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This page last updated 21 October 2003
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Letters received during the week of 14 October 2003

What about two men, three women, and a woodchuck?

IF MR ROBINSON'S SUPPORTERS maintain it is wrong to oppose the election of a homosexual as a leader in Christ's Church, is there any form of human sexuality that they would oppose at all? For example, could not a man and a boy have a "committed relationship?" How about a man and girl, or a woman and two men, or three women, you get my point? Clearly, there are any number of alternative human sexualities that could be expressed in a "committed relationship," but what would Christ say about these? Ignore the Bible for a moment (which should not be hard for some.) Think honestly and prayerfully for a moment on this point. What is the logical conclusion of endorsing the homosexual lifestyle? Does not the same belief that two men can be okay before God also permit any form of human sexual expression? I do not claim to understand homosexuality, nor am I here to judge others. We are all sinners before God. But I would appreciate an honest answer from a supporter of Mr. Robinson. For if the rubric of Christian sexuality be only that it is "committed," then the possibilities are limitless. As are the absurdities.

Bryan Stewart
Cathedral Church of St Luke
Orlando, Florida, USA
13 October 2003

Who should be allowed to use the name 'Anglican'?

I TAKE SOME EXCEPTION TO THE NOMENCLATURE that some of the "not-in-the-communion" churches use to describe themselves. "Orthodox Anglican", "Anglican Catholic" and so on. Indeed I have in my parish a Church which styles itself the "Traditional Anglican Communion". It is housed in a conventicle that used to be a conservative Congregational church. Not much has changed.

I just wish someone (with more money for litigation than me) would take them to court for false advertising and misuse of the name "Anglican" which they have no right to use. For me Anglican, orthodox, catholic, and traditional have always meant traditional tolerance and respect for a diversity of positions; a wide range of orthodox view points; a love of catholic diversity, eccentricity and richness of life. Not so, these barren organisations who demand narrow conformity and hurtful exclusion of all but the most sanguine. Demanding that all gaiety be driven from the church, my God how we used to laugh. But not so any more.

Stephen Clark
Rector, St John's and All Hallows Churches
Coromandel Valley, Adelaide, South AUSTRALIA
13 October 2003

Shame on the extremists on both sides

I APPRECIATED THE LETTER from David Schulenberg (Oct 12) and his comments on social activism replacing personal devotion. As an 'ex cathedra' Anglican (Divorced, but I won't use the REAL grounds for rejoining the communion) I have followed my Church, the second great object in my life, for many years.

We are tearing ourselves apart over social issues. In the 'old' church, we argued over rites, from high to low, from mock Calvinism to crypto Roman Catholicism, complete with incense. But if you didn't like the form of service or vicar at one parish you moved to one more suited to you.

In all our centuries, even in the Thirty Nine Articles, we have used scriptural segementation as a means to an end. Now we are facing the end on inclusivity, and the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it, because we no longer have forebearance.

Should the Synods decide to ordain women? Gay priests? Bless gay unions? We have a church that ranges the spectrum, one reason for both our success and our failure to be a distinctive voice, other than that of Christ's love for us all and for the inclusion of all who accept the basic tenets of our church as differing from our Christian religion.

To the extremists on either side, I say shame on you—and particularly on those threatening to leave. If we are the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic church universal', it is high time some of our more immoderate bishops, clergy, and laity started beliving that way. There is room for us all in the arms of Christ, and there should be room for us all in a church of basic principles and wide diversity.

Patrick Gargett
no church
Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA
13 October 2003

Sounds more like a Baptist to us

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH in the United States will be undergoing some major changes in the near future because of actions taken by the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) at the most recent General Convention. Specifically, by confirming an actively practicing homosexual man as bishop,this "lifestyle" as being acceptable.

The Bible is clear in God's plan for human sexuality. Either have a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman in matrimony, or be celibate. There are no other choices. Everything else is contrary to God's plan as outlined in Holy Scripture and therefore is sin.

The Bible also teaches that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness (Romans 3:10). Fortunately, God sent His only Son to die for our sins so that we might have communion with Him. This is the essence of grace. It is unmerited favor from God to us so that we may enjoy everlasting life with Him.

The ECUSA has erred on several levels by confirming someone living openly in unrepentant sin. The fundamental problem is that scripture is no longer considered the basis of faith. "Liberal" theologians will try to twist the scripture to say what they want it to say, but in this instance the Bible is clear. Homosexuality is completely rejected as an acceptable practice (1 Corinthians 6:8-10). The ECUSA is trying to stand on the shifting sand of public opinion instead of the rock of scripture.

Some might argue that Christians should be loving, tolerant and non-judgmental. "Judge not, lest ye be judged" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" are important words to live by, but it important to apply them correctly. We are not to act as if we are the final judges of another person's fitness for heaven, because we are not without sin (Romans 2:1-2). We are called to judge actions as being right or wrong every day. It should be obvious that all actions are not beneficial, especially if you base your decisions on the truth of scripture. Only God can pass righteous judgment on people.

The scripture regarding casting stones applies to a woman caught in adultery and also is relevant regarding the current situation in the Episcopal Church. Substitute "woman caught in adultery" with "man living in a homosexual relationship" and see Jesus' reply. He does not condemn the woman, but He does command her to "Go, and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11 NIV). Jesus loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us in our sin. "The wages of sin are death", God wants us to have everlasting life!

The basic question for Episcopalians today is "Do I believe that the Bible is the Word of God?" If not, then how can you claim to be Christian? The Holy Scripture is the basis of Christian faith. If so, then it is obvious that the actions of the ECUSA are wrong and need to be strongly repudiated.

Unless the ECUSA repents of this action there will be a schism in the church. This is not a minor disagreement; this goes to the core of belief. Episcopalians in this country will have to decide whether it is more important to be called an Episcopalian or a Christian. The ECUSA has defiled the good name of Episcopalian.

God is in control and will use these events to further His purpose. Personally, I won't mind being called an Anglican.

C. West Jacocks IV, MD FACC
The Church of the Holy Comforter
Sumter, South Carolina, USA
14 October 2003

Putting nonwestern languages online is very hard

I WAS SO GLAD TO READ ABOUT THE CHALLENGES you faced in putting Igbo orthography online. Your efforts and the consequent report expand the cultural horizons of your website and the web. I am so glad you shared the spiritual/theological lessons of this experience with your essay, which may open the eyes of many readers to the implications of matters of the digital divide.

I am a specialist in the study of African-American and West African performance. Though there are special concerns for web-formatting, you may be interested in getting copies of Gentium and Gentium Alt fonts, which are available free and are excellent for representing orthographies of many languages worldwide. It is interesting that the Summer Institute for Linguistics, a Christian-affiliated institute, is one of the primary resources for obtaining information on the latest developments on scripts for public use. (See the website of the Gentium font developer).

The Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where I currently am a visiting postdoctoral fellow, is housing a project concerned directly with issues of the digitalization of scripts, the development of Unicode representations for all writing systems of the world, and the need to accommodate systems that work differently from the conventions of Roman letter alphabets that dominate culturally-influenced configuration of computer-assisted communications.

Thanks for working to cross the digital divide and work towards more inclusive communication, a goal that behooves Christian fellowship, as well as evangelism, and is thus worthy of our stewardship.

Susan Oehler, Ph.D.
St. Albans Anglican-Episcopal Church, Nippon Sei Ko Kai
Tokyo, JAPAN
15 October 2003

We've had gay clergy for centuries

AS THE FATHER OF A GAY WOMAN, I follow the concerns of conservatives (both Lutheran and Episcopal) with interest. Do the Gospels condemn homosexuality more vehemently than divorce??? Is not the message of the Gospels, that divorce, and homosexual relations, are sinful - one, perhaps, as much as the other, but both capable of forgiveness? And is not the message of the Gospels also that the Church is a body of forgiven sinners? Not a Club Med, but a body of people who accept the teachings of the church, who recognize their sinful state, and who strive to live a life in conformity with the Summary of the Law, not with every jot and tittle of the book of Leviticus? Is the cult of Enron more evil than a loving relationship between two women? I think not.

We have had gay clergy for centuries, at least in the Roman and Anglican communions. That one is now a Bishop should surprise no one. Perhaps Anglicans should adopt the stance of my newly-adopted church (ELCA): one ordination to a ministry of Word and Sacrament, to which we all have no choice but to acknowledge, gays have been ordained many times over, in many denominations.

Dr. John Schuster-Craig
Bethlehem Lutheran (ELCA), but formerly Episcopalian
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
16 October 2003

Trick or treat?

DOES ANYONE HAVE THE OUTLINE of an all-age service or assembly that would serve as an alternative to the secular Halloween culture? If so I would like to hear from you.

Warmest Christian greetings

Bob Hill
St Paul's, Manningham
Bradford, ENGLAND
16 October 2003

Editor's note: Mr Hill did not check the box giving us permission to list his email address, but if you have information for him, you can send it to us ( and we'll forward it on to him.

Out of step with the whole Anglican world

BRAVO TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY and the Primates of the Anglican Communion! Bravo for taking a firm stand on the side of Christianity. It is time for the ECUSA national hierarchy to recognize they are out of step with the whole Anglican world, and stop forcing their agenda upon the unwilling majority of American Episcopalians who still believe in the Christian faith.

Rand McMains
Trinity Episcopal Church
Arkansas City, Kansas, USA
17 October 2003

We praise your name, who write us

I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR CRY, to dance or to cover my head with ashes. On one hand, the Communion stands; on the other, the Primates seem to have deferred, in very Anglican style, the seemingly inevitable. And yet, and yet....

I reflect that the Primates, God bless them, are mere human beings, and are prone, like the rest of us, to error, pride, and stubborness. I, therefore, will not put my faith in princes (because it is un-Anglican to think of even Primates as princes!), and I will continue to put my faith in God. If God wills it, the Anglican Communion continues; if not, the Communion falls. I am becoming more and more convinced that the Holy Spirit is moving in the Church, the whole Church, not just the Anglican part of it.

In the meantime, I will continue my journey in Christ, in prayer, in study, and in active ministry in the world.

A verse in one of my favourite hymns goes thus: "You call us out to praise you, one God for all the earth; to gather in communion, and treasure human worth; we are your living story, to hear and to be heard; we praise your name, who write us, the Writer and the Word."

In Christ's love,

Rene Jamieson
The Cathedral Church of St John
Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
17 October 2003

A reliable belief system

AS TO CHURCH GROWTH, NO MATTER what sort of 'marketing' is employed, our fundamentalist friends have proven that if we cannot move people in their souls, they will not move into our pews. People don't need political relevance, they need a transcending experience for themselves and their families. They need a belief system on which they can rely.

For those of us supporting the National Church (so far), it would be nice to hear a re-affirmation of our central creeds. As some have pointed out, it may not be at all about sexuality. More importantly, do we have within our clergy significant numbers who no longer accept the Nicene Creed as a statement of their faith walk? If so, the vote on sexuality is just the first of many re-statements of what they assert Epicopalians should believe. If that be the case, we may regretfully be headed for schism.

David Wynne
Eastern Shore Chapel
Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
18 October 2003

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.



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