Inclusive Church 2017 Lecture

Including the Exclusive: How liberal Can you be?

David Ison – Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, LONDON.

You can watch the lecture here on our YouTube channel

The text of the lecture is here as a PDF


For those of you disposed to read about the current situation in the Church of England – re the work of ‘Inclusive Church’ in the U.K. to further the acceptance of LGBTI people as fellow members of the Christian Church family –  here are the PDF and video transcripts of this year’s 2017 Annual Lecture given to the members of Inclusive Church by the Dean of St.Paul’s, London.

The video sound quality is less than satisfactory, but the PDF text of Fr.David Ison’s Lecture is well worth the reading.

My wife, Diana, and I are now safely back in New Zealand after an exhaustive (and somewhat exhausting) trip back to the U.K. to catch up with relatives and friends, during which we enjoyed cruising with P. & O. to the Greek Islands and the Canary Islands, with a side trip to Amsterdam where, coincidentally, we happened in upon their colourful ‘Gay Pride Week’ celebrations, with decorated boats on the canals and a generally warm and accepting atmosphere of welcome to the local and overseas LGBTI people there.

Now back to life in Aotearoa/New Zealand and looking forward to our great Cathedral Debate in Synod very soon, and also to the continuing debate in our Church of Same-Sex Blessings and their effect on the Inclusive Mission of ACANZP.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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S.C.Diocese seeks re-hearing of Supreme Court Decision decision<

In the wake of the latest decision by South Carolina's Supreme Court, which granted TEC's right of ownership of certain properties alienated by a previous ruling in favour of the schismatic 'Diocese of South Carolina, which separated itself from membership of TEC, (the Episcopal Church in the USA); its bishop, Mark Lawrence, has announced his plans to appeal against this latest judgement that restores the right of TEC to retain contested property.

There can be little doubt that, if the latest judgement is upheld against further appeals, ACNA's hold on properties alienated from TEC's ownership will significantly reduce ACNA's assets in South Carolina – a situation that will give cause to encouragement of TEC's hope for the restitution of other properties claimed by schismatics in the U.S.A.

This latest development will surely give food for thought to any other provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion where dissidents might seek legal alienation of properties from the guardianship of their local Anglican Churches.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand (currently in the U.K.)

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Honouring the Oxford Movement’s John Keble

One of the most influential Church leaders of Victorian England: Why John Keble matters today

John Keble Church in Mill Hill was build in honour of Keble.

Today, churches across England (and some around the world) will remember the influence of John Keble (1792-1866). As part of the Oxford Movement, he changed the face of the Church of England and Anglicanism around the world. He did this without ever becoming a bishop or taking other senior roles in the Church.

Keble became a priest in the Church of England, following in his father’s footsteps, after a glittering university career. He intended to spend his life as an academic and country parson, but his talents were too great to be buried. His book The Christian Year, which contained poems and hymns for use throughout the different seasons of the Church calendar, was the best-selling poetry book of the century; he was also appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford and wrote a profound exploration of the nature of poetry.

However, it’s as a High Church prophet and statesman he will be remembered.

In the early 1830s, a group of Anglican clergymen were beginning to feel that the Church of England had jettisoned too many of its Catholic roots. Though a number of clergy felt this way, Keble fired the starting gun with a sermon he preached on July 14, 1833.

The sermon etitled National Apostasy was a fiery affair, as its name suggests. It was sparked by the Government’s decision to suppress Anglican 10 bishoprics in Ireland. This was an entirely reasonable step, given that most Irish were Catholics and the money they cost could be better used elsewhere, but Keble was fiercely opposed to the state overruling the Church. The Church was not just an arm of government, he argued; it was descended from the Apostles, ‘a part of Christ’s Church, and bound, in all her legislation and policy, by the fundamental laws of the Church’. It was an incendiary call for the Church to be the Church again after generations of decline, compromise and complacency.

The Oxford Movement was born. Along with other leading lights such as Edward Pusey and John Henry Newman, the Movement began publishing tracts – some only a few pages long, others weighty tomes. The ‘Tractarians’ as they were also known, saw Anglicanism not as a separated Protestant church but as one of the major branches of the Universal Church, along with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. This made traditional doctrines such as apostolic succession (the idea that priests can trace back their lineage through ordination to the disciples) very important.

The introduction of pre-Reformation rituals to the English Church was a key accomplishment of Keble and the Oxford Movement, alongside its related movement in Cambridge. As the more ritualistic elements of worship began to be integrated into the Church of England, the phrase Anglo-Catholic began to be used.

Anglo-Catholics planted churches, especially in poorer areas of London and other big cities. They developed strong political stances as a result and were among the founders of Christian Socialism in England (a development that would have horrified Keble, a life-long Tory).

The Oxford Movement ended in 1845, with the conversion of Newman to Roman Catholicism. However, Anglo-Catholicism remains a force in the Anglican Communion and Anglo-Catholic churches around the world today owe a debt to Keble as one of their spiritual forefathers. He is remembered by the Oxford College named after him. The eponymous John Keble church in Mill Hill, north London was built in 1936, almost a hundred years after the height of the Oxford Movement.

Keble’s legacy could be thought now just to consist in the few hymns of his that are still used such as Sun of my soul, and Saviour dear. Instead, its better to understand Keble as an influential figure who may well be yet to have his greatest influence.

In his lifetime, Catholic emancipation happened, but there was still deep antipathy towards Roman Catholics from many in the English establishment and among ordinary people.

In the 21st century, we have seen the remarkable sight of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury describing each other as friends. Though the Churches have moved apart doctrinally in some ways – not least the ordination of women by the Church of England – unity is on the horizon in a way not conceived of in Keble’s day.

It would be overstating things to say he was responsible, but Keble certainly helped to lay the ground work for the many decades of détente that were needed before we could come to the early 21st century and news that only this year, the first ever Anglican evensong was sung in the Vatican. Perhaps his work is not yet done.


“As part of the Oxford Movement, he “(John Keble) changed the face of the Church of England and Anglicanism around the world. He did this without ever becoming a bishop or taking other senior roles in the Church.”

At a time when certain conservative Evangelicals are questioning the relevance of Anglo-Catholicism around the world of the Anglican Communion, here we have an excellent tribute to the life and work of John Keble, one of the figures involved in the early Oxford Movement, which brought into being the revival of catholic spirituality and practice within the Church of England.

One of the important aspects of the Catholic Revival within the Church of England was its emphasis on the essential mission to the poor, and disadvantaged – especially in the East End of London and other inner city parishes where special missions were established:

“Anglo-Catholics planted churches, especially in poorer areas of London and other big cities. They developed strong political stances as a result and were among the founders of Christian Socialism in England (a development that would have horrified Keble, a life-long Tory). “

Perhaps the most recent Anglo-Catholic bishop to be ordained in the Church of England,  +Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, is seen, currently, to be promoting the cause of the poor in his recent discourse to an Evangelical New Wine festival in the U.K., which calls into question the reluctance of Church of England clergy to become involved in the life of the poorer industrial parishes – especially in the North of England – in favour of the more well-to-do, middle class parishes in the South. Here is a press report on this event:

Of course, there are questions about the authenticity of Bishop North’s personal interest in the disadvantaged in parish ministry – especially as he was once the Director of the Anglo-Catholic Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, and, as a newly-ordained bishop, is still opposed, theologically, to the ordination of women in the Church of England. However, the message Bishop Philip has here delivered to Anglican Evangelicals is very important. The neglect of the poor and disadvantaged, in favour of other political agenda activities, can be deleterious of the inclusive mission of the Church. He, as a bishop, needs to emphasize our basic duty, as Christians, to the poor and the marginalized of our world.

We who rejoice in the Catholic and Apostolic heritage of the historic Church of England and in Churches of the Anglican Communion (and, for me personally in ACANZP), are concerned that the relevance of our mission and worship style is not devalued by the trends towards popularisation and ‘dumbing-down’ of theological enterprise and ritual observance that we have inherited from our Tractarian forefathers and mothers, whose zeal for mission was a direct call by the Holy Spirit to revitalise the Church of its day. The whole basis of our spirituality is that of sacramental worship of Christ in the Eucharist and other acts of congregational activity that combines worship with mission to the real world, outside of the Church, for which Christ died. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand (presently in Amsterdam)

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Kenya’s wrongfully dismissed clergy to be re-instated

Anglican priests sacked for being gay must be reinstated, Kenya court rules

Three Anglican clergy sacked for allegedly being gay must be reinstated, a court in Kenya has ruled, after the Church failed to produce any evidence they were homosexuals.

The country’s Court of Appeal upheld an earlier ruling forcing the Anglican Church of Kenya to pay 6.8million Kenyan shillings (£50,000) in damages and reinstall the three men.

Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit (L), the new Archbishop of Kenya, with his predecessor, Eliud WabukalaBellah Zulu/ACNS

Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, Rev James Maina Maigua and Rev Paul Mwangi Warui will be paid their salaries in full from when they were dismissed in July 2015 and given new jobs.

Archdeacon Gachau was awarded Sh2,437,780 (£18,000) Rev Maigua Sh2,224,996 (£16,700) and Rev Warui Sh2,219,814 (£16,300).

Justice Philip Waki, Justice Roselyne Nambuye and Justice Patrick Kiage threw out an application by the Registered Trustees of the Anglican Church of Kenya which argued the payments were excessive and without legal basis.

Representing the Anglican Church lawyer Syphurine Nyongesa Mayende argued the court was failing to consider the circumstances when the priests were dismissed.

He said all three held sensitive posts within the church and accusations of homosexuality were read out to their congregations.

‘Church ministers ought to have faith, credit and trust and these have been lost,’ he argued.

But the court rejected their appeal, saying there was no evidence of alleged homosexuality and the Church had many dioceses across the country where they could be reinstated.


If ever this news were needed it is right now. At a time when the GAFCON Leader, Archbishop Ngatali of Uganda, has pledged his refusal to attend the next A.C. Primates’ Meeting on account of the non-Gafcon Provinces repudiation of sanctions againt LGBTI people in the Church; here is news of the Kenya Government’s rejection of the local Kenyan Anglican Church’s suspension of 3 of its clergy on account of their suspected homosexuality. It should be noted that there was no proof of their suspected  sexuality at the time the hierarchy of the Ugandan Anglican Church enforced their abrupt dismissal.

Witch hunts are a dangerous precedent – especially in the Christian Church.

The culture of homophobia in the Churches of the GAFCON sodality – mostly in Africa – is now being challenged – even by their local governmental authorities, whose own attitude towards homosexuals has traditionally been repressive. Witch-hunts against suspected homosexuals by the Anglican Church in Africa are a serious injustice -of which the Anglican Communion Churches world-wide now have to take serious note: whether, or not, the membership of the Communion can continue to host the cult of homophobia and sexism – on the basis of a conservative understanding of sexuality and gender in its traditions.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand (at present in Amsterdam)

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Academic speculation on the word ‘Orthodoxy’

Friday, August 04, 2017

On “orthodox Christianity”: some observations, and a couple of questions

What do people mean when they wring their hands about the fate of “orthodox Christianity” (small-o) today, or when they vent about the treatment of “orthodox Christians” in an increasingly secularized society?

A few observations and a couple of questions:

Historically, the measure of “orthodox” Christianity has been conciliar; that is, orthodoxy was rooted in, and measured by, the ecumenical councils and creeds of the church (Nicea, Chalcedon) which were understood to have distilled the grammar of “right belief” (ortho, doxa) in the Scriptures.  As such, orthodoxy centers around the nature of God (Triune), the Incarnation, the means of our salvation, the church, and the life to come.  The markers of orthodoxy are tied to the affirmations of, say, the Nicene Creed: the creatorhood of God; the divine/human nature of the Incarnate Son; the virgin birth; the historicity of Jesus’ life and death; the affirmation of his bodily resurrection and ascension; the hope of the second coming; the triune affirmation of Father, Son, and Spirit; the affirmation of “one holy catholic and apostolic church”; one baptism; and the hope of our own bodily resurrection.

Interestingly, and perhaps a little ironically, even low church, anti-creedal Protestants end up measuring orthodoxy by these same measures.  Even more interestingly, early 20th century “fundamentalism” and the conservative renewal in historic streams like Presbyterianism, also revolved around these orthodox markers. The famous Fundamentals of 1910-1915 focused on these historic markers (with added Protestant polemics about Scripture and Roman Catholicism). And Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism was pegged to these same markers: Doctrine, God and Man, the Bible, Christ, Salvation, and the Church. (You won’t find the words “sex” or “marriage” in Christianity and Liberalism.)

Contrast this with most invocations of “orthodox Christianity” today. In some contexts, the use of the word “orthodox” seems to have nothing to do with these historic markers of Christian faith.  Indeed, in many cases “orthodox Christianity” means only one thing: a particular view of sexuality and marriage. Indeed, in some books of late, the adjective “orthodox” is only invoked when talking about morality, and sexual morality in particular.  In fact, in some of those books the historic markers of orthodox Christianity as summarized in the creeds make no appearance and almost seem irrelevant to the analysis.  So when people are said to suffer for their “orthodox” beliefs, or when we are told that “orthodox” Christians will be hounded from public life and persecuted in their professions, a closer reading shows that it is not their beliefs in the Trinity, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, or Resurrection that occasion these problems, but rather their beliefs about morality, and sexual morality in particular.  There don’t seem to be any bakers refusing to bake cakes for atheists, and I’ve yet to hear of Silicon Valley CEOs being fired because they affirm the Incarnation of the Son or the resurrection of the dead.

I note this only to observe that this deployment of the term “orthodox” is recent, innovative, and narrow.  Ironically, it reflects a trait of modernity that those who use it would abhor: a tendency to reduce Christianity to a morality (see: Kant).  One could forgive Martian anthropologists who, parachuting into contemporary debates, concluded that “orthodox Christianity” just is a sexual ethic.

Now, no one for a second can deny that such views of sexual morality and marriage have been the historic teaching of the church. The weight of Scripture, tradition, and perhaps even “natural law” have sustained these views and beliefs for millennia. And one could argue that the silence on such matters in, say, Machen or The Fundamentals only reflects what was taken for granted, not what was unimportant.  Certainly.  And just because they are not matters of creedal definition doesn’t mean they are matters of indifference. The creeds don’t say anything about Christian nonviolence, for example, but that hardly means Christians are therefore free to adopt any posture or position they want if they follow the Prince of Peace.

But it is surely also worth pointing out that conciliar standards of orthodoxy do not articulate such standards. If the adjective “orthodox” is untethered from such ecumenical standards, it quickly becomes a cheap epithet we idiosyncratically attach to views and positions in order to write off those we disagree with as “heretics” and unbelievers.  If “orthodox” becomes an adjective that is unhooked from these conciliar canons, then it becomes a word we use to make sacrosanct the things that matter to “us” in order to exclude “them.”  And then you can start folding all kinds of things into “orthodoxy” like mode of baptism or pre-tribulation rapture or opposition to the ordination of women–which then entails writing off swaths of Christians who affirm conciliar orthodoxy.

So perhaps we should be more careful with how we use the adjective orthodox.  It can’t be a word we flippantly use to describe what is important to us.  The word is reserved to define and delineate those affirmations that are at the very heart of Christian faith–and God knows they are scandalous enough in a secular age.

Perhaps we need to introduce another adjective–“traditional”–to describe these historic views and positions on matters of morality.  Why?  Because otherwise these other markers will end up trumping the conciliar marks of the Gospel.  That is, the things we append as “orthodox” start to overwhelm and supersede what the church has defined as orthodox.

Here’s where my questions arise:

1. Do you really want to claim that Christians who affirm all of the historic markers of orthodoxy but disagree with you on matters of sexual morality or nonviolence or women in office are heretics?  So that someone can affirm the core, scandalous, supernatural tenets of the Gospel, and affirm the radicality of grace, and yet fall outside the parameters of your small-o “orthodox Christianity?”

2. Those who stretch the markers of orthodoxy seem oddly selective. (Were condemnations of usury “orthodox?” They were certainly historic and traditional.)  Let’s look at a concrete example: the historic creeds affirm “one baptism.”  Consider, then, this scenario: You are a conservative Anglican who has raised your children in the faith since they were baptized as babies. Your daughter falls in love with a nice Southern Baptist boy. They are engaged to be married, and want to make their home at the local Baptist church and be married there. For your daughter to become a member, she will have to re-baptized. Aren’t these Baptists–who share your sexual morality–rejecting the (creedal) orthodox marker of “one baptism?”  Who’s “orthodox” now?

Making this distinction doesn’t settle anything. But it does change how we have the conversations. And it’s worth remembering that people are watching and listening in. While we debate matters of importance, let’s hope that those who overhear us still hear the scandalous, marvelous, miraculous affirmations of creedal orthodoxy ringing loud and clear: that “He descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead.” And he forgives us.
The post is by James K.A. Smith and Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College and Editor of Comment magazine. Here are some of his observations on “orthodox Christianity” – (Hat Tip to Épiscopal Cafe’)
Highly recommended for those of us who believe that órthodoxy in Faith is all about sexual mores and gender identity. 
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand (currently in Amsterdam)
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Pride 17 Bishop Of Liverpool

Vikki-Marie Gaynor 

Published on Aug 2, 2017

The amazing opening from a very passionate member of the Church,
With this inspiring speech that allowed over 8000 Walkers to tour this amazing city,
and to give hope to all those in Chechnya, #Chechnyatuesdays


While blogging in my Amsterdam Hotel today – the day of Amstersdam’s famous Gay-Pride Festival” – I caught this interesting snippet on the Internet, recording last week’s Gay Pride Festival in Liverpool, U.K.. From being a critic of homosexuality, Liverpool’s Anglican Bishop, has become one of its foremost advocates for reform of traditional views of LGBTI treatment in the Church of England.

There were canal floats from many parts of the world taking part. The city was crowded. Walking around Amsterdam this morning,Diana and I became aware of the excitement that accompanies this Festival of affirmation for the local LGBT community by their familes and friends. The atmosphere was one of joy and compassion..

Tap on to the internet connection above to view the video.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Is the Bible Fake News?

Source: Is the Bible Fake News?

This article from Bishop Jake Owensby deserves critical scrutiny – especially by Biblical literalists. This bishop of the Church believes in the love and mercy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – the working thesis of the Gospel!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand



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