THINKING ANGLICANS

Covenant for a Confused Church

I mentioned previously that the Church of England Newspaper would be carrying a defence of the so-called Covenant for the Church of England (CCE). It appears in this week’s edition and can be read at Anglican Mainstream.

The title given to the article there is A Covenant for a Confused Church. The author is Chris Sugden.

The list of signatories and the Questions about it can be found here. The full text of the document is here.

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Cheryl Clough
Guest

Underlying assumptions.

Conservative evangelicals are right and everyone else is going to die in their sins.

All evangelicals are conservative.

Apologies are required all around. Some parties have never apologised and gone on to engineer international revolt, avoiding electronic communication lest their plans fall into the wrong hands. Other parties have apologised but then been told that their apologies are not enough, repentance is required. Thus the demand for apologies is not a demand for an apology it is an ultimatum of capitulate or perish. Our way or the wastelands.

Hi ho hi ho. Off to the wastelands I go.

laurence
Guest
laurence

Does the author of this confused apologia for a ‘Confused Covenant’ ‘for a Confused Church’ really hold a doctorate ? Cetainly not in English prose; Logic or theology, that’s for sure.

Ah ! I get it — it’s in obscurantism and liberal-bshing !

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Chris Sugden says: “The framework of this debate is war for the soul of our national culture. Its Christian basis is being undermined at every turn – Winterval not Christmas, no public display of crosses, partners rather than husbands and wives and particularly the undermining of Christian marriage.” Chris, really. There is *no* war on Christmas, it’s an invention of the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The row over the public display of crosses, if you recall (it was only a month or two ago), was *won*. My Christian marriage is *not* undermined by civil partnerships of homo or hetrosexual… Read more »

Raspberry Rabbit
Guest
Raspberry Rabbit

My favourite comment thus far: “Third CCE is designed to help the Archbishops from the Global South realise the size and strength of the orthodox in England. They do not want to come into England as they have done in USA. They have asked us to work with Bishops to provide an English solution to an English problem.” So it looks like a threat and it sounds like a threat. The logic is that if it *cannot* be demonstrated that support for the CEEC Covenant is broad and wide ranging then the Africans will come? If the result of this… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

..I did ask Bishop Wright (NTW) … not to rush into print. But maybe the train (driven by others?) had already left the station. Who rushed into print? This Reform and others Covenant did. ..CCE shows that large numbers of evangelical Anglicans have had enough of dodgy bishops and their own evangelical tendency They mean that dodgy bishops have evangelical dodgy ones? Or the actual evangelical identity. Let’s see… ..NTW’s article, into which documentary evidence exists that Fulcrum claims significant input Fulcrum is clearly an evangelical tendency, so they are split whichever side of the fence this one bishop jumps.… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

I have to say this is a jolly entertaining article. Breathtakingly arrogant, as well.

Of course they ‘consulted’ by briefing (is this the same as ‘consult’? not in my lexicon) a handful of bishops and, of course, Wallace Benn and Michael N-A and the Global South. Not a particularly wide ‘consultation’ then.

As a non-evangelical Anglican, I feel desperately sorry for mainstream (as opposed to Mainstream) evangelicals who are being pilloried by this rather vicious and self-serving nonsense. Practically everything the author says adds grist to +Durham’s mill.

Alas, Anglican evangelicalism. What chance do you have against this?

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Cheryl, Laurence, Simon and RR have all commented gently and thoughtfully echoing many of my own thoughts. The obvious disturbance in the author is itself deeply disturbing. The passionate invective seems to be touched by hysteria. Is there some phenomenon, the antithesis of the laughter from Toronto, sweeping through these people who spend so much time in each others (Virtual) company? My concern for the valuable and essential evangelical presence in the Church grows with each revelation. Just how vulnerable are this significant group to this type of desperate leadership? My evangelical friends say that this “Covenant” has sounded the… Read more »

Raspberry Rabbit
Guest
Raspberry Rabbit

Martin, I was probably the most shocked in the first section of this diatribe – referred to as the ‘framework’ – by the presentation of the world surrounding us as a place of stygian darkness and unrelenting hostility. This is the world into which Jesus sends us not to present a common front against our enemies but to offer help and hope to those in need. I had a great Christmas! We made all sorts of friends. We had people in our small town church who hadn’t attended in years. What sort of Christmas did Mr Sugden have? We made… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

I confess that it is all very confusing & perplexing to me — I was reared Baptist & it was precisely the desire to escape that sort of mindset that lead me to Anglicanism.

