Thursday, June 25, 2015

Change is coming and it won't be long

I am calling Cardinal Kasper the patron saint of persistent prelates.

Last year he figured as point man for the push within the Roman church for change to rules regarding communion and remarried divorcees.

There was a push back, but it looks like the Kasper shove is coming back into the maul, and steering it towards the try line. The Tablet reports here. (Note this report also)

Oh, I know, those who doubt the maul will head in that direction will be vocal. "The church is bound by ... this and that."

But that could be to underestimate the current Pope. He is a realist, not an idealist. He knows that the church (all churches, he understands Protestants and Pentecostals pretty well) in the West is in trouble. On certain matters it is becoming too much like the Pharisees (i.e. emphasising the rules) and less like Jesus (i.e. emphasising mercy). Only the Jesus shaped church has a chance of winning back the West.

He has not taken the name Francis for nothing.

And this means something for Anglicans. We may be responding to cultural change with - take your pick - greater urgency, less regard for tradition, etc, but perhaps we are going to be more in tune with Rome than looked the case when (e.g.) the Ordinariate began.

And there is a challenge for Anglicans. Rome changes with a significant regard for unity. We Anglicans do not always have that regard.

Though currently - amidst a round of Motion 30 workshops in the Christchurch Diocese - I am impressed by our local commitment to finding a way forward to stay together.

46 comments:

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

I have recently started attending an Anglican church, and learned of motion 30. I attended the workshop in Christchurch this week and also noted the call for unity, and the respect shown by all sides of this debate.

As a relative new comer, it seems to me that well intentioned Anglicans have sought to promote our pastoral response to those in same sex relationships at the expense of the Scriptures, when in fact both elements need to be respected.

Scripture is unambiguous about homosexual practice. It would take a good deal of intellectual gymnastics to pretend otherwise. At the same time, we are called to love, show compassion and be people of grace and mercy. The challenge for us therefore, is what does a Christian pastoral response look like to those in same sex relationships?

If we are to honour Scripture then it his highly improbable that affirming sexual relationships that God has condemned, regardless of how loving and enduring they may be, is the way forward.

A good deal has been written on this subject, and this is not the place to rehearse the arguments, except that when it comes to maintaining Christian unity on this matter, I’m reminded of the prophet Amos who said:

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
(Amos 3:3)

We can agree to disagree on infant baptism, the salary of Bishops, and a myriad of other matters theological and incidental, but when it comes to redefining what it means to be fully human within a Biblical construct, I’m doubtful that unity is possible or even desirable.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
(Yes, I remember you asking a question at the workshop!)
In the end there is a significant question of whether this is or is not a matter on which we can agree to disagree.
I appreciate that there are those who say "it should be possible" (because, e.g. we are agreed to disagree on a variety of other matters) and I also appreciate that there are those who say "it is not possible" (because, e.g. this is different kind of matter to the other matters on which we are agreed to disagree).
As for "intellectual gymnastics", in the weird and wonderful world of Anglican blogging, there are some very nimble and athletic logicians. We must judge whether they are gymnasts or not!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thank you for your response. I noted at the outset of the meeting on Tuesday evening regarding motion 30, you began with a considered declaration of your biases. These included from memory, and somewhat uncontroversially, a bias towards unity and civility.

I also note on your blog that you have a bias towards taking a ‘centrist line’ which I interpret as a desire not to be seen supporting one view or another in any controversy.

Like yourself, I believe the declaration of bias, or presuppositions are important as it saves everyone a lot of time and emotional energy, especially when it comes to matters of faith and practice.

I note that you are the Director of Theology House and of Education for the Diocese of Christchurch. It occurs to me therefore that with your theological background and present leadership roles, it is highly improbable that you are without a personal perspective or bias if you prefer, with respect to motion 30.

In fact, one could imagine that in your position of theological leadership, the local Diocese could look to you for an exposition on this topic, even if it were framed simply as ‘a declaration of personal bias’ as you did on Tuesday evening.

