Monday, September 24, 2018

A bit of a blogging break

Dear Readers
Various circumstances mean I need to take a break from blogging for a bit.
I hope it might only be a couple of weeks.
With your new spare time, you could always pray a bit more!
Another Gulf War brewing?
Trump wrecking the world economy?
Planet heating up?
Engaging a world in which truth is unbelievable because #fakenews generates intense hermeneutics of suspicion about truth claims: the authenticity of the gospel as true truth, more than ever, is in how gospel people live ... the Jesus of the gospel must be met in us who witness to him.
In Christ
Peter
PS Brexit is a metaphor of our Anglican times: ponder that :)

50 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, as our appointed 'Father-in-God', you are in my daily prayers; that God may equip you with all the gifts you will need for the task to which He is calling you - especially the gift of Wisdom.
(en Christo, Fr. Ron). I understand your need for 'time-out'.

Matt said...

I wish you rest and refreshment on your blogoliday.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter;

I know that 2018 is the year set aside for the competition of the 'Anglican Bishop who can make the most ridiculous statement'; but I Wonder if it really on for a local Bishop-Elect to try to upstage the Arch Bishop of Canterbury.

Bryden Black said...

Re your last comment: Did you see that delightful (??!) piece in UK press re those Anglicans/CoE folk who voted for Brexit?

Peter Carrell said...

No!

Bryden Black said...

Well then; it’s kinda significant if we wish to view Anglicanism via Brexit lenses.... For then who/what might represent Brussels etc?!!?

Peter Carrell said...

My pondering is whether Brexiters know what they do..

Bryden Black said...

You’d better ask that of those 2/3 Anglicans who voted Yes; we’re out of here!
As for the parallel: QED ...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bryden - 66% of self-described Anglicans who voted in the Brexit referendum voted to leave. Of the 120 or so bishops in the C of E (an all-time high when numbers are at an all-time low and a number of dioces are close to collapsing), only ONE is on record as supporting Leave for which he was roundly abused by his "brothers". The Anglican bishops are entirely out of step with the people they claim to "lead", but since few people pay any attention to them, it hardly matters. What this does show is that English bishops are a self-selecting and self-continuing bloc, which we knew already, and their opinions are only those of any echo chamber. When they talk about "focus of unity" and "collegiality" what they mean is following the party line. It has nothing to do with theology and everything to do with a mushy kind of politics.
But I cannot think of a time when the theological heft in the C of E has been so lightweight either, from Welby down. Welby's recent pronouncements on politics and economics have been deeply embarrassing and uninformed.

William

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden. Yoursuggestion of Brexit as a direct parallel for ACANZ's recent decision to recognise S/S relatonships is infelicitous - except for people who want to bypass what turns out to be a clear definition of "What the Spirit is saying to The Church".

Bryden Black said...

Brilliant! Thank you William for your comprehensive comment. I’d only add three brief things:
1. Our own GS is similarly but an echo chamber. The reverberations from the pews as our Motion 7 gets imposed upon them have seemingly “stunned” the Abps.
2. Our local lack of anything akin to “heft” simply means ACANZ&P will in due time become itself chaff before the wind.
3. Sadly, while RDW’s seeming “heft” was unable to anchor the AC, I guess in the end there’s “heft” and then there’s heft.
Pax tecum!

Jean said...

Of course all commenters here acknowledge at the beginning of ‘discussions of living with difference’ in the Anglican Communion it was the Bishops & Primates who supported a ‘wait’ and ‘stay with the status quo’ approach for now, navigated very diplomatically by Welby as he visited every region in the Anglican Communion? Such support was very promptly over-ruled by the collective lay community ... with lovely comments such as the Primates have no authority in and of themselves so they should zip it (my colloquial intepretation.

It’s not that I am over-inflating the importance of Bishops and Primates but rather that old warning not to always see the speck in someone else’s eye without noticing the log in ones own 😉....

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden
In what sense is GS en echo chamber?
My estimation is that it has quite fairly represented our church as a whole (it is a representative body after all).
Even in the Chch Dio where the severest response is being made, perhaps at most 15% are departing. One count of the GS vote was 85:15.
I don't think ACANZP as a whole will lose 15%.
I wish no one was leaving but that is not the way it is.
But GS is not an echo chamber and I am sorry that you have entered into that judgement when you did not attend the event.

Peter Carrell said...

Well said Jean!

Bryden Black said...


Well Peter; two things by way of reply:
1. I did not need to be anywhere near GS 2018 to conclude the vast majority (your figure says it all), even as they might plead “unity”, are but an echo of the schizophrenic mores of our contemporary society.
2. Perhaps your 15% is a convenient lapse of memory when our own local synod displayed a 40/60 split earlier this year. But then you also know something already of my disdain for contemporary ‘synodical authority’, given its notable penchant for further parroting.
In due time, I still fully expect the chaff to have become fully wind borne ... And I repeat that sentiment with more than a little sorrow (Lk 23:28-31).

