Andrew Goddard writes: What are we to make of the recent Lambeth Conference, what it says about the state of the Anglican Communion, and the possible implications of all this for the Church of England? This is the lightly revised text of a talk given to the National Club in September 2022. After sketching the road to the Conference and its undoubted successes, the focus here is on the ecclesiological questions and what the Conference reveals about the Anglican Communion. Using a classic definition of the Communion from the 1930 Lambeth Conference it relates the reality of the current situation after Lambeth to that historic vision by exploring its four central characteristics: sustenance through the common counsel of bishops in conference; mutual loyalty; upholding and propagating the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order; and communion with the see of Canterbury. The latter leads into concluding reflections on what might lie ahead within the see of Canterbury as the Church of England discerns and decides a direction of travel in the light of Living in Love and Faith.
The Road to the Conference
The Conference brought together over 600 Anglican bishops from around the globe, many of their spouses who had their own conference, and dozens of ecumenical guests. It would normally have met in 2018 following the pattern of meeting every ten years and that would also have been just after the 150th anniversary of the first Conference in 1867. The tensions and divisions in the Communion, however, led to it being postponed until 2020. That year marked the centenary of the famous post First World War Conference that issued the significant Lambeth “Appeal to All Christian People” which was so important in subsequent ecumenical dialogue. Covid, however, put paid to that and so it was not until late July this year that the bishops gathered, meeting for 12 days.
Less than two months after it ended it is in many ways premature to offer an assessment of the Conference. This is particularly the case since this time the Conference has been presented as simply the middle of 3 phases: a time of “listening together” through virtual meetings in 2021 and 2022, the “walking together” of the Conference itself, and now a time of “witnessing together” in which conference outcomes and initiatives will be taken forward.
The Conference’s Successes
Although definitive judgments are not possible so soon after the Conference, it is quite clear that in many, many ways it was a great success. Those attending were able to share in fellowship and hear of the joys and challenges of mission and ministry as bishops have seen God at work in their own contexts. Old friendships and partnerships were renewed and new ones established. Scripture was expounded and studied together – particularly 1 Peter which was the focus. Major questions facing the church and the world were discussed in small groups with expert input in plenaries: mission and evangelism, the environment, persecution, safeguarding, human dignity, inter-faith relationships, Christian unity. Those attending worshipped and prayed together several times each day. I think it is also fair to say that many bishops from the Global North were challenged by the faith and witness of bishops from other parts of the Communion and the ways God is powerfully at work. Graham Tomlin tweeted on Day One – “This is Archbishop George from the DRC. Really gracious, humble man. He was telling me about confirming 830 people on one day. Made me feel a bit of a lightweight”. By Day 12 there had been thousands and thousands of similar conversations.
The amount of good fruit that will come from all those encounters over those two weeks is – and will remain – simply impossible to quantify. It is important that all that follows needs to be set in that context. Not least because it is evidence that God has not given up on the churches and their leaders who gathered in Canterbury this summer. Nor, I believe, on the Anglican Communion that brings them together in gatherings such as the Lambeth Conference. But what we mean by the Anglican Communion and what all this means for the Church of England is far from clear.
Our differences go beyond sexuality
There is a tendency to think that the difficulties in the Communion are simply about sexuality but this, although highlighting one key issue, is I think wrong on a number of counts. The difficulties in relation to sexuality arise because of deeper differences concerning authority, theological method, and of course the interpretation and authority of Scripture both in relation to specific texts and more generally. The differences and disagreements on sexuality are also constantly interacting with differences and disagreements about what it means to be the Anglican Communion and we have competing and incompatible visions of the nature of the church. It is on this latter question – and its interaction with questions of sexuality – that I want particularly to focus when thinking about “after Lambeth” and “what next for the CofE”.
What is the Anglican Communion and how is it doing?
A classic definition of the Anglican Communion comes from the 1930 Lambeth Conference. It reads:
The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, which have the following characteristics in common:
they uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer as authorised in their several Churches;
they are particular or national Churches, and, as such, promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship; and
they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference.
In the light of this I want to ask “So how is it doing?” by exploring further four of the key elements of this definition which are key questions after Lambeth. I will take them in reverse order starting at the end of the definition.
First, that the churches of the Communion are “sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference”.
That reference to “the bishops in conference” refers above all to Lambeth Conferences but this Conference and its predecessor under Rowan Williams in 2008 have both been significantly different from previous Conferences. As a result, there are real questions as to in what sense we can still refer to “the common counsel of the bishops in conference”. This relates to two areas – who comes to Lambeth and what they now do there and, in particular, their capacity even to develop “common counsel in conference” as part of the Anglican Communion, let alone for that common counsel to sustain the churches of the Communion and help bind them together.
In relation to the bishops who gather at the Conference, both in 2008 and this year a significant number of bishops declined the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation (see my earlier, fuller discussion here). The provinces of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda had no bishops present, and this year Kenya also had many including the Primate saying they could not in good conscience attend. We have seen bishops of over 200 dioceses in which are found tens of millions of Anglicans (probably 30% to 40% of those who are “in communion with the See of Canterbury”) refusing to attend two consecutive Lambeth Conferences fourteen years apart! This surely is a serious sign that the “common counsel of bishops in conference” that is meant to sustain the Communion is no longer working as it should. There is also the problem that among those who attended the number of bishops from provinces such as the US, Canada and England is disproportionately higher in terms of number of Anglican worshippers compared to bishops from other provinces, especially in Africa, which are growing but seriously and increasingly under-represented at the Conference.
But the problem is deeper. This is because even those who have attended the last two Conferences have not been able to take “common counsel” together and offer it to the Communion as a whole. All 13 previous Conferences before 2008 produced resolutions. These were signed off by the Conference as a whole having been worked on, often in great detail, within the Conference itself by various groups of bishops, drawing on materials provided to them up to a year or more in advance of the Conference.
In 2008 there was a conscious decision to have no resolutions but simply conversations, what was called “Indaba”. This year, however, great play was made of the fact that although there would not be “resolutions” there would instead be “Calls” (see here for more details on this change). The management of this process was, however, perhaps the most depressing and shocking aspect of the Conference (which I tracked at the time here, here, and here). Although this new approach was first announced back in 2020 and there have been two years of “listening together” online, the rationale and significance of the proposed Calls was not made clear until early June, less than two months before the Conference. The actual content – the proposed text – of the Calls (not a short document) was only released a week before the Conference began. Then on the eve of the Conference itself, the Call on Human Dignity, touching on the most controversial area of human sexuality, was withdrawn after controversy erupted over what was seen as its conservative content. Major and still unanswered questions were also raised concerning how it was produced. A new wording, with significant changes made in relation to sexuality and what it means to be a communion of churches, was then released as the Conference opened. The whole process further unravelled as each day a different system was used for the Conference to signal its opinion of the Call being discussed that day. This continued until, on Tuesday, day 7, when the rewritten Call on Human Dignity was being considered. Then it was announced that from now on there would be no attempt to gauge the mind of the Conference as a whole on the proposed Calls but simply the collection of feedback notes from each discussion group. On that day the Archbishop of Canterbury also wrote a letter about the Call on Human Dignity and spoke to the whole Conference – very significant interventions in relation to both sexuality and being a Communion explored further below.
So, in relation to this first characteristic of the Communion, there must be real questions asked as to in what sense if any the Lambeth Conference can now be said to enable the Communion to be sustained by “the common counsel of the bishops in conference”.
Secondly, the Communion was based on not simply enabling such common counsel in order to sustain the Communion. It also expected the churches of the Communion to embody “mutual loyalty” in particular towards that common counsel.
This approach is explicitly contrasted with being bound together by a central legislative or executive authority such as found in Roman Catholic Canon Law or the universal jurisdiction of the Bishop Of Rome. Instead of that, Anglicans have held that “particular or national Churches” (what we would now call provinces of the Communion) are free to “promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship”.
This is now often described as the principle of provincial autonomy. But that “autonomy” has never meant freedom to act however one wished as a national church or province. The 1920 Conference had famously stated in its encyclical letter to the Communion that the churches of the Communion were “independent, but independent with the Christian freedom which recognizes the restraints of truth and of love”. One of the restraints of love – sometimes described as the “bonds of affection” – was to be this “mutual loyalty”.
It is this which was lost not long after the 1998 Conference – the last to pass resolutions. It was lost because the famous resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality clearly restated the mind of the gathered bishops as to the teaching of Scripture in this area and the limits they believed this placed on the proper responses of churches within the Communion. The decision of the churches in North America and Canada to disregard this resolution in relation to blessing of same-sex unions, consecrating bishops in such unions, and more recently in relation to the doctrine of marriage, is what has led to the breakdown in relationships. The response of the Communion to this has consistently until now been to call for repentance, reversal, and restraint and, when those appeals have consistently been ignored, to institute consequences for those churches in relation to their place within Communion life.
At this Conference, however, Archbishop Justin appeared to interpret this history in a new way. A way which rather than appealing to loyalty to the common counsel of bishops as it had been expressed in Resolution I.10 from 1998 instead gave emphasis to “particular or national Churches” and their freedom to “promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship”.
In his opening address to the session on Human Dignity he set out where things were in these terms:
For the large majority of the Anglican Communion the traditional understanding of marriage is something that is understood, accepted and without question, not only by Bishops but their entire Church, and the societies in which they live. For them, to question this teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries would make the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For many churches to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.
For a minority, we can say almost the same. They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study and reflection on understandings of human nature. For them, to question this different teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries is making the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For these churches not to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.
This he described as “the reality of life in the Communion today”. He also stressed that “I neither have, nor do I seek, the authority to discipline or exclude a church of the Anglican Communion. I will not do so. I may comment in public on occasions, but that is all. We are a Communion of Churches, not a single church”.
Although this sought to set out the different perspectives present in the room in a way that would facilitate discussion and seems to have largely succeeded in doing so, at the very least it also appears to abandon the principle of “mutual loyalty” especially to the “common counsel of the bishops in conference” as a key element in defining the Anglican Communion. The 1920 Conference at the end of the passage quoted above stated of the churches that “they are not free to ignore the fellowship”. The consensus of the Communion has been that “ignoring the fellowship” is exactly what innovating churches in relation to sexuality were doing. That had been a major issue at the 2008 Conference. But no mention was made of this by the Archbishop at this Lambeth Conference.
The difficulties have, however, not simply been that some churches appear to have felt “free to ignore the fellowship”. For most of the Communion the developments have also contravened the other summary statement of the 1920 Conference – that churches of the Communion “are not free to deny the truth”.
This leads us back up the definition we began with to the third element in defining the Communion which continues to be a matter of controversy – that its churches “uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order”.
After the initial developments in North America, the Commission which sought to find a way forward for the Communion clearly stated in its Windsor Report of 2004 that “The overwhelming response from other Christians both inside and outside the Anglican family has been to regard these developments as departures from genuine, apostolic Christian faith” (para 28). When the American church went further and changed its doctrine and practice in relation to marriage, the Primates of the Communion at their first meeting under Archbishop Justin in 2016 combined this concern about catholicity with the concern we have just considered about not ignoring the fellowship. They clearly stated that
in keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.
Here we see the seriousness of the gulf between the majority and minority of the churches which Archbishop Justin described. It is not simply a matter of them following a similar pattern of discernment but in different social contexts nor simply a case of them “promoting within each of their territories a distinctive national expression of Christian faith, life and worship”. It is that the majority (or at least a significant part of the majority) see the minority as no longer churches which clearly “uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” that has historically been one of the common characteristics of all Communion churches. That is why so many bishops could not in good conscience attend and why so many who did attend – connected to the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans – were so concerned about these matters.
Archbishop Justin was clear in the letter he sent during the Conference just before he spoke to the session on Human Dignity that he wanted “to affirm that the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, 1:10 is not in doubt and that whole resolution is still in existence”. This helpfully and encouragingly clarified that the removal of the earlier explicit reaffirmation of the resolution from the first draft Call on Human Dignity did not mean I.10 had reached the end of its shelf-life. But it also gave the impression that it was now simply being left on the shelf, that it should have no real consequences for ordering the common life of the Communion. Despite it representing the common counsel of the bishops in Conference. Despite it stating what they understood to be the teaching of Scripture. Despite it simply reaffirming historic Catholic and Apostolic faith and order in relation to sexual relationships and the liturgy and leadership requirements of the church.
This question of how sexuality relates to “Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” brings to the fore a key question which the Church of England is also shortly going to have to address: How significant are questions about sexual holiness and marriage and hence our disagreements over these matters?
In his third and final Presidential address Archbishop Justin sought to rearticulate something of what it means to be the Anglican Communion, claiming that the Conference had “become a time of intense ecclesiological development, and thinking and reflection for the Anglican Communion”. He did so in part through reference to elements of Catholic Social Teaching. Encouragingly, he included the language of being interdependent which his earlier statements had lacked. He linked this to “the Catholic Social Teaching of solidarity, our mutual support, and by seeking the common good, a third key Catholic Social Teaching principle, we accept a level of mutual accountability without mutual control”. He did not, however, relate this analysis to the recent history summarised above. Nor did he explore whether the actions of certain provinces were in any way “seeking the common good” of the Communion or demonstrating “a level of mutual accountability”. He then described autonomy as “an expression of subsidiarity, the principle in Catholic Social Teaching that we should always work at the most local level possible”. He contrasted this with centralisation. But in relation to subsidiarity the question is always what properly is “the most local level possible” for any particular decision? We see this in relation to EU law within EU countries, we see it currently in debates as to whether the Scottish government is able to call a referendum on independence or whether that power remains with the UK government.
In relation to the church, if we are to draw on these categories for our self-understanding and self-description as a Communion, it must surely be the case that “Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” is not something whose definition can be left to autonomous particular or national churches as “the most local level possible”. No – that is what the churches have in common and not something they are free to adapt or reject as they wish. If – as he seemed to be saying at the Conference – Archbishop Justin now thinks that questions of marriage doctrine are properly matters for each Communion province to determine in their own context, he would then appear to be saying that this is because they are not matters of Catholic and Apostolic faith and order. That is why they can, perhaps even should, be legitimately reformulated locally due to subsidiarity. They are, in technical theological language, adiaphora, matters indifferent. If that is what he is effectively saying, all the evidence is that this contradicts the historic understanding of the Communion, repudiates the framework the Communion has brought to handling these disputes over the last two decades, and is a view rejected by the majority of the bishops of the Communion. For them the Anglican Communion is in the mess it is in because this historic characteristic of churches of the Communion – that they “uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” – no longer pertains or at least much less clearly and fully pertains, in regard to a number of churches that are officially part of the Anglican Communion and whose bishops were present in significant numbers at the Lambeth Conference.
And so we come to the fourth aspect of the classic definition of the Anglican Communion – that it comprises “duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury”. Here there are four challenges to note which increasingly lead into questions concerning “the see of Canterbury” and the Church of England itself.
Firstly, the 1930 definition of the Communion made clear that alongside this characteristic there were the 3 characteristics we have just explored. I have suggested all 3 of these have been significantly eroded in recent decades and that the recent Lambeth Conference has not addressed that fact. It may even have in some ways complicated matters further. If that is so, then this fourth element of “in communion with the see of Canterbury” takes on more and more significance. But is this really a sufficient definition of what it means to be the Anglican Communion? Can it even bear the weight it now is having to bear given the varying degrees of collapse of the other historically weight-bearing characteristics?
This may also explain why a feature of both this and the previous Lambeth Conference has been the massively increased profile and role of the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Conference. This year that took the form of 5 expositions of 1 Peter and 3 Presidential Addresses, the presentation of the text of the Calls, and the significant letter and opening statement in relation to the Call on Human Dignity and questions of sexuality and the Communion. In contrast there was little or nothing that could be in any sense described as expressing the mind of the Conference itself rather than just its President. It is important that this shift is recognised and evaluated and that statements of the Archbishop are not taken as statements of the Conference itself.
Secondly, whatever we think of the sufficiency of “being in communion with the see of Canterbury” what are we to make of its necessity? Is this still a sine qua non in relation to defining Anglicans and the Anglican Communion?
This is important because alongside the breaking and impairment of relationships between historic provinces within the official Anglican Communion there has occurred the development of new patterns of relationship. The most significant but not the only one of these has been the recognition of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) by many provinces and by the two major international networks of GAFCON and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans. They now regularly refer to the ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion. But officially it is not part of the Anglican Communion. It is not because it is not “in communion with the see of Canterbury”. Canterbury – ie the Church of England – remains in full communion with The Episcopal Church even though in terms of doctrine it is now more closely aligned with the ACNA. If, as it appears, the other classic characteristics of the Communion have been, if not abandoned, at least relativised, are we right to treat this one as in some sense essential, inviolable and sacrosanct? If it is essential, inviolable and sacrosanct, when can the CofE seek to enter into full communion with the ACNA and the Communion structures begin to explore recognising it as a province of the Communion?
Thirdly, if as I have proposed the Anglican Communion has seen its other three characteristics becoming weaker and more fragile within its common life as a result of the conflicts over sexuality, will the see of Canterbury do anything to secure and revive them?
Archbishop Rowan sought to do this by commending the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant and speaking of enabling an intensification of relationships for those who wished them. Sadly, in part because of the narrowly successful campaign against it within the CofE, that particular path is now pretty firmly blocked. The decision by the 2016 Primates Meeting to visibly differentiate in a number of ways between Communion provinces which upheld teaching on marriage and those which did not was in some ways an attempt to follow a similar path. The current Archbishop however never seemed to be committed to this approach. His contributions to the Lambeth Conference give no evidence that he will offer leadership that will pursue a form of it in order to address the challenges sketched out here. Indeed, he seems at times to be wishing to move the Communion in the opposite direction where there is a privileging of autonomy over interdependence and mutual loyalty and where there is acceptance of a diversity of teachings in relation to marriage.
The reality is, however, that most of the Communion wish the Anglican Communion to be the sort of Communion it claimed to be in that 1930 definition. If the current structures bear less and less of those marks and the Archbishop of Canterbury will not offer a vision and specific proposals that might restore those characteristics then it is likely that they will develop apart from the see of Canterbury. That should sadden us. But it should not surprise us if we believe that this vision is faithful to Scripture and the calling of the church and that the Spirit remains at work within the churches of the Anglican Communion.
One form of this already is GAFCON and now it looks like the larger Global South Fellowship will adapt and develop the sort of vision that shaped the dropped baton of the Anglican Covenant developed under Archbishop Rowan. They are developing a covenantal structure (with important clarifications here) which would bear the historic marks of the Anglican Communion we have been exploring and their important communiqué at the end of the Lambeth Conference reaffirmed their commitment to this initiative. They are clear they are not “leaving the Anglican Communion” as currently constituted and that they are still in full communion with the see of Canterbury. Nevertheless, they are in effect seeking to breathe new life into the historic vision of what the Anglican Communion is. If the current structures, including the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, cannot either lead or at least work constructively with such an initiative then they may well find themselves playing the part of old wineskins coming into contact with new wine.
And fourthly, and finally, the importance of “communion with the see of Canterbury” highlights the potentially great significance of decisions in the CofE over the next six months or so in relation to marriage and sexuality.
What Next for the Church of England?
The bishops will be bringing proposals to General Synod next year indicating what they see as the direction of travel for the CofE. At present it is not at all clear what that will look like and all options appear to bring with them major problems.
