Cranmer and Gene Robinson

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: ‘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 wardens’.
He also finds it ‘mystifying’ that the Church is unable to be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks, not least because ‘many of the English church’s clergy live openly in their rectories with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops’.

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: ‘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 be’.

And in his exhortation of Reformation principles, he emphasises his own evangelical roots, because when he speak to gay and lesbian groups, he doesn’t talk to them about gay rights – he talks to them ‘about their souls’. His goal ‘is to get them to church and bring them to Jesus’.


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 ‘study leave’. Apparently, he has ‘almost completed a book on Russian author Dostoevsky’.

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.

9 Comments on “Cranmer and Gene Robinson

  1. “Gay priests are the ‘backbone of the Church’” This explains much about the current state of TEC, and where the repair needs to start.

  2. So what’s your evidence that the Puritans said ‘no tradition at all thank you very much”?

    The Puritans were happy with traditions that could be supported by scripture and opposed the mandating of traditions that were not required by scripture. They saw scriptural support as necessary for how we worship God.

    Eirenically yours,

    The Foxe in his Hole.

  3. I think there are three views of tradition (and I recognise that these are very crude illustrations). The first is to only accept tradition if it is supported by Scripture. The second is to accept tradition as long as it isn’t contradicted by Scripture. The third is to accept Scripture even if it seems to conflict with Scripture (i.e. the Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception).

    The Puritans seemed to fit into camp one, which is an understanding of tradition that adds very little to the words of the Bible itself.

  4. Dear Peter,

    your comment is only true in relation to the question of how we decide how to worship God properly. It is not true of the Puritans’ attitude to theology in general. Hence they accepted the ancient creeds for instance.

    In Christ,


  5. JF,

    I think we’re talking at cross purposes. My reference to the Puritans and tradition was in contrast to the Roman position. Of course I accept that the puritans take some aspects of tradition very seriously, but in the context of my final paragraph I was comparing them to the position of Rome and that of the orthodox mainstream of the Anglican Church.

  6. Dear Peter,

    I appreciate your point but just didn’t think it was accurate. After all, the Anglican church was part of the magisterial Reformation subscribing to sola scriptura (scripture as supreme for authority in what we believe). This same view was taken by the vast majority of the Puritans. In terms of core doctrines there is nothing to choose between the Elizabethan Anglicans and the Puritans (the Puritans were a subset of the Anglican church after all!)

    It’s a tradition that St Patrick expelled snakes from Ireland and nothing in the Bible says he didn’t. Oddly enough I doubt you feel obliged to believe this as an Anglican any more than a Puritan would!

    On the other hand there was (and is) a tendency amongst some groups, such as some Anabaptists, to say that it’s the bible alone that we believe and to reject the historic creeds and confessions of the church. (You might call this solo scriptura). Such attitudes rapidly descend into heresy.

    You want to say the Anglican church is a Via Media between Rome and Geneva. So it is on matters of ceremonial and worship butit’s Articles are in the same place as the Puritans as regards what the gospel is.

    In Christ,

    John Foxe.

  7. I’m quite happy to accept that the Church of England was founded on a reformed basis. You just have to read the 39 Articles to see that. But tradition in the context I was writing about above means things like episcopality and the cathlic practice, which quite a number of puritans wouldn’t agree with.

    I think we’re both roughly in the same place on this and arguing semantics.

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