Friday, 31 January 2014

Archbishops' letter to primates: GAFCON responds

From the GAFCON website:
A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

A response to the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of 29th January 2014

This week, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York sought to remind the leadership of the Anglican Communion and the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda of the importance of friendship and care for homosexual people.

Christians should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable, but this cannot be separated from the whole fabric of biblical moral teaching in which the nature of marriage and family occupy a central place.

The Dromantine Communiqué from which the Archbishops quote also affirmed (Clause 17) the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 which states that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture’ and that the conference ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’.

Yet earlier this week, the English College of Bishops accepted the recommendation of the Pilling Report for two years of ‘facilitated conversation’ because at least some of the bishops could not accept the historic teaching of the Church as reaffirmed in the Lambeth resolution.

Indeed, in making the case for such a debate, the Pilling Report observes ‘In the House of Lords debate on same sex marriage, the Archbishop of York commended that the Church needed to think about the anomalies in a situation where it is willing to bless a tree or a sheep, but not a faithful human relationship.’ The anomaly only exists of course if it really is the case that a committed homosexual union can also be Christian.

The good advice of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would carry much more weight if they were able to affirm that they hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion. At the moment I fear that we cannot be sure.

Regrettably, their intervention has served to encourage those who want to normalize homosexual lifestyles in Africa and has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans. We are committed to biblical sexual morality and to biblical pastoral care, so we wholeheartedly stand by the assurance given in the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that those who experience same sex attraction are ‘loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’

May God in his mercy grant that we may hold to the fullness of his truth and the fullness of his grace.

The Most Rev’d Dr Eliud Wabukala
Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council.
30th January 2014

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Comments

"Christians should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable, but"

No. Christians, like everyone else, should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable. There is no but.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 8:11pm GMT

"the whole fabric of biblical moral teaching in which the nature of marriage and family occupy a central place" -- Eliud Wabukala

Well, this is hardly true, for a start. Marriage and the family play virtually no role at all in the Gospel, at least in the ordinary biological sense, to which the Incarnation itself might well be taken as a rebuttal. Just why did God choose to become Incarnate apart from the normal order of family life, if not to say that the "new creation" is not simply a recapitulation of the old? It seems that the Global South has placed heterosexual marriage in a place it ought not hold. If anyone is "dethroning God"...

Posted by: Tobias Stanislas Haller on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 9:26pm GMT

The Western writers of this response are a little 'too clever' when they write:

"has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans"

Really? In what sense? That this form of religion is vile? I'd have thought this view is not prejudice but a fairly obvious and reasonable response. It doesn't matter who says it, the bibliolatry of GAFCON that puts selective people's lives at such risk from the State and the mob is simply vile.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 9:29pm GMT

Whoever drafted this just didn't even want to consider the question being raised.
I think there is no doubt that these people have been completely captured by the white quasi-fundamentalists. Any further conversation has been ruled out by them, this is just another bargaining chip in the political game for power.

For the time being there is little or no hope of unfettering these people from their controllers, they are lost. One sort of guesses that in his heart Welby already knows this and has decided not to completely destroy any credibility he may have by pandering to their agenda.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 10:29pm GMT

Predictable reaction is predictable. [But no less disturbing thereby.]

Whenever the response to VIOLENCE against human beings is "Yes, but..." you can be sure we're dealing w/ idolatry. Anathema!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 10:53pm GMT

If only the Christian character of gay relationships were all Gafcon were interested in debating. Then perhaps there would be greater scope for respectful disagreement.

Sadly, what they really call into question is the very humanity (rights, dignity, liberty) of gay people. This should be countenanced by no-one, least of all Christians.

Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 11:28pm GMT

" We are committed to biblical sexual morality and to biblical pastoral care, so we wholeheartedly stand by the assurance given in the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution that those who experience same sex attraction are ‘loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.’ " - Eliud Wabakula -

One wonders how ++Eliud can appeal to 'biblical' seuxal morality, which he insists on being anti-Gay; while at the same time affirming the pro-Gay assertion made in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution. There appears to be some double-talk happening here. Also, in his statement, below:

"In the House of Lords debate on same sex marriage, the Archbishop of York commended that the Church needed to think about the anomalies in a situation where it is willing to bless a tree or a sheep, but not a faithful human relationship. The anomaly only exists of course if it really is the case that a committed homosexual union can also be Christian." - Archbishop Wabakula -

- the Archbishop of Kenya denies the possibility that "a committed homosexual union can also be Christian". One might ask, then, how the Archbishop can, on the one hand, agree with Lambeth 1998 statement of support for homosexuals, while he explicitly denies that any monogamous homosexual relationship could ever be Christian?

