Monday, 29 August 2016

Conservative evangelicals to form "shadow synod"

Updated again Wednesday evening

John Bingham of the Telegraph reports: Church of England parishes consider first step to break away over sexuality.

A group of parishes is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over issues such as homosexuality, with the creation of a new “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teaching.

Representatives of almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.

Organisers, drawn from the conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, say they have no immediate plans to break away - but are setting up the “embryonic” structures that could be used to do so if the established church moves further in what they see as a liberal direction…

There is a further report with some additional usefui background information from Ruth Gledhill in Christian Today Anglicans consider new synod to oppose gay marriage

…In England, there is already a number of conservative groups such as the Church Society, and Reform. Dr Sanlon has written for the Church Society.

There are also the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which is signed up to Gafcon’s Jerusalem Statement and Declaration, and the Anglican Mission in England, a mission society promoting gospel growth in England.

Anglican Mainstream is a fifth…

…A spokesman for Anglican Mainstream said: “This is not an initiative organised or directed by Gafcon.”

But he said there were many similarities between them and Gafcon.

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

According to the Daily Mail:

…A Church of England spokeswoman said: “The Shared Conversations process over the last two years included the participation of over 1,300 members of the church in regional and national settings.
“Through those conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the Church conducts whatever further formal discussions take place in the future.
“The Church of England is episcopally led and synodically governed. Within that structure, many like-minded parishes join together in a range of organisations, meetings and assemblies to share mutual support and debate.”

Readers who want to know more about the views of the organiser of this event may find this book review of interest.

Updates

Andy Lines, the Chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force has issued this statement.

Andy Lines is employed as Mission Director of Crosslinks, and has PtO in Southwark diocese, but according to Crockfords has served only in South America, and has never held any parochial office in the Church of England.

Read the GAFCON Chairman’s August letter in full for comment on the CofE.

And this from GAFCON UK.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 6:07pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Peter Sanlon, in his book review of 'Amazing Love':

"In reality the book has a much larger goal. The goal is nothing less than a wholesale revision of the Christian Faith into a different religion."

That is a pretty extreme view, held by a minority that feels beleaguered. The majority view in Synod is much more moderate, and the provisional measures being explored or taken are frankly a sign that they fear they are losing the argument in the Church.

In the end, the Church, and Church property, is a national entity, and decisions will be taken by Synod as a whole. Opting to 'put the gun to the head' by threatening to walk out if they no longer impose their view on other people's values... is the familiar GAFCON-type rhetoric and blackmail, and really the option for everyone is to stay or to go, and the vast majority in the incredibly moderate Church of England will stay, and live with each other, and serve with each other, even in a diversity of views.

Only a small minority of church communities will opt to leave the Church of England (which they have to do if they cannot accept its governance).

This crisis has been coming for ages, and might have involved more churches in the past, but times have changed in England and this is the (small) voice of a minority at the evangelical extremes. It still deserves respect and listening to, but in the end if they threaten to leave, and they choose to leave, then that will be their decision as a pretty small sect - or 'faithful remnant' as they will perceive themselves.

The Church of England is about thousands of Christian - yes, Christian - communities serving in their local towns and villages and cities, and in the end that mission, that love, that service will lead most people to stay together and serve together, whatever arrangements (hopefully allowing conscientious diversity) are sorted out on the single issue of human sexuality. Local service and love will outweigh dogmatic 'last stands' on the issue of sexuality (an issue the nation has already frankly changed its mind on).

Changing views on the acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships is not a "new religion". The religion - and love, and service - carries on.

These communities are a continuity of service, in the name of Christ, and will carry on, along with the Church of England itself.

This group, and Peter Sanlon, sound genuinely beleaguered and really they have to decide in the end whether to live with diversity, or go it alone. What they can't do is assume the right to impose their factional dogma on everyone else's consciences. That kind of uniformity - in whatever direction - risks dominating other people's sincere consciences. We need to stop dominating, imposing, threatening. We need to love one another, in our differences of belief, and in our shared ones too.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 7:18pm BST

You have to understand the mindset...homosexuality to conservative evangelical Christians is a perversion of sexuality. There can be no compromise.

Unfortunately they do not see the illogical basis of their concern, as they have compromised on contraception and divorce.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 7:23pm BST

It will be a day of great rejoicing when these hate-filled people leave. They seem to think accepting gay marriage is to change the whole Christian religion. It is they who have altered the Faith from one of love to horrible legalism.

Posted by: Fr DavidH on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 7:58pm BST

See also http://www.kentlive.news/singers-leave-tears-choir-axed/story-26124355-detail/story.html

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 9:56pm BST

This is interesting. Mostly, from where I sit, because this chap is not using AMiE, nor yet the much-trumpeted FCA England branch, nor yet Reform, nor even putting themselves under the episcopal control of Rwanda or Nigeria or wherever. He seems to be going it alone. Yet another breakaway?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 10:03pm BST

What of LGBT people in these parishes? How will they be served? Surely the days of a minister making decisions like this for their entire parish must be over? The church response is entirely inadequate. Ministers and parishes cannot be allowed to behave like this.

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 10:19pm BST

"Another opening, another SHOW, in Philly, Boston or Kokomo" ... we told ye so, Merry Olde!

I know, I know, I must be cheritable and "love them anyway"...better this time, you than me.

