Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 February 2017

Kelvin Holdsworth What is really going on in the Church of England

Giles Fraser The Guardian The clergy has moved on. It’s the bishops who are out of touch

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Double amber – proceed with extreme caution – unconditional love ahead

Erasmus The Economist As church and society diverge, so do Christianity’s liberals and hardliners

Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon The Living Church England and the Anglican Communion: Outward Moving Mission
[This is the full text of the Archbishop’s address to the General Synod on 16 February.]

Richard Peers Quodcumque Just do it! Grace before meals

Scott Gunn Seven whole days Thirteen Commandments for your website (church websites, part 1)

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Froghole
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Froghole

I have just finished reading v. 1 of The Oxford History of Anglicanism, which came out earlier this month: https://global.oup.com/academic/content/series/o/oxford-history-of-anglicanism-ohang/?cc=gb&lang=en&, which I purchased at the OUP bookshop last week (v. 3 is out already and v. 4 is imminent). It contains a handy essay by Andrew Foster (ch. 5, pp. 84-102) on the evolving status of bishops from the Reformation to the Restoration. Much of his summary is familiar from previous reading, but it describes the development of the office in an extensive timespan. It is also worth reading with John McCafferty’s essay on Ireland and Scotland (ch. 13, pp.… Read more »

Froghole
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Froghole

Contd. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the political and economic pressures placed on the Church created a movement for improved efficiency; a tangle of disparate corporations and interests had to be woven into something more coherent. Bishops, the Commissioners and (from 1919) the Church Assembly, were the necessary instruments of this policy. The long shadow of the Oxford Movement (and its antagonists), societal pressures and, from the 1950s, ‘culture wars’ placed the XXXIX Articles, Canons and received doctrines under increasing strain; as doctrinal uniformity gradually disintegrated only the central structures (bishops, Commissioners, Synod) remained, which has only served… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Froghole, there *has* to be a compromise and settlement between the factions, because people are embedded in their doctrinal positions, and not willing to move from them, so the crisis can’t be resolved by one side ‘winning’. Bearing in mind that church members are generally less ideological than the loud voices at the poles of the debate, and bearing in mind that parish life binds people to locality and their local churches, I simply don’t believe that the majority of people will walk out on long-term community and friendship, if a compromise is imposed on the vociferous wings of the… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

Richard Peers’ words about grace before meals doesn’t take into account those households where thankfulness for enough crockery may hold sway. I grew up in such a household where one person at table was prone to pulling the tablecloth away abruptly and dislodging everything onto the floor.
I am most thankful these days for peace at the table.

James Byron
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James Byron

Bravura analysis, Froghole! To me, this boils down to the distinction that former SEC Primus Richard Holloway (incidentally, forced out of post by “open evangelicals” who weren’t that open to liberal theology) drew between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” authority: intrinsic authority, like charisma, comes from within a person; extrinsic is imposed by an external source, such as office. English diocesans clearly rest on extrinsic authority: as a motley collection of episcopal bureaucrats appointed by their own tribe for their ability to play the game, what else could they do? Intrinsic authority inspires instead of compels. Extrinsic authority’s a burden, and people… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Part of the problem surely is the disconnect between Synod and the parishes ( and probably the Archbishops Council too).The majority of the C of E are what Alec Vidler called “un hyphenated anglicans”yet synod is pretty tribal.It is elected by the keenies..clergy and deanery reps…yet only about half of the electorate bother to vote.It has become Leviathan.

Susannah Clark
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James, and further to my note to you, Froghole – I have set out my case for Unity in Diversity here:

http://www.whisperedlove.com/atimeforgrace.htm

Froghole
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Froghole

Yes – I have probably been too forceful. I think that a good majority will stay put, and the power of inertia at the parish level should probably not be underestimated. Susannah is, as usual, quite right: it would be highly invidious to think of this as a fight in which one party has to win and another must therefore lose: we will all be losers were a schism to occur. The question for me is whether prolonged low level warfare between parties within the Church might cause greater damage over time than a more abrupt denouement. I also agree… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Susannah Thank you for linking to your piece. At present my own suggestion is for Synod to pass a Canon like this: “Any minister of the Church of England may perform any form of rite or sacrament authorised to be performed in the English language by any province within the Anglican Communion with the written permission of a bishop of that province and shall for the purposes of such rites and sacraments fall entirely under the authority of the authorising bishop.” It broadens episcopal authority. It doesn’t refer directly to same sex marriages – I suspect Anglo Catholics would find… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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My take on this, like that of Fr.Giles Fraser; is that the House of Bishops is dead scared of what the GAFCON Provinces will do if the Church of England celebrates the fact that LGBTI people are really a valued minority in the Church, deserving due respect and treatment by the Church.

