Comments: Papers for February General Synod

Mary Gilbert's piece is an excellent summary of Christian common sense on the subject. I pray that it will get a hearing.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Tuesday, 6 February 2007 at 4:28am GMT

The bishops' statement is also quite reasonable: GS Misc 842B Lesbian and Gay Christians Background Note from the House of Bishops (Wednesday)

While the ordination of Gene Robinson "triggered" the huge controversy, I suspect that the real motives of indignation go far beyond that.

On the ethics of homosexuality, the teachings mentioned in this statement are quite liberal. The nuance that says, tolerable in laity, not in clergy, is rather subtle; and it is surely not this nuance that the Global South is het up about.

It is not even clear that the ordination of Gene Robinson constituted a grave breach of church order, since the Lambeth conference seems not to have the authority to tell the churches of the Communion how to run their affairs.

What, indeed, are the Global South up in arms about? Their quarrel seems to be with the mild, reasonable and liberal views expressed on homosexuality at Lambeth conferences. Or is it with a model of Christian teaching that countenances listening and discussion rather than perfervid biblical fundamentalism?

If they aired their views in calm and reasoned debate they might find that their views themselves are not so easy to state as they imagine, and that might make them more amenable to tolerate others whose views they now despise.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Tuesday, 6 February 2007 at 10:11am GMT

"Or is it with a model of Christian teaching that countenances listening and discussion rather than perfervid biblical fundamentalism?"

It's never about what it's about. The issue is of Biblical authority as understood by those in the Church who are basically sola scriptura type Protestants. Homosexuality is the rock they have chosen to founder on. I'm not arguing right or wrong, merely that if it hadn't been this, it would have been something else. They don't need to listen to the other side, not when what they say is "in the Bible" and they are arguing with people who don't hold to sola scriptura and are therefor not "Bible believing". They have made common cause with ultratraditionalist Anglo-catholics, an odd combo given that in other times they called us "cryptopapists" yet they now join with the most "cryptopapist" of us! Issues of post-colonial resentment towards Westerners, lust for power, and the desire to be right also come into it, as does the fact that the American Church really misjudged the legitimate theological concerns of some, the rabid hatred of gay people on the part of many, and the fear felt by those who live in places where their Muslim neighbours already see this as the decadence of Western "Crusader" religion. Also, the "conservatives" are heavily funded by wealthy, often non-Anglican, Americans connected to the Bush Republicans and the Institute for Religion and Democracy. So yes, "perfervid Biblical fundamentalism" is part of it, but certainly not all. Neither side is able to hear the legitimate concerns of the other, being too anxious to demonize the other side with "us" and "them".

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 6 February 2007 at 2:27pm GMT

Ford Elms --

Yes, that's right.

In Tanzania we can expect the Global South to try to get a two-thirds vote to expel The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Consultative Council, but I don't think that will happen, so maybe Nigeria will lead some Global South provinces into a biblical obscurnatist communion. Or perhaps TEC will be excluded from the ACC & yet invited to Lambeth like the non-Anglican Old Catholics & Church of Sweden (both of whose positions on women in ministry & gay issues are much closer to TEC than to those of the Church of England).

But what we see in synod is a microcosm of the struggles that are tearing apart the WWAC. Any split will have ramifications for the C of E.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 6 February 2007 at 9:15pm GMT

Being an old board-room fox, I would be very much surprised to see that a provision allowing fo a 2/3 voting of a new Province i n t o the ACC, also meant there is a provision allowing 2/3 to vote one out.

Not the same thing.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 7 February 2007 at 1:34pm GMT

"But what we see in synod is a microcosm of the struggles that are tearing apart the WWAC."
Which is sad. We need the Evangelicals to call us back to Scripture when we get a bit too full of seeing the Spirit in every touchy feely decision we make. We need the Anglo-catholics to call people away from legalism and Pelagianism back to the wonder of Creation Redeemed by ist Creator who actually became part of it. We need the broad Churchers to remind us that living together without dissention is not about agreement, but respect, and IS one of the highest values of the Kingdom. We'll all lose if we finally come to believe that we can't break Bread any more because of the way some of us think about gay people.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 8 February 2007 at 1:16pm GMT

Göran Koch-Swahne--

You may well be right, but I was told that it was a matter of "who determined membership" (interesting that it is not the ACC itself).

In any case, I would be astonished if the Akinolist led "Global South" primates number 2/3 -- perhaps slightly over 1/2, but that would not suffice.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 8 February 2007 at 3:03pm GMT
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