..The letter from our bishops proposes to encourage mutual respect and attentiveness, but it communicates something quite different. It demonstrates two disturbing characteristics of our House of Bishops: (A) they make the Church of Ireland its own primary authority and source of unity and (B) they assume that our church’s teaching on the issue of human sexuality is liable, even certain, to change.
The Church as its Own Authority.
Our bishops make the Church of Ireland’s canons, rites, ceremonies and liturgies the primary and ultimate authority for our doctrinal and moral teaching. If this is true, the only barrier to a Church of Ireland minister conducting same-sex marriages is the canons and liturgy of the Church of Ireland. Their letter defends this approach by suggesting this matter is of ”˜expressly legal function’. The letter itself cannot sustain this tactic as it later calls us to ”˜offer service and leadership in the things of God.’
Our bishops propose the following arguments against the practice of same sex marriage in the Church of Ireland: the status of the current canons, the absence of liturgical resources, and restraint for the sake of other’s consciences. The primary authority of Anglican tradition is notably absent ”“ the letter neglects Scripture or any appeal to its’ authority.
Our bishops’ neglect of Scripture departs from the Church of Ireland’s stated principles in the preamble & declaration to our constitution and our historic reformed protestant doctrine contained in the BCP, articles, ordinal and homilies. The benefit of these Anglican documents is in their agreement with Scripture. Apart from their agreement with Scripture they have no Christian authority and cease to be identifiably Anglican.
The impediment to our support of, conducting of, or entry into so-called “same-sex marriage” is not our canons, liturgical resources, or others’ consciences, as our bishops propose. Our impediment is the clear and present word of God in Scripture from which our doctrine is derived. If Holy Scripture is not our bishops’ ultimate authority, then they have departed from the reformed Christian faith of which Anglicanism is a wonderful expression.
Rather than a call to canonical conformity and liturgical observance, we long for a call from our House of Bishops to proper Christian restraint that is obedience to our Lord’s word. To act without such restraint in this matter is not merely inviting division, it is open rebellion against Christ and a withdrawal from Christian life and doctrine, a wilful sinfulness that Scripture and our scriptural Anglican traditions meet with rebuke and discipline..
Read it all [with the cross references to the Bishops’ letter]