Monday, February 24, 2020

Anglican Ecclesiology 2020: Lambeth or Boycott?

As the Anglican Communion heads this year towards Lambeth 2020 - the opportunity every 10 years or so for every Anglican diocese throughout the world to be represented by its bishop(s) at a conference - it is worth a few words on the ecclesiologies which are at work among us.

A noticeable phenomenon in the run up to Lambeth is the willingness of bishops who disagree over That Topic to gather there (including, intriguingly, Kenyan bishops whom their Archbishop is permitting to attend even though he himself will not).

That is, this year there will be an underlining of the fact that the division among Anglicans around the globe is not "because of That Topic" but because at least two different ecclesiologies are held by Anglicans.

The (as I will call it) Lambeth ecclesiology is held by those who understand that Anglicans hold various matters in common (enabling meeting together) and many matters in difference (so meeting together is opportunity to talk about these matters).

By contrast the (we may as well call it) GAFCON ecclesiology is held by those who understand that Anglicans may (actually, should) divide over certain matters, that that willingness to divide is critical to Anglican character, and that correct doctrine is prerequisite for meeting together. A GAFCON ecclesiology, in other words, is a willingness to boycott meetings when it is determined that people holding the wrong doctrine are going to turn up.

From an historical perspective we might note - I think reasonably and fairly - that a Lambeth ecclesiology flows with the arc of Anglican history, noting the ways in which Anglicanism has followed the via media, enabled both Protestant and Catholic sentiments to hold together within the framework of one prayer book and generally gone with Hooker's arguments about avoiding Catholicizing and Puritanizing extremes. A GAFCON ecclesiology, by contrast, is a Puritan ecclesiology finally dominant in a fairly significant number of Anglicans around the globe. (Strictly, a majority of "Anglicans in the pews" but a minority of Anglican provinces).

Of course much remains to be seen about how these ecclesiologies unfold this year. For instance, will Lambeth 2020 be an environment in which (say) "debate" is encouraged compared with "discussion"? Will the grassroots of bishops be able to move a resolution from the floor of the conference or will it be a stage-managed conference in which such democratizing possibilities are ruled out? Might GAFCON 2020 unexpectedly put out an olive branch towards Lambeth?

Also, of course, we could have an interesting discussion about which ecclesiology is "Anglican/unAnglican" or "better." I think that is a little pointless. "Anglican" is always contestable. Hooker wrote not because he had an idle Sunday afternoon to fill in with hypotheses about ideal Anglicanism but because there was a contest. The first Lambeth Conference was not called because the ABC thought it a nice idea. There was a contest of ideas which needed sorting out.

But what I would like to set out here is my reasoning why Anglicans contemplating boycott of Lambeth 2020 should re-think their position.

(1) It is not a good ecclesiology to force or enforce a point of view by not turning up to engage in conversation/discussion/debate. Necessarily an ecclesiology willing to boycott is willing to divide and an ecclesiology willing to divide the church always diminishes our witness as Christians. Nevertheless I acknowledge that GAFCON does not see itself as a dividing of the Communion permanently so much as a gathering place for those who will re-commit to practical unity when the remainder of the Communion wakes up to its theological error.

(2) That Topic can be characterised as a matter of doctrine, of adherence to orthodoxy and thus, on the face of it, justification for boycott appears reasonable, even heroic: "We are not going the way of the world, we are resisting the cultural hegemony which is shaping the church when it should be the other way round." But it is not a fair characterization. Not least because it does not do justice to faithful Anglicans who have come to a belief that orthodoxy on the doctrine of marriage is neither as simple as some statements make out (e.g. there is not one, single, global view on remarriage after divorce, which incidentally has led to no boycotts of global Anglican conferences ever) nor beyond debate in the light of new understanding on homosexuality. That is, unless we believe that Anglicanism is synonymous with the revelation of an unchanging understanding of homosexuality, it is simple respect for brothers and sisters in Christ to acknowledge that Anglicanism could include those who think there is an unchanging revelation and those who think there is not on the matter of homosexuality.

(3) Anglicanism through history has made accommodation to changes in understanding of God's revelation in Scripture. I have no idea throughout the Communion how many Anglicans hold to an understanding of the six days of creation in Genesis 1 which would be completely at home in, say, the 16th century while also at great variance with discoveries about evolution, age of the universe and of our planet, actual progress of creation in respect of light and matter. But I am sure there are some, even as many, many Anglicans have made the adjustment of an historic understanding of Genesis 1 in order to teach a doctrine of creation compatible with both the text of Genesis and with accepted scientific discoveries. And there is no boycott proposed because Anglicanism accommodates both views in its midst.

(4) While we can readily acknowledge 1001 ways in which the sexual revolution of the 20th century has unleashed a cultural tide of opposition to traditional, biblical, orthodox Christian sexual morality, itself part of a larger tsunami of philosophical change and challenges flowing against Christianity since the Enlightenment, we can also distinguish that cultural tide from the specific point of difference on homosexuality among Anglicans.

That point of difference is Anglicans awakening to two realities among their families, friends and congregations:

(1) that beloved people have the courage to identify that they do not belong to the assumed normality of heterosexuality so that when we are talking about "homosexuals" we are no longer talking about an "us" and "them" division of society but about our sons, our nieces, the person who sits next to us in the pew who reads the same Bible, sings the same hymns and prays to the same Lord as everyone else in the congregation.

(2) these beloved people are driven like everyone else with sexual desire, with ambition for intimacy, with longing to love and to be loved in the permanent embrace of a lifelong partnership. And, here is the point of difference, such awakened Anglicans asking whether it is a dereliction of doctrine, a revision of orthodoxy, a simple caving into cultural tides to propose that the church might view lifelong partnerships between two people of the same sex with commendation rather than condemnation. At stake here, similar to 3 above, is a new understanding of what it means to be human, to be granted the gift of life, including the capacity to love another, in the context of creation.

In other words, it is reasonable to propose that when Anglicans differ on this matter we might remain in the same room, attend the same conference because we can respect that difference has arisen in a responsible manner, not because of a tragic lapse into heresy etc. Essentially this is what ACANZP's General Synod 2018 decisions mean.

