..The Church of England has just released what is known as the Pilling Report, the conclusions of a Working Group commissioned by the House of Bishops to report and make recommendations on issues of human sexuality. I am sorry to say that it is very flawed.
The problem is not simply that the Report proposes that parish churches should be free to hold public services for the blessing of homosexual relationships, but the way it justifies this proposal. Against the principle of Anglican teaching, right up to and beyond the Lambeth Conference of 1998, it questions the possibility that the Church can speak confidently on the basis of biblical authority and sees its teaching as essentially provisional. So Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth conference, which affirmed that homosexual practice was ‘incompatible with Scripture’ and said it could ‘not advise the legitimisation or blessing of same sex relationships’, is undermined both in practice and in principle.
The proposal to allow public services for the blessing of same sex relationships is seen as a provisional measure and the Report recommends a two-year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ throughout the Church of England which is likened to the ‘Continuing Indaba’ project. This should be a warning to us because it highlights that the unspoken assumption of Anglican Indaba is that the voice of Scripture is not clear. This amounts to a rejection of the conviction expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles that the Bible as ‘God’s Word written’ is a clear and effective standard for faith and conduct.
As a matter of conscience, one member of the Working Group, the Rt Rev’d Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead, was unable to sign the Report. He issued a dissenting statement which I strongly endorse as an alternative way forward which honours the authority of Scripture and expresses a deep pastoral concern for the transforming power of the gospel in a society which is moving into ever greater confusion about sexual morality and identity.
We should pray earnestly that the English House of Bishops steps back from endorsing this Report, but the developing situation in the Church of England, the historic Mother Church of the Communion, underlines the need for our Global Fellowship to build on the success of GAFCON 2013 and implement our commitments. As we noted in the Nairobi Communiqué, the GFCA is becoming an ‘ important and effective instrument of Communion during a period in which other instruments of Communion have failed both to uphold gospel priorities in the Church, and to heal the divisions among us.’
1. Capt. Father Warren wrote:
The timing, the experience, and the outcome of GAFCON 2013 appears to be truly Providential.
December 7, 9:52 am | [comment link]
2. Jill Woodliff wrote:
. . . it questions the possibility that the Church can speak confidently on the basis of biblical authority and sees its teaching as essentially provisional.
Psalm 118:8-9 (NIVUK)
December 7, 10:05 am | [comment link]
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
3. Pageantmaster ن wrote:
Thank you and God bless you Archbishop Wabukala.
Last chance saloon for CofE leadership.
Please pray for us and for the bishops meeting on Tuesday 10th December.
December 7, 10:37 am | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
BRAVO, ++Wabukala. Very clear, forthright, and reasonable.
Two further comments. First, I agree with #1 above that the timing of GAFCON II was providential. In particular, when the GFCA leaders in Nairobi called for a big ramping up of the AMiE. The need is now URGENT for orthodox Anglicans around the globe to support the faithful remnant of biblical Anglicans in England by raising the significant (indeed massive) amounts of money that will now be needed for the planting of churches and the training of clergy outside the structures of the CoE, should the leaders of the CoE adopt the disastrous Pilling Report’s key recommendations.
Second, I welcome ++Eliud Wabukala’s clarion call for upholding the clarity and finality of the biblical teaching about marriage, and in particular about the inherent sinfulness of same sex behavior (which is also “contrary to nature,” as Paul says in Romans 1, and thus also ruled out by natural law as well as by Scripture). It reminds me of Paul’s line in 1 Cor. 14: if the bugler gives an uncertain trumpet call, who will come forth to battle?? The Kenyan primate and the chair of the GFCA Primates’ Council has issued a clear, compelling trumpet call. Who will heed it?
However, I myself would want to nuance ++Wabukala’s language about the clarity or (to use traditional Reformed language) the “perspecuity” of God’s Word written. There are indeed some things about which the Scriptures are abundantly clear, and the sinfulness of same sex behavior is obviously one of those. Much about the nature of salvation being by faith in Christ is also readily clear. Texts like John 3:16 are simple enough for even a child to understand.
