Thursday, 14 December 2006

InclusiveChurch replies to "covenant"

Press Release

1.0 Conservative Evangelicals are clearly trying to create a defining moment for the Anglican Communion. The declaration by the Anglican Church of Tanzania separating itself from all who ordain, who are, or who support homosexual people, together with Reform’s “Covenant” are the next stages in the rolling out of a strategy which will, if allowed to proceed destroy the Anglican Communion.

2.0 We are seeing the development of a long term plan developed by various people on various continents which is intended to bring the Anglican Communion out of its historically generous and open position, into a narrowly defined, confessional group of churches rooted in the religious right of the United States and extending from there across the world.

2.1 We understand that the Tanzania declaration was produced at the behest of others with the specific aims of undermining the Presiding Bishop of the United States, challenging the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and derailing the moves towards an inclusive Covenant which the Communion is beginning to make. It is a deliberately incendiary move. The intention is to pre-empt any decisions the Primates’ Meeting in February might make so that elements from the Global South and disaffected elements of the Episcopal Church rebels can proceed with their plan to set up an alternative Communion.

3.0 Reform’s “Covenant” brings this strategy into England. The authors of the “Covenant” (all male, all white) and their cohorts are, simply, using the politics of the playground, issuing financial threats and huffing and puffing in an attempt to bring the Church of England into line. The most cursory reading demonstrates a startlingly inadequate ecclesiology and a deep misunderstanding of the role of bishops. They are showing increasing militancy and becoming more and more vocal, because those of us who support the orthodox, historic and open tradition of Anglicanism are, unexpectedly, refusing to lie down and be trampled on.

4.0 Underlying all this is an obsession with homosexuality which flies in the face of human understanding, of natural law and of the Gospel; fundamentally, the labelling of homosexuality as “intrinsically sinful” offers the only chance for unity that these groups can find. It means that Biblical scholarship is distorted to justify the anathematising of homosexuals, and that the Gospel is reduced to a message where the rejection of lesbian and gay people lies millimetres below the surface.

5.0 InclusiveChurch has always, from the beginning, tried to be open to those with whom we disagree. We have sought meetings with conservative groups, and have tried to ensure that the breadth, generosity and openness of Anglicanism is extended to those who would reject that breadth and generosity. But we find that these groups, in the end, do not wish to engage. They wish to set up a separate structure which will keep them safe from taint. In the first place, the taint of homosexuality. Beyond that, the taint of women as bishops (or indeed as priests); and beyond that, the risk of change.

5.1 InclusiveChurch is committed to orthodox Anglicanism, which preaches the gospel of the liberating love of God. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free. Nowhere in the statements of these conservative groups and churches do we hear of the boundless love of God. The theology of the Reform “Covenant” bears as much relation to Anglican theology as that of Calvin and Zwingli did to Hooker and Andrewes.

6.0 We ask the people of Reform: “Why do you not have the courage of your convictions and leave the Church of England altogether? When your actions and your statements display so clearly your wish to distort the church of the Elizabethan Settlement, the Protestant revival, the Oxford Movement and the innovations of the twentieth century, why do you not simply realign yourselves with other churches? Why do you want to remain Anglican if that Anglicanism is a travesty of the gift we have been given?

The logic of your statement is you should secede from the Church of England altogether, not have it restructured to accommodate your narrow views of who may or may not be an Anglican. Inclusivity is written into the title deeds of the Church of England and we ask you to respect it.

But if you leave, you may not take the name “Anglican”; for the church you create will not be an Anglican church.

6.1 Or, if you wish to remain in the Church of England, then remain in the knowledge that we are all required, in love, to engage with each other. We inclusive Christians undoubtedly have a great deal to learn from you; we all, undoubtedly have a great deal in common. Stay in the knowledge that engagement will bring about change. And that God speaks not just to you but to others as well. And that all our understanding of God’s will – yours and ours – is flawed, because we are all flawed.”

7.0 We say to the senior hierarchy of the Church, to Archbishops, Primates and senior staff of the church: “Enough is enough. This squabbling needs to be brought to an end. There is no justification for a Bishop from the province of Nigeria exercising jurisdiction in the United States. There is no justification for Alternative Episcopal Oversight or Extended Primatial Oversight or any other terms used to cloak intolerance. There is no way a province can declare itself to be “out of communion” with another province. We ask you to say to the rebels, whether they are provinces or parishes - ‘leave or engage: if you engage, respect the structures: and listen to the spirit as it speaks to the whole church’. This bullying and hectoring must cease, so that the Gospel can be proclaimed anew. If that means that this generation oversees a split in the Communion, so be it. We trust in God for the future of the Church.”

8.0 To laity and clergy throughout the Communion we say: “You are the future. The Gospel we have been given lies with you to pass on. Are you willing to allow that Gospel to be distorted and broken, to allow the Communion to be torn into something it is not, for the sake of a concept of tradition, biblical truth and God which is exclusive and condemnatory? Are you willing to allow the Communion to go the way of all sects, into marginal oblivion?

We need, all of us, to speak, to pray and to love. We need to seek ways to engage with those with whom we disagree, in worship, in prayer and in our daily lives. We need also to engage with all the structures of the Communion – the Instruments of Unity, Synods, Bishops and officers, making our passion and our commitment known.

But, in the end, we need to be willing to say to those who would undermine the Gospel we proclaim: leave, if you will. Taking your money with you. We are all diminished by division but if division comes, so be it. God’s love will not be constrained.”

Giles Goddard: Chair, InclusiveChurch
St John of the Cross: December 14th 2006
original press release here, and continued here.

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Comments

These are very serious allegations--especially 2.1.

I cannot imagine that this would be said in public without clear supporting documentation. Where is it, please?

Posted by: Derek the Ænglican on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 2:08pm GMT

Para 4.0 says, "Underlying all this is an obsession with homosexuality which flies in the face of ... natural law." That's puzzling--unstated arguments in FAVOR of homosexuality from "natural law." Where would one discern this natural law? Nature teaches a rather un-homosexual message.

Para. 5.1 says:

+ that "InclusiveChurch is committed to orthodox Anglicanism". Why? And what could orthodoxy mean in this context?

+ that "Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free." Quite true. But he also came not to bring peace, but a sword; and to set father against son, etc.; and said that He will judge all mankind and will say to some "depart from me." Let's beware the selective Jesus.

+ that "Nowhere in the statements of these conservative groups and churches do we hear of the boundless love of God." This is simply untrue.

Posted by: DGus on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 2:32pm GMT

Please excuse me if I find the tone shrill and unhelpful. The overall tenor of this piece seems to prefer a religion called Anglicanism - which is sort of defined.
I thought that we were simply a branch of the Christian Church and in that Church Christianity is defined within certain parameters which we would call Apostolic. Therefore what is Anglican must be within those parameters. To take it beyond those parameters would suggest another religion. This is exactly the analysis of +Rochester and others. That is at the heart of the divisions that we are experiencing. It is not an obsession with homosexuality as the writer suggests, but a fundamental rejection to taking doctrine beyond the historically agreed parameters of what is Apostolic Christianity.

And then he tells us to leave! Hubris ad absurdum.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 2:33pm GMT

First of all, I have a general agreement with the position of the InclusiveChurch reply to Reform and Tanzania. However, it is stretched to the point where it is on two places at once.

It is saying it always has been inclusive, and then go if you will and take the money. These two points are unavoidable. But it has its own internal stretching.

It is making the point that (5.1) InclusiveChurch is committed to orthodox Anglicanism, defined as Jesus' social gospel and boundless love of God.

This is not going to convince those who define orthodoxy as doctrinal, and they won't regard this as orthodoxy at all. So why stretch and play this game?

Why not say instead that there have been theological developments that are a part of Anglicanism, that are liberal, that are part of being inclusive? Yes, there is this price of staying.

Then there is 6.1, the demand to be inclusive, saying of a great deal to learn "from you" and a great deal "in common" and to "stay" knowing it will "bring change". But they do not want change, do they? Inclusive types have read different theologies, stretched orthodoxies of old, and have altered understandings and taken on spiritualities (liberal anglo-catholics understand they are made from education and formation). Plus Inclusive types have compromised with these Puritans and near over and again. These other people, though, believe they have found it, need to maintain it, to be the pure doctrinal salt.

