Monday, April 16, 2018

Kiwi episcopal yearnings: an internal or external solution? A follow up to Saturday 7 April 2018

Something which I think was common to both our Wellington IDC meeting and to the Christchurch FCANZ Conference, both held on Saturday 7th April 2018 was a particular episcopal yearning.

That yearning is for a stronger association between episcopal oversight and (conservative) theological conviction.

At IDC that yearning, as voiced by some members, was focused on the proposal under Motion 29 for freedom to establish Christian Communities which would have an episcopal visitor who was not the local diocesan bishop.

A stronger episcopal role for that visiting/protecting bishop was requested. That request is fuelled by a sense that when General Synod commissioned the working group to come up with structural change it is has yielded up something which is (at best) a soft structural change. Nothing so hard a structural change as (say) a concrete plan to ordain a "flying bishop," form a new diocese, establish a fourth tikanga, or propose to the Communion that we create an extra-provincial diocese.

Thus something stronger that the Motion 29 proposal envisages for the visitor bishop role for the Christian Communities is sought, although the precise degree of greater strength was not articulated at IDC.

A challenge implicit in what I heard at IDC is that the more robust one seeks an episcopal visitor for a Christian Community to be, the more it looks, quacks and walks like alternative episcopal oversight.

Imagine an episcopal visitor who is free to confirm within parishes of his or her Christian Community: let's call that a few steps away from alternative episcopal oversight. Now imagine the same visitor is able to ordain members of the episcopal community, first, in consultation with the local diocesan bishop; then, secondly, imagine the same episcopal visitor able to ordain without consultation. At the latter point, surely we are within a millimetre or so from alternative episcopal oversight. (So long as the confirmed or ordained person, along with local licensed leaders such as vicars and lay preachers are in allegiance to the local diocesan bishop then we are not quite at full alternative episcopal oversight.)

Thus a question to work on, for this particular episcopal yearning, is what precisely is being yearned for.

BUT

My understanding is that at the FCANZ Conferences (Christchurch, 7 April; Auckland, 14 April) some talk there re the future and how it might work out remained consistent with the publicly expressed view of FCANZ, as recently as 3 April 2018, that alternative episcopal oversight remains its wish and the formation of an extra-provincial diocese remains desirable.

Further, it is not rocket science to assume that if alternative episcopal oversight is not worked out within the present governance of our church, FCANZ (which is linked to GAFCON) has other options, including seeking a bishop to be ordained for service in these islands, as recently Andy Lines was ordained for service in the British Isles.

As I hear colleagues talking, this wish is for a "hard" structure with a bishop clearly aligned to a specific theology. That is (in my words) they and their congregations want to feel assured that the bishop who has oversight of them (including ordinations, licensing/appointments, confirmations) is a bishop who is committed to and who will unambiguously teach a traditional Christian understanding of marriage. (That is, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage and is sinful outside of marriage.)

Also BUT

To date, the bishops of our church - as far as we understand - they do not normally publish their decisions! - are at best reluctant to work on providing a means of introducing alternative episcopal oversight and at worst (from FCANZ's perspective) refusing to entertain the possibility.

Thus ...

So, my sense of our situation on 16 April 2018 is this (and tell me in comments if I am wrong):
1. Our bishops are generally against alternative episcopal oversight and even more so against the formation of an extra-provincial diocese.
2. Some in our church are keen for a stronger form of visiting episcopal role via the Christian Community concept.
3.Others in our church are keen for a full alternative episcopal oversight, even for the formation of an extra-provincial diocese.
4. Those seeking (2) are likely not to seek episcopal support from outside of this church.
5. Those seeking (3) have options from outside of this church if this church does not respond to their request.
6. No one knows whether (5) might be put into effect. But it might be. And there are global Anglican precedents.
7. (Therefore) our bishops could reasonably consider whether they would prefer alternative episcopal oversight which they inaugurate or alternative episcopal oversight which they have no say in.

Thoughts?



71 comments:

Malcolm Falloon said...

Hi Peter,

If our General Synod used the twice-round provisions of the constitution instead of pushing ahead with a single vote (as I hear is the intention), then some assessment of the pastoral need could have been made. As it is, the house of bishops will be completely in the dark with their fingers crossed when they allow these changes to go through.

Malcolm

Father Ron Smith said...

I would have thought that the easiest (and most practical) solution would be for the Bishop of Nelson to visit the few parishes that seek safety from SSB Celebrations - thus maintaining the quasi-official provincial set-up. As co-members together with the sympathies of the Gafcon movement, they would be able to share their own theological preferences' holiness code and assumptions - without actually inhibiting the rest of us from our Inclusive Anglican mission, which is to reach out to ALL Sinners like ourselves in Christ's Name.

However; Christ IS Risen, Alleluia, and will prevail in the end.

James said...

1. There is a vacancy in the diocese of Christchurch.
2. The Christchurch diocese has a number of flourishing parishes, which are conservative.
3. The strength of the conservative parishes, and the size of their congregations, is not reflected in the power balance between them and liberal / progressive parishes within the diocese (I acknowledge I am simplifying the spectrum of beliefs here).
4. These parishes will leave rather than serve under a liberal bishop who (according to their theology) denies the validity of the Bible.
5. The Christchurch diocese will run out of money without these FCANZ parishes.
6. Therefore Christchurch liberals should bite the bullet and elect a conservative as bishop.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi James
Your steps are interesting!
I suggest step 5 overlooks the cash flow generated by sale of any properties left empty by changes to the life of our church (whether through departures to new structures or simply through demographic changes in the decades ahead).
Further, the diocese is generally more likely to reduce operations, e.g. Reduce number of staffing positions, before facing bankruptcy.
In short, step 5 is not as simple as you make it.
The greatest loss to the diocese would be the loss of people!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Interesting thought!

Steve McNabb said...

Would orthodox parishes be happy with the bishop of Nelson after his part in motion 29. Why does he support it?
The biggest impediment to another diocese is probably no one wanting to share st Johns trust funds.
Steve

James said...

In which case, are the liberals so Machiavellian so as to proceed with motion 29 (and the unsatisfactory protections offered to conservatives), elect a liberal bishop in Christchurch, and celebrate the departure of the FCANZ parishes? If the only loss is the people, and undesirable people at that (from the liberal perspective), then your steps and mine as outlined may be built on incorrect assumptions...

Peter Carrell said...

Dear James
I do not know Anglicans who talk about undesirable people in our church and suggest that is very unhelpful in this context. I also do not know of Machiavellians in our church.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
The biggest impediment to a new diocese being created is the theology of the church which is wary of creating dioceses to suit theology rather than geography or the mix, as in our church, of geography and culture.