However, there are also LOTS of matters, even crucial matters, about which the Scriptures are far from clear and which have long been disputed by faithful Christians, sometimes for centuries. Women’s ordination is an obvious modern example. The proper mode of church governance is another classic case (episcopal, presbyterian, congregational, etc.). Infant baptism would be another, and the list goes on and on.
When we draw a line in the sand, as ++Wabukala has rightly done, we must be very careful about drawing that fateful ine in the right place. In particular, those of us who accent the catholic side of Anglicanism will never view the so-called “perspecuity” of Holy Scripture the same way that Protestants do, and especially not the way that Reformed Protestants do with their characteristic maxim of Sola Scriptura. But on the controversial matter of same sex behavior and on the way that the sanctity of marriage is inherently tied up with gender complementarity (humans being made in God’s image as male and female), there is no room for disagreement. The biblical teaching is very clear and emphatic. You either accept it, or you don’t. The sad fact is that large numbers of Anglican leaders, ordained and lay, in England and elsewhere, have ceased to accept the authority of Holy Scripture on that point, choosing instead to follow the growing consensus of highly secularized socieites in the Global North that have become extremely captive to theological relativism and moral antinomianism.
December 7, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
5. Katherine wrote:
#4, I have re-read Archbishop Wabukala’s statement, and all I can find in it which might lead to your call for “nuance” is this:
This amounts to a rejection of the conviction expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles that the Bible as ‘God’s Word written’ is a clear and effective standard for faith and conduct.
Surely as an Anglican you agree with that. And I continue to be confused by either “evangelical” or “catholic” Anglicans who can say they hold to the Scriptural complementary character of our creation as male and female for marriage while rejecting its implications for the formal leadership of the church. As an Anglican who leans “catholic,” I lean, as do conservative evangelicals, upon the Scriptural witness on this matter and also upon the experience of the ancient undivided church, in which there were clearly educated and influential women who were highly respected but were not the formal leaders of their congregations.
December 7, 3:22 pm | [comment link]
6. farstrider+ wrote:
Well said, Katherine (#5). Often the things we say are unclear are actually quite clear, and even have the weight of Tradition adding to their clarity. It’s not that they are unclear; it’s that we can’t afford to admit to their clarity because of the cost that follows on from that admission.
December 7, 9:21 pm | [comment link]
7. tjmcmahon wrote:
Pity that this will not be read aloud in every cathedral in England tomorrow morning. It is so much better than the Advent letters coming out of CoE. Will be a pity if the “bishops” of England do not heed these words and repent.
December 8, 12:09 am | [comment link]
The bishops need to decide if the Church of England is to remain part of the Church of Jesus Christ or become a mere ceremonial extension of the secular state.
8. tjmcmahon wrote:
#4- Personally, I feel very comfortable with Abp. Wabukala’s statements and sermons. I have never noticed anything in his words that implies that he would revise the episcopal organization of Anglicanism or reject those of us baptized as infants.
#5, Katherine, very well put. In this modern day, churches seem to forget that the communion of the church is not only geographic, but also temporal. Each innovation further damages our communion with the ancient church. It strikes me that we need to actively strive to be more like them, rather than less. The function of the Apostolic Succession is to connect us sacramentally with the early church, and yet we are content to consecrate individuals who do not believe in the Apostolic Succession.
December 8, 12:28 am | [comment link]
9. MichaelA wrote:
“We should pray earnestly that the English House of Bishops steps back from endorsing this Report, but the developing situation in the Church of England, the historic Mother Church of the Communion, underlines the need for our Global Fellowship to build on the success of GAFCON 2013 and implement our commitments. ...”
Amen to that.
Every effort should be made to persuade the bishops of the Church of England to reject this report and show true godly leadership. Yet at the same time, preparation should be made to secure places where the faithful can worship in England without liberal intereference, whether within or without CofE, if they do not.
