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March 11, 2008


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Yet we have a bishop(s?) that deny Jesus.... So, now I'm confused. They have left the Christ story behind (or at least relegated it to the level of a "nice myth") and yet are welcomed as members of the church. Is the Primate going to take a stand for the Core Doctrine of the church or no? Personally, this would speak wonders to me and encourage me to be involved in this discussion on unity. Until then I'm not sure I take the Primate seriously.


The article doesn't tell me much about Connie Woodcock - apart from the fact that she considers herself an Anglican moderate. There is certainly nothing there to suggest she's a bishop.

Alex, care to give me a specific case of a Canadian bishop debying Jesus? I mean, it makes for great polemic, but I have yet to see any evidence. And while such clergy may well exist, there is even less evidence to suggest that denying Jesus is a significant body of opinion within the Anglican Church, let alone normative.

On the open letter from Integrity, I think Susan Russell's respective lists of how they offend and are offended is about right - reasonably honest and reasonably complete. I certainly get hot under the collar when I read some "conservative" commentator accusing me of "loathing" the Jesus whom I worship, and I get a little unconfortable when I read "liberal" commentators suggesting that the conservatives might be happier elsewhere.

Her list of how her "side" is offended is longer than her list of how her "side" offends. I suspect that a conservative attempting to answer the question with similar honesty would likewise produce a list where the offenses taken are more numerous and more detailed than the expenses given. It is, in our fallenness, far easier to see how we are injured than to see how we injure others.

Joseph, I don't know if you've seen Gene Robinson's comments from yesterday re: Lambeth. (

I was struck by one paragraph in particular:

"My own pain was sufficient enough that for
36 hours I felt the compelling urge to run,
to flee. My inspiration for staying came from
my conservative brothers in this house. I have
seen John Howe and Ed Salmon and others show
up for years when there was a lot of pain for
them. I see Bill Love and Mark Lawrence, and
I know it is a very difficult thing for them
to be here right now. For me, the worst sin
is leaving the table. And that is what I was
on the verge of doing. But, largely because
of you, I stayed. Thank you for that."

What most struck me about this was the respectful, even gracious manner in which he spoke about those of his brother bishops who, despite being polar opposites from him on the substantive issue, have nonetheless chosen to stay at the table. I know that I have read similar things from some conservative commentators at times as well.

That, it strikes me, is real Anglicanism. Not the random accusations of heresy or homophobia. Not the denial that the "other side" believe in God. Not the efforts to "realign" the church in such a manner that I only have to sup with those who think as I think. But the honest desire to continue engagement, painful though it may be.


Alex, care to give me a specific case of a Canadian bishop debying Jesus? I mean, it makes for great polemic, but I have yet to see any evidence.

A cursory look through the diocese of New Westminister's website should give you plenty of evidence. Bishop Ingham has made it perfectly clear on numerous occasions that he doesn't believe in a literal resurrection. I'd say that was pretty clear evidence of leaving the Christ story behind. I suspect that your mileage probably varies, though, Malcolm+.

On another note, Alex didn't say he thought she was a bishop. He started his sentence with "yet", indicating a new thought.


Took about an hour to browse through the New Westminster website. Looked at the article about +Michael discussing issues. Looked at the "About Anglicans" page. I've read one of his two books.

Sorry Kate. Nothing yet. It's just another unsubstantiated accusation, I guess.

I have no idea what the comment about mileage is supposed to mean. I'm trying to believe it wasn't snide.


That, it strikes me, is real Anglicanism. Not the...But the honest desire to continue engagement, painful though it may be.

I think it's the Westminster catechism that says the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. What does the Anglican church say is the chief end of man?


Well, here's a quote from a review of _Mansions of the Spirit_:

The chapter on "Religious Pluralism" insists that for a proper dialogue between religions no one should adopt a superior stance. That is why "Pluralists agree that there are diverse paths to God." All religious systems are "limited and fallible, " and God works with a "diversity of spiritual understanding" (p. 74).

That directly contradicts "the only way to the father is through me". If that isn't leaving the Christ story behind, what is?


There's also this, a direct quote from a resource for interfaith dialogue on the New West website:

Our king, enthroned on his cross, remembers the faithful of the world who suffer for their faith, whichever faith they profess.


love more deep and complex and multifaceted than we, with our limitations, can ever imagine. It is enough to humble us all, whenever we dare think a word which would limit those boundaries, exclude some inhabitants, and so deny the One who is Love itself.

Absolutely, I am humbled by that love, and absolutely I believe that Jesus loves us all. But, we have to make a decision to follow him. To follow a different religion is to exclude yourself from salvation. To preach universal salvation, (ie salvation for all, whether or not they follow Jesus), is to leave the Christ story behind.

Frankly, I don't believe that you didn't know what I meant by the your mileage probably varies comment. I didn't think you would find anything on the New West website that you would consider leaving the Christ story behind, because I think we have two very different definitions of what that would look like.


