Comments: Wycliffe Hall: two press releases

>>>The excellence of the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall are amply demonstrated

Unfortunately, one cannot say the same about their achievements in the field of subject/verb agreement.

Posted by JPM at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 2:47am BST

Good work Dr Turnbull!

Posted by NP at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 8:37am BST

Since the 'unsubstantiated material' is not identified, that bit hardly helps. What exactly does Wycliffe think was inaccurate?

Posted by Frozenchristian at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 9:39am BST

Well done, Wycliffe students and staff. Yes?

Posted by John Richardson at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 9:47am BST

PS: And a gold star to JPM for spotting the grammatical error!

Posted by John Richardson at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 9:50am BST

Well done, Wycliffe students, principal and staff! Will the Guardian be publishing an article about this?

Posted by Bob Marsden at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 10:26am BST

As I've said elsewhere, Wycliffe's standing in the PPH Norrington Table is not a particularly strong defence from Dr Turnbull.

Firstly, it only reflects the work of fourteen students (i.e. those taking the University BA in Theology), the large majority of whom were taking the degree as a second degree (all but two, I believe). It cannot be fairly compared with a college like St Hugh's, which had 99 finalists, almost all of whom would have been undergraduates, nor even with another college in the PPH table like St Stephen's, which fielded only one candidate this year.

Secondly, these fourteen students would have received a large share of their teaching from either tutors who have left Wycliffe because of Dr Turnbull or tutors in other Oxford colleges. It is thus not representative of the rest of Wycliffe's student population which is engaged in the B.Th. or other internally taught courses (well over 80 students).

The Norrington Table is thus not a particularly accurate portrait of the academic environment of Wycliffe, and whilst this statement may satisfy certain corners of the Church press, it does not go very far in answering the questions which evidently have been posed to Wycliffe and other PPHs by the University, nor indeed will it aid Dr Turnbull at the next Heads of Houses meeting if this gets into the press; the respective heads of Corpus Christi, Oriel, Exeter, St Hugh’s and St Catherine's will not appreciate the spin, I suspect.

Posted by Daniel Inman at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 10:39am BST

Not well done at all, Turnbull. It has long been the case in the Oxford Theological Colleges that those reading for Schools are taught some of their courses by University teachers as well as the College staff. Daniel Inman is also correct in his interpretation of the results. What is at issue with WH is not the academic reults of those taking Schools, but the entire atmosphere of the College and the ministerial development of the ordinands. Norrington can tell us nothing about this. In the past, I have known of ordinands being told that they must write 'this' in the exam paper, to pass, but they must believe 'that' as priests. So, not even one cheer for Turnbull from this report. We still need to know what it is like to be a liberal ordinand at WH

Posted by liddon at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 12:28pm BST

One can do all sorts of things with statistics when (a) the numbers involved are so small and (b) the final percentage scores are so close.

A more relevant statistic is that in the last 3 years, Wycliffe have had 60 students in final honour schools, Cuddesdon (where all the bishops come from) 14 and St Stephen's House 8. So if the report's main gripe is against Wycliffe one has either to ask why or return to the main point that the three specialists among those who produced it comprise a catholic and two liberals, and partiality will be inevitable.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 1:00pm BST

"It attributes comments to the Principal he simply did not say."

As to grammar, style, subject/verb agreement, etc., I would question whether one "says" a comment. One "makes" a comment, in my experience.

Posted by Uriel at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 1:03pm BST

Uriel,
That may be a cross pond thing. I for instance have no idea what "reading for Schools" means.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 3:10pm BST

I won't go over what others have said here, except to say that TA regulars will have had the opportunity to see Dr Turnbull's speech to the Reform conference earlier in the summer and can draw their own conclusions about what he was saying and, also, to have read what his deputy thinks of women's role in teaching men.
My article of 11th August explicitly stated that the current review concerned all seven PPHs and named them. Dr Turnbull states there have been no allegations received of misogyny or homophobia but also adds that they have not been substantiated, which appears to contain some illogicality.
He has however long been aware that the allegations have been made, since I put them to him earlier in the year before my first story on the matter appeared. He declined to respond at that time.
The Norrington Tables are something of a red herring since the review - which, despite Mr Shell's attempt to smear its authors, is an official university one - raises concerns about the breadth of education offered at Wycliffe.
It so happens, I have a certain knowledge of the Norrington table since, many years ago, I was responsible for drawing it up each year while I worked for the Oxford Mail and Times (which made quite a lot of money from selling the results to the national press).
They are in no sense an official university publication, though they are based on a statistical calculation originally suggested by Sir Arthur Norrington, the then President of Trinity,in the 1960s.
Points are awarded for each first, second and third class degree won by the finalists at each college. There is no scope for assessing teaching or learning, or breadth of study and educational experience, which are the matters addressed by the review.
It is a purely statistical calculation: I can't even recall, after 27 years, whether allowance is made for a college's size or the number of finalists or which subjects they are taking. Mr Shell therefore may rest assured that the Norrington Table has no official status whatsoever and is not published in the University Gazette, as the PPH report will be.