Methinks this may be evidence of a Machiavellian mindset, and not at all helpful in the arguments.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 11:42pm GMT

Whatever aspect of this fellow's witness is defined by truth and grace, he has demeaned by the rest of the message.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 31 January 2014 at 11:55pm GMT

As far as I know, trees or sheep are not considered Christian. So his argument that we don't bless non-Christian things immediately falls apart.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 1:25am GMT

"If only the Christian character of gay relationships were all Gafcon were interested in debating. Then perhaps there would be greater scope for respectful disagreement."

Not much, though.

Posted by: Geoff on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 2:11am GMT

This is good:

"As far as I know, trees or sheep are not considered Christian. So his argument that we don't bless non-Christian things immediately falls apart."

Or houses, or ships, or food . . . .

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 12:21pm GMT

It is both sad and disturbing that this release has obviously been written by Western 'minders', probably American. Some years ago a similar release by Peter Akinola when he was Archbishop of Nigeria was analysed and turned out to have been overwhelmingly composed by Martyn Minns 'Bishop' of one of the Nigerian breakaway factions in the Diocese of Virginia.

Anyone fancy doing a form criticism on it?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 2:42pm GMT

Much is made of the persecution of Christians, and as I said on an earlier thread we shared our Christmas with a family who had just escaped a life threatening environment, people are really dying for our faith in pitiless circumstances.
Then there are the awful stories from Christian Concern pedaled as persecution which should, and do, make those who suffer genuine persecution angry and hurt by their rhetoric.

But what strikes me is that what would be counter cultural in these places is for the Church to speak out for gay people (even as sinners) and to advocate their lives should be spared any legal sanction. Surely that would be the Christian thing to do?

As I read the excuses for the hateful legislation being promoted by Christian Churches throughout the world (Russia too) one of the arguments I hear most to justify this in Africa and Asia is the precarious position of Christians where there are significant Moslem population.

This goes back to the Williamses telling me that one of the most potent reasons Jeffrey John was so hideously betrayed was a call from a Pakistani bishop saying that if the ordination went ahead there would be Christian blood on his streets.

Now we hear a great deal about the precarious position of Christian communities in some places and this is given as a reason to press ahead and advocate the persecution of gay people. Apparently any reluctance to see the full force of the law being mercilessly enforced on gay people and those who would preach care, support and tolerance would identify Christians as weak and supportive of gay people. Hence the sentence in one reply saying that the Archbishops' letter will be seen as supporting the normalisation of gay people.

So the persecution of gay people is something Christians MUST support or it will open them up to attacks and there would be "blood on the streets".

This now presents me with a dilemma. Just how much would I want my fellow Christian, so threatened, to support me and my family in a way that leaves us to flourish and so put their life at risk? If If we are "pigs and worse than dogs" as an Archbishop once described us, then we can expect little humanity though I would argue that even then Christianity should shelter me under the shadow of her wing. But if we are humans, even mistaken humans there is nothing, NOTHING in what are lives encompass that deserves the punishment being implemented and advocated in Nigeria and Uganda.

Still how much would I expect my fellow Christians, indeed any fellow human being to stand with me if it meant their life. I cannot answer that, I cannot answer it for myself if put to the test. But what I will say is that soon after Jeffrey was humiliated and ejected, Gene Robinson was consecrated a bishop and then there were others - and as far as I know the streets of Peshawar did not run with the blood of my brothers and sisters as a consequence.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 2:46pm GMT

Excellent observations, Martin, particularly your observation about the lack of a bloodbath over Gene Robinson's consecration. It was a bluff.

Put simply, Williams was conned. The "blood on the streets" prophecy of doom was the crudest emotional blackmail. He should have said, plainly, that neither he nor Jeffrey John were responsible for the actions of murderous sectarians, and he would not allow a bunch of street thugs to dictate Anglican policy.

