Monday, August 15, 2022

Moving on but not away from Lambeth 2022

Since leaving #LambethConference2022, Teresa and I have been able to enjoy some annual leave - still in the heat of the mad English/European scorching summer. As this post is published, however, we are en route to Heathrow and the flights home. (Where NZ readers know it has been very cold - not quite a global warming winter this year!) What follows are bits and bobs of things which interest me, especially but not exclusively in relation to Lambeth.

First, some news: Christopher Wells has been appointed executive director for Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion. Some years back I corresponded with Christopher Wells, mostly in relation to The Living Church, an Anglican/Episcopalian magazine based in North America. This conference I met him in person. In my view, this is a very good appointment and I look forward to the continuing work of IASCUFO (the Communion task force charged with Unity, Faith and Order responsibilities, under the leadership of Bishop Graham Tomlin).

Then, also drawing on The Living Church, David Goodhew makes a number of pertinent observations re Anglican church decline and growth which, adroitly, could lead to similar questions being raised here in ACANZP. But one takeaway is, churches which decline can grow!

Back to Lambeth. Archbishop Foley Beach, in his capacity as Chair of GAFCON, has written an extraordinary piece on the Lambeth Conference signalling the Communion is “broken.” I say “extraordinary” because 

(i) it is written from the (disad)vantage point of view of not actually attending the conference, yet holds nothing back in its certainty of judgment; 

(ii) it manages to make the conference all about one issue, when the conference was about many issues, and even on that one issue, managed to reach a place which can only be reached if everyone is in the same location. 

The irony of ++Beach’s article is that the conference demonstrated that change in the Communion will only come via people meeting in the same place and not via boycotts.

But, in contrast to both the tone and the tenet of ++Beach’s proclamation, is this beautifully written reflection by Bishop Andrew Rumsey (CofE), which makes the point, in my words, that despite some not sharing in (eucharistic) communion, there was much communion in other ways through our conferring and praying together. Further, the very process of meeting together - plenaries, small groups, discussions, prayers, conversations over meals and when getting off/on buses/boats etc - has powerful effects, including, on Andrew Rumsey’s own confession, the minds and mindsets of bishops. Boycotts, less so.

In my own mind and mindset - whether it is changing may be a little early to tell :) - I take away from the conference a bunch of conversations, including with those holding to some quite conservative viewpoints, which I continue to reflect on and to digest as I return to my own diocese with its particular range of viewpoints, issues, concerns and questions. But what I am reflecting on is personal conversations “in the room,” not external to the room.

On another aspect of Anglican life, I was delighted to get to know various bishops at the conference, including bishop X. But this week, in a conversation with a person about life in their parish, there was a bemoaning of the direction the local bishop was trying to impose on the parish. Who is that bishop? It’s bishop X. … A salutary reminder that outside of the joys of conference life and the frisson of “issues” worked on in a globalist context, there are challenging questions about the future of the everyday church in the raw localism of “the parish of Y” where Y’s demographics, present congregational make up, historic character, etc run with (or rub against) aspirations - provincial, diocesan, parochial - for continuity and for change.

This paragraph without links - I’ll be honest, there are some Anglican commentators I prefer not to link to: I see some commentary of the kind “that was the last Lambeth Conference/the Anglican Communion is finished - there will be two global Anglicanisms and the bright future is with the one which won’t budge from traditional, orthodox teaching on sexuality.” It goes without saying that no one knows the future except our Father in heaven, so such commentary may prove correct. But there are two questions such commentary begs in the present:

(1) What is meant by Anglicanism? To take just one aspect of Anglicanism which the conference has reinforced for me - directly seeing the ABC in action, sitting in retreat and services in Canterbury Cathedral: to be Anglican is to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Can there be two meaningful versions of Anglicanism in which one version is not in communion with Canterbury? This does not mean - of course not - that a form of Christianity based on the historic teaching of the 16th century reformed Church of England but liturgically not using BCP services (or any other Anglican liturgies of churches still in commmunion with Canterbury) cannot be a growing, converting, flourishing, Bible-based Christian church or global network of churches. But may such a flourishing Christian movement lay claim to being “true Anglicanism”?

(2) Is there an intrinsic reason why two claimants to true Anglicanism could not deign to meet together in one conference? Again, at great risk of harping on about a point made often here at ADU, and already above in this post, the success of the conference lies in the fact that Anglicans with difference bothered to meet together, to be in one room of conversation and at one table of discussion. Other Anglicans (with pretty much the same convictions as many Anglicans at the conference) did not bother to show up. What is so special about them that they deserve to be deemed “true Anglicans” when they won’t talk to other Anglicans? Where in Anglicanism, even in the 16th century, do we find such spectacular exclusivist, separationist precedent? The great Anglican minds of the 16th century - Cranmer, Hooker, Elizabeth 1 - sought to hold the differences of the English Christians in one church - the Church of England. Not the Church of the True and Orthodox English. Sure: for some English Christians, the efforts of Cranmer, Hooker and Elizabeth 1 were inadequate - so fervent Catholics smuggled in their priests and the Puritans stood their “biblical” (if not in the Bible then not permissible) grounds - but they did not claim to be the broad Church of England. They made a pitch for a narrower understanding of English Christianity, based on Rome or Geneva, and the pitch did not yield strong sales.

Perhaps a question permeating this post is the question of accuracy! How might we describe each other with words that correspond to reality. A post mentioned above, which I refuse to link to, grandiloquently speaks of some wide ranging, slippery slope of moral decay which the “revisionist” provinces are cheerfully sliding down. This is inaccurate. The revision of Anglican understanding which is emerging and evolving through the post 1998 decades is a revision with respect to the nature of marriage. It is, actually, a pretty conservative revision because it is focused on permanent, faithful, stable, loving relationships between two people. Whether we agree with such revision or not, whether we think the arguments for such revision are sound theology or not, could we at least agree that no Anglican province is now or in the future about to canonically permit orgies, casual sexual liaisons, polyamory, and the like. Put another way, we all read 1 Peter at the conference and none were proposing that we ignore 4:3-4a.

Does this mean that, from an inside the conference tent perspective, all is actually well with Anglicanism as found in the attending provinces of the Anglican Communion? Not at all. We have work to do which, in my humble opinion, would help us to be better Christians, and therefore better Anglican Christians. For example, in one of our Bible studies, focusing on one theme in 1 Peter, we had a fine lead off from ++Justin, followed by a panel of contributors talking about what that theme means to them. I found these contributions to be overall unimpressive. This particular theological concept seemed to mean whatever the speaker wanted it to mean. I described this in my small group as very “plastic” - maybe “pliable” would be the better word. How could we grow in theological depth and precision as a Communion because we who lead (clergy, preachers, Bible study leaders) have done the hard yards of theological study, intent on not ending up with plastic/pliable notions of critical theological concepts?

A related matter, perhaps, is the question of worship in the life of the Communion. A fellow Kiwi, Christchurch blogger, Bosco Peters in a recent post has voiced concern that the conference managed to talk about Anglican Identity without talking about Anglican worship, in respect of our common history in the Book of Common Prayer (1662) or in respect of the general idea that Anglicans (most, most of our history) believe in praying together what we believe - binding ourselves to “common prayer.” Now, I put my hand up in the first instance as one who didn’t think about this when we discussed that Call paper. But perhaps I (and we bishops, theological advisors to the Communion, etc) need to ask, why didn’t we think about this aspect of Anglican identity? The answer (explanation/excuse/!?) lies - I am proposing for discussion - in two aspects of the situation. 

First, that we Anglicans take our worship together so much for granted that we do not notice when it is not part of (e.g.) a Call paper on Anglican Identity. 

Secondly, that we have some important ways of speaking about what constitutes Anglicanism which (for reasons I do not know) either do not reference worship or, at best, imply it obliquely. Two such ways were at the heart of the Call paper on Anglican Identity: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the Five Marks of Mission. How might we change this? (One possibility lies in talk at the conference of review of such things!)

Worship at the conference itself was significant - a prayerful retreat, grand opening service, intentionally less grand, a little bit informal closing service, conference morning eucharists and evening prayer services, and the chaplaincy team leading other services, including early morning prayer and night prayer - yet, we could have done more. Noting that daily eucharist and evening prayer services were “opt in” services, some around me observed that we didn’t actually worship when all together in plenary (e.g. Could we have sung a hymn at the beginning of each morning Bible study session?).

Incidentally, the morning eucharist services, led by a different province each day, provided in place of the sermon a short video presentation exemplifying the life of that province. Of the services I attended, the presentation by Pakistan was outstanding - you may be able to access it on the conference website.

So, a final paragraph for this post - written in the privilege of a short 24 hour stay in Oxford, most of it at Christ Church Oxford, including Evensong in the cathedral which is uniquely also the “house” chapel - pic below.* Isn’t Anglicanism amazing? Being at Canterbury, UK a few weeks ago, and now at a place particualrly connected to Canterbury, NZ and my own diocese, I have been reminded that from the small seed of Pope Gregory sending Augustine to Canterbury, and all the celtic missional endeavours before that, the faith shared by the English speaking peoples has advanced beyond Kent, Northumbria, etc into all the countries colonized by the British empire, and beyond those countries into place never coloured red on the map of the world. We are part of an amazing story of gospel growth. May it continue in the power of the Spirit of the God who has loved us in Jesus Christ.

*This photo of the east end of Christ Church cathedral, Oxford, captures work done in the 19th century, designed by renowned architect, Gilbert Scott … also architect for Christ Church cathedral, Christchurch, NZ.


John Sandeman said...

"This does not mean - of course not - that a form of Christianity based on the historic teaching of the 16th century reformed Church of England but liturgically not using BCP services (or any other Anglican liturgies of churches still in communion with Canterbury) cannot be a growing, converting, flourishing, Bible-based Christian church or global network of churches. But may such a flourishing Christian movement lay claim to being “true Anglicanism”?"

This par may well describe the diocese of Sydney in which I worship. Are you counting us out? Last time I looked we were in communion with Canterbury

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John, If Sydney is in communion with Canterbury, why did no bishops from Sydney attend Lambeth 2022?

John Sandeman said...

Sydney -and I personally am in two minds about this - has come to the conclusion that Lambeth and the ACC have become dysfunctional and that it is better to build up new ways of connecting Anglicans. GAFCON has not left the Anglican Communion. As you know, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda are still members according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I should alert you to another development. This evening Gafcon Australia announced the launch of the diocese of the Southern Cross with its first member church in Brisbane.

