Sunday, 28 October 2007

chinese whispers on the covenant response

Updated

The Sunday Telegraph has a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined C of E to empower foreign bishops.

The Church of England is set to allow foreign archbishops to intervene in its affairs, secret papers reveal.

Under controversial plans being drawn up by the Church’s bishops, leaders from Africa and South America would be able to take over the care of parishes in this country.

They threaten to end the historic power of bishops to have ultimate control over their dioceses because parishes could ask for overseas prelates to carry out important duties, such as leading ordination services.

The proposals are part of a covenant or rule book of beliefs that has been endorsed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as a last ditch attempt to prevent the Anglican Church from splitting over gay clergy…

Episcopal Café has reported on this as Let’s see who salutes while epiScope has Telegraph plays telephone…?

Watch for clarifications to emerge…

Reminder: at the CofE General Synod in July the covenant draft was discussed with this outcome, and further reports are linked here.

Update
For clarification, see both the comment by Pete Broadbent below, and his comment here on Fulcrum.

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Comments

I am sure that in a strict journalistic sense the sources are there - but as usual with The (Sunday) Telegraph the interpretation is awry - in reality the permission of the Diocesan would be needed - the "Bishop" involved in the Southwark case was not from an Anglican Diocese - it doesn't seem to connect with the Chelmsford case either which was a fairly straightforward "set-up" rather than a fundamental traditionalist matter of conscience.

Posted by: Tom Allen on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 1:40pm GMT

Very good news: Dr Williams has realised that the Bible believing churches must be catered for! I thought this would happen after Williams moved in favour of Coekin. Finally liberalism is being rolled back, and clerics that repudiate the Bible held to account.

Note that "those who have erred" will be "brought to repentance, healing and restoration", and "those who refuse to abide by the rule book will be effectively expelled from the communion."

A shame though that righteous bishops cannot be found within England to do the oversight. But it will be good to have Godly voices like +Jenson and +Akinola involved much more closely in the C of E.

Posted by: Will Prynne on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 2:14pm GMT

It hardly needs saying that such a set of papers of a proposal, if true, would fly in the face of the advice to Bishop John Howe, which caused so much controversy - that the bishop is prince in the diocese and after that it's the Anglican Communion and Windsor process compliance of everyone agreeing to keep together (the Covenant's intentions).

My guess is that there is nothing in this whatsoever, because if there was then the mess (the Windsor process, Covenant and TEC and all that) that became chaos (the National Churches were abstract) that became confusion (a limited retraction) would become meltdown (anything goes and it's a total shambles).

My suspicion would be that such papers are an invention, and if so would be machiavellianism to push Reform's agenda, but if this is not so, and there is truth in it, then the lunatics are running the asylum. It would make Wycliffe College look rational and well thought through.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 3:11pm GMT

This isn't the language of the House of Bishops, only maybe of a few in it:

The House of Bishops paper, which is responding to the idea of an Anglican Covenant for the worldwide Church, also emphasised the need for a means to discipline provinces that refuse to toe the line.

This would ensure that "those who have erred are brought to repentance, healing and restoration", but adds that those who refuse to abide by the rule book will be effectively expelled from the communion.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 3:16pm GMT

"The proposals have been drawn up by the Church’s Theological Group, chaired by the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, as its response to the Anglican Covenant."

Who put the arsonists in charge of the fire brigade?

Posted by: badman on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 4:01pm GMT

ST - "The Church of England is set to allow foreign archbishops to intervene in its affairs, secret papers reveal."

Papers so secret that the Sunday Telegraph knows what's in them! So not very secret then, eh? Anyone remember the adage about one person knowing something, it's a secret; more than one knowing it, "sure t'aint a secret no more."

Seriously though, this sounds like a lot of wishful thinking (and spoiling) on the part of the Puritans (oops, sorry, Reform). I can't see such a scheme ever getting past General Synod. Come to think of it, Parliament might have a view too.

Posted by: RPNewark on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 4:58pm GMT

I've done my own comment. Hope you can tell who the cartoon suggests.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/10/fragile-times-telegraph.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 6:40pm GMT

To do this proposal justice, it makes just about the same demands of the Church of England that the Dar es Salaam Primates' Communique made of The Episcopal Church. That Communique wished to legitimize North American bishoprics with multiple, overlapping jurisdictions within the same geographical territory, many of which would report to overseas Archbishops.