So let's stop the kidding. Theology has moved the goalposts, which is why Rowan Williams revised what he really believed when he took "the job", because he was at a distance. Perhaps it is time to recognise the distance, and affirm it, and stop playing the game according to the other rules. Honesty and integrity might therefore result.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 2:48pm GMT

The Inclusive Church reply is what I have wanted to hear, and tried to say, for some time. I recognise it as authentically Anglican and Christian. It restores my hope in the Church I was brought up in, and I pray that it will, this Advent-tide, put the incarnate God in Jesus back into our discourse, and wake us from the nightmare in which we have been eating our own church alive for too long.

Faith, hope, love these three. The love went. The hope flickered. Now let us have them back, all three.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:17pm GMT

Its clear enough that there are views and attitudes which are diametrically opposed and incompatible. Why can't we simply accept this and agree that we need to work within separate organisations?

Personally, I think 'traditional,apostolic christianity' has very little of worth to offer, but quite how that view can sit alongside others which regard it as literal, revealed truth is unfathomable.

Rather than calling upon one or other side to 'leave' , there needs to be a civil and respectful separation. Why can't this happen?

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:18pm GMT

Can’t you just feel the love oozing from the (presumably black and female) chair of InclusiveChurch? (Part of the problem with this broad alliance of evangelicals is evidently that this statement was prepared by white males.)

It may be inconvenient to some but we should remember that the gospel is actually exclusive. The gospel of Jesus Christ offends precisely because it does not, never has and never will be what the universalists claim: by definition, according to Jesus Himself, the Christian message excludes and it cannot be all-inclusive. An all-inclusive gospel is not the authentic gospel. Period.

Posted by: Neil Barber on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:26pm GMT

I welcome the Statement from IC (above) and am relieved, encouraged and grateful for it.

Surely this kind of thinking and that of Simon Butler;and Simon Morden and perhaps some of Fulcrum could bear fruit and point a creative way forward.

'the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind' *

(Father Faber, English Hymnal)

* How I wish I was. How I wish we were.
Anyone for Confession ?

Posted by: laurence on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:27pm GMT

By "we understand" we mean "we draw the inference from the number and speed of current events" or "our reading of the direction of recent statements is". Very happy to replace "we understand" with "it is probable that". If further evidence were needed, it's worth looking at http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid=5168

Apologies too if our tone is "shrill and unhelpful". I guess our reading is that the situation is very grave, and that the church we are part of with its tradition and understanding of the Gospel is under threat. We believe that strong words are necessary to emphasise the seriousness of the actions of those who would take the Communion elsewhere.

Agree, Pluralist, with your comments - but is that not an expression of "orthodox" Anglican polity and practice?

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:27pm GMT

Concerning 2.1 we in TEC have seen the work of the network to create a province X along with the Chapman memo as was a the creation of CAPA by Akinola. There may be no proof of the Tanzania but considering the track record of these people I could believe it.

Concerning this:
Para 4.0 says, "Underlying all this is an obsession with homosexuality which flies in the face of ... natural law." That's puzzling--unstated arguments in FAVOR of homosexuality from "natural law." Where would one discern this natural law? Nature teaches a rather un-homosexual message.

As a teacher of Special Education in a school of over 300 special needs students I truly believe that homosexuality is an alternative sexual orientation just as all people are not the same.
When you spend 5 days a week working with the various levels of autisim, down sydrome, Robertsonian translocation,Mosaic Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Rett's Syndrome and Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome you learn we're not all alike. We're not all the same, sexuality included.

Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome has a component that deals with sexuality. Cryptorchidism is a medical term referring to absence from the scrotum of one or both testes.

If sexuality is what divides us then maybe we should start distancing ourselves from all people who are not "normal."

Posted by: Robert Christian on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:28pm GMT

Ian Montgomery writes "I thought that we were simply a branch of the Christian Church and that Church Christianity is defined within certain parameters which we would call Apostolic."

Gee, what parameters are we talking of here?

What if those parameters were different in truth than what we have been led to believe? Do you honestly think that I am to accept the argument that all we know about Christ has been learned, therefore setting parameters that must not be changed?

I guess that is when I see photographs of worship services of certain sects where most of the people have their hands in the air, as like a child in grammar school that is straining to capture the teacher's attention and say in effect, "Pick me! I have all the answers!"

Tu est absurdus.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:47pm GMT

Both the Reform statement and Inclusive Church's reply seem to suffer from corporate amnesia. The Church of England I knew as a young person was tolerant without having some form of legislated or institutional recognition of diversity. Diocesan bishops regularly permitted retired bishops, many of whom had served abroad, to confirm and even ordain in Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical parishes where the Ordinary might not have felt comfortable or the congregation comfortable with the Ordinary.

Liberal bishops with liberal agendas are not something new. One thinks of Gore, Temple, Henson whose beliefs shocked conservatives of many stripes. I remember conservative evangelical bishops and Anglo-Catholic bishops who make present bishops from that tradition look terribly "liberal".

I think it true that our unhappy divisions are being deepened by lobbyists whose manner of operating resemble those of secular party political factions than groups inspired by Christian charity.

Posted by: Fr. Tony Clavier on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 5:10pm GMT

I want to add my voice to those who are relieved by the frankness, earnestness, and evident sincerity of the IC statement. Far from being "shrill and unhelpful", it is a rather sober and well-considered response to a very troubling moment. It is always distressing to admit that a union might be threatned by 'irreconcilable differences', but when I compare some of the statements on this page (passim Neil Barber and Ian Montgomery) with the Anglican tradition I love, I think separation - at least for the short term - is now inevitable. Bickering about which tradition is authentic (or Catholic, or apostolic, or whatever) just makes things uglier.

Posted by: Nova Zelandia on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 5:35pm GMT

Clarification question.
The statement above says...
"Inclusivity is written into the title deeds of the Church of England and we ask you to respect it."
Would someone be kind enough to point me in the right direction to see this for myself?

Posted by: Mike on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 5:41pm GMT

Robert, I think that's what we mean; natural law increasingly teaches us that sexuality is a spectrum. So the important thing is not how we're made, but how we live out the way we're made as humans.... The hope is always that we can move on from discussion of sexuality to discussion of God and the Gospel but so often the discussion is brought back to sex. That's why it appears as an obsession. So often it reminds of committees which get tied down on tiny issues while the bigger ones are ignored.

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 5:42pm GMT

Merseymike wrote 'Its clear enough that there are views and attitudes which are diametrically opposed and incompatible. Why can't we simply accept this and agree that we need to work within separate organisations?'

Neither Reform or Inclusive Church seem to have any intention of leaving the Church of England. The questions which remain are 'can they peacefully coexist?' and 'what structures are needed to facilitate that?'.

Posted by: Erasmus on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 5:44pm GMT

Marvelously ludicrous and absurd. However, my personal favorite is paragraph 6. I love the way "innovations of the 20th century" is positioned in the list of what constitutes Anglicanism (at least in the mind of the author). The fact that "innovations" are definitionally not part of the Apostolic faith, and that it is these self-same "innovations" that are the point of contention seems to escape the scrivener. Can anyone say--"Convicted out of his own mouth"?

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 7:12pm GMT

"If sexuality is what divides us then maybe we should start distancing ourselves from all people who are not "normal." Robert Christian

Where to start, where to start...the world is filled with the sexual complexities delivered by such grotesque folks as warrior rapists (MACHISMO MALE seekers of male or female/equal opportnity victims...afterall, rape *is* merely a "power" kinda thing has nothing to "do" with REAL sex because there is no homosexuality in Africa even though these fellas can't be considered "normal" by even +Orombi/Akinola standards...verdad?)...most sexual "mischief" makers are heterosexual everywhere/anyway just because of the number of heterosexuals in the world...did you know most of the 'perverts are heterosexuals too...however, homosexual sexual folks get more unkind press (except in the Bible).

We might start saying "adios" to some of the heterosexual Puritan morally "twisted thinking" extremists and try to help them unclog their emotional and spiritual sexual "loaded arteries" by leaving them alone (at last) to worship and work out their excessively "keen" interest in other peoples sexuality and their mission to torment/persecute others at the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

Personally, I'm thrilled to death (until death) that God made me the homosexual that God wanted me to be and he made me a Episcoalian/Anglian too!

Thanks be to God

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 7:27pm GMT

On the subject of "natural law", my take on that would be that we do not all have to be the same, that in animal or human groups different members can and do take on different roles. GLBT people are just the presenting issue for Reform et al - the line where they can get the most agreement for now. Although I'm straight, hearing the statements about "intrinsic disorder", and people not being allowed to make a choice which has no negative impact on others, inevitably reminds me of the hostile reactions I've often had as someone who remains childfree by choice and works in a role unusual for women. (OK, "choice" may not be the right word here, for something which feels so absolutely right or wrong, part of you or not part of you.)

I'm concerned that most of these groups' theology and practice seek to drive out a whole lot of people like me who are "orthodox Anglicans" in the sense that we can say the creeds without crossing our fingers, appreciate the history of Anglicanism being about exploration and tolerance and not infallible pronouncements, and are committed to using reason as well as scripture and tradition.

Posted by: Sarah on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 7:54pm GMT

Having read Giles' statement on behalf of IC, I find myself both relieved and fearful.

I am relieved because there is finally evidence that the Calvinist curse has not been visited ONLY upon our Episcopal Church! We know so little and hear so little from the C of E that I began to wonder if we alone had been chosen to suffer such slings and arrows. Thank God, you Brits are in it with us!

I feel fearful because I share with Giles the sense that this is massively important, and like most people, I do not see an easy way out for any of us. I am 74 now and remember when the issue was one of ritual, but I also know that "High Church" always meant that we had a deep respect for the Church, not for private preferences or predilections. And "the Church" for us had to be the Episcopal Church – we had no way to connect with or affect the rest of the Mystical Body. And I think of past happenings, like Edward Pusey and John Mason Neale accepting the inhibitions given by their bishops, simply because they were their bishops. And there were the Newmans and the Fabers who found it intolerable in the C of E and went elsewhere with their distaste and disagreement.

It is so hard for me now to see people, many of whom are spiritual descendants of those men, now setting out to harm the Church which birthed and nurtured them, turning to some non-Anglican invention of biblical literalism and whatever, trying to sidetrack the Church herself and striking out against her, apparently each one seeing himself as some new savior who will purify the putrid Church, no matter what the cost to themselves or anyone else.

It seems that the history of constant change and development in the Church has never stopped – nor has there ever been any shortage of those who wish to kill the vitality of that on-going change and maturation. Truth did not come to a full stop with Jesus' own teachings – He Himself told us that the Spirit would lead us into all truth. Do people think that the Holy Spirit of life-giving change retired after Pentecost? or in the 14th or 16th or 19th century?

As an old man, I have a sadness in knowing that this contretemps will probably not be settled in my lifetime, and that I can do little to affect the outcome. So I shall get back to my stall in the monastery chapel and leave it to God to work it out.

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 8:03pm GMT

Neil B wrote "It may be inconvenient to some but we should remember that the gospel is actually exclusive..."

My reading of the gospel is that Jesus fought against exclusionism. In fact, Jesus was more worried about the people who were excluded than those who were saved. e.g. Luke 5:30-32.

What is repentance? Embracing the exclusionist puritanical thinking that Jesus fought against? Or embracing faith in God and allowing God to be the judge and getting on with meting out true justice: showing mercy and compassion to one another.

And on the comments of historical edificacy. The universe laughs at you. You refer to the need to return to the "pure" days of scriptural teaching and deny there is any need to reform our theology.

You are no better that the 9-11 or July 7 bombers. The wellbeing of souls can be shunt aside for the sake of espousing your "pure" vision (e.g. closing welfare as it is interfering with the "core" mission of evangelizing or threatening to close youth support because you might have to be nice to "unworthy" souls). You demand submission and use intimidation and threats to get loyalty. What did you do to Rowan, told him that if he didn't grovel he would go on the academic black list and be unable to earn a dollar after he left his position as ABC? Unless he demonstrated he was "repentant" and offered up unworthies for you inquisition machine. How are you different to those who take hostages and "convert" them at gun point?

The world hasn't changed, so you don't need to change your theology?

The world has changed and your theology has made fools of all of you. Your theology is as irrelevant as any other extremists' theology and you will become the historical anachronisms that you should be.

God willing, spectacularly so that others repent and move towards the true justice of mercy and compassion. Which intrinsically entails and requires tolerance, respect, diversity and hospitality.

Bring your seed beds of hate to fruition, let the world see and taste of your fruits. One taste and they will spit you out and despise you as Edomites not worthy of having dust named after you.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 8:05pm GMT

'A plague o' both your houses!' Or more constructively, shouldn't all concerned be down on their knees begging God's forgiveness for the havoc being wreaked on his Son's body on earth? Indeed shouldn't we all?

Posted by: Stephen Wikner on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:20pm GMT

Erasmus ; I think the chances of co-existence are nil - so-existence is what we have now. It doesn't work.

There needs to be an acceptance that the CofE is not united and would be better formally split. I simply think its a question of how that happens not if or when.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:32pm GMT

“What is repentance? Embracing the exclusionist puritanical thinking that Jesus fought against? Or embracing faith in God and allowing God to be the judge and getting on with meting out true justice: showing mercy and compassion to one another.”--Posted by: Cheryl Clough

Right on, Cheryl! Thank the Lord that all Australian Anglicans are not Sydney Calvinists!

Posted by: Kurt on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:51pm GMT

Like Fr. Tony Clavier, I am puzzled why we cannot continue to disagree and pray together as in the past. But this seems no longer to be the case, regardless of the preferences of Fr. Clavier or myself.

Bishop Robinson has said consistently that he wanted to continue to be in the same church as Archbishop Akinola. Archbishop Akinola has clearly never agreed.

It takes two for reconciliation. The Fulcrum Evangelicals (if I may be permitted this shorthand reference) seem to be willing to talk about things. The Reform Evangelicals seem to have non-negotiable demands.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:54pm GMT

Oh, Merseymike:

I agree as always. The difficulty is that when push comes to shove the liberal response is always "you get out and leave us with all the goodies!" You can translate this terminology into something more high-blown and ethereal, but it comes down to the same thing -- our way or the highway! There needs to be some kind of willingness to seek a fair division of the patrimony of the church in England and the U.S. or there is going to be nothing but bitterness and chaos.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 10:32pm GMT

"A Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop of Uganda," so far available only on TitusOneNine, makes it clear that Uganda too is breaking with the Anglican Communion.

http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/p=16707

Two paragraphs give the flavor:

"I have been in consultation with the other Primates and Archbishops of Africa and the Global South about this crisis in our beloved Anglican Communion. We have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that we cannot sit together with Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February. We have also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite an orthodox Bishop from the Anglican Communion Network in America to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers. We await his decision on these matters.

"We are also praying about whether our House of Bishops should attend and participate in the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008. Every ten years, the Archbishop of Canterbury invites all the bishops of the Anglican Communion together for prayer and mutual consultation on matters of mission and our common life together as Anglicans throughout the world. The next conference is planned for 2008. However, the Archbishops of Africa and the Global South have received a report and a recommendation that we not participate in the next Lambeth Conference if ECUSA, and especially their gay bishop, are also invited to the conference. The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda has not yet made a decision about this, but I wanted you to know that we are praying and asking the Lord to give us the mind of Christ on this matter."

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 10:51pm GMT

I loved no 6.0: "We ask the people of Reform: “Why do you not have the courage of your convictions and leave the Church of England altogether? ....... Why do you want to remain Anglican if that Anglicanism is a travesty of the gift we have been given?"

Now, given that liberals like those in IC see the Church of England's official teaching about sexuality issues as oppressive and hated filled (That the only sanctified form of sexual partnership is life-long marriage, and that homosexuality and heterosexuality are not equally congruous with biblical teaching or with the order of creation/evolution - see "Issues of Human Sexuality" by the House of Bishops) and that liberals are generally dislike several parts of the faith that the church has received.... why have *they* not had the "courage of their convictions" and "left the Church of England altogether"?

Hypocritical ? or just worried about loosing control ??

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 11:04pm GMT

Its only when both sides actually stop talking about the other 'leaving' that we may get somewhere.

No one group is going to 'leave' voluntarily, so the answer has to be a split, where no one leaves byt two organisations are formed.

Both sides accuse the other of wanting to keep all the spoils. Steven, above, accuses liberals, others accuse evangelicals.

But both miss the fact that whilst this sort of row goes on, everyone loses

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 11:33pm GMT

Since the 'purple shirts' of several African provinces are afraid of contamination, were TEC's PB Schori to attend the Primates' Meeting in February 2007, why doesn't ++Rowan Cantuar put his foot down and cancel the meeting as well as Lambeth 2008. Rather than have unchristian primates make a spectacle of themselves to a secular world of throwing four-year-old temper tantrums, ++Cantuar could, by cancelling the meetings, create space for them to learn how to behave themselves. Why pander to their antics and give them a stage on which to perform in a shameful and disgraceful way as hate-mongering, gay-bashing and misogynist evangelical Christians?

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 11:50pm GMT

Why don't liberals leave the church? Liberals don't leave the church because they have the temerity to believe sincerely that they are Christians and have as much right to be there as conservatives. It's clear from the above discussions that some conservatives believe they have the right to say who is and who is not Christian (though left to themselves, we know they'd be excluding one another). Let's say an important person invites a diverse group of guests to a banquet (don't know where I got that one from). Some of the guests might have table manners that to others appear gross... What would the host's response be if some of the offended guests took it upon themselves to openly express their disgust for the ill-mannered ones? and then took it upon themselves to tell them they had no business being there? and then threatened to leave if the others didn't go? --Well, I think the good host would politely show the critics the door, and apologize on their behalf to the others.

Posted by: Brian on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 12:13am GMT

I'm puzzled by the gloating tone I read in some of the evangelical opposition postings; as though they expect to win something. I agree with Brother John-Julian above, I see this breakup of the Anglican Communion and of its constituent churches as a catastrophe. I can't see how anyone will be well served by this, even those who expect to be vindicated. In an increasingly volatile and violent world so sharply divided along sectarian lines, the end of Anglican comprehensiveness would be an irreplaceable loss. The holy men of the earth throw anathemas and human bombs at each other daily. It would be a terrible loss if that centuries-old model of people with deep disagreements on matters of faith and practice working together on common tasks and treating each other with at least a minimum of civility, was replaced by even more warring sects pushing each other into ever more rigid and extreme positions.

Posted by: counterlight on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 1:30am GMT

This statement needed to be made and it is perfectly correct, it seems to me.

It is the "equal and opposition reaction".

A clear case of stalemate.

So what do you do? Do both sides declare victory and walk apart in a huff? Do you throw the chessboard in the fire?

Or do you live together amicably united in the faith you share and agreeing to disagree?

WWJD?

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 1:56am GMT

The answer to Dave's question, why liberals do not leave, is because they never have except as individuals.

A key moment in this would be the Feathers Tavern petition of Theophilus Lindsey against clerical subscription to the thirty-nine articles (1771-72). Lindsey was a faithful vicar at Catterick, gave up his living and started the first named Unitarian Church in London when it was still illegal, based on Sameuel Clarke's Arian revision prayer book. He got his mate John Disney to be the second minister. What did not happen, and what he wanted, was for those who agreed with him to join him. They did not, and in the end Essex Church joined in the English Presbyterian stream, those once Calvinist Presbyterians who walked out in 1662, who later went Arminian and Unitarian, soon to be given an ideological and denominational boost by another mate, in the congregation at the opening, Joseph Priestley.

More up to date, liberals have wanted to be inclusive or with others who disagree (indeed even contemporary Unitarianism talks about diversity within, though it has been under less destructive bipolar strain for some time too). Secondly, liberals are thinkers and see a difference between liturgical symbolism and theological thought.

If the Church of England does divide into different Covenants the breaking point will be somewhere in the evangelical camp, and perhaps a few more traditionally minded anglo-catholics. It is the Fulcrum camp who will feel the heat, because theywill be torn between the liberals and radicals on the one hand, who do accept sexual diversity and theological change, and the dogmatists on the other who don't and want to protect their purity.

As in 1662 it is the specialist dogmatists who will leave, and not the compromisers which liberals have usually been.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 1:58am GMT

There are two fundamental reasons to remain progressive inside the larger embraces of historic Anglican leeway. One is love of God, and the other is love of neighbor. Following these centers of value as one seeks to live as progressively as possible is a fine way to follow Jesus of Nazareth.

Some progressive touchstones: Open-endedness instead of closure, Inquiry instead of prefabricated condemnations or judgments, Provisional best practice tool kits for discernment instead of categorical legacy absolutes, Democracy instead of the Divine Right of Monarchs, Apostolic authority flowing through the laity who call and discern the priests and bishops to special ministries instead of apostolic authority flowing from the top bishops on down, ... add in your own lived favorites from the list of Anglican vitamins for good spiritual health.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 4:29am GMT

Neil Barber wrote: “Can’t you just feel the love oozing from the (presumably black and female) chair of Inclusive Church? (Part of the problem with this broad alliance of evangelicals is evidently that this statement was prepared by white males.)”

Evidently – and no this is a narrow alliance, see what Fulcrum says in its “initial response”.

Neil Barber wrote: “An all-inclusive gospel is not the authentic gospel. Period.“

However, an exclusivist or self-serving one isn’t even a gospel, much less the Gospel.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 10:01am GMT

Pluralist wrote: “It is making the point that (5.1) Inclusive Church is committed to orthodox Anglicanism, defined as Jesus' social gospel and boundless love of God.

This is not going to convince those who define orthodoxy as doctrinal, and they won't regard this as orthodoxy at all. So why stretch and play this game?“

From Paul until the doctrinal orthodoxy of Calvinism, the Gospel of God’s righteousness in Christ was about God’s boundless love, expressed in his forbearance and out-giving of himself on the cross.

We were forbidden to judge eachother.

For 16th century theologians even Anselm’s much distorted satisfactio was all about God’s love, as you may see the Foreword to Philemon in the Swedish 1541 translation of the Bible:

Förspråk på S. Pauli Epistel til Philemon.

This Epistle presents a masterly sweet Example of Christian love, For here we see, how S. Paulus takes upon him the poor Onesimum, and pleads for him before his Master most lovingly, and does not put himself differently, than had he been the same Onesimus, who had offended.

Yet he doesn’t do this with violence and coercion, as he might well had, but lets go of his right and might, and speaks no more of it. Quite as Christ did with his father, so does Paulus with Philemo for Onesimo. For Christ also let his right go, and conquered his father with love and humility, that he must let go of his wrath and good right, and take us into grace for Christ’s sake, who so earnestly intercedes for us, and cares for us.

(you’ll find the Swedish on my blog for the 8th day of April – not that it will profit you very much ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 10:04am GMT

'Theophilus Lindsey against clerical subscription to the thirty-nine articles (1771-72). Lindsey was a faithful vicar at Catterick, gave up his living and started the first named Unitarian Church in London when it was still illegal'

I am grateful for this information. It is of great interest to me.

I think all any of us can (try to ) do is to keep faith with our truth as it unfolds, and seek to repect the journies and explorations of others.

Posted by: laurence on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 10:55am GMT

It is astonishing to me that Cheryl called Neil a terrorist at 8pm last night and the only comment since has been to agree with her.

"You are no better that the 9-11 or July 7 bombers.... You demand submission and use intimidation and threats to get loyalty.... How are you different to those who take hostages and "convert" them at gun point?"

It seems that the 'thinking' and 'liberal' anglicans who use this site have at least sympathy for her comments. Do you wonder why dioceses controlled by the 'thinking' and the 'liberal' sometimes leave evangelicals feeling unreasonably handled and wanting alternative oversight?

Posted by: Charlie on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 11:15am GMT

Giles Goddard writes that 'sexuality is a spectrum'.
I wonder how many societies have even had a word for 'sexuality' at all. I can't recall hearing the word until a few years ago.
Its origin is not hard to seek. For it is a short step from (1) introducing a word 'sexuality' to (2) proclaiming that all sexualities are equal. (2) is the presupposition and the raison d'etre of (1). Had there never been homosexuals wanting their own proclivity to be seen as equal (by what criterion? not productivity; not biological 'fit'), then I doubt the word 'sexuality' would have seen the light of day. Neologisms (or comparative neologisms) are the fruit of preexisting agendas.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 11:53am GMT

It seems that the 'thinking' and 'liberal' anglicans who use this site have at least sympathy for her comments writes Charlie.

That might be because "thinking" and "liberal" readers recognise hurt and the anger that springs from it, and don't use it as an opportunity for facile point-scoring.

Posted by: cryptogram on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 12:11pm GMT

Has the ABC not already made it clear in an interview that it is a mistake to think the church ought to be or sets out to be "Inclusive"?

Just write out all the words of JC - see how inclusive and tolerant he is for yourself.....

...please note, I said ALL his words, taking them all together - not just the "nice" bits but the tough truths he taught too (eg John3:36 for just one ref.....although I guess even some TA people think JC was ever so primitive and misguided for believing in hell etc!)

People need to have the whole truth about what JC said - nobody has the right to pick and mix his words to suit their agenda - his message is too important for that

Posted by: NP on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 12:18pm GMT

cryptogram wrote:

"That might be because "thinking" and "liberal" readers recognise hurt and the anger that springs from it, and don't use it as an opportunity for facile point-scoring."

So-called 'thinking' and 'liberal' commenters are quick to cry foul on the use of inappropriate and abusive language by conservatives but not of their own. Such language invariably comes out of personal hurt for both sides but should not be tolerated by any of us. Cheryl's post was inappropriate, unthinking and illiberal.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 12:21pm GMT

“It takes two for reconciliation. The Fulcrum Evangelicals (if I may be permitted this shorthand reference) seem to be willing to talk about things. The Reform Evangelicals seem to have non-negotiable demands.”--Posted by: Prior Aelred

I wonder if the former group consists mostly of Wesleyans and the latter of Calvinists? It would make sense to me, knowing what I know about both groups.

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 1:55pm GMT

“So-called 'thinking' and 'liberal' commenters are quick to cry foul on the use of inappropriate and abusive language by conservatives but not of their own. Such language invariably comes out of personal hurt for both sides but should not be tolerated by any of us. Cheryl's post was inappropriate, unthinking and illiberal.” Andrew Carey

Oh, please Andrew! Why don’t you stroll over to the SydneyAnglicans site and see that they do exactly the same thing!

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 2:12pm GMT

>>>I wonder how many societies have even had a word for 'sexuality' at all. I can't recall hearing the word until a few years ago.

According to the OED, the word has been in use since about 1800.

Posted by: JPM on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 2:19pm GMT

Everyone has the right to do exactly as they wish with the second-hand reported words of Jesus - all of which have a specific target and agenda!

Its the lack of being able to analyse the Bible in sociological rather than theological terms which has led to the continuation of something which is really well past its sell-by - 'traditional' Christianity, which, frankly, very few here in the UK believe any more. Have a look at Voas' research which shows very few hold to the traditional supernaturalist dogmas.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 2:29pm GMT

Being 'liberal' has nothing to do with 'anything goes', but recognising that which needs opposing in conservatism.

I'm glad to see tough liberals fighting back - enough of this fence-sitting 'tolerance'. I have no wish to tolerate conservative theology, which I regard as evil and harmful.

Liberals should stress the positives of what they believe and make it clear that they oppose conservative theological ideas root and branch. This would be best done in separate organisations

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 2:33pm GMT

NP worte: "... although I guess even some TA people think JC was ever so primitive and misguided for believing in hell..."

OT Sheol is not "hell", NT "gehenna" isn't either. So He certainly didn't.

"Hell" was not invented in his day.

"Hell" is an extra biblical development from Plato to Dante. Literature, not literalism ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 3:42pm GMT

"You demand submission and use intimidation and threats to get loyalty.... How are you different to those who take hostages and "convert" them at gun point?"

Pertinent question, in my opinion. I expect no answer.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 3:52pm GMT

Merseymike:

I'd like to agree that there is parity in attitude, but I don't see it. Conservatives say you're wrong, let's work out a legal separation or divorce with property settlement, etc. Liberals say you're wrong, how horrible to think about property settlements and separation, either live with the status quo or get out and leave us with everything.

I just don't see parity here. The liberal attitude is still, basically, "my way or the highway . . ."

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 4:53pm GMT

Goran - too much focus on the technical details and not enough on the main intended meaning is a waste of time.....look at what JC teaches repeatedly about judgment, wrath and punishment......and you want to make technical arguments around the world "hell" as if that proves anything?

Posted by: NP on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 5:13pm GMT

Mark 9: "43And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' 49For everyone will be salted with fire."

Goran, it may be that the word 'Hell' was not used, however it is used in translation for a reason. Jesus did seem to believe in a place of punishment by fire, much like hell. Chances are, when he said ghenna he didn't mean some dump outside jerusalem. To deny this is either wilful ignorance or simply naivety. It is well and good to show us how much you know about philosophy, but Hell is in the bible, and if you don't like it (I have some problems with it) the answer is careful theological engagement with the text and with others, rather than simply dismissing them. After all, I have heard that Dante was perhaps a member of the Christian church, even if slightly misguided philosophically. Literature, not liberalism.

Posted by: StAndTheolStud on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 5:41pm GMT

Goran

Their answer is to cry foul that the accusation was made. Their problem is not with their conduct but with having their conduct appropriately labelled.

I want to work in fixing terrorism. Actually, I am. This is part of it.

I can not take on terrorism of suicide bombers without taking on the thinking that leads to suicide bombers. That thinking manifests in varying forms. Some forms are more "polite" than others.

As I have written elsewhere, cluster bombs and chemical weapons are being used by both sides. It's just that one side's delivery method is cheaper and more personal...

The people who oppose me because they are insulted are by default choosing to embrace terrorist thinking. Because if you oppose identifying and eliminating violent thinking that means you are embracing violence.

Homosexuality is the litmus test of one's theology. How does your theology deal with the most "despicable" human beings? How you would treat these people makes manifest how you would treat others you do not approve of. Thus if you want to ensure your theology has inbuilt mechanisms to prevent a degeneration into violence and terrorism (by either rogue states, organisations and/or individuals) then you must underpin your theology with checks and balances that abhor repression and violence.

In fighting against me these souls are fighting FOR war and genocide and desecration. Such souls do not deserve respect or "politeness".

Shades of Gallipoli while some sip tea others are being murdered in their hundreds... Or the Reform cartoon of the people peering for the truth through the telescope oblivious to those drowning around them...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 5:57pm GMT

Goran wrote: "You demand submission and use intimidation and threats to get loyalty.... How are you different to those who take hostages and "convert" them at gun point?"

Pertinent question, in my opinion. I expect no answer."

Duh .... there's the small matter of a gun and violence involved in one. (My children could say this so much better to you). Cheryl's comparison was to the suicide bombers of 9/11 and 7/7 even more laughable and silly.

Simon, where do you get these commenters from?

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 6:16pm GMT

Leonardo:

I think you missed my message or I just didn't word it well. Print doesn't convey sarcasm well.

"If sexuality is what divides us then maybe we should start distancing ourselves from all people who are not "normal." Robert Christian

I think I followed this by a cross section of all who'd be deemed not normal, all created by and beloved by God.

If we distanced ourselves from all who are not normal we'd have to move into a cave.

Bottom line: I fully support an inclusive church, the ordination of all called. I guess that didn't come across very well.

Giles: Thank you for the clarification. My brain was a little scrambled.

Peace, Bob

Posted by: Robert Christian on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 6:34pm GMT

Goran
I think there is a difference.
No one is being told to 'convert' at all, at gun point or otherwise. Some parishes are saying they cannot remain in fellowship with their diocesan bishops and some other people are saying they'll support them.
In addition some people are saying they want the money they give used in a certain way. I'm aware that's been heard as threatening in the past but it's a very, very long way from 9-11 or 7th July.
I'm still astonished that so few on a church discussion board think it's unacceptible to call Neil a terrorist.

Posted by: Charlie on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 7:40pm GMT

Andrew Carey wrote:
"Such language invariably comes out of personal hurt for both sides.."
So the suicide rate for teenage Reform supporters is similarly greater than the average, just like that for gay teens? If walking about late at night in pairs they are more liable to get bashed by troglodytic louts than everyone else? Thought not.

Christopher Shell wrote:
"Had there never been homosexuals wanting their own proclivity to be seen as equal (by what criterion? not productivity; not biological 'fit')"
Productivity: St Paul, Mother Theresa, Julian of Norwich, etc etc etc - nul points for breeding. Biological fit? Huh? Has this person no imagination?

