Monday, August 04, 2008

Post Lambeth: This is Going to Take Alot of Work

It seems to me Theo Hobson is right:

Yet liberal Anglicanism failed to make a stand. There were obviously lots of angry noises, but they didn't add up to anything. Amazingly enough, Williams' call for patience was generally heeded. The nature of liberal Anglicanism quietly shifted. It became meek before the rise of evangelical orthodoxy.

Is it still possible to be a liberal Anglican? Not in the old way. Liberal Anglicans have to follow Williams onto the high wire, to some extent. By staying within an institution that has taken an anti-liberal turn, they collude in his act. In other words, liberal Anglicans have been Rowanised. They buy his long-range hope for reform that the church as a whole can accept.

Many on the Anglican left who supported GC2003 or the like have, in fact, followed Williams up onto the high wire, remaining within an institution lurching rightward in hope of something better coming in the future: extending the reforms of GC2003 et al would be all that much harder were the Anglican Communion to split. "Moratoria or marginalization" is clearly the message, whether it can be enforced or not.

This sort of message is not too surprising from Williams. He is not sympathetic to political liberalism, and although there is an element of liberation theology in his work, he does not seem to have been formed by anything analogous to the Civil Rights movement in the US--which seems to me to have decisively impacted the moral sensibilities of Episcopalian bishops. Liberation themes in his work--I have Resurrection in mind--could well indicate Williams will not tolerate acting so as to cast off provinces in the developing world, come what may, even if their primates and policies are offensive for one reason or another. He would rather call for sacrifice and toleration from the developed world than lose them--and from a certain scriptural point of view that kind of strategy is cogent.

That is to say Williams intentionally burdens the Episcopal Church, Canada, and any province sympathetic to GC2003 et al with the task of bringing the other provinces "on board." He simply will not assist; it is not in his job description, and it would risk driving away just the provinces with which he most wishes to keep in communion.

We are in the position of having to "thread the needle":

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ (NRSV, Mt. 19:23-4)

We are like the rich person seeking to enter the kingdom of heaven--rich relative to other provinces. We have our problems, to be sure, but whether one considers FGM and the institutions of child marriage and honor killing, or infant and maternal mortality, or per capita GDP, literacy, economic and political freedom--and so on--it is clear that we have a vast array of advantages, much of which is ours from luck.

For us, in the midst of this wealth--this power--to cultivate something like poverty of spirit or meekness is like a camel going through the eye of a needle. The temptations to discard genuine meekness and poverty of spirit are just too strong. After all, we have arguments, hermeneutics, and what seems to be a slowly gathering international consensus on our side; we feel we are in the right, that it is a justice issue, that fidelity to the Good is at stake and fidelity to our own outcasts, the gay Christians in our congregations and even more outside looking in. And so far as I can tell these feelings are correct.

It seems to me our House of Deputies--accurately representing the vast weight of the laity and clergy--is considerably further to the left of the bishops. And it seems that way in England too; I would conjecture to many in the Church of England, Williams seems like some far-out, out-of-touch old man. And he probably is very much so. He and our bishops are in danger of being brushed aside, swept away--as we saw Williams brushed aside in the CoE's proceedings on ordaining women to the episcopate.

But remember these words from our Teacher:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

There is simply no sense in turning our advantages in political power and moral theology into more self-righteous hypocrisy; the church has plenty of that as it is. Abusing our power will not leave us happy in the end. Perhaps it is worth considering whether we should take on the poverty Williams requires of us, whether we should take on this poverty even if it should bring mourning with it, even as the thirst for righteouosness goes unabated. The last bit from the quote above grabbed my attention: it seemed to imply poverty of spirit can go with the prophetic calling. There is no inconsistency between answering the prophetic call and the moral standard of the Beatitudes.

In plain English that must imply consenting to the moratoria does not mean betraying our gay brothers and sisters. Though it seems impossible, foolish even to try--like the camel going through the needle's eye--nevertheless there is a way, there must be a way.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’

Again, in plain English, here are some tentative suggestions about what this might come to in concrete terms: at the very least, the work of building a case for the actions of GC2003 should continue. And we might well admit that the theological case for those actions can be made better, clearer, more persuasively. If the rest of the Communion is to brought over to our side--seeing that right wing assistance from the developed world will not soon abate--the making of a more cogent case should be a priority.

Then we should also bring agitation for civil rights for gays in Nigeria et al to the fore; that issue should receive a much higher profile in the affairs of the Communion. And there will be sacrifices--as when pastoral affairs at the parish level grind against moratoria at the Communion level. Father Dudley is something of an icon here--it being safe to assume the CoE sets a tenable pattern for unofficial, parish-level rites around blessing SSUs. The real sticking point will be around the election of another partnered gay bishop. Still, it seems there may be a number of ways forward; e.g. the bishop is gay, but becomes partnered only some time after election. There is no logical inconsistency here that should prevent assent to moratoria.

The Communion qua institution will see things as an institution, but it is surely true that the life of the church is largely outside the bounds of the necessary institution, and it is there we might find the life of the Spirit, in a type of exile looking forward to the day when institution and Spirit are brought closer together. It will take alot of work.


At 10:02 AM, Blogger bls said...

I don't agree, Scotist, that we have to "thread the needle."

