Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I wish Reform Ireland would tell us what they really think

A woman, the Reverend Pat Storey, has been elected bishop in the Church of Ireland, for the Diocese of Meath and Kildare. Naturally this is always a possibility if one has canons permitting such elections. Logically the time to protest and then to shut up is when such canons are being considered. Charitably the election of any bishop is a time to express prayerful support that the appointee might be well-prepared to take up this important office.

Sadly, I suggest, Reform Ireland is in no mood for acting either logically or charitably. Here is their press release (more accurately, their press blast, H/T Thinking Anglicans):

"The Church of Ireland, in common with the Anglican Communion worldwide, has always prized doing things ‘decently and in order’ (1Corinthians 14:40). With the appointment of the first woman bishop in Britain and Ireland, it has furthered the disorder in God’s church that it originally initiated with the decision to appoint women as presbyters and bishops by an act of Synod in 1990.

God’s order for the family and for his church is male headship, a loving, Christ-like, self-sacrificing leadership for the purpose of leading others into maturity and fellowship in Christ. This ordering, initiated by God at the creation of man and woman, is not based upon or designed to produce any inferiority or inequality of woman to man. Rather, it is based upon the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself.

As God’s Word makes clear, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal persons of the eternal Trinity, ‘One God world without end.’ Yet, the Son is eternally submissive to the Father (1Cor.11:3), who is described as his ‘head’, and similarly the Holy Spirit’s role in the economy of God is to serve the Father and the Son. Such headship of the Father does not imply the inferiority of the Son or the Spirit. Rather, the submissiveness of the Son within the Trinity is for the purpose of a perfect loving fellowship where there is mutual glorification of the other.

In 1 Corinthians 11, the NT teaches that the principle of male headship in the family and the church is modelled upon the relationship of the Father and the Son. Male and female are equal in status (Galatians 3:28) but woman is called to be submissive to God’s design for male headship in the church. This voluntary acceptance by a co-equal of her role in the church is her Christ-like service of God, and like Christ does not imply any inferiority or inequality. On the contrary, like the voluntary submissive relationships within the Trinity, the purpose of the woman and the man in playing such complimentary roles is for the purpose of mutual glorification of the other in Christ.

This complementarian approach is creational, biblical and crucial for our sanctification in Christ. To ignore God’s design for man and woman is to bring disharmony and disorder into Christ’s body. The Church of Ireland, by its recent appointment of a woman to be Bishop, has not only brought more disharmony and disorder into God’s church, but it has also side-lined Christ in his own church. If God’s Word does not rule his body, the church, then Christ is a mere figure-head and not the captain of his people.

By ignoring God’s equality agenda and role for man and woman and substituting it with a ‘spirit-of-the-age’ equality agenda, the Church of Ireland has in effect discriminated against those who hold to a biblical position. This decision will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland. The appointment to Meath is therefore a sad day for many in the Church of Ireland because it is one more indication that the Church of Ireland is no longer listening to God’s purposes for his church.
23th Sep 2013"

What is wrong with this statement? Let me count some of the ways.

1. It is absolutist about the consequence choosing women both as presbyters and bishops: the church is brought into 'disharmony and disorder'. The position of Reform Ireland is both that this is so and that there is no other view. However a disordered church (fullstop, tout simple) is no church to belong to. The statement begs the question why Reform Ireland exists within the disordered Church of Ireland. The disordered Church of Ireland has been so since 1990: why has Reform Ireland remained part of such a church? There is an alternative approach, namely that a variety of views exist within the Church of Ireland about the ordering of ministry and thus the ordered and disordered state of the church. Reform Ireland could have taken the opportunity to remind the church that this variety of views co-exists within the church without blasting the church, dioceses and Pat Storey with the above denial of the possibility of her ministry being ordered.

2. It states as an accomplished theological fact that the idea of male headship of family and church is "based upon the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself." This is misleading. The idea of male headship of family and church is based on some passages in Scripture. Some theologians argue that it is also based on the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself but this is much controverted (e.g. in the writings of Australian theologian Kevin Giles) particularly on the matter of whether the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father, to say nothing of the matter of whether such subordination within the Godhead is directly applicable to relationship between husband and wife. (1 Corinthians 11:3, 'the head of Christ is God' is potentially a reading in this direction but not definitively as this is not 'Father-Son' language).

