Friday, 8 June 2007

Time magazine interviews Rowan Williams

Amended Saturday

Time magazine has the Archbishop of Canterbury on the front cover of the European and African editions:

In an exclusive interview with TIME, his last before a three-month leave, the Archbishop Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, describes the Anglican Communion as “very fragile” — and explains how he hopes to reconcile its bitter factions.

The feature article, written by David Van Biema and Catherine Mayer is headlined Saving Grace.

An edited interview transcript is headed Keeping the Faith but there is also a podcast mp3 file (9 Mb) under the title Anglicanism in Crisis which contains much more material than the transcript.

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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

Has the "communion" been elevated to such a position that it has become the new "golden calf"? Have we become idolators and bowed down to a new Baal? Shall the new "god of communion" delude and devour us or should we smash it so we can focus on other priorities?

Posted by: ettu on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 12:45pm BST

This interview clarifies that RW has not "recanted" the liberal views he put forward away back.

"It's impossible to get from Scripture anything straightforwardly positive about same-sex relationships."

Teaching 1 Samuel, I notice that my students find something very positive in the David and Jonathan story (definitely a story of same-sex love). What Scripture is negative toward is same-sex sexual acts. Of course there is Paul's account of same-sex desire as divinely inflicted punishment for idolatry, but that surely can be handled in the same way as the very firm assertion in the epistle to Titus that "all Cretans are liars".

" So if there were any other way of approaching it, you'd have to go back to the first principle of human relationships."

Absolutely, natural law reasoning, or just rational ethical reasoning, should be primary. Biblical blueprints about sexual ethics are archaic and unworkable for the most part.

" Those theologians who've defended same-sex relationships from the Christian point of view in recent decades have said you've got to look at whether a same-sex relationship is capable of something at the level of neutral [MUTUAL?] self-giving that a marriage ought to exemplify. And then ask, is that what Scripture is talking about? That's the area of dispute."

First establish is by empirical observation and ethical reasoning, and the Scripture dimension will look after itself.

Posted by: Fr Joe O'Leary on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 1:31pm BST

I wonder whether Dr Rowan by "anything positive" doesn't mean "a positive statement", that is whether the Bible actually addresses the issue at hand.

And I think it is rather on the safe side to say it doesn't.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 2:04pm BST

What is wrong with this is saying about corporate change comes first, first and foremost being a bishop (which he was before when he had the other view expressed). No, first and foremost we are people, who have pains and suffer, and it might well be that first we produce the example in human terms and then work out a corporate position, that there are individuals and their expressed experiences and that these become the corporate view. He, Rowan Williams, is also an indvidual, with views and beliefs and anxieties.

A Church ought to be different from corporate land or traditionalist automata - it is people. And communion is an expression of people, not people an expression of communion.

This, in my view, is where he has funamentally gone wrong. The reason Anglicanism has bonds of affection, has an informal set of get-togethers, is because it recognises these matters are, in the end, organic. Its people within are the expressers, the experts if preferred, at all levels, and the rest follows on.

The fundamental principle is humanity, and a humanity that covers all kinds of longings and pains, and these include various sexualities, and, on the positive side, expressions of love for a particular other.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 2:09pm BST

RW: " ...my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn't made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case"

What difference would that have made? Those who fabricated the whole "tearing the fabric of the Communion" fantasy would still be at daggars drawn.

RW: "As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop — I find that bizarre and puzzling."

But it's alright for the clergy and laity apparently - for those several valient members of the last General Synod who spoke openly about their relationships -but not for bishops. Where is the coherence, theological or otherwise, in that argument?

RW: "In Egypt there have been denunciations of all Christian churches from the Friday pulpits for sanctioning same-sex relationships."

So this makes it right to discriminate against gays, does it?

RW: "It's not for me to exploit my position to push a change"

So another Wilberforce would be inappropriate for the role of ABC?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 2:59pm BST

I find this statement from the transcript quite interesting: "I'm now in a position where I'm bound to say the teaching of the Church is this, the consensus is this." I wonder where he sees the necessity. Despite the reporters' odd phrase of "useful authoritarianism," they're correct that the Communion has to this point always resisted that.