Posted by: Sarah on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 8:44pm GMT

Well my first reaction to Cheryl Clough's fifth paragraph was "steady on" and then it goes on to make the point about "submission and use intimidation and threats" as well as purity making a comparison with what drives the bombers (religiously).

Pleased Laurence is interested. The point is that these English Presbyterians, once Calvinists, who went via Arminianism (Arianism was an Anglican speciality), kept a parish mentality, and that continued and became the other side of Unitarian bipolarism during its denominational and ideologically liberal phase (Priestley's side). The Presbyterian side emerged as "Free Christian". Each side had its own colleges, newspaper, chapels. The Free Christian even produced a small Free Catholic few, but otherwise became eventually interfaith and humanistic, its Christianity merging with a rather lost in its past denominational side (this is in the UK - Americans had transcendentalism instead of Free Christian). Thus today there is a resistant liberal Christianity and a more progressive religious humanism, eastern tendency and neo-paganism.

The point of this regarding Anglicans is that although there was quite a bit of co-operation between Free Christians and Anglicans, the Free Christians could never get back, and the same is true today. Once you are gone, it is tough to return. Well the Methodists might.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 15 December 2006 at 10:27pm GMT

Ah well, Steven, that may be the case in the USA, but here the positions would be reversed - suppose it depends who sees themselves as being in the majority or minority.

I haven't noticed the contributions on many US conservative sites being so magnanimous, though. They appear to want not only to keep what they have but be recognised as the sole Anglican presence. However, they are primarily Episcopalians, not Anglicans - each province is independent, after all.

I think each will have to sort out its own future - here complicated by establishment.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 1:37am GMT

"The people who oppose me because they are insulted are by default choosing to embrace terrorist thinking"

That is wonderful Cheryl, you are indeed inclusive and nonviolent. You have perhaps accused evangelicals of, and damned them for, exclusivist rhetoric deaf to opposition. However, for you to 'embrace' the same type of violent argument to oppose them you prove yourself no better than what you are accusing others of. In my classes we call this kind of argument being 'hoisted on one's own petard'. Your statement is blatantly self-referentially incoherent. Just to make it a bit more clear, you use violent speech to condemning violent speech. This is however, no more than I would expect.

Is it so impossible to imagine that there are people who disagree with you, who are non-violent? Who would perhaps think that there are other ways of thinking which are still not violent. It seems that homosexuality is in fact the litmus test of your theology. You cannot seem to conceive that there might be people who hold both that the teaching of the Bible is that homosexual actions are wrong, and that everyone does wrong things, and so the commandment is explicitly not to simply say that everyone is ok (Paul speaks of this as simply approving of sin, because it is forgiven), or to judge (Paul speaks of this as hypocritical). You preach approval as non-violence, and judgement as violence, but in reality both are wrong, there is a third way, Love, which you seem to have missed somewhere amongst your violent speech.

Posted by: StAndTheolStud on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 5:43am GMT

So we find ourselves back in the stale soup of personal abuse and massive over-generalisations. There seem to have been two strands of response to IC's paper- first, to focus on tiny textual factors and ignore the big picture (sound familiar?) and second, to make sweeping statements about "liberals."

For the avoidance of doubt, we open, orthodox, Christians at InclusiveChurch believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins , he rose for our justification, and left us the empowering gift of the Spirit. And we accept Jesus as Lord.

It's precisely because we believe that, that we find the attempts by some to portray the Gospel as "exclusive" completely incomprehensible. The "anything goes" smear is such rubbish that it's hardly worth replying to, but again for the avoidance of doubt we do believe that forgiveness implies repentance and that Christ calls each of us to recognise our sinfulness and change.

So the Gospel is universal, open, and welcoming to all. Why do people keep trying to restrict it to one narrow and obsessional interpretation related almost entirely to sexuality? Whatever happened to justice and love?

Because, I repeat, we're seeing a grab for power. And the unity which that grab needs can only be found by uniting around a common issue. And that issues is homosexuality. A scapegoat. Very biblical.

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 9:08am GMT

Actually, I think evil needs to be challenged, and I do believe evangelicalism to be a uniquely evil philosophy. The time for compromise and dialogue is over. Why dialogue with those whose ideas cannot be worked alongside because they are simply so profoundly wrong?

Of course, they think the same about my views, and thats fine by me - so let us do the logical thing and split.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 10:01am GMT

Giles,

The interesting thing about your first paragraph is that it could equally have been said by one of the drafters of the evangelical covenant about the thread on Thinking Anglicans discussing that.

How does your statement about this being a 'grab for power' avoid making a sweeping generalisation? Both your press releases were as shrill and jarring as you yourself beheld the 'covenant' to be. I'm only pointing out the hypocrisy - I have long since ceased to think that Thinking Anglicans was a place to conduct debate among thinking Anglicans.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 10:13am GMT

Giles,
Your comment about personal abuse and sweeping statements about liberals is quite ridiculous. There are far more slurs and insults banded about by liberals in this thread. Your radical liberal friends have led by fantastic example in equating a terrorist with someone who was merely describing a straight-forward, traditional, biblical, orthodoxy. THAT is personal abuse and about as sweeping as statements get.

I can only assume that, if comment is not allowable about the "tiny textual factors" (such as your insinuations about the race and gender of those who drew up the original statement), you are saying they really should not have been included then? So is that a retraction perhaps? (By the way, you ARE black and female aren't you?)

As for "ignoring the big picture”, the big picture is being ignored by InclusiveChurch. The defining moment is not now. It passed long ago. What we are seeing is the simple working out of the implications of the church being infected with an inauthentic gospel. For example the last three years have seen lots of words and no action. They have seen pleas for patience and forbearance and no sign of repentance or changed behaviour. And time is running out. That is the big picture you are ignoring.

Posted by: Neil Barber on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 12:00pm GMT

Why should people repent for believing what is right, Neil?

Your so-called authentic gospel is what needs to change.

No-one is going to change. Hear it now, and hear it good.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 5:51pm GMT

The problem is, really, that we don't agree on the basis for deciding what is right or wrong, or who is 'in' or 'out'. Each group picks it's own criteria based on how it looks at Christianity, and then criticises the others for not conforming to it's criteria. Hence evangelicals criticise liberals for moving away from Biblical revelation, and liberal catholics criticise evangicals for rebelling against the church structure.

I think that even if we got down to discussing the fundamental issues we would find that our assumptions don't allow us to agree. That is why several bishops, even in the CofE, have started saying that there are two religions in Anglicanism.

If we could all acknowledge this, we might be able to stop getting so worked up about disagreeing. Good grief - Merseymike calling conservative theology "evil" and Cheryl pouring out hate speech towards Reform: "In fighting against me these souls are fighting FOR war and genocide and desecration. Such souls do not deserve respect or "politeness"..

Everyone deserves respect - however evil they are! "Love your enemy" is, I believe, Christ's command ?

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 10:55pm GMT

NP wrote: ”Göran – too much focus on the technical details and not enough on the main intended meaning is a waste of time.....look at what JC teaches repeatedly about judgment, wrath and punishment......and you want to make technical arguments around the world "hell" as if that proves anything?”

“technical details”, “waste of time”…

Gosh! Why indeed bother with the drudgery of translating at all, when the market segment in question is quite happy with making things up? No wonder late modern “translations” look the way they do.

(“JC” does indeed say a lot about Judgement, as does Paul – namely that w e are NOT allowed to judge our fellow beings. Judgement belongs to God only).

And yes, “technical arguments” do prove something.

StAndTheolStud wrote ”it may be that the word 'Hell' was not used, however it is used in translation for a reason.”

“… for a reason”. Yeah, that of putting later fancies in the sacred texts of the Bible.

However, Fire in the Bible is imagery for Purification: And He shall purify the sons of Levy… not much later “hell” or “purgatory”. Not even “limbo” (presently to be part-abandoned by Rome ;=)

“Dante was a member of a Christian church, even if slightly misguided philosophically”.

Well, anything goes – for a while ;=)

Question is, exactly who gets to decide who’s innovations are innovations? And on what grounds?

Andrew Carey wrote: “Duh .... there's the small matter of a gun and violence involved in one. (My children could say this so much better to you). Cheryl's comparison was to the suicide bombers of 9/11 and 7/7 even more laughable and silly.”

Well in my book, both are coercion. Coercion by different means, maybe, but still coercion.

And coercion is coercion. Canon law could teach you that a forced Covenant is no covenant, but a nullity. Nil.

(Charlie could profit from a reading as well).

StAndTheolStud wrote “However, for you to 'embrace' the same type of violent argument to oppose them you prove yourself no better than what you are accusing others of.”

Well, there is always the small trifle of true and false…

Neil Barber wrote: “someone who was merely describing a straight-forward, traditional, biblical, orthodoxy”.

Trouble is Neil Barber, outside of its own peculiar market segment, it was none of those things. Rather the opposite.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 11:18pm GMT

Mr Carey seems to have committed an equal level of condescension to Fr. Goddard's 'hypocrisy'. Having read Mr Carey's contributions to the Church of England Newspaper, his own blog, and many of his ripostes to Mr Stephen Bates, I wonder that he dares to be critical of the level of thinking contained within Thinking Anglicans or to accuse another of high levels of hypocrisy.

What I would like to ask Mr Carey is this:
'What is it about the issue of the Church and homosexuality that makes it THE issue over and above the ordination of women or the re-marriage of divorced people?' The scriptural position adopted by those who oppose any development on the topic of homosexuality appears, to me, to be even at its strongest on the divorce issue and only slightly weaker on the issue of women.

A thinking, reasoned response to this would be much appreciated - from wherever it emanates. Is there a signatory to the Reform Covenant who wants to help me out on this? Is there an evangelical bishop, who has thus far chosen not to be a PEV, who can make clear to me why he has been able to accept so much but is now so worried?

Responses gratefully received.

Posted by: Anglicanus on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 12:47am GMT

Andrew Carey chose to denigrate posters to this site with these words: "I have long since ceased to think that Thinking Anglicans was a place to conduct debate among thinking Anglicans."

I suppose that those of us who have very different beliefs about the message of Christ could just as well state that fundamentalist Christians are fundamentally un-Christian.

But, why should he, or the rest of us, play such games with words?

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 1:01am GMT

Thank you Neil for this -
As for "ignoring the big picture”, the big picture is being ignored by InclusiveChurch. The defining moment is not now. It passed long ago. What we are seeing is the simple working out of the implications of the church being infected with an inauthentic gospel.

There is indeed a theological impasse. In the US, where I serve now, I suspect the defining moment was concretized when the 1979 BCP was authorised as it enshrines affirmation as opposed to atonement. Confession is optional and a new Baptismal covenant is heralded. In practice the Baptismal Covenant only is used to focus on justice and peace (understood in a post modern way). The interrogatory is just not much spoken of. It asks about renouncing Satan, evil powers, sinful desires which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? To renounce all sinful desires that draw one from the love of God? Then to turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior? Then to trust follow and obey him as Lord.

Justice and peace should be defined by Christ and not by the spirit of the age. We have afforded new meanings to these words that are far from the justice as God's righteousness/justice and from peace as peace with God which is at the heart of peacemaking. The US baptismal service actually gets right both the order of repentance and conversion and then the desire for the transformation of self and society. However the use/misuse of this covenant as a way of justifying the blessing of sin in the name of justice and peace is inauthentic gospel. When atonement is sidelined or ignored then it seems that all manner of behavior is to be blessed.

I am an evangelical Anglican Christian. I believe that conversion and desire for amendment of life are critical. That includes seeking the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to resist what is and has been for generations the teaching of scripture on sexual relations, whatever the personal cost. Is this not what is meant by renouncing the sinful desires which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

BTW I do appreciate Giles G's comments about seeking conversion. I disagree as to what must be repented of. This should make it possible to have discussion. Over here such discussion was ended long ago by the intractable demands for blessing. I personally participated in a meeting of what was then called the national reconciliation task force. It folded.

The recent piece from Cheryl makes me so sad - "In fighting against me these souls are fighting FOR war and genocide and desecration. Such souls do not deserve respect or "politeness"." We are seeking not to fight her but to fight FOR her - against the world the flesh and the Devil, because, as St Paul puts it - "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against lthe cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Eph 6:12 ESV

Our readings for this 3rd Sunday of Advent (Luke 3:7-18) end with the call to repentance for all the "chaff" of our lives and the Lord who comes will do so awinnowing. We all need the winnowing hand of God as we are all sinners.

The steps taken by the US Church in blessing sin that Christ died to redeem have indeed infected the Church here to the point at which what is proclaimed is inauthentic as Apostolic Gospel.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:18am GMT

I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call the "other side's" gospel "inauthentic" - but probably severely attenuated. It sounds more like the Bad News: "For God so hated the world that He killed His Only Son..." - vs God came to earth as fully human and fully divine AND lived here AND died AND rose again AND sent the Spirit. It's not that the rank and file are likely to doubt that, but the emphasis on the death alone is bizarre and off-putting, and the theory of atonement like an equation that doesn't add up rather than a mystery. Clearly it seems to work for some people, but have the goodness to respect others' rights to work out their own faith and ethics once the absolute basics are agreed.

Posted by: Sarah on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:53am GMT

Thanks Ian for yours re mine.

I came away from a meeting once with someone who held very different opinions to me but who would certainly be considered evangelical, with a strong sense that the difference in our theologies could be pinpointed in a difference in our understanding of Creation and the Fall. It seemed to me that for him homosexuality per se was a result of the Fall whereas for me homosexuality per se was part of the breadth of creation. Thus for him all homosexual acts were sinful whereas for me only sinful homosexual acts were sinful!! (do I have to explain that? meaning only those acts which are carried out destructively and/or without love and/or in place of relationship with God - sinful!)

Although I wasn't sure where we could move on to from there, it felt that if my understanding of that was correct, at least we had some grounds from which to take discussion on.......

there I go , bringing it back to homosexuality again. But if that understanding were correct, then it might at least enable us to make it a second-order issue, while we can agree on the doctrines of creation, fall, redemption and forgiveness and continue to live in communion!

but i suspect that's a forlorn hope

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 3:38pm GMT

Goran wrote "Well in my book, both are coercion. Coercion by different means, maybe, but still coercion.
And coercion is coercion. Canon law could teach you that a forced Covenant is no covenant, but a nullity. Nil.
(Charlie could profit from a reading as well)."

I hear that you don't like this covenant but I am at a loss to see the coercion. How does this document or the actions it predicts coerce you in any way?
Some parishes say they may separate from some bishops and some other parishes say they will support them. Some people say they may redirect their money, plant churches and train ministers.

Presumably you intend to ignore them and carry on as you are? I'm sure the writers expect you to. Please explain where the coercion lies.

I'm off on holiday for a while now but I'll read the thread carefully on return. Thank you for an engaging discussion.
Happy Christmas all.

Posted by: Charlie on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 4:29pm GMT

Jerry wrote: "Andrew Carey chose to denigrate posters to this site .... ".

You are quite right, I shouldn't be denigrating anyone. I am sorry.

Jerry also wrote: "I suppose that those of us who have very different beliefs about the message of Christ could just as well state that fundamentalist Christians are fundamentally un-Christian.

"But, why should he, or the rest of us, play such games with words?"

While I was wrong to denigrate the commenters on Thinking Anglicans, there is a difference between the two statements. I have not criticised liberal Anglicans per se, I have only accused the particular subset of them who post on Thinking Anglicans (and incidentally I don't believe the sample here are terribly representative of liberal Anglicanism).

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 7:11pm GMT

Thank you Giles.
Yes I personally would say that this is a Fall issue because I do believe that creation was indeed good and the Fall has marred it - which places all of us in need of redemption. As I preached this morning - we are all work in progress towards what God desires us to be. This would make "the issue" secondary if we could all take a stand on the necessity of redemption. I do stand with those who want to make redemption "the issue." This is despite differences as to what is holy or sinful behavior.

My understanding that it really is the issues of redemption that are at stake in this controversy that has torn us apart. It is within these issues that issues of authority and revelation find their place. Tragically it is redemption that seems to be proclaimed as unnecessary. Is Pelagianism rearing its head again in the Anglican world?

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 7:43pm GMT

Thank you Goran for pointing out that coercion is coercion.

Cultural genocide is a form of violence. Go over to Melbourne Anglican's discussion forum and look up the "Dispirited" thread. You will see Sydney Anglicans bragging of how their diocese is consistently evangelical. That has happened by expunging liberals and others who do not flatter their theology. Broad tent Anglicanism disappeared a long time ago from the public face of Sydney Anglicans.

Go and talk to criminal psychologists. Ask about serial rapists and murderers. Ask how they evolve. Listen how they tell you it starts in fantasy but escalates. As one level no longer satisifies they go to the next... Never fulfilled and becoming more and more vicious with each passing event.

Go and look at the statistics on the Iraq War.
http://www.wombatwonderings.org/plugins/newsfeed.cgi? "There is something bizarre about having gone to war to stop terrorism because 3,000 people died in the 9-11 World Trade Centre. Yet the US has managed to kill that many of its own people since 18 March 2003. Plus is involved a daily per capita equivalent of nearly double that figure in Iraq. It begs the question of who are the real terrorists?"

Go and look at the research being done into antisocial oppositional defiant conduct disorder and related childhood issues. Punitive discipline does not work. Coaxing and positive reinforcement is having more success. Look at the statistics of what happens when we fail to provide suitable emotional and spiritual nurturing.

Parents and communities learn how to raise their children from each other and especially their faith communities. If their theology is overdependent on punitive and violent intimidation, it is actually the opposite of what our "high risk" children and families need. If we want to stop violence, we need to find non-violent ways of living and resolving conflicts. That includes our underpinning theologocial paradigms.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 7:49pm GMT

Charlie wrote: "How does this document or the actions it predicts coerce you in any way?"

Me? Not at all. I am Church of Sweden.

"Some parishes say they may separate from some bishops and some other parishes say they will support them. Some people say they may redirect their money, plant churches and train ministers."

This is sect, but not Church.

Blackmailing the Church to force it to become sect in my view is coercion. Plain and simple.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:49pm GMT

Ian Montgomery wrote: “infected with an inauthentic gospel.”

Ian Montgomery wrote: “The interrogatory is just not much spoken of. It asks about renouncing Satan, evil powers, sinful desires which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? To renounce all sinful desires that draw one from the love of God?”

Now, epithumía the Greek word rendered (by Platonist Academics, chiefly of the 2nd Millennium) as “sinful desires”, could refer to any desire in General Greek, however, in LXX Greek (valid for the 1st century scriptures of the New testament) the reference is always m a t e r i a l desire, that is Greed (10th Commandment). Greed being the Sin in the Bible.

It is Platonist Academics chiefly of the 2nd Millennium, who (wittingly or unwittingly) sexualize material epithumía as sexual desire. Not in the Good Book.

Ian Montgomery wrote: “Then to turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?”

Your forgot “personal” ;=) But then you forgot that it is Christ who turns to us.

Ian Montgomery wrote: “Then to trust, follow and obey him as Lord.”

Trust is on the spot. Faith means trust. But “obey” is 2nd Millennium Empire-speak. Not in the Good Book. Greek akouvåo means to listen to (because there is something worth listening to).

Not Absolutist “obedience”. Christ is a different Lord (which is the whole point of the first Christians calling Him “Lord”).

Ian Montgomery wrote: “the defining moment was concretized when the 1979 BCP was authorised as it enshrines affirmation as opposed to atonement.” ”When atonement is sidelined or ignored then it seems that all manner of behavior is to be blessed.”

Not at all. The Church (the Church, mind you) always has wholely and solely blessed the p e r s o n s. God being a Communion of Persons, wanting to be in Communion with us (not that I ever understood whatever for :-/

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:50pm GMT

Ian Montgomery wrote: “I believe that conversion and desire for amendment of life are critical. That includes seeking the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to resist what is and has been for generations the teaching of scripture on sexual relations, whatever the personal cost. Is this not what is meant by renouncing the sinful desires which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?”

For Generations? Well, for most of the last Millennium, at least since our post Carolingian uncles at Fulda and their Scholastic followers at Oxford and Paris. But – and it is a big but – the 1966 Cambridge translation of the 1955 French Bible de Jérusalem inverted “what has been for generations the teachings of scripture” from anti Heterosex (had they known the word) into anti Gay, inventing new anti Gay “words” to “prove” it.

The Gnosticist horror of the Spilling of Semen (understood as s e e d s, somehow identical to The Highest Being of Heathen Philosophers, to g r o w in the proper place only, or else – worse than murder – to relegate little boys to the Limbus infantorum = Traducianism, in “christian” guise). For a 1000 years the word malakós in 1 Cor 6:9 “meant” Masturbation, the 3rd of the Deadly sins (still so in the 1966 New Catholic Encyclopaedia and in the East), but the 1966 Jerusalem Bible changed this into “catamite” passive gay man, symmetrically to the following word arsenokoîtai, “traditionally” abusers of themselves with mankind, that is Spillers of Semen, into sodomite, homosexual: “active” gay man.

From Heterosex to Homosex, from (Gnosticist) “Sin” to Sinner; from (heterosexual) “act” performed by all, to sexual “orientation” as essentialist Identity for the newly invented (1890) Social Minority.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:53pm GMT

Ian Montgomery wrote: “Justice and peace should be defined by Christ and not by the spirit of the age. We have afforded new meanings to these words that are far from the justice as God's righteousness/justice and from peace as peace with God…”

Someone objected that Cheryl had written “Such souls do not deserve respect or "politeness" trying to play out Christ against her, but it is true: Christ’s work of atoning humankind to God (as per Paul – that is not to atone God to humankind, as per late distorted Anselmism) is not about us sinners “deserving” anything. These are the categories of Indo European Philosophy, whereas in the Bible there is no “merit” whatsoever.

Justice is a Latin word and Judicial concept, but Greek dikaiosyne is a translation of the Hebrew concept of Righteousness. God’s Righteousness in possessive Genitive. Not spacecraft “a” righteousness “from” God, as per late modern Neo Platonist “translations”.

In the Bible God is different. God’s Righteousness often is v e r y unjust.

Ian Montgomery filled in: “We are seeking not to fight her but to fight FOR her – against the world the flesh and the Devil, because, as St Paul puts it – “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Eph 6:12 ESV”

I am sorry, but Christ did “fight” for her once and for all. It is accomplished.

Putting yourself in God’s place does not make you gods.

Nor did Paul ever write the theological treatise quoting all (then) known authentic letters and later misnamed the Letter to the Ephesians – and you most probably know that.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:54pm GMT

Sarah's on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:53am GMT is spot on.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 8:57pm GMT

Andrew: "I don't believe the sample here are terribly representative of liberal Anglicanism"

I don't believe it either. How can this sample be representative of liberal Anglicanism when many of us wouldn't claim to be liberal Anglicans? Feel free to foist unwanted labels on us - on me - but the last time I looked, I wasn't a theological liberal.

Or is it that anyone who disagrees with the entirety of ConEvo theology a liberal?

Posted by: Simon Morden on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 9:54pm GMT

Simon Morden - I was quite clearly referring to the liberal Anglicans who post on Thinking Anglicans. It would be silly for me to assume that all who post here would define themselves as 'liberal' since I am posting here myself.

Posted by: Andrew Carey on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:22pm GMT

Some of us aren't even Anglican, Andrew.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:36pm GMT

Andrew - if I misunderstood, apologies.

But it does beg the question: how do you spot a liberal Anglican? I have all sorts of trouble, and would appreciate some pointers so I know whose posts to treat with the due amount of caution.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 10:43pm GMT

Ian - your issue of redemption is absolutely spot on. It's completely clear to me that we all need redemption. We all need continually to acknowledge our sinfulness and arrogance. Especially in Advent. But redemption for me, given that homosexuality for me is a Creation issue not a Fall issue, implies living my life as well as I can. And encouraging all my brothers and sisters in the congregation for which I have the "care of souls" to live as well as they can too, whether they're gay or straight, single or married. Redemption implies trusting in God's love. And living out what that means.

Andrew, thanks for your apology. I wonder if you need to think a bit more about your notion of "liberal" Anglicans, whether they're posting on TA or not? I think you're probably making an error if you assume that all supporters of IC are "liberal". Most of us are orthodox. I wonder if the word "liberal" as you apply
it has perhaps lost its meaning? And I wonder what you think "liberal" really means, or whether you're using it as a slightly simplistic insult?

Sarah, thanks for yours. Another way of saying what you say is that, perhaps, we start with creation rather than sin?

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Sunday, 17 December 2006 at 11:54pm GMT
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