Thursday, 8 July 2004

CEN/AM attacks continue

Last week, the CEN published this feature article by Colin Russell:
St Albans - A Worm’s Eye View

This week, the CEN publishes a news story:
Evangelicals to shun Bishop of St Albans

As is customary when Nick Bell is involved, absolutely no names or even verifiable numbers are provided in support of any claim. I personally saw many evangelical clergy at the installation service though no doubt a few were absent.

Andrew Carey the author of that story now has his own blog here which contains his CEN column for the week that also discusses St Albans: The Church of England breaks trust.

And over at AM, one finds explicitly anonymous attacks like this one.

When dealing with Philip Giddings this is what one expects. He was after all responsible for the outright lies contained in the AM petition.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 July 2004 at 1:47 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: St Albans

Simon, last week you considered Colin Russell’s article a ‘personal attack’ on the Bishop of St Alban’s when it specifically condemned personal attacks and engaged only with his ideas. You are now accusing people of outright lies. You seem to be taking these disagreements very personally.

As the person responsible for the report in the CEN, I can only say that I have spoken to a number of evangelical clergy in the last month or so who are determined to find some way of not receiving the ministrations of the Bishop of St Albans in future. Whether this will be in open rebellion or quiet deals is yet to be seen. Furthermore, there are no numbers yet for any continuing ‘campaign’, if there is to be one, in St Albans because the DEF has not met since the installation.

Casting slurs on the integrity of others, when at the same time deploring so-called attacks on your bishop, smacks of double standards.

Posted by: Andrew Carey at July 8, 2004 03:56 PM

Simon, I wonder how orthodox believers are supposed to participate in “dialogue” with revisionists on matters of sexuality and Christian discipline, if the revisionists are allowed to make grand and unsubtantiated allegations (as the Bishop of St. Albans did), often with a subtle undercurrent of dismissal toward those who differ (on the grounds that they are less educated or less intelectually rigorous); and then when evangelical or catholic Christians respond with academic rigour, they are accused of ad-hominum attacks, and again dismissed. Is it not possible, Simon, that there is a certain arrogance, in insisting that one is more clever than the consensus of Christians around the world and across the centuries? And is it not likely, that the best demonstration that such presumption is nonetheless with integrity, would be an open and respectful (as the AM paper appears to be) though pointed participation in dialogue? In my seminary years, I noticed that the liberals had never read the conservatives, nor were they even familiar with the patristics or the reformers (except for favorite quotes gleaned from second-hand sources and, more often than not, taken out of context). On the other hand, the conservatives perhaps partly because they were in the academically disenfranchised minority and had to “swim upstream” always knew the Christian tradition, and also all the publications of the liberals. (My professors would write in the margins of my papers, “Where did you get these articles? Bring them in to me.”) Up to now, I thought you were at least making an effort at being informed. Now even you seem to be reverting to the tired and self-defeating rebukes of revisionism. I do agree, though, that it is unfortunate the AM article is “Anon.” Perhaps the person is intimidated by the liberal blitzkrieg?

Posted by: Chris McMullen at July 9, 2004 12:26 AM

Can we please speak in consensus terms?

Liberal and Conservative ARE such terms (that is, liberals agree they are “liberals,” and conservatives agree they are “conservatives”). Orthodox and Revisionist are NOT such mutually-agreed to terms (a liberal may I.D. as “orthodox”—-as I myself do—-just as a conservative may I.D. as “orthodox” also). I’m very concerned that “Evangelical” and “Anglo-Catholic” are being equated—-in a non-consensual way—-with “Conservative” also.

It is orthodoxy, above all, which is being contested. One would have to be deaf to the rising din to believe otherwise. If we are to turn this din into dialogue, we have to acknowledge that “all Anglicans are not of one mind” as to what orthodoxy is.

Put more bluntly: are you (anyone) comfortable in calling me a m*therf*cker? If not, then don’t call me a “revisionist”. Thank you.

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher at July 11, 2004 09:15 PM

I agree with J. Collins Fisher that part of Christian hosptality and community is to seek to describe others in ways that THEY recognize and think are fair. A number of my friends abhor the term revisionist and therefore I do not use it to designate their position.

I myself have tried the two terms “reappraiser” and “reasserter” as an attempt to describe the two positions without bringing in terms that seem to hinder rather than help the conversation.

A couple of additional points. I do NOT agree that Liberal and Conservative are agreed upon terms, alas. Speaking from an American perspective, these terms connote things from the political arena which are then unhelpfully carried over into the church debate. For example, MANY Episcopal “conservatives” are quite “liberal” politically.