Steve McNabb said...

So people are cautious of creating a diocese for a theology? And yet by passing motion 29 the church will create 7 theologically liberal diocese if the Orthodox leave. Makes sense?

Father Ron Smith said...

Steve, if the dissidents had any moral fibre, they would allow that the Bishop of Nelson has been there most senior advocate in this whole matter. Short of allying themselves with the Sydney Diocese - or soliciting support from the Gafcon Primates, and declaring themselves to be a separate entity from ACANZP - it would seem that the best outcome for them might be to accept episcope from +Nelson.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a medieval time, some bishops controlled *episcopal peculiars* in other dioceses and even other provinces. By definition, these places of worship had-- (1) a locally negotiated relationship to the diocese in which they were situated, (2) an ordinary in a see outside of that diocese. For example, the Archbishops of York and the Bishops of Durham each controlled *episcopal peculiars* in the city of London down to the early C19. Ecumenically, the best known example of such an arrangement is probably the Patriarch of Constantinople's ordinary jurisdiction on Mount Athos, which is geographically in another church, the Church of Greece.

In his comment above, Father Ron takes up an argument first advanced by the conservative evangelical Gerald Bray: of the various ways proposed for accommodating strong dissent, permitting *episcopal peculiars* like those of the middle ages is the most elegant, and just so does the least damage to the episcopal polity of Anglican churches. Years ago, Bray opposed the consecration of women to the episcopate, but regarded that change as inevitable in the Church of England, and thought that *episcopal peculiars* were the simplest accommodation that could be conceded to its dissenting parishes. Father Ron's reasoning, albeit from the left, seems strikingly similar.

The argument carries an implicit warning: at some point, piling innovation upon innovation in the governance of local churches entails that a bishop is more a presbyterian moderator than a true bishop. Some ceremonies and pastoral duties are reserved to bishops, of course, but their office cannot be reduced to these alone. To some evangelicals, such dilution is contrary to scripture; to all catholics, it undermines the order of the Nicene canons and the Apostolic Constitution; to alert ecumenists, it further compromises the weak unity of the global Body.

Even Lambeth Conferences require that archbishops and bishops have the full authority of their offices to participate and vote. For example, Canterbury does not recognise the presiding bishops of TEC's several provinces as the archbishops of those provinces because their role of hosting meetings of bishops to discuss problems is too weak to count. Facilitators and messengers make their contributions, but the Communion is united by the collective and authoritative discernment of governing bishops.

Can recognition of episcopal peculiars according to the medieval precedent conserve the unity of ACANZP? I do not know that, of course, but Father Ron suggests that it can. If that is so, then why adopt any more elaborate scheme that risks future controversy over the authority and validity of bishops in ACANZP?

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
We are a church of more than seven dioceses!
M29 is not being perceived by the majority to change much in respect of the already comprehensive theological character of our church.
That same majority needs to be on the side of those seeking the creation of a new diocese.
Such creation, focused, in actuality, on one and only one theological issue, would create a diocese on the basis of theology.
Your jibe about change to the dioceses through M29 does not alter the fact that M29 of itself creates no new dioceses. A better focus would be on persuasive arguments which lead the majority to consider the case for a theologically-based diocese.

jonathan said...

Re point 7, yes,I agree that our bishops could reasonably consider whether they would prefer alternative episcopal oversight which they inaugurate or alternative episcopal oversight which they have no say in. GS this year may yet have some surprises (reps might not vote along the lines of their dioceses; some modifications might come to light and be passed) but sooner or later I suspect our bishops need to answer this question if they haven't already done so - which they might have.

Liturgy said...

Not a rhetorical question:

Malcolm, where in the Constitution is your twice-round provisions for non-formulary, non-changing-the-constitution motions?
We, in our diocese, have had three different official versions of the process - so we can be forgiven for being confused.

The Christchurch Diocesan synod endorsed Motion 29, and not a single person proposed an amendment to our motion to make alterations to it. I do not know what Nelson's motion about it is? Or if its motion suggested alterations.

So those two votes are a sort of twice-round, aren't they - some assessment of the pastoral need and the house of bishops not completely in the dark with their fingers crossed when they allow these changes to go through.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

"Steve McNabb said...
So people are cautious of creating a diocese for a theology? And yet by passing motion 29 the church will create 7 theologically liberal diocese if the Orthodox leave. Makes sense?"

au contraire! By passing Motion 29, the majority of dioceses would be acting in pursuit of their intention to allow the extension of a commitment to offer ANCZP's acceptance of monogamously committed and married same-sex couples as part and parcel of the congregations of our Anglican Church in these islands of the South Pacific. We are not starting a new 'Liberal Church'. Whereas, if dissident parishes were to split off from ACANZP (part of the ACC) then they would become a 'One Issue Church'.

Steve McNabb said...

Hi Peter
I am aware of the fact that our church has more than 7 diocese and yet, in my view, it will be 7 that bear the brunt of the fall out from GS.
The majority within our church may think that M29 is just another difference. I disagree. I see it as nothing less that allowing two different gospels to be proclaimed as the true gospel.
One of the biggest flaws with M29 is that it fails to do what it was asked to do. It provides no structural protection for those that disagree with their Bishop.
I am not sure I want to mount a case for AEO because, at best it seems like a short term solution. If orthodox churches were offered oversight from the bishop of Nelson for instance then those who disagree in Nelson should rightly be given AEO as well. In reality this is two different churches and one day we will need to accept that.
As was made clear at our diocesan Synod and I think would be true over the whole country, M29 is just the beginning. In all churches that have allowed SSB, marriage has followed in due course. What will happen then?
I weep that we have come to this point. I pray that God may be gracious to the Anglican part of his church. But I know that there will be be pain and distress after GS, whatever is decided. People may be without jobs, people may walk away from the church or fall through the crack. May God have mercy on us even as he continues to build his church.
Thanks
Steve

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
We are certainly a church of two views if we are a church which views M29 as not establishing two gospels and a church which views M29 as establishing two gospels!

Malcolm Falloon said...

Dear Bosco,

My main point concerned the way in which there has been little opportunity for clergy or laity to have their voices heard in our synods. There has been opportunity for individual submissions, but not for synodial debate on the final report. In ChCh you may have had opportunity, but in Dunedin we have not.

So I was simply suggesting that the twice-round process, whether technically required or not, would be a good way of ensuring that we fully hear one another on these important issues. Surely you are not thinking that this is just business as usual for the General Synod?

My own view is that the motion does, in fact, alter the constitution and formularies. Firstly, by arguably diminishing the doctrine of marriage, and seconding by proposing to authorise services that may or may not be consistent with the formularies.

