Monday, 21 September 2015

More responses to the primates gathering announcement

Updated Tuesday morning

The GAFCON Primates Council Chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, has published his September Pastoral Letter. The full text is here.

In it he says:

…Real discipleship will be marked by sacrifice and by love for Jesus Christ, and if we truly love Jesus Christ, we will love another and we will work together love the lost. It is therefore very sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling a meeting of Primates to see if the Communion can be saved by making relationships between its Churches more distant rather than closer.

A statement in response to the Archbishop’s invitation can found on the GAFCON website. Let me simply say here that a global Communion embracing widely different cultures should strengthen its member Churches by mutual wisdom to see where adaptation becomes compromise, each Church being submitted to the revelation of Jesus Christ as we have it in Scripture as our final authority in all times and in all places. Instead, it has become clear over the last twenty years that the Communion is becoming a source of weakness as Churches which have rejected the truth as Anglicans have received it spread false teaching, yet continue to enjoy full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Our GAFCON movement believes in a much richer vision. We seek to unite. We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution but also those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. To them we say ‘You are not alone’ as we join together to make Christ known…

Fulcrum has published an article by Andrew Goddard From Communion to…..Federation ? Andrew is clearly opposed to any such move.

Episcopal Café has published Editorial: Anglicanism-the muddle way. Andrew Gerns takes quite a different view.

Tuesday updates

Anglican Mainstream has published this article by Andrew Symes The wages of spin: death of truth? After discussing his own recent appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he concludes with this:

We are seeing a combination of spin, intimidation and hypocrisy as revisionist church leaders join with the secular media in creating distance between (in their narrative) ‘good religion’ of liberal Western Anglicanism, and the ‘bad religion’ of the orthodox version in the developing world. In North America the faithful confessing Anglicans have faced this, taking a public, costly stand, articulating the Bible’s clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human as part of a fully-orbed presentation of the counter cultural Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have not been ashamed of association with African Christian leaders, warmly welcoming close fellowship and even oversight from them. The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to show at the January meeting that he rejects the revisionist tactics of the BBC/Guardian/Bishop of Manchester (that is, if the GAFCON Primates accept the invitation). Otherwise English evangelical Anglicans and orthodox anglo-Catholics will need to be moving ahead organizationally along the same lines as ACNA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 9:35am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

I"m struck by this line from the GAFCON statement:

"... those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church. "

That phrase, "false teaching" strikes me as not being very Anglican, suggesting as it does a black-and-white approach to religious truth that Anglicans started to part company with toward the end of the 16th Century. It reeks of religious wars, burning alive of those who dissent from conventional lines of thought and practice and of inquisitions. And it positively offends me in this particular case because as gay man I know it's directed at my place in church life. It's grounded in ideas about Bronze-Age texts concerning a Bronze-Age deity that, in uncountable ways, we've learned to put aside in the name of basic human decency. As usual, many of the most "devout" among us continue to have a troubled relationship with such decency.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 11:39am BST

I don't know what the Anglican Communion actually "does". It seems to me that by not talking about it it plods on nicely and I assume that, with one or two exceptions, all its local projects continue to flourish.
It's only when we talk about it that it becomes broken, a source of weakness etc.

Maybe we just stop talking about it for another decade and simply get on with what we're all doing anyway at a diocesan or parish level?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 12:28pm BST

Episcopal Cafe, as might be expected, offers a telling and pungent overview of what it means - not only to TEC members, but many of us in the Anglican Communion of Churches - to be part of a diverse family of believers. We don't want to rule others in the Communion, nor do we want our local missionary outlook to be subverted.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 12:34pm BST

> I don't know what the Anglican Communion actually "does". It seems to me that by not talking about it it plods on nicely and I assume that, with one or two exceptions, all its local projects continue to flourish.

> It's only when we talk about it that it becomes broken, a source of weakness etc.

> Maybe we just stop talking about it for another decade and simply get on with what we're all doing anyway at a diocesan or parish level?

Brilliant post! Thanks, Erika.

