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Re: [Hermeneutics] Schism?

[Father X]

I purposely withheld the date until my last sentence so that you would
experience the same amazement and wonder that I did when I first read it.  I
too had a hard time believing that this was the official report.

Very likely 92 years from now the Anglican Communion will read the 1998
resolutions on homosexuality with the same wonder and disbelief that so many
people could have been that worked up over homosexuality, even enough for many
to consider it as a presenting issue for schism.

I am not surprised by the views expressed at Lambeth in 1998 nor in 1908, only
by the hubris with which some force them to be the fundamental issues of the

Last August while visiting in the rural home of an African bishop, I asked him
whether he had ever heard the testimony of a gay Christian.  He had not, and
agreed to hear mine.

This kind man had voted against lesbigay folks at Lambeth without ever having
had a conversation with a lesbigay Christian.  The same is true of hundreds of
the others who voted the same way with him.  The 1998 Conference itself voted
to disinvite the lesbigays who had been invited to give their witness at
Lambeth.  That is why the vote has so little moral authority with those of us
on whom it passes judgment.  These persons have not yet had the opportunity to
determine that we lesbigays have been with Jesus.

Last October I dined with primates who had accepted our Presiding Bishop's
invitation to 'come and listen to' the persons about whom they were making such
a fuss.  Five other gay persons were at the dinner with our five foreign
visitors, plus a few  staff folks of ECUSA.  The other five were all priests
and talked about their ministries, none of which had major components in the
gay community.  We did not give an apologia for homosexuality. Instead, I
talked about the transforming work of Jesus in my life; my clergy colleagues
talked about the full range of their ministries.  None of this seemed to
interest our guests.  Afterwards, although they spoke longer than we had,  the
visitors did not respond to a thing we had said. Instead they gave us scripts
prepared in advance about how homosexual persons are a threat to the entire

I did not find similar hostility when I was the convener of the nightly
meetings of the lesbigay network at the World Council of Churches in Harare in
December 1998.  The more than 50 padares (a Shauna term for an informal
discussion of issues outside of a  legislative context) on lesbigay issues were
the most popular of the thousands of padares at the Assembly.   I had gone
expecting the hostility and abuse that lesbigays experienced at Lambeth.
Instead, we found people from all over the world, but especially from Africa,
filled with respectful questions.   For example, at one point a  woman from
Swaziland asked me how I felt about healed homosexuals.

"Would you want your daughter to marry a 'healed homosexual,'" I asked, eyes

She twinkled back: "You're not a mother so you need to understand that I'm not
likely to give my
approval easily to anyone my daughter might choose to marry! However, I can say
one thing with
certainty, if a healed homosexual were to seek to marry her, I hope very much
that he would be honest
with her about that before the marriage."   See my cyber diary of the Assembly
for a much fuller account, http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/wccdiary.html

Lambeth has given us a blessing:  bishops committed the entire communion to
listen to the experiences of lesbigay Christians.  If they genuinely listen,
the rest of the work is the job of the Holy Spirit.  If God is at work in
lesbigay people, God now has a chance to get a word in edgewise.  If God is
not, lesbigays will  gradually disappear from the church.

Not since slavery  have we had an issue about which numerous denominations seem
willing to split.  Some consider it a blessing that ECUSA did not split:
others consider it our curse that we cared so little to speak to the justice
issues.  Before the Civil War, most African Americans were Anglicans and
sitting in the slave galleries of our churches.  After the Civil War, most fled
to AME and other welcoming congregations.

We do not  get to choose the issues that test our faith.  For example, who
today would want to fight over circumcision?  Few welcome the battles over
lesbigay inclusion either, yet those battles are very much upon us.   May God
give us discernment to live faithfully in our own time.

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., Chair, Diocese of Newark Deputation to GC2000
377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225. 973-395-1068
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/rel.html  Anglican Pages

               There are 41 days left until General Convention.

[Father X] wrote:

> I don't recognize this. Which Lambeth conference is it from? Is it an
> official communique or the communique of some party. Sounds like the 40 or
> 50s. It seems to me the example could be used in the other direction as an
> example, given time, of the possibility of a new consensus developing. In
> principle  a conference of all the bishops of the whole communion seems
> more trustworthy than the convention of a national church but only if there
> is an inherent consensus about first principles and only if unity is valued
> in the process of discernment. Our disputes are so deep because we are no
> longer debating how principles apply but what as you say is truly
> essential. Non magesterial churches have a real challenge and perhaps an
> insurmountable challenge in maintaining unity in the face of dispute
> because there really is no mechanism for resolving profound dispute
> judicially. Anglicans don't have this and are not likely to have it.   It
> is clear by now that our own church would never accept creeping primacy as
> Ian called it. If primacy is creeping, unilateralism is galloping. Our
> unity is a fragile affair and heretofore loyalty to the received
> formularies has been its bedrock. The value of being an autonomous national
> church or even an autonomous diocesan church is now a value that trumps any
> doctrinal standard and any desire to balance unity and innovation. Our
> unity may have already been damaged beyond repair. Again the ABC's warning
> seems apt to me.
> [Father X]   
> Louie Crew wrote:
> >
> > > Is it not possible for a national church to act with such
> > > indifference to fundamental principles that such a church betrays
> > > the faith and defacto fractures the fellowship and communion in such
> > > a profound way that while the word schism may not be historically
> > > precise, is yet the only word which conveys the depth of the wound
> > > to the body of Christ.
> > >
> > > [Father X]
> >
> > I think so, yet how much can we trust the bishops at the Lambeth
> > Conference to discern what is truly fundamental?   E.g., consider this
> > dire warning from Lambeth:
> >
> > > A further evil with which we have had to deal is of such a kind that
> > > it cannot be spoken of without
> > > repugnance. No one who values the purity of home life can
> > > contemplate without grave misgiving the
> > > existence of an evil which jeopardises that purity; no one who
> > > treasures the Christian ideal of marriage can condone the existence
> > > of habits which subvert some of the essential elements of that
> > > ideal. In view of the figures and facts which have been set before
> > > us, we cannot doubt that there is a widespread prevalence amongst
> > > our peoples of the practice of resorting to artificial means for the
> > > avoidance or prevention of childbearing. We have spoken of these
> > > practices and endeavoured to characterise them as they deserve, not
> > > only in their results, but in themselves; and we would appeal to the
> > > members of our own Churches to exert the whole force of their
> > > Christian character in condemnation of them.
> >
> > (See http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/lambeth46.html for a fuller
> > text from the same conference.)
> >
> > The pronouncement makes the fulminations of Lambeth about
> > homosexuality seem tame; yet from this distance, the bluster seems
> > grounded more in Victorianism than in the fundamentals of the faith.
> > Had any province dared flout  1908 pronouncement, we would have had
> > charges of schism big time.
> >
> > Lutibelle/Louie
> >
> > Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., #12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225
> > http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew   973-395-1068
> >
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