Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Durham and GAFCON

In his Fulcrum lecture last Saturday, Bishop Tom Wright said this (emphasis added):

…Fourth, we have seen, predictably but sadly, the rise of the super-apostles, who have wanted everything to be cut and dried in ways for which our existing polity simply did not, and does not, allow. Please note, I do not for one moment underestimate the awful situation that many of our American and Canadian friends have found themselves in, vilified, attacked and undermined by ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles. I pray daily for many friends over there who are in intolerable situations and I don’t underestimate the pressures and strains. But I do have to say, as well, that these situations have been exploited by those who have long wanted to shift the balance of power in the Anglican Communion and who have used this awful situation as an opportunity to do so. And now, just as the super-apostles were conveying the message to Paul that if he wanted to return to Corinth he’d need letters of recommendation, we are told that, if we want to go on being thought of as evangelicals, we should withdraw from Lambeth and join the super-gathering which, though not officially, is clearly designed as an alternative, and which of course hands an apparent moral victory to those who can cheerfully wave goodbye to the ‘secessionists’. I have written about this elsewhere, and it is of course a very sad situation which none of us (I trust) would wish but which seems to be worsening by the day…

This has been commented on at Fulcrum by Graham Kings who suggests that this is a response to what the Dean of Sydney said:

Phillip Jensen, in his address in Sydney on 14 March 2008, ‘The Limits of Fellowship’, said:

To those bishops who go to Lambeth knowing the unrepentant homosexual activity is wrong – your profession of evangelical credentials will always be tarnished.

And he also explains the reference to elsewhere in the last sentence quoted above:

…that last sentence, which refers to an earlier article. This, it seems to me, is the one written for the Church Times, 28 January 2008, and co-published with permission on Fulcrum, ‘Evangelicals are not about to jump ship’

In that earlier article, Bishop Tom had said (again emphasis added):

The rationale of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) is: “The Communion is finished; nothing new can happen; it’s time to split.” No mention is made of the Windsor report, the proposed Anglican Covenant, or, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, insisting as it does on scriptural authority, which GAFCON seems to regard as its monopoly.

That last point is crucial. To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture. But they have marshalled impressive support, particularly from great leaders like Henry Orombi of Uganda.

And later:

Our Communion has for the past five years been living through 2 Corinthians: the challenge to re-establish an authority based on the gospel alone and embodied in human weakness. Inevitably, “super-apostles” then emerge, declaring that such theology is for wimps.

To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full mission of God’s kingdom which an older Evangelicalism often ignores.

Those who want to be biblical should ponder what the Bible itself says about such things. There are many in the GAFCON movement whom I admire and long to see at Lambeth, but the movement itself is deeply flawed. It does not hold the moral, biblical, or Evangelical high ground.

To say no to GAFCON is not to say yes to the revisionist agendas prevailing in much of the Episcopal Church in the US. It is to say yes to a Lambeth Conference based on and taking forward the Archbishop’s agenda of Windsor and the Covenant, in pursuit of what Dr Williams refers to in his recent letter as “an authoritative common voice”.

Anglican Mainstream has responded to the recent lecture by publishing an article by Charles Raven Gospel Grip and Fulcrum Fantasy – a response to Tom Wright’s Fulcrum Conference Lecture ‘Conflict and Covenant in the Bible’. (Mr Raven is now Senior Minister of Christ Church Wyre Forest.)

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Mark SmalePat O'NeillchoirboyfromhellFr MarkBen W Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

“To those bishops who go to Lambeth knowing the unrepentant homosexual activity is wrong” Unrepentant homosexual activity AT Lambeth? Perhaps Phillip Jensen is revealing more than he thinks he is! ;-p (And obviously, this isn’t including +Gene Robinson, who—being partnered—is the only one at Lambeth who WOULDN’T have to repent of said activity!) *** “To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full… Read more »

r
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r

I would like to comment on Dean Jensens’s view of tarnish. He states that to go to Lambeth is to compromise the truth. Dean Jensen does not believe that women should preach to mixed congregations, yet he allows the ordination of preaching women deacons in his Cathedral. Dean jensen regards the Roman Catholic understanding of the Gopsel and sacraments as serious error..yet he advocates attendance at GAFCON, where Anglo-catholics who have taken on board that theology will be present. My question is if the bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson are wrong, is not by his own standards Doctor Nazir Ali… Read more »

badman
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badman

The Bishop of Durham has been particularly anguished about the divisions being fostered by Akinola/Minns/GAFCON et al. He said some time ago that there would be no winners, only losers. The Church of England (as the Archbishop of Canterbury has stressed) is often seen as a rope of three strands of churchmanship: liberal, Anglo-Catholic and evangelical. The liberals have been on the slide because liberals are increasingly secular in Britain. The Anglo-Catholics lost their former position of great strength in the Church of England when so many defected over the ordination of women. This left evangelicals in a stronger position… Read more »

