Tribes, tensions and gay marriage: What’s the future for the Church of England?

Mar 29, 2017 by

by Joseph Hartropp, Christian Today:

It’s no secret that the Church of England has been in turmoil of late. Internal tensions over impassioned positions on human sexuality and church leadership have dominated ecclesial news. Can ‘good disagreement’ in the broad church prevail, or will persistent division provoke a painful divorce?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken openly about a vision for ‘good disagreement’ in the Church, making space for opposing sides on heated issues to share peaceful co-existence. However, vocal public conflict has persisted following the latest General Synod, where a ‘traditional’ report on human sexuality was put aside and Archbishop Justin Welby called for ‘a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church’.

With both traditionalists and liberals finding themselves side-lined by those who oppose them, the project of ‘good disagreement’, as Andy Walton wrote, doesn’t look to be faring too well.

Can the Church of England hold it together, particularly on the increasingly tense question of same-sex marriage? What about the global coalition of the Anglican Communion? Christian Today spoke to Dr John Perry, an expert in theological ethics at the University of St Andrews, about sexual ethics, church tribalism and how novel yet ancient ways of thinking may offer a hopeful way forward.

He explains: ‘The camps that disagree don’t just disagree, it’s that they live in a world where they’re surrounded by people that make their position look like the majority, default position that everyone accepts.

‘Right now, in Canada, the US Episcopal Church, and in the UK, the dominant view is going to be the liberal position that supports Church liturgies for gay marriage. Because that’s the dominant position not just in church but in wider society…it’s very hard to realise that elsewhere in the world that’s still very much the minority position.’

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