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May 20, 2012


Bishop John McIntyre of Gippsland Reneges on the Bishops’ Protocol on Human Sexuality

Well gosh, who could possibly have seen this one coming?

The Diocese of Gippsland has had it’s annual Synod and Bishop John McIntyre seems to have decided that when he agreed to the Australian Bishops’ Protocol a few months back he really didn’t mean it. His President’s Address [pdf] shows a clear determination to push against the recently-established collegiality of the House of Bishops.

Only in light of reflection on God’s Word did I finally come to understand. Despite what I or others may believe is their worthiness, the fruit of the works of many gay and lesbian people has brought God’s blessing to me and to many other people, both in and beyond the church. That is the measure of their worthiness to minister in the name of Jesus Christ in the life of the church, and in the community in the name of the church. That indicates their place in the life of God’s people.

Put simply, I think God has been saying to me for many years now “If it is good enough for me, John, why is it not good enough for you?”

It’s not like we haven’t heard this sort of argument before. Nor this one…

We all acknowledge that the church can never read the Bible in the same way once it acknowledged that Galileo was right. The world is round, not flat, despite what those who first penned the words of the Bible thought and assumed. It took the church a long time to acknowledge this, and in the name of orthodoxy, it treated Galileo rather shabbily along the way.

Here lies an exegetical parallel for our present purpose. Because of recent new understanding, we now all know that same-sex attracted people are not heterosexual people who have made a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.

The responses to this kind of shallow argumentation are legion but let me try and sum them up simply:

We now all know that adulterous people are not married people who have made a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.

let me try again lest anyone attempt the ridiculous assertion that I am equating homosexuality with adultery:

We now all know that thieves are not property owners who have made a perverse choice about how they express their understanding of property rights. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.

There’s more of the usual Boswellian argumentation but the money paragraph is right at the end. Take heed:

I make this commitment to all of you, whether or not you agree with me on this one issue. All I do, and all I will seek to continue to do, in everything I do, is to seek the will of God.
Accordingly, I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us, and I will continue to do so with a grateful heart to God for the gifts and skills they bring to us. Furthermore, I will do this within the context of the greater call of God on the whole church, which is to live by grace; to seek justice and to show compassion, in all we do and say. That is my commitment to God and to you, and I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.

So let’s just be absolutely clear on what happened here.

In March, Bishop McIntyre went to a meeting of the House of Bishops and agreed to a protocol which stated:

As bishops in the Australian Church we accept the weight of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and the 2004 General Synod resolutions 33, 59 and 61-64 as expressing the mind of this church on issues of human sexuality.

We undertake to uphold the position of our Church in regard to human sexuality as we ordain, license, authorise or appoint to ministries within our dioceses.

We understand that issues of sexuality are subject to ongoing conversation within our Church and we undertake to support these conversations, while seeking to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

and now less than 2 months later he says,

I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us ... That is my commitment to God and to you, and I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.

McIntyre agreed to uphold the position of the church - he has gone back on that agreement. He agreed to uphold that position in regard to all appointments - he has clearly signaled his intention to go back on that agreement. He also agreed to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace  - he’s blown a cannon right through that one.

Of course, he also states that he’s “willing to live with any consequences that may arise”. Somehow I doubt it - because the honourable thing to do now would be to admit that you didn’t mean a word of it when you met up with your fellow bishops (unless anyone thinks this change of heart is a sudden thing). When you lie to those you’re meant to work together with then someone’s position becomes untenable. At least it should do. Let’s see what the House of Bishops do in response.

Does this remind anyone of former Presiding Bishop of TEC, Griswold? He went to a 2003 Primates meeting where they agree on a statement that the consecration of Robinson would “tear a hold in the fabric of the Communion” then gets on a plane and goes and consecrates Robinson. The word for that is “disingenuous”. What an awful moment when bishops cannot trust the word of another bishop.


Update. The Age newspaper have an article on the division this type of thing is causing in many denominations and wider afield. Bishop Robert Forsyth of Sydney has this to say:

In the long run, someone behaving in a way that is consistently immoral working for an organisation is going to de-power and chill the fervour and the life of the organisation.

Spot on.


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23 comments

I’m beginning to think liberal liar is redundant.

