Monday, March 28, 2016

A Way Forward: Section 6: A Critical Review (5)

[The full report is accessible here. The section under discussion in this post is accessible here. In these posts I am aiming to work my way forward through A Way Forward report, posting on a new section each Monday in the weeks before General Synod, May 2016. Pagination refers to the PDF version of the report.]

Added Note

In a comment below Malcolm Falloon brilliantly sums up the effect of this section in respect of finding A Way Forward viz a viz the legalities of making change in our church:

"the report pictures our church as being like a train at a junction of two tracks. No one can understand the lights, but the very best minds on board recommend that the points be shifted and for the train to take the fast track. After all, if we meet a train coming the other way, we can always back up!"

Introduction

Section 6 is headed "Of "The Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ." It concerns "the question of whether General Synod / te Hinota Whanui may lawfully adopt the proposals contained in this report." It is found on pp. 19 and 20 of the report.

It must have been a difficult section to write because it acknowledges in its preamble that what it proposes may turn out to not be lawful, and it notes that "The members of the working group are not themselves in agreement over the question of whether a rite of blessing of same-sex relationships, which would then be regarded as rightly-ordered, would represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ." Further, precisely on the matter of "Doctrine of Christ", the report acknowledges that we as a church do not understand what this means!

Nevertheless none of this means that this section is full of problems.

First, this section correctly sets out what Te Pouhere (the constitution) says in respect of what General Synod is "bound to hold and maintain." Secondly, this section correctly notes that "change to the formularies is permitted" providing no such change results in a departure "from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as defined in the Fundamental Provisions of this Constitution." Thirdly, I see no difficulty in affirming that the "Sacraments of Christ are Baptism and Holy Communion alone. Marriage is expressly excluded as a sacrament by articles 25 and 39 of the Articles of Religion. The addition of a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationship would not therefore have sacramental import." Thus, fourthly, this section (from bottom third of p. 19 onwards) rightly focuses on what "Doctrine of Christ" means and how the report might impact on our understanding of that and the legal consequences and constraints associated with that understanding.

Doctrine of Christ

The report appropriately asks the question what "Doctrine of Christ" means in  respect of options such as "a particular body of teaching about Christ, or Jesus' own particular teaching;" or "core matters of faith in Christ as they bear upon the matter of redemption accomplished by and in him;" or "all that we read in scripture regarding the whole of life as lived to God in faithful response to the gospel."

The report then reflects on the fuller phrase from Te Pouhere, "the Doctrine of Christ ... as the Lord has commanded in Holy Scripture." Does this means "that every part of scripture is "the Doctrine of Christ"? Or, does it means "that reading the Doctrine of Christ through the formularies will lead us to understand that Doctrine as involving the essential matters that are dealt with in the Creeds, for example, and that matters outside of these are not covered by Te Pouhere in referring to the Doctrine of Christ"?

It is not rocket science, if some (many?) readers detect a lean in the trajectory of the doctrinal rocket towards placing "blessing of same-sex relationships" as "outside" the Doctrine of Christ. But can this be done?

Quite oddly, in my view, the report misses one of the more obvious points our church has already made about the Doctrine of Christ, a point already cited at the beginning of the section but mostly ignored thereafter.

At the beginning of the section the citation from Te Pouhere talks about "the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ ... and as explained in [my bold] The Book of Common Prayer 1662, Te Rawiri, The Form and Manner of Making Ordaining, and Consecrating Bishops, Priest and Deacons, The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa." In other words, the Doctrine of Christ does not boil down to the creeds, nor is it solely about "core matters of faith in Christ as they bear upon the matter of redemption." Nor any other narrow slice of theology. Rather, the Doctrine of Christ, found explained in prayer books, ordinals and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, is necessarily "all that we read in scripture regarding the whole of life as lived to God in faithful response to the gospel" and "every part of scripture."

Putting that in words relevant to the issue at hand,  placing the words of a blessing service into a formulary (i.e. an order of service expressing our understanding of what we believe) must not contradict "the Doctrine of Christ" with that doctrine understood as already explained in the documents listed in the above paragraph. 