What we have to do is say clearly, forthrightly, and openly that we think the Church's ages-old position on homosexuality is absolutely wrong. We have to demonstrate the damage that position does to real human beings - and these two examples are only the very tip of the iceberg. We have to rebuke Peter Akinola, finally and at last, for his actions and words on this matter.

I'm willing to accept any sort of moratoria on gay bishops and same-sex blessings - which are only poor band-aids on a wound that goes very deep - if these things can happen. We don't need gay bishops; we need equality - and religion is by far the biggest problem in that regard.

But these things won't happen, because Sudan will lose "street cred." I'm not sure why that's a problem, since Anglicanism isn't the only form of Christian religion in the world. Suppose Sudanese become, instead, Pentecostal? So what? Why do gay people's lives have to be sacrificed so that Anglicanism in particular can flourish in Sudan? Is that supposed to be Christian? Is it better for one man to perish so that the nation might live?

I actually have great sympathy for Anglicans in Sudan - but so do I have sympathy for gay people. Matter of fact, I'm all for GAFCON, because it gives both sides insulation from the other. We need some street cred, too, you know.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

Of course, your speaking for gays from a place that we don't always experience. After all, violence still befalls us on a regular basis here in the US and many gays are not necessarily advantaged monetarily here either, so if you want to talk about sacrifice, I expecet you to offer something of yourself first rather than gays. You folks always get very generous when it comes to how we can do moratoria on other persons.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Marshall Scott said...

Scotist, I would disagree on a different tack: I disagree that there is a needle to thread. I understand what Canterbury said, and I understand Hobson's metaphor (and his suggestion that we face a Hobson's Choice here).

However, I think both Canterbury and Hobson are mistaken. I think Canterbury is mistaken that the moratoria will succeed. We may or may not elect a bishop who is in a partnered, non-marital relationship between now and Anaheim; but all bets are off after Anaheim. Canterbury made a distinction last week between "official rites," whether at provincial or diocesan levels, and ad hoc events for "pastoral care." But, for those least comfortable with us those ad hoc "pastoral" events will be just as unacceptable. Their expectation is of no participation of any cleric of the Church in any such event, and penalties for any cleric who does.

Conversely, the moratorium on "incursions" will last no longer than moratoria on expansion of settlements on the West Bank. Even if they were to cease responding to new requests from existing Episcopal congregations, they have already said they will not abandon those already under their "protection," much less those "continuing Anglican" congregations that have never been officially part of the Episcopal Church. I would hate to say that Canterbury is delusional; but I'm certain he is mistaken.

Hobson is also, I think, mistaken that progressive Anglicanism is dead. It may become more difficult in the Church of England itself; but in more provinces than the two under the spotlight the progressives will continue to speak and to have influence. They will continue to resist "saving the Communion on the backs of GLBT Christians."

No, I think there is no needle to thread. Rather, over the next few years we will see choices, out of which there will be three groups. There will be a Canterbury group, receiving and fully participating in the Covenant. There will be the GAFCON/FOCA group, who have already lost faith sufficiently in Canterbury both as institution and as person to mandate a separate institution. There will be a progressive group, that may manage to maintain communion with Canterbury, but in a different form, whether "second class status" within the Communion or through some new model.

Hobson may describe reasonably accurately the efforts of Canterbury. I simply think both of them are mistaken about just how many will take that walk.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


So far as I can see, the Bible and the best theology we have on tap now back blessing SSUs and ordaining bishops who have their own SSU blessed. What obstructs is the dead weight of tradition and the political usefulness of that dead weight as a wedge issue in elections. That is to say, I do not think there is a serious question of Truth or Good remaining.

The question is rather: How do we conduct ourselves, so that the Spirit may use us to bring the Truth and the Good to bear?

Moratoria may well continue, but so will blessing gay SSUs, and the two need not contradict if there are enough good priests like Father Dudley. True, the prophetic and priestly roles normally come apart--as in Amos--but they need not.

If we can find priests willing to stick their necks on the block--as we cannot rightly expect this of bishops if the moratoria are to hold--then the practice of blessing SSUs may become a rite outside of our prayer books, something written into the fabric of our communities. That is the most important thing.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


That's a good point--but there is more to say. The only thing that really matters is continuing the practice of blessing SSUs, and if that continues long enough the prayer books will come around, and I think other provinces may come around. The issue is one of survival--how do we keep this thing going, given the ambivalent climate?

The big danger of throwing this back at Williams and defying moratoria is that it will provide a bad example to the rest of the mainline: blessing SSUs entails accepting fragmentation. But we really need as much of the mainline as possible on this for the thing to work; that is, marriage has a religious side, so that state fiat might not be able to lead left if the mainline resists. Keeping the AC together is a good way to marginalize hostile right-wing fragments (important), and showing how blessing SSUs can go together even with adamant 3rd world resistance (Sudan, Egypt). That's important b/c the mainline has international bodies similar to the AC to worry about, and the IRD is already going to work trying to split them. If we just fall apart, the IRD et al may have an easier time dissuading them.

How else to proceed?

At 3:01 PM, Blogger bls said...

Scotist, I don't care about same-sex blessings any more than I care about gay bishops.

I care about the disastrous effect of the Church teaching on homosexuality on gay people. I care about support from Archbishops for the arrest of innocent people. I care about the continuing beatings and murders.

