Wycliffe Hall: a couple of items

First, wannabepriest has drawn attention to how the situation there has changed by linking to this from 2005:

Does the organisation Reform have a place within the evangelical firmament of the Church of England, not to mention the wider Anglican Communion? The question is prompted by the recent decision of the council of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to ban meetings of the local student branch of the movement until a policy can be formulated on the ‘issue’…

Second, Giles Fraser has written a comment article Not faith, but fanaticism in today’s Guardian which concludes like this:

…Of course, what should really happen is that the bishops of the Church of England stop using colleges like this to train its priests. Places such as Wycliffe are turning Anglicanism into a cult. But it’s a symptom of how bad things are in the C of E, and how frightened its bishops have become of the financial muscle of conservative evangelicals, that they won’t find the gumption to cut Wycliffe adrift.

But clearly they should. For Anglicanism is fast becoming the nasty party at prayer, with traditionally inclusive theology being submerged by a bargain-basement prejudice that damns to hell all those who disagree. This isn’t faith, it’s fanaticism. And the University of Oxford should not be supporting its work.

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Jeremy Fagan
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Jeremy Fagan

Wycliffe took the decision to ban Reform meetings about 7 years ago under Alister McGrath, and the article that wannabepriest links to seems to be dated 2005, when Alister was just leaving. Perhaps that’s the measure of just how far Wycliffe has moved, and what saddens those who remember it as being open.

NP
Guest
NP

Biased, provocative stuff from Mr Fraser. No defence of free speech or freedom of conscience from him here – although I am sure he would defend others on these grounds. I wonder if he prefers the Anglican training institutions which mainly attract middle-aged people, teach them to have little confidence in anything and send them out to shrink churches all over the country? Anglicanism does not have to be wishy-washy – it can defend its beliefs (as found in the Bible and also the Prayer Book) – even if that means being unpopular with Oxford dons or The Guardian….don’t remember… Read more »

Frozenchristian
Guest
Frozenchristian

NP – which institutions did you have in mind, or is your post actually hopelessly ill informed?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think what we have is an attempted putsch by fundamentalists. Anglicanism in England has to decide what sort of church it intends to be – established, with a national responsibility, broad and encouraging questioning, or just another fringe protestant sect which the vast bulk of the population would have no affinity to at all – even a residual one. If it is the former, then there is no place for either oak Hill or Wycliffe. They should be removed as suitable places for Anglican priests to train. There are many other evangelical colleges which nevertheless have avoided the Taliban… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
Guest

These dangerous institutions seem to be flourishing in the Roman Catholic world as well, notably in the USA. It is not a question of freedom, for the indoctrination of cultists is a threat to their maturity and freedom. We saw in Moscow the other day that Russian Orthodoxy, for all the beauty of its liturgy, is a hotbed of fanaticism and hatred — a warning, surely, to be very careful about encouraging anything that savors of sectarianism or bigotry. Broad and serene theology is needed, if we are to prevent the Churches from playing the role Richard Dawkins assigns to… Read more »

rick allen
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rick allen

I am no evangelical, nor do I have any problem with a Church suppressing or correcting its own teaching institutions whose instruction or practice contradicts its dogmas. But, if it does so, it should certainly cease claiming that it represents some sort of “inclusive” community where all views are respected. You can’t have it both ways.

Colin Coward
Guest

NP, I don’t remember Jesus getting the approval of the liberal establishment either. I do read of Jesus repeatedly condemning those who elevate themselves above others, those who pride themselves on being the most correctly and fanatical religious leaders of their day, and it is this fanaticism which is frighteningly paralleled in what I read about Oak Hill and Wycliffe. I doubt Jesus would have approved of people who wanted to conduct a witch hunt against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, who actively encourage prejudice and diminish our humanity, nor do I think Jesus would have advocated headship and… Read more »

Anglicanus
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Anglicanus

I seem to remember that Giles Fraser is entitled to be refered to as ‘Dr.’ If NP does not wish to call him Father Fraser on grounds of churchmanship, when politeness might invite it, he could at least use an academic title.