Leonard Clark

Posted by: Leonard Clark on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 10:54pm BST

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 11:14pm BST

That review is pretty shocking, both for its dressing up of pretty visceral hatred in borrowed academic clothing, and for its ability to look cultured and academic while actually being a list of whinging and ad hominem attacks. One might call it cargo cult book reviewing: it looks like a review, all the form is there, but it's just an excuse for the reviewer to ride their hobbyhorse.

The last time I saw the word "homosexualist" in print it was an in-joke in Auberon Waugh's diary in Private Eye. Bron stopped writing for the Eye in the mid-1980s when Hislop became editor, but even then, had he written of the "instructive example of the rhetorical strategy being deployed by the homosexualist movement" or speculated about whether "the homosexualist agenda as it is presented to the Church of England must be driven forward by deception and manipulation" he would have been doing it for laughs.

Oh, and someone who uses their PhD to bolster their academic credentials while kicking other people's purported lack of academic rigour should at least write in a manner which is academic. Dr Interested Observer merely notes that _his_ external examiners beat him up at his viva for this sort of prolixity, and hopes that either Dr Sanlon did a better job in his thesis or that he had understanding examiners.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 11:42pm BST

This is a good thing, as has proved to be so in the Episcopal Church, which is now free to do those things which it discerns to be right. In the end, after much passion and rhetoric had been spent, a handful left It will be so in the C of E.

But what of those inside the departing parishes or dioceses? Will there be flying bishops to care for them?

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 29 August 2016 at 11:49pm BST

Seems premature, as CoE is still persecuting its gay, married, clergy...

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 3:09am BST

If Doctor Peter Scanlon is truly representative of the '72' who have written, advising the Church of England's Bishops to stick to the old ways of being Church; what is he doing dismissing his perfectly functioning robed Parish Choir at Tunbridge Wells? Is he looking for the upholding of traditional 'Tradition' - or his own ideas, according to his brand-new description of what that term might mean?

It strikes me this young man needs to take a step back from his dictatorial stance and listen to those in his parish with a lot more experience of what life in the Church in his area is really like. However, this new breed of Evangelical anti-Gay Conservatives with a mission is unlikely to want to abandon their totalitarian view of Church polity and management. Is this what we can expect from future Ph.D. Evangelical clergy in the C. of E.?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 3:16am BST

Good luck, I guess. The actions of a tiny con-evo remnant are of no great consequence. Change will be signaled by an exodus of the vast open evangelical crowd, of which there's, so far, no sign.

Indeed, just in the last week, Ian Paul's blog posted an article questioning the givenness of sexual orientation, followed by a confident reassertion of the traditional position. When thoughtful, leading moderates like him aren't close to changing their mind or changing denomination, you know there's much left to do.

Con-evos could rest easy; but then, if they did, they wouldn't be con-evos!

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 7:25am BST

Mmmmm! Looks to me as though the Church of England is to spawn its own internal version of GAFCON. Surprisingly this development has sprung up when more and more Diocesan Bishopricks (HHH spelling) are being given to those of an Evangelical bent. We wait to see who succeeds Richard Chartres, if it happens to be yet another Evangelical then all five senior positions will be held by Evangelicals. The creation of a so called "shadow synod" is a sad development. Will the Conservative Evangelical Bishop of Maidstone give this unfortunate development his blessing or will he remain loyal to his his Evangelical Primate?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 7:38am BST

He's positioning himself to be a bishop in one of these bodies, Mr Pemberton, if he brings a few parishes with him and becomes known as a leader of the opposition. Sad.

Posted by: lorenzo on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 8:15am BST

He is no more going to set up a rival CoE diocese than the Ordinariate set up a second Church of England.
There is no mechanism for a second established CoE to exist alongside the current one.
These priests and parishes can do what the Ordinariate did - leave.
The parishes will remain as CoE parishes.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 10:10am BST

One can only hope that the relevant diocesan authorities will will be as even handed with this breakaway group as they were with those who left to form the personal Ordinariate of OLW. Go, by all means, but the buildings, parsonages, stipends, pensions et al, remain the entailment of the Church of England, not a sect. Those responsible for ecclesiastical matters in Royal Tunbridge Wells should be well versed in the relevant canon laws.

Posted by: Andrew Welsby on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 10:40am BST

DavidH - . If they leave, many subsidised liberal parishes will close for lack of central funds. We have to be honest about the numbers and money calculations. Don't imagine that wasn't part of the situation facing Rowan Williams with dean John and Reading. That's why I think TEC should lead a global liberal communion and finance it

Posted by: S Cooper on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 10:46am BST

FrDavidH 'these hate-filled people'. Please be careful with such language. The ones I know and talk with - and I have been part of this tradition for years - are not at all actually. The Evangelical tradition's passionate devotion to the Bible means that in this context if scripture is believed to condemn same-sex relationships this is primarily a matter of obedience to what the Bible teaches. It is a theological issue. And it needs to be addressed theologically. My conservative friends are right to insist on that - and this is happening steadily. (though it concerns me that this tradition has yet to really become aware of the impact of its teaching on those whose lives bear the weight and consequence of their beliefs).

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 11:36am BST

" The Evangelical tradition's passionate devotion to the Bible means that in this context if scripture is believed to condemn same-sex relationships this is primarily a matter of obedience to what the Bible teaches."

