Thinking Anglicans

Comments on GAFCON etc

At the BBC Bishop attacks anti-gay movement. The bishop is Tom Wright of Durham and the article is about an interview that he gave to the World at One programme today. The article includes a link to audio of the interview. One quote from the interview:

“And to be told that I now need to be authorised or validated by a group of primates somewhere else who come in and tell me which doctrines I should sign up to is not only ridiculous it’s deeply offensive.”

Today’s Times has these two comment articles.
A leading article Crossroads for Anglicans: Rowan Williams must face down opposition on all fronts
George Walden Time to come out of the liberal closet on gay clergy, Archbishop: If Rowan Williams continues to claim moral superiority to politicians, he must be honest on this issue


  • poppy tupper says:

    i suppose we should rejoice that a sinner has repented, but it’s all too little, too late. tom wright’s actions have stoked the flames of this fire. this interview won’t put them out. if he wants to do any good now, then thing to do is to make sure that Reform come into line. let them provide church of england services, in church of england robes, and teach church of england theology. let them minister to the whole of their parishes, let them not ignore their duties to provide occasional offices. i know of one reform parish which made baptism families jump through impossible hoops, and who made it all but impossible for the local funeral director to get them to take a funeral of a non-churchgoer. the problem was, you see, that the only message they felt they could deliver to the mourners was that the person they had lost was going to hell. and they didn’t want to have to say it, and they didn’t want not saying it on their tender consciences. so they made themselves unavailable. let tom wright take these separatists on in his own diocese. then we might believe he means what he says in this interview.

  • Merseymike says:

    This comment doesn’t surprise me. I have no time for Wright, but it is clear that Fulcrum, to which he is aligned, want no truck with the FOCA’s.

    They have no idea as to how impossible it would be to apply FOCAism in the UK.

  • MJ says:

    If nothing else, GAFCON has pretty much united the British press – against them! The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent have all been less than glowing. Maybe FoCA’s English organisers will get the hint?

    Best of all, though, it’s driving ‘journalist’ David Virtue bonkers and he’s desperately trying damage control:

    First he had a mid-GAFCON rant at the British press:
    “Secular Media Response to GAFCON Ranges from Ridiculous to Shameful” –

    Now he’s at it again:
    “Gay-Baiting Secular British Media Misses GAFCON Message” –

  • kieran crichton says:

    Do I detect +Dunelm positioning himself for St Augustine’s seat?

  • MJ says:

    One of the All Souls protesters has written a blog post on it – “Schism Marks” –

    “Speaking to some of the attendees afterwards, I was struck by how little they actually knew about the average gay person’s life. Some went on about AIDS, as if their homophobia was actually an act of compassion. The irony, of course, is that in today’s world – once again, especially in Africa – AIDS is overwhelmingly a heterosexual issue, and attacking gay people, least of all gay Africans, will do nothing to bring the pandemic under control.”

    He also encourages all to support the LGCM’s ‘Buy a Book for a Bishop’ campaign:

  • Nom de Plume says:

    Our Tom says:

    “And to be told that I now need to be authorised or validated by a group of primates somewhere else who come in and tell me which doctrines I should sign up to is not only ridiculous it’s deeply offensive.

    “The idea that they have a monopoly on Biblical truth simply won’t do and we must stand up to this, it’s a kind of bullying. ‘We’re the true gospel people, therefore you must listen to us’.”

    “When one finds people coming high-handedly, who don’t actually know what’s going on, and say, ‘We’ve now drawn up this list of 14 points and you’ve got to sign up to them and then we’ll authorise you and you can be part of our club, and if you don’t then we’re going to sweep you aside’… anyone has a right to feel angry when faced with that kind of thing.”

    Now, perhaps he will understand how North Americans feel when he has done precisely what the GaffeConsters have done. Indeed, he could be decribing his own actions and words with respect to the North American Church over the past few years. It sounds like he is, just possibly, about to understand the Golden Rule.

  • Leonel says:

    A short note on one of the ‘ethnic’ tokens hoisted around by the Gafcon organizers, the Rev. César Guzmán, from Chile.

    César Guzmán is a 42 yrs old Chilean priest, with a basic degree in English Language and Literature from Universidad de Chile, as well as a BTh and Ministry Diploma and a MTh from Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia, where he also served as assistant pastor at St. Matthew´s Manly, Diocese of Sydney.

    Guzmán returned from Sydney as the Moore College representative to Chile, a post based at the CEP or Centre for Pastoral Studies, the theological education institution for the Anglican Church of Chile. After some time he went on to become CEP´s Principal.

    Less than a couple of months ago, Enrique Lago and Samuel Morrison, also clergymen from the Anglican Church of Chile, succeeded in having Guzmán fired from his position as CEP Principal, this on account of his ultra-fundamentalist points of view and the aggressive manner of his presentation of said points of view from his position as Principal.

    All of this, in the face of the unwavering support that Guzmán has received and continues receiving from both Greg Venables and Peter Jensen. Which may explain why he was given the consolation prize of attending Gafcon as the Hispanic, ´Anglican orthodox´ presence.

    Which Guzmán, of course, is not.

  • Merseymike says:

    I still find it amusing that the FOCA’s think that just because they say Anglicanism isn’t defined by linkage to Canterbury, that carries anything more than their opinion!

    They will form their own church and they will not be Anglican.

  • MRG says:

    “Do I detect +Dunelm positioning himself for St Augustine’s seat?”

    “Bishop Tom” does certainly seem to be upping his public profile. A recent (groveling) cover feature in the New Statesman was closely followed by a less-than-stellar appearance on Comedy Central’s ‘The Colbert Report’ to plug his most recent book. And now this. Could the Bishop of Durham be trying to cast himself as the acceptable face of “Anglican orthodoxy” – in short, our very own Peter Jensen? It would, of course, be cynical to speculate about his motives…

  • Malcolm+ says:

    This is further evidence that the “conservatives” (the GAFFEPRONE? the FOCAs?) have badly overplayed their hand.

    If conservatives (sans quotatio marks) from Dawani to Wright will have no truck nor trade with their coup d’eglise, it seems unlikely they will have much of a beach head.

  • Other foot, meet shoe.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Quite right..Bishop Tom those who calim to be the validaters of orthodoxy….

    1) deliberately avoided mentioning or defining what Christ’s words meant about divorce and re-marriage. yet they had the cheek to call their hand book, ” The Way, the life and the truth.” They would not raise the Lord’s teaching as their divisions would become apparent and the thenmem of their handbook was the clarity of Holy Scripture!

    2)They also avoided the issue of women’s ordination to keep Uganda, kenya and Rwanda on board.

    They allowed Anglo-Catholics to subscribe to the Declaration, knowing full well they would carry on the practices condemened in the 39 articles.

    Such deliberate self-deception and deceit ..shows what GAFCION represents.

  • cp36 says:

    I think the British Parliament should copyright the term “Anglican” and stop any organisation or church, which doesn’t want to be under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, from using it. That should solve all our problems.

  • Ben W says:


    There is no need for all this hyperventilating. Some exaggerated statements, but the GAFCON people were able to act together working through steep obstacles and with nay-sayers all around them.

    People in many areas of life find a way to work together on what they have in common without illusion about differences in some other areas. Why should they be any different? Think about those working for the environment or the various political parties or those working in your cause (do they all agree on all important things before they work together?). There is no illusion or self-deception involved, just doing what they can do together now. Good for them!

    Ben W

  • Lapinbizarre says:

    “Now, perhaps he will understand how North Americans feel when he has done precisely what the GaffeConsters have done. Indeed, he could be decribing his own actions and words with respect to the North American Church over the past few years.”

    Brilliant, Nom de Plume, brilliant.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Dear Simon, Is it validaters or validators…?

    As a Welshman the English language mystifies me!

  • Ben W asked: “do they all agree on all important things before they work together?”

    Their own answer is YES! Often phrased “can 2 walk together … ?

    And the answer given in OT theology is “because both go together to Jerusalem!”

    Now you know. It’s called Paradox.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Some exaggerated statements,”

    No, Ben, not “exaggerated statements”. To state that TEC is apostate and preaching another Gospel is reviling and unChristian. I am flabbergasted that you would accept their position on sexuality as “orthodox”, as though that defined orthodoxy, yet seem not to bat an eye at the fact that they were unable to affirm three of the Seven Ecumenical Councils! By this act, they prove themselves to be heterodox, and no amount of persecution of gay people can change that. Up till I read that statement, I doubted my assessment of them, which was based on their behaviour. But it is no longer an issue of unChristian behaviour. They have formally made a statement proving their heterodoxy. That some Anglo-catholics could sign such a document proves their “catholicity” was based on something else than doctrine. If you cannot understand the magnitude of the error, you have not had much in the way of catechesis. I now have no qualms. Whatever TEC might or might not be right, the Jerusalem statement makes it clear that these people, depite their claims to righteousness and possession of the Truth, are actually heterodox and to be avoided. If they do say something that is true, it is only coincidental, since, if their Christology is defective, everything based on that Christology must be likewise suspect. Further, they seem not to understand Liturgy or why it has the form it has, they make normative a liturgy that was really only a stage in reform, though it languished 400 years or so before being advanced, and they give to the 39 Articles, as they do with Scripture, an authority they were never meant to have. Whatever they are, they aren’t orthodox, and they aren’t Anglican, as far as I can see. Whatever I might have felt before, I really honestly don’t think I would be able to receive the Sacrament from them, and that is not something I say lightly.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Perhaps half a cheer for Bishop Tom Wright. I am glad that he is deeply offended but he also said that there would not be gay bishops or blessings of civil partnerships in the C of E so really not much sign of an actual change of heart there. Perhaps what he doesn’t like is someone else challenging his own authority.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:


    The book is perfectly clear and self axplanatory.

