Category : – Anglican: Analysis

(AM) Andrew Symes–Church of England: A House Divided

Are there limits to the diversity found in the Church of England? A look at recent communications from two leaders shows the seemingly unbridgeable gulf in how different groups understand the essence of the Christian faith and the mission of the church.

Model 1: God converts a conservative church by speaking through his activity in the world.

Firstly Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Oxford, in an essay for Modern Church outlines familiar criticisms of the ‘evangelical’ leadership of the C of E, and proposes a very different model for the Church’s engagement with the world. He begins by reflecting on two best-selling publications.  The first of these books, Faith in the City (1985), focuses on the world, and how the Kingdom of God can be found and nurtured there, in helping the poor and challenging injustice, not on building up the church. This, in Percy’s view, reflects better the priorities of Jesus.

The second book, Mission-Shaped Church (2004), reveals the increasing influence of evangelicals; the focus is on developing homogenous groups of believers rather than socio-political involvement in the world. Percy sees this as a ‘shift to the right’, with its roots in the 1990’s Decade of Evangelism, which was “not successful”, claims the Dean. church attendance numbers have continued to decline, and while evangelicals have become more prominent in the C of E’s leadership, the British public have been alienated by a ministry that just “shouts louder” and yet is not heard. What is needed, according to Percy, is an “authentic and humble” Church, which listens to and observes what God is doing in the world, and joins in, rather than evangelistic initiatives which “achieve very little”….

Model 2: God speaks through the bible to individuals, church and world

When this recent articulation of a revisionist approach is set alongside an orthodox one, it can be seen more clearly why the theological crisis and confusion in the Western church is not just about sexuality.

Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone, recently gave a talk to Church Society entitled “Flourishing in the Church of England today”. Thomas begins by saying he will partly answer the question of whether conservative evangelicals such as himself can continue to occupy a space and grow and develop within the C of E. But then he questions whether to accept simply being part of a minority protected group within a theologically plural and heterodox church is a valid goal, and insists on a ministry of ‘contending for the faith’, to fight from within the C of E for its continued identity as an apostolically faithful church.

Unlike Martyn Percy, who makes no effort to engage with Scripture in his 4000 word essay, Thomas takes his listeners straight to Psalm 1 and Ephesians 4. The compilers of the Psalter, he notes, don’t choose a hymn of praise to God as an introduction to the collection, but start with human beings and the choice facing each individual, to follow the world, or God’s law. The consequences of this choice are stark: “flourishing”, pictured as a fruitful tree, or dryness, lifelessness and dispersal. A New Testament image of flourishing is the healthy body, which Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16 uses as a metaphor for God’s people, built up by God’s word as brought to them by gifted servants, and active in good works. In both cases, there are warnings about hindrances to flourishing in obedience to God’s word – those not following God’s way, and those bringing in the confusion of false teaching. This is why the task of the church must be both to teach the truth and refute error….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Theology

Martin Davie from 2016–‘The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead’

From here:

One final point to note in relation to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making is that a concern for a fresh emphasis on Christian discipleship cannot be separated from the current debate within the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead. This is because in the Bible, and in the orthodox Christian tradition building on the Bible, right sexual practice, consisting of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage and sexual faithfulness within it, has always been seen as an integral part of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. This being the case the acceptance and advocacy of alternative patterns of sexual conduct in parts of the Anglican Communion has to be seen as inimical to Christian discipleship and rejected as such. To be serious about discipleship means being serious about sexual holiness and rejecting all forms of behaviour incompatible with it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll–The Episcopal Church And Trial [use] Marriage

In the ponderous Blue Book of materials for the Episcopal General Convention in July, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage proposes a Resolution (A085) to revise, for trial use of course, the Prayer Book itself by:

  • defining marriage as a “covenant between a man and a woman two people’
  • amending the Proper Prefaces on Marriage to read: “Because in the love of wife and husband two people in faithful love…
  • amending the Catechism to say: “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two people the woman and man enter into a life-long union” and adding an additional section defining the procreative purpose in terms of “the gift and heritage of children…”

They make clear, in addition, that passing these “trial use” changes may count as a “first reading” for a permanent revision of the Prayer Book by 2021.

