Thinking Anglicans

apocalypse when?

The Times has chosen to devote considerable space today to a confidential document leaked to them, addressed to the Archbishops’ Council, and written by Jayne Ozanne, who is completing a six-year stint as an appointed member of the Council.
Church faces implosion and life underground, says senior adviser

There is also a background note on the author:
Brilliant career of evangelist marketing expert
Ms Ozanne attends this parish in the Diocese of London.

and more significantly a leader article:
Lost souls – An apocalyptic warning from within the Church of England

Extracts from both the news article and the leader column below the fold.

From the news report:

In her paper she says: “It has been nearly six years since I was invited by Archbishops George and David to serve on the first Archbishops’ Council. Much has happened since then, both to move the Church forward and also, I fear, to hold it back.” Arguing that it is her duty to “speak about some of the white elephants in the room that few of us like to admit are there,” she acknowledges that this causes discomfort.

Ms Ozanne continues: “I remain convinced that the only way for the Church to survive the storms that are currently besetting it is to embrace the hard truth with honesty and humility.” Questioning whether Church leaders really believe any more in a God who can move mountains or in a God who can raise the dead, she warns that the Church seems to have forgotten how to meet the cost of being Christian.

“Sacrificial giving is not a concept that we in the West have either embraced or understood. We are too comfortable and, as a result, too compromised. I see a time of great persecution coming, which will drive Christianity all but underground in the West. I believe that this will primarily take the form of a social and economic persecution, where Christians will be ridiculed for their faith and pressurised into making it a purely private matter.”

While the established Church will self-destruct, “fragmenting into various divisions over a range of internal issues”, she predicts that a new “Church in England” will take root, consisting of non- denominational cell groups throughout the country.

Neither archbishop was willing to comment but one senior council member, who was not prepared to be named, said: “She goes to a particular (evangelical) church in London and her perception is governed by that tradition. She really ought to get out more and see the Church at large.”

Ms Ozanne was backed by Philip Giddings, a political scientist and lecturer at Reading University, who was instrumental in setting up Anglican Mainstream, an evangelical lobby group that campaigned successfully against the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. Dr John describes himself as a celibate homosexual.

Dr Giddings, one of the Church’s most senior laymen, said: “This was a personal reflection from Jayne and it needs to be taken seriously. I think it a real possibility that Christians face the kind of persecution she predicts and the established Church faces some real challenges, which we need to address. Those of us in leadership positions need to take very seriously what she has warned about.”

Dr Giddings said that Ms Ozanne’s paper should be seen in the context of the divisions between the orthodox and liberal wings of the Church worldwide. “What she says reflects the reality that there is an ongoing division within the Anglican Communion and the Church of England in particular on matters of authority and the relevance and authority of Holy Scripture.” …

From the leader article:

In truth, Ms Ozanne has probably not helped her own cause by casting her argument in such dramatic terms. While there are many in the Church of England who are deeply disturbed at its direction, few of them would be comfortable with the notion that Christianity in Europe is fast reverting to a status that it held almost two millennia ago — oppressed by the authorities, obliged to operate in secrecy. There is the risk that a few brutal phrases will diminish the credibility of her broader analysis. That would be unfortunate. For on closer inspection, her case is stronger and more subtle than it might initially seem. When she refers to the “persecution” of Christians in Europe, she means a process by which believers would be “ridiculed for their faith and pressured into making it a purely private matter”. This is not a ludicrous supposition. Some would say, after the Buttiglione saga, that this state of affairs already exists.

Similarly, when she predicts that the Anglican Church will “continue to implode and self-destruct”, she cites a series of reasons for this with which a number of lay members of the Church might empathise. She is critical of a leadership which appears to “shy away from admitting there is any absolute truth” and one which, in an attempt to maintain a happy camp, ends up seeking “to promote a gospel that is socially acceptable to all”. She herself believes in the “transformative power” of the Holy Spirit, but laments that this is “something we are not keen to talk openly about in the Church of England”. She yearns for a quite different approach, one with “a faith that was more contagious in its intensity”.

Ms Ozanne is from the conservative evangelical branch of the Church and perhaps has a set of scars from the battles over the appointment, which was eventually abandoned, of a homosexual man as Bishop of Reading and the successful ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. She should not, nevertheless, be dismissed as simply a factional figure determined to impose her idea of Anglicanism on the rest of the flock. It is perfectly possible to hold different theological views and suspect she is right when insisting that on present trends “many will continue to leave — disaffected and dismayed”….