I haven’t trawled through your blog, but can you please provide me with a link either on this site or another, where you present your considered position on the appropriateness of blessing of same sex relationships?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
My 'centrist' line is sometimes centrist between conservative alternatives!
Few Anglicans who have followed my writings over the years (not only here, but also in our national church magazine, Taonga) would be in doubt that my own views fall on the conservative side of the centre.

I don't see it as my role in the Diocese at this time to provide exposition to one side or the other in a strongly 'advocating' role. My role, as per the other night, is to offer ways - if possible - of understanding what 'the other' is saying.

I cannot recall a particular presentation of my considered position on the appropriateness of blessing of same sex relationships. Here I offer these brief thoughts:
- what is the church authorised by God to bless? I have considerable objection to blessing battleships and considered doubts about our authority to bless same gender relationships.
- I do understand that same gender relationships are not all about sex - a point noted the other night by one of the panelists - and I have sympathy for the view that a Christian might pray for and even give thanks for a relationship marked by love, commitment and intention to be faithful to one another. I offer this thought especially for those Christians who wonder whether they should or should not attend a ceremony for a civil union or marriage between two people of the same gender.
- I acknowledge that Christians do not always agree with each other, for principled reasons, on these sensitive matters. For instance, taking a slightly different issue in human sexuality, I agree to disagree with those Christians (e.g. in the Roman Catholic church) who believe that remarriage after divorce is not possible according to canon law and I disagree even more with those who would refuse communion to (repentant) divorcees who have remarried. Thus I acknowledge that my own doubts about the validity of the church blessing same gender relationships are matched by conviction on the part of others that the church may bless such relationships.

Kurt said...

I'm happy to break the news to folks down under. From the BBC:

"The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States.

"It means the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage will no longer be able to enforce them.

"Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the plaintiffs asked "for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
It is unclear how soon marriage licences will be issued in states where gay unions were previously prohibited.

"The ruling, which sparked celebrations outside the court in Washington DC, brings to an end more than a decade of bitter legal battles.

"President Barack Obama said the ruling was a "victory for America".
"When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free " he said.

"However, Christian conservatives decried the decision.
'We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat,' said Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor."

Again, the Con-Evos come across as standing against history. The full BBC report can be seen here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33290341

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thank you again for your thoughtful reply. Perhaps we are both too old to be gymnasts. On a somewhat lighter note, I was surprised to learn that some Anglican homosexual couples remain chaste, I thought it was just Baptists that didn’t have sex?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
Yes, the decision has been made, but does the 5-4 vote really tell us that con-evos are on the wrong side of history?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan,
It is not ADU's policy to speculate on the lives of Baptists!

Kurt said...

“Yes, the decision has been made, but does the 5-4 vote really tell us that con-evos are on the wrong side of history?”—Fr. Carrell

Well, Peter, I certainly think the Con-Evos in America are on the wrong side of history. I’m sure that the Supreme Court decision won’t have much influence on those who organized the splits from TEC over “the issue.” Remember, though, many of the same people also opposed women clergy, opposed a revised prayer book, opposed American withdrawal from Vietnam, opposed the Civil Rights Movement, opposed Social Security, etc. Most are my age—or even decades older –and they won’t be around forever. I think that a large number of Con-Evo children will abandon these Continuing Anglican denominations when they leave the nest—including discarding ACNA. Whether they will join TEC, ELCA, or other mainline, liberal denominations remains to be seen. They may simply say: “To hell with all of you bigoted, hateful and superstitious people. I can live a Christian life on my own much better without you.” Perhaps they will give up on Christianity altogether (which I think is the most likely possibility.) We will see what they do.

Kurt Hill
Celebrating a Gay Rights victory
In Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
May we both live long enough to get a clearer sense of the "arc of history".

Anonymous said...

If those who do not see the scriptures' "unambiguous" condemnation of homosexual practice used words like "pretend" in relation to conservative arguments, in the past they would have received a moderator's strong warning. That Peter does not bother to so warn Brendan reinforces his own point that this is a conservative space, and why no one has even bothered any more to demonstrate the nonsense of Brendan's contention. The church and the world are moving on when it comes to evolution, contraception, divorce and remarriage, women in leadership, slavery, apartheid, interest on loans, and so forth. If some Christians want to continue to live in a horse-and-buggy world claiming scripture is unambiguous about their position, we who live in the 21st century may just let them stay there, not bothering to try and debate with them any longer.

