Bishop Stephen Pickard writes: In 2023 a number of concerned Anglicans from around Australia formed the National Comprehensive Anglicanism Network (NCAN). At the heart of this initiative was a concern for the church’s unity and witness to the gospel in a time of controversy, fracture and division. With this in mind NCAN has been established to support communication across local churches, agencies and individuals; to encourage grass roots Anglicans through resources relevant to Anglican life, spirituality and mission; to facilitate responses on a range of issues that concern the well-being and unity of the Anglican Church of Australia.
We live in times of significant transitions, increasing complexity and for many, disturbing uncertainties. One consequence of this is increasing conflict between different approaches to respond to this context. Progressive and conservative elements clash, new alignments emerge, and a tribal mentality quickly takes hold. These dynamics are a feature of our social, political and religious environment. This is the larger context in which Gafcon was invented in 2008: a radical effort from conservative forces to control the direction of the Anglican Communion.
Developments at the global level of Anglicanism are reflected in the Anglican Church of Australia. Most recently this concerns disagreement regarding same-sex relationships. In an earlier generation the focus was on the ordination of women as priests. And even now there are myriad matters (e.g. climate change, asylum seekers, racism, human sexuality, poverty, inequalities, technology, care of children, war and peace) that press in on the Body of Christ. NCAN has been set up to encourage responses to such matters that draw upon the rich traditions of Anglican Christianity that prize diversity, intelligent and reasoned argument, and a commitment to working together rather than apart. This includes our commitment to the Four Instruments of Communion that bind the world-wide Fellowship of Anglican Churches together as the Anglican Communion. ...
In this second contribution to the current debate on gay marriage and the C of E's House of Bishops Report, the Rev'd Jonathan Clatworthy concludes: Reflecting on that whole history of church teaching about sexual ethics, one cannot help noticing that the changes since the early 1960s have been remarkably fast. I suspect this means three things. Firstly, the changes have been much needed. Secondly, younger people find it hard to understand why their parents and grandparents behaved as they did. Thirdly, we are left with much unfinished business.
A century ago, there was a clearly understood ethical tradition about sex: it was only for childbearing within marriage. That tradition was sanctioned by a widely accepted moral authority, the Christian churches.
Now, there is no clearly understood ethical system. If any principle is emerging as a criterion of acceptable sex, it is simply consent between the parties. In the process, the moral authority of the churches has collapsed. So far, nothing has replaced it.
As long as the ecclesiastical leadership continues to tear itself apart over gay marriage, the general public cannot forget why the churches are no longer seen as a moral authority. ...
The Rev'd Dr. Charlie Bell responds to the fourteen bishops who have published a defence of 'traditional' marriage:
I thought it might be useful to offer a few thoughts on the most recent paper by a number of bishops, of differing theologies and yet in opposition to same-sex marriage.
It’s notable that these bishops come from different theological stables, which probably does give some indication as to why the resulting theology here is so disappointingly light and unconvincing. It appears to lack a coherence theological thread and suffers because of it. Nonetheless, it is good that bishops are finally willing to say what they think – even if we might disagree with it. The risk of saying what you think, of course, is that your arguments are open to challenge. This is my small offering in that regard. ...
The Editor: The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes - The Church of England has almost concluded a long and at times tedious ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process of discernment and consultation regarding gay relationships and essentially about whether to allow these to be consummated in Christian marriage. Now the House of Bishops have effectively short-circuited the final decision, meant to be decided by the General Synod in February 2023, by pronouncing that they will not change the Church’s fundamental teaching “that holy matrimony is between one man and one woman for life.”
Notwithstanding that part of that ‘fundamental teaching’ has long been bypassed in that remarriage in church after divorce is commonplace and permitted, the bishops apparently have felt unable to go further and allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same privilege. ...
Editorial - The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson - August 2021
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