Tuesday, 19 December 2006

signatures and more about the CCE

Anglican Mainstream has published a Signatories to A Covenant for the Church of England, and a Questions that may be asked document. Both can be read here.

These are preceded by the following comment (which itself raises an unanswered question):

The signatories to “A Covenant for the Church of England” are now being made public together with some background explanation. Although it was our original intention to publish the list of signatories and the “Questions that may be Asked” at the same time as the Covenant, we have withheld them for one week at the request of Lambeth Palace. We are publishing them now in the hope that they will help people to understand the full context in which these conversations have been begun.

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Comments

Of these thirty-one signatories, two of them are female, and two others are non-clerics. That leaves twenty-seven male ordained ministers.

Quite a representation of God's creation. Makes sense to me.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:25pm GMT

And there appeared to be very few outside the 'usual suspects' of conservative evangelicalism.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:43pm GMT

So - the need to set up separate oversight for the 'right thinking' will result from the fact that some in the Church of England might show support for TEC should they end up outside the Anglican Communion. Right thinking congregation would be put in 'an impossible situation' by the fact of this support.

Any Evangelical with an ounce of historical sense will know that the Evangelical Wing has at various times positively thrived in the presence of Bishops with whom they disagreed and with neighbouring parish church having a different slant on things but the same name board tacked to the wall by the porch.

What has changed? This is not so much a change as an opportunity. For those for whom the Church Visible is not terribly important schism is not a sin - it's merely a tool. This covenant has all the taste and feel of a business plan.

Posted by: Raspberry Rabbit on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:48pm GMT

How very festive. I shall have to now pen a letter to my vicar to inform him that:

"We speak on behalf of the many Anglicans, (from among Evangelical, Charismatic and Anglo-Catholic traditions) who want to remain faithful to the biblical faith as the Church of England has received it..."

doesn't apply to me. Faithful, yes. Hijacked by this clique who presume me to be an unthinking drone, no.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 1:53pm GMT

I've said it before MM and I'll say it again - this "Covenant" might be flawed in some parts, but with names like John Coles and Mark Stibbe signing it, it *can't* be attributed to just "the usual suspects" and therefore ignored.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 2:09pm GMT

But its more than clear that their organisations have not been fully consulted .

In any case, many charismatics are also theologically conservative - in my short time as a conservative, I was part of a charismatic church.

So what we have here are conservative evangelicals and a couple of charismatic conservative evangelicals....

Thats breadth for you.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 2:48pm GMT

John Stott's signature is pretty significant, since the Grand Old Man has usually stayed 'above the fray' and is certainly no separatist. Richard Turnbull joining with David Peterson is worthy of note, too. Of course you won't get bishops signing - this is a direct challenge to their existing franchises.
The HTB 'family' (apart from Paul Perkin in his GS role) have also stayed out of church politics, and Richard Chartres has wisely kept them on side, but for how much longer? Can Sandy Millar keep them in line?

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:04pm GMT

Peter Ould
I cannot but help think that you are one of the usual suspects supporting the usual suspects. You join the Anglican Church in 199?, get ordained and begin to serve your title within the evangelical ghetto and then presume to tell how we should be Anglicans. Are there not more important things for you to be doing (apart from making pathetic vidoes about Church leaders)than knocking and dismissing Christians of many years commitment who happen not to share your views or fit within your narrow definitions.

Posted by: Anonyomous on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:13pm GMT

Quote. We rejoice in the fellowship of believers across the cultural, social, ethnic and age groups, and we are committed to the inclusive, multi-faceted diversity of Christ’s body. However, we recognise that our fellowship with believers of other churches, networks and denominations may be more real than an artificial connection with those with whom we have profound differences within our own denomination. Unquote.

Decode Draft: Everybody else is strongly invited to always include us, in everything they do. Because we are still the Anglican real deal. We are sort of the Elizabethan Settlement, walking around on two feet in modern times. Can't you tell that from our published confession?

We, however, need to get real and stop including all the other varieties of Anglican believers. (In particular, progressive believers, queer folks, or women priests? - horrors, bishops are in the planning stages? - alarm, alarm, alarm, alarm.)

