It has not ejected my church for casting tradition aside in the early nineties when we established our Three Tikanga Church (breaching the tradition of one episcopal rule per territory), nor more recently when we established that the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki would have two "co-equal" bishops (and two cathedrals).
The Communion is also able to episcopally relate to churches with weird names such as the Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church but not because it appreciates weird names. That church is an "Extra Provincial Diocese" which typically refers to a small church which is under the metropolitan oversight of the ABC. But only "typically" because one of these churches, Ceylon/Sri Lanka, has two dioceses and one, Cuba, is under the oversight of a metropolitan council.
Of course the Communion does not welcome all dry and sundry dioceses to its midst. Readers here will know that ACNA (a whole province of dioceses) is kept at arms length and the Diocese of South Carolina, while separate from TEC and not joined (as it now is) to ACNA, was not welcomed into the fold.
But that refusal to welcome has stiffened the resolve of GAFCON (representing the numerical majority of Anglicans in the world) to recognise ACNA. So ACNA is not without reason to continue to retain "Anglican" in its title.
Here in the Blessed Isles, as we work our way through our dilemma over same-sex blessings, we may have to consider the possibility of having an Extra Provincial Diocese created. Before we get to that, a few observations about what I am hearing these days
(1) Concern that the attempt of our church to steer away from doing the solid theological work which should undergird a momentous decision is a mistake. That theological work needs to be done and should be done, if we are to have a semblance of a chance of holding together what otherwise continue to be irreconcilable convictions.
(2) There are seemingly unbridgeable differences which the current interim proposal does not seem to offer a bridge over (despite some, er, at least me, thinking it is a beautiful proposal!); and thus we find this sentence describing our situation:
"... there are two irreconcilable convictions present in the national church; those who see the blessedness of same-sex marriages, and those who believe such relationships should be repented of." (see larger citation below for source).(3) Related to (2) is the concern that it is impossible to teach in a responsible manner what one believes if that is directly contradicted by the neighbouring parish.
Whether you share these concerns or not, whether you think they have weight or not, they do weigh on the minds of people I am hearing from who are doing careful reflection on the situation we are in. They will, I believe, be part of the discussion which Pakeha reps from the seven NZ Dioceses to next year's General Synod will take to a meeting on Saturday in Wellington. A kind of pre-General Synod round up of views and where we are ats.
Why raise the question of talking about an extra provincial diocese? It is because last Thursday, 2 November, Dave Clancey, one of my clerical colleagues here in Christchurch, wrote an article for the GAFCON website, entitled, "Remaining faithful to the gospel in New Zealand - a response to Motion 29."
I understand this article to update global Anglicans on the final views from FCANZ on the Motion 29 Working Group's Interim Report. FCA NZ's initial response, a couple of months back, was published here.
In that initial response there was a response to the Interim Report as it offered a way forward for those dissatisfied with the proposal which was "additional episcopal oversight": FCANZ then wanted "alternative episcopal oversight."
In Dave Clancey's article that request has shifted, as seen in the following excerpt (my bold):
"While the proposals by the Working Group state that the Constitution and the Formularies of the Church are not changing, the change to the Canon allowing services which are inconsistent with the Constitution and Formularies is simply circumventing them. The provision of protection for conservatives through Religious Orders or Communities may be a good start, but FCANZ has said that at a minimum the provision of alternative episcopal oversight (rather than the additional oversight that an Order/Community would provide) would be required. Even then, many feel that this will not be enough.
Ultimately FCANZ sees that the best way forward for the Province of New Zealand is the formation of an Extra-Provincial Diocese. This was FCANZ’s suggestion to the Working Group prior to the release of their Interim Report. Extra-Provincial Dioceses exist in a number of places in the world, and the creation of one in New Zealand would allow faithful Anglicans to remain faithfully Anglican, while at the same time being distinct from the Provincial church. It would also honestly acknowledge that there are two irreconcilable convictions present in the national church; those who see the blessedness of same-sex marriages, and those who believe such relationships should be repented of. An Extra-Provincial Diocese would be the best way for the Provincial church to give expression to this reality.
Should the Provincial church choose not to pursue this proposal, and continue on its stated course of blessing same-sex marriages, many associated with FCANZ will be left with no alternative than to seek new ways of being Anglican."No pressure then, for our meeting in Wellington, for the Motion 29 Working Group as it works soon on its Final Report, and ultimately for General Synod in May 2018!
- we need to find a way forward
- if possible, a way forward through "irreconcilable convictions"
- could that way incorporate Alternative Episcopal Oversight?