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David H LewisChristopher ShellJ. Collins FisherDavidDerek Olsen Recent comment authors
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Rodney McInnes
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Rodney McInnes

It is unlikely that Ms Ozanne’s prognostications will come as any surprise to the members of the Archbishops’ Council. It has been fairly clear to anyone who has cared to look during the last 20 years or so that holding within one organisation those whose cosmology is that of the second millenium BC and those who think we have no choice but to live with cosmology after Einstein is a losing battle. On the one hand the mythological cosmology supports a theism defined as “a God existing outside and apart from the universe we experience (as it were, above the… Read more »

David H Lewis
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David H Lewis

“Zealously evangelical” Ms Ozanne may well deplore the erosion of authority in Holy Scripture and yearn for the power of the Holy Spirit but she must surely know that (ironically and against all expectation) the last century or so of pious Biblical scholarship has demolished virtually every cherished tenet of traditional belief. To pretend that Christianity has access to “absolute truth” or was founded by someone who could “raise the dead” is surely the sheerest naivete, or worse, abysmal ignorance of the evidence. Sadly and inexcusably, such ignorance is almost universal as witness Gibson’s utterly implausible “Passion” film, Dan brown’s… Read more »

Derek Olsen
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Derek Olsen

Ah, Mr. Lewis, if only I too could revel in the golden plains of cynicism! Regrettably, I languish in my benighted condition because I hold fast to the experience of the power of the resurrection that has made a difference in my life. My prayer (no doubt through an imaginary person to a non-existent deity by means of a pretend spirit) is that your belief–whatever it is–leads you into compassion for your fellow humans. I cannot prove the historicity of Jesus just as you cannot disprove it–we lack the necessary scientific evidence. My belief may be founded on myth, but… Read more »

David H Lewis
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David H Lewis

Thanks for your hope and prayer that I might be a nice person tho’ the very fact of you offering it suggests you think it’s unlikely! As to the main point of this discussion, I’m afraid it IS now possible to show that on the overwhelming balance of probabilities Jesus simply did not exist and it is only populist wordplay to claim myth and poetry cut to the truth. We all know that they don’t otherwise they wouldn’t be myths! Tho’ it would be nice to agree with your poetic sentiments about the powers of goodness, life and love I’m… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi DHL

Your argument about Jesus not existing sounds interesting – have you stated it in full anywhere, or if not cd you do so for our benefit?

I dont currently agree – but will be interested to see if you could persuade me. Every trained biblical scholar (or over 99% of them) is against you on this point. Of late, the most eminent proponent of this view, G.A. Wells, was a professor not of New Testament, but of German (not a closely-related subject)? But will be interested to hear what your arguments are.

David
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David

Gidday Chris, Thanks for your temperate remarks and enquiry. You could hardly do better than to study G.A. Wells’ evidence notwithstanding people think he can be easily dismissed by saying his speciality was german not NT. That is condescending and personal – you should focus on the evidence itself which he presents with admirable and exemplary lucidity. Also it is hardly surprising that >99% of NT scholars don’t buy into the evidence as it could be extremely disagreeable and to them and in any case they believe the battle was won a century ago. The few who have pretended to… Read more »

J. Collins Fisher
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Fundamentalist *theists* to the Right of me, fundamentalist *atheists* to the . . . _other_ Right: Thank (the Leftist) God, I’m a (Leftist) Anglican!

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi David: ‘The earliest Christian witness’ amounts to one man: Paul. One man is not a significant or representative sample. Paul (a) never met Jesus, (b) tells us from his own lips that his contacts with the Twelve were minimal, (c) no longer regarded Christ from an earthly point of view (2 Cor.5) – he is of course obsessed with the present dispensation of the crucified-and-resurrected Jesus, which has rendered any return to talk of the earthly Jesus irrelevant, unnecessary, redundant and missing-the-point. Why harp on about the lesser past when the present is so much more glorious? Modern NT… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi again David – a P.S.:

My primary-source list for my point of view:
Thallus, Josephus, Tacitus, [probably] Suetonius, Pliny the younger, Lucian, Mark, Paul, Peter, James, Jude, John the Elder, writer to Hebrews – even rabbinic writings.

Your primary-source list is longer or shorter? More distinguished or less distinguished?

David H Lewis
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David H Lewis

Hi Christopher, Thanks for your comments. The NT that is earlier or independent of the Gospels is most of the canon – not just Paul! I.e. All Paul’s letters, Hebrews,1,2,3, John, James, 1 Peter and Rev’n. None of them betray the slightest awareness of the Gospel Jesus. No Paul never met Jesus nor ever gave the slightest suggestion he’d existed in his lifetime. No Paul doesn’t tell us his contacts with the 12 were minimal, they were non existent. He only mentions them once in passing. His Jerusalem contacts were with Cephas and James and he never gives any suggestion… Read more »