Odd, then, that they appear a great deal less bothered about divorce, about which the reported words of Jesus speak quite a lot, than they are about homosexuality, about which the synoptic gospels have approximately nothing to say.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 12:05pm BST

A liberal, anglican view of scripture obviously weakens the fundamentalist branch upon which Con Evos sit. The 'gay debate' is simply the presenting issue which challenges a descredited view of scripture which is not shared by 'thinking' anglicans. Let's not dignify hate-filled homophobia with the name 'theology', as David Runcorn suggests. Hate is hate, even when it's backed up by so-called 'proof texts'.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 12:18pm BST

We in North America (TEC & AngChCanada) warned you, CofE. We warned you, we warned you, we warned you.

Schisms are created by schismatics. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 12:47pm BST

Interested Observer Not odd at all. It is not a question of being 'less bothered'. Some are still divided on divorce actually. You can trace a clear theological journey re divorce and re-marriage through this tradition if you want to. But that was a debate that happened several decades ago.
Meanwhile Fr DavidH might reflect he is using hate language of his own on this thread.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 2:20pm BST

"Okay - we've shared conversations, we have listened compassionately, but we didn't get our way, and now we're leaving"?

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 4:53pm BST

I think we have all known people divorced through no fault of of their own and felt immense compassion for their situation. It is incredibly hard to suggest they should be denied future companionship. If conservative evangelicals feel that same compassion we should be pleased that they do, not berate them for hypocrisy. Rather we should see it as something to build upon.

For me the teaching is clear and divorce is neither allowed nor possible. But we are also taught by Jesus to look at the consequences - the fruit - of any policy and when I do that, I am forced to consider that the apparent Biblical teaching on divorce is overly simplistic. I have no clue where that leaves me wrt divorce.

As David Runcorn says, we should not assume that people like Dr Scanlon are hate-filled. What we should be teaching is that, even if they see same sex relationships as sinful, the fruit of such thinking causes so much harm that a reasonable Christian has, to some degree, to retain an open mind.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 5:43pm BST

How many such parishes are we talking about? How many of them already withold their parish share on grounds of 'principle'? So even if financial blackmail is intended on their part, how is it going to be very effective?

As with the ordinariate, if they want to carry on independently they will have to find their own buildings and fund their own clergy. And as with the ordinariate, I would be surprised if more than a tiny percentage of their laity follow them.

Posted by: David Emmott on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 6:20pm BST

An interesting and entirely positive development. Over women, they adopted a fight not flight strategy. Here they seem to be taking steps to form their own kind of Third Province, except it will have no legal or constitutional standing. The flight will come without a fight. That has a lot to commend it to the CofE at large. Parishes cannot leave the CofE. They can make a lot of noise, withhold their Parish Share and in the final analysis physically lead their flocks elsewhere, on which point it is interesting to speculate the extent to which this is a "grass-roots initiative by local congregations." I suggest this is a clergy-led initiative, rather like the old Resolution C parishes. Survey Monkey the electoral roll members and the views might be quite different. These parishes might find they lose signficant numbers from their congregations to neighbouring more inclusive parishes.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 6:37pm BST

what on earth is a 'shadow synod?'Are its members lay, and clergy, elected? Does it have a bishop or two? Who is its provincial? Whatever else it is it is not a synod. Also, the idea that those on the progressive side have not engaged with the issue theologically is wide of the mark; they have for years, just not on the terms that conservatives accept.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 6:56pm BST

As a member of Diocesan Synod in the diocese in which Dr Sanlon plies his trade, this thread fills me with the deepest dismay:
1) that Dr Sanlon is setting up yet another secessionist grouping, when so many others already exist, to which he could have allied himself.
2) that Dr Sanlon has chosen to launch this initiative in the middle of a period when his diocesan bishop (and sole patron of his parish) is in the middle of an extended period of absence abroad, visiting linked dioceses in Africa. I trust that those 'holding the fort' in his absence have done their best to inform the bishop of this regrettable development.
3) that Dr Sanlon has forced through a major change in the style of worship of his new parish (and sacked his choir), and moved it to an extreme position which it did not hold before his arrival. There is already at least one other parish holding these views in Tunbridge Wells, and that is more than enough.
4) that this 'growth initiative' is presumably exactly the sort of venture to which the Church Commissioners intend to divert so much of their funding in future (under the changes proposed by the R&R project) depriving many other sounder parishes of the support they need.

As has been well-publicised, the diocese is undergoing a serious financial crisis, caused (in many people's view) by the previous diocesan bishop, who took on far more stipendiary clergy than the diocese was able or willing to support, before resigning in order to ally himself more closely with GAFCON, and with the extreme views that they and Dr Scanlon hold.
There are too many benefices in the diocese, and too many in particular in Tunbridge Wells. The conclusions are obvious!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 7:18pm BST

The problem is that in our present context it is not necessary to "believe" that "the Scripture condemns same-sex relationships" absolutely, any more than it condemns mixed-sex relationships in part. For one thing, there is no "evidence" that Scripture "condemns" a life-long, faithful, committed same-sex civil marriage. And the idea that Scripture somehow "condemns" all same-sex relationships absolutely also rests on tenuous ground: the solitary prooftext against lesbians is by no means certain (that is, both the tradition and modern scholarship disagree as to what is being referenced in that isolated verse. )

So, as with so much else, Scriptural interpretation in this instance is a matter of choice. For some reason, some people choose to make this interpretation, and what is more to make it central to their view of what constitutes a proper church.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 7:36pm BST

Kate Greetings. RE your comments on NT and divorce - if you are interested here is an example of an evangelical theologian working with the NT texts on divorce and remarriage. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html. If you follow the link on Christianity today you can track how conservative bible teachers have responded (if you haven't better use of a late summer evening). It is a glimpse of theological method and argument within the spectrum of the CofE Evangelical world these days.
(He has also written a Grove booklet on the subject - Divorce and Remarriage in the 1st and 21st Century).

