Monday, May 20, 2013

Brewing the Perfect Storm in our Church (3)

INTRODUCTION

If I lived in one of those great castles built on a cliff beside the sea I don't think a perfect storm would worry me too much. But what if I lived in a sandcastle on the sea shore? Jesus got there before me and told the story. The house built on the rock will stand.

Rather than prognosticate on how strong I think our church is to withstand controversy, let me ask readers these questions.

If we engage in a perfect storm over the next few years, will there be an Anglican church in these islands in twenty years time? 
Do we have the strength to survive the storm and rebuild after it passes through? 
Where the Anglican church has exhibited a progressive agenda in these islands, can we measure the impact of that agenda in terms of congregational growth?

A PERFECT STORM WILL NOT NECESSARILY TAKE PLACE

In an important comment to the previous post in this series Bosco Peters makes the case that there need not be a perfect storm over the matter of the blessing of same sex partnerships (especially here). His supporting analogy is that on the question of divorce and remarriage where we have made decisions and pursued practice which is not biblical, nevertheless we have remained together as a church. I agree that there need not be a storm. I think that all those for whom 'biblical' is an important criterion for judging what we should and should not do would do well to ponder the following: what things in our church are practised which we think are unbiblical, and why do we accommodate them by staying rather than leaving?

In other words, in terms of disagreements in our church, as outlined in previous posts (e.g. approaches, attitudes, authority), we have experience of sharp disagreements being overcome and of disagreements being maintained in tension without spilling over into schism. The present brewing storm need not lead to division.

YET DANGER REMAINS BEFORE US

Nevertheless, I suggest there are possible decisions our church could make which would contribute to a perfect storm engulfing us. Here are three.

(1) If we changed our canon on marriage (and text of our marriage liturgies) in order to extend our ecclesial definition of marriage to include two people of the same gender.

As I listen in our church I hear voices which are open (some much more open than others) to our church doing something re 'blessing' same sex partnerships but draw the line at change to our understanding of marriage as being about a man and a woman. In other words some pragmatic recognition of same sex partnerships which does not revise what we already have written down about marriage in our formularies and canons may avoid the perfect storm developing.

A different voice, though getting at the same idea, that marriage between a man and a woman is sui generis, is expressed by Bryden Black, in various comments over time on this blog, but especially here.

In my words, at least two views of marriage are at work in the Western world (in one marriage is an estate ordained by God for the conjugation of a man and a woman with potential for fruitful procreation and capacity to both image the diversity-in-unity of the Triune God and of Christ and the church, and in the other marriage is a legally and morally acceptable arrangement in which two people express their committed love for one another).

Our allegiances within the church to one model over the other represent a cleavage between an understanding of the church as a body governed by a theology disclosed by God through revelation and as a body governed by theology built from the ground upwards where the ground is human reflection on experience. At some point in the history of the church in the 21st century this cleavage will result in conflict rather than conciliation. This may be that moment.

(2) If we made general willingness to conduct blessings of same sex partnerships determinative of selection for ordination or appointment to licensed ministry.

We likely will make a decision which in principle means that ministers are equally free to offer such blessings or to refuse to give them. After all, currently ministers are free to accept or to refuse to conduct a wedding. But that is not where controversy lies. Where controversy lies is in the processes of discernment for ordination and for appointment to licensed ministries. In that process questions can (and should) be put about attitudes to things. Examples include wearing robes, using the prayer book, following certain customs, approach to collaborative ministry. Sometimes these questions are put to yield a kind of profile of the interviewee with no one question being a "killer" question in which the wrong answer could mean a refusal to proceed to ordination/appointment. Sometimes one question is a killer. I will be upfront and say, I can imagine in some dioceses that an expression of refusal to offer blessings for same sex partnerships will determine the outcome of interviews.

(3) If we so approved whatever it is that we might approve by way of change that licensed ministers and officers of the church felt they could no longer sign with good conscience that they will abide by the authority of the General Synod.

