Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gafcon ‘Anglicanism’

August 30, 2008

In preparing for a Rector’s Forum tomorrow, I came across the not altogether surprising news that the Gafcon boys are moving full steam ahead with their attempted, and fundamentally dishonest takeover of the ‘Anglican brand’. You can read their latest ‘communiqué’ here:

One major gift which I take from traveling to Rio is that the Christian world in many places offers a choice of fundamentalist neo-Pentecostalism or Roman Catholicism. I formed the impression that the Lutherans are trying in and around Rio, but managing to look and sound rather like Rome and the Presbyterians appear to have imitated the Pentecostalists in order to attract and retain their people. This must be an oversimplification at some level, but leaves a crying need for the humane, inclusive, generous, honest and non-manipulative expression of the faith that Anglicanism represents within the church universal. Surely what the world does not need is another separatist group offering unity through intellectual assent to doctrine as a consequence of some kind of religious conversion experience. Aren’t there rather good options out there in the Roman or Orthodox communions?

The Anglican Theological Review (Summer 2008, Vol, 90. No.3) is available in our parish library and consists of a long essay by the late Richard Norris Jr. called Some Notes on the Current Debate Regarding Homosexuality and the Place of Homosexuals in the Church. That essay is followed by fourteen responses by theologians who represent a variety of perspectives. I have not finished reading this volume as yet, but believe it would be a good place for anyone who really wants to grapple with the underlying arguments and challenges of the various ‘positions’ that Episcopalians take with regard to homosexuality. Norris begins by challenging the moral question as to whether or not homosexuality is inherently sinful and morally wrong. That is where our vestry began in 2002 as a fundamental question, studying scripture, listening to the testimony of gay members of the vestry, (There were no lesbian members at that time,) reading various views from the social and medical sciences and coming to the conclusion that there is such a thing as a ‘homosexual orientation’ (whether culturally conditioned in some way or not) and that this was a fundamentally new anthropology which demands a revised reading of scripture. This is rather the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested in his correspondence with a Welsh psychiatrist and conservative Christian that was released after the Lambeth Conference concluded this summer.) You can read support for that point of view as well as some of the challenges posed by those who resist such an approach to scripture.

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