THINKING ANGLICANS

"Unholy Row" in Oxford

There’s a story by Stephen Bates in today’s Guardian about trouble at Wycliffe Hall, a Church of England theological college in Oxford: Unholy row at Oxford’s college for clergy amid staff exodus and claims of bullying.

It starts:

One of England’s most respected theological colleges is facing claims that staff feel bullied and intimidated as the institution becomes increasingly conservative.

The discontent at Wycliffe Hall, an evangelical Anglican college which is part of Oxford University, has seen several resignations among its small academic staff and claims that one of its most prominent members, the regular Thought for the Day contributor Elaine Storkey, was threatened with disciplinary action.

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ChristopherGöran Koch-SwahnechoirboyfromhellLapinbizarreMalcolm French+ Recent comment authors
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Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“Last night, the governing council announced it had launched an internal review and pledged support for Dr Turnbull.” Which seems to say it all so far as the review is concerned.

“James Jones [the Bishop of Liverpool and the chair of the college’s governing council] made it clear he would back Turnbull whatever he did.” The diocese of Liverpool’s web site states that Jones “is a passionate advocate of enabling local people to shape their own destinies”, a principle which in this case appears only to apply to Turnbull.

Pretty clear what’s happening here, isn’t it? Extremely disquieting.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

PS The list of publications appended to Richard Turnbull’s website is astonishingly slight for someone occupying this position.

http://www.wycliffehall.org.uk/temp/RichardspTurnbullspPublications.pdf

NP
Guest
NP

New broom…..sweeping clean.

Not everyone has to go with the ABCs model of talking everyone to death while trying never to make decisions.

Maybe this man, Dr Turnbull, knows what he wants to do and is managing the process accordingly. His record is good and (unlike the ABC), he does have a lot of experience of managing people and running a church (and significantly growing a church, if I may be so bold as to mention the TA taboo of strong numbers amonst evos!)

Tim
Guest

Woops.

Go on – *someone* here blame “teh liberals” for starting it, then we’ll have a perfect mirror of the wider AC issues too.

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

Oh well, when the GS takeover bid takes place, it’ll give ’em somewhere to train their clergy….

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

I am sorry to hear of this, since Wycliffe’s record for the last 35 years (the time of the last new broom) has been tip-top. I am also sure that ‘this too will pass’. But I am sure that a tutor of the excellence of David Wenham would not resign without good cause.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Eyup, NP have you not noticed that Wyclif was a nice pure evangelical college with many evangelical heroes on the staff.

You’ll be stabbing one another in the front soon!
Seriously, setting aside the obligatory nonsense from NP espousing his mythical purified growing church, this is very, very sad.

Pluralist
Guest

Criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury NP – is he not carrying out the Anglican Communion new plan anymore?

Chris
Guest
Chris

NP, regarding numbers, see this quote from Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: “In 1900, about 80 percent of Christians lived in North America and Europe; now, more than 60 percent live on other continents.” Thanks be to God for this movement of the Spirit around the world! God certainly blesses churches that follow Him and growth can be part of this blessing. There is danger in assuming all growth is God given since a) God may not grow a faithful church for a season and b) heresy or a watered down Gospel can often be more attractive than the… Read more »

Steven
Guest
Steven

Tut, tut Chris. Too much reality is not appreciated at TA. You should tone it down a bit!

Steven

PS-Actually, its a bit hard to know what’s going on at Wycliff this early in the news cycle. I’m concerned that we’re only getting one side at this point. So, it will be interesting to see what things look like as more parties speak and more news gets out. /s

Caelius Spinator
Guest
Caelius Spinator

“Instead we get pluralism, universalism and gnosticism with a healthy dose of elitism to drive away the “unenlightened.”

Where I live, “pluralism, universalism, and gnosticism” has proven to be very evangelical. I don’t like many elements of the doctrinal drift, but according to all of these numbers arguments, God surely approves it if we are outgrowing all our buildings and our Sunday School and youth groups double in size every two or three years.

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

Fr Turnbull had an article in ‘Churchman’ – isn’t that the journal rather extreme Protestant Church Society, which speaks of the ‘nonsense and horrors of ARCIC’? I have known many fine people come out of Wycliffe over the years, and this apparent takeover bid from the extreme conservative end is desperately sad. Apparently solid evangelical mainstream (not as in ‘Anglican Mainstream’) scholars find themselves exiled for not toeing the party line. It may delight some contributors, who find moderate evangelicalism lacking in zeal, but if this authentic evangelical voice is now going to be silenced in Oxford, what’s the next… Read more »

Charles William Allen
Guest
Charles William Allen

I haven’t been following membership trends lately, but the last time I checked, Mormons were growing faster than evangelicals, and the fastest growing population in the US was the “nones,” ie, the totally unafilliated. Does that meant that the Spirit is leading people to Salt Lake City, or to leave organized religion altogether? We could have some interesting theological conversations about what that means, but one thing we can’t do is simply equate the Spirit’s movement with the growth or decline of populations.

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

May I ask what you mean by evangelicalism, Chris? I suppose you mean throwing out favorite liberal, um, heresies. Or can we include here that dreaded dirty word, “liturgy”?
Perhaps that is so–social conservatism is becoming big again in certain countries in response to the perceived decadence of Western societies. And liturgy is often a big stick used by powers-that-be within some churches, like the Roman Catholic one, which is why I think pentecostal/American evangelical forms of worship are liberating for many people.
But I am still a liturgically minded person, thanks be to God.

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

From the Fulcrum website. I’m trying to unpack the very last line in what way is CS writing ‘on behalf of’ Wycliffe Hall? ” ACI, Inc. and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford Host Important Communion Event Written by Rev. Dr. Christopher Seitz Friday, 11 May 2007 FOLLOWING CHRIST THE LORD IN COMMUNION, COVENANT & MISSION Monday July 2nd – Thursday July 5th, 2007 Wycliffe Hall, Oxford The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc., Windsor Bishops, Colleagues and Friends are hosting and participating in this important event together with Bishops from the Church of England and fellow workers throughout the Communion. The point of our… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Readers in the U.K. should review the history of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention back in the late 70s and early 80s. It sounds like the CoE is dealing with something remarkably similar right now.

BabyBlue
Guest

Stephen Bates sure is busy. Since when did the folks at Wycliffe start talking to Mr. Bates, good buddy of Jim Rosenthal and the Anglican Communion office (with funding by the Episcopal Church)? What is fasincating about this article is what is not included – and that’s the real story. What’s at work here is what we call the “Oxford Snob Factor.” “Surely Oxford doesn’t want to have that Wycliffe riff raff running about the streets, carrying on,” is implied through this entire article. Mr. Bates is appealling to the liberal snob factor (who ever thought liberals would become the… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Ren Aguila,

I didn’t say “evangelicalism.” I said “evangelism.” Different words with different meanings.

BTW, the liturgy and evangelicalism are not at odds with each other.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Don’t fudge the issue bb. Isn’t it seriously worrying for Evangelical Anglicans that one of the most respected theological colleges in the country, which has for a long time represented the best of Evangelical theology and spirituality, which in its last principal had a world-respected apologist for the faith, suddenly finds itself in this position of losing impeccably Evangelical staff, not because of the Oxford review (which will also take in my old college, Cuddesdon), but because of this ‘New Broom’ (as NP describes it) who appears to care nothing for any part of the Evangelical tradition other than his… Read more »

Bob G+
Guest

You sound very defensive, BabyBlue. Not very becoming. And, what is the Good News? It isn’t American style religio-politics.

JPM
Guest
JPM

So, BabyBlue, would you care to address the substance of what Bates has said (which would surely be “doing a new thing” for you) or will you just persist in your usual catty, snide little attacks?

My money is on the latter, but, if you do have some information about what is happening at Wycliffe, we would appreciate it ever so much if you might condescend to share a bit of it with us.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

JPM: “Readers in the U.K. should review the history of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention back in the late 70s and early 80s. It sounds like the CoE is dealing with something remarkably similar right now.”

And in TEC it’s called Ambridge. The name is a hyphenization of “American Bridge and Steel”. And nowhere has any seminary in the U.S. worked harder at burning them.

It’s easy to attract a crowd (of unenlightened) with sensationalism, emotion, bad news, gossip and finger pointing. It’s altogether another story to inspire them to be more Christlike.

counterlight
Guest
counterlight

Cleaning out the Anglican Communion.

Just like Franco cleaned out Spain.

