Monday, 17 September 2007

ABC goes to the USA

Updated Monday evening

As the Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to go to the USA and visit New Orleans, there is a website established by the Diocese of Louisiana devoted specifically to his visit. (h/t DL)

There are also various press reports about what may happen next.

Christopher Landau reports for the BBC What future for Anglicanism?

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports for the Sunday Telegraph Archbishop fears split over gay clergy

Robert Barr reports for the Associated Press Anglican Leader in U.S. Over Gay Bishop

Neela Banerjee reports for the New York Times Episcopal Church Faces Deadline on Gay Issues

Daniel Burke reports for Religion News Service Episcopal Church faces same-sex deadline

Updated links
The Sunday programme on BBC radio had an item about this:
Go here (6 minutes long).
Archbishop Peter Akinola, and journalist Stephen Bates are interviewed.
For a longer version of the Peter Akinola interview go here ( URL valid this week only).

The Episcopal News Service has a new monthly video programme. The first programme, available to watch here, has fascinating material about the situation in Louisiana and Mississippi following Katrina.

ENS also has a report on the responses made across the Episcopal Church to “a study document aimed at helping the House of Bishops respond to the requests made to them by the Primates of the Anglican Communion”: One third of dioceses respond to Bishops’ communiqué study document.

The Living Church reports on two other aspects:

Modified Primatial Vicar Plan to Be Proposed to Bishops

Bishop Henderson Withdraws Report Endorsement; Doug LeBlanc has a succinct summary of this report here.

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Comments

I find all this reporting highly dubious since the schism, split, 'walking apart' is already de facto. Many provinces in Africa have relegated and reduced themselves to the status of a sect by virtue of ordaining episcopi vagans.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:08am BST

Yeah, right, Neil......so you think the ABC is going to visit with the TEC(USA) HOB, hear them continue to refuse to give the assurances repeatedly requested by ALL the Primates of the AC (eg Dromantine/ TWR/ Tanzania) ..... and then say that those who will not accept TEC(USA) ignoring lots of scripture & these repeated requests are the ones who can leave if they want???

Even those who do not always agree with him say the ABC is an intelligent man - he ain't going over to the US to ask the TEC(USA) HOB to comply with the Primates repeated requests only to say that if they do not, there are no consequences except that TEC's opponents in the AC must leave - that would be silly asnd a terrible waste of energy, airplane fuel and verbage!

As Spong has pointed out, the ABC has a 4 year track record of acting against TEC's deliberate "tearing of the fabric of the Communion" - so, you are right, actually, the schism has been obvious for a while...... since 2003, in fact, when the ABC and ALL the Primates asked TEC(USA) very clearly not to destroy the unity of the AC as consequences would have to follow....we are living with the consequences of TEC's 2003 schismatic behaviour

Posted by: NP on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 12:30pm BST

Big Pete's demeanor in the BBC interview is very telling. He's hateful. He's full of wrath. What does the scripture say about the wrath of man NP? Something about it doesn't fulfill the righteousness of God?

It's predictable enough. There's a screaming anger that's going to blindly act out of ill informed bigotry. Whatever behavior modification, institutional program or covenanted community of the orthodox comes out of this, the base motive is observable right there in Akinola's rant. Not a good basis for action. Wouldn't you say NP?

Posted by: Curtis on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 3:41pm BST

Interesting, isn't it, that a few Global South primates see a deadline, along with the Common Cause partners (significant overlap notwithstanding), and some members of the press, when the Archbishop of Canterbury does not.

I think, NP, that the Archbishop is playing hard brinksmanship. He is determined to be the last person to leave the table, and, while he has the table at least, not to change the rules of the game. That seems to be his way of retaining as much as possible of "the-Anglican-Communion-as-we-have-known-it." Despairing of persuading him to change the rules, some folks speak of a deadline, and of leaving to establish a new table of their own with new rules. If Canterbury has consistently acknowledged some discomfort with actions of the Episcopal Church (and I think that's the best description), he has never gone so far as to give hope and comfort to those who wish to leave. I do not expect him to do so now. He has called for long discussion and real listening, and I would not expect him to suddenly leap away from that; for that would be for him to leave the table.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 3:43pm BST

SPONG!!!

Posted by: Walt on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 3:47pm BST

NP,
What will you have after TEC is kicked out in October?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 3:53pm BST

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred. And mayhap the Episcopal Church in the United States hath also erred.

But it is Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Souther Cone who have established themselves as scismatics by the ordination of, as Neil so properly put it, episcopi vagans.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 5:24pm BST

Oh dear, NP has returned with his/her "In the name of the Dromantine, and of the Windsor Report, and of the unholy Tanzania, Amen."

By the way, NP, Bishop Spong is not at all the issue, any more than some of the more radical fundamentalists on the fringe of the Anglcian Communion would be the issue.

There are loonies on the extreme left, just as there are loonies on the extreme right. But, for all his faults of logic and weaknesses in courtesy, at least Spong isn't complicit in encouraging murderous acts against faithful Anglicans who have been marginalized by many on the right, whatever his theological baggage might be.

You, my friend, see Archbishop Williams caving in to the more radical elements on the right, while I see him rejecting that and taking a more centrist position, much closer to what Archbishop Sentamu, and the Primate of Ireland, and the Primus of Scotland, and others, have encouraged.

Both of us will just have to wait and see who is right.

[I'll try not to gloat, I promise.]

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 7:02pm BST

NP:

That only happens if the ABC wants to try and run the Communion without TEC's money.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 8:23pm BST

NP:

While we may be on the same side more-or-less, I don't trust the ABC nearly as much as you seem to. I suspect he will try to get whatever half-baked concessions he can from TEC and will then try to claim that whatever piddlin' bone(s) TEC throws out meet the demands of the AC. I think you're right that he would like to preserve the AC, but he wants to preserve it with everybody (especially TEC $$) at the table. (Apologies if I sound overly cynical here). Consequently, I'm looking for some "peace in our time" Chamberlain-esque paper waving and posturing myself. Time will tell, and I hope I have to eat my words, but I'm definitely not bettin' on it.

Steven

PS-I actually think the same is also true of a lot of other AC primates and bishops--I suspect there will be a lot of sweating and temporizing when they are finally faced with loss of TEC $$, leading to some surprising defections. I hope I'm wrong, but . . .

Posted by: Steven on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 8:58pm BST

It is not a straight choice any more. It is not enough, any more, to remove invitations that were given in the full knowledge of decisions being taken and the timetable available within TEC. It is between keeping the Archbishop's own agenda and having to, according to the Nigerians, postpone the Lambeth Conference, call a special primates' meeting instead, rush ahead with a restrictive Covenant (instead of processing it through to completion, if it is, by about 2012). He is not going to introduce a manipulated primates meeting instead of a Lambeth Conference, which is specifically set up for discussion and study.

NP, you really should keep up with what options are being presented. It is the Nigerians and others to decide whether they are going to carry out the schism, or eat a rather wopping piece of humble pie - it is not for the Archbishop to discipline TEC, even if he could. He does not have that function, and has said that his task is to keep people around the table.

As the situation changes, do keep up.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:17pm BST

We are all also living with the consequences of a theology that decreed that God doesn't care what is made manifest in this world, as God is going to replace it with a new one.

So we didn't have to worry about leaving mineral or oil reserves for future generations. We didn't have to worry about establishing peace; in fact there are those that deliberately destabilized other societies and nations to further their own self interests. We didn't have to worry about teaching our children about how to be peaceful, after all, the pulpit exists to teach souls how and why they should insult and mistreat women, GLBTs, non-Christians (even other denominations). We didn't have to establish laws that were consistently applied across all society, as long as the godly ones were protected then the rest were only receiving punishment in anticipation of what they were going to experience in hell and purgatory. Of course the church existed to endorse and provide cannon fodder and breeding wombs for the never ending rounds of warfare and genocide attempts.

I don't mind a schism with such sanctimonious hypocritical blind selfish tyranny, repression and vilification. I do not know nor desire their God (Daniel 11:37). Good riddance.

Most of these papers are conjecture. The cards need to be played and the players make their choices. Then we start to contemplate what the next best steps forward are.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 9:33pm BST

Hmm, as the meeting between the HoB and ABC (plus) nears and happens, do I detect a clear heightening of the realignment community screeching?

Shouts range from: Get the filthy homosexuals,
to: Punish the liberal believers for daring to say they have an ethical or theological belief system for their progressive following of Jesus of Nazareth,
to: Down with modernity aka The Great Dead End,
to fastidious realignment repeats of: There Is Only One True God And We Alone Are His Followers, to: ... well what huge list, and growing.

Meanwhile, we are still the Anglican Communion - but surely not for all that much longer - whose range of discussion encompasses the likes of Tobias Haller, calmly laying out the issues of our sexuality controversies (SEE: http://jintoku.blogspot.com/ ), to StandFirm (See: http://www.Standfirminfaith.com/ ), to the dodgy Ruth Gledhill breathlessly spilling the beans that Canterbury is alleged to be soon meeting on home turf with gay British priests and their partners and their friends (SEE: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2476972.ece ). One rather gathers that Ruth doesn't like this one bit, as it lets the CoE gay priest cats out of the pending closed realignment bags which are always tagged: Gays do not matter except as targets for taking pot-shots.

Talk about a busy, busy marketplace of ideas. We will all still be here, too, holding various ideas and beliefs and doing our level bests to live them with integrity - even if some of us are no longer defined categorically as real, and really welcome, Anglican believers.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 11:29pm BST

I think that some here fail to realise that RW wants to keep the Communion together. if anyone leaves, then he will have thought himself to have failed in his aim.

The Global South agenda simply wouldn't be accepted by the CofE. I think this is probably RW's fear, too - because about 20% of the CofE is likely to depart, either to Rome or to the Akinolasydneyfundigelicals. That is going to cause a row whatever way one looks at it, although I think it will be a relief.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 17 September 2007 at 11:51pm BST

Pat - you really should not mention that the AC is held to ransom with TEC inherited $ (even if it is true)....this is supposed to remain unspoken!

Also, Pat, with all its inherited money, why does TEC want to say BOTH that it will break whatever AC agreements it wishes to ignore but still wants to be in.....the cash inherited from people who never imagined the current leadership of TEC(USA)should give the HOB some confidence to create TEC(Global) - it is bizarre that TEC is so desperate to stay in the AC. Let's see if the ABC can get some capitulation out of TEC (as he did in Canada) as the price for staying in since TEC(USA) does not seem to have the confidence to not be in the AC.

Steven - I can see what you mean but the ABC's record in the last 4 years (eg Jeffrey John being stood down) shows the ABC does put unity as a very high priority so I hope he will be more than a Chamberlain....we will see.

Ford - I will have left all in TEC(USA) and Canada who are loyal to the AC's agreed positions plus most of the rest of the AC (maybe without parts of Brazil and South Africa but with CESA back in the family in SA!) I don't believe the CofE goes with TEC(USA)......we have just voted for the Covenant (chairman of that enterprise = ++Gomez!)

- What will you have, Ford? I don't think you want to be in the "VGR Communion", do you? I think you will go Eastern Orthodox, right?

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 7:17am BST

"...it is bizarre that TEC is so desperate to stay in the AC..."

I missed something.

Is it bizarre to want to continue to talk to your mother or father, who had no choice over whether or when they conceived you?

Every child hopes they will be able to continue to talk to their parents. The exceptions are where the children choose to be outrageous to prove that their parents won't talk to them, or when the parents are so uptight that they will only talk to their children if they are "suitable".

Many of the greatest parables involve the parent who loves the child, no matter how scandalous their background (the prodigal son parable comes to mind); or the child who demonstrates their worth despite incredibly hostile circumstances (Joseph and Samson come to mind).

Neither stretch is accommodated by the puritans, which is why the holy texts and Jesus' chosen parables and teachings are so scandalous when read with intent in mind.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 9:47am BST

" ... with all its inherited money, why does TEC ,,,"

There you go again, NP, hung up on all this mythical 'inhetited money.'

TEC's budget process is public - it happens at every General Convention. You could look it up. Granted, finding things on TEC's improved but still strange web site isn't easy, but I think if you actually did the research you could drop the 'inherited wealth' singsong.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 11:17am BST

NP:

"Inherited money"? TEC's ability to contribute so greatly to the AC's missionary efforts depends on the CURRENT charity of Episcopalians throughout the USA, not on any huge endowment or something like that.

This is just one more attempt to prove that the con-evos are the "real" inheritors of the Episcopal church. It's so easy to say "Your grandfathers would never have allowed...." Well, yeah, that's true...my grandfather would never have allowed lots of things, like letting my sister be ordained, or wearing jeans to church, or playing sports on Sunday.

That doesn't mean my grandfather was right.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 11:53am BST

Cynthia - are you not aware of the endowments from which TEC benefits? This dwarfs current giving (TEC(USA) ain't viable without its endowments).

Pat - your grandpa may not have been right on everything but I wonder if he would agree with you that the AC should shut up and let TEC(USA) do what it likes because it has the cash the AC needs?

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 12:45pm BST

Why do people here spend so much time responding to obvious trolling?

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 1:26pm BST

NP:

Actually, yeah, grandpa probably would...those that pays the bills calls the tune is more than likely the stand he would take.

Further, grandpa would probably look at the canons of the Episcopal Church and the traditions of individual provincial polity in the Anglican Communion and tell "all them damn furriners" to shove it.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 1:43pm BST

“I don't mind a schism with such sanctimonious hypocritical blind selfish tyranny, repression and vilification. I do not know nor desire their God (Daniel 11:37). Good riddance.”— Cheryl Clough

Right on, Cheryl! (And now, as the Jensenites move forward with lay presidency, perhaps the majority of Australian Anglicans will find their backbones, too?)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/move-to-empower-laity-raises-church-ire/2007/09/16/1189881342974.html

Perhaps soon we will be rid of all of these fundagelicals?!

