Thursday, July 5, 2018

More on GAFCON 2018

Fulcrum has posted this week a balanced, comprehensive statement following, and responding to GAFCON 2018. It covers all my own appreciations, concerns and questions.

I am happy to post comments about this statement and/or about GAFCON 2018. I will not post comments which mention, even slightly, our local, unfolding situation in the Diocese of Christchurch.

86 comments:

Bryden Black said...

It is surely helpful Peter to see how Fulcrum views GAFCON. And most of their comments are suitably probing, wise and legitimate. For all that, some further probing questions/observations are still needed. Nor does one necessarily have to be a postmodern master of suspicion to ask/make them.

A number of years ago Richard Foster wrote a book premised upon the three religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience: Money, Sex, and Power. Viewed through such a lense, how does the present crisis of authority in the AC present itself? For example, how is the ACO financed? How are the Lambeth Conferences financed? Why, after TEC’s wee sanctioning, cited by Fulcrum (comment Q.4), was Lambeth 2018 deferred to 2020? (Not hard to do that math!). Money and power as well as sex come immediately to the fore!

Questions surrounding “authority” are important and Fulcrum raises them. Yet there is always an oddity when Anglicans get onto their high horses around this matter. After all, our own origins still prompt legitimacy questions. Nor does this just side with Rome versus Henry VIII. I mean; if I were pope and threatened with invasion by Charles of Spain and my papal states were in the direct firing line thanks to Catherine of Aragon’s close ties with Charles, I too would think twice about granting Henry an annulment. More power and sex matters there! And I am already on the record (synod 2017) re our own Report from the Working Group about M29, which raised vital matters of ecclesiology and authority, notably via the WG’s use of Kenneth Locke. “Flaky” is a kind summation! (That other thread)

I could continue. Yet all these comments merely lead me to one final observation. One of the more significant books I have encountered this year is Ephraim Radner’s Church, published through Cascade last year. His main point is twofold. Historic ecclesiology tends to be negative, pitted around contrasting oneself with some ‘other’. This then tends to lead to abstractions from the concrete realities of church history - for all of us. Instead, secondly, we might/should learn to view the Church, via the figural reading of Scripture, as Israel. Israel’s history then becomes a lense through which to engage concretely with church history, past, present and future: we are enabled to 'read' our own story, of blessing and curse, of failure and faithfulness, of suffering and glory, of repentance and redemption, as “brothers, Esau and Jacob”, precisely via the story of scriptural Israel itself, as we all go about our historical existence as the missionary body called to witness to Jesus the Messiah of Israel among and to the nations. Sure; there’s more, far more , to Radner’s thesis. But what it does is to radically refigure our present AC ‘dilemmas’. Not only does Foster’s insightful probing offer us a key, a threefold key, by means of which to gauge the actual dynamics of our present AC. Radner additionally cracks open many an attempt to get a handle on all our dilemmas - not least your own on previous threads Peter - and now Fulcrum’s. But perhaps all this is just too radical even for a church supposedly derived from the Reformation and therefore always due for further reformation in light of the judgement and mercy of the Living Word of Scripture ...?

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, having read Fulcrum extensive 'apologetic' for the outcvome of Gafcon 3,
Iam still not convinced that Gafcon's intention is to remain in the Anglican Communion. It's irrevocable (seemingly) stance against the possibility of Same-sex committed relationships of faithfully-bonded cougafcoin's own barrier to ples (akin to heterosexual marriage) being acceptable to God is still - to my mind - remains Gafcon's own barrier to full communion (koinonia) with those of us in the Anglican Communion as it now exists who have reason to believe that the Love of God accepts that same-sex attracted people have no other way of expressing their innate sexual longings for faithful human monogamous partnership.

For Gafcon to 'claim' full relationship within gthe structure of the Communion - while yet refusing to sitat gthe same table with other members of the Communion is a travesty of the Truth - a charism Gafcon claims to represent but which demands the reality of 'full Communion' with ALL - not just oine's own selected friends.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, and other readers. I apologise for the apparent incoherence of my first comment on this thread. Using a small keyboard has, for me anyway, its distinct disadvantages. Also, here, in this part of the North Queensland Coast of Australia, Internet connections are tricky and unreliable (I know, the poor workman always blames hius tools).

In order to amplify the tenor of my original post, may I say that I found Reform's response to GAFCON 3 to be eminently predictable, but also, quite misleading - in its insistence on GAFCON's intent to stay within the Lambeth-based Ameglican Communion.
GAFCON, many of us are convinced, is out to take over the leadership of Anglicanism wordlwide, but will not succeed because of its outdated philosophy of 'Sola Scriptura'

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I didn’t bother reading past this.

1. On what authority, and by what processes of discernment, does the substantial authority come, which the GAFCON Primates’ Council claims for itself, to define what is a Province of the Anglican Communion?

What authority does Gafcon need? What authority does your Church have at all? Does the Pope have any more authority than Gafcon ?

All a bit facile really.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden and Nick: re authority

I am with Bryden, in a search for the true meaning of church, keen on understanding continuity between Israel and the church (and must read Ephraim's book).

I am not really with your "facile" comment, Nick, for this reason: the specific point Fulcrum makes is about authority to define an "Anglican Province." I see Fulcrum making a point about logic/authority more than power/authority.

If GAFCON were saying, "We are leaving the AC, determining ourselves to be an alt-AC, and that means we reserve the right to define which churches are "Anglican provinces" (or even just "authentically Anglican")," then, fair enough, they have the power/authority to do that and, relative to the Pope/authority, have dear King Henry VIII - such a nice fellow! - to call upon for precedent. (And Bryden makes an Henrician observation ... above.)

But GAFCON is saying, "We are inside the AC, we are part of it, but, because we do not think much of its power/instruments of unity [ACC, Lambeth, ABC], we will determine, thank you very much, membership of the ... [body we do not think much of, do not respect its rules for defining membership]." I suggest Fulcrum is calling GAFCON out on the logic of its specific claim to authority to make certain decisions, not on its general powers to say what it likes, to do what it likes and to go where it wants.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Your latest comment has some ad hominem material in it which falls below the standard required here: comment on the comment and not on the commenter.
Also: ALL Christians are welcome to comment here, whether they are Anglican, former Anglican, post-Anglican, non-Anglican.

Here is my edited version:

"Dear Nick, []

Interestingly, though, your own Church seems to be having quite a shake-up in the area of 'authority', with Pope Francis wanted it to be shared with the local Church where it more truly belongs. With Anglicanism; although we do have our own 'Primus-inter-pares' in the ABC, he is not, nor ever has been, an infallible papal Ruler.

GAFCON is well within its rights to call itself an international Church - but it will not be the same as the Traditional Anglican Communion, nor will the rest of the Anglican Communion (non-Gafcon) ever consider itself to be subsumed under the Gafcon banner. This is one reason why Anglicanism can never be suborned, or subject to the Gafcon leadership - whether from Nigeria Uganda or its newest Province of ACNA.

In the end, each Anglican Province has its own local Constitution and Episcopate - existing as the local Anglican Church It has no legislative connection to Canterbury or Lambeth - except in its 'Bonds of Friendship' as fellow Churches of the Anglican Tradition based on its apostolic heritage in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. What the Gafcon Provinces CAN DO, and probably will do - by the way they are shaping up - is to form its own fellowship of 'Confessional' (FOCA) Churches, set around Gafcon's 'Jerusalem Statement of Faith' which has nothing to do with the most recent 'Lambeth Quadrilateral' - a bond made between consenting national Anglican Churches in recent history."

Anonymous said...

GAFCON theologian Professor Stephen Noll proffers this response to the Fulcrum piece:

http://contendinganglican.org/

Fulcrum is really the liberal or open evangelical mouthpiece of Lambeth and the Anglican Communion Office. It stands foursquare for the principles of loyalty to the Archbishop of Canterbury, English leadership of the Anglican Communion, and English episcopal lockstep. That no English diocesans attended (although there were plenty of clergy from the largest Anglican churches in England) is testimony to the centralized power of Welby and Sentamu. The bishops and deans being appointed now are precisely the ones that Welby wants. It's the boardroom politics he's familiar with from his oil company days. Unlike his predecessor, Welby has little interest in or aptitude for theology. But he does know how boardroom works and how to engineer results. How else to explain the appointments he has made?

William

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
Noll's response is a considered and serious engagement with the Fulcrum response - thank you for pointing us to it.

Your remarks about ++Welby are ad hominem and normally should not be published on that ground but I think a ground for publishing is that the actions of senior leaders are actions which potentially or actually symbolise a large course or tendency and such tendency should not be beyond public scrutiny.

That is, I am not keen that you continue to vilify the person, Justin Welby, but I accept that observable tendencies (a certain kind of person is made bishop and not another kind; there is less theological explanation for various actions and statements than one might expect) raise questions about the direction of travel of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In short: I won't publish another such comment unless you provide some links to articles offering either evidence for your claims or other articles in the public domain making similar claims.

Anonymous said...

