Comments: New Zealand synod acts on same-gender blessings

How very Anglican of the Kiwis.
On the one hand ......

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 9:38am BST

Together with the public apology, LGBTB people have reason for hope in this determination of our General Synod. Though the 4 year interval between now and the possibility of Same-Sex Blessings being celebrated formally seems - to some of us - an inordinately long time to wait, there is a process that offers hope of a just resolution.

This will not, of course, suit the implacably opposed, with murmurs of discontent already being heard from the sola sciptura school of theology.

However I am impressed that all 3 tikanga - cultural streams - are resolved to continue to work together on what is clearly seen as an issue of common justice. Deo Gratias!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 12:14pm BST

I can't see how you can uphold both traditional marriage and allow for this. Its one or the other.

As regards the evangelical opponents in New Zealand they are hopelessly compromised on divorce and re-marriage.

Both evangelical Samuel Marsden and High Church Bishop Selwyn ( the real pioneer of New Zealand Anglicanism) must be spinning in their graves. Bishop Selwyn gave the Church synodical government and here is the fruit.

But there again New Zealand Anglicanism is in meltdown and they are even considering closing their Theological college,St Johns.

Posted by robert Ian williams at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 2:28pm BST

This is pathetic. This isn't a commitment to move forward. This is a commitment to keep some at the back of the bus. Stop placating those who insist on injustice. There is nothing good that can be said about this. It would have been half-way acceptable in 1994. In 2014 it is an insult and unacceptable. There is really no hope for the church or for Christians, is there? This decision doesn't cause "distress." It causes what it really deserves: unbridled contempt. "Please don't ask us to do the right thing, or to treat you as a human being, until the evil bigots have all died out. Then we will do the right thing." Useless and worth nothing but our scorn and contempt. I don't know why I expected better of New Zealand.

Posted by Dennis at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 3:16pm BST

As in England, the line that the hierarchy is trying to draw simply will not hold on the ground.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 3:53pm BST

Separate but equal, how very 1896!

Posted by James Byron at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 6:19pm BST

I'm very disappointed in the Kiwis. It's one thing to not provide for marriage in church: I don't like it, but I can accept it.

But to not *BLESS* civil marriages? By the bishop/clergy/vestries who choose to do so? There's NO excuse for that. Zero. Zed.

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 14 May 2014 at 9:13pm BST

I've become friends online in the past years with several New Zealander Anglicans... what with me being from Canada, and them from New Zealand, two small and ignored but mighty members of the Commonwealth, we have a lot in common other than just being ignored as the more brash and gauche US, UK and Australia elbow for the non-stop attention...

I understand that some fundamentalist Anglicans consider the NZ prayer book to be of the devil.

But I still can't find out, can you buy Heinz ketchup in New Zealand, if so where is it actually made; or, is it sold under the Watties name? I asked a few and they padded off to "research it." ha.

Posted by Randal Oulton at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 12:12am BST

It strikes me that their are two Anglican churches in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

One is a hypothetical one which exists in people's heads and also votes in the majority for whatever else is in those heads.

The other is the real one which exists via synodical government and has sweated to get to the point we have reached. If a majority does not exist in that church to conform to other people's agenda, how about coming out here and making your hypothetical church a reality? People start new churches all the time Down Under!

Posted by Peter Carrell at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 12:32am BST

Well compared to the Australian bishops, who voted in 2012 to reaffirm Lambeth 1.10, they are moving forward.

Posted by James at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 1:29am BST

Sadly Father Ron, I see no reason for giving thanks to God. For once I agree with Father David. "How very Anglican" and how very disappointing.
When Monday's time for discussion was extended into Tuesday and then a special group was chosen, with candidates from both sides, to come up with wording for Wednesday, I held some small hope. All the discussion was in private. To me the conservatives, "sola scriptura" whatever you like, I call them "Apostles of Hate", knowing they could not completely block any movement, have succeeded in just further delay. Fr Ron says 4 years I have seen 8 and that is only "if". I will be 78. Belonging to the church has only brought me misery. But I am slightly thankful. At least 2 friends of my youth in the same situation committed suicide. Today young people do not take church views seriously for which I can Thank God.
One commentator here has described this decision as a small step but so very out of step with the world. He also described the church as apologising but changing nothing. I knew Australia was a lost cause because of the stranglehold of Sydney but hoped for better when I migrated to NZ.
Even with this I have already seen one conservative criticism on the blog of my Diocesan bishop, and another on the Provincila newspaper. I avoid reading the blogs of those types but Fr Ron seems to have seen others. These people would only be happy if we were imprisoned or worse. Thankfully I do not live in Africa but in an enlightened POST CHRISTIAN country.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 1:45am BST

I made a decision to read the motion and the Archbishops' letter in full, and not to read anyone's comments before offering my own response. I may well have more to say, here or on NZ websites, after I have read others' comments.

