The Vicar attended the fourth and last of the hermeneutical Hui, which took place at Holy Trinity Auckland Cathedral from 1 to 2 February 2013. The two best papers given at that gathering were by Fr James Harding of the Otago Theology faculty and by Bishop Victoria Matthews, and are attached for your consideration.
The New Zealand Anglican Church has spent more time, energy and effort on this issue than any other in recent years, and appears to have little to show for it. If the same effort had gone in to say evangelism the Church would probably be a great deal better off.
Father James Harding made the very good point that the basis of our life together in the Church is a participation in the deep things of God, and in our call to discipleship. If we put these things first then other issues in our life would begin to fall in to place. I agree with this, but the section of the Church that is urgently requesting same sex marriage is the part of it that sits most lightly to that. They are often embarrassed about Trinitarian language for God, appear to be reluctant to speak of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in terms of the creeds of the Church, have a light texture to their ecclesiology, and appear to be driven by secular ideologies of "empowerment," "rights," and identity politics. This sector of the Church is intent on accommodating itself to its surrounding secular culture, and cut off from a living faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the most rapidly diminishing part of the Church.
The northern liberals stacked their diocesan representation at this event so as to make it seem that the Church is calling out for this change. At question time after the lectures they rose to give speeches for the cause, rather than to ask genuine points of enquiry. The liberals in our Church know where the levers of power are located, and are skilled at pulling them. Those who lead the Church in its growing and healthy parts have tended to concentrate on developing the life of their parishes, rather than practising the dark arts of Synodical politics. However, there is still time for them to acquire the boldness, tenacity and skill of an Athanasius. Then the Church at its upper levels will have to answer the question that really matters in this issue - what does God want of us?
Father Hugh Bowron 21/02/13
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