Canterbury, you’ve missed the point!

Glenn Davies

You may have read my post this morning on the understanding of the term 'historic episcopate' in the ACNA constitution. Archbishop Rowan Williams' Reflections on the 2009 TEC General Convention has so incensed me that I am compelled to respond with a second post for today.

It seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury has lost the plot, when he claims that resolutions D025 and C056 "do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria, if the wording is studied carefully". It is bad enough when the Americans obfuscate with ambiguous language, but it is a travesty of singular proportion when the leading Primate of the Anglican Communion should not only be beguiled by the subtleties of the TEC resolutions but create his own mischief with reckless indifference to the main issue at hand.

Apart from the plain reading of the text of the resolution D025, to which I referred last fortnight, my immediate concern is his attempt to consider that the whole row over sexuality can be reduced to concerns about the blessing of same-sex unions and, by extension, the ordination of such persons in same-sex unions.

[T]he issue is.about whether the church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage. (§6)

No so m'lord!  The row is about the authority of Scripture which declares the practice of homosexuality to be a sin. Resolution 1.10 (1998 Lambeth Conference) rejected "homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture". The resolution "recognises that there are members of the Church who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation…seeking.
pastoral care, moral direction of the Church and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of their relationships". The clear implication is that these are not practising homosexuals, but "believing and faithful persons""”they believe in the teaching of Scripture and they are faithful to it. The opposition to the blessing of same-sex unions is that such an enterprise would be the blessing of sin, or what Jim Packer has called the 'sanctification of sin'.

However, listen to the twisting of this resolution by Archbishop Rowan:

[I]t needs to be made absolutely clear that, on the basis of repeated statements at the highest level of the Communion's life, no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the body of Christ.

(§5, emphasis added)

LGBT persons are sexually active lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. They do not represent faithful Christians who may experience homosexual orientation but commit themselves to abstain from fulfilling such desires and repent when they fall short of that commitment. It is practising homosexuals whom the apostle Paul describes as among the unrighteous, who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9-11). I prefer to stand with the apostle than with the Archbishop of Canterbury and I consider I would not be doing the Lord's business if I did not consider it my business to warn those who disobey God's word on this, or any other matter affecting salvation, that they are in grave peril and without repentance cannot be considered members of the body of Christ.

PHOTO: Steve Punter