Andrew Goddard writes: in my previous article, I explored the place of Lambeth I.10 in the Communion, mapped how different people and provinces had responded, and explored this as the background to the present controversy about the Lambeth Calls at this conference. I now turn to look at the Call on Human Dignity in detail, the changes that were made, and the impact this might have on the Communion’s future.
Lambeth Calls: Take One
On July 18th, a study document was released containing the text of 11 calls. Within this, in the call on Human Dignity, reference was made to Lambeth I.10. The introduction stated that, amongst other things, it was a call for “a reaffirmation of Lambeth I.10 that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman and requires deeper work to uphold the dignity and witness of LGBTQ Anglicans” (p 31). The key section (2.3, p 32) reads:
Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. It is the mind of the Communion to uphold “faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union” (I.10, 1998). It is also the mind of the Communion that “all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998).
This raised a number of questions, particularly for those committed to Lambeth I.10 and seeking for it to be reaffirmed:
- Why is the reference to “same gender marriage” rather than “same sex marriage”?
- What is meant by “the Anglican Communion as a whole” and “not permissible” given some parts of the Anglican Communion have clearly rejected this but the calls nowhere address the consequences of such actions despite the statement and decisions of the Primates in 2016 and there being a call on Anglican Identity (pp. 21-24)?
- Is there a difference between saying that “Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states” something and saying that something from Lambeth I.10 “is the mind of the Communion”?
- Why is only the part of the relevant clause from I.10 that refers to “faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union” quoted? Why not the opening that makes clear that this position is taken “in view of the teaching of Scripture” or the words that follow immediately after what is quoted – “and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”?
- Why is the clause that states “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex” not referred to anywhere?
- Why is this all discussed under “Human Dignity” rather than, say, in the call referring to discipleship?
Before these could be explored, however, those opposed to Lambeth I.10 (now dominated by “federal liberals” committed to “autonomous inclusivism”) began a major campaign, particularly through social media, to oppose any reaffirmation of it at all. Triggered it seems by a Facebook post from the Bishop of Los Angeles on July 21st, statements expressing pain and horror at the proposed call flooded in from LGBT Anglicans, pressure groups and their leaders, bishops from provinces who have rejected I.10, and a small number of Church of England bishops. Then, on July 24th, Bishop Kevin Robertson, who is a suffragan bishop in the diocese of Toronto and one of a number of bishops attending the Conference who is in a same-sex marriage, posted on Facebook that
as a member of the Human Dignity Call drafting group, I never agreed to this Call in its current form. At no point in our meetings did we discuss the reaffirmation of Lambeth I.10 at the Conference, and it never appeared in any of the early drafts of our work together. I can confidently say that the Human Dignity Call in its current form does not represent the mind of the drafting group, and I distance myself from the reaffirmation of Lambeth I.10 in the strongest possible ways. I also unequivocally reject the phrase within the Call, “It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible.” This statement is simply not true.
This raised concerns to a new level and led to a statement from the Chair of the Lambeth Calls Subgroup on July 25th which, while offering no explanation as to the process that had produced the call, accepted bishops could reject a call (an option not originally given and now enabling a full set of traffic lights in their voting – red as well as amber or green) and stated that, having “listened carefully to the responses of bishops to Lambeth Calls: Guidance and Study Documents”, “The drafting group for the Call on Human Dignity will be making some revisions to the Call”. The following day, July 26th, a new statement and new version of the calls was released where although changes were also reported in 3 other calls the focus was inevitably on Call 2.3 in the Call on Human Dignity.
Lambeth Calls: Take Two
The new wording is significantly different from the original:
Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.
To summarise the changes:
- “It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible” has been removed.
- This sentence has effectively been replaced with “Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception”. Although this uses the common language of “reception” it does so in an illegitimate way because, as The Windsor Report noted, “We should note, however, that the doctrine of reception only makes sense if the proposals concern matters on which the Church has not so far made up its mind. It cannot be applied in the case of actions which are explicitly against the current teaching of the Anglican Communion as a whole, and/or of individual provinces. No province, diocese or parish has the right to introduce a novelty which goes against such teaching and excuse it on the grounds that it has simply been put forward for reception” (para 69).
- “It is the mind of the Communion to uphold “faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union” (I.10, 1998) has been removed.
- “It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998)” has been retained and moved higher up the call.
- “As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues” has been added.
This proposed new wording, replacing statements of the mind of the Communion on matters of doctrine rooted in Scripture with descriptions of a plurality of practice across Communion provinces, stands in stark contrast not only to the whole approach derived from “communion Catholicism” and the Windsor process’ rationale. It tears up and replaces the understanding reached when the Primates met for the first time under Archbishop Justin as expressed in their 2016 statement. Their account is opposed in a number of crucial ways to that found in the call:
- Rather than simply offering a description of the situation by stating “Many provinces..other provinces” they said, “Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage”.
- They were clear, echoing the language of I.10 now removed from the first draft of the call, that “The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching”.
- Rather than claiming there has been “careful theological reflection and a process of reception” they 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”.
- Instead of simply stating “we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues” they stated a “unanimous desire to walk together” but noted that “All of us acknowledge that these developments have caused further deep pain throughout our Communion” and “Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships”.
- As a result, rather than doing nothing in relation to the life of the Instruments of Communion, they decided that “given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance” by “requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity”.
In what might provide significant background to some of the changes in the new draft call, the leading canon lawyer, Mark Hill, published a critique of the language of “the mind of the Communion” in the first draft of the call just before the new wording was released. In it he “seeks to expose the legal and ecclesiological illiteracy of the Call in general” by describing a significant change in the new edition of The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion to be launched at the Conference next week. What he writes of this document’s treatment of marriage, which has as far as I know has not been made public until now, is worth quoting in full and reading alongside the wording of the new call:
Significantly, the only matter on which it was unable to find a common principle concerned the nature and definition of marriage. Accordingly, the preamble to Part VI includes the following:
“The working groups operating under the auspices of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, as part of the revision process worldwide for this second iteration of the Principles, reported significant changes in some church laws with regard to whether two persons of the same sex may marry. As a result, there are now differences between the laws of the churches of the Communion on this point. Some churches provide only for marriage between one man and one woman. Some churches also provide for marriage between people of the same sex. Mindful of this difference, and of the principle of autonomy, it has not been possible to discern a common principle of canon law on who may marry whom.”
