Monday, 16 April 2007

Archbishop to visit US Church

Lambeth Palace has announced this evening that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to visit the US Episcopal Church in the autumn. The full text of the press release follows.

Archbishop to visit US Church

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has announced that he intends to visit the United States this autumn in response to the invitation from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Speaking in a press conference in Toronto, Dr Williams said he would undertake the visit together with members of the Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council:

“I look forward to some sharing of our experiences as pastors as well as discussion of the business of the Communion. These are complicated days for our church internationally and its all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations. ….my aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches”.

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Comments

Very Good news !

Also the Archbishop's words sound calm and inviting to me. I t obviously takes time to plan something like this and build into an already busy schedule.

I like what he says about the people of the church needing to find a common mind on lgbt people --- and not relying on authoritative pronouncements.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 7:48pm BST

Good. It would appear that liberal pressure on the man works too. Now if our American bishops retain their spines, maybe something more can be done.

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 7:59pm BST

So he has some manners after all.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 8:44pm BST

Well this means nothing too drastic regarding his three months out and afterwards.

Plus he has this aim of keeping people around the table. That means the deadline of 30 September is not so much of a deadline as a marker. He does know what the House of Bishops there has decided, and that there is little prospect of any other decision, so this must be the context of keeping everyone at the table.

It further suggests not cancelling Lambeth 2008.

Encouraging local churches also hints at a (potential, necessary indeed) shift of emphasis. It seems to me that this policy of a communion via high structures issuing its means of order is already in good decline, even if taking along members of the Standing Committee and of the ACC.

The job is to keep connections not cut them, and that means a change to a more local based policy. As was always to be the case.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 9:20pm BST

Lovely that he's coming. Interesting he's waiting so long. Could he possibly have said less?

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 9:23pm BST

Anglican Journal is reporting that the ABC et al. are coming for the HoB's meeting in September in New Orleans. One can only wonder whether we'll get another chance to see David Virtue in hotel pool.

Posted by: C.B. on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 10:27pm BST

Hallelujah. Something is better than nothing.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 10:29pm BST

I guess it's my bit of Scots blood, but I'm underwhelmed by his obviously reluctant decision on a very late -- too late? -- meeting. I hope, with Kurt, that our bishops don't mislay their newly-found spines.
Bob

Posted by: Robert Dodd on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 10:46pm BST

Glad he decided on an eleventh hour visit. Alleluya to that.

ABC criticises "treating Scripture as either simply an inspired supernatural guide for individual conduct or a piece of detached historical record - the typical exaggerations of Biblicist and liberal approaches respectively,"

Then what? What's his more sophisticated third way? What use is fence-sitting in this context?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Monday, 16 April 2007 at 11:48pm BST

The ABC has separated his personal inclinations from his official role which is to perpetuate the institution. It's so very English to execute the role impeccably no matter how things are disintegrating around you. Is the dog throwing up on the carpet while its master is entertaining friends at tea? One doesn't notice that, of course. Bad form. This behavior was wonderfully satirized by Monty Python over and over again.

The charismatic became institutional many long centuries ago, and came to have values of its own distinct from faith and spirit. That is the mentality that will fly to New Orleans for the meeting. The office will be there, not the man.

Sorry to say, I can already imagine the results at Cartoon Blog.

And yet the US HOB was right to reach out with the invitation.

Posted by: Richard on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 3:54am BST

I am glad that he will meet with HoB.

Right now, though, this is so very remote. I teach in a university about 3 hours away from Virginia Tech, with many of my students here who have friends and kin there, asking all of you for your prayers for those killed today, for their families, for their friends, for the whole Va Tech community and its extended family.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 4:38am BST

The "sophisticated third way" is to interpret the Scripture in light of the signs of the times, guided by the Spirit that leads the Church into all truth. Scripture is not a dead letter but a text that is constantly interpreting and correcting itself as it is heard ever anew in the community of faith. Is this TOO sophisticated? But St Paul is at least this sophisticated.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 5:03am BST

In answer to Hugh of Lincoln, here is the summary of Rowan Williams' lecture:

