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PLF-Theologically Rational?

Updated: Oct 24, 2023



The "Living in Love and Faith" papers for General Synod in November describe how “implementing” the “February motion” “needed a clear theological rationale that respects both [the body of significant theological work done throughout the LLF process] and where we find ourselves as a Church.”

An ex post facto rationale for something so important might be seen in itself as a bit odd, but nonetheless, here it is - the “rationale” in summary,

“Given where we are, an argument is being made for a theological rationale of ‘pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty’. This is based on the trajectory of pastoral provision which already exists within our Church and tradition, which does not change doctrine in any essential matter but changes our practical pastoral response and the way we relate within the Church and outwards to the world”.

The “Theological Rationale” from which this summary is taken (and which in total runs to 22 closely typed pages) appeals, in part, to Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

It points out how the Resolution condemns “marital rape” alongside, “…homophobia and trivialisation and commercialisation of sex” and how it,

“Famously calls the Communion to ‘condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex’”.

These statements are, said to be, part of,

“Other changes [which] are more subtle, yet significant, and reveal a pattern of gradual evolution that is rooted in successive statements and reports. In particular, teaching on marriage has changed, in ways that do not always or necessarily affect the canons or liturgical texts, but nevertheless significantly affect the outworking of the doctrine in pastoral practice. This points to the complexity of speaking of ‘change’ in the abstract, and back to the way in which the PLF were clearly designed to effect no change to either the canons or liturgical texts, or, to use the legal phrase, ‘in any essential matter’.”

Apparently, I.10, as quoted above, is also part of,

“A changing language in speaking of LGBTQI+ Christians” which “…carries on subsequently, and finds itself expressed most fully in the LLF call to repentance for the way the church has treated LGBTQI+ people”.

The document then includes a quotation from the report annexed to the Resolution,

“The 1998 Lambeth Conference Report expanded on this: ‘Clearly some expressions of sexuality are inherently contrary to the Christian way and are sinful. Such unacceptable expression of sexuality include promiscuity, prostitution, incest, pornography, paedophilia, predatory sexual behaviour, and sadomasochism (all of which may be heterosexual and homosexual), adultery, violence against wives, and female circumcision. From a Christian perspective these forms of sexual expression remain sinful in any context. We are particularly concerned about the pressures on young people to engage in sexual activity at an early age, and we urge our Churches to teach the virtue of abstinence.”

According to the “Theological Rationale”, this is one of the things that supports the contention that,

“…the current proposal [of the House of Bishops on LLF] sits within a trajectory of the increasing recognition that pastoral responses to changing circumstances and complicated pastoral realities are possible, and need not represent a fundamental change to our doctrine of marriage, but are grace based responses that enable the people of God to live in a complex world and find ways to grow in faith, hope and love.”

The problem is that, provided the quotes are sufficiently selective, pretty much anything could be made to support such a “trajectory” and demonstrate that the proposals “need not represent a fundamental change to our doctrine of marriage”. And that is precisely what has been done here.

The reference to, “…homophobia and trivialisation and commercialisation of sex” is a quotation from paragraph (d) of I.10, the whole of which reads,

“[The Conference] while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex” (emphasis added).

What the bishops said has simply been filleted to a particular end.

In being able to make its assertions, the “Theological Rationale” has to ignore almost all of I.10 altogether, despite the fact that it remains the expression of the mind of the Communion on the “theology” of blessing same-sex relationships - the very subject of the document.

In particular, it makes no reference to the core of the Resolution, that the Conference,

1. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, andbelieves that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage

e) cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions

All that is simply absent from the whole document. Even if he dislikes and finesses I.10, even Justin Welby found himself unable to simply ignore it at last year's Lambeth Conference.

Just as absent is the fact that, while there is much disagreement in the 1998 report, it concludes in this agreed way,

“Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than our class race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as "a" homosexual or "a" hetrosexual; therefore there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.”

Nor does the “Theological Rationale” acknowledge that the report states,

“It appears that the opinion of the majority of bishops is not prepared to bless same sex unions or to ordain active homosexuals. Furthermore many believe that there should be a moratorium on such practices”

And that majority view then prevailed and found expression in the Resolution itself.

Since 1998 through Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon) and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA), the Communion has repeatedly reaffirmed 1.10 as expressing its “theological” understanding of the proper expression of human sexuality. Neither that nor that both have done so again just this year receives any mention in the “Theological Rationale”

The conclusions drawn from I.10 in the “Rationale” will not be recognisable to any supporter of it in Gafcon or the GSFA. Moreover, the “Rationale” as adopted is, by misrepresentation, a complete, argued repudiation of the calls by the Primates of Gafcon and GSFA for the Church of England to repent and not take this step.

How anyone holding to the traditional understanding of human sexual relationships as reflected in global position is expected to have any respect for the contents of a document produced by such means is impossible to understand.

For the House of Bishops to put their names to a “Theological Rationale” for the Church of England that doesn’t merely ignore the understanding and asserted position of global Anglicanism but actively distorts it to its own ends demonstrates extraordinary hubris. To do so in the face of the clear statements of Gafcon and the GSFA can only be, if it were possible, a further deep “tear in the fabric of the Communion”

With thanks to Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash for the image

 

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2 comentarios


Invitado
09 nov 2023

“Our sexual affections can no more define who we are than our class race or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is no such thing as "a" homosexual or "a" hetrosexual; therefore there are human beings, male and female, called to redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation.”

I understand that this is a quote, but given that you are quoting it in support of your position, can I ask why we cannot add gender to the list of characteristics that ‘can no more define who we are’, and therefore say that ‘at the deepest ontological level there is no such thing as…

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Invitado
03 nov 2023

The so-called Theological Rationale just illustrates the increasingly bullying nature of the Archbishops and many of those who support them. They want to conform to the world, rather than seek to transform the world.


To quote Lambeth 1.10 as a reason for turning our backs on God's teaching from at least the time of Abraham when, as the writer highlights, 1.10 states that "[The Conference] while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture ,..." is breathtaking, even by the standards of the current Archbishops.


I am ashamed to call myself an Anglican at the moment, even though the majority of the global Anglican Communion has not been seduced by this Satanic intervention into the Church of England. If this is…

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