This is further expressed in the text of Principle 70 which declares that it was impossible to discern a common principle of canon law in this regard.
He then concludes that…
Since no common principle of canon law is discernible within the laws of each component Church in the Anglican Communion, no bishop, properly advised, can in conscience support a Call which purports to state that it is ‘the mind of the Anglican Communion’ that same-gender marriage is not permissible.
It is not possible to offer a full critique of this position here but two brief, initial comments can be made. Firstly, it is interesting that the revised Call is still willing to use the language of “it is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole” with reference to one part of Lambeth I.10. This is either inconsistent with Hill’s argument (as this is not a common principle of canon law and Hill’s claim that “The bishops who attend this year’s Lambeth Conference cannot possibly make statements declaratory of the mind of the Anglican Communion. At best they can declare the majority mind of the 2022 Lambeth Conference but nothing more” presumably applied also to the bishops attending in 1998) or it means that Lambeth Conferences can state the “mind of the Anglican Communion” but their statements cease to be accurate as soon as any province acts against that mind and exercises its autonomy to revise its canons, as has been done in recent years on marriage. This latter is clearly the total opposite of the ecclesiology underpinning the whole Windsor process and the logic of the actions and rationale of the Primates in 2016.
Secondly, the argument ignores the fact that the bishops in 1998, and possibly now in 2022, do not simply speak to the Communion on the basis of common principles discerned by canon lawyers. As I.10 makes clear explicitly in two places (neither of them cited in either version of the call) they were exercising their teaching authority as bishops in relation to the witness of Scripture. In the words of Rowan Williams, in his 2007 Advent letter, part of the role of bishops gathered at Lambeth is to recognise that the Conference is intended “not [as] a canonical tribunal, but neither is it merely a general consultation. It is a meeting of the chief pastors and teachers of the Communion, seeking an authoritative common voice”. The bishops collectively at Lambeth Conferences have, in part, always exercised what the original common principles of canon law described in these words: “The bishop must teach, uphold and safeguard the faith and doctrine of the church” (Principle 37.4). In the words of the proposed Covenant, the Conference “expresses episcopal collegiality worldwide, and brings together the bishops for common worship, counsel, consultation and encouragement in their ministry of guarding the faith and unity of the Communion and equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4.12) and mission” (3.1.4, italics added). While lacking legal authority in provinces, such teaching by the bishops gathered at Lambeth has been recognised to have significant moral authority in Anglican ecclesiology. Certainly in relation to the nature of marriage which is not simply a technical legal matter but “a matter of doctrine” it arguably has at least as much right to be viewed as representing “the mind of the Anglican Communion” (one might, learning from the 2003 Emergency Primates Statement more accurately say “as a body” rather than “as a whole”) as any judgments reached by a comparative study of provinces’ canons.
The New Call and Mapping The Communion
Alongside these changes to this Call it is also important, in locating where it seems we now are as a Communion in relation to the mapping set out earlier, to note aspects of two other calls.
Firstly, there is the shift in emphasis within the Anglican Identity call. The Covenant expressed our Anglican ecclesiology by speaking clearly (3.1.2) of “living ‘in communion with autonomy and accountability’” and being “enabled to be conformed together to the mind of Christ” as churches “bound together ‘not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference” and of the other instruments of Communion”. This was understood to entail a commitment on the part of each member church of the Communion “to have regard for the common good of the Communion in the exercise of its authority” (3.2.1) and “to act with diligence, care and caution in respect of any action which may provoke controversy, which by its intensity, substance or extent could threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission” (3.2.5). Little or nothing of this is clearly spelt out in the Call on Anglican Identity which only says “Each Province of the Anglican Communion is autonomous and called to live interdependently. Four Instruments of Communion exist and express Anglican interdependence”. It offers no discussion of recent difficulties or of the ecclesiology which shaped Windsor and the Covenant, simply claiming that the Anglican tradition “seeks faithfulness to God in richly diverse cultures, distinct human experiences, and deep disagreements”. This shift is perhaps why the new draft simply approves a plurality of contradictory beliefs and practices between provinces arising from disregard for the Communion’s common good and may also be an underlying factor in the whole move from resolutions to calls (as I discussed when this innovation was announced).
Secondly, the change between the first and second draft of the call on Human Dignity appears to reflect the Archbishop’s particular understanding of, and approach to, reconciliation which shapes the call on this subject. Detailed analysis and critique is not possible (Martin Davie has recently critically reviewed Archbishop Justin’s book and offers some comments in his evaluation of the initial draft of the calls) but two aspects are, I think, important. Firstly, the opening declaration (2.1) here begins with the astonishing statement that “We believe in God who is both three and one, who holds difference and unity in the heart of God’s being, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” and then connects this to ecclesiology by claiming “Our differences embodied in the Anglican Communion both challenge and deepen our experience of God in the other. As we join in God’s mission of reconciliation through Jesus and in the power of the Spirit, our differences are celebrated and redeemed, as we are made whole in the body of Christ. In that diverse whole, we more fully reflect the image of God”. The theological statement represents a serious, arguably heretical, error in relation to the doctrine of God while the ecclesiological application of this seems to make difference and diversity central without drawing any distinction between types of difference, particularly the difference between truth and error. This may help explain the new “Many…Other…” and “walking together…despite our deep disagreement” wordings in the Human Dignity call in relation to sexuality. Secondly, there is a call here for “the Archbishop of Canterbury and/or the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to begin a new conversation with the Churches of Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda seeking a full life together as an Anglican family of churches”. There is the question as to why these provinces are seen as the cause of the problem with no reference to those whose behaviour has meant they were in 2016 judged unable to participate in “a full life together” in the Communion. There can also be little doubt that the changes in relation to Lambeth I.10 and the lack of clarity as to what it means to have “a full life together as an Anglican family of churches” will simply confirm these churches in their analysis of the Communion’s failings and strengthen their resolve not to participate in the Instruments. The changes could well push many other provinces within GAFCON and the Global South to take a similar stance rather than continuing to be involved in the Instruments despite their deep concerns about the Communion’s direction.
