Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 1 July 2023

Tim Chesterton Inclusive Evangelicals From Rejection to Affirmation: My Personal Journey

Archdruid Eileen The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley “A Recipe for Red Tape” – the New Church of England Dioceses

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Shamus
Shamus
11 months ago

Archdruid Eileen reports upon a generally excellent re-shaping of Diocesan boundaries. How many parishes would actually notice if you did it? Cat priests to be warmly welcomed of course.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Oh, the Archdruid creases me up.

Cathedrals… “The Church of England Go-Ahead Groovy Thought Department envisages their use as shopping centres.. as well as the location for more traditional cathedral activities such as crazy golf, funfairs, and dinosaur parks.”

LOL

The first two comments are also lots of fun… LOL LOL LOL

Why are people so naughty?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Most cathedrals have ceilings tall enough for dinosaur parks. Some even have enough length for the creatures to turn around without knocking over the bishop.And they’d be great for cleaning the lights and cameras in the ceiling.
The anonymous post at 12:16pm, July1 may very well hit closer to the truth than the current incumbent at Canterbury will acknowledge.

Last edited 11 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

I thank Tim C for writing his story. It’s a wonderful thing when we confront the issues of which we’re afraid and let go of the layers in front of our eyes that cloud our vision and thus limit our actions (“if your eye offends, pluck it out and get a new one”). Wonderful – but not easy, and in my experience there’s always another one lurking. Well done and thank you.

Last edited 11 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

Thank you Stanley.

Peter
Peter
11 months ago

Tim gives an honest and considered explanation of his position. I cannot see within it an immediately clear picture of his perspective on the position of those such as myself who think he is wrong.

I am not going to rehearse the “why is he wrong” issue. I weary in my bones with that question.

The issue is how do we deal with irreconcilable difference.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Thanks Peter. That wasn’t the question I was asked to consider in my post, and the post was already rather long. The reason for the existence of the Inclusive Evangelicals blog is that some of us are ‘weary in our bones’ of the assumption being made that all evangelicals are against equal marriage and that those of us who aren’t, are not real evangelicals (Ian Paul, for instance, is constantly accusing us of having abandoned our evangelical commitment to the authority of scripture) and not really orthodox. The main focus of the blog is the Church of England; I’m a… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

I have just had a truly atrocious experience of malicious homophobia from a troll who thinks he is vanquishing demons on another blog. I am actually quite traumatised by the experience. To be clear homophobia is an abomination which I was confronting.

It is not and never will be the case that I refuse to associate with anyone, Tim.

I would stand shoulder to shoulder with you or your family if you faced one of these appalling people. They can call themselves what like. They are not believers

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Thank you, Peter, but I’m confused.

If I understand your position correctly, you feel the differences between your position and mine are irreconcilable, to the point that we need to be in separate church structures so that it is clear to the world that you believe my position is a dangerous error. That’s what I meant when I said that you don’t want to be associated with me.

If I’m wrong about that, then I truly don’t understand why you think a structural differentiation is necessary.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Peter. Harrowed as you are by the inclusive theology of evangelicals, you have no time for any rudeness and trolling behaviour towards us by your fellow conservatives. Thank you. It takes courage. I have seen the blog you refer to. Of course once you react to a troll you are lost. And the only people that host silences on his blog are women (there are only two of them). To debate sexuality with conservative evangelicals is to enter a world of men talking to men about men. But that’s another blog for someone braver than me!  

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
11 months ago

David, thank you. I appreciate your comment about my courage enormously.

I neither seek nor deserve credit, of course. If I am honest I am no longer willing to belong to any “tribe”. I cannot turn from my conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Beyond that, I will stand with anyone – and I mean anyone – against abuse.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
11 months ago

To address your substantive point it is certainly true groups of toxic belligerent men can create appalling closed cultures. One sign that has happened is as you note, the absence of women

The site in the question is clearly just such a group of deeply unpleasant men.

David, I appeal to you not to conflate that with conservative evangelicals.

The site in question purports to be a place for conservative discussion. That claim is risible.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter
Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

It is also worth noting that though some ‘conservative’ groups and individuals can develop toxic culture, nevertheless there are also individuals with ‘conservative’ views who I am more than interested to listen to, and from whom I can draw encouragement in my faith. For example Vaughan Roberts. For example Simon Ponsonby.

But I do agree that a lot of the ‘posturing’ tends to centre on men talking to other men. Maybe that can happen in more socially liberal circles too, but I don’t pick that signal up anything like as much.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Susannah, you are incredibly patient and gracious on that particular website.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 months ago

I’m not anti men ! There is of course something about the internet that facilitates vile behaviour.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Peter, I am so sorry you had that traumatic experience of being trolled. Being on the receiving end of malice is a shock to the system. You’re right that those people don’t speak for God.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

Janet,

Thank you. Your words are a tonic to my heart

Peter

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Peter, I have just gone over to have a look at the site in question and I am truly appalled by the way you have been treated there (as well as some of our other regular TA contributors).