Assuming that ++Rowan has no problem imposing this sort of structure on the Americans, could he possibly have a problem imposing it on the Church of England? Thus ++Rowan could have no problem if Bishop Nazir-Ali, for example, were to remain in the See of Rochester, in undisturbed possession and enjoyment of all the tithes, usufructs, and tchotchkis thereof, but reported to the Archbishop of Uganda instead of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The rest of his people would gather around their Bishop, except perhaps for some fraction who wished to gather around a Bishop reporting to the Anglican Church of Canada. (Or South Africa. Or New Zealand. Why not all three? or four? or dozens?)

If ++Rowan's letter to Bishop John Howe did legitimate this sort of decentralization (and I'm not convinced it did), then, given the clarification from Lambeth Palace, I suppose we can assume this is the way Anglicans have always done it.

On the other hand, Reform might be speaking as if they were the Church. Somehow that seems more likely.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 7:44pm GMT

But I forgot the great bit from "Yes, Prime Minister" (Paul Eddington got to do this one--)

"...The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it already is."

So is the Sunday Telegraph read by people who think the Church of England ought to be run by another country? Or by people who think it already is?

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 7:56pm GMT

You can guarantee that such a paper exists. There is no reason to believe that those who have moved so radically into the TEC's territory would not be doing scenario planning for every territory.

There are some who are probably ticking that they "control" their diocese or nation, so don't need intervention. Other territories where they control the numbers or where ignorance has enabled misinformation and misrepresentation to keep the waters muddied and confused so souls will cling to the status quo. Other areas have thought through the theology more carefully, and those areas will obviously require "surgery".

The big question is whether ABC and Sentamu are in on it? Or are they little pawns that others control, move, neutralise or eliminate? Only time will tell, based on the public face of New Orleans and the private face of correspondence to Howe, I wouldn't trust a statement even if I saw one.

Liked the arsonist imagery badman. You know, Daniel 7 refers to a fourth king that would arise to devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it (7:23). He will be different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings (Moses, Jesus and Mohammad?) ...speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time..." (7:24-25)

This boastful king is also referred to in Daniel 11:36-37 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all."

Yet, we are told that the Ancient of Days comes to pronounce judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, power was taken from the destructive boastful beast and returned to the saints who love God's covenants for peace. God willing, we live to see the everlasting covenants of peace made manifest. The high priest who can survive in the holy presence of the Ancient of Days honors the Father and is honestly committed to everlasting peace.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 7:59pm GMT

It seems there would be a few carrying torches and pitchforks who would latch onto this proposed perversion of Christianity as a reason to start the English version of the Spanish Inquisition.

Therefore, I very much doubt that it will succeed in a land that has soundly rejected the Puritans before.

Dream on, Brother Prynne.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 8:45pm GMT

All is not, of course, as it seems. It's a House of Bishops document from October, discussing how we frame a response to the Covenant, and what content needs to be in any such response. It comes from the HOB theological group, who always work on this sort of stuff for the House.

As one of 32 comments on the text, the HoB document says that we need to ensure that the final version of the Covenant addresses intervention throughout the Communion [of course, it has to do so]. It suggests an insertion which broadly runs with the Windsor understanding, and would commit signatories of the Covenant to refrain from interventions in other provinces except in extraordinary circumstances where such intervention has been specifically authorised.

Which is hardly a news story - because it's a logical follow-on from Windsor. If a Covenant is going to be developed along Windsor lines, it would need such provisions in place. Not exactly a mandate for intervention anywhere, and hardly the news that schismatics are looking for. But why spoil a good story?

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 8:49pm GMT

Bishop Pete Broadbent's comment on Fulcrum is worth reading, showing just how a journalist can make a story out of quotations out of context.

Does anyone believe ANYTHING printed in the Torygraph?

Posted by: cryptogram on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 9:25pm GMT

Now Big ++Pete, ++Henry Luke and ++Emmanuel will be running amok in England, too. What else does it take to upset the apple cart, i.e., the Henrician settlement? A Welshman at Lambeth Palace and a Scot at 10 Downing Street?

Posted by: John Henry on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 10:45pm GMT

Here is unofficial comment, which shows that there is a document, it is preparing for the Covenant, but the stress (while considering foreign intervention) is that foreign intervention would have to be authorised by the instruments of Communion. I'm sure any so affected national Church would tell such an intervening Communion where to put itself.

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=4819

Meanwhile Reform will be so disappointed all over again.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 28 October 2007 at 11:37pm GMT

If we're going to let foreign bishops have jurisdiction, does that mean we can ask the Pope to take over the English Church again? Since Henry VIII's whole point was that the Pope had no power in England, should we take that back and let the Pope in? After all, he's a validly consecrated bishop--what would stop him or other Roman Catholics from taking over English, Canadian, or American parishes? Particularly if those parishes don't ordain women--why couldn't they just become Anglican/Roman Catholic?