Sorry for the triple post - The infamous 2005 Easter sermon in which Ingham is alleged to have denied the literal resurrection is quoted here:

However, when I checked the New West sermon pages, the 2005 Easter sermon written by Ingham is quite different, and I have been unable to find the "Easter as divine uncertainty principle" sermon in its original on the net. So, on that score, I suppose there isn't any proof to be found.

Raspberry Rabbit

Regarding Ms Woodcock's paragraph which read:

"There are those on the far left who have gone so far as to leave the Christ story itself behind and yet still feel comfortable within the church because, after all, we are supposed to love our neighbour as ourselves, no matter what our neighbour believes"

your response is:

"Read that last paragraph again to get the full implication of what Ms Woodcock, a self described "middle of the road Anglican", is saying. You can leave the Christ story itself behind, and still be a member of the Church?"

I've read the paragraph again. My assumption had been that she was saying this as a reproach - that some on the 'far left' had gone so far as to leave 'the Christ story itself behind' and replace it with a flaccid universal ethic. Am I misreading something?


RR - I can see how one might take it as a reproach of "the other extreme", so to speak. I read her comment as rather approving and accepting such an attitude, because I do not see her giving such explicit rebuttal as she does to the "fundamentalist". But I am open to persuasion. Perhaps she does want to express the sentiment you have expressed, but I would like to have seen her address that a bit more.



Thanks for your comments. I was out of line. In my research on this, I have found the following from comments by Michael Ingham:


Ingham also said the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church, which specify that salvation is through Christ alone, "offer a snapshot of what our church held and believed in the 16th century" and must be interpreted against the background of the Crusades, which had come to an end only decades before.

----------------- and the following:

in the gospel of John which, according to some scholars was written 60 years after Jesus' death, there are absolutisms attributed to Christ (as in John 14:6) because "it was written by and for a Jewish--Christian community experiencing the shock of persecution and rejection. The Johannine church had been expelled from the synagogue. Its message of the fulfilment of Jewish messianic expectation in Jesus Christ was no longer acceptable...It is only in John's gospel that we find such statements as...'No one comes to the Father except through me' is not sufficient simply to claim that this is fact


"We need to move beyond theology altogether to prayer," said Ingham. "Doctrine divides, but prayer unites."


From his comments we see that he:
1. denies the doctrine of the Anglican Church (established by the 39 Articles)
2. denies that scripture is true
3. seems to think that any idea of what we believe is irrelevant as long as we do something about it

From other transcripts of his talks, there is the general sense that while he has not denied that Jesus existed, he denies that Jesus is very relevant. If indeed there are many rooms in our Father's house (and rooms refers to religions according to Ingham) then whether we know or follow Jesus is irrelevant, as long as we have some religious tendencies. Yet this is his own doctrine, which he says we need to transcend.

I guess the rather categorical rejection of any doctrine is rather unnerving. Does this not reject any reason or substance to the Primate's comment to:

confess the divinity and the lordship of Jesus Christ as we recite the Creed and celebrate the Eucharist week by week.

What are we confessing? It seems that Ingham is confessing that Jesus is an interesting character who may have said some good things. Is this not a denial of Jesus as divine, relegating the scripture to myth?

Also, our reason for reciting the Creed and celebrating the Eucharist is not to remind ourselves of our doctrine but rather to take part in some religious activity and to lead us to prayer where we can become united with all those in the world that pray.

Perhaps I am reading too much into these comments. Perhaps I am missing out on some of the nuances. If so, please clarify.


I have no particular interest in doing a line by line defence of Michael Ingham - especially since I suspect there are any number of issues on which he and I would not agree. That said, let me touch on a few of those offered here.

From Kate:

'The chapter on "Religious Pluralism" insists that for a proper dialogue between religions no one should adopt a superior stance. That is why "Pluralists agree that there are diverse paths to God." All religious systems are "limited and fallible, " and God works with a "diversity of spiritual understanding" (p. 74)."


I rather suspect that walking into a room and saying "I'm right and you're wrong" is rarely conducive to effective dialogue. One does not need to 'adopt a superior stance' in order to believe in the uniqueness of Jesus. Without the context, I can't judge if there is more to the line than that. Here it simply appears to be advocating good manners.

I don't find anything heretical at all about saying that all religious systems are limited and fallible. Unlike our Roman cousins, Anglicans have never advocated infallibility. And, over theyears, we have concluded that we were wrong on a range of issues - viz, usury, slavery, the ordination of women.


"Easter as divine uncertainty principle."


Again, there might be something more in the context. The line alone does not strike me as heretical. It is a necessary condition of faith that the Resurrection is not provable by any conventional means. The disciples on the road to Emmaus do not believe because they see - they see because they believe. Even Thomas, I suggest, wanted to believe, had incipient belief, but was afraid to believe. At that level, the Easter truth is uncertain in that it is not provable. Our certainty comes from faith, not proof.


