Thursday, April 30, 2015

My argument against Same Sex Marriage

"I realized that the argument in support of gay marriage is predicated on one audaciously bald-faced lie: the lie that same-sex relationships are inherently equal to heterosexual relationships. It only takes a moment of objective thought to realize that the union of two men or two women is a drastically different arrangement than the union of a man and a woman. It’s about time we realize this very basic truth and stop pretending that all relationships are created equal.
Why was government invited to regulate marriages but not other interpersonal relationships, like friendships?
This inherent inequality is often overlooked by same-sex marriage advocates because they lack a fundamental understanding of what marriage actually is. It seems as though most people view marriage as little more than a love contract. Two people fall in love, agree to stick together (for a while, at least), then sign on the dotted line. If marriage is just a love contract, then surely same-sex couples should be allowed to participate in this institution. After all, two men or two women are capable of loving each other just as well as a man and a woman.
But this vapid understanding of marriage leaves many questions unanswered. If marriage is little more than a love contract, why do we need government to get involved? Why was government invited to regulate marriages but not other interpersonal relationships, like friendships? Why does every religion hold marriage to be a sacred and divine institution? Surely marriage must be more than just a love contract.

Government Is Involved in Marriage Because It Creates Babies

People have forgotten that the defining feature of marriage, the thing that makes marriage marriage, is the sexual complementarity of the people involved. Marriage is often correctly viewed as an institution deeply rooted in religious tradition. But people sometimes forget that marriage is also based in science. When a heterosexual couple has sex, a biological reaction can occur that results in a new human life.
Government got into the marriage business to ensure that these new lives are created in a responsible manner. This capacity for creating new life is what makes marriage special. No matter how much we try, same-sex couples will never be able to create a new life. If you find that level of inequality offensive, take it up with Mother Nature. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples relegates this once noble institution to nothing more than a lousy love contract. This harms all of society by turning marriage, the bedrock of society, into a meaningless anachronism.

A Good Dad Puts Kids First

Same-sex relationships not only lack the ability to create children, but I believe they are also suboptimal environments for raising children. ... But the first rule of fatherhood is that a good dad will put the needs of his children before his own—and every child needs a mom and a dad. Period. I could never forgive myself for ripping a child away from his mother so I could selfishly live out my dreams.
Same-sex relationships, by design, require children to be removed from one or more of their biological parents and raised absent a father or mother. This hardly seems fair. So much of what we do as a society prioritizes the needs of adults over the needs of children. Social Security and Medicare rob the young to pay the old. The Affordable Care Act requires young and healthy people to buy insurance to subsidize the cost for the old and sick. Our schools seem more concerned with keeping the teachers unions happy than they are educating our children. Haven’t children suffered enough to make adults’ lives more convenient? For once, it would be nice to see our society put the needs of children first. Let’s raise them in homes where they can enjoy having both a mom and a dad. We owe them that.
At its core, the institution of marriage is all about creating and sustaining families. Over thousands of years of human civilization, the brightest minds have been unable to come up with a successful alternative. Yet in our hubris we assume we know better. Americans need to realize that same-sex relationships will never be equal to traditional marriages."

You have probably spotted that I didn't actually write this argument (which I agree with) since it is obviously written in an American context.

What you may not have spotted is the provenance from which the argument comes. Read the whole piece here ... you might be surprised :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Crazy bad world/church?

Surveying the blogs my eye spotted a story about a bishop returning from ACNA to TEC! I think I could write some of the comments I expect to see about this one :)

But that led me to check out Titus One Nine which is running this sequence of stories as I write. (The headings are my own ... tongue might be in cheek). Not all items on T19's sequence are included here.

Bishop cross with bishop

GAFCON is 86% of the Communion

Mohammed is next in a sequence of prophets after Jesus, as prayed in which church?

God is now a Chinese geneticist

Supreme test of definition of marriage (I notice in other links that some judges think they don't have the right to change the definition of marriage. Whudathunkit?)

Welby weaponises prayer

Who would be a Christian baker these days?

