The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why the Church Should Not Perform Same-Sex Blessings

An Exercise in Stating the Obvious


But unto the ungodly saith God, ‘Why dost thou preach my laws, and takest my covenant in thy mouth; Whereas thou hatest to be reformed, and hast cast my words behind thee? When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst unto him, and hast been partaker with the adulterers. Thou does let thy mouth speak wickedness, and with thy tongue dost set forth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother, and dost slander thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest that I am even such a one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set before thee the things that thou hast done. Psalm 50:16-21. (1)

Early in the sixteenth century, the Parliament of England under King Henry VIII passed a number of Acts which took the Church of England out from under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope. While this was done for base reasons – to allow the king to divorce a wife, whom he had no Scriptural grounds to divorce, and whom he had needed special ecclesiastical permission to marry in the first place – it had the effect of correcting, at least in England, the great wrong that had been done to the Western Church when the Bishop of Rome had, against the doctrines and traditions of the undivided early Church, asserted his supremacy over the entire Church.

This act of government contained much that is worthy of condemnation, as well as much that is worthy of praise, but it created for the English Church a unique opportunity, the opportunity to carry out the reforms that Luther and Calvin were calling for in continental Europe within a Church that had full organizational and organic continuity with that established by Christ and His Apostles in the first Century. She was not a sect or denomination started up from scratch, by reformers excommunicated by corrupt ecclesiastical authorities, like several of her counterparts on the Continent. She consisted of the same parishes, in the same dioceses, under the same bishops in Apostolic succession, after the Act of Supremacy that she had consisted of before. She administered the same sacraments, and recognized the same creeds – Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian.

Once she was removed from Roman control she gradually introduced some important and much needed reforms. The liturgy was translated into the beautiful English of the Book of Common Prayer, a series of official vernacular translations of the Bible culminated in the majestic King James Version of 1611, and, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, in which the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures was asserted, as was the Scriptural truth that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, without any help from our own efforts, was produced as the Church’s confession of faith. She became a Church that was both reformed and catholic, which asserted the great truths of the Reformation, while being part of the “One, Holy, Apostolic, and Catholic Church” in every sense, being in organic continuity with the undivided Church that had produced the Creed from which those words were taken, back in the fourth century AD.

The unique situation of the Church of England, made it possible for her to possess the strengths and enjoy the blessings of both Catholicism and Protestantism. It also made her vulnerable to the weaknesses and failings of both. Both the strengths and weaknesses of both the Catholic tradition and the reformed faith have manifested themselves repeatedly throughout Anglican history. She has experienced vast periods of spiritual death and dryness and often been plagued with Erastianism and simony but has also been frequently blessed with revival, including both the evangelical revival led by the Wesleys in the eighteenth century and the Catholic revival led by the Oxford Tractarians (2) in the nineteenth century.

Today there is a trend in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, that violates both components of the Anglican tradition. I refer to the movement to reverse traditional and Scriptural teachings about homosexuality.

This movement is several decades old. The organization that, with an irony it does not recognize, calls itself Integrity Canada, (3) and which exists for the express purpose of promoting acceptance of homosexuality within the Anglican Church of Canada, was first organized in 1975 according to its website. Its American parent organization had been founded the year previously. My paternal grandmother received The Mustard Seed, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brandon, and I would read it whenever I visited her. I don’t recall exactly when I started reading these, just that it was in the eighties some time, but I do remember that the largest part of the letters to editor section always seemed to consist of arguments about homosexuality. More recently, a number of dioceses have passed resolutions at their synods asking their bishops to authorize the use of rites blessing same-sex relationships, despite a moratorium on the subject that is supposed to be in place, having been agreed upon at the national synod. Beginning in 2002 with Michael Ingham in the Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia, several bishops have granted their concurrence to these resolutions. On November 1st of this year, our own Bishop Donald Phillips issued his concurrence to such a resolution, (4) which had passed by majority of over two-thirds a couple of weeks earlier at the 111th synod of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. (5)

This problem is not limited to the Anglican Church, of course. It is present in many other denominations as well. The United Church of Canada, the denomination in which I grew up, began ordaining openly homosexual clergy back in the late 1980s and performs same-sex marriages. Same-sex blessings are available in many other mainstream Protestant denominations as well. The reasons that we will be looking at as to why this sort of thing should not be done apply to all Christian Churches.

One major reason for this is the influence of the surrounding culture upon the Church. In previous ages limitations and restrictions upon human desires were regarded as necessary for basic human survival as well as for any sort of higher civilization. The modern way of thinking is very different to this. In the modern age, human happiness came to be conceived of in terms of the fulfillment of the individual’s every desire and limitations upon those desires, even if those limitations were natural, came to be regarded as obstacles to be overcome. Modern science and technology were bent towards this goal of the elimination of limitations upon human desire. (6) In the period just before and after World War II, the intellectual foundations were laid for a revolution against traditional restraints upon human sexuality. (7) It did not take long for that revolution to materialize. In 1953 Hugh Hefner founded Playboy Magazine which would proclaim the message of sexual liberation to heterosexual males. Ten years later, the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique launched the second wave of feminism, the so-called “Women’s Liberation Movement” which had as one of its objectives the promotion among women of the same liberation from traditional restraints upon sexuality for women that the “Playboy philosophy” was promoting among men. Meanwhile, during the 40’s and 50’s, Marxist intellectuals had been at work in the universities, undermining their students’ respect for parental and other traditional authority by teaching that the traditional culture was hopelessly corrupt, hypocritical, based upon greed, and the source of injustice, oppression, and war, and planting in their students’ minds the seeds of rebellion. When these seeds produced fruit in the “counter-cultural” student rebellion movement of the 1960’s, one of the expressions of this “counter-culture” was the “free love” that the philosophical enemies of Christianity had been calling for centuries. The sexual revolution was underway, empowered by the technological development of effective and inexpensive birth control. (8)

The sexual revolution wrought a change in the prevailing attitude towards homosexuality in the secular culture. At first this new attitude was a liberal attitude of tolerance. Then it became a politically correct attitude. So-called political correctness refers to the late twentieth century phenomenon, in which the force of social and cultural pressure is used to the maximum degree to enforce the replacement of traditional ideas with modern, egalitarian, ideas. In this case the liberal attitude of tolerance towards homosexuality as an “alternative lifestyle” to the norm of heterosexual marriage developed into the politically correct attitude that full social and cultural acceptance of homosexuality is a basic human right of homosexuals, that to deny them that full acceptance is to perpetuate an historical injustice, and that the traditional idea that homosexuality is sinful must be driven from polite society and rejected as “homophobia”.

It is in this cultural context that the movement within the Church to reverse traditional and Scriptural teachings on homosexuality and have the Church bless same-sex relationships came into existence. It is regrettable that the decaying, surrounding culture would have such influence in the Church as to cause its leaders to seek to alter Church teaching and practice to conform to the decay in explicit disobedience to St. Paul’s injunction to the Church in Rome:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may truly prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

In fairness to those pushing for this change, many of them feel that they are following Jesus’ example and simply practicing the love Jesus so frequently commanded His disciples to practice. Jesus, they point out, was harshly criticized by the religious people of His day, for “eating with sinners”. That is true, but they fail to acknowledge the difference between what they are doing and what Jesus did, a difference far larger than any similarity. Jesus did not shun the company of sinners, but He did not condone sin either, much less bless it. He called the sinner to repentance and forgiveness.

The leaders of the movement to have the Church institute a rite of blessing for same-sex relationships also see themselves as continuing the Anglican tradition of accommodation for theological differences. In the Anglican tradition, so long as one conformed to the Elizabethan Settlement and did not rock the boat, there was a great deal of leeway to interpret the tradition in either a more Catholic (High Church) or a more Protestant (Low Church) way.

The movement towards same-sex blessings, however, violates both sides of classical Anglicanism.

During the reign of Elizabeth I, Richard Hooker, the Master of the Temple Church in London and later the rector of St. Mary the Virgin in Bishopbourne, Kent, wrote a multi-volume treatise defending the organization, practices, and teachings of the Church of England against the attacks of the Puritans. The Puritans were radical Protestants, and in many cases republicans who used their religious zeal to cloak their seditious activities, who wished to see the abolition of the office of bishop, the reorganization of the Church of England along the model of the Church John Calvin had established in Geneva, and every ritual and practice that resembled those of the Roman Church abolished unless a clear text commanding them could be found somewhere in Scriptures. In Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Hooker answered the Puritans by arguing that just because the Scriptures do not command something, does not mean that they forbid it and that in fact, it is the reverse of this that was the case. In making this argument, Hooker upheld the final authority of Scripture, but also gave weight to tradition and reason. Since then, the idea of an appeal to the three-fold authority of Scripture, tradition, and reason has been a basic element of Anglican theology.

The Catholic side of Anglicanism emphasizes tradition, the Protestant side emphasizes the Scriptures. These are complementary rather than contradictory emphases. Tradition is that which is handed down or passed on. In the Scriptures, St. Paul commanded the Church in Thessalonica to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” and described the Gospel as a tradition to the Corinthian Church when he introduced it with the words “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.” The Holy Scriptures themselves are a tradition – we have them because the Church has faithfully passed them down to us through the centuries. The traditions of any organic community have, within that community, what we call prescriptive authority, that is authority backed by the weight of ancient use. This is true of the traditions of the Church which, as the Body of Christ, is the most organic of communities. The Holy Scriptures have a greater authority than that, however, for they are the written Word of God and therefore speak with God’s own authority.

Same-sex blessings, violate both tradition and Scripture. The movement to affirm and bless same-sex relationships is only a few decades old and the weight of two thousand years of Church tradition, from the Apostles to the present, is against it. It is not a matter of updating the tradition or bringing it into the twenty-first century. Some change is necessary, in any tradition, in order to keep the tradition alive, but that does not mean that a tradition can survive any and every kind of change.

The difference between a change that preserves a tradition and a change that destroys a tradition can be illustrated with the analogy of translation. In the Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer translated “Credo in unum Deum, Patrem Omnipoténtem, Factórem cæli et terræ, Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium”, the first section of the Nicene Creed, as “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” This translation accurately and faithfully expresses the essence of the Latin text in English. If however, we were to render it as “I feel in touch with a higher power or powers, that you can call God if you like, who is Father/Mother over our process of becoming” we would destroy its essential meaning altogether.

The introduction of same-sex blessings is the latter kind of change. It does not just introduce a new practice that had not previously been a part of the tradition, nor is it merely an updating of style, form, and appearance that leaves the essence of the tradition intact. If the Church blesses erotic relationships between people of the same sex it is blessing what the tradition up until now has condemned as sinful. Since this change also goes against the teachings of Scripture it should not be considered at all, but even were it not the case that it went against Scripture a change of this magnitude should only ever be considered when a case can be made that the change is absolutely necessary, should never be made with haste, and should only ever be undertaken after every factor has been reflected upon at length and with the utmost caution. (9) In this case, however, the cause of same-sex blessings has been aggressively pursued by activists determined to see the change happen regardless of what Scripture, tradition, and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada have to say.

Of course many of these activists maintain that same-sex blessings are not really contrary to the teachings of Scripture after all. Let us now briefly examine the validity of the arguments they use to support this counter-intuitive idea.

In the Torah, God says rather plainly “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

Now those who wish to affirm and bless same-sex relationships will point out that this commandment is part of the Mosaic Code which contains plenty of things Christians don’t follow today, such as animal sacrifices, dietary restrictions that prohibit the eating such things as pork and shellfish, and the Jewish calendar of feasts, and argue that since we are not bound by these parts of the Mosaic Code we should not be found by this verse either.

There are several major flaws in that argument.

First, the Christian Church has New Testament Scriptural authority for not following these other parts of the Mosaic Code. The Book of Hebrews explains that the Old Testament sacrificial system was given as an illustration of the one, ultimate, sacrifice, which would effectively take away the sins of the world, the death of Jesus Christ on the cross (Hebrews. 9:12-10:18). The tenth chapter of the Book of Acts records how St. Peter was given a vision in which he was commanded to eat animals that were unclean under the Mosaic Code but which he was told were now clean.