I truly think I need to have Matthew 5.22 consciously before me all the time when I am joining in a blog conversation. I know I often fall short. Lord, have mercy.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Tim, I really really appreciate your words. They are a consolation to my heart. I don’t think I have it in my spirit to go on calling for structural differentiation. Yet, I cannot turn from my conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman. I just cannot do it, Tim. I think the future for me is in prayer and the breaking of bread with the local family of believers. I cannot be part of a tribe any longer I wish you, your daughter, her wife and all those you love every blessing in this age and in… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

I understand, Peter. I was in that position a few years ago.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

I did see the exchange on that site last week. If it is any consolation (and it probably is not) I and others have also been ‘blooded’ by the individual in question, and his (I am assuming it is a man) contributions account for my wariness in sticking my head above that parapet. The exchange may have been protracted, but it is not unusual. I can only assume that he considers that he is performing an important function, as a gadfly, in order to test the views which others advance. In that sense his contributions are usually wholly negative, but… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Froghole
11 months ago

Hi Froghole, Thank you so much for your careful analysis which is an enormous help. I witnessed the troll (no woman would every behave in such a way) harass three people with whom I have regularly conversed on this site. Two of them disagree with pretty much everything I say ! All three are serious minded and thoughtful people. I was not going to look the other way. I honestly do not know if it achieved anything. By the end I was so irate that I ended up looking the fool. Anyway, people on this site have a been an… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

I’m intrigued that so many people seem to know the site you’re referring to, though you never mentioned which site it was!

I’m glad people on TA have been a consolation, even though many of us often disagree with you. Discussion of differing views, done with grace and courtesy, is the only way for us to understand each other. And often a way to learn from each other and move on in the faith.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

Despite the malice present on the site I think it would be wrong to name it.

TA is a really important public resource. I think it would be wrong to attempt to drag TA into a sustained inter-blog conflict.

To be candid, that was not my view at the time of the abuse.

Simon (TA Simon) rightly measured his response to my plea for support and I support his judgement on the issue

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

I wasn’t asking for the name – why give them free PR? I was just wondering how so many people guessed it without being told.

It also puzzles me when someone posts under a pseudonym, and gets a reply using their real name and title. I seem to have missed out on the ESP many TA users are apparently gifted with- or maybe there’s a secret code I haven’t learned to read?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

Janet, speaking for myself, I had a hunch about the site, as it’s one both Peter and I visit from time to time, and I was very familiar with the kind of behaviour he described, so I went over there and checked the recent posts.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
11 months ago

Do you need Tim’s perspective on those who, like you, disagree with him?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

It was a genuine question, Janet, and Tim’s answer makes perfect sense. We are all exhausted.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
11 months ago

Tim, happy Canada Day. Thanks so much for this article. I really appreciated it. It is very interesting to see how you worked things through carefully and theologically. Like you, many of the people I know, gay or straight, evangelical or catholic, who support same sex marriage in the church also have an orthodox commitment to scripture and the creeds. You mention the Church Army in Canada in the past. One of my classmates, a mature student at AST was former Church Army. He was one the finest parish priests I have ever known. He passed away a few years… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
11 months ago

Thanks, Rod. I’m grateful for many things about my Church Army (now Threshold Ministries) heritage, including the lifelong friendships it has produced. It did not, however, equip me to deal with issues like this, and many of my friends are not at all happy about the change in my views.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Tim, thank you for your latest article at Inclusive Evangelicals. It is really moving and encouraging. You mention an arch-conservative among your Church Army classmates, who later came out as gay. I think that happens with some frequency, because his strong conservatism was me back in the 1980s. I was really alarmed that the Church of England was ‘soft’ on homosexuality, so much so that I wrote a long letter to my bishop about it. The thing is, I think sometimes people (like me) try to surround themselves with rigid ‘watertight’ dogma, to help us push down the diverse sexuality… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
11 months ago

Thank you Susannah.

Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Thanks for all the kind words, folks. I’d like to point out that there are also excellent articles on the Inclusive Evangelicals blog by Marcus Green, Savi Hensman, David Runcorn, Nick Bundock, Peter Carrell, Charles Read, Jody Stowell, Jonathan Tallon, and Christopher Marshall. See https://www.inclusiveevangelicals.com/.

RogerB
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
11 months ago

Thank you Tim. I was particularly struck by your line about the bible’s: ‘communal character, with conversations going on in its pages on different subjects just as they do in the church today. I recently heard a sermon which included the phrase ‘the bible’s view is clear…(the historic view that sex should only be between a married man and woman)’ I kid you not. That is one issue on which the bible is not clear. For example, it tells us that Jesus is descended from Judah, by the wife of his dead son’s widow. In this unhappy family situation the… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  RogerB
11 months ago

Thanks Roger.

Kate
Kate
11 months ago

Outstanding piece by Tim.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
11 months ago

Thanks Kate!

Josephine Stein
Josephine Stein
11 months ago

Many thanks to you, Tim, for this post and a great many others. It is so comforting to know that you have come to recognise that God unconditionally loves all people he has made, coming from a tradition that has not necessarily accepted this. And that we are called to love and to celebrate love towards others just as God made them. When I converted to Christianity, my first spontaneous, ejaculatory prayer was ‘God, forgive me for becoming a Christian’. With your online ministry I no longer have a problem with Christianity, realising that it’s just some individuals who refuse… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Josephine Stein
11 months ago

Gosh, what a compliment! Thank you, Josephine, and God’s peace and joy to you.

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