Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury responds to David Cameron

David Cameron: “...if our Lord Jesus was around today he would very much be backing a strong agenda on equality and equal rights, and not judging people on their sexuality...

“I don't want to get into a huge row with the Archbishop here, but the Church has to do some of the things that the Conservative Party has been through. Sorting this issue out and recognising that full equality is a bottom-line, full essential.”

Dr Rowan Williams: “I’d say that the main thing is something to do with the nature of freedom in society – and thus also with how we talk about our ‘rights’. Of course, this was most in evidence in the Equality Bill debates, though it was obscured by fantastic overstatements from zealots on both sides. The basic conflict was not between a systematic assault on Christian values by a godless government on the one side and a demand for licensed bigotry on the other. It was over the question of how society identifies the point at which one set of freedoms and claims so undermines another that injustice results. As in fact the bishops’ speeches in the Lords made quite clear, (despite the highly-coloured versions of the debate that were manufactured by some) very few Christians were contesting the civil liberties of gay and lesbian people in general; nor should they have been. What they were contesting was a relatively small but extremely significant point of detail, which was whether government had the right to tell religious bodies which of the tasks for which they might employ people required and which did not require some level of compliance with the public teaching of the Church about behaviour. Government had difficulty seeing that this was not just about clergy and official teachers of the faith; the Church had difficulty explaining that there might be positions, not covered by the neat definitions offered by the government, which had some kind of semi-official standing such that it would be very strange for someone to hold such a position when they were manifestly in dispute with some aspects of the Church’s teaching. But – as our own ongoing discussions about office-holders in the Church and membership of the BNP and similar organisations demonstrates – it is by no means easy to define at what point you want to identify the posts that have such a public and symbolic character that you need to require some kind of compliance.

That underlines a number of important things about the equality debates. One is that we all in fact recognise that communities and organisations have a certain liberty to define what belonging to them might entail; those who belong have to some extent chosen to live with the limits that a community has settled upon, even if they want to argue with those limits or seek to shift them. The limits may thus be a bit fluid; but whether and when they change is not to be decided from outside. The second point, arising from the first, is that if we concede the right to government to settle matters for religious bodies in some areas, how do we resist it in others? The rights and dignities of gay and lesbian people are a matter of proper concern for all of us, and we assume with good reason, even, I should say, with good Christian reason, that the securing of these rights is obviously a mark of civilised and humane society. When those rights are threatened – as in the infamous legislation that was being discussed in Uganda – we quite rightly express repugnance. But not all governments are benign and rational. And it is a short-sighted government that creates powers for itself which could be used by a later government for exactly opposite purposes. Not the least irony in the recent controversy is in the echoes of debate twenty years ago about another government’s attempts to regulate teaching about sexuality in schools – but in a quite opposite direction to what we now see prevailing. The freedom of government to settle debated moral questions for the diverse communities of civil society is not something we should endorse too rapidly: governments and political cultures change, and it is a mistake to grant to governments authority that could impact on us in other and even weightier areas, whatever authority we grant government to define fundamental and universal legal entitlements in society at large.

It cuts both ways. The diverse communities of civil society cannot and should not try to determine for the whole of society what legal freedoms should be granted to any particular category of people; but they will argue stubbornly for the freedom on their side to settle for themselves – not at the government’s command – how they define the jobs people do publicly on their behalf as specific communities of belief or interest. It is blindingly obvious that there are grey areas here, and that this formulation does not absolve us from argument; it is equally obvious that civil society communities, even religious ones, may change their expectations and conventions. But looking at it strictly from the rather abstract viewpoint I have been taking here, what matters is that government acknowledges that there is a boundary that it is risky to cross without creating ideological powers for the state that could be deeply dangerous for liberty in general.

In this case, the balance of liberties seems to come out in favour of the liberties of the religious community. Granting such communities freedom to define their own position does not negate the general legal freedoms of anyone; attempting to bind such communities by legal definition arguably does negate the liberties of the community to be what it says it is. But what about the second major ethical matter that has again been in the public eye lately? You will hear many saying that the Church’s opposition to legalised assisted dying is precisely an attempt to ‘determine for the whole of society what legal freedoms should be granted’; which would imply that the balance of liberties here comes out against the Church. I think this is wrong. The Church does not assume that it has the right to impose any solution; but it will argue fiercely, so long as legal argument continues, that granting a ‘right to die’ is not only a moral mistake, as I believe myself, but the upsetting of a balance of freedoms. The question isn’t about disadvantage to the Church (no-one – yet – denies the Church’s freedom to have a view and even a discipline about this), but about the liberties of some of the more vulnerable of the general population. The freedom of one person to utilise in full consciousness a legal provision for assisted suicide brings with it a risk to the freedom of others not to be manipulated or harassed or simply demoralised when in a weakened condition. Once the possibility is there, it will not only be utilised by the smallish number of high-profile hard cases but will also create an ethical framework in which the worthwhileness of some lives is undermined by the legal expression of what feels like public impatience with protracted dying and ‘unproductive’ lives.

I don’t think anyone in this hall would be unmoved by some of the agonising cases that have been in the public eye lately. And, as Andrew Brown shrewdly noted in the Church Times last week, the anxieties are also about our own future and our own capacity to bear prolonged pain and disability. But most of us here, I suspect, would say that the balance of liberties still comes out against a new legal framework, and in favour of holding to the principle – not that life should be prolonged at all costs, but that the legal initiating of a process whose sole or main purpose is to end life is again to cross a moral boundary, and to enter some very dangerous territory in practical terms. Most of us would still hold that the current state of the law, with all its discretionary powers and nuances about degrees of culpability in extreme cases, serves us better than an opening of the door into provision for the legal ending of lives.

