Nashville Statement – A New Christianity?

Are evangelicals inventing a new kind of Christianity that’s all about sex?

Scholars say new ‘Nashville Statement’ on sexuality has no basis in ancient Christianity.

Evangelical Christians are up to something new.

At least that’s the position of many criticizing the “Nashville Statement,” a controversial document championing “biblical” sexual ethics that was penned this past week and signed by roughly 150 prominent evangelical leaders. The document, divided into 14 articles and released by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), mostly parrots denunciations of LGBTQ identities and relationships common among right-wing evangelicals. But it drew added attention for doing something unusual: extending their condemnation to Christians who affirm queer people.

The statement triggered outrage almost immediately, especially among LGBTQ and LGBTQ-affirming Christians who saw it as a direct attack on their understanding of the faith. Within hours, several progressive Christian groups issued their own counter-statements refuting the evangelical document point-by-point, with some deriding it as “anti-LGBTQ bigotry.” Faithful America, an online advocacy organization for progressive Christians, already has thousands of signatures for a petition rejecting the statement.

Others argued that the timing of the statement, published in the aftermath of tragic racist violence in Charlottesville (when many evangelicals stood by Trumpdespite his defense of those who marched with white nationalists) and as Texas struggled to recover from Hurricane Harvey, seemed insensitive.

“From the very beginning of the Christian faith, sexual morality has always been central … These are not new teachings. They are the ancient faith.”

Nashville signatories—which included some leaders who advise President Donald Trump—defended themselves by insisting they were simply appealing to “ancient” Christian teachings, albeit in ways that were atypically firm. CBMW president Denny Burk even went out of his way to insist that Article 10 was meant to be polemical.

“From the very beginning of the Christian faith, sexual morality has always been central,” Burk wrote. “Those who wish to follow Jesus must pursue sexually pure lives. A person may follow Jesus, or he may pursue sexual immorality. But he cannot do both. He must choose. One path leads to eternal life, and the other does not. These are not new teachings. They are the ancient faith.”

He went on to describe Article 10 as “a line in the sand,” noting, “anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise.

Rather, the core of the Nashville Statement appears to be a very modern attempt to re-imagine Christianity in ways that are culturally (and possibly politically) expedient for present-day right-wing evangelicals and other conservative Christians.

Re-centering Christianity around conservative sexual ethics

The Nashville Statement is hardly the first time conservative American Christians have argued against LGBTQ identities and relationships. If anything, the document is the culmination of a years-long push to make anti-LGBTQ theology obligatory for evangelical leadership or even membership.

The examples of this theological re-centering process—wherein a specific definition of sexual ethics is touted as paramount for Christianity—are overwhelming. The Religious Right has spent decades claiming opposition to same-sex marriage as central to their public Christian identity. More recently, Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option argued Christians should retreat from society primarily in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage, and refers to mainline Christians (who are far more likely to affirm LGBTQ people) as “moralistic therapeutic deists.” Major evangelical Christian organizations and theologians have been ostracized or financially threatened simply for entertaining support for marriage equality, evangelical campus groups purge those who theologically support LGBTQ rights, and many evangelicals argue that just serving LGBTQ people can be a violation of their religious principles.

Yet even as right-wing Christians (a group that includes evangelicals as well as conservative Catholics and other groups) have trumpeted these beliefs, their moderate and progressive cohorts have broken in a very different direction. Entire denominations such as the United Church of Christ vocally affirm marriage equality, and historic groups such as the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and others ordain LGBTQ people and allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

See also:   http://religiondispatches.org/a-14-point-rebuttal-to-the-nashville-statement-from-a-straight-cis-christian-man/

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Controversy over the recenly issued ‘Nashville Statement’ on the subject of Human Sexuality is obviously not going to die down quietly.

The criticism offered in this article is but a part of the many challenges to the 15o North American Evangelical Christians who got together to produce the ‘Nashville Statement’, as a definitive Evangelical rejection of the current movement in the Church to recognise the right of Same-Sex couples to be accepted as part of the human membership of the Body of Christ.

