Theology in the Trenches - by F. Earle Fox
A Report on...
The Windsor Report
from the Eames Commission
Dialogue to Consensus - a Runaway Train with No Brakes
F. Earle Fox
We might be accused of being a "one issue" person if we focus on homosexuality. But when a thief is breaking into our house (or a terrorist into our country), we become very "one-issued" -- stop the thief. When he has been stopped, then we can delve into the many background issues about why he is a thief.
The sexuality issues are the thief of our time, breaking into the very House of God. Yes, there are many background issues behind homosexuality. But if we do not stop the thief, we will never get to those issues before he gets to us. And in stopping the thief, we will learn in that very process about many of those background issues -- and how they apply to many other issues as well.
If the reader digests the material below, including the references, he will have a serious theological education which will stand up straight and tall in the world today. This is theology in the trenches.
(For those who are reading this as a downloaded copy of the original web edition, the references scattered below are links to other resources. You can access those in the original located at
1. the Report
The Eames Commission, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, released its report on October 18, 2004, regarding how to keep the Anglican Communion from fracturing under the stresses of homosexual marriages and ordinations. A daunting task.
Indeed, an impossible task -- if that means "including" the stresses of homosexual unions and ordinations within the Communion. That could be accomplished only if the Anglican Communion were to agree with the post-modern view that unity is more important than truth.
Post-modernism, however, is inherently self-contradictory. It is impossible consistently to say that truth is relative, or that unity can incorporate contradictory truths of a fundamental nature. Post-modernism is, thus, an impossible position to hold consistently. But post-modernists are not necessarily constrained by fact or logic.
Each side of the debate has some alleged truth which it wants the Communion to approve. To pretend otherwise is either inexcusable ignorance or deliberate manipulation. Despite their proclaimed "inclusiveness" and "pluralism", they themselves have one view about sexuality issues which the are fighting desperately, and with surprising success, to uphold and enforce -- at the cost of their opposing view. They refuse to accept that their view means the negation of the orthodox view. "Let's just all get along. Live and let live." They picture themselves as accepting the orthodox view -- for the orthodox -- and insist that the orthodox reciprocate by letting the revisionists also have their view.
But that makes a mockery of the orthodox view because it is logically inconsistent with the revisionist view. They know that, but they want the orthodox to relativize their view so that they, the revisionists, can insert theirs unopposed. It is all a scam.
The revisionist view is not really the "homosexual" view, it is rather the "pansexual" view, which asserts that all sexual behaviors are morally equivalent. Homosexuality is just at present riding point for all the other sexual behaviors -- adultery, fornication, pedophilia, etc. All of which have their vocal proponents in our public institutions, and are waiting impatiently in the wings for public approval.
All sexual options, other than sexual relations between a man and a woman married for life, are forbidden by God on the orthodox view. If the revisionist view is right, even if it is right only regarding homosexuality (forget about the rest of the pansexual list), then the orthodox view is wrong, and cannot exist along side the revisionist view. We are forced to choose between them.
Revisionists retort that it is unreasonable for the orthodox to hang onto their exclusivism in sexuality matters, that we have good reason to assert that God does indeed approve of homosexual unions, and that we either heard or are interpreting wrongly His disapproval of such unions. And, since heterosexual persons can continue on with their heterosexual marriages and ordinations, there is no reason why homosexual persons should not be able to do likewise. Things, they say, would go on just as before, with the simple addition that homosexual persons would now have their natural rights as well.
Yet, if one takes the Lambeth decision seriously, common sense dictates that maintaining Anglican unity requires forbidding homosexual unions in the life of the Church. But that assumes that truth is the basis of unity, and that unity is thus not more important than truth -- a position which revisionists refuse to accept.
The orthodox side maintains that truth is the basis of unity, and the revisionist side maintains that unity is a commitment prior to truth. How are we to resolve this fracture?
2. "Dialogue to Consensus"
The Eames commission refused to deal with the substantive issue of whether homosexuality is acceptable. It (apparently) accepted the overwhelming statement of the 1998 Lambeth conference which rejected homosexual unions as blessed by God, and thus rejected homosexual unions as acceptable in Christian (and thus Anglican) life.
But that acceptance was only apparent -- as the Windsor Report itself indicates. It does not assume the rightness of the Lambeth decision. It assumes quite the contrary, the very heart of the revisionist claims, that unity is more important than truth, that we must find some way of "keeping together", regardless of truth conflicts.
The meetings were secret, but a fly on the wall would, almost for sure, have observed the revisionists subtlely maneuvering the orthodox into accepting the quest for unity apart from truth. They did not succeed fully, but they succeeded sufficiently so that homosexuality (the truth issue) was never (apparently) discussed as such, there was no serious calling to account of the offenders (homosexual advocates and participants in the consecration of Gene Robinson), those who objected by visiting the oppressed in hostile dioceses were blamed along with the homosexual activists, and the whole issue was sluiced down the way to yet more rounds of discussion.
"Dialogue to Consensus" is a strategy which has been used, quite consciously and with manipulation afore-thought, in other areas, notably education in America. Parents are brought in to "dialogue" about school policy as though their input was really being sought, but manipulated in such a way that their opinions were neutralized, and the preconceived outcomes of the "facilitators" were established. There would never be candid, open discussion of real issues.
This process, which is the antithesis of honesty, has been used in Episcopal sexuality debates right from the start. When "well done", it gives the appearance of participatory discussion, but every move has been planned in advance, with the outcome assured. (See Dialogue in Darkness or Scientific Debate? on the Episcopal dialogue process in the 1990's in the Shopping Mall. For more in depth study, see Homosexuality: Good & Right in the Eyes of God?) Dialogue to consensus is a mind-control process, having nothing to do with truth-seeking. It is employed when dishonest persons wish to smuggle in their view under the guise of honest unity. Or when persons ignorant of the rules of truth-seeking and honest discussion are drawn into supporting such a process unknown to themselves.
The Eames Commission had invited input for the discussion, to which I responded, suggesting a serious discussion of homosexuality. One of the secretaries of the event replied that they would not discuss homosexuality, only the process for maintaining unity. That was their mandate from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
That, of course, is silly. Yes, the process for maintaining unity is important. But the events today breaking our unity focus tightly on homosexuality. To refuse to discuss the substantive issues, to insist on discussing only process issues, means something is afoot. There is an agenda to keep the real issues off the table. Process is indeed important. But when untethered from truth, we are seduced into "dialogue to consensus", controlled, not real, unity.
The legitimate aim of the "process" is truth, which then provides the necessary foundation for real unity.
By refusing even to notice the realities of the homosexual agenda, the Eames Commission, consciously or not, played into the hands of those master manipulators, who know exactly what they are doing, Frank Griswold and his entourage. Griswold has no intention of letting the truth of homosexuality ever into the discussion if he can help it. Keeping the discussion on process is probably the most efficient way ever discovered for controlling the direction of a discussion.
Frank Griswold could prove me wrong very easily -- by inviting an open discussion of the real issue behind all this furor -- homosexual behavior. (Click here for a live description of what Griswold will do when confronted with such a possibility. And here for an earlier incident in which Griswold proved himself dishonest.) We have a man at the helm of the Episcopal Church who has no business being the head of anything at all. He neither teaches nor acts like a Christian.
The orthodox on the Eames Commission were apparently seduced into dialoguing about process to avoid the substantive issue of behavior. They need to be informed that this is a deliberate strategy, and be apprised of how to counter-attack.
3. a Runaway Train with No Brakes
(two of them...)
Revisionists will claim that their program is innocuous, benign, that it harms no one, that no major changes are being made, only that normal rights are being extended to a wider range of human beings.
That claim is both philosophically false and empirically false.
If one takes a look at those societies where the homosexual agenda has in fact been accepted, one finds that there are indeed major changes happening, that the family, the bed rock of any society, is fast eroding, that standards of behavior are collapsing. These are not benign or innocuous. They are devastating people.
One can take a look at Holland, for example. Or, Sweden.
Or, one can look at America.
The Dialogue to Consensus process is a runaway train with no brakes. The only possible brakes in dialogue are the application of truth. When truth is jettisoned, the only guide left is feeling. But feelings without facts are disengaged from reality. There is no realistic way of starting or stopping the train. It goes as long as it "feels good", but by no objective standards in touch with reality. It must crash. Unity will be coerced -- coercion and manipulation are the only alternative to reasoned discussion -- as in, "Come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18).
The discussion is not reasoned. It is manipulated until they capture the coercive power of law. And then the discussion is coerced. They are not truth-seekers, they are not compassionate, they are not inclusive. They are totalitarian. They are convinced of their rightness, to the extent that they feel no need for the correction of honest public discussion -- the basis of all free societies.