The Principal of Wycliffe Hall would, I suspect, take the ‘strategic’ decision to have Dr Fraser silenced. Or at least dismissed from the Hall, were he on the staff. Fortunately for Dr. Fraser, and for the Church in general, he is vicar of a thriving (numerically impressive) church in Putney.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Don’t ditch Wycliffe yet! I was there just a few short years ago when it was relatively sensible and intellectually respectable. There was even a liturgy tutor (though she did used to advise that, after the liturgy, we consume the leftover elements reverently with some soup. But that’s besides the point.). What’s really needed is a change of personnel on the Hall Council. Bring back Tom Wright and Oliver O’Donovan, and perhaps it would be worth bringing in Nigel Biggar (the new Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Philosophy at Oxford, formerly on the teaching staff at Wycliffe) and also,… Read more »

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

NP – by your own logic, you should agree with Fraser, should you not? “What is there between Athens and Jerusalem?” is an ancient cry (or indeed, on these shores, ‘Quid Hinieldus cum Christo?’).

Wycliffe should, you seem to be arguing, cut its links with the perfidious Oxford ivory tower and pursue its course of scriptural fidelity: the same conclusion as Fraser, though arrived at from the opposite direction.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Banning something is a sign of being ‘open’? Which dictionary are u using? :o(

NP
Guest
NP

Merseymike – you do realise that those vicars who follow your sort of idea have seen decades of shrinking congregations in England??

Sorry, I think the growth in Alpha, Reform and Fulcrum churches in England are more persuasive than your assertion that you know the mind of the British people……the evidence is not with you.

counterlight
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counterlight

It all looks very painfully familiar to this American. Such institutions do not exist for the sake of education so much as Basic Training, a kind of boot camp for religious militants. Wycliffe sounds a lot like Pat Robertson’s Regents University whose alumni fill the ranks of the Bush Administration; whose qualifications are not professional expertise, but religious and political loyalty to the White House Ideology. Twenty and thirty year old Bible college graduates serve as the satraps of Imperial America, running the American Raj in Baghdad with command over experienced generals and colonels, as well as Iraqi quislings. We… Read more »

Phil A
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Phil A

Wonderful, an article in defence of academice excellence that makes it point by disgraceful insinuations (cell of religious extremists is calculated to make us think suicide bombing jihadists) and completly unsubstantiated assertions – Oak Hill’s academic standards have gone up and and up under David Peterson (don’t take my word for it, ask the Bishops Inspectors, or the plethora of Oxbridge graduates and PhD holders among the current student body).

If this is Giles Fraser’s idea of a model of academic argumentation, then it doesn’t say much for the current standards of the institution where he is lecturing…

Stephen Walton
Guest
Stephen Walton

So Wycliffe was open… when it banned Reform from meeting? Some unconcious irony in Jeremy’s comment, I think.

Pluralist
Guest

Chris Sugden also made the contrast on Sunday between a sort of church planting orientated college and an academic college. You can have such, but then an attachment to a university is inappropriate. In a university, Theology as a subject has to be fully open and critical and is not just something “passed on”. However, actually, education and training these days is in a hopelessly confused mess. A lot of education now is little other than training, and a lot of ways to pass even academic exams (especially in the school system) is a kind of points acquiring memory exercise… Read more »

BobinWashPA
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BobinWashPA

a state church supporting groups that oppresses others while enacting legislation that tries to protect the same very people seems a bit backward.

NP The Anglican fundies here believe in “my way or the highway.” I’ve been told by some that they fear I’m going to go to hell. My response is, “maybe, but looks like I’m going to plenty of company!” The state should support all people.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

The evidence of 95% of UK citizens not attending church at all, NP, me being one of them at the moment, suggests very much that I know the mind of the British people more than you…

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I am very sorry I missed this article from Dr Gerald Bray in 2005. I would have written offering my full support. It is ludicrous to “ban” meetings of students in a University College because the College Council might not like what it stands for – I am amazed they got away with it. Dr Bray quite rightly argues: “Reform is an organization in good standing within the Church of England, and is even listed as such in the Church’s official Yearbook. It does not appeal to everyone and is actively disliked by some, but so are many other societies… Read more »

Ian Montgomery
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Ian Montgomery

