Wednesday, 9 August 2017

CEEC committee writes about sexuality issues

The committee of the Church of England Evangelical Council has issued a letter to its constituency. The full text of the letter is reproduced below the fold.

There are references in it to some earlier documents. Here are links to those:

See also the coverage of this letter in Christian Today Evangelical bishop warns split may be necessary as he spearheads resistance to liberalising CofE

Tuesday, 08 August 2017

Dear DEF members and members of networks represented on CEEC

In February of this year (after the January CEEC meeting), Stephen Hofmeyr, CEEC Secretary, wrote to DEF Chairs and Secretaries (you can find the letter on our website) providing information on CEEC’s conversations around human sexuality and the challenges at that time. You will be aware that much water has gone under the bridge since then and we are therefore writing to offer update and comment.

The February letter was sent immediately after the House of Bishops report (GS2055) was published. It described how the Officers were “heartened to read that the House of Bishops is proposing no change to the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relations and that no liturgical prayers for same sex relationships, authorised or commended, should be produced”. Much work was done by evangelical bishops to secure this outcome and we are grateful for that and that this remains the Church’s official position.

We cannot, however, ignore the fact that since then this position has been under constant and serious attack. There have been several disappointing developments leading to widening and deepening concerns among evangelicals:

  • A small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod,
  • The Archbishops’ letter following this vote left many unclear as to what was meant by “radical Christian inclusion” and has led to many believing there has been not only a change in tone but a change in direction,
  • A number of bishops have openly signalled their support for changes in teaching and/or practice and the Bishop of Liverpool became a Patron of Liverpool Pride,
  • Behaviour and decisions at the July General Synod, including the rejection of good amendments tabled by evangelicals to the motions on conversion therapy and welcoming transgender people, have further heightened concerns,
  • The Scottish Episcopal Church has changed its marriage canon and now permits its clergy to preside at same-sex marriages.

Alongside these it is important to note a number of recent developments which have brought encouragement to many evangelicals around the country. These include the consecration of Andy Lines (who represents Crosslinks on CEEC) as a missionary bishop of ACNA, supported by GAFCON and many Global South Primates; the planned involvement of many evangelicals in the groups working on the House of Bishops Teaching Document, overseen by Bishop Christopher Cocksworth; and the call for a renewed orthodox Anglicanism gaining signatures online.

In the midst of this CEEC continues to endorse the theology of human sexuality and biblical authority offered in ‘Guarding the Deposit’ (GTD). We are also clear as a Council that these matters are not able to be treated as adiaphora but are of prime importance. We would encourage you to read and raise awareness of GTD (both the full text and a helpful two-page summary are on our website).

The developments of the last six months have also highlighted the prescience and importance of the second part of GTD in which a series of structural possibilities are explored. We thank God that the desired first option of maintaining current teaching and practice has, thankfully, not yet been formally rejected. However, there are many signs that the Church could reject it by embracing either the proposals of the Pilling Report or an even fuller acceptance that permanent, faithful same-sex relationships are a legitimate form of Christian discipleship.

CEEC Officers hear the call for a clearer and louder voice in support of the traditional teaching of the church on marriage and same sex relationships, not least from evangelical bishops. Without being able to be explicit, it is important to say that behind the scenes a number of initiatives are being planned, which hopefully will bring welcome reassurances and send clear messages to the evangelical constituency and the wider C of E and the even wider Anglican Communion.

More explicitly, the Council is working on two major areas. Firstly, we are seeking to help the Church of England to maintain and be confident in biblical teaching. We are positively exploring how we might contribute to the proposed Teaching Document being worked on. Furthermore, we are continuing to support and facilitate meetings in the dioceses/regions to encourage, teach and resource a biblical orthodoxy in matters of gender, identity and sexuality.

Secondly, and whilst we are committed to praying and working for a renewal of orthodox vision within the C of E, we are being realistic and thinking through what ‘’visible differentiation” might look like, should the Church depart from its current teaching, whether in law or in fact, and make such differentiation necessary. We are also aware of the need to continue to work together and support one another as evangelicals who, in different contexts, may, at times, be called to differentiate from the wider church to varying degrees and in different forms.

In both these areas we welcome any input from you.

In the face of recent developments in the Church of England it is important to remember and be encouraged by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide share both our positive vision and our concerns about Anglicanism in England and the wider British Isles. As evangelicals in the Church of England we seek to work with them and ask you to pray particularly for the Primates in advance of the Primates’ Meeting in early October and for those working to prepare for Lambeth 2020 and GAFCON 2018.

In recent turbulent months many of us have been struggling to read the signs of the times and hear what God is calling us to do. This looks like it will be our situation for some time to come. At various points we are likely to find ourselves saying, with Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”. As we keep our eyes on God, confident in his grace and power and truth, please pray for wisdom for all those in positions of leadership in the Communion, the Church of England, and among evangelicals, including those serving on CEEC:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:2-5).

Yours in His service
The Rt. Revd. Julian Henderson (CEEC President)
The Revd. Hugh Palmer (CEEC Chair)
The Revd. George Curry (CEEC Treasurer)
Stephen Hofmeyr (CEEC Secretary)

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Comments

"In recent turbulent months many of us have been struggling to read the signs of the times and hear what God is calling us to do" - CEEC Letter -

Th "signs of the times" in this instance and context seem to have been misread by the authors of this Letter to Evangelicals in the C. of E., many of whom are now beginning to discern the difficulty the Church is experiencing in maintaining the status quo in its lack of understanding of what it means to be a member of the LGBTI community in the Church.

While the majority of Church people are impatient with the Church's tardiness in coming to terms with the realities, the outside world is being lost to the influence of the Church, which seems so out of touch with the world it seeks to disciple.

The Letter's reference to the authors' approval of the 'ordination' of a GAFCON/ACNA appointed bishop - scheduled to undermine the eirenic authority of the Church of England on matters of gender and sexuality (as well as a balanced biblical interpretation of the same) - seems inimical to the alleged intention of the ABC and the ABY to welcome LGBTI people into the Church community.

What does this say about the loyalty of the CEEC to the broader mission of the Church of England? When will they be hopping off to join up with ACNA & GAFCON?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 6:13pm BST

The frequent - and almost indiscriminate - use of the word 'orthodox' by the dissenters amongst the CEEC leadership points to the mistaken ad nauseam understanding that Christian orthodoxy is more about sexual morality than it is about 1st order doctrine. If CEEC is going to use theological terms in its rejection of LGBTI people in the Church, then 'orthodoxy', per se, is the wrong word to use for its discriminatory attitude towards such people, their advocates, - ad nauseam -and their place in the Church

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 6:25pm BST

But Fr Ron isn't their position as articulated that this is sex is an issue of first order doctrine? Perhaps they need it to be in order to justify schism?