We have seen in the USA that politically “the right” seems incapable of being able ever to admit to any mistake whatsoever — maybe the same applies in religion.

Pluralist
Guest

What happened to my post? It’s all been crunched up from its paragraphs and made hardly readable.

SS replies:

I would like to tell you that it was because your post was twice the normal word limit, and the software was reacting to my failure to reject the post entirely.

But in fact it was due to your use of angle brackets which I have now removed from the text.

And given that I had already made the mistake of letting it get published I have chosen to leave it here now.

However, this should not be regarded as a precedent…

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Sussing Out Some Central Sugden Touch Stones Anglican Care = Confessional Conformity Modern Inquiry = skepticism = hermeneutic of suspicion = nihilistic modernity, chaos, annihilation (Implicit) Faith = Truth = Obedience, submission, conformity Non-conservative = liberal = confused Modern = sinful (Connoted) Non-conservative = sinful Conservative gospel = penal atonement = Only way to understand Jesus One right way to follow Jesus = you guessed it = conservative Anglican conformity Faith = Conservative believers = power over others/against others, especially inside church institutions After these nuggets, I sort of lost track. Are his remarks getting as circular and closed as… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Thanks very much: I did wonder about word limit and also the effect of angle brackets to show the other’s writing. There was a lot to comment about, and I re-ordered what Chris Sugden put, especially in his continued distance from N T Wright and “establishment” evangelicals, for comment. His piece of writing, which was intended to clarify, has simply dug the hold even deeper. My mistake was perhaps to give another rather shambolic piece of diatribe more credibility than it is worth. They don’t want to save the Church of England, only themselves by their own strained logic, that… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

I think Chris Sugden is right in the worrying tendencies he highlights: (1) The tendency to present faits accomplis. This is the very antithesis of proper debate. When people won’t debate, one asks what they have to hide. Alas, we live in a world where those in power will exert their power if they can, never mind any need to win the debate first. We have seen this with civil partnerships, and now we will be seeing it with the sexual orientation regulations. (2) A second tendency: Make it seem as though the Christians agree with the establishment. In fact… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

Drip away Christopher !….

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Absolutely Christopher. In fact, given enough time we could learn to tolerate self righteous bigotry and Phariseeism. Thats why it is important that we confront it now before the seeds of homophobia and bias start growing again in the church. No, best to give no slack to the self-defined orthodox or we will come to accept their claims to speak for the faith. On the other hand, if we accept gays and lesbians in the church that could have consequences, too. Who knows who we could learn to tolerate? Tax collectors and harlots and even eating with gentiles, even. What… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Rev Dr Sugden wrote: “At this time in the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, faced with a faulty view of revelation, false teaching and indiscipline, we believe that it is necessary to set out where we as orthodox Anglicans stand, and to invite others to join us. Spot on! I would add that I wonder whether some sections of the Anglican Communion will actually want to be identified as Christians for much longer! I’m also not too surprise that many Bishops and liberal commentators have reacted with alarm – this appears to be an attempt… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

The point is, Christopher, that outside conservative religious circles, there really is no great controversy. There has been no mass outrage as to the existence of civil partnerships, and there won’t be with the goods and services regulations either. Most people really aren’t that bothered and do not actively support discrimination.

So, why should you be so surprised where your wish to discriminate is not reflected in the civil law?

