Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 14 January 2017

Reactions to Martyn Percy’s 95 New Theses for the 21st century, which we listed last week

Ryan Cook A Reflection: Martyn Percy’s 95 Theses, Bishops & the Transcendent
Ian Paul Psephizo Can bishops save the Church?
Sam Norton Elizaphanian What’s really wrong with the House of Bishops

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Management, Leadership, success-failure, heresy & idolatry

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News Hopes and Dreams

Nick Young Londonist How London’s Churches Got Their Unusual Names

Anne Jolis The Spectator How the Church of England changed my life: Death, grief and love in a strange city

Miranda France Granta Words and the Word

Nick Tolson Church Times Beware of the siege mentality

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Rosemary HannahKateSusannah ClarkDavid RuncornMichael Skliros Recent comment authors
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Froghole
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Froghole

I expressed some misgivings about Dr Percy’s theses last week. However, I am slightly depressed by some of the responses to his arguments, which might be summarised as: (i) Dr Percy having sour grapes at not receiving a bishopric; (ii) his exhibiting an ivory tower indignation at the state of the contemporary Church; and (iii) his assertions being factually incorrect. I very much doubt that (i) is in play – Dr Percy is, after all, by far the best paid priest in the Church; his home is that lived in by Charles I when Oxford was the royalist capital (it… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“So I, like thousands of others, wait patiently – in hope that our nightmare will soon end. No need to tell them the world is watching, that God is watching. They know.” – Jayne Ozanne How do we reconcile that God is telling some of us that the suffering of LGBT people outweighs other concerns, but the bishops aren’t giving the impression that they are hearing the same from God? Is God saying different things to me, to many TA readers, than he is to the bishops? Or are we, or the bishops, substituting our own views for those of… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Froghole I think that many of Martyn Percy’s opponents are missing the point. If the House of Bishops collectively lacks theological depth, why is the Bishops Reflection Group more qualified than the House of Laity to “discern” the correct approach to the issue of same sex marriage? Essentially the argument – though Percy was too sage to make it explicitly – is that the issue will be decided by managers, scared of change, and not by pastoral theologians trained to weigh difficult Biblical issues. In arguing that bishops do not need to be theological scholars, by arguing that the Church… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

I entirely agree with Froghole. The criticism of Martyn Percy has been appalling and largely ad hominem. From my recent limited encounter with Bishops,I think that he is right about the current bench of bishops compared with those I recall from some time ago. Mediocrity rules. other than perhaps Bishop Nicholas Baines with his excellent blog. there is no current diocesan who, as Froghole suggests, ‘can fulfil the role of a public advocate and defender of the Church’. As so often, Andrew Lightbown is spot on.

Pam
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Pam

Being an absorbed reader of the KJV Bible, I found Miranda France’s Words and the Word to be a wonderful read. I have something in common with the great poet Eliot. I also prefer the word “shew”, so nice.

Jayne
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Jayne

Are we now reaching the point I wonder, given Martyn’s comments and insights, when we should table a ‘No Confidence’ vote in the House of Bishops?

Michael Skliros
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Michael Skliros

I don’t dispute anything Dr Percy wrote, but respectfully suggest that it may have made the common assumption of “all other things being equal” – which they are not. Within living memory, the Church has changed. Formerly, the parish system *was* the C of E. Bishops were figureheads, worthy men but remote. Cathedrals were special places necessary for ordinations and choir festivals, and the music was often excellent, but a visit there was a pilgrimage; also there was frequently a standoff between cathedral and bishop. Today, cathedrals are growing in popularity, not least because the music remains excellent, but the… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Pam, I agree. Miranda France’s piece is indeed a wonderful read.

James Byron
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James Byron

Heartening to see ‘Honest to God’ get a positive nod, Michael! I couldn’t agree more about Anglicanism being in desperate need of theology that embraces, rather than fights, nature. The currently dominant signs and wonders model, charismatic evangelicalism, may pack ’em in, but truth isn’t decided by popularity.

As for your intriguing nautical model for the church, hey, why not give it a whirl? Would make a pleasant change from all the managerialism.

