Monday, 26 November 2007

Drenched in Grace: final press release

GLOBAL ANGLICANS SHARE CALL TO AN INCLUSIVE GOSPEL VISION AND MISSION

Inclusive Church supporters are drenched in grace and ready to embrace “costly unity”

Issued 26th November 2007

Last week, 180 people gathered in Derbyshire, England for “Drenched in Grace”, Inclusive Church’s first residential conference.

We met as Anglicans, committed to our church. We met as evangelicals and charismatics, as catholics, liberals and conservatives. We met at the Lord’s table - the unifying core of the conference. We reclaimed with confidence the orthodoxy of the inclusive Gospel we celebrate in the Anglican Communion.

We offered a model of engagement to the Communion at large. In our disagreements we acknowledged the primacy of God’s love in which we are all held together, but we did not keep silent about our differences.

Dr Jenny Te Paa (St John’s College, Auckland NZ) opened the conference. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew on the very good behaviour of the many.”

Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby in her talk “Out of the Silence” said “I believe it is vital for us to …. refuse to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in Inclusive Church we are committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God.”

Revd Dr Louis Weil (Berkeley, California) spoke about the central place baptism holds in our ecclesial understanding. Speaking of the sacraments of baptism and communion, he said “our obsession with validity has weakened the boldness of the sacramental signs. This creates a low level of expectation and weakens our understanding of mission.” We are in communion with one another by God’s grace, not by any human action. “I am in communion with Peter Akinola (the Archbishop of Nigeria)” he said. “I will remain in communion with Peter Akinola until we are both on the other side.”

Canon Lucy Winkett (St Paul’s Cathedral) spoke of the need to “forge relationships on the anvil of profound disagreement.” “The worry that we have as Anglicans is that our faith can be so driven by fear that our liturgy is tedious and our public pronouncements shrill and irrelevant.” In a powerful and wide ranging address she called for engagement with others across the theological spectrum.

Mark Russell, the Chief Executive of Church Army, sent us out into the world, calling passionately for the church to unite. “Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity.” He challenged us to “go from here, with a renewed vision to pursue a costly unity, and a vision to bring a gospel of hope to all.”

Many present are increasingly alienated and distanced from the church which they see as home. They are being rendered spiritually homeless. A common question was - why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent? Why do they, with few exceptions, leave the field clear to those who continually seek to undermine the Communion and deny its profound unity?

We have a Gospel to proclaim in a world disenchanted by the actions of those who proclaim a message which excludes. We invite them to meet with us, so that we can together move into the world with a vision of costly unity and hope for all in Jesus Christ.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 November 2007 at 9:31pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | InclusiveChurch
Comments

"A common question was - why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent?"

Did anyone come up with a possbile answer?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 26 November 2007 at 11:23pm GMT

It says "We met as Anglicans, committed to our church. We met as evangelicals and charismatics, as catholics, liberals and conservatives."

Which is good - but in the end diversity and difference, breadth, and the difference between unity and uniformity, only goes a limited distance with some evangelicals and some conservatives. They are now so noisy, that the others have shut up. Plus, many of them (and a few liberals) want to pull in the boundaries so to restrict diversity and difference, as a kind of trade-off.

Theological self-censorship and restriction have grown. Yet at the same time, theology has become ever more diverse - liberal and radical - and, really, self-censorship has met its limit point. Plus the demand for social inclusion has now become a zero sum game, and the only non-zero sum approach is silence and doing nothing about inclusion. It cannot last either.

The Inclusive Church conference has received, as far as I can see, not a mention on Fulcrum never mind Anglican Mainstream, so the conservatives and evangelicals that may have met others at this conference would be of a certain kind or degree and are keeping very quiet.

So I shall now go over to Fulcrum and ask a question. After it has been posted, if it is, let's see what the response is there.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 2:15am GMT

I'm not sure Erika.

I do know that attempting to put one's thumb in every hole in the dyke makes one overextended and doesn't give anyone else a chance to prove their mettle and put their own thumb there instead.

Further, from personal experience, sometimes the minute you express support for something it polarizes others against it, simply because your name is associated. At a quantitatively different level from myself, having your name associated with something can lead to it be discredited as a propoganda exercise from your interests.

Then there is the whole convergent evolution thing where similar thinking is evolving independently and different parties don't realise they are heading to the same destination until they all find themselves in Zion.

Any and all of the above are reasonable explanations, or there might be others that I haven't even covered here...