Peter Carrell said...

For goodness sake, Bryden!
You referred to GS I responded to that remark.
Why I am then charged with a convenient lapse of memory re another Synod is beyond me.
I think some basic fairness is required in these discussions, not least from you when you keep claiming the moral high ground, constantly critiquing synods in quite deprecatory terms, despite these synods being composed of your own brothers and sisters in Christ.
None of whom are up to much: chaff we are, and you are the judge!

Bryden Black said...

The imposition of Motion 7 forces us all, individually and collectively, to judge - to evaluate, to sift - and be sifted ...

Perhaps, if indeed you were to “take time off blogging”, it might grant you some space to catch a glimpse of what has happened (and why), of what is happening, and what might very well happen.

We live in hope.

Meanwhile, Bowman did warn you: this Kelpie will woof - and even hoof. Sherlock!

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryden Black said (above)

"The imposition of Motion 7 forces us all, individually and collectively, to judge - to evaluate, to sift - and be sifted ..."

Whether you like it or not Bryden, our local Church, ACANZP is Synodically governed, which a situation far better than being governed by a 'minority, self-chosen elite' that presumes it always knows best - especially on matters of ethics that have gradually proven to be manifestly unjust in the past - slavery; subjugation of women - and now, the mistreatment of people whose gender/sexual identity is accepted as different from the binary.

The minority's views on such matters have to be overcome - in order to fulfil the qualities of 'Magnificat' to keep pace with a just and ordered society, the sort of society that Jesus proclaimed and for which he was put to death.

"Kicking against the goad" was an activity in the life of Saul before he was rescued from blind-sightedness by a vision of Jesus. Paul had to bend before the gentle rule of Jesus - lest he be broken. There are still 'stiff-necks' amongst us who need - like the Scriptures tell us - to be like 'rigid sinews, gently bent'.

I believe that our friend and colleague Archdeacon Peter Carrell has been called by God to lead our diocese at a time when mercy, love and forgiveness need to be proclaimed as the hallmarks of the Gospel of OLJC - in order that many more people may see these attributes of Jesus as Son of God and be redeemed by his grace and power.

Bryden Black said...

I wonder Ron whether you’ve come across that form of savouring the Scriptures called “figural reading”? In case it’s unfamiliar, just to say we’re seeing something of a revival nowadays, reimagining for our day what the Early Church took for granted in its own time. Two stand-out contemporaries, Richard Hays and Ephraim Radner, employ this schema to wonderful effect. The latter in particular applies it (as did the Patristic crowd) as a means of ‘reading’ church history via the lense of OT Israelite history.

Just so, your description of the “stiff-necked” “minority’s views on such matters [that] have to be overcome”, might be rendered rather differently via such a figural lense used by the Early Church fathers and now revived by the likes of Radner (notably in his recent book, Church). In the OT - and so in the Church through the ages - it is the majority who are depicted as “stiff-necked” (e.g. Deut), and “deaf, dumb and blind” (e.g. Second Isa), while the “minority” are called “the remnant”. These “godly poor” appear notably in the Psalms, and are centre stage in Luke’s opening chapters of his portrait of Jesus as the anawim: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, et al. And it is these folk in particular that first sing the canticles Luke assembles for us, and which then are filled out by the so-called Manifesto of Isa 61 in Luke 4:16ff.

And to make it plain Ron what I have done here. I have cited, via a most traditional form of ‘reading’ Scripture, a set of objective criteria that evaluates your own, merely existential feeling of present events—and finds it grossly wanting.

Bowman did warn folk like you earlier on another thread NOT to try and legitimate the likes of ambivalent, secular, ‘liberal’ narratives or forms of discourse via subjective projections like your own. It just cuts NO ice at all frankly.

As for our host: well, naturally Peter is in our family prayers most days. The NT strongly exhorts us all to pray for our leaders, governmental and ecclesial. Just so, I am after all a good Anglican reared on the BCP, where the central Prayer within the Holy Communion service is an absolute model. Tolle! Lege!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, I find it slightly amusing that I, in my remarks above, should be considered 'subjective' in my understanding of the Gospel criteria; while you claim to be uniquely gifted with 'insight'. With a few more years on the clock you, too, may be given a vision of what the Kingdom is about - not the protection of the 'perfect', but the rehabilitation of 'Sinners' - by Christ, not by intellectual process.
The Church - as we experienced its glory last night in our celebration of Michaelmas - is a community of the redeemed, flawed, but redeemed.
Deo Gratias!

Bryden Black said...