The theological thrust of this article offers an opportunity for all Christians to reconsider the implications for the Church of the need to incorporate a loving attitude towards those people whose gender and sexuality are ‘different’ from the majority but also needing recognition as fellow human beings, loved by God and deserving of our Christian compassion and acceptance.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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(re Nashville Statement) – ‘This Love Ain’t Big Enough’

This Love Ain’t Big Enough!

by the Revd Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury

presentation1

Someone I know is getting married this month. He is an active sincere Christian and his faith has been nurtured in his local middle-of-the-road parish church; he is from a loving Christian family, and they have been involved in many and varied church activities over the years.

His fiancée is from a large, conservative Evangelical church. He worshipped there often as a teenager and was blessed and nurtured by its teaching and fellowship. He has grown in faith through it. This is the church where they will be married, although he has continued to worship in his family’s church.

One of the reasons for this was because of an incident a few years ago. A member of the church’s youth group he, along with a number of others, was asked to give public statements to the rest of the youth group that he accepted the teaching of this particular church on same-sex relationships. In short, they were required to stand up and repudiate same-sex sexual activity. He naturally felt torn between belonging to a supportive fellowship of young Christians and making a statement he felt was lacking in Christian love. In the end, after talking it through with his parents, he decided to decline to make such a commitment. From that day he said, things were never the same again. Something changed. He was now clearly a second-class member of the group, he said. He was told he could not take any leadership role in the group or in the wider church. And yet he stuck to his principles and refused to compromise (ironically, a lesson about his Christian faith he had been well taught in this very church!). He is a fine young man.

Last week saw the publication in the United States of the “Nashville Statement”[1]. It emerges and is aimed at a different culture than the UK, although it has been signed by two, prominent, same-sex attracted English Anglicans. When I read its long list of fourteen binaries (“we affirm…we deny”), I am reminded of the position in which this English church put this young person and his fellow youth group members. Setting aside the spiritual abuse of requiring young people to make a choice between making a public statement of this nature and their membership of the youth group, what strikes me is the insistence of both groups of drawing boundaries around membership by requiring public statements.

Nashville adds nothing to the debate on sexuality any more than getting a few teenagers to make public statements does; all both do is simply to draw the boundary lines more clearly. What those inside the ‘circle of soundness’ want is to be certain that they are standing in the will of God. Public statements like these reinforce their sense of uprightness. They are a subtle form of works-righteousness, a badge of orthodoxy that will allow those inside the circle to sort the wheat from the chaff, the faithful from the unfaithful, the saved from the lost, despite the clear teaching of Scripture that leaves such things to God.

I’m reading Richard Rohr’s demanding The Divine Dance at the moment and it has caused me to ponder the fundamental nature of God as relationship rather than being. When I look at my own life and behaviour, I’m not always very proud of my choices or my conduct. Sometimes I’m not even proud of my consistency in keeping to my principles. But what Rohr has reminded me of is that, as I stand in relationship with the Trinity, I am free to be foolishly wrong yet am still loved. As such, I can continue to reach out to those who hold to a different view of sexuality knowing that, even if they are right and I am wrong, I need not be afraid of God.

Sadly, I am forced to conclude that those who signed the Nashville Statement cannot say the same, of me or of God. Invested as they are in confidence that they are right, and deeply afraid of the consequence of being wrong, they circle the wagons closer and closer, even excluding many who hold a conservative position on sexuality[2], forever asking fewer and fewer people to make more and more stringent promises. It is self-justifying and fear-driven and, as such, is a false gospel. Believe you are right, by all means. We all believe that. But believe it with humility and be confident that the truth of your claim requires no coercion, nor lines in the sand.

Nashville is not just a place, it’s also the name of a Country and Western Band. One of their greatest hits? This Love ain’t big enough. Enough said.