In my naive head, I wonder if we'd be better off if the progressives gathered in the Uniting Church and the evangelicals in the Anglican church - or the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Peter: possibly because they were involved in the launch of the new Diocese of the Southern Cross in Australia, as a counterpart to the Confessing Anglican Church of New Zealand? I see this new body has begun under the leadership of former Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies.
The fracturing of Anglicanism all across the Anglophone world is obvious to everyone, and it has the same cause in every case. Are they all wrong and obtuse, and "resisting the Holy Spirit"? At the same time, the aging and disappearance of these churches gives an air of unreality to such gatherings. Really, a Scottish Episcopal diocese of fewer than 650 people, smaller than some parish churches? The American Episcopal Church now down to about 460k on a Sunday: what future in this? I know this argument cuts both ways - Catholicism in France and Orthodoxy in Russia have both been pronounced dead numerous times in the past - but the survival and rebirth of the Church has not come through assimilation but faithful if unpopular endurance. Think of the prophet Jeremiah in the dark last days of the Kingdom of Judah.
But if anyone thinks destroying the doctrine of marriage so that being male or female is adiaphora ("a conservative change" - an oxymoronic expression if ever!), he simply hasn't understood what Natural Law - along with the words of Our Lord, reason and biological science - teaches us about male-female relationships and the nature of parenthood and the family.
The trouble, as always, comes from the fact that liberal Protestants take their cue from secular culture, and this has rewritten marriage as a voluntarist compact for seeking personal "happiness". This is none other than the triumph of the autonomous will. Can revisionist Protestants step outside their postmodern bubble and grasp that Christian marriage is fundamentally about the creation of families?
And if you are "relaxed" about conceiving children (by donors or surrogates) children for same-sex couples, are you aware of the research by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus on the outcomes for children of such couples? Protestants really do need to look at the whole ("catholic") picture.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John
An even greater pity then that the functionality of the Communion (as a body of people intent on both not leaving the AC and continuing to talk to one another) was not experienced first-hand by Sydney bishops. Along with conversations with their GSFA colleagues who think GAFCON mistaken in not bothering to turn up.

I shall look up the Southern Cross announcement … might be catalyst for next post next week :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
Two quickish responses as I travel by bus to Heathrow … grateful for wifi connection … slightly tricky conditions for actually writing!
(1) While it is a mistake to marry the spirit of the age, lest one be widowed in the next, it is also a mistake to separate off from the culture of the day … the Essenes had their attractions, the Pharisees also … but Christianity forged a different and ultimately more successful pathway. No doubt the new diocese will have its followers but is it on course to convert the whole of Australia?
(2) It is early days to determine whether the “revisions to marriage” will destroy marriage because there are many possibilities for destroying marriage, the majority of which are in the hands of heterosexuals who marry! To say nothing of whether marriage itself will be revised across the Communion, or the outcome focuses on possibilities for recognising the civil marriages of Christians in an ecclesial setting … something Catholics are thinking about, seemingly undeterred by natural law. Speaking of natural law, surely consideration of human nature must recognise eventually the lawfulness of ordering partnerships between two men or two women otherwise unable to marry but able to love each other and to order that love in ways fruitful for society (cf. Some comments by BW to the previous post). Incidentally, my focus is not on being attuned to the culture of our day but on the pastoral situation of homosexuals who have existed in human society in every age.

Anonymous said...


If the Son is your Lord, then you may only participate in alliances animated by a common love that is in Him. If you participate in alliances solely of opposition where your friends are simply your enemy's enemies, then you have accepted another lord than YHWH. Practically, you are rejecting Jesus's teaching at just that point where it is most resonant with his work on the cross. If you have been baptised, the Holy Spirit still fights for the conversion of your soul, but you are not alive in the Son.


Here up yonder, an opposition to civil equality for sexual minorities inspired by Viktor Orban has become a sort of orthodoxy for one of the two major and polarised political parties. So here at least, politics have changed the context of pastoral decision.

For example, if you are a priest in oh ACNA who voices exegetical scruples about the rationales for the ordination of women and same sex church weddings, you will be inaccurately heard as opposing civil rights for sexual minorities (although you may favour them) and endorsing the insurrection on January 6 (which may have appalled you). Or, if you are a woman priest in say TEC who regards same sex weddings as a reasonable congregational concession to a universal human institution (Hindus marry, Muslims marry, Jews marry...), you will be heard inaccurately as necessarily favouring forced vaccinations and the confiscation of firearms.

What most of us have pondered apolitically has begun to have political weight and consequence. To hold any position on That Topic now requires a political theology too, not just a strong sentiment or preferred exegesis.


Two definitions of "Anglican" are *irrationally* talking past each other: (a) Anglicanism is an historical cultural identity like being French or Lithuanian that crystalised in the C16, (b) the Anglican Communion is a present-day body of churches who discern together because their past linkages enable them to do so.

There is a lot of summer sunshine between the two. For the sake of sanity, leaps back and forth should be explained with rigour rather than sloppily assumed.

Being quintessentially Anglican in sense (a) does not *necessarily entitle* one to participate in the workaday discernments of the Communion of sense (b). Why should anyone think that it does?

Indeed just because the Communion is global not English, discerning not conserving, ecumenical not identitarian, and contemporary not time-stuck one could only reasonably expect that being an Anglican in sense (b) is *necessarily becoming* something no longer Anglican in sense (a). Can a club to enshrine (a) for ever actually do the discerning-- global, ecumenical, contemporary-- of (b)?

There is no problem to solve.

Traditionalists who chose (a) over (b) left (b), started GAFCON, and now have what they want. They should go cheerfully into whatever work they think the Lord is calling them to do where they are. If they truly believe that they have left Sodom and Gomorrah, then, as for Lot's wife, it is dangerous for them to look back. And those who do not choose to join them have no more reason to squabble with them than with say Presbyterians. They're gone. Out is out.

Those somewhat more focused on the present and future meanwhile continue to meet for (b) in Lambeth Conferences. Since those who left did not want (b) anyway, they did not contribute to its work, and their departure is helpful to it. Nobody can be replaced, strictly speaking, but new discernment partners will someday be found. In is in.

The proper relationship between (a) and (b) is ecumenical.

I call resistance to this reality on both sides "irrational" rather than "unreasonable," not to be pejorative but to be accurate. We are most prudent and compassionate when we acknowledge that some disagreements are more about what egos have the strength to accept than about the best way to read clues. What requires psychotherapy is usually not helped by theological discourse.


Peter Carrell said...

Thank you BW - your analysis is very helpful to me.
I am trying not to be grumpy about the Oz development and your words help me to wish it well, genuinely!

Anonymous said...

Peter, you entirely missed out my point about marriage and the upbringing of children, and you have misunderstood the meaning of natural law. My point about the nature of marriage is precisely on this. You remain fixated on the emotional needs and sex drives of people with same sex attraction, as if that was all marriage can mean,
If you are happy about two men deliberately bringing up children without a mother - like US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his "husband" Chasten, or two women deliberately bringing up a child without a father - as many lesbian couples now do - then have the courage of your convictions and say so, that this is good and willed by God.
But if you suspect that this us really not right and going against nature - then you are beginning to understand Natural Law. Read Professor Mark Regnerus and you will understand the issue from the perspective of children's emotional development.
Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

Ezekiel 16:49-50 tells us it was not only their sexual mores that destroyed Sodom, but they ‘were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy’. Plenty there for both ins and outs to be wary of and to be involved in!

John Sandeman said...

Hi BW, I believe you sum up the up yonder situation well with insight that extends beyond.
In the US and Canada "out is out", almost. To take a cricket analogy, Archbishop Justin Welby did not raise his finger at Lambeth to Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. That would have been the umpire signalling "out". Peter can probably describe what the Archbishop said of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, at Lambeth, but from a long distance, it seems like he regretted they were not there.

Here in the West Island, the situation is not a simple "out" or "in". the conservatives are in a majority at the General Synod. they are definitely "in" with some of them at Lambeth and others staying at home.

So it seems in Australia we have two sides batting. they are both "in". One side has some new team members who are "out". how confusing. It could be grumpyfying, Peter, I understand.

Father Ron said...

This latest announcement by John Sandeman of the schismatic intentions of separatists from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney should surprise no-ne who has been viewing the antics of bishops from Sydney and Tasmania over the past few years. I'm just amazed it took so long:

"I should alert you to another development. This evening Gafcon Australia announced the launch of the diocese of the Southern Cross with its first member church in Brisbane. In my naive head, I wonder if we'd be better off if the progressives gathered in the Uniting Church and the evangelicals in the Anglican church - or the other way around." (J.S.)

The various independent 'Anglican Dioceses' currently being formed by the GAFCON entity in different places - including now, this one in Australia - can only tell the local people that there is a decidedly whacky form of neo-Anglicanism that is emerging from a group of people whose theology is rooted so far into the past, that it cannot cope with the reality of the world as it has struggled to free itself from the hatred and bigotry that has forced many of its former members into exile.

It is no surprise, either, that bishops at the forefront of this movement in Sydney and Tasmania were in Aotearoa/New Zealand not so long ago, trying to influence our own bishops in ACANZP to abandon its hard-won openness to Church recognition of the validity of same-sex legal marriages that are being undertaken by Christians who love one another - in a way of relationship that expresses the faithfulness of a Christian Covenant. I, for one. am glad that our Anglican Church here resisted that call to a continuing practise of sexism and homophobia, which was condemning a minority of people in our Church to ostracism and disrespect. (That didn't stop Gafcon, Australia, though, from being part of the group that suck into Christchurch a year ago to ordain their own bishop of a 'Confessional' Church)

I am sure that the Anglican Church in Australia - and its membership loyal to Canterbury and Lambeth - will not be clamouring to follow in the footsteps of the secessionists. But one does wonder; what will happen to other Anglicans in the Diocese of Sydney; whose loyalty to their Anglo-Catholic roots prevent them from joining the chorus of a stridently conservative Calvinist revisionism? I pray for the continuing ministry of the parishes I know of: St. James, King Street and Christchurch St Laurence, both of which parishes have lively faith-filled congregations, dedicated to the cause of peace, justice and servanthood in the local community. And, one wonders; where is the current Archbishop of Sydney in all of this? I suppose it had to be spearheaded by a former Sydney Archbishop - why not Jensen?

Father Ron said...

William, I'm surprised you are still trolling the Waters of world-wide Anglicanism. This is a reminder of Jesus' story of the mote and the log. do you not find your own neck of the woods sufficiently worrying, for you to be so concerned about how we poor Anglicans are getting on?

Good Pope Francis seems to be having his own trouble with his unruly bishops around the world. I pray for him every day, believing he has his finger on the pulse of what is required in the service of Christ's people in God's world.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Ron : motes and logs, you say? If you have read my comments with attention, you will know I am unsparing of the misconduct of Catholic clergy abd religious that has caused such harm to the church. As I mentioned, I knew some of the individuals caught up in the abuse scandals thwt has caused the Catholic school in Dunedin to change its name. And I have referred to the sex scandal surrounding the man Pope Francis ordained to the episcopacy who is now in The Vatican; Damian Thompson has discussed the story at length.
There will always be sinful conduct in the Church while this world continues, but false teaching is another matter. Catholics believe, following St Paul, that the Church is "the bulwark of truth" and is kept by the Holy Spirit from error (hence the Magisterium). What do you Protestants believe about religious truth? Where do you find it - in the op-ed of The New York Times? Do you think truth is "out there" like some endless Hegelian dialectic that is never achieved in this life, but is constantly eluding us? That's what I understand "Progressivism" to mean. But remember this: you can "progress" downhill as well as uphill. Where do you think NZ Anglicanism has been headed since it decided to sit loose to Sacred Scripture, holy tradition and, yes, natural law?
I bang away about natural law because it is something that even non-believers can understand if they learn to think rationally. Do you not think, for example, that it is weird that a bald 30 year old man "identifies" as a woman called Giulia Valentina and plays in the Ladies Gaelic Football League in Dublin? What does natural law tell you about this? How did you feel about the NZ weightlifter in the Olympics? Something wrong about it? What about female college swimmers in the USA? Natural law, Ron,
Finally, you call the new Anglican ecclesial bodies in Australia and New Zealand "schismatic", which no doubt you intend in a negative sense, but is that really a word that Anglicans, of all people, should use? Do you not know your own history, how Anglicanism arose? Motes and logs, anyone?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

I'm glad Lambeth has been so rich for you, Peter, and affirming of the difficult Anglican middle-way that is the only real church hope for That Topic, and which you have consistently embodied in your time as bishop so far.