We make the rest of you Anglicans a wild and generous offer, since by getting to include us when we are up to something true and loving and good, you people will get to rub shoulders with unquestionably godly and wonderful people like us.

Remember, it is we who read scripture better than anybody has ever read it, because we alone have the original sense of all unchanged and eternal revealed things.

On the other hand, we are not equally required to rub institutional shoulders with any of the rest of you who mistake yourselves for Anglicans. God has given us a special power to pick and choose who gets to be in the planet's rooms with us, especially in Anglican institutions. Isn't that totally clear by now?

Once you rub with other people, you will get their cooties on you, and then you are not yourself any more. That is totally clear, and written into the gospel to boot.

Your only possible future is to become just like us. Resistance is futile.

We are the evangelicals. We are still holier than all the other believers, indisputably. We alone are the future. We speak for evangelicals, anglo-catholics, charismatic and all other believers worldwide who wish us to rule in all Anglican things institutional. We will overcome you with godliness and assimilate your best parts – if you have any best parts, really - into our own for the good of the one true, truly true, truthily true evangelical confession of faith.

Resistance is futile.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:22pm GMT

Or have John Coles and Mark Stibbe joined the suspects?

Posted by: Ken Sawyer on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:27pm GMT

"urppp.." Excuse me for leaving the table for a moment...the Pepto should kick in any minute.
I see several huge flaws and gaps in the Mainstream Anglican statements. For example; 'we encourage emails of support to the signatories'. My understanding of Anglican history is that we have always been the group seeking the grey zone, both sides of the issue rather than only those of one view. Martin Luther brought us freedom from exclusive ordained access to Christ. If Anglican Mainstream wants hold up a forefather of the faith , better for their souls to tell the truth of King Henry than camoflage Martin Luthers truth for the purpose of sinful exclusion. One sin for another sin is not biblical in the life of Jesus. Our "biblical faith as the Church of England as received"- is our shared and debated over Liturical Book of Common Prayer Book; not the ordained right to exclude some for the comfort of others. USA Episcopalians in my diocese seek bridges with other Christian denominations, our shared Lectionary being one growing bridge. Far from silent work or apathy; my Episcopal Church seeks common ground with all Christians, hands in the dirt hard work, cooperating to tend God's Garden. Far from apathetic, we are too busy doing God's work to sit in the condemning presence of the signatories. Face is AM signatories there is a reason 'we' separated from the Pope. God Bless you, if you want to crawl back to Rome begging forgiveness, God Bless you. As for my house we will follow Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit our Christ will heal all divisions.

Posted by: deborah on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:50pm GMT

Graham Kings made the following comments on the Fulcrum forum http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=2015 - which is well worth following:

Concerning the list of original signatories of the so called 'Covenant', published this morning on the Anglican Mainstream site,

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=1059

it is worth noting the first signatories are the President and Chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council.

The chair of CEEC claimed that: 'We believe the process of consultation with all parties concerned has been thorough and transparent.'

http://www.ceec.info/library/positional/Covenant.htm

This has been seriously disputed by at least two senior members of CEEC and by a member of another body closely involved in the process.

Concerning the 'questions that may be asked', the following are worth noting, and it would be good to know if they have been revised, from their original draft, in the light of articles and comments this week:

1 Who do you represent?

We speak on behalf of the many Anglicans, (from among Evangelical, Charismatic and Anglo-Catholic traditions) who want to remain faithful to the biblical faith as the Church of England has received it, and who see that that faith is currently at risk. Those who wish to express support for the concerns of the Covenant are invited to e-mail any of the signatories to say so.

[Should it not be 'whom?' rather than 'who?'. Note also the subtle difference from the original Anglican Mainstream announcement:

on behalf of a wide group of Evangelical and Charismatic members of the Church of England with the support of a number of Anglo-Catholic leaders

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=1034 ]

10. Are you advocating unlawful oversight?

In the current position world-wide we are already in a situation of unregulated indiscipline. Our aim is to help prevent the situation getting worse. However, extraordinary times call for out-of-the-ordinary actions to deal with them.

[So the answer is, 'yes'. But who will judge this call for these actions - it seems that the irregular ordinations in Southwark last year are an example...]