Putting that another way, if those pursuing the adoption of a formulary for the blessing of a same-sex relationship wish to have it (a) adopted by the twice round process, and (b) either not be appealed against or, if appealed, fend off such challenge, then the arguments in pursuit of adoption at worst need to demonstrate non-contradiction of the Doctrine of Christ and at best need to demonstrate coherency and congruence with the Doctrine of Christ.

Unfortunately for those who want a neat, tidy, efficient way forward towards change, without fear of  failure of adoption in the twice round process and with hope of success in the event of an appeal to tribunal, that is, the neatness of GS declaring that (i) Doctrine of Christ = creeds, (ii) marriage and such are not creedal, this is very unlikely to happen. General Synod - like the working group itself - is very likely to get tangled up in a debate over what the Doctrine of Christ means. It is difficult to see either the theologians or the lawyers (professional or amateur!!) or both among GS members agreeing that "the Doctrine of Christ" only applies to some formularies and not to all .

The Church of England Empowering Act 1928

On p.20 Section 6 of the report we move into some "what ifs" re the impact of the Church of England Empowering Act 1928 which specifies an "appeal period ... of up to one year from the date of the adoption by General Synod / te Hinota Whanui of any new formulary" (i.e. after proposed at a GS, approved by a majority of dioceses / amorangi, and returned to GS for final adoption).

I suggest the report makes two observations which are worth making and should be followed up by General Synod / te Hinota Whanui at an appropriate time, that is, with a move to request parliament to amend the Act, if not abolish the Act (with appropriate changes to our General Synod governed processes of legislation and appeal. (The midst of the current debate and process of decision-making is not that time). Those two observations are that the language of the Act is about "the Dioceses of New Zealand" and thus the Act does not reflect our Three Tikanga structure in respect of how we make decisions, and in respect of a possible Tribunal, the Act means the only bishops able to be on the tribunal would be our pakeha bishops.

But there is a further observation which could be made in respect of the 1928 Act and the mutual ties between it and Te Pouhere. As Bosco Peters' at Liturgy has been pointing out (in various posts, but see this one in particular and follow up links within it), over a period of years our church appeared, liturgically, to know not what it was doing. That is, we got confused about which services were which: experimental services, experimental services authorised for use beyond any reasonable period of experimentation, formularies, and "who" could authorise services. Effectively, we have recently clarified that authorised services must be formularies. Thus it appears sure that the 1928 Act does not provide for the possibility that there might be two classes of authorised services: 
- those which are formularies, agreed to by due process, and that due process required because formularies express what we believe as a church;
- those which are authorised for use (e.g authorised by a bishop, by a tikanga; for use (say) in special circumstances, on certain occasions only) which would not necessarily express what we all believe but which would express what some believe and by consent of the church were permitted to believe and express in such authorised prayers.*

Now, on closer inspection and detailed argument, we might not want to be a church with two such classes of services. But my point is, we cannot even have the argument with ourselves because we are constrained by the 1928 Act.

Has that Act served its purpose?

And, to those who might (reasonably) say, 

"Peter, the Act may be the only thing which stands between our church remaining orthodox and our church deviating from orthodoxy," 

I say, 

"On matters of orthodoxy versus heterodoxy versus heresy, we should not be relying in the 21st century on civil legislation represented by the 1928 Act in a country which has moved a very, very long way from the vestigial sense of an established church brought over from England to NZ in the first half of the 19th century."

*The proposal of the report, that on a diocese by diocese basis we might choose whether or not to implement and authorise for use the proposed new formulary, is a tacit acknowledgement that we might like to be a church with two "classes" of services: formularies and non-formularies-but-authorised-for-use.

Thus the dilemma at the heart of the report for many licensed office-holders of our church is that the 1928 Act forces A Way Forward to propose formularies which necessarily entail church agreement that "this is what we believe" when clearly we are not a church willing and ready to make that agreement (with some helpful degree of unity) and offers an "opt out"/"opt in" approach solely by way of diocesan choice. 

