If you assume a position based upon a legal claim, you better make sure your legal claim actually supports your position. A lesson the Church Missionary Society should learn.
There has been another kerfuffle in Talibanglican Land this week. One group of people have been going around saying another group of people are being wicked, because a third group of people have invited a fourth person to come and speak to a fifth group of people. Which, being translated, means Anglican Mainstream (so-called) have accused the Church Missionary Society of sponsoring homosexuality because they are part of the Greenbelt Festival, which has invited Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire to speak at the festival in August. This is, of course, wicked, because Gene Robinson is the most notorious homosexual and sinful person in the history of the Anglican Communion. CMS have attempted to dodge the bullet, issuing a statement on Wednesday refuting most of Anglican Mainstream’s accusation. Amongst other things it says:
We are not “sponsors” [of the festival] as has been stated, but “associates” and as such CMS is not involved in the particular decisions under debate.
In other words, it wasn’t down to us, guv, but if it were, different decisions might’ve been made. CMS go on to say:
While we understand the reasons why Greenbelt has invited Gene Robinson, we are unhappy about it, particularly at this time in the life of the Anglican Communion. CMS supports the Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10…
For those of you with lives, and who might not know, Lambeth 1.10 is the resolution from the 1998 Lambeth Conference much trumpeted as the “law” broken by the Episcopal Church in the USA when they consecrated Gene Robinson bishop. Part of the resolution states that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions”. That’s the clause which “forbids” Gene Robinson’s ministry. But an earlier section also says: “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” In other words, just as the churches are called to withhold from ordaining those involved in same gender unions, the same churches are called to undertake a “listening process” on the experiences of homosexual persons. It strikes me that inviting a (famously) homosexual bishop to speak, is a good example of the listening process, and expressing an unhappiness about the invitation, whilst proclaiming an adherence to Lambeth 1.10 is nothing but rank hypocrisy.
In the good old days people would be open about their prejudices. If you don’t think a homosexual should have a teaching ministry in the Church, then fine, say so. But don’t express “unhappiness” under the cover of a quasi-legal resolution which itself undermines your position. If CMS are so unwilling to listen to the context of Christians in the “first world”, then it makes me wonder what they are doing in the mission fields.