Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 10 July 2021

Nick Spencer Engelsberg Ideas Humanism matters in the age of AI

Giles Fraser UnHerd The Church is abandoning its flock

Edward Dowler All Things Lawful And Honest Ordained by God

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Speaking of planning permission: 10,000 reasons to decline

Dave Male, the Church of England’s director of evangelism and discipleship Clergy and parishes at the heart of the Church of England – now and in the future

Church Times Leader comment: ‘Key limiting factors’

Ian Black Church Times ‘Passengers’ have more to offer than we think
“The laity have long contributed to church growth, even if some shirk from the language of ‘discipleship'”

Philip Murray All Things Lawful And Honest Limiting Factors? Or Limited Ecclesiology?

Paul Bayes ViaMedia.News LGBT Stories: Bring on the Ban!

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Kelvin Holdsworth
3 months ago

I have questions for the bishops advocating a legal ban on conversion therapy.

Have you banned it in your diocese? If not, why not?

Is conversion therapy an offence within the CDM or equivalent system? If not, why not?

Notwithstanding the fact that there is work to be done on this in places other than churches, there is something very odd about bishops demanding that the state regulate the churches in this area.

RobT
RobT
Reply to  Kelvin Holdsworth
3 months ago

Also, the Bishop of London, in answer to a question to Synod (Q41 of the latest set) has said (in my reading of her words) that conversion therapy is still OK in some situations.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  RobT
3 months ago

Her answer was infuriatingly vague and it’s not entirely clear what she meant. (Maybe that vagueness was deliberate.) There are grounds, I think, for exempting NHS doctors while providing care on the NHS. That’s an exemption I would support. I hope that the Bishop of London wasn’t suggesting any wider exemption than that but unfortunately it is impossible to tell.

Jane Manon-Thomas
Jane Manon-Thomas
Reply to  Kate
3 months ago

She doesn’t want to upset the rich conservative Evaneglical parishes in her Diocese who keep the show on the road – and who endorsed her appointment.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
3 months ago

Since retirement I’ve sat with the faithful remnant Giles Fraser describes each Sunday. They’re a lovely crowd, they look out for each other and share in each other’s joys and commiserate with disappointments. They smile benevolently at excitable children and my mother’s flatulence. They seem devout in an unfussy way, and clearly value the sacrament. They only start to fidget if the Vicar preaches for too long. On Trinity Sunday a very elderly organist did his best playing ‘I bind unto myself today’ I cried as I remembered my ordination service. These septuagenarians and octogenarians are everyday saints and certainly… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

Thank you for this recognition of low profile faith and down-to-earth decency and service.

James Pratt
James Pratt
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

My first parish was a 4-point rural charge, and the smallest of the 4 was a village of about 24 souls, of whom 6 were regular attendees, all over the age of 60. They were my favourite congregation. None could carry a tune, yet they sang enthusiastically; I never needed to worry about the heat not having been turned on, or the altar not being set for communion; and on the rare occasion when the drive was not plowed, someone was waiting with a skimobile to take me from the road up the hill to the church. They punched above… Read more »

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  James Pratt
3 months ago

Bishop Spreadsheet and Archdeacon It Looks A Good Fit On
The Map have a lot to answer for.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
3 months ago

The Nick Spencer article is simply excellent. Good to have such an articulate defence of the Christian humanism some of us have valued for virtually an entire lifetime. In the first instance, reading Spencer took me back to my undergrad years at St. Francis Xavier University. One of my phil profs was both a devout and erudite R.C. priest ( indeed there was a cohort of them there at that time). He taught us that humanism is essential to Christian faith and practice. Good as well to see the references to Maritain and Gilson. One of the thinkers whom I… Read more »

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

The man leading on 10,000 new churches, lay led, has said he will leave the Church of England if equal marriage is agreed.

Personally I think he has in mind 10,000 not inclusive of LGBT+ people, and probably lay MAN, led churches of a certain style.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

I don’t think he’ll need to cross the Tiber or a Protestant equivalent anytime soon. Our bishops clearly intend to keep hoofing that can down the road indefinitely.

Barrie McKenzie
Barrie McKenzie
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

If same sex marriage is what takes for the instigators of this nonsense to leave the CofE, then I might actually support it!

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

And perhaps linked to GAFCON UK

Charles Read
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

he is one of the vice-presidents of GAFCON UK

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

Indeed Charles. And as others have asked, who are the individuals and trusts who are financially supporting him?

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Charles Read
3 months ago

From another thread: “There is no GAFCON-US but rather ACNA. For all their similarities, the GAFCON UK exists against the backdrop of the established Church of England, which in turn occupies a much more significant footprint in the UK than does TEC. I begin this way because I believe it is relevant in assessing your notice. J McGinley operates at present in both the CofE and GAFCON (there is no real analogy in TEC for this, or elsewhere). Given the stresses and strains in the established church at present, and given the high (if roiling) profile this initiative is being… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

For once, I find myself in agreement with Christopher here. The principal architect of this new initiative in the ‘Mother Church’ is actually an advocate of the GAFCON way of being Church. How, possibly, can the leadership of the traditional Church of England be seduced into aligning the Institutional Church with the ambitions of the outside organisation GAFCON/ACNA that has already distanced itself from the world-wide Anglican Communion with its alternative ‘Confessing Church’, which has sought to undermine the ethos of Unity in Diversity which most of our traditional Anglican congregations are happy with? GAFCON/ACNA is adept at undermining existing… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Father Ron Smith
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

I fear you have missed my point. ACNA is a separate entity vis a vis TEC. The fate of GAFCON UK is as yet unclear. The role of this person is indicative of that very fact. He is in both C of E and G UK. My question was whether this was connected to plans for the next season in a CofE under strain due to property and demographics.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

“There are some forms of Christianity that exist only in order to reproduce. Christians are here to make new Christians who, in turn, are called to go out there and make even more new ones. The purpose of church life is to beget more church life. Randy for converts, these good shepherds admire the sheep in the pews principally for their reproductive qualities. And you can tell it’s these sorts of Christians that are now running the show in the Church of England …” ** sigh ** The world’s two biggest religions, Christianity and Islam, both preach that their followers… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

The idea that everyone who is not an adherent of other faiths is automatically ‘Church of England’, without knowing it, is arrogant and delusional. It places an impossible and unrealisable psychological burden on any parish priest who is made to believe they have thousands of parishioners when, in reality, they have very few. The Established Church continues to believe it plays an important role in the life of the English people. Those millions of ‘parishioners’ who clergy falsely believe are ‘theirs’ don’t give the CofE a moment’s thought. Feeling self-important is a terrible Anglican clerical affliction.