My personal assessment of many licensed office-holders in our church, where "many" is more than "conservative evangelicals", is that our preference would be that we do not attempt to secure agreement re formularies, rather we secure agreement re services authorised for use but which do not make pretence that 'this is what this church believes." 

By going the way of formularies, A Way Forward effectively proposes a crisis of conscience for many existing and future licensees of this church.

Conclusion re Section 6

Some important observations and points are made in this section. But the discussion of the key point of the section, concerning the Doctrine of Christ, seems to overlook an important observation about what our church already understands about the Doctrine of Christ.

The report rightly acknowledges the looming presence of the 1928 Act over the situation, observes some difficulties with this Act, but does not push on to observe other difficulties this Act entails in the life of ACANZP.






22 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Peter, assuming for simplicity that all in the GS agree that A Way Forward has been found, but that they are not of one mind that the proposal is legal, will they be able to approve it? It sounds as though the answer is--

The GS procedures do not require an enabling vote on the legality of the proposal before a vote on the proposal itself. Therefore, yes, if they care only about passing the proposal, no matter what the doctrinal or other consequences, they can do so because nobody can stop them. However there is further voting, and if, after all the voting in ACANZP high and low, the proposal is enacted, it could still be appealed to a panel of bishops descended from settlers that would rule on the question whether it is a lawful proposal (eg with respect to the Doctrine of Christ).

What is the shortest possible time from passage at the next GS to a decision on an appeal?

Bowman Walton



Anonymous said...

Peter, your comments lead me to consider the idea of two tiers of formularies-- one of the usual identity documents, and another of a new local confession and rite approved by a synod of those churches that show net growth in adult members in the previous ten years. All ACANZP license-holders would affirm the first; those in the new synod (NS) would affirm the second.

Something like this has been proposed for the Church of Cockaigne where debate over That Topic drifted to the parlous membership decline of that church and thence to the time-honoured ritual of evangelicals affirming and liberals disowning the Thirty Nine Articles.

"They're true!"

"They're old!"

"True!"

"Old!"

"Orthodox!"

"Out of date!"

"Clear!"

"About issues nobody can remember!"

And so, on... and on... and on...

In the midst of this, a seminarian, barely a reader and not yet a deacon, spoke up--

"So then we need new articles. Without agreement, we cannot grow. The churches that are growing should write them."

Obviously, the poor boy knew nothing of how the great Church of Cockaigne really works, as many hastened to point out. And why really should anyone care about the doctrinal views of the pastors of growing parishes when Cockaigne was blessed with so many forward-thinking theologians? Not one of the former had ever been appointed to the doctrinal commission.

But then a retired archbishop awakened from his nap, rose to his feet, leaned upon his cane, and blurted out in a quivering voice--

"The great Church of Cockaigne is not great anymore! And. It. Does. Not. Work. We are managing ancient disagreements for our own narcissistic comfort rather than showing Cockaigne what agreement in Christ looks like. That is why we are the fastest shrinking church in Cockaigne. People are attracted by conviction, and we in this room are afraid to have any. If we did we would have done long ago as that young fellow suggests."

That was really awkward. But as the present Primate is the protege of the elderly one, he offered to entertain a motion that there be an afternoon discussion on the remarks of the seminarian and the archbishop. The motion was duly made, seconded, and approved. And then, after a bit more business, the meeting adjourned for lunch.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I am sure my proposal re two classes of authorised services has snags!

According to our processes and my understanding of them, the earliest point an appeal could be lodged is the day after the second GS in the twice round process; the latest date is 365 days after the second GS.

I would be surprised if either General Synod or a majority of dioceses voting between General Synods would proceed on the basis that they thought there was a reasonable chance the proposal was illegal (though they could do).