You end your last comment Ron with a reference to God’s grace. Curiously, mysteriously, God’s grace is a wonderful combination of truth and love, love and truth, loving truth and truthful love. Something we find not easy to quite manifest in an integrated form ... Yet to that end ... My response has two steps to it:

Step one: frankly a scratch of the head and then a shake - during the half-time break of the Pumas vs. ABs when I first read it. But now that the Kiwi gods have returned to their temple on Mt Olympus (for the time being; they face the Boks again next time, and at altitude) ...


... Step two: What you call “my insights” are not actually mine at all. They are the fruit of that venerable form of figural reading which is centuries old, and which is being revived again through the likes of Radner and Hays. Frankly, you yourself might actually both enjoy it and benefit from picking up a copy of Hays assessment of the how the Four Evangelists ‘read’ what we term their OT, as they attempted to come to grips with “those events that happened among them”. And the only reliable source by means of which anyone may evaluate these happenings is via their/our Scriptures. But how to ‘read’ them ...?! See e.g. Luke 10:26 - NOT as NRSV has it as “what”, but “HOW” do you read!

Unfortunately, I am unable to lend you my copy of Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016), as it’s on my phone electronically - a wonderful means of grabbing half-hour slots to read stuff amongst other activities: architect meetings around plumbing and wiring; Beef&Lamb NZ re M-Bovis; vestry; ...

Tolle! Lege!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, you have not taken in my basic premise that the Scriptures can sometimes be misleading - as Jesus himself exemplified inm his teaching, for instance: on slavery; treament of women;the Sabbath proprieties. Oh, and yes, the stoning of a prostitute. The work of the Holy Spirt - as Jesus indicated to those who were NEAREST to him - would LEAD people into the TRUTH - sbout SIN, what it is and what it is not.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bryden
Surely the greatest figural reading of the OT is our Lord's own reading, that God desires mercy not sacrifice.
It is not at all clear to me that what you are advancing via your own reading of Hays etc is not "sacrifice" more than it is mercy.
I find it difficult to understand a Jesus in Chch in 2018 who would cheerfully support separatism on account of the church finding a way to regularise love between two people. Yet - I hope I am not misunderstanding you - your figural approach seems to support separatism rather than faithfulness to the community of faith. Separatism seems to involve sacrificing a number of people and relationships. Mercy seeks to preserve them, I suggest.

I am minded by a theologian you know well who wrote this about righteousness:

"[Israel's] righteousness consists in her faithfulness to that community [i.e. Israel itself]; thus righteousness in Israel's Bible is the vigour of the entire network of communal relations within which participants divine and human live. Nor are these relations external; precisely as relations, they constitute the quality of persons. Scripture's many words for sin are mere contraries of "righteousness" and denote one or another betrayal of community."

Anonymous said...


Hi Peter,

Jesus demands obedience to the FATHER as HE, himself, was obedient to HIM. Righteousness only becomes sacrifice when it's done out of duty and not love.
Front up your Scriptural evidence that Christ's Mercy seeks to preserve relationships which His Word condemns.

Unknown said...

If the participative and incorporative koinonia that we find in Romans 5-8, 1-3 John, etc is the gospel, then what divine reality warrants any talk at all about winning majorities and losing minorities?

BW

Unknown said...

Peter, it seems more canonical to say that, from the golden calf to the crowds following Jesus in Jerusalem, the community succinctly described above is never ever identified with a majority of its members opposing a minority of them. Indeed. the quotation explains why this is inconceivable.

BW



Bryden Black said...

Lovely quote Peter; and nice to see you drawing attention to Jenson’s work on ADU one more time. My response has a twin approach, from within RWJ’s ST itself, and then exegetically.

1. As always, context avoids treating any text as a mere pretext. Your use of Jenson here is no different. Immediately before your quote there’s material re Israel’s eschatological hope. And because any such hope ultimately refers to the very “life of God” (p.71) himself, which, in Jenson’s scheme, employs that one, true Israelite who just is God, Jesus, simultaneously-in-one, we may know such hope is real via that one’s Resurrection. But his own Resurrection is but an anticipation of ours - which clearly is not yet. Which sadly, inexorably, leads into the material that immediately follows your quote - “God’s people are from first to last of Scripture given to [sin], that is, to rebellion against their own communal hope.” And the rest continues to spell it all out most clearly still ... And as for our own particular ‘dilemmas’, RWJ’s vol.2 will excite many a comment as you get to ch.19 and “Politics and Sex”, let alone ch.22’s “Sin”. For in the end Peter, all this material only exacerbates the sharpness of our conundrum imposed by M7’s promulgation by our community upon our community, both its individuals and as a whole. But that too is precisely Jenson’s point re the very nature of sin’s impossible oddity from the perspective of God’s Covenantal People.

