Thinking Anglicans

The end of the Communion?

InclusiveChurch has issued the following press release:

The end of the Communion?

1.0 As a result of the statements issued by the meeting of the Primates of the “Global South” in Kigali, the Anglican Communion has been moved into completely new territory. We are presented with a situation where the possibility of dialogue between believing Christians is being closed down. Both the tone and the content of the Communique of the Primates of the Global South reflect an understanding of the Church which is profoundly un-Anglican, and represents a radical departure from both our ecclesiology and our traditions. We are sleepwalking towards a new church, and unless the silent majority of Anglicans do take action we will wake up to find we have lost the Church and the Christianity we hold dear.

2.0 “One church, one bishop, one territory” is fundamental to our Anglican polity and identity; to say that it is now “outdated” is to deny the whole history of Anglicanism . To say that many of the Primates can either not be in communion or to be in “impaired communion” with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (TEC) represents a theological and ecclesiological nonsense, The sacrament of Holy Communion is a sacrament given to us by God which is not capable of impairment. We trust in God and give thanks to Him for the gift of communion; it is as the Body of Christ that we exist.

3.0 The proposal to create two parallel jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion, separate but both nominally Anglican through their relationship with Canterbury, rides roughshod over the Instruments of Unity and over the Windsor process. It also represents a misunderstanding of the nature of Anglican identity. If we are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury we cannot be out of communion with one another.

But we remember that many of the primates of the “Global South” absented themselves from a Eucharist to which they were invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Dromantine Conference in 2005. We draw the conclusion from that that their allegiance to Canterbury is at best skin deep, and subject to his confirmation of their particular position on matters of human sexuality.

We also note that the Communique did not involve or receive the assent of the Archbishop of Cape Town and the Province of Southern Africa, and we wonder how many other Provinces’ assent has been assumed instead of confirmed.

4.0 Those who believe in a church which is both inclusive and welcoming have until now sought to respond to the actions of the Primates of the “Global South” with reason and restraint. As a result, factions within our Church have pushed harder and harder at the bounds of communion. Their proposals now bear only a tangential resemblance to the Anglicanism which has until now defined and developed the Communion.

5.0 We note too that significant amounts of funding for many of the organisations which have led on these – notably the American Anglican Council, Anglican Communion Network and Anglican Mainstream – have come from the Ahmanson family and other non-Anglican, politically conservative foundations based in the United States. This funding has enabled the due processes of the Anglican Communion to be subverted and hijacked, raising issues of family life and human sexuality to a prominence within the life of our church which is unjustified and contrary to the Gospel values of love and justice.

6.0 We have noted with concern that although the Archbishop of Canterbury has implicitly on a number of occasions publicly been critical of the actions of TEC – for example in his recent Pastoral Letter he has as yet not been critical of the very serious breaches of the Instruments of Unity by the Church of Nigeria; for example, the creation of a Bishop in the United States in complete contravention of Windsor guidelines on provincial boundaries. Neither has he challenged the actions of the Church of Nigeria in its vociferous support of the criminalisation of homosexuality in Nigeria despite his condemnation of homophobia on several occasions.

7.0 We note that the Communique from the Primates of the “Global South” identifies the Church of England as being compromised by its attitude towards the civil partnership legislation in this country. We believe it is important in this context for the Church of England to be clear on its current practice. Namely, that hundreds if not thousands of same-gender partnerships have been celebrated over the past thirty years, in churches, by priests and deacons. Further, that there have been, and in the future no doubt will be homosexual bishops in relationships within our church. Any Covenant, therefore, which excludes members of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will have also to exclude the Church of England.

7.0 In the light of what is being produced by the “Global South” we have the following questions for which we request urgent clarification from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office

7.1 Will they confirm that all Bishops duly elected or appointed and with current responsibilities in the Communion will be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference? There can be no other way to ensure that those loyal to the principles of Anglicanism are duly and properly involved in the life of our Communion.

