Thinking Anglicans

a sermon from Oxford

Marilyn McCord Adams preached at Matins last Sunday in Christ Church, Oxford.

Her sermon titled Sinning Against The Holy Spirit can be found as a pdf file here.

An html copy is over here.

Here’s the conclusion:

Two weeks ago, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) replayed the scenario, to its—at any rate, to my—shame. Evidently, their conversations with the Archbishop began by celebrating the uniqueness of the ‘79 prayer book’s baptismal covenant in which, besides renouncing Satan and turning to Christ, besides pledging faithfulness in common prayer and Christian service, we promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.” The Presiding Bishop reports that while the majority interpret this to mean that gays and lesbians are deserving of “the fullest regard of the church,” the House of Bishops showed itself “willing to pause” in “its consideration of full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the life and ministries of the Episcopal Church.” Bishops reaffirmed 2006 General Convention resolution to exercize restraint by withholding consents to episcopal elections of persons whose lifestyle would pose a serious problem for other members of the Anglican communion. Bishops went further by promising not to authorize rites for the blessing of same sex partnerships until the communion is of a different mind or a future General Convention decides otherwise. (The American House of Bishops has no authority to bind future General Conventions.)

For some bishops, these resolutions were a matter of conscience. It’s no secret that I disagree with them, but that is not my point right now. My focus is instead on the spiritual danger of “going along to get along,” of willingly sacrificing what one believes to be the dignity and well-being of real and present persons on the altar of institutional objectives. The lust for institutional harmony and stability is strong. It repeatedly seduces us, whether the issue is race, gender, sexual orientation, fair trade and wages, immigration and asylum, or something else. But Jesus Christ did not show Himself “willing to pause”: Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, the woman with scoliosis, the lame and the blind on the Sabbath day! Jesus warns, “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven!”

Happily, the bible’s God does not observe pop-psychological parenting rules not to threaten without following through. Repeatedly, the bible’s God prophesies doom and ruin to wake people up and win repentance. In the midst of present church controversies, one thing is certain: Jesus’ pronouncement should shock us out of our complacency, chasten our behavior, and keep us on our knees!

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NP
NP
13 years ago

Absolutely right – “The lust for institutional harmony and stability is strong. It repeatedly seduces us….”

WE have all, conservative and liberal, been led a tragic, delaying dance by those who put above all else keeping the old club intact (even at the cost of speaking the truth plainly)

Pluralist
13 years ago

She’s right, of course. Sacrifice of the institution wasn’t on the agenda: it may just be (to be positive) that once the schismatics run away, the brakes can come off.

C.B.
C.B.
13 years ago

Great! – The more progressives complain that the HoB agreed to a moratorium – a “pause” contrary to the wishes of the LGBT community in deference to the rest of the Communion – the more reasonable TEC sounds to the establishment – the more likely that the Akinola et al. will be seen as demanding unreasonable extremists – and the less likely TEC will be “disciplined.”

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

(in response to McCord Adams) Amen! Lord have mercy…

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

I do appreciate Dr. McCord’s remarks. Intellectually and spiritually I must stand near enough to her position/views to always feel a strong resonance and sense of recognition – she often reads to me as if I had given her notes as to how to speak for me. However, I think she heightens the gospel sources of change urgency for our church life dilemma, while omitting or downplaying the other New Testament pastoral considerations one gets from reading the Pauline letters about taking one’s brethern of doubtful conscience into account. This gets even more complicated when one adds in the witness… Read more »

acb
acb
13 years ago

C.B. is assuming there is some body capable in principle of disciplining TEC. There is not. There are various bodies able, and determined, to harm both TEC and its supporters in this country. They will go ahead whatever. But even if Rowan decides to serve their purposes, as he has done before, it won’t be discipline. It’s only discipline if the punished person accepts the authority by which it is done. Otherwise what we have is a failure of communication.

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

God bless Marilyn One of my contemplations in the last few days has been about how the established precedent of scriptural interpretation is deemed to be the only holy authoritative interpretation. One of my contemplations in the last few years is “how come the world still looks so bad”? Why is there so much poverty, famine, tyranny, repression, censorship, greed and corruption? In particular, what happened to the beautiful imagery of the “new Jerusalem” coming down from heaven as promised in both Isaiah and Revelation? Where children could play safely on the streets, with the elderly sitting and watching in… Read more »

counterlight
counterlight
13 years ago

I’ve always thought it a mistake to expect much from bishops. Bishops, like Congress, will never do anything constructive on their own initiative. The Unwashed Proles (ie us) must constantly light a fire under their feet to get them to do the right thing. Progress in the Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion is up to us. It would be vain and foolish to wait for some kind of fiat from a prince bishop (or a whole synod of bishops) to make everything right.