The changes in the call relating to Lambeth I.10, placed alongside these other indicators, clearly shows that there is now, in effect, a wholesale abandonment of the historic understanding of the Anglican Communion and the framework this provided to Windsor and the Covenant for how to interpret and respond to the Communion’s difficulties in relation to sexuality. The relative silence in recent years (noted at in the previous article) in relation to both sexuality and ecclesiology was unlikely to survive the Lambeth Conference. The first draft of the calls, though weak and not without significant problems, was broadly pro-Lambeth I.10 and at least consonant with communion ecclesiology even if less consistently thought through and applied than by the Primates in 2016. In terms of the quadrants it was broadly communion conservative (though in a weaker form) while spacious enough for any remaining communion liberals. The backlash from federal liberals has, however, now led to a position which only really makes sense as a capitulation – by default if not by explicit intention or advocacy – to their position of “autonomous inclusivism”. The refusal to make any attempt to reaffirm Lambeth I.10 or to follow through on the logic of Windsor, the covenant and the 2016 statement means that if accepted the call effectively embeds within the Instruments the conviction that each province determines its own actions within its own jurisdiction in accordance with its own canons and constitution. It upholds the view that the Anglican vision of diversity, comprehensiveness and inclusion is such that other Anglican provinces should honour and respect those decisions and continue to include one another and maintain bonds of communion even where there are significant disagreements on matters of theology, ethics or practice between them.
From ‘communion Catholicism’ to ‘autonomous inclusivism’?
In 2016, the Primates, presided over by Archbishop Justin, effectively said, “there is Communion teaching and those who depart from it face consequences”. This call, if accepted by the Lambeth Conference presided over by Archbishop Justin six years later, effectively says “those who depart from Communion teaching will face no consequences”. In fact, it goes further and effectively states “the consequence of their ‘unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity’ is that they render the Communion as a whole lacking a teaching and they require all churches in the Communion to recognise a plurality of views which everyone has to accept within Communion life”. It is, I think impossible to see this as anything other than a shift from “communion Catholicism” to “autonomous inclusivism”.
The one defence of the new draft call that has some weight is that it is at least speaking honestly about our realities. The problem is that it does so in a paradigm diametrically opposed to that which the Communion has developed and worked with until now. One of the questions is whether Archbishop Justin and those who welcome this paradigm shift are willing to be honest that this is what they are in fact doing. Will they also articulate their own accounts of sexuality and ecclesiology and their relationship to each other more explicitly, and have they seriously considered the implications of all this for those – notably the Global South – who remain committed to communion Catholicism and the teaching of I.10?
The one sign of hope that this may yet be retrievable is the addition in the new draft which talks about “listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues”. The danger is that this is understood to entail acceptance of the revised call and its underlying “federal liberal” vision of autonomous inclusivism. If that is the case then the most likely outcome will sadly not be “the maximum possible degree” of communion. Those who remain committed to I.10 and communion Catholicism will give expression to that in what will, effectively, be parallel (and potentially even alternative) instruments such as those being developed already by the Global South. This will be portrayed by some in terms of “schism”. This would be grossly unfair. The Conference in effect, by embracing plurality, would have deprived them of the high degree of communion they had previously found through the Communion and the historic pattern of faith and order Anglicans have until now seen as what God wants for His church and necessary for visible unity. To seek to retrieve and restore and revitalise that is simply a matter of Christian obedience. As noted above, the danger is that investment in these new instruments will then lead more provinces to follow the path of those not at Lambeth and increasingly detach themselves from the Communion’s Instruments which, whatever good they may now do, no longer work for the life of communion they were created to nurture and deepen.
The better way of developing these words added to the new draft would be to recognise that we already accept in our ecumenical conversations that we should be “listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree” with fellow Christians. This is evidenced by the latest ARCIC report of 2018 being entitled “Walking Together On The Way: Learning to be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal”. What if we drew on this ecumenical perspective (some of which I sketched in 2017 pre-ARCIC) and, at this Lambeth Conference and after it, developed the 2016 acknowledgment that our walking together now takes place with “significant distance between us” not just ecumenically but as Anglicans? Is it not the case that, if we are to be honest and have integrity, we must now “formally acknowledge” this in our structures rather than simply fighting to determine whether those structures do or do not reaffirm I.10, do or do not abandon the understanding of what it means to be an Anglican Communion which we have developed?
This will mean addressing the questions around sexuality but not in isolation from addressing the different ecclesiological questions and visions which are inextricably interwoven with them. Attempting to address, let alone accept, diversity on sexuality as in the current draft without also addressing the diversity on ecclesiology, which means we have no shared understanding of what it means to be the Anglican Communion, will only worsen, not resolve, the problems.
In terms of the mapping of the Communion over the last two decades it does appear that most churches are falling into two of the four quadrants as convictions around sexuality and around the nature of communion have, for whatever reasons, coalesced. As noted, there are very few now who would be “communion liberals” who would wish to order the church in a manner contrary to Lambeth I.10 but refrain from doing so because they are committed to communion catholicity. Although there are a good number who might appear to be more “federal conservatives”, it does appear that those elements in GAFCON which have conscientiously stayed away from meetings of the Instruments would be willing (as would ACNA) to be part of a global fellowship shaped by the traditional Anglican vision of communion as is being developed by the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches. Most of the current Communion would therefore now be either “communion conservative” or “federal liberal” but the problem is that by opposing each other on both sexuality and ecclesiology it is impossible to find a form of global fellowship which could satisfy both of these. The danger now is that they will simply fight to the death to capture the current Communion structures with the loser either walking away or being expelled by the winner.
