Saturday, 1 December 2007

UK letters of support for Canadian schismatics

Letters of support from the UK to Bishop Duncan and to Bishop Iker have already been reported.

It should not go unnoticed that another letter from the UK was sent to the Anglican Network in Canada. The full text and list of signatories can be found here, and the text is reproduced below the fold. Note that the signatories claimed to be writing not as individuals but also on behalf of their organisations:

Signed with pleasure and delight,
+Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes & President of Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC)
Dr Philip Giddings, Convenor, Anglican Mainstream
Paul Boyd-Lee, Chair of the 1990 Group in General Synod
Rev John Coles, Director of New Wine
Canon Andy Lines, General Secretary of Crosslinks
Stephen Parkinson, Director, Forward in Faith
Revd Paul Perkin, Convenor of the Covenant Group for the Church of England
Revd David Phillips, Director of Church Society
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull, Chairman and for the Executive of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Rev Roderick Thomas, Chairman of Reform

But also, there is this letter from no less than the Bishop of Rochester:

The Right Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester

I greatly regret the necessity for this step, but I am glad that an agreed way has been found for biblically minded and orthodox Anglicans to receive appropriate primatial oversight from the province of the Southern Cone and episcopal care from Bishop Don Harvey. I pray that this arrangement will be a blessing for many.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali

A group of orthodox Anglican leaders in the United Kingdom on behalf of their organisations

We want to assure you of our prayers and fellowship in our shared Anglican heritage as you take your stand on the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith, contrary to those innovators both here and elsewhere who wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture.

We rejoice in our fellowship as Churches in communion with the Risen Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Linked together by the apostolic ministry, our communion is expressed by the fellowship and mutual commitment of local churches, congregations faithful to the apostolic tradition, led by faithful clergy, and gathered around their bishop, however expressed, for example on a geographic or non-geographic basis.

With you we are committed to faithful biblical orthodoxy. This orthodoxy is defined by and centred on the classic formularies (foundational principles) of the Anglican tradition. Anglican doctrine is grounded in the supremacy of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, the catholic creeds and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as agree with the Holy Scriptures. In particular, it has confessed this faith in the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (our Anglican standard for worship) and the 1662 Ordinal, including its preface (our Anglican standard for the making of bishops, priests and deacons). This commitment does not mean we are perfect: we need constantly to reform our lives in accord with the scripture to learn and grow with the help of the Spirit and one another.

With you we are committed to maintaining and propagating the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ to make and grow disciples who will themselves make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and plant churches. Proclaiming the biblical gospel of the Kingdom of God transforms and renews us and the whole creation. It produces life-giving and life-transforming mission, holiness of life and unity in the Holy Spirit to the end that people are drawn into a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ, and become members of the Body of Christ engaged with the challenges of their time and agents of transforming their communities and creation.

Although we regret that it has become necessary, we have been encouraged by the action of Presiding Bishop Greg Venables and the Province of the Southern Cone in offering oversight to some orthodox Anglican Dioceses in the United States. This interim provision is a sensible way forward. Extension of this oversight to Bishop Don Harvey in Canada with parishes and people gathered around him is a welcome expression of the proper duty of orthodox Anglicans to secure the provision of godly leadership and oversight.

We hope that this recognition given to your network will further benefit the recognition of those who have been given similar oversight in the United States and Latin America.

We share with you the goal Jesus himself gave us of making all nations disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We share with you, in obedience to Christ, his call to teach them to observe all that he has commanded. We share with you, and with the exalted Lord who now sits at the right hand of the Father, the call to pray for the world which he created and the people for whose salvation he died and rose again.

“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.” (Ephesians 3.21)

for signatures see above

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 3:16pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

This isn't schism. Schism is division over *secondary* matters where a range of opinions and practices are acceptable to Scripture and the Church. But the words of the New Testament, as well as Lambeth 98 1.10, Windsor and Dar-es-Salam, show that this is NOT a secondary matter.

Nor do liberal leaders believe it is a secondary matter, or they wouldn't keep on with these moves that cause so much division. When will they grow up, admit that what they are doing IS a direct rejection of Christian teaching, and start acting like it ?!

Posted by: David Wh. on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 3:59pm GMT

"I greatly regret the necessity for this step, but I am glad that an agreed way has been found..." Bishop Michael

Agreed way?

Perhaps the Bishop Michael can only write and isn't able to READ (or refuses to comprehend) the Primate/Metropolitans edict against PB Venables "actions" in Canada!

Don't give us this "agreed way" nonsense and then expect us to believe you to be a trustworthy religious leader at the CoE!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 4:38pm GMT

I find the pious (meaningless) verbiage and sactimonious tone of these letters & 'Statments', most offensive. Who is taken in by such BS--let alone impressed ! Their behave is too ineffective to offend much, they are wasting their breath, hitting out at shadows, and creating pointless affiliations across the miles.

They show the theological & emotional literacy of a gnat !

And yes, I love no less a figure (& no greater than) Rochester -- not forgetting his lordship of Lewis ! I used to love the tea and psstoral care of one his prdecessors, a lovely ole anglo-catholic gay --loved by all, and a real gent. He helped me towrds ordination, and was a kindly ear when one had boyf troubles ...

