Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 1 November 2023

Andrew Atherstone Law & Religion UK The House of Bishops of the Church of England and public transparency

Marcus Walker The Critic The road to Wigan’s tears

Evan McWilliams ViaMedia.News Same-sex Marriage and the Book of Common Prayer

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Are we heading for decisive Anglican indecision?

Jon Blanchard View from the Pew Why I am not a liberal

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FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
6 months ago

I do find fascinating this interesting distinction that’s buzzing about between ‘evangelicals’ and a tacit ‘the rest of us’. I was raised in an evangelical church and most of my family remain baffled by my devotion to Mary. But it’s a big movement, with all sort of people and theologies wrapped up under that one broad brushstroke. I get the sense that those of us who aren’t evangelicals tend to conflate ‘evangelical’ with ‘conservative evangelical’. After all, I do know people personally who are evangelicals who aren’t strict penal substitutionists – such may have been a good idea to Calvin,… Read more »

Lister Tonge
Lister Tonge
6 months ago

A couple of weeks ago, at a funeral in the Wigan area, the Undertaker happened to say that it was now so complicated to arrange a Church of England funeral in Wigan that many people, rather than face a lengthy wait for confirmation of where and when, are choosing a secular funeral celebrant and not exploring the Church option at all.

Dr Stephen Foster
Dr Stephen Foster
Reply to  Lister Tonge
6 months ago

In response to Lister, this situation of priests being unable or unwilling to officiate at funerals has been going on in many many other places in my own experience for the last 35 years. If the Parish System breaks down with other models being preferred with fewer priests being ‘available’ to serve in this vital pastoral ministry, the scenario which both Lister and I describe can only get worse.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Dr Stephen Foster
6 months ago

That is the CofE removing itself from the matches and dispatches in our nation then! The LGBTQ+ brethern aren’t rushing to make up the numbers either.
Thanks to Marcus for the quote “Punishment beatings shall continue until morale improves.” I will find someway of using it soon I feel.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Graham Watts
6 months ago

“The beatings will continue until morale improves” is attributed to (or possibly placed in the mouth of) Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty, if memory serves.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Lister Tonge
6 months ago

It would be really be interesting to see the statistics for numbers of funerals in the Wigan area, pre and post the recent changes. I remember reading about a deanary which hired a funeral administrator, and the statistics for funerals increased. A centralised system ought to make life easier for undertakers, not harder.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Lister Tonge
6 months ago

I can well imagine that all sorts of things are complicated in the Wigan deanery at present, but I would caution against taking the mutterings of funeral directors too seriously. Complaints about how hard it is to contact clergy have become a commonplace justification by funeral directors for using civil celebrants instead in recent years. That really grates with those of us who know the importance of a swift reply to the FDs for the sake of the families as much as for anyone else. Increasingly, it seems that across the country FDs are making the decision that using civil… Read more »

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
6 months ago

Complaints about how hard it is to contact clergy have become a commonplace . .

If they right then this is more evidence for my argument that many clergy are simply lazy.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
6 months ago

I think you’re missing my point – the complaint about clergy being hard to contact is a trope trotted out by FDs to justify their decision to use civil celebrants as the default. It is deeply unjust to parish clergy who do their best to be available for families who need support in time of bereavement.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Oliver Miller
6 months ago

Or that they’re busy doing other things and can’t always get to the phone (and the vicar’s spouse, who in times past was expected to act as unpaid PA, is now also working full time). Why do you have to make everything about grinding your personal axe?

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Jo B
6 months ago

“Why do you have to make everything about grinding your personal axe?”

Since you ask, it’s because I think clergy work ethic is by far the most important issue the church faces today.

In the past there has been some (well discussed) abuses of power in the church, and I think the culture which allows these terrible abuses also allows much smaller abuses. Unwillingness to answer the phone is one such example. Clergy who merely go through the motions of doing the minimum possible, know that they’ll most likely get away with it.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Oliver Miller
6 months ago

Oliver, I think it might be time to ask what size of sample of clergy are you basing your assertions on, and what evidence? If, as you say, it is ‘by far the most important issue the church faces today’ it would be helpful to know.

Oliver Miller
Oliver Miller
Reply to  Fr Andrew
6 months ago

Oliver, I think it might be time to ask what size of sample of clergy are you basing your assertions on, and what evidence? If, as you say, it is ‘by far the most important issue the church faces today’ it would be helpful to know.

