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May 19, 2014


Kim Fabricius

Thanks for the nicely in-a-nutshell ecclesiology and the update over maters of human sexuality. Now:

Here lies the tension, which is admittedly somewhat awkward, and is a similar issue for the Church of England. The expectations and rules for ministers are different from other church members, because they are accountable to the Union in a way (outside of the Declaration of Principle) other church members and churches are not.

In my view, even for the C of E this is a quite unacceptable two-tier (laity / priesthood) ethic. Would you agree, Andy, that for the Baptist Church, given its congregationalist polity, it is blatantly, embarrassingly unacceptable?

Andy Goodliff

Kim, yes I think it is unacceptable, at the same I accept it because I'm a strange Baptist who believes in the Union as an expression of catholicity and so want to recognise a strong interdependency, that is, as Baptist churches in the Union we really are in a covenant relationship. So perhaps like ++ Rowan, I want us to keep talking so that we can find a place, through the grace of Christ, where we can remain "church", whilst having differing views on the matter. Of course, the bigger and more important issue than sexuality is money.

I find Sam Wells sermon, linked to above, very helpful in that he outlines four Christian views on homosexuality, arguing that all four are Christian and all four have strengths and weaknesses, and so this is where the conversation needs to take place, patiently, graciously and with intentionality.

As I suggest above this is unsatisfactory for both those for and against, but it is where we are and asks do we trust the basis of our Union.

Kim Fabricius

Sure thing. I feel just the same about catholicity when I consider my own URC. I'm not suggesting you go rogue. At least not yet! One day, however, this whole sexuality theo-pathology could come to a head in a status confessionis moment, ironically turning the tables on the line-in-the-concrete conservatives and traditionalists in our churches. But, yes, with Rowan, for now we must do all we can to keep the ethical ball in play.


Andy, thanks for your clear post. As I posted on Neil Brightons blog last week, a key thing for me is the removal of this line about advocacy of same sex relationships. As a 2nd yr MIT at Spurgeon's, (in a ministerial church placement) I have received no formal notification of these changes to MR Rules. Seems odd to me that the recent statement has been written in light of these changes, but that these changes have not been communicated to ministers.

I suspect this is where the confusion and misrepresentation about a change in BU policy wrt SSM has arisen. (Certainly for me, even if not for the media or anyone else!). To be sure there is no change in BU stance on the local church's ability to offer a same sex marriage. But there has been a change to MR rules which allows a Minister to perform a SSM, if the local church discerns that is God's will for their fellowship, and the Minister feels able to perform it in good conscience. It is easy to see how anyone would view this as a change to official policy, even if they are familiar with Baptist ecclesiology.

Do you know when these changes to MR rules will be formally communicated to accredited Ministers and Ministers in Training?

Andy Goodliff

I would imagine communication will feature in next Baptists Together magazine.

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