Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cautiously Hopeful: An Initial Response to Rowan Williams Statement

By Kendall Harmon

I am at Kanuga with four of five family members in full General Convention recovery mode, so bear that in mind as you read this. I am still heavily in ecclesiastical detox, whatever that fully means

Each time I have read Rowan Williams statement today I have liked it better. I wish late this afternoon to highlight one simple aspect of it that I think is crucial: above all this is a theological question which has to be settled by wrestling with Holy Scripture.

Nine times in the statement the word Bible is used; three times the word Scripture. I was especially struck by this paragraph:

Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes – which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society – there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ‘inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against – and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.

Read it carefully again and note the boldfaced sections. The leader of the communion is calling us back to the Bible as the common basis of our faith and that to which we need to be loyal. There is a devastating critique of The Episcopal Church under the surface here. Yes, we have been unilateral, that isn’t good, yes, we put the cart before the horse and did not settle the same sex unions question first, that isn’t good, but above all we as a province have not discerned this question as above all a theological question.

Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. I cannot say a loud enough amen to that–KSH.

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