Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 20 June 2020

Peter Anthony All Things Lawful And Honest Is there a Doctor in the House?

Peter Crumpler Christian Today When Christ stood in Trafalgar Square

K Augustine Tanner-Ihm Church Times Black lives really do matter
“But does the Church really believe this”

Ian Paul Psephizo The end of the road for C of E growth strategies?

Gavin Collins ViaMedia.News We Can’t Go Back…to Silence for the Sake of Unity

Stephen Stavrou All Things Lawful And Honest Erasing the Saints

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Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
5 months ago

A very interesting article by Archdeacon Gavin. This mirrors certain things that have been part of my own faith journey as well as personal family history. I am of mixed race myself. My late Father, Khalil Jamal was an Anglican Priest and a Palestinian Arab, my late mother was English and I am Scots born and English educated. Although I was brought up in the Anglican tradition, going back many generations back on my father’s side of the family in the Holy Land, we came from a very ancient Christian family and have been Christians right back to apostolic times,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

On the face of it , Ian Paul is talking a lot of sense; however, on closer inspection I think he is overlooking the central issue. Firstly a giving target of 5% across the board is regressive. Even income tax comes with a tax free band. 5% for someone finding it impossible to feed their children is an Everest. (The flat rate admission fees charged by some cathedrals are even more iniquitous.) That the Church feels comfortable asking for 5% from everyone shows how it is once again coming from a middle class perspective. Secondly, Ian seems to be seeing… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I don’t think the gospels could be any clearer that building an equitable paradise here on earth is not the mission of the Church. It is to proclaim the good news that Jesus died to take our sins away and save us from judgement, and that this gift of grace is freely available to all who repent, believe and are baptised. Certainly if the way we treat others is a source of sin, then it must be remedied through repentance and a change of life. One can be at the forefront of every worthy cause out there in the belief… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

I hear theological alarm bells ringing very loud here! This can have echoes of the Heresy of Doecetus and what we can be hearing here is a docetic christology that emphasizes the Divinity of Jesus to the exclusion of his humanity and it can be easily be a denial of the incarnation. If Jesus was simply interested in his earthly ministry in simply saving souls from Hell, by continually preaching Judgement and Hell, he would have exclusively concentrated on that and would not have performed any miracles involving the Healing of bodies and we would have an incomplete and not… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

That’s one take on it, although your eschatology is premised on a straitened and strained reading of Scripture. An incarnational faith would ask, what of the kingdom of God as the operating principle of the Gospel, of this world as the locus of our salvation?

Thomas G. Reilly
Thomas G. Reilly
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

I was very saddened to read your post, as it puts us back into the dualistic world that Jesus is taking us out of. I thought that Jesus’ message was to proclaim the kingdom of God, here present among us now, not just at the end of time. And that kingdom requires that we work with Jesus to establish justice and peace, which is God’s plan for all God’s children. That is what Jesus is signalling in his picture of the Last Judgement. Sin is a failure to love, and to hide behind the so-called reality. I wonder if that… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

You would seriously rather a church which believes how much it spends determines how fast it will grow? We should be standing with BLM (to take one example) not because it is a ‘bandwagon’ but because we love those who are being mistreated, our neighbours. Yes, our love of God should always be front and centre, but if we don’t ache at the pain God suffers when his children suffer, do we really love him? If we don’t stand with the oppressed, can we really be said to be loving them? The Good News that we are saved is precious.… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Indeed, we should care about the plight of those who suffer, hence why I challenged the motivation of our bishops to support Black Lives Matter (and whether you think it’s a worthy cause or a Marxist plot, it IS a trendy cause at the moment) while at the same time having absolutely nothing to say about the persecution of usually black Christians, especially in Nigeria. For some reason this isn’t worthy of their attention. Why? I suspect because it doesn’t impress the media. As to the Incarnation, as a couple of people have mentioned, I don’t see how my comments… Read more »

ACI
ACI
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

I also wonder about a spiritual vs material divide, underlined in responses to you. The world to come, thy kingdom come, is finally more concrete and real than the world passing away. It is a New Heavens and a New Earth. CS Lewis spoke of blades of grass that were so fine and perfect they could wound. I fear appeal to ‘the incarnation’ made by 20th century anglicans (popularized in the wake of Schleiermacher by FD Maurice) lacks sufficient philosophical or theological coherence.