He is in a position where he is bound to tell the truth - and, aren't we all? The more accurate statement would be, "The Commuinion has no official teaching, nor any mechanism to promulgate such, on this topic; the majority opinion among bishops appears to be this." For someone of his erudition, that shouldn't be hard to see.

That said, the fact that he wants to speak for "the Church" is quite telling. He wants an ecclesiology, and an ecclesial structure for the Communion, more centralized than we have - not just like Rome, but ever so incrementally closer to Rome. Perhaps we would be better off if he were public and explicit about that. I think it would be more explosive in the Communion than the proxy issues around human sexuality.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 3:55pm BST

"So this makes it right to discriminate against gays, does it?"
No, but it means that if we are to call ourselves Christians, then we have to consider whether our right to, as I said on another thread, "claim the blessing" supercedes the right of some Egyptian or Nigerian Christian to life itself. At the very least, it demands an explanation of why we think our rights are so much more important.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 4:03pm BST

The banquet is ready, but are the Anglican invitees? We must go out into the fields and hedgerows and invite the poor, the sinners etc The expansive nature of the founder seems missing somehow. It must not be a club but a table made ready for anyone to dine at the banquet. It is so unfortunate that communion, a sharing experience is so divisive. I wonder if the religious, the tax gatherers, the unclean and the prostites gathered at Jesus' table had such worries.
Essentially, the structure needs to change (!) as the world has done and Anglicanism go forwards to a new future which is loose, diverse and free of colonial trappings.

Posted by: The choirmaster on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 6:02pm BST

RW: " ...my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn't made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case"

Life would be so much smoother if everything happened in an orderly way. Many white religious leaders told MLK that the time wasn't ripe for the Birmingham bus boycott ... Thomas a Becket should have been a deacon then a priest then a bishop for a dozen years at least before being made Archbishop of Canterbury ...

Why fret about the order of events that happened 6 years ago? Unless the ABC knows the secret of time travel, perhaps he should start dealing with reality.

+Gene was legally elected, consented to, consecrated, and now serves the people of New Hampshire. There is no reaosn not to invite him to Lambeth.

TEC has not tried to send him across primatal and diocesan borders to ordain people for the Diocese of NHIA [New Hampshire in Africa]. People who act like this, however, ought, in an ideal world, to be told to stay home and study chuch history and grography.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 6:33pm BST

"The more accurate statement would be, "The Commuinion has no official teaching, nor any mechanism to promulgate such, on this topic.""

That, I think, is accurate, but it also keys up the instability of the situation. As new theological questions come up, as they undoubtedly will when the current controversies are history, the important question seems to be whether the Communion will be able to address and resolve them, rather than splitting over them. The notion of "ecumenical councils" seems beyond the pale. Presumably the much-mooted covenant may fill the need.

Posted by: rick allen on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 7:11pm BST

"we have to consider whether our right to, as I said on another thread, "claim the blessing" supercedes the right of some Egyptian or Nigerian Christian to life itself."

Come now, Ford. Those who COMMIT VIOLENCE are responsible for that violence---not "Adam&Steve" claiming the blessing half a world away.

This is not to say that TEC can't do more about, for example, "Egyptian or Nigerian Christian(s)". But doing so *at the sole expense* of their LGBT members strikes me as not only profoundly *unChristian*, but distinctly *ineffective* at making a difference in the actual lives of those Egyptian or Nigerian Christians. Does anyone believe that if (God forbid!) +Gene Robinson were removed as bishop, even one life, anywhere, would be preserved from harm?

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 7:20pm BST

"grography" oops! But wouldn't that be an interesting sub-branch of geography? Mapping pubs and distilleries? Perhaps a hobby for retired ABCs? Geography would be the study I commend to the boundary-boppers, specifically, the boundaries of provinces and dioceses ...