Posted by: Ashpenaz on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 12:48am GMT

No way, it just doesn't fit. Why would the ABC refuse invitations to irregularly installed bishops in the US and then turn around and give assent to basically the same strategy over there. Did someone mention a machiavellian scheme? That's my guess too. It's an unbelievable, intimidation tactic.

Posted by: Curtis on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 2:09am GMT

Another brilliant piece of art from the talented painter Pluralist.....you should send +Michael a print, sure he would love it.

Rumours....not worth worrying too much about them.
We are nearly at the end of October so the big news is that we are going to hear the results of the ABC's tele-polling of the Primates..........has he been able to see JSC fudge or not? We know the chaps in Ireland and Wales are buyers....but what of CAPA (37m Anglicans) and even Australia (where +Jenses has 40% of the country's Anglicans in Sydney diocese....) Rumours matter nothing compared to what the "ABC Call Centre" has found out from the Primates...hope we get the results soon.

Posted by: NP on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 7:11am GMT

Will Prynne: you do seem to be on planet Puritania Minora rather than Anglicana Felix. Dividing everyone up into the righteous bible-believers and the unrighteous liberals isn't very wise, is it? Did you listen to the Gospel reading in church yesterday - the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector? Which of the two does Jesus ask us to emulate?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 8:38am GMT

"Rumours....not worth worrying too much about them."

Unless of course they are rumours of smoe great liberal scheme to take over TEC and destroy the Church. Unless it's rumours about the pious righteous ones being silenced and marginalized by aforesaid liberals. Then it would appear you worry about them very much. But such rumours feed your persecution complex.

And, Fr. Mark,

"Dividing everyone up into the righteous bible-believers and the unrighteous liberals isn't very wise, is it?"

It is actually very wise. As Evangelicals once told us in repsonse to an invitation to an ecumenical event, "we don't associate with the unGodly". Puts one's salvation in jeopardy.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 11:44am GMT

Somewhat elaborate denial from Bishop Broadbent, automatic denial from NP calling people "chaps".

Together, they can't be right!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 11:54am GMT

Very true Fr Mark. We should emulate the man who was doctrinally correct in his understanding of sin and the need for personal salvation.

Posted by: Chris on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 12:00pm GMT

There are two issues crossing over here, one potentially compatible with what the Archbishop said, and one not.

The compatible one, potentially, would be a bishop in the diocese who decides to change allegiance to an outside foreign Church. The clarification from the Archbishop about "unity of canon law" might frustrate that. It is not very likely; the national Church would declare the diocese vacant.

The other is a sitting bishop who finds another bishop from abroad doing the overseeing for some of the congregations. This goes against what the Archbishop said, though it is what the House of Bishops theological group document discusses (so it seems) about which there would be moves to provide authorisation.

But authorisation by whom? By the Anglican Communion but not by a national Church? That indeed would be intervention.

This is clearly not about Reform and its agonisings, and they would have to do this seeking an "English solution" to their own problem or a foreign one themselves.

If (the main issue) the status of The Episcopal Church was decided as semi-detached or detached, and then the Anglican Communion decided to authorise foreign interventions into the USA, it would be pretty clear that TEC would tell the Anglican Communion where to go.

(As regards the picture on my blog - simple cartooning using no more than MS Paint and then turning it into a .gif - thank you for the compliment NP. Anyone is welcome to click on and extract the pictures I do.)

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 2:36pm GMT

Fr Mark

Those of us who recognised 'Bible Sunday' had Jesus opening the scroll of Isaiah ...

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 5:31pm GMT

"We should emulate the man who was doctrinally correct in his understanding of sin and the need for personal salvation"

But, from where I sit, it's those who so loudly trumpet the conservative line who are the people who do NOT do this. Sorry, but the claims to holiness of the Right sound very much like the Pharisee to me. So does TEC's fervent claims of "prophetic" knowledge, by the way. Emulation of the Publican acknowledges our own brokenness, not repeated condemnations of everyone else's. And what's "personal salvation" anyway? In so far as Christ died for the redemption of all Creation, the idea of "personal salvation" seems, well, pretty modern. But we've been down the road of my issues with "Jesus as personal Saviour" before.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 5:33pm GMT

Ford - I am quite consistent in not wasting time on rumours.....

Anyway, unless Rowan can pull yet another delaying rabbit from his mitre and keep us all waiting for yet another year while some committee or other meets, we will soon know, God willing, that most Primates of the AC have said that TEC HOB NO statement was exactly that....TECUSA has said "no" to the Primates and remains in impaired communion with many of us in the AC......maybe we will get closer to the sort of fellowship we can read about in 1John1 following.