2. Hosea is powerful - and not least yet again around our own present ‘dilemmas’; that is, if we take most seriously the entire prophetic text!! The immediate context is again Covenantal, Hos 4:1ff, with three key covenant words at the start including the climactic one at 6:6. And Jesus not surprisingly seems to be aware of that when the language of that very section from Hosea (4:1-6:6) echoes 1 Sam 15:22-23, since Matt 12:3ff echoes precisely part of the story of Saul vs. David! It seems Jesus knows “figural reading” avant le fait! That said, what is driving Matthew in both chs 9 & 12? Why does he invoke this Hosea maxim on the lips of Jesus here and there (Mark of course elides all the material into the second half of his ch.2 - but that also helps us greatly: Jesus is precisely the Bridegroom of Hosea!!!). If Torah allows for the “guiltless” work by even priests on Sabbath, then Jesus’ disciples too are guiltless: it’s all about ritual purity laws and their seeming boundary setting, both in ch.12 & ch.9. Jesus does NOT renounce the need for purity per se - the Sermon on the Mount will give the lie to that one! Rather, what constitutes BOTH the means to purity/holiness - namely Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, himself - AND thereafter, the maintenance of purity/holiness - which any and all Covenant People, Old and New are to exhibit. Matt’s entire Gospel is a manual for discipleship.

These twins, Peter, merely impress upon us that ACANZ&P is now being placed in an invidious position when M7 falls upon us. For something, anything may NOT be both simultaneously in our midst a covenant “blessing” and a covenant “curse”. That just means the God of the Covenant is plain confused. I rather suggest it is we, his stiff-necked people, who are deaf, dumb and blind, who are confused ... as per precisely the ‘reading’ of the church as OT Israel. For that too is RWJ’s own reading ....

Father Ron Smith said...

I loved the story in today's 'New Daylight' which commented on the story of Jesus substituting wine for water at the Cana Wedding. Jesus actually used the water provided for a purification rite (foot-washing) in order to exchange it for the purposes of celebration. Not only was this the best wine, it was superior to that provided by the host at the wedding. There is a parable there, which the commentator was not slow to pleased provide. (The Pharisees probably would not have approved!)

"He who has ears to hear; let them hear; what the Spirit is saying to the Church!"

Bryden Black said...

I’m surprised Ron that you’ve not discovered we may not believe everything we read in newspapers ...

Unknown said...

Where denominations are concretely defined by nation, class, ethnicity, race, etc, their synods will conserve those sorts of unity and not the koinonia proper to the Body. We see this in myriad details that reveal what they consider to be important and negligible.

This is a perennial challenge for pastors, who are set apart by God to apply the Word for the only true unity, the koinonia of the Body. A bishop of X is responsible for the often atomized and divided Christians of X, and only for their sakes for whatever synods of X may happen to be.

There are many other ways for the humanity of the Body to play in the Kingdom.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters of recent comments,
Thank you for your comments.
On the matter of synods, I continue to assert, argue back, that synods are more than what they are made out to be here: they are gatherings of God's people and the Spirit of God is in their midst. This does not guarantee infallibility (as the 39A point out) but it does make them occasions which contribute to the discernment of the body of Christ as it resolves matters arising from changing contexts. What other body of the Anglican Church is so positioned to respond to changing contexts?

It is changing contexts which I continue to argue are not being accounted for by (e.g.) Bryden. It is all very well continuing to dig deep into the contexts in which Jesus himself operated, but we are also called (both ... and ...) to work out discipleship in our context today. In that context I am asking what mercy/sacrifice means. I ask it recognising that when Jesus invoked Hosea he did so in order to protect and provide for the last, the least and the lost of his day. How dare he associate with sinners! How dare his disciples, not officials of any recognised kind, feed themselves! How dare a disabled person be given priority over purity laws!

Thus I ask whether schism over one part of our church, a part we mostly do not understand well, to which we are hostile, and for which we are unbending, is in accord with mercy or with sacrifice? So far, there is no answer given in recent comments.

I further ask whether we sufficiently and consistently are wrestling with changing contexts over our understanding of sexuality, of the desire for covenanted love, and the role the church may play in the regularising of relationships.

When we acknowledge that remarriage after divorce may be regularised by the church (whether via a Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic approach), we are siding with mercy over sacrifice. The latter, especially on Bryden's arguments re purity and discipleship, would involve us following the letter of Jesus and Paul's teaching in ways we now do not do. Rightly we find ways to regularise mercifully, and believe we are interpreting Scripture for the new context of today in accord with Jesus' general approach. In doing this we are acknowledging the drive for sexual fulfilment, the desire for covenanted love demand of the churches an approach to regularising remarriages which is realistic about human life rather than idealistic. We also, in Jensen's terms, cited by me above, understand that righteousness involves the community finding ways to be faithful to its common life in Christ rather than ways (via rules) which force betrayal and/or schism of the same community.