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 8:26pm BST

Ford,
"No, but it means that if we are to call ourselves Christians, then we have to consider whether our right to, as I said on another thread, "claim the blessing" supercedes the right of some Egyptian or Nigerian Christian to life itself"

I've just read through a number of threads again, and what stands out for me is Greg's heartache about the way the church treats him, the encouragement others have given him, and his resolve to "be still and know that I am God".

Trying to fight the injustice that causes this kind of hurt is not the same as stridently claiming my "right for a blessing".

It goes without saying that we also fight for the lives of the Egyptian or Nigerian at the same time. Or are you saying that their lives would be less endangered if we abandoned our quest for the recognition of the equality God has given us?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 9:15pm BST

Ford,
the other reason why it's right to fight for full inclusion (which I do believe is a God given grace, otherwise I wouldn't dare fight for it), is because I love my faith, I love my church, and I am deeply troubled by the large number of people who leave it because they see it as increasingly intolerant and “un-Christian”.
My own friends and family understand why I live with a woman, they don't understand why I want to cling on to my faith.

I want them and all the other many many who have left to know that I firmly believe the church is going wrong, that this wrong can be put right, and that the God who stands above it all is truly worth bothering about.

I want my partner’s grown up children to come back to faith and not look at us with uncomprehending pity when we tell them about another rejection.
I want my own children to see Christianity as an option, and not as the organisation that suddenly dropped their mother when we started to live as a new family. They truly don’t see why we had been loved by the church before and are now considered to be beyond the pale. We try to help them to a mature faith, but it’s hard!

It matters, Ford, it matters not just to us direct “victims”, but it matters to all the others that don’t count in the church statistics because they’re no longer with us.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 9:27pm BST

As an ex public servant, I empathise with Rowan's comment "I'm now in a position where I'm bound to say the teaching of the Church is this, the consensus is this. We have not changed our minds corporately. It's not for me to exploit my position to push a change."

As an ex public servant, I can also say that there were times that I was hated by particular managers. After my last manager was recruited into my office, one manager came to her to explain why I should be removed from the organisation. She was quite taken aback and asked me about our tensions. My comments were that this was one of the most difficult managers in the team, often had 3 or 4 people working on the same problem, victimised some staff, kept staff doing redundant work with redundant skill sets so that their organisation structure stayed large. My comment was that if this particular manager liked me, then I had failed in my job. I should not be liked by such a manager because they were a hazard to their workplace and thus the whole organisation.

My other comments is that I wonder whether Rowan will go down in history as a Wilberforce, a Pilate, or a third configuration. It is honorable, loyal and desirable to respect your organisation and position. But sometimes you need to ask if what the power brokers are lobbying for is reasonable or responsible, or whether their methods are ethical. My fear is like in Luke 23:12-25, the arbitrator will give in to the screams of the angry priests, even though he might know in himself that the charges are against innocents.

As a clarification, I do not think we should be arguing for equality. Males have penises, and women have wombs. Male to female bonding can reasonably lead to conception. Male to male or female to female bonding can not. That is a biological fact.

Rather than arguing for equality, it should be a stake for dignity. That every child born should be able to grow up with sufficient food, clean water, shelter and free from violence. Every child should be able to enter into relationships appropriate to their age and without duress. Every child should be able to provide for themselves and for their dependents. Every child genuinely wanted, whether they be by birth or through adoption. Every parent wanting their child to be safe, well and in loving relationships and communities.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 8 June 2007 at 11:26pm BST

What about these situations, common I might add in many places in the world. It's not quite so either/or in which right to life is nearly denied at all for gay persons elsewhere in the world.

http://revkirkley.blogspot.com/2007/05/making-connections.html

http://gayuganda.blogspot.com/

I do also think that we need to address why Christianity should follow the worst forms of Islamic fundamentalism and meet it match for match.

And Fr. Marshall I posted on exactly that today. Indeed, what's emerging is a Roman form with a Genevan content.

