Saturday, 21 November 2009

Rowan's Roman Bluff

For a man hardly renowned for his robustness, the recent speech given in Rome by the Archbishop of Canterbury was remarkably robust. Of course, it was given partly in response to the announcement from Rome on October 20th of effectively a ‘safe haven’ for Anglicans disenchanted by the policies of the Church over which Rowan Williams presides. Few will forget his somewhat glum and deflated appearance at the press conference called for that purpose, which must have been an intensely difficult and embarrassing moment for him.
Could it be that the man has feelings just like the rest of us, and that his visit to Rome came as a personal opportunity to put a few things straight? Despite its donnish language, there are elements of the speech which are decidedly ‘in Rome’s face’, and some will welcome this.
Yet in the present climate, it is necessary to look at any such speech not only in terms of how it challenges Rome, but how it accords with the nature and doctrine of the Church of England. And here, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is of as little comfort to the Anglican as it is to the Roman orthodox.
Williams begins with a claim that there has been real ecumenical progress and convergence. Indeed, his theme throughout is that Rome and Canterbury are so close as to be almost touching. What, then, is keeping them apart? He responds that there are three key issues, whose significance must therefore be considered.
... the major question that remains is whether in the light of that depth of agreement the issues that still divide us have the same weight — issues about authority in the Church, about primacy (especially the unique position of the pope), and the relations between the local churches and the universal church in making decisions (about matters like the ordination of women, for instance).
Over against these issues, there is substantial agreement on what Williams feels are the things which really matter. And this is not just a question of theorising. The life of the Church is suffering whilst we delay:
When so very much agreement has been firmly established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it really justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?
But to show the difference between ‘first order’ and ‘second order’ issues, we must understand the nature of the Church itself. And this, Williams argues, mut be defined ‘theologically’, not ‘institutionally’, not set up by divine command establishing a ‘chain of command’ but ‘emerging’, as it were, from the nature of God and the incarnation.
Briefly, but importantly, Williams sums up the underlying theology of the Church as being that God is a Trinitarian community, the incarnation opens up the possibility of people being drawn into this community and the Spirit makes this actual. The Church is then constituted by a ‘filial’, godward, relationship and ‘communal’, human, relationships.
So, regarding the sacraments there is a substantial, if not always acknowledged, overlap:
The whole discussion of sacramental life is centred upon how the believer is established in filial communion through the act of the triune God; there is little to suggest that outside the Roman fold there is any ambiguity over this priority of the divine act, or any separation between the act of God in salvation and a purely or predominantly human activity of recalling or expressing that act through human practices. (Emphasis added.)
In the light of this understanding, which Williams clearly believes should be a matter of common agreement, he argues that current ecumenical debate is not really about the essential shape of the Church but “about where the fullest realisation of communion is to be found.” So we return to his three key issues three key issues, on which he poses a series of questions. On authority and the magisterium:
Is there a mechanism in the Church that has the clear right to determine for all where the limits of Christian identity might be found?
On primacy:
Is the integrity of the Church ultimately dependent on a single identifiable ministry of unity to which all local ministries are accountable?
On the universal Church:
Is it an entity from which local churches derive their life, or is it the perfect mutuality of relationship between local churches – or indeed as the mysterious presence of the whole in each specific community?
For Williams these are, it seems, the remaining stumbling blocks in the way of fuller ecumenical recognition. Yet his answers in each of these areas are confusing. On authority, he speaks of how responsibility is distributed amongst “the communion of the baptised”. But on reaching agreement, he says simply that we have different ways of expressing this.
On primacy he says, starkly, there are two options regarding the present papal model: either it is essential, or it is not ‘fit for purpose’. Yet in its place he offers“a recognition of a primatial ministry” that is “not absolutely bound to a view of primacy as a centralized juridical office”, and appeals to the Anglican covenant as an example of communities bound by what he refers to earlier as “terms of lasting loyalty, shared theological method and devotional ethos.”
On the ‘local’ and the ‘universal’, he argues that, “the church is local community gathered around the bishop or his representative for eucharistic worship not as a portion of some greater whole but as itself the whole,” whilst nevertheless recognizing it exists in connection with the other parts. Thus,
... the question here becomes one about what criteria help us establish that the same Catholic life is going on in diverse communities.
To this, he poses a further question:
The facts of corporate reading of Scripture, obedience to the Lord’s commands to baptise and make eucharist, shared understanding of the shape and the disciplines of what we have called filial holiness — can these be utilised as they stand or do we need a further test — visible communion, say, with a universal primate?
The answer lies in decision making processes — say, for example, on the ordination of women. And on this, Williams poses a direct question to Rome:
... the challenge to recent Roman Catholic thinking on this would have to be: in what way does the prohibition against ordaining women so ‘enhance the life of communion’, reinforcing the essential character of filial and communal holiness [the ‘godward’ and ‘human’ elements] as set out in Scripture and tradition and ecumenical agreement, that its breach would compromise the purposes of the Church as so defined [in terms of reading Scripture, baptism and eucharist]?
Williams answers with a further question, but appeals to Anglican experience:
