Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Nelson's Vote on Motion 29 Final Report

Recently here I reported on the Christchurch Diocesan synod's decision on 3 March 2018 to support General Synod adopting the Motion 29 Report and its recommendations.

A week later the Nelson Diocese held a synod on the same matter. So far I have not seen a substantive public report on the decision, including the details of the motion agreed to. Nothing to date in secular media such as the Nelson Mail, nor in our Anglican Taonga, nor on the Diocese of Nelson website.

The only public note I am aware of is this Tweet by Trevor Morrison:




I have received other messages. On the one hand I am loathe to become an originator of news. On the other hand the Nelson decision is interesting on a few counts. Working from two published messages of vicars to their parishes (only one of which is on the web, here), I observe the following:

- the part of (a three part) motion to support the recommendations of the Motion 29 Report was supported by roughly 60% of the synod (pretty much the same as the Diocese of Christchurch, but the clergy vote was higher than here and the laity vote lower than here);

- another part of the motion was a unanimous vote making clear that same-sex blessings will not be permitted within the Diocese of Nelson. (For those who know little or nothing about the Diocese of Nelson, this is unsurprising.)

- the third part of the motion concerned thanking the Working Group for their work etc.

- there was concern within the Synod discussion that if the Motion 29 Recommendations do not pass then Motion 30 (from the 2014 Synod, which "lies on the table" currently) would be put forward again. Since Motion 30 is a change to the formularies of our church (i.e. explicit, formal change to doctrine), it is unacceptable to conservative evangelicals (including me).

- thus, by implication, it seems that some votes for supporting Motion 29's recommendations being adopted were pragmatically for the better of two options.

- by contrast, the Motion 30 v Motion 29 issue figured little (as I recall) in our Synod.

My final observation:

I suggest Motion 29, in its substance, will be agreed to by General Synod. In the two Synods where, conceivably, it might have been turned down, it has not. I am not aware of other Pakeha dioceses having Synods specifically about this matter but I have no reason to think that the other Dioceses are not also supportive.

A critical question, however, will be what details we will agree to since GS is capable of amending any and all of the recommendations.

70 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, your remarks on the Nelson Synod result supporting Motion 29 speaks volumes to those of us aware of the situation in Nelson:

"- there was concern within the Synod discussion that if the Motion 29 Recommendations do not pass then Motion 30 (from the 2014 Synod, which "lies on the table" currently) would be put forward again. Since Motion 30 is a change to the formularies of our church (i.e. explicit, formal change to doctrine), it is unacceptable to conservative evangelicals (including me)."

This sounds very much like a situation in a certain diocesan election process (not Nelson) for its next bishop; where the Evangelical vote was scared that the most likely successful candidate might be less accommodating of its agenda in the diocese than the one who was finally elected. How that has turned out is still up for assessment.

Pragmatism does seem to have been the ruling emotion in Nelson's decision - especially in view of the fact that +Nelson was on the W.G. that dealt with Motion 29. Let's now hope that Evangelicals everywhere in our Church will agree to settle down to the possibility of 'living With Difference' in ways consonant with the traditional Anglican 'Unity in diversity' paradigm.


Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for reporting on this. As a member of that synod, I'd like to offer information for the purposes of accuracy.

The original motion was split into 4 smaller motions.
Motion 2 thanked the working group and acknowledged the diversity within the church. This was passed unanimously.
Motion 2b was that 'we affirm the autonomy that this report offers to us as a Diocese to be faithful to our orthodox stance on our human sexuality.' This is not quite the same as voting that we would not have same-sex blessings here: it simply says that Motion 29 would allow us to continue not to bless said relationships, not that we won't.
Motion 2c encouraged 'our members of General Synod to support motion 29 at the upcoming General Synod as a way forward.' 19 people spoke: 10 against and 9 in favour of Motion 29. Those who spoke against were basically concerned that it allows that which is unbiblical and against the doctrine/canons of our church to be taught to be scriptural and consistent with church doctrine. Those who spoke for the motion had three main arguments: Motion 29 is better than Motion 30; a concern to remain in unity with the wider church in order to continue to be a voice in the conversation; there is a distinction between allowing and approving of something. This was passed 55-45% in laity and 63-37% in clergy.
Motion 2d moved that 'should Motion 29 fail and Motion 30 therefore be back before the house and is passed, we encourage our General Synod Reps to advise General Synod that this Diocese will be investigating whether or not it can remain part of the voluntary compact that is the Provincial Church.' There was a little discussion over this point, and what is written above is an amended version of the initial motion that did not contain the words 'and is passed'. After a short discussion the chair brought a motion to withdraw Motion 2d which was carried with perhaps 20% opposed. Upon reflection, however, Motion 2d should have been put to the vote because there needs to unanimous agreement in order to withdraw it, as per our standing orders.

I would also like to make an observation that is not evident from any of the statistics, but which I think is highly significant. Four of the clergy who spoke against Motion 2c were younger clergy currently in charge of parishes. Further, the vast majority of the clergy 'no' votes were also from young clergy. Conversely, only one young clergy in charge of a parish spoke for it, and 5 of those who spoke for the motion were either past retirement age or almost there. With regards to the laity who spoke, the 4 who spoke against motion 2c were all younger people (2 were well under 30) whereas the 4 who spoke for the motion were older people.

What am I saying? On the day it was clear that the younger and more 'front line' clergy were largely against the motion, as were the younger lay members, whereas those who were for the motion were largely older, and not 'front line', and the lay members were also significantly older.

Our society idolises youth, and I'm not suggesting that for a second. But the youth is the future of this church, and the younger clergy are those into whose hands the older are entrusting it. But on the day it seemed like the older generation did not take this into consideration.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for reporting on this. As a member of that synod, I'd like to offer information for the purposes of accuracy.

The original motion was split into 4 smaller motions.
Motion 2 thanked the working group and acknowledged the diversity within the church. This was passed unanimously.
Motion 2b was that 'we affirm the autonomy that this report offers to us as a Diocese to be faithful to our orthodox stance on our human sexuality.' This is not quite the same as voting that we would not have same-sex blessings here: it simply says that Motion 29 would allow us to continue not to bless said relationships, not that we won't.
Motion 2c encouraged 'our members of General Synod to support motion 29 at the upcoming General Synod as a way forward.' 19 people spoke: 10 against and 9 in favour of Motion 29. Those who spoke against were basically concerned that it allows that which is unbiblical and against the doctrine/canons of our church to be taught to be scriptural and consistent with church doctrine. Those who spoke for the motion had three main arguments: Motion 29 is better than Motion 30; a concern to remain in unity with the wider church in order to continue to be a voice in the conversation; there is a distinction between allowing and approving of something. This was passed 55-45% in laity and 63-37% in clergy.
Motion 2d moved that 'should Motion 29 fail and Motion 30 therefore be back before the house and is passed, we encourage our General Synod Reps to advise General Synod that this Diocese will be investigating whether or not it can remain part of the voluntary compact that is the Provincial Church.' There was a little discussion over this point, and what is written above is an amended version of the initial motion that did not contain the words 'and is passed'. After a short discussion the chair brought a motion to withdraw Motion 2d which was carried with perhaps 20% opposed. Upon reflection, however, Motion 2d should have been put to the vote because there needs to unanimous agreement in order to withdraw it, as per our standing orders.

I would also like to make an observation that is not evident from any of the statistics, but which I think is highly significant. Four of the clergy who spoke against Motion 2c were younger clergy currently in charge of parishes. Further, the vast majority of the clergy 'no' votes were also from young clergy. Conversely, only one young clergy in charge of a parish spoke for it, and 5 of those who spoke for the motion were either past retirement age or almost there. With regards to the laity who spoke, the 4 who spoke against motion 2c were all younger people (2 were well under 30) whereas the 4 who spoke for the motion were older people.

What am I saying? On the day it was clear that the younger and more 'front line' clergy were largely against the motion, as were the younger lay members, whereas those who were for the motion were largely older, and not 'front line', and the lay members were also significantly older.

Our society idolises youth, and I'm not suggesting that for a second. But the youth is the future of this church, and the younger clergy are those into whose hands the older are entrusting it. But on the day it seemed like the older generation did not take this into consideration.

Anonymous said...

"Let's now hope that Evangelicals everywhere in our Church will agree to settle down to the possibility of 'living With Difference' in ways consonant with the traditional Anglican 'Unity in diversity' paradigm."

百花齊放,百家爭鳴 -- Mao Zedong

In the actual tradition, the Church as a whole has affirmed nothing as *essential* to public practice apart from scripture and the early councils, but it has also allowed a margin of private devotion in *non-essentials* in which complementary readings are inevitable given the abundance of meaning in the word of God, and is desirable given the diverse temperaments of god-fearing souls. The most outspoken proponents of SSB have been surprisingly hard to accommodate in the traditional Anglican paradigm for three reasons--

(1) They have wanted a church that treats solemnisation as a *non-essential* to believe that a blessing loosely derived from a private view of what it means is an *essential*.

(2) They have not shown how SSB-- whether public or private-- is a plausible good faith response to the word of God. Indeed, some have sounded as though they really hoped the anomaly of homosexuality would rid their church of the Bible once and for all.

(3) They have undermined the very notion of a private margin by demanding agreement with their beliefs about sexuality while attacking others adherence to the scriptures as traditionally understood.

None of this seems necessary to acknowledging that some in the household of faith are in SSM as provided by local law. All of it has made a conservative punching bag, not just of SSB but even of those who do not oppose it zealously enough. But most important, the deep illiberality of the louder proponents-- and the opposition they provoke-- has been undermining what most have seen as the basis of Anglicanism itself.

Peter's news from Nelson sounds as though that diocese (maybe especially + Nelson) is attempting to restore the traditional paradigm--

(1') SSB is not *essential* and therefore will not be part of the public practice in Nelson. Openness to persons with SSA is not discouraged, but public ministries there may not signal that openness with SSB.

(2') Motion 30, or any change in the formularies, cannot even be contemplated unless and until there is some good faith defense of SSB from scripture that even opponents can respect. It would be unwise to assume that such a defense is impossible, even if it is beyond the knowledge and skill of today's SSB militants who--- how shall we tell the truth with love?-- struggle hard to trust their hearts to the canon consecrated by the Holy Spirit. But the Word is an ocean, and in due course others who read more may also see and say more. What they find could complement what we know, whilst challenging what we do.

