What are the bishops saying and doing in response to the end of LLF?


Well, the time has come. The long-awaited (and much leaked) statement from the House of Bishops after the exhausting process of Living in Love and Faith has at least been made public. Before diving into the details, it is worth noting the questions that most people have as they read.

  1. Will there be any proposal to revise the Church’s doctrine of marriage?
  2. Will clergy be able to enter same-sex marriages?
  3. Will there be any change to the questions asked in vocational processes? In particular, will reference to Issues in Human Sexuality be ended?
  4. Will there be the possibility of formally blessing same-sex marriages?
  5. If any of the above change from past practice, will there be a clear, theological rationale offered?
  6. Will the different responses to any of the above cohere with each other?
  7. Will bishops in their dioceses act with integrity to the questions asked above?

The latter has become an important question in the light of the way that some have spoken publicly since the leak of what was going to be proposed—and this, along with the actual press statement issued to fill the speculative gap between Wednesday and today (Friday) have all served to muddy the water and invite people to make great proclamations before seeing the actual proposal from the House of Bishops.

So, what does it actually say? Before jumping to my summary (which you can scroll down to below), I simply highlight some comments in the report as they occur.


Introduction

In this letter bishops describe their shared commitment to welcoming, accepting and affirming every person in Christ, while acknowledging their continued disagreement about same-sex relationships. They express their shared desire to find a way of walking together in Christ.’ This statement completely merges the welcome we give to all people, with the affirmation of ethical decisions and moral issues. In this sense, it is completely obfuscating. The commitment to ‘walk together’ suggests that institutional unity is more important than the need to discern truth and error, something that the bishops actually commit to in their ordination vows.

and are united in expressing their grief and apologising for the way that many LGBTQI+ people have been treated by the Church, causing pain and harm…’ The question is, what is the apology for? One of the (few) gains in the LLF process has been a greater care in the language about, attitude to, and reception of gay people in the Church. But is following the teaching of Jesus, that marriage is between one man and one woman, an act of ‘exclusion’ for which we must apologise? There is a widespread view ‘out there’ that the answer is ‘yes’; so without a change in doctrine this apology will sound shallow and insincere.

Bishops joyfully affirm, and want to acknowledge in church, stable, committed relationships between two people – including same-sex relationships.’ How can this be done when the doctrine of the Church on marriage is that sexual intimacy outside of male-female marriage is sinful? What does this statement even mean?

The draft prayers…they will be commended to the Church under what is permitted by Canon B5, and will not contradict the Church’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony, as articulated in Canon B30.’ But even a brief glance at the prayers, and the introduction to them, show that this is manifestly not true. Calling black white does not make it so; claiming that the prayers are compatible with the doctrine of marriage like this is going to convince no-one.

It is envisaged that these resources can be used flexibly, thus anticipating not just the varied pastoral situations a parish priest may encounter, but also the different convictions clergy may have. Some clergy might choose to use all the resources to dedicate, give thanks for, and pray God’s blessing on two people in an exclusive committed relationship.’ What does ‘different convictions’ mean? Does it now mean that assent to the Church’s doctrine of marriage is now optional? How is that coherent? How does it not undermine ordination vows?

Bishops have also agreed that the conversations about these, and related matters, need to continue in a spirit of love and grace.’ So debate and dispute are to continue through more exhausting years? How on earth is this a good idea?


Pastoral Letter

We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.’ So the question here is, are Jesus’ hard sayings part of ‘God loving us’? Is his teaching on marriage as between one man and one woman, the current doctrine of the Church, not loving? More basically, is Jesus’ central call in his preaching, to ‘repent and believe’, loving? Once more, all the issues of welcome, kindness, and actually teaching are conflated and confused.

We have studied the Scriptures, paid attention to the Church’s tradition and listened to wider society, as well as to the voices of our sister churches in the Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners.’ The scriptures don’t appear to have played much part here; the majority of the Anglican Communion will reject this proposal and the Communion will fracture. So what does ‘listening’ actually mean here?

We have diverse convictions about sexuality and marriage.’ That can only be interpreted as meaning, some bishops believe in the doctrine of the Church on marriage, and others do not. How can that be a healthy position to be in? Has personal decision now triumphed over catholic theological obedience? How does that square with ordination vows to receive, uphold, teach and pass on the faith entire?

Repeated occurrences of ‘the radical new Christian inclusion’: this is an empty phrase, which remains completely unexplored. How can it be ‘radical and new’ if it is rooted in Scripture?

This resource will offer clergy a variety of flexible ways to affirm and celebrate same-sex couples in church, and will include prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and for God’s blessing.’ The doctrine of the Church is that such sexual same-sex relationships are sinful, and any sexual relationship outside male-female marriage is to be met with a call to repentance. So how is this statement compatible with current doctrine? It is claimed that there is ‘Legal Advice’ on p22—but all that is offered is a bland statement, without any exploration whatever. These things are manifestly contradictory, even to the ordinary reader. And what about other forms of sexual relationship outside marriage? Can these too be ‘affirmed and celebrated’?

These Prayers of Love and Faith will not be the same as conducting a marriage in church. They will not alter the Church of England’s celebration of Holy Matrimony, which remains the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as set forth in its canons and authorised liturgies.’ Except that, using existing prayers, and praying over rings, looks exactly like conducting a marriage. So it does indeed alter the Church’s celebration.

We respect and share these differences, maintaining that within the theological diversity we represent.’ If some people believe the doctrine of the Church, and others don’t, this is not ‘diversity’, it is contradiction, incoherence, and disunity. 

The same can be said for the statement on the next page: ‘we interpret the Bible differently and have come to different conclusions about numerous matters, including what it has to say about gender, relationships and marriage.’ This is not, as claimed, a ‘compromise’; it is complete incoherence.


Prayers of Love and Faith

The positive aspects of marriage – stability, faithfulness and fruitfulness – mean that it is identified as a special, specific way of life which brings together the ‘goods’ needed for flourishing, or blessing. It does not mean that no other way of life can do so, but that this particular configuration of life is recognised as a source of blessing. The preface to the BCP takes this further by hinting at a sacramental quality in marriage.’

This comment is extraordinary in its incoherence. The doctrine of marriage in the BCP, the formularies, the wider consensus of the church catholic, rooted in the clear teaching of scripture precisely does mean that this is the only place for sexual intimacy. We know this, because the bishops have said precisely this in their previous teaching! Yet there is no hint in this document that there was in fact any previous teaching, let alone any engagement with it, or explanation of why it is no longer valid. Here is the statement from 2005 in the light of the introduction of civil partnerships:

The Church of England’s teaching is classically summarised in The Book of Common Prayer, where the marriage service lists the causes for which marriage was ordained, namely: ‘for the procreation of children, …for a remedy against sin [and]…. for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’ In the light of this understanding the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage: a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside marriage, whether heterosexual or between people of the same sex, are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.

And here is confirmation of this from 2014, when same-sex marriages were made law:

21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church’s teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.

The new statement airily brushes these aside without so much as a mention.

How far does the biblical metaphor of Christ and the church control our theology of marriage, and does the difference between Christ and church map out against sex difference between bride and groom? Would moving away from sexual differentiation as essential constitute a fundamental change, or would it be an extension of the present doctrine, to include a wider category of people? These are questions about which we have not yet reached a consensus.’ If that is the case, then I do not know what the bishops have been reading. Amongst biblical scholars and many other thinkers, there is a very clear consensus: marriage in scripture is between a man and a woman, and sex difference is essential to that. That is why liberal scholars who speak with integrity are happy to say that they simply reject scripture. I offer a longer list here, but one example will suffice here:

The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good (Luke Timothy Johnson).

The statement is indeed clearly appealing to ‘another authority’; the difference is that it appears to lacks the ‘intellectual honesty’ to admit this.

Some may wish to use the service for dedication and thanksgiving, and others for dedication and blessing.’ Since blessing a sexual relationship that is not marriage between one man and one woman contradicts the doctrine of marriage, this appears to be saying that it is optional for clergy to uphold the doctrine of the Church. That completely undermines their ordination vows.

To ask for God’s blessing is to express an intention to walk with God and put God at the centre of what we do and how we relate. Our prayers ask for God’s blessing – they are prayers, not pronouncements. God will answer as God chooses.’ This is arrant nonsense, and fails to engage at all with the biblical and theological understanding of blessing. It is clear from scripture that we cannot bless that which God does not.

In Scripture, blessing is given to people rather than things, actions or ways of life. There are, two exceptions: the Sabbath is blessed and in the New Testament, bread is blessed before eating.’ This shows rather astonishing ignorance of biblical texts. Whatever you end up believing about Communion, there is simply no doubt that when Jesus ‘takes bread and blesses’, he is blessing (ie thanking) God, not the bread. You have to be completely ignorant of the historical context of the NT, Jewish practices, and Greek grammar not to realise this.

This distinction between Holy Matrimony and civil marriage now means that all couples who enter a civil marriage are obtaining a civil status (which has always been the case); but they are not necessarily entering a marriage as understood by the Church of England (i.e. Holy Matrimony).’ Again, this is obviously nonsense. If a couple enter a same-sex marriage, then they are entering a sexual relationship which is not marriage according to the Church, so it is (according to current doctrine) sinful. If this distinction really pertained, then we would treat all civilly married couples as cohabiting.

While not explicitly stated in the Church’s Canons, for many years the church has taught that the only rightful place for sexual activity is marriage. There is disagreement in the Church about how this applies in our culture today. The reality within which the Church now lives is that couples inhabit their relationships differently.’ Why does ‘people living differently’ imply that such arrangements are holy and to be commended? This is a bizarre claim.


Towards new pastoral resources 

In the meantime, bishops continue to be asked to respond to pastoral situations for which there is currently no clear guidance in the Church of England.’ The reason for this is that, in the ten or more years that we have been debating these issues, the House of Bishops has failed to engage with the most basic of questions, such as ‘If a married man legally transitions, is he still married? If so, is that because he is still a man, or because we have sanctioned same-sex marriage?’ If those most basic pastoral and theological issues have not been explored, no wonder we are at a loss.

Jesus calls us into relationship with him and into different kinds of relationships with each other.’ I just have no idea what this means. That all patterns of relationship are equally holy? That they are equally to be commended?

It will be vital for the widest range of voices to be heard‘ in replacing Issues in Human Sexuality. Why? And where is a single mention of either biblical theology or the obligations of clergy in the light of their ordination vows?

Agreement and affirmation of the necessary qualities for a relationship to be considered faithful and holy.’ Why is this up for discussion? Why isn’t it simply drawing on the Church’s doctrine of marriage, and the myriad of previous statements by the House of Bishops?

Principles for living well together as a Church with diversity and difference.’ Why is theological diversity here assumed to be a virtue? How does this square with the Church having any doctrine at all on anything?

How to help with navigating different views held within the Church on questions of sexuality especially in delivering relationships and sex education.’ So the Church of England no longer has a theological view which children need to hear of, learn about, and understand in order to protect them from the damaging forces in contemporary culture?


Areas for development

At the heart of Christianity is the incarnation.’ No: at the heart of Christianity is creation, human sin, salvation, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and eschatological hope. None of these feature anywhere in this document as far as I can see. Quite astonishing.

The tradition of honouring those who embrace this way of life [chastity and celibacy] in the church goes back to New Testament times, but it can look like a puzzle or even a scandal in a contemporary society where freedom for sexual expression is readily aligned with personal fulfilment, though we recognise the negative effects of some aspects of this tradition.’ This is a woefully inadequate comment on the centrality of chastity. From this you would never guess that our society has become highly sexualised, that this is a pastoral and theological problem, or that Jesus and Paul were single.

The area of attention we have identified here is about what wisdom the Church may have to share about living well in everyday faithful relationships, whether same-sex or opposite sex, married or not married.’ It is extraordinary that this approach appears to reduce the issue to a question of pragmatic situation ethics, rather than exploring a critique of actual patterns and forms of relationships. It is as if the writer has forgotten that Christians ever had anything to say about this.


Conclusion and Consequences

The list above is long enough, though there is more that could be said, and no doubt will be others. But this is enough to make some observations about what this represents.

First, those writing this statement (and so perhaps those agreeing it?) appear to have abandoned any need to offer something coherent. The different elements of the document are so manifestly contradictory that I found the piece astonishing. Is this where we have got to as a Church?

Secondly, there is simply no attempt to acknowledge, let alone engage with, developed, theologically rooted, statements from the past. Despite all the hours spent in the LLF discussions, it appears as though the bishops feel able to magic something new out of thin air, and give no account whatever as to why their thinking has changed.

Third, the engagement with scripture is just woeful. Simplistic, proof-text ideas are plucked out of context. The citation of Ruth and Naomi as a possible model for same-sex sexual relating is a low point amongst low points.

Fourth, there is no attempt to justify the notion of ‘diversity of views’ in relation to the idea that the Church might actually believe in something in the form of doctrine.

Fifthly, and related, it appears to assume that it is optional for clergy to uphold and teach the doctrine of the Church, and fashion their lives according to it. This seems entirely at odds with their ordination vows.

Sixthly, there seems to be no engagement with the wider church catholic, with the teachings of the early church on sexual ethics and why they were important, with the views of the majority of Christians in the world today, or the majority view of the Anglican Communion.

Finally, there is a complete lack of critique of our contemporary culture, the sexualisation of identity, and the damage that this is doing.

I realise that, having posed a coherent set of questions at the beginning, I have not offered a coherent reply. That is because this document offers none. I cannot see that it really offers any coherent answer to any of those important questions.


What will be the consequences of this statement?

It is difficult to know how different groups in the Church will respond to this. Justin Welby has said (at the press conference) that he himself will not use  these prayers, in light of his role in the Anglican Communion—but that will make no difference at all. This will be the last straw, and the complete break-up of the Communion, which began to happen at the Lambeth Conference in the summer, will surely follow swiftly.

