Comments: Reform: Where Now On Women Bishops?

Well, that's one way to spin it. You might also say that two-thirds of the laity felt the measure required no revision.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 3:45pm BST

"These figures are significant because they show that we got hammered in all three houses" might have been a more honest statement (hammered wasn't the first verb that came to mind).

Posted by Graham Ward at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 7:50pm BST

Of course as I pointed out before Reform are already operating as a Church within a Church

there is an excellent letter in this weeks Church of England Newspaper, of an open evangelical who finds himself in a parish taken over by a Reform cleric. There is no provision for him.

It sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury is more like Nev Chamberlain in the way he deals with these folks. Archbishop Carey to give him his due gave very short shrift to Charles Raven.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 8:47pm BST

"I moved an amendment to the proposed measure on women bishops which, had it passed, would have enabled parishes to opt for a ‘complementary bishop’"

Why that would be great! To have the guy (of course) with the pointy hat come in and say "Oh what a lovely church you have." or "What a moving liturgy that was." or "What a talented choir you have." or "I've never enjoyed myself so much." etc.

It's too bad that he spelled "complimentary" wrong.

Posted by Deacon Charlie Perrin at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 9:32pm BST

More creative arithmetic to snatch victory from the maw of defeat.

And how does this square with those who lament that the laity and clergy even have a voice in the discussion?

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 9:49pm BST

Well, as Andrew Brown put it:

'In fact it is taken fr granted by the vast majority of Anglicans in this country that no one nowadays could possibly read the Bible the way the Reform does. so I felt a short piece pointing out what they actually believe was worthwhile.'

I think he was right; Reform's success in continuing to infiltrate our church depends on people not realising that their model of marriage is that demonstrated by Peter and Iris Robinson...

Posted by chenier1 at Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 11:45pm BST

Reform do not like mitres..when Jesmond ( a leading Reform parish in Newcastle upon Tyne ) used to invite their bishop ( he is now banned)to confirm he was always told not to wear a mitre!

Jesmond refuses to have their bishop.Thy import ones from abroad. They never invited the rural dean to preach as he was Anglo-Catholic.

They license their own clergy.

They started a church plant in Tom Wright's old diocese.

No cross can be placed on the communion service.

In keeping with the practice of the evangelical wing of the C of E they throw away the leftover communion elements.

The quota was capped.. I think ( could be wrong) they now boycott it completely.

Yet they are still in the C of E pension scheme.

And this is the likes of people threatening to leave the C of E! People who Rowan wants to keep.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 5:53am BST

R I Williams seems to take a perverse delight in telling us "how it is" in his former church. But I am pretty sure his description of Jesmond and other Reform parishes is largely accurate.For me, as a life long member of the C of E and a retired parish priest, the question is, how did we get into this situation? An evangelical parish that abandoned liturgy, defied its bishop, refused to honour its financial commitments etc would have been simply unthinkable 50 yrs ago.Is it simply that nothing can be done about it...a recipe for further fragmentation...or that "doing something" is too complicated,likely to cause too much fuss or what? Is it because a parish like Jesmond is well attended and powerful? Are we so bewitched by numbers and money that the anglican ethos can just be dispensed with? Icabod!!

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 8:29am BST

Perry, 50 years ago it was the Anglo-Papalists who behaved like that. Do you remember Eric Mascall's verse "I am an Ultra-Catholic..."?

Plus ca change...

Posted by cryptogram at Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 11:29am BST

There is, of course, a considerable degree of hypocrisy involved; Jesmond puts a great deal of effort into trying to recruit from Newcastle University since it seems less interested in those of slenderer means. A recent sermon by Ian Garrett puts it thus:

'But the other way we do that is through our welcome of internationals. Year by year, we seek to reach out to the thousands of internationals studying and living in Newcastle who aren’t yet Christians. But we also provide a spiritual home for those who are already Christians. And your commitment to that side of our church’s life – in paying for its staffing and expense, and in the large numbers of you involved in it – is also exemplary.'

Which is all well and good, but Jesmond most certainly does not tell the female students that they should give up their degree courses as this is not the role God has determined for them.