3. It makes a declaratory judgment that the Church of Ireland has permitted women presbyters and bishops because of "a ‘spirit-of-the-age’ equality agenda." Is this true? Many people support women in all orders of Anglican ministry for reasons other than an 'equality agenda', let alone one driven by the 'spirit-of-the-age'. For example, we support the ordination of women because we recognise spiritual gifts of ministry leadership within women which we also see in men (as we believe the NT church also did) and/or because we understand the ordained ministry of the church to be the ministry of Christ expressed through those called from among those who are 'in Christ', men and women both being equally and fully 'in Christ.' But the Reform Ireland allows no recognition that it belongs to a church which is not enslaved to the spirit-of-the-age.

4.  It makes a definitive statement about the future which is not underpinned by reality elsewhere in the Anglican Communion: "This decision will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland." Well, there is a diocese not far from where I write, actually right where I write, in which it is simply not true that people holding to a complementarian view of headship cannot 'serve' in a diocese with a woman bishop. And I write from within a church with one and soon to be two women bishops in which fellowship throughout the whole of our church is not 'impaired.'

A note to readers: I have no wish to 'relitigate' the question of women being ordained presbyters and bishops, nor do I wish to argue (or to be misunderstood as arguing) that there is no place in 21st century Anglicanism for those who in good biblical conscience do not support the ordination of presbyters and bishops (there is such a place). But women in the life of the Church of Ireland, and in the Anglican Communion deserve better than the statement issued by Reform Ireland.

48 comments:

James said...

A related question Peter. Is there in fact a place now in the ACANZP for ordinands, clergy and parishes who cannot support the ordination of women to any of the three orders of ministry? If so, how does that work given the official position of this church?

James

Peter Carrell said...

We do, James.
It works but for those for whom it works there could be an added expression of 'with tension'.
There could also be folk who say that 'in my patch it does not work.'

Father Ron Smith said...

I entirely agree with your summary of the facts about women's ministry, Peter.

Protesters against Women's leadership are challenging the right of the Church to act upon what it perceives as the need to "Hear what The Spirit is saying to the Church".

Change has always been resisted - at every point in the evolution of doctrine. Even when the needs have become painfully obvious.

David Wilson said...

Here in England there has been much talk of those who are opposed to women in leadership (over men) being regarded as "loyal members of the Church of England". But that must cut both ways. Those opposed should, in turn, treat those in favour as loyal members of the CofE. I don't think a statement like that from Reform Ireland is such treatment.

Bryden Black said...

"Tension" is suitably ambivalent Peter; so a good word. It may result in creativity - or destruction. The problem is we humans have a difficulty - of not being able to grasp often the longer term consequences of things.

Frank Kermode once spoke of "dissonance" leading to "discovery" (after WC Williams), in his Sense of an Ending. Perhaps what we need more than ever, with this kind of exchange/response to 'novelty', is a richer vision of how to grasp the threads of time's purposes - as the Lord of Time offers us the space in which to move ... forward - or backwards ... But that presupposes we are prepared to surrender to Time’s created sway. Which is another way of saying, surrender to the Triune God, whose very Being is the fulness of temporality (after Robert W Jenson), and who thereafter “... does not create a world that thereupon has a history; he creates a history that is a world, in that it is purposive and so makes a whole.”

Sadly, whether it’s a case of WO or of ssm, neither ‘side’ quite desires such a fulsome embrace - IMHO! Their “wholes” are often just too partial to discover/uncover the real engines of the “dissonance” - and notably whether these might be complementary, or contradictory. Reform Ireland simply contradicts almost all of the 4th and 5th Cs Nicene history, whose purpose was to help reveal the true significance of not just the complementary and relational identities of the Divine Persons but also their fulsome Lordship - of glorifying each Other. I.e. we do not have only Phil 2:6-11, “where Christology began”, but also the Fourth Gospel, where Christology reached its canonical climax, in “The Glory of the Lord”.

And it warrants a woman to become the first witness to such Glory ...

[I trust this comment is not too compressed ... It’s unzipping would take a few pages/chapters/books ...!]

Peter Carrell said...

Comment from Ron Smith (with a line which implies a judgement which is unsubstantiated removed):

"I've always been keen on zip fasteners, Bryden, they can often hide what might better remain under cover - as not necessarily affecting the public good.

And.. you are right about Mary of Magdala being privy to Christ's Risen glory. I can't think that Jesus was making a mistake..in allowing a woman first glimpse.

Concerning the tendency of 'Reform' to accredit the Persons of The Trinity with 'Male Headship-, that's almost too silly to discuss.
[...]

I see the Church of South India (an Anglican affiliate) is going ahead with its first woman bishop. The pressure is rising in the C.of E.
"God works in a mysterious way God's wonders to perform!"

"Where was God in the America's Cup Race?" I guess in the technology!
"

Bryden Black said...

