Thinking Anglicans

Divine divisions

Today’s Guardian carries yet another piece about the Anglican Communion. This time it is editorial opinion, and is entitled Divine divisions.

The concluding part:

…Lambeth’s gamble is that, faced with the enormity of allowing the next 10 years to be dominated not by ministry but by schism, with all that implies by way of painful, wasteful rows and expensive lawyers, the US conservatives will have to face up to the fact that they cannot sustain themselves apart. With the prospect of meaningful negotiation, the liberals will back off too. At that point the two sides may finally begin to engage with one another, and try seriously to find a common way through their difficulties. If the US church calms down (the Canadians are cited as the model of temperate conduct), there is a chance at least for a world-wide lowering of the temperature. But it could all too easily go the other way. Here, the Church of England is already dangerously divided and open to ideas of parallel jurisdictions. Its traditionalists certainly appear ready to seize the opportunity, in tandem with the African churches and other conservatives, of capturing the heart of Anglicanism. It’s not surprising, then that liberals are already talking of making common cause with the North American churches and warning that division could sever the church from the very top down to the humblest parish.

The best hope for avoiding the schism of which Dr Williams warned lies in redefining the argument. Lambeth would like the rival factions to understand that the row between two fundamentally opposing points of view is superficial. What happens next is not about gay bishops, nor same-sex weddings, nor polygamy. Rather it is about the church’s architecture and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by its constituent parts. Faced with the terrifying idea of first establishing and then policing the doctrinal purity for the core churches implicit in the twin-track approach, the rival factions are being challenged to stop it happening. In the end, though, Dr Williams will have to choose between unity – and bigotry.

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The Anglican Scotist
14 years ago

A charming article, but, I am afraid, out of touch with reality. The Episcopalian right believes (1) the acts of GC2003 imply the denial of the Creeds and doctrine essential to the kerygma, and (2) they see GC2003–even GC2006–as the fruition of long-standing tendencies in ECUSA to apostasy; some go so far as to say liberal ECUSAns are no longer Christian, with one calling ECUSA the Bride of Satan. Right wing leaders contribute to this extremist mindset, with some implying GC2003 was the moral equivalent terrorism or the second Iraq War. I am afraid the Episcopalian right finds its Cave… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

The comment “The best hope for avoiding the schism of which Dr Williams warned lies in redefining the argument. Lambeth would like the rival factions to understand that the row between two fundamentally opposing points of view is superficial.” represents a naive hope. The puritans do not consider this to be superficial, this is the core of their argument. That God excludes the afflicted and women from the inner sanctum of God’s knowledge and grace, and that the church should reflect this. There are “liberals” (a real mish-mash of people who suddendly find themselves being called like each other when… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

This article seems to go along the same line as the interview with Christina Rees: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/07/02/do0207.xml I think that there is some considerable truth in the assessment that slow progress, and resistance to change, would favour the liberals and the ‘heirarchy’.. and how nice if ECUSA could turn out to stil be “in” after all – because the ground rules have changed and they “can’t” be excluded until a covenant is in place, rather than for having failing to adequately comply with the [rather minimal] Windsor requirements ! However, Ms Ree’s judgement is at best suspect, I think. Wasn’t it… Read more »

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

I’ve got to agree with The Anglican Scotist and Cheryl that the “right”/”puritans” sees the issue as more than a matter of the “church’s architecture and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by its constituent parts”. It’s a matter of the authority of the Christian Scriptures and the deadly seriousness of sin! However, accusations such as “liking Caves” and “bigotry” are just lazy pieces of mud-slinging. I think that debate with “conservatives” like me -who think than same-sex sex is wrong – has been abandoned in favour of demonisation, because it is not comfortable to engage in a reasonable discussion. Too… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

No, Dave, we simply think you are wrong, and that your position, bottom line, reflects homophobia and bigotry. Simple as that. I don’t care what name you give it – its simply unacceptable. Some of us liberals are not relativists – we do have a sense of right and wrong, and we believe your ideas are wrong.

mynsterpreost
mynsterpreost
14 years ago

“will not put up with sound doctrine” Umm, isn’t that accusation a pretty good example of not engaging in a reasonable discussion? And the suggestion that only one side in a discussion is tainted by its own preferences and presuppositions is pretty questionable, no? One of the strange things about the Church which (among others) James Barr pointed out is that in some circles, sin is seen as contaminating every aspect of the human condition (so far, so Hipponian), and yet ‘Doctrine’, ‘The deposit of Faith’, ‘The Scriptures’ or whatever our favourite authority source may be is preserved untainted and… Read more »

The Anglican Scotist
14 years ago

Dave, I am encouraged to hear you call for reasonable discussion; maybe you should be wearing the purple. You are right that I depair of discussing. With these requests for primatial oversight and the election of Minns, things are being done which mark a new step. We have entered a new era, we are making history, but it seems in the wrong way. This is why Plato’s Cave is so apt (Republic VII). For some on the Anglican left, communion can precede correct dogma, and in fact communion so conceived is the main thing. Thus, to suppose one should insist… Read more »

Ian Montgomery
Ian Montgomery
14 years ago

Thank you Dave. Over here in the US debate stopped a long time ago and name calling has ruled since. Dialogue has been used simply by the pro-homosexualists as a platform for propoganda and and has very little if any listening aspect. As to the dogma over communion subject I would in the past have agreed that communion would precede dogma, eg, in relations with the Roman Catholics. In this current situation many of us have come to believe that this is a new religion seeking to overcome apostolic Christianity from which it has departed so how can there be… Read more »

Steven
Steven
14 years ago

Thank you Dave and thank you Scotist for some well-reasoned remarks.

Accusations against traditionalists that found themselves on “bigotry” are non-starters and merely reflect the prejudiced unreasoned viewpoint of the speaker. However, reason cannot create “compromise” here, only a recognition that the two viewpoints are irreconcileable and that our best option is to separate with dignity, compassion and grace.

Steven

Phil Craig
Phil Craig
14 years ago

Merseymike, are you saying that all those who hold views on sex like Dave’s are homophobes and bigots?

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Merseymike-

I think Dave was more concerned with the index of ‘willingness to debate’. Of course, we might think such-and-such is anathema – but to that one can say: ‘No wonder, if the trouble has not been taken to debate with them, as opposed to demonising them’.

Debate is concerned with the search for logical inconsistencies and contradictions. This is a principle that can be agreed on all sides. Everyone who loves truth and honesty therefore loves debate. Everyone who avoids debate…well, you finish the sentence.

badman
badman
14 years ago

“Everyone who loves truth and honesty therefore loves debate.” Except St Paul. e.g. Romans 1:29 including “debate” amongst “all unrighteousness” Romans 14:1 against “doubtful disputations” Galatians 5:14-15 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:20 including amongst the works of the flesh “variance” and “strife” 1 Corinthians 1 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Yes, Phil, I regard homophobia, in its modern colloquial use, as simply being anti-gay and not regarding gay people and their relationships as moral equivalents.

Either you believe in equality and non-discrimination, or you don’t.Those who oppose equality for gay and lesbian people and their relationships are homophobes and bigots. The Church is historically and institutionally , both of those things – thats why we need change, as the Episcopal Church in America have recognised.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Hi Badman Paul’s attitude to debate is clear enough: he spends half the space in his letters engaging in debate with real or hypothetical opponents. His letters are often analysed rhetorically a bit like forensic speeches. In Ephesus he spent two years debating in the Great Hall of Tyrannus. In most towns he made straight for the marketplace to engage in conversation. The word you are translating ‘debate’ – well, translation is not an exact science. Are you sure he didn’t mean a tendency to ‘disputatiousness’? No-one, surely, can fail to believe in debate. Why not just shut down parliament… Read more »

badman
badman
14 years ago

Christopher Shell, I think you said what I said – namely, that St Paul was a good debater. But he does not rate debate as a virtue.

I have debated all my life and dare say I shall for the rest of my life. I understand, also, the virtues of debate, as a means of testing argument. But I feel my penchant for debate as something as a personal weakness, and my reading of St Paul suggests that he would endorse that feeling.

Gerard Hannon
Gerard Hannon
14 years ago

In his July 4th posting Ian Montgomery begins with an amazing display of name-calling, buttressed by a disingenuous avoidance of the breadth of views within the Episcopal Church, particularly the center of the Church which represents probably ninety percent of the parishioners (with fringes on the “left” and “right”) toward the challenges it has been facing for nearly thirty years, when he writes: “Over here in the US debate stopped a long time ago and name calling has ruled since. Dialogue has been used simply by the pro-homosexualists as a platform for propoganda and and has very little if any… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
14 years ago

“pro-homosexualist”

David Virtue also uses the term ‘homosexualist’ to mean a gay person.

But by analogy, a homosexualist would be like a numismatist:

A numismatist admires and is is a student and collector of coins.

A homosexualist therefore would be an admirer of and a student and collector of homosexuals.

Those of us who have read much of Mr. Virtue might well think that he, with his obsessions about sexuality, is the homosexualist. About Mr. Montgomery I don’t know.

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

Dear Merseymike, before you can assert that everyone who thinks there is something wrong with homosexuality is “just” homophobic, you have to at least try to address the issues that concern us – such as same-sex sex being condemned as perversion in the Bible, and it’s lack of congruity with the created order.. both in terms of the major *biological* function (ie reproduction) and the physical *mechanics* (ie sex organs are complementary in the male and female – humans are not hermaphrodytes). By asserting that “you are homophobic because you don’t full affirm same-sex sex” you are just saying “I… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
J. C. Fisher
14 years ago

“This current go round of Arianism in new clothes” Ian, can you tell on what basis you make this allegation against my (Episcopal) faith? [And please do NOT cite your bete noire, +Spong: I’ve never read him, and neither have most Episcopalians. He’s a retired bishop, that’s ALL!] Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave: “same-sex sex being condemned as perversion in the Bible” FALSE. *Certain* sex acts, between *certain* persons (being of the same-sex coincidentally, or not), are condemned. This blanket condemnation exists only in your (let’s face it) prejudiced mind. And speaking of which, it also contains such (*purely… Read more »

Gerard Hannon
Gerard Hannon
14 years ago

As has been often witnessed, Dave’s approach would make the Pharisees proud. Jesus,however, was not fond of the Pharisees. I would like to see Dave instead focusing upon loving, committed, and monogamous relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Ah well, through such differences we find a diverse communion of believers around the world,in both hemispheres, on this and other points; it is merely a question of whether parts of the communion are to be excluded, and a new exclusionary church created. I will not choose exclusion for anyone, not even the Primate of Nigeria. If he chooses to depart with his… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Badman-
Your penchant for debate is not a weakness but a strength. The only weakness would be any hypothetical impure motives you had in doing so.

Anyone who loves truth values debate. You surely don’t want to be in the camp of those who don’t care about truth?! Those who want to ‘agree to differ’ (ie not to listen, not to learn, but to perpetuate self-contradictory ideologies because they equate to their own personal wants and desires)?

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Gerard-
On the contrary, Dave’s approach is spot on. He wants to see whether Meseymike’s position ‘adds up’. Merseymike, if he is honest and a lover of truth, will address the questions directly not obliquely. If Merseymike’s view is self-consistent, this will be shown by the process of debate. That is how proper debate takes place, and how truth is won.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

What can one do when a national newspaper (supposedly an educated one) resorts to unexamined cheap cliches like ‘bigoted’? We have two choices: (1) follow the facts and statistics where they lead; (2) follow our own predilections, wants and ideologies where they lead. The former is honest and fair; the latter is dishonest and selfish. So which of the two (if either) is bigoted? Obviously the second. Bigotry therefore equates to a method, not to any one conclusion. People who draw conclusions after appropriate research and argumentation cannot possibly be bigots; people who jump to conclusions can easily be. Stephen… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Lest I am wrong to say Stephen Bates was behind the Guardian leader, let me just speak of ‘the anonymous writer’.

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

Please can comments relate directly to the Guardian leader that is the subject of this item.

Eldar Vanyar
Eldar Vanyar
14 years ago

St Anslem said in the 13th century in regards to God’s judgement and the reality of Hell “You have not yet considered the seriousness of sin”. Jesus makes it quite clear that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth of those cast out into the outer darkness, and that he will reject many himself saying ‘away from me I never knew you’. The New Testament is clear about sin, its reality and the Lord’s judgement of it. There is not one positive statement in the whole bible on homosexuality and whatever violence one may do to the text it… Read more »

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