Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Quo Vadis for ACANZP, additional note

Edward Prebble, a colleague in the Auckland Diocese, has submitted the following as a comment on the post below re 'Quo Vadis' but I think it worth simply reprinting here in a post. I invite your comments - overseas commenters welcome but clearly Edward is referring to nuanced aspects of the local ecclesiastical polity or polities of my own church Down Under.

"Hello Peter

My apologies for entering somewhat late in this discussion, following computer difficulties.  I appreciate the way that you, Brian, Christopher Seitz, and Bryden and others are trying to find a way around a fundamental conundrum associated with this topic.  How can a group claiming to be inclusive hold within it a subgroup whose position excludes the position of the larger group?  One of three motions at the Auckland Synod this weekend addresses the fact that we have two groups, each passionately holding that its view is derived from scripture, from the call of the gospel, and from a commitment to Anglican traditions, but holding opinions that seem impossible to reconcile.

I agree with Christopher Seitz that the gospel places a particular burden on majorities – what might be called a liberal majority in Auckland and Waiapu, and a conservative majority in Nelson.  (Again, please excuse the use of very inaccurate labels to avoid lots of other words).  It is not appropriate for the majority to say, “ Look, we had a vote – we won, you lost, get over it.”  I suggest that it is equally inappropriate for a minority to hold out for many years preventing an action that a majority of their sisters and brothers believe to be a response to gospel imperatives.

If we are determined, as we seem to be, not to divide on this issue, then we will have to keep talking, and talking and talking to each other until we find a way forward.  In the meantime, life has to go on.  So we come to Brian’s “mixed economy”.  I agree with him; it seems likely that General Synod will decide that some of these decisions may be made at diocesan level.  But while that would prevent the probable liberal majority nationwide having a free hand, it would not solve anything at diocesan level.  What happens to the conservatives in Auckland, or the liberals (I presume there are some) in Nelson?  I really don’t think the Tikanga structure helps here, as that was a solution to a quite different problem,  but our willingness to do something that radical should open us to ways forward that  may seem equally far-fetched.

So how about this for an idea?  General synod indeed authorises dioceses (and Tikanga Maori bishoprics)to decide whether they will bless same-sex unions, and whether they will ordain openly gay/lesbian candidates.  There would also be an agreement that we allow ourselves a transition period of say ten years.  The dioceses would then be authorised to allow a number of parishes in each diocese (say the lesser of 10% or five parishes) to be seconded by another diocese which holds to a different approach.  The synods of the home diocese and the seconding one would each have to agree, but the parish would transfer its financial contribution to the seconding diocese, which would be responsible for appointments, confirmations, ordinations etc.   After ten years, there would be another Ma whea? Commission or similar, and we would make a permanent solution, informed by 10 years experience.  Presumably a later General synod could extend the arrangements, but the presumption would be that all parishes revert to their home dioceses after the transitional period.
So if Auckland Dunedin and Waiapu permitted same-sex blessings/marriages and ordinations, but Nelson and Christchurch did not (I won’t guess about Wellington, W & T, or the TM bishoprics) it might be that four or five Auckland parishes plus Holy Trinity Tauranga might join Nelson for ten years, and 3 or 4 Christchurch parishes might join Dunedin.

This would not be the same as the CofE flying bishops, as authority to the seconding bishop would be clearly delegated by the home bishop.  The bishops would hate it, but I think this would allow a sort of Gamaliel approach for a decade or so, in a situation where public opinion is changing much faster than we are able to keep up with.
What do you think?"

I will tell you what I think ... eventually, and perhaps only after getting through our own local synod this weekend!


Anonymous said...

The Rev Edward Prebble's comments look as though they could be accommodated within option 3 of the submission to Ma Whea by Rt Rev Richard Ellena (easily googleable). I am not a theologian, however, so I merely point to a possibility.


Anonymous said...

I think Edwards idea is very sensible. It allows for freedom of conscience, and for dissenting parishes to place themselves under alternative episcoplal authority. I agree that the three Tikanga model would not work, as it was created for a very different issue.

Well said Edward. By far the best solution I have heard so far.

carl jacobs said...

This plan is a Trojan Horse. For all its talk of "a sort of Gamaliel approach for a decade or so" its principle outcome will be the establishment of irreversible facts on the ground. It will provide a means by which a faction may by protected and sustained within the church until such time as that faction is strong enough to sustain itself. Then it will be presented to the church at large as a fait accompli. The ten year time frame for provision simply delays the impact so that dissenters don't feel the need to immediately depart. But since the provisions are temporary, the impact must eventually be felt.

If you want a true Gamaliel Test, then you only have to do three things.