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 7:09pm BST

And few of them bat an eye lid about heterosexual divorce and indiscriminate re-marriage.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 7:42pm BST

Julian and colleagues: we are "thinking through what 'visible differentiation' might look like, should the Church depart from its current teaching, whether in law or in fact, and make such differentiation necessary."

If this statement means he is talking about maintaining a 'different' view of human sexuality, then that is fine, because we should accommodate diversity of conscience in the Church of England.

However, if this planning of 'differentiation' involves possible different structures of organisation, or different episcopal oversight unsanctioned by Church leadership, that is not okay.

In planning structural differentiation of organisation - potentially even a break off Church of England - such planning should include the Church as a whole. That does not seem to be happening. This seems to be an agenda that is not being undertaken at the invite or mandate of the Church.

In short, if Julian or Rod, or anyone else are planning 'fait accomplis' differentiation, in breach of obedience to Church hierarchy that they have sworn, and in defiance of leadership and General Synod... then it should be made clear to them that they are taking steps that can lead them out of the official Church of England, and out of its properties (most of which belong to the established national church and all future inheritors in this nation).

I think statements like Julian's are very much clerically-led. However, while Julian may speak for "some" evangelicals he does not speak for all. And further, I think that church parishioners should understand clearly (and in advance) that departure from the Church of England's structures means departure from its properties. Most Christians, including evangelical ones, have lifelong association with local service, much of which needs access to churches and halls. Is human sexuality - which most of the nation is not unduly stressed about - really an important enough issue to trigger distress and disruption, loss of property and facilities, and further alienation from local communities?

I respect Julian's right to conscientiously disagree with gay sex (and Rod's). But he still has the option of a 'negotiated settlement'... accepting 'unity in diversity' and a Church of England where he's free (with others) to hold 'differentiated' views, but where others are equally free to have *their* consciences respected over *their* differentiated views - which are gaining increasing traction in the Church of England, and which are also widely shared by the secular English nation.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 8:11pm BST

Unless Bishop Henderson and his friends are equally condemnatory of the many evangelicals (including clergy) who have divorced and remarried, this must rank as the highest level of hypocrisy. If sex is only acceptable in a relationship between one man and one woman for life, all who transgress this rule for whatever reason are equally culpable.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 9:08pm BST

It would be interesting to have a list of those whom these people consider to be 'evangelical bishops'. And how hey would define those who are committed to preaching the Gospel but dissent from their narrow views.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 9:13pm BST

'Guarding the Deposit' is clearly a planning document for possible schism. It is driven by a view of human sexuality that our Archbishops have failed to repudiate or contradict. Hence I've kept posing the same question to them: is gay sex actually wrong and sinful? In other words, if they *still* assert that 1. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman. 2. Sex outside marriage is sinful and wrong. Then 3. Gay sex is sinful and wrong because it can only, ever, happen outside of marriage.

On this basis, the archbishops still demand sexual celibacy from gay priests. In other words, their actions seem to reveal their beliefs.

These beliefs are strongly asserted in the following statements of 'Guarding the Deposit':

It states that the traditional Christian view is that all sexual practice outside (heterosexual) marriage, including homosexual practice, is sinful and contrary to God's will revealed in Scripture.

According to the apostles, therefore, Christian believers should practise sexual fidelity within marriage and sexual abstinence outside it.

It quotes CS Lewis: "Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence."

It claims New Testament mandate for assertions that same-sex relationships are a manifestation of disorder in human relationships; a form of behaviour, contrary to God's law; and an example of the sort of sexual immorality that will attract the eternal judgement of God.

It quotes the Higdon GS motion of 1987: "sexual intercourse... belongs properly within a permanent married relationship; and...homosexual genital acts are... to be met with a call to repentance."

It quotes Issues in Human Sexuality in 1991: "in our considered judgement the clergy cannot claim the liberty to enter into sexually active homophile relationships."

It quotes the Lambeth Conference of 1998 Resolution 1:10: which "upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage" and also rejects homosexual practice "as incompatible with Scripture", declaring that the Conference should not legitimise or bless "ordaining those involved in same gender unions."

Guarding the Deposit paints a picture of the 'position of the Church of England' and the status quo. But is it the position of church members or does the Church simply have diverse views?

So I repeat: Do the archbishops think gay sex is wrong? They refuse to say, but is that good enough?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 9:29pm BST

"...it is important to remember and be encouraged by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide share both our positive vision and our concerns about Anglicanism in England and the wider British Isles."

That may or may not be true - I would certainly like to see some evidence for this claim. However it ignores the concerns of the people of England who do not share this vision and would not see it as positive.

Posted by: Ann Reddecliffe on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 10:07pm BST

This evangelical - along with many, many others, no longer feels CEEC speaks for him. Endorsing schism is taken lightly but the fact that one evangelical bishop denies Chalcedonian orthodoxy is ignored.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 10:11pm BST

Before I got to the comments, I had yanked the key quote I was going to use, only to find Father Ron's keen eye had beaten me to it.

"In recent turbulent months many of us have been struggling to read the signs of the times and hear what God is calling us to do."

Which one can only assume was followed by something to the effect of "But then, as God's voice is hard to hear over the clangorous tumult of our own bigotry, we find it easier to just take the path of least resistance and just keep up with the hatred". I guess that word limits precluded its inclusion.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 10:33pm BST

Am I going completely mad, or is a serving Diocesan Bishop in the Church of England here describing the consecration of a schismatic Bishop in his own Church as bringing "encouragement"?

Posted by: David Beadle on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 12:48am BST

Don't these people realize that MPs will start asking why public funds should support a discriminatory institution that inflicts psychological harm?

Posted by: JeremyB on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 4:55am BST

If you decide to withdraw yourself and your congregation unilaterally from Church governance - without the consent of Synod - then you cannot expect to retain churches, halls, church facilities... which are the property of the established Church of England, under its Synodical oversight, and also an inheritance for all future generations of English worshippers, including gay and lesbian worshippers.

I totally respect right of conscience - the right to believe in faith that gay sex is wrong - and I believe the Church should legislate to frame and protect people who take that view. No-one should be compelled to marry a gay couple against their sincere belief. Equally, the conscience of people who *do* believe in gay and lesbian sex should also be protected and respected... and that isn't happening at the moment.

Evangelicals of Julian's slant insist that only their conscientious views should be allowed. But half the Church of England membership (or more) do not regard gay se as sin. And Julian can't dominate other people's consciences. He's demanding an unobtainable uniformity (just like the rejected Anglican Covenant was seeking to). That uniformity simply doesn't exist in the Church of England.