(3') The private margin for *non-essentials* is defended from further attack by the church's own provision for communities of practice. Obviously, Nelson is protecting conservatives, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander too.

If, as Ross Douthat keeps suggesting, Pope Francis is nudging Catholics toward an Anglican paradigm, this is the one that has actually worked.

For other views--

https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/can-the-church-change-its-practice-on-marriage-without-changing-its-doctrine/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Schools_of_Thought

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

re Same Anderson's valuable contribution.

It woud seem that the younger clergy and laity in Nelson against the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions are not what might be called 'traditional middle of the road' Anglicans.

Conversely, the older people would want the Church to hold together, whatever the outcome - perhaps better understanding the wisdom of 'semper reformanda'. It would be very interesting to see if the Diocese of Nelson (should Motion 30 became the preferred option for General Synod) would opt to form the official SYDNEY/GAFCON affiliate in New Zealand. My prayers are for moderation to be the watchword.

Peter Carrell said...

THanks for comments above!
Bowman
I am not sure what you are saying about Nelson's motion.
You seem to be saying that Nelson is right to ban SSB and even more so to refuse contemplation of SSM until better arguments are brought forward in support of it.
But Nelson's motion is also about some space elsewhere in our church for SSB to be permitted.
Are you completely and utterly against SSB occurring (so within Nelson) or are you (relatively) comfortable with SSB occurring somewhere (so Nelson about outside of Nelson)?

Father Ron Smith said...

You are not the only one, Peter, who may be confused about Bowman's real position on SSB. From what I have gathered from his voluminous writing on the subject, he woud be happy with a S/S couple's relationship being recognised as part of the process in a 'House Blessing' - but not in the Church. I cannot fathom the difference. Except, perhaps, to keep it all under wraps, so as not to frighten the horses. How could this help?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Sam, and thank you for your thoughtful report.

Peter, my 21st/4:16 is not my position on SSB, which is the same as it ever was. It is a reply to Father Ron's thoughts about diversity in 21st/9:59 and 5:57. It could also be read as a reply to Sam's contrast between the younger and the older clergy in Nelson, although I had not seen that when I commented.

BW

Postscript-- My position is simple, if not brutal; it just takes a certain fortitude to adopt it and live with it. Get out of the wedding business, and find a new pastoral care for persons, couples, and families.

For context, bear in mind that it is not unusual in my world for society weddings, even of Episcopalians, to be in a secluded park or beach where a priest, a rabbi, a roshi-- sometimes two of the three-- offer a prayer, a judge records the promises, the best man and maid of honour offer toasts, and the party begins, all according to the plan of a professional wedding planner. Statistically, the odds are excellent that these couples will never divorce, especially if their financial planners have done their work well.

Meanwhile, where people are not so rich, church weddings still happen but against the social and sexual chaos of the 1970s. The odds are much worse for these couples, and, despite all their dysfunctions, families still have far more say in how couples will couple than pastors do. Clerical concern with what the canons require and rubrics allow could not be more bizarrely detached from the harsh human realities social decadence. This is what we get for trying to live an anachronism; it is giving stones for bread.

Christendom was not a bad arrangement, but in plainly post-Christendom societies, faithful Christians should and inevitably will return to close adherence to the clean church-state separation of St Paul's Epistle to the Romans. This is something Anglicans have not thought through for the obvious reason that churchmen in England mostly and perhaps rightly resist it. This is especially true with respect to marriage because that is the one aspect of the Establishment that is personally relevant to every citizen. May God Almighty bless the sceptred isle for ever, but my ancestral diocese of Virginia was disestablished in 1803, and most of the Communion was never fully established at all. It is far past time for us to think this through, not least with respect to *solemnisation*.

Anonymous said...

On one hand, we should not want the blind state to be classifying citizens according to gender as the medieval and modern marriage laws effectively did. Totalitarian regimes of the C20 show clearly the dangers of ceding them that power. State registration of partnerships is a social good for all free citizens, including Christians and those with SSA. I have favoured that for decades. (It is possible that new technologies such as *blockchain* may someday supersede even that limited state role, but that is over our horizon here.)

On the other hand, neither should the church allow *state agency* to intrude on pastoral care at all, as *solemnisation* very plainly does. And the more we care about *Christian marriage* the greater our resistance should be. So likewise, I have favoured for decades a French "laicite" in which the mayor or the judge records the eligibility, intention, and promises of a couple. Families, churches, and businesses are then free to respond to that public act as they choose.

For Anglicans not in the CoE, such responses fall within the *non-essential* and *private* margin, which is not unimportant but is well beyond the purview of eg synods. Just as they do not tell us our bedtime prayers, and no longer tell us whether we may use incense, so also it is none of their business to tell us how to mark the beginning of a civil union, nor whether we should even desire to do so. Moreover, there is no reason to assume that those of us who read Tom Wright or Dallas Willard and those of us who read Marcus Borg or Richard Rohr will want to celebrate the same things in the same ways. Our other private devotions differ considerably, and so probably will these.

SSB? Why?

As a thought experiment, suppose that Anglican churches had stopped routinely doing *solemnisations* in the mid-C20 when most couples had stopped believing in the stated purposes of the BCP rite. Now imagine-- what church today, other than the poor, besieged CoE, would be talking about SSB at all? And more importantly, what new thing would they be thinking and doing for God about sex, love, marriage and family? Maybe house-blessings, maybe something else. But nobody-- not even zealots for SSB-- would be summoning couples to churches to ask them their names, whether they want to marry, if so who, etc.

We do indeed keep the post-Christendom truth under wraps, so as not to frighten the horses. How does this help? I think it is pretty clear who it hurts.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
And, Ron, I had forgotten about previous Waltonian talk re house blessings.
I think, Bowman, as attractive as I find your (my terms) low key, informal, theologically integral approach to SSB compared to the high key, formal, solemn approach contiguous with Christendom, I am left, as I think I have previously said, with the fact that, nevertheless, this church of mine uses formal liturgies and has people requesting formal liturgies for solemn moments in life, and thus our church is in a formal synodical process towards SSB.

Anonymous said...

"...this church of mine uses formal liturgies and has people requesting formal liturgies for solemn moments in life, and thus our church is in a formal synodical process towards SSB."

Probably, Peter, the two differences between our views are these two ecclesiological concerns and their pastoral outworking.

(1) That synod governs best that itself invents least. I can more clearly see the Holy Spirit at work in acts that recognise and adopt freely evolved practice than in institutional projects of invention and promulgation. The composition and adoption of the canon of scripture, the Byzantine and Gregorian chants, the several collections behind Cranmer's BCP, etc have an intrinsic authority that I do not discern in the products of synods per se as easily as you do.

(2) I see everything through the lens of *new evangelisation* for post-Christendom societies. My preferred strategy is fairly close to that of Pope Francis-- this generation needs to rid itself of merely constantinian practices and reflexes that cannot work in Cosmopolis, and to instead try new practices that may, so that *new evangelisation* can get re-started in places where it has stalled out.

Theology aside, invented rites of SSM have not been very helpful to some couples that I cannot possibly identify here. The problem is not that the rites were too formal. It is that the ideology behind them aimed merely at *abstract equality in Christendom* or *giving customers what they want* rather than actual care and conviction for some people who need rather a lot of it. So the play was staged; the clergy read their lines; the rainbow banner hung proudly by the church door; the actual couples see therapists, lawyers etc for their somewhat distinctive challenges. And as most of them were interfaith couples, this puts the Christian in the position of explaining to a Jew, atheist, etc-- and unbelieving in-laws-- what this was all about. What can s/he say?

Now some of this is just the rot of the old *solemnisation* paradigm. Poor gays and lesbians thought that we lucky straights had it all, and are finding out that all we had was a medieval ceremony designed to prevent bigamy and bastardy. It is not enough; it has not been enough for a very long time.

Your synod cannot fix this. But it can allow pastors space for smart experimentation at the margins. In the future, that may point to a better way.

BW

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father Ron, for your attention to my comments, which do not compensate for the pleasure of reading and recalling your best of the past two years.

You are quite right that few quite get my position on SSB. The few who can and do get it expect quite radical change in the lives of all churches over the next half century. The many who cannot get it see SSB in ACANZP (different things up here) as an increment of change in something familiar that is not likely to change much at all. The difference is one of imagination, not of holiness, etc.

"...he would be happy with a S/S couple's relationship being recognised as part of the process in a 'House Blessing' - but not in the Church. I cannot fathom the difference."

House-blessings are fun; weddings are dull. House-blessings connect all private life to the Body; they are reminiscent of Jesus's home visitations and St Paul's house-churches. Weddings have always had a predominately familial and public character; their few historical associations-- father selling bride to groom, etc-- are not of interest to Christians.

BW

Ssam Anderson said...

Thanks for your welcome, Bowman and your thoughts. I read them careful but I must admit that I find them a little esoteric for this simple local vicar! From what I can understand, however, I do appreciate your critique of the post-Christendom church and you offer interesting insights and suggestions into the paradigm shift required of the 21C church if we are to have any success in navigating the new waters of our societies. That being said, I feel that your vision is too long-sighted to be of much use to us on the ground today. As Peter has said, we have a church that does solemnise and people who desire such rites (Although I particularly enjoyed your pointed comments of the the failure of this rite to do what people hope it will!).

And so, as a simple conservative evangelical, I can only deal with what is directly in front of us. Given our milieu, how do we react? I strongly urged our synod to reject Motion 29 for the basic reason that it is thoroughly inconsistent with the scriptures and with church doctrine. It amazes me that many of the laity who fill the pews of St Christopher's can see this so clearly: while many in the hierarchy with more than a passing Pharisaic resemblance (John 9:40-41)seem to have contracted a certain ecclesiastical blindness that allows them to see as grey that which is black and white. I am a conservative, but I do understand theological 'greyness'. I am not a raging fundamentalist, but I am utterly convinced that the bible in no way condones same-sex activity. I watched the 48 minute Time for Love video with an open mind and heart and an expectation of theological and hermeneutical rigour. Peter has closed comments on that post and I'm not trying to skirt around the rules(!) but I will say that my expectations were sorely misplaced as predictably old, tired, and pedestrian arguments were given a new lick of paint and sold with accompanying music as a new product.