All our talk here makes the point: William is not won over from his natural law; Ron and I from our progressive disclosure of divine love. What is a church and a bishop to do?

Anonymous said...

"you are still trolling"

Are 12:31 and 8:18 trolling?

Trolling is malevolent verbal aggression toward persons. It often relies heavily on attributed motivation and straw man arguments. It usually strives for narcissistic wounding.

These texts have speculation on why + Peter might think as he does that goes past what readers can see that he actually said about it. That is attributed motivation. Not good.

But there is also an oblique attempt at irenic argument in those comments. They are not the mere aggression of trolling.

And although that attempt is pushy about it, it does probe here and there for some common ground. Trolling, as pole-to-pole aggression, never supposes such commonality.

Contempt, however, does. In fact, 12:31 and 8:18 seem to display the whole CAD triad of negative emotion-- Contempt at indifference to Community norms, Anger at indifference to Autonomous ones, and Disgust at indifference to those that feel Divine. One could want more clarity about the target-- especially with attributed motivation in the mix-- but I read all that emotion as focused on a certain position, not on + Peter himself.

12:31 and 8:18 are not trolling.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, John, for kind words.

And for your news and judicious comments from Oz.

"In my naive head, I wonder if we'd be better off if the progressives gathered in the Uniting Church and the evangelicals in the Anglican church - or the other way around."

From time to time, someone argues that a division to overcome a missional impasse is a tactic not a schism, that such an impasse is exactly what we face, and that both (a) and (b) will reach souls when apart that none could reach whilst they were together. The world's main body of Methodists have put this to the test by agreeably splitting in two.

The other side of the coin are the mergers that splits make possible. Might the Methodist and Anglican bishops in Africa who argued with their counterparts in the US merge for continental unity? Here up yonder, a merger of TEC and ACC with ELCA (Lutheran) would produce a stronger church with interesting synergies for mission from South America across the North Atlantic.

Ironically, both the Methodists and the Lutherans could restore some valuable CoE tradition to their Anglican partners. Methodists could contribute a lost Wesleyan evangelicalism without the Reformed neuralgias that drive many crazy. Anglican software was meant to run on a Lutheran OS, and the CoE distinctives make most sense in their original medieval and Continental context.

My worry about anything GAFCON is that it will be unable to contain anarchy. ACNA bishops who were horribly treated by TEC have acknowledged that the betrayals in the Continuum were worse. We should pray that nobody gets hurt.


Mark Murphy said...

Gosh William, you keep on talking about That School in Dunedin losing its name, as if the worst thing that is happening is that it's losing its name. What about the victims?

*Sexual abuse gets into every cell of the body*.

The Catholic Church needs a Reformation in terms of sexuality and power. Anyone can see that. Returning to natural law (as interpreted by sexually repressed men) ain't that. The indulgences Luther complained about are small fry compared to systemic abuse of the most vulnerable. Who cares about Justification by Faith, natural law etc etc when 'Christ on earth' is abusing your body.

The Anglican Church is at least facing into this.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear All
Thank you for recent comments. I do not consider any are trolling. But perhaps Ron meant “trawling”? :)

A thought: Is schism taking place within global Anglicanism or reconfiguration (and I choose that word carefully, rather than “realignment”)?

The ABC would have liked Nigeria etc at the LC. It would have been fascinating if they had come. What is always regrettable in Anglicanism is when we either do not meet, or at best meet partially.

William: let’s distinguish please between: (i) pastoral care for two men or two women who love each other and who can no more be celibate than, well, people such as myself: now the possibility of such relationships being lived legally, transparently and fruitfully in the life of the church exists, what are we to do? I don’t think that asking whether Scripture,tradition or natural law has actually addressed this situation is simply a fixation on emotional, sexual needs! (Or, if it is, it is no more so than other pastoral considerations such as for the divorced); (ii) under what circumstances, if any, same sex partnerships can be theologically justified ij bringing children into the world? (Iii) under what circumstances same sex couples might be supported in adopting children and bringing them up? (Noting, a recent news item I saw, where a same sex couple, committed to bringing up the neice of one of the partners following the death of her parents, were then hounded out of a Christian school … surely a travesty even in the eyes of a natural law Catholic?] On ii I do not believe I have offered a view here in recent times. I continue to put before you the possibility that within the natural law approach to ethics of relationships there could be a view on homosexuality as a natural human condition which is somewhat different to your own and somewhat more in tune with Francis’ musings on such matters. Is no one doing any creative thinking in the Catholic world other than Francis and James Martin???

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John
On the cricketing analogy of your comment above - it is a very good point that both sides see themselves as “in”!! - might we reasonably ask the question whether both sides are playing the same form of cricket (T20, 50 overs, Test)?

That is, if the majority of Anglicans in Australia do in fact (or, in the future, in respect of votes in all houses) command a GAFCON aligned majority, what kind of Anglicanism is being “played” if the (possible future) majority of bishops/dioceses do not see themselves in communion with Canterbury?

(No need to answer the questions … there are many questions here.)

Mark Murphy said...

I thought Ron got it exactly right: of course William is trolling Anglicanism on this site!

John Sandeman said...

Phew! I am glad I don't have to answer Peter's questions. I am sure I couldn't answer many of them if any at all. But as to the form of cricket, GAFCON/GSFA seems to me to be playing a long form of the game. I don't believe Australia will formally break with Canterbury (North). It would take an act of Parliament to do that.

Anonymous said...

Mark: my reference to the school in Dunedin was in fact to do with sympathy for the victims of sexual abuse and distress that the institutional church had failed them. I was pointing out that the Catholic Church has sins of its own and these have grievously hurt its witness.

BW: I am glad that you recognise that I am not "trolling". But then you vitiate your comment with an extended piece of speculative and high sounding but ultimately fallacious psychologising about a person you have never met, accusing him of "contempt, anger, and disgust"! Strong words indeed. I suggest you give up your psychological pen portraits - which are really just argumenta ad hominem using $5 words - and engage with what I say, not what you think my emotions are. My arguments are serious ones (not trolling, as you kindly recognise) and are exactly those expressed (but infinitely better, of course) by Edward Feser, J. Budzsizweski and Mark Regnerus (an actual social scientist, by the way). Talk to the organ grinder, don't psychanalyse his monkey.

Peter; as ever, I am grateful for your patience, as I know my observations and questions are not often welcome here. But grit in an oyster may produce a pearl, as the saying goes. I am glad that you are still wrestling with the issues of same-sex parenting and the psychological impact this has on the development of children. I encourage readers to keep thinking about this and what Mark Regnerus has uncovered, to great personal cost. This is an inescapable element in the doctrine of *Christian Marriage.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

There were words on my screen at 12:31 and 8:18. 9:35 comments on what they signified. Which is normal in a discussion of ideas.

Scrolling up to 9:35, there is some concise reference to the emotive connotations of the language in view. However, since no homunculus hovered above my keyboard, I posted no report about one.

Others have related that they have seen much more on their screens than I saw on mine. That does seems strange.

But then a diversity of minds is the energy of conversation. And as only the ideas are interesting, other observations are inconsequential.


Father Ron said...

Dear Readers of A.D.U. - I was most interested in the story of a young black woman, Vee Pinto, who identifies as 'gay', who is a member of the Church of England's General Synod, and who has recently been elected to membership of the Church Nominations Commission (CNC) which recommends to Her Majesty the Queen and the British Parliament specially selected candidates for the role of a bishop in any one of the C. of E. dioceses. I was particularly impressed by this part of her testimony (which can be accessed on my blog - kiwianglo):

" The Gospel message is one of reversal—the first will be last, and the last will be first. The people with the least power in society are those that God gives the most honoured place at the table. Jesus includes all the people that the religious leaders, the rich and powerful, want to exclude. And so, if all are included and loved by God, then all of our churches should model that too—living out a truly radical, inclusive life."

One could hope that this reality could be thoroughly understood and acted upon by each and every member of the Body of Christ. Then the Church might be a safer place for everyone.

Father Ron said...

re William's insistence on the 'holiness' of 'Natural Law'. Can one presume that 'Natural Law' covers ALL of God's Creation, or only the human part of it? The last time I looked, even the ancient Christian understanding of Creation itself had been turned on its head - by God-given Human Reason. (Perhaps this is why Anglicans prefer the 3-legged stool of 'Scripture, Tradition, and Sweet Reason, over the paucity of 'Sola scriptura"). I suppose the real question here - about same-sex relationships - might be: did God actually create the diversity of gender/sexual identity that so obviously exists (and has always existed) in our world? Or was this the creation of the devil? (You'll notice I don't give him a capital letter here; it only makes him swelled-headed).

My own observation on this conundrum (after 93 years of existence outside the womb) is that - like McDuff in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, having been "from (my) mother's womb untimely ripped" I was born by caesarian operation because of my mother's heart problems - is that I, who later discovered my homosexual nature (natural to me) have long since been assured that the God I serve as a Christian priest certainly intended for me to bear witness to my reality and, in the process to help others to understand it or themselves!

The thing about sexuality and the way we humans use this amazing gift, is that God-in-Christ recognised that not every human being was meant to produce children. His lesson about eunuchs in Matthew 19:10-12 demonstrated quite clearly that there were 3 types of people who would not produce children - not all of them because they did not have the sexual capacity, but each of them - for one reason or another - not 'naturally' able or disposed to procreate! (You can read these verses for yourself- in the context of Jesus words about marriage)

While Jesus never prescribed how gays might use their sexuality in relationship to one another (and homosexuals could be in the group he described as being eunuchs "from their mother's womb", which I believe was true in my own situation); He was not so unspecific about heterosexual relationships. In fact, he was proscriptive of anyone not remaining loyal to just one relationship. When homosexuals want to emulate that faithfulness in a monogamous relationship with a loved one - this seems to cause most scandal to purists!

As it happens; later in my own life, God brought me together with a widow with two children who encouraged me to believe that God might be calling us to share our lives together We have a married yet celibate life together, in which we shared the raising of her two children who both now have families of their own. (I don't think the fact that I am intrinsically gay was in any way detrimental to their upbringing, and the fact that we have a very good relationship is partly due to the reality that God provided them with a (gay) father to help make up for their deceased parent.

