Thursday, 2 July 2015

And the clocks were striking thirteen

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling - in what must be the apotheosis of judicial activism - the Episcopal Church of the USA at its General Convention this week has voted to change its canons so as to permit the 'marriage' of same-sex couples and to authorise experimental liturgies in order to make this a reality (well, you know what I mean ... at least a sociological reality) See George Conger's article in the Washington Post [here] which does much to explain the politics and the diocesan geography of it.
Why should this be of concern to those of us on this side of the Atlantic? We all know, at least we've been told laughingly for at least a generation, if not more,  by those - it turns out -  with very considerable axes to grind and lengthy agendas to pursue, that the cultural context of TEC is so very different from that of our own.

Well, of course, it is now crystal clear that it isn't. Following the British State's own, at least legislative,  re-definition of what we must now call the law of civil marriage, the Church of England is already engaged in 'facilitated discussions' on what has become for western Anglicans this most thorny and divisive of all issues. In the land of my fathers, the bishops of the Church in Wales are just completing a consultation exercise on same-sex marriages in church and, the vote of the Diocese of St David's notwithstanding, recent 'consultations' in Wales [there's an interesting take on one such here] have not led us to expect anything like an outcome consonant with the tenor of the meetings held, much less with either Scripture or apostolic tradition, or for that matter honour or previous solemn undertakings.

Of course, the matter may very well be somewhat 'academic' for some of us who are at present hanging on by our fingertips, or maybe clutching at odd clumps of grass as we slide inexorably into the void; rumour has it that the financial and 'membership' crisis now biting deep into the resources of the Province may well be used as an excuse to exclude (de facto, of course)  from any future exercise of priestly ministry in the new-look 'ministry areas' those who remain opposed in any meaningful way to the ordination of women. Perhaps, if I'm feeling brave,  more of that at a later stage....

'The Bible and other rubbish' is the Revd Dr Peter Mullen's take on the situation. As we might expect it's trenchant and doesn't pull any punches. We may not necessarily find the tone particularly congenial, we've become so fearful of adverse reaction from family, friends and the wider society where even reasoned discussion of this has become anathematised, or perhaps 'rainbow-ised'; but having said that, it's hard to disagree with the content - particularly, as he points out, given the blind alley of erastianism, and social conformity at all costs, into which the Church has turned: 
"The house of bishops in the Episcopalian Church of the USA  has voted to alter its canons to remove the stipulation that marriage must be between a man and a woman. By this ECUSA has repudiated biblical teaching and indeed the 2000 years old doctrines of the church. The scriptural definition, which is also an injunction – what in better days we called a commandment – “A man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife” is thus rendered null and void. The Bible says, “Male and female created He them.” Don’t be ridiculous! Don’t be so unprogressed. The Bible was in the wrong for millennia. Thank goodness – do I really mean goodness? – that the liberated lights of ECUSA have now come to put things right.Nowadays we know that male and female are only social constructs. You are what you say you are. You can do whatever you want to do. And to hell with both the biological evidence and the authority of scripture. 
Well, that’s all happening in America, so it doesn’t affect us, does it? But it does, because the Church of England and ECUSA are in communion. So I suppose the Archbishop of Canterbury is very upset and angry over ECUSA’s apostasy. Surely the Archbishop will leap to defend the age-old biblical teaching and denounce this un-Christian innovation? I can just hear him saying, “What you have done is an abomination and contrary to the word of God.” 
Actually, I have just read  Dr Welby’s official response on the Church of England website. He says, “We must respect the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context,” 
That’s socking it to them Justin! Attaboy – you tell ‘em! There’s leadership for you. There’s the prophetic word of judgement from the Primate of All England.
I bet the prophet Isaiah himself wished he had coined that ringing condemnation: “…address issues appropriate to its own context.” That would really have made the hearts of the heathen quake.   
In truth, what we are hearing in this latest Archiepiscopal pronouncement is only confirmation of the fact that, as a moral and spiritual authority – you might say as a church – the C. of E. has resigned. Its long history of speaking truth to power and of being the conscience of the nation is finished. The bishops, the clergy and the General Synod now exist only to endorse the rapidly-changing nostrums of secular society. Not only is this the way things are, it is, according to Welby’s predecessor Rowan Williams, the way things ought to be. In one of his last sermons before he retired, Williams told us, “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.”....  "

2 comments:

  1. God bless you, Michael Gollop!

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  2. At what stage do traditional anglicans realise that their church is no longer catholic. The pretense of catholic and reformed surely is over and you must return to where you were hewn

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