Thinking Anglicans

Wycliffe Hall: two press releases

This week, Wycliffe Hall issued two documents: both are available here as PDF files:

The Guardian’s news article (11th August 2007) concerning Wycliffe Hall contains material inaccuracy. The report both distorts the University of Oxford’s Review of Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) and repeats previously unsubstantiated material derived from anonymous documents circulated to the media. It attributes comments to the Principal he simply did not say.

The Press Office of the University has issued a statement which states that, “the article implies that a report about PPHs generally is directed specifically at Wycliffe Hall. This is incorrect.”

The excellence of the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall are amply demonstrated by the first place achieved by the Hall in the 2007 Norrington Tables for PPHs, results which when compared to the other colleges, gave Wycliffe a higher score than several well known names such as Corpus Christi, Oriel, Exeter, St Hugh’s and St Catherine’s.

Wycliffe Hall has come in first place in the University of Oxford’s Norrington Table for Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) for 2007 just published

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perry butlerdodgyvicarFord ElmsCheryl CloughGöran Koch-Swahne Recent comment authors
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JPM
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JPM

>>>The excellence of the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall are amply demonstrated

Unfortunately, one cannot say the same about their achievements in the field of subject/verb agreement.

NP
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NP

Good work Dr Turnbull!

Frozenchristian
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Frozenchristian

Since the ‘unsubstantiated material’ is not identified, that bit hardly helps. What exactly does Wycliffe think was inaccurate?

John Richardson
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John Richardson

Well done, Wycliffe students and staff. Yes?

John Richardson
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John Richardson

PS: And a gold star to JPM for spotting the grammatical error!

Bob Marsden
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Bob Marsden

Well done, Wycliffe students, principal and staff! Will the Guardian be publishing an article about this?

Daniel Inman
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Daniel Inman

As I’ve said elsewhere, Wycliffe’s standing in the PPH Norrington Table is not a particularly strong defence from Dr Turnbull. Firstly, it only reflects the work of fourteen students (i.e. those taking the University BA in Theology), the large majority of whom were taking the degree as a second degree (all but two, I believe). It cannot be fairly compared with a college like St Hugh’s, which had 99 finalists, almost all of whom would have been undergraduates, nor even with another college in the PPH table like St Stephen’s, which fielded only one candidate this year. Secondly, these fourteen… Read more »

liddon
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liddon

Not well done at all, Turnbull. It has long been the case in the Oxford Theological Colleges that those reading for Schools are taught some of their courses by University teachers as well as the College staff. Daniel Inman is also correct in his interpretation of the results. What is at issue with WH is not the academic reults of those taking Schools, but the entire atmosphere of the College and the ministerial development of the ordinands. Norrington can tell us nothing about this. In the past, I have known of ordinands being told that they must write ‘this’ in… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

One can do all sorts of things with statistics when (a) the numbers involved are so small and (b) the final percentage scores are so close.

A more relevant statistic is that in the last 3 years, Wycliffe have had 60 students in final honour schools, Cuddesdon (where all the bishops come from) 14 and St Stephen’s House 8. So if the report’s main gripe is against Wycliffe one has either to ask why or return to the main point that the three specialists among those who produced it comprise a catholic and two liberals, and partiality will be inevitable.

Uriel
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Uriel

“It attributes comments to the Principal he simply did not say.”

As to grammar, style, subject/verb agreement, etc., I would question whether one “says” a comment. One “makes” a comment, in my experience.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Uriel,
That may be a cross pond thing. I for instance have no idea what “reading for Schools” means.

stephen bates
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stephen bates

I won’t go over what others have said here, except to say that TA regulars will have had the opportunity to see Dr Turnbull’s speech to the Reform conference earlier in the summer and can draw their own conclusions about what he was saying and, also, to have read what his deputy thinks of women’s role in teaching men. My article of 11th August explicitly stated that the current review concerned all seven PPHs and named them. Dr Turnbull states there have been no allegations received of misogyny or homophobia but also adds that they have not been substantiated, which… Read more »

Matthew Firth
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Matthew Firth

Daniel Inman is clearly not happy with the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall. This makes me wonder why he chose to attend the said evangelical college as un undergraduate.