I also noted, the other day, that a pair of male flamingos in the London Zoo have just taken part in the most amazing act of hatching and raising a young flamingo whose natural parents are no longer around. Is this un-natural, William? Or just another contravention of your theory of 'Natural Law'? I'm sure that many a child raised by same-sex 'parents' have cause to be thankful that someone cares enough to help them grow to maturity. I'm sure, too, that children who have been targets of abuse in their own heterosexual parent families would be quite glad of the chance to be nurtured by two people of the same gender who cared enough to want to take them under their wing. (But, then, how would I know?)

Anonymous said...

"The Gospel message is one of reversal—the first will be last, and the last will be first. The people with the least power in society are those that God gives the most honoured place at the table. Jesus includes all the people that the religious leaders, the rich and powerful, want to exclude. And so, if all are included and loved by God, then all of our churches should model that too—living out a truly radical, inclusive life."

Meanwhile, here across the pond, White Christian Nationalists believe that *they* are the last who shall finally be first, the excluded who shall finally head the table.


Mark Murphy said...

Kia Ora Ron,

I was about to call you "Father" Ron, again acknowledging the many ways we are called to father and mother the world's children, some of whom are 'directly' biologically related but most of whom aren't.

I love your deep acceptance of yourself and being prepared to share this reality as a priest - when so many others feel too constrained and scared to do so (legitimately so) - in the service of helping others understand and accept themselves.

I'm astounded you're 93 - what? So sharp and lively.

My own prejudice that gay people can't raise kids or that kids need a male and female in close proximity in their parenting has been disturbed and embarrassed by one of my mates and her wife doing a remarkable job with their two children, including the ways they support their children's contact with men. Their children are so wanted, thought over, and loved.

I love the creativity with which you and your partner have created a relationship and family that serves you and your children/step-children.

Looking at this world you have to say: its Creator and Sustainer is deeply in love with creativity and diversity.

Mark ...caesarean too :(

Anonymous said...

Mark, i strongly encourage you to read the research of Professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas. (I am currently reading his newest book on Christian marriage.) And ask some deeper questions about the psychosexual development of children.
And on the subject of lesbianism and homosociality in women, both Mark and Ron should read the renarkable story of Rosaria Butterfield- or look her up on YouTube. She has a profound knowledge of the lesbian world, as well as Freudianism, and she counsels Catholics with same-sex attraction,

Ron, your knowledge of Catholicism and its imtrinsic connection to natural law (it isn't "mine", I am the monkey, mot the organ grinder) has some serious lacunae and misunderstandings - but that is understandable, I don't claim to understand the 57 varieties of Protestantism either. But I must reiterate that "natural" in St Thomas Aquinas does NOT mean "what is found in (fallen) nature" but "God's intention and purpose in His creation order" as St Paul describes in Romans 1-2. To speak directly, do you really think God intended the anus for sex? I am sure you see that the complementarity of male and female is for reproduction and nurture as mother and father. In the words of the Billy Joel song, "that's the way God planned it,"

Or do you think it was the Creator's express purpose to MAKE some people with same-sex desire, others with bisexual desires, and others in bodies that didn't match their "gender identity"? Where does this supposed 'diversity' end? Are there some sexual desires that God did NOT create? If so, what are they and whence did they arise? Where in Scripture and in the words if Our Lord do we read of such a notion? All I can see is "For this reason a man shall leave ..."
Nobody is "born" homosexual or heterosexual, any more than tney are born lefthanded or speaking Chinese. It is developmental and situational, and a great deal of our development takes place without us being much aware of it.

One thing both of you surely know is this: men and women have different expectations in marriage because men and women are, well, different.
Speaking generally, the sex drive in most men is stronger and longer lasting than in most women. After childbearing and middle age, many women have much less interest in sex, but their desire for intimacy and companionship is unabated. This is one of the challenges of Christian marriage: the reconciling of opposites.
This basic male-female difference also explains fundamental differences between male homosexual and female homosexual relationships. Male homosexuals really don't have a problem with "open relationships" because there is no risk of pregnancy (communicable disease is another matter)and the idea of sex without commitment is appealing to men but horrifying to women.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
Let's assume (for it is not proven otherwise) that homosexuality is (in some cases at least) a matter of nature and not of nurture. (There are reasons to do so, lot's of things are due to the nature of the child and not the nurture which otherwise we (the majority) may not like and even, sadly, may try to change (cf left-handedness).)

Surely natural law has something to say re the fulfilment in life of those who are not otherwise naturally sharing in what is a majority human situation? If it has nothing to say, or even seeks to diminish life, is such a law just?

All you talk about natural law has gotten me thinking: how come natural law is not vividly clear in Scripture? If its ultimate clarity arrives with Aquinas, what took God so long and how come so many generations of Christians missed out on this development?

What if I am a de Lubacian Catholic? Am I in error?

Mark Murphy said...

At the end of our long theological dialogue: anuses.

Notwithstanding that heterosexuals are vigorous consumers of anal sex - and never suffer the levels of disgust fundamentalists reserve for gay people (Read The Scapegoat by Rene Girard as to why)....

Notwithstanding the gay men are rumoured to find other parts of the body just as attractive, chiefly the brain...

Oh no, this isn't about anuses. It's about real people living rich, complex, creative lives, and not living in the stereotypical, make-believe world of grubby, fundamentalist prejudice.

"The fact that an intellectual formula never has been and never will be devised which could embrace and express the manifold possibilities of life must lead to the inhibition or exclusion of other activities and ways of living that are just as important...Sooner or later, depending on outer circumstances or inner disposition, the potentialities repressed by the [rigid] intellectual attitude will make themselves felt by disturbing the conscious conduct of life. When the disturbance reaches a definite pitch, we speak of neurosis." (Carl Jung).

Mark Murphy said...

Despite our great diversity, my years of working as a therapist has led me to believe that straight and rainbow people often want similar things: intimacy, someone to watch Netflix with, someone to look after them when they're sick, someone to share the pleasure of life with etc.

= It isn't a problem

David said...

Peter you are in era for letting Mr pax et bonum rave on about matters he knows nothing about. Not all gay men have anal sex. To reduce gay love with all of its passion desire vulnerability and emotion to this prurient interest in anal sex is frankly a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Peter, I am myself left handed, a trivial fact that has never complicated my life or others (it may even have helped me in writing Hebrew). I imagine if teachers had tried to change this when I was 4 or 5, that wouldn't have hurt me greatly, since I wasn't much of a writer then (in any language). Young children are amazing learners, they pick up foreign languages just by immersion which are incomprehensible to their parents. This is one of the things that has convinced me of the plasticity of the brains of young children and adolescents: never underestimate the impact of the environment on the young receptive mind.(Likewise, the current epidemic of gender confusion and unhappiness affecting teenage girls in the west is almost entirely driven by social media and our cultural moment.)
Watching YouTube, I noticed that Paul McCartney is left handed, I guess he must have restrung his guitar. And we can all think of some deadly left handed bowlers. Hockey is probably the only sport where being left handed may be a handicap and that's because of the stick, not the player.

On your other perfectly pertinent questions, a couple of quick observations.
First, natural law is NOT the Gospel, and Christians are not "naturalists" but "supernaturalists": that is to say, we affirm that grace does not abolish (or contradict) nature but perfects it. You can see this most clearly in the greatest and clearest exponent of nature (phusis) in pagan antiquity, Aristotle. In his Nichomachean Ethics, building on Plato, he develops a brilliant theory of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, courage, temperance and justice), eudaimonia and the teleology of rational humans. But it is not enough - not by a billion miles.
Why not? Because Aristotle (one of the 3 or 4 greatest minds in antiquity) is a pagan who does not know that the real telos of human beings is not to be a good carpenter or philosopher (or mirabile dictu, even to have a few years of sexual happiness) but to behold the Beatific Vision of God. And for that you need the theological virtues (faith, hope and love) and not just the cardinal or natural virtues.
That is why in Aristotle's schema, if you happen to be "inferior" in the classical pagan view - that is, weak, ugly, female or a slave - well, too bad, his ethics really has nothing to say to us. Natural thinking, if not illuminated by the Gospel, is called, well, Social Darwinism.
You ask whether natural law is clearly taught in Scripture. The Bible is not a philosophical text, but if you read chapters 6 and 7 of J. Budzsizweski, "What We Can't Not Know ", you will find a clear exposition of how the four basic elements of natural law thinking (synderesis, design in things, design in humans, law of consequences) are taught throughout the Bible. I strongly encourage people to read Budzsizweski, perhaps starting with "Written on the Heart", which was actually published by the evangelical house IVP. Natural law isn't sectarian - you find it everywhere in Calvin's Institutes.
Do Catholics agree with everything Aquinas said? Believe it or not, they don't. Following Aristotle's theory on ensoulment of the unborn, for example, was a wrong move.
I do not second guess the Lord's timing in history. Why did it take so long to come up with the Chalcedonian Definition? Do you prefer to stick with 3rd century Sabellianism, for example? But don't overstate St Thomas's novelty. In many (and in the most important) ways he owes more to St Augustine than he does to the Latin Averroists who had rediscovered Aristotle in the late 12th century.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Father Ron said...

God bless you, William; but, despite your protestations about innate gender/sexuality differences, you must surely reason that - as someone once said; 'An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory', and I do know what I'm talking about. My knowledge of myself has not been gained from books, learned treatises, or any other second-hand guessing - based on other people's theories.

I will ask of you two questions. 1: When did you decide to become a heterosexual? 2: .Could you ever consider acting in a homosexual way? No? Why? Because that is your natural way of being. Just try to understand this business from my point of view.

Prejudice, on the other hand, is definitely a learned response and not innate from the womb.

Father Ron said...

And, William, just to set the record straight. Be assured that my sexual nature knows nothing of, nor has experienced the exotic juxtaposition of sexual antics that you so obviously are aware of. However, I have heard that heterosexual partners are sometimes preoccupied with such karmasutric behaviour. Perhaps you could advise me about such matters - I have no experience of them.

All I do know is that same-sex love and attraction can be a means of generating faithfulness and loyalty to a particular person, so that they cannot imagine living without them. Not ALL gay relationship are primarily sexual! They contain the very came attributes that ought to occur in a fulfilling heterosexual marriage. Such people often love and long for children - they just may not produce them together! (Perhaps, William, you need to open up your mind to the writings of people who really understand the situation from the inside - there's no substitute for actual experience of a situation. Perhaps, that's why celibate R.C. priests can be so mixed up about marriage and sexual relationships). Blessings.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
Let’s keep to the main point of the post.
Further discussion on homosexuality itself is likely to not be published, even if it is but one sentence in a longer post about the main point.

Anonymous said...

"...worship in the life of the Communion...why didn’t we think about this aspect of Anglican identity?"

Bosco is right. And between the lines, he's right about the cause too: liturgy is spirituality, and although Lambeth Conferences do a lot of interesting worship, they do not legislate spirituality.

So then, why is that the case? Is it a problem?