SkepticalObserver
SkepticalObserver
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

Thank you Peter and FrDavidH. I have genuinely wondered if when a diocesan bishop says ‘Receive this cure of souls which is both yours and mine’ if anyone involves genuinely believes that there is any reality in the statement or is just going along with the historical script. At the very least it is dismissive of the validity of all other religions as it is saying that their leadership is over ruled by that of the CofE by claiming the responsibility for a population as defined by a notional line on a map. Then also that other Christian denominations are… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  SkepticalObserver
3 months ago

“Receive this cure of souls…” can be heard in that colonial sense which reached its apotheosis in Henry Mannings, “By what authority do you lift the latch of the poor man’s door and enter and sit down and begin to instruct or correct him. …if I was not a messenger sent from God, I was an intruder and impertinent.” Or it can be a reminder to serve the wider community and not become just a chaplain to the faithful. I certainly heard it in the latter sense. Although I struggled to incarnate what I still believe to be the C… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  SkepticalObserver
3 months ago

I’ve always understood it differently – that the CofE exists as a place where those without a formal religious affiliation can seek pastoral support as of right, without passing any credal or attendance-register tests. Thus the pyramid of overlordship is inverted; I have no authority over my parishioners, but they do have at least a notional right, when the chips are down, to seek out their parish priest, and my duty to try and answer that call is actually written into what I’m supposed to be about. I’m not up to meeting that challenge, even with all the resources of… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Rowett
3 months ago

The “descent into congregationalism” is, indeed, sad and is being hastened by the planting of new evangelical Churches inviting people to sign up – as long as their face fits. This is a far cry from a Church theoretically open to everyone. LBGTQ enquirers will soon be told Jesus loves them a bit less than others, unless they repent. What a ghastly caricature of Christianity these Church plants represent.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

Fr. David,
Thank you!
The way I see it is,
All too often LBGTQ people are expected to be in the pews, on their knees in abject awareness of their diabolical sinfulness, begging for mercy from their woeful state from the “merciful” priest or minister — and with their hand stretched out with money or, even better, a major credit card, to be dropped into the collection plate.

They’re wanted only to pad the attendance, be preached at, and to help pay the bills.

Last edited 3 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Rowett
3 months ago

‘Free at the Point of Use to anyone who comes our way.’ Hardly. My elderly aunt died recently in the English midlands. She had been a member of her local C of E parish for 40 years.Her only daughter, a Baptist, was shocked by how much her parish was charging for her funeral. She was told that this was a standard charge required by the powers that be. Meanwhile, in my little non-established Anglican church in the colonies, in which I’m ‘just a nurturer of my own little congregation’ (that word ‘just’ is iniquitous, given the huge potential for service… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

I have had occasion to waive fees when it is (embarrassingly) obvious that faithful members of the congregation couldn’t afford to be married in the Church where they worshipped regularly. I never charged funeral fees for regular members. Illegal? Yes. But Jesus never said “Come to me all who travail and can afford it”.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

God bless you David, ironically I ministered in relatively affluent parts of the country but I too occasionally waived fees in case of need. At least you engaged with the occasional offices; a deanery colleague of mine did all the environmental health funerals for a nearby town because the clergy there were too busy and couldn’t ever find time in their diaries to bury the (financially impoverished) dead. The conservative evangelical clergy in the town in the opposite direction wouldn’t do babies funerals for some reason, and so the undertakers always phoned my colleague for those as well. In so… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Giles Fraser, at the top of his piece, quotes Archbishop Welby, “We don’t preach therapeutic care…” Ironically the zealots among the conevo cohort probably could use some therapeutic care. Don’t we all at times? Regarding the details of the ‘myriad’ shtick, I don’t know from nothing, except what I read from afar. However, don’t be fooled by the emphasis on ‘lay led’ or the championing of pure faithful unencumbered by education. I am certain any first rate social psychologist would be able to spot the hierarchy in a heart beat.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

Am I alone in thinking that Dave Male’s piece is dishonest? He claims that the Myriad initiative “is not a national Church of England project”. However, it was launched at a conference endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is run by the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication which is led by the Anglican Bishop of Islington. Its own website states that “(O)ur aim is to support the planting of 10,000 new, predominantly lay-led, Church of England churches in the next ten years”. In what way is this not a Church of England project? This Key Limiting Factor is not… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

There was something of the same approach to the Iwerne/Titus Trust. There’s an element of the C of E wanting to be associated with successful projects but denying any connection if there are problems. Having seen the negative reaction the official line now seems to be “ Just because the Archbishop of Canterbury is involved doesn’t mean that it is anything to do with the Church of England.”

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Simon Bravery
3 months ago

Part of my concern about all this is that I see the similarity with Iwerne/Titus: lots of C of E young men get thrashed by a Reader of the C of E, and when things get difficult the Archbishop of Canterbury feels able to claim that John Smyth was not even an Anglican. When things go wrong with Myriad will the mantra again simply be “we’re sorry, this has nothing to do with us”? Who is funding this initiative, and to whom are those leading it accountable? These are important questions, and the patronising statement from Dave Male does not… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

I think he means it is not an official C of E project but a bit of private enterprise – like the Society of Catholic Priests or CPAS. It is therefore not able to be scrutinized by General Synod. You are therefore right to ask hard questions. John is a member of GS. So far he has not been here this weekend – if he turns up he could apologize.