7.2 If “Alternative Primatial Oversight” is granted for the Dioceses seeking it in the United States, what equivalent oversight will be offered to LGBT Christians experiencing danger and discrimination in Nigeria and other parts of Africa?

7.3 What structures exist to permit the selection of an “alternative” to the Presiding Bishop of TEC to attend Primates’ meetings?

7.4 Is the development of parallel jurisdictions acceptable to the ACO? If it is, then what is to stop the development of more jurisdictions on other matters?

7.5 The “Global South” Primates appear to be seeking to pre-empt the Covenant process by preparing a draft with the clear intention of requiring assent to confessional propositions related to homosexuality. What implications does this have for the process of agreeing a Covenant which recognises the depth and breadth of Anglicanism, both Catholic and Reformed?

7.6 What brief was given to the Bishops of Durham and Winchester in their recent attendance at a meeting of Bishops of TEC?

8.0 We are also concerned by the silence from the Bishops of the Church of England. The implications of the “Global South” developments may well, in the near future, have an impact on the Church of England. Indeed there have already been actions which indicate the shape of things to come, such as the unauthorised ordinations in the Diocese of Southwark. There are significant numbers of English Bishops who are deeply perturbed by the actions of their colleagues across the world, and deeply concerned to counter homophobia and prejudice. Why are they not speaking?

9.0 Today we celebrate the life of Lancelot Andrewes, one of the fathers of our church. We deeply regret the way in which the Communion is being undermined and sidetracked by a false Anglicanism which neither reflects nor pays tribute to our history. We trust and pray that the dialogue to which we are all as Christians called will continue so that the Gospel of Christ may flourish in this country and across the Communion.

Giles Goddard
Chair, InclusiveChurch

Lancelot Andrewes; 25th September 2006

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Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Not “the Communiqué of the Primates of the Global South” but a communiqué by unknown parties in the name of the Primates of the Global South.

This distinction is important, being the difference between valid and void.

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

This is excellent ! Thank you.

It really needs saying.

It is very clearly written and clearly thought through.

It will need to be the beginning of a clear and concerted process of both protest against what has been happening to undermine the integrity & polity of ECUSA, the ACC, and Canterbury; & constructive expression of the liberality & catholicity of twentyfirst century Anglicanism.

Columba Gilliss
Guest
Columba Gilliss

Thank you! Your clear and positive statement is deeply encouraging. However, in the last sentence of 1.0 the word not has crept in where it perverts the meaning.
All I’d like to add is that those so quick to withdraw from communion shoud have learned the comforting old saying, “the unworthiness of the minister hindereth not the effect of the sacrament.”
Columba Gilliss

John-Julian, OJN
Guest
John-Julian, OJN

Like Giles, I, too, have wondered at the relative silence of English bishops (except those who set out to derail the American and Canadian Churches). Where the other voices? I know (from personal communications) that they are a considerable number. Our American inclination is to think of a foregone union between the C of E and the Episcopal Church which needs little attention because it is so “basic”. But we are at a time when we need to KNOW about that. We need to HEAR those voices standing with us against the thuggery of the GS folk. We will certainly… Read more »

mynsterpreost
Guest
mynsterpreost

Hm, can’t remember the feller’s name, but I recall some religious leftie or other saying that you couldn’t serve God and Money. Just goes to prove Him wrong, doesn’t it…..

Someone suggest a suitable Anglican variant on the old saw ‘British Justice – the best that money can buy.’

Prior Aelred
Guest

All excellent points, indeed. I am especially interested by this ‘But we remember that many of the primates of the “Global South” absented themselves from a Eucharist to which they were invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Dromantine Conference in 2005. We draw the conclusion from that that their allegiance to Canterbury is at best skin deep, and subject to his confirmation of their particular position on matters of human sexuality.’ All along I have wanted to know just which primates these were — I suspect that this will be an excellent indicator of where the fault lines… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Praise be to God for the Inclusive Church’s solid anchorage and continuing to be at the forefront of offering hospitality to all who would seek to know God through Jesus.

Giles Goddard
Guest
Giles Goddard

John-Julian – IC works in partnership with WATCH (Women and the Church), AffCath, Society of Catholic Priests, Modern Churchpeople’s Union, Changing Attitude, LGCM, Accepting Evangelicals, the Evangelican Lesbian and Gay Association and Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod; that’s most of the major “open” groups in the C of E. I was in Columbus for GC: we’re very keen to link more strongly with people your side and across the Communion. You’re right, we need to build those networks we’ve been talking about for years –

stephen bates
Guest
stephen bates

Prior Aelred,
The dissenting primates at Dromantine were listed in the paperback edition of my book A Church at War, republished last year.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Text on page 293:
When on the last day, Archbishop Williams requested that all the primates should attend the noonday service which he himself would conduct, his wish was pointedly ignored, and fourteen of his fellow primates failed to turn up. 22

Footnote 22 on page 319:
The following primates are understood to have declined to take Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury: West Indies, Southern Cone, Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria, Central Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania, West Africa, Indian Ocean, South East Asia, Sudan.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Three points: (1) Giles Goddard is right that the C of E should be clear and open about its current practice. It is the dishonesty implicit in the current practice that has been the root of the present state of affairs. We all agree dishonesty is a sin (or wrong) and if such things are left unchecked they can grow to unmanageable proportions. (2) Whenever someone says something is ‘profoundly unanglican’ they have elevated the subset of a denomination above the very set itself, to which it owes its existence. This position has, in a technical sense ‘lost the plot’.… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

stephen bates — thank you — I have only seen the hardcover (actually, we read it in refectory) — excellent work in providing that list! Simon Sarmiento — Thank you very much for the list of fourteen — it is about what I would expect (OK — I didn’t know about the Indian Ocean & am disappointed about Sudan). Anyone else think this might be a good indicator? I wonder if Nigeria leads the way it separating from Canterbury if a few of these might not hold back — West Indies has strong sentimental ties to the old country —… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
Guest
Davis d'Ambly

Let me get this right. These folks refused to take communion with the ABC? I had thought it was with other primates present rather than ++Rowan. If this is so, haven’t they already left the Anglican Coommunion by that act?

This is extremely confusing.

NP
Guest
NP

There is not much point being excited with allies agreeing with you….it is the 99% of the AC that disagrees which you must convince…..and as Richard Harries says, from scripture. Why is the ABC moving away even from his published views as an academic? Because he knows that the majority is not persuaded and his priority now is not stimulating debate but keeping the AC together. The CofE to join ECUSA? You really think the strong, growing “Alpha” and “Reform” and “New Wine” and many other “evangelical” churches are going to do that?? You really think the ABC will ditch… Read more »

David Huff
Guest
David Huff

Interesting that the Abp. of the West Indies was one of the Primates who declined to take Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Isn’t this the same Abp. who was recently appointed to work on the so-called “Anglican Covenant” ? And do you see why the appointment of said Primate is so awfully discouraging to the mainstream-to-progressive majority of the Episcopal Church here in the U.S. ? (I mean *really* – they couldn’t find anyone better than ++Drexel Gomez for this position ?! Sheesh…)

Prior Aelred
Guest

Christopher Shell makes an excellent point when he says, “It is the dishonesty implicit in the current practice that has been the root of the present state of affairs.” When I became an Episcopalian (having been reared Baptist) I was struck by the fact that the choir director & organist at the parish were obviously gay (although I didn’t at that time know that use of the word) & I found the tolerant attitude of The Episcopal Church a surprise (but the question of sexual orientation was never openly discussed). Many of us have known (or been confirmed or ordained… Read more »

bls
Guest

“There is not much point being excited with allies agreeing with you….it is the 99% of the AC that disagrees which you must convince…..and as Richard Harries says, from scripture. Why is the ABC moving away even from his published views as an academic? Because he knows that the majority is not persuaded and his priority now is not stimulating debate but keeping the AC together.” If debate is to be shut down, then where’s the “Anglican” in “Anglican Communion”? I thought the benefit of belonging to this particular church was that debate was to be encouraged and welcomed; if… Read more »

