Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beautiful Anglican Accommodation - Down Under's Way Forward

At last and in plenty of time for our diocesan synods in a month or two's time, we have the interim report and recommendations from the GS Working Group.

Read the Taonga article here, follow the links, and, obviously, read the full PDF document here. (There is a shorter version here but the details in the appendices are what count).

My verdict: a beautiful Anglican accommodation.

Why?

It gives (many) conservatives and (many) liberals what they have asked for, and makes few demands on the middle of our church.

I do not want to have to submit to the authority of General Synod (because it has approved something I am not happy with)?
I will not have to do that because the declarations will change.

I wish the blessing of a same sex partnership to be able to take place in an Anglican church?
In most, but likely not all, dioceses/hui amorangi permission will be given for priests to conduct such blessings provided the local vestry is agreeable to that happening.

I feel I would have to leave the church if it approved a blessing formulary (because that would mean our church had formally changed its doctrine on marriage). There will not be such a change. Services of blessing will be approved at a more local level - the diocese.

I am worried that I will be disciplined by the church if I conduct a blessing or if I refuse to conduct a blessing. That will be ruled out, both ways.

I am concerned that my parish, when it comes time to choose a new vicar, will be bullied by the Nomination Board into accepting a priest who will reverse my parish's policy on blessing of same sex partnerships. That can be prevented because parishes and individuals will be able to form communities of common accord with other like-minded parishes. Bishops must respect the ethos of those communities in making their appointment, indeed the appointee must come from within the community to which the parish belongs.

I do not particularly care one way or another whether my vicar does or does not conduct blessings of same sex partnerships. Nothing needs to be done. Keep cool and carry on as you are!

I want to be part of a parish which not only teaches celibacy outside of (heterosexual) marriage but which supports those who choose to be celibate and look for the support of their community of faith in being obedient to God in this way. That is not only possible, it is specifically provided for by the proposal: like-minded parishes including common commitment to teaching and discipline may group together in structured communities of faith, supported by a bishop.

Thus in a number of ways this is a beautiful, comprehensive Anglican  accommodation of the wide range of views on human sexuality held within ACANZP.

To be very clear: a beautiful Anglican accommodation does not mean that everyone is going to be, let alone has to be happy about what is proposed. There will be disappointment for some.

My argument here is that in a tricky, challenging situation in which we are not agreed, we have a proposal which has a quality of elegance to it, which demonstrates deep listening to speeches at the last General Synod and to submissions made to the Working Group, and, critically, a will to make some significant changes to the way we do things.

And all with a view to holding us together.

I hope this means no one leaves.

But if some do, I believe the losses will be few rather than many.

Postscript:
- for the geeks among readers, this is what I posted re the submission I made to the working group. You will see that a number of things I was keen to see are included in the report/recommendations. (That, incidentally, is not a claim that I had some great influence on the report. Once we failed to secure agreement at GS 2016 there was a logical path to where we needed to go as a church in disagreement, which influenced my submission and, I am sure, directly influenced the working group.)
- Also, Bosco Peters has a considered response here.


132 comments:

Rosemary Behan said...

I haven't read all of it, but this quote .. "Our mandate was not to consider the differing theological positions or to interpret scripture on this
point." .. indicates I'll be wasting my time.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
That's because for the past two GSs our church has been looking at how we can hold two differing theological commitments together in one church, without attempting to (a) reconcile them [is that possible?]; (b) let one theological commitment trump the other.

It is precisely the point of what is offered here that differing theologies of sexuality/Scripture are permitted to flourish within different spheres.

Rosemary Behan said...

The headline in the Press reads, "Be ready for the storm."

How cowardly our church is Peter. You are promoting leaving people to hang out to dry. You personally are a coward .. everything for the cause of unity, nothing for the authority of Scripture and Our Lord.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I leave it to you and others to judge whether I am a coward or not.
But I will assert that I am a realist - realistic about the breadth of our church's views and the intensity with which they are hold.
The question is no longer about the authority of Scripture but about how differing schools of theology, each claiming to acknowledge Scripture, might be held together in our church.
I do take umbrage at your comment about leaving people to hang out to dry: a particular genius in the proposal, which I have tried to underline, is that people might hang together in our church, precisely around the specifics of what they believe (and what they believe Anglicans should believe).
I do not consider that to be leaving people to hang out to dry and I ask you to reconsider that remark ...
With warm regards,
Peter

Andrei said...

And you wonder why New Zealand is a Post Christian society

This post answers that question in a nutshell

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

It would be deeply, deeply naïve to believe this was the end of the matter.

Rather than finally arriving at a destination, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa has simply turned the page on another chapter in its progressive march towards full acceptance of all things LGBT.

What has played out in the secular realm is now being played out in the Church.

30 years ago, the LGBT message was:

“All we want is decriminalization.” Then…

“All we want is to remove discrimination.” Then…

“All we want is the same rights of married couples via Civil Unions.” Then…

“All we want is marriage equality.”

Today in the Church:

“All we want is a blessing on our same sex relationships.”

And tomorrow:

“All we want is marriage equality.”

Logically, on what basis can you deny Christian marriage to those couples in a sexual relationship whose union the Church has already blessed? Surely we can only bless that which God has deemed good and has himself already blessed?

Peter, while you may be prepared to give accommodation to same sex blessings within the church, I can assure you that as far as the LGBT community is concerned, error has no rights. There is no place for bigotry in the Anglican Church, and only bigots would deny Christian marriage to those whose relationship is deemed to be good and is blessed by God.

Sooner or later Peter you will be forced to decide if you will embrace the accusations of bigotry, or if in the name of Church unity all things are permitted.

tachesterton said...

Thanks Peter. I agree with you. But then, that will not surprise anyone (and the usual suspects will be confirmed in their view that I am a lost cause).

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I guess we are a post-Christian society because people have exercised a choice to move beyond Christianity.
Being a free society impacts on our church, which enjoys democracy. In a divided church our democracy is heading us towards holding together in this way.
If not, we will have schism.
I see that is increasing people's reasons to move beyond Christianity rather than to stick with it.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Tim!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
As a church we are not agreed on changing our canon on marriage at this time. We may or may not ever change, but, somewhat contrary to your slippery slope approach, when a number of Anglicans do want marriage inequality, we seem to be saying that we are not agreed with that.
Since we are not changing our marriage canon at this time, it is not bigotry which withholds marriage from those whose relationships which are otherwise blessed, rather our lack of agreement.
A significant number of those who are not agreed about marriage equality being enshrined in our canons will not be blessing same sex partnerships.
The question before our church is whether we might permit those who do wish to bless (and, likely, also would like to see the canon change) to do so.
Those who will so bless believed God has revealed to them that such relationships may be blessed; those not doing so, do not believe that.

If you or anyone else wishes to accuse me of bigotry (to add to this afternoon's accusation of cowardice), please do so. I don't mind. I am standing form as a traditional evangelical who is also Anglican and understands that from time to time some accommodationism is required of Anglicans.

Incidentally, I do not at all think we are being naive. I am heartened in what we are doing by a comment from a senior leader of another denomination recently. In that comment he informed me that they were watching us Anglicans forge ahead so they would know what path to take, without going through our angst! That is, naivety here is assuming that Anglicans are alone in going the way we are going.

Maybe for a little bit, but watch this space for future commonality across denominations!

Anonymous said...

Peter, the most consequential parts of this report may prove to be the ones that create new structures-- eg communities of common accord, orders for consecrated life. Apart from that, my weight is on the other foot: I am less opposed to ceremonies for same sex couples than I am committed to the uncompromised freedom of the ordained to preach, teach, and counsel according to the Word of God, especially the Pauline vision of the genders, in every Anglican assembly everywhere.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Nowhere in my post do I accuse you of bigotry.

Given I understand you oppose same sex marriage in the church, I suggest that eventually you will be accused of bigotry by the LGBT faction for holding that position. At that point you will be forced to choose between the teaching of Jesus within the overall narrative of Scripture, and Anglican ‘church unity’.

We are not there yet, but if recent history is any guide we will get there. After all, it is the same spirit that has promoted both gay marriage in the world and SSB in the church.

Far better to have stood firm at the beginning than be washed aside in the subsequent tide of history, especially when it is partly of your own making. That is your own humbly joyful testimony in this post if I understood you correctly.

Brian Kelly said...

"I am standing form ['firm'?] as a traditional evangelical who is also Anglican and understands that from time to time some accommodationism is required of Anglicans."

No you're not. Peter - you are looking both ways, shifting from foot to foot and unable to say which position is true. That isn't 'evangelicalism' which is a conviction about the God-inspired nature and teaching authority of the Scriptures, it's uncertainty and confusion at best. The liberal understanding of the Bible isn't difficult at all and I grasped this long before I formally began to study theology: the Bible is a collection of human documents, an admixture of truth and error about the human experience of the divine and the theological task is to sift through these writings to 'retrieve what is useful'. It's as simple as that - and a protean contemporary culture of what is 'believable' is the tool for determining that. Millions of hectares of church reports amount simply to that.
Brendan's summary of how the debate on sexuality has proceeded (very rapidly in terms of human culture) over the last 40 years is a very accurate snapshot of western culture: decriminalise homosexual acts for over 21s (then over 18s, then over 16s, and now?) > end discrimination > grant civil unions > change the fundamental nature of marriage; and to this we must add the other great cultural pincer movements: 'celebrate' homosexualities (under the cypher of 'diversity' - but really, is anything *less diverse than homoeroticism: the failure to engage as men with women and as women with men?) and to criminalise opposition (think 'gay wedding cakes' and the cultural Marxist invention of 'hate speech').
It is the catholic evangelical understanding of Scripture that is infinitely more challenging - and that is not what you 'stand firm' for here.
Are you a coward? Perhaps - but then so am I and my courage doesn't get tested so openly. But after more than two-thirds of my life as an Anglican I will sadly walk away from it if it turns its back on the teaching of the Scriptures. The Gospel is more important to me than a denomination - or a sect.

Is Tim a lost cause? Nobody is lost until God says so. Prayer conquers the world. Accommodation doesn't. Try reading the First Letter of John.

Brian Kelly said...

Andrei: a 'post-Christian society' is a very sad thing to behold.
But Scripture makes it clear that in the eyes of Christ the Judge a far, far more terrible thing is a post-Christian church. The Letter to the Hebrews warns about those who crucify the Son of God afresh through their apostasy - the word that Peter can't seem to find.

This is what is happening to western Anglicanism and has already engulfed Scottish Presbyterianism.
Both churches are disappearing from their societies but are hoping to hang on because they still have some real estate to look after.
This is also why Andy Lines was consecrated a bishop last week in Wheaton. Rebirth from the ruins is never painless but it is happening. We are not going to go the way of New England, once the most religious part of the United States, now the most godless.

Jonathan said...

Can you or anyone please shed some light on the Orders of Consecrated Life? Are you envisaging them as (amongst other things) ways in which pro-SSB parishes in "conservative" dioceses, or not-pro-SSB parishes in "liberal" dioceses can ensure that have the opposite policy from their diocesan bishop exercising his or her freedom to enable (or prevent) SSB from happening in one or more parishes in that diocese?

"I am concerned that my parish, when it comes time to choose a new vicar, will be bullied by the Nomination Board into accepting a priest who will reverse my parish's policy on blessing of same sex partnerships. That can be prevented because parishes and individuals will be able to form communities of common accord with other like-minded parishes. Bishops must respect the ethos of those communities in making their appointment, indeed the appointee must come from within the community to which the parish belongs.

Could result in oscillating policies when vestries (or bishops) change...

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
It was the logic of your post rather than any direct comment made by you to me which I was responding to!

If I had stood firm at the beginning?
Actually, I have stood firm in all sorts of ways, for many years, some unseen, many, I am sure, forgotten (e.g. a speech I made at GS 2004).
Let's see where standing firm has gotten us to? (Including the standing firm of others at subsequent GSs - I have not been a member since 2004) Oh, that's right, it has gotten us precisely to this point, where out of the resistance shown at 2014 and 2016 by conservatives, we have this proposal rather than the travesty presented (and rejected) at 2016.

My question, as a conservative is, will we accept the grace and generosity shown us by the process of the working group, which has led to a proposal which bends over backwards to accommodate conservatives (e.g. change to declarations, no formulary, possibility of forming communities of like-minded parishes and individuals)? Or, will we ...?
If we walk away after being offered this, why didn't we walk away years ago?
Did we really expect (in a church in which our votes are not the majority, in which our episcopal representation within the House of Bishops is, well, just a few) something better than this?

Please, please, dear readers reading here, if this deal is not conservative enough for you, then very quickly come up with a better one! I cannot imagine what that better one is - short of leaving and forming my own church to suit my own beliefs and values on this matter.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
I am glad to be in a church where I can believe evangelically, somewhat conservatively, though certainly not conservative enough for tastes around here (!!), and it looks like I can continue to do so.

In this church in which I do so believe, I find many others who do not so believe. Some of them are out and out liberals who treat Scripture pretty much as you describe liberals doing so. But not all are. I find in parish communities in which I mingle some surprisingly conservative sympathisers with SSB. Perhaps because their own son or daughter is in such a relationship. Or perhaps because they recognise that this world of ours is somewhat messy relationally and their vision for the mission of God is that it is messily inclusive rather than rigidly inclusive. Whatever, your recipe here, as best I understand it, for standing firm, for declaring people who differ in their beliefs from me "apostates," and, bien sur, for reckoning with leaving the church sooner rather than later, is not a recipe which I find sits well with continuing to fellowship with the variety of Christians I find in the Anglican church.

I actually find the recipe in the proposal of the Working Group to fit better with the church I live and move in, than yours.

To follow yours, I would take a certain theological and moral high ground, and that might be good for my soul and for my conscience. But it would remove me from those who I currently journey with, a somewhat bewildering array of people, with whom I am often in disagreement, and not just on sex!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jonathan
I understand the orders of consecrated life to be precisely that: a way for vicar/parishes to not only act differently to their bishop (on this particular matter) but also to offer some continuity in doing so.

What I do not think any canon could govern is when (say) a vestry changed (and changed its collective mind) or a bishop changes.

Presumably, then, it would be for a parish considering such a consecrated step to carefully consider whether it was travelling in a direction the parish had already successfully travelled in through previous eras; and it would be for a diocesan electoral synod to carefully consider which candidates being considered were committed to the direction the Diocese had been travelling in to date.

Overall I think we do this kind of thing reasonably well. For instance, parishes committed to women preaching regularly take care to check that a prospective vicar is not against women preaching. Dioceses choose bishops who will (say) continue to support the ministry of vocational deacons or foster the flourishing of Cursillo. All without canons/rules insisting that this or that must be considered.