Last edited 3 months ago by Charles Read
Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

Quote from Dave Male on CofE website re Myriad and the CofE:
‘Myriad is a self-funding initiative aiming to support the planting of 10,000 new, predominantly lay-led churches. It comes from the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication which supports leaders, church teams and diocese across London, England and beyond as they multiply disciples, churches and networks. It is part of the CofE but works with many denominations and networks.’

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
3 months ago

Indeed, Fr. Dexter, it seems disingenuous: it is as though some furious back-pedalling is going on.

It was very good to meet you, albeit briefly, after the 6 PM mass this evening.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

I find nothing dishonest, disingenuous or back-peddling in Dave Male’s piece. He is trying to explain how two separate messages/initiatives got unhelpfully muddled. The tinder dry world of social media ensured the response would be furious – and just as confused. I agree it all needs more scrutiny. I particularly think giving the lead on church plants to someone who publicly holds very conservative views on same-sex relationships and has declared his intention to leave the CofE for a ‘third province’ if this changed in a more including direction is insensitive and counterproductive at the present time. Did no one… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

“Did no one consider how this would play out to the wider church?” Simply, no. The arrogance and self-righteousness of these Politburo leaders means they’re surprised that their preposterous proposals are being questioned. They then have to back-peddle to appear reasonable. They may be in charge, But most of us are not going to obey.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

FrDavidH. It is one thing to express frustration with those leading on our behalf. Fair enough. And a ‘thinking’ website is a place to explore that. It is quite another to simply insult them and publicly presume the worst of their personal character and motives. I do not wish to continue this discussion.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

When someone threatens to leave Church of England if they can’t get their own way, I don’t think criticising them is an “insult”.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

‘Politburo’????

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

This description of the present hierarchy has been in regular use on TA by other commenters besides me.. You may believe them to be “insulting” too. Sadly, I believe the days of traditional Anglican “reasonableness” are over. The Politburo have made sure of that. Obey them. Or they’ll cause schism.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

I think it’s insulting to the memory of the hundreds of thousands who died at the hands of the real politburo. Not to mention being dead against the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5.21-22.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you were upset about my alleged ‘insult’ towards our Anglican Leaders. Obviously, I have sympathy for victims of Soviet oppression. It’s a pity the CofE has learned some of the Politburo tactics.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

I meant both. I’m saddened when the phrase ‘Nazi’ is used loosely to describe someone on the right who I strongly disagree with politically. I think that use of the phrase is insulting to the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust. Likewise, I have many Mennonite friends here in western Canada who are one or two generations removed from the vicious persecution under the Communists in the 1920s. Those who could, fled for their lives, but hundreds of thousands couldn’t, and many simply ‘disappeared’. The Politburo was responsible for concentration camps (anyone else read ‘The Gulag… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

But the way the CoE operates IS Leninist, as was noted in Parliament by Major Harry Barnes MP in 1919. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1919-11-07/debates/b557391b-6134-4e76-8454-d19efecdbe75/NationalAssemblyOfTheChurchOfEngland(Powers)BillLords.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

Indeed, Prof. Monkhouse. Barnes concluded by noting that: “With regard to the question of Disendowment, there can be no question now that the property enjoyed by the Church is national property. That matter has been settled beyond all dispute, so far as the great bulk of it is concerned, by the measures which have passed this House regarding the Church in Ireland and the Church in Wales. The proposal contained in the Amendment is one not brought forward in any sense of hostility to the real interests of the Anglican Church, but a proposal which we feel bound to bring… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

I’m done.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Hi David. I’m fascinated by your point ‘I particularly think giving the lead on church plants to someone who publicly holds very conservative views on same-sex relationships and has declared his intention to leave the CofE for a ‘third province’ if this changed in a more including direction is insensitive and counterproductive at the present time.’ I’m not persuaded by the church planting project but I don’t think publicly holding the Church of England’s present teaching and discipline should be an impediment to leadership. At the recent ordinations I’ve been to it’s been a requirement. Or perhaps I’ve missed a… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Stephen. Thanks. A few responses. Firstly, anyone leading a national church initiative needs to have the confidence and trust of more than their own constituency (and the social media storm following these proposals reflects exactly how important that is). This is true on any topic. We are a broad church. Secondly, you do not have to be full supporter of equal marriage to be concerned at what Canon McGinley believes about welcome and inclusion, given his public comments – and therefore what those new churches under his leadership would believe too (and even if their allegiance to the CofE is… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Thanks David. Yes I appreciate the clarification and especially the point about leading beyond a particular constituency. I would hope that if JM’s public comments went beyond the teaching and discipline of the Church of England he would be called to account in the proper ways. Personally I couldn’t discount him as an appropriate leader until that had been established. This dilemma reminds me a bit of the issue of opting into the oversight of one’s preferred Bishop.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Thanks Stephen. Just to clarify. I accept that JM’s views align with the present doctrine of the church. But the present church is already a community that is much more diverse – which is why the debates are happening. The phrase used by the CofE for this is ‘mutual flourishing’ – working with groups that disagree on significant issues (though it needs a lot more work when applied to the context of women’s ministry). If JM can/will only work within one understanding of things he will be part of the problem not the solution (and, partly by accident, he clearly… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

The debates are important and I’m trying hard not to label one view as the problem and another as the solution. I don’t think I have anything further to add, but thanks for the exchanges.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

We are in a process of reconsidering that teaching, and are supposed to be having conversations and listening to each other. So it isn’t appropriate to put into a position of leadership someone who has publicly announced that if the discussions don’t go the way he wants, he’ll leave and join a rival church. And it was bound to play badly when his scheme is already seen as threatening the existence of the parish structure. It intensifies fears that these 10,000 new house churches will undermine and destroy the parish system.

