Predictably, the Anglican world is awash with words following the release of the Windsor report. I’ve read the report and was particularly impressed by an article “Institution over Inspiration?” by Bishop Paul Marshall of the Diocese of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), published online in The Witness. Bishop Marshall says:
While I am glad this report recommends no draconian actions against anyone, I am still deeply saddened by it. I perceive water meeting oil: an essentially institutional response to what claims to be prophetic movement. Contrary to its stated desire, the report seems to impose a curial solution, elevating institution over inspiration in the absolute sense.
We must find less institutionalised ways to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
The history of Christianity is the history of different groups of people with different traditions, beliefs and practices who form the mass that we label ‘Church’. The trouble begins when one group claims exclusive right to the title and shuts out all those who will not conform to its model. In the Celtic tradition of Christianity, which long resisted the attempts to conform its teaching and practice to the Roman model, the Holy Spirit is not represented as a white dove, tame and pure, but by a wild goose. Geese are not controllable, they make a lot of noise and have a habit of biting those who try and contain them. Geese fly faster and further in a flock than on their own. They also make excellent ‘guard dogs’. Gay and lesbian Christians know that God’s spirit is not a tame dove but a wild goose, free of ecclesiastical attempts to control and confine it, that makes its home in the most unlikely places. The Spirit comes not in quiet conformity but demanding to be heard. And its song is not sweet to many. This Spirit drives people together, demanding that they support and travel with each other. And it often forces those on whom it rests to become noisy, passionate and courageous guardians of the gospel.—Editor’s introduction to Daring to speak love’s name, ed. Elizabeth Stuart (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992), p.15.