"1. denies the doctrine of the Anglican Church (established by the 39 Articles)"


The precise authority of the Articles has always been a matter of dispute. Back in the days that clergy were required to swear to the Articles it was said that the average Anglo-Catholic viewed it as akin to affirming the local gas works - viz, one acknowledged their existence and were not currently involved in a plot for their overthrow.

That said, the statement quoted merely acknowledges that the Articles, like any other historical document of whatever authority, cannot be properly understood without reference to its time. Strikes me as simple fact.


"2. denies that scripture is true"


Again, there may be more in the context, but what is quoted here seems to be more about questioning if our interpretation is correct than with asserting the scripture isn't true.


"3. seems to think that any idea of what we believe is irrelevant as long as we do something about it"


I suspect I'd agree with the idea that prayer is more important than doctrine. I'm not sure this says doctrine is unimportant. After all, he wouldn't have much book to write if it were.

In answer to your subsequent question, yes, I do believe you are reading more into some of this than is there. But I also think your questioning of his comments is logical, coherent and legitimate.

Thing is, the way to deal with these is through engagement - staying at the table. Establishing alternate tables where all are likeminded strikes me as a good way to create a very narrow and leaglistic gospel which is not open to God's Spirit. (Which is not to say, let me be clear, that every new idea is necessarily the inspiration of the Holy Spirit either.)



"I think it's the Westminster catechism that says the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. What does the Anglican church say is the chief end of man?"

I think I might agree with the Presbyterians on that - the Westminster catechism being a Calvinist vice Anglican formulary.

That said, I'm not sure that this would in any way contradict my advocacy of staying at the table and engaging.

I hope I have dealt fairly with other poster's comments. If I have unintentionally misrepresented anyone, I apologize.


It was the "diverse paths to God" that was important. This is an heretical statement. Perhaps I wasn't being clear.

"Easter as divine uncertainty principle" - I suppose I was really wondering why the sermon has been replaced by something different on the dio. of New West website.

I will lay my cards on the table - I belong to an ANiC parish and I voted to leave the ACoC. We have been at the table since 1994, and have accomplished very little. Since synod, I've seen the ACoC as two different religions trying to coexist in the same structure, and I think it is untenable.

You brought up the ordination of women as an example of how we've rethought biblical interpretation. It is possible to mount a biblical argument both for and against WO. Every single reference to same sex relationships in the bible is negative. The two issues are simply not in the same category.


You know, folks, I am beginning to suspect that "Malcolm+" is a Troll. This poster is showing up all over in the Anglican blogworld I frequent. If you think so, the rule is, don't feed the trolls. They suck up an awful lot of energy and time and completely de-rail posts. The good news is, if Trolls are attracted to a blog, it is really worrying them.
Just wondering.


Susan - Malcolm is not a troll. He is a fellow anglican blogger and priest from another diocese. And, if I am not mistaken, he works as well for one of my favourite organizations. Malcolm, I've been an avid philatelist since early childhood!


Right. Well. Whatever. I know whereof he is. Simplemassingpriest. Anglican bloggers and priests who work for favourite organizations can still be trolls. I could be a troll for goodness sake, pouncing on some blog post and trying to derail it. The question is always, is this a good faith comment or query or one that is either just trying to stir things up or get things off topic. Apologies to Malcolm+ if I was off-base. But was I, Malcolm+?


I don't think Malcolm is a troll. Brash and snarky at times, but not a troll.

Yes, you may go ahead and tell me to look in the mirror to find brash and snarky.



Could whoever this "joseph" guy is start using words the rest of us understand? It's tough enough with Felix Hominum using latin phrases and quoting Dante all over the place.



Thank for your comments. It will take some time for me to think about them, and some more research.

With all that is said about staying at the table, it would help me to know what that "table" is. What are the common denominators that unite us. I still don't know. The primate says there are many, but I've yet to see him specify what they are - other than having a bunch of people get together each week. If the most common denominator is that we call ourselves "Anglican" then tell us that. If it is that we have common beliefs, what are they? Unfortunately once we state what our common denominators are, we become exclusive. I think this is one issue the Anglican church has - we don't want to become exclusive so we become afraid to take a stand on anything.

The primate states that each week we quote the creeds and share in the eucharist. What if there are some Anglican churches that don't? Are they no longer Anglican? Should they be disciplined? How? Is there anything else that defines an "Anglican"? I just don't know what the Anglican Church stands for any more.

What is it that unites us? If it is merely that we are humans and are willing to show up at the table, then at least state that. Then we have a starting place. But until then, telling me to stay at the table doesn't mean much because: I don't know what the table is, what the purpose is, nor who else is at the table. I don't even know if there is a table. SHOW ME THE TABLE! Then I'll tell you if I am at it or not. Until then, telling me to stay at the table is a waste of words. It's not that I would then want to leave the Anglican church; I just don't know what is going on.


