Sunday, July 31, 2016

My "Way Forward" Part 4.5 (inching towards Part 5)

Time is of the essence but essentially time is short these days, so I find myself not able to get into the time/space for mentally thinking through my final post, "Part 5", which (with fine tuning after, hopefully, some comments) would be my submission to the Archbishops by the 1 October 2016 deadline.

Here, en route to that final post, I am making a few remarks/notes, picking up on some on-blog and off-blog correspondence and conversations. Your comments remain welcome ... In no particular order of logic or priority:

(1) A very helpful suggestion that I drop talk of "same sex blessing" (SSB) but refer instead to "blessing civil unions or other marriages recognised by the State" where "other marriages" refers other than Christian marriages between men and women. That is, as a Christian church we Anglicans are "in the business" of conducting Christian marriages as traditionally, Scripturally and customarily understood by orthodox Christians in all churches, but we are also a church in a society which legally recognises permanent unions between couples (irrespective of gender) and short of disengaging from society we should ask ourselves how we might respond to such unions with some form of acknowledgment, affirmation and support.

(2) With particular reference to a debate between Malcolm Falloon and myself (e.g. here), I acknowledge the importance of asking of ourselves two related questions about the position we might come to. One question concerns the viability of a decision with reference to relationships with other Anglican churches in the Anglican Communion. Another question concerns whether "catholicity" means anything to ACANZP these days since we seem to be paying only a small amount of attention to whether or not a decision to change the status quo might affect our relationships with other churches and might mean that as a church having some semblance of commitment to being part of the catholic (universal) church of God we effectively ditch catholicity as a mark of ourselves as a church. In some conversations it strikes me that "justice" is the replacement mark for "catholicity."

(3) A growing conviction in my mind that the core of my proposal, that we steadfastly eschew SSM in favour of retaining our current doctrine of marriage but consider recognition of unions recognised by the State (see (1) above), is not a mere "compromise" (with all the difficulties that raises for brothers and sisters who cannot think of compromise in such a way as anything other than a failure to be faithful to Christ) but is actually a principled solution.

The principles here are that (A) we are committed to being a catholic church sharing in the universal Christian doctrine of marriage as being between a man and a woman, (B) we are committed to being a church which lives in a specific time, place and culture (21st century South Pacific), seeking to be a bridge between God and this set of Pacific societies (and not an isolationist sect within it), and (C) we wish to appropriately and lovingly respond to relationships which do not fit with that universal Christian doctrine yet which represent the frailties and vulnerabilities of human beings for whom relationship is preferable to aloneness.

As always, what do you think?

I will do my best to post comments over the next few days when I am tied up extensively in a meeting or two ...! I may or may not be able to respond to comments for a few days.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

To my detractors!?

Yesterday I posted a link to a Tobias Stone article about the coming world war three.

Subsequently commenters here rounded on the article.

Fair enough.


I see in the NZ Herald that this article is gaining traction, doing the rounds, contributing to the zeitgeist ...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trump that, Brexit this, and Wright at last? History is not bunk?

If the world is heading for a human induced apocalypse, shouldn't we read about it as theologically minded Christians? Here is Tobias Stone warning that history may prophesy where Trump and Brexit may be leading us.

On a different note, but still related to how history unfolds in the grand scheme of things, I notice this notice for Tom Wright's latest book, due out this October. It is called The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus' Crucifixion.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Je Ne Suis Pas Jacques Hamel

A perceptive article in First Things by Jean Duchesne entitled "Je Suis Jacques Hamel" is worth reading. Notable is this paragraph:

"This, today, was something else altogether. The target of this revenge was not the West in general, nor its complacent and egotistical prosperity, which can seem insulting to the penniless inhabitants of the world beyond. The target of this revenge was the root of the West, the West’s living source, even when it is unremembered—namely Christianity, in the time and the place where, tacitly but invincibly, it becomes most explicitly and intensely real: the celebration of the Mass."

It is only a short article so it is excused for not mentioning what others have mentioned about this killing of a priest, that now on the shores of Europe the fate of many Christian priests and laity in the Levant as well as Copts in Egypt is being experienced. Martyrdom is in the West's own neighbourhood.

