Our post yesterday, Have we not "done the theology," or not owned what we've done?, created a fair amount of comment. The most recent of those comments is from Bishop Pierre Whalon whose thoughtful essay for Anglicans Online argues that while blessing gay and lesbian relationships and consecrating LGBT candidates to the episcopacy may be a good thing, the Episcopal Church has not yet explained why it is a good thing.
In his response to comments Whalon writes,
My Anglicans Online column has stimulated some good conversation, at least.We also commend the careful comment by Jason Cox for your reflection.
A few points: there is plenty of theology done around the full inclusion of gay people in the church. I have read most of it, if not all, over the years. None of it has been endorsed by the General Convention as reflecting the teaching of the The Episcopal Church.
The General Convention, not the bishops, sets the teaching of the Church. None of the documents cited were given that status.
To Set Our Hope On Christ, as good as it is, is a document produced privately, never discussed by either GC or the House of Bishops, before or after it was presented at ACC in Nottingham. Ask the delegates who are our friends there what they thought at the time.
It may be that the process currently starting in the House of Bishops with a group of fine theologians from across the spectrum of opinion will lead to something that both Houses can approve. Then again, maybe not. The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, which I am on, will be collecting resources for 2012, as well.
Of course there is an Anglican ecclesiology, and therefore a characteristic way of doing theology. Part of that way is the emphasis on local dioceses over against a larger structure, a longstanding theological perspective which has become known fairly recently as "subsidiarity". The Episcopal Church has practiced it since 1789, and I think it is a very sound way of being Church. But there is also the need for the whole, as well, to proceed together from time to time. In such a structure, making decisions that affect the whole is more difficult than in other more centralized polities.
In other words, there is no "inquisition." No magisterium, either. And no need of either. But the global nature of life today requires a joint effort.
Eventually we need to get around to changing canons, prayer books, etc., and to have some catechetical resources on the topic. And they should be official. There is a lot at stake, as all the posters are pointing out.
Hope this helps.
A blessed Lent to all.