Back in 2007 the General Synod commended “continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion”. It also recognised that “such efforts would not be advanced by doing anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978: 10; 1988: 64; 1998: 1.10)”. If we are to continue that commitment then the Church’s current teaching and authorised liturgies and expectations on clergy cannot, I think, change to be more affirming of same-sex unions. Any such moves would undoubtedly be perceived by many within the CofE and the wider Communion as qualifying that commitment. They therefore risk “creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.” But not to make any changes after the long process of the Pilling Report, Shared Conversations, Living in Love and Faith will likewise clearly be totally unacceptable to a significant proportion of the church. It will also lead to major criticism from wider society which will be even more challenging in the likely context of renewed debates about establishment and the privileged status of the Church of England.
The statements of the Archbishop at the Lambeth Conference noted earlier and his approach to questions of disagreement and reconciliation more widely are perhaps pointers that he hopes it might be possible to make space for both traditional views and revisionist views within the Church of England and that to do so he will argue that these questions should not divide us, that they are adiaphora. There are, however, a number of major problems with this approach. To signal just a few:
- How wide a range of views and practices will become acceptable as within the bounds of CofE doctrine and practice? Will this, for example, extend as far as allowing same-sex marriages in churches and same-sex married clergy?
- What theological rationale can the bishops offer for such a change in their approach? Can there be any theological coherence or integrity in recognising and authorising contradictory beliefs within the church’s doctrine, liturgy and law?
- It will undoubtedly and rightly be made clear that, though clergy would now be permitted to perform services currently not permitted, no clergy would be compelled to officiate at a service celebrating a same-sex union. But will such clergy be able to refuse to host such a service in the church building and how will they be protected from social and perhaps legal pressure if they do refuse? Will they have to accept the oversight of bishops who embrace such developments? And what about bishops themselves who cannot accept such services being authorised under their episcopal authority?
These questions and the experience elsewhere in the Communion all signal that if we are to go down this path then there will indeed be real strains on our unity. That may lead to division but at the very least it will result in, as the Synod motion recognises, “impaired communion” and what the Global South Communiqué (6.7(f), p11) also called “degrees of communion”. We will therefore also need to consider quite radical structural changes within the Church of England in order to enable “visible differentiation” between those embracing different visions of God’s purposes and call to us in relation to these questions. The sort of changes with which the Anglican Communion has been wrestling for so long and which will also reach new levels should the CofE take this path.
The Communion’s recent history and the experience of this Lambeth Conference (with so many bishops absenting themselves and so many others aligning themselves with the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans) make clear that any shift which moves “the see of Canterbury” onto the trajectory of the North American, Scottish and Welsh churches risks inflecting the level of damage we have seen in the other three historic elements of the Anglican Communion to this fourth one of being a communion of churches defined as being “in communion with the see of Canterbury”.
Although these challenges now seem to be unavoidable, they have sadly been given little serious theological or political attention within the CofE. One group which has sought to wrestle with them in recent years has been CEEC – The Church of England Evangelical Council. A key document they have produced is entitled “Apostolic Faith and Life”.
Reflecting on the history of the Communion they note that
affirmation of non-apostolic teaching and behaviour necessarily ‘tears the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level’ (Primates’ Communiqué, Oct. 2003) and creates ‘significant distance’ (Primates’ Communiqué, Jan. 2016) between those who are following the apostles’ teaching and those departing from it.
Such consequences are inevitable they argue because – in words which contrast with those of the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth:
Such significant departure from apostolic teaching regrettably requires in response some degree of visible differentiation, in order formally to acknowledge and mark this distance. Moving away from ‘apostolic’ and ‘catholic’ teaching concerning what it means to be ‘holy’ will tragically mean we are less visibly ‘one’.
It is not clear what this might mean in terms of what might be next for the Church of England. The statement recognises that “the potential forms and extent of such differentiation are varied”. It importantly stresses that differentiation “must never lose sight of the goal of restored unity in apostolic truth” and that “we do not wish for this differentiation, but recognise that it may become a tragic necessity”. Nevertheless, it argues,
such acts of differentiation become a necessary component of biblical faithfulness if they are the only means to ensure the continued preservation of a cohesive ‘apostolic’ community, clearly defined and publicly distinguished by apostolic truth and thus able to offer a faithful and coherent witness to a confused and needy world.
A similar vision is, I think, expressed in the Global South communiqué issued at the end of the Lambeth Conference.
This is, clearly, a rather sobering note and so it is important not to end here but with a reminder that we began recognising all the good that God worked at the Lambeth Conference and with how “Apostolic Faith and Life” from the CEEC ends. It ends with Scripture and with a classic Anglican prayer. Paul writes in Ephesians 3 – “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever’ (Eph. 3:20-21). So, in that hope, we can pray together in faith the collect set for St Simon and St Jude at the end of this month:
Almighty God, who built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone:
so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF.
259 thoughts on “After Lambeth: what next for the Church of England?”
“But not to make any changes after the long process of the Pilling Report, Shared Conversations, Living in Love and Faith will likewise clearly be totally unacceptable to a significant proportion of the church”
Surprise surprise. What was billed as a neutral listening exercise becomes a ratcheting device towards heterodoxy, as was warned by many at the outset. All that can be said positively of lilaf is that it sets out clearly that the revisionists have a understanding of scripture divorced from the understanding of the historic church i.e. it is in error, probably seriously so, and needs to be kindly and gently corrected and rooted out from training institutions and diocesan bodies.
Theology, doctrine, scripture and a person’s discipleship in Christ can never be a ‘neutral’ matter. And what is the point of a prolonged neutral discussion anyway?
LLF was always a process of meeting across all differences to discern a way forward as a church. It is there, clear, in its literature. And Andrew is surely right. The life and mission of the church desperately needs this, and that is increasingly recognised on all sides.
But for what it is worth there are people on the ‘including’ side of this debate who also struggle to trust that LLF is not a slow, cynical attempt to close down down their place in the church. There are anxieties on all sides.
If there are ”sides” in the debate, rather than the situation being more nuanced, that alone is proof that at least some of the participants have not done sufficient thinking (as opposed to ideologising) to be yet involved in a debate. They are probably merely stating preferences. What on earth have preferences to do with a debate?
The published report on LLF is clear that there is an asymmetry in that LGBTQI people have endured suffering in a way that is not true of conservative evangelicals. Perhaps you agree with that – I don’t presume to know your view. However LLF is openly and consistently asymmetrical in its stance. It’s not neutral
The saintly Thomas Ken was a non-juror, not in communion with the ABC, but who is widely recognised as an Anglican.
Does he help us define who are Anglicans?
‘What was billed as a neutral listening exercise becomes a ratcheting device towards heterodoxy, as was warned by many at the outset.’
Yes indeed. The very existence of LLF carried with it the implication that at least some change must result, or the whole project would be a massive waste of time and money and no small embarrassment. And this is why those who are opposed to change should have refused to participate – Pilling and the ‘shared conversations’ should have been the end of the matter, and not a moment too soon. By allowing themselves to be lured onto the enemy’s turf, the principle that at least some change could/should happen was conceded and the LLF project was validated.
Be that as it may, the archbishops’ kicking of the can down the road is approaching its endpoint: there is no more road.
Smith Wigglesworth told the story of the woman who at first timidly told her dog to go home (s/he didn’t) and then more firmly (s/he did). As a model for how we are to speak to Satan. A spirit of weakness is everywhere in the sorry story of the C of E’s conduct here – but emasculation was ever a/the central aim of the sexual revolution.
One lengthy response, so I will not post anything else on this page, but I do want to treat Andrew’s article seriously, so please bear with me for my detailed engagement.
Andrew continues to yearn for the Anglican Covenant, now focussing on its Global South re-iteration. But the Covenant is unrealisable in England and frankly dead in the water.
The Covenant itself, of course, was designed to centralise authority over provinces, so that each province’s autonomy was conditional on submission to the central doctrinal authority of the Communion. But again, that’s unreality and unrealisable here, because the Church of England is not going to revert to some sort of Nigerian understanding of human sexuality. Our societies, and range of theologies, have been diverging.
Each province determines its own journey, and at the same time tries to share journey with other provinces on as many issues as possible, but that is not always possible.
So the Covenant concept, with its emphasis on central authority, is dead in the Church of England.
Andrew then turns more specifically to the C of E as it heads on from LLF. And I commend his statement and recognition of reality on the ground:
“But not to make any changes after the long process of the Pilling Report, Shared Conversations, Living in Love and Faith will likewise clearly be totally unacceptable to a significant proportion of the church. It will also lead to major criticism from wider society which will be even more challenging in the likely context of renewed debates about establishment and the privileged status of the Church of England.”
I respect that honesty.
As Andrew notes, Justin has insinuated the prospect of accommodating two different theologies, on the basis of respect for conscience, and the reality that half the Church of England’s members no longer believe in Lambeth 1998 I:10.
He asks: Will clergy be able to refuse to host gay-affirming services in their church buildings? Answer: probably no, because the Church of England is the Established National Church, and people in any parish nationwide should have access in their own parish to be blessed, affirmed, as the Church permits, even if it has to be done by a visiting priest. Priests own their own consciences, they do not own the church buildings.
Andrew warns about ‘real strains on our unity’ if we go down the ‘Unity in Diversity’ pathway. There are already real strains on out unity because of 1998 I:10. To do nothing, and just impose I:10 on so many church members, will just drive schism. It is pastorally unsustainable. The imposition of the old status quo on half the C of E’s consciences is now frankly a pastoral impossibility, That train has left the station, and won’t come back.
Most people in parishes across the land focus not on sexuality but on many other areas of pastoral care: of the elderly, the sick, the lonely, the depressed, the poor, the marginalised. the bereaved, and on life together and alongside people in the communities beyond church walls. All those vast other areas of compassion. There are a huge number of acts of devotion we can do, in response to God’s Love, which give us commonality.
‘Unity in Diversity’ allows people with divergent views on sex to continue living according to their consciences, without throwing the baby (the wider pastoral services and shared convictions, not to mention the many shared aspirations and goodwill recognised at Lambeth) out with the bath water.
If a fringe (at either polarity of the sexuality debate… there are ‘liberals’ who want an absolute ban on priests who preach gay sex is wrong… they are a minority also espousing unattainable outcomes) chooses to be intransigent in the sexuality issue, and accommodation of divergent consciences, then some individuals may leave (because they insist their view must be imposed on everyone else). It is not desirable, and it would be sad. But for the clear majority of parishioners, sex is not a make or break issue, and parish life will carry on and they will not leave. They will stay the course in the updated church, and live and let live, because the large majority in the centre are less polarised, and not focussed on sex alone.
I think Andrew realises he is arguing a rearguard battle here in England, though I respect his intelligence and right to disagree with gay sex, albeit within a future church that may accommodate other people’s consciences as well as his own.
Susannah, which of the following are you proposing?
(a) That you have it in your power to decide that certain issues are privileged issues which allow unity with diversity, while it is certain that others are not, otherwise church-members could think anything about anything.
(b) That church-members *can* think anything about anything
(c) That the entire church, including all the saints, up till around 1980 were not only wrong but totally wrong, 180 degrees
(d) That their successors are far wiser
(e) That popular vote and/or social pressure or change is how Christian things should be decided.
(f) That the issue is something called ‘sex’ or ‘sexuality’ rather than homosexual sex or homosexual marriage.
(g) That ‘sex’ is one single issue.
(h) That ‘sexuality’ is one single issue.
The only train that has left the station is social fashion. What on earth has that to do with the people of God?
Rereading the last four paragraphs of your message and substituting the word “scripture” for the words “sex” and “sexuality” gives food for thought.
For clarity, that was in reply to Susannah… not Christopher
Isn’t that called ‘literally’ ‘putting words in someone’s mouth’?
‘ .. and the reality that half the Church of England’s members no longer believe in Lambeth 1998 I:10.’
And your evidence for that statement is?
THanks Susannah for your comment – just to clarify a couple of things. I can see how in one sense I might “yearn for the Anglican Covenant” but (a) I do actually say “that particular path is now pretty firmly blocked” and (b) I really do not view it as centralising – provinces would have continued with exactly the autonomy they have currently, no need for an extra layer of central approval – but rather providing an agreed structure to enable better corporate discernment and decision-making in relation to the internal life of the Communion when autonomy is used in ways that disrupt that life. That is much better than the chaotic processes we have seen over the last 20 years or so and are now likely to continue, particularly if the CofE follows the path you commend. I think what I “yearn for” is that we might return to “common faith and order” and basically to that being the historic common faith and order which the Covenant sought to give expression to but that now appears to have been lost. Interested if you would share that latter assessment that we no longer have that common faith and order and if so whether/how there is any way of rediscovering a common faith and order given the divergent views.
Thank you Andrew. I said I would not post further, but this is your article and I am happy to engage with you, providing Ian is alright with that.
I believe you are my brother. I believe we have a common faith in God, as set out in the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. Within that commonality, there will always be differing views and theological positions within the Church, but we are Christians, we can still love one another, we are family. Divergent views may arise (and have). We don’t have to dominate one another’s views. Accommodation of various views is arguably part of the DNA of the Church of England, and even a grace, in that it draws together people who then need God’s grace and love to interact with each other. I’m proud that our Church is like that, and not a narrow-minded puritan/fundamentalist sect.
The Church of England, in parish after parish, up and down the land, finds much convergence of faith in the creeds, and pastoral care in the community, and in the context of that essential commonality there can be different views on a whole range of things between what kind of programmes you enjoy on TV, to what kind of music you like in Church, or whether you favour one view on sex or another.
We are still brothers and sisters as Christians, and we should be tolerant with each other, and respect conscience may differ on some things, but not on the amazing Love of God as outlined in the Creeds. We don’t need to bolt on extra terms and conditions to the creeds, in order to exclude people we don’t agree with, or to impose our conscience on other people. There is room in the Church for different theological views, and their accommodation within the broad framework of the Creeds.
The Covenant was indeed going to subvert provincial autonomy (as I suspect the GS covenantal thinking will) by imposing uniformity of theology (beyond the Creeds) and sanctioning, marginalising, distancing, or kicking out provinces who have prayerfully discerned differently on an issue like sex. The Covenant was never a benign protector of autonomy. Rather, it was saying, ‘we want to tag on extra conditions to the Creeds and keep the theological parameters narrower’.
I like that you read things realistically. I put it to you that the realpolitik of the Church of England, where the Church is divided roughly down the middle on the issue of sexuality, allows only for ‘both/and’… not ‘either/or’.
It is the either/or mentality which has contributed to the ‘chaos’ you mention over the past 20 years. Politically, it’s unworkable. It can’t be realised. We need to accommodate BOTH serious theologies, with a real commitment to protect the consciences of both groups. I think you are a sufficient realist to know that’s the way the Church of England is inclining. And then… maybe we can set aside the chaos of the ‘absolutists’ at the perimeter on both sides, and get on with ALL the other pastoral work and service which is so badly needed, and very much the heart of our calling to those Creeds.
Please understand that I ‘see’ the clarity of your analyses, and respect your voice as a very useful expression of a socially conservative position in a Church of England. I wish you well in our continuing Church, and pray grace for all of us, because in the context of ‘both/and’ the question is not ‘which is right’ but ‘can we love one another, even with our differences?’
And there is the opening for grace, and also for exchange of insights. The Church of England is a patchwork quilt of traditions, forms of worship, social views… but it’s founded on the Creed, and through ‘new birth’ on the ‘power and love and a sound mind’ which the Holy Spirit gives us through grace.
Not all minds are identical, but God draws us into relationship, with all our differences. Indeed community is always like that… trying to find grace to work and co-exist and love with others different to ourselves (ask anyone who has been called to live in community in a monastic setting).
This is my last comment unless you have further questions, but I’d prefer at this point to leave things, to allow others to be heard. Thank you again. Susannah
It is helpful that Andrew has recognised that the proposed Covenant for the Anglican Communion is now dead in the water. It was always just a bit of ideology that was going to be rejected not just by the CofE but by other Provinces as well.
The Global South might indeed propose a Covenant of their own. That’s fine. But: a; The Global South is by no means uniform on the matter of sexuality and b; There is also a Global North.
It is also helpful that Andrew recognises that this is not primarily about human sexuality. There is a new kind of Puritanism in the Anglican Communion that wants to assert a form of Protestant authority that has never been what the Anglican Communion was about. It’s another ideology that needs to be called out.
Archbishop Justin has recognised that there are two approaches to the matter of human sexuality that have both been arrived at by study and prayer. The CofE now has the chance to model how both/and can work in a way that either/or never will. Both/and is in fact the only Anglican Covenant we have ever had.
Andrew – a question for you – how much of your own job involves pastoral work, where you deal with people who think they have fallen apart in some way (and are looking for pastoral assistance)?
I’m wondering the extent to which your contributions to these pages are made on a ‘theoretical’ level and the extent to which they are informed by live experience.
Hi Jock – not sure if this question is to me as author or Andrew Godsall as commenter. Not sure how to measure “how much” but I’m very involved in parish ministry in London in a place where quite a lot of people would I think fit your descriptor “think they have fallen apart in some way and are looking for pastoral assistance” and I hope that informs stuff I write as well as my more academic/theoretical work. Hope that helps.
The only form of authority in the Anglican communion is the scriptures. As I note above, at least LLF has exposed the essential truth behind revisionist readings of the Bible: they all reject the authority of scripture to speak on matters of Christian sexual conduct.
Can I ask who ‘they’ are in your assertion? And please give some actual evidence for your claim that people like me hold affirming views by rejecting the authority of scripture. Thanks.
The phrase ‘affirming views’ is utterly meaningless English.
‘They’ is quite clearly attached to the only plural in the preceding sentance: ‘revisionist readings’, all of which either reject the plain sense of scripture, read it at odds with other bits of scripture, or deny the authority of scripture (prefering instead the authority of human experience and discernment).
You are welcome to hold any of these views (and I haven’t come across in all my listening and reading a revisionist position which dosn’t hold one of them), but you are not welcome to do so in Christ’s Church.
“The only form of authority in the Anglican communion is the scriptures.“
This is the Puritan approach that I noted in my comment above. One only has to read basic accounts of what the Puritans wanted to achieve in the 16th and 17th C to note that the same goals are evident in some parts of the CofE and Anglicanism today. It’s a strand that will always be there but it is not central.
It’s what the Church of England canons say (A 5), and it’s inherent in the 39 articles. (VI and XX in particular). Particularly the later have always been held to be a normative part of Anglicanism.
Yes, scripture is our central authority, but it an authority we must interpret faithfully if we are to understand how to obey it. This is a familiar summary: ‘Anglicans affirm the sovereign authority of the Holy Scriptures as the medium through which God by the Spirit communicates his word in the Church. The Scriptures are the “uniquely inspired witness to divine revelation, and the primary norm for Christian faith and life”. The Scriptures must be translated, read and understood, and their meaning grasped through a continuing process of interpretation …’ The Virginia Report (Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission) cited in The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality ed Philip Groves, (SPCK, 2008), p84.
It isn’t quite what the Canons say. Canon A5 states that
“The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, ”
Absolutely. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t founded in other places or, crucially, that the Scriptures can not be interpreted in different ways .
‘The Scriptures’ can be interpreted in different ways?
(1) How does this not depend on the passage in question?
(2) There are passages for which this hold true. How many of these can be interpreted in *widely* different ways?
(3) There are a handful even of those. So what statistically are the chances of so-called 6 clobber verses/passages (a vanishingly small proportion of scripture) being among them?
(4) For these, the idea is not that the interpretations are widely different, but that they are seriously contradictory.
