Andrew Goddard writes: The inclusion of a reference to the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10 in one of the Lambeth Calls issued only last week, days before the opening of the Conference which has been being planned since at least 2018 and reportedly only drafted in May and June, led to a storm of protest. There has now been a major rewriting of the Call but no explanation as to how or why the reference was seemingly added at a late stage without the agreement of the group which approved the Call or why it has now been rewritten. It is clear that the Global South, who are committed to getting the Conference to reaffirm Lambeth I.10, will be very unhappy with the changes, with some believing that it was their publication of this determination that may have led to the Call being revised at a late stage before its release. Their press conference on Friday morning promises to give more information about how they will be working towards this and other stated goals at the Conference.
In order to interpret what is happening it is important to set recent developments within the longer history of the crisis in the Communion. I have already sought to set out a chronological account of some of the key relevant events from the time of Lambeth I.10 under both Archbishop Rowan and Archbishop Justin. What follows seeks to offer a framework to interpret the significance of what now appears to be happening by exploring the distinct but interweaving questions around sexuality and ecclesiology.
The place of Lambeth I.10 in the Communion’s recent history
The reference to I.10 has caused so much controversy in part because a number of provinces have clearly rejected it already and many in other Western provinces which still uphold it would like their church to reject it.
It is important to recall that the Church of England remains formally committed to Lambeth I.10 with General Synod voting in February 2007 to “commend 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” and recognizing “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)”.
The original plan to reaffirm the resolution also seemingly surprised many because in recent years the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Instruments have not repeatedly and explicitly reaffirmed it as Communion teaching as happened regularly under Rowan Williams:
- Rowan Williams himself consistently did this from the time of his appointment when he wrote to the Primates in 2002 that “the Lambeth resolution of 1998 declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion, and what the Communion will and will not approve or authorise. I accept that any individual diocese or even province that officially overturns or repudiates this resolution poses a substantial problem for the sacramental unity of the Communion”.
- ACC-13 Resolution 10 noted that the Primates had “reaffirmed “the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which should command respect as the position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion” and endorsed and affirmed this.
- Primates 2007 para 11 stated “What has been quite clear throughout this period is that the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is the standard of teaching which is presupposed in the Windsor Report and from which the primates have worked. This restates the traditional teaching of the Christian Church that “in view of the teaching of Scripture, [the Conference] upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage”, and applies this to several areas which are discussed further below. The Primates have reaffirmed this teaching in all their recent meetings, and indicated how a change in the formal teaching of any one Province would indicate a departure from the standard upheld by the Communion as a whole”.
- Primates 2009 para 12 said, with reference to Windsor’s 3 proposed moratoria, that “While we are aware of the depth of conscientious conviction involved, the position of the Communion defined by the Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its entirety remains, and gracious restraint on all three fronts is urgently needed to open the way for transforming conversation”.
Although the statement from the first Primates Meeting convened by Archbishop Justin in 2016 did not explicitly refer to I.10 (in large part because it was focussed on the further development of same-sex marriage) it did state
- “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”
- “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”.
Since then, however, there has been little or nothing stated on the question of Communion teaching on sexuality by the Instruments or its basis in Scripture and the teaching of the church down through the centuries. In contrast, the Global South and GAFCON have continued to make clear that they see the resolution as important for Communion life. They have continued to support the commitment to that resolution which shaped the recommendations of the Windsor Report (that continues to be one of the foundations for the work of the Communion’s Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO)).
What is The Anglican Communion?
In focussing solely on questions of sexuality and resolution 1.10 in recent days there is the danger of forgetting that the Communion has sought to frame and respond to our differences in this area since 2004 by returning to our Anglican understanding of what it means to be a communion of churches within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. This understanding has been developed down through the decades among Anglicans and in ecumenical conversations and has its roots back in the early church Fathers. Among the key earlier articulations last century were:
- the 1920 Appeal (“We believe God wills fellowship”) found in Resolution 9 and that Conference’s encyclical letter which said the churches of the Communion were “independent, but independent with the Christian freedom which recognizes the restraints of truth and of love. They are not free to deny the truth. They are not free to ignore the fellowship”,
- the 1930 Conference’s work on the Anglican Communion and especially Resolution 48 and Resolution 49.
In more recent times this vision has been further developed in, among other places,
- Anglican-Roman Catholic agreements (ARCIC and IARCCUM) such as The Church As Communion (1990), The Gift of Authority (1998), Ecclesiological Reflections on the Current Situation in the Anglican Communion in the Light of ARCIC (2004) and other ecumenical agreements such as The Church of the Triune God (Anglican-Orthodox, 2006)
- The Grindrod Report (1988) and various Eames Reports relating to women’s ordination such as The Monitoring Group Report (1997),
- Robert Runcie’s Presidential Address on “The Nature of the Unity We Seek” at the 1988 Lambeth Conference,
- The Virginia Report (1997) from the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission,
- The Windsor Report (2004) from The Lambeth Commission also under Archbishop Eames, and the various subsequent reports on its implementation,
- Numerous statements by Archbishop Rowan, most fully his The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion (2006) and also his 2007 Advent Letter and his first Presidential Address at Lambeth 2008.
- the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant
This vision has also shaped the response of the Instruments to the crisis over sexuality up to and including the 2016 Primates meeting under Archbishop Justin. Although this did not spell out the vision in detail it pointed to it as the rationale for its conclusion when it said of moves to approve same-sex marriage 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” (italics added).