Because the discussion is perverted, so also is behavior. Indeed, justification for perverse behavior is precisely the reason behind the perversion of discussion. Public discussion is perverted so that perverse behavior can be justified. Pansexual behavior is based on "feeling good", not on relating well. Feelings and behavior untethered to objective relationships as a guide for behavior is another runaway train. It has cast off the brakes of objective reality, and also must end in self-destruction. That is the path into which revisionists are seeking to guide Anglican discussion.
The "coercion" part of the revisionist agenda is the giveaway that they are not "inclusive", and that they will brook no opposition once in power. Hate-crime laws will work to shut down disagreement, just as the Episcopal revisionists have done with the ordination of women issue, and are doing now with the church property-rights issue.
They are doing with canon law (and civil law where they can get hate-crime laws passed) exactly that of which they accuse "right-wing" believers in objective morality -- forcing their opinions down everyone's throats.
These are some of the massive changes going on which are the deliberate and planned agenda of certain people. Who are these people?
4. the Covenant
The one potential bit of teeth in the Windsor Report was the suggestion that there be added another "instrument of unity", namely a covenant to which the various provinces would be invited to sign on. The covenant would, in effect, be a creed, a statement of what it means to be a Christian. So, rather than being kicked out, dissidents would self-select themselves out by not signing on.
Such a covenant could become a very powerful instrument of unity. There will, perhaps, emerge two covenants, one for each side of the issue. If so, that just might provide an honest contest of the truth issues, assuming that at least the orthodox covenant will be written with clarity. Clarity always favors truth, unclarity always favors falsehood.
At a recent meeting of Forward in Faith in Washington, DC, I suggested that we not wait for our official leaders to write a covenant, and that we get busy ourselves writing one locally, and encourage the national office of Forward in Faith to do so with the input from local chapters. This is far too important to leave to the "experts".
And it would be a marvelous exercise in theological study. We would have to do precisely what has been avoided by all sides for at least a half a century -- clarify the boundaries of Christianity. What does it mean to be a Christian? Who can legitimately be called a "Christian"? To whom should we say "yes" or "no", when they ask to be baptized, confirmed, ordained? What is this faith which the Church represents, defends, and proclaims? (See my response to a bishop who appeared to deny the importance, or perhaps even the possibility, of this boundary assessment. See also a letter to a pastor-search committee, with suggestions on how to assess candidates.)
Any such covenant must go deeply into the challenges of our time. It must address the issues of epistemology and of worldview.
Epistemology is the study of "how we know what we know". Because Christians have not had good answers to that issue, we have been run from the public arena. "What makes you think you know the mind of God? Who do you think you are? And why should the Bible be preferred over the Koran or the Bagavad Gita?"
Very few Christians today can stand in a public place and give a logical and challenging response to that query. We almost inevitably back down.
So, if we do not give a substantial answer to this epistemological question, we will continue to be run from the field. Through most of the 19th, and all of the 20th, centuries, Christians seldom had an answer to secular materialists, who were alleged to have "science" on their side. Well, they did because they won the public PR battle for the definition of science -- you were not scientific unless you were a materialist. That is nonsense, but it was believed by just about everybody for the last 150 years. (For the good news, see articles on the Intelligent Design movement.)
The best Bible clues to the epistemological issues are in I Kings 18:17-40 and John 8:31-47; 14:6-14. (See other items in Theology & Apologetics section of Shopping Mall, especially The Authority of the Bible in a Sophisticated World. )
Our worldview is our "picture" of what the cosmos looks like (see audio/video tape, Yahweh or the Great Mother? in Shopping Mall). There are a multitude of worldviews from which to choose, but they all boil down to just two: the Biblical vs. the secular/pagan worldviews. The two are distinguished by one essential core difference.
The Biblical view sees the cosmos created ex nihilo by intelligent design, and for a purpose. The cosmos is explained by that Being which is the most complete and most personal of all beings.
The secular/pagan worldviews (in their many expressions) tell the exact polar opposite story, that the cosmos emerges (evolves) out of a primordial stuff, the precise opposite of the Biblical Creator -- totally impersonal, the most incomplete, undeveloped stuff there is. This cosmic stuff is the womb of life, that from which all things emerge, and to which they all return in eternal cycles.
Thus the Biblical cosmos is explained by the most personal being creating the world rationally and intelligently, who is reasonably knowable, and who reveals Himself. The secular/pagan cosmos is accidental, random, purposeless, and emerges out of an unintelligible and unknowable stuff, the least intelligible, complete, or whole being.
