Saturday, January 16, 2016

Messy Communion, nascent Federation? [Updated]

UPDATE Good to hear from one of our Primates, Archbishop Philip Richardson, about the Primates Meeting.

Only a little bit of dust has settled after yesterday's storm through Anglicanland, following what turns out to be a partial release, "Addendum A," of the ultimate communique of the Primates 2016 meeting/gathering. Part of that dust settling is a comment I read - somewhere - that, in the end, a sober reflection concludes, TEC has been sanctioned for being out of step in doctrinal innovation, not for pioneering new gospel obligations or implementing justice for the hitherto marginalized LGBT community and so forth.

Critically and crucially, we must take on board the full text of the final communique, here.

There we find, for instance, an important missing piece from Addendum A,

"The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.
The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God's love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression."

We also find the first signs on the horizon of "when" the next Lambeth Conference will be,

"The Primates supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020."

And there is a "map" for future Primates' Meetings:

"The Primates agreed to meet again in 2017 and 2019."

The question of the status of ACNA and of ++Foley Beach as its Archbishop/Primate is on the minds of many observers. Within the communique itself we read this:

"The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction."

Of course, as some I am reading are observing, if that application came up in the next three years, TEC could not vote on it as a question of polity!

There is a superb interview of ++Beach by David Virtue here.

Church Times notes that far from ++Beach only staying for a few days, he actually stayed the whole time and took part in voting (save for declining to vote on the resolution re TEC). If that is not recognition of the validity of ++Beach's role as an Archbishop and Primate of an Anglican province, it is hard to see what more could be offered in support, save for formal membership of ACNA in the Communion. We now have a "fact on the ground" re ACNA and that is simply this: the majority of provinces of the Communion have forced the hand of the Archbishop of Canterbury to recognise the primatial ministry of the episcopal leader of an Anglican church not formally a member of the formal Anglican Communion. This is realpolitik trumping legalities!

But questions remain about the Anglican Communion as a communion = full eucharistic participation of all members (as observed, e.g., in comments to the previous post). It would appear from the following account of ++Beach in the Virtueonline interview that the Primates' Meeting did not involve a communion service solely for the primates present, rather those who chose to went to communion services at Canterbury Cathedral:

"We did not take communion with TEC or ACoC archbishops. Canterbury Cathedral has regularly scheduled offices of Morning Prayer, Communion and Evensong. Many of the Primates attended the Offices, but I did attend Communion."

The statement also makes clear that were a primatial communion service to have been offered, there would not have been full participation. So we remain somewhat still in limbo on the question whether we are dying as a(n impaired) Communion and seeing, even if most do not recognise it as a possibility, a nascent Federation emerging and evolving from the fractures of the past decades. (So, yes, I am walking backwards a bit the wording of the title to yesterday's post!)

Nevertheless, there is much to ponder, reasons for hope, and, as always, much to pray for.


The Guardian has a perceptive editorial here, gently pointing out the ambiguities of cleverness, clarity, and concealed conflict in both the dynamics of the Primates Meeting, and how things may work out from hereon.

In further thinking, I suggest continued reflection on how a future Communion or set of communion/network arrangements might work. Comments on the post immediately below and on this post raise the question of what could be deemed a "north" and "south" split, with the "north" Anglican churches reaching out to other "catholic" churches of like minds (though the "north" in this scenario could include bits and pieces of Australasian and South Pacific Anglican churches).


George Conger has a very good paragraph summing up the outcomes of the meeting from different perspectives (in an article probing what course the meeting actually took):

"For Foley Beach the issues are salvation and fidelity to Scripture. For Michael Curry it is social justice, welcoming the outcaste, and fidelity to Scripture. For Justin Welby the issue was preserving the family – keeping up appearances so that the Communion’s life goes on “as heretofore.” For traditionalists the sanctions imposed on the Episcopal Church were too light, but a start in the right direction. For the Episcopal Church and its allies the sanctions were a disgrace to the witness of the church in a broken world. For the Archbishop of Canterbury and those in his van, they were sufficient to keep the conversation going in hopes that a solution may one day be found."


Anonymous said...

Speaking as the father of a lesbian daughter in a same-sex marriage, the paragraph about condemning homophobic prejudice and violence does not impress me one bit. Actions speak louder than words. And I note the careful wording of the condemnation of criminal sanctions against 'same-sex attracted people'. Given that the conservative side has often made a big deal about the difference between 'attraction' (orientation) and action, this effectively leaves open the question of criminal sanctions against people who act on their same-sex attraction.

I would also point out that if this approach ('Don't move forward until the whole communion is in agreement') had been in place thirty years ago, we would not have ordained women among us today.

I am very disappointed with this communiqué. I find it deeply troubling that the primates have drawn the line in the sand on this issue and made it 'the' defining issue of biblical faithfulness. In all of their churches, there are people who have ignored Jesus' statement that we can't be his followers unless we give up everything we have - who think it's perfectly okay for Christians to kill their enemies if the state tells them to do so - who are quite happy benefitting from pension plans that depend on the lending of money at interest (described as an 'abomination' deserving death in Ezekiel 18:13) - who are not content with just food and clothing, but insist on owning houses and other possessions as well, contrary to 1 Timothy 6. On the issue of Same-Sex Marriage, I have reservations too - but where they get off in making this 'the' defining issue is beyond me.

My daughter's wife is very sure that the church is a place of hate and condemnation against gays and lesbians. This week will not help me to persuade her otherwise.

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
Thank you for your comment which I very much appreciate coming as it does from a perspective shaped by your experience and commitments on (so to speak) both sides of the fence which divides the Communion.