Andrei said...

" I cannot imagine what that better one is - short of leaving and forming my own church to suit my own beliefs and values on this matter."

You cannot form your own church Peter - there is only one Church and you can subscribe to its teachings or not

What you are talking about is a social club with church in its title - where people get together

Ultimately the Church in the 21st century is under attack on many fronts and if the Anglican Church with a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome chooses to surrender to the zeitgeist it is nothing

And that is the point, how is any Anglican to know what sustenance or otherwise they will receive in an Anglican Church from parish to parish or even from Sunday to Sunday in a particular parish?

It goes far beyond this issue which is heresy, it has been happening for years with Anglican Bishops publicly stating agnosticism and even atheism, denying the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection

You express hurt that some do not recognize your ordination, that the Anglican Apostolic succession is not recognized by other churches.

We were happy 15 years ago to allow our youngest to attend an Anglican Sunday school but the woman who encouraged us to do this is no longer an Anglican and if the situation arose today they wouldn't be permitted to do this

How can anybody raise children in the Faith as we have received it if there are those hell bent on rewriting it to appease a Godless society? And to be frank looking really really goofy in the process.

But no matter how much the Anglican church compromises with the cultural elites of this country they will never attract them to the Church, they will just drive the Faithful to dispair

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

I wasn’t around to hear your speech to Synod of 2004, although should you wish to publish it, then I’ll gladly read it, and hopefully be encouraged by it.

I do sense a level of emotional and perhaps spiritual exhaustion in your reply, or is it just an expression of pragmatic resignation that I hear? I wonder, (and this is from some distance) if you have perceived the writing on the wall in terms of the church’s spiritual direction on this subject for some time, and consequently you have put your considerable energies into finding an accommodation for orthodoxy to avoid being the last person thrown under the bus of inclusion, equality and diversity?

Consequently, our frustrations sound like ingratitude to your ears.

I’m conscious that you and many others have invested their lives in Anglicanism, whereas my stake is small and comparatively insignificant. Perhaps had I been in your shoes, I too would have sought to rescue something of an orthodox position from the rising tide of apostasy. How then can I condemn you?

Still, the outcome being as it is, allows apostasy to flourish under the Anglican tent, presumably with the blessing of its Bishops, while orthodox Christians are thrown something of an olive branch. “You can keep your bigoted ideas about human sexuality for now.”

Well, thanks.

Peter it has never been about finding a church that suits my/our own beliefs. It's about defending the faith that has been handed down to us by the Apostles and the Prophets for 2,000 years.

It seems to me that an exodus is inevitable, the only question remaining is the timing and the scale.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I think you are right - some exasperation has crept into my comments tonight.
I am not at all sure that the orthodox position has needed rescuing in our church - its strength is pretty widespread if you are meaning creedal orthodoxy.
If by orthodoxy you are specifically referring to an orthodox view of marriage and sexuality, then even that position hardly needs rescuing - adherence to it is widespread (as I noted during our recent Respectful Conversations in the Diocese of Christchurch) but it does need a space provided for with some protections if we are not to have schism.
An exodus may be inevitable but if it comes to pass I do not think it is going to consist of many Anglicans. Will Polynesia leave over this? No. Will the Diocese of Nelson? No.
There will be many orthodox conservatives torn between staying with those who stay or going with those who go.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; although I would not have called them beautiful, these recommendations are far more favourable than others you might have been saddled with. Like many (though not all) commenters here, I think same sexual relationship blessings are a paradox. Nevertheless, if people who identify as orthodox want to remain part of ACANZP, this outcome would seem the best that could be achieved. Brendan is probably right that this is only stage 1 of 10 on the activist journey, but the only other option would be to leave and, without more negative circumstances, that would not yet appear necessary. Perhaps you can all keep those new Orders in the back of your minds in the same way I think I might need the Society of St Pius X one day.

Nick

Father Ron said...

Hi, Peter; from on board the good ship 'Ventura', on the Bay of Biscay en-route to Madeira (Canary Islands); I salute your comment on the Report of the Committee on Motion 29:

Quote: "My argument here is that in a tricky, challenging situation in which we are not agreed, we have a proposal which has a quality of elegance to it, which demonstrates deep listening to speeches at the last General Synod and to submissions made to the Working Group, and, critically, a will to make some significant changes to the way we do things.

And all with a view to holding us together.

I hope this means no one leaves.

But if some do, I believe the losses will be few rather than many." Unquote
__________________________________________________________________

Your reasoning - despite your traditional Evangelical tendency to support the status quo - seems, to me at least, eminently eirenic, but to those who have a problem with God's creation and acceptance of LGBTI people, it seems to be - from the tone of your critics here - insupportable.

Peter, I have always respected your tradition in the Anglican Church - as, I believe, you have mine. Our joint duty and responsibility as God's Ministers is to help as many people as possible to recognise and understand the total and unreserved love of God for Sinners, even including ourselves. Thank you for your tolerance of such as myself and the cause I serve in Christ's Name.

williamp said...

As a former Anglican (born and residing in the U.S.) and a retired attorney, I'm struck by what is purportedly offered as a resolution of an issue but which, in reality, is an artificial and arbitrary device deserving of a rapid discard. Sadly, the reality of this device is a future of succeeding theological arbitrariness rather than reliance on Scriptural guidance and necessary orderliness. In the English legal system, governmental actions that are arbitrary and capricious in nature would fail to meet the test of legality, a well-deserved fate morally and with regard to practicality. The presence and participation of "gays", either celibate or non-celibate, in a church is obviously not the issue involved. What is involved is the answer to this question: In Scripture, is there clear ambiguity regarding the issues relevant to the resolution? If there is no such ambiguity, there can be no "resolution" to deal with and the resolution fails. Otherwise, a church is willing to accept something clearly less than living in a structure built on a solid foundation. The occupancy of a structure built on the sand of this resolution should expect to experience the future that such a foundation will offer.

tachesterton said...

'Is Tim a lost cause? Nobody is lost until God says so. Prayer conquers the world. Accommodation doesn't. Try reading the First Letter of John.'

You're assuming I haven't?

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Thank you Nick, Ron, Willi for recent comments which offer degrees of appreciation for what is proposed.
Whether we get to an Anglican Down Under equivalent of the SSPX is an interesting thought to ponder!?

Glen Young said...



" A beautiful Anglican accommodation"

Well,I guess that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

At P.V.A.,today, a long retired vicar lamented that it looks as though society is leading the Church rather than Church being the light on the hill.

There is so much that could be said,but it has already been expressed.Peter,you know where I stand on the issue of Constitutional adherence to the Doctrine and Formularies.

Sadly,a Church I once loved, is fast becoming a 'nothing burger,served with up sized lashings of theological misrepresentations'.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
All understood, except, what does "PVA" refer to?

Jonathan said...

Hello Peter, thanks for the clarification on the Orders. I am wondering in light of this whether “may”, in the following part of the report, would be more accurately worded as “shall, if a ministry unit requests it.” (I.e. if that ministry unit is part of an Order with a different conviction to their bishop.)

“D1 The WG recommends that the decision to authorise a service of blessing for same gender couples in a civil marriage (the service) should rest with amorangi and diocesan bishops; who in turn may authorise individual clergy to conduct services only within their respective ministry units.”

Peter Carrell said...

I am sure, Jonathan, that such matters of nuance will be the things our synods discuss as we engage with the proposal in the next few months.

Steve McNabb said...

Yes synods are very good at straining gnats and swallowing camels. Steve

Brian Kelly said...

What Professor Robert George said in 2014 is all the more relevant today. Shame is one of the strongest social factors ever known - which is why the sexual revisionists settled on the word 'Pride' to characterise the outlook they wished to engender.
Is New Zealand Anglicanism too theologically ignorant to know that pride is the root of all sins?
Those who love the sect of Anglicanism more than they love Christianity are in for a sad arrival in their 'journey of faith'.

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=28-03-003-e

Jonathan said...

Thank you, Peter. The less ambiguity in what Synods are discussing, the more productive the discussion perhaps. Would you see ordination of people in SSM's (should we come to a point where they are blessed by the church) as a logical outcome of this Report? Or would you see that as a sepatate issue requiring a separate discussion?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
Not if you are there! :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jonathan
The report/recommendations doesn't touch on that directly (as far as I can see).
I would tend to assume (in the absence of other guidance) that that means that bishops would be able to accept candidates for ordinations, applications for licensed positions from those in blessed relationships.

Note: (1) we already have partnered clergy in licensed positions; (2) in the light of our civil laws re non-discrimination I do not think bishops within a jurisdiction permitting blessings could refuse an application from a blessed/partnered person (all other things being equal).

But these are "my thoughts." I am not a lawyer ...

Glen Young said...



Hi Peter,

P.V.A. is the Parish Veterans Association.I notice that the Working Group have
recommended a change to the practice of signing 'submission to the authority of G.S.'; after they drove two vicars out of the Church for that very issue. I know that Michael has a thriving and growing Church in Hamilton.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Glen for the elucidation.
The Working Group, of course, drove no one out of anywhere - it is more accurate to ask whether the Working Group considered and applied some learning from the experiences you mention.
It is not for me to speak for those vicars, nor the Dioceses in which they served, so my next observation is simply a general one, about belonging to our church: it may be that if the proposal is agreed by GS that not only will it enable current members of our church to remain in it, it may also open the door for new members or for returning members.

Liturgy said...

From the tenor of some of the discussion here, I am not as sanguine as you, Peter, that were all this to pass, clergy in blessed same-sex relationships thereby were automatically categorised as "chaste" for the requirements of licensing. Jonathan's question needs clarification. From the point of view of some along the spectrum represented by your readership, having this provision for pew-sitters may be one thing, having it for those teaching from the front and having church oversight might be quite another. Anyone here think like this?

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bosco
Dare one speak of the devil (lies in the detail)?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Bosco

The proponents of SSB will expect us to consume the whole ensalada. There was no talk of celibacy for those who are to be blessed under the terms of the existing proposal, and logically how can anyone deny ordination to those living in a good and blessed relationship?

As I reflected in a previous post, SSB is not a destination but one small step on a lengthy journey that we have all witnessed played out in culture. What part of 'diversity and inclusion' do you not understand?

Most Anglicans are so practiced at ‘nice’ they have no idea what they are dealing with, and (sadly) an insufficient theological framework that would allow them to push back. For the remainder that harbour doubts, a few more 'respectful conversations' promoted by our Bishop(s) should create an environment that mitigates against public dissent.

Brian Kelly said...

Brendan is correct - 'same sex blessings' is only one part of a much greater thing that some are so close to they cannot recognise for what it is - just as you will only properly recognise a mountain (or a murder) by standing a little further back.
Gavin Ashenden recognises here this is all going: apostasy into a new Jungian-Rogerian type of religion that uses Christian vocabulary about 'love' and 'the self' but denies the actual Christological and teleological meaning of those words. And some of the people leading this charge call themselves 'evangelicals' too!
It is sad that Peter cannot see and understand this - or recognise how it has come about.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYCrz8k2wFc

Peter Carrell said...

I seem to be making lots of people sad these days, Brian!
I might be seeing more than you think I do.
But am not entirely persuaded by some of what I see of Gavin Ashenden's writing. For example, in this https://ashenden.org/2017/07/09/sin-at-synod-how-the-church-forbad-forgiveness/ , I find myself asking whether we are all equally in the same situation as sinners with disordered sexual desires ("all human beings, all straights, gays and ‘LGBTI-QWERTY’& other alphabetic variants, have disordered sexual and other longings."). Here is the thing: no matter what is going on in me with my disordered sexual desires, as a married man I have an opportunity to order some of those desires in a fulfilling, holy way, even as I need to constrain others, resist temptation, etc. I wonder if we married straights quite get what a bind we place unable-to-marry-or-have-a-permanent-relationship-blessed gays/lesbians in with this kind of talk? Ashenden shows very little, perhaps even no empathy with the plight of gay/lesbian Christians with his all or nothing approach.

Now he might be right (about the slippery slope) and I might be wrong (to support a modest proposal for some priests in our church, if they are so convicted, which I am not, to offer blessings) but, frankly, Brian, I would have a little more time for his kind of talk if he showed more empathy and actual understanding that there is not a level battle field as we engage our warring desires (in his writings - I make no judgment about the person he is and the way he relates to people.)

Brian Kelly said...

"I would have a little more time for his kind of talk if he showed more empathy and actual understanding that there is not a level battle field as we engage our warring desires (in his writings - I make no judgment about the person he is and the way he relates to people.)"

- Not good enough, Peter. You can't even see the contradiction in your last sentence. You have in fact condemned him as a person 'lacking empathy' (a quality of imagination hard enough at the best of times!) without apparently knowing anything of his story - as one who keenly supported the gay-affirming movement years ago (when I met him, once) - and you fall into the emotive error of confusing pastoral presentation (as you see it) with actual conviction and love. You should listen to his discussion with Kevin Kallesen first. Ashenden understands the issues and knows the actors in this story FAR BETTER than you give him credit for. Try talking to the man ( email him - he's extremely approachable) and you will realise you are talking with a first-rate theological mind with a warm Christ-centred heart. Your condemnation of his supposed 'lack of empathy' is unworthy.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Fair point - and yes, I have some awareness of his life story, change from one meta-narrative to another.
I will change what I am trying to say: in the writing at the link cited above I (a) find myself unconvinced by his approach which, to me, does not acknowledge important differences in circumstances between heterosexuals and homosexuals; (b) wonder if more neutral observers than either himself, myself or yourself would find what he says persuasive.

Brian Kelly said...

Thank you for responding graciously to my words, where I expressed myself more sharply than I should have.
The nub of the matter is expressed in these questions which I am sure you have considered before:
1. Does God actually 'create' ( = intentionally bring into being) a certain sub-set of human beings to be homosexual or bisexual in their sexual affections?
If 'yes' (as Rom Smith claims and so too does David Gillett, the retired bishop who was once Principal of Trinity College Bristol), then there is no question that those affections must be affirmed as part of God's good creation - and stop pussyfooting over 'same sex marriage'. Catch up with modern secular culture.
If 'no', then there can no question of 'affirming' it as good. Remember Athanasius at Nicea. Remember Luther at Worms. Remember your own soul.
If 'unsure', then it is hardly wise to go against the catholic consensus of Bible, tradition and reason - as well as what biology teaches (human teleology).
2. If people with homosexual affections feel frustration and loneliness at times, is this not also the experience of a much larger number of people with heterosexual affections for whom marriage is not a realistic possibility? How would you counsel them to deal with loneliness or sexual tension in their lives? Through one-night stands or prostitution? If not, why not?
You do see the parallel in moral reasoning, don't you?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
All good!
In response: yes, I do see the parallel in moral reasoning.
I would still say, with specific reference to (2), that heterosexuals might still have in the back of their minds, even if it is receding as the years advance, hope of marriage (and some wonderful stories can be told of improbable marriages, etc).
On "unsure" I suggest we are in a somewhat interesting situation (challenge?) as a Western culture: we now have (state) married same sex couples, some of whom are active in the church. 'Catholic consensus" teaches they should be celibate but does it teach that such a couple should live apart (for avoidance of temptation)? Sociality, community, domesticity are valued within that consensus!
(I have limited access to the internet for the next few days so may not be able to continue further conversation on this till next week. Should be able to post any further comments).