Even if there remains uncertainty in the minds of some about the rightness of ordaining women, is there a way of recognising that somehow the corporate exercise of a Catholic and evangelical ministry remains intact even when there is dispute about the standing of female individuals? In terms of the relation of local to universal, what we are saying here is that a degree of recognizability of ‘the same Catholic thing’ has survived: Anglican provinces ordaining women to some or all of the three orders have not become so obviously diverse in their understanding of filial holiness and sacramental transformation that they cannot act together, serve one another and allow some real collaboration.
So far, the structure of Williams’ argument is clear: we are almost at full, ecumenical, agreement. Fundamentally, we agree on the shape of the Church and the nature of its sacramental life. We are kept apart only on what are apparently second-order issues, and within Anglicanism itself, we have found a way to organize our life which can overcome our own internal tensions. But then, still on this issue of women’s ordination, he becomes completely unrealistic, if not downright disingenuous:
It is this sort of thinking that has allowed Anglicans until recently to maintain a degree of undoubtedly impaired communion among themselves, despite the sharpness of the division over this matter. It is part of the rationale of supplementary episcopal oversight as practised in the English provinces, and it may yet be of help in securing the place of those who will not be able to accept the episcopal ministry of women. There can be no doubt, though, that the situation of damaged communion will become more acute with the inability of bishops within the same college to recognise one another’s ministry in the full sense. Yet, in what is still formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception, is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life and mutual acknowledgement of integrity might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene?
The problem, of course, is with the phrase ‘until recently’. For what Williams presents as a successful balancing act, which might be “a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene” is, of course, likely to come crashing down, and is precisely the reason Rome acted in the way it did via the offer of the Personal Ordinariate.
Moreover, it is surely exactly the experience of the Church of England at this point which demonstrates it is not the way to go. Extraordinarily, Williams says that this is “still formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception”. Yet as we know, the decision making processes of the Church of England mean that process has been pushed forward by facts on the ground —not least the avoidance of consecrating traditionalist bishops —and is now dominated by a ‘kill everybody’ mentality on the part of the pro-women’s ordination lobby.
Like the desperately-unhappy John and Mary O’Leary in Father Ted, he seems to hope that a smiling face will conceal our domestic conflicts from the visiting priest. Yet if there is deceit, it is one which Williams himself seems to believe, for he asks, in apparent seriousness,
At what point do we have to recognise that surviving institutional and even canonical separations or incompatibilities are overtaken by the authoritative direction of genuinely theological consensus, so that they [the divisions] can survive only by appealing to the ghost of ecclesiological positivism?
“Are we missing something?” he seems to be saying, “Or are we just waiting to clear up some trivial difficulties between Rome and Canterbury in the way that the Anglican communion is already doing so successfully?”
All I have been attempting to say here is that the ecumenical glass is genuinely half-full – and then to ask about the character of the unfinished business between us. For many of us who are not Roman Catholics, the question we want to put, in a grateful and fraternal spirit, is whether this unfinished business is as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain. And if it isn’t, can we all allow ourselves to be challenged to address the outstanding issues with the same methodological assumptions and the same overall spiritual and sacramental vision that has brought us thus far?
And at this point, the reader may wish to pause for breath, for it is nothing if not a bold take on the ecumenical venture and on the issues which have divided us for the last 450 years.
Yet if we simply survey it from a confessionally Anglican perspective, it is a vision which raises as many questions for Anglicans as it must for ecumenists.
To begin with, is Williams right in his claims regarding what truly divides the Church of England from the Church of Rome? Is it our understanding of the nature and function of the Church, or is it rather, as it was when we divided, still the nature of grace and our response to it, and in connection with that, that nature of sacrament and the ‘sacramental’ priesthood?
A glance through the Anglican formularies would suggest it is still the latter. And the test of this will surely be the liturgical traditions which Anglicans will be allowed to carry over into the Personal Ordinariate. Will this include the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, rubrics and all, or will it only allow the non-sacramental services? And what about the requirement that the standard of belief will be set by the Roman Catechism? One only has to look at the sections on justification and grace to know that Catholic and Protestant are still as deeply divided as ever on this subject, where the Church of England is committed via Article XI to justification by “faith only”.
Again, Williams’ doctrine of the Church, whilst couched in terms of episcopal and sacramental significance that would appeal to many in the Anglican hierarchy, is a long way from Article XIX’s understanding of the Word of God preached as being fundamental to the Church’s nature.
And aside from all this, one must ask why, if the ordination of women and their consecration as bishops are second-order issues which we are so effectively resolving, they generate so much heat and so much potential for real division. Why, if they represent a ‘glass half full’, are so many saying that there must finally be a ‘like it or lump it’ acceptance by those who, as Williams puts it, are still possessed of some ‘uncertainty’ on the subject?
For all its robustness of tone, Williams speech represents what happens when a ‘fuzzy’ theology encounters institutionalized clarity. His appeal, in the end, relies on the acceptance of the same fuzziness. But perhaps because this is its intellectual centre, it seems blind to its own inherent contradictions. Not only is it fundamentally un-Anglican in key areas, it is not even a reflection of the realities on the ground, in the parishes, in the dioceses and in the decision-making bodies of our own national church.
It is a bold try. But Williams does not have the substance behind him to back it up.
John Richardson
21 November 2009
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  1. I think Dr. Williams hit the nail on the head as he described the Ordinariate as “an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some”. So who are these 'some'?

