Sunday, September 02, 2007

Speaking of Lambeth 1.10 ...

We're beginning to gear up in Los Angeles for our Diocesan Convention in December. Some of the preparation for an upcoming convention is researching "conventions past" and so I thought I'd share this bit of "historic record" -- the 1998 Resolution passed by the Diocese of Los Angeles responding to the last Lambeth Conference.

Its passage reduced the then Rector of St. James, Newport Beach to tears: a dramatic 180 from the triumphalism manifested immediately after Lambeth 1998 when the AAC crowd returned, held an open "Metro Meeting" and announced that the end was in sight, the "global south" was working with them to force the American Apostates into "compliance" and "faithful Anglicans" should start sending their tithes to the AAC instead of their "liberal" congregations.

A diocese in the Episcopal Church "failed to comply" with the expressed position of the majority of Anglican bishops gathering at Lambeth Conference and the fabric of the Communion hung in there. Ten years earlier (1988) a woman was elected a bishop in Massachusetts and her episcopacy was not recognized in many parts of the Communion and everybody lived. And twenty years earlier (1976) the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared that the gay and lesbian baptized were entitled to the "full and equal claim" of their baptism and the Primates didn't call an emergency meeting of the Anglican Tribal Council to vote us off the Anglican Island!
Ah, those halcyon days of yesteryear -- when differences were not polarized into divisions and we managed to say together "Christ has died. Christ is risen Christ will come again" without excommunicating those who disagreed with us about the theologies behind the profession of faith!

Anyway, here's the Los Angeles Resolution. I offer it for the record AND as an encouragement to our bishops-soon-to-gather-in-New Orleans as an example of who we are as the Episcopal Church when we are being the best we can be: equally committed to the tradition of Anglican comprehensiveness and to the proclamation of the inclusive Gospel. May they claim that proud history and lead us to go and do likewise.
RESOLVED, that the 103rd Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles affirms Section C of Resolution 1.10 [the Resolution on Sexuality], passed at the 13th Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, that "recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation," and that state, "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 baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;" and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED , the the 103rd Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles affirms the current policy and practice that the Diocese of Los Angeles is a community in which membership in and opportunity for lay and ordained ministry shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or age; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this convention affirms the traditional understanding of the Anglican Communion that scripture, tradition, and reason together provide the basis for our discernment of God's will in our lives; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this convention cannot receive that portion of Section (d) "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture."


EXPLANATION: Since the English Reformation, the Anglican churches, in attempting to discern God's will, have relied on the authority of Scripture, a rich tradition, and the gift of human reason. Anglican theological tradition today reflects our conversation with Scripture through the centuries. Each generation interprets Scripture and the tradition in the context of its own time, culture, and understanding of the human condition. Similarly, since individuals come to the conversation from their own various contexts and perspectives, their interpretations of Scripture and the tradition often differ. In the Anglican theological tradition, we have found that, in attempting to discern God's will, we must continue to discuss with each other our differing interpretations and to be always open to the working of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we are often not able to settle on a single interpretation as definitive for all people, at all times and in all contexts.

Although a few Biblical passages address sexual behavior between persons of the same sex, they reflect the understandings of particular peoples living in particular times and circumstances. Our modern world is separated from the ancient world by different cultures and different knowledge about the human condition. Our modern world is similarly separated by different cultures and different experiences of the human condition.

These cultural differences affect the ways we interpret Scripture. These cultural differences also affect whether we believe that God's attempts to communicate with humankind are, or are not, always and inevitably filtered thought the culture of the hearers. Based on these cultural differences both with the ancient world and in our own world, as well as what we perceive as God's continuing revelation, we now allow some behaviors that some passages of the New Testament condemn (such as remarriage after divorce) and now reject some behaviors that some passages of New Testament accept (such as owning slaves).

Some of the Lambeth Conference resolution's interpretations of Biblical passages addressing sexual behavior between persons of the same sex fail to adequately recognize the cultural differences in Scriptural interpretation. Moreover, by relying only in isolated Scriptural texts, the Lambeth Conference resolution does not well reflect the Anglican theological tradition of using all God-given resources in interpreting Scripture and discerning God's will.

In the Anglican Communion we do not have consensus about homosexuality or homosexual practice. The Lambeth Conference resolution did not create that consensus. At this time it is better to live with the ambiguity of our differences and to continue our conversation on these issues. This resolution thus affirms the Anglican theological tradition of using all God-given resources in discerning how we can faithfully live out God's call for us to love God and our neighbor and to live as fully human Christian men and women in a complex world.

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RonF said...
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