I am very proud to have been trained at Wycliffe and continue to be proud of its accomplishments and commitment to training men and women for ministry. It is that ministry that is the key. The ministry we are trained for is the planting of churches, the conversion to Christ of the people of England (and beyond) and the training of Christian disciples who will in turn make disciples. In western society in its post Christian situation this means a restoration of the New Testament models of life, witness and evangelism. The West is no longer the effective home of… Read more »

NP
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NP

Hello Colin Coward

The Jesus in the Bible says to ALL of us “go and sin no more” as he accepts us……he would say the same to Reform and LGCM today because he had no tolerance for unrepentant hearts.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

I suspect Reform and other groups have raised as many questions by their implicit presupposition of special domininist or reconstructionist privileges for just their own sort of believers – the ongoing campaign to save other believers from asking questions, for example – rather than because of their loyalties to legacy believerhood as such. But people closer to the UK may speak better about that hunch. How odd that the traditional Anglican intellectual thrust towards acknowledging and juggling just the views in tension – towards finding ways to discover implicit common ground that lives still with tension and difference and questions… Read more »

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

Phil A’s comments don’t quite hit the mark. Sectarianism is not incompatible with intelligence, so it is perfectly possible(say) to hold a D.Phil and to be a member of the Free Free Presbyterians. A noted feature of the Leeds landscape in the 70’s was a fundamentalist preacher who traded on his being Professor of Human Joints at the University — he may have been an excellent clinician, but to use it as he did was disingenuous. That Oak Hill’s academic standards are higher than once they were is something of an irrelevance – the issue is whether something recognisable as… Read more »

NP
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NP

Dear Mynster – I would hope Oxford, like my old place, would continue to value freedom of thought and conscience. I am sure it will.

Merseymike – no, 95% of the people in this country are not like you at all – you may share their lack of belief but, unlike you, they are getting on with their lives and not bothering with church affairs…..their position is quite rational.

The good news is that lots of them are becoming Christians in England …but not in the type of Anglican church of which you would approve.

ash
Guest

NP: They’re not becoming Christians though: 95% are still non-Christian. Just because you disagree, doesn’t make the statistic wrong.

Many Evangelical type churches grow by poaching Christians away from other congregations. Everyone knows this. If your church has grown 100% in a year, 80+% of them are probably from other Churches!

badman
Guest
badman

NP, since my understanding is that you are based in Australia, I’m not sure how you can so confidently tell us all back in England what is going on in our English churches.

Brian MacIntyre
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Brian MacIntyre

NP: “The Jesus in the Bible says to ALL of us “go and sin no more” as he accepts us……he would say the same to Reform and LGCM today because he had no tolerance for unrepentant hearts.” Then can we imagine a sequel to the story where Jesus himself picks up the first stone and hurls it at the woman because she sinned again, proving she hadn’t sufficiently repented? I rather think not. Then let’s stop throwing stones, period. The words “Neither do I condemn you” precede the words “Go and sin no more”. It all depends on where you… Read more »

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

Ash makes a serious point, particularly worrying for UPA evangelical churches. There is a ‘honeypot’ near here which has (apparently) trashed congregations , not at the local middle of the road/liberal/ anglo-catholic emporia, but at the poor urban evangelical churches and chapels. ‘Deckchairs’, ‘Titanic’ and ‘rearranging’ are words which come to mind. I believe there is evidence to suggest that most parish Alpha attendees are already church members seeking to deepen their faith (a laudable thing) rather than converts.

flabellum
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flabellum

For years the bishops thought they could keep conservative evangelicals safely in the Oak Hill Ghetto, now they are losing Wycliffe Hall to conservative evangelicals too the situation has become serious. What’s happening at Ridley these days?