- if not possible, and even if it is possible, could we see our way to an Extra Provincial Diocese?
- and if that is not possible ...
I urge Kiwi and other Anglicans here not to reject anything out of hand. See my opening sentences: creativity in modern Anglicanism, especially Down Under, has few constraints.
I ask Kiwi Anglicans to ask ourselves whether we are seeing these matters too much in "black and white" or binary terms. Yes, there are irreconcilable convictions, but there are those who cannot live in a church with irreconcilable convictions, and there are those that can. I think that is at least three groups, not two groups of Anglicans!
Is it whistling in the wind to point out to faithful Anglicans that we already live with contradictions? Just because we do not talk about them much does not change the fact that we live with them.
Right inside Scripture, there are contradictions between the histories we know as 1 Samuel - 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Not just contradictions of narrated facts (compare the respective stories of Manasseh; or ask why the story of Bathsheba figures heavily in one of the histories and not at all in the other) but also contradictions in theologies (Mosaic covenant perspective v. Davidic covenant perspective). These two histories God has seen fit to include in our one Holy Scripture, even though they were composed by different groups of Jews with "irreconcilable convictions."
On what basis do we live with contradictions inside Scripture but not within our church?
Warning: I will not post comments which speculate on or otherwise discuss specific individuals or groups of people in ACANZP in respect of departure. Do not mix such speculation with comment on the concept of (say) AEO or EPD because your comment will not be published. Focus, please, on concepts and ideas and leave views of people out. This post is also not an opportunity to further canvas the much canvassed issues and questions which typically arise when discussing human sexuality. If you want to comment on the situation our church is in, please focus comment on that. There is no need to drift over into comment on human sexuality issues. Constructively speaking, I am looking for comment about whether we can or cannot live with irreconcilable convictions and what a way forward might be as a consequence.
Peter, another way of putting the same thought is that, given the depth of the disagreements, many believe that they face a bad choice between either a dysfunctional collaboration in one church and a distant, even hostile coexistence in two. These may be interested in a third option that is more functional because it is less collaborative, but is less distant because there is a defined inter-communion.
This posits intercommunion as something midway between union and non-recognition. It thus uses an ecumenical concept first cultivated with non-Anglican churches (eg Church of England and Church of Sweden) in relations among Anglican provinces and dioceses. It differs from that in that there are some common institutions that may (or may not) remain to be governed by both parties.
Some may think that this is what should have been done when the Methodists could not be assimilated to the Church of England and The Episcopal Church.
Some may think that this is a return to the more distant relations among even Anglican churches in the period before the Communion was formalised.
One can start thinking either by adding things to a non-relation or by subtracting things from the relation that is. Either way, one is thinking about relation in terms of its component features, which may be something new for a church.
The emotional sense of your comment, that there might be friendly goodwill between ecclesial entities would be covered off - if I understand what FCANZ is proposing - by ACANZP helping to form the EPD (compared to the opposite: a breakaway set of parishes claiming to be an EPD and looking for some entity someone to so recognise).
But you are raising a prospect not conceived here (as far as I can tell): that between an ACANZP and an EPD there might be some kind of mutuality in administration.
Just off the top of my head, one prospect in our particular context might be continuing mutual involvement in our overseas mission work, both its administration and its on the ground work with overseas churches.
The proposition of the Working Group, is in my understanding, completely outside the Constitution 1857. What the Working Group is trying to achieve is either consistent with the Constitution; or it is not. The problem they face is that they are effectively a continuation of the Ma Whea Commission. As I have stated previously, The Ma Whea Commission was established without any mention of the Constitution in it's Terms of Reference. This meant that it's summary did not have to fit the Constitutional obligations of the ACANZP. If they had been required to take cognizance of the Legitimate Doctrine of the ACANZP; they could not have put forward the summary which they did. On the 11th Nov, both the Working Party and General Synod are in the same boat; either their decisions are consistent with the LEGITIMATE DOCTRINE of the ACANZP, or they are not.
Peter, this is your chance to put forward the LEGAL GROUNDS upon which the Working Party's propositions rest or do your legal duty and vote as the Constitution requires of you.
Let's be clear about a few things (and I may be at fault for not being clearer)
1. There is currently no legislative proposal before our church. We are at an Interim stage in a process towards one.
2. Saturday's meeting has no legislative status. It is an opportunity to talk through issues, questions and the like, raised by the Interim Report.
3. I do not like to forecast that I will say such and such at such a meeting because meetings - in my experience - take the course they take and sometimes that course does not provide the opportunity I might have liked to say X. If possible I will raise the question of the constitutional situation.
