The Modern Churchpeople’s Union reply to Drs Williams’ and Wright’s response to TEC’s Actions
Williams and Wright both acknowledge that progress is not being made in the controversy over homosexuality, but blame TEC for this failure. Williams writes: 'a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces... The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour.'
Wright puts his case more bluntly and reveals his impatience: 'the Communion is indeed already broken... the breach has already occurred. We are not, then, looking now at TEC choosing for the first time to "walk apart", but at the recognition that they did so some time ago and have done nothing to indicate a willingness to rejoin the larger Communion' (3).
Thus Wright declares with characteristic bluntness that authoritarianism which Williams shares but prefers not to advertise. Both insist there is an Anglican consensus that homosexuality is immoral, and on that basis blame the Americans for acting contrary to it. Outside the higher echelons of church bureaucracies this seems a bizarre claim: in normal English usage 'consensus' means 'general agreement (of opinion, testimony, etc.)' (Concise Oxford Dictionary) or 'general or widespread agreement among all the members of a group' (Encarta Dictionary). The current controversy is precisely about whether homosexuality is indeed immoral, and as long as debate continues nothing could be clearer than the fact that there is no consensus.
What Williams and Wright mean by 'consensus' is not in fact consensus at all; they make no attempt to appeal to a general agreement. They appeal instead to a few central authorities, chiefly Lambeth 1998, primates' meetings and the Windsor Report, plus what they claim the church has always taught. Far from being consensus this is better described as 'a principle, tenet or system', or perhaps 'a belief or set of beliefs that a religion holds to be true'. The word being defined here (Concise Oxford Dictionary and Encarta respectively) is 'dogma'.
Read it all
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal
Archbishop of Canterbury
Church of England (CoE)
Episcopal Church (TEC)
Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
Posted August 27, 2009 at 6:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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1. Br. Michael wrote:
This article shows why there is no further need to talk to these people. They are going to go their way regardless. They essentialy define consensus as 100% agreement and dismiss Lambeth 1.10 and any authority as dogmatic:
Both Williams and Wright show themselves to be dogmatic authoritarians. Their appeal to consensus is really an appeal to an unreflective dogma which refuses to take any account of current beliefs. Their denials of a centralising agenda are only there to make their centralising proposals sound acceptable.
They reject any authority except their own which they impose ruthlessly.
August 27, 7:56 am | [comment link]
2. Ian Montgomery wrote:
If there is a theology of the church which is distinctively Anglican, it is without doubt the tradition which traces its roots to Richard Hooker’s writings and expects to hold a balance between scripture, reason and tradition. The interaction between the three, all playing a part because none is infallible, means that in ever-changing situations new judgements need to be made. While holding fast to tradition is sometimes the right thing to do, at other times we are called to welcome new developments and insights. If Williams and Wright had been truer to the central characteristics of Anglican theology, they would have been much more prepared to consider new ideas and challenges on their merits instead of rushing back to the comfort blanket of inherited dogma. It is a tragedy that this more open, tolerant, creative Anglican ecclesiology has gone too far in tolerating the intolerant and including the excluders. They have now taken many of the senior posts in the church, and seek to turn Anglicanism into an intolerant and exclusive sect.
I read what MCU writes but with great sadness. The above selection from their farrago indicates to me the degree to which these people truly have created another religion. The tradition that they call Anglican has little to do with what Hooker actually wrote but is in fact a massive deviation, followed by exaggeration to the point where they now mean the opposite of what was intended.
What they characterize as an exclusive and intolerant sect misses the point made by Williams and Wright in so much of their writings. Christianity is distinctively different and offers indeed a completely different vision of reality and eternity, called the Kingdom of God. The Church is called to be the Holy and Spotless Bride of Christ. Wright illustrates this point clearly when he points to the so called Baptismal Covenant theology of TEC as completely missing the New Testament teaching on baptism as death to the former life with its sins and new life in pursuit of holiness, empowered by the Holy Spirit where we turn our backs on the former life and its sins and seek personal reformation and transformation. Williams has made this point before with his call for personal and moral change as we grow in Christ. Nowhere are we to countenance the blessing of sin.
God’s Kingdom is not a construct of earthly religious aspirations - though these are all too often in evidence. It is a divine gift into which we are invited. God invites us to be changed into a Holy people, a nation of priests, who witness to God’s reality in the midst of a fallen world. I believe that Wright and Williams are seeking this, and not their own glory and power as MCU accuses them. I find MCU a band of false prophets who sadly take Godly language and misuse it to serve another religion.
August 27, 8:09 am | [comment link]
3. John Bowers wrote:
in normal English usage ‘consensus’ means ‘general agreement (of opinion, testimony, etc.)’
I think 95%+ of the communion believing in a certain way constitutes a consensus. These guys are promoting their self importance a little too much. TEC isn’t even close to the largest Anglican province.
August 27, 8:21 am | [comment link]
4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
I second the comments about “consensus.” Over the decades I’ve encountered the phenomenon multiple times in controversies completely unrelated to the church, and the pattern is quite consistent.
When a ‘conservative’ position dominates, there is “no consensus” if as few as 5 per cent (liberals) object. When a ‘liberal’ position dominates, there is “consensus” even if 35 per cent (conservatives) object.
The essence of the issue is that liberals views their positions (whatever they are) as being both normative and mainstream.
Example: Journalists in the old-line media truly believe they are “middle of the road” in their views, even when countless surveys demonstrate their positions to be held by no more than about 20 per cent of the population.
Example: People who define their identity as “organic farmers” also believe that “organic” is the absolute pinnacle of “sustainable” practices. Therefore, anything they do on their farms must, be definition, be “sustainable.” Good luck attempting to convince them otherwise—I’ve inspected over 700,000 acres for organic certification, and that attitude is the biggest single obstacle to actually making their operations more sustainable.
Within the liberal church, the same phenomenon prevails, except the self-definitions and identity anchors are things like “inclusive” and “Spirit-led.” When coupled with the normal human tendency towards confirmation bias (seeking out information in accord with existing beliefs whilst dismissing anything challenging those beliefs) you get people who write articles such as the one featured in this post.
August 27, 8:52 am | [comment link]
5. tired wrote:
According to MCU, any province (or individual?) can change any aspect of church teaching at any time, and because there would then be a difference, there would be no consensus, and the change must be accepted or a new consensus negotiated. That is ludicrous and completely illogical. What ‘church’ operates that way?
The burden of persuasion to change a prior consensus is on those proposing the change - all prior to implementing the change. They simply have not carried the burden.
August 27, 8:55 am | [comment link]
6. Didymus wrote:
My personal favorite line: “Williams and Wright both insist that the church cannot bless same-sex unions and that people in homosexual partnerships cannot be ordained to the church’s ministry. Yet both know that these things happen. What is the meaning of this ‘cannot’?”
The author then goes on about “mystic Churches” of “platonic ideals”, and the Calvinist “invisible” Church, thus missing the point entirely.
The true answer is, of course, much simpler. The Church cannot bless same-sex relations because God does not bless same sex relations. A minister can say the words of blessing until he/she/it is blue in the face, they can dress it up in as much ritual and pageantry as they want , heck, pile on the incense if it makes you happy; but unless God blesses there is no blessing. God is under no requirement to bless something just because a person with a collar does it, or because a whole congregation demands it, or because some bishops got together in Synod and declared it.
August 27, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
7. robroy wrote:
Let’s see which of the legs of Hooker’s stool the liberals have going for them:
August 27, 12:14 pm | [comment link]
Scripture - nope
Tradition - nope
Reason - nope
That about settles it.
8. Jim the Puritan wrote:
I sometimes fantasize about what the Apostle Paul would say to people like this.
August 27, 6:40 pm | [comment link]
9. Ephraim Radner wrote:
“Others take a less idealist, more empirical view of it: God allows us to organise the church as we wish, so that what you see is what you get.” If this is “more empirical view” of the Church is indeed MCU’s, then what is there to complain about? Some Anglicans, including Bishop Wright and Archbishop Williams, want a Communion organized by covenanting along certain lines. (These may or may not be the “dogmatists”.) Others do not. Let those who want it have it, and those who don’t, not have it. Since there is apparenlty “no consensus” among all Anglicans about this, let the “two tracks” go their particular ways. Voila! “What you see is what you get”! Where’s the problem?
August 27, 8:50 pm | [comment link]