"Where was God in the America's Cup Race?" I guess in the technology!

Actually Ron - I suspect in the deep, deep pockets of one Larry E!!! It's called the love of sheer money.

MichaelA said...

"A note to readers: I have no wish to 'relitigate' the question of women being ordained presbyters and bishops"

Okay, well since that topic is off-limits, I will look at something else! (which BTW is not meant as a criticism; I understand you to be saying that the doctrinal differences are what they are, and they will no doubt be discussed at other times). So I trust the following will shed some light on your questions:

1. I don't know much about Reform Ireland. I do know a little bit about Reform in England. Also about low church Protestantism in the Church of Ireland generally – Peter, were you aware that Sydney Anglicanism has been more heavily influenced by Irish Anglicanism than any other source? (those are my words, but I think most church historians would agree). It is no accident that one of the most influential Principals of Moore College, T. C. Hammond, was specifically recruited to that position from Dublin in 1936. One of my parish priests in Sydney as a boy was from the Church of Ireland. Therefore no-one should think that these current events in Ireland are that far removed from Australia and New Zealand.

2. There are few Evangelical Anglican priests left in the Church of Ireland. But there is probably still a large mass of parishioners and congregations that are strongly Calvinist and evangelical.

3. I expect that Reform Ireland's aims are the same as those of Reform in England: press for change from within, but at the same time lay the groundwork for establishing an alternative Anglican polity in Ireland if change is resisted.

4. You can say all you like about examples of pro- and anti-WO people working together in dioceses that you know. But the harsh truth is that the "conservative evangelicals" like Reform Ireland will nod and smile, but they won't believe you. The example of how pro-WO people treated their opponents in the USA, and even just reading comments on sites like Thinking Anglicans leave no doubt in our minds about what will actually happen when liberals secure their hold on power. So write all you like about how Reform in Ireland should be more conciliatory. But it won't have any effect.

I trust that is helpful.

MichaelA said...

Peter,

As an example of where Reform Ireland are will eventually be headed, see this news release from Anglican Mainstream: http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2013/09/25/anglican-but-not-c-of-e/. It concerns the recent installation of a new pastor to an Anglican church in England which is not part of the CofE.

Note that those attending the ceremony included:

• Reform England (most of whose members are part of the CofE);

• Oak Hill (the evangelical theological college in England, most of whose ordinands become CofE ministers);

• Jesmond Parish Church (one of the large evangelical churches which is still part of the CofE).

• AMiE (a local organ of Gafcon – Bishop Ellison who conducted the ceremony is the chair of AMiE)

I am personally only aware of half-a-dozen independent Anglican churches in England. But there are likely to be many more that I am not aware of. And the fact that they are moving clergy between themselves with supervision by Anglican bishops indicates that a degree of organisation is starting to take hold. Sooner or later I expect they will get to the stage of having clergy consecrated as bishops who have served all their working lives in the independent Anglican movement.

Anonymous said...

MichaelA's comments on the Church of Ireland agree with what I have generally heard and seen. The CofI is basically liberal catholic in its clerical leadership, which is gerrymandered to ensure the southern dioceses, with few members, maintain control over the north, where most members are and where there is a significant evangelical presence. Evangelical theology is not taught in the liberal CITC in Dublin, which has tried to maintain a monopoly over ordination training.
I have often wondered whether the travails of Roman Catholicism in Ireland would redound to the advantage of the CofI. I don't know if this has happened, but
a NZer friend who is a minister in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland tells me there has been a growth in southern Presbyterianism there as young Irish Catholics, disenchanted with their natal church, have looked elsewhere.

MichaelA's comments on the growth of new Anglican-tradition churches outside the fold are on the mark. The Co-Mission network in London has seen significant growth, despite the attempts of liberal bishops to quash the movement.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that there is NOT a single bishop in the C of E who disagrees with WO, despite all the high talk of 'respecting differences'. Why not? Because the talk is meaningless persiflage.

Bryden: I wasn't aware the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries were about WO. I'll have to go back and check my Eusebius.

Martin O Sean

Bryden Black said...

I very much agree with you Michael A with your assessment - that is, in terms of realpolitik.

Firstly, we have an emerging/re-emerging Puritan strand within older parts of the AC (I am very familiar with CESA, BTW). Then, where Liberals are entrenched in older parts of AC, these two strands will increasingly diverge. One also suspects the latter will also shrink as they get older and die - even if some modest growth might occur here and there in the medium term. Meanwhile, thirdly, most Anglo-Catholics will have smaller and smaller space within which to manoeuvre, making either the Ordinariate more attractive or even Orthodoxy appealing. Broad CoE meanwhile again will play its cultural cards with less and less relevance. (I cannot evaluate ACNA my not having enough info ...)