    Well it's hardly the writers of recent articles in the Times or the Independent. Nor is it the atheists who have denounced the Ordinariate as a 'power-grab' and who have clearly revealed themselves to be 'Protestant' atheists.

    I am fascinated how the debate has been repeatedly shaped by the words 'liberal' and 'conservative', a division that hardly existed 200 years ago. This injection of political rhetoric is a sad indicator of the coverage which religious issues get in the secular press.

    There has hardly been a mention about truth, or the Truth, writ large. Indeed the Ordinariate is the imaginative pastoral solution to those Anglicans who believe that the Truth is not on the path trodden by the leadership of CoE. Without the last fifty years of ecumenical dialogue such a solution would not have been possible. This fruitful outcome lays the foundation for further unity - not schism - while still allowing the different faiths of both Dr. Williams and of Pope Benedict to flourish and embrace the consistency of their respective starting points.

  2. Thank you, John, for another outstanding analysis! My question in response is whether the main purpose of being church is to stand for propositions of theology and ecclesiology; or to be in communion with one another in Christ even with lively disagreement among us. If it is the former then ++R has let the Anglican Communion, to say nothing of the C of E, down. But what if is the latter? What if God is more concerned for a united body of Christ on earth than adherence to the 39 articles? If so, then the ABC has been brilliant!

  3. I would side with the articles on that equation...

  4. The articles represent the theological foundation of the C of E. My understanding is that they were formulated to define exactly what the English reformers believed were the central truths of the Christian religion, and specifically to demarcate the differences between the the C of E and the theology of the Roman church, which they considered to contain grievous errors. The reformers clearly didn't consider these matters to be of secondary importance.

    If the C of E still believes the articles, and the Roman church continues with its core doctrines unchanged, then it seems that essentially nothing has changed since the 16th century, and it is futile to pretend otherwise.

  5. OK, Michael and Topper, but ++Rowan's address includes the observation that ARCIC and other dialogues through the past decades (including the Roman-Lutheran dialogues, and Anglican-Orthodox dialogues) have brought out convergence in our different theologies to the point where there are some strong theological agreements among the churches, agreements which ++Rowan argues are stronger in their potential to unite us than the differences which currently divide us. The view that nothing is unchanged since the 16th century logically implies that all sense of clarification of commonality through recent dialogue is a fiction. That is quite a call to make.

  6. What lies at the root of the troubles besetting the Anglican Communion is a split between two factions, each pulling in its own direction, headed (at least for the time being) by Katharine Jefferts Schori on the one hand and Peter Akinola on the other. I have the impression that Benedict understands this very well and that he is not looking at the C of E in particular, while Rowan Williams is in the unfortunate position of not really being the head any more of anything much at all, other than the C of E as the national church of one country.