Fr. Dean
Fr. Dean
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Would Synod and perhaps crucially Parliament grant them a third province? With MPs popping out of the closet left, right and centre I think they might not vote for such a ‘solution’.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Fr. Dean
3 months ago

Those who think that a third province is an option clearly weren’t paying attention during the long years of the debates on the ordination of women.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

It was good to meet you too. It’s so nice to put a face to a pseudonym.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Re: The Rt. Rev. Paul Bayes and, Bring on the Ban, Canadian Primate Archbishop Linda Nicholls, and some of the other Canadian Archbishops have signed on. Also, Bishop Andrew Asbil, diocese of Toronto, has issued a formal apology to the GBLTQ2+ communities: “I apologize for our failure to support, to uphold and to honour our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirit Siblings in Christ – by what we have done and by what we have left undone. In all of these ways – we were wrong.” (see link).

https://www.toronto.anglican.ca/news/read-bishop-asbils-apology-to-the-lgbtq2s-community/

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

These sorts of “apologies” are disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst, and I don’t think anyone takes them seriously. Certainly not the people giving them (it’s just words, and they usually have their fingers crossed while saying them) and I doubt the people hearing them think much better. It’s basically “when we said we hated you with every fibre of our being and did everything in our power to marginalise and exclude you, we were having a bit of a moment, but whoops! dearie me! That wasn’t very nice of us, so here’s some platitudes”. Andrew Aspil is sixty. It’s… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

How you feel about it is, well, how you feel about it I reckon. Not my place to debate your feelings. However, I wouldn’t characterize the apology or Asbil as you do. “The apology followed months of intentional consultation and conversation with members of the Diocese, and for Bishop Andrew personally, decades of walking alongside LGBTQ2S+ Anglicans.” (see link) Apologies will be received variously and in accordance with the complexity of the legacy they intend to address. Formal apologies, offered by persons in position of trust and authority, and on behalf of an institution, are a necessary step in addressing… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Well said, Rod.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Thanks Tim. You and I and those of us in Canada will know about the impact of the apology issued by the Primate of the day on behalf of the Canadian Church to First nations in the wake of the Indian [sic] Residential Schools.(link). Others on TA may be unaware of the analogies and learnings from that situation to this one. The apology was a necessary first step. It has been followed by re-building of relationships with First Nations people. The subsequent unfolding process of self determination for First Nations with our church has even caught the eye of Canada’s… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Rod, yes, that was what I was thinking of. I found it interesting and heartening that Michael’s apology was so important to Indigenous Anglicans that they recognized the 20th anniversary of it’s being given.

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Paul Bayes has been calling for greater inclusion for years. When Andrew Asbil was elected as bishop three years ago, he had made it clear that he was affirming on marriage (https://www.anglicanjournal.com/dean-of-toronto-elected-coadjutor-bishop/). I do not know how involved he has been in the past thirty years’ efforts to make the Anglican Church of Canada more affirming (it was of course under attack even in the early 2000s for taking LGBT inclusion seriously); unless there is evidence to the contrary, he may well have been personally committed for quite a while. If someone apologises on behalf of an institution, it seems… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

‘Cheap words. No actions. Get other people to do the work.’

Well, he’s the leader of a diocese which includes in its college of bishops a married gay man (whose wedding was conducted by another Ontario bishop).

Also, under his leadership, his diocese has become one of many in Canada to officially authorize their clergy to officiate at the weddings of same sex couples.

So I don’t think it can fairly be said that he’s done nothing.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Thanks. I happen to agree.

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
3 months ago

Setting aside the practical challenges, outlined by Andrew Lightbown among others, of starting what now look like tens of thousands of new Christian communities/churches, the implications for laypeople are helpfully addressed by Ian Black and Philip Murray. If seeking God’s realm on earth is not solely about expanding the institutional church and some of us have a different calling, what will happen if thousands are persuaded to neglect the tasks which only we can do? To some church leaders, showing love and seeking justice, on a small or large scale, may seem irrelevant to our faith unless this is done… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

Andrew Lightbown makes a very good point. Should the Church of England abandon its historic buildings and pastoral role for the sake of being ‘with it’ in terms of Evangelical Music-fests and lay-led Alpha-style Go-Go religion? If that were to happen, who would look after the everyday pastoral needs of the people who live in the parishes? ‘Bums on seats’ Billy -Graham style religion is not enough – without the sacramental ministry of well-trained caring clergy.

Last edited 3 months ago by Father Ron Smith
David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

Less of a caricature of evangelical churches would help this discussion. I know a number of evangelical vicars who care for their buildings/congregations/parishes, administer the sacraments (well, the bits of them we’re allowed to), but who would also love to see the church grow and new congregations planted. In some of the new housing estates around our town, where there is no land, space or money for a new church building, a small congregation based in the estate would enhance pastoral care and mission. Most populated areas are spreading away from where the church buildings are. If we are committed… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

What has this got to do with 10000 lay people inviting the neighbours round for a night of religious indoctrination? I’d be more convinced if Mr Male et al told the laity to be sure to mention the Real Presence, the Perpetual Virginity of Our Lady, and the need for oracular confession. No. This is an evangelical caricature made in the image of Mr Gumbel. And it won’t work.

David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

Not a lot, probably because nobody is actually suggesting that 10,000 lay people invite the neighbours round for a night of religious indoctrination. I was seeking – unsuccessfully by the look of it – to add some facts into the mix.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

Had, say, the Communist Party of Great Britain announced they were going to invite their neighbours to 10000 different venues to hear talks about Marxist – Leninism most of us wouldn’t lose sleep over the threat of a revolution. Similarly, we can rest assured no one will worry in case England is going to be swamped in a deluge of conservative evangelicalism. Thankfully, it ain’t gonna happen. We can sleep soundly.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

It’s an interesting thought for a survey. Someone you know socially invites you around to their house to join their house church group. Do you (a) Accept, and get out your diary to clear a date? (b) Equivocate, and say that you’re quite busy but will think about it? (c) Decline, hoping the friendship survives? (d) Decline, cutting the former friend off as a weirdo? This being Britain, I suspect the main answer is “b”, followed by “c”, followed by an even and small split between “a” and “d”. This initiative will achieve nothing except, probably generate at least one… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

‘Someone you know socially invites you around to their house to join their house church group.’ I suspect that’s rather a simplification of how it would actually happen. Let me share how I imagine it. I’m quite well embedded in the folk music community in my city (being a musician myself), and have a number of strong friendships with non-Christian people in that community. It was fairly common in pre-Covid times for our conversations to turn to spiritual issues. In that situation I let the other person take the initiative, but when I’m asked, I give a reason for the… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

But middle ground groups might work better. We’ll see.”