Posted by stephen bates at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 3:34pm BST

Daniel Inman is clearly not happy with the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall. This makes me wonder why he chose to attend the said evangelical college as un undergraduate.

But I suppose one would always prefer ones former institution to remain the same forever...nostalgia about the good old more liberal days, perhaps?

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:07pm BST

Must be frustrating for Stephen Bates.....after all he has written, Dr Turnbull is still firmly in place at WH, no sign of diminished support from +Liverpool for the Principal, a full staff for the new term are arriving, all student places full - it seems negative articles in The Guardian ain't shaking out the conservative Principal.....maybe if they were based on more evidence, they might be more effective.

Posted by NP at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:38pm BST

Ford Elms

Sorry to confuse; at Oxford you don't study for a degree you 'read for Schools' i.e. you want to be awarded a degree in, for instance the Divinity School, so, the Norrington Tables only take note of those at WH who have studied an Oxford degree, they don't look at others who may be taking different degrees from other universities. This means, as has been pointed out, that WH has an advantage over the undergraduate colleges, because most of WH students will already have a degree in something else and will know how to deal with a course.

Posted by liddon at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:48pm BST

Thanks Stephen ; no doubt plentry of the indoctrinated lemmings of the current student body will be on hand to reply.

In may view, evangelical theology should be confined to mail order degree mills, such is its lack of credibility. Or we could offer degrees in the literal truth of Grimm's Fairy Tales, which in my view would be of about as much credibility (and far less harmful).

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 5:08pm BST

"Sorry to confuse"

No worries! We are, after all, two nations separated by a common language!

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 6:28pm BST

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

St Stephen's House scored a whopping 84% in the 2004/05 Norrington Table, outflanking all other colleges, not just the PPHs, by a margin of 10% over the top college - St John's.

If this year's finalist at St Stephen's House had gained a First rather than a 2:1, - which might have been narrowly missed for all we know - their score would have been a record-breaking 100%, which no college could stand a hope of ever achieving!

There is a disclaimer "since the numbers of degrees awarded per college are small, the rankings should be treated with caution." How true.

Does a Wycliffe BTh First equate to a Faculty First? This would be a fairer measure would it not?

Seems this table is about as statistically relevant as the claim that 95% of us are heading for Hell.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 6:59pm BST

Gosh. Given the reactions of people on this blog to Wycliffe coming top of the table, one wonders if they'd have had any words left if Wycliffe had come bottom. Some of them would have popped a vein!

I've got a mental picture of the faces in the old HM Bateman cartoons. Perhaps there should have been one for 'The man who suggested people might go to hell without Jesus.'

The truth is, nobody cares where Wycliffe came in the tables, do they? And that is why, I suspect, blogging and commenting is such a fruitless exercise.

Posted by John Richardson at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 7:17pm BST

NP can rest assured, it is of no consequence or interest to me whether Dr Turnbull remains in post or not, except, possibly, insofar as it impinges on the wider reputation of my old university. I really could not care less. I've merely been drawing attention to what quite a number of people inside Wycliffe Hall and in the wider evangelical community have been saying to me privately about its conduct and that of its principal in recent months.
I have never called for Dr Turnbull's resignation or replacement (as if I'd have any influence in the matter! Flattering of you to say it though, NP: I am grateful for your estimation of my importance), unlike the three immediate past principals of Wycliffe Hall whose rather more significant concerns NP and his little friends seem insouciantly to airbrush out of the story. I would have thought their views of what is happening there might be of rather more importance and influence.
It is interesting to me that Dr Turnbull should base his defence of Wycliffe Hall's academic standards on the Norrington Table. I know of no other reputable head of house in Oxford who would ever have sought to do so in the last 40 years. They treat it, rightly, as a matter of fun and passing interest, but not as a serious indicator of their colleges' worth. It is, after all, a journalistic not an academic exercise.

