Saturday, 25 July 2009

more reflections after Gen Con

The Church Times press column this week was written by Rebecca Wilson and is titled Rare moment of cake.

In the news pages, Pat Ashworth summed up developments in US decision triggers postal activity.

Doug LeBlanc wrote for the Living Church that Bishops Discuss Paradoxical Votes on Consecrations, Blessings.

Adrian Worsfold wrote “Rowan Williams’s game is up” for Episcopal CafĂ©.

The Anglican Communion Institute wrote Resolutions and the Windsor Moratoria.

Religion Dispatches published Episcopal Church Walks with American Clergy on Gay and Lesbian Equality.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 9:26am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

It was predictable that the so-called 'Anglican Communion Institute' would seek to denigrate the statement made by The TEC Presiding Bishop and Bonnie Anderson, affirming TEC's determination to remain within the Anglican fold.

ACI's own uncritical reception of 'Archbishop' Robert Duncan's statement to the Communion on ACNA's wish to 'retain' it's own unique and special connections to Canterbury (despite his formerly expressed dis-satisfaction with the ABC's seeming reluctance to embrace ACNA's schismatic action in leaving TEC) is symptomatic of the Institute's reluctance to admit it's own part in the creation of the schism.

To pretend to represent the breadth of world-wide Anglicanism, in arrogating to itself the title of 'Anglican Communion Institute', is a clear misunderstanding of the Anglican ethos, which does not sit easily with the politics of conservatism, but is open to the Holy Spirit's guidance on what a catholic and reformed Church ought to be up to in a world where separatism, on the grounds of perceived 'purity of faith', ought no longer to hold sway.

If ACI is seeking a perfect Church, then it needs to wait for paradise, where perfection is God's sovereign work, and where Christ alone can guarantee the perfection they (and we) desire.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 10:51am BST

Hi Fr Ron-
What is infallible about 'the anglican ethos'? Do you think that an ethos can or should be immune from criticism?

The point is whether something is good, truthful, just, or Christian, not whether it is anglican, coptic or armenian.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 1:37pm BST

Here again, Christopher, you appear not to have understood the gist of what I have said. I have never suggested that the Anglican ethos is *infallible* - that is precisely why it cannot be likened to the Roman Catholic Church, which actually does claim an infallible magisterial culture, declaring other Christian Churches to be inferior in their view of the Mission.

The whole point of Anglicanism is that it does not claim to be the only or 'true' Church. What it does claim is authenticity in its striving to maintain the inclusive ethos of the Gospel, in its own particular way - catholic yet reformed and open to further reformation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 5:25pm BST


Despite what our friend RIW would tell you, nothing is infallible in this world, of course,

But if a person or organization is going to call itself "Anglican," it behooves it to behave in an Anglican manner...and there's nothing Anglican about exclusion.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 5:29pm BST

Some combination of Seitz Radner and the other one write
"participants have produced wildly inconsistent, if equally far-fetched, interpretations of what took place."
and then
"There are now multiple conflicting interpretations of the relationship of Resolution D025 to Resolution B033 and the Windsor moratorium on episcopal elections"

This is the ACI interpretation of "subtle and nuanced".

These three lads fall apart a bit when they explain that TEC agrees with the version of events they have been shouting for the last three years - that is, BO 33 is NOT a moratorium rather
"The compliance with the Windsor request was found therefore not in the canonical enforceability of B033 but in the commitment of a majority of bishops with jurisdiction to a moratorium. And that commitment was manifested by their vote on B033."

I find their references to Integrity statements strange, after all wasn't it Integrity, Inclusive Church and Colin Coward who instantly hailed the Dar es Salaam Communique a total victory! So I would suspect a little politicking in their claims if I were the ACI analyst.

But I think they were struggling to keep up their momentum in this piece because having argued themselves there never was a moratorium and having quoted TEC as saying there never was a moratorium they conclude this vapid piece:

"Whatever one makes of the resolutions of the last two General Conventions, it is clear that TEC has now charted its own course and no longer considers itself bound by previous undertakings and Communion moratoria."

Oh, I see .........