Why not instead consider how each of these squabbling siblings of historic Anglicanism might make some degree of peace and seek to keep as high a degree of communion as possible between two, visibly differentiated, global groupings? This could happen in a number of ways. As proposed in 2016, the current Communion could continue as the main body committed to I.10 and traditional communion ecclesiology with “federal liberals” having a different status within it. Alternatively, there can be one set of structures which is broader and looser but maintains some degree of communion among its member churches on the basis of a federation shaped by autonomous inclusivism and another set of structures which is smaller but deeper in relation to its communion and shared faith and mutual accountability and submission. In this latter situation one obvious question would be the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury and, related to that, the direction of the Church of England post-Living in Love and Faith. At the moment, it would appear the trajectory of this Lambeth Conference may be moving towards this second approach with Canterbury seeking to lead the first, looser and broader group and in so doing effectively ceding leadership of the other to the Global South and making all these questions particularly pressing within the CofE. This is not, however, the only option, let alone an inevitable outcome. There are alternatives as Ephraim Radner (here, with a response from Stephen Noll, and here) and I (here and here) sought to explore when the Conference was expected to meet in 2020.
My first real engagement with the Anglican Communion began 20 years ago this month when Wycliffe Hall, where I was a relatively new tutor in ethics, held a conference on the Future of Anglicanism. Following a call there from the then Primate of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez, I subsequently co-authored with Peter Walker, and the assistance of many readers, a contribution which we entitled True Union in the Body?. It sought to explore questions about sexuality (defending Lambeth I.10) and how to handle our differences over this (proposing as Windsor later did a moratorium and warning, sadly accurately, of the dangers if this was not implemented).
That title was purposefully a play on the language of “the body”. To an extent I had not then fully realised, it was the start of a conviction that these two question of the nature of true union in our created physical bodies (sexuality) and the nature of true union in the body of Christ (ecclesiology) are, in the travails of the Anglican Communion, themselves united to each other. When they gathered in 2008, the bishops of the Communion had a framework to help them seek to find a way forward but the details of that failed to be accepted. In 2016, the Primates of the Communion charted an alternative way forward, consistent with that framework. Now, in 2022, the bishops gathering at Lambeth have not been asked to work with that framework and the current calls appear to direct the Communion in totally the opposite direction.
There is the real risk that the tear in the fabric of the Communion which the Primates in 2003 rightly warned would happen, may now become even greater and finally rip the Communion into two separate, distinct ecclesial communions. We can only hope and pray that, as the bishops gather and pray and study Scripture and discuss, mindful that over 200 of their fellow bishops of the Communion (whose convictions on these matters are well known and so can be factored into the Lambeth deliberations) are already significantly separated, they will address honestly and theologically their differences over both sexuality and ecclesiology and be willing to be led by the Spirit rather than to continue to grieve the Spirit.
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.
71 thoughts on “Lambeth ‘Calls’, Lambeth I.10, and the nature of the Anglican Communion (2): the future”
Good morning, thank you again for another thorough explanation. Can you clarify something for me?
Who are the ‘Lambeth calls’ subgroup exactly (how did it come into being and who’s responsible for it?), and on what authority do they propose/change these things? It is baffling how a significant group can have gone from one agreed wording published on the 18th to a radically different one on the 26th. At best it is reactionary in response to the statements/comments from Toronto et al, at worst it smells like outright panic. Second to this, I cannot imagine that the subgroup were able to meet together and discuss proposed changes with a few days notice (we all know what churches are like, this is lightning speed if they did) so was this purely at the initiative of the chair, or was there a pre-prepared alternative statement to roll back to?
I follow the rest of your argument, concerning the responses and aftermath to the changed statement, but would appreciate more information (if you indeed you have any) about how these came to be in the first place.
That, Mat, is the right question. The chairs of the group were published, but not the members, nor any information about how they were composed.
The basic lack of transparency is both the cause and means of the confusion here.
As I have found all through the C of E, lack of transparency and accountability creates the opportunity for these kind of clandestine power plays.
Mat. Part of the problem is lack of transparency through all this. There is a Calls Group chaired by Bp Tim Thornton whose membership is public and a subgroup for each of the calls where only names given are Chair. It appears the Human Dignity subgroup agreed a call and before it was published someone added in 1.10 reaffirmation without telling subgroup. One member of subgroup then made this public. The Calls Group announced the text would then be revised and then released a revised text which it said came from the subgroup. Not sure that helps much but I think that’s all we have been told.
That answers my question, at least in so far as it clarifies what we do and don’t know.
A very frustrating time.
As you and Ian both suggest, the lack of transparency in the way things are being done is not acceptable – particularly so when it involves brother and sister Christians among whom one should be able to expect mutual respect and integrity to be of the highest standard.
But of course lack of transparency actually tells us rather a lot about attitudes and leadership style: it can only give rise to suspicion either that there’s a lack of competence or that there is manipulation of process in order to promote a particular agenda – or probably both! If it takes global South primates to teach the floundering Western machinators how to be open and honest, then bring it on!
In particular the arrogance of those who have implied that the ongoing LLF issue in the C of E is something to which the whole Anglican Communion must defer indicates the level of damage certain people are prepared to inflict on their fellow Christians in order to satisfy their own obsessive interest. We’re talking about some seriously thick-skinned people here! But in going too far they may yet find they’ve done their own cause a lot of harm. We shall see…
The mind of the church and Calls.
1 Andrew Goddard here has identified the key matter – scripture-doctrine when pointing out that Lambeth 1.10 stated that it was “according to scripture” and critiquing the application of the Trinity as heretical.
2 Mark Hill ( thank you Andrew Godsall for the link) has correctly identified was he sees as determiing the ” mind of the church* being an impossiblibity, through the mecanism of calls. That applies to the redraft as well.
3 Best Evidence. Hill and Goddard as lawyers well know that the greatest evidential value comes from the “source documents” such as statute, Hansard.
