Flashback to 2008: Bishop James Jones organizes a Debate

This article ‘Making Space for Truth and Grace’ originally appeared on T19 here in 2008. Given the interest in the latest diocesan address by Bishop Jones it gives some background to events in the Diocese of Liverpool in that period
The 1998 Lambeth Conference asked us to be in dialogue with gay and lesbian people and as a result of that in 2001 I invited Professor Ian Markham then Professor of Public Theology at Liverpool Hope University and now Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary to chair a group exploring “A Theology of Friendship”. The group’s membership reflected the diversity of opinion, theological , ethical and ecclesiastical and was inclusive of gender. The group worked for two years with occasional residential consultations and needed all that time to build trust so that honest discussion could take place. Although I was not part of the group my own thinking has been informed by their findings. In particular I have continued to reflect on the biblical material. The quality of the group’s work has set the tone for the debate in the Diocese which is an important contribution to our common life and to the mission of God, for energy is not being sapped by internal strife.

“The Theology of Friendship” Report took me in particular to the relationship between David and Jonathan……
We have had two residential conferences within the tripartite conversation. In April 2005 Liverpool invited Akure and in November 2006 invited both Akure and Virginia. Agreed statements describe the process and the substance of our reflections to which I am not at liberty to add. In each case the conversation was facilitated by Stephen Lyon whose skills added indisputably to the quality of the conversation.

These encounters in England together with my own visits to America and Africa have enabled me to study the Scriptures with greater cultural awareness. I have a deeper and more affectionate understanding of both Africa and America. I can see how the Church of Nigeria’s response to the sexuality debate is contextualised…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

3 comments on “Flashback to 2008: Bishop James Jones organizes a Debate

  1. MichaelA says:

    So Bishop Jones was always an ultra-liberal who could not bring himself to openly state his position. This is hardly news. The reason he is in the public eye now is because of his public call for the Church of England to bless same sex liaisons (a call which he did not have the courage to make until retirement, but no matter).

    A more interesting issue is why other bishops in the Church of England have made no comment about his public call. One can only assume that they agree with it.

  2. driver8 says:

    1. I know for a fact the he was not. He used his authority to uphold, in a way to my knowledge unprecedented among diocesan bishops of his time, the traditional teaching of the church.

    2. That’s what makes his volte-face so sorrowful. In his own terms it is an admission that he was terribly in error and upheld in word and deed what he now sees as fantastical errors. For those who disagree, he has been persuaded by “another gospel”.

    3. The CofE HOB is a chummy lot largely and wouldn’t want to distract from Archbishop Justin’s enthronement. But just wait, when the time comes – I think you’ll find more bishops willing to support the “via media” measure of blessing non-celibate SSP than one might have expected. Marriage has become the line not to be crossed, for the moment. When the CofE retreats, it does so slowly and in full procession.

  3. MichaelA says:

    Driver8, I don’t know what period you are talking about, but any “volte face” obviously happened before 2008.

    And now I think about it, a number of evangelicals were suspicious of him back in 2003, despite his very public signing of the Jeffrey John letter.