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Writes the good Prior: “Many of us have known (or been confirmed or ordained by) gay bishops & I have been told by someone who should know that there are quite a number of gay bishops in the Church of England. Of course all of the gay bishops are in the closet (except Gene Robinson) but that level of hypocrisy is no longer going to work. And that is what this crisis is all about.” Indeed, that’s what the crisis is all about! So many of the ‘reasserters’ want to turn the clock back to the time before the Civil… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Prior Aelred’s posting of 26 September is the crux of the problem for me. If we are interested in the Truth (after all God refers to the bible as the Book of Truth), then there are implications. For example, if we have been happy to have closet homosexuals as priests and active members of our church communities (some would probably quite rightly argue for centuries), then it is hypocrisy to deny their continuing involvement with the communion. And if their involvement is acceptable, then being honest about what they are is merely removing the illusion that they are “not there”… Read more »

Colin Coward
Guest

First, Alpha churches may be large and powerful but they are not the mainstream CofE. They are a very successful, business oriented ‘franchise’. Some bishops (London comes to mind) for strategic reasons, are very supportive of Alpha. But Alpha doesn’t figure much in General Synod and isn’t mainstream English Anglican. They are not the only churches in the CofE which are growing. Second, the ABC doesn’t have the power to ditch or not ditch these churches. Third, power is the word. The CofE certainly isn’t aware that it has any power to influence the future divisions of the Communion which… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

NP asked: ‘Do you really think the middle-of-the-road English churches will choose Gene Robinson over their English “mainstream” and “Global South” Anglican friends?’ Well, yes, I think they would. ‘Anglican Mainstream’ is anything but, and the ‘Global South’ is increasingly revealing itself as hopelessly compromised in a number of ways. I’m sure that the extreme evangelicals will go with the breakaways, but it’s worth remembering that there are such things even as gay evangelical Christians…. I wonder whether NP is a bit too Bible Belt to know what it’s like out here in the provinces where, as one of our… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

NP spoke of ‘You really think the strong, growing “Alpha”‘ Round here, Alpha is a dead duck. It may work well in metropolitan situations with a large transient population, but repeat performances here have produced few converts (but plenty of Alpha groupies eager to repeat the Alpha ‘buzz’) and the ‘cost effectiveness’ in terms of time and resources plotted against new members of any of the local churches has proved inferior to other, less partisan methods of evangelisation. As for Reform, it’s not even on the radar. Round here, growth does not seem to be related to hardness of doctrine… Read more »

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

David Huff :- Perhaps the idea is that Drexel will behave better as Chair? (Remember Tom Brown’s School Days, and how the good Doctor got Tom to take young Arthur under his wing, as a way to get Tom to behave, after beating had failed to work ? Yes, that public school spirit must needs still inform the life and discipline of the C ofE ! Aelred :- Of course there are CofE gay bishops, Aelred, –same as organists and music directors ! The majority of bishops must support their brothers in coming out. The expression “openly gay bishop” is… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

David, re the appt of D Gomez: it is a well established principle of power politics that one can sometimes most effectively deal with a problematical person by appointing them to a committee charged with addressing the problem to which they contribute. It works in the parish all the time, and even though ++Rowan comes from an academic background, I think such things are well known in the realm of academia. And certainly in the “Yes, Minister” world to which I have alluded earlier! Remember how Sir Humphrey always made a point of getting Hacker deeply involved (and feeling so… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest
J. C. Fisher

“strong” “large” “powerful”? These are exactly the WORLDLY forces, NP, from which faithful CofE *Anglicans* are begging TEC to provide them protection! (Why should we Episcopalians not offer it to them, the way ++Akinola offers “safe harbor” to US conservatives, via +Minns?)