We are in a new context re homosexuality. We recognise that homosexuality is an unchosen orientation. We recognise that homosexuals have desires for covenanted love. In an increasing number of countries we recognise that none of these things should be a matter of criminalisation. In some countries such as NZ we recognise that there may even be a legalisation of marriage between two peopl of the same gender. We do not know what Jesus or Paul would have to say in this new context. They never faced it. They never answered a question about it.

It is too simple, as is done above, to say this new context involves curse rather than blessing. Christians, genuine Christians disagree on that. Mercy, I argue, rather than sacrifice, means we might (1) at least acknowledge the possibility that this new context is not cursed, (2) accordingly not split the church over it.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I believe that God has called you to be our next Bishop. In that context, I believe that you are his instrument for the 'gentling' of our Church on the matter of committed and faithful same-sex relationships, which Jesus, the Lord of The Church, did not comment upon directly during his too-short ministry on this earth.

The prophetic call: "What I desire is mercy not sacrifice" is indeed an enduring motif for the ministry and outreach of the Church - in our own day more than ever, at a time where venial self-interest and hypocrisy (cf the current fiefdom of Donald Trump) are at an all-time high. The poor are still with us, and among them, the 'poor in spirit' whose cries for justice reach out from around the world.

May God richly bless you in your ministry. You will certainly have my support in your efforts to 'open the eyes of the blind' so that they may see the glory of God amongst the least privileged of His children - in our diocese and beyond to the rest of our Communion.

Bryden Black said...

1. Ok Peter, I get it. You wish to subscribe to a “Situational Ethic” ala Jospeh Fletcher. So be it! And so please query the descriptor “Evangelical” of your dear self.
2. I would also point out there’s a world of difference between literary context and cultural/social context. Just so, your own Jenson (sic) quote ... I’ll came back to that.
3. It was Malcolm Falloon who reminded us - had to remind us - here on ADU of the vigorous, not to say bitter, debates during the 1970s over divorce-and-remarriage. By the 1990s all had become normalised, and we today have forgotten. Sound familiar?! Our contemporary forgetfulness is yet another mirror of Israel’s (eg Deut).
4. I’d hardly call the principle surrounding such a practice as divorce-and-remarriage as one of “mercy”. Jesus himself clearly called the pastoral accommodation a matter of “hardness of heart” - back to Matthew! I concluded some 40+ years ago, under the tutelage of my moral theology lecturer, re divorce-and-remarriage both that the church should permit it under certain circumstances and that we should properly acknowledge it to be a “tragedy” (in the classic Greek sense). And I still hold to that twin appraisal today - despite the present practice ...
5. ... which of course, once accommodated, has become rampant, in both society and church (despite my own conclusions). For sequential polygamy rules; ok! The upshot: not a few of us sense the time has come for the church at least to call Time; and so to revisit quite how we might practise such an accommodation more appropriately.
6. As for the Hosean/Matthean principle itself. Last time I raised the twin question of “what constitutes BOTH the means to purity/holiness - namely Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, himself - AND thereafter, the maintenance of purity/holiness - which any and all Covenant People, Old and New are to exhibit.” The answer in both cases, re the initial means and its ongoing maintenance, is one and the same: the death of Jesus - which ironically, paradoxically, is simultaneously both “mercy” and “sacrifice” in one. [I am well aware that this shifts the debates of Matt 9 & 12. Yet I point it out to ensure we underscore the real import of God’s Gospel in Jesus.]
7. For lastly, even as the ACANZ&P slides seemingly inexorably into greater “disobedience” after the likes of Israel of old (see again my own citing of the Jenson material in a wider context), hope may yet win out on the basis of Rom 11:32, that glorious climax of chs 1-11. THAT is the nature of true mercy!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Thanks for your encouragement.
However I must demur on one point: I do not see my mission as opening the eyes of the blind.
It is better, is it not, to think of ourselves as seeing through a glass darkly, all of us, is it not?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
We are all situational ethicists at some point, including evangelicals, because we all "situate" ourselves and make decisions accordingly. Cf. evangelicals and tithe and evangelicals who do not; evangelicals who countenance remarriage of divorcees and those who do not; evangelicals who drink and those who do not.

A critical issue is, indeed, to pick up a word/phrase you use, "pastoral accommodation" ... a more fruitful matter to discuss than making accusations of "situation ethics" and not being an evangelical! By all means, be consistent and walk remarriage of divorcees backwards to pre-1970s: I admire that, and you may be right, that the church will see itself doing that over the next decade or so.