1. Permanently allow parishes the unconditional ability to select priests according theological affinity.

2. Permanently allow parishes to select a bishop according to theological affinity.

3. Let the bishops decide how to relate to one another.

Do those simple steps, and the fear of compulsion will fall away. Without fear of compulsion, there is some small chance of maintaining unity at some level. Otherwise, the laity will simply exercise their choice over these exact matters, and you will experience the division you say you so desire to avoid.

Now, of course, none of this will ever happen because the outcome of such a test is as predictable as dropping a rock on a planet with positive gravity. The church would divide acccording to its two different theologies. The growing conservative churches (with the money and the children) would go to the right. They would produce a stable orthodox coherent traditional church. The Progressives would go to the left along with every religious innovator, new age prophet, and tree-hugging granola-eater known to man. They would produce theological chaos. It wouldn't be long before the flow of people would start from progressive incoherence to traditional stability. That's why my three proffered steps won't happen. The wrong side would prevail.

But it's the only chance you have got. If you let this innovation into your church, then your church will become like every other liberal church. It will die.


C Seitz said...

For avoidance of doubt, my own sense is that permitting dioceses to remain with the status quo ante would be only part of the picture. The larger Communion would exert a force on individual provinces. So in time I believe there would be a split of some kind. Indeed, to go to a Place of Innovation is already to have staked out different and distinctive ground. What my remarks have been about is constraining others to join this new Place. Ford puts out a new car with five wheels and demands all Ford owners to drive that instead of the one they have driven for years. The five wheel car needs a new name to fit the new vehicle, and regardless, Ford drivers are still Ford drivers.

I am obviously not from NZ and unlike others who purport to speak about a TEC they do not know, I offer no view on how all this refracts in this province.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I'm not optimistic that Edward's proposal is workable. The reason being that it doesn't take account of our difference in regard to the principle of subsidiarity as outlined in the Windsor report.

The principle of sudsidiarity ensures that issues are decided at the appropriate level within the church - whether an issue is decided at the level of Ministry Unit, Diocese, Province, or Communion.

Edward's proposal assumes that it is best to decide this debate at the Diocesan level, rather than at the provincial or communion level.

Certainly, I can agree that it should not be left to a parish by parish basis. But I doubt whether our constitution even allows us to leave such matters of formularies and doctrine to the discretion of Dioceses (as a number of us argued in regard to a some Dunedin ordinations a while ago). Even if our constitution did prove to be flexible in this regard, I do not think we have sufficient agreement around the issues of subsidiarity to then form a consensus.

Many would view our church's definitions of chastity and marriage as at least a provincial matter, if not one that involves the whole Anglican Communion. Which is why the demise of the Anglican Covenant as an instrument of unity has caused the cracks to widen within our church.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carl,

The flaw in your concern as far as the New Zealand Church is concerned is that centrist and conservative parishes are growing or stable while the ultra-liberal parishes are dying (as you note). While this is not yet reflected in the balance of our leadership, I doubt that in ten years time the ultra-liberal will have any real power to forcibly impose anything.

Moreover there is I believe far more willingness amongst the vast majority to dialogue and find acceptable ways to maintain unity.

My main concern is that the sacrament of marriage remain unchanged. Companionship blessings (open to anyone, not just those with same-sex attraction) are not a problem for me.

Father Ron Smith said...

I think Dr. Seitz is wise not to offer any solution to what ACANZP does about its internal polity. However, I do agree with him that Edward's well-meaning suggestion for 'alternative episcopal oversight' is impracticable.

It is very much like what has been already tried in the Church of England and found severely wanting.

The divisive nature of PEVs is at the heart of the present dilemma face in the C.of E. that is sadly inhibiting the process of ordaining women as bishops in that Church; which has already ordained women as clergy and presumably will ordain women as bishops.

Although the matter of ordaining Gays and allowing for the blessing of monogamous, faithful Same-Sex Relationships is on a different level, it does have a similar doctrinal foundation - where a small minority of the Church really believes that Gays have no legitimate place in ordained ministry; while the Church overall has signalled its intention to constitutionally allow them to be ordained (or have their monogamous relationships blessed).

The whole business speaks of two separate doctrinal views which require two separate episcopal accommodations. To have the Bishop of Nelson (say) exercising a special episcopal ministry to the dissenting parishioners of the Christchurch diocese would hardly bear witness to Anglican comity.

To have a College of bishops aiding and abetting two different doctrinal stances effecting the outworking of a polity of division - wherein each side of the local arguments may affect a stand-off from fellowship with the other, is hardly conducive to the necessary culture of Eucharistic koinonia.

No. I can only see a future of co-existence where each side accepts that there are differences of opinion in the Church, but is willing to accept the fact that - like most human families, there are distinctions that can be managed - but without structured divisions.