Well, Peter, I appreciate that you did publish my piece on your blog, on which you have absolute rights of ownership, as well as the absolute right to express your opinions as you wish. That is clear.
But I dispute your assertion that I have made an 'ad hominem' attack on Welby or vilified him. 'argumentum ad hominem' is a fallacy in logic of attacking a person's character instead of his arguments. And I criticized neither Welby's character nor his argument here. What I said was:
"Unlike his predecessor, Welby has little interest in or aptitude for theology. But he does know how boardrooms work and how to engineer results. How else to explain the appointments he has made?"
The first sentence is manifestly true. Unlike Williams, Carey, Runcie and Coggins, who were all published theologians and seminary heads, Welby was an executive for a French oil company and the few things he has written have been about business ethics, not theology. Welby himself has agreed that he is theologically under-qualified compared to his predecessors. And my other sentences about boardrooms and appointments seem rather obvious too. Welby stands for managerialism and securing the appointments that he - or the party he represents - wants. And the instrument he is using is called "Safeguarding". How else does one explain the following facts on the English church scene which are not well known in New Zealand:
- the dreadful way that the memory of Bishop George Bell has been trashed on the basis of a decades-later allegation of molestation by one elderly woman, with Welby concurring in the condemnation of Bell;
- the sacking of Archbishop George Carey from being an honorary assistant bishop because of the way he dealt with disgraced Bishop Peter Ball;
- the appointment of the decidedly untheological former Chief Nurse Sarah Mullally as Bishop of London (the third ranking post in the C of E) to push "Safeguarding" in the C of E (and to garner support from the women clergy in the C of E);
- the appointment (at 63!) of Vivienne Faull to Bristol after the chaos in York Minster where she was Dean and had her fair share of disputes;
- the letter by Idowu-Fearon trying to discourage attendance of Gafcon;
- the exclusion of all conservative evangelicals from appointment as bishop or dean (as Dr Lee Gatiss of the Church Scoiety complained recently).
This is what I mean by 'managerialism', which is certainly in tune with the culture running through public life today. But there are severe limits to this, too. It's no good having lots of bespoke generals (even in spangly miters) if you don't have many infantrymen - or the money to pay them. That's the path the C of E is currently walking into.
There is a lot more I could add but church politics is boring even to those involved in it. If I have said anything 'ad hominem' or vilifying here, I would be glad for the correction.

William

William

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter;

Gafcon claims “we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage”. If the majority comment is true, then Gafcon can define what it wants. The rest of you don’t matter long term. Or have I misunderstood (and being a Papist I will have missed some nuance). The way I read the Gafcon letter, the C of E is a hopeless case in Gafcon’s majority opinion. Gafcon blesses the English Mission and leaves people with views similar to Fr Ron’s to like it or lump it.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
When you write things such as "That no English diocesans attended (although there were plenty of clergy from the largest Anglican churches in England) is testimony to the centralized power of Welby and Sentamu." then you are making an assertion without a foundation also being provided. So you initial comment (compared with your better evidenced-and-argued next comment) became a series of "ad hominems" against ++Welby. Statements such as "The bishops and deans being appointed now are precisely the ones that Welby wants." betray no understanding of how the CofE appointments' system works: the ABC does not have total control, though clearly has influence. So, again, an ad hominem. Touting experience from the oil company days and jumping right over that to years spent in English ministry positions, including Coventry and Liverpool, offer no sign of recognition that ++Welby might be a church leader who has learned to lead through a life in the church. Trying to compare Welby with Williams as theologians is like comparing Edison with Einstein and saying Edison is not much of a physicist. ++Welby is more than capable of saying things well and in a theologically responsible manner.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I think you have GAFCON well worked out except you miss the nuance that it wants to stay in the Communion but not observe its polity. Wasn't that the problem with the SSPX?

Anonymous said...

Peter, you have missed the point in the things I said and (to misquote 'The Princess Bride') 'you keep using that word "ad hominem". I do not think it means what you think it means."
- Nobody (bar nobody) becomes a bishop (or dean) in the C of E without the Archbishop of Canterbury's consent. Jeffrey John showed that. Sarah Mullally's appointment was blatantly political. What Gatiss says about appointments is true.
- Yes, I know he worked on cathedral staffs in Coventry and Liverpool and was briefly Bishop of Durham. Managerial posts. And his formative years was as an oil company executive.
- Edison was an inventor. not a physicist. He came up with useful things, after many errors.
- English diocesan bishops do act in lockstep. They call it 'collegiality'. Only retired people like Nazir-Ali or those outside the magic circle like Rod Thomas can act with some independence.
- And again: none of this is 'ad hominem'. The world doesn't quite operate the way Lambeth press releases depict it. Would it surprise you that archbishops in the past - or even local diocesans - had human frailties as well as (some of) the gifts of the Spirit?

William

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
Ad hominem is focusing on the individual and their faults at the expense of a more accurate focus on the system/group/structure. The CofE appointments' process is more than capable, with or without a lead from the ABC, of working out the merits of appointing a woman to London or of appointing bishops who will work collegially rather than divisively or simply disparately. (The same "system" incidentally, also seems to be ruling out "Red Deans" and theologically radical bishops such as Jenkins and John A.T. Robinson.)

Perhaps the Edison/Einstein analogy doesn't work. I will simply say that Welby is a better theologian than you are making him out to be, not least because he has a good understanding of ecclesiology. I suggest a sound ecclesiology is driving his leadership more than a bent for good managers/managerialism.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

I feel that you misunderstand the situation when you that it "wants to stay in the Communion but not observe its polity." GAFCON doesn't need to 'stay in'. GAFCON is rapidly becoming the communion.

Somehow, liberals--who pride themselves on being 'progressive'--don't seem to understand that the Anglican world is changing and the structure is 'progressive'. It seems very clear that a 'reordering' taking place. The centre of gravity is shifting. Again, it is humorous that liberals--who hate any sort of western/white centrality or colonial power bases--still clamber to defend the historic significance of the See of Canterbury and refuse to recognise that the sun is rapidly setting on that day.

I would suspect, Peter, that you would applaud and support democratic uprisings of the people in countries where there is a corrupt or inadequate regime, yet for some reason you fail to see--and if you do see you don't support--that this is what is happening within the Anglican Communion.

So GAFCON does not need to 'stay in.' Nor does it need to 'observe its polity' as if such a thing is immutable. GAFCON simply is what it is and, as Glen says, those who disagree might just have to come to grips with this.

Sam Anderson said...

Sorry, in my last post I referenced 'Glen' but I meant to say 'Nick.'

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
The Anglican world is changing and part of that change might be that the AC shrivels to nothing much and GAFCON is all in all.

Your comment above, however, does not actually respond to my question whether GAFCON wants to remain in the Communion or to leave it (albeit taking the majority with them). If it wants to stay and change the polity, then why does it not do so by outvoting the minority at ACC, Lambeth and the Primates?

The polity is not immutable but it won't change if people stop turning up to Lambeth etc.

As for the ABC: there are vestiges of colonialism in the Communion and we work to remove them. But the See of Canterbury is not colonial: it is historic, it is our "Anglican" Patriarchate, history matters and I won't support an Anglicanism which proposes to cut itself off from Canterbury.

Various Reformation churches abolished bishops and archbishops but the CofE was not one of those.

Simon said...

William-

I'm surprised that you stray into ACANZP blog territory with your complaints about (presumably) your home patch of the Communion, the Church of England.

Methinks you do protest too much.

The 'top' four of five senior bishops in the C of E are all conservative evangelicals - Canterbury, York, Durham and Winchester. And a handful of other diocesans, to boot.

None of them may be quite as 'conservative' on what some people consider the litmus test of sound doctrine - ie they ordain women. However, check their voting records and their affiliations, and they are all conservative evangelicals.

Granted, other evangelical diocesans, such as Liverpool, Bristol and Gloucester, may not pass your 'test' for various reasons.

But the other of the top five - the new bishop of London - is hardly a raving liberal, is she? She stands foursquare behind the 'London Plan' which sees London's own 'flying bishop' +Fulham ministering to parishes and ordaining candidates who will not accept women's priestly ministry. She has pledged to work with the five guiding principles and respect the integrity of those who cannot in conscience receive her ministry.

That's the senior leadership you currently have in the C of E, so why so much dismay?

Jean said...

William I have no idea of the internal politics of the COE, however, ++Welby spent 11 years working in oil and 20 years in the Church before taking up his current appointment. When Bishops etc are appointed in the COE +++Welby has one vote out of 14 in the choosing and the Prime Minister makes the final choice from two recommendations. It doesn’t appear on the factual level to assume he holds a position of personal bias.

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

You and I have a different understanding of the communion. For me, the communion is simply the voluntary relationship between the individual Anglican provinces. It relies on mutual recognition. It is democratic. So, again, you've missed the point about 'staying in' and about 'changing it'. GAFCON could do as you've suggested: attend Lambeth and change it by sheer numbers. But here's the point that you don't seem to appreciate: it doesn't need to. And, more importantly, why should it? GAFCON is changing the polity from without by ignoring the old structures and simply overshadowing them by becoming the new, larger, dominant structure.

The inexorable march onwards of GAFCON must be terribly frustrating to watch when one is on the outside: which is why Ron and others (and to point, yourself) are getting so upset by all this. Ron's indignant protestations, ignorant false assertions, and personal attacks are all a rather sad indication of someone desperately trying to win an argument that's already been lost by shouting louder and becoming nasty.

As for whether or not you support GAFCON, Peter, I don't think anyone here has expected you to be in any way supportive of GAFCON. Your allegiance is clearly to the institution first and foremost: you're a stayer, a 'down with the ship' kinda guy. It's a shame, really.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam
"Communion", as you surely know, theologically, is much more than "voluntary relationship." That is, the Anglican Communion, choosing the word "Communion" rather than (say) Association or Federation, is binding itself to a theology of church which is centred on the church as the body of Christ. (The eye cannot say to the kidney, "Look, it's been nice being in a voluntary relationship, but, frankly, I don't need you anymore, so good-bye.") Thus provinces in this union relationship are invited to understand and to continue to understand themselves to be in an eternally binding relationship, and not in a voluntary compact for as long as it suits.

"Communion" also speaks of the prospect of growth - others want to join the Communion, and of enlargement, e.g. one day we are in true communion with the Eastern Orthodox Communion or the Roman Catholic Communion or the Lutheran Communion. But "Communion" does not entail - theologically - a loss of members.

Obviously, sociologically, the AC is a voluntary association. Provinces can come and go. There is no judiciary to compel (say) Nigeria to continue to be a member province, or to corral the bishops of (say) Uganda to get on a plane to Lambeth 2020. Further, if enough provinces form a large enough alternative entity, GAFCON, then a new form of voluntary association (?) / communion (?) can develop (evolve from the AC?). Yes: all things are possible.

I still do not get from what you say how GAFCON can be all such things and say, with a straight face, that it seeks to stay in the AC and to renew it. From the communique's own words, "renew" only makes sense if the AC is shorn of member provinces perceived as recalcitrant. But that renewed AC would not be the AC, it would be GAFCON. Why doesn't GAFCON simply say, "for us the AC is dead, we are having nothing more to do with it, and we announce ourselves as the larger Communion of Anglicans on the planet"?

