Category : Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Is The Church of England General Synod competent?

There are several reasons why these two motions should never have been debated. The first and most obvious is that both issues will certainly be addressed in the teaching document that the Archbishops have commissioned, so the motions are trying to short-circuit a wider discussion. The second is that both take the form of false binaries; essentially they say ‘Do you agree with me—or do you hate gay and transgender people?’ No matter how faulty the wording, failing to pass either motion would not have looked like good PR, and there would have been howls of protest from various quarters. In the voting, it was evident that the bishops were acutely aware of this, and taking both motions by a vote of houses (so that they had to pass separately in each of the bishops, clergy and laity) which would normally make it harder for a motion to pass, in fact made it easier, since the bishops could not afford to be seen to be the ones who were blocking.

The third reason was the poor wording of both motions. The PMM talked of ‘conversion therapy’ but used this as an ill-defined catch-all which made proper debate very difficult. Every single speaker, including those who proposed and supported significant amendments, agreed that any form of forced or coercive treatment of people who are same-sex attracted (whether they are happy with that or not) is abusive and must be rejected. But another part of Jayne Ozanne’s agenda is to have significant movements in the Church, including New Wine, Soul Survivor, HTB and Spring Harvest labelled as ‘spiritual abusive’ and therefore illegal. This is why the motion was seen as a Trojan horse. Her motion was also asking Synod to ‘endorse’ a medical opinion, and a controverted one at that, which is simply not within Synod’s competence to do so. But suggesting that Synod ‘does not have the competence’ to express a view is like holding up a red rag to a bull (or any colour rag—bulls are colour blind). In the end we passed an amended motion that ‘endorsed’ a different medical view—but few had read the details, still less understood the issues within it, and such endorsement is meaningless except as tokenism.

The transgender motion asked for the bishops to ‘consider whether’ they should formulate some new liturgy, and in one sense that is an empty statement; they might well ‘consider’ it for five minutes and decide not. But to even raised the question of liturgy, before we have any consensus of understanding on the issue, is putting the cart so far before the horse that the horse has lost sight of it.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PD) Nathan Smith–On sex Before Marriage: Our grandparents were right, and we are wrong

On the other side is the glory of marriage, and while there’s more to that glory than the selfish genes can explain, they shed an important light on it. For when two people marry, “leaving father and mother” as the Bible says and committing to lifelong monogamy, their genetic interests are united, at least approximately, creating a harmony of instincts. Ordinarily, our instincts put us in competition with our fellow human beings. In marriage, instinct is on the side of love.

Children are the large, obvious reason why marriage is good for society and why premarital sex isn’t. Sexual relationships always absorb a lot of people’s energy and attention, so they impoverish society unless they give something back. Marriage makes the next generation, under the most favorable conditions. Premarital sex is usually not intended for procreation, and if it does result in children, they enter life at a disadvantage because they lack stable parental commitments to raising them.

But even compared to childless marriage, premarital sex has an unwholesome character because, by failing to address genetic conflicts of interest through marriage, it allows competition, exploitation, and fear of betrayal to penetrate into the heart of the most intimate human relationships, not stealthily, but openly and as if by right. There is no way to make premarital sex promote the good of society or of the individuals involved. The world would be a better place if it never happened at all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(CEN) Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden: Double Standards in the Church?

Forced resignation goes beyond the public humiliation meted out by the church authorities. Media seize on the word ‘collude’ and vilify Lord Carey for supposed implication in the crimes of Peter Ball. Invitations to minister in Churches in England and America are suddenly withdrawn. He has committed the unforgiveable sin – systemic mistakes were made, which he admits, on his watch, so he personally has to carry the public opprobrium.

Meanwhile his successor, Rowan Williams, and all the episcopal and legal advisers involved, suffer no penalty. Lord Carey’s penalty bears no relation to safeguarding: at 82 he is a threat to no-one. He carries no authority to permit any one to minister. His penalty can only be punishment which the Church feels necessary to preserve its place in the public square.
On the other hand the past few years have seen a procession of clergy, some highly placed, deliberately flout the teaching of the Church of England which they have sworn before God to uphold, and its canons which they have sworn to observe in obedience to the office of their bishop.

Some in high office along with members of General Synod deliberately question and oppose the teaching of the Bible and of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality.
Others have placed ‘facts on the ground’. For example, under the leadership of its dean, Southwark Cathedral advertises availability of prayers for a civil partnership, while noting the Church has no authorised prayers or service of blessing.

