Comments: Analyses of the recent General Synod votes

Ian Paul wonders if Synod is competent. For what? It was obviously sufficiently competent to authorise the ordination of women as priests and bishops, despite the fact that the majority of the world's Christians don't do this. It is competent enough to dispense with traditional liturgical vesture. But obviously not competent enough to do right by minority people who are made in the image and likeness of God. I just don't get these evangelicals with their tolerance of divorce (about which all three synoptic Gospels are consistent in their condemnation); and their deep revulsion towards LGBT+ people (on which the same Gospels are completely silent). Selective orthodoxy indeed.

Posted by Will Richards at Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 1:59pm BST

Many thanks to Andrew Goddard for his detailed analysis. I'd be very interested to see the responses to the questions he poses at the end. And I wonder just how far the ease of getting these details of who voted for what is itself influencing the way people vote (e.g. Reluctance of a bishop to vote against a motion from his or her own diocese)?

Posted by Helen King at Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 5:48pm BST

Basic question before I cast suspicions on people for no good reason - why would you abstain from voting?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 9:00pm BST

Erica, as someone who did abstain, I felt in an impossible situation. I still feel under equipped, under informed and very hazy about the "therapy" under debate. How widespread is this, what goes on in the Church and what is the therapy? Also, what about the people who unsure of their nature, seek help and prayer? How do we define it? It is too simplistic in the terms and confines of that debate to say for or against. We did not do the matter of the people concerned, justice. We could have done more and better, and not by a p mm

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 9:54pm BST

One reason to abstain would be a recognition that one was incompetent to form a valid judgement on the question being put. This incompetence could be intrinsic, or due to lack of time to study the issues, or failure to make use of the time to study them. If a person does not understand the difference between the 2015 and 2017 psychiatrists statements, or cannot see that one is theologically and biblically better than the other, then perhaps that person should abstain rather than vote with his or her party. On some issues a 100% abstention might be better. Some of the incomprehensible ARCIC statements, and the nuances of doctrinal shifts in Common Worship versus the BCP, may fall into this category. Few grasped them, but few wanted to upset the nice people who proposed them.

Another reason is politicking where an ambitious person wants to appear sympathetic to both sides.

For almost 50 years General Synod has consumed the energies of the best minds in England, while also providing a forum for many of the worst.

Posted by T Pott at Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 11:38pm BST

"We could have done more and better, and not by a pmm."

There I think you may be quite wrong.

If the bishops could have avoided the June votes, they would have.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 27 July 2017 at 4:10am BST

Significantly - again - Andrew Goddard accentuates the lack of theological content, not only in the motions, but in the sparse contributions by the bishops. To whom do we now look for distinctive theological leadership in the Church of England?

This highlights a backs-against-the-wall culture in the House of Bishops. No-one is sufficiently intellectually equipped to do the 'hard' thinking (a la Habgood, Jenkins, Rowell, Williams, Stevenson, Wright etc); and the two archbishops are clearly nervous of too much debate in an area where they are uncomfortable and unable to control. This is where the current obsession with the CEO model of episcopacy comes home to roost.

That the evangelical constituency is now in something of a panic is self-evident. The presence of two evangelical primates, it seems, cannot deliver the 'orthodoxy' that the evangelical constituency expects. In one sense, quite right: episcopally led but synodically governed. Nonetheless, although I do not share their perspective, I think the evangelicals are right to be concerned. To what extent is the House of Bishops, under the clear 'leadership' of the archbishops, on the 'rebound' after the Take Note failure earlier this year? If the criteria is weighted so heavily on public perception, and rigorous theological discussion is kicked in to the long grass, it does make me nervous about what will emerge in the so-called Teaching Document. In the meantime, we must be grateful that people like Andrew Davidson, Simon Sarmiento and Andrew Goddard are asking the difficult questions that the bishops seem unable to face.

Posted by Simon R at Thursday, 27 July 2017 at 7:31am BST

Thank you, Graeme Buttery and T Pott.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 28 July 2017 at 8:46am BST
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