Posted by: Robin on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 4:27pm BST

When I was received into the Anglican Communion in 1975, I was given a Certificate of Reception. It hung on the wall of my office in every parish I served in. On the back is a map of the world, with a text which reads:

"Drawing its teaching from the Bible, The Anglican Communion holds the belief of the early Church as summarized in the creeds. In its ministry of Bishops, priests, and deacons, and its emphasis on the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, instituted by Christ, it preserves the ancient structure and practice of the Church, while seeking to fulfill God's will in each generation."

Looking at the Certificate in the light of recent events, i'm thinking it is a lot like looking at a Confederate $100 bill. Issued on a promise, and now an artifact of the past.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 4:37pm BST

The Anglican community seems to do quite well when the diverse bodies, each formed by its own circumstances, simply carry on as the Spirit directs and moves them. We need no "curia" - the resemblance of one prayer book to another is perhaps "community" enough.

In this context, "... those who persevere despite being marginalised and even forced out of their traditional spiritual homes by the rise of false teaching in the Church" seems delusional, wrong-headed and self-righteous, the tail clinging to the belief that it is the "only" part of the dog.

Jesus ate with and spoke to all manner of persons with love and an open ear. Cannot GAFCON do the same

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 6:26pm BST

'We recognise and embrace those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, not only those who persevere in the face of violent persecution ...' Does that include embracing gay Christians in Uganda who are violently persecuted for persisting in not being straight?

PS. The English is difficult, do I detect an ACNA 'ghost' writer in the verbalisation of a noun? Viz.'those who sacrifice for the sake of the gospel'.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 11:13pm BST

"... those who persevere despite being marginalised ... [by] false teaching in the Church"

False teachings such as that certain of G*d's children are so inferior that they ought to be murdered for the sort of person G*d created them to love or to be? The fact that they mean exactly the opposite is nauseating on a fundamental and visceral level.

Posted by: DBD on Monday, 21 September 2015 at 11:48pm BST

Of course, I love the vision set out by Andrew Gerns. That is the Body of Christ in my view.

Episcopal Cafe also reports that in Kenya there's a witch hunt ensuing in the Anglican Province of Kenya, exposing and punishing gay clergy. What kind of vision for the Body of Christ is that?

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 5:09am BST

Rod Gillis wrote:"Drawing its teaching from the Bible, The Anglican Communion holds the belief of the early Church as summarized in the creeds. In its ministry of Bishops, priests, and deacons, and its emphasis on the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, instituted by Christ, it preserves the ancient structure and practice of the Church, while seeking to fulfill God's will in each generation." He then said that this was an artifact of the past. I cannot see how this statement has been eclipsed or changed by the events of the last forty years. Same-sex issues have no effect on it and vice-versa. In fact, this statement doesn't mention Scripture, which is usually the sticking point for those who claim that it condemns homosexuality. Nothing in that statement does not now apply to the Anglican Church. The words "while seeking to fulfill God's will in each generation" might well be seen as a way to understand our openness to the process of change as we are led by the Spirit.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 6:00am BST

I am puzzled by Andrew Symes' attempt to convince others and maybe himself that Church of Uganda leaders have not been pressing for intensified criminalisation of (albeit not the death penalty for) LGBT people and their friends. He earlier repeated allegations very similar to those commonly used against Christians in countries where persecution is widespread, to try to justify the Anti-Homosexuality Act (http://anglicanmainstream.org/the-ugandan-anglican-church-and-the-law/). But the oppressive nature of this appalling law is clear from its wording (http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2014/02/24/62755), and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has not made any secret of his enthusiasm (see e.g. http://www.mondaytimes.co.ug/details.php?option=acat&a=2028#.VgE1VJeum6o, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Anti-gays-Bill--repentance-top-Xmas-sermons/-/688334/2126136/-/10rwlfz/-/index.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/ugandas-anglican-leader-doubles-down-on-anti-gay-law/2014/08/04/4d3f418c-1c08-11e4-9b6c-12e30cbe86a3_story.html), nor did Archbishop Henry Orombi before him. The 2010 church statement on the bill made it clear that leaders wanted to see lesbians as well as gay men punished by law (http://churchofuganda.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/COU-official-position-on-the-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009..pdf).