Posted by: Rob Hall on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 3:55pm GMT

There is a very interesting, positive and encouraging disussion going on, on the Fulcrum website, too.

Posted by: laurence on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 5:35pm GMT

Ah, I recall attending a harrowing and saddening service at one of the listed churches some years ago when the Jeffrey John incident was doing the rounds. The bastardization of a "sermon" there caused me severe distress and, after much cogitation, I actually emailed an official complaint. It was either that or make the preacher a gift of the first stone(TM) for later use.

I would have hoped for better but it's not really surprising that one of their number is in this puritanical camp.

Posted by: Tim on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 5:49pm GMT

"For those for whom the Church Visible is not terribly important schism is not a sin"

I would rather say; for those who equate the Church Invisible and the Church Visible...

... meaning their precious selves.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 6:53pm GMT

Simon asks: "how come Christ Church Plano didn’t get similar coverage?"

A: Because Truro and Falls Church are next to Washington, DC where there have to be more reporters per square foot than any other place on the planet. And Plano is in, well, Plano.

Posted by: Fr. Andrew Gerns on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 7:28pm GMT

laurence said: "There is a very interesting, positive and encouraging disussion going on, on the Fulcrum website, too."

"too"??!! I do not see a lot positive above your post, laurence.

Posted by: Andy W. on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 7:59pm GMT

Simon. I am so glad that you have been given a gift for Christmas. May God's spirit imbue with literary brilliance and may you find a suitable forum to share your fruit. God knows, we could all do with some Christmas cheer.

Puritans come and go, sects sheer off. It is the nature of puritans. Coming from the South, the continent of Antartica exists even if all the ice melts away (unlike our Northern Hemisphere pole). So that land continues, we'll just see how much ice is lost. I do hope the puritans choose to embrace honesty and as many of them go as possible. That will enable the moderate evangelicals and the rest of us to resume our tradition of broad tent Anglicanism, without their constant nipping and barking at our parishioners.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 8:46pm GMT

I wish they could spell 'credal' correctly....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 11:04pm GMT

31 signatories. 12 Reform, 6 New Wine. Several (but no means a majority) CEEC members. A strong Dick Lucas link to several more names.

But of more intriguing note: 22 names on the Reform Council. Less than half have signed the CCE. 52 names on the CEEC council. 13 have signed. I haven't gone through the New Wine leadership.

I'm rather assuming that Reform made the CCE available to its council members before release. Ditto, CEEC, since both have been signed up en masse by their Chairs. So why aren't there more actual signatures?

Posted by: Simon Morden on Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 11:56pm GMT

True RO and False Church.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 6:11am GMT

I represent you, you keep your mouth shut?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 6:13am GMT

Simon

Just to put your mind at rest. It was agreed back at the Reform National Conference in October that David Banting would sign the covenant on behalf of the Reform network. Hope this helps. Bob Marsden

Posted by: Bob Marsden on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:00am GMT

"I represent you, you keep your mouth shut?"

Goran, I don't understand your comment. Please tell us about the Church of Sweden (Svenska Kyrkan), which I believe you represent. How is it doing? Is it growing and bringing modern Sweden's very diverse, multi-cultural society to the Gospel of Christ? An update from you would be very helpful.

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:11am GMT

Bob - thanks for replying. Two questions:

1) If it was agreed in October that David Banting would sign the CCE, does this mean that the CCE was extant at that time and circulated at the conference, so people could give their informed consent? If not, the agreement is suspect, if not worthless.

2) If it was agreed in October that David Banting would sign the CCE, why then have Wallace Benn, Richard Turnbull, David Phillips, Simon Vibert, Jonathan Fletcher, David Holloway, Angus Macleay, Rob Munro, Paul Perkin, Vaughan Roberts and William Taylor, all of whom I believe I can identify as Reform members, added their personal signatures to the CCE? To my mind this is just duplication to make a longer, more visibly impressive list of signatures - David Banting has already signed on their behalf.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:49am GMT

Andy perhaps mine was a 'too' too far !

But do look in on the aforementioned Fulcrum discussion.

Posted by: laurence on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:54am GMT

Habemus papam !
Nomen Davidicus Banting.