Michael Skliros
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Michael Skliros

Thanks for kind words, James. No surprise I support JATR’s book, as (spoiler alert) he was my tutor when he was at Clare, though I hardly understood a word of what he said at the time, as my main efforts were devoted to (i) hitting fives balls against a wall, (ii) learning to fly with the university air squadron and (iii) discovering the opposite sex. Reading ‘Nat Sci’ before theology was useful, though: those who crave certainty in religion badly need to learn Karl Popper’s dictum: “nothing is worth studying unless it can be *dis*proved.” A naturalist theology does keep… Read more »

David Runcorn
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‘As for charismatic evangelicalism, it certainly “packs ’em in”, but only with those who have unenquiring minds. A good discussion point for Thinking Anglicans?’ A rather familiar dismissal but a caricature of a very significant part of contemporary CofE life. So yes, there is a need for enquiry on TA on this evidence. We might note how regularly HTB has hosted large theological events over the years with speakers like Lesslie Newbigin (who was a great friend of HTB), Miroslav Volf, Jurgen Moltmann, Rowan Williams and others. If that is not enquiring I would struggle to be there when it… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

‘As for charismatic evangelicalism, it certainly “packs ’em in”, but only with those who have unenquiring minds.’

Which is why the charismatic evangelical movement attracts so many university students?

A statement which is wrong on so many levels.

Peter K+
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Peter K+

Michael, as a fellow Cambridge ‘Natsci’ and also a theology graduate your comments made me smile, because I firmly identify with the charismatic evangelical stream. No doubt my mind is less enquiring than yours, but it seems to me that, judging by the amount of tarot readers, spiritualists, psychic & mind body spirit fairs etc etc, many people in the West are *extremely* open to the supernatural. To me there’s no disconnection between a theology that’s open to both the natural and supernatural, since a creator God is by definition super-natural. Indeed, for that reason it seems to me that… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Please can everyone just pause the debate about charismatic evangelicalism for a few minutes while I go out and buy some popcorn? Seriously – you don’t like liberals playing down the supernatural? Welcome to diversity. You don’t like Pentecostalism invading the C of E with prophecies and tongues? Welcome to diversity. You don’t like the reduction of church life to a kind of social services unit? Welcome to diversity. You don’t like the catholic mumbo-jumbo with its drama, magic rites and bells? Welcome to diversity. You don’t like the Reform priest who has set ‘The Word’ as an infallible document… Read more »

Michael Skliros
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Michael Skliros

My, oh my, how a few eirenic comments seem to have flushed out some hawks. David Runcorn, I do not doubt the vigour of the spirit of enquiry at HTB, but if I were to report on, say, the standard of preaching in the C of E, I would not quote only sermons I had heard at Westminster Abbey. Kate, I won’t challenge you to produce the actual numbers of university students following the char/evang movement – that would be juvenile – but are you seriously saying that university students today are noted for their critical thinking? Surely the bleats… Read more »

David Runcorn
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‘charismatic evangelicalism’ is ‘ only those who have unenquiring minds’ = an eirenic comment? Sorry if I missed that. HTB was an example of course of theological depth present within the wing of the church. It is not an exception and its influence is significantly wider than, say the preaching team at Westminster Abbey. And if I’m a hawk for suggesting the understanding of charismatic evangelical needs to be more informed on TA – guilty. Oh and I’m not the only one from this broad enquiring eclectic corner of the church who reads TA. You didn’t flush me out I… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Michael, we can indeed ‘think’, but if thinking simply divides people into camps, then I’d sooner resort to the even more difficult challenge of needing to love. See, I simply can’t place myself in any of these camps. I don’t belong in anywhere fixed. I’m catholic, and that’s an important part of how I hold my faith. I embrace and affirm ‘charismatic’ expressions. I believe it’s really important to recognise that science is fantastically precious for truth-seekers. I’m liberal in my approach to the bible, and in my views on issues like sexuality. I’m contemplative, and that is the heart… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“The naturalist argument is that nothing is outside, in the sense of being separate and distinct. God is infinite, impassible etc etc, and greater than the created world, but co-terminous with it. Think Venn diagrams and overlap.”

Disallowing concavity and discontinuity – nature is observably both convex and continuous + if God is simultaneously both bigger than nature and coterminous with it, He must occupy a higher dimension than nature. We call that dimension the miraculous, the spiritual, the mystical..

That’s the conclusion from your own premises.

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

I remember my own Oxford interview. I walked in the room, and every fresh thought was sponged from my mind. I could not think of ideas which had buzzed in noisy profusion two days before, and which rose up to accuse me as I walked out and shut the door behind me. Just saying.