Posted by: NP on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 5:41pm GMT

Mark Bennet

Thanks for letting me know. Could it be then, one wonders, that Bible Sunday is in fact an elaborate ploy dreamt up for the express purpose of preventing Conservative Evangelicals from ever hearing the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector...?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 7:40pm GMT

Thanks Pete for referring us to the actual text proposed text: "we commit ourselves to refrain from intervening in the life of other Anglican churches except in extraordinary circumstances where such intervention has been specifically authorised by the relevant instruments of Communion."

The problem is not in the text, but who is intending to wield the scroll and what they intend to do with it.

I've spent a lot of the last few days thinking about puritan theology and decided that it is not puritanism that I have a problem with. I am ridiculously fond of the Amish and passionate about protecting gentle orthodox Judaism.

My problem is not with puritanism, it is with violence and aggression.

It just happens that when you get a marriage between puritanism, elitism and aggression; you get the most accusatory and repressive tyrannical regimes that humanity has ever witnessed.

Fr Mark thanks for reminding us that Jesus chose to open the scrolls at Isaiah. His first public words? “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:17-20).

When John the Baptist's messengers sought Jesus words to take back to John, what message did Jesus send? "“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Luke 7:20-23)

What did Jesus offer the Daughter of Zion? Gentleness riding on the colt of a donkey. (Matthew 21:5 & John 12:14-16)

Read Matthew 5, how can souls justify going to communion whilst denying legal rights and using the pulpit to spew out hate?

If souls want to cling to one passage, then let it be Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 8:14pm GMT

Fr Mark

I can't answer for others, but conspiracy theorists will no doubt note that

(a) both readings could have been avoided by transferring St Simon and St Jude to Sunday

(b) 'Bible Sunday' in BCP was/is 2nd Sunday in Advent and goes with Luke 21.25-33, while Luke 18.9-14 in BCP Sunday Lectionary comes at 11 After Trinity.

I was fortunate enough to be conducting a baptism and referred to both Scripture and Prayer as treasures of the Christian Tradition and resources for the Christian life - and spoke a little about the right use of these resources. But then I'm an opportunist rather than a conspiracy theorist.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Monday, 29 October 2007 at 10:23pm GMT

This opens the doors to us poaching progressive parishes and dioceses for the Episcopal Church. If Nigeria can have the rightwingers, then we get the sane progressives. Because as soon as the doors are open for fundamentalist bishops to exercise authority in England then, for the sake of the faithful remnant, we need to put progressive oversight into place in England, too.

Posted by: Dennis on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 1:24am GMT

Can't stand conspiracy theories.

But one way to dumb down theology is to have a mouse in wheel theology program that covers every Sunday. That way you never have to deal with uncomfortable biblical passages that might contradict accusatory or violence condoning theology.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 7:06am GMT

Mark Bennet:

Ah well, another ecclesiastical conspiracy theory bites the dust... only a few thousand more to go. I'm surprised we haven't got a group of fanatical schismatic Old Lectionarists on here somewhere.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 8:29am GMT

Why is NP so hung up about the attitude of Wales and Ireland? Being among the most ancient parts of the Anglican Communion seems to rankle with the "new-comers"?

Posted by: daithi on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 8:40am GMT

"First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

I'm sure there's an elaborate way of showing that "my brother" doesn't mean everyone, just as there are some people who aren't "my neighbour".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 9:24am GMT

Mark Bennet wrote: both readings could have been avoided by transferring St Simon and St Jude to Sunday.

Surely, Mark, that should have read, "both readings could have been avoided by NOT transferring St Simon and St Jude TO Monday."

P.S. Sounded like a good sermon for SM's.

Posted by: RPNewark on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 9:30am GMT

daithi - no, I just find it hard to be lectured by people who represent so few....

A few thousand in the diocese of NH elect someone.....and the Anglican Communion is brought to the brink of schism.....this does not make sensen - the tail seems to wag the dog too often in the AC

Maybe this is why a Covenant is on the table....to make the AC function more properly and not be at the mercy of the decisions of small groups.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 9:42am GMT

The references to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector remind me that once, visiting a somewhat low church, I actually heard the preacher (the curate) say we should be glad that we know we are sinners, like the tax collector, and not full of a sense of righteousness like the Pharisee.

He was not being ironical.

