Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Estes Park Statement [revisionist alert]
titusonenine ^ | 4/27/2005 | unknown

Posted on 04/27/2005 8:01:59 PM PDT by sionnsar

The Council of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, composed of members of the Episcopal Church in the USA and The Anglican Church of Canada, offers the following thoughts which we hope can be of help to those in our two provinces charged with presenting to the Anglican Consultative Council the reasoning for the recent actions in our two provinces. Our insights come from our deep interest in and study of the liturgy of Anglicanism, our sixty years of forming and reforming the liturgical books of our two provinces, and our Communion’s long held tradition that the prayer of the Church is the source of its doctrine and practice - lex orandi, lex credendi, lex agendi. To those who are drafting the reports for our provinces, please be assured of our prayers and our best wishes for your endeavors.

God’s Gifts in Creation Gay and lesbian Christians have not chosen to be perverse, but have discovered that being homosexual is simply a given. This is often experienced as an enormous burden; however, belonging to the community of the baptized in which all are honored for the gifts they bring, provides the opportunity to claim this givenness as a gift of the Creator, and to offer the gift of this life in service to God and to others.

It is our conviction that lesbian and gay Christians manifest the same gifts of grace as heterosexual Christians in their covenant relationships of faithful love, reflecting the same divine blessing. (Our marriage rites are clear that childbearing, although it is also a divine blessing, is not the foremost blessing which we celebrate in marriage.) We have come to this conviction not because we have abandoned our convictions regarding the sanctity of marriage but because we recognize that same sanctity in faithful same-sex relationships, when two people are united in love as Christ is united with his Church. We have learned to rejoice in the richness and diversity of creation and not to call unclean what God has created clean.

Interpreting the Bible The story of God’s people is a continuing one that must be taken up by each generation. No generation merely observes the story. We each participate in it. The scriptures relate that story from the beginning of creation and the spread of sin through to the redemption in Christ Jesus and the establishment of his church.

From the outset the scriptures are headed somewhere. They contain a particular logic and share a common aim. The logic and the aim reveal certain grand themes about God’s will for human life.

Each of the books has to be read and interpreted within the context of the general themes and the conclusions at which the aim is taken. Nothing can be read out of that context, and certainly nothing can be used against the aims and purposes of scripture. According to Christians, the whole of scripture is aimed at the incarnation, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This is definitive of the entire story of the people of God. From the first words, scripture is going somewhere, and it arrives. Good news.

The scriptures do not make entirely clear each and every issue God’s people must address in succeeding generations, especially on specific matters of morality and justice. The early Christians found themselves embarrassed by certain matters in the Hebrew Scriptures, including several of the ways God’s nature is depicted. They had to reinterpret them, and explain how they were part of a process of coming to an evermore-complete discernment until the fullness of that understanding is defined in Christ Jesus.

But the problem has not simply been with what Christians began to call the ‘Old Covenant’ books. The church has discovered itself waking up to an awareness of wrongful positions and actions from time to time, and has been forced to reinterpret certain scripture. It is as though we were not ready to see the matter in its clarity until the time was ripe. When we do so, we find that the call to right action is indeed inherent in our scriptures; it simply becomes clear to us. It is as though a fuse has been set within scripture and only in due course does it trigger and explode. Once this happens we may well wonder how we ever could have missed this.

Painful examples in European history, e.g., the Inquisition and the Crusades, include the wrongful use of violence in the name of God. The striking example in history is slavery: Although movements to outlaw slavery began in Europe as early as the sixteenth century, it was only in the nineteenth century that the Church in the US came to understand the meaning of scripture very differently, moving from a view that it was favorable, or at the very least tolerant, toward the institution of slavery to a testament ringing with clear denunciation of it. Faithful Christians can be confident that the Paraclete is continually at work to lead us into new truth as revealed in scripture, and in dialogue with an ever-evolving sense of decency and right. Christians must always be open to this.

We live in circumstances so different from those of the writers of scripture that the gap between our situations, between our experience of reality, is too wide for us to place even presumptive confidence in the rules qua rules. Instead, we asked how best to fulfill the purpose of the author. There are cases where the Bible speaks at the moral level, but its application to our own situation seems harsh or problematic in a way that leads us to ask whether the rule ought to be applied, e.g. the proscription against divorce in the Gospels, the command that women keep silent in church and with covered heads.

