Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 November 2017

Rachel Mann Why Transgender Day of Remembrance Matters

Warren Hartley A brave faith The theology and spirituality of Open Table – A person-centred approach

Martin Sewell Archbishop Cranmer Safeguarding: why is the Church of England’s institutional compassion so constipated?

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The decadence of the Church of England

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Richard AshbyRod GillisTobias HallerJames ByronGarry Lovatt Recent comment authors
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Susannah Clark
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Colin: “the Church of England doesn’t have an agreed, undisputed theology about Scripture, God, the nature of Jesus, sin, human sexuality, gender, clergy clothing, the sacraments, or almost anything else.” That’s the point. We don’t have to agree (and we won’t), but we do need to love. If we can’t do that, and co-exist, it is a sorry state we’re in. The test isn’t “Who’s right?” The test is “Will you open your hearts to grace, and love one another?” That is the test. Can we live with one another’s differences, and love each other, and pray for one another’s… Read more »

Charles Clapham
Guest

Excellent piece from Colin Coward, not least for showing how little seems to have advanced (except perhaps in tone) since the (unpublished) 1968 report on homosexuality. Two options: A or B. It’s not very difficult…

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I’d also like to commend Colin Coward on his perceptive article: “decadence” is the perfect word not only for poor, beleaguered English Anglicanism, but the direction of the West in general. It’s riven by the battle between those obsessed with recovering a halcyon age that never existed, and those who believe that we’re at some Year Zero where we’ve mysteriously managed to transcend timeless human frailties. Like Susannah, I’ve no desire to impose ideological uniformity, within the church, or without. That old, unfashionable liberal principle of toleration’s the only way we can listen, argue, and try and thrash out compromises… Read more »

Cassandra
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Cassandra

Martin Sewell gives us yet another horrifying example of the Church’s incompetence in handling abuse cases. There seems to be no limit to our ignorance of good practice. I wrote to both Archbishops a couple of weeks ago disclosing the ongoing sexual harassment I had undergone from my incumbent when I was a curate, and the bishop’s refusal to deal with it. Worse, he told my incumbent about our conversation. I had a better initial response than expected, from one of the safeguarding team at Lambeth Palace. But when she asked if it would help if I talked to a… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

It’s unfortunate that Colin Coward chooses to begin his assessment of the current state of the Church of England by recycling a hackneyed bit of Russophobic lore worthy of the most rabid of Cold Warriors: the benighted Slav intellectually and politically crippled by centuries of absolutism and tyranny etc. etc. It seems to me that there are two responses to this. The first is that societies and states (and churches) do not have psychologies like individuals do, and projecting psycho-histories onto them is – at best – glib. The second is that Coward (via Masha Gessen) is just factually wrong.… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I am with rjb. I think Colin Coward overrreaches in his description of both Russia and the Church of England as decadent, and his comparison between the two. It’s a shame because his list of reports, and a conclusion this should have been resolved years ago, would have been much stronger had he kept to topic – the failure of his comparison taints what should have been the core message. Worse, perhaps, he fails to even question whether the process of working parties and reports is either valuable or Scriptural. Might it not be better, for example, for the House… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Colin Coward’s run through the various reports looking at issues of sexuality is very helpful. It doesn’t ever hurt to be reminded of the path we’ve taken to get to where we are. But I’m not sure he draws the most natural conclusion – which is that after numerous attempts to square the circle have been found wanting, it’s time to give up the attempt. perhaps it’s even time to put our energy into more important things, the sort of thing which gets a lot of attention in the Bible, like poverty, and economic exploitation by the powerful. Isn’t that… Read more »

Laurie Roberts
Guest
Laurie Roberts

Rachel Mann on ‘ Why Transgender Day of Remembrance Matters’.

This is a really important piece to be read and pondered by one and all.

Full of insights and of great clarity.

Thank you, Rachel.

The treatment of all trans folk here and everywhere needs urgent and sustained attention.

It has to concern us all.

It is not possible, to me anyway, to think of Jesus, saints, or boddhisatvas turning away with closing minds or hardening hearts….

Susannah Clark
Guest

The Church of England – the institution – may have an ideal ‘uniform’ belief in various things, but the Church of England – the living people – most certainly don’t. What you seem to be endorsing, Bernard, is a kind of ‘Anglican Covenant’ approach where dogma is imposed and uniformity is required… or, ‘consequences’. The reality however is that there is NO uniformity of belief in our Church, and I’m very unsure if bishops gain rather than lose ‘authority’ if they threaten sanctions against members who hold diverse views. The liturgy and the canons may say one thing, but the… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

Bernard Randall: that’s a very long-winded way of telling LGBT folk to shut up and carry on suffering.