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 8:41pm BST

This is a tiny group which is no bigger than other small pressure groups in the Church of England. It is most unlikely to become a mass movement and represents no more or less than the half dozen or so other exclusive organisations threatening this and that with dire consequences in the Church. The story is of course a silly season gift to the likes of the Daily Telegraph and the Mail.

Posted by: Nicholas Henderson on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 9:57pm BST

David Runcorn...please read the article referenced in the Kent Times (my earlier post). I know nothing else about this person, but I'm afraid that, to me, this feels like the ways that fanatics always behave: the interests of individuals being subsidiary to those of the cause, whatever that is. Whether it's political or religious, left or right,conservative or liberal.

"Hate filled" certainly is consistent with the actions described there. Or, worse still, motivated by the kind of "love" that loves humanity but doesn't love individual human beings. It comes to the same thing. David, please look at the pictures of the people in that choir and read about what they said.

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 at 10:53pm BST

"So, as with so much else, Scriptural interpretation in this instance is a matter of choice. For some reason, some people choose to make this interpretation"

Thank you, Tobias!

Here in the secular sphere of the Great State of California, we have a FEW "Christian" (i.e., Christianist) colleges who insist they have the right to ignore civil rights laws re LGBT students (and discriminate against them), "because of the Bible"... http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article83988247.html

...IGNORING the larger number of Christian& church-affiliated colleges, equally Bible-believing, who do NOT make such claims.

It's a CHOICE to be homophobic. You make the *presumption* that the Bible agrees w/ your homophobic opinion, then ignore all arguments to the contrary. Fine&dandy...but not definitively "Christian" (and, when also relying on Tradition and Reason, CERTAINLY not Anglican!)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 6:55am BST

All things considered I wonder why the C of E ordained this chap...not much tolerant generous orthodoxy here...the C of E has made a rod for its own back...he is the sort of person who is unlikely ever to be comfortable in such a church.
re Andy Lines "these churches are prepared to take action to protect their congregations"...not parishes one notes, thus betraying the sectarian mindset. I hope what these actions will be are soon spelt out so appropriate action can be taken.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 8:21am BST

What is it about Tunbridge Wells that makes it such a battleground for extremism? First the vicar of St Barnabas ran away to a tiny Roman Catholic enclave. Now an evangelical vicar wishes to dwell in a gay-free zone where he can remain uncorrupted. Is it a qualification that clergy in that town are all "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells"?

Posted by: FrDavidH on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 8:35am BST

Turbulent Priest. Thank you. I have read it. But local newspaper reports are not usually the best place to get the full story of church life are they? - particularly when there is conflict involved. Many parish clergy have scars to prove it. From personal parish experience I also know how choirs can be notoriously intrenched institutions. But the report does says "The PCC decided, after lengthy consultation with the congregations and local residents, to implement a new pattern of services from September 1, 2014. Sadly some members of the choir were unable to accept these changes; others have embraced them and remain enthusiastic members of our congregation." That is not exactly 'axed'. Is there any reason to suppose this is not an accurate statement of a careful process and outcome in that church? And no, I still see no reason to use the word 'hate' here at all - however much I strongly disagree with what this vicar is doing.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 10:46am BST

Over the last few years, we often hear that if evangelical churches leave the CofE, then there won't be enough money to sustain the remaining parishes. Or it's phrased in terms of evangelical churches "subsidising" liberal ones.

Serious question, because I don't know the answer: is this true? Are there facts and figures to support it? It seems like a huge generalisation to me, but it's often thrown out there as truth, and I don't think I've seen much evidence.

Posted by: Nick Nawrockyi on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 10:58am BST

I've noticed that we're always assured by people who are in no way threatened by the con-evos that they really are great guys, who haven't the slightest bit of hate in them.

They know this because these people are not hateful to or around them. Could that be because they are not the target of these peoples' hate?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 11:28am BST

"First the vicar of St. Barnabas ran away to a tiny Roman Catholic enclave". I understand that the Ordinariate in this country has approximately 1000 members (Thinks I wonder what Pope Benedict was told about the number who were likely to defect?) The Ordinariate congregation at Pembury boasts 130 members. That's 13% of the total in one congregation which is in all probability larger than many C of E congregations.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 11:38am BST

I think Dr Sanlon and his ilk very good for the C of E. We need more of them. My churches have benefited enormously from a neighbouring parish that sounds like his - a Reform parish whose refugees land up with me. My Sunday congregations have swelled, baptisms and weddings have increased, goodwill has increased enormously. I commend Dr Sanlon on his zeal and hope that it will work a treat for clerical colleagues in TW.

Posted by: Fr William on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 12:46pm BST

Choice? No. It's more complicated than that. On a simple reading of the Bible, gay sex is sinful. It takes an holistic understanding of the Bible to realise that same sex relationship are acceptable. It's not choice: it is ignorance.

Evangelicals' primary gift is telling people "Jesus is Lord," and being believed. Mission. But IMO they make two fundamental mistakes. Firstly they assume everyone has the same gift so they expect all of us to be successful at mission. Their second mistake is assuming that they are also the best at interpreting the Bible. They are not: respectfully that is not their Gift.