Two at my present church, two from my last and a group of half a dozen at a training event. Also an overheard conversation between a vicar and an archdeacon which made me think that several empty days per week was the norm.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Oliver Miller
6 months ago

Let me assure you that several empty days a week is not the norm for any clergy that I know. You clearly mix in some very rarified circles.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
6 months ago

Jon Blanchard didn’t resonate with me at all. He favours a Christianity based on (centrally dictated) ritual, attendance to a schedule and a set of moralistic priorities, set by others of course. What I really dislike about that is the “we know best” attitude which doesn’t trust people to determine for themselves how best to worship and serve the Lord. It’s inherently judgemental – his piece is riddled with judgement such as his attitude to clergy who don’t attend church on the few Sundays they aren’t leading worship.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
6 months ago

A thoughtful piece on ‘Why I am not a liberal’. Just one comment. Penal substitutionary atonement is one particular expression of the doctrinal of substitutionary atonement in evangelical thought. There are many evangelicals (and evangelical theologians) who hold to expressions of the latter but do not accept the former.

Simon Cowling
Simon Cowling
Reply to  David Runcorn
6 months ago

A politely intended observation that there is no doctrine of the atonement in the Christian tradition. There are theories of the atonement, of which penal substitution is one. Others are available.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Simon Cowling
6 months ago

I think this comes down to how you understand the word doctrine. We could simply be agreeing but using different words for the debates we need

John N Wall
6 months ago

Regarding Evan McWilliams on same-sex marriage and the BCP, I am in complete agreement, except that this essay, like so many discussions of this subject, omits reality when the subject of the procreation of children comes up. By pinning the argument of inclusivity on the cases when heterosexual couples are unable to have children, the argument ignores the many, many cases of gay couples who have children either through adoption or through use of surrogates in the act of conception and who turn out to be exceptional parents, or at the least as good at parenting as many of us… Read more »

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  John N Wall
6 months ago

I appreciate your observations, John. Perhaps my point was not as clearly made as I thought. I had intended to counter the specific argument that procreative potential by means of biological conception is an integral aspect of marriage, an argument that is often made by various conservatives (and often by Catholics). Noting that procreative potential is not required by the Church to be present in heterosexual marriages in no way dismisses or denigrates the very real actions of LGBT+ couples who raise children either by adoption or surrogacy. In fact, I believe I did say the following: ‘Nurture of children… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Tobias Haller
Reply to  John N Wall
6 months ago

This is one of the reasons for crafting the Declaration of Consent for the marriage canon for the Episcopal Church (2015), to cite “the gift and heritage of children” rather than “procreation” as one of the divine purposes for marriage. It is important to recognize the importance of adoption in Christian theological language.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  John N Wall
6 months ago

Some gay couples have children from previous opposite sex marriages or relationships. So for example a bisexual woman may have children that were conceived by her biologically. I know many men who fathered children before they came out as gay. Everyone seems to muddle along and certainly don’t appear any more muddled than children conceived and brought up by ‘straight’ parents.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Fr Dean
6 months ago

With respect to LGBTQ parenting.

If you were to ask many members of the general public to name an example of a popular, respected, gay “national treasure”, they might well come up with Elton John or Tom Daly, both of whom have fathered children within a gay marriage.

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
6 months ago

Amen to ‘Same Sex Marriage and the Book of Common Prayer’ and let that be an end to the whole debate — except it won’t be, because at the root of this whole thing is not rational argument but irrational homophobia. I’m sorry to say it of my own church but I fear it is true — and even if not, it is the common perception of the CofE amongst the people we are supposed to be serving.

Last edited 6 months ago by Mark Andiam
David Lamming
David Lamming
6 months ago

May I suggest that Andrew Atherstone’s guest post on Law & Religion UK should be required reading for all members of General Synod. His opening paragraph hits the nail on the head: “Transparency builds trust. Secrecy breeds distrust. Currently, the Church of England’s House of Bishops faces a serious trust deficit in its relationship with the other two Houses of General Synod, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. This breakdown is generated partly by the cloak of secrecy surrounding House of Bishops proceedings, for which there is currently no public access and no published minutes. However, as… Read more »

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