Friday, May 13, 2016

It is space we need not time! UPDATE: Ball in conservatives' court?

I agree with Helen Jacobi (Vicar of St Matthews-in-the-City) when she tweeted yesterday in reply to a Tweet by me:




That is, I agree that we need to find "space" in our church for freedom to move forward on the matter of blessing of same-sex relationships. I also agree that Motion 30 and then A Way Forward (AWF) were intended to find that set of spaces for Anglicans to be Anglican, conservatively to not bless and progressively to bless. But AWF was flawed. It would appear that #gsthw16 this week has accepted (however reluctantly by many members of the Synod and of our church) that A Better Way Forward needs to be found. We have given ourselves two years to do this.

What was the stumbling block at #gsthw16?

My mind hones in on this part of the (now expanded from initial posted) Taonga report from yesterday (my highlights):

"Ruth Wildbore (Christchurch) spoke in support of motion 29 as a conservative Anglican.“We are grateful for the time we now have to put structures in place,” she said. 
“And we are grateful that you didn’t put us in a position where we felt we had to leave this General Synod.” 
Archdeacon Tim Mora (Nelson) had also opposed the recommendations in ‘A Way Forward.’“For conservatives the A Way Forward’  report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” he said. 
“The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod. 
“It is important that the working group is prepared to explore all the options, including the ones presented by the Ma Whea Commission
“But there is a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”"

The sense here is that among the conservatives at #gsthw16 there is a will to find a way, but it is not the way of A Way Forward. That way, it would also appear, will involve "something" by way of "structures" which "protect". Since the AWF offered a "diocese by diocese" choice as a "structure" intended to "protect", as well as clear statement that no cleric would be forced to conduct blessings as a further "protection," we can deduce that these two aspects were roundly rejected as offering insufficient "protection." A particular flaw, in my view, of AWF was proposing services of blessing which were to be formularies, because formularies state the agreed beliefs of our church: how could we be two integrities if there is one integrity re the formularies involved?

To put this in another way, our search is for a church of two spaces (a.k.a. "integrities"),
- one space in which it is possible to bless same sex partnerships and
- one space in which it is possible not to bless same sex partnerships and possible not to assent to such blessings as part of the required beliefs of our church.

I see on social media people bewailing the time this is taking. I rejoice that we have not made a mistake and that we have given ourselves time to find the spaces we require if we are to stay together.

UPDATE: But for a contrary view of this decision (H/T Ron Smith), read now Bishop Kelvin Wright's (Dunedin) blogpost at Available Light.

UPDATE 2: I find it odd that people are perturbed that GS did not make a decision. My guess (because of lack of reports) is that GS also didn't make a decision about the interchangeability of Anglican and Methodist orders and about Confirmation becoming "Affirmation." Why would that be? Because the proposals were not up to scratch. Thus I also find it odd that people are annoyed at conservatives in ACANZP for "causing" this situation re tabling the same sex blessing motion. Why not be annoyed at the working group for bringing a proposal which was not up to scratch?

But here is the thing, the indecision is real progress in this sense at least: the ball is now in the conservatives' court. They/we must put up a proposal which is a way forward AND is acceptable to conservatives ...or leave. There can be no passivity on the part of conservatives over the next two years, waiting to see what happens, crossing fingers and hoping it all goes a way. The majority of the GS (two tikanga out of three) want our church to be able to bless same-sex partnerships. Conservatives on blessings cannot think ACANZP will not permit blessing of same-sex partnerships, they/we must think about the circumstances of that permission which we can abide by.

UPDATE 3: Fascinating, erudite, and long article by Oliver O'Donovan on the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church as it moves towards doctrinally genderless marriage. Pearls of wisdom about the use (and abuse) of Scripture, tradition and reason!

This, relative to our own church's dilemma and its resolution is crucial:

"To make a case for same-sex marriage on the basis of Scripture, Tradition and Reason sounds like squaring the circle, since by any account it is a highly untraditional practice.   To find a place for it, on the other hand, is a task to which various possible approaches may spring to mind.   When we study what the Committee made of its task, we are likely to feel that the damage it threatens to the church’s catholic identity is the result of trying to answer the question in its more demanding, rather than its less demanding form."

UPDATE 4: Heartfelt article here by Mark Henrickson (co-author with Peter Lineham of a pre-GS article published via ADU). I don't want to be part of a church perceived to be hateful by homosexuals and I don't want to be part of a church which must vote for equal marriage to be satisfactory to homosexuals. I want to be part of a loving church which discerns what the Spirit is saying to the church!


90 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

I think you have really nailed something here. I think adopting AWF basically would have said

"We are a Church that blesses same sex relationships"

That statement, despite many consciousnesses objectors would actually have been true.....So to remain in the Church would have meant being part of a church that blesses same sex relationships.

This is I think fundamentally why the idea of "two integrities is so flawed.

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and "other gods"." (Luke 16:13)

One integrity will inevitably swallow the other. I get that people who don't like the Scriptural and Traditional integrity feel like the integrity they see is reasonable is swallowed. To adopt an alternative integrity though by definition means that the Scriptural and Traditional integrity is swallowed - and that would leave us adrift as a church.

If people want "space" to explore their integrity, there are wide open spaces outside of the Anglican church. Most of our culture today will embrace that integrity....they can pray for and bless whoever they want.

A person who is said to have two integrities is known as being two faced and untrustworthy. I think that would have been true of us a church had we adopted AWF.

Ben

Malcolm Falloon said...

Dear Peter,

I would suggest that time is needed as well as space.

A consistent theme I hear from those disappointed by GS's decision is a sense of bewilderment and incomprehension at the actions of conservatives. Is this not an indication that we still misunderstand one another and talk past one another without truly listening to the other? If that is to change, it will take time and grace/space.

I take that as Tim Mora's point to the General Synod: don't assume what conservatives think - ask!

Malcolm

Father Ron Smith said...

"I take that as Tim Mora's point to the General Synod: don't assume what conservatives think - ask!" - Malcolm Falloon -

'What you think, Malcolm, has already been made abundantly clear - for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. The abrupt formation of F.o.C.A.N.Z - a few days before the G.S., gained you and your friends a significantly more organised opposition to Motion 30 than might otherwise have been possible. This is a lesson to the majority of moderates in our Church - Get organised!

Our Church has just two more years to prove it is neither sexist nor homophobic. Sadly, though, we will have missed a great opportunity to prove otherwise in the time since the floating of motion 30. In the meantime, I pray that LGBTQ people will keep the Faith, and still come to Church, in the hope that things might, eventually, change for the better.
"

Father Ron Smith said...

"I think you have really nailed something here. I think adopting AWF basically would have said - "We are a Church that blesses same sex relationships" - Ben

And why should that be any different from the ability to remain in communion with "We are a Church that re-marries divorcees" - a practise that Jesus actually did have problems with, while never saying one thing about same-sex relationhships?


Whether you like it or not Ben, the Church holds different positions on many things. That doesn't mean that we have to throw out toys out of the pram when someone flouts our own particular standards of behaviour. God can cope!
Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners - not to reject them, and we ALL benefit from that gracious provision, whether we know it or not.

carl jacobs said...

The church currently teaches that both homosexual desire and homosexual activity are inherently sinful. Some private individuals assert contrary to church teaching that homosexual desire and homosexual activity are both good. These private individuals want to reverse that reality. They want the church to teach (functionally if not formally) that homosexual desire and homosexual activity are both good. They are willing to allow private individuals to assert contrary to functional church practice that both homosexual desire and homosexual activity are inherently sinful. The fight is over which side controls the functional doctrine & practice of the church. To find a place for two "integrities" you would need church practice to simultaneously declare mutually exclusive positions. You would need:

- one space in which it is possible to bless homosexuality as good, and to sanction those who condemn homosexuality.
- one space in which it is possible to condemn homosexuality as evil and sanction both its practice and its justification.

That can only be accomplished by organizational separation. So long as both sides are demanding functional control of church teaching and practice, there is no organic solution to this argument. Two years or twenty. It won't make any difference.

Perry Butler said...

I believe the C of E moral theologian Oliver O ' Donovan has put forward the idea of " Pastoral accommodation" whereby a blessing or prayer and dedication would be allowed but formularies and authorised liturgy would not alter. This would obviously not satisfy all but is rather similar to the situation in the C of E over the remarriage of divorcees from about 1980 to 7 or 8 yrs ago, and presumably the situation that existed over the licetness of contraception between 1920 and 1958.

Simon said...

Dean of Wellington's message to his cathedral community.
Wise words from the senior priest of Wellington Diocese:
https://www.facebook.com/WellingtonCathedral/posts/1021524477900824?notif_t=like&notif_id=1463123878718635

Brian Kelly said...

"If people want "space" to explore their integrity, there are wide open spaces outside of the Anglican church. Most of our culture today will embrace that integrity....they can pray for and bless whoever they want."

Ben is correct. The 'way forward' for a congregation that disagrees with church doctrine and practice is to leave - with the continued use of the building. There should be no question of evictions and confiscations of property, as have happened all over Canada and the US, causing huge and unnecessary pain to hundreds of thousands of people. If the congregations wish to stay 'episcopal', they should affiliate with The Episcopal Church. After five years or so, they can review the situation and decide whether the Holy Spirit has been leading them.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, on kiwianglo I have just received a comment from David Earle that makes what has happened at General Synod even more devastating for those of us who were hoping for a positive outcome from GS2016 on the issue of S/S Blessings:

"I was just looking in a bit more depth at the report itself and I wonder what it is the self-titled conservatives want to happen in addition to the report. The recommendation of the report was to start a three year process to confirm the changes and bring back to the General Synod in 2018. Which would, I assume, have allowed for minor changes and clarifications. So it sounds like a demand for a total rethink of the approach, or else offering water-tight assurances that can’t be given.

The thing that hasn’t been commented on so much is that this is in effect a delay until at least 2021, as the 2018 General Synod will only be able to approve in principle and it will still have to come back to the next one. And then diocesan synods will need to decide if they support the use of a same sex blessing (assuming that approach survives)."

This means that any substantive move on Same-Sex Blessing would have to wait at least until 2021, if David's summarisation of the process is correct. Can you confirm that David is right in his speculation, please?

If David is correct, then I find this totally unacceptable, and an abuse of due process by a minority in the Church whose intent is to scuttle the whole process!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
With reference to the enquiry on your blog:

I suggest that in the heat of the moment we need to find some cool light on the situation.

The question before the GS was not whether it was ready to vote on a perfect proposal which could not be improved but whether the proposal was as good as we need, to be a church which walks together on these matters.

The GS has judged that the proposal needs reworking if we are to walk together and inevitably that will take time. Sometimes life is like that.

With respect to your correspondents point about watertight assurances not being able to be given, I beg to differ. I think much better assurances could be given that AWF provided for; I also think a better way forward can be found which does not force licensed ministers out of our church because they cannot assent to what they do not believe. AWF going down the formulary route was asking GS to agree to the unassentable!

Now, to the question of "2021". I suggest that if the new working group comes up with an acceptable proposal by 1 July 2017 that would give diocesan synods a good chance to see the new proposal in their late 2017 synods, prior to GS 2018. That could mean that any proposed canonical change could be readily agreed to in 2018. (E.g. to change our understanding of an ordered relationship with respect to ordination and appointment). If a formulary is still proposed then, yes, that would legally take until 2020 plus one year for appeal = 2021 for implementation. BUT ...

There is, potentially, another way forward re a service of blessing, one which takes account of flexibility in our services already agreed to and legally permissible. Without going into details, and taking a punt some liturgists and chancellors might not agree to, I see a way for our church to affirm a service of blessing in 2018. (All this, please understand, on the presupposed basis that goodwill prevails, careful negotiations are conducted, and diocesan synods in 2017 are comfortable with what goes forward to GS 2018).

And, it may be worth remembering, the details of Motion 30 still hold: that some form of recognition for same sex couples may be offered in parishes that have secured the appropriate permission to do so.

Peter Carrell said...

The following comment is from Ron Smith, redacted, with immediate comment from me. (Ron, Please don't use "blackmail" in conjunction with comment on fellow members of our church.)

RON'S COMMENT:

Mr Kelly, you so obviously have no understanding of the situation obtaining here in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia.

However, to set you thinking: Why is it that the two 'Tikanga' in our Church who, culturally, have the most to contend with in Motion 30's proposal to Bless S/S relationships, are those of the Maori and our Pacific Islanders. They, most graciously, wanted the process to actually be admitted.

It was a group of conservative evangelicals of Tikanga Pakeha (Europeans) that gathered immediately prior to GS2016; at a hastily-assembled (Sydney influenced) meeting called FOCANZ, that brought into focus a pressure group that threatened the departure of 4,000 people from our Church if the proposition to Bless Same-Sex Unions were to succeed in General Synod. Where they got that figure from, no-one seems to know.

However, the sad thing is that the Synod Body was adversely influenced by this pressure - to which it eventually succumbed. [Omitted]. Meantime, a great opportunity to prove that ACANZP is no longer affected by sexism and institutional homophobia has been lost.

PETER COMMENTS:

Hi Ron,
In my estimation the number of regular worshippers lost to our church if we do not find a way forward together will be greater than 4000!

You say that number was mentioned as a "threat". I say, suppose conservatives said nothing about leaving; the legislation was passed, and then 4000+ left; would we not be charged with failing to be honest about what might happen, with deceiving our bishops and so forth? Surely in the context of proposed profound change to doctrines of marriage and of ordination, to the nature of our compact together as a diverse church with divided theological commitments, it is a time to speak frankly and robustly, and not to make pretence.

Final question: do gay and lesbian Anglicans seek to be included in our church as it is or in a much shrunken future version?

Let me tell you about that much shrunken future version: it would be an elderly church with very few youth and young families and much anxiety about its own survival.

Brendan McNeill said...

I wonder if the failure of the WFWG’s report to gain acceptance for the marriage blessing of those with alternative sexual orientation was because it lacked sufficient inclusivity. Notable by its exclusion was any reference to the transgendered. This small and highly marginalized group continues to be ignored by the Church and it is to their credit they have chosen to suffer in silence, rather than to complain.

By our language we have chosen to exclude them from recognition and any reasonable hope of marital blessing by our Church. Furthermore, we have perhaps unwittingly, marginalized them still further by insisting they use bathrooms that do not conform to their gender identity.

Peter do you think it might be possible over the next two years to instruct the working group to address these obvious anomalies, to use more inclusive language in the formulation of blessings and take a more enlightened approach to gender identity when it comes to the choice of bathrooms for the transgendered?

Otherwise we risk only going part way towards addressing the issues of sexual orientation and gender that now occupy our culture, and extending still further the pain and suffering of the most marginalized in our midst.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Brendan
As you know I am always hopeful that reasonable concerns expressed in a reasonable manner will be considered carefully by working groups composed of reasonable persons.

PS There is no discrimination of any kind in my personal household: we only have one loo!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Then that must make you both a conservative and a progressive. Conservative in the number of bathrooms provisioned, and progressive in their shared use.

While my post was somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’, it is the obvious natural progression of the conversations we will be having in the church if we seek to accommodate the mores of our post-Christian cultural narrative.

There will be no end of sexual and gender ‘novelties’ we will be required to bless and to distract us in this space for years to come.

Ben is on the right track. Let those so inclined move on with their ‘fresh expressions’ without feeling the need to make us all bless them. What did Jesus say about a house divided against itself?

Two integrities are no more than a transition point in a long march towards a new single integrity.

Brian Kelly said...

"Mr Kelly, you so obviously have no understanding of the situation obtaining here in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia...."

Ron, if you fell the need to comment (instead of praying for me in my darkness), a couple of words of gentle advice.
First, if insist on distancing forms of address (I prefer informality), it's 'Dr Kelly' - think of Dr Evil in 'Austin Powers'.
Second, if you begin by proclaiming that another person is ignorant, don't be surprised if you diminish his goodwill. A bit of Christian politeness goes a long way. I am quite aware that the Maori tikanga is numerically very small and that if Maori go to church, it's more likely to be something like Destiny Church or the Methodists.

Craig Liken said...

Hi Peter,

I'm not sure I entirely agree with your latest update. It isn't the conservatives who are seeking to radically change the doctrine and practice of the church, so I'm not quite sure why we need to come up with a solution.

Personally I think the solution is a relatively obvious one and has been alluded to in some of the comments above - and that is a split.

Brian Kelly said...

Craig is correct. All the demand for change in the doctrine of marriage has come from the liberal or revisionist wings but they have not persuaded the rest. It is NOT up to the biblically and historically orthodox to leave, as Peter wrongly asserts above. Instead, liberal churches like St Matthew's in the City should now be allowed to leave WITH THE CONTINUED USE OF THEIR PROPERTY and, if they wish to stay Anglican, to come under TEC or something similar. If the Holy Spirit is really guiding them, as they claim, this will be apparent in five years or so.
As for tikanga Maori and tikanga Pasifika - the sad truth is these are only shells of 'churches'.

Father Ron Smith said...

I want to thank you, Peter, for the balanced way in which you have presented the story on this thread, on the subject of Same-Sex blessings. I take note of your final statement about the reality of the current situation:

"The majority of the GS (two tikanga out of three) want our church to be able to bless same-sex partnerships. Conservatives on blessings cannot think ACANZP will not permit blessing of same-sex partnerships, they/we must think about the circumstances of that permission which we can abide by."

Certainly, Peter, the fact that the 2 Tikanga that might have been thought to have raised objection to the idea of S/S Blessings - both Maori and Pasifika; on cultural grounds - have graciously indicated their desire to proceed with this facility in our Church. That makes me even more hopeful that there will be eventual agreement, by both progressive and conservative Anglicans here, to find an equable 'Way Forward' on this issue.

I honour your offer not to post on this subject for a while. I too, am more than exhausted by the combative nature of the conversation and apologise for any personal hurt caused by me to you, personally and to others on your blog
,
"Come, Holy Spirit, re-kindle within your Faithful the fire of God's love, through the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Craig and Brian,
I assess the weight of numbers in our church as weighing towards change to (at least) permit SSB (if not to also change formally doctrinal words re marriage): that weight is both two tikanga clearly supporting moving forward to one in anguish, as well as the weight inside Tikanga Pakeha being four dioceses to three, and within two of those dioceses perhaps the weighting is 50:50 re change or not change.

I am suggesting that conservatives need to come up with a plan because my reading of the Taonga report is that conservatives at GS recognised (1) that SSB is what the majority of our church wants, but (2) requested better "protection" for those who do not want them. Since the majority at this time is heeding the minority I suggest it is responsible of the minority to offer thoughts on (2) which will enable a way forward to be found. An unwillingness to see (2) through in the light of (1) does logically imply departure.

In my own estimation there are conservatives who will leave when (1) prevails, no matter what happens re (2); and there are conservatives keen to find an effective (2) in order to stay.

It is deprecatory, Brian, to talk about Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasefika being shells of churches. By all means call them "small" because that is accurate. However, no matter what their statistical size, within the polity of ACANZP, being small in size makes no difference to the equal power of each tikanga to veto legislation.

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Ron for your Pentecostal charity and humbleness!

Father Ron Smith said...

Wise words From +Kelvin, Bishop of Dunedin - for ALL OF US

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Craig and Brian

If it were a question of theological orthodoxy then you are correct, it is the heretics that should leave. But as Peter has just pointed out it’s a numbers game. This has reduced it to a question of politics.

The politics are being framed in this way. The progressives are on the side of compassion and justice, the conservatives are on the side of hatred and bigotry. Or, as Professor Chris Marshall framed it at a recent meeting on the subject, Conservatives are weak in their faith, Progressives are strong in their faith. Conservatives are prone to judgementalism, Progressives are prone to condescension.

Judgmentalism is a failing of the ignorant, whereas condescension is a failing of the knowledgeable.

In the middle are those without strong convictions. These are the ones who are easily swayed to the side of ‘love and compassion’. As we all know ‘love wins’ right?

When it comes to matters of faith and practice, it appears that politics is about to trump theology in the Anglican Church. To lose the debate to politics in the wider culture is one thing, to lose it in the Church is something else again.

Brian Kelly said...

"It is deprecatory, Brian, to talk about Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasefika being shells of churches."

A 'shell' means a 'sizeable structure that is largely empty'. Others might call them 'Potemkin churches', but the structures are not fraudulent, just overblown and top-heavy for the small numbers and the actual regular congregational life in these 'dioceses'. Have Maori and Pacific Islanders largely turned their backs on Anglicanism? Some statistics would help, but NZ Anglicanism is allergic to facing the numerical facts. I am reminded of two tiny but liberal'provinces' in the Anglican Communion, the Scottish Episcopal Church (uSa 15,000?) and the Church in Wales (uSa 20,000?). They have the structures - and face extinction in twenty years. I agree with Brendan that you see things now as a matter of politics and numbers, not what the Word of God says to the Church of God.
This has always been a VERY BAD way of doing theology, and all the more so in a place like New Zealand where the majority of the population for the first time since c. 1860 are now not Christians.
In the end, you assimilate to the dominant (but unbelieving) culture - as Nordic Lutheranism is doing - or you resist, as great personal cost and anguish, as Elijah did. He despaired that he had failed (despite the demonstration of divine power on Mount Carmel), only to be told there are 7,000 in Israel who haven't bent the knee to Baal. 7,000 in c. 860 BC was very far a majority of the population. Do you think Elijah should have realised the ball was in his court and come up with a new proposal?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Brian

You are correct, Peter would have us ‘come up with a plan’. I cannot help but feel this is the same offer the US Government gave to the indigenous Indians who were as we know the first peoples of America. The Government’s plan was to sequester them on reservations and out of mainstream American life and out of the public consciousness.

We know how well that worked out for them.

Speaking personally, I’m not interested in the politics, nor am I interested in offering up a plan for the segregation and marginalisation of those who hold to an orthodox understanding of Scripture, faith and practice within the Anglican Church.

I am increasingly attracted to the ‘Benedict Option’ as out lined by writer and columnist Rod Dreher as a response to the collapse of orthodox Christianity both within the public square of culture, and also, sadly within the Anglican Church.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/benedict-option-faq/

Peter is correct however in estimating that there are 4,000+ Anglicans who will quietly allow the progressive liberals within the Church to enjoy a pyrrhic victory on the matter of gay marriage and Church blessings, and who will walk out the door with their children and grandchildren never to return.

Today we celebrated Pentecost and the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church. There were candles, cake, Scripture readings, worship, communion and prayers.

May the Holy Spirit of Pentecost convict us once again of sin and righteousness and judgement to come. May he impart to us the courage to pursue holiness without which none of us will see the Lord.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Polynesian Anglicanism has never been a strong church (Methodism is much stronger, as you know, in the islands) so it's current strength is more likely a sign it will continue well into the future than that it will be gone in twenty years. Numerically the Maori Anglican Church is in a more precarious state but not one in my estimation which deserves the term "Potemkin."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
You are jumping to conclusions!

Please remember that I am working from the Taonga article and the signs and signals given by conservatives in that article.
Perhaps you could ask the conservatives quoted there is they mean something other than that which I am logically working from.

The plan I have in mind - to be revealed when I resume posting on these matters, and being developed as I learn more about the internal dynamics of the synod - would be no Pyrrhic victory for liberals and impediment to conservative Anglicans growing in strength.

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter

With the greatest respect, there is no way to forge a union between these two opinions, or as it has been erroneously framed, ‘two integrities’. The Christian Church is not a political construct; it is the Church of the Living God.

There is a battle underway for the soul of the Anglican institution, and I have to say that for those with orthodox theology, the outlook is not encouraging. Those who are prepared to politic will eventually win this battle because politics is their dominion. Those who are more interested in contending for the faith that has been handed down to us realise that this is not where the real battle lies.

The liberals can have the institution, and like the American Whitehouse celebrate by clothing it in rainbow colours.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Oliver O'Donovan is, not for the first time, the wisest and most erudite voice in the room. Anyone who has slogged through the agitprop on both sides should really treat oneself to his clear analysis here--

https://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/the-wreck-of-catholic-identity-marriage-canon-revision-in-the-scottish-episcopal-church/

In this space, I can only add to it this one thought about negotiation: next time, jointly seek open discussion of a concrete common problem to which both sides jointly seek the best solution. Polarised discussion of one side's already defined outcome seldom leads to a productive negotiation. Ceteris paribus, a side starting a negotiation with an ultimatum (a) creates an insurmountable trust problem, and (b) learns the hard way that it cannot conduct a negotiation with itself and then sell the other side on that result.

With respect to SSB, LG activists have for several years discussed lobbying churches for it as a substitute for SSM that evangelicals would find acceptable. (Readers may recall such reasoning from a very thoughtful page of talking points for SSB created by a group in TEC.) Thus, although few if any evangelicals actually endorsed the idea at that stage, a myth was then born that SSB is the compromise alternative that evangelicals would inevitably accept over SSM.

As it has turned out, liberals have not understood evangelicals well enough to represent them in negotiations. In Professor O'Donovan's article, the reader will notice that the Scottish counterpart to the WFWG, in its tortuous search for a rationale, failed to engage the strongest variants of the actual arguments of actual constituencies in their church. One might also say the same about AWF and even about the thoughtful and irenic Canadian report. Real evangelicals in all of these churches have said *no* to SSB for reasons that are consistent from church to church, but are not recognised in their official reports.

To save the myth, some would move the goal from agreement on SSB to agreement on Two Integrities (2I). This is yet another example of liberals representing evangelicals in some hypothetical negotiations with themselves. But there is no evidence that either liberals or evangelicals can actually stomach living with 2I. To the contrary, the TEC and CoE experience of 2I with respect to the ordination of women shows pretty clearly that liberals find it as unintelligible as evangelicals.

This is because 2I threatens to shred whatever ecclesiological coherence a church still has. Christ's mission, and that of the Church, is the reconciliation of all to all (2 Cor 5:17-21). As Christ's left hand does not undo the work of his right hand, so too the *totus Christus* is intrinsically indivisible. The incompatibility of a way of life with that of the Church is a sign. Belief in 2I is error; promotion of 2I is heresy; practice of 2I is possibly worse than schism. Or at least that is the way TEC liberals have seen it when they have routinely deposed departing traditionalists from holy orders. I pray that nothing so vicious ever happens in ACANZP.

Forget SSB; start from scratch. A more useful discussion might take up the challenges of homosexual Christians trying to live their faith in a church that is divided on several theological questions upstream of a pastoral response to homosexuality. Such a negotiation without preconditions has several novel and attractive features.

(a) It does not make promises that cannot be kept.

(b) It does not set either side up to fail from the outset.

(c) It does not give either side the pleasure of misrepresenting either the other.

(d) It brings our common tradition into view.

And best of all--

(d) It can summon the Church to do for gay Christians several things that can be done now (eg for the young) without resort to unlikely changes of doctrine.

Bowman Walton

Brian Kelly said...

I had wondered why TEC claimed to depose from Holy Orders those who had left it. I was appalled to discover it was in order to reduce their pensions, since lay employees received smaller pensions than clergy.
I defy ANYONE - even the most ardent supporter of Tec - to say that this is a Christian or just way of behaving.
It is theft, pure and simple.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I am all for conducting conversation between all parties in a way which secures a happy outcome, not predetermined by any one party. It is, as you realise, a moot point whether we could enter a fresh post-GS 2016 conversation.

You almost persuade me re the inadequacy of "2I" but you do say, "practice of 2I is possibly worse than schism". I would argue re "possibly worse" that it could be "possibly better", with a special proviso that in a small church in a small set of islands, it could even be argued "probably better"!

Brendan McNeill said...

Thank you Bowman for your constructive commentary, and also for the link to Professor Oliver O’Donovan’s article. I welcome your analysis of 2i and the recognition of its promotion as heresy. I was unsurprised to learn that TEC has dispossessed departing traditionalists from holy orders, for reasons I will come to in a moment.

If I may summarize where I believe we are at present. Having read post Synod comments from the Bishops of Dunedin and Wellington, I conclude that to varying degrees, both are advocates of SSB and the liberal narrative. I have not seen articles from other Bishops with a more conservative view, so that leads me to conclude that at best our Bishops are divided on this matter, or they are firmly on the side of SSB/SSM. Either way, there will be little or no push back from them.

When it comes to our theologians I can only reflect upon Peter’s position. On the one hand he is forthright about homosexual practice always being sinful. On the other hand, he seeks to find accommodation for the blessing of these (sinful) practices within the Anglican Church. Just how these contradictory positions can be reconciled in his mind is unclear, but it tells me that there will be no push back against this heresy from Peter either.

As with all insurgencies, there is much talk on the need for unity, and much striving to achieve these goals while the battle is taking place. However, once victory is achieved the heresy trials will begin.

It is inconceivable that within an Anglican Church that has embraced SSB, practicing clergy will be able to hold, let alone espouse views that are considered to be discriminatory and ‘culturally unsafe’.

I imagine this reality is what prompted the formation of the Confessing Anglicans of New Zealand or FCANZ. They have long understood what I have been slow to realize.

Peter Carrell said...

The heresy trials have already begun, Brendan.
And on this thread.
And it is not you in the dock :)

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter

If I have misrepresented your (apparent) contradictory position on SSB within the Anglican Church, or the published statements of the Bishops of Wellington and Dunedin, I would welcome your setting the matter straight.

I’m not beyond apologizing if I have misrepresented you or them.

Peter Carrell said...

I haven't said that anyone in the dock is going to be found innocent, Brendan!

I have followed +Kelvin's comments on his blog and I think his position is very, very clear. I quickly read what +Justin wrote and am not clear in my mind exactly what his position is.

As for my own position, I do not think you "misrepresent" me so much as fail to understand how our church might hold two contradictory positions, between its corporate permissiveness and its individuals' belief systems.

Let me attempt to give a couple of examples:

Our church permits the addition of words to the eucharistic prayer which are drawn from the Roman Mass. Some Anglicans in ACANZP are deeply opposed to that, believe such additions are contrary to the spirit if not to the letter of our constitution and formularies, and yet find they can hang on as members of ACANZP.

Our church permits the remarriage of divorcees without prescribing under which circumstances a divorcee might be remarried or might not be remarried. This position more or less, incidentally, mirrors the legal understanding of divorce in relation to remarriage in this country (cultural accommodation?). Some Anglicans in ACANZP find this approach to be deeply contrary to the much more precise teaching of the gospels and epistles about the few circumstances under which Christians might approve the remarriage of a divorcee, and yet they can hang on as members of ACANZP.

To be clear(er) about my own position. I believe I could assent to the teaching of this church if it permitted its ministers to conduct the blessing of a same sex partnership (i.e. as an exercise of their conscience as interpreters of Scripture). My ability to assent to the teaching of this church would be under the severest of pressures if any let alone all of the following were to be part of the future resolution of the matter:
- removal of gender distinction within the formal description of our doctrine of marriage;
- formal expression within the written teaching of our church that collectively we believe that God blesses same-sex relationships which are akin to marriage;
- any sense of compulsion or prescription re acceptance of future applicants for ordination or licensed appointment being contingent on adhering to a "party line" in favour of SSB.

Father Ron Smith said...

I've just looked up the on-line provenance of your contributor, Brian Kelly, who list himself as providing:"Maunderings on theology, philosophy and the classics".

I just looked up 'Maunder' in the O.E.D. The explanation:

'Maunder' - "to move, talk, or act in a rambling manner.

LOL; Message received and understood.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I will, as Moderator, permit your humourous poke, but speaking for myself I have always found Brian's comments here very precise, pointed and pertinent- the opposite of "rambling"!

Anonymous said...

Fr Ron, you seem to be saying that you needed to look up a word that Brian did not :)

Nick

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thanks for the clarification of your position. I would like to avoid for now at least, dragging the vexed question of divorce and remarriage into this discussion. I can see how sincere Christians can agree to disagree on this matter, the teaching of Jesus on divorcees who fail the adultery test not withstanding.

But to your own position on SSB, how do you reconcile the fact that once it becomes a defacto standard within the Anglican Church, albeit absent ‘formal expression’, there will be a considerable exodus of orthodox Christians and their families.

I can only assume you find this exodus to be ‘acceptable collateral damage’ given the gains to be made for those in same sex (and sinful by your definition) relationships?

Furthermore, how realistic is it to expect that future applications for ordination or licensed appointment will not feel the need to pass the SSB litmus test? Do you think it is realistic to expect aspiring clergy who hold orthodox views on homosexuality to be able to express those views publically and still live in the hope of appointment to any parish in (say) Dunedin, or elsewhere when the Bishop’s liberal position on SSB is clearly known?

Will you derive any comfort from being in a Church that has effectively achieved by defacto means what it could never hope to achieve through formal expression – at least for the time being?

The last point is pertinent because as conservative Christians leave with their families, it will become much easier to coopt Synod into accepting the ‘formalities’ that today could never hope to pass. In this way you have unwittingly created an environment for the future realization of what today you consider to be unthinkable.

This must surely be the logical outcome of your position.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I find the departure of any Anglican over these matters to be unacceptable "collateral damage".
I am very sorry to find you wilfully misinterpreting my attempts here to chart a way which does not lead to Anglicans departing.
The very point of what I am trying to chart here is a possible way that might hold conservatives and liberals and all in between together, with the added point that it might be a way we actually agree to. If it is not going to do that, to neither hold us together nor to be agreeable, then, please, let us have a better way.
You are also misinterpreting/misunderstanding me when you talk about my way as becoming "a defacto standard" within the Anglican church. On my way forward I would envisage a few blessings taking place each year in a few parishes. It is hardly charting out a "standard" not least because, on my proposal there would be no change to the de jure standard of marriage between a man and a woman, and no change to the church's selection procedures for men and women offering for ordination or for appointment to licensed positions.
Lest I misinterpret you, are you saying that the better way (than mine) is the way which (a) means no conservatives leave (but maybe others will), (b) means we will remain as a church in turmoil and conflict, especially everytime GS meets, for years to come?
I ask this because I do not see the majority support for SSB in our church shrinking significantly anytime soon, nor do I see those supporters at GS giving up on their aim anytime soon, so I fear that conservative proposals which do not contain some element of accommodation/compromise will mean a lot of hard conflict for many years to come.
Please help me understand the better way forward in this ACANZP context!

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

To be clear, I’m not claiming that you are directly ‘advocating’ for departures from the church, I’m simply pointing out something you have already stated; there will be departures should SSB be recognized and given practical effect by the Church. By advocating we make space for SSB as you do, then by default you are acknowledging that people will leave.

This is the inescapable practical effect of your advocacy.

Now to be fair to you, people will leave the Church if SSB is not implemented. What you are doing by advocating for SSB is determining which group will leave and which group will stay. I’d have thought that was both a fair and obvious assessment.

You say SSB would not be de jure but if same sex couples are able to obtain a ‘blessing’ on their relationship at a parish within the Anglican Church from an ordained minister with the approval of their Bishop, then surely your point is no more than a technical irrelevance.

What do I see as a way forward?

Well, as others have proffered, the innovators should be allowed to leave and take their property and pensions with them. They could affiliate with TEC or any other communion who shares their perspective.

This does them no injustice, and removes the contention from the wider Anglican communion.

This way forward is non-coercive, involves no compromise, and protects the consciences of everyone.

Generally speaking, where there are conflicting views upon matters of faith and practice, it is right to examine and discuss them, to allow time for a considered response. However, when it is clear that there can be no realistic accommodation then a gracious parting of the ways is the only workable option.

There is no shame in this. Even the apostles had a parting of the ways at times. Should it be surprising that 2,000 years later we might also? Why not give everyone what they want and we can all move forward without acrimony?

If when we meet the Lord face to face, he smiles wryly and says guys, this was no big deal and you parted ways over a gnat, then I guess with some embarrassment I/we can live with that outcome. On the other hand, if this is a precursor to the separation of the sheep and the goats then nothing is lost by starting the process early.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I think you are failing to distinguish multiple groups in our church!
1. Agreed, there are conservatives who will leave if SSB in any way shape or form is permitted or promulgated.
2. There are conservatives who will not leave if SSB is permitted in a certain way (e.g. I do not see in the Synod reports anything which indicates that the Diocese of Nelson is planning on secession).
[My own sense, on my proposal is that 2 is a much larger group than 1].
3. There are gay and lesbian Anglicans who have already left, are leaving this week or will soon leave because of prevarication and inconsistency on the part of GS (see, e.g., the Mark Henrickson article I have linked to at the bottom of this post), and, presumably there will be some supporters of the same who are or are contemplating leaving.
4. There could be a group of clergy and laity, whole parishes in fact, which would look to realign with (say) TEC in the event of "intransigence"/"sticking with the status quo" on the part of GS in 2018 (though, as far as I know, no one has actually gone on record to say that this is their thinking).
5. We should not overlook the folk (to the right and to the left) who are refusing to join ACANZP while this matter remains undetermined.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Yes, I do accept that there is a continuum of convictions on SSB within the Church, ranging from those at each end of the spectrum with perhaps with a larger group in the middle.

I have reflected a good deal upon this ‘group in the middle’ as they exist both inside and outside the Church. I have concluded that there is a good deal to be said for the ‘strong man’ theory, in as much as this middle group will ultimately align with the side they perceive to be winning or in ascendency.

Culturally the pull is towards the recognition and normalization of same sex relationships.

Absent the theological, all you are left with is the sociological and this is why I’m not optimistic about the present trajectory of the Anglican Church for those of us with a conservative disposition. If there is no separation the Anglican Church will embrace SSB, become a different church, and ultimately embrace SSM. Effectively there is no practical difference between the two, and the embrace of SSM would simply become an ‘overdue’ technical realignment – a recognition of what already exists.

Separation would be the most painful for the group in the middle, as they would be forced to choose, and most likely have friends on either side of the spectrum. It would also force clergy to ‘come out’ and declare their position, especially those who have not done so publically at this time.

It would also have implications for Bishops who may see their parishes evenly or disproportionately divided. This may result in their being two Bishops, one presiding over those who ‘stay’ and the other over those who ‘go’ and becoming part of a different communion.

But if you think separation is messy, try attempts at accommodation. How long has this dragged on for now, and is the end realistically in sight?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I am actually optimistic that the end of this particular challenge will be in sight in May 2018.
There are many other challenges our church faces re ageing, declining, accommodating surrounding culture, acting missionally, preaching a gospel which connects with unbelievers which will not at all end by May 2018 (unless the Lord returns before then).
To be frank, I don't think our arguments re SSB/SSM make that much difference to facing those other challenges! They are pretty big, and certainly absorb more time and energy than all but a few Anglicans are putting into SSB/SSM.

Father Ron Smith said...

Brendan

Having arrived into ACANZP (on your own admission, earlier, after taking a break from your own House Church situation - in which you were the Leader); it must be very difficult for you to understand the episcopal and synodical tradition of the Anglican Church in different places around the world, of which our Church is one of many seeking to right the wrongs of institutional sexism and homophobia.

Having now understood you to have believed in that sort of treatment of woman and gay people in your very own Church, it is difficult for me to see why you would have moved into ACANZP - unless you discerned the particular community to which you have now committed yourself as being radically different from mainstream New Zealand Anglicans who, generally (after serving them as a priest during the last 35 years) I have found to be very open to new understanding of the Bible, and its need of reinterpretation for the needs of our world of today.

Having been a Leader of a House Church, however, might also have given you the wrong understanding about how things work out in the larger setting of a national Church, having roots in the Church of England, that seeks to accept the need of constant reformation in a world different from that of the early Church, the Mediaeval Church, and the 16th century Reformesd/Catholic Church

I'm sure the Church Leaders of Jesus' day found his reforming zeal to be very disturbing - flouting the LAW and ministering to all sorts of outsidersd - and for that He was Crucified. Jesus saw what was needed to be done, and instituted a Way Forward - not unlike the one our Church is now attempting to do - a Church of Mercy overcoming the unloving Rule of Law.

Why, even the early 20thC ex-African slaves in the Deep South of America knew all about that - even if only from the chorus in 'Porgy and Bess:

"Da t'ings dat yo' li'ble ta read in da Bible - it ain't necessarily so"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
One of the "rules" of my moderation is that we do not here call each other out with terms such as "homophobia" or "homophobic" which can be very loaded, judgmental and presumptive, and not at all accurate descriptors when responding to comments here which effectively and merely reproduces traditional teaching of the church. I can scarcely publish comments here which call one billion Roman Catholics out as homophobes! Unfortunately the comment you have just submitted veers in that direction so I am redacting it a little.
Peter

FROM RON

Brendan

Having arrived into ACANZP (on your own admission, earlier, after taking a break from your own House Church situation - in which you were the Leader); it must be very difficult for you to understand the episcopal and synodical tradition of the Anglican Church in different places around the world, of which our Church is one of many seeking to right the wrongs of institutional sexism and homophobia.

Having now [read in many comments what you believe the Bible to teach about homosexuality], it is difficult for me to see why you would have moved into ACANZP - unless you discerned the particular community to which you have now committed yourself as being radically different from mainstream New Zealand Anglicans who, generally (after serving them as a priest during the last 35 years) I have found to be very open to new understanding of the Bible, and its need of reinterpretation for the needs of our world of today.

Having been a Leader of a House Church, however, might also have given you the wrong understanding about how things work out in the larger setting of a national Church, having roots in the Church of England, that seeks to accept the need of constant reformation in a world different from that of the early Church, the Mediaeval Church, and the 16th century Reformesd/Catholic Church

I'm sure the Church Leaders of Jesus' day found his reforming zeal to be very disturbing - flouting the LAW and ministering to all sorts of outsidersd - and for that He was Crucified. Jesus saw what was needed to be done, and instituted a Way Forward - not unlike the one our Church is now attempting to do - a Church of Mercy overcoming the unloving Rule of Law.

Why, even the early 20thC ex-African slaves in the Deep South of America knew all about that - even if only from the chorus in 'Porgy and Bess:

"Da t'ings dat yo' li'ble ta read in da Bible - it ain't necessarily so"

Father Ron Smith said...

"If when we meet the Lord face to face, he smiles wryly and says guys, this was no big deal and you parted ways over a gnat, then I guess with some embarrassment I/we can live with that outcome. On the other hand, if this is a precursor to the separation of the sheep and the goats then nothing is lost by starting the process early." - Brendan McNeill -

It is obvious, from your comments, Brendan, on this thread and others, that you don't know many Anglicans. It may be that the ones you have met so far are unhappy with the Gay situation, but I can tell you that they are far outnumbered by those who say: "What's all the fuss about. Isn't Gay Marriage better that Gay Promiscuity?" (Not unlike their view of heterosexual Marriage)

If you think that most Anglicans will not just stay where they are, trusting that God is in the scheme being processed by the Church to enable Christians who happen to be Gay to be respected and fully accepted by our Church; i think you are gravely mistaken. However, no-one would be more happy than I, for you to be able to find a whole congregations of Anglicans that think as you do (maybe you have already found one), and with whom you can continue to practise your conservative brand of belief. In the meantime, most of us more liberal and stolid Anglicans will have moved on, in our Church, receiving the Sacraments of Christ, seeking justice wherever it is lacking and struggling for holiness - preaching the good News of Christ's Resurrection power over Sin and Death - to ALL who look for the grace of Salvation in and through our Saviour, Jesus Christ,

"But we make his love too narrow, by false limits of our own;
And we magnifly his strictness with a zeal (God) will not own" (EH 461)
There will, probably be those who want to begin their own new denomination, based on biblical literalism. I'm sure no-one will try to stop them. Oneonly hopes they find peace and comfort in that. Blessings, Fr. Ron

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Fr Ron

Can you please explain where you find my posts to be in breach of Anglican Church teaching and doctrine? And, if you can find no fault, then your (partially redacted) concern is difficult to comprehend, especially from someone who has spent 35 years in the ministry, don’t you think?

I also want to acknowledge your repeated and abiding concern about my Church background. It’s true, I wasn’t born an Anglican – no one told me it was a prerequisite.

The good news is that my vicar appears unfazed by my suspect provenance, my orthodox views on human sexuality, Scripture, theology and SSB.

Perhaps you could learn something from his tolerance?

Father Ron Smith said...

Tolerance, perhaps, Brendan, of your intolerance?

I don't think many gays would recognise that as real 'tolerance'. Have you thought that perhaps your Vicar shares your prejudice. That may be why you are thinking most Anglicans think as you do. Not your fault, then!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I apologise in advance for playing the blog policeman, but I think Fr Ron really needs to leave Brendan's vicar out of this. It seems to me that Fr Ron crosses the line yet again.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron and Nick
Thank you Nick - you are right!

Ron: it is quite inappropriate to start commenting "ad hominem" on a person who is not actually commenting on this blog and who has not been identified publicly by name/by views.

By all means comment on the Donald Trumps of this world ... who have no non-public thoughts!

Brian Dawson said...

Hi Peter, I have left a couple of comments here but they seem to have disappeared into the ether.
I will choose not to get into many of the details noted above. I do however want to make a point about the use of the term "orthodox". It is notable that conservative Anglicans have adopted this term in recent years. I can only speculate as to why. If, however, the implication is that those opposed to same-sex blessings or the ordination of those in same-sex relationships are somehow championing the traditions of our church I must object. As you and others know, for many, many decades clergy in same-sex relationships were ordained in this church, and for some decades some clergy offered blessings for those in same-sex relationships. In the early 90s a priest who would later be archbishop was even involved in the formulation of a liturgy adopted for that use by the wider church. It has only been in the past 20 years or less that everyone has retreated to their separate corners. I won't go into my theories as to why that is, but I do not believe it can be reduced to a simple matter of 'orthodoxy'.
Pax
Brian

Malcolm Falloon said...

Dear Brian,

We do come up against the limitation of language when it comes to the terms and phrases we adopt to describe our positions. However, I feel it is important to allow a certain latitude of language to enable people to express their viewpoint and not to be inadvertently silenced. "Seeing things their way" is a principle of good listening and one that I am thankful our General Synod was prepared to indulge.

Why are conservatives using the term "orthodox" more frequently in recent years (or the term "conservative" for that matter)? Your suggestion that it is intended to imply a championing of church tradition seems well wide of the mark to me.

Malcolm

Brian Dawson said...

So why is it then Malcom? I believe I am orthodox in my faith and theology also. I agree that terminology is difficult, but why this term rather than another?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Brian

I guess conservatives like myself use the word ‘orthodox’ because it refers to the traditional or generally understood precepts of faith and practice within the Church. Your example citing the ordination clergy in same sex relationships could be considered an exceptional practice in the light of Church history, and therefore ‘unorthodox’ by definition.

But I agree with Malcolm, all language contains limitations.

On a related matter, reading the NY Times today I note that Ross Dothat quotes Fredrik deBour a left leaning commentator who framed America’s political and culture wars debate as follows:

“What do you owe to people who are guilty of being wrong?”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/opinion/sunday/when-the-wrong-are-right.html?_r=0

Translating that into our own context, as liberal theologian Chris Marshall lectured us recently, those who hold conservative views are by definition ‘weak in their faith’ and ‘prone to be judgemental’. Or put less politely (if that were polite) we are guilty of being wrong.

Once this matter is settled in favour of SSB, what place if any is left for those who in all conscience cannot agree? Guilty of being wrong, what can we look forward to besides gulags and re-education classes?

Ok, so I exaggerated about the gulags.

But the point remains. Will error have any rights in the new era of SSB within the Anglican church? What will that brave new world look like for conservatives under the new orthodoxy?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
(I will leave "orthodox" discussion to those already commenting).
It strikes me that you are presuming that the only way ACANZP could decided for SSB is a way in which a new orthodoxy emerges in which one must believe SSB is okay.
But the point of Motion 30, of AWF, and of my many posts here is a search for a way for SSB which does not impose a new orthodoxy about what one must believe re SSB.
The issue is how SSB might be permitted not how it might be prescribed.
Of course one cannot rule out the gulags eventually: no one in 1917 in Moscow foresaw Stalinism in the 1930s. But we do seem to be a long way from ACANZP being Russia in 1917.
Ditto, re culture wars in the USA, there are vestiges of them here in NZ, but in a 100 ways we are not the USA, never have been and never will be.

Brian Kelly said...

Brian Dawson writes:
"I do however want to make a point about the use of the term "orthodox". It is notable that conservative Anglicans have adopted this term in recent years. I can only speculate as to why."

As we all can. My 2 cents' worth is that the word 'conservative' is freighted with political and emotional or attitudinal connotations (as is the word 'liberal'), some not helpful to our cause. If I call my outlook 'conservationist' rather than conservative, that gives a truer picture of what matters to me: conserving what is true, good and proven and protecting it from destruction. The ecological comparison is deliberate. Who would *not want to be a conservationist? It is for exactly the same reason that I refer to theological innovation as "revisionism" rather than "liberalism" - because "liberal" has political and personal connotations (some I would like to apply to myself, e.g. a love of free speech, free association and other traditional Protestant values, or personal generosity - well, maybe there I fail).
But the word 'orthodox' is perfectly fine and refers to historically agreed and affirmed definitions of theological *truth*. The Christological background to the term and its use among Eastern Christians makes this clear. 'Unorthodox' means dissent from these definitions (e.g. Socinianism, Neo-Arianism) and is perfectly fair as a word.

"If, however, the implication is that those opposed to same-sex blessings or the ordination of those in same-sex relationships are somehow championing the traditions of our church I must object. As you and others know, for many, many decades clergy in same-sex relationships were ordained in this church, and for some decades some clergy offered blessings for those in same-sex relationships."

You misunderstand the meaning of "traditions" unless you are using the word descriptively of episcopally-tolerated behaviour rather than theologically affirmed discipline. I remember a former Anglican vicar (now an Orthodox priest) telling me many years ago that the de facto religion of most Anglican vestries was Freemasonry, not Christianity. The fact that 'don't ask, don't tell' prevailed for decades in Western Anglicanism only tells us that a blind eye was turned on homosexual behaviour, as it was in society at large in the 1970s. There were heterodox bishops then as now, denying the virginal conception of the Lord and His bodily resurrection, and they privately followed their own convictions, using the political powers of their office to ordain whom they wished, provided their relationships were 'discreet' (i.e., not widely known). If that is a "tradition of our church", then so too is the endemic corruption of the Church of South India, of which George Conger and Kevin Kallesen had a lot to say on the most recent 'Anglican Unscripted' (#229).
Whoever wields the sword of "tradition" may discover it is double-edged and cut himself on it.

Brian Kelly said...

"Ditto, re culture wars in the USA, there are vestiges of them here in NZ, but in a 100 ways we are not the USA, never have been and never will be."

I wish I shared your confidence - but the horrific influence of American culture is everywhere in the world through social media and Hollywood. The Chinese and the Iranians understand this and don't want it, neither do the Russians.

Richard said...

Knowing Chris Marshall, and despite disagreeing with him about a few things (not least his view of Romans 14 and what we should consider adiaphora), I'm not sure its really fair to describe him as a "liberal" theologian. That's casting a label upon him which he would never claim for himself and doesn't really fit his own views in my experience having been taught by him. What he means by "weak" and "strong" in that case needs to be understood within the parameters of his discussion of Romans 14.

Those of us who are rightly or wrongly deemed to be "conservative" on an issue like Motion 30 don't help ourselves when we throw around pejorative or inaccurate labels. One of the things I don't enjoy about our wider Anglican life and something I think EVERYONE needs to repent of is the tendency for us to gossip, mislabel and insult others or employ rhetoric for dubious means. Paul is equally worried about such tendencies in the church in Corinth as he was about their toleration and laxity regarding sexual immorality.

In terms of the discussion about same sex blessings and all the ways in which the arguments are being cast by those on both sides of the debate (e.g justice verses compromised unity, orthodoxy verses scriptural novelty etc), maybe we should also give more attention to what the function of unity and our common life together as a church (local, national and global) should look like not least in the way we manage disagreement and function politically. My sense is that if the whole church read the New Testament epistles more seriously and carefully with attention to such matters we would probably all have cause for repentance in the way we behave towards one another and what this looks like to the rest of the world. 2 Corinthians and Revelations 1-3 come to mind in particular...

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

I believe you when you say you are seeking to avoid the imposition of a new orthodoxy; however, I also believe you are significantly discounting the normalizing effect SSB would bring to all congregations within the Anglican Church. In 30 years in the wider culture we have gone from criminalizing homosexual practice, to decriminalization, to outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, to civil partnerships, to full same sex marriage rights.

Laying aside for one moment the relative merits of those changes, most of which I support by the way, we have seen public opinion change dramatically on the issue of same sex relationships. Gay marriage was the final barrier to the normalization of gay relationships in our culture, the Church being the final frontier.

It is inevitable therefore that any Church embracing, and therefore normalizing same sex relationships will see a similar shift in attitudes amongst its congregations. Put simply, if the Bishop and Clergy say this is fine and something to be blessed, then we will all become like Pope Frances and ask ‘who am I to judge’?

Which is the correct response towards those outside the faith of course, somewhat less so for those who choose to follow Jesus.

So, Peter with the greatest respect, and I appreciate that we both view homosexual sex as sinful, what you are missing here is the pull of normalization within the Anglican Church. Once that bridge has been crossed, then nothing but time stands in the way of a new orthodoxy.

Once this Church is free to publically bless relationships that we both agree are sinful, then all things are possible, with some being highly predictable.

That’s why resisting this change is so important, particularly for those of us who share an understanding of Scripture that states these relationships are dishonoring to God, and ones that he simply cannot bless – the views of some Anglican Bishops not withstanding.

Malcolm Falloon said...

Hi Brian,

Why this term, and not another?

I perceive two motivations for using the term “orthodox”. First, there is a recognition that the debate has brought together people who have traditionally stood apart from one another on the Anglican spiritual landscape: catholic, charismatic and evangelical. And so there is a need to find a suitable collective to describe this new coalition without excluding anyone. In some parts of the world, they use the term “mainstream”, but it never really worked here in NZ. The term “orthodox” has the advantage of not being used much as a label within Anglicanism apart from the context of resisting revisionist approaches to church doctrine.

Which brings me to a second motivation: that what unites those who use the label “orthodox” (in my view, at any rate) is not opposition to appropriate pastoral responses to human sexuality per se, but the theological rationales of those advocating for change. The label “orthodox” draws attention to these deeper issues of catholic and apostolic identity that are all-too-often dismissed as being out-moded, unloving and out-of-touch.

Malcolm

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, re-reading your comments above, I came across this statement:

"To put this in another way, our search is for a church of two spaces (a.k.a. "integrities"),
- one space in which it is possible to bless same sex partnerships and
- one space in which it is possible not to bless same sex partnerships and possible not to assent to such blessings as part of the required beliefs of our church.
____________________________________________________________________________

What you are suggesting here is not new to our Church. We already have what you call '2 Integrities' of conscientious objection on moral grounds:

For example: No priest is compelled to conduct the marriage of anyone - not only divorced person. I have not heard of any priest being disciplined because of not conducting the marriage of any particular couple.

In this case, our clergy are given the right to marry, or not, as they see fit/ At one time, only a bishop could give permission for the re-marriage of a divorced person. This is no longer the case. The priest has this option.

Presumably, if the Blessing of a same-sex civil marriage were to be allowed in ACANZP; with the permission of their Diocesan Bishop, any priest of that diocese would be free to exercise this option, or not, as they determine. This sounds like the very best pastoral option available for all concerned.
Individual consciences would be protected - as with the marriage of the divorced in our Church. Both situations concern the doctrine of marriage!

Father Ron Smith said...

"But the point remains. Will error have any rights in the new era of SSB within the Anglican church? What will that brave new world look like for conservatives under the new orthodoxy?" - Brendan McNeill -

Your rights (to be wrong) will not be taken away Brendan. But you do not have any exclusive right you think you might have - to call yourself an 'orthodox Anglican'. It would seem ridiculous for a minority in the Church to assume it was somehow more orthodox than the majority of believers in that Church.

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm interested, Malcolm, that you might think that the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches might ever consider your Protestant, Confessional brand of Anglicanism to equal, unequivocally, your claim to the traditional terms representing the words 'catholic' and 'apostolic'. Your alliance with FoCA and Moore College Sydney Anglicans may see things rather differently - especially about the theology of Ministry and the Eucharist.

You really must accept the fact that world-wide Anglicanism is more diverse than the narrow confines of either 'Catholic' or 'Orthodox' theology. This is why we have managed, so far, to maintain our 'Unity in Diversity' label. And this is why some of us are so surprised that conservatives want to separate themselves out as yet another self-described Christian 'Orthodoxy'.

Do I smell the brimstone scent of yet another sectarian division?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
It is not ridiculous for the minority to be orthodox and the majority not.
Arianism was in the ascendency when it was finally exposed as heresy.
Surely only the obtuse believe that the majority of Western Catholics were "orthodox" on salvation when Luther called out the bad faith and practice of selling indulgences.
On your own understanding of orthodoxy-re-homosexuality, the majority of all Western churches for centuries is now proven wrong and a tiny minority (until very recently) has been proven right.
Orthodoxy is not democracy!

Anonymous said...

"Forget SSB; start from scratch. A more useful discussion might take up the challenges of homosexual Christians trying to live their faith in a church that is divided on several theological questions upstream of a pastoral response to homosexuality. Such a negotiation without preconditions has several novel and attractive features..."

That trialogue, Peter, would be the grown up conversation. It is indispensable no matter which party wins any given round of voting, but more helpful the sooner it starts. This thread is probably evidence enough that neither side has understood or answered the best arguments of the other

"I am all for conducting conversation between all parties in a way which secures a happy outcome, not predetermined by any one party. It is, as you realise, a moot point whether we could enter a fresh post-GS 2016 conversation."

I'd like to think that Malcolm's orthodox Anglicans can have any conversation that they want to have. If, as you rightly say, the ball is in their court, then continued criticisms of AWF and SSB are no longer enough. What ACANZP is now entitled to hear is how the orthodox plan to deal with the pastoral issues that AWF and SSB were proposed to address. To respond, they will have to takes some exegetical and pastoral risks of their own. And to do so with more fairness and competence than the WFWG, they will have to engage the upstream arguments to which Fr Ron often appeals on That Topic (eg Jesus was primarily an anti-traditionalist; Anglicans make limited use of Scripture; Reason is a shorthand for contemporary knowledge). Readers will note that Oliver O'Donovan's article at the link not only does not avoid these claims, but is to some degree structured by them.

"I find the departure of any Anglican over these matters to be unacceptable 'collateral damage'... The very point of what I am trying to chart here is a possible way that might hold conservatives and liberals and all in between together, with the added point that it might be a way we actually agree to. If it is not going to do that, to neither hold us together nor to be agreeable, then, please, let us have a better way."

Every emergent centre necessarily breaks up blocs at the extremes. My guess is that an orthodox Anglican centre will eventually alienate some in both of them. Eg--

(a) those for whom the Six Texts evidence an implacable divine hatred of homosexuals (eg Westboro Baptist exegesis);

(b) those for whom the biological substrate of sexuality and gender is not the will of the Father for this aeon;

(c) those for whom full recognition of a Christian with same sex attraction requires uncritical acceptance of the ideology of the secular movement for gay rights;

(d) those for whom discipleship in the Church and the public morality of the state must be identical, as though the state were guided by the Holy Spirit or those outside the Body could live as a disciple.

In dismissing these extremes, such a centre would nevertheless leave some room for disagreement. Eg--

(a) Given a commitment to follow the Scriptures, some might believe that that Six are primarily opposing homosexual acts as an end in itself, while others would see them as part of a the wider scriptural pattern of centring sexuality in relationships for procreation.

(b) Given a commitment to follow the Scriptures, some might see the relations between the two testaments differently.

However, they would have a single integrity.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman for wise words.
An odd thing about the "centre" is that it is where most of the votes lie, but those articulating that centre seem to get criticism from "all sides"!

Rosemary Behan said...

I'm very sorry Peter, but the 'most' votes don't lie in the centre. In fact if there WERE a centre, we wouldn't have a problem would we?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bowman

I wonder if your assumption that the present debate around AWF and SSB is going to produce an ‘emergent centre’ is likely to be realized. It is one possible outcome of course, but I suspect what we are more likely to see is a ‘winner take all’ result.

This is certainly what has happened in the wider culture around this debate, particularly in the USA, where those who have publically supported ‘traditional’ views on marriage have lost their jobs – Brendan Elk former CEO and founder of Tech company Mozilla is one high profile example, but there are others.

Where Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close down because they sought to uphold their traditional views on what a married couple should look like.

Where the Ontario Law society voted not to accredit graduates from a Christian Law College because of its policy of requiring students to adhere to Christian sexual morality. (Mind you if they had embraced SSB it wouldn’t have been an issue).

If you accept as a valid proposition, that the push for SSB within the Anglican Church is primarily driven by our present cultural milieu, do you think we should we expect a different outcome in the Church just because we are Christians?

Didn’t we hear from the advocates of SSM in culture, that no one would be adversely affected by this decision, that conservatives had nothing to fear but fear itself?

Peter Carrell said...

You could be right Rosemary but my question in a conversational mode about these matters would be, "Despite all sorts of things being said over many years and many synods, has our church really found "the centre" on the matter of homosexuality?" That is, if we haven't found the centre yet, but do find it prior to May 2018, might we find an overwhelming vote of support?

In my estimation finding that centre is possible because I think we can characterise the last few GSs as proposing a series of theses and antitheses and thus it might be that, at last, we can find the synthesis.

But we might not!

Malcolm Falloon said...

Ron,

You have failed to understand my point of view. Please refer to NCEA unit standard 11097.

Malcolm

Father Ron Smith said...

I think the debate has already been closed - about whether, or not, the Way Forward will come. It will be just a matter of how far G.S. 2018 is willing to go to accommodate the nay-sayers. Should be a very hectic time between now and then for such people, to muster the troops for an outright rejection and maybe, withdrawal - Just my opinion!

Rosemary Behan said...

So you're saying Peter, that we've got to find the centre, then we'll get the most votes .. but by your own admission, we haven't found the centre, but you still hope we may. All sounds like wishful thinking to me.

Rosemary Behan said...

Hmm, on further thought, from one of your remarks above, I think you think that YOU hold the centre. If that's so, then all I can say is you haven't articulated very clearly .. at least to me.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary'
No I don't think I have found "the" centre but I will put my hand up as (the most?) enthusiastic to find that centre.

A clue to where the centre may lie is in the majority (as I understand it) of current Anglican parishioners: they are not pushing particularly for the church to permit blessings and they are not too fussed if they find that the church does permit blessings, though if every active parishioner did get a vote in a straight up and down referendum then a majority (IMHO) would vote for permission to bless.

Now, how you put that in a motion to GS which does not split the church, that would be the answer to the question of where the centre lies. And I don't have that wording, though something may be emerging in my foggy mind.

Incidentally I make no claim that this mythical centrist position equates to "orthodoxy".

Rosemary Behan said...

You say, "A clue to where the centre may lie is in the majority (as I understand it) of current Anglican parishioners: they are not pushing particularly for the church to permit blessings and they are not too fussed if they find that the church does permit blessings, though if every active parishioner did get a vote in a straight up and down referendum then a majority (IMHO) would vote for permission to bless."

Hmm, if you are correct, and the majority of the members of the Anglican church in New Zealand, would vote for permission to bless .. then I would suspect they were very badly taught over the last few years. However, you will know that we are at the moment serving in a completely different parish over which we have had no influence .. and I would say quite definitely that the majority of them would NOT so vote. So I'm not sure your premise will hold Peter, I'll have to do more work.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Reflecting on your response to Rosemary, I feel like we have completed the decent into unabashed political expediency. A search for ‘just the right wording’ for a Synod motion that leaves everyone dissatisfied, but not departing.

The result being nothing like the unity Jesus prayed we might experience in John 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word… Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”

At the risk of your feeling I’m placing you in the dock (yet again) Peter, are you able to point to an example in Scripture that affirms this political process let alone the sin it seeks to bless?

Acts 15 provides us with an example not used by Professor Chris Marshall, which saw Christians with very diverse views come to unity around Peter’s leadership concerning instructions to the newly forming gentile Church.

The result appears to have been a genuine ‘John 17 unity’ borne out of the midst of strongly felt controversy. Why should the Church today settle for anything less? Can we in good conscience before the Lord settle for less on a matter concerning sexual immorality particularly in light of Peter’s admonition that we abstain from sexual immorality. Acts 15:20.

Yet somewhat remarkably, we find ourselves, or more correctly you find yourself, presumably in the cause of maintaining ‘Anglican unity’ searching for a way to bless sexual immorality, and by doing so imply that we are acting with integrity before the Lord.

Can you explain why a quest for faux unity takes precedence over our shared responsibility to seek genuine unity, and also over our mandate to uphold the precepts of Scripture when it comes to sexual immorality?

How can we expect these means or ends to be blessed?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if your assumption that the present debate around AWF and SSB is going to produce an ‘emergent centre’ is likely to be realized. It is one possible outcome of course, but I suspect what we are more likely to see is a ‘winner take all’ result." -- Brendan

Yes, unopposed candidates win elections.

"I think the debate has already been closed - about whether, or not, the Way Forward will come. It will be just a matter of how far G.S. 2018 is willing to go to accommodate the nay-sayers. Should be a very hectic time between now and then for such people, to muster the troops for an outright rejection and maybe, withdrawal..." -- Fr Ron

No, they will not work that hard.

Brendan and Fr Ron agree. And if no counterplan enters the conversation, they are probably both right.

Because the vast majority of Anglicans of all persuasions have decided that life in Christ cannot mean hurting sexual minorities, even if only incidentally, there will be some change, more or less. Even Lambeth I.10 recognised that some bishops that we would consider *orthodox* want some pastoral discretion in helping homosexual Christians. Those on one side of a long-standing theological divide have offered that decided majority a clearly-stated solution for their problem. Those on the other side of it have not. Candidates who try to tell voters what they ought to care about lose elections; candidates without opponents win them.

Brendan, Malcolm has drawn a valuable distinction, which I hereby adopt. Above, I have urged those that Malcolm designates as *orthodox* to discuss their upstream disagreements with the *heterodox* with some participation from homosexuals in the Church. The work that this sort of trialogue could accomplish is both necessary and inevitable. Alas, the timing of it is not. It could start today to help ACANZP remain whole; after all, the passage of AWF would make it more urgent, not less. Or, with less alacrity, it could be postponed until ecumenical negotiations in 2050 try to reconcile TEC-NZ to ACNA-NZ so that they can share communion and maybe even exchange recognitions of their orders.

But just mirroring the faults of the WFWG from the right is surely unwise. Does one-sided cassandra conservatism relieve any more anguish than one-sided flaky liberalism? Yet the local *orthodox* seem lazily content to heap criticism on the shortcomings of AWF whilst offering the voting majority no pastoral alternatives to it. If that liberal report failed to unify a church with many conservatives, how much greater is the failure of conservatives even to produce and publish a useful alternate report? This is a failure of leadership.

In Fulcrum, I have noted that it was time for transition in several places around the Communion where an older cohort of *happy warriors* does not understand our new landscape and is too locked into old partisanships to see it afresh. They are the ones who viscerally feel that any centrism will disempower partisan elites, as indeed it should. Perhaps the passage of AWF and its consequences will finally jolt the *orthodox* into recognising the futility of the lazy sort of *conservatism* and organising themselves to think constructively with the Communion.

When they finally do, they will find it helpful to seriously engage *heterodox* colleagues about the upstream issues that so strain koinonia and even civility. Having some of those affected at the table would also serve to keep the conversation honest. If there is nobody to convene such a discussion, perhaps it is time for new leaders and followers to step forward?

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bowman

If the Church were primarily a political construct, then what you propose re candidacy makes perfect sense. Even so, what could conservatives possibly propose by way of accommodation to the liberal mind that would still meet the Scriptural litmus test on same sex relationships?

No one on the conservative side of the theological debate is talking about persecuting homosexuals, but when the only sin the Anglican Church appears willing to repent from is human induced climate change, then it is not surprising we talk past each other.

Malcolm Falloon said...

Dear Bowman,

Your comments are too harsh. You speak of orthodox Anglicans being "lazily content" to criticise proposals offered by those seeking change resulting in a "failure of leadership" from the conservative side of the debate.

Two points. First, it has been difficult in my experience to even get a hearing within our Church until Motion 30 was passed two years ago. There have been plenty of discussions held and a conservative voice has been offered, but those chosen to articulate that position have been selected without consultation with those who most identify with that position. The formal debate has been carefully managed and certain voices have in the past been deemed as unacceptable (that is my perception, at least).

Second, in my experience of attending evangelical conferences through the Latimer Fellowship and more recently the FCA conference, a substantial part of the time has been allocated to discussing pastoral responses to those experiencing same-sex attraction. All the leaders at those events assumed that they had significant numbers of parishioners for whom this is a deeply personal issue. The leaders I have observed have always been deeply pastoral and compassionate in their response.

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I read Bowman's comment in a different way (which is not to say that your critique of our church is not warranted!).
I read his comment as challenging conservatives to articulate more than how we see ourselves pastorally responding to LGBT Christians in our congregations; a challenge to articulate what we might recognise as possible and permissible pastoral responses in a broad church where other parts of that church do not share specific conservative convictions (e.g. about celibacy).
Might we recognise, for instance, that in the anglo-catholic stream of our church, some kind of rite as a response to a couple might be appropriate?
(I raise that question not to have an argument over the possibility but to point in a direction where we conservatives might acknowledge that different streams in our church might wish to proceed in a pastoral manner differently to our own approach).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
If I am again in the dock then my defence is "I have been framed."

That is, I think you are placing me in the dock according to the way you have framed the difference in our church, but if we frame that difference differently, then I might be out of the dock.

Let me explain: if we persist in characterising the difference at this time as "no blessing of sexual immorality" and "blessing of sexual immorality" then indeed the attempt at unity is aiming for at best a faux-unity, there is considerable distance from Acts 15, and what I am pressing for looks like an untheological, purely pragmatic political exercise in trying to find the middle between two absolute contradictions.

But the difference at this time is more fairly characterised in this way, "no blessing of sexual immorality" and "blessing of a morally fine sexual relationship." That is, we have two groups in the same church believing the same thing (no blessing of sexual immorality; blessing of morally fine sexual relationships) but differing in belief about what is sexual immorality (and both, incidentally, by reading the same Bible, one group believing that Six Texts rule out all possibility of sexual morality in a sexual relationship between two men, or two women; the other group believing that the Six Texts do not speak to a marriage-like (if not civil marriage) between two same gendered persons). And there is a third group, those thinking about these things still.

So my attempt to broker unity between the two groups is not aimed to secure a faux-unity, nor to work out a political solution to a theological problem. My attempt is to find - if possible! - a way for this church to be in unity (however tense!) based on mutual respect for serious theological commitments which differ widely, in a context where much is held in common between the same groups in respect of creedal belief, adherence to the constitution and canons and liturgies of the one ACANZP.

I will now step down from the dock - not because I am acquitted but because on the matter of faux-unity, I should never have been arrested in the first place :)

Father Ron Smith said...

"Might we recognise, for instance, that in the anglo-catholic stream of our church, some kind of rite as a response to a couple might be appropriate?
(I raise that question not to have an argument over the possibility but to point in a direction where we conservatives might acknowledge that different streams in our church might wish to proceed in a pastoral manner differently to our own approach)." - Dr. Peter Carrell -

I do hope Peter, that my congratulations at your handling of this stand-off situation in our Church - especially in this paragraph - will not have your Evangelical colleagues writing you off as 'pandering to the liberals'. After all, Jesus himself was a great agent of liberalisation in his day - at the cost of his life! It must have been tough for the Temple officials



However, I do applaud your suggestion, here: that there might be other, quite sustainable and honourable views, on how to handle the current dispute in our Church over the pastoral care of monogamous, legally married same-sex persons desirous of being welcomed as worthy of Gosd's Blessing in Church.

From the point of view of some in the Church, welcoming Gays might be not unlike the medieval Church's understanding of welcoming lepers (another distinct minority of people who were considered 'unclean'. Saint Francis, on the other hand, was content to embrace and not ostracise such people.

This is not, of course, how Gay people see themselves. This is a phobic categorisation accorded to their relationships by undiscerning Straights. Let's face it, this is what society thought of homosexuality prior to the more enlightened governmental actions in the U.K. - assisted by biological, psychological and social scientists - brought new evidence to the contrary

A parallel situation might be discerned in the conservative suspicion of the benefits of fluoridation, which modern science has proven to be beneficial for the dental health of the population. However, if one is totally convinced that fluoride has no beneficial, but only harmful effects on the population, then we have a problem - expect for dentists who reap the rich rewards - and not only from an over-consumption of sugar

Rosemary Behan said...

I don’t think you are correct in your latest post Peter. You say, “But the difference at this time is more fairly characterised in this way, "no blessing of sexual immorality" and "blessing of a morally fine sexual relationship." That is, we have two groups in the same church believing the same thing (no blessing of sexual immorality; blessing of morally fine sexual relationships) but differing in belief about what is sexual immorality (and both, incidentally, by reading the same Bible, one group believing that Six Texts rule out all possibility of sexual morality in a sexual relationship between two men, or two women; the other group believing that the Six Texts do not speak to a marriage-like (if not civil marriage) between two same gendered persons).”

Next you mention a third group who are still thinking. You miss out those brothers and sisters in Christ, who are same sex attracted, but who believe as the so called conservatives do, that God has called them to live their lives in celibacy. Bryden mentioned this group at the meeting last night. How can there be a ‘centre’ between the two groups you mention above, when you ignore completely our brothers and sisters in Christ who both believe and struggle in their obedience to God’s Word?

You add .. “My attempt is to find - if possible! - a way for this church to be in unity (however tense!) based on mutual respect for serious theological commitments which differ widely. Same question Peter, you are leaving a group out, they too have serious theological commitments that differ from your second group .. can you ignore them? If so how and why, if this is not just a ‘political’ nonsense?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
You are entirely correct and I am remiss to miss out the fourth group you mention.
(There may also be a fifth and a sixth group (e.g. those who would be unsatisfied with SSB and only satisfied with SSM/"equal marriage") and so forth, all making the task of finding the centre that much more challenging, especially if - as you and Brendan are rightly challenging me - it is to be a theological centre rather than a political "nonsense").

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I find Rosemary's suggestion that recommends the option for celibacy for preachers of the Gospel as quite laudable, per this paragraph of hers:

"Next you mention a third group who are still thinking. You miss out those brothers and sisters in Christ, who are same sex attracted, but who believe as the so called conservatives do, that God has called them to live their lives in celibacy. Bryden mentioned this group at the meeting last night. How can there be a ‘centre’ between the two groups you mention above, when you ignore completely our brothers and sisters in Christ who both believe and struggle in their obedience to God’s Word?



However, I think my observation, extant on another thread, to have already considered that option, under a different argument fitting to this discussion, wherein the fact that Jesus, speaking of the "Eunuchs 'for the sake of the Gospel' may not be just HOMO-sexuals bur also HETERO-sexuals; content to sacrifice their sexuality in the service of the Gospel (Pauline):

"What I find very interesting is the fact that, NOT MANY of those most earnestly conservative Christians who claim the priority of Christ's Kingdom in their own lives are prepared to remain unmarried (as 'eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom'). Most (predominant) married hetero-sexual clergy in this situation want to enjoy the full benefits of a married relationship - together with the privilege of Christian ministry.

St. Paul would have preferred all disciples to remain unmarried, but he then seemed to have realised the fundamental grace of sexual relationships, saying "It is better to marry than burn".

Maybe that, today, is true for heterosexual as well as homosexual clergy. Now that would really prove the pious hope that only Gays should contain their sexual urges 'for the sake of the gospel'

Rosemary Behan said...

I made NO mention of ordained people when I talked about our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same sex attracted, but also believe that Scripture proscribes their actions.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

A touch of irony to start your day.

“I have observed that those most adamant our sexual orientation is fixed at birth, are usually the ones most adamant our gender isn’t.”

- Brendan

Peter Carrell said...

Nice touch, Brendan!

We are weird and wonderful creatures :)

Anonymous said...

“If the Church were primarily a political construct, then what you propose re candidacy makes perfect sense.” --Brendan

Synods as we know them were modeled directly on parliaments. They *are* a *political construct* --a relatively recent one foreign to the Church’s prior practise. And nothing more.

Both of the usual sides know this. Neither actually believes anything whatever on the credit of a synod, and neither will unreservedly follow a contrary synod without more or less coercion. We are discussing, not the truth of doctrinal positions, but the possible shape of synodical coercion of souls around the Communion.

One side believes their newspapers more than their synods. They impatiently hector their local synod to fall in line with them. Hence, they will not accept a *no* vote on SSB as an authoritative rejection of it by the Holy Spirit; they will just keep demanding votes until, as the probabilities suggest, a random *yes* vote happens. Following that practice, any synod will eventually vote for Arianism.

The other side believes their exegeses of scripture more. They fear that synod actions will be inconsistent with them. They will not accept a *yes* vote on SSB as an authoritative acceptance of it by the Holy Spirit; they might simply form another synod that votes as they wish.

Neither side has a mind open to the possibility that ACANZP’s synod might itself receive divine truth that could correct the authority in which it already believes. Therefore, the beginning of realistic discussion is to sharply discount the alleged doctrinal authority of synods, and begin to think through the consequences of that reality for a Communion torn asunder by voting.

“Even so, what could conservatives possibly propose by way of accommodation to the liberal mind that would still meet the Scriptural litmus test on same sex relationships?” --Brendan

The mind of Christ and the illumination of the Holy Spirit helps antagonistic believers past their embittered defenses and hatreds of the Father’s ordering will. Thus, a more robust concilarism than Anglicans presently practise would necessarily be too holistic to tolerate a standing divide between the secular ideologies of conservatism and liberalism. There could be no deal to satisfy the two; there could be prayers that both might be healed, so that they might be joined to the Church, which participates in Christ’s reconciliation of all to all.

Minds less darkened by crusading zeal might-- decline to transvalue homosexual acts or to invent new sacraments, while agreeing that the gospel does not require the social persecution of sexual minorities, that spiritual fruit is the test of a Christian life, that there are a few specified uncertainties about contemporary homosexuality, that these uncertainties may seem to require pastoral discretion in applying the scriptures to lives, and that catholic bishops have *ex officio* authority from God to regulate that discretion. Those who do not claim an authority to change settled doctrine, and do seriously desire to help brothers and sisters in Christ with same sex attraction can find more or less adequate ways of achieving that without culture war fireworks.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

“Your comments are too harsh. You speak of orthodox Anglicans being 'lazily content' to criticise proposals offered by those seeking change resulting in a 'failure of leadership' from the conservative side of the debate...” --Malcolm

From fair-minded Malcolm, I had expected some such comment as this one. Of course, I am delighted to read that he finds so much vigour in evangelical reflection on That Topic, and so much compassion for sexual minorities in its leadership. I have no wish to deny or belittle this; we ought rather to celebrate it.

But the times are not fair ones. As he notes, orthodoxy in the Communion now depends on an alliance with catholics and charismatics that badly needs theological integration. Meanwhile, the orthodox and heterodox among us are two great parties divided by a common history of unresolved quarrels upstream of our present disagreements. Large majorities determined to *just do something* to ameliorate the anguish of sexual minorities do not believe that any compassionate evangelical alternative to SSB exists. And the WFWG marginalised orthodox theology on a matter with rather high stakes. This seems to reflect the ACANZP way of doing business as Malcolm describes it.

Taken together, these unfair circumstances demand more of us than that “...a substantial part of the time [in evangelical conferences be] allocated to discussing pastoral responses to those experiencing same-sex attraction...” or that individual leaders be "deeply pastoral and compassionate in their response" to homosexuality. An orthodox yet irenic alternative to AWF that does for ACANZP the work that WFWG ought to have done might be the place to start.

Bowman Walton