Yes, it might. But it’s also likely that the “short-term ‘agnostics anonymous’ group where we have open discussion about faith and spirituality” format has been poisoned in advance by the Alpha Course, which was billed as roughly that but was in fact a Con-Evo front, akin to taking a “personality test” before finding out it was the Scientologists. No matter how genuine your intentions, I suspect the bad publicity will precede you.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

It is tiresome. Thanks for trying. Sometimes one wonders what the term “Thinking” means.

A lot of people seem to think there is no serious problem needing addressing. I have made it clear that the 10,000 lay led gathering idea would not be my choice. But you’d think all was well and in no need to some kind of serious engagement.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Mr Keen said “no one” is talking about having 10000 neighbours round for religious indoctrination. If he reads most of this thread, he’ll see we are. He seems to be suggesting having another Church building in his parish of 15000 will enable its mission. That might seem sensible, but is hardly innovative. I agree, Dr Seitz, all is not well.

David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

People on the thread may be talking about it, but the church of England isn’t. Unless of course you think that religious indoctrination is what CofE churches already do, but in old buildings rather than domestic dwellings. The actual proposal is about planting new churches, I don’t see anything in the Synod paper which suggests that indoctrination should be used. As for my parish, it would make more sense to have home-based congregations in the new housing estates and areas which are furthest from our church buildings, rather than spend lots of money on a new building. Having to raise… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

There’s one minor problem (that’s “minor” with heavy sarcasm, for the avoidance of doubt). It’s only worth opening new branches for your business if they generate genuine new customers or retain customers who would otherwise defect. If the sole effect is to move existing customers into a new branch, all you have done is spread your existing income over a larger costbase. Ah, I hear you say, but these new house church plant things will be free! None of that endless appeal for the church roof, no wasteful wages for the vicar, no electricity or cleaning bills! Well yes, but,… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

A really insightful analysis of the preposterous proposals.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

Fr David, we agree that the present state of affairs requires a fresh transformation. To compare the situation of a gaggle of Gafcon folk in New Zealand with the Church of England’s bona fide struggles for finding a new season is just pointless. The very person presently heading up this initiative is no oddball in a corner, but a leader in the CofE who *is also in this Gafcon footprint*. One has to understand this cultural reality and not just throw out insults and pejorative slogans. This is the present CofE, with a large evangelical (if that’s the right word)… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Thank you for interpreting the present reality in today’s CofE. I’m not sure from whence the “wiser heads” are going to emerge to help us out of an appalling mess and failure.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

I hear you. It is odd how the things prized by Anglicans outwith the CofE (BCP, historic See of Canterbury, etc) are things most resolutely under collapse inside the CofE. People not aware of this are often confused. Sunday morning in an ‘evangelical’ church looks like nothing they know, and even those who love the Packer/Stott/Lewis stuff! Forgive the short-hand, but for the most part it is accurate. A-C’s from England who worshipped at Wycliffe Toronto during the week would feel they had gone back to a former day. But then, we have to make an effort. Half of our… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

I wonder when this began to happen? When I came back from being one of the anglican students at the Venerabile in Rome I wrote in my report (spring 1980) that probably there ought to be more attention to anglican church history,doctrinal development, liturgy etc as a lot of those in colleges hadn’t got much background and were coming in from other churches. This of course was meat and drink to Prof Stephen Sykes who wrote me a letter about how my report was received. “the project of raising the profile of anglicanism in ordinands’ minds was vigorously assailed on… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

I am so sorry. What you write resonates. I have been teaching for 40 years, and have 4 generations of Anglican clergy and investment in my family, in the New World. There are deep resources in the history of post reformation Anglicanism, but history as such is a subject assailed by Whig progressivism. And then, when people sense a grand loss, and appeal to the past, it falls on a fallow (better: unknown) ground. We live in a cultural moment when scientism tells us we need some new ‘potion’ and when Jesus Christ is commodified for consumers; they look like… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

As I’ve said before, for some years now, and certainly since retirement, I’ve come to to see the CoE from the point of view of the wo/man in the street who might set foot in church at Christmas and for the occasional funeral. As Froghole has said, the church’s message – or the way it is promulgated – is simply not compelling for the vast bulk of the populace who now take their companionship, affirmation and sense of purpose from their networks and hobby groups and for whom churchgoing is merely a nerdy hobby for strange people. Myriads of new… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

I have always appreciated your candor. May your tribe increase. Frequently one just gets brick-bats from an odd corner of the AC at large.

“So in all seriousness, and I’ve said this before too, why not do nothing? Let events take their course. Let it collapse. New life will follow death if that is the Divine will for the CoE.”

That is at least a coherent view, whether one agrees or not.

I have my own position in Canon and Catholicity (2019).