Not content with rewriting the marriage rite, the Task Force proposes a Resolution (Ao86) to authorize a rite of “Blessing of a Lifelong Relationship,” warning gravely that these rites “shall not be used for mere convenience.” So now a couple can forgo marriage altogether and be blessed. Presumably this new service is catering for the ever-popular cohabiting community.

So under the rubric of “trial use” the Episcopal Church is proposing a wholesale redefinition of Christian marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Stephen Noll–Who Moved? Gafcon and Prophetic Traditionalism

In a sense, the first half of the Jerusalem Declaration looks backward to the ancient paths, while the second half addresses issues of the present and future. However, even here the Declaration is drawing from tradition.

Clause 8 refers back to the 1920 Lambeth Resolutions 66-67 defining the “unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family,” which itself is derived from the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 19:1-6) and the Creation account in Genesis 1-2.

Clause 9 takes us to the Great Commission of the Risen Lord to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), which is itself rooted in God’s call to Israel to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). It is this missionary call which led Anglicans sacrificially to bring the Gospel to the far reaches of the British Empire.

Clauses 11-13 seek to express the delicate balance of ecumenical hope, legitimate variation on non-essential matters, and the need to reject false teaching. Some on the theological Left – these are the folk who defrocked and sued confessing Anglicans in North America – claim that Anglicanism has always been infinitely flexible in tolerating “diversity.” Not if we go back to the founders, who said this: whosoever shall be sent to teach the people, shall not only in their preaching, but also by subscription confirm the authority, and truth of those articles.He that doth otherwise, or troubleth the people with contrary doctrine, shall be excommunicated.”

The final clause of the Jerusalem Declaration sets the entire Statement in the perspective of the Second Coming of Christ. In the prophetic vision of John the Divine (the Book of Revelation), Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain, is revealed as the Alpha and Omega who unites the past, present, and future of the creation and history, and who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

What then should we do? The Prophets of the Old and New Testaments are unanimous in replying: Repent! To the Anglican Church in particular, the Spirit says: Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent”(Revelation 2:5).

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON

Stephen Noll-what does Archbishop Welby Mean Exactly by Calling Gafcon a Ginger Group?

Now for the not-so-subtle nuance. The Archbishop was not intending to flatter the upcoming Conference but to belittle it. How do I know that? Because his characterization of Gafcon as a “ginger group” cannot be further from the actual character of the movement, and he knows that.

Gafcon is not a global “friendly society,” nor is it seeking to pressure Canterbury, because Canterbury has made clear over twenty years that it pays us no regard. This was apparent ten years ago when Archbishop Rowan Williams bypassed the Global South Primates and invited to the Lambeth Conference the bishops of the Episcopal Church who had consecrated Gene Robinson. (Rest assured: they will be invited back in 2020.) As a result, the Global Anglican Future Conference was convened in Jerusalem in 2008.

Gafcon was not called as “ginger group” but as a reordering of the Anglican Communion. In its Jerusalem Statement, the Conference claimed:

  • that it was founding something enduring, “not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit”;
  • that three facts justified this reordering: (a) the acceptance and promotion of a false gospel (heresy) in churches of the Communion; (b) the resulting breach of communion among Anglican churches; and (c) the manifest failure of the official “Instruments” to discipline the heretics;
  • that the Gafcon movement is not leaving the Anglican Communion but reforming it on the basis of its classic faith and articles, amplified in a new “Jerusalem Declaration”; and
  • that it was establishing a Primates’ Council that would, when necessary, authenticate new faithful Anglican jurisdictions.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll–“Taking Sweet Counsel Together” and the Anglican Communion

I addressed the question of church discipline in my seminar at Gafcon 2008, titled “Communing in Christ” (Chapter 3 in my book), and in particular I referenced “Communion discipline” (pages 121-123). I defended the charge that Gafcon was schismatic in these terms:

We are here this week because, after ten years of patient but futile calls for repentance from the Episcopal Church on the part of the majority of the world’s Anglicans, the Communion, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has flinched. Hence while it may seem that we are the ones who have excluded ourselves, the truth is, as Richard Hooker put it, that this is our reasonable service to God.

