Thinking Anglicans

Oxford Faith Debate on Diversity

Debate 3 was reported here.

A press release was issued just prior to Debate 4. This was heavily criticised by Ian Paul in The state of the (Westminster) debate.

The debate took place on 20 November and the full audio recordings are now available here.

Several who were there have blogged about it:

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Father Ron SmithFather DavidSimon DawsonErika BakerAnthony Archer Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

All sounds very “nice”, very Anglican and polite. Very much a Vicarage Tea Party but Christianity ain’t about niceness or being nice to one another. On many occasions recorded in the Gospels Jesus was far from nice or even polite. It would have been a much better and more entertaining debate had there been more blood on the carpet.

Stephen Morgan
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Stephen Morgan

Cripes! I am entirely in agreement with Father David. When I tell my friends and family that the C of E have only just embarked upon having ‘facilitated conversations’ about whether it is all right to be gay or not, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury wants us to have ‘good disagreements’ about such matters, they laugh (nicely – because they like me) in my face!

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

A few observations on the Oxford Faith debate last week which I attended. The panel members handled themselves well. It was ‘nice’. But that surely is what ‘disagreeing well’ is all about. The pre-debate press announcement was disingenuous and I would want to challenge Linda Woodhead on that. Academic freedom is one thing, but using the media to try to engender support for a position that some would regard as partisan was unfortunate. Presumably the intention was to sell the debate. In the event the University Church was hardly packed, which was a shame. Andrew Symes was in the hot… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Anthony, you say “if the debate is considered to raise salvation issues who are we to determine those?” It seems to me a conservative view that this debate raises salvation issues, not a general agreement. But even if it does, surely those issues aren’t determined by simply deciding to leave everything as it is? If this is a salvation issue, is it not just as possible that salvation depends on inclusion? What I’m saying is that we have no choice but to determine what we believe. Once a question has been posed it has to be answered either way. There… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Surely niceness doesn’t really equate with disagreeing well!

JCF
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JCF

“I’m here to represent a tradition which says that Scripture, as generally interpreted down the ages, rather than the opinion of the majority or the most powerful, is the guide for where we set boundaries on doctrine and ethics” Translating Mr Symes: “MY opinion, not theirs!” Don’t get me wrong: we ALL do this. We probably also *essentially* think, like Mr Symes, “mine was one of only two or three genuinely orthodox voices in an overwhelmingly revisionist line up”. But when you actually read it, signed, on his own site, w/ NO self-awareness of how self-sanctifying it is . .… Read more »

AndrewT
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AndrewT

Andrew Symes sneering at others’ hurt and anger is quite pathetic.

Andrew Brown
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Andrew Brown

Because I can’t see a way to comment on Andrew Symes’ own blog, a small clarification here. I think that I was the person who told him after the debate that all that held the C of E together was its pension fund, not any confessional stance. (Someone else may have said the same thing, but I certainly did). The context, though, makes a difference, I think. I said that I had realised this when I was writing about the woman priest schism, and that the ordination of women seemed to me a far greater break with tradition than the… Read more »

Tobias Haller
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Surely it is “the majority” and “the most powerful” who actually set “the tradition… as generally interpreted down the ages.” And that majority sometimes changes its mind over time, or forms different majorities in different places. The fiction that there is a central corpus of faith that has always been accepted by all is just that. Doctrine changes. Whether it is a development (per Newman) or a devolution is a matter of opinion. Even the Creeds are subject to interpretation and varying opinions. Like it or not, the “interpretation of Scripture” has gone through extensive variation. Preferring a previous interpretation… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Erika:
I hesitate to get into salvation issues, not being a theologian, hence my ‘if’! However, I agree with you that we can’t leave things as they are and therefore there must be change.

Father David:
I think ‘nice’ was the word Simon Sarmiento used in his provocateur piece. Of course niceness does not necessarily equate with disagreeing well, but the debate was marked by a good separation between issues and personalities.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Niceness does not equate with disagreeing well but I would say that it is a prerequisite. Rudeness solves nothing and does not contribute towards trust.
Niceness should not be confused with blandness and lacklustre debate. It’s possible to have robust discussions while remaining nice and polite.

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

When I attended the first of these debates, at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford, I got some helpful perspective from the rector’s welcoming address. He pointed out that Archbishop Cranmer had been tried for heresy in that very church (and had been sat about 2 yards from my position in the pews), and he had then been burnt at the stake a few hundred yards away. Many years later Newman triggered the Oxford movement with a sermon from the pulpit in that church. And that movement was to lead to clergy being imprisoned for their unauthorised… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Dear Simon, I think that it was J H Newman who pointed to John Keble’s Assize sermon on National Apostasy as the spark which ignited the Oxford Movement; that being said, I fully agree with the thrust of your argument.
On a more down to earth level, those who watch the programme about that deeply religious woman – Agnes Brown, as in “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” know that when she employs her catchphrase “That’s nice!” she means exactly the opposite when she says it.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I wonder if Mr. Symes – if he had been part of the Establishment at the time of Jesus – would have considered J. to be a ‘revisionist’ – which he certainly turned out to be? Sometimes, revision of an unjust status quo could be considered to be Gospel!