Simon
Guest
Simon

All fine and dandy here at Ridley thanks. We’re still decidedly ‘open evangelical’, worshipping and learning alongside Methodists, URC, Anglicans at Westcott, and the good women from Margaret Beaufort RC.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Actually. This is a delightful concept. Since by their theology and conduct, they have proven that Eve (and thus all women) are never to be forgiven (not in 1 or 2000 or 20000 years), then they don’t really need Eve to dwell with them. All they need is a name that they can use as an excuse to justify everything that has gone wrong in the world and why it still okay to continue to use tyranny against others. All they need is a name that they can use in their temper tantrums with God that the world is not… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

_We are now in a time of need for aggressive and bold witness and ministry._ Ian Montgomery There is no time for aggressive anything. When I was at Luther King House, there was a weekly eucharist about which I was on the outside. We identified it as a high pressure event, and indeed it was almost aggressive in a way that perhaps insiders would not see. This idea that somehow some sort of macho, aggression is required is, for me, an irreligious attitude. I’d rather sit down and meditate. It strikes even of desperation, to have to be aggressive. People… Read more »

David H.
Guest

NP wrote, “Sorry, I think the growth in Alpha, Reform and Fulcrum churches in England are more persuasive than your assertion that you know the mind of the British people.” Uh, yeah…because such a huge percentage of your fellow Britons attend church every Sunday. MM will be proven correct in the long run. There will, unfortunately, always be a certain number of people to whom literalistic fundamentalism will appeal. But turning the CoE into just another hardline, fringe Protestant sect is the one, sure way to completely kill any chance it has of attracting your increasingly secular countrymen (not that… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

NP, we *get* it already: membership roll increase = Godliness to you, while membership roll decrease = apostasy [Note, I am not even getting into the debate re how one properly *measures* membership].

Can you PLEASE understand that not every Anglican accepts your paradigm? [And yet is no less “biblical” thereby?]

*****

“it should certainly cease claiming that it represents some sort of “inclusive” community where all views are respected. You can’t have it both ways.”

rick, rick, rick: *false dichotomy*. “Inclusive” means inclusive of all *persons*, in their God-given diversity. NOT inclusive of “all views”! (e.g., white people welcome, Klan membership ain’t)

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Roman Catholic Comment: Of course O’Leary would regard the current Pope as benighted and reactionary!

NP
Guest
NP

no, badman – based in wet, old England. ash – you may want to ask yourself why people are leavig some churches and flocking to others? fabellum – don’t worry – nothing much has changed at WH and it is very similar still to Ridley and its evangelical brothers….all that has happened is that an anonymous insider has not liked the views of the Principal and has sneakily got the press to publicise supposed concerns……which are not likely to be backed by much evidence or the person may have had the courage to speak openly and publicly – they obviously… Read more »

Alex Freeman
Guest
Alex Freeman

I find it disheartening to see again and again you incorrectly portraying the views of evangelicals. Of course there are tiny minority who misuse an evangelical belief to be sexist or homophobic, but most don’t (Most of us really don’t like a certain Mr Bush). I read the view of people like Dr Giles Fraser and some of your posters here, and they show the same bile and hatred for us, based on their straw men. As evangelicals we believe the Bible is the Word of God and is inerrant. Therefore we believe in the reality of heaven and hell… Read more »

Alex Freeman
Guest
Alex Freeman

Using the framework I posted earlier means that when the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong, that we believe that. We don’t hate homosexuals, nor are we afraid of them, we want to show them the love of Christ, that does come though with the command to repent. You don’t have to agree with our belief in the Bible, or our interpretation of it, but you should at least be able to respect it for being sincere and not guided by other factors. As well as seeing that we don’t act in the ways you portray us. Cheryl you rant… Read more »

Alex Freeman
Guest
Alex Freeman

What is this Taliban mentality you speak of? Where are the parallels with evangelicals wanting to impose ourselves on the whole UK? Yes we would like the whole of the UK to put their trust in Christ, but we know that forcing people doesn’t equal heart change (and we don’t want to force change). Where are the British evangelicals asking for laws forcing people to believe in Christ and go to church, aren’t they just trying to stand their ground and be allowed to follow their conscience and beliefs? Richard Turnball spoke of influencing the next generation of ministers to… Read more »

Alex Freeman
Guest
Alex Freeman

Finally, since when has Church planting been Christian marketing? It again needs to be seen through the evangelical framework, or sin, heaven and hell and the gospel of Christ. We believe it is hugely important that people come to faith in Jesus, and we shouldn’t always expect people to come to us, Church planting is going and living among them, loving them and showing them ‘church’ (1 Thessalonians 2:8 ring any bells?). Dr Giles Fraser’s views are misguided at best, and a deliberate twisting at worse. We all disagree, that is clear, and so we have to consider the case… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Alex

Well played. That is what the world needs right now.

