Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Wycliffe Hall: inspection brought forward

According to Ruth Gledhill in The Times the next inspection of Wycliffe Hall by the Church of England will occur in 2008 rather than 2009.

Bishops to inspect Wycliffe Hall after fears about management

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 11:22am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Good - hope a thorough investigation is undertaken and if the report is positive those who doubt the integrity of the Principal and the Council will belt up.

If the report is not positive, then appropriate action should be taken by the Council.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 11:55am BST

I hope the inspection really does what is needed to be done. If the Church of England does not do something - the University of Oxford will. We cannot let theology in Oxford suffer because of the leadership style of a particular college.

Posted by: TJH on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 1:09pm BST

At General Synod in July, the Bishop of Derby said, in answer to a written question:

"The Bishop of Norwich, the Chair of Ministry Division has been in regular contact with the Bishop of Liverpool, the Chair of the Wycliffe Council. Further, the Bishops’ Committee for Ministry has set in place a process to inform itself regarding the situation at Wycliffe. A small team of independent advisors, drawn from current Senior Inspectors, will report to the Bishops’ Committee for Ministry, which can then take any further action, if required."

See http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002497.html

So, what did the advisors advise and what further action will be taken as a result?

Posted by: badman on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 3:08pm BST

“David Way is a staff member at the Ministry Division. All Colleges have a Min Div person on their governing body. I understand he does not attend many Council meetings - but if that is incorrect, someone can easily correct it.”

I have been trying to find out an answer to this question posed by “f” in a thread below. I have now heard from Church House and it seems that Dr Way has not been a member of the Wycliffe Council for “six or seven years” and that “we will be asking AGAIN for them to remove him from their website”.

It doesn’t seem that he was replaced by anyone else from the Ministry Division rather it was explained to me that the policy of having a representative of that Division on every college council had come to an end.

It must be for others now to judge if that was a wise move! But that shouldn’t stop TA regulars from giving the best advice available!!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 4:28pm BST

Just to avoid confusion: the Ministry Division inspection is unrelated to the University's own inspection: the Bishop's concern is the quality of the formation of ordinands, whereas the University's concern is principally about what kind of education the undergraduates are receiving at the PPH's. I've spoken about this with a number of dons who have grave conerns, but are adamant that the University will only act in respect of the latter, not the former.

It is good that Vibert is communicating, even if indirectly through the press. But he clearly has his head in the sand: this isn't about wanting to change the whole orientation of the College, but about how narrow and domineering an evangelicalism it will be promoting. It goes without saying that evangelicalism is a much richer tradition than Vibert and Turnbull's Calvinist Reform party will ever allow. When he says that 'there are those who think Wycliffe should be broader in its evangelical outlook' [note he says 'in' as opposed to 'than'], he is only telling half the story: the wave of resignations have come not merely as a result of theological differences but of a management style which cannot deal with dissent or disagreement in any way.

While Ruth Gledhill's Lollard analogy is a nice touch, we ought not to forget that many Lollards were iconoclasts, believed in lay presidency, and held a seventh day (Saturday) sabbath: hardly orthodox Anglicanism, but we should not be surprised if this is the direction in which the Hall is heading.

Posted by: Matthew B on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 8:56pm BST

When they do the review, it would do well to remember that some souls will only put forward their best examples. Some build a facade down the main street and keep the journalists away from the filthy alleys behind it. Others hang around to ensure they only talk to scripted representatives.

Remember, collecting winners of lottery ticket always thinks the lottery is a good thing. It doesn't hurt to ask the people who didn't win what they think too.

The same as when we are looking at justice in this world, it's not enough to ask the "winners" if the game is fair, we also need to ask the oppressed and deprived. If we don't talk to them, then we don't know how disenfranchised they have become, nor who has colluded to deprive them of a minimum dignity.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 9:29pm BST

I think the people posting here (except NP) are missing the point. It may well be that Principal Turnbull and Bishop James Jones are poor managers. They may well have got rid of some people that seem to have been well liked and maybe they did cut a few corners along the way.

But let's get a sense of perspective here. They have restored the Biblical idea of the subordination of women to men to Wycliffe Hall. They have reversed the liberal trends of the previous regimes which actually encouraged women to think of ordination. That's what REALLY matters. Biblical orthodoxy has been restored after a long period in the wilderness. +Jones, Prinicpal Turnbull and Vice-Principal Vibert are to be congratulated. Their strategic alliance with the Latimer Trust and the Fellowship of Word and Spirit has been of crucial importance in restoring the Biblical idea of male headship to its proper place. Well done, Wycliffe! I had always thought that Bishop Jones was a liberal on the idea of female ordination and am thrilled to see that he has now nailed his Biblical colours to the mast. There is still hope for the church.