Even though I do not share some of your reservations about (e.g. charging interest and never killing anyone ever) increasingly I find myself unable to be enthusiastic about making homosexuality "the" defining issue in respect of biblical authority in the life of the Anglican church.

Simon said...

It seems that we are moving towards a Two Division Communion. As Tim points out above, the defining lines will be more about relative degrees of social conservatism than faithfulness to Christ in our contexts.
And in a few months it’s possible that the Anglican Church in Canada and ACANZP will make decisions, based on seeking to be faithful to Christ and Scripture in their contexts, that will see them relegated to League 2.
However, I’m not sure that many in our parishes will notice, or probably even care much.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Do you mind explaining what is important about the passage condemning homophobic prejudice and violence and resolution to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. In particular, do you see this passage as indicating an acceptance that homosexuality and, that therefore such unions should be blessed by the church?

I personally would not have read it so (but rather I would have read it in the context of Jesus's reaction to the woman taken in adultery, Zacchaeus, the thief on the Cross etc) but you have more knowledge of the way these things are written by the Anglican hierarchy and so how to read between the lines.



Anonymous said...

Of course not, Peter, but the point is that I would never question your evangelical credentials or accuse you of being unbiblical because you have an other-than-literla understanding of the texts about charging interest and loving your enemies. I would simply note that you are being a responsible biblical scholar, investigating the original situation carefully to make sure that what the scriptures are talking about is the same thing we're talking about today etc. etc.

My point is simply that in the evangelical world we accept all sorts of non-literal understandings of biblical texts. And even those who accept a literal understanding of the Levitical texts about a man lying with a man do not practice a literal obedience to the next part - executing the offender.

I am well aware, however, that much of my sadness about the communiqué is an emotional rather than a rational reaction. I can find very little evidence in the communiqué that the primates have ever sat and listened, one on one, to the story of a Christian gay person who has struggled for years, prayed desperately to be freed from their sexual orientation, been disappointed again and again, questioned whether God loves them, questioned whether or not they're going to hell etc.. So many people in those situations give up on God in despair, and on the Christian community too. To my mind, the ones who don't give up on their faith are amazing people. And whether or not we agree with their understanding of the situation, some acknowledgement of that at a primatial level would have been such a gift. What a missed opportunity for mission.

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mary
You flatter me :)

The statement is important in the first instance because the initial press release the day before had no such words of concern re the situation of the GLBT community in countries around the globe where the Communion is present.

Secondly the statement is important - briefly, without analysing each word - because it acknowledges a world of pain for people who have felt marginalised if not excluded by their Anglican churches and also makes a specific reference to the criticism made over the past few years that some Anglican churches (in Africa, referring to Nigeria and Uganda in particular) have appeared to be over eager to support criminalization of homosexual behaviour. [The subject is complex, with some criticism based more on headlines in the media than on what these churches have actually said and done, along with arguments about whether in these particular contexts the Anglican churches have actually helped mitigate what the law might have been if draconian, conservative politicians had gotten their way.]

I don't read the statements made about homosexuality as suggesting that the majority of provinces support the blessing of unions, in fact the contrary. But there is a "but" to consider: by speaking about "majority" there is clearly a minority whose views are not brought out clearly (e.g. do they merely not support sanctions against TEC? Do they support blessing of same sex unions but not changing doctrine on marriage? Do they support changing doctrine of marriage (as TEC has done)?

As always such statements tread a fine line between offering love for the individual person in Christ and expressing commitment to existing doctrine which impacts on the same individuals.

That may or may not be the clarity you are looking for!

Anonymous said...

Peter, Tim, Simon--

Thus far, I have not found a flaw in Peter's suggestion that the red line for the Primates is not pastoral accommodation of unusual sexuality, but synodical action altering the received meaning of marriage, or worse, imposing a homonormative meaning on heterosexual couples, Ephesians 5 etc, or "Catholic doctrine." From the very little testimony we have, it does appear that several Primates never cared what TEC did about sexuality until it crossed those red and infrared lines last summer, and also that the change of the marriage canon is what brought GAFCON and Global South Primates into alignment.

Taking Peter's thought as provisionally true, I am now looking for blurriness in the lines themselves. So far, I do not see any. Provinces and dioceses may vary in what ceremonial is reserved to marriage, but for Anglicans this is probably mere convention.

So for example, a person officiating according to the civil law in a public park raises no problems. Making that person a priest, probably still raises no problems. Dressing the priest in clericals using the same civil rite as a mayor or judge or ship's captain still raises no problems. Dressing the priest in cassock, surplice, and stole does introduces a churchly character to the moment, but that in itself does not in any way distort the received understanding of marriage. Doing all that with a blessing of rings or a solemn blessing or an ethnic dance approach the line, but would not cross it unless these were locally associated with what we have called marriage (i) and marriage (ii).

The principle here is that the Church can support the state's discernment that registration of all couples is a public good, and does certainly care about the well-being of all its members, but is not free to sacrifice teaching revealed by God to a social reform project. A wiser path than that of TEC or ACC is to reserve a few things to traditional marriage (i) and (ii) by canon, encourage wide experimentation to find what works best, and then in a decade or so, take the best practises as a model for a stable rite. Weddings may ultimately be less fitting than special eucharists, house blessings, receptions with prayer, etc.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Tim, thank you for your generous sharing of thought on this and other occasions. Richard Hays's Moral Vision of the New Testament exemplifies a far more humble and competent use of scripture than we usually see in these discussions. Hays's opinions resist easy categorisation as conservative or liberal. But he himself would say that his method of using the New Testament to examine ethical questions is more important than his conclusions. And indeed, that way of reading the NT inspires obedience to what it discovers more than most alternatives do. Hays's fair-minded and nuanced application of it to homosexuality can be seen here--

Working with this book does more than any commentary to get one inside the mind of the apostles. The whole book is available as a Kindle ebook.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

"I suggest continued reflection on how a future Communion or set of communion/network arrangements might work."