4 What are the ultimate source documents for Christians? Scripture scripture, scripture.
That is where the mind of the church coalesces and coheres with the mind of Christ, in doctrine, doctrine which is the source formulation for *human dignity”.
5 It seems to me that the redrafted call precludes LLF.
Parallel Universe Thinking. No understanding of the real pneumatological dynamics involved.
The Orthodox Bishops from the South have now issued their own resolution/call.
Thanks, Chris. A clear, clean sea breeze of the centuries, from the South.
Chris I think it is another political statement from a pressure group who are not all from the ‘Global South’.
One other comment I have read from a Tanzanian bishop, in response to the statement said ‘Yes, but who was Global South to ask him to boycott?’ He said all the Tanzanian Bishops had taken Communion and they had not come all this way to play silly games.
There is evidence that the Global South have simply become a mouthpiece for white western conservatives. One of the member churches is the Anglican Church of North America. How are the USA and Canada become part of the Global South?
The Global South, GAFCON etc. are simply pressure groups like Affirming Catholicism. They aren’t the Anglican Communion. They are part of it but it’s very worth reading what David Runcorn, who his actually there as a participant at the Lambeth Conference as a spouse, has to say about what is actually going on.
The global south are adult mature Christians and nobody’s mouthpiece except hopefully Jesus Christ’s. Do you realise how patronising is your assumption that they are sock puppets for “white western conservatives”? Do you realise how deafening the response of the south would have been had GAFCON chosen to attend?
Jesus Christ regarded the written Law of Moses as nothing less than the view of His Divine Father in heaven. He provided a better way for those who were repentant of breaking those laws, but he is the same yesterday today and tomorrow and in those laws is the unchanging divine opinion about sexual relations of the Godhead.
Many millions of US dollars from ultra conservative groups are pouring into African countries. A new kind of colonialism.
Can you reference this please Penelope? Who are the ultra conservative groups and pouring into which countries?
Really? I had read that the liberal US Anglicans were pouring money into Africa to induce a dependence and then demand they shut up about about the Bible says.
Perhaps both should leave African Anglicans to make their own decisions based on living faith and the way the Bible has been understood for 2000 years.
Did I dispute the money flow? The question is motive in donor and recipient, although see Philippians 1:18. Do you dispute what I said about North American liberal episcopalians doing the same?
To call this colonialism is absurd and patronising. The money is accepted by adults who know the score.
Hardly ‘orthodox’. A sadly heterodox approach to the Eucharist. They really are giving the impression that they require a separatist sect. Not Anglican at all. They are most welcome to their schism.
Was Jesus Anglican?
‘God is an Englishman’, it has been said.
Speaking from the anonymity of the pew I am in complete despair.
Orthodox bishops and scholars need to say publically what is as obvious as the day is long.
The problem is not a failure of constructive discussions between people with different ideas
The problem is false teaching and false teachers.
“As proposed in 2016, the current Communion could continue as the main body committed to I.10 and traditional communion ecclesiology with “federal liberals” having a different status within it.”
Proposed much earlier than 2016 as part of the Covenant and clearly voted down.
The CofE would probably find itself in the different status category too.
It is crucial, for both liberals and conservatives and the many who would not describe themselves as either, to see the LLF process through. That is one reason why concern was expressed about the insertion of just part of 1.10 into the ‘Calls’.
What do you mean by seeing the LLF process through?
I took the course (Zoom, local parishes) and read a large amount of the book.
The Call from the South is a call to all “Biblical” Bishops to take a stand, without fear or favour.
I find it sad that the 2022 Lambeth Conference is now reduced to this tragic moment for the Anglican Communion. Yes I am sure the fellowship is warm in some quarters and there is some common ground. But could the ABoC and those planning the LC with him not see the tensions that needed to be addressed? Did he not visit Primates and Provinces in the first 10 years of his tenure? Isn’t reconciliation his ‘specialism’? Surely a better use of this time would be an honest appraisal with his fellow bishops about the nature of the Anglican Communion, the role of its Instruments of Unity/Communion, and some hard thinking about the future shape(s) of the Anglican Communion. The GSFA will have a number of next moves at their disposal. They seem to be the grouping who have come to the LC prepared and coordinated. They announced their intentions clearly in advance. After populating Lambeth Palace with an abundance of staff, and with an extra couple of years to plan it, is this really the best the ABoC and his planning group can offer an anxious and watching Anglican Communion.
Everyone is blaming this on ABoC. Is in not at least plausible that someone in the organising staff made unauthorised alterations to the draft before publication. The mentions of Lambeth I.10 in the original draft do not flow with the rest of the text.
The debacle over how I:10 found it’s way into the Call, and it’s subsequent removal, is for me a symptom of wider problem of poor discernment on the part of the ABoC about what kind of agenda would truly serve the long term future Anglican Communion. It’s clear from his opening address that he believes the Conference incapable of solving the Anglican approach to human identity and sexuality. So why not concentrate on what an amicable divorce might look like? Instead tensions rise over the mere mention of I:10, the exclusion (or presence depending on how you look at it) of same-sex spouses, and the tabling of a resolution to affirm I:10. I thought this statement from his address was particularly telling, ‘ Those questions, especially on the Christian and Anglican approach to human identity and sexuality, will not be solved at this Conference. However, my prayer is that, while we are aware of them because they really matter, we turn as a Communion outwards to the entirety of the world that God loves so much that God gave his only Son to die for the world’s salvation. ’ It seems to imply that in order to turn out effectively to the world in response to God’s salvation the Anglican Communion needs to be united on a number of fronts (described in the Calls) but not on human identity and sexuality. This is telling because the majority of Anglicans, by any measure, would make a strong link between the gift of salvation and the impact that has on our understanding of identity and sexuality. If the ABoC hasn’t spotted that matters of sexuality run through most aspects of Christian doctrine and ethics for the majority of Anglicans then he has been wilfully blind. If he spotted it and failed to shape a Conference that reflected that he has been irresponsible. I’m glad if those attending can find space for refreshment and friendship. But wouldn’t it be more rewarding to engage in a Conference which mapped out a future and a purpose for global Anglicanism.
