Comments: London DEF complains about Robinson

Seems a bit daft to moan to +Richard given the extremely severe restrictions he seems to have already laid down. He can hardly be reasonably expected to tell a church in his diocese that they cannot even hold a particular event there.

Posted by Sean at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 11:47am BST

She is quite right: the fact that the event takes place in a church, let alone one as internationally well-known, will signal to people around the world that the Church of England and the Diocese of London are in favour of all that Gene Robinson stands for.

The decision to permit it in St Martin's is provocative and a challenge to Evangelical Christians in England.

It should be a secular venue if it is to happen at all.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 1:03pm BST

Please to be explaining how meeting someone you consider to be "in sin" is somehow "eroding the authority of Scripture". Last time I checked, the Bible had some good hints on how to deal with folks you see doing something wrong - and relying on 3rd-party opinions and refusing to meet them in person ain't it!

Posted by Tim at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 1:13pm BST

Alan,

Not to mention provocative to Anglo-Catholics.

Posted by albion at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 2:22pm BST

Interesting comments, Alan. Since I'd like to come visit the UK someday, and being an Episcopalian, possibly attend a CoE parish - please let me know what sort of purity test I'd be required to pass before being allowed in the door. After all, I wouldn't want this ol' sinner being too "provocative."

Posted by David Huff at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 3:11pm BST

Interesting analysis, David. Are you a partnered gay bishop by any chance?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 4:49pm BST

How can the London DEF think that their proposal is "according people freedom of speech"?

Throwing people out, locking the door and then "according people freedom of speech”?

And "the Catholic Creeds"?

Exactly how is this a "flouting of the agreed statement (Lambeth 1:10)"?

Where in Lambeth 1998 1:10 does it say that Bishop Robinson is not allowed to speak in Saint Martin in the Fields?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 5:01pm BST

Sorry, but the event doesn't "provoke" this Anglo-Catholic. Speak for yourself, albion.

Posted by John D at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 5:19pm BST

Well, it isn't provocative to liberals and progressives. On those grounds, can we ban all evangelicals from all Anglican churches as I think their theology is offensive.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 5:39pm BST

The anglo-catholics can speak for themselves - but they have been very quiet so far about this particular question.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 6:35pm BST

Alan commented, "Interesting analysis, David. Are you a partnered gay bishop by any chance?"

Nope, a boringly straight, married, middle-aged guy. But I'm a sinner, and unrepentant at times I'm sure (being one of those human beings and such). After all, that's why we ask forgiveness from sins "both known and unknown" every Sunday.

I asked because your comments about Bp. Robinson's visit seem to indicate that your church categorizes "sinners"* into those fit to enter the building and those who are not. Just wanted to make sure I understood what the standards are before *I* attempt a visit.

*Note: I don't, in fact, consider +Robinson a sinner simply because he's a partnered gay man. But the specifics don't matter. We're all children of God and we all fall short some way or another - me, +Robinson, even my brother Alan (I assume :)

Posted by David Huff at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 8:40pm BST

I'm still unclear how this dodges a charge of Donatism. I mean, that for people, who supposedly place so much import on the Articles, they seem to like to skip out on XXVI, not to mention XV.

Posted by FriarJohn at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 9:17pm BST

*sigh*

Let's not do the whole Donatism thing again. As I pointed out in a letter to Church Times over a year ago, Donatists are those who refuse to let *repentant sinners* back into the ekklesia. As those engaging in homosexual activity do not even recognise that they are sinners, let alone have repented, the Donatist charge is nichts. Even Giles Fraser seems to recognise that, as he never corrected or responded to the criticism of his original Church Times column making the same claim.

Posted by Peter Ould at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 9:47pm BST

Peter, I disagree. You are placing a qualifier on the matter that was not applied at the time, since many of the people who were being attacked felt that they had not sinned by pretending to go along with the authorities. And you skipped out on the Article, which is a full-fledged voicing of the matter, completely. By trying to cleave to tightly to the, presumed, historical events you miss the wider, and messier, doctrinal outcome which was “Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.” This is a matter of latter day Donatism, whether you like it or not.

Posted by FriarJohn at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:02pm BST

David, I am glad to know that you are not a partnered gay bishop.

The difference between visiting London as a fellow-sinner, and as a bishop advocating the blessing and consecration of sin, is what makes GR profoundly unwelcome, and his use of a church controversial.

The specifics do matter - that is why GR has been invited by this campaign group.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:04pm BST

Thats because we are not 'sinners' for that reason, Peter. I have absolutely no intention of ever repenting for something I believe to be good, right and an intrinsic part of my personhood, made in God's image.