If it did then the supply of female recruits would dry up, so they don't.

Of course, if they were true to their principles one might respect them, whilst disagreeing with them.

But they are not true to their principles...

Posted by chenier1 at Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 1:07pm BST

I wonder why no one addresses the wider issue of evangelism?

It seems to me, from talking to many friends, that a great many people are so turned away by anti-women, anti-gay rhetoric, endless discussion seemingly going nowhere, and by squables over jurisdiction (if they stay around long enough to hear about it) that they will not go near a church.

In my area, the mega-churches seem to prosper. But I wonder what the turnover is? Our Episcopal congregation is solid, even growing a little. But who counts the still larger numbers who are repelled by the simplistic, the exclusionary?

Perhaps I may be alone in thinking that reactionary Christianity is rending the church in deep and permanently damaging ways - but who will actually come to church in 50 years?


Posted by Nat at Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 5:29pm BST

Jesmond is not largely student, but draws a large number of everyday people. granted there is a middle class professional bias, but working class people are there too, and welcomed.

The congregation of Jesmond are sincere and devoted Christians. It would be wrong to portray them as a homophobic Taliban. There are inconsistencies in Reform, but I would prefer these persons to convert to Rome, than our so called Anglo-Catholic friends. They genuinely seek the glory of God.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 23 July 2010 at 6:55am BST

But come on R I Williams they arent going to convert to RC ism are they? i suspect many of them think RCs arent Christians.A young Chinese student who wandered into my church shortly before i retired amazed me by talking of Christians and Catholics, which on further discussion turned out to be two different religions.

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 23 July 2010 at 12:14pm BST

Perhaps I may be alone in thinking that reactionary Christianity is rending the church in deep and permanently damaging ways - but who will actually come to church in 50 years?


Posted by: Nat on Thursday, 22 July 2010 at 5:29pm BST

I incline to this view myself Nat. Bit I'm almost past caring, alas.

The encouraging thing is to see people's spiritualities, developing in creative, life-enhancing, life-affirming ways - so many wonderful novels, poetry, music, film; and the resilience and courage of individuals and families, in the face of crises,such as illness and bereavement.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Friday, 23 July 2010 at 7:54pm BST

Perry in recent years there have been increasing numbers of converts from Evangelicalism, and as far as I can observe, they are much better Catholics than some former Anglo-Catholic converts.

Go to journey home EWTN and just listen

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 23 July 2010 at 8:34pm BST

R I Williams

I actually was quoting from a sermon preached at Jesmond in June of this year specifically mentioning the large amounts of money spent on the 'thousands of internationals studying and living in Newcastle' as well as 'a spiritual home for those who are already Christians'.

Can you point me to anything supporting your contrary claim? I am familiar with Jesmond because it tried to recruit my daughter who was a medical student in Newcastle; the approach was theologically crude and simplistic, but definitely did not mention the hard-core Creationism -not a plus point for a medical student- nor the submitting to the authority of her potential future husband -equally not a plus point for a woman training to be a doctor, since doctors spend their lives making independent decisions- which are doctrines that Jesmond, as a member of Reform, claim to be Divinely revealed truth.

Even the watered-down 'don't scare them off' version had no appeal for her; the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres may not be perfect, but he ensures that anyone he confirms in St Pauls has survived the theological and biblical study equivalent of boot camp, and is ready to face the world with knowledge as well as faith.

Sadly not everyone is as well prepared, and in my view Jesmond uses the respectability of the Church of England as a kind of cover; parents of University students can and do worry about cults but who is going to think of the CoE as a cult?

I am sure that there are many sincere and devoted Christians at Jesmond; it is unfortunate that those running the show are less than frank about what their beliefs actually are when they try to recruit new members. Secrecy and money, as we know from Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ, is not a good mixture...

Posted by chenier1 at Friday, 23 July 2010 at 11:40pm BST

jesmond is not a cult but a dynamic loving Christian community. The vicar's wife is a Doctor and a first rate one at that. In fact the congregation has dozens of doctors..all of them free thinking intelligent individuals. Chenier1 you completely stereotype male headship in the family. It is not overlordship. Furthermore you don't have to be a six day creationist to be a member of Jesmond parish Church. I have only happy memories of Jesmond, and still have friends who worship there.