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
3 months ago

At last! The voice of common sense is heard again. Letting the whole edifice collapse may be the finest solution. Who knows? Christianity may re-emerge.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

The edifice will indeed collapse, and its collapse will only be hastened by the wasting of resources on Myriad and its various correlates. Evangelicalism has been the dominant force in the Church of England for many years now and has done nothing but accelerate the decline. So many of us are fooled by a few successful megachurches- HTB etc.- little realising we are making the same survivors fallacy as Cicero’s Diagoras. Evangelical churches fail. Most church plants fail. Fresh Expressions rarely last- it’s in their nature, they soon stop being fresh. Evangelicalism has been growing as a sect within the… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Fr Andrew
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

Quite so, Fr Andrew. Thank you.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

I totally agree, Fr Andrew.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

Many thanks, Fr. Andrew. Not only have the evangelicals been in the saddle for the last generation, but whereas the magnetic pole of the Church had been a form of watery Anglo-Catholicism prior to the 1970s, it has – since the turn of this century – more often than not been a form of evangelicalism. How many churches have I seen in my travels that were formerly of another tendency, and are now effectively evangelical? A great many. The reproduction of team ministries and of multi-parish benefices has often been an effective method of amplifying evangelical predominance across much of… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

Also, the starvation of the parishes is a direct consequence of: (i) stipendiary ministry having become decreasingly affordable during the inflation of the 1960s to 1980s; and (ii) most significantly, the massive diversion of capital from the parishes to the DBFs after 1 January 1998. Synod and the Colman Commission wished to revive the fortunes of the Commissioners after the blunders of the 1980s. Synod, as usual, were mostly just the saps of the Commissioners. Like most legislators the world over, many Synod members in 1997 were easily gulled, and/or did not understand the implications of what they were voting… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

“the church of Cranmer and Laud, Pusey and Keble can muster up” — Indeed, why this legacy has declined so greatly in the land it took form — now that is a huge question. And equally, would Cranmer, Ridley and Jewel have welcomed Keble and Newman? I suspect they would have recognized Donne and Herbert. I suppose the question is, once one has created a polity under a monarch, detached all of the monastic life of the Catholic legacy, tried to situate the piety in a book, will the experiment prove unstable over time? The question has been asked and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
3 months ago

What a downer thread in the main. I’m guessing most of the commentators here are older men. Might be an idea to reflect on Erikson’s stages of life i.e., integrity versus despair..

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Guilty, my Lord. 80 in September and able to remember a very different C of E, generous in spirit and largely all-compassing. My childhood was in a traditional ‘middle of the road’ C of E parish, thriving in every way. Moving home in my teens to a very high AC parish I was introduced to that tradition, and I am equally at home in both. Later, and now for more than half of my allotted span, I have lived in the Diocese of Winchester which I am told is ‘Evangelical’ although that hasn’t especially registered. I am aware of one… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Thanks for the challenge R.W and especially for the biographical sketch. Your comment is just so interesting. It helps me get a better understanding, more of an existential feel, for where folks may be coming from on a thread like this. I have been appreciating the contributions from Stanley Monkhouse for similar reasons as well. I’m 67 and now retired, happily so, after a fulfilling vocation as a parish priest for pretty much my entire adult life–ordained deacon at 23 and a priest a few months after my 24th birthday. One of the great supports and influences in my life… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Equally, thank you for that generous response, and my apologies for a typo and, I see, quite a lot of repetition of ‘thriving’. I live in a house now over 200 years old which was originally built as the Parish Poor House, and became the Workhouse. I don’t know whether there was any equivalent in Canada: there certainly was in Ireland. The inhabitants of the Workhouse were people in various types of destitution supported by the parish in a rather grim regime and environment. Keble is known to have regularly visited the Workhouse to minister to them, bringing with him… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

Having a direct physical connection with history and heritage like that must be incredibly inspiring. John Keble is commemorated on the Canadian Anglican calendar on March 29th. The date was chosen, according to our liturgical supplement, For All the Saints, because he died on that date which apparently was Maundy Thursday that year. So an additional meaningful connection for a priest such as Keble. Inspiration can really take hold with a direct connection. The first parish I served as rector is up in the rugged highlands of northern Cape Breton–Neils Harbour. In the 19th century it was served as a… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Thank you for your link and the inspiring details of Simon Gibbons. Stories about Keble are legion, but there is some significance to the inscription on the buttress at Winchester Cathedral. Keble was once invited to preach there, but at that period, we are told, the prominent ‘party’ in the Dean and Chapter was Evangelical (this might have a contemporary ring) and Keble was never re-invited. But early in the following century his name was included among other Anglican divines each carved onto an individual buttress. It is suggested that in Keble’s case this had added symbolism as a supporter… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Rowland Wateridge
Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
3 months ago

I wrote the ODNB article on Keble. He once said that if the Church of England should fail “it will be found in my parish”. I suspect there are still other Kebles up and down the country who rather share his sentiments. But for how long?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

That quotation is fascinating, rather humbling for those who live here, and I had not heard it before. This ought to be my final Keble recollection. On my first visit to America I attended St Paul’s Episcopal church, Troy in rural Pennsylvania – 3,500 miles from home. The opening hymn was “Lift High the cross” which had been written by Dean Kitchin of Winchester specifically for a missionary service in the Cathedral (a further slightly contemporary ring), but when we came to the Gradual this was Keble’s “Bless’d are the pure in heart”.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

It’s not always helpful to be relentlessly upbeat all the time. It’s certainly never helpful to launch ad hominem attacks however diffuse. Personally I’m still a way off Erikson’s eighth stage and don’t set too much store by non-empirical psychoanalytic personality inventories.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

THANK YOU.

The idea that a 60s pop psychologist blogger–who wishes to stay off topic so as to pronounce ‘despair’ verdicts–could be useful, is hard to swallow.

I have had 25 PhD students and continue to supervise them. I am extremely optimistic about the Christian Church, find work at Wycliffe exciting, and at the same time do not believe Anglicanism will have much footprint in Canada or CofE or TEC inside of 15 years. That’s OK. It does not prevent one from diagnosing the situation so errors are not compounded.

