After the very expensive ‘holding operation’ of the Shared Conversations and the production of GS2055, the inevitable crisis in the C of E is now upon us; one that cannot be covered up by more platitudes about reconciliation and unity.
There is a better way. …”
Video from the Church of England General Synod debate on same sex marriage, 15th February 2017.
A very encouraging and sobering 3 minute speech.
“A report from the House of Bishops about marriage and same sex relationships has received a significant setback in a vote at the General Synod in London. It is an embarrassing symbolic rejection of the Bishops’ report which had stated that there should be no change in the church’s teaching while calling for a “fresh tone” on the issues. Speaking before the vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he believed passionately that the report that had been worked on and struggled with was a roadmap and he promised the church would find a new “inclusion.”
However many speakers in the debate said the report was not clear enough or did not go far enough. …
some evangelical members of Synod also expressed concern, fearing that the Bishops’ report was a softening of the guidelines on sexual morality.”
– This report from The Anglican Communion News Service. Photo credit: Lam Pal. ACNS.
See also: Church of England Bishops’ Report: More Questions than Answers – Canon Phil Ashey, American Anglican Council, 04 February 2017.
“Personally, I believe the most worrying element of the [Bishop’s Report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships] is the way the bishops have reinterpreted the law of the C of E about where our doctrine can be found. They appear to sideline Scripture and the traditional formularies of the Church, in favour of finding the boundaries of freedom in Canon Law.”
– from an interview with Reform’s Susie Leafe, speaking about the Church of England’s General Synod, meeting tonight (Australian time).
Link via Anglican Mainstream.
“I can already hear the shocked gasps from some as they read this title. ‘Oh, can’t we have a nicer tone in this debate?’, some are thinking, as they cover their ears, desperately thinking happy thoughts and hoping the whole nasty issue will go away. …”
– As the Church of England’s General Synod debates ‘same sex marriage’ this week, Anglican Mainstream’s the Rev. Andrew Symes calls on Christians believers to stand for the apostolic truth.
“GAFCON UK welcomes the publication of the OneBodyOneFaith statement “A time to build”.
The statement is admirably clear in its wholesale abandonment of any pretence that OneBodyOneFaith has any respect for Biblical authority or any interest in the wellbeing of global Anglicanism. …”
– GAFCON UK responds with clarity to yet another call to ditch the authority of God’s word.
“Canterbury Cathedral is hosting a service to “celebrate” 300 years of Freemasonry after receiving a donation from the Masons of £300,000. The Duke of Kent, who is the Grand Master of the Freemasons, will be among those attending the special service of thanksgiving on 18 February. …”
“It seems … that the Church of England bishops have recommended the right thing for the wrong reason. They have retained the Church’s traditional teaching, but because they think that holding opposite views together will eventually produce a consensus, not because it represents an apostolic boundary.”
– from Archbishop Okoh’s February 2017 letter to GAFCON supporters.
Student priests at Westcott House in Cambridge organised the evensong service on Tuesday in the college chapel. …”
– Story from The Guardian. Photo (not of the event described above) from Westcott House.
Westcott House History:
“Westcott House began its life in 1881 as the Cambridge Clergy Training School whose first president was the then Regius Professor of Divinity, Brooke Foss Westcott. A pioneering and respected New Testament scholar himself, the school was the product of Westcott’s own passionate concern to raise the standard of clergy education and so took the name of its founder after his death. … ”
“For the last week I have been digesting the ‘Report from the House of Bishops on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations,’ known by its shorthand as GS (General Synod) 2055.
This “Report” was a document prepared by the Church of England’s Bishops and presented to the Church’s General Synod last week. The perspective of LGBT pressure groups within the Church of England is that they were betrayed by the Bishops’ upholding the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage. Some are even hinting at going ahead with same sex marriage in defiance of the bishops.
The disappointment of the LGBT community has been matched by suspicion and criticism from Biblically orthodox Anglicans in the Church of England. To them, GS 2055 is a Trojan Horse. The Bishops’ failure to define boundaries in a clearly Biblical way ensures a theological incoherence that will permit ‘generous pastoral provision’ for LGBT couples to will quickly become facts on the ground (new liturgies and blessings) that make the Church’s teaching on marriage a mere shell.
I sympathize with those suspicions because of my experience with such ‘Trojan Horse’ reports in The Episcopal Church as it marched to gay marriage.
Despite my sympathies, I have tried to find an objective point between the hermeneutics of suspicion and the hermeneutics of hope. I’ve tried to read all 19 pages of GS 2055 inductively, asking what the text really says. All 19 pages are agonizing to read—rather like an essay which reads ‘on the one hand’ and ‘on the other hand’ with no resolution. Except of course for the resolve that ‘it is hubristic for anyone to propose that there is one definitive answer which solves all the moral, ethical and missiological problems we face.’ (para. 7) …
Barbara Gauthier goes on to make a telling observation, from paragraph 65 of the Report:
‘65. ….To maintain an unambiguous position on [the] doctrine [of marriage] while enabling a generous freedom for pastoral practice that does not directly and publicly undermine it is entirely consistent with our traditions and is a perfectly coherent approach to take. (emphasis added)
The implication would seem to be that whatever might ‘directly and publicly’ undermine the doctrine of marriage may be perfectly admissible if done ‘indirectly and privately.’ The progressive wing of the Episcopal Church used that ploy for years, surreptitiously establishing facts on the ground, until it couldn’t be ignored any longer.’…”
– From The American Anglican Council’s Canon Phil Ashey. Read it all here.
“The Report as a whole requires a much fuller response than we can give here. However we do not have confidence that this document will guarantee the maintenance of orthodoxy within the Church of England for the future. We need to express our serious reservations about the many ambiguities in the text relating to how we as Anglicans understand truth and goodness, sin and salvation, and how we should carry out pastoral and liturgical practice.
We see the document as giving a rationale for maintaining the current position, but along with many faithful Anglicans in England we believe that the current position is not at all satisfactory, as it involves a lack of clarity about our message, openness to revisionist theology and practice, and further conflict within the church.…”
A critique of the Bishops’ Report – by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali:
“The report tells us in several places that the Church’s teaching has to be related to a fast-changing cultural context but makes no value judgements about the desirability of such change nor to the principles of development which should guide our engagement with culture. …
The thrust of the report seems very much to be that there should be no change in doctrine but that there should be a change in pastoral provision and in the public prayer for those entering same-sex unions. The question is, of course, when does ‘usual practice’ become teaching, especially when provision is made for public prayer.”