Second, the New Testament does not lift the commandment in Leviticus 18:22 but rather reinforces it. In his first epistle to Timothy, St. Paul identifies “them that defile themselves with mankind” as being among the “lawless and disobedient” who are the reason we need laws, in his first epistle to the Corinthian Church he says that “the effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, and in his epistle to the Church in Rome he describes same-sex erotic relationships among both sexes as “vile affections” that God gives people up to once they turn from worshipping Him to worshipping idols (1 Timothy 1:9-10,1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-27).

Third, when God gave the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law, His given reason for doing so was to make the Israelites a holy people, i.e., to set them apart from other peoples and mark them as belonging to Him. In the eleventh chapter of Leviticus, for example, where He says which animals are clean and which are unclean, He follows up the instructions by saying “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” (v. 44) While we often think of holiness in terms of purity, the primary meaning of the word is “separateness.” He does not say that the other nations are doing wrong in eating the animals that He describes as “unclean” for the Israelites, and in fact in the ninth chapter of Genesis He told the human race after the Flood that He was giving them all birds, fish, and beasts to eat, and made no distinction there between clean and unclean.

This is not the case with the commandments in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus. This chapter opens with God speaking to Moses and instructing him to tell the Israelites that they are not to do the things that were done in Egypt and Canaan but are to follow the judgements and ordinances of the Lord; then He lists several specific things they are not to do, after which He declares:

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. (vv. 24-30)

This sort of language is never used of the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Code that are set aside as requirements for Christians in the New Testament. The Sabbath, the dietary laws, the holy days, etc. were enjoined upon Israel to set her apart and mark her as belonging to God. There is not a trace of condemnation for anyone outside of Israel for not following these commandments. When the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles integrated into the Church alongside Jewish believers, these commandments are set aside.

The practices forbidden in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, however, have defiled the Canaanites and their land, have brought God’s judgement upon these people, and will bring a similar judgement upon the Israelites if they practice them. Compare this chapter with the twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy. In this chapter God gives Israel His instructions as to how they are to conduct themselves in war. The Israelites are commanded, when they go against a city, to make overtures of peace and only to fight if the offer of peace is rejected. This rule, however, did not apply to cities belonging to the nations then living in the land God had promised to Israel. These were to be utterly destroyed to the last living soul in order “That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods.” The practices forbidden in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus are these abominations, which are so abhorrent that God ordered Israel to annihilate the nations that practiced them lest they be tainted with them. (10)

Clearly, therefore, the acts prohibited in that chapter are not described in the Scriptures as being merely mala prohibita for the Israelites, i.e., wrong only because the law forbids them and subject to change in the law, but as mala in se, wicked in and of themselves. The only thing left to those who believe the Church should be blessing same-sex relationships and who don’t want to be perceived as casting Biblical authority aside, is to argue that the particular kind of same-sex relationships they wish to see affirmed and blessed are somehow different from those condemned in Scripture.

Those who make that argument, claim that the passages condemning homosexual acts in the Bible, are only talking about homosexual promiscuity, prostitution, rape, and ritual homosexuality in connection with idolatrous worship. They claim that committed, loving, monogamous same-sex relationships are not mentioned in Scripture and are therefore not condemned. This is a very dubious argument. Even if we accepted the questionable claim that the Greek words used in verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 have a narrow meaning that covers only specific types of homosexuality, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind” is rather clear and lacking in exceptions and qualifications. A much stronger Scriptural case than this should be required if the Church is going to make a decision to alter two thousand years of Christian doctrine and practice. (11)

The decision to bless same-sex relationships is a wrong decision. It goes against both Scripture and tradition, and indeed, indicates that for many in the Church the authority of Scripture, tradition, and reason has been replaced with that of emotion, popular sentiment, and what is socially in vogue. It is a major alteration of an ancient tradition, made without a compelling necessity or the prudence, caution, and restraint appropriate to changes of this magnitude. It is an assault upon the unity, holiness, Catholicity, and Apostolicity of the Church, since it is a divisive decision which conforms the Church to a rapidly decaying and corrupt culture, in rejection of the doctrine of the Apostles which has been taught and believed everywhere, in all times, and by everyone throughout the Church. (12)

After the Diocese of New Westminster became the first diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada to approve these same-sex blessings, Ted and Virginia Byfield, commenting on the event, noted that the Anglican Church has long consisted of what they call the "Establishment Church", which "represents anything conventional opinion happens to approve at the time", and the "Dissident Church", including both High and Low wings, which "represents Jesus Christ".  "All of Anglicanism's great achievements--and there have been many--were the work of the Dissidents", the Byfields declared, and noted that whenever the Establishment party was in control, the Anglican Church declined, but when it was led by the Dissidents,"it invariably prosperes". (13)

For much of the last century, since the 1930 Lambeth Confrence where the Anglican Communion had the dubious distinction of being the first Church to break with the two thousand year Christian consensus against artificial contraception, the Establishment Wing has led the Church into making one stupid decision after another to conform with an increasingly anti-Christian, corrupt and progressive culture.   It is time for the Dissidents to lead the Church again, before the Establishment Wing eliminates every last vestige of recognizable Christianity from her.

(1) From the Psalter in the 1962, Canadian revision of the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer takes its Psalter from the Great Bible of 1539, which was a revision of the Tyndale Bible intended for official use in the Church of England. As the official, authorized, Bible of the Church of England, it was replaced by first the Bishop’s Bible and then the King James Bible, long before the standard 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer was published, but the Psalter in the prayer book remained that of the Great Bible.

(2) John Henry Newman, John Keble, Edward Pusey, etc..

(3) The name comes from the way this organization translates Psalm 84:11. This verse states that God will withhold no good thing from “them that walk uprightly”. They replace the “walk uprightly” that appears in the Authorized Bible and most other translations with “walk with integrity”.

(4) http://www.rupertsland.ca/wp-content/uploads/Synod-res-B-3-Final-Concurrence-21.pdf

(5) http://www.rupertsland.ca/wp-content/uploads/Minutes-of-Synod-2012-authorized-version.pdf

(6) Canadian philosophical conservative George Grant was a noted critic of modernity and technology. Influenced by the ideas of Martin Heidegger, Simone Weil, Leo Strauss, and Jacques Ellul, he argued that technology, the blending of science and art, was the means whereby modern man accomplished two questionable goals – casting off traditional restraints upon the passions and asserting imperial domination over nature, himself, and his fellow man. This pops up constantly throughout his writings and, in a CBC interview with David Cayley, later published in George Grant in Conversation (Concord: Anansi Press, 1995), Grant said, regarding Pope John Paul II, “I have some sympathy for him in what he is trying to oppose, something which is absolutely central to modernity: the emancipation of the passions”

(7) Beginning with Margaret Mead’s The Coming of Age in Samoa in 1928, the school of Cultural Anthropology founded by Franz Boaz began producing “studies” of tribal societies in which restraints upon sexuality were absent, resulting supposedly, in a peaceful, harmonious, idyllic, existence. In 1948 and 1953, Alfred Kinsey’s reports on human sexuality were published, the findings of which suggested that deviation from heterosexual monogamy was more widespread that previously thought. In 1955, Herbert Marcuse, a Frankfurt School neo-Marxist teaching at Columbia University, published his Eros and Civilization, a response of sorts to Sigmund Freud’s 1930 Civilization and Its Discontents, challenging Freud’s conclusion that restrictions on sexuality are essential to civilization, answering Freud’s unanswered question of whether civilization is worth the price with a no, and calling for the elimination of restraints upon sexuality. In recent decades, the methodology and the conclusions of both the Boaz school of Anthropology and the Kinsey Reports have been shown to be deeply flawed. See Dr. Derek Freedman’s Margaret Mead in Samoa: the Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, (Harvard University Press, 1983) and The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research, (Basic Books, 1999) and regarding the Kinsey Reports, Dr. Judith G. Reisman’s Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People, (Lafayette: Huntington House, 1990) and Sexual Sabotage: How One Mad Scientist Unleashed a Plague of Corruption and Contagion on America (WND Books, 2010).