The question is: Is this Unity based on a false premise – that of uniformity rather than justice?

cseitz
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cseitz

A valued minority? That sounds perjorative.

The challenge of the Bishops isn’t Gafcon but the GS, if one is thinking along these lines.

But more pressing is likely the question of conservative parishes in the CofE.

The liberals did not vote in favour of the report but neither did many conservatives.

Since many conservatives are not in favor of Gafcon UK the question they are likely weighing is what are their alternatives to that?

Focusing on Gafcon as a troublemaker simplifies things but also glosses over the true nature of the challenge. +Welby’s final remarks likely worried conservatives more than liberals.

James Byron
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James Byron

Extraordinary piece of writing, Susannah: brave, reasonable and generous in equal measure. Your point about your Gender Recognition Certificate closing off marriage in a second encapsulates the absurdity of gender rigidity. If at all possible, I hope unity in diversity can be followed in all provinces, alongside changing marriage canons to be gender-neutral. Rectors with the backing of their congregations should have the right to conscientiously object, and refuse to marry same-sex couples, as they can currently refuse to remarry divorcees. Tolerating this is itself hard and painful, but tolerance worth the name always is, and it would retain the… Read more »

Victoriana
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Victoriana

Kate — I don’t think a motion like that would get up in the English General Synod. For one thing, the bishops have a pretty maximising view of episcopacy right now and the need for written authorisation might well reinforce an attitude that is being exposed as a basic problem. I also think the evangelical wing would baulk so badly the whole thing wouldn’t proceed to a vote. There may well be other issues at canon law where this sort of motion would create more conflict than it solves. The essential problem is that the Church of England has a… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
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Kate, whatever its merits this sort of proposal would not be legal, and passing a canon in those words would not be legal and would not legalize anything. Under the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974 any forms of service which are alternative to a service in the 1662 BCP need to be authorized by a 2/3 majority in each of the three Houses of the General Synod. The most flexible authorized service is A Service of the Word, which in the words of Bishop Colin Buchanan must have a beginning, a middle and an end — and they must be… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Simon But could it not be achieved with a 2/3 majority in Synod – leaving aside for one moment the difficulty of that? At the worst, Synod could pass a motion asking Parliament to pass a Statute in the desired form. Whether it is a canon or measure – or both – Eefectively it just expands the list of authorised forms of service. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is an elephant I agree, but suppose the text of the measure/canon included the following sort of provision: “When performing any service, rite or sacrament authorised under this canon/measure, a… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
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Kate: the General Synod standing orders lay out how the authorization of liturgical material happens. Such material must be introduced by the House of Bishops, there is a revision process, at which stage anyone (yes, anyone) may submit proposed amendments and any synod member may require a personal hearing for their amendment; then it goes back to the HoB, who may further amend it if they see fit, and then it comes back to the Synod for 2/3 majorities in each of the three Houses. So, even if this were a good idea (and it’s been floated and rejected before… Read more »

Pam
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Pam

Kate (20 Feb. 7.19am) suggests that ‘It would also offer a blueprint to provinces like Australia which are equally divided and which could consider adopting a similar measure.’ It is the Parliament of Australia which is having difficulty arriving at allowing parliamentarians to be given a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Australia. It will take a change of government, I believe, to even arrive at a conscience vote in Parliament. The churches seem more concerned about this than changes in their own structures.

Jo
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Jo

One has to wonder what will happen if the SEC proceeds as expected with the removal of the definition of marriage from the canon. Will we have a situation where gay Anglican clergy can head for All Saints, Gretna, get married according to the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church and return home to face discipline? What are the rules for CofE clergy visiting Scotland and, with permission of the local bishop, performing a same-sex wedding or blessing?

Froghole
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Froghole

I am most impressed by Susannah’s superbly eloquent and thoughtful piece ‘A time for Grace’, and by Kate’s ingenious proposal for a local option. My regretful view is that they are both calling for a unity in diversity which at least one party in the Church would unlikely to concede, and that their proposals might give credence to those critics of the Church who argue that it is scarcely a church at all but merely an agglomeration of disparate tendencies sharing little but the same inherited structures. Here I wonder whether it is time that will be the healer. Conservatives… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
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The local bishop in Scotland will not be able to give permission to most travelling C of E clerics to perform the marriages of a same-sex couples. If the canon proposed in June passes, local dioceses will be able to nominate clergy who will perform such marriages. It won’t apply to all SEC priests, only those who are nominated. The only situation where it might be an issue for C of E clergy would be for the few C of E clergy who also have a connection with a diocese in Scotland. If someone had permission to officiate in an… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Froghole I think most LGBTI people see the Shared Conversations as that period of quiet reflection you call for and are of an option that the Bishops Reflection Group was highly disrespectful of the sacrifice many made both in terms of the stories shared but also the patience shown by many more. Quiet is the one thing that is definitely not on the agenda. There is no authority figure who could agree such a period and any who tried would be ignored. The LGBTI minority has learned over the years to distrust promises of jam tomorrow. That distrust clearly now… Read more »

badman
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badman

Froghole’s quote from James I is a gem.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

