I was going to blog on the latest interview with Gene Robinson but His Grace beat me to it.
Gay priests are the ‘backbone of the Church’
So says the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is divorced from his wife and lives in a partnership with a gay man. Apparently, the Church of England would be on the edge of collapse if it were ever obliged to perform its ministry without homosexual clergy. He says: â€˜If all the gay people stayed away from church on a given Sunday the Church of England would be close to shut down between its organists, its clergy, its wardensâ€™.
He also finds it â€˜mystifyingâ€™ that the Church is unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks, not least because â€˜many of the English church’s clergy live openly in their rectories with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishopsâ€™.
How does he know? Is he friends with them all? Do he and his husband / wife / partner invite them all around for tea and cake every Sunday afternoon, and talk to them of their sexual preferences and predilections? Where are the statistics for this assertion? Empirical evidence?
Bishop Robinson believes his stance on homosexuality to be consistent with the traditions of the Church of England. With the prospect of discipline, and the formulation of an Anglican Covenant, he says: â€˜the whole notion of punishment being meted out to provinces of the Anglican Communion that are somehow non-compliant is somehow antithetical to the whole Anglican tradition, positing some sort of centralised Curia that has the ability and the authority to do such a thing, is about as un-Anglican as you can imagine. After all, our church was founded in resistance to a centralised authority in Rome. And so to pose the possibility of such a centralised Curia with those kinds of authorities seems to me to be as un-traditional as it could beâ€™.
And in his exhortation of Reformation principles, he emphasises his own evangelical roots, because when he speak to gay and lesbian groups, he doesnâ€™t talk to them about gay rights â€“ he talks to them â€˜about their soulsâ€™. His goal â€˜is to get them to church and bring them to Jesusâ€™.
But let’s just set aside Sola Scriptura, shall we, because of all the evangelical tenets, it’s just a tad inconvenient.
It is no wonder that the Bishop of Rome reasserts his belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the only church and that the Church of England (amongst others) are simply playing at being so. There is ceasing to be any viability in the via media, and to be Anglican is becoming synonymous with equivocation, indecision, and intolerable compromise. As the Lambeth Conference looms, there are ever-increasing threats of boycott, and the whole house of cards might yet come tumbling down.
But the good thing to come out of this is that Cranmer has discovered what the Archbishop of Canterbury has been doing on his â€˜study leaveâ€™. Apparently, he has â€˜almost completed a book on Russian author Dostoevskyâ€™.
He must be a very slow reader.
Cranmer hopes that Archbishop Williams may similarly experience all the fullness of conversion, and rediscover the meaning of orthodoxy.
I amazes me still that some people continue to argue that Via Media is an excuse for liberal theology. It’s not and it never was. Via Media was an explanation of the path of churchmanship and theology that the Anglican Church took between the extremes of Roman “tradition” and Puritan “no tradition at all thank you very much”. Via Media was an orthodoxy that avoided excess but believed and trusted in the clear Biblical message of grace and holiness. Those who claim to be inheritors of the Via Media must first of all be orthodox on doctrine and moral practice. Without such an affirmation they aren’t even Christian, let alone Anglican.