Saturday, 20 May 2017

Opinion - 20 May 2017

Marie Griffith Religion & Politics Healing a House Divided: An Interview with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
The Episcopal Café has published some highlights from the interview.

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Shifting questions, changing virtues

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Fear of Hell Fire

The catholicity and covenant blog responds to the Credible Bishops paper [see here].
Credible bishops or catholic episcopate?
Credible Bishops - a liberal Protestant understanding of episcopacy

To mark Christian Aid Week, the leaders of the three main political parties write exclusively for the Church Times on the importance of international development: A joint commitment to our neighbours overseas

David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK Bishops sans frontières
Frank Cranmer Law & Religion UK More on the objection to an episcopal election in the Anglican Church of Canada

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Andrew Lightbown's analysis is very thought-provoking:

"The bishops stated their beliefs (granted, not firmly enough for some) and synod said ‘no’"

To be plain, a mask of episcopal uniformity was pushed through to Synod, doubtless led by Justin who seeks to placate the global Anglican Communion, but actually, NO, the bishops' position was not uniformly held by all bishops. Indeed uniformity was an illusion, as I well know having corresponded with over 40 of them. Some bishops were excoriating in private about the attempt to impose such a conservative position on the Church. (Albeit, one or two conservative bishops felt the episcopacy was still being unacceptably liberal.)

Of course, one has to wonder why they only excoriate in private, but nevertheless some significant bishops do.

Synod, in declining to take note of the bishops' position, was not only declining to accept the content, but in practical terms calling time on the façade that the bishops themselves shared a single uniform view. As Andrew says, “A healthy spectrum of views and theologies exists in the House of Bishops.”

And as he wrote: "The cloak of uniformity has been synodically removed."

The thing is, we have to break down the illusion that the Church believes "this". The Church doesn't believe "this" or "that". It believes diverse things. There is no uniformity. Uniformity is an illusion.

To be honest... to be truth seekers... the Church needs to acknowledge this, not masquerade behind some 'three-line-whip' position where bishops are portrayed (and falsely presented) as holding some uniform politburo-style position on human sexuality.

On the ground, more and more Anglicans in the pews accept and endorse gay sexuality. Many of the clergy, who minister to their local churches and communities, seem to recognise this in the way they repudiated the bishops in synod.

I do wish Justin would move on from the 'Anglican Covenant' and 'Primates Statement' mentality: where you try to impose one conscientious view as a uniformity on the whole Church and the consciences of others. Andrew used the term 'cloak'. There is indeed a 'cloak' - epitomised by bishops who state their views in private but won't speak them publicly (apart from Buckingham and Bradwell - and one could add Maidstone on the conservative wing).

The synod vote 'unveiled' the semblance of uniformity. Meanwhile, in the pews, there is a de facto shift towards liberalisation anyway, reflecting societal magnanimity, experience, and solidarity.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 12:43pm BST

Archdruid Eileen is not the only one drawn by love and grace. I find it by reading the Bible. Especially in the parts that don't seem lovely and graceful but hell-fireish (if that's a word). We have a God that cares that much!

Posted by: Pam on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 1:00pm BST

Bishops sans frontiers...

If Jesmond (or at a later date, other conservative churches) can choose to sit under a self-chosen conservative bishop from South Africa (or elsewhere) and conscientiously adopt conservative theologies...

...then inclusive churches can also choose to sit under self-chosen bishops from the US, Canada, maybe Scotland in due course, and conscientiously adopt liberal theologies including celebrating lesbian and gay marriages...

...and this way lies the balkanisation of the Church of England.

Far better, for the Church of England itself to accept diversity of theologies and allow local churches and PCCs to follow their consciences, instead of top-down imposition of a fake uniformity for the whole Church that simply doesn't exist.

If churches like Jesmond can't then accept that same right of conscience across the diverse theologies in the Church of England, then welcome to being part of a South African church, and farewell with all God's blessing.

If conservative evangelical churches "want to stay in the Church of England" as some say they do, then they need to understand that this Church is diverse, and they can't impose their conservative views on everyone else.

