Friday, October 28, 2016

Wow! Key moves to change churches ... here and there

We are just about all packed up, at Theology House.

Meantime, the world keeps moving on. Even the church is producing news over the last 24 hours! Does no one consider blogs in far away places trying to have a wee rest?

Wow! A hostile takeover of the Anglican church in Egypt?

Key working group. I thought this was about our PM but no, finally we have an announced ACANZP working group on You Know What. I approve!

Superb, strategic, searching words from the ecclesiastical Go To Guy of our era, Pope Francis. I recommend reading this speech carefully with openness to reconsidering our tendencies to Pelagianism (I am looking at you, church strategists and structural changeists mea culpa) and Gnosticism (I am looking at you, theo-logicians and Here Is My Theology In A Neat Systematic and Watertight Package theologians mea culpa).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Angry God!

So the moving process for Theology House is, well, moving along. Messages yesterday to say the packers would come to start this afternoon rather than tomorrow. Then a message to say they might start this morning. Meantime the world moves along and not always in pleasant ways. Yes, I am looking at you "US election."

Speaking of the world in disarray, if we properly understand anger shouldn't we be angry if God is never angry? The link below kinda makes that point!

This on the angry God and our anger is very good, and sobering, on a number of levels (H/T Bryden Black).

Monday, October 24, 2016

Moving times!

For a couple of weeks this blog will likely be very light on posting ... Theology House (my workplace) along with the Anglican Centre of the Diocese of Christchurch are moving from current locations at St Peter's Upper Riccarton Christchurch to the first floor of a building at 10 Logistics Drive Harewood Christchurch. (It is a rather large first floor ... 1000 m sq).

For Theology House this will be our fourth move since the 2011 earthquake but we are grateful that we have been just over four years in our most recent location.

Various decisions need to be made in the next few days, the packers come Friday 28th October and unpacking takes place from Monday 31st October. With a library to move, IT to set up, who knows when life will feel "normal" again :). And I must be focused on the move and not on the blog ...

Anyway, here is one item that caught my eye over this weekend: two high profile Kiwis converted to Christ and baptised into one of our leading episcopal churches!

It is always good to hear the testimonies of those in whom God is working in particular ways.

Postscript: here is a quite different post, somewhat "terrifying"!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Orwellian or American?

The SBL (of which I am a member) is banning the IVP Press (of which books, I do read) from having a display at the annual SBL Conference in November this year (the largest Biblical studies conference in the world).

Rod Dreher has a go at what this means.

Is this Orwells' 1984 come upon us?

Or just the peculiarity of binary USA?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mike Hawke, Dean of Nelson

Possibly the best known (i.e. most widely known) priest in our church today is Mike Hawke, former Vicar of St Christopher's Avonhead (one of our largest parishes) and currently Church Support/Projects Officer for the Anglican Missions Board of our church. In this current role he has visited most of our parishes as well as many spheres of our overseas mission, especially in the Pacific region.

 Mike is on the move. He will be the next Dean of Nelson Cathedral, his first Sunday is 11 December 2016.

As a former member of that Diocese I am very pleased (as I know many people are) that Mike will have this role.

Life will have come full circle for Mike and his new Bishop, Richard Ellena: they were once curates together in Timaru!

Our greatest Anglican theologian?

Yeah, yeah, I know.

Ask the question in the title of this post and there are many contenders and no obvious Barth/Luther/Calvin/Augustine/Aquinas standout.

The contenders include: Hooker, Jewel, Ryle, Maurice, ++Ramsey, Sykes, Macquarrie, ++Williams. [Some might cheekily pop John Wesley or Cardinal Newman on the list :)].

The last name on my list would probably get the nod in a popular vote because very, very well known around Anglicanland as greatest ever theological ABC, etc.

But there is another name to consider, the late John Webster, and some reasons why are given in this obituary written by Kevin J. Vanhoozer (H/T Bryden Black).

Here is a sample paragraph, deliberately chosen because it mentions a "hot topic" here at ADU ...

"Like John, I too was searching for a way out of the desert of criticism–a way out of the methodological morass of modernity and into the Promised Land of dogmatics and doxology, where I could use language to speak well of, and praise, God. In particular, I came across John’s essay on “The Dogmatic Location of the Canon” (reprinted in Word and Church), in which he re-established the canon, and sola scriptura, in its magisterial place over the church, in contrast to postliberals who were in danger of collapsing Scripture into the tradition of its ecclesial use. I admired the boldness of the essay, its clear argumentation, and its thoroughly theological approach."

