Thinking Anglicans

opinion

Ian Paul responds to the article by Linda Woodhead that I linked to last week: Who is ducking what in the C of E?

Justin Welby has blogged On tweeting and touching and preached this homily at Trinity Wall Street, New York.
Andrew Brown of The Guardian responds with this: Justin Welby’s Twitter sermon sounds like a plea for ecclesiastical discipline.

Angela Tilby Church Times Dissing the D-word

Giles Fraser The Guardian Even atheists such as Stephen Fry have Downton-esque nostalgia for the C of E

Graham Kings Fulcrum English Monk Who Encouraged the Ministry of Women. Also published in The Times (£).

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Archbishop Welby’s “Tweeting and Touching” blog, mixes and stirs together things that ought to be separated out and clarified. He is likely correct if he is talking about inter-personal conflict, or what one might call church conflict that has become personal. Social media is an ineffective remedy likely to make things worse. Welby gives the impression that folks become broken and dismembered as a result of social media. Sadly, it is also true that folks who have an inability to deal with conflict in person, often take to working their issues through using social media, much like the toxic office… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

“that pernicious self-supporting symbiosis of church and state.” Spot on, Giles Fraser! A few years back, I read a book called “Constantine’s Sword”. The book’s title came from the legend that Constantine, after having his vision of the cross, had all of his troops baptized under a cross fashioned from a sword as the vertical bar and a piece of wood as a cross bar. The book itself is somewhat of a muddle, but the author seizes on that imagery. Merger of Church and State, Church blessing of the military power of the state. The State backing and upholding the… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

Justin Welby’s post on “tweeting and touching” is mostly correct, I think. Conflict is always better resolved between the two (or more) people involved, in a face-to-face meeting. This method beats social media therapy any day. Having said that, social media is a way to communicate openly that is not always possible in a church setting. The hierarchies, committees, the ‘usual suspects’ who volunteer for everything, can crowd out those who are different. Keeping in mind the limitations of social media, and a sense of humour about it all, can save a few trips to the (real-life) therapist!

David Gibson
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David Gibson

Three cheers (and more) for Angela Tilby. She’s shot the fox of those deeply un-Anglican influences which are the preferred quick-fix solution of the men in suits. It’s also about time some bishops followed her example and started putting their heads above the parapet. What on earth is the point of people like Graham James, John Inge, David Walker, Chris Chessun, Nick Holtam, Robert Atwell and Martin Warner etc if they are going to allow us to sleep-walk into this HTB-centred world of formulaic solutions and success in numbers? It really is quite myopic and mindless.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“However, if one is talking about genuine controversies in the church, the ones about which people are passionate, the ones which impact their faith in the institution, then let everyone take their soap box into the park.” Precisely. And well put, Rod Gillis. I too thought that the Archbishop’s words could be read as a plea for less public criticism of himself. Which struck me as quite wrong, both for the Archbishop personally and for the institutions that he leads. An Archbishop should welcome constructive criticism. Unless he tolerates dissent quite well, he might not receive much constructive criticism from… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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It stands to reason that those who comment regularly on websites like Thinking Anglicans will be people who are comfortable with social media communication, so we need to acknowledge we may have a built-in resistance to what Archbishop Welby is saying. I did not read his remarks as saying that there should be no constructive criticism through social media. And I for one am very grateful for the way it makes communication and dissemination of news very easy. It is, however, also potentially very dangerous. Most of us here have probably at one time or another gotten involved in online… Read more »

John
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John

In church contexts I often find I wake up with unexpected bed-fellows. Thus here I think Ian Paul almost 100% right as against Linda Woodhead and I think Angela Tilby almost completely wrong in her biblical exegesis – and this from a Diocesan Canon of a major English cathedral. Has she never read ‘Matthew’? Doesn’t she know that we are all supposed to be apostles (end ‘Acts’)? It’s deplorable.

Noel
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Noel

“Three cheers (and more) for Angela Tilby”?
Why? – in her article she seems more concerned with Anglicanism than the Great Commission from Jesus to go and make disciples – or am I attaching too much significance to his words?

Jeremy
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Jeremy

If the Archbishop was careless with language, and did not say in his blog what he really intended, then perhaps the shoe is on the other foot.

Father Ron Smith
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What might just accord with Angela’s problem with the term ‘discipleship’, is when it is not conducted in the ethos of the statement of Jesus as qualifier: “They will know you’re my disciples by your love”.
So often the motive behind inducement to become a disciple can perceived to be judgemental, rather than loving.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

After several readings of Angela Tilby’s article I am left wondering what point she is really making about the word ‘discipleship’. It is not American influences that explain the word in Matthew 28. If the problem is that ‘evangelicals’ use it – well they use the Bible too and much else – just what lengths are we prepared to go to avoid being associated with them? If she and others would prefer another word, fine – what do they suggest? But if the argument is that the word is not Anglican the question is ‘why not’? And if true it… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

On Tilby, I am of one mind with David Runcorn and he comes to a very thoughtful and challenging conclusion.

I read Ian Paul’s stuff because I feel I must. I gave up on this piece when he raised the matter of Linda Woodhead’s doctorate. There is something about that small group of Fulcrum scholars that……. well, if I were Ann Widdecombe talking about a prospective leader back in ’97 ………

I enjoyed Giles’ piece, I would have liked to have been there. I sometimes think that TA is a bit Downtonesque in the way it covers Church affairs!