Faithful Christians will not accept facile connections between the Bible and contemporary life. The Caroline Divines are usually given credit for first working out the classic Anglican understanding of the dynamic between scripture, reason, and tradition. They recognized the cultural conditioning of experience and thus of our reasoning. In this way, Anglicanism has always understood the cultural conditioning of threading of scripture. For example, it will not do to examine scripture as though we live in the first century, or as though the writers live in ours. Nor does the Anglican tradition believe that God’s revelation ended in the written word of scripture; rather we believe that God reveals the divine life and will in a manner that enlarges upon what is found in the Bible and through what is newly discerned in the Bible. Consider the development of the Greek word, ‘hypostasis’. This was the key term employed in the fifth century definition of Christ as both God and human being in one person (one ‘hypostasis’). By that time, interestingly enough, the word had come to mean the exact opposite of what it had meant in New Testament times. Yet, theologians relied on the revelation in scripture to discern evidence of the divine as well as the human nature of Jesus. That discernment was not immediately discovered in the text; nor was the Trinitarian doctrine. We believe this is a telling example of the use of reason to interpret scripture and one on which all orthodox believers agree.

Anglicanism takes the cultural conditioning of the books of the Bible themselves as self-evident. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John took the material available and shaped it for very different purposes for different schools of thought and different sorts of Christian communities. The books of the Kings and of Chronicles tell the same basic stories from different perspectives and with different purposes, as do First and Second Maccabees. Ruth and Ezra were written at about the same time, but come to different conclusions about Jews marrying foreigners. The examples are as many as there are types of literature in the biblical library. To read scripture intelligently, we need to understand the authors and the people to whom they were writing, their needs, and the realities of their very particular culture. This awareness of the cultural differences both in the writing of scripture and in the interpretation of it may seem to some to undermine the authority of scripture. Most Anglicans have considered this way of reading scripture a strength.

The experience that North American churches have with ordained women and homosexuals is a profound factor in the reasoning of these institutions. Just as important is the lack of the same kind of experience in other parts of the Anglican Communion. During the debate on this issue at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, African bishops claimed that they had never met a homosexual person, something so astounding to the bishops of Western society that many found it difficult to believe. (We do not wish to suggest that they did not trust the word of their colleagues, rather that their cultures so successfully obscure the existence of homosexuality.)

This difference in experience is one of the factors taken into consideration in an open process for reception of new doctrine. Accordingly, this process calls on those who disagree with a proposed innovation in doctrine or practice to engage homosexual Christians and ordained women in dialogue.

If the proscription against homosexual behavior were accepted as a moral rule, the cost to persons whose sexual identity is gay or lesbian, and the cost to the church of supporting a dominant cultural prejudice would be enormous. We are persuaded by the biblical witness to the divine blessing upon all relationships of faithful love, and by the biblical promise that such relationships can mirror our relationship with God, established in Christ - unlike those who believe that the Word of God categorically condemns all homosexual relationships. We believe that it is Jesus himself who is the Word of God incarnate; and so we hold that all scripture must be interpreted in the light of the Gospel revealed in him - in his life and death and resurrection. No readers of the Bible, including ourselves, accept every utterance found in the Bible as binding; different people select what they consider binding in a variety of ways. We recognize scripture as authoritative in its witness to, and illumination of, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who welcomed those whom others rejected, and died as the rejected one to create a new humanity in which none were rejected.

In conclusion, it is acknowledged that within our tradition there are differing approaches to scripture. The point to be made at this time is that we must not allow them to become mutually exclusive. The Anglican tradition contains the balanced consideration of scripture, reason, and tradition in search for authoritative theological truth. Our comprehensiveness here as well as elsewhere is strength instead of weakness. We are never going to be able to read the solution to our disagreements about women, children, and human sexuality straight out of scripture. The issue before Anglicanism regarding homosexuality and the ordination of women is not one of biblical authority. The issue is one of biblical interpretation.