(5) One would conceivably take that more seriously if the new interpretation on the block were not suspiciously identical to what modern metrosexual people might wish….
The way ‘interpretation’ is misused these days gives no credit to the integrity of the misusers. Any interpretation worth the name has to be grounded in knowledge of culture and language (with historical and literary knowledge a bonus). In other words, there will never be any reason to listen to ‘interpretations’ from non-specialists (even though they will sometimes be very insightful) IF there is already a large bank of specialist interpretations.
I think you are missing the point here Christopher. Thomas claimed that “The only form of authority in the Anglican communion is the scriptures.”. That clearly isn’t quite the case.
Thomas backs up his claim by saying that the Canons of the C of E assert that point. They don’t. And even if they did, the C of E is not the Anglican Communion.
And what I said was “It doesn’t mean that ….the Scriptures can not be interpreted in different ways .”
Of course that’s a rather general point, as you adequately demonstrate. But it’s still true.
And when it comes to a biblical view of marriage, there isn’t a consistent one. And marriage in the ANE was nothing like marriage in the 21st Century West.
The answers to your questions though are:
1. It does
2. Quite a few
3. Statistics don’t really apply. The texts which you refer to are particular to particular situations and cultures so need to be interpreted through such lenses.
4. See 3 above
5. You would need to define several things first, not least what you mean by metrosexual.
I don not know why people think there has been a shift in interpretation of the passages in question. Most of the thinking on these went in pre-1980, and is contained in the commentaries.
Just think what a proportion of the attempts to twist the meaning have come from those who either identify as homosexual or who have children etc who do. And of the dishonesty this implies.
We will not debate something that does not require debate. And that means that nonexperts must convince us that they should be heard as much as experts are heard. That is not at all likely to happen. And why on this topic in particular?
There are however knockdown exegetical arguments. I do not know why people focus on exegesis more than on biology and sociology, but if they are going to do that, they must be able to hold their own. All they need to do is state exegetically wherein the passages in question do not say what they have previously been translated as saying, and then we will address those arguments.
Those incapable of exegesis in any detail are not part of the debate, and lose it.
Christopher: you seem incapable of addressing the point here, which is to do with scripture, authority and the Anglican Communion.
So you think that discussions of the authority of scripture and of Anglicanism should operate quite separately from expert opinion?
Christopher I think expert opinion on whether scripture is the only authority in the Anglican Communion – which is what Thomas Pelham claimed – is of utmost importance. The claim is clearly wrong, as I demonstrated, with evidence, in my reply.
For other expert opinion about authority in the Anglican Communion I can recommend two books. One by Robert Runcie when he was Archbishop. It’s short but a triumph. The other is a collection of essays called Anglicanism: the answer to modernity. Edited by Duncan Dormer and Jeremy Caddick. It has a wider perspective but contains a group of expert opinions on the matter.
But I’m sure we know those two books already. Surely you are not an Anglican-fundamentalist, one who thinks the Anglican perspective[s] to be infallible?
Secondly, I have never met anyone, Anglican or otherwise, who does not agree that we should go with the best possible exegesis.
Your assertion ‘the Scriptures can…be interpreted in different ways’ is vague to the point of meaninglessness. *Which* Scriptures? But even when we have recovered from that…Some of those different ways might involve demonstrably faulty exegesis. Some might be selfcontradictory. Some might show insufficient knowledge of the culture and/or language. If different is the same thing as equally good, then my different cricketing skills are equally good to Jonny Bairstow’s.
“But I’m sure we know those two books already.”
Who is the ‘we’ in this sentence Christopher? Have you read them?
The question we are debating is whether scripture is the *only* authority for the Anglican Communion. Those books provide expert opinion on sources of authority.
You want to shift the debate to something else, which is not a way forward.
No I want to debunk the decontextualisation you are engaging in. It looks like you are proposing an ideological unquestionable Anglicanism which (worse) is, conveniently, hermetically sealed off from the scrutiny of scholarship.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I am all for expert scholarship, and I’ve commended two books that you haven’t read so we can’t go any further.
I am engaging with the question Thomas raised. You don’t seem to be able to so we will need to leave it there.
Knowing in detail what Anglicanism is (via Sykes, Neill, Runcie and the sillier volume of 20 years ago) is not worth much unless we know how Anglicanism (itself a moving target…) stands up against other options. By using it as a starting point (i.e. a decontextualised conclusion), you skew the discussion. You have already decided that the conclusion is an Anglican one (maybe because that is what you personally are familiar with, which means you are still at base 1), without ever having begun to investigate how competing options stack up. A conclusion that foregoes the entire preceding discussion is no conclusion, just a hopeful shortcut from A to Z.
Christopher you make one sensible point here and I can’t think of anyone who would disagree with you.
But you still ignore the principle point which is addressing the claim made by Thomas Pelham. His claim is that the *only* authority that Anglicanism knows is scripture. That clearly is just not true. The Canons don’t make that claim and neither do the 39 Articles and even then, that would only apply to the C of E and not the whole of the Anglican Communion.
The excellent works of Neill, Sykes, Runcie, Dormer, Caddick etc explore what it is that is distinctive about Anglican authority. And in part they do so with reference to the other options available, which of course any reputable scholar must. Who has ever suggested they shouldn’t?
Thank you for you article as always Andrew.
If you will permit me an aside, fellow commentators may be interested to know that the Baptist Union continues it’s own wrestling over the issue of SSM marriage, and there has been (to my perception) a major step-change over the last few months.
Though under the Declaration of Principle churches in the Union have been free to register and conduct SSM for nearly a decade now, the bar to accreditation for those in a same-sex relationship has remained, and continues to be a major thorn in the flesh of our unity. Recent developments have seen Baptist Council discuss the issue, and groups have been to crystalise around the two principle positions.
Though we may be estranged in matters of ecclesiology, navigating these debates is something in which we are all family, and I urge the CofE as central to these debates to remember that it is not an Island.
Thanks for that link Mat and update on Baptist Union – had privilege of speaking at event earlier this year for Fresh Streams and so got a bit of a sense of the renewed debates around accreditation. I agree that we need to try to learn from each other across our different denominations and church structures as we all seek to work out how to do as much as we can to maintain unity and uphold our theological principles in the face of incompatible perspectives threatening to divide our churches at various levels. Prayers for you and others as you navigate this within the Baptist Union (which I had mistakenly thought had avoided some of these challenges due to the freedom of the local congregation and not having the challenge of episcopal oversight) and do let’s keep talking together.
“..had privilege of speaking at event earlier this year for Fresh Streams…”
I saw you were on the panel for an event, but sadly personal circumstance made me unable to attend. Fresh Streams is doing a fine job of enabling conversation, and seems intent to continue doing so, despite the seemingly increased urgency of what’s put before Baptist Council.I hope you get a repeat invite. 😉
“I had mistakenly thought (the BU) had avoided some of these challenges due to the freedom of the local congregation and not having the challenge of episcopal oversight.”
Yes, this is the complexity. While the Baptist Union doesn’t have ‘episcopal oversight’, and churches have been free to decide their own path in relation to what they register their building for, it does still have oversight of other things vital to the functioning of our union, one of which is the role of accrediting body for Baptist ministers. As a professional body it has power to hold people to the agreed standards for the role, and right now that excludes Same-sex relationships.
The problem we’ve created therefore is that a church in the Baptist Union can call a minister affirming of SSM marriage, change their constitution (if required) to allow the building to register for that purpose, and appoint and train a member of the church to act as the designated witness*, but that minister themselves cannot be in a SSM and remain accredited, even though they may still be called and appointed to ministry in that church.
In other words, there are different standards for Ministers than for churches, and this has created issues. Baptist Council, which is broadly an equivalent of Synod, is the body that can change these rules, and that is why they’ve been discussing it.
The fact that virtually all Christian denominations are wrestling with the same issue at the very time when this issue has gripped and largely captivated the secular world strongly suggests that churches are responding to secular pressure rather than a Spirit led movement to correct a 2000 year error in Christian thinking. If you look around at the social state of Western countries it’s anything but a rosy picture, and one could be forgiven for thinking that now is a particularly unfortunate time to look to them for guidance on what makes for human flourishing, let alone the voice of God saying he’s teaching us a new thing.
Is not this problem (knowing how to remain faithful when under pressure from secular influencers) supposed to be handled by returning to scripture rather than attempting to foster a kind of unity which depends on not resolving a difference even though both sides cannot simultaneously be right (the Justin solution)?
Take the pain of sorting out the doctrine, and the unity will sort itself out; but of course sorting out the doctrine gives the ‘wrong’ answer for some. It’s an endless circle. I wonder who the ringmaster is…
You are not wrong. But the problem for a lot of people involved in the discussion seems to be a good deal less about doctrine and scripture, even tangenitially, and more about the fundamental structure of our union… “Who are they to tell us what we can and can’t do”.
Why argue about the scriptural merits for X/Y when there’s mud to sling at the institution. 😉
As the late Geoffrey Kirk said, they are “following the zeitgeist, but at a respectable distance.”
A fitting epitaph.
Readers of New Directions, of which I have been one, knew just how amusing Geoffrey Kirk could be.
In trying to be balanced and keep as many people in the room as possible, I think ++Justin is off the mark when he says that there has been an equal process of genuine study and prayerfulness on the part of revisionists to those holding to the traditional way of reading Scripture. As someone who has spent years on this debate with revisionists, including ‘shared conversations’ and ‘LLF’, I know that this is not the case. Some may say they hold to the bible’s authority but they don’t, when you see how they discount themes and passages which they don’t like and twist Scripture in the most bizarre ways. Their prayer is not ‘Your will be done’ but ‘Our will be done.
Typically, not the slightest actual Bible study has gone in. The difference between Evangelical, Catholic and liberal Bible knowledge is astounding, and has been for generations.
But this is compounded by the lack of anything other than transient present culture, as though that is all there ever was or could be.
But far worse than any of that even – is the lack of knowledge of the relevant statistics for homosexual practice, i.e. of the realities.
What is, *the authority of scripture*?
It is determined by what scripture is?
Here we go again on the CoE carousel of normative and studiously practiced, befuddled, defocussed, ambiguation.
Inheritance sold of a mess of pottage?
And maybe the CoE could be renamed, the Church of Esau (Continuing).
I wonder if I may make a few observations from afar (New Zealand)?
First, as a bishop present at Lambeth 2022, I think Andrew Goddard is well informed about the conference. I would myself want to emphasise the willingness of those who did gather to live with difference and to continue to gather as and when future occasions arise for the Communion.
Secondly, that the bishops might not yet be in a position to offer the counsel of conferences from 1867 to 1998 is largely down to one issue; but, when we survey the global scene, including the reference above to the English Baptist church, and noting public differences in the Roman Catholic church, there seems to be a general challenge for global Christianity to find a way forward. Should Anglican bishops be marked too hard for this current hiatus in providing counsel? Is the Communion out of step with global Chrisianity?
Thirdly, can we really be so confident (per Andrew Goddard’s post and some comments above) that any changes re homosexuality are an “error” measured against 2000 years of thinking differently? For almost the same length of time we assumed we knew the truth of ordained ministry, that it was ordered by God to be the domain of men. Then society changed, we looked at women in our church differently (and, for some of us, we also experienced charismatic renewal from within the church, and realised the Spirit gifted women and men), and found within ourselves the ability to revise our assumptions re ministry. Yes, society is changing re homosexuality and we worry about giving in to “social fashion”; but are we not also being prompted to look again within ourselves and to wonder whether our gay brothers and sisters in Christ when coupled together might be revaluated against what we have assumed for 2000 years – 2000 years of those brothers and sisters living in silence, if not in fear, and only now emboldened to be who they are? Might we ask – what is conspicuously not asked above – whether apostolicity and orthodoxy might be re-worked so as to include rather than exclude, so as to find a way to move forward together rather than to divide? Again, and again, we should be asking why divide or threaten to divide: we have not divided over ordaining women, we have not divided over re-working our response to divorce and remarriage, why invoke dark clouds of division on this matter?
Fourthly, it is possible to live with difference as Anglicans! On some recent matters in my diocese (nothing to do with sexuality; e.g. “Vax” v “anti-vax”) I have found myself underlining to those at odds with each other, to be Anglican is to live with difference. But, on the particular matter of homosexuality, over which some left our church in 2018, after a General Synod decision to permit SSB for civil marriages, we are finding that we can live with difference – respectfully, carefully, fruitfully. It is, incidentally, a great relief since 2018 to NOT have further debates in our diocesan synods; and General Synod later this month is looking most peacful!
Ian Paul has written clearly and concisely on the difference and distinctinction between ordination and marriage
There is no scriptural equivalence, direct or indirect.
And it is a clear and obvious, undeniable, irrefutable, unbridgeable, error of category.
And round and round it goes.
Geoff – you are right, Peter Carrell has made a clear category error in mixing up sexual ethics with the matter of the sex (“gender” in popular parlance) of ministers.
Evangelicals may argue over whether women are called by God to pastoral leadership of congregations (and through most of history they have concluded that Scripture says no), but all agree – from Scripture -that some women are indeed called to at least some kinds of spiritual ministry of teaching, prophecy and counsel. The only question is how far that ministry should extend, whether the Holy Spirit is calling women to spiritual authority over men. (It is a somewhat different matter for Catholics and the Orthidox who see ministry as a representative sacramental matter in which the sex of the minister is not irrelevant. )
Ordination and marriage are two different things and should not be confused in discussion.
Peter Carrell – your General Synod may be looking peaceful but is that not at least in part because some lively and comparatively youthful evangelical parishes, including several from your diocese of Christchurch, departed to form the Confessing Anglicans of Aotearoa New Zealand under Bishop Jay Behan?
So it’s a bit like The Episcopal Church of the Unired States – the orthodox departed to form ACNA, leaving TEC to continue in inexorable liberalism (bishops in same-sex “marriages”, aging congregations, closures of parishes all over the country – just as we see among the Anglicans in Wales and Scotland). Are you not on the same trajectory?
I imagine it was a bit easier for evangelicals to depart your diocese because the 2011 earthquake caused so much damage to church buildings in Christchurch. Would you have been happy to allow other evangelical parishes to depart from your diocese for the new Anglican body and take their property with them? I imagine your answer would be no. There are big sacrifices in Gospel faithfulness, and understandably many congregations don’t want to lose the buildings they have paid and cared for over many years.
Perhaps the truth is that some evangelical parishes – like St Christopher’s Avonhead, St Timothy’s Burnside or Sumner-Redcliffs – just don’t want a property fight they might lose?
Would you let them go with their buildings?
Some (many?) like me think that the ordination of women was a mistake. See my view in Fulcrum website Phil Almond August 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm at
and to approve same-sex partnerships would be another mistake. Both these mistakes are essentially the same.
There is a remarkable constellation of interrelated pictures in the Bible on the analogy between marriage and the relationship between God and his people. Francis Schaeffer says somewhere to the effect that these are surely pictures that we would not dare use if God himself did not use them.
The sad connection between homosexuality and the ordination of women is that they both, in different ways, shatter this constellation: homosexuality by denying the essential male/female asymmetry of the sexual act and the sexual attraction which precedes it; the ordination of women by the failure to model in the Church’s ministry the way the human race was created, and by the denial that the essential asymmetry in the husband-wife relationship involves the wife submitting to her husband as the Church submits to Christ.
We’ll have to agree to disagree, Phil. I do not believe God created women to submit to men.
Have you read my article in fulcrum? If so why don’t you reply to the points I make in it?
Because he has others things to do? And because this ground has already been well covered? The two cases are not at all comparable.
‘Both these mistakes are essentially the same.’
No, they clearly are not. See my article ‘Unhitching women from gays’
I don’t imagine that an Ian Paul writing in 1822 would make the distinction between ordination and marriage that Ian Paul in 2022 makes, so it is reasonable to assume that some changes in society, and the emergence of voices of women in the life of the church have made a difference so that ordination has been reconsidered.
The question which links ordination and marriage is whether we will listen to the voices of those in our churches and whether what is voiced leads to a new look at what Scripture says.
In the case of homosexuality, Scripture offers a blanket ban via “six verses” but what is banned when 1 Timothy place homosexuals in a list with murderers and slave traders? Are couples in permanent, loving relationships deemed still to be on such a list? Do the six verses actually address what is now possible in our Western societies via civil marriage laws? Does a continuing blanket ban, charges here about getting categories correct and so forth persuade Anglican families who love and care for their same sex partnered children/siblings that the church has no need, none at all to think again?
James: no, we are not on the same trajectory.
This remains fallacy, an error of category. Thanks for the confirmation of studious and repetitive avoidance of the revisionist postmodernist position and relating to sin and morality and scripture.
On and on and on it goes, round and round, on a Peter (Carousel?). Just how often has this to be *discussed* the same points again and again?
Peter Carrell- would you be happy for St Christopher’s Avonhead, St Timothy’s Burnside, Sumner-Redcliffs and other parishes to leave your diocese with their properties and continue to do the Lord’s work in the Confessing Anglican fellowship or would you fight to hold on to the buildings?
Do you recognise CCANZ as a true Anglican church?
I think you are mistaken here Peter. Scripture does not offer a ‘blanket ban via six verses’; it repeatedly, consistently, and emphatically depicts marriage as the union of difference, between a man and a woman, in defiance of the variety of understandings in its surrounding culture. The ‘six verses’ are merely the specific points of contact between that consistent vision and the specific question of same-sex sex when it arises—which is not very often since, like Sabbath observance, food laws, and circumcision, this was a key distinctive of Jews in the ancient world.
By focussing on the qualities of ‘loving and faithful’, you are focussing on the interior goods of marriage, but at the same time abandoning the exterior goods of marriage, which is male-female union that is structurally tied to procreation. In that sense, your claim is ‘gnostic’, abandoning Scripture’s consistent commitment to the importance of bodily form. It is through the body of Jesus that our bodies are redeemed that we might be bodily resurrected to live in a new creation. Your focus on the interior life only, lets go of this major scriptural and theological theme.
All these questions are explored very thoroughly in Darrin Snyder Belousek’s ‘Marriage, Scripture and the Church’; I sincerely hope you will read it as soon as you can, as you will find answers to the questions that you ask here.
It is not for no reason that the Western churches which have abandoned the biblical vision of marriage are the ones which are declining the fastest. I for one do not wish the Church of England to join them.
In one biblical vision of marriage God adopts a child, neglects her until she is pubescent, then rapes her before adorning her with clothes and jewels. She has no agency. After she is unfaithful God incites her lovers to torture and abuse her.
The Bible is not univocal about marriage, even where God, not sinful ‘man’, is the protagonist. To pretend it is is revisionist.
If you think that the wooden literalism you offer here is a good way to think about *any* issue the Bible explores…well, I don’t really know what to say. It is a very odd way to approach texts.
If I might add a comment that there are significant differences between the issue of women in ministry and same-sex sexual relations. The late Dick France in an article perhaps 15 years ago expressed succinctly in saying that while Scripture is clear on the latter, there is significant ambiguity about the former. An excellent talk I heard online from Simon Ponsonby suggested that if our starting point on the subject of women in ministry was Romans 16, we would have a different view. One might even suggest that the supression of women in ministry in the post-apostolic church was the result of taking into the church the patriarchy of the surrounding culture.
A broken egg can not be rturn to its shell.
Peter Carrell errs in claiming that the Bible’s opposition to homosexuality consists only of “six texts” – as if the number of texts in itself was important.