If Justin allows Jesmond-under-REACH, then he can hardly not allow, say, St-Johns-Waterloo-under-TEC. In reality, why not just let each church follow its conscience, and serve its own community, instead of this top-down domination? The Church of England rejected the Anglican Covenant, didn't it? It didn't want top-down uniformity to be imposed. That's not the Church we are. We are far more diverse.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 1:08pm BST

Pam, may I just say how very much appreciate your comment.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 8:29pm BST

It seems to me that "we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church" rather selectively at times. Considering the Jesmond issue solely within the context of the Church of England, or parsing its legality, seems to me to be contrary to our creed. We recognise the Orders of REACH so clearly the creed is engaged. That might take us somewhere uncomfortable but, if we genuinely believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church we must accept this.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 8:43pm BST

What Susannah is proposing is not so very different from the original stand on remarrying divorced couples. It is far better that we accept that we have differences and respect each others opinions and stand together. This may well mean we all, laity and clergy, have to reach accommodations within parishes in the way that the URC have allowed for, to make sure no-one has to act against their own conscience. I would hope that a common sense arrangement based on a loving acceptance of our differences would be the model that a truly National church achieves.

Posted by: Lavinia Nelder on Saturday, 20 May 2017 at 9:03pm BST

I love ++Michael Curry!

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 21 May 2017 at 2:37am BST

Me too, Cynthia. He speaks so much sense - and out in the open!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 22 May 2017 at 3:23am BST

He's just as inspiring in person. Very authentic in walking the walk and inspiring others to follow in the Way of Jesus, too! Vast Biblical knowledge and a great repertoire of hymns and gospel songs that underscore the teaching. Being an African American from the US South, when he speaks of healing the divide, it's the voice of someone who lives it daily.

And he plays the violin. I note that CoE is full of woodwind and brass playing bishops and I'm sure that's part of the problem. ;-)

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 22 May 2017 at 5:10pm BST

I think that you are wrong about this, Kate. As the Church Times editorial correctly pointed out a week or two ago, what happened at Jesmond is about order in our church (by law established) and not about theology or doctrine. The fact that we (unwisely in my view) recognise REACH orders is neither here nor there. REACH bishops have no right whatever to swan in, without so much as a by your leave from the Ordinary, and consecrate someone holding a licence in the C of E.

Mr Pryke should have been suspended immediately, pending a fuller investigation. The fact that nothing whatsoever has happened, fully three weeks after the 'consecration', is disgraceful and craven.

It looks as if our Archbishops are hoping it will all blow over, so that they don't have to take action against their much-loved Evangelical friends.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 at 5:55pm BST

Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American Primate of The Episcopal Church of the U.S. (TEC), has a winsome way of reminding us all (as, himself, an example of radical inclusivity in the Church) of the will of Jesus that "All should be One, as I and the Father are One". Here is the most relevant part of his responses to questions:

" My house should be called a house of prayer for all people".

"And so how do we live that? How do we live that house of prayer for all people? Or to take it another step, how do we, as a community, take seriously when St. Paul in Galatians says all who have been baptized into Christ, and put on Christ, and there is no more Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ—how do we live into that? And so as I’ve said on other occasions, part of how we’ve lived into that is by recognizing in our community all who have been baptized, whether they’re gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat—you know, just roll out the list."

This Anglican Bishop makes me proud to be an Anglican in the Church of today!.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 at 1:29am BST

But if we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church, isn't REACH equally valid to the Church of England? Aren't their bishops equally entitled to decide who to ordain or consecrate? Can geography really make a difference?

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 26 May 2017 at 8:02pm BST

Re: Frank Cranmer and objections to the episcopal election in Canada, The Anglican Journal has just reported that, "The diocese of Caledonia has decided to accept last month’s ruling by the provincial House of Bishops to block the consecration of the Rev. Jake Worley as bishop, its administrator says." So Jake Morley is out. There will be a another election sometime before Halloween.

Just as a footnote, it is very very difficult to get news about Canadian Church politics in real time. Anglican Journal is the only source of news, and it tends to focus on human interest stories with a disinterest in hard news.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 3 June 2017 at 1:24am BST
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