Blogger not impressed by another blogger

Friday, April 24, 2015

Broadside from Broadbent: CofE should take Jesus seriously

There is a very interesting debate rumbling in and around the CofE at the moment. The gist of it is fairly easy to get hold of by reading this report of a broadside from Bishop Pete Broadbent as he takes on critics of a recent lead of the English bishops re better provision of leadership in the future CofE. Ian Paul (of Psephizo blog) also joined in. (Some of these matters were touched on here a post or two ago).

Read a fuller statement from +Peter here.

Gillan Scott (a man) takes up the matters in a post on Archbishop Cranmer's blog.

Addressing the future of a declining church with a vision for how decline might be reversed touches on many themes found (in my experience) in discussions about the Anglican church of these islands and where it is going:
- growth/decline,
- statistics/anecdotes,
- relevance/faithfulness,
- connecting with an irreligious society/promoting costly discipleship.

I think +Pete, Ian and Gillan speak well, pertinently and insightfully.

What do you think?

What are they saying which ACANZP could take note of?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scandal Down Under: A Line Crossed?

Yesterday, driving to and from a meeting in Ashburton (so about an hour each way to listen to the radio), I caught up with two significant items of NZ news. Both scandalous. The bigger scandal concerns an advert doing the rounds of South East Asia and possibly Queensland touting the Auckland property market as an easy pickings investment gold mine off the backs of workers paying half their earnings in rent.

For non-Kiwis reading here, we are in the midst of great national anguish about property prices in Auckland our largest city and about consequential rising rents there, and also in Christchurch. Auckland in particular seems to have rising prices because of cashed up buyers from overseas. (Speaking from Christchurch, when we looked at buying a property here a year or so back, I was surprised at how many properties were for sale by Asian landlords who did not appear to be domiciled in NZ.)

Now we can and should do the yadayada recitation of the facts of trade and investment in a global market which means that if I want to buy a property in, say, Singapore (e.g. for my business office or for my children to live there) then a Singaporean resident should be able to do likewise in NZ. No question.

The scandal is not that we are open to overseas investors, the scandal is that we may be out of sync with our neighbours and their tax regimes so that by comparison we are effectively Asia-Pacific's tax free haven for property investment. If this is so, is it not time for the gummint (government) to do something about this? Why should NZ workers subsidise overseas investors when an NZ worker investing in their property markets would be subject to a tax regime for doing so?

Of course this raises the question whether the government has ministers capable of listening to people and reading the body language of the body corporate of NZ. Which leads, naturally, to the second scandal of the day.

Even overseas readers will have heard of this one as it is being carried by newspapers all over the world. Our Prime Minister, John Key, has been pulling the hair of a waitress, and in doing so has demonstrated poor listening ability and even poorer skills at reading body language, neither understanding the waitress's offence at his actions nor listening to his wife Bronagh.

Now there is more than enough comment swishing around our MSM and blogs so I have only one thing to point out here by way of additional comment:

It is time that secular leaders in the nation were compelled to undertake the 'boundaries training' that Christian ministers are compelled to take as a requirement for holding licences for ministry. (I presume such training is also compulsory for a host of roles such as counsellors, teachers, medical practitioners). No one undergoing such training would assume for a nano second that touching, let alone pulling the hair of another person is acceptable behaviour.

The Prime Minister's behaviour has been appropriately described as weird. Something also weird, really, really weird, it seems, is to be found in this blog post on The Daily Blog (the site of the original breaking news story yesterday): the employers of the waitress thought it appropriate to ask NZ famous journo Rachel Glucina to be their PR person for the day.

That is not only weird. It seems to me to be particularly stupid re crossing of lines and boundaries. (LATER: trying to make sense of the NZ Herald and crossing of boundaries gets trickier as NZH denies do so, see here).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

For once I agree with our bishops

Actually I agree with our bishops quite a lot of the time, but in this case I agree with them and with the Catholic bishops of NZ who together have issued a joint statement about the TPP - the Trans Pacific Partnership which could become the TPPA(greement). Here is the statement:

"The Anglican and Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have written to the Government asking for more transparency concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently being negotiated, so that New Zealanders can better evaluate its implications.

The bishops acknowledge the right and duty of any New Zealand government to promote our country’s trading opportunities and are mindful that the well-being of New Zealanders depends on economic growth.