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Dave, I’m ocncerned: first the comment that Liberals need to decide whether they’re Christian or not, now that some sections of Anglicanism need to decide whether to identify as Christian. The Rev Dr Sugden (I can claim a doctorate too… titles mean little when your thinking is as muddled as his) claims to be the arbiter of Anglican orthodoxy. He invites us to stand with him. This is, however, not in his gift. He can set out his stall and ask us to agree with him or not, but he cannot complain we are disloyal and splitters when we disagree… Read more »

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Dave – John Wesley formed his own denomination. Splitting and going your separate ways is not the issue here. This group has tried to characterize TEC as the splinter group -pushing TEC out, not splitting off themselves. There is a big difference. In the first you acknowledge your differences and respectfully part. The other is done by bulgeoning the Church with vindictives like saying it is not Christian and it therefore must leave the AC and if it doesn’t leave quietly, it will be shunned, and if shunning doesn’t do the trick, it will be locked out. There actions are… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

Sugden et al do not appear to believe in freedom of religion — let alone the other civil liberties and human rights.

Unless ….. — why are their knickers really in such a twist ?

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Dave

“Heard that somewhere before ? I was just reading about another renegade who was opposed by the then establishment, and had to decide to preach outside the church, ordain ministers himself and established his own churches! The name of this “cheeky” “disturbed” leader of a “revolt” against episcopal order ?”…

Hmm, I can think of a few others too. Moses, Jesus, Mohammad

Dave
Guest
Dave

Cheryl Clough wrote: “Hmm, I can think of a few others too. Moses, Jesus, Mohammad”

Dear Cheryl, I don’t think that Moses or Mohammed lead revolts against religious authorities. Moses was challenging the Egyptian civil authorities, and Mohammed lead a religious movement and civil war. However, they still illustrate that being accused of “revolt” by the establishment has a long and respectable history – and doesn’t always mean that you are wrong!

Didn’t Jesus say that they (the jewish authorities of the time) always persecuted the (jewish) prophets ?

Dave
Guest
Dave

“first the comment that Liberals need to decide whether they’re Christian or not, now that some sections of Anglicanism need to decide whether to identify as Christian”. Dear Simon, to me this is a crucial point because the real arguement is about beliefs, morality and the authority of New Testament / traditional teachings. The rest of the conflicts are really just the outworking of those assumptions. Unfortunately, in my view, liberals often have a very flimsy grasp of what the bible’s writers meant, and tend to assume that their thinking is Christian, when in fact it is primarily based on… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

John Wesley is an interesting example as he did not want to leave and Methodism left after his death. He had a Puritan grandad (ejected by the Church by not consenting and assenting to every dot and comma of the Book of Common Prayer along with 2000 other ministers – I know my once Unitarian history) and his dad decided Oxford was lovely enough to ditch dissent for Anglicanism and ended up in Lincolnshire with his also once dissenting wife. John got a bit high but kept the family inheritance giving some additional method in spirituality. Puritan English Presbyterianism and… Read more »

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Dave – I appreciate that this is a crucial point, and rejecting creedal statements does put a faith in Christ Jesus into question. This, however, is not the problem I’m calling you on. You seem to equate ‘non-ConEvo’ with ‘liberal’. This is simply not the case. Chris Sugden is making the same mistake, along with many others who signed the CCE – just because I’m not a card-carrying Reform member doesn’t mean I’m liberal hell-bent on introducing heretical practices to the church. It profits you to say so: it bolsters a group identity based on exclusivity, and allows you to… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Dave, I think you could do to read Keith Ward’s ‘What the Bible Really Teaches’ before coming out with such ludicrous statements. You might find that those positions which you pillory as ‘liberal’ and therefore not compatible with Christianity are actually closer to Scripture than many fundamentalist and quasi-fundamentalist positions. ‘Sublation’ is a word worthy of study.