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 12:19pm BST

@ Adam, "I cannot see how this statement has been eclipsed or changed by the events of the last forty years." Adam, I said the certificate which carries the statement is an artifact of the past.
In terms of how my church, The Anglican Church of Canada, is characterized currently by GAFCON, the statement itself could now be considered naive.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 12:21pm BST

Uh, Adam, look at the first phrase, six words, in Rod's citation.

Posted by: Bill Paul on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 12:44pm BST

The Anglican Mainstream article accuses various people of spin in relation to the Church of Uganda's approach to anti-gay laws, but is very selective about what the Church has itself said. The Washington Post (4 August 2014) quotes Archbishop Stanley Ntagali after the Bill originally failed: 'The court of public opinion has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place. I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality.'

Although the BBC presenter was mistaken about the Ugandan Church's support for the death penalty, the Bill did initially have this in mind. This wasn't a case of media spin. AM are guilty of their own spin by asserting that Bishop Walker was 'using false information'. He was absolutely correct to remind Andrew Symes that the Church of Uganda supports criminalisation. Consequently the violation of human rights resulting from the Act are likely to be high on the media agenda, regardless of political hue, when the Primates meet. It is understandable that Archbishop Welby wishes to downgrade the status of this Primates Meeting to one of informal gathering as any communique about sexuality would have to take a clear line against criminalisation.

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 1:12pm BST

I clearly upset Andrew Symes during our Today programme interview last week. I've followed the links in his article, but I'm still failing to find anywhere in them where the Ugandan bishops oppose the criminalisation of homosexuality. Nor was he able to say that they opposed criminalisation during our interview, despite being given several opportunities. If it makes me a "revisionist" to say that homosexuality should not be criminal, then I guess I admit the charge. It puts me in pretty good company, including every other C of E bishop.

Posted by: David Walker on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 1:46pm BST

"I'm still failing to find anywhere in them where the Ugandan bishops oppose the criminalisation of homosexuality"

Quite. It's a popular technique from people who don't have a strong argument: point to factual error (which you accept) that does not in fact materially alter your position, and then vaguely refer to some other source which they imply, but never clearly state, then refutes the rest. So here, Andrew Symes claims that documents which do, in fact, resile from actually killing gay people in fact argue against imprisoning them, which they don't. The charitable may think that he is just confused, or unable to read closely; I think he's far too clever for that, and knows exactly what he's doing.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 5:49pm BST

Bill Paul said "Uh, Adam, look at the first phrase, six words, in Rod's citation." Yes, the Bible is referenced, but not in the way that Gafcon et al seem to view it. "Drawing its teaching from the Bible" is very nuanced indeed. It does not even say that Scripture is authoritative. However, you are right, I was a bit tired when I posted. Rod Gillis said that the statement was naïve in view of how Gafcon views the Anglican Church of Canada. I am also Canadian. Frankly, how Gafcon views anything isn't definitive for me. Rod must mean the phrase "it preserves the ancient structure and practice of the Church", since this isn't true for some elements of Gafcon. However, just because they have decided to breach or break with the ancient structure and practice of the Church doesn't make the statement wrong. It makes them wrong.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 7:32pm BST

Good for you, +David, for speaking the truth.

The Ugandan and Nigerian archbishops support the heinous laws criminalizing being gay. The Kenyan archbishops makes a lot of horrible anti-gay statements, and there seems to be a witch hunt going on to "out" gay clergy there.

GAFCON has human rights abusers in their leadership. They simply do. How that is compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ baffles me. But I'm not calling for their expulsion from the Anglican family, despite their insistence that my church also violate my human rights...

Patriarchy has to end. It is so destructive on women and girls as well as LGBTQ people.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 8:47pm BST

Committed as I am to 'live and let live' Anglicanism, I do think some C of E people (as, for example, Andrew Symes) are simply not worth bothering about: their vision and rhetoric are so distorted and so devoid of empathy for any but their own extremely narrow view.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 9:09pm BST

"...In North America the faithful confessing Anglicans have faced this, taking a public, costly stand, articulating the Bible’s clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human..."

