Thinking Anglicans

News from the Big Blue Tent (11)

Well, I did what I said I was going to do: took the train to Dover, bought a map and bottle of sun tan lotion, then walked along the cliffs to Samphire Hoe (the country park made out of the Eurotunnel spoil heap) read my book for a good three hours then retraced my steps slowly along the coast to catch the London Victoria service back to Canterbury. The sun has shone all day, but hazily enough for me not to burn and I now feel thoroughly into the plot of “Animal’s People”. I’ve had a good supper (before the queues), a cooling shower and made liberal use of the after sun spray.

So what to write about today? Perhaps it’s a chance to give a sense of where I feel I (personally as opposed to the conference as a whole) am at this instant on the Anglican Communion issues we’re going to be dealing with next week. I may well change; I have to be open to that if I’m taking the process seriously, but this is how it feels this middle Sunday evening.

I think it is possible to envisage some sort of covenant document, broadly along the lines that the Design Group have come up with, which uses the traditional Anglican formularies for the bulk of its text, recognises that as Anglicans our mission is to enculture the gospel along with evangelising the culture, and clearly avoids attempting to lay down the line on doctrinal issues that are not part of the historic creeds and on moral positions. A covenant will need to have some criteria for determining whether a particular church is adhering to it, and there have to be ways in which new areas of concern can be raised and addressed in a timely fashion where they are so grave, have so wide an impact or are sufficiently divisive not to be simply matters that provinces (or dioceses) can determine autonomously without being called to some form of account. My area of greatest scepticism is whether such a covenant can ever be used to deal with matters that have already become rancorous.

I’ve heard enough stories this last 10 days to know that even TEC bishops who voted against Gene Robinson are facing territorial incursions from parishes who think the game is now pick-a-bishop. That really will not do. We mustn’t let this particular issue off the hook again.

And so to bed! I read and study my bible habitually, prayerfully and hard, learning both from the insights the Holy Spirit provides me and from the long tradition of piety and scholarship within which I am continually formed and reformed. My personal conclusion is that what St Paul and the Old Testament are condemning are not faithful, loving and stable same sex relationships as we see them today but rather matters of cultic sex, sex as the expression of a particular power relationship, and promiscuity. The other main argument, that God didn’t create Adam and Adam, collapses into a narrow form of Thomism (in which every “thing” can have only one good and natural purpose) that is explicitly rejected in the Prayer Book (and its revisions) marriage service and therefore cannot be claimed as Anglican.

Nonetheless, if I ever thought this issue could be “adiaphora” (something a local church can determine without needing to heed others) I no longer do. The consecration of a bishop in an active same sex relationship has certainly helped some Christians in North America to feel more fully accepted by the church, official liturgies and blessings for such partnerships have done the same for the couples involved and their friends. But the price is being paid elsewhere, particularly in places where Christians are on the defensive or in a minority in relation to Islam, and are often seen as slack on topics such as the consumption of alcohol. In countries like these male homosexual activities are often still criminal. There is no way they can tackle these issues at present in their contexts nor could they defend themselves by saying that “it’s not us, it’s just the Americans”. Indeed the very fact that it is the USA (in many parts of the world I doubt Canada is adequately distinguished) leading that plays into the anti-imperialism and hatred of America that is so strong across the globe. Invasion by American cultural values is no more popular than invasion by its troops.

As a C of E bishop I recognise that were I to insist on carrying out the consequences of my own views on this subject rather than upholding what Synod and the House of Bishops have agreed then I would have to resign. But my Anglican ecclesiology and catholic spirituality teach me to be obedient to the collegial will, properly expressed, not least because I might well be wrong. Equally, I believe that any individual church that claims to be Anglican needs to have a polity which gives full weight to the whole communion. It’s here where I find I am looking over the next few days to my American brothers and sisters for reassurance.

Highlight of the day: a good long read.

Lowlight of the day: the campus shop had closed when I got back and there’s no beer in the fridge.

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Paul H
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Paul H

There are some worrying issues in this report. Firstly: “I believe that any individual church that claims to be Anglican needs to have a polity which gives full weight to the whole communion” -The Church of England, by law established, does not and cannot have such a polity, even if it wished so to do. It has been established at Synod that it cannot be so bound. The advocacy of this polity is therefore incoherent, whether one thinks that it is right or wrong – and there are arguments for the latter view (see below). Secondly, in relation to SSRs… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

If Bishop David will read us his own tea leaves here, I’d be appreciative. I still get a sense of “Blaming the Victim” here: Muslims kill Christians in the Sudan and this is . . . my fault? +Gene Robinson’s? As an (U.S. of) American, I’m certainly willing to take my lumps: prophets (and other revolutionaries) have long called on us to “throw yourselves on the machinery of war” (predatory capitalism, environmental destruction, etc), and by those standards, I haven’t done my duty. But I will be attending a same-sex wedding in California soon, and joyfully so. This is a… Read more »

Leonel
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Leonel

Bishop?
Origins at Darwin…
KBar at Keynes
…. beer is 3 quids a pint, but after such a day you may not mind shelling for what’s good and cold.
)
As a plus, if you go to the Origins, you’ll probably get to know a bunch of happy, hard working stewards.

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

David Walker seems a very nice man from his comments on the blog, especially these ones. I find it difficult, though, to read that, although all these nice bishops don’t actually go so far as to think gay people should be persecuted by anyone else, they aren’t prepared to stand up for them at the cost of any unpleasantness within the Communion. This is difficult for me at many levels: not least, personally, because I am a partnered gay priest, waiting for the “official” church to catch up with the rest of life, and increasingly irked by an organisation that… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

This American cannot offer you any encouragement, because, like many people on this side of the Atlantic, he is finally ready for the schism. I am sorry, but for many of us in TEC, the word “Anglican” has come to mean angry foreigners shouting demands, bishops who think that “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” is sophisticated theology, other bishops who think that gay men are inhabited by rectal demons that cause floods, condescending lectures from Tom Wright, impromptu street exorcisms, bishops raiding our church like pirates, and the like. The Anglican Communion used to be a point of… Read more »

Peter Edwards
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Peter Edwards

I really do want to thank you for these blogs – and indeed am equally grateful for the team at Thinking Anglicans for their continued absolute and unequalled excellence. Your coverage and comments, theological and personal, have made Lambeth real, accessible and entertaining. And I think you have shown something of super-bishop qualities of honesty and transparency. In the whole story, thus far, of sexuality and associated issues, yours is the very first word I have seen on promiscuity. All the gay stuff has endlessly focused on ‘faithful, monogamous etc’ relationships; but apart from the HoB ‘Issues..’ statement which relates… Read more »

BillyD
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BillyD

‘…nor could they defend themselves by saying that “it’s not us, it’s just the Americans”.’

And why, exactly, is that?

Personally, I think that all this talk about the Islamist threat being caused by Gene Robinson’s consecration is, to put it politely, baloney. Islamists do not need an excuse for hostility towards non-Muslims, nor (pace the Primate of Sudan’s claims) did they wait for +Robinson’s appearance on the world stage to start calling Christians, infidels.

JPM
Guest
JPM

BillyD, perhaps I am putting a little crudely, but it seems that we are being asked to subordinate the Gospel to the Koran.

John Henry
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John Henry

“Islamists do not need an excuse for hostility towards non-Muslims, nor (pace the Primate of Sudan’s claims) did they wait for +Robinson’s appearance on the world stage to start calling Christians, infidels.”- Bill D. Three cheers, Bill D.! Which occurred first 9/11/2001 or the election of +Gene Robinson? The purple-shirted African homophobes blaming the U.S. for the violence in their own countries between Christians and Muslims inhabit a different planet from normal people. Why should we even listen to them? Their incursions into TEC dioceses have shown that they have no moral character but are guided by human greed and… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

>>>Which occurred first 9/11/2001 or the election of +Gene Robinson?

The Rwandans began their meddling in the U.S. in 1996, a good seven years before Robinson’s election.

Anyone who thinks that all this is about Robinson is sadly misinformed. More of the controversy has to do with secular right wing politics than with sexuality.

Old Father William
Guest
Old Father William

Well said, Fr. Mark. TEC has also been served for years by innumerable gay priests, and yet, in many places, our Church is behaving as if the whole idea of gay clergy is a totally new, hitherto unheard of, phenomenon. The fact is that there are hundreds of parishes which have been served lovingly and faithfully by gay pastors who have earned the love and devotion of their parishioners. And Gene Robinson was elected bishop by the clergy and people of the Diocese of New Hampshire because they knew him well, they knew him to be a faithful Christian, and… Read more »

Phyllis
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Phyllis

I am appalled at these comments by Bishop Walker. Does he not understand that the vast majority of Episcopalians who support the full inclusion of gays and lesbians were and are terribly opposed to the US invasion of Iraq and the throwing around of American military weight? Good God! And are gays and lesbians now to be sacrificial lambs for US imperial policy? This indeed smacks of the scapegoating of Jews in Germany after WWI. Muslims are opposed to alcohol, and the full inclusion of women, and demonize gays and lesbians. Are Christians therefore to do likewise? God help us… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“But the price is being paid elsewhere, particularly in places where Christians are on the defensive or in a minority in relation to Islam, and are often seen as slack on topics such as the consumption of alcohol. In countries like these male homosexual activities are often still criminal. There is no way they can tackle these issues at present in their contexts nor could they defend themselves by saying that “it’s not us, it’s just the Americans”. “ Not that long ago, in many jurisdictions in the USA, it was a criminal offense for a black man to marry… Read more »

MRG
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MRG

The argument that Americans should abstain from ordaining gay bishops because Nigerian Muslims might make life difficult for Nigerian Anglicans on account of it is frankly specious.

Moreover, I think it’s morally corrupt. It reminds me of a newspaper comment I once read which argued that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children because the latter might be harassed by homophobic peers at school. Who is at fault here? Not the gay parents, I think.

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

I find it difficult, though, to read that, although all these nice bishops don’t actually go so far as to think gay people should be persecuted by anyone else, they aren’t prepared to stand up for them at the cost of any unpleasantness within the Communion

Well said (Fr) Mark.

This is the nub of it for me.

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

Also, reasoning such as David’s is intellectually disturbing, because the problem is, what about, for example, the Jews in Europe in the 20th C. Would it have been ok to say “well, we mustn’t make too much of a fuss on their behalf as the other side can’t cope with it”?

On many difficult issues of ethics, at some point, choices have

said (Fr) Mark.

This is what happened in europe . The Jews were abadoned by Pope and offical church.

They still haven’t learned.

Yes, too bloody nice by half. Oh, and gracious ….

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

The other thing I am unhappy with is the suggestion that this is all an “American problem”. I am gay, and a product of the Church of England: don’t blame the Americans when you should be openly addressing the reality of what it is to live as a gay Christian in England. I think it is cowardly and hypocritical of English bishops to pretend the problem is not one on their own doorstep. The C of E is, and always has been, an employer of large numbers of gay people, as clergy, teachers, musicians, etc., and surely has a duty… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

Now the bishop of Ebbsfleet is sounding off about gays, inadvisedly, on Fulcrum. And then trying to say he meant something else when held to account by an evangelical lay preacher.

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

Will anyone take heed to this ? :– ‘This American cannot offer you any encouragement, because, like many people on this side of the Atlantic, he is finally ready for the schism. I am sorry, but for many of us in TEC, the word “Anglican” has come to mean angry foreigners shouting demands, bishops who think that “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” is sophisticated theology, other bishops who think that gay men are inhabited by rectal demons that cause floods, condescending lectures from Tom Wright, impromptu street exorcisms, bishops raiding our church like pirates, and the like. The… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

I note that, where I asked Bishop David Walker to read his tea leaves to us, Jim Naughton has already drawn conclusions from the same posting above:

“Although he [+Walker] believes that the Bible does not speak to same sex mutual relationships, he also believes the place in the church for gays and lesbians has to be sacrificed for the Christians who suffer from Muslim violence.”

Human beings, SACRIFICED? In a ***futile*** attempt to save others from irrational, demonic violence? God forbid!

Lord have mercy…

Dennis
Guest

I am also sad and sick of being told that my very existence is causing trouble for churches in Africa that have demonized me and my partner and said every evil thing that they can think of about us. It is time to start calling that out as a lie and an excuse for pure and simple bigotry. Bishop, do whatever you think is right. Sell out good and faithful gay and lesbian Christians for the hate filled bigots. If you have a good conscience after even setting us up in such a bind good for you. But know this:… Read more »

David H.
Guest

“I am sorry, but for many of us in TEC, the word ‘Anglican’ has come to mean angry foreigners shouting demands,…”

I’m with JPM here. As a cradle Episcopalian here in the U.S., I used to get a sort of warm nostalgia for the Mother Country upon hearing the word “Anglican.”

Now I just feel sick to my stomach.

Yes, that’s a sad state of affairs, but there you have it…

WilliamK
Guest
WilliamK

Bishop Walker writes: “But my Anglican ecclesiology and catholic spirituality teach me to be obedient to the collegial will, properly expressed, not least because I might well be wrong.” Thanks be to God that Martin Luther didn’t subscribe to such an “Anglican ecclesiology and catholic spirituality”! Had he been “obedient to the collegial will, properly expressed” in papal bulls, Imperial Diets, etc., there wouldn’t have been a Reformation! If “catholic spirituality” means submitting to whatever the majority thinks–however wrong one may think the majority to be–then I want nothing to do with such a “catholic spirituality”! I think it’s time… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

While the secular government sustains Nigerian Davis MacIyalla in human rights terms by offering him asylum, Canterbury dithers about just what sort of ethical behavior this asylum is, since after all it might be expedient for the church – and for some nations? – That one or a few be sacrificed for the greater goods of the large, large, global communion that claims the utter privilege of such sacrifices? We heard this argument before, I seem to recall, from the NT folks who were dithering about Jesus, and arguing that crucifixion was meet, especially when weighed against uproar among the… Read more »

Austin
Guest
Austin

“Why should we even listen to them?”

Hasn’t that been the position of TEC since about 1976?

He that hath ears to hear, let him listen.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Fr Mark wrote: “What does the C of E offer us as gay people? It just seems like prolonged misery at the moment.” So it does. And it does seem right to remind us that neither what the Bible “does not say or know of”, nor the continued political and anti Christian use of British Colonial legislation (the blackmailers “charter” as it was called) in former Colonies reasserting themselves anti colonially are arguments against Gays and Lesbians, God’s Very Good Creation, Human rights or even the Millennium Goals ;=) Not even Islamic mission-strategies, if be… With the vantage point of… Read more »

christopher
Guest

Bp. Walker offers an understanding of adiophora that is inaccurate. Adiophora is not “something a local church can determine without needing to heed others”. That’s a rather weak ecclesiological twist of a strong Reformation term regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ. Adiophora means roughly Greek term for matters indifferent to or unable to undermine the communication of the gospel. Gassman and Hendrix define and illustrate the term as follows: “Literally ‘indifferent matters.’ Rites and practices imposed by the Interims in 1948 that Melancthon and others considered to be indifferent, that is, not able to undermine the gospel, while Gnesio-Lutherans held… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

I suppose the real problem here is that, not being of the Church of England, but an Anglican in New Zealand, I have to have a different perspective from Bishop David. My perspective tells me that, from our point of view in New Zealand, Canada and the USA, we are parts of the Anglican Communion which have a responsibility to our state laws which now have equal rights for women and gays. Being duly constituted as parts of the Anglican Communion which have legal jurisdiction to operate in our own particular countries, we need to accept the fact that we… Read more »

magistra
Guest

I suspect (though it hasn’t been mentioned much) that a bigger problem for some Africans may be superficial analogies between gay relationships and polygamy (or specifically polygyny). Polygyny is ambiguously disapproved of by the Bible, culturally accepted in parts of Africa and some scientists (mainly evolutionary psychologists) argue that a desire for such relationships is innate in men. Homosexuality is disapproved of by the Bible, culturally accepted in parts of the West, and many scientists are now arguing that a desire for such relationships is innate in some men and women. I don’t think these relationships are equivalent in terms… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Isn’t it BECAUSE in some countries homosexuality is still a crime that attracts draconian punishment that we must stand up and say this treatment of normal people is wrong? Do we only have a responsibility towards the straight Africans who find same gender love difficult? Do we not have an even more urgent responsibility towards the 2-8% of Africans who live in constant danger for being what they cannot help but be? If we don’t speak out loudly in support of same sex couples, how do we ensure that people like Davis Mac-Iyalla do not have to seek asylum after… Read more »

Ian
Guest
Ian

Treebeard wrote :Now the bishop of Ebbsfleet is sounding off about gays, inadvisedly, on Fulcrum. And then trying to say he meant something else when held to account by an evangelical lay preacher.

Do you have a link for this, as i can’t see it on the site

Tom Allen
Guest
Tom Allen

I can’t help wondering if we have not adapted the policy of Adiophora to the contemporary world, . For sure Provinces need to take into account the impact of their decisions on other within the Communion (and some of the blogging Bishops have been good enough to record their surprise at the impact of the TEC decisions on African provinces) but to suggest that the mission of one Province should be inhibited by the concerns of another of another faith in other provinces takes the understanding to far. (To draw and analogy and it is only that)I wonder whether Samuel… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

David: your wishy-washy compromising views are exactly what led me to leave the Church and to embrace atheism. Thank you for reminding me how weak and vacillating liberal Christians are.

No notice at all should be taken of premodern homophobes other than to tell them they are wrong. Stuff the Communion. It is nothing but an instrument of repression as its treatment of Gene Robinson has proved

JPM
Guest
JPM

The “if we’re not mean to the queers, the Muslims will get mad” meme is all over the place now, having ripped its way through the blogosphere like cholera through a slum.

It is clear that the bishops have found a comforting rationalization for the dirty business they are about to do.

Phyllis
Guest
Phyllis

I have an idea. All of us women who are Episcopalians should be forced to put on burkas so we can make it easier for African Christians to deal with Muslims.

