Category : – Anglican: Analysis

(1st Things) Ephraim Radner reflects on the Partial Lambeth Gathering of 2022

This year’s Conference was meant to help bring things back together. I observed it only from a distance, but I am aware of the great labor, prayer, and goodwill that went into its preparation (of which I was a part), and of the efforts of many present to be faithful, open, and hopeful. For all my frustrations, I admire the archbishop of Canterbury and the many bishops who worked hard for this affair. But the result simply didn’t add up.

The penny is finally dropping. Anglicans are “irreconcilably ­divided”—that is, their divisions are viewed on all sides as arising from essential commitments, which cannot be compromised. Anglican leaders are finally admitting that these “essential commitments” are tied up with claims about sexual identity and its scriptural (and hence Christian) meaning. Not that most Anglicans did not already know this. But at the public and administrative levels of leadership within the Communion—among bishops and their theological advisors or subalterns—a refrain of the past two decades has insisted on the secondary nature of these differences. Sexuality and its scriptural significance, it was explained, do not touch “core” realities of the gospel; they are “matters indifferent” (adiaphora, in the technical sense of not being doctrinal issues that should divide the church), or, if not quite that, at least matters that can be set aside as we focus on our commonalities and continue to chug along “together.” The Communion could carry on as a Communion, we were told, without resolving the supposedly secondary issues of sex and sexual identity.

It was at best a naive view and at worst a willful refusal to admit the obvious in hopes of maintaining a grip on ecclesiastical power. Though theologians, formal and informal, can argue that this or that matter ought to be adiaphora, the category is in fact purely descriptive. Christians divide over what they think is important, not according to a template devised by scholars. So “sex” is not important? Prove it to the Communion! Opposing sides say otherwise and have proven their commitments through their actions. Confusion, disagreement, and political hostilities over sexuality reflect deep cultural issues that may one day be resolved—but not in the short term, and probably not without the intervention of catastrophic social changes driven by factors other than theological discussion.

The Anglican “Communion,” therefore, is no longer a “communion” in the twentieth-­century sense, a sense that grew out of a nineteenth-century understanding and experience of common Christian mission. There are Anglican leaders who seem quite happy with the fragmentation; indeed, this summer’s Lambeth Conference seemed at times giddy with relief at having left behind the desperate efforts to paper over disunity. But if the Anglican “Communion” is not the Communion of the past, what is it?

First, it is necessary to clarify what else today’s Communion is not and does not do. The Anglican Communion no longer holds a common teaching about the gospel….

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(T M) How Deep are the Anglican Communion rifts over the recent concluded 2022 partial Lambeth gathering?

This puzzle became more complicated recently during Lambeth 2022, which Nigeria…along with the Churches of Uganda and Rwanda [could not attend out of conscientious and theological objection]. Other Global South bishops during Lambeth standoffs with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby over the status of doctrines on marriage and sex declined to receive Holy Communion with openly gay and lesbian bishops.

“There is a profound asymmetric quality to the Anglican Communion, where the voice of the bulk of its membership is either absent or muted,” said the Rev. David Goodhew of St. Barnabas Church in Middlesborough, England. He is the author of a series of articles about African Anglicanism for Covenant, the blog of “The Living Church,” an independent Anglican publication founded in 1878.

“If one adds up the number of bishops who didn’t share Holy Communion at Lambeth … that is a very large number,” he said. “I have been startled by the number of descriptions that said this Lambeth was a success. I don’t know how one makes that claim when it would appear the bulk of the Anglican Communion’s bishops couldn’t come together to receive Communion. That looks like a disaster.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(Terry Mattingly) Painful Lambeth 2022 reality: Anglican bishops can no longer ‘walk together’ to their altars

The Rev. Charlie Bell, author of the book “Queer Holiness,” went further. “The Lambeth Conference has,” tweeted the psychiatrist, a fellow at Girton College, Cambridge, “ended with “a recognition – explicit and implicit – that the acceptance of LGBTQI love and SSM is within the bounds of the communion we share. The Holy Spirit was at work.”

For Global South bishops, all of this showed that Anglicanism “is not in a healthy, working state.” The question is whether brokenness will inspire repentance.

The “revisionist Provinces,” said a GSFA communique, “adapt the Word of God to the prevailing culture … and end up condoning what is morally wrong in God’s eyes. … Failing to correct false teaching is to fail to act in love. Hence, orthodox Bishops are duty-bound to God not to ‘live and let live’ under the guise of simply walking together.”

Thus, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama of South Sudan told journalists: “A communion is where you have one belief, one doctrine and here there is an issue where there are two different doctrines. How can you walk together?”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(CEN) Peter Mullen on the Partial Lambeth Gathering of 2022–we can see already what the outcome will be

The Global South Christians still hold to the old-time religion.

Christians in the West have so imbibed secular values and swallowed them whole that they have brainwashed themselves into believing that secular values are Christianity.

They are not.

So what will happen? There is much talk of ‘agreeing to differ’ and ‘two integrities.’ But agreeing to differ is a meaningless term:for to differ is to disagree. And ‘two
integrities’ is a similar absurdity: for integrity means the unity of a single body.

It is fairly obvious to see what the outcome will be when the Lambeth talking shop is over and done with: the Christians will return to Africa and the secularised post-Christian churches in the West will get back to their being…well, secularised post-Christian churches, the transitioning clinics and net-zero.

Read it all (subscription) from the Church of England newspaper, August 5, 2022, page 7.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Martin Davie–The Archbishop Of Canterbury’s Comments On Human Sexuality – Reflections Of A Critical Friend

The rewording is part of their attempt to achieve precisely this end. For them the shift from talking about ‘the mind of the Communion as a whole’ in the original Call to ‘some say, this and others say that’ in the revised version is intended to shift the Call towards the idea that departing from historic position of the churches of the Anglican Communion as Lambeth resolution 1.10 can be acceptable within Anglicanism.

Secondly on the issue of process, the archbishop promises the bishops that their feedback will be ‘submitted to the Chair of the Lambeth Calls Working Group,’ but he leaves unclear what will happen to that feedback subsequently. On such an important and divisive issue, what will happen next ought to have been clearly explained in a way that would give everyone confidence in the integrity of the next step in the process.

Thirdly, in his remarks at the session, he wrongly separates out what resolution 1.10 says about pastoral care from the rest of the resolution. The resolution does say that ‘all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ.’ However, these words have to be read in the context of the resolution’s declaration that ‘in view of the teaching of Scripture,’ the Lambeth conference ‘upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those not called to marriage.’

This context means (a) that being a ‘believing and faithful’ person who belongs to the body of Christ involves accepting the traditional Christian sexual discipline of absolute sexual fidelity within marriage and absolute sexual abstinence outside it, (b) that this discipline applies to all people whatever the nature of their sexual desire and (c) that ministering ‘pastorally and sensitively to all’ has to involve helping everyone to live in the way just described.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Phil Ashey on the 2022 partial Lambeth Gathering–a Hope and a Future

All of the archbishops agreed that the number one problem leaving LC2022 is the unresolved divisions between Anglicans who follow what the Bible says plainly about human identity, human dignity, creation, marriage, and sexuality— and those Anglican who do not. They are disappointed by the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury who tolerates sin (“he will not call sin, sin”) and will not discipline it. They are frustrated that the Communion structures failed to provide any mechanism for addressing disobedience to Anglian teaching, and specifically Lambeth 1.10 (1998) in what is certainly an “ecclesial deficit”. Even though these Global South Anglicans represent the overwhelming majority of Anglicans, they feel themselves a minority, “a faithful remnant” because of the power imbalance that western and largely white Global North Anglicans exercise over them through the structures and processes hedging this Lambeth…[gathering] of Bishops. After the failure to even vote on the authority of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998), for which they came to make a stand, they feel the rest of the program of bible study, fellowship, and “sharing of points of view” is meaningless. They affirm that they may be gathered together, “but we are not walking together,” no matter how many times the Archbishop of Canterbury proclaims otherwise.

The Bible is not the ultimate authority in this Anglican Communion gathering. Western Anglican leaders here have interpreted the Bible by reading it through their own culture (eisegesis) rather than reading it in its plain and grammatical sense, understanding its words in the context of the whole of scripture and then applying it to the culture in which one lives (exegesis). As one archbishop says, “We cannot mix culture with Christianity; we must separate culture from Christianity and then let the Bible speak to the culture.” In the words of para 1.5 of the Cairo Covenant (2019): “The authority of the Scripture is its Spirit-bestowed capacity to quicken the Church to truthful speech and righteous action. We reject therefore the hermeneutical scepticism that commits the Church to a near-infinite deferral of decisions on matters of faith and morals.”

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(AAC) Phil Ashey–Gsfa Bishops And Canterbury Both Release Statements On Lambeth 1.10

At almost the same time, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) released statements on Lambeth Resolution 1.10. Both could not have been more different in tone.

Canterbury released a letter to those at Lambeth stating that the Anglican Communion did, in fact, affirm Resolution 1.10. He even writes that the fact that Lambeth Calls: Human Dignity quotes the resolution three times should be enough to show that this is true. What he doesn’t say is that the part of the resolution that affirms the traditional view of marriage and human sexuality was unceremoniously removed from the Call after causing liberal backlash. It is evident he is trying to appease Global South leaders and progressive leaders at the same time. Welby provides only a half-hearted endorsement, for he goes on to say, “other provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage, after careful theological reflection and a process of reception.” Does this mean that those who refuse to accept Lambeth 1.10 hold an equally plausible view supported by reasoned theology and careful consideration? Do those who affirm the orthodox view therefore have none of that?

Not surprisingly, Welby concludes his convoluted letter with a plea for further unity, writing, “What is also clear is that Lambeth 1.10 itself continues to be a source of pain, anxiety and contention among us…To be reconciled to one another across such divides is not something we can achieve by ourselves.” He then adds a plea for leaders to turn to Christ, who can heal our divisions, and yet, isn’t it precisely the nature of Christ and what He requires from us that is in contention? Each faction believes they are following Christ. Can this division really be healed through such superficial well-wishes but no real action?

In contrast, today’s GSFA resolution was an exercise in extreme clarity.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

This 2022 partial Lambeth gathering needs to be seen for what it is

Can we please just be clear that what impacts all has to be decided by all, all the pretending notwithstanding. The Anglican Communion is in broken communion as illustrated by those who are not present at the partial Lambeth gathering, and impaired communion with those present as illustrated by those who are not receiving in 2022.

This gathering isn’t deciding anything for Anglicans, nor is the present situation in the globe for Anglicans being shown by its discussions, etc, KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology

(AAC) Embracing Good Disagreement For Real Change

The decision announced Friday that the Global South bishops will sit during Holy Communion during all of Lambeth’s Eucharistic services sent shock waves through the Anglican Twitterverse. It was bold. It was clear. It was divisive. But is division truly a bad thing? It is often assumed that it is, in all forms and at all times. To say it can actually be good is controversial. Archbishop Justin Welby stated at Lambeth that “division doesn’t matter,” that essentially, you can disagree and yet still be united. At other times he called division downright unacceptable and wrong. But the scriptures and reason point to the reality that often division, if not an end in and of itself, is good if it leads to a greater good: true unity.

This true unity is both created by and expressed through Holy Communion. It is a unity set in “one faith, one Lord, one baptism.” Certainly Abp. Welby would say all these things are true of the various churches together at Lambeth, that Communion should be taken by all because, despite our disagreements, we do share one faith, we do have one Lord. But can those bishops who worship with Muslims or engage in pagan ceremonies or deny the physical resurrection of Christ be said to worship the same Lord as those who hold to a biblically orthodox view of God? Or can those who deny the validity of the Scriptures or the Creed or who allow for sexual immorality in the Church be said to hold the same faith as those who continue in orthodox dogma and praxis? Reason would say no. At times one has to wonder how much reason is left in Canterbury.

If our faith can be expressed only by the most minimal of qualifications, what was the point of synods and councils in the Church’s past? Why all the effort? Would Sts. Peter and James have had to facilitate a disagreement between Jews and Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem? Why wouldn’t St. Paul simply accept Judaizers along with orthodox Christians, saying that, though they believed different things, they were really all one? What was the point of the Ecumenical Councils? Should the Arians and the orthodox simply have communed together? After all, both parties called Jesus “Lord.” They both believed He was divine. They just disagreed on how divine he really was.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Phil Ashey on the Latest Developments at the 2022 Partial Lambeth Gathering–Two Faces, Two Communions

Archbishop Badi clearly stated: “The Communion is not well, and it needs surgery.” Their request to present their own resolution, along with the refusal to take Communion with unrepentant and false teachers, is the beginning of surgery, finally necessary for such a time as this. It is a last attempt to call the Church to repentance from teachings and practices contrary to the Bible, its clarity, and its authority. The Global South bishops share an understanding that the most important issue today is the need to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a whole Gospel for a whole person. This whole Gospel mission rests on the clarity and authority of the Bible for all Anglicans everywhere. The significance of reaffirming Lambeth 1.10 (1998) is nothing less than the reaffirmation of the authority of Scripture as the basis for everything in the Communion: faith, order, and mission.

