Wycliffe Hall responds

Richard Turnbull reacts to the earlier article by Giles Fraser in the Guardian in I didn’t say you’ll all go to hell. (Some of the comments are also interesting.)

The elected present, past and future Student Presidents of Wycliffe have a letter in both the Church of England Newspaper and the Church Times. Anglican Mainstream has reproduced the CEN version.

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

“I believe 95% of people will “burn in hell” is a misrepresentation when the rest of my sentence, “unless the message of the gospel is brought to them”, is excluded.”

So that’s all right then….

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“It would appear that Satanists worship a being that seemingly rejected this. Thus satan clearly represents love whereas god is unspeakably wicked.” I posted here a while ago a link to a piece called The River of Fire, a talk by an Orthodox(the real ones) theologian in which he was pretty damning of PSA. One of his points is that PSA makes God into the enemy, since it is Him and His wrath from whom we must be saved. This, he argues, has turned the West against God, since PSA does not portray God as the “lover of mankind” which… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Good, positive response from Dr Turnbull.
His tone is not that of a defeated or worried man.

Looks like those who may have hoped to see him hounded out by anonymous letters etc may be disappointed.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

What are “contemporary forms of management”? and how do they relate to a College which rather would be a Seminar?

Wendy Carey
Guest
Wendy Carey

The letter in the Church Times from the Wycliffe Presidents past & present would be more compelling in its claim to be diverse, had they been able to ‘scrape up’ a woman student to sign alongside!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Personally, as evangelical theology is academically unacceptable,m given that it starts from a view of the Bible as inerrant and directly inspired, this above criticism, I do not believe any public funding should be available for such Mickey Mouse fantasy beliefs masquerading as academic learning.

Turnbull is a very good example.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP,
WOuld you care to comment on my post? I know it tends to contradict your belief that Evangelicalism is growing by leaps and bounds and therefor The One True Faith, but still, sticking your fingers in your ears singing “La, La, La” as loud as you can will not make such things go away.

badman
Guest
badman

Why did it take so long to come up with so little? The trio of presidents say “It is certainly regrettable that some staff felt they have had to move on and, although their reasons for leaving vary, we recognise that the implementation of change has not been handled as successfully as it might have been.” So where’s the beef? What were the reasons for the staff leaving? Were they well founded? If not, why not? How has “the implementation of change” been mishandled? What changes are referred to? “Nonetheless many members of staff remain…” That’s hardly setting the bar… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

“His tone is not that of a defeated or worried man.”—NP

No, indeed. It’s more like that of a whacky fanatic.

Rod Green
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Rod Green

Wendy, slightly harsh I think, not one of the three of us who signed the letter comes from the same Conservative stable as Richard. The future President has a more Catholic expression of the Christian faith, the past and present Presidents are both Charismatic. That seems to me to represent a reasonably broad spectrum of views. All of us would love to see a female student elected as the next President Elect of the Common Room. There are women on the ballot paper so you never know!

Pluralist
Guest

Was the 95% really the main issue? The reason I wrote the transcript was because he was out to “capture” the theological colleges, as part of a “strategic” plan and influence ministers for “generations” – and then having said why he had wanted this appointment as Principal, and said it was strategic, blamed the above lot on the liberals – a nice bit of deflective footwork and completley unconvincing when he was talking about himself. We know that conservative evangelicals think we are all off to imaginary land when we decompose, but the main point was the entryism of the… Read more »

ash
Guest

all Turnbull does is refer to the great achievements of early evangelicalism, and the history of Wycliffe, and try and use those to say that his current system is okay. This is idiotic. Just because something used to be good, doesn’t mean that it still is: and he provides no evidence from the present.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… the main point was the entryism of the Puritans.”

Or “contemporary forms of management” as they seem to prefer it ;=)

Steven
Guest
Steven

I’m getting into this one a bit late, but it seems that some have taken issue with a basic bit of Christian belief–or, at least, a belief that has been held by the vast majority of Christians in all times and places–i.e., that people who die without Christ die without hope of heaven. This is, and always has been, part of the scandal of Christianity–its exclusivity. So, what’s the problem with this in terms of the president of a theological hall? As far as I know, this belief has also been held by all of the great theologians of the… Read more »

bertie. g.
Guest
bertie. g.

I feel very sorry for the staff at Wycliffe Hall when they are quite obviously gagged and have to sit by whilst only the Principal can speak. Now it seems they can’t even rely on the (male) student presidents to show any sense of justice or spiritual discernment Charismatics? Forget it! Just yes-boys!