And if Hookerian Anglicanism means anything at all, does it not mean that we approach matters of dispute seeking to understand the reasoning which has led to the issue or issues at stake with a willingness to seek accommodation of reasonable points of view?


Father Ron said...

Thank you, Bishop Peter, for your exhaustive account of our Anglican situation at this present time. I think this sentence says a great deal about the reality existing today:

"The first Lambeth Conference was not called because the ABC thought it a nice idea. There was a contest of ideas which needed sorting out".

Because of its controversial beginnings, our Anglican Church has had to be open to cumulative ideas and understanding of the world as it has unfolded historically and sociologically. This explains the need for an accommodation of 'reason' into the tradition of biblical adherence that was the heritage of the Protestant reformation. It is thus that we can claim both a Catholic and a Protestant Tradition.

Arguments along the lines of Sola Scriptura - that limits scriptural interpretation to that of the time of the Reformation - need to take into account that the reforms of that time dealt with specific problems that had cropped up in the life of Western Christianity under papal rule, that had compromised the perception of how the community of Christians ought to behave in that society.

One issue, such as the 'sale of indulgences', in which the Church offered time off in purgatory in exchange for a sum of money; became the rallying point for people like Martin Luther, whose reforms went on to the renunciation of celibacy as an integral requirement for celebrating the sacraments of the Church. Thus began a period of reforming influence that has issued in such innovations as the ordination of women and, in some Anglican Churches (including the Church of England), the ordination of transgender and same-sex-partnered clergy and bishops.

The slogan: "Jesus Christ is the same; yesterday, today and forever" is not denied in the evolution of the doctrine of the Church - which has to account for the continuing changes that have become evident in society and the world at large. Where extant 'tradition' no longer fits in with the expressed real needs of humanity, the Church needs to keep abreast of how to deal with the realities of everyday life - in ways that enable human thriving to the very best of our modern, scientifically observable, God-given understanding.

Our understanding of the evolving cosmos has to exponentially take note of new learnings - bearing in mind the biblical ethics embraced by Jesus himself, whose rejection of the comfortable status quo of stale religious traditions was one of the reasons for his political demise - at the hands of the religious establishment of his own day

Truth, Justice, and Mercy are hallmarks of the Kingdom of God. So, where the Church resists the working out of these attributes, we run the risk of becoming irrelevant to the working out of God's purpose.

Anonymous said...

"By contrast the (we may as well call it) GAFCON ecclesiology... is a willingness to boycott meetings when it is determined that people holding the wrong doctrine are going to turn up."

And to applaud when Africans parachute into the American heartland to start new dioceses for a province across the Atlantic, and Australians grab across the ditch for parishes in New Zealand, etc. No, the GAFCON ecclesiology is the idea that a club can at any time over any matter-- or no matter at all, if it seems more profitable-- decide that there is no Anglican church in a place where they desire a presence. But still show up at Lambeth to discern matters of faith and morals for the Communion (with bishops from the non-churches of those places).

This is not Puritanism; it's corruption.


Anonymous said...

Corruption? Ha! Tec knows a lot about that. Where should one begin? Bruno in LA expropriating and selling churches over the worshipers' heads to fund his failings? The Falls Church being wrested from the hands of those who paid for it over many decades? Bennison? Schori declaring that the apostle Paul spiritually abused the slave girl he set from demonic possession? The Tec bishops ganging up against Bishop Love? The proliferation of Tec bishops now in same-sex 'marriages', all in defiance of Lambeth 1998? The list of corrupt and mendacious acts goes on and on. Nor are Australian bishops "grabbing" parishes in NZ. Those groups of Christians walked away from their properties and organized themselves, with the support of Anglican bishops from every corner of the world. Please try to get the facts correct before commenting - and accusing others of "corruption".
Yes, we know how 'prophetic' and 'Spirit-led' all this was, and no doubt you can offer an eloquent word salad to show how this is all a new and exciting work of God in the world. But the closed seminaries and closed Episcopal churches across the US and Canada - and New Zealand - with catastrophic falls in membership and attendance, and an absence of children from most of these churches, tell another and more basic story. I'm sure you (and Peter) know the demography: on present trends, quite literally there will be NO ONE in Tec and ACC churches by 2040. Fine words separate from the actual Gospel of Christ build nothing but castles (or cathedrals) in the air.


Anonymous said...

Postscript-- Offline, I have been asked why, despite my usually patient and amicable temperament, I am so reflexive and rigorist-- "in is in, out is out"-- about Lambeth Conferences. The puzzlement is honest; the question is fair. At dinner parties, I am indeed a winsome guest or tolerant host, and in most discussions my sympathies are broad. But on this particular point, yes, I am an implacable hanging judge.

Anonymous said...

There are three reasons. All are American, but perhaps not unknown elsewhere.

(1) Communion inaction has allowed the Continuum to fester. In the long history of Christendom, organic unity lost has almost never been regained, and in the short history of the United States a lot of the organic unity of the Body has been lost or diluted. It is bad enough that domestic schisms have happened here as often as they have-- Kurt Hill in NYC has compiled a long list of splits from TEC alone-- but schisms fomented here by rogue bishops from elsewhere and then validated by the Communion overseas do more damage, and disqualify the Communion itself as a credible site for future peacemaking. Inevitably-- no matter which side you prefer-- this rather diminishes the value to the Body here of having a church or two among us with some vague accountability to Lambeth Conferences.

(2) Communion infighting distracts from discerning. Recall that they were first convened-- and could still be helpful here-- for no-nonsense discernment of the hard questions of a changing world. Yet loose bilateral relationships are more than sufficient for the fuzzy sentimentality and brand-name identity that are more important to several other churches. From one American perspective, a much smaller communion that is better organized for the original and primary mission would be much more helpful to us. That was the implicit point of ++ Katherine Jefferts-Schori's heavy involvement with the Union of Utrecht, and it may be the only matter on which I agreed with her. Meanwhile, because brand-focused members of GAFCON fidget and break china in everything that flies over their pick-and-choose bilateralism toward actual decide-it-together Communion, they are not only useless as partners for discernment, but obstacles to the consultations that do informally happen in and around Porvoo or Utrecht.

