Thinking Anglicans

bishops who value diversity

A leader in this week’s Church Times is titled At last, bishops who value diversity:

IT IS with a degree of shame that we acknowledge the statement from the bishops in Central and South America who met in Costa Rica at the end of last month. After all, a declaration by a group of Anglican bishops which talks of “the plurality and diversity that are universal characteristics of Anglicanism” was once an obvious candidate for the news editor’s spike. Times have changed, however. Now it is a relief to report determined, if somewhat fluffy, pronouncements about the Anglican Communion and its “participative nature, diverse, ample, and inclusive”. The Bishops support the view, often rehearsed in this paper, that plurality and diversity are a “rich source of growth” rather than a cause of dissension.

The present debate in the Communion has been undermined by unsubstantiated claims about who represents whom. Individual dioceses and provinces have their own structures of decision-making and accountability. The Church of England’s understanding of episcopacy — that bishops operate in synods or councils together with representatives of the clergy and laity — is replicated in one form or another across the provinces. The rise of the Primates’ Meeting has disturbed this balance, and its coincidence with — some would say, contribution to — the disunity in the Communion leaves many ordinary Anglicans unconvinced that the innovation is to be welcomed.

The expectation behind episcopacy is that the Church is governed by individuals with theological understanding and a particular charism to keep the flock together. In the same way as MPs are supposed to represent all their constituents, regardless whether they share any political views, bishops are called to mediate for and between Christians of all flavours. The Costa Rica statement is a pleasant reminder that this has not been entirely forgotten.

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Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

The holding up of ‘diversity’ as something to be intrinsically (as opposed to very often) valued is something which has been endlessly refuted.

Pluralist
14 years ago

Well, if this is what the Church Times thinks, then we are all saved.

harvard man
harvard man
14 years ago

There is much to like about this statement, even from traditionalist view. John Stott wrote an excellent piece last year outlining three choices for those unhappy with the church: 1. leave 2.stay and compromise or 3. stay and don’t compromise. Quoting Dr. Stott now, “Two of the options we have considered (to get out or give in) are ultimately defeatist, whereas to stay in while refusing to give in seems to me to be the way of courage. We need again to hear God’s Word to his people: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be discouraged,… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
14 years ago

“We also need to live our lives in ways that show our faith, including living in ways that do not offend our faithful brothers and sisters. And of course, that’s not easy.” H Man BINGO! Now, you’re talk’n because the ONLY character that you can REALLY know (and pray to God to have you improve/change) is your own…so, it is best, I agree, to keep your selective “convictions” active in your own life and most certainly some will fellow Christians/prospects will be attracted to YOU for moral support (and possibly even guidance if you are on course)…until then, assuming the… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
14 years ago

“None of us have the answer, Christ does. We need to be in fellowship to bring each other back to him and his cross, submitting ourselves.” H. Man

BINGO (again), I agree…emphasis on NONE and CHRIST!

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

What sort of Anglicanisms are these, when their most faithful partisans repeatedly feel assaulted and betrayed and dirtied by calls for openness, for empirical and hermeneutic studies, for figuring out how to live the good news of Jesus in a zillion new situations as we change, experiment, learn, grow, mature? Yes, I am convinced as a believer by the empirical data, and somebody else is not. I can be persuaded additionally in any number of remaining open-ended directions about a large number of hot button themes, but only by solid data that results from best practice investigations, not loud repeats… Read more »

Viriato da Silva
Viriato da Silva
14 years ago

Speaking of bishops who value diversity, this is a wonderful sermon recently preached by the Rt. Rev. Leopoldo Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.):

http://trinitymiami.org/sermon.asp?id=20070603

Dennis
14 years ago

Christopher: The endless “refutations” of diversity as a gospel value have been read by all of us. They don’t hold water.

The celebration of and fight for diversity is a gospel imperative. Arguing that we can successfully “refute” the centrality of diverse acceptance in the faith is like arguing that we can successfully refute the centrality of forgiveness or grace in the faith.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

But see, Harvard Man, I feel the same way. I do believe these words apply to me as well as you. Do you not see it the same way? And why is it the right in general seems to think that “faithful brothers and sisters” are those who agree with them, all the rest of us are faithless and have no respect for Scripture, Tradition, or indeed anything other than the approval of the world?

Pluralist
14 years ago

On the subject of diversity and inclusivity, some folks here might like to read my review of Steven Shakespeare’s and Hugh Rayment-Pickard’s (2006) The Inclusive God: Reclaiming Theology for an Inclusive Church, London: Canterbury Press Norwich.

I’ve just put it on my website here:

http://www.change.freeuk.com/learning/relthink/inclusivereview.html

It is rather long, and is what happens when a prospective and now soon to be ordinand lends me a book and we agree I’ll do a review of it for her.

harvard man
harvard man
14 years ago

Ford, Funny, I was thinking it was the left that felt anyone that didn’t agree with them was an unenlightened homophobe! I do enjoy your posts, and find them thoughful and non reactionary. Not always the case in blog land, this blog included. Thank you for your insights and respectful tone. Seems to me our reactions in general are Original Sin manifested in ‘it’s all about me’. So we act/react from our own limited view, lacking Christ’s perspective. Both extremes of our faith seem to me out of step with what we’re asked to do as Christians. And Stott just… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Hi Dennis-
You don’t and can’t believe that. Anyone who thinks that diversity is intrinsically good (not that I said intrinsically) must affirm the diversity of mobile phone stealers and non mobile phone stealers (whatever turns you on). Or of pagans (or indeed satanists) among the Christian community.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Hi Dennis-
for ‘not that’ read ‘note that’

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

HM, WRT your first point, both sides have their hypersenstivities. You are aware of those of the left, what about your own? You need to realize that most gay people of my generation grew up in a society that believed us to be sick child molesting perverts, outside the pale, questionably human, certainly deserving of any violence that comes our way, and frequently told that God hates us. When a conservative piously states he “hates the sin, but loves the sinner” while speaking in such a way as to show that he considers us outside the Church, disease ridden, and… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
14 years ago

Thank you for everything you just said, Ford Elms. I have never believed anyone who parrots the “hate the sin” line.

Pluralist
14 years ago

We had this argument in the Unitarians. How do you stop fascists and Satanists when it is creedless. Answer, fascists don’t get the authoritarianism they seek and Satanists can’t stand the liberal ethic. Same in a more standard Christian church – those that want to punch those who punch them or are happy with power get a bit fed up when they keep reading and absorbing something else. They might even get converted.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

Trouble is, Lapin, it never seems to get through. That may be a factor that it has to be said over and over on an individual basis, so it seems like no-one’s listening on “the other side”. I have to wonder how many haven’t even examined themselves as to their own bigotries on this issue, and sometimes it seems that, for some, their refusal to do so (in general, Harvard Man, none of this is directed at you) is based on the fear that their understanding of Scripture would be threatened if they were forced to deal with us as… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Pluralist et al Shrek 3 is worth seeing it. There’s a lot of biblical imagery. I particularly like how there is a scene where everyone drops weapons and some fantasize about growing daffodils. It reminds me of Isaiah 2:3-5. How it comes about has some powerful lessons not for the conflicts within the Anglican Communion, but on a broader scale as well. How many will see the parallels between Snow White and the Daughter of Zion, I wonder. Endlessly refuting something has got nothing to do with the merits of the argument. Watch a screaming toddler in the shopping aisle… Read more »

harvard man
harvard man
14 years ago

Ford,

I really enjoy these threads.

I am in a traditional environment theologically, but a pretty liberal social setting. So I see the tension every day, as I hear what I understand to be the Gospel, preached to me and all the other wretches in the pews, all broken like me.

Sexual sins are no greater or less than any other. We all need the cross. Gay members are treated no differently.

Malcolm French+
14 years ago

Whither NP?

I’m still curious to hear how NP will explain away this evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean that the North Americans are not so isolated as he would have had us believe.

And after two weeks of silence, I’m beginning to worry that something has happened to him.

NP
NP
14 years ago

Malcolm – thank you for your concern – I have been somewhat busy (new Alpha course starting etc thankful for good numbers) Anyway, to your point, these developments are not suprising or that important. As the ABC keeps on stressing (recently again in TIME), it is the mind of the AC as a whole that matters…..and the fact that some people in the AC (a small minority) want to change the agreed position or do not like the Covenant idea is not a big deal…..and not surprising as it would curtail their abiility to be in the AC and subvert… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“Gay members are treated no differently”

What planet is your “traditional theological environment” on? I’d love to go there.

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

But gay people are treated differently, Harvard – that’s the problem. Their relationships are not treated equally with those of heterosexuals. That, for me, is enough to conclude that traditional Christianity has simply got it wrong.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

NP, Glad you’re back! I too was getting a bit worried. I will be away for a week starting tomorrow. Merseymike, It’s not merely that our relationships are not treated equally, though I sometimes get a bit Michelangelo Signorili and claim that they AREN’T the same anyway, but your point is taken. If it were just that, I could keep silent. I’m just wondering: if gay people are treated no differently, Harvard Man, could you indicate to me one bishop who advocates the jailing of the covetous? How about a bishop who claims that usurers are no better than animals,… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

Tut, tut, NP, what were you doing wasting time with ‘Alpha’ when you should have been blogging here? Have you NO sense of priorities? 🙂

David H.
14 years ago

The Bizarre Rabbit said, “I have never believed anyone who parrots the “hate the sin” line.”

Indeed. And the Rev. Br. Tobias Haller (BSG) has written a wonderful blog entry entitled “Enough of Hate” on that very topic:

http://jintoku.blogspot.com/2007/05/enough-of-hate.html

Well worth your time to read.

Jerry Hannon
Jerry Hannon
14 years ago

NP, reacting to Malcolm French’s point about the growing number of Anglican provinces who are rejecting the exclusionary efforts of Abuja, commented “…the fact that some people in the AC (a small minority) want to change the agreed position or do not like the Covenant idea is not a big deal.” Once again, he/she has confused numbers of parishioners in a province with the heart of the historical Anglican Communion, as if we are being judged by a balance sheet of numbers. There is no more validity to tabulating numbers of people than there is in tabulating the relative wealth… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Well, thanks Ford – I am touched that my absence is noticed…..even if my presence is a pain in the neck sometimes!! Mynster..you are right, I should prioritise.

I think what Harvard Man means is that we are all treated the same in the sense that we are all sinners in different and many ways and none of us can excuse / justify not repenting…..in that sense we are all treated the same – so, we come back to square one and what we define to be a sin and what is holy

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

No, we don’t come back to square one, NP, for the simple reason that, regardless of what you say, all sins aren’t treated the same. I repeat, can you name one bishop who advocates jailing the covetous? Can you name one bishop who claims that usurers are nothing more than animals and those who support them are a cancer on the body of Christ? Can you name anyone who was forced to decline a bishopric because, despite having stopped gossiping, he hadn’t repented appropriately and didn’t preach against it? Clearly, homosexuality is NOT treated the same as any of these… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Welcome back NP We’ve missed your insights and sometimes baiting. “…we come back to square one and what we define to be a sin and what is holy…” My square one is we come back to God and how God forgives. No one is holy, no one is without sin. We are all sinners and all need to be forgiven. The form of our sins, the ease at which they are discovered varies, but it is there in each and every one of us. We are all inadequate and incapable of rescuing ourselves. We are all dependent on God’s grace.… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Jerry – do have a look at history as it can helpfully temper wishful thinking. I refer you to recent history eg Dromantine, TWR, The Tanzania Communique etc…….I really do not see the great liberal victory you desire.

Ford – the point is whether or not people are seeking to justify the sins you mention…..so I know of no bishop in the AC preaching that “greed is good” or none saying that is fine to gossip. (and, yes heretics are a cancer …..sorry!)

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“the point is whether or not people are seeking to justify the sins you mention”

No, NP, the comment was made that all sin is treated the same. I am merely pointing out that this is garbage since all sins are not treated the same. It has nothing to do with justification of anything in this instance. I am merely stating that it is gross hypocrisy to say that gossip, slander, or usury are dealt with in the same fashion as homosexuality. It is the same kind of hypocrisy as “hate the sin, love the sinner”.

NP
NP
14 years ago

no, it is not, Ford….as I said, we are not ordaining anyone who is saying “greed is good” – are we??

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

No, but we do ordain people who say “usury is good”, we ordain people who support war, we ordain people who actively slander their fellow Christians, indeed, in some quarters these last people are considered Godly.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

I am sure that not all sins are treated as equally grave by the NT, nor indeed would common sense suggest that they ought to be. Homosexual practice is an interesting case here, in that although it appears in fewer contexts than various others do (and more contexts than still others, of course) whenever it does appear it is indicated to be of high seriousness. Rom 1 makes it quintessential evidence for the disordering of creation. 1 Cor 6 places it alongside some of the worst sins. It is not however a candidate to appear in nearly as many lists… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Also, Ford, note the liberal ABC’s TIME comments….even he can find zero positive passages of scripture to support the “revisionist” case…….as I have said before, there needs to be a case for something being good and holy if we are to be forced to accept vicars and bishops contradicting the scritures.

Malcolm French+
14 years ago

Good to see you’re back, NP, although your selectivity about interpretation remains unchanged.

I presume, from your comment, that the increasing number of Primates aligning to the “Global Centre” are just more “noise” from the “tiny minority” then?

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“if we are to be forced to accept vicars and bishops contradicting the scritures.” Yet again, the letter of the Law combined with the idea that this is the only teaching ever to be out of line with Scripture. You know, NP, I feel really sorry for you. You need to have clear rules, it seems, so that you can feel holy in the following of them. You do realize that this is not at all what Jesus taught? I asked you before, do you ever see yourself in the Pharisees? Your attitudes are exactly like the way they are… Read more »

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