Thinking Anglicans

GAFCON: an Irish view

The Church of Ireland Gazette published an editorial article last week titled THE GAFCON PRIMATESCOMMUNIQUÉ.

…The fact of the matter, however, is that the traditionalist point of view in relation to same-sex relationships – and that, after all, is the real presenting issue leading to all of this confusion – is eminently reasonable and, indeed, eminently traditional and scriptural, but it is unfortunate that the GAFCON Primates use somewhat emotive language in their communiqué (e.g. “sinful practices”), however justifiable they may consider such terminology to be. Yet the 1998 Lambeth I.10 resolution did call for sensitivity, and effectively calling good people sinners is not a sensitive approach. That, however, is not the core issue. The core issue for Anglicans is that the consecration of bishops and the ordination of clergy in active same-sex relationships and public rites of blessing of same-sex relationships are all simply so lacking in consensus within Anglicanism that we have come to this very sorry pass, which has witnessed a Lambeth Conference boycotted by one-fifth to onequarter of those bishops invited. Unity-indiversity just cannot cope in this case.

The GAFCON Primates have invited applications for membership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. While individual lay people, clergy and bishops will rightly decide their own response to this invitation, it is to be hoped that as an option it will be resisted by parishes and dioceses within the Church of Ireland. To have FCA parishes and FCA dioceses and non-FCA parishes and non-FCA dioceses would be sadly divisive, not least because within parishes and dioceses there are varying opinions about the presenting issue. Other parts of the Communion must work out their approach, but we do not need such division. The 1997 report of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, The Virginia Report, raised the allied issues of ‘discernment and reception’ in recognising truth. The commission stated: “In the matter of discussing the mind of Christ for the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, discernment, conciliar debate and decision making followed by a process of reception each have a part to play. It is not a matter of weakness that the Church is unable to make instant decisions in relation to the complex matters of faith, order and morals which come before it, but the way it lives in the process of discernment, decision making and reception may give profound witness and provide a model for other communities.” (Ch. 4, IV, 5.26). Unfortunately, Anglicanism is not presenting a very helpful “witness” or instructive “model” at the moment, although the Archbishop of Canterbury is doing his level best. Decision making is followed by reception. In that way, decisions have provisionality and those who feel badly done by can be reassured that there is always room, in proper proportion, for more discussion, more debate and more discernment. But experience has surely shown that within the Anglican Communion there is currently no positive, general reception for the consecration of bishops and the ordination of clergy in active same-sex relationships and public rites of blessing of same-sex relationships.

On the contrary, the issue has led to quite possibly the deepest acrimony known in the Church and has brought us to the realms of schism. Certainly, the Churches of the Anglican Communion, being autonomous, can proceed as they wish without let or hindrance, but the GAFCON Primates’ communiqué illustrates a very stark consequence.

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Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“On the contrary, the issue has led to quite possibly the deepest acrimony known in the Church and has brought us to the realms of schism.”

And THAT is the real problem…why has this issue, so peripheral to matters of faith, become a stumbling block–when far more weighty matters, such as veneration of the saints or the Real Presence, have not?

Deacon Charlie Perrin
Deacon Charlie Perrin
12 years ago

If the concept of “reception” had been used for ordaining both people of color and women, we’d still have a lily-white and all male hierarchy.

The plain fact is that unless _someone_ takes the lead in an area where prejudice and injustice hold sway, _nothing_ ever changes.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“And THAT is the real problem…why has this issue, so peripheral to matters of faith, become a stumbling block–when far more weighty matters, such as veneration of the saints or the Real Presence, have not?” Because those for whom these form important aspects of the faith see no need to insist that everyone else agree with them. Those for whom these are either NOT key matters of faith, or who specifically reject them, and implicitly the doctrines behind them, DO feel it important to only be in communion with those who agree with them. What I find most frightening about… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
12 years ago

Perhaps it is time, however unlikely, for the Communion to follow the current approach of both American presidential candidates of avoiding the issue. Neither the Democrats, who favor gay rights, nor the Republicans, whose “base” is evangelical, are very interested in this subject now. They have bigger problems: the economy and war. In the same sense, Anglican Christians have bigger problems: poverty and faith. Putting the issue away for a while is what ABC is advocating.

Old Father William
Old Father William
12 years ago

Ford Elms writes: “Once the fags are safely back in the closet, how long will it be before they turn their attention to what they see as idolatry and a suspiciously Roman looking understanding of the sacraments?”

It is not insignificant, I think, that the 1662 Prayer Book has been held up as a unifying standard among these folk. Which leads to the frequently asked question: how long can an alliance between places like San Joaquin and the Southern Cone survive?
OFW

Cheryl Va.
12 years ago

I agree Ford. The issue of blessing same-gay relationships or ordaining GLBT priests is only the tip of the iceberg. The debate at a fundamental level comes down to is this planet and its occupants a result of the “original sin” and formed by a petulant and wrathful god? Or is this planet and its occupants desired and ordained, and our presence here a sign that God wants us to learn and grow from being here? The former involves denial, shunning, rejection, recrimination, accusations, and repression. The latter involves acceptance, compassion, hospitality, forgiveness, mercy and nurturing. Even if I speak… Read more »

Robert Ian williams
Robert Ian williams
12 years ago

Why is there still no list of GAFCON signatories…that is the hallmark of the fraud that it is…and why is the Headquarters of a boasted 50 million ( according to Canon Sugden Mathematics), 97 per cent black African in Sydney?

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“The debate at a fundamental level comes down to is this planet and its occupants a result of the “original sin” and formed by a petulant and wrathful god? Or is this planet and its occupants desired and ordained, and our presence here a sign that God wants us to learn and grow from being here?” Cheryl, I disagree with you on this. First, Creation is not a result of original sin, neither was it formed by a petulant God. It was created good. Whatever the allegory of Genesis refers to, something happened on the way from earlier primates to… Read more »

JC Fisher
JC Fisher
12 years ago

“The core issue for Anglicans is that the consecration of bishops and the ordination of clergy in active same-sex relationships and public rites of blessing of same-sex relationships are all simply so lacking in consensus within Anglicanism” “The core issue for Anglicans is…”? Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that the tone (if not implication) of the above, is that LGBTs are not ***faithful Anglicans themselves***? (Rather, that we’re just a problem for the rest of y’all) And *spare me* from the “mission creep”! The (proposed) moratorium speaks ONLY (partnered gay) BISHOPS, not (any other) clergy! Lord… Read more »

Nom de Plume
Nom de Plume
12 years ago

“why is the Headquarters of a boasted 50 million (according to Canon Sugden Mathematics), 97 per cent black African in Sydney?”

Obviously because 97% of Sydney is black African. And wherever the headquarters is 97% of the money is American.

Bob in SW PA
Bob in SW PA
12 years ago

I really liked what you had to say Cheryl. It’s almost Buddhist. Maybe God put us here to find “enlightenment.” What i find difficult to grasp with conservatives and evangelicals is the belief that God has nothing new to say.

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

‘But experience has surely shown that within the Anglican Communion there is currently no positive, general reception for the consecration of bishops and the ordination of clergy in active same-sex relationships and public rites of blessing of same-sex relationships. ……… ….but the GAFCON Primates’ communiqué illustrates a very stark consequence.’ This statement from the Church of Ireland Gazette certainly indicates the reality of the situation at the moment – where the Gaffe-Con Movement has decided on its own response to the Reflections from Lambeth. Despite the eirenic overtures of the WCG, the GAFCON Secratariate – led by Abp. Peter Jensen… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
12 years ago

Ford You haven’t sat through the sermons I’ve sat through. Trust me, I’ve seen enough “up close” of the conservative faction behind GAFCON, they have a fundamental scapegoating paradigm, with Eve (aka Cheva) at the top of their list. Your sentiment is correct. That does not change that there needs to be an insight into why some camps would rather tear apart a global communion than be nice to GLBTs. Nor why they move from one repressive deceitful strategy to the next. Another fundamental world view. Those who resort to accusations, repression, censorship, elitism, greed, tyranny and corruption have a… Read more »

davidwh
davidwh
12 years ago

Pity Simon hasn’t posted Ephraim Radner’s latest article yet, as it is very relevant. He’s come to the conclusion that the Communion needs a split. He reckons that the acceptance of same-sex sexual relationships in some parts of the Communion (ie TEC, ACC and, quietly, in the UK provinces) has raised the stakes too high for liberals to ever consider the possibility that they might be wrong. (I’d love to hear folk’s comments… my gut feeling is that he is right…) Hence most liberals might say that they believe in listening and dialogue, but in fact nearly all of them… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Robert Ian Williams
12 years ago

Unlike the liberals Gafcon is a loose coalition of disparate groups..who are theologically poles apart. This ice can only remain solid for a certain amount of time.

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
12 years ago

davidwh: interesting post. I’m up for helping C of E parishes align to a post-split more liberal grouping. The sooner all these wound-up insecure-male-dominated 1950s-idealising Con Evo churches go, the better.

Is that what you had in mind?

Rev'd L J Roberts
Rev'd L J Roberts
12 years ago

Yes Dr Radner’s latest paper is published on the Anglican Institute website and also available at Fulcrum. It is magisterial in its recognition of the realities of gay families, gay partnerships and the church and civil embeddedness of gay people now — protected often civil laws and the force of sheer decency. A very fairminded and non-abusive approach – so different from the mindless bile that constitutes so much of T19, SF., Vitue etc. However, the conclusion he draws from the evidence is somewhat surprising to me; and would appear to be based upon some kind of dogmatic appraoch unrelated… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

DavidWh No need to get so excited, this isn’t new. Of course conservatives are not going to accept homosexuality, and of course liberals aren’t ever going to call it sinful. If that’s what listening is about for you, there really is no point. Listening has to mean understanding why the others have come to the view their hold, accepting their integrity and that they, too, are moved by what they perceive to be the calling of the Holy Spirit. If we can do that for each other, we can live side by side, just like we have done in the… Read more »

magistra
12 years ago

I think those who are liberal on gay issues (and I include myself) have to accept that the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion (and I mean those at pew level) do not agree with us on the issue. (That is a fact that has nothing to do with whether or not we are right on the issue). So we in the minority have to decide whether it is worth staying in the Anglican Communion to change peoples’ minds or whether it is better to get out of it and form our own ‘communion’. If we get out we will… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

Davidwh:

There’s intransigence and there’s intransigence: Tell me, which “intransigent” group is the one that refuses to share the Eucharist with the other? Or even to sit in the same pews?

Ben W
Ben W
12 years ago

Fr Mark, If I am right you are speaking more out of pain at the difficult situation we have entered than anything else, so I will not simply respond to your put-down of evangelicals. It is the saddened recognition from the Bishop of Winchester himself, Michael Scott-Joynt, that people are now thinking and largely talking at cross purposes. With Radner I think at the very least, “It is this kind of admission that should spur us to hard thinking.” Does the bishop just speak for himself? The language or key references as Radner shows now regularly get in the way,… Read more »

davidwh
davidwh
12 years ago

Fr Mark

I prefer to think of the heretics who are causing division leaving to try to form a nice new liberal church. I think it wouldn’t “fly” ‘cos liberals depend too much on the rest of us for income and people-power.

john
john
12 years ago

Erika, ‘Listening has to mean understanding why the others have come to the view their hold, accepting their integrity and that they, too, are moved by what they perceive to be the calling of the Holy Spirit. If we can do that for each other, we can live side by side, just like we have done in the case of all other issues that nearly split the church in the past. Ben said yesterday in another post that the communion could not hold because there is no centre. He’s right.’ Your first two paras seem to me exactly right. Moreover,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Magistra “So we in the minority have to decide whether it is worth staying in the Anglican Communion to change peoples’ minds or whether it is better to get out of it and form our own ‘communion'” The point is that we cannot actually get out and leave pure churches behind us. Gays are born every minute, at a steady percentage of the population, and some will be brought up in church families, some will become Christians later in life. I mean – this whole debate about ordaining gay priests and bishops only comes about because there is a continuous… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