The point would be (as it was when we approved the 1989 NZ Prayer Book and waited to the 366 day thereafter before pushing "PRINT.") that the GS and majority of dioceses believed there was not a legal difficulty with the proposal but accepted that others in our church might think otherwise.

I would need to wade through our canons but I don't think the Tribunal which would hear an appeal would only consist of bishops; but the bishops on it, according to the 1928 Act, would only be drawn from the pakeha bishops.

Malcolm Falloon said...

Peter,

I find this section the most disconcerting of the whole report. After sowing needless confusion about the “Doctrine of Christ”, the report then invites General Synod to proceed on that very basis, in order to “uphold the integrity of those who cannot agree”. I just can’t see how this procedure could possibly produce the desired outcome, for disagreement over the Doctrine of Christ is the very point at issue – a “crucial matter for debate”, according to the Executive Summary.

To make matters worse, any appeal would have to use an outmoded Tribunal system that consequently will not command the full confidence of our church, whatever its final decision. I realise that the Working Group were asked to provide a way forward, but this seems almost Machiavellian - forcing through change in one bold stroke, without fear of the consequences.

To my mind the report pictures our church as being like a train at a junction of two tracks. No one can understand the lights, but the very best minds on board recommend that the points be shifted and for the train to take the fast track. After all, if we meet a train coming the other way, we can always back up!

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Malcolm
I have taken the liberty of excerpting your train image and adding it to the beginning of the post!

Jean said...

Hi Peter

This is indeed interesting, and gives a little more light to the process for me. Especially the tendency in the report, or more pertinently the instructions given to the writers to focus on the application rather than the justification thereby to tread lightly regarding 'The Doctrine of Christ'.

Authorised services which are not formularies and subsequently not 'the belief of the whole church'? The concept sounds a plausible one as many of us hold differing opinions around theological viewpoints. And I could see it working say in the case of whether to baptise or dedicate your child, as there are good theological understandings for both practices.

However, if the authorised but non-formularised service contravines 'The Doctrine of Christ', and its defitinition you noted, how can the viewpoints or beliefs held be authorised at all? For example many Christians I know hold a belief that all religions lead to God, which is not exactly supporteed by 'The Doctrine of Christ'. Could an authorised service espousing such a viewpoint be acceptable?

Rather than be tried and found true, or being tried and found wanting; it seems the premise of the report opted for bypassing being tried at all.

On the bright side, if we were in Texas we would be debating how we justify Pastor's and Ushers carrying handguns to church to protect their congregation!

Blessings,
Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
You are raising a pertinent point re difference (if any) between a formulary expressing what we all believe and an authorised service (which we all agree to being authorised) which is not a formulary.

There is a bit to think about and discuss and the following is not intended as a final word on the matter!

I suggest a formulary puts in writing what we believe as a church and thus is a service which, even if I do not ever use it myself, it nevertheless says something about what this church and therefore I, as a member of it, believe.

An authorised service which is not a formulary could be a service which puts into words beliefs held by many in the church but not yet held by all. It could be a service which later becomes a formulary (i.e. the many holding to its beliefs become "all") or it could be a service which never becomes a formulary (i.e. despite use and existence, it never secures unqualified, universal adherence).

An (hypothetical) example which comes to mind is a Service of Blessing for a Warship. On the one hand our chaplains might like a service which we authorised for use, rather than one they made up for the occasion. On the other hand, the pacifists among us would never agree to such a service expressing the shared belief of the whole church. But also non-pacifists (such as, in this instance, myself) might also be uncomfortable agreeing to such a service becoming a formulary (because I am wary of blessing that which may shift in effective purpose from a deterrent to a fighting machine which kills the non-combatant as well as the combatant). I could agree to our church authorising such a service for use by chaplains providing it was not a formulary.

The distinction between our Service of Baptism (of Infants) and our Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child is an interesting one. First, it is an example of our church agreeing to two formularies which are similar to one another and which often become confused in the minds of both church members and outsiders. Secondly, they are both formularies, so they express the fact that we both agree with baptism of children of believers and the choice of parents not to have their children baptised. But what the latter service does not express (despite some misunderstanding about this) is the concept of "dedication" of children (concisely: this is not actually a New Testament ritual practice). We have neither a formulary nor an authorised service by which children may be "dedicated."

It would be an interesting question to discuss whether, on an accepted distinction between two classes of services, formularies and authorised services, whether our church would agree to authorise a service of dedication of children. I suggest such a discussion could be premised on two propositions and raises at least one significant question: (1) many participants in our congregations these days come from Christian backgrounds where dedication of children is wanted rather than baptism of children, and dedication of children is desired rather than Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child; (2) a dedication service as a formulary would be a fundamental contradiction of our belief that children of believers may be baptised and it is desirable that they be baptised; (3) but (2) raises the question whether we could or should authorise a service of dedication.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

Yes a lot of questions raised!

For me the commonality between your two examples is scripture presents enough support, from my perspective anyway, for each viewpoint to be theologically valid within contextual parameters. I would contend, although infant Baptism is a formulary within the Anglican church, that those who seek dedication for their children with a tendency towards 'believer's baptism' have some sound scriptural reasoning for their decisions also. As I understand it Christian's from the time before denominations have held both beliefs at varying stages.

The question I would question now is whether infant Baptism is actually a widely held belief amongst most Anglicans in New Zealand today, even though it has historically been so. I for one know of an Anglican Priest with children who were all dedicated in Anglican Churches. Regardless the actions and intentions of the parents are the same and those who bring their children to be baptised or dedicated in the spirit intended do so with the desire the children will commit to the faith themselves when they are old enough either through baptism or confirmation.

The comparison between these examples as differing viewpoints and those who support a service of SSB in the form of a sexual relationship to me is the lack of sound theological evidence to make it a scripturally valid service - so far that is. Even if I wanted to I would be hard pressed to make a case for it. A number of people bring up the relationship between Jonathon and David, which indeed was blessed and they obviously loved each other (love and brotherhood or sisterhood in the platonic sense not being a foreign concept especially in Middle East and Asia), but common sense convinces me Jonathon who had a child and David a few wives were heterosexually wired.

Ahh the dilemma's of life... : )

Jean

P.S. Ooops I didn't know the Anglican church had a Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child ...

Jean said...

Apologies Peter, I didn't at first note your reference to the Thanksgiving for the Gift on a Child being an acknowledgement of some parents wish to wait for Baptism. After looking up the service and services of dedication I cannot see a lot of difference between dedication and the Anglican formulary of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child. Some dedication services involve dedication of the parents and the child to God and the link of this to OT scripture is a bit tenuous, however, I didn't find claims made of child dedication being compulsory or a sanctioned or sanctified christian ritual as is Baptism; it appears more along the lines of an affirmation by parents of the gift of life God has given them and their responsibility to raise the child in the faith.

Thanksgiving for a Child or Confirmation wouldn't be New Testament ritual practices either would they? Excuse my ignorance.

Cheers
Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
I am sure all Christian services of dedication involving children include thanksgiving and I am also sure that some Anglicans who, for whatever reason they are choosing not to bring their children for baptism, find our Thanksgiving service a suitable service for acknowledging before God and family/friends their desire to bring their child up Christianly.

I do not see Anglican theology objecting per se to the general notion of dedicating (i.e. bringing to God) a child but I see our theology objecting to a formal service of dedication on the grounds that (1) this looks like an alternative to baptism (of the child), but for that, there is in fact no NT precedent, and, indeed the NT precedent through households being baptised is that children were baptised; (2) not only is there neither talk in the NT of a service of dedication nor is there talk of dedicating children to God; (3) understanding children as a gift of God, it is reasonable and appropriate to give thanks for God's gift rather than bring the child to God as our gift to God.

(3) then undergirds our Thanksgiving service. Yes, you rightly point out there is no precedent for such a service in the NT. But the Anglican theological reply would be that we are encouraged and instructed on many occasions in the NT to give thanks for all God's gifts.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for the explaination. Yes, I think most Anglican's who opt for waiting for Baptism for their child would find the Thanksgiving service just fine, as those called to serve in the Anglican church from other churches see a dedication service in their eyes as just fine - neither being a NT precendent and neither being an alternative to Baptism.

Every Christian friend I have who has children and doesn't belong to an Anglican Church and a few who do who have had their children dedicated have done so because they believe Baptism is the choice of the child for later.

I being baptised as an infant myself, accept the notion of children being baptised as within a household as well as acknowledging the context that at the time this was written the whole family did what the head of the household did. The arguments for Baptism as a choice to be made by each individual 'repent, believe and be baptised' can also be convincing.

Either way it is my experience some committment by parents or communities to bring up a child in the faith and then a person's own public declaration of faith play essential roles in the development of individual faith, with Baptism into the family of God occuring at some point in that continuum.

My viewpoint is skewed or maybe not so historically Anglican because of belonging to an Anglican church who Baptised children, dedicated children, performed admission to communion for children of a specific age for those from a Catholic background, and even re-baptised one person who felt their baptism was invlaid, confirmed adults and teenagers, fully immersed adults in Baptism etc etc..... yet all within what was an evangelical theologically conservative Anglican liturgical worship environment. However, do note gowing up as a child in an Anglican church I made me none the wiser about what was the Anglican way of things either. In one way I am grateful for this.








Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, in reference to Jean's conversation about Baptism v. Blessing, I am led to wonder whether she is an Anglican priest or lay-person in our Church.

The N.Z. Payer Book clearly states that the "Service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child" (page 754) is clearly not an alternative to Baptism, but simply an office of Thanksgiving - a pro9bable substitute for the BCP 'Churching of Women' rite of thanksgiving after a birth. Here are the introductory words for the NZBP rite of Thanksgiving:

"This service provides an opportunity for parents and families to GIVE THANKS for the birth of a child and to offer prayer for family life. It may take place in the home, the hospital, in church, or some other suitable setting as soon as convenient after the birth or adoption of a child.

This service has NO CONNECTION with Baptism, which is the sacxdrament of initiation into the Church, th body of Christ"

This instruction is perhaps confusing, because of the opportunity to 'Name' the child - a ritual normally connected with Baptism. However, one suspects the child has already been given a name, so that it may not be considered by the parents to be unusual.

The Anglican Church clearly requires a child to be Baptised, in order to partake of the sacramental life of the Church. Ideally the rite of Confirmation should be underetaken for the 'child' to later 'affirm' the promises made on its behalf at Baptism.

Thre quotation in our Prayer Book of Peter's words that: "Believers' children have also been baptised, so that with help and encouragement they should grow up 'in Christ' and by the grace of God serve Christ all the days of their life".

To delay baptism, until the child is 'old enough' to understand what is going on, is to deny the fact that Baptism is more about God's gift of the Holy Spirit to induct a person into the Body of Christ, without, .necessarily, that person 'understanding what is happening. That process should follow through with Christian education by the Church. Later Confirmation is only an affirmation of what has aleady taken place in Baptism. One cannot be 're-Baptised'.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thinking about the phrase 'crisis of conscience, Peter. I wonder if there are any clergy in ACANZP who have a 'crisis of conscience' about Baptising infants in their congregation? From Jean's remarks, it seems there might indeed be some that she knows of. In such instances, what is the discipline of the Church on this important matter of Christian Initiation?

"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven" - Jesus

Jean said...

Hi Fr Ron

Definitely a lay person you will be pleased to hear : ) my c.v. ... about 40 ish ... no formal theological training aside from one year of EFM. Grew up in a traditional Anglican Church had a period of not attending and returned to church which by chance was a charismatic Anglican one in my mid 20's when my boss was killed and I was faced with is God really there and what do I believe. I have taught youth group, children's ministry, youth alpha and been involved in prayer ministry and run the Women's ministry for a parish. I am a decendent of David Livingstone (just added that for some biographical weight, although I am not sure if he was COE). I am now back in a rural traditional parish.

