The roots of the Anglican communion (and therefore the Episcopal Church) are so intertwined with the State that the inevitable result is the kind of unbiblical pseudo-theology presently on exhibition.
When Theologians are replaced by politicians (and worse, when theologians become politicians, more concerned with what’s politically feasible than theologically appropriate) then the only thing left is a ‘church’ in name only: a group cut loose from any sensible biblical mooring or theological propriety. Exhibit A-
The Episcopal Church has approved a blessing for same-sex couples, becoming the first major denomination to do so. Bishops at the church’s general convention in Indianapolis voted 111-41, with three abstentions, in favor of using a provisional rite for gay couples for the next three years, reports the AP. The convention also approved new measures to prevent discrimination against transgendered clergy candidates and church members. The rite, called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” includes a clause stating that nobody in the church will be forced to perform the ceremony. Dissenting bishops said the blessing would put the church “out of the Christian mainstream,” but Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde argued that it is needed to honor “lifelong same-sex couples” who “have served Christ and Christ’s mission in ways incalculable to measure.”
What God doesn’t join together, man has no business doing so.
Diarmaid writes in the Guardian–
Something very significant in the history of the Church of England happened on Saturday. An absolute majority of dioceses in the Church of England, debating diocese by diocese, voted down a pernicious scheme called the Anglican Covenant. This was an effort to increase the power of centralising bureaucracy throughout the worldwide Anglican communion. However much the promoters denied it, the principal aim was to discipline Anglican churches in the United States and Canada, which had the gall to think for themselves and, after much prayer and discussion, to treat gay people just like anybody else.
Diocesan synods voted against the covenant, often in the face of great pressure from the vast majority of English bishops, who frequently made sure that the case for the covenant dominated proceedings. The bishops also exerted a certain amount of emotional blackmail, suggesting that if the scheme didn’t pass, it would be very upsetting for the archbishop of Canterbury (cue for synod members to watch a podcast from said archbishop, looking sad even while commending the covenant).
Well, it didn’t work, and now those particular bishops need to consider their position, as the saying goes. Principally, they need to consider a killer statistic: as the voting has taken place in the dioceses (and there are still a few to go), the pattern has been consistent. Around 80% of the bishops have voted in favour of the covenant, but the clergy and laity votes have split around 50-50 for and against, with votes against nudging ahead among the clergy. That suggests an episcopate that is seriously out of touch, not just with the nation as a whole (we knew that already), but even with faithful Anglican churchgoers and clergy in England.
Read the rest. I admire Prof. MacCulloch immensely. I just happen to disagree with him on this issue (as everyone who comes here with any regularity should know).
The BBC reports
The Church of England cannot sign up to a plan aimed at preventing the global Anglican Church from splitting up after half its dioceses voted against it. The Archbishop of Canterbury backed the Anglican Covenant in a bid to ensure divisive issues – such as gay bishops – did not cause the Communion to split. The Lincoln diocese has become the 22nd of 44 CofE dioceses to reject the plan. The covenant had already been rejected by conservative global Church leaders, whom it was intended to placate.
The idea of a covenant grew out of fears that disagreements over the gay issue between different provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion would lead to irreconcilable splits in the Church. The arguments centred on the appointment of bishops in non-celibate gay relationships, and the blessing of same-sex unions, in Anglican churches in the US and Canada. Some provinces in Africa, Latin America and Asia vehemently condemned these developments.
So in short the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglicans have seen to it that the Anglican Communion is now permanently and irrevocably fractured. The tyranny of the tiny minority strikes again.
Not everyone called to the priesthood is also called to celibacy, suggests Prof. MacCulloch in an op-ed for the Guardian.
Christians outside the Roman Catholic church, and very many inside, can see what a nonsense compulsory clerical celibacy is. Its effect is often malign, producing loneliness, alcoholism and, at worst, efforts at emotional compensation through irresponsible exercise of clerical power and unprincipled sexual activity. Critics say there is nothing wrong with celibacy as such; it’s a fine vocation. But to mix up the vocation of celibacy with that of priesthood, tying them unavoidably together, is a category mistake, and it’s time for the Church of Rome to sort it out. The Church of England and the rest of the Protestant world did this half a millennium ago, and the effects on Protestant Christianity have been unmistakably good.
And then he migrates from this general truth to a specific application concerning gay clerical celibacy.
Let Anglicans now just pause before patting themselves on the back too heartily, for the rectory drawing room houses a pachyderm. The Anglican communion has itself imposed compulsory celibacy on a large section of its clergy: those who recognise they are predominantly gay in sexual orientation. And surprise, surprise, many of the malign effects detectable in the celibate Catholic priesthood are equally detectable in this clergy group, plus often an equally malign problem: many gay clergy have conformed to peer pressure and entered a heterosexual marriage, thus endangering the happiness of not just one but at least two people and living out all sorts of lies alongside a ministry which is supposed to be characterised by truthfulness and integrity.
Do read the whole. Wherever you stand on the issue (and you probably know where I do), MacCulloch’s piece is provocative.
A longtime priest at one of the country’s largest and most prominent conservative Anglican churches has been fired for repeatedly using a church computer to surf for pornography, an official at the Fairfax City church said. The Rev. Marshall Brown was associate rector at Truro Church, whose clergy members helped lead 14 Virginia parishes to break away from the Episcopal Church after the 2003 election of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop.
Rev. Brown probably never bothered to take the beam out of his own eye. Nevertheless, the fact that he was a pervert doesn’t change the fact that what he objected to was also a perversion. Even the devil can tell the truth once in a while; even a monkey can type a real word every now and then.