4. Either way, I am not as convinced as you are that what is currently on the table is impossible to square with the constitution (given what we have squared with the constitution during the history of our church).
On the Constitution of 1857: Does it have a clause explaining how it may be amended?
(a) If so, what is the process?
(b) If not, is it possible that the maker of the Constitution would refuse to amend it?
(c) If not, is it possible for ACANZP to do again whatever was done when women were ordained, tikangas were organised, etc?
(d) If not, is it possible that a minority opposing the official theology underlying a change lacks the legal standing in civil courts to challenge it?
(e) If not, is it possible that in order to secure such standing, the said minority would have to organise themselves as a church (as the Wee Frees did), which is more or less what is being proposed?
(f) If not, is it possible that (as happened in the case of the Wee Frees) the local parliament would amend the civil court's order to make it more equitable to the needs of the two parties, which is also more or less what is being proposed?
(g) If not, does that mean that life in ACANZP would go cheerily on as though nothing had happened?
(h) If not, then why discuss the Constitution of 1857 as if that were all that mattered?
Please accept this assurance of my confidence that, like everything else on the blessed isles, the Constitution of 1857 is the very best of its kind.
Postscript: Do you remember the rabbi that I mentioned a few months ago? He said something else--
"We [Jews] do not believe that the law denies you what you truly desire. That would not be realistic: you can love God's high purposes more than your own plans, but you cannot love a prohibition or a command for its own sake.
Torah never forbids any desire that is deep inside you, although here and there it does deflect a shallow Evil Urge... And you know that the urge is evil because you cannot truly want to satisfy it with all your heart. You have to be drunk, or insane, or blinded by emotion, or deliberately ignoring your conscience to want it...
"If a sin is always something half-hearted, and if a mitzvah [meritorious deed] is always whole-hearted, then most of doing right is just knowing and keeping your own heart. Is it not? The Bible-- your Bible and my Bible-- is clear about this.
"So then why do we need law? Why do we [Jews] spend our whole lives studying law? Why are my students coming here tonight? (Is it only for my beautiful wife's cooking? Maybe...they are young, and when you are young hunger is a deep desire. One of a few...)
"They should be coming because in the sacred Law, God tells us how he has arranged for us to satisfy all of our true desires. Isn't that amazing! This never ceases to astonish me-- each soul is so complex, and there are so many of us, that the sum of our interactions could bring forth myriad worlds that are entirely unlike this one! Our ancestors could have done something else, and everything we see around us would have been different.
But this is even more amazing-- in this kaleidoscopic world, God makes a beautiful order for all of us by planting desires in our hearts and then in the law showing us the best way to fulfill them."
"Torah never forbids any desire that is deep inside you, although here and there it does deflect a shallow Evil Urge... And you know that the urge is evil because you cannot truly want to satisfy it with all your heart. You have to be drunk, or insane, or blinded by emotion, or deliberately ignoring your conscience to want it..." - Bowman -
I find Bowman's comment here fascinating - especially with regard to the quality of a human relationship that is instinctual to those Christians who long to have their legally-constituted same-sex relationship recognised and blessed by our Church. When one considers that - despite centuries of public opposition to such relationships - many people actually involved in them who are practising Christians can still justify their monogamous relationship in their own conscience, to the position where they long for open recognition of their status in the Body of Christ; one wonders why there remains a fear of contamination in the hearts and minds of some of their fellow Christians?
In respect of the members of FOCANZ, who feel they cannot live with the prospect of a formal relationship with such people, one cannot but wonder whether their moral objection is sufficient to warrant a parting of the ways. However, that problem can only be met by the demands of their own individual consciences. I believe there is no such thing as a 'collective conscience'. Each of us has to live within our own conscientious choices.
This is why - though definitely not in favour of the action of schismatic severance on this moral issue (as I have not been on the issues of divorce, contraception, re-marriage after divorce - all of which have something to do with sexuality) I can see that, if one's whole understanding of Christianity
is based on ritual purity, then there could be no co-existence on any of these issues. That is why it is so surprising to me that FOCANZ seems to find this the particular prospect of living with moral difference to be so extraordinary a prospect. In such a case there is no ground for compromise.
This, I believe, is why ACNA - assisted by GAFCON - remains outside of the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. ACNA will not live with TEC.