Mike

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mike
Running the obvious risk of sounding pathetically self-defensive, I do not think it true at all that my moderator's eye would have picked up "pretend" if Brendan's argument had gone the other way. I am not that good a moderator ...!

Your argument is attractive but it has weaknesses. One of them is that it lumps different issues together and implies the lumping of antagonists/protagonists together: were all conservatives against apartheid in the 60s to 80s also against the ordination of women?

In a society breaking down in respect of family matters, it is early days to work out what the "horse-and-buggy" world is regarding, say, divorce and remarriage.

I notice your list does not include abortion (unless it is part of the "so forth"): is it not true that this is a "horse and buggy" world issue for many outside the church but inside the church there are many who think Scripture is "unambiguously" against abortion?

Finally, a question to consider: if a few years from now pressure rises in society for polygamy to be legalised, is Scripture "unambiguous" on this matter or not?

tachesterton said...

I'm always cautious about the much-abused phrase 'the wrong side of history'. None of us knows which way history is going.

Forty years ago I was confidently told that by the time I got to the age of fifty machines would be doing most of my work and my biggest problem would be how to spend my leisure time. Guess what? The bosses figured out that we can now be more productive, and I'm busier than I ever was.

When the Berlin wall came down, we all thought the world was going to be a safer and less fearful place. Boy, were we wrong.

A generation ago, historians and culture-watchers confidently predicated that the influence of religion around the world was on the wane. Tell it not in Tehran, folks.

To confidently predict that someone is 'on the wrong side of history' seems incredibly arrogant to me. Unless you're in possession of a Tardis. It's also terribly motivation for Christians. Can't history be wrong? Shouldn't we rather be asking what the will of God is?

Tim Chesterton
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Anonymous said...

Hello, Peter, I was rather hoping that Cardinal Kasper would start enjoying his retirement a bit more; some people really do go beyond the call of duty. As to where Rome will go, Cardinal Kasper has probably blotted his copy book after his comments at the October synod about African bishops. The other Germans (do they ever learn?)have irritated many with their Shadow Synod and the Poles are flying the flag of JP2. On a quick count (though the Pope can appoint more members) the Synod looks more conservative than liberal. Now that Cardinal Pell can prove that he was in Oxford when he was alleged to have been in Australia, he might end up restored. I personally hope so. The unknown, as you indicate, is the Pope. He did not exactly show leadership in October and he seems to like his underlings fighting it out. It's all a bit too chaotic for the true Church, in my view. If the Pope does give a view, I suspect Fr Lombardi will have a busy time explaining what the Pope meant.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Peter, you cannot pretend to be for the unity of the church in this matter and yet let slide someone's obviously false contention that those who differ from your position oppose something in which the Bible is unambiguous. You know perfectly well the raft of biblical scholarship which you could acknowledge to Brendan, much of it mentioned previously on this site.

Your contention that all conservatives against apartheid in the 60s to 80s need also have been against the ordination of women for my point not to be weakened is clearly a spurious distraction.

As to the Scriptures' approach to polygamy, I see them as varying, and certainly not unambiguous. Unless you now want to argue that they are unambiguous about this, that rather undermines the position of an unambiguous approach to marriage from Genesis to Revelation.

Mike

Jean said...



There is also the social justice issue of nuclear power and weapons. The church in general was quite supportive of that social issue in NZ and we became 'nuclear free' , but of course it's not a particular trend towards peace and safety that has taken off in all Western countries : ) . Although we did annoy a few, the French bombed us and the US refused to participate in military exercises! - both have since apologised or recinded. But we haven't exactly been trend setters.

The two points: might is not always right whether it be in respect to number of suppporters of a cause or use of force; every issue or moral/ethical dilemma needs to be considered in its own right and in a christian setting in the 'light' of scripture and in the sight of God not man.

