In discussing the issue of stem-cell research, Rodgers compares the allegedly Catholic and Protestant perspectives to Ministers of Parliament allowing their conscience to determine their vote. Presenting her disagreement with the Catholic perspective, Rodgers writes:
Where Protestant Christians, including Sydney Anglicans, would disagree with Cardinal Pell is his view that Roman Catholic MPS are obligated to follow the teaching of their Church when voting. He later told the ABC that he was saying that as a Catholic, if you violate Catholic moral principles, it has consequences for your relationship with God and the church. Those consequences follow inevitably in the heart and soul of the person who takes actions.
The Cardinal did not say that Catholics MPs voting ‘Yes’ to the Bill would be denied Holy Communion.
This is contrasted with the allegedly Protestant view:
But compare that understanding of obedience to the Church’s teaching to the comments of our own Archbishop. In expressing his profound regret about the affirmative vote for the Bill in the NSW Lower House, Dr Jensen repeated some words he spoke to the meeting of the NSW Anglican Provincial Synod.
He stressed Protestant views on the Biblically informed Christian conscience.
“The Christian in politics has a duty,” he said. “it is the same duty that we all have. It is the duty to obey God as he reveals himself to us. Our conscience must be shaped by the word of God. From time to time such a conscience may find itself at odds with the current teaching of the church on a particular subject. The choice must be made in the knowledge that neither church nor conscience is infallible.
Jensen continues by saying:
“If I understand the technology correctly, embryonic stem cell research involves both the destruction of embryos and the cloning of human beings. This is a step too far for us to take. I am aware that many of our politicians agonised over this matter and sought advice. If the decision to support this research was made in good conscience, I can only honour them for it, admitting readily that I may be wrong and that in the end it is to God that we give account.”
Rodgers likens Jensen's affirmation of the primacy of the conscience and statement that each individual has to give an account to God alone as something entirely consistent with Luther. And indeed, to that extent she is right. But surely the question must be asked: are Jensen's wider actions consistent with his own statement? I think even the most cursory glance at the evidence would suggest not. Jensen is being entirely dismissive of his colleagues in ECUSA who with good conscience come to the conclusion that there is nothing intrinsically sinful about homosexuality, even to the extent that he is quite actively taking steps to undermine the Anglican Communion as we speak. Nor has he even taken time to try to converse productively with those who hold a different perspective to him on this issue, in flagrant disregard of a motion passed at the last Lambeth. No deference is being given to the primacy of the conscience here. Jensen's somewhat selective Protestantism makes me question what principles he actually holds, if any. Does Jensen really affirm the primacy of the conscience, or is he speaking from a more pragmatic perspective, being extremely careful not to get prominent Sydney Anglican member's noses out of joint?