Perer also completely fails to consider how the Bible positively treats of marriage and what our Lord Jesus Christ says marriage is.
And Peter fails to consider what the Bible says positively about our creation as male and female, how males and females are meant to relate to each other.
He fails also to consider what the complementary design of our bodies says about the nature and purpose of sex acts.
Peter suggests the Bible knows nothing about “committed loving relationships”. This is nonsense – homosexual relationships were widely known in the Greco-Roman world and Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 6 to those who were formerly in such relationships.
So it is very misleading of Peter to present the Bible in this light.
Peter is rightly concerned for the emotional wellbeing of people with SSA and their relationship to Anglican parents and siblings. Of course the matter is extraordinarily painful. But whenever was following Christ an easy matter?
Peter: think again about what the Scriptures really say.
If you can actually direct your questions in conversation rather than referring to someone in the third person, and if you can stick with facts and arguments, it will make the conversation productive.
I am always thinking about Scripture.
I have said nothing about marriage between a man and a woman because, apart from some uncertainty re Scripture on (re)marriage and divorce and modern life, I am committed to what Scripture says about marriage: it is a good thing, it is intended for life, etc.
My concern is whether we are properly engaged with pastoral response to same sex couples.
No one in recent comments is prepared to follow my thinking – I will leave the matter alone.
Re parishes hereabouts, I think if you want to talk to any of them about where they are at, you should do so. It’s hardly appropriate to discuss such matters on a comment thread on a public blog.
I do not understand how one can claim to be Anglican and not be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and in communion with the provinces which make up the Anglican Communion. Historical connection to Canterbury, lived from past through present and into the future is critical to being Anglican.
I acknowledge that views on what being Anglican means are debated and many would disagree with me.
Bishop Peter – ‘I am always thinking about Scripture’. Thank you for your faithful witness to this. (though not all of us here ever presumed otherwise!). Thank you too for what you have offered to this thread. You have brought an informed and gracious width to the discussion and I too regret that your contributions have not been engaged with – and the tone in which you have been addressed at times. I also share your views on Lambeth, which will remain for me, one of the most profound and challenging experiences of Christian Church I have ever experienced. Not all here may be aware that the New Zealand church has been on its own careful journey towards the vision of gospel inclusion (a vision much broader than questions of human sexuality). I have gained much from following this and have long felt we English churches have much to learn from you at this point. Grateful thanks again.
If Anglicanism can be described as a Commonwealth, it is on its way out, jettisoned from its moorings, cut from its roots, form without substance, title deeds torn up and burned in bonfire of humanistic hubris: an abandoned dance to man made, – the golden calf. Replacement – Self- worship- Idolatry of the sexual hydra type. Ichabod. Tenured entrance; occupation through, * vacant possession*.
Thanks David for your kind comments.
Hi Ian, I missed your comment when replying above. Isn’t the challenge when seeking to hear the voice of homosexuals what our response might be that isn’t “gnostic”? Can we not put our brains together – you have a brilliantly incisive one – and come up with something more helpful than what you say above?
I completely agree: marriage as discussed in Scripture is about the union of difference, etc. But affirming that, supporting that leaves another group of people, with bodies, not intent on being gnostic, wondering how they might live when celibacy seems not an option. Is it really gnostic to affirm that people who cannot marry might nevertheless commit themselves to each other in a lifelong partnership?
My challenge to you, with your wonderful brain power is, how about working on finding a way to live with different views on these matters and to respect different views within the one church? Invoking charges of gnosticism against those you disagree with is not the answer to that question.
‘Different views’ can only be partial views attained through attention to a minority of the available evidence and reasoning. So the solution is to do more study and thinking. And to be self critical about cultural and personal biases.
The mistake is clearly that you see ‘views’ as conclusions rather than something more provisional, which is what they are. While this mistake is persisted with, no progress can be made.
Secondly some will have more research behind them than others. So it is a more simple matter than it may seem – restrict oneself to those writers who have done most research and thinking.
“So the solution is to do more study and thinking. And to be self critical about cultural and personal biases”
That is exactly what the LLF process has been about of course. And still people will come to different conclusions. The word views is shorthand for that.
The cultural and personal biases can be hard to escape of course. But Archbishop Justin notes quite clearly that different conclusions have been reached after quite careful study and thought and prayer. There is no way round that but to offer a both/and approach as we do concerning the ordination of women and marriage after divorce.
Untrue. Largely absent from LLF – which laughably claimed to be comprehensive – are data on very many of the most basic and central possible considerations of all. (Among men who sleep with other men: life expectancy, rate of unsafe acts, promiscuity rate, STI rate; correlation of claims to homosexual identity with lesbian parenting, town dwelling [for men], university [for women], earlier molestation, amenable cultures, existing norms and narratives, the meltingpot of adolescence – and so on.) This is ”because” it is not PC or woke or something stupid like that, or doesn’t fit the approved media/political narrative but (as we have seen in South Yorkshire etc etc) PC/woke kills.
Anyway what needs to be shouted from the rooftops is:
Where is Abp’s evidence for the study and prayer in question. What is he claiming? – it seems very vague. Is he saying that all individuals who claim a viable conclusion have engaged in study and prayer? Many have engaged in neither, in the real world. Is he claiming that some, somewhere have? If so, his generalisation does not hold. So either way it does not hold. If there had been a scholarly volte face of such extraordinary proportions, how could it have happened without scholars noticing it?
No, he is saying that of the two major opposing positions that were present and pressing at Lambeth there is represented within those positions considerable thought, study, prayer and reflection.
We know he is saying that. Did you think we didn’t know that that is what his words mean?!
The question I asked was a very different one. Where is his evidence for the study done by the culturally-conformist bishops in question? And secondly, where is the evidence for their prayer – as though they have somehow begun by being undecided on the matter and submitted it to the Lord?
Christopher: well if you knew what he was saying you didn’t quite make that clear.
If you doubt that he has evidence, then I think you could ask him rather than simply ranting.
It is just the sort of thing that is commonly asserted without evidence. E.g. ‘All women going for an abortion have considered their options carefully. No exceptions.’ ‘Abortion access benefits all women / benefits everyone, male or female.’ ‘There are people of conscience on both sides of the divide.’ Rarely is any of this measured or documented.
Rarely is ranting unaccompanied by muddled thinking.
What you call ranting (a lazy one-word piece of analysis which thereby goes to the bottom of the pile) is caring about things that matter (and there are severe question marks against those who do not do that) and secondly analysing them towards gaining the most correct perspective possible.
No, I think ranting is a lazy way of caring about things that matter and obscures careful thought. It is about approach and attitude and because it is a lazy approach and attitude it goes to the bottom of the pile.
Ranting is that, yes. But the only person who says that my words here are ranting as opposed to strongly emphasising how much we should care is you. You have committed the fallacy of requiring that people accept your own categorisation. That is compounded by the category in question being extremely vague and colloquial.
‘My challenge to you, with your wonderful brain power is…’
Peter, if I were Ian, my antennae would be picking up a serious warning of flattery being used as an enticement to divert from the hard road of contending for the truth!
Of course Ian’s intellect is not in question but it has to be said that intellect alone does not guarantee submission to the truth to which it can lead us. Whether gifted of brain or thick as two short planks, we have nothing more reliable than the word of God to guide us: irrespective of the longing for unity we all share, that is where we must search, listen, obey, and stand.
I have been applying my brain overnight, and it tells me several things! First, if a position does appear to be gnostic, then it is not unhelpful to point that out. We forget how odd our position is: sex as an act is only a thing because we have sexed bodies. The idea that we should bless sex acts between people of the same sex does indeed seek to erase the importance of bodily sex. Sex difference is central to the whole narrative of human bodily existence throughout scripture. Ignoring sex difference is interpreted by Paul as a rejection of God as creator.
But my brain also tells me something about your question: the key thing about it is the assumption that you make, rather than the question itself. Your assumption is that disagreement about this question is a ‘thing indifferent’ and that it is possible to have institutional unity across the opposing views.
My brain tells me that this is not logically possible. It is not possible to view a relationship as both blessed by God and a sinful departure from God’s pattern for us at the same time. But why would we want to? Why is institutional unity more important than faithfulness to the truth, in particular, the teaching of Jesus, along with all of Scripture?
The vast majority of mainstream scholarship is clear on this: scripture, including the teaching of Jesus in the gospels, prohibits all forms of same-sex sex. So the question is: how as followers of Jesus can we imitate the pattern of Jesus in our stance towards this question?
Both you and David Runcorn seem to disguise this prior question in the questions you put, so that your rhetorical stance is ‘Why are you lot being so unreasonable?’ But that only works when the more important question is hidden from view. My brain asks another question in return: why is not the example of Jesus that thing that we are wrestling with here?
“scripture, including the teaching of Jesus in the gospels, prohibits all forms of same-sex sex”
This is wishful thinking.
I am not persuaded – and nor do I think are many – that Jesus said anything at all about same sex activity. To use the reference in Matthew to porneia as evidence of that stretches the word evidence beyond breaking point. Not least because Jesus did not speak in Greek.
There is very little evidence to support a claim that Jesus said anything on the matter and no evidence to support a claim that he commissioned disciples and apostles to teach a particular line on the matter.
A pastoral approach can be the only one, and that must involve a twin track approach. As I have said before, I think that is where we shall get to in the C of E before very long. And I think that is what Andrew is suggesting in his article here.
I am astonished that biblical scholars can claim that the Bible has one vision of marriage (cf. my post above) or that we know what porneia or malakos means/meant then or now. Classic pal scholars are always pointing this out.
We are always being warned about flat literalist readings, except when it comes to sex, in which case we know that Paul and Jesus would certainly condemn, say, Andrew Foreshew Cain. Lots of eisegesis going on here. I don’t know why. Except that this, maybe, is seen as the way of keeping the church pure and untainted by interesting hermeneutics.
Whether we know 100% what they mean or not, the options and the range are very limited. The number of things they cannot possibly mean outnumbers the number of things they can possibly mean by billions to one. We can know either what they mean (100%) or something close to it (80-90%). You are giving the impression it is 0%, which is an extraordinarily large and unjustified leap.
Hmm no. We have a knowledge gained from expert classical scholars as I have pointed out below. That knowledge is at odds with the simplistic understanding given by a simplistic English translation.
Which widely used Bible translation is the work of non scholars, Andrew? I shall be interested in your answer.
If “you lot are being unreasonable” my suggestion (said in both respect for you, and out of love for the CofE), is not that you change your views re same sex sex but that you spend more time thinking about how difference can be held together because if the CofE is to hold together it needs – conservative evangelicals in the CofE need – some assistance from thought leaders such as yourself.
I agree that our sexed bodies are created/intended in creation design, honed by evolution for hetersexual sex – how else would any of us be here commenting on this thread?! Biblical talk about marriage, any ancient talk about marriage talks along lines of diversity into unity, purposiveness re reproduction, etc.
Where I disagree with you, and do not think I am being “gnostic” is in asking the question what response – a pragmatic response rather than an idealistic response – can we make as church to homosexuality now that (i) homosexuals have the confidence in church (some churches, at least) to self-identify and thus to identify that they cannot conform to the usual diversity into unity schema for sex; (ii) homosexuals have demonstrated that they have aspiration and capacity to form lifelong relationships, domestic partnerships, and now blessed by civil legislation; (iii) many parishioners have family members in such partnerships and are not impressed by continuing blanket condemnation of all same sex sex as including their loved ones in their committed partnerships.
Further, to take up what you say, what are we to say to homosexuals who also have “sexed bodies” desires which burn (1 Corinthians 7) but which they cannot act on by marrying according to traditional teaching. Is the only answer we can give be “be celibate”? (And, implicitly, “sorry about that, but I am not joining you in sympathy because I rather enjoy my heterosexual marriage.”)
Is it really gnostic, somehow against the merciful and kind spirit of Jesus (e.g. The Jesus who did not condemn the Samaritan woman at the well) to ask in this age whether we might be pragmatic, noting, of course, our pragmatism in the past century about contraception, divorce, ordination of women?
Actually, isn’t that a good question: is one gnostic, on “Paulian” logic, if one uses contraception???
‘you spend more time thinking about how difference can be held together’
But again, two things I have noted to which you have not responded:
a. This is not logically possible. No church in the world has achieved it. You cannot believe that a relationship is holy and blessed by God, and sinful and invites a call to repentance, at the same time.
b. Why do you continue to put the institutional ‘unity’ cart before the scriptural faithfulness horse? It cannot be done, and attempts to do so have actually accelerated division in all the churches I know about.
My gay friends who are clear about what Scripture teaches have either other-sex married, living out their bodily identities as male, or lived celibate lives, whilst challenging the church on the question of male friendship and the need to live in community. That is one (of many) reason why we live intentionally in a multi-generational community in our home.
But you are right to focus on Jesus. There is simply no doubt that Jesus believed sex should be in marriage between one man and one woman, and that all other forms of sex were porneia which we should flee. So how did he show kindness and mercy to the gay people he met? What do you really think here?
And why is his model not enough for us?
Ian, if I may, two things that don’t quite ring true in what you say above.
Firstly, you assert that “You cannot believe that a relationship is holy and blessed by God, and sinful and invites a call to repentance, at the same time.” The C of E has done just that with its policy on Marriage in Church after Divorce.
Secondly you say there is “simply no doubt” around what Jesus meant when using the word porneia. There is plenty of doubt about that for a number of reasons. One, which I have already referred to, is that Jesus did not speak in Greek. Professor Kyle Harper, the classicist, concludes that since the usual English translation as “sexual immorality” is “so vague” that it is “inevitable [that it] threatens to become little more than a cipher for the interpreter’s own views”
“The actual term porneia is very rare in the classical world, and when it is used it has an active sense: “Porneia means ‘the practice of selling access to one’s body. Porneia, in classical Greek, refers to the activity of the seller. . . . the pornos is a gigolo, not a john” (369). A male might be a pornos, but only if he’s the seller; a man who seeks out a prostitute isn’t committing porneia at all, nor adultery for that matter.”
The use of Porneia looks like a Matthean addition and we can’t rely on the conclusion you draw from it.
No, the C of E has done no such thing, and it is tiring when you repeatedly make these untrue claims.
Jesus likely did speak in Greek, and the vast majority of mainstream commentators don’t think porneia is vague at all. The place to look here is Jewish and biblical OT tradition.
And of course Jesus went out of his way to affirm that marriage is between one man and one woman, rooted in the first creation narrative of humanity as male and female in the image of God.
On (a): where has it actually been tried in a manner which is as fair as possible to both views? The only (Anglican Communion) answer I can come up with is my own church; and, to be frank, I think four years in is a little early to come to conclusions. Though, so far … it looks possible. (There may also be an emerging Roman Catholic answer in Belgium/Germany.)
On (b): (in perhaps too brief a set of words) Unity among Christians is Scriptural faithfulness. Unity among Christians is faithful witness to Jesus. Division confuses Christians in churches and onlookers outside the church. Dividing over this and no other issue founds an ecclesiology on … sex, which doesn’t seem particularly Scriptural. I reject any sense that holding difference together is “institutional unity” and especially not in comparison to “Scriptural faithfulness.” The gospel lived out on earth is God’s call to God’s people to live together, even with difference.
I appreciate very much that there are homosexuals who commit to celibacy and homosexuals who commit to heterosexual marriage. I would have no problem if all Christian homosexuals signed up to one of those two choices. My problem, your problem in the CofE, is that not all Christian homosexuals find themselves able to so commit. It is not unreasonable for the church to pragmatically work out how to receive, respond to and pray for such couples among its parishioners. Just as you take me to task for what my comments may not engage with, I do not find your comment above engaging with this matter. As best I understand your many posts on Psephizo (or posting of, e.g., Andrew Goddard’s posts), you can only conceive of a CofE conforming to the present canonical status quo or splitting. There is another way. Will you and others seek it out?
Hi there Peter. Could you explain what your ‘solution’ looks like? What is the ACNZ’s actual doctrine of marriage?
I agree with yu: unity among Christians is faithful witness to Jesus. The test of our faithful witness in this cultural moment relates strongly to issue in sexuality, since the Zeitgeist appears to believe that our sexuality defines us, that we ‘have’ bodies, and that human happiness is found in acting out our desires. These are the convictions which appear to have shaped the massive and rapid shift in approaches to sexuality in the last couple of years. I don’t think those convictions are compatible with the teaching of Jesus.
But again, your posing of the problem, ‘how to receive, respond to and pray for such couples’, bypasses the central question: are such sexual relationships sinful or not? C of E doctrine, indeed what Belousek notes is the ‘doctrine of the church catholic, what, until this generation, everyone, everywhere in every branch of the Christian faith has believed’ is that, yes, such relationships are sinful. This is rooted in the majority consensus of reading the teaching of Jesus and the rest of Scripture.
If that is the case, then your question is similar to the question about other issues we might be faced with. How should we receive, respond to, and pray for people who have a fierce temper, who are greedy and acquisitive, who feel a compulsion to steal, and so on?
Until you can make the case for sexual morality being adiaphora, a thing indifferent, in contradiction to the repeated teaching of the NT and the whole of Scripture, or you can find a way to tell us why the texts say the opposite of what the majority consider, I am unclear why the question you pose is so different.
And so, again, I ask you: how do you see the grace and mercy of Jesus at work when he meets those engaged in sexual activity outside faithful male-female marriage? And why should his model not be our practice?
“you can only conceive of a CofE conforming to the present canonical status quo or splitting. There is another way. Will you and others seek it out?”
Even to me, a devout non-conformist, this seems to be mealy-mouthed nonsense. What is the other way?
Either you have an agreed doctrinal position, the ‘canonical status quo’ as you put it, or you do not, and there is no middle-ground that allows both to be the case. Any institution that holds two mutually-exclusive positions in reality holds neither.
Canons are not a ‘state’ the church is in, but a binding authority on it. If you want a church where people can hold theology according to their conscience rather than ecclesial authority, there’s always the free and non-conformist traditions.
“Either you have an agreed doctrinal position, the ‘canonical status quo’ as you put it, or you do not, and there is no middle-ground that allows both to be the case. Any institution that holds two mutually-exclusive positions in reality holds neither.”
But Matt the CofE already does this in the case of marriage following divorce.
And it also did it in 1992 when it allowed clergy and congregations to hold different doctrines about the ordination of women. Not a few people called the approach ‘mealy mouthed nonsense’.
It does neither. It allows remarriage after divorce under certain limited circumstances; it has revised those permitted to be ordained, but has made some provision for those who do not agree with this change. In neither case has it agreed a contradictory or middle position, and it is tiring that you keep repeated these untrue claims.
But the two things are not really comparable… for reasons that are often discussed here ad-infinitum.
In hindsight, I should not have made the comment, as it invites even more circular arguing; a trap many comments below this are demonstrating the effectiveness of.. I was posting late, and not really anticipating the response. Let us not add to this further. Please disregard, we have done this before.
Ian: you clearly don’t have memory of the debates leading up to the 1992 decision. The whole provision for so called Resolution parishes was because they could not, in good conscience, go along with the decision that synod had taken. They were assured a place within the CofE even though they held a different view.
Not all conservative evangelicals accept your interpretation of the ordination of women. That’s just one reason why Rod Thomas was elected Bishop of Maidstone.
Porneia: not all scholars agree with you on the meaning of that term and I have provided evidence of just one expert opinion. There are plenty of others.
We are going to have to disagree on these matters.