All this however leaves one crucial factor unmentioned - Global South Anglicanism and in particular GAFCON and/or FCA. While the ties in the particular story you refer to are present, at this stage there is no groundswell to suggest Evangelicals in say the broader English speaking world (BESW) will migrate in numbers any time soon. This is especially so given Welby’s appointment. Mentioning him brings me to a last point: how will he engage with the imminent GAFCON meeting in Nairobi? And how many reps from the BESW will attend Nairobi and what exactly will they bring back to their homelands?

And so much might very well depend upon this October meeting of GAFCON, and much too on its links with both the wider Global South and the ABC himself. 2018 is not that far away now ... So watch this space ... closely!

Bryden Black said...

Dear Martin O'Flannery; to be sure now, neither did I! Twas the mere mention of their silly talk of "subordination" that made me say what I did. Their recent hijacking of the "complementary" though is no compliment to St Athanasius and/or the Cappadocians now, is it? But we'll let that aspect stand as true enough nonetheless.

Shawn Herles said...

I agree with the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father, and male headship, rightly understood.

The two problems I see with interpreting the subordination of the Son to the Father as a model of male-female relations is that it that the Son and the Father are not husband and wife. The most that could be extrapolated from subordination is that we give due obedience and honor to those in God-ordained authority, specifically our parents as per the commandment. But it is reading too much into the doctrine to claim that it supports the particular interpretation of male headship being used by Reform.

The other problem is that the Father is always 'Father' and never 'Mother' it does not follow that there is a direct correlation between the Father and male human beings. After all, as one of my Otago tutors was fond of pointing out, this is according to Scripture a Father with a womb.

There is an otherness to God which makes extrapolating ideas on human social relations from the nature of God, including the inter-Trinitarian relations, extremely dubious.

This is equally true of the attempt to promote radical egalitarianism by claiming radical equality of the Persons of the Trinity, which cannot be discerned in Scripture.

Let God be God, and creatures, creatures.

Anonymous said...

Where was God in the America's Cup?

Warning against the worship of graven images - especially ugly ones.

Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

" There are few Evangelical Anglican priests left in the Church of Ireland. But there is probably still a large mass of parishioners and congregations that are strongly Calvinist and evangelical."
- Michael A -

That's why, Michael, it was so refreshing to celebrate the life of Lancelot Andrewes at Mass this morning. He was not an advocate of Calvinistic piety in the C. of E.
He was know as a 'saintly parish priest'. What more could one want?

Father Ron Smith said...

I Think, Bryden, you have raised a valid point - about the effect that GAFCON might have upon the future of the Anglican Communion. It may be rather less than these conservative Primates hope for.

There is still a lot of power in middle of the road Anglicanism around the world (ACANZP is part of this). Also, of course, though presently loosely allied to GAFCON, the Global South Provinces may not want to dislocate from Canterbury in the U.K.

The G.S. Primates - apart from GAFCON - are not quite so actively belligerent in their disaffection with the C. of E. They recognise their ideological roots in the Church of England

What might happen under the new ABC is, of course, an important factor. But I hear that he has not sought an invitation to the next GAFCON - nor should he necessarily. If they want to continue to be annoyed with what they have perceived as the 'liberal' ethos of the C. of E., it may be that they will have to hive off on their own - but without any real claim to represent 'orthodox' Anglcanism as they are wont to do.

One part of the confusion as to what might really represent Mainstream Anglicanism, is that a small conservative entity in the Communion insists on calling itself 'Mainstream Anglican' is muddying the waters. Another institution in the U.S.A, calling themselves 'The Anglican Communion Institute' (ACI) is trying the same ploy.

Their utterly con/evo approach is distasteful to many Anglicans, who just want the Church to measure up to the real needs of people in the 21st century. M.A., ACI, AMiE, FiF and GAFCON might just decide to split off from the A.C. and float a new Church - but it will never represent Traditional Anglicanism.

BC said...

Peter,

Just a few brief comments by way of background on the CofI:

1. The 1990 GS overwhelmingly voted for WO to priesthood and episcopate, with strong support from self-identified evangelicals.

2. Yes, there is a strong evangelical constituency in the CofI but it is diverse and by no means uniformly Calvinist. Charismatic, moderate and open evangelicals would be a majority of the constituency.