Why have we arrived through Lambeth a point that shows Bishops showing their contempt and hatred for Christians who believe in the Bible and believe in Jesus Christ?
There are a number of western world Bishops who far rather people simply didn’t mention Scripture.
This is surprisingly anti-Christian and is a parody of what is going on in Finland of two significant people being accused of hate crime for simply having quoted the Bible, even though they have made clear both then and now that we are all created in the image of God. Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola. Yet even though they were unanimously found NOT guilty the prosecutor has got leave to appeal from a higher court.
So, why have we arrived through Lambeth a point that shows Bishops showing their contempt and hatred for Christians who believe in the Bible and believe in Jesus Christ?
We will soon arrive at the point where faithful Christians will be treated with disdain by their own bishops as has started already in the Church in Wales. If you feel called to ministry in the Church you cannot believe that marriage / matrimony (Gamos) is between one man and one woman whereas koinonia (intimate fellowship, not just fellowship alone) is respected but different in Scripture.
A brief comment from someone who is actually here at the Lambeth Conference. One of the features of the program is the prominence given to scripture. We are daily reading and studying it together using material prepared carefully some months before the conference. There is a particular in depth focus on 1 Peter. When we are disagreeing, the issue is not whether ‘they’ take the bible seriously or not, like ‘us’. The issue is how we understand, interpret and apply what we are reading. And evangelicals have never all agreed on that actually. I am finding it inspiring, challenging and deeply serious. So please be encouraged – and please do moderate wilder claims here about bishops and scripture.
Worldwide there are upwards of half a billion evangelicals. You are taking the fact that all of those half a billion do not have precise unanimity at every point as evidence?
When we speak loosely, almost any argument is possible; it is only when we are precise on details that this becomes impossible.
Isn’t 1 Peter glorious? Effortlessly magisterial and mature.
Those numbers are widely quoted, but not without challenge. Church Mouse on Twitter who quotes regarding Nigeria :
1. Andrew McKinnon from Aberdeen University who estimated the number of Nigerians who self affiliate with the Anglican Church of Nigeria as more likely to be around 7.6m rather than 22m (https://aura.abdn.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2164/14774/McKinnon_JAngStud_Anglicans_in_Subsaharan_AAM.pdf?sequence=1)
2. Daniel Munoz who estimated a number of active members of the Anglican Church of Nigeria closer to 1.1m. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-anglican-studies/article/abs/north-to-south-a-reappraisal-of-anglican-communion-membership-figures/2DE9B1D5B85A164090A393735AACA1FB
In comparison you could say that the CofE has 26 million members (the number who have been baptised in the CofE), but that would be a gross misrepresentation and the 1.7 million who attend a service at least once a month is a more realistic number.
Christopher you make that same point every time but in such a general say that it is meaningless.
David: thank you for your clear evidence actually from the conference itself – which is the subject of this post – and thank you for the evidence that “When we are disagreeing, the issue is not whether ‘they’ take the bible seriously or not, like ‘us’. “ One would certainly hope it was not at all the way that Clive seems to think it might be, but it is very good to have the evidence that it isn’t.
Every blessing to you and Jackie and all your colleagues for the rest of the conference.
David R, For the benefit of those of us who are not there can you explain please, what the in depth focus the conference is studying in 1 Peter is, and how this book relates to the current situation in the AC?
Chris. Thank you for your courtesy and interest. Nearly 2000 bishops and their spouses, from over 170 countries. Translators working in 8 languages … meeting across the extraordinary diversity and challenges of this world. It is wonderful and moving – and it is not surprising if at times it is conflicted. To answer your question I think the most helpful thing is to offer you the brief introduction and chapter headings of the conference bible study book on 1 Peter. Thanks again. https://www.lambethconference.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-First-Letter-of-Peter-A-Global-Commentary-Introduction-and-Chapter-1.pdf
Thank you David.
Thanks David for the link,
Unfortunately, it can’t be opened on my phone.
But how are you all getting on with holiness/ sanctification in 1 Peter and the Holiness of God the Trinity, in whom there is no separation, no being placed at a separation, no being placed at a distance from within the fellowship of the Trinity.
Elect, foreknowledge of God the Father, in sancitification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling with his blood.
1 Peter 1: 1-2
Here we have believers chosen to be reserved by the Spirit ( sanctification) in view of their devotion to Christ in obedience to him, and convenant feloowship with him ( sprinkled with his blood).
“Using completely different vocabulary Peter says to believers in Turkey exactly what Paul said to believers in Corinth: You are not your own; you have been bought with a price – the sacrifice of Christ; you are his, so live for his glory because it is for this that you have been purchased.” Sinclair B Ferguson : Devoted to God.
And there is more, with the ” blueprint passage on sanctification
1 Peter 1 : 1-25 and an appendix on the Trinity in the New Testament, of God eternal existence in one substance and three persons.
In it, there are lists of scriptural statements
1. reflecting on the relationship of the Father and the Son
2. On the Father’s and the Son’s relationship with the Spirit
3. the foundational and pervasive nature of Gid in his Trinitarian interaction with his creation
4.the Trinity as essential to the accomplishing redemption and its application
Quoting Augustine: “In no other dubject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.”
You and others will be pleased that I’ll leave it there.
Here is a substantial, significant critique of Lambeth Declaration regarding the Declaration and reconciliation, referencing as it does, misapplication of 1 Peter and more problematic, the understanding of the Trinity: it is from Anglican Ink.
Anglican Ink’s journalism is notoriously inaccurate and biased. The very opposite of what scholarship is.
It is a weighty theological article, not * journalistic* at all.
Oh from ‘anon’ it is bound to be isn’t it? 🙂
If one writes a weighty theological article you are proud to own it.
This anonymous piece is simply white western conservative generalisation peppered with a few out of context proof texts.
Weighty and theological it ain’t.
Resd ehat is written whether anon or not.
It represents laudable and clearly necessary theological vigilance.
