Monday, November 30, 2020

Anglicans in turmoil: Is there a solution other than schism?

Once again dear friends, Anglicans in turmoil - in Australia and in England, per the previous two posts here - raise the question, Is there a solution other than schism? 

 Some thoughts - of a most general nature for I do not want to get into the particularities and peculiarities of the constitutional arrangements of the Anglican Church of Australia and of the Church of England - are these: 

1. We are all Anglicans, even in this turmoil of disagreement. 

2. Anglicans have been and continue to be very adept at holding together, in one church, disagreements that make a Presbyterian blanch and a Roman Catholic wince. 

3. The present disagreements concern our differences in pastoral responses to people in our pews, as prompted by changes to civil legislation. 

4. Anglicans have been and continue to be very adroit at responding to pastoral needs and to living respectfully of civil authority. 


5. There are grounds - based on Anglican history and Anglican character - for thinking and hoping that the present turmoil does not necessitate schism but will require forbearance and wisdom not unknown through history to both the prelates and parishioners of our churches.


Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter; 'Forbearance and Wisdom' may indeed become the watchwords for the management of issues such as the Church of England's latest attempt (LLF) to accommodate the issues of LGBTQ+ people within that Church.

The most recent article on my blog, kiwianglo, by a woman member of the Church of England's General Synod, who was at the Ordination of a Same-Sex partnered woman bishop, +Cherry Van, as Bishop of Monmouth in the Anglican Church of Wales, describes both of the women being welcomed by the fulsome congregation - despite their relationship having been previously desclosed in the diocese.

This show the Church of Wales being able to contain its unity - despite having previously rejected Jeffrey John as Bishop of Llandaff because of his openly living with a same-sex partner. There has been a change of heart in the Church of Wales, which may, or may not, be replicated in the C. of E. What is required is a pastoral openness to the LGBTQ+ community. There may well be people who do not agree with this new openness, but like the issues of divorce and women's ordination, the work of justice must prevail and be seen to flourish in Anglican Churches around the world.

Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter, apropos my last comment on this thread, here is a link to an article by an Anglican Bishop whom I know, personally, commenting on LLF:

Jonathan Clark: The Commonwealth of Heaven Living in love and faith – and peace, with justice

He (together with the other C. of E. Bishops) has received a letter from concerned Anglicans who have responded to "Living in Love and Faith" This article is HIS response to them.

("O come, o come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!") - Advent Antiphon

Anonymous said...

"Is there a solution other than schism?"

Yes, in the sense that there are also solutions other than say adultery. The alternative to any sin of self-deception is a godly self-awareness. Which is not to say about either sin that the self-deception is all on one side, nor that the undeceived are aware of the same self in the same way.


Anonymous said...

"Is there a solution other than schism?"

Is there a problem other than schism? The gospel ** being true, widespread schism should be difficult or impossible to organize in a body of the Body that lives in the Christ "in whom all things hold together." In principle, believers would rather stand their posts in their calling from him than run off in the night to build another fort. Would we be better unified if we were more faithful to some unrecognised calling in the creation?

** Because Jesus has vanquished the powers that divide humanity, and has ascended to the Father's right hand, he will realize in his Body on earth the unified humanity that images God.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Ron and Bowman.
When one body of believers divides over differences not about to be accommodate in that body, the universal church on earth remains the Body of Christ with differences within it!

Apropos a theme in your comments, Bowman, one thing which increasingly irks me is the notion that one group of Anglicans is more faithful than another. When I look around at Kiwi Anglicans, now formed into two Anglican churches, I see faithful Anglicans, steadfast in their faith, loyal in their love for the church of God and committed to sharing the love of God in Christ ... in both churches, divided ecclesiastically only by difference on one point ... and divided on many other matters which never raise the spectre of schism.

Father Ron said...

Yes, Peter; it is sad that certain members of our Church - though NOT separating out on matters of divorce & remarriage or women's ordination (both seminal moral topics in the theology of the Church) - actually accounted a scientifically-verifiable issue of gender/sexuality (which civil law has supported) to be an issue that they cannot be reconciled with, thus causing them to resort to schism!

The Roman Catholic Church, of course, is not immune to such controversy about gender and sexuality. As an instance of this we have a couple of R.C. ethical experts who have concluded that their Church needs to be more accommodating of Trans-gender and Inter-sex people (see kiwianglo) . However, being a Church with a more disciplined attitude to unity; schismatic severance will be an unlikely result of this questioning of the R.C. Church's official teaching! (I am reminded of Pope John XXIII's motto 'Semper Reformanda")

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel" (Advent Antiphon)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter. And since there are faithful albeit confused readers of the scriptures on both sides of the fence, it would be winsome, ecumenical, and even Anglican for those who can to explore together, bibles open, four questions upstream of the late unpleasantness--

(1) Reading historically, how far is St Paul's recognition that the Holy Spirit had graced some Gentiles analogous to a recognition today that the same Person has graced some queer folk in civil unions?

(2) What difference is there, if any, between reinterpreting abortion on the basis of recent discoveries about embryology and reinterpreting homosexuality on the same basis?

(3) How far can the apostolic ethic be reduced to fixed evaluations of defined acts?

(4) To which order of creation do marriages primarily belong-- churches, states, or families?

If honest, competent readers work through these questions, then after a year or so, the fence will be better mapped than it was. After a few more years, some gates in it might be found after.


Peter Carrell said...

Great questions - thank you, Bowman!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter.

Here up yonder, the subtext or even the text, of talk about religion is one's own psychological predisposition toward rules, laws, authorities. "Believers" first classify their selves as diligent authoritarians or as playful hippies, more or less, and then derive from their kind a Jesus, Father, and Holy Spirit that reflect it.

To some, Jesus is God in that he shall judge the quick and the dead; to others he was never more divine than when he canceled rules since "love is all you need." If you mention aspects of God that do not reduce to either idee fixe, eyes glaze. To those who are always all about law, it's theology; it's abstract; it doesn't matter.

Now to a Hindu, it is axiomatic that personality drives devotion toward say an order-conserving Vishnu or a disruptive Shiva. Even a Muslim might agree that some are necessarily drawn to these of Allah's attributes, yet not to those that claim other devotees. But to the biblical religions, to Jews and Christians, worshipping an archetype because one's self responds to it is foreign.

A soul does not dwell in the kingdom without a healthy relation to each of the Three. And the two archetypes that devotees project onto them and into the scriptures are not truly in either. Those endlessly battling about absolutes have lost the plot of the canon, and with that the Bible's narrative of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Civil society governs itself without need of our happy warriors. Local churches seem to prefer case-wise accommodation to either archetype, and that agrees well with what Jesus gave to your namesake and to you. But at least up here, the future of his Body depends on retrieving a profound devotion to him that is higher, better, more than today's squabbles about authority.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
That is a brilliant comment which explains a lot about the ways and means in which and towards which Anglicans (in Anglican contexts) and Christians in other churches move and have their being.

I sometimes feel, when I am with people of other denominations, that other denominations “cater” for people of different psychological types ... with acknowledgement for generalisations and stereotypes in such a statement.

A further observation is that in our various kinds of churches (and various kinds of Anglican churches) we are - along lines you describe above - prone to constructing a God/Jesus/Spirit who (1) may or may not be too familiar because in our own image and/or (2) may or may not be very like the God/Jesus/Spirit we meet in Scripture.

To whit, we must read and re-read Scripture so that we are worshipping the God revealed therein and not some other God/god and ... you last point, we must find our unity in our devotion to Christ (i.e. in recognising our common bond rather than finding our unity in an agreed judgement that those who are not us are false believers and pay no attention to Scripture let alone submit to its authority.

Father Ron said...

Bishop Peter, here is yet another article on the Church of England's problematic dealing with the issues of 'Living in Love and Faith'. If 'Mother Church' can't get it right, how can we provincial Anglican Churches help them to understand and deal with issues that duivide the worldwide Communion? :

LLF: Power, “Mother Church” and the Anglican Communion

Father Ron said...

Surprise, surprise! The Church of England has just released (in connection with 'LLF') a Communion-Wide publication to encourage Provincial Anglican Churches to study issues including the gender and sexuality differences to be notionally encountered in the Bible, and (practically) in todays's world. Here is one section of the publication that covers this important subject:


Here, at long last, Mother Church is offering a way through a situation which has, in the interim, caused schismatic severance which, if produced earlier in the day, might just have averted schism. Is this too little; too late?