Jo B
Jo B
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

I think you’ll find the ABC, at least, does frequently refer to the persecution of Christians in Nigeria, albeit as an excuse for his continuing support for the oppression of LGBT folk.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

“None of this means the Church should prioritise the alleviation of suffering now over the need to bring people to faith, since to do so is merely to make people more comfortable until the terrible day of judgement- and, in the long term, what’s the point in that?”

Christ fed the 5000 so that they could stay to listen to his preaching. So, even if you don’t think we should help people out of love, if their suffering is stopping them from listening to the Good News then they need help for that reason too.

David Exham
David Exham
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate, I think your biblical exegesis is not entirely secure! Read the account in Matthew’s gospel again. The crowd follow Jesus and he heals them. No mention of preaching. At the end of the day he has compassion on them because they are hungry, and he feeds them. He then dismisses the crowd and goes up the mountain to pray. There is no suggestion that he feeds them in order to get them to stay to listen to his preaching. I personally believe that Jesus helped people because of his loving compassion for them—and for us all. I agree with… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Wrong I’m afraid Kate, Christ fed the 5,000 to demonstrate that he is the true Bread from heaven, the fulfilment of the Exodus story of the Manna that sustained God’s people through the wilderness until they reached the promised land. This is the whole theme of John 6.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
5 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

 “especially if it’s unpopular in secular society.” This division between sacred and secular has gone in the incarnation. That was what God became human to do away with. C S Lewis might talk about blades of grass so fine and perfect they would wound but that’s simply an image of his own making. I appreciate that words have to be used to try and describe but they are limited and might be helpful to us rather than being descriptive of God or any future life. Some no doubt love to hold on the the divide between sacred and secular because… Read more »

J Kirby
J Kirby
4 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Godsall

I use the sacred/secular terms without hesitation. The incarnation does not do away with the distinction between those who are in Christ and those who are not; those who believe and those who don’t; baptised and unbaptised. It is a decision that must be made, otherwise you fall into a universalist heresy in which faith, doctrine, evangelism and indeed the whole notion of the Church becomes irrelevant. It is clear to me that where the sacred/secular divide is not recognised, the sacred always becomes secularised, never the other way round. Just look around you.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
4 months ago
Reply to  J Kirby

I’m looking around…..nope, I’m afraid I don’t see it. All I see is the secular infused with the sacred. Since Easter, heaven is wedded to earth. I think you love the distinction simply because it enables you to say who is in and who is out. The cross/resurrection did away with that divide too. Whilst some might find it uncomfortable sharing the kingdom with tax collectors and sinners, we are told that is the reality.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

I had intended to say a lot about the Tanner-Ihm piece: I even had it written; but I was missing the main point. As a Christian so too is Tanner-Ihm. I often say to myself, “If I do X will it make God happy or sad?” In truth,I should do it much more frequently. So if people are righteously so angry at social injustice that they are protesting or even rioting, how do we think the Great Judge feels about the society which treats people that way? Black people. The poor. Trans people. The disabled. The mentally ill. The …… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

Dr Paul’s article, like the recent Church Times piece (see TA 3 June 2020) by Giles, Sadler and Warren, comes from the pen of someone who according to Crockford knows about ministry to the wealthy suburban and gathered church, but little or nothing of UPA, market town or rural ministry. For various reasons, his recipe simply won’t work in those contexts: Kate has explored some. It is as if Dr Paul’s vision of church has something in common with a totalitarian party in which people are taught to think correctly, opine correctly, give correctly, and are watched and monitored. The… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
5 months ago

He notes (evidently with regret): “the Church of England nationally has never consistently reached its giving target of 5% of net income of those attending“.   Well, it should come as little surprise that the laity are decreasingly likely to step up to the plate when even large sections of the middle classes are tumbling into the precariat and/or are faced with the prospect of an impoverished retirement. This is our political economy: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/straub/files/mss_richsavingglut.pdf. The Church needs to take note and join the dots.   The notion that anyone bar a small cadre of DB pensioners and the wealthy (whose… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole, yes, yes, yes! Your last paragraph, sadly true, is indicative of how none of the decision making bodies is representative of the people on the ground – so many members of the Supreme Soviet live in la-la land. The most scandalous thing of all is the way in which they feather their own nests – for example, enhanced episcopal pensions, as you say already perilously generous, being backdated to the year of their deaconing.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole, I know you have visited thousands of Anglican churches but perhaps you should also visit some Baptist, Pentecostal and independent churches. You will find that giving levels of 5-10% are common with the result that many churches with small congregations can afford ministers.
 