Shouldn’t the “Church Alumni Association” in the UK (all those unchurched Brits—whose numbers dwarf your so-called evangelical growth-spurt—who can’t stand the devolution that conservatives are bringing to Ecclesia Anglicana) get a say?

Why can’t the CofE stay *Anglican*? (High, Low & Broad) Whereas, if ya wanna start-up the UK branch Nigerian-Calvinism, NP, go right ahead!

NP
Guest
NP

There is nothing wrong with “big”, “large”, “powerful” churches, you know – the point of sowing small gospel seeds is that some bear fruit…someone once promised that there would be a lot of fruit from his message…..and there is in Alpha and Reform churches (and others) all over the country. Small, weak and shrinking churches are not marks of righteousness or being in tune with the times…don’t kid yourselves. Strange – in this forum, “Alpha” and “Reform” groupings are not considered very important but the ABC certainly seems to give them a lot of respect – as he clearly does… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Colin Coward- In saying Alpha is not mainstream anglican, you raise a number of issues: (1) The fact that Alpha crosses the denominational divide (even catholics included) indicates that it is to that extent mainstream (ie common-core) Christian even if it is not mainstream anglican, which by definition is more important and relevant. (2) In my experience, all ‘sides’ use the word ‘mainstream’ in their propaganda. Usually, by coincidence (or not), to indicate that ‘their’ lot are the mainstream ones. This is not honest. Of course, if our sample is simply the Christians we talk to every day, this… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

See, NP, in so far as the Evangelical movement is growing through such things as Alpha, this is not seen by all as a “good thing”. Oh, sure, you can argue about the spread of the Gospel, but what Gospel? A Gospel of judgement and condemnation, where Penal Substitutionary Atonement is a “core doctrine” as one Evangelical put it recently. I have great difficulty with the “Gospel” of Evangelicalism, as you can tell, but I am no theologian and they may be right, though they are far more at variance with orthodox Christianity than some “liberals”. Thus, I am content… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“The CofE to join ECUSA? You really think the strong, growing “Alpha” and “Reform” and “New Wine” and many other “evangelical” churches are going to do that?? You really think the ABC will ditch these large, powerful English churches for ECUSA? Remember how keen he is not to be seen as a failure in his role…….as J.John! I doubt the ABC will sacrifice the strong, growing parts of the CofE (let alone the AC) for a small, shrinking group in the US….who have caused him a lot of trouble during his watch!!” NP I suppose that is one way to… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – thanks for your reply – not sure I understand why you think the gospel preached in evangelical churches in at all unorthodox – the articles of the CofE are what you might call “evangelical” and substitution is not a made up innovation if we look at Isaiah 53 / Mark 10:45 / Romans 5:8 amongst many other passages. Kurt – I don’t see how the large evangelical churches can at the same time be terribly off-putting for English people but also full of English people (including 20s and 30s) and growing……some people try to claim that their parishes… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Size doesn’t matter. Diversity does. God will graft what God will graft, if need be taking off the smallest twig from the tallest true, and it will grow as it needs to grow. Those who seek to stop it being planted or deny it of water are no better than the Edomites. We will be judged on how we judge others and how we show hospitality. That does not mean we all have to be under the one set of tent stakes, but there will be at least one tent that broadens it stakes to accommodate GLBTs and those who… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Well, PSA is a Reformation era development of a Medieval idea. It has value, and Atonement is certainly part of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, but the way it is fleshed out in modern PSA is felt by some to be close to blasphemy. What are we saved from? The wrath of God,so God is the enemy, and the crucifixion becomes some sort of bizarre suicide/infanticide. For the Orthodox, who end many prayers with “for Thou art good, and Thou lovest mankind” it is not how they have always known Him to be, and Orthodox theologians I have… Read more »

RMF
Guest
RMF

It’s unfortunate that the term “evangelical” has become synonymous with politically oriented right wing indignation because we are all called to be rivers of life for others. The allying of many churches with right wing politicos and consumerist theologies and metrics is disgraceful.