The Lambeth Calls confusion, the elephant in the room of missing bishops, the broken Communion: these are the symptoms of a house divided, of two faces of Anglicanism, two Communions. In one Communion is loyalty to the idea of a messy family complete with infighting and divisions that must be expected, tolerated, and even welcomed. In the other is a vision for a family that strives to “be of one mind,” while doing the hard work of truly disagreeing, discussing, and above all praying for repentance and transformation. This family is a communion of churches held together on the basis of faithfulness to the one Father in Heaven, His Word, and all that He reveals about creation, humanity, and the freedom found in Jesus Christ alone.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Andrew Goddard–Lambeth ‘Calls’, Lambeth I.10, and the nature of the Anglican Communion (2): the future

My first real engagement with the Anglican Communion began 20 years ago this month when Wycliffe Hall, where I was a relatively new tutor in ethics, held a conference on the Future of Anglicanism. Following a call there from the then Primate of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez, I subsequently co-authored with Peter Walker, and the assistance of many readers, a contribution which we entitled True Union in the Body?. It sought to explore questions about sexuality (defending Lambeth I.10) and how to handle our differences over this (proposing as Windsor later did a moratorium and warning, sadly accurately, of the dangers if this was not implemented).

That title was purposefully a play on the language of “the body”. To an extent I had not then fully realised, it was the start of a conviction that these two question of the nature of true union in our created physical bodies (sexuality) and the nature of true union in the body of Christ (ecclesiology) are, in the travails of the Anglican Communion, themselves united to each other. When they gathered in 2008, the bishops of the Communion had a framework to help them seek to find a way forward but the details of that failed to be accepted. In 2016, the Primates of the Communion charted an alternative way forward, consistent with that framework. Now, in 2022, the bishops gathering at Lambeth have not been asked to work with that framework and the current calls appear to direct the Communion in totally the opposite direction.

There is the real risk that the tear in the fabric of the Communion which the Primates in 2003 rightly warned would happen, may now become even greater and finally rip the Communion into two separate, distinct ecclesial communions. We can only hope and pray that, as the bishops gather and pray and study Scripture and discuss, mindful that over 200 of their fellow bishops of the Communion (whose convictions on these matters are well known and so can be factored into the Lambeth deliberations) are already significantly separated, they will address honestly and theologically their differences over both sexuality and ecclesiology and be willing to be led by the Spirit rather than to continue to grieve the Spirit.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Martin Davie–A Review Of The 2022 Partial Lambeth Gathering Calls Guidance And Study Document

The Call on Human Dignity is right to declare that ‘acts and attitudes against the dignity of God’s children are sin.’ [10] However, the Call is also problematic both in what it says and in what it does not say.

It is problematic in what it says because, as before, it takes an entirely negative view of the colonial legacy, failing to acknowledge that there are positive as well as negative aspects to it. It calls for the establishment of a Commission for Redemptive Action to shape the response of the Church Commissioners and the Communion as a whole to the historic issues of colonialism and slavery, but it does not give any explanation of why such a commission is necessary or what it is meant to achieve.

What precisely is ‘redemptive action’? We are not told. If it means that the Church Commissioners should pay reparations (to whom and on what basis?) then it should say so. It calls for Anglicans to lobby for ‘social protection measures’[11] but does not explain what these are. It suggests that the work of the ACC on promoting human dignity in relation to gender should be extended to cover sexuality, but it doesn’t say what this would mean in practice and the danger is that this could be used as a cover for encouraging the acceptance of same-sex relationships.

It is problematic in what it does not say in that although it acknowledges Lambeth 1.10 as ‘the mind of the Communion as a whole’[12] it fails to say that therefore provinces should act in accordance with it, or that where they have failed to act in accordance with it, they need to repent and seek to rectify the situation. It is also problematic in that it fails to say that the dignity of the human person exists from the moment of conception and that therefore abortion should never be viewed as a legitimate form of birth control, and in that fails to note that God’s creation of human beings as male and female means that gender transition is an act of rebellion against God that the Church should not support or give liturgical recognition to, even while offering love and support to the persons concerned.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

A look back to 2019–Stephen Noll–When Is “good Disagreement” Not Good? When It Contradicts God’s Word

Finally, the Rev. Dr. Brett Cane, a Canadian Anglican serving in Egypt, has written an article on “Biblical Perspectives on Staying in Fellowship.” Having noted Paul’s exhortation to seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares and His prayer for unity (Ephesians 4:1-4; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43; John 17:20-23), Dr. Cane concludes:

It is often uncomfortable to be in fellowship with those with whom we disagree… From my perspective, liberals are good at asking questions – conservatives are not. In that sense, Jesus was a true liberal in relationship to the religious establishment of his time. However, Jesus was deeply rooted in the Scriptures and was able to give answers. In my opinion, that is why the liberal needs the conservative – to give answers from a Biblical perspective. We need one another; we need to stay in fellowship.

Is it really true that conservatives are not liberal? In the pre-Gafcon book The Way, the Truth and the Life, we wrote:

Besides its emphasis on the Gospel, Evangelical Anglicanism has another side: a spirit of liberality… Liberality of spirit characterizes the Anglican via media approach to doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral matters, which seeks to be firm in matters of salvation and modest with regard to secondary or ‘indifferent’ matters (adiaphora). Going back to John Jewell and Richard Hooker, this “sweet reasonableness” (Titus 3:2) has been a hallmark of Anglican writers, with George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, and John Stott being prime examples. (page 36)

By contrast, my experience of contemporary liberals is that they are supremely illiberal. Take the example of the Episcopal Church USA and Anglican Church of Canada. Having been warned by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 not to proceed with homosexual ordinations and same-sex unions, they bulldozed their way ahead, reducing the Communion to rubble. And now various other “liberal” churches are following suit, with the Church of England not far behind. Does anyone really imagine that as a result of weeks-long indaba at Lambeth 2020, the “liberals” will listen to the conservative answers from Scripture? Is there any way “liberals” will come to one mind with Richard Hooker when he says: “what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit [faith] and obedience is due”? The Bishop of Bangor is a case in point.

In a recent collection of essays titled Good Disagreement: Grace and Truth in a Divided Church, two Anglican New Testament scholars examine the way in which Jesus and the apostolic church dealt with controversy and division. Dr. Michael Thompson explains that Jesus’ own teaching and ministry caused a “tear” in the garment of Judaism and a “sword” splitting families apart: “there is no indication that Jesus sought deliberately to divide his hearers; it was the inevitable result of a message which some joyfully accepted but others rejected or simply did not understand” (page 44). One might say that “grace” and “truth” are not really opposites: the Good News of God’s grace and truth in Jesus causes some to turn to the light and others to hold fast to the darkness (John 3:17-21).

Dr. Thompson points to texts in which Jesus warns against judging one another (Matthew 7:1) and others where He insists on church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18). He goes on to consider texts in which, on the one hand, the apostles warn against factions in the church (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1-3), while on the other hand they condemn false teachers (2 Peter 2).

Thompson notes in conclusion that the apostles excluded individuals and not entire congregations. I do not think this is quite right. The early church was not an institution in the modern sense but a fellowship recognized by the apostles and their successors. Hence St. John can declare concerning a heretical faction: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

The Gafcon and Global South movements have warned repeatedly concerning a false Gospel in the Episcopal Church and others. Unfortunately, since the formal “Instruments of Communion” have failed to deal with this “leaven of the Pharisees,” it has infected the entire communion. Hence Gafcon has stated: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

As the 2022 Partial Lambeth Gathering approaches, Martin Davie provides some helpful analysis of the past

It has been suggested that the shift from resolutions to Calls is intended to retrospectively downplay the authority of resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. I do not know if that is what the change of name is intended to achieve. However, if it is, then neither the archbishop’s video nor the accompanying leaflet achieve this purpose effectively. This is because it has never been held by any well-informed Anglican that resolution 1.10 was legally binding in the sense of being automatically legally enforceable in terms of the Canon law of the individual provinces of the Anglican Communion. As noted above, no Lambeth Conference resolution has ever possessed this kind of authority. In that sense it is correct to say that resolution 1.10 does not ‘order people about.’

However, this does not mean that the resolution does not possess authority. It does possess binding authority in two ways.

First, as an unrepealed and unreplaced Lambeth resolution, it possesses binding moral authority as a decision made by the bishops of the Anglican Communion meeting together in council as the senior leaders of their churches.

Secondly, it possesses binding theological authority because what it says is theologically correct and Anglicans, just like all other Christians, have an obligation to shape their thinking and their actions in the light of what is theologically correct.

The encyclical letter sent out by the bishops of the Lambeth Conference of 1920 declares, in words which have become famous among students of Anglicanism:

‘For half a century the Lambeth Conference has more and more served to focus the experience and counsels of our Communion. But it does not claim to exercise any powers of control or command. It stands for the far more spiritual and more Christian principle of loyalty to the fellowship. The Churches represented in it are indeed independent, but independent with the Christian freedom which recognizes the restraints of truth and of love. They are not free to deny the truth. They are not free to ignore the fellowship.‘[6]

The reason Anglicans are not free to reject resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is because Anglicans are not free ‘to deny the truth’ or ‘to ignore the fellowship’ (ignoring the fellowship involving among other things rejecting joint decisions properly arrived at by the bishops of the Communion). Nothing said in the archbishop’s video or in the accompanying leaflet changes that fact.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Global South Churches & Primates

Alan Haley on the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision in the Historic Anglican Diocese vs the new TEC Diocese in SC Fracas

The unanimous decision announced on April 20, 2022 by the South Carolina Supreme Court fulfilled (by its unanimity) at least one of the predictions made in the previous post on this blog after the oral arguments last December. Unanimity, however, in this instance served not to resolve thorny issues of South Carolina law, but rather sent a strong signal that the collective Justices were circling their wagons around their own, in a somewhat transparent attempt to recover the Court’s dignity lost in the fiasco created by its disgraceful disunity in 2017.

The result (reached by implicit design) can, alas, bring peace to neither of the litigating factions. Applying extremely arbitrary criteria of its own devising, the Court decided that of the twenty-nine individual parishes before it, fourteen (by the documents they adopted) allowed the nationwide trust specified in the Dennis Canon to be applied to their properties, while fifteen did not. The hair-splitting on display here is best illustrated by the following passage from footnote 12 of the main opinion by Justice Few:

 

The analysis of whether Holy Cross, Stateburg satisfied the second element discussed above—intent to create a trust—is the same as our analysis for St. Paul’s, Bennettsville, but the outcome of the case for the two Parishes is different. This is because Holy Cross, Stateburg took affirmative present action in its 2011 Bylaws to “accede[] to the . . . Canons of the [National Church],” but St. Paul’s, Bennettsville merely stated it was “organized under” and “subject to” the Canons.

This strained construction transforms the English word “accede” (“join in, agree and consent to”) into a poison pill that forever dooms the property of the parish using it to belong to the national Church rather than to the parish itself and its members — the latter are entitled to make use of their own property only for as long as they agree to remain with the sinking ecclesiastical shipwreck that is the current Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The construction has acquired its severity by a questionable legerdemain performed by Justice Few and his colleagues.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Law & Legal Issues

(Pzephizo) Andrew Goddard–Can the C of E ever bridge its differences on sexuality?

We could, like the Methodist Church has recently done, simply extend our current practical incoherence into our teaching. We could move to a position where, as a church, we state that we uphold and support contradictory teachings. This would also fail to address either problem and appears to ignore Jesus’ stark warning later in Matthew (and also in Mark and Luke) that “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

We could, and should, through the LLF discernment process, make one more attempt to see whether we really can find some agreement as to what would be the rock on which we should be building, whether something that has not previously been recognised by the church as rock might nevertheless be a solid foundation we can all recognise as faithful to Jesus.

It may though be that, lamenting our lack of common mind, and renewing our commitment to keep seeking such a common mind, we have to begin to consider seriously what changes our collective double-mindedness renders necessary in how we structure our common life. How can we create sufficient space or distance to enable each view to find expression in an episcopal structure which has some form of agreed teaching that in turn authorises consistent practice and so has intellectual and moral integrity without generating the level of conflict now sadly so common? How can we allow each group of Anglicans to build on what they believe to be the rock and to avoid building on what they believe to be sand?

Because we are here dealing with competing and contradictory visions of faithfulness to Christ, of the holiness to which we are called in Christ, of our created human nature, and of the ground on which we are to build communities of disciples, this is a much greater challenge than that we have faced and struggled with in relation to women priests and bishops. And because our received ecclesial structures are those of episcopacy within a geographically ordered national church and a global Communion this is a much greater challenge than the ecclesial questions faced by the URC and Baptists and others with a different church structure. The sad history of Anglican provinces and the Anglican Communion over the last 20 years confirms how great a challenge it is. But it is a challenge which we must perhaps now face and, as far as possible, face and seek to resolve together, across our differences.

Read it all.

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

(Robert Munday) A New Anglican Reformation?

We have come through the initial phase of a new Reformation: the recovery of essential truths. But we are tired. Like Luther after his trials were over, like the Church of England after the reign of “Bloody Mary” was ended, we are tired. We have entered the “Elizabethan Settlement” phase of this new Reformation. It remains to be seen how the compromises will be worked out in the interest of comprehension and catholic unity. When challenges come to this endeavor, we must pray for God’s protection and blessing on His Church and the renewal of our hearts, and minds, and strength by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

And when the temporal leadership and institutions of Anglicanism sometimes fail us, I am still inspired by these words from Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher who said that Anglicanism “has a special responsibility at this time in the world. We have no doctrine of our own—we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic creeds, and those creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock. We know how to bring to bear on our Christian devotion and creed all the resources of charity and reason and human understanding submitted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So we have a freedom and embrace a faith which, in my belief, represents the Christian faith in a purer form than can be found in any other Church in Christendom.”

Archbishop Fisher concluded, “That is not a boast. It is a reminder to us of the immense treasure that is committed to our charge — the immense responsibility on us in these days to maintain unshaken those common traditions that we have inherited from those who have gone before us.”

May God confirm these words and the love of the Church of which they speak to our hearts and minds, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Does the Church of England deserve to survive?

So, we have a situation where a Church of England chaplain, who must have held a licence from the Bishop of Derby, has been reported to the police (though they did not pursue it) for articulating the possibility of believing in something which is the current doctrine of the Church of England, and has been made redundant subsequently, which he believes to have been discriminatory and unfair. What would we hope that leaders of the Church of England might say publicly in support of him and his ministry? What might they say to other clergy who could be in a similar challenging situation? What resources could the national Education department have made available to give guidance to chaplains and Christian teachers in schools using the Educate and Celebrate material?

Answer came there ‘None’.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail reported on the case, and reported that Andrea Williams, of Christian Concern, approached Libby Lane, the bishop of Derby, as well as the office of both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, for comment. Libby Lane was reported as saying:

Public statements in support of one side in a dispute, prior to the evidence emerging in legal proceedings, is neither in the interests of good legal process nor, indeed, likely to serve Dr Randall’s personal interests well.

York said that there is nothing to add, and Canterbury (in the absence of Justin Welby on sabbatical) said ‘No comment.’

I find that extremely odd. I don’t see how difficult it would be to say something like ‘We cannot comment on this particular case. But we support him in his ministry, and he was, of course, quite right to tell pupils that they can believe in the doctrine of the Church of England.’ The initial talk was in June 2019—nearly two years ago. People have had two years to make a comment, and a clear 18 months before this case was brought.

And I don’t need to take the Daily Mail’s word for the story, because Bernard contacted me himself, in June 2019, to check what he was planning to say, and whether it was a fair expression of Christian faith and Church of England doctrine. I affirmed that it was. And I have therefore also offered an ‘expert witness’ statement for the court case being led by Christian Legal Centre on Bernard’s behalf.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is the Church of England on the brink of collapse?

No, the Church of England is not on the brink of collapse But it does need to be on the brink of making some courageous and radical decisions if it is to have an effective ministry in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A S Haley–Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries

In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25):

In sum, TEC’s determinations as to which faction is the true diocese loyal to the church and which congregants are in good standing are ecclesiastical determinations to which the courts must defer. But applying neutral principles to the organizational documents, the question of property ownership is not entwined with or settled by those determinations. The Fort Worth Diocese’s identity depends on what its documents say. To that end, the Diocesan Constitution and Canons provided who could make amendments and under what circumstances; none of those circumstances incorporate or rely on an ecclesiastical determination by the national church; and nothing in the diocese’s or national church’s documents precluded amendments rescinding an accession to or affiliation with TEC. Applying neutral principles of law, we hold that the majority faction is the Fort Worth Diocese and parishes and missions in union with that faction hold equitable title to the disputed property under the Diocesan Trust.

The opinion then makes short shrift of ECUSA’s remaining arguments. It demolishes ECUSA’s Dennis Canon, first by holding that a beneficiary like ECUSA cannot declare a trust in its favor in Texas on property that it does not own, and second by holding that even if the Dennis Canon could be said to create a trust in ECUSA’s favor, the Canon does not, as Texas law specifies, make the trust “expressly irrevocable”. Thus it was well within the power of Bishop Iker’s Fort Worth Diocese to revoke any such trust, which it did by a diocesan canon adopted in 1989 — to which ECUSA never objected in the twenty years following that act.

The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ holding that ECUSA could not assert title to the parishes’ properties by way of any “constructive” trust (a creation of the law to prevent a wrongdoer’s “unjust enrichment”), or by the ancient doctrines of estoppel or trespass-to-try-title, or by accusing Bishop Iker and his fellow trustees of the diocesan corporation of breaches of fiduciary obligation allegedly owed to ECUSA. Each of those claims would involve the civil courts unconstitutionally in disputes over religious doctrine.

In conclusion, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the grounds last noted, reversed its principal holding that as an ecclesiastical matter, ECUSA got to say which corporation under Texas civil law was the entity which held the parishes’ property in trust, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment that Bishop Iker’s corporation was in law the trustee of the properties of the parishes in his diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Gafcon) Time for an Anglican Reality Check

What’s happened since Lambeth 1998?

The Anglican Reality Check takes a look at the recent history of the Anglican Communion. It reveals how predominantly Western church leaders have relentlessly sought to undermine Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference which reaffirmed the clear teaching of Scripture on marriage and specifically rejected homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.

In 1 Chronicles 12:32 certain men of Issachar are described as those ‘who had understanding of the times’. This quality is very much needed by faithful Anglicans today. In a global culture of instant communication and soundbites, there is a danger that we live in the moment and lose our capacity for godly discernment. The Bible continually warns of the danger of forgetfulness and the need to remember, both to recall the goodness and mercy of God and to learn the lessons of past failure and disobedience.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The C of E Bishops are playing a game of power politics

Last week’s College of Bishops meeting was described by one unnamed evangelical bishop as a ‘bruising experience’. Out of it emerged a statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologising for the House of Bishops’ statement on civil partnerships in which it had set out the orthodox position of the Church of England.

The Archbishops wrote: “We… apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement … which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”

Predictably, of course, this apology has done far more damage than the original statement. Liberals took it as a pseudo-apology along the lines of ‘sorry for offending you’, or ‘sorry for being caught out’. Many others took it as an apology for the actual statement and therefore a rejection of the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. Others took it as a clever bit of spin in which the Archbishops could head off liberal outrage, while still maintaining faith with evangelicals and traditionalists. That latter interpretation does the Archbishops no favours at all because it portrays them in similar terms to Iannucci’s Thick of It as spin doctors desperately and incompetently triangulating to win their nihilistic game of power politics.

The Bishop of Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley, is the latest Diocesan Bishop to break ranks with the Bishops’ pastoral statement on civil partnerships. He revealed that he and other colleagues had asked that the document be withdrawn but a majority of bishops decided against this course of action. From this insight, it is clear that we are beginning at last to see a bit of an honest open ‘fight’ in the House of Bishops. This is about time too. And I also hope that this division is openly revealed in the General Synod as it meets this week.

If we have this aim of achieving ‘good disagreement’ let us at least be open about it rather than hide it behind closed doors. It cannot be ‘good disagreement’ if it is hidden behind the superficial smiles representing faux Anglican ‘niceness’.At the moment suspicions are festering and we in the Church of England are in that anxious and fretting place – the calm before the storm.

The problem with processes such as Living in Love and Faith is that most of the debate and discussion takes place behind closed doors in a process that many of us simply don’t trust. I have always believed that this process is in place simply to kick the can down the road rather than leading to a place where a decision can be made about the future direction of the Church of England. I am much more likely to be convinced if this was an open discussion in the Church of England.

It would be much more honest to recognise the profound differences we have over human sexuality and decide how the two sides in this debate are going to co-exist – if they ever can – in the same Church.Does the future now lie in some kind of formal distancing of relationships from which different networks and forms of oversight can emerge?

–This column appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2020, edition (subscriptions are encrouaged)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AAC) Phil Ashey–How Can Two Walk Together? Questions for Gafcon and Global South leaders following the Partial Primates Gathering in Jordan

During this interview, [Greg Venables] states that at the meeting there was much discussion among the Primates, and “everyone was clear that the differences are fundamental and major, that we are in a broken state of communion and that we haven’t been able to find a way forward. We talked freely about how all attempts so far haven’t been followed through.”

This statement is impossible to reconcile with the statements of Archbishops Welby and Badi. The question remains: Whom should we believe, and on what basis?

There are other unanswered questions as well:

Did the Gafcon Primates and Global South Primates share the sacrament of Communion and Table fellowship with false teachers?
Why didn’t they reaffirm Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) as the official teaching on human sexuality, marriage, and leadership in the Church within the Anglican Communion?

Did they read the Communique at any time before it was issued? If not, why not—especially in view of past misleading Communiques they claimed they had not read?

If they read the Communique and assented to it, have the Gafcon and Global South Primates concluded that the “complexities that face us” by reason of false teaching are no longer a cause for broken or impaired communion or an impediment to “walking together”?

Where does this leave the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2008), the Gafcon Letter to the Churches (2018), and the Global South “Cairo Covenant” (2019)?

Given their “considerable discussion” on Anglican identity and their conclusion that it is rooted within the framework of relationship with Canterbury, does this signify that these Gafcon and Global South Primates are moving away from recognizing the very churches they authenticated as Anglican who are not in relationship with Canterbury—namely, the Anglican Church in North America, Brazil (IAB), and New Zealand?

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(Christian Today) Matt Kennedy–The Church of England is in trouble

In England, his name is Stephen Cottrell presently Bishop of Chelmsford soon to be Archbishop of York. In an article on his upcoming elevation, the Church Times reports,

“Bishop Cottrell has also warned that the Church’s stance on same-sex relationships means that it is ‘seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set’ and has suggested that prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships — ‘perhaps a eucharist’ — should be offered. In a diocesan-synod address in 2017, he warned of the ‘missiological damage that is done when that which is held to be morally normative and desirable by much of society, and by what seems to be a significant number of Anglican Christian people in this country, is deemed morally unacceptable by the Church…And, though I am proud to confirm that all of us, whatever our views on this matter, are united in our condemnation of homophobia, we must also acknowledge that it is of little comfort to young gay or lesbian members of our Church to know that while prejudice against them is abhorred, any committed faithful sexual expression of their love for another is forbidden. . . Our ambivalence and opposition to faithful and permanent same-sex relationships can legitimise homophobia in others.”

The Christian Institute expands on the partial quote above as follows, “I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.”

These are astounding words. That one so educated, soon to be so elevated, so highly respected could evince such ignorance so publicly without embarrassment is, well, I am not sure what to call it. On the one hand, he is, of course, worthy of censure. But on the other, that his words are published so widely and he is still embraced so warmly without any apparent sense that something is amiss, what does it mean? Is the indictment more damning to him or to the ecclesial prelates or to the Church of England as a whole?

Has the Bishop taken even a semester’s study in church history? Does he know that Christians have been called haters of mankind, cannibals, atheists even because from the first the Christian Church has refused to bow to the idols of the age? What would Bishop Cottrell say to the Ugandan martyrs who refused to let themselves be sexually corrupted by a homosexual ruler for the sake of Christ? Were these children missiologically obtuse? Ought they to have embraced the “normative and desirable morality” of the king and his court?

Men and women and children have been devoured by wild beasts, burned alive, beheaded, and crucified precisely because they refused to adopt the morality of the age and yet it is by the blood of these martyrs, not by the supine compromise of English clerics, that Christ builds his Church.

And we need not even look to the history of the Church. Has Bishop Cottrell read even a single Gospel? Does he know that Jesus was crucified? Was Jesus crucified because he was “seen as moral by the culture in which he was set”? Was he arrested and tried because he embraced what was “morally normative and desirable”? Not at all. Jesus scrutinized the traditions and laws of the day by the law of God and found them wanting. He refused to submit himself or his disciples to the sabbath regulations, the washings, the dietary restrictions imposed by men and not God. And his “community” hated him for it. He has a demon, they said. His miracles are empowered by Satan, they said. Jesus was not crucified because the people loved him and he affirmed all of their ways.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE)

Stephen Noll–Archbishop Sentamu on Interpreting the Bible–Moral Equivalence and Moral Equivocation

The Bible’s teaching on sexuality is not a matter of “six scattered verses”; rather, it is a golden cord beginning in Genesis – God’s creation of male and female in His image, in His ordaining holy matrimony in two sexes-one flesh of husband and wife, in His hedging in sex from temptations to pagan idolatry and fornication, in Jesus’ reaffirming the original aim of exclusive faithfulness of husband and wife, in Paul’s warning against all forms of “fornication” and likening the relations of husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church, and in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Oh, and by the way, all this teaching is ably summarized in the Preface to the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer.

But on the other hand, take the Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Oxford. Two months ago he wrote: “Does the Bible… Really Give Us a Clear Definition of Marriage?” I am not going to attempt a point by point refutation of Percy’s arguments, as Martin Davie and Ian Paul have already done so. Professor Percy’s odd method of moral equivalence involves setting up straw men and shooting at them. On the one hand, there are the “fundamentalists” for whom Scripture was faxed down from heaven. For them

“the bible is the pure word of God – every letter and syllable is ‘God breathed.” So there is no room for questions; knowledge replaces faith. It is utterly authoritative: to question the bible is tantamount to questioning God. So the bible here is more like an instruction manual than a mystery to be unpacked. It teaches plainly, and woe to those who dissent.

On the other hand, there are the enlightened:

On the question of same-sex marriage, we may need reminding of one thing. God did not send us a fax. Instead, God chose to speak through Jesus – the body language of God – to remind us that God is ultimate love, and that those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. Sex raises some interesting questions, for sure. But so far as God is concerned, love is always the answer.

So there you have it, the mediated word descending from the spires of Oxford: each marriage is unique, and love is always the answer. I recall another Oxford don who distinguished the different forms of love and wrote this about sex: “There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage with complete faithfulness to your partner, or abstinence’” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves and Mere Christianity).

Now Archbishop Sentamu does not endorse Professor Percy’s conclusion about same-sex marriage nor his reading of the Bible, but he does suggest that since Percy is baptized and reads the Bible, his view is morally equivalent to the plain and historic understanding of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Theology: Scripture

Canon Phil Ashey on a recent letter about the Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020–Hope Is More Than Wishful Thinking

But as I have written here and here there is very little evidence to justify these hopes:

  • The very definition of the “Communion of Anglican Churches” has been diminished by the very Instruments of Communion to a mere creature of history, sociology and secular values associated with alternative dispute resolution. The proposed Anglican Covenant died in 2012 when it was rejected by the mother Church of England. Therefore, biblically faithful bishops who choose to attend [the partial] Lambeth 2020 will have no common ground, and no “common faith,” to stand on with regard to the authority of the Holy Scriptures over the Church.
  • In their faithfulness, their voice will be treated (somewhat) respectfully by established authorities who do not share their convictions. But based on past experience at such meetings, the faithful bishops who attend [the partial] Lambeth will be shepherded by Anglican Communion Office “minders” to various huddles and gatherings apart from their fellow Biblically faithful bishops. In past conferences, their comments have been mysteriously omitted from official reports leaving no opportunity for dissent.
  • Biblically faithful bishops will also be shepherded to a “photo-op” with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops. If you are a Biblically faithful bishop present at [the partial] Lambeth 2020, your smiling presence in the conference photograph will be taken as your unconditional public approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s violation of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) by inviting those bishops in same-sex relationships who have been consecrated by The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.
  • In the end, faithful Bishops can expect the Archbishop of Canterbury and those organizing the [partial] 2020 Lambeth Conference to appeal to the secular values of dispute resolution—“good disagreement” and “indaba”—that will continue to result in decisions that promote both a gospel deficit and an ecclesial deficit among the Communion of Anglican Churches

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Stephen Noll–GAFCON and the recent Partial ACC Meeting: A Response to Andrew Atherstone

Although Dr. Atherstone devotes most of his report on ACC-17 to matters of church order, he does note that “our deep doctrinal disagreements as Anglicans rumbled along in the background,” because provinces “have changed their doctrine of marriage.” It would appear that he considers “disagreement” on marriage to be among the issues requiring “discipline, differentiation, and even separation.”

His discussion of the 3-year set of restrictions – a.k.a. “consequences” – imposed on the Episcopal Church in 2016 is curious. He notes that these restrictions have now “timed out,” that “the situation is farcical,” and that the “consequences” need more substance, but he refrains from framing the issue in terms of repentance. What makes the situation farcical indeed is that fact that Communion “Instruments” did not require TEC to change its teaching or practice, and now they are talking about moving on to the “healing phase.” Common sense parenting teaches that you do not send a child to a “time-out” without requiring on his return an apology and a promise not to do it again!

Dr. Atherstone apparently considers this failure of discipline a reason for differentiation, personally at least. Hence he declined each day to take Communion with TEC delegates at ACC-17 and suggests that this practice should be offered at Lambeth 2020 because “we are all part of the Anglican Communion but we are not all ‘in communion.’” While one can sympathize with his dilemma, his response is strangely individualistic. Did he commend his position to others at ACC-17? He argues that by allowing separate eucharistic gatherings at official Anglican meetings, “it becomes possible to meet together and discuss our differences and common concern, without pretext…and the pain of our disunity motivates us to renewed efforts toward unity.” As I have argued (see here and here), sitting at table with false teachers at a church council is just as problematic as sitting at the Lord’s Table (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:12). Certainly the early church councils saw it this way (yes, Arius attended Nicaea but was defrocked and exiled from there).

Giving formal recognition to false teachers at a church council, even if it is on the pretext of “listening,” serves to legitimate their position (some call this “open reception”). This is precisely how revisionists advanced their innovations within the Episcopal Church and took them on to the Communion level.

Dr. Atherstone seems strangely naïve about how the game is played. He contrasts the “informal” way the meeting in Hong Kong was conducted with the tightly controlled agenda and autocratic rule by the chair, the table groups gagged by long lectures, and the avoidance of sensitive subjects (“we don’t do doctrine”). But this contrast is not a bug in the program, as they say, but a feature. Welcome to indaba!

His own attempt to bring resolution to the divisions at ACC-17 is revealing. On the key resolution concerning membership in Anglican bodies, he thought his “Oxford” amendment – that LGBTQ advocates should be “welcomed” rather than “included” – would make peace, and he was surprised when the Africans “found their voices and stood one after another to denounce the resolution.” Why should this be a surprise? Meeting after meeting for twenty years, they have strongly defended Lambeth Resolution I.10 and its normative statement that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Scripture” and “cannot be advised.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Consultative Council, GAFCON

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A growing row over the invitations to the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

It is only in recent times that invitations to the Lambeth Conference have become a matter of controversy. Until the last full conference in 1998, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited all diocesan bishops, and latterly suffragan and assistant bishops, together with their spouses to a conference in Canterbury.

It was never even thought that the Archbishop had the right to discriminate among bishops as to who had the right beliefs or pattern of Christian living. The assumption was that it was for each separate province of the Anglican Communion to appoint or elect bishops. The Archbishop had the power to invite but not to exclude individual bishops.

Of course, there have always been difficulties. During the 1980s and 1990s, when women were first appointed to the priesthood and episcopacy, there were some provinces that openly questioned whether they should attend Lambeth Conferences. Episcopacy is a universal ministry and the Anglican Communion’s unity depends on having a commonly accepted standard for ministry.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury issued invitations to all bishops, including women bishops. And the Anglican Communion managed to come together in spite of a degree of ‘impaired communion’ among the provinces and bishops.

The issue of sexuality proved much more intractable and controversial. And the reality is that for most evangelical Anglicans in particular, the issue of ordination of women was a secondary matter on which Christians could legitimately disagree. In contrast evangelicals view sexuality, and departing from God’s ordained order of marriage between a man and a woman, as a primary issue. This is because they argue that to agree to homosexual marriage is to defy the clear teaching of the Bible.

The ordination of a practising gay bishop in 2003 was described by a statement of an emergency Primates’ Meeting as a ‘tear in the fabric of the communion’. And so it proved to be. At no meeting since 2003 has there been full representation of bishops across the communion. And the Windsor Commission, led by Bishop Tom Wright, looked into the crisis and concluded that liberal provinces, such as the US and Canada, which had departed from Communion teaching on sexuality, would be disciplined by having ‘membership’ of the Communion and representation in its bodies limited.

This should have led to the exclusion of North American provinces from the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Instead, Archbishop Rowan Williams decided to rehabilitate the provinces which were broken with the Communion and invited their bishops. And then he broke with the practice of inviting all bishops and decided to exclude the gay bishop – Gene Robinson. This act of petty discrimination could easily have been avoided had he stuck to the Windsor principles and excluded all the Bishops of the US or Canada. Or he could have limited their role to that of observers.

As a result, at least one third of Anglican bishops refused to attend the Lambeth Conference, including all of the bishops from three of the most populous provinces: Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

Archbishop Welby has stuck to the principle that it is not in his power to exclude individual bishops. As a result of this two practising homosexual bishops will be in attendance at the 2020 Lambeth Conference. But he has discriminated against their same-sex spouses.

This act of discrimination could land him into further trouble. It is all very well discriminating against a bishop, who chose that role for all it entailed, but to discriminate against their spouse is another matter. Modern culture will find it hard to forgive or forget such ‘cruelty’.

Interestingly enough at last week’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong, Archbishop Welby said that the Council was barred by English law from debating the invitations because ACC was governed by charity law and doctrine was not mentioned in its purpose. This is a clumsy and convoluted way to avoid debate of a difficult issue. And it didn’t work. Rancour over the decision spilled over into the final working session of the conference and Archbishop Welby stepped in and issued an apology.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes,” he said. With this somewhat ambiguous apology came a proposal to renew the Anglican Communion’s attempts to listen to the experiences of homosexual people (in accordance with the famous Lambeth Resolution 1.10).

But Archbishop Welby’s attempts to bring Anglican Bishops together at the next Lambeth Conference by discriminating against individuals will fail like those of Archbishop Williams in 2008. The Church of Nigeria has already said that it will not send bishops to the conference. And the Global south movement, ‘Gafcon’ is now organising a separate meeting in Rwanda in June 2020 for bishops who don’t attend Lambeth.

It is now time to stop pretending that the Anglican Communion can go back to pitching itself as a worldwide body of Christians. It is now a series of networks united by a common history. Our defining characteristics of a universal ministry and common worship are long gone, and even those so-called ‘instruments’ of communion are disputed and threadbare.

–This column appears in the Church of England Newspaper, May 10, 2019 edition on page 11; subscriptions are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(TLC Covenant) George Sumner–Anglicanism Defined: Three Crises

The place to begin is with ancient Christianity in Great Britain. There is evidence it goes as far back at the second century. It contained Celtic and Roman strains. It was an integral part of Western Christendom. It is of course also a history of conflict and fractiousness — no less a figure than Wycliffe reminds us of this. But it is a continuous history nonetheless. Part of Anglican identity is looking back and remembering this fact, for example among the early Anglo-Catholics of the 19th century. Let us relate this fact, now offered as a claim, to the mark of the Church of oneness in the Creeds.

At this point I want to introduce the epistemological crisis, a concept from the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. It depends on the prior notion of a tradition, a stream of thought and practice that coheres around a shared narrative, pointed toward a shared telos and enacted by shared virtues. The idea is not necessarily religious, but works for a religious community too. Within the boundaries formed by these features a tradition is a continuing argument. Occasionally, however, a tradition runs into a major challenge to its very coherence, indeed to its existence, from without. Its truths are called into question in a basic way, and the tradition summons its collective resources to offer an answer. Christianity was such a challenge for ancient imperial pagan culture, and the latter was not up to the task.

The ancient church in the British Isles encountered three epistemological, spiritual, political, and social crises, and in response to each it had to give a continuous answer. The first was of course the Reformation, and the major artifact of the era for us as Anglicans is the Book of Common Prayer. In fact the most concise and compelling answer to the question What is an Anglican? is a prayer book Christian. Through it, British Christians heard and absorbed Reformation doctrine in a devotional mode.

In other words, using the prayer book in an ancient church is a factual, pragmatic way to say that we work out our identity between Protestant and Catholic. And of course the ensuing centuries, after the bloodletting of Henry, Mary, and Elizabeth in the 16th and Charles and the Puritans in the 17th, would reach back to retrieve or reject, to reconstrue and redefine: the great Anglo-Catholic and evangelical revivals of the 19th century are great examples. But one can still see the inheritance of this conflict amid agreement in Western Christianity in the styles of various parishes, however they recall the implications of their liturgical choices.

High and old may be the more venerable designators for Anglican churches, but the more prominent, and more conflictual, is what they make over the spiritual-epistemological crisis, since the 17th and 18th centuries, that is modernism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History, Ecclesiology, Philosophy

Andrew Goddard–Ethics and policy for invitations to the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

As a result of these actions not apparently having consequences in relation to Lambeth invitations, although over 500 bishops and nearly 400 spouses have accepted invitations, it seems likely that at least 200 bishops will decline to attend on principle while some attending may make clear their impaired or broken communion.

In relation to spouses, in a break with past practice they are being invited not to an overlapping Spouses’ Conference but to a single joint conference. It appears, however, that they will be excluded from certain parts of that conference and those spouses who are legally married to a bishop of the same sex are wholly excluded.

In relation to ecumenical observers, many (perhaps even most) Communion bishops invited to the Conference are formally in fuller communion with some of the churches in this category than they are with a number of the other Communion churches and bishops (while other Communion bishops are not in communion and in long-running legal battles with them over church property). It is unclear how their role at the Conference will be different from that of Communion bishops and their spouses.

If that were not confusing enough, when it comes to any decision-making at the Conference (about which there are at present no public details) one assumes that the spouses and ecumenical observers will not participate. However, neither will all Communion bishops unless there is a reversal of the decision of the Primates in 2016 and 2017. And so there is a further, perhaps even more contentious, decision about differences among invitations that needs to be drawn and defended at some point.

The former bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, wrote that the Communion “resembles a spilled bowl of spaghetti” and messiness will inevitably mark Lambeth 2020. There are, however, ways of thinking about, describing, and responding to our current mess (I think, for example, of The way of Anglican communion: Walking together before God drawing on Lambeth 1920) which offer a better path for the Lambeth Conference than that currently on offer in occasional official statements.

What we urgently need is the construction and articulation of a coherent and compelling vision that has theological and ecclesiological integrity, is honest about the painful lived reality of our common life, and is in continuity with the responses developed in recent decades and what the Communion’s General Secretary has recently summed up as “the principle of walking together at a distance as a means of recognising and addressing difference of understanding and practice across the Communion”. Once we have such a vision we can perhaps develop conviction policies on specifics and even find a way towards a “win-win” situation which has a greater possibility of reaching the Archbishop’s goal of “getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible”.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Instruments of Unity, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture