so to speak, virtuous and fruitful. As Anglicans we have to believe that! As an evangelical I have been reminded recently of the importance of the Christian Union movement separating off from the Student Christian Movement (SCM) within the context of universities. But there have been many splitting moves which, in the end, have come to nothing. Donatism, the Non-Jurors proved in the end to be the hand withdrawn from the bucket of water: the water covered over where the hand had been and the water continued to be the church. Or, take some other splits: the Wee Frees in Scotland, who eventually reconciled with the Church of Scotland; or the several splits in Methodism which reconciled to become, again, the one Methodist Church. I even understand that here in NZ, many of the Wesleyan Methodist congregations (formed, incidentally, precisely over controversy re homosexuality) have now rejoined the Methodist Church of NZ. We might usefully ask ourselves whether any church split over an issue in the ethics of human sexuality has ever been 'successful'?

Ecclesiological:  our constitution and canons matter, as do our vows and declarations to abide by them. It is a huge dilemma for the moral conscience of the licensed lay or clerical officer of the church if something is decided which cannot be squared with the theological conscience of that person (except, of course, if it pertains to liturgical matters on which many of us exercise some interesting amounts of freedom from conscientious restraint!!). But does that mean that the first step in resolving the dilemma is departure? Indulge me for a moment: suppose on some matter I am right and the remainder of the church is wrong (Article 21: the church can err!). Do I go or do I continue my ministry until such time as the church excommunicates me? If I am right, why not let the erring church determine by its own lights that I am wrong, rather than me determine by my lights that the church is wrong by making the decision to resign.

Food for thought.

*This morning I came across a lovely set of words from a Catholic source re reading Scripture:

"to get the accurate meaning of the scriptures we have to read them within the tradition of the Church. Otherwise we are just treating them like objects floating in outer space. We can make them mean anything."

41 comments:

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for laying out something of your thinking on this matter.

I am sure that the decision to go or stay will be different for each person and context. Some will stay for very much the reasons you outline - for a time at least. Others will see no choice but to go, for very much the same reasons (at least the same headings).

My hope is that we can maintain fellowship across the divide with as much understanding and compassion as possible. I hope that both stayers and goers can maintain their fellowship with each other and the wide Anglican Communion, for there is a real sense in which the General Synod are the real goers.

For me it is the constitutional changes that carry the real weight, rather than the maverick decisions of one Synod or Bishop. While we are under the authority of the present constitution and canons, I think I can stay and continue to raise my voice in protest.

However, I do suspect that your reasons for staying need to be balanced by other factors, such as the apostolic nature of the church. For instance, the implications of 2 Cor 5:10-11 may far out-weigh other missional objectives; and 2 Cor 4:7-12 may well become the characteristic mode of faithful witness in the neo-paganism of western culture.

Malcolm

Tim Chesterton said...

Peter, this Canadian finds himself in complete agreement with you here.

Scott Mayer said...

Good morning Peter,

A thoughtful post, and one I'll need to read through a few more times!

An initial thought regarding your argument from a "missional" perspective: Isn't the misunderstanding that will follow if Evangelical/Conservative Anglicans split a matter of apologetics? Put another way, aren't there always aspects of Christianity that don't make sense to the wider world, and therefore explanation and defence is required?

Another question: Do you have any estimate of what percentage of Anglicans are Evangelical or Conservative in our ACANZP?

Scott

Peter Carrell said...

Good points, Malcolm. Thanks, Tim. And,

Yes, Scott, there are always matters apologetic to work on. However in this instance I would prefer to defend the answer to the question 'Are you unsupportive of gay 'marriage'?' than 'What have you got against homosexuals?' I fear a split will pose (whether we like it or not) the second question rather than the first.

How many evangelicals/conservatives (not necessarily the same thing) in our church? Roughly, the following considerations:

Voting power in Synods and hui amorangi: everywhere (including GS) a minority, save for the Diocese of Nelson.

Full-time stipdeniary vicars: ??40%??

Active, regular Sunday worshippers: ??35%??

Young people (up to age of 30): ??80%??

Gene Packwood said...

A case for staying in the Canadian context here: http://www.anglicancommunionalliance.ca/chairs_message.htm

Zane Elliott said...