No, we are going to have to keep refining our position by introducing more and more factors to the picture. Those who opt out (a) do not love truth, (b) think that they have already got as far as they can go when they have only scraped the surface and most of them do not know the relevant language and culture yet, (c) want to maintain the illusion that their position is still respectable, when they are withdrawing from the very cut and thrust which alone could demonstrate it to be respectable or otherwise.
Notice that such withdrawals often happen after 2-3 brief moves. Imagine if that happened in chess. How opposite to the world of the commentary writer where hundreds of factors and dimensions are considered. You will not need me to tell you which is better, and by how much.
Christopher: I am sure that Ian would most certainly not wish us to proceed in the way you propose. I am sure we are trying his patience as it is! I am grateful that Ian allows a wide variety of opinion on here and that is rare. But other voices need to be heard as well.
I am only noting the perpetual pattern that many liberals:
-indulge in generalities
-and preemptive conclusions,
-imply that all ‘views’ are equally valid (none, at least, can be ruled out)
-and then terminate the conversation unilaterally.
In this whole process they have done zero scholarship (avoided it, more like). So they need to be called out on this. And I am calling them out. But if this be digested and taken on board, I will have no need to repeat further.
“But the two things are not really comparable… for reasons that are often discussed here ad-infinitum.”
Reasons that are not convincing to many people Mat. That’s why they continue to be discussed perhaps?
That would be the generous answer. A more cynical person might think it simply stubborn.
Appreciating (i) that this comment can simply be returned and aimed at me, that (ii) Ian has similarly responded, and (iii) that there is already a massive amount of unhelpful and unedifying comment below, I don’t think going any further is helpful.
Wedded and embedded to the *spirit of the age*.
Are there any lessons for the CoE in this article I’ve just come across?
‘Jesus Has Left the Building’: Scotland’s Secular Slide—and Signs of Hope by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Geoff. Please, my brother. This is a discussion thread. There is no mistaking how upsetting you find the views of others on sexuality and the bible. But just continually turning up here with these one line judgments, accusations and angry dismissals of the views of others will not change anyone’s mind actually – and, more importantly, it makes the kind of conversation we need almost impossible.
I take it that’s a no then-nothing to be learned, no lessons from the article. Please read and discuss, compare and contrast.
I wasn’t talking about the article. Geoff, I have been studying and debating all this with all sides for 40 years now. I am very familiar with articles like this and your own position. I would never question your integrity in holding it. But, as you know, I just do not agree with you – with the same faith and the same total commitment to scripture. There are folk here cannot believe that is possible. But there is not much I can do about that.
Thanks. I have made my point.
It’s clear David, that you consider there is no longer any discussion to be had. So really what is your point?!
And to come under authority of scripture which you claim, you don’t actually say what scripture is, your doctrine of scripture. So it becomes a matter of self selection as to the extent or scope of its authority if it is of purely human construct, or the whole life transformation of the Gospel including salvation and sanctification, holiness.
As a retired Dentist friend succinctly said, scripture is all revelation or it is nothing.
How does scripture read and study you?
Geoff I have not stopped exploring this issue (or any other). I said I was not persuaded by what you offered here. I am still reading, teaching and discussing with folk who are open to it. Are you still open to the possibility of new understanding? Do you know this quote: ‘Scripture contains many things that I don’t know, and that you don’t know; many things we are waiting to discover; passages which are lying dormant waiting for us to dig them out. Awaken them.’ Tom Wright
I do and I have. From reliable guides, including systematic and Biblical theology, and from Ian Paul, as a 47 year old lawyer atheist convert to Christ. And as it happens, through study, I’ve moved from Pelagianism. I have always studied scripture as a believer in Christ, as part of a local preachers course in Methodism, having also studied philosophy as part of Jurisprudence and historical/form criticism, Bultmann et al, and its movement through to the Jesus seminar, exegesis v eisegsis, postmodernism, Open/Process theology, emerging church, having been a so-called *child of the 60’s.* Followed through to being a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in England and Wales where questions of reliability of evidence were vital to the administration of justice, determining truth from lies, objectivity from subjectivity.
It is from this position, this movement through life from secularism to Christ, that I see the osmotic movement of the CoE in the opposite direction.
And still you chose not to answer questions I asked.
1 What scripture is? 2 Your doctrine of scripture?
My reading has ranged widely, through charismatic, to reformed (including weekend teaching on the Resurrection by Tom Wright).
I’d add further questions. What is the Gospel? What does it mean to you? What is sin, and why does it matter…to God?
And if the authority of scripture really were central in the life of the CoE, I think the paucity of comment from revisionists to Ian Paul’s articles on scripture is some evidence to the contrary.
Geoff never said anything about ‘upsetting’. He adjudged that he has seen all this before, namely in a context of slavish Zeitgeist-following. He recognised it. He placed it in the context it belongs in.
For all that to reduce to his being ‘upset’ would reduce a debate/discussion to a matter of emotion only!
But the fact that you misrepresent the whole thing to be about emotion is telling.
Is that because your own position has no firmer foundation than emotion?
Note that humans, as they mature, develop from more emotional and less rational to more rational and less purely emotional.
David Runcorn has already said on this site that when he was an undergraduate student at London Bible College- when? over 45 years ago? – he had already made up his mind that the evangelical and Catholic/Orthodox position on homosexuality was wrong, and this conviction of his pre-dates a veritable mountain range of debate discussion and writing on the subject since the early 70s, David says he kept his convictions about homosexuality to himself in his pastoral work and in his teaching in places like Trinity Theological College Bristol. I do not know how a young undergraduate arrived at this position of exegetical certainty which evaded and contradicted Stott, Green, Packer and many other lesser luminaries in the evangelical world – perhaps David had a special but incommunicable revelation from thr Holy Spirit about the true meaning of the Scripture? Or perhaps he had made up his mind already and no amount of old fashioned grammatical-historical exegesis was going to change his mind? This is Quakerism, not evangelicalism.
What David doesn’t want to accept is that his theological convictions – including his approach to the Bible – make *perfect sense* as a neo-orthodox liberal in the school of, say Emil Brunner, but are of course not evangelical. Evangelicalism has actual content, it is not the same as David’s subjectivist existentialism. If a young undergraduate already *knows* that the evangelical and Catholic/Orthodox tradition is wrong, what need is there to study the Bible?
Quite a few people raised in the evangelical world – like Dave Tomlinson, Steve Chalke and Brian McLaren- have rejected their earlier beliefs and don’t claim the evangelical label any longer. This is fair.
James – my testimony has long been out there. People can draw their own conclusions. But when you use this public discussion site to offer your own very particular interpretation of another’s most personal story, faith and motivation you are crossing a line. Quite apart from breaching the guidelines for this blog site and the central Christian commands of love and truth speaking, it makes actual discussion impossible. I want no part in it. And nor should you.
James, there is a useful point to be made here—but you need to find a way of expressing this in a less barbed fashion.
Ian – I didn’t think it was too barbed – other than to the extent that James has his own position, which he defends, and David Runcorn takes a different view.
If he’s putting David Runcorn into the same box as Emil Brunner, then he’s actually paying a very great compliment and putting him into very good company.
One of my earliest Christian experiences was reading `The Mediator’ by Emil Brunner. James Philip mentioned it, during one of his sermons on Matthew, as a book that he considered very important, which had shaped much of his thinking and which he thoroughly commended to all the theological students.
Anyway, for me the comment gave a good perspective on David Runcorn’s contribution (and I was able to `filter out’ the style of presentation).
Well I wasn’t going to come back, but this unexpected biography did nothing if not stir memories. London Bible College was a wonderful gift where I began to lay the foundations for a thinking, biblical faith. If I was under suspicion there it was mainly because I was an Anglican or, among some, because I did not hold a seven-day creation – so I was plainly rejecting the whole authority of scripture (this particular line of argument has been around a long time). As noted above, debates about bible and sexuality are happening in all denominations. Over the years I note how many students from those faithful, conservative beginnings now hold various expressions of open and including views on this subject. The wonderful years teaching at Trinity Bristol include being invited to give a lecture to the whole college and faculty offering my understanding of an including approach to ss relationships, as part of a week-long focus on human sexuality. I still remember the gracious honesty and challenges in the discussions that followed. Then an unexpected memory of an invitation to lecture in a pastoral module at a well-known evangelical Anglican college on ‘The use of the bible in pastoral care’. The week before, the Pilling Report was published – unexpectedly early – and in it, my summary of an open evangelical approach to bible and sexuality. I discovered later this caused quite a stir. Some wanted me disinvited. But the principal insisted I still came and that all views were welcome and to be engaged. After the lectures (which were not about sexuality at all) a number of students asked to sit and talk over lunch – open, undefended and wanting to share across differences. It can be done. And that still gives me hope.
One aspect of the the debate about the Anglican Communion occurs to me which I don’t think I have seen aired. A part of the understanding of the Church of England and, by extension, other Anglican provinces is that they are simply part of the One Apostolic and Catholic(k) Church. To my mind, this means that not only should the AC consider how provinces relate to one another, but should also consider how provinces related to other parts of the Church worldwide. If there was an eucumenical (i.e. catholic) council of all the bishops from all episcopal churches how would the understanding of the contentious issues be expressed at such a gathering?
I do not think that the progressive views would have much currency.
Nor are they progressive, and for them to call them such is simultaneously firstly arrogant, secondly inaccurate, and thirdly insulting to the supposed regressives.
Would it be possible to move beyond a “we cannot let progressive thinking into our church” response to, “what do homosexuals in our church want from their church?” It might be surprising how conservative the answer would be!
Jesus leaving the CofE. If we assume Jesus hasn’t left the CofE at this point in time then he is in a church which does have same sex partnered members, including among the clergy. Is it possible that Jesus is less concerned about this than some of his members?
When in England recently, my wife and I were warmly welcomed into the home of one such member of the clergy. The evening was marked by the ordinariness of the domestic occasion and by discussion of concerns about the life of the church, few of which were about this debate. A less gnostic or progressive occasion I cannot imagine!
Peter Carrell: your question should be “What does Jesus want from His church?” You gave not interacted at all with what Ian Paul wrote above about your mishandling of Scripture by speaking dismissively of “six texts” and ignoring what the Bible positively says about the nature of marriage and make-female complementarity- as well as the question of the purpose of our bodies. To speak plainly, do you think God intended homosexual sex as a positive good? Is the anus for sex? Aren’t male and female homosexual acts a kind of parody of actual coitus?
Do you ever ask why TEC, SEC and the Church in Wales are in headlong decline? Do you wonder why the same thing is happening in New Zealand? – except that the refusal of New Zealand Anglicans to keep statistics of church attendance conceals the awful truth from the church.
Your major tactical error is also a theological one.
First of all: When you became Bishop of Christchurch it was on the proviso that you would accept “same sex blessings” of couples in your diocese – and you duly attended one such event involving a friend of yours. So you had already made up your mind that God approves of homosexual sex. How did you arrive at this revelation? Not by reading Scripture but by ignoring it as irrelevant.
The result was that several parshes, including one central in the history of NZ evangelical Anglicanism, St John’s Latimer Square, decided to leave the Diocese of Christchurch and establish a new Anglican fellowship under a new bishop. Was it worth it? Were you really led by the Holy Spirit?
The same thing happened in St Matthew’s Dunedin where I think your father was vicar: after SSBs ca3ne in, this once vibrant church lost over 80% of its membership. Was that worth it? The same thing happened in churches in Auckland and Hamilton.
Secondly, you have treated “same sex blessings” after civil marriages as being something different from a same-sex marriage. But, Peter, this is delusional. The world has moved on from pretending that there is any real distinction between “same-sex blessings” (after a civil marriage) and a same-sex marriage. You don’t seem to realise that such a ceremony IS a same-sex marriage – and you, by your support for them, have changed the Church’s doctrine of marriage. That means you have to affirm same-sex parenting and the deliberate creation of families without either the biological father or mother. Is that God’s will for Christians?
I also ask the question, what does Jesus want from his church?
I think, in respect of matters above, that what Jesus wants from his church is for a kinder, softer response to homosexuals than you give above. (Do people ask you details about your love life? Would you answer them if they did? )
I have said I agree that marriage is about male and female, diversity being bound into unity.
I have also said that we should find a way, a kinder, softer way than you advocate for homosexual couples who cannot marry a person of the opposite sex.
Is this kinder, softer approach determined then to lead to decline in numbers?
The jury is out on that because there are many factors contributing to decline in Western church numbers; and a hardline stance on homosexuality is but one factor where some churches are growing in numbers.
The parishes you mentioned: those who left had another option, to enter the provision now known as the Community of St Mark and remain in our church.
Perhaps you might direct your questions about responses to the 2018 decision (most of which, incidentally, occurred before I was elected bishop) to those who made the choice to leave?
I don’t agree that I have changed the church’s doctrine of marriage so we will need to agree to disagree on that matter.
Peter – you pose the question “what do homosexuals in our church want from their church?” and I think it is a good one. I get the impression from what I read here that the answer is that many gay people seem to be very needy people who seem to want (and need) an awful lot from their church.
For example, take Same Sex Marriage. They want this – and it upsets them if they don’t get it. They don’t simply want to get married; they want this marriage to be within the church. My own marriage (to a woman) was in a registry – basically because we didn’t like the way that a church marriage would mean someone from the spiritual A-team sticking their nose into our private life (we were – and are – living reasonable Christian lives at the time – but we felt that this was our business).
Also, I have looked around the churches in my area, but decided against them (because they all seem to have weird aspects that I don’t want my 6 year old son exposed to). I have discovered that, while a church fellowship might be nice and useful, it is absolutely not essential to Spiritual health and well-being. We are, after all, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we should learn what that means, and draw on it when necessary. One of the things it means is that we don’t have to succumb to the Spiritual blackmail of `oh you’re not a proper Christian if you don’t go to church’ and, as a result, find yourself forced to put up with a `worship’ experience that is worse than pulling teeth.
I get the strong impression from the contributions I see here that association with a church fellowship seems – somehow – to be extremely important for a large number of gay Christians. This also extends to the ministry. There seem to be a large number of gay Christians going into church ministry – I’d say a disproportionate amount – and I wonder if they are doing this primarily to fulfill their own need.
Anyway, these are my impressions.
The impressions you have formed would be best confirmed/denied/queried by those whom you are forming the impressions about!
My Bishop, Dr Peter Carrell, in Christchurch, New Zealand, has contributed this thought into the conversation here:
” Yes, society is changing re homosexuality and we worry about giving in to “social fashion”; but are we not also being prompted to look again within ourselves and to wonder whether our gay brothers and sisters in Christ when coupled together might be revaluated against what we have assumed for 2000 years – 2000 years of those brothers and sisters living in silence, if not in fear, and only now emboldened to be who they are?”
As has also been noted; understanding of who might be allowed by God to ake up God’s call to he ordained ministry (one of the principle tenets of ‘Faith and Apostolic Order’ in the Church Catholic. Women are now full partners n the gospel with men – a situation that some conservative Anglicans still have a problem with – especially in the Gafcon Group, that now resiles itself from participation in Anglican Communion Bishops Meetings (Are they really Anglican?).
I note that a former ACNA congregation has now asked permission to join up with the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis – on grounds of its more coherent inclusivity in the gospel. From Schism they are returning to truly Anglican Orthodoxy. They know who Anglicans are!
Ron, the Table Church in Indianapolis voted 44-4 to leave ACNA and join joun TEC, and they left with ACNA’s blessing and their property.
And that is right, because Critical Race Theory (CRT) is important to several members of that church and the clergy have tweeted their suport for a lesbian Methodist bishop in California involved in some dispute. These are things TEC cares about but not ACNA, so the Table Church will be happier there.
Now, Ron: would you be happy for St Christopher’s, St Timothy’s Burnside and Sumner-Redcliffs to be allowed to leave for the Confessing Anglicans of Aotearoa New Zealand with their property, as ACNA has done for the Table Church?
Sauce for the goose as for the gander?
I notice thst Bishop Jay Behan of the Confessing Anglicans will be in England latr this month to assist in the consecration of bishops for the Anglican Mission in Europe.
If anyone read the linked article, a key factor in identifying decline and Gospel fervour, was in significant reduction in financial giving. Which included giving for growth and planting. And the hope was that churches which left, buildings and denominations, have grown.
One church I was part of, has recently left its denomination and joined up with a FICE church, thereby combining young and old families. It went through a period of standing firm against Chalke inspired teaching (which is underpinned by his swallowing Historical/Higher criticism) and repackaging it as if it were entirely new and contemporary and thereby serving his own ideological purposes. How far had he hidden this new teaching when he seemed to be a darling of SpringHarvest?
Not at all. When evangelicalism was in the culture (1980s and early 1990s) he followed that. When the culture did not allow disaffirmation of LGBT and packaged it as a civil rights equality issue, he followed that. HTB by withdrawing their homosexuality booklet followed the same trajectory in a more restrained way. Both are sensitive to not being offensive and not being too much of a minority. This measure, social deviance tolerance, explains a large number of things. The story is simply that SC goes along with whatever is socially acceptable or majority at the time.
I stand to be corrected, but I think David Pawson fell foul of Springharvest leadership of that time,
after he called for repentance from fornication, and living together in an unmarried relationship. And he wasn’t invited there again to speak.
BTW did consideration of the ministry of Smith Wigglesworth form any part of your PhD? He certainly wasn’t a cessationist nor an academic.
He was not invited again deliberately, or just because other people were invited? Of course he was a controversialist though not on that topic.
But resistance to going against the culture is found in surprising places.
S Wigglesworth I greatly admire – what a life – but not in my PhD.
“These are things TEC cares about but not ACNA, so the Table Church will be happier there.’ – James.
Not just ‘things’, James, but the tenor of the gospel of OLJC, who reached out to the poor and disenfranchised in the face of the Scribes and Pharisees; who strongly objected to this passion for justice, that Jesus exemplified.
Your comments about ‘Confessing Anglicans’ only serve to describe just how far schismatics are prepared to go in defence of their ‘entitlement’ to foster division in the Body of Christ – in direct opposition to the prayer of Jesus: “Father, may they be one as you and I are One – so that the world may believe.” Intentional schism only exacerbates the derision of non-believers in as they question: ‘the great love of God as revealed in the Son’. (See how these Christians love one another?)
Ron Smith: if Our Lord Jesus Christ had “a passion for justice”, then there is no hope for any of us.
I do not want him to treat me with justice, I want his forgiveness and mercy, obtained through faith in his atoning sacrifice.
I do my best not to confuse the eternal Gospel of grace with current political waves., whether it’s the Marxism of Critical Race Theory or the Slavophilia of the Russian Orthodox Church.
I would urge you, a self-described Anglo-Catholic, not to throw the “Schismatic” label at other Christians.
Remember that Anglicanism arose as a schism from the Church of Rome.
Why not reconcile yourself to the Roman Catholic Church? Many Anglo-Catholics have done this in recent years and overcome the sense of schism you warn against.
If that consecration in Hull is in the setting a former congretion of Melvin Tinker, what a a fitting tribute to someone who was robust for the Gospel and clearly saw the roots and current drivers of influential secular and church movements: someone who seemed to be ostracised by sections of the CoE – such as the time he was dissalowed a student speaking engagement at Derby Cathedral.
It would also provide some evidence for hope of gospel fruitfulness and gravitational pull from costly resistance of the current Sitz Im Lebem.
On October 9, 4.49 am above (imbedded statement) , Peter Carrell, the bishop of Christchurch NZ FINALLY agrees that our bodies “were created/intended for heterosexual sex”.