[1]https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/
[2]https://psychologyandchristianity.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/on-the-nashville-statement/

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This article, by Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury in the Church of England, draws attention to the problem of fundamentalist Evangelical parishes in the Church of England that require members of their congregations to publicly deny any association with the understanding of Same-Sex relationships as a part of normal human diversity within the guidelines of behaviour for Church membership.

I have highlighted the relevant paragraph of Canon Simon’s article, and commend a study of its implications for acceptance – or non-acceptance – as a credible way of discipling the young in a world very different from that of the Church’s homophobic past.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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“You are called” – a sermon on vocation for back-to-school Sunday

Source: “You are called” – a sermon on vocation for back-to-school Sunday

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C.of E. Coordinating Group – unequal coordination?

The Revd Dr Charles Clapham has written this guest blog for Unadulterated Love. Charles is currently Vicar of St Peter’s Church Hammersmith, in West London. He was born in Scotland, and brought up there and in Southern Africa. He spent twelve years in Manchester, Sheffield, Durham and New York, studying architecture, history, economics, and theology, and wrote a PhD on the relationship between theology and economics. He has taught at university level in the areas of ethics, theology, and mission.

Charles has written a commentary about the Co-ordinating Group set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to produce a new teaching document on human sexuality. The composition of the group, and its stated aim, makes him sceptical.

THE USUAL APPROACH TO PRODUCING REPORTS

Over the last fifty years or more, the Church of England has followed a well-established procedure for producing reports on social and ethical issues. If you want a report on immigration, for example, you form a committee of (say) a dozen or so members, with administrative support and a couple of consultants. The committee might include a bishop and an archdeacon, as well a couple of clergy, preferably with particular experience of issues relating to immigration, or at least some background in social responsibility. Added to them would be a number of Christian lay people with relevant knowledge or expertise, such as (for argument’s sake) the director of a Catholic agency that helps resettle immigrants in the UK, a university academic who lectures in migration studies, an advisor from a migration think-tank, someone from Christian Aid, a theologian with a particular interest in social or political ethics, etc. This committee then solicits further submissions or reports from other relevant bodies, or make site visits as appropriate.

The final report, which arises out of the conversation in which lay people, theologians, bishops and clergy alike are involved, is (if done well) a knowledgeable and thoughtful report which can be commended to the church for wider study, used to inform discussions at a local level, and shape interventions and responses made by bishops and other church authorities at a national level. But – crucially – such reports are not presented as definitive statements of ‘Church of England teaching’, are not understood to be binding of the consciences of clergy, lay people, or indeed bishops, nor used as documents to which ordinands are required to sign up as condition of being accepted for training or ordination.

This is how the Church of England has consistently thought through complex social and ethical issues over the last fifty years, even ones as serious as war, nuclear weapons, or climate change. But when it comes to issues of sex, sexuality and gender, of who is having sex with whom, or who is allowed to wear a dress, all this changes.

EPISCOPAL DOMINATION OF THE NEW GROUP

The episcopal domination of this co-ordinating group on human sexuality is staggering and unprecedented. The working party which produced the (suppressed) 1967 report on homosexuality, for example, included only one bishop. Faith in the City, one of most influential of church reports,  was produced by a committee of eighteen, which included only two bishops, neither of whom served as chair. Mission-Shaped Church, another hugely influential report, was produced by a committee of eleven, with only one bishop. But the co-ordinating group for this new document consists of seven bishops (including the chair), and four clergy. This extent to which the group is weighted towards bishops stands in contrast with virtually every other report produced in the Church of England in recent history.

THE ABSENCE OF LAY REPRESENTATION OR EXPERTISE

The lack of lay people is also striking and without precedent. One of the great strengths of the Church of England is the involvement of knowledgeable lay professionals and specialists to help inform our ethical thinking, not simply as advisors, but as full members of working parties responsible for writing the final report. To give another couple of examples, chosen more or less at random from my bookshelf: the 2001 report Development Matters produced for General Synod, which includes contributions from numerous lay people with very substantial professional experience and specialist knowledge on international development issues; or a 2000 report on euthanasia (On Dying Well), for example, produced by working party which included doctors, lawyers, and specialists in medical ethics.