Posted by: L Roberts on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 4:42pm GMT

"Note that the signatories claimed to be writing not as individuals but also on behalf of their organisations:"

Is it not possible for some church linked organisation (Inclusive Church?) to conduct a proper poll among the various Anglican groupings to determine whether those people really do speak for their followers or whether, as I suspect, common and garden Anglicans are much more liberal than that?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 5:48pm GMT

Esgob ! Sorry about the bloomin' typos in my last comment !

Of course, I meant, I love the reference to 'no less a person' than Rochester. I have never met him, nor seen him on tv enough (yet) to develop much love for him. Or the bishop of Lewes--though I was very fond, as I said, of the last bishop of Lewes but two or three.

While I'm commenting, may i say that I disagree with David Wh.... -- I always wonder what happened to him mid-Wh.. !? -the second coming perhaps ?

However, I will agree with that there is nothing 'secondary' about the failure of equal opps and human rights in the circles he would laud.

As for growing up---- some one needs to ! Why do some people in some theological circles seem rather juvenile ?


Posted by: L Roberts on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 6:07pm GMT

Dave WH. wrote "When will they grow up, admit that what they are doing IS a direct rejection of Christian teaching, and start acting like it?!"

Maybe because they don't believe it is?

Maybe because they are waiting for you to grow up and start taking things seriously?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 6:13pm GMT

"Schism is division over *secondary* matters where a range of opinions and practices are acceptable to Scripture and the Church. "

Oh please! By this logic, there have never been schisms in the Church. This is perhaps the most pathetic attempt at self justification I have seen in a long time. Mr. Packer should be ashamed for having made it. This is schism, pure and simple. Conservatives should at least have the integrity to call it what it is, regardless of the perceived necessity for it. It may or may not be a necessary evil, but it is an evil. This argument just makes the self deluded persecution myth look so much more silly.

"When will they grow up, admit that what they are doing IS a direct rejection of Christian teaching, and start acting like it ?!"

And when will the Right admit that their lies, myth making, self-righteousness, and demonizing and dehumanizing not only of gay people, but of anyone else who doesn't hate gay people as much as they do is a far greater betrayal of the Gospel than anything they see on the Left?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 6:55pm GMT

If growing up means that I have to accept the words of teachers who refute everything Jesus stood for, lived for and died for; then I choose to remain a naive child for the rest of my life.

I childishly believe in a God that is above all humanity and who had reconciliation plans through Jesus that covered both masculine and feminine, Jew and gentile, human and animal, seen and unseen.

I childishly trust in a God who promises everlasting covenants of peace and who really does intend to see that covenant implemented.

I childishly refuse to recognise as a friend someone who insists on tyranny, vilification, exclusionism and elitism. Even a six month old child can distinguish between friend and foe, so I am happy to be only six months old.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 8:22pm GMT

I suppose Bishop Nazir Ali wants to go out with a bang and thinks he has nothing to loose rocking the boat. As for Bishop Benn, well he 's effectively killed any chance the third province had.

Note Nazir Ali's quote fron canon A 5 ..."Church fathers and creeds in a agreement with Scripture" ( that is our interpretation of the scriptures)...just like the Mormons in their article of faith " we believe the Bible is the word of God, in so far as it is translated correctly. " the end clause invalidating the beginning.

A little while a go he condemned contraception, but he does not raise it now. He condones a province he describes as orthodox, but will not ordain women presbyters, whilst he has encouraged them and appointed the first woman archdeacon.

To some Nazir Ali has departed from Anglican orthodoxy by ordaining women and placing them in headship roles.

Will the real orthodox please stand up!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 8:38pm GMT

There is a breathtaking arrogance in these letters, an implicit assumption that people like me, like us, are unlike them. But we too, amazing as it may seem to them, are drawn into a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ, and become members of the Body of Christ, engaged with the challenges of our time and agents of transforming our communities and creation.

The two bishops and ten leaders identify themselves as biblically minded and orthodox Anglicans. This is in contrast to those they call innovators both in England and elsewhere who, they declare, wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture. How many members of the House of Bishops do they include in the category of innovators?

They believe it is proper for congregations to gather around their bishop on a non-geographic basis. This must be true for every Anglican Province including England. They are giving permission for anarchy in their own dioceses.

To ask the rhetorical question, ‘don’t they think we too take our stand on the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith’ is to risk arriving at the answer implied in their assumption. No, they don’t think we take our stand there, ‘we’ being everyone who isn’t like them, the majority of the House of Bishops, clergy and laity of the Church of England and almost certainly the majority in the Anglican Communion, despite the claims of global south primates.

To push the scenario further, even if a little unfairly, we might say that the bishops of Rochester and Lewes are moving in a schismatic direction and placing themselves outside the CofE. Their place is with the schismatic bishops they are supporting.

I suspect their fantasy is that they will form the nucleus of a continuing, ‘orthodox’ Anglican Church in England, and that this will replace the Church of England.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 9:26pm GMT

YAWN!

