12/19/2010

Cleaning out the Anglican Stalls, again.

Time to clean out the stables. In this case various Anglican horses have been dropping odds and ends of straw and making claims that the remains represent the real poop on this or that Anglican issue. Time to clean out the stalls.

(i) Over on the Anglican Communion Institute Philip Turner has seen fit to publish a paper, "Unity, Order And Dissent: On How To Dissent Within a Communion of Churches," in which Dr. Turner opines,

"... what does TEC’s objection to suffering consequences indicate about the nature of its dissent? For several reasons, TEC’s dissent does not seem to be a clear example of ecclesial disobedience. It does not indicate a willingness to suffer consequences as a means both of standing for a firmly held belief and at the same time submitting to consequences as an expression of fundamental loyalty to the community against which it feels compelled to stand. Rather, TEC’s attitude and actions suggest more than an intention to stand against a moral view it believes incompatible with the Gospel. Both attitude and action suggest the desire to make the Anglican Communion over into something quite different from what it has been. TEC’s ecclesial disobedience apparently aims to change communion into federation or association and in so doing elevate moral commitment over common belief and practice. The form of TEC’s dissent suggests revolution rather than reform."

Dr. Turner is half right, I suppose, and equally half wrong. But he is almost entirely silly. What is this business of bring up the bugaboo of "a federation or association, and in doing so elevat(ing) moral commitment over common belief and practice"?  I thought moral commitment, common belief and practice were meant to go hand in hand. 

Still, the Episcopal Church (TEC) actions do I suppose suggest revolution rather than reform. That is, TEC is not claiming that its actions are a reform in the thinking always held by the Church, but a recasting of the issue in a way that more adequately responds to the revolutionary incarnational inclusion practiced by its leader, Jesus the Anointed One. So in that sense TEC's actions in ordaining women and opening vocational vows to gay and lesbian persons is a radical application of a Gospel imperative. To the extend that TEC is radical in this sense it is not because of its righteousness (self or otherwise) but because of its notable failure in the past to be inclusive of people of color or women.  Perhaps there has been some learning from the mistakes of reform thinking which moved so slowly as to be unbearable.

On the other hand, Dr Turner is quite wrong to suggest that ecclesiastical disobedience consists in  "a willingness to suffer consequences as a means both of standing for a firmly held belief and at the same time submitting to consequences as an expression of fundamental loyalty to the community against which it feels compelled to stand."  He sets out to show that TEC's actions can not be taken as a parallel to civil disobedience, in ecclesiastical disobedience, and that TEC can not therefor take the moral high ground. That being the case he opines that TEC ought to return to a position where dissent includes the willingness to suffer the consequences, and that ultimately this means TEC should agree to a two tier Anglican Communion, the consequences of its actions.

Of course no one need agree with Dr. Turner's premises: namely that ecclesial disobedience is what is at stake here, or that civil / ecclesiastical disobedience requires submission to the law.  

Having been party to several actions related to the ordination of women, the blessing of same sex partners, and the ordination of gay and lesbian persons to ministry, I have to say I did not consider these matters of disobedience, but rather matters of challenge as a subsidiary issue to the strongly affirmative action taken involving the invocation of God's blessing on people, believing that God had so blessed them and it was time to say so.

And, even supposing that ecclesiastical disobedience was the question, I do not understand willing submission as a contractual matter of such standing that disobedience requires submission.  Dr. Turner's read on the matter seems almost fatalistic: you disobey, you have to willingly submit to the punishment.  

Practitioners of civil or ecclesiastical disobedience did not generally "turn themselves in" following their disobedience. They may have expected arrest, and indeed may have understood that the arresting officers were doing what was lawfully required. They may have gone 'quietly," agreeing that they had indeed disobeyed the law. But their submission was not a relinquishing of their moral stance, indeed it was a further condemnation of the law under which they were being restrained. By suffering the consequences of disobedience (which is quite different from submitting to discipline) they often sought to condemn the very law itself. So rather than submission, civil disobedience requires non-violent non-compliance such that the evils of the law can be seen in all their clarity. Whatever else this is it is not submission.

The purpose of Turner's long essay is to turn some heads to the belief that the only proper course for TEC at this time is to submit to judgment and consider itself part of a second "level" or tier of the Anglican Communion.

The argument does not convince and we can only hope the article will be swept out of the stalls, and soon at that.

(ii) Then we get the argument from a new group formed called, "Finding Common Ground in Common Prayer." The organizers of this blog are Kathryn Peyton, a member of St Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, and Dan Van Ness, a member of TruroTEC, to determine the use of the properties held by them when they left the Diocese of Virginia and left remnant episcopal church congregants.  

Whether or not they had the right to do this, or whether or not they were willing to share the use on occasion, is not the question. What apparently is the case is that those who left retained the right to determine who could or could not use the facilities and use the equipment. That is, they kept the keys and silver.

The motivation of this effort to find a "win-win" solution could indeed be a real hope. Such a solution seems on the surface to be not only appropriately Christian in its effort to find a way for all to move beyond contention, but just as well.  There are, however, two problems: one concerning the realities in which the parties find themselves and one concerning the oddities of the moment.

The realities in which the parties find themselves:  As I understand it the properties are now in the hands of the church communities that have left The Episcopal Church. They hold the property in fact, although it is part of the legal question as to whether or not they hold the property by right of law. The negotiation of a win-win solution seems impossible so long as the people who have left TEC hold the property, negotiating a sharing of their property as if it were indeed theirs to share. Are the communities actually controlling the property willing to take a neutral stance on their right to the property, such that they negotiate from the same place as the continuing TEC congregations and the Diocese?  Will they put the property in neutral hands now in order to facilitate a negotiated settlement?

Secondly, concerning the oddities of the moment. "Finding Common Ground in Common Prayer" notes on their web page, "On December 17 Judge Randy Bellows set April 25, 2011 for the start of the trial in the second phase of litigation. The trial will be a bench trial (conducted before Judge Bellows rather than a jury)."  The blog was started on 11/27 with the intent to work a negotiated settlement, but it is rather timely, one might think, to try to negotiate a settlement quickly against the possibility that the de facto occupation of the buildings not be considered a lawful occupation. In other words, negotiating now while at least in fact in possession of the buildings makes the negotiation with decided advantage to the party in possession.  If the trial is to determine who by law possesses the buildings, it makes any sharing a matter of permission by the owner.  If there is no trial, but rather a negotiation, and if the current occupants do not give up their right of ownership, the negotiation is in no way a "win-win" proposition, because the current situation is itself a matter of win-loss. 

There is great value in negotiated settlement, but a great deal less value in one that assumes the status-quo of occupancy as proof of ownership. 

I am sorry to say that I don't believe this effort offers a genuine "win-win" proposition. I would be glad to be proved otherwise, but until then I believe we must view this effort as a "testing of the waters." 

Unless the terms of current defacto ownership are clarified, by a clear admission of the current occupants that they do not claim legal ownership to the property, this is no "win-win" negotiation. It is owners negotiating with former owners. There is something amiss here.

