The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

"Pining for the Fjords": Trying to Resuscitate Lambeth Resolution 1:10

I regret to say that Ephraim Radner's article "CLEANING UP THE PLAYING FIELD: SIX RESOLUTIONS FOR LAMBETH" put me in mind of the above classic Monty Python sketch. Dr. Radner's "Resolutions" for the 2020 Lambeth Conference are an effort to revive the long-dead Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998), as a backdoor way to institute punishment on non-compliant churches.

Well, non-compliant progressive churches, that is. Because the fact that Dr. Radner does not acknowledge, is that the so-called Traditionalist provinces never themselves complied with the Resolution. The Episcopal Church did, but that didn't abate the Traditionalist disregard for the Resolution insofar as it would have affected their conduct.

Here are Dr. Radner's proposed Resolutions:
1. This Conference reaffirms the 1998 Resolution 1.10.

2. Those bishops and churches who contradict or contravene this affirmation (I.10), or who punish others on the basis of such an affirmation, stand outside the boundaries of Anglican teaching and witness as this Conference understands it.

3. We request that other Communion Instruments of Unity pursue their work on the basis of this teaching and witness.

4. We recognize the missionary and pastoral integrity of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and its related member churches; and we urge serious deliberation, locally and at the international level, over how these churches can be integrated fully into the life of the Communion.

5. We commit ourselves as bishops to the work of formulating and pursuing extended, coordinated, and coherent formation and catechesis in the Christian faith within our churches and across the Communion.

6. We commit ourselves to gathering again in 10 years, and in the interim to developing ways by which, despite the real differences that divide us, we can fruitfully and honestly engage one another and our service of Christ according to the levels of communion we actually share.
But here's the problem; Dr. Radner only focuses on one part of the Resolution, missing the reciprocal obligations the 1998 Lambeth Conference attempted to create:
This Conference:

a. commends to the Church the subsection report on human sexuality [1];
b. in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;
c. recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
d. while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex;
e. cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions;
f. requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us;
g. notes the significance of the Kuala Lumpur Statement on Human Sexuality and the concerns expressed in resolutions IV.26, V.1, V.10, V.23 and V.35 on the authority of Scripture in matters of marriage and sexuality and asks the Primates and the ACC to include them in their monitoring process.
In 2004, The Windsor Report added to these principles a request, implicit in the plea for unity in the Resolution, for a moratorium on the part of the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges," and, reciprocally, for
those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own to
♦express regret for the consequences of their actions
♦ to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and
♦ to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.
(Windsor Report para 155).

Now, as I pointed out in 2010, when the Episcopal Church, after complying with the requested moratorium placed upon it for over 6 years, finally abandoned its adherence, it did so after the reciprocal obligations in the Resolution and in the Windsor Report had been systematically, comprehensively, and shamelessly flouted by the Traditionalists:
But I find I do have a word to say to the self-styled reasserter community, and to the communion conservatives joining them in deploring TEC's lack of "gracious restraint" in no longer honoring the Windsor Reports moratoria after six and a half years of compliance: Congratulations.

Seriously. In the years since the requests were made, TEC complied. In return, it was subjected to cross-boundary jurisdictional crossings, attempted property seizures, a farcical "listening process" and a never-ending wave of bile and venom. Additionally, our Presiding Bishop was insulted at the 2007 primates meeting, where seven Global South primates refused to take communion for fear of being polluted by her presence. And then of course there was the Lambeth Walk. And, finally, the ongoing effort to replace TEC as the North American Anglican entity. So, in view of all these, riddle me this, Batman:

What incentive did your side ever give the Episcopal Church to continue its adherence to the requested moratorium?

I mean, really. You go all out to tear her apart from within, demonize her and her leadership, replace her in the worldwide communion--and then you're surprised that she doesn't continue in a posture of "gracious restraint" which your "side" has been flouting for the same 6 1/2 years she's been complying. I mean, I know you have a low opinion of TEC, but what adverse consequence do you have in your arsenal that you haven't already launched at TEC? What benefit did TEC receive by holding off for 6 1/2 years? None, and none.
I wouldn't use the Batman reference nowadays, but, frankly, I stand by my point: The Resolution was never received by the Traditionalists of the Anglican Communion, only its condemnation of same-sex relationships. Sections (c), (d), and (f) (which gave rise to the so-called "Listening Process") of the Resolution were simply disregarded, or cavalierly "complied with" in form only. So, for example, The Church of Nigeria's Report on the Listening Process did not reflect the testimony or views of any person but the Archbishop of Nigeria, stating simply:
The Primate of all Nigeria has said “Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God- given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.”
The rest of the report comprises arguments from Scripture to support this statement--not any evidence of any listening at all--and the "Report" as a whole can be accurately summarized by the old Ring Lardner line, "Shut up, he explained."

In sum, Radner seeks to elevate to canonical status a Resolution that has, for nearly a decade, been rejected by the Churches making up the Anglican Communion, on both sides of the divide. That the Resolution was frail at birth, and died nine years ago, after TEC alone had kept it on life support from 2004-2010, is the one thing the actions of the Churches establishes.

Why on earth would we pay lip service to a dead parrot? It's not pining, it's passed on.

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