They never cut me off for becoming a Catholic.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 2:18pm BST


I do wonder whether you have ever bothered to look at what Reform really espouses: try looking at their website, which notes that Reform Trustees and Council Members sign each year the following three documents:

1. The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

A small sample from Danvers, noting the need to oppose:

'the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives.'

which, naturally, leads in to:

'wives should forsake resistance to their husbands' authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands' leadership'.

It is feminist egalitarianism which enables girls to study medicine in the first place; the fact that a female doctor subsequently manages to forget that point is hardly evidence that there is nothing to worry about for other girls who wish to study medicine.

And whilst I would not dream of denigrating the 'values of motherhood [or] vocational homemaking', the claim that God regards these and similar roles as the only appropriate ones for women is downright nonsense.

2. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

A small sample:

'Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.'

In the Bible God created the world in six days; Reform really is, as you put it 'six day Creationist'.

3. The Reform Covenant

A small sample:

'The infallibility and supreme authority of "God's Word written" and its clarity and sufficiency for the resolving of disputes about Christian faith and life'.

How you manage to derive from these documents the claim that Reform is not hard-core Creationist, rejecting all Biblical scholarship as well as rejecting all that science tells us about how we came to exist is not clear to me. There is no ambiguity in the words they use. The most likely explanation is that you have not read them.

I am glad, however, that you continue to have good friends within the congregation; perhaps they too didn't read what they were signing up for...

Posted by chenier1 at Saturday, 24 July 2010 at 5:48pm BST

ChenierI agree with Reform in all of these areas, except as a Catholic I believe the word of God also extends to the sacred tradition as orally passed down and safe gaurded in its interpreation by the living Magisterium. I believe only through that medium one can safely arrive at the meaning of Holy Scripture.

Sadly Reform cannot agree as to what the Bible teaches as regards divorce because of sola scriptura...a man made doctrine of the reformation.

The teaching of male headship is a Catholic teaching, although it has not been taught by the last three Popes...but it has never been denied either , and the Scripture passages which affirm it are part of the readings at Mass.

Male headship is not overlordship and dictation. It is a very beautiful teaching, as is mutual submission of the spouses.

A womam can be a Doctor or a Monarch and yet obey her husband, and support him as the head of the family.That is not servile but beautiful and a good number of women ( educated as well) agree with that.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 25 July 2010 at 7:03pm BST


Really? So you believe, inter alia, that:

'We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.'

You do realise that the Pope is not a six day Creationist, and that the Vatican says that Darwin was right? They won't even sign up to Intelligent Design, much less the whole 'Genesis and everything else in the Bible is literal truth' hard-core Creationist stuff trotted out in the Chicago statement. They had a conference on it marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species last year.

And Pope JPII apologised to Galileo, but that was last century.

It seems a shame that you have to deconvert because you believe that the Pope is completely wrong on Creationism, and completely wrong on just about the whole of science, for that matter, but since you are sure that he and the Roman Catholic Church are wrong then I'm sure Reform will welcome you back...

Posted by chenier1 at Sunday, 25 July 2010 at 8:27pm BST

The pope is entitled to his opinion on this subject, but until he officially defines it , it is his opinion. However as Catholics we have to believe in the common ancestry of the whole human race and original sin.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 26 July 2010 at 6:35am BST


'The pope is entitled to his opinion on this subject, but until he officially defines it , it is his opinion. However as Catholics we have to believe in the common ancestry of the whole human race and original sin.'

I was just reading a post on a later thread pointing out that you seemed to be profoundly ignorant of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church; I suppose that it comes as no surprise to discover you magnanimously allowing the Pope to have his opinion, whilst being convinced that he is entirely wrong on such trifling details as how God brought the universe, and us, into being.

On the one hand you claim that the Petrine Texts are to you greater proofs of Christ than the resurrection, but on the other hand assert that Peter's heir hasn't a clue when it comes to the Creation that Christ came to save.