You are absolutely right about the C of E spending too much on stipends and pensions but too many Anglican priests refuse to teach stewardship and personal responsibility and will not challenge a culture of putting small change in the offering.

Froghole
Froghole
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Many thanks, and point taken. I have visited a certain number of URC, Methodist, Baptist and independent churches (indeed, I have been very highly impressed by the quality of preaching at some independent churches). I am aware that tithing is not uncommon. I also understand that tithing is much more common across a number of denominations in the US than in the UK.   The point I was making is that the economic margin of error for a very large section of the population is now perilously thin. The plea for higher subventions is inevitably directed at secure middle class… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

“The plea for higher subventions is inevitably directed at secure middle class attendees, who will expect to get what they pay for (i.e., clergy in their image).”

This is one of the strongest arguments against stipendiary ministers – those who contribute the most are likely to have a certain sense of ownership in terms of what ‘their’ minister does, and the type of person who should be selected. Worse, it can leave a stipendiary beholden to a particular group if they know that failure to please that group might see their position defunded.

T Pott
T Pott
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Members of private denominations and independent churches may give more generously because they can see what the money is spent on and they, or likeminded people they know, have control over it.They give to their church, rather than to their denomination. The parish share system in the C of E largely precludes this, and centralising all funds would only make it worse. Few want to give, or leave, money to “the Church of England” in general. They may do to their own parish churches, or specific objectives, but if this is made even more difficult, or impossible, they will not… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
5 months ago
Reply to  T Pott

Could you explain “excluded by baptism policies” please.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  T Pott

The point about eg Baptist churches being individual financial entities with stronger giving because people can see where their money is going is a very important one. I would add that a lot of the management is also done by volunteers not paid staff.

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Froghole, you ask “there is the question, what is the 5% *for*?”   What is the USP? A club class seat in the afterlife? I don’t think this works now because most people (uchurched, dechurched) don’t believe in the kind of judgment that might result in their being in everlasting steerage. They might, I repeat might, believe in some sort of afterlife in which they are reunited with their loved ones and pets, but the days of the church extorting money for Nectar points in a celestial supermarket are long gone. Is it for the companionship and mutual support that… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
5 months ago

Good Afternoon Stanley! What you have written here, reminds me about the time when I was many years ago a Monk at the Monastery of the Transfiguration at Roslin (an Ecumenical Monastic Community) our Founder Monk, the late Father Roland Walls, who started as a Priest in the Anglican Tradition and after he became a Roman Catholic, was re-ordained to minister in our Community as a Roman Catholic Priest-Monk. The late Father Roland as an Anglican Priest had been involved in the training of both Anglican Priests and Church of Scotland Presbyterian Ministers, the first, when he ran an experimental… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal

AH, I remember him. Did a retreat for us once, fascinating bloke!

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
5 months ago

Preaching should be taken on only by those well enough educated so as not to embarrass the reasonably intelligent in the congregation, should there be any left.”
 
The biggest problem I had with the last rector in our parish here in the USA was that I felt he was talking over the heads of most of the congregation–not because they were not “reasonably intelligent” but because his background led him to using quotations from obscure philosophers and unfamiliar books. There’s more to good preaching than erudition.


Jo B
Jo B
5 months ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Having listened to visiting preachers make basic errors of fact and confuse pious legends with the Bible I’m largely convinced that Stanley Monkhouse’s recommendation is a good one.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

At the moment 100% of my financial giving is in kind to the local food bank. That way I can be pretty certain 100% reaches people in need. I doubt I will ever again give cash (PayPal whatever) to any charity because of the risk that a significant portion may be taken to pay for admin, marketing etc. Similarly I can’t see I will give cash in a collection plate in future. If the Church starts asking for potatoes to feed the minister and his/her family I happy to oblige. I think the Church needs to rethink the link between… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Now of course, the warped and twisted among us (raises hand) could represent that as a means of ‘control’ wrapped up in apparent high-mindedness, that is the oppression of the have-nots by denying them the choice which the ‘Haves’ possess.
 
