Thinking Anglicans

32 evangelicals lack confidence in shared conversations process

32 members of the General Synod have signed a statement which has been published on the Anglican Mainstream website. The full text of the statement and the list of signatories is copied below the fold.

The matter has been reported in Christian Today by Harry Farley. His story is headlined Divisions deepen in Church of England as conservatives express ‘lack of confidence’ in gay marriage talks.

He notes that Lambeth Palace has declined to comment on the statement.

It was also reported in Anglican Ink by George Conger who noted that the 32 were “members of the 1990 Group on General Synod” and that the statement has been sent in a letter to the College of Bishops. His article is headlined General Synod shared sex conversations place unity above truth, critics charge.

“We, the undersigned members of the General Synod, wish to express our lack of confidence in the process of the Shared Conversations. Whatever their stated purposes, the outcome has not led to a greater confidence that the Church will be guided by the authoritative voice of the Scriptures, and its decisive shaping of traditional Anglican teaching, in any forthcoming discussions.”

Rosemary Lyon – Blackburn
Stephen Boyall – Blackburn
Kathy Playle – Chelmsford
Mary Durlacher – Chelmsford
David Banting – Chelmsford
Debbie Woods – Chester
Jeremy Harris – Chester
Lorna Ashworth – Chichester
Andrea Minichiello Williams – Chichester
Rachel Bell – Derby
Giles Williams – Europe
Helen Lamb – Ely
William Belcher – Gloucester
Chik Kaw Tan – Lichfield
Shaun Morris – Lichfield
Chris Gill – Lichfield
Debbie Buggs – London
Sarah Finch – London
Clive Scowen – London
Charlie Skrine -London
Margaret Parrett – Manchester
Caroline Herbert – Norwich
Graham Caskie – Oxford
Andrew Bell – Oxford
Andrew Presland – Peterborough
Mark Lucas – Peterborough
Ian Dobbie – Rochester
Angus MacLeay – Rochester
Jane Patterson -Sheffield
Brian Wilson – Southwark
Susie Leafe – Truro
Chris Fry – Winchester

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Susannah Clark
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Hmmm… the Anglican Mainstream article says: “serious questions remain about the viability of maintaining surface unity in the church while allowing contradictory doctrinal positions” But the fact of the matter is, there ARE contradictory doctrinal positions in the Church. However, one doctrinal position about which there is no contradiction, is that we are called to love one another. And our unity is not founded on uniformity, but on the grace and love we encounter in Jesus Christ. Since there are, manifestly, “doctrinal contradictions” on the matter of human sexuality, and different beliefs held in good conscience by fellow Christians… do… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

The 1990 group – when I joined Synod in 1997 I was invited to join this group by someone who said ‘This group is for the real evangelicals on Synod. We think EGGS is a bit wet.’

I declined his kind invitation, saying I thought he thought I was more conservative on some issues than I actually was (and am). And I am somebody who still believes in penal substitution as an atonement model!

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Hmmm. The phrase, “Round up the usual suspects,” comes to mind.

Richard Grand
Guest
Richard Grand

When did the place of gay people in the sacramental life of the Church become the single doctrine that seems worth fighting about? We have disagreed for centuries on matters of some significance (e.g. The Doctrine of the Eucharist, Prayers for the Departed, the role of Mary, even the number of sacraments), but we just carried on with the usual sense of Anglican comprehensiveness. To hear these people, the whole Bible is really about one issue, the Gospels are full of references to homosexuality, and the whole life and ministry of the Church has a single focus-keeping gay people out.… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

The 1990 Group was created during the Fourth General Synod (1985-1990) by Hugh Craig, a prominent layman from Oxford, who had earlier served on the General Assembly. It sought to identify and encourage conservative evangelicals, ordained and lay, to stand for the 1990 General Synod in preparation for the final stages of the women priests’ legislation. It also opposed such developments as the abolition of the freehold. By the time I was asked to join it in 1994 its membership included a few who were supportive of women’s ministry. It was a secret group for a time, later acknowledging its… Read more »

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

Thank you, Susannah. Your opening sentences say it all. And John Wesley said something similar long ago : we cannot think alike but we can love alike. I myself believe in “traditional marriage” but I happily accept that you and many other Christians believe the definition of marriage should be extended – and I may yet change my mind! Or, to take another example, I am a convinced unitarian Anglican but I happily accept that you and many other Christians are Trinitarian. The heart of the matter is found in the heart of the Scriptures, words that I think trump… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest
Andrew Lightbown

The reality of the C of E is that it has been, and remains, reasonably progressive overall and yet contains a conservative element who believe themselves to be their ‘bother’s keeper.’ The C of E has always sought to accommodate and appease the conservative voice – flying and special purpose Bishops for example, and will continue to do so. The C of E has lived with ‘doctrinal contradictions’ for most of its existence and should continue to do so. The Bishops should get on and authorize some pastoral liturgies and promote the principle of subsidiarity as a the basis for… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Well, I lack confidence that these “evangelicals” know anything of the GOOD news of Jesus Christ, so there’s that.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

I would say, Andrew Lightbown, not “brother’s keeper” but, rather, “brother’s ruler.” They like power and authority, they love a sense of self-righteous control over the lives of others, rather than simply over some ecclesial structure. That is why I see them as far more dangerous than other progressive Christians do. They are fond of quoting Romans, but only the parts that *seem* to give judgment and death, while ignoring the central focus which is that of Peter’s vision, extended beyond mere dietary laws – do not call unclean what God calls clean. They want to control minds and hearts,… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Perhaps the politicisation of the General Synod is one of the reasons for the low turnout in Synod elections…leading to an unrepresentative Synod which can become the playground for activists who represent more extreme positions than one usually encounters in the parishes.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Well I’m sure the Cof E will eventually accommodate this view in a church within a church…but the male headship bishop is probably inclusive of this theological view anyway.

mdav
Guest
mdav

Thanks for insight and background in these comments. Prayers from across the Pond for grace and wisdom for all in C of E.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Just as a matter of interest, as a counterpoint to conservative literalism, can anyone share a link to a theologically sound argument in favour of same sex marriage?

Peter Kay
Guest
Peter Kay

” can anyone share a link to a theologically sound argument in favour of same sex marriage?”

That, Kate, is the million dollar question!

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

One has to smile at the self-designation “evangelical”. Neo-nomian is a more apt description.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Kate, there aren’t any theologically sound arguments *against* same-sex marriage…

PaulWaddington
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PaulWaddington

Five years ago, when the Church of England was similarly divided over the issue of women bishops, a significant group, including 5 bishops, 70 priests and 1500 laity left the C of E to join the Catholic Church, where they formed a distinctive group known as the Ordinariate.

Is history going to repeat itself? That time, it was mostly Anglocatholics who made the move. This time it could be mainly Evangelicals.

David Runcorn
Guest

Kate – this is a really important question and not just for evangelicals. I am struggling to find anything. Any suggestions? In the recent ‘Journeys in grace and truth’ I wrote, ‘The Evangelical tradition has its own passionate and particular devotion to the Bible that is not always easy for those outside to understand. In this context it means that if scripture is believed to condemn same-sex relationships this is primarily a matter of obedience to what the Bible teaches. The criticism or scorn of others will not sway them. After all doesn’t the New Testament warn the followers of… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Fr Andrew, that is not quite true. Marriage is subject to annulment until consummated and the Bible, when read literally, does speak against same sex consummation. David, I have seen nothing and I agree conservatives are right to expect it. Indeed we liberals should expect it. I personally understand the theology – I think – but without training in theological rigour I am not sure I could do the argument justice. That’s especially so as I believe that correctly expressed the argument will be fully permissive of same sex marriage but will equally discourage all marriage.

Susannah Clark
Guest

I believe there is a clear and coherent theology against two people of the same sex having sex together. David Runcorn sets it out perfectly. That’s why I believe that at all costs we need to respect the consciences of people who embrace that theology. There are plenty of people who present theological counter-arguments. But our present impasse is not going to be resolved by one group convincing the other – that simply isn’t going to happen. Rather, the key issue and question, is: how do we accommodate these conflicting views and theologies? How to we disagree well? How do… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Kate,
I would have thought that, once you get over the idea that same sex relationships are sinful, every argument for straight marriage is also one for gay marriage. Marriage is marriage, after all.

Dennis Roberts
Guest
Dennis Roberts

Kate, may I suggest Fr. Tobias Haller’s book, “Reasonable and Holy”? I see that it is available on amazon, but I won’t post a link here because I believe links don’t work in comment posts.

Fr. Haller participates in comments here at TA and perhaps he can point you to other resources.

Stephen De Silva
Guest
Stephen De Silva

Kate – I suspect “theological soundness” will depend on where you are starting from. For where these 32 are then I think making any case would be an impossibility. That’s their point, isn’t it? However I and many others think Jeffrey John’s “Permanent, Faithful, Stable” (new edition) makes the case.

Copyhold
Guest
Copyhold

Kate, you might look at the report of the Marriage Canon Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada

http://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/Marriage_Canon_REPORT_15Sept22.pdf/cogs/cmc/submissions/

David Runcorn
Guest

Erika Not quite. Writing as carefully and sensitively as I can …. there are a number of evangelicals, and some beyond, who whilst fully supporting and wanting to bless faithful, committed, lifelong same-sex unions want to keep the word ‘marriage’ for what is distinctive about heterosexual union. Equal but different. They know the law out there has changed and that this is probably exasperating for many watching. But this is part of what this debate involves for them. I have civil partnered friends who feel the same actually. They are not happy calling their union ‘marriage’ and feel there is… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Kate, there are indeed many theological arguments against same sex marriage, but no sound ones. Reading the Bible ‘literally’ (i.e interpreting it in a particular tradition) is not a theological argument, much less a sound one. Some theological arguments for equal marriage can be found in Adrian Thatcher’s God, Sex and Gender (10.1.3 and referring back to 6.2ff) but I doubt it is available on line. If by ‘sound’ you mean, one that conservatives will accept, then the answer is obviously ‘no’ because the theology of someone like Thatcher would not be recognised as such by a conservative (just as… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

We debate “Who is right? Who is right? Who is right?” We have been debating it for decades now. And in the process we are wounded. To the outside world, our debates seem barren. But perhaps the problem is, we’re not asking the question that really needs to be asked. And because we’re not asking the question, we are not healed. And the question could be: “How can I love? How can I open my heart to love? How can I open my heart to the healing my church so badly needs?” On either side of the valley, different parties… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

Kate, I know nothing about the legal requirements for marriage in England. The legal requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the English speaking world. And, contrary to much popular thinking, many of them do not require “consumation” to make the marriage legal. For example, in California (where I live), the only legal requirements for marriage are (1) consent, (2) a state-issued license, and (3) a “solemnization” of some sort. “Consumation” is not required. A “physical incapacity” for “entering the marriage state” that (1) exists at the time of marriage and (2) is “incurable” makes the marriage “voidable” in California.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Kate,
Marriage is not “subject to annulment if not consumated”. Non-consumation makes a marriage voidable (not void!) if, and only if, one of the partners could reasonably have expected for it to be consumated and have been misled or if neither party ever intended the marriage to exist.
If, for example, someone marries a disabled person and knows in advance that sexual intercourse is not possible, the marriage cannot be annulled on the grounds of non-consumation.

The circumstance is today largely used to annul sham marriages for purposes of illegal immigration.

copyhold
Guest
copyhold

The link appears to be broken.

This one works

http://www.anglican.ca/about/ccc/cogs/cmc/submissions/

Can you correct the original post (at 6:53 pm)

Kate
Guest
Kate

The Marriage Canon Commission Report is certainly interesting and takes an approach I had not seen before, in particular how it approaches Genesis. It was good to see Genesis addressed so fully since this is probably the most important Scriptural material on gender, sex and marriage, being the material referenced by Christ. The distinction between companionship and marriage is familiar but the distinction between Adam and male humans is novel and I must reread Genesis to consider this properly. Perhaps the most important section IMO is the suggestion that Anglicans embrace a threefold understanding of Scripture combining the text with… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Erika
Thanks for the correction but I think the point remains that marriage is as you say voidable until consummated (which is the historic teaching of the Church of Rome for instance too) so it is the physical act which makes the indisoluble Union.

Kate
Guest
Kate

David (Runcorn), perhaps because I have only relatively recently come to support same sex marriage, I recognise that recognition of a relationship as a “marriage” is a key issue for both sides because it is the (translation of) the term used in Scripture.

Susannah, yes love is at the centre of this but for conservatives that means love for the Lord and consequently fighting to ensure that His church upholds His teaching (as they see it), pretty much the point David is making.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Kate, To your clear scripture, I would respond with this clear scripture, “Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Now, it is clear that the conservatives are putting a stumbling block of a rather large and severe nature before GLBTI with no clear warrant other than readings of Jewish ritual law and *extremely* dubious views of… Read more »

Nigel LLoyd
Guest
Nigel LLoyd

A different theological perspective was expressed by a man, who at that time was my bishop. Visiting a hospice for gay men who were dying of AIDS (in those early days) he said. “In the love I have seen, given by those men to their dying partners, I have seen the face of Christ”. For me, promoting, encouraging and supporting relationships that show ‘the face of Christ’ (which must include blessing them) is where the focus of our theology should be. Starting from this point, there is plenty of biblical material to be found, which can take us on to… Read more »

mdav
Guest
mdav

Some of the most godly people I know are gay. And married. I see the Fruits of the Spirit in the way they love and serve me and those around them. These are devoted followers of Jesus. And they challenge me to be a better follower myself. If there is no clear prohibition against gay marriage or relationships in the NT, why should not these individuals be able to marry? The prohibitions we get in the NT vis-a-vis homosexuality are in the context of letters to particular churches for particular, peculiar instruction in the first century BC in a very… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Kate,
no, that’s not what the definition means, because non-consummated marriages are also valid (voidable, not void).

You could say that, in some circumstances, a non-consummated marriage can be annulled.
That’s like saying that in some circumstances, such as infidelity, marriages can end in divorce.