Twenty years have now passed and the situation in North America has become more extreme. For anyone who doubts the current doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church USA, please read carefully its CANON III.1: Of the Ministry of All Baptized Persons”:

Sec. 2. No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital statussexual orientationgender identity and expression*, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.

*Please note: “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) is a specific legal category that will be used to undermine the religious rights of Christians.

Can anyone deny my exegesis of this passage?

In this canon, “marital status” means that divorced persons have an absolute right to ordination; further, “sexual orientation” clearly includes homosexual practice; and “gender identity and expression” explicitly includes transgendered persons. Acceptance of these practices is not only permitted, but it is required. Any priest or bishop who denies one of these individuals access to ordination on one of these grounds, may be brought up for trial and deposed. (Global Anglican Communion, pages 257-258)

It is clear, as was the case ten years ago, that the Archbishop of Canterbury is determined to maintain koinonia with those who teach that these practices are good and godly. He asks, Pilate-like, “What is truth?” These false teachers will be welcomed fully to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, whose theme is “Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together.”

What does the Scripture say about having fellowship with false teachers? The answer seems clear: have nothing to do with them.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Anglican Theological resource: Why the Battle? Different God and Gospel?

In March 2018, the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese, and the Rev. Al Zadig, Jr., Rector of St. Michael’s, Charleston, teamed up for six teachings exploring the theological divide that exists between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America. The course showed why the problem many mainline churches have today stems from a failure of discipleship. The course is not about politics and sexuality; it is about core beliefs, theology, and discipleship.

The sessions included: Over-Under; Christology; Sin and Salvation; Anthropology; Marriage; The Church.

The online resources include: a video and transcript of each presentation, an outline, and a transcript of the Q&A sessions. There is also a closing video and transcription of the sermon given by The Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute on Sunday, March 18, 2018, entitled “Jesus and His Opponents: Are We at Liberty to Change Jesus?”

Check it all out there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

A S Haley unpacks the recent Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth Episcopal Church Decision

After reviewing the history of church property cases in the United States Supreme Court, and fleshing out what that Court meant by the term “neutral principles”, the Texas Court of Appeals then focused on its own Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas (Tex. 2013) 422 S.W.3d 594 as instructing how neutral principles of law are used to resolve church property disputes in Texas. It set out the following concise summary of Masterson’s holdings (pp. 78-79):

    • Absent specific, lawful provisions in a corporation’s articles of incorporation or bylaws otherwise, whether and how a corporation’s directors or those entitled to control its affairs can change its articles of incorporation and bylaws are secular, not ecclesiastical matters, and an external entity—under the former or current statutory scheme—is not empowered to amend them absent specific, lawful provision in the corporate documents. Id. at 609–10 (citing Tex. Bus. Orgs. Code § 3.009; Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 1396–2.09).
    • The TEC-affiliated bishop could, as an ecclesiastical matter, determine which faction of believers was recognized by and was the “true” church loyal to the Diocese and TEC, and courts must defer to such ecclesiastical decisions, but his decision identifying the loyal faction as the continuing parish does not necessarily determine the property ownership issue, and his decisions on secular legal questions such as the validity of the parish members’ vote to amend the bylaws and articles of incorporation are not entitled to deference. Id. at 610.
  • If the title to the real property is in the corporation’s name and the language of the deeds does not provide for an express trust in favor of TEC or the Diocese, then the corporation owns the property. Id.

These propositions are all correct statements of Texas law as expounded in Masterson. Followed correctly, they should have led to a correct decision in the Fort Worth case. Instead, look where the Salazar court ended up…

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Stephen Noll–What is the Global Anglican Communion?

The term “Global Anglican Communion” is aspirational. It is a vision of things to come; it looks to a future entity that fulfils God’s providential guidance for worldwide Anglicanism. It is not of course the New Jerusalem but a communion that takes shape imperfectly under the mercy of God, affected by the contingencies of history and the flawed character of even well-intentioned men and women.