In fairness to the fidgets, dear reader, please note that they squirm and break things because they have priorities that reverse those of the Lambeth Conferences of old. They have no desire-- no real need-- to be dragged to Lambeth every ten years for earnest discernments on outre matters that frankly embarrass them in the eyes of folks back home. And in a way not anticipated in the British Empire, they really do need for the Anglican brand to make sense in the streets and on the screens as Nike or Apple or Microsoft do. When they are less narcissistic and grandiose than some leaders of GAFCON have been, they have more empathy for the predicament of bishops in societies like ours. But they still have the needs that they have.

(3) Communion laxity emboldens scofflaws. No disciple will deny this-- the Body in my country should be healing this society's *negative partisanship*. In principle, an Anglican Communion that has itself bridged many of the same divisions should be inspiring that very effort. But the Communion has not just failed to do that; it wallows in weakness in the face of the cynicism, incivility, and manipulation that preempt peacemaking. What would Jesus do? Not that. Well, what would St Peter do? He would not invite prelates who transgress catholic order to Lambeth Conferences or give them communion anywhere in England. And what would Francis or Bartholemew do? Either would depose them, more or less automatically, for obvious breaches of the ancient order of other churches.

And so would any peacemaking communion that may come to be. Those who test every boundary to see what they can get away with only learn-- by their own choice-- from steps we normally avoid. Any who fancy themselves to be Reformed will recall that the reformers called this the First Use of the Law.

Meanwhile, even if not hopeful, I remain happy that another Conference will meet soon. + Peter among others will enjoy the travel. The connections made and insights shared will plant good seeds around the world. Good will come of it even if, as is more than possible, not much gets decided.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew and Bowman

Andrew: I think you are missing Bowman’s specific point re “corruption”: that some Anglicans around the globe are seeking to be recognised by invitation to Lambeth while also engaging in that form of church planting which effectively denies that an Anglican Church already exists in a locale. (Clearly there are Anglicans around the globe engaged in such church planting who are entirely happy not to be recognised by invitation to Lambeth just as the original Puritans sought to go their own way and happy to put distance between themselves and the CofE as they did so.)

Bowman: I don’t think our local situation re new Anglican parishes is an Australian “grab”! Some Australians are supporting these new parishes as they remain faithful to their understanding of being Anglican but the governance here is local, not international.

All Anglican churches have challenges, some which arise from faulty leadership etc - I don’t think anyone here is denying that (as mentioned above) TEC, ACCan, ACANZP are human institutions which have erred and strayed. The question is whether such churches (including new Anglican churches) are repenting, listening to the Spirit, reforming, and generally learning from past mistakes. TEC, for instance, did manage to elect Curry as their Presiding Bishop following Schori which at the least means the kinds of directions re a Christ-less message we saw emerging from the previous leadership have not been affirmed let alone developed by the present leadership.

David Wilson said...

Peter, speaking as someone whose past academic background is science (theoretical astrophysics, if you must know) I would be wary of using the interpretation of Genesis 1 as forming any analogy to the present situation of issues in the Anglican communion.

The interpretation of Genesis 1 has a long history. Augustine (of Hippo, not our Anglican one) rebuke those who insisted on an interpretation which seems ridiculous to those with the understanding of the cosmos which was around at his time. Indeed, the understanding of creation and its relation to God which is found in that chapter is part of the reason that modern science was able to arise in Christendom.

Science, by its very nature, describes what is. It is a fallacy to then think that this informs us about what ought to be. Science might supply some suggestions as to the reasons why a person desires certain things, or undertakes some action. However, that says nothing about the morality of the desire or the action. Violence is clearly genetically linked. Does this mean that violence is good?

In addition, the science relating to That Topic is constantly shifting (as is our understanding of the cosmos). It is a poor means for determining good and bad.

The Church of England, and hence the Anglican Communion, stems from the Reformation, and it is one with other Protestant Churches in this. However, the Reformation was not about innovation. Rather, it recognised some ways in which the Church had wandered from its true calling. The Reformation was about taking the Church back to where it had been.

I am an alumnus of the same Cambridge college as Matthew Parker, who bequeathed his magnificent library of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to it. Those books were gathered by him because he wanted to show how the first millenium church in England had been closer to what the Church should be than the Church of Rome was at his time. Looking back to origins seems to be part of the Anglican DNA.

A better comparison would be with the issue of women in leadership in the Church. However, although this has caused issues - I know people who left the CofE when women priests came in - it has not caused anything like the same issues in the Anglican Communion as That Topic. Part of the reason for this must be the recognition by both sides that there is a case to be made for the other side. There is an interesting line of reasoning which says that there is evidence in the NT of women in leadership - Phoebe, Junia, Prescilla, Lydia - but this was suppressed by the patriarchal culture within a few generations. So this is not an innovation but another example of reformation to the original.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David
I agree that care needs to be taken with science (especially in relation to the is/ought dilemma) and that Genesis has been variably understood through time (though, again, note that the church has not suffered division because of that, save, no doubt, for some divisions within some very conservative/fundamentalist churches).

Nevertheless I observe that many Christians, Anglicans included, today, are coming to an appreciation of lifelong, faithful same sex partnerships that fit well with biblical concern than "man not be alone"; helpmatedness; a cord of three strands is not broken etc. In short, that there is human "good" re the "is" of a human situation becoming better than it might be because of genuine self-giving "love" ... love is good! And the question at issue, eccelsiologically, is whether we are going to accept those with such views within the tent of Anglicanism or shut them out of it.

Anonymous said...

Peter, you have confused the human need for sociality with the human drive for sex at the same time ignoring the dimorphic character of human reproduction, marriage and family, and indeed society itself. You have missed out a fundamental observation made long ago, that if you seek to validate same-sex desire as God's positive will for some people rather than a consequence of the Fall (and that is what you now do believe, because you do not operate within a theology bounded and controlled by all that Scripture says about sexual desire but only the statements that cohere with modern western thinking), then you MUST equate same-sex relationships with Christian marriage and you MUST affirm homosexual partnerships as a good and desirable way to bring up children. If you reluctant to affirm this, that can only be because you have not thought through the implications of your revised beliefs about sex and marriage.
As for Gafcon, and Lambeth, I don't think Gafcon bishops care any more about those old relics of imperial power. Like New Zealand Anglicanism, British Anglicanism is on a death watch too.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Andrew,

What I may or may not be confused about is not actually the point at issue here (and around which we could circle for ages, as per many blogs over many years above!).

