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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Recognizing the division and brokenness which currently exists, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated in his August 2008 Pastoral Letter reflecting on Lambeth, "The Conference was not a time for making new laws or for binding decisions…The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships – the rebuilding of trust in one another – and of confidence in our Anglican identity. And it was with this in mind that they planned for a very different sort of Conference, determined to allow every bishop's voice to be heard…"
Unfortunately while ample opportunity was in fact given for bishops to speak during the daily Bible studies, Indaba Groups, self-select sessions, and plenary sessions, the western design of much of the Conference made speaking uncomfortable for many non-westerners and -- as earlier attested to by Archbishop Orombi, the fact that one speaks does not necessarily mean they have been heard. The Anglican Communion has been encouraged for over ten years now to participate in a "listening process" as a means of working through the issues that divide us. While I am a firm believer in the importance of listening, even to those that we disagree with, unfortunately when dealing as we currently are with what I have come to believe are theologically irreconcilable differences in the views passionately held by each side of the debate on issues of the authority of Holy Scripture and human sexuality, I seriously question the chance of reconciliation by those on either end of the theological spectrum, barring a Damascus Road experience by one side or the other. No doubt, each side believes it is the other side that Jesus needs to zap.
This belief was confirmed at Lambeth while listening to some of the debates regarding homosexuality. During one of the sessions, an African bishop made an impassioned call upon the West to restrain from blessing same-sex unions and ordaining individuals engaged in homosexual lifestyles, stating that the Moslem extremists in his country are looking for any reason to attack and kill Anglican Christians. He said the revisionist actions of the West are giving them all the reason they need, resulting in the death and imprisonment of many of his people. Equally passionate, but from the opposite perspective, two Episcopal bishops spoke about justice for their gay and lesbian clergy and people, proclaiming their strong unceasing support for gay rights and that they would not stop the blessing of same sex unions in their diocese.
Unfortunately in many cases, the very ones calling for others to listen are unwilling to listen themselves. For some, the listening process will not be complete or successful until the other side is worn down and finally agrees with their position. Given the current debate on issues of human sexuality, when virtually every argument both for and against homosexual behavior, sex outside of marriage, and abortion have already been made numerous times over, the question ultimately must be asked – When is enough, enough? The longer the debate goes on, the more divided we seem to become and the more distracted we are from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A major distinction between GAFCON and Lambeth concerning this issue is that for GAFCON, the debate seems to be over, for Lambeth, no end is in sight.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON 2008 Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
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