Wednesday, June 4, 2014

We really, really, really are a church of Two Integrities

Last night I drew attention to a post by Bishop Kelvin Wright and a riproaringly robust conversation in the comments. That conversation is a representation in miniature of the state of our church.Other conversations I have been part of since GS/HW's Motion 30 support the observation that we are a church of Two Integrities on the matter of blessing of same sex relationships.

Note carefully what I am not saying.

I am not saying that a state of Two Integrities exists on the matter of whether marriage should be changed in definition to incorporate gay marriage (something Motion 30 specifically refused to endorse instead endorsing our current doctrine of marriage).

Nor am I saying that we are Two Integrities on matters such as premarital sex or blessing heterosexual relationships which are not marriages. On those two kinds of matters we may or may not prove to be in two minds, but they are not widely featuring in discussions I am reading or am a part of, and they were not commented on in Motion 30.

But when it comes to the blessing of same sex relationships, we are Two Integrities (at least as a de facto description of our life together ... Motion 30 opens the way for us to become a de jure church of Two Integrities ... "process and structure" being the operative phrase for us all to work on).

That is, we are a church in which faithful Anglicans who value being and wish to remain Anglican and who hold to an intelligent understanding of what it means to be Anglican (which, of course, means a variety of understandings as no one understanding prevails in our church) espouse different views on such blessings.

While there are nuances to be teased out in any fuller description of each Integrity, briefly,
- one Integrity works from a viewpoint which understands any sexual activity outside marriage between a man and a woman to be sin and therefore impossible for the church to claim that God blesses a relationship in which such sin continues;
- the other Integrity works from a viewpoint which questions whether such a definition of sin continues to apply in a world which understands homosexuality differently to former times and now makes marriage-like relationships possible through cultural and legal change.

Both Integrities can and do claim a sound theological basis for their respective claims.

Each Integrity argues that the other's claim to soundness is flawed!

Neither Integrity can claim to be a perfect match with other descriptions of groupings within our church: there are conservatives on most other matters of theological interest who wish to see our church be open to blessings; there are theological moderates who lean towards one Integrity and moderates who lean towards the other. Those with an open, liberal mind on theological issues (in my experience) tend to support the Integrity wishing to bless, but divide on whether the next step towards changing the definition of marriage should be taken.

Of course there are many Anglicans still making up their minds, or wishing the subject would go away, or even not thinking about these things.

At stake, as has been pointed out here, are the Fundamentals of our constitution, as well as our care for one another as human beings created in the image of God and redeemed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

With a few exceptions, I see Maori, Pakeha and Polynesian Anglicans in an Anglican church they have no wish to leave and a fervent wish that it be a church which accommodates their views.

Somehow!

18 comments:

Glen Young said...

Interesting read and shall we continue the rip roaring discussion.
It would seem to us that the idea of both sides of Motion 30 have integrity, breaches the principle of mutual exclusion. The Doctrine of our Church is defined in the Constitution - Fundamental Prov. 1 as being "the Doctrine and sacraments of Christ as the Lord hath commanded in His Holy Word and as the Church hath received and explained the same in the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinals and the 39 Articles, and Gen. Synod must hold and maintain that Doctrine and shall have no power to make any alteration .....,or in the abovenamed Formularies of the Church.
Philosophically, 2x2 = 4 and 2x2 = 5 cannot both have integrity at the same time.If they can perhaps we don't need an education system.

The 18th Homily of the 35th Article starts "The Word of Mighty God doth testify and declare, whence the original beginning of matrimony cometh, and why it is ordained. It is instituted of God, to the intent that man and woman shall lie lawfully, in a perpetual friendship to bring forth fruit and to avoid fornicaiton."

That is the Constitutional Doctrine of our Church on marriage.

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Gail, but what if the working group works on the analogy of the nature of light, consisting of both photons and waves?

Father Ron Smith said...

It really is confusing when, trying to place a comment, it seems suddenly to have been withdrawn - by God of human agency I don't know!!!

Father Ron Smith said...

Glen needs to understand that independent Churches - such as ACANZP - have powers to change their extant Constitutions - with the agreement of the local General Synod.

The Church of England no longer has control over what we, in Aotearoa/new Zealand and Polynesia, may decide to introduce into our Constitution - as measures that seem right and good for us in our own context of ministry. For instance, when ACANZP decided to go ahead with the Ordination of Women - both as clergy and bishops, we altered our Constitution to suit our needs.

No doubt, our Church will still elect to exercise its own statutory initiatives that promulgate the perceived need to bring justice and enlightenment into the polity of our Church.

This happened with slavery, scriptural injunctions against the consumption of certain foods, the wearing of mixed material clothes,the subjugation of women, etc., all of which have been perceived as no longer serving God's purpose in the world. It's called 'semper reformanda'.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
As a matter of legal fact there are aspects of our constitution which cannot be changed unless the Church of England Empowering Act 1928 is changed (and some dispute that claim and say there are things which can never be changed).

Father Ron Smith said...

I see you've just posted a new item on the C. of e. Empowering Act, Peter. One question, does it have legal sway over ACANZP actions? If so, it does seem a little bit out-of-date and quite unsuitable for today's era of separate government.