I think Marshall is right that it doesn't matter what we do, though. The so-called "orthodox" will continue to point to even same-sex blessings on the QT.

I want the abuse to end. I just can't bring myself to care about same-sex blessings when people are being murdered in the streets. I want the Anglican Communion to pay attention to these things for once, and to finally act in a decent fashion; a fond hope, no doubt.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger bls said...

Gene Robinson and "same-sex blessings" are simply pressure-release mechanisms, anyway - mechanisms that have now backfired because they don't deal with the real issue.

They accomplish nothing. Christians refuse to look gay people in the face; they refuse to deal with the wreckage their "belief system" creates. That is the real problem - and same-sex blessings in LA and Gene Robinson in New Hampshire do nothing to alter that fact.

And looking gay people in the face was just as much part of Lambeth 1.10 as the rest - so I've had it with that alleged argument from the so-called "orthodox."

Until that can happen, the rest is of no import. And Anglican Communion refuses to confront the bigotry and fascism of Peter Akinola and the so-called "teaching" that it defends itself with - so who the hell cares for the sorry band-aids that get put in place instead?

If Christians can't be bothered to act like Christians, who needs the Church at all?

At 3:16 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


Anaheim will be interesting; I suspect the HoD is a hair's breadth from giving Williams the one finger salute. But until then, I think out bishops might hold tight to moratoria--they are a good deal more reluctant to follow out GC2003 than the HoD.

And as you note, Canterbury's pastoral care/official rite provision is a green light; that is exactly what i am talking about.

The pastoral care provision will be used as an excuse to poach, but these poachers don't need excuses; whatever Lambeth did, they were going to keep poaching. that is a given.

However, the fact we accept the moratoria gives us all the leverage we need to use GAFCON poaching as a reason to keep fragmented right-wing groups on the margin--and that is working fine already. We need to keep that going. Given that there will be more fragments, let's make sure they only inhabit the outer darkness.

In that sense, the GAFCON--whether it grows or not--group is a rich blessing to the Communion; may they continue doing just what they are doing. I would go so far as to say we should be just irritating enough to make sure GAFCON continues to have a reason for being, and for absenting itself from the Communion's councils in a fabulous but incoherent huff.

Remember that scene in Elizabeth the movie where 5 prelates were locked in a basement during a crucial vote? These guys have willingly locked themselves in the basement. Bravo GAFCON!!

While GAFCON is playing with itself in the basement, the progressives might consider sticking as close as possible with Canterbury, in spite of their indignation at the ABC's coldness. I think the left definitely has the numbers--and imagine what could be done if the next ABC is from the left, or if the various panels judging dissenters are populated with Communion-loyal left Anglicans. Keep your eye on the ball.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


Hang on there--the US has made progress in backing away from hatred and fear of homosexuals since the early 70s; California and Massachussets are on board. Those are good signs. If you'd look at western Europe, you'd see even better progress. The thing is to keep the progress moving--and teh church should be behind that effort, because as you say every Christian should support the effort to end the demonization.

But as with civil rights--and as with women's lib, the church is behind the curve, a haven for reactionaries. No surprise there.

The surprise might be that--in spite of the institutiopn's reactionary pull--the churches of the mainline are ready to come around--they are ripe on the tree, now.

An example: A congregation that has to look a gay couple in the face as a gay couple blessed by the church is doing something new, something pretty radical. I do not see how folks who have faced the fact of blessed SSUs can fail to take their exposure elsewhere into their daily lives.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Another more personal case, showing how TEC could make a difference here yet:

The UCC's toleration is not enough here; b/c of their congrgational polity, local churches have the option to back out of recognizing SSUs--and this has happened, for instance, where my parents go to church. We in effect have to live with being unable to see my brother's SSU blessed in (what would have been)his church. And the trauma of that has kept him away from, say, TEC.

The Episcopal Church's polity makes it a better host for socially effective toleration, i.e. extending worship throughout daily life. We don't have local options--or at least we should not.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger bls said...

Scotist, same-sex blessings only take place where they're NOT shocking to anybody. Every Bishop either allows or disallows them at discretion - and of course most don't allow them at all. (Neither do most ordain openly-gay, partnered priests, for that matter, as far as I know.)

Same-sex blessings have no effect whatsoever on changing anybody's mind; they're accepted only where they're already acceptable. (You're right, of course, that the church is far behind the rest of society almost all the time.) What's the point in that, when people can be beaten to death in broad daylight?

The one thing the church allegedly has going for it is that it teaches the value, worth, and dignity of every human being. Except in this case, of course. Our church meekly stands by and lets Akinola, et al., do what they do without so much as a peep of protest.

Our church essentially teaches nothing so much as how important its own existence is.

At 3:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't see where Rowan Williams used the term "official rites". AFAIK he uses the windsor term "public rites" and in his final lambeth presser made it clear that anything with a liturgy is going too far.

From the presser:
"One of the problems around this is that people in different parts of the world clearly define ‘public’ and ‘rights’ and ‘blessing’ in rather different ways. I refer, I think, to the address I gave this afternoon. As soon as there is a liturgical form it gives the impression ‘this has the church’s stamp on it.’ As soon as that happens you have moved to another level of apparent commitment, and that’s nowhere near where the church, the Anglican Communion generally is.