However, the lack of transparency and public involvement relating to the TPP is a cause for great concern. The sense of unease stretches across the community, and includes people in business, academics and unionists.

Corporate interests are party to the TPP negotiations and able to exert influence in favour of their own interests, while the people are excluded. This leads to the belief that ordinary New Zealanders, and particularly those who are poorer, will be disadvantaged by the TPPA and all the benefits will accrue to those who already have considerable wealth.

The bishops accept that secrecy may be the norm in ordinary trade agreements, but the TPP is more than just a trade negotiation. It has the capacity to reach into domestic economies, and to dictate what happens within a nation’s own political and legal systems.

In the parallel Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) much of the secrecy has been lifted by the European Commission with the introduction of a number of measures to enhance transparency in the negotiations and to allow public scrutiny and consultation.

The bishops have asked the Government to give serious consideration to making the draft text of the TPP available, so that New Zealanders are able to evaluate for themselves, according to their own principles, the potential negatives and positives of the TPP. 

For more information please contact:

Jayson Rhodes – Communications Adviser for the Anglican Bishops

Simone Olsen – Communications Adviser for the Catholic Bishops "

Solo Scriptura and Inhospitality to Conservative Theology

Has Sola Scriptura been bastardized to Solo Scriptura?

Michael Bird offers an intriguing paragraph from a book I have just ordered.

The book is

"Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation Paperback – January 20, 2015

by Michael Allen (Author), Scott R. Swain (Author), J. Todd Billings (Afterword)"

Of course Reformed Catholicity means 'Anglican' doesn't it?

Turning from the true character of Sola Scriptura as an internal debate among conservative theologians, this morning's news also gives pause for thought about hospitality being shown to theological conservatives in mainline denominations.

In this PennLive report on a dismissal in the Presbyterian Church of the USA the spectre looms of inhospitality (if not of hostility) to conservative theological views as a consequence of a denominational change in respect of same sex marriage.

This kind of story from overseas focuses attention on how the future of church life in ACANZP is going to play out.

From a 'hospitality' perspective we have at least two groups seeking hospitality from the whole church: those who oppose same sex marriage becoming a canonical norm in our church and those who wish to conduct same sex marriages (or, at least, blessings of same sex partnerships).

An obvious question is whether we can provide hospitality to both groups? (That, more or less, is the great question our current Way Forward Working Group is working on).

A less obvious question (I suggest) is whether each group can recognise the right of the other group to seek such hospitality. As a conservative myself I recognise that in various ways inhospitality (on a variety of matters in diverse contexts) has been shown to conservatives in our church over many decades. So fears of a US Presbyterian scenario unfolding here are not irrational. Yet I wonder whether we conservatives recognise that those wishing to be able to bless same sex partnerships may have similar fears of inhospitality should the status quo prevail.

Another way of thinking about these things is to ask ourselves how we give expression to forms of dissent which may not require division of the church.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Is GAFCON founded on the truth, the whole truth (of all Anglican life) and nothing but the truth?

Nick Baines makes two very, very good points in this post.

Responding to criticism of the Church of England in the recent GAFCON Primates' Communique, Bishop Nick observes:

(1) Most of the Church of England most of the time is going about the business of sharing the gospel, baptising new Christians and making disciples but you would not know this from the Communique.

(2) Most Anglican bishops, hearing stories of a bishop or bishops in the Province of X stealing funds (or other calumnies), do not make global statements about Province of X being a church which is 'unfaithful' to the gospel.

In short, GAFCON could find, should find a greater appreciation within itself for the complexities of church life and for the everyday faithfulness to Jesus of most Anglicans most of the time.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

GAFCON settles future re Communion: "We are not leaving the Anglican Communion."

I'll walk back my promise re an anticipated 'next post' about being Anglican - it will come soon - in order to note the momentous news coming from GAFCON.

1. GAFCON is committed to staying and not leaving. Read my lips: "We are not leaving the Anglican Communion' means 'No schism.'

Check out the GAFCON Primates' Communique here.

2. But GAFCON is also committed to not standing still and waiting for something or someone to change in respect of future Anglican Communion life. Future Anglican missional work, in and around provinces such as England, is being organised.