But I suppose one would always prefer ones former institution to remain the same forever…nostalgia about the good old more liberal days, perhaps?

NP
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NP

Must be frustrating for Stephen Bates…..after all he has written, Dr Turnbull is still firmly in place at WH, no sign of diminished support from +Liverpool for the Principal, a full staff for the new term are arriving, all student places full – it seems negative articles in The Guardian ain’t shaking out the conservative Principal…..maybe if they were based on more evidence, they might be more effective.

liddon
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liddon

Ford Elms

Sorry to confuse; at Oxford you don’t study for a degree you ‘read for Schools’ i.e. you want to be awarded a degree in, for instance the Divinity School, so, the Norrington Tables only take note of those at WH who have studied an Oxford degree, they don’t look at others who may be taking different degrees from other universities. This means, as has been pointed out, that WH has an advantage over the undergraduate colleges, because most of WH students will already have a degree in something else and will know how to deal with a course.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Thanks Stephen ; no doubt plentry of the indoctrinated lemmings of the current student body will be on hand to reply.

In may view, evangelical theology should be confined to mail order degree mills, such is its lack of credibility. Or we could offer degrees in the literal truth of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which in my view would be of about as much credibility (and far less harmful).

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“Sorry to confuse”

No worries! We are, after all, two nations separated by a common language!

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” St Stephen’s House scored a whopping 84% in the 2004/05 Norrington Table, outflanking all other colleges, not just the PPHs, by a margin of 10% over the top college – St John’s. If this year’s finalist at St Stephen’s House had gained a First rather than a 2:1, – which might have been narrowly missed for all we know – their score would have been a record-breaking 100%, which no college could stand a hope of ever achieving! There is a disclaimer “since the numbers of degrees awarded per… Read more »

John Richardson
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John Richardson

Gosh. Given the reactions of people on this blog to Wycliffe coming top of the table, one wonders if they’d have had any words left if Wycliffe had come bottom. Some of them would have popped a vein!

I’ve got a mental picture of the faces in the old HM Bateman cartoons. Perhaps there should have been one for ‘The man who suggested people might go to hell without Jesus.’

The truth is, nobody cares where Wycliffe came in the tables, do they? And that is why, I suspect, blogging and commenting is such a fruitless exercise.

stephen bates
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stephen bates

NP can rest assured, it is of no consequence or interest to me whether Dr Turnbull remains in post or not, except, possibly, insofar as it impinges on the wider reputation of my old university. I really could not care less. I’ve merely been drawing attention to what quite a number of people inside Wycliffe Hall and in the wider evangelical community have been saying to me privately about its conduct and that of its principal in recent months. I have never called for Dr Turnbull’s resignation or replacement (as if I’d have any influence in the matter! Flattering of… Read more »

Daniel Inman
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Daniel Inman

Matthew, generally undergraduates like myself read for the Honour School of Theology to develop their critical faculties in the pursuit of truth, and not to merely repeat the kerygma of ecclesiastical parties – Evangelical, Liberal or otherwise. Your comment is reflective of just the kind of partisan atmosphere which makes for an unhealthy context for the study of anything, let alone God. In this sense, it’s far more interesting than the Norrington Table as an indication of Wycliffe’s direction. And, whilst ignoring your prejudice of my theological commitments, it seems bizarre that you should consider the likes of Prof McGrath,… Read more »

Matthew Firth
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Matthew Firth

Merseymike, you commented that more of the indoctrinated lemmings from Wycliffe will be on hand to reply. I don`t believe that we are lemmings, but I suppose we are indoctrinated in that the doctrine tuition we receive at Wycliffe is very good indeed. And that is the doctrine we in turn will be teaching when we lead in the parishes – standard, orthodox Christian doctrine. When you compare evangelical theology as akin to believeing in the literal truth of Grimm`s Fairy Tales, you just diplay the same silliness that Richard Dawkins is indulging in at the moment. Which bit of… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
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Daniel made an excellent point that the current “graduates” have been trained in large part by souls who are no longer there. I like the movie “working girl” where one character tries to take credit for others ideas and efforts. The fruit will be best measured by what is seen in three years time. Stephen, I empathise with your frustrations that things disappear into black holes. It has been my personal experience and others have shared with me the same problem. It appears to be a systemic strategy occuring internationally of “plausable deniability” by denying that papers or evidence were… Read more »

