Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 1 April 2017

Bosco Peters Liturgy Pope Francis to make Martin Luther a Saint on October 31

ABC Religion and Ethics published this piece by Michael Collett God and the problem of sincere disbelief followed by this reply from Michael Jensen Sincerity is not enough: the problem with the problem of sincere disbelief.

Archbishop Cranmer Women bishops: the desperate and disingenuous distinction in the Five Guiding Principles

Rhian Taylor pcn britain It’s a Man’s Church

Sam Charles Norton Elizaphanian Let my people go

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Oxford, Sheffield, Llandaff etc

Mark Hart Church Times The C of E’s unsung success story

David Ison ViaMedia.News The Power of Feeling over Thinking

James Jones The Yorkshire Post House of God opens a door to the divine

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love How do we come into the presence of God?
and Prayer and the body

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Susannah Clark
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Although Colin is perhaps a little tough on the priest who starts their service by encouraging people to ‘come into the presence of God’, it is nonetheless an interesting article. For a start, I’m reminded of Augustine’s point: that God always resides in the innermost place of our souls, but too often, we don’t. God is within, but very often, we are without. Secondly, I believe that God draws people into awareness and Presence in a multiplicity of ways. These may vary, depending on temperament and tradition (and, of course, the will of God). But very often, the initiative is… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Whilst I have some sympathy with Sam Charles Norton’s suggestion that ‘unity’ has become a shibboleth that is preventing us from addressing questions that are arguably more pressing (and perhaps rather less tedious) than that of ecclesial order, I am somewhat apprehensive about his suggestion that, if FiF and conservative evangelical parishes are allowed (indeed encouraged) to secede, they should be granted title to the property they currently occupy, almost as if this were a routine matrimonial matter. In many instances that property was created/endowed by the community of the past for use by the future community as a whole,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Sam Charles Norton’s suggestion that FIF and conservative evangelical parishes might be allowed to go and take their property with them is superficially very attractive. For many of us it would mean that we could put the divisions behind us and get on with building the kingdom here without the hindrance of those whose vision is more exclusive and excluding than ours. The problem is that it would also mean abandoning a great many people who do not want to go. Allowing a PCC resolution or some other process to effect the process fixes at a moment in time what… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Rhian Taylor’s observation about the Sheffield fiasco i.e. the level of empathy for one man’s situation is so much stronger than the level of empathy for the many women is certainly correct. Taylor is correct about silencing women when she writes: “The narrative that we should be more tolerant is a very effective tool for reducing dissent, particularly when used with women.” What could change things? Ordaining women as priests and deacons is vital, but not nearly enough. There needs to be greater liturgical expression of the fruits of recent feminist and non-sexist scholarship. What may help is overcoming the… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

It’s worth pointing out that the possession of a large number of churches, many of them listed, is killing the CofE. So if the price of getting rid of some conservative outliers who make the church look mad is that they also take on the responsibility for buildings the CofE cannot afford to maintain, one could say “what’s not to like?”

rjb
Guest
rjb

A very, very interesting piece from Michael Collett, and – I fear – a rather inadequate response from Michael Jensen, who starts off by getting Nietzsche wrong (a particular bugbear of mine!) and goes steadily downhill from there. I think Collett’s points – which are in essence similar to what philosophers of religion know as the argument from reasonable non-belief – strike me as very serious and worthy of serious consideration. They need a more thoughtful theological (and perhaps philosophical, and certainly pastoral) answer than I think Michael Jensen is willing to give.

rjb
Guest
rjb

I had not intended to respond to Rhian Taylor’s piece, but Michael Jensen’s throwaway remark about Nietzsche has got me thinking. Pace Jensen, Nietzsche is not completely hostile to the emotional state of sympathy or compassion. As Michael Frazer has observed, Nietzsche’s attitude to compassion is much more complex than is often believed – Nietzsche thinks it is essential for imaginative creativity, but rejects its elevation in Christianity to a sole and supreme virtue that must be celebrated above all other human faculties. I thought of this again while reading Rhian Taylor’s empathetic tennis match with the partisans of Bishop… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re; rjb, “…Nor are accusations of sexism very helpful, because the supporters of Bishop Philip do not see themselves as sexist…” Denial works well, no?

“When it becomes a weapon to be wielded against its enemies, empathy can be really ugly.” Except, now you would be referring not to empathy, but to a lack of empathy. Unlike piety, genuine empathy cannot, be definition, be weaponized; but it can lead to solidarity, something very much lacking in the institutional church with regard to people it oppresses and marginalizes–which seems to be an accurate take away from Taylor’s article.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘Denial works well, no?’

Pigeonholing appears to work well too. I’m grateful to RJB for not indulging in it.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

rjb writes:
“Nor are accusations of sexism very helpful, because the supporters of Bishop Philip do not see themselves as sexist”.

Well, of course they aren’t helpful. No one wants to be accused of being sexist. But the accusation may be true. I think it is. And I’m not full of lachrymose pity for the women – I just want them to be treated equally. I’m angry that we still make excuses for sexism, and seem happy to perpetuate injustice and inequality.

Fr Frank Nichols
Guest
Fr Frank Nichols

I find Interested Observer’s uncharitable comment very distressing. I was told by General Synod that my Catholic view of priestly orders is acceptable in our broad church – and by the way like most Catholics I accept the decisions of General Synod. Now I am told that I am “a conservative outlier who makes the Church look mad”. Well thanks for this – is it time to pack my bags? I did think I was welcome in the C of E – now I am not so sure.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

‘is it time to pack my bags? I did think I was welcome in the C of E – now I am not so sure.’ Fr. Frank Nichols, I’m not sure which of the several ‘Catholic views on priestly orders’ you hold. But I’m guessing that Interested Observer is not actually a member of the CofE, so don’t let him/her make you feel unwanted. The views of outsiders are valuable, because they help us see ourselves as other outsiders do. We are a national rather than a gathered church so that is essential to our mission. The prophets were outsiders… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Tim Chesterton, “Pigeonholing appears to work well too.” Except that the assessment that the church is sexist and patriarchal is not assigned arbitrarily nor is it simply “name calling”. Rather it is an outcome of thoughtful and detailed analysis, an analysis that is the result of rigorous theological reflection and historical investigation. The problem is not simply that conservatives are unconvinced that the church is patriarchal. The problem is that the institutional church does not see itself as sexist and patriarchal. Instead it develops politcal bafflegab like “mutual flourishing” as policy. Anyone who is an Anglican, like I am… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Please stop squabbling. We are a Church with diverse views. There is nothing wrong with desiring mutual flourishing. It upsets and disappoints me when a fellow Christian is called ‘sexist’ because they conscientiously believe in male priesthood. That is an accepted and welcomed position in the Church of England. Personally I believe in female priesthood as much as male priesthood. But that doesn’t absolve me from loving my kindred in Christ and respecting their path and their faith. We are all ‘outsiders’ except for the grace of God but, in union with Christ, we belong to the household and family… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Susannah Clark, “Please stop squabbling.There is nothing wrong with desiring mutual flourishing. It upsets and disappoints me when a fellow Christian is called ‘sexist’ because they conscientiously believe in male priesthood.” On these points I could not disagree with you more. Activism and social change it seeks are inherently upsetting; but it is always so when vested interests are challenged. The members of organizations like “The Society” hold what is an increasingly marginal minority view in the Church. However, that does not make them a persecuted minority. Their increasingly eccentric social views are simply a subset of what is… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Rod, I wasn’t trying to specifically critique you or any other individual here. We’re all capable of sinking to polemic and attritional discourse, and I can be as guilty of that as anyone else. There are posts I’ve submitted to Thinking Anglicans over the years that I regret in retrospect because they drifted towards impersonal politics rather than trying to see a rival-in-argument as a human being trying to explore faith in a different way to my own. I’m fearful that confrontational faction in the Church, amplified by the culture of the internet, risks driving the Church of England towards… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