That belongs to no “non-empirical psychoanalytic personality inventories.” Thank God.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

And I have had a considerable amount of time and professional experience dealing with clergy morale. “60s pop psychologist blogger..” You will have to come up with more orignal slings and arrows than that one–heard it all before. (I had just gone fifteen when the 60s ended by the way). As for off topic, well who would ever expect that on a comment board. lol. Demographers would agree with you, by the way, about the ACoC and the closing fifteen to twenty year window. If you are curious about how that may be impacting clergy who have put in decades… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

“It’s not always helpful to be relentlessly upbeat all the time.” I agree. Indeed it is not always possible. It wasn’t my intention to be ad hominem; but I do find the thread, as I said, to be a bit of downer. A number of the comments seem expressive of a kind of despair, in this case, with the C of E. Despair is part of the human condition. When I’ve felt that way, it prompts me to ask why, and what are the remedies or options? As I said, I wouldn’t presume to make any comments on the Myriad… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
3 months ago

It takes a certain courage for an evangelical to turn up here to be honest. I nearly wore my cricket box – something I last seriously considered doing when anticipating a highly conflicted PCC meeting. Within the TA community are a number of folk who plainly loathe all things evangelical and need no prompting to say so, and in the most prejudicial terms. So, in the best ecumenical spirit, and out of concern for the stress levels of others here, I have locked my tambourine and guitar in the cupboard, switched off the projector and PA system, put on my… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Great comment. Thanks. If the bigger picture includes death and decline, it most surely feeds into growth and fresh divine plans for good. I believe these will be a catholic ecumenicity. It will not be a simple ‘evangelical bad’/ ‘erstwhile Anglican catholic good.’ (And it most certainly won’t be clarified by inward looking ‘stages of life’ projections).

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

“No church ‘succeeds’ or ‘fails’ in a generation.” On the contrary, it can and it will. Assuming that this is a slow moving problem which can withstand measured debate because the problem is only happening slowly will result in the extinction of the Church of England. British Social Attitudes 36, 2019, p.5, my emphasis. To put it another way, religious decline in Britain is generational; people tend to be less religious than their parents, and on average their children are even less religious than they are (Voas and Chaves, 2016). Two non- religious parents successfully transmit their lack of religion.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Many thanks, as ever. I have been trying to do my own highly imperfect Voas exercise over the years: if my flawed ‘anecdote’ in now approaching ‘evidence’ I would say that near-extinction looks almost certain. Religions, or at least denominations, do sometimes die. If Anglicanism is lucky, it will be like Yezidism, Mandeanism or Zoroastrianism in Fertile Crescent or Iran: tiny residues floating upon an unsympathetic or indifferent ocean (and Zoroastrianism was, of course, the state religion under the Sassanids). I found this recent study by a prominent scholar of secularisation useful, and it underscores your views: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/british-gods-9780198854111?cc=us&lang=en&. I have… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Only by facing into facts like this can one begin to process reality as it is. TEC has also been very honest about the numerical and financial facts. Without this, one is just smiling and flying blind.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

I agree the future looks bleak Interested Observer and I have read the sociologist Steve Bruce which is pretty gloomy reading. But we do have adult baptisms/confirmations and people coming to faith at later stages of life. I suspect the C of E may also benefit from some who drop out of the various fellowships that have sprung up in the last 25+ years. Who knows some societal changes in the future may make church affiliation a bit more attractive. My anxieties lie with the fact that an increasingly fragmented C of E is pulling in many different directions at… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Interested Observer
3 months ago

Well explained, IO and Froghole. To Perry’s point, these are statistical averages which don’t contradict adult baptisms/confirmations etc—indeed those are baked into the observed overall figures. The Voas-Chaves-Crocket work provides a pretty accurate simple model for what’s going on in the population as a whole, on the average. The other thing is that there really isn’t very strong evidence that any particular initiative, or “party shift”, affects things one way or the other. Dr Seitz is exactly right: Only by facing into facts like this can one begin to process reality as it is. We should all realise this because… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
3 months ago

Many thanks, as ever, Sir Bernard. I suspect that even the figures for weekly evensongs are heavily skewed towards a few cathedrals in the usual tourist traps. However, this year even those numbers are likely to be well down. I have attended a number of cathedral evensongs this year, mostly on Sundays (but also a few Saturdays), most recently at Canterbury, Coventry, Hereford, Leicester, Wells and Worcester. The numbers were occasionally in single figures or little more than that – the choir sometimes being almost two or three times the size of the congregation. I attended evensong daily in Canterbury,… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
3 months ago

Thank you. And I agree that it has been ‘fooling ourselves’ to spend too much time avoiding the main issue to be faced.

Last edited 3 months ago by C R SEITZ
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Thank you very much indeed for this. Much as I have an active dislike of church parties (and of partisanship in general), I am grateful to the evangelical tradition for revivifying a number of churches, for its preaching tradition, and for being one part of the Church that has sometimes stemmed the tide. Indeed, having attended services at about a third of the national stock, practically the only churches which have a critical mass of attendees *and* a ‘healthier’ age distribution will be evangelical churches (several hundred of these). If those churches did not exist, the picture would be *uniformly*… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Froghole
3 months ago

One would admire the spread of evangelicalism if it had been warmly welcomed everywhere. But “imposing evangelical preferences on parishes that would have been unwilling to accept those preferences had those parishes been permitted by the authorities to retain their autonomy” doesn’t show enthusiasm. Also “The success of these few churches seriously flatters to deceive.” You have pointed out (in these quotes) that the deceptive evangelical “success” has been imposed upon us.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Evangelicalism has been part of the Church of England DNA since at least the Reformation and probably back to the 14th century and it always will be. It’s part of what makes Anglicans Anglicans. Like many, I have real theological issues with evangelicalism, but that is neither here nor there. Anglicanism without evangelicalism isn’t Anglicanism. . The problem is not evangelicalism but the prevalent belief that evangelicalism, is ‘the answer’ to church decline. It patently is not, but the following equation seems to be running everywhere in C of E planners: “Most of the busy, lively, young churches are Evangelical… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Fr Andrew
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

Can I please point out (as has often been done, but apparently to no avail) that Alpha/HTB is charismatic, not mainstream evangelical.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr Andrew
3 months ago