No, sorry -- one 'pope' is quite enough thanks !

Posted by: laurence on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 10:04am GMT

I am sorry you had to be subjected to that, Tim.

Posted by: laurence on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 10:06am GMT

Bob thanks for putting Simon's mind at ease. It's useful to know the covenant was being discussed as a "who is going to sign it" back in October.

Obviously a lot of listening with the intention of understanding was going on since? Rather, I think the strategy was "We'll see if we can call their bluff and get them to back down. If they don't then we'll roll out a covenant to make them back down, or make it that they are not behaving properly and can now be "disciplined"."

It makes one think that the point of this document was to bring in a stick that could be waived against the rebellious. If the existing laws can't bring them under control - we'll create some new ones!

So much for being saved by faith.

Pauls words at Galations 2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" and 3:23-25 "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."

And Hebrews 11 is probably my favourite Paul passage.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 10:49am GMT

DrDanFee,

It doesn't help the dialogue when you have decided what a text means, regardless of what it says. Your interpretation bore no relstion to the text whatsover.

The text there was quite simply saying what many of us none C of E Evangelicals needed desperately to hear -that Anglican Evangelicals recognise their close relationship with non Anglican Evangelicals who beleive the same things they do.

Posted by: Dave Williams on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:03pm GMT

John Stott does nothing without a background of thought, reflection and prayer. But for those of us without memories stretching back to 1966, some context is in order here.

In 1966, Martyn Lloyd-Jones issued a 'Come out of her, my people' rallying call to evangelical anglicans - not an unnatural step in the days of John Robinson whose published writings and bon mots include the veneration of adultery (1960 Chatterley trial) among other similar things.

John Stott quietly but firmly rebutted Lloyd-Jones on this point - and won the day - for the time being. His perspective was correct: John Robinson was the secessionist, and therefore his opponents need only stay exactly where they already were.

As Billy Graham's righthand man (a Mott and Oldham de nos jours, recalling the early ecumenical days) e.g. at Lausanne 1974, he has had a massive effect on the internationalisation and evangelicalisation of world Christianity. (Have I just coined some words? Hope not - they look pretty unwieldy.)

This is the same John Stott, peacemaker and diplomat, who now signs the present covenant. That is why I think his signature is weighty, and deserves reflection.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 12:51pm GMT

The most important point is the reference to the primates meeting. At that meeting what is already the current state will become clear to everyone:
**no diocesan CoE bishops are in good standing with the rest of the Anglican communion**

read the Tanzania statement: no bishop who licenses homosexuals or their supports to any leadership position can be in the communion, and the Global South Bishops have already said they will not attend Lambeth if such bishops are appointed.


The signatories of this covenant, John Stott prominemt amongst them, realise that this situation now appears critically to the CoE.
If they and their parishes wish to remain connected to the vibrant "World Christianity" of the African Anglican church, they cannot remain in any kind of communion with Bishops who do not meet Christian standards.

If that oversight cannot be provided by the CoE; it will be provided outsde:
If that oversight cannot be provided within the UK it certainly will be provided from outside!

Posted by: Sinner on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 3:21pm GMT

Sinner, I must presume that is a threat. Are you actually saying that all the English diocesan bishops do not meet Christian standards?

What do you know about their morality?

Actually the parishes themselves cannot leave the C of E for other oversight. People can, but church property and territory less!

Posted by: Ken Sawyer on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 7:52pm GMT

John Stott has been very unwell since a fall, in August, and needs our prayers.

Posted by: laurence on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 8:42pm GMT

Simon

1. From what I remember of the Conference the principle of a covenant was discussed and approved but certainly no actual wording. Most Reform members share common concerns about the Church of England and current problems. So most of us are happy to support one another when we take principled action, even if it is at times irregular.

2. As to why further Reform signatories were required in addition to David Banting, I am not sure. Perhaps to allay fears that David Banting did not represent the Reform network? Incidentally consulting my Reform Members handbook I cant find Richard Turnbull listed so I dont think you can call him Reform. But it was a delightful surprise when he did speak at the Reform conference!