Posted by: cryptogram on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 9:43am GMT

"a group of fanatical schismatic Old Lectionarists"

someone call?:-)

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 11:04am GMT

"I am quite consistent in not wasting time on rumours"

Mary, please! Sorry to get all gay on you, but really! One of the pillars of your entire position is the RUMOUR that TEC is controlled by a bunch of faithless heathens who are plotting the destruction of the Church! You have no evidence for this other than the shrill Jeremiads of those you consider good leaders, and whose talent seems to be in distorting the truth for their own ends. You spend all your time on rumours.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 12:11pm GMT

NP-
I've looked around and not seen too much on the HoB statment one way or the other. Many seem to accept it on it's face, others do not. Neither group make up a majority.
I would also counsel you to be careful, the last Primates comunique was written to keep ONE Primate happy. Even for that it is full of qualifiers.
Now, shall we finaly get down to discussing the Lollardy in Australia or the rampant Evangelical donatism and docetism? Those may be less "fun" but are far more toxic to the Church than a gay bishop.

Posted by: John robison on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 1:16pm GMT

"I just find it hard to be lectured by people who represent so few"

And who, other than here in response to your antagonism, is lecturing you about anything? And why is it that the majority gets to rule? You can find lots of places in history, even just in Church history, where the majority were wrong. Even now Protestants are a minority in Christianity. At the Reformation there were far fewer. The Reformers represented few. Why do you not find it hard to be lectured to by them? I imagine the Popes of those days found it hard to be lectured to by those who represented so few. Don't pick one question, answer them all.

"the Anglican Communion is brought to the brink of schism"

And you see no responsibillity at all on the right for this situation? It's all the fault of the EHBLs in TEC?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 5:52pm GMT

The interesting thing about the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is that, the instant we identify ourselves with one of the characters, we take on the characteristics of the other. If we see ourselves as the vain and boasting Pharisee, we are penitent like the Publican. If we perceive ourselves as truly penitent, we have assumed the vainglorious boasting of the Pharisee.

Here Jesus commends the outcast and condemns the respectable person. So, seeking to model my life on that best exemplar, do I stand with those who would cast out others, or with those who would be cast out?

Glad to be back, and amused to see that nothing has changed.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 5:54pm GMT

Cryptogram: you seem surprised that a preacher suggested we should be glad to be like the tax collector rather than the Pharisee. I thought that was the point: the humble sinning tax collector is the one described as justified by Jesus, and not the law-abiding self-righteous Pharisee.
NP: I wouldn't go on about numbers all the time, if I were you. The vast majority of English Anglicans are liberal on the gay issue. The Bishops do not reflect the views of the 25 million people in England who describe themselves as Anglican at all when it comes to sexual orientation: England is a liberal country, and its bishops merely old-fashioned and out of touch. Don't dignify being outdated and unrepresentative with the clothes of a theological argument: it isn't that at all. It's just that the bishops are all at sea in the world of modern sexual ethics, and don't have anything coherent to say about them to the wider English society at all. That being the case, you would think they might just be meek about it, wouldn't you, instead of getting their purple knickers in such a twist about equal treatment for gay people?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 7:10pm GMT

"A few thousand in the diocese of NH elect someone.....and the Anglican Communion is brought to the brink of schism.....this does not make sensen - the tail seems to wag the dog too often in the AC..."

Don't you mean, rather, that the AC is brought to schism because certain people are under the belief that the actions of a few thousand in the diocese of NH--in choosing a leader through its established polity and presumably the working of the Spirit--somehow threatens their time-honored and cherished belief that the Spirit shares their abhorrence of a particular class of people based solely on their God-given sexual preferences?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 7:43pm GMT

RPNewark

Do I know you? If so a mutual friend Margaret keeps me up to date with the news, and I owe you a phone call.

I'd hang my head in shame alone, if I hadn't noticed today that the 2008 Parson's Pocket Book has failed to flag Ash Wednesday - maybe I've got a rogue one!

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Tuesday, 30 October 2007 at 9:52pm GMT

Mark - so the CofE must run itself to please 25m who call themselves Anglican but never turn up? The CofE does not represent 25m......less than 10% of that no turn up each week so the CofE actually represents less than 3% of the UK population (still, better than TEC at 0.9/301=0.3% of the US population come each week...) Do you think the ABC would have got J John to stand down if he could have avoided that.....and he would have avoided that if he had the support you imagine there is for a particular agenda.

Ford/Pat....again and again, you can attack whatever people or groups you like, and so avoid the issue, but the fact is that it is SCRIPTURE that is the issue....Lambeth 1.10 says certain behaviour is "incompatible with scripture"....the AC is being brought to schism by small groups which reject what Lambeth 1.10 says in this regard while most of the AC is in line with most other Christians in the world and 2000 years of tradition(including the RCs) and believe Lambeth 1.10 is right....as affirmed in The Windsor Report.....the AC has to make a decision as to whether it is content to have some clergy and bishops teach that what Lambeth 1.10 says is "incompatible with scripture" is (all of a sudden) actually good, holy, acceptable to God

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 7:27am GMT

NP

You raise a very interesting question about numbers, which goes back a long way. In the history of Synodical Government of the Church, when there were debates about involving the laity in church government and the Church Assembly there was a big debate about whether the Electoral Roll should be based on regular membership and confirmation, or on Baptism and residence.

