Thinking Anglicans

opinion

Symon Hill writes for Politics.co.uk that The far-right’s god-whistle politics isn’t going away.

David Keen has ten eight Questions for the CofE to ask itself.

Andrew Brown writes for The Guardian that There’s no such thing as an atheist baby.

N T Wright has been interviewed by J John of the Philo Trust. There is a transcript here: Gay Marriage.
Tobias Haller responds with N T Wright: Wrong Again.

Gillan Scott of God & Politics in the UK writes about Oxfam’s perfect storm, poverty and yet more examples of Christians providing answers.
He has also published this guest post: Christian Aid give their take on the fallout over Oxfam’s ‘perfect storm’ poster.

Bob Morris has written for Law & Religion UK about Abdication? Reigns in Spain and the ‘A’ word (again) in the UK.

The Church of England has published these Prayers for the World Cup.
[Editor’s note: The World Cup is some sort of football competition taking place in Brazil; England is one of the teams taking part.]

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Father David
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Father David

An eleventh question for the C of E to ask itself is where are its scholar bishops? With the recent demise of John Austin Baker I wonder where on the current Bench would there be any bishop capable of writing something like “the Foolishness of God” or “The Church and the Bomb”? Of course, Tom Wright would be in a similar league but he has now gone North of the Border leaving the entire current College of Bishops totally bereft of scholars of a similar stature.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

LOVE the editor’s note! Thank you for the deep chuckle.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

References to Nazi and Stalinist monstrosity, assisted suicide and the deceit that preceded the Iraq war …. this man has serious problems!
Tobias has it. Oh! Yes he has.
To repeat the calumny:
“For two thousand years everyone agreed what and who a bishop was, and then came NT Wright!”

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

N.T./Tom Wright shows how powerful the coming backlash will be. He uses every rhetorical trick in the book to steamroll equal marriage, as he’s previously used them to steamroll opposition to a physical resurrection in academia. Anyone who thinks he’s foredoomed should note how entrenched supernaturalism has become in theology, thanks to his work. Whatever the merits of their arguments, his opponents are afraid to cross him. The coming fight will be be about power, not justice. Wright is a genius at using authoritarian tactics. If he decides to lead the charge against equal marriage, there’s a genuine risk of… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

It is quite clear from Tom Wright’s teaching that we can’t have gay marriage because God created sea and dry land. To disagree with this plain fact is to be like a Nazi.
Some evangelicals certainly know how to be both incomprehensible and highly offensive.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Not to be picky, but David’s title doesn’t specify the number, and there are eight points, not ten.

Andrew F. Pierce
Guest

“Obviously he is also unaware that the English word “black” derives from the Anglo-saxon blæc — meaning “white.” (Think “bleach”). But let that pass.”

Words are tricky things … agendas make them so. please check here … (will have to cut and paste ‘m afraid)

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=black

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Bravo Fr David H and well said.

Jeremy Fagan
Guest
Jeremy Fagan

Nazis redefined words so ban doing that! And they built motorways – ban them! A-roads only from now on! And they used banners – pull them down, all you evil nasty church ladies sewing circles! And posters – no more advertising! And music. And.. And..

Rules of online debate – 1st to mention Hitler loses. Applies here, I think.

Robin
Guest
Robin

The use of the “reductio ad Hitlerum” (the mention of Hitler and the Nazis) is generally taken to mean that the user knows he/she has lost the argument and is forced to rely on bluff and bluster. It took N T Wright a mere 40 seconds to get there.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Thanks Tim, Maths was never my strong point. The Bench also greatly misses Rowan who has a brain the size of a planet, even though lesser mortals used to say that they often couldn’t understand the point he was making.

As for Queen Elizabeth considering for a single moment, the “A” word, please God, that’s a non-starter as she will, I am sure, wish to reign longer than Victoria and become the longest reigning British monarch ever. Long May she reign.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Andrew, it has been a long time since my undergraduate days studying Anglo-Saxon, but if you check the Anglo-Saxon online dictionary, you’ll find much more detail about this. The lexical problem is that blæc is used in AS to modify both dark and light objects, and one can only determine the meaning from the context. My point is that words to not have the kind of absolute meaning that NTW seems to think they ought to have. For further detail, see http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/finder/3/bl%C3%A6c or check your online etymological dictionary under “bleach” “Old English blæcan ‘bleach, whiten,’… The same root probably produced… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Tobias’s rejoinder is well worth a read and a reminder for me to read his blog on a regular basis. Also checkout some of the learned comments in the comments section (including Anglo-Saxon terminology for marriage prior to the French origins of ‘marier’ and ‘mariage’. Some people hold to this very fixed view of genders and gender based institutions that they can never change over time. Likewise and not coincidentally words are also like fixed essences that can never and must never change over time. It’s a little like God not only created land, sea, animals (all in their kinds… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Yes, James Barr turned the TDOT and TDNY upside down by pointing out how unreliable etymology is. As my teacher Marvin Pope used to say, in Lane’s Arabic dictionary a root means X, its opposite, and something to do with a camel. So just pointing out the eccentricities of word evolution tells us very little. Culture can make the word ‘marriage’ refer to something new. But that will not dislodge use of the word to mean what has traditionally been associated with the ‘goods of marriage.’ People will continue to associate that meaning with the Christian understanding. Others will have… Read more »