3. The principal of the CofI Theological Institute (seminary) is a well-respected evangelical.

4. Of present House of Bishops (11 until Meath consecration) 3 are evangelical.

5. Not quite sure how majority of laity in Northern Ireland can be described as "Calvinist". There is a majority 'low church' ethos (although nothing like as dominant as it once was), but Sydney-style conservative evangelicalism would be very much a minority position.

6. In conclusion, CofI has a diverse and vibrant evangelical constituency, predominantly in NI, of which Reform would be part but by no means a majority of the constituecy. Calvinism and opposition to WO are not defining characteristics of the majority of Irish evangelical Anglicans.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron I am happy to publish your commendation of the theology of Julian of Norwich. I am not going to publish your presumption about commenters attitudes to Julian of Norwich (none of whom have actually commented above on Julian of Norwich). Thus:

"[I commend] Mother Julian of Norwich, English Mystic and spiritual director of many. She did not hesitate to address the deity as "Father/Mother God". Her seminal work was of her visions, which she recorded in her "16 Revelations of Divine Love".

I guess Mother Julian might have had some experiential understanding of the mystery we call 'God'. "

Peter Carrell said...

Dear BC
Thank you for a helpful and illuminating overview!

Shawn Herles said...

Julian of Norwich may have been a good Christian, but she is not the Messiah nor a source of authority in the Church.

Jesus only ever calls God His Father, never mother. Scripture never uses mother as a personal pronoun. Those two examples are all I need.

Shawn Herles said...

Anyone who is charismatic in their spirituality has experience of God. But in my thirty some years of being a Christian God the Father has never revealed Himself to me as anything but my Papa.

The Holy Spirit on the other hand reveals Himself/Herself in both masculine and feminine ways.

We can certainly learn from the mystics of the Church, though I have two cautions. One is that strictly speaking all Christians are mystics, or at least are supposed to be. The other is that the mystics remembered by the Church were, like all of us, fallible human beings, and thus their teachings should always be carefully measured against Scripture.

MichaelA said...

I agree, Fr Ron. Lancelot Andrewes was an impressive man and his devotions still benefit many people today.

MichaelA said...

BC wrote:

"5. Not quite sure how majority of laity in Northern Ireland can be described as "Calvinist". There is a majority 'low church' ethos (although nothing like as dominant as it once was), but Sydney-style conservative evangelicalism would be very much a minority position."

Is this a response to my post? If so, a couple of clarifications:

Firstly I never wrote exclusively about Northern Ireland, so I am not sure why you are restricting it to that area? Secondly, I never suggested that a majority of laity anywhere in Ireland could be described as "Calvinist". Rather I wrote about a "large mass" (no pun intended!), i.e. large enough to start an alternative Anglican polity if they chose to go down that road. Thirdly, I don't think my comments about the connection between Sydney and Ireland have been very carefully read – its not a matter of Sydney-style conservative evangelicalism (what does that mean, anyway?) but of common roots in doctrine and churchmanship. Whether that leads to common actions in a particular case is another matter entirely.

"6. In conclusion, CofI has a diverse and vibrant evangelical constituency, predominantly in NI, of which Reform would be part but by no means a majority of the constituecy. Calvinism and opposition to WO are not defining characteristics of the majority of Irish evangelical Anglicans."

I would partly agree with that, although it’s the same story as we observe in England and the USA – how long do "moderate evangelicals" last? In the end, they mostly tend to gravitate to one side or the other. Reform and like-minded groups in England are as strong as ever they were, whereas the voice of moderate evangelicalism is disappearing.

This all reinforces my point above, i.e. that I suspect that Reform Ireland will follow the same trajectory as "conservative evangelicals" in USA and Britain – they will protest from within, but they will also take steps to set up their own structures, and quite possibly run both inside and outside strategies at the same time, for many years. But absorption into the moderate evangelicals/liberals will not be considered.

Bryden Black said...

“I agree with the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father ...”
“... radical equality of the Persons of the Trinity, which cannot be discerned in Scripture.”
Shawn

I sense Shawn these two lines of an earlier comment are far better appraised by another, richer understanding of the God of the Gospel as attested in the Scriptures.

Succinctly put: each divine Person is essentially disposed towards the Other(s) by means of an essentially kenotic glorifying of the Other(s). In the case of the Son, both eternally and economically, this comes across as ‘humble obedience’. The fault of the likes of Reform and those who go along with their post is in stopping there and skewing this piece of evidence. They fail to notice Scripture thereafter also directs our attention to the Father’s glorying of the Son and the Holy Spirit’s act(s) of glorification, each according to their divine idiomatic identity. In my more irreverent moments, I speak of the heavenly passing of the buck, so eager are the Persons to always lift up the Other(s). Nor is such a line of thinking mere speculation or akin to angels on heads of pins. On the contrary, it lays bare the absolute well-spring of the divine character, in mercy and love and compassion, in truth and faithfulness and ... glory! And much follows thereafter ...

