Thursday, February 16, 2017

On fire?

Christchurch (for those who do not know it) is a city mostly spread out on flat land but on one boundary are the Port Hills and on a quite a few of those hills houses are built. A few days a go a couple of fires started (as far as can be determined thus far, accidentally or spontaneously). Seemingly no big deal at the time. But there are various plantations of trees on the hills and lots of summer-dried grass. A mixture of time, wind and sunshine now mean the two fires have become one large fire.

Winds which keep changing have spread the fire and kept firefighters guessing as to where to be and what to do about containing it. Helicopters have been used but that has led to a tragedy with one crashing and killing its pilot. And helicopters cannot fight fires after dark so each evening the fires have burned without much constraint. I personally live a long way from the hills, on the other side of the city. No worries. But your prayers for our city and for the fires to be dealt with would be appreciated! (Current forecasts are for rain to not come any time soon). #porthillsfire. Report here.

The Church of England General Synod is meeting and debating You Know What. One way to keep up with the debate is via Thinking Anglicans or on Twitter #synod. A cursory glance at the Twitter feed suggests the Synod is "on fire" (though I suppose it is all very polite and English :).) [LATER: I see the Synod has voted somewhat narrowly to not take note of the Bishop's Report. Read here.]
[EVEN LATER: ++Welby responds and charts the way forward in a profoundly wise, helpful statement.]

Noticed also on Twitter this morning is this Catholic Herald article re doctrinal turmoil centred on the Vatican. Is Rome burning too? Although the main part of the article is devoted to the Roman version of You Know What (Communion for the incontinent divorced-and-remarried) intriguingly it notes at the beginning a significant voice making this beautifully expressed point for the ages:

"“There is unease,” Fr Pani wrote, “among those who fail to understand how the exclusion of woman from the Church’s ministry can coexist with the affirmation and appreciation of her equal dignity.”"


BrianR said...

Praying for Christchurch at this difficult time.

Father Ron said...

More info here on the failure to 'Take Note' of the 'Bishops' Report, which was, thankfully, defeated in the House of Clergy at the C.of E. General Synod yesterday:

Thank God those people on the ground in the real world - the clergy - have recognized the failure of the house of Bishops to meet the real need - to acknowledge the fact that homosexual people are children of God - equal to heterosexual people; with the need to love and be loved by a chosen partner

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; at least Anglicans have an excuse for the fire. There's no one with authority to put it out. Over the Tiber, the one who has authority to put it out started the fire in the first place. I'm hoping he'll resign soon. All other bishops (and the Pope is a bishop) need to retire at 75.


Jean said...

Umm Fathr Ron it could be contended that the laity are as close to the ground as the clergy, and they voted in favour ....

Anonymous said...

Jean is right; the clergy are obviously out of touch :)


BrianR said...

Sorry, I don't what's so 'wise and helpful' about Justin Welby's words - it looks to me that he's putting a brave face on a car crash and when he calls for 'a proper 21st century of what it means to be human and sexual' he seems clearly to be saying the 1st century understanding isn't adequate. Judging from his previous utterances, I have little doubt that Welby wants the C of E top endorse same-sex marriage but he can't say so openly. Michael Nazir-Ali was right that the report was founded on a basic dishonesty: on the one hand declaring that marriage is between a man and woman, on the other hand promising "maximum freedom in pastoral practice" - which the appendix to the report explains as 'prayers of blessing' after a civil same-sex marriage. In other words, the 'orthodox' statement was only a holding operation until the Church of England catches up with the secular culture (which would be c. 2030, following US culture). Gavin Ashenden - a onetime proponent of same-sex relations until a theological born-again experience freed him from liberalism - explains in this video that numerous bishops voted for the report although they disagreed with it because they thought they could dispense with any disciplining of clergy in same-sex relationships:

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
The CofE has many partnered gay clergy in its ranks to say nothing of partnered gay laity. Is it about to expel such couples? Seriously, do you expect all the bishops to be equally stringent in discipline? If the answer to those questions is "No" then ++Welby's statement is wise and helpful, just as the bishops' report was and is wise and helpful, respecting both orthodoxy and reality.

Brian said...

" ...respecting both orthodoxy and reality."

What would Jesus say about that?

Brian said...

"Seriously, do you expect all the bishops to be equally stringent in discipline?"

Do you expect men of God to keep their vows?

Brian said...

What does Justin Welby mean by these words:

“we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual”?

Do they not mean that he accepts same-sex relationships - the "proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual"?

Has he not come off the fence and accepted the revisionist viewpoint? That is the only fair construction I can put on these words.

Peter Carrell said...

H Brian
Jesus in John 4 seems thoroughly orthodox while acknowledging the reality of the Samaritan woman's unusual domestic arrangements, even as he appointed her an apostle to the Samaritans.

As for bishops keeping their vows re discipline: I imagine that has been difficult for a whole succession of bishops in the CofE who have known only too well that clergy in their dioceses strictly speaking ought to be strictly disciplined but have chosen to be kind.

Brian said...

How do you manage these astonishing tergiversations, Peter? Were you born with a rubber spine?

Does 'kindness' now mean perjury?

As for your imaginary Bishop of Mt Gerizim: I guess you would say the Lord gave her some latitude because she was, er, a woman of some area?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
I am seeing a few comments aroundabouts re ++Welby statement so I hesitate to say what it means. Also hesitant to say your interpretation is incorrect!
A question I would put to him should he drop by for coffee (not least because it is more or less the question we are addressing in ACANZP) goes something like this:
- are you saying that in the 21st century we need some kind of inclusive accommodation of a breadth of views (which are being held with great and unchanging determination) such that we might be a church which incorporates permission to bless same-sex relationships alongside continued teaching of present (formal) understanding of marriage between a man and a woman?

Supplementary questions:
- Or?
- If your answer to the main question is "Yes" do you accept that some will nevertheless leave and the inclusion you seek will not be the inclusion you have?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian at 10.34 am
(1) This is not about my spine but about the realpolitik in which English bishops have lived for a long time now. Are you saying that each bishop has stringently pursued discipline of each partnered gay clergyperson in their dioceses over the past 50 years (though not quite so stringently over the past 10 years or so)?
(2) Why didn't Jesus tell the Samaritan woman to either get married or ditch her de facto live in lover?

Brian said...

"(1) This is not about my spine but about the realpolitik in which English bishops have lived for a long time now. Are you saying that each bishop has stringently pursued discipline of each partnered gay clergyperson in their dioceses over the past 50 years (though not quite so stringently over the past 10 years or so)?"

- I don't know what they were doing in 1967 onwards. Homosexuality had very little social acceptance then, so it wasn't going to be accepted openly by bishops. But there was always a secretive homosexual sub-culture, largely but not exclusively among Anglo-Catholics. That's not a slur, it's a fact. 'Don't ask, don't tell' was the rule until the gay liberation movement arrived on the scene in the early 70s and bishops were forced to act. The 1987 General Synod in the C of E passed the Higton motion and thereafter the disputes got sharper, all the more so after Lambeth 1998. When the C of E said clergy could enter 'civil partnerships' in 2005, a Rubicon was crossed. Liberal bishops never sought assurances from gay clergy about their sex lives, so Southwark in particular became a stronghold of revisionism.

"(2) Why didn't Jesus tell the Samaritan woman to either get married or ditch her de facto live in lover"
He hasn't told me - yet. Mind you, I don't know a single liberal who actually believes this conversation took place; most take a very dim view of the historicity of John. What's your point, anyway? Do you think this conversation really happened, and if so, do you think Jesus might have said something more to her on the following two days (John 4.40)? But you mustn't fling the word 'apostle' about so promiscuously. Not every messenger boy is an 'apostle'.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian
Noted re bishops and rubicon.
My (genuine) question re John 4 (understanding it has a centre of debate of many questions about a variety of aspects of the narrative) is whether it presents to the church a Jesus who is not always as concerned with clarity about sexual relationships as we ourselves might be.

Andrei said...

"(2) Why didn't Jesus tell the Samaritan woman to either get married or ditch her de facto live in lover?"

I don't know that he had to - she knew to do it anyway

She was eventually baptised Photini along with her sisters and her sons and left her sinful life behind

She is commemorated February 26

Christ quite often chose quite unlikely people to be his apostles - including St Paul who had been persecuting the Faithful until his conversion

"This is not about my spine but about the realpolitik..." Didn't Christ say his Kingdom was not of this world - realpolitik should not enter into it

Church history is filled with martyrs who would not surrender their values for "realpolitik"

There was a major dispute in North Africa after Constantine about whether or not to readmit people to the Church who had denied it under Diocletian's persecutions.

About a decade ago a priest conducted a wedding ceremony for two men in a Russian Orthodox chapel, it was photographed and plastered all over social media by the culprits - The priest claimed he had been fooled and believed he was marrying a man and a woman

The local Bishop's response was immediate - the priest defrocked and the chapel burned to the ground having been profaned. This action met with much approval in Russia and disdain and sneering in the West. But money for a replacement was readily forthcoming from all over

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

There is no avoiding the fact that J Welby’s call for ‘a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.’ is an affirmative nod to gay sexual relationships, and an appalling statement for any clergy to make let alone a man in his position.

Proverbs 14:12 comes to mind.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

Just as there is no fellowship between light and darkness, there is no compromise to be had between orthodoxy and novelty. Sooner or later we must all choose, as the Gaven Ashenden interview provided by Brian so clearly states.

Therefore, let’s be done with the pretence. There is no shared understanding of what it means to be human, or what it means to follow Christ between those who hold these opposing views.

All that remains is to find a way to part with grace, justice and dignity. This should be the task occupying the minds of our Bishops, rather than engaging in more futile attempts to square the circle.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Andrei and Brendan
Robust responses!
You know, even if we dismember the CofE or the ACANZP, we will still be Christians in a world where some Christians want to bless same sex partnerships and others do not; we will still have our friends and family wondering why we are so hard hearted about people loving each other; we will still live in societies where civic and legal equality for marriage is a thing.
It may be about squaring the circle and I make no claim to know how to do that but I do make this claim: I remain far from certain that a schism will make these matters go away for Anglicans.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Clearly then, one group of Christians is deceived. They have believed a lie and are choosing to advocate for it publically. It could be me, but if those supporting a Biblical understanding of marriage and human sexuality are deceived, then on what basis do we understand truth?

Doesn’t the whole edifice crumble?

Being misunderstood (hard hearted) goes with the territory of being Christians living in a pagan culture. We should expect it. Eventually it will result in persecution.

We should be preparing our congregations and our families for such times. Even a cursory understanding of Church history would reveal this to be the norm for believers.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Further to the persecution of Biblically faithful Christians who follow their conscience over gay marriage, I refer your readers to today’s article by Rod Dreher. Yet another florist in the USA has their livelihood and assets stripped from them by the courts because she refused to provide flowers at a long-standing customer Mr. Ingersoll’s gay wedding.

“As part of the preparations, Ingersoll went to his favorite florist to ask her personally if she would handle the flowers.

At that brief meeting, Mrs Stutzman reached across the counter and took hold of Ingersoll’s hand. He would later recall to Freed the words she used: “You know I love you dearly. I think you are a wonderful person, but my religion doesn’t allow me to do this.”

In response to Ingersoll’s request for a referral, she suggested three local florists from among a dozen flower shops in the area. They talked a bit more, then hugged, and Ingersoll left the shop.”


“So he went and got the ACLU on his side, and he sued the hateful hag. Because #lovewins™, or something.”

Whether you agree with the right of Mrs Stutzman to refuse service based on her religious conviction or not, the point is our culture has determined that gay rights trump all others, including an individual’s conscience. The article doesn’t say if Mr Ingersoll was a Christian, but as we see within our own circles, the rights of Gays to have their sexual unions blessed trumps the consciences of orthodox believers, and will be pursued with religious zealotry until such blessings are given.

Glen Young said...

I am with Brendan on this one. Neither the Church nor Her Doctrine belong to man. The administration of His Church was placed in the dominion of the Apostles, for the mission of preparing the Bride for the "Eternal Marriage".

Sadly, I am drawn to the conclusion that the leadership of institutionalised
religion are more concerned with the form and sake of their own human processes than with the Will of God as revealed to us through His Only Begotten Son.

It is too easy to mistake piousness with living out the Will of God.With endless discussion on "Thy v Your Will" in the absence of actually "seeking out His Will and Obeying it".

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan and Glen

I would be a bit surprised to find that gays in our society wanted their rights to trump other rights. I think they just want what most people who do not have them want, equal rights without discrimination.

Our question in the church is whether we might make allowances and accommodations for those who loving relationships do not meet God's ideal (think divorce/remarriage as well as same sex partnerships); with the associated question how we live with differences re those accommodations and allowances.

I fully accept that we might as Anglicans find ourselves needing two or more Anglican churches to cover our inability to live with some differences on these matters. I remain interested in whether we can find a way to live with differences.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

First, you cannot conflate theological issues around divorce and remarriage between heterosexual couples with the blessing of gay sex.

Second, do you honestly believe there are acceptable political solutions that would satisfy orthodox Christians that a church that blesses gay sex is pleasing to God?

It’s a serious question.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, it's no good trying to reason with those who do not understand the instinctive Anglican genius for living with difference. As an Anglo-Catholic, I have understood this reality from very early onIn my earlier years in the U.K. this difference was managed with some remarkable co-inherence. It seems that, in ACANZP, this is not so easily managed. Conservative Evangelicalism seems immune from the call of Jesus to corporate search for 'Truth' as opposed to sectarian tribalism. Here, in the sexuality debate, the main bone of contention seems to be the implicit dangers in the acceptance of LGBTI people as a licit part of God's human creation.

It is one such faux ethical puritanism that your attackers here are basing their misunderstanding of the true situation. As you, yourself have realised, gay people (being a minority of the whole human race) are here to stay, and same-sex relationships will continue to either thrive or not - in precise relationship to their faithfulness and capacity to be fulfilled. The world - with its current understanding of the etiology of human sexuality - understand this reality; whereas the Church, with its tendency to live only in the past, will struggle with that reality - falling back on institutional shibboleths that even Jesus Himself might not go along with in today's world

As far as Marriage goes, the Church of England has already changed its understanding of the contract: by agreeing to (1) Contraception, making procreation not the only 'good' in a relationship; (2) Re-Marriage, after Divorce, which now has become commonplace in most Provinces of the Church; (3) Civil-Partnerships of clergy, now permissible by some Bishops - the C. of E. General Synod now allows same-sex clergy partners to receive a pension on the death of their clergy-spouse. These are ways in which the original 'doctrine of Marriage' has already been changed by the Church of England to accommodate changes that had already been made in English society.

Allowing monogamous same-sex partnerships to be blessed by the Church would not in any way denigrate or affect the world's respect for the predominant heterosexal marriage - which has its own problems of failure, unconnected with the relationships of same-sex persons.

I am reminded of the book 'Archbishop (Arthur Michael) Ramsey - The Shape of The Church', written by Peter Webster in 1974, and revised for publication in 2015, which makes the following statement about a beloved ABC:

"Attached to catholic order though he was, Ramsey's attachment to it was always subject to the reality of divine action in the present age. In a situation of crisis in church relations, and indeed throughout the church and the nation from the mid-1960s onwards, many things that had seemed certain in interwar Cambridge seemed mutable, dispensible. If the greater need of God's church on earth demanded it, then there was little in the ordering of the church, so often thought to be immutable, that could not and ought not to be overturned. What God had instituted. He could surely amend!

In Ramsey's day, he assisted in the Church's acceptance of and support for:
(1) Homosexual Law Reform
(2) Marriage and Divorce regulations
(3) Contraception." - all of which processes were revolutionary in their time in the Anglican Church. Today's proposal - the acceptance of committed same-sex relationships by the Church - is merely another pragmatic move towards meeting a need of a minority in the Church.

Andrei said...

"I think they just want what most people who do not have them want, equal rights without discrimination."

There is no "right" to a marriage Peter - that phrase is a deceit from the Prince of lies - there are multiple conditions to be met before a marriage can take place - the first being that you can find someone of the opposite sex who agrees to marry you. Millions have died unmarried through the ages because they could not find a partner to join them in this endeavour - and that might often be because they are sick, ugly or deformed.

People who are not photogenic and thus get a bully pulpit to make the world conform to their wishes just have to suck on what life deals to them

Gay people have the same "rights" to marriage as everyone else - what they wanted and achieved was to change marriage to pander to their desires and in so doing further cheapened marriage and reduced it to meaninglessness

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I am looking for something in ++ Justin's admittedly slight comment that is incompatible with + Keith's superb traditionalist dissent to the Pilling Report. I am not succeeding. Absent some disagreement between the two, I see nothing to worry about.

From time to time, leaders of any great body will say things that allude to realities that are difficult for the body as a whole to face. This is what leaders should do, of course. But actually doing so in a polarised body triggers fear in those at its polar extremes. Each extreme attracts partisans not engaging some awkward reality, often one stressed by those who disagree with them, and to those partisans even vague references to an awkward truth sound like siding with the enemy. So when partisans hear a leader make such references, their fears are triggered. With respect to That Topic, we have recently heard alarms from both extremes-- first about the bishops' report, and now about this.

++Justin's comment is the latest swing of the reality pendulum. Yes, it seems meant to reassure those closer to revisionist positions. The coded reference to a "proper 21C understanding of human sexuality" seems to affirm that the bishops of the Church of England will not ignore the revisionist talking points-- science, pastoral context, social convention, etc-- in their adherence to scripture and tradition on That Topic. But that they are ones who needed the reassuring is surely the buried lede here. And anyway, ignoring science, pastoral context, social convention, etc is not necessary to a centrist affirmation of the traditional teaching, although both extremes see this otherwise.

When the Bishop of Birkenhead said this same sort of thing in dissenting to Pilling, it sounded conservative to all. When the Archbishop of Canterbury now says it after debate on a bishops' report, it sounds revisionist to conservatives, and probably conservative to suspicious revisionists. But I see no proof that there is any daylight between the two positions. Do you?

Anonymous said...


In the pluralistic West that we have mentioned offline, traditional churches may soon leave both extremes behind with other vestiges of the Edict of Milan.

Without the need for a Christian social identity, those for whom sexuality determines their whole apprehension of religion will leave us. Although a generation or two have tried hard to maintain otherwise, Christianity has nothing affirming to say about sex abstracted from sexual differentiation and procreation. And what the Bible says about sex as the Creator integrated it into sexual differentiation and procreation has perennial appeal. For these two enduring reasons, our faith is unlikely to be the choice of those experientialists who will have no religion that does not celebrate the sheer power of the orgasm. But what constituency will remain for the revisionists among us if these restless ones join covens or if more traditional churchgoers practise pop tantra on the side?

Meanwhile, any persons with same sex attraction who find themselves called to stand with Christ may be welcomed under his banner on terms that would surprise most of us here. Where pluralism takes hold, the rites of interest may be, not marriage (a civil matter) or blessing (not done), but the baptism, confirmation, eucharist, and penance of neophytes, performed not as the status markers of a purely Christian society, but as the transformative rites of personal conversion where this is the normal way into the Church. In such settings, the thought that somebody has been inclined to sin may not be as divisive as it has been for those of us with reflexes that are surely more constantinian and perhaps less scientific.

Anxiety about whether the few gay or lesbian Christians are all trying hard enough to be chaste will probably never altogether disappear. Some fidgety babies will always be born with more or less temperamental anxiety that things are not pure enough, rules not strict enough, free riders not penalised enough, authorities are not revered enough, etc. But the traditionalists of churches in pluralist societies may have conversations from which our present poles of opinion are absent.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I inhabit a church where such conflation is part of the debate (e.g. See Ron Smith's immediate comment above).
Although I personally recognise the kinds of changes Ron mentions as having occurred I do not treat them as anything like as significant as he does and definitely not as significant as changing the core fact of marriage equals a man and a woman.
Nevertheless they are examples of accommodations and allowances and thus I respect the right of fellow Anglicans to ask what further accommodations and allowances might be made in our day (noting, precisely, that the changes Ron mentions were driven by changes in society and culture).

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
The context of my remark was not talking about rights from an eternal and divine perspective but from the social perspective of Western society which has developed a complex set of rights, and within that complex context Inwas responding to the possibility that gays wish to trample over other people's rights. (I am not denying that here and there some trampling has occurred but I am making the point that generally gays feel on the back foot relative to the rest of society).

The right to marriage I am talking about, within this context, is not of course the right to marry fullstop (as though society is responsible for partnering us so we avoid singleness) but the right to marry the one to whom one is committed in love.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Anglicans are not quite as good at living with difference as you presume in your comment above.
There is all kinds of difference we cannot live with (try telling your bishop you no longer will baptise infants and let's see how long that point of difference will be lived with!)
Thus it is quite permissible for Anglicans to say, e.g. On this blog, that they can lie with differences X and Y but not Z.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Your confidence that in the long run this is all going to turn out well because a centrist-orthodox-moderate-Hookerian-rationality will prevail is admirable. And, of course, I hope it is going to happen.
But I find in my spirit that I am not quite as confident as you!

liturgy said...

The reference to John 4, rather than providing a solution, highlights the problem that undergirds this whole thread. Survey the interpretations of John 4 and one finds that the interpretations merely reflect the position of the interpreter. Those who think remarriage after divorce is allowable have their view confirmed. Those who think the nature of marriage is to be for life - also find John 4 consonant with their viewpoint. The Bible-alone approach is not going to lead to agreement. The ongoing search for some sort of biblical key we have been missing all these years that will bring us all together in agreement about the nature of marriage is a waste of time and energy, and fundamentally flawed.



Peter Carrell said...

To be fair to myself (!) Bosco, I am mentioning John 4 as a possible key to how we might agree together that a variety of understandings of marriage might subsist in the one church. Within this thread that has been a singular failure. Absent anyone else coming up with a key to how we might agree together, I myself remain comfortable with continuing to search the Bible for it.

Brendan McNeill said...

“The right to marriage I am talking about, within this context, is not of course the right to marry full stop … but the right to marry the one to whom one is committed in love.”

Peter, surely you know full well that nobody including gays or heterosexuals automatically have the right to “marry the one to whom one is committed in love.”

A man may not marry or have sexual relations with:

Their sister
Their mother
Their daughter
Their father’s wife
Their son’s daughter
Their daughter’s daughter
Their father’s sister
Their neighbour’s wife

And, they cannot have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, that is detestable. Lev 18:22

A church that blesses gay sexual unions is not simply ignoring Scripture, but is behaving in ways that are actively hostile to Scripture.

God says ‘a man cannot have sexual relations with another man’ and the Anglican Church says, ‘yes he can, and what’s more we are going to bless this sexual union in your name’.

This is the sin of rebellion.

It is the sin of Adam.

It results in being cast out.

Peter Carrell said...

Really, Brendan!?
We are writing comments here not essays with footnotes.
So I wrote a little loosely and didn't add the obvious caveats about no incest, no underage brides or grooms, (anyhting else?) in talking about rights to marry in a society where the only rights-issue debated in recent years has only concerned consenting, non-familiar, adults ...

As for quoting Scripture in the way you do: is it also rebellion to marry divorced persons in defiance of our Lord's teaching that this is to foster adultery?

My preference - I think reasonably clear here on this blog - is that we do not get stuck in debate over which among us is a rebellious sinner and who among us are fostering rebellious sinning (that is a long, tangled strong to unknot ... e.g. including me and my collusion with the interest-charging banks via my accepting a mortgage!).

Rather, I am trying to explore (a) what God blesses (and, yes, I am clear what your answer to that is in this present context); (b) whether that blessing might be restored to those who are repentant (cf. divorce/remarriage; and approaching the subject in this way may or may not appropriately set Jesus' own teaching in perspective, relative to his teaching on repentance); (c) whether we might be a church with differing views on the bestowing of God's blessing (noting that to a degree we already are as some Anglicans have been quite willing to offer God's blessing on that which I am not so willing (e.g. battleships).

Brendan McNeill said...

Peter, to be clear, what part of my exposition of Scripture are you refuting?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan

Some Anglicans do not believe that Leviticus applies today and certainly not to same sex couples committing to a lifetime of faithful, loving, stable partnership. Behind such belief lies an exposition of Scripture which notes the various ways in which Leviticus no longer applies to the life of God's people today (etc, etc). Logically, then, they do not see blessing such relationships as either rebellious or blessing rebellion.

The question is not whether your exposition is refuted but whether our church is broad enough to include both such exposition and its opposite. One possibility for recognising that we might be broad enough is recognising other differences in expositions which subsist within our current breadth.

For myself, thinking out loud here, rather than trying to set down a for the rest of my life position, in a world where human relationships are difficult to sustain (families breakdown, friends fall out, marriages break up) and sexual drive is a challenge for many (thus we have casual sex, promiscuity, prostitution being legalised in a society where people marry, live together, sleep with each other but not live together, etc) I wonder if God recognises that sometimes we make the best of what we have and do so trying to do the best we feel we can with the kind of person we are: thus a divorced person seeks a new partner to bear the challenges of life together with; thus a gay person recognising celibacy is not possible seeks to at least have one partner for the rest of their life.

I use the word "recognise" rather than "bless" so as not to jump quickly to a much arguable conclusion. But might such a God who recognises the challenges of being human - an incarnate God, of course, whom we know as Jesus Christ - be precisely the merciful, loving Father we meet in the Bible? I am not talking about God changing his mind about sin but about God overlooking our sins out of compassionate recognition that we are frail creatures.

Andrei said...

Anxiety about whether the few gay or lesbian Christians are all trying hard enough to be chaste will probably never altogether disappear.

You need have no anxiety over this, unless perhaps you are the spiritual advisor of someone in that situation

cf The parable of the Publican and the Pharisee - I for one have no interest in what my fellow Christians do in the privacy of their own homes - it is my own house that I have to keep in order

As for John 4 - I don't believe that speaks to the validity or otherwise of divorce and remarriage - rather that we as sinners can come to the Lord and be accepted by him and start again with a clean slate, though this is a gift we must not take for granted

My issue over same sex marriage in general is that a pairing of two men or two women is not equivalent to one of each and this is to do with the children, you and I have produced with our wives

In Genesis 1, the first chapter of the first book of the Bible this is articulated

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Peter

Thank you for taking the time to expand on your thoughts in response to my question. It is easy for me to agree that we serve a loving, compassionate God, an incarnate God expressed through the person of Jesus Christ, a God who as the writer of Hebrews reminds us ‘empathizes with our weaknesses, was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.’

It is easy for me to empathise with those whose lives are messy, who struggle with sin, and who are doing their best in their struggle with brokenness and human dysfunction.

However, rather than ‘God overlooking our sins out of compassion and recognition of our frailty’, as you suggest, he has put forward a more excellent proposition; that we should repent of our sin, express faith towards God in the person of Jesus Christ, experience the redeeming work of Christ’s atoning death and resurrection made real to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by God’s grace, ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’.

This is the Gospel of Christ.

Consequently, he has not left us helpless in the midst of our circumstances, to become a victim of every human passion and sexual desire. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able to endure, but with the temptation he also makes a way of escape.

This is the promise of God.

God’s empathy and compassion for those held captive to sin is half the story. In our desire to give comfort to those so afflicted, let us not forget the other half.

Peter Carrell said...

For once [ :) ], Andrei, your most recent comment expresses what I believe!

liturgy said...

Woops! I'm sure it was by accident! (surely no one would pick and choose from the Bible, especially from Leviticus, and skip over a verse on purpose!)

Leviticus 18:19: "You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness."

Because heterosexuals are so concerned to follow the Bible for themselves, I realise that there is much debate whether the 7 days of uncleanness following the end of menstrual bleeding includes the evening after those 7 days have ended, or whether we can follow the Jewish way of counting days and uncover her nakedness on that evening after the 7th day.

I'm sure that the decades of listening, hermeneutical hui, commissions, and Bible study should lead to a common mind on this soon!


Peter Carrell said...

We have reached a common mind, Bosco, but there has been a mysterious hold up at the printer's.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I wonder whether the honest response to this thread is that schism is inevitable. Christ and tradition do not recognise any sexual relationship as valid other than marriage (one only) between a man and a woman. Consequently it is irrelevant whether any other relationship outside of that model is committed, Eros influenced or otherwise. Of course, the devil and Santa Claus may have other views. As you know, I tired of this doleful waste of time distraction from the pit many months ago. You either follow the bible and tradition or hope that one of the Pope's footnotes might be useful on judgement day. It is God that Fr Ron has to convince; not people on ADU.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Nick
I thought there was only one of those footnotes :)
You make a clear and valid point (which helps keep my on the straight path - thank you).
And I very much agree that it is God we should think about persuading and not readers here!

Andrei said...

"For once [ :) ], Andrei, your most recent comment expresses what I believe!"

Au contraire Peter a venn diagram of what you and I believe would consist of two circles that would virtually coincide I suspect

Where our views diverge is over how much the Church should conform with the current zeitgeist and for the most part, the current topic being one an exception this is not so much a matter of theology rather one of practice and perhaps of culture

The problem with keeping up with the latest fads is they change rapidly, faster than you can follow and in the meantime your rich Anglican Heritage gets forgotten and lost in running the Red Queen's race

My daughter went to an Anglican Sunday School for a while supported by her Grandmother who thought it was a good idea but there was little difference between that and her everyday school experience, she didn't dress for the occasion, was confronted with whiteboards and over head projectors and so forth - it might as well have been lesson of multiplication of Fractions

But going to Church with her grandmother was special, special clothes, head covered in a scarf and a non worldly environment where we leave the mundane at the door and this is what has stuck with three of my four kids, one for now being hostile to the Church, whatever the flavour, but God willing will like the prodigal return

I'd suggest to you that when you become a Bishop, you dress like an Anglican Bishop (is that a purple shirt, Roman collar and pectoral cross?) as a matter of course because in doing so you show the world what you represent and from that evangelization opportunities will arise in everyday interactions. If you are dressed in"business casual" the girl at the supermarket checkout doesn't know you from Adam but dressed the way I suggest she does and if she is seeking or just plain curious the openings will be there and another lost soul may be won

There are many seekers out there and they find answers of a sort in yoga, veganism , environmentalism, astrology and so forth but the approach of the "contemporary church" seems more akin to attending a self help seminar, powerpoint and bullet points leaving the spiritual yearning that many have unmet

That's my thoughts

Glen Young said...


In acknowledgement of your response to my post on Feb. 17th @ 7.27PM: I simply reiterate my statement: "Neither the Church nor Her Doctrine belong to man".
No person coming into the Church has any right to make demands of GOD.All of us, can only stand before GOD, through the "COSTLY GRACE" which He has bestowed upon us.It is "COSTLY GRACE", because it COST GOD the LIFE OF HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON.

Behind the issue, which the Church of England General Synod,the ACANZP Synod and this site(ADU), are debating; lies the assumption that man has the RIGHT to wander into this realm of decision making.The powers given to Peter (Matt 16:19) and the Disciples ( Matt 18:18), relate only to putting into effect Article 20.

I respectfully suggest that the wonderful words about the "Instinctive Anglican genius for living with differences" would make for an interesting chat with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

Peter Carrell said...

As you know, Glen, there is no Anglican doctrine of the Pearly Gates, so I don't expect to be delayed for any chats there. Though I would love to meet my namesake :)

I think many Anglicans will be more than troubled by what judgment involves. It certainly won't involve an examination on the finer points of Instinctive Anglican Genius for anything. Well, perhaps for making cups of tea :)

Father Ron said...

Brendan, it seems to me that all your argumentation here with Peter is based on the premise that monogamously ordered homosexual relationships are sinful.

On what do you base that premise - other than your insistence that biblical evidence is against such relationships when, in fact, there is no such specific relationship described anywhere in the Bible? In any event, as Peter clearly states; the Old Testament sexual taboos are based on the extant understanding of the writers at the time - and to be viewed in the context of the O.T. emphasis on building up the nation by expansion through heterosexual intercourse. At that time, it was considered to be a failing on the part of a woman not to have produced children for the next generation (nothing was said about the men in this context).

Paul's strictures must also be seen in their proper context. It is most likely that he was concerned at the Gentile (Greek) cult of male - and female - prostitution. This had nothing to do with committed monogamous same-sex relationships.

Your emphasis on sexual SIN, as though it were the most horrendous category in The Book belies the attitude of Jesus towards such people. He appeared to be more angry with the advocates of The Law, whose hypocrisy about such matters was evident to Jesus - as witness his story of the Phraisee and the Publican in the Temple.

And then again, Brendan, you are pronouncing that the loving, monogamous, lifelong relationship of two people of the same gender is 'SIN' .Considering the biblical fact that "All have sinned and have fallen short", why should you presume that that such a relationship is less favourable to God than a childless heterosexual relationship; where the injunction "Go forth and multiply" is impossible. May I suggest that you have a poor understanding of what 'SIN' really is. No wonder Jesus told his disciples that "When the Holy Spirit copmes... He will teach you about SIN"; which state of enlightenment may not yet have been granted to conservative people who cling to out-of-date shibboleths - rather than entering into a new era of enlightenment, about what SIN is, and what it is not.