Posted by: *Christopher on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 1:29am BST

I learned a long time ago that being "understanding" instead of "standing" strongly for my MORAL beliefs was not being a loving Christian, nor being democratic/tolerant, nor being a especially good listener/friend, nor being a innocent victim of "outcomes" that became out-of-control...I was merely being a very sick/selfish, slothful and feckless codependent who allowed *others* to take full control of dicy situations and therefore I could avoid being RESPONSIBLE for any unpleasantness and THEY could be blamed and it WOULDN'T BE ME if *things* didn't work out in the end!

Archbishop Rowan, you've gone way beyond being a "good listener"...you're now a accomplice to some spiritually unpleasant, Communion wide hysteria/grandstanding and some seeming immoral, legally *questionable* aggressive behavior as a few Global South Bishops steal REAL property in the name of EXCLUDING fellow Christians from all levels of OUR Church life and they have also abandoned Communion with same "Outcasts" (and their families, friends, fellow parishners) at The Body of Christ.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 2:18am BST

Cheryl
"As a clarification, I do not think we should be arguing for equality. Males have penises, and women have wombs. Male to female bonding can reasonably lead to conception. Male to male or female to female bonding can not. That is a biological fact."

It is also completely irrelevant.
Men and women have different body bits, that does not mean I expect them to be treated differently in any area of life.

Heterosexual couples have body bits that don't work as they might, so we have IVF, adoption, fostering and childless couples.
Gay couples have body bits that don't produce children, but I find myself in a family with my own two children. My friends are fostering children.

These families have come about through a variety of means, but they are living lives indistinguishable from any other nuclear family.
So why not call them equal and treat them equally?

"Equal but different" has been abused too often to remain credible.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 9:05am BST

Cheryl,
We would also talk about which areas of life gay people are not to be treated equally.

Why should the fact that a couple cannot have children mean that they cannot be readers, priests or bishops? Does childlessness mean that their brains are wired in such a way that they cannot understand or preach the Gospel of Christ?

If there is no male or female in Christ, then surely, neither is there straight or gay.
In all our differences in all manner of aspects in life, we are still equal.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 11:08am BST

Cheryl,
We would also talk about which areas of life gay people are not to be treated equally.

Why should the fact that a couple cannot have children mean that they cannot be readers, priests or bishops? Does childlessness mean that their brains are wired in such a way that they cannot understand or preach the Gospel of Christ?

If there is no male or female in Christ, then surely, neither is there straight or gay.
In all our differences in all manner of aspects in life, we are still equal.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 11:21am BST

Erika

May God bless your passion to protect those who were made outcaste (note past tense in sentence).

I want all humanity able to live with dignity and respect. I want people who are able to raise children safely to be able to raise children and those who are not save near children not able to abuse them. (As a survivor of incest abuse before I was even out of diapers by my "father" I desire that no child be abused).

I do not desire to be a male. I do not desire that males become female. I do not desire that we all become alike.

What I desire is that we recognise that it is not good to be alone, that we thrive better in company, and that we trust that God has a plan to place each and every one of us in a community and family where we will be loved and honored.

That can not happen when babies are born by duress, simply to give sacrificial numbers for the next conflict with "the enemy". Nor can it happen where some children are rejected simply because their parents' marriage was "unsuitable". Nor can it happen when we do not trust God and reject those that are "imperfect" or "incomplete".

"Every child wanted" means every child is through mutual consent (no rape and forcing open of wombs) or is adopted into a family that genuinely wants them.

I want each and every soul to be able to honestly love. I want each and every soul to be able to feel the vulnerability of caring for a dependant soul, the responsibility for safely providing for them, and the rejoicing that they actualise the best possible for their circumstances.

"It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). This happened because problems happened and God realised that a soul needs to be needed to be complete in itself, it is the need of other souls that lend a strength to survive the dark times and a joy to rejoice in lighter times.