James Crocker
Guest
James Crocker

Ford, just out of interest, how do you think that the Orthodox would respond to your theology, and the theology of others who post on thinkinganglicans? Do you, for instance, think that they would be pleased with the apparent (and I acknowledge that this is my interpretation of comments made here) disassociation of the love of God from the bodily resurrection of Christ? I ask this simply out of interest, and am aware that not all here do disassociate these things. I am also aware that as Anglicans our job is not to simply accept what the Eastern churches teach… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

I read about two-thirds of the comments and then had to stop. The open mockery and unapologetic disdain for all forms of Christianity shown by most of the commenters was finally too painful. Of course the commenters are much too simply identifying Christianity with the views of such as Richard Turnbull, which is grotesque, but then Turnbull and his fellow Evangelicals encourage them to do so. I fear Turnbull and his mockers between them might do in belief in the Christian religion altogether, if such a thing were possible. Similar things have happened in the US. American Evangelicals identified themselves… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

“what’s so scandalous about a theologian repeating a basic tenet of the Faith” is that it is becoming uncommunicative. It attracts few, convinces few, is intellectually narrow, is futureless… Theology without ethics is pointless, and the ethical person is the one who is of interest today. I have no interest in a life to come, and rather think we all decompose thank you, but my interest is in what sort of sympathy and empathy did I or he or she have for the other person, what sort of compassion was or was not developed, and how can there be service… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest
Malcolm French+

Rod Green said: “”not one of the three of us who signed the letter comes from the same Conservative stable as Richard”

So you cover a range of opinion – all the way from quite conservative to very conservative?

(That may not be fair, but I thought of the line and I wanted to use it.)

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Appealing to “authority” (of late the Byzantine State church tradition) NP, Steven and James Crocker simply repeat the ever-present claim, that the “xcandal” of 16th to 17th to 20th century Calvinism in its varying aspects is Christianity tout court and identical to the Gospel.

It isn’t.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

James Crocker wrote: “… the apparent (and I acknowledge that this is my interpretation of comments made here) disassociation of the love of God from the bodily resurrection of Christ?”

Just don’t “interpret”! (you might even be let into heaven if you cease ;=)

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Charlotte – this has already been seen, anecdotally, by myself amongst the gay community who are leaving the church in droves are are contemptuous of its homophobia.

And if its a choice between evangelicalism and atheism , then its atheism every time. Better no God at all than the legalistic, premodern tyrant of the conservatives.

When will liberals learn that the one thin g the conservatives have got right is that there really are two religions and that conservative evangelicalism in all its forms, as described by the current Wycliffe students, simply isn’t worth believing in or being in ‘communion’ with?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

As I pointed out in another thread, fleeing Church and Religion altogether was the oh! so very “effective” effect last time “planting” was the cry of the day, also…

To wit, I had one – repeat one – visitor in church this Ascension in one such place ;=)

But then, perhaps not only ++Abuja, but also Dr Turnbull are “liberal” plants to give the self-proclaimed “orthodox” a bad name…

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“the legalistic, premodern tyrant of the conservatives”

Anti-Modern, Mersymike. One cannot be pre-modern after the fact, only anti.

robert marshall
Guest

On Tuesday MerseyMike wrote:
`There are many other evangelical colleges which nevertheless have avoided the Taliban mentality, such as St John’s , Bristol, and Ridley`
– which seems to suggest that these are basically ok, but in a comment yesterday he seems to tar it all as ‘Micky Mouse fantasy’ – I’m confused – or is expecting consistency too much?

ChrisM
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ChrisM

Charlotte. Read the comments on any piece by Giles Fraser (and other equally ‘inclusive’ guys) and you’ll feel the same pain, so don’t pin the problems of Christianity’s image on the evan’s.

The attitude contained in this particular thread, that all things evangelical is the root of all evil, is no fun to read either. Reminds me of Professor Henry Higgins (“My Fair Lady” for those who don’t know their musicals) singing “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

Alumna
Guest
Alumna

What a shamefully limp response from the student presidents: “the implementation of change has not been handled as successfully as it might have been”. It’s impossible to make a distinction between “the implementation of change” and the substance of the reforms themselves. What is being introduced is a totally unconsultative executive management style, one that would not even be tolerated in a secular business environment. The threat of disciplinary action (absolute fact) is bordering on the illegal. The Hall Council has badly let down staff members who have served the college faithfully and accepted change graciously for years, by ignoring… Read more »

bertie g
Guest
bertie g

Alumna expresses what I felt. I hope the student presidents go to the staff and apologise for making their situation even more painful than it need have been. I have another two issues. 1. When these students say: ‘this is a situation that is reflected across the University of Oxford. Traditional forms of collegiate government are giving way to more contemporary forms of management and this transition has not been easy’ don’t they realize that the university of Oxford actually threw out the attempt at ‘more contemporary forms of management’? This was not because they were contemporary but because they… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

You can have a premodern position inside a postmodern bubble. The Radical Orthodoxy of John Milbank is premodern in his postmodern bubble. It might at times be anti-modern (he has a go at Sociology as “secular theology” – ignoring its research basis and therefore the limits it places on itself) but when it carries on in its sweet way with no interest in the modern then it becomes premodern and not antimodern.