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 2:37pm BST

"Move to empower laity"

what a strange description.

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 3:26pm BST

Kurt,

"doing the Lord's supper"

Like coming to the church after Sunday dinner to "get the baby done"? This, along with references to "elders" speaks about the mindset of the "Sydney Evangelicals" which is how those I have encountered on the Net have defined themselves, not Anglican, which they seem to think gets in the way of their "ecumenism". Let 'em do it. They've been doing it under the radar for years anyway, let them be honest and then we can all demand that they either return to the catholic faith, or declare themselves a sect, and let the rest of the faithful Anglicans (sorry, I couldn't resist, mea culpa) in Sydney get on with the business of being an Anglican witness, instead of whatever American style protestant practice Jensen thinks will make him popular with his "target market".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 3:57pm BST

Kurt - do you realise that there is zero in the bible to say that only a priest can give communion?? The prohibition of lay people presiding was obviously a creation of the National Union of Priests....it ain't biblical.

Pat - your grandpa may not have respected "damn furriners" but please note that +Duncan et al are American and even amongst American Christians, the current leadership of TEC is certainly in a minority......some say TEC is more in step with US society but then find it hard to explain why TEC loses 700 people per week if they are so in tune!
Anyway - maybe your grandpa would have split the AC for VGR but I do not believe the ABC will do that and I am sure most of the Primates will not so let's see what happens in the coming months!

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 4:15pm BST

"Cynthia - are you not aware of the endowments from which TEC benefits? This dwarfs current giving (TEC(USA) ain't viable without its endowments)."

Show me evidence.

It may well be that the Church Pension Fund is built on endowed money - it's a very generous retirement system - but that money is dedicated to that purpose and cannot be used for anything else.

If TEC does have endowed funds, and they are anything like other endowments, they are dedicated to particular uses, and cannot be used for operating expenses.

The deep pockets that fly African bishops from hidiously poor countries hither and thither are well documents in Jim Naughton's "Follow the Money" research, which may be found on the web pages of the Diocese of Washington DC. Makes for chilling reading.


Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 4:20pm BST

"What will you have, Ford?"

I will be faced with the choice of, on the one hand, allying myself with people who try to live the Gospel, but whose approach to theology leaves me uncertain, and on the other hand, with people who loudly insist everyone else adhere to their narrow legalism and who manifestly do not follow a Gospel they try to force on everyone else. Well, by their fruits shall you know them. Anyway, it seems Canada is in its usual position, an afterthought to the Americans. Our actions may not be acceptable to the conservatives, but they may not notice it and end up accepting by default our perfectly reasonable approach to the issue as it stands. If we do get tossed out, well, whatever my misgivings about "liberal" theology, I would rather be allied with them than put myself in communion with people who, by their actions, do not seem to know what the Gospel means, or at least aren't interested in applying its precepts in their dealings with other Christians, let alone with humanity at large. We have CANA bishops quoting lies about gay people as though they were fact. They propagate their myth of the suffering remnant, which you have swallowed, and deny the faith of those who do not agree with them. They seem more in thrall to the lie than servants of the Truth. If they declare themselves out of communion with us in Canada, why should I want to join them in their following of the lie?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 4:28pm BST

JPM:

People that don't agree with your positions are all trolls? Hmm. Maybe you should be a bit more specific about your complaints.

One of the only things that makes the posts at TA interesting are the interactions between pros and cons. Otherwise the threads have a tendency to degenerate into fairly whiny, resentful and predictable amen choruses. Boring to me. Maybe even boring to some liberal readers.

In addition, "iron sharpens iron" as the proverb says. The interactions of pro/con at TA help both sides to clarify their positions and reasoning. And, incidentally, may even defuse (or at least lessen) some negative stereotyping by both sides.

Steven (or "troll" if you prefer)

Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 5:09pm BST

""Move to empower laity"

what a strange description."

