The Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, has written to his clergy in response to the Appellate Tribunal opinion and a meeting of the House of Bishops.

In a letter published on the Sydney Anglicans website Davies describes the opinion as

hard to fathom, as it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible

letter to Sydney clergy, Archbishop Glenn Davies

At their meeting the Bishops agreed to “publicly acknowledge areas of … disagreement” and it seems that Davies has taken the opportunity to do just that, making his ad clerum publicly available. The letter makes Davies’ position absolutely clear:

In my opinion the effect of the majority opinion’s legal interpretation undermines the clear teaching of Scripture and thereby dishonours God.

Davies’ letter is accompanied by a longer piece from Bishop Michael Stead which explains the opinion in more detail and offers some substantive critique.

It is clear now what the conservative/orthodox response to the Appellate Tribunal will be. In line with the Primate’s comment that the opinion is “an important contribution to the ongoing conversation” rather than a binding ruling and that “a meeting of the General Synod is due to be held in 2021 where the Tribunal’s opinion is likely to be considered”, the rapidly emerging argument from conservatives is:

  1. The majority opinion clearly has a number of serious flaws and inconsistencies.
  2. The right place to come to a firm position as a national body is the General Synod (due to be held in 2021).
  3. There ought to therefore be a commitment to restraint until General Synod has met, not least for the sake of seeking to preserve unity (just as the Primate has asked).

Whether that unity can be preserved will now depend largely on the decisions and actions of a number of diocesan bishops. Will they ask their dioceses to wait until General Synod? Will they give assent to any potential motions or resolutions of their own synods and diocesan councils? Ultimately, when their own recent statement closes with these words,

We call upon all members of the Anglican Church of Australia 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 wellbeing of the world Christ calls us to serve.

House of Bishops statement, Friday 11 November 2020

are they personally committed to it?

Archbishop Davies’ letter:

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Bishop Stead’s analysis:

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3 comments on ““Difficult Days for our Church” – Archbishop of Sydney writes to clergy

  1. “… Anglican church?”, said the old farmer.

    “Are they Christian?”, he asked me, entirely without guile. I guess he had, probably, never once, in his life, even been inside a Church.

    Archbishop Davies must think the ACA is a Christian Church as it would otherwise not be difficult for him to fathom the Opinion of the Tribunal given that it was contrary to Scripture. What my friend, the farmer from Wangaratta, could have told him, more or less, was that it if you don’t take the Christian Bible as being normative, then you can’t be a follower of Christ, except in your own eyes. You might take the Good Book as containing all things necessary for salvation, but obviously, this would just be pulling the wool over the eyes of the Archbishop and his supporters – not my mate from Wangaratta.

    • I don’t think Davies is fooled for one minute about the situation. But there’s a process to follow here and what we’re now watching is that process being worked through. I think 2021 will see some public decisiveness following on from General Synod.

  2. Archbishop Davies gets it right – the House of Bishops & the Board of Assessors unanimously advised the Tribunal that the teaching of the Bible & thus of the Church is that the sexual union of two persons of the same sex is sin, which is why clergy are forbidden to solemnise same-sex marriages, for To Bless Such A Union (an inescapable element of Holy Matrimony), would amount to the blessing of sin.

    Entirely logical Archbishop. So why do you & your colleagues allow your clergy to continue, to this day, mixing Holy Matrimony & the Marriage Act which, from December 2017, defines marriage as the union of “2 people” including, in your phrase, two persons of the same sex? Did no Bishop foresee the problems ahead?

    Why can’t the House of Bishops give next year’s General Synod immediate assistance by directing ministers to offer religious marriages only? If men & women so married want to be legally wed as well, how hard is that for them to arrange? PN

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