So in sum: what I believe we need for a renewed theological grasp of Scripture is (i) the recognition that Scripture is something heard in the event where the community affirms its identity and seeks its renewal; (ii) the development of the skills needed to explore the analogy and continuity between the world 'in front of' the text and the current context, so as at least to avoid the misuse of texts by abstracting them from the questions they actually put ;(iii) thus also, the discernment of where any given section of Scripture is moving -- what are the changes it sets out and proposes for the reader/hearer; (iv) an understanding that this last is decisively and authoritatively illuminated by the Eucharistic setting of biblical reading; (v) the consequent holding together of Eucharist and Scripture through a strong doctrine of the Spirit's work in constructing the community of Christ's Body; and (vi) the recognition that neither Scripture nor Eucharist makes sense without commitment to the resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental condition of a Church whose identity is realised in listening and responding. Reading Scripture theologically and understanding theologically the process of reading -- all this is essentially about seeing Scripture as the vehicle of God's act to bring about conversion. Ultimately, Scripture brings us back to the uniquely creative moment of God's freedom -- to the grace of a free self-bestowal that can create what is other and then, by love and welcome, transform that other into a sharer and communicator of the same joyful, generative act. 'The word of life...[that] we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ' (I Jn.1.1-3).

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 6:32am BST

Hugh,
I don't know what Rowan's sophisticated third way would be, but my own bog standard middle way means taking Scripture as divinely inspired, but knowing that it inspired bronze age people in their particular culture and time.

The challenge is to discover what it means for people in my time and my country, and for my own life in particular. This is dangerous and sometimes scary, and it's easy (for me) to stray too far to the "it's only a historical document" side of the path. But with reverence, prayer and an open ear to the Holy Spirit it's possible to tread a path that allows me to live in my faith while retaining my integrity, and without having to leave my brain at the church doors.

It's really nothing more nor less than the time honoured Anglican way of Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 9:00am BST

TEC - get ready to have your arms twisted: just as the Primates' deadline is closing in, the ABC will be flying in and you will be under huge pressure from him to compromise and stay in the AC on the Primates' terms...... I bet your bishops capitulate.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 9:35am BST

I'm somewhat surprised by the tone of some of the comments. They don't smack of the love and tolerance that so many on this board advocate. Or is tolerance only one way?

Actually, I'm not even sure whether the name of the site - "Thinking Anglicans" - a slightly pretentious term in any case - is appropriate.

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 11:09am BST

Hey Andrew, if you find the tone objectionable here you should have a look at what goes on at other religious websites. This is the only religious website I know where one can speak freely without being showered with nasty adhominems or instant excommunications. As to "thinking" Anglicans, I find the level here to be quite high, and the title of the blog challenges us to keep up that level.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 11:28am BST

I think, NP, you should look at the words of Rowan WIlliams regarding his visit to TEC House of Bishops. They have explained their qualified episcopacy, and he has spoken of keeping people around the table for as long as possible, sharing understanding, and encouraging local churches. Just as he cannot dictate to primates, nor can they dictate to Churches.

My comment on the lecture is in the section above referring to the lecture.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 12:41pm BST

NP - This will not be Tanzania Redux. Akinola will not be present. Neither will Minns, or Rev. Radner for that matter. Hopefully, the Bishop of Wales will. The HoBs will be given amble opportunity to make its case. If it fails, then God has another plan for the AC, and we can all go forward in that knowledge.

Posted by: C.B. on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 2:00pm BST

"if you find the tone objectionable here you should have a look at what goes on at other religious websites. "

Father, I'd suggest many Evangelicals who come here would be only to glad to get your point, but then they'd miss a chance to be victimized. Besides, what happens here is snotty intellectuals being superior. On those other sites, evil Hellbound liberals are being rebuked in the sincere hope they will repent and be saved. It's really quite different. One is smugness, the other is Evangelism and speaking God's truth. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 3:03pm BST

Fr. O'Leary is dead right, Andrew. If you want flat-out, mealy-mouthed, mean-spiritedness, check out some of the hardline "re-affirmer" sites on the Colorado Springs/Armstrong business. "Four legs good, two legs bad", harpies-on-speed time! The unthinking, party-line-towing tone is disturbing and deeply depressing. Cromwell's “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” leaps to mind, but where's the use? None so blind ....

Encouragingly, for the last day or so, the tone on T19 - which does not fall within the terms of any description suggested in the previous paragraph - has been far more thoughtful on the Armstrong business, which suggests that the complexities of the case are beginning to sink in.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 3:24pm BST

I think, Pluralist, you should look the actions of the ABC from blocking JJ to to the Tanzania Communique.....