I don't know how you and your colleagues at Anglican Extreme are going to handle that, other than attempting to force us out of the Church. Otherwise, you'll just have to live with our presence.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:06pm BST

1. +Robinson is not presiding at a Eucharist during his visit to London.

2. +Robinson is not preaching at a service.

3. Changing Attitude (somehow the inverted commas in the DEF's letter seem to be implying something, but maybe that's just me) is a recognized organization within the Church of England.

So why the heck ought they *not to be meeting in a Church?

Posted by Oriscus at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:06pm BST

Alan commented: "The difference between visiting London as a fellow-sinner, and as a bishop advocating the blessing and consecration of sin, is what makes GR profoundly unwelcome"

Uh, no. Bp. Robinson doesn't advocate "the blessing and consecration of sin," as he (and I, for that matter) don't consider what he's doing as being sinful. You disagree, obviously.

This is a point that gets made all the time by "conservatives" which is really getting under my skin. We are being thoughtful and faithful Christians to the best of our ability. We are NOT intentionally advocating "sinful behavior" simply to be obnoxious or perverse - and to imply that we are is horribly insulting and disrespectful.

We disagree, that's clear. Let's take all the time we need to clear this up (if we ever can). But in a *respectful* manner, please. However, it is not your place to judge the genuineness or depth of someone else's faith. That is left to God alone.

BTW, on a side note, the fact that someone you consider a sinner is "profoundly unwelcome" in your church is, well..."profoundly" disturbing to me.

And to be sure that I'm staying on topic here, I'll comment that +Robinson certainly displays great patience and courage to visit a place where he might encounter such harshly abusive censure (not that he can't find that in a small, but vocal, minority of parishes right here at home)

Posted by David Huff at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:39pm BST

Unwelcome to you, Alan. Not to me, though. If you don't like it - don't go. After all, there are many parts of the CofE and even more so in the AC which are little better than superstitious cults and if they visited here, I simply wouldn't go to hear them.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 11:11pm BST

Throughout this entire controversy, the argument has been that the Diocese of New Hampshire elected him, he is that diocese's bishop and no one else has the right to comment or interfere. Why is it, then, that Bishop Robinson feels the need to take his show on the road (and across the seas) to become the face for and voice of non-celibate homosexual Anglicans? Surely he has enough to do within his own diocese, serving ALL of the people who elected him.

Perhaps that ruse they want everyone to believe about the will of the diocese and autonomy is giving way. They gave Robinson his platform and calling card so he is using it. Now he's trying to make a statement in England, too. Lovely.

Patience and courage? Bah! He's representing the movement that got him elected and has stood by him so he can call attention to their issues. He's either a general or a pawn in the gay rights movement and certainly not one of Christ's true shepherds. As an activist, his talk should be held in a social hall.

Posted by Julia at Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 11:35pm BST

Let me try again, David.

It is not the fact that GR is a sinner which makes him unwelcome - the church is composed 100% of sinners - but the fact that he personally represents, campaigns for and promotes activity which the Bible categorically rejects as sinful, in the understanding of most Christians.

There is no need to rehearse the arguments, and of course you disagree that such things are sinful - but his visit remains controversial, his attendance as a robed bishop at a demonstration in St Martin's will be seen as a defiant act of disobedience to scripture, and his continuing ministry in NH will serve only to force a final division among Anglicans.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 12:36am BST

Oriscus speaks of Changing Attitude as "a recognized organization within the Church of England" but it would be more accurate to say that its existence is acknowledged by the Church of England, which does not accord it any official status, recognition or approval.

Its stated aims run completely contrary to what most English Anglicans believe, and if there were to be a vote by the General Synod on recognition it would be heavily defeated.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 12:43am BST

'Disobedience to scripture' ??? You can't disobey text, inspired or not. You read text, interpret it and apply in the way that interpretation leads you to according to your faculties of reason, conscience and faith and under the advice and guidance of others, tradition and the Holy Spirit.

I strive to find the will of God in Christ through various means, scripture being one of them. I seek to obey Christ in that I submit my will to HIM and ask that his will be done in me and through me and to forgive me where I might fail. I don't pray to the Bible and ask it to guide me, or to forgive me.

I am not a slave to the laws of ancient Israel, nor the teachings of Paul. I am a Christian. +Gene Robinson says he is a Christian and the people who know him well have entrusted him with the office of Bishop and consecrated him as such.

He professes the core doctrines of the faith and with all this in mind, I have no right to question either his faith or his vocation.

He has every right to meet with and support brothers and sisters in Christ, where ever they might be - his own diocese or abroad, and share fellowship with them in their church buildings. That they may be of a different mind to me, or may be living out their own personal Christian calling in a way that is at varience to how I feel is appropriate, gives me no right to bar them from such fellowship and worship or using whatever buildings they choose. I need to be getting on with my own life and Christian calling and furthering my vision through positive action through the proper channels with humility and compassion.

'certainly not one of Christ's true shepherds'

I can never get over the way 'reasserters' tend to proclaim, with certainty, the mind and heart of God in relation to other people.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 12:07pm BST

"He's representing the movement that got him elected and has stood by him so he can call attention to their issues. He's either a general or a pawn in the gay rights movement and certainly not one of Christ's true shepherds. As an activist, his talk should be held in a social hall."

"if there were to be a vote by the General Synod on recognition it would be heavily defeated."

Now, we do not only pretend to know that Bishop Robinson is not a "real" Bishop - we are also descending into tea leaves.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 2:10pm BST

Let's hope that there will be a final division among Anglicans, for it is the only way these endless arguments will ever cease.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 4:11pm BST

Julia wrote: "Why is it, then, that Bishop Robinson feels the need to take his show on the road (and across the seas) to become the face for and voice of non-celibate homosexual Anglicans? Surely he has enough to do within his own diocese, serving ALL of the people who elected him."

I will not get into the implied question of whether or not Bishop Robinson has some agenda behind his dialogue with other Anglicans outside the shores of the US, or even outside the borders of New Hampshire, though I doubt that. It does seem, however, that anyone firm in their own faith should not feel threatened by dialogue.

However, I do want to address what I feel is the sheer hypocrisy of some who would disdain the Bishop's "interference," when they have either failed to criticize (or, in some cases, even encouraged) Southeast Asia and Rwanda for consecrating Bishops from dissident parishes in the Episcopal Church, in total violation of provincial autonomy.

If Bishop Robinson, instead of engaging in dialogue in London, was part of a group of non-Rwandan and non-Southeast Asian Bishops who were consecrating, as Bishop, a priest from either Rwanda or Singapore, and sending that new Bishop back to his home country, then I could join in the criticism.

If Rwanda, or Southeast Asia, or Nigeria for that matter, want to engage in dialogue, whether in England or in America, that should be fine, but interfering in the prerogatives of another Province is an entirely different matter.

Bishop Robinson, as far as I have read, will be engaging in dialogue, not interfering in CofE prerogatives.

At least let's get some intellectual honesty, and evenhandedness, into our own dialogue.

Posted by Gerard Hannon at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 5:09pm BST

Alan:

Thanks for your thoughtful, Biblical and well-informed comments. Sheeesh! I wish this split could go a little bit faster--dragging things out only leads to more acrimony, as the exchanges on every topic makes clear.

Steven

Posted by steven at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 5:14pm BST

Augustus, the argument is truly lost and unChristian when it resorts to an argument of rights:
"He has every right....."
"....gives me no right to...."
cf the true Christian attitude to rights in Philippians 2, 5-11

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 5:44pm BST

"You read text, interpret it and apply in the way that interpretation leads you to according to your faculties of reason, conscience and faith and under the advice and guidance of others, tradition and the Holy Spirit"

No, Augustus Meriwether, YOU may go about it in that purely subjective way, tossed about by the spirit of the age and misled by your own preconceptions, but for most Christians the meaning and authority of scripture is perfectly clear: it is objective both within the text, and within the consensus of world Christianity, from which liberal Anglicanism is fast excluding itself in every way it can.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 5:55pm BST

Neil
You mean verses 1 to 5.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 6:52pm BST

O dear, o dear.

Dr Hooker would not have approved.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 8:30pm BST

Which is to its credit, Alan

But Steven is right. We have to split - and in an amicable and respectful way. The longer this goes on, the less chance of that happening.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 9:56pm BST

This is another one of those "Lord have mercy!" threads. :-(

[NB to Alan--- you have "the Bible categorically", I have "purely subjective": got it. Now, if only it were *heavenly choirs* informing me of this distinction, rather than a few Alan-typed bits & bytes...]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 10:24pm BST

Neil, I think you are confusing the positive attribution of rights with the negative absence of rights. I was clearly saying that Julia had NO right to publically slander a Bishop of the Church in this way without an investigation into his whole ministry through the proper processes. Saying someone has NO right to do such a thing is perfectly in consonance with Phil 2:5-11. To imply the mere mention of the word 'rights' in a Christian context nullifies any associated argument is bewilderingly odd.

Is it that 'reasserter' reactions against liberal arguments have become so reflex, so automatic, that the mere mention of a word such as 'rights' makes them blind to what people are actually saying and respond with some mantra about 'we have no rights under God' or something.