Brash and snarky I'll accept. Troll?

It is a convenient way of writing off opposing views. Anyone who comes to a generally conservative blog and posts a generally liberal opinion can be safely written off that way. (And vice versa as well, certainly.)

Of course, we could all go an have conversations only with those who agree with us. Then we can simply get on with slandering the "other side," marginalizing the "other side," dehumanizing the "other side" and pretending that those we disagree with aren't really children of God.

Frankly, there's quite too much of that on all sides.

I read the challenge on a conservative blog - this one, I think - about why liberal bloggers so rarely included standing links to conservative bloggers. I suspect that the opposite is likely true as well. I have responded to that by incorporating links to a number of conservative blogs - including Felix Hominum - at simplemassingpriest.

You are more than welcome to come around, Susan. Troll all you want. Be brash and snarky if you want.

The most useful blogs on all sides are the ones that allow an honest exchange of opinions from all interested posters. Yes, there are liberal blogs where conservative posters have been treated quite abominably. There are also conservative blogs that routinely ban liberal posters and excise their comments. In those places, all the "reasserters" are homophobes or all the "reappraisers" are heretics who "loathe" Jessus. I rather find those who resort to that sort of stuff to be childish, at best.

This thread began with a reference to a letter from Integrity USA in which that organization, honestly if imperfectly, acknowledged the real hurt of theose on the "other side" of the issue. I subsequently posted a comment from Gene Robinson in which he, likewise, acknowledged the real hurt of some of his brother bishops from the "other side." No one was written off as irrelevant.

In this thread, we have had a largely honest discussion, I think. Now I have been labelled a troll simply for being a liberal that has attempted to have an honest engagement with some conservatives.

I have attempted to respond to this without anger - although do not take that to mean I am not angry. I find it offensive to be written of, marginalized and dehumanized in this way.

I thank both Joseph+ and Kate for coming to my defence, and I thank Alex for returning the thread to substance. Alex, your comment deserves a more thoughtful response than I think I am able to offer right now. I promise to come back to it later.


Hi, my name is Winston, longtime lurker, sometime commenter. Raised Baptist, barely. Found God -- and Christ -- by debating life the universe and everything over coffee, beer, and an occasional rum and coke while eschewing church and organized religion. Found organized religion -- and much to my surprise, God -- trying to impress my future parents-in-law by going to church. Helped plant a new church -- classed as "unorganized" in the churchenese of my denomination -- that meets in a coffee shop, a church that, in retrospect, caused much more of an uproar in some circles than any of us realized from the inside. I'm often considered liberal to people in "the church." I'm often considered conservative to the people who aren't.

Oh, and I'm not Anglican. Only time I've ever even been in an Anglican church was to show my support to Joe at his "Induction of the Rector" ceremony (which still makes me giggle) -- nearly choked when I was being served communion because it never, ever, occurred to me to expect real wine in the cup. I mean, this is communion! In a church!

All that as precursor to saying, wow. What's a Regular Joe (as opposed to a felix hominum-ian Joe!) Wannabe Christian Spiritual/Religious Sceptic/Seeker/Far-From-Saint supposed to do with all this? I mean, aside from praying... a lot.

Alex, I'd like to think "the table" is the communion table, the one through which all Christians, theoretically, are united. But then I'm talking as a Christian who is looking in from outside the Anglican Communion. The table to which I think you're referring actually isn't one open to me. Except I suppose here in a blog like this.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm even piping in at this point, except to say please do keep talking. Keep listening. Keep praying. The significant, some would say monumental, conversation going on within the Anglican Communion may or may not even be noticed outside the Anglican Communion, but I think the ripples will be felt. Yes, there is much at stake, but I wonder if they are the things we think they are...


You are welcome. I am curious though, on your own blog you have stated that you think that the Bishop of San J(I can't spell the name of that city and don't really want to try) lacked integrity because he took the diocese with him. Do you still think that, and by extension, think the position I take lacks integrity?

I believe that you were referring to Stand Firm in your post? If so, I think you are maligning them unnecessarily. The only posts I've seen edited and or people banned are people who won't discuss the issues in a civil manner. That's certainly the stand that we (I am one of the editors) take at the Essentials blog.


PS Feel free to let me know if I am taking this thread too far off topic, Fr. Joe.



I think there is an inherent flaw in the concept of trying to reorganize an episcopal church on a confessional and non-geographical basis, and I don't think there is a real precedent for it in our tradition. I have described myself as a geographical fundamentalist, and I still think San Joaquin is in California, and I still think your ANiC parish is in the southern mainland of BC. Therefore, to be authentically Anglican - it seems to me - one has to be in relationship, however uncomfortable, with the Anglicans who are where you physically are.

I've had ample opportunity to read a great deal of what John-David, formerly Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, and his supporters have said and done - enough that I am confident in my assessment of his integrity while acknowledging that only God know's John-David's heart.