John I personally agree with you. There is absolutely no need to split the communion. But that strikes me as a liberal position because we tend to be very willing to live side by side with those we don’t agree with. In my own church there is a very broad centre, but its voice isn’t heard in the debate. In the CoE there is a centre, but it’s characterised by being equally silent. In the AC there is, presumably, a centre, but you wouldn’t know from the gathering of 650 men at Lambeth who is part of that centre and… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“So we in the minority have to decide whether it is worth staying in the Anglican Communion to change peoples’ minds or whether it is better to get out of it and form our own ‘communion’.” You know, for all I have said in the past about Evangelicals, I don’t want a schism with them. We need them to pull us out of the clouds of idealism we can fly up into. Basically we need the balance between the legalism and judgementalism of the right and the idealism and fuzziness of the left. And, the world needs to see a… Read more »

davidwh
davidwh
12 years ago

Erika, Rev Roberts I think the problem in Ephraim’s mind is that same-sex sex is sinful, not just novel. He isn’t being narrow-minded, quite the opposite, he is thinking through both sides and realising that no way forward is possible together. He’s realised that any form of open reception (ie where you do what you want and we do what we want, and we all see how it goes) is effectively a one way street. we’ve already seen how this works (or rather doesn’t) in TEC and ACC. It would be just the same anywhere else. Trying to pretend that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Ben The question is where we draw the line in terms of the basic parameters we need to share. I will never accept that the evangelical position represents “historic teaching”, I will never accept that there is such a thing as “authorised bible translations” if that implies they are faithful to the first originals as they were compiled and edited before they became Scripture, and if it means they were not influenced by the culture the translators have been working in. I will never accept the way evangelicals emphasise Scripture over Tradition, Reason and the continuous prompting of the Holy… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
12 years ago

“I prefer to think of the heretics who are causing division leaving to try to form a nice new liberal church. I think it wouldn’t ‘fly’ (because) liberals depend too much on the rest of us for income and people-power.” – Davidwh – It all depends, dwh, on what you think of as ‘heresy’, and who exactly is ‘causing division’ in the current situation. Is sexual actitivy a bigger sin than refusing to sit at the Lord’s Table with a fellow Bishop? is sexual activity a bigger sin than judgementalism and self-righteousness? – I think you should read the parable… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

DavidWh
You’re still missing the point.
Compromise never means one side giving in 100%. Compromise always means both sides giving about 50%.
My question to you was what, given the immovables in this debate, would you be willing to give?

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
12 years ago

Davidwh: “liberals depend too much on the rest of us for income and people-power.” David, that’s simply not true. In the English deanery where I was based until a year ago, we had 13 parishes. Only 3 of them were what you would regard as kosher: the rest you would regard as liberal. There had already long been a situation in which the Conservative Evangelicals would not work collaboratively with their colleagues from other traditions, so there was no sharing of resources at all, beyond paying quotas, which the Con Evo clergy regularly threatened to withhold whenever they disagreed with… Read more »

Ford elms
Ford elms
12 years ago

“I value Scripture enough to want to get to its truth. That means I will revise my reading of it in accordance with the latest discoveries of translation errors etc.” Erika, there is a school of thought within Evangelicalism that Scripture has somehow miraculously been transmitted so as to accurately reflect God’s words on every point. In the extreme, this manifests as “If it ain’t King James, it ain’t Bible.” Seriously. For such people, there can be no translation errors, any earlier texts are either in error or the work of the Devil, or both. I hvae no idea how… Read more »

Fr Mark
Fr Mark
12 years ago

Ford Elms: “I didn’t even know there were such things as Anglican Evangelicals till a few years ago.” Ignorance is bliss, my dear.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“some will become Christians later in life.” Erika, I doubt many will be willing to accept a religion that preaches hate againt them and pretends it is only saying what it says about everybody else. They see very clearly that conservatives who won’t rent them a room have no problem renting a room to usurers or remarried divorcees. Hypocrisy like that is quite visible, and after coming to terms with one’s sexuality in the face of virulent opposition from a Church some of whose leaders want to imprison them, they are primed to spot it and mock it. “Ignorance is… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Ford
“Erika, I doubt many will be willing to accept a religion that preaches hate againt them and pretends it is only saying what it says about everybody else”

But that’s what has happened throughout the ages.
Homosexuals have heard God’s call and have entered the church, at all levels.
They have remained closeted but the condemnation shown by the church hasn’t stopped them from following God’s call.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Ford “Erika, there is a school of thought within Evangelicalism that Scripture has somehow miraculously been transmitted so as to accurately reflect God’s words on every point.” I know. But you see, Ben keeps asking what we can affirm, and whether there is anything we share. Well, I personally think we share a lot, and so I thought I rise to the challenge and list what I can and cannot affirm. I was rather hoping that Ben would reply and indicate whether there is enough for him to compromise, or whether he will only ever accept died in the wool… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“They have remained closeted but the condemnation shown by the church hasn’t stopped them from following God’s call.” Erika, I can’t help but think that there are those out there thinking “Well, if that worked for 2000 years, if gay people have been answering the call anyway, why change it now?” 🙂 I used to think that “Love God, love your neighbour” was a good ground for agreement, but I am now waiting for Ben’s response on the other thread as to what he thinks is an “appropriate context” for loving one’s neighbour. I think I’m being unfair to him… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Ford “Erika, I can’t help but think that there are those out there thinking “Well, if that worked for 2000 years, if gay people have been answering the call anyway, why change it now?” :-)” Because they actually hate the idea of simply not telling. A number of posters here have in the past spoken of wanting to root out the don’t ask don’t tell culture and to cleanse the church. The witchhunt is stronger now than it ever has been. And that brings me to your question on another thread – why do you keep trying to talk to… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“why do you keep trying to talk to these people when they absolutely refuse to hear what you’re saying?” Sheer, well I don’t think Simon’d let me use the local phrase, let’s just say scrappiness. Venting of long repressed issues. Smug superiority. All sorts of motivations unbecoming in someone who can make himself look so idealistic at other times. “But there are the lurkers who might believe there was no answer to consevo rhetoric if people like you suddenly stopped talking.” Maybe this is the flaw in the logic. Maybe we need to stop being an answer to the Consevo… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
12 years ago

Ford “Maybe we need to stop being an answer to the Consevo rhetoric, defining ourselves by what we are not, and just confidently proclaim what we are. Not, “We are not like them” but “We are like this”. I agree, it is high time non-consevos (not just libbruls) defined loud and clear what we stand for! On the other hand, you are one of the few people who consistently do just that. Yes, you react to what they say about us, but it is also a fact that within the Anglican Communion, they and their narrow views are de facto… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
12 years ago

Erika wrote “”why do you keep trying to talk to these people when they absolutely refuse to hear what you’re saying?” Sheer, well I don’t think Simon’d let me use the local phrase, let’s just say scrappiness.” Another word for it is chutzpah. Jesus had it in stripes (as did John the Baptist). Not only did they stand up to the corrupt priests of their day (brood of vipers was John’s favorite expression) but they went to their deaths. Between Jesus chutzpah against the Pharisees, and his boldness of overtures to the Daughter of Zion (Matthew 21 & John 14:12-19),… Read more »

Bob Webster
Bob Webster
12 years ago

Hey Ford, I for one-probably considered a lurker-enjoy your witness on these pages. Keep up the good work. You raise the question about the distinction between evangelicalism and fundamentalism. F is a radical offshoot of E which arose in opposition to the modernist developments in the 19th C. It is most often identified with Darby’s ideas around dispensationalism. Rather than take up a lot of space here, check out Wikkipedia under F. That will get you started. As for other issues being raised here, I agree with Erica. We need to define who we are for ourselves rather than saying… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“F is a radical offshoot of E which arose in opposition to the modernist developments in the 19th C. It is most often identified with Darby’s ideas around dispensationalism.” I guess I’m asking for a practical rather than ideological differentiation. F has the following properties: 1. Demands a literal interpretation of Scripture, leading to denial of evolution, interpretation of the Bible as history, and elaborate attempts to justify this position. 2. Delusions as to the origins of their doctrine as “traditional”. This usually goes to the extent of denial of the Christianity of others and elaborate reconstructions of Church history.… Read more »

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