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Do I understand? [To the TEC]
The Rev'd Dr. Leander Harding ^ | 7/04/2006 | The Rev. Dr. Leander Harding

Posted on 07/05/2006 5:58:19 PM PDT by sionnsar

More Reflections On General Convention 2006
Do I understand what you are saying?
An Open Letter to Bishops and Delegates Who Participated In General Convention 2006

I was able to observe the House of Bishops and House of Deputies briefly first hand during the convention and I have followed closely the proceedings on the internet and through the media. Below are some conclusions I have developed as a result of my observation both by following the official deliberations and through more informal conversations. I wonder if I have heard correctly, and I welcome remarks from bishops and delegates about whether I have an accurate take on the center of opinion in the national leadership of The Episcopal Church. What follows are statements that I believe reflect the consensus of opinion in the national leadership of The Episcopal Church, particularly as reflected in the General Convention that just met in Columbus, Ohio. Do I understand correctly? As I hear it you are saying that:

1. God is the author of same-sex attraction by an act of special providence that includes biological and social-psychological secondary causes. Because we know through reports of the spiritual experience of same-sex attracted people that God is the primary author of these experiences, inquiry into the relative contributions of nature and nurture to same-sex attraction is of no significance for the church’s moral teaching or pastoral care.
2. This recognition of the source of same-sex attraction in the direct intention of God means that the categories of “Gay” and “Lesbian” are part of God’s order of creation in the same way as male and female.
3. Bisexuality is also created by God as an act of special providence through a combination of biological and social-psychological secondary causes.
4. It is likewise irrelevant to the church’s moral and pastoral response to this phenomenon to inquire into the relative contributions of nature and nurture in the development of this sexual orientation.
5. The recognition of the source of same-sex desire in the original intention of God for the creation and humanity is a revelation of the Holy Spirit in our time.
6. The General Conventions of 2003 and 2006 are witnesses to this new revelation of the Holy Spirit.
7. The Holy Spirit has not yet revealed what amendments in the church’s received sexual ethic will be necessary to accommodate bisexual and transgendered people but we can expect further leading by the Holy Spirit in this regard. In the meantime such persons should be considered fit candidates for Holy Orders.
8. Certainty in moral or theological judgments which is based on an authoritative reading of a text whether that is the text of the Bible or any other part of the dogmatic tradition of the church is inherently an example of over-reaching.
9. Contemporary reports of personal spiritual experience by same-sex attracted people and their supporters about the spiritual blessedness of same-sex relationships provide a basis for moral and theological certainty on this question which the scriptures and the traditional teaching of the church cannot by virtue of the nature of the documents provide.
10. Christians who feel bound by the scriptures should understand that the fact that there are different interpretations of the scriptures which touch on same-sex attraction means that no single interpretation can possibly be authoritative.
11. Since the scriptures cannot possibly be authoritative on this issue and since self-reported spiritual experience provides the only reliable certainty on the subject, any objections to same-sex blessings on the basis of scripture are irrelevant a priori.
12. Exegetical discussion of specific texts which seem to forbid blessing same-sex erotic behavior can only be for the benefit of quieting the consciences of people who take the bible literally. At the end of the day the inherent uncertainty of the scriptures must give way before the certainty of the personal spiritual experience of the same-sex attracted and their supporters and the felt experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit in two succeeding General Conventions.
13. The most meaningful dialogue in which the church can engage is dialogue that allows same-sex attracted people and their supporters to share their perceptions of the ways in which God has blessed individuals and specific Christian communities through covenanted same-sex relationships. Actual argument about scripture or the teaching tradition of the church or the state of the scientific question could never produce any legitimate objections to the new thing the Holy Spirit is doing.
14. The experience of people who describe themselves as having been cured or freed from same-sex attraction is irrelevant and the church should not give such people a serious hearing. They either were never really same-sex attracted to begin with or are deluded about their claim to be freed or cured. The personal religious experiences of such people are not of the same quality and reliability as the experiences of the same-sex attracted in the church. These experiences are not to be seen as legitimate experiences of the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of all claims to the contrary. Likewise scientific reporting of the overcoming of same sex attraction is deeply suspect as ideologically tainted and can with confidence be dismissed without a serious reading.
15. Same-sex attraction and same-sex relationships should be recommended to our children as entirely equal to and as preferable as marriage between a man and woman. If any young person feels any same-sex attraction it is by God’s express intention and not to act upon it is to dishonor God. To discourage young people to act upon same-sex attraction is to dishonor God’s intention in the creation. The question is not whether young people should act on their same-sex attractions but when and under what circumstances. Young people who are experiencing same-sex attraction can be helped by being mentored by older same-sex attracted adults and the church should be proactive in facilitating these relationships.
16. It is wrong for the Episcopal Church to dictate to any other province of the Anglican Church what its policy on same-sex relationships should be.
17. It is wrong for any other province of the Anglican Communion to interfere with the leading of the Holy Spirit in this province. What the Holy Spirit demands at any particular time must be determined locally.
18. What the Holy Spirit is demanding must be determined provincially. Those dioceses which are members of the Episcopal Church and which resist the new teaching cannot legitimately be thought to be led by the Holy Spirit and must be resisted with all the canonical and legal means available.
19. A variety of interpretations of scripture can be tolerated in the church. The canons of the church especially with regard to the territorial integrity of Episcopal jurisdiction allow for no variation in interpretation.
20. The proposal of the Archbishop of Canterbury for a new Anglican covenant and for churches to choose constituent or associate status in the communion represents a dire threat to capacity of the church to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It represents the prospect of a quenching of the Spirit.
21. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has been uniquely privileged to hear from the Holy Spirit in a way that has been denied to the rest of world wide Anglicanism, The Roman Catholic Church, The Orthodox Churches and Protestant Evangelicalism. The Episcopal Church must at all costs maintain its witness to the unique agency of the Holy Spirit in its midst. Those who oppose the new teaching are enemies of the Holy Spirit who are making an idol of the past at the expense of the future to which God is calling us.

These numbered observations above are my take on what the dominant party in the leadership of The Episcopal Church is saying. If I have not got it right I would like to know.

The Rev. Leander S. Harding, Ph.D.
July 4, 2006

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Other non-Christian
[This is showing up all over the Anglican blogworld... --sionnsar]
1 posted on 07/05/2006 5:58:21 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; SICSEMPERTYRANNUS; kaibabbob; angeliquemb9; Houston_Texans; impatient; weps4ret; ...
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2 posted on 07/05/2006 5:58:56 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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To: sionnsar

I was gonna say that "this is getting ugly", but I realized that I'm waaay late on that.

3 posted on 07/05/2006 6:06:01 PM PDT by Uriah_lost (
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To: sionnsar

Good enough to bookmark.

4 posted on 07/05/2006 6:23:35 PM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: sionnsar


5 posted on 07/05/2006 7:29:16 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: sionnsar

Good luck, Rev. Harding. This "new thing" is being born by those who wish to avoid clarity at all costs.

6 posted on 07/05/2006 8:39:03 PM PDT by gogeo (The /sarc tag is a form of training wheels for those unable to discern intellectual subtlety.)
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To: gogeo
Isn't it just "so special" that the Holy Spirit waited thousands and thousands of years for the flower children of the 1960's to assume leadership in the church before it decided to do something new?

< /sarcasm >

7 posted on 07/07/2006 2:28:51 PM PDT by N. Theknow ((Kennedys - Can't drive, can't fly, can't ski, can't skipper a boat - But they know what's best.))
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