First: What the devil is a "confessing Anglican"?

Second: Which biblical "clear teaching about sex, marriage and what it means to be human"?

Third: Why are they still ignoring Jesus' clear teaching about divorce and remarriage while continually spending energy casting gay people (whom the Jesus of the gospels never so much as alludes to) as demons?

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 at 9:29pm BST

Daniel,

Some years ago a group of conservative evangelicals from America visited Rowan Williams when he was Archbishop, asking what they should do to identify themselves as opposed to any relaxation of their church's hostility to gay people. He replied that they might call themselves a Confessing Church. He was castigated by a journalist for encouraging homophobes to use a name associated with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Christians who heroically opposed Hitler, in some cases to the point of giving their lives. (I am writing this from memory of the events, but I believe I am accurate in substance.) Perhaps these "confessing Anglicans" are the same people?

Comments on this thread have confirmed me in my view that Anglicans will go round in pointless circles until we bite the bullet and begin serious discussion of what we mean by the inspiration and authority of the scriptures. What reconciliation is possible between those determined to regard the Bible as a unified book whose every (translated) word is timeless truth and those who see it as a library of ancient writings, all historically and culturally conditioned? As one brought up loving the scriptures, I have never found that a properly critical approach diminishes their spiritual importance - rather the contrary.

Posted by: Barry on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 11:12am BST

In 2009, even before Stanley Ntagali became an archbishop, he was reported as taking the position that 'I think the death penalty is not acceptable' while 'I think taking someone to jail for a period of time would be sufficient' (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/article/uganda-bishop-supports-jail-homosexuals-opposes-death). This remains his stance.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 11:32am BST

It strikes me that ++Justin is bringing reality to bear. Various groupings within both the 'communion' and the C of E are simply not going to agree on this issue. So, the question then becomes 'what can we do?' ++Justin is seeking to get the 'leaders' of the Communion to a) accept reality and b) see if we can remain friends in the light of that reality. He may 'fail' on both fronts but he will at least have created a more honest and authentic environment. And, for this he should be commended.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 11:39am BST

No wonder Jesus taught, for the most part, in parables. This is clear evidence that he wanted his followers to think out the implications of what he was saying - at a far deeper and more mystical level than the Scribes and Pharisees had been wont to interpret the Scriptures so far available to them: "You read the Scriptures, but you do not understand".

When read in a balanced way, the words of Jesus in Scripture, for Christians, are surely 'the Way to go'. The rest is commentary.

"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 11:46am BST

Ntagali's position isn't *as* repulsive if he supports criminalization but not capital punishment, but it's equivalent to the difference between jailing people for "miscenegation" and killing them, and as such, is still repulsive.

Failing to unequivocally condemn Ntagali's position, and him for holding it, is, to use Interested Observer's phrase, the racism of low expectations. Ntagali's not an uneducated person overwhelmed by his culture; he's a smart, educated guy who's traveled extensively. He knows the arguments and evidence against his position, knows the harm it does, and holds it regardless. He has no excuse.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 12:22pm BST

Quite, James Byron. And in many African jails being jailed for homosexuality is almost the equivalent of a death sentence. With prior rape and torture thrown in.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 1:37pm BST

Excellent point, Erika. Given the grossly unjust blurring of homosexuality and pedophilia in places where homophobia's widespread, LGBT people jailed for their sexuality will be viewed as "chomos" and "nonces" would in American and British prisons, and suffer the same grim fate.

Unbelievably, Anglican Mainstream use this conflation to justify the Nigerian and Ugandan laws, instead of to vigorously challenge them. Whatever scant excuse Ntagali might have, they have even less.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 4:05pm BST

Don't forget that the hateful rhetoric fans the flames of hate further. There are cases of tabloids that deliberately "out" gay Africans, giving contact info, in the hope that someone will assault or even murder the gay person. And sadly, this has happened.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 at 6:54pm BST

Having worked in the prison service even in this country, I know how dangerous and pernicious it often is if you're labelled a 'nonce'.