In the Biblical story, the secular/pagan world is the cosmos of the Fall. And surely enough, any personal being in that world will surely die (see Genesis 2:17). There is no ultimate life for personal beings in that world. Stuff we are, and to stuff we shall return. Or, as Carl Sagan told us in his secular/pagan Cosmos TV series (and book), we are star stuff, we are the dying embers of the Big Bang.
In the Fallen world, there is no basis for morality, and truth is at best provisional -- i.e., relative. Because there is no substantial truth and no moral command, as one teenager said, "There is no right or wrong, there is only fun and boring." That is the cosmos into which Western Civilization is fast drifting.
If the Episcopal Church has violated the basic epistemological and worldview principles, and it indeed has, then it has already left Christendom, let alone the Anglican Communion. For the revisionists to insist on their dialogue to consensus is like a bank robber insisting to the bank depositor on a compromise consensus about his theft.
And these are the people who are driving the massive changes happening in Western Civilization, persons who have, by design or by ignorance, rejected what our Creator is offering. We are (yet again) reenacting the Fall. Secularists and pagans are hacking away at the Biblical foundations established over two millennia, and are leading into the brave old world of neo-paganism. Many of them pretend to be Christians -- and get away with it because defenders of orthodoxy are incompetent to mount an effective response. We keep getting seduced into dialogue to consensus -- and so never draw a clear line beyond which we will not go. We manifest no clear boundaries of our faith.
Christians must write our creed for our time. It will be somewhat different from the old creeds, but it will carry the same message into our time. It will be different because the issues are differently expressed. But the message of reason and moral order, of salvation, will be the same.
That is the challenge to clarity -- of the covenant which must be written.
5. Dialogue to Truth
& Back into the Fight
What might it look like if our orthodox leadership redefined the rules of debate so that we are back on the truth-track again?
We, too, begin with process. We need to know how we find out the truth before we can claim to have it. We need to know the rules of evidence, the rules of discovery, the rules of logical reasoning, and the rules of empirical investigation. In short, we need to be scientists in a way relevant to the questions at hand. Science is nothing mysterious, it is simply common sense paying attention to the details.
But we do not engage in "dialogue to consensus". We engage in dialogue to truth. Truth and the Lord of truth will provide the consensus. We will never, not in a whole eternity, provide it on our own. Consensus can never happen in a world based on irrational chance or on pragmatism for truth, a world which is inherently amoral. What might appear to be consensus will be attained by coercion or manipulation (brainwashing). The world of 1984. In a Godless world, there is no other way.
Revisionists are partly correct. There is a process of unity prior to truth. But what emerges from the process is truth, which then becomes the basis for unity. There has to be a process for identifying truth or there is no possibility of knowing what it is.
But that means that the primary unity which must begin it all is a common commitment to truth. All parties to the discussion must be committed to finding the truth of the matter at hand. Any diversion from that commitment (coercion or deceit or manipulation) is grounds for quick expulsion from the discussion. The first ground of unity, then, is a common commitment to the truth, which alone can lead us that common ground par excellance for further mutuality. The common ground we seek is simply reality, what is. All other ground is sinking sand. Or a scam by which the gullible are gulled. Dialogue to consensus is a primary weapon of contemporary cultural scam artists.
What happens, then, when dialogue to truth is administered in homosexual issues? The homosexual issues can be brought quickly to a head by forcing a focus on the primary (and always evaded) issue -- homosexual behavior. It is evaded by homosexualists because they cannot afford to air their behavior, which normal people find offensive and disgusting (and its massive medical consequences) in public. It is evaded by the orthodox because our leadership is too prudish, too timid, or too ignorant to force behavior onto the table.
Why behavior? Especially when it is so offensive? The answer is absurdly simple: Because behavior is that which sexual revisionists are asking us to approve.
They are not really asking us to approve "love", or "compassion", or "inclusiveness". The orthodox already approve of those (rightly defined). Those items are a camouflage for the real issue which they do not want to air (but do want approved) -- homosexual behavior. They want to insinuate guilt into orthodox minds by suggesting that we are not favoring love, compassion, or inclusiveness -- if we do not accept "homosexuality" (they will not mention the word "behavior"). They try to turn orthodox values against them -- a kind of mental judo.
How do homosexual persons engage sexually? That is the only issue. Homosexuality without sexual engagement is nothing at all. It is all about the drive for sexual pleasure from sexual behavior. It is all about being sexualized. Homosexuality is a compulsive, lethal addiction, but the public does not know that.