The point at issue is whether Anglicans who do not feel at all confused about their beloved gay and lesbian children, relatives, friends, fellow parishioners expressing sociality and sexuality via civil marriage deserve to be treated as apostates.

What your position above does not answer include the following:
- whether sexual relationships can be contemplated which inherently do not lead to reproduction;
- whether homosexuality is in fact a consequence of the Fall (or is it a part of the variation of life which, if one might posit this here, scientists tell us has been part of life since the creation of life itself)?

Anonymous said...

"The point at issue is whether Anglicans who do not feel at all confused about their beloved gay and lesbian children, relatives, friends, fellow parishioners expressing sociality and sexuality via civil marriage deserve to be treated as apostates."

In other words, a horizontal, political and biologically-based definition of 'belonging' trumps the New Testament definition of the Ekklesia of God, which isn't based on bloodlines or genetic links but faithful (and painful) obedience to Christ. Your preferred principle, family sentiment, is how modern western earthly politics works (because there is no religious test in being a citizen in post-Christian democracies), and is entirely laudable as a political outlook for ensuring social peace, but it has nothing to do with the New Testament understanding of the new humanity in Christ, which is the Ekklesia of God.
As for your other questions:
- yes, Genesis 1 (and our Savior's commentary on this in Matthew 19) understands sexual relations in marriage as having a unitive as well as reproductive purpose (that is the point of its exclusivity in monogamous marriage because marriage is meant to constrain desire);
- there are all kinds of "variations" of "sexual relationships" found "in nature", which fact alone doesn't tell you whether God approves of them - a question on which biologists have no opinion whatsoever. On that matter you need revelation - as well as a healthy restoration of some kind of Aristotelian view of the *telos of things, including human bodies; modern science, you will know, has abandoned any sense of *telos or purpose, which was once the bread and butter of biology, for example, and restricted itself to thinking only of material and effective causes. That is why modern secular scientists no longer talk about "perversion", because that word denotes the existence of a true end or purpose (telos) of a thing, and in modern secular thinking, the world doesn't have a telos (or a Judge), it simply is. On your revisionist terms, for example, there can be no condemnation of consensual homosexual acts between siblings. It is totally inadequate to say you have a 'gut feeling' against it, because such relations of love do exist "in nature", and you have no right to condemn them, absent the conviction that they violate God's law.
- Modern secular scientists have no concept of 'the Fall' in their thinking because they think that homo sapiens is simply a very, very, very recent arrival in the world and everything about us can be explained materially and physically. In any case, the most ancient forms of life were not sexual in character, while plants have 'male' and 'female' parts. Worms are also 'hermaphrodite', IIRC. I'm not going to draw spiritual lessons from those biological and botanical facts, but feel free to follow Gaia if you wish. Just don't call it Christianity.
At the same time, *you need to clarify whether you are happy with same-sex couples bringing up children in such households. This isn't a theoretical idea - that well-known Episcopalian Sunday school teacher Pete Buttigieg is looking forward to bringing up kids with his "husband" Chasen. So you tell me, Peter, as an Anglican bishop - are *you happy and "not all confused" about this gay couple doing this? Can you please outline why you, as an Anglican bishop, consider such an ambition as Righteous, Holy and Pleasing to Almighty God?
You see, Peter, ideas have consequences (flesh and blood ones).


Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew.

You are aware, of course, that the Parliament in New Zealand has permitted same sex couples to register their permanent relationships by the same legal process used by couples of men and women. And that about 3% of persons with desire seem never to have desired their opposite sex. So, in the place where ACANZP is the Anglican church, you can no doubt see that there will be persons from time to time who register *marriages* to persons of the same sex with the state, and then seek to participate in the rites and society of a parish in dioceses like + Peter's.

Although I have no doubt that you know these facts, I cannot see how you are engaging them in your colloquy with + Peter. I hope that you will post another comment that explains with some concreteness (a) what you believe that a parish, + Peter, ACANZP, and the next Lambeth Conference should actually do when say a woman is drawn to the faith and brings her *wife* to church in New Zealand, and (b) how that course of action should be represented to the civil society of that country.

Once I can compare your proposal to the one defended by + Peter, then it will be possible to put your thoughts above in a context that reveals them to be not only salient but independent. And in particular-- one among a few-- it should then be possible to understand your tone and purpose in addressing + Peter who is, of course, neither the Parliament nor the General Synod in his country. Until then, I, and perhaps other readers, cannot fairly assess how the no doubt great merit of what you say can be applied in the world that God in his governing providence has given us.


Bowman Walton

Father Ron said...

Thanks, Bowman, for this reflection of yours (above):

" schisms fomented here by rogue bishops from elsewhere and then validated by the Communion overseas do more damage, and disqualify the Communion itself as a credible site for future peacemaking."

The irony here, of course, is that 'the Communion overseas' is not really the ACC around the umbilicus of Canterbury, but the GAFCON separatists, who are still planning the demise of the original Lambeth sodality.

The sooner the Anglican Communion recognises that the current schism began with those who spawned the GAFCON movement, the better. Then we who are loyal to our roots in the Anglican Communion may better serve the people who are alive today - longing for the true Gospel freedom that Jesus promised.

We have done our best to retain the loyalty of our people around the Gospel liberation of Christ. Let those who want to 'live apart' live out their own destiny. We cannot force people to be 'loyal Anglicans'. We can only best be faithful to our own calling.

Father Ron said...

David (astrophysicist) says:"In addition, the science relating to That Topic is constantly shifting (as is our understanding of the cosmos). It is a poor means for determining good and bad."

In contrast, a retired priest-scientist says this:

It strikes me that the specific biological evidence quoted here by 'Rambling Rector' probably gives evidence of a little more learning and insight into the reality of gender/sexuality issues than an 'astro-physicist'.

Anonymous said...

Hello Bowman,
You are welcome to comment on my "colloquy" with Peter if you wish, but he's an adult and can speak for himself. I have no desire to make my thoughts "salient" or "independent", just true and faithful to the Gospel of Christ. What you make of my "tone" doesn't concern me, but my purpose is self-evident: to seek answers from an Anglican bishop in the city where most of my birth family now lives (and my mother is buried) about how he understands sexual ethics and the Christian doctrine of marriage and family life. So it isn't just about sexual desire, but one of the outcomes of that desire, the generation of children (which homosexuality, of course, cannot do). That is why (for example) I referenced Pete Buttigieg, who makes great play in public about being an exemplary Christian (and a better example of Christian living than his fellow Indianan Mike Pence) who, as I'm sure you know, is now an Episcopalian Sunday school teacher (having been brought up a Catholic), and who speaks often about his love for his "husband" Chasen and their desire to start a family. If you have thoughts on Pete and Chasen's plans, you can share them if you like, but it's Peter's views I want to hear as he's the Anglican bishop in Christchurch. (Of course, I am perfectly aware that a growing number of Anglican bishops in the US and Canada are in same-sex "marriages", as are many priests, including those bringing up children.)
So please comment if you wish on Pete and Chasen or the TEC scene, but it's Peter's views as an Anglican bishop in Christchurch that I'd like to know.


Peter Carrell said...

Hello Andrew and Bowman
My current timetable does not provide the time to give a considered reply, save to observe here and now, to you, Andrew, that churches and church leaders have matters to deal with when a civilly married couple (perhaps with family) turn up at church (so Bowman's point, at least in part) which are (at least arguably) different to matters to deal with in the abstract of (e.g.) how would you advise Mr and Mr B as they contemplate whether or not to start a family.

Hopefully back to you by the end of Monday!

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,

If you present ideas on the 'net, then those ideas will get the usual scrutiny to whatever degree they merit it.

Here, the scrutiny is of usually of the ideas themselves, not their proponents or opponents.

If ideas critical of what is being done (eg by ACANZP) include a clear account of what ought to be done instead, then others will see (a) what stake they have in them, and (b) how the ideas may cohere in an internally consistent policy. Otherwise, it may be assumed that the ideas (a') are not interesting, and (b') are not practicable.

Some very brief discussion of a personality did occur here for a day or two in 2018. But under + Peter's rules for the blog, the only personality that it is actually easy to discuss is that of Jesus Christ.

If you wish a private audience with + Peter, then why not ask him for one?



Anonymous said...


I cannot get the ACO to confirm this on the record, but a rumour is spreading that the Church of Cockaigne discreetly lobbied the ABC to solve the American problem of the Lambeth Conferences thus: put the names of all the TEC and ACNA diocesans in a bag, incense the bag on the altar at Canterbury, shake it hard, and draw out names until the American quota is filled. If you can select an apostle by lots, why not a bishop for Lambeth?

Moreover, it was argued that the procedure would elegantly address the central problem of conservative Anglicans here: in a church with no incentive to evangelize beyond metropolises and college towns-- the mass elite of educated professionals-- majoritarian procedures (eg General Convention) will never give traditionalists a chance to set the agenda or even, someday, get something they want done for the good of the Body. That in turn means that Anglicanism will never be on serious offer for the vast majority of Americans who do not belong to that social elite.

One comment from the Cockaigne side is worth quoting at length. "Jesus's commandment to love one another, St Paul's precepts of mutual submission and deference to the weak, and our rediscovery of inclusion of ALL people oblige us to collaborate in ways that give minorities of all kinds their place in the sun. As American bishops chosen for Lambeth by God work together at the Conference, they may at least return to the United States better able to evangelize as broadly throughout their own country as they have done in several other countries."

The plan was not accepted. Why not? Again, it is difficult to get anyone familiar with the matter to confirm this on the record, but the semi-official English reply seems to have been that the CoE's own practice of alternating conservative evangelicals and liberal catholics in the primatial see was a better way of ensuring balanced leadership, but one that could not be forced on either of the estranged sects.

It has also been implied-- only-- that the Cockaigne Remedy. although elegantly scriptural, is a century too late for a Communion where, for better and for worse, the dictatorship of synodical majorities has taken hold as a point of identity over against, say, the papacy. And if that is weakened even in America, who knows what may happen elsewhere?


Anonymous said...

Hello, Bowman,
I wasn't aware you were Peter's press secretary and handled questions for him. You are perfectly free to comment on my ideas as I am on yours, though I confess I struggle to understand what you are saying sometimes, which is due either to my lack of intellect and knowledge or your lack of clarity and love for long and obscure extended metaphors. Actually I thought my question to Peter was abundantly clear: is he happy about the idea of a couple of homosexual men - like Episcopalian Sunday School teacher Pete Buttigieg and his "husband" Chasen - adopting kids (or maybe artificially inseminating a host, as numerous wealthy gay men do today) and bringing them up as an Exemplary Model of a Christian family? I don't actually care whether you find this question "uninteresting", it's a reality today, including among Episcopal clergy in the US. It's also the logical implication of affirming same-sex relationships as pleasing to God, which is what Peter wants to do: love us, love our adopted kids. If Peter chooses to kick this into the long grass (that's a rugby metaphor), readers will draw their own conclusions. But you can't use others to run interference: rugby isn't gridiron and Kiwis fight their own battles.


Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter, having taken a short break from looking in on this thread, I came back to it today to consider the understanding you seem to have of our local situation vis-a-vis the local breakaway 'Anglican' Church:

"Bowman: I don’t think our local situation re new Anglican parishes is an Australian “grab”! Some Australians are supporting these new parishes as they remain faithful to their understanding of being Anglican but the governance here is local, not international."

How then, Bishop Peter, do you account for the heavy international presence of GAFCON-related prelates who laid hands on the new bishop - an action which brought into being the new 'church' under its very own pastor pastorum? Would this ordination have happened using only locally accredited bishops?

From his comments above, Andrew seems totally dismissive of the Anglican Communion's efforts to understand the pastoral needs of the LGBT+ community within its borders. In this, Andrew is totally in agreement with the GAFCON prelates who helped to bring New Zealand's rival 'Anglican Church' into being. Whatever signal that may give to GAFCON affiliates around the world (a new protestant religion?), what it says to the rest of us who are loyal to our Anglican roots in Lambeth and Canterbury is that there will always be those in the Church - and outside of it - who are dismissive of the radical inclusivity of the Christian Gospel; a Gospel whose openness to all is based on Jesus' own statement: "I came to call sinners".

It thus follows that; if you think you are no longer a sinner, the Gospel may have nothing for you. (see the Gospel record of the parable about the Pharisee and the Publican, and note who Jesus indicated as being 'justified'.

Of course, the moot point here is; are LGBT+ people more sinful than the heterosexual majority? If so; in what ways?

Unknown said...

Speaking of the gospel for sinners, Father Ron, what is SMAA doing for Lent this year?


Father Ron said...

In answer, Bowman to your question - about what we at SMAA are doing for Lent:

Apart from the continual Daily Mass (in and out of 'Seasons')

1. Extended Bible Study.
2. Study of the life of George Herbert '(Saintly Parish Priest) taken by Fr. Chris., our Vicar.
3. The dedicated liturgies of Holy Week and Easter.
4. Weekly Stations of The Cross.

Bryden Black said...

Ecclesiologies have been described sometimes as if they were either thicker or thinner. One feature of the gauge invokes hierarchy: papal church = thick; congregational assemblies = thin. But that’s not the only feature.

Canonical Theism for example seeks thicker churches, while many a Pentecostal or Christian Life Centre would tend to be thinner. Here certain forms of Tradition cut the mustard. Yet not all forms. Holy Writ remains the canonical norm, even among other charisms, while strict two-source revelation is deemed thicker still. Yet Holy Writ is given fuller licence too among Pentecostal types as well!

And so, related to this dynamic, unpacking it further is best done by quoting a chunk out of my LDL:

“This has to do with how the various ecclesiologies relate themselves to God’s rule itself, how they envisage Church and Kingdom to be related, since it is both Golgotha and Easter, and Ascension and Pentecost which together have founded the Church: humans do not construct church exactly! The more “realized” ecclesiologies sense the eschatology is, the more they ‘collapse’ matters of the Head into the Body, and so the more is Tradition deemed to be normative. Contrariwise, the more Kingdom and Church, Head and Body are distinguished, so the more is Tradition relativized and Scripture allowed to come to the fore, as the school of the holy Spirit for all traditions. And while Augustine’s vision of the totus Christus after the vision of the Church in Ephesians and Colossians is surely correct, even as this goal of the Church seeks to become embodied and enacted among us, we must still carefully distinguish matters of God’s grace and matters of human reception and ‘interpretation’, and so co–operation in faith, within the divine economy. Just so, there remain creative tensions among Scripture, tradition, and the traditions in the pilgrim churches, which tensions are functions of the eschatological emphasis on the one hand [realized vs. futuristic] and respective ecclesiological emphases on the other: an evident triangulation is at play here.”

Hence, the thicker one’s ecclesiology the more realized it tends to be, the thinner the more kingdom and church may be distinguished. And missiology notably drive one’s sense of church.

Bryden Black said...

One could continue. But with these motifs in mind, where does Anglican ecclesiology sit? Well; this is where the fun and games begin! For there are evidently thinner emphases and thicker ones. And where one’s centre of gravity lies along the gauge depends on one’s penchant! High Church = thicker; Low Church = thinner, for example, naturally! Yet, key is the sheer Established nature too: CoE! This creates a form of extra thickness. Yet why should it be the case that a contingent historical feature should so shift the centre of gravity? I mean, let’s examine a key ecclesial feature not yet brought to bear.

The temple of Israel fixed, locating it to one place, what was hitherto a mobile tent. Then it was destroyed - twice. And thereafter fulfilled in The Risen Body, filled with the Holy Spirit, whose very Spirit led Jesus to the Cross ... Yet only as totus Christus, Head and Body. And let’s not forget John 4’s “neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”: the Hour’s fulfilment relativizes ALL geography and the like (with the meaning of “the Hour” containing a typical Johannine double entendre, in crucifixion-and-resurrection, resurrection-and-crucifixion).

Just so, why Lambeth or Canterbury at all at all? Why Rome? Or Antioch? Or Moscow? Or Constantinople? Or Alexandria? Or New York?! Ecclesial claims that seek to bolster thickness via geography are, when put alongside each other, shown up for what they are—thicker traditions vying for superiority, demanding in some people’s eyes kinds of thicker justification. When in fact, Scripturally, no form of such thickness may hold the Spirit, even as the very same Holy Spirit has established some due charisms for the bene esse of the Church, if not for her esse. Just as the same Holy Spirit has ‘crucified’ cherished traditions down the centuries also ...

All of which just sets up a richer context for the AC’s Lambeth 2020, the historical context being of course that very “crisis of authority” Abp Runcie thought might not to be the case ahead of Lambeth 1988 (cf. his book entitled Crisis of Authority?, published earlier in the year: ‘nah; we can navigate this: no question!’). History has proved him to be pretty wrong ... And so, what of 2020-35 ...? (That terminus, 2035 btw, merely demarcates a half century, a snitch in historical terms, from 1984 ...) Buckle up is my advice ...

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father Ron.

I remember a Lent exactly like this from the 1970s (Grace Church, Alexandria), and it serves my memory as a model of the Devotional type of Lent.

There are other kinds of Lents--

Spiritual Enrichment. Lots of journaling, centering prayer, etc.

Book Club. If literary, then something by CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Flannery O'Connor, Graham Greene, Susan Howatch, Elizabeth Goudge, Reynolds Price, etc. If biblical, Marcus Borg, NT Wright, or say Robert Alter or even Karen Armstrong. If all else fails, break glass and use the lenten book approved by the PB.

Catechetical. A review of the basics of the Christian faith, often using the Prayerbook's catechism and some recent bestseller. In the 1970s, Hans Kung's On Being a Christian was a consensus choice.

Penitential. The Devotional Lent, with aids to the examination of conscience, and fuller opportunity to confess sins.

Fasting Lent. Shrove Tuesday and *giving something up for Lent* are vestiges of a patristic and medieval practice that in its purity sought not a congregant's forgiveness for sins but the congregation's freedom from distractions, evil habits and addictions. So during the Great Fast, observant Orthodox parishes give up meat, cheese, oil, etc in successive weeks until only fruits and nuts are left for Holy Week. All the food comes back-- with a spit-roasted spring lamb-- after the Great Vigil of Pascha.


Father Ron said...

The eponymous website 'Virtue-on-line' has now come up with the latest edict from the Chair/Primate of GAFCON, Archbishop Foley Beach. This may help both Andrew and David to better understand how desperate the Leader of GAFCON/ACNA/FOCA is to separate himself (and his cohorts) from what he has decreed is an unworthy Anglican Communion - unworthy, that is, of his and his cohorts consideration as Partners in Mission

(For an exposition and my response to the article, see 'kiwianglo').

It seems to me that this blatant dismissal of the orthodoxy and spiritual values of our Anglican Communion Partners who will be in attendance at Lambeth 2020 (Beach was not invited!); is tantamount to declaring his own 'Unilateral Independence' of the A.C.C., in an action of schismatic severance from that body, from whose associate in TEC he derived his own priestly ordination (not his episcopate).

Perhaps now is the time - before the gathering of loyal ACC bishops at Lambeth 2020 - for GAFCON and its associated progeny to openly declare their institutional break away from the Anglican Communion that has its focus around Canterbury and Lambeth. This would then clear the way for loyal ACC Churches to proclaim the Gospel of God's love for ALL people, irrespective of the sexual/gender orientation.

Peter Carrell said...

With thanks for recent comments above, noting to myself to be on the look out for Lambeth 2020 re "thickness" and "thinness" and be not at all confused about whether this relates to the amount of cream on scones at a/tea!

Dear Andrew,
Above you wrote,
"At the same time, *you need to clarify whether you are happy with same-sex couples bringing up children in such households. This isn't a theoretical idea - that well-known Episcopalian Sunday school teacher Pete Buttigieg is looking forward to bringing up kids with his "husband" Chasen. So you tell me, Peter, as an Anglican bishop - are *you happy and "not all confused" about this gay couple doing this? Can you please outline why you, as an Anglican bishop, consider such an ambition as Righteous, Holy and Pleasing to Almighty God?"
This is my response, having mulled things over through the past few days.
(1) I am not going to answer your question in a straightforward way because that would mean that I as a bishop of a diocese within an Anglican province would be putting a policy statement into writing via a comment thread on a personal blog. I do not think that is appropriate!
(2) I am not sure that putting anything in writing (even on, say, a Diocesan website) in respect of the policy statement you seek would be helpful for the following reasons: (i) whether or not the Buttigiegs have children, there are children of same sex couples in the Anglican and Episcopal churches (and other churches) and I am not yet clear whether it is responsible to put into words a policy which might diminish their significance as human people let alone as themselves members of the church; (ii) the notion of children of same sex couples is (as you yourself imply) somewhat complicated: there are children who belong to one or both partners by virtue of a previous (heterosexual) relationship; there are children who are adopted; there are children whose conception itself, whether benefiting a heterosexual couple or a same sex couple, invokes moral debates re surrogacy, IVF, sperm/egg donations - debates which I am not aware my church has engaged with let alone settled. Dare I or anyone make pronouncement before engaging in further discussion and study? And if we so dare, would it end with a series of policy permissions more complicated than (say) the ever complicating set of policies churches are finding themselves adopting re health and safety, building regulations etc!!?
(3) Nevertheless I am pretty clear in my own mind what I would say in a personal, pastoral conversation with the Buttigiegs, in the unlikely situation that they consulted me.

Anonymous said...

The answer is pretty simple, Peter: don't mess with nature and don't mess with human rights.
Human conception is by male and female parents. That's the way God planned it. A child has a right to his or her mother and father. That's how human psychology works as well. To act deliberately in such a way as to deny a child his or her birthright is against the will of God. It's as simple as that, and your blizzard of words can't conceal that fact.
It's a great shame you can't say this or see this. But you are caught up a blind alley. Once you institutionalize the novelty of 'same-sex marriage', you MUST validate a culture that denies motherhood-fatherhood as God's will for all children in place of a homosexual model of parenthood for homosexual couples. Why do lack the courage to say so openly?
Anyway, you will have a chance to chat it over in Canterbury with those 4 or 5 US and Canadian bishops who are in "same-sex marriages", as well as two English bishops in civil partnerships. Several of these are bringing up kids.


Tim Chesterton said...

'...when we are talking about "homosexuals" we are no longer talking about an "us" and "them" division of society but about our sons, our nieces, the person who sits next to us in the pew who reads the same Bible, sings the same hymns and prays to the same Lord as everyone else in the congregation.'

Yes. This has been the game changer for many of us. And it's why we're so tired of the arguments about 'issues', or even 'That Issue.'

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Andrew
I cannot have the courage to say what I do not believe so I do not have the courage to make the connection you make that affirming and supporting same sex married couples necessarily means supporting and affirming same sex couples raising families. I do not believe there is a “necessary” connection.

There is no necessary connection is there between affirming and supporting married couples whom by nature cannot have children and affirming and supporting such couples having children?

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Tim!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
I would, myself, say something different about Archbishop Foley’s recent statement:
(1) false teaching is a problem in the life of the church. (I recently came across an instance and I found myself more than a little disturbed!)
(2) It is not true teaching to deny that within a church such as the global Anglian church there might be different positions reached on difficult-to-resolve questions of human sexuality and relationships (cf. differences re divorce and, between 1920 and 1930 Lambeth pronouncements on contraception).
(3) Nor is it true teaching to make without precedence the claim that schism is warranted when there is difference in beliefs over sexuality and human relationships.
Put more simply: Anglicans should keep meeting and talking.

Anonymous said...

No fatwa from Christchurch for the faithful in Indiana? Faithful and wise, Peter, but no way to get promoted to caliph ;-)

Meanwhile, if the ACA does not mind Davies consecrating a bishop in New Zealand, then the *national principle* is dead down under, and maybe the Nicene canons as well. So would ACANZP care much if you consecrated a bishop of your own someplace, so long as it was in someone else's country?

I wish you could have had Havana. But + Michael Curry has just pounced on it. Nevertheless several pretty towns on the French Riviera have, despite excellent beaches and cuisine, no resident bishop.

Biot, for instance, is among the most charming and least crowded. No bishop, few believers, many godless, sun-worshiping souls. Perfect for missions trips when the nights are longest on the blessed isles.

Or, for the memories, you might plant a diocese in the Îles de Lérins. There St Vincent insisted-- "all possible care must be taken!" he thundered at the brilliant but dangerous revisionist St Augustine of Hippo-- "that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all." In that same monastery of St Honoratus, St Patrick prepared for his mission to Ireland. The place has an Anglican connexion.

Two, in fact, since CoE's Diocese and TEC's Convocation compass all of Europe. But if anyone should demand to know how many Anglican episcopates can dance on the cupola of a town hall, you need only refer them to Dr Glenn Davies who was only recently pointing to those fabulous jurisdictions as a great success (and, we now know, preparing to spread that success to the blessed isles).

Surely two co-consecrators would join you in this noble cause. The trickier matter might be tactfully declining supernumerary co-consecrators. But let them find their own poaching grounds. Would anyone stop them?


Peter Carrell said...

I should think, Bowman, that ACANZP would care very much if I consecrated, shared in consecrating someone beyond the law/canon/whatever ... because we are committed to the Anglican Communion and to each of the provinces within it ... further, we have no sense that tiit deserves tat!

Father Ron said...

Thank you, Bishop Peter, for your so wise and thoughtful understanding of what can, indeed, be considered 'false teaching'. From the N.T. Scriptures, Jesus was keen to criticise what he saw as the 'false teaching' of the scribes and Pharisees. Of course, he was hitting at the very heart of hypocrisy; where sinners felt able to criticise other sinners -for sinning differently from themselves. "By their fruits you shall know them" is not a bad measure of true piety; rather than a puritanical world-view, which confines the enabling grace of God to the measure of one's own 'holiness'.

Andrew (above) said this: "The answer is pretty simple, Peter: don't mess with nature and don't mess with human rights"

He may be right in both senses. e.g: Nature includes the existence of people in the Image and Likeness of God who do NOT conform to the out-dated binary understanding of sexuality or gender. Also, everyone has the right to be human as God created them; deserving of respect from their human peers. No contest here!

Anonymous said...

This is where liberal Anglicanism is headed, Peter;
Don't bother rebuilding the Cathedral, it won't be needed in 20 years, since churches without children (well, except that nice gay couple who have adopted) don't have grandchildren. Make the building site over to the Muslims instead, as their numbers will continue to grow. All the demographic data indicates that NZ Anglicanism is headed precisely the same way as Canadian Anglicanism - as Tim Chesterton also knows.
I will probably be in Canterbury during the Lambeth conference and touch base with any orthodox bishops from "the west" that may attend and ask what survival strategies they have in mind.


Anonymous said...

"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

-- St James i 20

Of course, Peter. Thank you for replying to a jeu d'espirit! :-)

May I offer a brief lenten thought on the thread?

It is this: the alternate opinions here reflect mindsets that their authors discovered and did not choose. Generally we will be closer to the Lord, each other, and the facts as we engage them all with charity. Lent is, or can be, for learning that charity.

Put another way, the easy good will that we have for those whose minds are set much as our own are set is not yet the charity that the Holy Spirit teaches. When threads compel some exercise of that harder charity, as this one does, it is faithful to take it up in all seriousness as a discipline that is learned through diligence. Happily, the maturity that is able to say with gratitude-- he sees into my blind spot and I into his-- feels much better than helpless rage that God set some minds this way and other minds that way.


So, in the present thread, we have an interesting plea for *decorum*, and pushback-- some of it angry-- against it. How much *decorum* one craves and when one craves it is a matter of mindset. The range of variation in individuals is extremely wide, and all societies know of a swinging pendulum. It is good for each of us to know our own location on the map without thinking that we stand on holy ground that others have failed to reach.

St James said what needs to be said about the anger. Those who have ears, let them hear.

The pushback missed the problem that was raised: if the Body has a duty to teach wisdom to "ALL people," then must bishops respond when a celebrity promotes as a Christian norm an accommodation that would be destructive for 97% of them? This is not an unreasonable question, but because actual bishops are both public teachers and private ministers of the keys, those attuned to both responsibilities will very rarely respond to personalities in public.

The whole tragic pathos of That Topic is in this coincidence: courts and parliaments ended the unjust marginalization of sexual minorities just as standard marriage seemed to be vanishing from the bottom third of post-industrial societies. This is undoubtedly less God-displeasing than the way the state used to treat the 3%, and one could wish that churches would publicly say at least that before dabbling further. But the disdain for the binary among friends of the 3% is surely not helping to reduce the incidence of illegitimacy and infidelity among those who live from paycheck to paycheck with a bit of public assistance.

Where pastors must contend with fathers exploring polyamory, and mothers who prefer babydaddies to husbands, and a spreading culture of addiction, they have, not so much hostility for homosexuals as a sense that the binary is precisely the medicine that God has given them to cure the sickness. 97% of men have reciprocal obligations with 97% of women. They need to be told to do right by those obligations, and then helped to learn habits of the heart that will enable them to do it. Compassion for their children is standing with the binary that did produce them and should nurture them. After all, these too are families.

It takes nothing away from the insight of + Peter, joined above by Tim, to say that there actually is a "social divide" by *class* and that our easy empathy with prosperous peers can become more Christ-like and Spirit-led as it includes those who may be working while we are gathering around the Cup. We needs to see all the families, upstairs and down, in the same binocular vision of love.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Andrew and Bowman,
May the Lord grant us such long lives, and the continuation of air travel, so that we might join together with the mighty congregation in our Cathedral on the first Sunday after Lent, 2040.

I do not see that there is an either/or option re pursuit of policy X and embrace of "in toto" liberalism!

Anonymous said...

"...the mighty congregation in our Cathedral on the first Sunday after Lent, 2040."

I'd rather sail from Buenos Aires, but otherwise this sounds like fun!

"I do not see..."

That is (I think): policy X (eg blessing of hounds for the hunt) can be adopted without adoption of all other ideas that pass as liberalism.

True. Centrists at the summit stay off the mythical slippery slope by borrowing selectively from both sides.

Thanks to all for a good-humoured thread.

I shall be away for most of the next three months.



Father Ron said...

The only 'Liberalism' that I espouse is 'The Freedom of the Children of God', who has set us free from the Law of Sin and death!

Have a good and holy Lent, everyone!