An Open Letter To Bishops Who Support The Decisions Of General Convention 2003

I am trying to understand what you are professing and teaching both explicitly and implicitly by your votes at the General Convention, by your public statements and by your participation in the consecration in New Hampshire.

1. It appears to me that you are teaching more than a strategy of pastoral care of homosexual persons by making exceptions to the church’s received norms. It appears to me that you are teaching that homosexuality is part of God’s original plan and order for the creation on the order of God’s creation of humanity as male and female and that this “gift of God” should be celebrated in the sacraments of the church.

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Homosexuality And The American Religion

This was originally published on Titusonenine and picked up and excerpted by both First Things and Christianity Today.

Harold Bloom, an iconoclastic literary critic at Yale, wrote a book published in 1992, with the title “The American Religion.” Using an argument developed by Msgr. Ronald Knox in his magisterial work on “Enthusiasm” and by the Presbyterian theologian Phillip Lee in his book “Against The Protestant Gnostics” Bloom makes a convincing case that the real American Religion that is the unofficial but actual spiritual mythos which gives shape to the American worldview and energy to the American religious quest is some form of Gnosticism. The Gnostics, ancient and contemporary, teach that the true and deepest self is a spark of divinity which has become lost and imprisoned in a corrupt world. The drama of salvation is the drama of rediscovering this secret self and reuniting this spark with the divine one. This is accomplished by access to a secret knowledge or “gnosis” which is unavailable to the uninitiated. Gnostic versions of Christianity have been a problem for the church from the earliest times. The struggle with Gnosticism caused St. Irenaeus (130-200 A.D.) to write his chief work “Adversus omnes Haereses.” Gnosticism is hard to kill and has many contemporary fans including the scholars of the Jesus Seminar who champion the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

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Phillip Turner On The Windsor Report

Nevertheless, it must be noted that many on both the left and the right do not begin their ecclesiological discussions here. Many on the left begin with the church as a prophetic vanguard commissioned to fight within various political systems for the rights of those who are disadvantaged by those systems. Many on the right view the church primarily as the guardian of certain saving truths contained in Holy Scripture and in various creedal or confessional statements. These perspectives, different thought they are, lead those who hold them to similar visions of themselves; namely, as advocates and/or guardians who must, before all else, hold to principle.The authors of WR, though they care mightily about truth and justice, see both as contained within and witnessed to by something more basic; namely, a form of common life that is a sign of God’s will for the entire creation. Thus, they see unity, communion, and holiness of life as providing something like a circle of grace within which sinful people who have been brought into a new form of life by incorporation into Christ can struggle within the conditions of finitude and sin to bring about a faithful witness to God’s purposes for the world. Thus, unity, communion, and holiness of life are constitutive of the calling of the church. Truth and justice (along with love) are the fruits that arise within this circle of grace and so give light to the world. For the authors of WR, the matter of primary importance is for the church within its common life to be characterized by these three distinctive marks. Apart from them, the church loses its assigned character and so fails in its vocation.

Read the whole of this very helpful piece here. [Editor’s note: this link is broken. We apologize for the inconvenience.]

Bishop Tom Wright On Just About Everything

Tonight, in the first of a new series of ‘Belief’, I’m in conversation with the Right Reverend Tom Wright who since 2003 has been Bishop of Durham. Before that, he was successively Dean of Lichfield and Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey. But well before that, he spent the first 20 years of his ordained life in academic positions, including 5 years at McGill University in Canada. He’s written over 30 books, most recently ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God’. Primarily, his scholarly reputation rests on a sustained study of the 2 figures at the heart of the Christian Gospel – Jesus and Paul. He’s a conservative in matters of doctrine, and regarded as the most senior Anglican Evangelical. At a time of much division around the subject of homosexual clergy, he’s had a place on the Eames Commission, deputed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way of reconciling the warring factions within the Anglican communion.

BBC News, Joan Bakewell talks with Bishop Tom Wright.

Brian Cox On The Windsor Report

“I want to start a revolution in the Anglican Communion of conservatives, liberals and moderates who love Jesus, are willing to surrender to God and be transformed, and who are willing to pay the awful price of being reconcilers. It’s time to stand up and be counted. The Windsor Report is the shofar calling us to report for duty.”From an editorial in the current issue of the Living Church. Not currently up on their website.

The Rev. Brian Cox is an Episcopal Priest who is a trained mediator and has been active in a grass roots movement called The New Commandment Taskforce aiming to bring reconciliation to the Episcopal Church.

Summary of the Windsor Report

What follows is my summary of the Windsor Report. Thanks to T19 for putting this up when I first wrote it. I have now read the report three times and my appreciation for the work of the commission has grown with each reading. It is not the chastisement and punishment for which so many hoped, nor is it the vindication of the autonomy of national churches cherished by innovators. It is not a completely adequate theological analysis of the state of the Anglican Communion. It is a document that draws boundaries, makes challenges and clearly articulates the consequences of choices. It is an exercise in theologically informed church diplomacy. The Windsor Report is offered in such a way that it has the possibility of changing the terms of the discussion from a question of civil and ecclesiastical rights for a persecuted minority to the question of the meaning of communion and the proper theological criteria and ecclesiastical process for settling disputed issues. As I watch the responses to the Report, I believe I am seeing a new coalition emerging which includes many people who are variously minded on the gay agenda but don’t want to see their church further damaged by the controversy. It is at least possible that the necessity of responding to this report could allow new voices and new leadership to emerge in the Episcopal Church which while still sympathetic to the gay agenda would not wish to make same sex blessings a church defining or church dividing issue. This I take it is the position of Rowan Willams.

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Homosexuality, The Church, and Truth And Justice For Children

The current debate in the church about homosexuality is often presented as an issue of justice. Clearly the church should be on the side of respect for individual civil rights and upholding the innate dignity of all human beings as made in the image of God. Often this discussion is focused solely on the rights of adults to free expression and to have equal access to the goods of society and to the goods of the church including the controversial issue of access to the sacramental rites of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. In these discussions, the issue of the origins of same sex attraction is often bracketed. It is argued that it matters little whether same sex attraction comes from nature or nurture if homosexual orientation is experienced as a fixed and defining element of an individual’s identity. The justice issue that presents itself is how to treat this identity group with equity.

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