Peter,
I wonder how much we have bought into the idea that 'if our church splits over the matter of homosexuality, our wider society will not understand this.' I've just spent close to two months ministering outside of a parish context with the NZDF and the vast majority of people who asked about these issues were flabbergasted that a church could even contemplate ordaining homosexuals. I've heard the same thing from non-Christians in other areas too (I raise this because some would argue that the military tends to be a conservative microcosm of society anyway.)

I am thoroughly convinced after having discussions with my hairdresser, barman, plumber etc. that most non-Christians expect the Church to be different to the society around them, whether they agree with it's viewpoint or not. I don't think the missional impact you have highlighted above is all that valid. I'd be interested to see if other people have had similar conversations with ordinary Kiwi's who don't find themselves on one side of the debate or the other.

Anonymous said...

Where would someone leave *to*, if they were leaving anyway?

Plus, re your "About" para on the side, have you guys annexed Tasmania, or is it that mainlanders don't count as Down Under? :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Gosh! scary talk here already, and these matters have not yet come before general Synod. In fact, if I didn't know the origin of this post, I would have thought it was a member of ACNA or GAFCON - springing up, ready for flight, with coat, hat and preaching scarf ready to raise up a new congregation of the like-mindid. I'm sad this comes from an 'educator' in our Church of ACANZP.

Peter Carrell said...

Your capacity to misunderstand my writing never ceases to amaze me, Ron!

Why would I write about reasons for staying if I was thinking of going?

Perhaps I am writing about reasons for staying because, as a brother in Christ, a priest of this church, and an educator, I am anxious that no one leave our church without thinking about all the angles. And perhaps I am writing thus and so because I have some reason to believe that some are thinking of leaving ...

Will you join me in praying that no one leave over homosexuality?

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Anonymous,
Please give a name next time.
We have annexed nothing in NZ to the west or east of us, but we have, albeit hesitantly, the confidence to assert a quiet dominance in leadership of islands hereabout, whether known as Tazzy or Ozzie.

Where would people leave "to"? Why, "to" the next stage in the journey of faith!

Anonymous said...

I know little about the composition of the NZ Church but i imagine there are different sorts of evangelicals among the clergy as there are in the C of E and so a range of opinions on homosexuality as on other things...similarly the laity. And i wonder if the 80% of the under 30's would all be doctrinally "sound" ( to use a phrase i try to avoid!)on this particular issue...or do they attend evangelical churches because there are lots of other young people and they like the style of worship.
From my experience ( re Zane)barmen, plumbers and hairdressers in England think rather differently from their Kiwi bros and sisters! Perry Butler ( Canterbury England)

Kurt said...

Well, Peter, like Fr. Ron I think you have given some great arguments against groups such as ACNA! Others made similar observations here in North America some years ago. Too bad ACNAers didn't listen then. Perhaps some con evo New Zealanders will listen to reason now.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt,
Yes, it would be interesting if ACNA had not been formed and those who went had stayed. I imagine if they had stayed it would have been for reasons similar to those posted here.

I still trust the essential reason for ACNA's existence: an overwhelming liberal/progressive theology being pushed to the point where disobedience is not an option. ACANZP remains a church with tolerance and the possibility of dissent without Title IV type charges being brought.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Will you join me in praying that no one leave over homosexuality?"

Peter, My prayers are eventually directed towards - not my own will, but the will of God - and on this issue I think that, if people insist on resisting any reasoned enlightenment in the important areas of gender and sexuality that presently threaten the unity of our Church; then they must be allowed to follow their conscience.

I can only pray that schism on such matters may be minimal, and that conscientious advocates on both sides may be able to live together without casting the usual anathema - such as has afflicted the Anglican Churches in North America.

The reality of Truth is so rarely captive to one side of an argument.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

The reality is that many will leave if this decision breaks the wrong way. Once it starts, it will be difficult to stop. Your arguments are simply not persuasive to someone who would see this decision as the result of a false religion growing in your midst.

carl

Shawn said...

"if people insist on resisting any reasoned enlightenment the important areas of gender and sexuality

I insist on resisting liberal political ideology masquerading as "reason" and "enlightenment".

This issue is solely about sexuality and marriage, and not at all about gender.

Carl is probably right that if this falls the wrong way, then it will mean that some will leave. The only question is, how many?

It will also mean that the current decline of the Anglican Church in NZ will accelerate, as has happened with every other church that has gobe down this path.

It is deeply shameful that the Church has been placed in this position by those who insist that their personal political ideology is more important than the unity, growth, and in fact the very survival, of the Anglican Church. At the very least they could have waited for the commission to finish its deliberations.

Shameful.

MichaelA said...

I have absolutely no position about people "staying" or "going" in the Anglican Church of New Zealand and the following comments should not be seen that way. I am fortunate in being part of a diocese (Sydney) and a province (Australia) which have made their position clear in a way that properly reconciles scriptural teaching in all its holiness and love.

But I was a little surprised at some of the reasoning used in this article. I would have thought there were better arguments or staying than the ones used!

"Our consciences may tell us to go; our missional strategy could, or should tell us to stay."

Hmmm, if our missional strategy is in conflict with a properly-informed conscience, then perhaps we have a deeper problem than just going vs staying?!

"Protestations from me that I am going because of the presence of false teachers about homosexuality will cut no ice in the media and over the coffee cups: effectively, whether I intend to do so or not, I will be creating a 'scapegoat' grouping re my departure and the church splitting around me. That scapegoat grouping will include the tiny minority of self-identifying gays and lesbians in our church"

Why should that be the case? Experience in the USA suggests otherwise. The media there seem fairly discerning, particularly when Anglicans take the time to properly brief the media.

"We might usefully ask ourselves whether any church split over an issue in the ethics of human sexuality has ever been 'successful'?"

We might also ask ourselves whether there have ever been any splits in a church over an issue in the ethics of human sexuality. :) Unless there have been (and been enough to be statistically significant), I doubt this question can help us much.

"Do I go or do I continue my ministry until such time as the church excommunicates me? If I am right, why not let the erring church determine by its own lights that I am wrong, rather than me determine by my lights that the church is wrong by making the decision to resign."

Now this one I agree is a very good question.

"To get the accurate meaning of the scriptures we have to read them within the tradition of the Church. Otherwise we are just treating them like objects floating in outer space. We can make them mean anything."

Sure, but what if by remaining in a particular church you are no longer reading the scriptures "within the tradition of the church"? To put it another way, if the particular church has rejected the tradition of the church, then this principle can easily indicate a different conclusion.

As I wrote above, I am not arguing that anyone should leave or stay in the Anglican Church in NZ. I know many orthodox christians who have made a decision to stay in the Episcopal Church in the USA, for what seem to me to be very good reasons, and despite the apostasy of some leaders of that body which go far beyond anything we face in the antipodes.

Bryden Black said...

In the first place Peter I’d want to raise a prior question: what’s this talk of “leaving” at all at all?

No; I am not revisiting such moves as those made recently within the AC such as ACNA vs. TEC. Rather, what is it that the Sovereign of the Church has already done to each who bears the Name of Christ? Wherein are we now planted? What is our ultimate identity?

Now; we both know from the history of the Church and especially since the Reformation there have been questions surrounding ‘the true Church’, and claims and counter claims as to which ‘group’ was/is indeed “true”. Curiously, it is the Johannine Tradition (with its glorious declarations of divine love and consequent commands for human Christian love) that starts to spell such thinking out: ‘they’ showed by their departure that ‘they’ could not have been genuine after all - so 1 Jn 2:18-19. And it is abundantly clear that it is all too easy to claim ‘we’ are those who “remain”, while ‘that lot’ represent John’s “antichrist” crowd in our own time.

In other words, just what constitutes ‘true faithfulness’ to that “deposit we are to guard” (2 Tim 1:14; and it is fascinating that that command follows a direct reference to the NT form of Catechism! How many know of that?!)? You have tried to muster five facets or dimensions around which we might stab at an answer. I want to try and run a thought experiment with you and others, suggesting that perhaps all five are more epiphenomena at first blush - until we have more adequately drilled down to a more thorough core or bed-rock. Just so my opening questions of the first two paragraphs above.

For if we are those who truly subscribe to the Nicene Creed - and NOT in any “loosey-goosey” (McCord Adams) style - then surely we are to be thrown back upon exegeting the Third Article more thoroughly: wherein the notes of one holy catholic and apostolic Church at all at all? I’ve already nodded in the direction of that root question in another thread (and got no answer BTW!). So now I spell it out more fully and more clearly. Whatdayareckon?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi MichaelA,
Good points. Thank you. Just responding to one: missional strategy/conscience. I suggest taking account of the missional dimensions of the situation is part of the proper informing of conscience. The danger with 'conscience' is that its informing revolves around 'me' rather than around the larger picture. Thinking about the larger picture may assist me to think more carefully and more widely than if I think about what is in my mind.

Peter Carrell said...

If I understand you correctly, Bryden, then (a) "leaving" // "staying" is about remaining or not within the specific institutional framework (constitution, canons, declarations of allegiance to the same, etc) of ACANZP. I could leave by getting on a plane and flying to Papua New Guinea and working for the Methodist Church there, or by submitting my resignation and continuing to reside in Christchurch 8014.
(b) wherein we are planted by God through baptism and affirmed by our reciting with integrity the Nicene Creed is the true church of God, the one, holy, apostolic and catholic church, albeit with some debate about the filioque, and it mattering little whether the acronym attached to my current mission and ministry begins with an A, T, or C!

But have I understood you correctly?

MichaelA said...

Peter, I now see that some of my comments could have sounded carping or 'superior', which they weren't meant to be. I don't know the answers. I can only say that our prayers are with you at a difficult time, and I am sure that the Lord will guide you to the correct course, whatever that may be.

Ephraim RAdner said...

Wonderful discussion taking place here, Peter, and I thank you for initiating and informing it. New Zealand is not N. America, but the experience of N. America ought to provide some lessons. In the end, though, there is a lot more to this question of "staying/leaving" than trying to predict the future effects of our actions. Bryden is rightly calling us to this central question,as are you. As you know, I am all for staying (despite the present unpleasantness!): division has never restored the Church! Even in the US Civil War, in the face of untold evil, division preceded warfare (and slavery), it did not really result from it, only taking new forms. And yes, the the missionary "witness" in all this is important, just as Jesus said it would be. Blessings, Ephraim Radner

Father Ron Smith said...

"Do I go or do I continue my ministry until such time as the church excommunicates me?
' - Peter Carrell -

We won't excommunicate you, Peter. Nor will we separate out from you on account of your set views on what it means to be cognisant of the facts about human sexuality - unlike ACNA and GAFCON.

We, in ACANZP are an Inclusive Church, but, if people want to leave on their own accord - on account of our liberality with Christ in the gospel - then that's their own affair and personal responsibility.

What I do take objection to though, in your article above, is this bit:

"Protestations from me that I am going because of the presence of false teachers about homosexuality will cut no ice in the media and over the coffee cups" (P.C.)

Your inference here that teaching about the innate sexual-orientation of LGBT people is somehow'false', betrays your profound suspicion of the motivation of Christian Teachers in teaching about the reality of the human condition - as though those of us who do so are somehow beyond the pale, I find a wee bit judgemental, especially for a modern-day Christian Educator.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,

The "I" in my writing here is somewhat variable between I=Peter Carrell and I=thinking my way into the shoes of brothers and sisters in the church as they (but it might be we) work our way through this and that issue.

I have never said here that teaching about the innate sexual-orientation of LGBT people is somehow 'false'. The 'false teaching' which may flow from the decisions of General Synod is teaching that same sex sexual relationships may be blessed (it is scarcely news that this is contentious, controversial and much debated, and precisely because some think we may not bless such relationships) and/or that marriage may be defined other than having a man and a woman at its core (again, the doctrine of our church currently is a definition that to teach otherwise is false teaching measured against our current doctrine on marriage).

As a Christian Educator it is my role to encourage discussion and study of what constitutes the true teaching of the church. Hopefully this blog is a contribution to that discussion, though the main discussions take place elsewhere, in our synods, General Synod, clergy and lay meetings and the like. Occasionally in such gatherings people ask me what I think ... mostly I am not invited as a 'Christian Educator' to make a contribution to such discussions!

Bryden Black said...

Thanks Peter for starting to probe the deeper implications of any calls to stay/leave. I have to confess myself that it is not that easy to get outside one’s own ecclesiological skin, as it were! For they are ponds we so naturally and obviously swim in that we take them too much for granted!

Your (a) versus/and/or (b) do start to address some key aspects of the question (as I see it). One of the better resources I have encountered that seeks to address the issues is Oliver O’Donovan’s delightful series On the 39 Articles: A Conversation with Tudor Christianity (1986). A few key elements for the purposes of this blog and for all of us as we try to translate our ecclesiology into real (imminent?) decisions.

As always, unless our doctrine of Church is Christologically based, then ... But how might the lived life of the God-Man Jesus, together with his death and resurrection and ascension, ‘relate’ to either institutions - your (a) - and/or something ‘other’ than organizational structures - your (b)? First off and crucially: in the Holy Spirit. Our ecclesiology is essentially (sic!) Trinitarian. Just so my referencing the Creed. Thereafter, we may usefully note the Reformation’s trichotomous distinction between “the invisible Church”, “the visible church”, of all those who profess the Name of Christ, and lastly those concrete institutions of churchly organization, like ACAN&P with its Blue Book etc.

As Oliver notes, since both faith is in the first place based not on appearances (as are church bodies) and since we may never know this side of the Parousia who/what is wheat and what darnel (I love Augustine’s slightly naughty taking of that parable of the Kingdom and applying it to the mixed nature of the Church), we must distinguish between the first two, the invisible Church and the visible church. Practically, thereafter, which organizational expression of the church might one belong to? The trouble with that question, put that way however, is its serious Protestant bias! As if we were just religious consumers in some ecclesial supermarket ...! It is, as Alister McGrath states, a “dangerous idea”!

Being Anglican therefore, how might I steer my/our way between the Scylla of a Roman Catholic Ecclesiology that would map the trichotomous spheres into virtually one single domain (yes; that’s horridly crude: apologies to Henri de Lubac) and the Charybdis of the Land of Religious Lib-er-ty that would spawn independent congregations/gatherings like Walmart mushrooms (with apologies to my metaphorical American friends)? Part of the answer surely though is how rich is my understanding and experience of Divine Providence? Thereafter another crucial part is how thick/thin is my understanding and experience of Church and churches? And lastly, how do I/we understand and experience eschatology, the sheer manner in which the triune God redeems his world?

Those who might stay and those who might leave will be driven by all such “demands”. But then again, the last creature to ask questions of the water is the fish: it’ll be too much trouble for some anywhichway!

Peter Carrell said...

It would be fair to say, Bryden, I suggest, that as Christians we all belong to the visible and invisible church, but as Anglican/Baptist/Roman/Moravians we belong to a distinctive part of the spectrum of the visible church, some shining that part of the spectrum more than others ("I am an Anglican and proud of it" compared to "I am really a Baptist, but I have felt at home in this local Prebyterian church these past twenty years.")

"Leaving" can be leaving for another part of the spectrum whose lustre appears not to have dimmed; or it may be to stay within the same part of the spectrum but free of shadow ("It's not me leaving the Anglican church but the Anglican church leaving me" or "The Free Presbyterians are truer-to-Christ than the (ordinary) Presbyterians."

Within the spectrum it can all look very good to shift from one part to another. The world, I suspect, looks on the whole spectrum and sees all its shadows and loss of lustre (e.g. making no distinction between the paedophile priest of one denomination and the adulterous pastor of another; or, generally see all the divisions of the visible church as a blot on the churchscape).

Wheat and tares, indeed. Aside from the Church of Me (wheat, of course), there will always be the mixed crop of the parable!

Bryden Black said...

Interesting Peter that you go for the metaphor of “spectrum” to depict the visible church; rather than, say, the dichotomy of “visible” versus “organizations” (though some of the latter might be indeed dimmer than others!) But that does not in itself address the more awkward discipleship issue of church-swapping: should one be doing it at all at all?

So; while the metaphor of ‘light’ allows your talking of “shadows” and “lustre”, from a variety of perspectives, Christian and worldly, the crux remains, from the stance of a deeper theology of Church: why hop at all?! Sure; I am all too aware the use of “deeper” is itself a metaphor ... So back to my opening questions earlier. The answers to which may cause our tongues to be cut out (so Maximus), or our hands to be burned first (as any Anglican may answer), or our indifference to allow the beatle - not to say “worm” - to hollow one out from within.

I suggest that how we approach these questions will determine greatly our practical decision-making. This is no idle game of scholasticism. So it is incumbent upon us to dig a bit more deeply into the very premises of our questioning, of how we frame the very matter.

Michael Reddell said...

As I read this, and reflect on the issues, I increasingly wonder what distinctive and useful place there is for evangelical or traditionally-orthodx Anglicans. In what way would the Church be poorer were evangelicals to leave a denomination born in rebellion, nationalism, and a questionably-biblical endorsement of divorce, for (say) the Baptists, the Roman Catholics, or the Orthodox?

