Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – Holy Saturday: 26 March 2016

Guy Elsmore Modern Church Can liberals embrace the Growth Agenda? Part 1 of 3

Andrew Lightbown Disability & Easter – thoughts prompted by a Govt. Minister

Daniel Bond Politics Home Justin Welby: “The EU debate is not all about us. It’s about our vision for the world.”

Ysenda Maxtone Graham The Spectator The price of a cathedral – and how deans pay it

Linda Woodhead and Lucy Winkett Prospect The Duel: Should the Church of England be disestablished?

Clerk of Oxford ‘This doubtful day of feast or fast’: Good Friday and the Annunciation

The Salisbury diocesan website reports Bishop Sceptical on Fixed Easter with reference to the Bishop of Salisbury’s Chrism Mass Sermon, Maundy Thursday 2016.

The Anglican Communion News Service has compiled a number of Easter Messages from Anglican primates.

Phil Groves Anglican Communion News Service How do you stop terrorism?

Fiona Gibson Ship of Fools Judging by numbers

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James Byron
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James Byron

The “duel” on the separation of church and state shows the crisis of liberalism in the CoE: Winkett, probably the most famous “liberal” in the English priesthood, defends the establishment of religion; and worse, adduced the church’s scaremongering over assisted suicide in its defense.

Even the tiny, marginalized rump of Modern Church is headed up by Woodhead, who doesn’t appear to know what “secularism” means (she says she opposes it; then defends the separation of church and state!).

Still, Easter’s the time for resurrection: boy, does liberalism need one.

David Marshall
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David Marshall

A fairly critical problem for Modern Church is that it promotes liberalism, when no-one ever sets out to be liberal; it’s something we are or become (or not). Without a positive alternative to conservative orthodoxy, remaining dogmatically open to some change or other that might or might not be round the corner is pointless.

The challenge for liberals is not to argue for being liberal (or open or inclusive) but to offer practical liberal alternatives. I doubt disestablishment will help with that.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks so much for the link to the article by The Clerk of Oxford (This Doubtful Day of Feast or Fast). The article is jammed packed with erudition. The Christian art work referenced is very moving–simply excellent. As a perhaps pedestrian and programmatic aside, the last several years I was in parish ministry, I requested and received from the bishop permission to use the propers for The Annunciation (RCL) on Mothering Sunday. The transfer to that particular Sunday in Lent fit in very nicely with supporting the ministry of the parish chapter of Mothers Union. As The Clerk’s article reminds,… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

David, maybe it won’t, but any liberal worth the name would demand disestablishment for its own sake. Liberalism’s an Enlightenment project, a crucial component of which is opposition to the confessional state. Liberalism was born in opposition to the toxic mix of state and religious power, and if Winkett supports soft theocracy, she’s against one of its core tenets. That points to what you rightly say is liberal Christianity’s great weakness: its lack of positive beliefs. Or rather, its failure to articulate the beliefs it has: namely, anti-authoritarianism, rooted in opposition to dogma and the obscurantism of priestcraft. That Winkett… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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James Byron, your phrase ‘the toxic mix of state and religious power’ is exactly why this evangelical is right with you in wanting to see disestablishment.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Scratch a CoE “liberal,” and all too often, it seems, “radical orthodoxy” rears its head.”

Posted by: James Byron

Many ‘liberals’ in the Anglican Communion actually do embrace quite ‘orthodox’ beliefs. Especially when those beliefs concur with the liberality of the inclusivity of Jesus in the Gospels.

Father David
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Father David

I’m all for a fixed date for Easter and would opt for the Second Sunday in April. After an exhausting but highly spiritually fulfilling Holy Week and Easter Day I recall that earlier this year I hardly had time to draw breath after Christmas and Epiphany before Ash Wednesday and Lent were upon us. A fixed date for Easter in April would avoid having a clash between the Annunciation and Good Friday as this year they both fell on March 25th, although I see that in the 2016 Lectionary Gabriel doesn’t appear to the Blessed Virgin Mary until 4th April… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

I am sorry to read that the ever controversial Bishop of Salisbury is out of communion with the Primate of All England when it comes to a fixed date for Easter. Harry Hill in his programme TV Burp in his quest to resolve disputes used to say “There’s only one way to sort this out – FIGHT!” But perhaps a more rational and pacific way forward may be sought? Apparently, according to the Biblical evidence there are only 5 possible dates on which the Crucifioxion could have taken place. These are:- April 11 – AD 27 April 7 – AD… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Another shout out for the remarkable piece by the Clerk of Oxford. Those captivated by the piece might like to think further in the symbolism of the lily. A quick Google after reading the Clerk’s piece and it appears the lily was associated with death and womanhood for centuries before Christ. When Good Friday falls on the feast of the Annunciation we can see how the symbolism is combined to make the lily a symbol of resurrection. I now understand for the first time why lilies are associated with Easter and just beginning to understand why Christmas falls on the… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“That points to what you rightly say is liberal Christianity’s great weakness: its lack of positive beliefs.” – James Byron

If one sees in liberalism an opportunity for God to inspire new revelations, the PRESENT lack of focus in liberalism can be seen as something amazing rather than a weakness.