One the second point: I, for one, don't understand what the Working Group report means be a "non-formulary service of blessing". We have formularies of services that are approved as being consistent with the constitution, but now we have services that are explicitly exempt from that requirement, because they are declared to be "non-formulary". That is a fudge, in my view.

Then, on the first point, even the report itself admits that the General Synod needs to be aware that there is still debate as to whether the changes proposed are constitutional or not. Yet the report then only lists the arguments from one side of the debate. Should not General Synod, as a matter of balance, also be presented with the best arguments from the other side in order to fairly weigh its decision?

This lack of balance, to my mind, is one of the serious flaws in the final report and skews the debate towards one particular outcome. Consequently, even if some might think that it is not required, I consider that a twice-round process would be helpful in allowing these points to be fully debated and tested before being implemented.

Malcolm

Father Ron Smith said...

"The majority within our church may think that M29 is just another difference. I disagree. I see it as nothing less that allowing two different gospels to be proclaimed as the true gospel." - Steve McNabb -

Obviously, Steve, your own point of view (@2.53pm), but NOT the majority point of view which will, by our Constitution, continues to make ongoing decisions for the eirenic government and praxis of ACANZP.

The history of dissident quasi-Churches is at this very moment being played out on the playing-fields of ACNA which is currently feuding about W.O. The evidence is that schismatic severance is not the path to organisational (or spiritual) peace or unity.

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Father Ron Smith said...

Malcolm, regarding your view that the Church 'has not heard' -adequately - the arguments from the opposition to Motion 29 is simply NOT TRUE.

The presence of our foremost episcopal voice to SSB was actually part and parcel of the Working Group tasked by General Synod - the Bishop of Nelson! His very appointment declared to all Anglicans that the anti-SSB voice of one of our bishops with links to GAFCON was being heard IN the specially-appointed Working Group that brought the Motion into play for G.S. approval/rejection.

This is the one reason why I made the suggestion that your own advocate in GAFCON/FCANZ could be the very best hope for you to stay within the family of the official Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia - by his oversight of your separate interests as a minor player in ACANZP; whose constitution - whether you like it or not - is governed by General Synod - not any particular interest group, whether liberal or conservative.

Our Church's treatment on the issues of divorce & remarriage, and contraception - both having supporters and opposers in our Church, and both contentious in the ethical marriage arguments - should give you some ideas of how a working compromise could be worked out. Motion 29 seems to be the only way for opponents of Motion 29 to remain loyal Anglicans within ACANZP.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
A question: was your Dunedin Diocesan synod in 2017 held after the publication of the interim report, and was that report able to be debated there?

A comment (leading to a question): I quite agree that there is a "fudge" re the way a service of blessing is being handled as a non-formulary service. Is there anything other than a fudge possible if we are to (i) not have a formulary; (ii) not split as a church?

A further comment: it is - of course - in the power of GS to determine that any canonical change will not take effect until such and such a date, so it could be that GS in May acknowledges the suddenness of change given that we are not looking at twice-round legislation (save for the changes to the constitution). But, on the whole, given the consideration of these matters in various guises through GS 2014, GS 2016, I suspect GS 2018 is going to press on ...

Malcolm Falloon said...

Hi Peter,

"Is there anything other than a fudge possible...?" Yes. I simply don't accept the claim that we must take this step because there is no alternative. That is a power-play if I ever heard one. In my book, using a fudge is like dividing by zero to prove your theorem.

With regard to Dunedin: As I recall, we had a one-day synod the day after our bishop's consecration. The agenda was dominated by a debate about Selwyn College. We had previously met in separate Archdeaconries to consider the interim report and the individual responses expressed were recorded and returned to the diocesan office. The collated responses were then tabled at the synod but not debated. Instead, the synod simply voted to sent them off, as is. There was an attempt by some to have a committee appointed to at least edit them before sending them off for grammar, spelling, etc., but that motion was lost. What the working group made of them, only they could say.

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

THanks Malcolm for the update
Yes, that does not constitute a debate.

I don't see the fudge as a powerplay: in this context that would be pushing through a formulary change. I see the fudge (if we will accept it) as a giving up of power on both sides of the issue.

Malcolm Falloon said...

Yes Peter. I accept that power play was a little OTT. What I mean is that it does not make for good process.

Father Ron Smith said...

"What the working group made of them we cannot say" - Malcolm Falloon

Well, Malcolm, have you asked you premier conservative advocate on the W.G. - the Bishop of Nelson? He could probably provide your best answer to your concundrum. It would seem, however, from your arguments here that +Nelson's advocacy on your behalf on the General Synod's Working Group was not at all saisfactory - from your point of view, that is.

Liturgy said...

I must say, Malcolm, I’m struggling to follow the details of your position because you seem to be changing them even within this thread. I’m perfectly open to your changing your position, of course, but I’m not sure what you are seeking a response to now.

In some of what you write, you appear to be advocating now for positions I strongly argued for very publicly over many years with little support. I lost. That’s history. It would be churlish now for me to say, “I told you so.”

I continue to make no sense of your “use the twice-round provisions of the constitution”. You do not reply to my question, that I seriously asked you, where this provision is in the Constitution. All I know is the complex process to create/change a formulary or the Constitution. There is no formulary involved, and, as I indicated, I lost my recent campaign that the Constitution not be changed which enables Motion 29 (“I told you so”).

I cannot, concretely, see how you would “use the twice-round process” (“business as usual” or not) – could you write up what your motion to facilitate that would actually look like, and (since you are arguing against fudge) not use words like “the twice-round process”? Someone might then actually put this motion you suggest at GSTHW.

That you didn’t manage to debate the Report in your diocese is surely part of the democratic process of your own diocese, not even “the twice-round provisions of the constitution” can force you to do that.

I am not going to repeat here my own disappointments in and disagreements with the Report, but, Malcolm, you appear to misunderstand the heart of its approach. The principle is that a canon can limit the effect of a formulary. The blessings may be contrary to the formularies, but the Report recommends that we agree we will not discipline bishops who authorise such blessings nor clergy and couples who use them. We have been following this approach for decades now with remarrying divorcees where one can similarly say that they are “arguably diminishing the doctrine of marriage”. But, hey, that’s been for majority heterosexuals, so there has been none of the heat that homosexuality has stirred up in the last few decades. Looking for “business as usual”? You’ve just found it.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Malcolm Falloon said...

Hi Bosco,

The sins of one General Synod are not binding on its successors.