I could well imagine that in some countries, being 'gay' is perceived as being as perverted as a sex offender, and that prisoners and officers could viscerally detest 'people who are sick and lower than ordinary criminals.'

In that context, being banged up for being gay becomes life-threatening and probably often violent.

It is not a case of 'not so bad as the death penalty'. It is a case of terrible danger and risk of violation.

Church leaders who endorse these punishments deserve to be called out and challenged about this. Bullying and abuse are wrong in any culture, and that's what gay prisoners are likely to face inside.

Even in British prisons, life for a 'nonce' is frightening and dangerous. So where 'gay' is regarded as some kind of 'nonce', and where a whole society vilifies you as something sick, perverted and deserving of being targeted, one can only imagine the mandate that bullies in prison (whether inmates or staff) feel they have.

Lord, have mercy.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 12:31am BST

Sarah Kendall said it very well on the News Quiz on Friday: "It's more like sleeping in separate bedrooms in a house where some people in some bedrooms are being murdered for being gay."

Posted by: DBD on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 12:50am BST

I think the Anglican Church of Canada's Indigenous People have given our Anglican Communion a very useful object lesson - on 'Unity in Diversity', a once prized element in the Communion.

While Canadian Anglican Indigenes may be opposed to, and culturally uncomfortable with the idea of Gay Marriage (a process which the A.C. of Canada has in mind), they have already declared they are not prepared to break away from the parent Church on this issue.

This is surely a paradigm for how the different Provinces of our Communion could agree to live and let live, while maintaining the basics of the genius of Anglican compromise.

However, if this possibility is turned down by the Gafcon Provinces, then it would seem that there can be no way for them to continue to arrogate to themselves the claim to represent what they have been pleased to call 'Orthodox Anglicanism' - a euphemism by which insist on interpreting their own conservative approach to both Scripture and Tradition.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 11:57am BST

Our unity stems from us being 'one in Christ'. We are only ever 'in communion' through being in communion with Jesus Christ.

And as a species, we are incredibly diverse, every single one of us in our own different ways.

So yes, 'Unity in Diversity' is the only way to go. It is how we are set up by God to be... and to live.

It requires grace, and patience, and forgiveness, and self-reflection on our own weaknesses and need of God.

To the extent to which we are willing to open ourselves to that grace and mercy, we perhaps also find we are opening ourselves to God.

The sum of all the parts is greater than the individuals with their divergent dogma. In many ways, this was forced on the Anglican Church by circumstance I its earliest days, and the diversity of the Anglican Church is precisely its genius and (I suggest) a distinctive chrism.

Where we reach theological dead ends and face offs with each other, there is only one language left, but it is the greatest language of all, the language of God, and that is abiding love.

What we lose out, if we retreat into sects. The gospel is not power games. It is love. And love has to be grown into, and grace encountered, through awkward realities, difficult relationships, and the end of our own self-importance.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 24 September 2015 at 10:00pm BST

Right on, Susannah! As Elizabeth Violet Brown has it in 'Just William' - LOVE IS ALL!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 25 September 2015 at 12:01pm BST

Sarah Kendall said it very well on the News Quiz on Friday: "It's more like sleeping in separate bedrooms in a house where some people in some bedrooms are being murdered for being gay."

Right in one!

This puts the human-rights crisis that is the Anglican Communion in proper perspective. If many bishops advocate imprisoning LGBT people, or worse, then the global Anglican episcopate is not part of the solution. It's part of the problem.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 27 September 2015 at 1:41am BST

" If many bishops advocate imprisoning LGBT people, or worse, then the global Anglican episcopate is not part of the solution. It's part of the problem."

Exactly. And why the rest of us should be pressured into being accomplices to these human rights violations doesn't make any moral sense. I can't see that it makes sense in light of the Gospel of Jesus. I don't object to being in communion with them. I don't object to sitting at the table with them. I just don't see that TEC or anyone else should scale back our human rights progress to affirm human rights violations.

Prison for LGBTQ sisters and brothers is a sentence to hell for being who God created us to be. When people in power advocate strongly for this, they are abusers.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 27 September 2015 at 6:20pm BST
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