THINKING ANGLICANS

Pilling Report – Fulcrum responds

Fulcrum has published its Response to the Pilling Report. Fulcrum welcomes much, but not all of the main report. But it also welcomes elements of the Bishop of Birkenhead’s Dissenting Statement, starting with a welcome to

The clear and irenic statement of the church’s teaching that “the proper context for sexual expression is the union of a man and a woman in marriage”. We also welcome the biblical case set out for this vision by the Bishop of Birkenhead in Appendix 3 and would further have liked to see this biblical engagement throughout the whole report.

But do read it all.

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Richard WilkinsErika BakerLorenzoFather Ron SmithJames Byron Recent comment authors
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Alastair Newman
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Why is everything described as “irenic”?! The quoted statement hardly seems to be irenic (to me)!

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

I’ve read the whole thing, and note two main points and draw one main conclusion from it: 1. Fulcrum welcomes one half of Recommendation 13 (Church must “find ways of honouring and affirming those Christians who experience same sex attraction who, conscious of the church’s teaching, have embraced a chaste and single lifestyle”) without mentioning the other half (it must do the same for those who have in conscious entered lifelong relationships). Indeed the second part of Rec 13 isn’t even mentioned. I can’t work out what lies behind this: Fulcrum intends to continue to fight to ensure queers are… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

Yes – hearing everything described in such syrupy terms makes me want to shout something very rude indeed at the computer.

A quick scoot through Fulcrum’s statement leaves me thinking “My, it must be uncomfortable balancing on top of that fencepost!”

James Byron
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James Byron

Depressingly one-sided. Especially calling the Bishop of Birkenhead’s statement “irenic”! Blessed are the peacemakers, especially when they split with their own committee for being insufficiently “traditional.” Bizarrely, Fulcrum don’t even mention the “Including Evangelical” appendix by David Runcorn, which could have been (and I suspect was) written specifically for them. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Are they really trying to hold the line against their own? What’s the point? This is a lost battle for open evangelicals. Their flexibility on gender roles and divorce ensures that. Their use of selective biblical authority makes look even more homophobic than… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

No – I was wrong. I looked again. It just looks like they want to present themselves as having a fencepost up their..

In fact they are squarely on the homophobic side of the argument.

What James says. So depressing. Will “facilitated conversations” make any difference? Not with this mindset in place.

Tony Phelan
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Tony Phelan

I don’t think Dr Goddard needs to make any effort to control the policy-making of the Fulcrum ‘leadership team’. They are entirely unanimous about it. Years ago, before Dr Goddard left Oxford, a group of us from the (now defunct) Oxford Changing Attitude group were generously invited to a discussion at his home. He said then that he thought the church might very well change its mind on this matter — since which time he has done all he can to make sure it doesn’t. He also said that he thought the church was headed for an abyss, while the… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Fulcrum’s Leadership Team look like a cross-section of open evangelical opinion, if leaning towards the conservative side of that grouping. Even if they present a united front, I’d be surprised if their beliefs about human sexuality are unanimous.

If they are, as the debate *among* evangelicals intensifies, people with affirming views are likely to get voted on. Unless Fulcrum makes holding to the traditional position a requirement of membership. If they did, they’d cease to represent the evangelical mainstream.

Tony Phelan
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Tony Phelan

In the past, James, there have been voices in the Fulcrum forum that articulate an affirming point of view; but I don’t think there is anything in Fulcrum to join — though they have occasionally held day conferences in the past. The only membership is of the ‘leadership team’ and they seem to be of one mind already.

James Byron
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James Byron

Checked on the Fulcrum site, and while they mention membership, the link’s inactive (TBF, they’re in the middle of a redesign). When it comes to their Leadership Team, Jody Stowell has just resigned over this issue. She explains her position on her blog: http://jodystowell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/watching-and-waiting-women-bishops-new.html David Runcorn’s Pilling appendix seems to have opened the floodgates among evangelicals frustrated by the “traditional” line. As this goes on, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone like N.T. Wright, or even Goddard himself, changes their mind. If Fulcrum want to stay relevant to open evangelicals, at the least, they need to shift to… Read more »

Ian Paul
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I do love the way that ‘neutral’ here is defined as ‘clearly heading in the direction of agreeing with me’…!

In that sense, of course we should all be ‘neutral’.

James Byron
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James Byron

Ian Paul: neutral is defined as neutral. Evangelicals might, after consideration, move back and retrench around the traditional position, but there’s currently a divide forming, a divide that Fulcrum ought to recognize.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Ian Paul

I don’t have answers, but I have enough questions to want to leave the debate open as Pilling does. Fulcrum suggests that scripture closes the debate here. Actually, I think there is work to be done before that conclusion can be reached. And the work is not convincing yourselves, but putting conviction at risk in a conversation with others – without conversation, there is no conversion??

Mark

Graham Kings
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Graham Kings

For those who may not have read Fulcrum’s first two points in the Response, it may be worth repeating them again here: “We welcome the following: 1. We must warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained (Recommendation 1) 2. Urgent facilitated conversations (Recommendation 3) about our differences on this subject are needed in the church as a whole and these must “involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture” (Recommendation 2) at their heart.” The Response concludes, as well as begins, with a positive welcome… Read more »

Jody Stowell
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Ian

I think that’s rather ungenerous in interpreting what James has suggested.

Open Evangelicals in asking for ‘neutral’, mean at least being open to the conversation, which, of necessity means being open to a change of mind and heart.

If that is not where you personally are, then fair enough, but please don’t shut the conversation down.

Jody

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

You can come to any conclusion if you set your framework narrowly enough.

What I would like to see from evangelicals now is a conversation about why God would think that homosexuality is immoral and why he would impose so much suffering on gay people by forcing them to live severely restricted lives for no apparent moral good to them or to society.

Just to say “but it says here” is no longer enough.

Lorenzo
Guest

Amen and amen, Erika, but they never answer and have recently taken to extolling the heroic virtues of celibacy.

Ian Paul
Guest

I am not sure anyone comes to this conversation ‘neutral’, and I am not sure why they should. To be an open evangelical is just that—to be open to discussion. It doesn’t mean coming to this debate without already having a view. No-one does that. I am very happy to discuss the issues on which I have changed my mind as I have looked more carefully at Scripture, and I read Brownson with such an openness, but was disappointed. Fulcrum, as Graham says, is supportive of the idea of facilitated discussions. But for them to be a genuine meeting place,… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Erica and Lorenzo

I can assure you this discussion is happening widely within evangelicalism .. . I wonder why you speak as if ‘evangelicals’ and ‘they’ are one (narrow) voice – it is public and clear they are not.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Jody Stowell: Exactly. 🙂 Your moving and insightful blog post about your own journey testifies to the power of being open to the lives and loves of others, and the holistic theology that can result.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thanks, Judy Stowell, for your honesty and openness to the possibility of God being present in same-sex monogamously faithful human relationships. May God richly bless your new ministry at St. Michael & All Angels. May the Holy Angels surround you in all you do for God and God’s people.

Lorenzo
Guest

Ian, I changed my mind, I can assure you. I bought the Catholic claptrap on the matter for two decades and it all but destroyed me. Brownson changed his mind too after his son came out. When I read conservative evangelical works on the matter however, it seems obvious to me that they now dive into Genesis to find ammunition for their dislikes/animus/opinions. These readings are found nowhere in Tradition, they are being pieced together in our day and presented as the age-old teaching of the church.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David, I am delighted to hear it! I speak of “evangelicals” in the context of this post on Fulcrum’s response to Pilling and Jody Stowell’s reply to Ian Paul that a conversation among evangelicals must happen and should not be shut down. I am not an evangelical so I do not really know what debates happen internally between the groups. I follow Accepting Evangelicals and Thinking Anglicans and that kind of debate has not happened on those two forums. Evengelicals of all kinds there have been discussing homosexuality in terms of what can be proven or not from Scripture. If… Read more »

Richard Wilkins
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Richard Wilkins

Although, as Rowan Williams is quoted as saying, ‘the theologians must always begin in the middle of things’, I wonder if there is an earlier starting point that should be visited. Discussion is waged as though no one’s sex drive is a problem unless someone else makes it so. Has no straight out there struggled with the sex urge whenever an attractive person comes into view? For Augustine, Thomas Merton, and anyone else who reads Jesus in Matt. 5:27, sexual feelings themselves need controlling. Marriage is the specific calling,celibacy is the default. I say this to counterbalance the widespread assumption… Read more »