Paul's insistence on the Body of Christ being like the different limbs of the human body ought warn us against structural amptuation.

C Seitz said...

And how grand it would be if Mr Smith would return the favor and stay away from any further discussion of TEC. He simply knows nothing about its polity.

Anonymous said...

A "small minority"?

Not really. Globally it is a significant majority in the AC.

But more importantly Ron's suggestion would not result in differing opinions co-existing, but in one being forcibly imposed on another, contrary to Christ's teaching not to lord it over others. Edwards suggestion allows for both co-existence and freedom of conscience for both sides, a far better and far more Christian approach than an authoritarian winner takes all model.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that Carl has the better handle of the issue, as he is aware (as we all should be) of how change, division, schism and ejections were brokered into the Episcopal Church - something that Chris Seitz has also witnessed at first hand.
It *is a Trojan horse and it does seek to create 'facts on the ground' by institutionalizing a pastoral and doctrinal absurdity that would make the apostles turn in their sepulchers: St Agatha's 'celebrates' what St Bart's tells you will cut you off from God. Incoherent or what?
Having done a lot of reading of Athanasius this past month and learning about his ministry and sufferings, I incline to think the Arian-Nicene controversy of the 4th century is the best analogy to the present. That controversy wasn't sorted in ten years - it went on for nearer 60 (across two generations), and the Arians were still a force to be reckoned with in the 5th (as Augustine well knew).
If you want to try a Gamaliel 'live & let's see', think of 60 years, not ten.

Martinus contra mundum

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
I had thought Arianism was still with us.
I think your analogy to that controversy is wrong, in any case.
The controversy concerns how people live not what they believe.
Do same sex relationships cut us off from God any more than does remarriage after divorce?

Anonymous said...

Peter, of course Arianism is still with us. No type of sin ever disappears.
Perhaps you have not understood my reference to the Arian controversy (which I owe to an American professor). You seem to imply that belief is irrelevant to the way we live. Athanasius would disagree. He saw it as a Gospel issue.
In any case, the point of the illustration was this: 1. Crucial matters aren't solved by a 'live and let live' attitude. Like it or not, the 4th century was warfare in the church, with cases of attempted and actual murder and battles over church ownership (Ambrose in Milan). The warfare in TEC over properties and the constant resort to state courts reminds me of this. There is no 'live and let live' attitude at all but a scramble for assets. 2. Nicea 325 didn't end the dispute; it battled on until Constantinople 381, and even then Arian Christianity remained among the Goths till the late 5th century. So don't expect a ten-year fix.
However, I will say this. The pace of social change is much faster than in the past. In Dunedin diocese, for example, Anglican attendance is less than half it was 30 years ago, while the age profile is older. The Presbyterians in Dunedin have similar issues, though with greater historical resources to cushion the decline. Many of these congregations are just a few years from closure. This is not the case for African Anglicanism, which is desperately poor but not about to die.

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps I should more accurately say, Martin, that it may not be fair to seek an analogy among matters of belief for a pastoral situation we seek to engage in. Yes, belief matters for pastoral practice, but pastoral practice often takes a course consistent with changes in the society in which the church lives. The early church practised pacifism then changed its mind. For a long time the church opposed usury and then changed its mind. African churches have issues re polygamy to deal with while Western churches have issues re divorce and remarriage to deal with. Am not sure how the Arian controversy assists us as we grapple with such matters.

Absolutely the churches of NZ face problems of decline. It is not clear to me, living in NZ, that there is a specific resolution of questions concerning homosexuality which leads to reversal of decline.

Anonymous said...

We have been through the issue of pacifism before, and I think Shawn adequately showed it was not a universal or absolute view. Usury is an interesting question, but it must be granted the OT doesn't prohibit usury per se, but only within the covenant community. Jesus recognises the practice in one of his parables. The African churches are seeking (I don't know how successfully) to work polygamy out of their culture; they are not seeking to enshrine it. As for divorce, if you accept that contumacy can kill a marriage (render it impossible to function through unfaithfulness, abandonment or active ill will), then you have to reckon with the possibility of divorce and remarriage - as I believe the Bible does. The care of children is also of utmost importance.
Now I will say it plainly. A church that accepts homosexuality as a "godly" way of living or has homosexually-partnered leaders will only hasten its decline. That has happened in Tec and is now happening in the Church of Scotland. Why? Because (as Athanasius well perceived) truth is systemic, but so is error.

Martinos Thnetos

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
At first sight you seem to have all these issues under control. at second sight you do not (lots to discuss re divorce and remarriage; you are not sure that Africa has polygamy under control, etc).

Is the issue for my church that people are seeking to 'enshrine' a new ethic on homosexuality? Possibly. But some strong voices are arguing that they only seek for their voice to be heard, and not for it to drown out other voices.

As for a question of 'error' being involved, and systemically at that, we Anglicans have tolerated 'error' for a long time now. No doubt such toleration has contributed to our decline. But as best I can tell the matter of 'error' arises in every generation, and it often stems from evangelicals as they evolve into something else ... Should we expel ourselves from the church before we cause any more mischief?

Anonymous said...

No, Peter, despite my Catholic teachers, on exegetical and church-historical grounds I have never really believed that divorce was impossible (sensu stricto), but rather the outcome of sinful conduct. The church issues concern pastoral discipline rather than doctrine: how did the breakdown occur, has there been repentance, what provision for children etc. My concern about polygamy in the Afro-Arab world is whether the church will withstand cultural pressures (mutatis mutandis, the same question for the west).
My thoughts on 'systemic error' are derived from 1 Corinthians 5.6-7, so it was an issue even in the apostolic church. However, St Paul didn't counsel complacency or indifference, but rather vigilance and the preaching of the truth. To misquote Jack Nicholson, can ACANZP handle the truth?

Martin the Azymite

Anonymous said...

Stregthening the doctrine of the Anglican Church and actually enforcing it, rather than tolerating ministers and parishes that reject it would help.

Error may sometimes come from evangelical and/or traditionalist churches, but it hardly equates to the wholesale abandonment of even basic creedal orthodoxy that occurs in hardcore liberalism.

There are degrees to this. Not all who may consider themselves "small l" liberals are part of the problem, and not all who may be seeking some accommodation with homosexuality are necessarily hardcore liberals. But the influence of the hardcore over mainline denominations has been a disaster for them, and is directly responsible for the catastrophic decline of those churches.

With rare exceptions most of the people who come to faith in Christ for the first time are seeking a real and living God who can transform their lives. That is why churches that hedge their bets over every issue, even the existence of God (Geering/Spong) have failed to bear fruit and grow. They are not attractive to converts.

Moreover, in a society which tolerates virtually anything, and has lost it's moral center, people seeking an alternative to that are not attracted to churches that tailor there doctrine, practice and pastoral care to the society around them. That's why liberal-left Roman Catholic religious orders are dying, while those that have maintained their faith and discipline are growing.

Modernism is a sinking ship. It makes no sense to hitch the church to it in a pointless and suicidal attempt to be relevant.

Anonymous said...

"The controversy concerns how people live not what they believe."

Dr C, how can you say this? Our lives express our faith and faith is the inspiration for our lives. If same sex unions are considered blessed by God and equivalent to marriage an unreconcilable inconsistency is placed at the heart of the Christian family (domestic and ecclesial).

NT sexual ethics (where the true context for sex is holy matrimony) is intimately bound up with the Pauline understanding of the human body and its purpose in God's plan. This understanding is integral to core NT teaching: on the resurrection of the body, the unity of the body of Christ, our eschatological hope, love of neighbour, worthy reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord, sacrificial living and our daily acceptance of our personal cross-bearing, true worship of God and rejection of sexual idols, steadfastness of purpose on our pilgrimage to the new Jerusalem...

Carl is right, this teaching is a 'Trojan Horse' that will cause the unravelling of a Biblical Christian faith in the Anglican Communion. Those in the US have witnessed their churches being torn apart and NZ Christians are naive to think that such a scenario does not await them. Time will tell how immune NZ is from the consequences of following the fashions of the age.

You've called it 'a perfect storm' in the making in previous ADU epistles and that is a fitting description in my view.

PS: As for tolerated 'error': there are compassionate concessions for human frailty in approximating to God's purpose and there is the unauthorised consecration of human constructs that thwart God's purpose.

Pax Domini


carl jacobs said...


It is not clear to me, living in NZ, that there is a specific resolution of questions concerning homosexuality which leads to reversal of decline.

Homosexuality is a derivative question. The actual conflict revolves around the much more fundamental issues of anthropology, soteriology, and Theology proper. Who is God? What is His nature? Who is man? What is his nature? What does God require of man? How do we answer these questions? The modern view of homosexuality proceeds from heterodox answers to these questions. So when a man says ...

we have two groups, each passionately holding that its view is derived from scripture, from the call of the gospel, and from a commitment to Anglican traditions, but holding opinions that seem impossible to reconcile.

... the immediate response is "No, you don't. You have one side rooted in Scripture and another side rooted in rebellion against Scripture." One side in this argument is illegitimate.