Posted by stephen bates at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 7:44pm BST

Matthew, generally undergraduates like myself read for the Honour School of Theology to develop their critical faculties in the pursuit of truth, and not to merely repeat the kerygma of ecclesiastical parties - Evangelical, Liberal or otherwise. Your comment is reflective of just the kind of partisan atmosphere which makes for an unhealthy context for the study of anything, let alone God. In this sense, it's far more interesting than the Norrington Table as an indication of Wycliffe's direction.

And, whilst ignoring your prejudice of my theological commitments, it seems bizarre that you should consider the likes of Prof McGrath, Drs Storkey and Wenham - to name some of my lecturers - to be doctrinally/ethically 'liberal'. What is on Wycliffe's suggested bibliographies nowadays? Evangelicals are shooting themselves in the foot if even these scholars are now dismissed as 'unsound'. Believe me, it brings me no delight.

It may be of some interest to readers to know that the challenges Wycliffe faces are not new. In 1921, Arthur Headlam, the then Regius Professor of Divinity of Oxford and a deeply conservative Churchman, wrote that 'there is a great danger of theological teaching being given in theological colleges...the students are trained exclusively according to one particular point of view. Their minds, instead of being accustomed to examining and weighing the merits of different opinions, become stereotyped...The tendency of a theological college will be to give a man a set of opinions and to teach him to pass by and ignore those who differ from him. The tendency of a University is to make a man compare different points of view, to form his opinions after weighing alternatives, and therefore to hold the system which commends itself to him with due respect for the opinions of those who differ from him.' (Headlam, Theological Education at the Universities (Oxford: Blackwell, 1921))

I don't think I need to add anything...

Posted by Daniel Inman at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 7:54pm BST

Merseymike, you commented that more of the indoctrinated lemmings from Wycliffe will be on hand to reply. I don`t believe that we are lemmings, but I suppose we are indoctrinated in that the doctrine tuition we receive at Wycliffe is very good indeed. And that is the doctrine we in turn will be teaching when we lead in the parishes - standard, orthodox Christian doctrine.

When you compare evangelical theology as akin to believeing in the literal truth of Grimm`s Fairy Tales, you just diplay the same silliness that Richard Dawkins is indulging in at the moment. Which bit of evangelical theology don`t you believe? The centrality of the cross? The bodily resurrection of Christ? The inspiration of the Scriptures? The importance of conversion and personal relationship with Jesus? The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit? All these are part of the evangelical theology that you have rubbished.

Why do you post such venom against evangelicals on this site?

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 8:18pm BST

Daniel made an excellent point that the current "graduates" have been trained in large part by souls who are no longer there. I like the movie "working girl" where one character tries to take credit for others ideas and efforts.

The fruit will be best measured by what is seen in three years time.

Stephen, I empathise with your frustrations that things disappear into black holes. It has been my personal experience and others have shared with me the same problem. It appears to be a systemic strategy occuring internationally of "plausable deniability" by denying that papers or evidence were ever submitted or received. If need be, evidence will even be destroyed. Apparently my over 600 postings to Sydney Anglicans forum never occurred either.

"My article of 11th August explicitly stated that the current review concerned all seven PPHs and named them. Dr Turnbull states there have been no allegations received of misogyny or homophobia but also adds that they have not been substantiated, which appears to contain some illogicality." Stephen's comment sends huge warning bells that we are dealing with some very dirty organisational politics, it smells of a rat.

To paraphrase an American legal term. "If it looks like a rat, acts like a rat and sounds like a rat; then it is probably a rat".

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 9:19pm BST

I thought the General Synod received a reply that a critical eye was being kept on Wycliffe Hall and developments.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 10:05pm BST

Because, Matthew, I think evangelical religion is dangerous, harmful and should be challenged and marginalised whenever possible. As for Richard Dawkins : if the choice is between evangelicalism and its god, and atheism, then the latter wins every time. Perhaps, rather than regard him as 'silly', you should consiuder why so few people are interested in your religion, and how many more of us utterly reject it. I would include all of ths slogans in your last mail as things I 'don't believe', and suggest you consult John Spong's latest book which demonstrates well why Christianity is so badly in need of revision.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 11:48pm BST

Daniel Inman - my comments are not reflective of any partisan attitude at all (I am not one of the `conservative` students in the current student body!). I was merely pointing out that your posts show that you are not happy with the academic standards at Wycliffe and that you have a bias against more conservative approaches to theology.

I did not refer to McGrath, Wenham and Storkey as liberal, I was referring to your perception that Wycliffe is now conservative and that in your day it was a more liberal environment and that you wish it could go back to how it was. This is a false perception: all students at Wycliffe (ODM, CTh, BTh, BA, MTh, DPhil) have to engage critically with all strands of scholarship in their work. The teaching staff as a whole at Wycliffe is no more conservative than in your day (the perceptions of new staff are based on misguided ideas about the views of former staff - staff who have left are more conservative than people sometimes think).