You may disagree with the conclusions I have sketched on these two issues, but I hope you may also see that there is indeed a fundamental complex of concerns here about the balance of liberties in society. The questions are not best addressed in the megaphone tones we are all too used to hearing. In terms that I want to come back to later, they require a three-dimensional approach. The debate over the status and vocational possibilities of LGBT people in the Church is not helped by ignoring the existing facts, which include many regular worshippers of gay or lesbian orientation and many sacrificial and exemplary priests who share this orientation. There are ways of speaking about the question that seem to ignore these human realities or to undervalue them; I have been criticised for doing just this, and I am profoundly sorry for the carelessness that could give such an impression. Equally, there are ways of speaking about the assisted suicide debate that treat its proponents as universally enthusiasts for eugenics and forced euthanasia, and its opponents as heartless sadists, sacrificing ordinary human pity to ideological purity. All the way through this, we need to recover that sense of a balance of liberties and thus a conflict of what may be seen as real goods – something of the tragic recognition that not all goods are compatible in a fallen world. And if this is true, our job is not to secure purity but to find ways of deciding such contested issues that do not simply write off the others in the debate as negligible, morally or spiritually unserious or without moral claims.

Something of that ‘tragic’ awareness is hard to avoid when we look at the decisions that face us in our Church. Most hold that the ordination of women as bishops is a good, something that will enhance our faithfulness to Christ and our integrity in mission. But that good is at the moment jeopardised in two ways – by the potential loss of those who in conscience cannot see it as a good, and by the equally conscience-driven concern that there are ways of securing the desired good that will corrupt it or compromise it fatally (and so would rather not see it at all than see it happening under such circumstances). And for both many women in the debate and most if not all traditionalists, there is a strong feeling that the Church overall is not listening to how they are defining for themselves the position they occupy, the standards to which they hold themselves accountable. What they hear is the rest of the Church saying, ‘Of course we want you – but exclusively on our terms, not yours’; which translates in the ears of many as ‘We don’t actually want you at all’.

And in the Communion? There is an undoubted good in the independence of local provinces, and there is an undoubted good in the fact that some provinces are increasingly patient, compassionate and thankful in respect of the experience and ministry of gay and lesbian people – entirely in accord with what the Lambeth Conferences and Primates’ statements have said. But when the affirmation of that good takes the form of pre-empting the discernment of the wider Anglican (and a lot of the non-Anglican) fellowship, and of acting in ways that negate the general understanding of the limits set by Bible and tradition, there is a conflict with another undoubted good, which is the capacity of the Anglican family to affirm and support one another in diverse contexts. The freedom claimed, for example, by the Episcopal Church to ordain a partnered homosexual bishop is, simply as a matter of fact, something that has a devastating impact on the freedom of, say, the Malaysian Christian to proclaim the faith without being cast as an enemy of public morality and risking both credibility and personal safety. It hardly needs to be added that the freedom that might be claimed by an African Anglican to support anti-gay legislation likewise has a serious impact on the credibility of the gospel in our setting.

And in the Communion we have no supreme executive to make the decisions that might settle how the balance of freedom might be worked out. The Anglican Covenant has been attacked in some quarters for trying to create an executive power and for seeking to create means of exclusion. This is wholly mistaken. There is no supreme court envisaged, and the constitutional liberties of each province are explicitly safeguarded. But the difficult issue that we cannot simply ignore is this. Certain decisions made by some provinces impact so heavily on the conscience and mission of others that fellowship is strained or shattered and trust destroyed. The present effect of this is chaos – local schisms, outside interventions, all the unedifying stuff you will be hearing about (from both sides) in the debate on Lorna Ashworth’s motion. So what are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation? As I have said before, it may be that the Covenant creates a situation in which there are different levels of relationship between those claiming the name of Anglican. I don’t at all want or relish this, but suspect that, without a major change of heart all round, it may be an unavoidable aspect of limiting the damage we are already doing to ourselves. I make no apology, though, for pleading that we try, through the Covenant, to discover an ecclesial fellowship in which we trust each other to act for our good – an essential feature of anything that might be called a theology of the Body of Christ.

This, you see, is where the Christian understanding of freedom has a distinctive contribution to make to the broader discussion of liberties in society. Christian freedom as St Paul spells it out is always freedom from isolation – from the isolation of sin, separating us from God, and the isolation of competing self-interest that divides us from each other. To be free is to be free for relation; free to contribute what is given to us into the life of the neighbour, for the sake of their formation in Christ’s likeness, with the Holy Spirit carrying that gift from heart to heart and life to life. Fullness of freedom for each of us is in contributing to the sanctification of the neighbour. It is never simply a matter of balancing liberties, but of going to another level of thinking about liberty. And the ‘purity’ of the body of Christ is not to be thought of apart from this work. It is not to put unity above integrity, but to see that unity in this active and sometimes critical sense is how we attain to Christian integrity. The challenges of our local and global Anglican crises have to do with how this shapes our councils and decision-making. It is not a simple plea for the sacrifice of the minority to the majority. But it does mean repeatedly asking how the liberty secured for me or for those like me will actively serve the sanctification of the rest.

