A Statement from Gene Robinson

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With regard to the Issuance of Invitations to the Lambeth Conference, 2008
May 22, 2007


It is with great disappointment that I receive word from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I will not be included in the invitation list for the Lambeth Conference, 2008. At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a “listening process” on the issue of homosexuality, how does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion? Isn’t it time that the Bishops of the Church stop talking about us and start talking with us?!
While I appreciate the acknowledgement that I am a duly elected and consecrated Bishop of the Church, the refusal to include me among all the other duly elected and consecrated Bishops of the Church is an affront to the entire Episcopal Church. This is not about Gene Robinson, nor the Diocese of New Hampshire. It is about the American Church. It is for The Episcopal Church to respond to this divide-and-conquer challenge to our polity, and in due time, I assume we will do so. In the meantime, I will pray for Archbishop Rowan and our beloved Anglican Communion.



Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Primary Source-- Statements & Letters: BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsLambeth 2008

70 Comments
Posted May 22, 2007 at 10:43 am

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1. Philip Snyder wrote:

Your election and consecration was an affront to the entire Anglican Communion.  This is not about the American Church, it is about what does it mean to live in communion and what are the limits of authority within that communion.  Does the Episcopal Church (or the Anglican Communion for that matter) have the authority to bless that which scripture says is not blessed but is sin?  Just because we pass something by a majority in both houses, does it make it true?  Can TECUSA vote that the Trinity is just an outmoded concept of the nature of God and that God is really only on (Modalism) or is really three (Arianism) or is really N (some number to be included in the future)?  Can we say that the physicall resurrection is not important and still be in communion with a worldwide body?

We were asked to not bless same sex unions and not to ordain practicing homosexuals several times before 2003 and we didn’t listen.  Our own General Convention said that we should not decide this issue on our own in 1991 and we didn’t listen.  Lambeth 1998 said that homosexual sex was not something that we should bless and we didn’t listen.  I ask you, Bishop Robinson, when are we going to start listening to anything except our own desires?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 11:19 am | [comment link]
2. Chris wrote:

Phil, surely you know by now that in the bizzaro world of ECUSA, the GC trumps anything that Lambeth or the GS Primates comes up with….

May 22, 11:25 am | [comment link]
3. Phil wrote:

What he said.

No, Mr. Robinson, the Anglican Communion is not all about you.

May 22, 11:25 am | [comment link]
4. robroy wrote:

The non-invitation of Bp Minns seems like a childish tit-for-tat consolation prize for the very childish TEc. Would Bp Minns have been invited if he had been ordained but not installed (as if installation has any real import)?

Non serviri, sed servire.

May 22, 11:26 am | [comment link]
5. Rev. J wrote:

It is not an affront to the whole EC, but only to those who voted for you Bishop Robinson.  I think that may be the point.  Had you listened to the rest of the Anglican Communion, and indeed to the ABC himself, the entire Anglican Communion in the world would be at a different place than it is today.  I know you believe that the GC trumps Scripture, but not everyone believes that, especially not a majority of the Anglican Communion.

May 22, 11:33 am | [comment link]
6. chips wrote:

From a PR standpoint - the Bishop would have been well advised to have another Bishop make the comments that it is not about him that he made. Though when one becomes the personification of a cause it does become hard to differentiate the two.  His comments do however seem to belie his repeated claims that he is just the Bishop of NH and not the “gay Bisho”.

May 22, 11:35 am | [comment link]
7. Philip Snyder wrote:

With 1988 (or was it 1998), Lambeth stopped inviting all bishops, but only invited bishops with jurisdiction (Ordinaries and Coadjutors).  So, unless Minns had been installed as the bishop of a diocese, he would not have been invited. 

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 11:36 am | [comment link]
8. flabellum wrote:

Surely the question is, how does CANA get recognised as a fully functioning constituent part of the Anglican Communion? How does it differ from the Convocation of American Churches in Europe (which overlaps with the CofE Diocese in Europe)?

Cor ad cor loquitur

May 22, 11:38 am | [comment link]
9. Bob G+ wrote:

While I do not think this is an affront to the whole Episcopal Church, as Bishop Robinson asserts, I also do not think that his consecration was an affront to the entire Anglican Communion, as Phil asserts.

Many within the Anglican Communion are not opposed to what the American Church did.  Many others may not have like it at all, but are not going to expel the Americans from the Communion.  Many others are absolutely opposed and are seeking the expulsion of the American Church and its replacement with another.  When push comes to shove, which is about to happen, we will see which position prevails.  It isn’t a slam-dunk, as many thought not too long ago.

Extravagant pronouncements, whether from Gene or from Phil, don’t help.

May 22, 12:04 pm | [comment link]
10. Chris wrote:

Bob G, while “many” (a very subjective term) did not oppose what the American Church did, millions *more* did.  Please don’t either discount that or lose sight of it.

May 22, 12:10 pm | [comment link]
11. Bob G+ wrote:

flabellum -

The CoE and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe work in conjunction with one another.  Both fully recognize each other’s bishops and churches, and if I am not mistaken now jointly plan where churches are located and join together in mission.

What is going on within the U.S. between TEC and AMiA and now CANA is not at all the same kind of thing.

May 22, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
12. Bob G+ wrote:

Chris -

Yes, “many” is quite subjective.  What do you mean by “millions?”  Because a primate of a province is adamant in his opposition to Robinson or TEC, that does not mean that all those under his domain (other bishops, priests, deacons, lay people) are also opposed.  I know several bishops and others who have traveled throughout Africa, Latin America, and Asia who have talked with clergy and lay people of those provinces who are not opposed to Robinson, and those who don’t like it but believe that he is not a Communion breaker, and of course those who are absolutely in line with their primates’ opposition.

As I said above, extravagant statements made by any of us does not help the situation.  I do believe more are opposed to Robinson’s consecration than are in favor of it, but when all is said and done I do not believe that more consider this issue THE issue that should destroy the Communion or necessitates the expulsion of the American Church from the Communion - despite the pronouncements and protestations of primates.

May 22, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
13. Bob G+ wrote:

By the way, I really like not having to do the math!!!  grin

May 22, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
14. the snarkster wrote:

To +Gene and all the other TECusaCORP bishops love the Anglican Communion:
If you love the Anglican Communion so much, why are doing your best to destroy it?

the snarkster

May 22, 12:29 pm | [comment link]
15. Hursley wrote:

Would I be right in thinking that this marks the beginning of the formal “TEC separation end-game?” It seems likely that many in TEC’s leadership will boycott the next Lambeth now, perhaps even setting up an alternate “enlightened” council (shades of the Second Council of Ephesus?) to officially usher in The Episcopal Communion. I am glad Archbishop Williams has acted as he has; I pray daily for the faithfulness and unity of the Church, but I also believe current leadership (as expressed in VGR’s statement at the head of this thread) is deeply invested in a “full speed ahead” approach to separation and a self-righteous certainty that the course we have taken is an infallibly right course.

May 22, 12:39 pm | [comment link]
16. GrannieKay wrote:

My personal view, is that by not inviting Bishop Minns, it is a side step to a slap in the face to Bishop Akinola.  There is no reason for Minns to not be invited. I can see the AMiA, they are considered a Continuing Church, But Minns is a full fledged Bishop of Nigeria and Nigeria is in full communion with the ABC, ( at this time).  I wonder how kindly Nigeria will take to this snub.

May 22, 1:16 pm | [comment link]
17. David+ wrote:

If Robinson thought the Anglican Communion “beloved,”  he would not have allowed his consecration to go forward and create chaos in the Communion in the first place.  This is an example of his actions speaking far louder than his words! 
And many of us do not consider him a bishop at all as he was unqualified to stand for election because of his lifestyle.  I consider his consecration to be null and void.  Yes, he holds canonical power in New Hampshire but no spiritual or sacramental authority in my book. 
Bishop Minns is another matter all together and I hope the Archbishop changes his mind regarding him.