As for your comments that theology is not taught well if taught in a theological college of a particular flavour, perhaps you should have chosen a different college for your first degree rather than one which has a specifically evangelical foundation. In reality, every institution has its own bias (even an institution which is perceived to be quite neutral). The important thing is to engage critically with ALL traditions (including ones own) from within the surroundings of ones own position.

It is also worth pointing out that making up ones mind is not a bad thing. If sombody makes up their mind that evangelicalism is the best approach, that does not mean they have stopped engaging with other approaches.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 10:45am BST

Leaving aside the personal disagreements that have taken up space on this blog, doesn't it seem rather unfortunate that the various wings of the Church are bickering, during a week in which no expert from the Anglican or Catholic communions could be found to contribute to an ITV Television documentary promoting the Islamic view of Jesus?

Posted by Matthew at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 7:57pm BST

Matthew - I agree with your sentiments. I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether because they take up time and energy which could be better spent. However, being a member of an institution which has been unfairly attacked from all sides does require me to make some sort of response in order to explode the myths that are peddled in the press, on Thinking Anglicans, on Fulcrum...

Posted by Matthew Firth at Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 10:17am BST

You would prefer that, wouldn't you?

Soooo much handier...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 5:40am BST

That's right, Goran,

There are people, like Matthew Firth:

'I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether because they take up time and energy which could be better spent'

and John Richardson:

'And that is why, I suspect, blogging and commenting is such a fruitless exercise..

who don't like points of view other than theirs to be heard.

If you want to smile, go to Richardson's own blog (I know, it's contradictory for him to have one, but he does like his own voice to be heard, and he makes the rules for posting so tight that no one really can). The site is more or less a pulpit for him, with the odd comment allowed from his mate Peter Kirk, who only lives down the road from him and could just as easily say his piece when they meet in the baker's.

But, it's useful to know that the Akinola wing and the Turnbull wing (both the same people) want to stifle debate. Good to hear it from their own lips.

Posted by liddon at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 9:37am BST

Pluralist...I think you will find that +Liverpool and the council back WH and its Principal....despite the noise of Mr Bates in The Guardian (maybe they don't read it....or required evidence to take action?)

Mr Bates....glad you do not expect to be influential -that must save a lot of disappointment.

Posted by NP at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 10:36am BST

"I would rather that sites like this be closed down altogether..."

Yes some would. Some think of this as McCarthyism or "Big Brother".

Another of my strategies has been to put these souls in a conundrum. They either allow us to communicate unfettered (which implies a tolerance of our dialogues) or they have to move to refute our suggestions (lest they be seen to inadvertantly condone).

The thing that is really pissing some of them off (not necessarily you Matthew) is that we are reading the bible and finding examples and precedents to continue Jesus' inclusive reformation principles.

They would rather shut us down than acknowledge we have biblical justification for our concerns and positions.

For some it is absurd that God desires an end to tyranny, in their paradigm it is God desires them to be the penultimate tyrants.

Tyrants can not cope with conversations or explanations, they interfere with world conquests.

What some souls have failed to understand is that souls are converting to Christianity because they read Jesus' word in the bible which holds the promise of peace and redemption for all souls (including their ancestors who did not even know the bible existed). The tyrants think they are recruiting mindless slaves, God knows they are recruiting the meek and humble. The tyrants think they have recruited chaff and army fodder, God knows they have given God's Word to holy sparks who desire peace and sustainability.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 11:57am BST

"I would rather that sites like this [TA] be closed down altogether". Bet you would, Matthew Firth; bet you would! As Göran says, "Soooo much handier..." Certainly makes your statement "my comments are not reflective of any partisan attitude at all" that much more credible. Just how gullible do you think we are?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 12:32pm BST

Ref Stephen Bates's comments:

I have not heard of anyone who ever denied that the report was an official one. My point was, as I mentioned earlier, different: namely, that 'official' reports do not (in the fundamnetalist way of things) fall from the sky, but issue from very particular and very small groups of people with very particular backgrounds and presuppositions. Different committee: different report.

The shortcomings of the Norrington table are well-known, but aren't its strengths also? If for example Merton consistently comes top, that surely means something? And in any case, what better alternative is there for assessing the colleges' relative strengths? Nothing so sophisticated as the Cooper-Deloittes multi-factor cricket ratings yet - but maybe one day there will be.

