Thursday, February 1, 2018

The importance and signficance of the General Synod vote in May [revised]

Our Diocese is in the midst of a series of pre Synod meetings, prior to our 3 March Synod to discuss (among other matters) the Final Report of the Working Group (see posts below). Then, in May, General Synod meets in New Plymouth to receive the report and to address its recommendations.

In the to-ing and fro-ing from one commission to another and from one General Synod to another, various proposals have been mooted and that has generated notions that whatever General Synod decides in 2018 there will then be a further round of diocesan synods and hui amorangi to discuss and vote on things, then GS 2020 considers further and then a year of appeal before anything ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

Not so.

Between a statement yesterday in a circular email to the Diocese and a Pre Synod Meeting tonight, we seem to be clear (unless you, Dear Commenter, say otherwise!) that in my own words:

(a) the recommendations of the Final Report, concerning new declarations by office-holders, bishops and clergy, require the "twice round" GS and local synod approval process (because related to the Constitution);

(b) the remaining recommendations to either amend existing canons or introduce new canons require a simple, single decision of the General Synod.

While there is some timing contradiction between my part (a) above and part (b) above, it is possible that by later this year same sex blessings could be offered in our church. 

Two observations may be important to digest for those for whom this clarity may be a surprise. (The second is thanks to a correspondent.)

(1) That we do not have anything as strong as a Formulary (requiring the "twice round" procedure) is (IMHO) the outcome of the WG listening to conservative voices (both at the last GS and subsequently). That is, the WG has taken on board conservative concerns and refrained from proposing a change (or added innovation) to our Formularies which would be a formal change to our doctrine. So, while conservatives may have desired a longer process of decision-making, the shorter process is due to the conservatism of what is being proposed.

(2) (Hypothesising that GS accepts the recommendations in toto) conservatives after May will have greater freedom to be conservative within our church than after a Formulary change. A Formulary change applies everywhere and to everyone (because Formularies are integral to the doctrine we say we believe when we accept (lay or clerical) office in the church). What is proposed requires bishops to make decisions which will be impactive on their episcopal units but not on others. A Diocese via its bishop, for example, could opt out of any SSBs being performed in that diocese. And, even where a Diocesan bishop does authorise SSBs, the formation of Christian Communities can ring fence a group of parishes off from SSBs taking place within those parishes, including ensuring succession of clerical leaders to continue such discipline.

60 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

" while conservatives may have desired a longer process of decision-making, the shorter process is due to the conservatism of what is being proposed.:
- Dr.Peter Carrell -

Now that all seems to be going the way of FOCANZ, is this going to be enough to prevent schism? Or, do they want more - like a proscriptive ban on Same-Sex Blessings? And how will this help the proclamation of the Gospel in ACANZP?

Father Ron Smith said...

" even where a Diocesan bishop does authorise SSBs, the formation of Christian Communities can ring fence a group of parishes off from SSBs taking place within those parishes, including ensuring succession of clerical leaders to continue such discipline." - Dr.Peter Carrell -

Sounds like an incipient threat to me - to the unity of parishes.

Whatever happened to intentional koinonia? Dead in the water?

Perry Butler said...

Fr Sullivan has a remarkable view of the effects on the population of a resolution of a Lambeth Conference!
Perry Butler

Jonathan said...

I am wondering what the process was for the decisions on remarriage after divorce and women's ordination? (Both where people (all of whom who interpret scripture so that one part doesn't contradict another) could come to differing conclusions.) This particular issue doesn't seem to be of lesser significance than these ones, whichever point of view one takes on the rightness or otherwise of the proposals.
I was also wondering if, for example, no South Island (or no North Island bishops) permit SSB's someone from Island X could argue before a civil court that there was a material disadvantage and therefore non-discrimination law may outweigh the religious freedom law. However, there are parallel Anglican dioceses already throughout ANZ so it may be that while a Hobbiton resident wishing for a Tikanga Pakeha service may have to cross the straight to find one, a Tikanga Maori service may, in fact, be available locally.
Jonathan.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
You are seeing the half-empty glass here (diminution of fellowship etc) whereas I am seeing the half-filled glass (we stay together but with constraints we ideally would prefer not to have).

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Jonathan
I am not sure exactly re the previous two "issues" though I believe the ordination of women did involve "twice round" change. I suspect remarriage after divorce was easier because for some years priests were able to remarry divorcees with the bishop's permission and thus (as I understand things) the major change towards today's situation is that the need for the bishop's permission was dropped (a canonical change only, I presume).

Excellent point re material circumstances divided by the Cook Strait! There are churches in various historic (museum-like) villages in the South Island (and, I presume, in the North Island). Perhaps they could be designated "free of episcopal control"?

Father Ron Smith said...

This all makes one wonder whether, given today's situation in Anglican Churches around the world, whether a contemporary Jesus would elect to attend a GAFCON or FOCANZ Meeting - for organisational purposes for the future Church

Peter Carrell said...

The difficulty, Ron, with wondering what a contemporary Jesus would do is that we owe it to Jesus to think about what he would have done in (say) 2008, 1998, 1988 etc. We could then propose that previously he would have done something which would mean we were not talking about GAFCON etc.

In our present situation, of course, everyone claims the contemporary Jesus for themselves: GAFCON is obedience to Jesus; respect for GLBTQi is what Jesus would give and abundantly; Jesus would refuse the eucharist to remarried divorcees; Jesus would not only bless same sex partnerships he would change water into wine at a same sex wedding; the hottest fires in hell are reserved for ... those who wrongly presume what the contemporary Jesus would do :)

Liturgy said...

Jonathan's question applies precisely to your "for some years" response, Peter.

Why was it so easy, after being one of the strongest denominations against this, for "priests to be able to remarry divorcees with the bishop's permission"?!!!

You miss Jonathan's parallel: what is being suggested is "priests being able to bless committed same-sex couples with the bishop's permission".