As you probably realise, the wide franchise won the day - and the general population have rights in relation to the church, as well as the church having duties in respect of the populus. (Rights to marry in church, because all marriage is seen as 'a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace' - I have a duty to Baptise children set out in the Book of Common Prayer). The "cure of souls" with which the Bishop charged me when I was licensed to my current post makes me Priest-in-Charge of a parish, not chaplain to the congregation.

So when you are using numbers about the Church you need to understand how these subtleties are woven into the fabric of the Church of England. They don't make the numbers any easier, but they do make it difficult to make points with sharp rhetoric. You may disagree, and indeed may wish that previous decisions in the Church had been taken differently. Some would disestablish, for example. But our anglican ecclesiology tends to be more implicit than the function of explicit agreement and it is easy to miss the subtlety.

And to go back to the subject of the thread, this does include the territorial jurisdiction of diocesan bishops as a major element - so modifications would be a serious matter. It crossed my mind that structural provision of the oversight of foreign bishops might require primary legislation - or that Parliament might take that view of the matter, since it might impact on all kinds of things like oaths of allegiance and Canon A7 (Of the Royal Supremacy).

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 8:58am GMT

NP: on Jeffrey John - I was in Oxford Diocese at the time, and only a VERY small minority of parishes disapproved of his appointment (the parish priests of only 3 out 13 Oxford Deanery patishes, for example). Those 3 vicars caused a lot of anger and frustration to the others, straining good relations by their bolshiness.
The very angry very loud Conservative Evangelicals are trying to exert an influence way beyond their numbers simply by shouting at everyone all the time. If you're going to be obsessed with counting numbers, you need to take into account the irregularly attending Anglicans, because if the number of regular attenders is ever going to grow (which should be a pressing priority for the C of E), where is the growth going to come from? At the moment, it is only new immigrant communities which seem to be contributing to growth. Beyond that, there are two groups to look for: the unchurched and the occasional attenders. Both groups in England are liberal on the gay issue - you simply will never attract English people into churches by taking well-adjusted members of a non-discriminating society and then telling them they have to be anti-gay to go to church. It's not just whether the potential churchgoers are themselves gay, it's that they will have friends, family, colleagues who are decent ethical people who happen to be gay. Trying to turn the Church into the last redoubt of society not to be able to accept them on equal terms is nothing short of suicidal for the C of E: you cannot do that and expect to be the church of the English nation. If bishops and priests want to lose all social influence and retreat to behind firmly-closed church doors, then the current anti-gay policy of the C of E is the surest way to do it. It is a disaster, pastorally and pragmatically as well as
theologically. We are being led on this issues by people who have the least sense about it. Perhaps the Church should have its policies on gay people drawn up by its gay members themselves?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 9:02am GMT

Fr Mark
By now I hope you will have read Fr Malcolm's post, immediately above your own.

Posted by: cryptogram on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 9:43am GMT

Mark Bennet - thanks for your reply. I think nos matter because I think God blesses his word being preached faithfully....so in the CofE we have seen decades of stong growth in evangelical (conservative, charismatic) churches. When I see decades of decline in "liberal" churches and some of their leaders asking the AC to depart from scripture, I am not convinced it is wise ot depart from scripture.... as I want to see more, not fewer, reached for the gospel.

Mark - so if it was a small minority which opposed J John, why did +Harries and the ABC go back on their plan? I doubt they would have betrayed an old friend with whom they agree on the presenting issues to please a loud minority.

For all you say, you should be aware that Ebbes and Aldates in Oxford get many newcomers and see new Christians every year (praise God!).....God seems to be using them much more in reaching the unchurched than "liberal" churches in Oxford - is this not so? Why should those churches change and become more like the declining churches in the diocese? (and the OICCU gets many many times as many Oxford students as the liberal-dominated chapels...but they are all abut choir music mostly)

Here are TEC nos from TEC (less than 0.3% of the US population......and shrinking.......I thought they had an attractive message in tune with modern America???)

"According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005."
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_91421_ENG_HTM.htm

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 10:14am GMT

"...the AC has to make a decision as to whether it is content to have some clergy and bishops teach that what Lambeth 1.10 says is "incompatible with scripture" is (all of a sudden) actually good, holy, acceptable to God"

And, once again, Lambeth 1.10 is treated by NP as if it, by itself, were holy writ. It is not. Individuals...including individual bishops...are free to disagree with it.

