From New Westminster: Don’t rush the Anglican Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To our minds this passage of the Windsor Report is not recommending a ten-month process; it is recommending something much more like a ten-year process.

Our present disagreements are deep; they are the result of not listening to one another for many decades. The most shocking allegation of the Windsor Report was that the Church in North America had sprung to its honoring of homosexual partnerships without having done the theological work to back it up.

But this work has been a central engagement of Anglican theology in North America for three if not four decades. The thing is that the rest of the church did not read that work; we did our theology but no one else bothered to read it.

Only in this way can the surprise of the rest of the Communion at Gene Robinson's consecration be explained; to us, at the time, it seemed a perfectly natural development. That is why our disagreements can only be resolved "in an educative context" - there are four decades of education to catch up on, and that cannot be accomplished in ten months.

Actually the most shocking thing is that the author is shocked to be charged with not having done the theological homework necessary. Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada

17 Comments
Posted February 28, 2008 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Grant LeMarquand wrote:

The hope hidden in the New West article, I think, is that the longer decisions are delayed, the more conservatives will become frustrated, leave, divide, splinter, etc—- if this is the strategy it appears to be working well.

Grant LeMarquand

February 28, 9:50 am | [comment link]
2. Bill in Ottawa wrote:

The thing is that the rest of the church did not read that work; we did our theology but no one else bothered to read it.

Actually, I’ve read quite a number of careful and polite rebuttals of the theology presented by the revisionists. I’ve read many more crude and sarcastic ones. What they all have in common is that they aver that the arguments presented by the revisionists are all experiential and cannot be supported from Scripture using classical principles of theological analysis. Some of the less polite critics have called the arguments puerile, sophomoric and self-serving.

Our worthy opponents should not be shocked. To successfully argue your point, you have to use the same principles of argumentation as your opponents. On our side of the argument, we have also been shocked because we don’t really understand the way our opponents fight. Therefore, we have been remarkably unsuccessful at changing minds, from both points of view.

I have been persuaded that the emotional calls for justice from the other side are a reaction to genuine injustice perpetrated on certain minorities. I have not been persuaded that their proposed solution to that injustice is supported in Scripture. I have, however, noted that greater efforts are now being made in our parish, and other places where the reasserters gather, to support and comfort single people in their struggles to live godly lives in a culture where celibacy is considered outré.

Let us all continue to pray for one another and allow God to do his redemptive work in our lives. My chiropractor has convinced me that I have a stiff neck - I pray that Jesus will convict me of that as well.

February 28, 10:21 am | [comment link]
3. Philip Bowers wrote:

we did our theology but no one else bothered to read it

I am trying to stop from laughing!

This guy is disingenuous.  The theological work is nonexistent.  This is all very tiring.  Let the liberal “christians” have the organization-TEC or ACC or whatever-and let the Christians begone.  I don’t know why these folk are so afraid of the covenant as it becomes clearer that what emerges will have no power to exclude.  TEC and Canada will sign on to whatever comes out and will continue to do exactly as they please without regard for the rest of the communion.  And there will be no discipline as the ABC has made abundantly clear over the past 5 years.  The revisionists have won the battle and have the institution pretty well sewn up, so they should quit crying and continue their mopping up operations by cleaning out the rest of the Christians from the North American branch of Anglicanism.  Those who actually believe that Christ is God incarnate who came to save us from our sin and all that other pre-modern nonsense need be looking for a place to land.  I’m sorry, do I sound jaded?, or cynical?  Sorry, I am actually quite full of hope as I do trust God’s providential will and action in the midst of this mess.  I do though get tired of the left wing crying.

February 28, 10:30 am | [comment link]
4. drummie wrote:

The revisionists just will not give up: “That is why our disagreements can only be resolved “in an educative context” - there are four decades of education to catch up on, and that cannot be accomplished in ten months.”  In other words, they are going to have to educate us poor ignorant Anglicans so we can reach the same conclusion as theirs.  Talking down at me is a certan way to not make progress.  Another thought that comes to mind is If it aint broke, don’t fix it.  The Bible, the trinity, and Jesus Christ need no repairs, they all work quite well.

February 28, 10:52 am | [comment link]
5. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#3…You’re reading us ‘revisionists’ from the lenses of a ‘reasserter’. You need to analyze (and critique) without prejudice, if possible, the major methodologies (constructionist, critical realist, critical rationalist, phenomenologist, etc, etc.), and read the immense amount of research (theological, psychological, sociological, patristic, etc.) that is available. There are good argument posed by each side in the debate. Then with modest ‘critical choice’ you need to decide (non-prejudicially) where you stand.

Now that would be a good read.

February 28, 11:05 am | [comment link]
6. Pb wrote:

This is more of our inability to communicate mantra. If they had done a better job, we would all see the error of our ways and embrace forty years of enlightenment. This is why we need to continue to dialogue. I am getting tired of this.

February 28, 11:05 am | [comment link]
7. j.m.c. wrote:

Reading this statement and also the site it points to (the link there is bad - should be to wideningcircle.wordpress.com, though I won’t link it) brings to mind the word “scoliodoxy” (googling, I find only one reference to this on the net - apparently DA at the University of Buffalo beat me to it in March 2001) - Bill in Ottowa’s remark on his chiropractor probably induced this thought.  I guess I think of scoliodoxy since heterodoxy usually implies falling outside a set of teachings.  Here the creeds are affirmed (somewhat), but the direction the teachings stated will take us requires quite a lot of convoluted turns to get where they want to go, and it is not only the lack of some teachings and adherence to others which signals a departure from orthodoxy - it is the denials during the hermeneutical journey, and the aspirations expressed in other teachings, which creates a winding, zig-zaggy path.

The group Widening Circle claims to be the voice of orthodox Anglicans, but seems to be a “Via Media” type group (they also use this word in one of their identity statements) for Canadians.

Note their statement on scripture - though claiming to recognize the authority of Scripture, they are “rejecting the notion that ... everything in Scripture should be translated into doctrine” - interesting phrase, “translated into doctrine,” as if there were some kind of code or cipher which we use to get from the one to the other - but since doctrine is church teaching, their statement seems to mean: “the church should teach some parts of Scripture, and not teach other parts.”

The name Widening Circle is also interesting - maybe even “prophetic” - it makes me think immediately of Yates’s “widening gyre” in his poem “The Second Coming” - “the falcon can no longer hear the falconer” - and this poem’s dark, chaotic and apocalyptic theme.  I wonder where they see themselves in this apocalyptic vision - indeed, as Yates says in this poem, “things fall apart.”

February 28, 12:23 pm | [comment link]
8. Harry Edmon wrote:

Virgil in Tacoma - I have read much that has been written by revisionists, trying to be as open minded as possible without compromising my faith.  Sorry, it does not pass muster.  It is wrong scientifically and theologically.  I’ve listened, and I’ve decided your side is wrong and the revisionists’ theology is dangerous and harmful to the Christian faith.

February 28, 1:24 pm | [comment link]
9. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#9…I’ve read much literature from both sides of the issue, also. Using the critical rationalist methodology I’ve tested both sides, and tentatively have concluded that the social progressives are correct (but often muddled and subjective in their views). Note the word ‘tentatively’. I take that word seriously, since I cannot reach a perfection of thought, I might indeed be in error.

February 28, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
10. William Witt wrote:

You’re reading us ‘revisionists’ from the lenses of a ‘reasserter’. You need to analyze (and critique) without prejudice, if possible, the major methodologies (constructionist, critical realist, critical rationalist, phenomenologist, etc, etc.), and read the immense amount of research (theological, psychological, sociological, patristic, etc.) that is available.

Sorry, Virgil.  My Ph.D. was printed on real parchment from a recognized University, and I was trained in the “major methodologies.”  I know something of the differences between “phenomenology” and “critical realism,” and neither will get you anywhere near the case the “reappraisers” have been trying to make.  It was precisely my application of the tools with which I was trained that led me to realize that there is no “there” “there.”  As I’m sure you know, the vast majority of critical biblical scholars, of whatever theological training, recognize that Scripture and Church tradition are absolutely clear and speak with one voice on this issue.  As for sociological and psychological research, what it shows is that there is no case (zilch, nada) for a biological origin for same-sex attraction, and that the proverbial exclusive life-long committed same-sex couple appears with the same frequency as hen’s teeth.

February 28, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
11. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#10…The purpose of my statement #5 was not to infer that people would come to the same conclusions that I did, but to just encourage them to look deeper. They actually may find a new theory (either methodological or theological) that may get us closer to the truth. The current theories on both side are suffering from critical pressures.

February 28, 2:28 pm | [comment link]
12. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#10…By the way, I wish there was a way to get you my e-mail without turning into a spam machine. I’d love to hear your methodological approach and how you conclude what you do.

February 28, 2:35 pm | [comment link]
13. William Witt wrote:

I can be reached through my email at TESM.  The key is first initial of first name (as in “W”), followed by last name (as in “Witt”), at tesm.edu.  Hopefully, that’s vague enough to fool the spambots.

February 28, 4:10 pm | [comment link]
14. Choir Stall wrote:

What’s the rush? It’s only been 60 years.

February 28, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
15. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

HOmework?  Writing your conclusion and putting you name on the paper really doesn’t count, New Westminster.  And that’s a pitiful showing for an alleged 40 years of dialogue, too.  Theology?  An anthropocentric foregone conclusion without reference to God (theos in Greek, guys, in case your World Book Encyclopedia has a reference and you can use it) is NOT theology.

February 29, 1:45 am | [comment link]
16. Kate S wrote:

We’ve read it.  We just don’t agree.  The revisionists don’t believe that we have actually listened unless we change our minds and agree with them.

February 29, 10:53 am | [comment link]
17. Kate S wrote:

What I find really annoying is the assumption that I simply need more “education”.  That sounds more like a communist re education camp than dialogue to me.

February 29, 10:54 am | [comment link]
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