Over the long run, the spirituality of the Body is almost intrinsically informal tradition. If you are doing something truly new, you will need some new prayers. So it first emerges as the adaptive practice of missionaries or contemplatives on some frontier and is then carried by pilgrims to churches elsewhere that spread it by osmosis. Occasionally, some Mar Saba or Pope Gregory or Archbishop Cranmer more or less selectively codifies the sum of the adaptations prevalent in a province as a use. Thereafter, local churches more or less voluntarily adopt it.

At present, pilgrims are carrying Taizé liturgies from an ecumenical innovation and Centering Prayer from a monastic one. In both cases, as in all cases, there are new prayers because there were first ideas for new ways of living: why not have a monastery of Protestants and Catholics? why not teach people to be contemplatives in the world? Theology --> Spirituality --> New Practice --> New Prayer --> Pilgrims --> Osmosis --> Codification --> Adoption.

But online and about, one meets those who have a truncated dog-barking-at-the-hand-pointing-at-the-moon view in which church is just synods and clergy obeying them. They tend to dwell in the O'Donovan Gap in the 39A. When these folk hear liturgy mentioned, they imagine that the discussion is about whether it's time again for their national synod to cook up another prayerbook. To them, the process is Legislation --> Adoption.

Now that a Lambeth Conference cannot do. But then neither *really* can a national synod. Hypothetically, there can be churches that judges and sheriffs can see but that believers cannot.

So if the last Lambeth Conference were to take up "worship in the life of the Communion," how would they have done it? To my mind, it would have been helpful to the Communion if they had simply acknowledged and explained the whole of this process. Each separate and necessary step of it. That would have done a little to fill the Gap.

At his enthronement, ++ Justin was a surprisingly serious proponent of *paradosis*, and he founded a quasi-monastic community in Lambeth Palace to promote it. Some bishops in the CoE have had an informal relationship to the Benedictines of an abbey in France influential in the past. So some Anglicans in some places believe in God the Holy Spirit and know how he works. It would be strengthening to have a global conversation about that.


Anonymous said...


"Hypothetically, there can be churches that judges and sheriffs can see but that believers cannot."

"Theology --> Spirituality --> New Practice --> New Prayer --> Pilgrims --> Osmosis --> Codification --> Adoption."

A careful reader of my 5:45 could reasonably wonder whether I noticed any tension between the Protestant ecclesiology of that first statement and the Orthodox-sounding pneumatology of the second one. How does one get from an *invisible church* to a visible, and even authoritative, tradition?

To my mind, and a long tradition before it, Protestant realism about the *corpus mixtum* that every church now is necessitates recognition that the Holy Spirit primarily sustains and renews churches in the *paradosis* that we see in the NT and around us. The question is: where and when does the Spirit that blows where it will nudge acts of governance?

If every church is a mixture of wheat and tares, then a perfectly representative synod, for example, perfectly represents both truth and error. Kindly note that the wheat here are sinner-saints: they believe fully and well, but still have wounds to be healed and confusion to be dispelled, And the tares need not be malevolent sociopaths, just backsliding, half-believing, hypocritical, or ignorant. So yes, each is included, we may say, so that the Holy Spirit can correct them (eg Gandalf awakening Theodin), but they are not meanwhile credible guides to the kingdom of heaven.

So IRL, ordinary churchfolk agree or disagree with their synods, but nobody anywhere stakes his life and salvation on something merely because 50% + 1 of a perfectly inclusive and representative assembly voted for it. Indeed, it is just because that mirror of a mess that is *simul justus et peccator* is so painstakingly polished that nobody can reasonably trust it in spiritual matters.

But we do sometimes have fairly high confidence that even the wheat and the tares can recognise and endorse good fruit of the Holy Spirit's work out in the churches. On those occasions, what are we trusting? Not the voting per se, but the whole body's prior discernment of fruit that the Holy Spirit has harvested where the microclimate was right for it. Once a consensus has formed, it is ripe for canonisation.

We have low confidence in rogue synods that legislate beyond any demonstrable *consensus fidelium*. It is like a wealthy artist who paints a painting, hangs it in his own gallery, and then reviews it in his own newspaper, calling it "simply divine!" We cannot fault his enthusiasm, but we are wary of his review.

We? Who are this We? We are souls in Christ who are not for that reason subject to the mere opinions, right or wrong, of others. If they have some grand beautiful idea to give to churches, then they should go build it someplace. Theology --> Spirituality --> New Practice --> New Prayer --> Pilgrims --> and then we will pray about it.

So, as a rule, the more a matter still requires subtle discernment of spirits the less ripe it is for anything so crude as voting. Hence the maxim that Anglican churches are "episcopally led, synodically governed" is less an ideal than a sober report of what can actually work in a church that is more than property that a judge can see and a sheriff can auction.


Peter Carrell said...

Between now and my death, Bowman, I doubt that I will see a finer example of the Holy Spirit at work in a gathering of Christians (with some potential to resolve to vote), prompting episcopal leadership (++Justin Welby on "Human Dignity") and spontaneous reponse (a standing ovation by people otherwise disagreed on a key matter), than the session at LC 2022 on the Human Dignity Call paper.

Anonymous said...

How blessed you are to have been there :-)

From what I know of it, that session reminds me of collective discernment in the classic Quaker tradition. Quaker belief that *being in the Holy Spirit together requires unity in every decision* precludes simple majority voting. Instead, there is a topic and successive proposals are offered until one finally includes and omits enough to attract consensus support.

LC bishops did not offer successive proposals on the floor, as I understand it, but the including and omitting was done in the composition of the Call. What ++ Justin then said framed the matter, not as a battle to get 50% + 1 to agree (eg Gollum fondling the Precious), but as *being in the Holy Spirit together*.


David said...

Peter for years and years gays in the church have had to take being publicity insulted by the church. Now that we have got to the heart of the matter you want to close the debate down. William has at least been honest about what Mark calls the disgust about gay sex.That is what the whole prejudice is based on.So now the can of worms has been opened you are trying to put the lid back on. You can't. And shame on you for being part of the machine that exercises this prejudice and damages the lives of many.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear David,
Above you wrote:

"Peter you are in era for letting Mr pax et bonum rave on about matters he knows nothing about. Not all gay men have anal sex. To reduce gay love with all of its passion desire vulnerability and emotion to this prurient interest in anal sex is frankly a disgrace."

As a result I stepped in and wrote what I wrote about getting the thread of comments back on a better track.

By all means criticise me again.
But my application of my response to you criticism that I was in error stands.

Father Ron said...

All we know is that 'In Christ' there is no separation into male or female, Greek or Jew, Black or White, Gay or Straight - but ALL are ONE - baptized into Christ by the same Spirit
- created and loved by our Creator.

Anonymous said...

"Let’s keep to the main point of the post."

Good idea.


John Sandeman said...

In our complicated Anglican world, we live with Peter's experience at Lambeth

"I doubt that I will see a finer example of the Holy Spirit at work in a gathering of Christians (with some potential to resolve to vote), prompting episcopal leadership (++Justin Welby on "Human Dignity") and spontaneous reponse (a standing ovation by people otherwise disagreed on a key matter), than the session at LC 2022 on the Human Dignity Call paper."

and the fact that all the Gafcon primates, which will include several at Lambeth have now recognised the new diocese of the Southern Cross.

So while Bowman lives in a situation up yonder where indeed In is in and out is out, perhaps on this west island things are being reshaped in a different manner.

Mark Murphy said...

Well this is a really interesting moment.

David, I'm hearing you feel angry at what feels like Peter acting to close down open discussion of the visceral disgust of homosexuals by Christians (or projected disgust of a freerer sexual energy and embodiment) that emotionally drives this debate, at least in part, and is a form of sexual violence and objectification of gay people - at least in part.

We've got onto something quite crucial that is difficult for many churches and Christians to speak about, there's some relief for you and some of us that finally this dark aspect is coming out, and then it feels like Peter moves to close it down. And that feels really familiar.

And Peter will have a perspective to this too: maybe feeling that talking in this way might demean Ron's personal contribution, that he didn't want talking about anal sex etc to result in gay people reading this to further feel demeaned maybe.

I myself am unsure as to what Peter meant by us drifting away from the point of the thread.

Anyways, I do think this is an important moment: we're *talking about how we talk about* homosexuality and what gets hidden, revealed, then potentially hidden again.

Love to everyone in this difficult moment.

Peter Carrell said...

With further thought: thank you Mark and David:

I am open to this thread resuming a discussion on (more or less) How we might talk civilly and respectfully about human sexuality; and/or How we might so talk without denigrating homosexuals?

What I am trying to avoid is talk of the mechanics of sexual practice which (it seems to me) is very hard to do without denigration of other people.

Mark Murphy said...

Thanks Peter. Yes that's a clearer frame. And there's lots of info on mechanics on the internet if people are really interested.

Anonymous said...

"...perhaps on this west island things are being reshaped in a different manner."

Yes, of course, John.

Neither Sydney nor ACANZP's Community existed here up yonder, so our dissenters found themselves in the narcissistic power-struggles of the Continuum until ACNA was formed. And, so far as I know, neither the St Louis Affirmation nor TEC's past cruelties have counterparts down under, so the bridges near you may be blocked or even burned, but their abutments have not been blown up. From afar, the grass looks greener across the Pacific.

But do provincial canons on the west island really permit a bishop to "recognize" an anti-diocese to dioceses of his own church? Up here, charges would be filed.

"In is in and out is out"

Every Anglican bishop "recognises" other nearby catholic bishops as a mere matter of fact. But unless the latter are In the house of the former, they are Out of it, having the ecumenical relationship of their respective churches.

"In" is for those around the table who are collaborating closely and in good faith on joint projects. "Out" is not inappropriate for those who would rather work closely with others. My point has been that, since an ecumenical relationship in the C21 can be as warm as the negotiating parties make it, some untenable relationships should continue on that basis.

The alternative-- which we have seen-- is disruptive "drama" from those trying to rationalise their schism by exaggerating the flaws of the church that they are leaving. That is like the old days when husbands with mistresses tried to trap their wives in adultery so that they could get divorces. Messy and destructive.


Anonymous said...

"...a discussion on (more or less) How we might talk civilly and respectfully about human sexuality; and/or How we might so talk without denigrating homosexuals?"

After a few days, it will be interesting to check back and see whether anyone has disentangled (a) talk about sexual minorities from talk with different degrees of trait openness, trait conscientiousness, etc, and (b) talk among those in Christ from talk in strictly secular settings.



John Sandeman said...

"But do provincial canons on the west island really permit a bishop to "recognize" an anti-diocese to dioceses of his own church? Up here, charges would be filed."

On the West Island, the Anglican Church of Australia was only formed in 1961 after dioceses were given the power to assent or not assent to any canon. The story goes that Humphrey Fisher then Archbishop of Canterbury write the constitution on the boat back to England after consulting with the until then very separate dioceses in Australia. this explains how the dioceses in Australia vary so much from each other. there is little to force them back into alignment, but a conservative majority at General Synod may try this if the numbers change in the House of Bishops.

I do not expect any of the Gafcon bishops to be charged.

Father Ron said...

'I do not expect any of the Gafcon bishops to be charged' (John).

