Sydney bishops snub Anglican chief in gay row

Posted by Kendall Harmon

SYDNEY's Anglican Archbishop, Peter Jensen, and his five assistant bishops have rebuffed the worldwide leader of the Anglican Church in his attempts to heal the bitter division in the international church over gay bishops and same-sex unions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had issued invitations to 800 Anglican bishops to attend a conference of Anglican primates next year in Britain.

But Dr Jensen and his bishops have delayed responding to the invitation, issued personally by Dr Williams, saying they hesitated to sit at the same table as those who supported the consecration of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.

Progressive Anglicans have accused Dr Jensen of seeking to embarrass the head of the Church of England.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaLambeth 2008* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ

Posted August 11, 2007 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Words Matter wrote:

Progressive Anglicans may be confusing the effect (embassing the ABC) with the intent of Abp. Jensen and his suffragans. Their intent might just be based on conscience and principle.

August 11, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
2. Brian from T19 wrote:

I agree with Words Matter (for once!).  I think that ++Jensen’s intent was pure.  I also think that it isn’t that embarrassing for the ABC

August 11, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
3. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

I may be in error, but it seems to me that many conservative Anglicans really don’t have a bit of loyalty or respect for the Anglican Communion unless it follows their agenda. (The same can be said for many progressive Anglicans).  We are all into our own agendas. It would appear that the only use for the Anglican Communion these days is to punish those who don’t agree with us.

It’s all politics. There are a few on this blog (both conservative and liberal) whose focus is Christ. Most here would say they are so focussed, but their words and attitudes betray this.

How will I be able to tell those with the attitude of Christian loving? They will say, “I disagree with you on this point because for these reasons, but I still respect you personally.” How will I be able to tell those with the un-Christian attitude? They will launch (an illogical) ad hominem attack instead of rational argument against what I hypothesize.

I conjecture that both sides have elements of truth in what they say, and both sides have error on their sides also.

August 11, 2:52 pm | [comment link]
4. physician without health wrote:

Dear Virgil in Tacoma, we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God.  What we are talking about here are not nuanced differences, we are in many cases dealing with forces within the communion that do not even accept the Nicene Creed.  Scripture repeatedly warns about folk who would masquerade as clergy and preach abject heresy, leading folk away from Christ.  This is what the current struggle is about.

August 11, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
5. john scholasticus wrote:

‘I conjecture ...’. Seems like a pretty safe statement. But it’s not a matter of truth or untruth: it’s increasingly a matter of the civilised and the uncivilised, of those who recognise that truth is hard to establish, that it’s legitimate to disagree about it, and that you can/should still get on with those who disagree with you. Please, Virgil my friend, keep your nerve and stand up for decency, as I try to do.

August 11, 3:29 pm | [comment link]
6. Harvey wrote:

I sorta laugh at times with all the barbs flying but then I remember two favorites saying I picked up sometime ago.  1) Never try to force a size 13 word speech into a size 10 mouth.  2) Be careful of what you spread around you as you scale up the ladder of success; you may have to step carefully when you are forced to back down.

August 11, 3:40 pm | [comment link]
7. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#6…The statement “I conjecture” (or I may be in error) is the result of my epistemology. I don’t believe that our statements regarding synthetic truth can be anything more than conjectures. Even when I assert things as true, it would be better for me to state it in the framework: I conjecture, I theorize, etc.

August 11, 3:42 pm | [comment link]
8. azusa wrote:

# 4: Coleridge said: ‘He who begins by loving Christianity more than Truth, will proceed by loving his sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.’

We can cavil about the first part of this statement, but the second and third are salutary warnings. The Anglican Communon is only valuable insofar as it reflects authentic apostolic Christianity. If it corporately departs from this, it doesn’t deserve our loyalty. But we are determined to resist - in the name of historic Anglicanism - the heretical innovators. Call us counterrevolutionaries if you will. We spit on the names of ecclesiastical Lenins.

August 11, 3:44 pm | [comment link]
9. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#5…My epistemology is such that it doesn’t allow for orthodoxy in that orthodoxy implies at least some certainty, which I conjecture one can’t possess. This is also why I can’t accept the various infallibility and inerrancy formulae regarding the doctrine of scriptural inspiration. I must search for revelation in the utility of scripture which seems to meld well with traditional Anglicanism.