Sam Anderson said...

"Let's now hope that Evangelicals everywhere in our Church will agree to settle down to the possibility of 'living With Difference' in ways consonant with the traditional Anglican 'Unity in diversity' paradigm." Ron Smith. 9:59

I say this with sadness rather than aggression. What is the 'unity' within our church of which you speak? It is an invented and false narrative. There is very little (if any) unity between me and you, Ron: you do not like my churchmanship; you do not like my theology; you likely wouldn't like my political and social views either. At best I can hope that we are brothers in Christ who share the same baptism, Spirit and Lord, but I'm sure that at times we both doubt that. Let's be more honest, eh? This Anglican church is a family that has become deeply estranged from one another. We are not going to kiss and make up, for we continue to walk in opposite directions. The sooner we can all be brave and honest and admit this the better.

"It woud seem that the younger clergy and laity in Nelson against the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions are not what might be called 'traditional middle of the road' Anglicans." Ron Smith 5:57.

No, Ron, we're not. That sort of innocuous religion hold little attraction to the few youth of today who have decided to follow their Saviour. The gospel of the Lord Jesus is radical and scandalous. 'Middle of the road Anglicanism' is on life support and has a terminal prognosis. What young person is prepared suffer for a vacuous message wrapped in a dusty cope?
No, we will stick with the true and radical gospel. We realise that it confronts our society but we do not flinch (though at times we might like to) because that is exactly what our society needs. As an older man, Ron, I hope that you have not been exposed to the horrendous and almost limitless sexual possibilities that the internet offers. Our society--both men and women--are heading for a sexual crisis: a complete meltdown of boundaries and restraint. The only hope we have is the radical message about sexuality offered in the bible. The world does not need more Christians who look like them, they need an obvious and undeniable foil for their idolatrous and ruinous self-determination.

Anonymous said...

"That being said, I feel that your vision is too long-sighted to be of much use to us on the ground today."

Thank you, Sam, for kind words. I include your reservation above among them.

As you must have guessed, I think that the big things that truly matter to churches take decades to happen and are nearly unstoppable when they do. For example, research has made it plain that the plummeting membership of the CoE in recent years was foreseeable from the already conspicuous absence of young women in the 1960s. And the arguments for and against SSM that are so often offered in Peter's threads here are the ones I heard as an undergraduate in the 1970s, except that the case against traditional translations of the Six Texts seemed more convincing then than today. More happily, I am surprised and delighted by the extent to which the things that we agreed should happen in theology when we were in our early 20s are had actually begun to happen by the time we entered middle age. It has not been hard to foresee the future; it has only been hard to have the nerve to face it.

So in my own life experience, it has been much less valuable to stay on top of a present that is all but settled than to try to understand the slow but inexorable developments at an earlier stage. Sometimes one can influence changes; other times one can be more strategic in dealing with them. My own concern, here and elsewhere, is to stimulate the thinking that the coming half century of rapid change will require.

BW

Jonathan said...

A worthwhile question might be what to do with deep estrangement. I can forsee the possibility of needing to belong to two differing Anglican churches (one more conservative, one less conservative, on matters of sexuality; and on other matters it is sometimes a little hard to tell what "conservative" means) if, for instance, our bishops reject AEO as a means of some form of unity. Jonathan.

Brendan McNeill said...

Sam

I wanted to endorse your comments in relation to motion 29. At the very least this motion is an expression of a church that has completely lost its way in all matters relating to Biblical sexual morality.

Should motion 29 pass, as Peter believes it will and others believe it must, then we have considerably undermined the church’s ability to condemn any form of extramarital sexual activity conducted between consenting adults.

If love, fidelity and commitment are all that is necessary to sanctify one form of proscribed sexual activity, then surely it must sanctify them all? If the clear teaching of Scripture can be depreciated, or even discarded in favour of homosexual unions, then on what possible basis can we discriminate against other relationships the Scriptures condemn?

Those in favour of motion 29 seem uninterested in considering the downstream effects on the church, or even recognising they exist, but they are real and will have their full effect.

Our culture has all but arrived at mutual consent being the only constraint upon adult sexual activity. Motion 29 is a significant step in the same direction by the Anglican church.

It is inevitable that a church having embraced Motion 29 will eventually become fully aligned with the cultural zeitgeist. This process will be further expedited by the exit from the church of those whose orthodox faith presently acts as a restraint upon this rush to apostasy.

Father Ron Smith said...

" It amazes me that many of the laity who fill the pews of St Christopher's can see this so clearly: while many in the hierarchy with more than a passing Pharisaic resemblance (John 9:40-41)seem to have contracted a certain ecclesiastical blindness that allows them to see as grey that which is black and white." - Sam Anderson -

Dear Sam, there are only five entries in the ACANZP Clerical Directory issued for the year 2015 to 2016 ( I do not have the latest directory). This probably means that you entered the ministry our Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand after that date. Also, I do not know whether you are on the staff of the particular church you mention in our diocese but, as you will no doubt be well aware, St.Christopher's has become the leading con/evo (conservative Evangelical) parish in the Christchurch Diocese. We, at Saint Michael's, may be said to represent the more liberal Anglo-Catholic (inclusive Church) ethos in the diocese.

This does not mean that we are not part of the same Body of Christ - even though our ministries tend to embrace some different aspects of the Gospel as we determine its influence upon the daily lives of our fellow citizens.

One would expect the leadership of our respective parishes to encourage our respective membership to worship and live out the principles of the Gospel of OLJC as we perceive them and believe them to be appropriate.

My perspective has been drawn from 88 years of life as an Anglican - 44 of them being involved in active ministry in the Church, and nearly 20 of them in the ministry of the Christchurch diocese, which, I think, qualifies me to bring my actual experience to this debate.

I see our two traditions as having a long and honourable history in the evolution of the Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia - all part and parcel of the Body of Christ.



Sam Anderson said...

Dear Brendan,
Thanks for your post. I was particularly struck by your statement: "If love, fidelity and commitment are all that is necessary to sanctify one form of proscribed sexual activity, then surely it must sanctify them all." This is both profoundly simply and irresistible.

Dear Ron,
Sorry for the confusion. I am the vicar of St Christopher's Anglican Church in Blenheim--I write this from the same study once occupied by our host, the Rev PRC. I was making no comments whatsoever about the esteemed establishment in fair Avonhead (though the adjectives 'conservative' and 'leading' may be something of a stretch!).

I am aware that you have been in ministry longer than I have been alive. And I do wonder how I might see the world should the Lord grant me an additional 49 years of life and I equal your age. What the youth have in vigour, they often lack in wisdom. Sadly, however, I cannot share your positive assessment of the situation as per your final paragraph. It's not that I'm opposed to Anglo-Catholic theology per se, which may have along and honourable history. Indeed, there are, around the world, a great many Anglo-Catholic churches who are totally opposed to any movement towards unorthodox positions on marriage and human sexuality. I am, however, totally opposed to the much more recent phenomenon of the Liberal-Catholic "Anglicanism" which has no warrant whosoever within our church. I don't know for sure, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but I have assumed from your previous comments that you belong to the latter rather than the former tradition.

Anonymous said...

"A worthwhile question might be what to do with deep estrangement."

Yes, Jonathan, I agree.

"I can foresee the possibility of needing to belong to two differing Anglican churches..."

Or perhaps just one otherwise healthy Anglican church where some happy warriors think want the Body of Christ to be a Department of Public Morals, others want it to be an Anglican Liberation Front, and most sense that both are seriously wrong about something but cannot state their intuition as an effective rebuttal.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Sam. 'Nuff said' - when you mention your ministry in the Diocese of Nelson. I now totally understand where you are coming from. The influence of Sydney's Moore College in the Nelson Diocese is a well-known phenonmen, and the exodus from that establishment into the N.Z. dioceses brings Sydey Diocese's con/evo theology into our Church which, hitherto, was only marginally affected by it - except for the Nelson Diocese, of course - largely because of the Moore College connection.

What a coincidence that your parish of St.Christopher in Nelson has the same name as your Evangelical counterpart parish in Christchurch! I suppose it shares the rare distinction of the Evangelical 'brand'- the Anglo-Catholic counterpart of which is often found in churches dedicated to St.Michael and All Angels, like ours here in Christchurch.

What needs to be understood is that, as Pope Francis is now advocating - though not without some opposition in his own Church - the Church is God's messenger of God's Mercy and Love - really a Hospital for Sinners, rather than a Mausoleum for Saints. We are all Sinners. The Gospel practitioners have usefully been compared to 'One poor man showing another poor man where to find bread' - in our case, the Bread of Life in Christ Jesus. Blessings!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bowman, thanks for you kind comkents to me-ward,

Believe me, I do try to read your comments carefully and with an open mind - bearing in mind your own fairly conservative position on what can and cannot appropriately be blessed in the public liturgies of the Church. It does seem to me that you, yourself, have a fairly high theology of the sacraments of the Church - even to the point where you question the value of the Church undertaking to marry people without any formal attachment to the Church, for the sort of aesthetic pleasure a wedding in church might afford to the couple and their friends and family (lovely setting etc.)

On this parfticular point, though, ther Church of England, being a 'State Church' has a legal obligation to marry all and sundry heterosexual couples, only one of whom needs to live in the parish but not necessarily be a Church member. THAT, I agree is a real problem which we, in N.Z. do not have. The priest-in-charge of any parish has the right to refuse to marry anyone who has no formal connection with the Church - or who has been the subject of a divorce, for instance. What is at stake, in both instances, is whether - or not - it is better for the Church to be openly hospitable to 'outsider' - in the hope that God may do something in their marriage, and perhaps itg might be an avenue for the grace of Baptism for their children - or maybe even the couples themselves. Hospitality is one of the MARKS of Christianity.

By the same token, no con/evo minister in our Church will lose their right to refuse to marry whomever - be they hetero or same-sex couples. Motion 29 will retain this right for those Evangelical clergy who have a consicenious objection to conducting S/S Blessing in our Church. The passage of Motion 29 will not compromise their own objection toi S/S Blessings.

What Motion 29 will do, however (unless it is thrown out by G.S. 2018 in preference for Motion 30, which is more open to an actual change of doctrine on this matter) is enable our Church to meet the needs of those in the Church who happen to be living in monogamous partnership with someone of the same gender, who would like to 'exit the closet' and formalise their loving relationship within their church community.

The age-old question, of course, is whether Jesus - if here were present in the world of today - would countenance and even welcome such an open acknowledgement of the love of two people who have no other way of relating in a marriage-like partnership. My catholic outlook would give a resounding Yes. - especially as no one else's faith and conscience are involved in the process.

The only question here may be; do those who have a problem with S/S Blessings feel that they cannot co-exist in the local Body of Christ with those of us who do not? Is this going to prove to be the one ethical situation - amongst several others which have survived the agony of past decisions - to prompt the serious step of schism - thus adding one more fragment of the Body of Christ?

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Ron,

I'm afraid it's much worse than you imagine! Prior to coming to Blenheim I spent four years training at Moore College. Sydney's influence in Nelson, while certainly a historical fact, has waned considerably. In fact, during my time in Nelson I have found a pervasive distrust for the Diocese of Sydney and a great distancing from it. This is largely to do with the fact that this Diocese is almost entirely Arminian, charismatic and egalitarian, whereas Sydney is predominately Calvinist, non-charismatic and complementation.

Prior to going to Moore College I spent two years as a ministry intern at St John's Latimer Square. As part of my discernment process, Bishop Victoria asked me to attend a variety of churches around the diocese. My wife, 2 children and I visited St Michael's and All Angels on Sunday 13th February, 2011. As requested by +V, I wrote an account of our experience there. In it I make many positive comments about our experience (which I'm happy to share with you if you wish). I do also make mention of a retired priest who challenged us on the un-Anglican nature of St John's. I've never made the connection, but I now wonder if that might have been you!?!

I entirely agree with your third paragraph, Ron. The church is at it's strongest when we apprehend the radical nature of the grace that each of us has been shown, and at it's weakest when we forget this and takes an air of superiority and finger-pointing. I do pray that we evangelicals who oppose revisions to the doctrines of marriage and sexuality do so with the former attitude rather than the latter. Our posture really ought to be "I say this as one sinner to another, through tears..." Grace and peace to you in God.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Sam, I heartily appreciate your last comment at 11.44pm on Friday. I don't remember meeting you and your familty at SMAA on the occasion you have cited here. However, as there were at least 3 retired clergy active in the parish at that time I cannot say who would have spoken to you negatively about St.John's Latimer Square. I hope it wasan't me. But if it was I apologise most deeply.Sadly, there has been a negativity between Evangelical and AC clergy in our diocese, but this has not been entirely from one side towards the other, and I'm sorry for my part in that.

However, being probably the only AC making regular contributions to ADU, I do some times feel a lttle under pressure to restore what I sometimes detect to be an imbalance - on what is probably the most important popular theological forum in our diocese - and possibly in our Province.

On the other hand - and perhaps a bit more catholic-oriented - Bosco Peters' site at nz.liturgy.com does offer valuable information more directly concerned with the liturgy of our Church and its engagement with the NZ Lectionary. It was Fr.Bosco, who is Chaplain at Christs College, who first encouraged me to set up my own blog on kiwianglo, believing that I had a legitimate A.C. point of view to put forward in the diocese and province - in view of my background as a Franciscan and interaction with the UK blog 'Thinking Anglicans.

I totally agree with you, that there is no room in any part of our Church to feel superior. We are all sinners - however; called by God to serve God in God's Church.
"Grace and peace to you in Christ!"

Anonymous said...

"It does seem to me that you, yourself, have a fairly high theology of the sacraments of the Church..."

Indeed. The theology of, say, Richard Hooker might have looked more like mine if he had been blessed with the opportunities that I have had to explore the Elizabethan settlement from Lutheran, Anabaptist, and Orthodox vantage points.

(a) For example, the *infra Lutheranum* (neque logos extra carnem, neque caro extra logon) makes perfect sense of the Prayerbook's sacramental realism; as we have recently seen, crude understandings of the *extra Calvinisticum* undercut that same realism more than traditional Anglican practice can bear. It is not utterly impossible to be somewhat Reformed and yet Anglican-- one could be aligned with the venerable House of Torrance, or have a German Reformed churchmanship influenced by the Heidelberg Catechism and the Mercersberg Theology, or (as Jens used to put it) could be "doing un-Barthian things with Barth." But if a C21 Anglican is trying to be standard Reformed, then s/he is a walking contradiction-- entrusted with the body and Body of a god s/he imagines and usually wants to be as bodiless as Mohammed's. No Body, no Presence, no Christ, no godspell. Luther's devotion to God deep in the flesh of Christ led me away from a dead end.

(b) Anabaptists denied that participation in society was normally also membership in the Body. Under the Tudors, English resistance to the idea was inevitable; today, as church and society come unzipped, we live in the world that the Anabaptists imagined. For that reason, their ideas for coping with its challenges are more useful to us than most nostalgia for Christendom. Among those ideas is that true sacraments-- as the Latin *sacramentum* suggests-- enact a costly allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they commit one to an ethic that, because it requires and exhibits that allegiance, is necessarily not that of the world.

(c) For the Occident Express stuck in the trackless desert of rationalism, Orthodoxy has been a cool breeze through the windows of the train-cars. Like others perplexed by convoluted three-way debates unique to the West-- eg St Mary, the Real Presence, tradition, etc-- I early found that no single position-- Lutheran, Papalist, or Reformed-- makes as much sense as the Patristic root of all of them. Anglicans have been discovering this on their own for centuries, of course, but chant through the services of the Festal Menaion and it will all be accessible to the heart. The Byzantine ordo, far more than any Western one, recognises the soul in the congregation as the microcosm of the macrocosm that Christ is renewing. In that world of prayer, Romans 8 and the Preface and Sursum Corda make their deepest sense.

For Anglicans, each of these influences on sacramental theology enriches evangelical faith. Luther is not only the most creative of the Reformers, but a better bridge back into the medieval Church than Rome, and a more instructive guide forward to modern Calvin than the later Reformed. Anabaptists have the deepest of all visions of discipleship, and as it is rooted in Christ's teaching and his Body, they avoid the Department of Public Morals trap into which many hold-the-line conservatives fall. There is a straightforward path from St Nicholas Cabasilas's Life in Christ through St Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ to the Bebbington Quadrilateral of Cross, Conversion, Bible, Action. Each influence is therapeutic for the central disorder in evangelicalism gone rotten-- a weak imagination for the connectedness of all things that tempts some to settle for bull-headed. go-it-alone, me-and-my-Jesus egoism when they could have so much more.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

I appreciate the fruitfulness of these theological gems (to mix metaphors), Bowman!

Bryden Black said...

I’ve had to be busy about countless matters these past days/weeks, and so have only recently caught up with ‘jaunts’ by P&T down to Dunedin (the route does throw up some real vistas - once past the interminable straight!), etc. Three things catch my attention on this thread however:

1. Bowman @ March 22, 2018 at 5:21 AM. Indeed; could not agree more. Time for the church to get out of the marriage solemnization stuff - as Continental Europe did many decades ago ... Unfortunately, our Anglican cultural entrapment in the Establishment (unless you are from BW’s world, naturally!) tricks us we may comply with the state even we might not ... And to be sure; if this had been our approach too, some of the sting regarding “solemnization” as opposed to pastoral accommodations might have been drawn from what have become our inevitable stand-offs and divides.

2. Comments about the demographics of the vote in Nelson. It’s been my experience these past 20 years in NZ that a majority of those Christians under, say, 35, both Anglican and non-Anglican, have become heartedly fed up with the consequences of the laxity of the Baby-Boomer generation. As a result, their faith is often a resounding ressourcement, a seeking to return ad fontes in true Reformation humanist style, which furthermore will likely do two things historically, I sense. (1) Out-last the mollifying practices of previous generations; (2) Come increasingly to clash with the ways of the state and world about them. May their witness prosper and be mightily blessed!

3. As one whose diocese of origin was gloriously ‘spikey’, given its historical links to CPSA, and its mixed missionary associations with USPG as well as Mirfield, I am well used to classic Anglo-Catholic sensibilities. And so, when that stream emerges which we may properly call Liberal-Catholic, I’m not fooled into regarding it as a mere derivation: it’s a distortion, and needs to be described as such. Consequently, our contemporary ‘debates’ are the more muddled and muddied when we fail to tease out the key premises of the respective ‘positions’ various folk hold - even when they might be unaware of them directly themselves.

Father Ron Smith said...

". As one whose diocese of origin was gloriously ‘spikey’, given its historical links to CPSA, and its mixed missionary associations with USPG as well as Mirfield, I am well used to classic Anglo-Catholic sensibilities. And so, when that stream emerges which we may properly call Liberal-Catholic, I’m not fooled into regarding it as a mere derivation: it’s a distortion, and needs to be described as such." - Bryden Black -

Oh dear, Bryden. I suppose that, having strayed so far from your Anglo-Catholic roots on the African Continent, it may be that you have lost touch with the more universal charism of the Catholic Tradition, which - along with Pope John XXIII - has declared the ongoing need for reformation. Notably, on the Continent of Africa today - apart from the A.C. dioceses, the majority of Anglicans there have become Defenders of the 39 Artifacts that once governed the Church of England - not realising that the even the Church of England has 'moved on' from its initial patriarchalism and sexism into the modern world - where institutional hypocrisy is instantly taboo.

By the way, when you talk about the under 35s moving back into the more staid ethos of the 39 Articular Church; this is clearly not so with the Roman Catholic Church, whose young people from around the world are about to meet in Rome with their demand for a revolution in the Church, that will allow for a modern understanding of radical inclusion of former outcasts into the Church. See:

Holy Week and Easter Blessings.

https://kiwianglo.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/15893/

Glen Young said...


Hi Bryden,
Could not agree more. The ACANZP has lost any moral high ground to be bastion of Holy Matrimony. If it will bless same sex, sexual relationships; then the value of it's blessings, are to us,very questionable.

We had a wonderful time on Saturday last,{even in all the rain};when our son's marriage took place in our lovely garden-{ his mother's labor of love for the last 30 years}. They chose Charlie Hughes to take the service because they KNEW where he stood on Holy Matrimony. Charlie was de-frocked by the Bishop of Auckland for taking a stand against same sex blessings.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
You must move in different circles to me!
I see our young adults as pretty much the same mix as the older adults.
In both generations the feckless and the faithful are to be found :)
In theological terms, we are all sinners.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Ron and Bryden

It is fascinating to see how easily we segue into the prevailing issue of our time, regardless of how innocent Peter’s initial post.

Our culture is in the grip of what Rod Dreher describes as ‘liquid modernity’ – “Humanity itself has to become fluid. This is the ultimate goal of liquid modernity: to dissolve everything in nature, and to make it subject to the human will. We will have become as gods.”

As to your point Ron about the Roman Catholic church, Dreyer interviewed NY Times columnist and conservative Catholic Ross Douthat about his recent book concerning Pope Francis and his doctrine of ‘radical inclusion’ here:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/pope-francis-change-the-church-ross-douthat/

Douthat opines:

“In particular, I think the Francis era in Catholicism will tell all Western Christians something important about the plausibility of the thesis you advance in The Benedict Option – that so-called “liquid modernity” will dissolve every Christian confession that doesn’t hold fast to tradition.

The Vatican under Francis has been critical of your argument, and for understandable reasons: Their vision, what you might call The Francis Option, is very different, because it assumes that there are all kinds of ways that the faith might adapt and change to suit the times, and that such adaptation requires leaving the “rigidity” associated with conservatism and traditionalism behind. And if the pope’s reformation succeeds, if Catholicism adapts in the way he and his intimates envision and then thrives and evangelizes more successfully, it will supply a kind of explicit counter to your vision, and a different model for Christian flourishing in our challenging cultural matrix.”

Quite so.

““liquid modernity” will dissolve every Christian confession that doesn’t hold fast to tradition.”

Whether it is the 39 Articles formulated circa 500 years ago, or just 29 Articles as Ron you suggested (perhaps a typo) in a previous response, or ‘none at all’ is the prevailing question of our time.

The present Anglican trajectory (on the basis of 60/40 in our diocese) is ‘none at all’ or at least none that matter in our present cultural context.

I’m with Bryden on this one. I see encouraging orthodoxy in the under 35’s. Whether they can long remain in an institution that has embraced liquid modernity is the open question.

Bryden Black said...

Probably do Peter!

I'm intrigued by your diagnosis Ron; in fact, I don't recognize the assessment of my supposed pilgrimage at all. Not for the first time mind.
Nor is your assessment in the next para a reflection of what was written; it's pure speculation. There's no mention of the 39 Arts ...!
As for Roman youth: I happened upon this recently...

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/03/what-young-catholics-want

Bryden Black said...

RD is accurate in his diagnosis of "liquidity". It has long been noted our western postmodern milieu is one of: (1) extreme plasticity, and (2) extreme voluntarism. Without appreciating the roots of these Christian mission in the 21C is whistling in the wind.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of oversimplifying, outspoken forecasters of the several ecclesial futures tend to be for either retention or ressourcement, for either keeping people from leaving churches, or else for attracting souls to more integral identity and practice. On that--

(1) This difference is so viscerally felt that it is hard to get forecasters of either sort to seriously engage the forecasts of the other sort. Those who are just trying to keep charming people with iPhones from leaving their churches cannot fathom why, just when we all need to be as hip as possible, antiquarians and authoritarians are springing up all over the place. Conversely, those who would gladly give up social visibility and influence to experience an austerely authentic Way are more happy than sorry to see society-driven members drifting toward the exits.

(2) The forecasts-- Francis Option and Benedict Option-- will both come to pass. In the C4, the gradual establishment of the Church and the monastic resistance to its worldliness had their skirmishes but were ultimately complementary.

(3) Today, each of the two impulses is enfeebled by its delusion that the demise of the other will ensure its future triumph and vigour. In truth, neither will inherit much of a base from the present churches, and both will be led *from below* by those who inspire *convert-led growth*.

(4) Churchly rules and institutions may not fade into irrelevance, but *leadership from below*-- the unofficial but powerful influence of those who find solutions and help others to replicate them-- will actually define both paradigms. Readers will recall that both Anglican evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism spread in the face of official opposition.

(5) Because the tension between Francis Option mission and Benedict Option integrism is often confused with the tension between left and right, it can be helpful think about mildly conservative variants on the former and mildly progressive variants of the latter.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
You are supporting a thesis I am convinced of, that the church of today and of tomorrow is a "both/and" church, not an "either/or" church.
In today's church (for example) we have young people with vibrant faith who are opposed to SSB/SSM AND we have young people with vibrant faith who are in favour of SSB and/or SSM; in tomorrow's church it is going to be the same ... largely because we will still have a Scripture which can be read propositionally and a Scripture that can be read relationally ... both Francis and Benedict will continue to influence the church ... etc.

Father Ron Smith said...

In response to Bryden's comment at 7.44am:

I remember, as a Novice with SSF - and rather uptight on my own unformed understanding of what was required in the way of 'dissembling' from my then customary moral 'oughts and shoulds' rigidity - being counselled by my Superior in the Community to ponder on the words of one of the great hymn-writers, who said: "Rigid sinews - gently bend". This advice helped me to reconsider the demands of my own conscientious shibboleths, in order to pursue the path of seeking the greater good of others in loving them - apropos the fact that the wood of the Cross was not able to confine the expansion (flexibility?) of God's love by any humanly devised strictures.

"Immortal Love for ever full; for ever flowing free..."

Tonight, in the Foot-washing ceremony at SMAA, we will try to emulate the Love of Jesus towards his followers - while yet being aware of Peter's initial rejection of Jesus' invitation (Peter may have thought he did not need his own feet washed!). Then, will will share the Eucharist.

Anonymous said...

"...church of today and of tomorrow is a "both/and" church, not an "either/or" church."

In some way or the other, Peter, yes. Nothing so simple as the permanent victory of one extreme over the other will happen. The open questions are these--

(a) What theological/social differences will distinguish the poles? It is hard to speculate well about this question.

(b) How will the communities around each pole define themselves? This inquiry is a bit more tractable, but any answer will predict two future trajectories shaped by words and deeds yet to be seen.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Indeed, Bowman!

Bryden Black said...

Peter & Bowman; part of me has to admire your dialectical reading of history. This may of course be wrapped up in a number of guises: the worst frankly was "propositional vs. relational." For the basic trinitarian proposition IS the relational!! Nor is this a mere synthesis.

For all that, such is the essential nature of our human sexuality - present plasticity notwithstanding - that the likelihood of "both/and" prevailing longer term is slim. Slim too will be conversion growth until both accommodation and appeasement have run their course. At root, what is at stake is a due anthropology ala Imago Dei. Nothing else will suffice.

Sorry to be blunt: but exile is the inevitable fruit of contemporary dalliance with diabolical brews.

And dear Ron; the object of my contestation is neither my own shibboleths nor your own. Heaven forbid! It is rather an institutionalized amorality that decrees good to be evil and evil to be good - period!

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Bowman and Peter

I note that Bryden has provided a clear response to the idea that a church might live comfortably with a ‘both/and’ narrative around sexual morality. Exile is indeed on the horizon if it has not already begun.

Importantly, it is not as if this chaos within the Anglican dominion is taking place during a time of church growth, or even a static ‘status-quo’ in the west. Religious attendance amongst Anglicans is in free fall. A recent report on religious observance conducted by St Mary’s University in London revealed that amongst persons aged 16 years to 29 years in the UK, only 7% identified as Anglican. 6% on the other hand identified as Muslim.

https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/research/centres/benedict-xvi/docs/2018-mar-europe-young-people-report-eng.pdf

The backdrop to these statistics is that there are more than 60 million people in the UK, of which about 4% are Muslim.

Nominal Christians do a very poor job of transmitting their faith to the next generation. That’s not meant as a criticism of faithful Christians whose children choose to row their own waka, it is an observable fact.

Consequently, the overwhelming majority of those 7% who self-declare as Anglicans in the UK are likely be the children of orthodox parents who have been instructed in Biblical sexual morality, and a tiny minority will be those who have encountered Christ in a substantial way for the first time having come from an unchurched background.

There is no reason for young people who are sexually liberal to own the reproach of the cross that is associated with Christianity. Who wants to spend their days at University or work explaining to their friends that they are not bigots and are fully with the LGBTI+ agenda? Why not simply drop the baggage? You can still love Jesus your own way in your own time, surely?

After all isn’t everyone loved and accepted by God?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
You might give me more credit than you allow for my propositional v relational readings of Scripture ... you might think about colleagues in our own diocese who will not work in collegial ministry with those who do not share their particular propositional reading of Scripture and think about those colleagues who will relate to people in collegial ministry who do not agree ... there are parishes hereabouts who have never invited me to preach ...

As for your, "For all that, such is the essential nature of our human sexuality - present plasticity notwithstanding - that the likelihood of "both/and" prevailing longer term is slim. Slim too will be conversion growth until both accommodation and appeasement have run their course." Really? Of all people who know history, theology and the warp and woof of human nature, are you the one to naively view the church as one day shifting from being a community of people with diverse views to being a community with a uniform view ... and on sexuality? That great matter of humanity which continuously brings out the puritans, the pharisees, the hypocrites, the tolerant, and so forth among us! Has the church even stopped offering some kind of accommodation and appeasement on matters of sexuality? Why should it start now?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I quite agree that nominal Christians do a poor job of handing on the faith.
Otherwise I think you oversimplify in your comment above how complex life is re being Christian, handing on the faith, diverse views on sexuality. Some of the most committed Catholics I know have, for instance, views on sexuality which are very liberal (relative to the Catechism). Some of the best conservative parents I know have children with little or no active commitment to Christ. Some of the most liberal parents I know have produced children who a committed to Christ in ways which defy the liberal theologies of their parents ... life is complex!

Anonymous said...

"Exile is indeed on the horizon if it has not already begun." --Brendan

"Sorry to be blunt: but exile is the inevitable fruit of contemporary dalliance with diabolical brews." --Bryden

Brendan & Bryden, your disagreement is central to this thread, and indeed to many threads here.

Constantine's horse is not like Schrödinger's cat. Either he has bolted the barn as Brendan says, or he is still eating hay inside as Bryden implies. The two hypotheses open two wholly different conversations about them. Both cannot be reality-based. Personally, I only have time for one of them.

So at least until we see an ACANZP plan to restore Christendom to the societies of the West by defeating SSB or whatever, I side with Brendan-- dalliance or no dalliance, Christendom is gone. My comments do not discuss the fate of the horse in the barn because I think that he bolted and ran away a long time ago. And as for "exile," if you threaten me one more time with life in the world that I already live in, I'll roll over and snore.

If Christendom is gone, even long gone, then what do have left to talk about? Among other things-- in my 24th/3:40 above, see (b) and the third sentence of the last paragraph; in my 29th/11:15 above, see (3) and (5).

BW

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

I quite agree that life produces ‘exceptions to every rule’; my post acknowledged that reality. However, who of us believes that matters of faith and practice should be determined by the exceptions? (Other than perhaps 60% of Anglicans?)

The philosophical and theological difficulty in which the Anglican church now finds itself, is determining how far can it extend the boundaries of sexual liberalism in defiance of Scripture and the example of Church history before it becomes no longer ‘Christian’ in any meaningful sense.

40% of Anglicans appear to believe it is about to cross that threshold.

Yes, individual Christians have always held a range of views with respect to human sexuality. That is to be expected. What is also to be expected is that the process of sound teaching, discipleship, sanctification and the renewal of the mind begins to conform these diverse saints into the likeness of Christ where they begin to love the things that God loves, and hate the things God hates. This is by its very nature an imperfect and on-going process.

The Anglican church’s rush to ‘accommodation and inclusion’ has of necessity lowered and in some cases completely removed the expectation of discipleship. It has largely replaced the process of sanctification with the imperative of ‘nice’. Just so long as we are all very nice, tolerant, accepting and inclusive God will be well pleased.

But will he? Even a casual reading of Scripture suggests otherwise.

For most of its history the church has been counter cultural. It clearly still is today in the Middle East and China. It’s now becoming increasingly so again in the west as the new orthodoxy of secular liberalism makes increasing demands for allegiance.

This is very much a ‘choose this day whom you will serve’ moment for the church. My sense is that the Anglican church is about to choose … poorly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36WEn-9zs1U

Bryden Black said...

"Constantine's horse is not like Schrödinger's cat."
True Bowman; the one is an historical, structural piece of past history, the other a merely delightful mental playfulness, trying to grasp another level of reality altogether!
And as with all metaphorical speech, "exile" may either see Christendom as the initial premise for the Promised Land with exile its follow up (which I do not), or exile as the real consequence of the Community of God's covenant betrayal (which I do).
And so BW and Peter, the key is to read the Signs of the Times correctly: because we are indeed post Christendom, that great cultural experiment with all its accommodations and inevitable compromises is well and truly over. This therefore calls for a degree of faithfulness among the Covenant Community hereafter that the likes of the Benedictine Option is clarifying most succinctly. Our forms of ecclesiology need to be refashioned according to the Times; and the praxis of discipleship accordingly too. And frankly, my experience and understanding of western Anglicanism suggests we are perhaps most to be pitied, given our past history. Our refashioning will need to be seismic ...

Peter Carrell said...

Somewhat ironically, Bryden and Brendan, in your recent comments above, you (seemingly) refuse to understand what the ACANZP may be about to agree to, which is not some elastic let alone fantastic liberal accommodation of the zeitgeist, but a considered, theological consideration of how people neither able to marry nor to endure celibacy might embed a relationship not only of mutuality but also of fidelity, not only of love (which can be fleeting) but of lifelong, covenanted commitment. This decidedly CHRISTIAN approach to life counts for nothing in your eyes. Just another selling down the river of the church's soul ... a sort of Henrician convenience move, never before known to Anglicanism ... no, wait!

I ask of both of you for more respect for your brother and sister Anglicans.

Not one of the parishioners subject to your criticisms needs be in church. In the post Christendom secular world any regular church goer is a stand out witness against the spirit of the age, but a casual reader could never discern that from your comments. Apparently the 60% are indistinguishable in their inner minds from cognoscenti and cultural warriors of Western secularism.

Is there any possibility that you are showing insufficient appreciation for the quality of your siblings in Christ? That they just might be reading Scripture differently to you, albeit with the same depth of love for Christ, for God and for their neighbours and enemies as you have?

Anonymous said...

"...because we are indeed post Christendom, that great cultural experiment with all its accommodations and inevitable compromises is well and truly over."

Yes, Bryden, but until the Lord returns some accommodations and compromises-- also some schisms and blunders-- remain a fact of life between the aeons.

"Our forms of ecclesiology need to be refashioned according to the Times; and the praxis of discipleship accordingly too."

Yes. For the vast majority of Christians this will mean acquiring practices that materially distinguish membership in a society and its state from membership in the Body. In critical distance thus opened, a call to deeper discipleship can be heard and discernment of calling and paradigm can begin.

"This therefore calls for a degree of faithfulness among the Covenant Community hereafter..."

Yes. But I would prefer to say that, in the critical distance just mentioned, disciples and communities in Christ should recalibrate their eschatologies against the word of God and then follow their discerned vocations with whole hearts. God will lead some out of the world and others deep within it.

"...that the likes of the Benedictine Option is clarifying most succinctly."

In part, yes. At least here up yonder, proponents of the Benedict Option usually envisage the creation of new social conventions and institutions that REPLACE those of the majority culture. Institutionally, this will not always look like monasteries-- Quakers and home-schoolers do not-- but the dynamic will be that of the monastic reforms (Cistercians following St Bernard, Discalced Carmelites following St Teresa). Fresh communities and a few reformed older ones will affiliate around charismatic exemplars who lead them out of the maze and win recognition from Petrine ministries. They will be outside of, and as different from, the social mainstream as monastics, the Amish or Orthodox Jews have always been.

"And frankly, my experience and understanding of western Anglicanism suggests we are perhaps most to be pitied, given our past history."

Yes, the *national* churches will have to break the habit of being cheerleaders for every single one of their societies' projects.

"Our refashioning will need to be seismic ..."

Yes, but refashioning a whole denomination for faithful life as a minority in a fleshly culture is the Francis Option. By definition, it is trying to help fish who are caught for Christ while they are still SWIMMING in the invisible conventions and institutions of the social mainstream. Institutionally, that this will probably look more like the attempted Wesleyan reform of the Church of England (eg Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion) than the sort of top-down reform that some desire or fear from Francis.

None of us doubts that either SS Bernard and Teresa or the brothers Wesley were reformers. But they reflect two enduring ecclesiologies with rather different eschatologies, some very realised and others less so. So long as godly readers find both broad sorts of eschatology in the word of God there cannot be just one sort of reform.

At this moment, Christians mad at the world who want reform now are sometimes muddled in their thinking about what kind of reform they support and why they support it. Uncertainty about just what authorises reform can lead to some surprising contradictions, eg between hold-the-line conservatism and root-and-branch precisionism in the same places at the same time. Protestants accustomed to simple laic churches built of a kit of parts are not yet ready to navigate a coming diversity of vocations that Catholics and the Orthodox will more easily recognise. And in my country there is still deeper confusion as persons who are more formed by their political partisanship than by the Holy Spirit bring the most fleshly of all worldly commitments to their efforts to realise spiritual community on earth. But this only shows why not everyone is a St Bernard or a John Wesley. Indeed, it shows why reforms are led by exemplars.

BW

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

I would also ask you to have more respect for The teachings of the Apostles,the Church Fathers and the Traditions of the Church; along with the Constitution of the ACANZP 1857 and the Civil Law of N.Z. Pause a moment and ask yourself,TO WHOM DOES THE CHURCH BELONG?. If to CHRIST,then it belongs to His TEACHINGS; ACANZP Constitution 1857,Fundamental Clause 1,and Recitals 1 @ 2.

Motions 29 @ 30 remove human sexuality out of Holy Matrimony into any relationship that General Synod sees fit to place it.A vote in favor of these motions,is a vote against the Doctrine Of the ACANZP as defined in Her Constitution.It is a vote against Holy Matrimony as defined in BOCP.

They may be just reading Scripture differently from us; so be true to this statement and go down and join with the J.Ws and the Mormons, who also read the Scriptures differently from us.

Bryden Black said...

" ... but a considered, theological consideration of how ..."
"I ask of both of you for more respect for your brother and sister Anglicans."
"Is there any possibility that you are showing insufficient appreciation for the quality of your siblings in Christ?"
Wow! So the gloves are off?

One of the intriguing things about the Psalms is the fact that they frequently speak of enemies - NOT as those who are beyond the natural borders of the territory of Israel but of those within. This used to confuse me, even trouble me, especially as one who has read the Psalms for decades. But for a while now I've understood exactly what is meant ... That addresses (2) & (3).

As for (1): If only there had been some - ANY - "considered theology", yet GS saw to it that anything which might resemble it was tapu.

No Peter; the velvet gloves of insidious manipulation have been stroking the "weak" for a number of decades now, and it has got to be called out for what it is.

That's all.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

I cannot presume to know what is in the hearts and minds of those who seek to bless extra-marital sexual relationships that exist in the Anglican church today. But let’s not pretend there are two integrities, each with competing truth claims, each deserving of equal status.

This is post-modern relativist drivel writ large.

Historically, when the church was faced with competing truth claims it took a more rational approach. Either both positions are false, or one is true and the other false, but both cannot be true. However, because those in authority within the church have elevated a form of ‘unity based upon compromise’ above truth, they have refused to confront the theological question head on. Consequently, we are about to legitimize and bless a practice that I’m confident you agree is sinful.

I fail to see how you consider this shameful compromise to be a ‘decidedly CHRISTIAN approach to life,’ when you personally would abstain from blessing homosexual relationships. If it’s ‘decidedly CHRISTIAN’ why won’t you bless these sexual unions?

Peter, these Christians are not ‘stand out witnesses against the spirit of the age’ as you assert. In embracing all things LGBTI+ they are entirely at one with the spirit of this age. Church going counts for nothing in and of itself. We show our love for Christ by obedience to his Word. We cannot say we ‘love God’ and walk in disobedience – to suggest that’s possible is simply not true. I agree that some sins are obvious and others less so, but these sexual sins are obvious, leading to certain judgement. (1 Tim 5:24) We are commanded by Scripture to flee sexual immorality, not bless it.

Furthermore, your ‘plausibility structure’ centered around taking those admirable aspects of marriage, namely: love, fidelity and commitment, and applying them to a proscribed sexual union in order to ‘sanctify’ it, is without Scriptural precedent. It is a shameful distortion of the truth which needs to be repented.

It’s because I love respect gay Christians, and because I have good cause to be concerned about their eternal destiny (those in a sexual relationship) that I’m troubled to speak out. (Ezekiel 3:18)

Ultimately God will hold the shepherds responsible for the state of the flock. It’s not the 60% who are most at fault, but those shepherds who encouraged and led them there. Many seem to think God’s ways are our ways. They are not.

Anonymous said...

For Bryden and Brendan (and Father Ron), Peter, a reminiscence about professing faith in the Resurrection in Pennsylvania.

When Robert Jenson was teaching at Gettysburg, his students were mostly from the surrounding rural counties that were settled by Germans in the C18-19. Now because the wise Lutherans had put their diaconal year between the middle and final years of seminary, many students all fired up by Jenson's theology left Gettysburg for a year of real pastoral work in one of the region's myriad small towns, and then returned to his seminar room full of questions and problems. Among them was the curious problem of solid Christians who would not recite the *memorial acclamation*--

"Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again."

Churchgoing Lutherans thereabouts were elderly people trying hard to be the salt of the earth without claiming to be the light of the world. If they were not farmers, they were or had been the backbone of small towns-- retail managers, nurses, social workers, school teachers, firefighters, and police. Their faith fortified a simple personal morality, a solid work ethic, a reliable vote for Republicans, and an invincible neighbourliness. But it was a very private matter, not often mentioned even at home.

Now the Lutherans were then introducing the *memorial acclamation* to the eucharist, so that Jens's students were often the first to invite folks twice or thrice their age to stand and say--

"Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again."

To their horror, the good Lutherans of central Pennsylvania just could not do it. Firemen who had hurried up ladders into burning buildings hesitated. Nurses who had assisted at heart transplants panicked. Looking out at the people in the pews, the seminarians would see a few youngsters mumbling the words amid a silent gray congregation that was embarrassed to be standing up.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

So alas, what the Jensonians took to be the most basic of Christian professions was the very thing that most upset their parishioners about the new liturgy. Moreover, their parishioners' objection was not to the belief. They had said all that and more when they recited the creed just minutes before. What had gone wrong?

For reasons both of faith and ethnicity, these Americans of German descent had so entirely submerged their faith in private devotion and service to a secular society that talking about it seemed improper. It seemed pretentious to tell someone else what you knew about God. It was works righteousness to do a religious thing for the sake of religion alone. It was divisive to insist on beliefs that others did not share. It was awkward to call attention to one's belief in the supernatural. It was meaningful to receive communion for forgiveness of sins from the cross, but it was strange to think of it as celebration of the Resurrection. They were American Protestants of the C20, and the memorial acclamation went against all of that identity and conditioning.

And just as mysterious, what had gone right? After all, these same embarrassed congregations were just like the ones in which the seminarians had been baptised and confirmed, altar-servers and choristers. People like these had nurtured their vocations to ministry through years of catechism and church school. And indeed they were paying them a monthly salary and a book allowance to preach the gospel. What about two years in Gettysburg had made their spiritual reflexes so different from those of their generous godparents that they really liked saying, if not shouting or even singing, the memorial acclamation?

To be clear, there were in those days a few anxious bishops asking the same question. The youthful enthusiasm and occasional insensitivity of seminarians they understood. Seminarians disturbing the peace with a theological zeal for liturgics was something new under the Son. "So long as people experience the ground of their being in a communion service the words do not matter," one protested to Jenson. "You, bishop, are an atheist," Jenson replied. The many stories of Jenson's gentle manner ring true, but few of them are from his embattled days in Gettysburg.

If what had gone wrong was that life in Christ had been entirely submerged in the workaday niceness of small town America, what had gone right was that study and worship in Gettysburg had allowed the natural life of the Body to emerge. When the young Jensonians got a taste of that, they did not despise the faith of the old people in their congregations. But they could see how those people had been robbed and they were determined to right that wrong.

Bryden and Brendan sound to me-- if I have misheard, please say so-- as though they are discontented with an analogous submergence. Their complaint seems to be that, like those Lutherans in central Pennsylvania, Anglicans on the blessed isles live with a similar set of invisible constraints on their freedom to live a full life in Christ, and that their inability to just say no to SSB and move on is as much a sign of captivity as the inability of those Lutherans to mumble--

"Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again."

Now it is exhilarating to be a public scold or a prophet of apocalypse-- once in a very rare while, I do it myself-- and so I will not complain that Bryden and Brendan enjoy it too much. But if my analogy has held up this far, then perhaps we could say that what is missing from their critique thus far is a positive account of the Body life that lies submerged.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Triune Bs!

Brendan: there are many fine Christian thinkers who think Christianly with whom I disagree, including most Roman, Eastern Orthodox and calvinist theologians :)

Bryden: again, you show no particular respect for your fellow Anglicans. You say there is no theology supporting those advocating SSBs (let alone SSMs) and we can agree that one looks in vain for some kind of formal documentation; but we are talking about people who sit with you and me in the pews here - not some manipulating oligarchy of non-theological "leaders". We are talking about people sitting in the pews with you and me who read their scriptures, reflect on them, as well as on life's situation, and they have come to the conclusion that God is neither mean nor condemnatory about their gay relatives ... because they read so much non-meanness and non-condemnation into the scriptures which tell them of the infinite compassion of God (etc). Theirs is a theology which has not been manipulated by church leadership but it is a profound theology nevertheless of life, of love, and of God's work among us. But none of this counts for you. None of this has a place in the church for you. Such thinking is a form of wickedness; such thinkers are "enemies within." And, here is the thing: they are not asking you to think like them; nor are they asking for you to leave; they are simply asking whether their theology which is so disagreeable to you (and, apparently, so dangerous) might be recognised within the church they love as much as you do. So, I get it that you wish to deride what they believe, to cast them as "enemies" (perhaps me as well). But I wonder if they get it?

Bowman: lovely story. I really have no sense at the end of it that we are talking about the same situation in ACANZP!

Father Ron Smith said...

While some of you are content to talk about horses, the diabolical and cats, the primary focus of most Anglicans today will ber upon the dereliction iof Jesus. The people who got him killed? The locak Church Leaders who found his prevailing love for ALL - sepite their sin - too liberal.

"O Saviour of the world, Lord Jesus, who by your Croos and precious blood have redeemed THE WORLD; save us and help us, we humbly beseech you, O Lord." AMEN!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, thank you for your profound statement in your last post - about the Love of God in Christ, which covers all of creation - both good and bad. Re-conciliation has already been achieved, in Christ, a fact that many of us will be glad to affirm on Easter Eve - having already made our devotions to him on the day of his derelction - which Jesus endured for us ALL. What we all need to understand is that the Body of Christ is God's Church - it will ever prevail, as long as God is allowed to be in charge. Christus Resurrexit!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I'm glad that you liked the story. Of course, all down under are better judges of the suggested analogy than I am. It is possible that they will not agree about that among themselves.

I offered it because the paschal triduum has begun, and yet two of my online friends are saying things that sound deeply estranged from their church. The argument matters, but on Good Friday I especially wanted them to know that this has been heard, at least far away up yonder.

Brendan has probably put it more succinctly this way--

"... because those in authority within the church have elevated a form of ‘unity based upon compromise’ above truth, they have refused to confront the theological question head on. Consequently, we are about to legitimize and bless a practice that I’m confident you agree is sinful."

And Bryden agrees--

"If only there had been some - ANY - 'considered theology', yet GS saw to it that anything which might resemble it was tapu."

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

May I restate this? First, koinonia.

Our koinonia does allow some differences of belief and practice as St Paul explains, but it does not allow anyone to hold them in estrangement from the others. The being of the Body itself allows my personal practice to vary some from that of others, but it also constrains both me and them.

I must offer them at least an account of my variations that others can recognise as derived from the common faith. They must consider whether, if they applied the common faith to the facts that I live with, they might come to a similar result. If I do not offer that account, then that is a sin against charity, even if the variation itself is impeccable; others commit the same sin if they refuse to consider my account.

If I offer an account, and others truly cannot see how the common faith could warrant this in my circumstances, then the Body has a problem. By the Lord's appointment, churches have delegated the authority to solve that problem, and he will not fault me or others for following that binding and loosing.

If I nevertheless reject that binding and loosing, then I have a dilemma before God: if the body that has counseled me is not the Body, then why I am there rather than elsewhere?; if they are otherwise reliably the Body, then why do I disobey it this time? And if I do not know where the Body is, then I have a worse problem: if I do not think that there is, somewhere, the Body of Christ on earth, then how can I believe the Resurrection, and hence any of the gospel which is my only hope in life and in death? If the koinonia of the Body is not conserved with care, nihilism threatens the flock of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

Now to the restatement. Brendan and Bryden seem to object that, quite apart from the merits of SSB, the ACANZP handling of demands for it is posing precisely that threat of nihilsm. To be clear, this feels horrible to a believer, as well it should, but we do not need to feel horribly about those whose error has posed it. If they are angry with the GS, that is understandable within limits; if they hate the bishops, the GS, their opponents, etc there are, as Bryden says, psalms for healing that evil passion.

And we should be clear as well that one could be enthusiastically FOR both civil SSM and churchly SSB and still agree solidly with Brendon and Bryden on the threat that they see. In fact, from afar, their own reluctance to compromise on churchly SSM suggests that they sense the same threat looming that Brendan and Bryden do.

For example, if the Six Texts were aimed at pleasure-seeking bisexuals or heterosexuals, then they do not apply to the rare hard cases of SSA, and those with the power of the keys have a grave duty to all souls to just say so and apply the scripture accordingly. One may doubt the assumed facts, but that doubt does not threaten nihilism, and does conserve the koinonia of the local Body.

For another example, if the progress of souls in Christ described by St Paul is a more authoritative guide to personal practice than the general Six Texts, then again those with the power of the keys have a grave duty to all souls to insist on that progress when some suggest that only legality is required. One may disagree with that hermeneutic, but it does not threaten nihilism, and does conserve the koinonia of the local Body.

From either of those perspectives friendlier to SSB, Brendan and Bryden could be wrong about SSB itself, but right to object to ACANZP's handling of the matter. For what does it profit a faction to win the GS and lose their only Body?

Is their objection well-founded in fact? From here up yonder, a reasonable test of fact would seem to be this: is there today an episcopal directive to clergy who preach, teach, counsel, or hear confessions that explains how to distinguish sinful gay sex from sinless gay sex? If not, then prima facie, the objection raised is warranted and should be adjudicated without delay. And both proponents and opponents of SSB should want that adjudication for the common reason that the faith of souls of both persuasions is threatened, no matter which side happens to win a vote in the GS.

Now to me (and I think to Brendan), after years of debate, the adjudication is a simple matter. + Victoria confers with other bishops on Tuesday, writes a memo on Wednesday and sends it to her clergy on Thursday. How she prepares it is up to her. If the local custom is that the primate sends these memos, then she explains in her memo that her counsel is binding but provisional. Those who enjoy campaigning and voting in the GS need not stop doing so, but the Holy Spirit gave her alone the power of the keys in her diocese. She may err, of course, but error per se is not what threatens nihilism or dissolves the koinonia: it is the present absence of the faithful discernment for which the Lord provided.

Conversely, the idea that unpredictably shifting majorities in a sort of parliament are deciding the fate of souls is almost an operational definition of both nihilism and koinonia lost. Bluntly: the NT does not permit the power of the keys to be given to a group. Pragmatically: nobody will join a church that says "You must be saved from your sin, and as soon as our WG reports and our GS votes, we will know what two rooms full of people think that might be." The swimmers we see crossing the Tiber from time to time show me (and I think Bryden) that this is a serious Anglican problem, not an ACANZP one, and is the proximate cause of our strained unity.

May the Lord bless the Easter celebrations of us all!

BW

Bryden Black said...

It is most fitting Bowman that on our Holy Saturday, determined by our time zone, that I courteously thank you for your koinonia in the Body. After all, Julian did call the Head our "courteous Good Lord"! I have both enjoyed your erudition and gained insights from it. But now I bid you "adieu" as opposed to "au revoir".

The fact is you have nailed the nihilism rampant in this our sociological voluntary association that sadly thinks it might still remain a part of what its constitution calls "one holy catholic and apostolic", while it flirts with current "available believables" (Ricoeur). Sure; there are a number of good company men and women (not least in Nelson) who try to view it differently. Alas; I fear they will be tearing their hair out down the track. What is truly "submerged" will have surfaced all too clearly. For may be your 'Gettysburg' narrative, Bowman, is more symbolic than you realize!

While I myself do not fear (not least, as the Father has long since given the kingdom to his little flock), it is most fitting also that we ponder the enormity of this Holy Saturday (ala Hans Urs von Balthasar) while the Word made flesh and Lord of life lies silent and still. Just so, das Nichtige [the “annihilating undertow” of Nothingness] is granted its due 'topos' (after KB & EJ); and the waves of both social and ecclesial nihilism are thereby assuaged - in this age as in any other. Due faith IS mercifully granted its due understanding after all (as opposed to superficial, banal emotivism that covers (for) moral insight - yes; H/T MacIntyre one last time), and the Good thereby emerges discernible amidst a field of voluntarist “liquid”, “plastic” chaos, accompanied by the Spirit's grace to conform us to the same—after all, Pentecost IS the peer of Easter! And Luther's marks of the Church as gifts of the Holy Spirit remain despite ourselves, to assist in that transformation - should the Body once more seek their authentic practice (you perhaps intimate as much).

Kia Ora!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman, Bryden, Brendan, Ron
Thank you to each of you for your consistency.
I have pushed hard here and you have resisted stoutly and I admire that.
Thank you especially to the three Bs for the continuing challenge to me and to readers to think about what it means to be the church - the body of Christ, the temple of the Spirit and not another "group."
Ron: I am not publishing your latest comment - I do not see that it helps koinonia here.
Bowman: I suggest you are too focused on synods as means of governing the life of the church. What I am missing in your (nevertheless perceptive, pertinent) analysis is acknowledgement of the power of the person in the pew - their views are often determinative for the church (albeit expressed through their synodical reps).
In all sorts of ways and for reasons not mentioned here, I actually agree with Bryden about the prospect of ACANZP being in or heading towards "exile."

Anonymous said...

"What I am missing in your (nevertheless perceptive, pertinent) analysis is acknowledgement of the power of the person in the pew - their views are often determinative for the church (albeit expressed through their synodical reps)."

Thank you, Peter. This is helpful to my other project. I may reply directly to it, and to any other thoughts you have, next week. Today, I will only make a brief background point to clarify what is at stake for your readers.

Salvation is communion with God, and that communion is the same eternal dialogue of the Creator with creatures as the one heard in the Garden of Eden, by the Sea of Galilee, and along the roads to Emmaus and Damascus. (Thus Jerusalem. Any who instead seek dissolution into a great One or Void would be more at home in Varanasi.) Readers of the Bible will know that this dialogue with God necessarily has moments of extreme awkwardness for both sides eg Moses bringing tablets of the law to Aaron worshiping the idol of the golden calf. "My thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your ways." God will never be a party to a consensus of human opinions, although there can sometimes be a consensus that he has spoken-- a very different thing.

On earth, ordination sets aside some to sustain the Creator's voice in that unceasing dialogue; the legitimate "power of the person in the pew" is to speak for creatures. The clergy are bound to the freedom of the Word and so necessarily to many awkward encounters with their fellow sinners. Yet, since without that voice distinct from that of creatures there is no dialogue at all, the laity-- both individually and collectively-- are as robbed as the Creator himself when those in orders speak for ephemeral institutional interests instead. Brendan and Bryden, I take it, are speaking up for those robbed by a process that has displaced the eternal dialogue with consensus-seeking to maintain institutional *niceness*.

The Creator-creature dialogue can be peaceable and friendly-- "you are servants no longer but friends"-- but it can never be the monologue of tight consensus for which the keepers of human institutions understandably strive. Again, this is not a partisan point since nobody can know how the usual positions would have fared in a process more dialogical than the actual one over Motions 29 and 30.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Bearing in mind, Bowman, the laos who walk away from churches because the churches no longer speak their language, address their concerns, or assist with their life dilemmas. The consensus of these "departed" does not count much - I find - in the councils of the church (synods, magisterium, conventions, episcopal minds). Nevertheless those same councils of the church wring their hands over declining numbers, how to reach into changing cultural milieus, etc ...

Bryden Black said...

It is also fitting Ron, on the basis of equity, that I bid you as well as Bowman "adieu" on this Easter morn, thanking you for your constant reminders on ADU of the Sovereign Lord's singular love for all humanity through all the ages. That IS Gospel! Yet there happens to be more to the Gospel than this, its premise and key expression. Out of that very love has come also God's singular desire, will and purpose to recreate and transform his world and notably his human creatures in His Image. Pentecost IS the peer of Easter - as Robert Jenson so trenchantly expressed it. The consequence of this is not necessarily a 'volume 2' 'Pentecostal type' faith, but it IS an expectation, governed by a due appreciation of both realized and futuristic eschatology, of real, concrete and authentic transformation unto that true Image both now and forever. Anything less is less than the Full Gospel.

Adieu!

Anonymous said...

Christos anesti!

BW

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

I find it really encouraging in my Christian walk to know that my leaving the ACANZP and the reasons for it, are of no little concern to synod members and the Bishops.It's nice to know where you stand after 73 years.The family feel that the Church leadership really appreciates the land and money they have donated. Is this the "LOVE" that Ron's blogs incessantly speaks of???

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Glen
Your leaving the church is a concern to me - and that concern extends to others who are leaving or have left over these matters. Those leaving include those who fear for the strongest kind of Anglican progressivisim taking over AND those who fear the the strongest kind of Anglican conservatisim taking over. Both forces are at work in our midst and I know people who - including yourself - who have left for both reasons.

Father Ron Smith said...

In these days of Christ's Resurrection, it good good to know the Good News or - as Bryden puts it: 'The FULL Gospel' - that Christ died for ALL Sinners, that is; each one of us - despite our ongo9ng tency to sin!! For, that, I am ternally graterful.

Christos Anesti! Our Unity is 'en Christo' - not in any human intellectual grasp of this 'Amazing Grace'; Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia!

Greetings to all who believe in the power of Christ's Resurrection to SAVE - despite our human doubt and intrensigence. Alleluia, Alleluia!!!

Father Ron Smith said...

Giving gifts - even to the Church - if they are with strings attached are not really gifts at all. In the world of spirituality, only the Creator is in a position to demand conditions of Divine Covenant. However - as evidenced in the First and Second Covenants of Scripture, we have becaome aware of God's merciful treatment of his children who break their side of the bargain. God's Self - in Christ - makes up for the breach. Christ is risen, Alleluia! And thanks be to God for this great Truth.

Glen Young said...


Hi Ron,

Am I to take it from your blog, that because our family said,"here's the land to build a Church on, for the purpose of teaching the Doctrine as defined in the Constitution; it really did not gift anything to the Church.

If you read what I wrote,you would have seen that I was doubting whether the ACANZP leadership appreciated the gifts, not God,{as I know He does}. It was given at a time when the Church was conservative and it is because, it has not remained true to that Doctrine;I am no longer there.I remain true to what the Anglican Church STOOD FOR; but I step aside from what it STANDS FOR.

Anonymous said...

Alithos anesti, Father Ron!

BW