Since then, however, there has been little or no reference to this vision of life in Communion by the Archbishop or the other Instruments. It has clearly been rejected by those provinces which have disregarded Lambeth I.10 and The Windsor Report. They have instead emphasised provincial autonomy as central to their understanding of Anglicanism. There has also been the development of a more purely confessional vision among some provinces which has led to the formation of GAFCON and its 2008 Jerusalem Declaration. Since 2016, however, the traditional Anglican vision has been shaping the work of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches and its Cairo Covenant.
Mapping the Communion Again
As the Communion sought to understand the Windsor Report and churches, particularly the American Church, worked out their responses, it became clear that the differences in each of these two areas – sexuality and ecclesiology – needed to be thought through together. It has been interesting in recent days to revisit how I and others have sought to do this in the past.
In January 2006, along with Peter Walker, I wrote a briefing paper which sketched out a way of understanding the differences and divisions among Anglicans in terms of two axes creating four quadrants. Each axis represented a spectrum: the horizontal X-axis measured a position in relation to sexuality in terms of I.10 and the vertical Y-axis measured it in relation to ecclesiology in terms of Windsor’s account of the meaning of being a communion. The extent of agreement or disagreement with the sexual ethic of I.10 and then with the communion vision of Windsor enabled individuals, groups or provinces to be plotted as they fell within one of the four quadrants.
Following an important speech to the US bishops in March 2006 by Michael Langrish, then Bishop of Exeter, on behalf of Archbishop Rowan, I set out this account. It was subsequently developed by Graham Kings in June 2006 who named the four quadrants as (I) Federal Conservatives, (II) Communion Conservatives, (III) Communion Liberals and (IV) Federal Liberals.
I returned to and developed this model in an article in late 2007 on mapping the Anglican Communion. This distinguished 4 groups across the spectrum on the sexuality axis (Pro I.10 conservatives comprising “rejectionists” and softer “reasserters” and anti I.10 moving from moderate “reassessors” to committed “reinterpreters”) and suggested 3 groups could be distinguished in relation to the vision for the Anglican Communion. Those holding the traditional view (as set out in the documents listed above from 1920 onwards and Communion Conservatives and Communion Liberals in the diagram) were labelled as holding to “communion Catholicism”. One of the key convictions here is that captured in the Windsor Report at para 76:
a body is…’autonomous’ only in relation to others: autonomy exists in a relation with a wider community or system of which the autonomous entity forms part…The key idea is autonomy-in-communion, that is, freedom held within interdependence.
This contrasted with “connectional confessionalism” (part of the bottom right quadrant and, at that time, gestating into what shortly became GAFCON) and “autonomous inclusivism” (the bottom left quadrant of “federal liberals”). Of this I wrote,
This is broadly the vision that each province determines its own actions within its own jurisdiction in accordance with its own canons and constitution and 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. This understanding of Anglican identity finds expression in large parts of The Episcopal Church in America (TEC) and also some of the wider ‘inclusive church’ networks.
Graham Kings revisited the model in June 2008 just before the last Lambeth Conference (identifying different individuals, groups and churches he thought to be within each of the 4 categories at that time). That Conference sought to move forward the “communion Catholicism” understanding but the subsequent clear failure of the Windsor moratoria and the Covenant left a vacuum where I.10 was increasingly being ignored and the Communion seemed incapable of responding.
After a poorly attended Primates Meeting in 2011 it took extensive personal relationship-building and negotiating by Archbishop Justin to bring together the Primates again in 2016 (a sense of the questions at the time, what it did, and how people responded, can be found from resources here). Their statement was brief and not woven into the previous history (in large part because it was seeking to get beyond that and the dead-end it had reached). Nor did it offer a theological and ecclesiological rationale for its way forward. It did, however, appear to represent a continuation of “communion Catholicism” in a broadly “communion conservative” form. Prior to the meeting, I had summed this up in terms of the following consensus which had been articulated over the previous 11 years but seemingly failed to shape the Communion’s structures:
- Beliefs: As a Communion we have certain commitments concerning what we understand to be God’s will for human flourishing and for the pattern of our life together as the body of Christ. This would include (a) Lambeth I.10 in its entirety as regards human sexuality and (b) the communion ecclesiology developed over recent decades, expressed in various forms and documents, including such elements as upholding both autonomy and mutual accountability and interdependence, non-intervention in each other’s provinces, seeking to maintain and deepen inter-communion and wider ecumenical relationships.
- Behaviour: We recognise that certain actions within the Communion have challenged and undermined these commitments
- Goal: But we wish to remain together and seek to live out those commitments as a Communion
- Response: Therefore, on the basis of our beliefs (1) and to work towards our goal (3) we must seek to reaffirm our self-understanding of who we are and bring an end to those actions (2) which undermine our beliefs (1) and threaten our goal (3). This would include the Anglican Communion Covenant and the three moratoria. Among many examples would be Archbishop Rowan’s letter of invitation to Lambeth 2008 trusting that attending signalled “a willingness to work with” the “set of resources and processes, focused on the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals”.
The Primates in 2016 gave structural shape to (1)-(3) of this consensus with a modified form of (4) by making clear that unilateral actions against the mind of the Communion must have “consequences” and effecting a visible differentiation within the Communion (rather than expulsion from it as sought by some). This differentiation was between those committed to Communion teaching in how they ordered their province and those using their provincial autonomy to abandon it. It related to both the internal life of the Instruments on matters of doctrine and polity and to ecumenical participation. In terms of the four possible outcomes I had explored beforehand this was “implementing the consensus response” in a new form.