It is not the disagreement that is causing problems. It is the insistence of others that the disagreement makes it impossible for the two sides to exist in the same church.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 10:46am GMT

NP harps constantly on numbers attending CofE churches as if all those attending services and certainly all growing churches were of like mind to himself, which is simply not true. Attendances depend on many things not just or even mainly what he chooses to call Biblical orthodoxy. There are many thriving churches that he would damn as liberal and many dying evangelical churches.
If he ever cares to read my book A Church at War, published three years ago, he would see that the letters supportive of Jeffrey John's appointment far outweighed - by a majority of two to one - those critical of it (majority numbers being something NP evidently understands). He might also observe (pages 155ff) details of the authoritative British Social Attitudes survey for 2000 - this is a survey that has been conducted on a regular basis - which shows not only that increasing proportions of the public at large are accepting of homosexuality but that, among Anglicans, younger church-goers in their teens and twenties are more accepting of homosexuality than their non church-going contemporaries and the only group of church goers that hold higher anti-gay attitudes than the community at large are those over the age of 60. This, as far as I know, is the only survey of its kind in recent years.
My book also quotes a senior churchman saying (p11): "We have a special relationship with the cultural life of our country and we must not fall out of step with this if we are not to become absurd and incredible." Well said Rowan Williams!

Posted by: Stephen Bates on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 11:01am GMT

Lambeth 1.10 might have more general credibility if it were noticed that it invites the Church to engage in a listening process. It is ironic that the title of a resolution with listening at its core should become another slogan in a war of words!

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 11:19am GMT

So, Stephen Bates....why did +Harries and the ABC go against their own consciences and betray an old friend if they had so much support for J John becoming +Reading?
(surely a loud minority would not lead them to take the extreme steps they took....and the ABC has followed up with Dromantine, TWR, Tanzania and the upcoming Covenant....and saying that TECUSA is not as important as individual dioceses in communion with Canterbury!)

I love being told that evos are out of step with society......just look at the TEC nos from TEC itself... they are so in tune with modern American society that 0.29% (and falling) turn up each Sunday......

Posted by: NP on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 11:31am GMT

Pat O'Neill: "And, once again, Lambeth 1.10 is treated by NP as if it, by itself, were holy writ. It is not."

Mark Bennet: "Lambeth 1.10 might have more general credibility if it were noticed that it invites the Church to engage in a listening process."

But then, of course, the neo-puritans (NP) have always been highly selective of the parts of holy writ, be that the Bible or Lambeth 1.10, that they have trumpeted long and loud in their (failed) attempts to turn the Church of England into their own personal fiefdom.

(Yes, Mark, we share a mutual friend in Margaret.)

Posted by: RPNewark on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 2:58pm GMT

NP: I think you'll have to read my book to find out. Have you read it? You might learn something if you do. Or is that yet another question you can't answer?
I think most things I've written in the last four years would tell you a bit about why the Archbishop has acted in the way he has.Incidentally, Bishop Harries did not "betray" Jeffrey John.
I am not sure that most of those you support in the small minority of dissident factions of the US Episcopal Church could be described as evangelicals in British terms, or that the US church has ever been a majority denomination in its history. Nor are those who might be described as evangelicals in denominations such as the Southern Baptists.
And, since numbers is your game - you must work in a bank! - of course the CofE had much higher attendance rates in the 1940s, '50s and '60s when it was a church dominated by Anglo-Catholics. George Carey's decade of evangelisation was a great success though, wasn't it?

Posted by: stephen bates on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 3:06pm GMT

Here we are again, descended again to bad theology and bad sociology.

The bad sociology is that in being in tune with society - relevant to relevance, even incarnational theology - that this should result in numbers turning up at churches. Of course not.

In the United States, a communal and gregarious society has seen secularisation within a number of denominations, on a larger basis than in Europe. The reason is class, rejection of class, and Churches' association with class in Europe, even a gender issue of Churches and femininity in Europe, where in the US a classless middle class and masculinity of frontier religion has given a stronger church base - therefore secularisation within. Also, it gives a stronger fundamentalism too - macho, associational, group identity.

In east Hull there are a number of evangelical churches that go nowhere. The magic formula does not work. There is not a nucleus of well prosperous reasonably educated people for whom Christianity gives this bright meaning of progress and satisfaction. To the west, outside of Hull proper, this exists and a church then acts as a vacuum cleaner of recycling. It is all very impressive, but it is not impressive at all.