Pluralist
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I thought the General Synod received a reply that a critical eye was being kept on Wycliffe Hall and developments.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Because, Matthew, I think evangelical religion is dangerous, harmful and should be challenged and marginalised whenever possible. As for Richard Dawkins : if the choice is between evangelicalism and its god, and atheism, then the latter wins every time. Perhaps, rather than regard him as ‘silly’, you should consiuder why so few people are interested in your religion, and how many more of us utterly reject it. I would include all of ths slogans in your last mail as things I ‘don’t believe’, and suggest you consult John Spong’s latest book which demonstrates well why Christianity is so badly in… Read more »

Matthew Firth
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Matthew Firth

Daniel Inman – my comments are not reflective of any partisan attitude at all (I am not one of the `conservative` students in the current student body!). I was merely pointing out that your posts show that you are not happy with the academic standards at Wycliffe and that you have a bias against more conservative approaches to theology. I did not refer to McGrath, Wenham and Storkey as liberal, I was referring to your perception that Wycliffe is now conservative and that in your day it was a more liberal environment and that you wish it could go back… Read more »

Matthew
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Matthew

Leaving aside the personal disagreements that have taken up space on this blog, doesn’t it seem rather unfortunate that the various wings of the Church are bickering, during a week in which no expert from the Anglican or Catholic communions could be found to contribute to an ITV Television documentary promoting the Islamic view of Jesus?

Matthew Firth
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Matthew Firth

Matthew – I agree with your sentiments. I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether because they take up time and energy which could be better spent. However, being a member of an institution which has been unfairly attacked from all sides does require me to make some sort of response in order to explode the myths that are peddled in the press, on Thinking Anglicans, on Fulcrum…

Göran Koch-Swahne
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You would prefer that, wouldn’t you?

Soooo much handier…

liddon
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liddon

That’s right, Goran, There are people, like Matthew Firth: ‘I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether because they take up time and energy which could be better spent’ and John Richardson: ‘And that is why, I suspect, blogging and commenting is such a fruitless exercise.. who don’t like points of view other than theirs to be heard. If you want to smile, go to Richardson’s own blog (I know, it’s contradictory for him to have one, but he does like his own voice to be heard, and he makes the rules for posting so tight that… Read more »

NP
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NP

Pluralist…I think you will find that +Liverpool and the council back WH and its Principal….despite the noise of Mr Bates in The Guardian (maybe they don’t read it….or required evidence to take action?)

Mr Bates….glad you do not expect to be influential -that must save a lot of disappointment.

Cheryl Clough
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“I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether…” Yes some would. Some think of this as McCarthyism or “Big Brother”. Another of my strategies has been to put these souls in a conundrum. They either allow us to communicate unfettered (which implies a tolerance of our dialogues) or they have to move to refute our suggestions (lest they be seen to inadvertantly condone). The thing that is really pissing some of them off (not necessarily you Matthew) is that we are reading the bible and finding examples and precedents to continue Jesus’ inclusive reformation principles. They would… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“I would rather that sites like this [TA] be closed down altogether”. Bet you would, Matthew Firth; bet you would! As Göran says, “Soooo much handier…” Certainly makes your statement “my comments are not reflective of any partisan attitude at all” that much more credible. Just how gullible do you think we are?

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Ref Stephen Bates’s comments: I have not heard of anyone who ever denied that the report was an official one. My point was, as I mentioned earlier, different: namely, that ‘official’ reports do not (in the fundamnetalist way of things) fall from the sky, but issue from very particular and very small groups of people with very particular backgrounds and presuppositions. Different committee: different report. The shortcomings of the Norrington table are well-known, but aren’t its strengths also? If for example Merton consistently comes top, that surely means something? And in any case, what better alternative is there for assessing… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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What is apparent is that a report in whatever way touching Wycliffe Hall makes some people panicke.