Since 2016, however, little or nothing has been said or done to follow through on the Primates’ consensus or to relate it to these two continuing contentious areas of sexuality and ecclesiology. Instead, a number of developments from the Archbishop have seemed to undermine it (as set out in my overview here). As a result, it has been very difficult to understand what ecclesial vision, if any, is now shaping the Communion.
Alongside this vacuum we have also seen other shifts. One of the most significant has been the almost total disappearance of “communion liberals” from the conversation and from Anglican leadership. Those opposed to traditional teaching on sexuality as summed up in I.10 have increasingly combined this with an abandonment of communion ecclesiology as they use provincial autonomy to secure their goals in relation to sexuality. Perhaps the most prominent illustration of this move of anti-I.10 Anglicans into the autonomy-focussed quadrant IV of “federal liberals” committed to “autonomous inclusivism” is seen in Gregory Cameron’s shift from being a major drafter and supporter of The Windsor Report (who urged the Canadian church not to proceed with same-sex blessings in 2004 warning them that to use their autonomy to do so would mean it “the Anglican Church of Canada refuses to hear the voice and to heed the concerns of your fellow Anglicans in the global south”) to being the leader of the moves to introduce same-sex blessings in the Church in Wales. Alongside this, since Lambeth 2008 (with the exception of the Primates Gathering in 2016), three African provinces (Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda) have ceased to be “communion conservatives” in practice in relation to the Instruments. They have simply refused, out of conscientious conviction, to participate in meetings, including this Lambeth Conference where they would have had about 200 bishops present.
In the light of this mapping we must now turn to try to understand what has happened in relation to the Calls and what this tells us about the state of the Communion and its possible future—which I will do in the next article tomorrow.
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.
78 thoughts on “Lambeth ‘Calls’, Lambeth I.10, and the nature of the Anglican Communion”
Endless chatter, every syllable of which could have been avoided by the most basic understanding that the sexual revolution is Christianity’s enemy and the only story here is of people trying to get official approval for the sexual acts which (shortterm) they desire.
I must say, I believe that Jesus would have dealt with the issue in a few sentences. When it gets as complicated as the above, you know that a combination of law (as opposed to grace) and antiscriptural positions are involved.
The phrase ‘chattering classes’ was not coined by accident. Logic, rooting out of fallacies, science, common sense, and attention to statistics should cover most bases. But the said classes do not often deal in any of these – only in vague and impressionistic culturally-bound discourse that rarely attains greater precision.
– dysfunctional rheology
– dysfunctional ecclesiology
– dysfunctional communion, fellowship
– dysfunctional systems, structures, organisation
– functional chaos
– functional disunity
– functional idolatry
– functional different religions
– functional different God
Friends, I can understand your feelings and perspectives. But neither of these comments are actually contributing to the conversation constructively.
I am going to ask for the very regular commenters on the blog to observe a voluntary moratorium in August, by which they do not make any comment unless at least three other, less frequent, commenters have had a chance to say something.
We need to refresh this whole process.
Before I leave, here is a helpful Review by Dr Martyn Davie:
Thanks. To be clear—I don’t want anyone to ‘leave’. But I do want to get away from a very small group dominating the comments. Thanks for your understanding.
Thank you Andrew for this helpful summary. Any chance you could get onto the staff of the next ABoC? The recent redraft of the Calls is surely a sign of loss of confidence in the timeline of consensus amongst the instruments over the last 25 years.
I confess that I find this all very difficult to wrap my head around. I understand the essential core of the disagreement here, and certainly understand why it matters, but the organisational elements, the ‘communion politics’ are baffling. Even with Andrew’s excellent commentary here over the years, I find I struggle to remember what any of these appallingly-names resolutions are called…
If there is any common ground here between the CofE and my own Baptist and free church traditions, it’s that even the small things upset everyone, and poor communication makes even a small disagreement a major one. The institutional elements of our traditions frequently make it much worse for themselves…
Sorry, I typed this and then went to make a coffee and got distracted before hitting send. I did not see the request for reduced comment. 😉 My bad.
No, I would like to invite more comment from you. you are not one of the hyper-frequent commenters I would like to pause!
Yes, I agree entirely. Even I find it complex and sometimes baffling.
but you are spot on in noting that the institutional things make it more complex. how anyone thought it was a good idea to publish only one week ahead, I have no idea…
I think Andrew’s historical analysis is informative, comprehensive and well articulated. I am looking forward to reading tomorrow, what Andrew thinks the future of the communion will look like – if indeed it has any real future at all.
Is there a reason why ‘orthodox’ bishops in this matter don’t get on social media, or write a ad clerum, and defend the status quo, whilst ‘revisionist’ bishops seem quite happy to do both in an attempt to agitate for change? Is is embarrasment? Are they keeping their powder dry? Do they not actually want to preserve the faith in this matter? Or is it just that orthodox bishops feel a need to preserve corporate unity in a way which, say +Southwark or +Dorchester don’t care for? It’s quite wearying to see the usual suspects get on twitter and force change in the draft ‘call’ whilst not one robust defense is offered, and the draft is changed.
I worry, come the end of the LILAF process, that this pattern will repeat itself and we’ll be dragged into some sort of pastoral compromise without a squeak because all the pressure is one way, and no-one senior seems to be inclined to raise their heads above the parapret and positively exhort and encourage the church towards orthodoxy in this matter with a firm and loving vision of fidelity to the long teaching of the church on sexual matters. This is surely an abrogation of their responsibility to be leaders and pastors, to teach and affirm the faith handed down.