I have three responses, which may sound self-contradictory. But that is in the spirit of Fr David's comment (all right, I did read one comment)about Kiwis being very Anglican with our "on the one hand...." approach.

First, I am delighted that this resolution has been agreed by General Synod. As a former member, with a fair grasp of its complexities, I share the sense of pride evidenced by current members in the Synod's ability to find a way forward that is reasonably likely to avoid major divisions. I guess it is the minimum that the pros had to achieve, and the maximum that the antis could allow to happen. I will gladly put my hand up for the new commission, but experience tells me they are unlikely to look in my direction.

Second, in my view the policy of our leadership in the past couple of decades, of setting up commission after commission, after listening process, after hermeneutics hui, after Doctrine and Theology Commission ad infinitum, has led to a situation like a log dam across a river. The lake behind the dam keeps getting bigger and bigger, and eventually a collapse is inevitable. My great fear is that the Synod would have set another layer of logs on the dam; I am so glad they have realised that this was no longer an option. Time will tell whether they are successful in dismantling the dam log by log, or whether they and we will be engulfed in the eventual collapse.

Third, I dropped my wife off at work this morning, at a secular professional office. As we waited outside, two women of about 50 walked in together. My wife said, "Oh there are Pat and Patsy - they have been together for 30 years, and got married last month." I replied sardonically: "I'm sure they will be very excited to hear that if I get special permission from my bishop and vestry I can conduct a service to recognise their relationship, as long as I don't bless it, and that in just four short years I may be able to bless it, as long as I make clear that we do not believe they are married in the eyes of God."

I hope it's not too little, too late.

Posted by Edward Prebble at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 2:13am BST

It is important to understand just how things happen in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Everything that has been said about this being totally inadequate and unjust is correct, however it must be seen as part of an ongoing process. Despite the comments above re Selwyn, this is largely a CMS planted church that still bears some birthmarks. Liturgies to mark same sex relationships will occur and I doubt that there will be one that isn't in fact a blessing of a marriage or civil union, because that's what all those concerned will actually want and New Zealand clergy are not known for being sticklers for rules. So in a fairly short space of time, despite all the conservative caveats necessary to get this far, we will have church blessings of marriages happening. They will be technically irregular but not uncommon and the resistance will become increasingly shrill and wither. This is what happened with the re marriage of divorcees and yes, the conservative groupings are 'hoplessly compromised' on this issue and they know it. By and large New Zealanders like be just and fair but they do look for compromise even if temporarily, compromise is neither just nor fair. Church marriage for same sex partners is on the way and I will be very surprised if events don't overtake this clumsy protracted process agreed to only a couple of days ago.

Posted by Disgraced at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 5:43am BST

Dear Randal
You can buy all sorts of food in NZ, including speciality British foods in speciality British shops.

Why on earth would anyone want Heinz when Watties is available?

No one who has been to heaven settles for purgatory.

Posted by Peter Carrell at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 10:02am BST

Here are some reflections from another thinking insider blogger

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 11:13am BST

"But there again New Zealand Anglicanism is in meltdown and they are even considering closing their Theological college,St Johns."
- Robert I. Williams -

As a gratuitous aside, Robert, to the topic of conversation here, this was quite unworthy of you and, in fact, an outright mis-statement. Anyone properly reading the report of the St. John's College Trust Board would see that the basis of the Trust is financially sound. however, future calls on its funding - outside of the direct business of educating clergy - might, in the emerging economic climate, become more difficult.

