Comments: Opinion - 3 September 2016

Simon Butler's article should be mandatory reading for anyone posting here at Thinking Anglicans.

Some of the people I relate to most on this site have different doctrinal views to my own. In a way a site like this is a microcosm of the wider Church of England (and probably other Anglican Churches too). We need to get past the dogma and seek the person: because God is gracious and God is fundamentally relational.

I deeply believe that we are stronger because we are different. Unique in fact. We are not clones. But even in our differences, if we open up to love and grace, we may discover a person's wonderfulness in the eyes of God.

To me, what makes Anglicanism special and distinctive in the Christian universe is its historic breadth of opinions and beliefs - its 'latitude' to use a term William Tighe raised in a different thread, linking to Diarmaid MacCulloch's article 'The Latitude of the Church of England'.

Where we are different in dogma, we necessarily have to fall back on God for grace and love, and in the process of seeing through to the person, we maybe grow and so may they. Love is the great command. The test really. It doesn't mean surrendering principles or giving up the fight for justice and respect. But it does call us repeatedly to our senses, when we get intemperate. What I have found, over many years, is that decent and faithful people can in all good conscience and sincere fidelity come to different views and opinions.

And the fundamental question is: can we open up to love and relationship? And that has implications for all parties, because love contends for the marginalised, and doesn't give up - and yet, most challengingly of all perhaps, Jesus also told us to 'love your enemies'.

"See how these Christians love one another!" Simon Butler reminds us. We badly need to be reminded.

Our doctrinal rivals may grow more through our love and patience, than through our hate or vituperation. And we may grow through them as well. Relationships can be painful, as can exclusion from relationships. That's the thing: love hurts. But love is the only way, the way of God, and love also grows and creates, and opens us up to who God is, and that's a lifetime's work, not a tweet or an online message like this.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 12:30pm BST

On the names of bishops - surely these revered prelates of old had better nomenclature than their over-familiarly named successors - Tom, Mike and Nick? Mercifully, as "Bob" Runcie once pointed out Archbishop Randall Davidson was never knowingly addressed by a shortened form of his Christian name.
Perhaps more worryingly still is the Top Ten list of today's most popular names given to boys and girls, as reported in today's edition of The Guardian. Among the girls names not a single Biblical name is recorded. The boys fare rather better in that there are three Biblical names listed - Jacob, Thomas and Noah. Encouragingly Noah has risen up four places since the previous year.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 12:42pm BST

Definitely Father Kitkat for unusual clergy names (or should that be clergy unusual names). I do rather like Father Christmas too.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 1:00pm BST

I recall that Chalfont St. Peter once had a curate called "Father Crucifix". I remember seeing a photograph of him hanging in the vestry of the parish church. He wore a biretta and was obviously of High Church persuasion.
My devout and saintly Grandmother - Adelaide (now there's a lovely name which I wish would make a come back) used to tell me of another curate from Seaham Harbour who had "Churchyard" as a surname. Whether it was apocryphal or not, I don't know, but she also told me that he had a pet duck that he used to take for walks on a leash.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 2:54pm BST

For me, Simon Butler is promoting apathy, not love. If a Christian is following the wrong path then we should seek to put them on the right path, but without judging them. That is love. That is mission.

Posted by Kate at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 4:51pm BST

This last week, with the story of Solomon and his request for "wisdom" or discernment in ruling and judging, I somehow recalled that there were two trees is the garden as told in Genesis. The "original sin" was to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in preference to the tree of life. That knowledge is now bound up with our temporal life. But in the city of Revelation there is one tree picked out - the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. I guess knowledge of good and evil might be redundant. Simon Butler's piece and the surrounding debates and circumstances put me in mind of just how hard it is for me to choose as God really wants me to choose, and how really seductive the alternative is. Solomon's life was not straightforward, but his choice seems to have been a choice intended for the benefit of others - do my choices, even my choices of words, really work for the benefit of those about whom, and to whom I write or speak?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Saturday, 3 September 2016 at 5:39pm BST

I was ordained by +Clement George St Michael Parker, Bishop of Bradford. Though he did sign himself simply +Michael Bradford. (A fellow priest who was ordained with me fantasised that the Holy Spirit had signed the presentation bible, 'ordained by me + Michael Bradford.')

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

Before the modern era, bishops (and other dignitaries) signed with the sign of the cross, "Ego", followed by their name.

Posted by Richard at Sunday, 4 September 2016 at 5:42am BST

Hard to imagine anyone being bothered enough to promote apathy.

Posted by David Runcorn at Sunday, 4 September 2016 at 9:38am BST

Wasn't it Wille Whitelaw who accused Harold Wilson of going round and round the country stirring up apathy?

Posted by Fr William at Sunday, 4 September 2016 at 8:03pm BST

Simon Butler's article is nice, of course. Hopefully, we all have friends on all sides of a variety of issues. When it comes to relationships, yes fine, relationships amongst relative equals, that is.

On LGBT issues though, he completely misses the point. This is about power, it is about one side oppressing the other side.

This is not about relative equals having "good disagreement." It is one side demanding that their version of Scripture be rigorously enforced on this one issue, and blinding themselves to the very real possibility of alternate readings (and the hypocrisy of not being so strict on other issues). It is about one side being unwilling to coexist in a church that offers dignity to LGBT people.

There's so much gospel work to do in this world, make peace, offer hospitality to resident aliens (Leviticus - very clear, let's see folks advocate for open borders), feed the hungry, heal the sick, etc. Keeping gays out of the club seems to be a distraction from the real work we are called to do.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 6 September 2016 at 5:23am BST

"There's so much gospel work to do in this world, make peace, offer hospitality to resident aliens (Leviticus - very clear, let's see folks advocate for open borders), feed the hungry, heal the sick, etc. Keeping gays out of the club seems to be a distraction from the real work we are called to do."

I sometimes wonder if CofE bishops secretly welcome the distraction because pushing for open borders etc - and you are absolutely right on that - would put the church on a collision course with politicians and public opinion.

Posted by Kate at Tuesday, 6 September 2016 at 9:15am BST
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