Comments: Opinion - 11 November 2017

I enjoyed Bosco's reflections. The Triune nature of our God is so amazing, so wonderful, that it's great that it should permeate our liturgy and day-to-day life.

The idea that God, in all eternity, is a community, a household, is truly majestic. The thought that God longs to open our hearts and souls, and draw us - day by day - into that community and household... simply humbling.

And I think our stumblings, our unknowing, our glimpses of the Trinity... help us recognise in parts that who God is - is a sharing. A shared consciousness, a shared awareness... such as one might encounter in the contemplative experience, when God's perfection comes, and breaks upon us.

To me, there are huge lessons for us to draw from our gaze and wonderings about the Trinity (which as Bosco suggests in a comment below the article may often happen apophatically, at the point where our own tense mental control surrenders).

Lessons about the essential sharing and familial nature of God, and of love and grace. The way God shares, even to the point of the great sacrifice, to draw us towards love. The way individuality is accentuated and made whole and best in shared community and shared awareness. The way the mission of the Church, the activity of the Spirit in the world, is about 'alongsideness' and immersion, about sharing, and opening up of our hearts and souls to the great sharing and familial nature of God.

Dear God, bring us all, I pray, to your eternal household and good estate - and bring us towards you, day by day, as we seek to share, to get alongside, to open our hearts as little conduits of your love. Lord have mercy and heal us. Come great Spirit and wind of God.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 12:30pm GMT

Philip: "a most alarming possibility... perhaps 'unlawful oaths equal unlawful reigns'. Just imagine the constitutional chaos that would ensue! If the Monarch failed to take the oath as required by the 1688 Act and by the Act of Settlement perhaps she is not really Queen. All the laws passed during her long reign will be invalid, since she had no authority to approve them."

As a member of the House of Stuart and descendant of the Stuart Kings and Queens, I'm tempted to cast a wry smile and suggest that a religiously-based usurpation took place, that my family's castle should not have been pulled down, that the King over the Water was a political exile replaced by imposters, and that the precise wording of successive monarch's oaths fail to mask the fact that my family was disempowered because of religious prejudice and the arbitrary imposition of individuals with no imaginable claim to the throne...

...apart from, that is, the democratic will of the people, not fully expressed then, but expressed now - to an extent - in Parliament.

To me, the Coronation Oath (and service) is a contract between ruler, people, and God. It is a reminder that while Parliament rightly defends our democratic well-being, even Parliaments go wrong.

At which point, the divine right of kings and queens is not insubstantial. They retain the right to call or dissolve parliament. They remain conduits of the 'authority' of God, invested not only with legal nicety, but invested with the anointing of the Holy and Eternal God.

Charles I had a point.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 12:53pm GMT

Archbishop Cranmer has found this passage in a recent Church of England safeguarding document:

“For ease of reference this guidance will use the terms ‘victims/survivor’’ and ‘respondent’ without presupposing the accuracy of the complaint.”

“Victim/survivor”does, however, presuppose accuracy.

The fair equivalent to “respondent”—a procedural term that does not imply anything as to the merits—would be “complainant.”

Posted by Barrister at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 1:43pm GMT

Thanks to Martin Sewell for a very helpful piece.

Posted by Janet Fife at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 3:10pm GMT

Re "disagreeing well" and "mutual flourishing"

The fundamental problem with teaching ordinands, or anyone else, to "disagree well" on WO, WB, and LGBTQI equality, is that being a woman or LGBTQI is a state of being and not a "position." So the position of "disagreeing" on the validity of WO, WB, and SSM, is actually an attack on our being. And it is hard to "flourish" under such attacks. Some women and LGBTQI people may have the strength to flourish, but girls, LGBT teens, and other vulnerable people struggle in ways that are not understood by those who simply "hold a position" about the state of being of others.

You can't train ordinands to live comfortably in a conundrum such as this. Ultimately, the choice is whether to do justice for those who are oppressed or coddle those who continue to oppress. You can't do both. You can say that the church is of a mind of acceptance of WO, WB, and affirms the validity of the sacraments administered by women and that conservatives are welcome to participate in church, but are NOT empowered to enforce the exclusive view. The empowerment of exclusion is not "flourishing."

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 8:26pm GMT

Thanks so much for the Bosco Peters article which includes a link to the recent Agreed Statement, The Procession and Work of The Holy Spirit.

Folks interested in some of the history Anglican Orthodox ecumenical dialogue may find a visit to this page on The Anglican Communion website of interest.

The news called to mind the work of a Canadian the late Bishop Henry Hill on Anglican Orthodox dialogue. Hill also had a connection with the Church of England. A short bio piece from Anglican Journal archives may be found here.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 8:53pm GMT

Though (should you be interested) I have taken a rather more dyspeptic (but limited) view of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox agreement than Bosco Peters, not least for it's potential to deny the BCP acts as an unchangeable doctrinal standard.

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Saturday, 11 November 2017 at 11:01pm GMT

"the divine right of kings and queens is not insubstantial. They retain the right to call or dissolve parliament."

Only until they use it. Were a monarch to actually exercise that power, other than as a rubber stamp for the clear desires of an elected parliament or prime minister, then the country would be a republic within six months.

In military theory, a distinction is drawn between fleets in being and fleets that actually put to sea. A fleet in being is able to exert considerable influence by its mere existence, without actually risking itself by putting to sea and risking open battle. It's the same basic idea: the threat of dissolution keeps governments in check, but if it were actually used, its mystery would be lost and force would be assembled to make sure it didn't happen again. Cf. Tirpitz.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 12 November 2017 at 6:37pm GMT

Great naval analogy, IO. Just to stress, my second post - about my claimed Stuart inheritance - was simply good humour.

There is one sovereign country, and only one, where I truly claim my royal identity and heritage. It is an eternal one.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 12 November 2017 at 7:28pm GMT

re Bosco's interesting article on the Filioque Clause, and its relevance, or not, to the ongoing mission of the Church; I cannot see too many of our ordinary people in the pews getting too excited about it - except from the point of view of ongoing efforts to reconcile the Church.

There is no doubt that the charismatic movement in the 1960s did much to enlighten both clergy and laity on the dynamics of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church and the World. Vatican II was one of its fruits (now in recess in some parts of the Church!). However, any attempt to separate out the Persons of the Godhead might be construed by many as fruitless speculation, when the rest of the world is losing any idea of the existence of God at all. The Church needs theologians, but it needs, even more urgently, pastors with the love of God in their hearts for people.

Is this because we are often seen to be navel-gazing when the world needs more than academic philosophy - or even theology?

"By their fruits you shall know them"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 12 November 2017 at 8:53pm GMT

Jesus asked us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, that is a triune response, mirroring the three-fold nature of the Trinity. Most Christians have few, if any, direct encounters with God the Father. Ron says that the Filioque debate is theological navel-gazing but for me it is much more dangerous because the debate, as presented by both sides, encourages us to rely upon our minds to ascertain the nature of God the Father rather than encouraging us to engage with Him with our hearts and souls too.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 13 November 2017 at 4:11am GMT

Re Father Ron, "The Church needs theologians, but it needs, even more urgently, pastors with the love of God in their hearts for people."

Ron, I agree completely. The church needs pastors with the love of God in their hearts for people. Reaching out to people in love follows the example of God. As Bernard Lonergan noted in his reflections on Faith (Method in Theology p. 115 ff.) "Will I live out the gift of [God's] love or will I hold back, turn away withdraw? Only secondarily do there arise the questions of God's existence and nature, and they are the questions of the lover seeking to know [God] or the unbeliever seeking to escape him."

However, theologians have an important calling which serves edification of the body of Christ applying their skills to problem solve, to help Christians over come the pain of division and exclusion, then they build up the body in love.

I grew up in a community that was deeply divided along denominational lines at every turn, politics, education, health care, and family. Ecumenism transformed much of that and helped to overcome alienation. The first movement of ecumenism is spirit. In one sense, ecumenism is not the creature of agreed statements, rather agreed statements are a creation of ecumenism.

Additionally, common liturgical texts are a helpful witness, a work within a larger movement; but developing them requires a skill set--gifts of The Spirit which ought not to be minimized.

The Canadian Church decided at General Synod in 1980 to no longer include filioque going forward. Canadians using our de facto liturgy (B.A.S.) say The Creed without filioque--as we did yesterday in our parish.

Love allows us to grasp that something which may not be a burning issue for me is, nonetheless, important in another's culture.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 13 November 2017 at 3:33pm GMT

Doug Chaplin refers to the BCP as our unchangeable doctrinal statement. In the Church of Australia it remains, with the Articles, the standard of worship and doctrine. However, the requirement to subscribe to every statement in the BCP was abolished as long ago at 1865. (Dean Stanley tells the story of the long campaign to achieve that change). It was replaced by a general assent never legally defined.

I assent to the BCP and the Articles and the Creeds in so far as they are in accord with the Scriptures - and reason and what we know so far of the world around us and inside us - and the Scriptures in so far as they are in accord with the heart of the teaching of the Prophets (Micah...what does the Lord require) and affirmed by our Lord (love or care for God through love or care for neighbour - all that is needed in order to "live" and find eternal life - St Luke 10.25-28). For me - and for earlier members of our Church ranging from Bishop Colenso to G.W.Lampe in "God as Spirit" - and for our Lord himself (for whom the patristic creeds would have been utterly mystifying) I think that is enough. (What they call for in any particular situation is another matter). So even if I were still easily able to stand for any of those creeds, I don't think I would !

Posted by John Bunyan at Tuesday, 14 November 2017 at 1:47am GMT
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