Andrew Goddard: The Anglican Communion - Mapping the Terrain

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are clearly a number of centrifugal forces currently threatening the unity of the Anglican Communion. The focus of these for many is the issue of the proper response to same-sex unions and here I have suggested there is a wide spectrum of views among Anglicans which can be broadly classified into four groups: rejection, reassertion, reassessment and reinterpretation.

Faced with these divisions, the Communion responded by addressing the underlying ecclesiological questions relating to how we live together in communion and maintain our unity in the face of diversity. This produced the Windsor Report and now the Windsor Process (and within it the covenant process). This has articulated a vision of life in communion that I have called 'communion Catholicism' and then sought to apply that to the differences over sexuality.

The danger is that this process has, in turn, produced (or perhaps uncovered) further points of tension. At the level of principle there are new fracture lines developing as, competing with the Windsor vision, there are at least two other alternative ways of envisioning our life together - what I've called connectional confessionalism and autonomous inclusivism. These now supplement the tensions over sexuality and (in as much as there is a correlation between these and the two extremes of the sexuality spectrum) they may strengthen and reinforce them. At the level of practice there are those who, even if they share Windsor's vision of life in communion and reject these two alternative paradigms, are unhappy with at least some of Windsor's practical outworkings of this vision in relation to how the Communion should respond to its diversity over sexuality.

In addition to these three different levels of tension over more theoretical areas - attitudes to sexuality, visions of life in Communion, the implications of Windsor for sexuality - there is now the added and most pressing concrete question of discerning whether, if one accepts Windsor's proposals in relation to the current crisis, TEC has (as JSC argue)accepted and implemented Windsor's recommendations.

Finally, these forces are at play within and between at least four different institutional arenas within the Communion's life - individual provinces and their relationships with other provinces, the Instruments of Communion, coalitions of provinces, and unofficial networks of committed protagonists.

Miraculously, for the last five years (since the current high-level tensions really began with the decisions of New Westminster diocese) the Instruments have been able to bring together all the provinces (though at ACC Nottingham, TEC and Canada attended as observers) and facilitate ongoing conversation across these various divides and wide spectra of beliefs and visions for the Communion. It has done so even as inter-provincial relationships and eucharistic fellowship among the Primates broke down. The challenge now is whether and how that achievement can be maintained, especially in relation to Lambeth 2008, and, if it cannot, what sort of viable 'second best' arrangements can be developed or 'amicable separations' negotiated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisAnglican IdentityInstruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessingsWindsor Report / Process* TheologyEcclesiology

65 Comments
Posted November 30, 2007 at 4:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Dale Rye wrote:

His major point is that a simple division (liberals and conservatives, or reasserters and reappraisers) or even a four-fold typology (communion conservatives, communion liberals, federal conservatives, and federal liberals) no longer covers the field. The Communion is fracturing to the point that he can already point to at least 12 possible positions. An article by The Rev. Canon Benjamin Twinamaani of Uganda published today on Covenant points out still further divisions owing to cultural differences between Americans and the Global South.

November 30, 7:23 pm | [comment link]
2. Nick Knisely wrote:

I actually find his more nuanced positions helpful. Labels are tricky things and they can be used wrongly or to create unneccesary division. But keeping those caveats in mind, this set of categories seems a useful way to organize our thoughts about what is happening in the Communion, and the motivations of the groups behind the events.

November 30, 8:07 pm | [comment link]
3. Don Armstrong wrote:

We have seen these arguments before from Andrew, and as I think about them they seem so analytical just in their charts and neat categories as to completely leave out the Holy Spirit, which is the only source and hope of true unity anyhow.

Perhaps this mirrors academic logic even at Oxford, where people come up with their arguments, and the reality of broken relationships, the power of the Spirit to call us a fresh, and the pruning of God to move folks on to new ventures, is simply beyond the logical steps and arguments that we ourselves and Andrew in particular have made into ditches in which we/he have convinced ourselves to die.

So I find Andrews arguments as gloomy as England in December—-but that is not at all where I live and hope. Perhaps it is the Colorado sunshine or the hope of a snow storm to cover mountain ski trails, but the lines do not need to be drawn so tightly and close to home as Andrew has done.

A larger world view might expand us ever so much more broadly to take on the Methodists who have decided to play Christmas Carols on their clarion at the top of every hour since Thanksgiving. No Advent for them—which means no awareness of their personal sin situation to which the Christ Child will come to relieve them—so what do they expect on Christmas? What will they be looking for and how do they hope for or define righteousness?

Or larger than that, the whole persecution of Christianity, in which our own church and Archbishop have become soldiers of the culture and mouth pieces for the intelligentsia. If we don’t focus on that battle we will soon be waking up in a different world as liberal totalitarianism forces us into our own closets.

No Andrew, my old friend, I think your logic has you trapped, your theology is minus a solid doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and your world view has become so small that you are missing the point—a common enemy, the devil himself and all his destructive forces, should unit us all to do God’s business, and hopefully not to make any more mess of it than we already have.

November 30, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
4. RoyIII wrote:

People just do not like to be told what they have to believe to be a member.  So they’re going to form a number of different sects.  It has never come down to this before, and the break-up should not surprise anyone.  If we had a pope who laid down the law that would be one thing, but we don’t.  What is taking so long is that this is new and people don’t know what they’re doing - starting with the ABC.

November 30, 8:35 pm | [comment link]
5. Ross wrote:

Dale, that piece you linked to by The Rev. Canon Twinamaani is truly fascinating; thank you.

November 30, 8:46 pm | [comment link]
6. TomRightmyer wrote:

I am grateful for the essay and for Canon Twinamaani’s essay on the American church from the perspective of a Ugandan. The American church developed without resident bishops from 1607 (Jamestown) to 1784-90 (Seabury, Ingals, White, Provoost, Madison) and many of our attitudes were formed in those days, including the relative independence of the clergy from arbitrary action by bishops.

I am a reaserter but a communion conservative. I think the actions of the majority at General Convention 2003 and 2006 were mistakes, but I don’t see them as of necessity church-dividing. But just as our 16th century ecclesiastical ancestors did not cease to be Catholics when they rejected the authority of the Bishop of Rome neither do American Episcopalians who reject the authority of General Convention cease to be Anglicans when they seek oversignt from Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, or the Southern Cone.  Bishops Cox, Bena, and Fairfield remain bishops of the Anglican Communion. I hope for the day when American Anglicans under the care of foreign dioceses can be recognized as another Anglican province.

Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

November 30, 11:54 pm | [comment link]
7. Stephen Noll wrote:

“Is it I, Lord?” Reading Andrew Goddard’s revised taxonomy, I found myself asking this question. Am I a rejectionist? Have I rejected the good order of the Communion? Have I perhaps, therefore, rejected my Lord?

So let’s look at the “rejectionist” camp (probably the most unsympathetic-sounding of the four new labels)? More than half the space in this section quotes a hateful screed against homosexuals as a sentiment that is “sadly still heard.” I have been associating with opponents of the gay rights movement for many years and I have yet to find one leader who would speak this way. I challenge Goddard to google the writings of John Guernsey, Martyn Minns, Bill Atwood and the files of T19 and Stand Firm and locate such statements (and compare it with the vilification on left-wing blogs).

Secondly, the rejectionist group is described in terms of attitude rather than principle: “showing little willingness,” “a tendency to insist strongly,” “culture wars,” “‘healing’ in inverted quotes.” Contrast this with the noble reasserters who are offering “a biblical, moral and theological defence,” who “enter into genuine dialogue,” who seek a “pastoral response,” and who “listen and learn” from gay experience. Oh yes, they are even-handed in pronouncing a pox on everyone else’s house.

Since I presume the bishops and churches of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Southern Cone, Southeast Asia and others must fall in the rejectionist group, Goddard is suggesting that their claim to biblical fidelity masks a cultural myopia if not homophobia.

Goddard’s earlier taxonomy at least mentions Lambeth Resolution 1.10, but in his new taxonomy nary a word is heard of this Resolution. Indeed he seems to think that it, like Scripture, it is subject to differing interpretations and therefore has little practical value in matters of church order and discipline. I would ask whether the Windsor Report is itself not liable to the same accusation. Is there any solid ground on which the “Reasserters” would stand firm and conclude that a jurisdiction has broken the bonds of affection and walked apart?

I have argued elsewhere that despite a couple phrases that have been picked on by the Left, Lambeth Resolution 1.10 does speak plainly enough, and in particular it puts the sexuality issue in the context of faithfulness to Scripture and hence Anglican essentials.

In my opinion, the “reassessor” position is a fantasy and certainly does not apply to the American scene. A true reassessor would acknowledge that his position runs contrary to the plain sense of Scripture and to historic and ecumenical Christianity, and thus that the burden of proof rests on him. He would not therefore plunge forward with homosexual ordinations and same-sex unions until the worldwide church had said “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” If this is RW’s position, then let him insist that TEC and ACofC return to the status quo ante and enter into genuine theological debate. The unwillingness of the reasserters and reassessors to make this retreat a line in the sand has allowed the reinterpreters to run roughshod over the rest of the Communion.

Sorry, Andrew, but I think this taxonomy is a step backward in terms of analysis. Does it perhaps it represent ACI’s laying the groundwork for approving the ABC’s rejection of Dar and rubber-stamping of the JSC rubber-stamping of the TEC HOB?

December 1, 12:40 am | [comment link]
8. azusa wrote:

Don Armstrong and Stephen Noll have put their fingers on what is unsatisfactory in this article: a joyless (and rather tedious) taxonomy of Anglicanism as a minor politico-ideological phenomenon that fails to see what the Holy Spirit is *really doing in the world (and that isn’t “ssb’s”!), while using rhetorical ‘arguments’ (like 33 year old quotations) to tar the ‘right’ and the ‘left’, leaving us with - why, the balanced center, of course, the ‘fulcrum’ of wisdom!
Andrew, I fear the blizzard of words you release doesn’t contribute to clarity, but only obfuscates. Like other observers far, far away, I have not been happy about the ructions at Wycliffe, but wouldn’t greater clarity about first principles in ethics and a greater confidence in the perspicuity of Scripture assist us in the present fog? From time to time I vist the ‘Fulcrum’ blog, and I cannot for the life of me see how it could claim to be the ‘evangelical center’ (not least because most of the contributors seem to be rather cross, pro-gay ‘post-evangelicals’, even unitarians and Quakers). In trying to be liberal conservatives, have you not slipped into becoming conservative liberals - people who think the future belongs to ‘Integrity’ or whatever they’re called in England, but personally aren’t ready for it themselves? So I fear Stephen Noll’s suspicion about preparing the ground is right. Don’t be complicit in that. Look up and take a truly catholic view of the Church. Please recover your old courage to call a spade a spade (not one of four divisions of The Pack, each with 13 sub-divisions…)

December 1, 3:29 am | [comment link]
9. Robert A. wrote:

Hmm: I think I feel another grumpy fit coming on… Maybe it’s because I had to be exposed to all the secular trappings of Christmas even before Thanksgiving… Again…

I’m really not sure this analysis is helpful.  It’s typical of the sort of academic exercises that we Anglicans like to engage in, but at the end of the day, it’s just another example of ignoring the big elephant in the room.  As Roy III says, people don’t like being told what to do, especially if they think it’s contrary to what they signed up for.  I don’t think I would agree it has never come down to this before.  I’d say the departure of the Continuing Churches was not that different, and we should take a lesson from it.  The church will fracture again - horribly - just as it did with them.  But the divisions will have very little to do with these categorizations.

Individuals simply will not say: “Well, I’m a reasserting, autonomous inclusivist, so I guess I should just stay and be miserable about it”. (At least I hope they won’t).  Hopefully, as Don Armstrong suggests, somewhere in this mess, the Holy Spirit will visit them and help them find the courage to do what is right for them.  So either they’ll stay, or they’ll leave.  And if they leave, they’ll either try and remain Anglican or they won’t.  And if they decide to remain Anglican, they’ll either join a group that believes in WO or one that doesn’t.  And so on and so on.  And there will be plenty of different organizations to choose from (although obviously not in all areas).

I suppose this market-oriented approach to shopping religion is the American way.  But maybe it’s just because North America is becoming the big missionary field of the moment.  I’m not sure it will be that different when its the UK’s turn to go through the same thing.

Well, that makes me feel a lot better… Forgive me for interrupting… Please continue with your analysis.

December 1, 4:11 am | [comment link]
10. Stephen Noll wrote:

Andrew Goddard says: The two areas of tension remain homosexuality and ecclesiology…

I do not accept this premise. The main area of tension is an entire construal of the Christian faith, which covers such “core” matters as the Trinity (the Fatherhood of God), Christology (the divine Sonship of Christ), the depth of sin and the lostness of mankind, the Virgin Birth, the vicarious Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection of Christ and believers, and the Second Coming of Christ and final Judgement (Happy Advent, everyone). One of these construals is catholic and evangelical, the other is liberal in its origin and heretical in its full flower (such as can be seen in the works of Bishop Spong).

It so happens that the issue of sexuality is the one which God has chosen in our time to play out these alternative construals in terms of church order and discipline. I am sure there are faithful Christians in at least three of Goddard’s four categories, but the division between them is not just over the question of homosexuality.

December 1, 6:48 am | [comment link]
11. azusa wrote:

# 10: Agreed. That’s why I said above: ‘Look up and take a truly catholic view of the Church’ - meaning a view informed by the Scriptures and the Creeds, which have been discarded or radically reinterpreted. TEC is enormously out of step with the catholic tradition of faith - and so are a few of the ‘Fulcrum’ contributors. Homosexuality is just the presenting issue du jour.

December 1, 8:03 am | [comment link]
12. Jill Woodliff wrote:

Andrew, I applaud the sincere love you have for the Communion.  However, I see the situation in simpler terms.  A wedge (multiple corporate sins) was driven into the Communion.  Until that wedge is pulled out (corporate repentance), the fracture lines will only multiply.  We don’t need analysis.  We need a call to prayer, fasting, and repentance.

December 1, 11:05 am | [comment link]
13. Connecticutian wrote:

This is not so much a critique as a personal observation…  I think the more complex taxonomy and granular fracturing of the communion simply illustrate a sad fact.  The Anglican Communion truly was a “big tent” ecclesia, and there can be great blessing in that.  But a big tent is not infinitely elastic, and some strong forces have pushed it too hard (ACC and TEC, if I’m not being clear.)  Now that they have torn the fabric of the big tent at its deepest levels, we see that what little was holding us together has been shattered: love, trust, forbearance, koinonia.  These things were all more fundamental blessings than some idealized elastic diversity, but they were sold out for a political agenda.

Now that the ties that bind have come loose, we have a bit of a free for all.  I don’t like it, but I have little choice but to find my own way in it, with like-minded travellers.

“Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered…I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ ”

December 1, 11:24 am | [comment link]
14. Freddy Richardson+ wrote:

The Reverend Doctor Stephen Noll wrote above in #10:

The main area of tension is an entire construal of the Christian faith, which covers such “core” matters as the Trinity (the Fatherhood of God), Christology (the divine Sonship of Christ), the depth of sin and the lostness of mankind, the Virgin Birth, the vicarious Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection of Christ and believers, and the Second Coming of Christ and final Judgement (Happy Advent, everyone). One of these construals is catholic and evangelical, the other is liberal in its origin and heretical in its full flower (such as can be seen in the works of Bishop Spong).