‘Is there a reason why ‘orthodox’ bishops in this matter don’t get on social media, or write a ad clerum, and defend the status quo’.
I have asked, and I have *some* sympathy with the response. But in the end I am not convinced. What has happened that, in any area, it is somehow damaging to his or her pastoral care to confirm what the Church believes?
It really is very odd.
On social media, I can see why people hold back. But it is not helpful. I think I would best describe it as a failure of nerve.
The orthodox bishops remained in denial for far too long when the ‘evangelical’ successor to Rowan Williams turned out not to spin as he had been spun. And the frank assessment has to be that they were never up for the fight even when the truth of what was happening was beyond dispute.
I suspect that exploration of the causes for this extraordinary collapse in evangelical resolve might not be a happy experience for any of us who would want to be known as evangelicals. But, unless it rapidly happens and the situation urgently retrieved, I fear evangelical silence will be a central feature in the story of the Church of England’s capitulation to cultural Marxism.
Very helpful analysis. As I would put myself in the ‘Federal conservative’ quadrant (using Andrew’s term) I’m interested to know why Andrew appears to be slightly dismissive of the idea of Anglican ecclesiology and true ‘communion’ based primarily on a confessional understanding of Christian faith rather than on participation in Canterbury/Lambeth structures. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted him, and/or he’ll answer this tomorrow or in future articles?
Just four brief comments – and I note what you say Ian about restraint in commenting.
1. It’s worth reading what Mark Hill has written from a legal perspective about the mind of the Anglican Communion. It casts considerable doubt on a lot of what Andrew says – and Mark Hill is by no means a revisionist. Here:
2. GAFCON are not actually part of the Anglican Communion. But of course their reaction is of interest. But only in the same way that other Churches have interest in what Anglicans get up to.
3. Andrew and Graham Kings have made a lot of the importance of the proposed Covenant over the years. But it’s dead in the water and has no future.
4. The Global South is a term bandied around but it isn’t always helpful and isn’t very accurate. What it really signifies is a conservative grouping. But the whole of the Global South aren’t conservative any more than the whole of the Global North being Liberal.
You wrote that “GAFCON are not actually part of the Anglican Communion.” when actually GAFCON is Anglicanism and is the majority of the world’s Anglicans,
Andrew has replied to this in the next post—and points out that Mark Hill is hardly a conservative.
How can this one issue be the only one (yet again) that is given preferential treatment? – this time in the shape of allowing for 3 different kinds of response?
It is spiritual.
There is some force that is compelling people in this particular case that is not compelling them in other cases.
The reason I characterise this as a black hole with no return is data. Because it is a fact that there come to be single issue people and even to some extent single issue websites (e.g. the one that banned me and David Shepherd).
(I emphasise this again because biblically this is not even at the level of being a contentious issue, but is preferred to those that are. Not that the main issue is the biblical rather than the reality.)
I recently relinquished my licence to serve as a Reader in the Dorchester area in despair at the stance taken by the Bishops in the Oxford Diocese.
I think analysis is helpful and Andrew, as ever, is clear and meticulous.
However, where are the voices publically contradicting the false teaching. (To be fair, Ian himself put up a good defence of the Gospel two nights ago on Newsnight)
Where are our orthodox bishops ? If Ian Paul can get the message across surely the Bishops can join him and head towards the sound of gunfire for once
Probably they are busy getting on with the Great Commission rather than engaging in counterscriptural activism. The trouble is that that leaves the CoE to the counterscriptural party. God is, however, removing the lampstands of the liberal faction: their congregations are shrinking while evangelical ones are growing. Tha Anglo-Catholic branch appears to have collapsed in numbers very recently, ie the present century.
The Great Commission isn’t the only thing that Bishops and other leaders in the church are charged with (although it’s clearly the overriding emphasis and imperative). For example; “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4 – I know you know it well. But it’s clear that we are to correct and rebuke, and also encourage those who are ministering in faith and truth. Bishops have a ministry of godly discipline to the church – even the orthodox ones don’t seem to be exercising it. I muse why above, but have no answers.
Thomas – basically, the church has always been a cess-pool. Take, for example, the sons of Eli. Also, in New Testament times, The Church was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. So it shouldn’t really surprise you if church leaders in this day and age turn out to be a bad lot – this is par for the course. God has ordained that the church be like this – and God has also ordained that we (as Christians) should stick with The Church (although it isn’t completely clear that the C. of E. is necessarily included in this).
er.. was the church responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus?
Wasn’t it the Jewish authorities?
Chris – well, John 11:47-53 could be taken in several ways, but it indicates to me that Caiaphas – speaking as the high priest for that year – wasn’t exactly negative about it. Those plotting to take his life in 11:53 were the chief priests and Pharisees of 11:47, egged on by Caiaphas.
Depends what you mean by the church (of course). The priests were clearly involved – and this included the high priest for that year.
The church is not a cess pool. That language is too extreme
I find your comments odd. The ‘church’ did not crucify Jesus, as it effectively only came to exist after pentecost. If you mean religious authorities at the time, I would accept that, though in reality it was a combination of Jew and Gentile.
It’s also not true that God has ordained church leaders to be a bad lot. A very odd belief. The New Testament churches had their problems from the very start so it’s not exactly surprising 2000 years later they still have problems. That is humanity, not God. Humanity’s choices, not God’s.
