Bigoted Quackery?

“Let me be the first to engage in some bigoted quackery and talk conversion.

That is to quote Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who has announced plans to ban so-called ‘LGBT conversion therapy.’

Speaking on Sunday at Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March, Andrews vigorously criticised the idea that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed, calling it ‘a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken.’

‘We will drag these practices out of the dark ages and into the brightest of lights.’

Then he called it ‘bigoted quackery’ – see my opening remark.

This is at first bewildering for the average Christian reader if only because few have ever heard of something called ‘LGBT conversion therapy.’ It’s a term invented by them, not us.

So, we are left to ask what it means. …

The Human Rights Law Centre and La Trobe University … report condemns the ‘insidious practice’ of churches having a ‘welcoming but not affirming’ policy akin to the adage, ‘love the sinner but not the sin.’…

– The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles unpacks some of the challenges facing Christians in Victoria, and across Australia.

Better than Inclusion: Welcome! Response to Church of England Guidance on Gender Transition Services

Glen Scrivener from Speak Life speaks with Dr Ian Paul about the open letter released this week, ‘A Response to the House of Bishops guidance on Transgender Welcome’, and the whole issue of gender dysphoria.

Ian Paul reaffirms that everyone is welcome at church, and explains why.

Watch the conversation.

Read the Letter and see the signatories which includes more than a thousand Church of England clergy.

“Transgender Baptism” – How should we Respond? — GAFCON UK

Gafcon UK has published a briefing for Parochial Church Councils in the Church of England –

“Just before Christmas, the House of Bishops published pastoral guidance which ‘welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people’ – and encourages clergy to use existing liturgy (of Baptism, Confirmation or the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith) if a transgender adult wishes to reaffirm their Christian faith and mark their transition.

This has caused considerable concern amongst lay and ordained members of the Church of England for a variety of theological and pastoral reasons. This briefing seeks to summarise some of those concerns and suggest ideas for further reading.”

Read the briefing, and related documents, here.

See also:

2,000 clergy sign letter saying new Church of England service for trans people may ‘harm’ childrenTelegraph.

“Some 2,155 bishops, priests and lay members of the church have added their names to the letter which condemns new guidance released last month on gender transition.”

Pink is for Death

“Pink has become the colour of death. When a baby girl came into the world, friends gave gifts of pink shoes or a pink outfit. It may be a social convention, but does that matter? Pink was the colour for girls. Like so much else, another insidious social movement has replaced something good with the representation of evil.

Last night in Manhattan, the skyline changed to a pinkish glow, as New York State celebrated the passing of a law which will enable the killing of babies up until birth. …”

Murray Campbell in Melbourne adds his voice to the outrage, but reminds us what Christians must not neglect.

Yesterday New York signed off on Toxic Humanity

“Forget toxic masculinity. Don’t even mention toxic femininity. Yesterday’s move by the New York legislature to enshrine abortion up to full term in New York State is a prime example of one thing: toxic humanity.

But more than that. The true toxicity is not in the signing of the legislation, but in the unadulterated celebrating of it. …”

Stephen McAlpine writes with sadness of celebrations in New York.

Another call for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed

“Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has used a speech at an Australian Open event to call for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed, in light of the tennis star’s opposition to same-sex marriage. …”

— Report from ABC News.

A Tale of Two Levels – and Good news for Gnostics

At Church Society’s blog, Stephen Walton looks at the connection between two current stories in the Anglican Communion –

“What do these two stories have in common? Many things, but I want to concentrate on just one, that these are two new manifestations of a very old error: Gnosticism.”

–  You can follow his argument here.

Uniting Church President: challenge to same-sex marriage vote unsuccessful

In a Pastoral Letter to members of the Uniting Church of Australia, the Assembly President, Dr. Deidre Palmer explains that the numbers needed to challenge the Assembly’s same-sex marriage decision last year were insufficient:

“Seven Presbyteries chose to exercise their right to notify me as President, that, in their opinion, the matter was ‘vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’ There were five Presbyteries in Queensland, one Presbytery in the Northern Synod and one Presbytery in the Synod of NSW and the ACT. On Saturday the 5th of January 2019, the Presbytery of South Australia met, and decided that the majority of members did not support the proposal that the Fifteenth Assembly marriage decision was a ‘matter vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’

This means that the threshold for the suspension of the Assembly decision has not been reached.

As a result, the Assembly decision on marriage stands …”

Read the full letter here.

Doubtless, members of the Uniting Church of Australia who hold to a high view of Scripture, would value your prayers for wisdom.

Conversations with John Anderson — Featuring Os Guinness

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson has been publishing some fascinating Conversations on his website.

Recently, he spoke with Christian author and social critic Os Guinness. Watch the video of his 38-minute conversation here. (Direct link to the video here.)

And see the other conversations already published.

Letter to the Archbishop of York on Liturgy celebrating ‘Gender Transition’

“Your Grace, This letter to you is respectfully to express concerns about the liturgy commended by the House of Bishops in celebration of gender transition in local churches. As a member of Church Society, I would support the concern expressed by its director, Dr Lee Gatiss, about the use of the existing rite of affirmation of baptismal faith for this purpose.

He wrote: ‘The repurposing of liturgy like this is troubling. As a church whose doctrine is derived from Scripture and expressed in our liturgy, transitioning the meaning and purpose of liturgy looks like changing our fundamental doctrine by stealth’.

The theological reasons for the concerns about this liturgy have been well expressed in the various resources which Church Society has published and so there is no need to rehearse those arguments here.

But the specific issue I would like please to raise with you, if I may, relates to the potential misuse of the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy against frontline ministers who cannot in good conscience celebrate gender transitions.

Clause 2.4 of the Guidelines states quite rightly that ‘clergy should always be conscious of the power dynamics involved in their pastoral care, noting both the position of trust which they hold and the power which they exercise’. Clause 12.3 also states that ‘pastoral care should never seek to remove the autonomy given to the individual. In pastoral situations the other party should be allowed the freedom to make decisions that may be mistaken’.

That individuals must never be coerced or manipulated in pastoral conversations should not be in dispute. But gently inviting individuals in the light of the Holy Scriptures to think about the consequences of decisions they may be contemplating and lovingly warning them of the spiritual dangers of disobeying the Bible’s teaching should not, according to the Ordinal, be viewed as wrong. The Ordinal clearly enjoins clergy ‘to be messengers, watchmen, stewards of the Lord; to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family’.

The use of already canonically authorised liturgy for the purpose of celebrating gender transitions presents a new set of circumstances under which frontline clergy minister. So, the current uncertainty over whether the sensitive expression by clergy of spiritual and moral concerns about gender transition might be treated as an abuse of pastoral power poses a threat. Doubt about this would seem to leave clergy, who believe as a matter of deep theological conviction that gender transition is not in accordance with God’s good and loving will for people made in his image and who cannot in conscience affirm such transitions, vulnerable to having complaints of misconduct upheld against them under the Clergy Discipline Measure (2003).

As a parish incumbent, I ought to take my spiritual and moral accountability to my chief ministers under the infallible Word of God in the Bible very seriously. I should accept their ‘godly admonition’, which the Ordinal exhorts ordained presbyters to.

So, I think it is my duty to be clear with you as the senior pastor of the Province in which I minister that I would be morally bound to contest any CDM action brought against me for expressing concerns about gender transitions and not using the new liturgy. I would also be duty-bound to support any other licensed minister threatened with CDM action for following his or her biblically-informed conscience on this.

I believe I should show this letter to the Oughtibridge PCC so that they know where I stand on this issue as their servant in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This letter to you is also being forwarded to the Bishops serving Sheffield Diocese. It would be good to meet with them in the New Year, if they wanted, together with other colleagues who share these concerns.

With all Christian good wishes,

Julian Mann – Vicar, the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, in the Diocese of Sheffield.”

– The Rev. Julian Mann has sent this letter to the Archbishop of York. (Photo: Archbishop of York John Semantu.)

See also:

Church of England’s plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishopsThe Telegraph.

Accommodation is not Guidance

“On Tuesday 11th December the House of Bishops published ‘Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition.’ Whilst sharing the desire to show pastoral care, the content of the Guidance causes me deep concern and I support the request from the Bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda for the reception of the Guidance to be reviewed. I note too the personal reservations expressed about it by the Chair of the House of Bishops’ Delegation Committee, The Rt Rev’d Julian Henderson, and commend the recent critiques produced by the Church Society and the Church of England Evangelical Council.

The Guidance represents a way of accommodating the request from the General Synod that the House of Bishops consider devising a liturgy for the welcome of transgender people. However, in doing so it has raised many more questions than it answers. These include:

Accordingly, I would support any move to change the status of this Guidance so that it is seen as a contribution to the LLF Project, rather than a finished product of the House of Bishops.”

– Bishop of Maidstone Rod Thomas has posted this statement on this website.

Earlier: Bishop Andy Lines on the Church of England’s guidance on liturgies to celebrate gender transition.

Ruddock Report response (part 3)

“In my former posts (here and here), O Friend of Law and Religion, I have dealt with all that the Ruddock Report covered in recommendations 1-12 and 15, along with the official Government Response to those recommendations.

In this post I aim to cover recommendations 13-14 and 16-20. These deal with important issues of the law of blasphemy and religious free speech, along with State discrimination laws, collection of data, education on religious freedom, the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the exercise of leadership in the area by the Commonwealth. …”

– Associate Professor in Law, Neil Foster, has just posted part three of his response to the Ruddock Report.

He concludes, in part, “… my general response is that the Report is a sensible document which takes religious freedom seriously, and hopefully the actions promised by the Government will be implemented with due speed”.

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