I am not sure why you talk about my "allegiance is clearly to the institution first and foremost ... It's a shame, really." That sounds like being a faithful Anglican, committed to the Anglican church, is a bad thing. But are you not also in the same league? You clearly have a greater allegiance to (the new institution) GAFCON than to the old one; and everything you write here implies you are a "stayer" with GAFCON!!

The difference between us is that I am not going to say that your staying qualities and deep allegiance to GAFCON is a "shame"!

Father Ron said...

Hi Sam. I suspect that your short time as an 'Anglican', in Aotearoa New Zealand, would not have equipped you to properly understand the wider implication of what being part of the Anglican Communion means. I, for instance, have been an Anglican in the Church of England, in which I was Baptized anbd Confirmed many decades ago. I have been an Anglican living in both Australia and in Fiji, and in other countries passing through on my travels. That has given me, I think, a much broader understanding of what it really means to be an Anglican (over a period of 89 years) - in communion with Canterbury and the Lambeth Bishops. ACANZP is truly 'Anglican'.

What Gafcon is contemplating - and may well bring about - is its own version of Anglicanism - but based on its conservative, separatist; "Jerusalem Statement of Faith" which is NOT an integrated document binding all the Anglican Communion Provinces around the world - unlike the Toronto Accord which still applies to the fellowship of participating Churches - from which Gafcon shooses to 'Walk Apart'.

Effectively, this is a new sort of fundamentalist reformation in Anglicanism, which will apply only to conservative, Sola Scriptura Provinces concerned for their own 'purity of doctrine', whithout which they cannot envision the power of Christ to Redeem and save.

What Gafcon does NOT obviously realise, is that "Jesus Christ came into the world to SAVE SINNERS" - not necessarily the pure and holy, who may believe that salvation is for the 'good' alone (like themselves) and Not for Sinners like me.

Believe me, Sam, the traditional Anglican Communion, gathered in fellowship around the historic See of Canterbury (though not ruled by it in any 'papal' way - and still committed to further exploration of possible Unity with Rome in ARCIC) - will survive the breakaway of GAFCON/FOCA, simply because it is anb established part of God's Church, against which the 'Gates of Hell' will NOT prevail.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, there probably are some similarities between SSPX and GAFCON in terms of not observing polity. On the other hand, SSPX is a minority and GAFCON is apparently a majority. Both groups seem to me to be faithful. I’d certainly happily go to SSPX mass. The GAFCON letter has a lot to recommend it if you are tired of Voldemort’s own topic. Sam has picked up my point on rules and majorities.

Nick

Anonymous said...

"... so why so much dismay?"

Why indeed, Jean?

That the dissidents have such a penchant for narcissistic wounding of those who do not agree with them is the most interesting thing about them. Even usually thoughtful Stephen Noll offers a surly reply to Fulcrum's irenic comment on GAFCON, and it is unnerving that even he ducks their sensible question about the authority of the GAFCON Primates Council etc. If even he cannot answer such an obvious question, then is the pretender to the imperial throne wearing no clothes either?

On the face of it, I should be among the most enthusiastic supporters of GAFCON. I disagree with the liberal provinces along broadly similar lines, agree that some of them have illiberally persecuted conservative Anglicans, and tend to give the young ACNA the benefit of the doubt.

But the attack mindset in GAFCON's happy warriors seems pathological and unscriptural.

BW

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Ron,

I wanted to address your penultimate paragraph separately as it is on a different topic. It really is wearisome to have to read this sentiment, or variations of it, repeatedly. "What Gafcon does NOT obviously realise, is that "Jesus Christ came into the world to SAVE SINNERS" - not necessarily the pure and holy, who may believe that salvation is for the 'good' alone (like themselves) and Not for Sinners like me."

You consistently paint evangelicals as a sort of puritanical finger pointing bunch of self-righteous hypocrites. As those who recognise sins in others, but not in ourselves. You seem to think that if one sinner should call attention to the sin in another, they thereby declare themselves to be righteous. I, for one, recognise the deep sin in my own life. I repent of it. And when I don't, I hope that others will call me to account so that I might do so. I am a sinner.

I also want to say that most conservatives, certainly all those whom I know and respect, do not enjoy holding to the truth that homosexual activity is a sin. It is not something we enjoy talking about. On many levels it would be much easier to be take the liberal position: easier for conversations within the world and the church. No good parent enjoys disciplining their children, but no good parent fails to bring discipline where required. Who wouldn't rather be the 'fun uncle' who always says 'yes' and never 'no'?

But we believe that the loving thing to do is to tell people the gospel: that God saves sinners from their sins! Alleluia!
But how can one repent of something if we no longer call it sin? When the gospel went to the gentiles in Acts the apostles said, 'So then, even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.' What leads to eternal life? Repentance.

And so, despite the social awkwardness, despite the increasing distain within society for those who say anything other than praise LGBT viewpoints, and despite the pressure to read scripture another more acceptable way, we hold to the faith for we believe that the gospel is life and health and freedom.

It would be really helpful if you stopped using this mis-characterisation of conservative, even if it does express how you feel about us.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sam
I initially published your comment (largely reproduced below) until I saw you mention in a negative way, a colleague of yours and mine in our church, by name. Do not do that. No matter what you feel about this situation and other people's involvement in it, naming people is not helpful - and wastes my moderating time!

SLIGHTLY EDITED COMMENT FROM SAM:

Hi Peter and Ron,

Thanks for your responses. Peter, I don't understand the word 'communion' in reference to the global Anglican Church in the deeply theological way that you do, and certainly not as an 'eternally binding relationship.' I find such a position to be baffling. I think it is, precisely, a 'voluntary compact.' That doesn't mean that it isn't important or rich or worth preserving, but our first loyalty must always be faithfulness to Christ. Christians are to obey their earthly masters in all things permissible, but not when they go against the word of God. The same applies, I think, in church relationships: If someone wanders from the truth we must warn them, and attempt to bring out brothers back, but at some point we must 'have nothing to do with them' (Titus 3:10). Paul writes this about a 'divisive man'. What would he say about those who deny the resurrection, want to call God 'she', or say that God blesses that which he calls sin?

Yes, Peter, increasingly GAFCON = AC. Not yet. Not fully. But in time.

Regarding your final paragraph: I am only committed to GAFCON to a point. Indeed, I am only committed to Anglicanism to a point: there is a lot to like about it, but I am committed to GAFCON and Anglicanism only to the point that they are faithful to the word of God. Should GAFCON take steps that are contrary to the word of God on signifiant matters and, despite warnings fail to turn back from their error, I would part ways with them also. The strength of my allegiance to GAFCON over against the ACANZP is directly proportional to the fidelity of each group to the word of God.

Peter, I believe that your ultimate loyalty is to the ACANZP, and perhaps the ABC. You show, consistently, that this is more important to you than biblical fidelity. I don't believe that 'the other side' comes to it's position from the bible: this specious argument is a recent liberal tactic. We keep hearing it over and over: 'we're all reading the same scriptures and coming to different conclusions.' That's nonsense, and I hope that you really believe it either. But you repeat this lie. And you will stay within an increasingly unfaithful church when you should leave and take up the charge to preach the gospel to the world that needs it. But you won't. And that is why I think it is 'a shame'.

Thanks for your comment, Ron. I have very little interest in what the Anglican Communion is or has been for the past 100 years or so. That the AC has given safe harbour to liberals and apostates is to our shame, not our pride. Just because the Anglican church has become something, does not mean that is what it is, or should be. Boringly, and consistently with above, the only reference point for what the Anglican church is, or should be, is the word of God. By such standard, the ACANZP is absolutely, emphatically, and patently not the 'truly Anglican'. A grotesque distortion of Anglicanism? Yes. And unfaithful version of Anglicanism? Absolutely. But 'truly'? No.

The thing Anglicans in New Zealand need fear is not that the gates of Hell will overcome from without, but from within. In some places, and in some people ([edited] as an obvious example) this grotesque distortion has reached the point where it is not part of Christ's Church and so Jesus promise that she would not be overcome no longer applies.

By way of contrast, the Jerusalem Declaration shows what contemporary, non-western Anglicanism holds dear: fidelity to the Word of God. To the extent that it does, it is 'truly Anglican' and will not be overcome.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sam
With respect to your comment at 7.28 pm above:
(1) Why do you continue to hold a licence in ACANZP?
(2) Is holding a licence in ACANZP inconsistent with your views of ACANZP? ("By such standard, the ACANZP is absolutely, emphatically, and patently not the 'truly Anglican'. A grotesque distortion of Anglicanism? Yes. And unfaithful version of Anglicanism? Absolutely.")
(3) Who tells you what the Word of God means? Is it an authority other than the authority of this church ("the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ")? On what basis do you judge yourself to be faithful to the Word of God while a licensed teacher in an unfaithful church?
(4) If "our first loyalty must always be faithfulness to Christ" then why do you run my loyalty to Christ down, a loyalty to Christ's own prayer that the church be one, in favour of your preference for separation and division?
(5) If I should leave, should that be before or after you? Are you looking for a lead here or have you already resigned your licence?
These are serious questions, Sam, because words are important and they should mean what they say.
Do you mean what you say about how terrible the church is that you are licensed by and under whose discipline you serve?

Father Ron said...

Dear Sam, from your comments here, you have shown yourself to be a perfect example of what most long-term Anglicans would call 'Sola Scriptura' believers. Now that may well suit you and your GAFCON-inspired friends but it is NOT typically Anglican - not even Anglican Evangelical. Now this may surprise you, Sam, but by now you will have gathered that most Anglicans in New Zealand are NOT aligned with Gafcon, and that is why our dear sisters and brothers who are part of the departing parishes seemingly cannot live with us. I, certainly would have been prepared to live with Sola Scriptura Christians, and to share the Eucharist with them but, obviously, this is their (and your) decision - to walk away.

Anglicanism (ask Mr Hooker) is based on the 3-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Sweet Reason. Any theological basis contrary to this - such as the Gafcon ethic - is not truly Anglican, as agreed by the Toronto Accord. The number of individual Anglicans in the Gafcon Provinces may, indeed, outnumber those of us in the other Provinces which, however, DO outnmber the actual provinces allied to Gafcon.

Incidentally, there are Evangelical Anglicans who ARE agreeable to the Blessing of Same-Gender legally married couples - people of a long and faithful history of deep Evangelical piety in our Church. Please do not discount these people - even here in Aotearoa/New Zealand who think differently from yourself. They, too, are part of ACANZP - and that - precisely - is why you cannot claim that you are typical iof ALL conservative Evangelicals. I suggest you click on 'Accepting Evangelicals' you may learn something contrary to what you yourself understand about them.

Agape. Fr. Ron

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
What is GAFCON's plan for (genuine/true) Anglican ministry in (say) Gore or Westport? Or Levin or Dannevirke? Does it have a missional strategy for Tikanga Maori? Plans to plant churches in Polynesia?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; there won’t be a plan for Westport because it’s in a diocese GAFCON would recognise as authentic. I don’t know enough about GAFCON to comment on the other places. I find GAFCON interesting because usurpation often is and I wonder what we might see in the RC. The difference in the RC is that our chosen remnant is a minority which prefers Trent to V2. It considers Anglicans and Greek Orthodox as heretics. Your remnant claims to be most Anglicans, but essentially with some remnant views (albeit not the same ones as RC trads).

Nick

Anonymous said...

"I also want to say that most conservatives, certainly all those whom I know and respect, do not enjoy holding to the truth that homosexual activity is a sin. It is not something we enjoy talking about."

I participated in a decade of Fulcrum debates on That Topic. With few exceptions, rigorists apologised for the difficulty that their position was causing others, including gay persons they knew and liked well.

Unsurprisingly then, they pleaded again and again for some sort of scriptural argument from the other side. One was fairly blunt that he would be relieved to have almost any scriptural pretext for changing his mind.

Sam is right about this. Full stop.

It is important to understand what was being sought. Obviously, a scriptural proof that gay sex was plainly approved by God would have been a debate-stopper. But back then, even scriptural support for some less conclusive propositions would have narrowed the gap.

Peter + and ++ Justin and sometimes +++ Francis seem open to a sort of "good disagreement" in which, to sanctify the Name with a holy unity, each tradition agrees to disagree with other credible others about what the revelation from God means. For example, Jean and I seem to have that sort of disagreement about holy communion; her position concerns the physical nature of matter, and mine the inaugurated eschatology of Presence, but neither one is without generations of deep devotion and able scriptural defense.

For their part, conservatives commenting at Fulcrum were not naive about the inevitability of some such disagreements in any enduring fellowship. However, the most thoughtful of them did draw a distinction between a tolerable coexistence with those who follow a different but plausible reading of scripture, and an intolerable one with those who seem not to be following holy writ at all.

Alas, because "a corporation hath no soul" (Lord Chancellor Cook), just so a *synod* meeting as a corporate governing body doth no exegesis or hermeneutics. The reports of TEC's Task Force on Marriage contain a biblical defense of its view of marriage, but these advisory documents do not speak for the General Convention. And analogous working parties of the ACC and the ACANZP have produced reports that are likewise more diplomatic or rationalizing than apostolic and authoritative.

Anonymous said...

So if someone asks, say, "What authoritative interpretation of the canonical scriptures warrants M29?," there is no reasonable reply that can be given.* Any of us may think of some more or less plausible exegesis of scripture that we think might support it, but none of us can accurately say that your ACANZP has adopted that reading, nor even that your General Synod was very likely applying it in passing M29. Against an admittedly bald reading of the Six Texts there stands a shapeless void. And in that void, synods now implicitly hold all the powers claimed by the medieval papacy. **

That authority gap really is intolerable whether one opposes SSB or pronounces SSBs. A body that does not even profess to know the will of God from the scriptures is not the Body.

The question is whether either staying with the well-organised void or leaving it for a sentimental movement does anything real to fill the gap. Indeed, although one cannot be sure of this, GAFCON seems to be so very synodical that it is in even more danger of that omnivorous authority gap than the churches it despises. What, for example, is the GAFCON position on the imprisonment of homosexuals? ***

* Contrast: when a pope denied the validity of Anglican orders, the ABC and ABY issued a Latin reply that authoritatively corrected the several historical errors that had led the pope astray, and no Anglican of note accused them of pretending to be popes themselves, but by the time of the Robinson matter the ABC was deferring to synods, even in a matter that the Primates had explicitly delegated to him, and only those now in GAFCON objected.

** The governing body of ACNA not so long ago voted to retain the Filioque, just as that of TEC votes triennially on whether baptism is required for admission to communion. Both bodies purport to belong to the apostolic Body. By what right then does either church make either decision?

*** Already, even as GAFCON disrupts the traditional Anglican ecclesiology of the Ten Easy Lessons, Stephen Noll is unable or unwilling to answer Fulcrum's basic questions about the ecclesiology for which they do it. Those who have been overlooking the wild pronunciamenti of GAFCON's primates because they have wiser heads beside them on the platform should pay close attention to this unexpected silence because it is material and perhaps critical to the question whether Covenant/Fulcrum or GAFCON is the wiser conservative response to TEC's SSM, ACANZP's M29 etc.

BW

Jean said...

Hi Nick

I am not so sure about your chosen remnant : ) of the practising Catholics I know well (Ie: personal friends or family) many take a broader approach than the ‘true’ Catholic teaching (e.g. see all Christians as saved and part of a wider family and one a woman even preaches at her local church at the request of the congregation and overseeing Priest). They are all faithful attendees of their Parishes.

Blessings

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Peter,

There is much I could say in response to your several questions. For now, in the interests of a Friday night spent with my wife, curry, and Netflix, I will be very brief.

You asked "Do you mean what you say about how terrible the church is that you are licensed by and under whose discipline you serve?"

Yes I do.

And yes, I do feel troubled about being in such a compromised church. I have not yet resigned my position, but that is certainly on the cards: my wardens, congregations, bishop and fellow clergy know this.

But I have resolved not to take any action until after our synod in August.

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Ron,

I'm sorry but I will also have to make this comment brief.

I'm well aware that most of NZ is not with GAFCON etc. More is the pity. It is nice that you would be prepared to live with Sola Scripture Christians and probably see it as intolerance that they cannot live with liberal revisions to doctrine and practise. I actually do appreciate that. As a paedo baptist I can accept that within a church you can legitiamitaly hold two different positions on baptism. My family in law are all baptists. They cannot live with these two positions. In that situation I am the generous liberal. And it feels good! But that is because I do not have the same convictions as they do, and unless I did, I would never really understand where they are coming from.

The example of Hooker, rehearsed endlessly by liberals, is a mischaracterising of his position: there was always a primary leg and that was the Scriptures, which governed and ruled the other two.

Finally, it's very easy to wear the evangelical label, even 'conservative evangelical.' But wearing the label does not make it so. It's inevitable that there will be some who some who call themselves as such, but do not appear (in my view) to be so. That may seem judgemental. I believe, however, that 'by their fruit you shall know them.' In my mind, those who support changes in doctrine such as those we are considering show by their actions not to be evangelical after all.

And yes, know that it's a case of 'no true Scotsman...' but I'm ok with that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean, I possibly was not clear. Most Catholics who go to church are Vatican 2 Catholics like me and your friends. We consider ourselves Christians and accept the baptisms of other Trinitarian traditions. We also have a small number of non-Vatican 2 parishes. They go to Latin mass and prefer the Council of Trent, which considers non-Romans as “on the way to finding us”. They are also Christians. My point is that the latter group is not unlike GAFCON. The major difference is that our Trads are a minority. We also have Catholics who are not in full communion with us eg SSPX. They do recognise the supremacy of Francis, but have some complicated but valid objections to V2.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sam
Thank you for your honesty and disclosure re your own position within the polity of ACANZP. I appreciate that and I support your continuing journey towards a conclusion which enables you personally to minister according to your own conscientious reading of Scripture.

John Sandeman said...

Bowman,
You ask "What is the Gafcon position on imprisonment of homosexuals.?" That is a question worth asking, and I asked it of the late Mike Ovey of Oak Hill College. He revealed that there had indeed beeen discussion of this issue within Gafcon https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/christian-oppose-jailing-homosexuality-response/

Father Ron said...

Dear Sam (in lighter vein) have you ever tried sitting on a stool with one leg longer that the other two? The resulting imbalance could imperil one's safety. And the sense of Hooker's lovely paradigm is lost. The true genius of true Anglicanism lies in its proper balance - especially when one realises that the wisdom of the Scriptures came through the human underrstanding (limited?) of the person interpreting the message. After all, the charism of reason is what sets humans apart from mother animals. we are each given the gift of reason through which to interpret personal relationships - with one another and with God - this is where the area of individual conscience lies. We casn never supplant anotherrt's gift of private coscience. This is why, obviously, you are currently feeling uncomfortable with your own situation.

May God grant you the peace and security you desire and deserve. Agape, Ron

Jean said...

Hi Nick

Thanks for the clarification I did get the wrong end of the stick but now understanding what you were implying with the similarities and differences between the ‘factions’ within our two Churches. I enjoy having your perspective when perusing Peter’s blog.

Blessings

Jean said...

I have to confess one thing that ‘scares’ me is TEC’s current undertaking of writing their prayer book in gender neutral language, e.g. no reference to God as He or Father. It comes too close to altering the Word for me; a kind of creating God in our own image. Notwithstanding I do view God as having male and female characteristics; yet there is something about God as Father even for those for whom earthy concepts of father have created difficulties in picturing God as such. It is this personhood of God that is a big differentiation between Christianity and Islam as per the book “I dared to call Him Father”

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
I am slightly cautious re pronouncing on TEC "news" as their recent GC has chopped and changed some things as it has gone along ... hard to keep up ... but I think it has agreed to a more subtle course of action than the one you refer to ... albeit it is going to have its liturgical cake (keep its 1979 book intact) and eat it (continue to foster additional/new services in (I assume) gender free language ...

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,
How can any of you present a consistent and cohesive argument about the One and Holy Church, which Christ established on earth.Since Rome put both Peter and Paul to death,why should it be able to claim superiority over the Eastern Church? Was not the Anglican Church part of the Roman Church?

Ron,the thing which sets humans apart from other animals is not "charris of reason" [what ever that is]; but the the fact that He created us in His 'likeness and image"; to dress His creation.It was when we [Adam and Eve] did not use their powers of reasoning to see through the Serpents deception,that we all became sinners. As a Sola Scripturalist,I am well and truly aware of how vulnerable my 'human reasoning' is to deception; and the most reliable truth to test it against, is God's revealed Word, with the help of the Holy Spirit. It is when we use our God given gift of reasoning
in our own power, to determine our relationship with other created things or even God Himself; that we venture into the 'original sin', that is "eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil".

Jean said...

Hi Peter, yes it does seem to be changing all the time, the current one I think is to immortalise (maybe the wrong word!) parts of the old prayer book and revise current one but in the context of church life as well as a task force due to report in 2021 with a taskforce. I am not usually that up to date with Church affairs just came across it when browsing Taonga! : )

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I am not sure what you mean when you talk about Rome putting Peter and Paul to death ... that was imperial Rome not ecclesial Rome.

One, holy, catholic and apostolic church is God's church, but some human claims are made that the Church of X or the Church of Y is the church-on-earth in which God's church best exists or subsists or even simply "is." Such claims are often shonky (says this Anglican!) but some claims are less shonky than others ... generally the Roman church and the Eastern Orthodox, also Oriental Orthodox churches have good claims to make ... the Fourth Split of the True Gospel Church of Cincinnati, Ohio less so!

At most an Anglican claim in England itself is that the Church of England is the continuing church in England from ancient times and this is a branch of the church of God. Quite what we Anglicans Down Under claim is less obvious, given that while we were here first, the Methodists and Roman Catholics were not long after, and none has ever been "the" church of NZ.

Anonymous said...

John Sandeman, thank you so much for your recollection of a conversation with Mike Ovey. I hope that the GAFCON conversations that he described to you are continuing.

Some on both sides have taken positions on SSM more as virtue signaling-- "Should not everyone admire my courageous vote for compassion?" "Not as much as they should admire as my courageous vote for adherence to scripture!"-- than with a plausible pastoral concern for the homosexuals who are directly affected by the votes they cast. On both sides, pastors will surpass narcissists by doing something concrete for the 3%.

Everyone should do something measurably effective to reduce the incidence of harrassment and suicide among young people with same sex attraction. Where SSM is legal, living that life seems to have pastoral challenges distinct from those of MWM, and one hopes that churches there will stay around after the wedding to help out with them. Where persons are incarcerated for homosexual acts, one hopes that these prisoners will be prayerfully visited and helped when they are released.

BW

Anonymous said...

Nick's comments imply a point that I've made more often in Fulcrum than here: there is no Christian tradition that does not have its dynamic and classical expressions. Liberal Anglicans reluctant to make robust provision for conservatives, and conservative Anglicans reluctant to remain in communion with those who are less so are both blind to the same reality.

Even where one pole has abandoned the other, it has developed its own opposition from within after a generation. In my country, there are confessional Reformed churches that all formed as conservative reactions against liberals in their mother churches, but today they all have their own left wings, and anybody would line them up from left to right in the same order. Likewise, among the radically pluralist and humanist Unitarian-Universalists there are crusty curmudgeons that are retrieving the Christian roots of the old Universalist Church. There are even a few U-U evangelicals!

As Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, so every morning in every place mothers give birth to more bawling liberals and screaming conservatives. The dialectic of these two temperaments is so perennial and universal a feature of human existence that it can only be the post-Fall distortion of something made by the eternal Father as an order of creation.

Thus reasonable people are sceptical of any proposal in art, politics, or religion that would perfect the world by eliminating either one of them. These proposals for a one-eyed humanity have the most appeal to those perfervid minds not yet mature enough to distinguish perceptions driven by their own temperaments from the state of the world itself. While there is no shame in being so blinded, it is their natural condition to be ruled by those who can see with both eyes. Some accept God's wisdom in this; others are cry-babies all their lives.

This psychological reality matters to Christians for a straightforward dogmatic reason: because the Son simply is the coinherence of all things, one cannot fully be Christ if one is agitating for the alienation of what he is reconciling. Conversely, one is regenerate in him if and only if the divisions that opened in humanity at the Fall are being healed in one's own heart.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Amen, Bowman!

Sam Anderson said...

"Even where one pole has abandoned the other, it has developed its own opposition from within after a generation. In my country, there are confessional Reformed churches that all formed as conservative reactions against liberals in their mother churches, but today they all have their own left wings, and anybody would line them up from left to right in the same order." B.W.

While this is almost certainly true, does it mean that these churches should not have removed the other? Perhaps each generation needs to fight for the truth, and perhaps it does so knowing full well that this will not be the end of the fight.

Perhaps the immature position is not the one you described above, but the very opposite. Perhaps maturity is weeding the garden in full knowledge that the weeds will return, and that it will have to be done again. Indeed, knowing that in pulling up current weeds you make room for the growth of other weeds that hitherto remained unseen.

Perhaps the immature position is actually the slippers-and-pipe comfort of taking the middle road: the one who, kicking out his feet and placing his hands sagely behind his head, claims to understand and appreciate the diversity of the rich tapestry of perspective, belief and practise; the position that prides itself on seeing all sides of the cube; the self-assured certainty (that often presents as smugness) that their cool-headedness gives them a certain maturity and that those who take sides are simply wild and headstrong.

Maybe the weak are actually the strong, and the strong the weak.

Peter Carrell said...

In particular, Sam, maturity is proposing that the Diocese of Nelson secedes from ACANZP to join GAFCON?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not publishing yr comment as it touches on the Chch situation. Also you may not be reading the question mark at the end of the sentence above. I am asking whether it is maturity when a proposal is made for a Dio to secede. In my view it is not.

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Peter,

Your comment at 4:47pm is disappointing in that it fails entirely to interact with my comment from 9:32am. It's purpose, rather, seems to be simply to show that you have read my motion.

Your comment at 8:46pm indicates that, in your view, seceding from a province is prima facie a mark of immaturity. This is insulting to many people around the world who have taken a difficult and costly stand with integrity and honesty before God. It also suggests that our very denomination is one born out of immaturity.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sam,
Your comment re maturity and immaturity was rather abstract and it seemed to me that its concrete application must be in the secession motion you are proposing to your Synod. I think that motion is both wrong and immature for the following reasons:
1. It is not to be compared with other churches in recent or 16th century contexts elsewhere in the Anglican world. In none of those contexts has the Anglican Church offered a way of remaining in the church and believing whatever one believes about SSB without fear of discipline. There is no need to for anyone to leave our church, let alone for a whole Diocese to secede.
2. It is not an act of bravery to boldly seek to secede. Rather it is an act of aggression against GLBT Anglicans. Seceding churches let alone dioceses are distancing themselves from GLBT Anglicans in a manner which will affect gospel conversation with GLBT NZers for decades to come.
3. The church in England left Rome to become the Church of England for a variety of reasons, which historians debate (maturity v immaturity?). For myself, there is no comparison between the birth of the 16th century CofE for political reasons, and for theological reasons concerning the gospel of grace v works, and 21st century departures for reason of ... people loving each other for life and asking for God's blessing on that love.
No, Sam, I do not see secession as mature in any way at all.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, having read your subsequent conversation vwith Sam on this thread, I now realise that Sam is contemplating the secession of the Diocese of Nelson - because he is actually a clergyperson of that diocese - not one of our own Diocese of Christchurch. If I had known that Sam was a Nelson clergyman, I would have commented differently.

I agree with you, Peter, that the historic parting of the English Church from Rome was both a political and a theological movement which has, sadly, provided excuses for further schismatic activity - for various other reasons - ever since.

However, the maturation of the Church in England from under the extant political and theological rule of Rome, enabled a more diverse understanding of God's intention for the place of the Church in society - not only in England but also in other countries - that brought about a possibility of a more diverse appreciation and eirenic openness to the grace and mercy of the Living God as exemplified in the life and teaching of Christ, himself. Some relics of the 'old regime' are still being revealed (originated by Good Pope John XXIII, at Vatican II) in the Roman Church under the beneficent reign of Pope Francis. (This, too, is still being resisted by conservatives in the R.C. Church, who see the present Pontiff as 'too liberal').

As you have written, Peter, the current spat about the Church's openness to the LGBT minority in ACANZP is hardly an excuse for yet another schismatic severance of the Church. If indeed it were, then why not part on issues like the use of artificial contraception (another breech of intentional procreation in marriage?); divorce and re-marriage (a breech of the Domincal teaching?) or women in ministry (a Sola Scriptura conservative construction of biblical patriarchal tradition?) - each of these 'departures' from previous tradition would have provided a better theological excuse for partition.

What is so repugnant about ordered and committed, faithful ame-sex relationships that should prompt such a drastic move away from the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus:
"That all may be one" ? Simple humility requires that we refrain from judging the moral probity of other people as less than our own (cf: The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector).

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

The Jesus who prayed that we might all be one in Him, was the same Jesus who said:"That he who made them in the beginning ......../" So ,if we are to place
importance on His words regarding UNITY, then surely the same applies to the latter.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Glen
Exactly.
And the more some of us are asking what Jesus would do and say in our day and age, the less convinced we are that gay and lesbian people are condemned by Jesus if they reach out in love to another person and form a lifelong partnership with them.
Let me ask you this question: when Jacob slept with his concubines, was he committing fornication or adultery? After all he was not married to his concubines so it must have been one or the other, mustn't it?
Or, is it conceivable that God does not condemn every act of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

When you say to Sam
“It is not an act of bravery to boldly seek to secede. Rather it is an act of aggression against GLBT Anglicans. Seceding churches let alone dioceses are distancing themselves from GLBT Anglicans in a manner which will affect gospel conversation with GLBT NZers for decades to come”
you seem to forget that some (and I am NOT referring to Sam) (1) consider that anyone who practises sexuality outside sacramental marriage is not a Christian at all - ie you are making no useful point because you are essentially defending fornicating heterosexuals as well and (2) are non-practising LGBT Christian Conservatives who might well agree with Sam that the line needs to be drawn. Lest I be seen to counsel schism (which I have no doubt is a special type of evil), I make it clear that I do not. Bowman has a talent in saying things better than I do and I agree with him.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter;

A point of clarification re my comment just submitted. It is the counselling of Anglican schism by a Catholic that I would consider evil. If Anglicans want to draw a line, that’s an internal matter for them.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I am trying to reflect the angst (if not worse) that GLBT Anglicans hereabouts are feeling as churches leave (so to speak) "because of us." That is an appalling burden to bear. I am also trying to reflect the general situation of churches, in this case, Anglican churches (whether ACANZP or "new" Anglican churches) seeking to engage with GLBT Kiwis in gospel conversations. ACANZP has the advantage of saying "we are in continuing conversation about what it means to come to Christ as a GLBT person, we have differences and disagreements within our church, but you are welcome and you do not necessarily need to break up your civil marriage if you choose to be part of us." "new" Anglican churches at some point - if not obvious already - would need to say to GLBT persons in gospel conversations, "We are different to other Anglican churches precisely because we have only one view on GLBT persons; we are defined by that view; that is the reason we have come into existence; so if you join us you will need to ..." (I don't want to specifically second guess what would be said to a civilly married couple, but I can imagine it would not be that inviting.)

I leave it to you - if you chose - to say anything about the RCC and gospel conversations with GLBT persons and/or what RCC teaching means for GLBT Catholics ... but you and I know that there is some lively reflection/debate going on within the RCC church about what it means to "welcome"/"evangelise" GLBT persons.

Anonymous said...

Unsurprisingly, Nick, T. S. Eliot said it even better than we do--

"But the Church cannot be, in any political sense, either conservative or liberal, or revolutionary. Conservatism is too often conservation of the wrong things: liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things." -- T.S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture.

BW

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

You write: “Seceding churches let alone dioceses are distancing themselves from GLBT Anglicans in a manner which will affect gospel conversation with GLBT NZers for decades to come.”

This is where we begin to talk past each other. While we use the same language, we mean different things. “Gospel conversion” for orthodox Anglicans means to ‘repent, believe and be baptised’. (Acts 2:38)

However, it is difficult to determine what “Gospel conversion” means for those including yourself who support SSB. Is repentance from sin still a prerequisite for ‘gospel conversion’, or will belief and baptism suffice?

If it is the latter, then this truly is another gospel.

However, if you still believe repentance is required, then can you explain why practicing homosexuals don’t have to repent of their sexual sin?

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Brendan
I agree, gospel conversion for orthodox Anglicans means to repent, believe and be baptised.
Repentance involves conviction that I am headed in the wrong direction and need to turn my life around. That applies to gay and straight people.
I think you are talking about repentance from specific sins. Again, for specific sins, repentance means conviction that I am doing the wrong thing and I need to stop doing that and live according to God's precepts.
Gay and straight people coming to Christ will be convicted of specific sins - it is a work of the Holy Spirit.
But sometimes what I think is a specific sin, and what you are convicted of are two different things. I happen to think smoking is a specific sin but I acknowledge that there are Christian smokers who do not repent of smoking. That is between them and the Holy Spirit. You won't catch me railing against smoking from the pulpit. You also won't find me leaving the church because some Christians in the church smoke (nor because no bishops publicly condemn that). You also won't find me saying what you say about me, about those who preach the gospel but don't include earnest entreaties to smokers to repent.

Anyway, my main point re conversation stopping is not to do with the above paragraph! My point is, I think there will be very, very few gospel conversations between GLBT Kiwis and Christians who belong to churches defined by their anti-SSB views. GLBT Kiwis sense hostility a long way off and won't bother you! (And you may not think anti-SSB views are hostile but it is not how you perceive it that will matter, but how GLBT Kiwis perceive it.)

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Peter,

I'm sorry that you misapplied my comment on maturity/immaturity to my motion to our synod. That was never in my mind as I wrote my post.

Some contributors here often speak in somewhat abstract examples/illustrations and I don't think mine is any more abstruse than any of them. But, as I said before, in leveraging my comment to bring up my motion you have failed to engage with it.

I think my point is well worth engaging with and so I will state it again: hopefully more clearly. When a person weeds the garden the immature/naive gardener might think that the weeds will not grow back: that they have done their work. A mature gardener, however, knows that the weeds will grow back. But that does not stop them weeding: they do so in full knowledge that this is not the end of their work. The concrete application of this is that those who bring discipline or separation within the church might conceivably be compared to the second gardener: they know that this is not the end of erring doctrine or praxis, but they still go ahead knowing that they will have to confront error again in the future.

In response to this, you have simply asserted that you do not see secession as mature at all, but have failed to elucidate reasons why this is so. Reasons 1 and 3 at 8:22 only show why the situation in ACANZP is, in your mind, different to secessions which you imply are legitimate (which undermines your final sentence). Your second reason has little bearing on the discussion at all as it boils down to: hurting/upsetting people is, ipso facto, an indication of immaturity.

I am glad for these discussions, Peter, for I believe your own position, hitherto rather veiled, is becoming quite clear.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Well, I agree with you. If those involved in sexual sins, be they gay or straight view a call to repentance as ‘hostile’ then we won’t be ‘bothered’ by many gay or straight kiwis in our churches. Maybe that’s why we are not bothered by many as it is.

Welcome to the sexual revolution.

However, there are many casualties beginning to wash up on the shores of our liberal beaches, including those for whom the sexual revolution has become a nightmare rather than a dream fulfilled, both gay and straight. For these people the good news of the gospel, including a call to repentance starts to make sense.

We will be there for them, God willing.

Father Ron said...

I wonder if Glen thinks that - along with his understanding of homosexual 'sin' he is equally disturbed by heterosexual 'sin' (contraception?). OR, does Glen not consider that to be a 'sin'?

Sam Anderson said...

Very well said, Brendan! Your brief comment is spot on on both points.

Anonymous said...

Bowman; thanks for picking up my unconscious bias. I deliberately went to the Starnbergersee in my 20s to feel The Wasteland. Are you also a fan of the Poet?

Nick

Sam Anderson said...

Dear Peter,

Your example at 3:49pm completely fails because there is no explicit teaching in Scripture that smoking is a sin.

Could you try again with another example of something that is consistently and explicitly prohibited in both testaments, and clearly runs against God's good design for creation?

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, yes Romans are talking about LBGT issues. You call them GLBT which is not standard and you might want to sort that. The difference with us is that we have a well-defined structure that even Francis (possibly our Trump) cannot overcome and certainly not in his late life’s Winter. We undoubtedly have a large number of priests who took orders so that they did not have to face who they were, but this is not encouraged. In fact, Benedict made it clear that men with unresolved sexuality issues were not to be ordained.

Nick

Anonymous said...

LGBT.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Nick,
Ah ... yes, LGBT it is.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sam
8.02 pm: what a fascinating approach to sin! Only that which is explicitly taught in both testaments against God's good creation. Does this mean smoking sneaks in as "righteous" (even though it is against the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit) but same-sex civil marriage (even though that is not explicitly discussed in Scripture) does not? Tell us more about your methodology!
5.14 pm: secession tends to lead to secession and thus is not a mature Christian approach (since maturity is always about the body and the body is one). The tragedy of the Reformation has been a splendid thing has become a many splintered thing. So my last sentence may or may not count against me! As for your illustration re the gardener, I am - honestly - not quite sure what you are saying: are you saying that the mature (weeding and ready to weed again) gardener is akin to the church leader who leads a congregation to leave knowing he might need to lead a separation from that new congregation when it turns out to harbour error? That is, is weeding an analogy for secession?
Going back to your post higher up, why would your approach be more mature than the approach which recognises the tension between conservative and liberal occurs within all churches and thus refuses to secede and favours living with the tension instead?
It may be brave to keep breaking away, but is it wise? Has the history of Protestantism taught us nothing? Do you learn anything from church history?
My approach - which might (in your sight) be the pipe and slippers approach - is certainly more centrist, arguably more reflective of Anglicanism's approach to difference through the centuries, but provides these days no smugness, let alone a pipe and slippers. The centre is beset from all sides!! You want me to leave ACANZP. Others in ACANZP want me to be less sympathetic to you/GAFCON ... what is a man to do? It is not time for slippers, let alone a pipe (which is, as you know, a specific sin against the body ...).

Anonymous said...

Aw, come off it, smoking is fine! For so long - beginning with James I - we have been denounced by intolerant fundamentalists for being what we are - smokers - as if smoking was a choice! Things were easier for us in the past until that radical new puritan health group arose, COFGON, and it's depressing that Peter Carrell has thrown in his lot with them. We tried to compromise, arguing that smoking should be allowed for consenting adults in private and making a case for SSB (same smoke breathing), but now we demand nothing less than Equal Morbidity! Are we incensed? You bet! And, yes, we have a great biblical methodology as well:
Your body is a temple of the Spirit, and in the Old Testament a cloud of smoke filled the temple....
Er, I'll get my smoking jacket.

Nick O'Teen

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Nick,
I have no objection to incense in God's Temple; only in my parish church.
Also, I need to walk back my commitment not to rail against smoking from the pulpit.
I realise that if I see people smoking while I preach I will say something :)
(That is the odd thing about the righteousness of smoking, isn't it: I have never seen a smoker light up inside church.)
James 1: what a man. He knew a thing or two about sinning ... and about politics, cunningly keeping the Puritans happy by approving their request for a new translation of the Bible. No, wait, there is an idea we could use right now ...!
Archbishop Benson and Hedges

Anonymous said...