Peter, for future reference, read this by Gerald Bray--

"So far have [episcopal peculiar jurisdictions] been forgotten that it is now possible for some to claim that it is somehow ‘un-Anglican’ for one bishop to operate on the territory of another— - a misconception which must be exposed as historically false. From shortly after 1066 until the decade after 1837 there were several important Episcopal peculiars. Canterbury had them in Chichester (Pagham, Terring), Winchester (Croydon) and London (St Mary-le-Bow), the memory of this last still surviving in the title ‘Dean of the Arches’ for the archbishop’s official principal. Rochester had one in Ely (Isleham) and others in Oxford; York had one in Durham (Hexhamshire) and Durham had two in York (Allertonshire and Howdenshire)... The Durham peculiars in York are especially relevant since both of them were separately represented in convocation, making them practically independent of their home diocese..."

From this--

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bowman; I read it not long after it came out. You're right, he does a fine job. I like his chapter on war as well.

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
They were (by our lights) peculiar arrangements indeed!
(The larger article working on matters such as women subordinate to men through an understanding of Trinitarian relationships is not my thing ... at all!)

Anonymous said...

"The larger article working on matters such as women subordinate to men through an understanding of Trinitarian relationships is not my thing ... at all!"

Of course not!

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thomism trumps Brayism?
(But I know Gerald and he is a fine fellow and a very good theologian).

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Flattery was not the intended purpose of my comment.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Whenever I read of some of Christ's comments to (amongst others the Pharisees) - you know the ones about whitewashed sepulchers etc - I do wonder if we should be placing not upsetting people of such a high pedestal. It makes me sound rather hard hearted, but at the moment the fact that people may be aggrieved or upset or (perish the thought) angry seems to often prove that they are in the right -- when all it really shows is that they are aggrieved, upset or angry.

We live in interesting times!


Anonymous said...

Bowman, you said, 'Thus far, I have not found a flaw in Peter's suggestion that the red line for the Primates is not pastoral accommodation of unusual sexuality, but synodical action altering the received meaning of marriage, or worse, imposing a homonormative meaning on heterosexual couples, Ephesians 5 etc, or "Catholic doctrine." '

The flaw is actually not hard to find, and this is it: This is not the first time the primates have imposed these sanctions on TEC. They did it a few years ago (and Canada was involved too), and that time there had been no such 'synodical action altering the received meaning of marriage', but only 'the blessing of same-sex unions'.

Tim Chesterton

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tim, but alas your reference to *sanctions* imposed *a few years ago* by the *Primates* is not clear to me. Are you referring to the Rowan Williams Pentecost letter that I excerpted on the last thread?

The new developments in the meeting just concluded are: the intervention of the Primates, the rhetoric of unanimity and communion, the reported alignment of the Global South with GAFCON, the distinction drawn between TEC and ACC, the communiques' silence about innovations other than SSM, and the ABC's commitment to enforce the decision. Together, they imply a story that would explain Peter's hypothesis that SSM is the new, hard, red, but surprisingly permissive, line: GAFCON would have preferred for the Primates to *expel* TEC and ACC for a long list of past actions, but in return for a close alliance with GS, settled for GS's preference for rejection of SSM and *consequences* for whole churches that are firmly committed to it.

Now about that red line we can ask four questions: (1) Is it temporary or permanent?; (2) Is it notionally clear?; (3) Is it broadly persuasive? (4) Is it feasible in practise?

On (1), GAFCON leaders strongly imply that it is temporary, but that is just their vow to fight this out again another day. Although they hope that Global South Primates will see more things their way than they have, there is no guarantee of this.

On (2), it is not clear whether blessings of same sex couples count as SSM, but it is clear that until the end of time, a church must maintain a robust doctrine and practise of traditional marriage to be Anglican. The latter part of that is far more consequential, but intial reactions have mostly missed its deep implications.

On (3) The vast majority of Anglicans, including supporters of SSM, support the received doctrine and practise of marriage. Liberal Anglicans object to what they call *reading the bible literally* but do not favour excising Ephesians 5 from the canon.

On (4) Because it is unclear what church-recognised SSM actually is, a ban on it appears to be very hard to enforce in any place where the local people strongly support it. If Alice and Beth register their relationship as the law provides, and Cindy throws them a party, amid which Danielle + leads some prayers for them and then blesses all married couples present, is that SSM? The TEC General Convention's explicit creation of a new homonormative theory and practise of marriage made it an easy target, but this radical step was never likely to recur in any other province. Any less ruthless church that simply tries to work wisely with new civil legislation will be harder to pin down.

So on balance, it seems to me that, although GAFCON leaders will try hard to whip this, the red line is intrinsically hard to move, a reaffirmation of scriptural marriage does more real world good anyway, and Global South Primates may not be inclined to accept whipping from doctrinaire Sydney. Fidgets about homosexuality may get the votes only when they have no consequences.

To be sure, the gathering of Primates was never billed as an ecumenical council speaking to the ages, their communique was mainly a response to the last General Convention, and it remains to be seen what the Anglican Consultative Council will do about it. But commenting on Diocletian's fateful Edict on Prices, the great Russian historian M. I. Rostovtzeff once said that nothing in history is more permanent than a temporary measure. Peter could be right that a new line has been drawn that will prove to be stable.

