Thinking Anglicans

further media coverage of CofE response to government

Nick Cohen wrote in Sunday’s Observer abour A church fit only for bigots and hypocrites.

Douglas Carswell wrote in the Evening Standard last week that The time is now right to split Church and State.

Cole Moreton wrote in the Sunday Telegraph Will gay marriage end in divorce for church and state?


  • Father David says:

    But – Mr. Carswell – if the Church of England – by Law Established is Disestablished – then what is left that will keep the disparate parts of the Ecclesia Anglicana together? Coming from Essex, I’m sure you know the nursery rhyme about Colchester’s dear Humpty Dumpty. After the Fall – “All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Humpty together again”!

  • The greatest problem for a ‘Primus inter pares’ in the Anglican Communion is surely that of trying to be ‘all things to all people’ in that Communion.

    Nick Cohen’s article demonstrates Archbishop Rowan’s problems in that area. His seeming inability to be seen to criticise the Sudanese Government on their genocidal activity, while on a visit as their guest, bespeaks a tendency towards ‘cultural cringe’ that has be-deviled the efforts of non-African Provinces to bring enlightenment to the situation of Gays and Women in the Church.

    Despite the promise of release from the effects of Lambeth 1:10 – with its discrimination against Gays in the Church – that arrived with Rowan’s election to the historic See of Canterbury, there has been little or no progress on this important issue since his retraction of Jeffrey John’s call to become the Bishop of Reading

    Mind you the poisoned chalice offered to Rowan was already loaded with his predecessor’s antipathy to Gays, so that Rowan’s trajectory was already short of his potential as a prophet within the Communion

  • A perfect example of the mindless opposition to the Bible is that some of those commenting on Nick Cohen’s piece claimed that 1 Thess. 2: 14 – 15 is anti-semitic.

    The offending quote is ‘the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and who have persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God. They are enemies of the whole human race’.

    So the qualification that limits St. Paul’s reference to those Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion and first-century persecution can be re-read as a blanket condemnation of every Jew (apparently, including Paul).

    I suppose that decrying those English who enslaved Africa might be interpreted as a blanket accusation of every generation of English people. Do I have to qualify it carefully with the era in which that slavery occurred?

  • Richard Ashby says:

    The CofE, particularly the Bishops have fallen right into the trap they fought so hard to avoid yet dug themselves. In their effort to avoid anything that looked like ‘marriage’ they ensured that Civil Partnership were eviscerated of anything that spoke about love, relationships, commitment and fidelity and reduced CP to a mere signing of a register. And then they have been surprised that the vast majority of couples added all those things which turn a contract into a ceremony of witness and community. They wanted to make CPs of no more significance that signing for a bank loan. They wanted to reduce the whole thing to a sordid commercial and financial transaction. In fact, they wanted no more than a legal contract. They had no idea that people would want a public affirmation of their love and commitment. Had they not fought so hard, had they allowed a ceremony and in particular had they permitted those who wanted it the possibility of a ceremony in Church with a blessing, none of this would have happened. There would never have been an intolerable pressure to make provision for marriage. The recent document shows that their worst nightmares are coming true and they can’t control the outcome of their mean, niggardly, reductionist intentions. Should this lead to a Equalities legal case, or even dis-establishment, it is entirely of their own making. Chickens coming home to roost. Will they learn anything? Of course not.

  • rjb says:

    Nick Cohen’s column is a characteristic blend of ad hominem attacks, histrionics, and self-righteous chest-thumping. Nevertheless, I was very struck by this line:

    “Until then we had rarely thought about the Anglican communion,” [Giles] Fraser said. “There was just a collection box at the back of the church for Christians abroad.”

    Is it really the case that English liberals have never bothered to give much thought to their Anglican brethren abroad? If so, it’s tempting to think that they got what was coming to them when the homophobic African priests set up shop next door. There is something very unattractive about the image of liberal churchmen and churchwomen wanting to live in a snug social and theological cocoon, sheltered from the reality that they are part not only of the church universal but also of a far-flung Anglican family.

  • Simon says:

    Richard Ashby has hit the nail on the head. For the bishops now to turn round and say they supported civil partnerships all along is simply mendacious and has been one of the reasons people have reacted with such anger to their statement last week. I think Richard is right – they will learn nothing from all this and will continue to behave like bunnies in the headlights.

  • Andrew says:

    And the strangest thing is their staunch advocacy of what is an exclusively secular institution – civil partnerships – as if legal rights were sufficient in themselves for a life of domestic bliss, begging the queston: if it’s okay for gays, why not for straights too? Why indeed bother with marriage at all?