Nothing new here. Just the same old impious platitudes and hypocritical justifications from gangs of nobodies with pretendy organizations to make them sound like bigshots.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 9:59pm GMT

Well, My Lord of Rochester has just made a compelling case for liberals in his diocese to expect alternative oversight and declare themselves an extra-territorial part of New Hampshire.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 10:26pm GMT

It is certainly the case that many evangelical Bishops such as James Jones are on record as saying that he does not regard the gay issue as a first-order matter.

Yet more evidence that Nazir-Ali is positioning himself for leadership of a Global South-led UK conservative Anglican grouping.

One can only hope that the split comes soon - for can you think of anything positive that Nazir-Ali could ever bring to any organisation,. other than his resignation?

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 10:46pm GMT

The names are the same and the organisations the same. The development of course is adding Canada to the USA, and no doubt other developments will follow as this bishop or that parish decides to jump.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 1:59am GMT

It is exciting to hear about the formation of a parallel national church in Canada, under the oversight of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Now Anglicans in Canada have an option to remain in the Anglican Communion and do not have to accept gay marriages.

Posted by: Michael Li on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 1:51pm GMT

Canon 18 of the Council of Chalcedon should have been invoked long ago - there's been no lack of evidence!:

"The crime of conspiracy or secret association is entirely prohibited even by the laws of the land; so all the more properly is this forbidden in the church of God. So if any clerics or monks are found to be either forming a conspiracy or a secret society or hatching plots against bishops or fellow clergy, let them lose their personal rank completely."

Posted by: MJ on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 2:35pm GMT

"Now Anglicans in Canada have an option to remain in the Anglican Communion and do not have to accept gay marriages."

And how is thins different from the situation before the Network began its schemery? Who in Canada is being forced to accept SSBs?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 4:56pm GMT

"if any clerics or monks are found to be either forming a conspiracy or a secret society or hatching plots against bishops or fellow clergy,"

Which is precisely how Essentials has been organizing in this diocese.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

"Now Anglicans in Canada have an option to remain in the Anglican Communion and do not have to accept gay marriages."

Assuming you're Canadian, Michael Li, you "have to accept gay marriages" [sic: meaning "marriage between a same-sex couple"] six days out of the week anyway: they're the LAW of the land!

As for that seventh day: the AngChCanada doesn't yet perform religious *marriage* for same-sex couples anywhere. At any rate, as Ford says, no one's proposing any Anglican be *forced* to accept them.

Finally, re "an option to remain in the Anglican Communion": that's far from clear. Maybe "an 'Anglican' communion" . . . but not the one gathered around the ABC!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 9:15pm GMT

A parallel national church was formed ten days ago in Canada. It has been supported by over 16 archbishops and bishops outside Canada. But the Archbishop of Canterbury is silent on this new development. Perhaps parallel churches are going to become popular in the near future. It is no need for Dr. Williams to make any comment at this time.

Posted by: Michael Li on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 1:00am GMT

Michael Li: the Archbishop knows the conservatives, by their tantrum-throwing, are hastening the day when the Church of England will have to talk about how it is going to go forward, and he knows there will be a small number of very loud and angry conservative parishes soon making unilateral declarations of independence there. The rest of the English Church (and the wider society), however, is as liberal as the Canadian, and tends to move forward together in the same way as Canadian society (in fact, you might have inherited this characteristic from us!). Things are going to get a lot worse for him before they get better. He would be best just to make a principled stand for inclusion now, as the Canadian archbishops have done, and get the C of E over it all quickly.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 8:31am GMT

A small point: speaking of 'schismatics' is not only tabloidese, but also assumes without argument four things:
(1) that the debate has already been decided re who is in the wrong (a false assumption);
(2) that it is worse to stand apart (or to be deserted by others) than to be in the wrong;
(3) that there is no difference between staying where you are and finding yourself progressively deserted, on the one hand, and striking out on your own, on the other hand;
(4) that the ordination of Bp Robonson was not a schismatic act.
Arguments, not assertions, wd be good.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 12:33pm GMT

Michale Li, you still haven't explained how anybody on the Right is being forced to accept anything. I know you believe SSBs are contrary to Scripture, but how are you forced to accept them? You don't have to perform them yourself, neither in Canada do you have to accept a bishop who does, so what is it you are being froced to accept? The presence of gays in the Church? You can't tell me that's new.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 1:03pm GMT

Christopher,
1) We are constantly being told that in the minds of those on the Right, the issue HAS been decided. How often are we reminded, not only by NP, of "the mind of the Communion"? I have often referred to the fact that the debate is still ongoing, and it is conservatives who keep telling me it has been decided.
2) One doesn't cease to be wrong because one side or the other "stands apart" in any debate. Is it not better to humbly accept the possibility that you may be wrong yourself than to assert that you are so sure of your own rightness that you can't even celebrate the central act of Christian worship, the tangible sign of our love for the Body of Christ, which is after all each other? Which is better, humility or self-righteousness?
3) "Progressively deserted"? How so? Some might consider it to be diminishing of the power of those who traditionally lorded that power over everyone else.
4) How was the ordination of +Gene a schismatic act? Because of his sexuality? Well, why is that the only thing that makes an ordination a schismatic act? I would suggest that the ordination of someone who has vowed to take his diocese out of the Church in which he is sordained is a schismatic act, or the ordination of someone who denies that the ordained priesthood is necessary for the sacramental life of the Church.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 3:31pm GMT

Christopher Shell: "A small point: speaking of 'schismatics' is not only tabloidese..."

Yet it's OK for 'reasserters' to throw the accusations of 'heretics' and 'apostates' at TEC & ACC?

Posted by: MJ on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 3:44pm GMT

Christopher: as someone who actively wants a split, the facts of the matter are that ONLY conservatives have broken away from their diocese, hence causing 'schism'. They are the ones doing the breaking away. Now, you may argue that they do this for all sorts of reasons, but nevertheless, they and no-one else is doing the breaking away. And it is that which is causing the schism.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 4:02pm GMT

I must quibble with Christopher here. To say that the actions of Venables, Harvey et al are schismatical (and hence that the players are therefore schismatic) does not necessarily assume any of those four things.

(1) that the debate has already been decided re who is in the wrong (a false assumption)

It is entirely possible for one to be entirely right on the substantive issue yet still be schismatic. Schism is about the act of dividing the Church, which is a sinful act regardless of the view one holds on the substantive issue. In this case, the "conservatives" are engaging in schism by declaring who is or is not "in communion." I have yet to see any one from the "other side" declaring themselves out of communion with anyone else, and indeed many conservatives have denounced the machinations. Hence Dr. Radner's withdrawal from the Network, hence Archbishop Buckle's signature on the Canadian pastoral letter, hence the statements of Bishop Howe of Central Florida.

(2) that it is worse to stand apart (or to be deserted by others) than to be in the wrong;

Anglicanism has always provided ample room for those on various sides of a question to believe the rest are wrong while yet remaining in communion.


(3) that there is no difference between staying where you are and finding yourself progressively deserted, on the one hand, and striking out on your own, on the other hand;

Since no parish is forced to bless same sex unions and no bishop is compelled to ordain or appoint a gay priest, I find this a little distorted. See (2) above.


(4) that the ordination of Bp Robonson was not a schismatic act.

In ordaining Gene Robinson a bishop the Episcopal Church made no comment or determination on the ecclesial status of any other cleric in the world.


Schism is an act committed by declaring that x, y or z other bunch of Christians aren't really Chirstians - or at least aren't really member's of the same church. I haven't noticed Gene New Hampshire or anyone on his "side" making that argument.

Nor have I noticed any bishop purporting to be of the Anglican Church of Canada wandering around in Argentina randomly ordaining priests and deacons without the assent or even acknowledgement of the bishop in that place.

Schismatic is as schismatic does.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 4:11pm GMT


TEC didn't create schism when they consecrated Gene Robinson, but they did move outside the "canons" of the Anglican communion (in so far as Lambeth is the AC's conciliar process) not to mention the Canon of Scripture.

TEC has effectively put itself outside the Anglican communion. They've cleraly indicated that they won't go back on their moves, so they should be replaced. And orthodox churches and dioceses rescued.

.... Think Donatists in reverse!

Posted by: David Wh. on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 9:52pm GMT

David Wh.
Why you think that the Lambeth Conference is a "conciliar process". What evidence do you have for this view?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 10:57pm GMT

Lambeth has advisory status only.

And does that also apply to all those in other provinces who agree with TEC.

Basically - this is the conservative agenda. Throw out all who disagree with them.

Roll on the split: freedom from conservative delusion!

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 3 December 2007 at 11:56pm GMT

Oliver O'Donovan has an opinion about what he calls conciliar at Fulcrum. As I understand him it means a bringing together processes

The lengthy personal statement of June 27th 2006 confirms what was evident from the beginning, that the Archbishop's own comportment in relation to the crisis is indissolubly identified with the conciliar policy of Windsor and Dromantine.

...conciliarity has been his practice and not merely his theory, at a time when many wanted high-profile personal gestures.


http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20060803odonovan2.cfm?doc=128

It all comes up against the reality, that the Churches remain autonomous. I'm currently half way through a piece that redoes Andrew Goddard's mapping Anglicanism, replacing his Communion and Federal (and later alteration) with Conservative Protestant (Covenant=belief restriction) versus Liberal Protestant (Churches and individuals being diverse) versus Communion Catholic (Western/ Roman and centralising) versus Autocephalus Catholic (Eastern and Churches based). The latter would not accept any conciliar process at the Lambeth level, which has no actual authority except possibly "moral".

I'm slow because I'm doing some Lincoln diocese course feedback which must meet a group deadline.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 1:53am GMT

Several points here:

A: Bp Robinson's fault is not his 'sexuality'. It is (or: they are) (i) his adultery; (ii) his divorce; (iii) his lack of regret or repentance for the above; (iv) his false teaching on other matters; (v) his refusal to note the obvious point that he is heavily influenced by rather local societal trends. If one has an individual who would not (while unrepentant) be accepted as a mere congregation member by the majority of denominations, then making them a bishop is not the obvious step. One thinks of the great Christians and they always had cross-spectrum respect: CS Lewis, Mother Teresa, William Temple etc..

B: It is obviously incorrect to say that unity is entirely a structural/organisational matter and not at all a doctrinal matter - just as it would be inadmissible to say it was all doctrinal and not at all organisational/structural.

C: MJ - I don't recall speaking of 'heretics' or 'apostates'. The former is a slippery term, whereas the latter is a more precise and less judgmental one and I would not rule out using it.

D: Ford - 'the ordained priesthood'? 'the sacramental life of the church'? such phrases rest on a thought-world quite alien to that of the NT. As Jesus said in Mk 7, people are inclined to 'nullify the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down'.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 12:31pm GMT

Christopher
What adultery?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 1:55pm GMT

Christopher:

In addition to Simon's excellent question, what "false teaching on other matters"? Specifics, please, with citations.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:40pm GMT

"his lack of regret or repentance for the above"

How do you know?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:57pm GMT

Christopher: "Bp Robinson's fault is not his 'sexuality'. It is (or: they are) (i) his adultery; (ii) his divorce; (iii) his lack of regret or repentance for the above; (iv) his false teaching on other matters; (v) his refusal to note the obvious point that he is heavily influenced by rather local societal trends."

Malcolm+ ponders:

(i) No "conservative" or conservative bishop has ever committed adultery? (Incidentally, no one can point to +VGR having done so either. All available evidence suggests he was faithful to his wife so long as he was married to her.)

(ii) Given that a significant subsection of the conservative and "conservative" parties are quite happy to accept divorce and remarriage (and those that aren't are prepared to wink at those who are), this item is irrelevant.

(iii) Well, there is no evidence he ever committed adultery, and what he has written about his divorce seems to take very seriously the injury caused to his former wife.

(iv) Personally, I think an ecclesiastical party that includes his Grace of Sydney has very little room to speak about false teaching.

(v) Of course, +Akinola is in no wise influenced by the highly homophobic society in which he lives.

And B. - disagreement on doctrine is disagreement on doctrine. Schism is schism. The two are not unrelated, but they are not the same. Even the mainstream conservatives like Radner and Buckle can see that the extremists like Akinola, Venables and Duncan are pursuing schism - although they are reluctant to name it openly for what it is. But their separation from the extremists makes their reservation clear.

C'mon Christopher. While I rafrely agree with you, your postings here aren't usually this vacuous.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 3:06pm GMT

Christopher Shell: "I don't recall speaking of 'heretics' or 'apostates'. The former is a slippery term, whereas the latter is a more precise and less judgmental one and I would not rule out using it."

Apostacy is the abandonment and renunciation of the entire (Christian) faith. To accuse any Christian of that is deeply offensive and, in the present context, is utter nonsense.

Christopher Shell: "Bp Robinson's fault is not his 'sexuality'. It is (or: they are) (i) his adultery; (ii) his divorce; (iii) his lack of regret or repentance for the above; (iv) his false teaching on other matters; (v) his refusal to note the obvious point that he is heavily influenced by rather local societal trends."

(i) What adultery?
(ii) He's not the only divorced cleric - and that includes 'conservatives'.
(iii) For what? His divorce? How do you know? Have you checked all other divorced clerics as to whether they've expressed sufficient regret and repentance?
(iv) Such as?
(v) One could accuse African bishops of exactly the same thing - they come from the countries which have, on average, the most societal prejudice against the acceptance of homosexuality (96+%). Yet African bishops are not heavily influenced by local societal trends?

Posted by: MJ on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 4:00pm GMT

Some clarification: Bp. Robinson did not commit adultery, he is by no means the only divorced bishop (and surely it was absolutely right that he should divorce - the question is more the malevolent influence of the religion which pushes gay men into heterosexiual marriage in the first place), and there is no reason for him to 'repent' of things he has not done. There are many Bishops, including within the CofE, who are considerably MORE theologically liberal than Bp. Robinson. It is vital that Christianity can respond to local trends and insights - which is why the idea of a global church makes no sense. What works in premodern Nigeria will not work here.

This is something which is the direct outcome of changes wrought by late modernity, which is why historical examples are so unhelpful. Things have changed. There really are new things under the sun - yet another thing the bible got wrong!

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 4:09pm GMT

I believe I have heard that the order was:

1) Divorce,

2) Prayers in church, giving back the rings, promises to continue to be joint guardians of the daughters,

3) Mrs Robinson meets guy,

4) Marries him,

5) Mr Robinson meets guy,

6) Guy moves in,

7) Mr Robinson is elected bishop,

next summer:
8) +Robinson and Guy gets their Civil Partnership.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:01am GMT

Some clarifications:

Adultery: Adultery to the secular world is as you say; to the Christian it is 'anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery'.

'Ecclesiastical party': a truly honest person can only belong to all and none. The whole point of sitting round a table with other scholars is to seek the truth, not take a party line. I cannot remember a single scholarly discussion where the conclusion turned out baptist, methodist, evangelical, catholic or whatever - as opposed to truth-seeking.

Societal trends: I agree that people of many and most nations are heavily influenced by their own society and tend (often disastrously) to see it as a kind of norm.

'Apostates': I meant that I would include the word in my vocab, not that it applied to any particular individual such as e.g. Bp Robinson.

Repentance: How do I know he has not repented? Because biblical repentance is a doing-word. It is distinct from regret, which is a thinking-word. I'm sure he has many regrets, as do we all! Repentance, by contrast, would consist in his getting remarried: ie reconciliation, as opposed to formalising (and therefore rubber-stamping and approving) separation. Where I was possibly wrong was to imply that he might not regret the divorce: maybe however this was right insofar as one element in the divorce may have been the idea that it would be better for him qua homosexual to have a gay relationship rather than a heterosexual one. The adultery he cannot regret since he is in it now.

'He is not the only divorced cleric' - what is the relevance of this point? how does that make it any more right or wrong?

'False teaching on other matters' - ie on homosexuality and related issues.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 1:35pm GMT

"to the Christian it is 'anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery'."

Really? I know an awful lot of perfectly good Christians who are living in adultery then--including a number of priests and ministers. This isn't the Christian view, it's the Roman Catholic view.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 2:47pm GMT

"Adultery: Adultery to the secular world is as you say; to the Christian it is 'anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery'."

You mean "to SOME Christians including myself but by no means not all."

This conversation is complex enough without muddying the waters further with half truths.


"'He is not the only divorced cleric' - what is the relevance of this point? how does that make it any more right or wrong?"

Only that I don't see you campaigning to forcefully against any other divorced cleric.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 2:51pm GMT

Christopher Shell: "Adultery: Adultery to the secular world is as you say; to the Christian it is 'anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery'."

"The adultery he cannot regret since he is in it now"

You apply a Christian standard for adultery, yet the secular understanding of marriage. You can't have it both ways.

It is impossible for +Robinson to commit adultery since the church does not recognise marriage between two people of the same gender.

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 6:20pm GMT

"He is not the only divorced cleric' - what is the relevance of this point? how does that make it any more right or wrong?"-Christopher Shell

That many are busting up a church over this one man certainly make it relevant. Again, it's the disproportionate hate that demonstrates the fallacy of your argument.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 3:18pm GMT

Christopher: you seem, from your post, to be suggesting that a gay person should enter, and then remain in, a heterosexual marriage. Surely not?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 7 December 2007 at 9:20am GMT

Hi Pat
You say 'This isn't the Christian view, it's the RC view'.
No comprendo. It is Jesus's 'view'. Where did you think my quotation came from? Are you saying we know better than him, or have I misunderstood you?

Hi Stephen Roberts-
Your point is pure semantics. Semantics are all good, but not when divorced from reality. The reality is that, whether or not you are correct about the semantics, what he is *doing* (whatever definition we give to it, whatever term we use for it) is equally bad either way.

Hi Choirboy from hell-
Clearly you have special powers, otherwise you would not be able to discern the presence of hatred (as opposed to an attempt at ratiionally-based argument, which is the very opposite of something emotionally-based) across the waves of the blogosphere. Hatred is an ugly word and an even uglier reality. Failure to distinguish (at the millionth time of asking) between a negative conclusion and a negative emotion is also ugly but - in addition - gratuitous and could be easily avoided.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 7 December 2007 at 1:08pm GMT

"You say 'This isn't the Christian view, it's the RC view'.
No comprendo. It is Jesus's 'view'. Where did you think my quotation came from? Are you saying we know better than him, or have I misunderstood you?"

No, I think you've misunderstood Jesus. Divorce in his era was a one-sided street...men could get a divorce, women could not. That meant, in general, men got divorced for all the wrong reasons...usually because they were tired of their current spouse and wanted a different one. And women--even heavily abused or abandoned women--were stuck.

If Jesus had been speaking of modern society and modern divorce, his words would be different. That is the reality the Anglican church accepted when it decided that while divorce was to be discouraged, it was not to be condemned, either.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 7 December 2007 at 7:34pm GMT

"Christopher Shell [...] Your point is pure semantics"

No, your point does not stand in any way shape or form. He cannot be an adulterer in either the secular, or your "Christian" definition.

"The reality is that, whether or not you are correct about the semantics, what he is *doing* [...] is equally bad either way."

The reality is, I am right about the semantics and as challenged by Simon, me and the others here you should withdraw your groundless accusation that +Robinson is an "adulterer".

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 2:23am GMT

Hi Christopher Shell:

I calls 'em as I sees 'em buddy.

If calling a bishop an adulterer on the web isn't a form of implicit hate (or disgust, I concede), I can see no pretense of hiding behind the guise of an intellectual argument. Your sarcasm rose to the surface to make this point magnificently.

When a person pretends to be a follower of Christ attacks another who happens to share something in common with myself, my emotions are raw, unbridled and to a fault, honest.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 3:59pm GMT

The way I understand the Christian position is this: divorce is not recognised as a Christian option (according to the words of Jesus) except in the case of porneia, ie (something like?) sexual defilement which automatically produces another one-flesh situation (see 1 Cor 6) that compromises the original one.

Scenario 1: G Robinson is intimate with some other bloke while still married. No reason to charge him with this; but should it have been the case, it would surely have counted as adultery by him even if he were married and the other guy were not. I stand to be corrected here if it is the case that for adultery *both* parties need to be married. I am taking adultery to mean extramarital sex by a married person, and I *think* that is the correct definition.
If scenario 1 happened, G Robinson is doubly to blame for proposing a divorce that he was guilty of bringing about in the first place. But, I repeat, we have no evidence for scenario 1.