Sounds lovely though, doesn't it? Everybody's all about "empowerment" these days, and you gotta speak the language. And "empowering" the laity has such cachet, especially since it can be cast against the "priest ridden" medieval style Church. So, they get to look like they're freeing the laity from the overbearing priestly class, being all egalitarian in a Reformation era sort of way, and middle class Sydney thinks it's great. All they have to do is subscribe to a few rules that already describe their lives anyway, and ignore anything that is inconvenient, like considering that Roman Catholics are actually Christians. No-one actually gets the translation, though, which is: better to deny the sacrament of holy order that has been part of the catholic faith from the beginning, and better to adopt an extreme memorialist view of the Eucharist than to have a woman get her claws on a collar and a pulpit, since any fule knowe that God doesn't want women to have authority over men, it ain't right, it ain't Right wing, and look what happened when they let uppity women take over in TEC, they ended up being nice to the fags.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 6:31pm BST

“Kurt - do you realise that there is zero in the bible to say that only a priest can give communion?? The prohibition of lay people presiding was obviously a creation of the National Union of Priests....it ain't biblical.”—NP

Isn’t that interesting, NP? You prods have no problem with the unquestionably historical innovation of laypeople celebrating Mass, yet you accept anti-gay bigotry, and claim that gay bishops (and women clergy, too!) are an “innovation.” Another reason why you Calvinists are not really Anglicans/Episcopalians.

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 7:54pm BST

"even amongst American Christians, the current leadership of TEC is certainly in a minority......"

Really? Can you provide statistics? And don't give me the number of people in the mega-churches or the number of leaders of other denominations who say such-and-such. Those don't say anything about what the rank-and-file actually think about an issue like homosexuality. Those numbers only tell us what the leaders say about it.

"some say TEC is more in step with US society but then find it hard to explain why TEC loses 700 people per week if they are so in tune!"

Again--cite a source for this number? 700 people a week? Where does this come from?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 8:46pm BST

"What will you have, Ford? I don't think you want to be in the "VGR Communion", do you? I think you will go Eastern Orthodox, right?"

Unless the tyrants decide to make new churches illegal, I am sure we will find a communion that honors the best of the bible and remembers that Jesus promised gentleness. If there isn't one locally, we'll find one or if need be make one.

Stephen, I agree with you, I have learnt far more about the bible through these repartees than I ever would have through traditional study methods. As I go searching for relevant passages for one discussion, I stumble upon others that then become relevant later on. It is an excellent refining method.

Provocative souls are a joy, they give one an excuse to look up obscure passages.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 10:24pm BST

You are not the troll, Steven, and I agree with you that the difference of opinion can improve the level of argument.

It is about seeing where matters are going. It is of course possible that there could be an astonishing about turn, but it would be even more astonishing. Why so? Because Rowan Williams gave a fantastic lecture recently that would probably lead to the African archbishops having kittens if they read it carefully, that he will be opening an interfaith based centre in New Orleans, and he will be presiding at a eucharist and addressing a gay and lesbian gathering in November.

So it would be very astonishing if this man now initiated moves to have TEC sidelined. Then, let's look at the prevailing wind down at Fulcrum, where I spend some time looking at their output and giving a difference of view (though sometimes ends up being quite close). They are clear that they want TEC in, and they disapprove of the boundary-busting. Obviously they want a conservative-ish outcome regarding TEC, but the unity of the Communion comes first because one schism leads to another, and may have a disastrous effect on the Church of England.

It may just be that the Africans have shown so much regarding their attitudes, of what comes out of their mouths, and actions, that this is not where Anglicanism ought to be.

Let's not go down the cynical road. I give Chris Sugden the highest of motives - he believes it. He is trying to do what Tony Higton could not do. He is just not as well supported as he thinks. In the end, let the schismatics do what they must, and see whether they have the determination to carry it through. When a group has said, over and again, "We think we will have to leave if this does not go our way," the question asked after six or seven times of saying is, "OK, are you actually going?" A gambler must always be able to afford to lose.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 12:13am BST

Ford - why not go the Orthodox route?
Better with them than those who try and pretend the Lord said "If you love me, you don't have to obey any commands that don't fit with you." He did not teach that, as you know - but some bishops effectively do teach that with regard to certain issues.

Obviously, I do not agree with you that those who ignore certain verses and teach certain sins are no longer sins are "living the gospel". I do agree with you that some who teach conservative theology sin and make big mistakes. However, their sin does not discredit the bible - does it? Nor does their sin validate the sins of the other side. We are called to a high standard - not the standards of men. "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect" - this is to be our aim and even if we fail constantly......we must not teach people to ignore this on certain issues as we have no authority to do that.

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 10:28am BST

Get behind thee those who purport a limit to God's forgiveness. Read Matthew 18:21-35 "…Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”"

Judge others as you wish to be judged, forgive others as you wish to be forgiven, tolerate others as you wish to be tolerated. For those who judge mercifully, abound in forgiveness and ooze hospitality will receive mercy, forgiveness and hospitality. Those who are merciless accussers with no tolerance will find no mercy, their sins counted against them with no allowances for their fallibilities.

Choose faith and live, choose legalism and die.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 10:55am BST

Better with them than those who try and pretend the Lord said "If you love me, you don't have to obey any commands that don't fit with you"

Didn't you read what I wrote?

NP, your chorus of "Evil TEC tells people they don't have to obey God" makes you look silly, and not in a 'Fool for Christ' sort of way. Everybody else knows it isn't true, and can see the bad behaviour of those bishops you think so Godly. That you won't acknowledge it shows that you are either dishonest or naive. I choose to believe the latter. You're making yourself look bad. You think the Gospel is a law we must follow so we can get into Heaven when we die, it seems. You seem to believe God grudgingly loves us if we obey Him. How much of this do they teach you at HTB and how much is coming from your own head? Are you afraid that if you acknowledge that your "heroes" are just as bad (I would say a lot worse) in their ignoring of the parts of the Gospel they find inconvenient, then you won't be able to accuse TEC of it anymore?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 12:22pm BST

Pluralist:

I agree that the ABC's heart is not in Africa (so to speak). However, I think he wants to keep the Africans as much as the Americans, but for different reasons. Consequently, he continues to try to square the circle and come up with some compromise that will mollify the parties and keep them--even if grumbling--at the same table. (That's why I'm looking for him to try the same thing following New Orleans).

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately to some), as the parties draw farther and farther apart he is like a man trying to straddle a widening crevasse. His future lies in making the leap to one side or the other--or plunging into the abyss of complete irrelevance and disconnection from both sides.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 2:23pm BST

NP:

I can't go with Sydney on lay presidency. No one can claim they cease to be Christian by adopting this way of doing things. However, I could say the same about Sister Bertha's "Holiness Temple of the Apostolic Prophecies" (loosely speaking). I, for one, aspire to be not just Christian (along with a host of other protestant denominations), but Catholic and Anglican as well.

Consequently, while I scold liberals for being willing to throw out the simplest and most basic Christian/Catholic/Anglican ethical teachings on sex and marriage, I also hate to see Sydney throwing out some of the simplest and most basic teachings of our Catholic/Anglican faith on the respective roles of bishops, priests, deacons and laity.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 2:36pm BST

I think there are some clues as to which way he will jump back, Steven.

Incidentally, chasms grow in width very quickly after schisms; whilst the mass of the Communion would instantly become more tolerant by virtue of who walked off, there could be a reaction of more conservatism in the main Communion to try and woo them back. It would not work, as once a group has gone and tastes its own autonomy and then lays out the issues in a way it always wanted (and sets off to evangelise the rest of the world) they would not be wooed back as a carbon copy cannot be on the table.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 2:54pm BST

"The prohibition of lay people presiding [at communion] .... ain't biblical." True, NP, but it is, absolutely and unquestionably, "Anglican". Espousal of lay presidency is, as Kurt notes above, "another reason why you Calvinists are not really Anglicans/Episcopalians".

Two or three months ago I wrote of the Baptists and Presbyterians who form a mainstay of the Truro and Falls Church Virginia secessionist churches, that I believe that one of the factors attracting them to the Truro and Falls Church congregations is "brand-name" purchasing - that, formal denomination affiliation notwithstanding, they were drawn to Episcopal/Anglican churches ("the Church of Presidents") by some of factors that also determine their choice of the subdivisions in which they live, the schools that their children attend, the vehicles that they drive, and the brands of the clothes on their backs. This tendency is not confined to the United States. If one lives in England there is, is there not, something ever-so-slightly lower middle class about Methodism, Congregationalism and Presbyterianism? And as to the Baptists! So let's be Anglicans. Given the existing diversity within the Church, not terribly difficult to find a congregation whose theology sits comfortably with one's own.

But not so nice, having done so, to adopt an "everyone's out of step except our Tommy" approach to the rest of the denomination.

One gets the feeling that not a few of the North American secessionists have the same depth of feeling for "Anglicanism" that they have for the bags that hold new purchases - the label blazoned on the outside of the bag for the benefit of the neighbours is what counts.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 5:57pm BST

Ford - I do aknowledge my leaders and I are just as sinful (if not more so!) than VGR.

Got it? Do I need to repeat that yet again??

The difference is that we are not saying that any of our sins are virtues all of a sudden - in contradiction to scripture and centuries of tradition as well as most scholarly biblical interpretation today.

Ford, you do not want to accept that TEC(USA) leadership and VGR certainly are teaching people that they do not have to obey God on a particular issue and want to make out it is only right-wing, hardline evo NP who has a problem with TEC....but I think ALL the Primates of the AC issued Dromantine and Tanzania and stand behind TWR....so maybe TEC is doing something to contradict biblical / church teaching, Ford??

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 2:39pm BST

Pluralist:

I agree that the split will be, for all practical purposes, irrevocable. (Or, at least as irrevocable as the East/West, Protestant/RC splits).

As to Rowan, who knows. I think I know where his heart and theology lie, but I'm not sure whether he doesn't feel some pull to be aligned with the growth and dynamism of the third world church. That's where Christianity is exploding, and that is where the power of numbers lie and will increasingly lie in the future.

First world liberal Anglicanism is withering, and will continue to wither without conservatives. I don't believe TEC will die out altogether here in the US. It will continue to receive an influx of liberalizing RCs and will probably reach some point of relative stability in the future equivalent to some other small national denominations (e.g., the Unitarians). You'd be in a better position to guess about the future of the COE sans conservatives, but I would guess at something that is, at the least, even more attenuated. So it goes. A sad fate for "name brand" Anglicanism in the US and England.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 2:44pm BST

Now where would the Nazarene fit into this lot (if at all)? 'Less' than a Baptist for sure .....

'Two or three months ago I wrote of the Baptists and Presbyterians who form a mainstay of the Truro and Falls Church Virginia secessionist churches, that I believe that one of the factors attracting them to the Truro and Falls Church congregations is "brand-name" purchasing - that, formal denomination affiliation notwithstanding, they were drawn to Episcopal/Anglican churches ("the Church of Presidents") by some of factors that also determine their choice of the subdivisions in which they live, the schools that their children attend, the vehicles that they drive, and the brands of the clothes on their backs. This tendency is not confined to the United States. If one lives in England there is, is there not, something ever-so-slightly lower middle class about Methodism, Congregationalism and Presbyterianism? And as to the Baptists! So let's be Anglicans. Given the existing diversity within the Church, not terribly difficult to find a congregation whose theology sits comfortably with one's own. '

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 3:01pm BST

Steven,
You and don't always agree, and there's times where our two personalities clash, but in that last post we share a certain sentiment. I just don't see that the Church's treachings on sex and marriage are about some moral code, neither do I think that this sanctifying of the state of marriage is particularly in line with what the Gospel actually seems to be saying about marriage. I really don't believe that Jesus or Paul or anyone else in those days saw it as that important. Jesus comes out and says that marriage is not part of the Kingdom, "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" and Paul seems to think it is a sop to those heterosexuals whose inability to control their animal urges gets in the way of their being able to actually do the work of the Kindsom, so they should marry if they must, accepting that this will burden them with responsibilities that will impair their ability to further the kingdom, but better that than go around boffing evetrything that moves and bring the Gospel into disrepute because it's followers are bunch of tarts with no self control. Hardly the icon some make it out to be. Oh sure, the Church is compared metaphorically to a bride, and that's fine as a metaphor, but when Paul actually talks about marriage as opposed to using it metaphorically, he isn't all that glowing. I think it was elevated to its current status as the Church came to believe She had a role play in controlling people's behaviour as the Imperial religion. It was helped by Her buying into the likely Gnostic, and cewrtainly anti-Incarnational view that created flesh is evil.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 3:35pm BST

Steven - sure, but is this LP not an example of what Paul in Romans would call a "disputable" matter....something which should not break unity?

So, as you say, LP is not contradicting scripture but just a human tradition so I would hope that you would still be able to be in communion with people who do have LP?

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 4:51pm BST

Steven, it is worth noting that there has been a long history of "conservative" groupings departing TEC based on its supposed liberal ways. Each of these splits, to some greater or lesser extent, have seen themselves as the true Anglican remnant. Neither the Reformed Episcopal Church nor any of the assorted continuing and / or traditional Anglican groupings of the 1970s and 80s ever really established themselves as much of an alternative. Indeed, at least one "continuing Anglican" bishop has renounced Episcopal orders and been received back into the Episcopal Church.

Of course, as so many of us have pointed out to NP, the numbers game is a dubious means of determining right from wrong. But your depiction of an Episcopal Church which narrowly avoids dying out all together because of the handful of liberal RC converts doesn't really accord with past experience.

Prognostication is a less than dependable science, but it seems to me that, as with the departures of the REC and the TACs, the Episcopal Church will simply get on with getting on and that the assorted split-offs will eventually find their own little niches where they may reside until they drift into irrelevance.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 7:01pm BST

Malcolm says "the Episcopal Church will simply get on with getting on and that the assorted split-offs will eventually find their own little niches where they may reside until they drift into irrelevance."

I hope they will all be in the Anglican Communion in due course.....they fit very well with most of us in the AC, you know.