I know some of the story of what has happened in the southern mainland. I know virtually nothing of your own part in it, so I will decline an opportunity to assess your integrity based on a couple of blog comments.

But I do believe that "alternate Anglicanisms" (if I can frame it that way) affiliated with a geographically remote primate whose principle attribute is likemindedness represent a departure from Anglican comprehensiveness and the Eliabethan settlement. If I can refer to earlier mutual polemics, I know of dioceses that were predominantly low church, and I know of dioceses that were predominantly high church. I know of no case where high and low church dioceses existed in the same place claiming affiliation to different primates.

So, just as you (I gather) find my theology flawed, I find your ecclesiology (or at least what I can glean of it) flawed. I don't think that has to preclude a civilized, if occasionally brash and snarky conversation - unless we let it.


I think Winston has the rights of it. The table is the altar.

Elizabeth once framed her settlement in terms of her refusal to seek "windows into men's souls." To some very real extent, therefore, one can argue that Anglicanism was less about orthodoxy (in the sense of adherence to confessional formularies) than orthopractic (adherence to recieved liturgy and ceremonial).

I am prepared to conform to the authorized liturgies of the church, and to recite the credal statements without crossing my fingers. It was sufficient for Anglicanism for the previous 15 generations. I do not see why it is not sufficient for this one.

Previous attempts to enforce greater intellectual conformity (the Cromwellian Commonwealth, the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874, the attempts at the first few Lambeths to establish Communion wide juridical structures) all ended up in the dustbin. I think that was a good thing.


"Keep talking. Keep listening. Keep praying."


BTW, you may also have choked because, sometimes, the wine we use isn't very good. ;-)


You may want to assure your readers that "philately" does not in any way refer to the present besetting issue. ;-)


I'm in Ottawa, actually. There is precedent for non-geographical bishops - the military has had them for years, and we just appointed one for native people.

I'm glad that you are prepared to recite the creedal statements without crossing your fingers. Frankly, I don't think that many of our bishops could; I certainly don't think Michael Ingham could, based on his behaviour and the things he has written. "I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son...who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven" directly contradicts "God works with a "diversity of spiritual understanding". If you believe that the creed is true, you can't also believe that there is more than one way to God.


I'm multiple posting again, sorry.

"however uncomfortable, with the Anglicans who are where you physically are."

What if the Anglican leadership where you physically are have abandoned Jesus, and are no longer recognizably Christian? What do you do then?


The Bishop Ordinary to the Armed Forces and the First Nations Bishop aren't set up in opposition to the "geographical" bishop, nor do they align themselves with another Primate, so I don't think the analogy applies.

On the second, I am inclined to agree with Elizabeth I that I don't want windows into men's souls. If they are prepared to conform to the authorized liturgies, that is sufficient to retain fellowship. It may not be comfortable, but schism is not an act to be taken lightly.

(Acknowledging, of course, that those who have taken this course would say that they have not taken it lightly.)


Winston & Malcolm - Thanks for the reminders to pray and wait on the Lord. It is sometimes difficult to remember that we are all imperfect and need the Lord's redemption.

Malcolm - if the "table" is the "communion table" then what makes it different from me at home when we have wine with dinner? I think it is Jesus. What makes Jesus different from any other person? Well, one thing is that He "is the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn 2:2 ASV). I can't think of any other spiritual leader that can claim this. If we don't agree on this with other Anglicans - especially our leaders - then are we really at the "table" with them? Maybe, maybe not. If anyone denies that we need Jesus for our salvation, it sounds like they are choosing to not be at the table. If the "table" is the "communion table" then those not at the table are those with bad theology, not those with bad manners who are unwilling to discuss the theology. If it is the "communion table" then our clamoring should be for holiness, not for inclusion (ie, draw a perfect circle rather than drawing the circle wider).

Thanks for making me think about this. Yes, this is just my first thoughts. I will take time to pray about it and wait on the Lord. But please, if I am going the wrong way, please help to guide me. I may stumble from right to left, but I want to make sure I am actually getting home.


Totally off topic. What do the various '+' before and after names mean?

BTW, Malcolm, I think this 'joseph' guy has already put his stamp on the discussion when he used the term philatelist.


Most bishops sign their name with a cross in front (ie, +Rowan Williams or, more formally, +Rowan Cantuar - Cantuar being a version of the name of his diocese, Canterbury). Many - but probably not most - priests follow a comparable process of placing a cross after their names. In some blogs, one will find a double cros in front of an Archbishop's name (ie ++Rowan). This is a blogger shorthand, but really has no precedent in actual usage.

On the altar / table question, I suggest that those who absent themselves physically from the table are the ones who aren't at the table. Tediously literal, I admit, but there you are.

I quite suspect, first off, that I can find some theological issue on which I think most anyone is wrong. I'm probably closer to the deposed bishop of San Joaquin than to Michael New Westminster on an issue like the manner of Christ's presence in the eucharist, for example.