Your post also carries the clear implication that it is not 'truly' Christian to fight for the rights of oppressed people, such as blacks in aparthied South Africa. I'd have to disagree with that implication and your wider 'de-Christianizing' of the concept of 'rights'.

Alan, thanks for the astonishing revelation that you don't "read [the Bible] text, interpret it and apply in the way that interpretation leads you to according to your faculties of reason, conscience and faith and under the advice and guidance of others, tradition and the Holy Spirit"

I am honestly unaware that there is any other way to approach scripture as a Christian. Exactly which part of the above do you not do? Please tell me which bit is 'wrong' and what I should be doing. I'm worried that I'm missing something. All this talk of objective/subjective is meaningless if we can't tie down exactly what is done and what isn't done in the approach to scripture.

Preconceptions? Hmm. Tough one for anyone to claim they are free of, don't you think? I think 'reason' as mentioned above, is one of the best ways to try to dismantle preconceptions, so it surely can't be that which you disagree with. And which part of the quoted process subjects me to being tossed about by the spirit of the age? The spirit of the age, it seems, if your assertion of a consensus of world Christianity is correct, is neo-puritanism.

I do 'feel' tossed about by it, quite mangled actually.

As might Bishop Gene Robinson at the moment. In all this talk about 'messages being sent out' and 'gestures' being made, we have a lot of people making one man feeling very unwelcome and publically declaring he is a 'false teacher' - which is the direct implication of 'not one of Christ's TRUE shepherds'. It has the flavour of a public lynching. This whole hoo-ha about it just seems, FEELS, nasty, petty and vindictive.

But then, people's 'feelings' are subjective and so don't matter. Do they?

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 3:28am BST

Augustus, I can't think of many significant historical documents which people feel free to treat as a pick-and-mix counter from which they choose the sweets which appeal to them, let alone a system of doctrine or law. Are Americans permitted to choose which parts of the Constitution they will obey and which taxes they will pay? Is the Nicene Creed a menu on which Christians tick the boxes they agree with?

Simply because someone says "I am a Christian" does not mean that they have understood the implications of that statement, let alone qualified to be a teacher of the Christian faith, let alone does it make them suitable to be a bishop.

I have not seen any reported statement of GR concerning the Nicene Creed, but if he were to deny - as Spong and others have publicly done so - various articles of the Creed, presumably you would say that he is perfectly entitled to do so, because that is his opinion - or his feelings?

I ask this because the bible is entirely consistent in its teaching about certain forms of sexual activity, but you seem to be claiming that every Christian's interpretation of the scriptures, however undemonstrable, is equally valid.

That way lie fundamentalism and anarchy.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 10:25am BST

Augustus Meriwether asks an interesting question and expresses his own feelings rather well.
In being declared a "false teacher" Gene is not (for once) alone, rather he joins a fairly select club which includes the Archbishop of Canterbury.
A couple of the organisations now masquerading as "Anglican Mainstream" elected Rowan to this office when he refused to publicly recant his published views on homosexuality. I continue to be amused and amazed that anyone in the Church of England still takes this group seriously after that.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 3:47pm BST

Merseymike:

Unfortunately, there is a seeming "catch-22" in all matters of this type: The two sides are only willing to admit the necessity and inevitability of a split when the level of animousity has risen to such a pitch that an amicable, godly, and fair split is impossible. I would hope that, both sides being ostensibly comprised of Christians, this would not be the case. However, so far I see no sign that this will be true.

JC:

If the scriptures and a coupla thousand years of church history are not enough to inform you of what constitutes "objective" truth in this matter, Alan surely won't be able to convince you.

PS-As to heavenly choirs informing you--Hmmm, I guess that depends on whether you've passed from the purgative into the illuminative or unitive stages of spiritual development. I'll take a pass on that.

PPS-Are you still insisting that the two sides try to patch things up and stay together? As I have previously pointed out, Spong and Akinola (and their theological kindred) really don't belong in the same communion. Diversity can only go so far--after a while, the center simply cannot hold. This happens when one or both sides come to understand that what they consider to be essentials of the faith are being (or must be for continued union) compromised. We have come to that point.

Steven

Posted by steven at Thursday, 27 October 2005 at 4:04pm BST

Steven ; as you know, I agree with you, and I have diametrically opposite views.

Why is it that so many still seem to hope that a compromise or consensus can or will be found? Surely it would be a unity based purely on expediency?

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 12:41am BST

See, this is why I think we are always talking at cross purposes...

In response to me asking you what I am doing wrong, exactly, in "reading [the Bible] text, interpreting it and applying in the way that interpretation leads me to according to your faculties of reason, conscience and faith and under the advice and guidance of others, tradition and the Holy Spirit"

You say I am "treating it as a pick-and-mix counter from which you choose the sweets which appeal to you" (you don't direct it at me, but I assume that I was included in this as I asked the question).

That is not an answer to my question. It is a vague stereotype that has no meaning unless you are able to identify exactly how the process described in my question can result in the characterisation described in your response. Which bits of the process do you not do, that I do, and is wrong? I honestly need to know. It's not helpful at all to imply to your Christian brother, 'you don't understand the implications of Christianity and so you may not be actually a Christian', without explaining EXACTLY what he is doing wrong, and guiding him, PRECISELY, towards correction.

It is not my place to say whether another person is or is not Christian if they say they believe in Christ (because I am not God); nor, if they have gone through all the education, training, assesment, and all other due processes administered by their Christian brothers and sisters and been consecrated as a bishop, is it my place (because I am not God, nor do I have enough insight into GR's wider ministry and teaching, nor do I have ecclesiastical authority to decide these matters, nor is it fair or ethical) to publically say he is 'not one of Christ's true shepherds', ie his consecration is ineffectual, his authority and office ought not be recognised, he is a false teacher.

To bring your references down to basics, Alan, the American constitution is not a poem. So people don't treat it like a poem. The written tax laws are not an article in a newspaper.

You are making a personal assessment - an interpretation - when you approach the American constitution, the tax laws, an email, the Bible or an old leaflet blown along the street, and decide how to understand it. Nobody else makes that interpretation for you. You are opting to choose from an array of PRECONCEIVED assumptions as to the nature of whatever document you are approaching.

The NIV Bible did not get carried out of the clouds by a flight of angels and personally handed to YOU with God in tow who said 'This is a rule book, follow it to the letter or you will go to hell'. Did he? So you have had to make some interpretation of your own.

My interpretation is dismissed as 'pick-and-mix', your interpretation is elevated to 'TRUTH: truth for you, truth for me, truth for all time.

If anyone, such as Bishop Gene Robinson, varies slightly from YOUR or Julia's truth, he is publically defamed as a 'false teacher' and you seek to bar him from worshipping and fellowshipping in church with fellow Christians who also happen not to revere your personal TRUTH.

I'm uncomfortable with that.

(and before anyone goes on about numbers, majority rule does not equate with 'truth')

Re your last three paragraphs:
If I was truly concerned about my bishop's suitablility for the office, whether that be because of credal, behavioural issues or both, I would be making representations to the relevent authorities and people about those concerns, not defaming him across the internet or seeking to restrict his movements, associations or access to church property.

I think you are deliberately trying to muddle up what I am saying regarding feelings. I was saying can we please try to remember we are talking about a person here and not a devil or a monster who has no feelings. You may not acknowledge his rights, but I do. I believe he has a right not to be bullied and slandered and harassed.

That is a point, I think, we shall have to agree to differ on, because, according to Neil, I've just nullified the debate by mentioning 'rights'. eek!

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 3:28am BST

steven (how many stevens are there on this board? I'm not quite sure I'm clear whom I'm addressing anymore! ;-/), it is through "scriptures and a coupla thousand years of church history" that lil' ol' subjective me has been embraced *by* Truth!

PS: I'll take a pass on your pass, too. (?)

PPS: I have faith in *God* to "patch things up" between and among us all (in God's Good Time). We ARE "together", for as long as anyone will have me (and in this case, the parish/diocese/national-church to which I belong). It's not in my hands . . . but, FWIW, I'm not leaving/excommunicating *anybody*.

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 3:36am BST

Augustus,
I think we have here the nub of it all: your analogy between the bible and a poem.
Leaving aside the fact that even poetry must contain at least some recogisable core of meaning in order to make it accessible to readers, there is a world of difference between the bible and a poem.
It is a religious text, which contains law, old and new covenants, and embodies the faith of Jewish and Christians believers over roughly a thousand years before being compiled by the Church and declared to be canonical.
Like the creeds which followed, it was not intended to be a menu from which one picks and chooses. It was and is understood by the Church to represent the word of God, whose law and gospel are not negotiable.
Take the Decalogue, for instance. You would surely not suggest that we are free to accept or reject the commandments as we see fit (under whatever kind of guidance we might claim)?
It is not MY personal subjective truth, but the biblical teaching which the Christian community has always accepted as authoritative. You or I can choose to opt out from that community and insist on our own, personal, subjective truth, but we are no longer part of the catholic church if we do so.
The same applies to a Christian minister. There are standards of personal life and morality set out in the bible for all Christians, and for bishops in particular. Just because the electors of NH voted according to the constitution and canons of ECUSA to elect GR does not mean that they can overturn those standards. He has disqualified himself from holding office as a bishop, and because he is campaigning to overturn those standards, with the support of sections of ECUSA, ECUSA is setting itself apart from the community of faith which adheres to the authority of the scriptures.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 10:39am BST

Martin,

I'm not sure Anglican Mainstream have ever called Rowan a "false teacher". Perhaps, since you've made that allegation in a public forum, you'd care to either document it or withdraw it?

You catch my drift?

Posted by Peter O at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 11:37am BST

Merseymike:

On your question: I think there are a variety of reasons motivating those opposing a break-up. As you point out, expediency is one reason. Others are motivated by a disinclination to see august and historic institutions and unions terminated--I am very sympatico with this myself. Still others (on the liberal side) hope that if they can just put off a split, conservatives will eventually accommodate themselves to the changing situation (as they have grumblingly accommodated themselves to other changes in the past). Still others have so few things they consider "essential" from a doctrinal or religious standpoint that they can't understand the fuss. Finally, there may be some other motivations out there and most such folks are probably motivated by more than one of the above. However, whatever the motivation, it is unrealistic at this point. That is the fact that you and I both accept--there is no realistic possibility of conservatives and liberals staying together in the same Anglican denominations and/or communion at this point. Their respective positions have become too divergent.

Steven

PS-Prepare yourself for the usual chorus of "but with the Holy Spirit, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!" This comes with predictable variations, but without any suggestion but the usual--one side must capitulate and accommodate itself to the position of the other. I'm not holding my breath on that one. /s

Posted by steven at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 5:14pm BST

According to http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,1123429,00.html
it looks to be Reform, the Church Society and the Fellowship of Word and Spirit who described him as a false teacher. I'm sure that those groups and Anglican Mainstream have few movers and shakers in common?

Posted by Robert Marshall at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 8:32pm BST

Martin said:
'A couple of the organisations now masquerading as "Anglican Mainstream"'

Anglican Mainstream UK has representatives of the following bodies on its steering committee:
* Reform
* Church of England Evangelical Council
* New Wine Network
* Church Society
* Scottish Anglican Network

Looks like a close match to me

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 10:11pm BST

Anglican Mainstream is a network of pressure groups and a brief search tells us where they are coming from. Reform does not archive their press releases so here is a copy of the relevant one from 2002 elsewhere:
http://www.acl.asn.au/reform1202.html
And the Church Society, warmly embracing as ever:
http://www.churchsociety.org/press/2002/documents/PR_2002-10_Williams2.pdf
http://www.churchsociety.org/press/2002/documents/PR_2002-10_Williams.pdf

As I say, I can’t understand why anyone takes Anglican Mainstream seriously.

Get my drift?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 11:07pm BST

That's not the point Simon and Robert - When has Anglican Mainstream ever called Rowan a "false teacher"? How is, oh let's say New Wine, "masquerading" as Anglican Mainstream?

Posted by Peter O at Friday, 28 October 2005 at 11:11pm BST

There we do NOT have the nub of it, as I have not made an analogy of the Bible with a poem (I simply said the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION is not a poem - no bible and no analogy).
That is either more deliberate muddling of what I'm saying or you ought to stop skim-reading posts before responding to them.

STILL, whilst dismissing my approach to the Bible and belittling it with the phrase 'pick-and-mix', you refuse to tell me EXACTLY in what way that approach is flawed, which of it you don't do.

Which bit of:
"read [Bible] text, interpret it and apply in the way that interpretation leads you to according to your faculties of reason, conscience and faith and under the advice and guidance of others, tradition and the Holy Spirit"
do you not do and is, what you call, 'pick-&-mix'?

Whatever ones view on the 'behaviour' of Christian ministers and Bishops, there are proper ways to try to resolve these concerns: bullying, defamation and harassment they are not.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 2:27am BST

Dear Augustus, part of the problem is that you do not say *what you do believe*. You infer things without spelling them out. Hence in response to Alan's comments about obeying the Bible:

"Augustus, I can't think of many significant historical documents which people feel free to treat as a pick-and-mix counter from which they choose the sweets which appeal to them, let alone a system of doctrine or law. Are Americans permitted to choose which parts of the Constitution they will obey and which taxes they will pay?"

you said:

"To bring your references down to basics, Alan, the American constitution is not a poem. So people don't treat it like a poem. The written tax laws are not an article in a newspaper."

The most likely interpretation is that you think that the Bible is more like poetry, or has the authority of a newspaper article! If you think it is something else, please *clearly* state what you think.

As for the "Changing Attitude" pressure group, they could have been less provocative in the timing of the visit of Gene Robinson (to almost co-incide with the Alexandria meeting), and not advertised this "private" meeting in the official church press! Whether +London permits Robinson to preside or preach is a detail too subtle for the press. He is a focus for rejection of Christian sexual morality. His purported consecration IS the cause of disruption of the unity of the Communion - allowing his presence is provocative! I think that +London is protecting CA and GR because he, and the current ABofC, regards them as a good cause - and think that by supporting them he will gain credibility in the eyes of the UK's liberal "establishment".

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 12:15pm BST

So, the organisations who make up Anglican Mainstream are not to be seen as part of Anglican Mainstream when they make comments, even though they are the groups who steer and constitute the umbrella body?

That's double-speak for you.

Anglican Mainstream is simply a group, as certainly Eames realises, to pull the strings of their third world puppet front-men, and to plan for the impending split in the Anglican Communion.

I hope they succeed in the sense of gathering up as many conservative forces as possible, for any Communion without any adherents of the member groups involved would be an infinitely more progressive and pleasant place to be.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 12:36pm BST

Martin,
Reform may not archive their press releases but the web archive does http://web.archive.org see
http://web.archive.org/web/20021127084142/http://www.reform.org.uk/ for that press release.

Simon adds: this doesn't seem to work...

Posted by Robert Marshall at Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 1:30pm BST

With immediate effect, references to the names of organisations, which are modified to form a derogatory expression, will be edited. If commenters don't like that they are free not to post. :-)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 29 October 2005 at 4:58pm BST

Augustus, the question is this: does one accept the Church's teaching on doctrine and sexual morality? You have clearly indicated that you do not accept that the church has authority to teach definitively, either through the bible or as a body instituted by Christ.

Someone who rejects key aspects of that teaching and engages in activity which is declared sinful by both bible and church ought not to be elected as a bishop, since the apostolic ministry is one of representing the church and its teaching, not setting out to subvert it.

The problem with your approach is that that it is ultimately subjective and therefore self-validating, and does not accept that we are in any sense "under authority" - the authority of scripture and Christian doctrine.

The creed these days begins "We believe" rather than "I believe" but is it possible to say "We believe" in all sincerity when "We" don't accept or share those beliefs any longer?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 12:38am GMT

Dave and Alan, it seems the tendency to deliberately jumble, misread and misrepresent other people's arguments in order to ofuscate them and avoid answering difficult questions is catching.

Attempts at real and honest discussion are futile with that game going on. It is with this in mind that I will now trump your disengagement from the normal processes of reasoned debate by this considered response: 'What-evurrrr'.

And, by way of a farwell to this pseudo-discussion, I say to you both: 'Don't hate me 'cause you ain't me'.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 4:37am GMT

Click on the 'new press release' second link down

Posted by Robert Marshall at Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 7:26am GMT

Alan March wrote: "The creed these days begins "We believe" rather than "I believe" but is it possible to say "We believe" in all sincerity when "We" don't accept or share those beliefs any longer?"

Sorry, but the anti-modern american social and sexual readings and policies that you allude to has never been in any Creed.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 30 October 2005 at 12:55pm GMT

How sad to see the once great Lutheran church in Sweden succumb to the Spirit of the Age, in which the only creed is sexual politics!

Posted by Alan Marsh at Monday, 31 October 2005 at 7:08pm GMT

I know little about the Church of Sweden, other than their retention of Apostolic Succession (unlike most Lutheran churches), but I can properly read and interpret the previous comments of Göran Koch-Swahne. Accordingly, I find Alan Marsh's dismissive statement ("How sad to see the once great Lutheran church in Sweden succumb to the Spirit of the Age, in which the only creed is sexual politics!"), a distortion that is apparently designed to substitute name-calling for dialogue. How sad and shallow. If Mr. Marsh imagines that this is the only issue, or even the principal issue of difference, then dialogue will be impossible.

Posted by Gerard Hannon at Monday, 31 October 2005 at 9:14pm GMT

Gerard Hannon is welcome to form his own conclusions, like everyone else. Except in the Church of Sweden (in which the state is intimately involved in its electoral system) which has purged itself of its conservative elements, and allied itself instead to the secular agenda of sexual egalitarianism promoted by the Swedish state. The only view permitted in Sweden is the official one.

That seems to be the liberal definition of freedom: you can have any view you like, so long as you agree with me.

Sexual egalitarianism appears nowadays to be the only creed which holds any sway in the modern Svenska Kyrkans, which was formerly reformed, in its Confession, on the pure word of God.

But Göran Koch-Swahne seems to imagine that biblical standards of morality are some kind of modern invention, even "American" (what a vicious term of denigration!) but they most certainly are not. Credal belief takes numerous forms of expression in the scriptures themselves, including definitions of moral standards, as well as the formal christological and trinitarian Creeds adopted later by the church.

It is hardly name-calling to compare the modern absence of scriptural authority in the Church of Sweden with the faithfulness of the first generations of that great church. Then, it was under the authority of God's word. Now it is guided only by the sexual politics agenda, to judge from developments there in very recent days.

I agree on one thing with Merseymike: that dialog is not possible between those who accept the authority of scripture, and those who have regard only for their own judgement. And it is not a new insight in any way. "Securus iudicat orbis terrarum" was the phrase which acted as the catalyst for Newman's conversion. To paraphrase it, "One can only rely on the verdict of the universal church" - not on local or personal interpretations.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Monday, 31 October 2005 at 10:35pm GMT

Mr Marsh!

The "electoral system" of the Church of Sweden is run entirely by the Church of Sweden.

That there is a mall and vociferous anti-democratic minority in the Church does not change that ;=)

That same minority is fond of saying that the Liber Concordiae - the Books of Concord (or rather discord) of the German Lutheran churches - are also the "Confession" of the Church of Sweden, claiming themselves to be "faithful to the Bible and the Confession".

The truth is slightly different.

Following the Royal "Placat" of 1664 "pertaining to Things Religious", the Absolutist State Church Law of 1686/1687 declared that the German Books of Concord were an explanation of the Confessio augustana of 1530 ;=)

This does not include the Tractatus papae.

The (real) Confession of the Church of Sweden is the Confessio fídei of the 20th of March 1593 Uppsala Meeting, the penultimate Provincial Council before the hostile (= Calvinist) State take-over in 1687.

I shall not comment further.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 12:25pm GMT

"...the liberal definition of freedom: you can have any view you like, so long as you agree with me."

Dear Alan, liberals are broader than that. You don't have to agree completely; it is quite OK to be either liberal, extreme liberal or even agressive liberal!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 1:32pm GMT

"Dave and Alan, it seems the tendency to deliberately jumble, misread and misrepresent other people's arguments in order to ofuscate them and avoid answering difficult questions is catching."

Dear Augustus, That is not what I do. If we are to debate anything we both do need to clear state *what we think*, and to address each others arguements. I read your statement about the American Constitution and newspapers as an allusion to your attitude to the authorit of scripture, as that was a point Alan was making.

I still think that you have failed to say what you do believe (if anything) about the authority of Scripture! My assumption about many liberal folk is that they give scripture and tradition no authority independent of current humanist assumptions and thinking.. Scripture is (quasi-) historical records that are only interesting in their socio-linguistic-cultural context ?

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 1:43pm GMT

Alan, among other things, you said...

'Sexual egalitarianism appears nowadays to be the only creed which holds any sway in the modern Svenska Kyrkans, which was formerly reformed, in its Confession, on the pure word of God.'

Um, I have to advise you (like the good friend that tells you that there is a booger hanging from your nose) that this statement to most non-vegetative onlookers would appear to be surreally insulting and simplistic and dismissive. It's like a 'toytown' level of theological debate. I'm sure that our Christian brothers and sisters in the Church of Sweden are working out their day to day life in Christ in the most intimately mundane and miraculous fashion as much as you and your church are. I really wouldn't try to publically dismiss a whole number of faithful Christians in such a broad, dismissive sweep like that. You must be awfully confident in the validity of your own living out of the faith to dismiss innumerable people who you do not know.

I want to try to communicate how bad this is for your argument. It's really bad.

Posted by Augustus Meriwether at Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 3:44pm GMT

Who told you that, Dave?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 6:56pm GMT

Thank you for expressing so perfectly your liberal theological method, Augustus. I shall treasure it as an example of the genre.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 2 November 2005 at 1:39am GMT

Scripture must indeed be viewed in the light of both reason (including later knowledge and understanding) and experience.

The Bible is a book written by men, and is neither infallible nor inerrant.

That is the basic liberal position and it will not change simply because some fundamentalists treat the Bible as a fax from heaven!

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 2 November 2005 at 5:14pm GMT

More information about the Church of Sweden:

http://www.churchnewspaper.com/news.php?read=on&number_key=5793&title=Gay%20unions%20backed

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 3 November 2005 at 12:11am GMT
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