Brian Kelly said...

Peter - you didn't answer my Question 1:

"1. Does God actually 'create' ( = intentionally bring into being) a certain sub-set of human beings to be homosexual or bisexual in their sexual affections?"

This the nub of the question. I know what Ron Smith and David Gillett say on this. Both of them have pontificated (I use that word without prejudice) that God has indeed 'created some people homosexual or bisexual' [and presumably also transsexual - but that would lead them in a completely different direction from what they want to assert now]. On this I am sure they are completely *WRONG* and fatally misunderstand the doctrines of Creation and the Fall - but at least they have made their opinion clear. I suspect Bosco Peters holds the same view but I'll let him answer for himself.

But I want to know what Peter Carrell thinks on this, the most important and central issue. Please don't kick this into the long grass. It's what the whole debate is about. Anything else is evasion.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

With respect to your comments regarding those in same sex relationships you state: 'Catholic consensus" teaches they should be celibate but does it teach that such a couple should live apart (for avoidance of temptation)? Sociality, community, domesticity are valued within that consensus!”

The avoidance of temptation is no small thing. (1Thess 5:22)

Fleeing immorality is no small thing. (1Cor 6:18).

Being an example to others is no small thing. (1Peter 5:3)

The Western church struggles to produce sexually moral disciples who are prepared to flee immorality, avoid temptation and be an example to others, and you appear uncertain if that’s even a legitimate Biblical expectation?

If we refuse to disciple believers within our churches, how can we expect to disciple the nations? (Matt 28:19)

Brian Kelly said...

Gavin Ashenden knows the LGBTetc-affirming viewpoint very well form the inside and shared it for 15 years until he reconsidered the meaning of orthodoxy and investigated what the fundamental beliefs of liberalism really entail - Rogerian personalism, contrasted with the biblical anthropology - as he explains in this post:

http://archbishopcranmer.com/

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Absence of evidence is not evidence of avoidance. I didn't answer the question because I agree with you.

Hi Brendan
I see what you are saying, of course, but I do not think it helpful to break loving relationships apart as that seems merciless. I would not, for example, agree with those Christians who think second marriages should be ended in order for spouses to resume first marriages.

I see, by the way, that Gavin Ashenden has a further post on Cranmer which I shall read with interest.

Andrei said...

"...but I do not think it helpful to break loving relationships apart as that seems merciless."

Therein lies the difference perhaps between the thinking of Eastern and Western Christianity

If two people of the same sex establish a relationship which may or may not be sexual that is a matter between them and God and none of our business

By rewriting marriage to accommodate this situation is making it our business and helps no one in the long term.

And to create the narrative that we are being bigoted and want to "break up" this relationship if we do not rewrite marriage to accommodate this is actually malignant and emotional blackmail

Couldn't care less how other people live their lives provided it doesn't impact me or hurt others but marriage is a hetrosexual institution and it is about raising children in a family and that I care about

Malcolm Falloon said...

Peter,

Having had time to read the report I find I cannot share your view that it represents a “beautiful Anglican accommodation”. Your blog seems more inspired by a personal sense of relief than by a critical analysis of the contents. Perhaps that is yet to come. For my part, I think there are a number of issues and assumptions that need to be teased out before a verdict can be given.

For example, the report speaks of diocesan bishops as safeguarding our peaceful co-existence, but then suggests we need to recognise other orders of consecrated life. I don’t think the relationship between the two has been articulated very clearly, nor how these new structures will help the situation.

When it comes to safeguarding our peaceful co-existence, I would have thought that the church’s constitution remains our best defence. Yet the report is silent on the constitutional issue of whether the blessing of same-sex relationships is in fact consistent with, and does not change or diminish, our church’s existing doctrine of marriage. Would it not be best to have that matter settled before the General Synod debate instead of afterwards?

I realise that the report is attempting to be pragmatic and keep us all together on the same wagon. But it does no good to anyone if the wagon is missing a few wheels.

Malcolm

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian, I both like and quibble with your questions #1 and #2 which are akin to Williamp's question, which we might call #3.

#1. "Does God actually 'create' ( = intentionally bring into being) a certain sub-set of human beings to be homosexual or bisexual in their sexual affections?"

To the degree that sexual orientation is a system dependent, even in its mental operations, on at least some biological components, yes. Compared to Oliver Sacks's man who mistook his wife for a hat, a man who mistook another man for his wife seems somewhat normal. God has created life of probabilistic mechanisms that can and do fail in individual cases (eg intersexed persons, the man born blind). But, at least for the present, there is no grounded and agreed estimate of the degree to which sexual orientation depends on processes known to be probabilistic.

#2. "How would you counsel [people with homosexual affections... people with heterosexual affections for whom marriage is not a realistic possibility] to deal with loneliness or sexual tension in their lives?"

Both of the usual sides lay out a standard sexual program for everybody and nobody. The gospel point of doing so in a post-Constantinian society is not clear.

If the hypothesised people have no allegiance to Christ, then the higher duty is to preach the gospel to them. If they already trust in him, then the further duty is to teach them both sanctification and vocation, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in union with Christ, and in the providence of the Father. Sanctification, of course, is a reordering of life toward virtues strengthened in temptation, suffering, and prayer that God transfigures into gifts. Vocation is life in the world as God's image-bearer. In a life being sanctified, marriage is, not prostitution "to deal with loneliness or sexual tension," but a divine vocation to a life proleptic of the new creation.

None of this makes sense before it is lived. We do not understand so that we can obey; we obey so that we can understand. And what we understand is the presence of the Kingdom, not the consummation of all things. So even a well-ordered soul will have a rare passage through the labyrinth of time; one traveling with an improbable wound will have one all the more unique. Each believer with some disordered sexual desires who does progress in the Way will learn how to offer those desires to God's will with thanksgiving for all things. The power to bind and to loose was given to bishops and priests so that personal decisions about practise in this aeon between the times need not be taken alone.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

#3. In Scripture, is there clear ambiguity regarding the issues relevant to the resolution? If there is no such ambiguity, there can be no "resolution" to deal with and the resolution fails.

No, the scriptures are not ambiguous about homosexual practise in antiquity, but there are other issues relevant to the resolution, and yes, the scriptures read as a whole frame some of them differently to different students. For example, there is disagreement on the nature of church unity in Christ, and on whether those following a synod's improvisation in this matter are defying the scriptures.

With respect to same sex marriage, the central question is: if a believer has no presumed vocation to be married according to sex, then is his sexuality superfluous to him because no scriptural vocation requires it (opponents), or, given that sexuality is integral to persons, must his (or hers) have another presumed vocation not explicit in scripture (proponents)?

My view: it is not necessarily superfluous, but its proper integration is discerned from within rather than presumed from without according to some parliamentary process. Homosexuals in Christ are involuntary contemplatives, and those churches are most unhelpful to them that are most hysterically terrified of the interior journey homosexuals cannot avoid.

A side question important to discussions of the main one is: do the Bible's prohibitions of homosexual acts primarily express a divine antipathy to these acts, or do they primarily frame the Bible's theme that the two sexes are called together for procreation and will be reconciled in Christ?

My view: the latter one.

Bowman Walton

Brendan McNeill said...


“I see what you are saying, of course, but I do not think it helpful to break loving relationships apart as that seems merciless.” – Peter

Hmm, well yes, but I note that Paul felt compelled by the Spirit of God to break up a loving relationship in 1 Corinthians 5, and hand the offender over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. Peter, would you concede that Paul acted mercifully in that context and if so, how then does your objection to the breakup of Christians in a homosexual relationship make any sense?

Jesus also had some thoughts on this matter:

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:28-30

Jesus states that sexual immorality is serious enough to condemn someone to perdition. Therefore, can you explain how is it merciless to insist that a Christian couple in a same sex relationship separate for the sake of their eternal salvation?

Brian Kelly said...

Hi, Anonymous – I’m guessing (probabilistically, using my stylometric abacus) this is Bowman incognito? .

“God has created life of probabilistic mechanisms that can and do fail in individual cases (eg intersexed persons, the man born blind). But, at least for the present, there is no grounded and agreed estimate of the degree to which sexual orientation depends on processes known to be probabilistic.”
- Being born blind is always caused either by a genetic failure or some trauma suffered during gestation (e.g. injury, sickness, poisoning). It isn’t a normal variant. Despite all that has been asserted in recent years, nobody is ‘born gay’ – or born heterosexual for that matter. In any case, the Christian doctrine of Creation (and Re-creation in Christ) is teleological even more than it is empirical – and it is never exampled without the fact of the Fall in every life, including those being redeemed. Modern Western Anglicanism has ceased to be theological and has become latecomers to sociology: an etiolated version of Schleiermacher.

On Christian obedience:

“None of this makes sense before it is lived. We do not understand so that we can obey; we obey so that we can understand. And what we understand is the presence of the Kingdom, not the consummation of all things.”
Ain’t that the truth! But what happens when people cease to believe in life after death and the Resurrection of the Body? I will say this with no pleasure or triumph: Katherine Jefferts Schori was (and may still be, God only knows) by her own words an unbeliever in some of the central doctrines of the Christian faith. It was a great scandal that such a person led Tec but she wasn’t alone. Tec’s sexual revisionism was not a blip but stemmed directly from its regnant Unitarianism dressed up in Catholic language (have you forgotten Spong already?). As I have said many, many times: truth is systemic (just as the body is systemic and depends on nutrition and aerobic respiration of all its parts); and error (like poison and disease) likewise is systemic: it cannot be contained and isolated in one part (like a stupid tattoo you now regret) but replicates and reconfigures.
“Each believer with some disordered sexual desires who does progress in the Way will learn how to offer those desires to God's will with thanksgiving for all things.”
Yes – but if a person doesn’t recognise such desires as ‘disordered’ in the first place, he or she probably won’t be ‘offering them to God’s will’ – to do what? To change them? To contain them? That’s not the message of Pride (!) at all! DESIRE is good, according to the New Religion.
Yes, here’s the weird, weird story to come out of England’s General Synod last week.
1. You must NOT try to change the sexual desires of a person because that would be “harmful” (which will be news to anyone who has ever read the New Testament) – because ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’.
2. On the other hand, God does make mistakes – because some men think they should be women and some women think they should be men – and therefore genitals and breasts should be amputated and other parts surgically altered and hormones injected.

Western Anglicanism: tragedy or farce? I suppose it depends whether you’re in the stalls or on the stage.

Brian Kelly said...

Brendan, appeals to the Scriptures imply that these will be taken seriously as the ruling voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church. But not so today. They are trumped by personal judgment of what is 'good' and 'merciful' - as if the Holy Spirit did not define 'hesed' and 'to kalon' but rather this is given to the judgment of a man. Why else have a Reformation if not to replace the Roman papacy with the papacy of all believers? Do you not see that liberal Anglicanism - or better, Anglican liberalism - is really a different religion, gussied up with Christian phrases and language here and there but fundamentally something else from what Christ and his apostles taught? The Soviet Union had a Ministry of Justice too, y'know. Not that that made any difference to the millions in the Gulags.

Brendan McNeill said...

“Brendan, appeals to the Scriptures imply that these will be taken seriously as the ruling voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church. But not so today. They are trumped by personal judgment of what is 'good' and 'merciful'.” – Brian

Brian, thank you for the salutary reminder. It is deeply disappointing to have Scripture brushed aside as secondary to this discussion, but with the best will in the world it is difficult to draw any other conclusion. Did the Apostle prophesy about these days in 2 Peter 2, or in the book of Jude? These passages contain awful condemnations of those who ‘pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality’ (Jude 1:4)

Is this where we have arrived in the Anglican church?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your rapid reply, Brian. My byline is on the half of my comment that addressed #3. It has not appeared.

Your question #1 and my reply to it engage the same subtle distinction in God's "intention" that we discussed a few months ago with respect to theodicy. With respect to God's creative providence, we often see both a teleology that we, following scripture, attribute to his will and also some occasional exceptions to it, usually bad. How do we account for the exceptions? Do we conclude that he has two wills? That would imply that he is the author of evil. Or do we say that his power did not extend far enough to cover the exceptional cases? That would imply a limit on divine omnipotence. But as we have already observed that divine omnipotence has intrinsic limits, so the latter is the preferable horn of the dilemma. And God's choice of a probabilistic order for life fits it perfectly.

Do we then conclude that exceptions necessarily fall outside of his Creator's love altogether? No, for God's sustaining providence, a different sort of intention, may adopt them, and his governing providence, a third sort of intention, may give them a place in his kingdom. Given that persons with defects are nevertheless his image-bearers, which no one denies, it seems certain that he does this. And our religion finds ultimate meaning, not in protology, but in eschatology.

From the mere existence of the intersexed, we can be certain that there are at least some instances of persons born outside the Creator's intended teleology for sex. And insofar as the mind depends on the brain, it would be surprising if there were never mental exceptions to that teleology as well as the obvious physical one, because the brain is, if anything, more probabilistic and more complex in its operations than mere vascular structures. (Indeed, a human brain is the most complexly ordered matter in the known universe.) To argue that, say, sexual orientation is so determined that, uniquely among living systems, it alone never fails would be a fool's errand. But there have been such fools on both sides of this debate, some denying that exceptions to the teleological norm can exist at birth (the intersexed?), and others denying that an ateleological orientation is exceptional (eg gay gene).

Does it make theological sense to lump all the exceptional cases together and declare them to be a second teleology alongside the first? Maybe, if one can find a scriptural telos for that teleology, and if that telos makes sanctified sense in some critical mass of the cases; no, if one cannot. With that, we get to my answer to Williamp's #3, which I still hope may appear.

Here it is enough to say that we have so little credible knowledge about disciples of Jesus with sexual exceptions that there is no ground for making sweeping legislation about it. But we do have a ministry of the Word that is ordained precisely to deal with the difficult cases, one by one.