What do you think?

Bowman Walton

Project Samizdat said...

An intriguing aspect to "Cantergate" is how the Very Reverend Michael Curry presents the leadership of the Episcopal Church as an oppressed group merely seeking 'inclusion for all of God's children'. That is a wonderful thing - unless you happen to be an Episcopalian who disagrees with presiding Bishop Curry: then you may be in danger of being taken to court and sued for all of your property and assets.

In the last few years the 'inclusive' Episcopalian leadership has spent millions of dollars on lawyers fees for this purpose. Who exactly defines what is 'inclusive' and 'merciful' here?

Peter Carrell said...

Timely reminder, Project Samizdat!

Unknown said...

In the VIrtue interview with ++Beach, the Archbishop says that did not attend the Communion services.

Peter Carrell said...

[The following, lightly redacted by me (because, Bowman, I am uncomfortable referencing actual names of commenters here) is punch satire!]

Timely indeed...






Tomorrow morning's hate premieres an enraging new post-Canterbury hate screen featuring NEW HATE OBJECT, Presiding Bishop MICHAEL CURRY. Critics agree--

"This is the best hate screen since JEFFERTS-SCHORI sided with a witch against St Paul!" *****

"I threw my coffee cup so hard it broke the screen!" *****

"My anger management coach will definitely warn me not to watch this again!" *****

"So much more fun than another @#$ %&*<?+ Indaba!" ****

"Made me mad as hell! Took my favorite machine gun and blasted a hole in the wall. Killed my daughter by accident, but apart from that it felt great!" ***


"The part where Jesus on the cross curses the Roman centurian who looks like Mishael Curry until lightning strikes him dead was so moving I almost stopped screaming." ****

"Infuriating! Heard it while driving. Michael Curry sounds so much like Satan that I ran a red light. Cops pulled me over, and I was still so mad at Judas giving his pieces of silver to the TEC Legal Fund that I punched both of 'em out. It was THAT GOOD!" ****

Haters LUV to watch TWO MINUTES HATE! Don't you miss it!


Scream your head off as evil billionaire [E.P. Iscopalian] leads a squadron of jets filled with dastardly TEC paratroopers into the peaceful skies over Africa. Throw your shoes at Social Justice Warriors parachuting into the savannahs with bags of money to start LIBERAL CHURCHES. Shake your fist with rage as elite [ISCOPALIAN]'S HENCHMEN blast holes in prison walls, free gay prisoners, and fly them to safety.

Advance Reviews

"Creepy! A frightening look at what could really happen!"

"Loathsome... An outrageous disregard for law and order... "

For viewing times and more information--

Offer void where prohibited by common sense.

Found online someplace by Bowman Walton.

Anonymous said...

"In further thinking, I suggest continued reflection on how a future Communion or set of communion/network arrangements might work."

Peter, I have a few books waiting for their reviews. I am following your symposiarchal suggestion, but will not send reflections until I have worked through new studies of ecclesiology in Hooker, Barth, etc. In the meantime, Andrew Goddard's recent Fulcrum articles amount to a critique of the weakness at the Communion's centre. Of course we would prefer that the polarised parties make their own efforts at thinking with the whole Communion, but given the limitations of human nature it seems the Communion itself could have done more to facilitate this.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Not that Hooker or Barth, Bowman, ever tangled with as difficult a theological problem child as "the Anglican Communion" :)

In my next post I shall have something to say about catholicity of the Communion ... which may or may not amount to part of the continuing reflection process!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I think E. P. Iscopalian will be pleased and proud! He might just stroll down Atlantic Avenue to the Brazen Head, order a whiskey, and sketch out a flight plan.

And to be clear, I do not doubt ++ Foley's reply to +++ Justin and ++ Michael. The millions of dollars TEC has spent in litigation are funds ill-spent. Deposition of faithful clergy from holy orders without grave cause grieves the Holy Spirit. TEC should be ashamed of the 700 depositions mentioned in Canterbury, and will someday publicly apologise for them. But I distinguish-- shouldn't we all?-- between permitted analysis and forbidden hate-mongering. Galatians 5:13-26.

For Tim, I have outlined a case for the plausibility of your hypothesis that scriptural marriage is the new and perdurant red line. If you have a few minutes, your critique of that case would be valuable.

Apart from that, I am trying to assess, from a perspective grounded in the scriptures, what precisely is at stake for churches once Caesar has begun to register same sex partnerships. From that point forward, the rights/inclusion arguments of the left scarcely matter. Gay rights and inclusion happen whether churches twist themselves into pretzels or not. One can imagine gay couples getting along so well without church weddings that heated arguments about them are remembered as we remember starched shirt collars, cars with tailfins, or mechanical adding machines. Arguments from the right are less perishable, but matter in a different way once they are either cool Romans 1 social analysis or warmly pastoral application of the vice lists. Exegetical thoughts are welcome.

I look forward to your OP on catholicity.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Bowman, you will find the relevant report on proceedings at the Anglican Consultative Council 2005 at

This tells of how ACC delegates from TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked by the Primates' meeting to withdraw from an ACC meeting because of same-sex blessings in our churches, We were also asked to observe a moratorium on such blessings.

'At a meeting last February, the Primates of the Anglican Communion asked the Canadian and U.S. churches to “voluntarily withdraw” from this meeting of the ACC, but to send people to make these presentations. In subsequent meetings, the national councils of both churches decided to send their regular members to the council anyway, but instructed them to act as observers only and not participate in the proceedings. The two churches also acceded to the request to make the presentations, which were held yesterday.'

Same Sex Blessings were a big deal.

Sorry I haven't had the opportunity to think much about your response to my last post. To be honest, I find it hard to deal with this stuff objectively.

Tim Chesterton

MichaelA said...

Hi Peter, David Ould has a link to a recorded interview between ++Foley Beach and Kevin Kallsen on Anglican TV. It adds a bit more to the transcript of interview provided by David Virtue:

I think no matter what people's views on this, they will find a couple of surprises in ++Beach's comments in the interview.

Much of what he has to say fits pretty closely to ++Richardson's remarks.

MichaelA said...

Another thing. I have previously mentioned the meeting in Cape Town last March 2015. It came up with a result very similar to this latest Primates meeting. There were no Gafcon primates at that meeting. This article contains the text of their communique:

The primates present in Cape Town on 9 & 10 March 2015 were:

++Ntahoturi (Burundi) chairman
++Thabo Makgobe (southern Africa) hosting
Archbishops of Central Africa, Indian Ocean, Sudan, Tanzania and the Diocese of Egypt
++South East Asia observing

No Gafcon primates. It has proved to be a straw in the wind.

Father Ron Smith said...

David Ould, George Conger. Foley Beach & David Virtue are Gafcon Acolytes, so very rarely have they anything worth reading for anyone who seeks realism in the world of gender and sexuality in the Anglican Communinon.

However, our Pakeha Archbishop of ACANZP, Philip Richardson, seems to pin his hopes of a Godly outcome from the Primates' Meeting on a liturgical happening that sounds very much like the taming of the Apostle Peter on Maundy Thursday:

"At the end of his address Jean Vanier invited each of us to wash the feet of our neighbour. We were then asked to lay our hands on the head of the one who, kneeling before us, had washed our feet.
We were praying for their life and work and asking for the blessing of God upon them. We were archbishops from widely different worlds, some with views at extreme ends of a spectrum on various issues, serving and praying for each other." - Archbishop Philip -

Jean Vanier works in the REAl world of broken people. His is a Gospel message of hope for ALL people. Let's hope that any Gafcon Primate who may have been present at this sacramental rite of penitence, may have taken to heart the need to recognise their own sinful nature, while washing the feet of their neighbour. Forgiveness before Judgement! Perhaps the only way of reconciliation!

Peter did not want to reveal his dirty feet. That was the problem on the first Maundy Thursday.

Jean said...

Greetings all,

From what I have read I would say the meeting was a success because no one side 'won' rather the Primates on differing sides of the debate all had to give a little. A statement recognising the harm done towards people of same sex orientation by churches and re-affirming the pastoral care and love of all God's people, alongside accepting TEC will not be excluded from the Communion required a degree of concession for some. The (democratic) vote in acknowledging TEC's 'doctrinal innovation' which has had consequences for their province and others requires the acknowledgement by some that in many ways TEC has gone its own way on doctrine.

The winner in the end is the Communion because given the concessions accepted if not embrassed have meant all Primates are still willing to engage with each other, and the benefits of being an Anglcian body of Churches with supportive relationships betweeen countries in many other areas can continue, having a more positive impact on the promotion of the Gospel and support for the persecuted than a division would acheive.

Tim I don't have the personal connection you have to this issue and I don't have any answers of how one conveys to a person how not permitting same sex marriage within a church has nothing to do with a lack of love or Christ's love for them, but everything to do with God's people trying to do their best to determine whether the understanding of how God's will for how we live our lives, which for generations has been the position of marriage between a man and a woman, is the correct one ... I did not read into the Communique that this issue is the one demarcation of biblical faithfulness (although it is primarily held as such by specific provinces) rather that an agreed upon founding doctrine of the Anglican Communion had been breached and this needed in some way to be addressed because of the controversy around it and ignoring it would not make it go away. I know a sense of anger and hurt is also a part of the lives of people of my generation who live together without marriage and feel the church doesn't approve. But I also don't know if the Church saying this is okay by including doctrine blessing de-facto relationships is following God's way. And having once been in this situation I can say it does not mean God loves those individuals less either.

Doctrine and understanding, as you mention with reference to the ordination of women can change and this may be the way of the future
regarding same sex marriages. However, at this point it does not appear their is a deep enough conviction within the Anglican section of body of Christ for this to happen at this time.


Jean said...

Hi Fr Ron

There will always be comments lacking grace on both sides of any issue so long as we remain human.

A nice excerpt you included.

But re Peter I thought it was more that he didn't think he was worthy of having His feet washed by Christ? Rather than denying his need for forgiveness?


Anonymous said...

Jean, the issue is not just 'not permitting same sex marriages in a church'. The issue is people who have been married legally and civilly (and in some cases in Christian ceremonies in other churches, as my daughter was), and how the church treats them and sees them? Married? A common-law couple? In a perpetual state of unrepentant sin? Or someone whose understanding of what is and is not sinful may be different from mine (just as mine is different from Peter's when it comes to killing in war time)?

Whether or not we choose to perform same-sex weddings in church, we are going to have same-sex couples come to us and want to worship with us. To me that's a far huger issue than weddings.

Tim Chesterton

Anonymous said...

As usual, Jean's serene centrism is near to my own. And Tim is right.

Framing discussion of SSM in ritual terms alone is indeed obscuring real problems. There is a gap between--

(a) social justice requires that the state register same sex partnerships (SSP) just as it does man-woman relationships;

(b) to the registration of SSP (whether done in a town hall or a church) corresponds a same sex state of life (SSL); and

(c) to that SSL corresponds a way of sanctification (SSW).

