THINKING ANGLICANS

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali Comments on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill,…

The Church of Uganda has issued this press release.

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali Comments on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the Church of England’s “Pilling Report,” and the Open Letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

30th January 2014

The Church of Uganda is encouraged by the work of Uganda’s Parliament in amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines through a principle of proportionality, and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour, as we had recommended in our 2010 position statement on the Bill. This frees our clergy and church leaders to fulfill the 2008 resolution of our House of Bishops to “offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

Accordingly, we are grateful for the reminder of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to fulfill such commitments as stated in the 2005 Communique of the Primates Meeting held in Dromantine, Northern Ireland.

We would further like to remind them, as they lead their own church through the “facilitated conversations” recommended by the Pilling Report, that the teaching of the Anglican Communion from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, from Resolution 1.10, still stands. It states that “homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture,” and the conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

It was the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada’s violations of Lambeth 1.10 which caused the Church of Uganda to break communion with those Provinces more than ten years ago. We sincerely hope the Archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church.

Furthermore, as our new Archbishop of Canterbury looks toward future Primates Meetings and a possible 2018 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, we would also like to remind him of the 2007 Primates Communique from Dar es Salaam, which says that there are “consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion” for TEC and those Provinces which cannot

1. “Make an unequivocal common covenant that the Bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through” their governing body;

2. “Confirm…that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent.”

It is clear that the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada have not upheld these commitments, and so we do pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury as he considers whether or not to extend invitations to their Primates for the next Primates Meeting or to their Bishops for the 2018 Lambeth Conference. To withhold these invitations would be a clear signal of his intention to lead and uphold the fullness of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali

ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.

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Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

“The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor 3:6)

Rev Drew Tweedy
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Rev Drew Tweedy

“Disorientation”. That’s a good one. Let’s have a facilitated conversation about your disorientatiion.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“We sincerely hope the Archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church.” – Primate of Uganda –

And if the ABC and the ABY and the Church of England do not ‘step back’, what will Uganda actually do? Go the way of ACNA and separate out from the Anglican Communion?

There are those who would say: “Bring it on”.

Mike Homfray
Guest
Mike Homfray

Never been able to understand why they just don’t split.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Now will Canterbury give up on the attempt to serve two masters?

Welby is Primate of England. Not Africa. Not the world.

Get off the fence, Church of England. Take a side.

It’s only the most salient civil-rights issue of our time.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Alison Barfoot ducks the support for the present legislation by arguing the Church had successfully seen the Bill amended. The three areas she identifies were those highlighted by Rowan Williams when he criticised the Bill some years ago. One of TA’s commentators quoted this recently on another thread. Of course it won’t do. The Bill as originally drafted was monstrous, now it is just outrageously bad. She will have to come up with something better than this sly threat that they will not attend Lambeth or Primates meetings. As an aside, and partly in response to Mike’s question, absence of… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

Well, I’d say the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have just been told to “get stuffed.” That could be seen as helpful, though: Ntagali has made it blazingly clear just how effective their “Neville Chamberlain” approach is going to be. I’m sure they expected that.

Samuel Denyer
Guest
Samuel Denyer

When it gets to trading letters along these lines you can’t help but think that some kind of brink is not far off. I wouldn’t care to be tasked with facilitating conversations between these parties.

Peter Dyke
Guest

Archbishop Ntagali and others who agree with him refer repeatedly to those (few) parts of the bible that appear to condemn exploitative and abusive same-sex encounters. “Scripture” says nothing about faithful and stable same-sex relationships, which are as different from these abusive relationships as faithful marriage is from rape. The bible says nothing about using a mobile phone, or (for instance) posting a press release on the internet. Are these actions therefore similarly condemned? I’m sure that conversations are the only possible way ahead. Liberals won’t get anywhere fast by shouting louder than before when those on “the other side”… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Never been able to understand why they just don’t split.’ Mike Homfray –

Because, Mike, this would then render them as non-Anglican – even though they already claim – through GAFCON – that they are the sole ‘Orthodox Anglicans’ on the planet.

I believe that GAFCON will not make the first move towards schism, though. They are waiting for the rest of us to kick them out – so that they can claim – like ACNA -to have been betrayed and maltreated.

James Byron
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James Byron

Good question, Peter Dyke. I believe they’re terrified of uncertainty. Their source of revelation is on trial. If the Bible can be wrong, their certainty evaporates, and they’re in the existential mire with the rest of us.

That’s why liberals and conservatives talk past one another. This isn’t about what the Bible does or doesn’t say, not really. It’s about psychology. Liberals can deal with uncertainty: dogmatists can’t.

I sympathize with their angst, but it’s not grounds to impose their views on those who disagree.

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

I agree that there is no need to shout. Nigeria and Uganda enjoy world opprobrium just as Putin’s Russia does. Let them shriek and shout until their folly becomes apparent to their own people, just as British Catholics rejected Archbishop Nichols’ dismal and lurid piece in the Independent on Christmas Day 2012. Meanwhile, just quietly remind them of the Gospel.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“I believe they’re terrified of uncertainty. Their source of revelation is on trial. If the Bible can be wrong, their certainty evaporates, and they’re in the existential mire with the rest of us.”

Very well put!

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“If the Bible can be wrong, they’re in the existential mire with the rest of us.”

Almost sounds like a perfect rebuttal of Cranmer’s collect for Advent 2.

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

‘I believe they’re terrified of uncertainty. Their source of revelation is on trial’. Yes this debate is triggering an important internal debate among evangelicals that circles around biblical hermeneutics. So yes, something is on trial. But not, I think, because the bible is wrong. I think the ways we have been reading it are being exposed as flawed. But this challenge is at every door. It was Jeffrey John who strongly challenged his own tradition some years ago for not being anywhere near thorough enough in doing the hard work of careful biblical study. And yes, a tradition that focusses… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Almost sounds like a perfect rebuttal of Cranmer’s collect for Advent 2.”

Really?

To inwardly digest something usually means to absorb what is useful and beneficial, and to expel what is not.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

This is clobber verses in reverse. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Cranmer’s collect would get this kind of reading. “Almighty God, who has caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning” except the parts we “expel.”

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

As it happens, David Runcorn, I totally see where anti-gay evangelicals are coming from. If I believed that I had access to a God-given source of revelation, and that people who got it wrong would burn in hell forever, I’d not be open to compromise, either.

Liberalism can’t promise secure, non-anxious, honest neurosis free faith, and doesn’t pretend to. It does promise to do away with the problems inherent to authoritarianism. Given all the anxiety and neurosis that revelation claims and the threat of hell brings, that’s not without value.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“a God-given source of revelation, and that people who got it wrong would burn in hell forever”

How odd.

Jesus gave His life on a Cross that we might have life in him, as the “God-given source of revelation” uniquely declares, to the glory of God the Father.

We would have no access to this, no ‘dial tone’ to this new creation life, absent what the collect of Cranmer identifies and celebrates on just those terms.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Which part of “slaves, obey your masters” was written for our learning?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“This is clobber verses in reverse. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Cranmer’s collect would get this kind of reading. “Almighty God, who has caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning” except the parts we “expel.” – cseitz –

And perhaps the greatest learning experience from Holy Writ is that God requires justice for ALL.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

“Which part of “slaves, obey your masters” was written for our learning?”

We can certainly learn from it, Jeremy. It is a question of WHAT we learn from it that matters. I find the grim and shocking bits of the Bible are some of the most instructive – they expose the fallibility of humanity. We at least get the chance to learn from their mistakes…

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“This is clobber verses in reverse. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Cranmer’s collect would get this kind of reading. “Almighty God, who has caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning” except the parts we “expel.””

“Learning” does not equate with “unthinking obedience”.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

An exhortation unknown in the household codes of the day. As was Israel’s handling of slaves (a common reality in antiquity).

But this is why the collect reads, “hear them, read, mark, inwardly digest them, that we might embrace…”. This isn’t the hair-trigger of “we know better” so familiar now.

I appreciate the logic of James Bryon. Just throw it all out! The Bible is outmoded and in opposition to our aspirations.

Geoff
Guest

I’m with Anne2. I find St Paul’s musings on women and queers as nauseating as the next person but, traditionalist that I am, would insist on the integrity of the lectionary. Scripture has to be read whole for us to make any sense of it. Indeed, I often lament the thinness of the newer lectionaries in my province, and their apparent squeamishness about the less palatable parts.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“I appreciate the logic of James Bryon. Just throw it all out! The Bible is outmoded and in opposition to our aspirations.”

More like “treat it as any other text.” This of course rests on whether we believe that the canon of scripture is revealed truth or a human creation. If it’s a human creation, we’re treating the aspirations of 2,000 years ago as the word of God.

The determination is, by its nature, not about evidence.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anne2, I could accept your understanding if it were publicly preached. But who preaches the lectionary and says that it is wrong? And that we learn from Scripture _because_, or especially when, it is wrong? Who after hearing the Gospel read (or perhaps reading the Gospel himself or herself) goes up to the pulpit and says “I disagree with the Word of God that you have just heard”? “And here’s why”? No one, of course. It’s all couched in much more subtle language. “Today’s Gospel is a difficult passage . . . . How are we to make sense of… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

“Anne2, I could accept your understanding if it were publicly preached. But who preaches the lectionary and says that it is wrong? And that we learn from Scripture _because_, or especially when, it is wrong?” I do, Jeremy, and I don’t suppose I am alone. I often stand in the pulpit or sit in Bible study groups and say that the Bible is a record of humanity’s struggle to understand life, faith, themselves and God and that we might not agree with the particular answers they came up with in their time. Having a record of that struggle though means… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anne2, I appreciate your response, and of course I prefer your hermeneutic.

But with respect it sounds as though you may make our point a bit indirectly.

Of course this is easy for me to say as I do not preach!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Yes, Jeremy, if you did have to preach, if you were to be totally honest – in today’s world of new revelation through science and technology, you might find it very hard to insist on ‘every word of Scripture being either true or even relevant to modern-day understanding of life today. Many of us who exercise the precious gift of preaching – in the light of the INCARNATE WORD – sometimes have to question the wisdom of verbatim acceptance of that which is written. We need, in every instance, to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to interpret for… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Father Ron, I don’t think you and I disagree on interpretive approach.

But I think we might disagree on how open preachers should be about that approach.

“To interpret for our particular audience” sounds like trimming interpretive sails to suit the bible-olatry of the people in the pews.

That, to me, is a serious problem.

And I think the Holy Spirit would counsel truth-telling.

Anne2
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Anne2

If you do preach you have to be aware of the huge variety of people in your congregation – young and old, those who have been sitting in the pews all their lives (though not necessarily listening or understanding…) and those who have just come in for the first time that morning with no knowledge of the Bible at all, those who have post-graduate degrees and those who left school with no qualifications and are barely literate… The challenges of differentiation are huge for preachers – far greater than any classroom teacher or university lecturer will face. To add to… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Ten minute sermons according to a fixed lectionary — not in an evangelical tradition, then! 😀 One of liberal Christianity’s greatest pitfalls has been its reluctance to say what it means. Absolutely say, “The Bible is wrong.” So what if half the people switch off? You’ve got the other half. As for the one’s who assume that you’re an atheist, great: opportunity to challenge them about what faith means. If they’re unwilling to listen, odds are they’re in the wrong building. Evangelicals aren’t shy about saying what they believe. That is a large part of their success. The liberal approach… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“we recognise that for many people the strain of opening their minds and getting their heads around the Bible in anything other than a “washing machine manual” way is immense.”

As you can tell, I’m not one for beating around the bush.

So I’ll just say it.

This is both condescending and self-defeating.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

No, Jeremy, it is neither condescending nor self-defeating; it is reality. I’m not saying that some people can’t consider other possibilities, or that we shouldn’t try to help them to, but for some, for all sorts of reasons, this is much harder and more painful than it might be for you. I think, for example of the woman in my congregation who, by her own admission had always clung onto simple certainties about her faith which she had learned in childhood. She comes along to our Bible study group and has immense difficulty in taking on board that the things… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Anne2, I think you’re making my point for me. Anyone who thinks that everything in the Bible is literally true should be disabused of that pernicious notion–and fast. That notion is a source of great evil in the world today. And again, to work around the virgin birth in the way you describe sounds very indirect. More sail-trimming. In other words, the two people you describe appear, by their interpretive approaches, to be constraining your own. You’re focusing on them because they are already in your congregation. But what about the people _not_ in your congregation who might think better… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Anne2, there’s a danger of allowing pastoral concerns to stifle honest expression, and for politeness to tip over into obfuscation. If someone can’t handle critical evaluation, the hard fact is that they need to go elsewhere. Academics get students from a range of backgrounds, but they don’t see that as grounds to avoid challenging their presuppositions. The alternative is to allow criticism to be so muffled that it becomes silent. Confrontation is unpleasant, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You can’t make everyone happy. A large part of the problem is the authoritarianism inherent to church services, with a priesthood speaking to… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Jeremy, I’m totally in agreement with your last comment (6 Feb) – Father Ron –

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Jeremy and James, there is plenty of challenge in my sermons – if there wasn’t I wouldn’t know about the struggles these particular people I mention have in dealing with that. The question is, though, how do you get people from A to B, from the point where they think of the bible as a washing machine manual to being able to question it and argue with it? My experience is that you don’t do that by saying “if you don’t like it you should go somewhere else”. You do it by taking their concerns and their fears seriously, and… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

To clarify my position, I’m not suggesting that anyone be told “my way or the highway,” but that people be given things straight, and left to make up their own minds.