It paraphrases as ‘I can spend on what I like, but you, O recipient of my charity, shall have what I decide you need to ensure you don’t spend on unnecessary frivolities.’ 😉
 
What a jolly game this could become….

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  David Rowett

Au contraire. Most food banks advertise what they most need.

Couples do it all the time with wedding lists. Why can’t a parish publish a similar list each week/ month of what is needed so that things can get ticked off as donated?

Jo B
Jo B
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I seem to recall hearing that this was not uncommon in RC churches e.g. “the heating bill for the church has come in so there will now be a collection to cover that”.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
5 months ago

From a gloriously untidy and ragged part of the vineyard; Amen Stanley

Graeme

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
5 months ago

Radical thoughts. What are clergy for? What are stipendiary clergy for? What is ‘the church’ for? What are stats for? Stipendiary clergy stifle growth- parishioners can feel good without having to do much themselves. Suggestions- NSM/SSM should be entrusted to ‘facilitate’ the meeting of local needs where they are. Large ‘successful’ churches/ gatherings/ ‘worship communities’ should be well enough able to identify and attend to their own developmental/ spiritual needs. Net givers. Poor/ deprived parishes NEED stipendiary clergy- stipends and accommodation should support and free clergy to ‘do the job’ serving the whole parish. All free-will offerings should be available… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
5 months ago

What’s the evidence for stipendiary clergy stifling growth? Just asking….

Froghole
Froghole
5 months ago
Reply to  David Rowett

I guess the fact then when there were many more stipendiaries than there are now attendance was still in remorseless decline.   Or, to put it another way, did the presence of many more paid clergy lead to growth?   Unfortunately, it didn’t. Decline has been rapid with or without stipendiaries.   See, for instance, the analysis by Michael Moynagh of the Urban Church Project in the 1970s, here (at p. 79): https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=UaTtp4lRE4kC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false   Of course, it may be argued that the stipendiaries of the 1970s weren’t the right *kind* of stipendiaries, and that the current cadre are “much better”… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Sorry, the first paragraph was complete gibberish. I meant to write that:
 
Decline in attendance was no less remorseless when there were many more stipendiaries than there are now.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Also ref David Rowett- CofE Ministry Stats 2019 (parallel TA thread) and CofE Mission Stats 2018.   Usual Sunday Attendance (USA) 2013 844,600; stipendiary clergy 8120 = 104.02 each; 2018: USA 729,700; ‘loss’ of 114,900 = 13.6% down; stipendiary clergy 7,700 (loss of 420= 8.9% down) = 94.77 each; 8.9% ‘productivity loss’ over 5 years.   A ‘straight line’ projection gives USA of 0 in 32 years time.   USA for 2018 of 844,600 is 1.3% of the population. No figures on what that was in 2013, or 1913 or 1963 …   USA for 2018 of 0.8% of populations… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Froghole

Quite apart from the stipend, I don’t think most parishioners care whether their minister is ordained or not. I think ordination matters primarily to the ordained.

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think you’re right, Kate, for all but the most “catholic” minded parishioners. I’m reminded of Alan Bennett’s “Bed among the lentils” where the vicar’s wife says about church services “I’m quite happy if they’re taken by a trained gorilla”. My prediction is that lay presidency will creep in, and in a way is already with us – with Holy Communion administered in some care homes and some hospitals by lay people using stale wafers consecrated God only knows when – if at all. I know of one church where at the early Communion unconsecrated wafers are sometimes handed out by… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Froghole
Froghole
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Many thanks, Kate. I think that there is a great deal of truth in your remarks. What most attendees want is worship that is conducted decently and with sincerity. Whether it is undertaken by a stipendiary, an SSM, a retiree, a reader, a pastoral assistant, a youth worker or a churchwarden, is almost neither here nor there.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think, Kate, you are referring to happy clappy churches where people aren’t bothered about which trendy person leads the meetings. But that’s not Anglican, is it?

american piskie
american piskie
5 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Not Anglican, Fr, but perhaps C of E?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
4 months ago

You may be right. More’s the pity.

Jayne Ozanne
Jayne Ozanne
5 months ago

You may also want to read/listen to his blog & podcast on Via Media last week
https://viamedia.news/2020/06/16/blacklivesmatter-living-between-malcolm-x-and-uncle-tom/

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