Saturday, 28 April 2012
"Stay Together" says Bishop Greg Venables
The Church of Ireland Gazette has an audio interview this week with Bishop Greg Venables of Argentina.
The 22 minute interview can be heard via this page.
There is a major article based on this interview in this week’s Gazette, headlined Church of Ireland must stay together, Bishop Greg Venables tells Gazette. This is subscriber-only but here is an excerpt:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 28 April 2012 at 8:40am BST
The Bishop of Argentina and former Primate of the Southern Cone, the Rt Revd Greg Venables, a leading theological conservative in global Anglicanism, told the Gazette last week that, should the General Synod adopt a liberal approach to the issue of same-sex relationships, those of a more conservative view should stand together but remain within the Church of Ireland, because their position was “the original Anglicanism – Prayer Book, Bible, original 39 Articles Anglicanism”.
Bishop Venables, who, along with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, was visiting Ireland to address a ‘First Things’ evangelical conference held last Saturday (21st April) at the Jethro Centre in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, was speaking to the Gazette editor before the conference.
Bishop Venables said in the interview that if the forthcoming General Synod, which it is widely expected will address the issue of same-sex relationships, were to take a less strict approach to the subject, then “those that don’t agree have to review their position and ask themselves how they are going to respond to that situation, but do it in a collegial, consultative, gracious, united way”.
However, he also stressed the need, in such circumstances, for dialogue with those of different views on the subject.
Bishop Venables said that, in the context of the current controversy in the Church of Ireland over samesex relationships, “there must be discipline, there must be consequences, and there must also be a way for things to be put right … That implies repentance, that implies recognizing that something is wrong and repenting of what is wrong and putting things right in that way.”
He also spoke about the need for the Church generally to focus on fundamental issues, especially because of cultural shifts that had taken place in recent times, and commented on current Anglican Communion affairs, in particular in relation to the proposed Anglican Covenant.
The Bishop noted how two distinct ways of being Anglican had now emerged. The first held to scriptural authority and the second saw Christianity as “an ongoing development which is related to the Scriptures, but which isn’t founded on the Scriptures”, he said.
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Bishop Venables statement is very hopeful and reasonable until he comes to the point of saying
that there are 2 kinds of Anglicanism one rooted in scripture and the other which is 'an ongoing movement related to scripture but not founded on it.'
Anglicanism is based on 3 legs and not one - Scripture, Reason and Tradition .The Bishop's Anglicanism has only one leg- Scripture and what is more Scripture intetrpreted in a certain way.
The evident ratcheting down of the fire and brimstone from the FOCA crowd makes one wonder if they know that they do not have the support to carry the "Mind of the Communion" in their culture war. I doubt that moderation pending resolution of the Canterbury Stakes is a major factor.
The problem with the 'sola scriptura' advocates - like Bishop Venables - is that they fail to accepty the realisation that the Holy Spirit is still active in the world, bringing ever new revelation about the inclusivity of God's mission in and to the world. The Church ought to be the primary communicator of ongoing revelation, but in some areas it seems stuck with the 1st century mode and model. The prophetic voice seems to have been relegated to judgement rather being harnessed to hope.
Yes, indeed. Jesus had a few choice words for those who got stuck in the legalistic past.
However, I would submit that the problem with the advocates of 'more than scriptura' is that it is difficult (at least to me!!) to discern any practical 'new' hermeneutics of the Spirit. If one advocates for an ongoing revelation, then, how the Church discerns -- in our short time-span -- what it truly is from God and what it is not? If it is 'new" it has to be from God just because it is 'new'? How does the Church discern a true prophetic voice from a noisy Most Holy Charlatan? (And, BTW, what is the definition of 'Church'?) How the Church deals with the local and the universal? Is the Spirit now calling the Church to shed its Catholicity?
I do believe that the Spirit is leading and prompting the Church into new understandings. However, just as I am uncomfortable with assigning truth to traditional views because they happen to be traditional, still, I am equally uncomfortable assigning truth to new understandings because they just so happen to be new.
I do believe that if anything, the Church has been called to patient charity, to hold in high regard our brothers and sisters who may not see it like we do, and to stick together come what it may.
As a resident of the Southern Cone I find the above comments very refreshing. It seems to me that the Primates and Bishops who refuse to attend the Primates Meeting and Lambeth Conference have already left the Anglican Communion. Perhaps it is time to turn the stool into a table by adding a fourth leg for Tolerance. A four legged table provides the base for all who wish to stand together, even when they don’t agree.
Finally, Thomas. That was one of the most sagacious comments that I have read on TA.
By comparison, how does 'patient charity' operate in the Anglican church in countries, such as Nigeria and Liberia, where plural civil unions are recognised the State and some churches?
Why aren't more commenters up in arms over the lack of 'inclusion' spawned by Resolution 114 in 2008: '"In the case of polygamy, there is a universal standard – it is understood to be a sin, therefore polygamists are not admitted to positions of leadership including Holy Orders, nor after acceptance of the Gospel can a convert take another wife, nor, in some areas, are they admitted to Holy Communion'?
The voice of the Holy Spirit is consistent, rather than subject to the special pleadings of one group over any other. 'God is no respecter of persons'.
"Why aren't more commenters up in arms over the lack of 'inclusion' spawned by Resolution 114 in 2008: '"In the case of polygamy, there is a universal standard – it is understood to be a sin, therefore polygamists are not admitted to positions of leadership including Holy Orders, nor after acceptance of the Gospel can a convert take another wife, nor, in some areas, are they admitted to Holy Communion'?"
First of all, in spite of what Wikipedia says, that's not a resolution, but paragraph 114 of an Indaba reflection from the Conference, available here: http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/downloads/Reflections_Document_(final).pdf
Lambeth dealt with polygamy most recently, it appears, in 1988's Resolution 26, available here: http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1988/1988-26.cfm
Note that in both documents what's addressed is not celebrating new polygamous marriages, but how to deal with polygamous converts to Christianity. In the past they were expected to divorce all but their first wife (or in some places all but their "favorite" wife, I believe), a practice that had a negative effect on family life.
As I understand it, the present, more tolerant pastoral approach to polygamous converts was sought by the African bishops at Lambeth.
But how odd to assume that people in favor of same-sex marriage would necessarily share an opinion about polygamy in the first place, David!
As a follow-up to my previous comment, it strikes me that the Bishops overreached themselves in the Indaba statement; polygamy is not, surely, categorically a sin across the board for non-Christians, is it? I have yet to hear a sermon from an Anglican priest or bishop of any stripe about the necessary sinfulness of Abraham or Jacob's plural marriages, for instance. In fact, it would be a little odd to assert that the Twelve Tribes arose from an objectively evil form of family life, it seems to me.
A good point you make here, Bill. What do the 'Sola-Scripturists' have to say about that?
David Shepherd? Any comment?