Now, you can if you like attend conferences with other clergy who all together affirm their desire to stay united. You can make the arguments such as you have made on this thread about pacifism and usury. It won't matter. If you let this innovationn through the front door of your church, your conservative laity will eventually walk out the back door. You can implore and beg and exhort and plead with them to stay. It will fall on deaf ears.

Having the option to privately decline is not enough. The teaching of the church is most obviously presented in the practice of the church. If you allow homosexuals to be ordained in one part you are saying to the whole of the church that the behavior is acceptable. The church cannot condemn as sin that which it celebrates as honored in its priests. Now some are being told that they do not have to accept it. But that private lack of acceptance has no public standing in the church at large. Private condemnation does not compensate for public acclaim. That's the problem.

Eventually, the laity upon whom you depend will simply act on their own initiative. They will refuse to associate with corruption and (finding no alternative) they will leave. This is the universal experience of churches who have followed this road. Is this what you want? Because this is what you are going to get if you try to compromise on this issue. You can have a church that accepts homosexualilty as natural and honored of God. You can have a church with conservative laity. You can't have both. So you must decide which is more important to you.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Stephen
I readily concede that "The controversy concerns how people live not what they believe" is not a great description. Belief and practice are intertwined.

But I stand by my point that looking to the Arian controversy may not be the best moment/era in church history to reflect on re this present controversy.

A better one, for instance, might be to think about the Donatist controversy, or post-Reformation conflict over baptism.

Peter Carrell said...

A note to Ron Smith

I am now simply deleting comments from you that include blatant ad hominems, notwithstanding other matters within them that might be fair comment.

To reiterate:

if you wish a comment to be published here,do not comment on a commenter's character and do NOT compare them to Jesus.

I am unaware of any living person who compares well to Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some church historian should give us the story of the churches response to the issue of contraception 1880 to the present to see how churches handle doctrinal change, theological conflict etc...has anyone actually written it up with sufficient detail and scholarly rigour...I am sure it would be enlightening.
Perry ( Canterbury)

Anonymous said...

Peter, discussion has rather got off the topic of what Rev Edward Prebble has offered. Since the Bishop of Nelson's views to Ma Whea are highly relevant, it seems to me that both sides (with some debate and re-wording no doubt)need to work within his option 3 to Ma Whea. What other option is there without the Covenant? Of course, those of you who are inclined can do an RCIA course at your local Catholic parish (tongue very much in cheek).


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I may be missing something or have forgotten something but do you have a link to that +Richard submission?

Father Ron Smith said...

I get your drift, Peter. As has been the case in the past; 'ad hominem' if accorded that status by you - only if it comes from liberals who comment. You have certainly allowed a lot of that sort of commentary from the conservative side. Just examine your subjectivity, please! Otherwise, one may just not waste time by trying to set the record straight on matters of justice in our Church, and your blog will just become one more conservative outlet for frsutration.

Anonymous said...


You mention in your post the ordaining of homosexuals, but I'm not aware that ordaining those with same sex attraction in and of itself has been considered wrong, but only those in ongoing homosexual relationships.

I have no problem with the ordination of homosexual persons, so long as they abide by the Churche's requirements for sexual discipline.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, I am not saying that option 3 is an answer, but it might be (dare I say it) a pathway.


Father Ron Smith said...

"I have no problem with the ordination of homosexual persons, so long as they abide by the Churche's requirements for sexual discipline."
- Shawn Herles -

I'm not sure whether my comment on this particular post will be published, but here goes:

The above comment requiring 'the Church's sexual discipline for homosexual relationships - needs to be seen in the light of the same 'Church's discipline' for hetero-sexual relationships - presumably that of abstinence except for the explicit purpose of procreation.
Or is there a different discipline for homosexuals?

Could someone please re-assure me?

Father Ron Smith said...

"You can have a church that accepts homosexualilty as natural and honored of God. You can have a church with conservative laity. You can't have both. So you must decide which is more important to you." - Carl -

Then, Carl - if you ARE an Anglican - you may just be in the wrong Church! Perhaps you need to learn about what the Church of England (Anglican, par excellence) has to say, today, about the situation of intrinsically homosexual people.

According to my understanding, the Church of England, for instance, no longer regards homosexuals as either deviant or more sinful than anyone else. This understanding comes not only from the scriptural assurance that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; but also that "Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS" - that's all of us - from Pharisee to Publican, and from Straight to Gay.

One sin that Jesus did criticise was that of judgementalism, e.g: "Who went away justified - the Pharisee or the Sinner?" - Jesus

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
Shawn is clearly writing out of the context of our church which has a discipline for sexual conduct which makes no mention of abstinence for married couples unless procreation is intended.

That is, the requirement of our church is that there is discipline according to our canons.

What is at issue these days is what those canons mean ... and I suggest, before people waste time discussing what they mean, that note is taken that this is what GS and its various commissions is attempting to sort out.

Anonymous said...

Our church currently requires that ordained priests be either married, that is, one man with one women, or celibate. That is the discipline I was referring to, and it is one I see no reason to change.

The definition of what is or is not "Anglican" is too subjective to bother with, let alone what is or is not "par excellence". It should be noted that the majority of Anglicans are in Africa and Asia, and most do not have any interest in importing the West's current views on sexual permissiveness.

Jesus actually criticized a number of sins, including sexual ones, and never gave any blessing to homosexual sin.

It is not judgmental to point out that a particular sin is in fact a sin.

It is judgmental to accuse others of judgementalism and self-righteousness.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and so ALL ( homosexual and heterosexual) must repent and ask forgiveness for their sins. Blessing a sin and claiming it is no longer a sin has nothing to do with that.

The opinions of Church leaders do not trump the Word of God. Bishops and leaders and commissions sometimes get it wrong. They ate after all merely human.

Parts of the Church of England, including much of the current top tier leadership, are far too concerned with fitting in to secular society, rather than being obedient to Scripture. Not an attitude we should aspire to follow.

And on a personal note, I don't trust anyone who regularly reads the Guardian ;)

carl jacobs said...


Re: '... if you ARE an Anglican...'

Well... I go to an Anglican Church. Does that count? I mean, it's a hard question for me to answer, seeing as you recognize no doctrinal definition. What exactly IS an Anglican in your understanding.

A couple of additions.

1. I don't care what the CoE thinks about homosexuality if its opinion is inconsistent with Scripture. The CoE isn't an authority that can overturn divine imperative.

2. The issue is not whether all have sinned but how we identify sin. Christ did not die so that certain sins become permissible according get to the dictates of human autonomy.

Btw. This little Anglican church I have found consists of a bunch of refugees from TEC. One day, they just got fed up with what TEC was doing. So they left. They started their own church down the street. They didn't have a Rector for two years. This is what I mean about losing control of the laity. These attempts to find a middle ground are by the clergy, of the clergy, and for the clergy. The laity won't listen. Their tolerance meter will eventually max out, and that will be it.


Andrew White said...

Talking about judging, 1 Cor 4-5 are an interesting contrast. In 1 Cor 4, Paul strongly warns his hearers against "pronouncing judgement before time". In chapter 5, he rebukes them with the full weight of apostolic for failing to pass judgement on unrepentant sexual sin within the Christian community ("purge the evil person from among you" - 1 Cor 5:13). It seems that Paul, at least, believes it is possible to judge sin without being judgemental.

Father Ron Smith said...

"I don't accept the idea of homosexual orientation as a valid category. Homosexuality manifests in immoral desire and immoral behavior. You cannot establish that it is a natural part of the created order."
- Carl Jacobs -

Then you are out of kilter with the Mother Church of England on this issue alone. And, whatever you may think of the Church of England, it was the Founding Church of Anglicanism - thus the peculiarity of the name! (strike a bell!!)

And, if you happen to be a biblical literalist, you're going to have a problem proving that Adam and Eve were the only humans on earth. For instance; who did their son, Cain, marry? Was it his sister.

Now there's a problem for a start. do you want me to continue with non-proof texts from the Bible?

A further thought: heterosexuality can also manifest itself in uncleanness, sodomy, rape and all sorts of illicit desire: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife" - for instance.
Do get real, Carl.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carl,

I don't accept it either. Human sexuality is far too complex and fluid for that knd of easy labelling. But that was not my point. Some people do experience largely same-sex attraction over a considerable portion of their lives. In and of itself that, to me, does not bar them from ordination. It is how they respond to that desire which matters.

Anonymous said...


Exactly right. Christ never meant that we are not to judge sin as sin, but that we are not to judge a persons final state (saved/unsaved) as that is a matter for God alone.

The modern secular West has twisted that to mean we can never say anything "consenting" adults do is wrong. But that way of using it has nothing to do with the real teaching of Christ. Unfortunately some in the Church have adopted the twisted version and are, ironically, using it to judge others in the Church for their supposed lack of tolerance.

Anonymous said...

It should also be noted that the way the issue of judging is sometimes used is logically incoherent. Because in order to accuse others of being judgmental, the acusee has to themselves engage in a judgement. Thus the accusation of judgementalism is itself judgmental. This makes no sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Peter, after nearly 22 hours, no-one (other than Shawn) has meaningfully considered what the Rev Edward Prebble has offered compared with what might be offered back. If I were judgmental, I'd say that you all deserved each other in one small room in saecula saeculorum. Is anyone able to offer the Rev Edward Prebble something useful for GS? Otherwise, you will all be producing Callimachos's book. For those with no classical education, a big book is a big evil.


Anonymous said...

The canard of "Biblical literalism" has nothing to do with this debate. The claim that we only have two choices with regards to Scripture, either superficial literalism or hardcore Liberalism's politically driven selectiveness is just plain wrong, and a gross simplification of Biblical hermeneutics.

Taking all of Scripture seriously, and doing so as humble and Spirit filled disciples, with the full weight of the Churche's tradition as our ground, means not resorting to superficial literalism, AND not resorting to hardcore Liberalism's very selective and politically driven approach, which insists on literalism in one place, then insists on the irrelevance of Scripture to modern times in another. Literalism and Liberalism are as bad as each other when it comes to Scripture, and for much the same reason.

I also find the accusation of creationism just plain silly. Neither the Orthodox churches nor the Roman Catholic Church affirm homosexuality as anything other than a sin, yet neither church teaches young Earth creationism.

Though I would point out that young Earth creationists actually have an answer to Ron's challenge concerning Cain.

But Nick is right. What could and should have been a useful and important discussion about Edward's proposal has once again been sidetracked in favour of the useless and tiresome repitition of arguments that go nowhere and achieve nothing of value except creating a lot of ad hominem filled heat. And it is not just one person who is at fault for that.

Dr Edward Prebble said...

On emerging from our Synod, I was touched that 40 people were led to respond to my reflections, but I see that only about 6 of those 40 offerings are worthy of a response from me.
I think Anonymous’ suggestion of 60 years would be more valid if any of us thought that the world of today is still like that of the Arian controversy. With the possible exception of the marauding barbarian hoards, very little changed in the way society operated or in the extent of scientific, or social, or academic understanding, in the couple of centuries that the church debated Arianism. The change in the last couple of centuries has been bewildering to say the least, and it is still accelerating. When I and other colleagues began campaigning for ordination of openly gay persons, and the blessing of their unions about 20 years ago, we were considered to be trendy lefties, way out of step with public opinion. The mood has changed dramatically in all western countries, especially in those under 40, many of whom find it hard to believe that homosexual acts w ere ever illegal, and can’t understand what the church’s problem is. If my suggestion were accepted by our General Synod as a way forward (and note, sharing them here is almost the first time they have been discussed anywhere) I would be open to persuasion that 15 or 20 years would be preferable, but I know that in just 10 years, the ground will already look very different.
Ron, I don’t think it is like flying bishops, an arrangement that you have repeatedly and rightly opposed on various blog sites, because the “home” bishop would still have the ordinary authority, to be delegated to the seconding bishop. I even think it might be necessary for the home bishop to retain some rights, such as a right to visitation.
Both Shawn and Carl repeat the myth that the conservative parishes and dioceses are growing, while centrist or liberal ones are declining. At best, this is a gross oversimplification, and really is not true. It is not difficult to point to growing liberal churches, and dying evangelical ones.
Carl is I suppose fair in describing my suggestion as a “Trojan horse”. It certainly would require an acceptance by the conservatives that ordaining of gays/lesbians, and the blessing of same-sex unions will indeed take place, and that this change will not be able to be reversed. In ten years, I can envisage at least three possible outcomes: (1) Carl’s prediction that the conservatives would then leave. If so, i would suggest that such a departure could be a more careful and deliberate one than a precipitate departure now. (2) The Conservatives find that the innovations are not as ghastly as they perceive them now – the ordination of women providing a powerful precedent. Or (3) We all decide that we need a permanent solution to accommodate the two attitudes operating in the church.
Malcolm’s comments on subsidiary are well made. My suggestions are premised on a recognition at provincial level that we cannot agree on this matter, but that we wish to live on with the disagreement. If that is so, then decisions at the diocesan level may be appropriate.
Actually, the real shortcoming of my idea is that it makes no provision for the fact that a wide range of views on these matters is found in nearly every parish. It may not be sufficient comfort to a liberal in a Conservative diocese to know that there is one parish on the other side of town where her/his vies are respected.

Anonymous said...

Hi Edward,

My point on growing and dying parishes is no myth. While exceptions to the rule can be found, the rule globally is fact.

Is the world (specifically the West) changing? Or is it merely cycling back to the Roman paganism and moral mores the early church was confronted with? And even if it is, do we follow the world?

Changing public opinion should not be our guide. Public opinion accepts murdering defenseless children in the womb.

Anonymous said...

In less than thirty years none of this matter anyway. Social liberalism is a creation of the welfare state, which replaces the family and the Church, and absorbs to costs of liberal lifestyles by forcing the productive to pay for the "lifestyle" choices of others.