[1] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 5-20-2012 at 06:56 PM · [top]

I bet he already has some appointees in mind, and if he gets them in it will be the old “facts on the ground” move.

[2] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 5-20-2012 at 07:43 PM · [top]

Thanks for posting this David.  It is important that such things be brought to public attention. 

Too often over the past four decades, ultra-liberals have been able to make inroads into the Anglican Church of Australia by stealth.  Whilst only a few of our 23 dioceses are orthodox, yet there are many orthodox believers and clergy to be found in all dioceses, who need to be galvanised into action.  Also, there are many who are liberal, yet do not agree with the extremism of people like KJ Schori in the USA, and our own +McIntyre. 

Most of our liberal bishops are aware of these undercurrents and are careful not to offend orthodox sensibilities on issues that are public enough to create waves.  Hence why the Bishops Protocol came into existence in the first place.

[3] Posted by MichaelA on 5-20-2012 at 07:56 PM · [top]

Bishop McIntyre writes:

“Despite what I or others may believe is their worthiness, the fruit of the works of many gay and lesbian people has brought God’s blessing to me and to many other people, both in and beyond the church.”

Yes, many of them are good people.  So what? In the same way, many Buddhists are good people, many Muslims are good people and many atheists are good people.  Yet that fact does not qualify any of them to be ministers in a Christian church.

Note that +McIntyre is not arguing for faithful celibate gay people to have a place in ministry; he isn’t going to that issue at all.  Rather, he is arguing that ANY person who can demonstrate good works or “fruit of ministry” should be eligible for the Christian ministry, regardless of their other activities or beliefs.  That has never been Christian teaching.  +McIntyre needs to do a really basic entry-level course in theology…

[4] Posted by MichaelA on 5-20-2012 at 08:03 PM · [top]

Let’s see what the House of Bishops do in response.

Please forgive me if I have very low expectations.  The only rational path, of course, is to remove him from office, immediately, but one certainly does not expect that to happen.  No doubt, there will now follow a period of several years in which various bishops “clarify their understanding of the protocol.”  One expects that McIntyre will now issue a press release in which he makes the protocol mean whatever he wants it to mean.  And given that he is in line with Canterbury, 815, Canada, NZ, Wales, Brazil and the vast majority of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, one imagines the matter will be allowed to simmer until Australia approves SSM.

[5] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-20-2012 at 08:14 PM · [top]

+McIntyre’s basic ignorance is astounding:

“The world is round, not flat, despite what those who first penned the words of the Bible thought and assumed.”

No, dear bishop, they didn’t think or assume anything of the kind. 

“It took the church a long time to acknowledge this, and in the name of orthodoxy, it treated Galileo rather shabbily along the way.”

???? +McIntyre needs to go back to grade school: Galileo’s controversy did NOT relate to whether the earth was flat!

Also, ‘the church’ did not treat him shabbily.  Galileo’s problems were essentially with one leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and those problems were partly caused by his own aggressive style.  In fact, in some ways Galileo himself was responsible for putting back the cause of science by needlessly alienating those in power.  His earlier attacks on the Jesuit Grassi were unscientific and unnecessary (Grassi’s theories about comets contained many errors, but they were a start; and Galileo had nothing concrete to offer in response - he seems to have been motivated purely by jealousy).

It also has to be recognised that even in his great controversy with the Pope, Galileo was wrong: his theory did not accord with the evidence, because he insisted that the orbits of the earth and planets around the sun must be circular, as that accorded with ‘perfection’.  He therefore rejected the (correct) theory of the calvinist Kepler that only elliptical orbits could explain the evidence.

+McIntyre needs to think very carefully before making public statements.  Many schoolchildren could make a speech with less errors.

[6] Posted by MichaelA on 5-20-2012 at 08:36 PM · [top]

tjmcmahon at #5, I agree.

I suspect that David does not so much have any expectations that HOB or Synod will take action, but rather intends to use public scrutiny to embarrass those who might privately agree with +McIntyre or be tempted to covertly assist him.

