Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Letter to the Primates

The Archbishop of Canterbury has released an Advent Letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion & Moderators of the United Churches.

It starts:

Greetings in the name of the One ‘who is and was and is to come, the Almighty’, as we prepare in this Advent season to celebrate once more his first coming and pray for the grace to greet him when he comes in glory. You will by now, I hope, have received my earlier letter summarising the responses from Primates to the Joint Standing Committee’s analysis of the New Orleans statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. In that letter, I promised to write with some further reflections and proposals, and this is the purpose of the present communication…

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Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

So, it looks, if I read it correctly, as if: The Anglican Church has a duty to work for respect for the human rights of gay people; but, if, any part of the Anglican Church actually does incorporate respect for the human rights of gay people into its way of conducting itself, then it has gone too far; therefore, TEC needs to have some heavies sent in to give the leadership a good talking to; and nothing will happen to the leadership of the Province of the Southern Cone, so it can go on making new bishops, except they may… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

Curious how Rowan completely ignores the recent actions of San Joaquin, Fort Worth and Pittsburgh. If he wasn’t attempting to put those actions in context–or at least speak of them in some way–why has he waited until the third week of Advent to release this letter?

badman
badman
13 years ago

TEC is out. Slap on the wrists for breakaways and border crossers, but they will be gathered in. Teaching is by majority and not consensus, so all the prophetic minorities are out with TEC.

Sounds like the death knell of the Anglican Communion to me. And it won’t do the Church of England much good either.

I’m surprised.

Charles William Allen
Charles William Allen
13 years ago

As a gay Episcopal Priest I have utmost respect and gratitude for the ABC as a theologian and as the spiritual leader of our Communion, even where I cannot agree with him. This is a complex statement, but then so is the situation. I do question what may sound like the continued characterization of my and others’ reading of Scripture as a “Radical change in the way we read.” Is it so radical, or are we simply insisting on applying the same standards of responsible and faithful scholarship to the “clobber verses” that we apply to other, similarly tangential comments… Read more »

Marshall Scott
13 years ago

Just a few points that concern me: “The common acknowledgment that we stand under the authority of Scripture as ‘the rule and ultimate standard of faith’,” is not the same thing as “a common reading and understanding of Scripture.” The first has indeed been a “first condition of recognisability;” but when did the second become the necessary expression of the first? When indeed did standing on the Summary of the Law and the calls for justice in the Prophets cease to be standing “under the authority of Scripture?” I’m somewhat relieved to finally hear 1998 1.10 described as “the only… Read more »

C.B.
C.B.
13 years ago

badman – I didn’t read it as saying TEC is out. I read it as saying come to Lambeth, let’s work out a covenant that determines what Anglicanism stands for, then we’ll see who is out and who is in. Schismatics are just as much at risk of being out as TEC. But the bottom line is Rowan doesn’t want the appearance of he, himself, making the calls. He wants it to look like a “real” consensus. He’s going to continue to use “panels” and “meetings” through which to channel his desires. He was clear that TEC’s take on the… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“The Instruments of Communion have consistently and very strongly repeated that it is part of our Christian and Anglican discipleship to condemn homophobic prejudice and violence, to defend the human rights and civil liberties of homosexual people and to offer them the same pastoral care and loving service that we owe to all in Christ’s name.” Yet not a word on the proposed Nigerian legislation, not a word on Uganda and Rwanda, not a word on Homophobia in Africa in general, and not a word on the situation in Central Africa and Kenya re Zimbabwe. Only the dissing of TEC… Read more »

Human Being (Second Class)
Human Being (Second Class)
13 years ago

Krystallnacht.

Now Anglicans are to be true to the injunction not to make windows on men’s souls. They will just be smashed instead. Unless you are pure enough to join the New Covenant Party, that is.

I am surprised how hurt I am by the ABC’s letter; it is pain that comes from a conviction that much abuse and oppression will be set free by this. I also honestly believe that this will be a matter of bitter remorse for him one day.

May God have mercy on us all.

david wh
david wh
13 years ago

Fr Mark wrote: “So, it looks, if I read it correctly, as if: The Anglican Church has a duty to work for respect for the human rights of gay people; but, if, any part of the Anglican Church actually does incorporate respect for the human rights of gay people into its way of conducting itself, then it has gone too far” You are miss-reading. ++Rowan is, I think, working on the basis of “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Equality of Human Rights should not just be on the basis of equal approval. Otherwise Human Rights will just become another… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

But there is no place for judgmental attitudes within human rights.
Indeed, those rights absolutely must be based on equal parity. Thus, if the Anglican church cannot accept full equality, then their claims to support human rights for gay people are meaningless and hollow. Bogus, in fact.

The best place for gay men and lesbians is OUTSIDE the Anglican Communion. I want TEC to positively break away and start something new. This is simply not reformable whilst conservatives still believe in their vile and harmful religion.

poppy tupper
poppy tupper
13 years ago

people have talked a lot about this man’s holiness. well, i’ve seen some holy people in my time, and often they were rough around the edges, risky, uncomfortable, and on the edge of acceptablity. RW seems to me to be the sort of person that non-christians like to think of as holy – warm-looking, smiley, soft-spoken, with a puzzled look. but when it comes to standing up for the oppressed and the hurt he is nowhere to be seen. i don’t think you get high office in the church by being holy, but by looking it. the bishop of hereford… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

I want to read this several times; as I think of a comment there is something bugging me, either in the detail or what it all means. My immediate thought (that needs other thought) is that this is just a little too late for events. There is too much of if this then that but if that then this – how it can go from a position where TEC seems to be in to a position where it can be out again. This sort of merry go round, nip and tuck, has passed. Canada is not mentioned, and yet it… Read more »

IanA
IanA
13 years ago

The letter suggests to me that +Rowan is maintaining his commitment to non-violence in the context of relationships of communion. With many voices urging him to act he seems committed to holding open the possibility of peaceful communion and discussion, even and paerhaps particularly in the presence of disagreement and dissent. I don’t thing that his position on what Anglicanism is will logically allow him to do anything else, for any attempt to forclose the debate is an attempt to foreclose the discursive identity of the communion and to concede to a polity of power. Short term this is very… Read more »

cryptogram
cryptogram
13 years ago

Responses on this thread have been largely predictable. It might help everyone to read it again and try and work out what he is actually saying. I find Craig Uffman’s comments on covenant-communion.com to be perceptive and well worth a read.

Cardinal Wardrobe
Cardinal Wardrobe
13 years ago

The best place for gay men and lesbians is inside the Anglican Communion. There is much to be said for being the seed growing secretly and the leaven in the lump. We are more likely to discover the pearl of great price that way. Don’t go! There is much support.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

David Wh: it is utterly illogical to claim to be in favour of human rights for gay people, and then to also be in favour of maintaining overt discrimination solely on the basis of sexual orientation (as happened to Jeffrey John, famously). A child could see that, I think, but apparently not a conservative churchperson. It doesn’t add up, it doesn’t convince, and it makes the church look like it doesn’t think things through. How does that attract the unchurched?

EPfizH
EPfizH
13 years ago

What I most recall is Ephraim Radner’s statement on a comment on the blog Stand Firm: “Lambeth can be whatever Lambeth wants to be”. He followed up with let Lambeth 2008 finish what 1998 began and then noted, that by such witness the Church will be able to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit. I saw his comments as majority and history of the majority (aka “tradition”) wins. But I was certainly uneasy in his implication that this is how we discern the work of the Spirit. I fear the tyranny of the majority, its ability to oppress, not… Read more »

Pam
Pam
13 years ago

>Indeed, those rights absolutely must be based on equal parity. Thus, if the Anglican church cannot accept full equality, then their claims to support human rights for gay people are meaningless and hollow. Bogus, in fact. Amen. And, Human Being (second class)this middle aged, white, straight female is also hurt. Hurt because the Church that I freely chose as an adult is becoming something other than the inclusive, joyous church that I joined. Also distressing to me is the disrespect of the polity of TEC — “A somewhat complicating factor in the New Orleans statement has been the provision that… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“love the sinner, hate the sin”. Do you seriously think anyone takes this pious mumbo-jumbo seriously? Come on, no-one on the Right has ever shown anything other than hatred as great for the sinner as for the sin. You do not love us. That is abundantly clear. Stop trying to make us believe what is patently a lie. You(plural) might think we’re stupid enough to believe you, but that’s your problem. I assure you, I and any other gay person can see through you. Anyone could. It’s not hard to see that someone doesn’t really have your best interests at… Read more »

4 May 1535+
4 May 1535+
13 years ago

The Archbishop and many others seem puzzled (see the discussion going on over at Episcopal Cafe) that the HOB condition their responses on future acts of the GC. As the HOB are a house–the _junior_ house–of the Convention, it seems difficult to see how they can say, “we won’t agree to this now, but GC may say differently”: if they continue to not agree to it, GC by definition can’t say differently. So it looks as though the Bishops are avoiding their duty as teachers of the faith. Let me propose, though, a different way of looking at it: suppose,… Read more »

badman
badman
13 years ago

C.B. I would love it if the ABC did not mean that TEC is out. But! He says you can’t come to Lambeth UNLESS you sign up to the Windsor Report – “acceptance of the invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant.” If you think Windsor is just a report, or a process, you can’t come. You can only come in order to implement Windsor. The Lambeth conference is not “merely a general consultation” (merely, indeed! How… Read more »

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

“The best place for gay men and lesbians is OUTSIDE the Anglican Communion. I want TEC to positively break away and start something new.” It KILLS me to say this . . . but I’m coming to agree w/ Merseymike. Once you get past the UNBELIEVABLE SPIN that is “the 1998 Resolution is the only point of reference clearly agreed by the overwhelming majority of the Communion” (Exsqueeze me?! :-0 The “overwhelming majority of the Communion” are LAY PEOPLE—who weren’t asked—thank you very much! And AS IF that +++Carey-manipulated Instant Disaster could replace TEC’s *decades* of prayerful discernment???), there’s (rather… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Rowan’s suggestions that radical change cannot be determined by one group or tradition alone refutes basic biblical principles. As he wrote “The coming of Christ in the flesh… was not a matter of human planning and ingenuity, nor was it frustrated by human resistance and sin. It was a gift whose reception was made possible by the prayerful obedience of Mary…” Look also Jesus’ parables e.g. the prodigal son’s father arranging celebration, not waiting for the jealous sibling. The wedding feast filled with the riff-raff and the elite excluded because they snubbed the bridegroom (and thus his bride). See other… Read more »

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

(conclusion, from previous post) Part of Rowan’s whole “acceptance of the [Lambeth ’08] invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant” seems to be BASED upon reifying “autocratic episcopal privilege” as an AC-wide LAW. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: TEC’s bishops (especially INCLUDING +GR!) should show up, ready for “prayer, mutual spiritual enrichment and development of ministry.” But they should do so, with the expressed intent of RESISTING “the Conference’s… Read more »

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

For the moment, after reading RW’s Advent Letter, I do not feel all that encouraged. The language of repeated basic respect for queer folks’ civil and human rights rings hollow and empty. If Lambeth and other talk of human rights hasn’t made all that much difference in worldwide Anglican church life, what makes RW formulas any different? Besides. RW talks civil right and human rights, but he never speaks in faith as ABC of the sure scriptural foundations laid/revealed in both the great Summary of the Law and Prophets we have from the NT Jesus of Nazareth, nor of the… Read more »

L Roberts
L Roberts
13 years ago

But the bottom line is Rowan doesn’t want the appearance of he, himself, making the calls. He wants it to look like a “real” consensus. He’s going to continue to use “panels” and “meetings” through which to channel his desires.’

Just like Wotan in Wagner’s Der Ring — and look what happened to him …

( & his ‘Communion’ !! )

David Bayne
David Bayne
13 years ago

Not for the first time I find myself wondering despairingly if our spiritual leader isn’t actually Sir Humphrey Appleby in a pantomime beard. Mind you, having ploughed several times through the verbiage, I can well understand why he might not want to say plainly what he appears to be suggesting so elliptically. If I understand the narrative it goes something like: 1. This is a beastly mess. 2. It’s all the fault of the American liberals – and they haven’t apologised nearly nicely enough. 3. Splitting TEC is OK, but not in an “uncontrolled” way. 4. Clergy and laity don’t… Read more »

Malcolm+
13 years ago

Overall, I think, a very reasonable (if barely readable) attempt to express the current situation fairly while acknowledging the honest (and sometimes less than honest) concerns of either side. However, one line has me enraged. “I have underlined in my letter of invitation that acceptance of the invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the Conference’s agenda that relate to implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant.” The Windsor Report PROPOSED an Anglican Covenant as a way forward. Rowan’s comment here presupposes that participating in Lambeth means accepting a Covenant… Read more »

Phyllis
Phyllis
13 years ago

Merseymike It may very well happen, though it will likely be an expulsion rather than a leaving. As a member of a fairly conservative TEC diocese I can tell you there is no drive to move backward. The people who wanted that have already left. It is a matter of bringing our bishop on board with the lay people. And his heart is in the right place, he just needs the courage. If the ABC thinks we are going back, he needs to think again. If he thinks we are going to become fundamentalists who interpret scripture all one way,… Read more »

Pluralist
13 years ago

Well, Malcolm, the Bishop of Lincoln chairs the Modern Churchpeople’s Union, and it is against the Covenant. I don’t know if he is. It is beginning to feel like that unless you knuckle under the dictates of the one who has no authority, that you are regarded as out. I’m wondering how to work out my place in a local church and participating, because I rather like the place, the people and the activity, whilst saying that the Church of England and me might just part company. I mean, I know what my views are, and I tell anyone, and… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
Davis d'Ambly
13 years ago

“love the sinner, hate the sin”.

Isn’t that a quote from Ghandi the noted conservative evangelical?…

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
13 years ago

Stonewall’s “Bigot of the Year” award is given to “an individual who has gone out of their way to harm, hurt or snub lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the last 12 months”

The way things are going, they’ll have plenty of nominations for this honour until at least Lambeth 2018.

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
13 years ago

What a beautifully straightforward, succinct statement, Phyllis. One that the ABC should read if he really wants to understand how TEC will react at parish level at this point. Thank you.

Mark
Mark
13 years ago

4 May 1535+ said “if they continue to not agree to it, GC by definition can’t say differently. So it looks as though the Bishops are avoiding their duty as teachers of the faith.” I think the point is the present HoB has no mechanism whereby they can bind the hands of a future gathering of the HoB. They can’t say “we won’t ever do this,” all they can say is “we won’t do this now.” Future meetings of the HoB, including as part of GCs, will have different memberships and be facing different situations. What would it mean for… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
13 years ago

Further on 4 May 1535’s analysis:

The current members of the HOB can do nothing that will bind any future makeup of the HOB. That THIS particular group is of a certain mind is not to say that future group–made up of somewhat different individuals–might vote differently at a future meeting.

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

David Bayne on Friday, 14 December 2007 at 10:44pm GMT —
I am sorry, but I think your remarks extremely unfair to the Cabinet Secretary — it seems to me that we are seeing something far more like the civil servants’ description of how politicians act in a crisis:

“1. We must do something!”
“2. This (i.e., The Windsor Report”) is something!”
“3. Therefore, we must do this!”

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
13 years ago

What was that? Lambeth Palace Breaking News (and Episcopal Church faceslapping directive) by +++Rowan Is Archbishop Rowan carefully blocking out the incoming information regarding the dangerous hate/fear mongering at the Anglican Communion in Africa? Does the ABC realize that hate/fear and exclusion/outcasting in African/beyond often results in the demoralization, torture, rape and DEATH of LGBT people (a very sick kind of disease that morally endangers the inflicters as well). Do individual LGBT Christians/others deserve to be ignored/abominated at The Body of Christ? Does the ABC realize that each Christian/other is responsible for OUR own personal character/sin (both in and outside… Read more »

dave paisley
13 years ago

“love the sinner, hate the sin”

…makes about as much sense as “don’t ask, don’t tell”

And we know what a famous success that has been.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“RW has systematically made life more difficult for gay people over and over again, and has tried to harden the mind of the Church against them. this letter ought really to be enough for him to take the title away from the bishop of Hereford.”

But it’s not spectacular enough to be noticed by those that haven’t followed this closely…

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

“The Windsor Report PROPOSED an Anglican Covenant as a way forward.

Rowan’s comment here presupposes that participating in Lambeth means accepting a Covenant as a given.

Yes, it allows for any number of views about what such a Covenant ought to say.

But Covenant there shall be.”

It’s called “buying the pig in the canvas” in Swedish.

