Comments: opinion

I agree with every word Giles Fraser writes about Uganda. I would add that the increasing public hysteria and the increasingly draconian laws are possible because gay people cannot be open.

The reason homophobia decreased dramatically in Western countries is not because we were so much more enlightened and less prejudiced but because more and more people knew more and more 'out' and well adjusted gay people and couples that it became impossible to sustain the myths that gay people were depraved, immoral and responsible for all the sins in the world.
Sadly, it is currently impossible to imagine how this process might even begin in countries like Uganda.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 12:13pm GMT

Regarding the Charismatic invasion of Anglicanism, I find it troubling that the experience I have had with most charismatics is their conservatism and fundamentalism. Parishes who have been involved in the Charismatic movement, or more accurately their clergy, are much more likely to be anti-gay and very sin-focused. These are the kinds of parishes and clergy who find affinity in ACNA and the various breakaway networks. Anglicans who are charismatics have something to offer, but if they become Pentecostal fundamentalists in Anglican clothing, usually there are problems and divisiveness.

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 6:10pm GMT

So Adrian Newman believes that one reason churches fail to grow is a lack of nice lay middle class professionals to show the rest of us what's what. Maybe it's this model of leadership which is at fault rather than the nature of inner city congregations.

Posted by WM at Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 8:41pm GMT

Adrian Newman's writing about the 'good vicar' story is the most nuanced and mature I've read. Growth may indeed be about 'growing' the faith of needy individuals, however complex that may be, and not about numerical advancement. The Church is called to be counter-cultural and numbers on a sheet of paper don't necessarily tell the most compassionate story.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 8:48pm GMT

Ian Paul seems a thoughtful and considered man despite his unfortunate association with Fulcrum.
His posts are always interesting and his perspective worth respect.
I have often wondered how I avoided becoming an evangelical. I rejected firmly the Glasgow Celtic Roman Catholicism of my father and embraced a spectacularly animated and passionate relationship with Jesus brought about by a conversion experience.

I love all the things evangelicals seem to cherish ..........

But as I read Ian's view of what an epiclesis is, I coughed and spluttered back to life as a catholic in body, mind and spirit. Deo Gratias!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 11 January 2014 at 11:58pm GMT

I understand what you are saying WM, but I think Adrian Newman is making a valid point here too. Having led and been part of churches in various settings, I know from experience that there can be problems in inner urban settings (and in small rural churches) where you have very few people who are confident in expressing themselves in writing, or standing up and speaking fluently in front of others, confident about form filling, computer literate and able to deal with running church accounts etc. Whether we like it or not, there is a good deal of administration and communication involved in church life. There are often complex documents to be read and understood - finance, safeguarding, health and safety etc. Without the people able and willing to take on responsibilities which need those skills, it usually falls to the vicar to do so, and you can end up spending all your time doing things which in middle-class churches you could delegate to others (who would probably do it better.)
My experience is that inner urban, and small rural, churches are often very good at doing theology - real theology, not the sort that needs long words...- and very good at loving others. They may have people with practical skills too. Middle class churches often aren't so good at these things.
But the lack of management and administrative skills can really be a drag on time and energy, and can really get in the way of church growth. All the vicar's time is spent keeping the fabric together and there's none left for the things we are really meant to be there for.
If the church is serious about growth it really needs to look at ways of lightening the admin load , and giving really practical help with it to struggling churches.

Posted by Anne2 at Sunday, 12 January 2014 at 8:09am GMT

On the issue of baptism, why not add the ASB rite to the pilot, inviting some of the parishes involved to use this on a trial basis so that a simpler text using traditional imagery can be evaluated too?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Sunday, 12 January 2014 at 3:08pm GMT

I loved this comment by Adrian Newman:

"IF it is true that growth happens more easily within suburban contexts, then it is also the case that it follows the natural grain of culture and homogeneity. In other words, like attracts like.

Yet, in an increasingly fragmented and tribal world, perhaps God is calling his Church to create and become communities of difference. If we are to be icons of hope, perhaps diversity is the key, a kaleidoscopic community struggling with harmony."

Adrian is indeed deep-thinking and nuanced. He is also compassionate and decent.

I think this theology around 'kenosis' - effectively the baptismal archetype of the Way of the Cross - points exactly in the direction that real growth may take place and deepen.

"Unless a grain of wheat falls in the ground..."

"I have a baptism to undergo..." (speaking of His death and resurrection)

and you too, "will be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with" to "take up your Cross daily and follow me."

It is the sign of Jonah and it surely involves surrender of comfortable familiarity, and givenness to God and all God's people.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 12 January 2014 at 6:48pm GMT

Adam Armstrong has a point.

Here in the U.S., when charismatics first started showing up in mainstream churches back in the 70s and 80s, most gave them the boot. Not so the Episcopal Church, which was one of the few mainstream bodies to welcome them.

Sadly, those new arrivals would go on to comprise much of our own breakaway movement.

Be careful.

Posted by JPM at Monday, 13 January 2014 at 5:50pm GMT

...on the other hand, my grandmother (OBM) was BOTH the *first charismatic* AND the *first LGBT-affirming* Episcopalian I ever knew (this, in the 1970s). People can surprise you.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 13 January 2014 at 9:51pm GMT

Reading over this whole comment thread, I am reminded of the final line of "Life With Father," by Clarence Day, Jr., spoken by the title character:

"I'm going to be baptized, godammit!"

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 14 January 2014 at 12:55am GMT

I don't think the Holy Spirit limits her gifts and actions to one certain type of theology or person.

You can find charismatic expressions in catholicism, among liberal christians, in evangelical churches.

The Spirit blows where She will.

I admit over the years that I've found deepening experiences in contemplation and in practical nursing.

And there's always a danger that people get distracted by things that are meant to be signs. A signpost doesn't point to itself.

But having said all that, speaking and praying in tongues is a routine part of my life, I believe in supernatural activity of God, and the spiritual gifts themselves may be intimate and precious, if not co-opted as part of a package of other dogma.

The HTB model of charismatic renewal doesn't really suit me, because it's been bundled with rigidity of dogma on issues like gay sex. But then again, I've known catholics who have liberal views and are also open to charismata.

And even if I don't agree with Nicky Gumbell's views on gay sex, I still believe the Spirit moves in HTB and, like I say, wherever the Spirit wills.

It comes down to baptism and givenness.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 14 January 2014 at 1:07am GMT

"even if I don't agree with Nicky Gumbell's views on gay sex"

Does anyone, including him, actually know what his views on gay sex actually are? Charitably, he seems to have embarked upon a journey of thought and reappraisal. Less charitably, he's telling his various audiences what he thinks they want to hear. But if he, HTB or the Alpha Course could actually formulate a clear statement, it would be interesting to see.

Posted by Interested Observer at Tuesday, 14 January 2014 at 11:24am GMT

JPM says: 'Here in the U.S., when charismatics first started showing up in mainstream churches back in the 70s and 80s, most gave them the boot. Not so the Episcopal Church, which was one of the few mainstream bodies to welcome them.

Sadly, those new arrivals would go on to comprise much of our own breakaway movement.'

This is rather misleading. The vast majority of the charismatics were not 'new arrivals'. People like Dennis Bennett were lifelong Episcopalians who had discovered fresh joy and power through a Pentecostal style 'Baptism in the Holy Spirit'.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 3:17pm GMT
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