Thinking Anglicans

God, Gays and the Church

Tomorrow in The Times Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correpondent, and Philip Webster, Political Editor report that: Archbishop faces critics on his day of judgment:

An embattled Archbishop of Canterbury will confront anger within the Church of England as, on this most critical day of his five years in office, he tries to justify his remarks about Islamic law.

Dr Rowan Williams will open the General Synod in Central London this afternoon with a presidential address in which he will show that he can weather the storm over his recent remarks. He will attempt to set the record straight, insisting that he never advocated a “parallel jurisdiction” of Sharia.

The Archbishop, whose liberal stance has provoked fury among evangelicals, will face further pressure when a senior bishop launches a renewed attack on the Church’s approach to homosexuality.

The Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester and fifth most senior clergyman in the hierarchy, will give warning that the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships.

The issue of homosexuality and the Church is due to be debated by Synod when the Covenant, a new agreement on doctrine supported by Dr Williams, is examined on Wednesday.

In a forward to God, Gays and the Church, a book to be published this week and seen by The Times, Bishop Scott-Joynt attacks what he calls the “public advocating and vaunting of behaviour contrary to the teaching of the Church of England” at last year’s Synod, which was presided over by Dr Williams…

For more background to this book, see Anglican Mainstream’s announcement: God, Gays and the Church and also the announcement by The Latimer Trust God, Gays & the Church: Human Sexuality in Christian Thinking

Also the same journalists have this: Row over gay clergy threatens to divide a Synod still reeling over Sharia furore:

…In a new book, God, Gays and the Church, the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, attacks the acceptance of “alternative, revisionist teaching” on the issue of homosexuality.

Bishop Scott-Joynt, referring to a debate on sexuality at the synod last February, claims that there was a “public advocating and vaunting of behaviour contrary to the teaching of the Church of England”. Several priests in that debate spoke openly of the joy and fulfilment they get from being in openly gay relationships, even though official church discipline demands that gay clergy be celibate.

Bishop Scott-Joynt condemns the fact that personal experience appears to be given the same weight as Scripture, tradition and the Church in the debate over homosexuality…

And Ruth Gledhill has this comment piece: The intellectual arrogance that pervades the heart of Lambeth Palace wisdom:

…Dr Williams was advised before his speech on Thursday evening that the content could prove controversial. He heeded the warnings but went ahead anyway. He was “taken aback” by just how controversial it then proved but remains “chirpy” and unrepentant about his comments because he believes that they needed to be made.

Although he is a holy and spiritual man, danger lies in the appearance of the kind of intellectual arrogance common to many of Britain’s liberal elite. It is an arrogance that affords no credibility or respect to the popular voice. And although this arrogance, with the assumed superiority of the Oxbridge rationalist, is not shared by his staff at Lambeth Palace, it is by some of those outside Lambeth from whom he regularly seeks counsel…

Read the whole article for more on the Lambeth Palace scene.

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Justin Lewis-Anthony
13 years ago

More of the same from Ruth Gledhill. The attitude was best summed up, I think, by Jay Fout on his Gower Street blog (gowerstreet.blogspot.com):

“the media and its audience cannot be expected to take the time and mental effort to understand something complex or nuanced, and so it was the archbishop’s own fault that he was misunderstood.”

Pluralist
13 years ago

Once again this is just Ruth Gledhill stirring an already stirring pot. It is the sual stock phrases: “common to many of Britain’s liberal elite” and “The Archbishop, whose liberal stance”. Easy to write and meaningless. Williams’s theology represents a kind of conserving in the detail postmodern theology. It might be more story based than objective reality (but he tries to force one to become the other) but this is a theology of groups and packages whole. This, when it is extended to other faiths, becomes their packages and represents their communities, and so all start running in parallel. He… Read more »

Counterlight
13 years ago

“The Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester and fifth most senior clergyman in the hierarchy, will give warning that the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships.” I think the Church’s integrity is already undermined by its policies of segregation, and by teaching that segregation is divinely mandated. Much as I complain about ++Williams, I think the whole controversy over his remarks about Sharia law will ultimately prove to be a tempest in a teapot. When that day comes, there will be a lot of very embarrassed people, but one of them… Read more »

JCF
JCF
13 years ago

“Bishop Scott-Joynt condemns the fact that personal experience appears to be given the same weight as Scripture, tradition and the Church in the debate over homosexuality…”

Translation: “I condemn the fact that too many people aren’t listening to what I, Bishop Scott-Joynt, *SAY* are ‘Scripture, tradition and the Church’ in the debate over homosexuality!”

Won’t get fooled again, +Winchester. “Public advocating and vaunting” are here to stay, while your days of kicking us back into the closet are OVER.

Come, Liberating Lord Christ! 😀

JPM
JPM
13 years ago

Is this the same Michael Scott-Joynt who, according to Wikipedia, “chaired a committee in 2000, which urged a lifting of the ban on remarriage of divorcees whose former spouse was still living. The report insisted that the Church of England was not abandoning its position that marriage is for life, but rather acknowledging the situation of many within society whose former marriages had long ceased to have any real existence.”

It never ceases to amaze me how many of these stern moralizers have no trouble at all with adultery.

Daniel
Daniel
13 years ago

When you remember in what glowing terms Ruth Gledhill described Dr Williams prior to his selection for Canterbury, especially with regard to his intellect, this is rather surprising…I’ve been really disappointed by The Times in the past week: appalling reporting (with some exceptions) and ridiculous comment.

poppy tupper
poppy tupper
13 years ago

whatever else ruth gledhill may get right or wrong, i think she is correct in pointing to rw’s arrogance. please may we expect an apology today for bringing the c of e into disrepute by not being more circumspect in his way of doing things? may we expect a statement that he may, just may be wrong? may we expect a statement that he may, just may, have made an error of judgement? may we expect a wide consultation with serious anglicans, in private, as to whether they think it would be helpful for the c of e if he… Read more »

Dave Rattigan
13 years ago

I have to agree, I’ve been very surprised (and disappointed) at how Gledhill has handled this story. Rather than provide a nuanced view, she seems to have glibly gone along with the media frenzy, which has all the nuance of a bull in a china shop.

MRG
MRG
13 years ago

Ruth Gledhill really is the consummate drama queen (narrowly pipping even the Bishop of Rochester in the screaming theatrics department). If there isn’t some impending crisis in the Church, she is determined to imagine one. Yesterday I heard her on Radio 4 comparing Rowan to St Thomas Becket – I suspect she’d like nothing more than a bit of blood to be spilled on the altars. Nevertheless, I suspect that the Synod will have much more pressing, humdrum things with which to concern itself than the views of the endlessly chattering MS-J. If I were the Times I would send… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships” See, that’s odd. from what I hear, the integrity of the Church has been undermined by its explicit acceptance of the principle: “Don’t do it if the Bible says it’s wrong, except divorce, oh, and except usury, oh and except killing other people, oh and stealing other people’s children and beating them if they speak their own language. Well that last one’s not spelled out in the Bible, so it must be OK. Oh, and slander and reviling, Paul wasn’t really serious about those. And he… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
13 years ago

“Although he is a holy and spiritual man, danger lies in the appearance of the kind of intellectual arrogance common to many of Britain’s liberal elite. It is an arrogance that affords no credibility or respect to the popular voice.”

I find this amazing! I want to place the word “hack” in somewhere and turn this analysis back on Ruth Gledhill and those of her profession she represents, but I just can’t be bothered.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

Well said, Justin Lewis-Anthony. The press are quite happy to have a massive audience and some influence in forming the opinions of that audience; but should they make any effort to gain the appropriate amount of understanding for such an office? They (or some of them) say no (privileges without responsibilities); we say yes (with privilege comes responsibility).

acb
acb
13 years ago

There is a specific and complete answer to Justin Lewis-Anthony which is that the media spend most of their time reacting to other media. I’m sorry this is the case. But it is a fact and not one anybody knows how to change. Almost all of the story arose from the interview on World at One, not from the lecture. In every newspaper office in the country there are people whose job it is to listen to that programme in the hope that it will have a story. All they need is one soundbite and they will fall on it… Read more »

christopher+
christopher+
13 years ago

JPM,

You are quite right – very well put! It’s never quite heterodoxy when it’s something “THEY” think is valid or justified, is it?

As to this…

“Bishop Scott-Joynt condemns the fact that personal experience appears to be given the same weight as Scripture, tradition and the Church in the debate over homosexuality…”

The good bishop appears to be sitting on a somewhat different three-legged stool. Reason anyone? Reason?

Malcolm+
13 years ago

While Ruth is needlessly stirring the pot and giving vent to her own biasses, her criticisms of Rowan’s Lambeth are not without merit. However, I’d more attribute it to a perverse naivite rather than arrogance. At some point, Rowan needs to get a grip on the fact that he is not talking to a classroom of divinity students, nor to a clergy retreat. He also needs to learn that reporters are not looking for (and sometimes not even capable of) nuance. Despite its own lousy reputation, public relations is actually about helping people ensure that the public hears what they’re… Read more »

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

I was going to point our that the Bishop of Winchester’s remark:
“the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships”
really ought have been:
“the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its refusal to bless same-sex relationships”
but I see that others have preceded me.
What an interesting concept of “integrity” Bishop Scott-Joynt must have (“Four leg good, two legs bad!” where four legs = divorce & two legs = gays)

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

Sometimes Ruth Gledhill really does come over as not very bright.

Ignorance is no excuse, Ruth, and nor should it be something we promote.

We need to move past soundbites – I thought the mission of the Times was to explain – not to carp because it may take a bit of thought to fathom out whats being said?

That isn’t to encourage obfuscation, but come on, Ruth, get the brain into gear? Or maybe the Daily Mail beckons?

Anthony W
Anthony W
13 years ago

“It is if you like a structural sin.”

And I think it has been since the beginnings of the popular press in the eighteenth century.

Cheryl Va. Clough
13 years ago

Dave You should watch the episode of “Mythbusters” when they let the bulls loose in a China shop. They were more like ballerinas and not one bit of china was broken. The disappointed scientists had to go in with hammers and enthusiasm and do what the bulls had failed to do for them. I always giggle about proponents of structural sin, especially those who hark back to Eve’s big mistake. They repudiate the very point of Jesus’ incarnation and sacrifice and thus their theology implodes upon itself. It’s no wonder they have to use so much bravado, marketing, censorship, lobbying… Read more »

John Omani
John Omani
13 years ago

Poppy – I sympathise with your frustrations, especially at the way in which RW is pampered by liberal Anglicans in spite of his deeply reactionary agenda. But his position is no more illiberal than that of many conservative prelates, and they would never dream of apologising for taking such positions. I think that liberal minded people stick by him rather because he is more generous, subtle, and measured in the way he pursues that agenda than any of his rivals are likely to be. It is absolutely baffling that Ruth Gledhill believes that Williams takes a ‘liberal stance’ and is… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

John: I don’t think its as simple as that. He is trying to work through how a pluralist society should operate in terms of the place of religion in the civil law. I don’t think there is a simple liberal-conservative divide. For example, some conservative Christians think that we should stress theocracy and the primacy of Christianity, and Muslims should be told to become Christians. They believe in public religion as long as it is Christianity. Liberals appeared to react quite differently to the idea of exemptions and where they should lie and what the boundaries should be. More broadly,… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Hugh of Lincoln
13 years ago

I note the book contains: “academic contributions from experts in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy…”.

In the light of their contribution to the Listening Process, The Royal College of Psychiatrists might question the use of the words “academic”, “experts”, “psychology” and “psychotherapy”.

John Omani
John Omani
13 years ago

‘I think the secularist pluralist approach is the only one which can work. Plurality and freedom to practice private religion, but no favour or legal exemption in the public sphere.’

I completely agree. My frustration is that RW will not take the opportunity to explore this option, and yet, as Simon Barrow noted, this could be the most hopeful and genuinely cohesive move of all.

Commentator
Commentator
13 years ago

Reading the comments of contributors here about the Bishop of Winchester’s approach to Holy Scripture in relation to divorce and re-marriage as opposed to same-sex couples, I do so hope that there will be equal openness and clarity on the floor of General Synod should he rise to address the Synod. I trust that all those reviewing his book will do likewise.

Merseymike
Merseymike
13 years ago

I agree, John, but to me it simply says why the church is utterly irrelevant to contemporary society and is simply not on the same wavelength. Conservatives will welcome this, of course, but in this instance, the arguments are not being framed in the way they like because all religions are seen as valid in RW’s thinking.

Prior Aelred
13 years ago

Merseymike, John Omani & Simon Barrow (at one remove) — “the secularist pluralist approach” is the obvious one to me, probably because I’m on this side of the pond — trying to come up with special categories for every conceivable religious point of view is manifestly impossible.

Liberal secularism can have its blind spots, but not only is it self-correcting, it provides the most just & level playing field for people to exercise their religious convictions (or lack thereof).

choirboyfromhell
choirboyfromhell
13 years ago

The “intellectual arrogance” of the “liberal elite” only manifests itself when the patience of the above is exhausted with the willful, deliberate and proud ignorance of those too stubborn to study, learn and love the living God that encompasses us all.

ezlxq
ezlxq
13 years ago

It appears that G,G&C is only available through The Latimer Trust, and has not been distributed to the wider booktrade (or what’s left of it). Dunno though, the Brewers might stock it???

Neil Barber
Neil Barber
13 years ago

The book is available at a discounted price here:

http://www.latimertrust.org/ggc.htm

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

For those who bothered noticing, +Rowan already handled the handling of the sharia issue with far more grace than anyone else making their feelings felt, taking a bit of the blame for the mess himself: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1581 . As far as I’m concerned that effectively closes the matter.

As for `”the Church’s integrity has been “gravely undermined” by its implicit acceptance of same-sex relationships”‘

Yes, quite. If you want integrity, wake up and accept *ex*plicitly.

I wonder if that’s what he meant? 😉

Malcolm+
13 years ago

“taking a bit of the blame for the mess himself”

Yes, that’s good.

But really “taking a bit of the blame” would surely include taking some action to minimize the likeihood of suck cock-ups in the future.

Rowan Cantuar clearly doesn’t get that effective communications for a public figure differs from effective communications for an Oxbridge Don. Reports indicate that his communications / public relations support is understaffed, marginalized and largely ignored.

Yet Rowan does not seem to grasp that the constant series of firestorms might possibly be related to the lack of (or ignoring of) effective communications counsel.

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