The point that has not yet been answered is: It is quite impossible that any *academic* criticism should fall primarily against Wycliffe: quite the reverse, in fact, since they are clearly the Hall with by far the *most* degree-standard students. This tells strongly against the overall emphasis of the original Guardian article; and if anyone were to suspect SB of merely telling his readers what they wanted/expected to hear (which would be a shame, because the Guardian is not usually by any means a tabloid) according to a preconceived worldview, then I wd maintain that this article could possibly be read as evidence for this.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 1:10pm BST

What is apparent is that a report in whatever way touching Wycliffe Hall makes some people panicke.

Interesting.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 5:55pm BST

Well why do they panic - because Wycliffe Hall is another issue about the same issue. The fault lines are the same, which is why there is a big noise of cracking.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 10:02pm BST

Goran - you see panic??

I see the Principal in place, supported by his council, with a full staff and students taking all places available.....they don't look like they are in panic at WH - do they???

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 7:21am BST

I am as usual referring to the comments here.

The denials, the evasions, the rubbishing, the insolence...

Panicke.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 9:59am BST

Not least; the calls for censorship ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 10:00am BST

>> the insolence <<

Exactly - it's the lack of respect for their liberal, clever 'betters' that galls them so much

Posted by Robert Klein at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 11:32am BST

Goran....do you know the English word "tosh"?

What I see on this thread is a group which wants the Principal of WH to fall.....and people like me saying there is no panic at WH.

I see Turnbull in place and the college looking healthy (and better managed than in the past)....I ain't in a "panic" but then I wish WH well so there is no reason for me to be disappointed that it seems to be doing well as the new Principal modernises it.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 11:43am BST

Some souls don't panic. Sociopaths never panic. The complacent never panic. The arrogant and cruel never panic. Their failure to panic is actually their condemnation, it shows they have no remorse or conscience or empathy or humility.

Isaiah 29:13-24 springs to mind "The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? In a very short time... the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down — those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. Therefore this is what the LORD, who redeemed Abraham… “No longer will Jacob be ashamed... When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy… and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”

I quite like that last sentence. It fits in with a business maxim that your worst customer is your best friend. If you listen to their complaints and address the legitimate grievances, you end up with a better business. The same thing applies to theology, churches, even communities and nations. Listen to the grievances of the abused: women, children, GLBTs, outcastes, the poor. Heal them and you will heal yourselves in kind.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 12:07pm BST

"Goran - you see panic?? I see the Principal in place, supported by his council, with a full staff and students."

You are consistent in your approach to reality, NP - I'll give you that.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 12:36pm BST

"1984" ain't "modernising", NP.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 2:10pm BST

NP,
You see a conspiracy by the EHBLs to bring down the godly principal of Wycliffe????

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 5:15pm BST

NP: >> people like me saying there is no panic at WH. >Some souls don't panic. Sociopaths never panic. The complacent never panic. The arrogant and cruel never panic. Their failure to panic is actually their condemnation, it shows they have no remorse or conscience or empathy or humility ... Listen to the grievances of the abused: women, children, GLBTs, outcastes, the poor. Heal them and you will heal yourselves in kind.<<

Heavens - now Wycliffe Hall and Turnbull are responsible for all the oppression of women, children, the poor, homosexuals etc in the world? Astounding that a yorkshireman and a little orange building can accomplish so much in so little time.

Does Cheryl's interpretation of the scripture apply to Evangelicals who feel marginalised and oppressed in the Church of England ... or is that a bridge too far?

Posted by Robert Klein at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 9:34am BST

Robert,
I think the point is that Wycliffe isn't so much responsible for those evils as the mindset indicated by the current situation seems to be exactly the mindset that perpetuated those evils for centuries, and that we need to learn from and not repeat the great mistakes we have made in the past.

"Evangelicals who feel marginalised and oppressed in the Church of England"

Explain, please, with particular reference to "oppressed", if you would. According to NP, Evangelicalism is growing by leaps and bounds in England. What is the "oppression" you are talking about? Around here, I get the feeling that "oppression" is used by Evangelicals to mean "not in agreement with me". I need some clarification.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 12:28pm BST

Robert

The Wycliffe Hall leadership is not responsible for the abuse of GLBTs, women, children or outcastes who occurred before their office or outside their jurisdiction.

They are responsible for the GLBTs, women, children or outcastes since thier office and within their jurisdiction.

If they claim to represent the penultimate manifestation of what God desires, they become responsible for others who emulate their teachings (no matter how distorted or for how many before generations or hence).