In any event, theology is about God and God is ineffable. At some level, no matter how orthodox, one's understanding of God is bound to be less than complete.

That doesn't mean there is no point in the Church struggling to determine theological questions. But I'm not in the business, for example, of denying communion to someone because they think it is merely a symbol. Nor would I (necessarily) absent myself from my low church colleague's altar because his sacramental theology is lower than mine. His intent in presiding is to do what the Church does. The fact that one of us - or maybe both - fail to grasp fully what the Church does isn't sufficient to invalidate the sacrament.

I'm quite happy to have you or Kate or even Susan receive at my altar, and I have no issue about receiving at your parish, whatever our differences are.

In the piece above which I quoted from Gene Robinson, I find it significant that Gene remains in communion with Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, and Mark with Gene. These two are at polar opposites on "the" issue - and probably on lots of other issues. Yet they stay together at the eucharistic table and the discussion table.

The Church would be better off, I suggest, if John-David formerly of San Joaquin and Bob of Pittsburgh were prepared to do the same, but neither has been prepared to attend a House of Bishops meeting or have eucharistic fellowship with their fellow bishops for years.

The net effect of that, it seems to me, is that it is easier for them to dismiss and write off those they never meet. I fail to see how that serves the Christ you and I both worship, however imperfectly.


It has nothing to do with dismissing, or writing off. This is a very politically incorrect thing to say, but I will say it anyway. It has to do with wishing to remain Christian. TEC has gone off the rails in a far more dramatic way than ACoC has. (For example, the priest who thought she could be a practising Muslim and an Anglican priest at the same time, and the bishop who thought that was a smashing idea. I could come up with other examples). The presiding bishop's Easter message had nothing to say about Jesus Christ and him crucified. I could go on and on.

Bishop Harvey isn't setting himself up in opposition. He is simply offering a temporary safe haven, beside the ACoC, just as the bishop ordinary to the armed forces is beside the geographical bishops. Yes, it is out of the ordinary, but necessary.

One can conform to authorized liturgies and preach things that are contrary to scripture. I think, when the authorities of the church are preaching things that are contrary to scripture, that it is more important to obey God than to obey the church



I think we disagree on many points, and then the comment on whether we truly should have "windows into men's souls" is there.... Should we be seeking this? And here I agree with you that we should not. I guess my confusion comes when I see leaders in the church teaching things which contradict even the basics of the liturgy.

For instance, if there is a pastor who is willing to pour the wine and say "The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the cup of salvation" and then say that you don't really need Jesus to be saved. Well, is it the cup of salvation or is it not? Should we not have a reasonable expectation that those presenting the liturgy have some agreement with what they are saying? What do you do when you believe that they are doing the liturgy with crossed fingers?

And yet, I see that some of the strength in the Anglican church is the very strong liturgy. Grace is given and received in the liturgy (perhaps because of its basis in scripture) as well as by the people presenting it. So rejecting the liturgy because of the people offering it is not valid. But I think we should still encourage the holiness of those offering it (and those receiving it), and not just accept AND LEAVE THEM as they are. Jesus was always willing to accept people as they were, as long as they were open to changing to be holy (go and sin no more).


Malcolm, Kate, Joe, et al, and of course Felix himself....

I want to thank you for taking the time to listen and respond. This is a very confusing and frustrating time for many of us in the Anglican Church. Having a forum for discussion is quite helpful - especially one-on-one like this. I very much appreciate it. There are those of us who need shepherds to guide us, and these discussions are one way to be shepherded.

Felix, thanks for letting us hijack this blog. I think I've posted more to your blog in the past week than you have! It looks like you're collecting more comments than stamps. (BTW, I'll try to remember to get some good Germany stamps for you if you'd like - Mrs Alex is always getting letters from home.)


Hey. Talking, I'm good at. (No comments from the cheap seats, please).


"I'm quite happy to have you or Kate or even Susan receive at my altar"
Gee. And "even Susan". Thanks. How big of you.
And, really. It is not "your" altar.


Susan, I don't think Malcolm was trying to imply anything uncharitable. And most priests know that it is not "our" altar (or pulpit, as the preference may be).



I simply can't agree with you on the analogy of Bishop Harvey and the Bishop Ordinary. The Bishop Ordinary acknowledges that he belongs to the same Church as the Bishop in whose diocese he physically stands at a given moment and he acts with the consent of that bishop, while Bishop Harvey has said he is no longer a part of the Anglican Church of Canada and he acts on the usurping authority of a foreign prelate.

I guess, for now, we will have to agree to disagree on this point.

I'm always amused by the constant reference to the "Muslim Episcopal priest." Clearly this woman is very confused and in a very mixed up place in her spiritual journey. However, she was inhibited by her bishop within 24 hours of when her odd self-identification became known. And, not withstanding the comments of one bishop, I saw not a single post on the liberal blogs defending or justifying her bizarre self-identification. Every liberal blogger who commented (that I saw), endorsed Bishop Wolf's decision to inhibit.