At the same time, the Global Anglican Communion is already here. At the first GAFCON in Jerusalem, we asked arriving participants this question: “Are you leaving the Anglican Communion?” The answer came back strong and clear: “No, we are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion.” This may seem to some a semantic sleight of hand, but in my view it represents a new consciousness and confidence arising in the Global South.

As for the so-called “Instruments of Unity” – the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates’ Meeting, Anglican Consulative Council, and Lambeth Conference – the sad “fact” stated in the Jerusalem Statement is that they have signally failed to unify. Indeed, they have promoted disunity by colluding to give a pass to clear violation of Holy Scripture. Therefore let me put the state of affairs boldly: Lambeth 1998 was the last true conference of Anglican bishops, and the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007 was the last true meeting of Anglican Primates to gather under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The true heirs of these “Instruments” were the subsequent Global Anglican Future Conferences in Jerusalem and Nairobi and Global South “Trumpet” meetings in Singapore and Cairo.

It will come as no surprise when I say that the powers that be in Canterbury do not see the future this way. Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office (and its financial backers in New York) are working diligently to create division in the Global South, to discredit the coming Conference in Jerusalem, and to promote Lambeth 2020 as the true heir. If they succeed – and they might – they will not in fact restore a true Anglican communion of churches but rather construct a Potemkin village of serfs under one colonial baron. To catch this vision of the future, look at the charade called a Primates’ Meeting in October 2017, where the Primates were paraded around Canterbury Cathedral and treated to days of meaningless indaba followed up with a harsh unsigned Communiqué condemning Gafcon for “border-crossing” and disowning the Anglican Church in North America as an Anglican body.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Globalization, Theology

Richard Peers–A Better Story: thinking about the Church of England Evangelical Council’s “Gospel, Church and Marriage – Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life”

The first thing to note about the document is that is is graciously written and utterly immersed in Scripture. The vocabulary is profoundly Christian. I think that there is a lesson to be learned by those seeking a more inclusive approach. It would be hard to imagine language such as ‘submission’ and placing ourselves under the ‘rule of Christ’ among those seeking to be more inclusive. Yet there is no reason that it shouldn’t. Radical inclusion will only be truly Christian if it is so because it is the will of God, if it is what Jesus calls us to.

The statement recognises that we are fallen and in need of salvation. “The Gospel shines into the darkness of our fallen hearts and cultures, and gives us the transforming knowledge of God’s mercy and grace in the face of Jesus Christ.” It recognises that we are called “away from idolatry, injustice and immorality”. I think this is so important. One of the things that has shocked me in recent months is descriptions I have read of Love Island. A programme that not only encourages casual sex but publicises it. We all know that pornography is too easily accessible and read horror stories of the number of young people watching it. In one school I worked in a colleague had to try and identify the six Year 10 boys filmed while a female pupil performed oral sex on them in turn. The world so desperately needs “the life-changing goodness of [Christ’s] ‘amazing grace’”.

There is a strong and deeply biblical section on grace, and a wonderful sentence reminding us that “In establishing Christian communities the apostles … did not teach doctrine without discipleship, faith without formation, or grace without godliness.” We talk a lot of discipleship. With my educational preference for teaching that is knowledge based, rather than simply experiential, I value this call to link discipleship with doctrine, formation and godliness. We don’t talk nearly enough about how our lifestyles should be different because we are Christians.

The next section highlights the special gifts of marriage and singleness. The marriage section is strong, as we might expect, but could have been more. Working with young people I have always struggled to know how to promote marriage as a vocation. So many young people have no direct experience of lifelong marriage in any members of their family or friends. It is hard to praise marriage without sounding critical of their own families.

It is the section on singleness that I think is stronger, Again, this is desperately needed in a culture which imagines that to be a single is a failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

A S Haley: Historic Episcopal Church of South Carolina Asks US Supreme Court for Review

Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, along with a number of member parishes, having lost a confusing, non-definitive and divided decision in that State’s Supreme Court, have filed a petition for writ of certiorari (review) in the United States Supreme Court. The petition (fifty pages, downloadable from this link) asks the Court to bring harmony to the multiple lower court decisions that diverge over the meaning of “neutral principles of law” as used by the Court in its seminal case of Jones v. Wolf, 445 U.S. 595 (1979).