A Sacramental Perspective Drawing upon many sources including, among others, classic Anglican sacramental theology, the teaching of the patristic church, Eastern Orthodox teaching, and the Twentieth Century movement for liturgical renewal, we affirm that sacraments are real and show forth who we are by creation and redemption in Christ. Sacraments do not so much make us something different, but rather reveal who we are in Christ. As St. Paul tells us, “All those who are baptized are baptized into the death of Jesus, and are being raised into his resurrection.” “Therefore nothing whatsoever can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We affirm the historical Anglican understanding that there are two Gospel sacraments-Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. These two sacraments convey forgiveness of sin and incorporation into God’s holy catholic church, the Body of Christ. Through them we participate in the Paschal Mystery of the dying and rising of Christ in our midst. We affirm certain other rites, such as marriage and ordination, as having a sacramental nature. Their nature flows from baptism and is nurtured by the sacrament of the Eucharist. Baptism, in making the person a member of the crucified and risen body of Christ, is indelible and imparts to the baptized person the character of Christ (thus it has also been called ‘christening’). Holy Communion, which Augustine of Hippo characterized as the repeatable part of baptism, renews and reinforces the grace-filled gifts of baptism. Those gifts include being grafted onto the Body of Christ, adoption as children of God and heirs of God’s kingdom, new birth, the forgiveness of sin, and authority to minister to the world as the priestly people of God.

No state of life or action of an individual or community can negate the effects of baptism, precisely because it is God’s action and gift. Yet over the past 2,000 years the church has struggled to overcome societal and cultural biases that at various times were thought to be God-sanctioned bars to baptism, and which were made official policy of the church or of portions of the church. Those include such things as being a gentile, being a soldier or magistrate, being a person of color, having more than one spouse, or, among some Christians, being an infant. However, at no time in those2, 000 years is there a history of official church policy of denying baptism to homosexual persons.

Ordination and marriage, rites that have a sacramental nature, depend on baptism for their validity and flow from the grace of baptism. Thus all baptized persons are eligible to participate in them when called to them by God, and when that call is affirmed by the People of God, who know such persons to be qualified. So in the rites of marriage and of ordination, the People of God and/or their representatives are required to give their assent before the sacramental rite is celebrated. Therefore we believe that the historic Anglican understanding of the sacraments means this: that homosexual persons who are baptized, and whose conviction that they are called by God is affirmed by the members of the body of Christ among whom they worship, and with whom they minister, are eligible to take part in the sacramental actions of marriage and ordination.

Inclusion and Exclusion in the Sacraments The renewal of the theology of baptism, which has occurred in the Roman Catholic as well as in both North American Anglican churches, challenges much of the Church’s existing practice, especially that concerning its treatment of homosexual persons, women, and children. The recovery of the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, whereby each Christian continually participates in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, forces the church to examine how faithfully it lives out Paul’s affirmation in Galatians that in Christ, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

In the waters of baptism, each Christian dies and then is raised to new life in Christ. Death allows of no distinctions; there are no hierarchies or preferences for anyone in death, the great equalizer. Emerging naked from the waters (either literally or figuratively), each Christian stands on the same level ground before God, as God created him or her. There is no theological basis for categorically denying full participation in the life of the church simply on the basis of gender, age, or same-sex patterns of affection.

The fact that women, children, and homosexual persons not only have been restricted in their participation in the worship and governance of the church, but have also been exploited and suppressed for centuries, cannot be used as a justification to continue these practices. The clear call of the Gospel of our Savior is to fullness of life now, for every child of God.

It is no coincidence that most of the bishops and provinces of the Anglican Communion who oppose the ordination of homosexual persons, or the blessing of their faithful relationships, are opponents of the ordination of women and the welcoming of infants at the eucharistic table as soon as they are baptized. All of these practices upset the hegemony of men in the Church, and are painful for those who cling to privilege and power. No one likes to relinquish power, and it is never easy. However, Christ gave us a model of self-emptying, of taking the form of a servant, in perfect union with the Father’s will. If we are to claim to be followers of Jesus, we also must be prepared to relinquish privilege and power.

The Question of impaired Fellowship Why do some bishops break communion and refuse collegiality as though they could be ‘tainted’ by sacramental association with bishops with whom they disagree? Why was there a demand that the Churches of Canada and The United States absent themselves from the only instrument of unity (note the irony in refusing unity within an instrument of it) that includes representation of the laity and all three orders of the ordained, and in particular during the presentation by their representatives of the rationale for disputed decisions made within or by those provinces? The only direct reason that we know they have offered so far is a vague reference to ‘impaired fellowship’. If this has a basis in history, we suggest a residual Donatism founded in a desire for moralistic purity as a source.