One dean has called on the Church to embrace gay marriage, revealing that he has previously held services of blessing for same sex couples at another Cathedral and would consider doing the same again. Did he seek permission from the Archbishop of York before going ahead with the ceremonies? (See further below)

A parish clergyman entered into a same-sex marriage, specifically forbidden to members of the clergy, and remained in post. Both the deans and the vicar remained on General Synod which makes the laws of the church. Yet calls are made to remove Lord Carey from the Lords because a lawbreaker cannot be a lawmaker.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton–Theresa May did not instruct the CofE to allow same-sex marriage

INTERVIEWER

Is that the next stage though? Because – and there are many gay Christians. There are many gay clergymen who would like to be able to do this but at the moment aren’t able to. Would you like to see the law evolve on that?

PRIME MINISTER

I mean, this is – this has to be a matter for the – for the Church. I mean, it is important that the Church is able – and the Church – the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues.  And obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes more generally change, as society changes.

Do you see a ‘should’, a ‘must’ or an ‘ought’ in there regarding the future of gay marriage or blessing? “This has to be a matter for the Church,” the Prime Minister said. Could she have been any clearer? Has her position on this not been utterly consistent? “I strongly support equal marriage, and I know that these debates will continue, but it will have to be for the church as a whole to decide if it wants to make a change to its canon law,” she said only a few months ago. The church as a whole: Theresa May has absolutely no intention of forcing the Church of England to perform gay marriage (or blessing), and absolutely no desire to lecture it in the way it should go.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Look Back to the Telegraph in 2003–“[Archbishop Rowan] Williams denounces same-sex marriages”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Anglican leaders denounced gay marriages yesterday in an effort to avert schism in the worldwide Church.
In a unanimous statement, the primates, who are the heads of the Church’s 38 provinces, distanced themselves from maverick bishops who are poised to introduce same-sex blessings.
The move will dismay the Church’s liberal wing, which had hoped that Dr Rowan Williams and other reforming primates would champion their cause.
But it will be welcomed by traditionalists and should postpone a fundamental split in the Church over homosexuality, the most divisive issue it has faced since women priests.
In a pastoral letter released after a critical summit meeting in Brazil last week, the primates said that “the question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy”.
They added: “There is no theological consensus. . .therefore we, as a body, cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Telegraph) Prime Minister May: The Church should ‘reflect’ on allowing same-sex couples to marry

The Church of England should “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples.

In an interview for radio station LBC, the Prime Minister said she believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Asked whether she herself would like to see the law “evolve” she said it “had to be a matter for the Church”, adding: “the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Robert Innes offers Reflections on the recently Concluded C of E General Synod

One of the things that would most effectively undermine the church’s mission would be a serious split over issues of human sexuality. Over the course of the long weekend, the Synod was bowled two difficult questions that would (again) test the church’s unity. Neither motion came from the bishops: one was a private member’s motion on ‘conversion therapy’, the other was a motion from Blackburn Diocese on ‘Welcoming Transgender People’. Both motions could be viewed as totemic of the relative influence of different groups or proxies for other issues. And, of course, both could be spun.

I have to say I found myself rather uncomfortable debating ‘conversion therapy’. The ethics of therapy offered to gay/lesbian people (and all the more transgender people) is something which challenges even those who are experts in their field. Only a very few members of synod have this kind of expertise. And I was nervous discussing a subject in the adversarial style of a full synod which bears upon issues affecting individuals and families so deeply and personally.

In the event, I think we managed to discuss the issue with openness and compassion. Two amendments had been proposed, both of which in my view significantly improved the original motion. One was defeated, the other was accepted. The final motion endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding signed up to by all the relevant professional bodies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It can be found here. This MoU, describes ‘efforts that try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies as unethical and potentially harmful’. The motion was passed overwhelmingly.

The second issue in the sexuality area was a motion ‘recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church’ and calling on the House of Bishops to ‘consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition’. During this debate we heard several stories of people who had transitioned between gender identities, and of the mental anguish that gender variance can cause to an individual and their family/community. There was considerable debate as to how to best to respond. I felt the Bishop of Worcester expressed well the mind of the Synod when he said: ‘Our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that.’ The motion was duly passed by a big majority.

I hope that gay, lesbian and transgender people feel reassured and encouraged by these votes. Neither vote changes the church’s doctrine….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

–Psalm 38:21-22

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Deseret News) What the loss of a father in the home does to a child’s health

Children who grow up without a father in the home have shorter telomeres, the protective chromosome caps that are believed to affect health and longevity, a new study says.

The findings are particularly troublesome for boys, whose telomeres were 40 percent more affected than girls’ by the loss of their father.

The effect of father loss was most pronounced in children whose fathers died or were incarcerated before they turned 5, according to the study, published Tuesday in the medical journal Pediatrics. Nine-year-olds whose fathers are dead had a 16 percent reduction in telomere length, compared to children whose fathers are alive and living with their children.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(ACNS) Launch of the new Oxford History of Anglicanism

The official launch has taken place of the first ever multi-volume history of worldwide Anglicanism to be published by a major university press.  The Oxford History of Anglicanism, in five volumes,  covers the growth of worldwide Anglicanism with more than 100 international scholars contributing. Three volumes have appeared already and a further two are due later this year.

The person who had the idea for these volumes is Professor Rowan Strong, who oversaw the whole ten year process and worked with the individual editors, as well as being the editor of the third volume.  He comes from Anglican Church of Australia, and teaches at Murdoch University in Perth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Books, Church History, Theology

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–The Church of England’s Nietzschean Proposal

In a world of change and flux, it is reassuring to know that some things remain the same. Take, for example, the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod, calling for a liturgy to help transgender people celebrate their transitions. This motion is consistent with liberal Protestantism’s age-old calling, that of baptizing the moral norms du jour of the respectable chattering classes, presumably in hopes of enhancing the appeal of religion to its cultured despisers. Transgenderism was bound for liturgical acceptance.

By now, experience should have taught even the moderately self-aware that, where religion is concerned, cultural relevance is a cruel mistress, always promising the Church a place at her table but never quite delivering. Alas, self-awareness has never been the strong suit of those liberal Protestants who have perfected the art of always being belatedly in support of whatever nonsense the sexual revolution is now declaring a self-evident truth that only a hate-filled bigot would deny. And so we have this liturgical proposal which, as with all liturgies, tells us a lot about the General Synod’s understanding of its church’s purpose. It points toward a view of the Church as offering a religious idiom for the therapeutic concerns of modern Western society. So far, so conventional.

But the proposal is actually far more sinister than the usual capitulation to the latest sexual hobby-horse. What is missing in this doubtless well-intentioned move is any reflection upon the deeper philosophical implications of transgenderism. To treat it as yet one more legitimate human choice, which can be included in the pantheon of human freedoms, is to miss the real issue. Transgenderism challenges traditional notions of human personhood at the deepest level. For that reason, it is perhaps appropriate to recognize transgenderism in a liturgy: A liturgy reveals a church’s deepest beliefs as it articulates the dialogical relationship between a people and God, and thus dramatizes who they are in relationship to each other. For the Christian, liturgy presupposes identity. Indeed, the Christian liturgy legitimates identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Bishop Peter Selby: Hearing the cries of the abused

THOSE of us who once bore the responsibilities that now rest on the shoulders of our successors will be praying for them as they struggle with the issues raised by the in­­dependent review of the Peter Ball case, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb….

They have not only to respond to the individuals who rightly expect that there will be an outpouring of compassion, repentance, and care. Their responsibilities are made the graver because this report illumin­ates a culture: one in which we, their predecessors, were in our time com­plicit, and for which, therefore, we remain accountable. Our prayers for all who bear these responsib­ilities now need to be characterised by self-examination, and, in particu­lar, examination of the part that we played in forming the communal life of the Church.

Survivors do not really trust that the Church of England is capable of the depth of change that is needed, and they ask that we entrust safe­guarding issues to some external body — a request as understandable as it is shocking. Has the Church really come to a point where it has to rely on the wisdom of others to make it a safe place for its vulner­able and its children? It seems so.

It seems that we — not just the individuals who are named, but all who have ever played a part in the formation of this Church’s culture — have to ask ourselves how this culture of abuse and cover-up ever came to be. Those who are the victims and survivors of it imagine, plausibly enough, that we must have sensed the culture within which we were operating, and which we chal­lenged too little, if at all. What they are rightly asking is how we failed to name that culture and give to the remedying of it our fullest energy of heart and mind.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

Al Mohler–The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson — You Might Be Next

Consider these lessons from Eugene Peterson’s ordeal.

First, there is nowhere to hide. Every pastor, every Christian leader, every author — even every believer — will have to answer the question. The question cannot simply be about same-sex marriage. The question is about whether or not the believer is willing to declare and defend God’s revealed plan for human sexuality and gender as clearly revealed in the Bible.

Second, you had better have your answer ready. Evasive, wandering, and inconclusive answers will be seen for what they are. Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.

Third, if you will stand for the Bible’s clear teachings on sexuality and gender, you had better be ready to answer the same way over and over and over again. The question will come back again and again, in hopes that you have finally decided to “get on the right side of history.” Faithfulness requires consistency — that “long obedience in the same direction.”
That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ, as Eugene Peterson has now taught us. In more ways than one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture