Letters to the editor

Published April 1, 2008

The Anglican Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Preference is given to letters under 200 words. All letters are subject to editing for length, grammar and clarity. Please include a mailing address with all letters.

Scripture, reinterpreted to benefit me, not you?

Dear editor,

Re: Essentials not the sole authors of this schism (February Anglican Journal). The piece by Rev. Catherine Sider Hamilton and Rev. F. Dean Mercer on the nature of the Essentials Network schism is somewhat baffling. For 2,000 years the church had no ordained women. When Canadians began debating it, the counter arguments were that Scripture was against it, tradition was against it, and liturgically, a woman cannot represent Christ in the eucharistic sacrifice. The majority of the world’s Anglicans still do not ordain women, for those same reasons. Yet we have an ordained woman (and I support her priesthood, by the way) claiming that the same kind of Scriptural interpretation that allows her to minister in what she believes God is calling her to do, may not be used to grant inclusion to gay people, who are equally convinced of God’s love for them and His call to them. I find her position paradoxical. Is this a case where Scripture can be reinterpreted if it benefits me, but not if it benefits you? 
Ford Elms
St. John’s, Nfld.

Never change?

Dear editor,

The commentary on Essentials contains an important and revealing statement. Acknowledging that “Schism is now a reality” in our church, the authors contend that the “Essentials (Network) did not start this chain of events … Their action has been, every step of the way, a response to actions of the Anglican Church of Canada, its General Synod, its dioceses and its bishops, actions that they believe to be wrong.”

One clear implication of this statement is that when parts of the church “move on,” believing they are led on by the Spirit, they can be held responsible for creating the possibility of schism. Is the church, then, never to change? Is it not possible that present movements in the church to give gay and lesbian people equal and full rights in the church are Spirit led? 

To occasion the possibility of schism cannot be in itself wrong. The Apostle Paul by his teaching and practice precipitated the “circumcision controversy,” which for decades rocked the early church. Yet those Christians came to understand that his stand was Spirit led and “essential” for the church to be faithful.

I submit that the central issue we face is not schism. It is: “What is the Spirit saying to the church?”
Rev. Robert Wild
Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Explanation, please

Dear editor,

Until we get an explanation that is understood we are asking the authors of the Essentials commentary to define core doctrine. What types of doctrine are recognized by the Canadian Anglican bishops? Despite five years of university at Montreal we never heard this term before.

(P.S. William does not approve same-sex marriages being sanctioned by an Anglican priest!)
William and Harriet Pender
Fort Macleod, Alta.

Doctrine develops

Dear editor,

Is orthodoxy simply a matter of saying the same thing that we said before? That was not the case for the bishops at Nicaea. The Nicene Creed uses a new (non-Biblical!) word to speak of the relation between the Father and the Son, because the Bible is not an adequate resource to solve the problem. It does not quite say what the church wants to say.

Doctrine develops. Always has. Always will. On this, the St. Michael’s Report is correct. The Christian faith is not “unchanging,” as Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone would have it. The church must make judgments about the Scriptures, in spite of Essentials’ protestations to the contrary (see the Montreal Declaration of Essentials). The mind of the church matters and it develops, as circumstances change and our understanding deepens.

Our task is to be faithful to the Holy Spirit’s leading, rather than assuming that what our parents have said is, by definition, the final word.
Rev. William H. Harrison
Vernon, B.C.

Government influence

Dear editor,

Re: Primate clarifies Canadian situation (February Journal). Perhaps the most revealing sentence in this article was the statement by the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, that Canadian Anglicans “do live in a country where the federal government in 2005 approved legislation that allows the marriage of same-gender couples.” As far as I am aware, that government contained no theologians and probably only a small minority of Anglicans. Surely the primate is not suggesting that the decision of that government should determine the actions of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Unfortunately, I suspect that he is, since after the decision of the Supreme Court 20 years ago that a woman was entitled to have an abortion at any time in her pregnancy, the Anglican church has been notably silent about abortion.

Incidentally, could someone please point me to a Bible verse that supports abortion or the blessing of same-gender couples? No, I didn’t think so.
Colin Dawes

Guided by Scripture

Dear editor,

It is interesting to hear from authorities in the Anglican Church of Canada that we allow certain acts because of the reality of cultural change and the recognition of it by the legislature and the judiciary in the country.

As Christians are we no longer guided by the Scriptures? Are we not failing as Christians by being influenced by society and changing culture? Is it not our ministry as Christians to teach others the Christian way and to live the Christian way of life instead of vice versa?

Are we listening to God when we interpret the words and verses of the Scripture to justify our way of life and actions?
Nicholas Fung
Coquitlam, B.C.

Put aside differences

Dear editor,

Re: Shelter program still growing (February issue). I feel very joyful when I hear the Roman Catholic and the Anglican churches put aside their differences to help those in need with such basic things as food and shelter in Canada.
Christopher Brian Orme

You are subject to laws of country of your crime

Dear editor,

Re: Primate urges PM to change position on death penalty (March Journal). I believe if you commit a crime in another country you are subject to its laws. Canada is too soft on criminals here; instead of putting them in prison, they would rather let them commit crimes over and over again. We often hear the expression “well known to the police,” yet the criminals are let off with a slap on the hand. A human life is sacred and anyone taking a life is bound by the law of the country in which they committed that crime.
Raymond Federow
Surrey, B.C.

Ecclesiastics, dogma

Dear editor,

Re: Vancouver church votes to leave Canadian church (Feb. 14 story, anglicanjournal.com). It is reported that St. John’s Shaughnessy church held a Bible study just prior to voting to split over its opposition to homosexual persons. Why? The conservative believers across the continent made it obvious that same-sex marriage and blessings were simply a diplomatic vehicle. The real underlying opposition is not to anything as trivial as redefining marriage, but exists as a fierce and vitriolic opposition to the very existence of an entire segment of humanity.

To my fellow Canadians who have created a rift that goes far beyond ecclesiastics and dogma and has turned citizen against citizen and family member against family member, I bring news that is heretical in nature: the world is not flat and revolves around the sun. Diseases aren’t caused by evil spirits, and no deity will confront you after your death with the admonition, “You were kind and compassionate to those people. You were kind to them. You are therefore banned from my sight- per omnia saecula saeculorum (for ever and ever).” 
Hugh (Bart) Vincelette

Wide tent?

Dear editor,

Re: Will the church be proud of its conduct in latest crisis? (February editorial). Grace, patience, charity and generosity: These are the traits called upon for the church to demonstrate during the coming months. So far I haven’t seen it.

As a member of a church which is holding onto biblical orthodoxy and the faith once delivered in a diocese which is leading the liberal push, we have felt anger and outright hostility from our diocese and simple neglect from the national church.

The shared episcopal ministry that was offered for dissenting parishes is so ineffective that none of the churches that tried it decided to carry on with it. Even Bishop Bill Hockin, who was appointed as the overseer, said it would not work and vacated the post. The national church has offered no alternative in the last four years. The church managed to figure out parallel jurisdictions for the military and First Nations, why not for the orthodox?

With no Canadian solution on the table we are forced to realign with other provinces still in full communion with the worldwide church. Perhaps this was the Canadian churches plan all along. And why? Well, so they can take our land and buildings. It’s like siege warfare. Wait them out and then loot their homes.

Is this the wide tent of Anglicanism?
Lesley Bentley
Lesley Bentley is a spokesperson for St. John’s Shaughnessy.

Sheep stealing

Dear editor,

I’m weary of Anglican liberals calling me a fundamentalist for agreeing with the global Anglican church’s position against homosexual practices. I am told that I am not a real Anglican, so I guess when folks like me form new parishes with supposed false Southern Cone bishops, there is no basis for liberal Anglicans to whine about sheep stealing.

I think the contradiction is explained by the fact that conservative Anglicans give much more than liberals. The liberal angst against sheep stealing can be seen as little more than trying to keep a spiritually bankrupt communion from becoming a financially bankrupt institution. Liberals want to condemn us as false Anglicans without the consequences of us forming a new communion. The only solution to this situation is for moderate bishops to show some courage and rein in the liberals. If this does not happen then a split and eventual dissolution of liberal Anglican churches into ecclesiological irrelevance is inevitable. We conservatives can remain global with the rest of the global Anglican communion, and you liberals can eventually start merging with the dying United Church of Canada.
James Love
Vernon, B.C.

On blessings

Dear editor,

I wish to correct the statement Alan MacGowan made in his February letter (Church’s failure). Bishop Michael Ingram decided, on a majority vote of the synod of the diocese of New Westminster, to allow within his diocese the blessing of same-sex relationships not marriage. If, however, Mr. MacGowan meant a blessing after a civil ceremony, that is not how I understood his letter.
Marian Buller
Powell River, B.C.


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