In response to Brian Ralph, might I say that even though the result of the G.S. seems to have been a typical 'Anglican Fudge' (we ought by now to be familiar with such accommodations within our world-wide Communion), there has been an opening to the possibility of immediate access to Same-Sex couples being given some sort of welcome ceremony by the local parish - with the bishop's permission

Certainly this is a small step - even tentative - but still in the right direction. And who knows, given the elasticity of the G.S. directives, we may see things moving rather sooner than later?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 11:43am BST

I am particularly grateful to Edward Prebble for the image of a dam of logs behind which a flood is gathering. The church need only look to the similar dynamic in the civil society. As it became clear that, in legal terms, "there is no rational basis to restrict same-sex couples, otherwise legally competent, from marriage," the opposition eventually collapsed. Opposition on religious grounds ultimately goes back to a taboo, and taboo does not usually hold up very well under close examination, even more so as efforts to shore it up become increasingly incredible or strained. Eventually the seams burst, and the flood breaks through.

The tragic thing is that in the meantime the Gospel is swept away in the flood. The church, in wedding itself (if I may use this imagery!) to a taboo rather than to the Gospel, does both itself and that Gospel a terrible disservice.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 2:28pm BST

"The church need only look to the similar dynamic in the civil society" -- I cannot think of a single instance where a Church Father reasoned this way.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 3:41pm BST

St Johns used to be one of the wealthiest Anglican theological colleges in the world, but the millions have seemingly been squandered.

Divorce and remarriage are rampant in the NZ Church. They too began with blessings, and then qualified re-marriage with the permission of a bishop , and now it is free for all. Yet these persons want to dictate morality to gay and lesbian persons. How ironic. Apart from his analysis of NZ Church history, Disgraced is spot on.

By the way Samuel Marsden who the NZ crowd are celebrating bringing the gospel to Aotaearoa was a firm believer in flogging. He came from Yorkshire via the New South Wales penal colony.

Posted by robert ian Williams at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 5:03pm BST

""The church need only look to the similar dynamic in the civil society" -- I cannot think of a single instance where a Church Father reasoned this way." cseitz

Which is probably why the church is always decades behind everyone else in justice issues - though usually claiming the opposite when enough time has elapsed for people not to notice the lie.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 6:16pm BST

C Seitz, if you took what I was saying as I intended I think you could find many a Father who reasoned in precisely that way. They had Jesus as an exemplar, in this case in his parable of the man who built his house on sand. My point is not about doing as the civil society does (or not, for that matter) but in learning from what goes on in the world and applying what is learned.

It is true that at least one Father (Tertullian) rejected this course, but this led him ultimately into the heresy of private revelation.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 6:42pm BST

Good grief, Heinz owns Watties, the difference is the locally produced ingredients. There is nothing on the planet to compare with Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup!

Posted by Disgraced at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 9:48pm BST

Why would it not apply, cseitz? Civil society is right in this question, and much of the church is completely wrong. Time for institutional repentance and amendment of life. Your type have made an apriori assumption that the church is always right, and society always wrong, and that society can't offer leadership in this question. What an assumption!

Of course, it is rather interesting that conservatives didn't make the same assumption when it came to questions of divorce or remarriage of straight people. And even more interesting is an implicit denial that you also look to opinions in civil society to shape your theology. You just turn to conservative opinions and then seek to find justification in religion.

In a case where everyone (including conservatives) are engaging in eisegesis (reading into) one should have a bias toward the crowd whose eisegesis is informed by equality, love and welcome, and a bias against those whose act of reading into the teachings of the church is informed by inequality and exclusivity. Since we can't help but read our priorities and beliefs into religion, we should at least try to shape our beliefs by the moral demands of love and equality.

Posted by Dennis at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 9:55pm BST

Dennis. What sweet reasoning. Bless you!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 1:15am BST

Though I hardly dare reply to cseitz when Our Tobias has already done so--- may I suggest that, in comparing our "civil society" to that of the Church Fathers, theirs was ruled by Roman emperors, whereas ours are electoral democracies?

If one believes the Imago Dei ought properly rule themselves (i.e., democracy in its various forms), then surely this MUST make a difference between the Church Fathers' context, and ours.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 1:16am BST

"Which is probably why the church is always decades behind everyone else in justice issues."

"Civil society is right in this question, and much of the church is completely wrong."

Fr Haller, here are the correct answers.

All those accounts of Anglicanism that claimed it saw its authority in the early church (1 Bible, two testaments, 3 creeds, 4 councils, 5 centuries) and that Rome had erred in latter time, these both stand before the Hegelianism of cultural improvement.

Reading a dissertation on Clement's use of scripture yesterday brought forth my comment. Like ships passing in the night is his world and yours/others. Everyone uses analogies from the world, but that was not the point of a log jam over sex breaking in culture before a church lagging behind.

LC and D are at least clear about that.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 6:10am BST

Whilst I disagree with Disgraced's of NZ Anglican history ( particularly the CMS influence), I feel he is spot on elsewhere.

As regards divorce.... the pattern is interesting. For the first 120 years NZ Anglicans kept to the Cof E canons forbidding the re-marriage of divorced persons. Then in the nineteen sixties they started blessing second marriages. Then re-marriage was allowed with the local bishop's permission was and then it became a free for all.

And yet these people are dictating morality to gay and lesbians!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 6:21am BST

Dr Seitz, once again, the issue is not as you frame it. I was not speaking in Hegelian or progressive terms, but attempting to express the dynamic that is true in any system, sacred or secular, that building on a weak foundation is bound to lead to eventual collapse, in spite of massive efforts to shore up the structure. It has done so in the state, and it has done so and will do so in the church. This is not Hegel, but Jesus.

LC and D are making points different to mine, so quoting them to correct me is rather beside the point. I am not speaking about progress, but the analogy between a state realizing that its laws lack a sound basis and the church doing the same with its doctrines -- not causally or by imitation, but analogously (as you appear to recognize when you say, "Everyone uses analogies from the world...")

To take the example of divorce and remarriage; while some may say the changes in church policy were merely giving in to secular pressure, my reading of the debates in the time of the change is that a doctrinal nuance was teased out from the otherwise plain text of Scripture to allow for a concept that a marriage, as a living thing, could die, and that it was appropriate in some circumstances, to recognize that. (Some may not accept that revision, but those who did it would say they were not simply operating under secular influence.)

To return to the main theme, you obviously do not agree that the "traditional view" provides a weak doctrinal foundation, or that it is not subject to the same reexamination and revision, as I do, but that is an entirely different discussion.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 3:12pm BST

@James Byron: you might have to explain Plessy v Ferguson to those who aren't USA citizens. The 60th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education Topeka Kansas (which undid Plessy) is ... tomorrow. I plan to celebrate.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 5:37pm BST

"we have a lot in common other than just being ignored as the more brash and gauche US, UK and Australia elbow for the non-stop attention…"

Is that really necessary? And what, pray tell, is "brash and gauche" about TEC? Inclusion? Commitment to justice? Rejection of discrimination? The Anglican/Episcopal churches in Canada in the US also have much in common. We both were singled out for the wrath of Rowan. So is it "brash and gauche" to push back? In the TEC we do, after all, believe that justice is a theological imperative. And it is very interesting to observe the approach of other churches, like CoE to these issues. Their approach seems more politically driven than theologically driven. It's interesting.

As for NZ. Its resolution is separate unequal. Not very impressive. Maybe a necessary step along the way, but not much of a breakthrough in "reaching the mountaintop" described by MLK.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 6:19pm BST

Phew.... I just perused this site after looking at Blogspot Anglican Downunder.

I am a little taken back at the 'unchristian' nature of the responses. Where is the 'encourage one another'?

Then to be hit with such criticism of the church. In all my years I have never met in a NZ church such denigration of one another. Where is the 'grace'?

Then to be shocked reading the church always lags behind on justice issues. My gosh truly? Most nearly all social justice organisations here have christian associations if not backgrounds. Barnados, Save the Children, Unicef, Anglican Social Services, Tear Fund, Salvation Army, Presbyterian Support Services.... I guess we must be different from other countries.

Then the surpise of how dare divorcees decide re LGBT issues, or divorce not be a precedent for these decisions. First I am not sure if the working party included divorcees are you? Secondly as a church body with each decision surely scripture is the precedent of every decision, alongside interpretation (we are not a court of law). What governs your ethical decisions? Previous decisions or the guidance you carefully consider as you reflect on the Bible and discuss it with those around you?

As we sing in our national anthem:
"God of nations and thy feet in the bonds of peace we meet
Hear our voices we entreat
God defend New Zealand"

Posted by Jean at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 6:53pm BST

As a New Zealand resident of over 4 years who is looking forward to becoming a citizen (not permitted until 5 years residency), I have been bemused at the wording of the National Anthem. In the 2013 census less than half the population declared an affiliation to Christianity and regular church attendance is probably closer to 15%. My bishop and vicar wring their hands at such figures, although part of that 15%, I give thanks to God. The great advances in homosexual acceptance have passed through parliament in the teeth of church opposition. The church is now the only area in society where I face official discrimination. I belong to various clubs mainly of over 60 year olds. I am openly accepted despite my orientation. At church I keep my head down.
Moving from Australia, I expected much more courage within the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand. I thought of it as akin to Canada and the USA. I am sad to see the many well meaning people, including my bishop and vicar, cowed by the Apostles of Hate and expressing happiness at such a small step. However still most criticism comes from those who think even this is a step too far as can be seen by reading Blogspot Anglican Downunder.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 11:02pm BST

"What governs your ethical decisions? Previous decisions or the guidance you carefully consider as you reflect on the Bible and discuss it with those around you?"

