Comments: Archbishop of Uganda to boycott next Primates Meeting

Perhaps this means the Primates Meeting won't be an Instrument of Discrimination.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 3 August 2017 at 10:47pm BST

It's sad. My home church has had involvement in Uganda for 50 years or more. My first priest and his wife served there. We had a faithful link missionary there. We had Ugandan priests who would come and stay with us (Anthony will remember these connections).

My own middle daughter has worked in Uganda for 4 years. She is unpaid. She finances herself, with generous support from Christian friends. She is in her mid-twenties and she lives in a very poor district of Mbale, sharing a simple hut with a Ugandan woman. She is an inspiration to me. She works with Ugandan Christian women, running a prayer meeting, and alcohol support groups, and on the street with teenage girls.

It's a two way exchange, because what's been very moving has been the welcome, generosity and love this extremely poor community has given her. The poverty, which I hear about in prayer requests, is frankly harrowing. High death rates of children, wrapped for burial because they can't afford coffins. High teenage pregnancy rates and HIV. Widespread resort to alcohol, the product of despair. Abandoned women. Mothers unable to afford medical care for their children.

There is desperate poverty. My daughter knows nothing about theology. She has no view on homosexuality one way or the other. She simply feels compassion and personal involvement in a substrata of society who have taught her the meaning of community.

The 'Gafcon' archbishops have to be confronted with the reality that their obsession with sex is not going to stop other Provinces either accommodating LGBT values or affirming them. This brinkmanship by the English archbishops, and the 'Alice in Wonderland' pretence that the Church of England (let alone Scotland, Canada or the US) will somehow accept that only heterosexual marriage sanctions sex... neither helps... this problem is not going away.

And for goodness sake: you have corruption, you have abject poverty, you have abandoned women, you have desperate communities - and yet Archbishop Ngatali will break off relations because of disagreements about sex. It is very, very sad. We can love one another, even with diverse views. That's the Christian message: love.

My 26-year-old daughter gets that. She just gets on with it. She also gets the blessing of it. These leaders seem to be obsessed with demanding uniformity. They can't have that. There is none.

But there is love.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 3 August 2017 at 11:24pm BST

Move along, folks-nothing to see here. Is this even news. He and his GAFCON friends have been threatening to boycott or have already boycotted similar gatherings. Meanwhile they receive funding from wealthy American ACNA people to when'd support to their breakaway movement and even consecrate illicit bishops. It's amazing how an an African bishop can find himself in Illinois when summoned. I'm nt shedding any tears about this-their actions have already spoken.

Posted by Richard Grand at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 1:32am BST

Perhaps the Primate is too "tired and emotional" to add any "Ugandan discussions" to the debate?
So, "Trebles all round" as I for one won't be "Taking out the onion" at Stan's absence.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 5:11am BST

I hope and pray that the Primates who *do* attend will take on the resposibilities to Ugandan LGBT (and allied) Anglicans, since they're clearly being left in the lurch by their (putative) own Archbishop. Kyrie eleison.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 5:17am BST

On reflection, I wonder whether he "made it clear" before the Synod meeting in York? Or after?

If before, then the bishops' votes in York are more explicable.

If after, then the 50th anniversary statement is more so.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 6:41am BST

Very interesting watching this interview on the TV. The Archbishop of Uganda quite set in his aim of talking about refugees, and very strong that he would not be coming to the Primates meeting. On the other hand the Archbishop of Canterbury looked like a startled rabbit caught in the headlights. Very uncomfortable sitting on the fence with such sharp spikes. For the sake of the Church of England which he is supposed to guide, speak as he is; a westerner,

Fr John Emlyn

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 8:17am BST

Susannah,
will your daughter's work be threatened by this? I'm never quite clear to what extent the bravado at the top really has an impact on the ground?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 9:50am BST

Perhaps we should all be aware of the fact that Archbishop Ntgali might already be aware that the majority of Primates in the world's Anglican Communion would not give in to refusal to include homosexuals in his province of the Church, preferring them to be subject to civil criminal proceedings. This would cause acute embarrassment for him to attend the next Primates' Conference. Whether his decision will affect the attendence of other Gafcon Primates is yet to be seen, No doubt he will hope it does.

