I think the Archbishop actually said that the C of E had gone from out of touch, to vicious, to toxic and is now just seen as plain odd.
I think he ought to know that as far as many people in England are concerned it has not yet outgrown its toxicity. When things become odd they can become beloved again. I fear we are a long way from that happening to the established church yet.
If I did not know better, I'd think Justin Welby's quote was from satirical website.
He said "we have to find a way to love and embrace everyone who loves Jesus Christ" but he added that this included people who feel – or come from societies which believe – that same-sex relationships are "deeply, deeply wrong".
Embrace them, indeed. People who believe same-sex relationships are "deeply, deeply wrong" should definitely not enter into same-sex relationships. Why must people who believe same-sex relationships can be deeply, deeply right suffer for the beliefs of others? When will Justin advise bishops in the church to stop punishing clergy who marry or enter into civil partnerships? Then maybe the church would look less toxic.
I agree with Jeremy above in that I also don't think that the church's toxicity has peaked yet; but I also believe that Justin's observations need to be extended: the CofE started as more inclusive; it was then prophetic (contra societal norms) in its stance on LGB people; it was then inclusive in a different way (providing a slightly hidden 'safe' subculture,) before it then became 'traditionalist'.
One of the interesting paradoxes that I continue to reflect upon is that the Communion barely existed as a self-conscious entity until the consecration of Gene Robinson; if you accept that analysis, it follows that the communion's identity is defined by its conflict over human sexuality. That being the case, there is an intriguing confluence of post-colonialist inheritance and unconscious attitudes to sexuality that seem to queer the pitch of progress, leading to Justin's difficulty in navigating it.
'Asked by an audience member who was due to enter a civil partnership when the Church would be in a position to bless the union, the Archbishop simply said that he did not know. "I don't have a good answer to it," he said. "If we were the only Church here and [there were] no other Churches, and if division didn't matter it would be much easier to answer"...
'He said "we have to find a way to love and embrace everyone who loves Jesus Christ" but he added that this included people who feel – or come from societies which believe – that same-sex relationships are "deeply, deeply wrong".'
1. The first statement seems to imply that acceptance and blessing of gay sexual relations is held back by 'other churches'.
2. The second statement seems to imply that consideration needs to be shown to 'societies' that think gay sex is wrong. This again seems to point to overseas, since UK society is generally in favour.
3. Consideration, love and inclusion (embrace) also needs to be shown to 'people' -which can refer to UK Anglicans who oppose gay sex and its blessing. But a solution to UK Anglicans divided views lies in 'unity in diversity' and respect for conscientious disagreement.
That is part of the 'much easier'. The bottom line is that LGBT people in the English Church are being discriminated against because of 'other churches' and 'societies'.
LGBT people in the UK are taking the rap - against prevailing UK opinion and many in our Church - to appease overseas churches and societal discrimination in other countries.
That cannot be right, but it seems to be admitted.
"I am constantly consumed with horror” at the way in which the Church has treated the gay community"... those are words, and maybe they are meant. But actions - such as stopping a hospital chaplain from helping the sick, because of his marriage; or the Pastoral Letter threatening consequences for priests or ordinands who marry the partners they love; or the Primates threatened sanctions against LGBT-affirming churches - are 'ways in which the Church has treated' (and continues to treat) 'the gay community.'
The mistreatment of LGBT people in our Church is not only a problem of a few 'bad apple' homophobes. The problem cascades down from the top.
I'd also add that the issue of Justin's misrepresentation of the outcome of the Anglican Consultative Council was no small matter.
In my opinion that was cynical politicking in an attempt to control the meeting's resolutions within his own spin, out of fear that the Primates' anti-gay initiative would start to unravel.
I'm afraid I think Justin was disingenuous on that occasion.
It led to the outgoing council members and Standing Committee (including the Chair) repudiating Justin's spin and misrepresentation. As he was there, it is pretty obvious that he knew the Primates' threatened consequences had not been accepted (even if the document itself was physically 'received').
It was misrepresentation, and worth losing a few night's sleep over. Politics to appease those Primates who threaten to walk out if their conscience is not imposed on everyone else's.
The discriminatory views of overseas societies seemingly have to be imposed on our Church here in England (and in Scotland, Canada, the US) and LGBT people get marginalised as a result. That is bad enough (it's very bad, diminishing, and a terrible witness) but the head of the Church of England tried to subvert the extent of 'walking together' when he misrepresented the Anglican Council's views, and I believe that was a very disappointing action because it seemed awfully near to outright lying. It was part of a spin culture more often associated with corporate management or damage-limitation politicians.
When did the church move from teaching people what is right according to Scripture to trying to find ways to accommodate opposing views within the same church? As Welby realises, it doesn't work. The church needs to get off the fence and either say
"As we understand Scripture same sex sex is 'deeply, deeply wrong' and our position on that isn't going to change. "
"As we understand Scripture, there is no difference between same sex marriages and any other marriage. The church will not support discrimination."
Welby is looking for a way in which he doesn't have to tell anyone they are wrong. On minor things that's an adult approach: on big issues it is a recipe for ever-escalating conflict.
"To applause, he said “I am constantly consumed with horror” at the way in which the Church has treated the gay community…"
But not sufficiently consumed with horror as to actually do anything about it, sadly.
Martin Luther King had Welby's number, of course.
"First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season.
Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."
Thinking someone rose from the dead used to be traditional...... Now it's just odd...
What else did Archbishop Justin have to say at the Greenbelt Festival on other issues? I'm sure he didn't confine what he had to say to this single issue alone. It would be refreshing if TA were to give a fuller and more comprehensive report on the Archbishop's address in its entirety.
@Interested Observer - a very well-chosen quotation
That King quote is just devastating. What a beacon of justice he was.
Justin is carrying both the cross of tradition and expectation. I think he wants to move forward but will not really be able to do so, until some provinces walk and 'we' can then face up to the fact that the Anglican Communion is a busted flush allowing 'us' to stop pretending its a global denomination. 'We' can then focus on C of E issues.
Who is the "we" that you refer to? 'We' are the members of the Church of England, and we believe a diversity of things about human sexuality. It is not either/or when it comes to the truth of what 'we' believe. It is both:
"As we understand Scripture same sex sex is 'deeply, deeply wrong' and our position on that isn't going to change."
"As we understand Scripture, there is no difference between same sex marriages and any other marriage. The church will not support discrimination."
Personally I suspect that the Church of England is divided almost exactly 50-50 on this subject, and it's pointless pretending there is a uniform view that represents what "we" believe. That would just be untrue.
My final comment or post on this thread. Unity in diversity is the only way we avoid a faction dominating everyone else. It's the only grown up way to handle this. Either that, or a schism into two churches, and the vast majority of people don't want that: most of us (whatever our views on sexuality) worship together, serve our elderly and community together, grieve together in death or illness, do loads of things as ONE church, in our local community and beyond.
"We" are all these people. It is us, it is our lives of service together, even with different views. And that involves grace and care, not church politics and demanding uniformity.
It works both ways. Neither group should impose their views on their friends and fellow servants in the community and the church. Conscience should be protected, because the two views (and probably others beside) are what WE believe in our Church. It's a simple truth, and the alternative - schism - is a terrible thing to contemplate, when we could simply agree to disagree, and carry on serving the needs of our communities, with kindness and devotion to Christ.
WE (both groups) are the Church. The ones who should leave are those who insist on imposing their views on everyone else. Schism is catastrophic. Those who want to dominate conscience or walk out... gun to everyone else’s head... should walk out if they choose. Everyone else can keep living and serving in their community, and loving one another even in differences. There are multiple views on what Scripture says. And views educated by conscience, science and experience as well.
The Church of England is not the only church, but it's the only church that ought to matter when the Church of England is deciding whether clergy in the Church of England can marry under the canons of the Church of England.
I could say "Church of England" a few more times, but that would belabor the point.
The Archbishop of Canterbury needs to stop worrying about the Communion so much.
Come home, Canterbury!
Susannah, can you see Mandela saying we should move from Apartheid being mandatory to it being optional? That's your suggestion in a nutshell. Instead of the Church as a whole saying "same sex couples not welcome" which at least looks like important principles of theology imposed nationally, we replace that with individual parishes saying "same sex couples not welcome" which just looks like institutionalised prejudice. In PR terms it is a disaster and I think Welby is astute enough to recognise that.
Inevitably you would get a tabloid running a story that a gay couple were not allowed a blessing in their local chocolate box church and had to travel down the road for a blessing in a city church hemmed in on all sides by modern buildings. It might be an unfair portrayal but it would be naive not to anticipate press coverage like that.
Consider how things are in the US TEC. Most dioceses are aboard with marriage equality; the General Convention has agreed. But no individual priest or parish can be forced to participate. The unfriendly dioceses are encouraged to find a solution for LGBT couples wanting to marry (it's not clear how graciously they do this). So, it's not completely uniform, there is still dynamic tension, which can be unsatisfactory to both sides. Still, I would argue to be able to live in that dynamic tension is an example of "good disagreement". It can be done.
Now, many conservatives did leave, at the level of individual parishes and a few dioceses, but this number is not nearly as high as the leavers like to claim. I've been told to my face by one woman active in our parish that she doesn't agree with "gay marriage", even though I'm gay and married. But she "puts up with it".
So can we live within a system where there are some disagreements? I think we can and do. As our bishop commented, after all the upsets and politics and harsh words of a few years ago, we're past it. It's no longer an issue here in our diocese, which turns its attention to social justice issues like homelessness and immigration. And we all agree on working together there!
I'll be honest: Justin cares about Africa: he doesn'tcare about Canada or the US or Scotland or...ot... In effect, he cares about people he agrees with, and he doesn't care about people like me -- who have been Anglican longer than he's been alive.
Bluntly, I simply don't believe in his anguish or his tortured nights or anything else he says on occasions like this. He's said things too often that turn out to be outright false or are, at best, "massaged" -- as the PR people say.
If he weren't ABC, then it would be his business, or perhaps tha of the CofE. As it is, he is trying to make it my business. He is in effect a thorn in the side of anglican fellowship globally.
"When did the church move from teaching people what is right according to Scripture to trying to find ways to accommodate opposing views within the same church?"
In England, 1559.
William, how did the Church of England draw back from the more exclusive Protestantism under Edward VI? To what extent did Elizabeth and her advisors consciously set out to hold onto catholic-inclined subjects? Where was the dividing line between deliberate prayer book ambiguity in its wording, to provide catholics with a conscientious let-out, and the undoubted persecution of catholics that continued during her reign? It's a subject that fascinates me, because the genius of Anglicanism seems to me to be its operation of grace and love through inclusion, and I feel that genius could be operative again today in a polity based on 'Unity in Diversity'.
I know this is a specialist subject of yours, and I'd be really grateful and interested in your responses to my questions, preferably in simple terms for a non-theological trained working nurse!
However, if you are busy, please don't worry :)
What is it about Archbishops in the Anglican Church that gives them the propensity to speak with 'forked tongues' on anything to do with sexuality?
Do you think it's the GAFCON influence? Or is it the mistaken idea that you cna actually fool some of the people even half of the time?
Words spoken at the liberal gathering of GreenFest need to be backed up with more than a sorry admission of fear of offending a group in the communion who have, after all, already assembled their own 'Primates' Council; issued their own manifesto: 'the Jerusalem Statement'; and refused to join in Eucharistic Fellowship with anyone they deem to be supportive of the inclusion of LGBTI Christians - active members of their Churches.
Is Evangelical Conservatism going to become a new "Mark of the Church of England"? Or will the majority of clergy and parishioners decide that justice for all is a truer mark of their Church?
"William, how did the Church of England draw back from the more exclusive Protestantism under Edward VI?"
Elizabeth and her advisors (Cecil primariy? Who knows?) - I don't know to what extent the queen was "calling the shots" or balancing out the varied urgings she must have been receiving from those whom she trusted and respected - seem to have desired a Settlement (a) that was fundamentally Protestant (and more Reformed than Lutheran), (b) that would not gratuitously offend those of conservative predilections (cf. the changes made in 1559 to what was basically a restored 1552 Prayer Book) and possibly induce some of the Marian bishops and senior clergy to accept another break with Rome (in which latter respect as regards the bishops it failed, since only Kitchen of Llandaff and Stanley of Sodor & Man, and about three suffragan bishops, went along with it), and (c) which could be represented to foreign Catholic princes and also German Lutheran ones as not "radical" or "extreme." Most of the new bishops of 1559 recognized it for what it was, and disliked it, but hoped that with time she would sponsor "further rteformation" (which she didn't).
"To what extent did Elizabeth and her advisors consciously set out to hold onto catholic-inclined subjects?"
I think that this motivated them to a considerable extent; and also, there was the Queens own preference, not exactly for a more "ritualistic" settlement than most of her new bishops (including Jewel - who thought that Zurich under Bullinger was the purest and best church seen on Earth since the days of the apostles, and a model for England to follow), but one that was more ceremonious and especially "music-friendly" than anything to be found in Reformed Switzerland. The Queen once told the Spanish ambassador that she wanted something like "the Augustanean confession, or much like it," and so in some respects she may have had more of an inclination to the ethos, if not the doctrine (since to me Article 29 - which the Queen vetoed in 1562 and approved only in 1571 - is directed against Lutheran eucharistic views, not Catholic ones) of the Lutheran Reformation rather than to the Reformed Reformation.
"Where was the dividing line between deliberate prayer book ambiguity in its wording, to provide catholics with a conscientious let-out, and the undoubted persecution of catholics that continued during her reign?"
I think that the Queen would have insisted that she persecuted/prosecuted Catholics for traitorous or seditious violation of the law (and she authorized, later on in the reign, the prosecution and execution of a few seditious separatist "Puritans" as well) while for many of her councillors the words of one of her judges at the treason trial of a Catholic priest - I forget whom or when - "your religion is itself treason" would have represented their views, and the policy which they would have liked to pursue. Elizabeth, famously, was made to state (in a phrase probably formulated by Francis Bacon in 1589) that she did not desire "to make windows into men's hearts" ("hearts," their personal religious predilections, not "souls," as it is often mistakenly quoted) which probably means that as long as they complied with the law (which meant going to church, but not necessarily going to communion) she would be content. It seems to me that the dropping of the petition from the Litany "From the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities ...) etc., and the alteration of the Words of Administration in the Communion Service were precisely the sorts of "conscientious let-out" to which you allude.
She did authorize the burning of five heretics, though, two Dutch Anabaptists, two anti-Trinitarians, and the eccentric Judaizing chiliast Francis Kett, a one-time Fellow of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, and nephew of Robert Kett the rebel leader of 1549.
Of course, in much of what I have written in these comments I am merely "channeling" the views of Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch. You might wish to read, especially, his Prothero Lecture of 2004 (published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society in 2005 with the title "Putting the English Reformation on the Map") and his essay "The Latitude of the Church of England," which (if the link works) you can read here:
Because they are afraid. I have become convinced that some of the Christians with the least faith or trust have the titles "Bishop," "Archbishop," "Metropolitan," and even "Archimandrite."
As soon as there is much investment of self-image, there is much failure of faith.
Thank you very much for that fantastic link on the Elizabethan Settlement and beyond. Very helpful, and I commend it to anyone else interested in the subject, and the early evolution of the Church of England. It's fascinating for the 'stasis' Elizabeth seems to have imposed (and brakes on further change), and her instincts for latitude; along with Hooker's later championing of 'probabilities', rather than scriptural certainties.
It's mainly interesting as a thesis, for the way it demonstrates the primary struggle going on *within* Protestantism, rather than with Catholicism. Calvinism, and puritanism, seemed more acute threats to the Settlement than Catholicism. Diversity of conscience was pretty much imprinted on the Church that Elizabeth controlled, as long as people kept their views to themselves.
As the author points out, it is all too tempting for us today to project back our own beliefs (400 years later) and 'identify' them retrospectively as founding markers of the Church of England.
Nevertheless, believing that God orders history, I tend to regard the reformation in England as distinctive, and the history of (later-to-be-called) Anglicanism as a conduit for a latitude of traditions, that have made the Church of England more varied than the world of puritanism (which is where it might have ended up if Elizabeth hadn't put the brakes on). And with variety comes the need for grace and co-existence. And that is something I think we need today, in a Church of widely divergent views, where conscientious divergence may be accommodated if we seek and pray for grace, for love, for respect of other people's consciences.
But that, of course, is exactly the kind of retrospective narrative that Professor MacCulloch warns us to be wary of.
I want a church that welcomes and accommodates liberals, catholics, evangelicals, puritans, carmelites, socialists, conservatives, charismatists, mystics, green christians, orthodox, housegroups, convents, cathedrals, and a wide expression of conscientious spiritualities offered latitude.
We achieve more as a team, as a body of many parts, as a community of diverse minds, than if we do what Elizabeth eschewed, and drive our church insistently down the route of uniformity.
Where there is diversity, we are compelled to fall back on the grace of God, where we are divided by dogma. And I think God can make us grow through that.
It's pretty rich to hear how horrified Justin is when he is engaged in persecuting his LGBT, married clergy. It's also hard to forget how he tried to spin the word "received" to deceptively suggested that ACC's Executive Council had accepted, agreed with, and/or supported the rant by the Primates, inappropriately demanding "consequences" on TEC.
One of the things revealed by ACC16 in Lusaka, and the Anglican Women's "Walking Together" statement, is that the grass roots level of the communion is completely disinterested in the sabre rattling and tension being created by the all-male primates. So let's remember that when people excuse Justin because he's trying to "hold together" the Anglican Communion, he isn't. The Communion is holding together IN SPITE of their leaders.
That says so much more about church than those preening "leaders." Some of those African primates are bona fide human rights abusers and/or cheerleaders for severe abuse. Justin could align with the grass roots and that would hold together the communion. He is choosing to prioritize the abusers over his own LGBT people AND the grass roots of the Anglican Communion. That is, indeed, horrifying.
I genuinely think that Welby has an awful job. He could make it easier for himself by concentrating on the job title and ditching much or all the communion stuff, but even so it would be challenging. He says, as I would expect, some things that I think are spot on, and other stuff that i think is misguided or wrong. Having said all that, the stuff he comes out with in this interview makes me cringe with embarrassment. It doesn't somehow ring true. There's a dissonance between what he says to this group that group, the other group, and a dissonance between word and action. I'm not talking only about LGBTI stuff, but about managerial and organisational matters too. I'd be hard put to itemise them all - I'm talking about my impressions.
William Tighe, very many thanks for your extremely interesting and helpful posts and for the link to Diarmaid MacCulloch's article The Latitude of the Church of England. I've not yet managed to locate the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, not even in the Bod, but I shall keep on trying.
Fr Ron and MarkBrunson: Yes I suspect that fear is at the root of the problem with conservative Evangelicals, though I'm not sure I would agree with MarkBrunson's comments re Bishops etc, self-image and failure of faith. You may be interested in an article in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2006 Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal? by Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr
"We achieve more as a team, as a body of many parts, as a community of diverse minds...
Where there is diversity, we are compelled to fall back on the grace of God, where we are divided by dogma. And I think God can make us grow through that."
Very well (lovely---and lovingly) stated, Susannah...with this one proviso.
As humans---as the Imago Dei, the kin of Jesus Christ---we are not just diverse "minds". We're diverse bodies, too: diverse in race, in gender, in physical abilities, in sexual orientation (what arouses our bodies) and in gender identity (the *most basic & personal* way we express our bodies to ourselves and the world).
I, too, wish a church that accomodates the differing mind-sets of spirituality that you list. But ALL of these spiritual mindsets MUST themselves accomodate our differing bodies. We're not more than a few centuries removed from the noxious "Children of Ham" racist mindset in the church. Still more recently, was it acceptable to see different physical abilities as a sign of blessedness (or lackof. Just Saturday I was at an ordination, where the feast of Henry Winter Syles was celebrated: a man who had to FIGHT to be ordained in the 1870s, when his deafness was seen as an ontological impediment). I need not even mention how the female body was seen as barrier (Good heavens, menstruation happening at the altar?! *gasp*) Today, it is gay bodies, and Trans bodies, who some would call unacceptably "fallen".
Our minds are nothing without our bodies. We cannot honor the God who created our diverse minds AND bodies, if we throw up barriers to some of them. Blessings!
I don't know that you were specifically directing me to the psychological study, but I wasn't actually addressing the question of homophobia.
I don't think Justin Welby *is*, in fact, a homophobe, simply a politician. Nor is homophobia relevant to why it is so important, even to homophobic bishops, et al., to keep telling lies about accepting gay people - Fr. Ron's forked tongue.
It's about power. If people leave, that's lesser numbers, less money, less power. They have no faith that there is God with them in suffering loss and humiliation for standing for the truths they claim to embrace. As a result, there is no truth they embrace, except numbers.
I speak from a position as a firm believer that the liberal interpretive Christianity and the conservative inerrant-text Christianity cannot remain in one ecclesiastical structure. They are, in essence, two different faiths, and it shows a cynical lack of faith for these senior clerics to be willing to sacrifice truth - whether it be that of the liberal or the conservative faith - for numbers. "Schism" is just a word. To fear it is irrational. If we called divorces "schisms," I wonder if the reaction would be the same. Tangential speculation aside, I believe these senior clergy use that scary word to keep people from doing what is necessary - divorce, for the best of all. God doesn't stop loving the con-evos for not being us, and God doesn't stop loving us for not being con-evos. Neither can prosper in the yoke that binds two opposing faiths to one another, while each *may* prosper on their own and time and distance will give time to heal, and eventually reconcile, as friends, if not immediate family.
So, what holds us in this hell of mutual destruction? Primatial, pontifical, clerical pride - lack of faith in anyone but themselves, in any well-being but their own. Worst of all, I doubt most of them even see it - it's a benevolently smiling pride, that really believes it is the Father that knows best, and has no awareness of its own fear at losing power and prestige.
Secondly, here is a link to a third article of MacCulloch's on the same subject, an article which takes a side-swipe or two at Anglo-Catholic historiography, "The Myth of the English Reformation," from the January 1991 issue of *The Journal of British Studies:
The article begins, "The myth of the English Reformation is that it did not happen, or that it happened by accident rather than design, or that it was halfhearted and sought a middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism; the point at issue is the identity of the Church of England. The myth was created in two stages, first in the middle years of the seventeenth century, and then from the third decade of the nineteenth century; and in either case it was created by one party within the church, largely consisting of clergy, with a particular motive in mind. This was to emphasize the Catholic continuity of the church over the break of the Reformation, in order to claim that the true representative of the Catholic church within the borders of England and Wales was not the minority loyal to the bishop of Rome, but the church as by law established in 1559 and 1662."
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