As for Catholics and the marriage and communion issue well each church wrestles with different issues at different times lets just pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ that Gods will be done in respect to doctrine. Confession to Nick, not being a baptised Catholic I once went to a Catholic Church and took communion on the basis of it was Jesus who commended it in "do this to remember me", and "If God is for you who can be against you? : ) I decided to risk it. Ever since I have been sneaking in incognito into services.... joking.

Peter Carrell said...

HI Mike
It is not part of my role to argue against each and every proposition asserted in comments which I either find objectionable or others might find objectionable.

The unity I work for in the church is unity in a church where some people hold the view "Scripture is unambiguous about homosexual practice. It would take a good deal of intellectual gymnastics to pretend otherwise." At the meeting Brendan was at it was clear from the presentation I made that while some hold that view, others hold the view that Scripture is not unambiguous about homosexual practice. So, in the particular case of Brendan's comment, I see no need to go over that ground again with him. It is clear (to me, at least) that those who share Brendan's view are not persuaded that Scripture is ambiguous on homosexuality.

We could also observe here that there is a difference between those favouring same gender marriage and do so agreeing that the Bible is unambiguously against homosexuality and those favouring same gender marriage who think the Bible is ambiguous on homosexuality.

With reference to polygamy, as a matter of fact I think that by the time we get to Revelation in the Bible, Scripture is unambiguous about polygamy: it has no place in Christian practice.

Anonymous said...

Good points in your approach, thanks Peter.

In relation to polygamy I understood you to be asking whether scripture was unambiguous should the State seek to change its approach - not whether Christians can be polygamous, which I see as quite a different question, but your acceptance that the approach of the scriptures varies, and this acknowledgement, not only bears on the present discussion, but much wider also.

Mike

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Mike has a point about the word "pretend" - it is not fair to use that word of fellow Christians seeking to advance a case with conviction and commitment to finding a way forward for acceptance of gays and lesbians in our church.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean, your Anglican baptism is not actually a problem, because non-Catholic Trinitarian baptisms are recognised by Rome as valid. The issue is the sacrament of Holy Communion. No Christians, whether Catholic or otherwise can be admitted to Holy Communion without receiving the sacramental preparation (usually taught) and even then the sacrament is reserved for those in a state of grace (ie forgiven from mortal sin). Of course, practice is a different issue.

Nick

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

All of us in the Church are sinners in need of a Saviour, gays and lesbians, heterosexuals and eunuchs included. Scripture outlines some practices that disqualify us from participating in the plan and purposes of God. Homosexuality just happens to be one of many listed in 1Cor:6:9-10. Note in verse 11, Paul states using past tense, “and that is what some of you were”.

Therefore, an appropriate response for those of us who once participated in any of those transgressions is repentance from them, not celebration of them.

All Biblically endorsed sexual expression is contained within the framework of heterosexual relationships. Therefore, homosexuality is not only explicitly condemned by Scripture, but also implicitly condemned.

Starting in Genesis, the only ‘one flesh’ relationship endorsed by God is between man and wife, Gen 2:24. He purposed through this union to fulfill his ‘creation mandate’, that is to be fruitful, increase in number and fill the earth, Gen 1:28. Homosexuals not only transgress God’s explicit instruction regarding the nature of one flesh unions, but disqualify themselves from participating in God’s plan and purposes expressed in his creation mandate.

Similarly, in Gen 12:1 onwards, God forms what we refer to as the ‘Abrahamic Convenient’ where he states that through Abraham’s offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed. Once again, homosexuals disqualify themselves from participating in the intergenerational blessing of nations that God purposed through this Convenient.

Imagine for a moment, if when Abraham’s servant returned with Rebecca, Isaac had turned to Abraham and said ‘actually dad, there is something I have been meaning to tell you.’

There are practices that exclude us from the plans and purposes of God and homosexuality just happens to be one of many that Scripture narrates from Genesis to Revelation.

Before someone says, well what about those heterosexuals who choose celibacy, Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 that some choose to live like eunuchs ‘for the sake of the Kingdom’. (note: he didn’t say that some choose to live as homosexuals for the sake of the Kingdom.)