It is perfectly possible for this General Synod to pass a motion consistent with Part B, Clause 6 of the constitution. I would go further and argue that it must do so in order to remain a constitutional church. For General Synod can not use a form of words (even if it passes a canon to say so) to avoid the jurisdiction and application of this section of the constitution. Otherwise, why have a constitution at all if the General Synod is free to pick and choose when it applies or not?

Using the twice-round process of Clause 6 would ensure that "Te Runanganui o Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa, the Diocese of Polynesia and a majority of the Diocesan Synods in New Zealand shall have assented to the proposal so made known to them" [Clause 6b]

I do not hold out any hope that having an extra synod in the Dunedin diocese would make any impact on the decision of the majority of Diocesan Synods, though I am dismayed that I have not had the opportunity. But I would be interested in knowing whether the Diocese of Polynesia agrees with the blessing of same-sex unions.

Am I being too conspiratorial in suspecting that this is the real reason why the provisions of Clause 6 are being ignored?

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I leave to Bosco the finer legal points discussed above but I would like to comment on two matters, which may imply information has been slow to reach the Diocese of Dunedin.

(1) Both the Diocese of Polynesia and Te Pihopatanga have said they are comfortable with the direction this church is heading in re SSB, observing to Tikanga Pakeha that we need to sort our business out on the matter. That does not mean the Diocese of Polynesia will authorise SSB (and, indeed, across its several jurisdictions we know that it cannot do so, at risk of breaking the law). It does mean they will not exercise a veto.

(2) This is not a matter to talk about in terms of: "the sins of General Synod." The current matter has been before our whole church for many years and the whole church via several sessions of General Synod (and thus with multiple opportunities to elect different diocesan representatives) has engaged on this matter, slowly making its way towards a war forward that seems as good a compromise as anyone could think up. In short: General Synod is not "sinning" in the way it is going about things. Rather it is trying to give expression to the will of the whole church. Perhaps the whole church is sinning ...

Father Ron Smith said...

A Verse of Scripture, from the Head of the Church:
"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!"

Liturgy said...

Dear Malcolm

“Pass[ing] a motion consistent with Part B, Clause 6 of the constitution” is the process of producing or altering a formulary. Long ago, I and others, proposed that this be the way forward. It got no traction even with very widespread campaigning. Where were you then?

Instead, our Church used the process you laud to change the Constitution (concluding that process only last year) which facilitates the implementation of the Report. Again, I worked extensively against that change. Where were you then?

Peter has already replied to you that this has been worked on for many, many, many years.

If you now are arguing that a canon cannot limit the effect of a formulary, where were you when years ago I was having this same debate very publicly?

Those three stations were passed years ago, Malcolm, and the train is now in quite a different place. It is too late for you to now say I slept through those clearly-announced stops and want the train to go back.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Malcolm Falloon said...

Oh, I see Bosco.

It was a rhetorical question after all. And an opportunity for you to berate me in public. I do remember voting for you motion a number of years ago when I was a member of the Christchurch Synod. Does that count toward your approval?

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hello Everyone
Perhaps we could get back on course (of the original post): is it better to have alternative episcopal oversight within our church or organised from outside?
(Or, is it possible that no one is going to force that particular issue?)

Liturgy said...

Before getting back on track, Peter, can I just reply to Malcolm that my question was, in fact, genuine and not rhetorical. I was not lying. I do not have the Constitution memorised, and I thought Malcolm may have found a provision for a "twice-round non-formulary, non-changing-the-constitution motion". I was genuinely interested in the possibility and how one would frame a motion to effect that.
Easter Season Blessings
Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

In direct answer to your last question, Peter. Why would it not be possible to allow the parishes that - through their vestries, are open to the possibility - to go ahead and provide a G.S.- approved service of blessing of same-gender couples, in the same way in which parishes (and clergy) decide about the re-marriage of divorced person? After all, the parish is where the pastoral need is most obvious. The onus would then be on the local clergy and parish to make the decision. After all, bishops no longer have to give permission for clergy to marry divorced persons. Why should this issue be any differfent?

Liturgy said...

I think, Peter, that Fr Ron is pointing in the correct direction for a solution to your question.

It is the either/or nature of your question that needs addressing (challenging?).

If the bishop is not involved in authorising a service of blessing – why would there be a need for “Christian Communities” and the debate about what level of Clayton's Flying Bishops is required?

Altering our Constitution (this came into effect only last year) to allow a bishop to authorise a service was a mistake. It was unwise, confused, and confusing. As I predicted, the only rite bishops will be authorising is blessing of Committed Same-Sex Couples. For other rites, it seems, the bishops themselves disagree whether they can authorise a rite for which a formulary already exists [why, for example, there hasn’t been the same energy to examine the validity etc. of many of our ordinations using nonformulary rites – numerically far more significant –– I leave for others who chant “Formularies! Title D! Constitution!” in this years-long debate to explain].

Remove the bishop from the Report’s recommendations. Leave the blessing in the hands of individual clergy [the Report extends it beyond parishes and vestries – and I agree with that beyond Fr Ron’s suggestion].

We have in our decades-long marrying of divorcees a simple template for moving forward that builds on the Report and improves it. Title G Canon III 2.9-2.11 can be used as a model for a new canon (including, I underscore, full discretion to decline to conduct such a service). That canon has been arguably diminishing the doctrine of marriage for decades without controversy. It essentially is the agreement that we will not discipline clergy who marry a couple with a divorced person or couples who are so married.

Don’t get too worried about providing an exact word-for-word-gesture-for-gesture rite – Kiwi Anglicans will ignore it anyway (those who now chant “Formularies! Title D! Constitution!” are often amongst the most regular in ignoring formularies beyond this debate). CLLC, TPLWG, and your blog and mine can provide resources, suggestions, and admonitions.

In summary, Peter – your question needs to be broadened beyond the binary option. And the solution is to leave the bishop out of the process.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco and Ron and Malcolm

1. Am still making up my mind re whether it is both simpler and better to leave bishops out of the process M29 envisages. But I agree that if we left bishops out of the M29 process, the need for Christian Communities could be zero (or, I think I see an argument, touched on in 2 below, much more magnified).

2. So, while sympathetic to much of what Bosco and Ron are pressing for, I am conscious of what I hear colleagues and friends saying: that it concerns them that they will be part of a church that has agreed to a change they find extremely disagreeable. Accepting that one option is simply then to leave, the question is, If we are to remain, under what circumstances could we remain in a church which has made such a disagreeable decision?

Those circumstances - it appears, from comments here and there, from FCANZ's submission to the M29 Working Group, etc - involve assurance of episcopal oversight from a bishop who is not a proponent or practitioner of SSB. I do not see where that felt need is much lessened by removing bishops-authorising-rites from the proposal. Indeed, conversely, from an FCANZ perspective, the need is heightened where it becomes clear that the diocesan is him or herself performing SSBs.

Thus I think my "either/or" approach in the post remains a valid, useful and even urgent question to ask, at least prior to what GS actually decides ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I refer to your last comment containing this paragraph:

" 2. So, while sympathetic to much of what Bosco and Ron are pressing for, I am conscious of what I hear colleagues and friends saying: that it concerns them that they will be part of a church that has agreed to a change they find extremely disagreeable. Accepting that one option is simply then to leave, the question is, If we are to remain, under what circumstances could we remain in a church which has made such a disagreeable decision?"

It seems to me - and I think Bosco would agree, that the conservatives in the Church - who may not be able to conduct a service of remarriage after divorce - have been able for many years now to 'live with' a Church that allows such a procedure without deciding to depart in schism, or to look for what has been known as 'Alternative Episcopal Oversight'.

What is SO DIFFERENT about this further extension of Church hospitality and welcome that the conservatives need to make a special case for their ethical 'protection' from what, after all, is just one more diversion from the 'One Man; One Woman' ethos of the traditional marriage bond - a bond which is legally recognised by the world outside of the Church and with which many members of the Church are in agreement?

Do members of FCANZ find the remarriage of divorced persons in some way 'less disagreeable' that the Blessing of the faithful same-sex relationships of members of our Church congregations? After all, they don't have to actually take part in these ceremonies - on the same basis as the FACT that they do not have to be part of the remarriage of divorcees. Nor do they have to bless instrument of warfare if their consciences do not allow of this.

Malcolm Falloon said...

Hi Peter,

Firstly, we have to accurately diagnose what will cause people to leave.

To me, it seems a little strange to say that its just about bishops, when the hardest-pressed on these issues are low church evangelicals. While they do indeed have firm views about the nature of episcopacy, they (arguably) do not normally see their ministries as directly connected to bishops in the way that high church Anglicans do. There's no point formulating a high church solution for a low church problem. In fact, I wonder whether some are advocating for alternative episcopal arrangements as part of a long-term exit strategy. If they are, I am not convinced that that is a good strategy, or a good reason to stay.

I think the heart of the issue is the question of authority. In particular, whether General Synod is exceeding its authority in authorising a non-formulary service that a significant percentage of our church believe to be against the formularies.

Title G, Canon 14, the canon which is being amended by a proposed motion, requires that any changes "must not be inconsistent with the teachings of the Formularies" [clause 8.3]. For GS to pursue an amendment while that question is unresolved creates a crisis of authority that, I my view, no alteration in the declarations of adherence, or provision of alternative episcopal oversight can ameliorate.

This is where the parallels between divorce and same-sex blessings breaks down and why the why the church dealt with the former provides no comfort to low church evangelicals concerning the latter. The changes with regard to divorce occurred before I reached the age of theological consciousness, but older clergy have told me of how painful the whole debate was, and how they even mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to the changes. [as an aside, not a rhetorical question, I wonder whether GS used the twice-round process for those changes?]. Yet having resolved the legal question of authority, they have remained in the church, even despite the pain of serving a bishop who divorced and remarried while in office!

Malcolm

Anonymous said...

In proposing a congregational solution, the reverend and dear fathers Bosco and Ron are reasoning about temperamental conservatives (TCs) as though they were temperamental liberals (TLs). This will not prove productive.

(1) Bishops cannot be circumvented. There is an old proverb that liberals fall in love, but conservatives fall in line. Although happy to have inspiring figureheads, our TL friends are often most comfortable in a sort of genteel anarchy. The congregational solution thus fits their natural preference. However, TCs generally-- and some Anglican ones more than most-- believe that leaders should lead and followers should follow. It is only a reliable authority system that enables many TCs to stay in a church with a liberal milieu.

(2) Some objective *cordon sanitaire* is required. Having a strong sense of purity, TCs must be able to truthfully say to a fact-checking observer (eg God) that they have not condoned a sin-- especially That one (Romans 1:32)-- by word or association. Thus proposals that TCs have preferred have all included some sort of boundary that limits their responsibility by limiting their affiliation. To TLs, many of whom are puzzled by the thought that purity is a moral notion, this makes little sense. To TCs, it is simply indispensable.

Discussing That Topic, both sides point to the starry heaven above whilst discovering rather different moral laws within. Liberals eager for new experience see life as a whirling kaleidoscope; conservatives wary of the unfamiliar see life as a shadow on a sundial. Temperament drives much of the perception and reasoning in all of us. Yet because our temperaments differ in the sentiments they count as moral, little that either side says on That Topic sounds morally reasonable to the other. We see that especially clearly in ADU where commenters often reveal their biases in their choice and interpretation of scriptural texts. The sound and fury of That Topic arises from the cognitive difficulty we have in acknowledging this reality and in grappling with its unwelcome implication that God's truth lies far beyond any sense we have of our own righteousness.

It would be best if each side respected the other, each realising that the other one is not failing to be what it is and cannot be persuaded to think as it does. We are reconciled, not in debate, but at the foot of the cross.

BW

Andrei said...

If Anglicans decide things on a parish by parish basis without recourse to Bishops then they are really Presbytarians?

Liturgy said...

Please, Peter, also take this comment as thinking aloud (allowed?) [responding to April 19, 2018 at 9:15 AM]

I understood the FCANZ's submission to the M29 Working Group as based on the Report’s recommendation that bishops authorise Blessing Rites for use within their episcopal unit. And that it was responding to what it would be like in an episcopal unit in which the bishop authorised such a rite (I’ll call this Issue A).

If, as you suggest, the response is actually/primarily that “it concerns them that they will be part of a church that has agreed to a change they find extremely disagreeable” (let’s call this Issue B) then I don’t see how having (effectively) a Flying Bishop alters that concern significantly. They remain part of a church that has agreed to a change they find extremely disagreeable. And the Flying Bishop also belongs to this church. Ie. I don’t see how Issue B is solvable.

If (as I suggest) the bishop of one’s episcopal unit is no longer the linchpin around which Blessings turn, then I think Issue A is solvable. Ie. if clergy can decide to bless or not to bless without reference to their bishop (exactly as they do for marrying divorcees) then those who are opposed to Blessings can be served by a bishop who does not even need to declare his/her position on this formally – as is the requirement under the Report’s recommendations.

Remember that, a bishop serving a diverse episcopal unit, who does not have a strong or clear position on this, would (under my suggestion) not have to make this call, while under the Report’s recommendations, such a bishop would need to take a stand either way (or resign).

As to a bishop actually blessing a committed same-sex couple, and remembering that there aren’t going to be many of these actually seeking the church’s blessing (!), a bishop will have to weigh up (under my suggestion) the significance of blessing this couple and the bishop’s role and vocation to be a symbolic focus of unity, both in their local episcopal unit and for the wider church.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Liturgy said...

Yes, Malcolm (April 19, 2018 at 11:13 AM), it does confuse some of us (as I’ve already indicated) that (what you describe as “the hardest-pressed on these issues are low church evangelicals”) those who now chant “Formularies! Title D! Constitution!” are often amongst the most regular in ignoring formularies beyond this debate.

[If BW thinks that “conservatives fall in line” – then: either in NZ we aren’t talking about conservatives, or NZ conservatives are the exception to BW’s aphorism. Malcolm & BW will just have to arm-wrestle whether it’s about bishops or not – but, meanwhile, I think Peter is discussing the actual FCANZ document where they do express the issue as being about bishops – and I am trying to take that issue seriously].

Malcolm’s claim that “General Synod is exceeding its authority in authorising a non-formulary service” indicates he simply isn’t reading what is being proposed. There is NO proposal for GS to authorise a service. I’ve already explained, again in this thread, that a change to the Constitution of our Church meant that, since less than a year ago, a bishop can now authorise a service. That is a foundation of the approach of the Report.

When Malcolm argues that Title G, Canon 14 states that any changes "must not be inconsistent with the teachings of the Formularies" he is again missing the point which is: that is the very canon that is being amended!

“The parallels between divorce and same-sex blessings” only “breaks down” because the Report is NOT following that model (that I am advocating). In fact, the parallels are closer than Malcolm allows – since 1992 we have had (and used at every level of our Church) the Liturgy for recognising the end of a marriage.

Malcolm, please could you provide details of the mounting of the unsuccessful legal challenge to the changes allowing for marriage of divorcees (genuinely interested, please!) You are the first to have ever suggested this happened.

And, no – yet again – our Church’s teaching on marriage was not changed; there was no change to the formularies to allow for marrying divorcees. GS simply produced a canon so that the effect of our teaching about marriage being life-long was limited by the canon’s prevention of disciplining of clergy or couples that breach that teaching. That approach undergirds the change to the canon that the Report suggests. As I said, the parallels are closer than Malcolm allows.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I am focusing on bishops because in my own hearing I have heard some of our colleagues say that when the effect of M29 is to ask for a largely relational solution, they cannot trust the bishops (citing various reasons from the recent past re how some of the disputes over these matters have been dealt with). The thrust of the discussion has been - at least as I have understood it - it matters who the bishop is that we primarily relate to.

You still seem concerned about the exercise of the authority of GS on the matter of an authorised rite etc. Here is my take on what M29 means: in a situation of unyielding dispute, some way forward can be found, should be found, but may not be able to be found in strict accordance with our constitution, so - if we agree - here is the way forward which we the church authorise via General Synod: it is not perfect, it may not even be legal, but we agree, this is the way we are going to go.

And you are right that divorce/remarriage is not a complete precedent: on that matter we have come to agreement and we have not faced what it means to live in strong disagreement over it.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Thank you!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bosco
I think you are right: there is indeed an Issue A and an Issue B at work in conservatives minds. I do not know to what extent A, or B, or A and B have influenced the FCANZ submission.

I do know that I have been in conversations with conservative colleagues and friends in which both A and B are problems.

What I am not quite clear about, however, is the extent to which B might be solvable for participants in such conversations by (say) an extension of +Nelson's ministry; a flying bishop (from within our church); a flying bishop (from without our church).

I say "not quite clear" because I am not clear whether some kind of compromise might be accepted (at least in some minds) by (say) a flying bishop who belonged to our church but whose own commitment to doctrine and practice on the matter at hand was unimpeachable.

One definite solution to B is the FCA's proposed "extra-provincial diocese", but my question about that is when does an extra-provincial diocese become a separate province? I imagine it is at the point where such an diocese has no relationship with our General Synod.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Good point!

Malcolm Falloon said...

Dear Peter,

Yes, I am still fixated on General Synod following the rules laid down for it by the constitution. Thank you for your candour with your "take" on the motion 29. I would just ask who are the "we" in your hypothetical conversation, who can agree not to be found in "strict accordance" with the constitution? The constitution's very function should be to limit such an excerise in power and to protect minority voices. So forgive me if I continue to think this will be the move that will break the church.

And then, when I read the FCANZ submission [which, by the way, I had no input into] I find I am not alone with my concern about the constitution. The very first heading "Too far" goes at great length to articulate my concerns. In fact, I would argue that this is the main thrust of the FCA submission, for the second heading "Not far enough" begins, "Even for those who do feel that they can stay..." The conclusion I draw from the report is the bulk of the FCANZ membership is in the first group not the second.

This is confirmed for me in the final paragraphs when they state: "But, we repeat, if General Synod adopts recommendations allowing authorized services which contradict our existing doctrine and practice, many Anglicans will have been abandoned by their denomination and will have no alternative but to seek other ways of remaining authentically Anglican."

The FCANZ argues for an Extra Provincial Diocese as the only solution to remain together albeit under different structures. This makes sense to me, for the principle of subsidiarity (as spelt out in the Windsor report) would say that communion issues can only be solved at a communion level. Our General Synod, realising that they can't be solved at a provincial level, is attempting to send it down to the diocesan level (i.e. just vary the episcopal arrangements a little). That is a failed strategy. We need to reinvent the concept of province within the communion to allow this debate to be contained and the greatest level of unity to be maintained.

As for Bosco's strictures—I laughed out loud. Was that your intention, Bosco? [not a genuine question, so you don't have to answer] Yet, I do have to allow for the possibility that it is just stupidity on my part—it wouldn't be the first time. Perhaps I have misread p21 of the WG report. Incredible, but it is possible! Perhaps in the end, I'm just too stupid to remain part of this church! I could end up leaving, but it would all be my own fault—I just wasn't smart enough to understand what was going on!

Malcolm

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm and Bosco
I wonder if we can take a slightly different route in this conversation which does not leave any of us feeling that either (i) we have been "stupid" or (ii) we are being thought of as "stupid" in others' eyes.

I want to start a response by lifting a sentence, Malcolm, from your most recent comment above:

"The constitution's very function should be to limit such an exercise in power and to protect minority voices."

This is true in respect of the general purpose of the constitution: that (to take an extreme hypothetical case) if I am Athanasius and the rest of the church is being carried away on an Arian tangent towards heretical canons, formularies and what have you, I as One Faithful versus Many Errants, know that I have the constitution on my side.

