Friday, 25 June 2004

Online Synod Papers

Report by the Business Committee - July 2004

An initial batch of General Synod papers has been put online today.

GS1540 Report by the Business Committee (79 kB)
GS1542 Making the Synod’s Procedures More Effective (54 kB)
GS1551 Appointments of Chairs (26 kB)
GS1554 Clergy Discipline (Doctrine) (227 kB)
GS1543 Marriage Law Review (86 kB)
GS1541A Alternative Sources of Funding (185 kB)
GS1541 Alternative Sources of Funding for Ordinands in Training (48 kB)

Paper copies of the last three are due to be sent out to members today; the others have already been issued.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 25 June 2004 at 2:16 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: General Synod

GS1554 Clergy Discipline (Doctrine)
The online paper seems to lack the vital information - Appendix III draft Measure (p. 46 onwards). Any news of it?

Overall I think the report tries to be balanced and careful but it still fudges the most vital issues:
1) The report remains vague as to exactly what constitutes doctrine and doctrinal authorities in a legal setting.
2) It doesn’t address the place of the laity in relation to doctrine.
3) Nor does it adequately explore the relationship of university-based theology to parish-based teaching. (Seeking to exclude ordained university teachers from the scope of this legislation - while right - begs a number of further questions.)
4) Although Bishops can appeal against findings they don’t like (on a point of law), the report envisages that the court will have the final say. Presumably if the court determines something that future generations don’t like, legislation will be required to remedy the matter (just as has been the case in the past). Thus the final determination of authentic Christian teaching passes from the bishops to the court (see para. 51).

(And on a point of detail, the present legislation allows a case to be stopped at an early stage if is deemed not in the interests of the church for it to proceed. That appears to have vanished in these proposals.)

In ‘An historical perspective’ the report quotes several commendations of debate and discussion, and not closing down dissension prematurely, as the Anglican way. But this does not happen without deliberate effort.

I would argue that encouraging and managing doctrinal debate, and incorporating the laity extensively, would be a far more effective way of promoting doctrinal vitality - and that it cannot be conducted effectively under the shadow of potential prosecution. This would require skills of political leadership and communication different to those required for a legal ethos.

However, I suspect that a court for doctrinal matters is politically inevitable, and also that to use it will be disatrous.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Sunday, 27 June 2004 at 2:59 PM GMT