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 11:13pm BST

The whole point of ACI spin doctoring is more or less to justify the much vaunted punishment of TEC for not policing or properly punishing its queer folks. Also, add in not properly policing or punishing the family members or friends of said queer folks - along with nearly anybody who doesn't already at least say out loud that policing and punishment are God's royal roads to holiness, in particular for queer folks.

When/if certain straight folks do certain sex acts, it is nobody's business, so long as the couple is married. Even if the couple is not quite yet married, if they can get married or are about to get married, everybody adopts a gentle and hopeful manner and tone towards them.

Let a same sex couple be said to do those same sex acts, and all hell is supposed to break loose because some deep sacred order of creation is being very terribly violated. Exactly which deep order of creation is getting violated by the queer couple is a bit up for grabs. Some say it is the deep male/female gender order. Some say it is the deep sperm/egg reproduction order. Some say it is the double-bind order in which queer folks by strict definition are not straight, so cannot be married, so can never have any sort of sexuality as part of their fallen natures without having to suffer mightily for it.

ACI wishes to punish TEC for confirming New Hampshire's election of Bishop Robinson; but a long and nasty history led up to that drawing of a line in the sands of realignment. Given the numbers of people actually affected, one would have mistakenly predicted that maybe contraception or divorce-remarriage would have nearly had Anglicans coming to ACI type blows; but no, its' all down to those pesky queer folks once again.

ACI can practically smell the flesh of targets heating up as swats are needed, all around. Thank you ACI sir, can I have another? They patently call for a hazing, or a paddle-equipped fraternity initiation ritual. ACI is showing off by imposing sufferings on others who aren't allowed into the big boy's meetings, just yet.

If Rowan Williams knows what's good for him, he will either step aside while a really big proper brute beats somebody up, or help beat somebody up, properly, himself as a loyal member of the conservatively realigned Anglican Team.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 1:28am BST

"US decision triggers postal activity" has got to be the _best_ _article_ _title_ _ever_....

Posted by: Rob Leduc on Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 4:50am BST

As a science fiction and comics fan, seeing General Convention referred to as "Gen Con" tickled my funny bone. "Con" is the usual shorthand for gatherings of fans (as in Comicon being held in San Diego this weekend), and "Gen Con" specifically is a gathering for gaming enthusiasts.

Imagining all those dog collars and purple shirts sitting around playing Dungeons and Dragons or World of War amuses me no end.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 5:58pm BST

In the Big Hooha surrounding the GC resolutions and what they mean and how they apply - I hear a great, pained Cry: Leeway and Anglican ambiguity simply will not do, NOT do at all.

Two sides of the Hooha Coin?

Re: Emotion. Voting leeway or ambiguity (by such a notable majority?) in a hot buttom domain or time of change is not the closed, final answer nearly all of the loudest Hoohawkers seem to seek, to need.

Do people really need to know, finally, for sure no doubts whatsoever, that queer folks are just exactly where church always put them? A negative place to be absolutely sure? Way, way down?

(Except that of course, really, even the very far rightwing believers cannot or do not put all queer folks in the prisons or the stakes or the gallows where we most often traditionally sentenced them. Believers lack power in some instances, but they would sentence queer folks if they could. Believers have actually changed in other instances, and would exert all manner of pressure short of prison or gallows. Either way, we have a real, tangible, effective change in how far down queer folks must be put to satisfy the emotional status needs of the people who put them, down, somewhere low.)

Re: Power. So far as having, using Power goes? Well, I honestly think a significant number of conservative realignment folks actually do not wish to be bothered daily with having to police or punish queer folks as such; they just want to rest easy, caressing the instruments of those traditional powers. Just having the privilege to police-punish will suffice for many such believers. So it is not just about the actual wielding of the Powers, it is about possessing them, authoritatively, innately, no changes please.

The great crunch of the resolutions is that they do not presume either an unimpeded right to the Emotional part, nor an automatic pilot given that is the Power part. Thus, A Big Hooha, crying out in what gets spin doctored as a ethical wilderness of pain, change, and disobedience to both sides of a tradition that is changing, anyways.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 8:20pm BST

I have been to Gen Con AND Gen Con (I once played a game with Gary Gygax when he was just an insurance salesman) & use the term intentionally (I actually remember when Gen Con was an abbreviation of "Geneva Convention" before it got to big & had to move to Milwaukee)

FWIW, I think Adrian Worsford's piece seems accurate -- but I have thought that for some time -- TEC has been interested in honesty & communion (it is not good to enter into a relationship being dishonest about who you are-- I discussed this with Jenny Te Paa @ Gen Con09) -- the "Orthodox" have been interested v regaining the power they once had -- not a symmetrical relationship.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 1:26am BST

Hi Pat-
I think in practice what happens is that some people become more concerned with the secondary issue 'is it anglican?' than with the primary issue 'is it Christian?' - which is of course self-contradictory since each Christian tradition only exists in the first place in order to be as Christian (not as faithful to some sub-ethos) as possible.