In the meeting of Primates at Gramado, in Brazil some years ago, the phrase ‘a variety of pastoral response’ was used as an attempt to recognise that there were places where private prayers were said and, although there is a lot of unease about that, there wasn’t quite the same sense of feeling about that as about public liturgies.

But again, ‘pastoral response’ has been interpreted very differently and there are those in the USA who would say ‘Pastoral Response, well, it’s a blessing’ and I’m not very happy about that."

The light has not turned green.

But of course I could be wrong - please point out evidence to the prove this.

Obadiah Slope

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Tony Hunt said...

As a reasonable (I would hope) 'Evangelical' Episcopalian I get distressed by the binary mode of discussion here. Either one is in full support of SSU's or they are beating homosexuals in the street with clubs and King James Bibles. I really do not see it that way. I am in full agreement with Anglican Scotist here (although I have no 'plan of attack' for getting rid of you) in as much as I agree that this issue is worth splitting over.

I am just as perterbed as you are over some anglo-catholics not wanting women serving wine at their altars, but I have no desire to run off, with hyper-protestant haste to do my own thing.

Perhaps the largest gulf between you and me is that you use 'civil rights' language which simply is not theological or biblical enough for church conversation. At least cogent arguments, exegetical and the like, are made for women clergy. And I still fail to see how, if we condemned the failures of certain African bishops to respond to real homosexual persecution, and promoted a nationally recognized Civil Union for same sex couples, that refusing non-celibate gay clergy is an actual violation of anyones 'civil rights.'

All in all I do hope that you will stay and continue to make your case clearer, as Anglican Scottist recommended. I certainly want to hear it.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Tony Hunt said...

Is NOT worth splitting over. That's what I meant in the first paragraph.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Christopher said...


What I'm pointing to, and which you did not answer (but went off on more political calculation), as folks never do when I point them to turning language of sacrifice on themselves first, is that the "liberal" language of sacrifice is itself part of a violent rhetoric toward lgbt persons, which bls repeatedly points out, and as I have noted on my blog:

St. Lawrence epitomizes for me what being a Christian is all about when the chips are down. His mind is on heavenly things. The treasures of the church are neither buildings, nor golden vessels. He presents the least, the weak, those of no account, the despised, the vulnerable. These are those whom Christ treasures, and so therefore, does the good deacon, Lawrence. In the end, Lawrence doesn't offer up and hand over to the Roman authorities these treasures--the least, the weak, those of no account, the despised, the vulnerable, as his own sacrifice or his "generosity". Rather, he offers himself, all who he is, even unto death, death by roasting on a gridiron over fire. That is the difference between a Christian understanding of sacrifice and the notion being put forth by many Anglican bishops. The former notion offers oneself, the latter notion offers someone else in one's stead. It's easy to "include" others so long as when the chips are down we can be generous in offering them up in our stead. That may be liberal, but it's not the type of Christian I hope to become.

Adrian Thatcher, a fine practical theologian has noted this tendency to use us for political calculation, and he rebukes both liberals and conservatives:

Second, the churches are in danger of using people of homosexual orientation as a ‘site of conflict’ for oppositional politics which have a wider agenda. ‘Liberal’ and ‘conservative’ have little intention of listening to each other; more intention of clobbering each other. So the presence of lesbian and gay Christians in Christian congregations, itself surely a cause of rejoicing (given what Christianity has often had to say about them), and their obedience to the call of God to positions of ministry, has become an ‘issue’, around which there is to be much ‘debate’. Now the danger is that the attitudes of Christians to this ‘issue’ are taken as evidence of their ‘positioning’ over all other matters about which Christians find themselves in disagreement. This is itself to treat homosexual people as means to some other end, like lining up with apparently ‘progressive’ or ‘reactionary’ forces within the church, or the defence of a particular interpretation of the bible. Why should lesbian and gay people be used like this? We who behave this way are in danger of breaking the ninth commandment forbidding false witness against our neighbour (Exodus 20/16), and failing to see the plank in our own eyes before we take the speck from our brother’s.(Matthew 7/4-5)

And I would disagree with bls, though I think would our bishops offer the generosity of the Canadian bishops I would forgo blessings for Eucharist. Contra bls, a word of blessing can go a great deal toward countering the millions of curses we hear all the time. Blessings are about first speaking God's Good News, and the church, including liberals, has little in that regard when it might not be easy.

All in all, as bls points out, the refusal of the churches to grapple with the level of malice toward lgbt persons both in its liberal forms and in its conservative forms makes this a rather toxic environment for lgbt persons, which has affirmed my decision to withdraw from Anglican life in emulation of the likes of the elders and Benedict, who themselves lived at times when the church was more worldly than the world.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Obadiah Slope,

Two things. For all Williams said, strictly speaking the light is still green on blessing SSUs--one does not need a liturgical form for that. Nothing need be written in any official liturgical resource or referred to in any institutional communication that mentions SSUs or an equivalent.

Let me explain. I've seen rectors improvise entire Eucharistic prayers, and do quite well, following BCP 400 (1979). In fact, any rector wishing to bless a SSU could do so using that rubric, say, in the section entitled "Prayers for the World and the Church." I am sure any rector doing so runs the risk of being censured by his or her bishop. So what?

At 11:22 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

ad hunt,

Is it worth splitting over? you are talking about a church which did not split over slavery--at a time when mist other national protestant denominations were splitting: ECUSA kept right on trucking.