Wonderful! So it isn’t just those “six texts” he refers to a bit dismissively – it is actually our Creation by God (the design of our bodies to fulfil certain teloi), and by implication this includes every single text that refers to males and females – everything the Bible says about Christian marriage.
I am sure Peter, a doctoral graduate in theology of Durham, knows that this is what theology and philosophy calls “Natural Law”. This is *precisely what Romans 1.26f is about.
The essence of Christian obedience is this: follow your Created Nature healed, restored and helped by Christ.
But then Peter totally destroys his welcome recognition of natural law by immediately going back on himself by saying (in effect) “In today’s post-Christian world, many homosexuals have become confident to live openly and form households and therefore we need as the Church of Christ to accept this. Also, they have parents in our churches and we want to get along happily without tension or rejection”. Yes, that is certainly “pragmatic” with a short term view in mind, but is it Christian? The Christian view is eternity, not riding the current cultural wave.
Here are the serious errors in Peter’s ideas and why they are in fact gnostic.
1. If something is contrary to the Creator’s intention and design (natural law), then it is SINFUL. Peter is saying, however, that acting on homosexual desire is not sinful. Big contradiction here.
2. Peter refuses to say that a “same-sex blessing” after a civil (secular) marriage IS UTTERLY the same as a church saying to a same-sex couple “You are married before God”. Peter, can you not see that you HAVE changed the Doctrine of Marriage? Yet you keep denying this.
3. Peter keeps failing to mention that one of the goods and purposes of marriage is the conceiving and nurture of children. I believe from his reticence elsewhere that Peter dislikes the idea of same-sex parenting. But you need to join the dots, Peter:
– if you declare to a couple in church “Your same-sex desire is approved by God” then you must also say to them “Therefore you are married before God and God wants you to bring up kids.”
This is the conclusion of your reasoning Peter.
And of course it is neo-gnostic. You are saying you can defy the Creator’s design and intention for your body and it won’t affect your soul.
Bishop Jay Behan, over in Hull this month, would say the same, if not so directly.
In the end, James, there is nothing more for me to say.
You won’t listen empathetically to what I am saying so there is no reason to think that saying anything further will draw one ounce of empathy from you for the life homosexuals are forced to lead within the worldview you propagate.
What a hideous, baseless evidenceless fallacy.
We are all sinners and in need of Christ, of the Trinity, in our lives for salvation And sanctification.
And for all those who struggle with SSA and yet faithful to God as revealed in scripture, you are saying it is pointless, give in, surrender to your desires. There is at least one contributer to comments on this site who does so struggle and there are other of more high profile such as Sam Allbery, and David Bennett and Rosarria Butterfield who resist.
And if you havea PhD from Durham I’m not sure your perspectivism would be embraced by former Category D villages in County Durham.
And you’ll be aware of the marvellous skyline of Durham City, with the Cathedral built to the glory of God, the University to the glory of human learning, and the Prison a graphic illustration of the heart of darkness in the middle of human endeavour and life, the interwoven spectrum of sin.
And meanwhile +Peter, we are none the wiser at to what our conservative brethren here would bring to the table as we seek a way forward in the CofE on this issue.
David, the answer is before your eyes.
Talk to Sean Doherty at Trinity Theological College.
Talk to Vaughan Roberts.
Listen to Rosaria Butterfield on youtube and read her book.
There is plenty of testimony if you look for it.
I urge Peter Carrell to do the same.
Why do you assume I (or +Peter) haven’t? I have been engaging and discussing this subject with all sides for several decades. You, and others here, need to get passed the assumption that for me to hold the position I do I cannot possibly have read, studied or seriously engaged with conservative viewpoints. I have. Respectfully and at length. Close friends among them. To date I have not found their position persuasive. Meanwhile, like +Peter, I really have nothing more to add at this point. So as one nobody to another ….
I have spoken to Sean and admire him.
However, mixed-sex marriage as a solution to gayness is usually disastrous – for both parties.
Celibate gay men and women have made their choice.
Married gay men and women have made theirs.
Both in accordance with their consciences.
Back to the future. The way forward is the way back as guardians of
orthodox extant doctrines of God, of scripture, of humanity, of sin, of salvation, of sanctification, of whole of life- life changing Gospel, of conversion, of marriage: as ever –
the true nub of Christ encounter- counter -culture.
How about your truth seeking, nonideological, open minded brethren?
Why cannot people see it is a dead end, just like every other accommodation to the spirit of the age, eating up time from everything else? The powers of darkness must be very happy at the latter.
Peter – I don’t belong to the C. of E.. Furthermore, in my own day-to-day life, I don’t meet people who have declared themselves to be gay, so for me the issue is in some sense ‘theoretical’ – I know what Holy Scripture says, it is very clear, it is very negative about same-sex carnal activity. I also know that, as far as the Holy Writ is concerned, carnal activity is supposed to be with a view to creating children and bringing them into a loving environment.
But my mother once had a colleague who was gay (a university lecturer in actuarial sciences) and I’ll give a brief description of what happened. She had no idea of his orientation. For her, he was the best colleague in the department, the one who talked to her over coffee (rather than simply communicated to her) after they had returned from their respective lectures – a good, kind, decent, collegiate colleague – the best colleague one could hope to have.
One day, a couple of years after she had retired, she read about him in the newspaper in an article which said that he had been murdered in a frenzied attack, in his own apartment. It turned out that the murder was perpetrated by a gay lover (who must have been approximately 40 years younger than him).
This did not diminish in any way the respect she had for her former colleague, but she did wonder if his lifestyle might perhaps have been not so good for him – and could perhaps in some way have contributed to the tragic events.
What conservative evangelicals (I probably fit into this category) are bringing to the table (to use David Runcorn’s expression) is actually the compassionate response. Some behaviour is sin – the bible tells us it is sin. But the important thing about sin is that it doesn’t do the perpetrator any good – and the point is to try and compassionately save people from a wrong path that can do tremendous damage to themselves.
Thanks for your honesty re little direct, personal knowledge of the struggles of gay Christians to live in a church which will not accede to the possibility that only a few gay Christians are able to be celibate (or to marry the opposite sex) and most seek domesticity in a lifelong intimate partnership. (Just like heterosexuals … some are celibate, most marry … even after one marriage, many a Christian widower remarries.)
Geoff @ October 9, 8.10 am –
Yes the consecration of bishops for the AMiE is planned for later this month in Newlands, Hull – the church led for years by Melvin Tinker. About 500 people left with Melvin to form Christ Church Newlands and gave up the building of St John’s Church which now stands empty.
Thank you for that awful reminder that Melvin Tinker, a priest of unimpeachable character who ministered all his life in the Church of England, was refused permission to preach (as the students requested) at the Derby University Christian Union carol service in Derby Cathedral. That was the Cathedral’s prerogative, of course, but Melvin Tinker was no heretic nor subject to any CDM, and Derby Cathedral has done some weird things and shown strange films itself.
Among those who are expected at the consecration of bishops are Archbishop Foley Beach of ACNA, Bishop Julian Dobbs and Bishop Jay Behan of New Zealand, who formerly worked with Peter Carrell in Christchurch diocese. Jay was consecrated by Foley Beach
I imagine Justin Welby has ba3ned any Anglican bishops from attending.
And so, the seductive ways of schismatic severance are set (by Gafcon Primates) to continue! When is Gafcon going to come out into the open and declare itself no longer part of the Anglican Communion? The numbers game (so many people in Africa) is no indicator of Christian Orthodoxy.
I can discern the hand of naked ambition here. Not a Christian virtue. God preserve us from the new Pharisees! Repent, before it is too late!
Pot calling the kettle black ?
Ron, please be careful about the terms you use. I am sure you know that the Pharisees were the founders of post-temple Judaism after AD 70 and their leaders became the Rabbis.
If you speak negatively about people you disagree with, calling them “Pharisees”, you sound like you are being antisemitic.
I am sure you don’t want to appear antisemitic.
Very disappointing that Peter Carrell accuses me (a nobody only representing imperfectly the evangelical-catholic-orthodox tradition taught by Stott, Packer and Green in the past and by Christians with SSA today – Sean Doherty, Vaughan Roberts, Rosaria Butterfield etc today) of lacking “empathy” with Christians with SSA.
Peter, ignore me (a nobody) and talk to these flesh and blood Christians and learn of their particular struggles.
– And please think about the implications of what you understand about natural law, the design of our bodies and the purpose of bodily union in the eyes of the Creator. What do these truths teach you?
– Please consider that you HAVE changed the doctrine of Christian Marriage, even though you resist saying so. Join the dots.
– And please consider why you are personally opposed to same-sex parenting. Why do you consider this a Bad Thing?
Is it because your intuitions about Natural Law and God’s will for the nurture of children tell you there is something not right here?
I wonder if David Runcorn share your rejection of same-sex parenting? I’m not aware of David addressing this question anywhere, but maybe he does.
The embodied Christian life is full of struggles and difficulties, and none of them are welcome. They’re not all about sex – some are eatjng disorders, others concern alcohol, substance addiction, depression and other emotional-mental difficulties. Many single people (and not just them) are hooked on pornography. But the Gospel tells us the Grace of Christ is always available for broken people.
“Peter, ignore me (a nobody) and talk to these flesh and blood Christians and learn of their particular struggles.” – Chris
Dear Chris, if anybody is ‘ignoring these flesh and blood Christians (LGBTQI)’ it is surely you conservative evangelicals who cannot see the wood for the trees. As for ignoring you, personally? No. you are a person of ‘some substance’ – but not that which reminds me of the ‘Great Love of god as revealed in The Son’ – sadly. “They’ll know you’re my disciples by your…..”
I think this was James’s comment not mine.
I am pleading for empathetic openness to the situation of gay Christians who cannot follow (e.g.) the example of Vaughan Roberts.
Through successive comments it is clear that you are not open to their situation being in any way accommodated in the life of the church.
I think our conversation is over.
Peter Carrell, I notice that have not replied to the question as to whether you approve of SS parenting- i.e. the creation of a child through donated sperm or surrogacy and the expressed denial of a father or mother in their upbringing.
Do you still disapprove of this or have you now changed your view?
David R. – do you have a view on this? I have not come across it in your writings.
Some heterosexual couples have a child by A.I.D …and some SS couples ( a majority I suspect) wanting a family adopt. “parenting” needs unpacking.
In this case of A.I.D. then in the past, this has been provided for heterosexual couples who are unable to conceive normally athough this in itself, has resulted in cases of probelmatic moral dilemmas for the resulting offspring, but at least they get to have a notional Mother and Father they can relate to. There is no intention to deliberately deny the child one or the other.
Many gay couples do adopt, but a significant proportion buy sperm off the internet or get it donated by gay friends (incidently many single women do this now when they want a child but not a man).
Others pay surrogates to provide them with a baby and enter into a financial and legal agreement where the child becomes a bought consumer item.
I wanted to know whether Peter C thought that was just fine or not.
Why is this seen as a 21st century issue? It is a biological issue. Why do we hear nothing of it for so very many completely diverse centuries? Why are the same questions not being asked when they are not so fashionable as now?
Please be clear that the commentators on this blog represent no-one other than themselves, and are not a representative sample of anything in particular.
It was a comment to Peter. I worry that you and others here imagine that your dialogue partners here are ‘representative’ of evangelical voices or the constituency. I can assure you they are not.
*can not*. Therein is the rub. Is it an impossibility? What is Christianity? What is repentance? 180 degree change in direction, even if it is by degrees.
The church is to be conformed to those can not, is it? Where will it end?
How about New York style polygamy?
Petr Carrell writes: ” I am pleading for empathetic openness to the situation of gay Christians who cannot follow (e.g.) the example of Vaughn Roberts.”
What does “cannot” mean? Four possibilities in popular parlance:
1. It is physically impossible (just as human beings cannot fly just by flapping their arms).
2. It is really difficult, like giving up alcohol or sugar, because the sex drive is strong.
3. There is no good reason for same-sex attracted Christians to live a life of continence because it may entail loneliness and frustration for them, and that would be unkind (unempathetic).
4. God actually created some people to be same-sex attracted and to suppress this desire is resisting God’s special calling for those persons.
Which of these does Peter mean by “cannot”? I think he means #2-4 but he can correct me I am wrong. Likewise David Runcorn on Roberts, Doherty, Butterfield etc. (I mention David here because above he says he has already considered their testimony and found it inapplicable.)
Then consider the case of many heterosexual Christians who, for one reason or another (unattractiveness, poverty poor health, lack of eligible partners) have not been able to find a spouse. How should they deal with their sexual frustration and loneliness? What does Jesus tell them to do? Are hookups, porn or prostitution the answer to sexual frustration? Contemporary culture seems to think so.
Over to you, Peter and David.
And please clarify why you are unhappy (if you are) with same-sex parenting. I think Peter is on record with saying he doesn’t support it, but I might be wrong on this perception.
(Please note that I understand it is very difficult to oppose dominant cultural trends. A prominent Anglican in Melbourne was forced out of his job as CEO of a big football team because of his ethical beliefs, and the chaplain of Trent College likewise. It would be easier – for the moment – to go with the secular flow – until it turns on something else like the trans moment now. Look at J.K Rowling.)
Thank you for engaging with empathetic openness.
It’s 2-3 (though I would word 3 a little differently).
I agree that life is very difficult for those who wish to marry but, for whatever reason, cannot. There is no implication in that sentence that pornography etc is supported.
No, I am not making statements about same-sex parenting because (in a thread of 155 comments so far) that would be a very complex, nuanced, and no doubt much controverted debate.
Finally, with respect to “dominant cultural trends”: my focus is on the lives actually lived by parishioners in our churches and how we might engage with them in our fellowship in Christ.
‘No, I am not making statements about same-sex parenting because (in a thread of 155 comments so far) that would be a very complex, nuanced, and no doubt much controverted debate.’
Well it can’t be any more complex and nuanced than the debate on SSM can it? If you are prepared to accept SSM as holy and sacred in God’s sight then I cannot see how you can deny the right for SSM couples to choose to procreate in the ways outlined above. The Anglican marriage service mentions the care and upbringing of children (presumably) through sexual relations. Does LLF address this issue BTW?
It’s all part of the same package is it not?
That is correct- Peter Carrell has said elsewhere (o his own blog) that he is uneasy about or opposed to same-sex couples parenting children but he has never explained why, and again he has punted the question. Is it because deep down he realises it is not God’s will for fasmily life and for children?
As an Anglican bishop, Peter needs to be clear on this.
As Peter has agreed above that the design of our bodies in natural law is opposed to same-sex genital acts, he does seem to be very divided in his thinking but can’t join the dots.
Nor can he tell us what he would counsel the greater number of heterosexual Christians who are not able to get married how to deal with their sexual frustration and loneliness – because the answer for them would be the same for SSA and he declines to say what this is. Surely every Christian pastor knows the answer to this?
I do not know ehether David Runcorn supports same sex parenting for Christians but if he believes in same-sex marriage logically he should.
What do you say David?
Of the 146 posts to this thread nearly all pertain to LLF/the Human sexuality disagreement.
But there is a much more important disagreement.
The God and Christ of the Bible are both terrible and wonderful. The Church of England as a whole, with many exceptions of course, is failing to preach the terrible warnings, some from Christ’s own lips, alongside the wonderful promises and sincere invitations to all to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection. That failure includes a failure to believe, teach and preach that we all face God’s condemnation from birth onwards and we are all born with a nature inclined to evil because of Adam’s sin (the key truths that enable us to face and grapple with all human experience and the whole of the human condition – whether Romans 5:12-21 are understood literally or figuratively, the point is that they are true) as well as because of our personal sins.
This failure is more fundamental and important than the LLF disagreement, important though that is. Because the Church as a whole cannot say with the Apostle Paul, ‘Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God’. And the Church is not taking seriously the solemn warning God gave to Ezekiel that the appointed Watchman who ‘does not blow the trumpet to warn the people’ will be held accountable by God for the blood of the unsaved.
Surely this, in the words of Dr. Martin Davie, is ‘The Thing that Matters Most – It’s Eternity, Stupid’! (See one of his ‘Reflections of an Anglican Theologian’ on the internet).
In the Summer 2022 ‘Global Anglican’ (formerly ‘The Churchman’) Bishop Keith Sinclair, the National Director of the CEEC, has written an article ‘LLF, the Lambeth Conference and the Church of England’. In his sub-section ‘The problem with agreeing to disagree’ he writes:
‘There are matters about which the people of God may have different practices, as to foods, days and cultural practices such as given in Romans 14. I do not see how the argument from Romans 14 can be used to negate the teaching of Romans 1. How can a practice which is expressive of human idolatry and subject to God’s just judgement, become by Romans 14 a ‘matter indifferent’ about which the people of God may legitimately differ? We celebrate the great diversity of the Church recorded in Romans 16 but note that diversity and unity in the gospel does not mean it may not be necessary at times to heed the apostles urging to ‘keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned: avoid them’ (Romans 16:7) and this is why we continue to explore the possibility of differentiation, even as we profoundly hope and pray it will not be necessary. Sadly, following the tear in the life of the Anglican Communion by the embracing of teaching in opposition to the apostles, I grieve that some such parting of the ways may be necessary in the Church of England itself.’
If a ‘differentiation’, a ‘parting of the ways’, over LLF is a serious possibility, I argue that LLF and the more important failure to preach the terrible warnings and the doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin should be considered together in the Synod debates, together of course with earnest prayer that God will have mercy on us all, for two reasons.
Firstly because that failure concerns the eternal destiny of the unsaved on the Day of Judgement (‘O Church of Christ, what wilt thou say, When, in the awful judgment day They charge thee with their doom?’) and is so serious that we are justified in challenging and openly rebuking the Church following the example of the Apostle Paul who openly rebuked the Apostle Peter as recorded in Galatians. (And as Dr Martin Davie writes in a recent ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Comments on Human Sexuality – Reflections of a Critical Friend’, “As a result, Anglican Christians have a special responsibility to support, encourage, and pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to consider how galling he must find it when he is criticised for seeking to carry out his role by people who do not properly understand how difficult it is. Nevertheless, for the reasons previously outlined, Anglican Christians also have the right and obligation to challenge and, when necessary, criticise the archbishop, for the way in which he undertakes the ministry to which God has called him”).
(I realise that it is easy for me to suggest such a radical action – I am not dependent for my livelihood on the Church and I have not solemnly sworn to obey any Bishop or Archbishop in all things lawful and honest).
Secondly, if a differentiation, a parting of the ways, is agreed there would be a need to agree what doctrines should be believed and preached by members of the ‘orthodox’ group resulting from that parting of the ways. It would be insufficient just to believe the orthodox doctrines on sex and marriage. That would include people who are right about sex and marriage but wrong about Original Sin and the need to preach the terrible warnings.
I agree with you that judgement matters, as Justin Welby mentioned in his sermon at the Queen’s funeral.
But your reading here is a strong form of Augustinian original sin, and respectable, biblical evangelicals don’t all agree with your reading.
Are you willing to debate the exegesis of Romans 5:12-21 with me and discuss what Article 9 means? And which “respectable, biblical evangelicals” are you referring to please?
Nor do respectable biblical Anglo Catholics.
Are you willing to debate as per my challenge to Ian?
There is no need to listen to high levels of generality, only to conversation partners who can go into detail and specifics.