So not choice and in many ways Dr Sanlon is not even himself to blame. The problem is that the Church of England expects us all to be equally good at everything and assumes if we are not that training can make up the difference. The Bible tells us otherwise.

Dr Sanlon might be good at mission. That doesn't mean he is good at the pastoral care of a parish or in the deep understanding of the Bible. Indeed very few people combine all of those gifts. But since the Church expects us to be gifted at all of those things and more, is it really any surprise that evangelicals think that as well as leading mission that they are also the best to teach understanding of God's word and to minister to a parish?

I firmly believe that we don't have more than one or two spiritual gifts to teach us humility and to help us rely on each other. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be a big part of church teaching. So I don't think that people of good conscience simply choose to be prejudiced. I think they genuinely mean well. But the church isn't teaching them to recognise their limitations.

That doesn't mean my view on same sex relationships is necessarily right. But if someone suggests by word or action that they are gifted in mission, then personally I am not inclined to gave much weight to their personal Biblical interpretation.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 3:05pm BST

Turbulent Priest - It's not only Conservative Evangelical churches who want to evolve in their worship and run up against musical directors and robed choirs who will not move an inch. Is there really that much difference between biblical conservatism, social conservatism and musical conservatism?

They all come from a mindset that refuses to accept that society, including churches can evolve. A refusal to accept that perhaps the church should be trying to reach those whose views on what church might mean are not as narrow as their own.

Posted by: Fr Paul on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 4:35pm BST

Having uprooted a 150-year Anglican choral tradition at the church, I wonder what former choristers make of this statement:

“This is a local initiative designed to send a clear message: we hold to the unchanging truths of the Gospel and the formularies and teachings of the Church of England. We oppose the relentless slide towards revisionism in the Church of England structures. We will take action to protect our congregations and our mission.”

Pot calling the kettle black?

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 5:26pm BST

Thank you, Tobias:
"So, as with so much else, Scriptural interpretation in this instance is a matter of choice. For some reason, some people choose to make this interpretation"

Thank you JCF
"It's a CHOICE to be homophobic. You make the *presumption* that the Bible agrees w/ your homophobic opinion, then ignore all arguments to the contrary."

Yes, again, it is a CHOICE to proof text the Bible to justify this hate and make it central to their "church."

David Runicorn, the theology and scholarship have been done and the inclusive position is solid as can be. Inclusion, dignity, and wholeness is the gospel call of Jesus the Incarnation who came for "all people everywhere," and not just for con-evos in England, or schismatics in the TEC.

And it is hateful. If you substituted race or women for what they are doing, it would be clear racism and misogyny; Jesus CLEARLY wasn't on board with either of those, nor homophobia.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 31 August 2016 at 5:59pm BST

I wonder which is the more truly Christian, to accept differences and come to the table together in mutual respect despite disagreements; or to break away and refuse to worship with the "ungodly"?

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 2:07am BST

I find it interesting that so many people around here who hate evangelicals (yes, if they will insist on using that word, I will use it too) are quite sure they understand our psychology, our spirituality, our motivation, what makes us tick, what we're good at, what we're not good at, etc. etc.

I spent a week at Regent College, Vancouver this summer, immersed in the thinking evangelical culture. I met smart people, gifted scholars, kind and loving people, people who did not approach the Bible assuming they already knew what it was going to say to them, people who were doing their best to be honest students of scripture. There was not a single stereotype that would have applied to all the people I met. As usual, life turns out to be far more complex than ideologues would have us believe.

Not good at biblical interpretation? Excuse me? I spent a week exploring the Book of Jeremiah with a very gifted teacher who opened my eyes to all kind of things I was not aware of in the text and its background. Evangelical Presbyterian, and one of the best Old Testament scholars I've ever heard.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 2:40am BST

RE: Andrew at 5:26 pm 31 Aug:

I've thought that, myself. How far back should he go to oppose this revisionism? After all, one could point out that the CofE was "revised" after Henry VIII's death to the RCC. Does he oppose the revisionism after Henry? Gonna go back full Catholic in all but obedience to the Pope? I believe earlier articles than the 39 existed, so the 39 are a "revision" of the CofE, earlier articles affirming things like the celibacy of clergy!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 6:52am BST

"musical directors and robed choirs who will not move an inch". Three cheers for good and talented Musical Directors and robed choirs who add so much quality to the worship of Almighty God. This summer my own choir spent a week singing God's praises in Bristol cathedral with the added bonus of a well attended and much appreciated lunch-time concert. Last Monday they sang Evensong at Westminster Abbey. The Precentor kindly wrote the MD a letter of thanks which included these glowing sentences:- "We appreciated the quality of the choir's singing, and our worship was much enriched by your contribution." & "We would be delighted to see you here again in the near future." Christianity without music and singing is almost impossible to imagine. I am sure that the quality of the music offered encourages congregational growth. Personally my preference would be for Howells and Stanford rather than Clap-Happy repetitive choruses which tell me that Jesus Loves Me 39 times. Before ditching the Musical Director and the robed choir I would encourage any parish priest to read Trevor Beeson's excellent book - "In Tuneful Accord" which concludes thus:- "Music is an instrument that enables Christians to worship God in the beauty of holiness and in tuneful accord, so that ultimately the whole earth may stand in awe of him."

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 7:15am BST

In answer to Nick, some analysis was done in Southwark Diocese in recent years: 14 out of the 20 largest churches are evangelical and 7 out of the largest 10 are evangelical. So not universally, but evangelical churches tend to be larger.