Interesting.

Pluralist
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Well why do they panic – because Wycliffe Hall is another issue about the same issue. The fault lines are the same, which is why there is a big noise of cracking.

NP
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NP

Goran – you see panic??

I see the Principal in place, supported by his council, with a full staff and students taking all places available…..they don’t look like they are in panic at WH – do they???

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I am as usual referring to the comments here.

The denials, the evasions, the rubbishing, the insolence…

Panicke.

Göran Koch-Swahne
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Not least; the calls for censorship ;=)

Robert Klein
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Robert Klein

>> the insolence <<

Exactly – it’s the lack of respect for their liberal, clever ‘betters’ that galls them so much

NP
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NP

Goran….do you know the English word “tosh”?

What I see on this thread is a group which wants the Principal of WH to fall…..and people like me saying there is no panic at WH.

I see Turnbull in place and the college looking healthy (and better managed than in the past)….I ain’t in a “panic” but then I wish WH well so there is no reason for me to be disappointed that it seems to be doing well as the new Principal modernises it.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Some souls don’t panic. Sociopaths never panic. The complacent never panic. The arrogant and cruel never panic. Their failure to panic is actually their condemnation, it shows they have no remorse or conscience or empathy or humility. Isaiah 29:13-24 springs to mind “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“Goran – you see panic?? I see the Principal in place, supported by his council, with a full staff and students.”

You are consistent in your approach to reality, NP – I’ll give you that.

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

“1984” ain’t “modernising”, NP.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

NP,
You see a conspiracy by the EHBLs to bring down the godly principal of Wycliffe????

Robert Klein
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Robert Klein

NP: >> people like me saying there is no panic at WH. >Some souls don’t panic. Sociopaths never panic. The complacent never panic. The arrogant and cruel never panic. Their failure to panic is actually their condemnation, it shows they have no remorse or conscience or empathy or humility … Listen to the grievances of the abused: women, children, GLBTs, outcastes, the poor. Heal them and you will heal yourselves in kind.<< Heavens – now Wycliffe Hall and Turnbull are responsible for all the oppression of women, children, the poor, homosexuals etc in the world? Astounding that a yorkshireman and… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Robert, I think the point is that Wycliffe isn’t so much responsible for those evils as the mindset indicated by the current situation seems to be exactly the mindset that perpetuated those evils for centuries, and that we need to learn from and not repeat the great mistakes we have made in the past. “Evangelicals who feel marginalised and oppressed in the Church of England” Explain, please, with particular reference to “oppressed”, if you would. According to NP, Evangelicalism is growing by leaps and bounds in England. What is the “oppression” you are talking about? Around here, I get the… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Robert The Wycliffe Hall leadership is not responsible for the abuse of GLBTs, women, children or outcastes who occurred before their office or outside their jurisdiction. They are responsible for the GLBTs, women, children or outcastes since thier office and within their jurisdiction. If they claim to represent the penultimate manifestation of what God desires, they become responsible for others who emulate their teachings (no matter how distorted or for how many before generations or hence). Welcome to the Jesus condundrum. Claim to be of the God of the Old Testament, then you are of accountable to the God of… Read more »

Robert Klein
Guest
Robert Klein

>>They are responsible for the GLBTs, women, children or outcastes since thier office and within their jurisdiction.<< Who are these people who have been oppressed by the leadership of Wycliffe Hall? Can you name a single one of them? What makes you think they exist? I have talked to women and the husbands of women who study there and they have said that the leadership, in particular Richard Turnbull, have been very supportive of them and that Turnbull had even “gone in to bat for” them. p.s. I love the term ‘outcastes’. It makes me think of queues of people… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Does Wycliffe allow Hindus to study there? Another of my jokes is that no one who has collected a win from a lottery has complained that the system doesn’t work. Under apartheid, many white South Africans so no problem with the system and were oblivious or indifferent to the suffering of the non-winners. Journalists recognise that they are sometimes spun a story, show to “ideal” households, or only able to talk under supervision so that only “suitable” messages are given and “appropriate” images recorded. Sometimes journalism involved pulling away the veil to see what is really going on. It sometimes… Read more »