Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Samuel and Sugden: Reflections on the decisions of the Anaheim General Convention

An analysis of the noes ( those who said no to DO25 and CO56) shows that those who did it out of a confessional doctrinal basis are only a small number – no more than 10 people. This is very clear when some of them who have said no are on record as saying that this is not the right time or the right strategy. Some of those who have voted yes to the motions (see Thinking Anglicans 21 July) have also signed the Anaheim statement. The motives of the people seem to be as broad as the The Episcopal Church (TEC) itself. The desire of the orthodox to witness leads them to work with fellow travelers, but being fellow travelers does not mean that they are fellow orthodox. The view that there are a substantial number of orthodox is seriously flawed.

The Anaheim statement also makes clear that they no longer define themselves as members of TEC. The first draft commited them to the canons and constitution of the TEC. That is now dropped. But what kind of a communion is this of which they want to be a part. Is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) part of the communion of which they want to be a part? Is the communion to be defined by the Ridley Covenant? If that is so, then that has not been adopted yet and is unlikely to be for some time. What is in common is their fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury. That is a personal identity of an office of bishop which is constitutionally in communion with Canterbury, What about a local church? Can it be in communion with Canterbury? How low do you drive this – to dioceses or parishes? Will dioceses be able to sign up to the Ridley Covenant? These are questions which the whole thing leaves unsatisfactorily vague.

It is also interesting to see the justification given by TEC that this is nothing new – the "no" does not mean what it says. This has been the double-speak that TEC has often engaged in. Does it mean there are no moratoria? What It is saying is that the original resolution was only advisory and that dioceses had to make their own judgement. The advisory has been taken away so that dioceses can make their own decision. If this is the case then does the church not have a position? The church does have a position. Look at the position of the hierarchy – look at the vast number who have decided for CO56. The direction is set and the hierarchy is pushing in that direction. So TEC has deliberately walked away. It gave the impression, by the earlier decision of the 2006 Convention to abide by the moratoria, that it had stopped walking away. Now it is moving – but in which direction? It has not remained the same. All the current dissimulation, that the decisions of the Anaheim Convention have not changed anything, is entirely false. Read more
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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Non-Muslims turning to Sharia courts to resolve civil disputes

Increasing numbers of non-Muslims are turning to Sharia courts to resolve commercial disputes and other civil matters, The Times has learnt.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that 5 per cent of its cases involved non-Muslims who were using the courts because they were less cumbersome and more informal than the English legal system.

Freed Chedie, a spokesman for Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siqqiqi, a barrister who set up the tribunal, said: “We put weight on oral agreements, whereas the British courts do not.”

In a case last month a non-Muslim Briton took his Muslim business partner to the tribunal to sort out a dispute over the profits in their car fleet company. “The non-Muslim claimed that there had been an oral agreement between the pair,” said Mr Chedie. “The tribunal found that because of certain things the Muslim man did, that agreement had existed. The non-Muslim was awarded £48,000.”

He said that the tribunal had adjudicated on at least 20 cases involving non-Muslims so far this year. The rulings of the tribunal are legally binding, provided that both parties agree to that condition at the beginning of any hearing.

Anti-Sharia campaigners, who claim that the Islamic system is radical and biased against women, expressed alarm at the news. Denis MacEoin, who wrote a recent report for the think-tank Civitas examining the spread of Sharia in Britain, said that MAT’s claims about non-Muslim clients “raises all sorts of questions”. Read more
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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Fiscal ruin of the Western world beckons

Events have already forced Premier Brian Cowen to carry out the harshest assault yet seen on the public services of a modern Western state. He has passed two emergency budgets to stop the deficit soaring to 15pc of GDP. They have not been enough. The expert An Bord Snip report said last week that Dublin must cut deeper, or risk a disastrous debt compound trap.

A further 17,000 state jobs must go (equal to 1.25m in the US), though unemployment is already 12pc and heading for 16pc next year.

Education must be cut 8pc. Scores of rural schools must close, and 6,900 teachers must go. "The attacks outlined in this report would represent an education disaster and light a short fuse on a social timebomb", said the Teachers Union of Ireland.

Nobody is spared. Social welfare payments must be cut 5pc, child benefit by 20pc. The Garda (police), already smarting from a 7pc pay cut, may have to buy their own uniforms. Hospital visits could cost £107 a day, etc, etc. Read more
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Rowan Williams and Revelation Wrapped Up

Last Sunday, 25th January, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a sermon at Great St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, England as the Diocese of Ely launched its 900th anniversary celebrations. Although barely noticed by the press, it was an event which brought a lamentable truth into sharp focus - that despite centuries of Christian heritage, what now passes for Anglicanism in England has drifted far apart from the faith which GAFCON reaffirmed last year in the Jerusalem Declaration.

While it is the part the Archbishop has played in the advocacy of homosexual lifestyles over the past twenty years which has attracted the most controversy, the heart of the problem is his understanding of the doctrine of revelation. It is sometimes said that the Dr Williams is orthodox on the issues which became so controversial in the Church of England during the 1980’s, such as the incarnation and the resurrection, but orthodoxy cannot be just a matter of ticking certain boxes based on theological speculation.

Even in England, where institutional loyalty tends to be very strong, some leaders are beginning to articulate their concerns. The Ven. Michael Lawson, Archdeacon of Hampstead and newly elected Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, told The Church of England Newspaper last week: “Rowan’s theological method is reflective and in a sense poetic. It’s a valuable contribution to the discussion. But there is a distinction to be drawn between even the best kind of speculative theology and the leadership required of an Archbishop.” Read more
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