It seems to me that the challenge is not for those of us who take an orthodox view of Scripture to defend this position, albeit that is what I am doing, but rather for those Christians who endorse same sex relationships to convince the rest of us that they are not simply seeking to write the norms of popular culture back into the Biblical narrative.

Anonymous said...

And therein lies the problem, Brendan. Despite the careful and erudite work of people like Tobias Heller (and I accept that there are plenty of others who write just as coherently and persuasively), I (for example)simply don't buy it and I do not doubt that I am in the majority view worldwide. I first read the arguments around 30 years ago and they are no more convincing now than they were then. They have been rehearsed on this site by international authorities in both camps. There will be no agreement; hence the question, what does the Church do. I am not an Anglican, so I will answer the question in my own patch.

Nick

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Nick

In the light of profound difference, what does the Church do?

Hopefully we continue to treat each other as fellow human beings, with love, respect and mutual understanding. Hopefully we can agree that when it comes to the expression of our Christian faith, Scripture is authoritave in all matters pertaining to faith and practice. Hopefully we can engage in the question of same sex attraction from a pastoral perspective, in the light of Scripture, the grace of God and the example of those who have gone before.

We have seen that culture trumps politics; the question for the Church is does culture trump 2,000 years of Biblical orthodoxy?

You claim to hold the majority view and even if that were true, is our faith simply a product of democratic process?

This question goes to the core of our being, and cannot be nuanced away by an extended political process. I am hopeful that over time as we are exposed to both sides of this debate, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.

Jean said...

Hi Nick

Thanks for the input. I had only been given the brief 'you can't receive communion in a Catholic Church unless you are a Catholic' whisper. If I am correct then it relates more to the difffering views of the teaching of the sacramental act of communion between churches - the Catholic belief of the wine and bread being the literal body, and blood of Christ and the protestant view of them being metaphorical representations of the body and blood of Christ? And the mortal sin part is interesting - so that is the big problem with divorcees receiving communion if divorce is seen as a mortal sin.

Have a good day,

Anonymous said...

What is particularly exasperating, Brendan, is that you have no sooner claimed that Scripture is unambiguous about homosexual practice and that It would take a good deal of intellectual gymnastics to pretend otherwise, than you proceed to demonstrate the complete falseness of your assertion by claiming homosexuality to be listed in 1Cor:6:9-10. A few minutes researching should have helped you to discover that your assertion is in no way unambiguously in the inspired original.

Mike

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Mike,

For the sake of context and brevity, I quoted one of six commonly referenced texts that explicitly condemn homosexuality. Yes, the word ‘homosexuals’ is a ‘modern’ word, but theologians with a better grasp of Greek than myself were responsible for choosing the word as the best fit to use in modern translations.

Other translations suggest, the text could mean “abusers of themselves with mankind” In the Greek, it is “arsenokoites,” “arsen” meaning “male,” and “koites” meaning “bed,” generally with a sexual connotation.

As to whether my choice of that reference in the overall context of my dialogue ‘demonstrates the complete falseness of my assertion’ regarding the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, others can be the judge.

I appreciate this is an emotive issue, and we are all keen to understand the truth of the matter. If the examination of the original Greek text allows for greater insight then I’m very much in favour of presenting it.

The primary purpose of my particular post to which you refer was to point out the implicit condemnation of homosexuality contained within the first few chapters of Genesis. It does not rely upon any of the six commonly referenced explicit texts including 1Cor 6:10.

Do you have any insights to share regarding that thesis?

Anonymous said...

Hi Brendan, if you haven't seen them already, you might want to look at Peter's quick survey of the biblical texts in the blog archive under February 25th 2015. I find Leviticus 18:22 particularly salutary, despite the shellfish objections which, to my mind (and not wanting to mix metaphors) are red herrings. I do not accept that the pro same-sex arguments, if so meritorious, would have been missed by all the Church fathers, every Saint, every Pope, every Patriarch and almost every Archbishop of Canterbury. Although it is my view only, I think that there is a time to stop the excruciatingly endless dialogue and make a decision. So, when you ask what the Church should do, I think it should affirm 1000 years of unambiguous tradition. I don't see much need to seek the Holy Spirit; He has already spoken. I agree with you that the Church is not a democracy, nor should it, in my view, be obsessed with putative sexual rights unknown to the Bible.