If we are going to make a rational decision concerning approval, we must know what it is we are being asked to approve. It is irrational (and unloving) to approve something of which we are ignorant. Anglican leadership is monumentally ignorant of (or disingenuous about) homosexual behavior. The orthodox are ignorant that they are being routinely manipulated, or they are too scared to challenge the intimidation. But it can be done gracefully and quickly.
One does not normally air such behavior anywhere at all. But when the thief is breaking into the house, we turn on the lights. The evil must be exposed in the light of truth. As with a surgeon's scalpel, one strikes quickly, carefully, and surely to cut open the pocket of infection, to incise the cancer. (See article, Winning the Homosexuality Debate in the Public Arena on how to accomplish this strategy logically, gracefully, and with respect for the "other side".)
Either homosexual unions are good and right in the eyes of God and are part of a healthy lifestyle, or they are not. The issue will go one way or the other. There is no middle ground. Unless, of course, God simply does not care, one way or the other, and health is of no consequence. No one contends that to be the case. Both sides want to support their cases by the authority of God. And, it would be difficult, to say the least, to contend that God supports a lifestyle that subverts, rather than enhances, life.
So, like Elijah on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18), we must force the issue -- sexual orthodoxy or sexual revisionism. If Baal be God, then we must go with Baal, but if the Lord be God, then we must go with the Lord. Now, let's have a contest to see who is.
The contest is simply the putting the behaviors in question into the light, and then assessing their consequences. We can then ask, Would a loving God approve of these behaviors? The question will be settled.
But to accomplish that, the orthodox must (1) get over their squeamishness about sexuality, and (2) get over their fear of an open, honest contest of truth.
The orthodox leadership is (wrongly) convinced that the only way to argue a case "Biblically" is to quote the Bible, and that appeal to extra-Biblical evidence somehow lets God down. The Biblical evidence is, of course, relevant. It is a witness to what God thinks and requires. But evidence about the nature of homosexuality is not contained in the Bible. That can be gotten only by studying homosexuality, unpleasant as that may be. It can be gotten only by having honest public discussions about the matter.
That is the Biblical way of assessing a case. Then, when the empirical evidence is assembled, we can make an honest, reasonable, and graceful decision about whether homosexual behavior is in fact loving behavior, and therefore whether it conforms to the second highest commandment of God -- to love our neighbor.
We will discover that we have been lied to for decades. There is not a teaspoon of scientific evidence showing that homosexuality is a good idea, that it is a safe and healthy way to express one's sexuality. It is a compulsive, lethal addiction. The orthodox have every good reason to suppose that the Biblical injunctions against homosexual behavior are indeed just what God has in mind. There is no objective evidence supporting the revisionist claims favoring homosexuality. None at all.
We have been systematically betrayed by almost all of our health professionals -- either through deliberate deceit or through cowardliness in standing against the deceit. Our scientific community has been perverted by the forces of "feel good" precisely to subvert honest moral commitment.
Process and content require each other. Truth-seeking, epistemology, and science are all interrelated. The process of truth-seeking is the process of science -- a gift from God who created the world reasonably and therefore worthy of study. The content of our faith and of moral order can be defended only as we get under our belts a clear grasp of truth-seeking. We will then have the authority (surprise! surprise!) of science behind us.
And we will discover in doing so that God holds the intellectual -- along with the spiritual and moral -- high ground. Yes, theology is still the queen of sciences. And that, dear reader, will put the spiritual war in which we are engaged on a very different level.
A final note: Grateful though we are for their help, the orthodox primates of the Anglican Communion can do only so much for us denizens of Western Civ. Much of our problem we have created ourselves, not by the opposition, and so it can be resolved only by repentance of our complicity with our own intellectual and spiritual demise, our falling into traps set by secularists and pagans, and often aided by our own ignorance, cowardice, and comfort-seeking. If we deal with the epistemological and worldview issues, we will have gone a long way toward restoring the clarity of our message, and toward getting Western Christendom back into the fight.
[For a much fuller discussion of these issues, particularly how to win the sexuality battles, and an in depth study of the background issues, see Homosexuality: Good & Right in the Eyes of God?
Earle Fox is an Episcopal priest, president of Emmaus Ministries which centers on Christian apologetics, and webmaster of The Road to Emmaus - http://theroadtoemmaus.org)
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