Adam might have felt sufficient unto himself, but God recognised Adam had a need to be needed. Eve knew she needed a soul mate from her creation, but Adam was in denial that he needed Eve and saw her an an imposition.

Eve can not make herself "equal" to Adam, as Adam existed before Eve. What Eve can do is point out that Adam unto himself is neither complete nor happy. It is only once Adam recognises that he needs a soulmate (whether that be Eve or another male or another female) that Adam will become satiated enough to focus on his responsibilities as steward to Eden.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 12:34pm BST

I must confess a certain sympathy for ++Williams' predicament, especially since there are so many out to bully and intimidate him. He is facing the prospect of Anglicanism coming unglued and turning into something unrecognizable under his watch. He must straddle a line between aroused African colonial resentments and an equally intense inflamed American nationalism in response. He must walk between the competing claims of historically oppressed peoples (claims that really should not be competing). He must also mediate between visions of Christian vocation that have become mutually exclusive; the Church as immutable repository of absolute timeless truth vs. The Church as composed of fallible sinners blindly groping their way through history trusting God to work through them for the healing and restoration of a world full of fellow fallible sinners. I believe that he has no desire to see his office transformed into any kind of papacy, or as the focus of a kind of collective papacy of the primates. I doubt that he has much enthusiasm for the proposed "covenant" other than as a way to relieve him of so many of the burdens of decision laid upon his office, for which it was never intended.
However, I agree with what someone said over at Jake's blog that his approach has been more managerial than pastoral. Too often, he follows the bureaucrat's first commandment; when in doubt, mumble. Too often, he tries to split things down the middle, and ends up with a 2 halves of a dead baby. So many of his decisions come off as spineless, such as his sacrifice of Jeffry John, and his reluctance to meet with the American House of Bishops until the last possible moment. It also doesn't help that English bishops frequently speak to Americans with the tone of irritated headmasters; even when they are trying to be nice.

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 1:49pm BST

Many ordinary Anglicans outside TEC find its polity difficult to understand. Before 2003 I was mostly ignorant of their internal life nd the deep divisions this polity allowed (even nurtured).

The way this multi-Province and trans-national branch of the Anglican Communion has developed over the past few centuries was itself a surprise. From its complex foundation, through the continental expansion of the United States to its growth in the 19th century during times of bitter “catholic” and “evangelical” rivalries, to the way this Province formulated its federal governance were (and in part still remain) a mystery!

Coming from a close-knit (if ancient) Province of only six bishops in a country smaller (numerically) than some English diocese, such vastness, diversity and complexity is breathtaking. In Wales stories once abounded of the local ordinary descending on parish churches to physically remove copies of the English Missal from the altar in an attempt to maintain uniformity and Order!

Coming as I do from such a Province where Order is held in such high regard and having been raised in the tradition of – as we pray, so we believe - this extract from a letter I wrote early last year to a former neighbour tells how outsiders like this Welsh boy feel when trying to understand TEC:
“My short visits to the US for “conversations” over the last few years have left me amazed by the situations I found there. Personally, I find it quite interesting that ECUSA can elect a bishop in a same sex partnership while still being in considerable disarray over how they liturgically welcome that relationship; it doesn’t seem to faze them at all! But then there seems so little general understanding of how ECUSA is constituted or how different their regulations are from somewhere like Nigeria.”

It seems that America’s Episcopal Church is to a large degree the Anglican Communion in microcosm and that its strains and stresses are played out there is such a way as to pull all the factions of the world-wide church into the fray. It remains a constant problem for those outside and inside America to deal with the way they have chosen to govern themselves.
(More follows)

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 2:28pm BST

(Cont)
In this entire furore my greatest admiration has always been reserved for Bishop Michael Ingham.

Assailed by constant demands from his Diocesan Synod to allow same-sex blessings this kind and learned man at first demurred. Realising that this was not going to go away and that it was a genuine concern of his local church, this little diocese with small resources, consulted widely in Canada and then sent a team half way round the world to consult with the ACC and to lay out their stall. The Welsh representatives at the ACC still speak with deep respect about this and believe bishop Ingham acted completely honourably.