If Julian and his coterie of followers decide to unilaterally step outside Church of England structures, I think it is really important that parishioners understand clearly the implications of that. I believe, to concentrate minds, General Synod should clarify in advance the principle that if you withdraw yourself from Synodical and Church of England governance and organisation - as agreed by Synod - then you lose your church buildings, halls, facilities.

You can't start your own Church of England - in rebellion against your authorities, and unilaterally organised - and assume to stay in Church property.

Then ordinary local parishioners - rather than this priest-led group - need to decide whether they think sexual uniformity is sufficiently important an issue to unhouse them, to lose the facilities they have used for years for the elderly, the neighbourhood, etc. In short, whether they really want their church and community life uprooted.

The principles should be laid down in advance by Synod, in response to what looks like a schismatic mobilisation in the making.

No such contingency would be even necessary if conservatives were willing to negotiate a ‘freedom of conscience’ that recognised the Church’s diversity of views, and abandoned their intransigent demand for their way only.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 6:47am BST

Totally agree with you Charles. But where do the other evangelical voices counter and challenge this?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 7:04am BST

As far as I am aware is not technically correct to say that churches, vicarages etc are owned by the national Church of England.

Legally they are owned by the incumbent of the church:
https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/churchlawlegis/property.aspx

I am sure however that if a church decided to leave the formal structures the Diocese would be likely to mount a legal chalkenge.

Posted by: s_snowberry on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 7:42am BST

I am reminded of the comments of Abp Sentamu in April 2011:

n a television interview, Dr Sentamu was asked whether it was appropriate for the Prince, who is in line to become head of the Church of England as King, to have been living with his bride before marriage.

He said he had conducted wedding services for “many cohabiting couples” during his time as a vicar in south London.
“We are living at a time where some people, as my daughter used to say, they want to test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow,” he said. “For some people that’s where their journeys are.
“But what is important, actually, is not to simply look at the past because they are going to be standing in the Abbey taking these wonderful vows: 'for better for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; till death us do part.’”

Posted by: Kennedy Fraser on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 8:38am BST


The article closes out with, "We are to remain in the mother-ship...." What delicious unintentional irony. More ironic still is the fact that positions taken by socially conservative evangelicals so seldom contain any good news.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 8:48am BST

I was interested in David Runcorn's point. I wouldn't identify as evangelical but do think it is really important that other evangelical voices are heard so that a broad church is maintained and so that evangelical doesn't simply become short-hand for conservative and anti nay movement whatsoever on sexuality and specifically same sex relationships. The must be a mechanism to ensure that it is very clear that the likes of +Blackburn speak only for their own, relatively small, constituency. I was also interested in the critique of the passing of the motion re transgender people seeking affirmation as a proof of increasing liberalism. Didn't this motion come from the Blackburn diocese? Didn't +Blackburn vote in favour of it at synod?

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 9:32am BST

"I believe, to concentrate minds, General Synod should clarify in advance the principle that if you withdraw yourself from Synodical and Church of England governance and organisation - as agreed by Synod - then you lose your church buildings, halls, facilities."

I wonder how likely this is...

Posted by: crs on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 9:45am BST

I wonder if anyone has run the "Forms of differentiation" past any members of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament for comment?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 9:54am BST

Why is the presumption here that "visible differentiation" means conservatives stepping away from current CofE structures? Why not, rather, those agitating for change having a differentiated structure created for them? The assumption almost everywhere is that the 2020 teaching document will favour the 'affirming' side and nudge conservatives out; but, in light of the HoB Report following Shared Conversations, is that really as foregone as people are assuming?

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 10:38am BST

"As far as I am aware it is not technically correct to say that churches, vicarages etc are owned by the national Church of England. Legally they are owned by the incumbent of the church."

Not if the incumbents are removed from their posts.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 11:09am BST

""...it is important to remember and be encouraged by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Anglicans worldwide share both our positive vision and our concerns about Anglicanism in England and the wider British Isles."

That may or may not be true - I would certainly like to see some evidence for this claim. However it ignores the concerns of the people of England who do not share this vision and would not see it as positive."

Indeed. I may be true that the LEADERS of that overwhelming majority share those views, but there is no evidence that the people in the pews do.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 11:35am BST

David Runcorn makes an important point. It is important to note that CEEC have become less signifcant within the context of a much broader tradition of Evangelicalism. CEEC is much more conservative that its constituency. But my take on where the other evangelical voices are is that they are present within the structures of the Church of England. Evangelical bishops and archdeacons work day-in, day-out supporting evangelical (among other) ministers in their mission and service of the Gospel. They will naturally be an encouragement and a witness to a wider evangelicalism within dioceses. Of course, for some (especially those wedded to portenous press releases usually ending with a scriptural quote about endurance or steadfastness...let the reader understand) evangelical unity has always been more important than Anglican unity. What we are seeing is those voices once more trying to rally the troops and circle the wagons. But I think they misread their tradition and in the end the 'noble fellowship' of evangelical archbishops, bishops and archdeacons will offer more supportive, winsome and encouraging voices that will keep most, the large majority, within the broad Anglican family.

For some readers of TA there is a palpable desire to see the back of evangelicals within the Church of England. But (especially for US readers), Evangelicals in the Church of England are the majority, but the CEEC constituency is only a small portion of the whole. We cannot and must not allow the wider Evangelical constituency to feel pushed towards the CEEC position by our intolerance or frustration.

Posted by: Simon Butler on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 12:06pm BST

I'm struck by how the language used by the authors of the letter and GtD demonstrates their distance from the way most people think. Not just the major points aptly dealt with by other commenters, but the phrasing. In documents about human sexuality, to refer to 'visible differentiation' and 'guarding the deposit' will meet with sniggers.

Which is just as well, we don't want the people of England (and the rest of the Communion) to take this too seriously.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 12:19pm BST

@Susannah - have you actually read the CEEC report? Leaving the Church of England is, from their perspective, an unlikely last resort. Most of their suggestions involve the reorganisation of CofE precisely so that the diversity of views you speak of can be *genuinely* upheld and respected. What they don't want is an agreement of 'tolerance' that leaves one side at the mercy of the other's goodwill - you know, like other recent such agreements...

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 12:52pm BST

Is the Bishop of Blackburn a focus of unity?

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 1:08pm BST

'As far as I am aware is not technically correct to say that churches, vicarages etc are owned by the national Church of England. Legally they are owned by the incumbent of the church'

At any given time: ultimately it is the national church through the Diocese who own.

Incumbent ownership is notional and with a very limited legal definition of 'owned' i.e. owned for the purposes of his /her cure of souls. No vicar could sell his/her church building or vicarage. 'Ownership' really amounts to the incumbent having to be consulted /agreeing if any change to the building is proposed.