Mind, I do understand why ConsEvs want to get non-fundamentalists out of the church — it wouldn’t half make things simpler and more comfortable for the remnant (until they found something else sufficiently ‘de fide’ for another purge).

laurence
Guest
laurence

That’s very helpful Pluralist. Thank you. I think your analysis is right.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“eg eternal condemnation, the second coming, Christ being the only way to God, the resurrection, Christ’s death paying the punishment for our sins, the divinity of Christ” Dave, I agree with Simon Morden on this. You have lumped a bunch of things together as what the “liberals” believe, as though one is either a ConsEvo(Christian) or a Liberal(maybe Christian, though doubtful). This isn’t true. Granted it’s what you’ll find in things like Equipping the Saints, which it sounds to me like you’ve read. Thing is, it isn’t true. Eternal condemnation is something that has been debated for a number of… Read more »

Tom Allen
Guest

‘Pluralist’ has done well to scotch one the prevalent Anglican myths about the history of Wesley and Methodism – the contemporary irony is of course is that it is still the Church of England which is reluctant to receive back our Methodist brothers and sisters the overwhelming majority of whom are more evidently mainstream “Anglican” than Chris Sugden and his colleagues – who have a higher theology of authorised leadership ” episcope” even if they balk at the use of the title Bishop. As some-one who is what ‘Dave-on-Sunday’ would probably define a ‘liberal’ Anglican can I assure him that… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Chuckles. Jesus stood against both complacent butt-licking Jewish establishment as well a the Roman order. Both Jesus and Moses took fundamental stands that had to do with the underpinning world paradigms. Is the world dog-eat-dog, or is there a better way? Does the world require sacrifice and slavery in order for some to be safe whilst the others live miserable insecure existences? Is God indifferent and remote and merely hands out consolation prizes when we die, or is God interventionist? Is God harsh and punitive and demanding of cruelty, or does God genuinely love us unconditionally and move mountains and… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Simon, Ford et al, I wasn’t suggesting that everyone who isn’t a conservative evangelical is a “liberal”, or in danger of being eternally lost. I’m not that conservative myself – but I do subscribe to the Faith once delivered, and the souvereign authority of the Bible for matters of faith and conduct – when properly interpreted (ie based on exegesis rather than isogesis – as someone recently categorised it). What I was criticising was the unfortunate tendency liberal people have of *assuming* that their thinking is Christian, when in fact it is primarily based on current cultural assumptions. This… Read more »

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Dave – that’s fine as it stands. But a question: who are these liberals? Where are they? Why do they go to church? Even Greenbelt – a place where you’d suspect that self-identifying liberal Christians were likely to gather, I’ve not come across a single seminar advocating the denial of the uniqueness of Christ, the Virgin Birth, the atonement of sins won on the cross, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the Second Coming, the judgement of all. Perhaps I go to all the wrong talks… but Ron Sider, John Bell, Jim Wallis, Graham Cray, Elaine Storkey (and so on). They… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

No, if you want to keep people in you give them space to think and reflect. There is a lot of surface appearance in churches, where the preacher looks ever so orthodox on all the headlines and the people listening either say nothing or appear to go along with the role performance in that place. When given space, then it becomes right to investigate and find out and it can be a journey together and, pastorally, at different paces. There is a world of experiences and learning out there, and people who put up a front might like to drop… Read more »

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

“Moses was challenging the Egyptian civil authorities, and Mohammed lead a religious movement and civil war.”

In Egypt, the Pharoah *was* the high priest. Civil government and civil religion were indistinguishable. A revolt against the civil authorities was a revolt against the civil religion. I’m less familiar with Mohammed, but there must have been some indigenous religion in the Arabian peninsula at the time he was fighting there.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Dave’s comment “…If you want to keep people in you need to start giving them reasons to believe.. not just new methodologies…” is spot on. For those who want to get off their liberal pedestal and think about where they went wrong, go buy Rabbi Lerner’s book “The Left Hand of God”. The important thing about this book is it talks about how the left end of God’s people capitulated to intellectualism, leaving the only moral messages coming from the right. There are moral messages at both the left and right end of the spectrums. Masculine and feminine forms of… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

