If resolution 1.10 is important, what about resolution 19?

The more I read the final Lambeth Document, “Capturing Conversations and Reflections”, the more I rejoice that we did not go down the road of resolutions and votes. To have a ‘snapshot’ of the engagement between the Bishops is probably of far more worth, than adding to the fossilised remains of earlier conferences, which leave skeletal resolutions disconnected from the tissue of conversation lying behind them as some sort of guide to the heart and mind of the church.

Much has been made of Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Conference, as though this is an enduring and unerring piece of truth. It has become almost a test for orthodoxy.  But if this resolution has such enduring status, then all resolutions of the Lambeth Conference must be given the same status. So what about Resolution 67 from 1908?  Very importantly it states

We desire earnestly to warn members of our Communion against contracting marriages with Roman Catholics under the conditions imposed by modern Roman canon law, especially as these conditions involve the performance of the marriage ceremony without any prayer or invocation of the divine blessing, and also a promise to have their children brought up in a religious system which they cannot themselves accept.”

I am also concerned that there is not enough campaigning with regard to Resolution 6.f from 1888:

“That the most careful regard should be had to the danger of any encroachment upon the rest which, on this day, is the right of servants as well as their masters, and of the working classes as well as their employers.”

and what has been done about Resolution 36 from 1908?

“The Conference, having regard to the uncertainty which exists as to the permanence of the practice commended by St. James (5.14), and having regard to the history of the practice which professes to be based upon that commendation, does not recommend the sanctioning of the anointing of the sick as a rite of the Church.
It does not, however, advise the prohibition of all anointing, if anointing be earnestly desired by the sick person. In all such cases the parish priest should seek the counsel of the bishop of the diocese. Care must be taken that no return be made to the later custom of anointing as a preparation for death.”

But most urgently of all, how do we reconcile Resolution 19 from 1897 with 1.10 from 1998?

“That it is important that, so far as possible, the Church should be adapted to local circumstances, and the people brought to feel in all ways that no burdens in the way of foreign customs are laid upon them, and nothing is required of them but what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.”

As I heard the conversations between Bishops from very different context explaining how issues in sexuality affected their mission within their context, social norms and cultural inheritance – Resolution 19 sounded very modern. It addresses the crux of these matters – what is the essence of faith and of order?   The conversations of which I was part were really about ‘foreign customs’ being forced upon radically different parts of the Communion – and some of those radically different parts were contained within the same province!

So I am starting a campaign for Resolution 19 and it will become my ‘litmus test’ for orthodoxy.

20 Responses to If resolution 1.10 is important, what about resolution 19?

  1. By God, I think I’ve just passed the “test of orthodoxy.” Thank you, Bishop David, for this wonderful piece. I hope it gets wide spread attention.

  2. Gordon Plumb says:

    Thank you, Bishop for this delightfully apt and also,in its citation of the 1897 Resolution,deeply ironic piece. In 1897 it was the imposition from Britain (and perhaps also from the American Episcopalian Church?) of their views on what were undoubtedly second-order issues on the churches in what was then the Empire or areas of British or American influence that was the problem. Today it is the attempt by churches in just those areas to impose THEIR views on what many of us regard as equally second order issues on the church in Britain and America that is proving so deeply divisive!

  3. Bishop David says:

    Thank you Gordon – exactly my feelings.

  4. Pluralist says:

    Quite pleased that I put your blog specifically into my given intercessions this morning, to read this later on!


  5. Bob in SW PA says:

    I found this most helpful. I hadn’t even begun to consider past Lambeth Resolutions and after reading your article I realized there is a reason some are best forgotten.
    I would have thought resolution 19 was a given in how the AC fuctions. Maybe they should add it to the agenda for 2018!

  6. Old Father William says:

    Thank you very much, Bishop, for helping to put things in perspective. I well remember a priest who said, when I was in seminary (USA), that he would lay hands on the sick, but not anoint them, despite the fact that our 1979 BCP specifically provides for it. He also refused the local bishop’s request to have a lemon on hand to help cleanse his hands of chrism (another Romish practice) because, as he said, you would’nt have found lemons in 16th century Northumbria!

  7. Una Kroll says:

    Thank you bishop. I am doctrinally conservative by which I mean that my views on the nature of the Trinity, Jesus, our Saviour and the role of the Holy Spirit are orthodox in every way. The Bible supports slavery by imnplication. I do not. Good Christians supported apartheid and sexism. . I do not. My attitude to homosexuality is that God’s revelation did not stop with the compilation of the Bible, but that these issues concern the nature of human beings, not of God and my faith lies in God not in human beings, good or sinful, for whom Christ died. Those who throw stones at homosexual peopple would do well to look a littel deeper intotheir own sins, then they might learn some compassion and humility and realise that our salvation does not depend on our merits, but on Christ’s saving grace. Una.

