Commentary: Canterbury Endorses Same Sex Unions - by Robin G. Jordan
Is it plain ineptitude, poor judgment and muddleheadness on the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Or is Rowan Williams deliberately bucking the global South primates, resentful of the pressure that they put on him at the last Primates Meeting? William’s actions (and inaction) since that meeting give the appearance of both the former and the latter. First, he commends the Episcopal Church when it agrees to withdraw its representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council but then decides to send them to the next meeting of the ACC as “non-participating observers.” Williams is slow in appointing the Panel of Reference requested by the Primates. Williams join ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold in seeking to focus attention away from the innovations of the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada and to refocus it upon what he views as the mission of the church. When the Secretary General of the ACC announces that any decision by the Anglican Church of Canada regarding the Primates’ request that the Anglican Church of Canada withdraw from the ACC is acceptable to the ACC, Williams is silent. When Williams does finally appoint a chair for the Panel of Reference, he appoints outspoken liberal Australian primate Peter Carnley. Orthodox Episcopalians are appalled by Carnley’s statements about how the Panel of Reference will operate. Williams does not contradict Carnely. Now Williams has joined with other senior bishops of the Church of England in drafting a proposal that would permit gay clergy in the Church of England to enter into civil unions under the United Kingdom’s new Civil Partnerships Act. “Civil partnership” is in everything except name gay marriage.
Archbishop Williams’ latest actions belong in the same category with his re-release of a collection of essays espousing gay unions at the time he was seeking to publicly assure orthodox Anglicans that he supported Biblical teaching about marriage and human sexuality, his comparison of God with a babbling infant struggling to communicate, his approval of the appointment of controversial gay activist Jeffery Johns as the Bishop of Reading, and his snubbing of the African bishops. They do not cause orthodox Anglicans to believe him or trust him. With the Primates having requested ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council as a result of their theological and moral innovations and the ACC at the request of the Primates conducting a hearing into the rationale behind the innovations of the North American churches in June, the proposal of senior bishops of the Church of England to permit gay clergy in that church to “marry” is bound to complicate matters. It definitely sends the wrong message to liberals in the ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada
If the Church of England adopts this proposal, it is quite reasonable for the Primates in extraordinary meeting to call for the withdrawal of the Church of England from the Anglican Consultative Council and for the conduct of a hearing into its rationale for adopting the proposal. While the Church of England may be the mother church of the other provinces of the Anglican Communion, this fact of history does not grant it privileged status.
The latest actions of Rowan Williams suggest that he and the senior English bishops putting forward this proposal are either out of touch with reality, oblivious to how Anglicans around the world will react to the proposal and their support for it. Or they hold their fellow Anglicans in utter contempt. The Windsor Report urged the Anglican provinces not to initiate innovations in doctrine and practice without first consulting the other provinces. Yet here are bishops of the Church of England proposing what can be described only as an innovation comparable to blessing same sex unions and consecrating a bishop involved in sexual activity outside of marriage. Do they really think that requiring gay clergy entering into civil unions to abstain from sexual activity will make this proposal any more acceptable to God or palatable to orthodox Anglicans? Permitting clergy to formalize a homosexual relationship with a civil union is the same as sanctioning such sinful relationships. It is not necessary for a same sex couple to engage in sexual activity in order for the relationship to be sinful in God’s eyes. Jesus equates the thought with the deed. The man who experiences sexual desire for his neighbor’s wife commits adultery with her in his heart. He need not act upon that desire.
Permitting gay clergy to “marry” a same sex partner sends a very confusing message not only to the clergy themselves but also to the laity of the Church of England. It adds to the confusion that the Church of England has already created by saying that clergy should not engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex while taking a more tolerant attitude toward homosexual activity among laity. Jesus recognized that humans are prone to sin. At the same time he singled out for hard words those who cause others to sin. With this proposal senior bishops of the Church of England, Williams among them, are tempting both clergy and laity to sin.
William’s latest actions thrust to the fore again the question as to whether the Archbishop of Canterbury should retain the role of lead primate of the Anglican Communion and that of an instrument of Anglican unity. The appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury is a political one. The Church of England is an established church. The Archbishop of Canterbury is nominated by the British Prime Minister. The Archbishop is not selected to meet the needs of the Church of England or the Anglican Communion. He is chosen to serve the political, social and economic agenda of the party in power.
Rather than giving more authority to the Archbishop of Canterbury as proposed in the Windsor Report, the provinces of the Anglican Communion would do well to consider the following reforms:
(1) The lead primate of the Anglican Communion should be elected by the Council of Primates from its members to serve for a ten-year term. He would be eligible for reelection to a second term.
(2) The Archbishop of Canterbury would sit on the Council of Primates but only as a primate among fellow primates and not as lead primate by virtue of his see.
(3) Application for membership in the Anglican Communion would be made to the Council of Primates and membership in the Anglican Communion would require the approval of that body.
(4) Members of the Anglican Communion would be in communion not with the See of Canterbury but with the Council of Primates and through that body with the Anglican Communion.
(5) A basic requirement of membership in the Anglican Communion would be that the member church must in practice, that is, in its working theology, conform to the teaching of the Bible, the teaching of the Apostolic, Nicene, and Anathasian Creeds, such teaching of the first seven general councils of the undivided church, that is agreeable with Scripture, and the teaching of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
(6) The Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council would be nominated by the lead primate and appointed with the approval of the Council of Primates.
(7) A conference of Anglican bishops would be held every ten years. The Council of Primates would decide where that conference would be held and would issue invitations to that conference.
These reforms would give to the Council of Primates authority to discipline member churches of the Anglican Communion, suspending a province and if necessary expelling it, if it failed to comply with the basic requirements of membership in the Anglican Communion. The Council of Primates could appoint a Panel of Reference with teeth since it would be reporting to the Primates and could ask them to impose sanctions on provinces that violate the basic requirements of membership by failing to protect orthodox clergy and congregations from heretical bishops.
Will the day come when orthodox clergy and congregations will be forced not only to remove the signs identifying their church with the Episcopal Church USA but also the Anglican Communion? Let us hope not. Let us pray that wiser heads will prevail.
Arctic Anglicans to reject same-sex unions
[ CBC North] June 1, 2005--The Anglican Diocese of the Arctic will vote on a motion this week that could officially declare its opposition to same sex-marriages and unions.
Gay Marriage Gets North Country Nod
[The Caledonian-Record] June 1, 2005--The same-sex marriage debate moved to the most conservative region of New Hampshire Tuesday.
Conference will gather conservative voices
[Anglican Journal] June 1, 2005--Anglican Essentials Canada, an 11-year-old coalition that has become the predominant voice for conservatives disturbed with more-liberal church views on homosexuality, is planning a major conference this month in Toronto.
Canadians to sit on sidelines of meeting - Will not 'participate fully' at ACC
[Anglican Journal] June 1, 2005--Council of General Synod (CoGS) has instructed the Anglican Church of Canada’s representatives to “attend but not participate fully” in the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) scheduled in Nottingham, England next month.
Council eyes details of 'consultation'
[Anglican Journal] June 1, 2005--From practical considerations (where to sit) to strategic (who should go), Council of General Synod (CoGS) members pondered how the Anglican Church of Canada could put its best foot forward when it appears before the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham this month.
Why can't we simply say what we mean?
[Anglican Journal] June 1, 2005-- Too often in the Anglican church, confusion reigns. Case in point: asked by the primates of the Anglican Communion in a communiqué last February to “voluntarily withdraw” its members from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), the Council of General Synod (CoGS) instead decided that the Canadians should “attend but not participate” in a meeting next month in Nottingham, England.
Its decision was nearly identical to that of the Episcopal Church in the United States, which was also asked to withdraw its members for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. Both North American churches appear to believe they have bowed to the primates’ request, but early signs are that the hardline primates and others – those who had hoped for a suspension of the two churches from the worldwide Communion – see the response as a sidestepping of their wishes.
N.H. gay marriage commission takes testimony in Littleton
[Foster's Online] June 1, 2005--Gay marriage commissioners made their first group foray outside the state capital Tuesday to ask the public whether and how same sex couples should be recognized in New Hampshire; the answers they received tilted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing civil unions and marriage.
Rector denies uniqueness of Christ's salvation message for humanity
[Virtue Online] June 1, 2005--The Rector Emeritus of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California told hundreds of Episcopalians at Washington's National Cathedral recently that he could no longer think about Jesus as the only way to God and to a saving faith.
Church cuts Episcopal affiliation
[Virtue Online] May 31, 2005--Nearly two years after the Episcopal Church USA elected a gay bishop in New Hampshire, members of a south Tulsa Episcopal church have decided to withdraw from the denomination.The leadership of Church of the Holy Spirit Episcopal met with Oklahoma Bishop Robert Moody last week to discuss details of the withdrawal.A congregational meeting was held Sunday to explain the situation to members.
Fleeing the Madhouse
[Virtue Online] June 1, 2005--Well over a year ago, Ephraim Radner declared, "I am myself convinced that we are not really dealing simply with 'error' and 'false teaching' within ECUSA. Rather, we are dealing with something akin to madness." I can think of no better diagnosis of the present Episcopal Church than that offered by Dr. Radner-madness! What else can explain a church that abandons its foundational theological principles and giddily jumps off the ecclesiastical cliff in an act of spiritual and institutional suicide.
Agenda Released for Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in England
[Christianity Today, UK] June 1, 2005--The 13th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting will be held at the University of Nottingham, England from 18-28 June. The ten-day conference, where bishops, priests and lay people from all 38 Anglican Provinces across the world gather, is expected to highlight the ongoing controversy over homosexuality in the Church. Details of the meeting were disclosed in a letter from the ACC yesterday.
Articles from Baptist Press News
Articles from ChristianityToday.com
Articles from Christianity Today, UK
Articles from Crosswalk.com (Scroll down to "News and Culture")
Articles from LifeSite.net
Articles from sydneyanglicans.net
Articles from The Christian Post