Australian book criticises Windsor report as deeply flawed

Church Times

The penultimate draft of a soon-to-be-published book, The Faith Once For all Delivered, edited by Peter G. Bolt, Mark D. Thompson and Robert Tong, has been distributed to the Primates before their meeting in the form of a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on the Windsor report, and a collection of brief essays, one of which was written by the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, before the Windsor report was commissioned. The book describes the report as “deeply flawed” and as using “slippery rhetoric”.

The authors say that the report is “an honest attempt to grapple with the current problems facing the Anglican Communion”, but decry its lack of comment on homosexuality as “a fudge”. They insist: “The New Testament is quite clear. A person who practises homosexuality has no right to presume that they are ‘in Christ’ at all, nor that they are part of God’s mission to the world.”

On the nature of communion (paragraphs 45-51), they continue: “There is another charitable assumption being made that all those within the Anglican Communion are children of God in Christ.”

The “misappropriation” of New Testament language in the report is described as “a grave error and seriously misleading” – a recurring accusation culminating in a conclusion that the report uses “a special kind of language to achieve its purposes – not the language of clarity, simplicity and candour but the opposite – a rhetoric of ambiguity, complexity, vagueness and equivocation” . Its authors are charged with “literary sleight of hand”, and “hermeneutical bungy-jumping”.

Dr Jensen comments in his essay “The Archbishop of Canterbury: Accountability and Unity”: “In my judgement [the Archbishop] has misjudged the present situation and his peaceable approach has run out of time. Although we may want to regard issues of human sexuality as of the second order, they are in fact so prominent in the Bible and the moral tradition is so clear that the ‘time for listening’ beloved of liberal thinkers is not available.”

The force of the argument is the authority of scripture and whether there is a fundamental divide in terms of the stance towards the scriptures. “Without this being healed, there is no point in tinkering at the structural end of the equation,” the book’s authors declare, describing the situation as “a collision of irreconcilable belief systems within the one institution”, and concluding that the way forward is “a renewed commitment to the apostolic faith in congregations all over the world.”

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