The Presiding Bishop's Easter Message misses the target, no question. Personally, I found it unusually vacuous - even as a commentary on environmental issues. That said, there's nothing heretical in it. She's just talking about the wrong subject.

I've seen vacuous comments and heard vacuous sermons from liberals, conservatives and moderates. This is just one more.


I agree that we should challenge people to holiness of life - and not just the clergy. Of course, part of that challenging should be the challenging of assumptions as well. Few people questioned that slavery was part of God's plan for the world when Wilberforce and others started calling the Church and the World to rethink the question.

I agree with your comment to our host, and I want to say how much I appreciate the respectful passion that has managed to dominate this thread so far.


The comment was intended as a quasi-satirical reference to the one bit of unpleasantness that had occurred in the thread to that point. As if to say "I invite you all - even the one person who insulted me." I apologize for the perceived slight.

And no, it is not my altar. The people of St. James hold it in trust for God. It is, however, the altar I'm using at the moment, so I do have some proprietary feelings towards it. Much as when a person says "my parish" or "my church" or even "my pew."

There has been an extended and civil discussion here among several partners, Susan. That is unusual when trolls are involved, don't you think? Indeed, only one poster has sought to derail the civil discussion - unsuccessfully.


However, she was inhibited by her bishop within 24 hours of when her odd self-identification became known.

Yes, that's true, she was inhibited by the bishop where she was canonically resident. However, the bishop of the city where she was living and teaching "was excited by the possibilities" that her embracing of Islam offered. That was my point - this sort of confusion is endemic in TEC, and ACoC isn't far behind.

What would you do, if your bishop conformed to all authorized liturgies, and yet preached something that was not Christian?


With regards to your response to Alex, which particular assumptions do you think need challenging?

I don't believe that you have answered his question:

For instance, if there is a pastor who is willing to pour the wine and say "The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the cup of salvation" and then say that you don't really need Jesus to be saved. Well, is it the cup of salvation or is it not? Should we not have a reasonable expectation that those presenting the liturgy have some agreement with what they are saying? What do you do when you believe that they are doing the liturgy with crossed fingers?

Would you please answer it, specifically?


Hi Kate.

What "the bishop of the city where she was living and teaching" said was incredibly silly, and certainly missed the point. The idea of a Muslim - Episcopal priest isn't "exciting," it's self-contradictory. And it is as disrespectful to Islam as it is to Christianity.

It is possible that the bishop really had no idea of what the priest had said and was trying to respond to a question without having the facts. Such responses are often confused and one may be reluctant to condemn what seems condemnable believing that "surely that's not the real situation."

In any event, my assessment of that bishop's comments is generally in line with yours.

Where I differ is on your suggestion that such confused thinking is endemic. It certainly exists. And I've seen more than the odd bit of confused thinking from individuals on all sides. None of us are "on our game" at all times.

Clearly it isn't Christian to say that a Christian can be a Muslim at the same time. Is it "not Christian" to say that one believes the Church may have misinterpreted the mind of Christ and the implication of the gospel with regard to a particular issue?

We need to have a care here, I think. Wilberforce et al challenged the mind of the Church on the settled issue of slavery. I'm sure we both agree that Wilberforce was right and the mind of the Church for the first 1750 years was wrong.

I will agree with you that innovation can be harmful. But if we allow no room for innovative thinking, we run the risk of delimiting the Holy Spirit. Certainly not all innovation is of the Spirit. But some - like Wilberforce's innovative interpretation of the Gospel wrt slavery - certainly is.

"Should we not have a reasonable expectation that those presenting the liturgy have some agreement with what they are saying?"

Yes, one should have a reasonable expectation that all the participants in the liturgy mean what they say.

"What do you do when you believe that they are doing the liturgy with crossed fingers?"

Mere suspicion that they "are doing the liturgy with crossed fingers" is not sufficient. Incontrovertible proof is necessary before we go anywhere.

But, if their intention is "to do what the Church does," that is sufficient for validity. Weaknesses in their own understanding are irrelevant.

That should be sufficiently specific, I hope.

BTW, how did you do the italics?


Weaknesses in their own understanding are irrelevant.

I don't know about irrelevant. God's contractual acceptance of the liturgy aside, if nothing else a weakness in understanding would have to reflect poorly on a seminary's teachings. Those saying "stuff" or having their fingers crossed either haven't learned or are willfully defy what they've been taught.

Again, I'm not Anglican you were.

See here for italics.


"Irrelevant" may have been too strong a word. Certainly faulty understanding is a problem. (Or, at least seriously faulty understanding is a problem. Given that God is all in all and that we are far more limited, I suspect that the soundest understanding of the soundest theologian is still a bit faulty.)

My point was that faulty understanding (or potentially faulty understanding) does not have to get in the way of the business of worship, provided that our intention is "to do what the Church does."