“Get people from A to B” is, perhaps unintentionally, a paternalistic approach. This is, I think, the root of my disagreement with Anne. Instead of leading people by the hand, have an open debate. People will, ultimately, decide their own path.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I think Anne2 is spot on. Are we so intellectually superior that we absolutely must hammer our own views home, regardless of consequences? Is Anne not right to say that if she takes people on their journey too fast she will lose them? Are they expendable? And what do we mean by disabusing people of the idea that the bible can be read literally? Are we saying that there is a group of hopelessly stuck individuals who would still stone people if they could on one side, and an enlightened group of us on the other who know never to… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“Are we so intellectually superior that we absolutely must hammer our own views home, regardless of consequences?” Not at all, Erika; I’ve argued the exact opposite. Claims should be tested in debate. If people want to hold (to quote ‘Blue Like Jazz’ with tongue very much in cheek) “private, religious, wacko beliefs,” it’s none of my concern. They doubtless think my beliefs are equally whacko. Problem is that beliefs beget actions. If we could just agree to disagree, there wouldn’t be an issue. Since orthodoxy often goes hand-in-hand with imposition, in many cases, that’s not a realistic option. If someone’s… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, there is no empirical method that can test faith. There is no empirical method that could settle the question of whether there is a God, never mind what he’s like, whether he actually came down to earth in the form of Jesus, whether he died and was resurrected, whether that had any cosmic effect on the world’s fate… it’s the idea that we can easily disabuse people of their beliefs just because they seem impossible to us that is the intellectual arrogance. What matters is what kind of people our faith helps us to become. Can we tolerate that… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“… it’s the idea that we can easily disabuse people of their beliefs just because they seem impossible to us that is the intellectual arrogance.” Perhaps, but I never said that, so it’s by the by! I’m willing and able to tolerate all kinds of beliefs, and loathe the idea of imposing controls on anyone. The problem comes in tolerating the intolerant, in tolerating beliefs that seek to impose controls on others. In that case, challenging beliefs is self-defense and defense of third parties. You’re right about beliefs not resting solely in the intellect. Much belief is rooted in emotional… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I understood you to say that if only we confront people with rational arguments they will give up their medieval beliefs and become tolerant people. That’s why you wanted Anne2 to be confrontational and disabuse people of their harmful belief that there was a virgin birth etc. Maybe I misunderstood you. But I don’t think we are that far apart at all. But I think there is this prejudice that the literalists are the ones who cause grave harm to our church because they are the ones who discriminate and are intolerant. And we really mean evangelicals by that… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I’m curious about the charge of intellectual arrogance.

Which is more arrogant–the idea that the Bible is subject, like most texts, to interpretation, and that what we read in it depends on what we bring to it?

Or the idea that the Bible has one literal truth, and I know it, and you do not?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

There is no arrogance in either approach, Jeremy. The arrogance, on both sides, lies in claiming that one’s preferred approach is so obvious that everyone who doesn’t share it has to be dismissed or quickly re-educated.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“the idea that the Bible has one literal truth, and I know it, and you do not”

Which is exactly what those are doing who insist that the bible has no literal truth and that they know it, and the others don’t.

If you did indeed allow “the idea that the Bible is subject, like most texts, to interpretation, and that what we read in it depends on what we bring to it” we would not be having this conversation.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Erika, couldn’t agree more about the decency of many evangelicals as individuals. Problem is that an authoritarian creed works against that decency. How many evangelicals have you heard say they’d like to affirm gay relationships, but consider their hands tied by the Bible? I’ve heard plenty, and I believe quite a few.

Authoritarian ideas also attract, and give cover to, others who aren’t nearly as pleasant. Controlling individuals who mask their bullying in a cloak of righteousness.

Like you, I have no desire to cause anyone distress. What alternative would you suggest to challenging the underlying belief?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I believe that people chose those creeds they want to believe in and that they chose the kind of churchmanship that best suits them. And so anti gay evangelicals will tell you that it’s all about the plain meaning of Scripture, whereas anti gay Anglo-Catholics will tell you that the Pope has confirmed that being gay is an intrinsic evil. Anti women evangelicals will cite St Paul, anti women Anglo Catholics will talk about sacramental assurance and that God has assigned certain roles to men to the extent that women can literally not carry them out effectively. Religion is… Read more »