Check out Ruth Gledhill's analysis of the situation and interview of ++Peter Jensen here.

Now a mere mortal non-player in these global Anglican manoeuvres is a bit troubled by putting the Communique alongside the Gledhill article. (Maybe I am misunderstanding ... put me right commenters).

3. Why does the Communique not explicitly talk about the new organisation Ruth refers to and the appointment of ++Peter Jensen to the role? (Note the way the Communique lists a group of advisors below the list of Primates which gives the impression ++Peter Jensen played no role in the meeting. Was he there or was he not?)

4. What does 'We have planned for the expansion of our movement in order to touch the lives of many more Anglicans with gospel fellowship' (in the Communique) mean in actuality? 

On the face it the cited sentence offers encouragement to Anglicans who are feeling a bit down about the way things are going in the Communion through these present days. But the Gledhill article implies that 'expansion of our movement' means:
- planting new Anglican (or, maybe, Anglican-like) churches alongside perfectly viable Anglican churches (as happens in a number of places in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in England);
- planting churches which are distinctive both because they will clearly conserve a traditional stance on homosexuality and because they will clearly pursue a 'headship' approach to the roles of men and women in leadership.

If so, why is the Communique not explicit in spelling out what 'gospel fellowship' means?

As for the role of Bishop Ellison (singled out in the Communique), has the Communique honestly informed the Anglican world that there are two sides to his story of involvement in a new Anglican plant outside the jurisdiction of the Church of England?

But let's be clear as I ask these questions: GAFCON is not leaving the Anglican Communion. That means that what it is offering is a mix of (a) missional leadership within the Communion that will not wait for agenda set by (say) the ABC or the ACC, (b) ways forward for Anglican life which may or may not sit comfortably within existing jurisdictions - a kind of 'workaround'.

An important question for the ABC, the ACC, TEC (noting the way that the ACNA Primate is a full member of the GAFCON Primates' Council) and any commenter here demurring at the Communique is this: Are you being left behind as the GAFCON wing swerves, dummies and chipkicks ahead of you?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Richard Hooker would understand what GAFCON is (possibly) up to (Updated)

With relevance to talk of parallel churches (below), I note this morning a remarkable analysis of the creation of the NEC as a parallel to TEC in this Seitz & McCall article here.

Richard Hooker was a subtle, careful thinker about the true character of the Church of England. (A sign of that subtlety and care is enmeshed in a current post on a sidebar link here).

That means, of course, that he would understand exactly what GAFCON is up to this week as its Primates Council meets in London. He would understand that there are limits to Anglican diversity. When diversity gets ever more, well, diverse, then something is going to give, in even the most tolerant and inclusive of elastic organisations. Apparently a new Anglican church is in the offing in England. Or is it?

Both the Independent and Christian Today journalists write about what they think is going on in regard to the meeting. Ruth Gledhill writing for the latter - she is an observer of Anglicana of great repute - is likely to know what is what. (See also here). But the Independent report is off to a dismal start when it begins with

'The Church of England is at risk of an unprecedented schism as conservative Anglican leaders gather to discuss forming a “parallel” church in protest against women bishops and gay marriage.'

First, note that there are plenty of precedented schisms in the life of the Church of England. Secondly, note that the GAFCON Primates Council has a severely limited influence on congregational life in the Church of England. A few parishes might breakaway. They won't constitute a "parallel" church.

Back to Hooker and his ability to understand that too much diversity can be intolerable.

The ABC understands this too:

'The move to establish a parallel church comes six months after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, warned church leaders that the diversity of the worldwide Anglican community “may be too much to manage”.'

One problem we Anglicans have is that there are different versions of being Anglican. The GAFCON Primates Council understanding of being Anglican emphasises a confessional character (with special reference to the Thirty Nine Articles) which not all Anglicans share.

Other Anglicans (represented, I suggest, by TEC) emphasise an inclusive tolerance for believing many things which cannot be squared with the Thirty Nine Articles. Interestingly this inclusive tolerance has its own built in limits to diversity by being generally inhospitable to the confessional approach. (It is not rocket science to discern that inhospitality to a confessional approach is in its own way another way of being confessional!)