My only conclusion is to trust God and trust people of faith, highways will be built and they will be level paths based on compassion and justice.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 7:46am GMT

Erika asks ""A common question was - why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent?"
Did anyone come up with a possbile answer?"

Maybe because there are not many supporters in the AC for what TECUSA has done in 2003 and since?

All those in the CofE who really, positively support what TECUSA did in 2003 were at the conference, I suspect......

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 9:56am GMT

Thanks, Pluralist. I was away last week, and posted The Inclusive Church conference link on Fulcrum Newswatch after my return on 24 November and the press release today:

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=18

Posted by: Graham Kings on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 11:37am GMT

Erika: I think the English bishops are just moral cowards who will do anything to be left to have a quiet life. Nice men, mainly, but moral cowards nonetheless. They wouldn't dream of sticking their necks out over a justice issue close to home, which might lead to them taking a lot of flak from certain quarters (commenting on already clear-cut justice issues that affect other people in distant lands, yes; but fighting against injustice when it is controversial and divisive at home, no). They are not up to much in the way of credible leadership, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 11:41am GMT

Pluralist,

You make some sensible points. I think you are right on in saying, "in the end diversity and difference, breadth, and the difference between unity and uniformity, only goes a limited distance with some evangelicals and some conservatives ... theology has become ever more diverse - liberal and radical - and, really, self-censorship has met its limit point. Plus the demand for social inclusion has now become a zero sum game, and the only non-zero sum approach is silence and doing nothing about inclusion. It cannot last either."

We can go on and tout "inclusion," but that too in the end will need some definition. Take any, still in some meaningful sense, Christian context: do we simply include all that comes along so that the very ones who would "undo" the meaning of Christian faith and confession are placed in charge?

So we can continue to speak of "conservatives" and "liberals," at the same time we know well enough that ABC Rowan Williams himself (and many others like him) is not to be boxed in as a "conservative." To see things in those terms is shallow, the deeper issue, as ABC R Williams indicates, is finally Christian identity. There comes a point, as he says with reference to Bonhoeffer, when we are compelled to ask,"Is church union and fellowship in the Word and Sacrament created by the Holy Spirit, or is it the union of all well-disposed, honourable, pious Christians whether their observances be German Christian, that of the church committees or that of the Confessing Church?"

Further,he goes on to say, "This is how Bonhoeffer phrases the challenge in 1936, in a paper in which he argues that the whole idea of ‘confession’, taking a stand for truth at the cost of visible unity, needs to be revisited by the Protestant churches in the context of a new threat to Christian integrity."

The question of Christian identity can not finally be evaded, "As with the questions about culture and piety, this challenge too requires us to think very carefully about what might constitute a ‘pseudo-church’...
we have to recognise a question that unsettles both the liberal and the conservative, and which should prompt all engaged in interchurch dialogue to reflect on what it is that might make a pseudo-church."

It is evident, any advance in this crisis or hope for reconciliation will require more than the polarized self-preoccupation of "conservatve" vs "liberal." In the words of R W, "we need not a more exact calibration of the purity of other Christian groups but first a freedom for self-criticism in the presence of Scripture and secondly a keen eye for what is challenging the Church in the contemporary world and what menaces its integrity in this particular environment."

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 2:36pm GMT

RE Dr Bonhöffer.

I so wish Dr Williams and others would cease lay their hands on other persons' high honour and reputation for their own petty gain, associating themselves, as if they had the right aksein tò upódoäma ån podån lûsai...

It's seen all the time, invariably in ill advised and outrageous similae about the German Confessing church and such things, about which today's English and Americans know little.

Some contemporaries did (Bishop Bell).

It's improper fondling of our dead.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 at 9:54pm GMT

I'm less and less interested in Christian theological "identity". It's a game, and I don't want to play. On Sunday last week one hymn was 170 from Common Worship, the Jesus is Lord! one, and very quickly I said to myself, "I'm not singing this rubbish" and put the hymn book to my side. Everyone I asked afterwards expressed a disliking for the hymn (and no doubt some do). They might dislike it, but it was within their toleration zone, and it was outside of mine. The words turned me into an idiot, and so I stopped.

There is a powerful Christian narrative, and a relationship between that and what is important, identified in the transcendent if you like, but there are other narratives too. There is a distinction between liturgical action and related theology, but it is very far from one to one.

I applaud what Inclusive Church is trying to do, but when something is intellectually silly it needs saying, even when agreeing to disagree. I still think they play the same game, of identity: and the identity matters less and less to me. I think some folks are visiting a Sikh gurdwara soon, and if I go I shall be, momentarily, a Sikh. I have a lot of time for the Sikh faith.

Anyway I must paint an icon so I can stare at it for ten minutes, so that I can do this week's test of a Lincoln diocese Lent course, not that the diocese has any time to make any alteration of it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 1:09am GMT

Re: R Williams and Bonhoeffer.

I think the pertinent question is does he accurately reflect the situation and thought of Bonhoeffer.

There is something about Jesus when he asked, "To what can I compare this generation?" Children who say "we played the flute for you but you won't dance," or again, "we sang a sad song but you won't mourn." John comes neither eating nor drinking - "he has a demon." Jesus comes eating with taxcollectors and sinners - "he is a glutton and a drunkard"(cf Matt. 11:16-19).

Ben W

Posted by: Ben W on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 3:32am GMT

"I think the pertinent question is does he accurately reflect the situation and thought of Bonhoeffer."

Bonhoeffer wrote in the context of Nazi Germany. I don't think we can glibly claim his writings for our own narrow exclusion debate.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 9:20am GMT

NP opined: "All those in the CofE who really, positively support what TECUSA did in 2003 were at the conference, I suspect......"

Ah, it's back to the "Gazillions of people come to HTB, but you liberals can hold your conferences in a telephone kiosk" line again.

Aside from the puerile "Mine's bigger than your's" boast, I have long wondered whether NP's bible contains Matthew 7:13f, and whether it ever gives him cause to think self-critically. Or maybe the reading in Codex Bromptoniensis is one not quoted in the apparatus of the text I use.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 11:16am GMT

"whether it ever gives him cause to think self-critically."

I doubt anything gives NP cause to think self critically. I mean, the pasage you mention is obviously about the evil pagans in TEC. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 1:47pm GMT

Prescott Bush, Ben W, Senator Prescott Bush.

Tell us about him, tell us about Bush, Dulles & Harriman INC. The cover operation for Dutch Thyssen the arms makers.

Congress confiscated it, you know.

Seems to me somehow, this would be a worthier subject for your pen than the Saints in Everlasting Glory.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 5:39pm GMT

O u r Saints, if I may remind you.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

crypto - are you not happy with how amazingly God has blessed some Anglican churches like HTB??

I know many are different to HTB and many are in decline....but do you not rejoice to see what God has done with HTB and Alpha around the world?

Maybe you think God wants us to be in decline and putting up signs outside our building asking the public to money to fix the roof.... but I don't - I think the mustard seed was said to grow into a big tree.....

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 12:32pm GMT

"do you not rejoice to see what God has done with HTB and Alpha around the world?"

My understanding of Alpha is that for the first few sessions they are pretty basic, but once they get to the Holy Spirit, they fall completely off the rails and get into some very unorthodox revisionist theology indeed. I stand to be corrected. Far from filling the Church since AD33 roughly, the Spirit becomes something that comes to the individual at certain times.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 2:07pm GMT

"I think the mustard seed was said to grow into a big tree"

I doubt it is a tree of smug selfrighteous condemnation of anyone who is different, all the same. But, I've been to HTB's website, and I am surprised you find a spiritual home there. Either their website is deceitful, or you aren't a very comfortable fit.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 6:27pm GMT

NP wrote: "... do you not rejoice to see what God has done with HTB and Alpha around the world?"

The Word of God is not copyrighted, NP.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

Is God's blessing now judged by the size of the crowd and the amount of money earned?

Isn't this the same "theology" that would tell us that those who are successful in life are those whom God has chosen? Isn't this whole attitude belied by Jesus' words about rich men and camels and needles?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 30 November 2007 at 2:35am GMT

Pat,
"Isn't this the same "theology" that would tell us that those who are successful in life are those whom God has chosen?"

Why should this be a surprise? It is, after all, good solid Calvinism. While the Ac isn't Calvinist, the early spent enough time in Geneva hiding from Mary that they got "infected". We've been 500 years suffering the effects of it. I used to do a little bulletin insert telling the stories of the saints to be observed that week. Space was at a premium, so I had a "good" excuse for omitting the man who, IMNSHO, is most repsonsible for what is bleak, hate filled, and miserable about modern Christianity.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 November 2007 at 3:30pm GMT
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