  7. I think the following excerpt from this blog: by former Anglican priest Fr. Dwight Longenecker explains Dr. Williams plight very well.

    The 'impaired, but real communion' which the Archbishop pleads for is the way Anglicanism has always existed. The present crisis in Anglicanism is simply testing the principle to its utmost. Catholics should understand that what they perceive as fuzzy, compromising wishy washiness is actually considered by Anglicans to be the primary virtue of their religion. In his speech in Rome yesterday the Archbishop was simply offering the Anglican Way (which he believes to be the best way) as a way forward for the whole church.

    There is, of course, a name for the Anglican position. Those who love long words will love it. It is called 'Latitudinarianism.' This is the belief that unity of form in religion is to be preferred above all things and that unity of doctrine may be sacrificed to achieve the unity of form. The opposite of Latitudinarianism is Sectarianism. This is the belief that unity of doctrine is more important than unity of form. Sectarians therefore divide into groups with others who believe the same way they do and therefore they sacrifice unity of form for unity of belief.

    Cardinal Newman wrote on this, saying that only an infallible authority could guarantee both unity of form and unity of belief. Sectarians have a dogmatic church that is not isolated. Latitudinarians have a united church that is not dogmatic. Only with an agreed infallilble authority which is the focus of unity and the arbiter of belief can we have a church that is both dogmatic and unified.

    The Archbishop, in his well meaning speech, is only offering the Catholic Church his own latitudinarian vision. For Catholics this is as insufficient as the Sectarian solution. After the Archbishop's speech we see again the deep philosophical divide between Catholicism and Anglicanism.

    It is a divide that can only be crossed with a bridge, and we must remember the word that means 'builder of bridges': It's 'Pontiff'.

  8. With respect, Anonymous, a communion which fudges crucial differences on soteriology in its ranks between Molinists and Neo-Thomists is hardly in fit position to lecture us on the dangers of Latitudinarianism.

  9. Quoting the ABC: "...and within Anglicanism itself, we have found a way to organize our life which can overcome our own internal tensions."

    No we haven't, either. What a big fat lie! If we had a way to organize our life which could overcome our own internal tensions, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.

    Connie Sandlin

  10. Michael, I could draw your attention to the many disputes that originate in the differnces between the Thomists and the Ockhamists and countless other disputes.

    But our topic of discussion is on resolution and one that does not create more schism or solipsism, the resolution so articularly defended in the writings and letters of Newman.

    Resolution must also be guided by the workings of the Holy Spirit as witnessed by holiness. One need only think of St. Francis and his solution to the abuses of his day.

  11. --But our topic of discussion is on resolution and one that does not create more schism or solipsism, the resolution so articularly defended in the writings and letters of Newman.--
    Noble sentiment; nonetheless, it seems a tad rich to simultaneously decry similar endeavours in one's prospective ecumenical partner as inherently Latitudinarian.

  12. Peter Carrell writes:
    "My question in response is whether the main purpose of being church is to stand for propositions of theology and ecclesiology; or to be in communion with one another in Christ even with lively disagreement among us."
    A bit of a loaded statement, Peter - and maybe a false antithesis, too?
    Are you "in communion" with Gene Robinson? Jack Spong? Katharine Schori?
    Or do you feel more "in common" with your local Baptists and Pentecostalists?
    Williams' long drawn out failure to deal with heresy has brought the Anglican Communion to schism. Sadly, this was the fear of some of us in 2002.
    Mark B.

  13. Hi Mark B.
    Yes I am in communion with Gene Robinson, Jack Spong, Katherine Schori, my local Baptists and Pentecostalists, some in my own diocese who are prepared to call me an apostate because I am not a creationist like them, oh, and why not add Benedict XVI and the Coptic Patriarch, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and Vladimir Putin into the mix. (Of course, not all of them are willing to be in communion with me ...)

    I make an assumption that what we all have in common is that (a) we are sinners in need of God's grace, (b) we believe in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, (c) we continually fail to obey Jesus' commandments but keep repenting and coming back to him for grace, (d) we imperfectly understand the doctrine of the church derived from Scripture, (e) we do not all agree all the time on all matters of ethics, or for that matter, doctrine, yet (f) we continue to name Jesus as the centre of our lives.

    It is possible that one or more of us is a heretic. I am unsure who is theologically worthy to pronounce that judgment in a definitive manner leading to the breaking of fellowship. But I suspect you are not unsure!