David+

May 22, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
18. Jon wrote:

One of the many problems with VGR’s post is that he assumes that criticism of him is criticism of gay people.  He writes:

“It is with great disappointment that I receive word from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I will not be included in the invitation list for the Lambeth Conference, 2008. At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a “listening process” on the issue of homosexuality, how does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion?”

No, the ABC is not excluding “gay people” from anything—he’s excluding from Lambeth a specific man who by his 2003 defiance of the pleading of most Anglicans worldwide deeply fractured the Anglican communion.

PS.  A minor point: I am getting really tired of this PC mantra “gay and lesbian.”  PC people get into a mode of saying it mindlessly, even when it makes no sense.  Its only possible meaning is to refer to both male and female homosexuals: but in this case VGR is claiming that his exclusion is an example of excluding a “gay and lesbian person.”  Is VGR claiming to be a lesbian too?  It’s even funnier when PC apparachiks refer to a single person as being “LGBT”: i.e. that this one person is a woman homosexual, a male homosexual, a bisexual, and a person who wants to be a different gender than he or she was born as—all at the same time.

May 22, 1:39 pm | [comment link]
19. Bob G+ wrote:

AMiA is under the authority of the Primate of Rwanda, as I understand it.  How is it different than CANA, other than I don’t know to what extent the Rwandan Church views AMiA as an “arm"of itself?

May 22, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
20. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob G. (#9) - what do you think the Primates (including +Griswold) meant by stating that if the Robinson consecration goes forward then it will “tear the fabric of the communion at its deepest levels.”  I take that pretty seriously.  To me it indicates that Robinson’s consecration was an affront to the entire communion.  If Robinson truly desired to remain part of the Anglican Communion, then he would have stepped aside and asked that his consecration not go forward until the communion comes to a different point.

In my own life, there have been times that I have been tempted to do something that I felt strongly about.  When I was informed of the consequences of my actions on either my family or my congregation or my company, I reconsidered.  Being told that being ordained would tear the communion apart would give me pause to reconsider my ordination. 

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 1:54 pm | [comment link]
21. VaAnglican wrote:

I know a lot of my conservative brethren are in sackcloth and ashes about the ABC’s invitations, but take a breather and consider:
1.  This now forces TEC into a position of abandoning their “new thing” or boycotting Lambeth—and effectively removing themselves from the Communion.  To the degree it prompts a reply before 30th September, all the better, as it then may also preclude the Primates from having to do what TEC does to itself—or put them in position of merely responding to intemperance on TEC’s part. 
2.  It still leaves open the possibility that the ABC will withdraw invitations; even if not so many as we’d like, that would still divide TEC bishops, and many then would effectively be choosing between Canterbury and 815.  Some WINO (Windsor-In-Name-Only) bishops (Howard, for example) would then have to declare themselves, wouldn’t they?
3.  The Minns disinvitation is a distractor: he’s not a diocesan bishop.  Ditto for AMIA.  It was perhaps necessary to keep the ABC looking balanced, and set TEC up as those who divide the Communion.  In the end it will have little effect, and no effect on the legitimacy of CANA as a branch of Nigeria.  It is not enough to keep TEC from reacting badly. 
4.  Could we have possibly hoped for a better statement from VGR?  Now he has put TEC in a position of HAVING to boycott or else abandon him and all like him.  Surely the conspiratorial IRD must have paid him for that statement!
5.  If TEC keeps its counsel until 30th September (unlikely), the Primates are in no way weakened by this.  The ABC has by reducing the import of Lambeth actually strengthened their importance (whether intentionally or not).  He has left open the possibility of withdrawing invitations. 

In short, I think he has given a wonderful bit of rope to TEC with which they can fashion a noose.  It’s far too early to say the sky is falling.  Just wait and see how TEC reacts before getting depressed.

May 22, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
22. Brian from T19 wrote:

VaAnglican

The Minns disinvitation is a distractor: he’s not a diocesan bishop.  Ditto for AMIA.

Actually Canon Kearon addresses this and basically removes any doubt that CANA or AMiA are a part of the Anglican Communion - they are irregular ordinations and are not a part of the Anglican Communion.  Perhaps VaContinuingAnglican is more inorder;)

The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that <u>interventions are not to be sanctioned</u>. - Archbishop Rowan Williams

May 22, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
23. Scotsreb wrote:

#18, You’re correct .... it is puzzling how the PC crowd lump ‘em all together as LGBT.

Now, if a person thinks of himself as both a male and a lesbian, then wouldn’t they like women?

May 22, 2:10 pm | [comment link]
24. Bob G+ wrote:

David+

The bishop that ordained me priest was approved for seminary and Holy Orders.  After finishing seminary, his bishop informed him that he would not be ordained because the diocese was not ready for “someone like him.”  He is black.  He had to wait until a new bishop was consecrated to be ordained.

Just step back for a moment, and just for a moment put aside the sin issue regarding homosexuality (if possible), should the first black man ordained a bishop have removed himself from being ordained because at that time a whole boat-load of people had a real problem with blacks as bishops?  Should integration not have happened because the vast majority of people didn’t approve of it?

If the criterion for not letting oneself be consecrated a bishop when duly elected is that too many people “have a problem with it,” then we would still not have women or blacks or any number of other kinds of bishops, including gay ones.  The first black person, the first woman consecrated bishop surely thought the Communion “beloved,” yet they went ahead.  Should they not have?  Particularly concerning women, many people left the Church, then.  Women bishops are still not accept even in England.

Now, I do know that most people believe homosexuality is a sin, so when that aspect is brought in it changes the equation, but saying that Robinson should have not allowed himself to be consecrated because too many didn’t like it is being disingenuous.  It says nothing about whether he thought the Communion “beloved” or not.

Some people would not take communion from a black man;  some people won’t take communion from a woman;  some people won’t take communion from a gay man.  Who is next?  Well, we know that some people won’t take communion from another clergyperson because they don’t believe in pre-millennial dispensationalism or certain concepts of the atonement.  And it goes on and on, a clear picture of our arrogant and fallen nature.

May 22, 2:20 pm | [comment link]
25. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Scotsreb [#23], sounds like you too have heard that lesbian cowboy joke?

The First Commandment requires us to face the facts as best we can — to deal with the universe as God wrought it, not as we wish it were. (My blog: The Questioning Christian)

May 22, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
26. VaAnglican wrote:

Brian (at 22):  Your conclusion is debatable, but I’m not sure Canon Kearon is your best authority, given his admitted distance from the Archbishop and his record of putting a gloss on things that is plainly not consistent with Canterbury’s.  I’m not sure even what he said, though, goes so far as to declare CANA and AMiA as “not part of the Anglican Communion.”  And DES—which Cantaur supported—would certainly seem to state otherwise.

May 22, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
27. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil (#20) -

I remember reading when the “tear the fabric of the communion” first came out that people within the same group that issued the statement had different interpretations of what that phrase actually meant.  I wish I had all the stuff at my fingertips, but I don’t.

I think part of the problem then, and now with the differences of opinion concerning KJS’s actions/commitments at the last Primates Meeting, is an indication that people from very different cultures and real differences in the usage of the English language are not rightly understanding one another.

See my #24 considering whether Robinson should have bowed out or not.  Yet, I certainly understand your last paragraph, and frankly, I generally agree with it.

May 22, 2:43 pm | [comment link]
28. Jon wrote:

A very helpful post (#24) by Bob G.  Thanks.

