Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Primates or Percy: you choose!

Scanning Anglicanland we find today that the big news is the meeting of Primates (known as the Primates Meeting) and Thinking Anglicans has all the details, including a link to biographies of every primate attending.

I was asking myself why only two of our three primates are going to the meeting then I realised that the the name of the third one - the new Maori Archbishop - has not yet been announced, even though, as far as I can tell, that name has been pretty widely circulating in our church, a sort of open secret ...

Anyhoo, the Primates Meeting will be dominated by You Know What with special reference to a putative disciplinary call against the Scottish Episcopal Church. Any which way, it will be an interesting meeting, because not all primates, apparently, are going to show up. Once again we Anglicans must ask the question whether we are a Communion when not all of us are in communion. For not the first or, I suppose, the last time, on this blog, I make the point that our honest (=accurate) name would be Anglican Federation.

Meanwhile invitations to the GAFCON Conference in Jerusalem next year are being issued. How do I know that? Well, it is not because I am on the invitation list. I blame too many public thoughts on this blog :)

However, if the Primates Meeting matters little to you, there is a little something else to consider with Anglican analytical thinking hats on. Martyn Percy, recent visitor to these islands, has written a consideration of the Mawer report into the fiasco when Philip North was selected and (effectively) deselected as Bishop of Sheffield recently.

It is a fascinating sociology meet theology, what is English catholicism really all about in an age of gender fluidity tour de force guided by a delineation between "ambiguity" and "nuance". But, as a tour de force, is it a forced argument? I am not sure what to make, for instance, of the following:

"Sacralised ambiguity becomes the inevitable victim in this. I say this, fully conscious of an underlying theological and spiritual reality. That in the Eucharistic mimesis of Anglo-catholic worship, the priest is almost bound to become, in some sense, the misunderstood victim."

But I am glad to have read Percy's thoughts. Last Friday night I attended Michaelmas at St Michael's and All Angels. An exemplary Anglo-Catholic experience. But, I ask myself, what is the future of Anglo-Catholicism in the 21st century? Might (to take up Percy's language) its ambiguities be nuanced in different directions? Do its combinations of ambiguities and nuances offer the sense of (attractive) mystery which (many tell us) is the key to the future of Christianity in the West?

I don't imagine the Primates Meeting will offer us many clues about how we move forward as an expression of the catholic church.

49 comments:

Jonathan said...


"Do(es Anglo-Catholicism's) combinations of ambiguities and nuances offer the sense of (attractive) mystery which (many tell us) is the key to the future of Christianity in the West?" From my very limited experience, and that from a weekly evening Taize service at All Saints Dunedin, I think yes, mystery; space to just be in the presence of God, including space for the space junk that tends to float around one's soul to be stilled; and an appeal to an extraordinarily diverse group of people. While I find extraordinary diversity in the evangelical and all-sorts-ical congregation/groups I am also involved in, perhaps it says something of my preconceptions that I have been surprised at the diversity of appeal of this particular evening service!

Andrei said...

Hi Peter;

I guess you can take some comfort in the fact that there has not been a Council of the Full Church since 787

And that the Orthodox attempt to hold a sobor in Crete last year despite fifty years of planning fell over.

There is only one true Church Peter and its members are found in all brands, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and so forth

St John Chrysostom wrote "The Road to Hell is paved with the skulls of priests with the way lit by Bishops"

The mistake you continually make is to consider the Priests and Bishops as the chief enlighteners of the Faithful and while some have indeed been important in bringing people to the light far more who have done God's work in this regard have been neither a priest nor a bishop

Saint Seraphim of Sarov who was a humble hieromonk (so a priest) is an example from my tradition but recognized in the Latin ( and some Anglican circles as a Holy man). Saint Matrona of Moscow is another, an old blind woman with profound spiritual insight who enlightened many.

And a beloved example from the Western tradition is Saint Francis of Assisi from whom the current Pope takes his name.

But for all those who have achieved wide recognition there are thousands more who haven't and whose work is known only to those who have profited by their guidance and God himself

We have a word for such people - Starets which is sometimes translated "elder" or "holy man or woman" but in my opinion should be left untranslated

A living example may be Agafia Lykova an old believer (старове́ры)

The Bishops will congregate at Lambeth and talk, produce documents that few will read and who will be brought into the Life of Christ by the process?

Father Ron Smith said...

"The Bishops will congregate at Lambeth and talk, produce documents that few will read and who will be brought into the Life of Christ by the process?"

- Andrei -

Dear Andrei, a do agree with much of what you say here - that the wisdom of the body of Christ rests in the Body as well as in the earthly purple 'heads'.

I suppose - referring to your sentence above - one might expect even less catholicity will be found in the meeting of the disaffected diaspora at the upcoming GAFCON meeting.

However, Peter, schismatics are not generally concerned for catholicity, but those meeting at Lambeth at least have the will to remain together in Christ

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I suggest it is worth watching the GAFCON event closely:
- what fraction of the Communion is represented there (majority or minority)?
- how many Primates turn up to the event?
- has GAFCON grown since the last such event?

My hunch is that we will find a lot more than a "disaffected diaspora" there.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
A challenge re the Anglican experience of lay discernment on various issues is that, in my experience, it is about as divided as the clergy's!

But, on the general question of faithfulness, no Anglican mission or ministry exists without lay participation.

In my personal life I count many laypersons among the most significant influences on my life.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jonathan
Personally I think Taize is critical to a renewal of Anglican Catholic life!

Sam Anderson said...

Hi Peter,

Those certainly are things to keep our eyes on regarding GAFCON. And, like you, I think it will be another significant event.

From my limited understanding of global Anglican events, it does seem as if the power base is shifting inexorably towards the Global South, the GAFCON movement, and organisations like FCA, and away from the historic see of Canterbury, The West, and gatherings such as Lambeth.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that the theologically and doctrinally orthodox church around the world continues to gain strength, numbers, and a strong voice, even as the heterodox and increasingly apostate church ages, shrinks, and becomes increasingly irrelevant.

Most heartening is the great gospel strides that the orthodox are prepared to make, with or without approval of historic power sources.

Anonymous said...

Officer Percy of the Late Modern thought police is out on his rounds again.

(1) Celibacy is in the NT, and Anglo-Catholic communities, such as the one at Mirfield, are the only visible witness to it that the Church of England has. It would be better for an apostolic church not to have to reinvent that wheel a fourth time.

(2) The General Synod there is much like a parliament in its authority and nothing at all like an ecumenical council in its authority. Nobody expects it to be the Anglican Inquisition.

(3) People will speculate about the meaning of gender until the end of time. How are those who think that male priests were agents of the wicked patriarchy undermining ministry less than those who think that women priests participate less neatly in the great chain of being? It is probably best to stick to the idea that "the unworthiness of the minister hindereth not the effect of the sacraments."

(4) All the "ambiguity" to which Percy points arises from a now-dated sort of Anglo-Catholicism that was confusingly, and to my mind tragically, Anglo-Roman, but nothing prevents Anglo-Catholics from catching up to the ecumenism of eg Taize or the Lima Document as Rome herself has often done, and that is what should be encouraged, either in Sheffield or elsewhere.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...


I expect there will be quite a large representation of Sydney-siders (and their progeny from Moore College, some of whom reside in our Christchurch diocese) at the next GAFGCON. However, I am confident that there are more Canterbury-loyal Bishops from ACANZP who attend Canterbury rather than GAFCON. I take that to be the majority ACANZ position that will still prevail after both events are done and dusted.

GAFCON is mainly a Third-World phenomenon, reacting to a First-world enlightenment.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
We will need to see what the numbers are but since GAFCON is likely to have strong representation from ACNA, from the Anglican Church of Australia (not just from Sydney), from the Churches of England and of Ireland, to say nothing of representation from our own church, it will be much more than a Third World phenomenon.

Incidentally, if all bishops turn up to Lambeth then that Conference will be a Third World majority phenomenon, drawn to an event with a strong history in the First World Enlightenment! Most Anglicans live in Nigeria. The largest continent of Anglicans is Africa. The times they are a-changing.

Sam Anderson said...

Well said, Peter.

Ron, you are right about the majority of bishops in ACANZ. And this is exactly what I'd expect given that our church is of the increasingly heterodox, apostate, and shrinking kind I described previously. We are, so to speak, going down with the ship.

Also, Ron, can you explain how we should read your final sentence in a way that is not disparaging to those in the two-thirds world?

Jean said...

Debates about women's presiding and the Eucharist aside I think I would lean more towards Anglo-Catholicism being a nuance rather than an ambiguity. Besides the idea of women being able to be an officer holder but not that other word are not limited to Anglo-Catholics. There are also parts of the tradition as Jonathan alludes to above that offer a space for God to speak, for to ascertain God as mystery and beyond our understanding holds truth. I do begin to agree with Percy, however, when he states there is a point where there is too much theological accommodation (his reference to only being a 'valid' minister if solely ordained by men a.k.a. of course we all know one is only a valid minister if ordained by God), however, this same point again is not limited to Anglo-Catholicism and can be extended to the other end of the theological spectrum also. However, so long as we are talking convictions and not actions that distort the Gospel I think a lot of this is covered by that section in the bible about the first Christians who had different ideas - some ate meat sacrificed to idols some didn't ... everyone was encouraged to accept people according to their level of faith... etc etc.

Sociologically does western society really like/desire or want people to be out there with a clear strong statement with no ambiguity, or is it only if this statement supports their present cultural mores? For certain Christianity for well a little while has been stating "Jesus is the way the truth and the life" and "whosoever believes in Him will not die but live". Yet this message hasn't always and still doesn't always receive a welcoming response.

I am not sure strong opinions about gender, albeit the facts we do know to be true, have great merit. And it was this point in Percy's writing that I lost the connection - right, the Anglo Catholics would come undone when it comes to gender transitions; and gender transitions are unambiguous?? I would go as far as to say it is the ambiguity of the current thinking, practice, theories of gender identity that is one of the foremost reasons 'the issue' has caused so many more complications than other dilemma's within the church such as women's ministry. This section of analysis is reverse projection. Current gender identity is subjective and by its nature ambiguous; for the most part Christian practice and belief in the various traditions less so.

A little PC correction; the term 'third world' has definite derogatory connotations and has since been re-phrased as either; Developing countries or the 'majority world' (I am not the PC police but this one is a little hard to let slip)...

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I've no doubt that the numbers will have a profound effect on the First World participants at GAFCON -some of whom, as you say, wil inevitably be from FOCANZ. Well, Peter, such afficionadoes are so far from my horizon, that I couod hardly weep at their departure from our Canterbury ethos. Just don't take the furniture. However, they may find the African Primates much more tough on followers towing their line.

Me? I'm perfectly happy with ACANZP as she is - flexible, humble and inclusive.

Father Ron Smith said...

Sam, in trying to answer your questions of me, I need first to try to understand why you remain as a priest in a Church you now judge to have become - in your own words "increasingly heterodox, apostate and shrinking"? How can you, in all conscience (at least - your conscience) remain in a 'heretical church' situation? Integrity - which, I understand you value highly - would have demanded your resignation long ago. You would not suffer total destitution. Sydney would be glad to employ you.


As for the Good Ship ACANZP, I am content to sail with her - even with the loss of ballast that will be suffered by the departure of an unwilling crew member or two. When I was ordained, I promised allegance to its bishops, whom I still respect and am committed to be loyal to.

Regarding the massive numerical strength of the GAFCON Provinces, which insist on criminalising their LGBTI people; my belief is that they are trapped in a 19th century understanding of hermeneutics, and of human biology and sociology. This, I believe, is holding them back from a proper respect for common human rights a basic standard that even the United Nations has come around to recognising.

Because the GAFCON Provinces have more people, it does not mean they have a monoply on the Anglican Way, whch is precious to many of us in the Western Provinces, too.

Sam Anderson said...

Ron, it’s fruitless to go down the ‘who is Anglican?’ path: everyone sees themselves as the ‘true Anglicans’, and their opposition as the ‘unfaithful’.

I disagree with almost every statement you made in your previous two posts. I could reply point by point but that would hardly be fruitful labour.

As I’ve said previously, it’s time your lot and mine went our separate ways. As you said, you will not mourn the loss of me, nor I you. Let your church be recognised as authentic by Canterbury, and ours by GAFCON. And we’ll go on our merry ways.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Sam and Ron
At least one person will mourn the loss of either of you should you depart from me.
Of course if the best way forward is a new Petrine church [!!!!!] then both of you are welcome to join me :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Sam, re your comment about each of us going our separate ways, do I really need to reiterate the fact that we (I) will not be going anywhere. I am quite happy where I am - in ACANZP, sinners as we all are but loved by God.
"This is where I stand!" (my turangawaewae- to which I have committed myself).

Peter, I've never subscribed to the need for a Church Family other than the Anglican one into which I have been baptized, confirmed and priested. I won't be travelling to either Sydney or the United States for a complimentary purple shirt, which I believe is now freely available to expatriates.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Just processing you complimentary episcopi vagantes application:
have you ever been, perchance, a Chaplain to Her Majesty?
:)

Rosemary Behan said...

With personal thanks to Rev. Graham Button, I was told about the Good News of Jesus Christ. That in Him hope is found. That He died for my inability to obey the Law .. thank you Lord. I was taught that was the message of the church.

Now Peter has asked .. “(1) Are we who are conservative in outlook here aware that the consequences of our words about same-sex partnerships may have consequences, deadly consequences beyond those usually associated with vigorous ethical debates?
(2) Would Jesus - our merciful, sensitive, bruised-reed-not-breaking Saviour and Shepherd - be quite as tight on this issue as some commenting here imply? Call me progressive, but I wonder if Jesus would find a way forward that reached out more to the reality of 21st century life than - to be frank - I find some comments here are doing?”

So a leader in my church, suggests that I am a homophobe and lead people to suicide with what I thought was the message of the church. That in Christ, there is neither male nor female. It is not so much that the questions suggest that I am a REALLY bad person, but that the message I am witness to isn’t sufficient to cover all things. Like Sam, I cannot stand by and watch my church deny the core of it’s business .. I’ll stick with the Good News.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
I said nothing about anyone debating here or holding any particular position on these matters being homophobic and I do take exception to being misinterpreted in that way. I think you would be lucky to find any instance on this blog over the last (nearly) ten years of me resorting to that awful tactic - prevalent on the internet - of attempting to rebut an argument by asserting that the arguer was or is "homophobic."

What I have raised is a fair and reasonable question - as much posed to myself as to anyone - that our debates may have impact beyond the sphere of debating. That our debates (here, at Synod, in other church forums) might contribute to a climate in the church which makes life very difficult for a young person recognising that they are gay is not an unreasonable proposition to put forward. The risk in doing so is that I will be charged, as you have done, with suggesting that we may be leading people to suicide. But is there not a risk that in not doing so I may be failing in my leadership to remind ourselves that beyond questions of (personal, sexual) identity, church life, church futures, there may be questions of life itself.

This is not about whether you or anyone else reading here is "a REALLY bad person". (I know you are not). It is about whether we are focused on the right things. If, for instance, we do split as a church because of gay and lesbian members and their relationships, is it reasonable to ask whether that might send more than one message to church members and to those outside the church? And that one of those messages might be received by gay and lesbian members as a message which says they are all too difficult for some of us to remain in fellowship with?

If I am wrong in thinking this might be the case, then I am wrong. But I do worry that we conservatives are not thinking about the multiple layers of meaning and the unpredictable effects of our fight to preserve the truth.

Do you think that gays and lesbians might take a split in the Anglican church over homosexuality as a sign of goodwill towards them?

Chris Spark said...

Hi Peter,
Just as a thought in passing, I do think that is a vital question you ask. But we have to be careful asking and answering it lest we miss its implications.

It has been said, and no doubt still is, that speaking of people as sinners (in general, not this issue in particular) may well lead to serious consequences for self esteem etc. And I have no doubt, when it is done in a certain way, it can. And when it is heard from a certain state of mind, it can. But we don't, and can't, stop calling people sinners. What we do do is call people sinners who are loved more wonderfully than they ever knew, yet their sin is so massive that Christ had to die to deal with it. We maintain the big-ness of the sin, and the bigger-ness of God's love - without having to reframe the whole notion of sin.

That is exactly what I think we must do with any particular sin as well.

On top of that, the reality is the personal and church relational environment will make a difference as to whether someone feels they are still loved even if their particular struggle is being highlighted. That has been my experience. And of course where the person in particular is already at ion terms of state of mind etc, that makes a big difference.

It is positively unfortunate, though, that this particular area of sin, which is so personal to some, is being highlighted so much. It can, I don't doubt, make it feel that this sin is in a special category that is different from the sins of all others - that is absolutely not true, which myself and others say over and over, but I have no doubt that it doesn't feel like that sometimes, and that is terrible, I lament it.

I suspect both sides of the debate would like it dropped. But unfortunately both sides think opposing things about the way to deal with it so we can move on, and think the other sides' way of dealing with it is a disaster for the gospel, and indeed for those most directly effected by the whole thing. That is our situation, as difficult as it is, and that is the reality it seems, no matter how much we wish we could just move on.

Still hoping and praying though, God bless

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Chris
Thanks!
We can definitely discuss a number of issues without much fear of unforeseen consequences, and if those consequences were a bit of damage to self-esteem, then that likely is a risk worth taking.

In my experience it is very difficult to raise issues to do with sex, sexuality, our bodies (say, in a sermon) without running the real risk of causing pain I had not foreseen. There are trigger points in people's lives which many of us in our own lives do not experience, and the pain is beyond (e.g.) damage to self-esteem: thus, beyond homosexuality, I think of abortion, divorce, abuse, suicide as challenging areas to engage in the public arena.

Mind you I have also had interesting experiences when mentioning the Lodge!!

Anonymous said...

Peter, you point out a very unfortunate problem of optics: persons with SSA could understandably but mistakenly blame conservatives for the breaking of a promise that liberals improperly made on behalf of the whole church. Some have indeed heard and believed that the Church stands ready to change anything liberals dislike; it is not so.

Ordinary people, with or without SSA, are defenseless. They do not understand how churches work, why they are so political, why there are conservative, centrist, and liberal tendencies, etc. They gravitate to those they trust and then believe all that they hear. They love those they are told to love, and hate those they are told to hate. Liberals will blame conservatives for being such bad liberals that they failed to do the liberal thing, and innocent souls will believe them and fall away.

But I think that this unreasonableness will matter least where conservatives, on the ground, are giving really good pastoral care to the young and unmarried generally and to those among them with SSA. It is one thing to have a faction fighting for a symbol of inclusion; it is another thing to have one fighting for your life. The real worry is that the energy being expended for and against SSB is being diverted from the task of defining such care for conservative pastors.

Bowman Walton

Rosemary Behan said...

Hello Peter, I’m so sorry, I know you didn’t use the word ‘homophobic,’ but that is certainly what I understood you to mean, perhaps you could show me what you DID mean. Here is what you said..

“(1) Are we who are conservative in outlook here aware that the consequences of our words about same-sex partnerships may have consequences, deadly consequences beyond those usually associated with vigorous ethical debates?
(2) Would Jesus - our merciful, sensitive, bruised-reed-not-breaking Saviour and Shepherd - be quite as tight on this issue as some commenting here imply? Call me progressive, but I wonder if Jesus would find a way forward that reached out more to the reality of 21st century life than - to be frank - I find some comments here are doing?”

It may seem like a fair question to you Peter, but it doesn’t to me. You see I didn’t bring up the matter. Rather the reverse, so your above seems more than a little unfair to me .. why is it MY problem and not the so called progressives?

You have often mentioned that many of us have family members who identify as SSA, well so do I, [as I think I have mentioned before] and I know of no other answer than Jesus, and what a marvellous answer it is. So Peter, whatever you may think or say about the church with the Anglican woman who as a wife and is in an ‘inclusive’ church, I’d rather be in a church that celebrates Jesus, and what He has done for us.

You said .. “This is not about whether you or anyone else reading here is "a REALLY bad person". (I know you are not). It is about whether we are focused on the right things. If, for instance, we do split as a church because of gay and lesbian members and their relationships, is it reasonable to ask whether that might send more than one message to church members and to those outside the church? And that one of those messages might be received by gay and lesbian members as a message which says they are all too difficult for some of us to remain in fellowship with?”

I’m afraid you’re wrong Peter, I AM really bad, so bad that I need a Saviour, and if that isn’t our PRIME message as a church then we are not being His witnesses. If we say that sin is not sin, what do we need saving from?

You said, “Do you think that gays and lesbians might take a split in the Anglican church over homosexuality as a sign of goodwill towards them?”

No I don’t, who is responsible for letting things get this far? Serious question.

Andrei said...

"There are trigger points in people's lives which many of us in our own lives do not experience, and the pain is beyond (e.g.) damage to self-esteem: thus, beyond homosexuality, I think of abortion, divorce, abuse, suicide as challenging areas to engage in the public arena."

Life is painful Peter - some of the pain we endure is self inflicted, an abortion cannot be undone for example and I know several women who feel grief over this. (The secular world will tell them that abortion is AOK but their hearts and consciences say otherwise) And sometimes women in this position seek "counselling and therapy" the secular equivalent to the pastoral care they might find from a wise spiritual adviser

And the secular counselor might try and get them to believe their guilt is in their imagination, they may even be given medication to help numb it

Whereas the wise spiritual adviser will teach them all can be forgiven and their repentance is the key to receiving that gift

Pain and suffering are our lot but in this day and age we cannot accept that. It always amazes me that when something bad happens people are offered "counselling". A kid at my kid's school died in a traffic accident and half the kids needed "counselling" and they called people in.

That might seem harsh to you but when I think of what my parents endured in their youth...

And if people struggle with their "sexuality" is it because that deep down they are uncomfortable with it because they know it is in some sense wrong ?

The world tells us we can do what we like as long as nobody gets hurt but despite our libertarian attitudes people who indulge their desires often do get hurt or (others close to them do) - Adultery is not really a victimless sin now is it?

I might legally have sex with one of my daughters friends but the consequences for my family (and ultimately myself) would be devastating and that is a truth worth knowing.

But these things do happen and there are a lot of broken people as a result

And the most commonly prescribed drugs in the West are anti depressants while the churches close their doors and their teachings, the wisdom of the ages are mocked as old fashioned.

"May we spend the rest of our lives in peace and repentance let us ask of the Lord"

"A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful and a good defense before the dread judgement seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord"

"Asking for the unity of the Faith, and the communion of the Holy Spirit let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
In the end I do not seem to be getting much traction here on the thought that when we discuss such matters we may (unwittingly) be sending out a message about life in the church which (unintentionally) oppresses some of our young people. I will drop it from my concerns.

You and I are both sinners in need of a Saviour and before God we have no righteousness of our own.

I suggest that multiple parties in our church are responsible for the current situation and, to a degree, the external factor of our country agreeing to civil legislation permitting SSM.

We have a proposal before us which I argue leans over backwards towards conservative concerns. But it does require a small (but not insignificant) degree of compromise on the part of conservatives. If the proposal is rejected by conservatives AND conservatives leave then conservatives will be leaving a church which made a significant attempt to avoid that departure.

However we are yet to see the final form of the proposal and we are yet to have our General Synod so I am not going to prejudge what might happen!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Life is often painful without any extra factors pressing in.
Sometimes the church helps relieves the pain of living and sometimes it is responsible for increasing the pain - the question then being whether the church could have acted otherwise.
You wrote:
"And if people struggle with their "sexuality" is it because that deep down they are uncomfortable with it because they know it is in some sense wrong ?"
I think that needs answering by those who are so struggling.

Andrei said...

"Sometimes the church helps relieves the pain of living and sometimes it is responsible for increasing the pain

Is it?

I've never heard a homily lambasting sexual sin of any flavour - there are bible readings about it in the lectionary - the Samaritan Woman gets a Sunday dedicated to her but her irregular marital arrangements are not the point of the text but an aside and Church Tradition says she repented and became a great labourer in the Lord's Vineyard for many years

Romans 1 including the famous "clobber" verses are read but this chapter of Romans is only read in the first week after Pentecost with the contentious verses being read on the Wednesday - You could be a Faithful Orthodox Christian and regularly attend the Liturgy for your entire life and not hear these verses read in Church - monastics will but not the general body. The Gospel for that day is Matthew 5:20-26 - you might care to read those two texts and consider how you might build a homily around them and I'd suggest Homosexuality would not feature large in any such sermon

A text that might feature large in our thinking might be: Matthew 7:3-5

And Rosemary in her last comment says " I AM really bad, so bad that I need a Saviour, and if that isn’t our PRIME message as a church then we are not being His witnesses. If we say that sin is not sin, what do we need saving from? - and in this recognizing her own failings, her own unworthiness to approach the Lord but through his grace is still able to do so. I express myself differently from Rosemary but there it is we all fall short and we must aspire to overcome our shortcomings with the Help of the Lord and guided by His Church

How anybody chooses to live their lives is none of our business where it has no impact upon us - if you seek after God you come to Church, to be healed and to grow in the Faith but what you choose to take from that is entirely up to you

If a Church teaching is unpalatable to you you are free to reject it or even the Church entirely - you are exercising your God given Free Will. But your choices will have consequences in this world and the next

To change the long held doctrines and theology of Christian Marriage to accomodate a 21st century fashion and fad will help no one

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I was talking more generally about the church's capacity to increase people's pain ... do you not know of people who have felt the church has swallowed them, chewed them up and spat them out?

There are whole ministries devoted to "ex church" and "post church" believers!

Andrei said...

"I was talking more generally about the church's capacity to increase people's pain"

Mark 10:17-22

How did the rich young man feel?

There was something that stood between him and the Lord. The Lord suggested he divest himself of that barrier and he could not.

The bible tells us "he went away sorrowful"

You might also care to read "The parable of the sower"

I know people who have retained their Faith in face of the vicissitudes of life and I know people who have cursed God for what life has thrown at them

Has the Church let anybody down - no

Have people within the Church let other people down, unfortunately yes

God's laws which are few and simple to understand are not arbitrary, they actually exist for our own good both in this world and the next and if you think about it you will realize this is so

Father Ron Smith said...

"It has been said, and no doubt still is, that speaking of people as sinners (in general, not this issue in particular) may well lead to serious consequences for self esteem etc. And I have no doubt, when it is done in a certain way, it can. And when it is heard from a certain state of mind, it can. But we don't, and can't, stop calling people sinners. What we do do is call people sinners who are loved more wonderfully than they ever knew, yet their sin is so massive that Christ had to die to deal with it. We maintain the big-ness of the sin, and the bigger-ness of God's love - without having to reframe the whole notion of sin. " - Chris Spark -

" But we don't, and can't, stop calling people sinners."

This, Chris, is the part of your statement here that Jesus seemed to be critical of in his story of the Pharisee and the Publican: "Thank God I'm not like this sinner here" - quite forgetting that his own 'righteousness' was not accounted by Jesus as rewarding the Pharisee with justification ("Which of these, do you think", said Jesus, "went away justified?").

This is one of the problems I have with (some) conservative Evangelicals; who seem to delight in calling other people's sins to mind, forgetting that they too are sinners, in equal need of redemption.

I suppose this is the basic meaning of Jesus' warning: "I came to call, not the 'Righteous', but Sinners to repentance".

I reckon Pope Francis had the right attitude - when asked about the culpability of homosexual people, his answer was: "Who am I to judge?"

It seems that the biggest problem Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees was their tendency to judge other people while yet being imperfect themselves. This makes sense of the 'Log and Plank' parable.

The Christian Gospel is 'Good news to the poor' - those who know their need of God. It would seem some Christians don't feel they have that need. They have already 'made it', and are entitled to point out the sins of others.

Rosemary Behan said...

I feel really inadequate right now Peter. I would like to address only one paragraph of your response to me ..

“We have a proposal before us which I argue leans over backwards towards conservative concerns. But it does require a small (but not insignificant) degree of compromise on the part of conservatives. If the proposal is rejected by conservatives AND conservatives leave then conservatives will be leaving a church which made a significant attempt to avoid that departure.”

That small but significant compromise is asking that we deny Jesus, we cannot do it.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
It is me who is now feeling inadequate!
In what particular way is the proposal denying Jesus?
(We all understand here, I hope, that those supporting SSB are doing so because they think to deny them would be, also, to deny Jesus?)

Father Ron Smith said...

There are only 2 ways to look st this business od Redemption by Christ.

(1) They need it and its my job to tell them so, or


(2) I need it, just the same as these others sinners. I will not judge them without judging myself. We all need God's love and forgiveness. They are not alone.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

There is a third option to Ron's blog at 10.45PM. It is,"I need it {Christ's forgiveness and redemption}, the same as these other sinners.I will not judge them WHILE I JUDGE MYSELF."

There are two errors which the Church can fall into;[A]GRACELESS TRUTH and [B] TRUTHLESS GRACE.Both are committed when we speak words beyond those which the Holy Spirit has given us to speak.

Sadly,this whole debacle has been full of these errors.Both sides have "talked past the other" and only justified themselves in their own minds. The TRUTH has got buried far beneath how we can bend the compromise to "our cause".

We all march on under the banner of "Onward Christian soldiers,as to war"; blind to Who is the HEAD of the CHURCH and to whom it belongs or even in fact, what Her true mission is.

Peter,it is truly time for General Synod to stop and have a cup of tea. While they doing so; the Bishops could reread their "ORDINATION VOWS",the Constitution,the Scriptures and the 39 Articles including the HOMILY on MARRIAGE.They might come to understand the difference between the COE and the ACANZP, the former being an Establishment Church, to which every citizen of England belongs and the latter being a Church, formed under a LEGAL: CONSTITUTION. The former being a 'BROAD CHURCH" to accommodate all Englishmen and the being required to adhere to Her Constitution.If you wish for a broad Church,go to England; but don't take the furniture and pensions with you,they belong the the DOCTRINE of the CONSTITUTION under which they been gained.



Peter Carrell said...

All noted, Glen.
Is it not the case that many members of the CofE wished it was not so broad?

Anonymous said...

I am not reading the ranting. I am eating delicious cherry ice cream made from the crop that the Lord gave us this year. And that is why I am so much happier than you are.

BW

Sam Anderson said...

All excellent points from you Glen. Thanks.

Father Ron Smith said...

The Thirty-nine Artifacts? Does each one of these still hold sway in our Church?

Peter Carrell said...

Not one shall be lost, Ron!

The constitution of our church (the one you are signed up to!) still counts the Thirty Nine Articles are among the formularies which explain the Doctrine of Christ.

I assume you continue to uphold the constitution of our church?

Glen Young said...



Hi Peter,

Sorry,but my last blog should have read.......{The former being a "BROAD CHURCH"to accommodate all Englishmen and the [latter] being required to adhere to Her Constitution.} The word "former" referring to the CofE
and "latter", of course referring to the ACANZP.

In his speech to the first General Synod of the Church in NZ.[8th March 1859],Bishop Selwyn explained that establishment of the Constitution had been"on the basis of mutual and voluntary compact".He continued,"No has to subscribe to it;no one has to belong.But if we choose to be members of this Province of the Anglican Church,we agree to the Constitution and what it declares to be foundational truths.If we reject those beliefs,we are free to find another Church which better suits our beliefs.We believe that the doctrine of marriage as explained in Book of Common Prayer,is part of that of that doctrine to which all who receive a Bishop's License pledge teir allegiance.We do not see how that allegiance is consistent with affirming views which are clearly contrary to that doctrine of marriage.If one party persistently and actively takes measures to walk away from that doctrine,we fail to see a way in which we can walk together".

Bishop Selwn's hand is of course writ large on that Constitution..It is a legal document.When our family gave land for a Anglican Church here in Auckland;the Deed of Gift states that it must be used top proclaim the Doctrine as defined in the Constitution.


Sam,thanks for your words.


Anonymous said...

Father Ron, are you concerned about Article XXIX on the *manducatio impiorum* or something else?

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Ah, now, Bowman. How could I possibly know whether - or not - a person was of 'lively Faith' when receiving the Blessed Sacrament? Herein lies just one of the many reasons as to the legal applicability of the Thirty Nine Artifacts - a matter of linguistic precision. Peace and All Good!

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh yes. Another thing, Bowman:

On the very day when we celebrate the Martyrdom of Tyndale, Translator of The Scriptures into the common tongue, you choose to address me in Latin?

Anonymous said...

Father Ron, you have often waved away the 39A, but I have never heard you say which of them you particularly dislike, so I guessed that as a eucharistic Lutheran you would prefer to affirm that the species convey the res so that the unworthy necessarily do indeed eat it with the teeth.

The official texts of the 39A are in both Latin and English. I have wondered whether XXIX was mainly addressed to the English or to the Continent.

Bowman Walton

Father Ron Smith said...

Bowman, you have not read me well. I am not a 'eucharistic Lutheran' - although I do feel in communion with Lutherans. I am a simple Anglo-Catholic - after the second reformation of the Church of England in the Oxford Movement.

Anyway, I am happy to be in full communion with those doughty Anglican Prelates who - at their just concluded meeting at Canterbury - have decided to walk together - irrespective of any pressure from 3 absent GAFCON Primates.

Perry Butler said...

The author of the questions on the Eucharist in the Prayer Book catechism ( was it Bishop Overall?) seems to have believed the species conveyed the res.

Perry Butler said...

Mundicatio impiorum was dropped in 1562 and revived in 1571.This was probably with an eye to Lutheran Germany but the Queen was a likely Eucharistic Lutheran of sorts, as was George Cares her chaplain who probably celebrated the mass ( sans elevation ) at her coronation.So was Edmund Guest likely author of article 28 with the important word "given"..and his enlightening letter to Burghley.Sadly as with so much of the documentation relating to the 1559-1562 Settlement is,as Rupp noted, full of holes.
But perhaps for now it might be better to concentrate on the fruits of the ecumenical convergence on the Eucharist esp in the various Anglican dialogues (and Lima)and less on Reformation controversy?

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Perry.
I am happy to bear in mind the lessons of the Reformation but not to wallow in them, ever open to new ecumenical futures!