[7] Posted by MichaelA on 5-20-2012 at 09:00 PM · [top]

Several questions come to mind.
—Bp McIntyre is hardly the first church leader GLBT activist who has said one thing and done another.  If this calling is from the Holy Spirit, why have there been so many lies? (Titus 1:2)
—Our God is a God who honors covenant.  Would the Holy Spirit lead Bp McIntyre to break covenant with his fellow bishops? 
—Since 2003, TEC has experienced division, discord, devouring, and debt.  Why did he not acknowledge that the institutional fruit of these actions is bitter?

[8] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 5-20-2012 at 09:55 PM · [top]

I suspect that David does not so much have any expectations that HOB or Synod will take action,

indeed. There are a number of bishops, even metropolitans, who operate a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. They can’t afford to push this issue any further. Make of that what you will.

but rather intends to use public scrutiny to embarrass those who might privately agree with +McIntyre or be tempted to covertly assist him.

I don’t think embarrassment is my aim - rather the far more simple and effective method of clarity and transparency. People in the church need to know exactly what sort of duplicitous game is being played by those in authority. Surely we’ve learned something from the debacle of TEC over this issue?! If people are then embarrassed that’s their affair. I suspect for some there is such a level of shamelessness or self-delusion that embarrassment doesn’t come on the radar.

[9] Posted by David Ould on 5-20-2012 at 10:14 PM · [top]

I have followed this crisis closely for nine years, and the breadth of lying is astounding.  Perhaps the liars know they are lying but believe that the end justifies the means.  Perhaps, like Pilate, they think “What is truth?”  I don’t know. 
I would not presume to predict anyone’s eternal fate.  However, the circumstances are reminiscent of 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11:

They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

I’ve also worried about scripture’s teaching of the unforgivable sin.  Is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit the same as falsely accrediting something to the Holy Spirit?  Luke 12:10

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

. (See also Mark 3:29)
May God have mercy on us all.

[10] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 5-21-2012 at 07:09 AM · [top]

Good lord…those are mostly the same arguments that people were using in the early 1990s, and have failed to garner any scientific support. Do these people have nothing but old pseudo-scientific (a.k.a. GLBT propaganda) magazines lying around their house from 1993?

Time for the Australian church to do what the American church could never do, and declare that Bishop John McIntyre has left the Anglican communion and depose him. Yes, I know…it is ‘easy’ for me ‘to say’ this because I ‘don’t know him’: I never had to make small-talk with him at the Bishop’s BBQ, or share a golf cart with him at the diocesan 18-hole challenge, etc.

Anyone think the Episcopal church is too much about socializing rather than what it is supposed to be about?

[11] Posted by All-Is-True on 5-21-2012 at 09:15 AM · [top]

Yawn.  Scratch.  Sniff. 

Someone needs to depose that boy.  He is a lying sack of stinky stuff.

#10 - liberals believe the end justifies the means.  That’s the big difference between them and (most) conservatives.

[12] Posted by B. Hunter on 5-21-2012 at 09:53 AM · [top]

All-is-True,
Of course, I do not expect anyone to be deposed.  What I do wish and pray for (but do not expect) is that the orthodox bishops in Australia would at least bring the charge to the floor, fight the good fight, and lose with some honor.  To not even try is to openly abdicate episcopal authority and allow revision to rule the Church.

[13] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-21-2012 at 10:18 AM · [top]

So much I could write, but I’ll pick on this:

The world is round, not flat, despite what those who first penned the words of the Bible thought and assumed.

A literal translation of Job 26:10 is “He described a circle upon the face of the waters, until the day and night come to an end.” A spherical earth is also described in Isaiah 40:21-22—“the circle of the earth.” Luke 17:31 illustrates the allusion to light on one side of the globe and darkness on the other simultaneously.

So I wonder, what else could McIntyre have gotten wrong?

[14] Posted by Festivus on 5-21-2012 at 10:35 AM · [top]

@Jill, MichaelA:

The Myth of Progress: The Ethos of the Christian Left

From my experience, people who talk and act like Bishop McIntyre try to appear to be affable on the surface, but they are truly bullies. Indeed, the are willing to use the pulpit—a speech venue where people who disagree cannot respond—to push their views…they have a literal ‘bully pulpit.’

Nevertheless, what puzzles me about them is this.

Followers of Christ understand that for our faith to grow, we have to have converts in the pews. Yes, we need to do things for our children in the church. Yes, it is a beautiful thing to see people who have attended the same church that their great-grandmother did, etc.

However, our community of faith grows and stagnates depending on our ability to reach the unchurched. We know this because (1) Jesus went to minister to tax collectors and prostitutes (not to endorse their current lifestyle as Bishop McIntyre would have us believe), and (2) converts such as Saint Paul and C.S. Lewis who once opposed the message of Christ ended up being the most powerful messengers for it.

I’m not sure I know any revisionists who are truly evangelical messengers…ministers trying to win us over to their point of view with a love and a passion for truth. Their strategy is more a mixture of sneakiness and neglect (not stressing bible study, preaching sermons that are barely connected to scripture, encouraging their congregations to get caught up in socializing and trends rather than prayer and discernment, etc…all for the sake of transforming the distinctiveness of what it means to be Christian into some vague feelings about being spiritual, etc.) 

Such a strategy seems like suicide if you are trying to begin a new ‘Christian’ movement. Any religious movement grows in waves from converts who are knowledgeable of (and are now willing to defy) the conventions of their former beliefs with arguments, actions, and prayers that come from their new beliefs.

Rather than seeking converts to their new doctrine, Bishop McIntyre and others like him seem to do anything but seek them…and seem willing to drive them away. I have raised many questions to like-minded people and invited them to respond. As an evangelical Christian, I am always ready to do likewise. However, in their case, they usually say nothing, or they sit back and wait for a loyal toady to attack not my position, but my character.

How evangelical is that? How does that win converts?

Also, as Jill and others pointed out, they also seem to do the last thing any religious voice should do to bring others to their view: they lie. Since Obama’s statement about same-sex marriage, I have seen lots of Facebook posts to online essays talking about John Boswell’s old discredited book. When I told someone that Boswell’s conclusions had been rejected as shoddy scholarship by other progressive historians, a few said something such as, “Yes, it is bad scholarship, and the thesis of the book is most likely not true. But same-sex marriage should be legal anyway, and churches should not discriminate against gays and lesbians, etc.”

Okay, so they admit that the online article was totally false. But they don’t apologize (as we would) for putting false information on their FB, and they continue to leave it up on their FB wall. This reaffirms to me that they knew the story was bogus, but they think it is useful as disinformation for Christians and pseudo-Christians who are more credulous and less inquiring than I am.

Aside from the bad theology which we have already discussed, so much of what the Bishop McIntyres of the world goes against the spirit and the character of Christianity, that I think we have to assume (as most of us have) that it is not from Christ. Yet what is it? I have had difficulty with this question, but I think the character of this non-Christ movement in our church is related to what has been called the ‘Idea of Progress.’

This notion of progress has been big in our Western culture since the Enlightenment, and it basically assumes that the human condition will inevitably improve on its own. The year before Hitler came to power in Germany, British doctor Montague David Eder, who thought that the so-called ‘advancement’ of civilization was actually causing greater unhappiness, destruction, and loss of control, defined the ‘idea of progress’ in this way:

The myth of progress states that civilization has moved, is moving, and will move in a desirable direction. Progress is inevitable….. Philosophers, men of science and politicians have accepted the idea of the inevitability of progress.

This myth has many forms, and has been expressed in many different ways over the past 300 years. Two things about this before I wrap up this comment:

(1). Can you see a connection between the acts of the Bishop McIntyre types and the philosophy behind this ‘myth’? If ‘progress’ (as they have defined it) is an inevitable part in the advance of human history, what need does His Grace have to justifying himself to the likes of skunks like us? Also, what need of converts? Why should His Grace get himself dirty dealing with the proletarian abyss when the progress of human history will either set them all right or set them to gas chambers? (Hitler firmly worshiped at the altar of ‘progress.’)

(2). While I don’t want to get into the issue of the ‘idea of progress’ being a bad idea, I do want to point out that it is anti-Christian. As a Christian, I don’t believe that human advancement is inevitable (human progress seems more fickle than that), but I see progress as something that is given to us only by the grace of God for a purpose. I also don’t see the main goal in our lives as ‘progress’ but in deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ. These goals do not need to be separate all the time, but they can conflict, and when they do, we have to choose the right one.

I know that outwardly Christian charity and socialism might look the same, but they are not the same inwardly at all. They are based on two different beliefs, and they call for two very different covenants. Therefore, I embrace one and reject the other, even if the appear to be the same. The devil is really in the details.

[15] Posted by All-Is-True on 5-21-2012 at 11:04 AM · [top]

Which are the orthodox dioceses in the Anglican Church of Australia?

[16] Posted by wyclif on 5-21-2012 at 02:30 PM · [top]

tjmcmahon:

I would agree, but there is one hope. The Australian bishops have seen what happened in Canada and the United States when the McIntyre types got to do whatever they wanted, and no one took action. What was once ECUSA is now, arguably, splitting into 3 or 4 different parts. God has placed the card into the hands of the Australian bishops to avoid ECUSA’s fate: they can depose McIntyre and save their communion. I’m not saying they will do it…for bishops seem to never fail to fail at their sworn duties to defend our faith. But the choice has to be much more clearer for them than it was for our bishops here. I hope they play their card.

[17] Posted by All-Is-True on 5-21-2012 at 02:38 PM · [top]

(17)
I hope and pray they do, also.  Irish bishops are in much the same situation, as they are now faced with actually having to do something after their recent Synod vote, or have it mean nothing, or worse than nothing.

[18] Posted by tjmcmahon on 5-21-2012 at 02:56 PM · [top]

What I’m actually asking is which are the orthodox dioceses in Anglican Church of Australia? I know Sydney is one. There are others?

[19] Posted by wyclif on 5-21-2012 at 03:10 PM · [top]

Wyclif, there are indeed others. By ‘orthodox’, I mean “believing that the bible, creeds and formularies have objective meaning and authority”. A simple test, which most liberals fail.

Mind you, a diocese is a complex organism and its always somewhat of an approximation to say that it is orthodox or liberal or anything else.  But I think the four that are clearly orthodox are: Sydney (evangelical), Northwest (evangelical), The Murray (anglo-catholic) and Ballarat (anglo-catholic). The last three are small (in numbers of Anglicans - Northwest is one of the largest diocese in the world, geographically).

In addition, note the following:

Armidale used to be orthodox evangelical. They have just called my former rector Rick Lewers as their new bishop. Rick is strongly bible-based and focussed on evangelism, so I think that augurs well for Armidale.

I always thought of Adelaide as liberal, but recently their archbishop was invited as an observer to a Global South conference, so perhaps something is happening there.

Melbourne has been a (polite) battleground between liberals and evangelicals for years. The liberals seem more dominant at present.

Others with knowledge of Australia might chime in as well with their perspective.

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 5-21-2012 at 04:11 PM · [top]

All-is-true at #15,

I feel your pain. It is important to remember that the liberal revisionists who are so dominant in western Anglican churches are actually a small minority in global Anglican terms.

One of the great things about the internet and websites like Stand Firm and Titus One Nine is that they help us to keep in touch with the strong leadership being given by Anglican leaders all over the world, in particular the Primates of orthodox provinces.

I hope you have found somewhere to worship where your church, rector and bishop are faithful to biblical truth. Depending on where you are, that may be easy, or quite difficult. If you are in North America and there are no faithful Anglican churches near you, perhaps it is worth getting in touch with Anglican1000 to see if there are like-minded persons or families in your area who might start a new church plant.

[21] Posted by MichaelA on 5-21-2012 at 05:39 PM · [top]

“...a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality.”

Please tell me, Mr. McIntyre, what it is about two men sodomizing each other that is so attractive to you and to your organization?

[22] Posted by GrandpaDino on 5-21-2012 at 08:45 PM · [top]

+Gippsland writes:

…we now all know that same-sex attracted people are not heterosexual people who have made a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality.

Master of the bleeding obvious, he is!

Here, let me edit that sentence for him, All it requires is a small addition, more or less as follows: <blockquote> …how they express their sexuality, rather they are people whose sexuality is gravely disordered, for reasons which are rarely known to others, let alone to themselves. Therefore they need our love and understanding, not to mention our prayers that God will heal them or that they will call and heed God’s call to a chaste celibate life.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[23] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 5-22-2012 at 05:51 PM · [top]

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