My title here is the opposite to Jean Duchesne's because I think there is a "both/and" here. We are "Je Suis Jacques Hamel" as we identify with Jacques as our brother in the suffering Christ, along with all present day Christian martyrs. We are also, because we are alive, our throats have not been cut, "Je Ne Suis Pas Jacques Hamel." What is God calling us to do and be as those not yet martyred?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A new job for me?

LinkedIn is hilarious. Below is an excerpt from an email sent to me overnight. Apparently, from my rather thin CV supplied in my profile, I am eligible for the following jobs.

Top job picks for you

University of Canterbury
University of Canterbury
Canterbury & West Coast, New Zealand
5 days ago

Massey University
Massey University
Auckland, New Zealand
14 days ago

The University of Auckland
The University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
14 days ago

University of Canterbury
University of Canterbury
Canterbury & West Coast, New Zealand
15 days ago

University of Otago
University of Otago
Otago & Southland, New Zealand
6 days ago

The University of Auckland
The University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
12 days ago

Massey University
Massey University
Taranaki, Wanganui & Manawatu, New Zealand
14 days ago

Massey University
Massey University
Auckland, New Zealand
6 days ago


The University of Auckland
The University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
12 hours ago

Massey University
Massey University
Taranaki, Wanganui & Manawatu, New Zealand
1 day ago

Now, natch, I consider myself an amateur psychologist second to none, along with professional if not professorial level abilities at creative accounting (OK, so the word "creative" is not actually in the titles above). Also I have friends who are accountants.

Tourism, well, I have travelled a bit, and know most of the South Island like the back of my hand while thinking the North Island is foreign country. As for "creative writing" ... you are reading this blog. Perhaps you could supply a reference?

I think I will stick to serving the Anglican church, boosting its psychological well-being, beefing up its finances, generally touring about from parish to parish ... and blogging :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surely this is the person who should be next US President

What a great speech by a great person.

She could unite a nation and she already believes the US is great :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The state of New Zealand "journalism" (#anglicanunknowing) and "etc"

Do we Kiwis lack the blessings of thorough, no details left undone investigative journalism?

Here is an NZ Herald article on the state of finances of some of our larger non-mainstream/historic denominations.

At the end of the article we read this sentence:

"The ­Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia has declared assets of $1.7m and ­an annual income of $1,997,265."

Now, if you believe that is a true description of all Anglican assets in these islands then I have a bridge, a floating jetty and a $9 coin to sell you. I assume it is something like the assets of our General Synod Standing Committee (i.e. the wherewithal to house and fund our very lean "national" church office).

It would only take a bit of Googling around, a phone call or two to pretty much any clergyperson or churchwarden for the Herald to realise there was a lot more to investigate - our separate dioceses and their trust funds, including the funds held in trust for the parishes, to say nothing of estimated asset value of church buildings. All of which would add up to a pretty sum, dwarfing the other sums mentioned in the article. (And, shhhhhh, don't say anything about the biggest "Anglican" trust of them all ...). Incidentally, we spend what we earn on mission and ministry, and very helpful it is too.

In personal news, I am just back from a trip to Sydney which took in a conference organised by the Sydney College of Divinity on Justice, Mercy and Social Well-being. Some brilliant papers and some not so brilliant ones (e.g. my own, but a useful exercise in critical response to a paper based on a chapter in a book I am writing on mercy).

It was fascinating being an Anglican in a conference of this kind as some key voices were from Greek and Coptic Orthodox churches, voices not normally present in theological conferences on this side of the ditch (in my experience). It was a pleasure to get to know Fr Antonios Kaldas a little and I am adding his blog to the blogroll here on ADU. (He gives an engaging video presentation here on some interesting questions).

And by the end of this week I need to be ready for the next Anglican Studies course here in Christchurch ... there may or may not be much posting this week :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Social Services Sunday 2016

Ace resources here for Social Services Sunday which is this Sunday. I can't possibly say who the co-authors are. Agents of the status quo are watching everywhere.