James Crocker
Guest
James Crocker

“I have no interest in a life to come, and rather think we all decompose thank you” – then whatever you are, you are simply not a Christian, cf. 1 Corinthians 15. There is much of the ethical in the bible and in Christianity, but there is also much of the supernatural, indeed, in Christian terms you can not have one without the other. Goran – Surely someone as well read as you knows that you cannot read or think without interpreting, but I rather think (there’s that word) that you would be much happier if people just accepted what… Read more »

David H.
Guest

Pluralist writes of Milbank, “he has a go at Sociology as ‘secular theology’ “

Isn’t that odd ? (but perhaps not unexpected 😉 So many of the radically “conservative” religious are *so* unfamiliar with science that they feel free to dismiss it as just another sort of theological viewpoint. Rather explains their stubborn adherence to views about gays & lesbians that the rest of the civilized world gave up years ago…

Come on, folks! The world’s not flat, demons don’t cause mental illness, and gay people aren’t “broken heterosexuals.”

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

David H. – have you read any Milbank? Or is your comment purely based on what you have read in this thread?

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

If Alumna and bertie g. are right when they claim that the troubles at Wycliffe are about “a totally unconsultative executive management style”, have not Wycliffe staff members been let down also by those who clouded the issue with spurious claims of a theological sea change? A climate in which every defence or criticism of Richard Turnbull is seen to be making a theological point is hardly conducive to addressing the matter at hand – if management style is the matter at hand. Maybe here is the answer to badman’s question “Why did it take so long to come up… Read more »

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

James, you are, of course, welcome to your opinion; however, there is an honourable Christian tradition which rather concentrates on ‘by their fruits’ passages. Too much nonsense has been spoken, and too much evil done, in the name of the delights of heaven for many people to feel entirely comfortable with it. Faith is held in common in the Catholic tradition, I would add, and the individual gifts and insights we bring are held mystically together in the one body. Pluralist is a valued fellow-pilgrim Christian here, and his contribution to the household of faith is, at the very least,… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Thomas, “contemproary forms of management” a r e the theological sea-change.

Or will it be more intelligible if I say the other way around: The theological sea-change is about “contemporary forms of management”.

Empire.

Alumna
Guest
Alumna

Yes, I think there’s an extent to which you’re right Thomas, the theological focus has become a bit of a red herring. I suspect that Turnbull has wanted to make it easier for conservatives to find a home at Wycliffe, but that this policy hasn’t been the real problem for departing tutors. Then again, his address to the Reform conference (references to ‘2 out of the 4’ theological colleges etc.) does indicate that there’s a strong link between his strategy for Wycliffe and a theologically conservative agenda. Perhaps the most urgent concern is his maverick leadership style and shabby treatment… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Alumna – I agree the use of the phrase “two plus four of the evangelical theological colleges” could indicate a theological agenda at work, and especially so if it is meant to correct a (previous, perceived) status quo of “one plus five”. But Richard Turnbull uses the phrase in a way which suggests that his audience is already familiar with it and I am not sure he means to imply that he has changed the situation from “one plus five” to “two plus four”. I had not come across this phrase before and I confess that I do not know… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I’d give thanks to Mynsterpreost, but at present he is not under the big Anglican tent but under a small canvas tent. Pity for the supernatural. If Christianity depends on the supernatural, then it has had it. It must then be a small sect in another world. How’s that for some dogma? And I’m not sure John Milbank believes in the supernatural either, stuck in his self-defeating premodern content postmodern structure bubble. I’ve read him, sections, read about him, and I have a slavish book by James K. A. Smith who tries to do the same from a Protestant angle.… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Why am I not interested in continued life? Because I view it in a Buddhist manner. It would be an attachment, and being attached to the transient is to be let down. Faith should be done for its own sake. Yes this is from Buddhism; and I take this because it seems to be right. That it does not conform to some label does not bother me.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Ford, just out of interest, how do you think that the Orthodox would respond to your theology” James, I am a theologically uneducated layman who reads. I do not have theology, I have opinions and beliefs, based on my limited knowledge, of the theology put out by theologians. As to what the Orthodox would think of my beliefs, they would have issues with my acceptance of Anglican orders and the filioque, though I would prefer if we got rid of the latter, since I think the Orthodox are ight on that one. Pretty much everything else, I doubt there’d be… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“When will liberals learn that the one thin g the conservatives have got right is that there really are two religions and that conservative evangelicalism in all its forms, as described by the current Wycliffe students, simply isn’t worth believing in or being in ‘communion’ with?” As a gay man with no interest in leaving the Church at present, and who would likely join the Orthodox (not exactly the most liberal group) if it came to it, as someone repulsed by most of what I see presented as Evangelical Christianity, and as someone who values diversity, I have great issues… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Some of us would like to see a Christianity that is entirely compatible with openness and the non-supernatural.” How totally uninspiring! I’m not sure how “openness” is exclusive of the supernatural either. Frankly, I don’t see how one can be non-supernatural and still posit the existence of a god of any form. If one is to consider the existence of a being that created all that is, one must allocate such a being to a supernatural existence, since the ‘natural’ is the created realm to which the Creator does not belong. Why the mistrust of the suernatural? I am actually… Read more »