See also this excerpt from an article by Ivor Davidson (whole article behind paywall).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The power of the message

I am working on material for the next Theology House Lenten Studies book, Risk: Through Lent with Acts (January, 2017). In Acts 20:32, Paul farewelling the Ephesian elders says,

"And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace."

A first thought is that commending someone to God's grace is sufficient so the additional "and to the message of his grace" is unexpected. Why?

An implication is that God chooses both to work in the believer through his indwelling Spirit and also through the medium of his Word, the message of his grace, the gospel.

God can and does build us up through the Spirit working within each believer but also through the medium of the Word.

This message of grace, Paul continues in Acts 20:32, is

"a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified."

In the particular context of Paul's warning of savage wolves threatening to tear the flock of God apart in Ephesus, he is saying that a critical factor in preventing the savagery is attention to the message of God's grace.

This is an always pertinent message to the church in every era and every place.

In terms of some currents in the church today, it is also a message which reminds us that the power to nurture the soul does not lie solely in the "ministry of the Sacrament." Vital to Christian growth, steadfastness and liveliness is the "ministry of the Word."

Monday, October 17, 2016

World War Three, coming ready or not?

Just to set the scene for why Christians along with all humanity should be troubled by the way the world is this day in this year in this century, Archbishop Cranmer posts about horrible, terrible treatment of faithful Christians in Aleppo. (The post is here, it is disturbing, you may not want to read it and just rely on the preceding sentence). There is a reason why Assad is fighting so malevolently with Putin's aid against the rebels in Aleppo. It is not pretty. It is humanity at its second worst but there is a plausible argument that if the rebels win we will see humanity at its worst.

Who knows how this may all turn out. We have an election in America which may or may not significantly steer the geopolitical calculations. Europe is something of a powder keg. It is no longer rocket science to contemplate World War Three is either round the corner or even has just begun. Today, however, because talk of WW3 seems not to be in the central vocabulary of the MSM, I am intrigued to open our local Christchurch Press and read a reprinted article from the Washington Post, titled "Are the Russians really preparing for war?"

As a reader I am, to be honest, suspicious that the Press is printing the article as a slightly amusing insight into how a slightly deranged society is thinking, i.e. it is not printed for the good citizens of Christchurch/Canterbury to be in any way disturbed or terrified.

But shouldn't we be just a little bit worried (humanly speaking - God has everything in hand as Lord of history)?

Also in my reading this morning, an article about Terry Eagleton's take on the conflict between religion and the "new atheism." That is disturbing reading, IMHO! We are in the mess we are in, both politically and theologically/philosophically because we in the West have stuffed up!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

All Blacks can't win off the field!

OK, having caught your attention with the post title (called in the trade "clickbait", I am told), let me share a couple of items of news before getting to another AB loss off the field ... or is it?

News item one: I did not realise we had any current Kiwi vicars who have served 35 years in the one parish, but this report tells us about Graham Colley who is retiring after that period of time as Vicar of Thames (Auckland Diocese). Congratulations Graham!

New item two: the other day, journeying up the Peel Forest area to visit the Ecolodge I thought about seeing how progress was going with post-quake repairs to the Church of the Holy Innocents. Time was too short but not to worry as this report tells us both of progress and a snag.

Recently rugby players in NZ have incurred and/or received bad press re bad boy behaviour, notably one of our current All Blacks. Cue justified questions about whether the culture of rugby is getting out of hand. But there has also been some tut-tutting and harrumphing which may have gotten out of hand itself. Anyway, I read this morning about Our Best Ever All Black Coach, His Holiness Steve Hansen being invited to speak at a business conference arranged by the Exclusive Brethren.

The article is an interesting read, not least because it raises the question whether the EBs are changing! But here is the thing, the political tone of the article is critical because the EBs once supported the National Party in a slightly dodgy way. The implication seems to be that Steve Hansen should not be consorting with such folk.

So, here's the thing, as one wag identified on the internet, but in my own words: The All Blacks cannot win off the field. If it is not bad behaviour with women they are being criticised for, it is good behaviour with godly folk!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Testing the waters

In a week of some significant disagreements on this blog, I am wondering whether we might be able to agree that Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is a very good thing?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Reaching the Under 40s: MIssion Impossible?

Ian Paul at Psephizo offers a brilliant report on a conference with a focus on reaching the "Under 40s"/"Millennials"/Generation Y and Generation Z. Brilliant because it is inspiring, challenging, empowering and enabling.

Here Down Under the challenge of reaching the Under 40s is as urgent and as challenging as it is Up Yonder.

But it is not, under God, Mission Impossible ...

Do not accommodate Pastoral Accommodation?

This week Andrew Goddard has published a stern critique of the possibility of "Pastoral Accommodation" in respect of SSB, with specific reference to the situation in the CofE. Effectively his critique strikes two important blows (at least from my perspective):

- against notions that hitherto accommodation of remarriage/blessing of marriage of divorcees is a straightline analogy to the possibility of accommodation of SSB

- (more or less) against proposals such as the submission I have recently made to our Archbishops (viz. that we might be a church that acknowledges its differences on these matters and neither offers an official liturgy for SSB nor prohibits liturgies for SSB being offered).

Two sites with a range of comments about Goddard's piece are Thinking Anglicans and Psephizo.

The last two paragraphs of Goddard's article are these:

"In summary, how the Church of England has responded to remarriage during the lifetime of a former spouse is the best example to consider in relation to forms of pastoral accommodation that might be extended to same-sex couples.  However, there are many serious problems in so doing.  In particular, the practical changes only occurred with official sanction once it had been shown how they were compatible with the church’s teaching on marriage and agreement reached on such compatibility.  The Church of England has not done this in relation to same-sex unions and it is difficult to see how it could do so given its current teaching.

The appeal to pastoral accommodation as a way forward has now been analysed both in principle and in relation to three examples.  This has shown there are major problems with appealing to pastoral accommodation to justify commonly proposed developments affirming of sexual same-sex unions without either changing the church’s teaching or demonstrating and getting agreement that the developments are in principle consistent with that teaching.  This does not rule out such developments as clergy in same-sex sexual unions (including marriages) or the liturgical recognition of such unions.  It does though mean that if they are to be proposed (by the bishops or anyone else) then some other justifications than simply an appeal to pastoral accommodation are needed and these other rationales will need to be developed and weighed by the church.  An appeal to pastoral accommodation properly understood and as we have used it in the past simply will not work."

In other words, Goddard is appealing for a better depth of justification than currently offered for where the CofE (and ACANZP) seem to be heading.

Now read my lips: 

I will NOT PUBLISH COMMENTS HERE on this thread which generally comment on "the issue" or on my submission or anyone else's submission or on the fate of ACANZP or the CofE of the Anglican Communion if such and such does or does not happen. (You can always go back a few posts to post a comment along those lines, but you will almost certainly be repeating comments already made). 

I WILL CONSIDER publishing comments which discuss specific point(s) Goddard makes. My consideration will be helped if you actually cite something Goddard writes!!! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On What Grounds Is Trump Wrong?

It is hard to find defenders of Donald Trump after recent revelations of lewd remarks he made some years back have been revealed, not realising they were being recorded, lewd remarks, by the way, which go well beyond the "locker room" talk guys do engage in, especially when aged about 15 and a 1/2, not 59! One of those few defenders is Nigel Farage. No wonder others are hard to find!

The revelations are so bad even Trump himself has apologised. Also he has quickly resorted to a playground tactic of saying Bill Clinton was worse. His defensiveness belies his guilt.

Whether Clinton was worse or not has nothing to do with Trump's disgraceful behaviour and the need to judge it clearly as making him unfit for an office he is unfit to hold on many other grounds as well. (Again, Hilary Clinton has grounds for not being considered fit for president, but those grounds don't make Trump a better candidate).

But here's the thing from a Christian point of view, neatly raised on PJ Media by D.C. McAllister (my bold):

"From the moment the tapes were made public, the drumbeat to Trump's personal walk of shame began. Politicians who formerly endorsed him fled in terror, not wanting the soiled stain of sexual stigma attached to them. NeverTrumpers descended in holier-than-thou glee as they declared how noble and right they've always been not to support such a despicable man. And the left has been howling like puritanical wolves, condemning him for his immorality and sexist treatment of women. 
I find this reaction to Trump's private conversation rather ironic. It's ironic coming from a secular culture that long ago declared objective morality dead. It's ironic coming from politicos and media bottom-feeders who defended the abusive and disgusting behavior of Bill Clinton, not when he was a private citizen but when he was a sitting president."

In other words, picking up my headline to this post, the easy thing here to do is to howl in outrage, to bask in reflected glory of never having endorsed Trump but the hard thing to do - by today's subjectivity re sexuality - is to define the grounds on which Trump is actually morally wrong (and not simply offensive to 21st century notions of decency).

McAllister continues, with a well made point about the way Christians are treated today when they attempt to advance objective morality:

"The creep of moral relativism in America has been steady for many decades, increasing in speed to the point that the "slouching toward Gomorrah" has become a sprint. The notion that there is objective truth or absolute morality has been universally panned to the point that everything is tolerated except standards of right and wrong. "Everyone decides for himself what is right, especially when it comes to sex" is the mantra of today's culture.
For years, Christians in particular have been attacked and silenced as they've tried to challenge the immorality that is pervasive in today's society. When they tell people casual sex is wrong, they get the inevitable, "You have no right to tell me what I can or can't do." If they oppose sexual immorality in any form, including adultery, they’re maligned as sanctimonious puritans by lovers of libertinism."
The punch is here:
"How ironic, then, that a culture which rejects moral standards has suddenly become so pure and pristine, sitting in judgment of someone they deem too immoral to become president because of something he said in private. As a logical person, I have to ask these paragons of newly found virtue where this standard by which they've judged Trump is found.If morality is relative to each individual—a purely subjective experience—by what standard are they judging Trump? Obviously, in such a secular climate, there can’t even be a “standard.”Why should anyone listen to people who out of one side of their mouths declare the death of objective moral standards yet out of the other condemn someone for violating objective moral standards?Those who are complaining about Trump today have no basis for their moral outrage. That's because their secular amoral worldview rejects any basis for that moral judgment. Any argument they make against the "immorality" of Trump is stolen, or at least borrowed for expediency, from a religious worldview they have soundly rejected."


The Western world reaps what it sows. Perhaps American voters are supporting Trump, even after this past weekend, because they do not buy into moral outrage anymore? Perhaps they support Trump because in a world of casualised sex without moral stigma (Yes, I'm looking at you Bill Clinton, the sitcom Friends, and many Hollywood films) any "preaching" about anything to do with sexual behaviour is now powerless to convict of wrongdoing.

Even here Down Under, this past week we have had our very own casual sex scandal involving a rugby god-and-apparently-a-role-model-also. Cue about two million opinions on radio talkback, social media and around water coolers. How many of those opinions involve objective assessment of the immorality of the deed? And has anyone other than a Christian or Muslim advanced such assessment? It is unlikely that any of the high priests of NZ culture will reflect on the irony of finding 100 ways to judge the scandalous action other than the immorality of fornication. McAllister is whistling in the wind as far as those high priests and their American counterparts are concerned. 

Trump is a deeply flawed candidate for President of the United States of America but it is not because he offends movers and shakers in the post-Christian, liberal, political elite which control American and hence most of Western culture.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The elusive search for intra and inter Anglican Communion and communion unity

With H/T to Ron Smith, a series of links re the recent Global South conference and communique is posted by Ron on his blog, here.

A reflection on the conference is posted here.

The conference communique is here.

A joint statement on same-sex unions from the Global South Primates and the GAFCON Primates Council is here. It repays careful readings, both for its sensitivity pastorally and its clarity theologically.

An emerging sense from conferences such as this one just concluded is that Global Anglicanism will continue to be a significant communion of Anglican churches around the globe, whatever the future state of the Anglican Communion [official, historic body of Anglican provinces and extra-provincial dioceses].

Also to be noted is this astute reflection on the recent Anglican-Roman Catholic meeting in Rome: authority is the key to real progress in unity between these two communions.

I may return to these matters in coming days ...

Kai Tahu Bishop Announced for All South Island Tribes

Very pleased to hear that the Venerable Richard Wallace will be the next Pihopa for Te Wai Pounamou (Anglican Bishop for the South Island) and als very pleased that Richard is Kai Tahu - a member of the largest tribe in the South Island (also known to North Island Maori as Ngai Tahu). But, as I was often reminded when I lived in the Diocese of Nelson (northern region of the South Island), there are other Maori tribes in Te Wai Pounamou than Kai Tahu! Richard will be Pihopa of them all!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reception/recognition of each other's episcopacies?

Profound and provocative (in best sense of that word) analysis of words and gestures in Rome's meeting with Canterbury the other day.

It's a new day dawning ...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bartican 50 and other holiday reading

Need a few days break from ordinary life and that can include blogging ... but for the keen readers, here are a few things that have caught my eye, around the world, including Anglican land:

Bartican 50 or the 50th Anniversary of Karl Barth's visit to Vatican 2.

Talking of Rome and 50th Anniversaries, there is one happening about now for the Anglican Centre in Rome, significantly the celebratory service is being jointly led by ++Welby and the Pope.

Update: joint communique here.

Speaking of ++Welby, reminds us of his team and Lambeth Palace where a new appointment has been made: "The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed Rt. Rev. Anthony Poggo, Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, as his new adviser for Anglican Communion affairs."