August 11, 3:48 pm | [comment link]
10. azusa wrote:

# 6: ‘The point of having an open mind is to close it on something solid.’ (Chesterton)
We can disagree about adiaphora or what has never been settled dogmatically (conciliarly) by the Church - but the Anglican wars are not about these. It’s over the validity of the Creeds and the clarity and truthfulness of Scripture - two issues which ‘reappraisers’ heavily contest. Civility is a good virtue but it’s not the summum bonum. Rodney King is not a theologian. I understand why numerous Anglican theologicans have taken the Roman or Orthodox path, despairing of a communion being committed to its own formularies. I don’t wish to folow them as I believe classical, biblical Anglicanism is true and faithful.

August 11, 3:55 pm | [comment link]
11. azusa wrote:

# 10: Traditional Anglicanism actually affirmed biblical inerrancy. Newman’s problem lay with finding an authoritative account of Scripture’s *meaning. You treat the Bible as uncertain in its truthfulness and elusive in its meaning. That isn’t traditional Anglicanism, it’s mid-20th C. liberalism.

August 11, 3:59 pm | [comment link]
12. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#11…Even doctrine that is a part of the ecumenical consensus can be questioned and critiqued as they were created by fallible human beings in the categories of thought current to its time. Without that critical possibility, I conjecture we have fideism and irrationalism which would reduce Christianity to an intellectual inviability that would promote its rejection.

August 11, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
13. Jeffersonian wrote:

Progressive Anglicans have accused Dr Jensen of seeking to embarrass the head of the Church of England.

Is such a thing even possible at this stage?  ++Rowan’s inaction, stalling and dithering have brought the AC to the brink of implosion.  His misrule of our Church is beyond parody.

August 11, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
14. Words Matter wrote:

of those who recognise that truth is hard to establish,

Well, that leaves out Integrity and all the other homosexualist organizations, who are absolutists in the most absolute sense, at least when they are talking about The Only Thing That Matters in The Universe. Try disagreeing with those folks and watch the civilized behavior fly!

August 11, 5:02 pm | [comment link]
15. teatime wrote:

There is no “conjecture” about the fact that Griswold was duplicitous at the last Lambeth when he signed on to the resolutions regarding sexuality, and his successor was already duplicitous when she agreed to the Dar Es Salaam statements and then denied that she did the minute she came home.

So, why on Earth would the bishops spend all of that time and money to attend Lambeth unless there was at least the probability that something can be accomplished and the Church can finally turn its attention to mission and witness? TEC has taken up FAR more than its share of attention and plays the primates for fools.

August 11, 5:15 pm | [comment link]
16. deaconjohn25 wrote:

I am active in an ecumenical group that meets once a month. Sometimes, as a Roman Catholic, I wonder why we are sitting down together since so many mainstream Protestant churches in our group, such as the local Episcopal Church, are more in tune with the ethics and teachings of the left-wing of the Democratic Party and the NY Times than with the Bible and Christian Tradition. So I can understand some Anglican bishops having qualms about who they are being asked to sit with.

August 11, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
17. Revamundo wrote:

#15 WordsMatter…homosexualist You’re kidding, right?

August 11, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
18. William Scott (at home) wrote:


Perhaps you should check the epistemology of your epistemology.

It seems more hindrance than guide.

August 11, 5:58 pm | [comment link]
19. physician without health wrote:

Dear Virgil, re: #13: The Christian basics are revealed truth, beyond any human capacity to discover through the process of reason.

August 11, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
20. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#19…I have found the epistemological theory I ascribe to the only one that is self-applicable. Basically, the epistemology of my epistemology is logically coherent.

#20…Truth is beyond any human capacity. The ‘process’ of reason can never establish what is true, only weed out what is false. The human capacity can likewise never know with certainty that a claimed revelation is true; it can only determine what is false.

August 11, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
21. physician without health wrote:

Virigil, I agree completely.  Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the revealed truth of Christianity comes across as foolishness.

August 11, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
22. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#22…Now the important question: How do we know that a person has the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

August 11, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
23. Words Matter wrote:

#18 -

No, why do you say that?

Homosexualist is a word that distinguishes between the person afflicted with homosexual desires (a disorder, but not a moral fault per se) and the ideologue promoting homosexual desires as a natural variant of human experience. 

It’s more or less a counterpart to the ever-popular “hetero-sexism”, made popular by the, I believe it was, the Episcopalian bishop of Pennsylvania. Well, I suppose the actual parallel would be “homosexualism” or “heterosexist”, but you see what I mean.

August 11, 6:49 pm | [comment link]
24. Revamundo wrote:

Homosexualist is not a word and I find it odd that you would try to use it since words matter.

August 11, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
25. physician without health wrote:

Virgil, #23, here are a couple of examples taken from Scripture: Acts 4:31, one who speaks the Word of God with boldness.  Also, from 1 Corinthians 12:3, “noone can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit.”  Anyone who genuinely believes in human sin and the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, His bodily resurrection, and His divinity, has been convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit.

August 11, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
26. Words Matter wrote:

Revamundo is not a word, yet you use it to denote youself. wink

August 11, 10:01 pm | [comment link]
27. Philip Snyder wrote:

We cannot know the truth as you have said.  However, I will also never fully know my wife.  She will remain a mystery to me that I’ve spent almost the last 20 years unravelling and I look forward to further understanding for the next 40 or so.  I will never know my wife the same way that I know that 2+2=4 in a normal algebraic system.  However, that does not allow me to sleep with other women because of mistaken identity.  I know my wife well enough to know that other women are not her.
Likewise with God, we trust Holy Scripture and our Tradition and the creeds and fomularies and Book of Common Prayer and the moral teaching of the Church because we faith that they bring us closer to God - the same God we can apprehend, but never comprehend.  Thus orthodoxy is not just a set of formularies, but a worshipping the God whom the Church has proclaimed.

We will each worship something or someone.  That is certain.  Will you worship the God you can understand (which will look and think an lot like you) or will you reach out in faith and trust that the church knows more about you.

Phil Snyder

August 11, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
28. William Scott (at home) wrote:

You seem to ascribe to a radical doubt system rather than a belief system.  It seems you are working aepistemologically.

August 11, 11:20 pm | [comment link]
29. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#28…We are not to postpone judgment as to what is true because we can’t know it is true with certainty. We are not to reject the sources of knowledge, whether they be nature, reason, revelation, scripture, tradition, etc. even though we can’t accept them as, or based on, foundational certainties. I conjecture that the power of our knowing is powerful because of the tension of having decision choices between competing claims of truth. We are free to change our minds and to admit error and formulate new casts in our search for truth.

August 11, 11:20 pm | [comment link]
30. FrankV wrote:

Wow virgil.  Your Platonic school of rational theology is really impressive.

August 11, 11:38 pm | [comment link]
31. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#29…It’s not that I’m aepistemological, but anti-foundational. The problem of foundations is a modern philosophical problem leading us away from the enlightenment and classical liberalism. I have not surrendered to fideism or relativism (or any other type of irrationalism) even though I have found no adequate way to justify true belief, whether it be an appeal to reason, our senses, revelation, faith and so forth. In lieu of this I have found solace (although an uncertain one) in the other side of the hypothetical: modus tollens. My faith is not a justifying faith, but a decision-making faith based on the elimination of error.

August 11, 11:40 pm | [comment link]
32. Larry Morse wrote:

#30. You cannot use the phrase “in our search for truth,” given what you have asserted, because such a search is, at last impossible and quite meaningless. You can only search for useful positions that will mediate between the experiential world and your own solipsistic one.
  Well a day. The real point is that your last remark cannot be made by a Christian. When Chris t tells us His Father sent Him, this is absolutely truth or not true at all. We cannot say, “We can provisionally accept this proposition because it is useful to do so, but we cannot assert certainty as to its absolute truth.” It is absolutely true or not true at all, and for the fundamentals of Christianity, this position cannot be qualified by saying “epistomology”  a great many times.
            Larry (I think, but I can never be quite sure that this is true until I ask my wife for certainty on this matter and she gives me The Look and sighs)

  (Remember S. Johnson kicking the stone and saying, “Thus I refute Hume [or was it Berkeley?])

August 11, 11:54 pm | [comment link]
33. CanonZ wrote:

I think that this article, and some of the responses to it, underline aspects of the confusion we’re facing in both our terminology and our actual stances.  The episcopal hierarchy of the Diocese of Sydney has delayed responding the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to Lambeth.  That, we’re told, has put Sydney on the side of “Orthodoxy”, and opened to attack from “Progressives”.  The Orthodox, of course, are those who continue to believe that which the Church has taught for 2,000 years, while the Progressives blow with the breezes of modern Western ‘culture’.

But wasn’t it, though, just a very few years ago that the Diocese of Sydney came within a hairsbreadth of authorizing lay-celebrated Eucharists?  Sydney then was attacked as being too Progressive, as being swayed by the culture’s anticlericalism and its push for greater roles for the laity, and in many cases by so attacked by ‘Orthodox’ church leaders whom we now would call Progressives.

The Orthodox/Progressive line seems to be drawn in one place when it comes to homosexuality, yet in another place when it comes to the question of the appropriate role of the ordained in church leadership… and probably in a dozen other ways as well.

The winds of the culture blow strong, and it is hard to stand against them.  The cultural changes in the West that have brought about the current Gene Robinson (et alia) debacle cannot be narrrowly defined as “pro-homosexual”—rather, that aspect has been one of the most extreme and most obvious (and for many, most offensive) of a variety of culturally-pushed changes.

In a culture which celebrates individualism and equality, it’s an easy slide from ‘why should priests be all male?’ to ‘why should priests be all heterosexual?’, but equally to ‘why should some people be set apart as priests as though they were more special?’, the direction Sydney was teetering in.  The move away from East-facing altars, where the fully-vested priest stood before the people and represented them to God, to free-standing altars where the priest may just be in alb and stole and the lay role is emphasized, is a sign of the same cultural shift.  The change in music, from that which was traditional and beautiful but challenging and ‘out of style’, to praise hymns led by guitars or U-2charists and rap Masses (and, at Trinity/Wall Street, even clown Masses!), is all part of the same process—the Church bowing to the winds of cultural change.

We focus on the homosexuality issue because it is the most extreme, the most clearly counter-Scriptural, and perhaps because it is one that bothers some of us most.  However, we do ourselves a disservice if we fail to recognize the bigger picture—that the Church has been blown about by the winds of culture for a long time, and has failed to withstand those winds for a long time—long before the issue of Gene Robinson came along.  Just ask the Eastern Orthodox Churches, who apparently have found ways to hold firm, even under persecution.

I could joke, and say that pulling out the old High Altars was the beginning of it all—that when we pulled them out from the wall, out poped ‘Rite II, Prayer C’, women presiding bishops, electric guitars and tambourines, and Gene Robinson.  I could, but I won’t.  I will say this, though.  It was the same strong wind—pro-individual, anti-authoritative, and ease-seeking, that blew through our culture and through our Church. 

Many of us who are now considered (and consider ourselves) Orthodox, because of our stance on gay marriage and ordination, may find that we might equally be considered Progressives in other matters—that we have allowed the culture to change our understanding and worship of God in other ways—and it might make for some uncomfortable self-examination.

But if we truly believe that it is the role of the Church to affect the culture, then we need to be truly worried about the culture’s affecting the Church.  And in that case, Gene Robinson’s consecration and his role as bishop of New Hampshire isn’t a problem.  It’s merely one more symptom.

August 12, 2:17 am | [comment link]
34. azusa wrote:

# 34: No, it’s more a question of biblical primitivism. You can make a strong case that ‘lay celebration’ was actually the biblical norm (Acts 2.46) and I’ve heard Jimmy Dunn say this (which is not to endorse everything that Dunn says). But I don’t think Sydney will go unilateralist on this - unless Anglicanism really does go belly up. It’s the revisionists - for whom every year is 1968 - who ought to support ‘lay celebration’, but at this point they become strangely (semi-)traditional and hierarchical (job protectionism, I think).

August 12, 4:08 am | [comment link]
35. fyffee wrote:

Virgil - in post #21 you said : “Truth is beyond any human capacity.” Was that a truth statement or a conjecture? If it was a truth statement then either you are superhuman to have the capacity to know that this is a truth, or you are contradicting yourself, since it is not within your capacity to know such a thing. If you meant to preface this statement with the phrase “I conjecture that…..”, then you leave open the possibility that truth is indeed within human capacity, but perhaps you don’t have the capacity to know any truth. And then what do you do with the simple mathematical truth 1+1=2, which I have seen proven to be true through experience, repeatability, reason and limit theorem? Is this not a truth statement which is within human capacity to know?

August 12, 8:36 am | [comment link]
36. chips wrote:

Virgil asserts that the Anglican Wars are more political than theological.  Although I am one of the more political conservatives who post here - I think one should realize that our theology is a major component of ones internal ideology - which is what should inform ones politics - assuming ones politics is informed (and not just because my dad or spouse votes that way or I like candidate X’s hair).  Christians accept (or should accept) that the following are true 1) there is a God; 2) God revealed himself through scripture ie the bibel; 3) the Bible has a coherent morality which among many other things rejects homosexuality. (the Bible also rejects shellfish but through modern refrigeration the harm has been solved - not so much for homosexuality).  If as Virgil said we cannot accept number 1 and 2 to be true then we may be great philosphers but we are not necessarliy Christians.  If number 1 and 2 are not true as Virgil suggests then our fight is really just ideology and that would still be okay - homosexuality could still be immoral and icky and harmful to Western Civilization absent a God that revealed himself through the Bible and told us not to do it.

August 12, 9:32 am | [comment link]
37. chips wrote:

To be fair Virgil merely suggests the possiblity that 1 and 2 are not true.

August 12, 9:33 am | [comment link]
38. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#36…“Truth is beyond any human capacity” is a vague statement. It could imply that our search for truth is fruitless and beyond the human ability. A better way of stating it would be that truth is not manifest. It takes hard work to find truth and we can never be certain we have it.

#37…Thanks for the clarification in #38. I believe that God does exist and that he reveals himself through nature and revelation. Could I be wrong about this? Of course! I do not believe the Bible contains a systematic moral system.

August 12, 11:09 am | [comment link]
39. fyffee wrote:

Virgil - even saying “truth is not manifest” is a statement of what you believe to be true, and yet if this is a true statement, then how has it been manifested to you that it is a truth. Surely, if “truth is not manifest” then we would not be in a position to conclude such; and if we were so bold as to state “truth is not manifest” as a true statement, then we would be contradicting ourselves. Therefore, it seems as if your epistemology is inherently contradictory, and rather than the epistemology of your epistemology being logically coherent (per #21) it is either illogically coherent, or logically incoherent.

I would not have such a problem if you claimed that all truth is not manifest, but that some truth is manifest. At least that gives us a starting point of truth to know that we do not know all the truth. Thus I can validly claim that 1+1=2, but I do not yet know the unified field theory of the universe. Or I can know some things about God which are true, but I do not know everything there is to know about God, because the things I already know about God are sufficient for me to know that there is more to know that I don’t yet know. And the things I already know about God tell me that whatever else there is to know about God will not negate the things I already know.

August 12, 12:48 pm | [comment link]
40. Virgil in Tacoma wrote:

#40…Before you can tell if my epistemological ‘system’ is consistent, coherent, or adequate (basically logical), you would have to see the system in general, not just independent statements representative but detached from the system. It’s one of the problems of our worldviews that we can’t state them in their completion in one setting (that’s why there are books on such systems). (I would recommend the book Evolutionary Epistemology, Theory of Rationality, and The Sociology of Knowledge, edited by Gerard Radnitzky and W. W. Bartley III. It reflects the school of thought I come from.

My belief that truth is not manifest resides in the problems of epistemic justification and metaphysical pluralism. Is a truth (even an analytic truth) true in all realities? With justification, at what point does justification end? Is there a dogmatic stating point based in basic beliefs, sources that don’t require justification (foundationalism)? Or maybe the solution to these philosophical problems is the abandonment of evidentialism, justificationism, foundationalism, metaphysical monism. Just a possibility.

August 12, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
41. fyffee wrote:

Surely the evidence of whether an epistemological system is logically coherent or not, is whether one can take isolated statements, especially simple and apparently foundational statements from that system such as “truth is beyond human capacity”, and see them as logically coherent in their own right - which this statement is clearly not. It seems to me that if indeed truth is beyond human capacity, or “truth is not manifest” or however you want to phrase it, then our pursuit of knowledge is futile, philosophical debate is pointless, theological enquiry is meaningless, and we might wonder how on earth bridges stay standing up or aeroplanes keep flying, or do they only seem to fly. The end result is nihilism, and that clearly doesn’t work.

August 12, 11:52 pm | [comment link]
42. Scotsreb wrote:

At the end of the day, the point of this post is that the bishops of Sydney are deferring their acceptance of +Cantaur’s invitation, pending the actions of TEC & +Cantaur’s reactions to those actions.

It is not very complicated.  It is a clear statement of intent and does not attempt to judge what is *Truth* or how many angels are capable to dancing on the head of a pin.

They simply say that the conditions currently on the table for the upcoming Lambeth, are unacceptable and +Cantaur will have to change them, or the Sydney bishops will not attend.

August 13, 8:52 pm | [comment link]
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