Thinking Anglicans

from the papers on Saturday

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Norfolk’s heir to the Punjab.

In The Times Stephen Plant writes about why Trinity Sunday helps us to see the real dangers of bad faith.

The Guardian’s Face to Faith column is written by Joanna Collicutt McGrath and discusses Richard Turnbull’s opinions. As the Guardian explains:

The Rev Dr Joanna Collicutt McGrath is a lecturer in the psychology of religion at Heythrop College. A former student and visiting tutor at Wycliffe Hall, she co-wrote The Dawkins Delusion with her husband, Professor Alister McGrath.

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Thomas RenzlapinbizarrePluralistMartin ReynoldsMynsterpreost (=David Rowett) Recent comment authors
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Martin Reynolds
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Does the adjective “former” only apply to Joanna as a student at Wycliffe, or does it also describe her role as a visiting tutor?

Pluralist
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When the SDP broke from the Labour Party, there was a level of vitriolic speech from Labour to SDP that went far beyond Labour to Conservative. So Joanna McGrath is right, but, also, just as the SDP spent a great deal of time criticising Labour and pointing out why they were no longer there, so Open Evangelicals spend more time (as with this article) discussing their otherwise near neighbours and why they are not them. Basically, the split point is taking effect.

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

She doesn’t appear as an ‘associate lecturer’ on the Wycliffe website.

It’s a pretty damning article: do I recall someone posting a denial on TA that there was a split within Anglican evangelicalism, and that all the suggestions that there was one were just liberal wishful thinking?

Is the former principal’s live in partner in a meaningful relationship just axe grinding, or a faithless liberal, or is there increasing evidence that Stephen Bates’ original article was pretty much on target?

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Sociological considerations are indeed helpful but they do not suggest that Stephen Bates was right. Some have taken issue with the thumbnail sketch of evangelical identity which Richard Turnbull gave to the Reform conference for its lack of academic precision – as if his was an academic paper – and have overlooked the purpose of the speech. Richard Turnbull reassured the conference participants that his concept of “evangelical identity” is fairly traditional. It is worth reminding ourselves that there was not a single reference to the ordination of women or homosexuality here or elsewhere in the speech – the theological… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

http://www.ugleyvicar.blogspot.com/2007/05/why-open-means-closed-and-conservative.html (including comments) is interesting on attempts to distinguish “open” from “conservative” evangelicals and demonstrates the concern with boundary maintenance. I wonder whether in fact sociology or theology will go further to explain the difference.

Steve Doughty and Beth Hale, writing in the Daily Mail, seem to think that “Open evangelicals broadly believe in the importance of Biblical teaching and the spread of the Gospel while rejecting conservative views of traditional morality.” (1 June, reporting on the resignation of Rev Dr Emma Loveridge). I doubt it.

stephen bates
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stephen bates

Dr Collicutt McGrath told me that she was a student at Wycliffe Hall until, I think, 2001 and was a visiting tutor there until last term.

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

What is interesting to me (apart from the quasi-insider position of Dr. C Mcgrath) is that the sociological analysis she suggests implies a necessary hardening of theological boundaries within the movement.

Those of us part of Anglo-catholicism in the 70’s and 80’s will remember an analogous situation when the ordination of women came on the horizon, with ‘proper’ catholics spurning the rest of us, and the formation of ‘pure’ groups like FiF. The sociology and theology seem to go hand in glove.

Martin Reynolds
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I was entertained by Thomas’ gloss on this piece and helped by the deeper insight his contribution offered. I guess he had a twinkle in his eye as he typed!

Thanks to Stephen Bates for telling us Dr Collicutt McGrath has already departed Wycliffe – I thought his piece opining what we see happening at Wycliffe is a microcosm of Communion life was good. He is to be congratulated on changing his mind and opening this internal matter to wider reflection.

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Mynsterpreost makes a fair point when he observes that (often) “sociology and theology seem to go hand in glove” and maybe again one’s view on the ministry of women (church leadership in this case rather than ordination per se) is the crunch point again (I realise that Mynsterpreost does not claim this) because one’s view on the ministry of women in the church seems to be one of the few substantial points to function as a shibboleth in some circles. But if this were the dividing point between “open” and “conservative” evangelicals, it would be hard to claim that Wycliffe… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The sociology of this is Parsonian, essentially, about institutions adapting themselves to their environments, and then whether the environment is viewed as hostile or friendly, and how the system adjusts. It is essentially a situation that Christianity as an institution does not agree on a strategy regarding its environmental setting. It also relates to management-institution theory. Its environment is secular and pluralist; the churches are marginal. Some Christians are very positive regarding the secular and pluralist, and import it. Experts are distributed within the organisation (theologians in the Church), many of whom write radically and use contemporary methods and insights.… Read more »

lapinbizarre
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lapinbizarre

Lovely piece on Prince Frederick Duleep Singh. Fascinating that he should have been a pioneer of the church preservation movement.

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Thank you, Martin. I may well have had a twinkle in my eye – I often do. But the Wycliffe story also leaves me with tears in my eyes. People I know and value are hurting and I mean what I said on another thread: I suspect that they have been let down by people on all sides playing power games.