Sometimes that may entail restraint – as I believe it does and should in the context of the Communion – though that restraint is empty and even oppressive if it then refuses to engage with those who have accepted restraint for the sake of fellowship. The Covenant specifically encourages and envisages protracted engagement and scrutiny and listening in situations of tension, and that is one of the things that makes it, in my view, worth supporting. If one party accepts restraint, it must be in the hope that they and the rest of the fellowship are then prepared to engage and to look critically at their own assumptions as well as those of the others. For Christians, the ‘balance of liberties’ is not static.

Here in the Synod, we face not only the question of how we are to frame legislation that, as I think I’ve said before in this context, has something of good news in it for everyone, not only for one group, but also the longer-haul question of how we go on learning from each other beyond the point of decision. Whatever we decide, we need to look for a resolution that allows some measure of continuing dignity and indeed liberty to all – in something like their own terms. It isn’t enough to brush aside the problems some find with codes of practice or others find with the need for women bishops to transfer authority automatically. People have a claim to be heard in their own terms, just as we have been arguing in Parliament. And we have to make difficult judgements about whether granting this freedom to this group is more likely to undermine someone else’s freedom than if the position were reversed. Only – as Christians we somehow have to add to that the question of how granting any freedom anywhere is going to set free the possibility of contributing to each other’s holiness.

Earlier I mentioned ‘three-dimensionality’. Seeing something in three dimensions is seeing that I can’t see everything at once: what’s in front of me is not just the surface I see in this particular moment. So seeing in three dimensions requires us to take time with what we see. It may help us look more critically at solutions that seek to do much all at once; and perhaps to search for structures that will keep open the ability to learn from each other. Sometimes those structures may embody what seems to some an unwelcome degree of distance: that would be true of some possible consequences of the Covenant and some proposals for the minority in the women bishops debate. What matters, though, is what they would make possible if used creatively over time; we cannot predict what future reconciliations may be helped to happen by imaginative and empathetic policies now.

But there is the simpler sense of three-dimensionality which just reminds us that the other we meet is the person he or she is, not the person we have created in our fantasies. The priest from Forward in Faith finds himself going to a woman priest for spiritual counsel because he has recognised an authenticity in her ministry from which he can be enriched. The Christian feminist recognises that the Resolution C parish down the road has a better programme for community regeneration than any other in the deanery. The week before last, I spent a morning in the parish of St Ann’s, South Bronx, in New York, one of the most violent and impoverished communities in the city. I watched them feeding several hundred people, I was taken to the after-school club where local children learn the literacy and other skills they don’t get in their public schools. I spoke with an astonishing Hispanic woman who has single-handedly created a campaign against gun crime in the Bronx that seeks to bring a million women on to the streets, and I saw how prayer unobtrusively shaped every aspect of this work and how people were introduced to Jesus Christ. And I was reminded of another parish in New Orleans that I visited a couple of years ago – a local church planted as a result of the relief work of the Diocese, when local people begged for a church to be opened because they had seen the love of Christ in the work done with and for them. Three-dimensionality in the Episcopal Church which some are tempted to dismiss as no more than a liberal talking shop. I’ve no doubt similar stories could be told of parishes in the ACNA. And then I think of a telephone conversation in December with the Archbishop of Uganda, discussing what was being done by Ugandan Anglicans in the devastated north of the country – in the rehabilitation of child soldiers and the continuing, intensely demanding work with all victims of trauma in that appalling situation, work that no-one else is doing or is trusted to do; and the ongoing work of care for those with HIV, where the Uganda Church was in the forefront of African responses to that crisis. Three-dimensionality in a church that has been caricatured as passionately homophobic and obsessed with narrow Biblicism.

It is only a three-dimensional vision that can save us from real betrayal of what God has given us. It will oblige us to ask not how we can win this or that conflict but what we have to give to our neighbour for sanctification in Christ’s name and power. It will oblige us to think hard about freedom and mutuality and the genuine difficulty of balancing costs or restraints in order to keep life moving around the Body. It will deepen our desire to be fed and instructed by each other, so that we are all the more alarmed at the prospect of being separated in the zero-sum, self-congratulating mode that some seem to be content with. If, as Our Lord says, the blessed are those who are hungry for God’s justice, perhaps we shall discover our blessedness as we hunger for what the neighbour, the stranger and the opponent has to give – and find the time for them to give it and us to receive it: ‘doing justice’ to them in their three-dimensional reality. And we may be able to show to the world a face rather different from that anxious, self-protective image that is so much in danger of entrenching itself in the popular mind as the typical Christian position. I deeply believe that this Church and this Synod is still capable of showing that face and pray that God will reveal such a vision in us and for us.

© Rowan Williams 2010
(His Grace hopes His Grace will not object to its reproduction here).

Granted, the response could have been somewhat shorter, but the Archbishop had to address more audiences than just the Leader of the Opposition, though the response to him is most certainly evident. When Mr Cameron is speaking to the Church, he is a Christian with a hymn sheet. When he speaks to the gay community, he is gay with Attitude. This is not so much the Pauline precept of being all things to all people in order that all might be saved by whatever means possible, but a prostitution of principle by which every vote may be won.

Perhaps ‘twas ever thus.

But David Cameron's appeal to all people is not remotely the same as that of St Paul, whatever some commentators may insist. St Paul embodied a principle common to all who would provide leadership to a community of pluralism comprised of a divergent and mutually-exclusive truth claims and behaviours. A leader must construct bridges both of understanding and of persuasion in such settings. But such reaching-out never compromised the foundational prerequisite to effective leadership - core conviction. For St Paul, accommodating the views of others had nothing to do with diluting the gospel message, compromising its ethical demands, or creating doubt about its central tenets. Paul never modified the message of Christ crucified to make it less of a scandal to Jews or less foolish to Greeks.

Core convictions also demands that one does not dilute the philosophy of conservatism, compromise its ethical demands, or create doubt about its central tenets.


Anonymous philip walling said...

Quite, Your Grace(s).

Rowan Williams' reply will be impenetrable to most of the people who need to hear it.
Could he not have got someone to paraphrase it for him so that it is at least clear what his main points are.

The conclusion one is driven to is that David Cameron is too nakedly opportunistic to inspire trust in the electorate at a time when it has never been more important that he speaks to people from principle.

One example that I think will come back to bite any future Conservative government is allying himself with Lord Stern, who is a shameless mountebank and when the truth comes out a Conservative administration will be tainted by it.

He seems to be doing it to court the Green vote, but it's one thing promoting sustainable agriculture, and another completely swallowing all the outlandish claims of the likes of Stern and Al Gore.

10 February 2010 at 11:37  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"Could he not have got someone to paraphrase it for him so that it is at least clear what his main points are."

Err... His Grace has tried to do this for His Grace by placing the pithy points in bold type.

10 February 2010 at 11:41  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

Yes, I see that, but surely Y G's blog isn't the official version that will be disseminated to the waiting masses.

10 February 2010 at 11:43  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Sorry that last reply should have been from me.

10 February 2010 at 11:44  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Well. You have, without doubt, served us with bread and wine this morning. First and foremost, His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury has locked horns, as it were, with the issues that many of the posters here are concerned with.

It is going to take the rest of the afternoon to meditate on what he has said.

Secondly, the thoughts in your conclusion reveal the central hallmark of a great leader: you teach whilst you lead. Every great leader has possessed that quality.

10 February 2010 at 12:05  
Blogger John.D said...

You would think that nailing your son to a cross would be enough to highlight the seriousness of the situation really, but obviously not.

Maybe this is why we have all been created with and arsehole, so we can strive to overcome the tendency to act like one.

It's a fairly good speech, but did it get through the liberal filters? And maybe Dave has the correct formula after all for the modern age of superficiality - it's like Neuro Linguistic Programming, you just mirror the behaviour of those you are trying to win over - so Dave acts like a whimsical tit who changes quicker than the wind and adopts the love all, anything goes version of the Gospel that is infecting the country.

We have the Gospel according to homosexuals, we have the Gospel according to women, we have the Gospel according to the Conservative Party, we are in the process of developing the Gospel according to Islam - where can we expect to take it next I wonder?

10 February 2010 at 12:10  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I wish the Archdruid would learn from his Lord on how to communicate more succinctly.

What I read all seemed sensible enough but I couldn't be bothered to read past paragraph 630.

Can someone in his communications office not just issue executive summaries that fits onto 1 side of A4? If he can't say what he needs to say in less space than that then he needs to re-think his arguments.

10 February 2010 at 12:18  
Anonymous Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace, the Archbishop does not do short does he?

10 February 2010 at 12:21  
Blogger Sinful Soul said...

Your Grace,

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a man caught in homosexuality
and when they had set him in the midst,

They say unto him, "Master, this man was taken in homosexuality,
in the very act, Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned to death: but what sayest thou?"

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground,
as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at him".

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience,
went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last:
and Jesus was left alone, and the man standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the man,
he said unto him, "Man, where are those thine accusers?
hath no man condemned thee"?
He said, "No man, Lord."

And Jesus said unto him, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more!"
John 8:3-11

"Go and sin no more" I believe Your Grace means homosexuality is a sin,Jesus did not condemn but did tell him to sin no more.

Your Grace ,I pray that the politicians realise that a devout christian ,as is written in the Bible will always believe homosexuality to be a sin and could never accept it as not,

or adjust their faith in Jesus`s teachings just to stay in keeping with cultural fashion,or be shamed and brow beaten by a politician with populist opinions who is wooing homosexuals to win votes and enforce "Equality Bills" on the faithful.

Sola Scriptura.

10 February 2010 at 12:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you translate and summarise for us Cranmer? Bullet points? Just tell us whether he is in favour or against whatever it is that he is speaking about.

10 February 2010 at 12:34  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

A very thoughtful response from Rowan Williams. He is easy to criticise for length but the substance is excellent and leaves many of his detractors looking decidedly lightweight.

If you take him on, you had better be similarly comprehensive and measured.

10 February 2010 at 12:40  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"Can you translate and summarise for us Cranmer? Bullet points?"


His Grace will go for the red letter strategy.

10 February 2010 at 12:47  
Blogger John.D said...

I will sum it up for you:

The Gospel is not all about queers and women getting their own way. Some things are as they are and what we need to do is search for commonalities and meeting points rather than diluting the sacrifice that God made to save us from hell.

10 February 2010 at 12:56  
Blogger Sinful Soul said...

Your Grace,

Are we not all one under God through Jesus Christ,Gods Laws not mans reveal the truth,God will sit in final judgment, and each soul will be held to account for their sins.

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 1:2

Sola Scriptura

10 February 2010 at 13:01  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

YG Conspicuous by its absence was a single reference to either the authoritative word of God, namely Scripture, or even an argued principle drawn from those Scriptures. A serious omission.
We expect from an Apb. a reasoned appeal from what he professes is his own source of authority, otherwise we can only conclude that his opinion is no better/worse or authoritative than any other.
But in any case, the ground has been adequately covered in a maginificently argued, Biblically based, and readably short,
discussion by our greatest poet and pamphleteer, John Milton.
In his 'Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes, his sub title says all that needs saying on the subject

"Showing that it is not lawful for any power on earth to compel in matters of religion"

I rest his case.

10 February 2010 at 13:10  
Blogger Botogol said...

what is the point of being the Archbishop of Canterbury - or of being any kind of clerfy really - if you can't express yourself in clear language so that people can understand.

I gave up, and read His Graces red highlights. Hardly helps. (not wishing to take anything away from His Grace's valiant efforts).

Jesus spoke in short sentences, often extremely plainly. That was effective.

Granted, he sometimes he cloaked his meaning in cryptic parables, perhaps that's where the archbish gets his inspiration, but even when Jesus was speaking in riddles he took care to use plain language, at least.

10 February 2010 at 13:18  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

There is a fundamental issue that flows like an undercurrent in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech. It is an issue where either the Church frames the paradigm in which the discussion takes place or this national socialist government does.

The central issue, in the 21st Century, in this federated state, of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is this: the limits of liberty.

Ironically, this government has reopened the debates over the limits of liberty that led to civil war in the 17th Century. This has been engineered by the collapse of the Judaeo-Christian consensus which has been replaced by socialist values enforced by local and central authorities.

The idea of rights, historically, on both sides of the Atlantic has been essentially a conservative idea. But today, we conservatives have become suspicious of our legacy (in the hands of the socialist). For example, under the European Convention of Human Rights the argument has been advanced for a brother to marry his sister (right to a family, under Article 8 of Schedule 1 Human Rights Act 1998). These rights are no longer interpreted form within the Judaeo-Christian perspective but from the Left-liberal license standpoint.

The two major factions in this Culture War are Left-liberal defenders of license and conservative defenders of liberty (‘freedom within form’ and ‘form within freedom’ framed by moral injunctions).

This conflict was recognised by John Locke (1632 – 1704) in his Essay on Toleration which made a distinction between liberty and license in that there are freedoms that we are repelled by and which is the duty of the government to extinguish usually through criminal and civil law as well as the policies adopted by the Government.

The US Supreme Court in the case of Planned Parenthhood v. Casey expressed the Left-liberal position well: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life.’

The brilliant English philosopher, Roger Scruton, commented: ‘Any attempt by the legislature to forbid activities that this or that liberal conscience might seize upon as essential to the goal of self-fulfilment, or as justified by the “mystery of human life,” can be struck down as unconstitutional. And the effect of this over the last 40 years has been to erode the distinction between liberty and license to the point where the legislative privileges once offered to marriage and the family have now entirely disappeared.’ (Scruton, Templeton Essay (January 2009).

Why would this national socialist government want to interfere with a private association such as the Church?

It is because the conservative idea, liberty of association, that enables us to close the church door on ‘our oppressors and open it to our friends’ permits civil society to mature in a way which meets the disapproval of a socialist such as Harriet Harman – it flowers with aims, hopes and ambitions which are outside of the control of socialist doctrine and often inimical to its teachings (because the state cannot control rules for membership, for example). Under Soviet communism the federal state controlled the local brass band, the stamp club, the symphony orchestra, the Boy Scout Association, the chess club (it allowed the private family). All these forms of association threatened the state, they were regarded with suspicion – even the churches came under their control.

But, in Poland the space inside Catholic churches provided liberty of association and commands such as ‘Render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and render unto God that which belongs to God’ could be discussed and people encouraged to act upon conclusions.

The collapse of Soviet communism occurred in Poland first!

10 February 2010 at 13:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I earlier had the beginnings of a migraine, I now have a glass of water and two co-codamols. Waffle must be like yawning, once one starts there is no stopping it.

10 February 2010 at 13:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weak minds are easily confused. Marxist secularism is a competing religion. In its effort to prevail, it is attempting to convert Christians to its dubious and un-Godly tenets. There can be no compromise with it.

10 February 2010 at 14:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Side effects: co-codamol:

Side effects can include: constipation, skin rashes, dizziness, sedation, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity reaction, fainting (syncope or near syncope), nausea and/or vomiting, confusion, loss of short-term memory, drowsiness, changes in blood, allergic reactions, euphoria, dysphoria, abdominal pain, pruritus (itching), easy bruising, bleeding gums, dry mouth and addiction.

10 February 2010 at 14:23  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Mr Singh,

rem acu tetigisti!

Every change during the last twenty years has tended to aggrandise the power of the state at the expense of liberty.

And I object fundamentally to being mulcted of large parts of my income to pay for a state that oppresses me. I agree there is no compromise with these socialists, but they will, I trust, be thwarted when my money and that of the millions of other people they prey on runs out.

10 February 2010 at 14:46  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

@Anonymous, 14:23

...but constipation is the first and the worst. I speak whereof I know.

I notice that Rowan Williams seems (verbally) to suffer from the opposite.

10 February 2010 at 15:08  
Blogger JPT said...

Well said Cranmer.

10 February 2010 at 15:16  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

We criticise enough the "sound bite culture".

Even if some of us do not have the stomach for a lengthy and carefully argued case, let us rejoice that we have some that are willing and able to write in an articulate way on complex matters.

It will give our critics something to do if we simply say "Everything you ask is answered in this piece!"

It does need to be done and Rowan Williams is the man for the job.

10 February 2010 at 16:43  
Anonymous Carlsberg said...

At least the Archbishop can hold his head up and say that he has tried to uphold hundreds of years of tradition and has not caved in to the pop culture of the day. We have recently witnessed the departure of a disgraced Speaker from the HOC; our sovereignty tossed away like a paper aeroplane; and the face of the nation changed and warped all out of shape, but so far the man at the head of the Anglican Church is refusing to let go of his Christian principles, and indeed the inheritance for future generations, by holding fast to his guns and armour. It must feel like a lonely task in these days of frivolous and capricious priorities. Maybe those of us who admire this should at least say as much.

10 February 2010 at 17:13  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I am a little tempted to accuse the archbishop of defining the church into a civil service role .

Post by sinful soul had some meaning for me , when jesus drew a line in the earth , he was showing them a "dividing line" , it is interesting that he chose to draw to show , rather than to make a speech . The righteous and the sinner is why jesus is the completetion of the law .

The law given to moses has authority and shows the civil society whch all must subject to , in todays more educated society ir perhaps seems crude in that no one really discusses its reduced/compressed workings in whole.

"go and sin no more" suggests that the law (then hoarded by the pharisee in a sort of elite) is somthing that comes into play with sin . jesus may have been pointing out that all have sinned all invoked the law , if a person sins no more , then the people with stones should have no need to throw them , it says somthing to both the sinner and the stone thrower about a greater responsibility to work for .

However surely the role of the church is speak into sin in such a way as to put its powers into retreat . The idea that legislation on what the church can do is a non starter , for the church is inspired by jesus and not modern day pharisee .

I fear the archbishop is not keen on telling people to sin no more , and is instead seeking the view from the other side of the line on dropping the stone and not judging in the hope that the empty space will be filled. Throughout jesus ministry there is this interplay between the spirit and the law /mind set of the pharisee , the thing inivisible to the law .

We dont know much about the person who was asked to "sin no more" wether they changed/mended there ways through fear of being stoned by the rightous mob again , or wether somthing completed in there mind and they "sinned no more" because they saw the triumph of jesus and loved/worshipped him.

Under the equalities legislation , a question that needs to be continually asked in each generation was being held up as final answer and it would seem the story altered in that all should turn on christ and stone him for interfering !.

I have doubts that ordaining practicsing homosexuals wether in civil partnership or not will work , it cannot help but change the churchs message , which indeed is what many of us are concerned about .
Did christ exclude people from his ministry ?? or did he elude that sin within excludes a person ?? .

I am not sure if modernity will ever answer that question although the archbishop seems to be tempted it may.

10 February 2010 at 18:17  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Fresh air, at last!!

What a pleasure after trying to breathe in an asylum appropriated by inmates, and a farm run by animals who can't, or won't, tell a pearl from a pea. Not only do they exploit dear old dobbin, they won't even admit to the qualities apparent in thoroughbreds and race horses. (ergo -- what would happen to RC art treasures if that lot ever got hold of them...)

Today I am grateful not only for the wisdom and truth expressed here - but also for a demonstration of first class pedagogy. The ABC got quite Boethian in there, what with his 'goods' etc! I'm so glad too, that he's taken the stand about what's really going on.

Thanks to Your Grace for your fine presentation, highlights, and summation. Long may Your Graces combine your talents, resources and brilliance!!!

You have, further still, invited and elicited outstanding responses; not least, Mr. Singh has surpassed himself today - thank you.

It all leads, indeed, to one of Our Lord's great pearls: "Seek and ye shall find." As Augustine indicated, we need the mental exercise. We must contribute to the development of our insights, if we are to find our way through the deep waters of this world - the maze of its paths; and the Gospels and Christ are our beacons.

Marxist teachers pretend to imitate this, but when they (e.g the derry boy) emulate the knots of scripture - their messages are hot air and commonplaces. Themselves, in fact! And don't ever dare to disagree with their Directives .......... Talk about updating the Party Whip.

As to the length of the ABC's speech - has anyone measured the length of the Fry person's tissue of half-stories, obfuscations, and etceteras?

Now Milton, as Graham Wood pointed out, got it right by and large. A bit long, sometimes. But wonderfully right.

Thanks to all.

10 February 2010 at 18:18  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Your Grace,
In some ways a written constitution saves an awful lot trouble.
The First Amendment - 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof' has prevented much meddling.
Even though the forces of collectivism assault it at every opportunity it still remains a mighty bulwark to counter their wiles.
Politicians tread very carefully around issues related to religion. Cameron would be cut down in a heartbeat.

10 February 2010 at 18:40  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Lancad : I am not convinced that written constitutions are little more than comfort for lawyers pension funds .

10 February 2010 at 20:11  
Blogger D. Singh said...

No-nonny and Graham Wood: brilliant.

10 February 2010 at 20:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 February 2010 at 20:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 February 2010 at 21:29  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

@SS: If you want to make your point based on Scripture, you should quote Scripture correctly.

It was nót a homosexual caught in de act, that was brought before Jesus Christ, but a woman caught in the act of adulterty.

Ending with 'Sola Scriptura' when you yourself knowingly twisted and changed Scripture to make a point, is not only hypocritical; you loose all credibility.

And this is a shame.

The government should stay out of our pulpits, out of the church, out of our Christian schools, out of our ministries! We do not pay them to become the most oppressive force of terror in the land. But since we are governed by fools - due to the 'democratic' process and the fact that there are always a majority of fools, always outnumbering the wise...if there are any left...

I explain more in my Petition to be offered to the Netherlands government which I wrote because of the Declaration of War against the Church by the Dutch Minister of homo-'emancipation' ( emancipation = liberation of what? How far can a nation go down when it has a Minister of State assigned to that ?) This Minister also participated in the homosexual so called gay-pride-canal-parade. God resists the proud. Such homosexuals make God their enemy by their pride and by their choice.

For my Petition and the explanation go to

10 February 2010 at 22:58  
Anonymous len said...

David Cameron,' if our Lord Jesus was around today',
He most certainly is! Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it, but rather to rescue it! So instead of approaching people on the basis of their sin, he deals with them on the basis of his love. Which is to say, he offers grace. What is the nature of that grace? The chance for a new beginning. The opportunity for a fresh start. The power to change. The enablement to live without being driven and controlled by sinful compulsions.

The offer of grace is not the condoning of sin, or the ignoring of it. It is not the pretense that sexual sin does not matter or is of no significant consequence. It is the offer of freedom from it’s trap. He tells the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more.” He invites the woman at well to drink “living water” and never thirst again! Jesus is really good at seeing people for who they are, treasuring their intrinsic value despite their sin and dysfunction. The extension of his grace includes the idea of transformation from the inside out.

The Apostle Paul elaborates on this transformation in his letter to the Romans: (Describing the born again, transforming process),

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:6-14 is.

11 February 2010 at 00:26  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

Jesus Christ does not have a spineless, jelly-fish kind of what nowadays is labeled those who refuse to acknowledge He has a will, and a LAW, and MUST be obeyed, or else.

If you have chosen to be a homosexual, you can NOT be a Christian! Because a Christian has repented of his sins, and has turned to Christ and chooses to do His will. Not that by obeying the law he would thereby live. No but because he loves Christ, the disciple of Christ does not want to do anything against His will. Jesus Christ is his LORD now! He reigns supreme in the life of a Christian.

But in the life of the sinner, be it a homosexual or any other sinner, Christ is NOT on the throne. The sinner is. The homosexual who wants to continue in his sin, is still on the throne and therefore Christ is not, and he is therefore and can not there for be a Christian, unless and untill he repents of his sins, and resigns his throne and invites Christ as His Lord whos will reigns supreme!

And no abuse of tirannical government power can try to manipulate or force the church of Christ to accept otherwise.

Any government that wants to continue on this road, hidden as 'equality' or 'hate-speech' or other laws and abuses of governments powers, including the courts and police, is a tyranny!

And tyrannies do not remain for ever! People will always revolt against it and win.

Now, we were doing fine for a long time. Where did all this government oppression come from? The USA Congress already decided in 1963 to favor and support and promote homosexuality as an offical policy. For homosexuals do not multiply. So it was considered a way to deal with the world-overpopulation that the Club of Rome lied the world about, causing panic.

Why must the church be forced by abuse of government-powers to accept the totalitarian politically-correct (Marxist) State-ideology that homosexuals are 'born that way' and that homosexuality is normal, thus be forced by the State to disobey Christ?! True Christians and the true Church of Christ never can and never will obey man more than God. We rather die for Christ, in disobeying authorities that demand us to disobey Christ, than be made slaves of a godless, moral-less rebellious band that rules the land.

When politicians dare enter the pulpit to tell the Christians what they should do, or what Jesus would do, tyranny is at hand.

Governments should stay out of the church, out of our pulpits, churches, ministries, homes. Their violation of this, is oppression and tyranny that destroys the nation.

Governments can not do what God called the church to do. So the government should not take over the church. It is absolute arrogance and utter blindness of present days governments that are doing that. Governments should learn to value and respect and protect the church, and give it full freedom to do the will of God. This will bring proseperity in and to the land.

Why in the world would governments want to promote sin? That is what they do when they promote homosexuality and forbid the church to declare and do God's will. And force churches and Christian schools to hire people whose lives violate the very foundation that the life of the Christian and of the church is founded upon, and depends upon: Obedience to Christ, the Head of the Church.

It makes the governments instruments and servants of satan. And the end is what satan wants, and it ain't good for anybody!

11 February 2010 at 02:02  
Blogger Sinful Soul said...

@DutchLions22:58-Ending with 'Sola Scriptura' when you yourself knowingly twisted and changed Scripture to make a point, is not only hypocritical; you loose all credibility.

And this is a shame.

Dutch-I do not seek your approval,I seek only what I believe to be the truth.

11 February 2010 at 08:15  
Anonymous len said...


If you are preaching only the the law of God you are no better than a modern day Pharisee.This is exactly the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees.

Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which He places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfillment, then deliverance from law means that He no longer requires that from me, BUT HIMSELF PROVIDES IT. Law implies that God requires me to do something for Him; deliverance from law implies that He exempts me from doing it, and that in grace He does it Himself . . .The trouble in Romans 7 is that man in the flesh tried to do something for God. As soon as you try to please God in that way, then you place yourself under law, and the experience of Romans 7 begins to be yours.( A life of struggle. guilt, failure and condemnation.)

The problem is not with the law (see Rom. 7:12); the problem is with sinful man (Rom. 7:14; 8:7).

Grace overcomes sin through Christ Jesus.
The law intensifies sin!
This is the Gospel Paul preached (and for which he suffered religious persecution!

11 February 2010 at 08:55  
Blogger Sinful Soul said...

Dutch-I stand corrected,my origional quote was paraphrased,not by myself I might add.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

I shall take more care in future,the truth is hard to find at times.Thank you for the heads up.

11 February 2010 at 09:19  
Blogger Ian said...

YG, D.Singh, no nonny, len - thanks, great posts.

There are far more educated people than myself here, to who I offer thanks for your insights.

However as a person who believes that most times simple is best, I feel I should have been given a medal for wading through the ABC's response.

This refusal to call a spade a spade, must be really demoralising to those who look to him for leadership in these challenging times.

Someone referred to Stephen Frys 'lecture' and the point is well taken, but (without the video confirmation) he is at least passionate about what he says, if for all the wrong reasons.

11 February 2010 at 14:08  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

@SS: I am glad you are willing to accept correction: This is the right attitude for every Christian. Including me. This is how we grow.

@Lien: To preach grace makes no sense, and is unbalanced and therefore error when there is no reason for grace. I have some acqaintances who object being called a sinner. They see no problem so to come with a solution to a problem people do not reckognize, makes grace and forgiveness and salavation of no value.

That is why we must preach the law of God, because the law makes sin known.

As in society, nobody can be accused of transgression and punished for whatever deed, unless there is a law that shows what is right and what is wrong.

Then when the law says something is wrong, and someone transgresses the law, he can be prosecuted and punished. The law is a standard, and measuring rod.

Without the law everybody is his own law. And our society shows much of that attitude.

Jesus Christ took the sins of the world upon Him. If there had been no sins because there was no law, there would be no requirement for the satsfaction of the consequcnes of sin.

I recommend you to read, watch, listen to Ray Comfort's message "hell's Best Kept Secret" and also "False Conversion - True Conversion."

We should not use the law to kill, but to bring life. The letter of the law, Scripture says, kills, but the Spirit gives life.

It is time the people of God to know the Word of God and how to interpret and apply Scripture as the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

One section of Christianity is inbalanced because it lack true spirtual life, and the manifestation and gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is just Word, dry as stale bread.

Another section, like many Charismatics, majors in experiences...feelings... and 'manifestation of the Spirit' which should be measured and tested by a living, working knowledge of Scripture. Most Charismatics pursue feelings, worship services, worship and praise concerts because it gives a good feeling...not God is in the center, while the other section of Christianity cares more about the Word of God than the God of the Word!

Enough. Lien, balance grace with judgment. No one respects God's grace unless he has understood that he deserves the penalty of sin: DEATH! And only by grace are we saved, by faith; it is a gift of God, not by works, lest any man would boast, says Ef. 2:9 (if I remember correctly) But most people disagree with God that they deserve death for theirsins, because the law is not preached!

I want you to watch "The Revival Hymn" that you can find on I could give you further links. I posted it in youtube myself, but you will find it when you do a simple search by google. This way you can also find Paul Washer! I recommend his sermons and teachings.

11 February 2010 at 21:36  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

Just checking my new picture: Spiritual warfare

11 February 2010 at 22:11  
Anonymous len said...

Dutchlionfrans 1953

Romans 7 is written to Christians not the unsaved.
The Gospel means the 'good 'news, Saying to people they are sinners and they are going to burn in hell( not that you put it that strongly, but some do)is definitely not the 'good news'.
Much of "Christian culture" today associates the Gospel with the statements"Your`e a sinner, if you don`t repent your`s going to hell. Now this is a true statement.There is a Heaven and a hell, but its not the Gospel.
As a matter of fact, its the complete opposite of what Paul was preaching.
Romans2:4 says its the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not judgment and condemnation.
The Gospel is directly related to the Grace of God.Thats the only way this forgiveness for sins can be obtained.

When someone wonders"If I tell people about the goodness of God, what will make them understand they are sinners needing salvation?"
Pauls answer was that they already knew!In their hearts people already knew they weren`t good but sinners in need of salvation.

12 February 2010 at 01:20  
Anonymous len said...

N.T. Wright’s Treatment of the Theology of Justification,

(Part of complete article)

What is the Gospel?

Ask someone in the church today what the gospel is, and you are likely to get an answer straight off an evangelistic tract that would be handed out on a street corner; a step-by-step recipe of what one must do to gain salvation. Realize that you are a sinner, recognize that you cannot reach God by your own power, repent of your sins, and accept Jesus as your savior by praying this and that prayer. Wright does not want to argue against this use of the word ‘gospel,’ he just wants us to realize that Paul’s use of the word euangelion (‘gospel’ or ‘good news’) did not have this meaning. Some argue whether Paul’s meaning comes from the Hebrew context or the Hellenistic context, but the meanings are not so much different that a distinction really needs to be argued about. The Greek meaning refers to the announcement of a great victory, or a royal birth, or a ruler taking the throne. The Hebrew understanding comes from a series of passages in the book of Isaiah such as:

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7)!6

The gospel for Paul is the proclamation of Jesus, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his kingship and his lordship; these in direct opposition to the authority of the pagan rulers of Rome. Paul sees his new vocation as a herald of the king to the pagan world!

12 February 2010 at 09:09  
Anonymous len said...’s-treatment-of-the-theology-of-justification(len 09;09)

12 February 2010 at 09:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,with all due respect.tell us what the bible says about have such great responsibility to guide the people.we all know that homosexuality was one of the evils that existed in Sodom and gomola just before God burnt it to ashes,does that mean God is now lowering his standards.we get proud of people like Bishop Orombi of uganda who openly oppose it.
reffering to what David Cameron said"if jesus was around to today........"jesus is here everyday and he speaks to us through his word(the bible)and his word clearly opposes gay relationships

24 February 2010 at 14:31  

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