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 4:18pm BST

"if you find the tone objectionable here you should have a look at what goes on at other religious websites"

and

"If you want flat-out, mealy-mouthed, mean-spiritedness, check out some of the hardline "re-affirmer" sites..."

Ah. So that makes it all right then...

I haven't visited other sites yet. But to justify something on the grounds that others are worse doesn't seem to tie in with my impression of the Christian life.

And nor does the title of the site. Having looked at some of the archives, I can't help but form the impression that a thinking anglican is someone who adopts a liberal approach, and anybody who may have a conservative view is by definition unthinking. Smacks of spiritual arrogance, to me at least...

Anyway, I'll leave you good people to hammer away at the ABC to your hearts' content!

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 7:20pm BST

Andrew. If you "haven't visited other sites yet". then for G-d's sake visit a few, get a general idea of the variety of approaches and opinion on offer, and THEN make your point. A fair enough thing to ask? If you see the need for a Rowan Williams support site - Lord knows, the poor guy's getting it from all sides nowadays - and see nothing to your liking, set your own up. You can establish its parameters, monitor it, exclude whoever you want to exclude.

Polemics - sometimes violent polemics - have a long tradition in church history - the Arian controversy; the Reformation; the money-changers in the Temple.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 10:25pm BST

Andrew wrote: "Anyway, I'll leave you good people to hammer away at the ABC to your hearts' content!"

I am so gratified by Andrew's gracious permission to make comments about the ABC. Perhaps he will next be good enough to give me permission to interpret scripture differently than he does. I wouldn't take a step without his authoritative guidance.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing more from parishioners and clergy in England, not to mention Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, who have grown increasingly concerned with an ABC who seems unable to assert independence from the fundamentalists allied with Abuja.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 11:51pm BST

I did not notice that the ABC is a punching-bag here; usually Thinking Anglicans is friendly to him, as it should be since he is certainly a Thinking Anglican.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:02am BST

"TEC - get ready to have your arms twisted: just as the Primates' deadline is closing in, the ABC will be flying in and you will be under huge pressure from him to compromise and stay in the AC on the Primates' terms...... I bet your bishops capitulate."

Please, keep it up NP (I'm serious).

It was, in part, the *way* that ++KJS was treated in Tanzania, that sparked the HofB to be so, um, "forthright" in its rejection of the Primatial Vicar ultimatum. Your tone, repeated by the ABC&Co, I believe would make it *more* likely that the HofB will reject the other ultimatums as well.

At the end of the day, how much "huge pressure" can the A(B)C really apply, vis-a-vis our *faith to the Gospel of Christ*?

IF the ABC&Co go that route (I pray they don't: I'm equally serious here), I think they will find that choice for the HofB is *surprisingly* easy.

[I just hope they don't ALL go the "fudge" route again! ;-/]

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:45am BST

Wow! How Christians love each other!

Lapinbizarre, following my first posting, someone suggested that I ought to visit other sites, evidently suggesting that their vitriol justified the tone here. I have absolutely no wish to form a Rowan Williams support site, and actually have no axe to grind. Putting words into someone's mouth and then arguing from there is dishonest argument, I suggest.

As to Jerry Hannon's comment, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and is hardly edifying. What non-Christians would make of it all defies thought.

I stumbled in this site out of genuine interest, partly because I was intrigued by the term "Thinking Anglicans." It was not long before I ascertained that only those with a liberal persuasion were presumed to be "thinking Anglicans" - a term that I still find pretentious. Actually, neither of you have any idea what my stance is, and this is irrelevant anyway, because I was referring to the general tone both here and in archived material. Have a look at some of the comments on this topic alone, and ask yourself whether they are in keeping with the One they profess to follow.

Anyway, time for me to retire gracefully. May the peace of the Lord be with you.

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:20am BST

Best let it go, Andrew. You won't get anywhere!

Posted by: Robert Leggat on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:29am BST

Andrew,
if you're still around - I agree that the tone on this blog is sometimes too sarcastic. Having said that, what you've done is walk into a debating chamber in the middle of a heated conversation where people sometimes don't just respond to what is being said, but in the context of the complete conversation that has gone on for many many months.
You cannot expect people to remain completely dispassionate and polite all the time, when some of the issues under discussion go to the core of our being and our faith.