As to missional strategy, would today's general non-Christian public regard the stand of Athanasius as comprehensible/sensible? I suspect not, but suspect we should not let that greatly influence us. The church is called to be counter-cultural, not dragged along in the wake of whatever the secular world around us adopts as belief and practice.

But I say all this as someone who came late to Anglicanism, perhaps not realising quite how far from the best of Anglicanism things had gone, or how baptistic (for good and ill) so much of evangelical Anglicanism had become.

My first-born child was baptised in a TEC congregation just days after Gene Robinson was elected bishop. Ever since, I have wondered quite what we were doing.

MichaelA said...

"We won't excommunicate you, Peter. Nor will we separate out from you on account of your set views on what it means to be cognisant of the facts about human sexuality - unlike ACNA and GAFCON."

Father Ron, surely the latest developments in TEC suggest that that is precisely what "you" will do? And if not you personally, then certainly your fellow liberals will do it.

"We, in ACANZP are an Inclusive Church, but, if people want to leave on their own accord - on account of our liberality with Christ in the gospel - then that's their own affair and personal responsibility."

That was said in TEC also. But now they are moving to charge and expel every conservative leader they can reach.

What reason is there to suppose that ACANZP won't go down precisely the same road once the liberals get more power?

Peter Carrell said...

Er, MichaelA, there is the difference that in these islands we know each other too well :)

Seriously, I am not sure that the current moves in GS are about liberals getting more power, but about our church wrestling with pastoral matters, on which (believe it or not) some conservatives have common cause with liberals.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
Sorry for not engaging for a while...just arrived back in Australia for home assignment, so the time around departing the Middle East and arriving here has stopped blog reading for a while.
The submission to GS required of clergy is interesting. In Australia, Sydney in particular has always treated GS as a business meeting, and hence doesn't see it as joining in fellowship with those who oppose the gospel. If they had to make an oath of submission, that position might change.
In terms of staying/going, it sounds like you expect the resolutions to succeed? Please heed the lessons of TEC and ACC. Your choice will be to become like the Diocese of South Carolina - a harangued and persecuted minority contending faithfully for the gospel within the Anglican Church, or like ACNA - an orthodox Anglican organisation freed up for renewed mission, but with legitimacy issues.
Will be praying for you all as the Synod approaches.

Father Ron Smith said...

The more comments I read on this post, the more sympathy I have with those who do not see the Church as in any way cognisant of what is actually going in in the world of scientific research - cosmology, biology, you name it, the Church seems to have become stuck in a 1st century world view.

The God Particle - paradoxically, may be an indication of the fact that scientists may have a bit more of a handle on the relationship between the Creator and the created than many fossilised Christian. At least, they are still looking for the meaning at the heart of it all.

Shawn said...

"the Church seems to have become stuck in a 1st century world view."

That would be the same worldview that Jesus held?


"…Modern science, arising out of an arbitrary limitation of knowledge, within a certain particular order, which is indeed the most inferior of all, namely that of material or sensible reality, has as a consequence forfeited all intellectual value."

Rene Guenon.

Bryden Black said...

Oh Ron; if you would only truly have eyes to see the delicious irony: the media hype around the phrase “God Particle” reveals a cosmology more akin to Stoicism or even monism than the Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation. Or have you forgotten some of the debates of the 4th & 5th Cs especially?

Thereafter, may I recommend AE McGrath’s Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology, which is part of his furthering the engagement of Christian theology and natural science, begun in his magnum opus A Scientific Theology (2001/2/3). And the reason for pointing this out is simple: while some contemporary physicists are indeed invoking ‘god’ language, others strenuously deny it! “Sweet reason” on its own and premised on false foundations will yield precisely ... human pride and sin!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, I do appreciate your comments from time to time.

However, a world without scientific achievement would have rendered your life pretty difficult. Even Christians have to acknowledge the vale of scientific research.

Research, to be of any value must be both pro-active and post selective. I notice many of your favourite authors are pretty old hat by now. God brings our of the storehouse of creation some things old and some things new. The future is not closed to God's activity.

Jesus did say "When the Spirit comes, S/He will lead you into all truth". And the Spirit of God is still alive and active. Closed minds may not be able to access New Wisdom from God.

Father Ron Smith said...

"“Sweet reason” on its own and premised on false foundations will yield precisely ... human pride and sin!" - Bryden Black -

One thing modern science is doing is researching the secrets of the cosmos - formerly unknown to human beings.

Are you saying, Bryden, that this work is fruitless? I'm sure the eminent N.Z. Scientist Lord Rutherford (with whom my wife has intimate connection) would disagree with you on this - and he was a Nelson College Old Boy with a lively christian Faith.

I suggest you look in on the recent Cokcroft/Rutherford videoed Lecture by Professor Cox of Manchester University (complete with a poem by Wordsworth). You might just get a sense of the stimulus and romance of scientific exploration.

As God is Omniscient, a Christian might surely presume the truth of the fact that 'All Science belongs to God!' God IS the meaning and origin of ALL things. Yes? Maybe God wants God's children to become a little more aware of "All God's Marvellous Works". Nothing to be scared of here.

Shawn said...

The problem with much of modern science, or more precisely scientism, is the myth of objective neutrality. In reality however it is founded upon the assumption of a Godless universe. From the start therefore it is founded upon a lie. This renders much of its pronouncements dubious at best. Scientism is an ideologicaly driven enterprise in which, sundered from a Biblical and sacramental worldview the cosmos becomes desacralised, and the scientific process becomes little more than a will to power over nature.

Last point, I don't think anyone could reasonably claim that Alastair McGrath is "old hat".

Rosemary said...

Hi peter always appreciate your thoughtful writing on this subject, and your desire to hold together through it.

A couple of other comments:
!. When I arrived in NZ and lived and worked with Bill Smith on the Coromandel, he would not marry divorced folk in church. The Church had moved a little on this by then - you had to ask permission of the bishop if I remember rightly. I am not sure if he had changed his mind on this before he and Margaret died. I wonder if there is anyone now who would not marry (or ordain) a divorced person.

Ditto ordaining women - Nelson waited 10 years before ordaining the much loved Ruby Jones. Dunedin waited 5 years. Many parishes were years before they could accept women priests. I wonder if there is anyone now who would be anyone now in NZ who would not accept a woman priest as normal.

My reading of this is that if General Synod moves on the homosexual issue, there will be room for dioceses bishops and priests to hold a different position.

2. He Tangata, he tangata, he tangata. This is in the end not about Homosexuals, but about friends, relations, priests, and people such as myself wanting to celebrate in a sacred space my new relationship.

Bryden Black said...

G’day Ron! I have sat on your two responses over the w/e to my comment 6 July @ 11:14. My reasons for so doing are multiple.

Firstly, much of what you say just misses the mark. Secondly, much of what you say seems to suggest you just have not read any of McGrath’s seminal work of these past few years. [Shawn’s reply to your “old hat” remark is singularly mild!] Thirdly, whenever you employ ‘reason’ and/or ‘science’ talk, you seem to convey to those who have either done real scientific work and/or have delved richly into the philosophy of science that much of the time you just don’t seem to get it. Fourthly, ... Fifthly, ... .

Nor are these ad hominem replies. Rather, they seek to say, Ron, that if you truly wish to engage with scientific arguments based on a fulsome appreciation of the disciplines that aspire to that name, together with the many and varied roles of reason [NB the present pope’s Regensburg lecture in September 2006 one more time], then please, may you truly stick to the specific argument at hand, and the given point, with their reasoned premises. Otherwise I fear my responses might become deleted by elves and sundry moderators: which of course would actually not display the true nature of the scientific enterprise - even if it might reveal the penchant for Kiwi culture to seldom grasp the nettle of serious conflict. Which latter trait might just have something important to say re the very title of this thread: a good few Anglicans in these Islands may merely drift away silently, for fear of the conflict simmering below the surface, trying to avoid it ... Hardly the position of a St Athanasius whose scientific approach in his day has bequeathed to us nothing less than the Nicene Creed - which of course sundry members of the AC nowadays try to decry according to their own ‘lights’, together with a whole lot more.

MichaelA said...

Peter (Carrell),

Thanks, I sincerely hope that is the case.

Some of the things going on in the Episcopal Church in USA are frightening these days, but of course that doesn't mean they have to happen in the same way in other places.

Bryden Black said...

Hi Ron! back on 6 & 7 July et al we had an exchange re "the God-particle". I've come across this since by AEMcG:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8956938/Higgs-boson-the-particle-of-faith.html

Enjoy! Especially when we run the changes re Christian eschatology and the Vision of God, being somewhat parallel to this month's "news".