I’m enjoying your historical perspective Froghole. Henry Chadwick once said in Synod the C of E was suffering from historical amnesia.When I mentioned to Revd Dr Judith Maltby recently that I had strayed into her territory and was involved in an MA at Kent on 17c religion she told me that might be good preparation for the future!

cseitz
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cseitz

“Froghole’s quote from James I is a gem.”

And pretty chilling.

Froghole
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Froghole

Kate: I must apologise to you and LGBTI brethren for giving the impression of being disrespectful, and for having completely misunderstood both your objectives and your excellent proposal. What I was trying to say (incompetently) is that: (i) a period of calm would be necessary in order to get conservatives to acclimatise themselves to the reality of SSM in society (and, therefore, within the Church); but (ii) the LGBTI community has waited and suffered long enough, and the momentum for change is unstoppable. The timetables of each party are therefore completely misaligned. It therefore seems to me that a schism… Read more »

badman
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badman

“mutual toleration” is chilling?

Interesting point of view.

Kate
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Kate

Froghole, I am in a cinema waiting for a movie so I may reply more later but I wanted to say immediately I saw no disrespect whatsoever in what you wrote. God bless you Froghole.

cseitz
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cseitz

Nice. Edicts from monarchs and civil authorities “forbidding your clergy to touch upon such subjects.”

You can be sure they’d shut down this blog in a second. Too parlous.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Who knows? The Crown in Parliament may yet rear its head.

cseitz
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cseitz

Re: Froghole.

Sounds like what the sovereigns of the era, esp. James VI/I would advise. He wrote nice tracts on the Divine right of Kings, viz, Kings above all other human beings, by divine design. Famously anti-Parliament. Political absolutism.

So, no thank you for his form of “enforced toleration.”

Perry: Crown wouldn’t “rear its head” under James I.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

But the 29 members of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament might yet have something to say.

Froghole
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Froghole

Prof. Seitz: Apologies – I was being a bit flippant by referring to James I, and was making a clumsy point about Synod sometimes tending to aggravate partisan antagonisms (although it’s possible that I am being unfair about that august institution). I quite understand both your animosity towards James, and why independent-minded ‘godly’ Englishmen should have wanted to desert early Stuart England for the New World: the remarks I quoted probably reflected his memories of the Hampton Court conference of 1604, and his bitter childhood experiences of presbyterians like Knox, Melville, Gowrie (who kidnapped him) and Buchanan (who thrashed him).… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

This is an interesting and erudite thread. I am grateful to Susannah for her well argued and Frank statement. I would like to see a response from the Bishops which considers unity in diversity but this is going to be difficult to achieve since we are at an impasse. I regularly read Ian Paul’s blog, Psephizo, which offers a very different theology from many on this blog. It is clear that the bulk of Evangelicals are deeply hostile not only to any change in the church’s teaching enforced by the Bishops but also to any attempt to accommodate any alternative… Read more »

cseitz
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cseitz

Monsieur Trou de Grenouille No apologies necessary. Yes his upbringing was a study in the era’s complexities and unpleasantries. Monarchs unilaterally muzzling views by divine right also inhered in the era, as did Gunpowder Plots and wry commentary to Dutch copains. This would not be a peace keeping in the name of “mutual toleration” I should have thought anyone in our present age would lift up as a model. I assumed you were being arch. My forebears are not godly minded Englishmen but Germans fleeing the Franco-Prussian conscription. A lovely era of non stop conflict. Makes ours look like a… Read more »

american piskie
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american piskie

“The Crown in Parliament may yet rear its head.” Here are some modest proposals. It would not be unreasonable for our representatives to re-assert the rights of parishioners (if legally free to marry) to marry in their parish churches according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England; perhaps adding a provision that minor alterations in the wording to meet any particular case should not be deemed to affect the legal status of such a marriage. Nor would it be unreasonable for our representatives to clarify the law, so that harassment of employees, office holders, volunteers was deemed… Read more »