Shared conversations: resource booklets

Entitled Grace and Disagreement, the resource booklets for use in the shared conversations have been published online: ChurchOfEngland.org.

The first booklet

Booklet 1 – Thinking through the process [PDF] – outlines the thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church.
Booklet 2 – A Reader: Writings to resource conversation [PDF] – comprises four essays, including two on scripture, which participants in the conversations are asked to read.

Cracking the Binary Code (article)

Cracking the Binary Code, Benny Hazlehurst

This paper offers a critique of the ‘binary’ nature of much biblical interpretation and ethical belief in the Church, rejecting simplistic ‘either-or’ approaches to both. Instead there is offered an interpretation of key biblical texts through the lenses of circumstances, needs and motivation. It is argued that, when these factors are taken into account, even for Evangelicals, there is no longer a substantive biblical case against the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships and the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. At the very least, the complexity of the interpretive task must lead to greater openness to and acceptance of those from whom we differ.

Article [PDF].
A short introduction [Accepting Evangelicals Blog].

The Pilling Report: A Detailed Analysis (article)

The Pilling Report: A Detailed Analysis, Christina Beardsley, for Changing Attitude (England)

The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, chaired by Joseph Pilling, was published on 28 November 2013. (Report [PDF]).

This paper analyses and critiques each section of the Report in detail.

Please note that this material is offered for discussion and comment. It does not represent the current policy or the current attitude of the Coalition, or any of its constituent groups.

Article [PDF].

An Unfinished Reformation (article)

Susan Gilchrist (2013)

There were many doctrinal changes that the Church adopted in regard to the role of women, gender equality and transcendence and to gender and sexual variance during the first three centuries of its existence. This study uses the results of recent research on gender dysphoria and personality development as a tool to re-examine the historical backgrounds and the reasons for these changes.

The results of this analysis challenge many of the traditional doctrines that the Church has adopted on the role of women, gender equality and gender and sexual variance. In some Churches the social changes of the last fifty years have promoted a re-evaluation of Christian teaching, but also a retrenchment into literalism and fundamentalism in others. This analysis supports this re-evaluation and gives historical and theological support to the changes that are being made.

Please note that this material is offered for discussion and comment. It does not represent the current policy or the current attitude of the Coalition, or any of its constituent groups.

This document has been updated to include comments on the Pilling Report. (12 December 2013)

Article [PDF].

Comments on the role of liturgy in the Pilling Report

The Church of England report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, or the Pilling Report, was commissioned by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in January 2012, and was published on the 28 November 2013. The issues of providing liturgies for the celebration or blessing of same-sex marriages and civil partnerships were discussed, and the following arguments were made:
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Church Views on Sexuality: The Middle Ground (paper)

Church Views on Sexuality: The Middle Ground, Savitri Hensman

It is clear that Christians hold a spectrum of views on sexuality and marriage. However, the popular idea that there are two warring blocks that may be labelled ‘traditionalists’ and ‘revisionists’ is simplistic and can be misleading as well as unhelpful. Current tensions could be reduced and reframed significantly if more church leaders acknowledged the extent of common ground in the middle of this continuum, allowed limited flexibility of practice, and enabled their communities to develop practices of discernment oriented towards the “grace and truth” (John 1.13-15) that lies at the heart of the Christian message.

In this paper, Ekklesia associate Savitri Hensman identifies seven widely held positions on sexuality. She suggests that those with supposedly diametrically opposing views often have more in common than they may at first think. Equally, she argues, in Christian terms, that coexistence among those sharing a ‘middle ground’ is not about weak compromise, but instead reflects an approach both deeply rooted in Bible and tradition and open to change as a living community led by the Spirit.

Paper [PDF].