Another question. Did our ordination of women not involve, then, a change in ACANZP's Constitution?

Also, there was the matter of the 3-Tikanga change. Did that manage to get through without a change in the constitution?

If so, it seems that we would not have to change our Constitution for anything we seek to do on our own initiative.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
When time I hope to explore the Act.
We can and have changed the constitution in various ways, including the significant change from a one Tikanga structure to a three Tikanga structure.
But reading our constitution we carefully did not change the Fundamentals which remain as they were in the first constitution.
The question Glen Young and others are raising is whether blessing of same sex relationships goes against the Fundamentals or not.

If it does go against the Fundamentals then my question of the Act is whether it signals a way forward for changing the Fundamentals or not.

Father Ron Smith said...

A very interesting point you are making here, Peter. If we can bless animals on St. francis day, and battleships at any time; why not monogamous S/S/ Relationships?

Glen Young said...

The Anglican Church ANZP has a Constitution which consists of a Preamble,Parts A,B,C,D,F and G. Part A contains 6 Fundamental Clauses.The first Fundamental Provision dines the Doctrine and states that Gen.Synod shall HOLD and MAINTAIN that Doctrine. Clauses 2,3 and 4 were redefined in The Church of England Empowering Act 1928.Clause 5 deals with Gen Synod and Clauus6 reads:The above Provision shall be deemed FUNDAMENTAL,and it shall not be within the power of the Gen.Synod or of any Dio.Synod toalter,revoke,add to or diminish any of the same.By following certain processes,as laid in the Act,Gen.Synod can alter other Parts of the Constitution.The Act Sec 3; which contains those enabling powers concludes with the statment:[ Provided that the provisions of this section shall not empower or be deemed to empower the General Synod to depart from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as definded in Clause 1 of the Constitution.I do indeed understand that the Church in England does not govern the Church in N.Z. But I also understand that the Doctrine of our Church is the Sriptures as this Church has received and explained the same in the B.O.C.P.,The Ordinals and the Thirty Nine Articles of Faith.Private exegesis of the Scriptures are neither here nor there unless they are validated by the Formularies.

Peter Carrell said...

If the blessings are not formularies then their existence may not raise questions about the Fundamentals!

Glen Young said...

Article 20 gives Gen Synod the power to write new or add to rites and ceremonies provided they adhere to the required process.[And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any that is to God's Word written.]This is why the liberals have tried make such a blessing fit into the Scriptures.However,they the run into the problem of lining their exegesis up with the Formularies and fail dismally.The greatest hurdle being the 18th Homily of the 35th Article.The C.O.E.E.Act sec 7 reads:[Nothing in this Act contained shall annul,limit or abridge the inherent power of the High Court to prohibit anything purporting to be done under this Act the ground that it is not a bona fide exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.]It does not seem to me same-gender blessings fit in here.

Father Ron Smith said...

"This is why the liberals have tried make such a blessing fit into the Scriptures.However,they the run into the problem of lining their exegesis up with the Formularies and fail dismally." - Glen Young -

This is, of course, just YOUR opinion. There are other opinions to be considered - thankfully, those of the members of our General Synod, who seem to be embracing the liberality of Christ in The Gospel.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Might I suggest you are more wrong at this point and Glen Young is more right?

I suggest this because General Synod itself in the wording of Motion 30 and its preamble recognised that there may be considerable constitutional and legal hurdles to surmount in order to proceed to formal blessings. Your response here does not appear to take account of General Synod's own recognition that significant challenges await the working group as they move forward from the motion.

Father Ron Smith said...

I can't see, Peter, how the opinion of Glen Young can be considered any more 'right' than the opinion of our General Synod - in the general setting of this conversation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not suggesting that Glen is more right than GS at this point in proceedings!

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter and Ron,The point I am trying to stress is that the Doctrine of the Church is:[The Scriptures as recieved and explained in the Formularies including the 39 Articles.In 1928 the N.Z. parliament reinforced that Doctrine in the First Schedule of the Act.It is my opinion that anybodies personal exegesis of the Scriptures,or indeed ,even that of all of Gen. Synod;are of any relevance if they not conform with the 39 Articles.The Chuch and Her Doctrine belong to Christ and not to man.The Scriptures make it Quite clear that we may not add to or take away from the Revelation,once given.If we want a democratic Church wherew the majority opinion holds wins the day;then I think we have the wrong Church.

Glen Young said...

Apologies Peter,I left the word [Constitution] off the end of my last posting.Could you please add it.

Father Ron Smith said...

".It is my opinion that anybodies personal exegesis of the Scriptures,or indeed ,even that of all of Gen. Synod;are of any relevance if they not conform with the 39 Articles.The Church and Her Doctrine belong to Christ and not to man" - Glen Young -

Unless Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists and Calathumpians are all bound by the '39 Artifacts' you can hardly claim they are part and parcel of the 'Doctrine of Christ'

Christian Doctrine is not confined to the Church of England, nor to any formularies connected thereto. Not even to those of ACANZP.