NP
NP
13 years ago

Canon Harmon and others called on TEC HOB to speak the truth plainly about what they believe and what they allow / do.

Only VGR has done that really clearly….

It would have been better for everyone if TEC HOB did not enter into weaving tangled webs with the Lambeth Palace bureaucrats

NP
NP
13 years ago

drdanfee criticises some for taking the attitude he sums up as ” Nothing that anybody could ever say, for whatever reasons, on whatever basis, can make me change my mind and heart. Full stop.”

So, drdan, are you saying you are open to persuasion that Lambeth 1.10 is right and would potentially encourage people to obey it?

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“the altar of institutional objectives.” This is what bothers me. There is the constant “rah rah rah” of defending the rights of the poor suffering gays against those who would sacrifice us on the “altar of institutional objectives.” What ever happened to things like what Paul talks about in Romans 14 and 15? It seems to me that to say “I am standing up for my rights” misses the point. It is about not putting stumbling blocks in the path of those whose faith is weak. To say that “They’re the ones kicking me out” also misses the point. It’s… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

‘Hi’ Marilyn

You several times mention ‘the Bible’s God’ approvingly. What does ‘the Bible’s God’ say about homosexual practice?

It is undeniable that you are being selective, dishonest, or both.

sub_deanery
sub_deanery
13 years ago

Might I suggest from a generally progressive point of view from the US side of the Atlantic that it is high time for the progressives in the CoE to begin doing some of this heavy lifting instead of waiting on TEC HoB, commenting and criticizing. Sympathetic leaders in our Mother Church were rather silent in the past couple of years. In addition, in the political environmnent of houses and synods, compromise is not ignoble. It is simply how things work. These bodies try to bring along the most number of people to a statement of belief or purpose. This is… Read more »

EPfizH
EPfizH
13 years ago

What you wish, NP, is for the Americans to draw a line in the sand. That isn’t going to happen. Since they value inclusion, their very diversity makes it impossible. Their tent is big enough to tolerate the far right and the far left. You are pleased by the clarity of this speaker, not because of your openess and willingness to hear her , butbbecause her clarity makes easier for you to target her and focus your aim. An interesting take on this was, I believe just offered by the Bishop of Rochester. He suggests that the right thing to… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
13 years ago

Lambeth 1.10 is right and would potentially encourage people to obey it? NP

Lambeth l.l0 has no power to insist it be “obeyed.” It is a “suggestion” of “beliefs” and does not need be obeyed or even “believed” by everyone in The Anglican Communion…stop the tainted silliness of “imagining it law” and stop trying to force this “ramroded” nonsense down our throats as we all know how badly +Carey mishandled the “debate” on “human sexuality” at the past Lambeth.

EPfizH
EPfizH
13 years ago

On the above, apparently it was +Exeter joining +Rochester in his views and +Exeter suggesting the recinding of the US invitations. (which is not to say +Rochester would disagree) I so wonder what Ottawa’s thinking will be this week. Will it provide the GS and “Reform” a clearer target? I realize that the GS has already grouped the ACN with TEC after its synod this summer and decision that the current teaching (Lambeth 1.10) on sexuality was adiaphora…

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Oh yes indeed, NP, I am capable of being persuaded that Lambeth 1.10 is accurate. Just to the extent that any body of solid empirical research (and derived empirical theory or model) can demonstrate what must be the factual or data side of that traditionalistic resolution – i.e., that (1) sexual orientation variance is, after all, NOT squarely within the natural variations of animal and human evolution, plus that (2) not being straight innately causes and/or results from clear detrimental empirical phenomena. Now, strictly considered, Lambeth 1.10 hedges – some who post here and elsewhere might say, fudges? – just… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“potentially encourage people to obey it?”

Can we hope that you might one day potentially encourage people to obey the other parts of that document? Why ought people to only obey one clause of a much larger document?