The bluff could easily have been called with an offer to postpone John's appointment for, say, a week, in order to allow the relevant churches to secede from the Anglican Communion.

Williams didn't, of course, but the fault isn't his alone. Liberals should have denounced him at once. Heck, we should have fought in Synod back in 1987, instead of handing homophobes victory on a platter. By 2003, we were already fatally compromised.

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 4:24pm GMT

Excellent points, Martin. If I thought that my inclusion in the human family, both in civil human rights and inclusion within my church, was truly at the cost of blood in the streets elsewhere, it would give me pause. However, what we have in liberation history is the example of Martin Luther King (Gandhi before him, but he wasn't a Christian leader) and how his movement, in the name of Christ, has served to liberate many beyond his movement.

Upholding the idea of all of us as members of the human family and all of us as created in the image of God, and acting upon it, sets an example for the liberation of others. It lifts people up. Does martyrdom happen? Alas, MLK, Harvey Milk, and many who have worked for the simple idea that all people are our neighbors have been killed. But in that case, the task is to honor what they died for, and not equivocate, as that prolongs the injustice everywhere.

++KJS had it right. And I'm afraid that this Kenyan archbishop is quite muddled on both Christian theology and basic human rights.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 5:46pm GMT

"If I thought that my inclusion in the human family, both in civil human rights and inclusion within my church, was truly at the cost of blood in the streets elsewhere, it would give me pause."

No person's human worth should be hostage to a mob. You are worth so much more than that. We all are.

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 10:08pm GMT

"He should have said, plainly, that neither he nor Jeffrey John were responsible for the actions of murderous sectarians, and he would not allow a bunch of street thugs to dictate Anglican policy."

But having done so, unfortunately he gave away the pass, and made it harder for his successors to grow a backbone.

Chamberlain is unfairly traduced over "peace in our time". The UK was launching a capital ship every few months, building Spitfires, installing radar, designing strategic bombers, re-equipping the army with modern tanks, re-establishing a crypto and signals intelligence capability and so on. There is an argument, with 20/20 hindsight, that the UK might just have been militarily able to defeat Germany in 1937/8, but it ignores a whole swathe of political reality. What is clearly the case is that Chamberlain knew war was coming, knew Germany was expanding its military capability, and therefore moved Britain to a war economy. He sacrificed Czechs to buy time, which might have been dishonourable, but was at least effective realpolitik.

The CofE learnt the wrong lessons. It returns from GAFCON meetings waving pieces of paper promising pastoral peace in our time, but does not regard that as a fiction to buy time to build more battleships; rather, it takes the empty promises at face value, and idles while GAFCON builds. Welby now faces opponents who are more implacable, more numerous, more well equipped than Williams faced before him. This isn't Chamberlain. This is abject surrender.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 2 February 2014 at 1:11pm GMT

There is blood in the streets. Despite Britain not consecrating any gay bishops or blessing civil partnerships the situation for gay people in Africa has got immeasurably worse.
Those who now counsel against speaking out should ask themselves just how much worse it could possibly get.
And they should also be aware that gay people in Nigeria have asked why the West has not loudly supported them and they have welcomed the Archbishops' speaking out last week.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 2 February 2014 at 8:43pm GMT

Chamberlain's realpolitik cred. would be higher if he hadn't managed to lead Britain into a disastrous continental war in 1939-40 on the basis of a foredoomed guarantee to Poland, which resulted in the nation's army in retreat and most of its military equipment being abandoned. Chamberlain *thought* he was a calculating statesman. That was his tragedy, much like it was Williams'.

But I digress!

Erika's right, there's already blood on the streets. This was never about the welfare of LGBT Africans. Williams, regardless of his isolated competence in theology, failed to see that.