On this matter I am speaking about a specific concern voiced by colleagues whose integrity is such that they would leave their current ministries by handing in their licences if a decision of General Synod meant they could not remain committed to the authority of General Synod. In reporting this concern I have no specific example to give of how GS might word a decision so that the concern is met and all is well. Put another way, while there is the obvious example that a change to our marriage canon (see 1) above would trigger this concern, it is not clear to me what might count as a change instituted by General Synod which either does not trigger the concern or is at least ambiguous enough for hesitancy to occur as to whether the trigger is pulled or not. But I will observe this: for General Synod to offer the possibility that each bishop may determine whether or not blessings of same sex partnerships may occur within their episcopal jurisdiction may be a step too far.

For now, that is the end of this series. Comments are welcome. They may yet trigger some further thoughts.

PS I am offering reflection on the possibility of a perfect storm arising if our church proceeds in certain directions. It is also possible (though may be not equally possible) that if our church does not proceed in certain directions there will be a perfect storm.



32 comments:

Bryden Black said...

In order to try to increase rather than decrease mutual understanding one final time, Bosco! In brief, using the summary format from Storm (2), cited by Storm (3):

In A, folk have concluded that in some circumstances the marital relationships have become so broken that divorce is reasonable because it has become ‘the lesser of two evils’. We might even cite the floating Johannine pericope: “neither do I condemn you, BUT go, sin no more.” In which specific circumstances, the Church seeks to bless the parties in their own quest for marital renewal. [I still grant you “circumstances” have become also so stretched institutionally over the years that ...! And see the PS.]

In B, some folk see that ‘committed’ ss relationships are inherently reasonable, good and holy, warranting therefore the status of ‘marriage’. Other folk meanwhile see such relationships and behaviour to be inherently “sinful”, which therefore God and the Church may never bless.

The sheer grammar and logic of A & B are incommensurate; the parallel you seek is just not there (even as there appear to be some elements in common).

PS. Where in A some folk have concluded some divorces to be ‘good’ and reasonable, they have surreptitiously modeled the revisionist view of marriage (ala Girgis et al); indeed, one of the hallmarks of the revised view of marriage is to claim divorce to be an option anyway - or dare I say it, their “choice”.

I am less optimistic overall therefore than Peter’s Storm (3) might be suggesting regarding the outcome of ‘unity’, given these essential parameters displayed in (A &) B. Yet I broadly agree he has begun to lay out important triggers for all to contemplate. This is most certainly helpful, and for which we all should be grateful. I especially agree with the italicized section under part 3. Our ecclesiology at this point has historically proven to be pretty insipid: we in this Province have simply not taken to heart the profound significance of there needing to be THREE bishops to consecrate another, new bishop. See now for example just this question as it is being discussed in a hotly contested set of circumstances: http://livingchurch.org/why-provinces-matter and http://livingchurch.org/do-not-cheat-prophet

Father Ron Smith said...

"Fear not, rejoice and be glad
The Lord has done a great thing,
Has poured out His Spirit on all humankind -
On THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN HIM!

This was one of the lovely choruses we used to sing in the 1960s at Saint Paul's Symonds St., Auckland, when I was a member of Saint Paul's singers. It says an awful lot about where we need to put our trust - not in our own righteousness - but in His.

The Pentecostal message is: "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" - a good corrective to fearful scare-mongering. The Rock on which the Church has been built is Christ Himself - not any mere mortal.

Shawn Herles said...

The Rock on which the Church has been built is the Word of God, not the word of the world.

The righteousness we have is in Christ alone, not in our sexual desires.

We are saved by God's grace alone, not by the false legalism of political correctness.

The Holy Spirit leads us into a deeper understanding of Biblical truth, but as Scripture is also the Word of the Spirit then the Spirit never reveals anything contradictory to Scripture.

A "new revelation" that contradicts Scripture is not a deeper truth but a different truth.

My hope is in Christ alone, not in the ideology 1970's pansexual freedom.

Shawn Herles said...

Here are some more post-Pentecostal words from the Spirit.

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." ..... Galations 1:8

"For a time is coming when people will not listen to right teaching. Instead they will follow their own desires and look for teachers who tell them what they want to hear." ...... 2 Timothy 4:3

liturgy said...