But for individual gay Episcopalians, the situation is rather different--facing as bls describes the prospect of violence at home.

The situation he describes, e.g. having to watch one's back on the street lest one get jumped or harassed, fit what I saw in Philly in the '90s, and is probably near omnipresent even in the US. One might wonder why the church just cannot seem to speak against that reality.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


I am not sure what to say; "things are slowly getting better" is very cold comfort, and it does not mean things have become tolerable for all the "improvement."

Still, there are affirming communities in TEC that are not wavering or wobbling in their commitment, and it seems the HoD is very sympathetic.

What other course is there, in any such case, other than building up base communities? Going it alone?

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Christopher said...

Again Scotist, your approach is a part of "disappearing" us. To have nothing recorded, written down, leaves nothing to posterity about our loves and lives. It is another form of the closet.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“… the work of building a case for the actions of GC2003 should continue. And we might well admit that the theological case for those actions can be made better, clearer, more persuasively.”

How nice of you to admit it so baldly: actions destructive to the Communion were brazenly undertaken with no thought whatsoever as to any supporting theology.

And on which of the contradictory after-the-fact excuses will you stake your “better, clearer” case? That the biblical authors were too ignorant to have an inkling of the sexual categories constructed by us highly advanced moderns? Or, that they did understand them, but were too bigoted to accept them? Or, that it doesn’t matter whether they understood them or not, because supposed scientific findings always trump the Scriptures? Or, none of the above, because your agenda is so obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit – changing the truth every so often just to keep us on our toes – that you’ll do what you want, whether the rest of the Church likes it or not? Pray tell.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


That is well put, but note the endpoint you suggest: withdrawal from Anglican life. It is hard to know what would qualify as following St.Lawrence's example. Must there be only one way? Whether TEC withdraws from the AC or stays with it, TEC is going to get "roasted." Poaching, acerbic wrangling, lawsuits, scandals and strife--all around lgbts--will continue either way: there is no haven.

Given that, wouldn't withdrawing from the AC amount to helping heave lgbts elsewhere in the AC into the fire, i.e. defying Lawrence's example? Things are pretty bad in Sudan, in Nigeria, in Uganda, in Rwanda, in Kenya and Egypt--much worse than in Canada or the US.

I have to disagree that lgbt persons are being used as things, as means to other ends.

In particular, I fail to see how the principle of advocacy arguably at work here--keep fighting for the good of the dispossessed come what may--cannot be impartially universalized, so as to be binding on liberals, conservatives, anyone in any case of injustice. That is important inasmuch as the resulting imperativre to advocacy binds people as rational free agents, regardless of sexual orientation, race, class, whatever.

Nor is the principle of advocacy politically liberal; though it fits eighteenth century theory, it predates it as part of Reformation conflict and--I'd say--as implied by Scripture.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


The bit about disappearing does not follow. It is one thing (A) To have nothing written in an official liturgical resource, and another thing (B)To have nothing written. (A) does not imply (B)--one can have reams of material written on liturgical forms, none of which is official.

There is a moral problem for a church that settles with such a set up--true--but one does not depend on the provincial institution for presence, much less written presence--esp in a case like marriage or a SSU where the sacrament is not liturgically performed.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


I just put a post up--solely based on your comment--that sets out teh Episcopal Church's case--one never refuted anywhere to my knowledge--and my own argument, which I eould like to make similar claims for--and I've included a bunch of other relevant posts.

So--yes, the Episcopal Church DID set out an argument fot the Communion, to which the Communion never responded.

But ignorance springs ever anew, and the case must be made better, clearer--those were my words.

Go read, and feel free to comment.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


here is the Episcopal Church's core argument from TSOHOC:

Part I
(1) Same-sex unions realizing the unitive end do so by God's love.
(2) Any realization of the unitive end effected by God's love is holy.
Therefore, (3) same-sex unions realizing the unitive end are holy.

Part II:
(1) Same-sex unions exhibiting effects of the Spirit are holy.
(2) There are same-sex unions exhibiting the effects of the Spirit.
Therefore, (3) There are holy same-sex unions.

Part III:
(1) The church is permitted to bless holy unions.
(2) Some same-sex unions are holy.
Therefore, (3) The church is permitted to bless some same-sex unions.

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to it, though I assume the large set of links will take some time to read. I won’t be able to avoid, of course, setting any of it against the backdrop of what I’ve pointed out are contradictory excuses made from time to time by the various advocates of the new morality. (If one didn’t know better, one would think the answer was decided upon before the argument! Perish the thought?)

I also might wonder how all that sterling work was missed when the Communion, in essence, asked to see it – and got, instead, the slipshod effort (as your above post illustrates) of “To Set Our Hope on Christ.” It is reported that even Katharine Jefferts Schori told the assembled clergy of South Carolina (no doubt to snickers) that the document was, “I think most people would recognize, not our best effort.”

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do note that, going at least by the links, every one of your posts were written well after TEC chose, in 2003, to shred the Communion's fellowship. I feel free to repeat my initial comment: "Actions destructive to the Communion were brazenly undertaken with no thought whatsoever as to any supporting theology."

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Tony Hunt said...

I feel that you are being uncharacteristically off the ball. Not only did you miss that I posted "NOT something to split over" correcting my mistake in the first post but you simply reiterated that

"facing as bls describes the prospect of violence at home.