Interestingly a consensus seems to be “emerging” that the time for moving quite beyond the standard evangelical formula of “Join us! We’re growing and have powerpoint sermons!” has come.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

RMF,
Indeed! It is the allying of Evangelical Christianity with the political right wing that bothers me most. That and the embracing of the the language, world view, and methods of the post-modern, mass market consumerist culture.

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

the way it is fleshed out in modern PSA For a possible illustration of the theology which underpins PSA in its present form I commend Bede, H.E. II; 9 (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/bede-book2.html) and the story of Lilla (Lilla’s Cross on the North York Moors near Fylingdales EWS is a well known landmark to any Lyke Wake Dirger!) PSA is illuminated by the Lilla story in such a way as to expose its theological and moral bankruptcy. For Lilla read Christ and for Edwin read humanity — so which character represents God…? All I can say is that the Anglo Saxons managed perfectly… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

NP:”I don’t see how the large evangelical churches can at the same time be terribly off-putting for English people but also full of English people (including 20s and 30s) and growing” Simple: for everyone who is enthused by the worship style (and who manages to keep in line with the tight morality wherein it’s OK to be rich ‘cos God’s blessed you and that eye of the needle stuff/rich young man/Dives and Lazarus isn’t REALLY about us, anyhow that’s justification by works etc etc) there’s a load who are genuinely scandalised by (eg) the idea that to love Jesus you… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

David

Your posting reminds me that a friend told me that a recent survey indicated that people were more scared of born again Christians than they are of death. Similarly, I think there are a lot of “covert” Christians who are too ashamed to be associated with any particular church because they don’t want to be seen as supporting sociopathic cudgels (see Balfor University survey results).

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Well, its very easy to give the appeaRANCE of growth if you essentially gather up people who would otherwise go to alternative churches – what we have in England are a number of ‘star’ churches but many more which are largely empty. In this diocese, most of those are also evangelical.

Meanwhile, church attendance declines, and if you removed immigrants, the decline would be even steeper. If anyone seriously thinks that there is any enthusiasm for conservative evangelicalism amongst the vast majority of the public here, then they clearly don’t live here or believe what their fundy friends tell them!

Giles Goddard
Guest

Here in the notoriously liberal diocese of Southwark we have some large and growing conservative churches, some large and growing liberal churches and some large and growing catholic churches. And small and shrinking, ditto. And I thank God for all of them, with all their faults. At least we’re still talking (some of the time and apart from the ministers of Dundonald!). The Gospel’s too vast for each of us to have a monopoly on interpretation. There’s truth, it seems to me, in Alpha. And in top-down authority. The disciples argued about all sorts of things (like, who is the… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

RMF writes, “Interestingly a consensus seems to be “emerging” that the time for moving quite beyond the standard evangelical formula of “Join us! We’re growing and have powerpoint sermons!” has come.” Well – that consensus is on this site and in your circles…..but is it right in the AC as a whole?? Amazing to see the head-in-the-sand, denial of history and reality re the wonderful growth in charismatic and conservative evangelical churches in the last 50 years in England and the rest of the world, despite the decline of “liberal” churches continuing relentlessly …..the ABC is clearly aware of where… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

Cheryl’s observation ‘a friend told me that a recent survey indicated that people were more scared of born again Christians than they are of death. Similarly, I think there are a lot of “covert” Christians who are too ashamed to be associated with any particular church because they don’t want to be seen as supporting sociopathic cudgels’ contains one flaw when seen from the extreme evangelical point of view – that ‘the path is broad that leads to destruction’ etc etc. In other words, evidence that aggressive Christianity is putting people off the faith is seen as proof of the… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Giles, in top-down authority the apostle Paul was shunt aside for seven years. Then there was the stoning of the early Christians. Then there was the pursuit of the Israelites by the Pharoah’s army. Let alone the plethora of examples from other religions’ histories. I loved an expression the other day that holy texts should have warnings (like cigarette packets) “Warning, these texts may contain passages that can be used to justify violence. Read with care.” One of the things about the bible, is that God often chooses to plant new churches, and not necessarily according to what we think… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Dave Rowett says, “It is therefore inevitable that churchgoing will decline as long as aggressive Christianity makes the running. The few will join aggressive, exclusive, monolithic congregations. The majority will shun formal expressions of religious affiliation. Consequence — inclusive, traditional churches have to struggle to hold on to those turned off by the new nasties, and are ridiculed by said nasties for the difficulty of the task.” So, why are the “evangelical churches full and planting new churches all the time? More importantly to your point, why are the liberal churches not bursting with people warmed by the “inclusive message”… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Giles- Two points: (1) ‘Diversity is good’ – I know what you mean: healthy Christianity is diversity in unity. But not all diversity is good. Dysfunctional families are not on a par with healthy ones. Criminal and non-criminal individuals: now there’s diversity for you. And so on. In other words: there is nothing essentially good about diversity per se. (2) In deciding what is biblical and what is merely ‘biblical’ we should listen to the biblical scholars. My challenge remains open: if you can find any major commentary on (or exegetical treatment of) Romans or 1 Corinthians, written by an… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Well, NP, you should come have a drink with me and my friends some time. Granted, most are cradle RCs who have, usually quite angrily, abandoned the Church, but the patriarchal, repressive Irish style Catholicism of their youth is not that different from the repressive Evangelicalism they see around them. For them, the Church is the enemy. It is the enemy of freedom, of thought, of justice, of peace. It is, for them, the cause of most of the world’s grief. They see Evos on TV, and their suspicions are confirmed. What they have experienced Christianity to be has made… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

Christopher Shell’s challenge is not quite what it seems, I think. This is a recent area of study, and major commentaries are works of long gestation. Thus a majority of commentaries will not discuss the point because within the context of (say) the 1971 Pelican noddy commentary, the issue isn’t on the radar. However, the issue does crop up regularly in even pre-schoolers’ periodicals like the Expository Times, does it not? There is certainly discussion in the commentaries about the hapax legomenon arsenokoitai, and suggestions in (eg) Barton that part of the condemnation of the sexual immorality of incest lies… Read more »

Christopher Calderhead
Guest
Christopher Calderhead

Why does this numbers game come up again and again? Important as it may be on an institutional level–bums in seats means filling the collection plate and having successful and growing programs–it’s not in any way relevant to who’s being faithful or true. Violent Islamists are increasingly popular in the Muslim world. Does that make them right? Hardly. Buddhism is increasingly popular amongst a wide segment of the population in the USA. Does that mean I should ditch Christianity? Not at all. (I’ve chosen to list one example I don’t approve of–radical Islam–and one I respect–Buddhism–to show that numbers have… Read more »

David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)
Guest
David Rowett (= mynsterpreost)

NP said
“Sorry, I really do not buy the argument that liberal churches are empty because people are put off by the full evangelical churches.”

Isn’t it odd that it’s only with the rise of the VArdyite academies (UK schooling, fundamentalist foundations with state support, would play a wow in the Bible Belt) that the attacks on the ‘normal’faith schools have started to get anywhere.

We’re being tarred with the extreme evangelical brush in education, I offer it as supporting evidence for a wider mistrust of Church because of the high visibility of extreme and innovative evangelicalism.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Christopher,
Also, why is it that the very conservatives who accuse the left of trying to curry favour with “the world” turn around and smugly point to the growth of “their” churches and the decline of more “liberal” ones? Who exactly values the approval of the world?

Christopher Calderhead
Guest
Christopher Calderhead

Ford,
Couldn’t agree with you more. Ever been to a mega-church with a parking lot, food court, and sermon tapes for sale at the information kisok? Or listened to a ‘Christian’ song played on a piano while the liturgy stops dead in its tracks? Complete surrender to consumer culture.