Posted by: NP on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 11:46am BST

"is this LP not an example of what Paul in Romans would call a "disputable" matter"

No. It denies traditional treaching about Holy Order and the Eucharist or at least implies very different understandings of these two sacraments. This has huge implications for how we understand the Incarnation, the nature of the Church, how God interacts with His Creation, what priesthood is, it even impinges on our understanding of redemption. This is no small matter, NP.

"LP is not contradicting scripture"
Yes it is. And don't go getting on with that "traditions of men" nonsense. Evangelicalism, with it's comparatively recent origins, is far more the "traditions of men".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 1:21pm BST

NP:

I guess the question comes down to what we mean by being in communion. I may take communion in a Presbyterian Church and a Presbyterian may take communion in an Anglican Church, but we are not in communion in the sense the term is commonly used in the AC. In the AC it indicates a shared polity, a shared system of basic beliefs and practices, and respect for the orders of each provincial Church such that a bishop in the U.S. is also accepted as a bishop in England. It also means that we're all part of one over-arching organization. That's probably a layman's way of looking at things, but overall I'd have to say that it indicates something more than mutual acceptance of "the other's" basic Christianity.

Consequently, when liberals encourage violation of the basic tenets of Christian morality, they are encouraging something that is neither Christian, nor Catholic, nor Anglican, and are subject to harsh criticism under all three headings. If Sydney violates only the last two headings they may still be subject to criticism for missing the mark there, even if their basic Christianity is not in dispute. And, more importantly, can we say that they are still one with the AC? I don't doubt their Christianity any more than I doubt the Christianity of many protestant denominations. I just doubt that they are any longer Catholic and Anglican as well.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 2:33pm BST

Steven - I can see what you mean but will not accept the attempt of others to equate LP (which is not disobeying any verse in the Bible) with other acts which are directly disobeying certain clear verses.

Posted by: NP on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 3:26pm BST

Malcolm+

If this split was like prior splits, I would probably agree with you. However, I see it as being far different. First, it is polarizing the AC worldwide. Second, the size and vehemence of the reaction in TEC is, as far as I can tell, unprecedented. Third, the "I'm completely fed up, and this time they've really gone too far" factor has come into play in a way it has never done in the past.

Previously, there were grumbles, but most stayed in their pews. Overall, I think there was a perception that the changes, while questionable, were not beyond the (at least arguable) bounds of the Bible and the Faith once received. And, after all, Episcopalians are by and large very hidebound. Where would any decent born and baptized Episcopalian want to be but in an Episcopal Church?

This time, the situation is very different. A lot of folks feel like they've been pushed around for a long time and also feel like their backs are against the wall. Desperate people and desperate times lead to desperate measures. What will be left of TEC after the dust settles? I can't say for sure, but I think my projections--in the long term--will not prove to be too far off the mark.

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 5:06pm BST

Steven,
I agree with pretty much everything you said, except I can't agree that struggling with sexuality in the way that liberals are is unChristian. They may or may not be going too far in this, but to call a compassionate attempt to atone for some pretty grievous historical wrongs "unChristian" is going way too far, in my opinion.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 5:30pm BST

Ford:

In my view, the best way of reconciling the various scriptural references is to see marriage as a high and holy thing, and celibacy for the sake of Godliness as having the potential to be even higher and holier.

Marriage between Man and Woman is part of the created order, one of the things that God--along with everything else He made--pronounced good and blessed. Jesus references the original creation intent of God (in discussing divorce) as a still active and binding goal of marriage and, hence, sexuality. On the other hand, there are certainly passages in the Scriptures that indicate that marriage (and consequently the sexual expression of marriage) are transient things that will not be found in the resurrection and may even be a thing that some will, and perhaps should try, to transcend in this life for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

One cannot, for example, read "The Way of a Pilgrim" and not be struck by the beauty and holiness of the celibate life of an obscure Russian ascetic and pilgrim. He certainly doesn't seem to be missing anything in his celibacy.

(to be continued)

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 6:19pm BST

Ford:

(cont'd)

The trouble is, the Church has swung like a pendulum. First, over emphasizing the celibate life as holy and denigrating the married life in relation to this. Second, at least in most protestant denominations, doing the opposite. Both of these approaches are, IMO--dead wrong.

As noted, both marriage and celibacy have the potential to be very good. One is an expression of a good God created for Man and Woman at the beginning, while the other is an expression of the good He intends for Man and Woman in and as part of the culmination of His new creation. And, for some at least, the celibate life is certainly going to be a higher and more holy expression than the married life.

I'd like to say more about the created order and how it relates to this issue, and the licit or illicit nature of homosexual sexual expressions--which seems to be at the heart of your post--but I fear we are at the point of being terminated on this thread. Hopefully, we can continue elsewhere?

Steven

Posted by: Steven on Friday, 21 September 2007 at 6:30pm BST
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