This is a difficult and important problem to wrestle with.  To what extent does a person who has a correct (in his mind) progressive theology need to counterbalance his need to be “right” against his need not to wound those Christian brothers he believes are less “advanced”?  The first thing we should do in all cases is turn to the Bible and see if it addresses this.  And actually it does!  St. Paul addresses this very question in the question of how the progressives in Corinth are (correctly) perceiving that there is nothing wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols, and yet he tells them to abstain anyway because it is deeply wounding their brothers who don’t share their opinion.

I am not saying that this settles the matter, but it’s worth pointing out that there is a Biblical Pauline argument that has been made to the gay lobby which accepts (for the sake of argument) that their theology is “correct”—but points out that pushing it in 2003 the way they did at that time, in definace of the rest of the world pleading with them, was uncharitable and indeed cruel, and that if they truly wanted to act in self-sacrificial love (the way of the cross) they would have not insisted on their “rights.”

May 22, 2:49 pm | [comment link]
29. Rolling Eyes wrote:

Bob G+, are you seriously trying to compare racial equality and the churches teaching/attitudes towards homosexuality?  How funny!  By funny, I mean tired and mindless.

You have fallen for the lies of modernism and of TEC.  This is not a political organization.  Our beliefs are not up for votes or dependent upon popular opinion.  If you cannot recognize that the Whole of scripture teaches that practicing homosexuality is against the very nature of God and how He has revealed himself to us, then you aren’t worthy of the “+” next to your name.  If you really think that polity trumps historic, tried and true, church teaching, then you need to quit playing church and run for office.

Just sayin’...

May 22, 2:56 pm | [comment link]
30. Bob G+ wrote:

John (#28) -

And this why I am now an Anglican - we can wrestle with this stuff without casting one another into outer darkness or gnashing our teeth at one another.  Well, some of us can, anyway.

And, this is one reason why I left the tradition I grew up in, despite the very positive aspects of it, because there is no room for discussions about controversial topics without being castigated.

May 22, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
31. Bob G+ wrote:

Rolling Eyes (#29) -

I never said anything about comparing the ontological aspects of race, sex, or orientation.  I posted about the argument that one should not allow oneself to be consecrated a bishop because lots of other people have problems with it.  I used examples of my ordaining bishop (a black man), women bishops, and a gay bishop concerning that argument.  It is a different thing than comparing the conditions of race, sex, and orientation.

You fell into the trap of assumption, and you know what assuming does you and me, right?  We all make too many assumptions about the intent of other’s actions, the condition of their hearts, and whether God looks down and knows them as one of His Children or not.  It is a very bold statement you make - the “Whole of scripture.”  Methinks you are a bit over extended (see my post above - #9 - about extravagant pronouncements).

May 22, 3:26 pm | [comment link]
32. The_Elves wrote:

Scotsreb & DC, we’re busy with blog admin and not doing much comment moderation.  But your comments don’t seem very helpful to the thread.  Please don’t continue this line of discussion.

—elfgirl

Got questions about T19? E-mail us! .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

May 22, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
33. Rolling Eyes wrote:

Rob G+, you are incorrect.  I’m not overextended, and I’m not assuming anything about what you wrote.  To place the importance on whether or not it would upset people is besides the point.  Whether or not the issue goes against Scripture, Tradition, and Reason:  That should be the test.

And, yes, the “whole of scripture”.  You can think that’s a reach all you want, but you’d be wrong. 

Oh, and I love this one:  “And this why I am now an Anglican - we can wrestle with this stuff without casting one another into outer darkness or gnashing our teeth at one another.”

More nonsense.  Since when does being Anglican mean that you can question anything (sexuality, the Nature of Christ, etc.)?  That whole presumption is a lie.

Just sayin’...

May 22, 4:23 pm | [comment link]
34. Bob G+ wrote:

Rolling Eyes -

What does being an Anglican mean to you?  How is being an Anglican different from being an Evangelical, a Roman Catholic, a believer in Reformed Theology?

All one has to do is read Anglican history to understand that there has always been questioning and debate and argument and disagreement, yet common prayer (well, and also groups breaking away).  What was the Elizabethan Settlement if not the imposition of a means of sharing “common prayer” even in the midst of great conflict over theology, authority, and Scriptural interpretation and application?

We are in such a time, again, and like then there are extreme forces on both sides of the issue (then, the Puritans and Roman Catholics; today, different groups) who demand their way or the highway.  Will Anglicanism prevail?  I certainly hope so.

May 22, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
35. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob G+
I don’t know what, if any, Greek you took in formation for ordination, but I learned that “schism” means to “tear the fabric.”  From what I understand from my bishop, schism is what the Primates meant in October 2003.  I don’t know how you could put a different meaning on “tear the fabric” than one where fellowship is broken.
I also don’t think that differences in how the English langguage is used are at the root of +Griswold’s and +Shori’s interpretations of what they signed/agreed to from +Akinola’s or +Orombi’s interpretation of what they signed/agreed to.  I think there is a level of obfuscation present designed by one party or another to sound like agreement when there is not agreement.

I still say that it looks like +Robinson was advancing an agenda rather than acting on behalf of the Church or acting to bring unity to the Church.  A wise man once said:  “By their fruits you shall know them.”  What are the fruits of +Robinson’s consecration?  Is the Kingdom of God advanced?  Is unity in the Church increased?  Is peace in the world increased?  Is the witness of the church enhanced?  Are more people brought into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? 
I see the fruits of this action to be anger, rancor, schism, and hatred.  Reappraisers and reasserters both are getting angrier and angrier each time a statement is being made.  This sounds more like the work of the Devil (not that Robinson or reappraisers are the Devil - it is all too easy to do what seems to be good when it is really evil or to evil for what seem to be good reasons) than it does the work of the Spirit. 
YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 4:47 pm | [comment link]
36. Anonymous Layperson wrote:

What Williams is doing here is very inconsistent IMO.  It is “ok” to vote in favor of openly gay non-celibate bishops.  You get an invitation.  But it is not “ok” to actually be an openly gay non-celibate bishop.  You don’t get an invitation.

May 22, 4:49 pm | [comment link]
37. Philip Snyder wrote:

Rob G+
Being Anglican means to uphold the history Faith of the Church within a wide freedom of expression.  Currently, the moral teaching of the Church is that homosexual sex is outside of God’s design for us.  This is what the Church has always taught concerning homosexual sex.  There is now a small, but vocal, group within the Church catholic that desires to change that teaching. 
It is up to the people who want change to give reasons the rest of the communion accepts before acting on that change.  Before women were ordained to the priesthood, the ACC met (1968) and determined that women’s ordination would not be a communion breaking issue.  Before african-americans were ordained, the communion had ordained several men of color - just not in the United States, so there was no communion issue of ordaining people with darker skin than your average Englishman.

However, before we ordained Bishop Robinson, the Communion said (through the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the ACC and the Primates meeting) that we should not do this.  In fact, TECUSA said that we shouldn’t do make this decision on our own in 1991.  Like typical American’s we did not listen to anyone when we did it.  We did what we wanted to do because we wanted to do it.  We did not care what the consequences of the action were.  When will we start the listening process?  When will we listen to anyone but ourselves and those whom agree with us?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
38. Jon wrote:

Hi Bob G (#30, #35).  I am enjoying hearing your thoughts, and the calm and charitable way you are willing to talk to people who may largely not be in your camp.

Something that will help me a lot—related to this question you raise about common praxis (practice) being the thing that unites us as Anglicans, as opposed to common belief—is if you can let us know whether there are ANY doctrines that you feel should unite all Anglicans.  There are a number of prominent Episcopalians, for example, who don’t believe in the Empty Tomb, or Original Sin, or the Trinity, and so on.  I am thinking of Spong, Borg, etc.  I am also thinking (with great regret) of +KJS, who has conducted media interviews in which she is suggested that the Atonement and the Afterlife are dispensable doctrines.  Do you feel that these people are simply outside basic Anglican doctrinal teaching?  If so, it means (and I will be delighted to hear you affirm it) that there is more than just praxis that binds us together, but there are also lines in the sand you draw regarding doctrine as well.

May 22, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
39. Jon wrote:

Note to Phil Snyder: your comments throughout this thread seem to me measured, thoughtful, and right on target.  Thanks.

You write:

“I also don’t think that differences in how the English langguage is used are at the root of +Griswold’s and +Shori’s interpretations of what they signed/agreed to from +Akinola’s or +Orombi’s interpretation of what they signed/agreed to.  I think there is a level of obfuscation present designed by one party or another to sound like agreement when there is not agreement.”

I am sad to say it but I agree 100% here.  And (although I am a traditionalist) there is also starting to be a lot of reappraiser voices who are saying something similar, namely a call for clarity.  For honesty.  If you are planning to officiate at Robinson’s consecration (PB Griswold) then don’t lead the rest of the primates (in private talks) to believe you are going to try to avert it.  Just tell them boldly and honestly “I am a strong supporter of gay marriage and I want to see TEC move in this direction, no matter what you think.”  Say it.  Likewise, +KJS, if you plan to go back to the US and denounce the very document you signed, encourage the HOB to reject its provisions, and escalate your policy of legal action against dissenting parishes, then for God’s sake be honest and say that back in Tanzania and don’t sign it!  There are hardline liberals who are saying the same thing: a call for honesty.

May 22, 5:15 pm | [comment link]
40. Bob G+ wrote:

Concerning differences in the use and understanding of the English language:  I spent a good number of years working with college students both in the U.S. and in Europe.  I have worked with native English speakers from North American, Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Whether anyone wants to believe this or not, the way we use the language, understand the meaning of different words, and how we apply those words/meanings are often times quite different.  Heck, there is a differences between the way Southerners (of which my entire extended family is) and Northerners (where I grew up) use certain words and phrases - not only that, but Northerners from the Upper Midwest, Great Lake States, and New England have differences.  This just is, and if we are not careful we will make all kinds of assumptions about what is said and what is meant.

I don’t know whether these kinds of misunderstandings have taken place or not, but frankly I have no reason to believe that KJS or Akinola are lying.  People can presume all kinds of things about the intent of both (or anyone), but I will leave the judging to God in this instance, and just say my hope is that there will clear definitions of words, intents, and expectations from here on out.  We know there is a problem, so lets work to fix it.  I’ve had to do this a whole lot when working with students from very different cultures, even when speaking the same language.

May 22, 6:13 pm | [comment link]
41. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil (#36) - as I said, I wish I had the examples of the different interpretations of what “tearing the fabric of the communion” meant, but I don’t.

John (#39) -  I think the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is sufficient for Anglicans.  Personally, I am fairly traditional in my theology, with a couple exceptions that will strain this assertion in many people’s minds.  I might be more inclined to fall within the Sojourners type of American-Evangelicalism, or Affirming Catholicism, or the Emergent Church conversation.  Regardless of how I might label myself (or how others might label me), I consider myself one who seeks Truth.  I believe Truth begins with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Jesus.  I believe Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation and is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity.  I also believe that humans have a history (millennial) that has proven that we gets most things wrong most of the time - we are fallible and sinful and selfish and wrong most of the time.  That God for his grace and mercy!

This is why I find within Anglicanism a home.  I know people who have terribly different theological positions than I do, but I see in them the Fruit of the Spirit and by their testimony they desire God’s Truth as much as it do.  As Romans 2:1 stresses, I will leave the judging to God and strive to know Truth with anyone who wants to wrestle with it all.  Let God be true and every man a lier.  What is required of us?  To love mercy, to do justly and to walk humbly with our God.  To take care of the widow and orphan and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world.  What are the commandments of Jesus?  To love God with everyone and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  A pretty high calling!

These are some things I think are essential for attitudes, believes,  and affirmations for Anglicans - but other Anglicans will have different lists.  I find these things in our history.

May 22, 6:19 pm | [comment link]
42. Bob G+ wrote:

John - I’m not sure KJS denounced the Primates’ statement, nor do I think she encouraged the HOB to reject it.  Everything I’ve heard/read from her suggests that there are parts she was uncomfortable with, just like there were compromises from the CAPA primates on parts of the communique that they were uncomfortable with.  It was a compromise document - no one got what they would have ideally liked.

From what I know, she explained to the other primates that she would take the document back with her to the HOB, but that she did not have the authority to unilaterally commit this Church to the document.  She doesn’t.  Her authority is not like Akinola’s and other primate’s authority.

Again, we need to be careful with our language (and I am speaking to myself, first of all).  We are all prone to exaggeration and statements of assumption rather than fact.  This kind of thing has not and will not help us, whether coming from Robinson, KJS, Rowan, Akinola, or any of us here.

May 22, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
43. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob G - I agree with you that human beings have a long and storied history of “missing it.”  They get things wrong all the time.  That is why I believe tradition is so important when it comes to things like the nature of God and the content of His self-revelation.  I know that I get things wrong.  I know that my small group gets things wrong.  Therefore, I know that there is great wisdom in following what the Church has taught since its beginning.  The Church could have been wrong all along on this issue.  I will grant that.  However, we should give great weight to what it is teaching and why it is teaching it and not move from that teaching until the Church indicates that the teaching was wrong and the correct discrenment of God’s will is….  To act outside of the Church’s teaching is not to act prophetically, it is to act schismatically.  To call the church to reconsider Her position is to act prophetically.  To show why a new teaching better encapsulates the teachings of Holy Scripture and of Jesus Christ is to act prophetically.  However, if the Church disagrees, acting on the new teaching is still schismatic.

Since we are so wrong headed and so dim witted when comes to discerning the will of God, don’t you think we should pool our collective reason with those who have gone before and try to understand the will of God within the largest community possible?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 22, 9:40 pm | [comment link]
44. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil -

I agree with you, that the lived Tradition of the People of God, the Church, the Body of Christ, is very important.  It is certainly a very strong guide, but it is not a god.  We ignore it at our own peril.

We see throughout the Christian Church when Tradition was overturned because at the time the Tradition had gotten off track.  That is what the whole of the Reformation was about, wasn’t it?  Aren’t we in such a time now as the Global South becomes far more central to the Christian endeavor - a change of the Tradition where Europe or North America were/are the centers of Christianity and the interpreters of how the faith should be understood and lived out?  Are we not in a period of change regarding this part of the Tradition?

Councils err.  Councils set the superstructure of the Tradition.  If the Councils have erred, then that part of the Tradition of the Church will need to change.  We are still in the period where we are discerning whether the huge change in the Tradition (our the Councils and through the lived experience of the Body of Christ) by ordaining women is of God or not.  I think it is of God, but not all do.

Some are calling for the same reconsideration for the place of gay people in the Church.  Some Councils and people in the Body of Christ (the lived part of the Tradition) have approved such reconsideration and involvement and elected a bishop, some Councils and people in the Body of Christ have refused it.  The call for reconsideration of the Tradition concerning homosexuals, and as part of that Tradition the way we have interpreted Scripture concerning gay people, will continue.  Time will tell whether this is of God or not.  Time will tell whether the Councils of the Church or the lived Tradition will change once again or not.  Time will tell whether the reconsideration of our traditional interpretation and application of Holy Scripture concerning gay people is led by the Holy Spirit as a right doing or whether it is by the will of man.

A traditional Anglican response would be that we wrestle and wait and in the mean time pray and worship together as we discern the will of God, and Anglican Tradition is not to demand all wrestling be stopped because we already know all the answers.

Discerning the will of God means we all struggle together.  Right now, too many liberals and too many conservatives don’t want to struggle together, but want to impose their already determined positions.  That isn’t Anglican, but tends towards fundamentalism - whether liberal or conservative.

May 23, 5:48 am | [comment link]
45. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob,
Don’t you see that the reappraisers have imposed “their already determined positions?”  They did this by forcing the ordination of Robinson on the rest of the communion in the face of universal (from the council perspective) request not to.  The General Convention never officially changed its teaching on the issue of sexuality.  It never said that homosexual sex was good in any form.  What the ordination of +Robinson did was to change the teaching using a “back door” method.  If this is of God, then I would suggest that something more upfront would be the way to go.  In 2003, the Bishop’s Theology committee recommended against legislating any action without the rest of the communion.  In 1991, the General Convention said that we shouldn’t go forward alone on this.  We did anyway.  The church does not move quickly on any change.  Why should we expect this to be any different?  If this is of God, then the fruits of the Spirit should be evidenced.  The fruits that I see are schism in the Church, anger, hatred, envy, and strife.  I see further calls to further change our theology of sexual expression.  There are those who are, even now, saying that monogamous relationships are a “hetersexual model” foisted on homosexual people and should not be the standard for homosexual relationships and thuse any homosexual relationship can be blessed.  That is not good fruit.
In short, discernment should come before action and discernment should include all those who are affected.  In something as large as changing the moral teaching of the church, the whole church should be involved.
YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 23, 7:41 am | [comment link]
46. Jon wrote:

I find this exchange between Bob G and Phil encouraging.  Do you see, Bob, that Phil is giving you quite a lot of room here?  He’s not inflexibly demanding that you must agree that the consecration of a gay noncelibate bishop could never ever be right and good—and that if you don’t agree you are a wicked man and a very bad Anglican.  All he is asking is that you agree that we should not have done what we did in 2003—he’s simply refering to the ECCLESIAL act of defying the rest of the Anglican communion and Lambeth 1998 and so on.  Could you at least agree that what we should have done instead is set aside a period of (minimum) six years of intentional structured corporate discernment inside our national church and inviting the contributions of people from overseas in that process—before taking such a drastic step?

May 23, 8:32 am | [comment link]
47. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Phil Snyder [#46] writes:

The General Convention never officially changed its teaching on the issue of sexuality. It never said that homosexual sex was good in any form. What the ordination of +Robinson did was to change the teaching using a “back door” method.

GC2003’s consent to Gene Robinson’s ordination was a laudable example of how common-law judges try to operate: They decide only what needs to be decided, on the narrowest-possible grounds. (As John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States [that’s his actual constitutional title, BTW], said recently, if something does not need to be decided, it needs not to be decided.) The issue was not whether homosexual sex was good; it was the much narrower question whether a specific individual should become bishop of a specific diocese. The General Convention decided that, all things considered, the answer in to that specific question was “yes.”

The First Commandment requires us to face the facts as best we can — to deal with the universe as God wrought it, not as we wish it were. (My blog: The Questioning Christian)

May 23, 8:37 am | [comment link]
48. Jon wrote:

To Bob G in #42: thanks for your thoughts here.  I’ll admit though that I still don’t know the answer to my original question.  I am grateful that you have tried to describe what your personal theological beliefs are, but that was actually not the main thing I was asking about.  I was asking whether, quite apart from what you personally might believe, do you think there are clear stateable doctrines that are normative for all Anglicans?  That is to say, is there any doctrine which, if a person rejects it, then he is no longer inside the realm of legitimate Anglican belief?

You talk about the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, but I am not clear yet whether that is something only you personally subscribe to, or whether you think it should be binding doctrinally on all Anglicans.  Suppose you mean the latter.  One of the things it states is the truth of the Nicene Creed.  One of the things the Creed asserts is the Virgin Birth.  Are you saying that Spong and Borg are in defiance of true Anglican doctrine by denying the Virgin Birth?  Spong is on record as rejecting theism.  Does that make him in some objective sense no longer a legitimate exponent of Anglicanism? 

What I am searching for is whether there is in your view any kind of bare bones minimal doctrine—even one—that if a person denies it he is objectively denying the Anglican faith.  If so, can you concretely name a few examples?  Something concrete rather than something vague like a desire to love God, or a belief that Scripture is sacred (claims that than can be uttered by people who mean pretty much the opposite things by them).  I am not trying to give you a hard time, I promise!  I am really genuinely trying to understand.  There is a position that a number of people take nowadays which is there is NO doctrine that should be binding—not even the most barebones claims—that the only thing that should unify us is practice (i.e. do we all say the same same liturgies and prayers, are we all kneeling and bowing and whatnot at the same time, with the same vestments and candle lighting and so forth—this is the thing that should be uniting us).  That is not a view I am mocking.  I am trying to find out if it is what you think.  If it is, let me know: if not, then there must be some sort of doctrines you think we should all believe as Anglicans.

May 23, 9:02 am | [comment link]
49. Jimmy DuPre wrote:

John Stamper; I can point to 39 “clear stateable doctrines”. They are in the back of the Prayer Book. True, there is a lack of supprt for them on both sides of this. But possibly we need to accept that the Truth is outside of us, and we don’t get to the Truth by voting on it. All we get is a lowest common denominator of beliefs.

May 23, 9:28 am | [comment link]
50. Jon wrote:

DC (#48):  I think that’s a misreading of what happened in 2003.  If you look closely at the actual deliberations leading up to GC’s ratification of VGR’s election, and they are on record, it was specifically argued that the reason his noncelibate relationship with his male partner should not be a problem for his ordination, is that this relationship and VGR’s orientation was not an expression human fallenness and sin.  Now if a particular instance of homosexuality is not sin, then that implies that the universal claim “homosexuality is sin” must be false.  If a physicist makes a general claim about gravity, then all it takes is one dropped apple hovering in mid-air to disprove the general claim.

Basically the situation is this.  Part of the historic job description of being a bishop is being a good moral example in his married or single life.  It’s not a question of whether a noncelibate gay man could be saved by Christ, since most certainly Christ came to save sinners, including those bound in sin and apparently unable to change themselves.  The problem therefore was not whether VGR could be a saved Christian, but whether he was right for a particular job inside the church.  That job description historically has involved (as one part) being a good moral example in one’s married life.  When New Hampshire and then GC 2003 affirmed VGR as bishop, it said his sexual partnership with a man was a good moral example.  If that was true in his case, then historic church teaching of many centuries must have been untrue.  This is why Phil correctly says that VGR’s election altered church teaching concerning homosexuality.

PS.  There is a way that this could have been averted and still had VGR’s election and consecration.  GC 2003 could have specifically repudiated the idea that a bishop needs to be a good moral example in his sexual/married life.  If it had changed the job description, then VGR’s election would not have implied necessarily a reevaluation of historic church teaching regarding homosexuality.  But nothing like this happened.

May 23, 9:30 am | [comment link]
51. Jon wrote:

Hi Jimmy (#50).  I totally agree myself.  I love the 39 A. 

But I am not trying to box Bob G in that far.  I am just trying to see whether he is willing to commit to the idea that there should be ANY normative doctrine for the Anglican Church.  If he agrees to that, then he and I have something in common and can proceed from there.

PS.  I was touched by your comments about Paul Zahl a few weeks ago.  I too discovered Christ and the word of Grace through this man.

May 23, 9:35 am | [comment link]
52. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil -

The Church of England as of now does not recongnize our own women bishops.  Many of the provinces of the Communion do not.  Our women bishops, and those of Australia, et.al., have not been imposed on anyone.  The other provinces are not required to recognize our women bishops.

The diocese of New Hampshire’s election of Gene Robinson, the General Convention’s approval of that election, and his consecration as a Bishop of this Church, is not imposed on anyone.  No one has to recognize his authority, in the same way that many do not recognize the authority of our and other provinces’ women bishops.

The Councils of this Church in General Convention, and among many Diocesan Conventions, determined that this is the way to go.  I think the consecration was premature, an as you said through the back door, because not enough theological work has been done, but it was done.  Now, no other province else has to agree or accept his authority. Do diocese within this Church has to allow gay priests, gay members, or any of that, although we do need to pray together and worship together - if we really want to be Anglican.  It is not imposed on anyone. 

Has the Councils of this Church erred?  Some say absolutely.  The majority say they don’t think so.  Some say absolutely not.  Time will tell.  But, it is not part of the Anglican tradition for either the anti or pro-gay groups to demand the imposition of a singular position without the struggling of all of us.  Struggle is hard and at times painful, frustrating, infuriating, but an integral part of the Anglican ethos.

Within the Communion as a whole, just like with women bishops, no one has to support or acknowledge our decisions.  The ABC has not invited him, at this point.

By the way, we are all responsible for living within and expressing the Fruit of the Spirit.  If there is “anger, hatred, envy, and strife,” we all are to blame because these are the reactions and emotions within us all.  No one forced you or me to be angry, bitter, to be engaged in hatred, envy, or strife.  We are responsible for our own reactions!  God have mercy on us.

May 23, 10:01 am | [comment link]
53. Bob G+ wrote:

John (#47) - I realize what Phil has said and is doing.

Whenever there is a change in the Traditional whatever, there is always an intense period of conflict.  Back during the beginning of the Reformation, as one example, Roman Catholics killed Lutherans and Lutherans killed Anabaptists - hanging, burning at the stake, war, all that.  We are a bit more civil today; we just do it through words and dis-fellowshipping when we make judgments about who really is a Christian and who is a heretic.

We are in such a time.  We are in a historic period, at least for Anglicanism.  Nothing new is going on and we are all acting the same way that all of our ancestors acted in the past.  There is nothing new under the sun.  But, the real question is whether we have learned anything from the past, or are we condemn to repeat our ancestors mistakes all over again?

May 23, 10:07 am | [comment link]
54. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob - But before the first woman was legally ordained and her priesthood recognized by the Communion, the Communion had stated that ordination of women was not a communion breaking issue.  Whith the ordination of men or women engaged in homosexual sex, it is different.  The communion has spoken - and spoken rather loudly - that this is a communion breaking issue.  Even those bishops who do not accept the ordination of women came to Lambeth and to the Primates meeting with female bishops.  The two issues are not identical.

Now, are you ascribing to General Convention the authority to change the teaching of the Church?  Can GC change teaching, other than moral teaching?  If so, what are the limits on the authority of GC in terms of theological teaching?  If GC can change teaching can a diocese change teaching?  If a diocese, then can a parish change teaching?  How about an individual?
I suggest that GC went beyond its authority.  It does not have the authority to change things pertaining to the essence of the faith.  It does have authority to change things pertaining to the order of the faith or the expression of the faith.  The ordaination of women is being tested to see if it is an issue of order or essence.  I believe it is one of order.  The moral teaching of the church, however, is one of essence - or do you doubt it is of essence and say that moral teaching is an issue of order?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 23, 10:16 am | [comment link]
55. Bob G+ wrote:

John (#49)

The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was accepted first by this Church (1886) and them by the Communion (1888) as the basis for our Anglican identity for ecumenical discussions.

This is what I uphold as a good basis for Anglican belief.  This is my answer to your question.

May 23, 10:43 am | [comment link]
56. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil (#55) - That isn’t my understanding of the sequence of events.  A couple bishops first irregularly ordained some women.  There was great controversy and threats of schism if this Church didn’t put a stop to that which was clearly contrary to the Tradition of the Church. People left this Church, some Poped, some created “Continuing” Anglican churches, etc.  Then the General Convention voted to accept the ordained ministry of women.  As I said, the rest of the provinces at the time did not recognize the ordination of women, let alone of bishops.  Most still do not recognize the legitimacy of women bishops.

The pronouncement by many primates and provincial councils that the women’s issue is not a communion breaking issue came later.  Yet, the ordination of women is a profound, profound change in the Tradition.  If this is not a communion breaking issue, why must Gene Robinson be a communion breaking issue when no other province needs to recognize his authority, as they do not recognize the authority of our women bishops?

We are determining whether the issue of women priests/bishops is of order or essence.  We will also have to figure out whether the homosexual issue is of order or essence.  We will know, probably, in another 50-100 years, but not now.  I believe it is within the realm of reconsideration and discussion.  Others disagree.  IMHO, this issue does not infringe upon the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, unless you want to say that a homosexual in a relationship cannot be saved.  That is one interpretation of Scripture, but it is a reseeding interpretation and one that I do not believe holds up under scrutiny.

May 23, 11:43 am | [comment link]
57. Philip Snyder wrote:

Rob G.  The first woman ordained in the Anglican Communion was a woman in Hong Kong in the 40s.  It was a very unusual circumstance.  When considering US history alone, you are correct.  The first women priests were ordained in direct contradiction of the US canons and neither they nor their ordaining bishop(s) paid a price for it.  That led the way to all sorts of other “prophetic” acts.  The regularlization of their ordination and the change in the canons by the 1976 GC did cause a lot of pain in TECUSA. 

However, in the Anglican Consutative Council in 1968, the council said (prior to ordaining women regularly) that the ordination of women was not a communion breaking issue.  The big difference is that with ordaining practicing homosexuals, the communion has said it is a communion breaking issue.  What did we go forward when we knew the mind of the communion?

To debate the issue is one thing.  Let’s discuss it and listen to those with differing ideas.  Show the scriptural and traditional warrant for the change.  Show how this change enhances the message of the Gospel and brings greater glory to God.  But don’t act until the whole communion (or a majority of it ) has reached consensus that this is a matter adiaphora.
YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 23, 11:51 am | [comment link]
58. Jon wrote:

Bob G # 57: Actually, I am inclined to agree with you here.  I think that what happened in the 1970s with maverick bishops ordaining women is very much like what happened recently with the GR ordination.  But I guess I would say that BOTH things were handled badly.  In both cases the right thing to do would have been to have had an extended period (at least 6 years, 10 would be better) of focused, planned, deliberate corporate discernment inside ECUSA and with input solicited from the broader Communion.  The fact that this did not happen caused as you say schism and rupture and bad feeling; and more to the point caused a hasty decision to be made without prior theological grounding that would then be unable to be reversed.

May 23, 11:55 am | [comment link]
59. john scholasticus wrote:

#59
Although this has been a civilised debate, I think there are positive things to be said for what might be called exploratory action. In the first place, the call for consensus before change is made always seems to me unfair and logically suspect. It implies that there is a ‘consensus’ for the status quo, whatever it is. But there isn’t. Why should the principle of consensus operate only when it comes to change? Why should those who favour the status quo have greater voting rights, which is that this ‘principle’ amounts to? In the second place, why should it only be the initiators of action who are held to account? Is not the question of the response to that action also a moral, and, in this context, a profoundly theological issue? In the third place, the NT, especially ‘Acts’, is full of cases of ‘new things’ being done, against the prevailing consensus. In the fourth place, as the redoubtable BobG+ keeps asserting, no one is being FORCED to accept these changes - in the sense that there is enormous provision elsewhere for those who do not accept them. In the fifth place, to the challenge ‘by their fruits’, (a) the point about the moral responsibility of the response is relevant, (b) the time-scale of ‘damnation’ is far too short (4 years!), (c) I think there are many positive fruits: respect and self-respect for homosexuals (still being slandered and mugged and murdered in the UK in the Year of Our Lord 2007); a coming together of heterosexuals and homosexuals; a proper recognition of a group which contributes disproportionately to our Church and to many others; a truly transcendental love for all. In the sixth place, the attention paid to this issue is criminally, sinfully, disproportionate (it’s not just ‘the presenting issue’: I do not believe that claim can wash). In the seventh place, the stakes in this issue are higher for homosexual people than for others. In the eighth place, if there is sin here (which I do not accept), I do believe that Jesus will forgive it.

These arguments are all well rehearsed and I could say more. Sorry to bore you all.

May 23, 2:37 pm | [comment link]
60. Philip Snyder wrote:

John (#60)
Think of preference for the status quo of giving a vote to those Christians who are now part of the Church Triumphant.  In all of life, there is a preference for the status quo - especially long established tradition and teaching.  Teachings are changed - that is true, but the longer the tradition has been in place, the greater the argument must be made.  Or are you now advocating that all meetings of Christians start at a “zero” basis in terms of belief and praxis and then begin to discern what we all believe and what we should do?

There is a change that is being forced.  TECUSA is forcing the other churches in the Anglican Communion to accept that Homosexual sexual practice is adiaphora.  Remember, this is not about membership in the body.  All sinners are welcome in the body.  This is about what behaviors the Church has authority to bless and what behaviors the Church’s leaders should exhibit. 

I will also remind you that the resserters are not the ones who keep bringing up this issue.  We have discussed it for over 40 years and everytime it was brought up, the answer was “homosexual sexual practice is incompatible with Holy Scripture.”  Why is it now that we are wasting resources on the question.  Forgive me if I think it sounds like we have the answer you want, so it is now time to move on.

Finally, the last argument (Jesus will forgive all sin) is true, but it can be used for all sin.  That argument can be employed to ordain practicing drunkards, practicing adulterers, practicing thieves, etc. 

As members of Christ’s body, we are to continue to have our lives conformed to God’s image of ourselves.  That struggle is commonly called “santification” and requires daily surrender.  As Thomas Merton said, we tend to surrender last those things we love about ourselves most.  This is true of whatever our sins are.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 23, 2:53 pm | [comment link]
61. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil -  TEC cannot force any other province to accept anything we do.  There is no mechanism, presently, for such a thing.  Just because we do something does not mean anyone else must or even should agree with us or bend in their position.  The polygamous marriages of some bishops in Africa does not effect the operation of the TEC or our official beliefs in any way.  We simply do not have to accept the practice or the bishops if we do not want to.

We have caused other provinces to deal with the issue for the first time and to their anger and chagrin - which successive Lambeth conferences have called for (the discussion, not the anger).  This is not, however, forcing them to accept what we have done, for good or bad, or to accept and single gay person as a Christian, a clergy person, or a bishop.

May 24, 10:50 am | [comment link]
62. Jon wrote:

Hi Bob.  You claimed just now that some Anglican bishops in Africa had multiple wives.  Can you name the bishops you are thinking of?

Or do you mean that some bishops in Africa perform marriage ceremonies for men already married?  If you mean that instead, could you name the bishops you have in mind? 

Thanks!

May 24, 11:00 am | [comment link]
63. Philip Snyder wrote:

Bob,
Two things.  First, we do force the world to change their stance on the moral teaching of the Church.  Most of the Provinces in the Global South would say that sexual morality is not a matter adiaphora, but is an essential matter - something there should be unity on.  An essential matter is something worth dividing the Church over.  TECUSA is now saying that the Global South must either abandon communion with us or must accept that sexual morality is not worth dividing the Church.  That is the change we are forcing on them.  We are not forcing them to deal with the issue, we are forcing them to deal with our arrogance and pride.

Second, we have heard this rumour about polygamous bishops.  Can you please give conclusive evidence (not innuendo) or stop spreading this malicious rumour?  From what I understand, the rule in Africa is that if a man has multiple wives before becomming a Christian, he is allowed to keep them because single women in that culture have little or no means of support.  However, once a person is a Christian, they cannot marry more than one wife.  Also, men with multiple wives are not allowed to become clergy - let alone bishops.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

“I do not believe because I understand.  I believe in order that I might understand” - Anselm
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

May 24, 11:07 am | [comment link]
64. Bob G+ wrote:

John (#63) - The last Lambeth Conference (1998) dealt with the controversy of whether all the wives of the bishops in polygamous marriages would attend together.  The multiple wives were invited and attended.

Knowing the names of the individual bishops is irrelevant to me.  If you want to know the specific bishops, you can google for them.  I’m sure the names are somewhere on the Internet.

May 25, 7:10 am | [comment link]
65. Bob G+ wrote:

Phil, they don’t have to accept it.  I don’t know of one example where any other province, diocese, or parish, whether in the U.S. or any other part of the world, have been forced to accept our decision.  Do you?  Not one set of canons have had to change.  Not one single gay priest had to be received, not one bishop had to be recognized or authorized.  The ABC has not invited Robinson to Lambeth.

Again, we, whether rightly or wrongly, have forced the issue.  Lots of people are very angry about that and are fighting back, but they have not been forced to accept it.

It is two different issues, although they effect one another. 

The first is the juridical aspect - whether policies we as TEC adopt or reject must be adhered to or accepted by other provinces.  The Anglican Communion as currently configured demand or require no other province to accept what we do.

The second is what other jurisdictions decide to take on as their own issue or fight concerning what other provinces do or decide.  This is were we are.  The other provinces and people in TEC are fighting against this change.  It is their own (as a group or individually) decision to fight.  It may be a noble decision or not, but it is still their decision and are not forced by any outside force to take up the fight.  No gun is held to their head.

What we did, again either rightly or wrongly, does not have to be accepted by any other province of the Communion, even within our own province.

We are not requiring the Global South to either do this or that.  It is their decision to do anything.  We made a decision, and they are responding.  That is their prerogative and they will do what they must do.  Our decision was the impetus for their actions, but their actions are of their own volition, not by being forced by us. 

As has been said before, it would be arrogant of us to go around the world and demand that everyone else now pass laws that allow practicing homosexuals to be allowed to be church members, clergy, or bishops.  It would be arrogant of us if we try to force them to change their canons.  It would be arrogant of us if we try to force them to accept our priests, else we won’t give them financial assistance any longer (blackmail).  We are doing none of these things.

What we are asking, and in light of Robinson’s statement above, are calling for (and some cases are demanding) is for the provinces to abide by the same Lambeth resolutions that they demand we abide by, that they actually talk with real-life homosexual people and respect them as people worthy of equal treatment under the law (i.e. demanding that Akinola oppose the Nigerian legislature’s resolution to outlaw gay people).  Yet, we cannot force Akinola to do anything, nor can we force his province to do anything. 

Read this article on the American Anglican Council concerning the recent (2002) change in Kenya’s stance on polygamy.  Now, this issue has been argued for a very long time (since some of the first Lambeth Conferences).  What they do now has changed from what they did in years past. 

I guess they were “forced” by the Western Churches to come out with an official statement condemning polygamous relationships, even then, they said pastoral sensitivity must be employed when dealing with those societies were polygamy is accepted and practiced.  I think they have gone to the extreme in their attempt to prove to the West that they are “really” against it, but it is their decision.

http://www.americananglican.org/site/c.ikLUK3MJIpG/b.564003/apps/s/content.asp?ct=853585

May 25, 7:48 am | [comment link]
66. Jon wrote:

Hi Brian G.  Thanks for your willingness to try to find links (#66) to news sources that establish your repeated claim (#62, 65) that some African bishops have multiple wives.  Do you see that the link you provided actually doesn’t do that?  As far as I can see, all it says is that African bishops have “consistently” taught a sexual ethos of monogamy and “rejected” polygamy.  (It does of course explain that African bishops face the problem of how to deal with parishioners who are in violation of that teaching—it gives no support, however, for the claim that the bishops have altered the teaching itself, nor that the bishops themselves have multiple wives.)

By the way, let me affirm here that you may be right!  It may be the case that a number of African bishops have multiple wives.  I am not saying you are wrong, and would indeed love to know if you are right.  But do you not see that surely the burden of proof here should be on the claimant (you and others who make the charge), given its deeply serious nature?  Don’t you see that it is wrong to make such a slanderous charge and then say that it is other people’s job to track down the evidence for it?

So again, it would help me if you could find produce clear evidence that some of the African bishops have multiple wives, and if so which ones.

PS.  A suggestion.  If we continue to discuss polygamy in Africa, let’s be careful to distinguish the three issues you have raised.  All are worth talking about!  But they are distinct.  The first is: what is the current and historic position on polygamy of African bishops as to whether it is God’s will or intention for mankind?  In other words, question #1 is: what is the theological teaching of the African bishops here?  #2 is: have the bishops in their own marital lives ever violated that teaching (have African bishops ever had multiple wives?).  #3 is: how do African bishops handle the “fact on the ground” that many of their parishioners are in violation of that teaching?  (This is a pastoral question—how does a priest pastorally respond to sinners?)  Being careful in the discussion as to which question our remarks correspond to is going to be really important.)

Please note that aside from your claims about polygamous bishops (#2) there really is a good parallel to the issue of TEC and gay people here.  As Phil and I understand it, TEC’s response to the problem of #3 (partnered gay people) is to alter church teaching: to implicitly or explicitly declare that homosexuality is good.  The African bishops (as Phil and I understand it) are not doing that—they are continuing to uphold historic church teaching (polygamy is not God’s will, we cannot bless polygamous marriages) while finding a way to love people who are in a broken state.  If TEC were doing something similar, they’d have no trouble upholding historic church teaching (homosexuality is an aspect of fallen nature and not God’s plan for human marriage—we cannot conduct samesex blessings) while making sure that gay couples know that they can be completely loved by their fellow parishioners, in the same judgement free condemnation free fashion that they Jesus gave to all kinds of people.  (Some traditionalists communicate this “graceful loving to sinners”, especially if they are gay people, very badly which is a HUGE failing on the part of the church.)

May 25, 9:27 am | [comment link]
67. Bob G+ wrote:

John -

I’m still emphasizing the issue of whether TEC or CoC is “forcing” other provinces to accept to do what we have done (are doing).  The theological arguments about the interpretation and application of Scripture and the exclusion or inclusion of homosexuals in the church will continue regardless of what we or anyone else actually does, in the same way that the arguments concerning polygamous marriages or women clergy are being/were dealt with.

I didn’t look for links to find the actual names of bishops with multiple wives.  I said that if you are interested in finding the names of the specific bishops, you could do the googling.  I have no need to know their actual names (other than knowing whether what I read previously about the conflict and resolution that happened during the last Lambeth was in fact correct or not). 

The link I gave you from the AAC is an example of a province that has changed it’s official position.  As I stated, there were bishops from African province(s) who had multiple wives who were invited to and attended the 1998 Lambeth Conference with their wives.  The official pronouncement from the Kenyan province came in 2002.  If anything, pressure from the West did contribute to Kenya’s change.

Now, pressure from the West can also contribute to change regarding the acceptance of homosexuals in the church in those provinces or dioceses that currently do not allow them.  It is pressure, not force.  Those provinces do not have to allow it or bend to the pressure.  Kenya was not forced in any way to change their position, but did so on their own volition presumably because of the veracity of the non-polygamous argument.  No one told them that if they didn’t change then their priests or bishops would no longer be recognized or accepted, or that our primate would not take communion when theirs was present, or that they would no longer be given development aid, or that their bishops would not be invited to Lambeth.

If those provinces or dioceses that currently do not allow the full inclusion of homosexuals are to change, it will be because of the veracity of arguments, not because of force.  We are currently in the midst of the battle of arguments over how to properly understand and apply Scripture, etc.  But, once again, no one is forcing anything on anyone.

May 25, 10:31 am | [comment link]
68. Jon wrote:

Bob…. can you then produce references to specific resolutions from Lambeth 1998 from which we could unequivocably deduce that some of the African bishops in 1998 must have had multiple wives?  Can you name the resolutions?  Can you produce news articles available on the web that describe these Lamebth 1998 discussions which prove that some of the African bishops were then polygamous?

Again, I am not saying you are wrong.  I am saying that you have a responsibility to be able to direct people to concrete sources that establish your claim, when it is something this serious; and especially when they ask a number of times for some evidence.  If, for example, a conservative Anglican were to say that some of the liberal bishops at GC 2003 had orgies in their hotel rooms, that would be a serious charge, even if that conservative didn’t name names.  He’s still be obligated to prove that such a thing happened before saying it, because it’s such a serious charge.

So again, can you do some research to establish this?

May 25, 10:46 am | [comment link]
69. Bob G+ wrote:

John - I don’t know whether there were any resolutions or not passed at Lambeth 1998 concerning polygamy.  I was referencing the discussion that revolved around whether multiple wives could attend.

I did a quick google search and cannot find the particular news article(s) I read back during the last Lambeth about the invited wives of bishop husbands.  Perhaps I’m not remembering correctly, although I thought then that it was a big pastoral concession to include all the wives so I don’t think I’m imagining it.  We shall see.

Anyway, I did find this, which does show certainly a progression and change over time concerning the issue:

Lambeth 1958 Resolution 120
The Family in Contemporary Society - Polygamy
(a) The Conference bears witness to the truth that monogamy is the divine will, testified by the teaching of Christ himself, and therefore true for every race of men.
(b) It acknowledges that the introduction of monogamy into societies that practice polygamy involves a social and economic revolution and raises problems which the Christian Church has as yet not solved.
(c) The Conference urges upon Church members the continuance of thorough study and earnest prayer that God may lead his Church to know the manner of its witness and discipline in this issue.
(d) The Conference, recognising that the problem of polygamy is bound up with the limitations of opportunities for women in society, urges that the Church should make every effort to advance the status of women in every possible way, especially in the sphere of education.
(e) The Conference further requests His Grace the President to refer this problem to the Advisory Council on Missionary Strategy.

Lambeth 1988 Resolution 26
Church and Polygamy
This Conference upholds monogamy as God’s plan, and as the ideal relationship of love between husband and wife; nevertheless recommends that a polygamist who responds to the Gospel and wishes to join the Anglican Church may be baptized and confirmed with his believing wives and children on the following conditions:
(1) that the polygamist shall promise not to marry again as long as any of his wives at the time of his conversion are alive;
(2) that the receiving of such a polygamist has the consent of the local Anglican community;
(3) that such a polygamist shall not be compelled to put away any of his wives, on account of the social deprivation they would suffer;
(4) and recommends that provinces where the Churches face problems of polygamy are encouraged to share information of their pastoral approach to Christians who become polygamists so that the most appropriate way of disciplining and pasturing

May 25, 1:12 pm | [comment link]


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