But on this new group, which seeks to produce a report on human sexuality, there is not a single gender theorist, sociologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, politician, campaigner, voluntary sector worker, or any other lay person bringing relevant specialist knowledge or expertise whatsoever. This absence is astonishing. This is like the church commissioning a report on economics without having an economist on the committee, or writing a report on climate change without the involvement of a scientist. No doubt the committee will ‘consult’ lay experts and listen to lay voices, but it is clear that they don’t trust them enough to help write the report. It’s both bad methodology (in terms of how to do Christian ethics) and bad ecclesiology (in terms of its understanding of lay vocation and respect for lay expertise).

THE INCLUSION OF AN ‘ANGLICAN COMMUNION’ REPRESENTATIVE

Also unprecedented is the inclusion of an ‘Anglican Communion’ representative nominated by the Anglican Consultative Council on the co-ordinating group. The Church of England quite regularly produces reports, position papers, or makes official comments on any number of issues of international significance (refugees, asylum seekers, international debt, the environment, terrorism), but has typically done so without official representation from the Anglican communion when it formulates its position, even where these issues are clearly global in scope. This is true also on substantial matters of church order, such as the ordination of women. The working party which produced the 2004 report on women bishops, for example, included official ecumenical representatives from the Methodist church and the Roman Catholic church, but not from the Anglican Communion.

By contrast, on this new committee dealing with sexuality, there is no official representation from Methodist church, for example (despite the signing of the Anglican-Methodist covenant), nor representation from the Swedish Lutheran church, for example (despite the signing of the Porvoo agreement), whilst there is representation from the Anglican Communion (despite the rejection of the Anglican Covenant). The views of the Anglican Communion are given an official place at the table for deciding Church of England affairs only on the issue of sexuality and on nothing else.

THE CONCEPT OF A ‘TEACHING DOCUMENT’

The language of a ‘teaching document’ is also highly problematic. The Church of England has not understood itself historically to possess a teaching magisterium. This is in contrast to theRoman Church, where the documents of the Second Vatican Council, papal encyclicals, and other documents like the Catechism can be understood as the official teaching of the church, with varying (albeit disputed) degrees of authority, including infallibility. But the concept of a teaching magisterium in this sense is alien to the Church of England, and inconsistent with its character.

It is therefore usually a mistake to declare on any given moral or social issue: ‘The Church of England teaches…’ There is no Church of England ‘teaching document’ on the economy, Brexit, nuclear weapons, international development, Israel/Palestine, terrorism, global warming, or any number of issues arguably far more important than sexuality. There are of course numerous reports from various Anglican bodies, bishops, theologians, and lay people which help to inform debate and shape opinion. But this does not mean that there is an ‘official’ Church of England line on these matters, to which the rest of us must subscribe.

And whilst it is true that the vocation of bishops in the Church of England has been understood to involve teaching the faith, it does not mean they have an exclusive role in defining it. The Church of England has traditionally operated with the diffused exercise of authority across the church as a whole, rather than one centralised exclusively in the episcopate. This teaching role of bishops is, in any case, increasingly being ignored in (for example) the Green Report, where there is a greater emphasis on managerial competence and missional experience, so that theologically well-qualified clergy holding university chairs who might in previous generations have been appointed as bishops are no longer considered. The result is a House of Bishops singularly lacking in theological depth (not even a Stephen Sykes or a Tom Wright, let alone a Rowan Williams, Richard Harries, David Jenkins, Ian Ramsey, Michael Ramsey, William Temple, etc.). This same House of Bishops, nevertheless, appears to believe that it is an exclusively episcopal task to determine the parameters of acceptable Christian doctrine and ethics. True in Roman Catholicism, perhaps; but not in the Church of England.

WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?