badman
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badman

Charles Raven is an interesting example of the GAFCON church in England. He is ordained (the Rev Charles Raven) but his byline on Virtue Online describes his church at Christ Church Wyre Forest as “an independent Anglican congregation but located within Worcester Diocese.” He has explained: “In 1999, I and my parish church broke fellowship with the then Bishop of Worcester, Peter Selby, as a result of his public denunciation of Lambeth 1.10 and his patronage of the gay/lesbian pressure group Changing Attitude.” So he was well in the vanguard of the tiny numbers of evangelicals who propose, unambiguously, to… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

The problem is what Wright believes.

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Raven didn’t leave ….he was pushed. Carey had no time for his appeal, and called his bluff. Since then Carey has become more sympathetic to leavers.

Ben w
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Ben w

JCF,

It is evident one can say almost anything here, and some do. For example this – Evangelical…”and so is the rest of TEC.” What to make of this? Here language has lost all meaning. The only question, to what end does one say something like this? To sow confusion and build walls!?

Ben W

Pluralist
Guest

I’ve made extended comment; similar to badman in some respects.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/04/more-wright-and-wrong.html

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

Bishop Tom’s lecture helps to clarify the philosophical basis underpinning Windsor and the Covenant. He urges us to study 2 Corinthians, not without some humour, as in his parody of Chapter 11.22 in the CT article: (Are they Hebrews? So am I…): “Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I…”. GAFCON’s bright brash super-apostles are asked to live the death and resurrection and come to Lambeth. Is Charles Raven right in relation to Chapter 11? Aren’t the letters being sent out to TEC’s Covenant doubters… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Ben W, Thank you for calling my attention to the mistake I made in my previous post. I *meant* to say [about being Evangelical) “so am *I* . . . and so is the rest of ***the democratic-majority*** of TEC.” Obviously, there is a minority (reflected at the past two General Conventions) that, having failed to persuade the majority w/ their BAD News, is set upon being as vocal w/ the Bad News (esp. to the rest of the AC) as possible! “to what end does one say something like this? To sow confusion and build walls!?” TEC has the… Read more »

Mark Wharton
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Mark Wharton

I think that we must stop thinking that those in the GAFCON arrangement are simply doing this out of spite; they and I with them, really do believe that we must defend what Holy scripture says and uphold it.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

But can you not see that those who you would label as liberal revisionists feel equally convinced and passionately about their beliefs, Mark?

Of course, the logic is a cross-national split of the entire denomination, given that there are really not enough common beliefs to be contained within one organisation.

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

And thing of it is, is that you and the GAFCON ilk have the audacity to believe that it is only you both upholding & defending what Scripture says (to you).

Don’t you think this a tad bit arrogant?

Ann Marie Nicklin
Guest

Mark, I, too, firmly believe that I must be faithful to and uphold what the scriptures say. And each time I stand up to preach or stand up to speak to a motion dealing with human sexuality, I am remaining true to what I understand the scriptures to say. Personally, I really resent being told that I am being unfaithful to the sciptures or that I am not truly faithful to the Christian faith just because my understanding is not the same as someone else’s. I am willing to accept that you are being faithful and committed to your faith… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi Choirboy-
‘What scripture [or the library which we call ‘the Bible’] says’ cannot be reduced to ‘what scripture says *to you*’. As with most documents, a decent proportion will be either perfectly clear or tolerably clear. Even with the remainder, interpretations which are impossible outnumber by a factor of millions those which are possible.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Chris and Mark:
It is nothing but sheer arrogance to tell me that what you gain from scripture needs to be mine also. And hammering on certain parts of scripture disproportionately demonstrates the haughtiness of those with a greater agenda.

Sorry, you’ve lost me altogether.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ann Marie Nicklin wrote: “Personally, I really resent being told that I am being unfaithful to the scriptures or that I am not truly faithful to the Christian faith just because my understanding is not the same as someone else’s. I am willing to accept that you are being faithful and committed to your faith even though we might differ on understanding.” Pray, how does this differ from a mere Subjectivity of the “my, me, mine” kind? We are unfortunately dealing not with the Texts themselves but with “translations”, much into Philosophy taking a Gnosticist anti Procreation (pro Abstinence, Mandatory… Read more »

Mark Wharton
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Mark Wharton

It seems very clear to me that scripture prohibits same sex partnerships; we are never going to agree because you seem to believe that if scripture says something and you do not agree, then you can simply ignore it. Now I am as guilty of this as anyone else, but faithfulness to the church catholic and the scriptures has to be on universal terms not personal ones. The only way we will unite as the Body of Christ is to universally agree on these issues and stop schismatic appointments on both sides; Mins and Robinson are both guilty and their… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“It seems very clear to me that scripture prohibits same sex partnerships; we are never going to agree because you seem to believe that if scripture says something and you do not agree, then you can simply ignore it.”

Oh, PLEASE not again!
We do not ignore what Scriptures say because we don’t agree with it.
Unlike you, we are not persuaded that Scriptures prohibit the stable and faithful loving relationships we are talking abut.

I am really getting very very tired of being accused of deliberately ignoring Scriptures.
A little more respect for those who disagree with you would be enormously helpful.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Faithfulness is universal not individual.” I quite disagree. Faith is personal. Faith is individual. God speaks to me on a personal level, not as a mass broadcast. “It seems very clear to me that scripture prohibits same sex partnerships…” It seems very clear to me that scripture prohibits lending money at interest…and yet I do not campaign to deny faith to all those who do so. (In fact, I do so myself–I have a mortgage and a bank account, after all.) I understand that much of scripture is tied to a particular cultural and temporal milieu and not to a… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“Faithfulness is universal not individual.”-M. Wharton

Then prove it by stopping the schism.

counterlight
Guest

Y’all are ignoring the Scriptural endorsements of slavery and polygamy. At least one denomination in southwestern America takes the latter very seriously. Thank God someone still reads the whole and clear meaning of Scripture!

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Choirboy: “Then prove it by stopping the schism.” Mark said as much when he wrote: “The only way we will unite as the Body of Christ is to universally agree on these issues and stop schismatic appointments on both sides; Mins [sic] and Robinson are both guilty and their appointments have done little to solve the situation.” In other words, in Mark you have a conservative who wants to be constructive without sacrificing his own views. For my part I applaud that, even if I also respectfully disagree with him on the specifics. So why verbally bash him over the… Read more »

Ann Marie Nicklin
Guest

I think that there can be a very real danger of a “my”, “me”, “mine” faith if one does not discern/develop that faith in the midst of community. But even then each of us develop some individual ways of expressing our faith because each of us is unique. What we believe/understand can change over time but it is not something that we can sit down and state – today, I will believe this. We can’t just say – well so and so, the great high (and very human) mucky-mucky, says that what I have believed is wrong, and that I… Read more »

Mark Wharton
Guest
Mark Wharton

I must add something to my comment “Faithfulness is universal not individual” I admit that our faith is personal but we must be at one with the voice of Church because our faith is expressed as one complete catholic body. How can scripture support same sex partnerships; it breaks my heart that we are tearing ourselves apart over a whole load of issues but I continue in my conservative views because I believe this is the truth and the cost has been very dear. I know that you have all suffered, but regardless of your views, I still call you… Read more »

Philip
Guest
Philip

The way I see it, the gospel truths speak for themselves. Unless some unknown individual that we don’t know about, has a direct pipeline to the author, and has permission to change it, it stands.

One can choose to intepret whatever they like, in whatever way they choose, but a chair is a chair, and regardless of whether someone says it’s a table, it’s still a chair. How anyone can decipher that a same sex relationship, and what that includes sexually, can be rationlized in some way through study of the scripture, is beyond the pale of basic reasoning.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Mark: I’ve been going to church all my life; I’ve always been gay; and I’ve always known lots of clergy in same-sex relationships, including older ones going back through the generations now. It’s nothing new – the new thing is simply Conservative Evangelicals realising that we have always been around in churches. It’s not a question of us “stopping” somehow – we’ve always been there, and always will be, whether the rest of you can cope with us being open or not.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

M. Wharton and Walsingham: I may be brusque, and apologize for bruising sensitive egos here, but there is no pain like being attacked, vilified, and left out of a church in which you thirst for God’s presence. Mark Wharton, I have musical standards that few cathedrals, let alone parishes can attain. I do not ever expect them to attain my level of education and performance that has been expected in my career. But I would not for a minute ever demand them to my wishes (and that is all that they are). Why can’t you see this parallel in theology?… Read more »

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

The FOUR self deceptions of GAFCON…

1)GAFCON is a spontanteous rejection by Global South persons against western decadence, and is not led and co-ordinated by white Anglo-Saxon males.

2)Orthodoxy is anyone opposed to homosexuality.

3)That they are conservative on sexual issues…with their divorcce and re-marriage, contraception and African closet polygamy.

4)That the Bible is clear on ALL ISSUES, when they are split on umpteen issues from womens orrdination to divorce.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Mark Wharton,

In short: Conformism. Soviet Psychiatry.

But Councils err. Even the Great 7.

; = )

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Choirboy: I fully understand and agree that there is a lot of pain being caused, whether intentional or not. But the antidote is not to retaliate in kind. A certain extremely wise man once said some very useful words in Matthew 5:38-42. If we apply that to today’s situation and take the high road, no amount of prejudice or attacks real or imagined will daunt us. It is also worth noting that quite often what is perceived as an attack or high-handedness is usually meant quite differently. Viewing what others write with more charity can do wonders for understanding one… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

The issue does also come down to the authority and content of the Bible. I think it is purely a book, which its human authors were inspired by their faith to write. It is full of cultural containment and reflections of the mores of the society in which it was composed. Thus, needs to be revised and reinterpreted in that light.

mark
Guest
mark

Could I just ask: what exactly do you want the conservatives to do?

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Merseymike: Fair enough, but even if you take that sort of critical view of the Bible, you still are left with the (for lack of a better term) legalistic view of the Church. That is, the Church Catholic agreed on certain things as articles of faith (in particular the Creeds and the seven Great Councils). Think of those articles of faith as a kind of Constitution, basic elements that can only be changed by consensus. The main critique I have of many conservatives (such as those at GAFCON, but also in the wider oikumene) is that they have rhetorically raised… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Nothing, Mark. They can continue to believe as they wish – no-one is trying to prevent that. But that’s not enough for them – they can’t cope with difference.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Mark: I’d like the conservatives just to be realistic about the fact they share a planet, and a Church, with people who are different from them, but who are just as moral and just as Christian as they are. I don’t want you to be me, I just want you to accept me as different from you yet no worse than you, no less capable of ethical living or following a Christian spiritual life simply because of the gender of the person I love and share my life with. Once you begin to see diversity as wonderful, as something to… Read more »

Mark Wharton
Guest
Mark Wharton

Thank you Fr. Mark:
I understand what you are asking, I acknowledge that you are a Christain and a Priest, but I cannot in my deepest conscience accept that you should put your sexuality into practice. I know only to well what the call to celibacy means. I am not the sort of conservative who wants to eradicate difference but I do want to see us uphold universal truth. I hope that you now know that I do not want to remove you in any way.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Thank-you Mark: that is a helpful answer. All sorts of people can live within married relationships in a way that is bad for them; within ostensibly celibate structures which harm them; or within same-sex relationships which conduce to their holiness of life; and vice-versa, in each scenario, of course. I really don’t see it as our role to insist that any one way of life is de facto better than another. Some people, but very few indeed, in my experience, flourish by living in a celibate way. If that is their calling, that’s fine by me. But what is wrong,… Read more »

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

Fr Mark, I think you make it too easy! I have had some years to reflect on sexual identity. On the one hand you want to say it is a trait as simple as being brown eyed or blue. If we know it is that simple we would not be having this discussion (it has not been like that for me and apparently for you). On the other hand, you have no clear place for direction about our life from beyond ourselves. Do we make it up as we go along? Or might the creator actually have some discernable purpose… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“On the one hand you want to say it is a trait as simple as being brown eyed or blue. “

Ben, let me ask you something. At what point in your life did you make a choice or a decision to be heterosexual?

Never, you say? You just were always aware that you “liked girls”? Then why do you insist that, somehow or other, it’s a more complicated thing for homosexuals?

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Ben W: Ja, und? as the Germans say. Of course the Creator’s purpose can include growth in goodness through loving relationships between two persons of the same sex.

It’s hardly new theology, after all: St Aelred of Rievaulx worked that much out.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“Do we make it up as we go along? Or might the creator actually have some discernable purpose and direction for or with life?”-Ben W.

Would we know the difference?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“”Do we make it up as we go along? Or might the creator actually have some discernable purpose and direction for or with life?”-Ben W.

Would we know the difference?”

More importantly, would we know that we had discerned the purpose correctly? I am always amazed at the hubris of fundamentalists who are convinced they know the mind of God.

Mark Smale
Guest
Mark Smale

Protestantism began in schism. The Protestant answer to disagreement has always been more schism. GAFCON may prove not only be a “gaff” but also a “con”. It seems to me that schism is a far greater sin than tolerating behaviour by some of us that some others find abhorrent. Did St Paul suggest that we destroy the unity of the Church over behaviour by some that some others find abhorrent? I am not theologically well enough versed to know! The authority of Scripture: fine. But as the present situation demonstrates all too clearly, many different interpretations of (authoritative) Scripture are… Read more »