«@ Susannah Clark, “Please stop squabbling.There is nothing wrong with desiring mutual flourishing. It upsets and disappoints me when a fellow Christian is called ‘sexist’ because they conscientiously believe in male priesthood.” «On these points I could not disagree with you more. Activism and social change it seeks are inherently upsetting; but it is always so when vested interests are challenged. » – Rod Gillis I am in full agreement with Rod. I disagree with the Society on many points, but I respect them for fighting for what they believe in. The Church isn’t for any of us: it is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Susannah Clark, “…amplified by the culture of the internet…” I agree with your concern, although I think “compression” rather than amplification is the more accurate analogy. Messaging is virtually instant, risks being an unfiltered extension of one’s nervous system, and the problems with interpretation of any message can be confounding. “Some faithful Christians among us (and in these threads) believe in a male priesthood along traditional catholic lines.” It is not simply a matter of one’s faith, or of personal sincerity, or altruism. In fact, casting it in those terms may actually increase the problems you may wish to… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Rod, I entirely agree with you that truth telling is important. I’m just not confident that my grasp of the truth is always correct.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I can’t think of a justice or inclusion movement that didn’t upset the status quo. Rhian Taylor gets it right, as does Rod Gillis. CoE may be trying to do the impossible with the “mutual flourishing” bit. As it is, the principles that the all-male bishops engineered over weighted the flourishing of the traditionalists and under weighted the flourishing of women and girls. Girls, in particular, actually need to be protected from the traditionalists. They are vulnerable and not yet equipped to make the kinds of choices that Susannah proposes, and those that rbj champions. There may be ways to… Read more »

John Holding
Guest
John Holding

Susannah — Your focus on the CofE is understandable, especially on this board which is basically for English Anglicans. But many of us Anglicans post from other countries, where some of your issues and concerns are no longer even discussed. Your response to Rod, for example, doesn’t take account of the fact that he is in Canada, where — for good or ill — your issues were settled decades ago. (not now to Susannah) It’s rather like all the posters on this and other threads who happily treat “the Anglican Communion” as if Canada, New Zealand, the US Episcopal Church,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Several thoughtful rejoinders (Susannah’s included), noting, directly or indirectly, the part one’s context, cultural and geographic, plays in terms of one’s perspective, one’s horizon. On the matter of the five principles, for example, I read about them from afar, follow the controversy via articles and comments; but I’m not in the C of E. I do try and remember that I don’t have access to the on the ground nuances that come from interpersonal interaction; I don’t have colleagues working in the parishes/dioceses impacted, don’t have an ear to the gossip (in the good sense), don’t have a direct investment… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

The Elizabethan Settlement on issues such as the nature of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, comprehending mutually contradictory positions, was possible because no windows into personal belief were needed, and the language of the liturgy was adequately ambiguous so as to cover diversity of opinion and belief. The problem with Order is that it is external and visible. Societies and factions are formed. Comprehension can no longer be sustained because the diversity of opinion has taken on flesh, and one has to be more or less public in response to the question of whether Jane Doe is a priest or… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thank you, John Holding, for lifting up those of us from other provinces who settled this issue decades ago.

My favorite is when traditionalists argue that WO and WB is an innovation because Rome and the Orthodox don’t do it, as if the many women supporting Anglican provinces don’t exist. Also as if Protestantism is irrelevant to Anglicanism. And the ABC acting as if we don’t exist… except when we cause him problems.

Puzzled
Guest
Puzzled

> The members of organizations like “The Society” hold what is an increasingly marginal minority view in the Church.

Surely not. There are around 2.4 billion Christians in the world, of whom 1.6 billion are either RC, Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox. Therefore only a third of the world’s Christians, at most, accept women as priests and bishops. Life would be easier for liberal Anglicans like me if it were otherwise, but those are the facts.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Puzzled, when I wrote that, “members of organizations like ‘The Society’ hold what is an increasingly marginal minority view in the Church”, I was thinking specifically and solely about about the debate under way here re the Church of England, women’s ordination, identity cards for true male believers, together with the issue in the wider sense as it pertains to other parts of the Communion like Canada where women priests and bishops are well established. However, since you mention the fact that,”…1.6 billion are either RC, Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox. Therefore only a third of the world’s Christians, at… Read more »