Posted by: Will Prynne on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 1:28am BST

Will, you have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves. Thank you.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 9:12am BST

Will Prynne wrote: "restoring the Biblical idea of male headship to its proper place. Well done, Wycliffe!"

The only "proper place" for male headship and half-baked other literalist misogynistic ramblings is firmly in the bin!

Why not complete the set Will and get back to the "biblical" interpretations on Slavery too?

(and I know I shouldn't respond to such obvious trolling, but I can't help it).

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 9:58am BST

Will says he is "thrilled to see that he has now nailed his Biblical colours to the mast"

I guess you would prefer it if he nailed them to a fence or got some ditched his biblical colours altogether?

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 10:03am BST

"Will says he is "thrilled to see that he has now nailed his Biblical colours to the mast"

I guess you would prefer it if he nailed them to a fence or got some ditched his biblical colours altogether?"

Sorry, NP, who are you replying to here, and what are you saying?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 12:49pm BST

Things have moved so much that you would think the posting by Will Prynne was an exercise in irony. Then follow the link and the irony goes very dry. And we might think NP was bad enough with his surface rigidity. If Will Prynne is taken at all seriously by anyone, then matters must be in a serious state. Surely even the cackhanded and theologically inspired management at Wycliffe Hall can't agree with this stuff. Or am I being duped: is the website http://www.fows.org/ the sort of spoof I could use some spare time creating for which some humour could be injected towards the end of webpages as the content is made ever more ridiculously extreme?

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 1:59pm BST

Interesting, as Bishop James Jones certainly does support women's ordination and actively ordains women in Liverpool diocese.

Has he changed his mind? Perhaps someone should contact him and ask him to clarify. The Liverpool Echo would certainly be interested if he has altered his stance!

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 2:33pm BST

I still can't figure out if this guy's for real - he posted on Fulcrum as 'IloveMLJ' (MLJ, apparently, is Martyn Lloyd Jones: a hugely popular evangelical firebrand of the mid-c20th) and we were all convinced he must be a hoax. Looks like NP thought so too. If he is genuine then William Prynne, the c17th Puritan pamphleteer, seems like a suitable pseudonym. This was the man who couldn't stop harrassing women: he had his ears cut off after his denunciation of stage actresses in 1633; was wont to collect the stories of debauched nuns; and in 1660 supported the punishment of women who refused to live with their husbands. He never married.
A worthy evangelical hero ...

Posted by: Sarah on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 4:46pm BST

I have had enough.

I propose to Simon that Will Prynne be invited to fill the roll of resident troll. He is so much more authentic - the real thing – rather than the whimpering and whining we have come to associate with NP, who since he abandoned posting under his own name has also abandoned much grace, decency and manners – if that’s the sort of “advantage” you purchase by anonymity then it’s obviously not worth having.

Besides everything else this NP persona has become repetitive, boring and predictable – it’s time he had his cards! Will Prynne looks so much better, more rounded and fully formed (If he's real that is!).

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 6:47pm BST

I seriously doubt that http://www.fows.org/ is in any sense a spoof, but I do rather doubt that the commenter here who on this occasion used the name Will Prynne, but has posted here previously using other names, has any connection at all with the owners of that site.

Thank you Sarah for reminding us who Prynne was.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 6:50pm BST

" ...... since he abandoned posting under his own name." You have my attention, Martin, and I suspect the attention of a few others.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre - Roger Mortimer on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 7:10pm BST

I felt the reply you published from the Bishop of Derby was actually quite disturbing. If the Bishop of Norwich has been 'in close contact' with the Bishop of Liverpool, has he also been 'in close contact' with the people who have been trying to get through to the Bishop of Liverpool - Revd David Wenham, Eva Johns, Clare MacInnes to name a few? Has he been 'in close contact' with Elaine Storkey and Andrew and Lis Goddard? And if he hasn't, has he just got their story and the story of what has been going at Wycliffe from the Bishop of Liverpool? And what about Clare MacInnes' claim that James Jones reported 'seeing off' the investigation. Was this also with the Bishop of Norwich's agreement? All this cosying up of Bishops does not bode well for a proper, impartial inspection I fear. Yet more of the same bland statements is not going to fool anyone now.

Posted by: philbody on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 8:05pm BST

It is a shame to see that Biblical truth is now dismissed as 'trolling'. I have heard that this is a website for liberal Churchmen, but I wasn't expecting to find the Bible mocked.

As NP says quite rightly on another thread 'we cannot deviate from scripture to suit a few people - we trust the Writer of scripture first.' We are living in times when we must look to the Godly remnant in the Church who are holding fast to the perfect Word of God. Principal Turnbull and Vice-Principal Vibert are finally turning back the tide of encroaching liberalism in the evangelical colleges. We should be praising them for putting to the sword the liberalism in our own midst. The strategic alliance gives us hope that Word of God is safe.

The Biblical principle of male headship is unequivocal and clear. The Latimer Trust and the FWS have spoken on this issue, and I suggest you read their affirmation of Biblical orthodoxy:
http://www.latimertrust.org/download/66comment.pdf
(html here: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:ekHveszoxRIJ:www.latimertrust.org/download/66comment.pdf )

As Simon Vibert explains, women and men are both created in the image of God, but the woman must be subordinate to the man, for as the head of man is Christ, the head of woman is man. The Bible tells us that the woman is created after the man, to be a helper to him, and it is an unlawful thing for her to lead a congregation (Gen. 2:18, 1 Cor 14:34-6, 1 Tim 11-12).

I disagree with Simon on the extent to which we must expect the woman to cover her head and remain silent in Church - St Paul is very clear on this in 1 Cor 14:34-6 - but am happy to accept his claim that this was a cultural injunction that can now be discarded. I know that in the hands of Principal Turnbull, +James Jones, and Vice-Principal Vibert Biblical truth is safe.

Posted by: Will Prynne on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 8:35pm BST

let's not just laugh or get angry at will prynne. he has done us a service by directing us to the site http://www.fows.org/

it's well worth having a look there. one of the first things you'll notice is this : FWS Chairman Simon Vibert has been appointed vice-principal at Wycliffe Hall Theological College, Oxford.

then read on and see what is says about women, and pastoral strategy and redemption theology. there is no doubt that the appointment of vibert to WH is the clearest possible indication, coupled with the turnbull speech to reform, that WH is now chosen as the flagship college for reform candidates, and the hall council are not only aware of this but are actively supporting it in their commitment to turnbull and their agreement to these new appointments.

those of us who have watched reform incumbents clear out opposition in their parishes will know what has happened at WH. it is essential that the dismissed and disaffected staff members do not allow themselves to be talked out of fighting for a just outcome from their treatment.

Posted by: poppy tupper on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 9:14pm BST

"...has posted here previously using other names..."

Ah, the "masses" who are in revolt of the liberals.

Now it is starting to look like Home Alone or Bedknobs and Broomsticks where they have to prop up cutouts and fake soldiers to pretend they are a greater multitude than they really are. Or is it a Sybil thing where one or another personality is in ascendance on any one day?

The gap between Korach camp members and others grows wider again. Don't you just love God's patience?

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 11 October 2007 at 9:46pm BST

I'm getting fed up too. I'm asking myself what am I doing even associating myself with opinions that can be of the sort that this so called Will Prynne can justify.

I think I want a punch up. Look Will Prynne, NP and all the like, the New Testament of the Bible is an example of an authentic religious moment that indicates something of ethical value in a situation. Its particularity is just one example of many throughout the world, in religions and in what people just do. If you find that dismissive of the Bible, then tough - some of us think this way. I am fed up with bibliolatry, of magic powers bunged on to words and used constantly as sticks to beat people over the head.

We could be having a set of conversations relating to a range of views that are approximately liberal - liberal evangelical, liberal Catholic, plain liberal, radical, mixtures, don't knows - supporting people who are gay and supporting women (for goodness sake) where a Church community is a microcosm of building a just society.

Will Prynne could have a fruitful debate down at Anglican Mainstream. Crumbs, I'd even give them a few buildings, and they can put their selected one liners all the way around the walls and pass as many resolutions as they like.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 12 October 2007 at 2:07am BST

Martin says "Besides everything else this NP persona has become repetitive, boring and predictable..."

And you are not, Martin?

If we are to listen and debate, we will be repeating our beliefs many times- will we not?

Do you prefer no opposition to liberal views on TA?

Is "listening" to be a one-way exercise?

Posted by: NP on Friday, 12 October 2007 at 9:19am BST

Pluralist

I've started to have dicussions that don't address each and every point raised by certain parties.

Otherwise, it is like with terrorist bombers, if you make peaceful dialogue dependent on the last bomb exploded, all they have to do is one more to stop peaceful discussions happening.

Please keep engaging with the positive souls, and don't allow the negative ones to control the agenda. You can not win with them because they are a closed book, but I love your postings and humour and want to see that continue. :-)

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Friday, 12 October 2007 at 1:12pm BST

Pluralist
"We could be having a set of conversations relating to a range of views that are approximately liberal - liberal evangelical, liberal Catholic, plain liberal, radical, mixtures, don't knows - supporting people who are gay and supporting women (for goodness sake) where a Church community is a microcosm of building a just society."

