Comments: Lambeth: The View from the English Pew

"They know that the Church of England is ultimately controlled by Parliament, via powers delegated to the General Synod, but they also know that the General Synod is very rarely able to agree on anything very quickly, if at all. So the chance of anything changing in their parish church because of something a Sudanese bishop said is rather remote."

Nice reality-check, Simon: thanks.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 26 July 2008 at 8:31pm BST

"They know that the Church of England is ultimately controlled by Parliament, via powers delegated to the General Synod..."

Ultimately, the C of E is guided by God. God just happens to use Parliament and the General Synod as instruments through which God's grace might reach God's people. I am exceedingly reticient about /how/ Parliament matters in this equation, but right now, it's still there...

"the chance of anything changing in their parish church because of something a Sudanese bishop said is rather remote."

Theoretically, I agree here. But... An ecclesiology that takes seriously that Christians are the Body of Christ, and not just lots of lumpen individuals thrown together might view the archbishop of Sudan as a shepherd for the people of Sudan. To view this archbishop in this way is to acknowledge him not as a "politician" or "leader", but as somebody who is seeking to bring about unity (even when it doesn't seem that way). One is forced, then, to take seriously the Bishop's statement that:

"Much support will be needed, both in terms of relief and development, to help communities to provide clean water, security, health and education."

Viewed in this way, it is too our shame that the people of England dismiss the chances of "anything changing in their parish". For in order to bring about the change that is required to support the Sudanese people (or any of the peoples asking for the attendees at Lambeth's assistance), we are going to have to figure out how God is calling us to be changed.

Posted by TWP at Sunday, 27 July 2008 at 2:42am BST

I agree with TWP - that the C. of E. Councils are open to being guided by God, the same as any other Christian organisation would claim. However to say that Archbishop Deng of the Sudan has any sort of hot-line to God, that cannot be accessed by the other bishops of the Communion, is to question the degree of 'unity' that he hopes to encourage by his recent statements to the press about homosexuals in the Church.

His call for the resignation of Bishop Gene is counterproductive to his call for collegiality in the Church. Does he think that his own view of the presence of gays in the Church should be the view of everyone else? This sounds very much like our old friend Abp. Akinola and the faux bishops of CANA. And where are their advocates at this time, when their presence at Lambeth might validate their expression of concern for the world-wide Anglican Communion? Or do they have another, distinctly political, agenda?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 27 July 2008 at 8:46am BST

Of course the Abp of Sudan doesn't have a unique direct hotline to God. However, I deliberately used the ambiguity of SS's message to focus upon the /other/ Sudanese statement re. the troubles of that country. The fact that both statements were made in close succession might, viewed from a certain anthropological viewpoint, reveal how the statements speak to one another. I wonder (and it's only a vague wondering) whether an attempt to draw boundaries in a geographical area leads to a desire to draw boundaries upon the human body and its entrances and exits. It just so happens that sex on the agenda, but I could very much understand how in the early church, the debate was all about food. Again, it's a question of the permissibility of certain objects to enter (or be refused entry) to the human body.

Somebody was always going to call for Bp Gene's resignation. I'm quite pleased it has been got out of the way at such an early stage of the conference. Likewise, no doubt, somebody else will have to make a statement saying that they will leave if that happens (or somesuch, and we've not seen that happen yet). He probably does think his own view should be that of everybody else (to be honest, the view that one's own view should be the view of others is not unique to him), but no doubt he had not been to many indaba groups at the point the statement was made.

Everybody has a political agenda; both the people at Lambeth and the people at GAFCON, and the people at neither. God, indeed, has a uniquely political agenda for the Kingdom of God. All we have to do is figure out how they all line up, and how to avoid killing each other.

Posted by TWP at Sunday, 27 July 2008 at 12:58pm BST
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