Comments: Church Society calls for 12 Conservative Evangelical Bishops

Pick a number, preferably a Biblical number.

Posted by Alastair Newman at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 8:39pm GMT

As the General Synod gallops further and further away from Biblical orthodoxy it is encouraging to read of this Conservative Evangelical plea for twelve bishops of a Conservative Evangelical outlook. Since Bishop Wallace Benn's retirement there are approximately none within the episcopal ranks of the C of E. Let's also have a dozen orthodox Anglo-Catholic bishops as well! If Archbishop Justin really means what he says then he will react positively to this earnest request. Sadly with so many past broken promises and previous pleas for a Conservative Evangelical P. E. V falling on deaf ears what does that say to us about the future flourishing for those of a Traditionalist outlook?

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 8:53pm GMT

Hopefully at least six of these twelve Conservative Evangelical Anglican bishops will be female.

Posted by Peter Sherlock at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:03pm GMT

For maximum diversity, perhaps the Church of England can engineer appointments so that no bishop agrees with any other bishop on any issue of significance. The idea of a quota system for reactionary bishops is ludicrous.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:15pm GMT

Again with the English heresy that every Christian is entitled to have a bishop who agrees with them.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:36pm GMT

I like this idea,

As a recent, very comprehensive, survey found that 40% of church going Anglicans are in favour of Gay Marriage, can I assume that 40% of Bishops being appointed will be in favour of Gay Marriage too.


Posted by Simon Dawson at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 9:52pm GMT

Since the Church Society wants bishops that reflect the factions of the Church, I assume they won't oppose the appointment of 12 gay bishops to reflect that faction.

Posted by dr.primrose at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:16pm GMT

Why this sudden penchant for bishops ?

Evangelicals don't even believe in bishops in any real way. Just 'district chairmen' (sic).

I look forward to the devise , in due course, of the PEVs.

Posted by Revd Laurie Roberts (not McCain) at Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 10:33pm GMT

Why don't the Church Society instead call for the abolition of bishops, in line with presbyterian ecclesiology?

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 12:42am GMT

*12* bishops? A completely random number, I'm sure. {sarcasm/Off}

Even if his prognostication didn't come true, I can't help but think (in this "Give us 12 bishops!" demand) of V.I. Lenin's boast: "The capitalists will sell us the rope by which we will hang them."

I echo Lionel Deimel's wise words (from a thread below):

"Flying bishops, I suggest, have not served the Church of England well. Whereas the church might have made a decision about the ordination of women and moved forward, it instead institutionalized opposition to such ordinations...I fear the Church of England is about to continue in its sin, rather than repenting of it and moving on."

No "churches within the Church (of England)"! No "neither cold nor hot" Gospel. CHOOSE THIS DAY---then move on.

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 5:29am GMT

Nay, Dr. Primrose not just twelve Gay bishops, if as Simon reports 40% of church going Anglicans are in favour of Gay marriage then surely we must ensure that 40% of the House of Bishops are Gay and married! I calculate that would mean that in future 45.6. Bishops of the Church of England should be Gay. There are enough current episcopal vacancies to ensure that a good start is made in achieving this figure, so let's begin by making the multi-talented and highly gifted Dean of St. Albans a diocesan bishop.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 6:55am GMT

12 is certainly a big ask. Nonetheless, since most people (including these) in the C of E seem to be acquiring some common sense (not before time, of course), this constituency should have greater representation.

Posted by John at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 8:43am GMT

The elephant in the room is this - are we really prepared to be a church that has Diocesan Bishops (and Deans and Archdeacons)who are opposed to the ordination of women?

Posted by Erasmus at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 9:07am GMT

But conservative evangelicals don't like bishops and refuse to recognise their authority in an episcopal church if they disagree with them! Perhaps if there were more conservative evangelical clergy of real intellectual, spiritual and pastoral quality and sensitivity they might find more were appointable...

Posted by Stephen Bates at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 10:28am GMT

dr.primose wouldn't the equivalent not be 12 gay bishops, but 12 bishops whose theology is in favour of gay marriage or some such thing as Simon Dawson suggests (although his figure would make a few over 40 bishops). I wonder if for both figures that wouldn't already be the case already...

Posted by Stephen Watkinson at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 11:02am GMT

Quite right, Erasmus. One of the five principles underpinning the new package is that no-one will be able to suggest that the CofE has not reached a clear decision on the matter. Having diocesan bishops who take an opposing view suggests otherwise, and I personally hope that +Martin Warner will be the last such diocesan appointed.
Although the new package is inevitably full of compromises, I think it would be better if future provision for all dissenters, traditionalist catholic or Conservative evangelical, were made by means of PEVs, and not through any bishop having jurisdiction, direct or delegated, over women priests.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 11:09am GMT

We might take Church Society more seriously if they were committed to the flourishing of women in ordained ministry but they are not. This mutual flourishing seems pretty one sided to me! In addition, they might distance themselves from some of the young male ordinands they allude to who tell female ordinands they should not be in college because, by training for ordination, they are 'disobeying the Lord.'