The other matter has to do with fairness. If J. Collins Fisher gets to designate how he wishes to describe himself—and it is NOT as a revisionist and I would not call him such—then does then same courtesy extend to someone in a different place? But I notice “conservatives” are VERY often not extended this courtesy: being called “ultraconservatives,” or “traditionalists,” for example. They, too, are inaccurate and unhelpful.

Posted by: Kendall Harmon at July 12, 2004 02:45 AM

I welcome your response, Kendall. Still, it begs the question of just how we can find mutually-agreed upon terms (though I can cite the example of the Common Ground Project re abortion: the term “human fetus” was agreed to by the dialogue participants, as a compromise between the Pro-Choicers’ “fetus” and the Pro-Lifers’ “unborn child”).

What’s wrong w/ “revisionist”? Well, I admit, it largely stems from the context. That is, when used by someone who does not support the full-inclusion of LGBT people in all the sacraments of the Church (inc. ordination and marriage), “revisionist” to me conveys the sense of “revising the essential Truth.” Obviously, that’s not an attribution I can accept. I would characterize my application of Scripture, Tradition and Reason as “non-bigoted” or “non-prejudiced,” but I doubt that . . . well, those like yourself, Kendall, would probably be very happy w/ the implications of my characterization.

There does seem to be a clash of Absolutes here, and I don’t know how to find a way around it. If, as LGBT Christians claim, God MADE LGBT people as they are (that is, made them for—-and blesses them in—-the same kind of monogamous sexual relationships as He does heterosexuals), then efforts to refuse the Church’s blessing to them are irredeemably an affront to God. If, however, God did not so create them—-if the self-identification as LGBT amounts to either a Fall from their created (gender-normal) heterosexuality, or “a cross” which conveys an automatic call to celibacy (perhaps both?)—-then the attempt to have the Church sacramentally bless their monogamous relationships (or ordain individuals who claim the right to such relationships) is, without question, an attempt at a “revision” of the most basic sort.

Each side has the same Scriptures, and the same deposit of Tradition. We must assume each side has equal gifts, and deployment, of Reason. Ergo, we must conclude that both sides are operating “in Good Faith.” Nevertheless, each side has come to a very different discernment of the Mind of God.

This is the most excruciating (pun intended!) kind of cognitive dissonance: how can you fail to see what is so clear to me? How can I fail to see what is so clear to you?

Can we bear our excruciating crosses—-rather, can I bear your excruciating cross, while you bear mine? As Christ’s Body, The Church is Eternally Perfect, but the very human institution of the Anglican Communion—-like all those other human denominations, who may call themselves “The Church” I might add!—-will stand or fall (rise on the Third Day, or not) on whether we can, in true charity, shoulder each other’s burdens.


Posted by: J. Collins Fisher at July 12, 2004 10:52 PM


As regards the claim of “outright lies” over the Anglican Mainstream petition, do you want to go and chat to Herman Browne at the Archbishop’s Office for Communion Affairs as to whether he has any concern over the veracity of the names and contact details that Rowan received? Not that I want to accuse you of libel, but saying, on a public publishment, that someone has lied is not the most clever of things to do.

Posted by: Peter O at July 13, 2004 10:23 AM


Do you accept then that the continued use of the term ‘Orthodox’ by groups such as Anglican Mainstream is unhelpful as far as diologue is concerned and hardly promoting a sense of “Christian hosptality and community”.

And Peter / Andrew - I find it unbelieveable that you continue to regard the claim that “Anglican Mainstream gained the backing of over 13 million Anglicans to an online petition” as the truth. Most of those 13 million didn’t even know the petition existed. If your Bishop or Archbishop signed a petition on your behalf would he be telling the truth if he claimed that that the petition had ‘gained your backing’?

Posted by: Dave W at July 13, 2004 12:50 PM

Dave W. wrote:
If your Bishop or Archbishop signed a petition on your behalf would he be telling the truth if he claimed that that the petition had ‘gained your backing’?

Rather like the way the AAC bishops in the U.S. have signed their dioceses up for “The Network” so that they can claim X number of Episcopalians “support” the Network. e.g. Bishop Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth, TX. As seen on the Fort Worth Via Media site, this certainly isn’t the case in reality… ;)

Posted by: David Huff at July 15, 2004 03:51 PM

Am I reading the Anonymous attack on the Bishop’s sermon correctly? Yes, the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour was physical. Is it then philosophically necessary that our resurrection will be the same? Are we and Jesus that similiar?

I wish someone had told me I was just like Jesus.

Posted by: Gambit at July 19, 2004 04:18 PM