If, however, FOCANZ elects to stay within ACANZP (and the Communion) - despite its moral objections to any compromise os Same-Sex Blessings for the rest of us - then I could see the possibility of either of two solutions:
1. To stay within ACANZP with separate episcopal oversight, or
2. To negotiate with the ACC and ACANZP on the prospect of forming an extra-territorial Diocesan structure, which relates to, but can operate independently of, and not be governed by, our New Zealand Province. How this could happen would have to be worked out, but I guess that - unless there were some degree of capability of Inter-Communion (at the Eucharistic Table) - this could be a problem. This is why GAFCON is on a collision course with the ACC - there is a lack of willingness to share the Eucharist.
My prayers will be with you all, Peter, at this weekend's meeting - for the best possible outcome that will give glory to God and peace in the Church.
The Constitution 1857, is the foundational instrument which,should if it is followed,keep the ACANZP; true to Her Mission. It is a wonderfully crafted document; with the six "Fundamental Provisions" defining and safeguarding the Doctrine, which the ACANZP must hold and maintain.The Doctrine is defined in F.P.1, as "..... the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as the LORD hath commanded in His Holy Word and the ...[Church]... hath received and explained the same in the Book of Common Prayer, in the form of making, ordaining and concecrating Bishops,Priests and Deacons and the Thirty nine Articles of Religion. And the General Synod hereinafter constituted for the government of this branch of the Church shall also hold and maintain the said Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ and shall have no power to make any alteration ........ . F.P.6 reads "The above Provisions shall be deemed FUNDAMENTAL, and it shall not be within the power of General Synod or any Diocesan Synod to alter,revoke, add to or diminish any of the same.
The "Further Provisions" are mainly of a governmental nature and are are able to be modified by certain processes. The Constitution is written
in the manner it is to protect the large tracks of land which have been gifted to it; and ensuring that ACANZP remains obedient to HER Mission of
"Protecting the Purity of the Holy Writ and Proclaiming it".
The constitution of our church is at http://www.anglican.org.nz/About/Constitution .
I think the answers to your questions (in CAPS) are as follows:
On the Constitution of 1857: Does it have a clause explaining how it may be amended? YES (RIGHT AT ITS END). BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS MAY NOT BE AMENDED (SAVE, I THINK THEY COULD BE VIA AN ACT OF OUR PARLIAMENT ... WHICH PEOPLE ARE LOATH TO RESORT TO).
(a) If so, what is the process? VIA TWO GENERAL SYNODS AND A MAJORITY OF LOCAL SYNODS IN BETWEEN
(b) If not, is it possible that the maker of the Constitution would refuse to amend it?
(c) If not, is it possible for ACANZP to do again whatever was done when women were ordained, tikangas were organised, etc? I DON't THINK THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN INVOLVED A CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE.
(d) If not, is it possible that a minority opposing the official theology underlying a change lacks the legal standing in civil courts to challenge it? ON A MATTER OF DOCTRINE ANY MEMBER OF THE CHURCH COULD ORGANISE A CHALLENGE [I.E. ECCLESIASTICAL TRIBUNAL] TO A DECISION OF GENERAL SYNOD WHICH ALTERED THE FORMULARIES, PROVIDED IT WAS MADE WITHIN ONE YEAR OF THE FINAL DECISION BEING MADE]. OBVIOUSLY ONE COULD ALSO HEAD TO THE CIVIL COURTS. IT WOULD BE UP TO THOSE COURTS TO WORK OUT WHETHER THEY THOUGHT IT WAS IN THEIR JURISDICTION TO HEAR SUCH A CASE.
(e) If not, is it possible that in order to secure such standing, the said minority would have to organise themselves as a church (as the Wee Frees did), which is more or less what is being proposed? I WOULD BE SURPRISED IF A CIVIL COURT ACCEPTED A CASE FROM A NEW CHURCH DEMANDING REDRESS AGAINST THE CHURCH TO WHICH ITS MEMBERS ONCE BELONGED.
(f) If not, is it possible that (as happened in the case of the Wee Frees) the local parliament would amend the civil court's order to make it more equitable to the needs of the two parties, which is also more or less what is being proposed? UNLIKELY, ESPECIALLY WHEN OUR PARLIAMENT PRETTY MUCH UNIFORMLY FAVOURS SSM.
(g) If not, does that mean that life in ACANZP would go cheerily on as though nothing had happened? HARD TO SAY.
(h) If not, then why discuss the Constitution of 1857 as if that were all that mattered? BECAUSE WHAT STILL MATTERS IN OUR 1992 CONSTITUTION, AND CARRIED OVER FROM THE 1857 CONSTITUTION, ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS WHICH SPELL OUT THAT WE MAY NOT DEPART FROM THE DOCTRINE AND SACRAMENTS OF CHRIST AS EXPLAINED IN THE BCP, THE ORDINAL AND THE 39A.