It so happens that the issue of sexuality is the one which God has chosen in our time to play out these alternative construals in terms of church order and discipline.

This is as fine and succinct a summary of the issue as we can find anywhere.  Thank you, Stephen.  This will be quite helpful as a quotation to define our current conflict for an adult Sunday School class I am offering through Advent.

December 1, 11:50 am | [comment link]
15. Neal in Dallas wrote:

Some don’t like Andrew Goddard’s analysis as cutting too fine a line in the divisions in the Communion that seem more appropriate to academic analysis than real world realities?  The real world doesn’t break down so neatly into all these disparate interest groups?

If there is not some truth to Andrew’s analysis, then why do we have so many foreign Anglican jurisdictions resident in the United States today?  Why can’t there be just one umbrella jurisdiction—or two, for those for whom women’s ordination is a defining issue—for the reasserters to take refuge under?  Why have a Common Cause at all?  Why can’t they all come under one Anglican jurisdiction for common mission and catholic order?

December 1, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
16. Connecticutian wrote:

Neal, my understanding all along has been that the united jurisdiction is a goal, but it is taking time to work out.  It’s coalescing even now.  I was just thinking of that old TV commercial tag line: “Is it soup yet?”  grin  Time will tell…

December 1, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
17. miserable sinner wrote:

Dale & others:
I agree that Canon Twinamaani’s article is very insightful.  I commend to Canon Harmon & the elves to give it its own top level link.

Peace,

December 1, 12:31 pm | [comment link]
18. Sarah1 wrote:

You know, Neal, I actually *do* think “the real world” breaks down into “disparate interest groups”?  I just think that Goddard’s listing of the disparate interest groups that the Anglican world has divided into is dead wrong and somewhat self-serving.

I do think—like you—that the multiple Anglican jurisdictions are visuals of the different “interest groups” too . . . something that I suspect that many in Common Cause are aware of privately.  Maybe someday someone will write up a taxonomy of what those interest groups are and why they have divided out into the multiple Anglican jurisdictions.

But I hope that they are accurate descriptions, unlike Goddard’s taxonomy of conservatives on the issue of homosexuality.

December 1, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
19. Leander Harding wrote:

Here is the copy of a response I have sent to Fulcrum.
Dear Friends in Christ,

I read with interest Andrew Goddard’s latest analysis of the impending realignment of Anglicanism. In the midst of the very heated exchanges on this side of the pond I appreciate the measured tones of this analysis. From my view on this side of the Atlantic there are significant realities that are not registered in this analysis. I write as a parish priest of 25 years standing in The Episcopal Church and formerly the president of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Connecticut. I am now on the faculty of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge Pennsylvania where I teach Pastoral Theology. Trinity is thought by many to be the center of a great right wing conspiracy and to be awash in funds from the family foundations of ultra conservatives. In any other place in the Anglican Communion and in any other decade the school would be seen as entirely in the mainstream of Anglicanism though particularly oriented toward evangelism and mission. I am still on the look out for the millions from the foundations but have not seen them yet.

Andrew Goddard describes four positions on homosexuality and the church. In his scheme there are two extremes. The extremes are unwilling to enter into any dialogue or reconsideration. There then are those willing to have the church enter into a period of dialogue and these are divided between those inclined to defend the traditional morality and those inclined to reinterpret it. In this country actual dialogue on this issue is nearly impossible. The actions of the General Convention and of numerous diocesan conventions since both the General Conventions of 2003 and 2006 make it clear that a majority of the leaders of a majority of the American dioceses are committed to pressing for “full inclusion” which they regard as a mandate of the Holy Spirit. There are eleven accredited seminaries of The Episcopal Church. Trinity is traditionally Evangelical, Nashotah House is traditionally Anglo-Catholic. Other than at these two schools it is very doubtful that a centrist in Goddard’s terms could get an appointment at one of our seminaries. In the majority of our dioceses it would be difficult to the point of impossibility for a candidate who was not perceived as a strong advocate for full inclusion to be elected bishop. There are very few centrists in Goddard’s terms in this country. As he notes dialogue in this country has not meant reasoned debate on theological and scientific grounds but the organizing of gatherings for the sharing of experience by people who self identify as Gay. Those who report healing from same-sex attraction, including members of the clergy are routinely excluded from these gatherings when they take place.

Among my scholarly interests is the theological significance of studies in human development. I can find very few people including previous bishops under whom I have served or more liberal colleagues in the clergy who are faintly interested in really wrestling with the scientific and psychological picture.  I have published an open letter to the bishops that participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson asking among other things for examples of the scientific literature they found convincing in coming to their decision to risk the unity of the church over this innovation. There has been no answer. I have likewise had an open challenge on my blog for the citation of an article in a peer reviewed scientific journal which argued that same-sex attraction could be understood in terms of simple biological determinism. There has been no answer, though many attacks for posing the issue. Many who are proponents of the same-sex agenda regard the asking of such questions as an example of hostile homophobia. It may be possible to describe a sort of centrist geography where the issue of same-sex attraction could be discussed by faithful members of the church with different convictions. In this country I do not see more than a handful of people in this category. The actual facts on the ground are a massive majority in the bishops and clergy (the laity are clearly more conservative but not empowered despite posturing about a democratic church) who are enthusiastically pushing for what they consider the Gospel ministry of full inclusion and a small minority who are fighting a rear guard action against the new regime.

The overwhelming reality which must be taken into consideration in order to understand the American scene is that the dispute is not primarily about the proper theological response to same-sex attraction. It is about the nature of the catholic faith. It is very hard to explain this to those who are not living in this country. TEC has not changed its formularies. The Creeds are still recited in the liturgies Sunday after Sunday. The form is there but in a very massive way the Spirit is not. I think there is a real difference here between the English and American scene. You have in England with your tradition of scholar bishops (which we once had and lost) and with the gravitas of the great Anglican theological faculties at Oxford, Cambridge, Kings and Durham, to mention a few, a kind of theological ballast that the American church does not have. Our boat has tilted to the winds of the age to such a degree that its decks are awash. You have too much ballast for this to easily happen though the example ought to be a cautionary tale.

The fight here is no longer primarily about same-sex attraction. The Gay agenda is a done deal and irreversible in the American Church. The fight here is about whether there is any authority, scriptural, traditional, ecclesial, even scientific that trumps the new idol of experience. It is widely thought here that the scriptures are intriguing cultural artifacts of the religious experience of time bound cultures but certainly nothing more than clues to how contemporary people might work out and recreate their own religion. Increasingly it has become clear that the majority who do indeed embrace a new spirit based and experienced based religion are not able to tolerate traditionalists in their midst. Religion is seen by the majority as primarily about “radical hospitality” and “inclusion” and “liberation.” Traditionalists are seen as contemporary equivalents of slave holders and betrayers of the central tenets of the new religion. I find it very hard to make a case on the basis of the revisionist theology as I understand it for the inclusion of traditionalists. Slave holders can be tolerated for strategic reasons but not for moral or theological reasons. We perhaps can be allowed as long as we do not try to extend our influence.

In this country people on both sides of the dispute are really fed up. The revisionists are really fed up with the inability of traditionalists to get with the program and the traditionalists are really fed up with the real persecution and marginalization that has become their lot. There have never been more than perhaps a dozen out of more than a hundred bishops who would allow students to attend Trinity. In the diocese of Pittsburgh it has become clear that the best hope of keeping the flock together is to move toward realignment. Otherwise parishes will continue to bleed members weekly and clergy are caught between watching their parishes fade away or leading them in breaking with TEC. 

It is certainly possible to describe an ecclesial landscape in which there is a large middle ground between extremes. In reality that middle ground does not exist in this country. In my view there can be a real place of discussion and engagement in the church over disputed issues if there is a theological consensus that is based on the catholic creeds and the authority of scripture. Establishing such a common ground is I take it the vision of the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant. Such a vision has been rejected both explicitly and implicitly by the majority leadership in this country.

The hope for the communion now is that there be a realignment of the Anglican Communion around the covenant that the Windsor Report envisions. In America there will be only a few scattered dioceses and the continuing Anglican bodies of the Common Cause Partnership that will be willing and able to sign on. The covenant process must go forward quickly if the American scene is to be saved from utter chaos.


In Christ,

Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology
Trinity School for Ministry
Ambridge PA

December 1, 12:36 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah1 wrote:

Leander Harding—thank you.

December 1, 12:56 pm | [comment link]
21. Craig Goodrich wrote:

In my philosophy of science courses many years ago, one of the basic points (repeatedly emphasized) was that a taxonomy in se is of no value unless it offers substantial insights into the nature of the phenomena being categorized.  With all due respect, Dr. Goddard’s piece not only offers no insights—useful or otherwise—into the etiology, the participants, or the possible resolution of this conflict, but rather seriously confuses and mischaracterizes all of these, sometimes in an offensively polemical fashion.

A grave disappointment.

December 1, 1:08 pm | [comment link]
22. Christopher Wells wrote:

Leander,

You wrote: “Trinity is traditionally Evangelical, Nashotah House is traditionally Anglo-Catholic. Other than at these two schools it is very doubtful that a centrist in Goddard’s terms could get an appointment at one of our seminaries.”

But I have “centrist” friends—moderate conservatives, actually—on the faculty at Berkeley at Yale and ETSS in Austin, all hired within the last few years. Seems to me the good conversations at these places often fly “under the radar” of typical “conservative” discourse in TEC, and yet they persist all the same. I also would not write off at least Virginia and Sewanee quite so quickly.

December 1, 1:10 pm | [comment link]
23. Br. Michael wrote:

I think that Fr. Harding, as usual, along with Sarah Hay have given us an accurate picture of what is going on in TEC.  I know that I am personaly in the “fed up” catagory.  And, quite frankly, as long as the AC and ABC continue to dither and offer no real hope I am “fed up” with them too.

You know, when the Titanic has sunk and you are in the water you don’t question who throws you the life ring.  Various foreign primates and bishops have done that.  It is not an organized rescue effort and it can be messy, but it is what we have now.

As far as the ACI is concerned, I am not sure what to think, but I get the impression it is asking us to paddle in the water (really cold water too) until the Titanic is re-floated and to stay away from all those life boats.  If this is correct, and I would love to be corrected on this, then I am “fed up” with them also.  If they are not going to throw me a life ring I don’t need suggestions that I tread water longer.

December 1, 1:17 pm | [comment link]
24. Passing By wrote:

Neal, #15: 

“Why can’t there be just one umbrella jurisdiction—or two, for those for whom women’s ordination is a defining issue—for the reasserters to take refuge under?  Why have a Common Cause at all?  Why can’t they all come under one Anglican jurisdiction for common mission and catholic order?”

Well, was that not the purpose of the aborted DeS Communique?  How come the international powers-that-be, starting with Rowan Williams, have not yet acted to execute the Communique, independent of the two-faced Katherine Schori?  Where does it say in the DeS document that the primates need the permission or blessing of Executive Council to act? 

I firmly believe that had that Communique and its contents been enacted by now, we would easily be able to do without all this argumentative, confrontational hubbub, and possibly the traditionals would have an alternative but COHESIVE structure. 

I’m not happy about the actions of Common Cause, but I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.  And that’s a lot of the point—-they’re DOING, not DITHERING; or, waiting about for someone else’s dithering. 

Geek in Dallas

December 1, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
25. Militaris Artifex wrote:

Dear Rev. Dr. Harding,

You wrote

I have published an open letter to the bishops that participated in the consecration of Gene Robinson asking … for examples of the scientific literature they found convincing…

and

I have likewise had an open challenge on my blog for the citation of an article in a peer reviewed scientific journal which argued that same-sex attraction could be understood in terms of simple biological determinism.

It is apparent to anyone trained in the sciences that what you have received in the form of the absence of a response is, in point of fact, a response in the negative, i.e., there is no such evidence. Further, the evidence that is there clearly indicates that it cannot be understood “in terms of simple biological determinism,” as you so aptly stated it. Anyone trained in the logic of the scientific method, and given what we currently know about biological determinism and genetics who offers those two latter up as support for the innovation, is quite thoroughly intellectually misguided, if not intellectually bankrupt. It may be the case, when viewed from a Jungian point of view, that those who do so have as their “primary function” feeling as opposed to thinking, which would argue for misguided, but that does not alter the plain and simple fact that what compelling scientific evidence there is argues against simple biological determinism.

December 1, 2:14 pm | [comment link]
26. seitz wrote:

I’m sorry to be coming to this late (or maybe not) but am working on tomorrow’s Advent 1 sermon. Can Dr Noll indicate what this is supposed to mean?

“Does it perhaps it represent ACI’s laying the groundwork for approving the ABC’s rejection of Dar and rubber-stamping of the JSC rubber-stamping of the TEC HOB?”

There is no point in responding to things whose only apparent purpose is to stir up dissension. But maybe he would like to clarify? ACI has no intention whatsoever of following the path set out here in a rather ugly and gratuitous characterisation—on several sides.

Andrew Goddard can of course speak for himself about the remarks he has prepared for Fulcrum, but I cannot see how this kind of comment serves any real purpose.

December 1, 2:26 pm | [comment link]
27. Leander Harding wrote:

In response to no 23. I am aware of some moderate theologically conservative voices at the seminaries you mention. I am unaware of any public statements that any of these academics have made on the topic of same-sex blessings etc. I do think that any academic whose views were publicly well known and who had written in opposition to the same sex agenda would be persona non gratis at these institutions. Some years ago Phillip Turner narrowly escaped being hounded out of his deanship at Berkeley when he signed the entirely moderate Ramsey manifesto. It would be good news to know that my sense of the ethos of these institutions is not accurate and to hear an affirmation by the dean and faculty of these schools that they are open to the appointment of teachers who are willing to challenge same-sex blessings on theological grounds.

December 1, 2:33 pm | [comment link]
28. Leander Harding wrote:

In response to 26. Exactly Martial Artist. But this is just exactly evidence that calls to dialog must mean something other than reasoned discourse with reference to any mutually acknowledged authorities.

December 1, 2:37 pm | [comment link]
29. Passing By wrote:

“Many who are proponents of the same-sex agenda regard the asking of such questions as an example of hostile homophobia”.

Yes, and like myself, I’m sure Dr. Harding’s questions in this regard have also been met with “Well, you’re just a bigot”. 

Dr. Noll and Dr. Harding, thank you very much for what you have written.  Dr. Harding, you, especially in this instance, have accurately summarized the chaotic American landscape. 

Liberals only want “dialogue” until people agree with them, and then they want consensus.  If you are someone who won’t go along with this, then your name is simply mud. 

Christopher Wells wrote:

‘Seems to me the good conversations at these places often fly “under the radar” of typical “conservative” discourse in TEC, and yet they persist all the same. I also would not write off at least Virginia and Sewanee quite so quickly’.

Yeah, that’s the point.  They must fly “under the radar” else they are usually met with ice, rudeness, and what I would probably refer to as reverse “bigotry”. 

I can’t speak to the climate at Sewanee.  Speak to traditional students at Virginia before you make a statement like this.  In 1996 my husband wrote a traditional contribution to the “listening process” there and the student chair of the committee round-filed it.  I would say that his experience was the same as I’ve seen Anne and Matt Kennedy describe; they probably had it worse because they attended there later than him. 

My experience and ears are only mine but it seems to me that no “orthodox” profs have been hired at Virginia as older(usually) men have either retired or died off.  It’s ok there for active homosexuals to live in seminary housing, including for the profs.  They might still tolerate more traditional people like Dr. Pritchard but that seems the exception rather than the rule.  For the students I can speak to it being another story.  The former Dean, especially, never hesitated to be snide or attempt silencing less radical/liberal voices. 

The times, they have changed, and I really do find it sad.  You’re considered a weirdo in this church if you believe what the Scriptures actually say, but you’re perfectly alright if you espouse sodomy and deny the Divinity of Christ(and a Trinitarian God) like Spong and Borg. 

To the latter I say, NO THANKS, and they can call me every name in the book, for all I care…

December 1, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
30. seitz wrote:

Dear Leander Harding—in my personal experience, as you will know, it is difficult to exist as a faculty person in institutions where the same-sex agenda is in full swing. This is because, again as you will know, in an academic institution at least a major amount of time is spent crafting and seeking to craft the faculty-mission-ethos, and so faculty searches are critical to the mission and general sense of purpose of a school. If it becomes impossible to get good faculty members elected to posts because a virtual ‘masonic pledge’ exists regarding certain issues (the most recent being the same-sex issue) one must decide what level of frustration one is prepared to live with. I had tenure at Yale during the events you mention, and here is a place where even tenure is of limited value: they may not be able to get rid of you, but you may also not be able to get colleagues you’d like in crucial areas. Here personality kicks in, because some people are better at hunkering down and doing what is possible under difficult circumstances than others, and also there is the issue of age, circumstances etc. Christopher Wells rightly describes the matter from the side of students: there was always a sizeable evangelical group at Yale, e.g., and I gather still is. But this is a three-year drill and different to the vocational challenges of a faculty person. I am often intrigued to hear on blogs a view of academic life that I simply do not recognise and that none of my catholic-evangelical colleagues do either: hiding away and writing books and watching the struggles from a distance, etc. To my mind, the academic sector had to square up to these battles long before the average episcopalian did. I do not begrudge anyone that in the least: God gives each one of us enough proper challenges to face in his strength. But you are right that the situation in academic life—especially away from the more conservative contexts—is a real challenge of its own kind. But with challenges also comes other joys as well. So our saints teach us….Best wishes to you, C S

December 1, 2:48 pm | [comment link]
31. Leander Harding wrote:

Dear Christopher,
Yes and this means that one of the key possible venues for real theological discussion in strictly theological terms has really disappeared from the American context.

December 1, 3:30 pm | [comment link]
32. Ephraim Radner wrote:

It is plausible to argue, as some have done here, that Goddard’s piece cuts too many fine points to be useful.  I, for one, do not follow all of his distinctions, and wonder if precisely the fact that there is a vital and often shifting “spectrum” of views in the “middle” of his continuum makes the attempt to specify clear areas within that middle analytically confusing. 

Having said this, however, I strongly disagree with the harsh, and in fact intellectually and ecclesially cavalier dismissal of Goddard’s serious attempt.  One aspect I find useful here is Goddard’s effort to identify divergent attitudes towards homosexuals (not, perhaps, “homosexuality”) among conservatives – something that few have sought to do in the past.  The reason this is a potentially important point – whether accurately described or not by Goddard – is that I have observed, from the beginning of this conflict and with increased vigor of late, a pulling back by many American conservatives from the more separatist energies of their colleagues, not so much or always on ecclesiological grounds, as specifically on the basis of a sense of growing discomfort with anti-homosexual rhetoric making the rounds within the dicussion. 

Noll is wrong, I believe, in claiming that the “rejectionist” attitudes Goddard outlines are figments of his imagination and projected self-justifications.  The ongoing debate, for instance, over the Nigerian Anglican Church’s support for anti-homosexual legislation involved not only statements coming from Nigeria, but also statements made by (often anonymous or pseudonymous) putative Anglican bloggers within America, that were, to say the least, in line (if not beyond it) with the comment versus Integrity quoted by Goddard in his essay.  More to the point, however, was the fact that many supporters of the theological and ecclesiological stances of Nigerian and Ugandan Anglican leaders seemed to do little to distance themselves or confront positions that contributed to this perception of inappropriate anti-homosexual attitudes.  And, yes:  I am someone who is highly uncomfortable associating myself with e.g. the Nigerian church’s political positions on this matter, believe its political and often rhetorical positions are morally wrong and in conflict with public Anglican commitments, and have myself written publicly about this. 

People can no doubt debate whether or not my evaluative views are well-founded.  But I think that Goddard is right in bringing attention to the fact that there are many American conservatives who are, frankly, put off by what they perceive to be the attitudes towards homosexual persons embodied by certain conservative African Anglican leaders, and by the equivocation in their face of their American supporters.  This is a key political dynamic that may, in part, explain why the “conservative” movement among North American Anglicans has in fact had a hard time coalescing.  Not the only reason, to be sure, but an important one. 

Goddard – at least as I read his piece – took pains to underline the fact that not all “connectional confessionalists” share – by logic or by commitment – “rejectionist” views (on his definition).  But the fact that some do is one that I agree with, and simply dismissing this fact as some of the readers here are doing raises a number of questions about “projection” all around.

December 1, 3:44 pm | [comment link]
33. Don Armstrong wrote:

And in a real sense the church itself and even some highly edited blogs have also dispappeared as venues for real theological discussion.

And it is not only the overt rejection of views and tagging of proponents, it comes as well from the rules for debate where, for example, evaluative statement are not allowed.

There is also a generational aspect to this that we have had to deal with in our praish, where different generations have different boundaries and words allowed for expressing themselves—-at Grace Church we acknowledge our generational differences, phrases, and boundaries, and we resist letting one generation’s standards tyrannize or silence another generation or even personality type. It seems to have enlivened both debate and relationships.

December 1, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
34. seitz wrote:

#32 Dear Leander—I could not agree more, and this is why, after I left Yale and went to Scotland, I tried with the help of colleagues, including yourself, to make SEAD function as a para-institutional centre for bringing non-anglican theologians (Jenson, Braaten, Hauerwas, Gunton, Torrance, Abraham et al) and their anglican counterparts (Bockmuehl, Hart, Bauckham, Begbie, Smail, Storkey, Sumner) together, so as to enrich the diminished ranks of anglican theologians, and evangelical-catholic-RC theologians (Wilken, now Reno), within esp the US. I still believe this work is important—not least for morale and also for the next generation of theological leader. Bless you in your work at Trinity. C S

December 1, 4:11 pm | [comment link]
35. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Noll is wrong, I believe, in claiming that the “rejectionist” attitudes Goddard outlines are figments of his imagination and projected self-justifications.”

But Noll didn’t claim that in the least.  In fact, Noll claimed that the distracting, extraneous, and inflammatory paragraph about mean homophobic comments—“More than half the space in this section quotes a hateful screed against homosexuals as a sentiment that is “sadly still heard”—had not been heard from traditionalist leaders that Noll had been around.

I did not see Noll claiming that the four tenets that Goddard applied to the “rejectionists” were invalid or figments of imagination—those four tenets are in general quite valid and should be applied to the vast majority of traditionalist Episcopalians, . . . as well as the descriptions that Goddard applies to reasserters!

The fact that Goddard chose to couple a nasty inflammatory screed with perfectly good theological descriptions of traditional beliefs about sexuality is . . . interesting.

I just thought it a red herring and ignored that paragraph.

December 1, 4:12 pm | [comment link]
36. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

Interesting to see this is one of three columns receiving crtical interest from UK liberals.  See for example this posted by Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans here

December 1, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
37. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Don in #34, if that is a comment aimed at this blog (and I cannot tell if it is) then it is a subject for another thread, not this one.

December 1, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
38. Robert A. wrote:

Leander Harding, thank for you for your contributions, especially #20.  Despite my tirade in #9, I also want to thank you, Sarah, and so many others for the hard work that you have all done to try and keep the good ship TEC from floundering, but I have to agree with Jill Woodliff and others: A wedge HAS been driven into the church, and until that wedge is pulled out (through corporate repentance), the fracture lines WILL only multiply.

Personally, I see no hope whatsoever that the wedge will be removed, so for me these classification ARE academic.  Their only value, as far as I can see, is in deciding which lifeboats are going to summoned to the ship-wreck. There is also the question about what responsibilities, if any, those crew members who choose to stay with the ship have in helping ensure that there will be enough.

In that respect, I think, Ephraim Radner makes a good point.  There is a need for individuals to identify which ships are providing the lifeboats, and where those ships are headed.

As someone who has been thinking about this for many, many years, I am no longer convinced that this realignment is necessarily a bad thing.  If the Anglican Communion really is a communion of somewhat autonomous churches, then in this day and age, I see little reason why it needs be based solely on national lines.  Whilst, for practical communication purposes, this may have been the model that made sense for the early church, did Jesus actually say that it had to be done this way?  It will be interesting to see which fractured reality the Anglican Communion will be willing to accept.

December 1, 4:48 pm | [comment link]
39. Don Armstrong wrote:

Kendall in #38, it was a general comment, not aimed at anyone in particular, thinking of nothing other than it happens when I was writing the comment.

The phenomenon of web censorship, in an environment where so few actually reveal their true identities, and having myself been the victim of horrible personal attacks that have gone uncensored or corrected, and then being called to task at the drop of a hat (this being a case in point) is a topic directly related to the whole issue of intellectual terrorism and censorship against conservatives in academia where they are forced to fly under the radar to get a job.

I have long been horrified over my dear friends with fine minds and good characters being rejected in favor of politically correct yet ill-qualified persons for significant posts…even some posting on this thread…

December 1, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
40. miserable sinner wrote:

Nice to see the Anglican A-Team out and blogging today.  Thanks to all for your insights.

A blessed Advent to all,

December 1, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
41. Larry Morse wrote:

Theer are several reasons why no middle ground can be created and why division is the order of both today and tomorrow. First and most obvious is the absence of leadership. We have all noted this often enough, but the problem itself hasn’t altered. Why is there no leadership? No one has answered this question at all well. It is not sufficient to say that the ABC has failed to lead. After all, in America, he has precious little authority.

  Or is the case simply that what George Will called atomistic individuality has made leadership impossible? For my part, I suspect it is the latter. Americans do not wish to be lead, since being lead implies subordinating one’s wishes and desires to a greater cause than oneself. For this reason, fads become the leadership substitute since they are ephemeral; one succumbs to their charms emotionally so that one is not lead but manipulated, and nothing is demanded of the participant.

  The second element missing from the above piece is the         perception of the Anglican crisis in the context of the broad American corrosion of former identity and the replacement that we have found.  If we could question Americans about what they trusted most completely, would not their answer be - if they gave and honest one - that they believed in science and technology? These two are the hand(s) that feed them, both literally and spiritually.  The American gospel is therefore scientism; this is the good news.  Sin is irrelevent, but salvation is possible and eternal life is actually conceivable. See here Harris, Enhancing Evolution. This man is a credible professional ethicist. He starts his chapter 4 thus:” The Holy Grail of enhancement is immortality,” and he then undertakes to show why this is both good and desirable.  He clearly thinks science can make this a genuine possibility. 

  It is true that his case is answered well and convincingly by Sandel, The Case Against Perfection, but it is unlikely that any American will pay much attention to what he says, for he promises nothing. If you said to most Americans under fifty that you were going to take away one of two things, their Bible or their cell phone, do you doubt the common answer?  The New Gospel is before your very eyes, and yet we continue to hear the arguments about the Anglican crisis made almost strictly inside the customary theological boundaries.

  My complaint about the Goddard piece, therefore, is that it ignores the overwhelming majority of the real American world.
The Anglican crises, if it is to be resolved, most be fought on a far broader cultural/political front; and it precisely here a leader is most essential and one where such a leader is most likely to be found. In short, we do not need a presidential candidate with religious credentials, we need a scientist who has political credentials and who is moved by a cultural vision of self-restraint and self- control, and who dares to speak of science as a subordinate, a servant, not a master. If I were asked where to start, I would find such a man broadly attached to environmental discipline, for it is in “green” that Americans are most likely to listen and find leadership. Larry

December 1, 7:09 pm | [comment link]
42. Stephen Noll wrote:

In response to Chris Seitz, let me just say that my original comment was a response to the caricature of those who have worked hard to reform the Communion but who have concluded that that is not possible within the current Communion structures.

As for Ephraim Radner’s references of African homophobia, let me say that I think it is appropriate for a country to have legal restrictions on sexual immorality. What does he think, and if so where does he draw the line? I suspect that with the global influence of Western mores, African societies will have to come to terms with homosexuality in a way they have not. Perhaps the churches in Africa can lead the way in societies where they stand in the gap between Islam and secularism. However, it does no good to apply the label homophobia to those who find the practice theological and culturally offensive.

Over on Stand Firm, one commenter gave a generous assessment of the work of ACI but concluded that the inside strategy has failed and was even doomed from the start. I agree with that analysis and with his generosity toward all who have applied their minds and hearts and hands to this sad but necessary krisis.

If this commenter is correct that the inside strategy has failed and was even doomed from the start, then the people who now lead Common Cause Partnership and the Global South churches were not just “troublers of Israel” but prophets and sages who saw that the “Windsor process” was at best ill-conceived and at worst intentionally deceptive. They were responders as well as initiators.

The so-called FedComs or Realigners would still, I believe, even to this moment, accept a compromise on a political level that maintained the truth of Scripture and the historic faith and the unity of the Communion. But that compromise must include repentance and reform of the Communion and certain Provinces in particular.

Perhaps in the providence of God it has been necessary for the ACI and others to make every last attempt to persuade the Archbishop of Canterbury to do what should have been done since August 1998: to see that discipline followed doctrine.

But Advent has already dawned here in the Global South. And the Second Advent may not be far away. Maranatha!

December 1, 11:21 pm | [comment link]
43. Militaris Artifex wrote:

In response to #29,
Dear Rev. Dr. Harding,
I wholeheartedly concur. My only point in posting my original comment (#26) was to make explicit the point you were making implicitly by referencing your published letter and blog challenge. I am routinely dismayed, not to mention frustrated, by the repeated appeals to a seriously mistaken or ignorant understanding of science, particularly, biology, in an attempt justify the rejection of the Church’s teaching, in spite of the actually established scientific facts concerning the true nature of the presenting issue.

I do quite strongly suspect, unfortunately if I am correct, that those of us who wish to use reason (viz., thinking, in the Jungian/Myers-Briggs sense) to address the problem are failing to grasp that we are dealing, probably predominantly, with opponents who do not decide the rightness or wrongness of questions based on reasoning, but rather on whether the conclusion they arrive at (at any particular point in the process) “feels” like the right answer. If I am correct, then there is no basis to believe that reasoned dialogue will have any chance of a fair hearing, let alone of winning the day.

December 2, 1:10 am | [comment link]
44. Dale Rye wrote:

While a number of the criticisms above seem reasonable, few seem to address Andrew Goddard’s main point, which is that it is far too simplistic to regard our current Anglican crisis/krisis as involving only two parties. I cannot agree with Stephen Noll’s description, “One of these construals is catholic and evangelical, the other is liberal in its origin and heretical in its full flower.”

There are, it seems to me, a significant number of people who are doctrinally orthodox on every point that anyone could wish, except that they are not yet convinced that it is necessary to break communion with those who would tolerate others who could accept exclusive intentionally permanent homosexual partnerships. Some of those who are close to the line on that issue are being driven into the anti-Windsor camp by rhetoric that does not seem directed at the churches’ attitude to nonmarital sexual activity but against gay and lesbian persons (and their supporters) as such. Although they are reasserters in any reasonable sense of the term, they may believe that they have more in common with moderate reappraisers than with extreme reasserters. A binary division between reappraisers and reasserters does not have room for that phenomenon.

Those in the middle are increasingly fearful of extremism on both sides. For every reasserter who is afraid that tolerating stable homosexual relationships (while not too bad in itself) would be the start of a slippery slope inevitably leading to even more objectionable forms of sexual immorality, there is a reappraiser who fears that agreeing never to consider electing a gay bishop (while not too bad in itself) is the top of a slope leading to the excommunication not only of gay laity but perhaps also of remarried divorced people, women in nontraditional roles, and others labeled morally unfit. Again, dividing the world into only black and white ignores those distinctions.

December 2, 2:29 am | [comment link]
45. Stephen Noll wrote:

Dale Rye contends:

There are, it seems to me, a significant number of people who are doctrinally orthodox on every point that anyone could wish, except that they are not yet convinced that it is necessary to break communion with those who would tolerate others who could accept exclusive intentionally permanent homosexual partnerships.

Well, Dale, that has not been my experience in the Episcopal Church. Let me explain why. In order to believe that the church can bless lifelong monogamous same-sex unions, one has to set aside the overwhelming sense of Scripture as understood across space and time. If you are going to find a way to do that, you are then free to apply the same interpretative method to other passages. For instance, the Virgin Birth of Jesus is mentioned only twice in the NT, and many scholars argue that other Evangelists do not know of it. So why not make an exception for those who choose to think that Jesus was conceived naturally and later adopted as Son of God for his great piety?

Let me turn the question around. If you accept that there are people like me who do think that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions without violating its spiritual integrity, why can’t you let me and people like me separate from those who think like you (yes, and take our church buildings with us)? Why be flexible on sexuality and rigid on ecclesiology?

December 2, 5:29 am | [comment link]
46. azusa wrote:

Again, Prof Noll has expressed the issue more adroitly than I could. What Dale Rye fails to see is that error, as much as truth, is systemic. You could call this ‘the thin end of the wedge’ and reject the worry as alarmist, but I prefer to see it as ‘the tip of the iceberg’. C’mon, Dale, haven’t you grasped by now that TEC/Ecusa theology is profoundly different in substance from catholic orthodoxy? That it is really a kind of neo-gnosticism - which grows up alongside and within orthodoxy? Do you think modern upper calss Americans can’t get fooled? (Rhetorical question.) I suppose 2nd century Christians in Gaul to whom St Irenaeus addressed his encyclicals imagined the same.
Forget for a moment your gay friends who are no douby charming, kind and in possession of many virtues I wish I had myself. Follow through the logic of this. If ‘intentionally permanent homosexual partnerships’ are acceptable in the Christian fellowship - as you seem to believe (though absent any mandate from Scripture, tradition or the councils of the Church Catholic) - then you’d better refigure pretty drastically what you mean by marriage and the family. But no need to exert yourself too much here, since secular society (especially in Europe) has already plowed that furrow before you. What kind of harvest do you think it will produce?
Take courage in both hands, Dale. Decide either for orthodoxy or revisionism.

December 2, 6:01 am | [comment link]
47. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “There are, it seems to me, a significant number of people who are doctrinally orthodox on every point that anyone could wish, except that they are not yet convinced that it is necessary to break communion with those who would tolerate others who could accept exclusive intentionally permanent homosexual partnerships. . . . Although they are reasserters in any reasonable sense of the term, they may believe that they have more in common with moderate reappraisers than with extreme reasserters.”

I know what you mean, Dale.  I know that I have more in common with “inside reasserters” than outside and those are the people I wish to be with.  Like you’ve said, and I’ve said, a lot of the decisions that will be made about where to go will be about “whom do I trust” and “whom do I wish to be with in a longer-term sense”.

But choices keep getting made.  And of course, those who are “moderates” like you will be with “moderate reappraisers” and will be ultimately unable to stem the tide of the “radical reappraisers” who—every sweet three years at GC—will institute new and gross revisions on matters that you do care about.  And of course, the truth is, the “moderate reappraisers” secretly agree with those “new and gross revisions” and their disagreements will be all about how *fast* those revisions should come.  You know . . . the standard TEC line over the past 40 years.

As I suspect that you know, the reasons why the “reappraisers” are able to make the decisions that they have about sexuality is because they have made far deeper and more significant decisions about scripture, moral practice, leadership, marriage, authority, and on and on that will serve as the foundation for their future innovations.

I expect that ultimately I will end up in the EPC . . . that is where I have cast my eye pretty consistenly after the research.

December 2, 8:55 am | [comment link]
48. Dale Rye wrote:

Re: “Dale, haven’t you grasped by now that TEC/Ecusa theology is profoundly different in substance from catholic orthodoxy?”

No.

What I have grasped is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TEC/ECUSA THEOLOGY (shout caps intentional). That in itself is a problem, but it is a rather different problem than if there were an “official” theology being imposed on everybody. San Joaquin and Fort Worth do not have remotely the same theology as Pittsburgh, so why is it so hard to believe that West Texas does not have remotely the same theology as Massachusetts? One of those theologies does not inevitably lead to the other. As I mentioned, the “thin end of the wedge” argument works both ways; giving the Global South control over North America on one issue will likely lead to additional demands that we conform on other issues.

December 2, 12:36 pm | [comment link]
49. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “What I have grasped is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TEC/ECUSA THEOLOGY . . . “

So the various votes at General Conventions—the highest legislative, public, official, formal, national Episcopal body—are mere anomalies and bagatelles, indicating precisely nothing about the theology of 108 diocesan bishops, and their dioceses’ duly elected clergy and laity as representatives?

I’m in marketing, and people like me study our audiences and markets closely.  I can assure you that were I to get an independent marketing research firm to survey the bishops, Standing Committees, deputies to convention, and clergy of all the dioceses we would come up with a composite, objective view of their theology.

We would then map the trends, and find out which were the predominant themes.

And with that, we would have the “TEC/ECUSA Theology” that for some reason some moderates wish to deny exists, in an objective and encompassing sense.

The results would not be pretty—but then, all the other less objective surveys like at the House of Bishops meetings, the General Conventions, and the Diocesan Conventions have not been very pretty either.

December 2, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
50. miserable sinner wrote:

Rev. Prof. Noll (46) & Gordian (47):
What do you believe can be viewed as αδιάφορα?  Seemingly, WO?  Remarriage after “no fault” divorce?  Women not covering their heads in church?  But not this?

Bluntly, nearly 35 years after the WO issue caused its divisions, also with opponents grounded in scripture, with the weight of tradition at least, and reason (as viewed up until that time),  now we must walk away.  Why?  For others blessing a sin?  But, blessed remarriages occur across my diocese every week.  Yet none call for separation.

BTW, I didn’t see a wholesale handing over parish property after the 1976 GC.  Or the St. Louis meeting in ‘77.  Did I miss some memos?

Further, I’m no church historian, so help me here, didn’t the Elizabethan Settlement force those who would just as soon burn the other at the stake to shut up, pray, and honor the other’s saying of the Eucharist as valid?  That used to be a virtue in the Anglican Communion.  Now apparently it is a vice.

So, get off the adiaphora train at the next station if you must but, in my anglo-catholic view unless your diocesan bishop finally approves, you should walk out alone & without the keys the communion silver. 

As for risking my soul, if I stand accused of assoicating with known publicans & sinners, I have good precedent that I’m in the right place.  Let us at least agree to pray for each other wherever we stand in our journey with Christ.

Peace & Advent blessings,

December 2, 3:54 pm | [comment link]
51. seitz wrote:

Steve Noll: ‘my original comment was a response to the caricature of those who have worked hard to reform the Communion but who have concluded that that is not possible within the current Communion structures’—fine, then stay on topic. My sense is that Advent 1 lessons ask at least that much of us.

December 2, 4:04 pm | [comment link]
52. Craig Goodrich wrote:

As for risking my soul, if I stand accused of associating with known publicans & sinners, I have good precedent that I’m in the right place.  Let us at least agree to pray for each other wherever we stand in our journey with Christ.

Certainly we are all called to help our fellow prostitutes, publicans, and even tax collectors in our journey with Christ.  But, for the 4,729th time, the issue is not whom we join with on our journey, it is what to do about those who are enthusiastically promoting a distorted and misleading map of the journey, which will impede us all in progressing towards the goal.

It would be such a pleasure to read a thread anywhere into which no reappraiser dragged in this well-worn red herring; it’s gotten very old and has long since begun to stink.

December 3, 12:42 am | [comment link]
53. miserable sinner wrote:

Craig Goodrich/#53:
TILT.
Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.  As a ComCon, I’m not reappraising anything.  Just trying to find out from some smart folks why they think the Elizabethan Settlement has to die here and now. 

Peace & good night,

December 3, 1:25 am | [comment link]
54. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: ” . . . didn’t the Elizabethan Settlement force those who would just as soon burn the other at the stake to shut up, pray, and honor the other’s saying of the Eucharist as valid?”

Well, no, actually it did not.

December 3, 9:35 am | [comment link]
55. miserable sinner wrote:

Well, no, actually it did not.
To all:
Please point to scholarship that can help me mend the error of my ways.

Peace,

December 3, 10:06 am | [comment link]
56. Sarah1 wrote:

MS . . . no time.  You’ll have to do your own research, or continue in ignorance, I suppose—it makes no odds to me.

As Mr. Bennett said to one of his flightly daughters . . . “Ignorance shall be my punishment.”

December 3, 10:39 am | [comment link]
57. miserable sinner wrote:

I said “to all” for a reason. 

I think my flippant gloss of the Act of Uniformity holds more truth than some are willing to admit.

Good day,

December 3, 10:52 am | [comment link]
58. The Anglican Scotist wrote:

Dale,
You say “What I have grasped is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TEC/ECUSA THEOLOGY”, but that seems manifestly false, even incredible. For at least 20 yrs in the U.S., and for much longer if one is willing to include liberalizing elements in UK Anglo-catholicism and pre-WWII US modernism, western Anglicans have been carefully articulating a theology in which the Gospel has been in fact received: e.g. the work of Holmes, Westerhoff, Griffiss, McIntosh & even Williams forms a working matrix of thought on which almost everything TEC’s leadership does is based.

It may be that Noll is much closer to the truth in identifying a theology—a definite body of thought; and he raises the next natural question too: Is that thinking compatible with orthodoxy—even narrowly conceived orthodoxy focused on the Quad?

Personally, I’d say TEC’s theology was designed defensively, as if logical positivists and demythologyzing existentialists would always remain with us. Those opponents are pretty much gone though, and in the atmosphere of Lindbeck, Frei, and Childs, the concerns of that theology must seem like an outdated overreaction now threatening to give up too much gropund in the name of a defense no longer needed.

December 3, 12:57 pm | [comment link]
59. The Anglican Scotist wrote:

Note well too: realignment will NOT make TEC’s working theology go away. The hard work remains of forging a new, alternative framework equal to the sophistication of the postliberal/canonical movement. Without something coherent and convincing: feet of clay.

December 3, 1:00 pm | [comment link]
60. seitz wrote:

Just for clarification, please. Is the outmoded TEC theology you speak of associated in your assessment with ‘the work of Holmes, Westerhoff, Griffiss, McIntosh & even Williams’? Do you mean, again in your language, that this was ‘designed defensively, as if logical positivists and demythologyzing existentialists would always remain with us’? Having worked closely with the three people you mention, I am curious how your effort at taxonomy proceeds. I would myself see R Williams as far more historically adroit than any of the people you associate him with, which usually means that someone with his historical skills can also learn—the essay he wrote in the Stanton voume on wisdom showed a Williams, e.g., able to take on board that his own Oxbridge exposure to Biblical studies was pretty limited, and that there needed to be further work. I doubt you would have gotten that kind of concession out of the others you mention.

December 3, 2:35 pm | [comment link]
61. The Anglican Scotist wrote:

Well, no argument that Williams is in a different and better class that Holmes, et al. But—in my opinion—Williams has been misled by the late DZ Philips, Rhees and Wittgenstein, to the point where his theological “orientation” is very much up for grabs (see some fo this crap in his Wrestling With Angels). There’s absolutely nothing historicallly adroit about his flirtation with the Wittgensteinian wing of Phil-Religion: Talk about revision!

And so some of his work is simply at sea, no matter how articulate. For instance: how can anyone be happy with the ending of his essay on reading Scripture from On Christian Theology? It’s a little late, and rather late for so little, no? Still, he is an Affirming Catholic, i.e. liberal Anglo-catholic, whatever that means now.

Whatever ground Holmes, et al gave up (and they gave up alot of ground), they remained as true as they could be to the Incarnation, a la Maurice. That is surely too little for you, and you might insist Holmes et al do not really understand the Incarnation, having sundered it from Substitutionary Atonement, say. But—for instance—Holmes took it seriously enough to reprove Tillich and Westerhoff to forbid CWOB.

There is the thread to pull on: What are the necessary conditions for retaining the Incarnation?

December 3, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
62. The Anglican Scotist wrote:

Or, in other words: Holmes et al thought they were doing enough to defend against the high tide of positivism and existentialism by giving up the fields and retreating, walling in a version of the Incarnation: not realizing that tide was receding, and that there were still more radical parties already within the gates who lacked even nostalgia for orthodox Christology.

They would proabably have turned to the Anglican right and said “By failing to defend vs positivism, and finding a defensible line by retreating to the high ground,  etc you are failing to hand on the faith.” It turned out perhaps much of their retreat was a bit premature.

December 3, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
63. seitz wrote:

I think Williams’ essays on canon and performance, etc, are weak. I was heartened to see him doing reassessment. But I betray my own canonical convictions…

December 3, 4:20 pm | [comment link]
64. miserable sinner wrote:

The Rev. Prof. Harding’s somewhat on point paper to my broad question about the Elizabethan Settlement. Bishop Sauls and Anglicanism - Rev’d Dr. Leander Harding

http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php/weblog/comments/bishop_sauls_and_anglicanism/

“It is true that the use of the book was accepted as adequate subscription to the doctrine and that there was an English unwillingness to engage in inquisitorial investigations. It is true that rubrics were constructed in such a way as to allow for a range of churchmanship.”

“To say that the classic prayer books of Anglicanism define an Anglican way that is agnostic with regard to doctrine beggars the imagination. How can it be that Reformation people in the end established a system that was indifferent to the doctrines over which the Reformation was fought and for which our worthiest divines gave their lives? It is interesting that the history we are given by Bishop Sauls never mentions the 39 Articles. It was not possible to exercise any office in the Church of England without signing these articles. If you want to appeal to the Elizabethan settlement you must surely appeal to the Articles as well, for it is the Articles that give the context in which the Prayer Book is to be used.”

OK, anyone want to start with Article 26?

Peace from an alleged ignoramous,

P.S. My other research has shown I might have been more historically accurate if I said “beheaded/drowned/exiled” in 51 above.  grin

December 3, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
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