The Australian House of Bishops have been gathered over the past few days for their annual meeting. Their time together climaxes with the election of a new Primate tomorrow (where they will be joined by 24 lay and clergy electors).

davidould.net has been in contact with a number of those present and, while we cannot provide any direct quotes, it is now quite clear that there is a real division within the House of Bishops over the question of sexual ethics and, particularly, whether same-sex marriage ought to be blessed in one way or another. Bishops have spoken to us of their distress at some of what they are hearing and have asked for grace and wisdom to handle what is clearly a very difficult situation.

The recently installed Bishop of the Murray, Keith Dalby, put it this way in his typical diplomatic style:

It appears that revisionist bishops are refusing to resile from their position, despite it being clearly contrary to an agreement the bishops had previously made, let alone the overwhelmingly clear mind of the national church as expressed at the General Synod.

Tomorrow the diocesan bishops will remain and be joined by a panel of electors as they choose their new Primate. We’ve written previously about the choice before them and the most likely candidates.

Conservatives electors who we spoke to over the past few days have told us of a determination to vote for a Primate who, in their words, would, “uphold both the doctrinal position and the polity of the national church”.

While there are some procedures set out in the relevant canon, the electors have a large degree of flexibility in how they conduct the process. In the first round all diocesan bishops are nominated. Those who receive no votes are removed in the second round along with any who choose to remove their own name. After that there are continued rounds of voting until a candidate can command a majority in all three houses; bishops, clergy and laity.

If no Primate is elected then the senior Metropolitan, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, would be appointed as interim Primate for a period covering the upcoming General Synod in June which he would then chair.

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8 comments on “Australian Bishops in “Tense” Meeting as Signs of Division Grow

  1. I can relate to this division. At the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia nearly two years ago, the Conservative Evangelicals had exactly this division and lack of common purpose.

    The solution adopted was absolutely crazy …

    “Dual integrities” in the Church. Two gospels.

    Redefining sin. Questioning the authority of the Scriptures.

    sigh

      • In the non-conformist (Presbyterian governance) Churches, the National Assembly which meets every three years is the (supposedly) Top Doctrinal body (read Archbishop / Bishop level.

        This was a meeting of minds of essentially Episcopal equivalent significance.

        Thence come State Synods and Regional Presbyteries (aka Regional Diocese equivalent)

        And the essential issue was Orthodox vs Revisionist forces at play.

        But UCA is not technically Episcopal, I accept that.

    • Two gospels?

      Or was it one Gospel and one something else?
      (I’m reminded of the quote of Augustine, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself”.

      • Well, “dual integrites” was supposed to allow each to believe and pursue their own interpretation, one orthodox, and one progressve and agree to allow the other to likewise pursue their equal and opposite view, and then pretend there was “Unity in Diversty”.

        This was fundamentally flawed, as the Orthodox view rejects absolutely the Progressive view, naming it as false teaching and apostasy. Thus there is no right hand of fellowship remaining, and an inability for the Orthodox Evangelicals to even partake in Holy Communion with such apostates.

        So we have two Gospels, one is truth, and other is a lie.

        • And this is the fundamental problem with Bishop Peter Stuart of Newcastle.

          He wants to somehow ‘just get along’ with the two camps somehow finding the ‘Newcastle Way’ forward. It has failed miserably. Peter has little to no time for evangelicals, if the truth be known. He refuses to meet at all with me, once a Newcastle Anglican until he discovered I was a Conservative Calvinist Evangelical. He tried to persuade me to take on Fulcrum in the UK, and when that failed, cast me aside and did not blink an eye with the change of denominations to UCA Evangelicals.

  2. “It appears that revisionist bishops are refusing to resile from their position, despite it being clearly contrary to an agreement the bishops had previously made, let alone the overwhelmingly clear mind of the national church as expressed at the General Synod.”

    It is high time that Gafcon oversaw the establishment of independent Anglican churches in the dioceses of these revisionist bishops. Let it be made clear that the orthodox message carries powerful resonance for ordinary people.

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