There is no confusion on my part as Peter explained it that the Thanksgiving service for a child is not the equivalent of Baptism (I just didn't know such a service existed), although I returned to worship as an adult in an Anglican Church I have yet to read the Prayer Book from cover to cover. Peter's contention is the service of dedication practiced mostly by other church traditions looks to be a replacement of Baptism. This, however, is not how those I have known who have chosen to participate in such a service view it.

I do not think it has anything to do with a 'crisis of conscience' by any clergy I have ever known in the Anglican Church. The one Priest I knew who performed a dedication service rather than a Thanksgiving for the gift of a Child did so for 'pastoral reasons', that being the Father of the infant came from a different church tradition and to him this was the norm and the mother came to faith and was baptised as an adult and supported her husbands desire.

My argument is merely a 'dedication service' from one tradition from what I have witnessed is undertaken for similar reasons by parents, if called a different name, as the 'thanksgiving service' in the Anglican tradition. So why don't they go to another church if this is what they want? Because many people of my generation or below indentify firstly with being Christian and secondly with the tradition of the church they attend making their attitudes towards different ways of doing things (so long as they are not in opposition to scripture) more forgiving.

One memory that has never left me is of talking to a teenager saying oh cool you are a Christian! No, she told me emphatically. I am not a Christian, I am a Catholic! I almost cried...

Anyhow all this diverts from the original point of Peter's post. Apologies Peter.

Cheers
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Jean, for the potted biog. That allows me to understand where your arguments are coming from. My own history (partly) is that I was introduced to the 'Charismatic Movement' in the late sixties, while a lay person at the Anglican Church of St. Paul, Symonds Street, Auckland. The Vicar, Fr Kenneth Prebble, had experienced 'tongues-speaking' at a Baptist Prayer Group. His experience led to the parish inviting overseas Anglican charismatic teachers like Fr. Dennis Bennett and Fr. Graham Pulkingham, through whose extensive ministry St. Paul's grew to influence other deminational churches (including the Roman Catholics) in Auckland and around the country. St. Paul's did not jettison its Anglo-Catholic ethois. Rather, it became an amalgam of the best of both traditions. That is my basic spirituality

Bryden Black said...

Some thoughts Peter on this Doctrine of Christ issue.
Yes; being a Church who believes lex orandi, lex credendi to be an essential aspect of our very identity, then a two-tier practice of forms of worship/ritual which signal a core dissonance in our very midst is probably not a long term, stable solution. Nor is it a wise long term Way Forward if our 'ideology' as an organization is similarly fraught with seismic fault lines. Either way, cosmetic repair is folly when the structural foundations are showing such enormous cracks - distances - among us.
Once more, any bridge building (these metaphors are becoming far too plentiful) requires solid foundations BOTH ends if there is going to be strength enough for real, substantial, weighty traffic to pass across. Ie. Our church is unlikely to remain together via this route, I suggest.

Peter Carrell said...

Actually, Bryden, a bridge can work quite well without strong foundations at both ends ... the questions asked of such a bridge, however, are what weight of traffic can it take, will it withstand a flood, and what happens if someone builds a palpably stronger bridge alongside it?

That is, our church may well keep going with a bridge built with A Way Forward providing the foundations at each end, but that doesn't mean our church will survive "weight", or "flood", or "alternative" if and when any one or two or three of those come along.

Jean said...

Thank you, Ron. I can see it would have been indeed the best of both traditions. It is good to see St Pauls again making a resurgence. I always like the analogy of too much word and you dry up, too much spirit and you blow up! : )

Jonathan said...

