Monday, 25 July 2022

Institutional Church Trickery

(See the update)

On religion (this blog was once all about religion): I no longer attend anywhere. When I lived in New Holland, North Lincolnshire, as from 1994, I first went to Hull Unitarians, and left at a time of (I alleged) mistreatment of a minister, and then I went to Barton Anglicans, a broad (at the time) Anglo-Catholic parish church. Despite my best efforts and even presenting to a theology group, in a liberal corner, I ran out of doctrinal steam and also could not justify the ethic of the wider institution. The Unitarians took me back, so to speak, and then it chose a new minister with disastrous results. After a few years people voted with their feet and left, one by one. I did too, after far too long. I went to the Quakers for over two years and realised they had a commitment to something special which I did not share. So I stopped, and that was it.

So if I comment on anything, it is from the outside. I have no relationship with the Church of England, but boy is it suddenly in a desperate condition of institutional duplicity? After 14 years the Anglican Communion worldwide is to return to Lambeth (so to speak) for a get together of its hierarchy of bishops.

It seems to have forgotten that the attempt to have an Anglican Covenant worldwide failed; the Church of England synod itself said no and that finished it. Rowan Williams from Wales was very annoyed, reminding the Church of England that it was led by bishops like him.

And now there aren't even resolutions for this Anglican get together. No Covenant, no institutional unity. Except there are, by way of Calls, and these Calls can't be voted against - only 'yes' or 'yes but more work needed'. It's like there was a Covenant agreed after all.

Now I thought Christianity was at least about honesty. Seeing as I don't believe it (all that credal stuff suggesting an alternative universe of divine-intervening events), the honest thing was to withdraw. Now I know people view these creeds an doctrines with elasticity, as I did myself, and theology rather demands it at times. So we expect some duplicity and nothing is perfect. But here we have something else - the Calls were introduced when not discussed quite as they appear, and the real brute is the one that wants to reaffirm the 1998 resolution excluding gay sexual relations as permissible and denying gay marriage as normal.

It's a bit late in the day for that! The north Americans in two provinces, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales have become rather more inclusive institutionally since then. So how can this resolution, in a 'Yes - Affirm' or 'Yes - Needs More Discernment' voting system be the 'Mind of the Communion as a whole'?

Well, one way we know it isn't is the dishonest way it was all shoved forward at the last minute. Already same sex partners were excluded whilst the opposite sex spouses were invited along. This is evidence enough of being 'institutionally homophobic'. However, trying to resolve something as the Mind of the Communion when clearly it isn't could only be shoehorned in as a form of skullduggery that convinces no one - no one bar the Archbishops, presumably, who have driven this dishonesty.

And what this shows is that, after the Unitarians, Quakers and Liberal Jews led the way, and after the United Reformed Church and Methodist Church have become inclusive, plus many tiny Churches of the trinitarian kind opened themselves to sexual partner diversity, the Church of England is not going to follow its Scottish and Welsh neighbours on the road of inclusivity.

The small SEC and tiny CiW may well be motivated by being desperate for members and reach, but the C of E still deludes itself that evangelicals can bring in the numbers and money, and so cannot go the same way. And then there are the overseas Anglicans in parts of the world where these institutions encourage frightening bigotry within and without. The C of E is mother Church, fearful of being colonialist again, and so goes along with the bigotry via sleight of hand and institutional tricks.

Not exactly ethical is it? I wouldn't touch the C of E with a bargepole. I don't know why some people still do.


There has been a change. Yes, they've been found out pulling a fast one. (As if no one would notice!) Now the options are:

'This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it.'

'This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process.'

'This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call.'

Of course the Calls are still biased, the assumptions built into their presentations. They might tinker with the odd text. Do majority votes mean the 'Call' is made?

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