    We can’t agree what it means………even on serious issues.

    Did God devise such a confusing and unstable way of conveying his truth…no He established a teaching Church…the pillar and foundation of the truth ( 1 Tim 3:15)

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    Well played Goran.

    Jesus did not call on us to only work with together with souls that agreed and flattered us. But also to work with the vexatious and difficult.

    e.g Jesus’ exhortations to love our enemies in Matthew 5:43-48. Then there is Paul’s rejection of legalism in Titus 1:8-16, which includes “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.”

    Remember, all things are possible with God, recall Matthew 10:17-31 and Jesus’ sadness that those who are “rich” in this life find it hardest to be in heaven (see also Deuteronomy 16:19-20). There the numerous passages where God exposes the wise of this world as selfish machinators e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:16-23, Isaiah 19:11-13 or 29:10-14

    The theology that accepts the outcaste, succours the needy, pours healing on conflict, dignifies the oppressed, and stands for justice, compassion and forgiveness is the theology that Jesus espoused.

    Theology that resorts to legalism, elitism and tyranny is the antithesis of everything that Jesus lived and died for. Go back and re-read Paul, we live by faith and not by law. We honors laws where those laws are useful for the body, but where the law has become a weapon of injustice we stand against the authorities and call for a more just and humane system.

    The God of both Old and New Testament is a God that loves and guides. The Supreme Creator has again and again intervened to increase humanity’s compassion and justice and thus ability to love: at individual, community and even global levels.

  • Hugh of Lincoln says:

    A perceptive piece by George Walden, though a closet liberal is better than an out conservative!

    Tom Wright’s tone has hardened since earlier in the week. Could this be anything to do with the petition assembled members in York are being asked to sign?

  • Ben W says:


    Is that the test now, whether one accepts all “seven councils?” (I think GAFCON is probably recognizing all of them but simply giving priority to four – here you are jumping to conclusions again!).

    You talk about the charge that some in TEC are “preaching another gospel.” What about people like Spong, Jenkins, Ingham etc? These are leaders in TEC, CofE and ACC, I would be happy just to see the clear NT confession of Jesus as Lord or of the resurrection from them (to say nothing about the seven councils)! The great Nicene Creed makes that a basic matter. So there seem to be people that reject ALL SEVEN COUNCILS that you accept (as long as they are in TEC I suppose!). Does this matter to you? You might start with a close reading of 1 Cor 15:1-8 and Romans 10:8-13 to see what counts as core of the gospel. And if this is not accepted is that still the historic Christian gospel? I think your question about “another gospel” will be answered if you answer this one.

    As to liturgy, what I have already said about this on another thread below is suffient. Christopher S on the same thread makes the relevant points.

    Ben W

  • John Henry says:

    +Tom Wright is an excellent NT scholar with solid credentials. Naturally, he is offended by purple shirts, who lack his scholarly background and knowledge of biblical languages, posturing and telling scholars like him what is “orthodox” biblical scholarship.

    I concur with Ford Elms who cast doubt on the orthodoxy of the GAFCON-ites/Iker-ites, accepting only 4 of the 7 Ecumenical Councils (which settled trinitarian and christological controversies). How can the 1662 BCP be the standard of orthodoxy for +Jack Leo Iker and his FiF episcopal colleagues, when, in the old Diocese of Dallas, TX, which included both Dallas and Ft. Worth, Anglo-Catholic clergy would only use the Anglican Missal for the Mass? Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction still continue in Ft. Worth–contrary to the rubrics of the 1662 BCP. What hypocrisy and dishonesty on the part of the FiF GAFCON-ite bishops!

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    “People in many areas of life find a way to work together on what they have in common without illusion about differences in some other areas.”

    So why can’t the GAFCONners do that regarding those who have no objection to publicly gay priests and/or bishops? Isn’t what we have in common–a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord–more important than specific practice regarding some peoples’ sexuality?

  • Walsingham says:

    @RIW, Ford Elms, and John Henry:

    I have to agree. After wanting for a very long time to give conservatives the benefit of the doubt, anyone who remotely lends GAFCON any credence is frankly beyond the pale in my book. I get the distinct impression these people didn’t even attend confirmation class, yet they strut around in purple. Totally unbelievable.

    Meanwhile a heartfelt bravo to +Tom for giving them the third degree.

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    I thought Spong had retired. How does that make him a leader in the TEC?

    I know there are some camps who are rushing to acknowledge retired bishops and give them current standing in their “pure” communion.

    I was unaware that Spong or TEC were doing this. I thought he was just some retired bishop who still enjoys writing and speaking tours but has no positional status.

    Could someone clarify Spong’s role vis a vis The Episcopal Church, and maybe some of those other bishops who have been appointed in the US/Canada in the last year or so? (Especially those who have outside-of-the-borders endorsement).

    Thanks in advance.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Is that the test now, whether one accepts all “seven councils?” “

    It has been ever since the last one ended, Ben. I take it you didn’t know that before now. Not surprising then that you have fallen prey to those who made up a new definition of orthodox to make themselves appear holy.

    “What about people like Spong, Jenkins, Ingham etc?”

    Most liberals I know find Spong woefully antiIncarnational and reject him outright. I find him cold and uninspiring. Since I have said so many times, I find it odd you think I “accept” him. Might that be an unjustified assumption since I do not agree with you, so I must be one of those who rejects everything traditional in favour of the “new Gospel” of liberalism? Who is Jenkins? Ingham, as far as I am aware, has not rejected any council of the Church and can say the Creed without crossing his fingers. Where’s his false Gospel?

    “I would be happy just to see the clear NT confession of Jesus as Lord..”

    See, to me, this reads as a desire to hear them say that everyone who isn’t a Christian is going to Hell. Now, I know, that’s a jump to conclusions, and I am actively telling myself that you don’t mean this. But what DO you mean? Is it all about public declarations, then?

    And CS is from a nonliturgical tradition. In my experience Book and Pulpit Christians tend not to get liturgy at all, and tend to consider its benefits as failings. Please tell me you understand what liturgy is and what it’s for. You are an Anglican, after all.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Could someone clarify Spong’s role vis a vis The Episcopal Church”

    His role, as far as I can tell, is to be the icon of everything that is wrong with TEC. He seems to be considered almost as a shadow Presiding Bishop, whose teachings form the core of TEC’s theology. At least that’s how conservatives seem to consider him. What’s more, if one so much as disagrees with a conservative Evangelical position, one must therefore be a follower of Spong and everything he says. I find this remarkable, since, as you say, he is retired, and not only that, my experience of liberals is that the farther left you go, the less cred Spong has. Much of left wing theology, as far as I can see, centres around the Incarnation, the radical implications thereof, and, in essence, what it means to say “All ye who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ”. I have quoted before what an online acquaintance once said:”Until and unless I can be convinced that Jesus was a mere man with some nice teachings, I am disinclined to sell my Incarnational birthright for a pot of message.” Not exactly the faithless heathenism the Right claims for the Left, but the self aggrandizement of portraying onesself as valiantly fighting against the evil oppressor is a very attractive thing to both camps, and many on both sides will believe all kinds of odd things to support that self image.

  • Ben W says:


    Try to read what I actually say. I said there is nothing to say GAFCON rejects 3 of the seven councils, rather they seem to be emphasizing the first four (would you not agree they are the more important?).

    And my simple point about the three leaders is, they have rejected large swathes of Christian teaching, are you now going to become a “fundamentalist” about “seven councils!” What is more,Spong in TEC by no means stands alone (quite popular in the TEC speaking circuit!) I said nothing about anyone going to hell, though I think the teaching about God’s judgement is not about nothing!(as I said earlier some people operate so much from suspicion that they can hardly see anything but their own navels).

    Ben W

  • Ford Elms says:

    “would you not agree they are the more important?”

    No, why would you say they are? I think as accurate an understanding of the Incarnation as it is possible to have is far more important. I believe the errors of Evangelicalism come directly out of a defective understanding of the Incarnation and its purpose. Why would they not mention the latter three, if they accept their decrees?

    “the teaching about God’s judgement is not about nothing”

    And maybe this is the point. A lot of Evangelicals seem obsessed with God’s judgement. Basically, and I know this is simplistic, it seems that, for many Evangelicals, the story of salvation is:

    Humans are criminals, disobedient to God by nature. We deserve punishment. God’s love for us is such that He (and here the wording gets a bit muddled) either “sent” Jesus, or maybe came Himself, but there doesn’t seem to be a great awareness of Jesus as truly God, (see why the councils are important?). Jesus’s purpose in coming was twofold: to be punished in our place, thereby assuaging God’s wrath at our disobedience, and to give us a perfect Law to follow so that we wouldn’t get ourselves in the same mess again. So, redemption, then, is essentially about being allowed to get away with our crimes, as long as we obey the Law Jesus gave us. Please correct this where you see necessary.

    And you still haven’t explained what this means:

    “I would be happy just to see the clear NT confession of Jesus as Lord..”

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