Peter, PC1 – I don’t think the language is extreme. I also see the current C. of E. problems as a different manifestation of the same thing that has been going on throughout the centuries.
Consider (for example) the Barmen Declaration of 1934
in opposition to the German church of the time.
The German church seemed to be sympathetic to the Nazis, arising from an insidious `natural theology’ from which they were somehow able to derive the `rightful’ place of the German nation in God’s order of creation. This is what Barth was standing up against and opposing with the Barmen Declaration.
Fast forward to now – where society seems to want certain things accepted as normal and to be unchallenged by the church.
What was the church like during the time of Elijah? We can be pretty sure that the Baal worship was being led by the priests.
I don’t see Baal worship during the time of Elijah, the fact that Caiaphas was aiming for the death of Jesus, the fact that nationalism had crept into the German church of the early 1930’s as `experimental errors’. We have to accept that this is the normal state of the church.
Nevertheless, `through the darkness arises light’ and God wills that we stick with the church and witness within the church, that we do not abandon the church.
But the negative language I used isn’t too extreme for describing the problem and its depth.
The point is that the Church of England, and the Catholic church out of which it came, are like ancient Israel in regarding everybody in their heartlands as Christian, whereas the New Testament is clear that genuine Christians (rather than churchgoers) are a minority who are called out spiritually from the prevailing culture while still living in it. (The Catholic/Anglican view began with Constantine, although it is hardly fair to put the blame on him; the church let itself be tempted.) As the culture goes ever more secular, this becomes a far deeper and more pressing issue than the ones on the two axes of the diagram above – although it is related to both (and to the disestablishment issue).
Anton – I’m sympathetic to what you say, but consider Athanasius (mentioned somewhere else in this thread). Without him, we wouldn’t have had the Nicene Creed (and our understanding of the Trinity).
There were forces within the church who tried to kill him. This was in the 300’s, before Constantine came along – so there were forces of evil within the church long before Constantine.
In fact, the current `Lambeth Call’ business, where the bishops seem content to limit themselves with twitter spats seems positively mild in comparison with the way disputes have traditionally been handled within the church.
Yes, mild. Father Christmas punched Arius at the said Council of Nicaea.
In reply to Andrew Godsall’s comments:
• “Mark Hill is by no means a revisionist” is followed by a link to an article which shows that he is certainly not a theological conservative.
• “Gafcon are not actually part of the Anglican Communion”. Gafcon has repeatedly said “we are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion”. Gafcon is made up of Anglican Provinces and jurisdictions, the large majority of which are part of the Anglican Communion (the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Chile, Sydney are on the Gafcon Primates’ Council), and a minority of which are new Anglican jurisdictions not in communion with Canterbury (ACNA, Anglican Church of Brazil, Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand, Anglican Network in Europe). If Mr Godsall were to interview delegates at next year’s global Gafcon conference and ask “are you part of the Anglican Communion”, all would say yes and most would be technically correct even by Canterbury’s definition.
• “The Global South is a term bandied around but it isn’t always helpful and isn’t very accurate.” There is a united conservative voice being represented at the Lambeth Conference from Provinces in the global south, in the usual socio-economic sense, who call themselves the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans. So while it’s true that not everyone in the global south is conservative, most are, and certainly Global South is an accurate and helpful shorthand for a conservative grouping from the non-Western world representing the majority view of their constituency.
This is very helpful. Thank you! It’s the first time I have seen the diagram that you and Dr Walker produced in 2006 and it is interesting. It does feel like the upper half of your diagram (quadrants II and III) may be sparsely populated these days.
Susie Leafe on her blog (Anglican Futures) has drawn attention to wording that is in both drafts of the Lambeth Call on Human Dignity which says:
‘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.’
This seems a rejection of the dream of both Communion Conservatives and Liberals that the Anglican Communion could ever have a united position on this issue – it claims that such a dream is incompatible with Anglican ecclesiology. If either draft of that Lambeth Call is upheld by the Lambeth Conference, would it mean that the upper half of the diagram has been rejected as a possible path?
It is interesting to map the movement of Gregory Cameron from III to IV.
Is it fair to place Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda in quadrant I? It is their distress at the failure of the Communion to maintain unity and exercise discipline which has led them to stay away. Isn’t that their attempt to bring about the vision of quadrant II? They want to bring about Communion-wide repentance and they see this as their only remaining tool for bringing about that outcome. Given what has (not) happened since 2016 this is understandable. (You explain all this very clearly in your 22 July essay in Living Church.)
Imagine a bishop who personally holds conservative convictions, but says ‘This battle’s not worth fighting, we’ve lost anyway, I’m going quiet. Let’s issue a call which recognises the multiplicity of positions and then move on to other less contentious topics.’ Would that count as quadrant I? To me that feels much more like quadrant I, than the hopeful quest for repentance that Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda are pursuing.
Thank you for your ongoing prayerful reflection on these issues; I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s instalment.
Firstly Ian I want to thank you for your work at Synod. I carefully selected my choice of candidate in my area and thankfully they were selected and joined the conservative voices, which has been crucial this year.
I am retiring from Readership this year after 20 years. I am certainly disillusioned with the Church of England and the path it has taken. I wrote to my Area Dean about the LLLF course and it’s lack of reference to scripture and he asked me to write to my Bishop. The reply I received was disappointing to say the least. In my training we learned about the early church fathers and my favourite is Athanasius. He battled for years and ensured we have the Nicene Creed. Oh for an Athanasius in the current crop of bishops!
It seems that the whole of life is in the grip of the evil one and the remnant of the church is in a battle for faith and truth. Corruption and sleaze pervades our once Christian country and the church, as one commentator recently put it, has become the Church of Woke.
I remember in 2014 when the Same Sex Marriage Act as passed – I was leading the service that Sunday and there was nothing coming from Lambeth Palace for me to say to the faithful people. I felt alone and abandoned and I understood in my spirit that this was a momentous moment for the church. We had moved from Christian marriage being the core of our society to paganism. We are told to have compassion – what about compassion for the children born through surrogacy who will never know their mother! Of children being confused and sexualised at a young age. We know what Jesus would do to those who lead these little ones astray!
Thank you Tricia, not just for the detail of your message, but also its honesty.
I second Clive’s thanks, Tricia.
Orthodox believing Christians within the Church of England have been badly let down by their leaders. Of course God’s sovereignty is not in question, and God’s faithful soldiers remain unbowed, but the shame which hangs over the acquiescent leaders – those who have capitulated and those who have chosen to remain silent – has done great harm to our church and its future witness to a desperately needy nation.
Writing as a Jewish disciple of Jesus, I am staggered that people waste so much time and energy on the issue of whether or not homosexual acts are a sin or not.
Jesus was someone who followed Jewish teaching and thus condemned homosexual acts. However, because nearly all his encounters were with His fellow Jews, He never needed to make any statements on the subject as all His hearers were familiar with the teaching contained in the Tanakh (the Old Testament).
By contrast Paul, writing predominantly to those who had formerly been pagans, needed to spell out explicitly and in some detail that homosexual acts were not to be a part of any believer’s lifestyle and that ignoring this teaching would lead to suffering for that individual. This was at a time when no other religion condemned homosexual practices and homosexuality was as rampant in the Roman Empire then as it is in parts of the West today.
Had the Church not been so taken over by Gentiles that all attempts to maintain the linkage with the true Jewish religion contained within the Tanakh have been persecuted (e.g. the replacement of Passover by Easter as the time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection), we might have found it easier to deal with the latest heresy that God does not condemn all forms of intercourse outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Perhaps more Anglicans need to consider the title of a 2019 report “God’s Unfailing Word” and reflect on how heresies like Marionism are making a comeback in our own times? Perhaps we just need to look at the context of those to whom Jesus and Paul were speaking when considering our exegesis? Perhaps a non-theologian like me, a mere lay person, should not be writing on such a theological website (however much I enjoy reading at least most of the articles, the ones that, as a non-theologian, I can understand)?
Andrew, thank you. You are very welcome to comment; please do so more in the future!
You are absolutely spot on, and all the major commentators say exactly the same. There really is no ambiguity at all.
Im sorry if you think the church has been ‘taken over’ by Gentiles, but that is hardly how God sees it. He views it as His bride, made up of Jew and Gentile alike. If Jewish people have not become followers of Jesus, the Messiah, that is down to their own unbelief. Despite God literally walking amongst them, the vast majority rejected Him.
As for gay sex, Im pretty sure there are a number of Jewish groups who disagree with traditional Jewish teaching on the issue, so it’s hardly just a church issue. And remember it was because of the hardness of heart of many Jewish men and leaders that God permitted divorce, which they certainly took advantage of. But Jesus rebuked such a mindset. The Talmud regulates polygamy and does not prohibit it. Polygamy continues in groups such as Sephardic Jews. So perhaps the ‘take over’ by Gentiles wasnt such a bad thing.
Peter, have you not over compensated here? Wasn’t the main point of Andrew S’s comment the Church’s adoption of Marcionism, neo-Marcionism? I see it in comments made on this blog.
No. It was a very anti-Gentile tone.
Robert Runcie’s Presidential Address on “The Nature of the Unity We Seek” at the 1998 Lambeth Conference,
Should this not be dated 1988 rather than 1998?
1988 yes. Vivat noncensorship of intelligent voices.
There is an important part of the debate missing here. Although this controversy is supposedly centred on the reaffirmation of Lambeth 1.10, the draft Call in fact only picked out one section of Lambeth 1.10 and skipped over the rest. The part in Lambeth 1.10 about condemning irrational fear of homosexuals didn’t get mentioned. That matters when in recent years there has been so much active political debate in parts of the Anglican world about the criminalisation of homosexuality (including flirting with the death penalty). In particular some would question whether the Anglican Bishops in Ghana can be said to be in agreement with Lambeth 1.10 when they speak in favour of Proposals to extend the criminalisation of homosexuality to also criminalise any attempt to publicly advocate for gay rights.
(And of course, if this is the way things are thought about, this encourages the Wishful Thinking contingent to be as bold and outrageous as possible in their initial proposals, knowing that they will be met half way. This is a tactic we have seen for some time. It is haggling. The very idea that accuracy is attained through haggling….)
What is irrational fear? Is it not fear that has no rational status? It’s like talking about a fear of spiders. People are repelled by the multiple legs, quick movement and web making – is this rational – maybe it is as some spiders bite. To talk of irrational fear puts people in a position of the seemingly indefensible.
In 1967 this country changed the law and made homosexual behaviour legal providing it was in private between consenting adults. Following that we had the push in the 1990’s to make homosexuality acceptable by allowing civil partnerships. Same sex marriage was then foisted upon this country by David Cameron and has put the church under pressure to accept what the Bible clearly teaches as “sin”. This is planned active pressure to re-define a culturally Christian country into a pagan culture. Schools are forced by law to teach children at ever younger ages about sex in every format. The UN has in its programme nursery school children needing to know how to “pleasure” themselves. My grandson now has to navigate the territory of sexual identity at his secondary school as children are being taught to reject biology for “feelings”. Psalm 139 tells us that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” – you can take as many hormone pills as you like but it won’t change the truth of your chromosomes. So I have definitely come to see that it is not irrational to fear the sexual bandwagon that began rolling in 1967.
I think it’s not rational to fear anything in the same way as it is not rational to worry. It is an emotional thing to do not a rational thing to do.
Jesus said – Fear him who destroys body and soul – so I suppose you are making a fair point. We should fear the devil because (without Christ) he is much stronger than us. Just as (without Christ) the sexual revolution bandwagon is not stoppable by us. On the other hand, if we have Christ we can laugh at Satan, and poke holes in the sexual revolution bandwagon, while grabbing its captives from the flames. ‘Without Christ’ is only a hypothetical and since ‘with Christ’ is an option then there is no need to talk of the other option, if we have a solemn understanding of the gravity of the need to stick ‘with Christ’.
“With Christ”. That is a largely unrecognized weight of God’s glory.
Before I get banned from this site, you may be interested in this:
Using different words,
1 “The New Testament refers to our (believers) being united to Christ over 200 times….
2 Meaning is on two levels/dimensions;
2.1 Macro/ cosmic/federal
3 On the micro or intimate personal level, 1 Corinthians 6:13-18 speaks of sexual purity in our union with Christ.The Lord here refers to Jesus and members means body parts.
“Do you follow the logic of what Paul is saying? His point is tat we are so at one with Christ that to be iunited to a prostitute is to unite Christ with a prostitute.
“I say it cautiously, and with reverence, but I must ask you what the text is insisting on: Do you want to be responsible for Jesus comitting fornication? For to commit sexual immorality is – by virtue of your union with Christ- to cause Christ, in some sense to do, to do likewise. . I do not mean thatwe can make the risen Christ sin in that way. I am simply noticing what the text says—“Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?”—-and observing how vital amd powerful and intimate a thing our union with the Lord Jesus must be for Paul to say what he says here.”
From, “Deeper;” Dane C. Ortlund.
What a divine weighty corrective to sexual immorality, scripture (not Ortlund) is.
I recall, years ago, reading something along similar lines in, “The Road Less Travelled”, by M. Scott Peck, before ever I was a Christian.
I think it is a human thing to worry. I have often wondered how I would cope with persecution and suffering. If the enemy wins the revolution and I stay faithful to Christ, I am likely to find out. This is an illiberal liberalism which proclaims freedom from restraint, but punishment for dissent. I know Christ has the final victory and I will be with him in eternity, but the days on this earth are often in suffering. Christian persecution is growing throughout the world.
Are you suggesting we’d be better off if we hadn’t changed the law in 1967?
I am suggesting that once a door is ajar, those who seek to remake the world in their image of so called sexual freedom continue to leverage, as we have now seen with the transgender issue. “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” Matt 19:4-6
Consummation is at the heart of marriage and the possibility of new life.
I am stating that the Church and the world are two different places and the church cannot accept the values of the world, but the world effectively demands capitulation.
That’s right, Tricia. You understand.
That is a rather slippery non-answer.
When something is illegal then it is not possible for things to be so coordinated or organised. As soon as they became coordinated or organised (because of legality) along came HIV/AIDS to the extent it did. In whose wake we are supposed (by the propaganda) to affirm homosexual behaviour more not less (!).
I was recently blocked by twitter for saying the obvious and uncontested truth that per head homosexual male rates of HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis and monkeypox are considerably higher than average.
These tyrants want to block accurate and uncontested science, because it is inconvenient to them. Censor the truth? But we know their dishonest game.
Maybe there is need to consider the classic law v morals debate: Devlin v Hart which is part of the discussion of nature and purposes of criminal law and crime being an act against the State in contrast to civil law.
To AJ Bell
I believe Jesus instructed us to be as wise as serpents (slippery creature) and as gentle as doves. Maybe we are learning the lessons from the battery of accusations which comes from challenging the narrative – Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic etc. My grandson now has to wear a badge at his school with his pronoun displayed! He chose “Him” – I get angrier by the day!
Your precious grandson is the victim of what can be classified as a kind of child abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to be caring for him, having taken him out of the hands of his parents.
“… it generally means ‘hatred of homosexuals/homosexuality’. I am sure that no-one can produce anyone who hates either of those, either.”
I concede that the word ‘homophobia’ is indeed philologically unsound. However, the above fatuous statement, whether due to ignorance or to mendacity – and I don’t claim to know which – is sufficient to discredit you.
The instances you are thinking of are most likely to be either (a) hatred of effects, (b) hatred of the imposition of the sexual revolution way of thinking and the many precious lives this has harmed and is harming. But yes, thinking about it there is also (c) targeting a group of people (type of person) to bully. The question is whether (c) qualifies as hatred. It seems to me much more likely to be an instinct towards domination instead, which is what bullying is. Needing or wanting someone (who is perceived as weaker) to dominate. That is a different thing to hatred. The sort of person one hates is someone who has harmed you or harmed a dear one. The sort of behaviour one hates is behaviour that hurts souls and relationships and potentials.
This is very similar to the impulse which says ‘We know that motive X is misogyny.’ I cannot even begin to get my head round it. Mostly I can easily imagine a likelier motive. But also, secondly, one’s confidence in the judgment is not strengthened by the false certainty that witnesses to very little thought. And thirdly, if the judgment is given by someone of a different gender to the one judged, there is the danger that they will not be able to understand their way of thinking anyway. The situation with wild charges of ‘homophobia’ is a similar one.
The instances of which I am thinking are instances of hatred of homosexuals, or of people because they are believed, rightly or wrongly, to be homosexual. But you are free to waste time waffling and trying to argue that it isn’t “really” hatred of homosexuals, and even that it may be inspired by some morally virtuous motive. By doing so, you merely discredit yourself yet further.
You rightly note opposition and wrongly assume that opposition is typically hatred. Opposition is rational; hatred is emotional. I have listed already what seem to me the 3 likeliest scenarii.
I am not talking about opposition, rational or otherwise. I am talking about hatred of people because they are homosexual, or are believed to be so, and in particular the expression of that hatred in spiteful behaviour, which is downright evil. But no doubt there will always be people like your good self, who are ready to whitewash such despicable conduct in an effort to make it appear more acceptable, or at least condonable.
How on earth can you infallibly identify hatred in another? If you had humility, you would ask people what motivates them – after all, there are a lot of impulses to choose from, and also they will know 100 times better than anyone else what is inside their own head. You are actually claiming you know *better* than them what is inside *their* head. That is why your claim cannot be taken fully seriously.
Apart from which, the context does not suit hatred as a diagnosis. How can someone hate someone whom they have never met and who has done nothing against them? They may represent or exemplify something they despise or something they oppose. They may be regarded as easy meat for domination or bullying. Those explanations look more coherent in context.
What thoroughly convincing explanations you give, Mr Shell. A gay friend of mine was followed on his way home from the pub one night and was murdered by having his head smashed in with a block of concrete. How on earth can I identify hatred there? If I had humility, I’d be asking the murderer what motivated him, not assuming hatred. After all, there are a lot of impulses to choose from, and the murderer must have known 100 times better than anyone else what was inside his own head. Obviously no claim of hatred can be taken seriously.
To take another example, one of many, how could the man who detonated the nail bomb at a gay pub, the Admiral Duncan, in 1999, killing 3 people and injuring 70, have been motivated by hatred? He wouldn’t even have known most of the people in the pub, if any, and they had done nothing against him. The context clearly does not suit hatred as a diagnosis.
I respectfully suggest that you chuck it, Mr Shell. You do neither yourself nor anyone else any favours with your humbug.
The fact that he did not know them is what proves what motivated such tragedies was not hatred. Or if hatred it were, it could be hatred only of an abstract. So it could not be personal hatred.
Also, as mentioned, you cannot dictate what another person’s attitude is (and in doing so, not allow any difference of opinion. People will always be allowed to have different opinions and will not look favourably on those who forbid that.) They themselves know 100 times better. People understand the wrongness of dictating, and also of claiming to know better than the protagonists, when they are on the receiving end of it.
It would be very explicable if this were bullying or acting because one despised.
Are you confusing ‘motivated by hatred’ with ‘hateful’ (which means deserving of our hatred)?
William – I’m sorry you have to put up with this. I detect signs of autism.
Any signs of accurate thought or regard for precise truth? All scholars are autistic, then? ‘Autistic’ is a smear? it is certainly a fashionable one, so that justifies it.
Any signs of talking behind people’s backs or over their heads?
My final comment on this point (I hope). How is being motivated by bullying or despising one whit more condonable than being motivated by hatred? Hence I wrote ‘It would be very explicable if this [the tragedies mentioned by William] were bullying or acting because one despied.’.
Organs like twitter are typical of the current malaise in using ‘hateful’ (objective) to mean ‘hate-filled’ (subjective, and also impossible to prove; and objectively unlikely).
To say that no-one is allowed to doubt that X is motivated by hate is forcing people who think that it is motivated by something else to lie, which is a serious thing. It is thought policing, and thought policing always forces at least some honest people to lie (or is minded to do so). There are few enough honest/precise people without trying to diminish their number.
The more precision the better – otherwise we have to subscribe to the idea that vagueness is equally good to precision (or better).
Hope this clarifies.
So the parts of Lambeth 1.10 that might be more challenging for you and others on the more “conservative” side the discussion are irrelevant and can be ignored. How wonderfully convenient for you.
As for not being able to find anyone who fears homosexuals – have you even seen the debate in Ghana, for example?
I have seen opposition not fear. And the opposition is to homosexual behaviour not samesex attracted people. So if what I say is true, then your perspective fails in 2 different ways. But do point out counterexamples.
I have deleted a thread here which was clearly outside the comments guidelines.
Perhaps there is a need to look into the questions of Jurisprudence and the school of Natural Law, the theology of which seems to have played next to no part in this whole farrago in the framing of this Call, though at many times on this blog it has raised its head through the teleological theme of God and humanity. Which has nothing to do with fear or phobia.
And for a teleological, canonical, biblical theology take on marriage, along comes a retweet from Ian Paul, 50 mins ago with this embedded article from NT Wright:
With understanding and an eye to the imminent moratorium – Ciao, Ian – not that it has been breached in letter or spirit. (And with apologies to the Beatles; Hello, Goodbye).