It should obvious by now, that Ntgali (aided and abetted by former Archbishop Peter Jensen of Australia) seeks the leadership of what he and his Gafcon friends regard as the rightful heirs of traditional Anglicanism. His personal protestation of orthodoxy and purity asd the reason for his absence from the Primates 'Meeting - maybe undergirded by a tincture of personal ambition - has now led him into the path of intentional schism from the Canterbury roots which were the foundation of the Anglican Church in Uganda.

I must confess that this situation is not surprising for those of us in the Communion, who have viewed with dismay the continuance of the endemic cult of homophobia and sexism beingpractised bt the Gafcon Primates.

After the recent declaration by the ABC and the ABY on the desire to include gay people as part of the Church; it seems about time that Gafcon declared their hand - implicit in this latest disregard for A.C. protocol - and actually made a clear statement of their intention to set themselves apart from the rest of us, who want to promote the Gospel of the Love of God in Christ to a needy world.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 10:04am BST

I wrote this on TA on 1 January 2014 as a comment on a Christmas Message. "I have met ++Stanley Ntagali and respect his ministry hugely but he is allowing his dioceses to be distracted by second order issues." It is hugely pejorative to suggest this, but I really feel a person, group, or other influence, is pulling his strings. The cost to mission in Uganda and elsewhere is incalculable. But maybe it needed at least one province to declare UDI, on a continent where UDI has been much studied in the last. This all has implications for how the CNC works, but I am not going to develop that theme now.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 11:21am BST

Thanks, Susannah, an important point. I think governments often try to distract people from society's problems by stigmatising a set of people - ethnic minorities or LGBTI people, asylum-seekers or disabled people and so forth - and churches sometimes play along.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 1:14pm BST

re Anthony Archer's message:

There can be little doubt about the Sydney Anglican influence - as well as that of moneyed fundamentalists in North America - have a lot to do with Ntagali's movement towards severance from the more liberal Canterbury/Lambeth alliance

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 5:47pm BST

Yawn

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 7:34pm BST

@Savi and Susannah: distracting people by stigmatizing a specific group was done in Hitler's Germany. Now it's being done to immigrants, transgendered people, people of co,our, and others by Trump in the U.S.

Posted by Richard Grand at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 7:56pm BST

Ntagali's got one ace in the hole: the Uganda Martyrs, converts executed in the 19th century for refusing to have sex with their king. Over on Ian Paul's blog*, this special pleading appeared to work on 'Guardian' writer Andrew Brown (I asked him to clarify, but he'd left the discussion by that point). It's a potent weapon to deploy against progressives terrified of showing cultural insensitivity to indigenous cultures.

Wouldn't be surprised if it's deployed here. A natural-born bossman, Ntagali's got serious game, and if it's not matched, he may well succeed in imposing his agenda on the wider communion.

* https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/what-is-at-stake-for-the-church-and-same-sex-marriage/

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 9:21pm BST

Interesting reflections being shared in this thread.

To be fair, I think we need to acknowledge profound cultural differences between Uganda and the UK, which is precisely why a one-size-fits-all Covenant-style imposed uniformity is a blunt instrument that simply can't work. It's also why polity in the Church of England should not be developed as a Communion-wide solution: our Archbishops are Archbishops of the Church of ENGLAND and they need to embrace and address English cultural concerns.

Conversely, and to be fair, I am not trying to demonise and 'other' Stanley Ngatali. He is faithful, he is on Anthony's reporting a decent, well-intentioned person. He also has to address the cultural contexts of his own Province (would that our Archbishops would do the same and stop trying to play global and political chess). I've said all along, I respect that it's possible - in good faith and sincere conscience - to disagree with gay and lesbian sex, based on a theological position. So in a sense, Stanley is being consistent to the logic of his beliefs and his own assumptions. In addition, one cannot underestimate the huge social problems and challenges that church communities and pastors face in Uganda - the condition of many poorer communities is absolutely pitiful. And just because Stanley is taking his stand on LGBT issues (disproportionately I suspect) doesn't take away from all the faith and service that Ugandan Anglicans demonstrate in parish after parish at the local level.

Which brings me to your question, Erika, about my daughter's work. As she self-finances herself (she's a qualified teacher, and a term's work here in the UK can help her subsist for 18-24 months in Uganda) and her work is community-based, any breach of fellowship with her Anglican home church will not effect her life and shared community in Uganda. Thankfully, that stands or falls on the community solidarity and the raw day-to-day needs of people, living together, and trying to include a faith context to harrowing problems and tragedies. (That includes elements of tribal and political unrest - eight of their straw-roofed huts were burnt down in unrest, an there have been some further occasional incidents: she works with a racial minority group.)

My point is that the realities of Ugandan life raise more pressing desperate needs than what people do in their bedrooms. I just feel saddened, because, well, Psalm 133.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Friday, 4 August 2017 at 10:22pm BST

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali understands that fake outrage, when timed with Archbishop Welby and BBC in tow, will get media attention. Its a double whammy, he gets attention in the UK and slams the ABC all in one move.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 2:50am BST

"It is hugely pejorative to suggest this, but I really feel a person, group, or other influence, is pulling his strings."

Perhaps unintentionally, that is somewhere between the racism of low expectations and a more benign intellectual colonialism. When Christian Concern start threatening the CofE with legal and procedural havoc over same-sex marriage, no-one (or at least, no-one on TA) starts arguing that Andrea Minichiello Williams is basically decent but is having her strings pulled to distract her from her basically decent purposes. They, rightly, assume she's a homophobic bigot with time on her hands, pursuing her idee fixee with no concern for whom she hurts.

So, why are black African bishops accorded a "well, they don't really think the things they say, they're more decent than that, they are being influenced by _shadowy_ _force_ (thunder on sound track, clouds over image)" excuse which is not given to white barristers? Most of the African bishops are educated men who know exactly what they are saying, so Occam's Razor says they are saying these things because they believe them. They should be held to the same standard of account as every one else, not have excuses made for them. They know exactly what they are saying, and are saying it because it's what they believe.

Posted by Interested Observer at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 9:26am BST

"Mr Ntagali says the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman - and that the growing Ugandan church will not remain in fellowship with those who support same-sex unions. “This is the basis of our faith and it is founded in the Scriptures,” he explains."

Archbishop Ntagali is correct, of course... what's more it isn't just "the Bible" but *Jesus Himself* (quoting from Genesis 1 and 2) who defines marriage as a male-female union: "Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

Repudiating Jesus and His Apostles is the definition of Apostasy - a first order issue - so why is the Archbishop not within his rights?

Posted by RevDave at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 8:39pm BST

I agree that Ntagali's responsible for his own actions, Interested Observer. Western conservatives have, however, been heavily involved in whipping up, well, let's just say an extremely unforgiving attitude to homosexuality in Uganda.*

I've previously said that culture's no excuse when someone's as well-educated and well-traveled as Ntagali, but I may've given insufficient weight to the cultural ramparts he must conquer if he's to ever revise his opinion of LGBT people. From birth, he's taken it as given that homosexuality's against God's will. Disagree as vehemently as I do, I can't be at all confident that I'd break through that cultural programming.

Does nothing to undermine the case for universal human rights in the false cause of cultural relativism; but does, perhaps, mitigate Ntagali's actions. Those without that background, who rocked up in Uganda to preach their gospel of wrath, have no such excuse.

* https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 10:31pm BST

"...why is the Archbishop not within his rights?"

Stanley is within his rights to believe whatever his conscience tells him... what he is not within his rights to do, is impose his conscience on other people, other Christians, who have other views, also conscientiously believed.

There is no uniformity in the Anglican Communion on human sexuality - and anyway, each Anglican province is independent and operates within its own cultural setting.

So Stanley needs to come to terms with the fact - that he's not going to get his way, and demand other Anglicans all believe the same as him. Either he can seek grace and love in fellowship, and keep loving his fellow Christians in their diversity; or he can of course separate from them. That is entirely his decision.

Frankly, and from my daughter's own experience of Uganda's desperate needs, and countless needs of old age, poverty, and ill health which our nations all share, whatever our differences, I'd say he's better to keep fellowship and stop grandstanding on the single, and obsessive subject of people's sex lives.

The Anglican Church in England is split down the middle on this issue. There's no uniformity. It doesn't exist. So Stanley is talking about an unrealisable outcome with regard to England, Scotland, Canada, the States. Yet we can co-exist, and love one another, and should.

At the end of the day, nobody is forcing Stanley to jump into bed with another man. But God is still calling him to seek bonds of fellowship, love, co-operation, and the practice of the great commandment across so many fields of human need. If we can't agree on all of them, we can at least agree on many.

We should stop this (dare I say it) rather masculine-seeming posturing and macho grandstanding. We should stop demanding everyone is the same. We should stop trying to dominate one another's consciences. We should just recognise that sometimes people have differing views on things - and then we should still keep on seeking unity in Christ. And opening our hearts to love and service (which is what my daughter does in Uganda, without deep theological arguments or angst about homosexuality). And in short, maybe, and sorry to say it, grow up.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 11:13pm BST

Re: RevDave:

But (apologies for an old argument) Jesus' words also assume the Davidic authorship of the Psalms, a tricky one when it comes to the ones fashioned in the exile. Or does that somehow become a second order matter?

There's some rigour missing here which concerns me, and it feels as though there's an inconsistency of hermeneutic. Or am I (quite genuinely) missing something?

I do know that the Matthew 22 passage has been used as a proof text in the past to 'prove' the necessity of believing the Psalms to be Davidic. Has that now been dropped? And if one, why not t'other?

Posted by David Rowett at Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 11:21pm BST

"Ntagali's got one ace in the hole: the Uganda Martyrs...for refusing to have sex"

Any ordained minister who can't see the *difference* between consensual sexual relations and RAPE is not (as the Brits say) "fit for purpose". I am DONE w/ this conflation!

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 4:44am BST

Jesus is ***talking about divorce*** RevDave. And I strongly suspect you know that. (Who's "repudiating Jesus" here?)

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 4:53am BST

@RevDave: you're engaging in circular reasoning. You have to make a passage about the permanent nature of marriage and the consequent command against divorce do a lot of work to read it as Jesus defining marriage in all contexts for all time. If you (and +Stanley) want to go after people for repudiating Christ's teaching in that passage, go after the remarried divorcees, not the faithfully married same sex couples.

Posted by Jo at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 7:45am BST

Interestingly, in the midst of this latter conversation; the 'Marriage Feast of The Lamb"has nothing at all to do with gender or sexuality - and is yet called a marriage feast. This marriage has more to do with our commonality together with one another in Christ.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 11:44am BST

Couldn't agree more, JCF, and I made exactly that point below the line on the Psephizo piece linked earlier.

The martyrs argument did, however, appear to impress a liberal journalist from the 'Guardian' newspaper. It's contemptible, but it shouldn't be underestimated.

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 6:38pm BST

David (Rowett) I expect Jesus in Matt 22 says "David calls him ‘Lord,’" because He is referring to Psalm 110 and verse 1 of Psalm 110 says "Of David. A psalm." (in the Hebrew)...

JCF and Jo, Jesus was defining marriage *in order* to explain why "unmarrying" (divorce) is against God's will. So Jesus *was* defining marriage... and He referred *twice* to it being a male-female relationship!

Susannah and others: The only thing that counts is not what I believe, or what you believe, but what God believes. He makes us male or female biological creatures - and, objectively, that is what we. I agree that we should not impose our own perspectives - but isn't that what current "liberal" society is trying to do - imposing peoples subjective perceptions of identity and marriage, rather than leaving these based on objective facts?

Posted by RevDave at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 7:52pm BST

"The only thing that counts is not what I believe, or what you believe, but what God believes."

No true Christian should presume to know "what God believes...."

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 10:23pm BST

God out on the golf course when intersex people are born, RevDave?

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 10:50pm BST

"He makes us male or female biological creatures - and, objectively, that is what we."

In point of objective, scientific fact, RevDave, there are intersex people.

See https://unfe.org/system/unfe-65-Intersex_Factsheet_ENGLISH.pdf

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 6 August 2017 at 10:54pm BST

Re: several posts above on Jesus and divorce, and the notion of, from God's mouth to Jesus' ear arguments, such an approach is contestable for sure. Note the earliest reference in Mark 10, are these the actual words of Jesus? See, just for example, the note on Mark 10:12 in the REB Oxford study edition, " The verse probably reflects a Gentile environment, since Jewish law provided only for divorce initiated by the husband." In some ways, Jesus may be offering a better deal to women in a patriarchal context by limiting the ability of men to throw away their wives like an empty beer can.

Whatever the case, we have to get past the notion that just because Jesus is presented in the gospels as advocating a particular view in a particular context, that we are bound by that everywhere and always. It well be that translating advice attributed to Jesus into a modern context is morally problematic or even morally reprehensible. Divorce from an abusive situation may well be a a desired good in modern context, the view in and from antiquity notwithstanding.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 7 August 2017 at 12:28am BST

Is Jesus defining? Or is Jesus describing what his listeners assumed to be true, in order to make his point?

Posted by Jo at Monday, 7 August 2017 at 11:07am BST

@RevDave: "Objective facts" are not necessarily either objective or a fact. What we may perceive as a fact is often coloured by the culture and context we impose or by what we wish to see. Your best male friend (or female one) may have a life or identity that they present to you or that you assume, but their reality may be quite different. People may confor to society's expectations, but are not what they seem.

Posted by Richard Grand at Monday, 7 August 2017 at 2:38pm BST

Well said, Rod.

As RevDave surely knows, the Gospels aren't verbatim reports, they're collections of sayings, passed down, edited, and sometimes invented by the early church. Even if they were verbatim, they're translated into Greek from Aramaic, and translation's interpretation.

But let's say, for sake of argument, that we possessed Aramaic originals of Jesus' own words. Even the orthodox position holds that, whatever else he was, Jesus of Nazareth was fully human: meaning that he was a man of his time, shaped by his own culture, and as capable as error as any of us. If Jesus did ban divorce in all circumstances, then Jesus was wrong.

Posted by James Byron at Monday, 7 August 2017 at 2:49pm BST

"translation's interpretation."

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Brecht_HUAC_hearing_(1947-10-30)_transcript

Brecht is asked "whether or not he wrote, a poem, a song rather entitled "Forward, We've Not Forgotten"."

He demurs, and asks for it to be read.

A poem is read.

"No, uh I wrote a German poem, but that is very different (Audience Laughter) from this thing."

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 8 August 2017 at 9:55am BST

Thanks Rod, Jo, James et al.

I think this highlights the serious differences within the CofE over the authority of our Scriptures and the person and teachings of Jesus.

If Jesus is "the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;" then it is impossible that Jesus could be wrong. And rejecting His word is an act of rejection of who He is.

Hence Jesus says: "The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.’ (John 12:48-50 NRSV).

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 8 August 2017 at 6:24pm BST

Regarding intersex, the NHS website says: "Disorders of sex development (DSDs) are a group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals don't develop as expected.". The various intersex conditions are caused by genetic / developmental *disorders* - they are not normative.

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 8 August 2017 at 6:33pm BST

Re: RevDave "...then it is impossible that Jesus could be wrong. And rejecting His word is an act of rejection of who He is." Several problems here (1) its a tautology and it begs the question (2) could Jesus be wrong? Wrong about what? There is a good argument he was wrong about the imminence of the end time for instance. (3) One cannot argue that Jesus the man was all knowing based on the notion that God is all knowing, to do so goes well beyond the "bible truth" you seek to advance (4) you must continue to finish the sentence you introduced i.e. "...by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made [hu]man. " Classical synthesis of the two natures understands that the logos "took on" human nature, to take it on fully, completely, allows for at least the possibility of being wrong, mistaken, or limited in knowledge just as it allows for the actuality of growth and maturity, temptation, suffering and death.

Besides, with regard to divorce (e.g. Mark 10) it is not a question of Jesus being wrong or right in an unqualified sense. His answer to a question in a debate about the law may be an effective and challenging answer in that context ( although his original words even in Mark may have undergone expansion) but that does not in and of itself make it a rule universally applicable. You appear to confuse being wrong with being contextually applicable.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 8 August 2017 at 8:49pm BST

RevDave, you have missed the point. It is not about "serious differences within the CofE over the authority of our Scriptures and the person and teachings of Jesus," it's about people with enormous integrity who have come to the conclusion that Scripture does not say what you want it to say. Jesus told us not to judge, but you feel qualified to misinterpret a passage from Jesus about divorce to "prove" your point of view. Jesus told us to love our neighbor and do to the "least of these," while you feel qualified to exclude LGBTQI people.

It would be a step forward to have a bit of humility and recognize that the liberal side also holds dear Scripture. We just think it is about the Good News for all people everywhere, and not the Bad News of exclusion, injustice, and hate at the discretion of the status quo.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 8 August 2017 at 10:06pm BST

I think we should be very, very careful about arguments which consist of "Broad Sweeping Claim; here's an exception; that's not normative so it doesn't count".

At a human level, it is grossly excluding: this isn't the place for the debate about Caster Semenya, Dutee Chand and the nuanced definition of "female" for the purposes of athletics, but dismissing or trivialising the issue as "not normative" is hugely unhelpful.

At an intellectual level it's dishonest: so far as we know, all even integers greater than two are the sum of two primes (the Goldbach conjecture) but its near three hundred-year reign will end the moment someone finds an even integer that isn't, and you don't get to say "oh, that's not normative".

And returning to our main discussion, it's also got an extremely unpleasant history: the main rearguard battle that the Christian Concern and Anglican Mainstream headbangers are trying to fight is to exclude same-sex relationships from the discourse of normative human behaviour. And no, I'm not putting words into their mouths:

http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/same-sex-marriage/spiritually-discerning-the-redefinition-of-marriage

"But if marriage can be redefined and bishops may support such a notion, or if homosexuality can be seen as normative, then there is no logical reason why two consenting adults in such a legally incestuous relationship (either by blood or marriage) covered here by Paul, should be in any way reproached or subject to sanction in the church."

So I'm sorry, RevDave, but the claim that people are unambiguously male or female and the exceptions don't count doesn't pass muster. Intersex people exist.

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 10:47am BST

Well said, Cynthia. It beggars belief that we can still be spending time on the question of the infallibility/limitations of Our Lord's human knowledge which were addressed at the end of the nineteenth century, notably by Charles Gore's lead towards a Kenotic (self-emptying) Christology. Do we still need to learn that the gospels were not written as modern-style biography?

What you say illustrates yet again that until we are prepared to deal in an adult manner with the scriptures we will be brought to a standstill at every point by fundamentalists who will not budge from an irrational, unhistorical, literalist interpretation of scriptural texts. I was brought up in the Free Church tradition, and learned there that it was perfectly possible to read the scriptural writings devotionally but also critically.

Posted by Barry at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 11:24am BST

Thank you so much, Interested Observer. Brilliantly expressed.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 11:27am BST

I also share Barry's point on Fundamentalism. We have seen the effects of fundamentalism - based on a literalist approach to religious text - which can drive people to terrible extremities.

If we don't approach the Bible critically (in an intelligent, literary criticism sense) then are we to believe that Noah gathered the tree frogs in then unexplored Amazonia, the koalas from Australia, the polar bears from the arctic, giant tortoises from the Galapagos (how did he get there?), penguins from Antarctica, the lemurs from Madagascar?

Are we to assume that Adam had no ancestors? And that death only came into the world when Eve sinned (in which case, how come the dinosaurs died out millions of years before humans even existed)?

Are we to believe that Jonah was literally swallowed by a whale? Or that God literally ordered the ethnic cleansing of the Canaanites - or the stoning of people for religious infringements? Or that Moses literally wrote the first books of the Bible?

As for Jesus - the only words we know he wrote were a few scratchings in the sand as men threatened to stone the 'adultress'. He is an enigma in history - represented by devoted but fallible followers, trying to make sense out of who he was. Did they literally remember Jesus's long speeches in the book of John, word for word? How? Do we know for sure that all Jesus's words are literally recalled and understood, as Jesus meant them? Didn't he often speak in parables, and draw people in to deeper meaning? Did he not (reportedly) make clear that the absolute imperative is: love? That everything he was trying to teach, was about opening up to the reality of love?

The Bible is a deeply profound set of writings - touched by encounters with God. Yet it does appear to be written within the contexts and limitations of the people, times, and cultures in which it emerged.

Isn't the challenge of Jesus for us to open up deeper and deeper to love, in our own times, in our own culture and communities, in the context and knowledge we now have of history, geology, psychology, the universe?

Or else we risk rigidity, dogma, fundamentalism - even desire for apocalypse to wipe out the dark sins of humanity. In this way, religion can - and does - cast a dark shadow over people's lives.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 1:23pm BST

"I think this highlights the serious differences within the CofE" -- while we commend empirical facts, this is surely one of them.

The real question is how these views disentangle and go their ways. People going on with slogans about "fundamentalism," ignorance, the fallible Jesus etc are who they are, but at their peril they risk misundertanding the character of the struggle before the CofE with self confident dismissals. This may end up being the real hallmark of the collapse of the CofE. We-know-betterism and condescension. Straw men and straw arguments.

Posted by crs at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 2:19pm BST

Hi Rod and Barry, we seem to be highlighting ever more the gulf between the orthodox Christian understanding and current liberal reasoning.

We are not talking about whether Jesus was omniscient but whether He was *one with the Father* and *spoke the Father's words*. Yes His teachings have historical particularity, and when the circumstances are genuinely different we may find that *the principles behind what He teaches* apply differently. But that doesn't mean that His teaching was "wrong".

However, on this issue it is not the particular application (divorce) that we are discussing - it *is* the *principles* on which He based His moral reasoning!! "from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' " and “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

If we think we are free to redefine the principles He based His teaching on then in what sense do we call Jesus Lord?

I'm all for biblical criticism in order to better understand what the Scriptures originally meant, and for reasoned hermeneutical approaches to applying them in (genuinely) different contexts but, in the end if He is Our Lord then He stands over us, not us over Him. As Jesus said: "Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you?"

Posted by RevDave at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 2:37pm BST

Hi Interested Observer, did I say that intersex people don't exist or don't count, aren't really intersex, aren't equal? No I did not. I was born on the intersex spectrum (just) myself. So I know from experience, and don't feel in the least diminished by the biological facts that intersex is the exception - due to genetic or developmental disorders - not the norm.

Posted by RevDave at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 2:51pm BST

RevDave and others should revisit the Galileo settlement: it wasn't about what the Scripture "said" but about how it was to be interpreted. For a time the church pressed the matter that the sun running about from one end of the world to the other had to be understood literally, in spite of any real evidence to the contrary. Eventually the church was able to secure the "authority" of Scripture but accept the fact that the authority was interpretative, and that interpretation is a living phenomenon.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 3:23pm BST

RevDave, I cannot speak for Rod, who will speak for himself, but I do object to a wedge being driven between "orthodox Christian understanding" and "current Liberal reasoning". I am more than happy to recite the creeds, which should make me orthodox enough. I believe fully in the Incarnation and the Bodily Resurrection, but I do not see why that must bind me to a particular view of the scriptures or the historical Jesus. If Jesus is to be my Lord, then it will be in his Lordship as the Risen and Ascended Christ, speaking to me now. I am not bound by Mathew's Jesus, or Mark's or Luke's or John's, though I must learn from them. These were interpretations of community memory of Jesus when they were written. And I am certainly not bound to positions on which he said nothing, as (at present) in matters of same-sex relations!

Susannah, I always enjoy reading your contributions. You constantly recall us to true Christian charity, which reminder we sorely need.

So, Susannah and Dave, God bless you both. If we can agree that we desire to be turned toward Christ despite differences then there is hope for us all. And let us remember that theology, like dogma and scripture, is a human construct, so we are all going to be both right and wrong. That is for God to know.

Posted by Barry at Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 11:04pm BST

Re: RevDave, "...the gulf between the orthodox Christian understanding and current liberal reasoning." This is a political statement and a false dichotomy.

The more dogmatic tendency in this regard would be found on one of those rather apoplectic Anglican web sites that claim to be the world wide voice of some sort of "orthodoxy" or other.

I accept the nascent creedal/mythological insight, "Jesus is Lord". In fact I am preaching on that in part the coming Sunday re Romans.

We have been around this block many times on this site. Reprise my comments on previous threads.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 12:53am BST

"Hi Rod and Barry, we seem to be highlighting ever more the gulf between the orthodox Christian understanding and current liberal reasoning."

No, RevDave, we're "highlighting ever more the gulf between" orthodox *Anglican* understanding, and Christianist *Fundamentalism*.

There are so many Fundamentalist denominations: you're welcome to choose one. However, orthodox *Anglican* understanding, is based upon Scripture, Tradition and Reason. To declare that Jesus's injunction on (ancient Israelite) divorce somehow condemns same-sex marital relations, fails on *all 3* legs of the stool. Vaya con Dios!

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 3:14am BST

As a Greek Orthodox convert to Anglicanism, I have to shake my head at RevDave's claim of "orthodoxy." Again, in this context, "orthodoxy" is narrowly defined as what RevDave wants it to be and no other definition matters, alas, orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder. It was once "orthodox" to support slavery, anti-semitism, and burning heretics.

Also as a Greek, I find the interpretations of English translations of the Bible sorely lacking in rigor and intellectual honesty about what we know and don't know. Real orthodoxy also has to come from prayer, and I just can't imagine God coming to people and telling them to be exclusive gate keepers against LGBTQI people. My God has a different message, the Good News to all people everywhere (word for word translation of the Greek about the Incarnation).

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 3:50am BST

Re JFC at 3:14 am and Cynthia at 3:50 am, astute observations by you both. RevDave's argument is representative of a type of argument that consistently sidesteps the historical issues and opts instead for a kind ahistorical and therefore metaphysically orphaned Jesus. Good luck with that "RevDave" (and all the other RevDave types out there) whoever you are.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 8:38am BST

Apropos the actual thread in question, I suspect the question isn't whether Uganda attends, or even any of the Gafcon group -- which is unlikely. The more weighty question is whether other members of the Global South group, who have tried to make the best of it, decide to stay away, most notably SE Asia, Burundi, Indian Ocean, Middle East (its own special case now), and so on.

One obvious strategy is to paint a special symbol on the smaller Gafcon grouping and speak of extremes on R and L. The risk is that the so-called middle disappears. My hunch is this is already happening. I would wager SE Asia politely demurs to attend. If the attendance consists of 20-25 out of 38, the strategy will have fallen afoul of more polite withdrawal more widely.

Of course many want the CofE to be a national church without any role for the ABC beyond that. That may end up as the default anyway. He already has enough to do managing lines of division within the CofE itself. Adf these same lines often extend to different understandings of global anglicanism on both ends of the spectrum. I suspect the only real question is timetable.

Posted by crs at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 10:06am BST

Much as I should like to see the Anglican Communion hold together in bonds of love, that is not actually the Archbishop of Canterbury's remit. This is not the British Empire.

The Archbishop's primary responsibility is towards the province to which he/she has been called.

Of course, as TEC has found out, relationships with other Anglican provinces can become fraught when issues of justice and sexual inclusion result in differences with other Anglican provinces.

That is not grounds to stop pursuing justice and sexual inclusion.

If certain provinces choose to boycott a gathering of Primates, really, that honestly is their choice. I think it's sad if they do.

But the problem is not the English people and the English church. The problem is lacking the grace and wisdom to live with differences, and still love and love and love.

Considering the harrowing poverty and health needs and sheer sad desperation so many people find themselves in... can the Primates not find the grace and grown up compassion to say... if only to agree on these issues and our heavy burdens of care for so many people... we shall meet.

Or does dogma and church politics create a necessity to alienate ourselves from one another?

We *have* to stop trying to dominate one another's consciences. We have to learn how to co-exist with people we don't completely agree with. We ought to be modelling good disagreement to the world around us.

So, yes, certain Primates may choose not to attend. But justice is an absolute imperative. England urgently needs to sort out its handling of sexual respect and diversity of views. And the Archbishops of York and Canterbury need to address these issues as they unfold in England. They can't keep treading on eggshells, desperately trying to appease overseas provinces.

There is no longer an Empress of India, or a king ruling over the Gold Coast. Maybe we still have the Falklands/Malvinas for a while longer. The United States was lost to us 200 years ago.

Each province has a duty to find their path towards serving their communities, in the context of their culture and their needs. TEC and Canada and Scotland have recognised this. With regard to relations with other Provinces... true relationships only start working when we are honest with one another, not when you appease, and give way, and deny your own identity.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 11:40am BST

"The Archbishop's primary responsibility is towards the province to which he/she has been called."

Susannah, I think that is true as a normative matter. I doubt, however, that the present Archbishop or his immediate predecessor would agree with us.

I don't know whether it's pride of position ("first among equals") or Her Majesty's nostalgia (if any) that is the sticking point. But Lambeth seems to care about the Communion more than about England.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 10 August 2017 at 8:54pm BST

"The Archbishop's primary responsibility is towards the province to which he/she has been called."

And the Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted the responsibilities given to him vis-a-vis Primates Meeting, Anglican Consultative Council, and Lambeth Conference, which are considerable. No other Primate had the role he exercised in South Sudan recently.

He might have said No; he could say No now and withdraw; or the various Provinces could conclude it is time politely to gravitate toward other arrangements.

But it is surely wrong to declare these roles and responsibilities invented by those who want to "interfere" in some ways in indigenous realities.

In short, if the CofE wants +Canterbury to operate solely in the role of indigenous AB, it should move in that direction. Many outside of the CofE may well believe this would be a good idea all around. But it is the ABC who holds the cards in the present configuration as well as in its formal furtherance.

It is for this reason that the options presenting themselves for Provinces are simply to gravitate toward other arrangements.

Posted by crs at Friday, 11 August 2017 at 7:31am BST
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