(8) This development empowered the sexual revolution, because it allowed the revolutionaries to argue that since technology had now made it possible to have sexual intercourse without the fear of an unwanted pregnancy, the old rules governing sexual conduct were obsolete and could be eliminated. The obvious flaw in this argument is that prevented inconvenient pregnancies was not the only reason for the old rules. Another flaw can be inferred from the fact that the demand for the lifting of restrictions upon abortion increased after the invention of the birth control pill.

(9) Richard Hooker wrote “For the world will not endure to hear that we are wiser than any have been which went before. In which consideration there is cause why we should be slow and unwilling to change, without very urgent necessity, the ancient ordinances, rites, and long approved customs, of our venerable predecessors. The love of things ancient doth argue stayedness, but levity and want of experience maketh apt unto innovations.” Of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, chapter vii, 3. This can be found on page 90 of Volume 2, of The Works of Richard Hooker, the 2010 print-on-demand edition, arranged by Michael Russell from John Keble’s 1836 edition. If this is the case with regards to the customs and ceremonies of the Church, how much more so is it the case of her ethical teachings.

(10)The account of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the nineteenth chapter of Genesis, is not sufficient in itself to establish that same-sex erotic relationships are intrinsically sinful, because it was rape the men of Sodom were intent upon, and someone could always argue that it was only the intended rape and not the fact that it was same-sex that was deemed wicked. Although the counterargument could be made that if that were the case, Lot’s offer of his daughters as a substitute makes little sense, God did tell the prophet Ezekiel to say that the sin of Sodom consisted of pride, arrogance, greed, idleness, and neglect and indifference to the needy, as well as sexual perversion (Ezekiel 16:49-50). Nevertheless, when the account of Sodom is compared to the very similar account, at the end of the Book of Judges, of the Benjamites of Gibeah, a point can be made that reinforces what we have seen about the seriousness of the prohibitions in the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus. Sodom and Gomorrah, were cities in Canaan, judged for their wickedness in the days of Abraham. The Book of Judges, begins by telling how the Israelities failed to carry out God’s commandment regarding the nations of Canaan but had instead made peace treaties with many of them, and how as a result they were led astray into committing the abominations of these nations. This began a cyclical pattern of their falling into these abominations, being judged by God, repenting and being restored, and then falling again, which is well established in the Book of Judges and which continues throughout the Old Testament history. In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Judges, there is an account in which a Levite, travelling with his servant and his concubine, enters the Benjamite city of Gibeah and accepts the hospitality of an Ephraimite who lives there. The men of Gibeah, recreate the sin of Sodom by besieging the house, and demanding that the Levite be turned over to them that they “may know him.” The Levite’s concubine is turned over to them and the incident results in a civil war in which the tribe of Benjamin is reduced to six hundred men. The point of this narrative, placed at the end of the Book of Judges, is that the Israelites, having been ensnared by the sinful ways of the nations they had failed to destroy, had become the new Sodom.

(11) I have said nothing about the third traditional Anglican authority, reason. This is not because I think the decision to bless same-sex relationships is reasonable. The decision was made to conform to a culture, in which “male” and “female” are regarded as malleable categories, to be defined by each individual for him/her/itself, in which a person’s sex is regarded as something that can be changed through surgery but his “sexual orientation” is an unchangeable destiny, fixed in stone from birth, in which those who express their belief that homosexual acts are sinful in an irenic fashion are accused of “hate” in words full of anger, vulgarity, and contempt by those who claim to believe in tolerance and love. That is hardly a rational choice.

(12) “Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est” is the canon of fifth century St. Vincent of Lerins, a traditional brief way of explaining how to identify the small-o orthodox or small-c catholic faith.

(13) Ted and Virginia Byfield, "As goes the Royal Bank, so goes  Canada's Anglican Church, the slave of social conformity", Report Newsmagazine, National Edition, July 8, 2002, p. 51



4 comments:

  1. Thanks very much for an *excellent* piece which reveals an appreciation of the Anglican tradition which I certainly share.

    "For much of the last century... the Establishment Wing has led the Church into making one stupid decision after another to conform with an increasingly anti-Christian, corrupt and progressive culture. It is time for the Dissidents to lead the Church again, before the Establishment Wing eliminates every last vestige of recognizable Christianity from her."

