Saturday, March 16, 2013

VirtueOnline - News. Wells versus Wells on the Big Issues at Lambeth Palace

Stan Hauerwas moved from Augustana to Notre Dame to Duke University.
He is most likely good friends with Jo Wells because of his
involvement with ecumenical worship there.


VirtueOnline - News:

Wells & Wells Will Haunt Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org
March 14, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed the Rev. Dr. Jo Bailey Wells, currently director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, as chaplain of Lambeth Palace. 

Her primary focus will be for spiritual life at Lambeth Palace and for supporting the Archbishop's pastoral and liturgical ministry. She was ordained in the first wave of female priests in England.

Speaking about her new position, Dr. Wells said, "I am honoured and delighted to be joining Archbishop Justin's team at Lambeth as he takes on a heavy but exciting mantle. I look forward to supporting him personally and pastorally - above all by praying for his flourishing in that role - and so to facilitating the wider flourishing of God's people in God's church." On the surface, it would appear that Dr. Wells is the perfect candidate for the job. She demonstrated that she supports the archbishop's opposition to non-celibate gay and lesbian priests and gay marriage.

In a March 2010 story about the election of Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, as suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Wells offered the following to Daniel Burke of Religion News Service, "The Episcopal Church, by its actions, is demonstrating that it no longer values its place under the historic headship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore the Anglican Communion."

The confirmation of a second openly gay bishop is even more significant than the first, Wells added, since the consequences-widespread dissent in the communion and persecution of Anglicans in countries where homosexuality is reviled-are clear.

A number of American liberal Episcopalians, gay and pro-gay, believe her appointment is inconsistent with his appointment of a Director of Reconciliation. "So much for reconciliation - another TEC hater," said one blogger.

Maybe. Their fears might be allayed if they knew she is married to the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. He served as a parish priest for 15 years in the US and spent 7 years in North Carolina where he was Dean of Duke University Chapel. He is also Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King's College, London, and a non-residential theological canon at Chichester Cathedral. He has published 17 books, including works on Christian ethics and collections of sermons. 

His views, however, on sexuality are decidedly revisionist. VOL was told by a senior Church of England cleric that he is The Episcopal Church's plant in London.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a landmark church in the heart of London. It describes itself as a forward thinking community, open and inclusive, enabling people to question and discover for themselves the significance of Jesus Christ. "Taking our inspiration from our patron saint Martin, we seek to be a place of welcome and hospitality for all," says a blurb at the church's website.

"St. Martin's lists itself as a 'welcoming and open' congregation by the openly gay and lesbian organization Changing Attitude, meaning it is open and fully accepting to all, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or background. Over 750,000 people visit St Martin's to participate in services, enjoy a concert, an event or their hospitality."

It is these very open views of Dr. Wells on sexuality that should give the Archbishop of Canterbury pause.

In a lecture Wholly Holy: What the Identity of Being LGBT adds to the Identity of Being Christian, Wells revealed what he really believes.

In his first major discussion on LGBT issues as vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Wells moved beyond the usual discourse around LGBT issues in the Church of England and asked instead, "What if we stopped treating LGBT identity as problem for the church and started regarding it as a blessing?"

That is not how Archbishop Welby views such behavior as his recent statements reveal. He is on record as saying sex should only between a man and a woman in marriage. You can see his views here: http://tinyurl.com/anqz7qp

Wells, on the other hand, speaking on behalf of Changing Attitude, the gay Anglican organization led by the Rev. Colin Coward, is trying to change the terms of the debate.

Wells says that far from homoerotic behavior being a sin, "LGBT is not a burden requiring [our] compassion but it is a gift for the church."


He further argues that it is not about inclusion for a minority but a renewal of the church as a whole. The identity of being LGBT is center stage to the renewal, he believes. "LGBT identity IS being a Christian. It becomes a transfer from one kind of story to another." He asks rhetorically, "Is sexuality something you do or something you are?" Liberation comes when we respect that we are not all the same, says Wells. Embodiment is part of human identity, he also argues.

In a video interview, Wells expressed his view opposing DOMA and his state's (NC) opposition to gay marriage as uninclusive. "I think it is a terrible idea. Marriage doesn't need defending in this kind of way. I don't think the kind of relationship that I have with my wife is damaged by living gay relationships. It will exclude some."

He added DOMA is not about sex. "It is about a populist attempt to activate a certain element in this state (NC) to an emotive level. I choose to bless such relationships as it is relationship between the couple of themselves. I see this as a separation of church and state issue."

Wells flat out denies the authority of Holy Scripture and is at odds with Presbyterian theologian Robert Gagnon who argues in his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice that homosexual practice, committed or otherwise, is the violation that most clearly and radically offends against God's intentional creation of humans as "male and female" (Gen 1:27) and definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24). According to the story in Genesis 2, the differentiation into man and woman is the sole differentiation produced by the removal of a "rib" or (in my view a better rendering) "side" from the originally undifferentiated human. It is precisely because out of one flesh came two sexes (a story line that makes a transcendent point about the exclusivity of male-female complementarity) that the two sexes, and only the two sexes, can (re-)unite into one flesh (2:24). Since Jesus gave priority to these two texts from the creation stories in Genesis when he defined normative and prescriptive sexual ethics for his disciples, they have to be given special attention by us. Paul also clearly has the creation texts in the background of his indictments of homosexual practice in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Cor. 6:9. 

How bad is homosexual practice according to Scripture asks Gagnon, "It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture's sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce. (He did not mention bestiality because the evidence from ancient Israel and early Judaism suggests that bestiality is a worse offense than same-sex intercourse.)"

Wells dismisses these arguments in favor of cultural appeasement and inclusion. "Sex is something you are. Sexual orientation is a basic aspect of human identity something not altered but received."

This assumes that there is such a thing as "sexual orientation" which implies a genetic predisposition to which none has ever been found. Perhaps the most dangerous myth disseminated today by the pro-homosexuality movement is that modern science has proven that homosexuality is innate and immutable. That is, homosexuals are born gay, much like being born left-handed or with blue eyes. It is the great lie.

Theologian Walter Wink, in his mean-spirited review of Gagnon's book, admits that Gagnon exegetes every biblical text even remotely relevant to the theme of homosexual practice and, simply put, "the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it."

Whatever the pillow talk is between Wells and Wells, one cannot get around the fact that Sam Wells is deeply enamored of and supportive of the homosexual lifestyle. Will his views ultimately influence his wife who daily walks with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the cool gardens of Lambeth Palace.

One cannot imagine Pope Francis, who has expressed him himself very clearly that homosexual "marriage" is a "machination of the Father of Lies", would have a chaplain (if he was married) that close to his heart whose partner expressed different views from himself on such a fundamental human issue.

Jude warned his readers of false teachers who creep their way into the church, turning the grace of God into lewdness and denying the Lord God and Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4 states: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

Archbishop Welby should take note.

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