Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 1 June 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The God I Never Believed In

Gavin Drake Church Abuse Who are Ecclesiastical? And why does it matter?

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times Preacher who triggered a riot
“On the tercentenary of the death of Henry Sacheverell, Fergus Butler-Gallie revisits the clergyman’s life and pulpit polemics”

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David Hawkins
David Hawkins
11 days ago

Unlike Colin Coward I am not a Gay Man or a trained theologian and unlike Colin Coward my faith hangs by a thread. In my multi layered World on one level I don’t believe but in another part of my consciousness I believe passionately. I actually think there are lots of people like me and I suspect not many of us regularly attend a Church of England Church. But I sense a deep and widespread need for spiritual meaning in life and I’m afraid that the Welby led Church of England is completely failing people like me. As an untrained… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Hawkins
11 days ago

I don’t think your questions are “simplistic” . Sadly, the answers to life’s imponderables aren’t easily found in today’s CofE. Colin Coward often refers to the Honest to God period when John Robinson tried to promote a more mature interpretation of the Christian Myth. It was an exciting time. Today’s Church continues as if Robinson’s questions hadn’t been asked. If you are seeking smiling religious certainty, to the accompaniment of guitars and drums, you are in luck. The Church has spent millions of pounds promoting a slick superficial product which tells you everything they think you need to know. If… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 days ago

Fr David H, thank you for naming John Robinson’s promotion of the “Christian Myth”. Myth has become a taboo word, a name for untrue stories as opposed to all Bible stories which are historically true because they are in the Bible – and still Christian teaching is uncertain about the value of myth (which can be supreme in communicating deepest truth) compared with rock solid faith in the historicity and accuracy of all Biblical narratives. You put into words what I am still hesitant to say (because I know what reaction I might receive from the CEEC/Psephizo wing of the… Read more »

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
7 days ago

I think the genuine desire is to enable people flourish, whatever their convictions. The issue is that the existing structure does not allow this, hence the neurotic insecurity of the LFF process, as you put it. We cannot go on patching up the old wine skin, it just cannot contain the new thing that God is doing. A new wineskin is needed and this is where the current focus must be.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  David Hawkins
11 days ago

I wish I could answer your questions, David, but, in all humility, I cannot. Indeed even had I – or anyone – the combined wisdom of every great saint from Ignatius Loyola to Billy Graham and Desmond Tutu, I don’t think it possible. And they are NOT simplistic – like Jacob, we wrestle with them and never find a truly satisfying answer, because you and I are asking some mighty big questions. ‘Exploit, torture and enslave’? Well, by dint of various subterfuges, you convince yourself that your victims aren’t children of God, or indeed human beings. You start by pinning… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  John Davies
10 days ago

John, the ability to sin is always there. What isn’t there because the Church imposes a very immature idea of sin in its teaching, is us finding the personal freedom to say, stuff this, because it precludes me from experiencing, as a gay man, something the heterosexual majority get along fine with – sex and marriage and children and all those things that are fundamental to healthy lives. The Church is very screwed up about these things – and at the same time, at its best, very healthy and compassionate when it comes to love and intimacy. I don’t think… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
8 days ago

sex and marriage and children and all those things that are fundamental to healthy lives.’

Really? What about those of us who are single, and don’t have sex, marriage, or children? Don’t we have healthy lives? Didn’t Jesus or Paul have healthy lives, or any of the saints you care to mention? It just isn’t true.

We have to work at being fulfilled as single people – but then relationships have to be worked at too.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Janet Fife
8 days ago

Oh Janet – your “Really? is justified! Perhaps what I should have written is: something the heterosexual majority “seem” to get along fine with. I had in mind those who seem to think, according to their ‘orthodox’ understandings of God and the Bible, that God is only satisfied with us when we have got married and had children. Anything else, from a gay marriage to the single life, with or without sex and children, are in some ways unfulfilled or are failing to live completely within God’s expectations. Of course I agree with you that Jesus and Paul and myriads… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
8 days ago

Thanks, Colin. I agree that people who idolise the hetero marriage/nuclear family model, and assume it’s God’s best for everyone, are really annoying. Other options are available.

It’s irritating, too when politicians aim all their remarks and policies at families. Of course families need and deserve consideration – whatever type of family they are – but so do the millions of people living alone or in a situation other than in a family.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 days ago

David, thank you for your thoughtful, reflective comment. I also think you are right – that there are lots of people who think like you and most don’t regularly attend a CofE church. But I also think that many people who do attend also think like this – and if they don’t, it may be because they have never been given permission to respond to their intuitive experience.  You as a question: “how come priests who worship a God of Love have so little love and compassion to offer” relating this to the terrifying death of six year old… Read more »

James H
James H
10 days ago

Everything Colin writes here is brave, honest and very insightful. There seems to be a clause missing in the last sentence of the first paragraph of the last headed section. If Colin reads this and can fill in the gap, it will be appreciated as I would not want to miss any of his sharp observations.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  James H
10 days ago

James H, I appreciate your description of me a brave, honest and insightful. This is how I imagine myself and try to be, haunted as I nevertheless am by anxieties and insecurities.

I’ve re-read the sentence you identify and it is as it reads in my original text, so I’m not sure at what point you think there’s a clause missing. Please tell me, because it might help clarify my thoughts.

Last edited 10 days ago by Rev Colin C Coward
Shamus
Shamus
10 days ago

Some well observed analogies to today’s situation in the CofE in Fergus B-G’s piece, and I thank God for his lovely sense of humour. I hope he is very happy in his new parishes.

James H
James H
9 days ago

Sorry Colin, I mislabelled the paragraph. It’s the first one of the penultimate section: “the God that underpins a C of E theology of human sexuality”.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  James H
8 days ago

Got it! Yup, I stopped mid-thought. I’ve now completed it, struggling to remember exactly where I was heading.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
7 days ago

Colin, thank you for your interesting and thought provoking article. On ‘Honest to God, we have different experiences. I am a little younger than you and , as a teenager in a smart grammar school, my group of friends and I held Christianity in a high degree of contempt, not believing a word of it. However we were a savvy bunch, and had heard of the controversy surrounding the book. Our take was quite simple. ‘If even the bishops don’t believe it, then it just proves the whole think is rubbish.’ Non of us would have dreamed of actually reading… Read more »

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