But we are in a situation which is not about a creedal matter and which does not involve a change to a formulary and yet it is about how we might provide for
(a) a minority (gay and lesbian Anglicans who seek blessing of relationships) when
(b) we have a majority* who are keen for provision for the minority while
(c) also seeking to protect a group who do not agree the constitution provides for such blessings (arguably a sizeable minority rather than a tiny minority) as well as protecting a group (arguably a small-ish minority) who do think such blessings are compatible with the constitution.
Across (a), (b), (c) there seems to be agreement that we
(d) do not have the energy to change the constitution as the constitution, but we
(e) think we could agree to modify the effect of the constitution (so, pp. 20 and 21 of the M29 proposal) so that minorities in connection with (a), (b) and (c) are protected.
[*I suggest that 2 or 3 tikanga indicating they do not object to change; and (likely) seven NZ dioceses of the other tikanga agreeing to change constitutes a "majority."]

What is to be done? I suggest four possibilities (all of which, I stress, are intelligent responses to the proposal).

(1) Argue that the proposal is faulty (i.e. unconstitutional) and dangerous (i.e. precedent creating with who knows what consequences) and may even not halt the likelihood of significant departures.
(2) Argue that (despite acknowledgement of faultiness and potential for danger) what is proposed is the best we can do measured by (e.g.) protection for each relevant minority in this situation, while also - seemingly, prior to GS - expressing the will of the majority.
(3) Generously commit to the proposal on the grounds that while the constitution matters, and while each minority group in the church is equally important, now is a time to place the protection of one minority ahead of other minorities, where "generous" means "the other minorities will not leave the church because of this matter."
(4) Reluctantly but good naturedly suggest this is all too difficult (canonically, constitutionally, etc) and work on a careful, kindly structural dismemberment of the church.

I ask my fellow conservatives to consider whether we might find it in our hearts to go with suggestion (3).

Malcolm Falloon said...

Peter,

Your third suggestion uses the concept of generosity, which I suspect differs little from the usual cry for us to be more "loving". In which case it might just be another version of the "sit down and shut up" argument. That will not take us very far.

So, if you are wanting to build a case for your fellow conservatives to hold on to, you will need to explain more fully what generosity means in this context. What does generosity look like for office-holders when they pick up a pen to sign their declarations? What does it mean for their conscience to be generous in such circumstances?

In my experience, people are more likely to be thinking of integrity rather than generosity at that point. Maybe you can define a generous integrity, I don't know. But I do know that people usually set a high price on their conscience.

Malcolm

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

I have refrained from any comment on this post until I read your response at 11.53 AM. "I ask my fellow conservatives to consider whether we might find it in our hearts to go with suggestion (3)".

Malcolm is totally correct in that the Constitution 1857 is the FOUNDING DOCUMENT of the ACANZP. If we find it "in our hearts to go along with suggestion (3)";and "suggestion (3)" is simply, nothing more than a circumvention of the SPIRIT of the LEGAL FOUNDING DOCUMENT of the Church; and at variance with the DOCTRINE of ACANZP,as defined in the Fundamental Clauses of that Constitution (which can not be amended]; BY WHAT MORAL RIGHT DO WE ENTER INTO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND BREAK THE CIVIL LAW OF NZ? The Constitution 1857' legally defined the the relationship of the ACANZP to the Civil Law of NZ. What would happen if the NZ Govt. stated tomorrow that it did not recognise the Church and confiscated it's property. I bet my last dollar that the ACANZP would be claiming constitutional rights. If you want constitutional rights,then you must abide by that CONSTITUTION 1857.Did not Jesus say:"Render unto Caesar what is Caesars" and in this case it is obedience to the legal Constitution.

If G.S. goes ahead with either Motion 29 or 30,it is not a Church with "Two Integrates" but a Church with "no Integrity".

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I think we could think of generous here as:
- acknowledging that some church members want what we do not think they should have but giving them freedom to have what they want; a generosity of space;
- acknowledging that there might be something in arguments we are sure are wrong which we may have missed and allowing for those arguments to hold sway in some quarters of our church;
- trusting various members of our church, including our bishops, to act in good faith, in accordance with the framework set out by M29;
- continuing to receive the gift which M29 provides, which is that those who disagree with SSB and SSM are free to teach against them and for traditional marriage and sexual morality;
- applauding the forbearance of this church which has listened to conservatives through previous GSynods and sought to find a way forward which accommodates conservatives when a simple majority push through, in, say, 2016 would have led to a quite different outcome.

But, generally, I mean by generous, a generous disposition to those in the tiny minority who are homosexual and who would like their relationships blessed by those willing to do so.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I think we can be more generous than your comment provides for.
We can frame this as two integrities or we can work on this in one integrity of love.
Michael Jones' comments in the past 24 hours about the Israel Folau controversy spring to my mind.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

We have been asked to accept "same sex" marriage at a civil level. The Govt. has destroyed the meaning of Holy Matrimony at a civil level. You are now asking us to give up the Mission and Purpose of the One,Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,{as proclaimed by Christ,the Apostles and the Church Fathers]
so that what the legal Doctrine of the ACANZP defines as sin,can be blessed.
God does not "bless us" so that our hopes and and desires are furthered; but so we can we further His Kingdom.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I for one, am happy with your explanation of what the word 'generosity' might mean in the context of Motion 29, and the conflict involved. I guess this would have described the attitude of conservatives whose own families have been involved in the issue of divorce and remarriage. As with all such issues, one's sympathies can be affected by familial involvement. Homosexuality is just one more such issue.

In Jesus' own day, the Scribes and Pharisees were often criticised by him for their legalistic attitude toward those they saw as transgressing the law (constitutions?) without any regard to the pastoral difficulties of the conditions that might have provoked what they determined to be the transgression of a law based on local cultural suppositions (e.g. women only being liable for punishmnent of adultery - what about the men?).

Jesus recognised our common human weaknesses - taking care to prioritise only those which offended against both God and the good of the community. Self-righteousness and the judgement of others were often the object of Jesus' strongest condemnation: as witness in the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee - "Which one went away JUSTIFIED?" However, with the matter of human sexuality, little was known at that time of the biological aspects of same-sex relationships. If it had been, Jesus might have been more accepting of the true nature of such than today's legalistic conservatives. I'm sure the reason more Jewish Leaders did not join the early Christian community was because they found him too liberal on matter of their Law.
In fact, they had Jesus crucified.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I was reminded this morning, when sorting out the videos on faith issues available on the internet, of the amazing felicity of our former Christchurch Dean Linda Patterson's sermons. Linda's sad departure left a big hole in the Inclusive integrity of our diocese. Here is one such 5-minute reflection on our values today:

https://youtu.be/irCtTc-QnRU

Anonymous said...

Our Lord was not anti-Semitic.

BW

Anonymous said...

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y2otwm44m466az4/NyetoTEC.pdf?

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
Our Lord became incarnate in the world and engaged with the world as it was around him, not as he may have liked it to have been.
Accordingly I do not think our Lord, physically alive in the world today, would be approaching these matters via talk of constitution and canons.
We need to find a way, not only to accommodate a variety of views within the church but also to demonstrate the church as a community which does not automatically exclude gay and lesbian people.
Unfortunately your appeal to the constitution, legally impeccable as it no doubt is, fuels a notion that we are such an exclusive community.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Thank you for the Jordan Hylken link!

Anonymous said...

Or, Peter--

(5) Acknowledge that the dream of a community in Christ that includes sexual minorities *as such* is so new that the views of all sides-- and the divisions between them-- are likely only transitional to some future pattern of living.

BW

Anonymous said...

The characteristics of a legal corporation and of the Body of Christ are not necessarily the same.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Yes and yes.

Liturgy said...

'Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts” - Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Alternative facts need to be challenged on the internet, where false information spreads up to six times faster than the truth.

I am perfectly comfortable to be shown to be in error, but until that happens, I assert that the following information in this thread is false:

That there was a legal challenge to the canon allowing marriage of divorcees (asserted in this thread April 19, 2018 at 11:13 AM). NZ Anglicanism held to the lifelong nature of marriage (along with Anglicanism internationally, and within the Christian tradition of marriage and divorce). Its teaching (formularies) on this is unchanged. NZ Anglicanism simply passed a canon that limited the effect of that teaching/formularies so that anyone officiating at a marriage of a divorcee, or such a couple, is not disciplined for this breach of the church’s teaching. Asserting that there was a legal challenge to this change creates a new narrative of supposed consistency. This newly-minted narrative suggests that people fought as strongly about the “lifelong” dimension of our marriage teaching as they currently fight about the “man and woman” dimension, that they fought for practice in relationships always to follow our church’s teaching – whatever the pastoral complexities, and that they treated the majority (heterosexuals) according to the letter of the law in the same manner as they would now treat the minority (LGBTI+). I await evidence of this legal challenge, and until then – snopes.com style – declare the assertion that there was a legal challenge FALSE.

Secondly, there is, in this thread that “General Synod is … authorising a non-formulary service” (April 19, 2018 at 11:13 AM). There is no intention for GSTHW to authorise a non-formulary service. Again, quite the opposite. This is FALSE. Less than a year ago, the process concluded to alter the Constitution to allow bishops to authorise services. Everyone, knowing where it looked like it would lead, had a chance to participate in this discussion, and had a year to appeal when it passed with the required significant majorities in all houses and tikanga in 2016.

Talk of “conservatives” in this thread (and elsewhere, and now “temperamental conservatives”) is too loose. It is better and more honest to simply write about those who are in favour of blessing Committed Same-Sex Couples and those who are not. To indicate that those who are against blessing Committed Same-Sex Couples have integrity when they are signing their declarations (and that this is what is at stake), when many of them in their practice regularly and overtly breach those declarations, again appears to be attempting to develop a new narrative that does not correspond to the facts.

The reality (the facts) is that, in our church, there are different perspectives on marriage, on divorce, and on Committed Same-Sex Couples. The majority is in favour of allowing people to follow their conscience on these. Christians have been wrong about Jews. Christians have been wrong about slavery. Christians have been wrong about women. Christians have been wrong about banking. We have managed to change our practice on divorce for the majority (heterosexuals), applying a generosity against our own teaching. We need to seriously ask ourselves what is at work, when so much else requires our attention, that inordinate heat is generated by this particular discussion about applying generosity to the small minority who, in good conscience, seek a blessing on their commitment.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I suggest the remark re General Synod authorising a non-formulary service is true in this sense: General Synod has authorised that a non-formulary service may be authorised by due authority.

Father Ron Smith said...

"So forgive me if I continue toi think that believe that this will be the move (Motion 29?) that will break the Church" - Malcom Falloon -

May I be forgiven if I find this statement rather inflammatory? Espically in view of the fact that suppositions made by Mr. Falloon appear to be somewhat questionable.

This is the sort of statement that can precipitate schism. Entirely unhelpful.





Anonymous said...


Hi Peter,

I see the claim regarding, the remarriage of divorced heterosexuals as a "red herring"; which has no parallel to the question in hand.Christ himself,put the "EXCEPTION" in there. If the permittence is being abused,then it should be corrected;not used as justification for the present issue,which the Scriptures do give any "EXCEPT FOR" clause to.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I don't think Malcolm's remark is inflammatory.
His point is that, within a church in which members are asking is their church faithful to Scripture and tradition, respectful of various understandings of the gospel, there is always a potential point at which certain things cross a line into unfaithfulness; and, Motion 29 is likely to be that point for some at least.

If you have time to listen to Jay Behan's talk on the FCANZ site - link on a recent post here on ADU - you will find him talking about how some are likely to go though some of a roughly similar mindset may stay.

Thus I suggest Malcolm's comment is descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Please give at least your first name!
I argue that marriage and remarriage after divorce is not a "red herring" on the following grounds:
1. there is no discernible concerted effort by Protestants to revert to a purely gospel/Pauline set of (two) exceptions;
2. that lack of effort is a recognition that marriage and reasons for its breakdown are more complicated in many situations than the gospels and Paul allow for;
3. and, since within Protestantism, there is generally a willingness not only to acknowledge exceptions plural but also to offer remarriage after divorce, even when not strictly provided for by Scripture, remarriage after divorce constitutes an example of the church engaging in the messy realities of human sexuality failing to conform to God's ideal. Thus,
4. it is possible that the same church might also look at exceptions re same-sex relationships, especially, indeed only the "exception" where two people seek blessing for a lifelong committed monogamous relationship.

Now (4) is not required by (1-3) but I think it can be considered in relation to the way the church goes about (1-3). Thus, in my view, not a red herring ...

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, re your response to my comment, @ 9.30am; if Malcolm's remark that I quoted is the definitive reason for the possibility of a break-up in ACANZP then, like ACANA and AMIE; the result would simply give birth to just one more 'One-Issue Issue Church' - hardly calculated to enhance the ecumenical idea of the Body of Christ, which is inclusive, universal, and composed of Sinners as well as Saints. As I have often said: The Body of Christ is composed of only sinners showing other sinners where to find Bread - the Bread of Life.