Addendum to my "Way Forward" Part 4

In a post below, Part Four of my "Way Forward" series, Malcolm Falloon responds to my proposal with some important criticisms, which I will respond to here in a series of comments. My attempt here is to respond constructively because I think some issues are finely balanced in terms of what is the right/wrong/helpful/unhelpful way to move forward, so I am less interested in rebutting what Malcolm has to say and more interested in furthering discussion, to which other commenters may like to contribute ... my comments are in italics.

From Malcolm Falloon:


I disagree with you on the viability of using the recent changes to how services are authorised to bring about the compromise you propose. Among other things, it would be destructive of good order to bypass Part G, section 4 of the constitution on what has proven such a controversial issue.

Comment: it would be destructive of good order if a resolution of our church fostered the controversy rather than settled it. The point of what I am proposing (or indeed of any proposal that GS on all our behalfs might agree to) is to settle the controversy rather than deepen it. So my question would be whether in this specific, distinctive, even unique matter of controversy, might it be a good thing to "bypass Part G, section 4"? 

Your proposal also seems to hinge on a distinction between doctrine-as-enshrined-in-the-formularies and doctrine-as-expressed-in-the-church's-worship: formulaic doctrine as opposed to permissive doctrine. That is too subtle for me.
Whether General Synod changes its doctrine of marriage (which it seems reluctant to do at present) or redefines the church's understanding of chastity (as you propose in your clause 3), both involve changes to the doctrine expressed in the fundamental provisions of the constitution.

(1) On the distinction between "doctrine-as-enshrined-in-the-formularies and doctrine-as-expressed-in-the-church's-worship: formulaic doctrine as opposed to permissive doctrine." My point here is that I consistently hear the anxiety of colleagues concerned that they may, in accepting a licence to minister, be required to sign to believing doctrine they do not agree with. Avoiding the doctrine/formulary route is, in my view, a way round this particular difficulty. A related point is that already our church grants "permissive doctrine" in the sense that it permits military chaplains to bless warships, clergy on St Francis' Day to bless pets, as well as giving clergy the option of blessing the remarriage of a divorced person or not. In principle and in practice, there is a distinction of the kind Malcolm describes as "too subtle" already at work in our church.
(2) There is indeed an issue about whether any change to which GS might agree on these matters is, or is not, a change to "the doctrine expressed in the fundamental provisions of the constitution." On this matter I suspect Malcolm and I would agree that no commission/working group/chancellors' advice to date has given a satisfactory response!

As an aside: I consider these two alternatives to be mutually exclusive: if you extend the doctrine of marriage (as proposed by the Working Group), you don't need to change the definition of chastity; if you change the definition of chastity, you can not but diminish the doctrine of marriage. If the church effected both changes at once, the church would be left with a nominal doctrine of marriage that was only a matter of personal preference.

Comment: Indeed!

You ask me for a better pathway. The only viable pathway, in my view, involves structural change and constitutional revision. We should not be under any allusion that accommodating such a compromise will involve far-reaching changes. I am less certain, however, that we have the collective will to pursue such a course.

Comment: in which case, for those who disagree with me, and especially from a conservative perspective, could we please have, whether from an individual theologian such as Malcolm, or from the Latimer Fellowship or from the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a proposal or proposals to consider, digest, improve through discussion and then submitted by 1 October 2016!


Friday, July 15, 2016

A vicar's daughter

Austen Ivereigh has a lovely article here about Theresa May's upbringing via a vicarage and her current active faith as a member of her local parish.

I find it heart-warming to think that Christians can continue to influence the course of political life on the global stage.

UPDATE: And this, generally, on politicians who are children of pastors

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My "Way Forward" (Part 4)

There is no easy pathway forward on holding together churches with differences over same-sex relationships. Ian Paul writing at Psephizo, as a member of the C of E's General Synod, describes his experience this past week of participating in a long "Shared Conversation." The sense of I have is that (1) the CofE is heading along a similar pathway to ACANZP (2) it is hard to get the process right, let alone fair presentation of content (3) holding together is everyone's conviction, the possibility of schism is nevertheless ever present.

[UPDATE: Alongside Ian Paul's reflection,  I commend also reading Lucy Gorman's reflection, from a quite different perspective. In a nutshell, what I am trying to do here is to offer a suggestion for how we might be a church that includes both Kiwi Ian Pauls and Kiwi Lucy Gormans].