While on specifically Anglican matters, here and here are a couple of pieces from the Living Church as part of a discussion on common prayer and whether diversity in prayer is a good thing or makes "common prayer" into "complicated prayer." (You can track back to the original article from either responsive article).

Having journeyed to Rome, London, the States we can return to the fabulous Down Under, but now to observe respectfully the passing of a noted Australian theologian, Bill Dumbrell.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

They asked for a structure ... and here is a possible structure ...

The Board of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ has published its submission to the Archbishops re the Way Forward. They are proposing an Extra-Provincial Diocese be formed ... and before anyone gets over-alarmed about that, let's remember that the call for submissions has had a particular focus on submissions about how structural arrangements might accommodate differences in viewpoint.

Note that while it may be interesting here to discuss the proposal, no FCANZ Board member is compelled to read ADU, so please note below their suggested forum for discussing the submission and thus giving feedback to the Board about it.

Their covering letter (with links to find the actual submission) is as follows:

FCANZ submission to Working Group

The General Synod of our Church resolved in May to establish a Working Group to identify “possible structural arrangements within our Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships”.   While the composition of this Working Group is yet to be named, suggestions of structural arrangements were to be in the hands of the Working Party by 1st October.  
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand was pleased to make a submission.  Regretfully, we are unconvinced that a single structure can safeguard both theological convictions with integrity, and so have suggested that the best way forward for our Church is the creation of an extra-provincial diocese.  
Such a diocese will be distinct from the current ecclesiastical structures of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, and will be authentically Anglican.  A number of extra-provincial dioceses exist globally, and are all recognised as being genuine expressions of Anglicanism.  The existence of two ecclesiastical structures within the same geographic location has occurred in Europe for a number of years and provides a model for a similar overlapping within these islands.  
Either theological conviction could make use of an extra-provincial diocese, and the FCANZ submission suggests that whoever adopts this structure retains their current assets and resources.  Most significantly, the formation of such a structure will ensure that both theological convictions can be held with integrity, and that no one will be required to teach doctrine, or submit to authority, which differs from their theological conviction on the issue of blessing same-gendered relationships. 
You can see a copy of the full submission by following this link

We welcome your feedback. Tell us what you think by replying to this email, or head to and private message or post. 

Can the Centre Hold?

Bowman Walton writes (about my submission to the Archbishops re "the Way Forward":

"Peter, my counterplans to your proposals usually argue that a centre could hold if a basic deal is struck--

(a) Traditionalists near the centre should agree that the gospel has not been and is not now served by the marginalisation of sexual minorities.  Revisionists near the centre are most galled that pockets of conservatives still dream of a cordon sanitaire protecting the 97% that necessarily marginalises the 3%. This concession precludes that dream, at the cost, no doubt of some traditionalists far from the centre who cherish it.

(b) Revisionists near the centre should agree that revisions should be limited to the minimum necessary to accommodate persons morally certain (eg from probable but not perfectly conclusive evidence) that their attraction to the same sex is exclusive and biologically determined. Traditionalists near the centre reject sweeping proposals to replace all received teaching and practice in human sexuality with a fashionable novelty, but empathise with the plight of those who struggle in good faith with the Church's traditional teaching. This concession builds on that good will, but probably alienates those far from the centre who oppose the sexual binary for other reasons.

In other words, from the mundane perspective of synodical vote counting, centrists may only be able to avoid splitting by peeling at the extremes."

I understand this set of pertinent observations to mean that we ought to attend more to finding
"common (theological) ground" than a "(synodical) compromise" - the latter being what I am proposing!

I both agree and disagree with Bowman ...

My agreement is that in an ideal world we would work and work and work at finding that common theological ground and only then ask what that might mean in practice. In particular, as a conservative, I would want to work at avoiding the "marginalization of sexual minorities". I am far from convinced that much conservative Christian talk about sexuality does this.

My disagreement is that we do not live in an ideal world, certainly not an ideal Anglican world! What we have in ACANZP is a synodical deadline: something must be done, something must be decided and General and Diocesan Synods are those decision-making bodies. 

I still think my proposal has much to commend it ... not least because I think it allows for continuing search for theological common ground to take place.

Monday, October 3, 2016

From Another Land Down Under

I think we can all southern Africa "Down Under" ... and from there we learn that, far from progressive agendas always progressing when in Anglican hands, synods can say "No!"

Though here's the rub ... "No" seems to mean "It will be on the agenda another time."

And, that, dear readers, is precisely what would happen were ACANZP to say a similar "No."