Posted by: Rich on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 8:15am BST

Why doesn't David Runcorn stop digging? A Con Evo view of scripture is no longer intellectually viable and, as a false premise, often leads (as in other religions) to extremism and hatred. Such a view should have no place in a Church dedicated to serving a liberal, secular nation. The quicker Peter Sanlon and his ilk depart the better since they have already made the CofE an irrelevant laughing-stock.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 9:21am BST

"If you substituted race or women for what they are doing, it would be clear racism and misogyny"

By and large, homophobia under the guise of "principle" is a pretty thin veneer on racism and misogyny anyway. Welby's "of course, it hurts me to hurt gay people, but I have no choice because my African friends tell me I have to" is just the racism of low expectations. The subtext of "British attitudes have changed over the last fifty years" is "and African attitudes are incapable of change, because, you know, Africa, right?"

When Hanns Johst - not a nice man, in general - wrote the oft-quoted, oft-misquoted and oft-misattributed "When I hear the word culture ..., I release the safety on my Browning!" his use of the word culture was high liberal - and, he being a seething anti-Semite, mostly Jewish - culture, the sort of thing that the Reichskulturkammer put an end to. But he actually hinted at a deeper truth, by accident: when bad things are attributed to "culture", particularly in the third world, the assumption is that this culture is unchanging and unchangeable. And when I hear that argument advanced, I reach for my metaphorical revolver, because what people should really be doing is attempting to change that culture.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 10:46am BST

"It's more complicated than that. On a simple reading of the Bible"

Kate, can't you see the internal contradiction there? (I think you can) Complicated issues cannot be resolved via "simple readings" of ANY text, this collection of ancient Hebrew&Greek texts (in myriad translations) included! [It takes away nothing from *my* belief that the Bible is "inspired" to note what it factually is.]

"Evangelicals' primary gift is telling people": you can stop your sentence right there, you've hit the nail. The essence of ANY fundamentalism (inc the Roman "Magisterium" one) is TELLING people: "THIS is what you need to think!"

I do not for *one second* believe that any person came to (an intellectually honest translation of!) the Bible w/ an unformed opinion of "homosexuals" and "same-sex relationships", and went "Voila! I'm supposed to condemn them!" No, that "simple reading of the Bible" is TAUGHT to them, by prejudiced people perpetuating their own prejudices. To be willfully blind to those prejudices? THAT is a choice.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 11:07am BST

The CofE is fast becoming a very sad laughing stock, no wonder people have given up and don't come anymore. All I want to do is turn up for communion on a Sunday morning and be in a welcome friendly environment. I would say warm as well but the heating's on the blink.

Posted by: Henry Dee on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 2:19pm BST

Tim Chesterton is mistaken. We do not hate evangelicals, but abhor their vilification of some of our Christian brothers and sisters. We love evangelicals, not because Scripture orders us to, but because the spirit of Jesus' teaching is love, not hatred. Evangelicals haven't quite grasped this.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 5:05pm BST

"musical directors and robed choirs who will not move an inch"

It is purely anecdotal, but at my church, with a very high quality choir and traditional music, we are seeing a steady influx of young people who come *because* we do ordered, traditional worship well, in addition to a quite liberal theology of inclusion.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 5:24pm BST

Father David rightly wonders if Benedict's Vatican did not expect many more anglo-catholics to join the Ordinariate.I'm sure they did but the catholic laity on the whole did not play ball. In fact the initial figure of 1500 which always used to be quoted is now revised downwards to 1000. Apart from some losses to death and some returnees to Anglicanism, I suspect that many ordinariate laity (and in fact clergy) are just being quietly absorbed into the Roman Catholic diocesan structure.A handful of groups, notably Pembury, are doing rather well but others are on life support. Incidentally as well as Pembury is doing , it doesn't represent 13% of the total ordinariate as the congregation is a mix of diocesan catholics and ordinariate members. For myself as a catholic anglican in a northern diocese (with a lot of parishes of that integrity,) I find that the whole Ordinariate thing has made me value my own Anglican patrimony and to cause me to revisit various issues on which I thought myself to have had a settled mind.Certainly in our diocese the Ordinariate has had little, if any , success

Posted by: Michael on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 5:25pm BST

"14 out of the 20 largest churches are evangelical and 7 out of the largest 10 are evangelical. So not universally, but evangelical churches tend to be larger"

But surely the stats don't show that evangelical churches tend to be larger, they show that larger churches tend to be evangelical. That's an important difference.

Evangelical style worship may succeed best in large contexts: perhaps that explains clumping in the distribution. It certainly doesn't mean that evangelicalism is the recipe for church growth success: there are some small evangelical churches and indeed many failing and failed ones. Vastly more Anglicans don't go to large evangelical churches than do; most Anglicans never would.