Fr Paul
Guest
Fr Paul

Dear Father David

I am one of those lesser mortals you are referring to….

Blessings

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

James Byron says:
“If he (Tom Wright) decides to lead the charge against equal marriage, there’s a genuine risk of repeal in the next decade.”

No, there isn’t – not a cat in hell’s chance. All those MPs and Lords are going to have their minds changed by this stuff? It ain’t gonna happen.

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

Thanks for the link Peter Father David – scholar bishops are a fine thing, but the issues my piece raises are mostly not ones of scholarship. In my diocese half of our 498 churches are of 24 members or less, the CofE nationally is heading rapidly for a situation where a full-time workforce of 5,000 is running an institution designed for 3x that figure. The structural issues do beg the theological ones – what is the church for, what is mission etc. – but since nearly all the CofE leadership is academically educated and loves to debate theology, we’re far… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

The long game may well play into N.T. Wright’s hands, Jeremy. If the Conservatives lose the 2015 election badly, same-sex marriage will be scapegoated. To compete with UKIP the party could easily swing to the right and pledge to repeal equal marriage. Demographics also favor repeal. As noted by Stonewall’s research in schools, homophobia is endemic among the young. If the church pushes a traditional line in its own schools it’ll have millions of ready converts. HTB also has vast influence in the corridors of power. They’ve kept quiet about marriage equality so far, but if Wright rallies the troops,… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Dear Fr. Paul, Take heart, we are all equally loved in the eyes of God.

David Keen, What is the CofE doing about this dire structural problem? It seems to me that many dioceses are simply increasing the number of Archdeacons! I can’t quite see how promoting Reverends to Venerables will somehow solve the problem.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

James, I still think your scenario is extraordinarily unlikely. I know Tom Wright well personally, and while these are clearly his views now, he is not someone who is going to show the necessary overwhelming obsession nor the required degree of hysterical homophobia of, say, an Andrea Minchiello Williams, that would be necessary to lead an attempt to reverse what is a law that is approved by a majority of the population. Besides which, even if Cameron leads the Conservatives to defeat, he will be not be replaced by a government any less sympathetic to supporting and entrenching LGBT rights.… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I agree the chances of any repeal are non-existent. Firstly these sort of things don’t get repealed in the UK. Once decided by Parliament by convention there the matter rests. Second marriage equality has independently been voted by the Scottish Parliament. Third the majorities in favour of marriage equality were 2/3 in both chambers. And, apart from the fact that Labour and LibDems fully support marriage equality it is also supported by the majority of the Tory front bench – the Tories will not want the issue resurrecting.

John
Guest
John

I agree with Jeremy P that there’s no chance whatsoever of equal marriage being repealed: certain reforms (like certain arguments) are so obviously good that they ‘stick’. As for Wright, he nearly always argues as a biblical fundamentalist (I suppose his support of WO might be considered an exception). But I wonder, James, how your postings here square with your oft-repeated contention that he is ‘sincere’ in his ‘anti-gay’ stance? For me, he’s mostly motivated (a) by desire for power and (b) fideistic anxiety. Many Evangelicals are so motivated, but with most (b) comes first and (a) is consequent (other… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I was sometimes bemused when I was ordained 40 years ago to hear more senior clergy debating “What is the Church for?”. Four decades later David Keen is asking the same question. One rarely hears employees of, say, Energy Companies, players on football teams, or doctors and chaplains in the NHS asking what they are “for”. I respectfully suggest that someone who doesn’t know what the Church of England and its structures are “for” shouldn’t have joined it.

sjh
Guest
sjh

Interesting that Wright asserts the importance of binary. I have often thought evangelical theology too dualist whereas mystical theology is unitary.