Welcome to the Jesus condundrum. Claim to be of the God of the Old Testament, then you are of accountable to the God of the Old Testament. Insult or deny the God of the Old Testament and discover the irrelevance of your cruel self serving sophitries.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 1:08pm BST

>>They are responsible for the GLBTs, women, children or outcastes since thier office and within their jurisdiction.<<

Who are these people who have been oppressed by the leadership of Wycliffe Hall? Can you name a single one of them? What makes you think they exist? I have talked to women and the husbands of women who study there and they have said that the leadership, in particular Richard Turnbull, have been very supportive of them and that Turnbull had even "gone in to bat for" them.

p.s. I love the term 'outcastes'. It makes me think of queues of people not being let into Wycliffe as they have the wrong dot on their foreheads!

Posted by Robert Klein at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 5:05pm BST

Does Wycliffe allow Hindus to study there?

Another of my jokes is that no one who has collected a win from a lottery has complained that the system doesn't work.

Under apartheid, many white South Africans so no problem with the system and were oblivious or indifferent to the suffering of the non-winners.

Journalists recognise that they are sometimes spun a story, show to "ideal" households, or only able to talk under supervision so that only "suitable" messages are given and "appropriate" images recorded. Sometimes journalism involved pulling away the veil to see what is really going on. It sometimes requires talking not to the "winners" but to those who did not succeed in the system.

Sometimes there are important lessons to be learnt. No college admits everyone nor passes everyone. There is always some who are left disaffected or drop out. Sometimes for personal reasons (e.g. family death or accident), sometimes because they realise they have chosen a wrong path, sometimes because there is a problem with what they thought they were going to be taught and what they actually get.

I know of many Christians who stopped going to church because they thought Jesus and the bible was about love, peace and forgiveness; and were sick of witnessing hate, aggression and accusations.

To ask to name a single one is to claim that no one has been affected. That just doesn't gel with any kind of reality. That is actually more scary than an acknowledgement that there are one or two who were disaffected.

Earlier you asked if Evangelicals can feel persecuted? Yep. I do. What's really sad is that other Evangelicals say that I am not an Evangelical.

But the bible tells us we can walk either left or right and God still gives us guidance (Isaiah 30-:21)

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 11:16pm BST

Wycliffe must be turning in his grave.

Posted by L Roberts at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 11:42pm BST

Ashes swirling, maybe, L. Roberts.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Thursday, 23 August 2007 at 12:09pm BST

"I know of many Christians who stopped going to church because they thought Jesus and the bible was about love, peace and forgiveness; and were sick of witnessing hate, aggression and accusations."

As do I Cheryl. The interesting thing is those who on the one hand deny that such people exist, while on the other hand promote the myth of the persecuted Church surrounded by a hostile world. They need to believe the abstract "world" hates them because they are standing for God's truth and the world hates them "because it also hated Him". To acknowledge that it is their own bad behaviour that has driven so many away would explode this myth, and also their self-righteousness, since driving people away by demanding others mindlessly obey a Gospel they patently don't follow themselves is NOT righteous behaviour.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 23 August 2007 at 1:24pm BST

Yes, lapinb i see what you mean. Oh dear.

Posted by L Roberts at Thursday, 23 August 2007 at 8:25pm BST

The reason I think sites like this should be closed down is that the comment on here is generally from such a distance to the events being discussed that it renders most of the comments as quite flawed.

Lots of time is taken up on here gossiping about so many half truths. That time would surely be better spent by getting back to the centre of Christianity which is about holy living and spreading the gospel, not endless comments about internal church politics.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Friday, 24 August 2007 at 10:20pm BST

But we do not agree on what that is, do we Matthew?

Seems to me we (you) must agree to disagree first.

;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 7:21am BST

Mathew wrote

"...comment on here is generally from such a distance to the events being discussed that it renders most of the comments as quite flawed."

Sorry, I'm talking about my personal existence. Am I too far from myself?

Or is a parallel story from another diocese irrelevant to Wycliffe?

My father managed to sexually abuse both myself and my sister for decades. He told us that if we let him do it to us he would leave the other one alone. If we sought help he would murder our sister and mother and then come for us. Because we literally feared for our lives, we only found out in our 20s nearly a decade after the last one had moved out what he had done. It took us both a decade to "recover" from that relevation, and we now both strongly dislike pedophiles and anything that would help them repeat what was done to us.

Anyone who tells victims to shut up is automatically creating a culture that enables predatory behaviour.

You are either for child abuse or you are against it. If you are against it, you are against any other patterns that could evolve into it (even if that might take decades or centuries).