"I believe all parties were wrong in many things last century."

-- Anglican evangelical Thomas Scott (1798) in Letters and Papers of Thomas Scott, 1824, p. 221.

Is Sam + really agreeing with ++ Katherine Jefforts-Schori!?

At 4:29 on 17th July, I pointed out that, whilst every unregenerate secular society on earth tends to liberal-conservative divisions that reflect openness/hostility to new experience (cf Costa & McCrae), *those who believe in Christ as described in Colossians 1* recognise and bracket the psychological cause of such divisions as they mature in the truth of verse 17, and consequently they also reject simple lib-con fractures of the Body as a matter of course. Since even reasonable unbelievers also reject the idea that art, politics or other culture should be exclusively avant-gardist or reactionary, this is not surprising. One does not have to be a Christian to see that those who prefer/avoid change have very filtered perceptions of the social world, but if one is "in Christ" in whom "all things hold together" then one regards a better integrated view of human situations as *necessarily* more connatural to the mind of Christ.

This is why our Lord said, not "blessed are the warmakers," but "blessed are the peacemakers" and why he enjoined his disciples to practise, not everlasting suspicion and gamesmanship of the unregenerate, but the non-violence and non-resistance of minds renewed by the cross. Likewise, the Johannine gospel and letters ring changes on three themes-- that allegiance to the Son unifies disciples, that the resulting *koinonia* differentiates the Body from merely worldly assemblies, and that those who leave the Body never knew the Son. Although St John places more weight on the last of these, the same three themes are easily found throughout the letters of St Paul. Concretely, the NT has not a few admonitions against mere contentiousness.

Anonymous said...

To see all of this as arbitrary rather than organic is to misunderstand it. The apostles were not prescribing a sort of etiquette that disciples should try to follow when they disagree; they were describing the true Body that they saw emerging when the Holy Spirit moved persons to acknowledge the identity of the Son. Their testimony is not advice: eg, become a Christian somehow, then work on being as agreeable as your fallen temperament allows. Rather it distinguishes true faith in the Son from its counterfeits: if you truly have an allegiance to the Son, then you too will see and feel the creation with the Creator's own love, this will transform your social relations as it has those of others, and you will then be incapable of the cranky fractiousness of unbelievers doing mere politics. Allegiance to the Son can make you charitable and pro-social, and just so it can make you a dissenter and martyr, but because of Who the Lord is, it can never make you a liberal or conservative wingnut.

That anyway is the sort of argument that many made to ++ Katherine Jefferts-Schori and her fellow partisans when they were busily weeding TEC's garden of clergy who were not suitably liberal. More recently, ++ Foley Beach made it when he recalled to the last Primates Meeting the many TEC clergy who were deposed from holy orders for disagreeing with the General Convention, and handed ++ Fred Hiltz a copy of the impressive Anglican Catechism edited by James Packer, who was all but hounded out of the ACC. I suspect that Sam's sympathies are with those weeded out of TEC and ACC-- as are mine-- but his recent comments seem plainly in favour of their gardeners' principles.

Anyway, it seems only mature in the Lord to ask-- why did one side of ACANZP insist on a new rite that a substantial part of the Body could not accept and for which it offered no theological rationale? And why does the other side even consider choosing schism over a plan allowing them to walk somewhat apart? So far, the rationales for these moves that we have all seen do not seem worthy of minds transformed by the worship of the Christ of Colossians 1:17. Do not even the pagans do at least as well?

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I am somewhat torn by your two most recent posts (which mirror a comment or two by you much above that in this thread).
On the one hand, far be it for me to ascribe any kind of perfectionism to our General Synod, generally or particularly about its recent decision re SSB: we are not above criticism.
On the other hand, I think there is greater maturity to our decision than your comments recognise. [And in making this claim I am not here and now saying anything about the (im)maturity or otherwise of those choosing schism; only about the GS decision.]
1. As a matter of fact, the GS did not approve a new rite, only the possibility of one, and then that is to be approved (if not written) by that rather traditional office of the church catholic, the bishop!
2. Precisely because of "the Body" and because of commitment to unity in the body of Christ, the decision of GS was a decision to maintain the unity of the body by not forcing a change of belief or practice; that is, a decision to include (formally, officially) what has been a reality of the body of Christ (indeed is a reality of the whole global body of Christ today): more than one view on the blessing of same-sex lifelong partnerships.
3. We can argue over what "substantial" means re that part of the Body could not accept etc, but in a democratic perspective it is a minority of the Body; and what is not accepted is not a "new rite" (if that means some kind of common rite to which all must adhere) but the permission for others to use a rite which is not common to all.
4. "for which it offered no theological rationale" is a partial truth. It partially describes our situation re the working group's task: not to do theological work but to come up with a practical solution. But that description does not describe the theological state of our church which is very much a state in which theological work has been done and in which theological views are held, but they are not united views held in common. In the particular case of support for SSB, the theological case includes consideration of love: God is love, where love is, there is God; God blesses people and wishes love to flourish among and between people; GOd blesses covenantal relationship - bonded relationship in which people will not let go of each other (Naomi/Ruth) and in which people love one another with deep, deep love (Jonathan/David). Conversely, the theological argument against SSB seems to recognise and value love between two people but the same argument proscribes sexual expression of that love unless between one man and one woman in permanent, faithful marriage. Both arguments are grounded in Scripture. Each argument sees considerable deficiency in the other argument.

Now, I need to leave it to you, Bowman and others, whether anything here seems "worthy of minds transformed by the worship of the Christ of Colossians 1:17" suffice for me to say that what GS decided is something which reflects the life of the Body as found in parishes, where people draw together to worship the Christ of Colossians 1:17 while holding opposite views on SSB.

Perhaps GS should not have decided to give expression to those opposite views via a mechanism for permission (not imposition); but I think what it has done is not quite as you describe it Bowman!

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter (1 of 2)

I have been reflecting on your comments to Bowman and the events within the Anglican church, and attempting to frame them within the context of what God is doing in our midst. Motion 29/7 allowing SSB was promoted and endorsed by our national synod. This resulted in resignations from Synod and other associated events are still unfolding. 58 Anglicans from NZ join more than 1900 other Anglicans around the world to attend the 10th Gafcon conference in Jerusalem, a group explicitly endorsing Biblical orthodoxy around human sexual expression.

Meanwhile ACANZP’s Archbishop Philip Richardson has just attended TEC’s General convention in Texas where about 10,000 Episcopalians have taken part. You will recall the Episcopal Church (TEC) has been suspended from the Anglican Communion because they implemented SSM, not that this seemed to bother our Arch Bishop. To be fair attendance does not necessarily equate to endorsement, but without clarification it can be reasonably assumed.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2016/january/episcopal-church-suspended-anglican-communion-gay-marriage.html

Not all Episcopal Bishops supported SSM, of those that remained following the fracture of the church, there were only 8 of 101 Bishops who refused to allow SSM in their dioceses. I note that Episcopal leaders at the convention have just over-ruled the eight Bishops saying gay couples will now be able to marry in their home parish, even if their Bishop objects.

https://religionnews.com/2018/07/13/episcopal-convention-approves-a-pastoral-solution-on-same-sex-marriage/

One assumes these Bishops had the same or similar protection and assurances for their conscience that any dissenting Bishop now has in New Zealand. Either way, they have just been thrown under the Episcopal bus.

Archbishop Philip was busy meeting with these very same leaders while he was over there. He says he finds these face-to-face meetings with other leaders invaluable: "Being able to sit down and have decent discussions with Primates from around the world about the situations they're facing, the priorities they see, the challenges they face, and just building those relationships is a huge plus.”

http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/the_communion/texas

There is a growing divide in the Anglican communion, with Gafcon on one side, and TEC on the other, with Lambeth in the middle (sort of). If there were any doubt, it is increasingly clear that our Primates and our province is more comfortable with a suspended ‘same sex marriage’ TEC than it is with an orthodox Gafcon. If you want a glimpse into the future for the province, then look no further than Arch Bishop Richardson as your guide.

Brendan McNeill said...

2/2

So, what are the saints to make of all this?

Hebrews 12 makes it clear that we cannot escape God’s discipline, if indeed we are true sons and daughters. Verse 10 tells us the reason for his discipline; “that we might share in his holiness.”

Anglican leadership has abandoned its responsibility to exercise Godly discipline within the church for many years, particularly with respect to same sex relationships. This has been a serious failure; all failures have consequences. Something that should have been addressed with pastoral compassion years ago has now taken root in the church and is making demands of its own. Demands that Bishops and Arch Deacons alike have chosen to accommodate for the preservation of Anglican unity.

However, it has become apparent that God is more concerned for his holiness than he is for the preservation of institutional Anglicanism. We are seeing this play out globally across the Anglican communion with the growth of Gafcon over the last decade. The division that is now taking place here in NZ and elsewhere is an expression of God’s discipline in the church. What Bishops failed to do, God is personally undertaking. This pruning and refining process has been initiated by the Spirit of God. It is painful and more so because it has been deferred for so long. However, as Hebrews reminds us, discipline “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

If I am wrong, and God views SSB/M simply as a matter of justice and equality then His blessing will rest upon those who are promoting SSB/M. Conversely, if this is an issue of sanctification and the holiness of God’s people, then the stakes are high indeed. I don’t believe there is middle ground to be had over this question. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”. Jesus is either for SSB/M or he is against it. We are gathering with him or we are scattering.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, In your interaction with Bowman and Brendan, you are being confronted with what I feel (in the gut, and heart, if not the brain), is a reflection on the wisdom of the much revered 'Thomas a Kempis' who, in his book 'The Imitation of Christ' ais something rather important (pp Today's 'New Daylight') 'Christ should be our first priority "if we desire true enlightenment and freedom from all blindness of heart". He also stated that a simple heart response to God was more important than understanding ABSTRUSE ACADEMIC THEOLOGY:

"Lofty word do not make a man just or holy; but a good life makes him dear to God"

The Comentator adds this "There is no one blueprint for this 'Imitation'.

