Am a bit pressed for time at moment re December madness.
Part of that madness is no time to read the whole of Pilling. But thanks be to God for others having time. Here is a great focus on pastoral accommodation via Oliver O'Donovan.
Might I commend a searching post from Steve Bell on grace in the face of evil madness, here.
A different kind of madness, good madness, is cricket joy. NZ doing well against the West Indies. Adelaide Ashes test about to start. Here is a pic, courtesy of Jonathan Agnew (here) of the pitch.
What a belter! Even I could score runs on that :)
Head to Living Out for a great site, much longed for in the conservative evangelical wing of the Anglican church, of people speaking out about their same-sex attraction.
The Bishop of Birkenhead's dissenting statement is worth reading. Here is the first paragraph (i.e. para 415 of the whole document).
"A Dissenting Statement by the Bishop of Birkenhead
415. It is with much regret that I have concluded that I cannot sign
the report of the House of Bishops’ Working Group on Human
Sexuality (‘the Report’). I offer this dissenting statement to set out
another vision and explain why. Those who have been part of the
Working Group on Human Sexuality have gone out of their way to
listen to my views. They have sought to produce a report that, in their
view, goes as far as possible to meet those concerns. I am supportive of
many of the Report’s recommendations and share many of the concerns
driving the Report as we wrestle with being faithful to Christ in our
changing culture. For the sake of the peace and unity of the Church
I would have loved to have put my name to a unanimous report. I
have no desire to see issues of human sexuality distracting us from
proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. However,
after much prayer and soul searching, I have concluded I cannot sign."
The remainder of his statement can be accessed here (look for paragraph 416 on page 119 and keep reading until paragraph 489). Further, a paper of Bishop Sinclair is included as Appendix 3.
In my own quick read I note this:
"459. On theology the Report summarizes the presentations to the
Group made by Fr Timothy Radcliffe and Professor Oliver O’Donovan
(Paragraphs 254–278 and 313–315). It emphasizes that they warn us to
take seriously the things that we do not know and to avoid closing
down the debate about sexual ethics prematurely. But remaining open
to debate is not the same thing as claiming that the Church no longer
has a basis for what it has taught until now. " Precisely!
I am thrilled that the Pilling Report, which apparently bears imprints of a Down Under invisible hand, has generated a very good conversation in the comments below the previous post.
One of the issues highlighted by the process of reception of the report is what is the right path a divided church takes on a difficult issue.
For example, picking up from one comment, should the weight of content for such a matter be on the side of doctrine rather than practice (including the action of holding the church together)?
To take another matter, does the Pilling Report represent the beginning of the end of the Church of England? That is, when the various 'hedging your bets' and 'buying a bit more time' bits of the report are taken away, is the long-term impact of the report a compass steer to some kind of pure liberalism, of the kind which essentially finishes a church off because it is indistinguishable from 21st century Western secular social democracy?
Then there is the endlessly interesting historical perspective on such a report: if only in 19XX (or even 17XX or if Bloody Mary had never ascended to the throne halting the inexorable destination of the reforms) the church [or, Evangelicals] had not decided to take [a certain progressive and/or compromising step] then we would never be in this confounded situation.
But we are in this confounded situation. And we are in it for a very good reason: our predecessors were neither more nor less gifted in decision-making than we are. In their lights they made the best of their confounded situation. As for historical circumstances beyond influence of decision-making, e.g. Queen Mary. There is no point in 'if only'. No one knows what a confounded mess an alternative situation would have produced! If Edward VI had lived he might have turned on his Protestant advisors ... or turned out to be a playboy like some of his namesake successors :)
Now one interesting aspect of the present moment is that it is difficult to find a 'liberal' chorus for the Pilling Report singing a congratulatory anthem. If we go to Changing Attitude we find a very disappointed lament for the Report being chanted. Here is a summary of the lament from this CA 'initial response':
"This report does not herald radical change and does not therefore fulfil the expectations of Changing Attitude. There are no practical proposals which will begin to dismantle the present culture of secrecy, denial of reality, suppression of identity and the maintenance of unhealthy attitudes. The group has met people and listened and the unhealthy attitudes remain unchanged as the report demonstrates."
Is the C of E going to a liberal hell down a slippery slope on a handcart without brakes? Not according to Changing Attitude!
For me the Pilling Report ticks two important boxes in terms of an Anglican church responding to the present situation which (arguably) is without precedent in the history of the church.
Box One: No change to doctrine of marriage expressed through marriage liturgies.
Box Two: offering pastoral accommodation in a context where opposition to traditional doctrine is not going away, steadfastly remains open and vocal, and continues to tug on the heart strings of the undecided middle (and, taking up a comment below the freshly minted minds of younger generations).
I suggest a question to ask of the Report is whether it is both reasonable and responsible in the context of a divided church in a changing society?
The opposition of Changing Attitude to the report alerts me (at least) to the possibility that the report answers that question with more than a pass mark.
From a Down Under perspective the more work done well by others in the Communion the less we have to do here!
Coda: There is something I feel strongly about re some comments to the previous post. Evangelicalism is itself divided on such matters. But where does responsibility for that division lie? One implication in the comments is that the responsibility lies with open/moderate evangelicals such as organisations like Fulcrum and individuals such as, well, myself. When we could have been united, certain people/groups stepped out of line! But is this a fair analysis of the situation? Isn't there a question of why Fulcrum was formed and why evangelicals such as myself cannot go all the way down a certain conservative line (or set of lines)?
To give one answer, I suggest some conservative evangelical thinking is 'too conservative' to simply go along with it and not vocalise reservations. To give one example, and intentionally steering away from certain 'hot button' issues, there is a line of conservative evangelical theology which is deeply suspicious, if not downright antagonistic to charismatic theology and experience which supports exercising of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, and giving words of knowledge. I cannot go along with that and if I were travelling close to that path I could not be silent if suspicion/let alone antagonism was being preached from the pulpit and taught from the conference platform.
In other words, could we who happily wear the label (libel?) 'evangelical' be kind to one another? Within our community of faith, we have differences, some of which give rise to named groupings. Is there much to be gained from lamenting genuine differences among us, or from one group blaming another group for a currently difficult 'fissiparous' situation?