Instead of a haughty dismissal, why don’t youake a rejoider to the points set out.
Wonder why you are a little hot under the Anglican collar about it.?
” proud to own it”. Yuck.
Given that you have already trashed Anglican Ink out of hand,
maybe you would be equally dismissive if the author was named and placed in your preconceived category and not even read, given the time of day, as a result.
Perhaps, more people will read it because it is anon.
The heft is in the words, the points made and totality of argumentation.
Is there a heresy in relation to the Trinity, identified by the author, though not named as such.?
That piece was originally published at Anglican Futures. As one of the AF trustees, I can say that we always publish pieces anonymously because we’re more interested in content than identities. Along with the other trustees, and the author, I’m very happy to own it.
Again, a notoriously biased organisation and pressure group made up of people who have left historic Anglican churches and want to ignore the traditional Anglican approach and method to ecclesiology and theology. It relates to things like ACNA and CANA and other churches outside of the Anglican Communion
Matthew. Thank you clarifying. Perhaps people here will be slower to criticise the Lambeth conference material for lacking names and transparency?
Strange how I perceive notorious bias in Andrew Godsall’s comment,
Again there is no substantial theological response to the contents of the article, only ad hom bluster.
And for those close readers there is a germ seed of the article in Andrew Goddard’s article above.
How can every single point made on one wide ranging website be generalised about? ‘AnglicanInk SchmanglicanInk’ counts as a high level of analysis?
The lack of attention to specifics is the giveaway.
What do you think about the 2 specifics I mentioned from the article: (a) the meaning and significance of ‘difference’, (b) the meaning and significance of ‘reconciliation’?
The Anglican Ink piece identifies a totally massive flaw: the hallowing of difference per se (and even citing the Trinity in support of this.
Everything in the world (including the worst things of all) is either different to or the same as every other thing. The ploy of speaking at this extremely high level of generality is deliberate, because if once we got even a tad more specific, the flaws would at once be seen.
Does it not depend on in which particular *ways* something is different?
The other point is on reconciliation. ABC spoke of course against inward looking. Reconciliation of a body to itself is inward looking and self referential. Also it does not work; thriving togetherness is found in mission and outward looking. This perpsective ABC communicated well. Grown up ministry is reconciliation in the wider world, and the Bible is referring to God’s reconciling us to himself through Christ and that extending into a ministry of reconciliation in which we are all to share. Not church unity being the end in view. It reminds me of the self referential nature of some of pentecostalism, where it is the congregants that end up needing all the healing rather than it being understood that they are the ones being trained to impart it. Or the tithing being all self referential within the body rather than doing any good in a wider sphere. Etc..
I have to agree with Christopher’s point about “difference.” Specifically, wrt the statement “We believe in God who is both three and one, who holds difference and unity in the heart of God’s being, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” – this appears to be a clever try to equate the human difference between “straight” and “gay” with differences within the Godhead.
There is one human difference that matters – the difference between very holy and very evil, with most of us somewhere in-between. Nobody sensible would say that very holy and very evil are part of a wonderful diversity. On the contrary, we are to seek holiness and to flee from evil.
The Eucharist at Lambeth.
Here is a critique of the criticism. It is far from heterodox, as Penelope, above, claims. It is deeply orthodox and reverential, I’d say.
And, would that we were all more circumspect (particularly of our own hearts) before partaking of the Lord’s supper.
In a former church, two men fell out with each other, never to reconcile. One remained in his seat, the other partook. The one who remained in his seat gradually over a period of time left the church to join another. Who was heterodox (even if that is the correct application of the word here) who was orthodox in this matter of communion?
It is extremely arrogant. How on earth do these Bishops “know” that their sibling Bishops are sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters , drunkards, swindlers?
Because if they don’t know this, they are guilty of bearing false witness, as well as dodgy Eucharistic theology.
I think that comment is a bit rich to call them schismatic considering that it is was the North American Bishops actions that have caused the schism in the AC in first place.
Chris I wasn’t aware that you were part of the Anglican Communion.
Do we know how many people declined to receive communion? What effect do you think this action might have, given that some from the Global South have described refusing communion as a silly game?
I am not. However I am interested in what goes on in the CofE as I have been part of an Anglican church in the past and many of my church members are ex-Anglicans. I think the effect it might have is draw attention to the sidelining of Lambeth 1:10 and the concerns of the Bishops of Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda who represent a considerable number of Anglican around the world in their recent press release where they complain of the studied indifference of the ABC to their concerns. It is the ABC who is playing a game here not them.
I note that as a result, the ABC has now agreed to meet with them so I it will be interesting to see what his response will be over the next few days if indeed it is made public.
I’m not sure that the Archbishop agreed to meet in the way that Anglican Ink are describing it. Or that he is writing a particular letter as they suggest. I tend not to believe anything on their website as it’s just pretty shoddy journalism.
But I am sure he will be meeting informally with all kinds of fellow bishops and archbishops over the course of the next week. And will probably write all kinds of letters. It’s what archbishops do. What they can’t do is act like a Pope and say “this is what will happening”. (Whatever *this* is. The Archbishop just doesn’t have that power).
Better I think to wait and see how things evolve over the course of the conference and how the spirit works through the whole meeting rather than through pressure groups.
It doesn’t seem clear how many bishops actually refused communion. Or who wrote the so called Global South statement.
What we do know is that people disagree vehemently about the matter of human sexuality and that the disagreement isn’t going to be solved by refusing or partaking in Holy Communion. The disagreement has been going on for several decades now and it won’t be solved this week.
Yes, here at Lambeth it is public knowledge that some bishops are refusing to receive communion while gay-partnered bishops are welcome at the Lord’s Table. Well I reflect that if you want to track the trajectory of Jesus’ ministry in the gospels just follow the meals – where and who he ate with, the scandal this caused, what he taught there, and what happened as a consequence. As Robert Karris puts it, ‘Jesus got himself killed because of the way he ate’. So I think they are deeply, woundingly mistaken in this.
David, Jesus ate with sinners as a doctor visits the sick—to make them well again, not to join in their sickness. He went to them to call them to repent and change.
The GSFA’s case is that, according to the teaching of the Anglican Communion, the bishops in question are sinning and not repenting. If they are correct in this assessment, then their response is quite right. Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust off their feet as a sign of judgment to those who would not accept the demands of the kingdom.
The disagreement won’t be solved by compromise any week, because what has Christ to do with Beliar? (i.e. two intrinsically incompatible systems).
Hi Ian. You know my position this. I know yours. I also know the texts you are appealing to. We disagree on what they actually say and I particularly struggle with your use of them in this context. Gay-partnered bishops are not dirt on the feet of the Anglican Communion.
David – have these gay-partnered bishops taken a vow of celibacy – and are they teaching others in their position to do the same? If so, then I don’t see that they are doing anything wrong.
(But if they’re saying that having-it-off outside the context of man and woman in lifelong union who would like to have children together is somehow OK then – yes – refusing communion with them is the correct response).
David, I did not know that you were an NT exegete. How many qualified NTers are there in the world? So why would it matter if those not in their number disagreed?
Well that, as with so many things, is open to interpretation. The US Bishops never refused to share communion with sinners. Theirs is the orthodox position.
Penelope, I think that even a cursory reading of Andrew Goddard’s comprehensive history of Lambeth 1:10 and subsequent developments in his two articles would not fail to see that the origins of the current dissension in the AC started with the schismatic actions of the North American church. They are the cause of the schism not the Global South Bishops who are simply reacting to it.
As John Cleese said to the Germans in Fawlty towers – they started it.
It’s 1 August – so I will be brief.
Andrew Goddard’s is one interpretation of events. Others are available.
I am sure Savi Hensman has written on this.
Isn’t this deeper. No matter the context or cause of division ( the example I gave of two men falling out with each other had nothing at all to do with sex) isn’t repentance and reconciliation and redemption at the heart of Holy Communion, instituted by Jesus? And isn’t it a requirement to reconcile before partaking? Otherwise we are playing fast and loose with the Holy sacrament in dishonour of God.
In the context of AC, the article points out that there has been no prior process of reconciliation; an estrangement which, to me, appears to be irreconcilable, according to scripture.
Andrew Goddard’s first six questions go close to the heart of the issue.
The crux is not the acceptability of same-sex relations, but the command not to fornicate, not to have sexual relations with anyone outside matrimony. Why is the church not debating the acceptability of fornication tout court, about which the NT speaks far more than about homosexual relations? Because it is as polluted as the world in this regard (not meaning the sins committed before putting on the garments of salvation) and it no longer sees the issue as important. The focus on same-sex relations is deceiving people into thinking that this is the crux.
The civilisation about to be judged is symbolised not as a business tycoon or a beast, but as a wine-bibbing female fornicator (Rev 17). While there are many reasons why our rotten civilization is about to be knocked on the head, in the end just two are singled out (Rev 19:2): her having corrupted the earth’s inhabitants through her promiscuity and her having brought about the deaths of God’s apostles and prophets (mainly still to come).
The last church is blind and naked (Rev 3:17). Despite bearing Christ’s name, it does not wear the clothes of salvation, has no shame, and does not know that it is blind.
Rev 18:4. “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins and in her plagues you participate.” This is a very serious matter.
Steven Robinson – Yes – I agree with this – and I would go much further.
Previously, in Christian circles, it was never acceptable for people to have a ‘boyfriend’ (for a woman) or ‘girlfriend’ (for a man) unless there were serious aspirations and very good reason to believe that it would turn out to be more than this – and that the two would eventually get married. If it became clear to either party that the relationship could not lead to something more (i.e. marriage) then there was a duty to be honest about this as soon as possible – and to end things. The normal course in Christian circles was that this would not happen; Christians are aware (on the law of `love your neighbour’) that they have a duty not to muck other people around. The idea of multiple casual relationships in series was always considered to be the way of the heathen.
Nowadays it seems to be different. I know of examples that I won’t mention here – where people who call themselves Christians, go to church, sing in the choir, wear T-shirts with nice bible verses on them, really seem to have adopted the `way of the world’ here, ways that 30 years ago would be considered the ways of the heathen; those of us who considered ourselves Christian looked on with a mixture of amusement and horror at the way the pagans conducted themselves in these matters.
Carnal activities, while important, are only one tiny part of this; treating marriage as some sort of secretary problem
causes an awful lot of damage to an awful lot of people even if people refrain from carnal activities before marriage – and it is alarming to discover that this approach is now actually considered to be all right in some `Christian’ circles.
I disagree on one point – what is the point of ‘ending things’ if it has *never* been intended to take things further? The thing to do in that circumstance is not to begin things in the first place, isn’t it? Proposing ‘ending things’ is part of a thoughtless system which leads to unnecessary mess and confusion.
Christopher – well yes – of course. The whole assumption should be that it *was* intended to take things further (i.e. to marriage and life-long union); if that assumption is not made, then – of course – things shouldn’t be started in the first place – and people who are Christians *don’t* start things in the first place without that assumption.
Yes – agreed – it is a thoughtless system – but also a pagan system – and i the past was always anathema to Christians (and something that marked out Christians as different from the world). But nowadays, heathens (i.e. people involved in that system) seem to think it is OK to call themselves Christians and participate in church life. Something wrong, surely.
I think it is incredibly wrong. People pick each other up for selfish motives and then find they become awkward with each other and cannot speak to each other. All because the presuppositions and narrative are wrong. Stable family cultures (which are the panacea for most things) don’t do that. One person with whom a relationship has broken down is one too many and is an issue that needs to be solved at once.
“The US Bishops never refused to share communion with sinners?” Really! Under the jurisdiction of one ; Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop Bill Love was accused of “violating church law” by refusing to countenance SSM (based upon his desire to uphold the traditional understanding of Christian marriage). Evidently such “orthodoxy” if it gains more than a foothold in the wider Anglican community might be less concerned with *eating with ” their detractors and more preoccupied with simply *eating them*!