With what felony? one wonders. People in ACANZP who moved away to the hew 'Confessional Church', were just 'let go'. The only difference is this: They do not pretend to still belong to ACANZP (Nor are they being paid by the congregations of ACANZP)

John Sandeman said...

Ron, in Australia a number of the bishops in the Anglican Church of Australia are members of Gafcon. So when I talk about the Gafcon Bishops I am talking about bishops within the ACA. There are hundreds of Bishops who are both within Gafcon and the Anglican Communion, most likely a majority.

Mark Murphy said...

"After a few days, it will be interesting to check back and see whether anyone has disentangled (a) talk about sexual minorities from talk with different degrees of trait openness, trait conscientiousness, etc, and (b) talk among those in Christ from talk in strictly secular settings."

Oh Bowman, I don't think this is very helpful :(

We are having an organic, personal conversation about how gay people are depicted, what hurts, and what gets missed. We are touching into the heat of the issue.

Anonymous said...

"So when I talk about the Gafcon Bishops I am talking about bishops within the ACA. There are hundreds of Bishops who are both within Gafcon and the Anglican Communion, most likely a majority."

This is much less polarised than TEC and ACNA bishops are here up yonder. Yet both churches cover most of the spectrum. It is not unusual for a TEC seminarian to be more conservative, even on That Topic, than a classmate from ACNA. The basic difference is that the extreme that each house has discouraged is marginal and subdued.

Down the years, it has seemed that GAFCON and GSFA have been vehicles for a subtly different agenda in each global region. Is that in fact the case?

I have wished that a documentarian with curiosity and no axe to grind had studied the global episcopate and filmed the theological and pastoral worlds inhabited by Anglican bishops in say Cairo, Durban, Pondicherry, Singapore, Melbourne, and Rio de Janeiro to name a neglected few.


Father Ron said...

Here's a link to how quasi-Anglican ACNA views the recent saga being birthed in N.Z.'s 'West Island' (Australia). One of the dramatic lead roles is taken by a well-known Sydney-sider:

Mark Murphy said...

Dear ADU reader,

This link takes you to Justin Lee speaking at a very friendly Spark Church discussion on ‘Sexuality, Scripture, and the Soul of Christianity”.

Anyone interested in how LGTBQ people feel in the church, please – PLEASE – follow the link and go to 40 minutes and 40 seconds and watch from there. Justin leads the audience in an experiential thought experiment designed to foster empathy for the lived experience and emotional reality of rainbow Christians, and take us beyond ‘heady, theological’ and/or sexualizing responses and portrayals.

Anonymous said...

"We are having an organic, personal conversation..."

So, carry on, Mark! Who's stopping you? Not + Peter :-)

In the scores of conversations like that eye've had since the 1970s, polarised discussants have been doing morals so differently that there was no common phenomenological backstory to be found. One basic difference is temperament; another is the hedgerow between church and world. Because of those two dissimilarities, at least, the "heat of the issue" has not been the same for all who have discussed it.

You can see that in plenty of comments here.

Anonymous said...

Why do otherwise Reasonable and Informed Commentators here punch away at imaginary foes in public? Because they cannot empathise with minds of another temper without growing beyond their own.

As typists, they comment as though + Peter's readers were all striving, yet failing, to be their own right-minded selves. Their most charitable comments here are tips to others on how to think as they do.

As screen-watchers, their "organic" tendency to always discount some kinds of ideas and treat others as ever-salient enables them to make easy and rewarding sense of what like-minded readers type in the little box. So, a few years ago, Bryden and I, having similar minds, moved lots of traffic back and forth.

But that same organic tendency disables our RICs' comprehension of what other-minded readers are saying in what they type. Father Ron, having a lovely mind but of a very different sort, hated most of what Bryden and I typed, no matter what the topic. We all meant well.

Unable to map comments of the other-minded onto the world they think is real, our Reasonable and Informed Commentators conclude that those others are being unreasonable today, have not read the right books yet, etc. After all, they themselves are reasonable and informed, the right-minded elite whom all are striving to emulate. They explain to the other-minded how to think as they do.

Anonymous said...

But when all efforts to overcome the apparent faults of other minds fail, how are they-- the Reasonable, the Informed-- to interpret that failure? (I interrupt myself here to insist that there is just one interpretation that is holy, and that the others miss that mark. But let us continue.)

If they recognise that their own mental reflexes are inadequate to the task, they may be a bit more open to some long term growth, but in the short term their ego defenses are strained. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Either way, human nature has a strong short term bias.

An easy way to avoid that strain is to go play tennis or tuba.

But if our RICs have some strong motivation to keep arguing-- why?-- they can instead avoid strain by interpreting the repeated failure as the inadequacy of the other guy's mental reflexes. "He gives no weight at all to X and keeps being distracted by Y." To our RICs, it looks like a repeated mistake, not like a another, no less "organic" mindset.

If they have even more motivation-- again, why?-- they can look for some match between the failures of the other-minded and some handy stereotype. They are likely not looking for an indicative p-value or R-squared in a regression analysis. How well this match fits what they think they see usually depends on what stereotypes they happen to have sliding around in their desk drawers. (This is hilarious but interesting when different RICs project clashing stereotypes onto the same post-- eg ultramontanist papist & California Zen instructor.)

And if they have still more motivation-- yet again, why oh why?-- they can show up at ADU-- reasonable, informed, and the paragon of wisdom that all would emulate if only they could-- to explain to the other-minded that it is just because they are [insert stereotype] that they cannot understand the pearls being cast their way.

Which is to say that the more *some* Reasonable and Informed Commentators comment the crazier they become. Engaging the views of others is not broadening their empathy or expanding their knowledge; it's making them more stubborn and militant. For them, unlike others, forums like ADU are a rabbit hole to the hellfire of the happy warriors.

Today, this slippery slope is almost common knowledge. Without it, for example, one cannot understand much at all about the tactics of a certain American politician. But I remember the last day when I still thought that exposure to the diversity of views on the web would reduce political and cultural differences by increasing understanding of them.

The next day in a seminar room in William James Hall, Cass Sunstein presented the evidence-- experimental data, longitudinal surveys, fMRI scans-- that exposure to opposing views online was actually polarising public opinion. And-- the most educated on each side were the most polarised. This was so completely against the conventional wisdom of the time that most of the discussion after was methodological and indeed psychometric. (eg Would using frequentist rather than bayesian algorithms to evaluate BOLD signals have “lit” different brodmann areas in the brain scans changing the headline result? No.) Then I walked home, opened Fulcrum, for which I was occasionally writing, looked at the names that day debating women bishops in the CoE, and realised that he might have been right.

So is it hopeless? Can we never have a useful conversation about a hot topic?

We can and occasionally we cross the pond and do. But not when a priori icebergs sink our titanics before they have reached their destinations. Two mostly submerged threats that have sent many to the bottom are (a) the trait differences that I mentioned above and (b) unconscious but passionate disagreements about how God has situated the church in the world. Interestingly, the latter is a squarely theological topic, one that should lend itself to calm consideration, but as you can see at ADU and elsewhere, people are pretty bloody-minded about it.

Blessings on your explorations!


Father Ron said...

The Really sad thing about the Sydney debacle is the fact that, in the so-called "Anglican TV' episode linked in my post above hosted by David Ould, a minister of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney; featuring Glenn Davies, a recent Anglican archbishop of Sydney; and Richard Condie, the current Anglican bishop of Tasmania - all receiving benefits (both spiritual and pecuniary) from the Anglican Church of Australia - are openly advertising their schismatic separation from their ecclesiastical parent body - the A.C.A.

While it is now well-known that the Sydney Diocese, and its resident theological establishment Moore College, harboured a fundamentalist Con/Evo Calvinist ethos; this latest expression of its symbiotic relationship with the breakaway tendencies of the GAFCON/GSFA pressure group demonstrates - only too clearly - the prevalence of sexism, homophobia and misogyny remaining at the heart of the Anglican Sydney Diocese.

The really sad thing is that it took the bravery of a single parish priest in the parish of Beenleigh, Queensland, to declare his now overt connection with the incipient Gafconite rebellion - fostered by successive leaders if the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, in the hope of rallying more Australian Anglican to this Moral Crusade - to embolden the ringleaders to open revolt. (Should he not have become their first bishop?)

I am hopeful though that the majority of Anglicans in Australia will see through this blatant attempt to overturn the more truly Anglican genius of Scripture, Tradition and Reason - in order to set up just another 'Holy Huddle' for the self-Righteous in Australia. God knows, we all need the holiness of God, which has already redeemed the world - rather than setting up our own outposts of puritanical judgementalism. Jesus "God Alone is Good!"
The Christian Gospel is 'Good News' to the poor and the outcast - not necessarily to the self-righteous among us, who see 'the other' as sinners and delinquent unworthy of Christ's redemption. Are they not aware that it is such as us that Jesus came to save?

Peter Carrell said...

One of my convictions about what it means to be Anglican is that we are together committed to a Christ-centred "space" in which the kind of conversation in this thread can take place - sometimes with an edge we might regret, and sometimes with a need for guidance to keep us centred on Christ, etc - but always with openness to hear what the Spirit might be saying through our diverse contributions.

One of my convictions about the wrongness of GAFCON/ACNA/(now) DioSouthernCross, is that by beginning on the supposition that there is one and only one view ever possible re marriage, there never can be or will be a conversation such as we are having here; and thus, from the beginning, there is no place for those who think differently while also seeking to think Anglicanly.

Thus one of my convictions about the success of the recent Lambeth Conference - noting the various commenters presently decrying it as a failure - is that it was a Christ-centred space for differences to be voiced, for diverse people from varying contexts to meet and to converse - and no one left, all feel heards, and likely (again, against the perennial naysayers) there will be another such conference in due course.

Father Ron said...

I guess, Dear Bishop Peter, that this was what you experienced at Lambeth: -


“To pray together, to help one another, to share life stories, common joys and struggles: this is what opens the door to the reconciling work of God.”
Pope Francis

This is why a determined resistance to communing together can be so destructive - and on what grounds? our own righteousness? Dear Lord have mercy on us all.

John Sandeman said...

Without making any prediction of what might happen on the south, north or west Islands I have watched the slow victory of the progressives in TEC. To take one of the most articulate progressives as an example Susan Russell and the "Integrity" lobby group called "Claiming the blessing', described as a compromise position of allowing blessings as an option back in the 2000s.
Here's a more recent comment post-Lambeth. "We cannot live into the aspiration to be God's Church for God's World unless and until we repent of the sin of heterosexism and both recognise and celebrate God's LGBTQ beloved who are part of God's World and entitled to a full and equal claim on the love, care and pastoral support of God's Church offered every other member of our human family.“ Over time as the conservative side of TEC has grown weaker, partly by defections, a more absolutist position has emerged on the left.
On the side of this Anglican Downunder website, Peter has among other "pearls" the john Neuhaus quote "Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed." I believe we are close to having the conservative view on human sexuality proscribed in TEC.
In fairness to progressives, once a justice argument is raised, it is hard to see how they can compromise on it.
Of the three categories in this discussion "Conservative," "progressive," and let's agree to disagree" I believe the third is shrinking on the west island. Peter's valiant campaign in the eastern archipelago to maintain room for both views will be fascinating to watch. I am no prophet - on this or actually anything else.