John Bunyan
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John Bunyan

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (like John Donne) wrote a poem about the coinciding of Good Friday and Lady Day. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer does not move the latter (nor do the Orthodox as far as I understand), March 25th, a “Quarter Day”, being associated with the traditional equinox and, most notably, nine months before the festival of Christmas – associations lost by those who move it.

John Thorp
Guest

I suspect that the proposal to fix the date of Easter may be a really cunning strategic move by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Christians have always been given to intense squabbles over matters of the calendar; we think of the Synod of Whitby, but it goes back much further, even to Polycarp and Anicetus in the second century. Might the ABC be thinking that, if he could get a really good calendar tiff going, it would divert attention from the gay marriage tiff? It might well, but the danger is schism: we could find ourselves with Old Calendar Anglicans out… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Many ‘liberals’ in the Anglican Communion actually do embrace quite ‘orthodox’ beliefs. Especially when those beliefs concur with the liberality of the inclusivity of Jesus in the Gospels.”

Amen, Father Ron.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“That points to what you rightly say is liberal Christianity’s great weakness: its lack of positive beliefs.” – James Byron

I find this incomprehensible: the liberal Christians I know are in constant self-examination how to be more inclusive of all who come to the table, and search for ways to talk to and respect those who don’t. They, in short, labor to do the hard work of loving all God’s children. If that is not positive, I do not know what is.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Father Ron, Classicists have provided a withering critique of so called “Radical Orthodoxy”. (See, Deconstructing Radical Orthodoxy:Post Modern Theology, Rhetoric, and Truth. Edited by Wayne Hankey and Douglas Hedley. Ashgate. 2005.) Theologians continuing the legacy of Bernard Lonergan also provide a powerful critique of Radical Orthodoxy. In fact, I think, “down under” you could check out Australian Catholic University. “Radical Orthodoxy” enjoys a lot of unmerited hype but does not really fit in the liberal column. What is meant by liberalism? It is important to develop a convivial theology, one that continues to be characterized by aggiornamento, interested in… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Agreed, father Ron, which is why I’ve always said that inclusivity has to be expanded beyond social issues to theology. The last thing I want to see is a church in which all are welcome and equal regardless of gender or sexuality, but that demands adherence to supernatural thinking rooted in disproven ancient cosmology. This is exactly the kind of church I can see emerging from an “accepting evangelical” and “radical orthodox” alliance. Anyone who believes that the church should exclude the theology of Richard Holloway and John Shelby Spong (rooted in the work of Paul Tillich, Rudolf Bultmann and… Read more »

David Marshall
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David Marshall

Amen, James, as we have no like button here.

p
Guest
p

Father David:

Does your analysis include the many changes to the calendar since the first century? Are those dates according to the Julian or Gregorian calendar?

David Runcorn
Guest

So Ron and James – the ‘Liberal Tradition’ (which still needs more careful defining here) is characterised by a convivial inclusivity of any and all viewpoints – except of course when considering evangelicals and their ‘theology’ (cough). At which point this welcoming, non-anxious tradition invariably starts to sound very anxious and dismissively intolerant.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Establishment and Disestablishment. When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt, it was not just a select few, but the whole nation… the young, the old, the good, the bad. True, not all completed the journey. But God’s initiative was for all the people, not on the basis of individual faith, but an open door (through the Red Sea) for all the people. In short, God’s faithfulness, not other people’s faith or righteousness, was what mattered at the point of deliverance. Now, these may or may not be historical facts, but the myth, symbolism and archetype speak strongly… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Nathaniel, I meant “positive” in the sense of assertion, rather than goodness, and was referring to underlying theology.

Liberals are good at questioning; but, on average, less good at clarity and assertion. Likely ’cause stating their beliefs plainly draws furious condemnation from more conservative believers. How many say, for example, “I don’t believe in miracles, including the virgin birth and physical resurrection, and here’s why …”? Not nearly enough.