Without wanting to get distracted by the nature of your “need” to have three bishops at an episcopal ordination, and probably agreeing about the level of rigour in our province,

having, as I said, backed out of this conversation and closed the door, I now keep hearing my name repeatedly being used from behind this closed door as I begin to walk away;

opening the door a crack I find that the “level” which my name is being drawn down to is, yet again, that (to use your grammar analogy) of discussing whether or not a semicolon can be used in the same manner as a full stop or not.

I have been trying, unsuccessfully for some it appears, to raise this to a meta-discussion, wherein we acknowledge that those for and against using a semicolon in the same manner as a full stop are at an impasse. We have been at this impasse, I have been suggesting, for years. And years. And years. Occasionally a few have moved from one position to its opposite – but generally people are unconvinced by the others’ arguments.

I am pointing out that we have managed to stay together as “English speaking” whilst holding together those for and against the Oxford comma; and I think this provides a model for the way forward for the semicolon-full stop debate. Yes there will be moments of confusion. But, with some goodwill on both sides, it is possible to continue.

Even understanding that some will hold that rules of grammar are to be found principally in a book written far away and long ago; and others will hold that rules of grammar embody the developing needs and insights of new contexts as they change.

He says, with his head through the open door, to anyone who may listen, as he once more tries to go back to other things that interest him, possibly more.

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco

I understand full well what you are saying above. And if you and I were running the church, it might just be that the sanguine view you take of the future would prevail.

But I have now, several times, tried to make the point (now using your imagery above) that our success in holding together re the Oxford comma is not a guarantee of success in holding together re the semi-colon/colon. That is because, previously, on the matter of semi colon or colon, there was some evidence that it really, really matter what view one held on one or the other.

No one, but no one reading here has yet commented on whether: my fears are warranted or not.

(Just to be clear, I am not asking you to comment on my fears. You may not feel able to. It would be quite desirable to have some bishops, should they be reading here, to make comment).

mike greenslade said...

It is fascinating how we as Christians get so intrigued with other peoples colons.

Peter Carrell said...

When you put it like that, Mike, ... "too much detail" :)

carl jacobs said...

This conflict cannot be modeled as a conflict over the correct use of semi-colons. Such a metaphor inherently trivializes the conflict by removing its moral content. This is a conflict over the definition of good and evil, and the authority by which we may discern the difference between the two. There is nothing inherently trivial about it. We are not getting exercised over "other people's colons." To treat it as such guarantees the outcome that some many here seek to avoid.

And, yes, Peter. You should be very concerned that conservatives will be unofficially proscribed. It's not even properly categorized as a risk. It is an inevitable outcome. There won't be any formal change of standard. The result will be realized through unofficial vetting. It has already happened in TEC. You will not escape a similar result. What you refuse to grasp is that this is not a conflict within a religion. It is a conflict between religions. Liberal Christianity presents a different god. It follows a different Christ, and preaches a different gospel. It cannot and will not tolerate what you believe over time. It hates what you believe. Unless you grasp the nature of this conflict, you will be consumed by it.

carl

Anonymous said...

Carl has expressed the issues with clarity and force. Bosco has seriously mis-stated the issues as a dispute over nothing of great significance ('semi-colons and commas') when in reality the apostolic church (and the history of catholic Christianity) would have treated it as a salvation issue.
Carl has also observed that the issue means the disintegration of western Protestant churches under liberal leadership as conservative traditionalists are expelled or depart. This is exactly what has happened in Tec and Canada, and is now tearing the Church of Scotland apart. I'm a fairly rationalistic sort of person who doesn't easily reach for the word 'demonic' but I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that this is what is going on in the Goetterdaemmerung of the Protestant churches. Things haven't yet come to this pass in England or Australia because 1. the Anglican evangelical churches remain comparatively strong; 2. the national churches are weak and old and would hasten their own death by driving out the evangelicals. Nevertheless, pro-gay organizations (working outside the parochial system where they have little support) continue to maneuver to get their people into leadership and thereby change the rules.
Martin

Anonymous said...

The actual words were:

"Feat not, rejoice and be glad
The Lord hath done a great thing
Hath poured out His Spirit on all mankind
On those who confess His name"

St Paul's Symonds Street has been through many ups and downs since these words were penned in 1971, changing its theological character, coming close to death and then reviving, at least as far as numbers are concerned. No doubt there are interesting lessons to be learned there.

