Peter Owen of Thinking Anglicans brings us news of a recent speech by Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, another English bishop who seems to understand that neither God nor history are on Rowan Williams' side when he attempts to hold the Anglican Communion together at the expense of gay and lesbian Christians:
I think there are some things here we need to explore sensitively together. In doing so I want to acknowledge the honesty and courage of my friend, James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, who has publicly told his own story of moving his position on the issue of homosexuality over recent years and urged the Church not to allow this issue to divide us in a way that breaks communion. And I also need to acknowledge that I have long been in a different place and so have not had to travel as difficult a path as he has to be in the place where I now am. My own understanding has long been that the Church of England’s current stance is not tenable long term, but that, while we engage, struggle, with these issues, it must be task of the bishop to uphold our agreed policy, with all its weaknesses, and to try to hold the Church together while we tackle the things that divide us. I don’t believe I can move away from that position, though I need to share with you some of my discomfort.
It is difficult to know where to begin, but I think the best place is with the categorising of first and second order issues. I am quite clear that the issues on which the creeds make a firm statement - God as trinity, the divinity of Christ, the death and the resurrection of the Lord, the role of the Spirit and more - are first order issues on which there can be no change in what the Church teaches. They are fundamental to the Christian faith. I am equally clear that there are second order issues, which are important, and where interpretation of the tradition needs to be careful and prayerful, but where nevertheless individual churches and provinces need to be free to define doctrine in the way that seems to them to be in accordance with the mind of Christ.
Peter provides a link to the entire speech.
(Meanwhile, Ruth Gledhill is talking sense, too: In a world facing the well-documented consequences of consumer and materialist greed the Church’s spiritual message is potentially of benefit to millions. If the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives can do it in Britain, surely the liberals and conservatives in the Christian world can form some sort of coalition to bring new leadership to the Anglican morass. They must put their differences behind them, for the sake of God, themselves and the common good.)