FURTHER NOTE: in 1928, concerned that our desire to adopt the 1928 BCP might lead to a challenge from disaffected Anglicans who would claim title to church property on the basis that they were the pure adherents to the 1662 BCP and thus faithful to the constitution, our church sought for our Parliament to pass the 1928 Church of England Empowering Act, which clarified that our church did have power to make certain changes - as provided for in the 1857 constitution - even if the "Mother Church" was not going to make them (as was the case with the 1928 BCP).
I understand this to mean that a challenge to (say) SSB would need to be on the grounds that it contravened the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, rather than that our church had no power to make changes (as indeed it has exercised with recent prayer book revision, ordination of women, etc).
But I might be wrong ...
Thank you so much, Glen and Peter, for your link to, and commentary upon, the Constitution of 1857. It is clearly a better conceived document than eg the earlier TEC Constitution.
Sorry, a double negative at (b) somehow survived my editing. In some places, churches have been incorporated by an act of the local parliament, which could in theory revise that constitution. (Indeed, the Constitution of the Dominion of Canada was until fairly recently an act of the British Parliament that the Canadian Parliament could not amend!) Is that the case with your church's constitution?
From Peter's answer to (c), I take it that the disputed question is whether provision for SSM changes a fundamental doctrine or not. With Glen, I like the distinction drawn within the document between fundamental and further provisions.
From Peter's reply to (d), it seems that ACANZP itself concedes the standing to sue for relief from a General Synod decision eg to worship a golden calf. Very civilised, even Christian. Perhaps Peter likes quasi-parliamentary synods so much more than I do, in part, because his General Synod does not demand recognition of its infallibility and my General Convention apparently does, even over against the rest of the Communion.
Speaking of (e) and (f), the Wee Frees did not exactly break away from the Free Church of Scotland; they refused to join the majority of the FCS in a merger with another church that would have had the startling effect of relaxing the rigour with which Reformed doctrinal standards were held from about 1.007 calvins to about 997 millicalvins. So the Wee Frees met across the hall in regular order as the continuing FCS and voted to sue in civil court for possession of all the property belonging to FCS. At trial, the court heard a spirited debate about Hegel that would be hard to imagine today. The Law Lords found that the Wee Frees were indeed the authentic FCS and gave them the keys to everything. But this burdened the Wee Frees with vastly more property that they could manage, and deprived the majority of everything. The British Parliament intervened with a more equitable settlement that gave enough to each of the two sides to make them whole.
From what Peter says about the Church of England Enabling Act, it seems that some might dispute whether any doctrine is involved in acts that recognise civil facts.
Again, I thank you both for your patience with my ignorance.
Father Ron, you give me too much credit for the evolution of Modern Orthodoxy in Judaism. But I am glad that you found the rabbi's thinking interesting.
"I believe there is no such thing as a 'collective conscience'. Each of us has to live within our own conscientious choices."
On That Topic, Father Ron, actual consciences show a conspicuous correlation with age, location, and class.
"one wonders why there remains a fear of contamination in the hearts and minds of some of their fellow Christians? ...who feel they cannot live with the prospect of a formal relationship with such people..."
I rarely encounter anything like this "fear of contamination," and only then among the oldest members of society. Homophobia does not rise with age. Rather, the oldest among us are the only ones who grew up amid the most pervasive institutional sanctions on homosexuals. It is not easy for most people of any age to separate the chaff in their moral upbringing from the wheat.
"one cannot but wonder whether their moral objection is sufficient to warrant a parting of the ways. However, that problem can only be met by the demands of their own individual consciences. "
I do not hear homophobia in those who came of age in metropolitan areas in the 1970s and after. What I do hear in some is--
(a) Individual consciences only work if they are formed by a stable, coherent, definite authority;
(b) In secular societies that offer no such authority for rules of private morality, it will by definition come from religion;
(c) Recently, the Bible and the Pope have been the only Christian authorities that have passed the tests of stability, coherence, and definiteness; apart from these two, churches have not passed.
(d) Since a Christian must have rules of personal morality, s/he must choose whether to follow the Bible or the Pope.
(e) Since a Christian must also have a church that supports those rules, s/he must belong to one that follows either the Bible or the Pope.
(f) Either way, following is not 'picking and choosing'.
(g) In particular, the warmest possible personal regard for homosexual persons cannot warrant 'picking and choosing'.
(h) Churches that reject (g) do not satisfy (e).
(i) When a Christian's church does not satisfy (e), s/he must join one that does.
I do not hear any homophobia in this. Nor do I hear hypocrisy; rather I hear a very determined avoidance of hypocrisy.
There are answers to this argument worth considering, but it seems urgent to first recognise the truth that is in it. In particular, wishing that so many people did not find authorities with stability, coherence, and definiteness helpful is a dead end, because it is really wishing that they were different people altogether.
As far as I know we were never incorporated by Act of Parliament.
Bishop Selwyn in 1857 was clear that we were not to be an established church.
However it is also clear to me from the first couple of "Fundamental Provisions" that our church in 1857 was going to be happy to follow any changes the CofE made to its fundamentals, changes which could only have occurred if the British Parliament approved them.
By 1928, however, we were happy to accept a prayer book that the British Parliament would not accept, had given ourselves the right to do that, but sought an Act of Parliament to confirm that right, the 1928 Church of England Empowering Act.
Peter, I'm anxious to get back to your OP. You replied to my comment with--
"But you are raising a prospect not conceived here (as far as I can tell): that between an ACANZP and an EPD there might be some kind of mutuality in administration."
True. I could speculate on the possibilities, if they are really hard to imagine, but the broader point is this: it is important to have both centripetal and centrifugal forces in play, and alongside intercommunion, common mission to ACANZP itself and to New Zealand and the world beyond is a good sort of centripetal force.
And consider this frame for the proposal as a whole: the unity that God desires for us is not the uniformity of manufactured products but the increasing convergence in Him of those traveling from varied and even far-flung starting points (see Babel, Pentecost, travels of apostles). Nothing would have been dumber amid the miracle of Pentecost than for all speakers of one of the languages to have left the room because the other disciples were not fluent in it.
Our diversity is the result, not of doubts about Who has the truth, but rather of his creative intention to make the creation and new creation diverse. We are all greatly influenced by our social formations; these are the starting points for our Christian lives; Anglican churches everywhere comprise more than few of them and yet many fewer than they should. But in themselves these starting points are as much social ideology as faith and cannot be his full intention.
Indeed paradoxically, pure devotion to Jesus Christ alone requires the impurity of having disciples who start from several different backgrounds and learn different things along the way as they draw nearer to him. Any church that sets out with utter likemindedness in all things is probably just stuck, a vehicle for the social ideology of just one of those starting points. Staying stuck is not faithfulness to the gospel. Mutual disagreement and criticism among kinds of Christians is not a bug in our common life. It is a central feature.
Thus there are deep positive reasons for Anglicans of different minds to want to work together in Him, so long as they honestly remain who they are as they do it.
(a) what about utilising the model of The Bishop of Maidstone for those who do / do not see the blessing of SSM (and SS Civil Unions?) as consonant with scripture / constitution? Parties on both sides of that fence have significant reasonings from scripture to inform their consciences. (Although the phrase "both sides" is simplifying matters a bit too much... I am sure there are several shades of in-betweenness.)
(b) I presume that those who voted for Motion 29 thought it was either constitutional to do so, or if they didn't, voted for it in the interests of giving a proposal a respectful hearing. It would seem prudent for us to agree to seek a declaratory opinion on whether it is or is not constitutional in advance, rather than make a decision then have one group take the church to court over it. However, whatever a secular judge decides on the matter of constitutionality, would we agree with it and should we? Would s/he be infallible?
(c) I agree with the comment that it is wise to think through the theology (as has been mentioned) in advance of any significant proposed change. The best theology for the blessing of SSM (and SS Civil Unions?) I have seen to date is Brownson's "Bible, Gender, Sexuality". (See also Andrew Goddard's 70 page critique of this book). The debate contained in "Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church" ed by Preston Sprinkle, has also been (personally) helpful thinking through the theology of this.
The Church of England Empowering Act 1928 was enacted to clarify where the Church in NZ stood in relation to Canterbury when or if NZ ceased to be a Colony.The Act reinforces the Fundamental Provisions of the Constitution 1857 and also spells out processes which must be followed if the non Fundamental Provisions are to be changed. Sec 7 "Nothing in this Act shall annul,limit or abridge the inherent power of the Supreme Court [NZ] to prohibit anything purporting to be done under this Act on the ground that it is not a bona fide exercise of the powers conferred by this Act".
The Third Schedule of the Act,para. 4 " The following explanatory words shall be appended to the thirty-seventh of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion: 'It is not to be inferred from this Article that the Civil Power has authority in this Colony to determine purely spiritual questions or to hinder the Church from determining such questions by its own authority.
The problem thus arises for General Synod that their determinations must be consistent with the Doctrine as defined in the Constitution 1857. Therefore they face a double legal bind.They can not step outside that Doctrine nor ask Parliament to change that Doctrine.
