Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Times leader praises Episcopal Church decision

The article on D025 yesterday included a link to this Times leader , but it might get overlooked in the long list there. This is part of the context for Tom Wright’s op-ed article.

Honest to God

The consecration of homosexual bishops is a matter of justice

The Episcopal Church in the United States voted last week to overturn a moratorium on the ordination of gay bishops. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the General Synod yesterday that he regretted that decision.

The ground of Dr Williams’s concern is clear. Since his enthronement six years ago, he has sought to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion. He spoke last week of his hopes and prayers that “there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart”.

It is a noble aim to maintain a federation of 38 autonomous churches united by tradition. But Dr Williams’s appeal for restraint is ultimately untenable. It cannot override a simple and direct acknowledgment that homosexual clergy, including bishops, belong in the Church.

Dr Williams should state that principle, even aware of its divisiveness. Churches that insist on the inerrant word of Scripture, notably the Pauline epistles, will not accept the consecration of open homosexuals. Yet social attitudes to homosexuality have shifted radically in the past generation. The sources of Christian inspiration are diverse. They do not derive only from a private response to Scripture.

It is possible to maintain that the Episcopal Church has been impolitic in its vote, but still maintain that it is right. A united Anglican witness to the nation and to the world is a valuable civic as well as religious resource. Those member Churches, including many in Africa, who conscientiously cannot accept homosexual bishops, should not have appointments forced upon them. But the issue is not one of denominational preference alone. It is also a matter of justice.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 10:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | ECUSA

N T Wright's piece is in the hard copy edition of The Times today, and in it he describes this Times leader as "shrill".

I would expect a bishop to do better than name calling, and I cannot see anything "shrill" in the leader anyway.

Perhaps "shrill" means "not agreed to by N T Wright".

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 12:39pm BST

Pardon me while my sides split with laughter as +Wright invokes John Rawls in support of continued discrimination against homosexuals. If +Wright were ever to apply Rawls's test for justice, and actually put himself in the shoes of one of the gay or lesbian persons he continually rants against, he'd come to quite a different conclusion!

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 1:15pm BST

Since non-churchgoers are the fastest growing segment in US religion and the Episcopal church is about 2.2 million out of 305 million people (and it's shrinking), except for its traditionally disproportionate presence (in the US Senate, e.g.), it's hard to see how this is a serious issue for anybody.
The clergy has always had more gays than the general population; why, nobody can say. But simply recognizing what is obvious to those in religion was inevitable.

Posted by: brad evans on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 2:48pm BST

I appreciated The Times measured and thoughtful analysis of TEC's decision. But then I am not a bishop and have nothing to hide.

Thanks to Charlotte for invoking the spirit of John Rawls. Maybe the bishops could do with studying his work.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 3:12pm BST

As much time as Bishop Wright has spent nosing around in the business of the Episcopal Church, one might have assumed he would understand how bishops are chosen in TEC. He speaks of the "appointment" of bishops. In TEC bishops are elected by the clergy and laity of their diocese and that election is then either consented to or not by the diocesan bishops and by their Standing Committee (composed of clergy and laity elected by their diocese). At least Wright could informed himself about those he is criticising.

Posted by: Michael on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 3:33pm BST

I have yet to hear even one suggestion that the Provinces who are so opposed to openly homosexual clergy will have them "imposed" on them. What they are in fact demanding is that their view be imposed on us.

Posted by: Paul Davison on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 5:20pm BST

The line:

Within the “gay community” much postmodern reflection has turned away from “identity” as a modernist fiction. We simply “construct” ourselves from day to day.

should therefore mean not blocking people from ministry simply because of the sex of the person they love, which itself becomes (in his words) a "modernist construct".

It is a pathetic, sweeping article typical of someone who gives the impression always of being angry.

However, in his dismissal of the FCA, a group which won't allow 'open evangelicals' to have a hand on its steering wheel, he shows how the Fulcrum position is now up a creek without a paddle. Ephraim Radner keeps writing his articles, the latest of which is that General Convention should let dioceses opt out of its decision and join this dud of a Covenant. A Church has made a decision, and that's it. Dioceses don't opt out.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 5:35pm BST

Tom Wright is a highly intelligent man. Rather like St Paul, in his Pharisee days, he uses his academic skill and his unshakable belief in the 'closed ended' interpretation of religious orthodoxy, to construct convincing arguments which exclude great swathes of humanity from the equality which the Body of Christ affords to all its members. Although clever, rather like St Paul the Bishop of Durham can't see the wood for the trees. Maybe one day.. on a road....a bright light? God is much bigger than Tom Wright's clever books and much bigger than his imagination. Hold fast to inclusivity. It won out in the first Century. It will win in the 21st.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 5:45pm BST

Bishop Wright's editorial obviously originates in the heat of emotions. We should allow him a period to blow off steam. If he will make the effort to communicate with friends in the Episcopal Church, he will surely see that we are both pledging our loyalty to the Communion and our fidelity to Christ. With time to read the resolutions and contemplate on the ties that continue to bind us together, I hope that Bishop Wright will be more charitable.

Posted by: Scott Stockburger on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 5:56pm BST

Maybe Tom Wright would like to enact some other biblical laws in the UK. Let's see, we could start with The Biblical penalty for adultery, death. For stealing: Death. For bearing false witness: Death. For not honoring your parents, e.g., striking your father: Death. For breaking the Sabbath: Death. And should any missionary come to your house to get you to go after some god other than the God of Moses and Abraham, those missionaries should also be put to death. According to my understanding of the bible we've all could be accused of being cafeteria Christians. Certainly his precious GS changes scripture to fit their cultural norms. Duncan ordains women and TEC openly ordains homosexuals.
Forcing people to live lies isn't being fair or caring. Hope the CofE gets better appointments in the future.

Posted by: BobinSWPA on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 6:13pm BST

For any who may be interested in additional responses to +Tom Wright's, uh, op-ed in the Times, I strongly commend a blog piece by the Rev. Scott Gunn, who is a clerical deputy from the Diocese of Rhode Island at the General Convention (where did he find the time?!).

(The title pretty well says it!)

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 6:31pm BST

"As much time as Bishop Wright has spent nosing around in the business of the Episcopal Church, one might have assumed he would understand how bishops are chosen in TEC."

Maybe he just keeps rereading the Windsor Report, which is chock full of such errors and misinformation. He is obviously so holy that he doesn't need to confuse himself with facts.

As other TEC folks have written on this list, I am fed up with full with such meddling and ignorant attempts at interference from Wright as well as the ABC.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 6:49pm BST

These comments by someone who was previously thought to be an outstanding scholar just prove that it has become absolutely impossible to make any intelligent objections against the equality of lgbt people in the church. Had it been possible,he, more than anyone else, would have made them.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 7:40pm BST

Chris wonders if N.T. Wright [as he likes to style himself] will ever undergo a Damascene conversion. Well, James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool did, last year:

- so anything is possible, but I think it unlikely in his case.

The time is now approaching when Rowan Williams will have to make up his mind. I think he is now a closet evangelical, and I am pretty sure he will decide in favour of the bibliolators.

Posted by: Paul R on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 8:06pm BST

Bishop Wright's editorial obviously originates in the heat of emotions. We should allow him a period to blow off steam.

We should be able to expect better from a bishop, an heir of the apostles and an icon of Christ, than "heat of emotions" and blowing off steam in a major newspaper.

Posted by: WilliamK on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 at 9:03pm BST

Times leader: "It is also a matter of justice."

...which is a Christian and *Biblical* concept (just in case anyone wanted to trot out the "captive to culture" canard again)

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 2:14am BST

The whole idea of newspaper 'leaders' badly needs re-examining. They tend to come across as(and/or actually be) pompous and look like they wouldn't know a footnote or a nuance if it bit them in the leg. Then, ironically, without even revealing who their true authors are (which is very convenient - for them) they claim to be the voice of authority.

The whole point about authority is that the more dogmatic and less nuanced/multi-sided/in-the-round something is, then the less authoritative it is.

An added point is that, at the level of 'The Sun Says' etc., leaders are cleverly crafted to reflect the existing prejudices of their assumed loyal readership. The same, with variations, goes for the leaders of other newspapers. Feeding existing prejudices is the very opposuite of encouraging people to think.

Anti-thought and anti-nuance. Not a promising combination.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 1:20pm BST

And, of course, if the Times "leader" had praised the con evo position, Christopher Shell would bubble over with praise, yes?

Posted by: Kurt on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 2:22pm BST

"Feeding existing prejudices is the very opposuite of encouraging people to think."

You're absolutely right, Christopher, in the whole post. (Oh my, I'm feeling a little piqued:-))The thing is, who said it was the job of the media to get people to think? The media exists to distribute its product "sell papers", if you will. They will do what is necessary to do that. Truth and accuracy go out the window in the rush to be the first with the "scoop", regardless of the truth of that "scoop". A case in point is 9/11. I think it would be a good Masters, or even PhD, thesis for a journalism student to review all the reportage from the Big 5 American stations: CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and CNN for the period from Sept.11 to Sept. 25, 2001. I would venture to bet that the percentage of what was reported that was actually true went up over the course of that period, but that it probably never reached 100%, and probably started off at around 25%, if that, on the day itself. It was all about getting something out there, regardless of the accuracy of it, secure in the knowledge that the public wuld not remember, and certianly would not hold them accountable for, anything that was reported that was actually false. At least under Communism, people know their press is lying to them. Here, we are oblivious to it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 3:04pm BST

Ford: following your tangent here: you could easily spot traces of nationalism. the stirring of offended faux victimization, in GWB's addresses less than 36hrs after the attacks in 11/9...

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 5:02pm BST

Hi Kurt-
The answer to your question lies in my comment. The problem is leaders themselves: the nature of leaders. Generalisation and pontification are the enemies of truth.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 20 July 2009 at 1:18pm BST
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