Thinking Anglicans

Pilling Report – more opinion

Updated Monday evening and Tuesday morning

Ekklesia have published several articles
C of E should be more welcoming, sexuality report urges
Think-tank proposes different approach to church sexuality row
Bishops back think-tank call for reconciliation in sexuality debate
and a related paper: Church views on sexuality: recovering the middle ground by Savitri Hensman.

Andrew Symes writes for Anglican Mainstream about The Pilling Report: what it says, what it means, what we should do.

John Martin writes in The Living Church about A Cautious Step Leftward.

David Gillett blogs My reflections on the Pilling report.

Update

Ian Paul blogs The Pilling Report: divisive and damaging?

Jonathan Clatworthy blogs for Modern Church on Pilling on sex: modified rapture, and has written a 5000-word commentary on the report: Pilling’s progress: cairns on a mountain path.

The Sybils have issued a press release,available online here Sybils Christian transgender group respond to Pilling Report, and as a pdf here.

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James Byron
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James Byron

Despite its thoughtfulness, and meaning well, Savitri Hensman’s piece illustrates everything that’s wrong with the “moderate” approach. She frames a continuum with unrestrained hedonism at one end and hatemongers at the other. Equal marriage and “hate the sin, love the sinner” are cast as options in the middle of this line. (If ever there was an example of the golden mean fallacy!) Freedom for congregations to follow one of these “middle” courses is advocated, until the Spirit makes everything clear. Hensman’s assertion that this framing doesn’t make all views equal ignores the fact that it (unintentionally) legitimizes homophobia. “Hate the… Read more »

Tim S
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Tim S

I find David Gillett’s comments some of the most beautiful, clear, generous and grounded comments I have read in years. With a generous biblical theology, warm practical experience and a bold fusion of what it means to be in relationship with another person, I am heartened beyond measure. Yes, the report doesn’t go as far as many would like, but its a start, and it is part of the way we seem to do things in the Church of England at present. We will get there, I feel sure with approaches like this, which shame the closed approach of Andrew… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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The Pilling Report, though admittedly bringing the question of homosexuality out in the open, does not address the fact of homophobia being allowed to live in the Church – side by side with those of us who believe it to be a sin, and a blot on the escutcheon of the Church of England. The fact that no acknowledged ‘Gay’ advocate was given a place on the membership of the Commission, cannot but affect its cautious outcome. The LGBT community in the Church has, of course, been heard by the Commission. However, its advocacy has had to share equivalent space… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“Any bishop who argues in favour of accepting same-sex relationships is likely to be suspected of being gay,” Jonathan Clatworthy’s commentary.

My opinion is that the complete opposite is the case. I would be extremely surprised if the Bishop of Buckingham (known for his outspoken support of marriage equality and of LGBT people generally) were gay. It’s the Bishops that doth protest too much where my gaydar springs into action.

badman
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badman

Jonathan Clatworthy says that the Pilling report gives too much say to the Bishop of Birkenhead, Keith Sinclair, who was one of the full members of Pilling’s Working Group. “In effect he gets three bites of the cherry. Firstly he took part in the discussions about the content of the Report itself. Secondly he contributed one of the two statements about the biblical texts. Thirdly, his refusal to sign the Report is accompanied by a substantial account of his reasons.” Although this is not mentioned in the Pilling Report, the Bishop of Birkenhead is on the Council of the True… Read more »

Lorenzo
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The whole thing reads like a conversation between evangelicals of various convictions, no one seems to even envisage the possibility that Christian morality may not necessarily be a matter of complying with scriptural norms. It has intriguingly little to offer to catholics.

Andy
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Andy

Symes: “It is ironic that the report was released the day after the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Bulls’ bed and breakfast case”

It is also ironic that a 5 minute Youtube video which was posted three days after the CofE’s 200+ pages will have considerably greater influence on the Zeitgeist we inhabit.

Compare and contrast if you will …

James Byron
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James Byron

Lorenzo: I thought the same. It’s because, since Anglo-Catholics split over female ordination in the early Nineties, evangelicals now dominate the church, particularly the “open” HTB variety. A framework of biblical primacy is now assumed. The last chance for the old-school Church of England to decide this was 1991’s ‘Issues,’ and they blew it.

As soon as open evangelicals decide that homophobia costs *them* too much, they’ll switch sides, and this’ll be resolved very quickly indeed. The affirming appendix to Pilling did read like the first steps in a softening-up exercise. If that wasn’t intentional, it’s a happy coincidence.

Robert Ellis
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Robert Ellis

My personal thanks to Jonathan Clatworthy. His stuff is as helpful and excellent as always. I rather fear that on this gay issue the world (God’s world) has left the Church of England behind and there is a lot of fast catching up to do…..and a lot of humble pie to eat.

Lorenzo
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James: I wholeheartedly agree. My heart sank when I read it, but Scriptural precedence over reason and Tradition is quite simply and mindlessly assumed to be the ‘Anglican way’ of envisaging moral reasoning. R. Hooker would turn in his grave. Even liberals don’t seem to mind, and worse: when it comes to the ordination of women (which I wholeheartedly support), they buy into cheap forms of complementarianism to justify it, talking as they of ‘women’s gifts’ and the things only women can bring to ministry to make it whole.

AndrewT
Guest

James Byron has hit the nail on the head.

Andy
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Andy

^^ for TA readers on the other side of the pond, I’m referring to this: http://youtu.be/OJwJnoB9EKw

cseitz
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cseitz

Re: Hooker in his grave. Look, it is one argument to say that modern same-sex relating is a genuine novum, and that our forebears would not know about it. But to make Hooker a proponent of same-sex relating is eccentric at best. This is the Anglican who declared obedience to scripture of first importance, and whatever was unclear would be handed over to an evaluation via reason and tradition. It is uncontroversial to state that scripture’s word on human sexuality, marriage, etc was nowhere unclear for this Anglican and his contemporaries. So those who wish to proceed apace on the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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On looking up the credentials of the ‘True Freedom Trust’, of which the Bishop of Birkenhead is a member, I find the following disturbing news:

“True Freedom Trust (TFT) is a religious organization encouraging celibacy among gays and lesbians, based in Wirral, UK. As a purported form of Christian ministry to the LGBT community, it promotes the view that homosexuality is not sinful in and of itself but only when acted upon.”

One wonders whether the good bishop would say the same of heterosexuality, which is also a natural gift of God – but to many more people?

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

cseitz – “nowhere unclear” might best be rendered “nowhere explicitly unclear”. I think historical studies show that there has been what might be called ‘dissident behaviour’ throughout the relevant period – this might have been under-theorised/ theologised, but it existed, and the hypothesis of tacit acceptance needs more rebuttal than you have given if the rebuttal is to stick.

James Byron
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James Byron

Lorenzo: Excellent point about the “women’s gifts” line, and soft-soaping “complementarity” to get women’s ordination through (“patriarchy” being *so* last millennium).

Fulcrum have released a statement that ignores David Runcorn’s affirming evangelical appendix, I suspect because they know how dangerous it is to the homophobic position. If they’re afraid of even acknowledging it, it suggests that it might work, but how sad that discussion is now conducted on these authoritarian terms.

AndrewT
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AndrewT

Good grief, Andrew Symes’s piece is depressing. Apparently one can only be godly if you agree with him.

Lorenzo
Guest

How am I making Richard Hooker a proponent of same-sex relating? I merely said he’d turn in his grave to see evangelicals simply assume the priority of Scripture in such indiscriminate fashion in terms of moral reasoning.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

So Hooker gave room for ‘dissident behaviour’ via the logic of his theology, viz., this ‘dissident behaviour’ was not clearly covered by the prominence he gave to scripture, so he appealed to reason and tradition positively to evaluate it.

Geoff
Guest

“But to make Hooker a proponent of same-sex relating is eccentric at best” (cseitz)

Where do you get that from Lorenzo’s comment? What he decries is the use of Scripture in isolation from, or at the expense of, Tradition and Reason. However one conceptualizes the relationship between the three (and the arguments about just what Hooker thought can begin to sound as convoluted as the Trinity: does Reason proceed from Scripture through the Tradition?) he certainly was not a Sola Scriptura puritan.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Hooker did a lot of writing and preaching. Only once in all of that production does he refer to what has now become some sort of alleged axiom (invented in the 20th century). Not a stool at all. A series of graded authorities. There is plain deliverance, via scripture. After that, for things not clear, reason and the voice of the church. For Hooker, teaching on marriage was not unclear, so no appeal to reason or tradition would be relevant, much less warranting. What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“For Hooker, teaching on marriage was not unclear, so no appeal to reason or tradition would be relevant, much less warranting”

Only if we take them as three discrete strands which can be separated apart, to be be “appealed” to one at a time – the crudest form of the “stool” conceptualization which, as you point out, is only glancingly related to what Hooker actually wrote. Reason and the Tradition inform our every reading of Scripture; they aren’t separate arenas of “appeal.”

Lorenzo
Guest

You are caricaturing Hooker’s thought. In order to figure out ‘what Scripture doth plainly deliver’ you must use reason, similarly the Church in order to ‘think and define what is true and good’ makes use of reason. Conversely, reason is informed by tradition and Scripture, but reason is our human way of participating in God’s eternal law, not the Bible or Tradition.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Reason” in the 17th century is far closer to Thomas than Kant. It isn’t poll taking, or studying the zeitgeist in the affluent West.

“reason is our human way of participating in God’s eternal law, not the Bible or Tradition” would have made no sense to Hooker.

That’s fine. I’d suggest you let him go. His is a very different frame of reference.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

re the comments of cseitz; I notice his ACI colleague, Dr. Ephraim Radner seems to have modified his own stance on the matter of human sexuality. He has recently advocated the need for conservatives in this area to be ready to ‘sacrifice their own consciences’ in the interests of maintaining unity in the Church. Without putting words into his mouth, is it not possible that this was the modus operandi of the previous ABC, Dr.Rowan Williams, in his desire to hold together the Anglican Communion Churches – despite his own (published) understanding of the need to live with the reality… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest

No one said that our rational participation in God’s eternal law (which, by the way, is a quote from Aquinas) has anything to do with poll taking or joining in the zeitgeist’s expensive fun. You’re setting up straw men everywhere.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“a quote from Aquinas” except that it isn’t, when it concludes “God’s eternal law, not the Bible or Tradition” — that would make made as much sense to Aquinas as to Hooker. None.