Picking up from yesterday's post, I cannot see a way forward for our church to remain together which does not involve permission for same sex blessings to take place, which does not involve continued commitment to our current doctrine of marriage and which does not involve an agreed, authorised liturgy for such blessings which is nevertheless not adopted as a formulary of our church.

For comment, picking apart, praising or ignoring, I offer the following proposals:

(1) A canon is agreed by General Synod/te Hinota Whanui which provides for use in our church a liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships where a bishop authorises the use of that liturgy in her or his diocese;

(2) Both that canon and an amended Title D (our canon on ministry standards) make clear that no clergyperson is compelled to bless a same-sex relationship, nor is any officer of the church (minister, churchwarden) compelled to make a church building for which they are responsible available for a service of blessing of a same-sex relationship;

(3) An amended Title D makes clear that a bishop may consider for ordination or for appointment to office a person in (a) a civil marriage, or (b) a same sex relationship which has been blessed using a liturgy provided by our church or its equivalent in another church.

Could we be as brief as that?

Now, if what has been written above is torn asunder in comments, then I may come up quickly with a fifth post in this series, hastily amending what I have written. If comments are kinder (but, I expect, still critical) and the debate is slow burning, then the fifth post in this series may take longer to come ... but it will be before 1 October 2016!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My "Way Forward" (Part 3)

Oliver O'Donovan, highly respected British theologian, writer and ecclesial luminary, recently spoke along these lines:

"Christian Today has revealed that one of the ways the Church may find a compromise over the issue is through a "pastoral accommodation". This could take the form of an authorised service of "welcome" or even blessing for people in same-sex relationships, but not an official marriage.
Oliver O'Donovan, a theologian who was among the first to propose the idea, told Christian Today "untraditional forms of marriage" had been adopted "without modifying or qualifying in any way the teaching of the church about marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life".
He cited polygamous households in African churches and divorced couples in Western churches as two examples of a departure from traditional Church teaching. He said these models do "not undermine the natural family as a norm, but affirm it, by modelling itself as closely as possible upon it, so the well-designed pastoral accommodation in marriage, designed to meet a quite specific need, will witness in its own way to the normative form from which it derives"." Reported here.
I like what Oliver O'Donovan says and it does accord with where our GS 2016 was heading (retain traditional doctrine of marriage, authorise blessing of same sex relationship liturgy). Broadly, what he proposes is the compromise on the table of our church for our consideration.

But where we got stuck - in my understanding - was around the word "authorise" because the route we took was to authorise-via-a-formulary. There were several (if not numerous) problems with this route. It involved an effective change in our doctrine of marriage (despite language which claimed otherwise), it involved an oddity that dioceses could then choose whether or not they implemented (and thus corporately believed) something set down in writing as part of the common liturgy/belief of our whole church, and it required "civil marriage" as a pre-condition for the service of blessing which simultaneously raised and lowered the "status" of civil marriage between two people of the same gender.

What I want to propose - see next post - is a different level of authorisation of a liturgy of blessing, removing the requirement of a preceding civil marriage and a different level of decision-making regarding who may offer a liturgy of blessing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

My "Way Forward" (Part 2)

"Deep conviction is entirely creditable. But dogmatic adherence to policy issues is not realistic. You can’t even bring up kids on that basis. I don’t think you can even buy a car on that basis. People of deep convictions can afford to compromise. People of shallow convictions are terrified of compromise, because they will consider that to compromise is to betray. Well, if you’ve got deep convictions, you know damn well it isn’t. You know that compromise is a means of getting to the next stage, a bit closer to what you originally wanted to do. It’s called parliamentary democracy." (Neil Kinnock, former leader, British Labour Party, speaking about the current turmoil around leader Jeremy Corbyn.)

People of deep convictions can afford to compromise. At the core of my suggested way forward (in draft form here through this series of posts, open to change through your comments ... before I finally post to the Archbishops) is this presupposition: ACANZP is divided on the matter of blessing of same-sex relationships. It can stay together if there is compromise. It must divide if there is not.