Is Anglicanism caught up in a renewed Donatists controversy? Are Christians once again claiming that bishops, priests, and deacons cannot validly administer the sacraments because they are ‘infected’ in this time by bad theology? At least in the early centuries the heresy was trying to deal with actions of apostasy. The name of the heresy is taken after an early fourth century schismatic bishop, Donatus. This was a heresy that the church supposed was settled, securely sealed by the arguments of St. Augustine, and formally condemned by ecumenical councils, but which has continued to crop up in various forms from time to time.

The controversy arose first out of the social, political, and ecclesiastical tensions following the Diocletian Persecution. Theologically the Donatists were rigorists, holding that all those who communicated with ‘traitors’ were ‘infected’ and that since the church is one and holy, the pure Donatists alone formed the church. Converts to Donatism were rebaptized. Even more to the point, sacraments were declared invalid if administered by clergy who gave in to the persecution. The church catholic maintained, among other things, that the personal unworthiness of the ordained did not affect the validity of sacraments they administered, and that everyone can be reconciled to the church. It is important that in condemning the Donatists’ version of ‘impaired fellowship’ the church cited especially the doctrine of Grace championed by Augustine. The violation of Eucharistic fellowship, the refusal to recognize the validity of the sacraments of colleagues, and the shunning of fellow Christians is simply untenable.

A Statement of The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission addressing The Scandal of Impaired Fellowship in the Anglican Communion

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost6; ecusa

1 posted on 04/27/2005 8:02:08 PM PDT by sionnsar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ahadams2; GatorGirl; KateatRFM; Alkhin; Peanut Gallery; tellw; nanetteclaret; Saint Reagan; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-7 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 04/27/2005 8:03:16 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

The depth of this heresy is exceeded only by the abysmal lack of understanding, or arrogant misinterpretation, of Scripture and the writings of the Fathers by the authors of this garbage. There isn't enough bandwith available to post the patristic texts which put the lie to this drivel.

3 posted on 04/27/2005 8:29:02 PM PDT by Kolokotronis ("Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips!" (Psalm 141:3))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis

I actually noticed a lot of them! I must be getting well...

4 posted on 04/27/2005 8:36:51 PM PDT by pharmamom (Lost: One Really Great Tagline. If found, please return to its owner.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: pharmamom

Don't you love the accusation of Donatism???? From these people? They wouldn't know Donatism if it hit them in the face.

5 posted on 04/27/2005 8:39:35 PM PDT by Kolokotronis ("Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips!" (Psalm 141:3))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis

And would I be correct in understanding that the reason fellowship is "impaired" is because we can't be in communion with those who do not share our faith; i.e., do not believe what we believe?

6 posted on 04/27/2005 8:47:06 PM PDT by pharmamom (Lost: One Really Great Tagline. If found, please return to its owner.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis

And would I be correct in understanding that the reason fellowship is "impaired" is because we can't be in communion with those who do not share our faith; i.e., do not believe what we believe?

7 posted on 04/27/2005 8:47:33 PM PDT by pharmamom (Lost: One Really Great Tagline. If found, please return to its owner.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: pharmamom
In great measure yes,

"+Chrysostomos loudly declares not only heretics, but also those who have communion with them, to be enemies of God." St. Theodore the Studite, Epistle of Abbot Theophilus


"As for all those who pretend to confess the sound Orthodox Faith, but are in communion with people who hold a different opinion, if they are forewarned and still remain stubborn, you must not only not be in communion with them, but you must not even call them brothers." St. Basil the Great
8 posted on 04/27/2005 9:01:55 PM PDT by Kolokotronis ("Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips!" (Psalm 141:3))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis

But I guess when your theology is circumstantial and based on "what makes sense based on how we feel," then we might as well all join hands and sing "Kumbayah."

9 posted on 04/27/2005 9:04:19 PM PDT by pharmamom (Lost: One Really Great Tagline. If found, please return to its owner.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

Pinging for later reading and reference. Why is this called the "Estes Park Statement"?

10 posted on 04/28/2005 6:28:32 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Psalm 73)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson