Australian Bishops Issue Statement: “…there is not a common mind…”

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The Australian House of Bishops, who have met again on Friday 20 November, have issued a statement in response to the Appellate Tribunal’s opinion.

The bishops had already met the previous week, albeit briefly online, and that meeting was described to as “difficult”. There was some expectation that this week’s meeting might result in the issuing of two separate statements, signalling a clear split in the House. While that has been avoided, the statement that was issued shows clear signs of a split that the Bishops’ collegiality cannot mask.

Commenting upon the growing divide, the Bishops say,

Members of the House of Bishops have variously received requests to restrain clergy from exercising this ministry and, on the other hand, to welcome the opportunity for this ministry. There is not a common voice. With pain we recognise that there is not a common mind on these issues within the House of Bishops. Yet we are of one heart and mind in love towards those with whom we disagree and in our desire to serve Christ and see God’s kingdom grow.

That love towards those that they disagree with will not, apparently, extend to honouring the Primate’s call to not act until General Synod has met next year.

The Bishops’ resolutions include (my emphasis),

a. to seek to speak the truth in love, mindful of Jesus’ prayer for His followers in John 17. In particular, we will publicly acknowledge areas of agreement as well as disagreement among us;

b. to engage with our Diocesan Synods and Councils as they consider the Opinions and any implications for their life and witness;

Bishops will now publicly acknowledge their disagreement on this fundamental question and we should therefore expect to see clear statements from a number of them in support of the revisionist position as well as orthodox Bishops making their own statement.

The language of “engagement” is fairly empty and meaningless. What responsible Bishop does not already “engage” with their synod and council?

What is missing, of course, is any language of restraint. By contrast the NSW Provincial Standing Committee met earlier this week and passed a resolution that “requested the ministers of the Province to wait and not to act upon these matters until they are debated at the next General Synod.” That Province includes the Diocese of Newcastle which is one of the two dioceses to have already authorised a blessing liturgy.

The full text of the Bishops’ statement follows:

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. chris russell

    This document brings to mind the words of Revelation 3 to the church in Sardis: you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead (verse 1). Those Anglican clergy of Sydney, and elsewhere in Australia, who are opposed to the blessing of homosexual marriages, and identify themselves as being “conservative”, appear, in reality, to be neither hot nor cold.

    If they believed before God what they are always saying, in relation to this matter, they would not join with offending clergy who flat out reject Scripture and boast with them that we are all of one heart and mind “in our desire to serve Christ and see God’s kingdom grow”, and nor would they join with them in prayer “that we might be sustained by the Holy Spirit in unity, truth and holiness for the glory of God and the well being of the world Christ calls us to serve”.

    This is formulaic language of which Anglicanism is the master, but it is also sentimentalism without a shred of integrity. The words of Revelation 3:16 apply: “… because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”.

    Sadly it appears that the Evangelicals of Australia may be playing much the same game with our Lord God as their English counterparts, namely, scheming for institutional autonomy or a Province that they can call their own. I recall that Archbishop Glenn Davies, at one point, did call on the apostates in the ACA to leave the Church and take their new sexual ethics teaching with them. This is the only option that has ever been available.

  2. Andrew K

    It will be very interesting to see what (some) individual Bishops have to say in the coming weeks and months.

    I don’t know if I want to know!

  3. Paul Nolan

    To me, the assembled Bishops resemble goldfish thrashing about in a slowly leaking bowl. How could they (plus the Primate) have not seen this wedge coming when they decided in early 2018 to keep using the Marriage Act?

    Were they fooled by the then Attorney-General when he stated the “exemption” he put into the Act (at s.47(3), meant they could carry on marrying opposite-sex couples exclusively without worrying about discrimination claims from same-sex couples?

    Did they not foresee that once the Act permitted same-sex marriage, the cry would go up from some of their number to (at least) bless the marriages of same-sex couples if not go to the next step & marry them? A wise House of Bishops’ would have compromised by agreeing to offer religious ceremonies only.

    The birds are coming home to roost & the Bishop’s collective inattention will split the Church. PN

  4. Neil Cameron

    The bishops do not appear to have read the opinion. In fact there are 2 opinions which make up the “opinion” of the Tribunal. Both from lay members and both very different.

  5. Robert Bruce

    Apostates rejoice! The end is nigh.

  6. Larry Howard

    Sadly, these debates continue among our church leaders while they cover themselves with various expressions of comfort and reassurance about their “desire to serve Christ”, “to seek and speak truth in love”, and “to join us in prayer that we might be sustained by the Holy Spirit in unity, truth and holiness for the glory of God and the well-being of the world Christ calls us to serve”.
    Regrettably, I still cannot get any answer to a simple question from those church leaders who support SSM, namely “please show me just one instance in Scripture where God has blessed (or even endorsed) a homosexual relationship and I will re-consider my position against it”.
    Can anyone help me please? Otherwise those expressions of their “desire to serve Christ”, etc seem very hollow.

  7. Brendan McNeill

    The orthodox objected to heresy while the heterodox sought unity. One sought to divide, the other to unite. At least that was the subtext in NZ.

    Ultimately the orthodox kept their integrity while the heterodox kept the buildings and the trust funds.

    In the light of eternity, it seems like a fair exchange.

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