Well, I am sure there is more to be cleaned out. Perhaps readers will offer some opinions on the matter.  Just what of the recent writings, left, right or center, is mostly straw and worthy of being swept out of the stable?  It is a good time to clean house. After all, a clean stable is a welcoming stable.

74 comments:

  1. Once again, Dr. Turner wants to avoid an important issue: obedience to whom? He posits once again that the Anglican Communion is more than a federation, as if it were true. If the Draft Covenant is accepted by folks, then for them there is something more; but it is not the case yet.

    We can consider whether we might be more consistent, more congruent with other Anglicans - and, indeed, I think we do consider it. It remains, however, hard to think about being disobedient, when we seek to be obedient to Christ, and have no other intermediate structure to be obedient to.

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  2. Then be 'obedient' and accept that the obedience of the wider Communion cannot move to where you and parts of TEC are on this matter. Allow the covenant to function for those who want it, and whose consciences in Christ cannot permit what you endorse. Simply refuse to adopt it, and form the associations you judge proper. Jim

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  3. Bt the way, you make the point brilliantly when you write "I thought moral commitment, common belief and practice were meant to go hand in hand." Turner's point is precisely that 'moral commitment' (moving ahead with SSBs) has been made more decisive than common belief and practice and has wrecked them being 'hand in hand' (to use your language). I commend you for being honest, however, on standing in the place not of dissent (Ghandi, MLK) but of revolution. The idea of Jesus the Revolutionary goes against the entire grain of the NT, and his solidarity with the moral tradition of Israel his people -- and indeed of ratcheting it up. Jim

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  4. Jim,

    It is precisely Jesus’ “ratcheting it up” the meaning of the moral tradition of Israel (i.e. the Prophets) and his solidarity with the suffering of Israel that caused all the trouble in the first place. Association with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other assorted riff raff, was, if not revolution, then certainly was revelation of what was actually intended.

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  5. I am completely content to be held accountable by an authority to which I have promised to be accountable. The "Anglican Communion" is not that authority, TEC is. And it is the only authority to which any TEC priest has made such a promise.

    The so called "Instruments" are modern innovations and fictions made up by Dr. Turner and his dyspeptic ACI tank as a way of influencing TEC. They created this end run because they utterly failed to persuade TEC that they were right. Then they failed to bully it through threats and ultimatums.

    Then they proposed a Covenant, wrote it themselves and demanded it be signed until one of the Instruments, the ACC grabbed the central administrative role from the Primates who were preferred by the ACI. Suddenly the wonderful Covenant was already in need of revision (a position they denied when progressives argued that Ridley was just a draft). Now we hear that the Jerusalem declaration must be signed to be a true Anglican, even after British evangelicals told them to shove that ultimatum.

    Michael Russell San Diego

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  6. Fine, Mr Russell, be accountable to TEC. No one is disputing that option. Turner's essay has to do with choosing to be accountable in a bona fide Communion, via a covenant. TEC can exercise its 'right' to stay away from the Covenant. If the bulk of the Communion decides this is a relationship it wants, in Christ, then TEC can go its own way as a dissenting voice.
    Point of Order. I suspect it would be fair to say that Marcion saw Jesus as a bona fide 'revolutionary' in the sense implied from Socrates on. For Marcion, he brought a new religion and got rid of the burdens of a bad God. You are correct, Jesus is more in continuity with the Prophets of Israel, who were universaly regarded as champions of orthodoxy and defenders of God's law -- the true successors of Moses (Deut 18). Jim

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  7. PS--it is factually in error to say ACI 'invented' the instruments, the terms for which and actual existence of which long predates the ACI. Any random internet search will establish this. No point just making things up. That can confuse. Jim

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  8. I always thought that the real traditionalists in ancient Israel wear the zealots, ardent nationalists that they were.
    As I recall from my rather superficial reading that there was not much agreement among the Jews as to exactly what the tradition was at that time. The Saducees had one version, the Essenes quite another, and that it would be the Pharisees and the rabbis who would ultimately survive the catastrophes and go on to write the Talmud and create the rabbinical Judaism we know today.

    Condemned as a blasphemer by the religious authorities of the time and executed by the Romans as a political subversive is not quite my idea of "solidarity with the moral tradition of Israel." The keepers of that tradition (as variously understood) seemed eager to be rid of Him.

    Perhaps the real revolution of Jesus is far more profound than any political or social revolution, the overthrow of that whole grim formula of power vs powerlessness, "who may" vs "who must", success vs failure, strength vs weakness by which the world has always worked. Salvation has already been accomplished on behalf of all humanity.

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  9. Unless the terms of current defacto ownership are clarified, by a clear admission of the current occupants that they do not claim legal ownership to the property, this is no "win-win" negotiation.

    I disagree. Requiring any parties to a dispute to make an admission that could be used against them in the current or future litigation pretty much guarantees that a settlement won't be reached. In fact, settlement agreements typically state that nothing contained therein is meant as an admission.

    One of the problems, as I see it, with the EC's approach (and to some extent the ACNA's/CANA's/AMIA's/Etc's approach) is that it seems to be one-size-fits-all. Is that really good stewardship? In some cases, good stewardship may require fighting all the way through the judicial system. In other cases, it might be better stewardship to allow the departing congregation to buy out the EC's (and the diocese's) interest in the property (or vice versa). In some cases, good stewardship may involve transferring the property into the custody of two neutral non-Anglican families (the Church of the Holy Sepulcher apppoach). In some cases, good stewardship may require walking away from the property, especially if there isn't enough of a "faithful remnant" to keep it going, there's little or no endowment, the property is mortgage to the hilt (in which case getting the diocese released from the mortgage may need to be one of the conditions of the settlement) and is in an area where the real estate market is depressed. And, of course, there may be times when some other approach is the way to go.

    But "one-size-fits-all" just doesn't make sense. For either side.

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  10. You know, Jim, I agree with you that the ACI did not invent the Instruments. Indeed, the ACI did not invent the levels of authority that have been attributed to the Instruments, levels of authority that the Instruments have not claimed for themselves (although some primates would like to claim them for the Primates Meeting).

    Now, I also agree with you that should the Episcopal Church sign the Covenant, the Episcopal Church should abide by the Covenant; and if the Episcopal Church can't abide by it, we shouldn't sign (and I don't think we should).

    However, it jumps the gun to suggest that signing the Covenant is the definition of "a real Communion;" unless, that is, you don't think we've been a real Communion to this point. Dr. Turner jumps farther by asserting we should be accountable as if the Covenant had become the definition of the Communion, when as yet we can count on our fingers the churches of the Communion that have signed on (and we can't count Aotearoa/New Zealand/Polynesia, since they've only agreed with the first three sections). You and I might agree that the Episcopal Church shouldn't sign; but no national church can be held accountable under the terms of a Covenant that is as yet unsigned, and by so many.

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  11. Time to repeat, yet again, that Don Armstrong's former pensioners have no authority whatever beyond a strong sense of self-importance.

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  12. Bizzare: Of course they have no authority; what an obvious statement to make. The ACI cannot do anything more than a prophet could do: tell the truth. That is enough. It does make one wonder who or what DOES have authority...
    Marshall: signing a covenant will not create a communion, but it will identify those who wish to be accountable to one another and recognisible to others -- which is the point. Otherwise, what you write is largely correct. If TEC does not sign, and the majority of the communion does (a big 'if'), TEC will very quickly label what it is. Will they use the term 'communion'? I genuinely doubt it. Jim

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  13. Jim,

    Now I’m confused. If there was communion before there was a covenant, the covenant should arise out of association. The concern commonly, and in my opinion rightly, expressed is that the reason for covenant is not “organic.” It seems more a vehicle for ending the beautiful Anglican argument. As such, not only is covenant not the way forward, it disrupts the dialectic that has served us so well. If “accountability” is the reason for the covenant, it is a poor reason. And, not merely a poor reason, it is destructive as well.

    The offer by Pope Benedict to allow Anglicans to return to Rome is more of a calamity than our high volume discussion regarding the place of scripture and its interpretation. The very genesis of the Canterbury movement is partially rendered moot. But there was some good that come out of all this. Shouldn’t that be preserved and enhanced?

    We don’t need no stinkin’ covenant to be a church or to be in communion.

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  14. Point of Order--please be not confused.
    1. There is an Anglican Communion;
    2. It has Instruments and Canterbury is the means by which one associates;
    3. TEC 'tore the fabric' of the Communion;
    4. The covenant is a means of seeing to the Communion's furtherance in the light of 3.
    It is unclear why people forget basic facts like these. Is it that facts run down like batteries, and over time one can just change them and put new ones in? Number 3 above is a fact. It has been stated by all the Instruments. TEC apparently just changes the batteries on their own and says that's all that really matters. But they remain facts all the same. Jim

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  15. PS--you don't need a covenant to be a church. You don't need a covenant to maintain relations with the like-minded. Let's put this at something on the order of 20% of the Communion. But if you are talking about the Anglican Communion as it existed before 2003, that is broken. A 'beautiful anglican argument' is a figment of your imagination, and is at best an 'idea.' It is not however a Communion. As a wise head put it, 'you are entitled to your opinions, but not your facts.' Jim

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  16. I normally do not respond to comments on the blogs because more often than not their heightened rhetoric casts more heat than light. However, your response to Philip Turner’s discussion of “Dissent within a Communion of Churches” contains so many of the problems in the blogosphere that I believe a response is in order.
    You begin, as blogs often do, with a rhetorical device (calling the article barn yard offal) that results only in getting those who agree with you to read further and those who do not simply to dismiss what you might have to say. This sort of device is common enough but sadly it serves to heighten division rather than engage a serious argument in a serious manner. It in no way serves to further a necessary debate.
    Of course you go on to call the paper’s argument about ecclesiastical disobedience “silly,” thereby suggesting it does not merit a serious response. Unfortunately there is no way for your readers to know whether the argument is silly or not, because you do not present the actual argument made.
    1. You assert rather than argue that the argument about “federation or association” is a “bugaboo.” What about the argument is a “bugaboo?” Most members of the Anglican Communion believe that TEC is in fact seeking to change the communion into a federation or association, and they believe this change is both substantive and theologically inadequate. Why are they silly?
    2. You suggest that they are silly because they worry that TEC is elevating moral commitment over common belief and practice. Your response is that you thought they go together, implying that there is nothing to fuss over. The paper does not say that they do not go together. It says that belief and practice cannot be relegated to the margins within a communion of churches as TEC now seeks to do. Why is this concern about reducing communion to moral commitment “silly?”
    3. You acknowledge that TEC’s actions suggest revolution rather than reform, but in doing so commit a bit of rhetorical slight of hand that leads you to miss the paper’s actual argument as to why TEC’s actions suggest revolution rather than reform. The sort of revolution with which the paper charges TEC does not, as you suggest, have to do with its dissent from and recasting of the sexual ethic of both the Western and Eastern churches. It has to do with a clear attempt, in defense of dissent and reformulation, to change the nature of Anglicanism by reducing communion to a form of federation or association. Here you not only blur the distinction the paper makes between reform and revolution. You provide a clear example of cutting the suit to fit the cloth. It is a move that gives TEC maximum autonomy to make desired changes; but it is not the way in which most Anglicans understand communion. Once again, one wonders why you think them silly.
    4. Next, in response to the paper’s claim that the moral tradition of civil disobedience requires willingness to submit to punishment you simply assert that one need not agree that ecclesial disobedience is what is at issue or that it requires submission. Of course, your readers need not agree that ecclesial disobedience is what is at issue here. But if it is not, why is it not? Assertions to the contrary do not an argument make. And, of course, it is true that practitioners of civil disobedience need not turn themselves in. It is also true that those in authority need not impose sanctions. The tradition of civil disobedience never said either of these things. Why do you suggest this to be the case?
    5. Finally, it is, as you rightly say, utterly true that those who practice civil and ecclesial disobedience do so in order to make evil plainly visible. What is not true is that, as you suggest, this is what the moral tradition of civil disobedience means by submission. Running the notions of non-compliance and submission together, as you do, is again rhetorical slight of hand. It does nothing to aid a communion as it struggles to find a suitable way both to practice and address dissent.

    Africanus

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  17. I normally do not respond to comments on the blogs. However, your response to Philip Turner’s “Dissent within a Communion of Churches” contains so many of the problems with the blogosphere that a response is in order.
    You begin with a rhetorical device (calling the article barn yard offal) that results in getting those who agree with you to read further and those who do not to dismiss what you might have to say. The device in no way serves to further a necessary debate.
    You then call the paper’s argument “silly,” suggesting it does not merit a serious response. Unfortunately there is no way for your readers to know whether the argument is silly or not because you do not present the actual argument.
    1. You assert rather than demonstrate that the argument about “federation or association” is a “bugaboo.” What about the argument is a “bugaboo?” Most Anglican think this way. Why are they silly?
    2. You suggest they are silly because they worry that TEC is elevating moral commitment over common belief and practice. You respond these go together. The paper does not say they don’t. It says that belief and practice cannot be relegated to the margins. Why is this concern “silly?”
    3. You acknowledge that TEC’s actions suggest revolution rather than reform, but in doing so commit a bit of rhetorical slight of hand that leads you to miss the paper’s actual argument. The sort of revolution with which the paper charges TEC does not have to do with its dissent from and recasting of the sexual ethic of both the Western and Eastern churches. It has to do with a clear attempt, in defense of dissent and reformulation, to change the nature of Anglicanism by reducing communion to a form of federation or association. Why you think your opponents silly?
    4. Next, in response to the claim that the moral tradition of civil disobedience requires willingness to submit to punishment you simply assert that one need not agree that ecclesial disobedience is what is at issue or that it requires submission. Of course, your readers need not agree that ecclesial disobedience is what is at issue here. And, of course, it is true that practitioners of civil disobedience need not turn themselves in. The tradition of civil disobedience never said either of these things.
    5. True, those who practice civil and ecclesial disobedience do so in order to make evil plainly visible. What is not true is that this is what the moral tradition of civil disobedience means by submission. Running the notions of non-compliance and submission together is again rhetorical slight of hand.

    Africanus

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  18. Christopher (P.)21/12/10 5:28 PM

    Jim--

    I see that you think that such items as 3 are "facts"--but at most they are "willful facts," that is, they are willed one way and can be willed another. As often told, to show God's love one does not rely on emotion, but rather on will. My point is that if one church decides not to be in communion with another, that is a decision of the will, and can be reversed by another decision of the will. TEC has not broken communion with any other church of the Anglican Communion. It is thus false to say that it has broken the communion! And it is false to say that the communion is irretrievably broken. First, it requires but an act of the will to reestablish communion between churches, where only one of the pair has broken it off and the other of the pair remains willing. Second, it seems to be ABC RW's opinion that the Communion exists--he is at pains to say that the Covenant leads only to enhanced relationships, while the Communion subsists regardless of subscription to the Covenant.

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  19. My point three is placed in quotes precisely because it states a Communion view, held by the wider leadership. TEC was asked not to do something, and it decided to ignore that. In consequence, a sizeable bloc of provinces decided they were no longer in communion with TEC. That is not a willful fact but a fact simpliciter. It is not a direct analogy, with Arius did not decide to 'break communion' with the conciliar church; he acted as one with a view that Christ was not 'of one substance' and so placed himself outside the church's faith and teaching. He willed this, to use your language. TEC is willing a fact about SSBs, and in response, the wider communion is in a torn state. The covenant could enhance the communion, that is true. But it could also restore its basic sense of identity and trust.
    Now, while we are cleaning out the offal from stalls, I hope Fr Harris can clean up his own remarks by responding to the questions put above by Africanus. Jim

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  20. PS--RDW has also said some fairly dark things about the state of the Communion, and that cannot be swept aside. It is also for this reason that he has been denounced by so many who are friends of TEC's agenda. Jim

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  21. I commented on the Covenant blog, where the paper is posted, that, although I myself have used the civil disobedience analogy, it is a far from perfect one. When I blocked the entrance to a federal court house in 1972, I was aware that there was a specific law, with defined punishment, that I was breaking. That was never the case with any of the actions that have been claimed as tearing the Communion. People have frequently, but I think mistakenly, seen Lambeth resolutions as either law or expressions of the mind of the Communion. They are simply expressions of the mind of the majority of a small but important minority of the members of the churches of the Communion at a particular time. They have never been binding on any of the churches of the Communion except when a church decides, through its synod's actions, to make them binding. Member churches have chosen to ignore Lambeth resolutions in the past and the Communion survived. We may have been naive to think that it would survive a disagreement about same-sexuality, underestimating the grip that sexism and heterosexism has on people.

    I do accept that there are consequences to any action, even if the consequences are not clearly defined beforehand. If there are churches in the Communion that cannot in conscience remain in a Communion that includes TEC, I can live with that.

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  22. Daniel Weir’s post provides yet another example of the issue Philip Turner has with the original post of Father Harris—it does not respond to the actual argument of his paper. The paper does not claim a perfect analogy. It is fully aware that in the case of the Anglican Communion one is not dealing with a juridical authority whose resolutions are binding on member provinces. The argument is that TEC has acted in dissent to the moral authority of its Instruments of Communion and its established teaching and not, as you say, “to small but important minority.” The issue posed is how a communion without a central jurisdiction is to address dissent from the requests of its instruments and established teaching. The paper is concerned to say that the moral tradition of civil disobedience can provide both dissenting churches and the communion as a whole a way to address dissent that does not destroy but strengthens communion. Why is it that there is such reluctance to engage the actual point? And, finally, why dismiss those brothers and sisters with whom you disagree with the ad hominem claim that they are simply prejudiced. Have you considered the possibility that they disagree with you and that they have actual reasons for doing so? If this move could be made, there might be a possibility for Godly conversation.

    Africanus

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  23. Thank you Africanus for seeking to life the level so that an actual exchange could take place, rather than the usual blog dismissal. I also wonder if it is the policy of Fr Harris that, when confronted with questions, he simply writes a fresh column and moves on?
    I also found the comments from Fr Weir confusing. He says that people are acting out of conscience, but in fact they are prejudiced. Is it possible that people acting out of conscience are acting out of Christian conscience--the teaching of Jesus Christ as the church has received this--and not out of prejudice at all? Jim

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  24. "If there are churches in the Communion that cannot in conscience remain in a Communion that includes TEC, I can live with that." (Fr Daniel Weir)

    Here in a nutshell is a considerable issue: (1) TEC does what it wills, even if it is against the substantial teaching at the centre of the Communion's life (successively affirmed in various Communion meetings, commissions, etc); (2) TEC ignores disagreement and dispute over its actions; (3) Because of (1) and (2) some leave the Communion (and even the dignity of leaving in good conscience is flung back in their faces as 'prejudice'); (4) Inevitably the Communion's substantial teaching becomes more aligned with TEC's teaching than with the (former) centre of its life; (5) The (quite possible) long-term consequence of TEC's action and stubborn resistance to consequences for its life in the Communion is ... a TEC-shaped, even dominated Communion.

    But do not worry, All is Well, Nothing is Wrong, and ACI speaks Rubbish.

    Something is not quite right here.

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  25. Christopher (P.)22/12/10 3:26 PM

    Jim and Africanus--

    The point that I don't see either of you acknowledging is that TEC has done no wrong--in the sense of a contravention of rules set down by an agreed-upon authority. There is no such authority, and there is no "established teaching," as there is no establishment to make such teaching. There is rather only the agreed-to statements of bodies that have very limited authority, most of which is related to policing their own composition and internal actions. And without the authority, there can be no transgression.

    I do agree that moral authority may be involved (in distinction to Constitutional or legal authority). But I would say that the claim that TEC has violated the moral authority of the Instruments is debatable. First of all, TEC's actions were themselves the products to vigorous internal discussion conducted over many years. They were not rushed through or lightly taken, or taken for ulterior reasons; and they were taken by Constitutional means of long standing, well attested and agreed to. This accords them their own moral weight against which others must contend. Second, the moral authority of the Instruments, while it may be considerable, can be scrutinized and found wanting in many cases. In particular, the Lambeth Resolution of 1998 does have a rushed--dare I say, railroaded--quality in the manner of its adoption. This lessens its moral force. Similarly, the personal views of some of the Primates; the policy positions of the churches that they lead and over which they have considerable power; as well as some Primates' actions in refusing to take counsel and communion together, all serve to lessen their moral voice. The moral weight does not all accrue to the Instruments.

    The oldest canard is "they made me do it." Let the ones who broke communion stand up and admit to it, rather than saying, "they made me do it." TEC has not broken communion, nor has it broken The Communion, despite many unfair and false efforts to tar it with this libel. As far as far as I am aware, TEC remains open to the restoration of friendly relations--and full communion--with all churches in the Anglican Communion. The ball is indeed in their court.

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  26. As I recall, it was not the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church who boycotted Communion at Dromantine and Dar-Es-Salaam.

    Just who broke communion with whom?

    I must have missed the announcement that the Nicene Creed has been amended to include teachings on sexuality.

    To this non-clerical pew-sitter, the fuss over this issue is wildly disproportionate. I fail to see how the gay issue or gender issues rise to the level of an argument over the Trinity, or over the Resurrection. These are not my idea of Communion breaking issues.

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  27. I should add that over time, this fuss will look even more wildly disproportionate as the Western world moves on to greater equality for women and sexual minorities (and as expectations continue to rise among women and sexual minorities in the rest of the world).

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  28. "...the Lambeth Resolution of 1998 does have a rushed--dare I say, railroaded--quality".

    Indeed it does, Christopher, and 182 bishops, eight primates among them, signed a Pastoral Statement to Lesbian and Gay Anglicans, apologizing for for any sense of rejection that has occurred because of Lambeth 1.10 and pledging to continue to reflect, pray, and work for your full inclusion in the life of the Church.

    Its signers, include Rowan Williams, then bishop of Monmouth.

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  29. If you all will let the fog clear, Pete Carrell has stated precisely where the communion is. He is also correct that TEC does not care. The hard thing is, TEC could do what it wants and care both, and not bring the communion into such straits; it could 'dissent' as Turner puts it. I await the howls of objection, but Carrell has stated the way it looks when one is outside the TEC-arama. 80% of the Communion does not want to move to the place TEC wishes to move. That is a fact. Jim

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  30. Although I have tried to stop concerning myself with the future of the Communion and don't really want to get involved in lengthy discussions of Dr. Turner's paper. The point I made may well have been tangential to Dr. Turner's, but I didn't claim that it was a response to everything that he wrote. The elevation of the Lambeth Conference to a central teaching role in the Communion is a very recent innovation and one on which there is nothing like consensus within the Communion, so I wish we would stop pretending that it is more than it is.

    I never mentioned prejudice. I used sexism and heterosexism simply to mean the assertion of straight male privilege. One cannot deny that such an assertion is at work in this debate, no matter how much one insists that it is God's will that this privilege exist.

    As far as I can tell, TEC does not insist that the rest of the Communion follow the course we are taking and I find grand conspiracy theories that assert that we are rather silly. All we are trying to do is live out the Gospel as we have come to understand it. If we are wrong - and we all are wrong in some way or another - we rely upon the mercy of God.

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  31. Wait wait... don't tell me.... AFFIRMING all the baptized in the ministry of the Church and reconciling the world to God through Christ is dissent and tearing the fabric of the Communion?

    Huh....

    Go figure.

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  32. "80% of the Communion does not want to move to the place TEC wishes to move."

    Fine, then let's hear from 80% of the Communion. Clearly there doesn't appear to be anything like "monolithic solidarity" behind the Jerusalem Declaration primates. If there was such solidarity, then certain central African countries would not be resorting to intimidation and terror tactics.

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  34. When it becomes the case that the standard account for progressives is that the Communion was unaffected by TEC's actions; and that the fault lies with those who wanted to believe there was common belief and practice (ergo, a Communion), then we see how true Turner's account is. We have had a revolution (Fr Harris seems proud to state this, and his candor is refreshing). And yet we also haven't.
    I suspect that the 80% of the Communion that does not agree with the change in practice and teaching will either adopt a covenant to indicate their Communion furtherance, or they will find other means to indicate that. It doesn't look like they will just fold their hands, and also the Jerusalem statement is not galvanizing them as a group. TEC will find its allies here and there. The CofE will probably be most affected. But if the covenant is approved and then we have a movement in this direction by the Communion, with TEC standing aside, we'd probably see the majority of the Communion in some kind of clear association. But this is all conjecture and a lot will turn on the events of 2011.

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  35. "...the fault lies with those who wanted to believe there was common belief and practice (ergo, a Communion)..."

    1. There has never been common belief or practice among Christians --not even in the first generation of Christians. That's why there are four Gospels.

    2. Common belief and practice is not the basis for Communion --eating together is. --Despite our differences. (Even the Romans don't have common belief and practice --hence married priests and Anglican rites--among others.

    --it's margaret

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  36. That is nonsense. Of course there has been common belief and practice: creeds, calendars, rites. Common does not mean uniform, it means recognisable to one another. TEC acted in a way that made it unrecognisable as a anglican body, in the view of many and against the warnings of all. That is surely not in doubt. Indeed, to speak of revolution means precisely to depart from common practice and belief. 'New Truth' of the kind touted in TEC means exactly to be displacing and replacing. Just listen to the comments of someone like Mark Brunson in blogdom. Those who do not join in the revolution are demon possessed. Jim

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  37. Two more comments:

    I would disagree that TEC has departed from the essential common beliefs and practices of the Communion. We still have creeds, liturgy, the calendar of the Church Year, the Bible. What we have is a disagreement about whether one interpretation of the Bible's teaching about intimacy can claim canonical status.

    I was just struck by something odd about Dr. Turner's title, i.e., "how to dissent." Perhaps he should read Dr. King's Letter for the Birmingham Jail after some of the city's white clergy tried to tell him how to dissent. When did the defenders of discrimination get to tell us how to dissent?

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  38. Africanus wrote, "Daniel Weir’s post provides yet another example of the issue Philip Turner has with the original post of Father Harris—it does not respond to the actual argument of his paper."

    I have looked at all the comments here and can't find one from Dr. Turner. Is Turner posting anonymously or is some new age orthodox Anglican chanelling him? :)

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  39. It's not nonsense. The Coptic Church is not anything like the Church in Russia, Jerusalem or Rome, much less Canterbury or Sarum. Never has been.

    As to "creeds, calendars, rites" --we have not abandoned any of these.

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  40. Margaret--you have made the point admirably. Where once anglicans across the communion recognised one another, now they don't. Why? Because of TEC's actions that, as the Communion indicated, 'tore the fabric.' The various Prayerbooks, and saints Days, and commemorations -- in spite of these, all agreed that we were still within a 'family resemblence.' Others knew who we were as well. No longer. Jim

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  41. So Christian identity rests no longer with the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed, but with opposition to gay ordinations and equality, and opposition to women's equality.

    Got it.

    Nigerian Anglicans and Iranian Shiites can now embrace each other as fellow Christians. On that score, they have far more in common with each other than either does with the Episcopal Church.

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  42. Jim --first you said, "That is nonsense." Then you said, "you have made the point admirably."

    So... hmmmm.... which is it?!

    And I don't understand why the blessing of faithful Christian relationships tears at any one's fabric... and we are not the ones who have walked away from the table. Why can't this be one of the recognized "differences"? If Rome can accept Greek-rite (Albanian--Uniate) or Anglican-rite married priests... why are we not able to recognize other faithful relationships.

    And, yes, Counterlight has hit the nail on the head --it's not about rite, creed or anything else you've been spouting Jim --it's about gender and sexual orientation.

    Convince me otherwise.

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  43. Margaret has a point when she says, "And I don't understand why the blessing of faithful Christian relationships tears at any one's fabric... and we are not the ones who have walked away from the table. Why can't this be one of the recognized "differences"? If Rome can accept Greek-rite (Albanian--Uniate) or Anglican-rite married priests... why are we not able to recognize other faithful relationships." A key word here is "recognized". How would such difference be recognised? By others, of course! That is, by the wider Communion. Problem: in various ways the wider Communion does not seem to be doing that recognizing. Nor for that matter has TEC asked for that recognition. It has acted first! A right old mess. But apparently not actually the responsibility of TEC ...

    But Margaret's point about recognised differences within the Roman Communion of western and eastern churches, and across all churches would be strengthened if we were talking about different kinds of marriages being recognised. But we are not. Where Catholic and Orthodox clergy marriages are accepted it is that old fashioned, heterosexual variety, held in common through the ages, same for laity as for clergy. Fact is: despite differences, commonality in belief for Christians has included the nature of marriage, as well as creeds, Scripture, commemorations.

    The sheer novelty of any church, let alone a global church or communion of churches recognising the blessing of same sex relationships just might be underestimated by those progressing such a cause.

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  44. Well, this is all exceedingly depressing and sin full. "See how these chreestians (spelling intended)love one another." Must the Body of Christ be crucified, dead and buried in every generation? Maybe that is what the Mass is all about--- not an amamnesis, but a "doing it all over again" for the first time for each "generation for those who have no imagination" as Shaw had St. Joan ask. The only thing that gives me ANY hope for ANY of the Christian Churches is that when we have finally killed it dead, the Gospel will still be proclaimed by the very stones of the ground. Can any of you tell me a good reason to be a part of all this?

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  45. Here is a painting from 1434 of a betrothal between two children of wealthy Florentine banking agents in Flanders. Their parents spent a lot of money on this painting by Jan Van Eyck.

    http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/Images/ARTH_214images/van_eyck/arnolfini/painting.jpg

    Betrothal in those days was a legally (and religiously) binding contract upon the intended future husband to marry this girl. The man in this painting takes his fiance's right hand in his left and raises his right hand pledging to marry her. Failure to honor that pledge would put him in legal peril and in peril of his soul.
    No doubt this union is the result of months of negotiations between these two families. The whole point of this union is to produce male offspring to inherit the family fortunes. I suspect these two young people hardly knew each other, and probably didn't like each other much. Whether or not they really cared for each other is beside the point. Love in those days was for children, not spouses.
    This was a fairly typical marriage of the time, even up and down the class hierarchy. It is no accident that all of the love stories of that time (including Dante's famous infatuation with Beatrice Portinari) were about adulterous infatuations and affairs.
    The idea that people fall in love and then marry is an 18th century innovation unique to the West. Marriage was originally about property, about offspring (especially male children), and about inheritance.

    So, what exactly is Christian marriage? These two people from 1434 took it for granted that theirs was a Christian marriage. And yet, a similar arrangement for similar reasons would be considered scandalous by today's standards.

    Saint Paul, as I recall, grudgingly tolerated marriage at best. He believed that the faithful best remain celibate. Most marriages described in the Bible are polygamous (the Mormon fundamentalists are right about that).

    So what is this unchanging eternal sacred institution of Christian marriage everyone intends to break apart the Communion and shun folks and declare anathemas upon whole classes of people for?

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  46. Yes, Peter, indeed. Recognized.

    When the woman washed the feet of the Lord --touching him in public, she was chastised and told to go away by other faithful disciples. Jesus said, Leave her be. He recognized her and her offering. It only took SOME PARTS of the church 2,000 years, give or take a decade, to catch up --to recognize women --much less make it okay to touch in public a man to whom one is not married.

    And there are still parts of the church that do not recognize women as having an active, public part in serving the Lord. To their loss. And it's kinda silly, given it was the Virgin Mary who first made ordinary bread and ordinary wine in to the living body and blood of Christ.

    Now again, there are some parts of the church who see God at work in all the baptized --regardless of gender or sexual orientation. And we wish to see them as having an active, public part in serving the Lord. We have openly and publicly discerned this action for 40 years and more. Nothing has been hidden. This is not sudden.

    And now others stand like Pharisees and condemn us for breaking some law or another. And for eating with those they perceive as worse than outlaws.

    Yet, we are still Christians who hold the creed, calendars and rites of the church --that is what we have been talking about, yes?

    We have condemned no one and yet stand condemned...

    But it is not we who have left the Table and torn the fabric of the Communion. Think again.

    JW (my beloved husband) --my love, this is sinful only in that some condemn. And, dearest one, you stand among the condemned.

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  47. Breaking news. +NJ is negotiating with a parish seeking to remain a part of the 'former TEC teaching' prior to the 'new truth' of the present TEC. This is a gracious acknowledgment. It also avoids costly lawsuits. I wonder how this new policy has come about, but thank God for it. +VA tried this and was called back. Are we entering a new season? Thank God for +George C.

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  48. Hi Margaret and Counterlight,

    Many terrible things have happened in the history of the church which only a fool would seek to defend in the light of today's understanding. Yet I would gently respond re the ways in which marriage has changed through the centuries that a constant feature, against which novelty might be measured, is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    It is the character of novelty and how it is received which is at issue here, not whether this one (married to someone of the same gender) or that one (left TEC for ACNA) is wrongly or rightly condemned. Is novelty to be introduced through action with theological justification following or the other way around?

    Again, only a fool would not appreciate that TEC in certain matters has found that action carries the day. But can TEC appreciate that the Communion might wish, on some matters at least, to reflect first and act afterwards? And what are we to do about our Communion relationships if TEC insists its way of progressing issues is valid, and the Communion resists that insistence?

    Fr Daniel Weir earlier in this thread raised the significant point that TEC is willing for the Communion to diminish in order for its way to prevail.

    Perhaps that is what will happen.

    I guess none of us reading here will live long enough to see whether the future of Christianity lies with an orthodoxy which includes a traditional doctrine of marriage or with an orthodoxy that includes a changed doctrine of marriage!

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  49. There is nothing new going on in New Jersey. That diocese has had a decision in place regarding the sale of surplus properties since 2008. If the bishop and standing committee determine that the property is not vital to the ongoing mission of the diocese, then the policy is to allow it to be sold.

    The important point being made Anonymous, is that the seller must needs be the owner to be able to sell it. So once again we see affirmed that people can leave TEC, parishes cannot. And if the parish is no longer populated, the property reverts to the diocese.

    •••••

    Counterlight, are you sure that is what is depicted in that painting? Because that lass surely looks knocked up to me!

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  50. Is novelty to be introduced through action with theological justification following or the other way around?

    Again, only a fool would not appreciate that TEC in certain matters has found that action carries the day. But can TEC appreciate that the Communion might wish, on some matters at least, to reflect first and act afterwards?


    Peter, you are being purposely obtuse again. I have pointed out to you numerous times in comments on your own blog that TEC has not "introduced [novelty] through action with theological justification following." Here in a comment, the Revd. Margaret has again stated that TEC has not "introduced [novelty] through action with theological justification following." TEC and ACCanada have spent years in theological study and dialog. After those many years, both provinces have acted. None of that theological reflection was held in secret, the entire Communion was aware of the struggles in which the two churches were embroiled.

    As far as the Communion goes, if you are implying that we must take matters to the Communion's provinces first before any individual province takes an action, then I suggest that you run home and board up the windows of your own glass house in ACANZP, because there is a long history of provinces being engaged in internal reflection and then individual action in the Anglican Communion, and no history of things being carried out in the manner which you keep insisting that we must follow.

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  51. Fr Peter Carrell wrote, "Fr Daniel Weir earlier in this thread raised the significant point that TEC is willing for the Communion to diminish in order for its way to prevail."

    That would be one way to spin what I wrote. Yes, I believe the Communion would be poorer without all of us in it. I wasn't speaking, however, for TEC. How does staying in communion with TEC mean our way prevails? We haven't insisted that other churches agree with what we have done. All we have asked is for others to consider whether or not they can remain in communion with us without our abandoning a path which we believe God has called us to follow. If the answer is no, I am willing to accept that no, and I think many others in TEC are as well. Not without a great deal of sadness, but as the price we all pay for the integrity of our convictions, and I include in "all" people in all the Communion's member churches. What I have found most disturbing over the past seven years is how quickly people broke communion with us and our Canadian friends, much more rapidly than TEC or the ACofC made any of the decisions and took any of the actions that have so offended others.

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  52. Hi David,
    I am not being purposely obtuse! I may be mistaken, so more than willing to stand corrected, but I thought my years of reading about the significance of 2003's ordination of Gene Robinson had revealed from within TEC's own ranks an admission that practical action such as that had gotten ahead of formal theological reflection reported to, received and adopted by the General Convention. (Of course lots of theological reflection here and there has gone on in this group and that seminary, but that is not quite the same as GC-commissioned and GC-adopted work prior to a GC-resolution).

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  53. Christopher (P.)24/12/10 6:51 AM

    Jim--

    The issues with respect to the Dio of Va is not so clear cut. The Diocese negotiated an agreement with All Saints, Dale City, that supported the ongoing mission of the congregation that left. Not every negotiation is successful--the issues with the other dissolving/departing congregations in Virginia are complex. But negotiation is not ruled out--it just may not succeed every time.

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  54. Dahveed
    The woman (Giovanna Cenami) is not pregnant. In fact, this marriage ended in annulment and childless after only 2 years.
    The artist deliberately made her pose and the lifting up of her skirts suggestive of pregnancy (not that she is also standing by the bed). A male child was the hoped for outcome of this marriage.

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  55. Could someone much better than I am at finding things on the internet in English please provide the Revd. Peter Carrell with all of the links to where he can find the documents of the study of the theology regarding the ministry of all of the baptized that was commissioned at various times in the last forty years in TEC? I am pretty sure that the Revd Susan Russell has such a post as well as others, but I cannot find them. I vaguely remember one at the Lead as well.

    Also links to GC resolutions regarding impediments to ordination.

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  56. Peter:

    We might remember that the works of Hooker and Jewell were neither "commissioned" in the sense you would commend for the Episcopal Church. Now, a great deal of study, and many sponsored pieces, were part of revision of the Book of Common Prayer. However, this change of discipline, since it wasn't a change of creedal doctrine need not, I think, require General Convention's authorization to be part of our consideration.

    Moreover, critical parts of the consideration were not ecclesiasticall at all, but were medical and psychiatric. Surely we would not think we should ignore such information, even though the Episcopal Church neither produced nor sponsored it.

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  57. Hi David and Marshall

    I have in mind a report which I have now tracked down, http://www.collegeforbishops.org/assets/1145/ss_document_final.pdf , entitled Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church, commissioned by TEC's HOB in 2008 and published earlier this year, March, 2010.

    Interestingly this commission could not arrive at a unified report but consists of two reports brought together in one document, one by 'traditionalists' and one by 'liberals.'

    I agree that much Anglican theological work goes on which is not commissioned but turns out to be of a kind that can be appealed to as a kind of authority within global Anglicanism. Nevertheless such authorities can be much disputed or claimed by different sides (Hooker is a good example!).

    In the end a decision on some matters needs to be made. Sometimes a decision can be pragmatic with the theology catching up later (we know a bit about that in New Zealand, and sometimes the theology never arrives!). Sometimes a decision can be reached with assumptions that all the theological work has been done, and it turns out it has not.

    My overarching question here is whether it is helpful to the good of the Communion for TEC to have acted either ahead of its "official" theology, or on the basis of a broad assumption that the theology has been done. Elsewhere in the Communion we might like to know exactly where that theological work resides on which a decision has been made. Having been pointed to it, we may, or may not find it persuasive.

    In the case of the 2010 report to the HOB, cited above, is it not interesting that the wider Communion sees a lack of theological agreement within TEC? By which part of that report are we meant to be persuaded?

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  58. In the case of the 2010 report to the HOB, cited above, is it not interesting that the wider Communion sees a lack of theological agreement within TEC? By which part of that report are we meant to be persuaded?

    It appears that you give the "2" reports equal weight Peter. And yet to most of us it is exactly as the situation exists in TEC; there is a majority of an understanding that the Church is acting upon, and a minority whose star has waned, which holds to a different understanding.

    And yet behold, this is but the latest time that TEC has approached the theology of the matter. This was a very definitive answer to the Communion in 2005;
    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/ToSetOurHopeOnChrist.pdf

    Now Peter, you may choose to find fault with the arguments and findings of TEC in this document, but you at least have to stop repeating the fib. It may not garner your seal of approval, but TEC has been engaged in doing the work, doing the theology, for a considerable time.

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  59. In the case of the 2010 report to the HOB, cited above, is it not interesting that the wider Communion sees a lack of theological agreement within TEC? By which part of that report are we meant to be persuaded?

    Do you view that the 2 reports bare equal weight Peter? They represent the state of TEC at this moment; the position of the minority in TEC whose star has waned and the report of the majority view upon which TEC has acted.

    But these are not the first time TEC has spoken on the issue. Her answer to the Communion was much more thorough in 2005;
    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/ToSetOurHopeOnChrist.pdf

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  60. Peter Carrell--don't worry about the report saying two opposite things. Let David assure you that the view he doesn't agree with is the 'minority' one, and the other view is really the right one (though it is of course the minority position among catholic christians in general). There is some truly revolutionary argument in the position he labels 'majority' reflecting the novel thinking of Gay theologian Eugene Rogers. But it will take revolutionary arguments to reverse the teaching of the Christian Church as assumed for all generations. Why did you fail to see that TEC had done its homework in this fine report? The fault must be your own and others. Jim

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  61. I acknowledge - quickly and without equivocation - that TEC's position on same-sexuality is new. Consider, however, the way our position on other issues changed in the past: slavery, birth control, the ordination of women, people of color, people who are deaf. The majority view on all these issues changed over time in TEC and other churches. Whether we will see a similar change on the issue of same-sex marriage remains to be seen.

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  62. I think that by now Jim folks can see that you pretty much say what you wish regardless of whether it is true. They will see that your synopsis is not at all what I stated in my comment. You pretty well mangled every line.

    Susan Russell said it well once, "For them, it's not about wrestling through differences and finding compromises in order to come to consensus and accommodate as broad a range of perspectives as possible within the container of Anglican comprehensiveness that calls all people into communion with God and with each other.

    It's a face off between Good and Evil.

    And they're the Good Guys. Up against "Capital E" Evil. And therefore, all bets are off. When you're defending the Alamo of Orthodoxy, the gloves are off, the rules don't apply and what you do or don't do -- the truth you tell or don't tell -- the confidences you breach and the colleagues you betray are all in the service of The Absolute Truth ... which you have and the Bad Guys don't.

    Whether it's posting emails from a confidential list to a polemic blog or perpetuating disinformation about the Episcopal Church in the national news media, it's all good ... because it's all FOR the "Capital G" Good they're fighting for."


    But what shall likely be true is that in barely three generations your take on what is the majority and historic view of the Church will have literally died out to a tiny lot. The younger generations do not swallow the hatred and bigotry of your patriarchal positions. They have no issues with their sexual minority friends. Those of us who are younger will celebrate the day. Will you live long enough to watch your own demise?

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  63. Dear Brother Daahveed, I think it would be much easier if you simply conceded that you have run out of room and developed an argument that went nowhere and were called on it.
    Daniel: your honesty is refreshing. Jesus healed the blind, the OT never condoned 'chattel slavery'; it pronounced the death sentence over kidnapping. Such slavery was undone by english evangelicals apprealing to scripture's word, not by appeals to enlightenment and new truth. Intercourse between men or women -- no culture has said, even non-christian ones, that such conduct would be conducive, finally, to society's flourishing. Are we witnessing an exception to all that? That seems to be your argument, though you also seem to concede that this is a path that may be unclear. If it turns out that sexual conduct was intended by God for one man and one woman, for life, then that will be a reality like a kind of slow-effect gravity. As God always does, he will allow time and room for repentence. But eventually his 'giving over' to our wishes will catch up with his will in creation in Christ. You appear to believe that we ought to see this out. Does that include pronouncing God's blessing over same-sexual conduct, formally? That is a direction conservatives are fearful to go. For blessing that for which God has not given clear warrant is not a matter of individual conscience, but of invoking God's Holy Name. Hence the caution and concern at offense. Jim

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  64. Peter, the paper includes two "reports" because we're honest that we don't all agree. However, the allegations have been that we acted without doing the theology. No, we haven't united around a conclusion; but, as you noted, many things we find seminal we still have disagreements about.

    What might we call "official?" Central to the Prayer Book tradition as we understand it is that our most important theological statement is the Book of Common Prayer itself, and in how we use it in worship. Scripture? Creeds? Episcopate? Sacraments? The most important things we say about these marks of the Church are how we use them in the Book of Common Prayer. Even the Articles of Religion, which are not recognized so universally in the Anglican tradition as some would pretend, are available in the Prayer Book.

    What else might we call "official?" Statements and actions reached through our various "constitutional processes." Well, we have acted in General Convention, and have made a number of statements over the past 30 years. In that time our statements have changed, but they are no less "official."

    Moreover, you still haven't addressed how we should respond to medical and psychiatric changes. In our sacramental tradition, we understand that God can and does act in persons and events that are not "official." We appreciate that all knowledge is first God's knowledge. So, we have responded to those changes, those papers. Should we not?

    We do not function with a Roman-style magisterium. We do not issue encyclicals. We have acted as "officially" as any national church might. We know others have not found our reasons compelling, nor would have, however we might have framed them. That doesn't change the fact that we have acted "officially."

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  65. Hi Marshall,

    I have nearly posted a long answer to your points re the BCP, etc. But each response might unnecessarily prolong an already long thread :)

    So a simple observation: TEC has done enough theological work to persuade itself (i.e. a majority within its ranks) that the course it is on is the right one. I accept that.

    I wonder if we are in the Communion pickle we are in because we are realising that TEC has not done enough work to persuade the Communion (i.e. a majority in each of the Instruments of Unity) that the course it is on is the right one, let alone that it is the course the Communion should be on.

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  66. Peter, we keep trying to tell you that we do not give a flying dill pickle if the Communion is persuaded that the course TEC or ACCanada are on is the right one for each of them. And neither province is asking that the Communion make the same journey. That is a decision that we will all expect each province to search out and make for itself.

    As ACANZP did not ask the Communion to be persuaded that the course it took to become a three Katanga province was right for it. Nor did you ask the Communion to make that same journey to become a multi-Katanga fellowship.

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  67. Hi David,
    Flying dill pickles or otherwise, it is possible to recognise that TEC doesn't care whether others agree with it or not, yet ask the question whether the Communion sees things the same way or not: apparently a significant section of the Communion does not. Further, it is reasonable to ask under what conditions the Communion might meet together in toto in respect of the TEC course is on. Naturally if we do not discuss that question because we do not think it pertinent to raise the question then we will continue to be in the pickle we are in.

    Within ACANZP I think it would be helpful if the Communion started acting as though it matters that we have an unusual episcopal arrangement re our three tikanga constitution (and not just being occasionally reminded about a Primatial reprimand given about 20 years ago). Our arrangements do not work as well as we sometimes make out and it would be useful to have a prod which catalysed a timely and overdue review!

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  68. David - you quote / talk about new generations taking a line more like TEC..... but how does that fit with TEC figures which show very few people under the age of 50 reguarly attending. Rick Warren and many people like him seem to attract more young Americans...... you cannot talk of TEC appealing to younger Americans when its own figures show it really does not attract many.

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  69. Bingo, anonymous. David has fantasies like this and other ones --how the US Supreme Court declared TEC hierarchical, etc. The character of special pleading must be ratcheted up because the facts are so obviously not there. Hooker becomes the proponent of a stool where Reason is modern 'science' improving on the Bible, and 'science' is a selective account of what it means to have desires. This entire crazy-quilt of innovation is supposed to be the wave of the Christian future, and yet there is so little evidence that 'Christianity' is thriving with it. TEC's under-25 growth has been in steep decline and it is getting worse not better. Affirmation of self is not needed when culture is already light-years ahead in this category.

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  70. Anon, I did not say that that future was necessarily going to be TEC. Right now in the US the fastest growing catagory is None of the above. Kids are fleeing Christianity as quickly as they can run because it does not reflect the values of human respect with which they identify. It will be new, revitalized Church that has left the hate behind that will win the hearts of folks in these next generations, just as +Spong has said, Christianity must change or die.

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  71. People are leaving Christianity in this country because it has turned into the Republican party at prayer.

    I wonder how many people left because their beliefs about God really changed, or because they got tired of being told how to vote from the pulpit.

    Just as the right claims a copyright on patriotism, so they also trademarked piety.

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  72. David - now you surprise me.... so you are pessimistic about TEC's decline amongst Americans, especially young Americans..... yet Rick Warren et al seem to attract many young Americans - what is going on with that?

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  73. I think that like most mega-churches Saddleback Church will have its heyday and be in decline as have all the others. They survive on the vision of visionary founder and when they have lost the limelight or have gone the way of the ancestors the church is never what it was. I also think that you may be ovrerblowing how many younger folks are actually attracted to his message. You are talking about a few hundred or thousand followers to the millions in the US who do not.

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  74. Anon, the last studies I've seen show that even mega-churches are losing steam. Certainly, the Southern Baptist Convention (and, I think, the Assemblies of God) has plateaued, and is starting to feel the same effects of low birth rate and falling retention of members that have been affecting the Episcopal Church for a while. (I believe this has been reported at the Episcopal Cafe).

    Marshall Scott

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