Maybe we should ask the Spanish about how grateful they feel.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Sure, BabyBlue, the Queen Mother was German right down to her fingertips. When I see this kindergarten, self-congratulatory, hissy-fit approach to “discussion” – as I routinely do when if I stray over to – let’s, for the sake of example, say – StandFirm, my response is to shrug my shoulders, note that the site is of an ideolgically different persuasion to my own and that I ought, therefore, for the most part to keep my mouth shut, and to mutter to myself the old saw about “more to be pitied than scorned”. But since you’re over here … “Oxford Snob… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I’ve no doubt, Babyblue, that there is a touch of superiority about Oxford’s attitude to Wycliffe. But the notion that this is an elite, intellectual liberalism versus a tough, groundroots, ‘street’ evangelicalism is really dubious. The conservative lobby, including in part the Wycliffe Hall Council, is dominated by male leaders who are public school and/or Oxbridge educated (8 of the 9 Covenant signatories, for example), and who lead obscenely wealthy congregations. It is not that the conservative regime at Wycliffe is lowbrow or riffraff that troubles the rest of the University, or the Church for that matter: we know better.… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“Pass the tea and crumpets”

Pimms, actually.

Robin
Guest
Robin

It’s true that BabyBlue’s comment was not one of her best efforts, and it’s also true that I frequently disagree with her position. However, it makes me sad to see the ad hominem attacks from all sides, nor do such comments strengthen the logical, theological position of either side. Surely, as Christians, we can ALL do better than that?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Pass the tea and crumpets”
Wot, no cucumber sandwiches?
So why did I come all the way over from Germany then?

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

I believe Elizabth Bowes-Lyon’s tipple, as a good Anglo-Catholic, was gin.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Ambridge? Unfortunately, over here that smacks of deepest Borsetshire and the goings-on of the Archer clan, where the most devious plot are usually about maximising set-aside payments or guessing who will be found in bed with whom (or indeed what).

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“There’s an Old Queen up here waiting for her gin & tonic” is the line usually quoted, is it not, Fr. Rowett?

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Actually, I believe that there may very well be an Oxford Snob Factor at work here, thought definitely not the one that Mizz Blue suggests. Between an ACI currently struggling to re-invent itself, and the Evangelical Thought Police apparently working overtime at Wycliffe Hall, is it possible that we are working towards the establishment of a “reasserter” (hate these portmanteau ideological groupings, so reminiscent of the terminology of 1930’s extremisms) bridgehead at the University of Oxford? It would be a strong move towards upping their “Anglican” street cred in some circles. Those curious to hear BabyBlue “in person” might listen… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Lucky Aussies don’t think of the Queen as German. They would have demanded that she be incarcerated during WWII, like they did their own “pure” German occupants. I am sad to hear of this schism. But not surprised. This excellent BBC article looks at how global warming is affecting evangelical tutoring in parts of the US http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6648265.stm I think it rather succinctly highlights the differences. I don’t know which way Wycliffe is going or why, but I do know that God created this planet to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). I also know that if God is prepared to destroy Guardian… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“”There’s an Old Queen up here waiting for her gin & tonic” is the line usually quoted, is it not, Fr. Rowett”

Naughty, Naughty Boy!!!!!!!

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Ambridge-is a the actual town along the Ohio River just downstream from Pittsburgh that is the home of Trinity Seminary, considered by some to be quite “conservative”, very fundamentalistic and probably responsible for some of the fun times we’re having in TEC.

I see that the present head of Wycliffe is from Basingstoke (northern Hampshire or Berkshire?).

Yes, I’ve changed trains there a few times (Reading to Salisbury). Been stuck on a Conrail freight at Ambridge too. Wonderful places, especially leaving them.

Pluralist
Guest

What is interesting here is that the takeover is within the evangelical camp. It reminds me of the time Militant intended to infiltrate the Labour Party before it took on Capitalism, the elite and everything. All it achieved was strife and a reaction. So not only is the split within evangelicalism, in terms of which way Open Evangelicals would go, but so is a takeover attitude. It is a lot easier for something that is already evangelical to be taken on this way – sort of less ground to cover. On a related point, I have always seen a difference… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

All commentary signs on the most active conservative Anglican realignment blogs suggest that harder fisticuffs are coming soon, and assorted punishments galore. You can practically taste the sweat, blood, and tears in some of the posted conservative blog comments. The blood, sweat, and tears that will soon be extracted in this way or that from others, that is. It isn’t rocket science to hear and understand that, so far as realignment conservatives are mostly concerned, their coming domination of all is a rise long overdue. Franco’s Spain is actually a good model of what they have in mind, church-state alliance… Read more »

sheila
Guest
sheila

I’m wondering if Dr. Zahl is going to find a new position at Wycliffe Hall: this might be why he resigned.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

“It’s time for Episcopal and COE Snobs to unite and defeat these pesty little lowbrow evangelicals on both sides of the Atlantic!” That’s what’s being appealled to here. Pass the tea and crumpets and God Save the Queen (only, Real Snobs don’t really like the Queen, thank you very much, because she isn’t really English, she’s German – but nevermind).” Baby Blue

Really dahling, there is nothing quite as silly as a ex-patriot British “snob-ba-wanna-be” (who is currently “poaching” with her imported Nigerians pals on Episcopal Church property in Virginia) to notice “lowbrow evangelical” style/behavior…tut,tut and tut.