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 11:21am GMT

The new Bishop of Blackburn describes himself as a Conservative Evangelical but presumably he wouldn't count as one of the twelve because he ordains women and has no truck with the novel doctrine of male 'headship'. Church Society (and others) have redefined 'Conservative Evangelical' along one-issue lines.

Posted by Historian at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 11:21am GMT

We have a nomination system in which diocesan representatives can -- if they choose to act in this way -- veto any candidate for diocesan bishop.

Therefore if any diocese wants to insist on having a bishop who will ordain women then its CNC representatives can veto the nomination of anyone who won't.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 11:25am GMT

"I personally hope that + Martin Warner will be the last such diocesan appointed" Malcolm, how does your hope fit in with the Archbishop of Canterbury's words in His Grace's Presidential address to Synod concerning "commitment to the flourishing of every tradition of the church"? You seem to be looking for extinction rather than mutual flourishing. Martin Warner is proving to be a first rate diocesan bishop who is indeed himself committed to the flourishing of every tradition within his diocese. The appointed but yet to be announced Bishop of Lewes has been specifically chosen for his commitment to all three orders of ministry being open to both male and female candidates. Surely we need more bishops like Dr. Warner, I hope and pray that he most certainly will not be the last Traditionalist to be appointed to the senior ranks of our national Church.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 1:36pm GMT

Fr David - I think we have had this conversation in these pages at least once before, after the appointment of +Blackburn and/or the withdrawal of Philip North from Whitby. I agree that +Chichester is a good and holy man, and I welcome his promise to appoint a bishop to Lewes who will ordain women, which you appear to know through privileged information is to be fulfilled. But, good and holy though he undoubtedly is, his refusal to ordain women represents a serious handicap as a diocesan in a Church which has decided that women can be ordained as priests(and soon DV as bishops).
When a woman priest is installed in Chichester, it is to +Chichester that she is required to swear obedience, not to +Lewes, and yet +Chichester believes that her orders are invalid, or at least questionable (otherwise why would he not ordain her?).
To demand a bishop who agrees with you is one thing and, as Malcolm French points out above, a peculiarly English heresy. But to require a new female incumbent to swear obedience to a bishop who does not believe her orders to be valid is quite another thing, and wholly unacceptable going forward.
I am not seeking extinction for traditionalists, and am happy to see PEVs continue for as long as is necessary, but there have to be some compromises if all are to flourish, and this may be one of them.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 3:58pm GMT

Like the clergy promoted to their livings, Church Society mean by conservative evangelicals, men who are to the right of Oak Hill,and Moore College Sydney.

Men who will not wear mitres, are solidly Protestant and reject:

1) intercession of Saints.
2) Mass vestments and the idea of the apostolic succession.
3) candles, incense, altars etc
4) women priests and bishops. Maybe deacons if they function like the old deaconesses.
5) gay unions and blessings (but accepting of divorce)
7) wishy washy evangelicals like Welby.

Do you think the Crown Appointments are nutty enough to satisfy their wishes?

Posted by robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 4:31pm GMT

I have been attending CofE for 49 years, choir boy, altar server, organist.
I am on the brink of leaving
what a farce.

Posted by Malcolm Gray at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 5:23pm GMT

A lot of this fussing would become moot if the C of E simply did what many of the rest of us in the Anglican Communion do: each diocese elects its own bishop in a synod of clergy and laity. Not without its flaws, but in general it has been working well for us.

Posted by William Moorhead at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 6:19pm GMT

Dear Malcolm, I can't claim to be privy to privileged Information I have merely read the Job and Person Specification for the next Bishop of Lewes which was freely available on the Chichester Diocesan Website for anyone to read.
So what about traditionalists having to swear obedience to a Diocesan Bishop who ordains women in all things "lawful and honest". How does that differ from a female incumbent having to swear obedience to the Bishops of London and Chichester?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 9:02pm GMT

Does the church society hold to the historic threefold ministry? And if so, how? There's not so much in the good Book about it.

Do the church society want twelve conservative evangelical bishops based on the current position and role of bishops? Or they after twelve bishops and in addition a package of reforms such as are embodied in the Reform Covenant? i.e. "The urgent need for decentralisation at national, diocesan and deanery level, and the need radically to reform the present shape of episcopacy and pastoral discipline, to enable local churches to evangelise more effectively."?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 9:27pm GMT

I suspect that if the Church Society aren't given their Biblical Twelve Conservative Evangelical Bishops they will begin to import or even consecrate their own. Once Scripture and Tradition are jettisoned and the first woman bishop is ordained - that's when the realisation will dawn that we have got ourselves into a right old tangle which will never be unravelled.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 4:44am GMT

Father David. How does it differ? Well no one believes that the orders and vocation of traditionalist (male) priests are actually invalid and that they should not even exist in the church. No traditionalist has ever sworn allegiance to, or had their reviewed under the authority of a bishop who does not accept their vocation as valid in the first place. No one can legally discriminate against them in church employment law solely on grounds of their gender. This only happens to ordained women. The truth is that we men can have no idea what this whole era of institutional 'provision' has been like to live with and endure for those ordained to priesthood in the church who happen to be women. How can we? We have a lot of listening to do.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 6:36am GMT

Church Society believe bishops are of the bene esse and not esse of the Church. Mono-episcopacy is historical in development and not apostolic.

Indeed this Protestant view influences the Anglican statements about the "historic episcopate" as the Protestants in Anglicanism would nver have agreed to calling episcopacy, "apostolic."

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 9:04am GMT

The historic problem with conservative evangelical bishops (with several notable exceptions) has been their unwillingness or even inability to be bishops to the whole of their flock. Even those that have been able have been vilified and written off as turncoats or backsliders by their erstwhile peers. If you believe anglo-catholics and liberals are on the high road to hell, you can hardly encourage them,can you?

Posted by cryptogram at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 10:29am GMT

Most evangelicals in the CofE believe in bene esse, no tactile succession, and historic episcopate as faithfulness to the teaching deposit. It's not a new view in reformed catholicism - and it's what the Articles and Ordinal teach. It's only relatively recently that catholics in the CofE have tried to impose mono-episcopacy as the only model. Church Society may be more Protestant than many can stomach, but they are arguably in the mainline tradition of reformation Anglicanism.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 11:06am GMT

Obviously, the questions raised by David Runcorn are very difficult, and - equally obviously - they are even more difficult for women priests (and women in general). But I recall a London woman priest writing on TA in protest at the more or less forced withdrawal of Philip North from Whitby, on the ground that he was completely supportive of her ministry. Many of course would say that he can't be completely supportive because he doesn't recognise it (or has doubts about it - whichever). But, to return to Warner, I also recall a woman priest from Chichester writing appreciatively about him and saying that things were much better for her and other women priests since his arrival. If as bishop of Chichester Warner accepts the discipline of the C of E, as he seems to do, then there is a level on which - or a role in which - he is absolutely committed to the support of his women priests, a level - or role - to which they may be able to respond. MAY. These are awkward - and in some ways dirty - moral areas. Book I of Cicero's 'De Officiis' is very useful for 'thinking with'.

Posted by John at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 11:19am GMT

What a depressing thought ! My intelligence grand daughters will have even less time for the Church.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 4:41pm GMT

I'm sorry, Fr. David, but I thought when you said that the next +Lewes had been 'appointed but not yet announced' that you must know who had been appointed. As to your question 'how does it differ?', David Runcorn has already answered it more eloquently than I could hope to, and I thank him sincerely for it.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 8:06pm GMT

I disagree trenchantly with Martin Warner on the subject of the priestly and episcopal ministry of women. But I'm not sure I could love a Church of England that did not have room for his rich gifts as a Diocesan bishop, any more than I find it possible to love the Church that has no room for Jeffrey John's obvious calling as a bishop, or June Osborne's.

The emerging leaders of what calls itself traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism are a world away from their immediate predecessors. The messy ecumenical experiment that is Anglicanism can, and I trust will, benefit from their leadership.

Posted by The Rev'd Mervyn Noote at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 10:20pm GMT

The new Apartheid in the Church? I guess we always knew the Male -Supremacy Party would want its own 'special provision' - when it seems that the Ultra-Montanes might be allowed their own opposition to Women Clergy and Bishops - on different grounds. Once the Church of England begins to structure such preferential treatment to Dissenters, there may be no end to it.

We Anglicans outside of 'Mother Church' have great difficulty in seeing what all the fuss is about.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 14 February 2014 at 11:24pm GMT

Noote, dear boy, that's the wisest thing I have heard from you in all the years you have been my Domestic Chaplain! I am astonished at your sagacity. The entire Church of England ( with the exception of the diocese of St. Ogg's, of course, where things go on as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be) can in itself now be regarded as "Messy Church" thanks to the machinations of the General Synod ( a body I try to avoid at all costs, although I did speak at it once when I asked for a window to be opened in order to relieve the accumulated stuffiness). Yes, in spite of the tangled web they have foolishly created, you have hit the nail on the head by suggestion in a way to let mutual flourishing reign supreme and to let both grow together until the harvest.
Now pass the Sherry decanter, as my dear old friend Archdeacon Henry Blunt is expected to arrive any moment now!
"Steady bishop!"

Posted by Bishop Cuthbert Heaver at Saturday, 15 February 2014 at 6:59am GMT
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