BC said...

MichaelA, many thanks for the further comments. I restricted my comments to Northern Ireland due to the fact that I am not aware of any significant support amongst laity for a Reform agenda in the Republic.

Within NI I see little ,if any, evidence that there is a "large mass" of laity willing to support an alternative Anglica polity. When WO passed GS, the attempt to create a 'continuing CofI' attracted no support amongst laity. There is an inherent conservatism amongst CofI laity in NI which will not, I think, be persuaded to join an alternative Anglican polity.

As for the non-Reform evangelicals, 'moderate' is perhaps the wrong phrase to use. They are a majority, they are vibrant, they are growing parishes, and they support WO.

Where I do agree is on the likely trajectory of Reform Ireland. It is difficult not to read the statement as precursor to some form of separation, not least because it elevates to creedal status their view of male headship. While property rules in the CofI complicate matters, I would agree thay something akin to AMIE is likely - but it will be very much a minority stance amongst Irish evangelical Anglicans, clergy and laity.

Shawn Herles said...

GAFCON, Anglican Mainstream, and similar groups do represent traditional Anglicanism. Moreover they point to a much larger constituency in the Communion that is tired of the constant compromising with the spirit of the times.

The vast majority of Anglicans in the global Communion are evangelical charismatic. Liberal-revisionists are a minority, and certainly don't represent mainstream Christianity. Thus it is not a "con/evo ploy" but simply the truth. I have no doubt many Liberal-revisionists find all this "distasteful".

MichaelA said...

BC wrote:

"Within NI I see little ,if any, evidence that there is a "large mass" of laity willing to support an alternative Anglica polity."

I am sure you don't. That may say more about you than about the Church of Ireland. I am not being rude, just saying that it has been the same story in USA, Canada and England over the last 15 years: Lots of people saying that they don't see any sign of support for an alternative polity. Except that we now have such an alternative polity in USA and Canada, and it is clearly happening in England as well. That does raise an issue about the judgment of those who assumed it could never happen.

"When WO passed GS, the attempt to create a 'continuing CofI' attracted no support amongst laity."

But why would you expect it to? Conservative evangelicals don't split over women's ordination, because they can just run their congregations with male clergy, and ignore the bishop. Evangelicals didn't split in the USA or Canada over WO, but they did eventually split. And in England evangelicals are starting to split, but not over WO even though they don't believe in it.

"As for the non-Reform evangelicals, 'moderate' is perhaps the wrong phrase to use. They are a majority, they are vibrant, they are growing parishes, and they support WO."

Well, if that is the case than those who disagree with Reform have nothing to worry about, do they? :o)

"While property rules in the CofI complicate matters, I would agree thay something akin to AMIE is likely - but it will be very much a minority stance amongst Irish evangelical Anglicans, clergy and laity."

I wouldn't doubt that it will start that way. Its still a minority stance in the USA also. But ACNA had added 300 congregations in the first four years of its existence, while TECUSA is shrinking.

Anyway, this is all theoretical at present.

BC said...

MichaelA, I am not sure it is theoretical at present - the Reform Ireland statement surely cannot be read as anything but a precursor to some form of separation.

Yes, of course my judgement about CofI laity may be wrong but as an Irish Anglican it is a judgement offered in good faith. The basis of the judgement is the fact that Reform is very much a minority organisation in the CofI in general and amongst evangelicals in particular.

As to CEs not leaving over WO, the Reform Ireland statement does somewhat beg the question as to why this should be. The 1990 GS approved WO to priesthood and episcopate. This, according to the statement, fundamentally disordered the CofI.

Reform, however, came into existence in Ireland after the GS decision, and after evangelicals overwhelmingly supported WO.

As to being worried - no, I am not. The CofI will continue to be enriched by a strong and vibrant majority evangelical tradition supportive of WO. I do, however, worry about the implications for mission of disunity, of a debate over WO when it has the expressed wish of the overwhelming majority in the CofI, and of the internal conflicts likely within CofI evangelicalism over a matter regarded by the vast majority of evangelicals as settled.

MichaelA said...

"... majority ... vast majority ... overwhelming majority..."

I get it!

As I say, I have heard exactly the same thing before, over many years, from "moderate evangelicals" in USA, Canada and England. A constant mantra that everything was going swimmingly.