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I imagine it was "so easy" because as a whole, and in an undivided way, the church was ready for the change.
As far as I can tell as a whole, and certainly not in an undivided way, our church is not ready for the change.
I assume that difference is because (at risk of a brief comment over simplifying things) with divorce and remarriage, the church applied a theology of repentance, forgiveness and new start (a theology which already existed in the life of the church); whereas with same sex blessings (let alone same sex marriage) the church is being asked to accept a theology of sexuality (or, at least, to permit public expression of such theology on the part of some priests and parishioners) which it has not previously held, namely that gender is indeterminate of God's blessing on couples.
Perhaps one difficulty - highlighted in the present situation where we are moving to practice ahead of agreed theology - is that it is not possible to prove from Scripture that gender is indeterminate. To the extent that evidence bears on the matter, it comes from experience. I suspect the church as a whole would be in a different place if a positive Scriptural argument could be made to the satisfaction of the whole church.

(Please note: I am offering an explanation of the state the church is in rather than offering a re-start to yet another round of theological argument here on ADU!)

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, in your last argument, you seem to credit the Church with having discovered the problem of withholding its blessing from a second marriage for its eventual decision to allow this to happen; whereas, as everyone surely is aware; it was society that pressed the Church for change in its attitude towards marriage after divorce.

Precisely the same situation is applicable to the current push by society for Same-Sex Marriage to be accepted - by a strong majority. The question here is: will the Church respond as pastorally to this new situation or will it fail the test - thus reiterating its basic patriarchalism towards LGBTQI people

Father Ron Smith said...

" the hottest fires in hell are reserved for ... those who wrongly presume what the contemporary Jesus would do :)" - Dr.Peter Carrell -

This doesn't sound like the Gospel of OLJC, Peter!

Anonymous said...

"...it is not possible to prove from Scripture that gender is indeterminate. To the extent that evidence bears on the matter, it comes from experience."

Or: *socially (re-)constructing* gender to accord with a favourite intuition has a prudential headwind against it that merely *finding* realised gender, either in the creation or else in the tradition, does not. In a parallel universe, ACANZP's progressives have been content to ease the way for members in civil SSM and to keep the church up to date on what was and was not authoritatively known about SSA.

Horses do not fly, and carts are never before them. It is seldom surprising that a revolution fails, for human change is almost necessarily incremental and sequential. If ACANZP does not yet have a resolution welcoming civil SSM and regularising the status of those in that state, then why would anyone expect the church to have a blessing for it?

And radical proposals differ from the usual drift of policy in this-- insofar as they uproot everyone from the status quo, they necessarily clear the way for radical counter-proposals from the opposition. If progressives propose redefining marriage with flaky reports like AWF, then conservatives propose redefining Anglican ecclesiology with extraprovincial dioceses and flying bishops.

Indeed, very different and rather traditional futures have long been under tacit consideration. Those who swung the pendulum thinking that it can only arc to the left have been ambushed by this reality.

BW


Liturgy said...

I would try to dig deeper, Peter:
Why - as a whole, and in an undivided way, the church was ready for the change to marry divorcees contrary to Anglican practice over the centuries?

Your point: “I assume that difference is because (at risk of a brief comment over simplifying things) with divorce and remarriage, the church applied a theology of repentance, forgiveness and new start” – it does feel just that – an assumption. Where are the theological papers that undergirded the change? Did it focus on applying a theology of repentance, forgiveness and new start? Or is this simply a post factum making a silk purse out of what was actually a sow's ear?

“it is not possible to prove from Scripture that gender is indeterminate.” Well – that’s a strong one to bring into ACANZP debates. I have actually read the report that led to our being indeterminate about gender when it came to ordination and church leadership. I have taught Church, Ministry and Sacraments – and I wouldn’t give that paper a high grade. Yet again, as a whole, and in an undivided way, the church was ready for the change to be indeterminate about gender when it came to ordination and church leadership – contrary to the simple reading of the scriptures, lengthy church tradition, and, once again, contrary to Anglican practice over the centuries. And then there was removing gender from God in a NZ Prayer Book, even in translation of the Bible incorporated there…

No – there is something else at work which makes this particular minority about which as far as you can tell as a whole, and certainly not in an undivided way, our church is not ready to change.

With committed same-sex couples we could apply a theology of where there is love, God is present. I know that our Anglican Church officiated at the seventh wedding of an individual here where all previous partners were still living. I also know of faithful gay couples where one has cared for their partner through sickness, and poverty, and bad times, having and holding them till death parted them.

The former our church blesses and celebrates as imaging Christ, the latter it condemns as being unchaste.

Blessings

Bosco

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter and Bosco,

I have on previous occasions, stated that if the remarriage of divorced people is a problem, correct it; don't use it as justification of more wrong decisions. Males have a XY DNA and females,as XX; a small number of people have a mutation of this structure but that is accepted in Matt. 19.



Jonathan said...

The question I'm asking (and mainly asking myself) is which view on any number of controversial issues (past, present, or hypothetical) is most faithful to scripture, while following the usual "rules" of interpretation (one of which being interpreting scriptures so that one part doesn't contradict another):

(a) remarriage outside of the specific exceptions mentioned in scripture
(b) male headship in churches and marriages
(c) sex during menstruation, one of the detestable practices for which God removed the previous inhabitants of the promised land
(d) whether men and women should wear their hair in ways appropriate to their sex
(e) the permissability of soft forms slavery in times where there is no social security
(f) whether capital punishment is biblical, not biblical, or adiaphora
(g) whether some of the Old Testament commands were "accomodationism" to the circumstances of a particular culture and time rather than expressing some sort of positive morality for that particular culture and time, e.g.
the command to impregnate one's sister in law if one's brother died childless or
softer forms of punishment for sex abuse of slaves than for others

What interests me isn't so much what churches think on these (and whether we've got it right or should revise our current views though that's a logical follow-on) but how do they arrive at their (faithful-to-scripture) points of view on these, and what that process has to offer the current topic.

Jonathan.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Jonathan, Bosco, Ron, Glen
Thanks for recent comments which deserve greater engagement than I offer here.
So "alongside" your comments I am offering the observation that what interests me is whether the church is united in this or that interpretation-and-application-of-the-interpretation.
How it gets to that unity (e.g. Whether it acts consistently across a series of interpretations, or whether it makes as much effort to arrive at an interpretation compared to another) is of less interest to me.

Bryden Black said...

Bosco, Bowman, Glen.

