December 5, 2013

Duncan Speaks Again

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church of North America has again offered his views on developments in another church. (See also “Thoughts on the Duncan Statement,” in which I analyzed Duncan’s pronouncement about Bishop Dorsey McConnell’s recent pastoral letter.)

This time, the target of the archbishop’s displeasure is the Church of England, in particular, the recently released Pilling Report. That report endorses blessing same-sex unions and recommends church-wide facilitated conversations on human sexuality. It does not recommend any change in doctrine, but it does not rule out future change. Duncan, however, does. His attitude toward doctrine is quite conspicuous in his latest pronouncement (emphasis added):
The Church must not waiver from its received teaching. Scripture and the catholic consensus must be treated as givens, the attitude of the signatories not withstanding. Those who would re-construct the received moral order in the 21st century to respond to a culture bent on self-actualization, rather than dying to self, will do no better than those who—quite unsuccessfully but with much damage—in the 20th century sought to re-define the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ.
Conservatives have never quite gotten over Bishops Pike and Spong.

It was arrogant of the archbishop to comment on developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, though he at least has a connection, however troubled, to our diocese. Duncan has less of a connection to the Church of England, despite his attempts to assume the mantle of Anglicanism.

The two recent statements from Archbishop Duncan have many elements in common. They begin with positive statements—this part is quite abbreviated in the Pittsburgh statement—and follow up with his criticism, which suggests great disappointment on his part. That criticism emphasizes the need to avoid change and to engage in self-sacrifice. (Duncan seems to have a Puritan’s aversion to joy.) The statements conclude with a commitment to pray for all those benighted people who don’t understand the will of God the way he does. This last element is the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Southern expression “bless their hearts.”

I’m sure Archbishop Duncan is doing God’s will as best as he understands it.

Bless his heart.


  1. As a Pirate fan I guess I care what the manager of the Chicago Cubs thinks of the Pirates and maybe even what the manager of the Chicago Cubs thinks about the Reds. Hey, we're all in the same league. However, I don't care much what the head coach of the Chicago Bears thinks about the Pirates (or the Cubs or the Reds) except, perhaps, out of curiosity.

    Likewise I care not what Robert Duncan has to say about the Episcopal Church or the traditional Anglican Communion. He's not part of it. If he wanted to have any relevance to the members of the Episcopal Church he should have comported himself not to get thrown out of it.

    Regardless, I concur, Bless his heart.

    Geoff Hurd

    1. When he left TEC claiming that his brand new church was still under the Anglican Umbrella, I erred. I thought this was sheer arrogance. I was wrong.m That is not arrogance, it is delusional.

      I am going to find it hard to write nice things about Cantur, but I wonder if he and the rest of the hierarchy have a clue what they will unleash by treating women, and gays, decently.

      Interesting times ahead I fear.


  2. The irony here is that many of those who keep coming up with new ways to "theologize" marriage in such a way as to restrict it to mixed sex couples have gone far further afield on matters Trinitarian and Dominical! Morality changes... and it often does so not on the basis of changes in theology, but in remaining true to the dogmatic teachings. It's the "God's image is male and female" or "The married man and woman represent the persons of the Trinity" crowd who are inventing new doctrines, not those seeking marriage equality.

    1. Is seems obvious to me that the specifics of Christian morality cannot remain fixed for all time. God's moral intention for us may be constant: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...and...Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." But our knowledge of human physiology, human psychology, and human sociology changes over time, and that must have bearing on how we translate God's intention into specific actions.

  3. I'm always fascinated that those who have left The Episcopal Church still find the energy (and the temerity) to criticize it. I am fascinated by the fact that they think they have something to say but not at all interested in what they have to say. No clicking on of links for me.


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