John Neuhaus

Peter Carrell said...

It was wonderful, John, to meet three TEC bishops who are, shall we say, in the opposite camp to Susan Russell.
And, from memory, some 8 TEC bishops signed up to the Global South letter.
I realised that there is at least a shade more diversity in TEC than I had thought to be the case.
(This is an observation; it makes no particular difference to your comment’s concerns.)

Mark Murphy said...

“We cannot live into the aspiration to be God's Church for God's World unless and until we repent of the sin of heterosexism and both recognise and celebrate God's LGBTQ beloved who are part of God's World and entitled to a full and equal claim on the love, care and pastoral support of God's Church offered every other member of our human family.” (Susan Russell).

Hi John, so what’s so controversial about this view? “Heterosexism” here isn’t implying that it is in any way wrong to be straight, just harmful to continually project that as everyone’s experience and build ideas of normality (and natural law) around this. That clearly is inaccurate and encourages the demeaning of one group of people as abnormal, sub-standard, below par etc. Its a slippery slope into a dark, ugly sea...

This is also, as I understand it, the view of one bishop. Bowman might be able to contextualize this more.

I don’t think that having a culture of diversity where many views are accepted and heard means that Christians/priests/bishops should be neutral and bland, God help us!

John Sandeman said...

If Charlie Holt runs again for bishop in Florida - as it looks like there will be a fresh election – and the diocese elects him, we will have a test case of whether TEC dioceses' standing committees will assent to a conservative bishop. The view expressed by Russell that only an affirming church can be God's Church for God's World is not one that truly accepts theological diversity on human sexuality IMHO. Let's wait and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

For perspective, Susan Russell is a priest attached to a parish in California.

Her specialty has long been and still is LGBTQ ministry.

The parish is in Pasadena outside Los Angeles.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear William
I am publishing your most recent comment minus your remarks about recent troubles in the Newcastle Diocese. I am doing this because I do not have time to check the accuracy of what you say and because it is something of a swipe against that Diocese that may or may not have any connection with the request of +Stuart re his clergy’s allegiances (a quite reasonable request in my view since it is fair to ask whether those in governance of one organisation are involved in another, rival organisation.

John Sandeman raises some interesting questions about directions in Australian Anglicanism and whether there really is an "agree to disagree" position.
I rather suspect there isn't, having read a report from Sydney vicar David Ould that Dr Peter Stuart, the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle (NSW), has written to all his clergy demanding to know whether they are members of GAFCON or attended the recent GAFCON conference in Canberra at which the new Diocese of the Southern Cross was launched under the leadership of the former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies. Bishop Stuart does seem to be rattled by this new development, hence his letter.
If they do reply to the bishop, I wonder what he plans to do. Draw up a little list, like Richard Nixon? Depose them from the ministry, perhaps? This is what happened to about 1000 clergy in the American Episcopal Church (some were subsequently ordained as Catholic priests), and it explains why TEC is overwhelmingly liberal/progressive outside places like Texas and Florida. Those clergy who were deposed had their clergy pensions drastically cut retroactively: they were treated as if they had never been ordained. How unjust is that?
[omitted words re Newcstle Diocese]

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

John Sandeman said...

William, the Anglican Church ofAustralia is a complicated beast. There are dioceses well within the evangelical camp like Sydney, Armidale, Norh West Australia and several others steadily growing more conservative. Then there are progressive dioceses like Southern Queensland, Perth, Newcastle and Wangaratta. And in the middle I would place Melbourne andCan era Goulburn though they are possibly tipping conservative.i believe the middle ground position is shrinking rapidly. when the former Primate Phillip Freier of Melbourne attempted to move a “let’s keep talking motion at General Synod it got little support. But just maybe Bishops like Peter will show how it can be done.
If you go to my blog I have put up some divergent views from evangelicals

Peter Carrell said...

Dear John
What an excellent blog - thank you!
I liked your post on the LC itself - someone not there who understands the nuances of what happened :)

Anonymous said...

"From Judas Iscariot to the present day, the doctrine of the Church is money, money, money, and don't you forget it."

-- attributed to Gerald Bray

"Draw up a little list, like Richard Nixon? Depose them from the ministry, perhaps? This is what happened to about 1000 clergy in the American Episcopal Church..."

Not quite.

Back in the day, various bishops of TEC probably did depose somewhere around 1000 priests who acknowledged diverse problems of conscience over matters ranging from synod resolutions through the ordination of women to the ordination of homosexuals. Usually, priests had sought to relieve their problem by getting a new job as pastor in another denomination (eg an ecumenical partner, a TEC-adjacent schism) or as a chaplain (eg for a school, hospital, prison, hospice, etc.). Bishops officially learned of their priests' qualms in the meeting required when employment status changes.

Humanly, any employer that intentionally changes its *ethos* necessarily poses *ethical* problems for its professionals. The change may be the best reasonable decision for the business, but its staff will still have to discern whether and how they can fit into the ongoing work. This discernment is emphatically not about their credentialed profession, and not necessarily about the firm or its work. It is about the subtler alignment of self with God's purposes that Protestants call "vocation." Discerning that takes time.

So why did TEC's bishops *depose* priests with doubts or objections to particular changes? They could have just approved the end of their contracts and kept them on the roll just as they did other clergy who were retired, teaching, chaplains, etc.

Among so many cases in a number of dioceses, the facts and so the decisions must vary. But in every case, deposing a priest cancelled his pension eligibility.

Actuarially, an unplanned surge of pension claims is a problem, and a sudden drop in the number of payers who will eventually receive the pensions they have been buying is a big opportunity. Administrators for any pension fund have a duty to inform planholders of the anticipated effects of workforce changes on the fund. These advised bishops that it would better to depose rather than dismiss.

The list was compiled and counted years later for ACNA's Foley Beach. Beach presented both at + + Justin's first Lambeth Conference, and TEC's Michael Curry listened nearby without contesting either the story told or the number allegedly deposed. That, and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, confirms that this did happen.

Offhand, I cannot think of an ethical framework in which this is not theft. And awkwardly, ordinaries who signed off on this seem not to have believed what we teach about Anglican holy orders. But it was not quite the jacobin ideological purge of later legend.


Mark Murphy said...

So John I think you're saying you object to Russell's view being "imposed" (?) on the rest of the church, by blocking certain bishop appointments etc,

rather than being opposed to the view itself, which I still don't understand why you find so...unreasonable?

For my part, I really struggle to understand the "conservative" view of 'pastoral care' for LGBTQ people, which purports to treat them with love and respect while basically saying that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered, abnormal, sub-par, etc.

So I don't get how Lambeth can both affirm the need to uphold the human dignity of LGBTQ people with one hand, while denying rainbow christians full participation in the life of the communion and the church - or more extreme, actively preach that homosexuality is "sinful" (cue the politics of hate and violence).

The Diocese of the Southern Cross *looks like*: while we could stay together and find a way to keep talking over such differences as the resurrection of the body, over this central salvation issue of whether homosexuals ate intrinsically disordered or not we must certainly disagree and part company. What sort of message does that send the LGBTQ community if not one of obsessive contempt and disgust?

Anonymous said...


"Enlightenment is not being afraid to know anything."

--Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment?

"rather than being opposed to the view itself, which I still don't understand why you find so...unreasonable?"

Debates like the one over That Topic are polarised in that those at each pole assume things that those at the others do not. Often, they do not see which of their own ideas are load-bearing assumptions, nor that these assumptions are not data. If they do see all that, they often cannot "give an account" explaining why they believe them. When they try, they often speak in language that lacks traction with reality that others see.

Few do the obviously persuasive thing: leave the bubble to engage others on common ground and work to expand it until others can see that it has finally included the bubble itself. Why are those at the poles such bubble-dwellers? It's just easier to believe that others have a burden to prove you wrong on your chosen high ground. And the human animal is very comfortable with tribal warfare.

The poles' understandings of others' positions is not better. They pay attention to what shocks them rather than to the fabric of others' ideas. They especially fail to distinguish positions between the poles from the poles themselves. So, as a centrist with broad sympathies, poor + Peter is read as a conservative by liberals and as a liberal by conservatives.

So a reasonable, independent thinker who wants the truth might filter out the axioms at all poles, coolly reality check each of them outside its protective bubble, note anything else important that no pole cares about, synthesize a rough draft of the truth, and finally seek criticism of it from a diverse group.

Two or more such thinkers will not replicate each others' results. But they are likely to see their disagreements with a clarity and charity that those at the poles lack. In that way, their rough drafts better serve the Body of Christ than the ineffable perfection in which each alienated pole believes. There is no higher good than to serve Christ for his own sake.


John Sandeman said...

"What sort of message does that send the LGBTQ community if not one of obsessive contempt and disgust?'
An excellent question and one that deserves more than a brief response here.

At the risk of being one of those persons who lands in a comment thread only to advise people to go elsewhere on the web, that is the concern of one of the guest writers on Why put the LGBTQIA people at the centre of our Anglican controversy when logically we could have divided (if we had a mind to) over belief or otherwise in the resurrection?

That's a beginning of an answer to Mark's question. I believe that the Gafcoin movement now has a responsibility of speaking up for the human dignity of LGBTQIA persons in the face of draconian legislation in Africa. That won't go as far as mark argues in terms of life in the church. But it could make a difference to lots of people.

The moment of high liberalism has passed but, yes the resurrection might be a much better place to make a stand. At his first media conference as Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen attempted to make it central; "I stake my life on the resurrection of Christ."

Anonymous said...

John: yes, this outside observer was aware (mainly through David Ould's blog) that Australian Anglicanism is a "complicated beast", in origin I suppose because of the articles of confederation. Is it correct that about a third of all Australian Anglicans live in Sydney Diocese?
What about Ballarat? An English Anglo-Catholic David Silk was bishop there some years ago; he is now retired somewhere in England and has been ordained in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. I think I read somewhere that Ballarat got deep into debt over liability for sexual abuse cases, and buildings had to be sold. It must be devastating to be an Anglican there and know that your hard earned giving has been swallowed up in criminal liability because a bishop didn't do his job properly. But that is a reality Catholics in Pennsylvania and Milwaukee (under Rembert Weakland) know only too well,
BW: I am glad you agree with me that deposing a thousand TEC ministers (retrospectively laicizing them ab initio, as if they had never been ordained in TEC) amounted to theft of income owed to their pensionable service. In most places in the world this would be illegal. I have heard that in some circumstances in America you can lose your pension but that is a basic injustice.

Pax et bonum
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

Correction: I confused Ballarat, Victoria, with Bathurst, NSW
Australia is a big place!

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

From a current project, I have digressed to pay unexpected attention to Stephen Tempier, the archbishop of Paris who on 7th March 1277 famously condemned 219 propositions being debated there. Were he alive today, he might condemn propositions like these--

There is no difference between the ethic proper to a disciple of Jesus and the ethic proper to a good citizen.

Thinking with the church is agreement with propositions that it approves.

Thinking with the church is improvising as a character in the story begun in the scriptures.