But tell me this, notwithstanding the vigorous arguments you cite, why did the church not split in the 197os over divorce/remarriage? What held the church together then which is not holding it together now? Why is the church not splitting over divorce now? Surely the earlier and larger issue of pastoral accommodation should be a greater reason for schism than the much, much smaller reason of a few SSBs per annum?

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, your phrase: "Despite my own conclusion" typifies the subjective mindset that plagues the dogged opposition to matters of human thriving that have brought Gospel (The Evangel) freedom to marginalised people over the centuries of the Christian Church. Christ was the great emancipator of women, slaves and all who were victims of repression and injustice. Jesus' floutng of rigid application of existing shibboleths was what put him at odds with the authorities.

"Accepting Evangelicals" in the U.K. and other parts of the Anglican Communion have already abandoned their historical fundamentalism that allows hypocritical regimes like the Trump Administration in the US to thrive - on the basis of a morally corrupt yet outwardly 'conforming' bid for power and control, which ultimately disenfranchises the poor and marginalised, leading to a societal 'elect' dedicated to a false puritannical domination of the field of basic human flourishing.

By advocating 'Mercy' over 'Sacrifice', our Bishop-elect is carrying out the theme of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. Anything else is 'religion', but not spirituality.

Unknown said...

Peter, this is our usual friendly disagreement: the Body uses institutions, but because God cannot be controlled, she cannot be reduced to one. Too often, synods try anyway.

*Occasional* synods can be a useful governing tool, although our digital context does offer several new ones. And now that women can be ordained to all orders, (un)representative bodies that include them by election are no longer needed.

*Synod-driven* churches are too institutional to stay alive. Indeed, the data suggest that they won't. They are not so much wicked as moribund. My suspicion is that their ruling synods are too tied to thin ideologies of class, etc to adapt to changing and perspectival societies effectively.

From the fall of Rome on, bishops have governed the Body's decentralized and experimental adaptation to deep change. This has worked.

The papacy has not. Rome chronically fails to improve on the divinely appointed order, because centralized power does more to paralyze bishops than it does to empower courageous on the spot leadership. Eg-- the RCC's global scandal.

In a few provinces, *synod-driven* polity has proven to be similarly paralytic. And one has been surprisingly intolerant, hence the countervailing blast of GAFCON.

But of course everything is better on the blessed isles. There, your GS has wisely agreed with God in punting the task of adapting to SSM to the bishops.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
We are on more in common ground at this point!
Not least, despite my emphasis on synods in ACANZP, our bishops do lead their dioceses in distinctive ways, and in some cases considerable paradigm change within a diocese takes place under the distinctive leadership of its bishop.

Unknown said...

Yes, Peter, I nearly added a paragraph distinguishing synods diocesan and general as I have already distinguished synods occasional and parliamentary. If I had, it would have sounded much like your 4:28, which itself sounds much like the old ideal in TEC.

From observation of some Orthodox and Lutheran synods, I sense that they thrive on magisterial clarity that makes their work more tractable. Conversely, a centre-less multiplicity of hobby theologies sets synods up to fail. In changing times, the confused just follow their guts into blunders.

Churches that wish to survive and thrive need to find their Ratzingers.

BW



Bryden Black said...

Dear Ron, What’s not tragic about divorce ...?

Bryden Black said...

Time I think Peter to remind ourselves of that LC (aka CLD) moment:

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." ... "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Your avoidance of the implications of ‘everything’ being seemingly “context”; your avoidance of the sheer irrationality of our trying to elide “contrary to Scripture etc” and “consonant with Scripture etc”; and finally the attempt to elude the opposition between “Covenant blessing” and “Covenant curse” (even if you don’t like the language, it is biblical)—all this is beyond me frankly ... Have a break ...! Nietzsche and Foucault and Humpty Dumpty have obviously won the day!

PS. As for your last genuine question: probably because there is some Biblical warrant to negotiate the intractability of the heart’s hardness when the area pertains directly to the human Image; while with our present dilemmas, the clear, plain sense of the Scriptures is being flouted—that sense I’d further surmise being based on a theological anthropology which exposes the essential dualism that has distorted that Image.
Most succinctly: the one is a mere distortion of degree; the other is a categoric distortion in kind. People feel the distinction and are calling Time ...

Liturgy said...

“ It was Malcolm Falloon who reminded us - had to remind us - here on ADU of the vigorous, not to say bitter, debates during the 1970s over divorce-and-remarriage. By the 1990s all had become normalised, and we today have forgotten.” Bryden Black

This is actually false.
And dangerously so in an age when reliance on the internet, and repetitions such as this by understood-to-be-reliable scholars/sources, create fake memories.

Malcolm Falloon made certain assertions about this on this site that he had heard from unnamed sources. When challenged to verify any of his assertions, he failed to verify a single one.

We have not “forgotten” the “vigorous, bitter debates during the 1970s over divorce-and-remarriage” – they simply did not happen. They did not happen in any way akin to what Bryden/Malcolm would have liked them to have happened to compare with the current debates that have led, as Peter reminds us, to schism.

Contrary to this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading, and its crystal-clear (ipsisima verba) words of Jesus, the heterosexual Anglican majority in this country found a way to deal pastorally with the increasing breakdown of marriages at every level of the Church and did so, without significant dispute, by creating a canon which conflicts with the Church’s teaching on marriage which it left unchanged – that marriage is for life.

The decades of argument (actually since the ‘70s) ultimately resulting in schism have only happened because a similar approach has been applied to the small minority – committed same-sex couples.

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden (and thanks Bosco for robust support re question of divorce)
It is quite fair to raise the question of distortion of degree versus categoric distortion.
I think it unfair to talk about my making everything a matter of context: I have not made that assertion or argument.
I have simply argued that in one matter of context, a quite profound and also conservative context, two people being bound by law into marriage, the church might be a place in which there is more than one view on whether or not such a relationship might be blessed.
And I noted that in Scripture that specific context is not addressed, though I do get it that you see it addressed within your understanding of theological anthropology.
A point I continue to make is that this is not about either the elite of GS imposing its erroneous understanding on the pews, nor (taking up your last comment) is it Foucault and co running amok with our minds (with, noting comments you have previously made on ADU, a side helping of blame to incompetent clergy poorly forming the theological minds of their parishioners): it is that we are a church in which good Christian people with compassionate hearts and minds informed by the mercy of Christ in Scripture find themselves, often sitting in the same pews as each other, take two different - opposing views even - on what should be the response of the church to civil marriages between two people of the same gender, one of whom is their own son or daughter or sister or brother.
In the fullness of time we might yet agree that 2018 represents some great category error.
My own view is that it represents an honest reckoning with differences of view within the one church on a matter as heart rending as most dilemmas of human "flesh", including divorce/remarriage, which we have found a way forward on, neither splitting the church, nor holding back despite God hating (cursing?) divorce.

Bryden Black said...

Well Peter and Bosco. I continue to find it fascinating (it’s probably other things as well) that neither of you - and certainly not those participants in the local doco “Time for Love”, and certainly not our local church either - have ever managed to make anything like a robust case from Scripture, akin to those arguments re divorce and remarriage, for either SSB or even SSM (and that shall surely be our destination). [Sure Peter, a while ago you ran an exercise on ‘key texts’ that concluded rather little and seemed in the end only to mirror the TEC HOB’s own 2010 report, with its parallel columns that never met.] And please; stop pulling that family card as if none of us who oppose all this have any skin in the game. That only reveals a vain attempt at driving yet another wedge between heart and head, as well as being plain untrue.

Far from M7 offering our church a “container” for our “opposing” views (ref. Abp PR), sincerely held certainly, all it has constructed is a leaking colander. Perhaps it is yourselves who should be pondering the reason why, rather than throwing all the blame at those "schismatics”. For just so, my earlier contention above re the inevitability of all of us having to now judge/evaluate/sift ... and be sifted.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bryden
Once again, you argue unfairly!
I did not "pull the family card as though none of us opposing have no skin the game": I made no comment re those opposing SSB, I simply offered an alternative to Foucault as an explanation for those who care for their family members by supporting SSB.
Secondly, I do not throw all the blame in the schismatics - I simply acknowledge they are responsibly making a decision which I disagree with.
As for a substantive Scriptural case etc: I myself do not see it and that is why I have publicly said I will not conduct SSBs. But I have sympathy for those who do think there is a case and have indicated their willingness because they are reading Scripture and constructing the best case possible which, again, is precisely what those of us, including yourself do re remarriage after divorce. There is no proof text which neatly overturns our Lord's words on divorce and remarriage but there is a certain stubborn willingness to find in Scripture a warrant for pastoral accommodation.
But, look, you may be right about our church being a leaking colander ... but are you willing to admit you may be wrong about that?

Jean said...

Well it is all the tricky dilemma’s again ....

I think there is a stubborn willingness to find in Scripture a warrant for pastoral accommodation Peter, and I have been searching on it on this topic for some time. I haven’t yet been persuaded and I am torn between the knowledge of people who face struggles between their faith and sexuality, and what is written. For me the difference with divorce is that I can find room for pastoral accommodations on divorce in Scripture and I do agree with Bryden’s comment although with perhaps a tad less emphasis that divorce is a tragedy; actually to be honest I think it is the hardness of heart (the cause) that is more the tragedy than the divorce.