Let’s be clear. For this document, the usual Anglican assumptions and ways of working have been set aside. This is a process controlled by bishops (who are a majority on the committee), and will result in a report shaped largely by bishops: the same bishops (just to spell it out) who were in favour of the report that was rightly rejected by Synod in February this year. It is, in other words, a further example of the deliberate move toward centralization and episcopal control in the Church of England, in ignorance of Anglican history and theology.

In practice, a document which does not respond to the expectations of the majority of LGBTQI members of the Church of England, their families, friends and congregations, and to the perception of LGBTQI dignity and equality held by the majority of English citizens, will simply be ignored. If it is offered as ‘official teaching’, it will convince nobody, and serve only to undermine the increasingly fragile authority and moral credibility of the bishops. This of course exactly what happens in the Roman Catholic church, where ‘official teaching’ on contraception (for example) is not merely ignored, but not even regarded as worthy of consideration or debate by the vast majority of practicing Catholics, let alone the rest of the society. Instead, a bad document presented as ‘official teaching’ will function largely as a device for disciplining clergy and other church workers, or preventing their ordination or appointment to office in the first place. It will also exacerbate the gap between bishops on the one hand – to the extent they (mistakenly) feel obliged to uphold the ‘official’ line – and large numbers of lay people and clergy on the other hand. The rejection by the Synod of the last bishops’ document shows this gap already exists in the Church of England. Without movement from the bishops, it will only get bigger.

I can entirely understand why LGBTQI Christians and their supporters (of which I am one) will want to get involved in the production of this document, give evidence, serve as advisors, and do what they can to influence the outcome. All power to them. But I can’t say I’m optimistic.

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Thanks to Fr. Colin Coward for this article, which was written especially for the weblog ‘Unadulterated Love’, by a Church of England priest, The Revd. Dr. Charles Clapham, Vicar of  St.Peter’s Church, Hammersmith in the London Diocese.

The author mentions the lack of suitably qualified persons included in the  Coordinating Group set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to produce a new teaching document on human sexuality. To presume to deal with matters of gender and sexuality that affects a significant minority of Church members (including clergy) without giving either them – or any experts in the field – a voice in the Group’s discussions would seem to be neglecting a resource that can offer practical and useful information to the findings of such a group.

This overlooking of the expertise of qualified commentators in the field of gender and sexuality would seem to negate the usefulness of the Coordinating Group’s task. Is this just one more attempt to stifle further conversation on this important topic by the hierarchy of the Church of England?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Anglo-Catholic Witness in the Sydney Diocese

This is proof positive that in the heart of conservative Evangelical Sydney Diocese in Australia there exists an oasis of solemnity and beauty of worship in the established Anglican Parish of Christchurch Saint Laurence.

This is a parish offering the Gospel to all humanity – regardless of ethnic, religious, political or social background. The Mass is celebrated every day, with major Feast Days a special celebration for all in the Sydney diocese who like their religion celebrated in ways of joy and gladness, with the ‘smells and bells’ of Anglo-Catholic Tradition.

The Choir is of a professional standard – equal to that of the Anglican Church of Saint James, King Street, in the City. Situated quite close to the Sydney Central Railway Station, Christchurch Saint Laurence occupies an unassuming position that might be difficult to pick out by passers by. However, for those familiar with its liturgies, music, ceremonial and thoughtful preaching in the very best of the High Church Anglican Tradition, its beautiful interior is a valued sanctuary for many.

About to celebrate its one hundred and seventy-second Anniversary of Consecration, no doubt the occasion will be eagerly attended by both local and overseas people who know and value the Sacred Tradition this Anglican parish upholds – and in the Sydney diocese!

Here is an extract from the Parish Magazine:

This Sunday,10 September 2017, marks the 172nd Anniversary of the Consecration of Christ Church St Laurence. Newspaper reports of the actual service of consecration suggest that it was a splendid affair, establishing a tradition of liturgy and music that continues to the present day. The church was consecrated by the Bishop of Australia, with many clergy in attendance, while the congregation was “exceedingly numerous, with the aisles and every corner being crowded”.

This Sunday at 5pm, we will celebrate the 172nd Anniversary with our annual Solemn High Mass with choir, soloists and orchestra. Fr James Collins, Rector of St Paul’s, Burwood, will be the guest preacher. All are welcome to join us as we give thanks to God for 172 years of worship offered in our beautiful place of prayer.
 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Open Letter to UK Anglicans – from a TEC perspective

An Open Letter to UK Anglicans
August 26, 2017

This op-ed is in response to the news of ACNA’s consecration of a bishop for missionary work in the United Kingdom and Europe – By Dan Ennis

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the United Kingdom,

Britons, we’re with you. Consider the news that GAFCON, an aggrieved alliance of former Episcopalians and disaffected Anglicans, has dispatched a “missionary bishop” to the British Isles. This missionary bishop is intended “to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who by implication has been accused of failing to provide Britons with that “Biblically faithful episcopal leadership,” is not amused:

The idea of a “missionary bishop” who was not a Church of England appointment, would be a cross-border intervention and, in the absence of a Royal Mandate, would carry no weight in the Church of England.

Thus the Church of England (and the Scottish Episcopal Church, recently chastened by that selfsame GAFCON) has entered the first stages of a process familiar to American Episcopalians. Whether you call them traditionalist, fundamentalist, or orthodox, disaffected Anglicans act predictably when they break away. Disgusted with the local Anglican Communion presence (TEC in the U.S.), they erect alternative pseudo-Anglican structures. In the United Kingdom, this missionary bishop will reach out to those who desire Anglican-style worship, but who seek to to exclude homosexuals from church life, such exclusion being the ne plus ultra of a certain breed of the “Biblically faithful.”

Episcopalians in the United States are familiar with the phenomenon of “missionary bishops,” as GAFCON and other Anglican-adjacent organizations have been lobbing prelates into North America for more than a decade. We offer our friends in the United Kingdom three hints as they prepare for life with a missionary bishop underfoot:

Missionary bishops are touchy about invitations and membership

Lots of faith organizations employ the title of bishop. Methodists have bishops. Mormons have bishops. UFO worshippers have bishops. GAFCON bishops, however, want the world to know they are official, on-the-level, capital-A Anglican bishops. They are repelled by inclusiveness of the Anglican Communion, but they crave inclusion. For example, getting invited to a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury is a big deal for a breakaway GAFCON bishop. Imagine how disappointing it must be when that the same Archbishop of Canterbury declares that your particular breakaway group is not part of the Anglican Communion. You Britons should expect the new missionary bishop not only to loudly lobby for invitations to Lambeth but also to ostentatiously fling any such invitations into the Thames. This thirst for recognition leads fantasies of church polity, in which breakaway Anglican bishops insist they are authentically Anglican, the evidence being that they sometimes appear in photos beside bona fide Anglican bishops. One is reminded of the great theologian Groucho Marx, who declared that he would not want to be a member of a club that would admit him. In the case of your missionary bishop, expect him to simultaneously insist he’s a card-carry member of the Anglican Communion, but also to cast doubt on the integrity of any communion that includes the currently apostate Church of England.

Where there is one missionary bishop, others will follow

Whenever three breakaway Anglicans gather in His name, a consecration is likely to result. Or at least that seems to be the case, judging from the enthusiasm with which former Episcopal priests in the United States love to don the purple for breakaway Anglican organizations. If our experience in the US is any guide, you folks in the UK should prepare for your friendly neighborhood missionary bishop to be joined by a bevy of additional bishops from the various factions of the ever-splintering “Continuing Anglican” movement. The US is swarming with bishops from the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEARUSA), the Anglican Communion in North America (ACNA), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA), other Anglican-ish organizations.These groups merge and split on occasion, but despite their doctrinal feuds they all seem to agree that the ratio of lay people to bishops should be as close to 1:1 as possible. It may be that they are worried about the moral character of their laity — otherwise why so many shepherds for so few sheep?

Missionary bishops minister to you whether you like it or not

Like the spurned woman in the film Fatal Attraction, a GAFCON bishop will not be ignored. Britons might be forgiven in assuming that their new missionary bishop will have his hands full running his missionary diocese. Unfortunately for the CofE, breakaway Anglican churches tend to shrink, leaving breakaway Anglican bishops with idle hands. It won’t take long for your missionary bishop to realize that ginning up outrage about the Church of England is good advertising for GAFCON. Therefore, expect the missionary bishop to be an expert in concern trolling. He will issue jeremiads, edicts, and condemnations of CofE so exhausting that were he still among us a shaken G.K. Chesterton would have to steady himself on the furniture. Over here in the States, when The Episcopal Church sneezes, ACNA clergy rush to the pulpit to announce its imminent death. You Britons should expect your new missionary bishop to follow the CofE with obsessive attention, offering helpful (if occasionally apocalyptic) advice along the way.

In the end, you Brits will be fine. Remember the “keep calm carry on” graphic that you loosed upon the world? The meme may be played out, but the sentiment holds. If he is like his American GAFCON counterparts, your missionary bishop will rapidly fade from your line of sight. After an initial strident splashing ashore on the sceptered isle — breakaway bishops, like Trollope’s Bishop Proudie, are “prepared to take a conspicuous part in all theological affairs” — his real influence will be confined to a modest sect. During missionary bishop’s consecration, the Archbishop of Nigeria called upon the newly-elevated cleric to “correct, rebuke, and encourage.” If indeed any corrections, rebukes, or encouragements are generated, they will resound primarily in the Anglican blogosphere.

In the United States, GAFCON bishops have provided Christians unlikely to be reconciled to TEC a church home and an attractive theological worldview. Sure, occasionally an American GAFCON bishop will accuse TEC of being aligned with “the spiritual forces of evil,” but that’s just how they talk. In the absence of the legal action that has generated so much bad blood in the US, Britons may find that a network of breakaway Anglican churches in the UK will have a positive effect on the spiritual lives of CofE loyalists. Your synods will still be venues for lively debate and a range of perspectives, but they will not longer be conducted in an atmosphere of walkouts, boycotts, and hysteria, derailed by GAFCON’s dual emphasis on eschatology and sex. For Anglicans in the Global North (including our kin in Canada), the appearance of a GAFCON bishop is a welcome sign that one’s church is becoming uncomfortably, scandalously, and even radically inclusive.

Regards,

Dan Ennis and your friends in the Episcopal Church

(Dan Ennis is a member of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway, SC.)
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

This open letter from a member of the American Episcopal Church (TEC) in South Carolina, written to fellow Anglicans in the Church of England, serves to remind them of the process of intervention by members of the GAFCON Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the affairs of the Provincial Anglican Churches of North America – the U.S.A. and Canada.

This will strike a chord with those people in the Church of England – especially among its hierarchy who have hitherto turned a blind eye to the schismatic activities of the GAFCON Primates in the North American Anglican world – who are now concerned about similar activity being initiated by GAFCON that will bring division and strife into the Anglican Churches of the U.K. including the Church of England.

The innovative action by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada – in matters of gender and sexuality – that has highlighted the need for the Church to come up with a more humane and just treatment of the minority LGBTI community within their jurisdictions, prompted some of the more conservative regions of the Anglican Communion to break off relations with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, and to undermine them by putting in place their own alternative church plants and their own episcopal leadership. Now the chickens have come home to roost in the UK, where ACNA and other GAFCON surrogate church groups have arrived on the scene to undermine the ministry and authority of the Church of England and, after its recent decision to allow for Gay MArriage; the Episcopal Church in Scotland.

What has now happened, with further action by other provinces of the Anglican Communion – including the Church of England – to find ways of accepting the reality of Same-Sex relationships within the Church; is that GAFCON and ACNA have together ordained at least one bishop of their own to infiltrate the territory of the Churches of England and Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church, with a view to bringing about a culture of schism from these established Anglican Churches in favour of joining in the cult of schism that GAFCON has already initiated in North America.

Writer Dan Ennis is only expressing a widely-felt feeling on the part of members of TEC – and other Anglican Churches sympathetic to TEC and the Church of Canada’s outreach to the LGBTI community – that the Mother Church of England, whose leadership had opposed the initiatives of TEC and the AC of C towards radical inclusion of Gay Clergy and Same-Sex Blessings within their provinces – that the very same cult of puritanical exclusion has now arrived at its very own doorstep, in the guise of GAFCONUK and the ordination of a ‘missionary bishop’ by GAFCON/ACNA to lead a new, schismatic Church in the UK.

What The Episcopal Churches in North America and Scotland and the Anglican Church of Canada (and other Anglican Churches around the world – including ACANZP – that are not linked with GAFCON) will be keen to find out is; whether or not the Church of England and its archbishops will take steps to distance themselves from the schismatic activities of the GAFCON Provincial Churches by publicly repudiating the latest takeover bids for the soul of Anglicanism by GAFCON and its associated provinces.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Australian Jesuit Schools – re Same-Sex Marriage

Australian Jesuit schools challenge Church teaching on same-sex marriage
by Staff Reporter
posted Tuesday, 29 Aug 2017

(AP photo)
They said Catholics should reflect on whether denial of the right to civil marriage is an ‘unjust discrimination’.

Two elite private Jesuit schools in Australia have cautiously endorsed same-sex marriage, citing the teaching of Pope Francis.

In a message to parents, staff and students, St Ignatius’s College in Sydney and Xavier College in Melbourne, while not explicitly endorsing a “yes” vote, urged parents to reflect on Pope Francis’s teaching on love, mercy and non-judgmentalism.

As Australia prepares for a referendum on the issue, the Sydney Morning Herald reports Fr Chris Middleton, rector of Xavier College, said young people overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage.

“In my experience, there is almost total unanimity amongst the young in favour of same-sex marriage, and arguments against it have almost no impact on them,” Fr Middleton wrote.

“They are driven by a strong emotional commitment to equality, and this is surely something to respect and admire. They are idealistic in the value they ascribe to love, the primary gospel value.”

Fr Middleton also suggested the church could be accused of hypocrisy following revelations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, saying: “To be brutally honest, the church speaking out in controversial areas around sexuality risks being mired in vitriolic attacks on its credibility in the aftermath of the royal commission.”

He also hinted that Catholics should reflect on whether “denial of the right to civil marriage is an ‘unjust discrimination’”.

The rector of St Ignatius’s College, Father Ross Jones said same-sex couples already had many rights, claiming many wish to marry “for the same reasons as their opposite-sex counterparts”’.

He also said Catholic couples could “in good conscience” engage in sexual relationships for reasons other than procreation under the “order of reason”.

“Presumably, same sex-couples, who make such a commitment to each other in good conscience, do so by reflecting on experience and on what it is to be human, using their God-given reason,” he wrote.

St Ignatius’s principal, Paul Hine, also rejected suggestions staff in Catholic schools or parishes could be sacked if they enter same-sex marriages.

“I do not know if Riverview has any LBGTQI teachers or parents in the college and if they have intentions of marriage: I won’t be asking with a view to removing them from the school,” he said.

St Ignatius’s College is the alma mater of former prime minister Tony Abbott, a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, while current opposition leader Bill Shorten attended Xavier College.

See also – https://newsletter.ie/run/Url.aspx?m=gJqcdgnq6cC4hjHO5zuWk4Fku00IxnjJelt%2BJRnONS1lNyrWavWVAND77AsX6hD7K9poz%2F4151k%3D_wzzz_zd7awe-nbv9DmjJcXzEm1PCzliokyYNEBs9wjhpuIB%2BFi97%2Fe1jt5GinaxvQ4R8NWhPi5Hy5ez7FgEGmPc%3D_wzzz_ewhe
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Thanks to Aussie/Kiwi Brian Ralph for this news item.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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