The minimising of the forthcoming Act is surprising. I cannot remember a single Act which would at a stroke condemn so many people (in fact, all the major and old international communities) to having to disobey their own consciences or face a fine. If anyone can remember such an Act, then please remind me, as I am not that clued up on legal history. Of course we don’t yet know what the exemptions will be. But unless they are many, there will be many fines and many imprisonments. There seems to be a view around that anyone who views ‘the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Simon Morden, This concept of the monolithic “Liberals” who all believe the same heretical nonsense is well formulated here: http://www.americananglican.org/atf/cf/{0124EFED-8D9A-4067-9C7C-969A768F1648}/ETS_2nded_Final.pdf One striking thing about it is that, when it gives “evidence” for these things that all the Godless liberals supposedly believe, and going through the list I cannot find much I believe, nor most of the “Liberals” I have had communication with, it gives two quotes from John Spong, one from an English bishop, and these are frankly off the wall. The rest seems to be at most debatable, but it is all cast as examples of the so-called Liberal… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Re Cheryl’s point:

When the christians, muslims and jews gather tomorrow outside the palace of westminster, then it will be in the cause and in the tradition of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. They are the ones that Cheryl correctly says stood up against the bullies, and we will also be standing up against the bullies. The kind of parliamentary bullies who:
(1) give lipservice to democracy and then present us with faits accomplis.
(2) change nothing when record numbers complain to the BBC.
(3) Base their policies on the Zeitgeist rather than on logical or statistical argument.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Nonsense.

Why should Government bend to the whims of a small number of conservative religionists and allow discrimination against others who have the right to be equal citizens.

We are not a theocracy. Your religion is fine for you to practice, but not enforce as rule over others. Government is secular.

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Ford – thanks for that link. It was enlightening – McCarthyism seems to be alive and well, living under a different guise.

But how can good Anglicans have any sort of conversation with ‘Revisionist Christians’? They are the Devil himself. They must be cast out of our congregations, our pulpits, our bishops’ palaces. Assuming they exist outside of Spong, that is…

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Re: statistics and public opinion. Always remember that God is only on the side of a minority when I’m the minority in question.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Assuming they exist outside of Spong, that is…”
LOL. But Spong can only be understood as existing in terms of his creation, there is no independent Spong, he exists within all of us, we must all strive to awaken the Spong within, and thus achieve true Spongnosis! Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

laurence
Guest
laurence

He lives within my heart.

When I first met Jack in 1980 at Elizabeth Canham’s priesting, he was quite conservative. He has improved over the years –especially on women and gays. He has had the courage to face the truth faithfully and to speak of it and to it.

His integrity is to be admired.

Ford ELms
Guest
Ford ELms

Can’t say that I know all that much about him, actually. His “12 Theses” left me cold, though. They seemed to show a lack of connection with mysticism and an almost fundamentalist approach to science that I cannot relate to in a person of faith. I was being flippant above, but his attitude that we must abandon mystical understandings of things like miracles in our “post-Newtonian” world would require me to abandon much of what brought me back to faith in the first place. I really can’t see the need for it. It’s like the patrons of an art gallery… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

No Ford I guess Jack isnt a hot mystic. But he has a rather rational approach and a desire to communicate his sense of things ,his non-mystical vision of religion. There are people for whom his witness and teching has been and is important — useful. We are all different. Different writers, witnesses move or appeal to you. And so on. Isn’t that why we need the diversity we find in the church and the world ? I am moved by his sincerity and his conscientious-ness in doing his duty. I may be biased -never mind. A whole party of… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Remember that Jack Spong is from a firmly evangelical,low-church background – and he still has a preference for that low-church style, which is far from mystical in itself.

Ford ELms
Guest
Ford ELms

But that’s the point. Any talk of God must be mystical. We’ve argued here before about the unknowability of God, but the very concept of God requires us to be mystical. Otherwise we are just positing a supremely powerful “us” who is bound by the frameworks we are bound by. That’s why the school to which I understand Spong belongs leaves me just as unfulfilled as Evangelicalism, both seem incapable of conceiving of anything that is bigger than our human perceptions. God must be a Lawgiver who punishes those who disobey the way we think they should be punished. God… Read more »