Steven
Guest
Steven

Bravo Ford! I would add that Pluralist is most obviously not a “pluralist”, to the extent that term indicates someone who values diversity. (This is not unusual–I find that most of those who crow about inclusiveness and diversity are only interested in their particular flavor of inclusiveness and diversity). Moreover, religion stripped of the supernatural is merely dry bones to most of us–and without any more attraction than a variety of other competing secular philosophies. Overall, Pluralist takes some strange positions for someone who, at least in part, says that he does not like the positions expounded by Turnbull because… Read more »

FordELms
Guest
FordELms

“Moreover, religion stripped of the supernatural is merely dry bones to most of us–and without any more attraction than a variety of other competing secular philosophies.” Well, thanks for the affirmation, Steven, but this line is pretty much what I think of Evangelicalism. There is lip service paid to things supernatural, but there is profound discomfort with anything that actually claims that the supernatural and the natural blend in Christianity. I have had Evangelicals tell me that labyrinths are satanic, that contemplative prayer is satanic, and that when I venerate the Sacrament, I am guilty of idolatry. Ditto icons. Baptism… Read more »

Steven
Guest
Steven

Ford: You’re certainly right about the approach of many Evangicals to certain spiritual practices. However, you will never find one who denies the resurrection, denies that Christ actually performed real miracles, etc. I.e., they do not deny the Supernatural in general, they merely have a profound mistrust of a variety of practices and beliefs that they associate with Papism (even though they may not know the word). For some, anything that doesn’t stay very close to things they can actually point to in the Word of God (as explained by Brother Bob each Sunday) is anathema. Still, while I may… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I thik there is a misunderstanding here. Being “pluralist” does not mean lacking a position, but means taking truths from various directions without present boundaries, and secondly mixing with people and ideas different from oneself in order to have a conversation and change. My position is one that develops particularly through the symbolism of Anglican spirituality, and sees in it valid themes of service and self sacrifice, means to withdraw and engage with the world, and some very fundamental comings together of food, the natural, the spiritual gift, the community. Social anthropologists recognise how communities bind and how purposes develop… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Maybe the difficulty lies in “listening”.

For those who cannot listen, listening must seem a strange thing.

It seems logical that for those who’s identity is that they are “right” through their “beliefs”, listening must seem like being devoid of beliefs altogether.

Ali Campbell
Guest

I don’t know what to call myself on this website, but I do want to register a comment. By some I might be termed an evangelical, by some on the evangelical spectrum I might be thought of as a liberal . . . I love Jesus. I am sad to see the Church pulling itself apart like this and such a mistrust. Perfect love casts out fear, but I guess I must be loving imperfectly as I am worried about what is going on! I was thinking about unity with a catholic friend and we searched for some common ground… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Pluralist, If I have sounded disrespectful, I apologize. It’s just that for me, returning to faith involved a realization that there is an abstract side to the human experience, one that is approached through silence, meditation, ritual, prayer, and simple contemplation of the total otherness of the Divine. There is more to us than what we can measure. I thus don’t understand why anyone would want to reduce religion back down to the measurable and the defined. If it is merely a set of ethical rules, then why bother, there are lots of those. I don’t go to God for… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“a variety of practices and beliefs that they associate with Papism” I have gotten my face eaten off using the word “Papist” in a joking fashion, beware!:-) That said, this shows the divide between us. I suspect that much of what I find meaningful for my faith would fall under this category, and the absence of those things in Evangelicalism is what I am referring to when I say Evos have a mistrust of mysticism and spirituality and that I find it legalistic and soulless. But then, they would find my beliefs idolatrous and superstitious, I suppose. Different people come… Read more »