Anglican Mainstream on Greenbelt

I don’t think you could have missed the furore over the past few days since Anglican Mainstream published a critique of CMS’ involvement in Greenbelt. CMS’ response was short and succint, essentially implying that the nature of Greenbelt has changed over the past decades and that their presence does not indicate endorsement of all that goes on. Comment has been thick and furious, on the Fulcrum forum, in the church media and even inside the skirting boards of the land.

Now Mainstream have responded and asked a number of interesting questions:

For the sake of the thousands of young people and young families who come to Greenbelt we are asking

a)  That in the market place a fair opportunity be given for those who present a biblically orthodox position on issues of sexuality to have equal airtime and opportunity. Since Gene Robinson is speaking, then why not invite Jeffrey Satinover or Robert Gagnon? And as there are at least three other publicly-known champions of and advocates for the LGBT agenda, there should be at least three other orthodox ones. Will Greenbelt allow a platform speaker to say that same-sex sexual practice is wrong?

b) That where Lesbian and Gay organizations are leading worship or exhibiting, similar opportunities should be given to organizations of those who are so called “ex- or post-gays”.  These people exist and are willing to speak as was evidenced on BBC 1’s The Big Question on Sunday July 4th.

What do we think? It might be useful to read the entirety of the Mainstream response as they raise issues around the role of orthodox Christian organisations in a “market-place” like Greenbelt.

Incidentally, for those from Greenbelt who might have wandered over here, read Mainstream’s questions and then worked out what this site is all about, there’s a contact form on the top of the page. Know what I mean?

5 Comments on “Anglican Mainstream on Greenbelt

  1. Hi again,

    clearly I have too much time on my hands today… :)

    A few things:

    1) I’d better say at the beginning that I’ve been a regular attender of Greenbelt since 2005, including going to the worship led by other gay Christians.

    2) Lisa Nolland’s original AM piece was poorly argued – she seemed to be simply fitting Greenbelt into her prior argument (seen before in ‘God, gays and the church’ and itself highly questionable) that there’s a developing trend towards a sexual free-for-all and that this trend is largely due to the increased acceptability of same-sex sex – someone please correct me if that’s an unfair summary. Also it’s somewhat late – worship and seminars for gay Christians has been going on for some years now, as has the inviting of ‘gay friendly’ (or indeed gay) speakers – eg James Alison in 2006 and 07. Am guessing it’s simply Gene Robinson’s presence that has caused her to notice Greenbelt now.

    3) From a very quick look at Soul Survivor’s and Spring Harvest’s websites the programmes for these events isn’t immediately visible – but can anyone tell me if they would invite a speaker such as James Alison to address folk at their festivals? I am guessing not but never having been to either may be wrong… but my point is that these 2 events could be challenged to invite ‘pro same-sex sex’ (for want of much better phrase) speakers, in just the same way (and on the same grounds) that Dr Nolland challenges Greenbelt to invite Jeffrey Satinover or Robert Gagnon.

    in friendship, Blair

    • I think item 3 is a very good point, but only if Greenbelt were to style itself as a liberal gathering. Given that it doesn’t this aspect of Mainstream’s criticism is I think, still valid.

      • Strictly speaking you’re right; it doesn’t style itself a liberal event. But, picking up on all this ‘marketplace’ talk (from AM and the CMS), that is arguably Greenbelt’s place in the ‘market’ of Christian festivals, and recognisedly so. CMS’s second point responding to AM puts it better than I just did tho’: “GB is not a confessional event but primarily a ’space’ for Christians to engage with the arts and cultural trends. There are multiple events, a great range of participants and many thousands of visitors. Many are seekers”. That “not a confessional event” seems to me the key phrase.

        in friendship, Blair

  2. Sorry to come straight back again: just read the full text of AM’s response which I should have done before. Near the end it reads: “To be dictated to by the market-place and hide or mute a confessional stance in a market place full of those aggressively promoting the gay agenda is not an option for a confessional organization”.

    I just want to say that “a market place full of those aggressively promoting the gay agenda” is outright misrepresentation. At the risk of getting rather aggressive myself I would challenge Vinay Samuel or Chris Sugden to back up that comment. In places (such as the quote above) their piece sounds knee-jerk and fear-filled to me.


  3. Peter

    Love the new look blog! And who is that young man in the top corner reading Jonathan Mills?

    Mouse’s take on the original article was mainly that the attack on CMS (and it was an attack, as it involved an attempt to organise a complaints campaign directed at the CMS leadership) was unnecessary. Whilst they are a supporter or Greenbelt, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of organisations who support in many different ways. Singling out CMS was bizarre, particularly since they are a mission agency, called to be wherever people may need to hear the gospel.

    In terms of your specific points above, its probably not the Mouse’s place to respond. However, I’m not sure you have a case when it comes to balance. There are 41 bands leading worship. The article identified two as being gay. That leaves 39 ‘orthodox’ worship acts, including pretty mainstream folk, such as Tim Hughes from HTB, a Roman Catholic group, the Taize community, a group of Fransiscans and many others. Likewise, when it comes to speakers, there are 61 speakers on the bill. You’ve identified 4 ‘pro gay’ speakers, which leaves 57 ‘orthodox’ speakers. It looks to Mouse like the balance is rather on the side of the ‘orthodox’.

    However, I don’t think this numbers game is really the point. It would be a rather sad church (in the broad sense of the body of Christ) where we had to audit member’s views on sexuality issues at gatherings, to make sure we had equal numbers on each side of the debate.

    Mouse was just irritated by the article because it was such an unwarranted attack, both on Greenbelt and on CMS. He has still been clinging on to the hope that the divide in the church can be healed. Recent events are making that look increasingly unlikely. However, Mouse will continue to commit himself to pray for mutual respect and understanding.

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