I am not accusing you of bowing the knee to Baal (as you know I agree with you on many things) and perhaps there are not 7,000 “respectable, biblical evangelicals” who agree with me on the doctrine of original sin, but surely there must be some – in Church Society and CEEC for instance. I am surprised that they do not speak up on this thread and support me. I wonder why.
Why don’t they speak up Philip? Because, of late, the comments here have been dominated by a few eccentric voices from the extremes, I am sorry to say.
If my view on original sin is an “eccentric voice(s) from the extremes” then indeed “Only I am left…..”! I cannot believe that is the case. So why don’t those who agree with me post here and say so?
Phil I do think yours is a very minority position. And quite extreme. But I do admire your persistence!
Why would it matter that it was minority? Every pioneering thinker is in a minority of one, for example, but how is that a disadvantage? It just means that no-one else understands as fully as they do.
And as for ‘extreme’, the same applies. It would matter to people who are concerned only about how they look socially, but to people of integrity, researchers and truth seekers it would matter not a whit. Who would want to be found in the former category rather than the latter?
“Phil I do think yours is a very minority position. And quite extreme.”
I pray that you and others who share your view will one day join that minority by the merciful breath from heaven.
Words of Jesus to the Pharisees and Scribes in the act of (legally) stoning an adulterer: –
“Which of you has not sinned; let him throw the first stone”. Surely Christianity is more about Salvation and Redemption than about Hell and Punishment? This is GOSPEL- Good News!
Ron, what about same-sex parenting?
Are you in support of gay men adopting children or lesbians bringing up childen (perhaps conceived through sperm donation or maybe the children of the woman’s former husband, as is more usually the case) in homosexual households?
Your bishop Peter Carrell is opposed to same-sex parenting but hasn’t explained why.
Maybe you can ask Peter his reasons, as well as explaining why you think it’s a good (or bad) idea.
(For the record, we know from your own words in your blog that you identufy as a celibate gay in your affections, and have been married to a widowed woman for many years and helped bring up her children, so you may have some interesting thoughts on the matter.)
James, you have asked this question: “Maybe you can ask Peter his reasons, as well as explaining why you think it’s a good (or bad) idea.”
Well, James, I am not so sure as you seem to be about Bishop Peter’s deep-felt ‘objection’ to S/S parenting. I’m not prepared to ask him just to satisfy your own curiosity. However, here are my thoughts on the subject.
1: Although intrinsically gay people may not be disposed towards (or even capable of) becoming biological parents, many who seek a stable fulfilling relationship with a S/S partner are still naturally disposed towards the nurturing of children as a family. Most gay people are not predators or paedophiles, but are naturally kindly disposed towards children. (I happen to be one of these adoptive parents)
2: So many children in our world are either abandoned by the birth parent(s), orphaned, or even the children of abusive, heterosexual, parents; that they might be glad of the chance to receive the care of two partnered gay people who are in a stable relationship and actually want to care for children as part of that. (By the way
‘gayness’ can be neither caught nor taught – neither can it be ‘converted’ into heterosexuality; it is an unbuilt characteristic) “Eunuchs from their mother’s womb”
3: In the case of surrogates; this is not necessarily solely a ‘gay’ prospect, so that, like their heterosexual equivalent, gay people might be sufficiently motivated to resort to IVF (or even to seek a willing, suitable, surrogate parent, to provide a child for them to cherish and care for. (After all, St. Joseph was a surrogate parent to Jesus! – and this was all the work of the Holy Spirit).
4. As for ‘single parenting’. This is not just a prospect for gay people. There are many more children cared for by single parents who are heterosexual (mostly single women but sometimes also single men) but who, for some reason, have no live-in spouse. I think, James, that even you might not want such single people to be ostracised from their community. Surely, one parent is better than no parent at all. Not everyone can be brought up in an ideal 2-parent environment. Does this mean they cannot have the benefit of being part of the Church? What would Jesus say about this? As for the supposed need for opposite-gender parenting. Paul said, ‘In Christ, there is neither male nor female’. Nothing is impossible for God! After all, orphans used to be housed and looked after by all-female religious communities, and some dads may not be ideal parents, not to mention mothers, but perhaps less so.
Father Ron Smith – a good comment – and if you could accept that same-sex carnal activities are sinful, then there might be some room for agreement. All have sinned. Furthermore, there is a concept of `besetting sin’; long after we have come to salvation, we keep sinning – and some are unable to escape from the sins of their former life.
The person who sees the Sermon on the Mount as something eschatological – as something too high and too hard for this life, which will only be seen in us in the next life, has understood it far better than someone who considers it to be an attainable blue-print for day to day living in this life.
There is another important idea (which I got from Brunner – might have been his `Divine Imperative’ – but I can’t remember) sometimes one is forced into one sin in order to prevent an even greater sin (e.g. if one finds oneself married to a drunken maniac – and finds that one has to get a divorce in order to protect the children from violence).
I think it is quite clear that the Holy Writ tells us that same-sex carnal activities are sin – and when the Holy Writ tells us that something is sin, one invariably discovers that it is extremely bad for the perpetrator of the sin (and not just the victim).
I wonder if there is some way to accept gay couples, engaged in same-sex carnal activities, while (at the same time) recognising that what they are doing is clearly sin. It is displeasing to God and is also clearly bad for them – nevertheless, there is more than a hint of hypocrisy within us if we don’t recognise that we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God – and I include everybody who has been brought to Salvation.
The question of same-sex couples bringing up children has been introduced into this thread. While this seems to me to be all wrong, I also see heterosexual couples, who put young children out to pre-schools from 7 am to 5 pm so that both parents can go out to work, without being bothered by their children. This (in my book) is a very serious form of child abuse – and may well be worse than being brought up by two boys or two girls who are actually spending time with the children.
So you agree, Jock, that same-sex couples should not be raising children.
This is what Peter Carrell believes as well, but he has never explained why.
What does Ron Smith think about same-sex parenting? Is this a godly model for a Christian family?
Do you agree with your bishop and can you explain why?
Or do you think Peter is wrong on this?
Over to you, Ron!
James – in principle they probably shouldn’t be, but there are counter examples. I know of one same-sex couple (two men) who adopted a child, who was an orphan and having an unpleasant time in an orphanage. The child, by the time the adoption took place was already psychologically damaged – and it’s quite clear that a normal couple looking for a normal family would never have adopted this child, but the two men were able to accommodate this – and it seemed to work reasonably well. Not ideal, but better than the alternative.
So, on the whole, I agree that it shouldn’t be the norm – but there are examples where it was better than the alternatives available.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
Do you believe Jesus said these words? If you do, don’t we all need to hear these terrible warnings as well as the wonderful invitations and promises to repent and believe?
Jesus also said: “I came into this word to save, not the righteous, but sinners”. It may have been because he saw the righteous as not considering their own need of salvation from Jesus, being content with their own standard of holiness.
It seems to me, Philip, that you arrogating to the ‘sins’ of gay people as being more in need of chastisement that what Jesus saw as the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees. It so happens that Jesus was more forgiving of the sin of a prostitute than he was of those who sought to legally stone her to death for HER sins – while they, themselves were sinning against one of the Ten Commandments, which have nothing to say about gays
“I also see heterosexual couples, who put young children out to pre-schools from 7 am to 5 pm so that both parents can go out to work, without being bothered by their children. This (in my book) is a very serious form of child abuse – ”
Jock, I tend to agree with you but they do have a mother and father conceived between the parents, so your comment is somewhat tangential to the issues that arise on SS parenting. I think you do not reside in the UK? – but here -the business and domestic economies are now geared to two parents working and have been so for a while so for many parents, they simply have no choice but to both go out to work to make ends meet.
Now that the current UK government has screwed up the economy even more, then the need for both parents to work has increased to the further detriment of family life.
Considering that households could much more easily survive on just one salary in *less* prosperous times (sic), this development is regress and an assault on family life (surprise…). And the tax/benefit system has been geared to couples living apart not together. Eeuch.
This and Jock’s comments ignore the reality of buying or renting property for a family. Try being a married couple who are, say, a teacher and a nurse in London. Two essential professions. Their joint salaries would probably raise a mortgage of around £200,000 – £300,000. Have you tried buying a house for a family in London on such terms? It isn’t possible, unless the couple have considerable savings or help from family. Then take one of the salaries away so that either the mother or father can commit to full time parenting. The maths don’t add up.
Andrew – there are many people for whom what you say is true. Equally, there are large numbers for whom it is false. I take my own six year old to his pre-school every day at 9am and pick him up at 3.30pm, but there is only one other family that does this; the others leave their children for long days.
And these people are not exactly poor. Children get taken to the pre-school in – well, I’ve seen a Ferrari, two Porches, several BMWs and a large number of fancy 4 wheel drives. In this case, we’re talking about couples who need two salaries so that they can make ends meet and on top of that run two (or more) large fancy cars, go on expensive exotic holidays each year, change perfectly reasonable kitchens and bathrooms once every 10 years, etc …..
What you say is true of many, but there are lots of counterexamples.
And sadly the gap between those who are excessively rich and those who are in professions like teacher or nurse has got considerably wider under successive conservative governments. It was set to get wider still with the scrapping of the higher rate of income tax.
Andrew Yes – I agree. Furthermore, from what I have seen, those who are excessively rich really have no idea about the important things when it comes to looking after their children. They don’t put their excessive wealth to good use.
It’s not the reality, it is the reality purely for feminist societies which demand a 2 salary set up and pure exhaustion and no chance to have family time.
It’s the current reality. You can’t afford a house in London if you are a married couple one of whom is a nurse and one is teacher and one of you would like to be a full time parent.
It’s always been the reality for a vast proportion of the population. Only the gentry, and then increasingly the middle classes, could afford to have one parent at leisure to bring up the offspring – or farm them out to wet nurses. Working class people and the peasantry have always worked. Now, even the middle classes need two incomes to support a family.
It’s that ‘increasingly the middle classes’ that is the nub. That means a lot of people. Good.
Yeah, well blame neoliberal politics. Not feminism. Not permissiveness.
You know what, I’m sick of this. I work FULL-TIME and my wife 3 days a week. We have 2 children,one at school and one at nursery.I’ve skipped all meals today so far because I want my youngest to eat because we have no money until tomorrow when our universal credit is paid!!!! 1/
Posted from Twitter.
People skimp on food buying because there is (they hope) always some way of ingeniously getting free/cheap food. Whereas here is no way of ingeniously getting a free mobile or TVs or car. And these are much more expensive anyway. Millions of ‘poor’ people have plenty of these incredible machines, which surely make any owner rich.
So Penny you are saying that without feminism there would still be a 2 full salary norm?
This is disproven by there not being one in non feminist societies.
The reason poor people have mobiles is that they cannot claim benefits or educate their children without one.
The reason poorer people can’t afford houses is that they are selling at inflated prices. Which is super for old people like myself, but disastrous for the young families you say you care so much about.
The reason people skip meals and go to food banks is that, even with two salaries, low paid workers cannot afford food and fuel.
The reason some people have cars is that public transport is so shit they can’t get to work or school without one.
The reason people have TVs is that they are relatively cheap and they certainly can’t afford the cinema, the theatre or to go to see sports.
The reason why you spout right wing rhetoric when you claim to be a follower of Jesus … is a mystery.
Please take your personal spat elsewhere. I don’t see how any of this discussion relates to the post at all.
And, yes of course there would still be a two wage norm. My grandparents and parents both needed to work to survive. We didn’t all have nannies.
You’ve hit a raw nerve there, Christopher: a matter of paramount priorities and nurture, not politics?. (It could be a way to de-centre and de-capitalise the Capital). Boarding school anybody? We’ve not mentioned that, yet on our drift.
Nonsense. Houses used to cost 3 x an average salary. Now they cost 7 x times an average salary. Less prosperous is chimerical.
The principle the Courts have used is putting the best interest of the child first, of primary, *paramount* importance, rather than the desires and interests of the adults. That could cover Jock’s point re fostering and adoption.
I should add that was 25 years ago! And I don’t know the current law in England.
How would the *paramount* principle be applied to other situations mentioned above and queried, and unanswered, of Peter, Ron and David?
In response to your last comment/reply to me, a long way above (so appended here), I will make one further comment, but it will be my last in this thread – it has been good to be part of this discussion but there are now so many comments that it is a time challenge to keep track, let alone respond to any which mention me 🙂
[Ian’s comment from above] Hi there Peter. Could you explain what your ‘solution’ looks like? What is the ACNZ’s actual doctrine of marriage?
I agree with yu: unity among Christians is faithful witness to Jesus. The test of our faithful witness in this cultural moment relates strongly to issue in sexuality, since the Zeitgeist appears to believe that our sexuality defines us, that we ‘have’ bodies, and that human happiness is found in acting out our desires. These are the convictions which appear to have shaped the massive and rapid shift in approaches to sexuality in the last couple of years. I don’t think those convictions are compatible with the teaching of Jesus.
But again, your posing of the problem, ‘how to receive, respond to and pray for such couples’, bypasses the central question: are such sexual relationships sinful or not? C of E doctrine, indeed what Belousek notes is the ‘doctrine of the church catholic, what, until this generation, everyone, everywhere in every branch of the Christian faith has believed’ is that, yes, such relationships are sinful. This is rooted in the majority consensus of reading the teaching of Jesus and the rest of Scripture.
If that is the case, then your question is similar to the question about other issues we might be faced with. How should we receive, respond to, and pray for people who have a fierce temper, who are greedy and acquisitive, who feel a compulsion to steal, and so on?
Until you can make the case for sexual morality being adiaphora, a thing indifferent, in contradiction to the repeated teaching of the NT and the whole of Scripture, or you can find a way to tell us why the texts say the opposite of what the majority consider, I am unclear why the question you pose is so different.
And so, again, I ask you: how do you see the grace and mercy of Jesus at work when he meets those engaged in sexual activity outside faithful male-female marriage? And why should his model not be our practice? [End of Ian’s comment from above]
Response from me:
1. ACANZP has not changed one word of its formularies on marriage (its General Synod agreed marriage services) or statements in its canons on marriage (which clearly refer to marriage between a man and a woman).
2. ACANZP has changed its canon on discipline to make clear that any teaching on marriage as traditionally understood, including teaching that same sex sex is immoral, is permitted, may not incur discipline; and, conversely, that any teaching supporting the blessings of same sex civil marriages is permitted, may not incur discipline.
3. Similarly, a bishop may permit, on application, a priest to conduct the blessing of a civil marriage, but need not, and shall not incur discipline for so permitting, or for so refusing. [In my diocese I have said that I will grant such permission where I am satisfied that the unity of the ministry unit concerned will not be disrupted by such a blessing taking place. In practice that means that barely a handful of parishes would host such a blessing,]
4. To further support the position of ministry units (e.g. Conservative ones concerned about their “progressive” bishop or progressive ones concerned about their “conservative” bishop), we have legislated to provide for “communities” to be established where by individuals and ministry units can combine to be a community of like-mindedness, and, the most critical feature, any new vicars to be appointed to a ministry unit belonging to such community must either belong already to the community or be willing to sign that they agree with the values of that community. The local bishop still appoints but the bishop must accept that the process for appointment is so constrained. In English terms this is not the same as a scheme for flying bishops etc; but each such community has a “bishop protector” who is available to support the community. (There are more details, e.g. Re how a ministry unit chooses to belong to such community, but I’ll stop.)
Clearly the above schema was not acceptable to a dozen or so congregations (or parts thereof) who disaffiliated from our church in 2018. Clearly the above schema has, so far, proved acceptable to the majority of Anglicans who stayed. That acceptability in part or even in whole is due to the range of views in our church, including in most of our parishes, cathedrals and schools (“ministry units”).
I’ll start a new comment re “adiaphora.”
In continuation, Ian:
The discipline re sexual immorality in ACANZP changes and doesn’t change due to our 2018 decisions.
What doesn’t change is that unfaithfulness in marriage (between a man and a woman, between two people of the same sex) is wrong = adultery; nor, of course, does anything change re sexual harassment or abuse [indeed, in the light of our recent Royal Commission on Abuse, at our next General Synod session in a few weeks time, we are expanding and clarifying our canonical definition of abuse].
Bearing in mind that (i) different teaching on sexual immorality re same sex sexual relationships is permitted; (ii) that different dioceses may choose to operate to different standards within the legislation, the effective adiaphora in our church (at least in my understanding) is that we offer the possibility of supporting couples who commit to each other for the remainder of their natural lives and refrain from condemning (from the perspective of discipline) as immoral such couples who are same sex couples.
Effectively, we are saying (in my words, others might express it differently) that we [the whole church, from the perspective of discipline, different individuals will have different views] do not view a civil marriage between two people of the same sex as sinful, as the same as (e.g.) casual sexual encounters, promiscuous sexual habits, adulterous affairs. I would go a little further, myself, noting that in 1 Tim 1 “arsenokoites” occurs in a list which includes criminal behaviours: we (effectively) are saying we do not see permanent, loving commitment in a civil marriage as akin to criminal behaviour.
Are we, so to speak, giving in to the zeitgeist? Obviously the zeitgeist has blown through our society (in the mid 1980s re removed sodomy as a criminal offence; more recently we approved “civil unions” and more recently still, civil marriages between two people of the same sex), but that zeitgeist means we are now a society where there is less fear when individuals face who they are as sexual beings and choose to identify as homosexual; thus there are open conversations, in families, in churches about the diversity of human experience among us. In short, facing the truth that we are not all heterosexual, we are also asking, what then for the raw truth of human life that, heterosexual or homosexual, we seek sociality, intimacy, love, domesticity?
My question (generally, I am not looking for a reply, because I must withdraw from this thread, as noted above) is, why are homosexuals asked to bear the burden of resistance to the zeitgeist when heterosexuals are not (insofar as heterosexuals not yet married always have hope that one day marriage will occur)?
One more thought: is it helpful to press for “is X sinful or not sinful or adiaphora?” In my understanding of remarriage after divorce (with a few exceptions), some of us think that is adultery, some of us do not, and some of us are simply not sure; but no Anglican I am aware of, anywhere in the world, has made this difference of view a cause for thinking which seems destined to lead to schism. Why press the button on homosexuality alone?
‘we [the whole church, from the perspective of discipline, different individuals will have different views] do not view a civil marriage between two people of the same sex as sinful.’
Indeed. So how did you come to that conclusion? I think the vast majority of commentators, on both sides, think Scripture is clear and consistent: same sex sex is sinful, since it is sex outside male-female marriage.
Paul’s list in 1 Tim 1.9 isn’t of *criminal* behaviours; it is of behaviours contrary to God’s command. The same is true in 1 Cor 6.9. Jesus is emphatic that marriage is between one man and one woman; and there is not the slightest hint that Jesus questioned Jewish absolute rejection of same-sex sex. Paul is merely making that explicit.
So the question is: on what grounds did you decide that same-sex sex is not sinful?
‘why are homosexuals asked to bear the burden of resistance to the zeitgeist when heterosexuals are not (insofar as heterosexuals not yet married always have hope that one day marriage will occur)?’
There is no reason they should be. Many heterosexuals will not or cannot marry, particularly Christian single women; and we certainly need to ensure that we apply biblical sexual ethics consistently.
I am very grateful to +Peter for bringing his reflections and experience to this thread. The principle the CofE has been working with is to discuss ‘with’, not ‘about’. He has brought a ‘with’ into a discussion that would otherwise have been mainly a rehearsal of strongly conservative convictions ‘about’.
+Peter’s sharing of the way the church in New Zealand has moved forward is helpful and timely for us in the CofE. I like the ‘opt in’ option. I also share the determination in all the provisions to honour the integrity of all. I hear a way forward.
He has also consistently appealed for more, what he calls, ‘pastoral empathy’ when it comes to the demands conservative convictions must impose on gay people and their lives. I agree. One familiar claim that ‘plenty of people can’t/don’t marry’ fundamentally lacks this empathy.
Both strongly committed Christians.
Both single and faithfully chaste in life.
Neither have sense of a charism to celibacy. Being alone is ‘not good’ for either of them.
Both long, pray and hope to find a life partner.
But there the similarity ends.
For one is heterosexual. Their desires, even unfulfilled, are affirmed as good and God given. They have the love and support of their church and shared joy would be unambiguous if they found someone. They are free to marry if/whenever they fall in love.
The other is gay. They hear their desires and longings condemned as sinful and unbiblical. They are told marriage is closed to them. Even impossible. They are told they must live unpartnered for their entire lives.
I can assure you there is no comparison.
I have only returned here because +Peter returned to say more and I want to say thank you once again.
Some of us think it is adultery, and some do not.
For example, Jesus thinks it is adultery, and those disagreeing with Jesus do not.
Evidence please for Jesus stating that a faithful sane-sex relationship is adultery.
The topic was adultery. However, the biblical references give no significance to whether one or multiple man/men is slept with. Or if they do, show me where.
Thanks. And good idea to start a new thread.
‘1. ACANZP has not changed one word of its formularies on marriage … any teaching supporting the blessings of same sex civil marriages is permitted, may not incur discipline.’
I hope you won’t mind me being direct: if you have a doctrine, but you have removed any obligation to teach that doctrine, and there is no discipline for people contradicting that doctrine, it is no longer a doctrine.
You have changed your doctrine of marriage, by the back door, and changed it to being sexless. Why not just be honest and say that?
In doing so, you have separated people from their sexed bodies in relation to marriage, and so contradicted the central premise of marriage in scripture, in the teaching of Jesus, in Paul, and in all the Christian tradition until now: that marriage is between one man and one woman.
I fail to see how this is a ‘compromise’! You have changed your doctrine!
You could have a situation where a substantial membership of a Province disagree with a particular doctrine, but specific doctrinal change gets blocked (I don’t know the rules in NZ).
If bishops know that, say, half their flock believe differently, surely there’s a case for ‘allowing’ the other point of view and practice, as an ‘accommodation’. For example here in England, 34% of General Synod could block the current doctrine ever being changed, even if more than 50% actually believed in a different doctrine. At that point, if the Bishops decide that pastorally there is a case for accommodation and inclusion of diverse views, they might not be able to stop the 34% blocking removal of previous doctrine on a technicality of process, but they could ‘allow’ other ‘serious theological’ positions (to coin Justin’s phrase) and simply decline to sanction local church communities who practise the less ‘conservative’ theology… effectively accommodating both views ‘de facto’… until such time as the 34% come to an accommodation.
It’s reasonable, in pastoral terms, not to impose one (arguably less supported) view and conscience on the (arguably growing or even majority) view and conscience of the other group. That respect for conscience may be the persuasive argument after LLF, and also a way of coming to an accommodation which enables churches to move on, and focus more on all the other pastoral issues and human needs of our communities. It’s possible that most Christians in most parishes want our shared life in the Church of England to continue, and that a majority in the middle, rather than the vociferous extremes, may prefer to accommodate, to show respect for diverse consciences, to focus on other issues instead of sex.
Clearly there has been a logjam in the C of E on the sexuality issue for about 50 years, and bishops can’t really let a minority (hypothetically as few as 34%) block change indefinitely, at the expense of the consciences and pastoral concerns of possibly the majority. At some stage, the reality of the divided doctrinal views in our Church have to be recognised as reality, and (again picking up on Justin’s words at the Lambeth Conference) a time may come for ‘allowing’ de facto diverse practice (withholding sanctions, simply allowing gay blessing by doing nothing) if the real range of beliefs in the C of E are blocked by just one part of the whole.
Given the perception of many but not all, that the ‘conservative’ status quo demeans and marginalises our daughters, our neighbours, our colleagues… theologically vilifying their precious, sacrificial and intimate love… bishops may decide after LLF that a time for accommodation has come. That’s for them to decide. Synod cannot resolve that because there’s deadlock. So it falls to the bishops to decide whether they at least allow a ‘de facto’ arrangement, based on ‘allowing’ parishes who wish to bless and affirm gay partnerships to do so without sanction.
Let the ‘conservative’ local churches hold to the continuing doctrine if they wish to, but not impose it on everyone else.
Of course, at that point, I regard it as essential that the consciences of those ‘conservative’ churches are also protected in terms of the right to preach the ‘conservative’ views. Respect for the right to conscience has to work both ways. As Justin said in the Human Dignity intro, both sets of theological views are serious and coherent in their own ways. And as many bishops have said to me in private correspondence, in the end, some kind of ‘Unity in Diversity’ approach somewhat along the lines of the Scottish model (and as insinuated by Justin) may have to be pursued, because the situation in the Church of England has become pastorally unsustainable, and harm being done both to church life and to individuals. So ‘allow’ both theological positions on human sexuality as a working arrangement. Whatever possible other way is there that can square the circle, break the logjam, end the face-off, and the endless endless rancour when one group tries to impose and dominate another group, and insist on only their way? We need grace and love, and the maturity to patiently co-exist. Which grace and love extends to you of course.
[not replying further to anyone on this except Ian or Andrew Goddard, because those are my self-imposed rules here… maximum of 3 posts… some here have exceeded 30 posts on this topic, policing countless posts by other people, and that’s not a game I choose to play]
Why would it be policing? For me it is making sure no fallacies or contradictions get through the net, which is the surest way to get closer to truth, which is an extremely good aim.
Susannah: Impose dominate. That is somewhat rich from imposed revisionist’s doctrine contrary and
infallibly contradictory to unchangeable scripture and extant doctine, as it rushes headlong to break the (natural), logic *law of non contradiction*.
And Scotland is a particularly poor and odious example, as we shall see, wether the church seeks to stand against proposed legislation which none the face of it would by secular law make illegal preaching/ teaching from the scriptures therebye imposing the revision sought. Its cultural and religious colours will be visibly pinned to the mast.
It take Susannah that you would stand alongside all who would oppose such legislation?
One question I might ask here – especially of Ian our Host and any other resolutely heterosexual antigay commenter: “What, do you think, was the reason for some of the early Jewish converts to Christianity’s criticism of Gentile converts not needing to be circumcised? Was it anything to do with the fact that Gentiles were then conceived by faithful Jews to be sexual perverts needing the painful reminder that sex isn’t everything?”
It does seem that Con/Evo Christians are more concerned about sex than Gospel evangelisation.
Ron Smith, I asked you, as a self-described man with SSA yet married to a widow with children whom you helped to raise, whether you agreed with same-sex parenting: is it good or bad for children (since childrearing is central to the mesning of marriage).
You haven’t answered that, so I would be glad of your answer.
Your bishop Peter Carrell disapproves of same-sex parenting (but has not said why). Is he wrong on this, or “anti-gay”?
This is small beer compared to the proposed legislation in Scotland. Are those of the revisionist party prepared to be complicit and compliant and supportive of the legislation, or oppose to enable two systems that they support?
Ron Smith (in a comment above, October 12) thinks homosexual couples should indeed bring up children.
He thinks it makes no difference emotionally or developmentally to a child whether he/she is brought up by two men or two women in a same-sex relationship; that is, Ron Smith thinks it is quite all right intentionally to deprive a child of their biological mother (or father) and doesn’t think this could have bad psychological effects on the child.
Ron Smith doesn’t think being brought up in such an environment would effect the sexual development of a child either because he believes (without evidence, just his conviction) that sexual affections are fixed at conception. How does Ron know this?
Ron has evidently never studied the research of Professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas on the poor outcomes for children raised by same-sex parenting.
Ron Smith has no understanding of psychosexual development, principally because he believes (without any evidence, as the journalists say today) that his own homosexual affections are genetic and not childhood-developmental. Ron’s belief in “intrinsic homosexuality” is nonsense, without empirical basis and much that contradicts the idea, Many years of genetic research into the idea of “gay genes” have failed to establish this (not for want of trying), and twins research refutes it.
Ron thinks that a couple of rich men, like US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his “husband” Chasten paying thousands of dollars surogate mother to bear a baby for them is a good thing. Most Christians think thst is shameful.
Ron’s own bishop, Peye Carrell, strongly supports same-sex partnerships – or strongly opposes them, depending on which parish he is visiting – but is against same-sex parenting and cannot explain why.
Such is the incoherent mess of New Zealand’s fast declining Anglican Church, which has been deeply influenced by the American Episcopal Church in its downward trajectory.
As to bad pyschological effects on the child, these are as deep and fundamental as it is possible to be. The child has been compelled to be separated from their dearest all because of adult selfish whims, and these adults then justify themselves (are their own judge and jury).
But they are compounded by the bad effects on both parents
and all the family
and everyone who knows them.
This is true – and Ron Smith is in denial.
By his own admission – something Ron has repeatedly stated in his blog and on Peter Carrell’s – he married his wife (although not sexual attracted to women) so that her children could have a father or male figure in their life. Thatis good. But why did it matter for them to grow up with a representative father figure if such a thing is not part of healthy, God-intended nurture?
It is utterly selfish – and wicked – intentionally to deprive a child of his/her birth parent to satisfy one’s own desires. So many children today have a deep psychological wound from not knowing their natural parents.
Whst would Jesus say Ron?
That a child is not a commodity.
And does anyone seriously believe that a child brought up in a homosexual environment would not suffer sexual confusion him- or herself and have conflicted feelings toward a heterosexual identity?
Ron Smith and Peter Carrell need to read Mark Regnerus.
Perhaps Fr Ron has read this https://mdpi-res.com/d_attachment/ijerph/ijerph-19-05922/article_deploy/ijerph-19-05922.pdf?version=1652422326 rather than the flawed research of the ideologically driven Regnerus. Didn’t his university distance itself from his research?
And Queer theorists are driven by what? Butterfield, a strident high profile Queer theorist is a before and after example of conversion to Christ.
Bit of a non sequitur Geoff. But I’m a queer theologian and a Christian. So, go figure.
You are not “queer”, Penelope, but your theology is heterodox and uncatholic. You don’t understand what classical theology is the service of the Word of God. That is why you are always attacking evangelicals and catholics, then getting offended when you are challenged for your heterodox opinions by the actual theologians here.
Theology isn’t what you think it is. It is the Church working out the meaning of God’s Revelation.
You are quite right James. I am not queer. I am a white, cishet, middle-aged/elderly, educated, middle-class woman. The sort you see on every CoE pew.
I am also not (according to a queer trans man) a queer theologian, since that would be appropriating an identity I don’t own.
So, I am a theologian who works in the fields of queer theology and queer theory. I am probably heterodox in some areas, but fully orthodox in others – rooted in Nicene Christology.
You are right again that I am not an evangelical. I am a Catholic.
I am not offended by intelligent challenge. I am offended by context, abuse and othering.
Fortunately, you are neither my judge, nor my external examiner.
Have a good day.
Sorry, I am offended by contempt. Not often offended by context.
But this allows me to add that there aren’t many theologians here. Biblical scholars but not theologians.
And, once again, I agree, theology is the working out of God’s revelation to humankind. My concern is that we are aware that God is not a cishet, white man of the global North. Especially since They emerged in and were incarnate in Western Asia.
Forgive the aside, but did you (Penelope) happen to see or hear Alex Clare-Young’s presentation at the theology slam final a little over a week ago?
I profoundly disagreed with a great many things Alex said, but the plea to stop talking about people as objects, to be categorised and assessed, was heartfelt and the presentation itself was clear and competent. I thought it quite a useful display of what queer theology looks/sounds like, and have recommended a few people watch it for that reason.
One of the main problems discussions like these (i.e the ones in the comment sections of blogs) have is that the most vocal only interact with the parody version of their opponents position.
So sure, I don’t agree with much of either the premise of the conclusion of some queer theology, and this isn’t an invitation to my fellow conservative evangelicals to ‘dogpile’ Alex, but I do think we all owe it to each other to avoid generalising about things. 🙂
Thanks for injecting a bit of sanity here Mat.
Thank you. No, I didn’t. But I have read an article of Alex’s and a chapter in a collection of essays about ‘othering’ and they are both troubling and excellent.
Perhaps you would expect me to say this, but I find that the con evo ‘side’ caricatures and ‘others’ more than the so-called liberal ‘side’. I find David Runcorn and Peter Carrell to be eirenic. James, Geoff and Christopher Shell are often insulting. Sometimes I may deserve snippiness! But never David and Peter (or you).
And my replies to James’s accusations of ignorance and heterodoxy have been models of politeness 🙂
But it is absurd to think that those you disagree with represent ‘the evo side’. They represent nothing more than themselves. I don’t really know why you bother investing time and energy engaging with them. Your exchanges, between people at two ends of the spectrum, achieve nothing, since there appears to be little attempt on either side to seek to understand—as per the comments guidelines.
I didn’t claim that they were representative. But they are clearly conservative and present as evangelical. I agree that most replies are an expense of spirit in a waste of shame, but it was Geoff who introduced queer theory and James who peddled the ad homs when I replied that I am a queer theologian. I do have a right to reply to being told that am heterodox and no theologian. As do David Runcorn and Peter Carrell. Why do they engage with those at the other end of the spectrum? Or, as I asked you before, do you want this to be an echo chamber?
I am not trying to claim the moral high ground here, just to be clear about that. 😉 I have done my fair share of trolling, and thrown dirt around (to my shame) before now. Even here. But it is frustrating to see the same things repeated so often, and in the same ways, so I do agree with Ian; we can disagree profoundly, robustly even, but we must remain charitable to our opponents, even if we might think (perhaps with some legitimacy) that they are fools. Attaching a label to a person for the sole purpose of attacking that label is pointless.
RE the specific context here on Psephizo, I’d agree that the caricaturing in this thread is largely one-sided, but this is not always the case, and generally I think some commentators give as good as they get. And in the interest of balance, I think the opposite is true in other places. It’s a matter of perspective I guess. Twitter is by far the worst offender, with it’s echo-chamber that makes any dissenting/alternative opinion to the majority stand out like a sore thumb and be howled into obscurity.
What I really worry about is what the ‘silent observer’ of these comments might think…..
It is very odd that I am being characterised as conservative when I am as independent, intentionally fresh-thinking, and anti-ideological as they come.
I think the art of intelligent discourse and its loss in our contemporary era is nothing new. It seems to have existed in at least 1947 -except perhaps its now more amplified and prevalent.
Chris Bishop – thanks for this! It’s a lovely article – although I’m glad that nobody listened to her and that I (for one) didn’t have to study the Trivium (and all that it entails – especially rhetoric).
But I remember something from Bertrand Russell’s `History of Western Philosophy’ where he wrote (approximately) `in 363AD, Jerome went to Rome, where he studied rhetoric and sinned’ – so perhaps Dorothy Sayers is right – and to comment here one should, like Jerome, have a training in rhetoric together with some suitable informing life experience.
“It is very odd that I am being characterised as conservative when I am as independent, intentionally fresh-thinking, and anti-ideological as they come.”
Thanks for the laugh Christopher! I needed that this evening.
The experience of many who read your posts is that you are as conservative and ideological as they come. So you may not wish to present in that way, but it certainly comes across.
So if I am conservative as opposed to truth seeking why:
-do I regard natural conservation as the main political priority?
-am I an egalitarian, and also opposed to the blue/white collar mentality?
-do I think that the ‘credential’ of being old is (per se) utterly useless?
-do I emphasise the realities behind the biblical text more than the text itself?
-do I study each passage and author individually rather than making dogmatic generalisations?
-do I have a nature that balks at lying, and that therefore demands eclectic truth-seeking?
-am I opposed to Establishments and elites?
-am I not much of a capitalist?
-do I think that John the Apostle did not write the fourth gospel, or Revelation?
-do I think they have a common author, against the tide?
-do I date Matthew and Luke-Acts in the 90s?
-do I think that whether Rev be fulfilled or not is entirely down to ‘the proof of the pudding’?
-do I cite the same proof of the pudding for any text whatever?
-do I assign a fair bit of gospel material to the evangelists’ structures and templates?
-do I think that Matthew is very short on first hand eyewitness material?
-do I give higher status to philosophy of religion than to theology?
-do I think that Luke wrote the Pastorals and Polycarp’s hand can even be seen in small portions of them?
-am I convinced by a radically historical approach which correlates Rev 12-13 with astral phenomena and a colossal statue of the 60s, etc?
-do I date Mark after the fall of Jerusalem?
-do I disavow the traditional solution to the synoptic problem?
-do I think that when John wrote ‘the time is near’ he meant it?
-do I think Ephesians was not written to the Ephesians?
-do I call the Bible a library?
-do I call John the second gospel written?
-do I see John as an idealised gospel with an controlling interest in the integrity of his own system?
And why do you, who have heard me speak of most of these things, persist with your binary? Do you think people controlled by their biases and psychologies get far academically? It must disadvantage and hamper them, surely?
People don’t fit in 2 neat boxes.
Have you never realised, James, that the ‘The Word of God’ became ‘flesh’ – precisely so that we humans could identify, see, hear, and learn to know something of the loving, caring nature of our Creator? The Word was no longer entombed in a set of books written by human beings, but was actualised in the womb of Mary, who said ‘Yes’ to God, so that the world could be redeemed – not by words in as Book (holy though that book may be) but by the living, breathing, loving ‘Word of God’, himself. The Bible is words about God. Jesus was/is God.
There is a profound difference between Christology and Bibliolatry.
Probably Andrew’s confusion (apart from his not thinking that any of the 8bn peple in the world are honest and unbiased and expecting others to share this unlikely perspective) stems from his not having considered that by the law of averages if there are millions of issues in the world an honest person will, after examination of the evidence, reach, sometimes provisionally, what he classes as a ‘consertative’ conclusion on a certain percentage of these, which amounts to thousands of issues. He seems to be requiring that out of all the millions of issues it is inadmissible to reach such a conclusion for even one of them, even after examination of evidence.
“People don’t fit in 2 neat boxes.“
Exactly Christopher. So please stop your blanket referring to anyone who disagrees with you on anything as ‘liberals’.
Oh and please try to follow the humour in a post rather than taking everything literally.
Goodness, what *are* they teaching the children these days? Hmm?
But not everyone who agrees with me on any given topic is a liberal. Not by any means. And I have disagreed often with many who are not. Certainly I often point out flaws and inconsistency in that ideology. But how does that make other stances perfect?
You stated that “There is a profound difference between Christology and Bibliolatry.”
I think I get that statement and I do have some sympathy with it. The question that I would like to ask you if I may, is that if our Christology of Christ i.e. – our ‘source material’ about Christ, his teachings and his nature, comes from the Bible itself -where and how does Bibliolatry take place if the former necessarily depends on the latter?
In your mind how would you recognise it?
What was/were the flaw(s)?
Google is free.
The logic law of non- contradiction as exemplified and lived out by Butterfield, perhaps?
Taking a cue from Chris Bishop, consider : Dialectic; Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis; Contradiction; Marxist material dialectic; theory of falsification. (See link and elsewhere)
And apply to a discourse analysis of this debate, premises and scripture.
Geoff – the Karl Popper article is most enjoyable – many thanks for this. I hadn’t quite understood what `dialectic’ was supposed to mean before I read this.