The realisation of this is so profound that one of Sydney's Catholic ex-Archbishops has just published a book talking about his own victim experience 50 years earlier and recommending a fundamental reform of the Catholic system. In fact the very things souls are trying to bring into Anglicanism, he is recommending be removed from Catholism. The concerns he expresses parallel our concerns about Wycliffe. The concerns need to be addressed. After all, if they are "innocent" today, then it would be prudent and responsible to protect from a predator moving in tomorrow, wouldn't it?

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/revisiting-the-darkest-hours/2007/08/24/1187462523667.html
http://blogs.theage.com.au/thereligiouswrite/archives/2007/08/_a_sydney_catho.html
http://blogs.theage.com.au/thereligiouswrite/archives/2007/08/_a_sydney_catho.html
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002567.html#comments


Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 9:55am BST

Weasel words, Matthew Firth. The fact is you want debate closed down, and that's the problem with Reform and their like; they don't want any debate. They just want to say what other people can do. Why not apologise for your mistake and we can move on?

Posted by liddon at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 10:16am BST

Sorry for what you have been through Cheryl.
Thanks for all you share here.
with my good wishes

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 6:40pm BST

The Principal's Church Times letter fails to put my mind at rest, I am afraid.

I think I see what DW Winnicott called 'false self compliance' at work, but only in public, of course.

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 6:43pm BST

Matthew: the centre of the Christian message is not holy living and spreading the Gospel. It is God's grace and a man who is God hanging on a cross. I thought evangelicals were supposed to know that?

As for holy living - well telling the truth without spin mught come in there. Certainly behaving as a compassionate and supportive employer ought to. It's a bad day when Christian employers can't even keep to the standards set by the law of the land, let alone do better.

And some people posting here who are critical of what is happening at WH may be closer to the situation than you think. So closing down discussion seems like you are hoping people won't spot the dreadful things that have been happening.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 9:00pm BST

If we all lived and passed on the gospel message that Frozenchristian speaks of rather than commenting endlessly about church politics and half-truths about Wycliffe then the church and the world would be in a better state.

Posted by Matthew Firth at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 9:57pm BST

OK, Matthew
Have you (or any other supporter of the new Wycliffe line) seen the advertisement for the post in doctrine and history at Wycliffe? It's on the Latimer Trust webpage: http://latimertrust.org

Note that all applicants have to sign a declaration saying that they believe in 'male headship'!!!!


No half-truths here. It's in black and white.

Posted by bertie g. at Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 10:05pm BST

Actually Matthew, some of us can wear more than one thinking hat a time. Thus, we attempt to live and pass on the gospel message AND endlessly contemplate whether or not our church infrastructure and systems are honoring God's name.

I would have though that was a biblical requirement of all members of the body. The book of Susanna gives a good example of how parishioners can prophetically speak against priests who try to extort, falsely accuse or white wash to hide their own corruption and misdeeds. All the rebuking prophets and especially Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, Malachi and Obadiah make a special point that the priests are held more accountable to God that their flocks, who act on on the priests' advice and conduct.

http://www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter1-9.html This torah study comments there should be lots of wise souls available to give good advice and to pass compassionate judgement. A part of their roles as judges is to walk the talk, but walking the talk does not mean they are not accountable for scrutinising their community or leaders.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 8:29am BST

"Note that all applicants have to sign a declaration saying that they believe in 'male headship'!!!!"

Their beliefs "basis" is found on "about us". The deadline for applications was on August 16th.

Unbelievable.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 1:54pm BST

Thanks Bertie G for the heads up on the research fellowship position - I assume all applicants will have to sign up to the Latimer Trust's doctrinal basis in full: see http://latimertrust.org/download/basis.pdf .
This is not only fascinating on male headship but also on the sacraments and the nature of priesthood. They actually PROHIBIT the use of vestments at the eucharist.
The Latimer Trust's doctrinal statement is basically an extreme version of c17th Puritanism (see the Millenary Petition of 1603 for an uncanny comparison). Their tradition is not that of apostolic Christianity, it is an ultra-ultra-conservative product of Reformed streams within Protestantism.

Posted by Sarah at Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 2:23pm BST

Interesting about this new job at Wycliffe Hall. Did anyone see it advertised anywhere else - like the national papers, Church Times or Church of England Newspaper? If not, why not? Could it be that it is some already done deal? What is the betting that one of those worthies photographed on the Latimer Trust site (or some protegee) will suddenly be announced as the next doctrine lecturer at Wycliffe? Since the Latimer site is asking supporters for money to support Gerald Bray and Andrew Athestone ('involvement') my money is on one of them.