As the petition lays out with masterful clarity, both state and federal courts apply differing standards of “neutral principles” in approaching the resolution of disputes over the ownership of church property:

Nearly 40 years after this Court last addressed the neutral-principles approach in Jones, the courts are deeply divided about what “neutral” means. For many courts, “neutral” means just that—“neutral”: the high courts of seven States, plus the Eighth Circuit and three intermediate state courts, follow Jones’ clear guidance and resolve property disputes between religious organizations by applying well-established state trust and property law. These jurisdictions hold that a disassociating local church’s property is held in trust for the national church only if the alleged trust satisfies ordinary state law requirements for the creation of trusts. Courts and commentators call this the “strict approach” to Jones, because it blinds judges to the religious nature of the parties to the dispute, requiring them to apply the same ordinary state law that would apply to property disputes between any other parties….

The petition then addresses the Court directly, and explains why it should grant review:

Petitioners are here for one simple reason: they are churches. If this dispute arose between two secular organizations, or between a religious and a secular organization, the party standing in Petitioners’ shoes would have prevailed. Thus, far from yielding to the First Amendment, the decision below actually violates it. The Religion Clauses command a “principle of neutrality” whereby “the government may not favor one religion over another, or religion over irreligion, religious choice being the prerogative of individuals under the Free Exercise Clause.” McCreary Cty. v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 875-76 (2005). The hybrid approach disregards this vital bulwark, favoring one religious organization over another by allowing a national church to disregard the requirements of state trust law at the expense of a disassociated congregation’s claim to property. As two leading commentators recently emphasized, the strict approach to Jones is “the only approach consistent with the free exercise and nonentanglement principles of the Religion Clauses.” Michael W. McConnell & Luke W. Goodrich, On Resolving Church Property Disputes, 58 ARIZ. L. REV. 307, 311 (2016).

The persistent confusion over the meaning of Jones and the neutral-principles approach has resulted in polar-opposite outcomes in materially indistinguishable cases, creating enormous — and enormously expensive — uncertainty for this country’s religious institutions. Case outcomes turn on courts’ differing interpretations of Jones and the First Amendment, not on how the parties have arranged their affairs under state law. This case could have been easily resolved under ordinary state trust and property law. Instead, the parties and the property have been mired in litigation since 2013. Several years and millions of dollars later, Petitioners seek this Court’s review.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Stephen Noll–Fisking Bishop Fearon: The Lambeth Establishment Takes on the Global South

Bishop Fearon continues: The See of Canterbury is one of the unique features which binds us together. At the Primates’ Meeting in October it was clear just how much Canterbury meant to those who came. For Anglicans, communion with the See of Canterbury – and with its Archbishop – is the visible expression of our communion with one another.

A deep respect for the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury has existed among global Anglicans, who have been grateful for rather than resentful of the colonial heritage. This deference is in no small part because they received the gospel of salvation thereby; but in recent decades, this deference has been wearing thin. Fearon’s roseate picture of the recent Primates’ meeting is delusional, especially considering that three Primates from the largest African Provinces had refused to attend and seven others have now signed the Global South Network letter, which contradicts the (unsigned) Canterbury Primates’ Communiqué.

Bishop Fearon now comes to the point concerning Anglican identity. Contrary to Archbishop Okoh, he asserts: the relationship with the See of Canterbury is essential for Anglicans. You cannot be in the Anglican Communion without it.

This assertion represents an extreme interpretation of “primacy,” edging toward papalism. In fact, it suggests that Canterbury is not just a unique feature of Anglicanism but the unique feature. Note the use here of the word essential. Being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is not only required for formal recognition as a Province of the Anglican Communion, but it is required to call oneself an Anglican, a point I shall return to later.

Bishop Fearon supports his claim by reference to the Lambeth Conference: The fundamental character of this relationship was spelled out by the 1930 Lambeth Conference which refers to the Anglican Communion as “a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury…

Resolution 49 from the Lambeth Conference in 1930 is indeed an important statement concerning member churches of the Anglican Communion. The Resolution goes on to say of those churches:

  • they uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer as authorized in their several Churches;
  • they are particular or national Churches, and, as such, promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship; and
  • they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the Bishops in conference.