Jean, I think the problem is that LGBT inclusion has been on the table for quite awhile. The folks leading the way on inclusion have absorbed some very fine theological and biblical thinking. While much of "the church" has been dragging its collective feet, avoiding the theological discussions, society has moved forward and exposed the churches that haven't been engaging. So now, instead of looking like enlightened engagement, it looks rather different.

Sorry that NZ is late to the party. Glad that they seem on the way. But for those of us who are gay, we've seen too many friends and family pass without ever getting justice, and we're tired of it. The bigotry has to end and NZ is not going to look great when the vast majority of our Western Civilizations have said "enough."

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 11:12pm BST

And my point was that Anglicans have held that they have a firm foundation, and it distinguishes them from latterly devised confessional systems, and from the claims of a Roman magisterium (itself latterly describing a 'development of doctrine' identity a la Newman). This was Andrews' 1 Bible, 2 Testaments, etc.

I understand the 'catch up to culture' views are fully divergent from this model, and happily so (if it is even aware of it). They are frank in their evolutionary understanding, though they may not know where it leads after today's agenda.

Your position seems more eccentric or self-generated.

In either case, if Anglicanism gives up on the self-identity of former claims, many of us will still find them well-founded and will wish to retain them over other options.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 9:39am BST

Thanks Brian and Cynthia for your responses,

Yes Brian NZ has now a small christian community, a great personal motivation to be used by christ to reach others. Lets pray our National Anthem is prophetic. I would say we have a little more in common with Canada than the US, but historically our pakeha culture is more influenced by our UK association. In saying that we are definitely a unique blend.

Cynthia re the church dragging its feet. The same sex marriage bill was only passed in parliament in NZ in 2013 so the topic is still quite topical and divided here, not only in the church but also secular society. And I am surprised nobody, especially the media raises such issues with other faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. I am sure they would be equally challenged. While very much minority religions here I would imagine they are more prevalent in the UK.

From what I read of the issue at hand most other western countries still have people who hold differing perspectives.
We might not look all that great from all angles but we do have redeeming features. Come visit.

Posted by Jean at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 10:13am BST

Well, Dr. Seitz, they did say the same things about Jesus, so I suppose I am in good company.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 12:51pm BST

Said what things about Jesus?

Are you saying that your position on same-sex is the same as Jesus' and that you are receiving an equal treatment as he did?

Whew. Please say I am misunderstanding you.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 4:30pm BST

Dr. Seitz, you have misunderstood me in this thread from the very beginning; I was, in the last note, referring to your characterization of my views on "the development of doctrine" as eccentric or self-generated. The same was said of Jesus.

But as to your persistent misunderstanding, I tried to clarify my original comment for you. but you seem unable to grasp what I'm saying, which is fully congruent with the Articles on the Authority of the Church and of General Councils. (pace Andrewes' pious fiction, which is somewhat at odds with the Articles and actual Anglican practice). The church in council often errs -- even in matters of faith and morals. It sometimes takes time for those errors to be challenged, and the church sometimes fights against correction tooth and nail. It erects structures in opposition to the challenge, but the structures are often unstable and incoherent. Eventually they collapse.

And, as I observed, the same sort of thing happens in the secular realm. Sometimes the saeculum comes to a better mind on an issue prior to the church doing so -- as for instance, on the matter of slavery. I am not suggesting the church ought to have changed because the state did; I rather wish it could have changed before the state did.

I see this phenomenon at work in the present debates. I know you disagree with the _substance_ of the matter under discussion, but surely the existence of this phenomenon (regardless of topic) is simply a fact of church and world history; which was my contention.

Nor mine alone. A friend pointed me to an article in the Tablet (UK) on Bishop Nuncio Galantino, who echoes 'the views of the Pope, who said last year that the Church risked falling “like a house of cards” if it was “obsessed” only with issues related to “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods”.'

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 9:16pm BST

"Come visit."

I'm looking forward to visiting NZ some day. I love the Prayer Book!

At some point the "holding different views" thing just doesn't last. People held differing views on racism, anti-semitism, misogyny, and burning witches. Eventually there has to be a "come to Jesus" moment when the real question is: are we ALL created in the Image of God? The answer becomes yes, because no one is qualified to exclude another from being one of God's beloved children.

So the real question, is how long do I and my LGBT sisters and brothers, and our families, have to endure this injustice and hurtful exclusion? The younger generation, thank God, has no tolerance for the exclusion. And those of us of middle age have lost too many friends and family without their seeing inclusion. It's time.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 10:11pm BST

"Where is the 'grace'?"

I have heard this question now and then.

It is often asked of someone who is telling the truth, by someone who doesn't want to hear it.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 11:15pm BST

I grasp your position without a problem.

Jesus did not argue for a development of doctrine.

'From the beginning it was not so' is not a developmental conception but the opposite.

'Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets' is not a developmental conception.

'Do not think that I have come to abolish' is not a developmental conception.

'He was in the beginning with God'; 'before Abraham was I am'; 'well did Isaiah say of you' are not developmental conceptions.

When the Pharisees argued for forms of developmentalism, Christ firmly rejected their position as transgressing the word of God.

I'd be curious how you differentiate your own stance from that of others on this thread, which you claim are in fact 'a different point.'

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 6:08am BST

"Sometimes the saeculum comes to a better mind on an issue prior to the church doing so -- as for instance, on the matter of slavery."

Wilberforce would hardly have thought of himself as the 'saeculum' as against the 'ecclesia'! His arguments were entirely biblical and only had force as such in a formerly Christian nation. Read any basic account of the dismantling of slavery (a pagan institution) in the UK. Evangelical Christianity regarded it as abhorrent and against God's word.

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 7:03am BST

Dr Seitz,
I think the basic problem here is that you find it inconceivable that people can look to the same texts (Biblical and Patristic) and come to conclusions different to yours.

In re the teaching style of Jesus you appear to misunderstand that "development" can sometimes mean "ad fontes" as well as movement in a different direction entirely. Your little florilegium here does not, to my mind, capture the full range of Jesus' moral teaching. But let that pass.

I do not think you "grasp" my position. If you did, you would be able to articulate it in language I could recognize. Not only can you not do so, but you "wonder" how I differentiate my position from that of others on this thread even after I've explained it several times. Others are describing the church changing under pressure from the culture; I am suggesting that this is not causal, but coincidental. I do not know if you are familiar with the biological concept of "convergent evolution" but that is more or less my position in this case. The church will not change its position _because_ the state has, but _for similar reasons_, primarily realizing that the arguments against are unsustainable and self-referential. (This will be my last effort at an explanation.)

Finally, before you offer further condescending advice about reading materials, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the role of the English Church (including the SPG) in the slave trade, and the resistance to its end on the part of the Lords Spiritual. Wilberforce was a layman; the institutional church largely opposed him. You might also want to review the ardent (and Biblical!) defense of slavery published on the eve of the Civil War by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Obviously there were Christian's involved in the end to slavery; but they were for the most part outside the Institution. Abolition in both the US and England came largely from secular humanists, nonconformists, and Quakers. In 2006 the C of E apologized for its role in maintaining slavery.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 9:22pm BST

We will leave our several courses on anglican church history and theology as they are. A position that somehow elevates an alleged Articles distinctive over the 17 century return to the Early Church (now a pious fiction!) or the instincts of the tractarians again strikes me as an eccentric and self-generated view.

And how the word 'developmental' is meant to extend to ad fontes is equally bizarre on my ear.

Christ's appeal to the divine intention at the beginning--
this is not a development but a correction in the name of primeval intent, over against pharisaic accomodation.

Can you explain how this comports substantively with yiur position? I have no trouble understanding development of doctrine in Roman hands--Newman's unpersuasive adieu to anglicanism--and the whiggish one. But yours is more curious. Perhaps that is why one finds your view prone to misunderstanding.

Just like a seamless 'saeculum'.

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 19 May 2014 at 7:41am BST

"The church will not change its position _because_ the state has, but _for similar reasons_, primarily realizing that the arguments against are unsustainable and self-referential."

Thank you, Tobias. And bless you for trying…

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 19 May 2014 at 5:18pm BST
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