Thinking Anglicans

Sentamu addresses Canadian General Synod

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, addressed the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on 20 June 2007. The full text of his speech is here.

(Some of this may sound familiar. His presidential address to the English General Synod at York last year can be found here.)

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Vincent
Vincent
13 years ago

When someone can speak for so long about something without actually saying anything it speaks volumes about the stalemate which binds the the Communion. Or, to put it another way: Sir Humphrey: Well Minister, if you ask me for a straight answer, then I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another in terms of the average of departments, then in the final analysis it is probably true to say, that at the end of the day, in general terms, you would probably find that, not to put… Read more »

David
David
13 years ago

We would probably all agree with Archbishop John that “the Church has a responsibility to both affirm moral standards and to ensure that its rules don’t seem rigorous to the point of inhumanity”. However, the real question is whether Christian moral standards rule against homosexual practice or not. I imagine that gay Christians are not asking for a less rigorous application of the rules (which would imply that their behaviour is immoral, but not too immoral) but rather a recognition that gay sexual practice can fall within the scope of what is morally entirely acceptable to Christians, just as heterosexual… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
13 years ago

Beautiful speech. The core messages that rang like bells were:

“As far as justice goes, there isn’t one of us who deserves anything other than the condemnation of God, but God goes far beyond justice.”

and
“… we will not wish to enforce the stern justice, which so often divides people but will wish to deal with people in love, as we hope God will deal with us. Legalism is human, but gracious – magnanimity is divine.”

This is consistent with the God of both the Old and New Testaments.

JPM
JPM
13 years ago

>>>I imagine that gay Christians are not asking for a less rigorous application of the rules

I would settle for a more rigorous application of the rules by which heterosexual are now allowed to treat divorce and remarriage as a hobby.

But then, it seems that adultery is no big deal anymore, only homosexuality.

Chris
Chris
13 years ago

JPM said:
“I would settle for a more rigorous application of the rules by which heterosexual are now allowed to treat divorce and remarriage as a hobby.”

We may disagree on ordaining non-celibate homosexuals and SSB/SSM, but can both agree to this.

Weiwen
Weiwen
13 years ago

JPM, have you ever witnessed a divorce, or a potential divorce? Neither is exactly fun. I hear Gene Robinson’s was relatively amicable, but even he and his ex-wife cried when they returned each other their rings. I have to wonder if you’re making a straw man argument.

Pluralist
13 years ago

My response to reading this was, “And?”

Weiwen
Weiwen
13 years ago

PS, I did read Sentamu’s speech … it sounds erudite (with words like ontological and such), but I have no idea what he was trying to say. However, I did find this comment instructive: “At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is not such thing as a ‘homosexual’ or ‘a heterosexual’, or a ‘bi-sexual’; there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.” It’s interesting that he says he doesn’t consider sexual orientation to be a factor in… Read more »

Vincent
Vincent
13 years ago

JPM, as much as I too would be delighted if divorce and remarriage were a divisive issue, nobody up top is making a fuss about that at the moment.

*Christopher
13 years ago

But the Anglican Communion’s treatment of gay persons as a whole doesn’t seem to extend much beyond justice and legalism (look at the way 1.10 is actually used in Windsor and everywhere else. Is this how straight Christians would like to be treated?)–gracious magnanimity a largely lacking and we have become a stumbling block to many who turn away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ because our firm application of rules is largely inhumane. I wonder if he would have argued the same things with quite so much vigour to his own people during their colonization by the British? Justice… Read more »

Bill Nichols
Bill Nichols
13 years ago

I too saw equivocation in ++York’s comments. I think it’s nice that he at least seems to be trying to find common ground to serve as a base for unity. At the risk of being perceived as a cynic, however, I can’t help but wonder if someone isn’t working dress rehearsals for a career move.

“I would that you were either hot or cold….” [sigh]

Bill

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
13 years ago

“It’s interesting that he says he doesn’t consider sexual orientation to be a factor in one’s ontology (or whatever you call it), but he apparently does consider gender to be a factor.”

I wonder how he would regard trans people?

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Ah Sentamu. What can I think in reply? He seems to take his own frames of reference as uncritically as he wishes us to so critically view everybody else’s frames. I must therefore take him as critically as he so gently packages his critical views of others. I disagree, profoundly with just the frameworks he so lightly and uncritically seems to be taking, entirely, for granted as givens. The first great difficulty is his presupposition that penal tones and roots are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He starts right off, laying claim to mercy and… Read more »

John Henry
John Henry
13 years ago

“Legalism is human, but gracious-magnanimity is divine.” His Grace, the Abp. of York, seems to have taken a leaf from the compassionate ethics and moral theology of Bernard Haering and the young Karol Wojtyla before the latter became Pope John Paul II, especially with his emphasis on EPIEIKEIA, which, in the pre-Vatican II days, was translated as “pastoral accommodation”. At that time, the Roman Communion officially maintained the discipline of the Church in its teaching, but sought to find ways to pastorally accommodate sinful human beings, such as divorced and remarried Catholics barred from communion (under canon law) but, by… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

I just wouldn’t read too much into it. It was like a bad essay full of made to impress terminology. If you do look at it carefully, it is just full of assumptions. Treat it as the near repeat it was: a touched-up essay handed in to another teacher with an assumption that teachers don’t talk to each other.

Neil
Neil
13 years ago

Pluralist – you are spot on. Sentamu is a good man and a fabulous speaker when he is thinking on his feet, but not a good preacher or writer. This is where his insecurities come to the fore, and where he feels (wrongly) he needs to impress an audience more academic and learned than he. I would say he has other qualities which ‘outrank’ those whose brilliant analytical minds often lack right judgement. (Though he just happens to be wrong on this issue, I feel.) His position has been the same for years in regarding people who call themselves ‘gay’… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
13 years ago

Cynthia Your point is valid – what about those chimera twins in the recent BBC article who had both male and female genes? God the potter makes us as we are made. It is up to us to acknowledge that we all come from the potter and to assist each other be the most decent beings we can in our short life times. John Henry refers to some of the hyperboles in the Catholic church. A dear friend tells me of the angst it has caused her family. Her de facto finally agreed to marry her and have chidren after… Read more »

Charles Nurse
Charles Nurse
13 years ago

A number of commenters have commented on how obtuse the speech was.
As someone who heard it in person, I have to say that it was even more obtuse to hear.

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Gay=narrow=shallow=false=disordered is just about the whole dubious used car religious sales deal in a legacy nutshell, seems to me. Straight folks can consider their Imago Dei embodiment stuff to be wide and deep and mysteriously reflective of God’s revealed ability to be faithful – c’hesed – but queer folks have nothing to work with, except the legacy presumptions/definitions that their equivalent personality/embodiment domains are trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble. Put the presuppositional shoes on the other foot, and few straight folks would tolerate it for a hot New York minute, let aone applaud it as the deepest sounding they had ever… Read more »

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

‘..there isn’t one of us who deserves anything other than the condemnation of God, but God goes far beyond justice.” from Sentamu speech

NO ! I do not accept this at all. Is it Christian ? If so, all the worse for Christianity. It is the kind of rather mindless stuff that pours piously fron prelates.

Few people deserve or need condemnation. Even those who have commited what strike one as being heinous crimes—- will condemnation help either them or their victims ?

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts
13 years ago

To: L Roberts

I think you might have missed John Sentamu’s point. He isn’t talking about people condemning other people, he’s reiterating that we are incapable of being worthy of salvation by our own efforts and are therefore condemned by God, but we are redeemed inspite of our shortcomings. Basically he’s outlining a position of “justification by faith”.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“I do not accept this at all.” You don’t accept that Genesis, while allegorical, describes something basic in us, that we are not perfect? You don’t accept that our imperfect humanity can never be justified in the presence of the Supreme holiness that is God? You don’t accept that the wonder is that God loves us because we are His Creation, so much so that He counts us worthy to stand before Him, faults and all, just because we are His? Gee, I thought the wonder of God’s free love to us in spite of our unworthiness was the jewel… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

But you can call yourself ‘gay’ simply as a descriptor, a fact – in the way you can call yourself male, female, black, white, whatever. The thing is that being gay has made a difference to my life and so its an important source of identity – my own doctoral research showed this to be a common experience for gay people. Thus, Sentamu is really talking nonsense – nopt reflecting the reality of people’s experience. What6 he would prefer, and what actually is, are two different things If he wants a society where gay identity will be less important, then… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

_we are incapable of being worthy of salvation_

Who says?

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

‘You don’t accept that our imperfect humanity can never be justified in the presence of the Supreme holiness that is God? You don’t accept that the wonder is that God loves us because we are His Creation, so much so that He counts us worthy to stand before Him, faults and all, just because we are His? Gee, ‘ Ford to me Not sure if these are rhetorical questions or if you need a response. In fact, I don’t share your viewpoint– I have a different sensibility on this, from yourself. I am unable to relate myself to this kind… Read more »

ruidh
ruidh
13 years ago

St. Paul has quite a bit to say at our inability to make ourselves worthy. It’s a major theme of his.

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts
13 years ago

“_we are incapable of being worthy of salvation_

Who says?”

That wasn’t my point. The quote was
“we are incapable of being worthy of salvation *by our own efforts*”

Unless you’re proposing we are justified by good works?

Pluralist
13 years ago

You know, if a person has lots and lots of faith, let’s say, it’s not much use for anyone else unless there are some good works; however, if a person has lots of good works, or even a few, that is really useful to others even if he or she lacks faith. So I prefer someone of good works any time. More useful. As to any reward box at the end of it all, I couldn’t care less. Just do, if possible.

JPM
JPM
13 years ago

Weiwen, my point was that so many of the so-called “orthodox,” as outraged as they are about The One Great Sin, seem to consider adultery a mere faux pas, like wearing white shoes after Labor Day or eating one’s entrĂ©e with the salad fork. Chris, you are consistent on this issue–which I respect–but many are not. Here in the U.S. last summer, the Network’s drive to “defend the sanctity of marriage” was headed by a divorced/remarried priest. This priest, now with the Africans, is quite proud of his second marriage, saying that it represents God giving him a second chance… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“When powerful evangelists and archbishops employ such language it can be very manipulative of vulnerable listeners” I suspect it is the “believe or burn, miserable sinner” attitude that you are reacting badly to, and I agree with you on that. I just feel that, in comparison with the perfection that is God, we created must of necessity be less perfect. We all know this, how often do we say “Nobody’s perfect”? The trouble is that this imperfection has for so long in Western Christianity been interpreted as some kind of crime, because “sin” in Western thought is “lawbreaking” that most… Read more »

Ali Campbell
13 years ago

To pluralist:

I think the point is that we need God. In and on ourselves whether you focus on works or faith (which can be a bit like works, “I must work hard at having more faith!”) we are pretty hopeless.

NP
NP
13 years ago

ruidh – you mention St Paul …..and I agree he has a lot to say on the issues you raise but also on other issues.
We cannot pick and choose what we accept from his inspired writing.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“We cannot pick and choose what we accept from his inspired writing.”

You seem to do a pretty good job of ignoring the “reviler” bit there NP!

NP
NP
13 years ago

Ford – again, I say, we cannot pick and choose, we cannot make up our own god who happens to agree with us!

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

And again I say you do a fine job of picking and choosing so as to have a God who agrees with you, NP.

Malcolm+
Malcolm+
13 years ago

I’d take “we can’t pick and choose” more seriously if it weren’t coming from people who constantly pick and choose.

NP
NP
13 years ago

do NOT steal
do NOT murder
do NOT lie
do NOT be greedy

Well, Ford and Malcolm – all I can say is, I expect you agree with me that all the above statements mean we should NOT do these things….and I am merely being consistent when the Bible very clearly uses the word NOT with other issues……I am not picking and choosing to ignore the prohibitions which do not suit me – are you?

Malcolm+
Malcolm+
13 years ago

And how are you on usury, NP? Any interest bearing bank accounts? A mortgage? Not to mention ham sangies, lobsters and lanbs seethed in the milk of their mothers.

And – although admittedly less authoritative than scripture – how about those things in Windsor you like to gloss over? Like that bit about how cross-border raiding parties aren’t on? You tell me Windsor is authoritative, but you don’t really mean it. You only mean that those bit’s of Windsor you like are authotitative and to heck with the rest.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

1 Cor 6:9-10, NP, I’m sure you know it. No doubt your attention is focussed on the sexual bits in this “Scripture” but read it again, you’ll find something you are choosing to ignore because you have so much fun doing it!

NP
NP
13 years ago

again, Malcolm and Ford – one cannot (convincingly) justify breaking a law because others break laws too….

As the ABC said in his TIME interview, the scriptures make no positive statements in favour of the agenda of VGR etc

(you have to make a positive case to change the mind of the communion)

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“one cannot (convincingly) justify breaking a law because others break laws too” I am not attempting to justify anything! The point has been repeatedly made, NP, and you fail to address it: Your side is breaking the “Law” too! We are not arguing +VGR or anything else here, we are addressing the hypocrisy of condemning others for the exact same thing that you are guilty of yourself! You say “we do not pick and choose the bits of Scripture we follow” but you clearly do. Everyone sees it, everyone knows it, and everyone points at the hypocrisy of it, not… Read more »

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