Martin

Bryden Black said...

Apologies Bosco for lassoing you from behind locked doors! We have after all been in that Easter Season recently! And if I persist, it is because this line of conversation has serious impact upon our respective outcomes - or at least, upon our anticipated/perceived outcomes re ‘unity’.

The ‘grammar’ remark of mine has in fact everything to do with a meta-level discussion (it happens to derive from Wittgenstein and is in common usage by many theologians); even playful parodies of , ; : . are ineffectual!

The sheer logic/‘grammar’/pattern of the sections A & B, as I tried to lay them out last time, should show you how and where the actual discussions within each of the sections are different - in logic, ‘grammar’ and pattern. This therefore is what leads to the clarity Ben has put his finger on; and just so, the two debates are manifested to be not formally analogous/commensurate.

This result, at precisely the meta-level you seek (even though you have at that level striven for quite a while - YEARS you say - to assert the alleged analogy despite now the clarification triggered by Ben), has consequences for suggesting that the outcome of B will not be the same as the outcome of A.

[And if you now want to try to shift the nature of the discussion to the Oxford Movement, as yet another analogy to demonstrate the meta-level, I’d agree with you: that particular 19th C ‘controversy’ readdressed the balance between Evangelical and Catholic in the CoE by and large. But then, yet again, I do not see it to be a mere balancing trick - i.e. a valid analogy - when you offset the TEXT of Scripture, the norma normans, from any CONTEXT, that which is to be conformed to the due norm, age upon age. It is precisely, I suggest, those who view the present context to be determinative (e.g. those who stress ‘experience’) who are disobeying this due norma normans. To mix metaphors now: the tail is wagging the dog! But to agree again in closing: walking the dog among the autumn colours of Hagely Park is far more rewarding than having to jump through closed doors ...]

liturgy said...

Just a point of clarification, Bryden, as it seems you are reading what I wrote differently: I have not at all been striving for years to get the discussion to this meta-level. My attempt to “raise this to a meta-discussion” was in this present series of Peter’s posts. My reference to being at an impasse is solely at the level below – where we have been for years and years now. No credit for any effort of mine at that level whatsoever, please.

As for Carl and Martin’s criticism of following the grammar metaphor – you really need to take that up with Bryden who, IMO, helpfully introduced it as a way to move the discussion forward. Impasses, behind locked doors, however, can seem more comfortable when we’ve sat there for an extended length of time.

Blessings

Bosco

Jethro said...

There is a perfect storm coming Peter. The church will hit a financial storm in the not to distant future (just like Dunedin), on top of our numerical and theological storms.

The church should be thinking about battening down the hatches, not trying to cut each others throats. But what are we to do when there is a mutiny in the ranks, and our ministry-units are also ill-equipped to face the challenges of life on the high seas of the 21st century?!

Has not our General Synod had the will or authority in the past to bring our ship up to shape and in Bristol fashion? Are we such an uncontrollable and mutinous rabble that it has been unable navigate our Waka of faith? Can we trust the authority of our General Synod now when we look at where we are at?

I hope there is an Anglican Church in the next 20 years, but I would not bet on it.

Is the Anglican church a desirable option to young leaders when there are other churches that are orthodox and willing to change to meet the challenges of discipleship in the 21st century with anything other than syncretism?
Are we willing to take up our cross, prepared to re-evangelize and disciple New Zealand? To re-evangelize and be renewed disciples ourselves?

Are we willing to look like idiots for Christ as Daniel did with his diet of veges in a society that lives on sacrifices to false gods?

These may be a few ways of finding out if there will be an Anglican church in 20 years time.

Bryden Black said...

Gotcha Bosco! Shall not hold you to that one then. Perhaps we shall better our mutual prospects by kicking those beautiful multicoloured leaves in the Park ;))
No; I did not say pigeons, with Tom Lehrer!

As for grammar: I rest my case - as a helpful way of assessing Ben's constructive insight.

Peter Carrell said...

Many things to ponder, Jethro!

Bryden Black said...

A valid enough series of questions Jethro from a necessary generational point of view.
Most specifically, I've been forced to use on a number of occasions the word "drift" in relation to steering - or rather not steering - the waka that is the ACANZ&P. I sense this more than anything else to be greatly instrumental re our present seaworthiness - or otherwise.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I've been forced to use on a number of occasions the word "drift" in relation to steering - or rather not steering - the waka that is the ACANZ&P" - Dr. Bryden Black -

Reminds me of the grammatical (and theological) lurch from 'Anglican Mainstream' to 'Anglican Slipstream' in the U.K. Stagnation and Lack of vision can be a terrible thing.

I do wonder though, Bryden, if you have voiced your concerns about the direction you see ACANZP taking to anyone with actual authority in our Church? Or are you just criticising from the sidelines - as people from other Provinces seem to be doing, on the matters you find difficult?

Peter Carrell said...

An urgent plea to all commenters reading here from ACANZP.

In response to Ron's comment above, does anyone have "actual authority in our Church"?

If so, could I please have names and addresses.

carl jacobs said...

Bryden Black

In A, folk have concluded that in some circumstances the marital relationships have become so broken that divorce is reasonable because it has become ‘the lesser of two evils’.

You are stealing a base here. Yes, divorce might be the lesser of two evils. But what does that have to do with re-marriage? People do say that re-marriage (absent biblical cause for the prior divorce) is a positive good. And yet the relationship that would result from that re-marriage is objectively adulterous. It can't be made non-adulterous after the fact. This is the source of the close connection between the two cases. Divorce doesn't require remarriage, and yet we allow re-marraige and participate in it and even presume to declare it blessed. All in the face of Scriptural claims to the contrary. Why?

carl

liturgy said...

Thanks, Carl, for underlining my point, that there are people who, whilst believing that in certain marriages the church has been blessing adultery, have said and done nothing about this, nor has a storm, perfect or otherwise, resulted.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

"Thanks, Carl, for underlining my point, that there are people who, whilst believing that in certain marriages the church has been blessing adultery, have said and done nothing about this, nor has a storm, perfect or otherwise, resulted."

Or perhaps they have exercised that great Anglican virtue-vice of 'charitable presumption', refusing to judge whether a particular remarriage was 'spiritually licit' or not. Or perhaps they don't really care that much about people who want church weddings but rarely if ever attend church.
IMO, the churches created this problem for themselves by agreeing to officiate at the marriages of divorced persons instead of leaving this to the state, on the pretext that they were being 'pastoral' thereby. In reality, they were claiming to be making windows into men's and women's souls.

Martin

Bryden Black said...

Carl; at first blush you make a vital point - just as Bosco’s ‘analogy’ seemed to have good traction initially. But thereafter we still have to do some exegetical and hermeneutical work.

A short reply would simply refer you to this resource from the CoE, Marriage in Church after Divorce, being the Winchester Report of 2000. See http://www.chpublishing.co.uk/product.asp?id=13853

But I guess that might just frustrate! In brief therefore.

Mk 10 is the place to start, in particular v.12. Is Jesus suddenly ignorant of torah and/or halakhah?! Technically, it’s impossible for women to divorce! So what’s he saying? In short: women too can be responsible for breaking the commandment, for causing any break-down in the marital relationship. In this way, Jesus is actually honouring the status of women NB. They are not viewed by him as mere objects in the scheme of things, but are exactly on a par with men as human subjects with both freedom and responsibility. And all this from one mere verse!
Thereafter, many a commentator and moral theologian links this interpretation of Mk 10 with the so-called Matthean exception, which you parade. BUT again: how to actually interpret this? At first blush again, we can just take it as a biblical injunction permitting divorce in this circumstance, as if it were a piece of legislation. But is the context of, firstly, the Sermon that sort of thing? What is the relationship between law proper and ethics and/or morality? And what again IS actually the Sermon on the Mount? I happen to have done quite a bit of work on these questions, with the help of e.g. Daniel Patte, Benedict Green CR, and a delightful collection The Sermon on the Mount through the Centuries: From the Early Church to JP2 (2007), plus of course a swag of commentaries. [All this for a section within a unit on Theology and Culture, taking up John Stott’s view of SM as Christian Counter-Culture, undergirded - my take - by the spirituality of the Lord’s Prayer, which is the heart of the chiasmic structure that is the entire Sermon. I did warn you we’ve some work to do!]

That is Carl; I do not ‘read’ the ‘Matthean exception’ of chs 5 & 19 quite as you do, as a simple piece of legislation. Rather, it does parallel the freedom and responsibility motif of the Markan equivalent, ch.10. The hardness of heart of both women and men can precipitate the marital break-down. And now for a real doozy of a question: can anyone break any of the 10 Commandments and be forgiven?! And pause for a real long time before answering - coz the answer is seminal.

liturgy said...

Thanks, Jesse, for your questions.

Does your use of the word “orthodox” include, as it has throughout most of Christian history, bishops, apostolic succession, right worship,… or is this a revisionist use of the word?

Your questions of our General Synod and our church’s leadership have been with us for a long time now; and include our church’s acceptance/assumption that we only give lip service to the agreements we have with each other. That unmade bed having been with us so long now, it is only the current passion about the move to shift a pillow away from the head end that surprises some of us who have been pointing out that what we have been prepared to lie in for a long long time now has sometimes been difficult to recognise as a bed.

Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

"In response to Ron's comment above, does anyone have "actual authority in our Church"? If so, could I please have names and addresses."

- Dr.Peter Carrell -

Well, Peter, speaking canonically, I would think that a perusal of the Clerical Directory of ACANZP would allow you access to the names of those in the House of Bishops, and of the General Synod membership.

Or are you being cynical? OR, do you think that ACANZP has no canaoncial leadership? I would have thought to you, as a member of G.S. would have some idea of where 'real authority lies within our Church.
Remembering the need of a majority ruling in G.S.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not being cynical.
I suggest the bishops themselves wonder where 'actual authority' lies in the church.
Sometimes they will wonder that because ordering their clergy will seem akin to herding wild cats; sometimes they will wonder that because it seems like actual authority belongs to certain committees, but they cannot work out which ones.

Mostly I ask the question because so many matters in our church are referred from one council to another ... and back again. Yet somehow things get resolved and stuff happens!

Bryden Black said...

Ron; you ask a question - May 20, 2013 at 11:08 PM
So does Peter - May 20, 2013 at 11:38 PM

My tuppence worth of a first answer: synod a valid enough authority? Proposing a motion furthermore in synod? Speaking to another’s motion? Then; formal letters to a bishop, to an archbishop? Private conversations with a bishop? And of course, our latest church attempt, in typical kiwi style, a Commission of GS - ???!!! Sorry Ron, your bait lies untouched at the bottom of the Kaikoura Canyon; not a difficult decision - just so long as our waka does not finish up there too (together with the Southern Kingdom of Judah in Babylon ala any good figurative exegesis of Church history).

Peter’s question I fancy has now been more or less addressed (sorry; pun) by Bosco ... which lectarian description endorses - with far more flair than mine - my “drift”.

All in all, as any meteorologist will tell us, weather patterns take time to build; and we can more less anticipate them as we measure the data and generate models to attempt specific predictions. As with the weather, so with the history and culture of institutions. We’ve only ourselves to blame if we get caught out in the open in a storm ... Just so, pray for Oklahoma.

Rosemary Behan said...

I suppose you can call it a perfect storm if you like, but to my mind it’s God, our Creator, purifying our church, and that’s going to be painful for all of us. Absolutely no good any one of us sitting around thinking we’re perfect already, because we’re not.

The other day Bosco was talking about the heresy of the song which speaks about the ‘wrath’ of God. If we have any .. even the tiniest glimpse of God the Father .. such a concept frightens us. Not I think because we believe for one moment that He doesn’t love us .. He sent His Son, but because we KNOW somewhere inside, that we are due to be purified. If not in this life, then the next. I teach children, and their ability to understand concepts sometimes requires the uses of analogies that I think as adults, we outgrow. So you have the picture of the huge distance between us and God the Father. A distance that doesn’t allow us to clamber across, no, the only way to cross is to trust in Jesus. That is His body stretched out over that huge distance, and it’s stretched so thinly that it’s like a rope across the Niagara Falls. We mustn’t be like the crowds on one side, who KNOW that the only way over to the Promised Land is by that narrow rope. No we must trust IN Him, step out onto that narrow rope and trust that He will keep us safe. Where are we heading? To the promised land. But that land is as bright as the sun. We can’t look at it. What’s more, we know that the nearer we get, the more the heat of that bright light will burn us. Burn away all that is not pure, which always seems to me to be all of me .. so the phrase, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” always seems to me to be central. [continued]

Rosemary Behan said...

