Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Response to the Windsor Report

There's a new book out that is already causing quite a stir in some circles, even though it's release date isn't until tomorrow. Here is the summary of the contents of Gays and the Future of Anglicanism: Responses to the Windsor Report from O Books;

The Anglican Communion stands at a crossroads. Some want Anglicanism to be exclusive of gays, especially gay priests and bishops. The Windsor Report is seen as the means of achieving this by centralizing the Anglican Communion, and bringing wayward provinces, like ECUSA, to heel. In this collection of essays, distinguished academics from the UK and the US offer lively, thoughtful and scholarly critiques of the Windsor Report. What unites this collection is the view that Windsor does not provide a way forward for Anglicanism. Contributors write from a variety of standpoints, including justice for gays, opposition to centralization, and the need for legitimate moral diversity within Anglicanism.
Comments from Dr. Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, regarding this new work are provided by Ekklesia;

The Archbishop of Wales has welcomed a 'cogent' new book by 22 leading theologians that argues for gay people’s inclusion within the Anglican ministry.

Written by ‘some of the finest theological minds’, Gays and the Future of Anglicanism challenges the moratorium on gay consecrations and same-sex blessings of the Anglican Communion. ‘This book throws down a formidable challenge to the Anglican Communion. It cannot afford to ignore it’ he commented.

The Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, who was himself one of the people responsible for the Windsor Report, which recommended the moratorium, made it clear that the issue is far from settled: ‘The arguments advanced for including gay people [in the church] deserve to be read and pondered by all who are involved in the debate about human sexuality.’

The book says the Archbishop, ‘shows up the superficiality of previous Anglican discussion of this subject’ and should ‘give the Anglican Church in many places cause for penitence for the way it has treated and thought about gay people.’
From the comments I have seen so far, the extreme conservatives within the Episcopal Church are already ignoring this important work. No surprise, I suppose. They have ignored the Lambeth resolution regarding mandated dialogue, and ignored the parts of the Windsor Report that they didn't like; specifically the section regarding foreign bishops stealing congregations within the Episcopal Church.

The shield they use to justify their right to ignore calls for continued dialogue and continue their campaign to exclude gay and lesbian Christians from the Church is "biblical orthodoxy," by which they claim that "the bible said it, I believe it, that ends it." Never mind the myriad of passages of scripture they dismiss as being irrelevant today. It appears that their definition of "biblical orthodoxy" is whatever parts of the bible they decide are binding. Instead of being a source of inspiration, the bible has been recast as a weapon to be wielded with zealous righteousness against anyone who has the audacity to disagree with them.

Oxford theologian Andrew Linzey, one of the editors of this new book, offers this comment;

This is a welcome sign of a rethink. We were always told that Windsor was a process not a judgment – it is excellent to have confirmation of that’. Some fear that the Windsor Report will lead to the exclusion of all gays from the Church. ‘Preposterous as it sounds, some people want to make attitude to gays the criterion of being an Anglican’, added Professor Linzey. ‘The book is really a devastating critique of current church policy’.
Here is a list of the 22 theologians who contributed to this book;

Marilyn McCord Adams is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Formerly, she was Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University and Professor of Philosophy at UCLA.

Thomas Breidenthal has been Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel at Princeton University since January 2002. Previously, he was the John Henry Hobart Professor of Christian Ethics at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. An Episcopal priest, he received a DPhil in Theology from Oxford University.

L. William Countryman is the Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. He is also a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union and serves on its Interdisciplinary Committee.

Anthony P. M. Coxon is currently Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Emeritus Professor of Sociological Research Methods, University of Wales, and prior to that was Professor in the Departments of Sociology and of Health and Human Sciences at the University of Essex.

Sean Gill is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol; he was previously Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies from 1976-1996, and Head of Department from 1997-2000.

Elaine Graham is the Samuel Ferguson Professor of Social and Pastoral Theology at the University of Manchester.

Rowan A. Greer is Professor of Anglican Studies Emeritus at Yale Divinity School. His previous appointments include Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale, and Chaplain of the Theological College of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh.

Charles Hefling is a professor in the Theology Department at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Editor-in-Chief of the Anglican Theological Review; and the Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Massachusetts.

Carter Heyward is the Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Theology at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lisa Isherwood is Professor of Feminist Liberation Theologies at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. She is an Executive Editor of the international journal Feminist Theology and Co-Director of the Britain and Ireland School of Feminist Theology.

Gareth Jones studied Theology at Cambridge University, completing his PhD on Bultmann in 1988. He then spent three years at Keble College, Oxford, as Bampton Fellow, before moving to Birmingham University as Lecturer in Systematic Theology in 1991. After spending eighteen months as theological consultant to the House of Bishops of the Church of England, he was appointed to the Chair of Christian Theology at Canterbury Christ Church University College in 1999.

Philip Kennedy studied music at the University of Melbourne before joining the Dominican Order in 1977. His graduate studies in theology were undertaken in Switzerland and the Netherlands, after which he lectured on theology in Australia, United States of America, and England. He has been based in Oxford since 1994. From 2000-2004, he was Lecturer in the History of Modern Christian Thought in the University of Oxford, and is now the Senior Tutor of Mansfield College, Oxford.

Richard Kirker is Director of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, a post held since 1979. LGCM, a UK-based but internationally active ecumenical charity, with a predominantly Anglican/Episcopal membership, campaigns against homophobia and for an inclusive church. He is ordained a deacon in the Church of England, has written dozens of articles, makes regular media appearances, edits Lesbian and Gay Christians, and has been involved in establishing links with a wide variety of Church organizations and ecumenical bodies globally.

Christopher Lewis is Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. He was previously Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon from 1976-1982, Residentiary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral from 1987-1994, Director of Ministerial Training for the Canterbury Diocese from 1989-1994, and Dean of St Albans from 1994-2003.

Andrew Linzey is a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford, and Senior Research Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He is also Honorary Professor of Theology in the University of Birmingham, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago.

George Pattison is Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. Previously, he spent fourteen years in parish ministry, was Dean of Chapel at King's College, Cambridge from 1991-2001, and Associate Professor in Practical Theology at the University of Århus (2002-2003).

Martyn Percy is Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford. He is also Adjunct Professor in Theology and Ministry, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, USA (since 2002), and Honorary Professor of Theological Education at King’s College London. He is also Canon Theologian of Sheffield Cathedral. After training at Durham, he served as curate at St Andrew’s, Bedford, from 1990-94, and was then Chaplain and Director of Theology and Religious Studies, Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1994-1997. In 1997, he was appointed Founding Director, Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society.

Carolyn J. Sharp is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. She is the author of Prophecy and Ideology in Jeremiah (T & T Clark, 2003).

Martin Stringer studied Social Anthropology at Manchester University, completing his PhD on the congregation's understanding of worship in 1987. He then spent five years as a church based community worker working for the Diocese of Manchester, before moving to Birmingham University as Lecturer in the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion in 1992. He was elected Head of the Department of Theology and Religion at Birmingham University in 2002.

Vincent Strudwick is Chamberlain of Kellogg College and Associate Chaplain of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is an Emeritus Canon of Christ Church, Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College, and an Emeritus (but still teaching) member of the Oxford University Faculty of Theology.

Adrian Thatcher taught Theology at the College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth, from 1977 until his retirement in August 2004. He became Professor of Applied Theology there in 1995. He is now part-time Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Exeter.

Keith Ward has taught philosophy at the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews, London and Cambridge. He has taught theology at London, Cambridge and Oxford. He was F. D. Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology, and then Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at London University, and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University. He has been a priest of the Church of England since 1972. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Kevin Ward is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds University.

This "devastating critique of current church policy" looks like a "must read." Pick up one for yourself, then pick up another one to pass along.


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