Skip to comments.Orthodox theologians weigh in on Anglican divisions
Posted on 06/17/2005 5:02:04 PM PDT by sionnsar
CANADA: Orthodox theologians weigh in on Anglican divisions
Homosexuality and same sex blessing are communion breaking acts, says Packer
By David W. Virtue
TORONTO, ONT: (6/17/2005)--A panel of orthodox Canadian Anglican theologians believe the Anglican Church of Canada is at a cross roads with the two groups forced to "walk apart" after General Synod in 2007 if same sex marriages, not just blessings, are approved.
Canadian Anglican theologian and author Dr. J.I. Packer urged the 800 delegates attending the three-day Open Doors conference to back the federation of pan Anglican renewal, saying that homosexuality and same sex blessings are communion breaking matters. "The undesirable possibility is right now and we cannot bury our heads in the sand."
Packer urged the delegates to back the pan Anglican federation that is seeking to bring renewal in the Canadian Anglican Church and to honor the newly formed Network and Federation.
Packer praised the 11 years the ESSENTIALS have held together as it brought together Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, Charismatics and anti-Charismatics, "cautious Maritimers and wild westerners from British Columbia in a fellowship of increasing strength."
"We are not the ones leaving; those who desire to walk apart are leaving. In these circumstances our decision will be clear who we will serve. We will have decided," said Packer adding, "I have no time for liberal theology."
"We can no longer be a part of the church catholic that is a schismatic North American sect," said the Rev Dr. Murray Henderson, rector of a Church of the Ascension in Don Mills, Ontario. "These are decisions we would rather not make. If this church acts like an autonomous organization, independent not interdependent then it has placed itself above the Scripture and the church catholic, from Jesus until now, and trashed the bonds of affection."
"Canadian Anglicans are unaccustomed to making hard decisions. We like dialogue ending in compromise but the issues before us are so serious and injurious that the words of Joshua 'choose you this day whom you will serve' are urgent words. We will be faithful to Him come what may."
Henderson said renewal and restoration of Anglican Christianity is the only way forward. "Stand firm and be faithful to the God who is faithful to us. Keep the doctrinal nature of same-sex blessings in the forefront. If General Synod in 2007 does not accept same-sex blessings it must include the Diocese of New Westminster, but still we may lose."
Henderson said that 2007 may see the Canadian Church walk apart. Local option doesn't work when salvation and holy living are at stake. "We should provide pastoral care for many grieving in the coming years."
"We must be aware of global schism; it is not just ECUSA and the Canadian Anglican Church but what of other Western churches. The pressures are upon Rowan Williams. The rogue actions of Canada can and may be emulated in other countries," he said.
"What new center if Canterbury has lost its moral hold" asked Henderson? "We could see new centers in Singapore and Lagos."
"Anglican theological integrity must flag doctrinal unity. We must bow to ethical truth and eschew unilateralism," he said.
Henderson said the character of the Archbishop's panel is pretty toothless. "Does "alternate" or "adequate" episcopal authority offer help? Is Global schism a possibility?"
No one is stopping us from preaching, he said. "Our real hope lies in the risen and ascended Lord.
The Rev. David Short, rector of St. John's, Shaughnessy, Vancouver, the largest parish in Canada and a member of the Essentials steering committee, asked, "How did we get to this point? The history of the last 8-10 years has seen two groups going in two different directions and the movement has shifted like tectonic plates."
Lambeth 1998 and Resolution 1.10 was 526 /70 to listen but not to change church teaching, but to provide moral direction and pastoral care, he said.
Short said the Canadian Church now lived in unprecedented circumstances. "We are part of a national church losing 18 percent for the last 20 years. New Westminster attempts to force compliance with the revisionist agenda. The Canadian HOB is a house divided against itself and cannot bring godly disciple to bear. It is institutional schism."
"We need to think biblically. We are living on a cultural fault line where children are optional, radical individualism reigns and privatized lifestyles mean choosing personal fulfillment. Both the OT and NT said homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God. It is decidedly grave to call holy what God calls unholy."
Short said God loves unity, and the unity Jesus prayed for is unity of the truth and the doctrine of the gospel. "The kind of unity God opposes to is unity not of the faith, not guided and surrendered to the will and word of God. The unity of the gospel finds expression in the various structures of the gospel."
The Rev. David Curry, a native Nova Scotia and rector of Christ Church, Windsor, said doctrine not praxis, not process thinking, should be the given and direct our thinking. "If we don't hold ourselves accountable for the doctrines of Christ we become the betrayers of Christ. Live the vision; think upwards, right belief and right worship go together."
"We must get away from the 'gentle Jesus come and squeeze us...when it pleases.'" Curry said there was a hierarchy of doctrine that started with essential doctrine which included the Trinity, Incarnation, creation, redemption and sanctification, with the creeds being the distillation of what the Scriptures teach. Then there is order and polity and finally moral order and the doctrine of marriage.
Dr. Gary Thorn, a Byzantine theologian asked, "What is our church saying?"
"Let us hold fast to love and good works. Heresy is to know the truth and willfully to act against it. It is trampling underfoot the Son of God. We must live lives of radical holiness."
Thorn said the Windsor Report was entirely unhelpful, it was merely tinkering with the mechanics of how things will placate us, there is a greater commitment to gospel truth that overrides this, he said.
"The blessing of same sex unions is a matter of salvation, incarnation and the work of the Holy Spirit. We must engage the Canadian Church at all levels of the debate."
Cheryl Chang, Essentials attorney said this new Essentials movement was not a parallel church but if the Primates say the Canadian Church is out of the Communion we have a lifeboat. If global schism takes place in the Anglican Communion we will align with the Network."
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