The BCP excludes some from receiving communion and includes others. It also includes those who give the right responses on certain occasions and excludes those who refuse to do so. I don't see any evidence at all that it includes the unrepentant, as made clear by the various beautiful anglican confessions. And so on.

It is correct to say that anglicanism is more inclusive than some other options. It is, equally, incorrect to say that it never excludes anyone or anything. Where did that idea arise from? The confusion here is between comparatively inclusive and wholly inclusive.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 12:21pm BST


As I read the TEC BCP, we are to include ALL baptized Christians in the full life of the Church. It is not for us, as humans, to decide who is truly repentant and who is not--that is God's decision, not ours.

What you miss is that every Christian denomination defines "Christian" in its own way, after agreement on certain fundamentals (Christ is Lord, Christ is risen, etc.). Therefore, the "sub-ethos" (in your words) of Anglicanism (or even the "sub-sub-ethos", if you will, of American Anglicanism) will define "Christian" as its governing bodies discern.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:48pm BST

"I think in practice what happens is that some people become more concerned with the secondary issue 'is it anglican?' than with the primary issue 'is it Christian?'"

And that some people seem to unite their particular denomination with Christianity. Many Evangelicals are guilty of this: to be Christian is to be Evangelical. You need to define Christianity, and to decide whether you are going to take a prescriptive approach: are those who do not confrom to your definition Christians or no?

And it is incorrect to suggest that Anglicans are now seeking to admit the unrepentant. At least, to do it now more than anyone else has ever done in the past. Let's be honest, Christopher, there are certain sins that long ago were accepted, even some that were made laudable. If you want to criticize this as an attempt to "bless sin", you will not be credible till you oppose all the other ways the Church has "blessed sin" for the past 1700 years, or at least explain why this particular sin is not like the others. Conservatives never seem to address this honestly, always claiming that the things they like or benefit from are not "reassessing" of the Scriptures at all, or jumping through elaborate hoops to justify these compromises of the Gospel. That isn't so bad, it's the spectacle of these same people condemning others for things they are at laast as guilty of themselves, then pretending to be so much better Christians than the rest of us that is so luaghable, and maddening.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 27 July 2009 at 3:44pm BST

Hi Ford-
What are you talking about, specifically? It's obvious that both I and all other Christians would oppose every attempt to bless or justify any sin.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:33pm BST

"What are you talking about, specifically?"

You made the following claim:

"I don't see any evidence at all that it (Anglicanism) includes the unrepentant"

I said that the Anglican Church is not trying to do that. I further pointed out that the Church has declared things to be no longer sinful. I suspect you accept some of them. As I remember, you and I had a discussion once on the sinfulness of usury, something the Church once said was sinful, but long ago claimed it wasn't.

You said:

"the primary issue 'is it Christian?'"

My point was that you have to define Christian in this context. There are many Evangelicals for whom Christian means "Evangelical", for instance. For them, nothing can be both Anglican and Christian, the two are mutually exclusive. Many of them, on many occasions, have told me I am not a Christian, for any one of a number of reasons, like my baptism as an infant, or that we use prayer books, or that I have never spoken in tongues, or that I venerate icons, or that I invoke the Saints, or much more. Much of what some of us consider to be at the core of the Gospel would be called 'not Christian' by these people, and much of what they do would be called "not Christian" by us, if we presumed to say such a thing. I, for instance, believe glossolalia and some of the more striking things asssociated with the "outpouring of the Spirit" one finds in many Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches, profound experience though it might be for some, is nothing more than a psychological phenomenon, hysteria essentially. Similar experiences are found in many religious traditions around the world, particularly Voudou and shaminism., and accompanied by the same physical phenomena in the believer. I do not believe there is anything supernatural in it at all, and could even make the argument that it is the Enemy of Mankind manipulating people to lure them from redemption. It is not my place to say such things, so I try to keep that attitude to myself, especially since for some these things are not just profound religious experiences, but evidence of salvation. In my experience, the denial of the Christianity of others is common, though I perceive it to be a trait of certain groups more than of others.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 8:16pm BST

Hi Ford-
The easy step is to deny the christianity of those with whom we disagree. The hard route, but the correct one, is to study what a christian was thought to be foundationally, and not assume that one will be proven right or wrong in one's prejudices.

Usury: the only reason people see this as a controversial issue is that it is already so scripturally. Blanket bans as in Ps 15 need to be held in tension with the NT parable of the talents Mt 25 & par..

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 12:00pm BST

"Usury: the only reason people see this as a controversial issue is that it is already so scripturally. Blanket bans as in Ps 15 need to be held in tension with the NT parable of the talents Mt 25 & par.."

Thanks for the chuckle. That usury was a sin was accepted by the Fathers right up into the English reformation where we have some of the earliest Anglicans also speaking of it. But keep on arguing that it is more complex and needs to be taken in balance and all the other things, and keep on not seeing the irony and hypocrisy in that behaviour too, BTW, it makes for some good chuckles and proves what I have been saying about the selective perception of sin in conservatives.

"what a christian was thought to be foundationally, and not assume that one will be proven right or wrong in one's prejudices."

OK. What is a Christian foundationally?

Posted by: Ford ELms on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 3:06pm BST

Hi Ford-
I don't get why the witness of the fathers would override that of Jesus, given that the master in the parable seems clearly divine.

A 'Christian' (the term was first used by nonChristians but is not disowned by Peter or Paul: 3 NT references, two in Acts and one in 1 Peter) is a Messianic believer as distinct from a nonMessianic one. The term first became useful and necessary in order to distinguish between different types of Jews - but of course the movement then became more Gentile. Though the early Christians preferred other terms (The Way; brethren; disciples; saints) 'Christian' is an accurate term, since a Christian is, organically, a Christ-person / one who is in Christ.
How did they become so? By the process of salvation: being encountered with their need and Christ's work; repenting, believing, receiving the Spirit, being baptised.
Is that what you meant by your question? You probably know it all already as it's all there in the NT.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 1:01pm BST

"How did they become so? By the process of salvation: being encountered with their need and Christ's work; repenting, believing, receiving the Spirit, being baptised."

So, based on this then, why do Pentecostals and many other Fundamentalists/Evangelicals claim that I am not a Christian? I surely fit your discription. And please keep up your attempts to justify usury. That you can't see why it's funny is in itself funny.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 5:53pm BST

"Thanks for the chuckle. That usury was a sin was accepted by the Fathers right up into the English reformation where we have some of the earliest Anglicans also speaking of it."

I didn't know it took so long for the concept of interest to catch on.

At any rate, as far as I know, the reason for the medieval prohibition wasn't so much anything in the Psalms as the clearcut prohibition in Leviticus 25:3.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 2:41am BST

Christopher, can you refer me to any classical commentator on the NT that sees the Parable of Talents as allowing interest on money?

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 2:47am BST

Hi Ford and Billy-
I would certainly be grateful for you pointing out where I said usury was justified. I am not sure that I do believe that, and certainly my personal beliefs are irrelevant to this particular discussion anyway. All I said was that the scriptural witness is ambiguous, which is absolutely true. You were writing without taking the talents-parable into account and ending up with a comparatively simplistic answer. I was taking the debate a step forward by introducing another relevant factor which made the overall picture less simplistic and more complex.

Billy, I don't know which commentators you'd classify as 'classical', but it is the modern critical commentaries which give fullest treatment. What is undeniable is that the master in the parable plays the role of God and that he says the servant should have, at worst, gained interest on an investment. This is, in fact, Jesus's main teaching on the whole topic of interest and/or usury, and biblical theology is based on Jesus above all. That is not to say I agree, or even that I believe that this particular parable goes back to Jesus (I go with Goulder JTS '68). But that is something determined source-critically not according to the content of the teaching.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 6 August 2009 at 12:48pm BST
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