Grace and peace to everyone at Thinking Anglicans! Bob

Posted by: Bob Marsden on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 9:04pm GMT

"If they and their parishes wish to remain connected to the vibrant "World Christianity" of the African Anglican church, they cannot remain in any kind of communion with Bishops who do not meet Christian standards."

Retract this, please. All our bishops meet Christian standards. You mean conservative evangelical standards. I am sick to the stomach of fundamentalists attempting to deChristianise those with whom they disagree. David Banting and his gang do not get to decide who is, and who is not, a Christian.

Posted by: JBE on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 10:58pm GMT

I would have thought that the very last thing the CofE should do is have any connection at all to Akinola and his mob.

The encouraging thing is that Reform know they do not have majority support for this position. Its clearly a precursor to a split. Its coming, folks - time for something new and exciting.Lets make the most of it, not keep trying to keep alive what needs to be allowed to die a very welcome death.

RIP Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 at 11:39pm GMT

The discussion on the Fulcrum Forum is helpful in clearing up some of these questions: http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=1900

According to participants, Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream has been pushing very hard for a split in the Church of England.

On the other hand, the November Fulcrum Newsletter and the majority of the discussants at the Forum reject splits or schisms as solutions to current difficulties.

It does seem to me that the majority of British Evangelicals are unwilling to create a schism in the Church of England and so do not support the recent schism in Virginia. They would prefer to be the center in a renewed Church of England and Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 12:35am GMT

http://www.faithspace.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=7846&pid=129760&st=0&#entry129760

A little bit of graphic amusement from me in a parallel discussion.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 2:43am GMT

Steve Watson wrote: "Göran, I don't understand your comment."

Try the plain sense!

Steve Watson continued (somehwat of topic): "Please tell us about the Church of Sweden (Svenska Kyrkan), which I believe you represent. How is it doing? Is it growing and bringing modern Sweden's very diverse, multi-cultural society to the Gospel of Christ? An update from you would be very helpful."

Your free to contact me off list anytime, just click on my name! It's for real.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 6:29am GMT

Perhaps the signaturies should 'cast out into the deep' and leave the Church of England. If they are confident that their stance is popular they should be confident that many would follow them. I suspect, however, that they are uncertain. Perhaps the time has come for the vast majority of Anglicans to unite in asking them to leave. They want a fight and they ought to be prepared to lose it.

Also this must now be the time for Oak Hill Thelogical College to be struck off from the list of Approved Anglican thelogical colleges. It has been anomolous for years. It is now malign.

Posted by: David Gould on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 9:03am GMT

Well, Goran: 'the plain sense' as in 'the plain sense of Scripture'?
My curiosity is aroused by your intense interest, as a Swedish Lutheran, in the Church of England scene, and the practical difficulties of understanding another country and its religion - including the dangers of seeing things through our own perspective. I read numerous pieces from Lutheran clergy in Sweden about the religious state of your country, the Erastian church polity, and the party-politicization of churches. Most Swedes seem to the rest of us to be deeply secular people (3% church attendance?), even if the majority are (still) notionally members of Svenska Kyrkan, while you appear to have a growing Muslim community, especially in Malmo. The most active Christians (of whom there are not many) seem to be the Baptists, Pentecostalists and Catholics. Of course, most of Europe is pretty secular and post-Christian too, England included. But the Church of England is not the local version of Svenska Kyrkan: bishops do not have the power in the CofE that they have in Sve.K, while the CofE has strong evangelical witness, and almost all of its largest congregations (83% of those with ASA or 200+) are evangelical-charismatic. A few of these have 1000-1500 on a Sunday - Holy Trinity Brompton is about 2500. But the really growing churches in England are the African Pentecostalist churches, who are especially prominent in London. This is where the real dynamic of English Christianity lies and is a pointer to the future.

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 10:17am GMT

The essential point is that there is a choice between mainstream international anglicanism and national anglicanism which is over-affected by the surrounding society and insufficiently aware (to the point of solipsism) that they are not the default option. Michael Green, 'Asian Tigers for Christ' is one source for reading about vibrant international anglicanism.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 1:26pm GMT

Bob - again, thanks for the clarifications, and apologies for being wordy.

Both 1 and 2 bother me. Not to the point where I cry out "Is outrage!", but it disturbs me that intelligent men and women can give their absolute consent to a document that has neither been seen or discussed.