If all churches in England were evangelical, they wouldn't all be large churches (though that does seem to be current C of E thinking). If all churches were evangelical, most would be empty.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 5:56pm BST

Don't be hard on David Runcorn - I welcome his contributions on TA, often calling us liberals to order over Evangelical thinking, as he has me from time to time, and counselling constructive dialogue rather than vilification. We need such input to keep a more balanced view, and only by trying to understand the position of those we disagree with do we have any hope of staying together rather than heading for fissiparous annihilation.
And David has said that he strongly disagrees with what this vicar is doing, so, in that respect at least, he's in agreement with most of the contributors on this thread.
Nevertheless, Dr Sanlon needs a good talking to by someone in authority over him, and I hope he gets it sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 5:59pm BST

"The CofE is fast becoming a very sad laughing stock"

A Dutch neighbour, old enough to know of what he speaks, has a mordant joke: "everyone in Holland joined the resistance, it's just a shame that they waited until 1947 to do it". Similar things are said in France. It appears that in the CofE leadership, the prevailing attitude towards homophobia is the same: collaborate with occupying homophobes, and then get ready to claim to have opposed it all along (if only in thought) once the fighting is over.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 9:30pm BST

@Tim Chesterton: Just to clarify, in case there was any misunderstanding, I did not mean to imply that Evangelicals were not good at biblical interpretation. There are many fine biblical scholars and gifted preachers and teachers who are Evangelical.

What I am attempting to stress is that when biblical texts offer us a range of possible interpretations, it becomes a matter of choice as to which one accepts or supports. There can be many reasons for this choice: tradition, depth of explanation, weight of argument, or conviction.

However, the thing I believe must be guarded against is applying a permissive or nuanced interpretative approach to some texts, while refusing to apply the same sort of nuance to other texts. Choosing to do so when it forgives one's own faults while it excoriates those of others can hardly be commended. Nor do I claim this is a fault peculiar to (or even characteristic of) Evangelicals. But I do stand by my statement that such applications are a matter of choice, even when they spring from conviction.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 9:38pm BST

'We love evangelicals, not because Scripture orders us to, but because the spirit of Jesus' teaching is love, not hatred. Evangelicals haven't quite grasped this.' - FrDavidH

Really? All evangelicals? Some evangelicals? Evangelicals you've met? American evangelicals who are voting for Donald Trump?

I might respond by saying 'Generalizations are not helpful; Liberal Catholics haven't quite grasped this'. But you and I both know that that isn't true, so why would I phrase it that way?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 10:47pm BST

'Personally my preference would be for Howells and Stanford rather than Clap-Happy repetitive choruses which tell me that Jesus Loves Me 39 times.' - Father David

This sounds rather like the dismissive comments that were made back in the 1970s when the charismatic renewal started blowing through the churches. My comment then as now was that the proof of the pudding was in the eating. Are the people who are singing those clap-happy choruses (or the Taizé chants, which are every bit as repetitive) being transformed into people who follow Jesus in their daily lives, living simple lives, caring for the poor and needy, forgiving their enemies and fishing for people?

I have no complaints about people who have highbrow musical tastes, but I don't believe looking down on others because they prefer Matt Redman has any place in the body of Christ. We're frequently told that Jesus had nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality. Well, he had even less to say on the subject of what sort of music should be sung in worship.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 1 September 2016 at 10:56pm BST

I echo Malcolm Dixon's appreciation of David Runcorn. David's input is decent and fair-minded. He's one of the people here I trust the most.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 1:08am BST

Some perceptive comments from Michael. I suspect that as the short lived SDP was to politics - so too the Ordinariate will be to religion. In its present uncertain state it is surely unsustainable.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 5:41am BST

I'm not the world's greatest fan of Church Planting but I cannot fail to notice the contrast between the ethos of the Tunbridge Wells "shadow synod" and the HTB Church Planting programme.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 8:02am BST

Reading again Grayson Carter's Anglican Evangelical Protestant Secession from the Via Media c 1800-1850 ( 2001) ..always comforting to know we have been there before!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 8:25am BST

I feel certain that Our Blessed Lord was quite familiar with the Book of Psalms and further didn't He lead His disciples in the singing of a Passover hymn before going to the Mount of Olives? Romans 15: 9 and Hebrews 2: 12 both indicate that the Lord enjoyed a jolly good sing.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 9:57am BST

Tim Chesterton accuses me of 'generalising' in our indiscriminate love of evangelicals and implies we can't possibly love evangelicals who support Donald Trump. I beg to differ. I understand that Jesus 'generalised' in His love for ALL people. The trouble with many evangelicals lies in their choice over which Anglicans they have decided to hate i.e. those with same-sex attraction, and those who support them. Which Anglicans does Tim Chesterton love? Liberals? Catholics? Or just evangelicals like himself? Surely love for all doesn't necessitate a new 'synod' or hate-filled groups like GAFCON.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 10:58am BST

"However, the thing I believe must be guarded against is applying a permissive or nuanced interpretative approach to some texts, while refusing to apply the same sort of nuance to other texts. Choosing to do so when it forgives one's own faults while it excoriates those of others can hardly be commended. Nor do I claim this is a fault peculiar to (or even characteristic of) Evangelicals. But I do stand by my statement that such applications are a matter of choice, even when they spring from conviction."

I agree with that...until you reach your last sentence.

Many sermons in the Church of England address only the readings of the day. Of all the churches I have worshipped in, In only one out of dozens have Bibles been needed to read cross-references for the sermons. Churchgoers are being taught to consider passages in isolation of the rest of the Bible and ministers are falling into the habit of doing so even if they know better.

Bible study groups are little better because instead of focusing on a theme and studying that theme across the Bible, they take a single book and study that.

It is not choice when people are taught to adopt a passage-based approach to the Bible rather than an holistic, interpretative approach. Deficient training, not prejudiced choice.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 11:57am BST

Thank you Tobias Haller for your wise challenge on the need for nuanced readings of the scripture texts – and to do this consistently whatever the topic in hand. I think this is a central challenge for evangelicals ‘doing bible’ in the present context. Part of the resistance to this comes, I think, from a (right) concern to honour the central place of scripture in the church as a sovereign authority. But this can and does can lead to tendency to treat this authority as univocal – The Word. There is therefore resistance the notion there may be more than one voice and interpretation in the text. A friend described the anxiety caused when he suggested to a con evo friend that Job functioned as a theological critique of Deuteronomic good/bad – blessing/curse teaching. The friend could not cope with the implication that there is an internal dialogue going on within scripture (and one often left unresolved). But there surely is and the task of faithfully interpreting and obeying scripture for our own time requires us to join the dialogue with our own understandings, questions and experience.
Consistency is the challenge. For in truth, over time, the evangelical world has accepted more nuanced readings – note its willingness to revise its approach to issues such as creation and evolution, divorce and remarriage, race and slavery and the partnership of woman with men in ministry. In this respect the debate on same-sex relationships is simply the most recent challenge to seeking what obedience to scripture might mean. But it feels to many conservatives like one dialogue too many and so the texts that invite exploration are treated as closed, binding monologues.

(and thank you Susanna and Malcolm for your affirming words. They mean a great deal)

Posted by: David Runcorn on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 12:36pm BST

Love the evangelical, hate the evangelicalism?

Posted by: S Cooper on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 12:39pm BST

"I find it interesting that so many people around here who hate evangelicals (yes, if they will insist on using that word, I will use it too) are quite sure they understand our psychology[etc]" ..."Really? All evangelicals?"

Come now, Tim, you're better than this. If we're using the word "Evangelical" unmodified here, it's only because we are HERE: on the thread "Conservative evangelicals to form "shadow synod". We don't mean you, or "all Evangelicals".

But it doesn't show you in your best light, dismissing the often violent hatred expressed at LGBT people (*as* LGBT people), w/ a "I am equally a victim!" attitude ("if they will insist on using that word [hate], I will use it too").

To face prejudice (even unfair prejudice) for one's theological opinion, is NOT the same as being unthinkingly loathed for an unchosen, immutable quality (like sexual orientation or gender identity). You can safely hold your spouse's hand, even in the Castro or Greenwich Village. I can't (among Tunbridge Wells' friends) in Kampala.

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 1:04pm BST

FrDavidH,
I don't know which comment by Tim Chesterton prompted your outburst, but I can assure you that he has never shown anything but genuine love and friendship to radically liberal me and my wife.
Tim is the least prejudiced person I know - he just happens to be an evangelical.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 2:54pm BST

Thank you, David Runcorn. That is exactly what I meant. And I can certainly understand the "engagement fatigue" that even the most open-minded must feel when invited to yet another reexamination of the text. But I am encouraged in the belief that one of the reasons the Scripture has survived so long is due to the fact that it is "living" -- alive in the minds and hearts of its readers, not simply a dead text to be shelved with other dead texts, but a continued source of inspiration and instruction.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 3:41pm BST

FrDavidH 'The trouble with many evangelicals' .. well yes that is the clearest thing from your posts here. You have trouble - real trouble -with evangelicals.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 4:22pm BST

JCF,
"Come now, Tim, you're better than this. If we're using the word "Evangelical" unmodified here, it's only because we are HERE: on the thread "Conservative evangelicals to form "shadow synod". We don't mean you, or "all Evangelicals"."

Maybe, then, you should use the term with the same modifier used in the thread: Conservative?

And even on this thread, "Some" conservative evangelicals talk about forming a shadow synod. 11, to be precise. Not all conservative evangelicals.

Tim is right to point out the prejudice.
And it's time it stopped, because, certainly in Britain, it is beginning to seriously damage our movement for lgbt equality, if we constantly dismiss the great number of evangelicals who are fighting in our corner.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 4:44pm BST

I agree with S. Cooper above: "Love the evangelical, hate the evangelicalism".

Posted by: FrDavidH on Friday, 2 September 2016 at 5:52pm BST

This is the parish which was the home to the first female archdeacon, and at which I have presided in the past during holiday periods and interregnum. How times have changed

Posted by: sueeve on Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 10:14am BST

The local rag has some further background which alleges some FB comments by Dr Sanlon (it doesn't say whether they verified it was genuinely him)

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/tunbridge-wells/news/peter-sanlon-lgbt-row-101746/

I wonder how evangelists like him square in their minds the negative impact of bad press for the church with mission?

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 2:53pm BST

I was trying to make a joke....

Posted by: S Cooper on Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 6:44pm BST

I got it S Cooper! Ironically the pastoral line 'hate the sin, love the sinner' that this line plays with is one that gay Christians know all too well does not work in practice. Hate is always the driver. But if Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us I find no mandate to hate any corner of the church that I do not like or where I find views that I find offensive or harmful. I suggest the best way of continuing the love/hate discussion is in response to Simon Butler's fine article 'See how these Christian's love one another' posted on TA today - it speaks directly into this thread.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 8:32pm BST

I've just realized why FrDavidH misunderstood my comment of 1st September above.

He had said, 'We love evangelicals, not because Scripture orders us to, but because the spirit of Jesus' teaching is love, not hatred. Evangelicals haven't quite grasped this.'

I responded, 'Really? All evangelicals? Some evangelicals? Evangelicals you've met? American evangelicals who are voting for Donald Trump?'

FrDavidH thought I was questioning his indiscriminate love of evangelicals. I wasn't; I was questioning his generalization that 'Evangelicals haven't quite grasped this'.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 2:38am BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.