The situation he describes, e.g. having to watch one's back on the street lest one get jumped or harassed, fit what I saw in Philly in the '90s, and is probably near omnipresent even in the US. One might wonder why the church just cannot seem to speak against that reality."

I would march to the streets with you to protest any harassment of GLTB people. I would agree that the church should denounce it with full force and voice. But, provided that we do that, I am still comfortable, and feel no lack of integrity saying that I still do not believe that homosexuality (however defined) should be endorsed by the Church. And you simply repeated yourself that your experience in 'Philly' is the well from which you drink your doctrine; and in a proper Anglican 'stool' that is certainly an authoritative voice. But it is the least of the three.

Blog comments do not always convey tone accurately so I want to assure you that I do not mean my response as attack, but as honest discussion.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


It is true that I--being a newcomer post2003--cannot speak to what was going on before 2003 from any kind of personal authority.

That said, the Appendix (pp 63-127) to this link

shows that there was a debate in the Episcopal Church on the ethics of homosexuality spanning about thirty years--and not at all a one-sided debate either. Different sides alternately produced different documents making their arguments.

In view of this evidence, when you say

"Actions destructive to the Communion were brazenly undertaken with no thought whatsoever as to any supporting theology"

that seems plainly false. Better: the actions were undertaken with thought to a supporting theology, regardless of the effect on the Comunion's cohesion. Note "having some thought as to a supporting theology" is a very low bar to jump.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

And as to the flood of links I posted, the first one is the one most relevant to making a case.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

a.d. hunt,

Philly is a minor piece of evidence, as is much of the rest of my experience: granted. I do not want to give the impression that my support of GC2003 rests on such stuff alone.

Personally, I did not begin to speak publicly on the issue until I found the following argument:

1. Christ was resurrected in the flesh, and will exist in the world to come.

2. In the world to come, members of the Church will be resurrected, male and female, in the flesh.

3. In the world to come, the members of the Church will bear a new real, reciprocal relation to Christ; call it R.

4. Here below, marriage should be modeled on R.

5. R obtains between males: for instance, Christ and each blessed male.

6. As R obtains between males (from 5), and marriage is to be modeled on R (from 4), marriage may obtain between males.

Attempted refutations of the argument that I have seen try to picture the church as saved independently of its members, as if not I but the church as a whole bore the special relation to Christ, R. Logically that would work, but in Scriptural terms it is false--and obviously so. The church is not a person in addition to the persons making it up; it has no soul to save, no human nature capable of sin. Moreover, the phenomenology of conversion speaks clearly of a personal relationship to Christ, one that reaches fruition corporately--yes--but it ever remains personal.

Thus, i continue to think of the argument as sound, and plan on publishing it when I have the time.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger bls said...

I am not sure what to say; "things are slowly getting better" is very cold comfort, and it does not mean things have become tolerable for all the "improvement."

Still, there are affirming communities in TEC that are not wavering or wobbling in their commitment, and it seems the HoD is very sympathetic.

What other course is there, in any such case, other than building up base communities? Going it alone?

Yes, I think going it alone is better, honestly. In fact, it's starting to feel to me like the 3rd Century, and the desert seems to beckon.

Hey, listen: I'm not alone. The pews continue to empty out as people continue to recognize how crazy the church is. It's just not a healthy environment.

I think we really can do better on our own, Scotist. I don't mean alone, individually, but joined with one another, outside the institution. The Desert Fathers and Mothers did it that way, after all.

I think the church is done for, really. It's corrupt and unhealthy, and I don't see that changing anytime soon; the secular world is actually healthier, in fact, I think. Meantime, we do have a chance to be part of building something better.

I do appreciate the things you've written here, though! And there's nothing that stops any of us from writing and speaking and being a part of our own communities. But the institution isn't worth it any longer, I don't think.

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all his reputation for unclarity, Rowan Williams was blunt at his press conference. No public rites of blessing means exactly that. Whether written down, improvised, authorised by the Bishop, or winked at in the Bishop Bruno method. Nothing that resembles a church service of any kind is permitted.
the light is not green, it is red.
For once the archbishop was clear, especially about the creative ways the Americans are spinning the windsor statement on blessings.
Those who would like to perform blessings need to wait until a new consensus emerges in the communion - which will require better arguments than TSOHOC, which as a poster pointed out is not regarded as TEC's best work.
The advantage of a moratorium would be to create space to engage the Nigerians and the Ugandans on civil rights for gays. To my mind that is an argument the progressives in TEC are in danger of dismissing. Please don't.

Obadiah Slope

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Marshall Scott said...

Obadiah, I've been looking and can't find what I thought I'd seen. If I do find it, I'll point it out, and have to express humility till then.

Which press conference are you referring to?

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I refer to Rowan Williams' final press conference at Lambeth. I am sorry I did not make that clear.
You can find a transcript of William's answers at

To find the questions listen to a recording at

You might also want to read William's final presidential address at

Obadiah Slope

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly, Anglican Scotist, the Appendix shows there was a debate. I never wrote otherwise. What I wrote – point taken on precision – is that (modified) very little – certainly, insufficient – theological groundwork had been done prior to TEC’s decision to recklessly risk destroying the Communion to indulge its own passions.

Which the Appendix also shows. It’s a ringing testament to the reality that there was a lot of asking committees and sub-committees and joint commissions and task forces to gather information, but very little theological argumentation done. (The best there is – for example, in Sexuality: a Divine Gift, is a recognition that somebody had better start appropriating Christian language to provide some cover for what has been going on.) This is all the more blatant for the fact that it should have been obvious that proponents of junking the Tradition bore the onus of making a compelling argument from a Christian framework. Instead, we got, as attested to by the very Appendix you cite, a lot of slavish deference to the wider culture, i.e., the world we are called to be in but not of. So much for that.

We might as well say, pace your line, that Jack Spong proves there’s been thirty years of discussion on the propositions that Christ is not Lord, and the Resurrection didn’t happen, and Theism is a fool’s errand, and therefore, it’s OK if TEC organizes itself around those lines. Oh, wait …

In plain English, what TSOHOC shows is the history of a lot of wringing of hands by a crumbling institution over its vestigial desire to remain a recognizably Christian one, over against the realization that any reassertion of Christian morality would simply be ignored by a growing number of the inside activists from whom it was under assault – thus revealing its own impotence. In the event, it opted to avoid the disgrace of such self-discredit, as men ever always have, and punted.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


I'm going to concede your point, esp as you make reference to past church communities as precedent.

And a precedent that worked to preserve something of the truth from a past age during a time of barbarism--thinking of the period in the West roughly from the execution of Boethius to the reign of Charlemagne and the School of Alcuin. Maybe indeed we are at that kind of point.

At 3:30 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


I think Obadiah's report is accurate; Rowan wants compliance from TEC's bishops.

My point is that laws without customs are vain: compliance with the Law will not suffice, at least b/c there will be loopholes.

That is to say, conservatives intending the survivial of the Communion should already have prepared themselves for dissonace: bishops forbidding what nevertheless happens on the parish level with only a "slap on the wrist".

At 10:11 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

On Spong: that thirty years has run its course. We can say the whole "God is Dead"/pomo thing has lost the initiative in theology; it's "so five minutes ago".

The interesting thing about the thirty years of discussion about homosexuality is that it has not yet run its course; the Spong/JAT Robinson/Carter types who initiated the questioning have yielded to another generation with a much more sound approach: people like Rowan Williams and Eugene Rogers.

In other words, the two movements are not parallel as you suggest.

Moreover, suppose you are right that "what TSOHOC shows is the history of a lot of wringing of hands by a crumbling institution over its vestigial desire to remain a recognizably Christian one"--for the sake of argument. Given your knowledge of Scripture, where would you rather be: the Pharisee up front saying "thank God I'm not a tax collector" or the tax collector in the back beating his breast?

Even if TEC were a whore, that does not imply she can only ever be nothing more than a whore; she may be like Hosea's Gomer--or you and me--damned sinners bought back at a very high price.

The ease with which one's rhetoric evinces distance from the vestiges of ruin threatens a merely sub-Christian attitude, a love of the grand, golden, glittering glories of the world, which may be little more than the doomed pomps of the prince of power.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger bls said...

Oh, my God. We're being Sponged, yet again?

Still another example of the unhealth of the church. I've heard people argue that, even though Spong is retired and Pike has been dead for 40 years - and even though they can't actually point to anybody currently saying Spongish or Pikeish things - that many, many TEC Bishops are actually similarly heretical Spongs themselves. (What's interesting about this, in fact, that if it were true - if all these Bishops who don't appear to be are actually Spongs underneath - that would go to give credit to them. They are not, quite obviously, teaching anything heretical; no, they discipline themselves and teach the faith of the church, even when they secretly don't believe it. They're saints, actually.)


Oh, when will all the silliness end?

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anglican Scotist,

I’d rather be the tax collector beating his breast, but what is the relevance to this? Perhaps you should consider the institution you defend more carefully before issuing such a challenge. It was TEC’s Presiding Bishop that juxtaposed Episcopalians versus ignorant Catholics. It was Jack Spong that slurred African Anglicans, calling them “superstitious animists” for the crime of not signing up for the free-sex agenda. It’s TEC’s leadership and clergy that have no compunctions about suggesting anybody who doesn’t agree with them are ignorant souls who simply refuse to think through the matter. It’s your side of the aisle that likes to unburden itself of superiority-tinged insults like, “fundagelical” and “con evo.”

More so for you to speak of a, “merely sub-Christian attitude, a love of the grand, golden, glittering glories of the world, which may be little more than the doomed pomps of the prince of power.” Good Lord, man, I think you’ve stumbled into the truth, after all, but you have the arrow aimed in the wrong direction. Physician, heal thyself.

Yes, of course, TEC may be redeemed in the end – I pray that will be so. I don’t see how it’s helping matters, however, to cheerlead it on in its current direction, away from the Gospel.

As an aside, if you really think Spongian thought has run its course in TEC, your naivete is touching. Perhaps you could comment on John Chane’s sermonizing on how the Resurrection is mythology? Or possibly just Google “Redeemer Morristown,” “Bill Melnyk,” or “Muslim Episcopalian” if you’re pressed for time.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


Are you suggesting that Jack Spong's speculations are somehow representative of the theology of TEC's leadership? If you seriously think that, then of course your approach makes sense; Spong's watered-down mixture of Bonhoeffer and Tillich is a distaster.

I think it is more reasonable to see Spong's thought as an aberration--like JAT Robinson's "Honest to God" in the CoE. The Episcopal Church has run three series of books purporting to set out its theology, the most recent being "The Church's Teaching Series" from the '90s. That stuff has a greater claim to representing TEC's working theology than Spong--or Borg for that matter.

Spong and Borg have a place in teh church as giving voice to questions and doubts, and maybe they serve to help newcomers with no sense yet for dogma to come into the church. As such, they are fine. But it seems the Episcopal Church has gone to lengths to articulate its leading theology--and been largely ignored.

Let's take Chane for example (I take it you are alluding to the SFiF links here )

(1)his Christmas sermon of 2003 does not imply theological pluralism--and is even logically consistent with the Nicene Creed & the Chalcedonian Definition;

(2)the same goes for the Christmas sermon of 2006--where he attests to the truth of the dogma of Incarnation;

(3)even the ordination sermon from 2007 does not imply service and worship are mutually exclusive; a sympathetic reading sees him as condemning worship without service as worship in name only.

This is a zealous defense of Chane, but it should be enough to show how little mere insinuation accomplishes. The grand rhetoric on display at sites like SFiF often does not amount to demonstration. E.g. they choose to downplay and ignore the distinction between pluralism and inclusivism.

Anyhow, even if sosmehow material heresy could be demonstrated of Chane, that would still fall short of formal heresy, and would not imply TEC's teaching is Chane's.

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That’s always a convenient escape hatch, isn’t it: this bishop, and this priest, and this Presiding Bishop et al. (until one runs out of fingers to count) don’t really speak for TEC, whose official teaching is actually contained in this set of volumes of which nobody’s heard. (Who cares, anyway? The practical impact of the rumored – like Bigfoot – “real doctrine” has as much practical meaning as a Primates’ communiqué, since you can teach the opposite with impunity.) The reality is, countless priests across TEC get up every Sunday and launch in to their routine about how Christians are as ignorant as Buddhists as to salvation, or the Resurrection was only a burning sensation in the apostles’ hearts, or the Virgin Birth is an obvious fraud that isn’t important to the Faith, and, by the way, Paul was a bigot.

Yes, I know, that’s anecdotal, but when the anecdote is teaching your kids every Sunday to rubbish their beliefs, your technicalities mean little. In my opinion, this is far more ingrained in TEC than you would admit.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger bls said...

But you can't actually name any of these allegedly "countless" priests, though, Sid? That's pretty interesting, I think.

You want us to ignore our own experience, it seems, in favor of sitting in front of the computer screen and Googling to find the same three tired, worn-out examples that have been repeated over and over for the past 5 years.

Well, it's of a piece with the rest of the so-called "orthodox" platform, all right; they think they can tell gay people what we're all about, too.

And now I see, in the end, it's all about "the children." What a total load of rubbish.

Conservatism sure ain't what it used to be, that's for sure. It doesn't seem to care for actual evidence anymore - and it seems to require the most purple of appeals to emotion in order to make its alleged "case."

Feh. This is worth saving?

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As an Anglican conservative, I appreciate the candor of your posts, although the Machiavellianism of your thinking, while it confirms my suspicions about the plans of the Anglican left, still somewhat shocks. The plan actually seems to be to keep the communion going long enough that a combination of the pressure of secular pro-lgbt culture and influence of liberal seminaries slowly leads to the withering away of conservative opposition. Not a bad strategy, but the conservatives are aware of it, which make it unlikely to succeed.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger bls said...

Oh, anonymous, it doesn't matter anymore; can't you see that? The so-called "conservatives" can do anything they want to; their time is coming to an end. And please believe me that the "liberal seminaries" have literally nothing to do with it. (I don't think you understand what's happening on the ground these days, if you think that.)

The Constantinian captivity is over - thank God - and the Church has no more power in society at all. The old-time (cultural) religion is done for - the Catholic Church is crumbling worldwide and Protestants continue to splinter into smaller and smaller purity sects.

Better days are dawning now; people will actually have a chance to develop and practice real faith, instead of whatever it is that the church has been playing at.

"Conservatives" (who, as demonstrated by Sid above, aren't really conservative anyway - and I think what you really mean is "the anti-gays" anyway) are on their last legs already.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, bls, I like your approach better--let's just embrace schism and let the liberals and the conservatives go their separate ways. It's the subterfuge strategy of some liberals that strikes me as fundamentally dishonest.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger bls said...

I have nothing against conservatives.

The people causing the problems are not conservative, as I said above. They are reactionary Protestant purists of a distinctively modern stripe. And talk about "fundamentally dishonest"!

At 11:26 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


It seems rather to me that TEC was caught, along with the RCC and much of the mainline, in a period of confused and conflicted fragmented theology. Theological reflection is confused across the board--and largely from the successes of secular science and its attendant culture of this-worldly materialism and hedonism.

It seems silly to think TEC's teachers and clergy know teh truth and then go out to undermine it; it is rather that they were caught in the same corrosive culture as the leaders of other churches, and they paid an enormous price.

It may very well be that the piety of TEC as we knew it from the old days was always in many cases infected with the pagan ethos of our elite: we compromised with slavers, warmongers, usurers, segregationists, etc etc.

But then why is sin such a surprise?


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