Posted by: James Byron on Sunday, 2 February 2014 at 10:07pm GMT

You can be anti-homosexuality, but not supportive of legislation which is unnecessarily cruel. If they are conscious of the Muslims (and in Uganda, Christians are the overwhelming majority) why not allow sharia? If the Anglican hierarchies of Uganda and Nigeria are to be believed let them clamp down on heterosexual abuses like polygamy, widespread amongst their congregations, and also neo-paganism.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 6:33am GMT

RIW,
"why not allow sharia?"
This not just about the law, this is about the public hatred unleashed and tolerated if not encouraged.
The sharia trial of the 11 men rounded up almost immediately after the law came into force is interesting.
The judge stressed that sharia law did not permit hearsay and that 5 witnesses had to be found who had seen those people have sex. The first witness had seen no such thing and so the judge dismissed his testimony.
Whereupon the public outside the court house got so frustrated that they threw stones at the court, smashed in a window and injured one of the people inside.
The trial had to be interrupted and the accused placed in protective custody.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 9:09am GMT

Robert. What exactly are you proposing that could change the situation with the advent of Sharia?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 9:50am GMT

"If they are conscious of the Muslims (and in Uganda, Christians are the overwhelming majority) why not allow sharia?"

Regrettably, there is a lot of anti-Semitism in some parts of the Muslim ummah. Without the trauma of the holocaust to force us to look at our prejudice, old tropes continue to be peddled. The situation in Palestine does not, whatever your views on the topic, make matters better.

Does this mean that GAFCON should start to advance anti-Semitic narratives from the 19th century, so as to align itself with Muslims in Africa? And if not why is engaging in hate against gays any different?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 9:53am GMT

Sharia or Christian Dominionism; so what's the difference? Both want to lock up liberals, roast gays, and reduce women to chattel.

The only meaningful difference between our fundamentalists and their fundamentalists is a shave.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 1:47pm GMT

The case that Erika mentioned. The judge seems to be bending over backwards to be fair in his enforcement of an unjust law. (he quotes Maimonides!) The bit where the witness says that the defendants must be guilty because they are well dressed notwithstanding their being out of work - says it all about the way that pure gossip fuels many of these allegations. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/29/anti-gay-violence-nigeria-sharia

Posted by: Sam Roberts on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 1:50pm GMT

I am alone in noticing that the implications in this statement is that saving the lives of Christians from persecution is important and that by implication homosexual people are NOT Christians?

Posted by: commentator on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 2:45pm GMT

We live in a world filled with starvation, disease, warfare and suffering on a massive scale and all that most leaders of churches can concern themselves with is what people are doing under their duvets. Criminal folly--and they wonder why the pews are emptying.

Posted by: Allan Ronald on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 7:27pm GMT

Does anyone think Islam is united on these matters? Yes, of course they have their fundamentalists, and yes, they have their difficulties with what the Koran teaches, but a Google search of "gay" + "Moslem" will show that debate is alive and well there too. It is possible to find gay Imams (difficult I concede, but possible) and numerous websites to help young Moslem GLBT folk.
It is a safe prediction that Moslem opinion, especially in the Western world, but in Africa and the Middle East as well, will move in a liberalising direction in coming decades. Western Christians will not assist that process by colluding with Moslem fundamentalists, any more than with Southern Baptist ones.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Monday, 3 February 2014 at 10:11pm GMT

It is as nothing to the absolute outrage just perpetrated by the Nigerian Catholic bishops.
Their statement of welcome for the legislation is breathtakingly evil.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 7:37am GMT

Here is the Roman Catholic response mentioned above:
http://www.cbcn-ng.org/newsdetail.php?tab=287

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 10:58am GMT

Will Pope Francis be calling the Nigerian Roman Catholic hierarchy to Rome about this statement? I hope so.

Posted by: commentator on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 at 5:48pm GMT

Go to the ( very) conservative blog rorate coeli for a bit more on the Nigerian RC bishops statement and the reaction in Rome.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 12:07pm GMT

"rorate coeli"

It's a pretty frightening blog, although its triumphalism and amorality is at least refreshingly honest.

The argument appears to be that it's OK for religious leaders to support, or at least condone, violent persecution, so long as they can point to some other people who might think better of them for doing so. In other words, principles are fine, but temporary advantage is better.

Presumably the authors of that blog see the Reichskonkordat as a highspot of Catholic diplomacy and a beacon of moral leadership to which other denominations can but aspire. Because I don't see how you can read the Catholic church's support for violent persecution of gays in Africa as anything but a re-run of 1933: whether it's gays or Jews, it seems that some Catholic leaders still hanker after the good old days.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 8:09pm GMT

"..the authors of that blog see the Reichskonkordat as a highspot of Catholic diplomacy and a beacon of moral leadership ....." Interested Observer on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 8:09pm GMT

That's probably just about smack on the mark ......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 9:29pm GMT
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