We have the Holy Spirit within us, leading us, guiding us. Yes we stray, but He drags us back to the purpose He has for us .. which sometimes we can’t even see clearly. However I’m sort of one step removed, so sometimes I get a glimpse perhaps. For instance, if you google Rev. Bosco Peters, you know immediately that he and liturgy have a strong connection. Indeed, I am most grateful to Bosco for his faithfulness in trying to protect that area of our church’s life. If you google Rev. Wally Behan, you know equally as clearly, that for instance, he and Malcolm went down to Dunedin to call Title D to try and stop or at least delay the ordination of a practising homosexual. So you know what Wally too stands for. Presumably you have all googled your own names, sorry but I can’t be bothered. However I do know and understand that what God asks of us .. each one of us, is to be faithful to what He has called us. I suspect our host has tried for years to be ‘peacemaker’ slightly disturbed by that well known phrase … ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace.’

What I would like to suggest is that the so called perfect storm that you are all contemplating, if it is indeed God purifying the church, does not necessarily entail a split. It DOES entail a recovery of trust in Him, a recovery of trust in His Word .. once and for all given. And it DOES entail a recovery of trust in His Son and what He has done for us. One of the reasons I am so adamant in my position on WO, is that I’m on that rope, that rope is Jesus, and He asks me to be helpmeet .. which means so much more than you can imagine. My whole being is entrusted to that rope that is Jesus Christ, I can do no other .. however painful it has been for me .. than to trust Him. That is what we must do as we approach this ‘coming’ that Peter refers to as the perfect storm. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. [continued]

Rosemary Behan said...

For instance, we didn’t leave the church that chose to ordain women into positions that put them in authority over men. Oh that church is leaving us, but the important thing is we didn’t leave. Neither did Bosco when he was ignored by all for his love and protection for the liturgy. I think when folk think about either Wally or Bosco, they think we’re just a little bit bonkers, and they’ll ignore them if they can. I’ve no idea how Bosco will react to my speaking about him in this manner, he wants to raise things to a meta narrative, and I don’t even know what that means!

The thing is .. if General Synod make the decision we all fear .. then we declare ourselves ‘out of fellowship’ with our General Synod, and put a motion to our own Synod that they be ‘out of fellowship’ with them too. If that fails, then parishes will indeed need to make up their minds whether they are going to be in or out of fellowship. BUT THERE’S NO NEED TO LEAVE THE CHURCH. You guys will have to talk and reason out just what ‘out of fellowship’ means, but what we stand for, whether it’s liturgical or theological, has been the Anglican formularies from the beginning. We ARE Anglicans. No, they’ll have to boot us out to get rid of us, there’s no need to leave. Besides, most of you have chosen to be leaders in this church, to lead the people of this church, you have a God given responsibility towards those people God has entrusted to you. An awful lot of lay people have heard about Wally Behan because of Google, and know what he stands for. An awful lot of lay people have heard about Bosco Peters because of his web site and google, and know what he stands for. Do those lay people know what you stand for? It’s very important. Taking a recent Bryden post, we can be forgiven much, we WILL have much burnt off .. but we won’t be forgiven at all if we don’t put Him first.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I agree that, whatever we call what is coming, we need a purification as a church.

I am also inclined to stay until booted out rather than leaving when the going gets tough.

I like what you say about the promised land and holding on to Jesus and to him alone.

Father Ron Smith said...

Rosemary, I may not agree with everything you have to say, but I do admire your tenacity - and your faith - placed in the only possible object of our worship and loyalty - the One who gained our redemption: The Son of God, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ - there is none other! In this vital understanding, we are at one.