There is likely to be a parallel break-up of the Church of England, though it is difficult to say what form that will take. Justin has used the same language of ‘diversity of views’ about the C of E as he used last summer about the Communion. The difference is that, in the Communion, there are already distinct canonical jurisdictions, so such diversity is, in theory, possible. But how can the C of E hang together if believing in the doctrine of the Church becomes optional? This document is quite literally an invitation for everyone to ‘do what is right in his (or her) own eyes.’

This will very quickly have implications for diocesan finances. Already under severe pressure, many will find the loss of contributions of even a few of the larger, orthodox churches will be a last straw.

And this in turn will have implications for numerical growth and engagement with young people. It is already the case that young people attending Church of England churches mostly attend those who uphold historic Christian teaching in this area, even if they are not yet consistently convinced of it. But as more and more people see the damage that gender identity ideology is doing, more will be looking for a radical alternative. The same is true outside the CofE. Those denominations (Methodists, URC) that have changed their doctrine have few young people; those that haven’t (Vineyard, FIEC, many Baptists, most black-led churches) are the ones young people attend.

Unless something drastic happens, it is hard to see anything other than a widespread collapse of diocesan and parish structures happening over the next five to ten years.

 


Some resources

Regular readers will know that I have hosted plenty of commentary on this issue, and all the articles can be found under the Sexuality tab. (It is worth noting, though, that 90% of what I publish is on other issues.)

Three other resources seem pertinent at the moment. The first is the statement written by Cardinal Ratzinger back in 1986, which included this prescient paragraph:

14. With this in mind, this Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programmes which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful. For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one’s conscience. Its specific authority is not recognized. Some of these groups will use the word “Catholic” to describe either the organization or its intended members, yet they do not defend and promote the teaching of the Magisterium; indeed, they even openly attack it. While their members may claim a desire to conform their lives to the teaching of Jesus, in fact they abandon the teaching of his Church. This contradictory action should not have the support of the Bishops in any way.

The second is also a Catholic resource, and also from some years ago, though reflecting on the Jewish heritage of sexual ethics which the followers of Jesus continued:

To a world which divided human sexuality between penetrator and penetrated, Judaism said, “You are wrong — sexuality is to be divided between male and female.” To a world which saw women as baby producers unworthy of romantic and sexual attention, Judaism said “You are wrong — women must be the sole focus of men’s erotic love.” To a world which said that sensual feelings and physical beauty were life’s supreme goods, Judaism said, “You are wrong — ethics and holiness are the supreme goods.” A thousand years before Roman emperors kept naked boys, Jewish kings were commanded to write and keep a sefer torah, a book of the Torah…

The bedrock of this civilization, and of Jewish life, has been the centrality and purity of family life. But the family is not a natural unit so much as it is a value that must be cultivated and protected. The Greeks assaulted the family in the name of beauty and Eros. The Marxists assaulted the family in the name of progress. And today, gay liberation assaults it in the name of compassion and equality. I understand why gays would do this. Life has been miserable for many of them. What I have not understood was why Jews or Christians would join the assault. I do now. They do not know what is at stake. At stake is our civilization.

Finally, I found this vigorous defence of the historic teaching of the Church—still, it seems, the doctrine of the C of E in name at least—from my deanery colleague Dr Jamie Franklin, helpful and refreshing. I hope you will too.


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576 thoughts on “What are the bishops saying and doing in response to the end of LLF?”

  1. As the Bishops in the Church of England, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches and the Roman Catholic Church all have their own interpretations of theology, inevitably as they are separate denominations. What they all agree on though is their Bishops are the product of Apostolic succession

    Reply
    • As the Bishops in the Church of England, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches and the Roman Catholic Church all have their own interpretations of theology, inevitably as they are separate denominations.

      Which means that at most one of them can be correct, right? Do you not think it’s important to have correct theology?

      Reply
      • If all churches had the same theology the Reformation would never have happened and all western Churches would still be Roman Catholic

        Reply
        • If all churches had the same theology the Reformation would never have happened and all western Churches would still be Roman Catholic

          True, but the point is that the Reformed churches and the Roman church don’t just have different theology, but that that means that (at least) one of them has wrong theology, yes?

          After all, theology isn’t an art where there’s no right or wrong answers. It’s not made-up and you pick whichever church has a theology that is more to your taste. Theology is a science: it’s a study of reality, and it can be either corrector incorrect, in as much as it does or does not correctly describe reality.

          So do you not think it’s important to get theology right?

          Reply
          • No theology is not a science, except for evangelicals but even they pick and choose. Homosexual marriage not OK it seems, though Christ never opposed it but divorce even without adultery OK against the word of Christ and women priests OK against the word of Paul

          • No theology is not a science

            Not a science? What do you think it is then? I mean you do think God is real, right? You don’t think that religion is all a big game of dress-up where we do ceremonies to make ourselves feel better about life, or anything like that?

          • No it isn’t a science, it is a faith. You can’t prove God exists, you have faith he does

            You do think God exists, right? Presumably you agree it’s quite important to get the right answer to that question, yes? You didn’t just decide to live as if God exists because you like the ceremonies and the rituals of the Church of England, even though you’re not really convinced that God exists at all?

        • T1,
          Seriously, really, are you saying that all the appoinents of Bishops throughout the history of the CoE are or have been made as part of Apostolic succession?
          1.Even atheist Bishops?
          2 Even deist Bishops?
          These are categories that none of the Apostles, fell into! And how do we know that? What is the source?
          (Wouldn’t true apostolic succession be confined to Messianic Jews?)

          Reply
          • ‘We know that the bishops are the successors to the apostles, because the bishops told us so, and they must be right for they are the successors to the apostles.’

    • Apostolic succession isn’t the Anglican measure of truth (Canon A5 as Ian P puts above). You may have missed it… or avoided a clear rebuttal of your non-Anglican view.

      I know of no Bishop (over the 46 years of my ministry) who believes in Apostolic Succession as the vehicle of truth as you seem to…. Even, dare I say, the odd pompous ones. 🙂

      If there is an Apostolic succession re truth it’s in the faithful adherence to the apostolic teaching passed down in the Scripture.

      Further conversation would seem pointless on this digression.

      Reply
      • Apostolic succession has continued in the Anglican church through direct line from the original Apostles through the Roman Catholic bishops who became Anglican at the English Reformation to the Anglican Bishops of today. It is a key reason why the Church of England is a Catholic and Apostolic Church and not just an evangelical one

        Reply
        • Hence why what the Church of England bishops have collected from the Scriptures and put forward in Church of England canon law is pivotal to the Church of England. Not just the Scriptures alone

          Reply
        • That is nothing but, pompous,
          preposterous self refuting bunckum that bears no relation to reality.
          You are called to account.
          Just answer the questions I asked.
          Your tangential game – playing trolling is tedious.
          1. What or who do you believe?
          2 What is the evangel.
          3 What did the Apostles have to say is the evangel?
          4 What did the apostles, write, teach and preach?

          Reply
        • Apostolic succession has continued in the Anglican church through direct line from the original Apostles through the Roman Catholic bishops who became Anglican at the English Reformation to the Anglican Bishops of today.

          Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t; but the point us that the Church of England doesn’t hold apostolic succession to be any kind of assurance of true theology. If it did then you’d be able to find reference to it in the canons or the thirty-nine articles, wouldn’t you? Whereas in fact article XX specifically rules out any measure of truth other than the Bible.

          Reply
          • Article 20 says the Church has ultimate authority over faith and article 23 confirms nobody can preach without lawful appointment by the Church of England authorities which comes from the bishops appointed by apostolic succession ultimately

          • Article 20 says the Church has ultimate authority over faith

            Did you read past the first fifteen words?

            ‘And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written’

            That means that the Bible has ultimate authority over the faith, because it is the Bible which determines what it is and is not lawful for the Church of England to ordain.

            I’m afraid with this and the thing about your misunderstanding of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, you do seem to have a tendency to not read things fully, don’t you?

  2. Saul’s armour was presumably good armour but it was a problem to David who let it go in order to tackle the challenge in front of him. The Church Fathers were wise and there was considerable wisdom around in 1662, but there were also political machinations; they were not times of particular spiritual purity. The role of the emperors in shaping the creeds, and the role of Parliament shaping the Church of England was not particularly godly. Our key creeds are mostly about Jesus because his divinity and humanity were the hot issue in town in the early centuries. The 39 Articles are also a strange hotch-potch, and of their day.
    The Church of England is now set up to make change very difficult. It took an Alternative Service Book to break the monopoly of BCP. I am a fan of BCP but not as my complete diet. I am a fan of some of the great thinkers of that time but I don’t think they had it all right, or that there is nothing new to learn. I am not going to be enslaved to a set of contextual and partial and political statements, but I will honour their intent.

    In the current debate those who seek an “inclusive church” broadly start with a theology; those who hold the traditional line claim clarity and truth from a few key verses from the Bible. It is true that many from the more liberal or inclusive position do not engage with the clear message of those verses. The Scriptures clearly do not accept same-sex relationships, seeing them as contrary to the path of salvation (1 Cor 6:9-10) an abomination (Leviticus 18:22) and unnatural (Romans 1: 26-27). Yes the sexual world of that time was rather different from ours but I think it is important to be honest about these texts and what they say.
    Leviticus is quite concerned about blood and semen, in a way we are not. Paul’s use of unnatural needs to be looked at carefully, not least when he thinks it is unnatural for a man to have long hair, we may question it; we may also question if it is disgraceful for a man to pray with a hat on (1 Cor 11)! Paul had a very different way of viewing the world, the place of man, the place of woman, their respective and different roles, and he had a theology which gave him some basis – (the Word came from a man / the woman was deceived). Many evangelicals have now discarded the verses about women not teaching or leading; many seem fairly laid back about remarriage of divorcees. Traditional leaders can bend Scripture when they want to, or prioritise some passages over others!
    I would also suggest that there is a huge inconsistency in the particular way the traditional position is being focused. If any sexual relationship outside marriage is sinful, why is this not being said loud and clear; why the focus on a small group of people who have found love with a person of the same sex? And if it is unnatural to desire a person of the same sex because God has made us heterosexual, then I think the traditional view should be honest and speak of same-sex desire as unnatural and contrary to God’s design. While I do not in any way go down this route myself, I think it is the honest route for those who uphold the biblical verses. Thielicke in “The Ethics of Sex” has an honest exploration of this but it does not seem to be well-known.
    The recent documents have raised the question whether a civil marriage is a marriage in the eyes of God, and in what way it is different from Holy Matrimony – no vows before God, no blessing, no acknowledgement of the Creator. I suspect this will open a can of sleeping dogs, or maybe the can will be closed quickly. We accept various forms and understandings of marriage.
    Of course the liberal argument could decide that the verses in question that condemn same-sex relations do not matter, and there is precedent here, where so many other passages about contentious issues are written out, or scholars play hermeneutical Twister to try and make them mean something else. Traditional commentators need to be careful because logs in eyes do not help clarity of vision.
    Matthew changes the Syro-Phoenician woman to a Canaanite – someone who should have been exterminated, but she is made welcome by Jesus, despite the protests from the disciples. How many Canaanites are we continuing to drive away, when apparently they are loved by Jesus?

    The traditional view is selective in what it chooses to focus on, and who it chooses to exclude. The wealthy would probably be a better group to challenge about inclusion if we are to take the main thrust of Scripture! Jesus is much more vocal against them.
    The traditionalist has found many of the recent changes a challenge; there remains a group who cannot accept women in leadership or teaching, but they remained loyal in the Church of England though their Supreme Governor for 70 years was the Queen, nor did they say that the country was going to the dogs because a woman had become prime-minister.
    If, and it is an if, but if the world-view and the understanding of men and women, their roles, and their place in society of the first century world was foundationally different from how we now understand things, then it is reasonable to read the verses on men, women, their roles, what is deemed a sexual sin etc, in the light of this and we may find ourselves upholding key values, but deciding there is a greater equality and inclusion and acceptance. [We certainly now see slavery as fundamentally wrong, but then they did not; we now read those passages which speak of slaves with a double lens, of then and now.] Peter saw all sorts of foods he knew to be unclean, but he discovered that what God has made is clean; that too may be a passage to reflect on.

    Reply
    • A bit of a farrago of helf-digested and rather confused ideas flung together here, Peter.
      I don’t have a problem with seeing sane-sex erotic desire as being contrary to nature – that’s what Romans 1 says (para phusin).
      All kinds of feelings and desires exist in people and many, maybe most, are not consciously chosen. It’s what we do with our desires thst counts.
      As Martin Luther supposedly said, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your head but you can stop them building a nest in your hair.”
      According to M. Seto, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology (2009), under 5% of adult males are susceptible to paedophiliac desires. Most do not act them out, other than through watching pornography or fantasising. Even a figure of under 5% exceeds the number of self-described homosexuals (1.5%) or bisexual (1.3%), according to the 2021 UK Census.
      I do not think men with paedophiliac attraction have “consciously” chosen this sexual desire.
      How would you counsel a person with paedophiliac attraction? Would you counsel him to battle the desires through some kind of askesis or would you be happy for him to continue with fantasies (even computer-generated ones)?
      Christians who are serious about holiness don’t ho combing Scripture looking for exception clauses. They ask thenselves, “How do I glorify God and access His grace to live in a way thast pleases Him?”

      Reply
    • ‘those who hold the traditional line claim clarity and truth from a few key verses from the Bible’ Sorry, Peter, that is simply not the case. Scripture’s teaching on marriage is a consistent thread running through the narrative. The ‘boo’ verses are just the few examples where the distinctive commitment to sex and marriage as between one man and one woman come into contact with surrounding culture.

      Reply
      • This is a pretty basic error by Peter and rather surprising to see. Anybody looking at what Jesus and His apostles say in the Gospels and Epistles about the character of *Christian marriage will easily conclude that Marriage in the New Creation is:
        – to be held in honour
        – to be free of any taint of unfaithfulness
        – between one man and one woman
        – intended for life (divorce is strongly condemned)
        – is for bringing up Christian children and for mutual support
        – not for everyone: being single is no impediment to being a faithful disciple.
        Whatever else pertained in the ancient world (polygyny, easy divorce, concubinage etc, acceptance of prostitution or fornication with slaves), Christian marriage was to be distinctively different.
        Peter needs to read the consistent and consentient evidence of the NT: it all points in the above direction.

        Reply
      • I was thinking in that instance about the the few key verses around same-sex relations, not marriage, where I grant there are fuller and longer explorations. I should have been clearer.
        However, with regards marriage, I think it might be more accurate to talk of particular threads running through the narratives as well as the non-judgemental accounts of the multiple marriages of key leaders in the Old Testament.
        Just because Israel is often portrayed as the woman, whether the bride or the harlot, and God as the husband, I don’t think that that necessarily requires people of any culture and period to sign up to heterosexual marriage as the only true expression. Quite a few scholars would argue that the image of husband and disobedient wife, who is punished, is actually quite problematic. The Scriptures have a primarily male audience and readership, especially the OT, and we need to be aware of this when we read them. While the epistles do construct a model of monogamy, we find in Revelation a reworking of many of the Old Testament images of women, Jezebel, harlot, bride etc.

        We can understand the images of masters and slaves without endorsing slavery as appropriate and right.

        Reply
  3. No it is reality. Just Evangelicals like you refuse to accept one of the key foundation stones of the Church of England, Apostolic succession and indeed the wider Anglican Communion as a whole because it does not suit your agenda. Tough

    Reply
    • Wider Anglican Communion? Is that like the last Lambeth? You are having a laugh.
      Answer the questions. Please.
      Your lack of answers is an answer of itself.
      It is clear that it is beyond you.
      Are you actually a member of the CoE?
      You clearly don’t know what an evangelical is, if you don’t know what the evangel is.

      1 What or who do you worship?
      2 What is the evangel?
      3 Canon law. Would you follow Bishops in breach?
      Goodbye. Everyone will be pleased I’m drawing a line under this.
      They can draw their own conclusion on you and the views you present, represent as the CoE.

      Reply
      • Geoff – don’t fed the troll! ‘T1’ isn’t a serious commentator but somebody just trying to wind up evangelicals. Best ignored.

        Reply
        • James – he simply refuses to accept that he is a sinner, fall under the conviction of sin – basically he point blank refuses to accept his need for a redeemer (see my criticism of the svenskakyran in response to him earlier and his reply – he doesn’t like being told that he is a sinner; he doesn’t like the church concentrating on sin). Yes – right now he is trying to wind up evangelicals – there are many Christians who came to faith through a process which involved mocking evangelicals before some sort of `road to Damascus’ experience. So perhaps his trolling is more encouraging than a complete apathy would be.

          Reply
          • Jock – Our Lord and His Apostles set limits to the amount of effort you should put into correcting one who is wilfully distorting the Christian message.
            ‘T1’ knows what he or she is doing – it’s just trolling. So there is now no point in answer these silly comments but there is always a point in praying for ‘T1’ to start thinking – eternal issues are at stake.

          • James – I quite agree – the basic points were made long ago – all we now is ‘vain repetitions’ that are going round in circles. But the main point here is clear – and it isn’t SSM (which may be important for him, but is not the main thing) – he doesn’t like being told he is a sinner, he doesn’t like being called to repentance – his definition of an `evangelical’ church is one where he might hear the call to repentance and hear the gospel of repentance unto remission of sins. For church service, he’s looking for a nice fancy dress party where he won’t be bothered by the gospel message (but his presence here would suggest that the gospel may be breaking in whether he likes it or not). But you’re correct that all the points have been made, any further interaction is basically going round in circles repeating the same things over and over again and is therefore a waste of time.

        • The thing is that, here, he doesn’t wind me up (or not much!). It’s his basic ignorance of what Anglicanism is… Hard to get one’s head around with regards to theology or actual life in the CofE.

          Your advice is sound… “Best ignored”.

          All that needs be said has been said. Feeding his responses is entirely pointless…

          Reply
          • It’s his basic ignorance of what Anglicanism is… Hard to get one’s head around with regards to theology or actual life in the CofE.

            It’s quite intriguing. The person seems to make up in their head things like what the law says or what the Church of England is and then convince themselves that this thing they have made up is the case, regardless of reality.

            At the moment I’m just fascinated to find out whether the person actually believes in God, or whether they think that the whole point of the Church of England is the collective ceremonies and rituals and it doesn’t really much matter whether God actually exists or not.

            It’d be quite worrying if this type of person were to make up more than a tiny percentage of the Church of England, wouldn’t it?

          • Who cares what ‘Anglicanism’ is? It is small beer indeed compared to Anglicanism’s Lord and entire raison d’etre, whom T1 is struggling to fit into the picture at all.

      • I do know what an evangelical is, ie a Baptist or a Pentecostal or a charismatic evangelical or a member of the Free Church of Scotland for example. A Church which is solely Bible based, has little time for the ceremony of Mass and communion Anglicans do or much time for Boshops with Apostolic succession as we Anglicans do

        Reply
        • My local Baptist church takes communion very seriously. They have a very moving liturgy, which is not written down in a Prayer Book (as far as I know) but is as profound as the RC Mass, BCP or CW Holy Communion or the Orthodox liturgy. No Bishops – perhaps I should add “thank God”?

          Reply
    • Just Evangelicals like you refuse to accept one of the key foundation stones of the Church of England, Apostolic succession

      If ‘apostolic succession’ is ‘one of the key foundation stones of the Church of England’ then why isn’t it mentioned in the thirty-nine articles or in the canons?

      I think somebody might have been having you on. Did you get your understanding of the Church if England from the same place as your misunderstanding of same-sex marriage law?

      Reply
  4. Peter,
    I confess that thus far I have only given your essay a brief perusal . Consequently, as yet I am not able to give the full attention it probably deserves. Nevertheless, straight away, two factors caught my attention:
    (1) “those who hold the traditional line claim clarity and truth from a few key verses from the Bible”.Now I for one do not fit that category and neither do many others,(I would humbly suggest) who frequent this blogsite. For example, Ian’s leading article (with particular reference to his conclusions) provides a coherent theological/Biblcal foundation to the whole issue.
    But conversely (2) I have to say that your approach itself , while raising many salient points, has a tendency to drift between Biblical topics but lacks the necessary coherence to give to Scripture what I and others believe to be the God given guidance and directives that it merits.

    Reply
    • Colin – as you rightly point out, Peter Reiss’s essay is confused and seriously misrepresents orthodox Christian teaching on sex and marriage, as well as going off on half a dozen tangents.
      The orthodox teaching on Christian Marriage in the New Creation in Christ is NOT based on “a few key verses from the Bible” and I am surprised to see Peter repeat this error. Peter surely knows that the orthodox teaching is based on the WHOLE consentient witness of Scripture about the meaning on marriage in the New Creation of Jesus Christ. From this it is very clear that Christian Marriage in the New Creation is:
      – a one-flesh union between one man and one woman
      – intended for life and not to be violated by desertion, unfaithfulness or other sins against love
      – for the raising of children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and for mutual comfort and support
      – not for everyone: no one is less a child of God because he or she is not married.
      Peter really needs to go back and read Ian’s article again as he has missed too many salient points and created too many errors of logic.

      Reply
  5. I only skimmed your commeent Peter. Why? Because of you decontextialised and opening and what I see as a false point.
    Last week our midweek group looked at 1 Samuel chapter 16 and it’s context within salvation history and the book of Judges. The desire of the people for a King as they they didn’t want God as their king. God gave them their own choice, the impressive Saul.
    David was God’s choice,vthat is after God’s heart. He was to be their shepherd king, yet a man of valour, a comforter psalmist singer yet Saul’s armour bearer. David’s youthful heart was for the Lord, who was his defender. Valiantly he was Victor, in the name of the Lord his God.
    His appointment and annointing by Samuel, was made following sacrificial offering ( the text implies it was a peace offering).
    He was not yet recognised as King and did not usurp Saul. He had not ascended to the throne. (Any echoes here of Jesus baptism, He is then an unrecognised King, who did not usurp king Herod).
    More could be said about Saul and David’s relationship with God and each other.
    But for David he started well but didn’t finish well with disobedience and disfunctional national and family consequences. But all of this points forward the king David’s greater son, Shepherd King, Victor, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.
    All the flawed failing, Judges/ Deliverers, Kings point forward to Jesus the Flawless, spotless King. A true faithful obedient, servant King, a true shepherd ( not hireling) King a true victories king over all the enemies of God and his people, who are adopted into his family line.
    Of course, there is more, much more that could be said. BTW we didn’t get to 1 Samuel 17

    Reply
  6. A practical rather than theoretical (theological?) point: can a self-respecting ordained or lay Minister continue in good conscience to hold a licence from a Bishop who uses these blessings for SSM couples? I’m an LLM. If I were in Oxford or York, I fear I would be surrendering my licence quite soon.

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  7. There is an important logical point that ought to be made in all this. If evangelicals are willing to separate from liberals over this issue, it follows that they regard those liberals as non-Christians – in which case they should be saying so now, and seeking to eject those liberals in order to keep the church pure.

    Reply
    • If they try that then liberal Catholics will be forced to respond in kind and seek to eject evangelicals from the Church of England. Evangelicals have been offered an opt out, no evangelical priest or Parish will be forced to conduct homosexual marriages against their will just as no priest is required to remarry divorcees against their will or no Anglo Catholic parish is required to have women priests against their will.

      If they want civil war in the Church of England however then sadly that is what it will be. Yet as the established Church ultimately homosexual marriage will win out in line with the law of the land now in England and with the support of the King, affirmed by the BCP as the Supreme governor of the Church of England and under Art 37 of the 39 articles as having the chief power within England and with the support of Parliament too

      Reply
      • ultimately homosexual marriage will win out in line with the law of the land now in England and with the support of the King

        ‘The King is inseparable from the Church of England!’

        ‘And what about God?’

        ‘I think he is what’s called an optional extra.’

        Seems like what we are probably looking at is the disestablishment of the Church of England and its replacement by a secular National Ceremonial And Historic Buildings Service. Of course they’ll probably still call the managers of the NCAHBS ‘bishops’, and they might even keep the name ‘Church of England’, but God and the Bible will be firmly shown the door.

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      • I am merely making a point of logic. I’d add to it that the pushing by the loiberals for church gay weddings will stop only when they have been expelled or have expelled the evangelicals. Unity is doomed.

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        • I’m guessing it will simply be as it was in the past, when e.g. the more evangelical Dissenters and Methodists left, leaving the CofE with the buildings and decreasing relevance.

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          • The Church of England was hollowed out of parish priests of principle in 1688 when nonconformism became legal and many evangelicals quit to lead free congregations, while many of the nonjurors who felt unable to acknowledge William III as rightful king were from the high end of the spectrum. The rump that was left in the middle dulled the 18th century Church of England into a torpor aptly described by Lytton Strachey (in his portrait of Cardinal Manning):

            For many generations the Church of England had slept the sleep of the …comfortable. The sullen murmurings of dissent, the loud battle-cry of Revolution, had hardly disturbed her slumbers. Portly divines subscribed with a sigh or a smile to the Thirty-nine Articles, sank quietly into easy living, rode gaily to hounds of a morning as gentlemen should, and, as gentlemen should, carried their two bottles of an evening. To be in the Church was in fact simply to pursue one of those professions which Nature and Society had decided were proper to gentlemen and gentlemen alone. The fervours of piety, the zeal of Apostolic charity, the enthusiasm of self-renunciation—these things were all very well in their way and in their place; but their place was certainly not the Church of England. Gentlemen were neither fervid nor zealous, and above all they were not enthusiastic. There were, it was true, occasionally to be found within the Church some strait-laced parsons of the high Tory school who looked back with regret to the days of Laud or talked of the Apostolical Succession; and there were groups of square-toed Evangelicals who were earnest over the Atonement, confessed to a personal love of Jesus Christ, and seemed to have arranged the whole of their lives, down to the minutest details of act and speech, with reference to Eternity. But such extremes were the rare exceptions. The great bulk of the clergy walked calmly along the smooth road of ordinary duty. They kept an eye on the poor of the parish, and they conducted the Sunday Services in a becoming manner; for the rest, they differed neither outwardly nor inwardly from the great bulk of the laity, to whom the Church was a useful organisation for the maintenance of Religion, as by law established.

            On that occasion God sent John Wesley. What will happen this time?

          • Much less dramatic, I suspect. The godly party will lose the battle for the buildings and the financial and landed assets and the right to call themselves Established, largely because none of those things are anything to do with the church described in the New Testament (“Silver and gold have I none…”; believers are “living stones”; Establishment is adultery of Christ’s bride with this world). They will become their own denominatoin or join the nonconformists whom they have often derided, who I trust will greet them without triumphalism. The Established church wil become unrecognisable as a Christian church.

    • I dont think that is logical. Just because one Christian strongly disagrees on a particular issue with another, does not mean that that other is an unbeliever. One should be very careful in pronouncing such judgment on others.

      Reply
  8. There once was a Bishop of many,
    whose theology catered for any,
    such ‘heretic dregs’,
    now his diocese begs,
    and so barely brings in a penny.

    Reply
    • The evidence from the US is the average Episcopalian congregation has higher earners per head than the average evangelical congregation

      Reply
      • The evidence from the US is the average Episcopalian congregation has higher earners per head than the average evangelical congregation

        But also that (a) there aren’t as many of them and (b) they aren’t as generous with their higher income, so the churches end up getting less in absolute terms.

        Reply
        • In real terms though they give more per head. Plus the Church of England also has billions in investments.

          The Church will also be able to claim state funds for maintenance of its historic churches too, as the French state supports its most historic churches and cathedrals too

          Reply
      • They could have a congregation of millionaires, and it wouldn’t resolve the problem that they’re losing members and declining at an astonishing rate. Or do you think a church of millionaires where the clergy outnumber the members is a healthy model; this is the logical endpoint of thinking that self-sufficiency is the end game?

        Reply
  9. George Neumayr, journalist who was investigating corruption in the Catholic Church, and who said recently that he was fearing for his life, found dead in Africa.

    Reply
    • A reminder that corruption permeates every major institutional church.
      https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/george-neumayr-rip

      “Neumayr was one of only a handful of Catholic journalists who took seriously the evil being perpetrated by the LGBTQ mob against the Church, its priests and society at large.”

      He wrote: “I will not sit on my hands as these wicked charlatans defile Jesus Christ’s Church. It belongs to Him, not them.”

      It is almost certain he did not die of malaria.

      Reply
      • Right, the odds seem stacked against it being malaria: The Ivory Coast may be rife with it, but this is the off-season and Neumayr would presumably have taken all the medical precautions.

        Reply
  10. The Church of England has billions in investments and can claim support from the state. It doesn’t need big congregations.

    Only evangelicals need big congregations as they have to buy or build new buildings for their Churches, don’t have billions in assets built up over centuries like the Church of England and can’t claim state support if they leave the Church of England and are not part of the established Church and their buildings are not historic enough to claim it

    Reply
    • T1 – all this is completely irrelevant. The relevant point is that you have to accept that you are a sinner – and that this is what the crucifixion and resurrection was all about.

      Reply
      • Everybody is a sinner, so what (for the record I am a married heterosexual who did not have sex before marriage and has not been married before).

        However given the Church of England already allows divorced couples to marry, even if no fault divorce, despite clear words of Christ against that if the Vicar is willing, it is not as if homosexual marriage if the Vicar is willing is breaking new ground in not being completely in accordance with Biblical marriage.
        Indeed Christ clearly opposed divorce except for adultery, he never expressly forbade homosexual marriage of committed partners

        Reply
        • However given the Church of England already allows divorced couples to marry, even if no fault divorce, despite clear words of Christ against that if the Vicar is willing

          As I understand it, any vicar who does that is breaking the Church of England’s rules.

          The fact that the Church of England effectively has no discipline for vicars who break its rules (in this and more serious ways, like denying the virgin birth or preaching universalism) is a serious problem, but it doesn’t mean the rules don’t exist and the solution is certainly not to just abandon the rules: it’s to enforce the rules properly.

          Reply
          • Since 2002 the decision whether or not to marry a couple where one party is divorced is entirely down to individual Vicars.

            The decision is down to individual vicars, but as I understand it they are supposed to make the decision in accordance with the Church of England’s doctrine (which is that remarriage after divorce is only for exceptional cases) and that any vicar who abuses their discretion by remarrying anyone who asks is breaking the roles.

          • See the resolution passed by General Synod at: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/marriage%20in%20church%20after%20divorce.pdf

            Specifically point (b) ii): ‘That there are exceptional circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former spouse;’

            Reading that, and the rest of the document, it’s quite clear that the idea was not that remarriage after divorce should be generally allowed but with an opt-out for clergy who disagreed; but that remarriage after divorce should be rare and only available in exceptional circumstances, with the decision devolved to the relevant vicar as the person best place to decide whether the circumstances are in fact exceptional.

            Any vicar who abuses their discretion to remarry any divorcé(e) who asks is going well beyond the resolution and ought to be disciplined, and would be if the Church of England has any sort of functional method for disciplining apostate clergy.

          • The problem is ‘exceptional’ is not defined, so a Vicar could even say remarriage of someone who divorced their spouse over irreconcilable differences not adultery was an ‘exceptional’ circumstance. As the decision on remarriage of divorcees was left to Vicars themselves the C of E could not therefore discipline then

          • How could it be when ‘irreconcilable differences’ is
            (a) so vague
            (b) so deliberately vague, a weasel word/phrase?

          • S, a vicar who abuses their discretion by remarrying anyone who asks, just like a doctor abuses their discretion by authorising the killing of any child for whom that is vicariously requested.

          • The problem is ‘exceptional’ is not defined, so a Vicar could even say remarriage of someone who divorced their spouse over irreconcilable differences not adultery was an ‘exceptional’ circumstance.

            There are guidelines, but clearly if a vicar is allowing every remarriage that comes their way then they are not treating it as ‘exceptional’, are they?

            As the decision on remarriage of divorcees was left to Vicars themselves the C of E could not therefore discipline then

            Not at all true. The decision on how to run their companies is left up to directors, but if they break the law they are prosecuted.

            It would be perfectly possible for the Church of England to investigate vicars who do abnormally large numbers of remarriages, ask them to keep records of their reasoning for allowing them in each case, and come down like a tonne of bricks on those found to be abusing the system.

        • T1 – yes – agreed that the C. of E. position on marriage is a total mess. The fornicating prince married the divorcee in the C. of E.. The divorcee never once tried suggesting that her previous husband had done something reprehensible – such as committing adultery or squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube or anything like that.

          We’re all sinners – so everything. That is the only important thing – that’s what separates us from God, that is what the crucifixion and resurrection are all about – and therefore that is basically what church is (or at least should be) all about.

          Reply
          • Yes but even the Head of the Church of England has been allowed to remarry with a Church blessing ceremony in 2005 despite committing adultery with Camilla as you say whose divorce was no fault of her previous husband. It is therefore ludicrous hypocrisy to deny a homosexual couple who have been devoted to each other for life and never slept with another person the same right of blessing divorced heterosexuals now have in the Church of England

          • It is therefore ludicrous hypocrisy to deny a homosexual couple who have been devoted to each other for life and never slept with another person the same right of blessing divorced heterosexuals now have in the Church of England

            Did you seriously just use ‘two wrongs make a right’ as an argument?

          • S – T1 is simply pointing out that the C. of E. operates absolutely joke standards when it comes to marrying. He is pointing out that they are respecters of persons (James 2:9 tells us that Christians don’t do this), because they are prepared to bend the rules. By any reasonable set of rules, the fornicating prince and divorcee should not have been entitled to a church wedding; also, it’s difficult to see how the wedding back in 2005 of the current king to the current queen (a divorcee) was justified.

            If Caligula had been emperor of England, were pretending to be a Christian and wanted to marry his horse, then no doubt the C. of E. would have found a way to allow this. No doubt, if Henry VIII had been gay, the C. of E. would have been endorsing SSM from the 16th century onwards.

          • T1 is simply pointing out that the C. of E. operates absolutely joke standards when it comes to marrying.

            And no one could disagree. However the church response to ‘the standards are a joke’ is not ‘so therefore anything goes’. The correct response to ‘we’ve got this wrong’ is not ‘so it doesn’t matter if we get that wrong as well’.

          • T1, are you for real? Your argument runs:
            (1) An adulterous couple were allowed to remarry
            (2) Therefore how can a faithful same sex couple not be allowed?

            This assumes without any argument that (1) was a good thing and not a mistake nor an exception based on the status of the individuals and the scandal that would result from any other outcome.

            I have seen this kind of fallacious argument (2 wrongs make a right) so many times. Other arguments of the same nature:
            Abortion is now in 3 of the 4 British nations and therefore it should be in the fourth. (Er – right – if it is a good thing. But if it isn’t….)
            My pay should always be at the highest level it has ever been otherwise I will strike. (Just apply this to all kinds of workers simultaneously and see where you end up. Also you are simply assuming that the highest ever level was the same as the most appropriate level. Why would it have been?)

          • Divorcees are able to marry across the Church of England now even if their former spouse did not commit adultery if a Vicar agrees to marry them, it is not just the King. The C of E cannot continue with these double standards and still deny blessings to committed homosexual couples who are Christians. As Jock says it is joke double standards

  11. In a situation where Church Weddings in the Church of England may be an all -time low – owing to many reasons, one of which might be the refusal of the Church to marry Same-Sex couples, even though the State will marry them – it is surely a good move for the State Church to at least offer its Blessing on a couple already legally married by the State. After all, this is little different from some European countries whose law demands that weddings can only be solemnised by the State, with, if required by the couple, some sort of acknowledgement of the couple’s married status in the Church. If the Church of England were not an agency of the State, then this would be the procedure for all marriages, which can only be legalised by the state

    Reply
  12. How about this for the spread of Anglicanism, through the musical offices of Rev’d Tim Hughes.?
    Multiculture worship, from Jerusalem.
    It came to us through a friend, a leader in the Christian Motorcyclist Assn. His “robes of office” are leathers, covered by a leather waistcoat, with a huge white cross on the back.
    Here it is: something to rejoice and harp- on about.
    https://youtu.be/DHhStlSvWe8

    Reply
    • And for Peter Reiss isn’t there something Davidic here? A sung Aaronic blessing to his, God’s, covenant people.
      And we, his New Covenant people only get the cup of blessing through Jesus drinking the cup of God’s curse of death and wrath on sin. Only through the redemptive blood of Jesus, our Passover Lamb and our High Priest. His death ours, his resurrected life ours, all in our union with him.

      Reply
  13. It’s 3 days since the House of Bishops published their intentions. Since then we have had numerous statements of support from revisionist bishops; they have been speedy, honest and open in letting us know where they stand. In contrast I’m not aware of any opposing bishop (are there any?) or influential evangelical clergy informing us of their positions.

    This reluctance to break silence (or slowness to do so) is depressingly true to what we have come to expect. Presumably it tells us all we need to know about any serious resolve to confront the blatant lurch to apostasy which the document represents. Please let us not discover that ‘secret talks’ are already in progress about some kind of capitulation which would be spun as a workable compromise. Quite apart from such a thing being dishonourable in the extreme, it would be to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

    The truth is that, because it is hopelessly incoherent, evangelicals and other like-minded people are surprisingly well placed to see off this wretched document. And the idea that the bishops can just bypass General Synod and avoid a vote on it is absurd (it would pile disgrace upon dishonour). Those who wanted the full package of same sex “marriage” will see the document as wholly unsatisfactory in its timidity: they will surely demand a vote – and then vote it down. There could and should be mayhem if the bishops try to stand firm against a vote on what is a radical change in doctrine; I don’t believe they could or would hold out on it if they were faced with the full righteous anger of determined people from both sides of this argument.

    There’s a time to be angry. Now is that time.

    Reply
    • It is indeed interesting that not one bishop has, as yet, issued a voice of dissent. On the other hand I’ve so far counted 20 diocesans indicating support for the proposals.

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      • It’s a bit like
        (1) Labour vote always being overestimated by pollsters because people are cagey about saying they will vote Conservative;
        (2) Newspaper columnists speaking out if they are Labour voters but not if they are Conservative voters.
        Maybe one group is more continent and has more restraint.
        Basically, it is utterly lamented that no-one apart from Ian Paul and Andrea Williams etc is speaking out the good and life giving message. Are they afraid of their fellow humans? They obviously do not care for them if they are withholding something that can help them. It is Prov 29.25, Matt 10.28 all over again.

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        • Though even the Conservative Party now supports homosexual marriage of course, with a few exceptions like Jacob Rees Mogg and Danny Kruger

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          • Because really Christopher if you are hitched to that particular wagon that claims the earth really is only 4000 years old and you claim to believe that evidence based arguments are the only ones that count……..I’d love to see your evidence for a 4000 year old earth.

          • She doesn’t think that the earth is only 4000 years old. The true picture is as follows:
            (1) David Modell was (is?) a journalist who used to approach people (those whom he termed fundamentalists) unawares with his camera already rolling. He did just that to me once, but did not use the resulting material because the reasonableness of my answers was not what he was looking for to fulfil his stereotype. I have never met anyone of that particular rudeness before or since.
            (2) An example: The documentary that included the 4000 thing also included (ended with) a group of about 5 Christians led by Stephen Green apparently with a black flag. Goodness knows the story behind that, but it was clearly not the one he wanted it to be. And if he is that scared of (or else struck by – as though they were a key social movement) a small handful of individuals despised by the world, hymn lovers, who have no social cachet at all, then….
            (3) One time he left the camera running in his accustomed manner and the first thing that came into his interlocutor’s head was 4000, presumably on the basis of Abp Ussher 4004 BC. So, an unprepared response in an informal setting with no thought behind it, because being with him was not like being on air. And he made sure that was the case, because that was how he got his ‘best’ (i.e. most thoughtless, and most useful to his stereotype) material. What a biased approach. I suppose Louis Theroux is not a million miles away; the idea is to catch people off guard by the sheer informality.
            (4) It is highly unlikely that this was the interlocutor’s actual belief; if so, it would be shared with no-one.
            (5) The response was not a belief at all, but a question based on dim memory of figures = ‘4000 isn’t it?’.
            (6) The tabloidism of what you say beggars belief. People who have lived many decades and done a large amount are to be summed up only by their most inglorious (and actually atypical) moment with everything else forgotten. That is the approach of someone who has no interest in reality or comprehensiveness or accuracy; someone who is concerned only to ridicule.

          • Christopher I agree that the tactics of some journalists are questionable at best. But it does concern me when you say things like this:

            “(4) It is highly unlikely that this was the interlocutor’s actual belief; if so, it would be shared with no-one.”

            You use the word interlocutor so many times. Why not use the name? You claim that she doesn’t actually believe it but then you say what I have quoted above! Have you not actually asked her? Why has she not clarified what she so clearly said? And why do you say that if she actually did believe it, she wouldn’t share that belief with anyone?

          • She never (to repeat) even said she believed it. She asked a question as though to jog D Modell’s memory in confirming, presumably, the actual figure of the biblical figure of 6000.

            Secondly, this was off the cuff and people say thoughtless things off the cuff (to repeat again).

            Third, she did not claim any knowledge on this, hence her giving a question not a statement (to repeat again).

            When I say ‘share’, I do not mean ‘confide’, I mean ‘have in common’.

          • And why do you say that if she actually did believe it, she wouldn’t share that belief with anyone?

            Because fairly obviously the belief that the Earth is 4,000 years old isn’t shared by anyone else. Young-Earth creationists believe that the Earth is about 6,000 years old. So if the person in question really did believe the Earth is 4,000 years old (rather than just giving a half-remembered answer to an unexpected question) then they would be the only person in the world to believe that; ie, that belief would not be shared with anyone else. It would be a unique belief.

            (Which tends to bolster the case that that is not the person’s actual belief; if they really were a young-Earth creationist they would surely get the number right!)

          • “if they really were a young-Earth creationist”

            which is, I suspect, what we are dealing with here. Others commenting here espouse that view.

          • Fortunately, Andrew, our salvation doesn’t require any particular account of how we square the Genesis narrative (God’s own testimony that he is the creator) with the science narrative (the mechanism of God’s design). We obviously can’t square it if we believe that God created our human measurement of time and then confined himself to the first 7 days of it in which to create everything!

            But for obvious reasons the Genesis narrative is not specific on how creation was achieved; the choice to present it as a simple truth in basic human terms suggests the scientific details were never the point of the story beyond the fact that it was intentional and not random chance. Those who are interested in the science have since gained a fuller picture but it still doesn’t answer the big question of how our created world relates to the unknowable realm of God’s existence.

            We can dispute with and mock those who are content with the Genesis revelation exactly as it is presented but the truth is that, even with our scientific knowledge, we may have only scratched the surface of the full picture.

            And I think that’s where we Christians need to focus: the immensity of God, the smallness of ourselves in comparison, and the love and grace that offers us an eternity with him. One day we may know the full story. So it’s a case of discussion to be resumed, and much more to be understood, at a (post death) later date. Let’s make sure we’re both there to have a fully informed chat about it!

          • I must admit I have not heard that view here, but it could be I did not see it, or else have an incomplete memory.

          • “We can dispute with and mock those who are content with the Genesis revelation exactly as it is presented but the truth is that, even with our scientific knowledge, we may have only scratched the surface of the full picture.”

            Don, thank you. Absolutely not mocking. People are free to believe whatever they wish. Just expressing concern as to how even a belief that the earth is just 6000 years old (which is presumably what she intended to say) can sit with an ‘evidence based’ approach to other matters. It can’t.

          • “And I think that’s where we Christians need to focus: the immensity of God, the smallness of ourselves in comparison, and the love and grace that offers us an eternity with him. One day we may know the full story. So it’s a case of discussion to be resumed, and much more to be understood, at a (post death) later date. Let’s make sure we’re both there to have a fully informed chat about it!”

            Thank you so much for this as well Don. This, I think, is one of the most important things that has ever been said here. I look forward to our chat and laughing about the ridiculous things we have all said in the course of these discussions!

          • Just expressing concern as to how even a belief that the earth is just 6000 years old (which is presumably what she intended to say)

            Surely if that’s what she intended to say, she would have got the number right?

            can sit with an ‘evidence based’ approach to other matters. It can’t.

            Technically there’s no evidence that the Earth wasn’t created 6,000-odd years ago, as God is certainly capable of creating a universe in media res. Indeed there’s no evidence that the universe wasn’t created last Tuesday. There are arguments against that (eg would it mean that God was a deceiver, creating a universe that appeared to be older than it really was?) but there’s no way to use evidence to prove one way or the other, because a universe created in media res 6,000 years ago and a universe created in a singularity-point explosion nearly 14 billion years ago would look , from inside, exactly the same. The evidence would fit either explanation equally well.

          • AG says ‘People are free to believe whatever they wish’. What absolute nonsense.
            (1) Belief is a matter of evidence not a matter of wish. People are free to want what they want and also to believe what they think is true. They are also ‘free’ to lie that their wish is actually a belief, but much good may such ‘freedom’ do them.
            (2) How can anyone help what they believe anyway? To believe is to think something is true.
            (3) We certainly don’t need the blessing of AG or of anyone else to believe things. We will believe them anyway.

          • Christopher – surely you can see the slight sarcasm in what I said? Are you really that literal in your reading of everything? Do get a grip!

        • Plenty of evangelical clergy have already spoken or written to their congregations about these proposals and these bishops who are false teachers. The real issue is whether any bishops of a conservative persuasion will distance themselves from these proposals. Don’t hold your breath on that one!

          Reply
          • The real issue is whether any bishops of a conservative persuasion will distance themselves from these proposals.

            Surely if there was any chance of that, they wouldn’t have been appointed as a bishop.

  14. The comments above are (for the most part) so detached from the actual development being chronicled, it is hard to know what to make of them. T1 has simply changed the subject.

    It seems obvious that the Bishops are trying to square a circle and in so doing are producing an incoherent and inherently unstable ‘compromise.’ Mr. Paul has done an excellent job describing this.

    My question is the degree to which they know what the consequence of this will be, in fact? It’s one thing to confect something meant, they hope, to move things along in some direction. It’s quite another thing to be fully aware that it will, at a minimum, destroy whatever role the ABC has had vis-a-vis the Anglican Communion. The idea that he will personally not do this or that, and that will keep him fit for service, is risible. Does he really believe that this will be acceptable to the vast preponderance of Primates and Bishops worldwide? This is what is hard to understand. Surely he must know that he has signed his own dismissal papers. If he doesn’t, that itself points to some kind of blinkered reality in which the Bishops of the CofE are functioning. They apparently believe they are creating a solution for a local problem (which will not fly locally). If they do not know this will never fly globally, they will soon find that out.

    We are witnessing a truly ‘no going back’ moment in the CofE and Anglican Communion.

    Reply
    • ‘It seems obvious that the Bishops are trying to square a circle and in so doing are producing an incoherent and inherently unstable ‘compromise.’’

      Yes, quite so. Even if it is a point of equilibrium, it is unstable, not stable, equilibrium. There appears to be complete denial that this is the case.

      Reply
      • Is there any awareness on their part, and on the part of the ABC, that a local ‘compromise’ (that won’t function locally) is the end of whatever place the CofE has had in the global Anglican reality (historical see; sending forth of missionaries; the ABC in this or that presumed role). I can’t tell if they are aware of this or have simply got caught up in the ‘circle squaring’ enterprise, and forgetting these larger implications. The danger is they will simply demonstrate to the Provinces the “parochialisation” of the CofE.

        Reply
          • Ian that’s been said almost every year since Jeffrey John was nominated as bishop of Reading 20 years ago. Foley Beach might say things like that but he’s not even a member of the Communion.

          • Ian that’s been said almost every year since Jeffrey John was nominated as bishop of Reading 20 years ago.

            And like the economists who predicted nine of the last five recessions, eventually it’ll be right…

          • Of course it’s not the end of the communion. The Anglican communion is whoever is in communion with the AoC.

            Some would have liked to have been in the communion in the past and were not allowed. That was the AoCs (unwise imo) choice.

            Many will choose to break communion officially (unlike Rev Marcus Green who announced on Twitter that he is, presumably unofficially, no longer in communion with the AoC).

            Numerically I’d assume most Anglicans will be outside of the Anglican Communion. There will be talk of sadness, regret, maybe of the lack of theological understanding of the importance of unity and tolerance by the AoC & AoY.

            And then they’ll pretend it never happened. The Anglican Communion will carry on in much smaller numbers and most people will be non the wiser.

            The occasional photos from lambeth conference etc will continue to show a few African and Asian bishops. I doubt if it’ll even bementioned that most Anglicans are outside the communion. The press will, if it comes up at all, focus on the number of nations (rather than the millions who thwy represent) who “broke away” or “turned their backs on” AoC because of “homophobic views” and say that the “vast majority of Anglicans (aka national churches) have stayed within the Anglican communion.

        • RD: inter alia, you write “The Anglican Communion will carry on in much smaller numbers…”.

          Just to clarify. Is it your idea that the smaller Anglican Communion will consist of those churches which endorse a new same-sex marriage option? So, the roster typically given: TEC, ACoC, SEC, and other co-religionists?

          This would also, one supposes, be a Communion the ABC is the ‘head’ of, in the same manner as presently?

          If this is what you have in view, I wonder if the See of Canterbury would want this or find it acceptable as a new form of the Anglican Communion? The incumbent doesn’t.

          For what it is worth, I appreciate your admission that things are not going to be the same. Surely that it right.

          Reply
    • Much of the Anglican communion ie the Anglican churches in the USA, Wales and Scotland already allow homosexual marriage anyway in their churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury is only primus inter pares and first amongst equals of the Anglican communion anyway, he is not supreme leader of it as the Pope is
      of the global Roman Catholic Church.

      So let each Province take its own position on homosexual marriage

      Reply
      • The churches you mention constitute around 5% of the Communion.

        The idea that ‘each province take its own position’ is to propose that the Communion break up, since it rejects all the careful statements about what fellowship in Communion actually means in terms of mutual accountability.

        Besides, it denies the idea that we are part of ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.’ Sexual ethics is intimately connected with our understanding of what it means to be human, which is why it is not a ‘thing indifferent.’

        Reply
  15. (I hope to read the whole of the post when I get a chance but since I did watch and felt inspired to reflect on the video, that’s what I’ve done instead. As Ian sort of implies (to my mind) that it’s a bit of a TL;DR I feel like that’s fine. ;-D )

    I commiserate – a bit – with Franklin. Such a sadly superficial discussion. Although I don’t agree with Franklin, I think his visible frustration was justified. He rightly picked them up on their conflating of welcoming vs marrying. I’m afraid that’s where my sympathy ends since he then happily waded into their conflation of the theological ethics of love and sexuality with church attendance figures. That’s clearly irrelevant.

    Also, unfortunately many of his arguments were so vague that they could easily be turned around on him. He argued that the early church was right to offer a theologically considered restriction to sexual relationships (ceremonially recognised male/female lifelong marriage) that some already agreed with (ceremonially recognised male/female relationships occur throughout history and culture regardless of Judeo-Christian influence) and was at odds with many who wanted something approaching sexual lawlessness. But this would be the exact same situation for the church if it began conducting same-sex marriages (with the only change being the realisation that God’s marriage should always have included same-sex couples): the present day church would be offering a theologically considered restriction to sexual relationships (non gender specific lifelong marriage) that some already agreed with and is at odds with many who want something approaching sexual lawlessness.

    And if he really wants to go down the irrelevant tangent of how church growth might be connected to sexual ethical teaching, I suggest he might be doing at least 3 growth related things that many other churches aren’t: (1) engaging meaningfully with his parish, especially with families; (2) has a definite viewpoint that he confidently proclaims; (3) there’s enough people in society who either agree with him or care only about the first point that they’ll ignore the second. Most churches sadly fail the very low bar of providing meaningful worship and engagement for families and are vague in their position and purpose (regardless of what it might be) and (Jamie’s probably right) valuing same-sex marriage is unlikely to catalyse people to becoming active Christians.

    One final thought about church attendance and sexuality: if a voluntary membership group spends the best part of a century or more showing varying degrees of hostility to one demographic, then start to consider whether total and complete welcome of that demographic might have been right all along, is it any wonder that the people still present in that voluntary membership group might be significantly opposed to the demographic that they felt comfortable being hostile towards? The percentage of Christians who don’t accept same-sex marriage is almost certainly higher for merely statistical reasons.

    Reply
    • I think you have misunderstood Jamie.

      He is not saying ‘getting your sexual ethics right and your church will grow’. He is saying ‘all the evidence is that get your sexual ethics wrong and it will be hard for your church to grow.’

      This claim is very well substantiated. All the Western churches that have changed their doctrine of marriage have experienced accelerating decline in attendance.

      Reply
      • But lots of denominations that oppose marriage equality are also in decline – RCC, British Baptists, Southern Baptists and the Methodists in the US to name a few!

        Reply
        • But lots of denominations that oppose marriage equality are also in decline

          So look at it the other way around: Of the denominations which are growing, what proportion support/oppose same sex marriage?

          Reply
          • Globally the biggest growth in Christianity is in sub Saharan Africa and Asia outside the Middle East. The biggest decline is in Europe followed by North America, Australia and New Zealand. That is true regardless of denomination

          • T1, for once you are right! However, note that it is the (rapidly growing) Anglican provinces in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia which are strongly opposed to SSM, against your previous assertion that ‘much’ of the AC is now in favour.

          • Exactly, T1. The growth is among healthier mindsets that have not degenerated to the depressed point where family life is on average so incredibly weak that things like SSM seem a half good idea.

          • It is a different culture there however. The only African nation where same sex marriage is legal is South Africa and homosexuality is still illegal in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

            By contrast in the traditional Western Anglican Communion nations of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, same sex marriage is now legal in
            all of them. Indeed in every Western European nation same sex marriage is also legal now, the only exceptions Roman Catholic Italy and Orthodox Greece

          • T1, it’s incorrect to speak of where SSM is ‘legal’; nothing prevents two men from publicly declaring themselves married. It’s about State *recognition.* Yet who gives a hoot what the State thinks compared to what God thinks? And how do we find that out?

          • Not entirely true, the UK has a higher birthrate than Poland, Italy and Japan for instance where same sex marriage is still not legal

      • lol
        The classic bad faith Ian Paul put down: “I think you have misunderstood…”
        [proceeds to make no attempt to acknowledge anything positive or interesting in what he’s responding to, uses the Strawman Fallacy to make it seem like his weighty intellect is no match for us mere mortals and then copy/pastes his favourite Causal Fallacy].

        I never said Jaime said “getting your sexual ethics right and your church will grow”. From memory he referred to their raising of church attendance figures as “mocking” and this contributed to his frustration with the ignorant line of questioning. I merely thought it was unfortunate that he allowed himself to be drawn into such an illogical comparison (the presenter’s causal fallacy). I will look up what said, in fact, here’s his exact words, “if you look at the largest churches in this country they’re all people who have conservative views on the question of sexual ethics it’s just a fact”. Sure, that’s not technically the same thing as saying “getting your sexual ethics right and your church will grow” but it’s at least quite a close inference.

        Anyway, if you wanted to actually quote me you might have discovered how difficult it is to make “(Jamie’s probably right) valuing same-sex marriage is unlikely to catalyse people to becoming active Christians” and “the percentage of Christians who don’t accept same-sex marriage is almost certainly higher for merely statistical reasons” into “‘getting your sexual ethics right and your church will grow’”.

        Reply
        • Jon, it looks fairly straightforward to me. There is a correlation between how far a church is teaching the normal Christian thing in this area or not and whether it is growing or not; but in countries where the culture is going through a depression and revival seems far away, then it is very possible that the former will range from (say) 30% growth to minus 2% growth and the latter from minus 2% to anything less than that.

          Reply
          • Cool man, I guess we just disagree in our parameters of acceptable straightforwardness. You’ve used the word correlation, which I commend. Because that’s all it is. And since correlation doesn’t imply causation, I personally assess the situation to not be straightforward. I’m not aware of any studies that back up this claim: if there isn’t any then we have to assume the Cherry-picking Fallacy and Confirmation Bias is at least a risk factor. But assuming they can be controlled for somehow, we’ve still got the problem of answering WHY this correlation. Is it intrinsic to the gospel and so attracts people with its authenticity? Are people attracted directly by the teaching in favour of exclusive heterosexual marriage? Is it that it’s part of the perceived legacy Christianity and so people returning to active Christian faith are drawn to its familiarity? Is it true, making it easier for the Holy Spirit to work effectively in those spaces to make disciples? Is it false, making it easier for the corrupt aspects of the world to work more effectively in those spaces to make discipleship more palatable (e.g. for those who don’t want their worldly family values challenged, etc.)? My assessment is that these questions would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to answer. Basically, is the correlation for good reasons or bad? I don’t think answering that question is straightforward and therefore I don’t think understanding this correlation is straightforward either.

        • It wasn’t intended to be a put down. It was an observation. There is no need to be paranoid when commenting here!

          Yes, it is quite a close inference—close enough to make a blog comment on.

          The interviewers were being mocking and provocative. Their assumption was that churches which didn’t ‘move with the times’ must be declining, and they suggested that that must be true of his church.

          He pointed out that the opposite is the case for his context—and highlighted that that is in line with *all* the evidence of church growth.

          Your final claim ‘the percentage of Christians who don’t accept same-sex marriage is almost certainly higher for merely statistical reasons’ is a misleading assertion. Research shows that increasing church attendance, and increasing involvement in a church which takes catechesis in the faith seriously correlates with increasing belief in the historic understanding of marriage.

          Reply
          • OK, I’ll give this one more run-up then I’m calling it a day.

            First, your initial point, which I believe can be summarised as follows: right sexual ethics has no correlation with growth or shrinking but wrong sexual ethics and you’ll almost certainly shrink.

            As I’ve pointed out above, since this is a correlation and correlation doesn’t imply causation there’s any number of factors that may be relevant. Could it be that it’s harder to do something new? Could it be that it’s harder to do something that more authentically follows Christ because “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18)? I’m only asking rhetorically to reinforce my original point: church attendance is irrelevant because causation isn’t established. This is why I agreed with Franklin that they were being “mocking” and I went further to call their questioning “superficial” and “conflating” (I guess we agree on that since you also saw fit to explain to me that the interviewers were being “mocking and provocative” which felt to me like a bit of a mansplain and a missed opportunity for you to extend the olive branch through identifying a point of agreement between us, but whatever).

            Now to your final point here: that “increasing church attendance […] correlates with increasing belief in the historic understanding of marriage”. This sounds an awful lot like “getting your sexual ethics right and your church will grow”. Ok, you only made the softer claim of correlation but I thought we were saying it’s not correlated? Or were you just saying that Franklin didn’t say that they were correlated, something you saw fit to try to correct me on, something that you’re now espousing? I’m really losing track of what you are or aren’t claiming and honestly feel a bit like what’s the point…

            A final housekeeping point, since you bring it up: I think there is a need to be “paranoid”. Or I would use the word, guarded. This is a text based forum (a famously tricky debating medium), the topics are admirably unflinching but this necessarily attracts polarised interlocutors and you have no moderator and no rules for engagement (even most subs on Reddit have rules for civility). To use a phrase I was taught for giving sincere open-handed feedback, I wonder if maybe you think no rules, no mods allows maximum free expression, people moderate themselves, etc. But I wonder if maybe freedom unbounded is freedom to cow and be cowed. Maybe you see yourself as the moderator. I wonder if you might not be the best mod since you like to engage and (imho) can come across as quite snarky and I wonder if maybe that sets the tone a bit. Personally, I don’t read or comment on your blog as often as I might because I know I have a different view and testing my view in this space usually feels like going round in circles at best and being dismissed or shouted down at worst. It just doesn’t feel like a very welcoming environment. Maybe I’m in the minority. For what it’s worth I’ve seen comments once or twice on an explicitly LGBTQ+ friendly forum warning others to be careful of your comments section. Just something to be aware of and maybe something to think about in how you choose to curate your space.

          • As I’ve pointed out above, since this is a correlation and correlation doesn’t imply causation there’s any number of factors that may be relevant. Could it be that it’s harder to do something new?

            My personal suspicion is that the more a denomination conforms itself to the world, the less people in the world see any point to it. At the limit, if a church is indistinguishable form the surrounding culture, why would anybody bother joining it?

            Personally, I don’t read or comment on your blog as often as I might because I know I have a different view and testing my view in this space usually feels like going round in circles at best and being dismissed or shouted down at worst. It just doesn’t feel like a very welcoming environment

            Nobody — on any side — gets an easy ride. Everyone is robustly challenged on everything they say. This is a good thing. It means lazy thinking and logical inconsistency is exposed. You would maybe prefer people were able to get away with sloppy arguments?

          • C0rrelati0n is by far the best clue 2 causati0n, and if u think we are living in an A-causes-B universe, that’s generally 2 simplistic.

  16. So what, they are the closest to the Church of England which is the only Anglican Church the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually leader of.

    If the Anglican Communion breaks up so be it, it is only a very loose alliance anyway, even looser than the Commonwealth. Already there are completely different positions taken in the US and Ugandan Anglican churches on homosexual marriage whatever the Church of England does. The Anglican Communion is nothing like the Roman Catholic Church which is solely headed and led by the Pope and where every Roman Catholic province has to follow the strict Vatican line.

    I would prefer the Anglican Communion to stay together linking Catholic and Apostolic churches which are not headed by the Pope. However on a forced choice of keeping the Church of England the established English church with homosexual marriage allowed or disestablishmemt of the Church of England by Parliament as homosexual marriage was not allowed by it but keeping the Anglican Communion together I would take the former every time (though of course Parliament could impose homosexual marriage on the Church of England and keep it the established church anyway if Labour win the next election)

    Reply
    • However on a forced choice of keeping the Church of England the established English church with homosexual marriage allowed or disestablishmemt of the Church of England by Parliament as homosexual marriage was not allowed by it but keeping the Anglican Communion together I would take the former every time

      Why do you care so much about worldly status?

      Reply
    • Yes, I predict that evangelical Anglicans will take their gloves off by starting a campapign to withold collection plate money from dioceses, and liberal bishops will respond – after the Coronation is safely out of the way – by privately contacting MPs to orgainise a campaign to tell the Church of England that it’s gay church weddings or disestablishment.

      Disestablishment would not be the slightest problem for someone like me, a small-c congregationalist at heart who happens to be in a CoE congregation, but for dedicated evangelical Anglicans this would be immensely painful. May they make the godly choice.

      Reply
      • “Yes, I predict that evangelical Anglicans will take their gloves off by starting a campapign to withold collection plate money from dioceses”

        That may happen. The result will be that when there is next a vacancy for the Vicar or whatever local title is used, the bishop and diocesan offices will refuse to appoint until the parish is up to date with its common fun payments. It already happens.
        No matter you will say – they will simply call and appoint one of their own! But they can’t, unless a bishop will licence said person. (I almost said him….and of course it probably would be a him). And for a Priest to act as Vicar without a licence would be a serious misconduct. So then the Parish would have to decide whether it was going to be independent – which would, of course, mean leaving the building.

        Withholding common fund is not a straightforward option.

        Reply
        • The result will be that when there is next a vacancy for the Vicar

          So what you’re saying is that if they have a minister who is proposed to stay for a good long while, there’s nothing can be done to them, and it will become a war of attrition to see who can hold on longest?

          Reply
        • Andrew, I don’t think that is true. Common fund is entirely voluntary; there is simply no compulsion to pay it. Patrons are as important as bishops in appointments. The system of patron and parish representatives—if they are switched on—means that the bishop cannot impose these days.

          But with so many dioceses in such large deficits, even a small reduction in common fund will be a problem. Most dioceses are looking at an increase of at least 7% PA to stay afloat over the next few years.

          Reply
          • Patrons also understand that if a Parish is withholding their common fund then they are not automatically entitled to present a new vicar and expect they will be instituted etc. I can assure you that when a vacancy occurs, one of the first things a bishop’s staff looks at is whether common fund is up to date.
            Yes, Common Fund is voluntary. But by the same token a bishop doesn’t have to give a licence.

        • This is going to come to a head soon, and the proportion of vicars who will retire during that struggle is small. So this point, is scarcely relevant.

          Reply
          • This is going to come to a head soon, and the proportion of vicars who will retire during that struggle is small.

            Also it’s surely possible to manage without a vicar for a good long while. What’s a vicar actually for, anyway? Especially if you’d only be getting one unpaid, so they had to fit in around their day job, or shared with sixteen other churches, anyway. A few members of the congregation on a rota could keep things running just as well.

      • Even if most evangelicals did (with a few exceptions like the pro homosexual marriage evangelical Bishop of Oxford) they are not the majority of Synod, liberal Catholics plus Anglo Catholics are. Given the threat of disestablishment I expect most Anglo Catholics would vote with the liberal Catholics in the end for homosexual marriages with opt outs for Parishes which disagree as they have for women priests. Most Anglo Catholics are also more pro homosexual on the whole than women priests, especially as a fair number of them are gay, whereas evangelicals are the opposite, more pro women priests than homosexual marriage. When women priests and women bishops came in by contrast it was evangelicals voting with liberal Catholics against Anglo Catholics opposition that passed it

        Reply
          • Given 483 Synod members overall you need 159 for a third to block change to recognise homosexual marriage.

            So even 150 evangelicals falls short of that, especially given some evangelicals like Stephen Croft will vote to allow homosexual marriage in the Church of England anyway reducing that evangelical total further

          • So even 150 evangelicals falls short of that

            If you’re so sure you have the votes, why are you bothering to argue here? Why not just sit back, wait, and enjoy your triumph?

          • The evangelical group are those who are orthodox on marriage. But they are far from being alone. Trad catholics are too.

            And many ‘in the middle’ are not convinced of the arguments for change, and are certainly not convinced that it is worth splitting the Church over.

          • Trad Anglo Catholics were more concerned over women priests than homosexual marriage and the Church didn’t split over that. A few left for Rome but most accepted the compromise of flying bishops for Parishes which did not want to ordain women and which could work equally well for evangelical churches which do not want to perform homosexual marriages

          • which could work equally well for evangelical churches which do not want to perform homosexual marriages

            You just don’t get it, do you? It’s not about not wanting to perform same-sex marriages.

          • Well if it isn’t leave the established church then. Nobody is forcing evangelical churches to conduct homosexual marriages if they don’t want but evangelicals cannot continue to prevent liberal Catholic churches in the established church blessing homosexual marriages which have been legal in England since 2013

          • evangelicals cannot continue to prevent liberal Catholic churches in the established church blessing homosexual marriages

            They have been able to so far, so maybe they can.

            So why don’t the ‘liberal Catholic’ churches leave? They after all after the ones that want to change.

        • For now but the Liberal Catholic view is increasingly close to a majority of Synod if not already there. The question is only really if it is yet 2/3. As Parliament and the King back homosexual marriage too it will in the end prevail in the established church.

          Evangelicals opposed can therefore either choose to stay with flying Bishops as Anglo Catholics opposed to women priests now have or leave for Baptist, Pentecostal or charismatic Evangelical independent churches which still firmly oppose homosexual marriage

          Reply
          • For now but the Liberal Catholic view is increasingly close to a majority of Synod if not already there. The question is only really if it is yet 2/3.

            You do know that these things are a pendulum, right? They’re not a straight line. They swing one way, then they swing back the other. Who’s to say the last Synod wasn’t the high water mark of the liberals, and the current, more conservative, synod isn’t the start of the pendulum’s backswing, and the next one will be more conservative still?

          • Evangelicals make up less than a third of even the current Synod and not even all of them oppose homosexual marriage, some will vote with the Liberal Catholics

          • Evangelicals make up less than a third of even the current Synod and not even all of them oppose homosexual marriage, some will vote with the Liberal Catholics

            Not all those who are not evangelicals will vote for same-sex marriage though. So the evangelical block is a floor to the conservative vote, not a ceiling.

      • Except to say Anton that “dedicated evangelical Anglicans” ; given the huge proportion of these existing *outside* the C of E and who may not necessarily be “immensely pained” by disestablishment, the fact that as we have already seen in this and previous post the endemic nature of the divisions within the C of E re SSM (et al), these manifestations will surely reverberate negatively throughout much of the Anglican world and for a variety of reasons no doubt.

        The divisions within the C of E itself are not limited to the C of E! They exist elsewhere within the Anglican Communion and not simply among those whose reputation for heterodoxy is widely recognised.

        Oh yes! And let’s not forget those numerous “evangelicals”of all hues for whom “inclusivity” has become a cri de coeur!

        Reply
    • I appreciate your indicating your personal choice.

      You are going to get your choice made for you.

      There will of course still be an “Anglican Communion linking Catholic and Apostolic churches.” It is what remains when the tiny percent of churches worldwide do something more forthright than this present ‘compromise’ which embodies neither catholicity nor apostolic order (so TEC, ACofC, SEC) or those who pursue something along these neither fish nor fowl lines.

      The Global South Fellowship will view this development as on par with the bolder model of TEC et al. They have already intimated that as such. They have also encouraged parishes, dioceses, and larger entities to come alongside the version of the Anglican Communion in your quoted words above.

      Yes, the choice you opt for is in the works, though not as you appear to see it.

      Reply
      • Dear AP The drift of what I was saying was observational , not prophetic( as in your postscript) and certainly not an expression of commitment. My comments are based upon a wide experience of two branches of Anglicanism coupled with involvement in a wider spectrum of its ecclesial diversity than I suspect you have. My comments were directed to Anton’s post above. They were not a statement of intent.

        Reply
    • PS. You will have to send a memo to the ABC, viz. “the Church of England which is the only Anglican Church the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually leader of.”

      That is indeed going to be the case. Here you are a true prophet.

      Reply
      • It is the case now, being first amongst equals of the Anglican communion is merely symbolic. He has zero power outside the Church of England and certainly nothing like the Pope has over the global Roman Catholic church

        Reply
        • And in the current authority structures of Rome ” the Pope has over the global Roman Catholic Church”; given the recent termination of the latter day Avignon dynasty (two Popes under one roof) exactly who has ultimate authority at this time? Even a cursory glance at the contemporary internal political scenario within Rome would reveal more than a contretemps between traditionalists and revisionists!. Or maybe it’s “merely symbolic”?

          Reply
          • The RCs are also divided between conservative Benedictites and relative liberals who back Francis. Though the Pope has more power over the global RC church to get his agenda through

          • Colin,

            There was a centuries-long battle between the papal supremacists and those who believed that ultimate earthly authority in the Church of Rome lay with a council of its bishops – a battle that had gone on between the papacy and its opponents ever since the Council of Constance resolved the Western Schism in the early 15th century. The First Vatican Council settled it in favour of the papacy and Rome is now stuck with that. So it all depends on who the Pope is…

  17. It is obvious that the ABC is not the Pope inside a Communion, the Catholic Church, with black letter canon law. No one said he was.

    The ‘zero power’ may indeed be where this is headed for the See of Canterbury. I do not dispute that; it is my point.

    But you are incorrect that it is the case now, and indeed you badly misunderstand the reality. This is a further indication of how short the horizon is for some in the CofE.

    He calls the Lambeth Conference and determines its membership; or did.

    He chairs the Primates Meetings and the ACC.

    But most decisively, how you choose to understand his role–presumably as a member of the CofE–is most definitely not how he understands his role.

    At least until now, that is.

    You seem to miss the point of the remarks above. The question is not the absence of authority–what you term ‘zero power’–but whether the Bishops know what the consequences are of their actions. The very fact that the ABC says ‘I’m not going to do this’ isn’t stated by him in view of his internal role in the CofE. It is stated, one supposes, in the role he has presumed to have vis-a-vis the Communion, and that they too have accepted is just this role.

    All of this is now in forfeit. (Or for you, it was apparently always a chimera).

    Reply
    • The ABC has never held any legal power outside England, he could not stop the US Episcopalian church endorsing homosexual marriage in its churches or the Ugandan churches backing for anti gay laws. Calling conferences and chairing meetings is not the same as having any power of enforcement

      Reply
      • Slight correction, the ABC had legal power over Wales when it was part of the province of Canterbury until disestablishment in 1920. That was it

        Reply
      • No one said it was (save, not inviting to Lambeth is soft authority).

        The point is the ABC has the sorts of roles agreed by the Instruments of Communion, or he doesn’t.

        He has been seen as having these roles and many, many have spoken of the Communion being constituted by him, viz., those he determines are in communion with the See of Canterbury. Surely this has not escaped you?

        The point is, that reality is now in full abeyance. You didn’t think it amounted to anything (a false appraisal of the role of the ABC in a Communion not Roman Catholic), and now it doesn’t full-stop.

        You have gotten what you want and also have claimed it was never there.

        Reply
        • As usual, conservative Americans have a particular ‘take’ on this matter. As has been said before, by another Christopher, that’s politicians for you.
          If conservatives actually don’t want anything forced upon them they need to be proactive in making positive suggestions about the impasse rather than just shouting when they don’t like what is proposed.

          Reply
          • If conservatives actually don’t want anything forced upon them they need to be proactive in making positive suggestions about the impasse rather than just shouting when they don’t like what is proposed.

            ‘If Ukrainians actually don’t want anything forced on them they need to be proactive in making positive suggestions about which extra bits of their country they’re going to give to Russia in exchange for temporary peace rather than just fighting back when they don’t like their territory being occupied.’

          • ‘If supporters of apartheid want to keep oppressing black people they need to come up with good reasons why they oppose the ending of apartheid rather than just shouting more hate slogans’

  18. T1
    Terminally, tedious, tendentious, first class. It is so acutely stale, nothing new to see here.
    1 What or who do you worship?
    2 What is the evangel?

    In judgement, our Triune God is giving the church over to unrighteousness same sex desires no matter how you cut or put it or seek to confuse and befuddle. It is clear. The so called church ( called -out ones) can not bless in direct opposition to God’s indicatives edicts judgements. It is purely anti Christ(ian).

    Reply
  19. My understanding is that there are over 100 Bishops in the Church of England.
    Two questions:

    1. Did all of them know, agree and read the response before it was released?

    2. Who actually wrote the response supposedly in their names?

    Reply
    • Chris.
      They would all have been involved in the meetings of the College of Bishops which looked at the response to LLF. A small group chaired by Sarah Mullaly, Bishop of London, would have produced several drafts a long the way. And there is no question that every member of the College of Bishops would have seen the final draft before it was published.
      A more significant question is who spoke to the BBC before the press release. Not that it much matters because what they said was accurate, as was the press release, despite – apparently – one of the Archbishops telling Ian Paul that it was not accurate.

      Reply
      • Thank you for your reply Andrew. Even more depressing then, if the collective consciousness of the House of Bishops who had sight of it, has sanctioned a response that is so theologically incoherent, that its notable success has been in uniting both sides of the divide viscerally against it. It astonishes me that none of them thought through the implications of its content and waved a red flag when it was going through the approvals process. Can all of them really be that inept?

        However, this still doesn’t answer my second question. Who were the individals who drafted and wrote it?

        Reply
        • More than that though that as well, is signifies a lack of trust, lack of integrity and a mendacity on behalf of some, conscious that there’d be no disciplinary measures for breach of the collective. While Mullaly may had a stellar secular CV, I ‘m not sure how that has translated theologically or philophically, let alone biologically.

          Reply
        • Chris the drafting and writing would have been by members of the small group chaired by Sarah Mullaly, the Bishop of London.

          Reply
          • I can’t find a list of members of that group Chris. They would have been bishops with known differing views on the matter. Almost certainly a lawyer would have been present. I doubt the membership is confidential…..if I discover it I will let you know!

          • If the ‘views’ differ that widely, that is proof that a lot of them have not yet researched enough to hold any view.

          • Christopher you are just talking nonsense here. The bishops have been entirely open about not being of one mind on this issue. That’s no secret. We don’t know how ‘widely’ they differ so your comment just makes no sense at all

          • I just meant that assuming they are like the rest of us, there are two spikes at the poles with a great unbridgeable gulf in the middle.

            However, it is just another instance of people leaping to say what their conclusion is before they have studied sufficiently to have any conclusion. Evidence of lack of study in some episcopal quarters is found in (a) repetition of points that have long been addressed with no acknowledgement of this, (b) cliches, indicating captivity to certain much broadcast channels of thought, (c) logical fallacies, (d) hesitations when faced with questions that expose incoherence.

      • I thought that the first two meetings to consider the response to LLF was the College of Bishops (i.e., all of them), and the third meeting just concluded was the House of Bishops (all diocesan plus a few suffragan).

        Reply
  20. Jesus himself never opposed homosexual marriage. As the established church the Church of England can of course bless homosexual marriages which are already legal in English law

    Reply
    • It may or may not be interesting to have your sensible, theological, comments on Ian Paul’s following article, on the CoE lectionary reading from John, 2, the wedding at Cana.
      We’ll not hold our collective breath, though.

      Reply
    • Once more, can I give notice that these ignorant, trolling comments will be deleted. Jesus affirmed marriage as between one man and one woman, warned against porneia, which included same-sex sex, was in line with the Jewish consensus of his day, and was expounded by Paul to Gentiles.

      I don’t know why you waste our time with these silly comments.

      Reply
      • In your view.

        However at least half the Church of England, certainly the Liberal Catholic half disagree. Jesus never said anything against committed homosexual unions whatever hardline evangelicals say and in a discussion on the Church of England’s position on homosexual marriage that is not trolling, it is the majority Liberal Catholic position

        Reply
        • The meaning of porneia isn’t a matter of opinion. It is a matter of reading texts in their canonical, historical and cultural context. It serves as a pointer to the prohibited relationship in Lev 18 and elsewhere.

          Reply
          • I don’t understand your non-sequitur here. For Jesus and his listeners that is the reference point for the meaning of the word ‘porneia’.

            There’s no ambiguity to debate here. Have you not read any of the literature here? Have you not read my posts on this? They are reasonably plentiful.

          • T1, the recipients of the Acts 15 letter were enjoined to keep away from porneia.
            The letter was written in Greek (as is Acts), is addressed to Greek speakers, and is reproduced verbatim in Acts.
            Do you think that
            -they nevertheless didn’t understand what porneia meant?
            -they needed further elaboration (which was not provided) in order to be clear what it meant?

    • T1, er, same sex sex is sex outside marriage. What about this do you find difficult to understand?

      If you are in any doubt, the sky is blue and the Pope is a catholic.

      Reply
          • Which Church? For Anglican churches in Wales, Scotland and the USA homosexual marriage is officially already marriage in line with legal civil homosexual marriages there

          • It’s not playing with words. The CoE recognises mixed-sex civil marriage. It is likely going to recognise same-sex civil marriage. So, not sex outside marriage.

            Although it is time the Church had a proper grown up, theological and biblical discussion about marriage, without privileging ‘normative’ views, and interrogating what is truly scriptural and what is culturally constructed and contingent. For example, I am equally appalled and amused by the contention that the Christian family is ‘taught’ in the Bible. The NT is much more interested in ascesis and tropes such as barrenness and the eunuch than it is in nuclear ‘family values’. Christ may have taught that marriage was made in Genesis, but in tune with the pre-lapsarian coupling, He had no interest or investment in procreation. The Christian family is a product of eisegetical readings of the NT. It may be in the BCP, it may be a good, but it ain’t scriptural.

            That would be a start. There’s plenty of other traditions to interrogate.

          • (More to the point, just because the Church of England did recognise some civil marriages doesn’t mean it would have to recognise all civil marriages. For example if the civil law were to permit polygamy, the Church of England would presumably continue to recognise only the first marriage as valid, yes?

        • The C of E already recognises civil marriages of divorced couples and blesses them and marries them itself if the Vicar agrees and has done since 2002

          Reply
          • We know. Steven Croft’s book unintentionally proves the slippery slope principle by outlining the loosening process (always in the same direction) over as many as four different stages – and still manages to sound proud of it.

            A bit like a Head Teacher proudly showing off evidence that standards had got steadily laxer over 4 successive periods of time.

          • The C of E already recognises civil marriages of divorced couples and blesses them and marries them itself if the Vicar agrees and has done since 2002

            So you’re back to arguing that two wrongs make a right.

  21. I think +Coventry’s letter is interesting…

    “Second, that the Church of England’s received understanding of marriage as set out in our canons and authorised liturgies, remains.

    As we know, some bishops have come to believe that the doctrine and practice of marriage should be developed or extended to include same-sex unions. Others, the majority (including me), are not persuaded by those arguments and remain convinced that ‘holy matrimony’, to use the words of the Prayer Book, is the joining together of a man and a woman in ‘an honourable estate, instituted of God . . . adorned beautified’ by Christ and ‘commended by St Paul’.

    Reply
    • I think it’s interesting because someone who is known to be conservative on the matter can write “I believe that what the bishops have put before Synod can be described as a form of ‘differentiated consensus’1, that has an authentically Anglican character to it.”… and
      “There is a strong consensus here, together with a strong desire and a readiness to make a concerted effort to ensure that the theological differentiation around the second and third areas of consensus I’ve described above, do not lead to a serious practical differentiation in our common life, structures and witness.
      “….the bishops say, ‘What we must do is create a generous space for the Holy Spirit to fill as we stay faithful to Christ, rooted and grounded in the love of God’. I believe that the bishops’ response to Living in Love and Faith set out in the papers before Synod, provides the basis for that generous space.”

      It’s very Anglican.

      Reply
        • It’s not praise. Equivocation is not praiseworthy; it is beloved of politicians and indeed of anyone to whom words mean more than realities.

          Reply
          • Tell that to the Bishop of Coventry who makes the claim that is authentically Anglican

            It’s definitely authentically Anglican. That’s still not praise.

          • Whoever denied it was authentically Anglican?
            The right answer lies in comprehensiveness not in eclecticism for its own sake nor in fudge nor in diplomacy nor in compromise.

      • What is striking is that Christopher’s comment bears absolutely no relation to the comments being made by liberal bishops. It is almost as if they were in completely different meetings!

        Reply
        • Interesting, I thought it bore every resemblance but coming from a different view. Perhaps they were holding different parts of the elephant in the room and describing the parts they were holding?

          Reply
        • Is this a product of the Indaba method of tackling contentious issues? Its seen as “new” but essentially no different to earlier ways of handling disputes. I came across it (method not indaba) on an inter diocesan management course in the 90s. Essentially : state what you want to have but you can’t state what you don’t want to have/draw red lines .

          Otherwise… What’s +Coventry’s (and the Bishops’ letter) view of SSM… Definitely not marriage, just different. A matter of disputed holiness. Isn’t that the only justification for their offering? Or am I assuming too much coherence….

          Reply
      • It is very well written with careful and precise language. He seems to be saying that many of them did not want ‘differentiated’ practice (aka permissive approach for different churches) even if they made differentiations between ‘Holy Matrimony’ position and the provision of blessings for the shared lives of people with civil marriages. His comments were far more helpful than most of the anodyne messages that were sent out.

        Reply
  22. Not now homosexual marriage is the law in England and not once Synod approves homosexual marriages in Church of England churches either

    Reply
    • once Synod approves homosexual marriages in Church of England churches

      You mean ‘if Synod approves homosexual marriages in Church of England churches’.

      Reply
      • (Note that even if Synod were to approve the current proposals (by no means a done deal) that still wouldn’t approve same-sex marriages in Church of English churches).

        Reply
        • Yes it would as Parliament would change the law swiftly after. Indeed Parliament may well impose homosexual marriage on the Church of England as the established church anyway whether Synod votes for it

          Reply
          • Fear and self interest are a terrible combination – not to be commended as drivers in decision making. Especially where the is no fear of the LORD.

          • Yes it would as Parliament would change the law swiftly after.

            No it wouldn’t because the current proposals from the bishops, as listed above, do not allow for same-sex marriage in churches. So Synod approving those proposals wouldn’t amount to the governing body of the region approving same-sex marriages for the purposes of the legislation.

            The current proposals, which will go to Synod, are to authorise services of ‘blessing’ (whatever that means) for same-sex couples, not to allow same-sex marriages in Church of England churches.

          • The Bishops proposals do however allow for blessings of homosexual marriages, which is a step towards full homosexual marriages being allowed in Church of England churches.

            If Labour win the next general election then Parliament will likely vote to amend the law and go the whole hog so the Church of England as the established church has to allow full homosexual marriages in its churches

          • The Bishops proposals do however allow for blessings of homosexual marriages, which is a step towards full homosexual marriages being allowed in Church of England churches.

            Maybe, maybe not. Even if the proposals are approved, which isn’t a forgone conclusion by any means, that may be as far as it ever goes.

            <i€If Labour win the next general election then Parliament will likely vote to amend the law and go the whole hog so the Church of England as the established church has to allow full homosexual marriages in its churches

            You’re piling if upon if upon if there. Labour may not win the election. Even if they do they may not want to spare the Parliamentary time that would be necessary to push through complex legislation against the will of Synod.

  23. Well, it is certainly not along the lines suggested by James Byron, with operation of SCOTUS floated as a better way. Indeed the operation of a Judicial system, and decision making, where the written ratio decedendi, legal arguments and weight given ( and obiter dictum) is set out of the majority as are those in dissent. Sometimes the totality, or cumulative decision is set out in writing.
    eg The majority decision of judges A, B and C is given by C but A and B add to it. Similarly with dissenting Judges D and E.
    Now I’m not suggesting the this is the best method, but it seems far simpler, straightforward, but, as it is, it would appear to be far too difficult the CoE, perhaps beyond their schemes.

    Reply
    • If I’ve got you right….

      On one of the relatively recent reports on this issue, Keith +Birkenhead, was (for shorthand) a dissenter and his views were included in the document.

      Reply
      • Ian,
        I’m not sure (but I doubt it) as I’ve not seen what you are referring to.
        What I am referring to is the way judgements made are reported Courts of appeal.
        I don’t know what the Bishop you were referring to was dissenting to and how thorough, point and counterpoint and which sources and authorities were cited in support of their judgment, how statute law and case law precedents can or have been distinguished in arriving at their decision.
        A simple example would be Ian’s article, as a wide ranging counter of dissent, which Ian acknowledges could be even more comprehensive, more could be cogently and coherently drawing in other relevant points others have, and he also has, made at other times.
        It would not be beyond the Bishops to look at examples of law reports, such as All England Reports.
        One huge difference between Bishops and eg Appeal Court Judges is that Judges are not activists for changes in the law over which they are to deliberate. It would breach rules of natural justice. There would be a conflict of interest. They would be obliged to divulge the personal interest and withdraw.
        (This is unlike SCOTUS, which James propose. Judges are political appointments, their constitutional law hermentics well known and tested in advance. Any echoes here in the appointment of Bishops?)

        Reply
    • Now I’m not suggesting the this is the best method, but it seems far simpler, straightforward, but, as it is, it would appear to be far too difficult the CoE,

      The Church of England seems to prefer to model itself along the lines of cabinet government, where the discussion happens behind closed doors and once a decision is reached all members are expected, whatever their own views, to defend the decision in public while privately conducting two-faced, spiteful anonymous briefing campaigns with the aid of their friends in the media.

      Reply
      • Indeed S.
        There would be outrage from some of the same Bishop for behaviour and methods of operation that they see exercised in the Cabinet, Parliament’s executive, of any political stripe bringing it into disrepute and dishonour.
        For anyone who has any experience of employment in some public sector and some business organisations it is well known that decisions are often taken outside of formal and structured, minuted meetings.

        Reply
  24. Disappointed to hear that only 4 Bishops voted against issuing it.

    And really can’t get my head round the reasoning of the more Trad Anglo-Catholics who all abstained.

    Unless they knew that their actions would be leaked eventually. FWIW, while I know the numbers, I don’t know the names of those who voted against.

    Reply
    • Disappointed to hear that only 4 Bishops voted against issuing it.

      Is it at all possible that any genuinely conservative bishops wanted it issued as they thought that it was so incoherent that it would actively undermine the pro-same-sex-marriage case?

      Reply
  25. Last night Justin Welby faced a demonstration by gay activists outside Lambeth Palace complaining that the bishops had not gone far enough. Jayne Ozanne said, “One of the things that angers me the most is that we talk about unity all the time… but that even talk of unity seems to exclude the LGBT community who are leaving in their droves.”

    Reply
  26. “Archbishop Welby cannot compartmentalise his role as Primate of England from his role as ‘first among equals (head of the world-wide Communion)’. He says he will not personally use the ‘prayers of blessing’, but his “extremely joyfully celebratory” welcome of the blessing prayers, and his leadership of the House of Bishops in proposing this Response, means that he is actually advocating false teaching from a biblical point of view.”

    At issue is the place of the See of Canterbury in the Anglican Communion. One supposes that many (in the CofE) in favor of same sex blessings and marriage will rejoice to see the ABC no longer in his role vis-a-vis the Communion.

    And so it now is.

    Reply
    • The ABC is merely first amongst equals in the Anglican Communion, not even first and sole leader as he is in the Church of England. Some provinces of the Anglican communion from the US to Scotland and Wales already allow homosexual marriages anyway

      Reply
      • The quote above is from the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans. Provinces (75% of the Anglican Communion) that dwarf the CoE by a factor that, by no intent, shows the diminishment of a Province once held to be a Catholic and reformed entity, assuring something like the same wherever this Province extended its Gospel.

        T1. You shall have what you describe. That should be something you welcome, as I hope you do.

        Reply
        • You shall have what you describe.

          ‘Never fear. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”’

          The Great Divorce

          Reply
    • Christopher we know you favour that option and prefer the so called Global South – who are, as has been noted before – not altogether South and not altogether Anglican. The fact is that most of those in the CofE don’t mind either way about the Anglican Communion. They mind more about matters of faith and peace and justice and integrity of creation.

      Reply
  27. Evangelicals voted with Liberal Catholics to get women priests and Bishops despite Anglo Catholics objections and they have accepted flying Bishops instead.

    So maybe their reasoning us Evangelicals will just have to accept flying Bishops for those opposed to homosexual marriages as they had to when opposed to women priests

    Reply
    • Yes, but how about all the different specialist flying bishops in different for those who:
      accept women priests but reject ”homosexual marriage”
      reject women priests but accept ”homosexual marriage”
      reject them both?

      Solution: Everyone forms a congregation of 1.

      Reply
      • There is a story of two Jews on a desert island. They built three synagogues. One for each of them, and one that neither of them would be seen dead in.
        There is nothing new about the phenomenon you observe Christopher!

        Reply
  28. Living in Love and Faith was billed as a listening exercise. It listened to a human culture. How naive of me to expect the church to listen to God and speak to the culture!

    Reply
    • No, it listened to those who engaged with the process. One assumes that the work of the Holy Spirit was somewhere and somehow present.

      Reply
      • There have been comments on this blog that show that LLF was not an even handed, balanced process, but was weighted in favour of revision. It was as many anticipated it would be entirely reasonably foreseeable, a bias that was compounded by the last Lambeth.
        The Division of Revision has been sown and is being reaped.
        You presumption of the operation of the Holy Spirit at work is evidenced, how?
        God the Holy Spirit does not operate contrary the his work of Revelation of the whole canon of scripture. Revision is emnity.

        Reply
        • “There have been comments on this blog that show that LLF was not an even handed, balanced process, but was weighted in favour of revision. ”

          I’m sure there have. There have also been comments that show that LLF was weighted in favour of the status quo. Some think one thing….Some the other….that’s, as the Bishop of Coventry noted, the system we inhabit.

          I agree Geoff. I think the Holy Spirit works in ways that are consonant of the whole of scripture. Our disagreement is about what scripture, taken as a whole, says to us.

          Reply
        • Yes, I bothered to take the LLF course as well as reading the exegetical part of the book. Most certainly it was loaded. And the assumption that the Holy Spirit operates simply because the church is involved was debunked by Luther 500 years ago.

          Reply
  29. “The fact is that most of those in the CofE don’t mind either way about the Anglican Communion. They mind more about matters of faith and peace and justice and integrity of creation.”

    I hope the author of this comment realizes it is nowhere in dispute. He states it as if he wishes to inform, but it was never in doubt. It is what is being manifested now in very clear terms.

    “The Church of England” is what’s on the tin. A church for English culture. As noted above by S, the author is having what he wants. The Communion is getting to see in clear terms that the established church in the Provinces of York and Canterbury are historic sees in the sense of once having made the claim to catholicity apart from Rome, and of maintaining apostolic order on reformed terms; but now this historic claim is no longer theologically coherent.
    It is a church chiefly tuned into the specifics of English culture in 2023, and that is where its bearings are.

    It is, in fact, the church of English culture. For some, like the author quoted above, that is just exactly right. For others (in the CofE and outwith England), it is a departure from historical claims and identity.

    Reply
    • “the claim to catholicity apart from Rome”
      Well, many. Including the owner of this blog, would differ from your interpretation there Christopher. They are proudly Protestant, and fear anything with the word Priest, or Altar, or any such things that might even hint at catholicity apart from Rome.
      The Global South is not of one mind on this. ACNA is not even part of the Global South. So the delineations you claim are by no means binary. The CofE remains solidly Anglican.

      Reply
      • They are proudly Protestant, and fear anything with the word Priest, or Altar, or any such things that might even hint at catholicity apart from Rome.

        Of course the reason for objecting to terms like ‘priest’ and ‘altar’ is not anything to do with being ‘proudly Protestant’ or ‘fearing hints of catholicity’. It’s because such things are not true

        Now it seems clear that to Andrew Godsall, religion is not about what’s true: it’s about identifying yourself with a tribe. But Andrew Godsall seems not to understand that not everyone is like him. Some of us don’t care what tribe we are seen to belong to, but only what is true.

        Reply
      • “The Global South is not of one mind on this. ACNA is not even part of the Global South.”

        You are proving your own myopia true. ‘No one in the CofE cares about the Communion.’

        Well, you don’t.

        Just google Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches.

        Parochial.

        Reply
  30. I’d prefer to let the author of this blog comment on your characterisation.

    The Church of England claimed to be Catholic and Reformed.

    Now the church of English culture that you espouse is just that, and nothing more.

    You are not addressing the content of remarks made, but picking around the edges; indeed that is your time-consuming wont. You prefer to quibble and confer views on others. You confect names to address. You do not prefer serious exchange. My guess is you are simply not up to it. Rather, it is a kind of puerile contest. You see across the length and breadth of this blog.

    To quote the actual words of “the owner of this blog”

    “What poor and pathetic gas lighting. If you cannot do better, please go elsewhere.”

    Yes, if you are not up to serious debate, please do.

    Reply
    • Christopher, I am not ‘confecting’ names to address. Neither am I hiding behind a pseudonym.
      You don’t make any new remarks, and simply repeat what you have said for the last ten years. And then you add a number of ad hominem remarks.
      “The Church of England claimed to be Catholic and Reformed”.
      Churches aren’t able to claim things like that. I suspect what you mean to say is that a particular group of people within the CofE claimed such a thing. Other groups claim that the CofE is much nearer the Puritans who dissented, the Geneva party who would want to say the CofE was entirely Protestant. Just when did the CofE make such a ‘claim’ and how did it do it?

      Of course the Church of England is tied to a particularly English culture. Do you expect, given its history, that it would have no such claims?

      I can Google Global South Fellowship of Churches but I don’t need to. I know the claims they make for themselves. I also know that not all of of those claims are true.

      Good to see you back Christopher. You bring a smile.

      Reply
      • Land-speed record for proving the point so effectively.

        “The Global South is not of one mind on this. ACNA is not even part of the Global South.”

        A classic.

        Reply
        • “The Church of England claimed to be Catholic and Reformed”.

          Could you explain what you meant by that Christopher? When did it make that claim? Who exactly made it? And what was the context in which ‘The Church of England” made the claim?

          Reply
          • Ahh Christopher my local Vicar says the CofE is simply ‘Protestant’ and similarly asks when the CofE made the statement you claim it has made.

  31. That Sky interview!
    Bp Mullally just saying ‘s0me will be sexual’ as if that wasn’t a big deal.
    Curtains 4 the Anglican C0mmuni0n and decimating an already v sick C f E is a big deal.
    Sin is a bigger 1.
    Blessing sin is the biggest 1.
    But at least the secularist media were pacified.
    4 a mess 0f p0ttage.

    Reply

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