I have asked the Bishops [Auckland] many times to tell me as to what power or authority they were acting under; but have never received a satisfactory response as to whether they acting under the Constitution or the Act. When I have time I will give you my version of what it is all about.BTW,enjoy your blogs.
This thread seems to have become dominated by the Law versus grace argument.
T accept that that is how the thread looks, but I question whether "law v grace" is fair comment.
We are talking here about constitutional and canonical changes (or not) which might (or might not) catalyse significant change (whether setting up an EPB, generating an AEO, or simply incurring the loss of a large number of parishioners (one recent estimate made to me: one fifth of all Anglicans worshipping in Canterbury!) or ...).
That is, given that we are a church with rules and regulations, with responsibilities and recognitions, not to say bills to pay as well, then we should be sure upon which legal, theological bases we make decision X, or Y, or Z.
The whole of God's creation exists and is sustained by the Godhead according to LAWS; of which even modern science has little understanding. The Law of Creation V the law of being; had mili-seconds to end on one hand and come into being on the other; or else there would have been a continuing cycle of Creation/destruction/Creation.Even at my age, I am still in awe of the Creational Power of the Almighty Godhead. It leaves one in no question, that life must be lived according to the COMMANDMENTS of the Almighty CREATOR. We know so little about the beautiful Garden He has given us to dress and maintain; and so little about those beautiful HELPMATES He gave us to achieve His Commandments; but still, like Adan and Eve, we want to strike out and do it our way [even though the cost of rebellion is still spiritual death'
That COSTLY GRACE, of which Bonhoeffer so often spoke, calls us to die in all of our old desires to do it my way and take up our cross and "follow Him". It is the call that the Crucified CHRIST; and He alone has the right to make on our lives and being. It is here in CHRIST AND IN CHRIST alone that the LAW AND GRACE BECOME ONE AND THE SAME.
Dear Bowman, in your extensive comment on individual moral conscience, which you seem to relegate to the influence of either the Pope or the Bible; I'm afrad that neither source has been proved to be infallible - except for convinced Roman Catholics or Sola Sctriptura believers. It is interesting aslso to note, in that context, that these two categories of believers do not converge to the point where they could share in the Eucharistuc Celebration (one of the evidential tests of Christian koinonia).
At the risk of sounding repetitive - a not unusual characteristic of many of us on this thread - may I suggest that; for members of ACANZP to be able to accommodate the prospect of contraception, the remarriage of divorcees and other substantial moral differences without resorting to schismatic severance - while yet using the prospect of the blessing of legally married same-sex Christian partners as a reason for the breaking of kononia - is, at the very least, a mark of a selective moral conscience.
Dear Glen, Ron and Bowman
I think I am more interested in whether we can remain in conversation as members of God's family about continuing issues, not least because they, well, continue ... has contraception between an unimpeachable success? are we working hard enough to end divorce (because we work better on marriages)? is marriage really possible for two people of the same gender ... it is early days yet ... what is the relationship between law and grace? what is God's power and how does it work in our lives?
Surely better to keep talking, keep in fellowship, and keep searching for the truth ... together.
And, yes, conscience will inform and be informed by these conversations.
Bonhoeffer, the Pope, the ABC, even blogs (!!) all have a contribution to make.
But does schism have any contribution to make? We Christians do seem to spend a lot of time post-schism wondering how we can undo the damage!
Bravo, Peter! You're beginning to sound like a real, traditional member of the Church of England - our Mother Church. Not a bad start for a conversation about the real people we are meant (and really want) to attract into our churches.
It is possible to have fascinating threads that do not have any explicit arguments at all.
For example, it is often interesting and useful to read responses to Peter's Original Posts that present relevant experiences, telling experiments, hilarious digressions, known unknowns. Facts.
And since opinion, voting, factions-- in a word, disagreements-- are often the subject of his Original Posts, it can be interesting to read about the thinking of the People who disagree. Why do they think what they do? Is there any history to this thinking? How do they cope with that today? What does one perspective show some that another perspective does not show others? Why does that happen? What is the common ground that leads them even to talk to each other? People. Believers might even call them Souls.
So one's response to an Original Post need not be to agree with it for some invincible reasons or to disagree with it for some invincible reasons. And a fortiori, one's response to any of the derivative posts in the thread below need not be an Argument.
One could give up Arguments on Fridays or for Lent-- some Souls probably should try this-- and yet offer the most interesting comments that we have yet read here.
But if there must be Arguments, then let them at least be (a) the strongest form that these Arguments take (some Readers may care about the truth), and (b) the form that best represents the way intelligent people actually hold them (some Readers may care about the People, the Souls).
After all, shadow boxing never gets to a knockout. There is no great honour in proving that one can prop up a weak or unrepresentative Argument and then cut it down to one's own deluded satisfaction. Where opinions collide there is much hazard of self-deception. Let us not be heroes in our own minds.
Occasionally, I offer a more than usually explicit Argument that I attribute to Others. These are the ones with several steps in them designated by letters (a), (b), (c)... And by "attribute to Others" I mean that I say that they believe the Argument in some form close to the one I give, whilst I myself believe something else. Now people offer Arguments with all sorts of conscious and unconscious motivations, but for my part this sort of offering is motivated by a disinterested Curiosity about, and Charity for, People or Souls important to Peter's Original Post but Under-represented in the thread about it. Almost anyone can see how that can be a bad thing.
The Arguments I mention are sometimes effective disinfectants against self-deceived wrangling. But as Readers will have seen, it is usually not. But sometimes they do make it easier for the Under-represented to represent themselves here in the threads.
Given my motivations and my distinct position, I have no reason to care whether other commentators agree or disagree with that sort of Argument. And I don't. But if there are any Readers who also have "Curiosity about, and Charity for, People or Souls important to the Original Post but Under-represented in the thread about it" then it would be gratifying to read replies from them that actually use the Argument to engage the thinking of the People or Souls who, although Under-represented here, are important to the Original Post.
After all, you yourself, Esteemed Reader, may be Under-represented. Why should that be so?
Let's have open and honest dialogue on the issue of the need for an Extra Provincial Diocese. For whom would it be? From comments I have read on your site; and in a "Pastoral letter from the Archbishops" [14th May 2014]; it seems that question, has already been determined. So how can we have any meaningful discussion, when we know what the Archbishops are determined to achieve and the only question is how? Peter, this is not a matter of keeping in fellowship,talking and seeking the truth. We have already, on your site been presented with the TRUTH;"that homosexuality is innate, and He who made them in the Beginning [Christ] did not know or understand this [Matt 19 & Mark 10], or that loving and committed same-sex relationships are the modern equivalent of the Genesis ordained marriage; and should be "BLESSED", if not "PERFORMED" by the ACANZP.. And if you will not accept this, you are sola scriptural legalists. Peter, try keeping in touch with the Man.U. Club,talking with them and searching for the truth as to which is the finer game,football or rugby.
Sadly,I feel that one faction of the issue, has claimed the legitimacy of their stance, to be what the genuine ACANZP doctrine should be; when in fact, Art.20 and the 18th Homily of the 35th Art, should strike it out.
I for one, would have no part in belonging to an Extra Provincial Diocese because I accept the Doctrine of ACANZP, as it has been proclaimed since 1857. All Bishops and Clergy who want a different theology of human sexuality, than what Christ Himself taught, are free to do what they will, other than; try to circumvent the legitimate Doctrine, Tradition and practice of the ACANZP.
Dear Bowman, you seem to me like an earnest Soul who needs a blog of his own. Do you in fact have one?
I am not publishing your latest comment.
You must comment on issues, not on people.
The issue your comment needs to be redirected towards is whether or not the constitution supports what you think our church should decide.
We have a constitution, it speaks about the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as explained in Scripture, the BCP, Ordinal and 39A. Does what you propose fit with that or not?
As a church, for some years now, we have been committed to finding a way forward for those who wish to bless same sex relationships and those who do not. That has been clear and transparent, though not everyone realises that.
There are questions whether that can be done with sufficient safeguards and questions whether that can be done in accordance with the constitution or not.
My sense is that both sides are (in their respective majorities) pursuing how this might unfold without getting into the constitutional aspect. That may be right or wrong and it may come unstuck because someone such as yourself may bring a legal challenge. But what I sense is happening is that both sides are acknowledging the strength of commitment on each side and recognising that that commitment is better not to be sidelined by appeal to the constitution.
My sense may be wrong but I do ask that you ask around in your own diocese whether my sense or your sense of what is happening in our church is accurate in its description.
Peter, you and your majority of correspondents who pretty clearly believe ACANZP has no right to bless legal same-sex marriages - vis-a-vis the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer (which has already had its approved replacement in ACANZP) and the 29 Articles - which are not even specifically mentioned in the Ordination Liturgy of our Church, and which, if now followed to the nth degree could cause serious imlications for our filial relationships with other Churches - have prompted me to say nothing further on the thread. No doubt you and your friends here, will be relieved.
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