Tim Chesterton
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Bravo Giles Fraser (and I don’t say that very often)! I particularly liked the line ‘This is the great heresy of an established church – it ends up forgetting who the boss is.’.

Simon R
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Simon R

After reading Angela Tilby’s piece in the Church Times, I reached for my copy of Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness (OUP 2001) that monumental philokalia in which Geoffrey Rowell, Rowan Williams and Kenneth Stevenson brought together those key personalities and their writings which have shaped the Anglican character. Here reductionist puritans sit side-by-side with high church sacramentalists, sociologically-focussed liberals with conservative quietists. When I read the words of Evangelical divines like Nicholas Ridley, Robert Leighton and Edwin Sandys, Henry Venn and Charles Simeon, or Max Warren, John V Taylor and David Watson, not only could I not… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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It’s not a particular mystery why Christendom traditions like Anglicanism (evangelical or otherwise) have not historically paid a lot of attention to discipleship: in Christendom, it was assumed that the culture would form disciples for you. Nowadays, we’re slowly waking up to the fact that this idea doesn’t work so well any more. But our tradition might not have much to offer us to address the deficiency, because of its Christendom DNA. Also, evangelical or not, a lot of us are coming to the conclusion that the presence of a community of followers of Jesus who are doing their best… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Simon R Thank you for your Anglican word search. But the focus here does remain on what we are ‘not’ – evangelical, Americans, narrow, packaged etc. What if our response (and Angela Tilby’s) was to say at this point – we understand the word ‘discipleship’ but for a variety of thoughtful and theological reasons we don’t use it. We prefer the word ……. for these reasons ……. Can anyone fill in the blanks here? What word do we claim to be authentically Anglican that sums up our calling to be a church being led and leading others into radical conversion… Read more »

Simon R
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Simon R

@David Runcorn is entitled to dismiss my point as a word-search. But he fails to engage with the reality that the Evangelical divines I cite were steeped in the language and thought of the patristic period. The supreme example, I suppose, were the Wesley brothers. Radical conversion of life as exemplified by these (and other) personalities of Evangelical Anglicanism seem to suggest that they knew the rock from whence they were hewn. But more vitally, if I have read Angela Tilby’s piece correctly, she IS saying that the word has become hi-jacked to mean formulaic, American, narrow and packaged. The… Read more »

William Richards
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William Richards

Quite so @Simon R. What I read into the proposals for discipleship coming before GS is an attempt to make a virtue of a particular kind of Protestant activism, which has one eye on profit margins and market share; and another on seeing off the competition. This is also present, much more implicitly, in the formation for ministry report. This may be the last thing the authors of the report intended; but they’ve done well in convincing us that this is what they might mean. Anglicanism is much more rooted than this. It is refreshing to have some biblical exegesis… Read more »

Mark Hart
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Mark Hart

David, How about the word “Christian” as a description of what we are called to be? The problem with focusing on a more specific concept is that it narrows down all that “Christian” should embrace. I think Angela Tilby goes a bit far, but I can understand why she felt that she had to. By itself, “discipleship” describes only the model of teacher/follower. It conveys nothing of the freedom of being Christian – sharing in the divine life, being in Christ, life in the Spirit, standing where Christ’s stands (not just following), etc. If “discipleship” is “made to do so… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Simon I was in no way was dismissing what you wrote. I am dismayed and puzzled you think I have. And I accept your findings just as I treasure the book itself. And thank you for filling out your concerns over the word in question. But my following question was completely genuine too and I would still invite you and others to try and answer it. We need to be defining our task as a positive – saying more than we are not like ‘them’. Names and labels can work for good or ill. I see no need to sweep… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

I do not associate anything manipulative in discipleship …. as to control, well, I have met some pretty controlling clergy and more than a few of them were bishops who assured me that this was their role! The command to go and make disciples of all nations left a pretty firm impression on me as a teenager, and it has been a welcome friend and partner for four decades and more. In my own case the Holy Sonnets are something close to my discipleship journey and Batter my heart three person God touches most of the buttons! BUT! I do… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Mark – is ‘Christian’ really any more problematic in practice? The more important the issues the more the words we have for them attract serious allergies. But we need more robust immune systems not quarantine.
And why go searching for a bad example of committed giving? Isn’t Ian’s point basically sound? Why not point up examples of the generous poor as Jesus did?

Meanwhile, I’m hitching my wagon to yours Martin!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In all of these arguments about the word discipleship – and its connection with the go-go activism implicit in the upcoming G.S. discussion about evangelism – one wonders where the place of prayer, meditation and sacramental participation, might be placed within the program – when it seems that aggressive touting for scalps is preferred? To follow Christ means BOTH prayer and action – no more of one than the other.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Father Ron I simply don’t accept that what the CofE is now proposing is so hopelessly and crudely one-sided and frenetic. I do not think faithful urgency is the same as activist.
The challenge might at least be issued both ways. I can think of of churches that are devout in prayer and the sacraments but which are inward looking, dwindling in size, lacking vision, impetus or confidence to take their faith into the community. How would you express the challenge to them?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch’ (Achs 11:26)

Sounds to me as if Christian is just another word for disciple.