Posted by phil at Sunday, 26 August 2007 at 11:42pm BST

"The reason I think sites like this should be closed down is that the comment on here is generally from such a distance to the events being discussed that it renders most of the comments as quite flawed."

The reason I have such problems with conservative Evangelicals is that it is so easy to think that all consevos, or indeed, all evos, think like this. Frankly, who the heck are you to think anything should be closed down? Is it just a reflex to assume that you have the moral high ground and you get to sit in judgement on others because a more or less literal interpretation of Scripture means you speak with the voice of God? How much does Jesus pay for the position of Judgement Seat Warmer? You don't see that our discussions here are of any benefit? Neither do I, except on a personal level. What gives you the right to state that this means it would be better if such sites were shut down? Supposing I said that given that most Evangelicals have a very distorted view of the world and the Gospel and overidentify with the persecuted Christians of the Early Church, it would be better if Evangelical Churches were shut down? The former statements can only be my bigotted understanding, and the final statement is not mine to make.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 27 August 2007 at 4:59pm BST

"Note that all applicants have to sign a declaration saying that they believe in 'male headship'!!!!"

Nowhere is the divide between Conservative Evangelicals and the rest of us so clearly pointed out to me as in this issue. It is completely alien to me. I didn't even think of it in the OOW debate of the late 70s/early 80s. At best, I can consider it as a rather quaint and humourous diversion, yet, for "them" it is not only an important issue, but a very clear one. Some of "them" are even ready to redefine the Trinity in order to safeguard "male headship"! It's not that I find it old fashioned, while that is the closest I can come to comprehending it, just that I find the whole concept bizarre. But then, I come from a family of strong women, all born long before the word "feminism" had ever been coined, in a culture that one of my friends describes as a "closet matriarchy", so the idea that men are somehow ordained by God to be the boss is not something I could be expected to relate to.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 27 August 2007 at 6:21pm BST

Fair enough, Ford Elms, but as you suggested to Matthew Frith there are bigger things at stake than what we think or what we relate to. The issue of whether a theological college is playing fair, or is deliberately narrowing the field in a job description so that only very specific people are eligible is surely an issue of justice as well as theology or personal biography?

Posted by phil at Monday, 27 August 2007 at 9:18pm BST

To me the issue is that it is hidden; the manipulative behaviour.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 28 August 2007 at 7:53am BST

Their male headship model is so extreme, that even if God sent the ultimate female archetype, they would claim that she had less understanding of the intent of the bible and God's plan for Jesus than them.

Apparently human males are so superior that their models supercede beings that were created before this earth and exist beyond this planetary realm (see Proverbs 8).

Apparently any female of any level is automatically less than any human male. No wonder John the Baptist manifested in the masculine form.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 28 August 2007 at 9:18am BST

"The issue of whether a theological college is playing fair, or is deliberately narrowing the field in a job description so that only very specific people are eligible is surely an issue of justice as well as theology or personal biography?"

Maybe, maybe not. I doubt Nashotah House would be interested in applications from Evangelicals, for example. I would imagine they'd have a job description that would pretty much ensure that Anglo-catholics would be the majority of applicants, and I doubt they'd give interviews to those Evos who DID apply. The idea that a school or organization should be run by someone who buys into the "mission statement", for want of a better term, of the institution is not all that scandalous. You could just as easily claim that a job description that excludes atheists from applying was unjust. My issue is that something so bizarre as male headship could be used as some sort of litmus test for the appropriateness of the candidate. If that kind of thing so bothers these people, then I would have to ask if they have any business teaching theology in the first place. It seems to represent a rather gigantic missing of the point.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 28 August 2007 at 4:28pm BST

I remember when Richard Turnbull was confirmed - part way through his ordination training. I recall him being baptist, but the point is moot: the CofE were at the time concerned about the growth of 'free churches' and Evangelicals, and didn't want to be left behind, so they welcomed into their bosom brothers like Richard. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was at work there. Regardless the Bishops now begin to reap what they sowed, and having 'promoted' (if there is any such concept) him to Wycliffe they shouldn't moan if he serves as a leader for these groups in the Church of England and is a little eccentric in the process. It is merely a side-effect of broadening the C of E. Perhaps they didn't understand that one day one wing of the Church would want to exclude them!

Posted by dodgyvicar at Wednesday, 29 August 2007 at 3:03pm BST

As a Director of Ordinands im fascinated by the idea of an ordinand being unconfirmed before he enters training.A slip up here it would seem both within his sponsoring diocese, with the selectors at his conference and with Ministry Division.....Im very suprised.

Posted by perry butler at Friday, 31 August 2007 at 3:40pm BST
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