The standard definition of the Anglican Communion certainly calls for respect and received it uniformly until 1998. Following the 1998 Lambeth Conference, however, the adequacy of this arrangement was tested when one member church chose to violate what others consider a breach of “Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” by ordaining a practicing homosexual as bishop.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(AAC) Stephen Noll–The Canterbury Bait and Switch

In a follow-up interview, …[Archbp Justin Welby] claimed that his entire ministry is one of reconciliation and then applied that to the divisions within the Anglican Communion over sexuality. “Our challenge” he said, “is to work our way forward, holding on to the truths that are given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures; and yet never sinking to the level of demonising or hating people because they are homosexual.”

So what precisely are the truths given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures? At the 1998 Lambeth Conference, 570 bishops stated that “[this Conference] in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage” and that “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation” (Resolution I.10).

Justin Welby has refused to commend this Resolution and, so I argue, intends to relegate it to the dustbin of history. This Resolution – repeatedly affirmed by Global South churches, including the Anglican Church of Kenya, and repeatedly violated by the Episcopal Church USA and others – notably went missing from the October 2017 Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué.

In his interview, Justin Welby proceeded to laud this Primates’ Meeting as an example of unity in difference, skipping over the fact that three of the major Primates from Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria), representing about 40% of the Anglicans in the world, had refused to attend.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley on the Latest South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions–A Triumph of Injustice and Irresponsibility

If evidence were needed to demonstrate the fecklessness of the justices who are responsible for the mess the South Carolina Supreme Court has made of its church property law in this proceeding, the latest pair of rulings on the petitions would suffice, all on their own. Consider the following facts:

1. There was never any decision of a majority of the Court in the case. In five separately written opinions, only two Justices (including Justice Hearn, herself an Episcopalian) agreed on reversing the decision below in order to hand all of the disputed church property to the Episcopal Church and its Potemkin diocese in South Carolina. Two Justices agreed on letting the decision below stand, albeit for different reasons. And the fifth — Chief Justice Beatty — simply punted by saying he would enforce a Dennis Canon trust (but not for the reasons stated by Justices Hearn and Pleicones) only against those parishes who had “acceded” to the national canons. (Never mind that virtually no parish had ever done so since the Canon’s adoption in 1979, or that any such involuntary trust would have to be revocable at will under South Carolina law.)

2. All five of the Justices misunderstood the motion to recuse Justice Kaye Hearn. They appear to have regarded it as wholly independent of the motion for a rehearing, when it was not. The reason is that granting the request for a rehearing would have accomplished the same things requested again in the motion to recuse: the Justices would have been able to decide the case anew. Their prior opinions would be replaced by any new ones written on rehearing, and Justice Hearn’s prior opinion would no longer be of any account. But they treated the motion to recuse just one Justice as a request to do all these things independently of any rehearing, which makes no sense, and appeared to congratulate themselves on their unanimity in striking down a straw man.

3. Thus they each (including Justice Hearn herself!) ruled that the motion to recuse came too late, since the full Court had already rendered its non-decision in the case. The motion to recuse, however, was aimed only at her future participation in the case; the past is water under the bridge, and could be corrected, if at all, only by granting a rehearing. (For her part, Justice Hearn mooted the motion to recuse by announcing on her own that she would not participate in further proceedings in the case.)

4. But not before voting to deny the motion to recuse!

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, State Government, Stewardship

Food for Thought from the TEC Bishop of Dallas reflecting on a recent “advert of the Hemlock Society”

I recently read an advert of the Hemlock Society, presenters at a diocesan convention, believe it or not. “We’ve moved far past these primitive notions of a God ruling life – perhaps now we can see how in such cases taking life enhances quality life – and our powers to affect this may be God’s will in our time – who is he anyway to command life and death – our methods are so pastoral now… .” The soft offer of half-truths to an opposite end – to learn whose soft voice that really is where spiritual safety lies. To hear God’s voice plainly as His, even in the modern hall of mirrors – what if that is the higher wisdom? To reject the soft, spiritual, skeptical voice, Girma Wormtongue’s, may be the key to Christian ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops