Friday, 5 August 2005

civil partnerships: Akinola statement

A statement by Archbishop Peter Akinola has been published here on THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (Anglican Communion) website: A STATEMENT ON THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S RESPONSE TO CIVIL PARTNERSHIPS BY THE PRIMATE OF ALL NIGERIA

The first published copy appeared on titusonenine
A Statement on the Church of England response to Civil Partnerships by the Primate of All Nigeria

The email distribution came from Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream

Update The statement has now also been published by ACNS here

The text is reproduced below the fold. References in square brackets are to paragraphs of the pastoral statement.

I read with utter dismay the pastoral statement recently issued by the Church of England House of Bishops with regard to the Civil Partnership Act scheduled to come into force on 5 December 2005.

While I was pleased to note the reaffirmation of the Church’s historic teaching on both marriage and sexual intercourse [1], [4] I was sorely distressed that these words are not matched by corresponding actions.

The language of the Civil Partnerships Act makes it plain that what is being proposed is same-sex marriage in everything but name. This is even acknowledged in the statement [10]. I find it incomprehensible therefore that the House of Bishops would not find open participation in such ‘marriages’ to be repugnant to Holy Scriptures and incompatible with Holy Orders.

The proposal that the bishops will extract a promise from clergy who register that there will be no sexual intimacy in these relationships is the height of hypocrisy. It is totally unworkable and it invites deception and ridicule. How on earth can this be honoured? For the Church of England to promote such a departure from historic teaching is outrageous.

I also note with alarm that the statement encourages the church to ask nothing of lay people who become registered same-sex partners before they are admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion. [23] This not only dishonours the laity and the sacraments of the Church - it also makes it obvious that the bishops of the Church of England are proposing a deliberate change in the discipline of the church.

It seems clear the House of Bishops is determined to chart a course for the Church of England that brings further division at a time when we are still struggling with fragmentation and disunity within the Communion. Let it be known that it is not a path that we can follow. It is also a path that is clearly at odds with the mind of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

May I remind the Bishops of the Church of England that, when faced with similar decisions on the part of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, discipline was imposed. While I have great affection and respect for the historic role that the Church of England has played in all of our lives, no church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity and no church is beyond discipline.

I call on the House of Bishops of the Church of England to renounce their statement and declare their unqualified commitment to the historic faith, teaching and practice of the Church. Failure to do so will only add to our current crisis.

I am, by this statement, asking my brother Primates, their bishops and all the faithful in our Communion to remain calm in the face of this new provocation as we look forward to our next meeting. I also call on all those who cherish and uphold the integrity and sanctity of the Word of God to pray for our beloved Church.

–The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola CON, DD, Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 2:22pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

So this is real, then?

The fact is that the C of E has tacitly been supporting civil unions for the _laity_ ever since "Some Issues in Sexuality" was approved as a working policy under Archbishop Carey -- why no outrage over that?

If ++Rowan is Albus Dumbledore, is ++Peter then Severus Snape? What does it all mean? Where will it all lead?

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 4:04pm BST

I've been having a dialogue with Karen B. in the comments on titusonenine regarding one additional ramification of Archbishop Akinola's statement. The implications seem to be that _Issues in Human Sexuality_ will be rejected by the CAPA/CAPAC churches. Gay and lesbian people are likely to be denied the Sacraments in CAPA/CAPAC/Network churches.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 4:08pm BST

Um, yeah.

"May I remind the Bishops of the Church of England that, when faced with similar decisions on the part of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, discipline was imposed."

I was wondering about this. I vaguely remember the CoE being quite traditional on matters to do with ECUSA, a few months ago.

"While I have great affection and respect for the historic role that the Church of England has played in all of our lives, no church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity and no church is beyond discipline."

Why doesn't he have respect for the fact that others are entitled to read Scripture differently from how he does? Who made him judge over the CoE? Doesn't he have better things to be doing in Nigeria and Africa than worrying how the rest of the world is shaping up to his moral code?

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 4:21pm BST

This really does serve notice on the Anglican Communion as we know it. I realise that for many people, this will be sad and regrettable. For me, its what I have been hoping for and expecting. I cannot see any way that the writer of views such as those expressed above, and those who wish to see the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church, can ever be reconciled.

Akinola also seems to be unsure of the current arrangements in the church which allow laity in gay relationships to be communicant members of the CofE (and indeed, do anything except be ordained). This is not surprising, since the letter has no doubt been drafted by a conservative pressure group, and their position is that the 1987 position which was much more negative than 'Issues' should be referred to, as it doesn't include the 91 concession. He needs to be aware that the current CofE practice, which I think is broadly accepted, is not in line with his view.

Think - a CofE without those who think like Akinola may even be a church worth belonging to. It certainly won't be Anglican witrhout the CofE! As inadequate as the bishops statement was, it was all that could be produced in the current climate without making the sort of changes which I believe are needed to bring an inclusive Church.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 4:25pm BST

Charlotte, I'm always glad to converse with you on T19, (and do apologize that my life got too hectic back in June to continue that one dialogue), but please don't think I'm anyone with any power to determine (or inside knowledge about) what Primates or other leaders will do.

Any statements I make on T19 are purely my own opinion as an ECUSA laywoman.

I do *personally* think that in hindsight the CoE Issues paper has been revealed to have a significant flaw in terms of granting the laity the freedom to sin(as I see it). However, my concern over that document in no way signifies that I think gays and lesbians should be singled out for special scrutiny. Rather I wish that there would be a broader re-examination of the thelogy and practice of Eucharistic discipline within the church and a call to ALL believers, lay and clerical to examine their lives according to the Scriptures. "Don't ask don't tell" is NOT a Scriptural policy, and yet that seems to be exactly what the CoE Issues paper endorses.

Posted by: Karen B. on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 4:44pm BST

Charlotte wrote: "Gay and lesbian people are likely to be denied the Sacraments in CAPA/CAPAC/Network churches."

Which, I assume, was the plan all along. Although why on earth a GLBT person would subject themselves to a "CAPA/CAPAC/Network church" is quite beyond me.

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 5:26pm BST

Karen ; no, I would say that Issues understands that there are gay people, and indeed, other Christians, who hold a different view than the 'traditional' one, and thet there are gay people in relationships who are openly gay and attend their Churches.

I don't personally like 'don't ask, don't tell', I am a gay man in a relationship, and would not wish to attend a congregation where we weren't accepted.

I concur with David Huff's last point - why would an openly gay couple choose to place themselves in that position? I only became an Anglican in the knowledge that it had a liberal and affirming wing and there were churches where we would be accepted.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 8:08pm BST

Merseymike wins the price for being a single issue person. My guess is that whatever is the topic (even sports, arts, trade politics etc.) he will still sing his mantra "the traditional Christians in C of E will leave the show to us (revisionists)!!". Sorry mike, the traditionalists will use all the practises and constitutions to defeat revisionism and restore our Church to Her inherited faith!

Posted by: pga on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 8:52pm BST

But the traditional Christians, as you put it, are, according to Akinola, Malango, and conservative websites such as Virtue Online, planning something different.

If you do not wish to move with them, then that is your choice, but it is clear enough that there are stirrings afoot which suggest major realignment.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 10:06pm BST

News flash: The Christian Church, in virtually all its manifestations, has always held (until recent decades) that notorious and unrepentant sexual sinners must eventually, if they persist, be put out of the Church and denied its sacraments. (See, e.g., 1 Cor 5, where the sin was incest, and 1 Cor 11, which says that no one should receive the Eucharist unworthily.) The Christian Church, in virtually all its manifestations, has always held (until recent decades) that any sex outside the lifelong monogamous marriage of one man and one woman is serious sin.

All this huffing and puffing--"Can Akinola REALLY mean this? Can he POSSIBLY suggest even that non-celibate 'gay' people be denied Communion?"--is most disingenuous, or astoundingly naive. Of course he can and does mean that. It's what Christians have always believed (until the day before yesterday).

People can of course reject that traditional view, and can lobby for liberalizing reforms; but they can't be taken seriously if they affect shock that some Alien Theology is threatening a longstanding pan-sexual Christian consensus. Hardly.

Attention Same-Sex Advocates: You are not the status quo. You are the change agents. You are the revolutionaries.

Posted by: DGus on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 11:02pm BST

"Attention Same-Sex Advocates: You are not the status quo. You are the change agents. You are the revolutionaries."

Like Jesus was? Like the early Church was? Like Christians should be?

Semper reformanda,

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 11:56pm BST

But that isn't the current position of the CofE, DGus, and I don't actually think that even with its current constitution, a measure to withdraw the Eucharist from all gay people in relationships would be passed.

So, even the CofE has moved from what is according to your post, the 'traditional' view ( and given that gay relationships were against the law in the UK until 1967, it is hardly surprising that this has only become a major issue in recent years).

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 12:05am BST

Glad to see your post here, Karen B -- and I will remember that you and I are two laywomen, each with our own views.

I think the discussion we've been having needs to broaden out, in any case. It will be helpful if laypeople making up their minds can know what the CAPA/CAPAC/Network position is, or is likely to be, on a number of issues of interest to them, including issues of sexuality.

Dale Rye (same thread as above) believes that few "European or Europeanized Anglicans" (I believe that was his phrase) will accept a denial of the Eucharist to LGBT laypeople. Thus, he believes, if reasserters demand a communion-wide denial of the Eucharist to LGBT laity, the entire Anglican Communion will break up along roughly North/South lines. Clearly, though, there are some in the "Europeanized" churches who have been wishing that stricter discipline would be imposed on the laity in the area of sexual conduct. So here is an important area in which clarification might be needed, especially if CAPA/CAPAC/Network churches form a separate Communion.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 12:40am BST

Nadine: Hello.

I said, "Attention Same-Sex Advocates: You are not the status quo. You are the change agents. You are the revolutionaries."

You said, "Like Jesus was? ..."

I sense a faulty syllogism lurking here:

Major premise: Same-sex advocates are for change.
Minor premise: Jesus was for change.
Conclusion: Therefore, same-sex advocates are like Jesus.

Some smart person here will know the technical name for this fallacy.

But even if you had a valid point (respectfully, I don't think you do), it would be beside my point, which is simply this: Same-sex advocates must not pretend to be the victims of innovations and novelties; rather, they are the ones propounding innovations and novelties. --David

Posted by: DGus on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 12:41am BST

There was a time when the Christian Church, in all her manifestations, kept kosher laws.

There was a time when the Christian Church did not allow Gentile converts.

There was a time when she allowed slavery, and found no sin in one person owning another.

There was a time when she demanded that women remain silent.

There was a time when she insisted that the world was flat.

There was a time when she declared usury was a sin.

There was a time when she considered all divorces a sin, regardless of the circumstances.

There was a time when using birth control was a sin.

And all of these positions, and many others, were supported by scripture and tradition.

Personally, I think we should deny the bankers communion, being the notorious sinners that they are.

But let's not stop there; no sacraments for mixed marriages...purebreds only to the altar.

You must take an exam first, of course, administered by the ushers. We don't want anyone with the wrong beliefs sneaking up to the altar rail.

We live in bizarre times.

Posted by: Jake on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 3:36am BST

"The Christian Church, in virtually all its manifestations, has always held (until recent decades) that any sex outside the lifelong monogamous marriage of one man and one woman is serious sin."

And as oft as you assert it, DGus, I will reply that this is FALSE.

"lifelong monogamous marriage" was ASSUMED to be of "one man and one woman". There was NO repudiation of marriage between "one man and one other man" ("one woman and one other woman"), anywhere, ***UNTIL*** gay Christians rose up to "question authority" and claim marriage for themselves, the baptized.

(This is why the so-called "traditionalists" may best be characterized as *reactionary*)

I await w/ bated breath, the ABC's (and perhaps the ABY's?) response to +Akinola's tantrum . . .

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 7:40am BST

Let's hope that the ABC finally gets around to explaining to the bishop of all the Nigerias that he needn't assume the burden of trying to control the C of E. If he had only made this clear during the Jeffrey John troubles, we might all have been spared the agony of the past couple of years.

Posted by: dmitri on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 12:04pm BST

Jake,

There was a time when people in the church used their _minds_ to present an argument rather than arguing against straw men.

The Church, when confronted with serious cultural questions answers these questions by means of a Synod where issues are discussed and debated and by God's grace the Holy Spirit guides these deliberations. For example, the question of whether or not early Christians were required to follow Jewish dietary laws (a case you raise above) was decided at the Jerusalem Council - you can read about it in your Bible, Acts 15:1-29.

My point is that the interpretation of Scripture and discipline are determined by the Church. ECUSA was told repeatedly not to move forward with the Robinson consecration, but in a "prophetic" move she moved forward anyway.

ECUSA has chosen to remove herself from the Council of the Anglican Communion and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. ECUSA is a cult that has been pruned from the Vine. May God have mercy on those who have led the little ones astray.

Posted by: Hu on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 1:06pm BST

Hu ; that is, of course, also used as an argument against women priests, given that the Church in that context does not accept them either.

Personally, I think the entire concept of a universal and uniform church is bunkum and myth in any case. ECUSA did the right thing, and if it breaks up the Anglican Communion, all the better.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 2:15pm BST

What councils decided the issues of slavery, usury, divorce, or birth control? Either my limited mental capacity has caused my memory to fail, or there were never any such pronouncements made on these issues.

I do seem to recall that at the end of the Civil War, the Confederate bishops simply showed up for the next General Convention and were seated in the House of Bishops without comment.

A cult that has been pruned from the vine, eh? Pretty harsh chaacterization. Are you a member of ECUSA? If not, I'd suggest to you that it is quite difficult to understand our polity looking in from the outside. If you are a member, I'd suggest that you look towards Alexandria, as that appears to be your best option if your desire is to escape the mean, mentally challenged members of the Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Jake on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 2:53pm BST

Hu, not presuming to speak for Jake, who is well able to speak for himself, but: This is not about ECUSA or Canada any longer. It's about the Church of England -- at the moment. It will be about the Church of Scotland next, unless it's about Ireland, or Wales, or perhaps New Zealand, or South Africa, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Australia, or ... ???

Is the Church of England, in your view, merely one more "cult" to be "pruned from the Vine"? And how many other cults can you identify in the list above? Which of them will be next? And which will be left when you are done with your pruning?

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 3:10pm BST

But, Charlotte, this IS the real agenda - to strip the Anglican church of anything related to liberalism, if necessary setting up new structures in order to do this, and essentially creating a new 'Anglican' Communion.

I have said this from the start, and have been howled down for it. I am quite convinced that Anglican Mainstream exists primarily to enable this realignment in the Church of England.

I could be wrong. But I don't think I am.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 3:48pm BST

Charlotte, the pruning is already taking place and unlike what mike by the riverside and perhaps you thinks, it looks like the liberal/revisionists will be the ones who are cut off. Just wait and see what the Anglican Communion will look like and/or heading for after Lambeth 2008! I bet it will not go in the revitionists direction. Why don't you all make your life much easier and join the Metropolitan Community Church, where you will find all that you are shouting for?!

Posted by: pga on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 3:59pm BST

pga ; if Akinola and Malengo are to be believed, there will be no Lambeth in 2008!

There will be two Communions, one looking towards Canterbury, the other not. Tha Anglican Communion without the Church of England simply isn't Anglican - it is relationship to Canterbury alone which marks Anglican affiliation.

Both Akinola's statement and the press reports make it clear enough that he is more interested in affiliation to his brand of conservative theology than Canterbury.

However, I do think that a lot of grassroots members of the CofE have absolutely no idea that all this is going on, and will find the idea of being a small player in an African-led denomination rather hard to swallow.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 4:43pm BST

pqa: debating with Merseymike is not quite a dialog with the deaf but rather with the selective of hearing. Others have suggested he would be more at home in the Metropolitan Community Church but he sidesteps that with the assertion that Anglicanism has a place for 'liberals'. Yet he refuses to clarify what he *does believe, while dismissing some very central doctrines (e.g. about the transcendent God) as 'fairy tales' (his words).
I have put it to him that his faith is a kind of unitarianism at best but he refuses to affirm even the most minimal faith that would be required of a candidate for baptism, let alone confirmation or holding some lay office of responsibility in the Anglican Church. So what makes him a spokesman for Anglicanism?
I can only conclude that his purpose is political (promoting the social acceptance of homosexuality) rather than evangelistic concern for the kingdom of God. However, Mike can clarify his purpose and beliefs for himself just by speaking plainly to these questions.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 6:25pm BST

I have let the above comment pass, but wish to reiterate that this blog is not a place for ad hominem remarks by commenters about other commenters (or the blog owners for that matter).

Please ensure that all comments do relate to the subject matter of the blog item in some way.


Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 6:42pm BST

"May God have mercy on those who have led the little ones astray."

That's "astray" to the Way of the Cross, Hu (and then, by God's Grace, dwelling in the House of the Lord forever! :-D)

Back on topic:

"I am, by this statement, asking my brother Primates, their bishops and all the faithful in our Communion to remain calm in the face of this new provocation as we look forward to our next meeting."

The Provocative +Peter A speaks of "provocation"?? (Pot, meet Kettle)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 7:45pm BST

DGus: Your syllogism is not faulty as it stands. Similarity is established. (An assertion of identity would be the fallacy you refer to).

Hu: The Jerusalem Council affirmed several of the dietary restrictions, most importantly the ones governing the correct slaughtering of animals for human consumption and the koshering of meat. What later council authorized Christians to partake of meat without certification as to the method of slaughter, or that was not fully drained of blood by use of the appropriate methods?

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 8:44pm BST

What is this talk of cousels as though the church decides what is holy and what is not holy? It was Peter who had a dream that changed the view of both the dietary laws and the view of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles in the first place. Previously it would have been a break with the cleanliness laws to share a meal with Gentiles. And God said then, do not profane what I count clean. It was the Holy Spirit working that brought a new thing not based on scripture, i.e., the traditional viewpoint of that time based on scripture and practice. It was faith. It was believers dwelling in God and God in them and trusting in him. The question is, do you have sufficient faith to allow God to work something new in this world? Do you love God enough to hope that his will will be done on earth as it is in heaven? So, I ask you, if you do have faith, where did that faith come from? If you believe in scripture, then you believe that it was a gift as both Jesus and Paul taught. So, if you believe that faith is a gift and people are called to faith who you consider to be sinners, is that not evidence that the Lord has called them to that faith for a reason and it is not our will but his that should be done. Jesus said that he came to save sinners--I believe that means that he came to save us all.

A.

Posted by: Annie on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 9:22pm BST

Hello David/"DGus": I believe that the logical fallacy you wish to say I have engaged in is the one called a "false analogy." However, that claim by you is itself dependent on a logical fallacy, namely, that of the "strawman argument."

In all Christian charity, though, it is perhaps understandable that you did not grasp my point, as I was being intentionally rather succinct when I made it. So allow me now to elaborate:

You originally stated: "Attention Same-Sex Advocates: You are not the status quo. You are the change agents. You are the revolutionaries." And, in context, you (and other "traditionalists"/"reasserters"/etc.) implied that, *because* one is a "change agent" or "revolutionary" vis-a-vis the "status quo," the innovations proposed by one violate or contradict the "deposit of the Faith," the "Faith once delivered," etc.

Forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth, but I trust you'll agree that that *is* a standard assertion of the traditionalist camp, and it's how I read your references to the Church's traditional positions. This assertion then boils down to: Innovation/change/revolution are always per se contrary to the "Faith once delivered."

I then aimed to point out that Jesus and the early Church were themselves innovators, change agents, and revolutionaries, and that within Christianity there is in fact, from the very earliest days, a constantly resurfacing dynamic of not assuming that the faith received accurately reflects the core essentials Christ himself gave, that truly *are* the Faith once delivered. This dynamic of constantly needing to seek re-discovery of and return to the heart of Christ's teachings certainly surfaced during the Reformation (hence my reference to "semper reformanda"), and is visible as well in Christian abolitionists, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so on. (And Father Jake has delivered a quite valid litany of many aspects of the received faith that have been found by the Church to not truly form any part of the Faith once delivered.) Consequently, we can conclude that at least *some* "change agents" and "revolutionaries" accord with the Gospel when they challenge the status quo.

Thus, just because something is an innovation compared to 2000 years of Christian tradition and is proposed by "change agents" and "revolutionaries," it cannot logically be concluded, with nothing more, that it is therefore by very definition contrary to the true essence of the Faith once delivered. (And we can debate for hours as to what is in fact adiaphora and what is not, something over which reasonable minds and equally learned and faithful Christians can differ.) As Benedict XVI himself (!) has stated (or was it JP II?), it is not that the Gospel changes, it is that we over time come to understand the Gospel better.

Thus, any sense of dismissiveness and self-evident conclusion that doctrinal innovation (or, more accurately, "development") is inherently violative of the true essentials of the Christian Faith (or even merely suspect), would be unwarranted. Some change in received tradition leads away from the Gospel, some leads closer to it; only closer examination using our God-given reason (which, classically, can draw upon our experience) to interpret Scripture and tradition can tell which is more likely which, and at the end of the day (as well as at the End of Days), "by their works shall ye know them."

In agape,

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 9:35pm BST

"May God have mercy on those who have led the little ones astray."

Each time I read of Those-Who-Must-Be-Prayed-for-(Because-They're-Going-to-Hell) "leading astray" the "little ones" and the "little lambs," etc., in common "reasserter" jargon, I must confess to feeling that this type of language in effect infantilizes those who constitute the Body of Christ, the Priesthood of All Believers, and fails to acknowledge their God-given faculty of Reason.

I had not previously supported walking apart, but I'm increasingly with Merseymike; not only are there two different theologies and methods of scriptural interpretation here, there are two different approaches to even figuring out in the firs place how to *do* theology and how to evaluate methods of scriptural interpretation.

Let us with love for one another begin now to walk apart, and pray in all sincerity that we may yet one day walk together once again. May those who wish to cross the Nile to Alexandria have a safe journey, and may we who remain in a smaller Anglican Communion (with most of the CoE, CoI, Scottish Episcopal Church, Church in Wales, ECUSA, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Southern Africa, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia outside of Sydney, etc.) pray for *all* of Christ's Church -- not just those now within the current Anglican Communion -- to one day come together again as one, keeping in mind that we may well more easily find unity with some Methodists, Lutherans, Old Catholics, etc. before we can reunite with the soon-to-be-birthed "Akinolican Communion." Eventual unity may in fact be better advanced by a realignment now, along more logical lines than currently exist.

In sadness yet also hope and faith,

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 10:07pm BST

Simon: I recognize of course that this is your blog. I do not think my words were an 'ad hominem' criticism of Merseymike; I was simply noting that while he regularly states his dislike and repudiation of 'conservative theology', he never states what he actually believes himself, so there is no constructive engagement with him on matters of theological principle or the subject of a particular thread. Other contributors like matt, Charlotte or Deacon Tim are much more forthcoming about their beliefs, so some communication can happen here.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 11:03pm BST

David Huff writes:

> Although why on earth a GLBT person would subject themselves to a "CAPA/CAPAC/Network church" is quite beyond me.

Well, that may be; the question, as I see it, is what is an organization doing calling itself a church and not being welcoming? Is their god not big enough to accept all who come to him?

I find it interesting to contrast this Akinola person with the sentiment of "ubuntu" as witnessed in the afro-anglican conference (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001281.html), where I was heartened to see other Africans holding the communion together.

Posted by: Tim on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 11:44pm BST

Dear Nadine: Greetings.

Two points have been made here with which I disagree: (1) that Akinola is wrong, and (2) that Akinola is surprising the Anglican world with novelties. Your posts have addressed the former point; and, yes, I do very much disagree with you on that score (i.e., I believe that recent pro-homosexualist teaching does contradict the Faith once delivered). However, my posts really have addressed the latter.

This second point, which your posts do not really address--i.e., that Akinola is an innovator--is absurd. That's what I'm saying.

And I'm also saying: God bless you and yours. --David

Posted by: DGus on Saturday, 6 August 2005 at 11:46pm BST

Deat Tim: Hello. You say, "what is an organization doing calling itself a church and not being welcoming? Is their god not big enough to accept all who come to him?"

Of course everyone on both sides of the current controversies would agree that God accepts, and the Church must welcome, all penitents, no matter how serious their sin.

But does your church welcome, and does your god accept, persistently UN-repentant bigots, perpetrators of genocide, child molesters, serial killers? Of course not. And not because your church is not "welcoming" enough, or because your god is not "accepting" enough, but rather because God is holy, sin is sin, and justice is justice, and because those who love their sin more than they love God, and who refuse to repent and decline to be forgiven, cannot remake God and His true Church in their own unholy image.

We therefore can't decide what to do about a given controversy (now homosexuality, tomorrow who knows what) by careless affirmations of "welcome" and "acceptance", any more than we could decide them by careless affirmations of "rigor" or "self-denial". We consult God's word to know who He accepts, and what He requires.

Jesus said that, in the End, God will say to some, "Depart from me; I never knew you". Invoking the concept of "welcome" won't save the lost. --David

Posted by: DGus on Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 1:03am BST

Dear David:

You are quite right that you and I disagree regarding whether Akinola is right or wrong, and I suppose we shall just have to agree to continue disagreeing. I would like to mention, though, in case you do not already realize it, that the term "pro-homosexualist" is downright offensive to those of your Christian brothers and sisters who read and apply the same Bible as you, albeit we read it and apply it differently than you, and consider the levitical etc. proscriptions to be about as applicable to modern lesbian and gay people, their relationships, and yes, their sexual expression with each other, as the biblical injunctions against usury are to modern banking. For "reasserters" to refer to the "reappraising" view as "pro-homosexualist" is similar to if the "reappraisers" were to refer to the "reasserting" view as "pro-medievalist," "pro-premodernist," etc. (And "homosexual" for lesbian and gay people is as rightly offensive to them as "Negro" is to African-Americans -- for similar reasons.)

As to your second point, i.e., Akinola being accused of being an innovator, not only do my posts so far "not really address" it; they in fact do not address it or claim it *at all*. (And I'm not sure where anyone else makes that assertion in this thread either.) You are quite correct that that is absurd, but is it not too a strawman (at least as to my own posts)?

Far from being an innovator, he is an arch-conservative bent on preserving the tradition in exactly the same form as it was received in Nigeria from evangelical CoE missionaries, with zero openness to even considering any "innovative" developments in that tradition. No one I am aware of argues that he is not defending the tradition as he received it; rather, as I pointed out, some of us look at the history of the Church and of scriptural interpretation and hermeneutics, and consider his defense of the tradition as received to be akin to that of those who once defended against "usurious" innovations, etc etc etc. Again, we do not consider that the living heart of the Faith once delivered -- as it was delivered by Jesus Himself -- is necessarily synonymous with all of the tradition as we have received it.

In agape,

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 2:34am BST

"...we who remain in a smaller Anglican Communion (with most of the CoE, CoI, Scottish Episcopal Church, Church in Wales, ECUSA, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Southern Africa, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia outside of Sydney, etc.)..."

Sorry, Anglican Church of Canada; certainly didn't intend to leave you out! :^)

Anyone have any idea where the Churches of North India and South India are likely to wind up: Alexandria or Canterbury?

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 3:06am BST

"> Although why on earth a GLBT person would subject themselves to a "CAPA/CAPAC/Network church" is quite beyond me."

Interesting: it seems to be assumed on both sides of the debate in this blog that only GLBT people can have an interest in inclusivity. I can speak for the USA only: that is emphatically not the case. The suggestion that those of us in favor of inclusivity head off to the nearest Metropolitan Community Church reveals a profound ignorance of the social attitudes prevalent among educated people in the United States at this time. This sort of ignorance is, however, prevalent among reasserters, and that is why the reasserter movement will fail.

But why attend a Network church? Some of you are forgetting what a large nation the USA is, geographically. Let me give you my own situation as an example.

It happens that jobs in my field are hard to get; thus, for job-related reasons, I now live in the Diocese of Central Florida, which is a Network diocese in the USA. I am not happy about this, but short of getting another job in a less hidebound diocese, I haven't got much choice. For a time I was attending a church one diocese over; it took me two hours to drive there, and two hours back each Sunday. Eventually I found a non-Network church in the Diocese which is only an hour away (on bad country roads), and this is the church I currently attend, when I can, the price of gas being what it is. So far, in the year I've been attending, I've had one potentially lethal accident. Another Sunday, I found the way to church blocked by someone else's fatal accident.

Well, it's not exactly the Persecution of Diocletian, you know, but it is deucedly inconvenient.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 4:34am BST

Nadine, why do you find the terms 'pro-homosexualist' and 'homosexual' offensive? (There are, by the way, still a lot of us who have never liked that fine old adjective 'gay' being co-opted and then overwhelmed by new usage.) I thought the word 'homosexual' was completely neutral, while 'pro-homosexualist' describes an ideology that is more or less clear. I don't think any evangelical would, however, accept being called 'pro-medievalist' for the simple reason that (in the terminolgy of the 18th and 19th century writers who popularized the terms), the Reformation marked the end of the so-called 'Middle Ages' and a breach with much of its hermenuetical tradition. That said, there is a great deal to be said for the Christian writers and thinkers of the 'Middle Ages', like Thomas, Duns Scotus, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis etc, and I should be happy to be associated with such eminences. Thomas in particular has much to say about natural law and its coherence with Scripture.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Sunday, 7 August 2005 at 8:05am BST

Nadine --

"Anyone have any idea where the Churches of North India and South India are likely to wind up: Alexandria or Canterbury?"

From what I've heard, I believe that the Asian churches are likely to go with Akinola -- the religious discrimination they face is already intense -- they are losing people to the Pentecostals -- it is likely that they will take counsel of their fears (although I could be wrong & I expect that the C of E's relationship with the Mar Thoma Church to be unaffected).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 11 August 2005 at 4:06pm BST

Charlotte,

Now you know what it's been like for the rest of us for many years. And the price of fuel in the UK is about $1.72 a litre.

Posted by: Catholicus on Thursday, 11 August 2005 at 4:35pm BST

I can sympathize with Charlotte's predicament, living in a "Network" diocese myself (Dallas). When we first moved to the D/FW area, we attended the (in)famous Christ Church Plano, since it was only 5 or 10 min from our house. That paled rather quickly, esp. after the Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2003 when the rector labeled people like me "apostates" from the pulpit and got a standing ovation for his trouble.

We now attend a lovely and truly *Episcopal* parish down in Dallas proper, and are lucky enough to only have to drive 20-25 min to get there. But there are only about half a dozen non-Network parishes avail in our city - which can be a problem for someplace as large as Dallas. Regular, mainstream Episcopalians don't always know how to find them, as our diocesan office certainly isn't going to help them in that regard.

Posted by: Simeon on Thursday, 11 August 2005 at 6:54pm BST

As a public service, I offer this synopsis of one strain of the recent comments, lost in the Great Disruption:

Simeon: I wish you conservatives would admit that we liberals are good, faithful, committed Christians.

DGus: And what would that term mean?

Abigail: A rhetorical trick!

Simeon: Admit it--you're just saying we're not good Christians.

DGus: Sadly, you're NOT good Christians, but that's NOT what I was saying.

Merseymike: Same to you but more of it.

[Imagine if all this had been LOST! It makes me shudder to think of it.]

Posted by: DGus on Thursday, 11 August 2005 at 8:27pm BST

Nadine: there is no possibility of the CSI and CNI - or the Churches of Pakistan and Bangladesh - siding with revisionist/reappraiser theology. Liberal theology is more commonplace in Sri Lanka but this, too, is giving way to a growing evangelicalism. The pressures of resurgent Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism have had the effect of clarifying issues for Christians away from the kind of syncretism more associated with URI. South Asians understand what conversion means and what it costs - often enough, a person's life.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Friday, 12 August 2005 at 1:37pm BST

"DGus: Sadly, you're NOT good Christians, but that's NOT what I was saying."

David, I thought our esteemed host had requested we lay off the personal attacks. Go ahead and disagree with folks as much as you'd like - but to call someone a "bad Christian" on a site like TA is most assuredly an ad hominem remark...

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 12 August 2005 at 6:49pm BST

Whatever their theology, it's most unlikely that the Asian churches will sign up to a communion led by a black man. This is one of the weaknesses in Akinola's position that +RW exploited earlier in the crisis.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Friday, 12 August 2005 at 7:14pm BST

Why not, Andrew?

Posted by: Vincent Coles on Saturday, 13 August 2005 at 12:17am BST

Dear D. Huff: I'm sorry it's not clear I was being silly. Maybe you didn't read the posts (including my own) that I was lampooning here. The humor (if any) surrounded the fact that I had been pressing for some careful thought about what makes a "good Christian", and trying to suggest that the term must have meaning and can't be applied to just anybody, while trying not to appear to set myself up as the Judge--but I probably looked judgmental anyway.

I guess you had to be there. And maybe that wouldn't even help. --David

Posted by: DGus on Saturday, 13 August 2005 at 6:29am BST

Andrew, do you mean that the Asian church leaders are prejudiced against black Africans as leaders?

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Sunday, 14 August 2005 at 5:25pm BST

I hope not, as that would be an unnecessary and childish distraction.
There are historical reasons for Asians in some cultures looking askance at the black community - e.g. preference for the native blacks in assigning higher-education places in certain parts of East Africa, even despite the Asians often demonstrating superior entrepreneurial skills.
Memories of their treatment under Amin etc are a further factor.
And of course the Asians are proud of their superior family stability. They are unlikely to accept moral submission to a culture they see as demonstrating inferior morality.
(Just as Muslims are thoroughly underwhelmed with being dictated to by a country with the moral record of America.)
But this is just to take the example of African Asians: a culture that pits Africans and Asians side-by-side.
But if we are talking of SE Asians, any prejudice here may well be based on ignorance.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 15 August 2005 at 12:01pm BST
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