Category : Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

David Ould–Archbp Justin Welby’s Compromised Leadership on Marriage at the Nairobi Press Conference

Highlights include:

1:27 Asked a question about the fallout surrounding the Lambeth Conference, Welby asserts “There has always been … controversy around the Lambeth Conference. It’s why we meet. Because when we meet together as opposed to when we not meet, not communicate, we’re able to listen to each other. And so we’ll see what happens at the Lambeth Conference when we get there”

2:19 “We just have to find a way of [preaching the gospel around the world] that respects each other’s difference and to love and show concern for each other.

3:11 On the question of human sexuality (driven by the fact that the Kenyan courts had just reiterated the definition of marriage as heterosexual): “The Bible is clear, and I’ve said on numerous occasions in public, that my own view of Christian marriage is the traditional view … that has always been the view of Christian marriage but I continue to work with – and in our changing culture in England – to listen very carefully to and to seek to be full of love for those who disagree with me. “

5:19 As Sapit responds to the same question we see Welby nodding in agreement, particularly as Sapit says “… our constitution state [sic.] very clearly that marriage is between a male and a female and that is the teaching of the church. That is what the Archbishop of Canterbury is referring to as the traditional view of Christian marriage; it is between a male and a female for life.”

Read it all and listen to all of the video content.

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

(LC) Will debate over embracing a New Sexual Ethic Affect Episcopal-Methodist Communion?

Nearly a century of ecumenical dialogue between Episcopalians and Methodists is approaching a crossroad. In May, United Methodist bishops cleared the way for a 2020 General Conference vote on a full communion agreement that would allow the two churches to share clergy. If the Methodists approve the proposal, the Episcopal Church could take it up at General Convention in 2021.

But the proposal faces new obstacles in the wake of the Methodists’ bitterly contested Special Conference in St. Louis in late February. At that meeting, the UMC reaffirmed its stance barring “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from ordained ministry and toughened sanctions for clergy who officiate at same-sex weddings.

Some now worry full communion could become a casualty of tense, politically charged times in churches at risk of breaking apart. But others say it is time to keep building on ecumenical momentum and not let sexuality debates interfere with a larger witness.

“There will have to be a great educational plan for people to understand it and to not let the one discussion derail the other discussion,” said Bishop Gregory Palmer, cochair of the Episcopal Church–United Methodist Dialogue Committee, which moved full communion forward at an April meeting in Austin.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Martin Davie–A response to Meg Warner ‘Does the Bible really say … that sex outside marriage is wrong?

What we have seen is that Dr Warner’s argument is misleading in several respects.

  • It is not the case that Deuteronomy 22:13-29 is the foundation for the biblical rejection of sex outside marriage:
  • It is not the case that what is said in depends on the idea that a woman ids the property of her father or her husband;
  • It is not the case that these verses simply echo the ideas of the surrounding culture;
  • It is not the case that Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 are about a woman being married off to someone who has sexually assaulted her.

In addition Dr Warner has failed to acknowledge the way in which the actual foundation for biblical thinking about sexual ethics is the creation narrative in Geneses 1 and 2 and what St Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 about marriage being a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his Church.

For all these reasons her article does not make out a persuasive case for the Church to reconsider its traditional view that faithful Christian discipleship requires sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual fidelity within it.

This does not mean that Christians today need to adopt the specific laws laid down in Deuteronomy 22. As Article VI says, is it not the case that the ‘civil precepts’ contained in the Old Testament ‘ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth.’ What it does means, as Oliver O’Donovan writes, is that as Christians we need to learn to see within this law (as within the Old Testament law as a whole) ‘a revelation of created order and the good to which all men are called, a ‘moral law’ by which every human being is claimed and which belongs fundamentally to men’s welfare.’

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(img: Gilead Books)

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(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)

Phil Ashey–GAFCON Gathers Bishops In June 2020 To Guard And Proclaim The Faith

…there is one development I wish to comment on: the announcement of a GAFCON Bishops Conference June 8-14, 2020 in Kigali Rwanda (prior to the July 2020 Lambeth Conference).

Of the Lambeth 2020 Conference of Bishops, the GAFCON Primates wrote:

“We were reminded of the words of Jeremiah 6:14, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Last year in Jerusalem our delegates urged us not to attend Lambeth 2020 if godly order in the Communion had not been restored. They respectfully called upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to effect the necessary changes that fell within his power and responsibility.

We have not yet received a response from the Archbishop of Canterbury. We note that, as it currently stands, the conference is to include provinces who continue to violate Lambeth Resolution I.10 thereby putting the conference itself in violation of its own resolution: failing to uphold faithfulness in marriage and legitimising practices incompatible with Scripture. This incoherence further tears the fabric of the Anglican Communion and undermines the foundations for reconciliation.”

Let’s not forget the context. The 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops passed Resolution I.10 upholding faithfulness in marriage between one man and one woman for life, abstinence in all other cases, and rejected as incompatible with the Bible homosexual “practice,” the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions and the ordination to Holy Orders of those in same-gender unions. This Resolution was passed by a vote of the overwhelming majority of bishops of the Anglican Communion (526-70).

Ten years later at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury decided to suspend the practice of Anglican bishops declaring the official teaching of the Church through resolutions. For the first time, the Lambeth Conference engaged in small group Indaba discussions that resolved nothing. The 2002 institution of rites for the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of New Westminster (Canada) and the 2003 consecration of a Bishop in a same gender union in New Hampshire USA (TEC), in defiance of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) were allowed to stand unchallenged by the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Over 300 bishops….[declined to compromise the gospel and declined the invitation to attend] in protest of that advance decision by Canterbury, published the Jerusalem Declaration and formed Gafcon instead.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity, Lambeth 2008, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Guardian Interview with activist the Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain

“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”

Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.

“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”

The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.

Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

The TEC Communion Partners recently released Communiqué

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

(David Ould) GAFCON affirms it won’t attend or observe The Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

The GAFCON Primates consulted on the matter during their meeting this past week in Sydney and have written in response to Welby. While the contents of that letter have not been made public, I understand that they have made it very clear that the presence of those who participate in the consecration as bishops of actively partnered homosexuals, let alone the presence of those specific bishops, is in clear contravention of Resolution 1.10 Lambeth 98 and repeated calls for discipline from the Primates.

Beach also noted that Welby has sought to persuade conservatives to attend Lambeth by claiming that Resolution 1.10 will be reopened for debate and that if they do not attend, they may lose the vote. He went on to observe that continuous attendance at other meetings had simply failed to achieve anything and that “we’ve found that our voice is louder when we don’t attend certain events so we’re not manipulated from within them”.

Speaking to the matter a little later in the meeting, Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney pointed out that it was “incongruous” to not invite the spouses of those gay bishops when the bishops themselves were the issue. On the question of whether they would attend Lambeth he said “we’re going to remain firm”.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

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”.

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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

([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary

The American, Canadian and Scottish churches in the Anglican communion have backed same-sex marriage. Most Anglican churches, including from countries such as Uganda, remain firmly opposed.

Every Anglican bishop has been invited and they can all invite their spouses, with the exception of married gay bishops. It has prompted criticism from MPs, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the American bishop who preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the University of Kent, the conference host.

Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Anglican Bishop Of Newcastle Proposes “Newcastle Way” On Marriage Question

At Bishop Peter’s own invitation we have asked him the following question:

You write that “the Bishop together with the Synod and Diocesan Council is responsible for the good order and government of this Diocese” and “I have some confidence that together we might be able to find a ‘Newcastle Way’ which will incorporate living with strong difference in an open and Godly way”,

1. Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?

and

2. Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions it will bring?

Bishop Peter’s reply is as follows:

Q: Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?
A: The legal situation in the Australian Church around liturgy and order is not clear. The Archbishop and Diocese of Sydney have set a significant precedent for unilateral action by authorising liturgies additional to the Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia. Those liturgies not being authorised by the General Synod. They have also set significant precedent with the Archbishop unilaterally authorising Diaconal Administration of the Holy Communion. The latter not being authorised by the General Synod.
In this church, a resolution about doctrine by the General Synod is not determinative. Ultimately if doctrine is contested, the disagreement must be resolved by the Appellate Tribunal. That was the situation with the marriage of persons who have been previously married while their former spouse is still alive, the ordination of women and the order of the administration of the Holy Communion.
There were no proposals before the Newcastle Synod in 2018 of this kind. The Synod has shown a cautious but genuine desire to listen very attentively in the spirit of Lambeth 1:10.

Q: Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions (“strong difference”) it will bring?
A: In the Province of New South Wales the Bishop is not a member of the Synod meaning that a motion is an expression of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity as assembled at that time. The Bishop has no role in assenting to motions and motions do not bind the Bishop, unless moved in accordance with an Ordinance that has established such power.
In relation to legislation, the question significantly preempts any conversation or deliberation in which the Synod may engage. The Synod has heard my desire that the Diocese of Newcastle will be an expression of comprehensive Anglicanism. The next step for the Synod will include exploring how Christians who have theological differences live together. The work of the General Synod Doctrine Commission and the Diocesan Faith and Order Commission will be important parts of ensuring that the Synod and the Diocese continues to give prayerful, biblical and theological reflection to the life of the Diocese.
In relation to legislation, the role of the Diocesan Bishop is to listen to the Synod, the National Church and the Anglican Communion in exercising his or her mind around assent.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

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

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A decision that could torpedo the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

The reverberations of the decision to discriminate against same sex spouses by not allowing them to attend next year’s Lambeth Conference could threaten whether or not the conference can go ahead.

Readers will know that my view is that the Episcopal Church should not have been invited at all because it has broken the fabric of the communion by diverging on scripture, ethics and canonical marriage from the rest of the Communion. It has effectively put itself outside the communion and, in line with the Windsor Report, should play no part in the councils of the Communion.

At the 2008 conference, Rowan Williams departed from the previous practice of inviting all bishops of each province and instead discriminated against one particular [noncelibate] gay bishop by not inviting him. This time round, Justin Welby invited the gay and lesbian bishops but not their spouses. This is an even more invidious example of discrimination. And it does not work. There will still be some provinces of the Anglican Communion that do not attend.And that is because there is a theological problem- not a personal problem with one or two bishops and their partners.

And now questions are being asked in Parliament about this discrimination. The University of Kent is coming under fire from its students for hosting the Lambeth Conference when homosexual couples are subjected to such individual acts of discrimination.

Don’t expect this row to die away. I would be surprised if the Lambeth Conference could go ahead using that venue, unless decisive steps are taken to reverse recent decisions.

–This column appears in the Church of England Newspaper, march 29, 2019, edition, page 11, subscriptions are encouraged

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

(Church Times) University of Kent invites excluded same-sex spouses for the Partial 2020 Lambeth Conference to stay

On Wednesday, the Area Bishop of York-Scarborough, the Rt Revd Kevin Robertson, a suffragan in the diocese of Toronto, welcomed the statement.

“I am particularly grateful for the students and members of the University Council, who recognise that this act of exclusion is contrary to their own fundamental values of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “I applaud their willingness to speak up about what happens on their campus, and their desire to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury personally about this matter. It is fascinating to see a secular university challenge the Church about its ethics.”

He and his husband, Mohan were also “exceedingly grateful” for the invitation to stay on the University campus. “The fact that the University of Kent will make room for both of us, but the Lambeth Conference organisers will not, saddens us.

“Our hope is that the organisers of the Conference will respond positively to the many voices within Church and society who are calling for the decision to be reversed. The differences within the Anglican Communion will only be addressed by bringing people together for conversation and the building of bridges. Exclusion is not the answer.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Canadian Anglican bishops issue statement on partial Lambeth Conference called for 2020

As is publicly known, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has invited all active bishops in the Anglican Communion to attend the Lambeth Conference in the summer of 2020. We are pleased that all active bishops have been invited to participate fully in Lambeth 2020, a reality that was not made possible at Lambeth 2008, when Bishop Gene Robinson was not invited.

It has been a long tradition for bishops’ spouses to be invited to attend Lambeth as well. However, this bidding has not been extended to same-gender spouses, including Bishop Kevin Robertson’s spouse, Mr. Mohan Sharma. This act of exclusion is troubling to us. While we recognize that the issues involved in a decision of this nature are many-faceted, we wish to express our dismay and sadness at the pain that this causes all of us within the College of Bishops, but in particular Bishop Kevin and Mohan as our friends and co-labourers in the gospel. St. Paul expressed it well in 1 Corinthians 12:26, If one member suffers, all suffer together with it…

We also acknowledge that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision not only touches Bishop Kevin and Mohan directly, but also sends ripples of sorrow, both locally and globally, especially within the LGBTQ community. Our diocese is strengthened, inspired and deepened by the faith and witness of our LGBTQ clergy and laity. As St. Paul continues in verse 26, …if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.

The Diocese of Toronto is richly diverse in culture and language, seeking to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. In many ways our diocese is the Anglican Communion in microcosm, and we strive, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to make room for a breadth of theological understandings, including on the nature of Christian marriage. And while we sometimes stumble, and do not always agree with each other, we pledge to continue to pray together, to serve the world together, and to seek always to walk together, only by the abundant grace of God.

The National House of Bishops will be gathering for the annual spring meeting this coming week. We anticipate that this matter will occupy some time on our agenda. And while we do not know the mind of the House, we think it is important to share how we as a College have been wrestling with this issue. First, we are united and stand in solidarity as sister and brother bishops in care and love for Bishop Kevin and Mohan. Second, all of the Toronto bishops will be accepting the invitation to be present at Lambeth.

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

Terry Mattingly–After wars over Bible, marriage and sex: is Union possible for Reappraising Episcopalians and Methodists?

So far, leaders on the United Methodist left haven’t announced plans to leave. But that doesn’t mean that Episcopal clergy and other liberal Protestant leaders shouldn’t be prepared to help United Methodists who come their way, said the Rev. David Simmons of St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, Wis., a leader in several regional and national ecumenical efforts.

“We have to start with the fact that lots of United Methodists are really hurting,” he said, in a telephone interview. “What we should be doing is providing a safe harbor. Our primary motivation shouldn’t be to grab members from other churches. … If we do that then we’re not being a safe harbor. We can’t go around saying, ‘United Methodists hare having trouble, so let’s recruit them.’ ”

Thus, Simmons recently posted an online essay entitled, “How to Deal With Methodists at your Red Church Doors” – referring to the front doors at most Episcopal parishes. His subtitle was even more blunt: “Don’t be a Jerk.” His suggestions to Episcopal leaders included:

* Remember that Methodists have their own traditions and history. It’s wrong to hand them a Book of Common Prayer and try to instantly “make them Episcopalians. … ANY language about ‘Coming Home’ or ‘Returning to the Mother Church’ is harmful, insensitive and historically inaccurate, since American Methodism and the Episcopal Church are both technically equal children of the Church of England.”

* “Lay off the smugness!” Episcopalians, for example, should not brag about “how much further ahead we are” on LGBTQ issues, noted Simmons. Some United Methodist congregations have “been way ahead of us in this in spite of the discipline of the UMC. … Don’t attempt to score cheap points….”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

The University of Kent issues a statement on the Partial Lambeth Conference to be held there in 2020

The University has become aware that proposals relating to the Lambeth Conference 2020, which is due to be held at the University, raises serious issues at the heart of these values.

The Lambeth Conference is, of course, a remarkable event and has been held at the University since 1978. When the organisers of the Lambeth Conference 2020 came to the University seeking to work with us again, we were happy to engage. Bringing this gathering of spiritual leaders, from across the globe, to meet, celebrate, debate, learn and reflect, supports our vision of the kind of welcoming, inclusive, civic university we stand for and formal agreement relating to the use of University facilities was reached in August 2018.

It subsequently came to the University’s attention that, on 15 February 2019, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion made a public announcement on the Anglican Communion News Service website ‘that it would be inappropriate for same sex spouses to be invited to the conference’.

The University was concerned by this announcement, as it does not accord with our values, and determined it would seek further information and discuss the issue at its next meeting of University Council, the University’s governing body. The University has since received a large number of concerns raised by staff, students, and members of the public, about hosting the conference. While we currently understand that the Lambeth Conference may be permitted by law to rely on exemption under the Equality Act 2010 for religious organisations, we also believe there are significant ethical concerns raised. These were discussed at the meeting of University Council on 22 March 2019.

Council members were clear that exclusion of same sex spouses, on grounds of orientation, would be contrary to the values of the University. Council determined that the University shall ensure that accommodation will be available on campus for those spouses affected by this decision who wish to be in Canterbury with their partners during the conference period. The University welcomes them and affirms its belief in, and commitment to, diversity and inclusivity.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Stephen Noll on the Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 and the Controversy about Same-Sex Spouses–“Pay Ateention To Power”: Anglican Hypocrisy, Part Two

Does this verbal feinting threaten the future of Lambeth 2020? Of course not. The Episcopal Church does not mean to boycott the Lambeth Conference any more than Justin Welby means to enforce Lambeth Resolution I.10. The belly button doesn’t move.

Here is my prediction. Canterbury will not revoke the ban on the same-sex spouses, even while expressing deep sympathy for their plight. The bishops of the Episcopal Church and their celebrity Presiding Bishop will all show up in force. The disaffected spouses will come to Canterbury and will become the focus of much media buzz. And here I’m not sure – but I do not see how anyone can prevent the spouses from occupying the dormitories at the University of Kent, which is a weird labyrinth of rooms to begin with, like something out of The Name of the Rose.

“Pay attention to power,” they say. “Follow the belly button,” my coach said. What this has to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I don’t know. Well actually, I do. Jesus said:

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Read it all.

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

TEC House of Deputies President Gay Jennings responds to the recent news about the spouses in same-sex marriages not being invited to Lambeth 2020

So, the situation in which we find ourselves is peculiar. The Archbishop of Canterbury is citing a resolution that does not set policy for the Anglican Communion as a reason to exclude same-sex spouses from Lambeth. That same resolution defines marriage as a “lifelong union.” However, the opposite-sex spouses of bishops who have been divorced and remarried have been invited to Lambeth. We are left to conclude that excluding same-sex spouses is a selective decision—perhaps even an arbitrary one.

Now, thanks to the intrepid reporting of Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service, we know that precisely two spouses are currently excluded from Lambeth. One is the wife of Bishop Mary Glasspool of the Diocese of New York, and the other is the husband of Bishop Kevin Robertson of the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. A third, the husband of Bishop-elect Thomas Brown of Maine—also known, for a few more months, as Deputy Brown—will be excluded assuming that the consent process to that election is successful.

In short, the universe of people directly affected by this situation is small. Very small. The Archbishop of Canterbury had already written to Bishop Glasspool and her wife and spoken directly to Bishop Robertson. And yet, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon wrote a blog post about it titled “The global excitement about the Lambeth Conference.” We are left to ponder why it was important for the Anglican Communion Office to make this situation very, very public nearly 18 months in advance.

One other thing: When Bishop Robertson and his husband were married late last year, after nine years together, we learned from media reports that they are the parents of two little children. I cannot overlook the fact that the Anglican Communion Office has created a public situation in which two children are learning that the hierarchy of the church considers their family to be a source of shame and worthy of exclusion. That makes me very angry. When little children are collateral damage, that is not the way of love.

If your internet spigot is similar to mine, and I imagine that it is, you’ve seen that there are a variety of opinions about what bishops and their spouses should do in response to this news. I leave that to the discernment of the bishops and their spouses. But there is the larger issue of how the rest of the Episcopal Church responds.

On Facebook, Deputy Winnie Varghese wrote, “I told an archbishop once that recent Lambeth conferences have done irreparable harm to the witness of The Episcopal Church to the most vulnerable in our society, poor, LGBTQI people of color, because if we show on the international stage that we won’t love our own people and our own leaders and their families, how could we possibly love them/us. … If you can’t invite everyone on equal terms, cancel. You’re not ready.”

I commend her entire post to you, and I agree with it. If we are not yet able to hold a global meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses to which everyone is invited, then I think we should not be holding global meetings of Anglican bishops and spouses.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Stuff) New Zealand Anglican group who are unwilling to compromise Christian sexual standards for leaders is growing

Since the vote to allow same-sex blessings last year, three Christchurch parishes have split from the Anglican church – St Stephens in Shirley, St John in Latimer Square and Christchurch South. About 80 per cent of worshippers in Woolston have also left to form a new church. Vicars have resigned in Avonhead, Papanui and Rakaia, taking some worshippers with them.

Last year, St Matthew’s church in Dunedin left the Anglican church, with vicar Stu Crosson writing in a parish newsletter that same-sex ceremonies were blessing “something that God calls an abomination”.

Rangiora vicar Andrew Allan-Johns declined to comment, but confirmed he had resigned and started a new church.

The worshippers, priests and parishes that have left the Anglican diocese intend to form a new church.

St Stephens minister Jay Behan said West Hamilton Church, which left the Anglican church in 2014 over same-sex blessings, will join the new church. He said the new church would hold its first synod in May to agree on a new name, constitution and bishop.

The first same-sex blessing in Canterbury gave Behan a “sadness”, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Lynas on what will be discussed this week at the Church of England General Synod

Officially, the chief focus of the week is evangelism. But, as ever, there are other, unofficial currents flowing through the week, and so the other prominent thread will be human sexuality – both the work under the title ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ (long-term, official) and the ongoing rows about liturgy to be used with people who have undergone a gender change (current campaigning, unofficial).

We’ll get to the transgender row in a minute. But first of all, note the time being given to evangelism-related debates this week:

  1. On Wednesday, three contributions from Anglican leaders from elsewhere – North India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.
  2. Thursday is an evangelism-free day. But on Friday we have three major items – Evangelism and Discipleship, evangelism on estates, and the Growing Faith debate on ministry among children and young people.
  3. On Friday we return to the subject with a Private Members Motion from Church Army’s Mark Russell about encouraging youth evangelism.

Read it all (and follow the links). Also, there is a good link to the General Synod papers there. As ever, the main General Synod page is there.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(ENS) Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

([London] Sunday Times) Bishops in same-sex marriages told: don’t bring your spouse to the upcoming Lambeth conference

‘Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in 2014 became the first Church of England priest to marry his same-sex partner, said: “They will be no doubt be inviting all sorts of spouses of bishops who have been married before or remarried once, twice or several times, so it is the usual hypocrisy from the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

“There is no sense to it. The basic problem is they don’t understand hospitality. The same-sex partners should be invited. If they don’t wish to come, they don’t have to come. But this is grossly inhospitable. It is just rude and bad. It is not complicated.”

Issues of gender and sexuality are convulsing the Church of England. More than 3,000 clergy and laity have signed a petition urging it to reconsider proposals to allow transgender baptismal ceremonies and it is working on a teaching document on human sexuality’

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(ACNS) Josiah Idowu-Fearon clarifies an aspect of the Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.

The Design Group, which comprises members from all of the regions of the Communion, is continuing its work on the programme under the wise chairmanship of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. In his video he has spoken of creating a “beautiful rhythm” of gathering together to pray, worship, walk and talk, wrestle with issues, break bread and reflect. He also makes an important point about difference. The Communion has always had what he calls “push and pull” on issues and this should not be a distraction – it is something to be celebrated. The Conference is not a meeting of like-minded people; it is space in which we can gather to express difference. And so everyone who is invited should come.

The Design Group’s task is not easy: there are so many issues competing for space in the programme. A number of important subjects will be discussed including mission and evangelism; reconciliation; economic justice. Human sexuality will also be one of them.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Global South Churches & Primates, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Christian Today) Split grows over same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church in New Zealand

The Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACNZP) passed a resolution last year stating that although there was no change to its teaching on the nature of marriage ‘as between a man and a woman’, vicars could request permission from their bishops to hold a ‘non-formulary service’ to bless a same-sex relationship.

That move has disappointed some vicars who are choosing to break away and start new churches instead of remain in a Church that they feel has strayed from the Bible.

The latest vicar to go is Andrew Allen-Johns, who stepped down from AnglicanLife Rangiora in Christchurch to lead a completely new church outside of the ACNZP.

Anchor Charismatic Anglican Church, of which he is senior pastor, has just started holding services this month. His new church is getting off the ground just as the first same-sex blessings in Canterbury – the region in which Christchurch sits – are starting to take place.

In May 2019, the church plans to apply for affiliation with the Extra Provincial Diocese which is being formed by those who have left the Anglican denomination over the issue of same-sex blessings. Under the Extra Provincial Diocese, the churches will be faithfully Anglican and yet distinct from the Province.

In a letter to his former parish, Allen-Johns said his vision for Anchor was for a ‘new church designed to be millennial-friendly, more intently focussed on evangelism and making disciples’.

‘I now view the disruption this church is going through over same-sex relationships as a major opportunity to strengthen the church for its mission in the next few decades,’ he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Will Jones Responds to Bishop Andy John–Should we extend the boundaries of ‘gospel freedom’ in sexuality?

All in all then, we see that Bishop Andy’s argument, while initially plausible perhaps, falls apart on closer examination. On none of the issues he mentions has the church changed its teaching by setting aside the plain meaning of scripture in favour of ‘other sources of authority’. This means the pattern he is wishing to follow is not there, and neither is it endorsed by scripture or church practice. The inclusion of the Gentiles is not a model for the affirmation of conduct that scripture prohibits, and there is nothing in the New Testament or Christian history to suggest it should be. Scripture does not mandate us to go beyond scripture, and any move in that direction must be regarded as a move away from Christian orthodoxy.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture, Wales

(TLC Covenant) Ephraim Radner–Cleaning Up The Playing Field: Six Resolutions For Lambeth

1. This Conference reaffirms the 1998 Resolution I.10.

There is no need at this conference to revisit the rationales and counter-arguments about this resolution. It has been reaffirmed several times in other Communion contexts, and in the past 20 years there have been no significant new pieces of information — scriptural, dogmatic, sociological, or medical — that have altered the shape of the theological and pastoral realities surrounding this debate. And the debate has raged unabated, so that it requires no renewed engagement. Let the conference decide.

2. Those bishops and churches who contradict or contravene this affirmation (I.10), or who punish others on the basis of this affirmation, stand outside the boundaries of Anglican teaching and witness as this Conference understands it.

This resolution is aimed solely at definition, for the sake of Anglicans and for the sake of others — Christians and non-Christians — who seek clarity about what the conference means with regard to its identity by making its affirmation regarding I.10. No penalties are proposed; no systems of adjudication are offered.

3. We request that other Communion Instruments of Unity pursue their work on the basis of this teaching and witness.

This resolution marks a simple request for Communion coherence on the matters taken up in I.10. The conference cannot impose its corporate views on other functioning councils or leaders of the Communion (though many will have participated in the conference). But by making it clear that the “understanding of this conference” is one ordered to the unity of Anglican teaching and witness, it lays out some of the parameters according to which any future rethinking of the Communion’s deliberative structures can be measured.

4. We recognize the missionary and pastoral integrity of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and its related member churches; and we urge serious deliberation, locally and at the international level, over how these churches can be integrated fully into the life of the Communion.

Read it all.

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

Martin Davie responds to the Bishop of Bangor [Andy John] on same-sex relationships

For the reasons given above the argument presented by the Bishop of Bangor in his letter is not convincing. He simply does not make out a convincing case for changing the Church’s teaching and practice.

Where he is right, however, is in saying that many people with same-sex attraction experience the Church as a hostile place. However, the proper way to address this is not to change the Church’s teaching.

As the Ed Shaw, himself same-sex attracted, argues in his important book The Plausibility Problem,[3] the problem lies not with the Church holding that sex should only take place within heterosexual marriage, but with the way in which people within the Church collude with the culture in suggesting that you can’t be happy without sex, value marriage and family life above singleness, and wrongly identify godliness with heterosexuality.

What the Church needs to do, he argues, is recapture the importance of celibacy and singleness and provide a place where everyone is valued, loved and supported regardless of their sexual attraction. That is what is needed, not same-sex marriage.

Read it all.

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

(CA) 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, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(John Stevens) Same-Sex Relationships: Sorry Bishop Bayes, But The Meaning Of Holiness Does Not Change From Generation To Generation

Bishop Bayes argument from the comparison with divorce somewhat ironically falls apart when it is remembered that Jesus explicitly stated that homosexuality was a ground for divorce (Matthew 19v9 – using the work porneia for “sexual immorality” which includes homosexual acts as well as heterosexual acts outside of marriage). This verse therefore affirms both that divorce is holy and permissible in some circumstances, and that homosexuality is unholy and a ground for divorce.

When it comes to homosexuality the Biblical message is entirely different. Whereas divorce is permitted in both Old and New Testament, and by Jesus and by Paul, there is not a single text in the entire cannon of Scripture that would suggest that same-sex sexual relationships are pure, holy and pleasing to God, In fact the exact opposite is the case throughout. Homosexual acts are forbidden in language which negatively contrasts them with the purity of holiness, and sex is to be rightly enjoyed solely in the context of heterosexual covenant marriage. This is true in both Old and New Testaments. It is a position taught not just by Paul but also by Jesus, who upheld the Old testament teaching about sex and marriage and condemned “sexual immorality” using language that in the cultural context clearly included homosexuality.

There can be no viable case made that the Scriptures indicates any change in God’s attitude towards homosexual acts, and not even the hint of a “redemptive trajectory” in this direction. He is a holy God and remains implacably opposed to all sexual acts that fall short of his holy standard. We are not at liberty to revise our understanding of holiness to fit with contemporary cultural mores.

The idea that God has revealed a different standard today is equally flawed. The Holy Spirit is himself God, and just as unchanging as God the Father. He cannot reveal something to be holy today that was condemned as unholy in the Scriptures that he breathed-out. The Holy Spirit is not a liar, and he has not learned anything new about human sexuality in the two thousand years since the closure of the Canon.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture