Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Aspinal’s Synod Charge

At last weekend’s Diocesan Synod for the Brisbane Anglican Diocese, local Archbishop Phillip Aspinal, in his reference to the ongoing controversy about the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships in the different Provinces of the Anglican Communion, mentioned the interference of certain Australian Evangelical bishops in the polity of the ACANZP (Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia), who were present at the ordination of a rival, quasi-Anglican, bishop of the ‘Confessing Anglican Church‘ (under the jurisdiction of GAFCON) here in New Zealand. Here is Archbishop Phillip’s explanation of what happened at that time:

“In 2019 when the Anglican Church in New Zealand decided to allow each diocese in New Zealand to choose to have a liturgy to bless same sex relationships – note they didn’t change their law about marriage – about 12 parishes in New Zealand decided they couldn’t live with the national church’s decision and broke away to form the Church of Confessing Anglicans. Six Australian bishops eagerly participated in the consecration of a bishop for that breakaway Church. On what authority no-one is very clear”.

These bishops of the Australian Anglican Church (each one connected to the conservative evangelical patrimony of the Sydney Diocese) are part and parcel of a group of Anglicans who have aligned themselves with the reactionary GAFCON Movement, whose prelates – mainly of the Global South – are unhappy about the bishops of the A.C.C. provincial Churches who have re-assessed the traditional stance of opposition to the inclusion of LGBT+ people as part of the Church.

The basis of their objection to the inclusion of homosexuals – and other bearers of a different gender/sexuality identity from the binary (male or female) in the Christian Church is based, largely, on their detailed, sola-scriptura allegiance to the text of certain parts of the Bible, both O.T. and N.T., which speak to a world very different from that of today; forgetting that Jesus, himself, warned against idolatry to The Law, instead, he counselled an openness to the ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “Who will lead you into ALL Truth” – A pastoral necessity of engagement with, and to, a changing world!

There are still people in the Church – mostly conservative advocates of the ‘Sola Scriptura’ school of theology – who still cling to an outdated understanding of the Creation which, in the Scriptures, describes a cosmology that has been proved to be inconsistent with modern scientific discovery. There are also aspects of our human origins and development that were not fully understood at the time of the writers of the Scriptures, which were written in a particular context to the people of their own time and culture in the environment of the social and historical factors that were available to them at the time of writing. To continue to believe that the world is only 6,000 years old, for instance, is no longer intellectually feasible to a modern generation that has probed the mysteries of the universe, discovering the reality of its vastness and its longevity.

Similarly, the ethics of the Scriptures relates very closely to the environment in which the writers were familiar inhabitants, with no knowledge of the boundaries that have been crossed in the understanding of the vastness and variety of the created order. Spiritually, Christians have discovered that not all human beings are the same, and that there are other people with their own understandings of God that parallel our own, but who may not yet be open to the realisation that the Messiah has already been incarnated into our human world; which largely rejected him. but which has become heir to the salvation he achieved through his sacrificial life, his death and resurrection from the dead.

Modern Christians are discovering that the long-embraced understanding of the formerly accepted etiological basis of our common gender/sexuality identity – as exclusively either biologically male or female – is simply no longer tenable. There are observable variations that defy the standardisation of gender/sexuality binary identification as strictly either male or female; with homosexual, bisexual, trans-sexual and a-sexual variants in the mix. The claimants of these differences are often described by conservative nay-sayers as ‘perverted, disgusting, un-natural, or simply rebellious’ – even by some extremists as ‘pan-sexual’!

However, what has now been acknowledged in the scientific world – and by a growing number of religious people – is that God, in Creation, has produced a variety of people – each bearing the ‘Divine Image and Likeness’ who look for, and deserve, the respect and nurture of both the Church and society. Society has already acknowledged these differences. It is now time for the Church to re-assess its tragic tendency towards institutional homophobia and patriarchal sexism; qualities that can no longer be thought as ‘Christian’, or even morally acceptable in modern society.

(In explanation of the connection of the Sydney Diocese to the GAFCON Provinces, the former Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen, was a Founding Member of that breakaway group)

Archbishop Aspinal’s thought-provoking Synod Charge can be accessed on the Brisbane Diocesan website.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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3 Responses to Brisbane Anglican Archbishop Aspinal’s Synod Charge

  1. John Sandeman says:

    Dear Kiwianglo. Phillip Aspinall is the Archbishop of Brisbane.the other Philip, Philip Freier is Archbishop of Melbourne

  2. Kieran Crichton says:

    Philip Freier is Archbishop of Melbourne, tho he is a Queenslander by origin.

    The Archbishop of Brisbane is Philip Aspinal.

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