David Wh.
David Wh.
13 years ago

Nice to hear a ‘liberal’ say we shouldn’t demonize Christian’s who we disagree with, and their motives… I wonder how she (and those above who just agreed with her) would describe me, my insistence that the Bible condemns homosexual sex (among many sexual activities and attitudes), and my rejection of the idea that God makes people gay (since even identical twins don’t necessarily develop the same sexualities!) ? Or what about St Paul, who put those who are homosexually active into lists of those who “will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor6:10) and must repent?! Come to mention it, if… Read more »

Lois Keen
Lois Keen
13 years ago

“Might I suggest from a generally progressive point of view from the US side of the Atlantic that it is high time for the progressives in the CoE to begin doing some of this heavy lifting instead of waiting on TEC HoB, commenting and criticizing. Sympathetic leaders in our Mother Church were rather silent in the past couple of years.” (sub_deanery) I am pleased to refer sub_deanery to the blog of Bishop Alan of Buckingham, Bishop Alan’s Blog, specifically the post “What kind of party spirit am I on: Someone asked me if I’m going to the Lambeth Conference” Bishop… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Ford I enjoyed your posting of Friday, 12 October 2007 at 12:36pm BST You are right that some parties have decided that the battles are about who is or is not saved, and why. Two underpinning paradigms that keep these mouse in wheel polemics continuing are first that tyranny is inevitable, so therefore the trick is to be the one repressing. Secondly, that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection was a failure, it was not sufficient for God, so there is only a limited portion of grace. The mouse in wheel imagery is appropriate, some souls are working very fast, very vehemently… Read more »

Jerry Hannon
Jerry Hannon
13 years ago

NP posted: “So, drdan, are you saying you are open to persuasion that Lambeth 1.10 is right and would potentially encourage people to obey it?” What claptrap. How long, NP, will it take you to understand the fact that Lambeth — whatever year you choose to reference — has no juridical power; it has no authority to compel one Province to do “x” nor to compel another Province to refrain from doing “y.” There are some Lambeth conclusions with which I might agree, and you might disagree, and it has others where the reverse would be true. But you cannot… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

“What does ‘the Bible’s God’ say about homosexual practice?”

Not a whole lot, unless you insist on a truly strangulated reading of ancient Greek words by translating them into terms the authors wouldn’t recognize.

John Henry
John Henry
13 years ago

Obviously, NP is not an historian. Has s/he read John Boswell’s Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (1994)? Obviously not; or else s/he wouldn’t spout off the way s/he does. Not all such unions were, or are, sexual. As a parish priest since 1970s, I have known many gays in committed relationships that were non-sexual. Of course, NP is obsessed about sex and what people do in their BRs. It is a known fact, within the RC Communion, that 50% of its priests are gay at least as far as orientation is concerned–that means 50% of its cardinals, bishops, parish clergy.… Read more »

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

“I wonder how she (and those above who just agreed with her) would describe me” Well, since you asked, David Wh.: 1) “my insistence that the Bible condemns homosexual sex (among many sexual activities and attitudes)” You’re a person w/ a badly mistaken interpretation of God’s Will, probably formed by false translation of Scripture [To wit, “St Paul, who put those who are homosexually active into lists of those who “will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor6:10) and must repent”: it says no such thing]. Henceforth— 2) “my rejection of the idea that God makes people gay (since even identical… Read more »

Bob in SW PA
Bob in SW PA
13 years ago

I have to agree with Dr. Marylin but I’m still torn on how we meet middle ground with those that we disagree with. I also agree with Dr. Dan that what the HoB’s did was give conservatives enough rope to hang themselves as unreasonable. Many leaders/Primates/bishops of the older generation are set against the full inclusion of GLBT’s. We are really planning for the future since many in my generation and younger are much more open and as understanding. As scientific/medical studies continue and support that sexuality isn’t chosen, future generations will hopefully not have this issue to fight over.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“I wonder how she (and those above who just agreed with her) would describe me, my insistence that the Bible condemns homosexual sex (among many sexual activities and attitudes), and my rejection of the idea that God makes people gay (since even identical twins don’t necessarily develop the same sexualities!)”

We wouldn’t demonise you. We just simply believe you’re wrong.

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

What would happen if we substituted the phrase “the colour pink” wherever we see “Lambeth 1.10”.

Let’s play a game and do it for a week or so, the obsessional absurdity might come to light and we’ll have some fun in the meantime 🙂

JPM
JPM
13 years ago

>>>my rejection of the idea that God makes people gay (since even identical twins don’t necessarily develop the same sexualities!)”

Well, I wouldn’t demonize you, but I would point out that you apparently don’t know much about genetics.

David Wh.
David Wh.
13 years ago

JCF: you’re a *prejudiced* person [since whether sexuality is chromosomally-determined is hardly an indication of whether or not “God makes people gay”]. I don’t understand how it is possible to judge that someone is “prejudiced” just because they believe that it is only possible to say that God may have ‘”made” someone like this’ if they were born that way (due to genetics, womb environment etc). If someone is a particular way due to being conditioned by upbringing, experiences etc (eg someone’s culture, religion etc) or by choosing a particular behaviour or preference (eg religion change, political opinion, football fans… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

Hmm thanks CC. Color pink it is, if I remember to make the switch, given my feline alzheimer’s, early stage. LOL. Imagine, Lord Carey and company shoving through the color pink as a bright banner of Lambeth. Gotta love it, sad and funny, as the original.

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Nature or nurture? Hmm. Even the scientists agree that there are some genes that lead to certain illnesses, but that they are not always “triggered”. We can’t deny that hermaphrodites, chimeras and testosterone females occur. Nor can we deny that illnesses such as MS, parkinsons, or lupus exist Or schizophrenia, bipolar or depression. Yet some souls try to deny that sexuality is affected by genes and hormones? That’s as bizarre as saying there is no such thing as shortsightedness or colour blindness. There are those who seek to discredit GLBT advocates as being subjective and having their own agenda. Yep.… Read more »

Malcolm+
Malcolm+
13 years ago

“Nice to hear a ‘liberal’ say we shouldn’t demonize Christian’s who we disagree with, and their motives. I wonder how she (and those above who just agreed with her) would describe me . . .” I can’t speak for anyone else, but my perception of you would not simply be based on your opinion(s) related to the present issue. In fact, your opinions on the present issue would likely be of less importance than your behaviour. Personally, I tend to make a subtle description between conservatives (those who believe as you do and conduct themselves with decency) and “conservatives” who,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

David Wh. What’s the point of this? Unless you believe that God deliberately “made” individual people, this conversation makes no sense. Whether homosexuality is genetic or due to other influences (like a hormone imbalance in the womb)is really neither here nor there. In all countries in the world, regardless of culture or religion, there is a similar percentage of homosexual people. Homosexuality is therefore entirely normal. The question is not how someone comes to be homosexual, but whether anyone has any right to tell them that they are inferior and must not live a full life because of it. Tell… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

I propose a rainbow with colours not only for Pink, but also for Tanzania, Dromatine, ALL Primates….

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

So, dradanfee, are “you are open to persuasion that the colour pink is right and would potentially encourage people to obey it?”

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Erika I like your proposal. One of my regrets in the last few days is that “pink” is not one of the colours of the rainbow. Mind you, after reading Sacks’ article this weekend and the book Revelation on many an occasion, pink seems appropriate. Pink is what happens when you combine red and white, it is a transmutation that is not part of the rainbow of Noah but a colour that we all recognise. Perhaps pink is a great colour because it epitomises a colour that “is not” yet “is”. Just like GLBTs represent a humanity that “is not”… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“Nice to hear a ‘liberal’ say we shouldn’t demonize Christian’s who we disagree with, and their motives” In your rush to paint yourself out as the poor downtrodden victim valiantly fighting against your oppressor, a very worldly way of thinking, by the way, you happily ignore the way you do it to others. As I said before, it isn’t how THEY treat you that matters in the end, it’s how YOU treat them. In the Lamb’s Book of Life, it won’t read “stood up to those who would oppress him” after your name, it’ll read “loved his neighbour as himself”.… Read more »

NP
NP
13 years ago

EPfizH – yes, I may not agree with Dr Adams or with VGR but at least they are not honest and stand by what they believe to be right. I respect that more than TEC HOB NO statements which try to say yes and no at the same time.

drdanfee – the point is scripture and what is compatible and incompatible with scripture…..
You ask a question but I am not sure you will read this answer – here it is anyway.
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2007/20070108odonovan7.cfm?doc=179

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

I have just been pondering the colour pink ! ….

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“the point is scripture and what is compatible and incompatible with scripture”

No it’s not. You make it pretty obvious that for you the issue has nothing to do with “compatible with Scripture”. Stop trying to look so holy, you’re not fooling anyone.

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