Yet another group of Anglicans would see limits to Anglican diversity in a moderate, middle, via media manner, wishing their own church and the Anglican Communion as a whole could steer a path between the approaches of GAFCON and of TEC.

No doubt you can propose other groupings. Indeed I have not mentioned Global South ...

When the Communion eschewed the possibility of an Anglican Covenant, it also eschewed the possibility of determining what the character of true Anglicanism-for-the-Anglican-Communion is.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have a fight on our hands for the character of true Anglicanism integrated with a battle for the character of the Anglican Communion. "We're the real Communion." "No! We are the genuine Communion."

The question is not who will be the winner of the argument but whether we might all be the losers for engaging in the argument in the way we are doing. Without the Covenant to guide us we are like boxers before the Marquess of Queensberry established the rules!

For myself, as I continue to puzzle over what true Anglicanism is or should be, which may amount to no more than 'This is the kind of Anglican I will try to be', I keep coming back to a few basics. Next post ...

Friday, April 10, 2015

The best (but flawed?) book you will read in 2015 on same sex relationships?

Ian Paul at Psephizo is reviewing in two parts a new book by Robert Song, a British ethicist.

The book is: Covenant and Calling: towards a theology of same-sex relationships

Part One of the Review is here.

Part Two of the Review [will be added when it comes to hand] is here.

The last part of the last sentence by Ian Paul reads, 'what we are left with is a lucid, elegant and powerful theological case for retaining much of the church’s current teaching on the nature of marriage.'

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Anglican Communion at Johannine crossroads?

I recently read a very interesting analysis of the composition of John's Gospel which proposes a two stage composition.* The first stage effectively conveyed a gospel of egalitarian love for a charismatic church untrammelled by the structure of an institution.

Paradoxically, this stage, reaching back to the egalitarian, charismatic kingdom brokered by Jesus himself constitutes reason to think that the Johannine author of the gospel was, at this stage at least, the Apostle John, son of Zebedee.

The second stage, including the addition of John 21 with its rapprochement between the church of the Beloved Disciple and the church of Peter, evidences a church evolving out of the free charismatic movement of Jesus into the institution we continue to have, an institution required to deal decisively with false teachers. The perils of false teachers for the Johannine church are charted through the three Epistles of John; these, on the theory, being composed between the first and second stages of the Gospel.

This is not the only occasion within the New Testament to discern tension between the (original) charismatic and (emerging) institutional church (compare, e.g., 1 Corinthians with the Pastoral Epistles, or Matthew's Gospel with Mark's Gospel).

Running through church history this kind of tension continues as new movements of the Spirit break out and the organisation of the church variously resists or incorporates the movement. A notable British success at incorporation was the Rome-oriented incorporation of the Celtic church at the Synod of Whitby. A notable Anglican failure at incorporation was Methodism which became the Methodist church.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have the Anglican Communion at the crossroads. Will this Communion which has neither resisted nor incorporated the (alleged) movement of the Spirit within TEC find a 'way forward' which clarifies the Communion's approach to same sex marriage? Will this Communion which so far through nearly 150 years existence has resisted becoming overly institutionalised find new momentum towards being an institution in the sense of a 'global church' rather than a communion? Or, will the next few years see the Communion quietly evolve into a series of Anglican movements, ungoverned by prelate or constitution? It is already evolving in that direction but it is not yet determined that we will end all desire to be a global church.

Apropos of which, a comment on the previous post is very interesting! See here.

[*Paul N. Anderson, "The Community that Raymond Brown Left Behind: Reflections on the Johannine Dialectical Situation," in Culpepper, R. Alan and Anderson, Paul N. (eds) Communities in Dispute: Current Scholarship on the Johannine Epistles, Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014, pp. 47-94. Anderson here builds on work by Bultmann, Brown, Barrett, etc.]

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nigerian Cat Among Liberal Anglican Pigeons? Conservative birds with ruffled feathers?

Archbishop Welby is possibly going to be written up by future historians as the smartest streetwise ABC ever. [OK, I'll walk that back slightly: first equal with Cranmer -:) ].


Because he will not give up on holding the Anglican Communion together on his watch and is showing signs of adroit, nuanced, brainy decision making in order to achieve his aim.


Because the newly appointed General Secretary of the Anglican Communion is the best placed person in the whole wide Communion to keep the conservatives on board.

Note to readers: there are more conservative Anglicans than progressive Anglicans in the Communion so if we have pretensions to globality then the Communion needs more rather than less conservatives in key positions.


Where is Anglicanism centred these days? Africa. CHECK.

Which is the most populous Anglican province? Nigeria. CHECK

A Nigerian bishop if we can secure one would have some needed mana. CHECK.

Someone with familiarity with the Anglophile Anglican world. CHECK.

Bonus: educated in Durham like your friendly correspondent here. CHECK. CHECK. -:)

Bona fides in the great issue of our age. (Sorry folks, it's not homosexuality. Starts with I and ends with m). CHECK.

Keen on reconciliation like the ABC. CHECK.

Already has a relationship with the ABC, e.g. having preached at his consecration as a bishop. CHECK.

Name: Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon.

You can read news and reaction (e.g. in comments) at Thinking Anglicans, MidWest Conservative, Episcopal Cafe, Kiwianglo, and Stand Firm.

Now any appointment of this nature that has commenters at BOTH Episcopal Cafe/Thinking Anglicans AND Stand Firm deeply, deeply concerned at how bad this appointment is must be ... a particularly cunning one!

Go ++Justin.

PS I do wonder about the blather in the official announcement that the ABC only gets to veto the appointment at the end of the process. Ever heard of coffee? Cups thereof? The ABC dropping into the ACC offices? Quiet conversations sotto voce? With questions like 'So, just hypothetically speaking, Your Nibs, but supposing it were your choice, then who, just as an exercise in abstract thinking, who would you consider to be a suitable candidate for the post?' This is the Anglican church we are talking about :). I would be quite surprised if there was neither informal consultation with the ABC nor second-guessing by the appointment committee as to who would fit well with the ABC's goals for the Communion as well as who would relate well to the ABC.

PPS One of the most interesting things I note about +Josiah's past is that he was once an 'Archbishop' and got demoted by one ++Peter Akinola to 'Bishop.'

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Anglican Future Conference Report (Part Two)

Continued from Part One posted yesterday ...

There were other plenary sessions along with a plethora of competitive yet competent working groups addressing particular concerns that had drawn participants to this Conference. For us as NZ Anglicans our ‘moment in the sun’ came in a plenary session which, to this participant’s perception, highlighted differing perceptions of our local situation. 

Former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, led a 90 min. pastiche of live and taped video interviews with church members around the world who were facing difficulties in remaining loyal Anglicans. For many, pressure upon them to conform to liberal-minded local church agendas meant the prospect of separation was the only way forward. In this context four NZ attendees were invited to describe difficulties faced by evangelical Anglicans in their country. The introduction and the specific questions put to them – and even the responses they then gave – suggested a dire situation. One Vicar and his parish (represented on the platform) had already withdrawn from the Church; others, we were informed, are in the process of making their decisions. Other Kiwis present, however, were not of the same mind about the direness of the situation for ACANZP. For them, talk of departure is premature when decisions have not yet been made by ACANZP’s General Synod.

The NZ crisis is potential, but not yet immediate. It concerns the Church’s recognition (and blessing) of same sex marriages, a provision already legislated for by our Parliament. Our General Synod has set up a ‘Working Group’ to prepare recommendations as to what proposals should be brought before it to consider - and if supported, authorize – when it next meets in May 2016. That committee is yet to report back to the whole Church to provide opportunities for parishes and local diocesan synods to consider and debate its proposals before that General Synod meets.

One working group took up this issue for New Zealanders in more detail, but its title indicated its assumptions: ‘Deciding when to stay or go.’ Contributing to this group Australian Peter Adam, a former Principal of Ridley Theological College, was a calming voice pointing out that history showed that separating churches or new denominations are not guaranteed great success or greater doctrinal purity. We all live in the same world, with the same dilemmas before us. [Ed: for more on Peter Adam's approach, see here.]

But for Australians it was clear this kind of crisis was not their priority - or even for them a threatening concern. They were more troubled about the state of the Anglican Church in their country and its need for change if it is to successfully evangelise a new generation.  The nature of most of the working groups reflected this. How does one plant a new congregation? What are the obstacles hindering this? How can an existing church be turned around? What opportunities do social media present for reaching through to an otherwise unreachable age group? Discipling new believers. Gender issues in Australia. Rural ministry challenges. The future of dioceses.

One evening meeting was devoted to setting up an Australian branch of the FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) to promote orthodoxy in the wider Anglican Communion and to offer support to those who for whatever reason are forced to withdraw from their dioceses while still considering themselves Anglican. It could not have been a long or contentious meeting as the launch took place standing up, following Sung Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral!

Over all, the Conference was marked by measured presentations, the absence of histrionics or hyperbole, the platform contributions of women, respectful listening to others, and the high quality of the lead speakers. Out of all this a consensus could be sensed that liberal theology, and parish ministry based on this, was a dead end; and that there was a need to bring our whole Anglican Communion, beginning with ourselves, back to its reformed Anglican roots, based on the primacy of Scripture in telling our story and determining our future.

Brian Carrell

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Men offering sacrificial love, the sacrifice of privilege?

A few weeks or even a month back, posting on man/woman relationships, I noted that perhaps we could talk more about men's sacrificial love for women than about women submitting to me. I have done no more work on that myself, but today I chanced upon this post, which may interest readers here.

Anglican Future Conference Report (Part One)

From Down Under to Over Yonder
– a Kiwi participant reflects on the Australasian ‘Anglican Future Conference’, Melbourne, 25-27 March.

Forty New Zealanders made the three hour flight across the Tasman (familiarly, ‘the Ditch’) to join 420 Australian fellow evangelical Anglicans and a handful of Africans for a three day conference on what the Anglican Church faces in the immediate future, particularly in this corner of the globe. Once the gathering had come together it became visually apparent that of those attending 85% were males, 95% Pakeha (white European) and 75% in the 30-60 age range. Every Australian State was represented and had some voice in the programme.  It was by no means dominated by the Diocese of Sydney, or by the local weight of Melbourne.

We Kiwis took with us critical concerns that in this current year were threatening to break up our otherwise strongly cohesive Church. However it soon became apparent that our Aussie cousins had come to this Conference with different but equally pressing domestic concerns. And looming in the background, yet only occasionally raising its profile over these three days, was the issue of the nature and health of the Anglican Communion world-wide.

Anchoring this disparate assembly in plenary sessions each day were two outstanding guest contributors. Kanishka Raffel, a Rector from Western Australia, provided an exceptionally clear and helpful chapter by chapter exposition of 2 Peter 1-3. (How relevant to the issues facing the Church overall at this moment did we re-discover this Epistle to be!)

Canon Ashley Null (TEC) drew on his international standing as a scholar specializing in Cranmer and the English Reformation to argue the need for us to recover our identity as a reformation Church distinguished by the primacy it gives to Scripture in shaping its life and its worship.

He brought a freshness of insight and approach to an evangelical understanding of the Bible, Church and salvation. He spoke of ‘the evangelical temptation to focus on the authority of Scripture rather than on ‘the presence of Christ in the text of Scripture’, illustrating this from the Homilies Cranmer provided for the Book of Common Prayer, and the intentional design he gave to the BCP services. Cranmer’s purpose was to steep people in the pews unconsciously in a scriptural understanding of salvation through their regular participation in these new services of worship, as his Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent so well describes. (Our New Zealand Prayer Book captures this same intention in the eucharist response: ‘The word of Christ dwell in us richly’.)

Null also argued that in Reformation terms the essence which holds the Church together, giving it both a distinct identity and energy in mission, is the priority it places on ‘its Scriptures rather than its structures’. (Is it our organisation in dioceses, parishes and synods that makes us ‘Anglican’, or is it our articulation of the gospel – especially in our worship – as God’s love by grace reaching out to us unconditionally, no one excepted, to awaken in us in return a love for God?) He made a strong case that the attractiveness of the Anglican Church lies in its Cranmerian understanding of the gospel as first an appeal to the heart before it becomes a conviction of the mind or a determination of the will. A phrase Ashley Null reiterated daily was: ‘What the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies’. 

Brian Carrell