Thinking Anglicans

primates meeting: Monday

Updated Monday afternoon

The Associated Press issued Expectations low for Anglican meeting
Reuters has Anglicans could face schism over gay priests

Monday’s editorial in The Times (extract reprinted below the fold) is headed
Faith and hope
The Anglican Church needs to be firm but not inflexible on homosexuality
Ruth Gledhill provides a related news report in Anglican world leaders face walk-out at summit on gays

The Telegraph has several stories by Jonathan Petre:
Separate Communions for primates in gay clergy row
Archbishop is facing lost cause as he tries to prevent split in world Church
Liberals want to interpret the Bible their way

The Guardian’s Stephen Bates has two stories:
Archbishop fights to prevent split
Anglicans in tense effort to avoid split

BBC Northern Ireland has Anglican leaders meet in province

Toronto Globe and Mail has Anglicans grapple with rift over homosexuality

My own report for Anglicans Online can be read here:
The General Synod, the Windsor Report and the Primates Meeting

BBC Today Programme Real Audio segment: listen (4 minutes)

0744 The leaders of the world’s 38 Anglican churches begin a meeting today in Newry in which they’ll try to find a way of preventing a permanent split over homosexuality.

Belfast Telegraph Homosexuality top of the agenda at church conference

Extract from Times leader:

…If action is not forthcoming, an undisguisable schism is all but inevitable. This would be a regrettable outcome. It is one that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has sought to avoid. Having burnt his fingers through his own part in the abandoned scheme to install Jeffrey John as the suffragan Bishop of Reading, Dr Williams has since sought to put the unity of the Church ahead of pursuing radical and contentious initiatives.

He will, therefore, whatever his private instincts, attempt to convince the American Church and the Anglican Church of Canada (which has endorsed same-sex blessings) to step back from these practices pending further debate. The primates from these provinces would be wise to heed him. This is an argument not just about human sexuality but where authority lies in the Anglican community. Even those most sympathetic to the decision to appoint Bishop Robinson are aware that this was a unilateral decision, taken in calculated defiance of the established procedures for governing the Church. If this action were to be ignored, there would be little to stop other Anglican bodies engaging in their own, wildly different, interpretations of Scripture. Anglicanism would then be not so much a broad church as one with little shared basis.

It should not be necessary to suspend the North American Church, but that may be the only way to avert a much deeper schism. A “cooling-off period” would be welcome, before any final and potentially explosive move to expel these provinces. American Episcopalians are themselves split on this matter. If the issue is forced, the majority, feeling pressure from the laity, could return to the fold.

To assert this is not to endorse an unduly dogmatic line on homosexuality. There is more than one side to the discussion over how best to read the Bible on this question. What is obvious, nonetheless, is that the North American Church has rashly raised the stakes here, rather than proceeding with the measured caution that has ultimately allowed the Church to welcome women priests without a catastrophic split. This controversy will doubtless be revisited again and again. But unless the primates can agree on a way forward this week, there will not be a truly international Anglican Communion within which to conduct the debate.

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Karen B.
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Karen B.

Simon, as always, you provide an excellent and very helpful roundup. I enjoyed reading your piece in Anglicans Online. Your observation that the General Synod primarily provided their full support to Rowan Williams (as opposed to explicitly endorsing the recommendations of the WR) was an interesting one, and worth considering.

Thanks as well for all the helpful clarifications and information you frequently provide on Titusonenine, etc. It is good to have your voice in the Anglican blogosphere.

Nick
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Nick

Instead of debating and giving personal views, perhaps we should look at what God says in the bible, should we not…?

Pete
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Pete

Nick, how do we separate what God says from what we think He says, other than to talk about our personal views of the Bible? Even the words in that book are the personal views of the translators, who interpret the words they found, which are the words that some copyist transcribed, we hope accurately.

If we ever think we KNOW God’s will, we are probably wrong. It is in the interface between knowing and doubt that we find God.

Annie
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Annie

I’m tired of that lie, the one that claims that the more liberal among us put no authority in scripture. It is nothing less than bearing false witness against your neighbor and not loving your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbor you would listen when they tell you something because you would want for them to listen to you. If we could get past the fundamental dialogue of hatred (which is not Christlike), maybe we could get to the meat of the matter, what is clear to one and what is clear to another. … walk in love.… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
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Eric MacDonald

The Times Leader is interesting, but it ignores an aspect of the problem within the Anglican Communion that everyone (except perhaps Bishop Spong) seems determined to ignore. The decision of the American Church to ordain Gene Robinson, or of the Diocese of New Westminster to license the development and use of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex couples, happened after a decision at Lambeth 1998 that effectively closed discussion of theological issues related to homosexuality and the Church. The Leader says, very reasonably, that “There is more than one side to the discussion over how best to read the Bible… Read more »

David Rowett
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David Rowett

It’s always worth remembering that even within the Bible there are interesting examples of scripture being turned on its head – there’s one I can’t quite track down at the moment, but basically a line used in a negative sense in the OT is used positively in the NT…. Others with brain will spot it, I’m sure.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Try Ephesians 4 – ‘received gifts from men’ changes to ‘gave gifts to men’: the opposite, in a way. There are some instances where one has to reckon with the NT writers using the Septuagint not the Masoretic Text. From memory, Hebrews (quoting Ps. 40: ‘a body you have prepared for me’ replaces ‘my ears you have opened’).

David Rowett
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David Rowett

Ah, discovered the one I was thinking of – Job 5:13 has Eliphaz deploying the argument that God undoes the work of the wise, the line Paul then uses in I Cor 3:18. However, Eliphaz is condemned in Job for NOT accurately rendering God’s thinking…. Plenty of other of course, including God withdrawing his earlier support for genocide (IIKg 10:30 vs. Hos 1:4)

Not that Scripture-juggling has much to do with events in Ireland at the moment, but it’s good to ‘touch base’ occasionally with an awareness of the complexity of the scriptural tradition (whatever we decide ‘scripture’ means).

Dave
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Dave

Peter wrote “how do we separate what God says from what we think He says, other than to talk about our personal views of the Bible?……. If we ever think we KNOW God’s will, we are probably wrong. It is in the interface between knowing and doubt that we find God.” Hi Pete, Aren’t these just pretty experientialist words that really have little meaning? We may experience some occasional revelations in our struggles with faith, but live most of our life is actually lived in the light of what God (and life) has shown us – ie based on what… Read more »

Jake
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Then we should simply follow every word of the bible? Is that what I’m to understand some are suggesting? I may stone to death my disobedient son? God hates shrimp? Women should be silent in church? Slavery is an accepted practise? Polygamy and concubines are an option? Christians must follow some Jewish dietary restrictions? As you can imagine, that list can go on and on. On a number of issues we have reconsidered, in light of the culture in which it was written, many of the ethical and moral teachings in the bible. Jesus questioned the scriptures, as did Paul… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

The whole point of Jesus is that the New Testament (= new covenant) is a new constitution / dispensation from the old one (OT). So why is Jake writing as though we were still under the old one.

But we are under the new one, so why go against it?

david rowett
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david rowett

I do find the ‘dew dispensation’ argument problematic, given that the NT is decidedly ambivalent about the place of the OT (so-called) in Christianity. It can be used as a convenient get-out (as if the OT makes a distinction between ‘moral’ and ‘ritual’ anyway)to avoid us facing up to the inherent difficulties of applying LBA literature’s mores to C21.

And the clear teaching of the NT has a lot to say about the necessity of poverty and the non-permissibility of divorce, rather more than it does about homosexuality — which some exegetes would dispute is represented by the word ‘arsenowotsit’ anyway.

david rowett
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david rowett

Oops, that should have been ‘new dispensation’!

But Acts bans Christians from black pudding consumption (just as well I didn’t eat the one on my breakfast plate the other day) — you can’t use the OT/NT divide as a way off the hook, I think.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi David-

I love the way you write as though the black pudding is what clinches it. (Can’t stand them, personally…)