Bowman Walton


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan and Brian
I suggest Titus 2:5b, that the word of God might not be reviled, is a starting point for our scriptural reflections on these matters. Would the church breaking up Covenanter relationships enhance the reputation of God's Word in the world or deepen the world's revulsion?
As for mercy, yes, you could take the line that Paul did and apply it without adjustment to the world we live in today. Though if you do, I wonder which churches around the world share your interpretation and application and eager desire to implement accordingly?
This is a brief comment so I do not pretend it is a complete rejoinder. But I do ask whether your proposal for strict discipline is what Jesus would do and urge at this time. I diner if he would allow the Spirit, for instance, to convict the sinner, ahead of the church taking to just violating discipline?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
It is a beautfiul accommodation because it is the outcome of an awkward, arguably even ugly process through a couple of GSs which yet has led to a clever, sensitive group, on behalf of us all, fashioning from the awkward even ugly bits of the past an elegant accommodation which is, given what was previously proposed, aligned in a lovely way with objections-which-sought-a-better-way.
That gives me relief, yes, and does not deny the need for analysis.
But my analysis is that, given the exigencies of the situation, it is a beautiful accommodation.
It may be that we should check it off against the constitution but that could delay our process in ways which are counter productive all around.
It may be that there are roles for bishops and responses from us that are going to prove difficult but there my question is, what better way is more acceptable moving forward?
This group, I encourage all readers to note, has received a number of submissions and it might just be fair to presume that if there is a better way forward, that has not made itself felt in what has been an open process.
A further beauty, however, of the matter at hand is that we yet can find that better way forward and have until November to make further submissions!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Brian, I have enjoyed your comments, but my replies to them seem not to be getting onscreen.

Peter and Malcolm, a thought experiment.

The Anglican debates over birth control several decades ago were far more weighty than That Topic is now. The matter itself is more fundamental, and many more people have been affected by the result. If the disputants had been as fissiparous then as their spiritual grandchildren are today, their schism would have divided the Communion everywhere. By the middle 1960s, parishes across streets from one other would have the same tradition, but be divided by different pastoral practises.

Nevertheless, C21 Anglicans on your blessed isles would have some compelling reasons, both theological and local, to restore much of the unity that their grandparents had lost. Doubtless much debate would ensue, but sooner or later a joint working group from the two churches would bring forth a proposal for inter-communion and collaboration with a hedge that conserved unchanged the distinct and still evolving pastoral traditions.

What would we think of that? And how does it differ from the present proposal?

Bowman Walton

RevGlen said...

Hi Peter.
Many thanks for your considered thoughts on the most recent Way Forward report. I'm not sure if I would apply the adjective "beautiful" to what the working group has come up with. But noting Rosemary Pearce's comments about her experience of the group's deliberations, I would apply the word 'inspired.' There is an implication of grace and generosity of spirit as well as a sense of being held and guided by God through the prayer support of others. For this we can give thanks.

I also want to say a public THANK YOU to you for your efforts over the years which have been partly instrumental in getting us to where we are now.
As you say, "Actually, I have stood firm in all sorts of ways, for many years, some unseen, many, I am sure, forgotten (e.g. a speech I made at GS 2004).
Let's see where standing firm has gotten us to? (Including the standing firm of others at subsequent GSs - I have not been a member since 2004) Oh, that's right, it has gotten us precisely to this point, where out of the resistance shown at 2014 and 2016 by conservatives, we have this proposal
rather than the travesty presented (and rejected) at 2016."

In place of epithet's such as 'cowardice' and 'bigoted', I would offer 'statesmanship' - a quality sadly in short supply in our church family these days. You are in good company with others in church and public life who have the courage to try to stand up for what they believe while finding constructive ways forward in challenging conflicted situations. It's easy to hide oneself in one's particular ghetto and take pot shots through the little apertures. I looked up my trusty Oxford Dictionary to find a definition of the word "bigot". It says: "Obstinate and intolerant adherent of a creed or view.' You are just the opposite Peter. Thanks for your leadership.

Glenda


RevGlen said...

Further to my last post, sorry my reference to 'Rosemary Pearce' should have said "Jacky Pearse", as in member of the Working Group and former Gen Sec of our national church.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Glenda!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman at 1.42 pm
I don't see much difference.
I suspect that part of how we see the proposal rest on whether we see our church as mostly/sorta united and will this hold us together when we might blow apart or see our church as a coalition of various parties that will fall down unless some such proposal renews the coalition.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman July 15 at 3.22 pm
I like what you say at the end and note what Scripture conveys re sexual preference: Leviticus 18 for instance is a programme for procreative fruitfulness within an ordered society in which men do not stray from their own wives.
Antipathy in Romans 1, by contrast, is not focused against homosexuality per se but against idolatry of sex.

Brendan McNeill said...

“Hi Bowman July 15 at 3.22 pm
I like what you say at the end and note what Scripture conveys re sexual preference: Leviticus 18 for instance is a programme for procreative fruitfulness within an ordered society in which men do not stray from their own wives.” – Peter Carrell

Peter, that is a very narrow and euphemistic reading of Leviticus 18. The full context for the list of sexual prohibitions in this chapter, including homosexual sex, is found in verses 24 – 25:

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”

These sexual practices defile both the people who practice them and the land in which they live. Ultimately, the land vomits them out. I see nothing in Scripture that negates these passages. Jesus affirmed the validity of Leviticus 18 when he condemned the sin of adultery which is contained in this text.

I have to ask, is there no fear of God in the Anglican Church, that it should now seek to bless a practice that God has deemed detestable? How can we escape the judgement of God, if we bless and approve the very same sexual practices that defiled the land of Canaan and invoked God’s judgement in time and history? Why should we be exempt?

Brian Kelly said...

"Antipathy in Romans 1, by contrast, is not focused against homosexuality per se but against idolatry of sex"

Nonsense. You're not reading the text correctly at all. The idolatry in verses 23 and 25 is of 'images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles', of people who 'exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator'. I don't see any 'idolatry of sex' in this.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
My fear is that I will fail our Lord and meet and suffer his judgement according to James 2:13.
There are many things happening in our land which I am sure the God of Leviticus (but only of Leviticus) would and should have vomited us up. The God of Leviticus and of the Gospels appears, to me, at any rate, but possibly to a couple of other Christians as well, to have moved on from that Levitical language. In the fuller revelation of God in Jesus Christ we have both an intensification of the Law and a greater sense of mercy and gracious patience being shown the earth.
I worry about your language, Brendan, about homosexuals.
Within the past one hundred years we have had homosexuals sent to the gas chambers during WW2 and more recently thrown off buildings in ISIS controlled territory. I wonder, just a little wonder on my part, whether we might find different language from the Bible to speak about homosexuals than the passages you are drawing on.
Wouldn't it be a terrifying prospect to have God question us on the day of judgement about what language we had invoked in our engagement with this topic?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
It may be nonsense - let other have their say - but I read Romans 1 as a declaration of judgment against a world which worships false gods because it makes the ultimate worth that which the eyes feast on and that which satisfies ever more greedy desires, including sexual desire. The giving up of people to exchange their nature seems language well suited to an era in which the pursuit of sexual pleasure led to sexual experimentation beyond one's usual "orientation."
Either way, it is not at all clear to me, and, as you know, to many scholars of Romans, that Romans 1 involves antipathy towards homosexuals in the sense of those whose orientation is as natural to them as my heterosexuality is natural to me. (This does not rule out other passages being antipathic).

Brian Kelly said...

Peter, it is possible to make a correct doctrinal statement but homilitecally to cite the wrong texts in support of it. I am sure that you as a NT scholar would agree with this. Romans 1 is not about 'the idolatry of sex' nor do I think that idea is expressed in any of the extant Pauline writings. The only expanded or metaphorical usage of eidolatria in Paul is Col 3.5 (par. Eph. 5.5) in reference to covetousness. Your penultimate sentence ('Either way, it is not at all clear to me, and, as you know, to many scholars of Romans, that Romans 1 involves antipathy towards homosexuals in the sense of those whose orientation is as natural to them as my heterosexuality is natural to me') smuggles in two 20th century ideas quite alien to Paul (that there is some 'thing' called 'orientation' which is other than desire or attraction) and that different humans have different 'natures'). Robert Gagnon exploded this modern eisegesis years ago and I am surprised to see you agreeing with Ron Smith that 'some people are born gay' - just as (presumably) some people 'are born with gender dysphoria'. I don't believe this for a moment - and twin studies don't bear this claim out either. And in any case, 'natural', as you know, can mean 'something you were born ('natus') with' - and that can include a whole gamut of things, from hair colour to a genetic propensity for certain cancers or other diseases.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Your references to ISIS and gas chambers notwithstanding, you managed to refrain from associating my elucidation of Leviticus 18:24-25 directly with Hitler and for that small mercy I thank you.

I note well that you and ‘a couple of other Christians’ have moved on from ‘Leviticus language’ but your problem (if I may be so bold) is that the Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul have not.

While the church in Corinth had also moved on from ‘Leviticus language’, Paul’s condemnation of them and the Christian man who was in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife was based entirely upon Leviticus 18:8.

“Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonour your father.”

This would appear to leave yourself and the ‘couple of other Christians’ who share your position out of step with both the Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul. Or is it just gay sex that God has changed his mind about? And your evidence for that is?

Peter, in truth your position is full of glaring contradictions. You cannot affirm Leviticus 18 because of its condemnation of homosexual practice, and yet you cannot disclaim it either because of the Holy Spirit’s testimony through Paul, and its condemnation of adulterous relationships that Jesus also condemned.

I don’t expect to change your mind on any of this, but at the very least I felt it was important to uphold the consistency of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments when it comes to defining sexual morality, and God’s expectations for his people, the Anglican Synod not withstanding.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian 2.16 am
Rereading my original comment re idolatry of sex and Romans 1 (and now back on a better internet connection), I need to clarify that (a) of course Romans 1 is not about idolatry of sex - it is about human rebellion against God; but (b) I think Romans 1 does includes idolatry of sex among the ills it rails against for it rails against making the created an object of worship rather than the Creator; and both ancients of 1st century Graeco-Roman culture and moderns of Western culture seem to be united in their worship of sex.

I do believe some people are born gay in at least the sense that some gay people testify to never knowing anything other than a sexual disposition towards their own sex. This indeed was the testimony of the first gay man I heard talking about his life story (in a school Liberal Studies class in the sixth form, at an Anglican school :).)

Robert Gagnon is not infallible!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan 5.32 am
We may be talking at cross-purposes.
I am questioning your invocation of Leviticus 18:24ff with its talk about those who commit the abominations of the earlier verses of the chapter being vomited out of the land, "that Levitical language."
I cannot find where Jesus or Paul supports the continuing use of such language.
I am questioning the use of such language because it sets up a framework of negativity towards homosexuals from which it is not too many steps for those, should they come to power (cf. certain Germans in the Christian Germany of the 1930s, certain ISIS terrorists in the attempt to establish a new caliphate), to then move to eliminate homosexuals.
I am quite sure you are not one of those (even if you successfully stand in this year's election!!) but I am asking you to recognise that it is not helpful to continue to cite those verses from Leviticus when they are not endorsed by Jesus or Paul.
At this point in the life cycle of the blog I am making no comment on Leviticus and its relationship with Paul's teaching (plenty has been said in the past!) save to note that there is indeed a connection between Leviticus 18:22 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Anonymous said...

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” Leviticus 18:24-25

These verses relate the family of Abraham, by whom all the nations will be blessed, to the Presence of God in Canaan.

"Do not defile yourselves..." This is purity language. It reinforces the unity of the covenant-keepers by distinguishing them from their neighbours.

"...how the nations that I am going to drive out before you..." This is causal language. The point of the passage is the chain linking the prohibited practises (prior cause) to God's actions (intermediate cause) to the displacement of the practitioners (effect). This clause locates the action in the future.

"Even the land was defiled..." First cause. This is agricultural mysticism. The land is not itself a moral agent that makes decisions or does deeds, but it does support the life of a human community, and so can receive consequences of the ethos of that community. The reference to defilement of the land clarifies that the norm transgressed is not unique to the YHWH-Abraham relationship, but is one recognised by the family's neighbours as well. However, for modern readers, it also obscures whether these norms are to be regarded as simple maxims of survival or as something more mysterious.

"...so I punished it for its sin..." Intermediate cause. We are not told what the consequences were but one could speculate that they were meteorological (long droughts), ecological (infestations, forest fires, etc), or social (corruption, crime, low birth rate, indolence, etc). In some combination of events, a time of troubles.

"...and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” Effect. "Vomit" is obviously metaphor, but it is precise: we vomit what is foreign or unassimilable. The inhabitants left land that would not sustain their way of life. Again, insofar as the land is disgusted, its inhabitants have transgressed a more than ethnic norm. This clause locates the action in the past.

So what does this causal chain say about the relation between the Abrahamic occupation and the Presence? Covenant-observance maintains the ethos that makes the place a vessel of the Presence. This passage is not addressed in the first instance to individuals. It does not directly promise gay farmers that their wells will dry up, so that they make way for fertile young families. Rather it is addressed to the covenanted community. It notes that the Presence does not dwell in an ethos characterised by acts that even the land cannot tolerate, but does not imply that the mere avoidance of these acts is enough to secure the Presence.

And what does this say about That Topic? That depends on where the Presence is found today and in what ethos it dwells, which is far more than I can consider in a comment here this morning.

Bowman Walton

Brian Kelly said...


"Robert Gagnon is not infallible!"

No, and neither is Peter Carrell - and certainly not I. But to refute Gagnon you have to read him carefully and engage with his argument, not dismiss him out of hand.
I will repeat and further explicate that if you assert 'some people are born gay', you cannot mean (at least, I hope you don't!) that in utero or at birth they had sexual affections; presumably you mean they were 'programmed' to respond that way at a certain age? If so, where is the proof of this? And if so, what does this programme consist of? A particular set of genetic information in the brain? Sorry, there is no evidence that such a genome exists. Small children are not 'heterosexual' or 'homosexual'. (Though they are usually demonstrably male or female - despite what a generation of feminists has claimed, that maleness or femaleness is socially constructed. That I do not believe at all. Male and female brains are different chromosomally.) Sexual affections develop, they are not innate. Typically such feelings do not develop consciously or in a 'willed' way, as for example a child may 'decide' to be a football player and do everything to acquire this 'identity'. But it is quite easy to see how sexualised feelings could move in an inverted, homosexual direction for any number of reasons, including trauma, abuse, shyness, negative body image or an encouraging culture; and it's significant, too, how many women move into lesbian relationships after being married to men and having children. I know a number of women like this. What is it that triggers a change like this, even in mid-life?
What I am talking about, in other words, is the plasticity of desire, in contrast to your essentialist assumption, based on what you heard in the sixth form. Our emotional life is much more complicated and opaque to ourselves than we know!
So I reject your 'born gay' assumption (and so too would Matthew Parris). But it is precisely because these inverted affections develop unconsciously and unbidden that pastoral responses to them must be different from sinful actions consciously chosen.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I sometimes wish that the Anglican Communion Office would just catalogue and number the recurring arguments and supporting evidences for That Topic. We could then have quicker and more precise conversations like--

A: A48 because e12!