Scenario 2: OK then, GR was not guilty of adultery during his marriage. He 'never knew a man'. In which case there was no cause for him to be divorced (unless of course his wife was unfaithful), and by christian canons his divorce was not valid. Therefore in christian terms he remains married. Therefore any subsequent intercourse counts as adultery.

I spell this out in detail because some seem to be so sure that Jesus actually did not mean what he said, and what he did mean was (by sheer coincidence) something more amenable to those who just so happen to live in our own time and just so happen to live in our part of the world.

Pat - It is true that the norms of divorce procedure were different in Jesus's society and time when compared with ours. If he spoke today he may well have different emphases as you suggest. But what makes you think that those different emphases would be in the direction exemplified by modern America and Britain? That doubtful inference needs to be argued for.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 10 December 2007 at 2:43pm GMT

You didn't read the link I provided, did you?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html

Summary: Putting all this together gives us a clear and consistent set of rules for divorce and remarriage:

Repudium Discovering a secret thing (Deuteronomy 24:1) is forbidden.

Divorce is allowed for a limited number of grounds that are found in the Old Testament and affirmed in the New:

Porneía (Ezra 10, Matthew 19),
Emotional and physical neglect (Exodus 21:10-11, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5),

… but not Mandatory (contra Ezraism).

The wronged person is free to remarry.

Jewish couples listed these biblical grounds for divorce in their marriage vows. We reiterate them as love, honor, and keep and be faithful to each other. When these vows were broken, it threatened to break up the marriage. As in any broken contract, the wronged party had the right to say, "I forgive you; let's carry on," or, "I can't go on, because this marriage is broken."

Therefore, while divorce should never happen, God allows it (and subsequent remarriage) when your partner breaks the marriage vows.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 10 December 2007 at 5:11pm GMT

"The way I understand the Christian position is this: divorce is not recognised as a Christian option (according to the words of Jesus) except in the case of porneia, ie (something like?) sexual defilement which automatically produces another one-flesh situation (see 1 Cor 6) that compromises the original one."

Then you do not understand it. You are yet again using the word 'Christian' to mean 'Christian who thinks like Christopher Schell." It is recognized that divorce is more frequent among Evangelicals than non-Evangelicals. I'm sure they would disagree with you as to their status as Christians. The Orthodox, the ones who have called themselves that for over a millenium, also recognize divorce, so are they not Christians either? There are different kinds of Christians, Christopher, and some of us find it very difficult indeed to find any Christianity in the antics of some others. But, it is still wrong for us to claim they are not Christians. I fall into it, you do as well. Let's try to keep one another from doing that, shall we? We can't seem to avoid it on our own.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 10 December 2007 at 8:03pm GMT

"Pat - It is true that the norms of divorce procedure were different in Jesus's society and time when compared with ours. If he spoke today he may well have different emphases as you suggest. But what makes you think that those different emphases would be in the direction exemplified by modern America and Britain? That doubtful inference needs to be argued for."

The Jesus *I* believe in is forgiving, non-judgmental, and welcoming of all. He would understand that our better knowledge of human psychology and behavior requires a different, more open view of marriage and divorce. Would he condone divorce, absent violence or adultery? Probably not...but neither would he condemn it.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 10 December 2007 at 10:41pm GMT

"But what makes you think that those different emphases would be in the direction exemplified by modern America and Britain? "

If you check the statistics, it is conservative Evangelical Christians who are leading the charge to the divorce courts. How then does a conservative Evangelical Christian get the right to make a not so well hidden slam against "liberal" ideas with regard to divorce?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 1:49pm GMT

Hi Pat-
How does the Jesus you say you 'believe in' differ from the Jesus you prefer, want, or want to believe in? To prefer, to want, to want to believe in - all these things are quite different to actually believing that (whether we like it or not) an historical person was a certain way. He wasn't necessarily just like you. I know he wasn't just like me. Do you think that wanting history to have happened a certain way, or wanting Jesus to have been / to be a certain way, will make it so? No - wanting (apologies, Mary Poppins) does not make something true.

Hi Ford-
I believe it is the case that Evangelicals in USA have the high divorce rate of which you speak. I have never before heard it suggested that this applies outside the USA - though I may be wrong.

There are indeed many kinds of Christians. And those who do not conform to Jesus (teaching different from what he taught etc) can still do so. I am not sure why you listen to those that do not, as obviously the definition of Christian is follower of Jesus. Supposing that some group of 'Christians' does 'recognise divorce'. In that case, they must be viewing some basis, or some authority, higher than that provided by Jesus himself. On what grounds are they accurately referred to as Christians then? Is this a title we can allot to ourselves if we wish, or does someone else allot it to us?

I was being generous when I included the 'except for porneia' clause. I don't personally believe this goes back to Jesus as it is an addition by Matthew to Mark.

Hi Fr Mark-
I never said a gay person should marry someone of the opposite gender. We both know that there have always been two highly positive options for the Cbristian ie marriage and celibacy. Not that it would be a good idea to abandon an existing spouse: that would be tantamount to saying (and rubber-stamping, and setting in stone, the 'fact') that separation is a better thing than reconciliation. To which one can only respond, 'What?'.

Posted by: Chirstopher Shell on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 2:26pm GMT

"I am not sure why you listen to those that do not, as obviously the definition of Christian is follower of Jesus."

God gave me to be born where and when I was, into the family into which I was born, and the Church in which I was raised. I know what I believe on many issues, and most of these things are hardly innovative. I am humble enough to admit that I might be wrong, and that whatever creed I espouse might not be correct. Why do you think that your definition of "follower of Jesus" is the right one? Who do you see as a follower of Jesus? You ask how I can listen to those who do not follow Jesus. I believe that I do. It is not terribly humble of me to ask you this, but why do you NOT listen to those who follow Jesus? Do you seriously see Jesus's teachings in the actions of the Christian Right in general? In conservative Anglicans?

"Supposing that some group of 'Christians' does 'recognise divorce'.....On what grounds are they accurately referred to as Christians then?"

On the grounds that they and their ancestors have called themselves Christians for 2000 years, that among their number have been some of the greatest and inspiring saints of the Church. Indeed, they even use the word "Orthodox" to describe themselves, and have done so for far longer than those whose self-styled 'orthodoxy' seems to be based solely on their hatred of gay people.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 3:32pm GMT

But, Christopher, the Anglican Church has no tradition of supporting celibate clergy. They have never been required to take vows of celibacy (and I certainly wasn't); Evangelicals have always been loudly opposed to the Anglican religious orders, largely on the basis of them being communities of celibates; one of the 39 Articles (no. 32) specifically states that clergy shall not be forced into celibacy. You can't suddenly conjure up a tradition of celibacy in the C of E from nowhere, and then say that gay people (i.e. someone else than oneself) are uniquely called to it!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 6:35pm GMT

"Hi Pat-
How does the Jesus you say you 'believe in' differ from the Jesus you prefer, want, or want to believe in? To prefer, to want, to want to believe in - all these things are quite different to actually believing that (whether we like it or not) an historical person was a certain way. He wasn't necessarily just like you. I know he wasn't just like me. Do you think that wanting history to have happened a certain way, or wanting Jesus to have been / to be a certain way, will make it so? No - wanting (apologies, Mary Poppins) does not make something true."

I can only know Jesus two ways--from scripture and from my heart, as he has touched it. When I look at the two, I find nothing in Jesus' words in scripture that condemns another person for his sin; I find much that forgives.

The Jesus I know in my heart is the same...perhaps even more so, not being filtered by writers who lived 70 years after his death and two millenia of translation (good and bad).

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 9:31pm GMT

Hi Pat-
Surely you see that you are going by your (or your culture's pre-imposed image of Jesus rather than by the scriptures to which you claim to adhere. No-one can in any way claim that Mark 7 or Matthew 23 etc does not condemn sins (as opposed to people - though Jesus here is pretty harsh on the people themselves). They do. A remedy is also offered, and that same remedy remains open for every one of us who repents.

Hi Ford-
Do I see Jesus / actions of Jesus in conservatives. No, I see them in the primary sources. A high proportion of denominations refine themselves precisely by aiming to come ever closer to the primary sources.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 1:49pm GMT

"Do I see Jesus / actions of Jesus in conservatives. No, I see them in the primary sources."

My point was that if certain people make certain claims about what Christianity teaches, yet do not reveal in their lives any real understanding of what those teachings are, how can they be trusted? So, I must turn your last sstatement into a question: Do you see the actions of the Rightists in this as an example of "aiming to come ever closer to the primary sources"? That is to say, do you see the actions of the Rightists as an attempt to be more Christlike, which is what I think you mean?

And, one other thing, in your response to Pat, you mention repentance. How do you define repentance?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 4:30pm GMT

"Surely you see that you are going by your (or your culture's pre-imposed image of Jesus rather than by the scriptures to which you claim to adhere. No-one can in any way claim that Mark 7 or Matthew 23 etc does not condemn sins (as opposed to people - though Jesus here is pretty harsh on the people themselves). They do. A remedy is also offered, and that same remedy remains open for every one of us who repents."

The question, then, is whether a specific activity is defined as a "sin". The church has, through 2000 years, redefined many former sins...usury is a fine example. The Jesus *I* know--and, again, I know him through both scripture and faith--would urge us to use reason...one of the pillars of Anglican tradition...to determine these things.

As human knowledge expands, our understanding of God's plan for us improves. Why do you deny this greater understanding?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 4:50pm GMT

Christopher: Pat and Ford get a "Hi" and an answer, but not me?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 5:25pm GMT

Hi Fr Mark-

I neither said that there was a specifically Anglican tradition of celibacy (though in fact no doubt there *are* several), nor that there ought to be a correlation between celibates and homosexuals.

Your seeming to see Anglican tradition as something more important than Christian tradition as a whole is self-contradictory. Anglican tradition has not existence other than as a subset of Christian tradition. You're not suggesting that being an 'anglican' is more important that actually being a Christian, are you?

I wasn't speaking about priests at all - I was speaking about Christian adults. It has universally been the case that marriage and celibacy are the two options. Each is positive for the appropriate individuals: marriage for the majority and celibacy for a minority. Each requires a measure of self-denial, and no-one can seriously doubt that the modern trend to deny self-denial is nothing but the spirit of the age. I am looking for dialogue partners intelligent enough not simply to follow the spirit of the age.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 12:59pm GMT
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