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Thank you Cheryl!

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

Phyllis on Friday, 14 December 2007 at 11:04pm GMT —

I think this sums it up very well indeed — even if you wanted to get the toothpaste back in the tube (i.e., the gays in the closet) it simply can’t be done!

“If the ABC thinks we are going back, he needs to think again.” serves as an excellent motto!

Martin Reynolds
13 years ago

There are some very good comments here. In my view Malcolm and David Bayne accurately capture the tone and content of the piece – for my own money (looking at that tone) I would say that large sections were drafted by Tom Wright. Overall it is a fairly desperate last attempt to salvage something from the failed Windsor Process. But threatening to nail people to the wall if they aren’t pro-Covenant seems as silly as the suggestion there is only one acceptable theology of episcopacy. Nothing but further trouble will come of this. From what I hear there are a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
13 years ago

“The best place for gay men and lesbians is inside the Anglican Communion.” I agree. We have done more to change people’s views by simply living openly among them than I could have imagined. But a number of our friends and family have been so disappointed by the church’s official treatment of gay people that they have abandoned their already frayed loyalty to the church. They truly cannot see why we still hang around. There are only a few people here who find it strange that we’re a happy open family. There are even fewer who understand why we still… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

Pluralist wrote: “To me, again as an immediate reaction, the Anglican Communion is too weak, and it is not the body that can do this, and efforts to strengthen it will just weaken it further. We even have Rowan Williams questioning the qualified episcopacy of TEC – well if that is also a very serious concern (as the bishops will wait for the General Convention and is decision making) then perhaps this whole exercise is wasting its time.” I find it extraordinary that Dr Rowan cannot get his facts right about TEC’s ecclesiology, promenading an ecclesiology which seems more Roman… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
13 years ago

They will never “recognise that other local churches have received the same faith from the apostles and are faithfully holding to it in loyalty to the One Lord incarnate who speaks in Scripture and bestows his grace in the sacraments.” It would destroy their only argument. What enables this is, of course, Dr Rowan’s co-dependency and aggressive-passive Jesus-complex, manifested in the shocking statement: “And this is also why I have said that the refusal to meet can be a refusal of the cross – and so of the resurrection.” I agree with what Poppy Tucker said: “People have talked a… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

You’re welcome, Goran. Thank you David B for referring us to the Scottish word “scunnered”. Hopefully this link will remain valid and other an apprecaite the breadth of your emotions http://waf.eps.hw.ac.uk/Word%20of%20the%20Week%20pages/SWOW%20archive%20page%203.htm Got to love the Scots. They stopped the Romans in the tracks, and July 7 Gleneagles with the attempted diversion in London did more to heal the religionS of the nationS than any intervention by God could. I’m with those who query the validity of Rowan’s obessions with a proposed covenant. For two main reasons. Firstly, it refutes the basic covenants put forward in the bible as being sufficient.… Read more »

David Bayne
David Bayne
13 years ago

Prior Aelred, re Cabinet Secretary.

I take your point, and am suitably contrite. I was remembering that Sir Humphrey’s principal attribute in a crisis was the ability to unleash a torrent of officialese of such ferocious complexity as to deprive it of any meaning whatsoever, or alternatively, to allow it to mean anything he might thereafter wish it to mean. Remind you of anything?

The sad thing is that, while Sir Humphrey was a creation of comic genius, this is for real.

Neil
Neil
13 years ago

Pluralist – I sympathise with your views, and am not at all persuaded by any Covenant that would turn us in my view into a confessional church. I do not yet see any significant opposition to the Covenant process on the ground from priests or laity in the CofE – due simply to ignorance. There is passionate opposition from me because I read TA – but surely I would not be the only priest to resist/ignore/reject any Covenant by the time one is forced on the CofE? I have not been consulted at any level at all – and neither… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
13 years ago

Erika asks “Does anyone take the effect all this is having on the wider community into account?” The answer is: no. I don’t suppose the majority of people in the pews, let alone the much larger community of nominal Anglicans, give a toss about our insular ecclesiastical strife. ABC may be right to say “It is too easy to make the debate a standoff between those who are ‘for’ and those who are ‘against’ the welcoming of homosexual people in the Church”, but to the wider world this it is exactly what the row is about, and a clear matter… Read more »

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