Thinking Anglicans

church press reports on the Advent Letter

Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times Williams wants to see main antagonists face to face.

George Conger reports in the Church of England Newspaper Archbishop’s warning to conservatives.

The Living Church had Archbishop of Canterbury Addresses Communion Tensions in Letter to Primates.

The Tablet has a report by Victoria Combe which is not yet available online but is headlined Williams unveils plan to save Anglican Communion and starts out:

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a master plan for the survival of the Anglican Communion last week, warning the opposing sides that refusing to meet was “a refusal of the Cross and so of the Resurrection”.

In his Advent letter, sent to 38 primates across the world, Archbishop Rowan Williams sought to offer strong leadership to his increasingly fractured Church…”


  • badman says:

    The Archbishop of Canterbury’s interview on Radio 5 Live is also interesting; it covers Christmas, the Anglican Communion and a lot else as well. Audio link at

    It followed a well-publicised sparring session with the comedian Ricky Gervais, which can be seen on YouTube at

  • Pluralist says:

    Most press reports do not seem to get the more solid linkage between buying the schismatics’ theology – the one way to read the Bible, the impact on ministry (allvia mutual expectations on the Churches), and the effect of centralising through Instruments of Communion via the Covenant, which would attempt to freeze Protestant belief style a neo-Roman Catholicism based on those instruments.

    However, one result of such centralisation is that the Churches could legally continue to ignore such Instruments and make their own arrangements of who they recognise, and actually the centralised Communion in effect become worse off as a result of this process. Nevertheless, one way or another, this centralising process leads to one side, or the centre, becoming diminished in authority and recognition.

  • christopher+ says:

    The Archbishop of Canterbury says:

    [The 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution on sexuality] “is the only point of reference clearly agreed by the overwhelming majority of the Communion.”

    Well, “agreed” anyway by the majority of bishops who happened to vote on that particular resolution at that particular conference – and just how much even they all “agreed” is apparently open for discussion.

    It seems fair enough to say this 1998 resolution reflects a snapshot of the “mind of the bishops” (on some level) and is indeed thus a “point of reference.” It goes entirely too far, however, to say that this highly controversial resolution somehow reflects agreement by “the overwhelming majority of the Communion.” Unless, of course, “the Communion” is comprised only of bishops.

    And then there is this problem:

    Whether any of us choose to see it or not, whether direct or indirect in effect, Lambeth 1.10 is just one more on-the-record Christian contribution to the environment of emotional and physical violence against gay people. It is one more religiously sanctioned permission slip for marginalizing those many take to be the very least among us, if they be allowed among us at all. (For surely we can all agree the “listening process” has been slow, limited and halfhearted at best; we hear far more about “standards of teaching” than standards of listening.)

    The Archbishop’s “overwhelming majority” may perhaps be very pleased with themselves, but can the rest of us be?

  • Graham Kings says:

    Pluralist, you say the Advent Letter implies ‘the one way to read the Bible’. However, the Advent Letter is careful to state specifically:

    ‘We recognise each other in one fellowship when we see one another ‘standing under’ the word of Scripture. Because of this recognition, we are able to consult and reflect together on the interpretation of Scripture and to learn in that process. Understanding the Bible is not a private process or something to be undertaken in isolation by one part of the family. Radical change in the way we read cannot be determined by one group or tradition alone.’

  • Pluralist says:

    christopher+’s comments show the two sided nature of this, one that some in authority deem it fit to sacrifice others into their continuing marginal status, but the other (where I admit I mainly concentrate) is the institutional result of such, which is the attempt to box in, to limit, to centralise, to effectively change the institution along the lines of another variant of Christianity.

  • Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    The Archbishop of Canterbury says:

    [The 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution on sexuality] “is the only point of reference clearly agreed by the overwhelming majority of the Communion.”

    Just as that previous resolution condemning family planning stands as the last word from the bishops on that subject?

    And how about the bishops who voted against the 1998 resolution?

    Grasping at straws.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “many take to be the very least among us”

    I am gay, and not over sympathetic to the Right on this issue, but I find it difficult to consider most North American gay people as “the very least among us.” Now, there are those who are on the street, forced into prostitution because their parents have disowned them. Many of them end up dead within five years. But they also are not Church members, by and large. They would certainly fit the bill for “least” in society at large, and we should be ministering to them, where they are, not requiring them to fall in heaps of remorseful tears before we tell them God loves them. Whether or not +Gene or SSBs will make their lot easier is debatable, but let’s get real. Those in the Church who are arguing for gay inclusion are not “the least among us”. They may be arguing for inclusion of those who ARE, and who are outside the Church, but that’s another story.

  • Hugh of Lincoln says:

    Ricky confronts Rowan with the comparison between religions “One says God says homosexuality is wrong and should be stoned to death [sic], and the other says all men are equal”, to which ABC replies: “Do you think fundamentalist religion is the only real kind then?”. Ha ha!

    Mayo’s interview was a disappointment. A fluffy, pre-Christmas chat about the Wise Men and whether ABC enjoys his job – but didn’t get to the heart of the issues of concern – the content of the Advent letter. Perhaps Paxo or Humphries would have extracted something of substance: the future of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion; the reasons for excluding Bishop Robinson from Lambeth; or whether the Church of England will eventually bless civil partnerships. Either the licence-fee payer is not getting value for money, or does ABC stipulate the sorts of topics which are off-limits? Is this why he won’t speak to certain papers, as Andrew Brown reveals in today’s Church Times?

  • JCF says:

    “Pluralist, you say the Advent Letter implies ‘the one way to read the Bible’. However, the Advent Letter is careful to state…”

    I’m tempted say “there’s no ‘however’ to it”, Graham.

    At the very least, it seems to me that Pluralist’s take is *one valid interpretation* of the ABC’s quote.

  • JCF says:

    To comment further on the Advent Letter (apropos the CT’s summation):

    “An unequivocal reminder of the duty to condemn homophobic prejudice and violence is followed by the “deeper question” about faithfulness to scripture, moral tradition, and lifestyles.”

    I believe this is precisely bass-ackwards.

    Protecting the dignity of ALL the Imago Dei, including homosexuals, IS the “deeper question” of faithfulness—compared to the ever-shifting sands re INTERPRETATION of “scripture, moral tradition, and lifestyles.”

    I pray that Rowan’s eyes be opened (as I similarly pray for us all). Lord, grant us More Light!

  • Well done Christopher+

    Indeed the sins of Lambeth 1998 rest with the participants of 1998. The vast majority of current bishops who were and are and wish to be might be prepared to continue to sacrifice others in order to maintain their scroogy existences.

    Others look on and see how their self absorption and self righteousness has allowed them to tolerate intergenerational poverty, condone just war theory and renounce covenants made to all humanity including the everlasting covenant of peace and covenants of fruitfulness to eunuchs.

    The scrooges might be happy in their high temples, the masses in the streets know how hard their hearts are and how tight their pockets.

  • Pluralist says:

    It is the one way to read the Bible, according to Lambeth 1998 1:10, in order for local Anglican Churches to recognise that other Churches are keeping the essentials of the faith. If one innovates in this reading, says the Archbishop, then it risks being declared a failed Church – something for the clearer Instruments of Communion.

    Oh there are lots of ways of reading the Bible, and interpreting and coming under scripture: after all, the Archbishop has just told us that the Virgin Birth is no barrier to being Christian. However, what happens if the various Churches expect the Virgin Birth to be essential when an Archbishop teaches that he came to see its value as a tradition handed down and the meaning of it, but that others may have a different view? Does this mean that the Church of England should be investigated?

    This is why the Advent Letter, on its own, is nuts, and why the whole thing is a rebounded joke, as the Advent Letter pokes a face at well over a hundred and fifty of years of reasonable theology and varied interpretation.

  • L Roberts says:

    Yes Williams is clearly saying that there is but one way to read the Bible. Yet, protestantism has long been about people reading (in both senses) the bible for ourselves.

    Rowan Williams was one of the (200 odd ? ) signatories of a bishops’ letter dissenting from 1.10 and apologising to lesbians and gays. Has he forgotten this ? Can he so lightly disown it or what ?

  • Christopher says:

    It seems our bishops keep mixing up doctrine and discipline to our great downfall. The Canadian St. Michael’s Report was so very good and careful in this regard thanks to the outgoing +Matthews, among others.

  • Pluralist says:

    I have a verbatim account of the relevant part of the Radio 5 Live Interview towards the end of here:

    It is better than the one given in the Daily Telegraph; I’d also like to think that I have a better assessment of it.

    There is some argument about his “I should think so”

    [Simon Mayo] So let’s start with it. So we’ve got the baby Jesus in a manger; historically and factually true?

    Rowan Williams: I should think so. Um, the Gospel tells us he was born outside the main house, probably because it was overcrowded, because it was pilgrimage time or census time; whatever. Yep, he’s born in poor circumstances, slightly… slightly out of the ordinary.

  • John Simmons says:

    L Roberts wrote

    “Rowan Williams was one of the (200 odd ? ) signatories of a bishops’ letter dissenting from 1.10”

    Not so. There was no mention of 1.10 in the letter, and no corporate dissension from it. The signatories were of varying positions on the central issue. Indeed some of them voted for resolution 1.10 and some against.

    Simply signing the pastoral letter was not of itself indicative one way or the other of someone’s position on the admissibility of a homosexual lifestyle.

    There are other reasons for believing the archbishop reads (or used to read) the Bible not according to Lambeth 1.10, but this is not one.

  • Leonardo Ricardo says:

    George Congers “Gay Agenda” (repeated) smears/scare tactics are bordering on, shall we say, dimly lit?

  • christopher+ says:

    Ford Elms,

    I certainly see your point about well-off North Americans not being the “least” in society. This is entirely true by general standards. My point, however, is more theological than general; it is that, in Christ, there is no one who is truly “least” among us. This draws, for example, on Matthew 25:31 and following: “…just as you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to me.” Jesus’ identity with the marginalized is so complete, in other words, that what any of us does to “the least” of Jesus brethren, we do to Jesus Himself.

    There are certainly many Christians who would seek at all costs to avoid applying this biblical notion to GLBT people. Yet, whether we take “the least among us” to be hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in prison or, to draw on another biblical understanding of “the least,” children, the point is that no one is really “least” in Christ. Whenever we, as Christians, think we’ve pinpointed just the one who is to be marginalized or excluded, we had better ask ourselves whether we’ve simply become fixated on a new variation of “leastness.”

    As to the effect of the Anglican Communion’s fork-tongued appeals for general niceness to gay people even though an “overwhelming majority” actually believe their existence to be fundamentally at odds with Holy Scripture (and thus God’s will), you make a very good point. GLBT youth are indeed disproportionately represented among the homeless and destitute. And we Anglicans are – still, for the moment – just one more group of Christians giving their parents (and society) implicit, religious permission to be done with them.

    “By their fruits,” Jesus said, “you will know them.”

  • Had it been clear that the “pastoral care” for gay and lesbian people referred to in Lambeth 1.10.c was intended only for those who were seeking to conform with the church’s “moral direction” and for “transformation” in their lives, I think the number of dissenters would have been far higher than 185. I know of a number of bishops who voted for the resolution only because they read this clause in a far more liberal sense, and a broader interpretation of what “listening” meant. There is at least one name on the dissenting list who voted for the resolution (E Don Taylor Assistant in NY). Clearly the bishops were divided by a common language, and divided in mind as well. This was not the “mind” of the house, but a very perplexed and divided statement; and under no conceivable understanding a “consensus.”

  • L Roberts says:


    185 in fact. See

    Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 9:10am GMT

    Thanks for the numbers SS., and also for giving the live link.

    I have found it useful to read it again. The tone is very different from RW’s recent words on the subject, which have felt more like pronouncements in some ways.

  • drdanfee says:

    I fully agree that Lambeth 1998 1.10 is not the grand apostolic position statement the realignment believers so often claim it to be. It seems well and good on the surfaces, but rather quickly falls apart upon any scrutiny or pressure. It is full of cover phrases, like mentions of pastoral care and listening, which left unclear can mean just about whatever you with them to mean, right or left or mixed middles.

    Then, too, it appears in retrospect that many who voted for it thought it was, in effect, a cease fire agreement. And of course that is not what it has turned out to be. What in Anglican leeway cannot be used to burn the larger worldwide house down, given the volatile accelerants of the con evo realignment campaign? That is the dodgy, difficult question for Rowan to ponder, and so far I think he shows little signs of getting the outside funders’ realignment campaign point – we’re taking over your church, and we’re taking it over now.

    Even saying that sex is incompatible with scripture rather finesses the critical point: Is that reading of scripture honest, hermeneutically exclusive, closed, and above all, the most loving thing a loving God has to say to citizens who are not straight (and probably will never be straight?)?

    Kudos to Lord Carey and his colleagues, then, for publishing this mess in a rush campaign to head off the real Anglican news of Lambeth 1998: Our Anglican views are changing with much fear and trembling as new surprise data becomes available about the naturalness and competency of being a queer person.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “The tone is very different from RW’s recent words on the subject”

    Especially if you look at this sentence:

    “We pledge that we will continue to reflect, pray and work for your full inclusion in the life of the Church.”

    Funny way of working for our full inclusion. Unless even then he meant “provided you stick to the very narrow interpretation of what I know God likes and what he doesn’t”.

  • “… we have met a climate of enormous diversity…”

    “… enormous hostility…”, surely?

  • Very different from what, exactly?

    from the Cantuar bits or the Dunhelm bits?

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