What you need to get under your belt, Brendan, is the fact that homosexual people are, like heterosexual people, "made in the Image and Likeness of God" with all the potential that such a dignity implies. I am mindful that, if you pronounce someone else a 'Sinner', without putting yourself in the very same category; you are running in danger of blasphemy. We are all sinners - sinners already redeemed by Christ. We all have the need to live into that free redemption, with all the hrace and love we can muster. What dioes not help is for any of us to be prepared to "cast the first stone".

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I have about as much chance of becoming a bishop as foreign-born Melania has of succeeding her husband as Prez!
Most working days I wear a priestly clerical shirt ... and very, very few conversations ever result from that. (I realise other clergy have different experiences).
I get what you say about mystery but I think all kinds of Christian churches are capable of conveying the reality of our awesome God.
The problem is churches who think they have cracked that ... and then find the cloud and the fire have moved on!

Glen Young said...

Yes Peter,there is an "Anglican doctrine of the Pearly Gates"; it is known as the "Doctrine of Salvation".It is the core tenant of the first 18 Articles.
You may well mock my desire that the Anglican Communion once again,Worships IT'S "FIRST LOVE"> But, this is the very reason why the ACANZP and the Anglican Communion in general is in it's present predicament.

I sincerely believe that the Anglican Communion is misleading many people about how narrow the "Path to Life is".However, I do not believe that the test will be, as to whether we prayed "thy/your Will";but as to whether we actually followed His Will.

Father Ron said...

If "the doctrine of salvation is the core tenant (sic) of the first 18 'Articles'" then who is the landlord?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
I apologise for appearing to mock your desire for the Anglican Communion to re-find its first love. I have a personal objection to "Pearly Gates" language (and jokes about conversations with St Peter at these imputed gates) as it devalues the significance of salvation and of the day of judgement. But I have no objection to your faithful work in calling Anglicans to the truth of the gospel which teaches that the way is narrow.

Glen Young said...

Peter,when my wife"s Tupuna was offered a seat, which would have got him elected to Parliament; he wrote a letter saying : "Thank you for the kind offer, but unlike you my dear cousin,I can not undo the top button of my shirt". He went on to serve both God and his people in many other ways.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron at 9.17 pm
I am publishing your comment, just, even though it verges on ad hominem.
Reason for publication: fair to discuss the issue of what is sin and what is not.
Reason for judging it to be verging on ad hominem: you make charges about who is enlightened etc. Don't do that. We all have access to the one reliable source of enlightenment, the Scripture. What we do not have access to as individuals is the mind of Christ, save that that be confirmed by the whole church. We do not have confirmation from the whole church (neither Anglican, nor Western Christianity nor Western and Eastern Christianity) that sex between two people of the same gender is not a sin.
Nick above made a pertinent point: on something we do not think is a sin, we need to persuade God of that fact.

Andrei said...

"The problem is churches who think they have cracked that ... and then find the cloud and the fire have moved on!"

Case in point: Crystal Cathedral enters a new era as it transforms into Christ Cathedral

Only in California - no?

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent example, Andrei!
The second nearest Orthodox church in Chch I know of used to be an Anglican church. (The nearest to me, a Coptic Orthodox church used to be a rugby club building, but previously they were in an ex-Methodist church).

Father Ron said...

So, Peter You changed your mind and did not publish my comment.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Last night I published two comments from you, including the one I singled out as verging on ad hominem.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, The Lord is full of mercy and compassion. Thank you for your watch over your blog. May God give you the wisdom you will require.

Bryden Black said...

Well; John 4 might assist us if we were alert to the fuller depth of the story and the Jacob/Rachel//Jesus/woman motifs, transcended in typical Johannine style to the point of view global evangelism and true worship through Jesus the locus of divine Presence.
Or perhaps we'd gain even deeper purchase on That Topic shld we read Jn 10 and the Dedication against the Maccabean Revolt - "no syncretistic rubbish here please!" For Jesus is the true Davidic Shepherd over and against those inadequate and false ones: Ezekiel 34 etc. oops!
From all of which I'd only conclude we've to be most careful about selective quotations, and better learn to read holistically and canonically. From Gen 1&2 to Rev 21-22 would surely suggest the icon of male-female and notably its marital oneness seeks its due Res in the triune God's spousal residing among His People. And I sure hope that fulfillment is derived from the Bridegroom's clear distinction from His Bride - for I'm just not without spot or wrinkles; yet!

Father Ron said...

'For I'm not without spot or wrinkles yet'. Steady, Bryden. Too much information!

Glen Young said...

"The way forward needs to be about love,joy and the celebration of our humanity;of our creation in the image of God,of our belonging to Christ --all of us,without exception,without exclusion". ++ Welby.

"On what basis does he identify this as the way 'forward'? Surely he knows the rich patristic literature from the Church Fathers,where so much consideration is given to the imaging of God in humanity,is matched by the awareness and lamenting over the sin which spoils both likeness and image.
what we celebrate as Christians,is the salvation of our humanity;achieved by repentance of sin meeting the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross". Rev
Dr.Gavin Asherden.

Welby appears to jump from Genesis chapter 2,to the 21st cent.;missing out what happened in the Garden of Eden.He needs to read Article 9.

Bryden Black said...

Just sayin Ron: like you, we're both 'sinners' matey! (See above ...)

Anonymous said...

A Modest Proposal
(with gratitude to Jonathan Swift)

One side can only approve church weddings that conform to the faith and practice of the early church as reflected in scripture. These cannot include homosexuals.

The other side can only approve church weddings that conform to the modern cult of Relationships as reflected in contemporary social practise. These cannot exclude homosexuals.

Dear friends, I rejoice to announce that peace has broken out in the Anglican Communion. For all practical purposes these differing positions point to the same result. Indeed, all but those too-happy warriors whom nobody calls sons of God (St Matthew v 9) will see that the extremes have met on the far side of the circle.

Wintering off the grid in sunny Parador after a curious election season, I should never have thought to post a comment on That tedious Topic. It is fascinating enough to read the daily news alongside a certain fat dossier that fell into my hands from a source with a taste for superb vodka. But Peter's earnest desire to keep ACANZP together prompts me to put all that aside to relieve his godly suffering. Like a train wreck, the news can be watched but cannot be helped. This may be better.

Anonymous said...


Now on one hand, please note that the New Testament does not have a wedding rite at all. The one wedding portrayed in scripture is a family ceremony. And so it remained in the West for more than a thousand years thereafter until the papacy interfered with the natural order.

On the other hand, the goddess Relationships does not like to be worshiped in the house of YHWH, the jealous god. She will receive her devotees in almost any venue but a church. Have we not all attended weddings in public parks, stadiums, ballet studios, art museums, country clubs, etc and of course private homes? This is the present and the future of weddings in the West-- they celebrate the leisure interests of the couple actually getting married.

Given that there actually have been church weddings, each side has a meaning that it been trying to impose on this fact from outside of it. Usually, a bride and a groom at a wedding are thinking about each other, but some of us want to make them think instead about the marriage of heaven and earth, and others of us want to make them think self-improving thoughts rather influenced by feminism, gay rights, etc. To be a church wedding, a rite must carry an advert for one faction or the other, and the bickering over the adverts has lead to the polarised positions mentioned above.

Yet-- this is interesting-- neither pole can consistently support the performance of church weddings in the first place. Even proponents for SSB only want it for homosexuals because heterosexuals already have it. If straight couples were tying their knots elsewhere, then queer couples would never have invented our too-lawyerly church weddings on their own. They would have developed some fresh ceremonial with so much more creative flair that straight couples would have wanted it too.

And-- more interesting-- each side would be most consistent with its own principles in working for abolition. Those eager to restore the purity of the apostolic past should be eager to cleanse churches of this unscriptural vestige of medieval popery. Why should people usually disinclined to ceremony make an exception for this one? And as they reflect on this, evangelicals, who are always eager to bring the gospel into the heart of family life, may see more possibilities in the ancient practise than in the received one. Should any mother of a bride insist on renting the church building for her (technically, the bride's) nuptials, well, it's only a building... And money is money, of course.

Meanwhile, those who see injustice in giving weddings to some but not to all would surely be satisfied if they were given to nobody. How could they not be? Even those who detest the adverts in the traditional weddings should find it better to just put a stop them than to keep trying and failing to win conservative and even African acceptance for progressive adverts. And those ceremonialists who are never happy in a liturgy that they have not written (or revived from medieval Salisbury etc) themselves will attain a bliss never before imagined when they can freely write (or compile) whole weddings and stage them under the firmament itself. Again, when some creative liturgist insists on renting a church building for nuptials others might regard as culturally Marxist abominations, well, it's only a building... And money is still money.

Anonymous said...


Cockaigne just might be tired enough of listening to cranky revisionists and gafconians to adopt the practise of Jesus and the apostles. If even the controversy-loving Church of Cockaigne will consider this, why would not peaceloving ACANZP just adopt it? Of course, the local bishops here in Parador will never explicitly adopt a deviation from the 1662 Prayerbook, and some in ACANZP may feel likewise. But since church weddings are out of fashion even here, the question is whether a church chooses to resist the trend or not. If church weddings should fade away into desuetude with fish Fridays, commination services, etc none here will seriously object to their passing.

So on a calm calculation of the consequences-- both the costs and the benefits-- is not the practise followed at Cana in Galilee the most peaceful Way Forward for all? Mercy and truth are met together : righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I am much taken by your proposal and think it could be readily applied in Western societies.
I would be interested, however, in feedback from Catholic and Anglo-Catholic readers here. Within those traditions marriage has taken on the status of a sacrament, so I imagine it is a little harder to make the move you prescribe.
Mind you, on that Catholic understanding, I was most intrigued at a lecture in Cambridge in 2015 to hear an eminent Catholic theologian remind his mostly Catholic audience that marriage has only been a sacrament for around 1000 years and not since Gospel times!
Last on, first off????

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; the Council of Trent was firm that marriage is a sacrament, though it was stating existing doctrine. Rome will recognise even a civil marriage as long as it's between non-Catholics, so Boman's outside weddings might be fine for non-Cs. Catholics need the bishop's permission if they want a valid marriage other than the same faith version. As for Anglo-Catholics on sacraments, they might get a shock if they read your 39As.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter and Nick, for your thoughtful replies to my *modest proposal*.

The Orthodox arguably have the most robust sacramentology of marriage as well as the rite that best enacts what is believed. And yet one of the larger Orthodox jurisdictions in the US regards a civil marriage between Orthodox as sacramental from the time they first receive communion together, even if that communion was just ordinary participation in a Sunday eucharist. So if a couple are married on Saturday afternoon by a mayor, their sacramental wedding is simply their approach to the chalice on Sunday morning. This is hardly a low sacramentology; it is a high mysteriology of marriage. Having that, some such conclusion seems unavoidable.

Bowman Walton