Father David
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Father David

Dear p, I’ll have to pass on that one as to whether they used the Julian or the Gregorian calendar to calculate the April date of the Crucifixion, the Paper I gleaned the information from didn’t state which calendar was used, but I rather gather the given April dates coincide with our contemporary calendar. However, I think it may well be a more reliable guide than the contrived calculation which fixes the date of Christ’s Crucifixion to coincide with the date of the Lord’s Conception. The explanation given by the Clerk of Oxford is quite brilliant but highly dubious. Anyway,… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

James ” “I don’t believe in miracles, including the virgin birth and physical resurrection, and here’s why …”? Not nearly enough.” I think the problem is that it is very easy to formulate core beliefs but virtually impossible to come up with unified belief statements once individuals diverge from that small core into a thousand different directions. Also, the word “liberal” has come to mean “politically liberal” and “theologically liberal”, and the two are not the same. Conservative believers can approve of women priests and gay marriage without shifting any of their core beliefs about anything in the creeds. People… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

David Runcorn, I’ve never argued for a “convivial inclusivity of any and all viewpoints.” Who on earth does? That would oblige us to be convivial about racism, fascism, and people who think it’s okay to talk in the theater. (Who, as we all know, are going to the special hell. 😉 As you’re aware, I disagree with much of evangelicalism: at the same time, I’m not shy about praising its good points, such as its love for the Bible and its breadth and depth of biblical study, its distrust of ecclesiastical power, and its talents for organization and accessibility. I… Read more »

S Cooper
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S Cooper

The real question is why liberals want to be linked to views they totally reject as harmful….?

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree with Erika, that labels can’t always be taken too seriously. In the case of ‘liberal’ I prefer to apply it to a way of reading religious text in the context of those who wrote it – not as fundamental and infallible truth, but as the product of their own understandings, culture, limits, and encounters… fallible attempts to ‘make sense’ of things… subject to challenge. But it’s possible to talk, too, of liberal social values, liberal politics, liberal generosity, or even using liberal in the sense of ‘setting free’ in a revolutionary way. Most of us are more complex… Read more »

Paul Richardson
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Paul Richardson

“let us all agree to celebrate Easter Day on the nearest Sunday to April 14th each year. Problem solved.” I am afraid, Father David, it is not! Because the anniversary date of when the crucifixion/resurrection is not the only consideration. More important is the link between Good Friday/Easter and Passover. Christ’s death and resurrection are linked in the Gospels with the events of Passover/Exodus. The account of Jesus Transfiguration speaks of Christ’s coming Exodus. Just as the Jewish nation looked to the Exodus as their liberation from slavery, so the Christian community looks to the cross/empty tomb as the world’s… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I think we all have different meanings of the terms liberal and conservative. My own personal usage is that a conservative values tradition over Scripture and a liberal values our present, best and evolving understanding of Scripture (including acceptance of the miraculous) more than tradition and traditional interpretation.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Well, after the controversial debate over the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy it looks like we now have yet another disagreement to sort out – the dating of Easter. Dear knows how this one is going to be solved but unlike the women’s ordination debate which was unilaterally decided upon – surely something as important as the annual celebration of the Lord’s resurrection must be multilaterally agreed upon by all branches of Christ’s Body – the Church. But where do we start? Perhaps we could call a C of E Synod with the Bishop of Salisbury… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I totally agree with Paul Richardson. Easter and Passover are irrevocably linked and should not be dislocated from one another. Both are divinely-initiated acts of deliverance, communicating the spiritual reality of baptism – of going down into the jaws of death and rising to new life. Both refer to exodus. It is hard not to see the archetype, and (from a Christian perspective) the one pre-figuring the other. The texts were clearly written with this in mind. “I have a baptism to undergo” Jesus is reported as saying – “he was talking about his death.” In the language of archetype… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“let us all agree to celebrate Easter Day on the nearest Sunday to April 14th each year. Problem solved.”

Once it is accepted that the date of Easter is changeable as you suggest, then it is no longer a choice between a fixed date (which won’t always be a Sunday) and a moveable date but between two ways of determining the moveable date.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Father David:

Thanks for your further thoughts on the fixed date thing. (Yes, I’m “P”…I hit the enter button too quickly last time and didn’t notice it until too late.)

As someone else noted, the real issue is connecting Easter to Passover in my mind…which, granted, our current system quite often misses by quite a bit (as it does this year).

Perhaps we should change Easter to the Sunday during Passover? IOW, the Sunday after the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“the ‘Liberal Tradition’… is characterised by a convivial inclusivity of any and all viewpoints – except of course when considering evangelicals and their ‘theology’ (cough). At which point this welcoming, non-anxious tradition invariably starts to sound very anxious and dismissively intolerant.” Well, I can’t speak for all traditions. But here in TEC we actually do have a big tent that includes conservative parishes and evangelical (though the movement isn’t as big here as in England, and it means different things). For example, while our General Convention passed SSM, no parish or priest is required to marry anyone they don’t want… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

it is interesting to read the comments of those who keep writing about the vital connection which must be kept between the Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover. We celebrated Easter this year as early as March 27th and if I am not mistaken the Jews will this year celebrate the first day of Passover on April 23rd – St. George’s Day when I shall be remembering not only England Patron Saint but also celebrating my Mother-in-law’s 98th birthday. Call me old fashioned but I don’t observe much of a vital connection between two dates virtually a whole month apart!… Read more »

Chris A
Guest
Chris A

More numerology nonsense from Clerk of OXford. 27th March is not all that rare a date for Easter; last happened only 11 years ago. And with 35 dates to choose from any particular date will only ever occur a handful of times each century.

Now do any of you know the most common date for Easter?

Chris A
Guest
Chris A

In any event the fixed date of Easter will not be the second Sunday in April but is fixed by the Easter Act 1928 as the day after the second Saturday in April.

Chris H.
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Chris H.

Cynthia, if you take a look back at comments on this site and others like Episcopal Cafe, you will see lots of comments from “liberals” saying anyone who doesn’t agree with them about gay marriage, or women priests, or several other controversies, cannot possibly be a Christian, or are barely human at times. It’s not just conservatives “not getting their way”.

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

Isn’t it nice to remember that the date of Easter, and any changes, are almost entirely outside the remit of the Church of England. I say almost only because when the Church of Rame takes a lead and convinces the Lutherans, the reformed churches and all the pentecostal groups to follow it, the Church of England will be one small part of an Anglican communion which will be invited to go along as well.

John

Stephen King
Guest
Stephen King

Speaking as an NHS accountant, the one date when I don’t want Easter to fall is 31 March!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

A good Catholic/Evangelical Sermon by + Salisbury.
Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Father David
Guest
Father David

The most common date for Easter – April 19th – which is near as damn it to Justin Welby’s preferred date for a fixed Easter – i.e. – the Second Sunday In April or, if we follow the Easter Act of 1928, as highlighted by Chris – the day after the Second Saturday in April which would be fine by me. However, let us never forget that every Sunday is, in fact, “A little Easter”

Kate
Guest
Kate

“More numerology nonsense from Clerk of OXford”

It is terribly unfashionable to admit it, but numerology is rather prominent in the Bible.

Anne
Guest
Anne

It might be fruitful to ask why Passover is celebrated when it is, since no one can know when the Israelites escaped from Egypt. My understanding is that it was originally an agricultural feast, an early spring festival, onto which a religious meaning was grafted, just as Shavuot was the feast of the first fruits which later had the celebration of the giving of the law at Sinai added. In other words it followed the pattern of celebration determined by the natural calendar people already followed. It was a good time to celebrate, both because celebration was in the air… Read more »

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

At present, many people, especially children, are away for the secular Easter break and end up not observing Easter at all. If we want to encourage and facilitate church attendance at Easter we should arrange for a fixed secular Spring holiday but keep Easter as at present. That way, most years, the two won’t coincide…

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Cynthia, if you take a look back at comments on this site and others like Episcopal Cafe, you will see lots of comments from “liberals” saying anyone who doesn’t agree with them about gay marriage, or women priests, or several other controversies, cannot possibly be a Christian, or are barely human at times. It’s not just conservatives “not getting their way”.” Chris, I’ve been reading Episcopal Cafe for quite awhile and I’ve not seen that sort of rhetoric. In it’s “about” section, they make it clear that it is a progressive blog. What I see are conservatives bashing the very… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

Yes, Father Ron, it is a good sermon by the Bishop of Salisbury. I might have missed reading it but for your comment.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Anne makes a good point when she reminds us of the Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon Britain in the 7th century. Bede tells us that the early Chrustian missionaries were encouraged not to disparage the pagan practices and images but to build upon them with Christian practices and images, that is why on many Celtic crosses a Biblical scene surmounts a pagan symbol. However, this Easter I am wondering if that process has been reversed? It is reported that there has been a great increase in the number of Easter cards being sent, Easter trees are gaining in popularity and the Easter… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“I think that conservatives do not realize how hurtful their exclusive words are, and the damage that it does to real people.” Some, maybe Cynthia, but any conservative who’s discussed it with an LGBT person must know: on multiple occasions, it’s been explained to them in excruciating detail. They simply believe that God’s commanded them to oppose all sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage, whatever the cost. That’s not, in itself, wrong. We all support policies that damage people, whether it’s prisons, or mass automobile ownership, so although I disagree strongly with conservatives, I don’t believe they’re bad people. Just horribly… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

One might also turn things around and say that “conservatives” respect and value sticking to your values and standing by your words . . . except when it comes to giving way to them, then they want inclusivity and relativism.