If this is the sort of 'thinking' encouraged by Reform then all the more reason for them to depart the Church of England for pastures more amenable to their utter rejection of what may be learned by both science and art.

The rule of the ignorant can only be maintained by institutionalised ignorance; no wonder they don't want people challenging their viewpoints in any way. And no wonder they keep the whole hard-core 6 day Creationism quiet; if people were aware of it they would be a laughing stock.

As for the need to oppose feminist egalitarianism urged by the Danvers Statement, I should point out that Jael would have been expelled from Reform because she didn't get Heber's permission before murdering Sisera. The Bible, on the other hand, which according to Reform is literal truth, seems to think highly of her.

And on that happy note I must go and purchase a tent-peg and a hammer; I need to get in some practise...

Posted by chenier1 at Monday, 26 July 2010 at 12:51pm BST

I repeat the Catholic Church allows Catholics to interpret the creation, within a framework of non negotiables. I used to believe in theistic evolution, but I am increasingly less satisfied with it. I feel people discredit the creationists too swiftly.They are not backward hillbillies, and have the following of some erudite scientists.

Remember Pope John Paul the second made some disastrous episcopal appointments and his Assisi event was so open to misinterpretation. I do not rank him as John Paul the Great. I also feel it will be a very long time before he is canonised.

Evolution is not a defined dogma of Catholic belief. It is a theory, which I can reject or accept within the Catholic guidelines , on the common ancestry of humankind and original sin.

However at Darwin's home in Downe, kent, thy present John Paul's statement as if it were Catholic belief.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 26 July 2010 at 10:21pm BST

The Pope is only infallible when he speaks definitively and officially on an issue of faith or morals. He is not like the Mormon prophet who claims to have a direct line to God. We do not regard his every thought and statement as de fide.

When I was re-evaluating my Christian Faith,
( having found Anglicanism to be inadeqaute, contradictory and having no real coninuity) I looked objectively at Christianity in general. Could it be a deviation and heresy of Judaism. After all the Jewish people are the world's most brilliant people. Could they be right to reject Christ. I felt they had a point when they criticised the resurrection as being limited to a seemingly inner group...just over 500 people.

However whilst I concluded there could have been a resurrection conspiracy, I can't see how the Petrine texts and how they contain in embryo the doctrines of infallibility and indefectibility, and the keys, so blossom, and have served the Church so well, could have been man made.God's way of preserving his Church is the real miracle to me. Otherwise we would be in the chaos , worldwide Anglicanism seems to be in.Seeing Anglicanism's problems ( and I say this in charity and not peoples souls are at stake.) shows me a house on sand , contrasted to one built on rock.

This acted as my road to faith..and I accept the resurrection because the Church tells me so. As St Augustine says, I would not believe the Gospels if it were not for the Catholic church.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 26 July 2010 at 10:57pm BST

Please can we limit comments on this thread to the topic of the thread, i.e. what Reform thinks. Thanks.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 27 July 2010 at 8:09am BST

I have been doing my best to do that, Simon, but one's best may not be good enough.

Interestingly enough, I entered into a discussion in another place about what Reform thinks. The person involved tried to claim that Reform is not hard-core Creationist, by pulling up the figleaf of a leaflet repudiating hard-core Creationism in support of that. What s/he failed to mention was that the leaflet said that the views of the person writing it were not those of Reform, which, of course, signs the hard-core Six day Creationist literal truth Chicago declaration every year.

There is no way in which this can be spun into anything other than Reform's desire to recruit people by lying about what they really do believe.

As I pointed out at the beginning of ths discussion, I regard Jesmond as a cult in view of the way in which they tried to suck my daughter in by lying to her about their true beliefs, unsurprisingly because if they had been honest about them she would have never have touched them with a bargepole.

Frankly, given RIW's willingness to be economical with the facts it seems that Jesmond has an on-going corruptive effect...

Posted by chenier1 at Thursday, 29 July 2010 at 1:57am BST

Jesmond is certainly not a cult, and I find it appalling and sad you can make such a scurrilous

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 3 August 2010 at 7:02am BST
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