Official enthusiasm for SSM coupled with indecision or non-interest about the content of SSL and SSW leaves ordinary church-folk with no counterpart to five centuries of understandings of the traditional state of life and way of sanctification. Some who are not fond of those understandings have underestimated their perennial helpfulness for many people.

TEC's Task Force for the Study of Marriage recognised the problem and tried to meet it with a single model of P, L, and W for all couples. A superb report in many ways, it has also attracted cogent criticism.

To my mind, this report's final vision of vision of marriage ( = iii) is far too thin for heterosexual reality (cf i, ii). Nevertheless, one could reasonably ask whether it might at least help those in SSMs and minimise the problem that Tim identifies.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, and just for calibration, an artifact--

Bowman Walton

Jean said...

Hi Tim

I agree with you regarding the importance of and scope of how the church treats and sees those same sex couples who have made life-long committments to each other.

However, I think the statement issued by the Primates meeting regarding the non-discriminatory pastoral treatment of same sex couples and the intolerance towards churches supporting any mistreatment of people who have chosen this lifestyle provides a directive for the individual provinces, diocese and most likely Parishes to tackle how they will respond to the questions you pose in their context.

Although it is not just about permitting same sex marriages in churches, for the Anglican Communion, I do believe the question of whether or not the Anglican Worldwide body is supportive of changing doctrine to allow this was a question that needed an answer for now. Unfortunately mostly because the media is always demanding an answer, and more importantly for those working in the Anglican Church worldwide an understanding of whether the doctrine of marriage between an woman and a man still stands (or is fluid).

Understandably it leaves christian same sex couples in a position of being welcome in an Anglican Church but with the knowledge that that church has codes (or canons they abide by) one of which does not permit the undertaking or endorsing of same sex marriages at this time. I had some regular involvement with an open Bretheren church once and I knew they don't permit women in leadership roles; this meant I chose to attend a different church although I would go to events there, and although I disagreed with their theology I accepted this is what they believed was correct.

All the best

Anonymous said...


You said 'an agreed upon founding doctrine of the Anglican Communion had been breached'.

I'm curious about this. What are these 'agreed upon founding doctrines of the Anglican Communion ' and where can I find them?

Tim Chesterton

Father Ron Smith said...

Yes, Jean! Where are these 'founding doctrine prinjciples'?

Jean said...

Hi Tim

As far as I understand (and here I will openly admit I am not a scholar in Anglican history) the 39 Articles are a part of the agreed upon founding doctrine of the Anglican Church in general, and as part of these the section of Homilies being included as 'pertaining to doctrine' in regards to morals as based on scripture include Matrimony:

"The word of Almighty God doth testify and declare whence the original beginning of matrimony cometh, and why it is ordained. It is instituted of God, to the intent that man and woman should live lawfully in a perpetual friendly fellowship,a to bring forth fruit, a...etc"

Hence my supposition is the Primates who view marriage being between a man and a woman scripturally see it as also rooted in Anglican doctrine, and therefore desired action to be taken by those who belong to said church when this understanding had been departed from by a part of the Church. And therefore the concession undertaken by TEC at the meeting was accepting the vote of the other Primates regarding whether or not action should be taken for their latest 'innovations of doctrine'.

Notwithstanding as I noted before it is no less a concession for Primates who strongly oppose same sex marriages to agree to be non-disscriminatory in their pastoral care of same sex couples and oppose any vilification/violence towards them. It may not seem so if we think of those who are in opposition to SSM in the West but in countries where Primates live in contexts with vasty different cultural norms towards same sex couples this in itself is enough to endanger their ministries and ministers.

It appears through the report by the NZ Bishop who attended that listening to the concerns and realities of the lives of the parishoners represented by Primates on both sides of the equation with this issue and others was a big part of forming if not total agreement a greater realisation of why each hold the positions they do. And perhaps with that a desire to find a present path in the present time to stay as a communion.


Peter Carrell said...

I agree with Jean.
If we ask about founding doctrine of Anglican churches, then the Thirty Nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer give expression to that. Purely on the basis of those two documents - the matrimony service, the articles injunction not to interpret Scripture "repugnant" to Scripture, I cannot see how Anglicans can argue that marriage can be other than between a man and a woman.
To get there one must move on from the 39A and the BCP (as, indeed, various Anglican churches have done).
But the irony of moving on from the 39A and the BCP in this way is that one loosens if not lessens one's claim to somehow be an Anglican faithful to one's Anglican roots.
Incidentally, Ron, the BCP remains a formulary of ACANZP.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I can see that the BCP contains the founding doctrines of individual Anglican churches. But of the 'Anglican Communion'? The Anglican Communion, as a worldwide family of churches, has no formal constitution and has never officially adopted any 'founding doctrines'. Surely the doctrines of the Anglican Communion can only be the doctrines of the member churches of the Anglican Communion?

The 1662 BCP contains a Eucharistic theology characteristic of Thomas Cranmer. Personally, I think it's a fine Eucharistic theology and I'm very comfortable with it. But since the days of Elizabeth I the Church of England has been gradually retreating from it, and certainly since the Oxford Movement days it's been far from the only Eucharistic theology in Anglicanism. The Scottish Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in the USA have had a more high church theology since their inception, and nowadays Cranmer's theology would probably be a minority view in worldwide Anglicanism. Does that mean Father Ron is less Anglican than you or I, or that his faith is 'contrary to the founding doctrines of the Anglican Communion'?

The BCP ordination services presume that the ordinands are all male (and have been 'sufficiently instructed in the Latin tongue' - how's your Latin, Peter?). Does this mean that the ordination of women is contrary to the founding doctrines of the Anglican Communion?

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim
Fair point to observe that the AC has no constitution etc but even so, in 1868, there would have been a strong agreement as to what doctrines undergirded that first Lambeth Conference, a conference called for the purpose - as I recall - of sorting out a controversy over doctrinal innovation!

Clearly individual churches have "moved on" in various ways and part of the conflict and controversy of our day is precisely because other churches have not moved on, or, at least, have not moved on on particular matters as others have moved on, and thus there is difference of view, and in the debates some claim the "high ground" of founding Anglican doctrine.

A difference to consider re Jean's point is that Scripture-in-relation-to-BCP-and-39A is [arguably] a lot clearer on marriage being between a man and a woman than it is on whether women share in leadership of the church with men.

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm interested, Peter, in your comment that the BCP is one of the founding documents of ACANZP. And yet, not all of its liturgical services are still observed: For instance, when did you last preside at the occasional office of The Churching of Women? This seemd to presume that a weoman, after chidbirth, needed purification. Would you still say that curious relic of sexual 'purity' (only for women - not the male of the species) remains a doctrine of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific Islands?

And as for the 39 Artifacts....!

(Incidentally, I do use the BCP for presiding at the 8am Low Mass on Sundays at Saint Michael's. I love its poetry, but I do have problems with its sexist patriarchal language.)

MichaelA said...

Hi Tim,

Are you seriously suggesting that any Anglican church in 1868 would not have seen the BCP (which included the ordinal and the Articles) as the foundation of Anglican doctrine?

I cannot see the slightest justification for such a view. Challenges to the authority of the BCP and the articles came in the early- to mid- 20th century. Not liking it is one thing, but what excuse for this attempt to translate 20th century liberal views (not even a majority view in the 20th century) onto entire churches in the 19th century?

I agree with you that the Anglican Communion has no constitution, but that's not an excuse to try and re-write history.

As for the Church of England, whatever some people in it might argue, its official doctrine remains as set out in Canon A5:

"The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
There are a number of services in both prayerbooks of our church that I have never been invited to lead, and I remain open to invitations :)

MichaelA said...

"And yet, not all of its liturgical services are still observed"

Fr Ron, how is that inconsistent with the point that the BCP is a founding document of ACANZP?

One is a statement of historical fact, one is a statement of what is happening now.

In any organisation you will find individuals who don't agree with everything in it. You don't agree with some things in the BCP and you don't agree with the Articles - that's just your personal opinion. No doubt some people agree with you and some don't - why is one opinion more worthwhile than another?

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, we are forbidden to use the BCP Churching of Women service. We must hold to the doctrine that it embodies, but not embody the doctrine it enshrines! Ah! NZ Anglicanism!


Anonymous said...

On second thinking - am I out by one service in the BCP? It might actually be the next service in the BCP "A Commination - denouncing of God's anger and judgements against sinners" (wow! how relevant is that!) I think it is not authorised for use (ie forbidden) but being part of our formularies, of course, the doctrine it enshrines is binding on us. Go canon lawyers, go! If I find the relevant legislation I'll post it.



Anonymous said...

Yes - it's the Commination. Statute 448 Confirmed 1988.
Someone else will have to check whether we still have to believe it.
Perhaps not...


Anonymous said...

Tim, the 39A and the BCP both rely on the scriptures as the criterion of innovations in the Church after the age of the creeds. The problem with SSM is not its novelty-- the ordination of women was also novel-- but the failure thus far to advocate for it in a way that does not deny the scriptural doctrine received from the undivided Church by all Anglicans everywhere.

As Jean says, the articles could not be clearer about the scriptural criterion. Prayerbook application of it, though not always convincing to a modern exegete, is usually explicit. As Kurt might point out, Latitudinarians (eg Abp Tillotson) stretched Hooker's appeal to reason to make the criterion an accommodative principle in cases where rival innovations in doctrine make equal sense of the scriptures (eg John Owen v John Wesley). So, indeed, the scriptures do support the emphases behind the basic eucharistic doctrines, but normally Zwinglians should still treat the elements with reverence (although they see no real point in it), and Ubiquitarians should not have Corpus Christi processions (although high church Lutherans have been known to do this and they are a lot of fun).

That SSM is an innovation in the Church introduced after the age of the creeds is not a problem. So was the ordination of women. The problem is that the best scriptural case that has offered for it by a church (TEC's) reads, to those not already committed to the conclusion, like a case against marriage as it was practised in, say, Cana of Galilee. It does not add a new scripturally supported practise alongside the ancient one, as in your example of eucharistic doctrines; it actually replaces the latter with the former. As Father Ron has pointed out, it similar to Sydney lay presidency of the eucharist, which is incompatible with the received scriptural practice of ordination affirmed in both the 39A and the BCP. Both innovations fail the same test for the same reason.

Prima facie, TEC's celebration of SSM is not compatible with traditional, accommodative Anglicanism. Faced with an exclusive doctrine from an exclusive church, Global South primates reached a limited agreement with GAFCON, with what results we know. Because they did not take up the diocesan practises of the ACC, it is uncertain how Global South primates would respond to a practise of SSM that does respect traditional marriage. And alas, the primates had nothing to say about how churches should respond to the spread of SSM itself. The decision last week is best seen as a straightforward response to an extreme and therefore easy case. It is not hard to imagine other approaches that would not be so easily rejected. They would most likely be adopted in a better balanced church such as your own.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Peter, is your Hermeneutics and Human Dignity blog open for business? Some of my comments really belong under some of those posts.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

It is open for business, Bowman, re comments, but it is in abeyance for the time being re posting!

Father Ron Smith said...

"why is one opinion more worthwhile than another?" - MichaelA -

You tell me, MA. However, is that not at the rfoot of the present standoff in the anglican Communion? That GAFCON's view of human sexuality is more 'proper' than that of other Anglicans?

Do you remember the old saying: "One man's meat is another man's poison' The human face of the Church is not different from any other humanly-influenced institution in regard to its assertions.

Anonymous said...

Michael A said,

'Are you seriously suggesting that any Anglican church in 1868 would not have seen the BCP (which included the ordinal and the Articles) as the foundation of Anglican doctrine?

I cannot see the slightest justification for such a view. Challenges to the authority of the BCP and the articles came in the early- to mid- 20th century. Not liking it is one thing, but what excuse for this attempt to translate 20th century liberal views (not even a majority view in the 20th century) onto entire churches in the 19th century?'

First, I'm not happy being described as a 20th century liberal, thank you very much! You might be interested to know that I have a very different reputation in my own diocese!

I am not in any way disputing that Anglican churches constituted in the 19th century would not have seen the BCP as foundational. Our own Anglican Church of Canada has the Solemn Declaration of 1896 which clearly identifies us as being in communion with the Church of England, receiving the same canonical scriptures, creeds, BCP, articles, ordinal etc.

I note, however, that no Anglican province that I am aware of around the world has interpreted the 'receiving' of the canonical scriptures to mean the 'receiving' of every single thing in those scriptures as the Word of God for us today. for instance, many western conservatives take the Leviticus commands about 'lying with a man as with a woman' literally, but they do not take the second half of the command literally - the command to execute the offender. But surely if one half of the verse is the Word of God to us, so is the second?

That, however, is beside the point. What I am trying, somewhat clumsily, to say is that although each member church of the Anglican Communion may or may not have accepted the BCP as a foundational document (and let's remember that the American church essentially accepted the Scottish BCP, which had a very different Eucharistic theology), the Anglican Communion itself, as an international fellowship of churches, has no such foundational doctrines. No one has committed themselves to any unchanging standard of doctrine as a condition of being committed to the Anglican Communion. And in the past, we have quietly accepted the existence of a considerable variety of theological reinterpretations, some of them at variance with Cranmer's BCP (Eucharistic theology, ordination of women, views of scripture which are less than inerrantist, views of theology which do not follow the mild Calvinism of the 39 Articles etc.).

Tim Chesterton

Anonymous said...


Two of your arguments puzzle me. Perhaps you see something that I do not.

I think that you and Kurt are quite right that has Communion changed. (When? Probably after the Empire became a Commonwealth.) If three quarters of the Communion want to be something consistent with, but more than, they were in 1868, why should they not go ahead? I do not see why either of you object to this.

You mention rules far more than the conservatives do. Of the Six Texts, the one that has most informed the conservative side is Romans 1, which is not a rule, but an analysis of the decay of idolatrous societies. After that, it is St Paul's vice lists, which again are not rules but a part of his account of the work of the Holy Spirit in those united to Christ by faith. And of course the communique is about the meaning of weddings which mainly concerns Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:18, the allegorical Song of Songs, Ephesians 5, and Revelations 21. Only the first of these is sometimes read as a rule. One can criticise conservatives on this issues for all sorts of things, but legalistic attachment to isolated rules in scripture is clearly not one of them. Why do you keep raising this?

Again, I ask with every expectation that you have something in mind that I have not yet seen, and hope that you will do me the favour of trying to accommodate my limited understanding.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael A: my apologies: trying to Publish your comment on my phone I clumsily hit Delete instead. Here is your comment:

"MichaelA has left a new comment on your post "Messy Communion, nascent Federation? [Updated]":

"First, I'm not happy being described as a 20th century liberal, thank you very much! You might be interested to know that I have a very different reputation in my own diocese!"

Tim, just to clarify, that is not exactly what I meant. I wasn't commenting on what you personally believe, but on the motives that you were ascribing to people in the 19th century. I was accusing you of historical anachronism, not of personally holding views that are rarely held today even by liberals!

"No one has committed themselves to any unchanging standard of doctrine as a condition of being committed to the Anglican Communion."

True - IF you accept that no province has ever committed itself to the Anglican Communion. Seriously - where has any province ever done so?

But if you want to say that the provinces have committed themselves via the presence of their bishops at Lambeth Conferences (which is drawing a long bow, but let's run with it) then I suggest having a look at the various resolutions of LCs over the years before making the assertion that they haven't committed themselves to unchanging standards of doctrine!

Anonymous said...

Michael A, my apologies - I mistyped. What I meant to say was '"No one has committed themselves to any unchanging standard of doctrine as a condition of being ADMITTED to the Anglican Communion."

Tim Chesterton

Father Ron Smith said...

Tim, you and I may differ on some aspects of our Anglican understanding of what the Church is all about. However, I do admire your persistence in challenging the status quo on the Church's treatement of LGBTIs.

On presdiding at the Eucharist yesterday morning and this morning (modern N.Z. rite), I could not help - in the current clmate of sexisn and homophobia in the Anglican Communion, that was mentioned by the ABC at the recent Primates' Conference as being out of kilter with the Gospel - but reflect on the readings from the first and second Books of Samuel - especially, Saul's lament at the death of his friend Jonathan (2 Sam.1:26) :

"O Jonathan, in your death I am stricken, I am desolate for you, Jonathan my brother. Very dear to me you were; your love for me MORE WONDERFUL than the love of a woman." (Jerusalem Bible)