The closest to a conclusion I get in my own thought processes regarding that topic is a need for people who face such struggles to be safe within a church environment; to be able to share openly and simply be loved as they are. Imagine if Henri Nouwen had been able to freely talk? At the same time I wrestle over ‘why is it a sin’ and come up with only because it must not be inherently good for us (the behaviour that is not the desire). God warns to protect and save us (largely from ourselves). At the moment in our world you don’t have to go far to observe global trends are in biblical language for ‘everyone does what is right in his own eyes.’ So I am an advocate for honesty you could say and open-ness in churches, for people who struggle with faith and sexuality, and yet with truth gently held that God isn’t keen on His people acting on these desires not because he likes tormenting people, not because heterosexual desires lived out the wrong way are any better, but because he knows it will bring harm either to the individual or in some other way.
But hey maybe in time my views will be proven wrong.

As for our church currently. Well I can agree to disagree with others and engage in good debates - I do on many things. It would be a line drawn for me if it ever comes to participation, I will not (at present) belong to a congregation where a blessing undertaken in a regular church service unless I am fully persuaded.

I was disappointed to see 60minutes in July had a news story on churches ‘conversion therapy’. One of their examples was David Riddell’s counselling school. Having attended his training and (mostly... it’s never ever completely) agreeing with the majority it was disappointing to see they set up one of his co-counsellors by pretending to be a gay man who really didn’t want to be and was there any hope for him, could they help someone like him? The counsellor said yes and the media portrayed this as conversion therapy. It would be double tragedy if people who were really struggling and seeking to make sense of things were put off by such scaremongering. Some same sex attraction can begin with abuse and for those for whom this is the case the benefit - regardless of their sexuality - of receiving some help processing this is hard to quantify. It shouldn’t be illegal to be gay or LBTQ but neither should people be vilified for offering genuine help if people seek it. It’s a bit like the Salvation Army being forced to repeal and appeal aimed at helping women get out of prostitution... it isn’t a crime but that shouldn’t mean people can’t offer help to those who need or want it.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Jean
Thank you for your wise words!
One observation, which builds on your emphasis on the church being a place where we can be honest and open about our struggles with intensely personal matters such as sexuality (our desires) and divorce (our specific circumstance), is that I have a great concern that a conservative church on the matters discussed here is not that place, that a church needs something like the accommodation of GS 2018 (whatever we think of the theological underpinnings of the decision) to be a place,space for people to feel at least one part of it is "safe" for that openness and honesty.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
I can only publish part of your recently submitted comment.
Please do not make comments about Commenters!
P

Dear Peter,

[]

The outer parameters of all designated human activity, for some people, is confined to the first Book of Genesis, and the Holy Spirit's activity is seen to be confined to that ethos.

In fact, the Jewish establishment had to learn that the Messiah came to liberate people from their slavery to man-made rules, whch they had substituted for a radical life-giving openness to the salvation that only Jesus - God-in-Christ - (not rules) can give.

The word 'Mercy', for some peple denotes only weakness. When in fact, the Lord of all Creation has demonstrated mercy to be an integral tool of salvation. The Hound of Heaven is not looking for prey to consume, but for sinners (all of us) to approach the Mercy Seat - by virtue, not of what we do, but by what God has already done.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I think the perception of a conversative Church is likely to be off-putting for those looking for a safe place. My thinking hasn’t progressed as far as to pondering whether the current accommodation is necessary for such honesty to take place in a Church. My initial questions to that question are: 1) To what degree are the societal perceptions of Christianity versus the lived experience if one actually attends a church a part of the same difficulty (Eg a same sex attracted person may be put off attending church because of perceived rejection formed by selected media, popular views about Christianity) 2). Do we really want to walk the American road of re-inforcing conservative/liberal stereotypes across distinct churches because mostly I find people on a continuum on those takes within a single church, and their position on the spectrum will change with different issue.

I will have to listen to the book “God for the rest of us” for at least a third time to grasp a hint of how the pastor who wrote this book ran his church in Las Vegas reaching out to those who thought of themselves as beyond redemption yet without coming across as being puritanical as Ron employs the word above - and yep the stories of those who make up his congregation go way beyond the moral compass of anything discussed here to date..

Unknown said...

For a stable union of two Christians, Jean, I wonder whether thanksgiving and oblation are better themes for a congregational service than blessing.

In Brydenian, I would say that the right service is an anhypostatic act of the human community rather than an enhypostatic act of God. After all, the Articles and Prayerbook are clear that weddings are not sacraments.

And in the debate over SSB, proponents never argued that God would actually do something in the blessings they demanded. Rather, they seem to have taken the blessing idea from the medieval mess on which our ancestors improved. But their actual arguments returned again and again to the pastoral need for a congregational act.

BW