Justice is a characteristic virtue of churches and higher than faith, hope, and love.

The more uncompromisingly a church pursues justice the more truly churchly it is.

The whole truth of every social institution is the testimony of those who resent it.


Churches exist to change the world around them.

Churches have no inner life of their own that is not for the sake of the world.

Churches are civic institutions with distinct brands of ritual.

Individuals may have a mystical life in the Son, but a community in the Body cannot.


Science is a characteristic activity of churches and higher than baptism, eucharist, and penance.

In the human sciences, consensus emerges simply, swiftly, and self-evidently when the church’s need for it arises.

Once scientific consensus has emerged in the human sciences, believers are obliged to accept it.

While scientific consensus has not been reached, believers are obliged to accept by faith what the church declares to be known by reason.

In a tension between scientific consensus and the *consensus fidelium*, the former always corrects the latter.

If any say that science is an all too human activity that only advances one funeral at a time, let them be anathema.


Churches of the past sinned in not anticipating the superior knowledge and mores of the present.

God has undeniably revealed that each marriage ends with the death of a spouse.

God has undeniably revealed that St Paul erred in commending celibacy.

The church cannot possibly have a call from God to promote celibacy.

Because God wills that sex be a strictly individual matter, the social and economic effects of non-procreation are not important to the church.

Spiritually, sex is the same in all from puberty to death.


Case studies show that no part of the knowledge of God is influenced by the example of a father.

In God’s sight, a man who impregnates a woman has the same responsibility to her that he would have to a man that he similarly loved.

To God, a child born from purchased sperm has no relationship with the seller and vice versa.

God sets no limit to the influence that parents may exert on the the genetics and epigenetics of their descendants.


God has said nothing to men about women and nothing to women about men.

Christ on the cross did not reconcile women to men or vice versa.

God is indifferent to concord and discord between the sexes, whether in churches or in societies.

Everything awry in human sexuality is reparable in the present aeon without divine assistance .

God has revealed that nothing in human sexuality is tragic or evil.

A church that does no weddings is is no church at all.


BTW, any time-traveling readers who happen to be debating these in C13 Paris have a week to ask the archbishop or his chancellor for a penance. After that, excommunication.


John Sandeman said...

William, Bathurst's main debt was over loans taken out to set up schools in Dubbo and Orange. the diocese has now sold all of its schools. there were smaller but still substantial payments for sexual abuse. The diocese attempted to repudiate the debt and lost a court case that should never have been brought. At present, the Diocese of Sydney is funding Bathurst's bishop and diocesan registry. Bishop Mark Calder is making a good job of rebuilding the diocese and has just moved past the halfway mark in finding ministers for a pile of vacant parishes, and the people of the diocese can rejoice in that.

Father Ron said...

John said "The moment of high liberalism has passed but, yes the resurrection might be a much better place to make a stand. At his first media conference as Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen attempted to make it central; "I stake my life on the resurrection of Christ."

I guess most Anglicans believe in the Resurrection of Christ. The thing is, what do you do about it?

Do you actively split away from your parent Church in the Body of Christ because you doubt the will of God to redeem those who, leading lives of prayer, sacramental fellowship with others in Christ, and personal reflection, think differently from you on how the interpret the scriptures? If the Death and Resurrection of Jesus means anything it means that, by his death and resurrection Christ has redeemed the world.

Is it the task of any Church Leader to deny anyone that free gift of our Creator? Does not judgement belong to God alone? And did not Jesus say that 'God alone is Good? How can we set ourselves up as paragons of virtue; rather than as poor beggars showing other showing other beggars where to find Bread? (Jesu, Mercy; Mary, Pray for us sinnners).

Mark Murphy said...

In response Bowman, the question that has yet been fully spoken to, at least in this ADU thread, is:

What is a *Christian* vision for same-sex marriage? I.e. How would that differ from a "state" (secular political) one?

Mark Murphy said...

Thanks John. I enjoyed the article by Lance, though I had to ignore the line that "western provinces of the Anglican Communion are in need of reform in favour of (re)submission to the supreme authority of Holy Scripture" (ugh! - death to the Paper Pope!) and just keep reading for the good bits.

Good to hear him raising this issue. So what is the answer....Peter, John, Bowman, Archbishop Tempier: why these schismatic movements in the US, NZ, and now Oz over homosexuality, when everyone stayed together when the resurrection of Jesus was being shaken? If no one is able to enlighten me differently, I'm sticking with sexual repression and primitive scapegoating.

Mark Murphy said...

Can I suggest a starting point:

The intimate, committed relationship (between two same-sex people) becomes a way of knowing, embodying, and birthing Christ's love and presence in the world.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mark,
The answer to your question often goes something like this:
When bishops were questioning the resurrection, no general synod or convention actually backed them up by changing the creeds (or omitting them) or othewise promulgating change to doctrine in constitutional or liturgical statements.
Now, has come an issue on which (it is argued) Scripture is clear (like with the resurrection) but nevertheless general synods/conventions have made a change (in fact, or, it is argued) to doctrine, and thus a line has been crossed (against the authority of Scripture) which was never crossed previously.
Questions still arise (e.g.) what change has actually occurred (so, for instance, changes in TEC/Scotland are different to changes in ACANZP/Australia); and whether there is a need to respond to such change via disaffiliation; and whether or not sufficient protection exists in each province for those whose conscience theologically differs from the promulgated change.
Clearly those who disaffiliate think there is either good reason to leave or insufficient protection should they stay or both.
Yet, I found I could go to Lambeth and find conservative TEC bishops who had not felt the need to leave … and bishops from Australia with similar convictions to Sydney bishops but feeling they should be at Lambeth rather than staying away.
We live in interesting times!

Mark Murphy said...

Thanks Peter. That helps.

Presumably a traditionalist group could have asked synod (like Global South asked Lambeth) etc to confirm that the full resurrection of Christ's body is an essential part of Christian doctrine. Maybe that happened?

And as far as I understand nothing has changed to the....what do we say, "statutes"....of the AC in Aotearoa and Polynesia, and yet we have a schismatic group. That's the case in Oz too, isn't it?

Is it specified, and where in our church...constitution? Prayer Book?...that Christian ministers need to be heterosexual, that civil unions can't be blessed, that marriage is between a man and a woman?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark.

"What is a *Christian* vision for same-sex marriage? I.e. How would that differ from a "state" (secular political) one?"

As it is 3 am here, I am skipping the salient story of why and how, after millennia of family ceremonies, churches took charge of weddings in the C10-13, thereby blundering into the question whether the legal procedure, when done in a church, was then also in some sense a sacrament.

The state sees rights and property arranged so that two people are a sort of legal corporation. The human community sees pairbonding, which happens among mammals generally. Protestant churches, defending against a view that celibacy is the preferred state of life, have had a vision of MWM as *condition of life* (39A) that is as much a school of virtue as a monastery. Which is substantively the argument for SSM.

"why these schismatic movements in the US, NZ, and now Oz over homosexuality, when everyone stayed together when the resurrection of Jesus was being shaken?"

Up here, everyone didn't stay together. Schisms that now belong to ACNA have been splitting from TEC since the early C19.

In this latest episode, TEC had fairly conservative leadership at the top even as John's high liberalism was roiling some seminaries and dioceses below it. In those years, schism would have been surrendering when conservatives had the high ground. Why would they do that?

For example, the Virginia Theological Seminary outside Washington was split between its traditional evangelicalism and the liberalism that began to influence the three Virginia dioceses in the 1930s. The truce kept an uneasy peace by allowing each side to control certain appointments in the faculty. But some nevertheless began to plan for a future outside TEC.

When TEC suddenly had liberal leaders, they promoted the ordination of women. Since Anglicans care about orders even more than they care about sex, quixotic bishops from overseas consecrated rogue bishops for the hodge podge known as the Continuum to save the succession in North America.

Meanwhile, at VTS, liberals voted against tenure for the evangelical nominee in Church History. That violated the truce that had kept the peace. Evangelicals on the faculty quietly laid plans for a new independent seminary outside Pittsburgh, the Trinity School for Ministry. Trinity is now a seminary for ACNA.

So when GAFCON and the GSFA formed, something more ambitious than just another schism was already beginning to coalesce from the swirling dust up here. After some false starts, a symbiotic relationship developed among GAFCON, the GSFA, and ACNA. Now that relationship is the template for entryism down under.

Conservatives used to pound tables demanding that something be done about a certain Virginia liberal named John Spong, eventually Bishop of Newark. Now we know that those playing the long game had responded to such "high liberals," as our John calls them, by building the new institutions and relationships that eventually made the ACNA possible.

Homosexuality? It was useful as a *casus bellum* that lay people on all continents could understand. It could easily be tied to the favourite topic of Anglican clergy, holy orders. But even if That Topic had somehow cooled off, I still think the reaction set in motion by excesses of the 1960s-70s would have resulted in something like ACNA.


Anonymous said...


A few times lately, + Peter has mentioned meeting conservative bishops from TEC. Of course he did!

TEC is not liberal. Although thin on the ground, it's so diverse, decentralised, and expansive as to be a communion in itself. So here and there we find pockets of this and that. When Episcopalians are liberal, they can be very liberal. When conservative, they can be very, very conservative.

Outbreaks of angst about something done up here have come most quickly to minds that set their expectations for Communion members around oh The Church of Wales. A true national church comparable to say The Church of Sweden or The Church of Greece where everybody is willing to accept the consensus that emerges from their one conversation about a shared tradition facing common local problems.

TEC has never been that. It reflects the kaleidoscope of the American experience. A controversial General Convention vote does not so much declare the deep consensus of a united body as remove a restriction on some pesky group that is violating it anyway.

The drum-beating for *eucharist without baptism* up here is a case in point. The proponents say that they are already doing it. Their diocesan canons already permit what the national canons forbid. They just don't want to be in violation of a national canon when they do what they do. Since they have to attend the General Convention anyway, they may as well lobby for change. So, convention after convention, they wear down the resistance of the rest of the dioceses. If they succeed, this will not stop *baptism before eucharist* anywhere. It will pound another nail in the coffin of national norms. Some care, some don't.

But then, the eucharists that I attended in my first year of university were in Latin. On the ground, the Episcopalian chaplaincy-- in evangelical Southern Virginia of all dioceses-- was celebrating *ad orientem* in the Use of Sarum, whilst the Catholic one was slide shows and folk songs with microphones in a hall. The canon law rationale was that the site was both a *royal peculiar* and a *collegiate chapel* in which Latin was therefore doubly permitted by the pertinent canons. That there was a canon law rationale, never mind that one, was nearly as startling a *ressourcement* as the rite.

The takeaway here is not so much an evaluation of TEC-- what would be the point?-- as a clarification that persons and places vary-- temperamentally, developmentally, and so involuntarily-- in the degree of cohesion that they expect in a church. Not only are those expectations often behind their initial judgments about this or that beating of drums, but travellers may change their minds when they hear the drumbeat again in settings that are more wild or civil.

Which is to say that *wild* and *civil* cut across many senses of *conservative* and *liberal*. But that is a topic for another day.