Most relevantly, if a person leaves the Church of England he/she ceases to be incumbent and thus loses even notional ownership of the buildings. No breakaway priests/ parishes would have a legal leg to stand on if they believe they can take the buildings with them.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 1:14pm BST

Thanks Andrew. There was time when the CEEC was the 'umbrella' which hosted the breadth of Anglican evangelicals. But a few years back it got taken over increasingly conservative voices (I think in part because 'broader' evos failed spot what was happening and stay involved enough). But it is one thing to say CEEC doesn't speak for all of us - but another to find a forum that is more open to genuine debate and engagement. For a while Fulcrum was one such space.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 2:54pm BST

Simon - I agree - I wrote my comments before I saw yours. I agree there is very honourable and creative engagement in the wider church at every level by evos. But I keep engaging with con evos concerns where I can because I do not want to let them claim words like 'Orthodox', 'biblical', 'faithful' as their own and no one else's.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 4:48pm BST

Not sure that Evangelicals are the majority if all parishes are taken into account as Simon Butler suggests. They may have the largest congregations in urban settings and it may well be that the majority of clergy nowadays are from an evangelical background but are they really the majority? In our deanery I would guess seven of the ten clergy would be happy to varying degrees owning the term evangelical (two of us would self describe as modern / liberal catholic) but would be very surprised if this applied to five eights of their congregations. Also, I worry that some of these terms are becoming increasingly vague in their usage.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 5:50pm BST

The Church of England may be moving into uncharted waters, not led by the Holy Spirit, but by those who believe their doctrinal view and its ecclesiological consequences are superior to the prevailing view. The talk on this thread about church properties is imported from TEC, where the issues have been litigated over for a long time now, with different outcomes in different states. In my diocese, St Albans, only one parish, to my knowledge, has declared UDI. They do not pay any Parish Share. Its quantum is immaterial to diocesan finances. They also therefore make no contribution to ministry support costs. They therefore pay their incumbent and curate themselves, although I don't know what the consequences for pensions are. They remain worshipping in their building. They remain a part of the CofE, if by gritted teeth. We regard them as still part of the CofE and the diocese. I won't venture into the area of canonical obedience, but I assume that in that context the status quo prevails. Hopefully they are confirming hoards of new believers and finding a bishop acceptable to them to do that. We happen not to be a diocese with many (if any) more parishes wanting to do this, although there may be a handful of incumbents who are in sympathy. I think this is Good Disagreement in action. Some dioceses might struggle financially if more than a handful of their parishes acted in this way, but I would be surprised if this was an existential threat to any diocese.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 10:20pm BST

Loved the phrase: "the fissipariousness of Evangelical conservatism". - Andrew Symes -

Surely, what Mr. Symes really means is that the Evangelical voice is by no means fully represented by the CEEC leadership - certainly not on the issue of LGBTI membership of the Church.

Mr.Symes' statement also betrays the FACT that the term 'Mainstream' for his brand of Anglicanism is quite oxymoronic; the ergonomic thrust being more of a 'Slipstream'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 10:34pm BST

I don't believe that the Bishop of Blackburn has voted in favour of the Blackburn Motion at any stage of the process, i.e. neither when it was passed in his own Diocesan Synod, nor in July 2017 when he voted in favour of the Land amendment, and after that was lost he abstained when the vote on the Blackburn Motion was taken.

Posted by: Christina Beardsley on Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 11:06pm BST

Anthony Archer said "The Church of England may be headed into uncharted waters, not led by the Holy Spirit", I assume that acceptance of gay and transgendered people as created and loved by God and treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else is what he considers to be "not led by the Holy Spirit". If he is saying this, it is hard to imagine that discrimination, exclusion, and hate are what the Spirit is calling for. What's worse is that he presumes to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit with special insight as to where the Spirit does or does not lead.

Posted by: Richard Grand on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 3:51am BST

"not led by the Holy Spirit" Well that confirms what I have been thinking for many a long year.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 8:36am BST

'Anthony Archer said "The Church of England may be headed into uncharted waters, not led by the Holy Spirit", I assume that acceptance of gay and transgendered people as created and loved by God and treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else is what he considers to be "not led by the Holy Spirit".'

Richard, I think that is the opposite of what Anthony believes.

I refer you to Anthony's very moving and honest writing in 'Journeys in Grace and Truth'. He relates how he came increasingly to realise that far LGBTI Christians, and their relationships (including their sexuality) were very much loved by God and capable of Spirit-led lives.

"The more I have got to know and count as friends Christians who identify as LGBTI the more I have been convinced that their sexual orientation is the way God created them. Moreover, He did not do it to make an example of them or to compel them to a life of forced abstinence... I long for a Church where all, with integrity, can embrace our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Christ."

The internet sometimes leads to misunderstanding, as it lacks the easy face-to-face body language and clarifying exchanges that help us discern what someone actually means. Anthony clearly believes, with Pilling, that the status quo (Higton, Lambeth 1998 etc) cannot hold. He pretty clearly believes that, as with slavery and women's issues, the Spirit is leading Christians to affirm gay and lesbian relationships. As he wrote:

"What conceivable harm is done by two people of the same sex entering into a relationship which they hope and pray will be lasting, covenanted and monogamous, in the same way as a couple of the opposite sex?"

We all travel journeys of faith, which may involve change. Anthony wrote about how his own views swung strongly in favour of affirming gay and lesbian sexual relationships. He is not alone. I opposed LGBT values in the Church. 25 years on...

I have transitioned. I am in a deeply caring lesbian relationship myself. I have known the blessings and grace of God all through these years, years laced with difficulty and both homophobia and transphobia. Some churches have frozen me out. Others have been warm and wonderfully loving. "You have sent Your Spirit," the psalmist writes, "to renew the face of the Earth." That begins with you and with me.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 10:28am BST

Anthony, when you said 'hoards of new believers', I think you probably meant 'hordes', but then perhaps not, since hoarding (of long-held positions, property etc.) is very apposite to what this thread is dealing with! A Freudian slip perhaps?

And I think Richard Grant has completely misinterpreted what Anthony was saying, but I'll leave Anthony to speak for himself.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 11:35am BST

Did not make myself myself clear @Richard Grand. And maybe to others. 'Not led by the Holy Spirit' was a jibe at those planning 'visible differentiation', and not the other way round!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 11:40am BST

Laurence Tibbet: there is already a guaranteed structure for "visible differentiation" to protect conservative evangelicals in the CofE: the Bishop of Maidstone. Given that the "flying Bishops" are there because of who they profess to share full communion with, rather than specific doctrines, conservative evangelicals are alone in the CofE in having the guarantee of a Bishop who agrees with - and pastors - congregations sharing their own theological views. And yet this letter makes no mention of +Maidstone, but instead to "encouragement" that Andy Lines has been (schismatically) consecrated Bishop. His consecration has been carried out in direct defiance and rejection of the canonical authority of the Bishops of the CofE, including +Blackburn!

Posted by: David Beadle on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 1:31pm BST

Dear Richard Grand, I think you have misunderstood Anthony Archer, which you will see if you read his chapter in the book "Journeys of Grace and Truth: Revisiting Scripture and Sexuality" edited by Jayne Ozanne. His comment I am sure applies to CEEC and any action they plan to take.
Susannah Clark: As always I have appreciated your posts. Thank you.

Posted by: Anne on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 2:29pm BST

If as Anthony Archer grandly proclaims the Church of England is not now lead by the Holy Spirit, then I suggest he places his statement at the feet of the two Archbishops.


The Holy Spirit goes and leads as I understand where it wills, and is not the posesion of any particular section of His church, be they Catholic or Evangelical.

Such absurd claims do the church no favours, and speaks rather of folk with their backs to the wall.

The people of England need to be guided and lead by folk who themselves are pen to the leading and working of the Holy Spirit in humility and love..

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by: Fr John E Harris-White on Friday, 11 August 2017 at 5:25pm BST

Invoking the 'apostolic legacy' to police who can or cannot exchange vows in the presence of God and family on occasional Saturday afternoons in July seems completely out of proportion to the faith as actually experienced when ordinary folk attend Church Sunday by Sunday. Relying on the Christian/pagan distinction in the time of the apostles to differentiate between a Christian and an LGBT identity nowadays is, I believe, a false and dangerous dichotomy, and a tragedy, post-1967.

Comments above refer to the involvement of MPs. They would be wary of any Measure from Synod implementing structural changes in the Church likely to inhibit LGBT parishioners/constituents. The new Parliament has a high number of gay MPs, and Tories eager to distance themselves from the social conservatism of the DUP. In any case, as we've seen in recent years, structural innovations benefiting conservatives have failed the synodical hurdle (e.g. the Anglican Covenant), so this latest proposal will, in all likelihood, fall by the wayside. But I suppose we'll hear a lot of clanging cymbals in the meantime!

Posted by: Andrew on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 12:12am BST

Thank you all for the clarifications. I am happy to find that I misread what was said. However, in Canada we have endured so much of the self-righteous talk about how the Spirit only sides with conservatives, not to mention the use of their favourite buzz words, such as. "Biblically faithful" and "orthodox", that it becomes the default assumption. At least I know that my posts are being read!

Posted by: Richard Grand on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 2:27am BST

@David Beadle: I don't think we can draw a straight line between the 5GP provision embodied in +Maidstone and what's being talked about here. It's a different issue and the Church of England has not come to a "clear consensus" from which a small group seek to dissent. Any "differentiation" will be drawn along different lines, and certainly won't be a purely conservative evangelical minority (as with the +Maidstone provision).

If the number of those wishing to maintain current teaching is large, then it's by no means obvious that they'll be splitting off as everyone here seems to be assuming. The CEEC document linked above reckons that a plausible outcome is for a third province to be created for "progressives". Is that outcome actually plausible?

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 9:32am BST

"...a third province to be created for "progressives". Is that outcome actually plausible?"

I agree. I assumed differentiation wasn't predicated on property issues, nor that the present teaching would end up being the outlier.

Posted by: crs on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 11:51am BST

Why would supporters of equality need a separate province? It's not they who keep trying to separate themselves from those who don't share their views. If the homophobic wing of the church find gays to be so abhorrent they can't stand to share a church with them then they have the choice to leave.

Posted by: Jo on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 12:29pm BST

The Church of Scotland's arrangement wasn't all that different in point of fact. Keep the traditional teaching. Then allow individual parishes to depart from it if they so wish.

Given that the CofE is Episcopal rather than Congregational, one way forward would be to create a differentiated province of like-minded progressives. This isn't a matter of abhorrence -- though use of the term is designed to trap -- but instead of allowing progressives scope to pursue their own way.

I am not necessarily in favour of this; one would have to understand the model in particulars. But it isn't altogether different than what the CofS did.

Posted by: crs on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 1:51pm BST

Is a beneficed clergyman's right to the parish property the same as ownership? They can't leave it to their heirs.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 2:50pm BST

@Jo - if the teaching and discipline of the Church remains the same and a formal division seems like the only way to go, why wouldn't it be the dissenting side that split? The number of conservatives/traditionalists who seriously intend to leave the CofE is small (if loud). Most want to stay and contribute to their Church, mindful that "visible differentiation" might be the only way move on from this perpetual disagreement. Note: again, visible differentiation does not mean leaving.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 4:23pm BST

@crs - that's a helpful way of understanding events in the CoS. I'd suspect though that the CEEC envisage a more visible and differentiated form of "visible differentiation" - the two wings would presumably have altogether separate structures, bishops, canons and liturgy to reflect their perspective and allow each to flourish on their own. That doesn't seem to be what has happened in Scotland, where the new marriage liturgy is available to every parish in the CoS.

What do you mean by, "I assumed differentiation wasn't predicated on property issues"?

Best.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 4:33pm BST

crs - there is no way 'progressives' in the Church of England are going to agree to be 'sidelined' into a so-called third province. Bear in mind, many if not most 'progressives' are willing to allow freedom of conscience for so-called 'conservative' priests to absent themselves from blessing/marrying LGBT+ couples. The intransigence seems greater on the 'conservative' side - because many claim this is a 'first order' issue and that gay affirmation can't even be allowed to exist in the Church at all. That conservative position is a dead-end street to schism, and entirely unworkable. The Church of England simply doesn't have the uniformity of conscience to consent to that outcome.

I suppose, if 'conservative' priests couldn't stomach recognising gay-affirming bishops, some kind of third province get-out clause could be considered for *them*, but to be honest, if 'opposing' parties can't simply agree to disagree, and co-exist, and love, and accept mutual right to conscience... then really, 'conservatives' will probably end up painting themselves into a narrower and narrower box. They can claim it is a big box, by referring to provinces that agree with them, but if the Church of England decides to accommodate gay blessing - as Scotland has, as TEC has, as Canada wants to, as New Zealand may... and that is the direction things are heading, reflecting the way England as a whole has gone... then if a (likely minority) of 'conservatives' object, then they are highly likely in the end to face a choice between (a) unity in diversity, and co-existence, with respect for differing consciences <<< those conservatives who see this as a salvation 'first order' issue will not accept this; (b) becoming a kind of 'conservative' Third Province - but this would need to afford LGBT access to their churches for marriage services by other priests; or (c)they rebel, and effectively leave the Church of England, at which point their incumbencies are null and void, permission to practise is withdrawn, and the church properties are retained under Church of England control.

Your idea that 'progressives' should be side-lined into a Third Province is wishful thinking. It's not even on the cards. Frankly, it is carnage looming, and grievous fracture - and 'unity in diversity’... respecting diverse consciences, and letting grace and love trump all… is the only sane option. Look at Scotland for an adult example of that.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 6:39pm BST

As a member of ACANZP, can I commend to your readers the Report of our Working Group on matters of humsn sexuality, which has just been published (see the relevant art. on T.A.), recommending to our diocesan synods and the upcoming General Synod a mechanism whereby both sides of the S/S Blessings argument can live together in peace, while yet preserving the freedom of individual conscience. This requires that both pro and anti people respect the right of one another to either respect or ignore provisions made for the Blessings of faithfully contracted S/S unions - without any attendant risk of incurring Church discipline as a direct result.

There were widely diverse interests represented on the Working Group panel; which rather suggests that the Holy Spirit might just have been moving their meetings to this eirenic outcome.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 7:25pm BST

Laurence Tibbet, I think this broadly the same issue, both in theory and in practice. The See of Maidstone has been established for those who believe in specific roles for men and women/males and females. It will never affirm gender transition or same-sex relationships. Those who want a structure within the Church that is guaranteed to reject such things can go under the pastoral care of +Maidstone. I don't understand what more they could want and expect for themselves while still within the structures of the CofE?

Posted by: David Beadle on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at 10:08pm BST

Janet Fife, once again you and I agree that some extremely churchy people are not considering their words very carefully.

But then if an author thinks that words can mean only that which is intended....

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 12:51am BST

@Tibbet

I meant that turning the topic into "conservatives wanting to leave with their property" misunderstood the actual dynamic.

Thanks for your clarification. As I said, the CofS arrangement had to look like it did given the congregational model. I was simply making the point that the traditional teaching remained in place in the CofS and a carve-out created for parishes. In a similar way, one could envision a province/s along the lines you describe it in the CofE.

Turning an episcopal church into a church of individual consciences is a polity built on wishful thinking, to quote another comment above.

Posted by: crs on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 7:00am BST

@David Beadle - +Maidstone is for the express purpose of providing for con-evo HoB resolution churches. There are, and will be, many who don't share the complementarian view of ministry that will nonetheless refuse to accept movement on sexuality issues. Of course +Maidstone is nothing to do with the solution from their point of view.

I suspect the problem here is an optimistic underestimation of the sheer number who will oppose change.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 7:58am BST

"Turning an episcopal church into a church of individual consciences is a polity built on wishful thinking"

Except, of course, that is exactly what happened in South Carolina.

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 12:11pm BST

Susannah said "crs - there is no way 'progressives' in the Church of England are going to agree to be 'sidelined' into a so-called third province."

True! After all, liberals have joined a church that they consider to be discriminatory and hateful! Why would they now forego a comfortable salary and a positions in the establishment just to avoid being hypocritical?

Posted by: RevDave on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 2:47pm BST

crs: It's not wishful thinking at all. It could be seen as the consummation of a servant episcopy, desiring and seeking to enable and liberate people at local level to live out their faith in their own good consciences.

What is wrong is the other extreme: when one group's conscience is imposed on another group's. In the context of the Church of England, the principle of agreeing to disagree is a respect for the right of conscience and different opinions. No-one should be forced into an artificial uniformity (what the Covenant was trying to do): we should be mature enough to say "Alright, we have diverse and different views on human sexuality, and each priest, each individual can act and serve in good conscience - but for so many other things... the desperate needs of people, in poverty, deprivation, old age, ill health... we'll seek huge love and grace and unity of purpose and servant spirit.

Just because a Church has historically called itself 'episcopal' does not mean some top-down, authoritarian hierarchy. Bishops, more than almost anyone, should pray to be invested with the spirit of servanthood. The Church should not be run like the 'kingdom of this world'.

We need to stop trying to dominate one another's consciences and beliefs, stop trying to impose uniformity where there is none, and instead try to give thanks for common ground over compassion, over mercy, over service, over the unseen acts of kindness each is called and invited to participate in day by day.

I'm a nurse. I'm a Christian. Some of my patients may be Christian, others may not. But when a patient is dying, honestly - along with relief from pain - what most people want is presence, a hand held, a stroke of the hair, kindness, somebody there. At that point, love and compassion is about everything it comes down to, and do you really think at that point they angst about whether the vicar down the road blesses some unseen gay couple or not?

Love is the greatest. We can find our unity in compassion. And in the compassion and healing of Christ. And where we differ, still love.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 2:51pm BST

Thank you, Laurence Tibbet, I see your point now. My confusion continues, however as to why a number of prominent conservative evangelicals - who do have this understanding of male headship ministry - have been prominent in the call for new structures, when they already have a bespoke structure.

Posted by: David Beadle on Sunday, 13 August 2017 at 10:47pm BST

'Susannah said "crs - there is no way 'progressives' in the Church of England are going to agree to be 'sidelined' into a so-called third province."

True! After all, liberals have joined a church that they consider to be discriminatory and hateful! Why would they now forego a comfortable salary and a positions in the establishment just to avoid being hypocritical?'

RevDave, one of the issues here - perhaps the main issue - is that we are a national, established church. At present the Church's official stance on issues of human sexuality is so far from what is generally accepted to be right and moral, that we have special exemptions in law from anti-discrimination legislation. This is difficult for a Church which is supposed to represent and serve the whole nation.

On this issue, it is the 'progressives' who represent the views of the English mainstream, the vast majority of whom don't have a vote on General Synod, or anywhere else in the church structures. And Parliament is on the side of the progressives too. If the conservatives were to become, or be seen to become, the main part of the Church while progressives were the third province, it would lead to fiendishly tricky complications in law and in mission. It might lead to the disestablishment of the C of E.

Which might not be a bad thing, but it needs to be considered before ewe find ourselves on that road.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Monday, 14 August 2017 at 10:07am BST

@David Beadle - for the obvious reason that the constituency wanting the doctrine of marriage upheld is far broader than the one served by +Maidstone. And that a complementarian flying bishop has nothing at all to do with preserving acceptable doctrine on the issue of sexuality.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Monday, 14 August 2017 at 10:21am BST

A CofE bishop who teaches male headship and female submission based upon a (historically heretical) doctrine of Subordinationism (the belief in the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father in the Trinity) surely has a great deal to do with acceptable doctrine on 'the issue of sexuality'?

Posted by: David Runcorn on Monday, 14 August 2017 at 6:19pm BST

Janet, the Church of England officially believes that there is a personal god who created the universe out of love. It believes that this God has specifically revealed himself in relationship to Israel, in the writings of its prophets, and in giving wise commandments for humans to live by. It believes that this God is not a generic, 'no-name' God but one who has most clearly revealed himself by becoming incarnate as a human being. It believes that Jesus is the unique Son of God, that he lived a life of moral perfection, performed miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught definitely in the name of God (part of his teaching including the rather unpopular words 'do not be like them...', the immediate context of which was the subject of prayer, but which could easily be applied to the whole Sermon on the Mount!). The C of E believes that his death on the Cross has somehow effected salvation for the world, and that he was bodily raised from the dead and is now Lord of all. All of this is clearly attested to in the Church of England's formularies.

I would suggest to you that if you're worried about the C of E being 'out of step with the English mainstream', you might have a lot more to worry about than same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Monday, 14 August 2017 at 7:05pm BST

Janet said "it is the 'progressives' who represent the views of the English mainstream"

Dear Janet, that is true but we are talking about the Church - not the BBC - and the Church is supposed to believe and follow Jesus, not current society's beliefs and behaviours.

You may be surprised to learn that the Church of England does not believe in "no fault" divorce and remarriage - Jesus said "... they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’" - so even Prince Charles and Camilla PB had to remarry in a Registry Office, they could not marry in church! And the CofE also opposes abortion and wants to see abortion severely restricted: "All human life, including life developing in the womb, is created by God in his own image and is, therefore, to be nurtured, supported and protected."

Just because our society has an amoral attitude to sex, divorce and abortion doesn't mean that it is right. Jesus called his 1st century society "a wicked and adulterous generation" - I wonder what He would call us!

Posted by: RevDave on Monday, 14 August 2017 at 8:28pm BST

There is something a bit Tertullianesque in what you say, RevDave: is it really true that mainstream society is indifferent to the issues you outline? I'd have thought that the constant agonised debate on these and other issues proved rather the opposite.

Seeing little or nothing of moral integrity in the community outside the Church is nothing new, I know, but does fly in the face of my experience of non-Christians. I don't think I've met many folk over the years rejoicing at having had an abortion, or delighted at the failure of their marriage, To dismiss modern society as amoral suggests a rose-tinted view of 'Christian England' (slavery, capital punishment, wife-beating, all devoutly supported, and with Scriptural citation).

The collision of the various theological tectonic plates continually causes upheaval and mountainous barriers and always has done. ('omoousios was rejected by conservatives on the grounds that it was not a Scriptural word.) There's a new mountain range forming between (to put it very crudely) those who see the the Spirit active only in the past or at best in a particular school of Christianity and those who see the Spirit also at work elsewhere and in the present. How can we keep in touch with one another across these new violently eruptive volcanoes?

I remember it being said a decade or so ago that ecclesiology, having been a Cinderella for a few centuries, would soon come into its own. Form the wildly incompatible views of what it is to be a faithful, servant Church held by the different sides in this debate, it looks like whoever said it was spot on.

My theological education ends with the death of Leo the Great, so I don't know anything at all about the Reformation, other than that apparently there was one (news travels slowly to Lincolnshire). Looking at how long it's taken us to find ways of speaking properly across that barrier, I'm not optimistic about our chances with this one.

Posted by: David Rowett on Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 5:36pm BST

And here was I thinking that generous provision had been made for traditional Catholics by the provision of three PEVs, plus other bishops holding similar views, and that generous provision had been made for conservative Evangelicals by the provision of +Maidstone. At this rate, we will each need our own 'flying bishop' because I am sure that we each hold to slightly different detailed interpretations of Scripture and doctrine.

I feel sure that +Maidstone is also opposed to a relaxation of the doctrine on marriage etc., so why can't he serve that wider constituency as well as the narrower headship one, instead of importing other schismatic bishops, ordained abroad?

A lot more give and take is required, and a lot less fastidiousness, or else we will cease to be a church at all, but just a collection of disparate believers.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 9:57pm BST

@ David Runcorn - I'm sure +Maidstone would be a part of any initiative for "visible differentiation". But the whole purpose of his episcopacy is to provide for those who are unable to receive the priestly ministry of women, while not being comfortable with placing themselves under the patronage of Wilfred and Hilda. A PCC signs a declaration on that basis (women's priestly ministry) and that basis alone. Male headship isn't a catch-all for every area in which con evos want to differentiate from progressives. Most sexual immorality has nothing to do with same-sex relationships or male headship.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 9:18am BST

@Malcolm Dixon - you wouldn't be able to make such a comment if you'd read the 'Guarding the Deposit' paper under discussion. The aim isn't at all to import bishops from abroad.

Posted by: Laurence Tibbet on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 9:20am BST

And yet here's an Evangelical who accepts and even embraces LGBTQ rights....

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/us/politics/politics-religion-liberal-william-barber.html?_r=0&smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

Posted by: Laurie Roberts on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 1:11pm BST

"...we will cease to be a church at all, but just a collection of disparate believers."

I suspect this is pretty much already the case.

The real question is what "church" means when it devolves down to individual consciences and Bishops are basically the insurers or managers of this.

Posted by: crs on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 5:40pm BST

In many ways the Church IS A collection of disparate believers isn't it? That's the way I read the Epistles and Gospels. What else is it? A guardian of the deposit? And who interprets that deposit 2000 years after the sketchy record we are left with? All this is of course the fascination of theology.

But Christopher's question about the 'real question is what "church" means when it devolves down to individual consciences and Bishops are basically the insurers or managers of this" intrigues me. I'm not sure what Christopher has in mind, and in conversation with him before I'm not sure he knows what he has in mind either. So I'd like a bit more clarity. It's abundantly clear that what happened in South Carolina was about individual consciences and about getting a bishop on board who would protect and manage those fragile consciences and get immunity from the people at TEC. But they are still a group of all too human, struggling, frail and disparate believers aren't they?

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 9:23am BST

Thank you, Laurence Tibbet. I will confess to only having read the 'helpful' summary of Guarding the Deposit, rather than the unexpurgated whole, but then there is only so much biblical certainty I can take. But even in the summary, I read in two of the postulated courses of action the mention of 'orthodox bishops' being available to provide episcopal oversight in place of those deemed to be unsound, and I cannot help but assume that amongst them would be one Andy Lines. Certainly the material published at the time of his consecration left little doubt that one of the areas in which he would exercise his 'missionary' function would be C of E parishes who felt that their appointed Ordinary was not orthodox enough.

Like David Beadle a week ago, I am incredulous to find that a diocesan bishop in the C of E has stated that he 'takes encouragement' from the consecration of Andy Lines in another church. Make no mistake - this is schismatic and it is deplorable. But will his Metropolitan take him to task over it? I doubt it.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 2:50pm BST

Dear Andrew Godsall,

When I address someone via a direct quote, in this case a Mr Malcolm Dixon, who referred to a distinction between a church and "a collection of disparate believers"; and then it transpires that you prefer the latter; it would make sense to take it up with the principal, in this case, the man who introduced the idea.

You don't need to keep hounding me. I have better things to do than chase down every objection that comes to your mind. It is beginning to feel a bit too personal.

Have a good evening. Seriously.

Posted by: crs on Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 6:04pm BST

Andrew Godsall - unlike crs, I did take it that you were referring your initial comment to me, and only later commenting on his comment. On reflection, I think that you are probably right.

The trouble is that CECC is clearly not prepared to tolerate that disparity of belief, particularly when it comes to really fundamental, faith determining issues like what people do with each other in bed! That is what rules out any settlement of this issue on the basis of conscience, where priests who wished to could marry same-sex couples, and priests who wished not to, didn't, as argued for eloquently by Susannah in this forum.

Is it any wonder that we are seen as irrelevant dinosaurs?

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 8:06pm BST

Christopher: please read the comments as they are written and not what you think is written. My comment about disparate believers is addressed to the debate and makes a general point about the nature of church. It has nothing in particular to do with anyone who raised the point or who referenced it afterwards.

I then responded to a point you made about individual consciences and asked for clarification, I'd still like clarification. That's not hounding. It's simply responding.

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 9:54pm BST

Glad your comment was actually directed to Mr Dixon...

“Individual conscience” is the language that has arisen as an alternative to and in strict opposition to the discretion of a Diocese or Bishop in respect of same sex marriage. Priests as individuals will still be able to exercise “individual conscience,” so one is reassured. We are speaking here about different understandings, one focusing on a Bishop and a Diocese and the other on individuals. To use the language in respect of the Diocese of SC, which acted as a diocese in defense of a diocesan understanding of its identity, makes no sense. To speak of EDSC under the rubric of “individual conscience” disrupts the context in which the language is functioning in respect of same sex marriage and individual—not diocesan—priestly conscience and discretion. The latter is what TEC progressives have insisted is the preferable path, not dioceses or Bishops, whether in South Carolina or South Dakota.

Posted by: crs on Friday, 18 August 2017 at 7:36am BST

Christopher: I'm not sure which bit of this sentence that I wrote is hard to understand:

"My comment about disparate believers is addressed to the debate and makes a general point about the nature of church. It has nothing in particular to do with anyone who raised the point or who referenced it afterwards."

So I did not 'direct [my comment] to Mr Dixon'. No comments were directed to any individual. Once again, maybe you can read what was actually written and not what you think was written.

I then asked for greater clarity from you but I'm afraid I'm not at all persuaded by your further comments about the breakaway diocese of South Carolina. Clergy and congregations in that diocese - individuals with tender consciences - didn't want to belong to TEC and the express reason for getting ML elected was, you have admitted elsewhere, to take them out of TEC. The court record makes it clear that ML was not in agreement with the direction that TEC was going with respect to same sex marriage. It went against his tender conscience - hence he was only too glad to lead the exodus. It's all about individual conscience.

And CEEC are only the latest in a line in the C of E. There is SSHSW. The ordinariate. Flying bishops. Resolutions. It's all bonkers and most people gave this stuff up in the school playground and grew up. And as Malcolm Dixon says earlier "Is it any wonder that we are seen as irrelevant dinosaurs"

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Friday, 18 August 2017 at 9:24am BST

Crs, so if I understand you rightly then we have a terrible confusion in this idea that a Diocesan Bishop can be appointed to satisfy a particular party. This way of circumnavigating the sense that believers in the church are following their own category of private judgement, by creating a diocesan for them, is a confusion of what a Diocese and Diocesan is all about. Anglicans have traditionally tolerated their Bishops erring from their own diverse understandings of the controversies of the day, and it is this (not that their Bishop agrees with them) that makes the Bishop a focus of union.

As the Rev'd Julian Holywell points out in today's Trumpet, perhaps those for whom Rod Thomas does not hold the right flavour of gendered theology might look to the CofE's LGBT+ faithful. We have long lived under the authority of Bishops who generally disagree with us on the matter of our very place in the Church of Christ, some of whom have been less than exemplary themselves in modelling in their own lives those things for which they condemn us.

Posted by: David Beadle on Friday, 18 August 2017 at 12:03pm BST

"I did take it that you were referring your initial comment to me" -- Mr Dixon.

"So I did not 'direct [my comment] to Mr Dixon'." AG.

Take it up with him, please.

"Disparate believers" was never my language but yours.

As I thought I clarified, to no avail, the discussion about "individual conscience" had to do with proponents of ss marriage wanting dioceses to get out of the way of individual priestly discretion.

The EDSC fought TEC as a Diocese.

"There, I've said it again" to quote a sixties hit. Bon Weekend.

Posted by: crs on Friday, 18 August 2017 at 1:37pm BST

David Rowett said: "There is something a bit Tertullianesque in what you say, RevDave: is it really true that mainstream society is indifferent to the issues you outline? I'd have thought that the constant agonised debate on these and other issues proved rather the opposite. Seeing little or nothing of moral integrity in the community outside the Church is nothing new, I know, but does fly in the face of my experience of non-Christians."

David, I didn't say that current society is indifferent to issues of sex, divorce and abortion but *amoral*; and didnt say that our society has no moral integrity either. Our society sees behavioural questions to do with sex, divorce and abortion not in terms of "good and bad" but as issues requiring practical solutions. Indeed, questions of whether they are right and wrong are brushed aside by simplistic arguments along the lines that: "what is wrong is to question someone else's choices.. and it's wrong to try to make people feel guilty."

The trouble is that, if you believe that our Scriptures are the word of God (properly understand in their original context and then interpreted into ours when the context is substantially different) then God condemns all three as wicked: Jesus condemns sexual immorality (not just adultery) and teaches the divorce and remarriage always involve adultery, and YHWH condemned previous Canaanite cultures for (among other evils) killing their children.

Posted by: RevDave on Friday, 18 August 2017 at 4:55pm BST

Hmm...I think another 60s hit is more relevant here Christopher:

I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Saturday, 19 August 2017 at 11:12am BST

vi-V-I-vi-V-IV-I-V-I

(Chords to the this quoted portion of The Boxer, for those with guitars or pianos near by).

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 21 August 2017 at 1:26am BST
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