Rowan, I believe, gets a fairly good press round here, although, yes, there is much disappointment from those like me who used to feel welcomed by his views and who now feel personally rejected. And when conservatives often refuse to engage with seriously made points but simply insist that "it says here...", frustrations do get the better of us some times.

I'd be really pleased if you could stay around and engage in the conversation and see how you feel after you've been here for a little longer.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 10:39am BST

Erika, thanks for your gracious reply. Still around, if a little shaken by Jerry Hannon's rather supercilious comments.

You're right - I've evidently stumbled in on something somewhat heated. Actually, I heard Rowan last year at a convention, and was ever so impressed by his scholarship, his thoughtful analysis and comments, and his gracious nature. I simply cannot think of him seeking to reject anybody. He may well reject an argument, of course, but never reject a person.

Scripture, Tradition and Reason, I thought, were the three bases on which one builds up one's stance on church matters. Having read even more of the archived material, it strikes me that one has on the one extreme people homing in on the first, excluding the other two, and on the other extreme those who would quite happily dispense with the first and second entirely, and build up a theology of their own. And there is a poor guy in the middle trying to keep both on board. Boy, does he not need our prayers!

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 12:59pm BST

JCF - we agree 100%! Fudge would be the worst result for ALL and would have zero integrity.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:11pm BST

" "Thinking Anglicans" - a slightly pretentious term in any case"

"Rather supercilious"?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 2:53pm BST

And your point, Lapinbizarre, is...?

Posted by: Robert on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 4:52pm BST

Lapinbizarre, if I were to describe myself as a Christian, that says one thing. If I were to describe myself as a "thinking" Christian, I'd be inferring a superiority that is slightly distasteful. Same with the term "thinking" Anglican. Not a fair point?

I'm still wondering whether there are any "thinking" Christians who are not liberal! Again, is it not a fair question?

All I was trying to say was that some of the comments about ABC were hardly in keeping with the exhortation that we should love one another. The rejoiner that other forums are worse is poor argument. Rowan badly needs our prayers that he can exercise his undoubted wisdom, and that above all God's Will be done, not mine nor, I say with due respect, yours!

Anyway, please let's let this one go - it must be boring others stiff!

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 5:41pm BST

Andrew follows up with: "As to Jerry Hannon's comment, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and is hardly edifying. What non-Christians would make of it all defies thought. I stumbled in this site out of genuine interest, partly because I was intrigued by the term "Thinking Anglicans." It was not long before I ascertained that only those with a liberal persuasion were presumed to be "thinking Anglicans" - a term that I still find pretentious."

Well, Andrew, I'm afraid that my reaction to your condescending attitude was to -- ever so gently, and far more gently than some of the fundamentalist blogs -- reply sarcastically.

I'd be very happy to put sarcasm, but also condescension, behind us, and to get on with other matters.

Please do not presume that people posting to this blog are of one mind, or that we have a unified purpose. I have expounded upon my background, and beliefs, in past postings, and I do not share the same beliefs, or the same degrees of concern about some issues, as do all of my brothers and sisters who do more regularly post to this site.

It is fair to say that most posters here reject a fundamentalist mindset, and that we seek a continuation of a broad Anglican Church that includes diverse views, beliefs, interpretations, which are honestly held differences. It is not we who are seeking an homogenized Anglican Church, and that is one of my own concerns about the recent trends from the so-called Global South.

If what you want to engage in is a dialogue with people who think as you do, then, no, this isn't the best site to do that. But, I have no desire to put up with the ad hominem attacks (if only they were merely sarcastic) from some of the fundamentalist websites, and I would not expect to find many people there who shared my own strongly held beliefs.

Please sample some of those sites, and then tell me that you find Thinking Anglicans to be more hostile to people with different ideas, such as yours, than people with ideas such as mine would find on them.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 5:46pm BST

Andrew,
the problem is that there are some topics in every age that slowly become more and more polarised and eventually require a firm solution.

Slavery was once such an issue, then women's rights. In our contemporary society I believe the environment and animal rights will be the next polarising topics.
In the Anglican church it currently happens to be homosexuality.

With all those topics it was initially possible to navigate a middle ground. Now, I happen to live with a female partner and am therefore very much on the side of the liberals (although I am by nature a died in the wool liberal too). To me, and to many others on this forum, this is no longer a topic you can be politely neutral about, because we’re acutely aware that we’re talking about people’s lives and deepest emotions.

Either I'm allowed to live out the same full loving relationship straights claim as their birthright, or I am not. Because of the society I was born into, here can no longer be a middle ground on this issue, the only alternative being the hideous "don't ask don't tell".

While I respect people who have not yet had the time or cause to think about this properly, I do despair of those who have had ample time to get to know me personally, yet who still feel they have the right to reject everything that truly matters to me - just because their view of God tells them that's ok.

I think we have to accept that one can hold a middle ground view on PSA, the virgin birth, the incarnation, the resurrection and a million other Christian issues, but that the time for middle ground on homosexuality is over.

I, for one, don't regret this, because to me it's an issue of human rights. Leaving well trodden Scriptural analysis aside, which you will also have found in the archives, I cannot conceive of a God whose love is less than that which humanity has recognised as good, honest and true.

As for prayers - we all need them!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:21pm BST

Andrew,

I too have heard many Rowan lectures and have been deeply impressed by him.
I too believe he would say he is only accepting or rejecting arguments and never people.
But, please, imagine yourself in my position. I am a real person with a real life. I cannot see myself as a theoretical issue on which it is possible to have lofty debates.

If you reject my right to love, it very much feels like a personal rejection, because it affects my life in a very real way.
Since we have decided we cannot pretend that the most fulfilling, loving and Christian relationship we've ever known does not exist, my partner had to give up being a Reader having been told she would not be relicensed, and I have been told I might as well not finish my training because I would never be licensed.

You see, this goes well beyond the academic but has real impacts on lives. That's why I believe I'm right to feel personally rejected, however much Rowan may think he's only presenting a theological position.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:27pm BST

Simon. Do you remember when correspondence page of "The Times" would print the sentence "this correspondence is closed"?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 6:42pm BST

Lapinbizarre,
which part of this correspondence would you like to be closed?
I'm finding Andrew's question about a possible middle ground quite interesting.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 8:13pm BST

Just to clarify, and I'll not bother you again:

Erika, I don't reject your right to love. I haven't mentioned homosexuality at all and (evidently mistakenly) thought that this was a side issue. The issue, I thought, was the authority of the holy scriptures.

Jerry, you say "If what you want to engage in is a dialogue with people who think as you do..." You are making totally hasty and incorrect assumptions; you simply do NOT know what I think!

I was simply doing two things:

First I was commenting on the tone of some postings.

Secondly, I was commenting, not in any way condescendingly, that the nomenclature "Thinking Anglicans" does seem to me to be somewhat aloof and exclusive. I honestly never expected such a reaction and apologise for coming in!

Cheers folks. I will bow out now so there will be no need to respond! May the peace of the Lord be with you and whom you love.

Andrew

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 8:45pm BST

Thanks for your reply, Andrew.
Just in case you're still checking....
Sadly, homosexuality is THE issue in the church at the moment and it dominates all news. For that reason, it also dominates the conversation on TA.

Re Thinking Anglicans - I think I understand what you mean. Maybe others know where the name originated. To me, it simply signified a blog on which people had intelligent conversations about faith specific topics. As opposed to "Chatting Anglicans" or "Praying Anglicans", which might have completely different purposes.

Sorry to see you go - although I would suggest that you can't complain about people being a little touchy when you criticise them on first meeting without taking the time to get to know them. Certainly, you seem to be reasonably touchy about being criticised yourself.

I liked the question you asked - shame you're no longer around to continue the conversation.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 9:17pm BST

In my experience USA-based blogspots are far more aggressive than, say, this UK-based one. This ties up with a comment I found on the Guardian site:

"There are a number of reasons why these crimes happen in America and yes, easy access to weapons is one reason. The others include, a culture which is by its nature aggressive; a school culture which is unkind at best and cruel at worst to far greater degrees than other developed nations; a society which has high levels of racism, elitism and plain old-fashioned bullying which goes on in the society in general and in schools in particular; high exposure to the most shocking levels of gratuituous violence on television and in film; a cultural myth which 'teaches' that ultimately the downtrodden or abused will triumph through power and can then take revenge against those who wronged them (watch a few dozen teen movies if you don't believe me).... hardly surprising that those who do not triumph financially, corporately or academically can always triumph with the gun; a culture which glorifies success at any cost".