In the current situation in our Church - we are not dicussing some abstruse academic point - there are real people's lives at stake - sometimes - in the case of LGBT youth - literally. The question here might be; Is our Church's attemp to deal in the most pastoral way possible with this small group of people whose sexual orientation - or gender identity - is different from the majority consonant with that of Jesus?. How would Jesus deal with them?

In his statement about the number of people from our Church who attended the recent GAFCON (58) Brendan is revealing the precise number of people who are determined to oppose the prospect of faithful same-sex partners to be blessed by the Church - with SSBs being 'allowed' (maybe like lepers at the leper's hole in mediaeval churches through which they were allowed to view the Divine Mysteries?) to join with fellow Christians at the Eucharist.

Brendan came to us from his role as an independent 'leader' of a house-Church which perhaps is not the most apt paradigm for the more openly accessible 'Body of Christ' in the Church. He brings with him his own particular theories on what constitutes the 'orthodox' in Christian behaviour - perhaps from the point of view of the 58 people who attended GAFCON. BUT, does that mean that he, and the Gafconites, are more 'orthodox' in their outlook than the many thousands of Kiwi Anglicans who stayed at home - many of them blissfully unaware of what was going on in Jerusalem?

What needs to be understood, too, in all of these conversations, is that there is not just one 'Sola Scriptura' view, either. Perhaps this is the reason Jesus taught through the medium of Parables; so that each person had to think through for themselves, and in their own situation and context, the root meaning of his message.
Jesus was crucified for his political and theological stance against hegemony - whether that be of social construction or of any claim to an insular biblical 'orthodoxy'. "They will know you're my disciples BY YOUR LOVE" (not your theology).

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Brendan,
It is always better to be in the tent talking that outside in the cold night air speculating on what is being said in the tent! And - as you observe - TEC is a rather large tent.

Indeed, God will judge us - TEC, ACANZP, GAFCON, CofE. It is important that we get things right: morally, legally, ethically, liturgically. There is a lot to live up to and none of us are worthy. Thank goodness God is "rich in mercy."

I do not agree with you above when you say that you wish ACANZP had sorted this situation out years ago. Do you really think that if, say, in 2000 we had stated: "this is the bottom, unchangeable line" that no new thoughts would have emerged when, say, civil union legislation was passed, and, if not then, when civil marriage [SSM] was passed? Do you really think that if such a hypothetical bottom line had been declared "once and for all" that no new pressure to reconsider would not have arisen subsequently as new, and more families discovered loved ones coming out as gay and bringing home their lifelong partner etc?

The church - I think I have said this more than a few times here - has faced many challenges re human sexuality, and it has, in grappling with emerging issues (or familiar issues becoming unmistakably more prevalent), made decisions and then changed its decisions - Anglicans most famously on contraception (between 1920 and 1930 Lambeth Conferences) and (at different points in 20th/21st centuries) on divorce and remarriage. (And, for clarity, I am not asking you to accept that SSB/M is an equivalent issue: I am only asking you to accept that Anglican churches [and others!] have a track record of making a decision and then reviewing it down the track.

Now, we may face the judgement of God (we may be under the judgement of God -declining numbers and all that): after all the "Catholic God" must necessarily take a very dim view of our responses to contraception and to divorce/remarriage, to say nothing of SSB/M. What if God is not Anglican!?!?!?!

But then, isn't life complex? That same Catholic God must take a very dim view of the majority of Catholic couples who disobey the church's teaching on contraception. I assume - from what you say - that they are all either under God's judgment or facing the awful prospect of judgment for such flagrant disobedience. (Along with, dare I say it, a substantial number of priests who are rather sotto voce [softly spoken] on such a matter, scarcely ever raising it from the pulpit.)

On the other hand, is it possible that God - the God of all churches - is richer in mercy than to hound us for all disobedience? Is it conceivable that God is richer in mercy than me ... and, may I say it?, than you?

Anonymous said...

Peter; I tend to agree with Brendan when he comments. What I no longer understand is (what seems to me) your move from defined concepts to the amorphous waffle Francis ( your theologically-educated inferior) uses. God bless Francis (and other people who mean good) but theology is Francis’s Achilles. What “mercy” are you talking about? Mercy for those who are in a state of grace or likely to go to hell? Francis doesn’t state the difference. We need to be clear, you cannot use Roman sinful disobedience to Humanae Vitae to justify your own Church’s disobedience elsewhere, if that is what you are suggesting.

Nick

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, and all who have commented on this thread; Peter's last paragraph here (@ 10.53) should remind us that ultimately, we are all in need of God's forgiveness for the imperfection of our own lives. Relationally, we are warned by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer, that we should only ask God to forgive us our sin - by the very same measure with which we are prepared to forgive other people their sins!!.

Now this is epic in terms of our understanding of our own indebtedness to God.

This makes sense of the Steward who was praised by his master for using unearned authority to forgive debt owed - not to him but to his master. Using spiritual capital belonging to his master. A gift of forgiveness of the sins of others, Jesus said, when exercised by us, will redound to our credit. That shows a God of Love and Compassion such as no other religious system can bear witness to. The clue to this, in the Scriptures, is that "Christ died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS"

It seems to me that the sin 'against the Holy Spirit' might be the sin of thinking that God will not forgive other sinners as well as he forgives us our own sins.

"Father, forgive us our sins AS WE FORGIVE those who sin against us!"

On the other hand, it was the 'unjust steward' whom Jesus was critical of. And we all know about his indebtedness (although he may not have been aware of it!)

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter [July 18th @11.10 PM.] and Ron [July 19th @ 5.49 PM.],

Apologies for the delay in responding to your questions,[as above]; and in answer, I say that the Old Testament is [a] God's Revelation to the Jewish People and [b] the record of both the positive and negative history of Israel's obedience /disobedience to that Revelation,and [c], an account of various figures, whose lives effected that history. Your question,Peter refers to Jacob; whose example can also be found in Abraham,David,Solomon.

Whenever, human connivance enters into our relationship with God's Revelation; disaster is not too far away, as with Abraham and Sarah. The results of their actions are still with us today in the "Middle East" and Islam. Nathan said to David:"Howbeit, because of this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born unto you shall surely die." 2 Sam.12/14. However, does God condemn
repentant sinners for their sin; Christ said to the woman taken in adultery:
"Neither do I condemn thee;go,and sin no more." John 8/11.

Ron, July 21 @ 11.34 PM; you write:"Father, forgive us our sins AS WE FORGIVE those who sin against us." It is sad that the ISSUE has been presented in a manner, which was certain to cause division and separation. The real question is; "Is sexual practices outside of one man and one woman,
consistent with God's Revelation; and if so, in what circumstances?"
I never wished to become embroiled in arguments of who is sinning against God. I can forgive people who sin against me; but I can not Forgive people who SIN AGAINST GOD.Was that not the accusation which the Jewish leaders made against Christ;[Who is this man who claims to be able to forgive sin against God?]? Likewise, I have no desire to start determining whether or not contraception is consistent with His Revelation; but it strikes me that abortion is not. If contraception prevents one pregnancy which leads to abortion; I know which way I would argue.




Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Glen
While appreciating your answer e.g. that connivance enters the picture; and also noting that some pragmatic considerations might also enter the discussion e.g. approve contraception in order to avoid the greater sin of abortion; I am not clear that you have ruled out the possibility that there might be sexual relationships which God neither commends nor condemns!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Nick
Fair, critical comment (and, of course!, appreciation for comparison with Francis :).)
Let me try to be more precise (while building on what I said above re the Catholic/Anglican God etc):
- church rules and teaching may or may not reflect the exact (precise, exacting) will of God on matters as fraught, fruitful and fragile as human sexual relationships, despite those setting the rules and doing the teaching believing earnestly that they are laying out the exact divine will;
- it is possible, therefore, that the mercy of God in all its richness is a mercy which is kinder than human-set out rules and teaching might ordinarily imply;
- it would be very risky, of course, for we humans to assume we know God's mercy will overcome God's exact will, so we ought, generally speaking, to pay attention to God's appointed rule-setters/teachers (bishops, priests, deacons, theological doctors, etc);
- nevertheless, God's richness in mercy includes God knowing our situations better than we know ourselves, and with infinite understanding of our contexts, in a manner which rules and teaching often cannot take account of: the prima facie witness for this being the gospels, in which we find Jesus displaying a mercy the scribes and the Pharisees have not been able to imagine;
- further, the very incarnation of Jesus Christ gives us confidence that Jesus knows the burden of being human, as well as having a wisdom greater than that of Solomon in respect of living in times of trial and in the face of temptations;
- thus I am confident that God will be merciful (even if God is precisely "Catholic" on the matter) re the use of artificial contraception, because the burden of human sexual desire allied with the pressure to offer reasonable well-being to well-spaced children is something not always well-suited to strict obedience to Humanae Vitae; and God understands that, and God is kind. (Besides, reading a recent NZ Catholic celebrating 50 yrs of HV, I couldn't help noticing that a learned priest advancing the cause of HV via the gains in technology enabling an app to give precise knowledge of fertility (and thus also of infertility) across a month, fell into the trap of finding a technological solution to a natural conundrum ... which is, er, kind of what artificial contraception does ... );
- thus I am also confident, and not because one wrong entails another wrong, that God's richness in mercy also understands gay and lesbian Christians who find they cannot sustain celibacy but can commit to one faithful, permanent sacrificial loving relationship with a fellow human. And, while I cannot find sufficient revelational base to assure that couple of God's blessing, I am not, frankly, confident that they are thereby consigned to hell (as, it appears, some colleagues of mine up and down our fair Anglican province, are doing);
- further, I am not prepared to be part of a church in which gay and lesbian couples [whatever their fellow Christians make of them] are invisible, but always "the other", "the ones who must change if they are to be accepted by us as full members of our church" and a somewhat picked on other at that; such a church does not strike me as reflective of a church which understands itself to be founded on the rich mercy of God, by a crucified Jesus who died that the barriers between Jews and "others" might be broken down (so today's reading from Ephesians).

I hope that is a little more precise!