B: No, j31 preempts e12, so not A48, but F64.

A: "How then do you square holding both F64 and G70, which is also entailed by j31? You cannot have it both ways!!!

B: Yes, F64 and G70 are inconsistent, as you say, but I hold only F64 and j31, not p12 and therefore not G70. I am consistent.

A: And wrong.

It would waste less time on standard arguments; it would be more clear.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Peter and Brian, your last exchange raises a question that is surprisingly seldom asked: what sort of evidence, were it to exist, would rightly induce *morally certainty* that a particular person is involuntarily outside the Biblical binary of male and female? By *morally certain* I mean, as usual, warranted confidence to act that satisfies prudence but may fall somewhat short of perfect theoretical understanding.

Bowman Walton

Andrei said...

Talk about "not seeing the wood for the trees" and missing the point entirely

(1) God's laws are not arbitrary, they are given to us for our own good and welfare

(2) There are a great variety of sexual desires and predilections found amongst fallen humanity "same sex attraction" being just one, attraction to children another, receiving sexual gratification by inflicting pain upon another (there was a recent scandal in the Church of England over this one) which in its extreme was observed with Ted Bundy's sodomizing of the corpses of his victims

(3) For a culture to persist it has to reproduce itself and transmit itself to future generations, three are a great many that have not succeeded in doing this - the Jews however have been around for millennia because they have succeeded whereas the Merkits disappeared 8 centuries ago and the last Ubykh died in 1992

(4) In our lifetime we have many relationships but those who marry hetrosexually have one relationship that potentially stands above the others
and that is that of husband and wife for it is through that relationship their language culture and religion is passed on to the future through the children they raise (on this matter Richard Dawkins is 100% on the money)

Roman Catholics in New Zealand have maintained their place in New Zealand society the percentage of them in 1900 being about 10% and their percentage today being roughly the same - whereas the Anglican population has declined precipitously from about 70% in 1900 to about 10% today. Anglicans of course accepted contraception in the thirties, Catholics don't accept it to this day, and the start of decline in Anglicans in NZ actually coincides with the advent of "the pill"

You can debate the meaning of Leviticus from now until the Day of Judgement but unless Anglican men and women marry one another and raise their children as Anglicans then Anglicans will go the way of the Ubykh

And if the Anglican leadership spent their days in these dead end debates rather than encouraging the formation of Anglican families it is certain the days of Anglicanism are numbered

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
(1) L1822 or 1C6910, or, possibly R1
(2) That is a question!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I mostly agree but I would like to make the point that sizes of most RC families I know either represent the most outstanding and consistent application of natural family planning methods imaginable or, cough-cough, possible infraction of Humanae Vitae. Consequentially, for the Catholic parish congregations I am familiar with, their size (full congregations) and their age profile (lots of older European faces, younger families from many nations) seems to have more to do with recent influxes of migrants than with strict adherence to a "non-Anglican" approach to family size.

Andrei said...

"I mostly agree but I would like to make the point that sizes of most RC families I know either represent the most outstanding and consistent application of natural family planning methods imaginable or, cough-cough, possible infraction of Humanae Vitae. "

I suspected you might respond to my comment with a response along these lines

All of us fall short when it comes to following Christ's examples and the teachings of His Church - we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world after all

So what if many, even most Catholics, do not strictly adhere to "Humanae Vitae" all the days of their lives?

All that matters for posterity is that the average Catholic raises two or more children who follow the Catholic Faith



Nor does it matter if the young families in your local Catholic Parish are immigrants - all that matters is that they are there and that enough of their children raise Catholic children which they may well do with spouses who are descended from families with a longer pedigree in New Zealand -

And after all many English immigrants to New Zealand today will have an Anglican Heritage but do not seem to seek out Anglican parishes...

The two lines of thought in this worth further exploration are (1) Cultural Christianity - expressed by Metropolitan Anthony of Blessed Memory when talking of his adolescent years reminiscing that he went to Church because "that's what Russians do" and when Anglicanism was a force in this country much of it would have been cultural christianity

Afterall over 25% of New Zealanders were not born here and the largest source of immigrant New Zealanders was the UK though this is being overtaken by East Asia

and

(2) The realization of the fact that no matter how much we are devoted to following Christ and obeying his will we will always fall short - and that he loves us for that

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I do, of course, entirely accept your main point, in my words, that the Catholic church in NZ is much, much better positioned for the future course of the 21st century (whatever course it takes re culture, politics, geopolitics, etc, etc) than the Anglican church.

For the latter, unless there are some radical changes within the next decade we are, in the words of the Dad's Army character, doomed, doomed, I tell you.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
You may well be right, not least because the science or "science" of sexuality is far from sorted out.
Nevertheless it might be a simple matter of respect for another human being to acknowledge their testimony when they testify to a non-plastic, non-elastic sexual orientation (as I myself do!).
Whether the origin of the implasticity is genetic, something to do with what their experience was in the womb, or some learned behaviour from day one of human life or a combination of such factors, does not make much difference to me if their own testimony is essentially essentialist.
Nor does such testimony necessarily make a difference to the ethical conversation (just as it does not if, say, one identifies the gene responsible for promiscuous behaviour).

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Andrei and Peter

Speaking of demographic decline, you may be interested in Mark Steyn’s latest talk, where he makes it clear the issue is not simply declining Church attendance, but a failure by Western Europe to show up for the future.

https://youtu.be/St0CTQScIxA

Also in Douglas Murray’s new book ‘The strange death of Europe’ he reflects that the Anglo-Saxon English are now a minority in London, a city that has recently elected a Muslim mayor, and there are over three million household in England where not a single adult speaks English.

It seems the ‘new peoples’ of England and Europe are more attracted to the Mosque than their local Church, although to be fair the Mosque in Luton that was attended by a recent suicidal jihadist was formally a church.

Since 2001, 500 London churches have been turned into private homes.

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10124/london-mosques-churches

Thankfully, once our respective Synod’s sort out these same sex attraction / blessing issues these alarming trends will be reversed.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

What is the basis for your claim: "Will Polynesia leave over this? No. Will the Diocese of Nelson? No."

I ask regarding the reference to the Diocese of Nelson, not Polynesia.

From the current resident of your former vicarage :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; although I agree with almost all that the usual suspects have said, the question no-one seems to address is whether this 'beautiful Anglican accommodation" is enough for people to leave or try and drive others out. Or is it the best that can be achieved? I personally find that the Francis papacy is diluting brand Catholic, but will your beautiful Anglican accommodation do the same? I note some comments above about the composition of Catholic congregations. I can only speak for my own, but the young are by no means all immigrants.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
For a diocese of our church to resolve to leave it would require a significant degree of unity on the resolution if not unanimity in its synod. I cannot see that the proposal provides sufficient grounds to presume that such high degree of unity would be achieved after synodical debate. Obviously some objections to the proposal remain (see comments above!) but the fact is that as a proposal it gives considerable safeguards to dioceses such as Nelson and Polynesia. What set of grounds would the synods of such dioceses have to establish a case for leaving?
All things are possible in synods and clearly you are in a better position than I am to judge the mind and mood of your synod so I may be whistling in the wind.
I also note that your diocesan bishop has contributed to this proposal!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I am very glad to hear that there are young people in your parish (and I am sure that is the case for many Catholic parishes, as it is for some Anglican parishes). Our question is whether we have sufficient ...

With respect to your questions I offer the following observations:
(1) Not one comment of now more than 80 comments above has offered a better suggestion. That does not mean there is not one but it is interesting that for all the criticism of the proposal made above, no one has a better proposal other than retaining the status quo (which I think is now impossible to maintain via synodical vote) or hinting at departure.
(2) I think the beauty in the proposal is that it dis-empowers anyone from driving anyone else out.
(3) Given that the proposal offers ways forward for those who have already formed convictions on the matter, that the Anglican church hereabouts already has partnered gay clergy, blessed same sex relationships from times past (before we had a self-imposed moratorium) and parishes which are known for their support of change, I do not think this proposal will "dilute" the Anglican brand.

Naturally, if it all comes to pass, we will send a copy to Francis :)

Glen Young said...



Peter,

There are 3 possible explanations for us being here; (1) The universe and life are the result of a random chance; (2) We were created by an impersonal creator and left to get on with it; (3) We were created by a Personal God and fell from the state He intended for us.

The One,Holy,Catholic and Apolstolic Church was instituted by Christ to present His Gospel to the world.If His Gospel is correct,then then the scientific study of man, is in fact the the study of 'fallen man'.Exactly,what the 'life,death and ressurection of Christ was designed to provide the narrow path from.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; this is clearly well outside my brief, but in relation to Sam's questions, there is a Diocese of Nelson statement on sexuality on that diocese's website. The statement is dated 2004 and affirmed in 2012. Although not proof that a diocese would leave a Church, it is proof of uniformity on traditional biblical sexuality. You seem to doubt such unanimity; though I might have misunderstood. I haven't checked Polynesia yet.

Nick

Anonymous said...

As President Hillary Clinton was reminding us just the other day, the future is not predictable.

But the default prediction among many professional students of religion up here is that the future of Christianity is Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Pentecostal. The Reformation impulse is spent everywhere; the strictly theological disagreements among British Protestants are incomprehensible to the great mass of their descendants. Thus, for the most part, Anglican churches that do continue will gravitate to either partnership with Rome or a niche among the Pentecostals.

Anglican evangelicals? Although theological affinity will draw some evangelical individuals nearer to Rome or the Orthodox, an attachment to low churchmanship will take most evangelical Anglican churches to Pentecostalism.

So say the prophets now, but it was not always so. When Anglicans worldwide appeared to have a firmly episcopal polity centred in Canterbury, a strong yet decentralised Anglican Communion was thought likely to attract other churches to itself over time. But Canterbury, or at least recent archbishops, has not repelled the threats to episcopal order posed by the General Convention and GAFCON. Nothing either stands for has been worth the cost to the ecumene.

In particular, That Topic is an important social question, but is mostly inconsequential for the Church's mission, and indeed the most missional churches pay it much less mind than we do. There is no good that churches can do or evil that they can avert by debating this. There are no new facts about sex firm enough to warrant revision of the positions Anglicans carefully worked out in the 1950s. Pastoral responses to civil legislation or new moral certainties are for pastors to make, case by case, with God and the 3% involved. Because only 3% are directly involved, the great mass of churchgoers have fashionable sympathies in the matter, but no existential stake in it and consequently no broad and deep knowledge of it. The endless controversy thrills happy warriors, but burdens everybody else with distraction from weightier concerns. The theological stakes of That Topic are quite low, although the issue does highlight yet another problem for an exegetical populism already untenable. In short, That Topic does not matter to our mission in the way that C20 debates about birth control and the ordination of women truly did.

Our decades of attention to That Topic actually reflect the purely civic zeal of voting blocs in a few Anglican synods. Whatever the civic outcome should be, that unedifying experience with exuberant synodicalism is the single most important result of those decades. Synods modeled on parliaments have not mediated among the Church's ancient orders; they have supplanted them with an alien dynamic that regards itself as superior to those orders. If these pretensions are not somehow deflated, Anglicans will have holy orders in the way that England has a monarchy.

But the silly passions are in one way interesting: they may also influence a body's attraction to Rome, Orthodoxy, or Pentecostalism. Will the groupings of parishes proposed in the compromise down yonder prove to be a step toward an eventual mitosis?

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I largely agree with your analysis but would make the point that, at least here in NZ, the Anglican churches pews often have a reasonable sprinkling of parishioners who once were Catholic, Pentecostal, Protestant and see Anglicanism as offering something missing from their previous spiritual home. (And, yes, other churches can similarly point to Anglican refugees in their pews!). What the future holds for Anglicanism may not only depend on how Anglicans grow and reproduce themselves but also on whether or not, as the 21C changes and as churches either resist or flex with those changes, the AC is perceived to be a church suited for the times.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I do not doubt for a moment that the Nelson 2004/2012 statement continues to receive unanimous or close to it support. My question is whether this support can be equated with a prediction that its synod would resolve to leave our church should the current proposal come to pass. My answer is that it will not so resolve because the proposal precisely offers tremendous safeguards for a diocese with such a statement guiding its thought and practice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I see that the bishop of Nelson was a member of the group that authored the proposal. Is it correct to infer his approval of the document since it does not say otherwise? If so, I think you must be correct. There would be every reason to assume acceptance of the document by the local synod.

Nick

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, may I suggest that Anglicans outside of the Diocese of Nelson (just as Anglicans outside of the Diocese of Sydney) may have little regard for the separatists among us deciding to pursue their own particular path to what they regard as 'holiness'. These 2 dioceses have long held their own specific conservative values, contrary to the forward thinking Anglicans of other dioceses, so it may be that little would change for the rest of us if both Sydney and Nelson were to join ACNA and GAFCON as 'associate Churches'.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
Obviously any individual member of such a working group is entitled to second thoughts at a subsequent point in the process (e.g. after their own synod has scrutinised it and, perhaps, come up with points A-Z as to why it is not a good idea) but the impression I have formed through some discussions re the group and its process is that it is united as it presents this proposal to the church for consideration.
(Another "of course": that doesn't mean that each member of the group is equally happy about each component of the proposal).
With respect to the Nelson Synod, I imagine it would listen appreciatively to Bishop Richard's exposition of the proposal!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I find your comment highly objectionable.
(1) The Nelson Diocese and the Sydney Diocese are not on the same page re various issues and should not be equated with each other in the way you have done.
(2) Neither Diocese has ever raised the possibility - that I am aware of - of separating from the larger church to which they belong.
(3) I responded above to one member of the Nelson Diocese asking me why I was confident the Nelson Diocese through its synod would accept rather than reject the proposal. I was not responding to any diocesan signal about the proposal: its synod has not yet met on the matter.
(4) Every diocese in the Anglican Communion is entitled to publish statements about its shared understanding of Scripture. It is not helpful to then pejoratively describe such statements in terms of seeking holiness as though that is a bad thing. (To say nothing of implying that other dioceses are not equally as concerned to be holy!)
(5) Who set you up as arbiter of "forward thinking" in other dioceses, or as arbiter that other dioceses are forward thinking? As best I can tell other dioceses in our church harbour a range of views, not all of which would be described as "progressive" or "forward thinking". I myself could not assert let alone argue that all dioceses in our church apart from Nelson are "forward thinking."
(6) I note that you do not mention the Diocese of Polynesia. Why not? Are they "forward thinking" or not? If they are not, why not speak of that Diocese as you have spoken of Nelson?

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply. I appreciated your response to Ron Smith.

If I, or other Nelson Anglicans, were only thinking of ourselves then, yes, we would appear (for the time being) to be reasonably protected under the working group's proposal.

But to take such a view, however, exposes the self-centred nature of such thinking and I hope and pray that the Nelson Diocese does not succumb to it. This is the time to decide with whom we will stand. Will we stand alongside TEC or ACNA? Will we stand alongside SEC or the orthodox churches that it has disregarded? Will we stand with the 80% of the world's Anglicans represented by GAFCON where the gospel continues to go forth, and grow, and change lives, (see what is happening in Tanzania https://vimeo.com/223537426) or with the Historic See of Yesteryear and the ageing churches in the West gasping for breath? Will the Nelson Diocese stand with a provincial church that denies the very gospel that created her, or with orthodox Anglicans across the globe?

Peter, I hope and pray that you are wrong: may God give the Nelson Diocese the grace to consider the needs of orthodox believers around our country who need our support, and take whatever action is required to stand alongside them.

Anonymous said...

"You can debate the meaning of Leviticus from now until the Day of Judgement but unless Anglican men and women marry one another and raise their children as Anglicans then Anglicans will go the way of the Ubykh

And if the Anglican leadership spent their days in these dead end debates rather than encouraging the formation of Anglican families it is certain the days of Anglicanism are numbered."

Andrei has two points here, with which I might concur if I were there, but which I wish to make more precise here. And then I have another, cheerier one.

If Anglican evangelicals wish to obey the great commission to any numerical effect, it is advisable to keep souls as well as win them. But there is a self-deception that sees suspicious, low churchmanship as always approachable and winsome, but never dispiriting, loose, and non-committal. And not a few Anglican parents tend to view religion as a sort of hobby that people try as children and either take up or not. Even an otherwise holy net cannot catch fish if it is holey.

(1) Where forensic understandings of the atonement are not played off against participation in Christ, incorporation in his Body, and the visibility of the Church, the bonds among members are necessarily stronger, and more members are retained over time. Thus it is not surprising that Roman Catholics (of whom this is true) retain those members that they get, by birth or conversion, more than Protestants (who either dither about this or get it wrong), both liberal and evangelical. Mathematically, this difference ensures their majority over time.

(2) Members are also retained when parents themselves make the effort to bring their children to living faith. Notwithstanding my theological point at (1), statistics on the Southern Baptist Convention show continued growth in the United States until membership very recently flattened. And there is still no decline. How did water run uphill? Baptist parents, more than other Protestant parents, evangelise their children, so that, again, members stay and the total rises, just as it does with Roman Catholics. But of course the family positive ethos of the SBC tends to form and attract just such parents. In this respect, the family negative ethos surrounding our global obsession with That Topic is not helpful to Anglicans. Whatever one thinks about SSB etc, years of preoccupation with 3% of the population could at best leave 97% thinking that Anglican have a wonderfully tender institutional heart, but not for the ordinary people who are family-focused through all their lives. "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" said the old signs in the 1950s, but the Baptists were giving you a ride to church and enrolling your kids in Sunday School. Today, Episcopalians are pursuing a risky niche strategy in competition with other mainline churches.

(3) Put the two points together and you get the eminently viable sort of church that Mike Bird's Evangelical Theology calls for-- a sacramentally- formed but still participatory church of "gospel people" who pass on a rich Body life to the younger generation. Tellingly, Bird's book is a systematic theology that relies on recent biblical exegesis, so that despite his earnest efforts it is more reformed than Reformed-- a fortunate fail. Indeed, his missional theology could be set alongside that of Simon Chan, an Assemblies of God theologian who publishes remarkably catholic things about the Eucharist, etc. This is not a shallow church growth strategy; it depends on being intentional, contemporary Anglicans, not antiquarian, dilute presbyterians. The main leadership required is devotional, homiletic, liturgical, and pastoral.

Therefore I do differ from Andrei in this: if the obvious leaders do not lead this, then others surely can. And indeed, if the proposed armistice in ACANZP liberates evangelicals to set their own course on evangelism and pastoral care, then it may open space for something very good to happen down yonder that will be replicated elsewhere.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
The proposal provides for a Diocese such as Nelson to stand with others of like-mind in our church by forming a special community.
As for standing with GAFCON etc, I assume that a synodical discussion would canvas whether the proposal does or does not permit such "standing with."
In my view it does, especially with the ring fencing the forming of a community with specific standards/commitment.
I would be a bit surprised if any of our diocesan discussions about standing with and alongside others did not also include what it means to stand with our families and with our parishes who have gay and lesbian members.
Finally, I would hope the Diocese of Nelson in particular would include in its discussion what it means to be supportive of the Diocese of Polynesia.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman/Andrei
I wonder if the future will belong to the churches which carefully (and, full of care) negotiate the present with maximal concern for orthodoxy as bequeathed us from the past (creedal, ecclesial, scriptural, liturgical, etc) along with maximal concern for engagement with contemporary culture (fraught with risk though that is)?

This future may have less to do with birthrate (though increased birthrate, along with increased ability to hold and retain children-teenagers-young adults) and more to do with continual presenting of the gospel of Christ as a reasonable faith in an ever changing world.

Anglicans have as much chance as any other church of being that kind of church but we will increase our chances if we look more closely at Catholic and Orthodox churches with a humble willingness to learn from them. I also think we will increase our chances if we can move beyond That Issue - as our ACANZP proposal offers - because one of our obstacles to holding our young people is their disenchantment with negativity towards gay and lesbian persons.

Finally, what I am saying is not a pass for many Anglican parishes I am in touch with: we have a lot of work to do re being that orthodox yet engaged with the community church envisaged here.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

The 'special community' provision has some traction with regards to The Mission Order of St Paul, which has episcopal oversight, but is little help for ones that don't, like Affirm or Latimer. And even conservative parishes that join MOSP would be required to recognise the authority of their local bishop.

What do you think it looks like for conservative churches to 'stand with our families and with our parishes who have gay and lesbian members'? I assume that, as an self confessed orthodox Christian, you would not be willing to bless a same sex union? So what does your version of 'standing with' look like? Does it mean saying, I won't bless you relationship because I think it is contrary to the Word of God, but there is an Anglican church down the road who will'?

I think that for the church to 'stand with' our society-LGBTs and heterosexuals alike-is to hold out the Word of God to them. The church is the parent to our society. We have been entrusted with the truth. Like any parent, we need hold firm to the truth for the good of our society. We don't simply run with their ideas of truth in order to remain relevant.

Your response to Bowman/Andrei, suggests a major difference between your position and that of most conservatives. You imply that the future survival of the Anglican church requires the church to 'present the gospel of Christ as a reasonable faith in an ever changing world'. But, our job as the church is not to present a reasonable faith that will be tolerated or accepted by the world. It is to hold out the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: the word of God in all its fulness. Our society does not accept our view on sexuality at all: It does not see it as reasonable that the only place for sex is within a monogamous, lifelong, heterosexual marriage. Our 'antiquated' view on homosexuality is only one aspect of Christian teaching that our world does not find 'reasonable'. More than ever, our society needs our witness to the truth of God's word in all areas of our lives.

The western culture is loosing its way, and more rapidly than ever. The insanity surrounding gender identities is the fruit of a society that turned its back on Christian teachings about sex in the 1960s. Our culture doesn't know what to think or believe any more: we have lost our anchor and are floating adrift. More than ever, our culture needs us to speak with a clear voice: God loves you, but he doesn't approve of all your behaviour or beliefs. He loves me, but does not approve of all my behaviour or beliefs.

As a church, we have to offer something different to what the world offers. We need to hold to God's truth about who people are, in whose image they are created, the intentions of the Creator for his creatures. We need to say that sexual expression does not define people; that sexual expression is not a fundamental human right. We need to celebrate singleness and celibacy while acknowledging that for some it is a heavy burden. And we need to hold to truth tightly, while clinging just as tightly to grace: God loves you as you are, and he loves you enough not to leave you as you are. His goal is to transform each one of us, little by little, into the image of his Son. This gracious and painful work will look different for each of us, but none of us can say 'Yes, you can change me in most areas, but this one is out of bounds.'

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
I do not see, under the proposal, why (say) FCA and, differently, AFFIRM, could not organise themselves as special communities, providing, as you note, there is an overseeing bishop and, yes, there is also appropriate relationship with the local bishop.

I do not see in your comments to date any particular appreciation that the proposal represents a considerable movement away from progressive concerns towards conservative concerns. If I may ask, do you appreciate that this proposal as a compromise for our church reaches out towards conservatives far more than it does to progressives?

Yes, I am happy to be in a church which has not changed its doctrine of marriage, which does not require me to bless same sex relationships but which may permit other priests to perform such blessings. (I observe, ironically, that even if we split in two, there will still be the option of the Anglican priest down the road who will bless relationships ... splitting or not splitting will not change that reality).

A plea for a reasonable explanation of our faith in this present world is tied to 1 Peter 3:15. There will be aspects of our faith which no matter how reasonably we explain them will be understood as unreasonable, and that will include matters concerning sexual relationships where the Western world's view and the church's views clash. Nevertheless I suggest some care is needed around the refusal to countenance even a few priests in a few parishes offering SSB. A complete refusal may send out more signals than "this is the truth so we must obey it." It worries me, for example, that if we offer no wriggle room as a church we contribute to the homophobia in our society which appears to drive a number of gay and lesbian people to suicide.

In other words, issues here are not only about what is morally right and wrong, whether the church understands this or has an antiquated view etc; issues here also concern how people in their inner selves live with who they discover them to be - pastoral issues, not only ethical issues.

I know conservatives want to and do support gay and lesbian persons pastorally but I wonder if our reckoning here includes the gay and lesbian persons who steer well clear of conservative churches, indeed may steer clear of any church for fear that they accidentally will stumble upon a conservatism that is too hot for them to handle.

I wonder what Jesus thinks of us as we distance ourselves from where people are at in our society? Does he want to congratulate us for our faithfulness to purity of sexual norms or to raise an eyebrow (or something more stern) that we should have put so much distance between ourselves and the world around us?

My judgement is that the proposal before our church, if agreed to, will enable greater flexibility for ministers and congregations of all colours in the rainbow of theological commitments to work out what it means to walk alongside gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ.

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter, I cannot allow your assertion that continued adherence to Christian orthodoxy contributes to homophobia which leads to gay and lesbian suicides to pass without comment.

Firstly, who amongst us realized such a causal link existed? Assuming your assertion is true, to express orthodox views can be no less than a form of hate speech. Who other than the most vile person lacking in compassion would do such a thing? No wonder you have been advocating for a more enlightened way forward for the church.

But I wonder if your 'wriggle room' solution goes far enough? Yes by all means have the church bless gay sex so that the suicides will cease, but what about the other victim groups condemned by orthodoxy? The gluttons, the covetous, thieves, drunkards, swindlers, adulterers, slanderers, and the otherwise sexually immoral? Don't we have a responsibility to perform a rite of blessing for them least they too feel our hatred and succumb to suicidal impulses?

To be inclusive of gay and lesbian sexual practice, but to withhold blessings from others whose practices are also condemned by orthodoxy would surely be discriminatory and a denial of natural justice?

Our hypocrisy would be plain to all, and the gospel brought into disrepute amongst unbelievers.

Logically, and perhaps most importantly the root problem must be named and dealt with in the church. It's all very well putting in place mediating blessings, but if we don't root out orthodoxy completely we will be constantly issuing apologies and applying band-aid blessings.

Who I wonder can the Anglican church look to for insightful leadership in this vital hour?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I may not be expressing myself very well - it is a difficult subject to talk about (being sensitive to the needs of others, being faithful to orthodoxy - I make no claim to get these matters right, balanced, etc).

So, on the one hand I have no desire to take orthodoxy out of the church nor to see conservatives leave (that would include me); on the other hand, over the years of my engagement in this matter, I have become increasingly aware that, however unintentionally, discussion of these matters INCLUDING, I stress, the ways in which I myself have spoken and written over the years, may be contributing to gay and lesbian young people feeling alienated from the church, and worse, in some instances, the feeling that there is nowhere safe to turn to may be a contributory factor in suicides.

But, please, Brendan, the issue is not primarily about conservatives, leadership, orthodoxy welcome or not, whether I get my words right or not on this blog. The issue primarily is about each and every one of us pausing and asking whether what we are saying and the way we are saying it contributes to others finding acceptance and welcome in Jesus rather than constituting a barrier to meeting Jesus. The issue primarily is whether we are walking in the shoes of gay and lesbian people who live in an overwhelmingly heterosexual society. Frankly, I have no idea what that is like, no idea what it is to "come out," and no idea what it is like to have one's sexuality discussed in the ways in which it is on blogsites like this!

Incidentally, on the Taonga website article re the proposal there are three comments. One posts a link to the Liturgy blogs response to the proposal. One posts a link to this post. The thirds says this about this post:

"A heads up to other LGBTQ+ people: the comments on Peter's post make for rather difficult/unpleasant reading. It may be best to avoid them."

Is that not food for thought?

Anonymous said...

Brendan, the Christian ethic as you and I understand it has not driven homosexuals to suicide, but the use of the state to marginalise them in sociiety has been associated it, and the end of that marginalisation will lower the rate. SSBs will not make any difference in the rate one way or the other, because church ceremonial does not in the C21 form the social matrix.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I wouldn't get too concerned about the comment on Tāonga; it's just a trigger warning apparently common in university courses nowadays to protect the thin skinned.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
Not too concerned!

Brendan McNeill said...

The point I'm making Peter is that in our attempt to be inclusive to all things LGBT we continue to discriminate against others who engage in unorthodox practices.

By LGBT and liberal standards that is a continuing injustice of which the church remains guilty.

Once embarked upon this heterodoxy has no end.

You mean well no doubt, but why not rather make a reasoned defense of the faith while still standing on solid ground. The swamp once entered is without end.

Brian Kelly said...

Brendan has a good point. 32% of NZ adults are obese (the figures - ha! - are larger for Maori and Polynesians), 35% are overweight, 11% 2-14s are obese, 21% are overweight. What kind of message are they - the majority! - hearing from the church? Condemnation and fat-shaming pachyphobia. It's time to stop banging on about those six passages in the Bible that condemn gluttony and focus on the many, many more that celebrate food as one of God's good gifts to us.

Dave Clancey said...

Hi Peter
Just one simple observation on your reply to Bowman, picking up on what I think is the core issue in your response to Sam.

You note: "The issue primarily is about each and every one of us pausing and asking whether what we are saying and the way we are saying it contributes to others finding acceptance and welcome in Jesus rather than constituting a barrier to meeting Jesus"

A fair question for each of us to pause and ask, and certainly there's no place for speaking in ways which in any way imply any of us are 'better' or 'worse' sinners than any other, or that our acceptance and welcome by Jesus is because we are somehow worthy of it. But I wonder if we must remember that the very words of Jesus, at times, constitute a barrier to meeting (and following ) Jesus.

John 6:60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Unless of course we can speak Jesus' words in a more "accepting and welcoming" way than Jesus himself...

Anonymous said...

Sam and Brendan, I cannot follow your arguments. Shall we review?

(1a) Peter is an open evangelical-- doctrinally conservative but aware that new circumstances require new choices.

(1b) Peter is not trying to be "inclusive of all things LGBT," nor is he a "liberal."

(2) Peter reads St John 17 and other passages as commanding a high degree of unity among those who recognise that the Christ came in the flesh. He is nice about it-- he is nice about just about everything-- but the implication of such a reading is that splitting a church is presumptively disobedient to the Word.

(3a) Peter knows that sexed creatures are normally lusty, and that lusty humans risk promiscuity.

(3b) Peter knows that promiscuity is prohibited by God in scripture.

(4) Through his local church, Peter is in communion today with a few clergy who know these things, and who are also *morally certain* of three more things about which nobody anywhere is *truly certain*, one way or the other:

(4a) Although relatively infrequent, some homosexuality is a naturally occurring and hence involuntary condition.

(4b) Because the Six Texts were directed at homosexuality of the Greco-Roman world which was voluntary and culturally-encouraged, they were not directed to persons for whom it is so involuntary as to persist despite being severely culturally-discouraged.

(4c) Insofar as church weddings forfend at least some promiscuity in heterosexuals, SSB will do the same for involuntary homosexuals.

(5a) Peter notes that a strong predictor of a clergyman's views on (4) is his (or her) assessment of the reliability of self-reports of life-long exclusive attraction to the same sex.

(5b) Peter assesses at least some of these self-reports to be reliable, but has scruples about ceremonies that blur the Church's teaching about marriage.

(5c) Peter is morally certain that some clergy will perform SSB in one way or another.

(6a) The proposal on the table gives Peter the same communion with those others that he has now, thus obeying St John 17 etc.

(6b) It also gives Peter some dissociation from those others that he does not have now, thus honouring his scruples about SSB.

(6c) And it creates two new structures for evangelical collaboration in pastoral matters.

(7) As Peter sees it, the "beautiful compromise" is attractive just because it better provides for conservative evangelicals in ACANZP than the status quo can do.

What is your reasonable objection to Peter's own reasoning as it is today?

Your thoughts will probably be most persuasive if they avoid slippery slope arguments aimed at the bottom of the slope-- views that you attribute to some future Peter that we do not know-- rather than the expressed views that the Peter who blogs here actually holds today.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman!
I could not have put it better myself - much appreciated.
And, yes, Brendan, Sam, Brian and co, it would be interesting and helpful if you were to engage with what Bowman says (not so much because he has explained my view but because he offers a helpful way of understanding the proposal before us).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Dave
Our Lord's teaching is indeed hard and many reject it.

I suggest a question before the churches in the West at this time in which societies are willing to support a covenanted framework for civil unions/marriage, which is necessarily an alternative to promiscuity etc [cf. Bowman Walton's comment just made], is whether a rejection of supporting such couples by the church is extra hard on gay and lesbian Christians ...

bearing in mind a point I made above (many comments ago, don't look for it!) that for single heterosexuals there is always some hope, however faint, of future marriage. Certainly that hope kept me going when I was single ...

The beauty of the current proposal is that no one is forced to offer the support I mention above but permission would be given for those who do want to offer it.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter, and Bowman

So much here, I'll try to address direct questions, briefly.

Peter, I certainly recognise that the WG report is a significant step back from Motion 30, and gives away a lot of ground to conservatives. Two quick responses: a.) Unfortunately, I see no reason why this would be the end position for the progressives. It is just one more, incremental, step towards what they seek: full marriage equality. b) More importantly, I don't believe one finds or hold to truth by bartering--let's split the difference and meet in middle.

Bowman, I'm not sure how this became a defence of Peter Carrell. I've not argued against his position wholesale, nor called him a 'liberal'. Mostly, I've asked him questions and reacted to specific statements that he's made. But it is helpful to see his position clearly laid out, so thank you.

In response to that, then: I have no issue with points 1a, 1b, 3a, and 3b. Point 2 may hold true, but only if the church is splitting over issues that don't warrant it. The NT is clear that we are to have nothing to do with false teachers, false teachings, false gospels. It is good and right that the church maintains the clear voice of God, and separate from those who do not maintain the voice of God.

Now, 4a is probably true. 4b is the crux of the argument. If true, then SSB may well be permissible but, if not, then SSB is not. I believe it to be totally false. It relies on scriptural interpretations that appear, to me, to be thoroughly forced eisegesis. The Vineyard USA position paper, August 2014, 'Pastoring LGBT Persons' does an excellent job of outlining and evaluating the reinterpretations of relevant passages and shows, decisively, that these arguments fail.

And here's the rub. If Peter thinks that 4b is true, then why isn't he arguing that SSB is right and good, and why not be willing to perform it himself? I'm also not sure why he wouldn't support broadening 'biblical marriage' to include SSA, faithful, involuntary couples? Why should blessing be appropriate, but not the blessing of marriage?

But if, on the other hand, Peter is not convinced by 4b-then why does he not see that this is false teaching, and false exegesis, that undermines the gospel's call to repentance of all sin?

We cannot regulate what individual clergy believe on this or any issue. We cannot police everything that individual clergy do. I can understand remaining in a church where we know that some clergy conduct SSBs in spite of the official doctrines (the present position). But it is another thing entirely to remain in a church that gives SSBs its official approval (the proposed solution).

We can't just agree to disagree. There are not two integrities. There are two mutually exclusive positions that each side holds dearly.

I note, Peter, that you didn't actually engage with Dave's argument. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Brendan McNeill said...

1/2

“Sam and Brendan, I cannot follow your arguments. Shall we review?”

Bowman, I’m not convinced a rational explanation of an orthodox Biblical framework in relation to the question under debate is going to change very much, but I respect the sincerity of your question, so brief responses in-line below:

(1a) Peter is an open evangelical-- doctrinally conservative but aware that new circumstances require new choices.  

Answer: Scripture tells us there is ‘nothing new under the sun’. People living in monogamous gay sexual relationships are not new, their prior existence is well documented. Why would God bother to include the prohibition of ‘gay’ sex in Leviticus 18:22 if such relationships were unknown?

Therefore, no new choices are required, because God has stipulated his expectations for sexual morality for his people, both OT and NT in Leviticus. If you disagree, then please show me where in Scripture he has abrogated Leviticus 18. We both know you cannot. Furthermore, in ACTS 15, when James instructed gentile believers to ‘abstain from sexual immorality’ how did he expect them to know what constituted ‘sexual immorality’ if he did not have Leviticus in mind? - If you disagree, please explain.

(1b) Peter is not trying to be "inclusive of all things LGBT," nor is he a "liberal."  

Answer: That is a subjective opinion, and one you are welcome to hold.

(2) Peter reads St John 17 and other passages as commanding a high degree of unity among those who recognise that the Christ came in the flesh. He is nice about it-- he is nice about just about everything-- but the implication of such a reading is that splitting a church is presumptively disobedient to the Word.

Answer: Bowman, I understand Peter’s position on Anglican unity but I question if it is the same thing as John 17 unity. It appears to me at least that Peters desire for ‘Anglican unity’ trumps the need for repentance, trumps righteousness, trumps obedience, trumps sanctification and trumps holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Peter has demonstrated many times on this blog that he is willing to throw all these Biblical mandates under the LGBT bus for the sake of Anglican unity.

For the sake of clarity, orthodox Christians highly value John 17 unity and recognise we have an obligation to seek to maintain it, but not at all costs. For most orthodox Christians, SSB comes at too high a price. Paul was prepared to risk John 17 unity with the Corinthian Church over sexual immorality. Peter has made it very clear he is not.

(3a) Peter knows that sexed creatures are normally lusty, and that lusty humans risk promiscuity.

Answer: Hardly a revelation.

(3b) Peter knows that promiscuity is prohibited by God in scripture.

Answer: I’m sure he does. He also knows homosexual sexual relationships are prohibited by God in Scripture. If my memory serves me correctly, he has publically agreed they are sinful.

(4) Through his local church, Peter is in communion today with a few clergy who know these things, and who are also *morally certain* of three more things about which nobody anywhere is *truly certain*, one way or the other: 

Answer: Why do I sense the ground is about to move…. So many assumptions… ‘nobody anywhere is truly certain’ about what three things? Why the ambiguity? Why not speak plainly? It’s this is a very ‘Bowman’ text.

Brendan McNeill said...

2/3

(4a) Although relatively infrequent, some homosexuality is a naturally occurring and hence involuntary condition. 

Answer: Bowman we both know that is nothing but speculation on your part. If it were true, then God’s command to put to death those who engage in homosexual sex, (Lev 20:13) would be manifestly unjust. Are you saying God is unjust? We live in a season of God’s grace where the death sentence is not mandated in time and history, but never the less, God will judge all unrighteousness, and homosexual sex remains sinful in his sight as Peter has attested.

Besides, if an involuntary disposition were true for homosexuality, why wouldn’t it be true for any other form of sexual predilection? How could we justly punish paedophiles and rapists? Surely if such acts are prompted by involuntary conditions these people deserve our compassion not out condemnation. (or God’s condemnation).

Once you start excusing sexual deviancy of any kind and for any reason, you end up having to baptise all of it.
Besides, does your theology (or Peters) allow for the distortion of that which God created good (like sex) by the influence sin? If so, what might that distortion look like? Same sex attraction possibly?

(4b) Because the Six Texts were directed at homosexuality of the Greco-Roman world which was voluntary and culturally-encouraged, they were not directed to persons for whom it is so involuntary as to persist despite being severely culturally-discouraged.

Answer: Oh, Bowman what a complex narrative you are attempting to weave. The Levitical prohibitions against homosexual practice precede the Greco-Roman world by more than a 1,000 years and were directly specifically towards God’s people.

But look, if you choose to believe this narrative, and think Peter does as well, then so be it.
 
(4c) Insofar as church weddings forfend at least some promiscuity in heterosexuals, SSB will do the same for involuntary homosexuals.  

Answer: The issue is not and never has been gay promiscuity, it is gay sex period. Scripture forbids it.

God commands all sinners everywhere to repent and to have faith in God through Jesus Christ. Like all sinners we must trust God for what follows afterwards, but I can assure you it ought not be SSB or ‘marriage equality’ which are both different sides of the same coin.

(5a) Peter notes that a strong predictor of a clergyman's views on (4) is his (or her) assessment of the reliability of self-reports of life-long exclusive attraction to the same sex.

Answer: Yes, I note the emphasis on feelings and personal testimony is relied upon heavily by those in favour of SSB in the church. Look, if you want to progress down that path despite the warnings from those of us who hold Scripture in high esteem, then go for it, but please don’t insist the Anglican Church must change its orthodoxy or praxis to accommodate you.

(5b) Peter assesses at least some of these self-reports to be reliable, but has scruples about ceremonies that blur the Church's teaching about marriage.

Answer: Yes, here it is that Peter best displays all the attributes of the perfect Post Modern Clergyman. He believes simultaneously that Anglican clergy can deem same sex relationships to be ‘good’ and ‘blessed’ by God, and can perform formal blessings of civilly married same sex couples in the Anglican Church with their Bishop’s approval, but because a certain wording has not been used in the ceremony, the integrity of Christian marriage between a man and a woman is somehow preserved.

The Word of God is compromised, but not the Anglican formulary, so all is well in Peter’s mind.

Peter may be comfortable with these intellectual gymnastics, the definition of words, the subtly of meaning. But is the Holy Spirit pleased or grieved at same sex blessings being carried out in his name? If in doubt, 1 Cor 5 may provide some guidance on this for you.

(5c) Peter is morally certain that some clergy will perform SSB in one way or another.

Answer: No doubt. They should be disciplined of course, but will that happen?

Brendan McNeill said...

3/3

(6a) The proposal on the table gives Peter the same communion with those others that he has now, thus obeying St John 17 etc.

Answer: This is doubtful because the Scripture asks how two can walk together (in communion) unless they are agreed? I understand that Peter does not agree with SSB to the extent that he will not perform them himself. Therefore, to my mind he is not in agreement with these clergy and therefore from a Scriptural perspective not in communion with them.

What he has attempted to do is keep everyone in ‘club Anglican’. This is not the same thing as Anglican Christian communion. At best it is a shadow of John 17, but more correctly a parody of it.

(6b) It also gives Peter some dissociation from those others that he does not have now, thus honouring his scruples about SSB.

Answer: Honouring one’s scruples neither commends or condemns us before God. The important questions is this: Do we love what God loves and do we detest what he detests, and how is that reflected in our scruples.

(6c) And it creates two new structures for evangelical collaboration in pastoral matters.

Answer: It all sounds so easy. We will have one parish calling sinners to repentance, and the one next door choosing instead to bless sinful relationships. I can see lots of evangelical collaboration taking place there.

(7) As Peter sees it, the "beautiful compromise" is attractive just because it better provides for conservative evangelicals in ACANZP than the status quo can do.

Answer: Bowman, this is nonsense. It is not conservative evangelicals that are being provided for. We have always been here. It is the demands of LGBT activists that are being provided for. Peter says its beautiful, but that doesn’t make it so in the eyes of God, or of those who fear him.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Dave (trying to respond to Sam's challenge to engage with your argument)
I thought I had! By making the point that we should not make discipleship even harder than Jesus made it.
However perhaps I haven't engaged properly: so here goes on a slightly different tack:
(i) why have we made discipleship for divorced persons easier than Jesus' own words have made it? (I.e. we ministers are willing to conduct weddings for divorced persons in some instances not provided for by Jesus' own words; and, generally in the Protestant world, we do not refuse communion to remarried divorcees, even though Catholics do that precisely because that is what they infer is the logical requirement of Jesus' own words about such remarriage being adultery).
(ii) does (i) have any bearing on how "hard" or "extra hard" or (even) "soft" we might interpret Scripture for disciples on the vexed question of the expression of our human sexuality?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
Thank you for recognition that the proposal does lean towards keeping conservatives in - that is helpful to understand in terms of your own voice within your Diocese.

I do not think you accurately understand the present situation re SSBs when you write "I can understand remaining in a church where we know that some clergy conduct SSBs in spite of the official doctrines (the present position)." My understanding is that SSBs are not being conducted, precisely because a moratorium on them is being observed, pending the outcome of our synodical deliberations.

(I am not going to respond to each and every point you make as that is both time consuming and likely not much profit. I would like to head to what I consider the vital matter you raise when you write:)

"And here's the rub. If Peter thinks that 4b is true, then why isn't he arguing that SSB is right and good, and why not be willing to perform it himself? I'm also not sure why he wouldn't support broadening 'biblical marriage' to include SSA, faithful, involuntary couples? Why should blessing be appropriate, but not the blessing of marriage?

But if, on the other hand, Peter is not convinced by 4b-then why does he not see that this is false teaching, and false exegesis, that undermines the gospel's call to repentance of all sin? "

PRC: I do not know whether 4b is true or not and I do not know whether it is false or not, thus I am willing to concede the benefit of the doubt to those who think it true and thus wish to conduct SSB. For myself I would need conviction that 4b is true AND that God's Word then authorises me to conduct SSB. I am not convinced of the former and even if I was I still do not see the latter.

Are those willing to conduct SSB "false teachers" based on "false exegesis"?
(a) Even if they are, there are other false teachings and false exegeses present in the Anglican church which I tolerate and do not feel particularly schismatic over (e.g. adding words from the Roman Mass into some parish celebrations of the eucharist; praying to Mary and the saints (for which no Scriptural warrant exists); praying after death for souls to be saved).
(b) Are they false teachers based on false exegesis? That is precisely what is being argued over through these years in the life of our church. Sure, there are groups who are absolutely certain that they are false and there are groups which are absolutely certain that they are true, and another group in between who are still thinking things through. But is that not always true of issues within the Anglican church? The challenge of being Anglican is that we who are certain about X live with the possibility that we cannot abide with those who are certain that X is wrong (so, tempted to separate) and with the probability that, somehow, we can abide together (so, do not separate, live in some kind of unity, discuss whether it is a faux-unity, switch dioceses, etc, etc).
(c) on the specific point of undermining call to repentance from all sin, why do we single out this particular issue in relationship to that worry re repentance being undermined? The planet is going to the climate dogs because we continue to sin re pollution etc. The church does very little about this, asking of someone such as myself to do quite a bit of driving and flying! Is that not also undermining the call to repentance? Put another way: let's not undermine the gospel call to repentance but let's be consistent in that call and make sure we are calling out every sin.

Brian Kelly said...

"why have we made discipleship for divorced persons easier than Jesus' own words have made it?"
Well, you can probably answer that for yourself.
Because you know better than Jesus?
Because you lack courage?
Because you agreed with Luther conniving in the bigamy of Philip of Hesse because the latter couldn't control his sexual drives?
Quien sabe?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Please see my two comments immediately above.
A few further notes:
(a) I personally do not see LGBT activists at work in this issue. I see clergy and laity who care for family members who are gay and lesbian, who wish to support same sex couples setting up homes and committing to covenanted relationships. Whatever we think about such relationships and whether families and/or congregations ought to be supporting them or not, such couplings are seen as like marriage if not as marriage. I think this means we should not be equating the "involuntary" nature of homosexuality with the involuntary nature of (say) paedophilia.
(b) I do not actually know of many parishes that would think it their business to call sexually active homosexuals to repentance. But among the many that are not making that call I suspect not many are therefore intent on offering SSBs. Isn't church life messier than your binary alternatives?
(c) I cherish the thought that you think I am perfect (albeit in a limited framework of post modernism!). I can assure you that I am not perfect in any framework. Not least, I appear to be very flawed in calling the proposal "beautiful". Very few here agree with that assessment. I must be doing something wrong, making some kind of poor argument and generally missing the mark. So, far from perfect!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
In the nature of things I cannot know better than Jesus because no one here agrees with me when I imply I do!
I do wonder, though, why I have compassion for divorced persons when I discover the heart-rending reasons for their divorce, reasons which often are not covered by Jesus or Paul's words on the matter?
As a Christian it is possible my compassion comes from the Jesus who dwells in me by his Spirit, is it not?
And, surely, it is impossible that I could be more compassionate than Jesus himself? So, whatever compassion I have is but a drop compared to His own!

As for Luther and Philip of Hesse, I know nothing of that. But Cranmer, Henry VIII, and trying to find wriggle room in the otherwise clear texts of Mosaic Law ... well, you are talking to an Anglican. Wait, you too are an Anglican ... May the spirit of Cranmer guide our deliberations :)

Brian Kelly said...

Thank you for replying, Peter. I don't want to open a front on this question but in principle I find the question of divorce and remarriage easier than others may. (I said 'in principle'; practice is always the test of our convictions.)
The parameters are these:
1. Divorce and remarriage were permitted under the Mosaic law. (So was polygamy.) Remarriage after divorce cannot be ipso facto wrong.
2. I do not think the well-nigh categorical dominical words in the Gospels on divorce establish a 'law' on divorce any more than there is a little instruction to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand. (Let scholars of sharia take note.) In this I follow Instone-Brewer and other commentators.
3. The Orthodox Church has never held to the 'ontologically impossibilist' view of divorce. This question of ancient unity or diversity of understanding is very important.
4. The Church of England is the product of Western Catholicism and inherited its juridical outlook, which looked for legal defects in intention and practice in order to nullify marriages.
5. I didn't say 'more compassionate than Jesus' but 'knowing better than him'. There have been many, many who claimed to know better. Read the famous encounter with the Bishop in hell in (ha!) 'The Great Divorce', ch. 5: 'What a different Christianity we might have had if only the Founder had reached his full stature!' (pp. 43-44). Liberalism - which is essentially kenotic - has been answering that question in endless modulations for two centuries now (since Schleiermacher's day).

Incidentally, if you want to win in a pub quiz, ask contestants, 'How many times was Henry VIII divorced?' The answer is: none. All the marriages he didn't care for were nullified, including those he ended by the sword. (Including his marriage to Anne Boleyn, which meant that the fruit of that union, Elizabeth, was technically a bastard and thus not the rightful heir to the throne - a point not lost on her Scottish cousin and the Pope but not so clear to the dying King when he was sorting out the order of succession. Of course Henry didn't reckon with Edward dying so soon. Like modern Anglicans, he made things up as he went along.)

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter

There is so much in this exchange that is ‘tragedy turning to farce’.

First, in response to your reply regarding clergy with gay children, I suggest there is nothing to prevent clergy (or anyone) with gay children from loving and supporting them as God intends without feeling the need to:

(a) Bless their relationships or..

(b) Petition the Anglican Church to bless their relationship.

Naturally I would expect them to love and support their children, even when they make what we as Christians believe to be bad choices. As I have said to many parents, eventually children grow up and row their own waka. At that point we are not responsible for the life decisions they make, but they are our children and we still love and support them come what may. I have five adult children by the way, so I speak with some experience.

Second, you say “I do not actually know of many parishes that would think it their business to call sexually active homosexuals to repentance.”

Peter, you have turned the growing farce of this conversation back into tragedy with that observation.

Finally, what makes you ‘post modern’ is your willingness to hold two or more contradictory ideas at the same time without acknowledging any conflict.

a) Yes, homosexual sex is sinful.
b) But same sex relationships are good and able to be blessed by God
c) Or, at the very least good enough for God to bless them in Church.
d) But you don’t believe in them enough to conduct a SSB yourself.
e) You see no contradiction between any of the above statements.

Feel free to respond but I think we must be just about done with this now.

Brian Kelly said...

" ...a little instruction to pluck out your eye or cut off your hand"

I meant to write 'a LITERAL instruction'. We know (or should know) that Jesus was using the common Hebrew trope of hyperbole. That Jesus condemned the hardness of heart that led to people ending their marriages cannot be doubted. That some second marriages (at least) are spiritual adultery, whatever the law of the land may say, is clear from Matt 19.9. And since we don't live in the theocratic New England of yesteryear and cannot 'make windows into men's souls', I have always held that the Church should refrain from solemnising second marriages. The 'pastoral argument' is really unconvincing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Sam and Brendan, I thought that this was obvious:

(a) My comment at 8:35 is a synopsis of Peter's views.
(b) Within that, point (4) summarises Peter's understanding of some beliefs of those in ACANZP who would perform SSB.
(c) Even confident disagreement with (4) does not entail that it is intolerable.
(d) Peter apparently does believe that (4) can be held by a Christian in good faith, much as we accommodate disagreement on eg just war theory, the mode of eucharistic presence, etc.

And of course Peter himself is the authority on his own ideas.

My views are doubtless of less interest than Peter's, but FWIW, I think:

(e) Sex is not valued in scripture apart from procreation according to God's creative intent.

(f) The deep question here is: how is faith in a Creator God to be maintained in a mind fully aware of its self? In God's governing providence for this time, neither of the usual sides offers a coherent answer to it. This is why a responsible pastor may find both positions suggestive but inadequate when trying to do justice to both the first article of the creed and the inner evidences of souls.

(g) The incoherence of the two positions explains why their partisans seem so unsure of them. Remember, a winning argument gives us a well-integrated view of all the evidence on the table-- and then some we never thought to consider-- as well as a workable solution. On That Topic, because both sides are arguing losing cases, both are spending an inordinate amount of energy trying to get a win on side issues-- trying to disqualify opposing evidence and argument without answering it, pushing burdens of proof back and forth without meeting them, ratcheting up demands on the other side, overstating what their own evidence can show, understating the Bayesian prior for the other side's views, and myriad ad hominem attacks. But a win gotten in any of these ways is no win at all, because it does not show us anything we did not not already know about the problem at hand. In their hearts, the partisans themselves know this, and this puts many of them in a foul mood.

(h) It is just because the Jews did believe in a Creator God, and the polytheists did not that we have historical evidence for (4b). And because (4b) relates homosexuality to the culture of idolatry, as St Paul does in Romans 1, it further relates the Six Texts to the narrative of the canon as a whole. This reading is more faithful than treating verses as bits of legislation abstracted from the canon's own divine purpose. (On that purpose, see eg John Webster's Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, Robert Jenson's Canon and Creed, or N. T. Wright's Last Word.)

(i) The mere existence of inter-sexed persons shows that anomalies in the system for reproduction do occur, so that (4a) is plausible, even in the absence of a molecular or developmental theory of how proper orientation fails. Given that prior plausibility, it is not at all clear that pastors have any epistemic ground for indiscriminately discounting all testimony of those who say that they have never desired the opposite sex. Nevertheless, they can advise caution in reaching conclusions about the orientation of attraction too early, especially in the case of females. Indeed, the absence of attraction may be positively valued as the rare gift of celibacy.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

(j) I oppose (4c). In the first millennium, churches did not conduct weddings. In the C12 West, unions began to be registered in public to ensure the bride's consent, prevent bigamy, etc. In modern times, this task has long been adequately performed by state registrars, churches do no good in duplicating it, and a further extension of that such as SSB cannot be warranted today. This is not to say that the great mystery should never have liturgical expression; I am inclined to say that covenantal aspects of our faith should get a bit more! (On this, see Michael Horton's series bringing Reformed covenant theology into C21 discussion.) But it is to say that our received rite and its spinoffs-- more about law or ideology than about Ephesians 5 or Revelations 21-- is not that expression. No.

(k) I do not call those on either side "false teachers" in the NT sense. None are in this connection teaching the C1 heresies for which scripture uses the term. Both are trying to conserve a part of what we know from God in the face of an unprecedented challenge. Neither has an adequate framework for doing from which they are willfully turning away. Alas, I can say that there are pastors who fail to be good pastors through the extreme partiality of their understandings of That Topic.

In general, these are clergy who came by their views on That Topic as an extension of their prior ideological commitments. It turns out, for example, that cheery pro-woman feminism is not an adequate basis for pastoral care to partnered lesbians struggling with poverty, domestic violence, household disorder, disinterest in sex, past husbands who are fathers, or new reproductive technology. Blaming the patriarchy for these problems is not a *pastoral* strategy, even if it does help women to feel that their experience is understood. Similarly, the stern insistence on "biblical role models" for men and women that can help some youth with some developmental challenges is plainly crazy-making to other youth struggling with the orientation of their sexual desire. Demanding more adherence to objective norms is, again, not a *pastoral* strategy, even if warm personal belief in them does motivate a certain ministerial style.

So clergy on the two sides of ACANZP's proposed hedgerow have reason to want bound their yards, and also reason to want them connected with gates and paths. Some simplification of their task is prudent; the rival paradigms for the cure of souls are not adequate to the whole range of contemporary Christian experience. These paradigms will only mature as they broaden, and they will only broaden through contact across the hedge among those less blinkered by the culture wars of the last generation.

Thank you both for your rapid replies, and have a blessed Sunday.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
Perhaps it would be good to have more input from other Anglicans about family matters etc and how they think the church should or should not be moving forward.

Rather than respond to your summary of my views (which I don't think is accurate) I just want to restate the following, because in the end, this is a discussion about the proposal and not about my views:

Here goes:
(a) our church might fly apart if we do not find an agreeable accommodation between differing if not opposing views;
(b) a group has worked on and presented just such a proposal;
(c) I think it "beautiful" because it elegantly offers something to both "sides" of the divide, indeed it offers, in my judgment, more to one side than to the other;
(d) it does raise the question of whether it is reasonable for the church to attempt to contain both views;
(e) on the one hand, it offers a way in which no formal doctrine of the church changes, so there is no doctrinal accommodation of the other view;
(f) on the other hand, it offers a way for proponents of SSB to formally dissent from the continuing official teaching of the church, but conducting SSBs without fear of discipline for doing so;
(g) on the third hand, it offers some considerable safeguards for both conservatives and liberals who wish to tightly group themselves around an "order."
(h) to the question whether this is nevertheless a tolerance of false teaching, Bowman Walton has helpfully contributed a theology of sexuality which provides for the theology of SSB to be understood as a legitimate part of Anglican diversity.

Accordingly I do not see the proposal as a manifestation of post-modernist accommodation of opposites; rather it is an accommodation of intense diversity within our church.

Now, very clearly, a number of commenters here reject this understanding and show no signs of moderating that stance. It may be that the proposal does not gain ground. If it does not, it does not. I will have no regrets because I have tried my darndest to support our church holding together.

Peter Carrell said...

HI Brian
I have no desire either to open up a "second front" on divorce/remarriage but the specific challenge posed by thinking about the "hardness" of discipleship got me thinking.
I myself have a lot of time for the Instone-Brewer approach.