Slimelight is great. Friendly crowd, and people know each other. I danced the night away there on my 60th birthday. Hope I can do the same when I am 70. It’s kind of hybrid Goth/Industrial. Admittedly older than average followers, but appeals to people of all ages. It just has a really positive atmosphere and vibe. Recommended.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Where to start… firstly with God. God is not over. Christian faith is not over either. And for vision of what may lie ahead, I think there are images in Isaiah which point to how springs may break out in what seems like desert. Or, as Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within them”, and John explains ‘by this He meant the Spirit’. God does not limit spiritual renewal to just one part of the Church. I’ve witnessed Spirit and grace in many different churches: the charismatic house church which took me in… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

A totally sensible analysis of the reasons why most people feel totally removed from today’s Church. During an age when sensible, educated people reject the “authority” of ancient writings over their lives, the Church decides that an evangelical view that has “unravelled” is the best way of winning them back! People are not responding to the Old Old Story. We need to reinterpret a new one.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

Given your comment, you and perhaps Susannah Clark may be interested in the hermeneutical approach of Walter Brueggemann. I’ve attached a link to the Brueggemann column at the churchanew blog (St. Andrew’s Lutheran, USA). Sampling is the best type of introduction. Scroll down to read his columns with interpretation of the prophets and psalms which is his area of expertise. Clicking on his photo at the top of the page will provide his professional bio. He is writing for an American audience in this instance. So reading from Canada, I sometimes have to make adjustments for social context–but quite interesting… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 months ago

Interesting where he has ended up (MN). He’s on the German reformed side of the now UCC. Taught at a seminary in GA and wrote 100s of books. Divorced his wife after a very long marriage (she is the twin sister of Pat Miller of Princeton). Very popular post modernist. Now nearly 90. A former co-editor with me. God bless him.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

I think what you describe has a uniquely modernist, anglican/english cultural reality. Empiricism and Scottish realism. English Deism was what birthed much of subsequent German rationalist scholarship (see Reventlow’s fine analysis, The Bible in the Modern World; or Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, Yale 1972). When one reads of the love of scripture in the works of Donne and Herbert, the first question that arises is, ‘what happened?’ ‘Where did this fine appreciation go?’ Of the many serious students of scripture I have taught at Yale, St Andrews and Toronto, going on 40 years, only a handful have been… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Dr Seitz, I believe Isaiah was indeed deeply engaged, through encounter with God, and if you want to use the word ‘wise’ then I can go with that. His/their words convey awareness of spiritual realities. So yes, I find much of Isaiah’s writing inspiring, in ways that help me open up to God in my own encounters. That can all happen in the context of an ‘author’ who was a fallible human being with limits to knowledge, struggling to find words to convey the ‘openings’ of awareness he has experienced. Do you suppose that, just because I view scripture as… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Susannah Clark
C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Susannah Clark
3 months ago

I’m not sure you read my note, or understood it. You are still plugged chiefly into your own language and categories. You will search in vain in my note for your ‘infallibility,’ ‘inspired word for word,’ ‘Noah’s Ark,’ ‘man-man sex’ and on it goes. Donne’s sermons are sheer distillations of learning, rhetorical power, and exegetical acuity. (And btw, most pre-moderns knew the difference between facticity and metaphor and other ranges of sense-making).

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

https://livingchurch.org/covenant/2021/06/24/oh-book-part-one-scripture-as-beloved/

Toronto PhD student working on Donne’s sermons. A genre much neglected vis-a-vis Donne in the English Department…

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

This is an inspiring and beautiful article by a Canadian student, Dr Seitz. However I fail to see how an expression of spiritual love and embrace of Holy Scripture invalidates any of Susannah’s arguments you seem to repudiate.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  FrDavidH
3 months ago

I wasn’t trying to repudiate a modernist view of scripture I do not regard as central to the church’s long tradition. It is specious and ought to be regarded as such. Peace be on your house.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

My view of scripture is ‘specious’? Well that’s me told!

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  C R SEITZ
3 months ago

Interesting that when it came to possibly reprinting Donne’s sermons in the more polarised climate of the mid 19c neither the Parker Society nor the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology wanted to have him.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

Indeed. Thank you.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

I think this has been a great thread, drilling down with civility, in the main, into the DNA of the C of E and why some things build up and some things tear down our sense of calling and mission. My own view is that the parish based C of E evangelicalism of the mid 20th century drifted into a lazy adoption of free church evangelicalism. Free church evangelicalism is a good thing, but does not map easily onto the parochial, liturgical and sacramental nature of the C of E. Evangelicals need to fall in love with Anglicanism in order… Read more »

Gerald Beauchamp
Gerald Beauchamp
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Having been born in South London in the mid-1950s and ordained in Southwark Cathedral in the early ’80s, I disagree that Southbank theology should be consigned to history. It was an exciting time to be in the church as parishes grappled with fundamental issues of faith and how they worked out on the ground. Yes, there were experiments that didn’t go well and some of it now looks dated but the spirit of engagement with modernity that for me characterises Southbank theology shouldn’t be ditched. It’s more attractive than the current zeitgeist of Christians spending their time firing salvos at… Read more »

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Gerald Beauchamp
3 months ago

John Robinson sparked a theological discussion in society not seen again until David Jenkins provoked a renewed interest in religion among ordinary folks. Since then the CofE has promoted a “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam” message somewhat meaningless outside Messy Church. We need more Bishops like Robinson, Jenkins and Holloway to teach a gospel for grown-ups.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
3 months ago

Stephen, I too am valuing these exchanges (in the main). Just a brief response to you here. Evangelicalism was still scarcely visible as part of the mainstream CofE in ‘the mid C20’. So there was no ‘parish based CofE evangelicalism’. And ‘lazy’ would never be a word I would use of this fervent and committed tradition. It really only began to emerge as part of the wider CofE in the early 60’s, having lived in despised isolation from the early C20. Their clergy were never appointed to the larger churches and they had virtually no episcopal leaders. Not surprisingly there… Read more »

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