    This approach has backfired badly and simply galvanized supporters of gay marriage, flushing out a lot of the arguments in advance of key debates in Parliament. The PM should call the bishops’ bluff.

  • Edward Prebble says:

    In answer to David Shepherd –

    It all depends on whether St Paul included (or implied) a comma after the word Jews in his original scroll. If so, he was indeed suggesting that all the Jews were implicated in killing Jesus and the prophets. If not, then he is only referring to particular Jews.

    I don’t know the answer to that, David. Do you?

  • Edward:

    I see your point, but how about just giving the benefit of the doubt to St. Paul? A man whose life was transformed by encountering Christ and who, in furtherance of the gospel, travelled over 1400 miles (largely on foot) in one missionary journey, was repeatedly jailed, beaten up and exposed to the elements?

    Furthermore, a man who also said: ‘Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.’ (Romans 10:1)
    ‘I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved’ (Romans 11:25,26)

    I hope honesty about the reality of Israel failing to embrace their promised Messiah, who conquered hearts by healing love and not worldly coercion, doesn’t count as anti-semitism. Whether by a lack of wholehearted acceptance, giving, or forgiveness, we have all failed to embrace His healing love in our consciences, at one time or another.

  • For the Bishops of the Church of England to now pretend that they have always supported the idea of Civil Partnerships for Same-Sex monogamous couples (albeit, without any religious content) is not only risible, it is untrue!

    “What you sow, thus shall you reap!” Hence, the call for Gay Marriage.

  • Priscilla White says:

    Edward Prebble, my understanding is that Greek scrolls had nothing in the way of punctuation. Koine Greek doesn’t do it. Any punctuation we add is interpretative.

  • Edward Prebble says:

    “my understanding is that Greek scrolls had nothing in the way of punctuation. Koine Greek doesn’t do it. Any punctuation we add is interpretative”.

    Yes, Priscilla, that was my point, and sorry if i was too cryptic.

    To David Shepherd; I have not taken the time to read Nick Cohen’s piece, so I can’t really comment on whether the “antisemitism” charge is fair or not. I was really only commenting on whether St Paul meant “all the Jews” or “some specific ones”. Even without punctuation, it seems much more likely that he intended a blanket application.

    It’s a bit like saying, “The Anglican Church has a lot to answer for” (which, I am sure you will agree, it certainly does). In one sense, as an Anglican priest myself, I then have to include myself in the criticism. But am I specifically criticising Desmond Tutu, George Herbert, and the youngest choirboy at St Swithin’s? Probably not.

  • david wilson says:


    It has been the orthodox position in the church that it is each and every believer who put Jesus on the cross – not just 1st century jews. Romans also talks about when the time of the gentiles is fulfilled, the jews will the recognize their Messiah in large numbers – so God has certainly not finished with the jewish people – in fact the very opposite. I know a few personally who have already turned to Jesus – the exact image of the Father.

  • Edward Prebble says:

    “It has been the orthodox position in the church that it is each and every believer who put Jesus on the cross” Yes, of course, David, and that is my position too.

    I seem to be digging myself into a hole here, and I would like to climb out. I certainly do not blame the 1st century Jews for the death of Jesus, though it can be argued that St Paul, and even more St John did so. My only point in posting here was to question David Shepherd’s suggestion that in 1 Thes, Paul was referring to some specific Jewish people. I don’t think that is so.

  • Jonathan Jennings says:

    ‘ …His seeming inability to be seen to criticise the Sudanese Government on their genocidal activity, while on a visit as their guest, bespeaks a tendency towards ‘cultural cringe’..’

    Well it would, but for three minor points: he wasn’t a guest of the Sudanese government but of the Church of Sudan – at that time one of the last credible organisations to span the conflict; he DID raise the question of the massacres, and face-to-face, with the regime in Khartoum; he also condemned them in a tense press conference in Khartoum, and the issue was much discussed when he met the South Sudanese leadership when he spent the second half of the visit in Juba.

    I seem to recall these points being made in print after the contention was first published some years ago both in the Observer and in the Evening Standard.

  • You will notice, Jonathan, that I mentioned ++Rowan’s ‘seeming’ inability to confront the Sudanese government. However, because of your having given an alternative scenario of the Visit, I defer to your better understanding, and apologise for my ‘seeming’ criticism of Archbishop Rowan. Mea culpa!

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