My only comment is don’t forget that the bible has been edited by males (and the Koran dictated by the male angel Gabriel – as noted by the female Shechina).

Look up the books of Enoch and Susanna, for example. They have lessons that are profoundly important for these times.

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

Alex: would you please expand (for the sake of clarity) what you understand ‘inerrant’ to mean?

To capture (or attempt to capture) eg ‘salvation by grace’ for evangelical Christianity is itself a it of a straw man tactic (even if unintentional) – the rest of us probably share that belief!

“We Anglo-catholics believe in the Incarnation and Resurrection. To understand our beliefs you need to see them through this framework….” See what I mean?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Alex
Would you say that the evangelicals who regularly post on this site are a fair representation of evangelicals in your eyes?

I think the rather negative view some of us have of evangelicals has been reinforced by some of the more extreme posters here. If they are not representative, and if you believe that it is possible to believe in the literal inerrancy of the bible while emerging as not sexist and not anti gay relationships, then please say so.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Alex, I posted my last comment after you posted your subsequent ones but before they had appeared on TA. I now see that you are supporting the well known view that you can assign women different roles from men, even if they ask for the same ones, and that you can tell homosexuals that thy are inherrently a second class sub section of creation who can only be accepted if they deny themselves the life you would take for granted for yourself. How convenient for heterosexual males who will never find themselves in either position. If it isn’t sexist and… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The Bible does not conform to a unilinear reading of it that Alex interprets. Indeed, it is a collection of layers of interpretation itself. Only by having an enlarged view of authority across it, by smoothing out these layers, does it become a book of rules. So much of the evangelical case is Pauline, and even then is selective and treats books not written by Paul as equal to those that were. And so what if they are written by Paul – he himself is imposing a salvation scheme on Jesus. And then it is selective even up against the… Read more »

Paul
Guest
Paul

“bishops came to believe the training offered did not lie within the Anglican tradition (and I know of at least one who is now unwilling to send candidates to train at Oak Hill)” I am intrigued by this comment made by Mynsterpreost. Im glad you only know of one bishop in that position. our church history class were asked if anyone had been actively discouraged in their selection conferences from reading the 39 articles (you can’t get closer to the anglican foundations can you?) and three were – whereas NONE were activly encouraged to read them (thats in a class… Read more »

Ian Montgomery
Guest
Ian Montgomery

Pluralist writes: “People are not objects to be ‘converted’ in some sort of manipulative manner, reminiscent of Richard Turnbull’s “strategic” approach to “capture” generations. It is dishonest in motivation and unethical.” How sad to mischaracterize and caricature evangelism and the Great Commission imperative to see conversions happen, baptism and discicplship, as manipulation, dishonest and unethical. While I accept that some folk may be over the top (peddlars of God’s word) most accept St. Peter’s dicta that we are “to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (ESV) This is a question of… Read more »

David Chillman
Guest
David Chillman

“As evangelicals we believe the Bible is the Word of God and is inerrant.” Is this another example of the attempt of Conservative Evangelicals to claim total ownership of the term “evangelical”? Because I know plenty of evangelicals and by no means do they all believe that the Bible is inerrant. Conservative Evangelicals believe this – but your average, common or garden evangelical doesn’t necessarily. Even the phrase “Word of God” is not 100% accepted – as people rightly point out that in the Bible it is Jesus who is the Word. Alex, are you suggesting that “true evangelicals” believe… Read more »

Brian MacIntyre
Guest
Brian MacIntyre

Alex – so THAT’S how you get around the 400 word limit! 🙂

Alex Freeman
Guest
Alex Freeman

Re: mynsterpreost Thanks for your comment. I apologise for being unclear. I wasn’t meaning to say evangelicals were the only ones who hold to salvation by grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone. Just that we do hold to it, and that is what we need to be understood in the light of. Re: Inerrancy I am not sure how to concisely explain my views on the Bible best. I believe that the Bible is the word of God, and contains no error. It is also clear that it is made up of different types of literature, historical narrative,… Read more »