Interestingly, our ACANZ&P does not need a primate in our present situation to determine the outcome (ref that other thread). So internally contradictory and self-conflicting is the nature of the proposals on the table (due to the poison chalice GS gave the WG; their hands were tied; we’ll close with this) that sadly the Head of the Church’s dictum is almost inevitable: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

What’s the difference this time? We are about to institutionalize such opposing options, predicated upon such conflicting premises, that Mk 3:24 will come to pass. Or, if one prefers, Bowman’s conclusion: “Indeed, very different and rather traditional futures have long been under tacit consideration. Those who swung the pendulum thinking that it can only arc to the left have been ambushed by this reality.”

True; some might like to continue to argue that such is Anglicanism’s supposed character that it may accommodate yet one more opposing pair of notions (ref PC’s list, including e.g. Just War vs. Pacifism, together with Bosco’s constant ref to “divorce” - to which we’ll come shortly). Yet as we evaluate more carefully these supposed polarities, their deemed commonalties begin to disappear and they are seen for what they are - incommensurate.

To conclude with that “poison chalice”. I agree with the diagnosis of “flakiness” (BW), and with the utter lack of solid theological work that might “undergird ... change” (BP). Yet, with GY, two wrongs do not make a right - let alone the lack of genuine theology! Yet I do continue to wonder Bosco what “grade” you might wish to assign the CoE’s own Winchester Report of 2002 re divorce. Because our own WG’s brief was to exclude explicitly diverse theological concerns, they had to smuggle in some form of ecclesiology nonetheless. Just so, Kenneth Lock’s The Church in Anglican Theology: A Historical, Theological and Ecumenical Exploration (Routledge, 2016). And when one digests his ‘reading’ of our current AC situation overall, then (to reference once again that other thread) issues of primacy and/or conciliarity necessarily rear their heads, let alone theological method ... The blatant irreconcilability of the two opposing stances - whatever 'side' one happens to be on, or not on - establishes an ideology within our organization that makes avoiding digging more deeply a serious sin of omission. And institutional sin can only go one way - exile. Kyrie eleison ...!

Glen Young said...


Hi Bryden,

Ah! that seductive lure of the sweet poison of the false infinite.
"He had eaten his share of the dinner,but he had not really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight-and there is nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food". C.S.Lewis.The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "Edmund had made for himself a god,and it will finally destroy all true pleasures.Not only that; it makes him a traitor. He sneaks off in an attempt to betray his brother and sisters - simply to gain more Turkish Delight". Prof. Gilbert Meilander -The Social and Ethical thoughts of C.S.Lewis.

Glen Young said...


Hi Bryden, Cont.

"Give us this day our daily Bread"

"But can you put some very special spread on it; as many of us do like Turkish Delights??"

Bryden Black said...

I'm aware of both the original and its commentator.
Deliciously presented! Thank you Glen.

Glen Young said...


Hi Bryden, cont.

Even more to the point, it was to cost Aslom,his life. It is our Turkish Delights which continue to crucify Christ anew.Is General Synod going to say: "here are boxes and boxes of Turkish Delights, eat all you want".

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Glen and Bryden
Without comment on the substantive part of your comment - I have limited ability to engage at the moment - I will not publish further comments along the Turkish Delights line you are both taking. Whatever GS is doing it is not intending to re crucify Christ. It is trying to find a way forward for two differing, if not on your argument, opposing schools of thought about how we CARE for a group brothers and sisters in Christ who are UNABLE TO MARRY in the way that I understand you both, and myself, to have enjoyed, with nary a care in the world about whether we were damaging constitutions, diminishing theological commitments, let alone crucifying Christ.

I am using CAPS re some important words because your confectionary and culinary analogies, frankly, do not convey any understanding of what it means to care for gay and lesbian Christians, nor any appreciation of what it might be like to have sexual desire without the blessed means of fulfilling. You are both, on past commenting form, more than able to show such understanding and appreciation and I ask you to return to that form and desist from the present analogies. Thank you.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, with all due respect to you; I do not see how continuing to feature derogatory remarks about ACANZP from Glen on your blog - when he has admitted he is no longer an Anglican in ACANZP - is at all helpful to anyone logging in here. If he is going to continue to feature here than I, who am a member of the Church he is defaming, will cease to engage with ADU.

Glen's constant sniping about ACANZP's moral veracity has no place on any blog electing to represent the teaching mission of our Church

Father Ron Smith said...

" If ACANZP does not yet have a resolution welcoming civil SSM and regularising the status of those in that state, then why would anyone expect the church to have a blessing for it? " - B.W. -

In reply; One might ask: "Does ACANZP have an actual 'resolution welcoming remarriage after divorce'? And yet ACANZP conducts such re-marriages!

In a similar vein, regarding Bosco's comment here:

"... there is something else at work which makes this particular minority about which as far as you can tell as a whole, and certainly not in an undivided way, our church is not ready to change."

It has become obvious that - in the light of B.W.'s comment - ACANZP's action affirmatively allowing re-marriage after divorce has NOT required any constitutional affirmation of such an arrangement.

Therefore; why should the Blessing of a Same-Sex Marriage REQUIRE Bowman Walter's "resolution welcoming civil SSM and regularising the status of those in that state" prior to such a Blessing taking place in our Church?

Is the Blessing of a Second Marriage after Divorce more holy than Blessing a Same-Sex Marriage legalised by the State. This is a serious moral question.

Steve McNabb said...

Peter
A I have number of questions:
Do you think that for the last 10-20 years we have been arguing about how we care for people? Or that 'care' is is the main problem that people both sides of the spectrum have with the 29 report?
Many people have fought very hard for the changes that have lead to the WFR and 29 report. Do you believe they be willing to let this be the end of it?
Thanks
Steve

Glen Young said...


hi Peter,

From the very beginning of this issue, I was prepared to work through the question in a rational and logical manner.I had been part of writing hundreds of pages of "Best Practice" in Mental Health. I still totally believe that it is necessary to develop "proper Pastoral Care" for everybody in the Church. However, it quickly became apparent, that the gays were not seeking good pastoral care to work through issues in their lives;but confirmation that the gay lifestyle was God ordained and not an impediment to Ordination.

The Working Group Report turns the Church on its head, and under a number of Bishops; the conservatives, who believe what the Constitution stands for, will become strangers in their own land. Do you have any understanding of what it means, to have believed in the Doctrine of the Church for years and tried to seek Christ; to become some one who can seek the permission of a liberal Bishop to establish a "Community of Faith" based on the very legitimate and legal Doctrine of the Church.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
My sense is that Anglicans otherwise considering themselves "conservative" divide into two camps on the matter of whether the WG proposal turns us into strangers in our own church.
I absolutely get it that some conservatives, including yourself, feel it will turn them into strangers in their own church.
Do you get it that there are other conservatives who do not think the proposal will do that?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
My remark above re "care" is specific to some language used in comments above which I find lacking a sense of caring for people.
My remark is not about whether generally and on most occasions members of our church, when engaging these matters, from any perspective have not done so as caring Anglicans.

Your second question is an important question (e.g. Because it expresses a concern which I think is widely shared by conservative members of our church). Not having done a full survey of the church (and I don't think anyone else has done tha!) I cannot give a definitive answer. What I have experienced, for sure, is some progressive stridency which has clearly stated that the proposal is not the end of the matter, that only full "equal marriage" will do. But that stridency has to be evaluated against the slowness of our church to get to this point. Thus my counter question is whether our church will show any interest in a new engagement with these exhausting matters?

Of course, Steve, every conservative who loves ACANZP weakens resolve to make the proposal the end of the matter!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Your first, recent comment: no one needs to be a member of ACANZP to comment here. I am not averse to derogatory comments about our church because that tells readers here that not everyone thinks everything is sunshine and roses. However I do, as you know, try to keep ad hominem comments in control. What concerned me above is that criticism of our church (fine) was spilling over into denigration of gay and lesbian members of our church (not fine). It is the latter that I am trying to "head off at the pass" rather than the former.

Your second, recent comment: excellent question at the end.

Steve McNabb said...

Thanks for your reply. Several times you have seemed to suggest that this issue is just about pastoral care of those who cannot marry. I do not think this does justice to the complex issues swirling around our church.
I agree with you that many people in our church (I would say not just conservatives) do not believe that this will be the end of the matter. I think that it would also be mistake to under estimate the distrust that many people have towards the structures within our church. Both at a diocesan level and over all at a national level.
There seems to be very little good will around and that may see the 29 report struggle to get support.
Steve

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Steve
Just before your comment I read an update on the Brexit situation ... both are complex!
However, although Brexit is complex as a series of interwoven issues, I do not doubt that Brexit (albeit a soft rather than a hard Brexit) will get across the line.
While it may be that the next few months will prove your last line truer than what I am about to say, I will say it anyway: I think the WG proposal will get across the line. I think that, not least, because it seems very clear to me that GS wants to get something across the line rather than commit to another working group.

Liturgy said...

I am not as excited by the Winchester Report as Bryden might be. At least it is fair when it states:

"We are aware that a significant number within the Church of England hold the ‘indissolubilist’ view [that every Christian marriage persists in being until the death of one partner, irrespective of separation or divorce], and that it can claim with some justice to represent the traditional view of the Church of England."

It is quite na├»ve when it concludes, “a further marriage after divorce is an exceptional act”.

And the Winchester Report is all is a bit of a delusion in any case. The Church of England, being the established church, has anyone able to be married in Church of England parishes who have a qualifying connection. So, divorcees marry in Church of England parish churches, as does anyone who likes the pretty building, or whatever other reasons people have for marrying in church buildings.... If the parish priest won’t in conscience take the wedding s/he must get another priest who will.

All this is hardly the model for New Zealand’s discussions.

Blessings

Bosco

Steve McNabb said...

Hi Peter
Like you I think that Motion 29 could be voted in at GS. I am less sure it will hold the church together due to the issues I raised.
Thanks
Steve

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Father Ron, my 4:06 seconding Peter responding to Bosco was not clear about the obvious priority of theological consideration of civil SSM to reasoned consideration of church SSB for civil SSM.

Put tersely and unsubtly for the sake of time, Bosco had asked why That Topic has been so much harder than he had expected it to be, Peter had answered that SSB seemed to require a belief in gender fluidity that is not provable from scripture, and so I further answered that, because official discussion had skipped theological consideration of civil SSM, it then stumbled on church SSB of civil SSM.

Those who propose SSB do not yet see that this *railroading* of a complex matter was and still is a serious blunder. At least procedurally, it forced proponents to hard sell conformity to the dictates of parliament with, well, a three line whip, whilst it forced opponents to uphold the liberty of conscience and of the Church in increasingly radical ways apart from ACANZP. Those who oppose SSB have made the most of their good luck, and not all those who favour it have learned the wisdom of humility.

Which answers Bosco's reasonable question without insinuations that people disagree with SSB proponents mainly because they are bad people or bad Christians. There are no moral superiors in this debate, and both of the main sides have shown some wisdom and much folly. Those who blame others for their own failure to persuade them are merely disempowering themselves. We agree, I'm sure, that it is better to learn from experience-- both one's own and others'-- than to complain about it.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

Again, as fallible on That Topic as anyone else, I have decided--

(a) Civil SSM-- yes. It is a policy that has mixed consequences as all policies do. But it provides a framework for limiting and occasionally even healing sexual sin. It is not a recommendation for SSA. It removes several grievous social injustice that enemies of God would otherwise blame on the gospel. Theologically, a demand that the morals of the state be precisely those of the Body of Christ absurdly assumes that Christ's millennial rule has begun and that the secular states we know are its instruments. In the wider society, Christians should support pairbonding over promiscuity and polygamy, whilst recognising that disciples are called to a practise and meaning that is higher than secular ideals.

(b) *Solemnisation* of MWM-- no. The old rite of the medieval Church has long been otiose. It duplicates a state function and implicitly undermines the civil ceremonies, including civil SSM. Marriage is a state of life, not a sacrament, and rites for it should be pastoral rather than procedural in character.

(c) Solemnisation for the divorced-- no. Given that the rite is otiose, it is hard to see the point in authorising it for the divorced.

(d) New rite for MWM-- yes. Pastoral rites are tailored to fit a spiritual need of individual disciples being transformed in Christ. A fresh pastoral rite wholly dedicated to the higher-than-secular practise and theological meaning of MWM in Christ should be tested. Here, I take it for granted that a theological meaning will be well rooted in such scriptures as 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5, Revelations 21.

(e) Intervention for those remarried after divorce-- yes. Speaking hypothetically, pastoral experience of disciples in this situation could warrant some intervention that is not derived from solemnisation, is not a simulacrum of MWM, is wholly dedicated to some higher-than-secular practise and scriptural meaning, and is tailored to fit a spiritual need of individual disciples being transformed in Christ according to scripture. It may or may not take a ritual form.

(f) Church SSB-- no. Again, pastoral rites are tailored to fit a spiritual need of individual disciples being transformed in Christ according to scripture. The parity with solemnisation sought in SSB is a worldly, derivative, and even decadent concept, not a tailored provision for a well-defined spiritual need (see above). Meanwhile, robust support for civil SSM, and of course for celibacy, entirely fulfills a church's duty to its members with SSA.

(g) Intervention for SSM-- maybe. Similar to (e).

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Steve
I do not doubt that if the WG proposal goes ahead then we will lose some members of our church. I also do not doubt that if we do not pass the proposal we will lose some members of our church. (No one has a count of the people we have lost or who will not darken our doors because of our, to date, refusal to change!)

My hope, well founded or not, is that the proposal will hold us together as best as possible in the present situation.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bowman
Thank you for your insight which, for me at any rate, explains well why this debate is "difficult" and not because of moral superiority or inferiority on the part of participants.

One observation to connect with your critique of age old confusion of state agency and ritual intention on the part of the church in marriage: on first reading of the proposal I had not recognised that the recommendation re a service of blessing is gender neutral. That is, what is recommended would lead not only to SSB being permitted in a diocese but also to blessing of any (committed etc) relationship. Early criticism I am picking up is that this could lead to vicars blessing the youth group leader and her boyfriend's (sexual) relationship in order to makes things sort of alright on the "chaste" front, short of full marriage. (Usefully, and non controversially, this also opens the pathway to a service for blessing a marriage contracted overseas but for which a local blessing is sought so that aged grandparents can feel part of the proceedings - currently clergy doing such blessings take one of our marriage services and change a word here or there.)

Without attempting to offer a solution to the criticism arising about this gender neutrality re the proposed blessing service, it struck me as I read what you wrote that there is some potentiality in this recommendation for the church to move away from state agency ...

Anonymous said...

Peter, you have touched the heart of our missing theological consideration of civil SSM-- (a) is *state agency* still tenable, and if not, (b) how should the Body of Christ respond to pairbonding?

On (a), I defend a robust *no*. As a cultural minority, Christians are threatened with cultural appropriation and scapegoating. It is imperative that the Body at all times speak for Christ alone. To do that, it must normally set aside vestiges of the old establishment. The controversy over the fate of your broken cathedral has been an interesting window on the dilemmas of churches that need to sing a new song, but are always expected to sing their captors the old songs of far away Zion.

On (b), I propose that the convert-led growth of churches be supported with pastoral interventions that are, not pro forma feel-good quasi-sacraments, but applications of the Word to the stuff that shapes lives.

As you have seen from time to time, these two positions put me in friendly opposition to both of the usual two sides of That Topic.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, having just read Dave Clancy's imaginative article on his FCANZ colleagues' hopes for immunisation against S/S Blessings in ACANZP; I think his suggestion here (noted below) could well be accomplished by making the Diocese of Nelson (and its bishop) the protection agency he requires. This would leave the rest of us to pursue the Inclusive Gospel as we interpret it.

This would maintain FCANZ' intimate connection with its GAFCON sponsors:

"An Extra-Provincial Diocese would be the best way for the Provincial church to give expression to this reality." - Dave Clancy, FCANZ

Bryden Black said...

Well Bowman and Peter; an area of agreement is emerging - perhaps. Let the State be the state and the Church the church, in this post Christendom era especially. A course I've already pursued myself ... Of course, for Anglicans with an Establishment hang-over that could be tricky. But not for TEC, who made the breach centuries ago ;) Many a country in Europe likewise has stopped doing the State's business; ACANZ&P should adopt that wisdom.

Thereafter, I'll have to demur - for two reasons. The first is basic biology: form + function. And despite loads of supposed erudition, most have forgotten this simple fact. Theologically, it implies a characteristic dualism, despite an Incarnational Faith. But many enjoy gnostic views nowadays anyway.
Secondly, given the dominant ethos of contemporary culture to be any and all 'opinions' are deemed 'equal', it's little wonder there's been a general "failure to persuade". Each thinks and "does what's good in their own eyes" (Judges 21:25). And until the Church wakens from this Deuteronomic "forgetfulness" and "comes to its senses" (Lk 15) - eh bien; adieu!

Liturgy said...

I wonder, Peter, if your optimism will be vindicated – the WG proposal be passed and a few leave without fuss; and all that happens is there is some muttering from time to time and the occasional annoyed comment on a blogsite.

Other scenarios, it seems to me, are quite possible – connected to what you see as my (but not your) interest in the energy available for this.

Peter, you are mistaken that the WG proposal “makes things sort of alright on the ‘chaste’ front” – quite the opposite. The Report is explicit that there is no change in the Church’s understanding and requirement of ‘chastity’ of those holding a bishop’s licence. The Human Rights Review Tribunal Decision was that in our Church ‘chastity’ for a licensed person means “any candidate not in a marriage between a man and a woman must be celibate” (page 2).

FCANZ’s submission to the WG already specifically mentioned a high-profile Anglican priest who is in a marriage not between a man and a woman. Those unaccepting of the WG proposal might begin a series of cases against such persons and against their licensing bishops. Let me underscore how wide this could go: principals in Anglican schools, as just one example, are licensed by the bishop. Any principal in an Anglican school, hence, “not in a marriage between a man and a woman must be celibate”.

As to scenarios around those leaving. Post-quakes Christchurch is an excellent example of confusion around property and money (let’s leave to one side your own post about confusion simply around three different understandings, by people closest to the proposal, of how the proposal proceeds). It is to be noted that the Church lost in the courts – the Church’s understanding of ownership and money was ruled to be incorrect (and they were rules we had written ourselves!) We are talking about a court decision involving millions of dollars.

Those leaving may do so and not attempt to take a penny or plant with them – but let’s not imagine that is the only possible future storyline. Comments on this site indicate that some see those who would implement the WG proposal would actually be the ones who are leaving.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

Province by province, Bryden, something like the R2K from Escondido* probably is forcing itself on Anglicans everywhere. And not only because of civil SSM. Will the next Lambeth Conference will take up the Establishment hangover?

The Orthodox rite for second weddings fits my (e) above.

Some of my friends can pay no higher compliment to something than to say that it-- a product, a technology, a style-- is *disruptive*. The deep problem behind the errors you mention-- biological and idiosyncratic-- is that the technological triumphalism in which the rising generation's *digital natives* live has eroded belief in the first article of the creeds. Where everything is a system to be worked for advantage, the back-to-nature thinking of Romans 1 and reliance on tradition and consensus seem like willful stupidity. And feminist rage against the past gives to that hauteur the frisson of a moral imperative, which we enjoy more the fewer hard morals we actually have. The way back from Patriphobia to the faith will be a long and winding one.

* As Bryden knows, R2K is the shorthand for Radical Two Kingdoms theory, a Reformed appropriation of the more often Lutheran view that civil rulers are mandated by Christ to do things to constrain civil and social evil that are beyond what is normally permitted to a Christian or tolerated in a church. R2K appears to have first circulated at Westminster Theological Seminary, Escondido, California as an analysis of American judges citing the *equal protection of the laws* to order states to certify SSM.

BW

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,

"Those leaving may do and not attempt to take a penny or plant with them " Bosco @ Feb 6th 1.38 PM.

This is the case, with our family, who gave land for Church buildings on the condition it was used according to the Constitution, {we have a copy of the Deed of Gift}. We are prepared to walk away simply because we accept that in dealing with the leadership of the ACANZP,we are not dealing with people of integrity.

Anonymous said...

"My hope, well founded or not, is that the proposal will hold us together as best as possible in the present situation."

Your hope is well founded if the proposal makes it easier for winners and losers alike to believe in the God-given stability of ACANZP's consensus and practise. But majoritarian processes rarely produce that outcome, and we can already see the damage done in rushing to debate SSB before the church was of one mind about SSM. The damage is the anomie described by Emile Durkheim.

My teacher, John Hostetler, once investigated the suicide by hanging of an Amish bishop, a man of such inspiring faith that three dioceses that disagreed on many other things had submitted to his rule. In their system, the people confer, and their ministers advise, but bishops decide. Through all the controversies that he decided, he could not lose, and never did lose, a battle. But he still succumbed to Durkheimian anomie, losing his faith that the will being done in his work was God's will and that his life therefore had meaning enough to balance its loneliness and pain. What Hostetler emphasised to me was that, although partisans in religious controversies think that they can avoid anomie if their side wins, this is a delusion. Although our *affective forecasting* (Daniel Gilbert) does not predict it, our winning from mere political advantage is nearly as demoralising in a religious matter as losing. The joy of vindication fades; the anomie of letting mere politics determine the deep meaning of one's life remains.

Anglicans who lose their faith that eg ACANZP does God's will are unlikely to commit suicide (although data show that Episcopalians here do so more often than nearby Catholics, Jews, or Evangelicals). Many cultivate a certain worldliness, cynicism, or fideism against precisely the risk that faith may disappear and life's meaning along with it. And if they are bound to live by the results of a political process, they know that they cannot afford to be too attached to any single proposal and must be philosophical about the occasional vote. But all of these weeds-- worldliness, cynicism, fideism, detachment, rationalising-- strangle the seeds of the Word. Insofar as high stakes negotiations and majoritarian voting seem to changing the content of lived faith, it is harder for individuals to live it with felt integrity.

The evangelical proposition to Anglicans-- which irritates or infuriates some here-- is that those who instead use scripture and prayer to keep head and heart together can uproot these weeds so that the Holy Spirit can regenerate life in Christ. To that, we might add a catholic proposition that there is no salvation without a life in the Body that ignores ephemeral majorities and their opinions and seeks only its slowly crystalising unity. If a proposal like ACANZP's can be seen by most Anglicans down under as enabling these things to be done in good faith, then it may work. Otherwise it will close churches.

BW

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for recent comments, One and All!
Rather than engage with various points (well made, but not all agreeing with each other :),) - short of time - I simply acknowledge them all and acknowledge that there are many difficulties herein, and more than I have ever thought of ...

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Thanks for your comment.
To clarify and I hope answer your underlying questions.
I am very comfortable with Bowman (and others who do not belong to our church) who speak here about our situation and thus, sometimes, about specifics of our church's life.
Although it is "our" situation it is good to be made to think about it, to consider the theology which we may not be doing when we should, and to ponder the theological ramifications of where we might end up.
Bowman's U.K. Milieu, by the way, is the centrist evangelical site Fulcrum.
Social media has no walls!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter et al, for a very interesting thread. New ground was covered every day; all the usual suspects made searching comments; Bosco, Jonathan, and Steve stirred and seasoned the pot.

For me, the thread has uncovered two very interesting questions.

(1) Does ACANZP serve a truly post-Constantinian society or not? And does one's answer to that question predict one's response to SSB? To the ecclesiology of the proposal? I am not sure how Peter, Glen, Jonathan, or Steve would answer. But Bryden and I agree that the culture has decisively broken with its Christian past (post-modernity), and both of us draw strong inferences from that present reality to our respective views on how churches like ACANZP should respond to civil SSM, and how they should re-organise in their new minority situation. I have, additionally, taken on board Peter's concern about the plummeting membership of Anglican churches in the rich societies that are the most aggressively secular.

In contrast, Bosco and Father Ron emphasise the continuity of their present society with that of the middle of the last century (late modernity). They see change around them, I'm sure, but it is change of a harmless kind that they think that they have seen before. They propose a familiar adaptation to contemporary mores (ie one like the acceptance of divorce) but do not worry that it was one thing to adapt practise a bit to an evolving Christian society but would be a very different thing to remodel it on an aggressively secularising theory and practise.

The proposed communities and alternate bishops are an interesting point of comparison. I myself suspect that any future historian of ACANZP will see the ecclesial ruptures proposed in the report as direct analogues of like ruptures in New Zealand society. If the society is not at all divided, then why would the Body of Christ suddenly find itself resisting mitosis? Minds in our culture are not moving synchronously from old-fashioned modernity to its post- and late- successors. Consciously or not, religious bodies will either bridge, split along or make accommodation for the difference. The issues that jolt people and churches into jumping one way or the other are epiphenomenal.

Because I see that ACANZP needs convert-led growth, that integrity in lived practise is critical to that, and that communal accomodations can support that integrity better than schemes of individual liberty, I am inclined to favour the proposal, which I view as evenhanded. But to it, Bosco and Father Ron are raising all the objections that I myself would have raised if this discussion were happening in 1968. What I see as re-organisation with a strong historical momentum they see as excessive accommodation of people too backwards for SSB that should really be, not communal, but individual. What intrigues-- well, worries-- me is that they see no potential for their own sort of ministry to flourish in a community of its own. Eventually, they will see that they too need convert-led growth, integral practise, and supportive community.

But ironically, those we call *conservatives* have long been waiting for a chance to reorganise for the coming future and now seem only to debate which plan they want, whilst those we call *progressives* seem to me to be living in the past, determined to see a vague pastoral change for 3% of the population as a bold strategy for the Christian future. But then that reflects my post- bias about their late- viewpoint. If one reads the present thread as a whole, it is mainly a debate over what time it is.

Anonymous said...

Cont'd

(2) How should churches respond to imperfect pairbonding, and is that response a ritual one? Comparing a church's responses to divorce and SSM mainly shows the difference between one made in a culture with a Christian veneer and another made when books by New Atheists were best sellers. In the new conditions, incremental muddling is much less tolerable, whatever the matter at hand. Mindless application of the *equality meme*-- "We are blessing your deeply felt relationship, not because we should, but because you remind us of people we have already married seven times."-- is malpractise, of course. But the implied equivalence that Jonathan, Bosco, and Father Ron are making is interesting nonetheless: by definition, in a post-Christian society the great majority of relationships in which persons come to faith may well be formally imperfect ones. Some (eg Ross Douthat) would say that the bottom third of American society is already there. For that reason, thinking of these kinds of cases as members of a class could be fruitful, hamartiologically and pastorally. After reading their comments, along with Peter's comment on state agency, I have begun to think through churchly responses to the class as a whole. Again, my thanks to them and to all for several cogent observations.

BW

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, you said "Social media has no walls!"

However, the big bulwark that GAFCON/FOCA has erected is the called the "Jerusalem Declaration" - beyond which they do not see any vista of approach to God in Jesus Christ.

Also; 'Inclusive Church' has no walls - only bridges bearing God's Love!

"The great love of God is revealed in The Son!"

I wonder, Peter, if you have come across the publication 'New Daylight' issued by BRF? It is the basis of Diana's and my daily reflection. Today's reading from Luke 8:11-15 adds this comment from Editor, Sally Welch:

"What a surprise these words of Jesus (parable of 'The Seed') must have been to those first listeners. Here was a man who talked of the love of God, not of his judgement; of the nature of forgiveness, not the need for revenge; of the importance of peace, not the necessity of entering the battle. How delighted they must have felt as stories were told in a language they understood, using terms of reference from their own experience. To be valued, understood, given time and thoughtful attention - all this must have been refreshing and inspiring. Yet, we know how short a time elapsed before that same crowd reverted to old habits - calling for one to lead a rebellion, shouting and chanting for death, stirred up by each other into a frenzy of bloodlust.

"How difficult it is to change the attitude of a lifetime, to allow hardened hearts to soften. to receive the seeds of hope into one's soul and there nurture and encourage them...."

I see this counsel as being appropriate for all of us in ACANZP today. In the recollection of our own sin and waywardness - to never forget God's mercy towards us and, in the process, remember our need to be merciful to others - not judging but loving them in the way of Jesus. - Grace and Peace!

Liturgy said...

To be clear, Bowman, I find your comments on this site some of the most stimulating and positively extending of all my reading. But in the case of your summary of my position (I cannot speak for the others you mention), I fear that, on the one hand I may have expressed myself infelicitously, and, on the other, that you are inaccurately constructing a whole from such a tiny part (cf. issues with mereology).

I repudiate the categories “conservative” etc. and agree with you that we are tipping into a post-Constantinian context. One of my regular points is that the threshold from our post-Constantinian context into the community around Christ’s Kingdom is precisely that that threshold is being set too low. I would have long ago added my energy to the concept of (the Report’s) “Christian Communities” if they were about raising the threshold in terms of prayer, spiritual disciplines, ways of living in a society conscious of the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots… But it is distressing to me that our Church is considering initiating what it is calling “Christian Communities” (“Orders of Consecrated Life” no less!) around attitudes to homosexuality.

Those who call themselves “conservative”, in this instance, in practice often set the lowest thresholds – conforming themselves in imitation of secular music and other practices, often in such poor imitation that the secular world can end up with little interest in being part of the convert-led growth you dream of. And it is only in their attitudes to homosexuality that the Formularies and so forth are brought out.

So, far from a “mindless application of your *equality meme*”, my question is far more along the line of why are you “conservatives” inconsistent with regards to this one particular issue when along others you are (if anything) “progressive” (“revisionist”)?

As to how our country is along this Christendom-post-Christendom spectrum, it was noticeable that at our last diocesan synod meeting all except one dissenting voice voted to accept $35million from Government and Council to help restore our cathedral building. That says something both about state and church.

Blessings

Bosco

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,

For the sake of record, let me be clear that my objection to both the Ma Whea and The Working Party was that the question they asked to consider fell outside the Constitution. I had no desire what so ever to become embroiled in argument over the rights and wrongs of homosexuality; because from the start it would be a no win situation.

Perhaps, Bosco, your Synod just wants a cathedral at any cost.

Anonymous said...

"I repudiate the categories “conservative” etc. and agree with you that we are tipping into a post-Constantinian context. One of my regular points is that the threshold from our post-Constantinian context into the community around Christ’s Kingdom is precisely that that threshold is being set too low. I would have long ago added my energy to the concept of (the Report’s) “Christian Communities” if they were about raising the threshold in terms of prayer, spiritual disciplines, ways of living in a society conscious of the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots."

Yes, that does sound more like the voice we know from Liturgy. And a heartening sound that is! So in light of what you say, Bosco, let me cheerfully retract this straightaway--

"What intrigues-- well, worries-- me is that they see no potential for their own sort of ministry to flourish in a community of its own. Eventually, they will see that they too need convert-led growth, integral practise, and supportive community."

--and wish you godspeed in putting your energies into the community that you yourself see is urgently needed. Robust growth is convert-led; converts thrive on a clear and demanding practise; such practise needs a sponsoring theological community; such a community bears a witness that the Church and world need to hear. If That Topic had not inspired the organisation of *communities of practise* (I find that phrase clearer and less precious) then a serious attempt to reverse membership decline in ACANZP would have inspired them anyway. You know what needs to be done.

Now this--

"But it is distressing to me that our Church is considering initiating what it is calling “Christian Communities” (“Orders of Consecrated Life” no less!) around attitudes to homosexuality."

I agree that the appearance is odd. But rejecting SSB as the one and only pastoral response to civil SSM is not rejecting homosexuals. And for that matter, advocating SSB (eg in the terms of the AWF report) can be using them to effect far-reaching theological change that has nothing much to do with them. Anyway, the quarrel is as much about elites and pressure-groups as it is about a polarising policy. So what are we to make of the proposed *communities of practise*?

Reading the report, I envisaged those as the old constituencies of Anglican churchmanship that long ago on the scepter'd isle defined themselves as for and against candles and incense but now on the blessed isles will be better organised as organic communities within the church. Do you think that I was mistaken?

They presumably would make different sorts of room for homosexuals etc, at least at first. But despite that difference, it seems as odd to say that their core differences are about gay sex as it would have been to say that the core differences of those for and against *ritualism* were about beeswax or myrhh. And anyway, sensibilities beyond the heteronormal dyad are varied enough that homosexuals etc will be found on both sides of any fence one puts up. And any who seriously take up evangelism will be putting the cherished beliefs of their respective communities to the test. Who knows what delusions may be recognised at last and abandoned?

Thank you for kind words, Bosco, and for your fine work at Liturgy.

BW


Jonathan said...

Last night I read "Double Standards? A Latimer paper prepared by Rev Chris Spark, on divorce and remarriage in light of discussion on same sex relationships in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia."
It was a well-argued essay which expressed his view that the canons of our church would better reflect scripture if we stuck to remarrying those whose life situations are explicitly covered in these passages. It will be interesting to see reaction from other viewpoints; perhaps Chris anticipates this in his comment that he doesn't see these texts as altogether clear. Till recently I would have agreed with him that the texts on SS sexual activity, by contrast, are clear, but the question I'm thinking through (apart from considering specific arguments for SSM) is "how do we get from the texts to our views / practise" on a number of issues. With Chris, I agree that the insertion of a few clarifying words into the text would help - on a number of issues. And with him, I think the parallell between SSM and remarriage is imprecise (I can't think of an analogy between anything and SSM that isn't precise - and neither is scripture's parallel between marriage and the relationship between Jesus and the church precise.) A better parallel is that a prima facie reading of a set of texts might not be more faithful than a less prima facie reading. Jonathan.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Jonathan
It is precisely that nuance in reflection which you bring to (here, e.g.) Chris's paper which underlines a question I have in response to the paper: does the paper, with its sympathies to sensitive pastoral matters and its admittance of shortfall on the part of evangelicals provide sufficient grounds to contemplate evangelicals departing? I do not think it does ...

Anonymous said...

"...the question I'm thinking through (apart from considering specific arguments for SSM) is "how do we get from the texts to our views / practise" on a number of issues."

Jonathan, you may want to study the general approach of Richard Hays's Moral Vision of the New Testament. Like yourself, Hays asks about method-- HOW can we can apply the Bible to life in a WAY that is fully responsive both to the text and to our lived lives?

https://tinyurl.com/ya3otdeq

https://tinyurl.com/y72udhlt

My main reservation about the book (with which the author kindly agrees) is that, because the NT is Jesus's jazz improvised on the melody of the OT, a C21 Christian who means to be open to scripture must really immerse himself in the OT in a way that few do, and few can even help one to do. It was not just for old times' sake that catechumens in the ancient church were first taught, not Romans or St John or even Isaiah, but Genesis. Part of our impasse on That Topic is that too few discussing it are that well equipped.

Here are Hays's main proposals on method--

https://tinyurl.com/y83qtug7

And here is his chapter on homosexuality--

https://tinyurl.com/y6w75lhv

Thank you for your comments at ADU.

BW

Bryden Black said...

To assist that necessary reading exercise BW speaks of, folks (thanks Bowman and Jonathan):

https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Backwards-Figural-Christology-Fourfold/dp/1481302337/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518045513&sr=1-1&keywords=richard+hays+reading+backwards

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_9_12/143-3318488-3009307?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=richard+hays%2C+echoes+of+scripture+in+the+gospels&sprefix=richard+hays%2Cstripbooks%2C349&crid=1SG6GK03FPHT8

The difference: “Backwards” was originally a set of Lectures in 2013/14, while “Echoes” (2016) is a much fuller presentation.

“Moral Vision” delightfully cuts through many an experiential prejudice ... It’s ‘grid’ of “Community, Cross and New Creation” is powerful. And of course, it requires that very thing BW speaks of - Genesis!!! I.e. a theology of creation and so a Christian anthropology. But I am sounding like a cracked old vinyl record, no doubt ...

Enjoy!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Bowman and Bryden for your links - I look forward to parousal. BTW, my sentence should have read,"I can't think of an analogy between anything and SSM that is precise.." Jonathan.

Jonathan said...

Hi Bowman, your tinyurl link's don't work on my google search - any other details that would get me there? Jonathan.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, the whole book is well worth working through.

http://ibs.cru.org/files/6213/7229/9674/MVNT_combined.pdf

http://storage.cloversites.com/clover9/documents/Hays_Moral_Vision_Homosexuality.pdf

BW