BillyD
Guest
BillyD

Erika – “normal people”?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

BillyD
Yes, I realised that was stupid as soon as I had posted the comment!
What I meant to say was “like everyone else”, i.e. not evil, not sons and daughter of Satan, not a sub human species below dogs.
Thanks for picking me up on it!

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

‘ Treebeard wrote: Now the bishop of Ebbsfleet is sounding off about gays, inadvisedly, on Fulcrum. And then trying to say he meant something else when held to account by an evangelical lay preacher.

Do you have a link for this, as i can’t see it on the site’

Posted by: Ian on Monday, 28 July 2008 at 9:49am BST

Yes, Ian, voila ;-

Link to andrew’s blog on fulcrum:–

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/blog.cfm?thread=7949

Link to discussion of his blog by others :–

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=7951

Hope useful, Ian,

yours

Treebeard

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

Erika – “normal people”?

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 28 July 2008 at 3:12pm BST

That’s right BillyD, being queer is totally normal. Whereas being a a homophobic unrepentant bigot is – well– you Select a word ……..

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

I have an idea. All of us women who are Episcopalians should be forced to put on burkas so we can make it easier for African Christians to deal with Muslims.

Posted by: Phyllis on Monday, 28 July 2008 at 3:10pm BST

That’s it Phylis ! We’ll adopt in Wales too, with pleasure ! I’m sure I’ll look so fetching too.

Anything to help out…

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David Walker
If you read nothing else today, please read Elizabeth Keaton’s latest blog entry “Which Way Africa?” at http://telling-secrets.blogspot.com/

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

BillyD: Can you fathom that “normal” also implies “natural” and “ordinary” even though it is not “common”?

BillyD
Guest
BillyD

“Link to andrew’s blog on fulcrum:–“ Well, that was depressing. The more I read the “Anglican gay people are causing problems with the Muslims” nonsense, the more shocked I become. Let’s pretend for a moment that it’s true (although I don’t think it is). So what? So American attitudes cause problems with Anglicans relating to Muslims in Africa – you don’t think that African attitudes cause problems with Anglicans relating to people who accept modern Western thought on sexuality? Every time the likes of ++Akinola or ++Deng Bul open their mouths on the issue of sexuality, Anglicanism takes a hit… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

BillyD: Can you fathom that “normal” also implies “natural” and “ordinary” even though it is not “common”?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 28 July 2008 at 6:48pm BST

I dunno – I seem to find (my fellow) queers everywhre ! Fortuantely for me ….

Simon Dawson
Guest

The revised Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 9 Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “As a Jewish Teacher I recognise that were I to insist on carrying out the consequences of my own views on this subject rather than upholding what the Scribes and Pharisees have agreed, then I would have to resign. But my Jewish background and spirituality teach… Read more »

Treebeard
Guest
Treebeard

I am surprised that buying things on the Lord’s Day now seems unremarkable even to English Evangelicals.

Another truth tht has changed since my childhood then. ‘Sabbath’ was strongly kept — no unnecessary work done –so veggies etc for sunday roast were prepeared on the Saturday,(certainly in Welsh families in England,) at the very least.

Margaret
Guest
Margaret

“My personal conclusion is that what St Paul and the Old Testament are condemning are not faithful, loving and stable same sex relationships as we see them today but rather matters of cultic sex, sex as the expression of a particular power relationship, and promiscuity.” What a pity that St Paul and the other authors didn’t just say that so that it didn’t come down to one Bishops personal opinion …. after all they managed to be clear enough in other aspects particularly when they were changing the teaching of the Old Testament. You would have thought that if they… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

BillyD wrote: “The more I read the “Anglican gay people are causing problems with the Muslims” nonsense, the more shocked I become.”

And for a Cause. For did we not learn from the affair of the proposed the Nigerian legislation last year (to add a 5 year sentence in pre-modern conditions to already forbidden homosexuality, 3 or 14 years) that it was the Muslim chair and Members of the Nigerian Parliament that opposed the Scheme. It was the Christians that voted to approve (spurred on by their churches ;=)

Link (Nigeria is on page 28): http://www.rfsl.se/public/ilga_govbedroom_2006.pdf

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Margaret: well, women speaking in churches, for example?

Fidelis
Guest
Fidelis

Thank you Margaret for your plain summation of Scripture. Why do people insist on interpreting God’s Word to suit themselves?

Well we all know the answer to that one. God has spoken, once and for all time, for all men and women, through the apostles.

The Lord doesn’t need any pope … or bishop, to gloss his words.