Okay, let's wait and see what happens in Ireland - touch base again in a year or two? Given the "overwhelming support" amongst evangelicals, you shouldn't have a problem... ;o)

Anonymous said...

“I agree with the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father, and male headship, rightly understood.

The two problems I see with interpreting the subordination of the Son to the Father as a model of male-female relations is that it that the Son and the Father are not husband and wife. …
The other problem is that the Father is always 'Father' and never 'Mother' it does not follow that there is a direct correlation between the Father and male human beings.” Shawn

That is correct. Arguing from the Trinity to human conclusions only works for those things that one agrees with such as gender difference as a requirement for marriage.

Alison

Shawn Herles said...

I actually don't make that argument Alison. My opposition to changing Biblical marriage is not based on the relations between the Persons of the Trinity, nor on the claim only heterosexual marriage reflects the Divine image. My opposition is based solely on the fact that the only time God defines marriage, He defines it as one man and one women for life.

Thus, no inconsistency on my part.

Father Ron Smith said...

It is not strictly true - at least in the sphere of democratic government, such as we have in New Zealand - that 'only God defines marriage'. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Government defines marriage as the Union between two beople, whether heterosexual or Same-Sex partnerships.

This is also true in many other democratic countries of the world we live in. And that definition is absolutely legal.

Bryden Black said...

Three things might be important here Ron, in the way you set this matter up - or rather, try to set matters up.

1. The Beehive has its own agenda often in the world of ‘politics’. Viz. the actual poll numbers among voting adults who supported the Amendment of Marriage Bill - or rather did not support the amendment. The votes among MPs were not reflected at all by these poll numbers. In addition ...

2. As we see so clearly in Doug Farrow’s Touchstone article, you have quietly surrendered to the prevailing view that modern state law is preeminent in this matter. Why? When history is so utterly against such a view! See for example http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=25-01-024-f So that lastly ...

3. Once you surrender to state law in this area, what’s to stop positive law becoming supreme in all things?! And please don’t trumpet “democracy” at me! For what do you make of the old USSR’s cry of “democratic centralism”?

All in all, for those able to read the social script of our contemporary (political) culture, far more is going on here than you seem to have noticed, Ron. ‘Marriage’ might be now a “legal” issue, but this has a context. There has been in the society/politics interface in western countries a most important shift these past 50 years; Christians neglect this to their literal peril. And while there might be ‘opportunities’ opened up by this shift, there lurk real dangers as well. At least Doug Farrow has alerted his readership to some of these dynamics.

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden, just for the record, which 'poll' are you speaking of in your latest assertion? Was it an overall poll of the N.Z. population, or only a register of protesters against the Bill?

Anonymous said...

“My opposition to changing Biblical marriage … is based solely on the fact that the only time God defines marriage, He defines it as one man and one women for life.” Shawn

Shawn, is that "only time" the one where He immediately goes on to give an exception to that definition?

Alison

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Allison,

It is God giving the clarification, or exception. That's my point. In my opinion we should, as Christians, listen to what God says, and nowhere does God define marriage as anything other than heterosexual. Why He does so (for example the issue of gender difference) may be interesting to discuss, but irrelevant.

God defines marriage, and IMO only His definition is legitimate.

Ron,

The democratic State is irrelevant. In my opinion Christians obey God first in all things. The State is not God.

Father Ron Smith said...

Shawn, with all due respect re your last comment: What you may be confusing with "God's will" on - not only the marriage question, but many others related to gender and sexuality in the Bible - is what you personally have discerned as 'God's will': Which may be two different things for other people than you.

liturgy said...

Greetings

I would like to meta-reflect on the Shawn-Alison discussion. I think digging a little deeper may move us forward.

Shawn limits marriage to man-woman-life-except-for-adultery, calling this “Biblical Marriage”. It is clear that Anglicanism in NZ departs from Shawn’s Biblical Marriage (eg in “marrying” people who have “no-fault” divorce). How does Shawn react when bishop, archdeacon, vicar, spouse, or others with whom he worships, preside over a wedding that does not fit within his Biblical Marriage definition? And they do. How do those who accept such marriages and preside at them relate with “Biblical Marriage” holders such as Shawn?

I think within that may lie the way forward to how we live together with those who would extend exceptions differently than merely into no-fault divorce.

Yes, I again encountered this week, someone who changed from a strong, public supporter of the above “Biblical Marriage” position to openness to marrying gays – but I contend that such switching in either direction is and will continue to be rare.

More time for talk, talk, talk, study, study, study on marriage is not going to bear some magical new fruit, IMO. Better to work out how now to live together in disagreement. Anglicanism has some classic examples of that, and IMO the paradigm of Shawn living within a church that holds a different practice to his ideal, does also.