These marriages will be 100% valid until their annulment/divorce. And if a betrayed partner does not file for divorce, the betrayal itself does not invalidate the marriage.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David Runcorn, I know that not everyone accepts arguments for marriage equality. That does not invalidate those arguments per se, it just means that they are not persuasive to all people. Many gay people, as well as many feminists, don’t like marriage because of its patriarchal history. That is not an argument against marriage as such, even if it is a perfectly understandable reason for individual couples. I remember a long conversation about marriage equality with someone who was grappling with this issue and who was very much of the “equal but different” persuasion. They changed their mind when it… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree with Nigel. I believe we need to recognise the presence of Christ in the loving, caring relationships of people. Those relationships that sanctify lives and open up faith to the commitment, covenant and fidelity of God. As a nurse, death is familiar to me. I had 17 deaths this past winter. Do we seriously think – in final illness and point of death – that what we believe doctrinally (our doctrinal purity) is what most people need? They need love. They need someone to hold their hands, to meet their practical needs, to be a presence beside them.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

We are called, beckoned, invited to open our lives to the unity and communion of the holy Trinity – the true meaning of love and relationship in all eternity. There, we shall find unity. And though we all come before God in diversity and adversity – like the dying woman or man, in the end what we are really called to, what we come down to, is not moral righteousness and doctrinal purity… not ‘Who is right?’… but ‘Can we find love, and open our hearts to love, even love of our enemies, love of people who are different to… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Erika
No. If the church accepts – and that is what matters not secular law – that at least some marriages can be voided or annulled because of non-consummation then clearly two only become one flesh upon consummation because otherwise annulment wouldn’t ever be possible.

(Mark, sorry to answer comments out of sequence. I wrote a reply to you but lost it and will redo later on.)

Daniel Berry NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry NYC

I’m a little puzzled by the expression, “Anglican Mainstream.” I didn’t know we had one, But if we did, I’d have supposed it had something to do with subscription to the Prayerbook. I’d also like to add that those leaning into biblical texts to justify their, uh, negative attitudes toward gay people are referring to texts and a code that sanctions genocide, unprovoked war-making and pillaging from your neighbors what you did not create or earn yourself. I’m referring not only to Leviticus, obviously, though (to make an understatement) plenty in that book ought to give decent people pause; but… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

David, personally, I have nothing against someone who doesn’t believe that two people of the same gender can marry (as opposed to blocking legal equality, which I strong disagree with), but this debate has passed. Marriage equality’s becoming the norm throughout the West, and “Equal but different” now has all the appeal of “separate but equal.” This time warp’s so disconnected from society it’s surreal. Why should any confident, self-resepcting young gay person want to join a church that acts like it’s still the 1970s, and expects LGBT people to accept what tolerance they’re given and be thankful for it?… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Susannah, for me much of what you write is what Genesis terms companionship rather than love. Sacrifice is often a key part of love for example. Since entering into a same sex marriage distresses so many of our fellow Christians, the loving thing to do is not to marry someone of the same sex. I don’t dispute that love is the crux. Of course it is. But since most marriages involve a degree of selfishness (isn’t this whole debate about people wanting to marry someone to whom they feel a sexual attraction?) I don’t personally feel that arguments based on… Read more »

lorenzo
Guest
lorenzo

Kate, I’d say this is because a relationship (or sex, or a covenant) does not suddenly become immoral simply because the gender of one of the partner changes. If it does, no one has convincingly been able to show me how or why.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“Since entering into a same sex marriage distresses so many of our fellow Christians, the loving thing to do is not to marry someone of the same sex.”

I cannot think of a worse reason for not marrying the person you love than because it might ‘distress’ some third party’s apparently fragile Christian faith. ‘Diddums’ or ‘Get over yourself’ are the correct responses to these easily-distressed souls, in my opinion.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Laurence, well said!

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

If someone feels that “… this whole debate about people wanting to marry someone to whom they feel a sexual attraction…” I can only say that they have missed most of what marriage is all about, by equating love with sex alone. Marriage is often – usually? – triggered by sexual attraction, but also by sympathy, shared loves, by feeling more alive with that person; and as marriage matures it becomes a platform for growth, maturing, mutual care… To reduce the desire to marry, to celebrate and confirm a lifetime commitment to love an honor, to experience the relationship of… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Anglican mainstream is anything that opposes women bishops and the gay agenda. you will find on every other issue, outside of the Holy Trinity, that they are totally at variance.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Laurence, the point is that an unfocused appeal to love each other does not get past the negative passages in the Bible. Mark, I promised you a response. Personally I think that passage in Romans is one of the planks in the argument for same sex marriage but the objections I have heard to it is that it is written about dietary choices and, without further work, it’s application to same sex marriage can be questioned. The key though is that it proves that OT prohibitions are not necessarily still in force but need to be assessed against a new… Read more »