My belief remains that in trying to restore “Order” while maintaining “ardour” within the Anglican Communion the chosen processes have failed and will continue to fail as long as they dishonour the various polities present in the member churches. It should be remembered that Rowan while mocking the order of allowing a consecration of a partnered gay bishop before approving same-sex blessings has also been struggling to ensure BOTH possibilities are closed down for the foreseeable future.
Something not quite honest about that.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 2:29pm BST

Cheryl,
yes to all that. But "equal" does not mean "the same", and that, according to the bible (recorded by men, and not according to science), man was born first,does not mean he has any more importance.

My children were born one after the other, they are not the same as each other, but in my eyes they are absolutely equal, and both have equal rights and responsibilities in my family.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 3:34pm BST

Perhaps the thng to keep in mind about the Episcopal Church is that it is just as broad and internally conflicted as the country it was founded in. And it was always so.

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 4:11pm BST

" ...my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn't made a general principled decision.....I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case"

I agree. A church, like a person should know whether something is right or wrong before doing it. Unfortunately it is also true as some have mentioned that the church already gave silent acceptance by letting it slide in other clergies lifestyles. That was an error I think.

At first I thought the differences weren't significant, or at least could be overlooked. It sounds lovely to affirm all peoples' rights and dignity, to say that we're inclusive, but does that mean there are NO boundaries that matter?
What makes a Christian?
Paying lip service to the liturgy or a Creed even if you don't believe it literally? Seems Anglicans/Episcopalians don't have to believe Christ is the only way to heaven, or in his divinity,or literal virgin birth, or literal resurrection. Needing salvation from sin isn't a required belief. You can believe other religions(Hinduism, Paganism, Islam--I'd love to know what Muslims think of that) and still be a priest in the church.
The only things required seem to be believing that "God is love", mentioning Christ now and then in sermons,and NOT holding tight to traditional teachings. Even the meaning of "believe" isn't agreed on.

What makes a Christian? Or an Anglican?
And if there's no agreement on that, where's the community? Couldn't a covenant help?

Posted by: Chris H. on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 6:57pm BST

Chris H expressed incredulity that someone might
pay "lip service to the liturgy or a Creed even if you don't believe it literally?"

I'm not being supercilious, but 'literally'? What does that mean in relation to the 325/381 Greek philosophical construct we call 'the Nicene Creed'? Even the noddy lines like 'He ascended into heaven' could cause fun, and that's before I ask what literal belief in the homoousios might look like.

I seem to remember that one of the things which fuelled the creed-making industry was that previous creeds always revealed themselves capable of being taken on all sorts of different levels. Did that process really stop at Constantinople?

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 9 June 2007 at 8:52pm BST

"Paying lip service to the liturgy or a Creed even if you don't believe it literally? Seems Anglicans/Episcopalians don't have to believe Christ is the only way to heaven, or in his divinity,or literal virgin birth, or literal resurrection. Needing salvation from sin isn't a required belief. You can believe other religions(Hinduism, Paganism, Islam--I'd love to know what Muslims think of that) and still be a priest in the church."

So, did someone finally invent that "window into men's souls" and take out a patent on it? I missed the news that day. I haven't the foggiest idea what ANYONE really believes in their heart of hearts when they say the Creeds.
Frankly, I don't care because it's not my business.

Christianity degenerates steadily into just another form of Gnosis open only to the intitiates.
At least that's a small step above reducing the entire content of the Faith to "No Gays!"

Posted by: counterlight on Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 4:22am BST

I mentioned the Creed because someone on this site, in another thread I believe, mentioned there was no need for a Covenant because there was already a creed. What of the other questions?

Does being inclusive mean No boundaries?
What makes a person a Christian or Anglican? Since Schori says Christianity is "a way", why be Christian at all?
And if one has Pagan-Anglicans, Hindu-Anglican, Muslim-Anglicans--can there be "community" when no one knows what "Anglican" beliefs are?
Or is Anglicanism the "smells and bells" and priests can say whatever they like. Couldn't a covenant help some of the confusion?

Posted by: Chris H. on Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 2:45pm BST

Chris H.,
"Seems Anglicans/Episcopalians don't have to believe..."
Really? Your first point usually means, "if you ain't a Christian, you're going to Hell." And getting into Heaven when you die, is that what Redemption is all about? Eternal life is an expression of the fact that Christ gives us the victory over everything, including death. Our status as redeemed children of God doesn't somehow begin at death, it's here, now. We are still awaiting our final perfection, but to suggest that we have to wait till we die to experience the joy of redemption is decidedly odd, ISTM. The rest of the things you mention are hardly mainstream. Frankly, some of the stuff that goes on in Evo/Charismatic churches is no more in line with the faith than denial of the Resurrection. If we can withstand the recasting of hysteria as a sign of holiness (my sinful judgement), we can withstand the musings of a few apostates who have lost their faith (your sinful judgement). What makes you think the things you mention are anything like mainstream Anglican belief?

"Couldn't a covenant help?"

We already HAVE a convenant! It was made in blood 2000 years ago and is renewed every Sunday when we make Eucharist. If that God-made covenant isn't enough, what better thing can we fallible humans make? For us to make a covenant of our own is to say that all that Christ has done just isn't enough.

"We really can't get behind this 'love one another as I have loved you' business. We have to define who is worth accepting and who must be excluded, thanks all the same, God. This whole business of loving one another, well, that's just too politically correct to make any sense."

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 10 June 2007 at 3:24pm BST

Erika

I think we agree yet this discourse might help in the broader debate.

One concern in demanding absolute equality is it becoming absurd e,g if we demand that homosexual couples are given absolutely equivalent rights to heterosexual couples, we would then argue that all children must be adopted (since homosexuals can not conceive with each other, at least not yet :-0).

Then there is the argument about suitable parentage. There are those who argue that homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt because they fear for the children's wellbeing. When examined the debate comes down to whether the children should be exposed to their parents' sexual activies, or violated or exposed to excessive aggression within the home. Legitimate concerns, but then it is reasonable to argue that if the church/state/community has a right and obligation to protect children from witnessing or experiencing such things in a homosexual homes; then they have the same obligations to protect children in heterosexual homes.

There then comes the screams about it's not just children who get violated, there are those who are physically handicapped (e.g. immobolised, brain damaged). Then it is possible to contrive circumstances where souls can be exploited even if they are adults and healthy (e.g. drugged, trapped, discredited, sold into slavery or prostitution). We are obliged to protect these souls as well.

It becomes logical to say that each and every soul needs to be protected. It also becomes clear that no soul is safe if any soul thinks it is above being held accountable. Thus God's covenants cover male and female, pure and afflicted, friend and foe. To exclude or deprive anyone is to put at risk everyone.

Yes, we both agree that there are differences, but that does not mean that one should be less respected than the other. Once again, the Jews have once again thrown a ball that helps. This excellent article went up overnight, I think you will enjoy their insights on the masculine and feminine http://www.torah.org/features/wperspective/womansuccess.html

My other comment is that if God had not introduce the blemished feminine into Creation, then energy would have remained universally uniform and not been drawn into dark holes; which led to the formation of stars, dust, space and thus the life itself. Eve comments to Adam that while praise is lovely, sometimes you have to get off your ass and make things manifest.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 12:43am BST

It's getting interesting, isn't it. I read this book, The Inclusive God, closely, and other than the crassness of the approach, there is a fundamental problem. There is the inclusiveness of Jesus within the Jewish setting, and there is no substantial doubt about that. Then the problem immediately to any inclusive scheme is the birth and development of the Church, including within the Scriptures. They contain exclusivist statements. In one sense Rowan Williams' own Catholicism, his statements on real presence, and that he can "do no other" except unity (as stated to General Synod) does have a consistent logic to it right down to aspects of those early days and the development from them.

You know how it is - back problems return for a day, I still go to Grimsby so we can carry the food, a chair is available in the bookshop, and I even get my notebook out and read chunks of John Hick's The Fifth Dimension (2004). It has transcendence in it, but it clears the decks in the way that the Shakespeare and Rayment-Pickard book does not. Its inclusiveness is covered partly via three chapters on Gandhi, it does manage to cover particularlity in the various myths and then something more universal. I don't quite go wholly with Hick; I'm still more Cupitt but not quite Cupitt either. I'm not supernaturalist. But I understand what Hick means calling Christianity a true myth post Renaissance and Enlightenment.

It does not matter to me that Episcopal priest Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding is also a Muslim, or that Rev. David Hart is also a Hindu. Both are in or from the university setting. Both understand what Hick calls true myth.

Hick talks about a second Christianity, and it may just have to have institutional change (i.e. division). Whether or not, Anglicanism is about shared and ordered worship, or at least it was. It is about immersing into the myth and letting it work upon one's own reflections and conversations.

Oh and I ordered Hick's book today. I had to because it became part of the main conversation arising from the review.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 11 June 2007 at 2:29am BST

Pluralist says "It does not matter to me that Episcopal priest Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding is also a Muslim, or that Rev. David Hart is also a Hindu. "

Well, fine - for a pluralist.....but it might matter to someone who says things like "Nobody comes to the Father but by me" and his Father who has a record of being somewhat exclusive in his relationship with his people as even Solomon found out to his cost

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 1:03pm BST

"Nobody comes to the Father but by me"

Just curious,NP, what does this mean? I know what I would answer to that, and I believe it, BTW, I just wonder if maybe you're answer compared with mine might be enlightening.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 4:27pm BST

That should, of course, read "your". This fan of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is mortified!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 at 6:41pm BST

The Father,

Who came to Abraham before there were Jews, to Jews before there was Jesus. Who Jesus acknowledged sent him and authorised him to act and to whom Jesus accorded all honor.

That Father can introduce himself to whoever he wants, whenever he wants, on whatever continent or planet that he wants.

Jesus isn't stupid enough to fight God or deny God the right to offer dispensation, it would void the precepts that gave him authority.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 12:48am BST

Ford,

Your posting about Eats, Shoots and Leaves has been high point in a very sad day (my dog had very bad seizures and was put down today).

Before that happened, I found myself chuckling over your imagery.

It reminded me of the divine presence in early Judaic history. Our Lord, we're going to war, so here are the sacrifices. The Divine Presence comes and partakes of the sacrifices, the Presence then Shoots off (directly or indirectly) and after the battle is over Leaves.

So the Wombat joke has become a joke within a joke. Something I am sure that God appreciates as much as I do...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 13 June 2007 at 12:58pm BST

Well, Ford, I think the Lord means what he says....one reason many religious people did not like him was that he made such exclusive claims about himself, as you know

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 14 June 2007 at 9:18am BST

Well three times in Shakespeares and Rayment-Pickard's book (2006) The Inclusive God this text is referred to, the argument made that it is what Jesus Christ stands for, his open table and arms wide friendship, that is the meaning of that text. My own view is that the text should be taken as a whole, and is a construction of the early Church. Certainly Christ made no "recorded" speeches against other organised faiths, and indeed is hardly a concern of an early movement expecting the immanent end. I rather warm to the view that Jesus was first and foremost a healer and exorcist, whose activity was framed in a last days setting and a reversal ethic where ordinary folk also could enter the Kingdom with sins removed, even more likely to do so than some of the apparently well and well off. So I am happy with a plurality of views and stances.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 14 June 2007 at 1:56pm BST

Pluralist - if you write out all the teachings of JC, you will see that he is not the man you have created....but then you will claim they are made up anyway so there is no point, do not waste your time

Posted by: NP on Friday, 15 June 2007 at 7:20am BST
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