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 3:10am BST

Erika - I think you can see in Andrew how the "middle ground" in the AC may be feeling as a result of the relentless agenda of some in TEC leadership and elsewhere in the AC (Andrew is right, the issue is the authority of scripture and even the ABC seems to get that now eg the Communique)

The issue is whether the AC can contain views which say "ignore this bronze age writing" on certain issues and others which say "this is the word of God, we cannot contradict its meaning" - both cannot be right

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 11:24am BST

"The issue is whether the AC can contain views which say "ignore this bronze age writing" on certain issues and others which say "this is the word of God, we cannot contradict its meaning" - both cannot be right".

First, the Bible at no point addresses the concerns of people born gay and who seek to live out their affective potential in a mature and loving way. This is just not a biblical question. So there is not a black and white opposition between Scripture and the modern conscience on this issue.

Second, on other issues there is a black and white opposition between Scripture and the modern conscience -- we cannot accept the genocidal texts of Num 31, 1 Sam 15 and countless others and we have to say that the Israelites were mistaken in thinking that God approved and commanded the practice of massacring the entire population of conquered towns (a practice that lived on for long after biblical times -- see the Smerwick massacre in Ireland around 1590 or Cromwell's massacres -- Cromwell used biblical precedent to argue that God set his agents above good and evil in such cases). So, yes, there is a big question about biblical inerrancy. I think it should be interpreted to mean that the Bible used responsibly by Spirit-filled Christian communities will not lead into error, and that the Bible contains all the truths necessary for salvation despite the incidental dross of culture-bound conceptions.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:10pm BST

But you do, NP!

Shellfish...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:36pm BST

Fr O'Leary,

"I think it should be interpreted to mean that the Bible used responsibly by Spirit-filled Christian communities will not lead into error, and that the Bible contains all the truths necessary for salvation despite the incidental dross of culture-bound conceptions."

I would want to extend this and include that our preception of truth rightfully changes over time. The truth about faithful gay relationships was not available to early Christians and their views were therefore right for their time, although they are no longer right today.

Or would you say that there is an eternal truth about all things that does not depend on the status of scienctific and psychological knowledge available to those who seek it?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:45pm BST

NP
"I think you can see in Andrew how the "middle ground" in the AC may be feeling as a result of the relentless agenda of some in TEC leadership"

TEC? TEC alone? Well, TEC can certainly be at one end of it, but unless there is another intolerant group at the other end, where's your middle?

Tell me who is to the right of you and your views?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 1:02pm BST

"we cannot accept the genocidal texts of Num 31, 1 Sam 15 and countless others "

Well actually, Father, Evangelicals have argued to me that we CAN accept these passages. Such things are cited as justification for war. So, it would be a mistake to assume that all consevos would agree with you that "the Israelites were mistaken". One statement went something like (I'm paraphrasing):

Read the OT, I think you'll find God isn't exactly a pacifist.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:44pm BST

Erika, lots of people in the CofE are to the right of me, I can assure you

Yes, TEC - because the current war in the AC was started with a unilateral act by TEC in 2003, despite the begging of the Primates and the ABC. TEC started all this, let's be honest.

Maybe some think the money TEC has inherited will buy it power to do its own thing and stay in the AC on its own terms but the poorest churches are showing they are not so easily bought when biblical principles are at stake.


Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 2:47pm BST

NP
What about the AMiA (Anglican Mission in America) and their cohorts and the illegal (according to +++Carey) Consecration of two bishops in Singapore (I believe).

This happened way before 2003, which shows that the argument that the TEC started the issue in 2003 is specious. Some Global South Primates (in this case South East Asia and Rwanda) were actively breaking diocesan and provincial boundaries way before 2003.

Posted by: Charles Nurse on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 3:24pm BST

Ford - uncharacteristically sarcastic for you - but what then do you make of The Passover in its effect on Egypt?

Actually, passages re fighting enemies are not srong bases for waging war. Their primary lesson is that sin and opposition to him will not be tolerated and punishment will be real.....

I know some here do not like verses like John 3:36 but the words of JC on several occasions are totally conistent with His actions in the OT

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 3:28pm BST

"TEC started all this, let's be honest"
No, NP, the conservatives must share a good bit of the blame for disobeying the suggestions of successive Lambeth conferences that they conduct dialouge with gay people. If they had done this, they would have been able to cease seeing gay people as some kind of sinful objects outside the Church and begin to see us as human beings. They would then have likely been able to talk about the issue on the same terms as TEC, and might have made a more powerful argument for their stand. As it is, they have come out looking ignorant. They were afraid, either of the taint of merely being in the same room as a gay person, or that understanding us as human beings they might be forced to change their minds about our inevitable Hell bound status, or merely that they would be unable to hate us, or feel superior to us. For whatever reason, they did not talk, they did not listen, they did not seek to understand. For you to claim, as you have repeatedly, that you conservatives are sick of listening is just silly. You haven't listened at all, other than to yourselves croak about how you are the embattled faithful remnant under attack by the faithless Hellbound liberals. I make no wonder you're sick of listening to that, so is everyone else. And:
"poorest churches are showing they are not so easily bought when biblical principles are at stake."
They have shown themselves quite amenable to being bought when they can find a shadowy American billionaire or two who will gladly fund bigotry that can be expressed overseas in ways that would not be tolerated in the US or Canada. Open your eyes, NP, your side is not lily white, and by ceaselessly defending people who are not worthy of your faith, you are severely weakening any arguments you make.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:09pm BST

Sorry, NP, you have to explain that to me.

Your central point was that the whole debate is ultimately about the authority of Scripture.

According to you, TEC are extreme because they interpret the Bible in such a loose way that you no longer recognise it as Christian.
Whereas you take Scripture literally and quote chapter and verse, taking these to be literally divinely handed down truths.

What interpretation of Scriptural authority can possibly be to the right of yours?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 5:32pm BST

Fascinating factoid: Muslims in America outnumber Episcopalians approximatly two to one (based on an estimate about Muslims in US on a PBS special lastnight and guessing that TEC has about 1.5 million members). How arrogant and misguided of me to think of US Muslims as a ''minority'' and Episcopalians as a ''mainstream'' religious group! I like the nuts and bolts of the ABCs spiritual teaching (what I've read by him in articles and books and what I heard from him at Trinity NY Institute in 2003). I think he's a good bishop and I pray for him. I am a gay man. At this point in my life I am reevaluating my spiritual praxis, reassessing concepts like ''salvation.'' ''atonement,'' ''prayer,'' ''spirituality,'' and ''communion.'' I am somewhat disintrested in the sexuality issue because I think church members are firmly entrenched in their opinions, so I just try to avoid the brambles and thorns of the sexuality thicket. I find myself to be perplexed, confused, uncertain about what one might call ''the basics'' of Christianity. I sometimes wish I encountered more chuch conversations about some of ''the basics.'' I am in the process of reading through the Pentateuch -- just made it to Deuteronomy. It's fascinating to look at our Anglican Communion through the lense of the Torah (in terms of ''God's otherness,'' ''holiness and justice,'' ''spiritual life as dynamic as opposed to static.'') Is anyone else ever uncertain or confused about som of the basics?

Posted by: Mark on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 7:15pm BST

Mark asked:
Is anyone else ever uncertain or confused about som of the basics?

I steer clear of anyone who is never uncertain and never confused. Even those who parrot off 'God is love' need to make sure their theology can cope with (eg) tsunamis. Then again, my theological/spiritual tendency is towards via negativa.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 9:09am BST

Ford- if you read back, you will see I have never defended Armstrong, Akinola or anyone else you don't like! You can stop asking me to see that "conservatives" ain't perfect because we agree 100% on that and I have said so before.

THe question which matters is, who is teaching disobedience to scripture and who is teaching faithfulness to it? ....even the ABC sees that now and realises we cannot forever sit around a table talking about the question when we have directly contradictory teaching using the same surce - it does not make sense and is damaging all involved

Posted by: NP on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 10:43am BST

"Even those who parrot off 'God is love' need to make sure their theology can cope with (eg) tsunamis".

Yes, that's the crux. Ultimately, via positiva people like me only have the option to trust, hope, have faith in the God we feel so strongly in our own lives, especially in times of deep personal suffering - and learn to put aside our desperate need to understand everything. Job, who was told that he would have to learn to live with questions is a great guide for me there.

People who have all the answers and no doubts scare me rigid.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 12:48pm BST

_Is anyone else ever uncertain or confused about some of the basics?_

Increasingly. I'm starting to be at a loss as to what they are. They are something to do with God, Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection. Having pulled them all to pieces they are a kind of linked up way of talking, a bit like a roundabout to travel around in the kind of conversation that takes place. But then there are lots of other conversations. So who knows? Add to that my liberal postmodernism of all sorts of different connections for the sake of other conversations and practices - and there is a lovely chaos.

I'm off to have a haircut. I understand there is a technique or a few involved. Just like theology then, except it has a few more techniques.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 2:04pm BST

Well, NP, for me the question is "who is teaching fidelity to the faith and who isn't?" Scripture explains the Tradition, but it is not the Tradition, so if, after due deliberation and with the guidance of the Spirit, the Church decides a certain action is consistent with the faith despite being opposed to Scripture, I have no problem with that. You, of course would think otherwise, since, for you, Scripture IS the faith. We disagree. You fellows are right when you say we have two different religions, I fear, and the question is whether or not "your" religion can coexist with "ours". That "ours" can coexist with "yours" has, I think, been shown by the fact that there has never been a move, as far as I am aware, to kick the Consevos out of the Church, despite all the contrived "oppression" one reads about.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 23 April 2007 at 3:03pm BST

Hi Ford - well, there is a man who should now be a bishop in SC who might disagree that conservatives do not face oppression..... what did you think of all that and the political machinations against a conservative who wanted to remain in TEC and serve as bishop (having been elected in SC)?

Posted by: NP on Monday, 23 April 2007 at 5:28pm BST

First, he was not at all clear about his loyalty to TEC, VGR's was never in question. Second, some "liberals" supported him out of a sense of balance, having supported VGR. Third, the Standing Committee of his diocese was responsible for getting the required committee approvals, they failed to do so in the six months they had and even were given an unprecedented extra three days grace, and that would not have been done for VGR, as you well know. Sorry, NP, in light of that, and especially points 2 and 3, a claim of oppression in this case sounds pretty contrived. Having said that, just like in New Hampshire, the people in the diocese know him better than I do.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 23 April 2007 at 7:53pm BST

Come on Ford - it surely was not all SC's fault, was it?

Anyway, I know from your postings that you are man who seeks after truth - and the truth is that on both sides, we are all sinners and capable of treating each other terribly - we all need to repent of that desire to win the argument and defeat our opponents and to focus on seeking after the truth in order to live lives pleasing to Him.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 9:07am BST

So now we go from "he's being oppressed" to "there's blame on both sides"? The last one is likely true, politics is never black or white. You're the one who claimed he was being oppressed, now you're backing away from that assertion. The man had six months to get the required consents, and when he failed, the horrible oppressive liberal TEC hierarchy gave him an extra three days, something never before done. You'd do well to draw back from an assertion that this constitutes oppression.

Posted by: Ford ELms on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 11:08am BST

Ford - did I say I was backing away from the assertion?

Fact: the man faced political problems in having his election recognised in TEC because he is a conservative- consents were witheld because he is a conservative....not a very liberal attitude!

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 1:07pm BST

My understanding is that consents were denied because he could not demonstrate that he would uphold the canons of the Church, specifically that he would not lead people into schism. Some "liberals" even voted for him. If you know otherwise, please demonstrate. It isn't enough for you on the other side of the pond to claim he was rejected for conservative beliefs because you have a need to feel persecuted.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 4:50pm BST

NP,
"....not a very liberal attitude!"

Without wanting to comment on the substance of your exchange with Ford - are you who deplores all things liberal really criticising others for not being liberal enough?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 6:04pm BST

http://diobeth.typepad.com/diobeth_newspin/files/decision_not_to_consent.pdf
http://www.episcopal-ks.org/news/SCstatement12-19-06.htm

NP, these two sites are the publically stated reasons why two diocesan Standing Committees did not consent. Both cite quite clearly that it had to do with their mistrust of his eleventh hour assurances, despite everything he has said before, that he would not lead his diocese into schism. Of course, if you want to see a liberal conspiracy in this, no-one will stop you, but I'm not convinced. Sorry, Erika, he has a right to demand liberals be internally consistent. I just don't think he's right in this case.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 6:54pm BST

"Sorry, Erika, he has a right to demand liberals be internally consistent"

Point taken!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 9:29am BST
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