  14. That sounds terrific Peter. May I ask why you won't clearly and openly welcome me and others who think as I do, as welcome members of your church?

  15. Hi Rosemary
    My comment above is about a breadth of communion among Christians who disagree with one another. If the disagreement is over the question of the ordination of women to offices which involve teaching and leading mixed gender congregations then our communion together need not be impaired, focusing on being together at the table of our Lord. You and I are both welcome, I hope and pray, at the communion tables of our province, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.

    But elsewhere you and I have discussed a different matter, the question of whether a province such as ours, which for some thirty years has ordained men and women without reserve or qualification to the offices of deacon, priest, and bishop, should also ordain those who do not agree that women should be so ordained, or appointed to lead parishes, or licensed as lay preachers to preach to mixed gender congregations. On that matter I have not made up my mind. I also think that language of 'welcome' in respect of this matter is unhelpful: after all what is a 'welcome' of the ordination kind to a man who does not think women should be ordained or licensed to preach but a form of 'unwelcome' to those so ordained or licensed.
    (I am happy to discuss this further privately or on one of my blogs, since John R's thread here is mostly focused on Roman-Anglican matters!)

  16. We cannot violate God's Word and Moral Commandments and at the same time, be in Communion with HIM and each other. It is impossible. We fracture the Body, fracture ourselves by our infractions of God's Word.
    Sin must be owned, not denied; confessed, not hidden; repented and abandoned, not excused or defended.

    This is the only way to the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation.

    All of Scripture testifies to this.
    This is fact.
    This is reality.
    This is truth, eternal, unchangeable.

  17. May I echo Georgia's wonderful comment and her commitment to Truth - eternal and unchangeable.

    The whole problem though surrounds the sentence "All of Scripture testifies to this". Whose reading of Scripture? Who decides? Is one's own interpretation infallable or is it ultimately that of one who Catholics believe is guided by the Holy Spirit in matters of faith? The choice must be made.

    Newman while still an Anglican wrote in his lectures on justification, "Luther found Christians in bondage to their works and observations; he released them by his doctrine of faith and he left them in bondage to their feelings."

    This was truly a new innovation in Christian thought - distinguished from the Cathars, Albigenses, Waldenses and even the Wickliffites before.

    No matter what happens in Anglican - Catholic relations in the years to come I pray that all will hold fast to the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation.

  18. Peter writes:
    "It is possible that one or more of us is a heretic."
    Not just possible, absolutely certain. Your Christology (and doubtless other -ologies) is not the same as Spong's, or Schori's. Either you're right and they're wrong, or vice versa, or you're all wrong. Non-contradiction: a fundamental law of logic. (Thank you, Aristotle.)
    "I am unsure who is theologically worthy to pronounce that judgment in a definitive manner leading to the breaking of fellowship."
    "theologically worthy"? How about: "has basic biblical literacy"? You qualify easily, brother!
    "But I suspect you are not unsure!"
    I am not an apostle nor the son of one. But I can read too.
    Mark B.

  19. Hi Mark B
    I would distinguish between my personal discernment, as I understand theology and as I read and hear of the beliefs as work in other Christians, that X is a heretic or Y is leading an ungodly life, and the assuredness that my discernment is both sound and consistent to the point where communion is to be broken between me and X or Y.

    Possibilities for remaining in communion include the possibility that my discernment is simply wrong (e.g. I have jumped to conclusions), that X is not straightforwardly a heretic (Origen from ancient times springs to mind), that Y may be living an ungodly life but not more so than Z with whom I happily remain in communion (I can think of a few examples in the context in which I live).

    Certainly the examples of Spong and Robinson strain credibility, especially the former because he is so disdainful of many Christians. But I confess to partaking in communion services with people whose thinking is suspect and whose lives (so rumour informs me) are of doubtful moral qualities: should I single Spong and Robinson out, or constantly withdraw from communion services in which less than pure and perfect brothers and sisters are present?

  20. Peter, my contribution was written with regard to Roman/Anglican matters. The 'way' is not broad, as your contribution implied, it is narrow and we strive to find it as best we may. You do too I know. May I suggest as your sister in Christ, that asking me to confine myself to 'private'remarks, is not consistent with your 'broad' and tolerant view. Chuckle, sounds more like the old days .. "Women must be quiet."

    May I further suggest that calling men who hold my view unwelcoming to women, which is in your opinion unloving of women, is little different to being called a homophobe because we struggle to find God's way from the Scriptures.

    Surely what we are ALL asking for, both evangelical and Anglo Catholic, is the FULL acceptance you have given to women who do not hold my view. I don't think the ABC's remarks take that into consideration.

  21. Peter, it isn't as hard as you're making it out to be.
    1. The BCP says that 'evil livers' (sounds like the consequence of too much drinking!) should be admonished. But there is no moral discipline in Anglican circles today. Contrast the terror the young, unregenerate Charles Simeon felt about receiving communion!
    2. Origen and the preexistence of souls besides, the issue of heresy means repudiating the clear, historic meaning of the Creeds.
    3. Women's Ordination has never been recognized by the universal church, only by some branches of Protestantism. To make it the litmus test for leadership (or even fellowship!) is as sectarian as Dispensationalism.
    (Do you think the fruits of it are really that encouragaing, either?)

    Mark B.

  22. Hi, Rosemary: apologies, suggesting not to use 'welcome' was not intended to impute or imply unlovingness on anyone's part. I agree with you, the strong statement of ++R regarding women's ordination do not seem to take into consideration those women who hold your view.

    Hi Mark B: I am sure if we met we would agree on much if we could talk at greater length rather than by comments! Like it or lump it, women's ordination is a litmus test in some Anglican churches (most, in fact, in the Western world). I do not think that makes those churches sectarian!

  23. Peter Carrell, might I ask you to to enlarge on your use of the term "litmus test". For a start, is it better, in your view, that there should be litmus tests or that there shouldn't be?


  24. Hi Hank
    'Litmus test' may not be the best term - I ran with the phrase as introduced in a comment to which I responded ... nevertheless 'litmus test', acc. to my limited memory of schoolboy chemistry, can tell us whether something is X or Y (acid or alkali) and what degree of acidity or alkalinity it may have.

    Given that people seeking ordination or appointment to licensed positions generally need to sign some kind of declaration of adherence to the constitution of their Anglican province, and to the authority of their General Synod/Convention, as well as to their diocesan bishop and successors, then 'women's ordination' is a litmus test for those provinces practising it in these kind of ways:

    (1)willingness to work alongside ordained women
    (2) willingness to work under a woman bishop (currently in NZ, where C of E seems to be heading, different in Australia where dioceses with a woman bishop will also have a man bishop)
    (3) acceptance that the constitution of the church concerned effectively offers an official interpretation of Scripture that Scripture does not prohibit the ordination of women.

    Obviously there are some variations here between provinces so that in some it would be more straightforward to be a publicly identified objector to the ordination of women than in others; and/or, ditto, re dioceses within a province.

    (For clarity: in discussing these things I am not trying to assert that there is only one 'litmus test'. There are the usual ones about the general doctrine of the Anglican church described within a province's constitution, the use of the prayer books prescribed in a province's constitution, etc. In my Anglican province, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia another 'litmus test' is willingness to work within the framework of our Three Tikanga, or three cultural streams.

  25. Hello Peter, thanks for taking the trouble to answer my question in such detail. I certainly get your point about ordained clergy being required to abide by the rules and regs. No quarrel with that. But "licensed positions"? How broad a category is that in NZ? Would it mean, for instance, that any lay person on the Anglican payroll, in whatever capacity, is required to solemnly swear that in their heart of hearts they harbour not the slightest quibble about the rightness of women priests and bishops?

  26. Hi Hank
    Two responses: (1) I do not think signing up to our constitution and the authority of GS requires one to "solemnly swear that in their heart of hearts they harbour not the slightest quibble about the rightness of women priests and bishops", rather it requires people to respect the fact that our church has determined the rightness of that and to work with that rather than against that (and most Anglicans I know here who harbour such quibbles nevertheless respect our constitution etc).
    (2) People expected to sign to our constitution and the authority of our General Synod include licensed ordained ministers, licensed lay preachers/readers, and office holders such as churchwardens and members of Vestry. But many people are employed to work in one capacity or another of diocesan or parish life without a bishop's licence and thus without being required to sign appropriate declarations.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Peter, hello again. "To work with that rather than against that" -- yes, that would be my own position entirely. I hope I wouldn't let my quibbles get in the way of my loyalty to my church.

    However, going back to your post at 18:48, I have the impression that this position is fully in line with the first two of your three criteria but not so with the third, which seems to call for some kind of more thoroughgoing commitment, which I caricatured a bit with that "heart of hearts" business.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Best wishes,