IT
Guest
IT

Reasserter bridgehead? Quick, better get the Keble destruction society to get to work before Newman rises again… BB is using tried’n’true method of the Republicans: criticize the liberals for so-called “intellectual elitism” (remember the “effete intellectual snobs”, Spiro?), and try to claim the hardworking bluecollar label for one’s self. hard to do when the Republican policies undercut real workers. But they are proud to be against people who think, by gum. Or as the NY Times famously quoted a Bush Administration official, The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

drdanfee wrote “We do live in quite interesting times… If you silence all the riff-raff now waiting to welcome Jesus as Risen Lord into all the possible Jerusalems, the very stones will eventually cry out – and no institutional powers are ever in good command of that outbreaking of God.” My latest joke. Two priests die at the same time and come before God. God asks the first one how his ministry went. The priest replies “Well, it wasn’t that good. I couldn’t seem to bring them in. When I did start to build a small congregation someone would come… Read more »

Cardinal Wardrobe
Guest
Cardinal Wardrobe

I didn’t think it was possible for there to be “fundamental” divisiveness in an “evangelical” theological college. I thought they all spoke the same language, deliberately, so that they didn’t argue about their difference and diversity. I think it is very sad but perhaps inevitable that there has been this eruption at Wycliffe. It is the way that boils are healed of course. Sadly there is an interpretation of authority that becomes authoritarianism which can rapidly deteriorate into bullying in the name of the Lord. Paul said – It seemeth good to us and the Holy Spirit – a good… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

I don’t want to stir in any way (no, don’t laugh) but one regular contributor to TA is Thomas Renz, OT tutor at Oak Hill. He may be very unwilling to break cover at a sensitive time – but…. Any thoughts, Thomas? I note he has not come out dismissing Bates’ story in the way that a (probably less well-informed) BB has done – though arguments from silence are always tricksy. My live in partner in a meaningful relationship has been talking to a pal who retired from being principal at a theological college not too long ago. Apparently he… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Get this over quickly, choirboy, so as not to lower the tone further than is necessary. “There’s an Old Queen up here waiting for her gin & tonic” is the second half of a sentence. The first half, which alludes to the alleged orientation of certain of her attendants, is “I don’t know what you queens are doing down there, but …. ” The story circulated very widely, in both straight and gay circles, in the final decades of HM’s life – so much so that I assumed, utterly without prejudice, that quotation of just the second half of the… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

“Real Snobs don’t really like the Queen, thank you very much, because she isn’t really English, she’s German.”

And as for Phil the Greek….:-)

counterlight
Guest
counterlight

Nobody draws blood like quarreling evangelicals.

I wonder how long it would take for the Reasserter coup to come to the same conclusion regarding “Reappraisers” that the Spanish Falange came to regarding the defeated Loyalists;

just shoot ’em.

NP
Guest
NP

Tragic to see some clearly wanting there to be strife and trouble at Wycliffe Hall. Pluralist – great point….so, you want to suggest that one cannot criticise the ABC at all just because one thinks he has done the right thing with TWR and Tanzania? Mynster – an evo may become Principal of an evo institution but still wish to make changes and lead it in a particular way…and some may leave and others will join..this is not a terrible betrayal of anything and does not mean anyone has been stabbed. People who have been around for a long time… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Weird Rabbit:

Yes, and admittedly was mine, except I didn’t have a staff car and bouquet of flowers to deliver it with. So sorry!

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Y’know NP, you’d have found something positive to say about the wreck of the Titanic! I remember in my time at Cuddesdon there were comings and goings and grumblings among the staff as the regime changed – but nothing as cataclysmic as this. It’s significant that no-one in the know seems yet to have challenged the existence of massive staff discontent, etc etc. Students of the Russian revolution will remember how the different parties fell into bloody internecine warfare once they had power. Anglican Catholicism nearly went down the pan over the ordination of women: is evangelical Anglicanism about to… Read more »

lapinbizarre
Guest
lapinbizarre

Counterlight – remember the words of Arnaud-Amaury, papal legate to the Albigensian “crusade” – “Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” — “Kill them all! God will know his own.”