Garry Lovatt
Guest
Garry Lovatt

“If these things are disputed it is only because and to the extent that some people do not heed the teaching of their bishops.” A former Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada once said to me that, “Bishop bashing is not acceptable, but Bishop pushing is a time-honoured Christian tradition.” In a similar vein, Dom Gregory Dix said that it really doesn’t matter what the bishops want, for ultimately the laity always gets its way. “… the Church of England does have an agreed “theology about …” And yet, the reality of course is that there is no longer… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Bernard Randall, ” And given that the bishops hold the primary teaching ministry and authority in the Church it’s right that they we should listen to their voices, even when that may be personally unpalatable.”

When I first read this I thought, well there is a rather servile notion of ecclesiology; but then I thought, nah, the guy must be saying this tongue in cheek. It could not have been written by a conservative because it is too deferential to authority whereas most conservatives have made creative insubordination into a Zen art form ( :

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Susannah, Christian dogma is received rather than imposed, and received through Tradition, which is the active and dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in the Church (as Georges Florovsky put it, if memory serves). And of course (in an episcopal Church) there is a particular charism of the Holy Spirit in the teaching office of the bishops. That’s why bishops are to be regarded as having a greater teaching authority on matters of theology and doctrine than the rest of us – the authority is actually that of the Holy Spirit, guiding the Church. So no, our liturgy and canons… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Jo: I feel there must be better ways of doing this, given that, as Colin so clearly describes, previous attempts have not been productive. And if we carry on tearing ourselves apart, we just end up with the wreckage of a Church, which is no good to anyone. Maybe, just maybe, by pouring our energies into love for the poor we will find that there is more love to go around, and it filters into the wounds created by fighting over sexuality. I don’t know, but that feels to me a more hopeful approach. Garry, I think it’s worth highlighting… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Bernard Randall, “no, I’m quite liberal. I know this to be true, as a bishop once told me so.” You could put that to music, “I’m a liberal this I know cause my bishop told me so” (: “…by pouring our energies into love for the poor we will find that there is more love to go around” Yes, the church is quite expert at demanding justice from every one else but itself. It’s called hypocrisy. Besides, the notion that we cannot advocate for economic justice and justice for sexual minorities is both a false dichotomy and misdirection. Besides,if… Read more »

Jo
Guest
Jo

The wounds to the body of Christ we should be concerned about, because they are both by far the largest and the the most unjust, in relation to sexuality are those endured by our LGBT brothers and sisters. Those wounds will not heal while the church maintains a policy of opening new ones. This isn’t people having their feelings hurt in an argument, where a period of quiet and time will soothe, but an ongoing and present persecution that daily harms and in far, far too many cases kills our brothers and sisters. Demanding that their cries for justice be… Read more »

Garry Lovatt
Guest
Garry Lovatt

Bernard Randall: ” … there may be disagreement among the people who make up the Church (and I’ve no desire to see that change), but there is agreement at the institutional level.” But what is the “institutional” level if it is not “those who make up the Church?” There is a paradox here with which we all must wrestle in one way or another. To select one or the other arbitrarily because it suits our wish or need of the moment is to give up the struggle and ignore the paradox. And since the paradox lies at the very heart… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

We’re supposed to treat the parade of placemen, time-servers and careerists who pack the English bishops’ bench as God’s mouthpiece now? Say what?

Desmond Tutu said that if God’s homophobic, then God’s wrong. If the Almighty can be mistaken, then even an English bishop can be.

Nothing in Anglican theology justifies this level of blind deference. Even Anglo-Catholics don’t believe that English bishops are an infallible magisterium. I’ll accept that evangelicals’ hands are tied by biblical authority, and the vast majority don’t bear LGB people personal ill-will: but others’ aren’t.

Tobias Haller
Guest

I have observed that the Ordinal bestows the office of teaching with the priesthood. The episcopate’s primary function is custodial. That of course begs the question that the Ordinal establishes the doctrine of who has the responsibility to teach. (Of course, the ability cannot be bestowed so easily as the faculty.)

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Re Tobias Haller….” …responsibility to teach. (…the ability cannot be bestowed so easily as the faculty.)” An excellent observation. There is the issue of theological competence of presbyters and bishops. One may be a competent preacher, pastor and teacher; but one must recognize the limits to one’s competence and know when to seek out advice from theological specialists. Such an approach is complicated by the wide range of perspectives available in the ‘market place of ideas’. Additionally, we live in an interdisciplinary world. Beyond consultation with theological specialists, there is the matter of wider collaboration with specialists in other fields… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Today’s gospel reminds us that unless we do it to the least of people in whom Christ is incarnated, then we will be cast into outer darkness. I wonder why the ‘teaching authority’ of the bishops is so little regarded. Is it because they have put a spurious unity above what is right? The church cannot have a valid ministry to the poor until it has recognised the necessity of its valid ministry amongst lgbti people. Handouts to the poor are palliatives, what needs to change is both the way the poor are treated, as equals and partners and the… Read more »