John
Guest
John

I also think we should all here be engaging with David Keen’s reflections. The figures are indeed frightening.

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

FrDavidH: there are lively debates going on at the moment over what schools and the NHS are ‘for’, any institution that doesn’t remind itself of its basic purpose and values is on the way to becoming a mausoleum. The Church of England hasn’t asked the question hard enough, we have confused form with content and ended up with a top-heavy and increasingly unworkable structure. The CofE is not ‘for’ a daily/weekly eucharist, led by a priest (theological graduate), in a consecrated building, within a parish boundary. None of these things is essential to the nature of the church, but we’re… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

Wright is consistently off message, which is great for those who believe in equality and the dignity of the human person. One should leave him to his difficulties. Jurgen Moltmann, who has not embraced full equality for same-sex couples, nevertheless has said that the idea that sex-discordant couples are better than same-sex couples is heresy. It goes against justification by faith alone. Likewise, imposing celibacy on one category of person goes against the Reformed theology. What is it about the C of E that it elevates homophobia and misogyny to dogma? Good works and self-righteousness do not make a good… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

I would suggest to David Keen that schools exist to educate children and the NHS exists to meet people’s medical needs. I see no problem in debating how such organisations are efficiently structured, which is not the same as arguing what they are “for”. I cannot agree with David’s assertion that a priest celebrating the Eucharist is not essential to the nature of the Church. If the mass is not essential, what on earth is? Messy Church? The Mothers Union? The Church Fete?

Tobias Haller
Guest

Legislation does not change language, except on the forms the government issues. All around the world, people now tick the same box next to the same word for “married,” in whatever language it is expressed, whether they form a same- or a mixed-sex couple. This is what marriage equality means in a legal context, and the language used in law and society reflects that equality. The number of places in which this is true has been increasing, and I see no signs of reversal, though the pace may slow or halt at some point.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Craig & Jeremy, I agree that repeal’s unlikely, but it’s far from impossible. If Labour get elected & get the blame for more cuts, a right wing Conservative Party could replace them come 2020. This is obviously speculative in the extreme, but I do believe it’s a possibility. Even if there is a convention (and I’m not sure which one would apply), Parliament breaks them all the time. John, I guess we disagree about the primacy of fideistic anxiety (great phrase!) in Wright. He’s said he’s always believed in God and Christ, and knew he’d be ordained as a boy.… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Culture does lots of things with words. The christian community can follow those changes.

Equally, christian communities will continue to bring together separated genders, so Genesis, into the sacrament of marraige as Christ deferred to that in Matthew 19 and at Cana in Galilee.

This will remain the understanding–thick description–of Christian marraige. Others will now use the word to refer to same sex couples in the light of cultural and legal OK in certain sections of the West.

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

cseitz and NT Wright: Please be aware that you don’t speak for all Christians, any more than I do. Quakers, Unitarians, and some Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, UCC…. all accept a theology of equal marriage, grounded in their respective Reformation theologies.

For the Quaker theology, see http://www.quaker.org.uk/sites/default/files/We-are-but-witnesses.pdf

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Not speaking for all who call themselves Christians; or secular culture favouring ss marriage, was precisely the point. Please re-read.

Iain mclean
Guest
Iain mclean

Cseitz: I think I read correctly the last time. Your 2nd last sentence at 01.07 am bst purports to speak for me ( if you think Quakers are Christian.) Please don’t.. And if you think those I listed in my last are not Christian, feel free to say so.

John
Guest
John

James, To be be fair to T Wright (did I write that?), he himself has never concealed his belief that academic research into the NT and Christian belief/practice go hand in hand. That presumably is also the view of the academically distinguished cseitz of these columns. My own experience as an academic in a different discipline in several different university contexts is that NT (and related) departments aren’t terribly highly rated by the other departments. As an academic who sometimes now also dips his toe into NT contexts and regularly attends high-powered NT seminars, I find that most NT scholars… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

David Keen’s 8 points were originally written for the Methodist Church in GB. In that context, it is worth pointing out that few Churches in the Christian world have been as ruthless and unsentimental about closing places of worship, and few have seen a decline quite as precipitous. Whatever ‘the answer’ is (and I very much doubt there’s one) I don’t believe the evidence, including that emerging from the Church Growth Research Programme, supports the idea that closing churches without good reason, or on a large scale, is a good idea. That having been said, he is right to point… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

cseitz: “thick” and “thin” are just as patronising and insulting descriptors as “right” and “wrong”. The notion that heterosexuals marrying have access to some kind of “thicker” reality denied to same-sex couples may make a kind of ideological sense to you – but it has to do so in the face of the “stunning quality” (the ABC’s description) of some gay relationships. I am not arguing for the necessary “thickness” of all same-sex marriages, nor indeed that marriage needs rescuing from heterosexual Christians whose divorce rate is greater than the rest of the population, and where domestic cruelty and violence… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thank you Tobias. Your words are balm for an aching soul…

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I will never forget the summer back in the 1990s when I decided to spend an hour each day reading through N.T. Wright’s ‘The New Testament and the People of God’ and ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’. To say that that that summer revolutionized my understanding of the gospels would be an understatement. His description of ‘First Century Judaisms’ alone was worth the price of the two books for me. I’ve read my share of scholars but I’m no scholar myself, so I certainly don’t feel qualified to evaluate Wright’s scholarship. I do know that he help this old… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

With ya on Wright’s honesty, John: he not only admits his bias, he embraces it as a virtue.

Fitting evidence to your beliefs is incompatible with critical scholarship. Hard as it would be, if people like Wright are unwilling to even attempt impartiality, they should be failed at an early stage. Colleges bounded by statements of faith ought to be denied accreditation for the same reason.

Wright’s talents are obvious, but if I read, say, E.P. Sanders, I can be sure that he isn’t inserting his beliefs into the mouths of Jesus and Paul.

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

“I cannot agree with David’s assertion that a priest celebrating the Eucharist is not essential to the nature of the Church. If the mass is not essential, what on earth is?” Mission is far more essential to the nature of the church than a priest celebrating the eucharist. Jesus didn’t say ‘go into all the world and ordain people to pray over bread and wine’. The CofE, out of self-preservation as much as anything, is finally waking up to the fact that Jesus sent the apostles into the world to make disciples, and that perhaps we should be doing that… Read more »

The Rev'd Mervyn Noote
Guest

NT Wright’s recent popular “Revelation for Everyone” (written, of course, by Tom Wright) claims the Letter to Thyatira is a heartfelt cry against same-sex marriage. Given that the main market for his popular books is the less mad end of American Evangelicalism and they were up in arms against gay marriage at the time, let the reader understand. I also bet he’ll be a born again convert to the virtues of same-sex relationships once the potential market for his books has made the same switch, which is currently happening quickly. There is about as much chance of gay marriage being… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

“Jesus didn’t say ‘go into all the world and ordain people to pray over bread and wine’.”

Jesus spent a significant amount of his mission breaking bread and being present with his disciples and ‘enquirers’. There should be no discontinuity, I suggest, between (on the one hand) us continuing to break bread and experience his presence, and (on the other) our mission to the world.

This is the main theme of the new sister blog http://thinkinganglicans.org.uk/liturgy

Father David
Guest
Father David

What is the Church for? Surely “to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.”

Simon Kershaw
Admin

As for the football comment, this TA editor thinks that awareness of what the world is interested in ‘outside Church’, preferably without belittling it, is a helpful trait in presenting the Church and the gospel message to the world. An awful lot more people will watch the England games (and other World Cup matches) than will be in Church on Sunday.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Equal marriage was repealed by referenda in California and Maine, two states of the union that are generally more liberal than England and Wales. Most people are indifferent. Just a decade or so back, they were indifferent about the ban on gay people in the British military, Section 28, and the remnants of the Labouchere amendment. In the late-seventies, establishment liberals were complacent about the inevitable spread of acceptance in the church. If you’d predicted that, in 2014, its gay members would be a marginalized and silenced scapegoat, condemned overwhelmingly by synod, and forced to suppress their sexuality for life,… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Interesting responses to David Keen’s remarks about the Eucharist (much truer and better term than ‘the Mass’). Simon K must be right. One of the most striking features of many ‘Biblically-faithful’ churches is their completely un-biblical neglect of the foundational Christian service, amounting in many cases to a celebration only once a month, if that.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“amounting in many cases to a celebration only once a month, if that.”

Whereas we know that Jesus faithfully did it every Sabbath?

NJ
Guest
NJ

James Byron, Fitting evidence to existing beliefs is exactly what “critical scholarship” does. I’m not a scientist, but I guess if you gave Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins, or John Polkinghorne and Stephen Hawking, the same evidence, they might give you very different answers to some questions. I am a historian and historians constantly fit evidence to their existing theories. There are all sorts of reasons to advance or defend particular ideas: the need to say something new for a PhD, pride at not wanting your previous theory proved wrong, wanting a view of the past which justifies a present… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Jesus wasn’t a Christian, Erika.