Puzzled
Guest
Puzzled

> My point stands. It depends on what “the Church” means to you. To me, it means the entire body of Christians throughout the world, and in that context it’s the liberal provinces of the Anglican Communion, together with other liberal Protestant churches, which look eccentric and bizarre! I wish it were not so. It would be wonderful if Rome and Orthodoxy were to embrace equal ministry. But Orthodoxy won’t, and Rome can’t. When my own province of the Anglican Communion chose to ordain women as priests and bishops I was therefore faced with the choice of remaining as a… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I find it really quite difficult to accept the terms ‘bizarre’ and ‘eccentric’ to describe sincere and faithful fellow Christians, serving God, and giving their lives in service to Christ and their communities. I don’t regard the belief in male priesthood as ‘bizarre’. As Puzzled has said, it’s actually pretty normal in much of Christendom. I’d simply call it traditional. Like Puzzled, I regard myself as catholic in many ways in my personal spirituality. But also like Puzzled, I long for reform within the Catholic Church, and specifically for full recognition of women’s priesthood and ministry. However, I also value… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Puzzled, “It depends on what “the Church” means to you.” No I don’t think it does. I think the issue is the relationship between a particular form of the institutional church and the particular culture within which that institution is set–both of which are phenomena available to objective analysis. As far as I can see views like those advanced by The Society appear marginal within the mainstream of Anglicanism in Canada, England, and so forth. Additionally, One can draw a distinction between what is predominant globally and what is normative. Patriarchy is dominant in all religions, Christianity included. However,… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Susannah Clark, “I have valued many of your posts over the years, Rod, and will continue to do so. However, the words ‘bizarre’ and ‘eccentric’ sit awkwardly with me.” Notwithstanding, I hold to them. There are many facets of churchland that appear bizarre and eccentric to those on the outside, those who have dropped out, and even to some of of us who continue to hang in. When we start issuing “identity cards” to male clergy to prove that they have not been tainted by the laying on of female hands, bizarre and eccentric seems a perfectly good way… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I spend a lot of time in the folk music community in the city of Edmonton. I’m thankful for this for many reasons, one of which is that I have a very realistic view of how the Christian church is seen amongst the non-Christian population. Please note, (a) my particular branch of that church is led by a bishop whose name is Jane, and in which (b) the predominant feeling is gay-friendly. also (c) Bishop Jane has a high profile on social justice causes in our city and co-chairs the mayor’s council for ending poverty. However, despite these supposedly mitigating… Read more »

Puzzled
Guest
Puzzled

> As far as I can see views like those advanced by The Society appear marginal within the mainstream of Anglicanism in Canada, England, and so forth. Agreed. But the mainstream of Anglicanism in Canada, England and so forth appears marginal within the mainstream of world Christianity! This isn’t to say it’s wrong – it’s just a simple statement of fact. > What an interesting telegraphing of sympathies(: One can’t choose one’s sympathies. They are usually instinctive. One can, however, choose one’s actions, and I’ve chosen to align myself with “the mainstream of Anglicanism in Canada, England and so forth”.… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re: Tim Chesterton, “If you want to avoid being thought of as ‘bizarre and eccentric’…don’t follow Jesus…” Tim, with a little editing you could fit that on a bumper sticker. ( : Of course, the world may find us less bizarre if we quit obsessing people’s sexuality and put more energy into the Gospel’s emphasis on the dispossessed. Re: puzzled, with reference to “Agreed”, you seem to have reluctantly accepted my initial point. “…mainstream Anglicanism in Canada …and so forth appears marginal within the mainstream of world Christianity…” I’m unpersuaded it is that one dimensional. One needs to take into… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I can assure “Puzzled” that those of us women who grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church are thoroughly disgusted with the patriarchy. The patriarchy is primitive, chauvinistic, and often ignorant, and Greek women do not line up in support of it. Going to funerals and whatnot, watch the women as we look at each other and roll our eyes together.

As a convert to Anglicanism, I find it bizarre that some Anglicans would rather be in communion with oppressors than half the members of their own church.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

At Cynthia, “As a convert to Anglicanism, I find it bizarre that some Anglicans would rather be in communion with oppressors than half the members of their own church.” Exactly!