I liked Fr Ron's "amalgam" of traditions - a long time ago a small group I was part of worked through Richard Foster's "Renovare", loosely based, I think, on his "Streams of Living Water" where he outlined 5 streams of Christian expression - Contemplative, Charismatic, Incarnational, Social Justice and Evangelical. He offered ways we could apply the expressions, given that there will most likely be some we won't "naturally" gel with. And gave his take on the strengths and weaknesses of each. One of the strengths being that each has so much of the gospel in it that a congregation could pick one and miss the rest!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Once more, any bridge building (these metaphors are becoming far too plentiful) requires solid foundations BOTH ends if there is going to be strength enough for real, substantial, weighty traffic to pass across. Ie. Our church is unlikely to remain together via this route, I suggest." - Bryden Black -

Well, Bryden, if real FAITH is capabale of 'moving mountains', I'm sure it could survive any traffic over the bridge that includes opening up a way to bless same-sex unions. It, though, only requires one pier to intentionally 'break away' to cause problems. I recall the old adage: "Where there's a will there's a way". Christ is risen Alleluia!

Liturgy said...

Dear Peter,

I think your suggestion of uncoupling authorised services from church beliefs a huge mistake. To do so would have essentially a similar effect of Statute 711 which returns to General Synod Te Hinota Whanui in May for confirmation (having passed in 4 dioceses), and which both you and I were firmly against. I still am, and chaos will pass into legislation should GSTHW be foolish enough to pass it.

As your link in your post would indicate, I offered an alternative to having a canon limit the application of a formulary: I proposed the belief of the church would be expressed as it being possible for a civil marriage to be blessed in church. I was unsure that a canon could limit the application of a formulary – I have retracted that: yes, it may be possible. The Marriage Canon is the only example that I have come across where this happens. I was publicly reprimanded, by a member of the Way Forward Group when I retracted, that one should “ensure your facts are correct in the first place!” I have not noticed an exploration in The Report of how/when a canon might limit the application of a formulary. I certainly remain to be convinced that 2.6 of the Marriage Canon is even possible: the claim that one can cut-and-paste between different marriage rites. I think that this requires an alteration of the formulary – not merely a 50% vote in a canon!

The confusion of our beliefs and practices are highlighted by The Report, and by you. It has not yet been two years since our church formally admitted (GSTHW 2014) that our authorisation processes were inconsistent with the 1928 Act and lacked fundamental authorisation in the first place. How long before the church formally acknowledges that at least 2.6 of the Marriage Canon lacks fundamental authorisation? The Report speaks of a legislative lacuna – beyond its own lack of providing “facts” about canons-re-formularies lies, as far as I know, no constitutional or other clarification that a canon can limit the application of a formulary.

If a canon really might do this, as you have suggested, why might a vote passed at a diocesan synod not be able to do this?! Where are the edges?

We could in theory, then, have a formulary which can not be applied anywhere in our church! Believed everywhere – but not able to be put into practice anywhere! Isn’t that the definition of the word “hypocrisy”?!

I have already underscored that under the proposed process, a change of bishop might result in a diocese having a practice that the bishop opposes. And noted that a canon can be altered or rescinded at one sitting of GSTHW by a 50% vote.

Services that are allowed are different to services that are authorised. Blessing a missile is allowed. A liturgy for recognising the end of a marriage is allowed. Blessing animals is allowed. Marrying a couple where one partner is divorced is allowed. But none of these have formularies. No one is required to believe in these things. Is this not a better way forward? [Just asking – but knowing I may once again have opened myself up to castigation].

Once again I ask: now we finally acknowledge the mess our liturgical and doctrinal agreements are in, how is it that it is the issue of blessing a committed-same-sex couple that has brought this to the fore?! Why this issue, rather than, say, the far more prevalent issue of remarrying divorcees?

Easter Season Blessings!

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
My proposal re an authorised service which is not a formulary depends on the 1928 Act being abolished.
That abolition in the near future is unlikely so your proposal clearly understanding what is "allowed" compared with what is "authorised" (I.e. Formularies) seems like the current best way forward.
The issue has come to the fore because proponents of same sex blessings have pushed for them to be permitted, if not formularised, despite knowing that many in our church do not agree that such relationships can be blessed in God's name.
If that pushing had not occurred there would not be this controversy.