I don't think this is possible in principle, on a news driven forum like TA. As long as the news is gay dominated, our conversation here will continue like a ping pong ball, never straying far from the core of the disagreement.

But it's a wonderful idea.
Why not start your own blog?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 13 October 2007 at 8:30am BST

Erika

I've loved watching your postings over the last week or so. Welcome Back. Pluralist does some great graphics and has his own website (click on his name).

That said, there are times where it is confusing as to what is the best way forward.

I appreciate both of you and pray that you both find media that suit the gifts and talents God has bestowed on both of you, even if they are different from each other. :-)

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Saturday, 13 October 2007 at 1:14pm BST

Thanks, Cheryl, for your kind words.

And thanks for the tip about Pluralist's blog. It's ages since I've been to his site and it's changed quite a bit since. Brilliant!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 13 October 2007 at 3:42pm BST

Pluralist asks: "Surely even the cackhanded and theologically inspired management at Wycliffe Hall can't agree with this stuff?"

I'm afraid it appears much of the management does. As Poppy points out, a glance over the FOWS website tells us proudly that their Chairman Simon Vibert has just been appointed Vice Principal of Wycliffe Hall. Will Prynne seems to offer some evidence for the kind of views that Vibert supports.

Furthermore, the Latimer Trust, an organisation that operates as very nearly a woman free zone, is now sponsoring studentships and Research Fellows at Wycliffe, with the proviso that award winners must sign their doctrinal basis (a document which seems to trump the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds).

Do read the Trust's Doctrinal Basis: it is a fascinating document, extremely hardline in its neo-Puritan positions.
http://www.latimertrust.org/download/basis.pdf

Some choice clauses:

'Within the church there is a divinely appointed order in which headship roles are given to the male. Not for the purpose of domination over the female, but in order to protect and nourish the body of Christ.'

'We reject all practices (such as the Eastward Position and the use of eucharistic vestments at the Lord's Supper) which imply a
sacerdotal character of the Ministry.'

'We receive the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments in their intended literal sense as the inspired and unerring Word of God''

Incidentally, Andrew Atherstone, Latimer Trust Research Fellow and new Tutor at Wycliffe advertises a new publication he has written, due to be published by the Boydell Press in 2008, entitled 'Rescued from the Brink: The Collapse and Resurgence of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford'. I am sure in the present context this will make for interesting reading!

All this leads me to wonder whether Poppy is right when she suggests that the Hall Council are not only aware that Wycliffe has become the flagship College for Reform ordinands, but are actively supporting it through their commitment to Turnbull and their agreement of the new appointments.

Posted by: Matthew B on Monday, 15 October 2007 at 7:13am BST

Matthew B

You quoted "Within the church there is a divinely appointed order in which headship roles are given to the male. Not for the purpose of domination over the female, but in order to protect and nourish the body of Christ."

I wonder how much of that was to do with legal implications. Namely that women (particularly married) had no legal entity until mid/late last century, so if a woman was "in charge" there was no one with legal stature to protect the institution.

From that framework, male authority came not from their competence, but expediency to ensure the estate was not gobbled up by the local royalty/government/church...

Thus the male "authority" might not have come from "divine" decree but real world pragmatism...

It would be fun to have some historians comment on this postulation or refer us to others who have already explored such avenues...

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 15 October 2007 at 10:54am BST

Matthew B,
Interesting quotes. I would argue the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood is as much a part of the Divinely appointed order, ewven far moreso, than any sense of men being the boss. The second and third atatements you cite are not in anyway Anglican. Fine if they don't claim to be Anglican.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 October 2007 at 2:47pm BST

Cheryl:

I wonder how much of that was to do with legal implications? 'Namely that women (particularly married) had no legal entity until mid/late last century, so if a woman was "in charge" there was no one with legal stature to protect the institution.

This is an interesting question. In the pre 19th century context even having legal status meant little if the Crown wished to dissolve the estate (see Thomas Cromwell). But through the structure of freeholds and glebe land that developed in England, each parish did operate financially as an autonomous unit. Changes to this structure would have had to be approved by Parliament, and I don't know what the precise legal position of the incumbents would be. Since Church property could not be inherited the gender discrimination in the inheritance laws could not be an issue..

The sociological explanations for favouring male headship properly run deeper than this: patriarchal models operated at all level of English society until the 20th century.

Ford:

'I would argue the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood is as much a part of the Divinely appointed order, ewven far moreso, than any sense of men being the boss.'

I absolutely agree.

'Fine if they don't claim to be Anglican.'

Unfortunately they do, and their influence seems to be growing.

Posted by: Matthew B on Monday, 15 October 2007 at 11:22pm BST
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