    I agree in the short term - but up to the mid-twentieth century there was a theologically valid middle ground based on the Book of Common Prayer - and (among writers I know) epitomized by Maurice, HH Kelly, C.S Lewis and Charles Williams.

    This was displaced, I believe, by the liberalization of the then-dominant Anglo-Catholic intellectuals - who were socialists; perhaps especially Charles Gore and the collection of essays (which I have not myself read) called Lux Mundi - this looks, in retrospect, like the beginning of the end - either that or the debacle of the 1928 Prayer Book revision which was an example of Anglo-Catholic over-reach.

    So the C of E is now hollowed out - with only the (very small number of remaining) *serious* Anglo Catholics, and the Conservative Evangelicals (e.g. those associated with All Souls Langham Place, and in in the Reform group - but not the liberal evangelicals like Justin Welby)...

    Aside from a handful of Prayer Book traditionalists (like Peter Mullin), only these are real Christians; while all others (including the mass of Anglo Catholics and evangelicals) are Leftists first and Christians only where this does not conflict with Leftism.

    Which is to say, in effect, (going by the vote on priestess-bishops this week) something like 95 percent of Anglican bishops and 75 percent of the clergy are apostate anti-Christians

    (or else - in some instances - merely extremely stupid and unprincipled - which is possible but hardly more encouraging!)

    and therefore probably the most dangerous of all the enemies of real Christianity.

    So, any future for the CoE (as a Christian Church) is in the hands of the conservative evangelicals.

    Yet these are the group that least need the CoE; since they can raise all the money they need and attract all the clergy, workers and congregation they need, outwith the CoE administrative and career structure.

    Therefore it seems likely that the conservative evangelical Anglicans will probably, at some point, leave to set-up their own new Anglican denomination - or else become nonconformist and non-episcopal while retaining the BCP and 39 articles - as the reference point for doctrine, sacraments and liturgy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!

    Something like what you have predicted has already occurred here in North America. More than once actually. When the canons were changed to allow for the ordination of women back in the 1970's, several conservative Anglicans left to form a seperate orthodox Anglican denomination.

    Then, when the movement to liberalize the Church's teachings on homosexuality became popular the Anglican Essentials movement was founded to counter it, to call the Church back to orthodoxy. At one point, when dioceses began actually authorizing same-sex blessings, several of the Essentials Churches decided they could no longer remain within the Anglican Church of Canada or the Episcopal Church in the United States and seceded from their dioceses. The Canadian ones formed the Anglican Network in Canada, the American ones have a similar but slightly different name. The Essentials Churches that are continuing to try and be a voice for orthodoxy within the Anglican Church of Canada renamed their organization the Anglican Communion Alliance, I think in order to recognize that both ANiC and ACA Churches were "Essentials" Churches and that therefore the Essentials name should not be restricted to just the Churches that did not secede.

    A difference between the Churches that left over the ordination of women and the Churches that left more recently over same-sex blessings is that the latter are seeking recognition as an orthodox Province in the worldwide Anglican Communion, whereas the former simply regard themselves as the continuation of orthodox Anglicanism.

    For orthodox Anglicans, faced with the decision as to whether to stay as a "voice crying in the wilderness" in the main denomination or whether to secede, it seems like it comes down to a question of how you balance the different aspects of your duties to God.

    There is the fact that the Christian must place loyalty to God and His Word over loyalty to an institution. Then there is the fact that part of the duty we owe God is to guard, for those who have come after us, that which has been bequeathed to us from those who have gone before us. This is a duty enjoined upon all men, which applies to all of the various blessings God has bestowed upon us, and which must therefore be especially true for those of us who acknowledge faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. We do not want to be guilty of betraying this trust by abandoning the institutional Church to apostates, heretics, blasphemers, and unbelievers if we can at all prevent it.

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  3. Canadian now CatholicJanuary 13, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    Even though I disagree with the canonicity of women priests, I was impressed to see several women in clerics belonging to the ANiC at the March for Life in Ottawa.

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  4. Thank you for bringing in the example of artificial contraception. This also applies to divorce and women's dress. The Church conforms to the culture, then goes back and post-rationalizes its decisions. The approval of homosexual behavior is just another logical step in this long line of cultural acceptance.

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