Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 October 2023

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Are We Looking For Jesus?

Neil Patterson ViaMedia.News The Difficulties of Differentiation

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times Clergy cache in the attic
“An online market for unwanted ministry items leads Fergus Butler-Gallie to reflect on puppets and prayer books”

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Richard Eves
Richard Eves
7 months ago

Fergus Butler-Gallie says that “the much-debated issues of sexual intimacy .. appear nowhere in the Creeds, 39 Articles or law of the Church of England”.

*Cough* Canon B30 *Cough*

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
Reply to  Richard Eves
7 months ago

That’s not Fergus, it’s me, and I am fully aware of the content of Canon B30. It does not mention sex.

Richard Eves
Richard Eves
Reply to  Neil Patterson
7 months ago

Apologies for that sloppy mistake.

How do you understand the ‘procreation of children’ to occur?

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Richard Eves
7 months ago

It’s 2023; procreation can occur entirely separately from sexual activity.

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  FearandTremolo
7 months ago

Not normatively, nor naturally. The vast majority understand that procreation is a result of sexual intercourse. There is nothing natural about swirling sperm in a petri dish.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
7 months ago

I hope you never present that argument to a couple desperately struggling with infertility.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

Surely they thank God for the birth of their child and understand it to be something made scientifically possible, when procreation through intercourse (which B30 has in view) has not produced conception in the womb.

Peter Misiaszek
Peter Misiaszek
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

There are huge ethical issues concerning IVF. Or have we conveniently forgotten about that? The creation of life is something I take very seriously – and its ethical outcomes.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Peter Misiaszek
7 months ago

I think the vast majority use condoms

Peter
Peter
7 months ago

It is a bit rich for Neil Patterson to tell those of us who seek differentiation that we are thereby guilty of sin.

In any event, the time for such recriminations is now in the past.

Those who seek and those who oppose same sex Rites in the Church of England are on different paths.

We are going to walk apart.

An organised settlement serves the best interests of all concerned.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

“We are going to walk apart. An organised settlement serves the best interests of all concerned.” I think the disagreement is over the true meaning of such a “differentiation.” You and the CEEC keep arguing that it is not a schism, merely a parallel set of offices, buildings, etc. Isn’t that exactly what the followers of the Wesleys sought in the 18th Century? Yet what they ultimately got was an entirely new and different denomination. Oddly, the same is now occurring in the (formerly} United Methodist Church in the United States, and over the same issues that threaten to divide… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

The Church of England is divided today. It is simply obtuse to imagine otherwise. (I am not saying you are obtuse – I am just saying the division is a reality now). If you want to describe it as a schism, that is up to you. I am not going to quibble over the label. Neil Patterson goes much further than the semantics. He tells those who are seeking differentiation that they are guilty of the sin of schism. Both sides can level that charge. My comment is that the time for such exchanges is past. We need to settle… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

If a divorce is certain, why is CEEC still fighting to influence the direction of the Church of England? Why haven’t they changed tack completely and insisted that all the effort go into the divorce negotiations? The fact that they haven’t leads me to think they don’t believe divorce is as certain as you do.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
7 months ago

Dear Tim, I was using the tragedy that is human divorce to make the point that sometimes two parties need to stop trading recriminations and instead reach a practical settlement to the benefit of both parties – and their dependents. CEEC could not have made themselves clearer in public and in print on the current crisis. They seek a structured differentiation that has as its foundation a group of constitutionally established bishops to provide permanent episcopal ministry to those congregations that oppose same sex Rites. The recently confirmed episcopal Dissenters are a major development in this direction. It is, with… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Peter: “The Church of England is divided today. It is simply obtuse to imagine otherwise.” I think you are right on that, Peter. It’s the de facto reality of the Church of England today. This is what makes one group dominating the consciences of the other group unconscionable. I have continually argued (for years) that we need to agree to disagree, and accept that some priests and church communities should have the right to affirm gay sex and marriage; and some priests and church communities should have the right to oppose gay sex and marriage. The reality is that the… Read more »

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Your statements about what Scotland has done are open to question since you have not made it clear what you mean by Scotland. Do you mean the Church of Scotland, which has indeed accepted both women and LGBT people as ministers? Or do you mean the Scottish Episcopal Church which has also accepted them? The second largest denomination, the Catholic Church, has, of course, not done so. The problem with using either the Kirk or the Piskies as exemplars are that the governance of the Kirk, being Presbyterian and thus not having bishops, is entirely different to that of the… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  David Exham
7 months ago

May I add. I think it would be fair to say that the SEC is heavily in favor of ss marriage. The entirety of the (small) bench of Bishops, e.g.. What it has done is allowed a minority to operate differently, and to honor their Christian conscience.

This does not have a clear analogy in the CofE, and to the degree that is so, it is very difficult to see the easy attractiveness of what you propose as workable at all. There is no CEEC equivalent in scale and proportion in the SEC.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Hi Susannah, Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words. I would say there is no avoiding the fact the CEEC position – which I support – is that same sex Rites are wrong. It is to that extent not a “agree to disagree” position. The structured differentiation settlement is based on the premise that it is better to walk apart as good neighbours than go on in conflict. For example,sensible arrangements can and should be found around shared office services for property matters, pensions administration and so on. However, any new structure would involve those who oppose same sex… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

The question then becomes–would this new province (or whatever) still be part of the CoE and thus elect voting members to General Synod? Would its bishops be part of the House of Bishops, its priests part of the House of Clergy, and its lay members be part of the House of Laity, each of which would–by appropriate percentage–be able to veto any substantial change in the overall CoE? If none of that were so, then isn’t it really an entirely new denomination, as different from the CoE as the Methodists? And if it any of it were so, wouldn’t the… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

There are already two provinces in the Church of England. A third province is a perfectly workable administrative model and does not invoke any of the problems or issues you described.

The problem is ecclesiology, not administrative matters.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Both provinces currently select members of General Synod, and its decisions bind both provinces. If your putative third province does that, how does it change anything, and if it does not, in what sense is it part of the CofE?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
7 months ago

The idea that devising an amended form of voting and an associated electoral structure constitutes an insurmountable obstacle is entirely implausible.

The only genuine obstacle to a general settlement is that those who seek change will not tolerate a new constitutionally established body that asserts its own orthodoxy.

That is all that prevents a settlement.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

See Jo B’s response. It says everything I could.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

Jo B produces paper tigers – that is all.

The substantive issue is that those who seek change will not accept a settlement which accommodates the orthodox position.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

You keep banging the drum as if it’s a self-evident truth that your “organised settlement” is the way forward. I would suggest that the minority who can’t stomach being in a church where other people bless same-sex couples (as opposed to those who merely don’t think it should happen) are free to leave, and there is no reason for the CofE to pander to them beyond allowing them to not participate.

Borderman
Borderman
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

And why is it a bit rich, according to you, to say that some are guilty of sin re: differentiation? If it is the case that we are going to be walking apart why haven’t the main bodies resisting same-sex blessings said this is so and therefore acted positively in this vain. Rather, it seems that an outcome of separateness is threatened time and time again with no clear definitive action. Give us the content and details as to how it will be and forego the political games. For all of us and our sanity, I would hope that we… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Borderman
7 months ago

Read the content of the CEEC website.

It could not be clearer or more public. Nobody is playing games or crying wolf.

Your characterisation has no connection with reality

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

The most recent CEEC material to which I have linked on TA does not yet appear on the CEEC website. That is why I had to convert it to PDFs.

I have also linked to material from Church Society. This is much more strongly worded than anything I have yet seen from CEEC.

See the latest updates at https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/reactions-to-house-of-bishops-announcement/

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
7 months ago

Simon, thanks.

There is plenty on which there is disagreement but CEEC cannot reasonably be accused of obfuscation !

I am very grateful to you for your continued efforts to get the facts in the public domain so people can then argue over realities rather than fictions.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
7 months ago

Am I the only one who thinks Matthew 23 is the relevant Scripture here?

Borderman
Borderman
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Au contraire.

Time and time again we hear ‘we will do this if you do that. We will set up our own structures.’ What are the legal underpinnings of the new structures? What are the training pathways? What are the parallel financial arrangements? If it has been thought through and planned then there ought to be content behind the statement so please do share the details. And if the outcome is so certain, why hasn’t it already happened? Why are we continually subjected to, ‘don’t do this otherwise we will’?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Borderman
7 months ago

Seriously !

The Bishops with all their resources and authority have produced ideas that are paper-thin in their detail, legal basis and pastoral thoroughness.

Yet you tell CEEC unless you are given all the answers to all the questions you will disbelieve all they say.

What extraordinary double standards.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

‘Structural differentiation’ would clearly require Synodical support. I don’t think the threats from CEEC are the most productive way of building support. Even if they persuade the bishops to propose something I think it would fall to pass in Synod because of the ill-will CEEC has built.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
7 months ago

Nobody is threatening anything.

People are perfectly entitled to say they will not be associated with the Bishops if (now when) they follow the direction they have set.

You would, I am certain, be affronted by the claim that those who are seeking change have failed to build support and instead generated ill-will.

The insinuation is no less unacceptable when it is levelled at those who oppose change.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

“People are perfectly entitled to say they will not be associated with the Bishops if (now when) they follow the direction they have set.”

But are they entitled to demand a separate polity to support that disassociation and still maintain their standing as members of the Church of England?

Not to mention the question of “If the CoE’s intended direction is so abhorrent to them, why do they still insist on being a part of it?”

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
7 months ago

Those who hold to the orthodox position are the Church of England. There is not the remotest basis for the assertion we should leave.

Nothing is being “demanded”.

Division is about to descend across 12,000 parishes.

Anybody in possession of their cognitive faculties can see that an organised settlement is inevitable.

Borderman
Borderman
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

You presume that I am happy with the level of detail provided by the House or Bishops. It is not good to presume.

I would say it is double standards to critique something, propose your own alternative solution, and allow that to fall foul of the same critique. It would be easier to take the CEEC et al. with more seriousness if there were detail to accompany the intent.

Last edited 7 months ago by Borderman
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Borderman
7 months ago

If your point is that more detail is needed by all parties then that is obviously true.

It is not what I would call an original and profound insight.

Borderman
Borderman
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

You will be glad to know it was not an original and profound insight. Rather it would concern me if someone thought it was.

John Davies
John Davies
7 months ago

Reading Colin’s piece, and the question of how we perceive Jesus, I’ve said before that I relate most readily to the carpenter of Galillee as an image. One of my activities – indeed increasingly a ministry within church, raising funds for various charities – is amateur carpentry. Being self taught, this sometimes stretches my skills – and I’ll frequently ask his help before starting a job. After all, he would have been pretty skilled at it, and a wise apprentice learns from a master…… (Some scholars, apparently think he and Joseph could have worked on Herod’s palace which wasn’t that… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  John Davies
7 months ago

Thank you for responding to my blog, John. As a theatre addict, I’m curious to know where the evidence for Jesus’ knowledge of Greek and Roman theatre is found. It’s not an idea I’ve come across before. For me, speculations (perhaps that’s not the right word) about Jesus the carpenter haven’t been helpful, but they are for you. He could have worked with his father on Herod’s palace and picked up on theatre knowledge there, but I’m not sure how this helps to form an understanding of Jesus that is free from fundamentalism and literalism. And where is the palace… Read more »

M Evans
M Evans
Reply to  John Davies
7 months ago

I’m intrigued by Jesus’ knowledge of Greek and Roman theatre. Can you expand on that?

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  John Davies
7 months ago

I think you are right John, we see and relate to images or stories about Jesus depending on what we ourselves bring to that encounter. Some prefer a divine Jesus, some more human. That is what I get from Colin’s essay. But it also harks back to the discussion on TA a few weeks back (again initiated by Coin) about Jesus the human person. What were the influences on Jesus the child and young man as he grew up in Galilee? I am more of a metalworker in my hobbies and I respond to stories of Vulcan and Hephaestus in… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Dear Colin, I’ve said this to you elsewhere but I’ll say it again: What I often like about your posts is that they churn things up and challenge my complacencies. (They also resonate with me because, like you, I try to live a contemplative life.) I believe in a supernatural and loving God, who beckons and invites (incites?) us to journey, to open – to conscience and the flow of love. But I also think – as you suggest – that we each make that journey slightly differently, along various pathways. I was always reflective, always touched by wonder in childhood,… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susannah Clark
7 months ago

Thank you, Susannah. That is quite simply one of the most profoundly beautiful, and accurate spiritual pieces I’ve ever read. And it expresses perfectly what I would struggle to say myself. In one of his less well known works, Kenneth Graham said something like this: “Our generation has reduced everything to a material level; water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, not a joy to play in, or be a force to be in awe of. We no longer expect to meet angels unawares, or knights in shining armour. We have lost our sense of wonder….. and we are… Read more »

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