  8. Ian Berry says:

    if you’re taking resolution 67 from 1908 lightly please be aware that working in semi-rural Ireland I am dealing with the consequences of RC practice which, depending on the Parish Priest, has little changed from 1908 and has and does split families and communities. It is a resolution that does apply to me and my parishes, as if strictly imposed RC canon law is so very tight that it can cause very real problems with the wedding couple, and with their families.

  9. Father Ron Smith says:

    How very apt, that Bishop David should have found at least one Lambeth Resolution which may even cap the infamous 1.10 from Lambeth 1998. It does seem that most of the extant Resolutions from foremr Conferences he refers to in his article might have a contrary effect to the burden of 1.10.

    As far as the influence of Rome on our delibarations and mission is concerned; perhaps not too much notice should be given to the present stand-off – on the issue of women bishops. I wonder if we had held back from that option, Rome would have eventually recognised our Orders? Let’s not lose any sleep over that. I still grieve over the death of Godd Pope John’s intentions at Vatican II. Under his influence, we still might have had more support from our Roamn brethren about many things to do with modern mission in a needy world.

  10. […] Read the entire posting: If resolution 1.10 is important, what about resolution 19? « Bishop David’s Blog […]

  11. On the basis of this ‘logic’ all Lambeth Resolutions should be treated with equally spurious ‘respect’. We cannot say, “Let’s support those which will stand the test of time, until time has tested them.” Since they may all look equally ‘foolish’ to the sophisticates of another generation, let us ignore them all.

    Alternatively, we could make a serious attempt to understand why certain stands were taken in their own generation, and reflect that Lambeth 1.10 may be relevant for ours.

    Cheap shots are easy to take. Serious engagement with the past and its relationship to the present is much harder.

  12. James says:

    I’m quite happy with all of those statements actually. The first says that you should think carefully before you consign your children to a belief you can’t accept. The second that everyone, from all levels of society, deserves a day of rest (doubtless this wasn’t a problem for the rich, so the poor were singled out – don’t go shopping on Sunday is the message). The third seems straightforward for a protestant – there isn’t really a biblical mandate for rites for the dead, although that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, just that one should think carefully about it.

    Further, resolution 19 makes complete sense to me, it affirms the need to spread the gospel, not the colonial culture. It is only opposed to 1.10 if those promoting the blessing of homosexual action in the USA and UK are happy to regard condemnation of such action as a cultural difference, rather than homophobia in Africa and other places. Besides which, most people would probably regard sexual ethics are belonging to the right order of the church, so this wouldn’t apply to 1.10 even if the blessing of homosexual actions were supposed to be cultural rather than ‘prophetic’.

    I’m afraid that this blogger’s cheap shot missed the mark quite badly.

  13. Bishop David says:

    I think that John and James both miss the point. The Lambeth Conference has never been a ‘magisterium’ for the Anglican Communion, yet some have started to treat this one section, amongst so many resolutions over the years, as though it is of a different order to the rest.

    For instance, in 1930 the Lambeth Conference resolved that “The order of deaconess is for women the one and only order of the ministry which we can recommend our branch of the Catholic Church to recognise and use” (No 67).

    By 1968 this had become “The Conference affirms its opinion that the theological arguments as at present presented for and against the ordination of women to the priesthood are inconclusive” (No 34) but by 1978, Resolution 21.6 stated that “ ………… this Conference declares its acceptance of those member Churches which now ordain women, and urges that they respect the convictions of those provinces and dioceses which do not;…..…”

    Each of these resolutions represented the mind of the Bishops at the time they met – but were they statements of truth? Many would content that the ordination of women is a first order question, but equally many would not – which is truth?

    Time will tell, but with poverty, injustice and violence endemic in our world – we do need a sense of proportion about all this. Lambeth ’98 1.4 is perhaps what needs championing this week with the news from Georgia.

  14. justice1 says:

    You would have a more interesting point if it were not for the fact that our beloved Anglican Communion is nearly finished over the failure of many to take seriously this statement by the majority of our bishops in 1998. I suspect it is exactly the spirit behind this posting that has lead us to this day.

  15. Bishop David,
    I see you have not yet gone on holiday… Speaking of Lambeth resolutions disregarded, there is always Recommendation 12 of Lambeth 1878…see

    The trouble we get into when we disregard Lambeth recommendations…at least sometimes…
    Bishop Pierre Whalon

  16. Kale, Priest WY-ret says:

    “That it is important that, so far as possible, the Church should be adapted to local circumstances, and the people brought to feel in all ways that no burdens in the way of foreign customs are laid upon them, and nothing is required of them but what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.”