I woke up one morning to find out - from the radio - that I was in 'impared communion' with my bishop. The reason my vicar used to explain why the media had the news first, as opposed to the congregation in whose name it was released, was that he'd promised the scoop to Ruth Gledhill. I also discovered later that the PCC had given him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted - thus even they had no idea of what was happening, but were, of course, in full agreement with him.

Whilst this exhibition of blind trust and obedience is noteworthy, I'm not sure it's healthy: there's an axiom about power that goes here.

As to point 2: if you don't know why, I certainly don't know why. I can fill this space with supposition and guesswork - the best of which is that it makes the CCE look more impressive. And having read it, it needs all the help it can get, for it is, as I said earlier, ugly and stupid.

Posted by: Simon Morden on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 2:48pm GMT

If Stott, author of 'why I am still an anglican', has signed, then maybe that's an indication that the covenanters don't actually want a split.

Posted by: David Keen on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 4:22pm GMT

The African Pentecostal churches are growing purely because of African migration.

If Christianity is going to become the religion purely of a migrant minority, with very different cultural backgrounds, then it just shows how little it has to say to contemporary 21st century Britons.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 21 December 2006 at 11:43pm GMT

Some Christmas fun - thanks to the authors

http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/news/?NewsID=533

Posted by: NP on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 8:16am GMT

Merseymike - the strong growth in ANGLICAN evangelical churches (conservative and charismatic, maybe not "open") is not driven by African migration - do go to HTB if you are in London one day as this may shatter some illusions and prejudices too

Posted by: NP on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 9:02am GMT

"The Catholic churches are growing purely because of Irish migration [to Liverpool, Glasgow, London etc].

If Catholicism is going to become the religion purely of a migrant minority, with very different cultural backgrounds, then it just shows how little it has to say to contemporary 19th century Britons."

/there, fixed it! :)

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 9:31am GMT

Ah, but NP, what IS driving the groqwth of Evangelicalism within the Anglican Church? Given that the vast majority of people are abandoning christianity or have already done so, how significant is that growth? I've said before, just because your numbers are growing has nothing to do with whether or not your message is true.

Posted by: fORD eLMS on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 6:10pm GMT

just because your numbers are growing has nothing to do with whether or not your message is true.

Just to remind folk that the statistics suggest that evangelical anglicanism is more dominant of a smaller cake, and that its own numbers are actually 'down' over the last five years.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 22 December 2006 at 10:44pm GMT

Exactly, David.

And for me, this is the real question - how can those who still express an interest in spiritual matters but can see nothing of appeal in the church be communicated with. Evangelicals and their glib certainties repel them. Liberals wring their hands and angst.

The church as a whole continues to decline, and who is surprised?

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 23 December 2006 at 1:10pm GMT

Figures are always tricky aren't they.

If we are sticking with Brierley's figures then he subdivides Evangelicals down into Mainstream, Charismatic and Broad. I can't remember if he has defined Mainstream and Broad but I've a feeing that the latter in effect is Open Evangelicals -the former is actually still growing. I can certainly say that the Churches I know are growing -my own home church from 60 to 100 members in the last ten years (plus a significant number of non members attending regularly)

Posted by: dave williams on Wednesday, 27 December 2006 at 11:46pm GMT

My question remains....if the signatories of the "Covenant" are serious in wishing to withdraw fellowship from those teaching false doctrine and morals, why are they allowing within thieir group a moral compromise over divorce and re-marriage.

Surely those within the grouping hold that re-marriage is adultery must disassociate from those Evangelicals condoning adultery. If they hold to an understanding of sin, surely an adulterous Vicar is as serious as a Gay one.

Until this anomaly is looked at, they cannot go to the homosexual with the Gospel message of repentence.

How ironic that a Covenant against compromise is in fact based on compromise in a key area of morals and Church order.

Why won't the liberals ask the signatories to nail their colours to the mast as to what constitutes heterosexual marriage and sin.

Why are they assering the sole authority of Holy Scripture, when thay cannot agree amongst themselves as to what it means?


Robert ian Williams ( concvert from Evangelical Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism)

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 28 December 2006 at 8:21am GMT

"Until this anomaly is looked at, they cannot go to the homosexual with the Gospel message of repentence."

Ian Williams,
I agree, and this isn't the only area where credibility is lost. Sadly, they can't see that thundering fire and brimstone and claiming doctrinal purity doesn't cover this kind of thing up. Trouble is, they are so used to the idea that the best way to preach the Gospel is threat of damnation that they are unable to fix the problem. A more traditional, and Biblical, method of evangelism just doesn't even appear on their radar.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 28 December 2006 at 12:06pm GMT

one highly questionable way round the 'no divorce' injunctions which was offered me by a ConsEv Christian was that if the first marriage had not been a 'christian marriage' it didn't count.

SOunds highly unscriptural to me not to mention dreadful sacramental theology - but it perhaps is an insight into a particular thought process?

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Thursday, 28 December 2006 at 4:10pm GMT

Mynsterpreost,
Isn't this the argument used by Rome in granting annulments? If at the time of the ceremony one didn't have, or wasn't capable of having, the intention to enter into a "true" sacramental marriage, then one wasn't truly married. I always chuckle when conservative Evos agree with Rome.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 28 December 2006 at 5:11pm GMT

Ford;
I suppose it (sc. annulment) does bear some similarities with the ConsEv way round divorce - but I seem to remember that it uses the idea of there being something adrift at the time of marriage which, had it been expressed, would have reulted in the marriage not taking place. The ConsEv line seems to me to be less principled, not to mention its apparent disregard for ICor 7, in distinguishing between indissoluble (ie 'Christian') marriage and marriage in general.

But I agree it's funny how COnsEvs and unltramontanes often meet up round the back!

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 29 December 2006 at 10:09am GMT

Ford Elms-
Your appeal to 'credibility' is something I do not understand. Do you think that the criterion of truth (or accurate representation of reality) is whether it is palatable to one particular culture at one particular contemporary date?

Haven't we got enough image-consciousness and style-above-substance in our world, without adding to it? He or she who marries the Zeitgeist is before long a widow.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 29 December 2006 at 12:45pm GMT

On this divorce/remarriage issue, the historical development of the situation in Britain and America is set out in detail by Ted Williams, 'The Great Divorce Controversy' (Belmont House), showing that the church took wrong turnings based on faulty exegesis (e.g. contemplating that Jesus could have taken the modern view that a marriage can 'die').

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 29 December 2006 at 12:53pm GMT

Christopher Shell,
No, truth is truth. Credibility is how we are seen to live by that truth. The world has ample evidence of the hypocrisy of traditional Christianity. Locally, the fact that the RC Church covered up sexual abuse for years, tried to weasel out of its responsibility to its victims, and didn't respond at all globally till 10 years later when the same scandal broke in the powerful American Church tells most of the people I know that the Church is more interested in protecting its image and responding to the powerful than it is in actually living by the principles of the Gospel. Rome's response is just another example for them that the Church is not worthy of their respect in any controversial teaching. They also see all Christians in the same light. That the Church of Nigeria sees nothing wrong with imprisoning for 5 years people who dare to be friendly to gay people is another example to them of the hypocrisy of the Church. The usual phrase is "God I love you, save me from your followers." I am not seeking the approval of the world for the message of Christianity, I am merely saying that if we are to preach it to the world, we have to do it honestly. No divorce, that is unless you are wealthy, or a friend of someone on the annulment panel, or in the Bishop's pocket just won't cut it. Goodness, us Anglicans approved divorce for a king centuries before we approved it for commoners. In this day and age, a commoner is going to ask "Why can a king get a divorce if I can't?" By the same token, us commoners are going to ask why two faithful gay men getting married is somehow "degrading" the sacrament when someone else can make vows she has no intention of keeping in front of a God she doesn't believe in, in a faith whose tenents she doesn't practice and in the company of a congregation whose faith and behaviour she scorns, and all because Daddy is rich. If we aren't going to do the former, we certainly shouldn't be doing the latter. I wonder how many Anglican clergy would refuse marriage to such a wealthy person. If she were poor, no argument at all, I'd wager. That is what credibility is about.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 2 January 2007 at 2:57pm GMT
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