Theologically, it is surface stuff. It is gas - words about sin and righteousness, and incoming money, and, in the end, power. Sociologically, it is attraction of identity and going places.

Why did they run away from consecrating Jeffrey John? Because there are noisy centres of power. However, look how much this flight from a truth has cost and the damage it has done. Look at the damage of the intensifying contradictions over bishops, and dioceses and Communions and performance of belief.

A priest stands in front of a congregation and thinks, "standards of expectations and performance", I'd better be 'orthodox', and a congregation, many of whom puzzle over life's meaning says, "he ought to be 'orthodox', to perform". No. They should all stop the institutional shadow-play and tackle the puzzles and the difficulties and what does not add up. What's in that ancient book? It's one way of looking at those depths of contradictions it contains and which assists when we also look at our contradictions.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 3:44pm GMT

NP must have studied under former Bush advisor Karl Rove, as he/she has such a fluid way of distorting statistics, and other information, as the base of making all kinds of assertions about what the Episcopal Church's numbers mean in the grand scheme of American religious practice.

This thread's concept, regarding a purported plan to allow foreign bishops to poach parishes in dioceses of the Church of England, is equally fascinating. Until now, this was mainly a concept of the ultimate possibility identified by some posters, if the foreign invaders perversion of the rights of Anglican Provinces was allowed to go forward.

Now it may become a reality for the English people, and their inevitable negative reaction, combined with the likely reaction of Parliament, may do more to drive a wooden stake into the heart of this cons-evo vampire than poor American or Canada could ever do themselves.

Well done, Puritans.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 5:36pm GMT

"Here are TEC nos from TEC (less than 0.3% of the US population......and shrinking.......I thought they had an attractive message in tune with modern America???)

"According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005."
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_91421_ENG_HTM.htm"

This data only has relevance when compared to the numbers for all Americans who attend any church at all. Is TEC declining faster than church attendance over all? Or is it declining at the same rate? Or actually declining at a slower rate?

And where is it losing its members to? Death? Other churches? No church at all?

I don't know the answers to the questions in the first paragraph. But I'm pretty certain the answer in the second paragraph is "death"...given that the numbers for the decline seem to be in line with the difference between deaths and births in American society in general.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 8:11pm GMT

Fr. Mark said: "[Y]ou seem surprised that a preacher suggested we should be glad to be like the tax collector rather than the Pharisee. I thought that was the point: the humble sinning tax collector is the one described as justified by Jesus, and not the law-abiding self-righteous Pharisee."


You are right that Jesus calls us to emulate the penitent attitude of the Publican rather than the self-righteous pride of the Pharisee.

However, as soon as we identify ourselves with the Publican (as opposed to seeking to emulate the Publican), we inevitably fall into that Pharisaic pride which persuades us that we are superior and that our spiritual state is superior to those lesser persons.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 31 October 2007 at 11:01pm GMT

I think Malcolm well describes the conundrum.

Repent, be pure and sin no more, and become full or pride and lose empathy with "weaker" souls than yourself.

Accept you can not heal or your sins, so give up on working on any of them, and become so complacent that God dismisses you for failing to even try.

I think that the reality for most of us is that we vacillate between the two tendencies. We have good days and feel proud and grateful that things have gone well, especially when we are suffering by "repenting" of a past problem. Then we have other days that we just don't seem to be able to cut it and things just keep going wrong, despite our best efforts.

I think most of us just end up being grateful if we don't botch things too badly and hope we'll do a better job the next day.

Some of us choose to remain amongst the sinners because the "pure" just seem so nasty that it is better to be with the fallen and trying than with the arrogant and gloating over others' weaknesses.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 1 November 2007 at 8:34am GMT

"I think most of us just end up being grateful if we don't botch things too badly and hope we'll do a better job the next day."

I think this is one of those extreme comments Jesus made to highlight a problem, but it is not one we can truly follow.
Compared to Absolut Good we all fail, we know that. The choice cannot be that stark if it's to remain psychologically credible.

The simple act of deciding not to become rigid and self satisfied already implies a judgement against the Pharisee in the story, and an intention on our part not to become like him, therefore identifying more with the tax collector. And yet, if we don't make that choice, that positive identification with the tax collector, we're bound to remain Pharisees.

Isn't the real point of this to avoid becoming rigid, self satisfied and judgmental of everyone else, and instead retaining or developing the ability of self criticism and change?

Some days I feel like the Pharisee, others like the tax collector - hands up who doesn't! I would almost go as far as to say that those who believe they're only ever Pharisees are as out of touch with themselves as those who believe they are always the tax collector.

I just hope and pray I will never lose the willingness to recognise error, change my mind and grow.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 1 November 2007 at 9:51am GMT
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