Nick

tachesterton said...

Brendan: Scripture also unambiguously condemns lending money at interest. How's your pension fund? Any bankers in your church?

Tim Chesterton
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Tim

There is a well established theology regarding the present day applicability of Levitical Laws including consumption of shell fish, the gathering of sticks, lending at interest, homosexual practice and loving your neighbour as yourself. Some are repeated and thereby reinforced in the New Testament, while others simply find their fulfillment in Christ ‘who is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe’. Rom10:4

Hi Nick

Thank you for the reference regarding Peter’s post, I will look it up. I’m new to the debate in the Anglican Church, but I cannot help but think your observations regarding the failure of the Patriarch’s to discover these sexual rights over the last 1,000 years of church history is apt.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick:

Observation (1): despite the steadiness of the patriarchs re homosexuality, there has been an interesting divergence between two churches deeply rooted in patristic theology, between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman churches re divorce/remarriage.

Observation (2): on making decisions. Vatican 2 made some decisions ... and the next forty odd years have seen some powerful prelates attempt to walk those decisions back!

Hi Tim: It is quite fair to make the point about the church largely disregarding former teaching on usury, but the slight difference (I suggest) is that no one is asking the church to bless usury or to pretend that no more issues arise because we work with rather than against usury. Further, it is okay to get up in a Synod and denounce capitalism and all those who rely on it!

tachesterton said...

Peter and Brendan:

My point is simply that when biblical scholars ask the question 'What exactly was the lending of money at interest in Old Testament times, how did it function, and how was it similar or different to/from modern venture capitalism?' no one accuses them of revisionism, but simply responsible biblical scholarship (despite the fact that for much of Christian history the consensus was that the practice was forbidden to Christians - which is why medieval Christendom turned to Jewish moneylenders, not Christians, when they needed a loan).

Assuming that when the biblical writers talked about 'a man lying with a man as with a woman' they were describing a committed monogamous relationship such as modern-day gay Christians want to have with each other seems to me to be just as suspect as assuming that loan sharks in the Old Testament period were exactly the same as business investors today. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren't. And surely the very use of a phrase such as 'God condemns homosexuality' is anachronistic. Even if you believe that having sex with someone of your own gender is wrong, to say 'God condemns homosexuality' is rather like saying 'God condemns alcoholism'. No he doesn't - he condemns drunkenness. They aren't the same, and the distinction is important, as any AA member will tell you.

Brendan, you don't know me, but Peter and other long-time commenters here will know that I'm not arguing this case because I want to see the church change its traditional teaching about marriage; I don't. I do, however, have a daughter in a same-sex marriage, and her Christian faith is important to her, so I naturally see things a little differently.

Tim Chesterton
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I agree that the Orthodox have ecclesiastical divorce. My reference to 1000 years' Church tradition is probably an understatement, however, with regard to same-sex relationships. Monogamous and promiscuous homosexuality both appear in Latin texts, so the difference will have been likely understood by the Apostles in the Roman world, at least. For example Juvenal's second satire viciously ridicules a same sex marriage because no drug will produce any children and Petronius depicts Giton's bisexual promiscuity in The Satyricon. As for Vatican 2 on decisions, I suppose it caused a schism with SSPX and the sede vacante communities. I would not recommend schism to evangelical Anglicans, but it is obviously an option that you will want to explore, even if just to reject it on a rational basis.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I agree that the tradition has been pretty tight regarding homosexuality though was it Boswell who drew attention to a kind of mini-tradition of brotherly covenanted relationships in the Middle Ages ...
Vatican 2 differences have not only been those which led to secession! In some cases it just led to statues of Mary being taken out of churches, later to be brought back in!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I suppose Boswell is either an authority or just another revisionist depending on where you sit. I don't have a view yet. As for Mary, I assumed you were making a protestant joke, but no! Down amongst net articles on the manifold evils of Vatican 2 and warnings that Catholics breach the second commandment, I see that some keen followers of Vatican 2 thought they had to remove statues of the saints including Mary from churches. It seems to have been a zealous misunderstanding from the one US reference to it that I could find, but, if true, some statues ended up in a lake. All a bit odd, but it shouldn't put Anglicans off making a decision.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I was thinking of an NZ parish which restored Mary after a Vat2 leaning priest left and was replaced by a conservative priest!

Anonymous said...

Fristly, Brendan: what Tim said!

Secondly - yes some people competent in Greek have, in the last seven decades, translated the 1 Cor text to include "homosexuals". Others, equally competent, dispute that recent translation. There is no mention of or reference to homosexuality in any Bible prior to 1946!!!

In your reply you appear well aware of the issues in each of the six clobber texts. So I am still hopeful of your withdrawal of your "petence" aspersion. People who hold to biblical inspiration, in good conscience hold to differing, sometimes opposing positions. Honesty requires us to acknowledge this. Claiming that the texts are unambiguous, when they are demonstrably not, is disingenuous and counterproductive.

To now seek to proceed (without even acknowledging the error of the previous contention) not from the ambiguous texts, but from a second-level interpretation, is a whole other process altogether - and more fraught than in the dealing with an unambiguous biblical teaching.

To be sure: competent theologians have addressed all this endlessly. I think, therefore, as I said, that there is little value in debating this further. Rather than Scripture being unambiguous about homosexual practice, it is patently inconclusive about committed gay relationships. It would take a good deal of intellectual gymnastics to pretend otherwise.

Best we can do: if you don't agree with a committed same-sex relationship, don't have one. Don't demand everone bless it. Allow those who agree to bless it to do so.

Mike

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Mike

My use of the word ‘pretend’ was not to imply a lack of integrity on the part of those advocating same sex blessings. The word ‘pretend’ equally means ‘claim’, i.e. ‘to claim otherwise’. Check out the Latin. ☺

As to your implied suggestion that we in the church should simply ‘live and let live’ when it comes to same sex blessings, I just cannot see how that is possible. This is a ‘bright line’ issue for so many Christians that an affirmation of Motion 30 will certainly be the most divisive action undertaken by the Anglican Church since King Henry.

I try to picture myself sitting next to my teenage grandchildren as the minister announces plans for the blessing of Bill and Andrew’s committed and loving relationship next Sunday. For me, that just isn’t going to happen and I suspect that will be equally true for a significant proportion of the Anglican community in New Zealand.

Therefore, the weight of responsibility upon those who are promoting Motion 30 is very significant indeed. Are they so confident that the Biblical narrative endorses same sex relationships that they are willing to inflict such division upon the Anglican community? Even if they were confident that Scripture endorses this ‘right’, would it not be better to suffer in silence, rather than divide the body of Christ?

Did we not give up our ‘rights’ at the foot of the cross?

‘Love does not insist on its own way’ 1 Cor 13:4

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Taking up one point of your comment at 8.42am, your hypothetical experience with your grandchildren could take place when you least expect it (e.g. you are on holiday and attending a church (of any particular denomination) you think is 'safe' on that score, only to find that such an announcement takes place ...).

Further, your wish to avoid such experience is already generally provided for in Anglican polity: if you do not wish to be in an Anglican church in which anthems are sung to Mary then I advise avoiding the following parishes .... I would be ABSOLUTELY surprised if our church as currently constituted insisted that each and every parish support blessings of same sex partnerships.

(Of course if all conservatives on these matters leave the church then it will no longer be 'as currently constituted' and I would be quite surprised if a more insistent policy was not then instituted!)

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

My desire is not to shield my grandchildren from life’s daily realities, or the need to explain homosexual relationships to them. Rather it is to avoid giving any appearance that as Christians we believe God is pleased to both endorse and bless same sex unions.

I’m not responsible for ‘holiday surprises’ but I am at least partially responsible for what happens in my faith community.

The larger question for those of us who take an orthodox view of Scripture, is can we really be ‘in communion’ with a denominational movement that embraces the ‘right’ to same sex blessings by gay and lesbian couples in the church?

One wonders what other new ‘human rights’ are waiting to be discovered by these architects of change, hither to unimagined, hidden in Scripture.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Your "larger question" is, indeed, one of the central questions of the moment!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Brendan, we were talking in English not Latin. Peter, our gracious host, understood that as I did. You risk being seen as employing casuistry to be right at all costs - rather than being open to dialogue and the Truth.

As to your second paragraph - you missunderstand Motion 30. It has already passed.

Are you suggesting the Reformation in England was a mistake? Against God's will? If so, why are you worshipping in an Anglican church, when the Church of Rome holds your position, and Anglicanism has passed Motion 30?

Finally, if you actually read Motion 30 which was passed, you will notice it explicitly allows for parishes, clergy, and individuals to hold differing positions and to have different practices.

As for your wondering what other new ‘human rights’ discovered by these architects of change: divorce & remarriage is of God, usury is fine, slavery is wrong, apartheid is wrong, contraception (including automatic abortive-producing: pill, IUD,...) is good, war can be just and pacifism is not on,...

But I think any further comment by me will have little impact, as I predicted at the start, with one who redefines words. We clearly approach discussion differently...

Mike

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mike and Brendan
Before we get to a point where my moderation skills or lack of them are called into question, let me make sure we are talking about the same Motion 30!

Yes, Motion 30 has passed (Mike)

Yes, Motion 30 sets in train a number of things which could yet be affirmed and could yet pass and thus could yet change the formal statements of our doctrine in canon and in liturgy and thus engenders plenty of debate (Brendan).

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Mike

I thought you might have appreciated the gentle irony in my humble attempt to clarify the ambiguity attached to the word 'pretend'.

The blessing of same sex relationships is the ‘civil union’ of the Anglican Church. It mirrors the incremental change that resulted in the ratification of gay marriage in popular culture, and if not resisted will eventually result in the same outcome for the Church.

We should not pretend otherwise.

We are new to the Anglican Church, we appreciate the authenticity and orthodoxy of the teaching, the joy in worship, the mix of liturgy and informality. We have been warmly welcomed, given opportunities for service, and feel loved and very much at home.

I'm engaging in this conversation because it seems to me that this welcome form of Christian expression is a model worth preserving and further reproducing as a vehical of blessing for those within the body of Christ, and those who are not yet.

Reading the words of Jesus to the Churches in Revelations chapter 2 and 3, he begins by commending them, and then moves on to say ' Nevertheless, I have a few things against you'. They included 'forsaking their first love, sexual immorality x 2, being 'dead' and being lukewarm.'

I cannot help but reflect on the message Jesus would give to the Anglican Church today. There is much to commend, but would he rebuke us in the same way as he did the Churches in Pergamum and Thyatira for condoning sexual immorality?

May we hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church in these days.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that " hearing what the Spirit is saying to the Church " has now turned into an American (of course) Anglican privilege. It is reported on Creedal Christian that a TEC Bishop claimed that God had given TEC a new revelation not shared with "our forefathers". Peter's comment on the site ridicules the presumptuous claim. I think we need a new feast day and a Saint even.

Nick

liturgy said...

Jean, above, talked about "the difffering views of the teaching of the sacramental act of communion between churches - the Catholic belief of the wine and bread being the literal body, and blood of Christ and the protestant view of them being metaphorical representations of the body and blood of Christ"

This is an unhelpful oversimplification of understandings of communion.

"literal blood of Christ" would mean the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets of Jesus suspended in plasma, and "literal body" would mean bone, organs, etc. That is an unhelpful misrepresentation (read "gross" in both its senses) of the Catholic understanding of Christ's risen presence in the form of bread and wine.

As for protestants being united on anything, let alone their understanding of communion, that has not been the case from the start as evidenced from the Marburg Colloquy.

Blessings

Bosco

Jean said...


Duly corrected Bosco : )