Also at the core is the possibility that we might be a church, on this matter at least, in which we are not of one mind. Over the past few days the United Reform Church in England and Wales (URC) has agreed that its local churches may choose to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. In Thinking Anglicans' post on the matter, I note the following sentence,

"It has long been clear that the denomination cannot express a single view on the issue of same-sex marriage."

I think that is pretty clear for ACANZP also. We are not of one mind on either blessing of same-sex relationships nor on conduct of same-sex marriages within our churches. Among us are those who would affirm the thesis of this article and those who would reject it. We have, however, declared we are of one mind in upholding the traditional understanding of marriage (as expressed in our liturgies and canons) and that means that, unlike the URC, the focus here is on blessing of same-sex relationships rather than conduct of same-sex marriages.

So, the questions I am seeking to answer in this series of posts include

"How might those in ACANZP with strong convictions arrive at an agreed compromise?" and

"How might we give expression in the structures (and, concomitantly, canons and liturgies) of our church to our inability to express a single view on same-sex relationships?"

Monday, July 11, 2016

My "Way Forward" (Part 1)

Readers may recall this Taonga report, following General Synod's impasse over "A Way Forward" in May 2016, including:

"The archbishops have outlined the process and the timetable by which the church will make a final search for a structure that will satisfy people of differing convictions on the issue of the blessing of same gender relationships.And Anglicans who want to have a say in shaping those structural arrangements have four months to make their suggestions.On September 1, the archbishops will name the personnel on a new working group whose task will be to consider those suggestions.The deadline for those suggestions is October 1, and the working group will provide feedback to the proposers and the wider church by the end of January 2017. It may also develop its own options.The working group will finalise its proposal – or set of proposals – by July 1 next year, as required by Motion 29."

This is drawn from a letter from the Archbishops, including:

"We are very conscious that Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pasifika were in a position to support the provisions proposed in the “A Way Forward” Report, its recommendations and the accompanying draft legislation. While the challenge was clearly issued at GSTHW to Tikanga Pakeha to identify “possible structural arrangements”, nonetheless, as Primates we are clear that this is a task ‘of the whole Church, for the whole Church’.
We are also clear that any possible structural arrangements need to be consistent with Anglican ecclesiology and with Te Pouhere, the Constitution of this three Tikanga Church.Therefore, we wish to outline the following time line: [sic, re repeated "1"]
  1. We want to encourage wide discussion and to provide a space for this to take place. Consequently, there will be a period of just on four months for networks, organisations, informal groupings and individuals to identify possible structures for consideration by the Working Group which we will appoint.
  1. The Working Group will be named on 1 September 2016 . We will make this appointment having taken terms of reference and suggested membership to the General Synod Standing Committee meeting in Western Samoa from 23 to 26 July 2016.
  1. We would ask that any formal suggestions of possible structural arrangements are in the hands of the General Secretary of this Church no later than 1 October 2016.
  1. Such suggestions do not need to be formed in detail but can be ‘high level’ suggestions.
  1. The Working Group will consider each suggestion and may also identify other possibilities. The Working Group will provide feedback to proposers and to the wider Church by the end of January 2017 .
  1. The Working Group will finalise a proposal (or set of proposals) for the consideration of the Church by the 1 July 2017 date asked for by General Synod 2016."
Here on ADU I wish to set out a "draft" of my "suggestion of possible structural arrangements", with comments/feedback hopefully leading to something more "final" from me, by 1 October 2016.

In subsequent parts to this post I hope to offer something sane, sensible, Scriptural and sensitive. If not soporific :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Britain's next PM will be a Christian & other news

In all the hoopla this morning (NZ time) about Britain's next PM being a woman (the contest is now Theresa May v Andrea Leadsom), I have yet to see a headline "Britain's next PM will be a Christian", both woman publicly declaring they are Christians.

In news closer to home, there is some news, at last, about our Christchurch Cathedral. Read here and don't ask me any questions because I know nothing more than is in the article! Anyway, it is progress, and, as the video shot by a drone shows, there is real regress in the state of the walls and pillars.

Then there is news from further away, from the east and the west, to the east and to the west. Something about an advert for the Orient, I gather. Now you see me, now you don't as I turn my back on you. Bosco Peters has the news here with many links, including to the recent Orthodox synod in which everyone agreed with everything, except for those who didn't agree to actually go to the Synod. So Anglican, as Bosco points out :)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good news bad news presbyterianised Anglican world

Psephizo - Ian Paul - has had some great posts recently about specifically Anglican matters.

Ian Paul had a go at language we use about priesting (presbyterianising??) in this post with a provocative title, "Ordination does not make you a priest." (Which is correct, Jesus our Great High Priest became priest through crucifixion!)

That post has received a well-argued reply from Simon Oliver, Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham, giving a 'catholic' perspective in response,

More recently, Psephizo has a delightful post on the virtues of a liberal catholic C of E parish, posted by Ian himself, a conservative evangelical. There is much to ponder in this post about what makes a church fruitful, including that challenging matter of connecting with men.

In difficult days for the 21st century church I concur 200% with Ian's observation that excellence in what we do matters.

Closer to home. Recently a friend observed of some posts of mine a week or three back, that perhaps I was being somewhat doomy and gloomy about our church. Fair point.I wouldn't want to over-egg some dispiriting features of church life because there is much which encourages and enlivens me. But there is a but. Some things are simply discouraging. Bishop Kelvin Wright's post about the next step in his diocese's journey to find not only a successor bishop but to determine how much of a bishop they can afford is both fearlessly honest and completely sobering. It forces readers to consider that our smallest pakeha diocese is facing real change because of real decline in participation.

Here is the question for ACANZP in the 21st century: is the Diocese of Dunedin the canary in the mineshaft of 21st century secular NZ?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Where is my 1 July post???


A few weeks ago I promised or at least seriously indicated intention to publish something on "the (new) way forward for ACANZP, responding to our Archbishops' invitation for people to make suggestions.

Obviously that hasn't happened since today, as I write, is 6th July.

I plead busyness and the like. I am hoping that next week which is "diary-flexible" I can find the space to think and the time to write.

In the meantime, below are some links to some articles by way of "preamble". I may add more links if I find some worth following.

Oh, yes, and as a political junkie I have been somewhat distracted by international political events in the last week :)




You may comment, respectfully, thoughtfully, graciously on SSM/SSB ... my "ban" for June is now lifted. I likely will not engage with your comments in order to carve out the space and time I need for my own thinking.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Johannine Evangelism for 21st Century Anglicans, and More on Trinity ...

The Living Church has an article on "Come and See" evangelism. What do you think?

Lewis Ayres has some telling points to make on Trinity/Complementarianism here.

One of those points should be taken to heart by every evangelical exegete of Scripture (including myself):

"I suspect that many of those involved in this debate assume a distinction between literal and allegorical/figurative/symbolic exegesis, but I think they may think the category “literal” far more obvious than it actually is. It is important to recognize that reading “the letter” of the text for early Christian interpreters frequently, and perhaps essentially when discussing texts which describe the character of divine existence, is accompanied with frequent exhortation to recognize the limits of human knowledge. In such contexts, Patristic interpreters frequently call on their readers to reflect constantly upon the consequences of the condescension into human speech that is involved in God speaking to us of the divine life. As one reads these texts “literally,” “according to the letter” one recognizes that they speak to us of that which is revealed as mystery. “The letter” of the text thus does not always sit at the same point on the axis that runs between clarity and obscurity. I have not seen these questions reflected on in any great detail in the small sample of pieces from this debate that I have seen. This is not to say that they are not reflected on in detail in places that have escaped my attention – but it is to say that it seems odd that these issues are not constantly recognized. Is this because of particular dynamics in the ways that evangelicals talk about Scriptural authority?" (My bold)

In other words, take care not to presume from the "condescended" speech of God re Father/Son relationships in the Bible that we have the last word on the mystery of communion between Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Best quote on the Trinity in the past week I have come across is from Karl Barth:

"In His own freedom, God above all willed and determined Himself to the be Father and the Son in the unity of the Spirit." (as Tweeted by @k_barth - sorry no more precise reference than that).

Finally, for today, Mark Woods has a go at Grudem and co, here.