If I have misrepresented anything in Shawn’s position I am sorry – the point I am making is not dependent on the correlation with him.

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I wonder if I might encourage you to be more open to the value of talk (x lots) and study (x lots)?

Reflecting at least on my own experience of talk x study x lots, I believe it is helping me to better work out that we might be a church which would live with disagreement and may yet take me to the point of working out HOW we might live with disagreement!

Bryden Black said...

I sense Bosco that the sorts of difference people are prepared to live with have to do with how we try to justify at all those differences.

For example, I have repeatedly directed you to the Winchester Report of the CoE which deals with remarriage of divorced persons in church. Yet there has never been anything remotely like it (other than the St Michael Report, which actually does not come up with a definitive verdict, and so is perhaps not equivalent) with regards to same-gender issues.

Until such a time as there are genuinely commensurate degrees of equivalence regarding said “differences” I would suggest that calls for unity/staying together are all the weaker.

Shawn Herles said...

Hi Ron,

God defines marriage, not me. He does so at two of the most important places in Scripture, the first chapter of Genesis, and again in the Gospel, in which Jesus clearly affirms the teaching of Genesis. One man and one women. It is too clear to be misunderstood, or a matter of opinion. Thus it is not me who defines Biblical marriage, but God.

Hi Bosco.

The simple answer to your suggestion is that I don't accept no-fault divorce in the Church, or any other deviation from what God has said.

So I have no desire to just get along with difference. I work, pray and fast for God to bring correction to the Anglican Church on all matters in which it deviates from God's Word.

Thus, how to get along with or live with difference, is of no interest to me.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Thus, how to get along with or live with difference, is of no interest to me." - The GAFCON Credo?

liturgy said...

Greetings

Might I suggest that in the very denial of my point lies its deeper affirmation?

Bryden points to a way he has found to extend Jesus’ definition of marriage and its exception further (in theory, and may I presume for argument’s sake, in practice, in that in his long pastoral practice he has presided over the marriage of a divorcee whose divorce originates other than for adultery? If that presumption is incorrect, read Peter, or anyone else that fits that criterion).

Shawn does not find Bryden’s reasoning convincing, in fact has no desire to just get along with Bryden in his difference but works, prays and fasts for God to bring correction to Bryden on all matters in which he deviates from God's Word. Yet, while Shawn does so, might I posit that Shawn has actually received communion with Bryden, nay from Bryden’s presiding at a Eucharist at which Shawn communicates.

Fr A, Bishop B, Rev C, Mr D, Mrs E, etc have all found ways to extend Jesus’ definition of marriage and its exception further than Bryden (in theory, and may I presume for argument’s sake, in practice…) Might we not, using the paradigm of the previous paragraph, find it possible to not only receive communion together but even with any ordained presiding (quote your Articles and Montanism history here) all the while praying and fasting for God to bring correction to each one (and oneself) on all matters in which they deviate from God's Word?

Blessings

Bosco

mike greenslade said...

"Thus, how to get along with or live with difference, is of no interest to me." - The GAFCON Credo?

More likely the DGAF-CON credo...

Shawn Herles said...

No, Ron. It's MY credo. I may defend GAGCON from inaccurate and unfair attacks, but I only speak for myself.

Bosco,

Do not put words in my mouth that I did not use. I'm not interested in playing word games.

Being in communion with those I do not agree with, does not mean I accept error, or want to compound it by adding even more error.

Bryden Black said...

G'day Bosco - and please run that past me one more time [October 6, 2013 at 8:45 AM] and show how exactly it addresses my immediate question/point: October 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM. Thanks! (For currently I sense it simply evades it ...)

liturgy said...

Shawn, I think you are putting words in my mouth that I did not use. Nowhere did I suggest you accept error, or want to compound it by adding even more error.

Bryden, I did not see a point, and certainly can see no question October 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM that I was addressing.

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco // Shawn // Bryden

I think I can see why and how each of you have been making your most recent comments re comments involving each other. As moderator I am concerned that if we continue in this vein I am going to have to work harder than I wish to ensure that all is fair in love and blog comments :)

Thus I direct you to what I consider to be the essential point Bosco is making, for your further consideration, if you wish to go further in this discussion. Namely,

on certain matters we Anglicans appear to be able to go further than Jesus himself did, thus might we be able to do so on other matters?

on certain matters of disagreement among ourselves we nevertheless seem to be able to continue to receive communion from one another, thus might we on other matters of disagreement also be able to continue to receive communion from one another?