To do italics, you put < i > before the words you want icalicized, and < / i > after, leaving out the spaces.


It is possible that the bishop really had no idea of what the priest had said and was trying to respond to a question without having the facts.

I don't think so. I saw a newspaper article in which the confused bishop and the Muslim/Episcopal priest were standing side by side - I'm pretty sure that's when he was gushing about being excited about the possibilities.

I don't think the slavery comparison is valid. The bible doesn't specifically condone slavery. The presenting issue in this mess is same sex blessings, and the bible does specifically condemn same sex blessings. Not every new thing is bad, true, but you simply cannot justify same sex blessings from scripture.

Mere suspicion that they "are doing the liturgy with crossed fingers" is not sufficient. Incontrovertible proof is necessary before we go anywhere.

Ingham has given that to us, countless times. This is a quote from an online interview:

I said in the book that there is always movement of individuals across faith traditions and that this should be something with which we rejoice and not something to be anxious about. People travel, of course, in both directions -- I've met Muslims in Africa who tell me they used to be Christians, as well as people like your ancestors. I think, as Jesus said "In my Father's house are many mansions", and we must rejoice when people find their spiritual home.

How can you believe that, and not cross your fingers when you say the creeds and do the liturgies?

The interview is here, btw:


I agree with you, Malcolm+, that faulty understanding doesn't have to interfere with the business of worship. At the same time, faulty understanding hampers our ability to know Jesus. When you consider the role of the clergy as shapers of that understanding and it enough to simply inhibit a "confused" member of the clergy? Should it not raise questions of where the confusion began and why it was permitted to continue?

Christ told Pilate, "I came into the world to testify to the truth."

As people trying "to do what the Church does" we are stewards of that purpose.


When dealing with a (for lack of a better word) "confused" cleric such as the "Muslim Episcopalian" priest, there are a number of considerations.

First of all, there is an issue of knowledge. Are those with authority and responsibility aware that there is an issue? It has been known - particularly on the blogosphere - to condemn a bishop for tolerating a thing when in fact the bishop took prompt action upon hearing of the matter. I don't recall the details, but one was a similar case of a "Hindu - Anglican" priest in England.

Second, those in authority need to be prompt - but they also need to be fair. There needs to be a due process for dealing with wayward clergy, whether the sins are theological, liturgical, pastoral administrative or criminal. I am aware of a case of misconduct where the priest was summoned to the bishops office, ordered to seek no advice, denied any appeal and compelled to sign documents. In the case, the outcome was almost certainly correct. The process was appalling - and damaging to all concerned.

On Kate's observation ref: slavery. If the slavery analogy is not sufficient, I offer up usury. Scripture was clear and unequivocal in its condemnation of usury, yet I somehow suspect that all of us are collecting interest on our RRSPs.

If the Church can overturn the clear and indisputable sense of scripture and the consistent teaching of the Church over many centuries on the issue of usury . . .

Again, this is not an argument that the Church SHOULD reassess the teaching on sexuality, but merely an argument that the Church has the CAPACITY to reassess.


As someone who's grown fond of the Anglican Church over the years, and who cheers for her on the sidelines, I recognize the level of importance placed on due process or even just on proper processes in general. That said, I'm continually surprised at the widespread reluctance for those in higher positions of influence to publicly raise the question, "What has brought us to this place?" The process you mention about the Muslim-Episcopalian all focuses on that priest...when does the church reflect upon its own actions in what could potentially, maybe not, be a situation resulting from sloppy criteria for ordination.

I agree with you that Wilberforce started an important process of questioning, I just think that sometimes its tempting to only question select areas. While reassessing teaching on sexuality may seem a most radical area to begin, I suspect it isn't.


I think it could be argued that usury falls under the category of civic law as per article VII, so it no longer applies to us.


Well, I suppose you could argue that. But it is a unique approach.

In any event, I appreciate the largely eirenic tone we've managed to keep in our conversation here. And I appreciate Joseph+'s hospitality in letting us carry on such a lengthy conversation.

I think we've probably gone round the issues a couple of times. I don't think either "side" has convinced the other, but I think (and I hope) that both sides understand each other a little better.

We are now into Holy Week - as a protestant clergical friend of mine puts it, the Liturgical version of the Boston Marathon. So, with respect, I'd like to wrap up this conversation for the time being.

I look forward to revisiting it down the road, either here or somewhere else - we could even do it at simplemassingpriest if anyone were so inclined.

In the mean time, God bless, and thank you for taking the time both to share and to listen.


No, it isn't unique, Malcolm+, it's a common interpretation of the 39 articles, and it's also the reason why the laws about stoning no longer apply but the laws about behaviour do.

Anyway, a blessed Holy Week and Easter to you all. I would appreciate your prayers. I buried my daughter on Holy Saturday seven years ago, and since then, I find it very difficult to rejoice at Easter time.

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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