December 8, 12:33 am | [comment link]
10. Karen B. wrote:
your comment about this being so much better than COE bishops’ Advent letters is interesting.
Last night I reviewed the Advent letters Fr. George Conger had posted at Anglican Ink. Yikes. Reading KJS’ letter and the Abp. of York’s letter compared to the other letters was SO striking.
Here’s the link:
December 8, 10:24 am | [comment link]
11. Katherine wrote:
Karen B., thank you for that link, and are you ever right! Yikes, indeed! I am so grateful for my rector, a part-time priest who last week, on the first Sunday of Advent, reminded us about death and eternal life, and for our supply priest this Sunday, a retired TEC priest who reminded us about repentance, forgiveness, and the longing we feel for the Lord. How will TEC or the CofE “inwardly digest” the Scripture (from today’s traditional collect) if the Word is not preached to them?
December 8, 4:39 pm | [comment link]
12. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Katherine (#5), farstrider (#6), and TJ (#8),
I’m sorry if I seemed to interject a red herring or a merely confusing note. I don’t want to take us off topic here, but I will simply clarify what I was trying to say, and more timportantly perhaps, what I wasn’t trying to say. For example, I wasn’t implying by any means that ++Wabukala or other GFCA leaders question episcopal goverance of the church or the venerable custom of infant baptism. Rather, my remark was more general in nature, noting that those two things are among the many vital matters of church life that aren’t settled by Scripture alone, since the biblical witness is far from clear on such practical matters.
My comment was prompted in part by what I perceived as ++Wabuka’a's strong reaction against the use of “Indaba” discussions by many Anglican leaders (outside the GFCA), since the way the ACO has used that “Indaba” technique to prevent any attempt to actually resolve deep theological differences and disputes does indeed imply, as ++Wabukala rightly noted, that the Scriptural witness is up for grabs, not just about the morality of same sex bahavior, but about even such fundamental issues as salvation being solely avaialable through the saving death and resurrection of Christ. In the background lies my own strong reaction against some comments that +Peter Jensen made in Nairobi along similar lines, but which went further, in typical Sydney Neo-Puritan fashion, in asserting the perspecuity of God’s Word in very general terms. Hence my call for careful nuancing of any such claims about the clarity of Holy Scripture.
Don’t misunderstand me. I fully support what the Lambeth Quadrilateral says about biblical authority, i.e., that the Scriptures are “the ultimate rule and standard of faith.” The point, however, is that they are the ULTIMATE standard, the supreme and final authority available to us on earth to settle disputed matters, but NOT the ONLY authoeirty, and most certainly not “the only infallible standard of faith and practice,” which is the classic Reformed stance, reflected in the venerable Westminster Confession of Faith, but which has NEVER been official Anglican doctrine.
IOW, the nuancing that I’m calling for has everything to do with the GFCA avoiding taking a position on the clarity of God’s Word written that would be impossible for Anglo-Catholics to accept, because it implicitly adopts a fallacious Sola Scriptura position that is not an official Anglican doctrine. That’s all.
December 9, 3:57 pm | [comment link]
13. art wrote:
David Handy, Katherine, et al,
I can surely endorse the call for “clarity/perspicuity” where that truly lies - and part, but only part, of the trouble is sometimes in discerning where those lines might be: timing and mode of the rite baptism is a typical example. Yet there is the genuine question of the Development of Doctrine to consider as well. I don’t think, for example, Chalcedon settled all Christological matters, nor the Reformation all ecclesiological issues - or Christological ones either!
In which light, as GAFCON/GFCA goes forward and consolidates itself necessarily and more organizationally, we’ve to be careful and charitable about such ‘boundary lines’. This is not a call for ‘liberal fluffiness’! But it is to be soundly aware there is a clear tension between the more evangelical and the more sacramental traditions among us, just as there are clearly those who do not find women’s ordination “repugnant” to Scripture and those whose hermeneutic and/or tradition may not permit it.
I’ve lived much of my Anglican ministerial life in settings where these tensions have been pretty obviously near the surface. Occasionally they’ve erupted awkwardly; mostly they’ve allowed a creativity among us. For my money, the virtue of “prudence” heads the list traditionally for a very good reason! And while we need to surely pray for the others, like courage/fortitude, in our time, I do pray for Christian leadership around the world and the AC to seek James’ list wholeheartedly - 3:17f.
December 9, 8:46 pm | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster ن wrote:
Well, here on the eve before the House of Bishops debate the Pilling Report, here is my take on it:
1. The House of Bishops or its managers under Rowan Williams decided several years as part of its gradual liberalising that it was going to start a process of moving the Church of England on its traditional understanding of sexuality and the Bible’s teaching. Sir Joseph Pilling was called on to chair a committee to look into it, not originally with as wide a remit as it has since assumed.
2. The membership of the committee was announced and the senior diocesan was deliberately named as the liberal thug, the Bishop of Gloucester, an articulate and bullying debater and behind many of the moves to liberalise the church in his role as President of Affirming Catholicism.
3. Perham is something of a power broker and was on the CNC which chose Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury.
4. Perham is deeply involved in Continuing Indaba and wrote of his Indaba with the TEC Bishop of El Camino Real and the Bishop of Western Tanganyika:
“We hope Indaba will be expanded within the Anglican Communion; we hope the Indaba model can be shared beyond our Communion to the wider church; we hope our continuing partnership can be a significant part of that work.:
5. Perham is for full inclusion and gay blessings in church, if not marriage:
Perham, who admits to being a liberal and modern Bishop, said: “The church has to be sorry,” he said.
“It has not treated the gay, lesbian and transgender community very well. “The church may be moving slowly, but it will get there. The vast majority of Christians are moving relatively fast towards a more modern way of thinking and towards a position where they should be. It is a place where they should have reached a long time ago, but clearly not as quickly as the rest of society. The church is slow because it is trying to pull together this universal family from all over the world to have the same understanding.
“The church’s view on same sex marriage is not sustainable. But homosexuals must realise that the church is not homophobic. We should all celebrate committed, faithful and loving relationships.”
6. The conclusions of the Pilling Report are predictable given Perham’s input: firstly that there should be open season on ‘marking’ the advent of gay unions in church; secondly that there should be some Continuing Indaba/Facilitated Conversation in the Church of England; and thirdly that the Anglican Communion should do the same through Facilitated Conversations.
7. Perham made sure that Pilling delivered exactly what was intended. Together with the institutional and recently retired Freemason, Jonathan Baker, the flying Bishop of Fulham, with the assistance of Ms Trewick, it is pretty clear that good faithful suffragan, Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead was in line to be rolled over - except that Bishop Keith wasn’t. The one outstanding feature of Pilling is Bishop Keith’s wonderful defence of Scripture and the teaching of both the Church and the Communion. He was not going to be silenced by the Establishment stooges.
Then we come to Indaba, Facilitated Conversations, and Justin Welby….
December 9, 8:59 pm | [comment link]
15. Pageantmaster ن wrote:
Enough, it is late. I could go through the election of Justin Welby, the votes of Perham and Barry Morgan and the rest, the background at bribe-giving French firm Elf, and the treasurer position at Enterprise Oil which bombed after financial mismanagement. Then there was the role as a facilitator at the Dublin Primates meeting, the question marks about Liverpool and the connections made in Bishop Jones’ early Indaba on sexuality in the diocese, the links with Virginia Theological College, the skill with psychological warfare techniques used at Dublin, at Coventry with Tory Baucum and Shannon Johnston, the undermining of Holy Trinity Brompton perhaps the biggest potential casualty with a world wide impact, a mission with so much promise, and yet through hubris and pride now at risk, then the rejection by Synod a few years ago of the attempt by Rowan Williams to bring in his suffragan +Dover as chair of the business committee and introduce Indaba to Synod, and the subsequent roll out of Indaba in Synod last July and this February by Welby and Porter, the control freakery run mad at Synod this year, the control at Lambeth Palace by gay activists, liberal press people and dodgy reconciliation practitioners, the lies, lies, lies - about being a conservative evangelical, about why he went to Kenya, the lies of Arun Arora and William Fittall they were instructed to tell when the truth threatened to come out and derail the women bishops vote, notwithstanding that the Pilling Report document was prepared on 20th November, just as the vote was going on; then the hectoring of young gentle and loving christians for ‘homophobia’, probably the last group where you would find it, the opening of CofE Schools to materials prepared by gay activists not only to fight homophobic bullying but to push an unbiblical agenda, the sly and suggestive comments about how challenged he is, the dishonesty, the manipulation, the ‘reconciliation’, the Continuing Indaba and the lack of clarity about which US source is funding it.
I could go on about that, but that is to talk about the person and the fragile personality and the flakey theology, whereas this whole issue is not about personality but instead about policy and about plans laid down long ago, long before Welby became ABC, and long before he accepted the brief which came with the job, and based on which he was appointed.
This is about cold, manipulative engineering, to take apart a Christian denomination, the third largest in the world, by taking out the heart of its administrative structures and subvert its founding church, following just the same plan. It is about the intention all along to have ‘facilitated conversations’ in the Church of England controlled by ‘Canon’ David Porter and Justin Welby to a plan from Coventry, and about the plans not far behind that to roll them out in the Communion. It is about the cold hard determination to do whatever it takes, whatever the cost, whatever the promises broken and lies which need to be told, the gongs given to African bishops and the bribery to assist the agenda. Nothing will be allowed to get in the way, and those persuaded that we are just having a ‘conversation’ just need to note the way TEC was undermined using the same game plan. Justin under the guise of a sheep has got away with things Rowan never could have.
No that is the plan, and what unless the Evangelical Bishops are prepared to stand up and those others who are concerned, then that is what we are headed for - funded by TEC, organised with materials from US organisations used for the first Continuing Indaba -both in the CofE and the Communion.
It is a high risk policy. Certainly in the Global South the game has been rumbled, and it will break apart the Church of England.
How do I know it will break apart the Church of England? I have been watching it happen this week and reading peoples’ blogs as they explain what they are doing as they start to divide - including many who are in between. I grieve for that. It is heartbreaking.
Hubris, Disobedience, Deception - the Father of Lies is hard at work.
However, God is in charge, and I have seen Him move in power in answer to prayer in ways I could never have imagined, so please join me in prayer. Your will be done, O Lord.
December 9, 11:10 pm | [comment link]
17. Jill Woodliff wrote:
A previous prayer on Freemasonry in the CoE is found here.
December 10, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
18. Militaris Artifex wrote:
Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry],
December 10, 3:52 pm | [comment link]
I suspect that your assessment is essentially correct, and I add my prayers that God will intervene with power to bring about His purposes.
Pax et bonum,
19. Katherine wrote:
Pageantmaster, my heart is breaking for you and for the Church in England. But God is indeed in charge, and He is present in every trouble. May He comfort and lead Christians in England.
December 10, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
20. tjmcmahon wrote:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
It is as in the Episcopal Church, if the bishops actually believed in God, they would fear Him, and would never risk His wrath by leading His Church astray.
December 10, 11:24 pm | [comment link]
21. MichaelA wrote:
PM at #14, thank you for your clear exposition, which appears to be spot-on. One of the best ways of dealing with evil is to name it, identify it publicly, call it out. You may not think you have done much, but I believe you have - do not become weary in such well-doing!
As Katherine and Far Strider point out, the issue in this case is not really the clarity of scripture - on this issue at least, the key people are in little doubt about what scripture says. Rather, the issue is about willingness to acknowledge, and to obey. Things are starting to get intense, and we will see yet more open and direct comment from ++Wabukala and others soon. Time for prayer, and time for the faithful in England to strengthen their bonds of fellowship with each other and with those overseas.
December 11, 1:43 am | [comment link]
22. MichaelA wrote:
PM’s point about the Bishop of Glouceseter being on the CNC which chose ++Welby as ABC is of great interest. I hadn’t thought about that.
December 11, 1:44 am | [comment link]
23. Pageantmaster ن wrote:
Well, here’s the non-report of the Pilling Report decision of the HOB:
Sir Joseph Pilling attended the House to introduce a discussion on ways to address the recently published report on Human Sexuality, a paper commissioned by the House of Bishops as a report to the House.
Really? And - what?
Are we to assume that Welby instructed them not to talk so he and Porter can slink back to the shadows of Liarbeth Palace to carry on planning facilitated conversations?
19. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed
Are you going to come into the light? Or are you afraid to have your deeds exposed?
December 11, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
24. Katherine wrote:
Thank you for that “report,” Pageantmaster. So the Pilling report will be “addressed,” and the 1993 Act of Synod will be gone by midsummer 2014. Lovely.
December 11, 9:31 pm | [comment link]
25. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
I happily join MichaelA, Katherine, and doubtless many readers of T19, in thanking PM for that incisive and illuminating series of comments above. As an American, I will never have his grasp of the English scene, and his feel for some of the key players. Alas, +Perham, as head of that dastardly organization, Affirming Catholicism, is indeed a very disturbing figure that I wouldn’t trust. Affirming Catholics are Pseudo-Catholics. Period. (Of course, I’m well aware that the manhy FiF kind of Anglo-Catholics would regard supporters of WO like me in a similar fashion).
My only quibble with PM’s analysis is his cynical view of ++Welby. I prefer to give him more of the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he’s the puppet, controlled by others behind the scenes, that some conservatives take him to be (I’m not saying that applies to PM, but there are certainly others who view him as a lackey and mere institutionalist).
As in our American justice system, I think ++Welby should be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Now the Bishop of Gloucester is another matter. There isn’t much doubt there. His track record is much longer, and his liberal agenda is very explicit and publicly stated. Not least, he openly admits his basic assumption, that the Church will inevitably conform to the views of the majority of the English population. He simply can’t conceive of any other possibility, no matter how secularized, cynical, and de-Christianized English society becomes. Once a state church, always a state church, seems to be his controlling axiom.
And that’s really the million dollar question in my own mind. Is the CoE even capable of becoming truly counter cultural after centuries of being legally and socially established? Can Anglicanism be weaned from its Erastian roots and can the mother church of the Communion be delivered from bondage to its deadly addiction to the support of the powers that be in English society??
I don’t know. I suspect that, as usual, our foes are PARTLY right. I suspect that the majority of members and leaders of the CoE will compromise and capitulate in the end to the relentless pressures exerted by a godless culture that is in moral free fall. The Achilles Heel of Anglicanism has always been our tendency toward worldliness. There is a reason for all those historic stereotypes exist about worldly Anglican clergy who are utterly clueless about what Christianity is actually about (e.g., Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton in Jane Austen’s novels, or the amusing characters in Anthony Trollope’s novels, etc.).
The CoE is about to be sifted, and shaken to its foundations. To me, as I’ve suggested above, I think it’s abundantly clear that the CoE is about to break up. And the need for a massive infusion of funds to support the now urgent work of the AMiE seems all too plain to me.
But maybe I’m projecting my own bitter experience with TEC onto the British scene. However, if PM is right with his cynical analysis about the cold, calculating, indeed Machiavellian, manipulation of church affairs by a relativist group of leaders within the CoE (including that wolf in sheep’s clothing, +Perham), then what we are witnessing is nothing less than the HIJACKING of the mother church of Anglicanism. Just as TEC was effectively hijacked by a small, but determined group of leaders, ordained and lay, who sincerely thought that they were saving TEC from destruction, but who had been deceived by the Father of Lies.
Someday, a lot of folks in the CoE are going to wake up and realize that their beloved church has been hijacked, and that they’ve been forced to travel somewhere they never wanted to go.
December 12, 12:05 pm | [comment link]