    THIS is what I experience in a summer with the Cuban Episcopal Church, in 1952; in the Province of South Africa, in 1970; in the Diocese of Liberia, in 1972. I have no problem with what the “Southern” — and often “younger” churches have to deal with in their own area. They face situations which are so different from the “Northern” churches. I only ask that they ALSO recognize that what we face in our own areas, different from theirs, is just as significant to us as theirs is to them. Where did our desire to “agree to disagree” disappear? Wouldn’t it be better for each province to keep its now in its own baileewick (that can’t be the right spelling!) The late Speaker of the US House of Representatives wrote “All Politics is Local”; in the long run, is not the practice of the Faith largely local? The Quadralateral is the basis of our unity and that should be enough (even though there are some provinces who cannot believe that the American province even adheres to that Quadralateral. (!)

  17. Esther Osborne says:

    To justice 1 and others who are promoting schism: As a lesbian seeking Holy Orders (partnered for 30 years and serving God in God’s church for over 40), I can assure you that I take these resolutions very seriously. My conservative Presbyterian nephew believes with all his heart that I am consigned to Hell, and I have to concede that he may indeed be right, but here I stand, believing that I am called by God and having been supported in that belief by my congregation.
    But I believe that Christ’s church, like our living Lord, is called to preach the good news to the poor, the disenfranchised, the prisoner, and the lonely ones. Proof-texting changes no minds, but should we not be looking at the injunctions against usury, a practice which is now destroying thousands of American families? What about plundering the world’s water resources for profit? Selling Sudan’s grain on the world market while millions starve in Darfur? How about a sense of proportion here? What ever happened to justice?

  18. richard gleason says:

    for the person who objected to changing doctrine. Do you say the creed as found in the BCP each Sunday at eucharist? It’s a changed doctrine, That the Holy spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son is not part of the creed as received in the universal church as the Orthodox will tell us.

  19. Father Ron Smith says:

    Is not this the problem with semantics? When it comes to obedience to the scriptures, or obedience to a particular Lambeth Resolution, all of these written sanctions ought to be made subject to the Light of Christ, the Incarnate Word.
    We were never meant to worship the written word, only the Word-made-flesh in Jesus.

    This is why the Eucharist is so important for all of us, and, thank God, is still the main way of worshipping in our truly orthodox Church communities. Much as I love the Scriptures, sometimes, there are just too many words, when a little silence might be more profitable for maintenance as well as mission. (Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church).

    I do think that the ABC did at least one thing right at Lambeth 2008, and that was to encourage participants to attend the time of Retreat at the very beginning. Also, the pattern of Eucharist, prayer and Bible Study on a daily basis – together with meaningful encounter, face to face (without more odious resolutions).

    I wonder, were there any notable absentees among the bishops at the Conference? For the Global South Bishops (some of them from the UK) to have absented themselves on the grounds of their objection to sharing the Eucharistic table with ‘the defiled’ seems to me to be utterly incomprehensible. (Jesus ate with Publicans and Sinners).

    On the business of cultural settings for ministry; by all means, yes, let us have the agreement of the whole Communion to be allowed to minister as necessary to our own individual constituences – as long as no real foundational doctrine of the Faith is at stake. It has already been discerned in a theological commission of the Canadian Anglican Church that same-sex relationships do not, in their opinion, contravene Core doctrine. If that is the case, then at least one Province of the Church needs to be able to move forward on a front that is vital to pastoral ministry in that place and in that circumstance.

    No one can expect any African (or, indeed, any other) Church to go against the policy of its own government. But, in fact, in Nigeria, the Church has actually colluded with the government to pass the law to criminalise homosexual activity. Whether that should remain a cultural obstacle, though, or a moral and spiritual one, might best be left to the Church authorities in those countries – depending on whether they see this as a basic injustice. In many countries of the Communion, however, the state has discerned the need for legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and has gone ahead with this procedure. Does the Church have any core theological reason (in Canada, for instance) not the bless such relationships, when the partners are members of the local Church?

    Speaking of serious questions of moral behaviour. Divorce was once considered to be a grave departure from the moral and ethical values of our Church – perhaps a matter even more universally repugnant at the time, than the common view of homosexuality in today’s society. Jesus had words to say about divorce, but not, seemingly, about the ‘sinfulness’ of homosexuality. Because God has made our world, would it not be a good idea to try to understand why he made humanity so diverse? After all, Jesus died for all, as Bishop Desmond Tutu so appealingly reminds us. Would it not be kind of the Church to be a compassionate as Jesus?

  20. Tim says:

    Una Kroll: it is good to see someone who claims to be “theologically conservative” taking their beliefs to heart. A lot of homophobic argument is not done in accordance with other scripture: be it “casting the first stone” or “the plank in your own eye”, or criticising a sinner starting in private and then working outwards to involve more people, or in a spirit of compassion and meekness, etc. This is less to do with “conservative-v-liberal” than it is orthopraxy – the business of putting into practice the correct values one preaches. I welcome that :)

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