1/17/2007

Archbishop Gomez lets it hang out there.

The Bahama Journal, January 16th, posted an article by Rogan M. Smith, based on an press conference by Archbishop Gomez in Nassau on Monday the 15th. The press conference seems to have been related to the meeting of the Covenant Design Committee, meeting January 15-19, although it is never made clear in the story. No one is quoted except the Archbishop. Perhaps, this being a local story with a local star, no one else was very interesting.

It tells us very little about the Archbishop except that he is totally opposed to homosexuality. He is quoted as saying, “My position is that God, in his wisdom, determined that the human race is made up of male and female persons and that they complement each other. The teaching of the Bible is the coming together of man and woman [and that] constitutes marriage in the biblical pattern. Any other provision will be contrary to the biblical tradition."

Later his is quoted again, this time on the matter of gay marriage and or blessing, “I couldn’t accept that because it is contrary to the teaching of scripture. What is interesting is that no one disputes that in every instance in the Bible in which sexuality is mentioned, homosexual practice is always a negative. It’s never commended in the Bible and even those who are trying to change the anthropology have to admit that the text does not support it. So, they find ways of reinterpreting the text. Scholars will always find some linguistic way of getting behind the text to make it imply something else."

So as if we already didn’t know this, the Archbishop is against homosexual practice, believes it and any blessing of gay relationships contrary to the teaching of scripture and that some scholars find some “linguistic” way of subverting the plain meaning of scripture.

More interesting is this tidbit:

"This is a pivotal moment for the Anglican Communion and that’s why the Archbishop has appointed this group because we cannot continue to drift along as we have been doing, and we’ve had one crisis over homosexuality," he said.

"There is a possibility that we could be faced with another crisis shortly in the communion that will emanate from a group in Australia. There’s a group there that is talking about having lay people presiding at the Eucharist. That’s becoming an issue that’s being talked about more and more and if it does it will present the communion with a serious theological and pastoral issue. Our problem in the communion today is we have no existing mechanism for automatically dealing with these issues."

It would appear the Archbishop believes that behind the search for a covenant is the fear that the sort of independent action taken by the Episcopal Church might be taken elsewhere. Perhaps that, not the activities in the US, is the driving force in the energies on this covenant process.

But no, the independent action that most upsets the Archbishop seems to be about homosexuality. He begins this press conference by giving his take on the crisis of the moment, not the general need for a covenant. He sticks with it, only veering to one side to take a swipe at a future discontent, and ends with a poke in the eye at scholarship that he doesn’t like.

The lay presidency issue is brought in to convince the wavering that we have to have a covenant, otherwise we face more and more crises. But the covenant matter is high on the talking point list of the realignment crowd because it is the way into a proposal that there be “constitutant” members of the Communion and a second class membership for those who don’t meet the criteria.

So the talking point is, “We have to have a Covenant because ‘we have no existing mechanism for automatically dealing with these issues.’” The operant word is “automatically.” What is wanted is a means of striking down any independent actions by any Province. Had that mechanism been in place women would not be ordained period and Barbara Harris would not have been ordained bishop. Had that mechanism been in place Bishop Robinson would not have been ordained.

Of course he doesn’t mention that several Provinces have taken independent action to decide that they will open missions or take on parishes in the United States. Such actions are of course contrary to ancient pastoral and ecclesial concerns and tradition. Would such a mechanism mean Nigeria, Uganda and the Southern Cone would be issued citations? Why doesn’t he site the independent actions of these bodies in his list?

Archbishop Gomez alone seems to have been quoted in the Bahama Journal. I don’t know if anyone else was interviewed. With this as a beginning of a week of discussion I am not at all hopeful.

There has been considerable discussion of the makeup of the Group and its leadership. I have said that I believe it is a mistake for Archbishop Gomez to head this up. The Archbishop of Canterbury said he would have trouble finding anyone who wasn't one way or the other opinionated.

His interview (even if it were written poorly) gives no assurance that initial doubts were unjustified. There is no voice except his. No voice for any other position on either ordination or blessing. No voice from lay persons or priests… there are on the Committee three lay persons, two of whom are women, there are four priests including representatives of the AAC and the ABC. But no voice from them. No voice from any other bishop. His voice alone.

If he alone is left to tell us, then we get his read on the state of affairs in the communion, and his read is that we ought to be wringing our hands and filled with fears of crisis.

I am not moved.

12 comments:

  1. Christopher17/1/07 5:21 PM

    A reconstituted Anglican Communion dedicated fundamentally and explicitly to the exclusion of GLBTQ Christians from the life and ministry of the Church? I should think it would be too much even to be "associated" with such a thing.

    It seems one must hope in the charity and thoughtfulness of the provincial synods that will ponder and process all this at length, once the designs of the covenant group are finally made known.

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  2. seriously??? this is the guy who leads the commission that will write the definition of what it means to be an Anglican?
    Seriously???

    I am so sad over this.

    Rowan has stuck a knife in our back.

    I think that Rowan doesn't come to visit America because he knows full well that crowds of American Episcopalians would show up and ask him all of the tricky questions that he has been avoiding. Coward.

    Real nice.

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  3. Bob in Wash PA17/1/07 7:05 PM

    I guess my understanding of God is a little different. ++Gomez sees God as a giver of rules and regulations. You get love if you follow the rules. If God knows all and I do mean ALL would God create a human being who couldn't live up to the rules. Why create a human being thats doomed to fail??? Even my bishop, the most reverened to be Robert Duncan can't answer that question and he knows the mind of God almost as well as God.

    Reading further I like this one, ""There is a possibility that we could be faced with another crisis shortly in the communion that will emanate from a group in Australia. There’s a group there that is talking about having lay people presiding at the Eucharist."
    Well, faced with the choice of selecting a TESM graduate as the next rector I might prefer a lay person.

    I'm not a fan of a prescribed one fits all formula otherwise I'd be Roman Catholic or Orthodox (The real Orthodox/Eastern Chruch).
    At times I feel guilty for my free thinking and I understand that I waver in my faith. The one thing is I don't mindlessly follow a set of rules and it has brought me to a deeper relationship with God.


    Bob

    Ps. I loved my time at St. Pete's

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  4. The involvement of Archbishop Gomez is a great step forward. It may be the movement back toward some recognition that there is an objective moral law. We know this to be true, in part because we can sense the contrast between our actions and the real right, in terms of which our actions are wrong. Many recent trends, both in popular culture and in Anglicanism, ignore this and present morality as having nothing but subjective reference. But it is in fact objective and its locus is in the Infinite Mind. Historically, the Anglican tradition has reflected this as strongly as the other Christian traditions, and the recent trend toward subjectivism will, in due course, be reversed.

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  5. last comment submitted (about the objective moral order) was by Dan Farrell (forgot to add that)

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  6. I would agree with much that Dan writes ... except that I suspect that what I consider objective truth, is what he is labeling as subjective (and vice versa). My objective truths include:
    The risen Christ came for all;
    All are welcome at the table;
    We are commanded to love all our neighbours.
    To me, these trump ambiguous Levitical codes any day.
    - Denbeau

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  7. I agree with you Dan, and while there is now an Episcopal Majority, the Episcopal Minority is in fact a part of the Anglican Majority, and the Epicopal Majority is part of the Anglican Minority. There is sound Biblical and traditional reason for that, and it will come to light. The Light always outshines the darkness and will again.
    Mark: You made a Big Splash on the Virtuosity Web Blog, parts one and two.

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  8. Richard III18/1/07 12:24 PM

    For anyone who wants to have their eyes opened about protestant fundamentalism go find a copy of Stealing Jesus by Bruce Bawer, it's very interesting. When you're finished reading it you'll understand better who and what is trying to take over control of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. And they talk about progressives being apostate, give me a break. I'd recommend it to Anonymous but I think he's a died in the wool fundamentalist who believes in the Church of Law concept not the Church of Love. ++ Gomez and co-religionists are cut from the same piece of cloth. They say they are followers of Jesus but I think what they really prefer is just giving lip service to the Gospel rather than living into it.

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  9. Dan, don't hold your breath.

    Your epistemology (objective moral truth out there just waiting to be affirmed) depends on an underlying command based society where communication is slower and mostly top-down. The nature of our world now (thanks to the internet and vast distribution of communication tools) is that nearly everyone can have a voice if they have access and will use it.

    In such a world we will continue to see a pluriform approach to theory and doctrine. Anything that can't be physically demonstrated (the laws of gravity and space and physics, biology, etc) is open to questioning. Even in science, where the concept of evolutionary development of life over millenia is well proven and accepted continues to be doubted by those with other theoretical beliefs.

    As always, the means of production (which in this case equals the means of communication) really underlies the epistemology. And for each of us that shapes our philosophy and theology.

    Get used to the world of today. You can holler all you want that there is an "objective" truth, and many of us will agree to some degree, but to the vast majority of people in this world, who now have a voice, it sounds more like you are just screaming at them, "What I want to be true is TRUTH! My decisions! My decisions! I pick what is true."

    I don't think it will ever be the case again that any of us will ever have all of our agenda accepted by everyone else. The world is too radically different in organization and communication for the old hierarchical doctrines and theories to ever have total hold again.

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  10. The world is too radically different in organization and communication for the old hierarchical doctrines and theories to ever have total hold again.

    And that they ever really did is an open question, except perhaps through oppression and the power to write history in their own image.

    The world is much messier than we ever supposed!

    I, for one, am grateful for a Gospel that says Christ came to a messy world -- not to make it uniform -- but to show that God is here in the midst of all our messiness, loving, nurturing, healing, and transforming us.

    That seems a very different message than the Bible says x, therefore, it must be true.

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  11. Dennis –

    A theory that accepts all opinions as true without prejudgment or evaluation can’t cover the subject. It’s a viewpoint that demands a dispensation for itself that it refuses to any other view.

    C. S. Lewis put it this way: “We are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people get their sums wrong, but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.”

    We may not know even approximately the nature of the moral requirement in a given instance, and we must remain humble about that, but that doesn’t prove the nonexistence of the moral order. The danger all around us now is that people are forsaking any notion of objectivity in the moral area – even though there is remarkable agreement about it in many areas. Rape isn’t morally wrong just because almost every thinks it is but because, as Lewis said, there is a “real Right and Wrong.” It’s just as real as the multiplication table and the law of gravity. If there is something wrong, there has to be a right that is missing.

    As for all those people out there seeking a voice, the ones most urgently seeking it are those representing Islam, which often deals with a dramatic suddenness with those who offer a contrary opinion And so it is up to us as Christians to show that we can live faithful to the moral order through the power of Christ without external restraints.
    -- Dan Farrell

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  12. I have a comment to add to this blog. What does it mean to be Anglican today? Do we ignore what Archbishop Gomez is saying about homosexuality? Do we allow the concept of the GLBTQ christians to arode our faith and traditions? Do we ignore what Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and life". Why are we christians in the episcopal church? Why not universalist or religious scientist. There faith and traditons are more compatible to episcopalians.

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