But in less than thirty years the welfare state will be bankrupt, the West will be mired in vast debts it cannot repay, and the current economic crisis will look like a cakewalk.

The blessing that will result from this will be the end of the liberal experiment and the return of the Natural Order of family/Church based societies.

I'm prepared to support Edwards proposal because it is a Trojan horse, just not the one being assumed. It will preserve the unity of the Church long enough for Liberal Christianity to die out, which it clearly is.

Anonymous said...

I hope I live long enough ( at 64 with a mother who lived to 98 and a grandmother to 102, I just might!) to see if Shawn is right.

Anonymous said...

I think I must be the 'Anonymous' Edward Prebble refers to. With regards to my suggestion that a sixty-year division be made, on the example of the 4th century Arian-Nicene controversy, I had two things in mind.
1. 60 years is two generations, by which time all of us combatants here will be dead. Two generations is the period in which lasting social change occurs, when, say, the grandchildren of immigrants cease to speak their grandparents' language (unless they live in distinctive cultural ghettoes).
2. It is true - up to a point - that in the years c. 325-475 (the conversion of the Arian Visigoths of Spain) there was little "social or scientific change" in Europe. But this misses the point that during this time Christianity, whether Nicene or Arian, was spreading (at least nominally) across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and the old classical paganism was disappearing (or submerging into folk Catholicism). So there was in fact significant social change at this time: the groundwork for establishing Christian Europe.
What are we seeing in our time?
a. The unprecedented shedding of Christian faith in Europe and now North America. (Obama's rise to power is a reflex of this change.) The rising generation is effectively non-religious, without even Sunday school formation.
b. A demographic decline in the west, caused by low birth rates and abortion, along with an aging population profile.
c. The growth of immigrant non-Christian religious communities through mass immigration, especially Islam (less an issue for NZ but a major concern in Europe and North America).
d. The growth of State power controlling people's lives through expanding government and laws, seeking to fill the vacuum caused by the collapse of church and family in people's lives. The new gay intolerance is a feature of this, as the liberal-left seeks to impose its values and speech-code on intransigent conservatives.

So we do live in 'interesting times'. My own view is that half of NZ's Anglican churches will have closed or amalgamated in the next 15 years as the country gets more like Sweden.

Martinos aneu onamatos

Father Ron Smith said...

"Actually, the real shortcoming of my idea is that it makes no provision for the fact that a wide range of views on these matters is found in nearly every parish. It may not be sufficient comfort to a liberal in a Conservative diocese to know that there is one parish on the other side of town where her/his vies are respected." - Fr. Edward Prebble -

It's not, Edward, that I had not given any credence to your original suggestion, but I do think that odd bishops interfering with the centrality of another bishop's jurisdiction is not a 'catholic' solution to the problems of any institutional division.

As I have already intimated in previous comments; any attempt to retain 'unity' in a Church, while yet providing a 'let-out clause' for dissidents against the overall polity of that Church, is doomed to failure. It was tried for a while in the early Church, for instance, on the tender issue of circumcision and it did not work. In fact, Paul said that those who wanted to retain the exercise should submit to a possible slip of the knife!

No doubt those who thought that men should go on being circumcised - in order to prove their loyalty to Yahweh as was their tradition - would have found themselves cut off from the growing Church , not because they continued the practice themselves BUT, and here is the parallel; they wanted other people to follow their example and would not continue to associate with the newly-constituted polity.

When people are so steamed up about their beliefs, that they refuse to go along with any modification of them - in the light of new revelation - it seems that they must almost inevitably separate out from the progressives (or, even, the regressives)and form their own sodalities. That's how Reformation Churches are formed.

When all is said and done, the 'Gamaliel Principle' still works. And we shall see who (by God's Good Providence) survives.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron (and Edward)
I am not yet in a position to give my own considered view re Edward's proposal, but I am prepared to say with firm vigour that I completely dismiss out of hand any notion that a scheme of alternative episcopacy is ruled out as not being a 'catholic' solution.

To contemplate the blessing of same sex relationships, let alone the marriage of two people of the same gender is to contemplate an un-catholic development of the tradition and thus to that possible development it is entirely fair to contemplate un-catholic revisions of governance and management of the church.

Joshua Bovis said...


Just a small comment from across the ditch. There is a difference between interpreting the Scripture literally and literalistically. I trust you can discern the difference?

In my humble opinion the homosexuality issue will never be resolved within the Anglican church on either side due to the incompatibility of each sides theology and definition of the Gospel.

p.s By the way Peter, my blog and domain have changed. The link you have no longer exists.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Joshua
what is the link?

Joshua Bovis said...

Click on my name.