Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 August 2020

Interview by Benjamin Wayman for Christianity Today
Rowan Williams: Theological Education Is for Everyone
“To do theology is to rediscover the strangeness of the Christian framework.”

Anna And Noah Sutterisch Earth & Altar Becoming Humble Skeptics: Rejecting Anglican Identity

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Thinking about bullying in the Church

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Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
29 days ago

I found Anna and Noah’s piece intriguing and it makes me want to ask them, as Anglicans from North America, what they make of the ACNA. They write: “Being an Anglican means we have the responsibility to discover and discern what it means to be in relationship with ourselves, with each other, with human and non-human creation, and with God.“ In the light of this, why do some people who have deliberately broken away from Anglicans already there in North America want to still call themselves Anglican and expressly NOT be in relationship with others. For me, the ACNA is… Read more »

Paul Waddington
Paul Waddington
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Godsall

There is one thing that typifies ACNA as Anglican. That is that it is a break away faction. It all started with Henry VIII breaking away, and the process continues to this day.

John Wall
John Wall
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Godsall

I can’t speak for Anna and Noah, but I am an Anglican from North America, and I can say that one’s understanding of the identity of the ACNA folks as Anglican or not depends a good bit on where one stands in relationship to the ACNA. As an Episcopalian, I know the history of why the Episcopal Church is not named the Anglican Church in the USA (because, when it was organized after the American Revolution, it chose a name to express its independence of the English crown).I wish the Episcopal Church had had the good sense to copyright the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
28 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Godsall

I have to agree with you, Andrew. For ACNA people to claim to be ‘Anglican’ simply because of their relationship to the GAFCON sodality is to claim that GAFCON supporters are actually themselves Anglican. This would give credence to the spurious claims of the GAFCON/FOCA people that they are Anglican – when their primary objective seems to be to distance themselves from Canterbury and Lambeth! How can this be truly Anglican?

Last edited 28 days ago by Father Ron Smith
Stanley Monkhouse
27 days ago

The discussion of who is, and who is not, entitled to call themselves Anglican reveals those who like to erect fences and say “you’re in” and “you’re out”. AFAIK there is no definition of Anglican. Identity used to be through the common liturgy of the BCP. That’s gone. Has there ever been a common identifying factor? Have people forgotten the disputed consecration of Matthew Parker in 1559 and the visual manifestation of the disputes in the vesture of the consecrators? http://anglicanhistory.org/orders/orders1.html (Please, no more perseveration of Episcopal robes or even of lockdown consecrations in Lambeth – enough already).  Given that… Read more »

ACI
ACI
27 days ago

I also agree. At this point in time ‘anglican’ is so porous as to be virtually open to all bidders. And for many that is exactly the winning feature and not a bug. It may also be that with the rise of covid and lack of Sunday worship as usual; changed demographic circumstances (the widely noted diversity within the CofE); emergence of blocs like the Global South, largely congenial vis-a-vis historic structures; challenges facing the ABC incumbent (see TA on a daily basis); general decline in the Western provinces of the AC, some of this quite dramatic; and the late-modern… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
29 days ago

Benjamin Wayman: “As you reflect on your life’s work, what brings you the most joy?”

+Rowan: “I suppose the privilege of doing what I’m doing next Sunday: celebrating the Eucharist and preaching to a little congregation. That is to me the most simply joyful thing that I ever get to do. I’d like to think that, if I’d done nothing else, pastoring would still have been worthwhile.”

What a wonderful, humble and encouraging answer from the finest priest of his generation.

Kate
Kate
29 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I agree Allan. IMHO it is also much better mission than the types of behaviour we see from HTB churches.

Last edited 29 days ago by Kate
ACI
ACI
29 days ago

US Episcopalians may reflexively think (as apparently this person does) that the average CofE person’s orientation is “Anglican” as in an “Anglican Communion.” From the outside they think of the ABC as the “head” of an Anglican Communion and assume this is a primary orientation of parishioners as well, all the way down. So they are writing that they have been disabused of this, through simple encounter with reality on the ground. In one quadrant of the present CofE, moreover, they have learned that a lot of CofE worshipers don’t even find a point of orientation in ‘denominated’ CofE at… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
29 days ago

Re: Stephen Parsons on Bullying.

I would consider the conduct of a ‘rogue element’ within the Church hierarchy as Beyond Bullying.

There has been, and continues to be, an abuse of power which is mind-boggling in its scale and intensity – and in which a consortium of Church lawyers, insurance companies and PR corporates have been turning safeguarding cases into a ‘cottage industry’ of their own.

Last edited 29 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
Nigel LLoyd
Nigel LLoyd
29 days ago

In 2008, at a lunchtime fringe meeting of General Synod in London, I attended the launch of DIGNITY AT WORK, a report on bullying, published by the Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council. The meeting was chaired by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, who introduced Anne Lee (an academic from Oxford) who was to make the presentation. “Luckily”, the bishop said, “such bullying is rare in the Church of England”. “On the contrary”, Mrs Lee replied, “bullying is rife in the Church of England”.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
28 days ago
Reply to  Nigel LLoyd

Yes, sadly bullying is rife. In fact, I have known bishops who considered that a bullying management style is more effective than collaborative working – both in senior clergy and in parish priests.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
28 days ago
Reply to  Nigel LLoyd

“DIGNITY AT WORK – Working together to reduce incidents of bullying and harassment” – Copyright The Archbishops’ Council 2008 – makes for interesting reading, but it was written for Dioceses [not the Archbishops’ Council]. That is a pity as the Council would have benefited from reading it – and acting upon it – 12 years ago.Too late now methinks. The Booklet’s Foreword was written by “+John Ripon and Leeds” – perhaps the same Bishop of Ripon and Leeds who said to its co-author Anne Lee at General Synod [2010?]: “Luckily, such bullying is rare in the Church of England”? Annex… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Richard W. Symonds
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
29 days ago

Recently reading “Stories we tell Ourselves” by Richard Holloway, it strikes me that the wide parameters involved in being an Anglican are the same as our definitions of God which are simply projections of ourselves. Being ‘Anglican’ can mean what I want it to mean. So too when I look to see what God is up to – if I like what I see, it must be because of Him/Her. Anna and Noah have discovered as wide a definition of the CofE as there are concepts of God .e. g. If my God hates homosexuals, I can find co-religionists who… Read more »

ACI
ACI
29 days ago

I should have added. Because of the fifty-boats phenomenon (US denominationalism), US Episcopalians are far more “people of a single 1979 BCP” than English counterparts. This is an identity marker. (Even as at present this is changing in the US, too).

So TEC people visiting a parish in the CofE are often surprised by the wide diversity in liturgy, dress, order of Sunday worship, and so forth. Clearly the authors of this essay were not aware of the difference.

Richard
Richard
28 days ago
Reply to  ACI

In the US there are a multitude of choices when it comes to church. If you’re not happy with one small aspect of liturgy (no Collect for Purity) or administration (plastic flowers on the altar) in your parish, there’s another denomination down the street that you might find more pleasing. That church might even call itself Episcopal or Anglican, but might not be part of TEC or the Anglican Communion. (See the Yellow Pages listings under churches.) In the UK, the CofE is a big tent. Sundays can be counted as in Ordinary Time, after Pentecost or after Trinity. The… Read more »

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Richard

“The diversity found among denominations in the US is found within the CofE in the UK.” Surely not all the diversity! Seventh Day Adventists, Latter Day Saints, Missouri Synod Lutherans, all the tribes of Reformed squabbles, Disciples of Christ, The Potter’s House and Joel Osteen, etc. And the CofE has some internal diversities unknown in the USA.

If the CofE had all the diversities, moreover, surely there would be no other church bodies in the UK at all, and there are, as noted in this thread.

That said, I agree the authors don’t seem very aware of the CofE.

John N Wall
John N Wall
29 days ago

I think the Sutterischs were surprised by the diversity of parish life in the CofE. Episcopalians who go to England tend to expect things to be much like home, except grander and older and, perhaps, better. The Episcopal Church has real diversity but in a narrower range of liturgical styles. We — especially since the adoption of BCP 1979 — are much more uniformly moderately high church — Eucharist as the main service on Sundays, observance of Holy Week rites, use of eucharistic vestments — than one may find in the UK. Also, the CofE is much, much more influenced… Read more »

ACI
ACI
29 days ago
Reply to  John N Wall

You are correct that there is an evangelical wing, represented by academic institutions, assemblies, leading lights etc in the CofE. That wing no longer exists in TEC. It once did. For that, now, one leaves for other boats in the US denominational sea. A short 100 page book could spell this out but I doubt anyone is much interested. The more burning question is whether a church like TEC will survive into the next decades, given demographics, aging congregations, and serious decline. The CofE has its own version, with different forces in play. Apparently some think the antidote is encouraging… Read more »

Paul
Paul
28 days ago
Reply to  ACI

Is there any reliable information about the demographics of TEC? In England we have the British social Attitudes survey, which indicates that, whist 12% of the population associate themselves with the C of E, only 1% of 18 to 24 year olds do. This is alarming.

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Statistics for TEC are extremely reliable, and reliably reported, by those in charge, province by province. As a part of a wider and much, much larger general Christian reality, one probably must extrapolate. Baptists and Catholics have always been the dominant groups. Methodists (of all stripe) maybe 4-5 times as large as TEC. Evangelicals (of tribes without number) are far and away much larger. As for age/size in TEC itself, I believe the average congregation is 55-60 and age a bit higher. So serious questions of survival — except for the exceptions. There are some sizable congregations with younger members.… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
28 days ago
Reply to  Paul

‘Attitudes’ to CofE: Alarming-yes; but hardly surprising. Is Rome burning?

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Found this for 2014 — add 6 years.

“A large majority (73%) of Episcopal congregations report that more than half of their members are age 50+. 27% of Episcopal congregations report that more than half of their members are age 65 or older.”

and

“Over half of Episcopal congregations (58%) are small, family-sized congregations where average worship attendance is 75 persons or less (2013 Parochial Report data). Pastoral-sized congregations make up the next largest proportion of parishes and missions (19%). Corporate-sized congregations with 351 or more in worship represent only 3% of Episcopal congregations.”

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
27 days ago
Reply to  ACI

And, quite frankly, as an Episcopalian who spent his formative years in a huge Roman Catholic parish, if I found myself in a “corporate-sized” congregation, I would leave. I value the ability to know everyone in my “pastoral-sized” parish and to know the rector (even our new one who has been here only eight months) knows me (and most others) by face and by name.

If numbers were all that mattered in successful Christianity, why would we all not gravitate to some mega-church?

ACI
ACI
27 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

Mr. O’Neill, I was offering no view, though I have one. Paul asked a question. I answered him.

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
27 days ago
Reply to  ACI

I wasn’t suggesting you did, ACI. I merely offered my own view on the relative worth of the various “sizes” of congregations. BTW, my “pastoral-sized” parish has a good-sized, active group of young people, ranging in age from grade school to college. Perhaps the presence of a young, active youth minister, and a relatively young, savvy rector have something to do with that.

ACI
ACI
27 days ago
Reply to  Pat O'Neill

I was puzzled as it was addressed to me, for some reason. I believe the larger topic is not so much about personal preferences–we all have them–so much as about the survival of churches now aging and, in the case of the CofE, with so few attending at all. Here the statistics are quite sobering, for both entities.

Froghole
Froghole
28 days ago
Reply to  ACI

ACI: Further to Paul’s comment, here is the latest BSA report: https://www.bsa.natcen.ac.uk/media/39293/1_bsa36_religion.pdf (one of the co-authors, David Voas, has written extensively on Anglican affiliation in England: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/from_anecdote_to_evidence_-_the_report.pdf, but see also here: https://europe.anglican.org/downloads/website%20upload%20downloads/from-delusion-to-reality.pdf). The reference to the 1% is on p. 6. Paul uses the phrase ‘associate with’, but this may not be quite correct, as the word ‘associate’ imputes some form of commitment. The report refers instead to ‘identification’, which in almost all cases will mean little or nothing at all. Therefore, it is likely that only a fraction of the 1% to which Paul refers will actually attend Anglican… Read more »

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thank you, Froghole. I hope all will agree that it very important to try to understand just where things are, and not evade the hard realities. I have served in ‘anglican’ contexts in Scotland, Canada, Germany (TEC convocation), and France (CofE), as well as the USA. We are at a pivotal moment. Contexts vary, but the challenges are real and in some cases daunting.

ACI
ACI
29 days ago

Thank you. I fear that my saying that would be met by rebuke. But you have earned your liberal bona fides in this TA context.

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  ACI

Oh, I meant it in the most general of terms. Thanks for the bio, all the same.

David Rowett
David Rowett
27 days ago
Reply to  ACI

REB – a much-underrated translation, essentially the NEB stripped of ‘Driverisms’.

And it is a strange position to occupy these days, that of being insufficiently liberal for some, insufficiently conservative for others, and generally being regarded as something of a fifth-columnist, of being insufficiently uncompromised by those with a more monolithic identity. And Polkinghorne is a very good read!

Froghole
Froghole
27 days ago
Reply to  David Rowett

A biography of Driver by the late John Emerton: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/documents/1168/63p345.pdf,and his ‘Semitic Writing from Pictograph to Alphabet’ (1944) was reprinted by OUP a few years ago (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/semitic-writing-9780197259177?lang=es&cc=za#).

Unfortunately, the British Academy biography of his arguably still more distinguished father, Samuel Rolles Driver, is not available online.

ACI
ACI
27 days ago
Reply to  David Rowett

The best places to see GR Driver at his distinctive best are places where hapax legomona reign. See his descriptions of the costumes worn by Babylonian courtiers (in Daniel) or musical instruments in the same book (aramaic words without obvious Hebrew cognates). He was also notable for thinking that flatulence was being hidden in translations.

David Rowett
David Rowett
26 days ago
Reply to  ACI

‘Ruah elohim’ – well there’s a novel exegesis:-)

David Rowett
David Rowett
26 days ago
Reply to  David Rowett

Thanks for the link, something for Anglicans to ponder, I suspect. And yes, though the NEB was the ‘go-to’ translation in the 70’s (the range was limited at the time in away now unimaginable) we were advised to back it up with the RV simply because of Driver’s entertaining hypotheses – including, I believe, the list of musical instruments in the Palm Court Orchestra in Daniel, into which during one college evening prayer I seem to recall someone interpolating ‘electric organ’. IIRC, he also had a strange take on a word in Isaiah which, by linking it with the Akkadian… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
26 days ago
Reply to  David Rowett

At the risk of going off-piste with nostalgia, I was able to pick up a second-hand deaconing NT in Hay last year. Presented in the mid-60’s, it was the Greek text. I recall my tutor, when I was choosing my options and was undecided between liturgy and Syriac, saying to me, ‘Well, if you learn Syriac now you’ll be so much better equipped for studying liturgy later.’ Perhaps the downside of all that was that I’m completely ignorant of anything that happened after the death of Leo the Great. Someone told me the other day about something called ‘The Reformation.’… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
29 days ago

The 50 boats phenomenon is now an established part of the British scene now ACI. Here in Canterbury we have besides the cathedral and some 7 parish churches ( one charismatic evangelical which attracts from a wide radius) , the usual Free Churches (Methodist, Baptist, URC plus a Free Evangelical) at least 6 or 7 churches ( City Church, Emmanuel etc) meeting mostly in school halls, one on campus) and it is mostly in these newer “fellowships”, some charismatic, some more hardline Reformed, that most of the youngsters and young families are to be found. Added to that a Romanian… Read more »

ACI
ACI
28 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Fascinating Canterbury story. Obviously the United States was populated by every child of the wide European reformation in its early years, so this is just part of the fabric of New World life. And then we also grew new Christian Churches to meet all and sundry in their particularity. (I wrote a piece in the Living Church on the downside of all this). TEC is, and always was, a very small entity inside this melting pot, in terms of numbers. The situation in England must, however, be distinctive for the established church, given the reality you are describing.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
28 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

An interesting statistic and I offer this as a comparison of numbers. In Winchester (surely no larger than Canterbury) we have 15 C of E churches in addition to the Cathedral and Winchester College Chapel. One of them is also strongly “charismatic evangelical” with a regularly very large congregation. As to the others, there is a wide spread including one very high Anglo-Catholic. My connection is with one of the smallest, BCP 1662 and the congregation mostly elderly (like myself). There is another similar one in the city (where Archbishop Donald Coggan in retirement worshipped and played the piano for… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
28 days ago

Regarding the Sutterisch’s piece (and other recent commentary), I have been reading much on the decline and fall of communism in the eastern bloc. When reading Stephen Kotkin’s entertaining ‘Armageddon Averted: the Soviet Collapse 1970-2000’ (2001) I noted Nikolai Leonov, the chief KGB analyst, being recorded as stating “The Soviet Union resembled a chocolate bar: it was creased with the furrowed lines of future division, as if for the convenience of its consumers.” (p. 109). The famed (or fabled) ‘comprehensiveness’ of Anglicanism rationalises its vulnerabilities. Conventionally, the three major church parties, evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and liberals have, respectively, mirrored Hooker’s appeals… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Froghole
Sam Jones
Sam Jones
28 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

‘The evangelicals have now been in the saddle for almost three decades’

Lots of people seem to believe this but is there any evidence to support this view? Only a minority of C of E churches are evangelical (admittedly they tend to be the larger, more high profile ones). Similarly only a minority of bishops and senior clergy are evangelicals. And the current direction of the C of E e.g. in the LLF project is certainly not evangelical.

Froghole
Froghole
28 days ago
Reply to  Sam Jones

Many thanks for these remarks. My remarks were perhaps tendentious, up to a point. The gradual strengthening of the evangelical party over the last two generations has occurred largely by default: (i) a section of the Anglo-Catholics departed in 1993 and they have little appeal to a generation that places a premium on informality and accessibility; and (ii) the liberals have largely self-immolated, in that few liberal theologians now take orders (university theological faculties now being overwhelmingly lay) and the ostensible insipidity of liberal theology to a generation craving ‘meaning’, and its relative want of liturgical distinctiveness, again have scant… Read more »

Swithun
Swithun
27 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

There are other reasons for adopting Evangelical ‘tropes’. Churches that have a nobly loyal affection for the comprehensive, a-church-in-every-community ethos of the Church of England adjust their style so as to appeal to the average parishioner. They do so as an act of service. Noting the increasing prominence of these tropes in the wider church, it seems the right thing to do to move their offering in that direction. Some of those changes might be strange at first, but after a period of gradual immersion, existing churchgoers catch themselves thinking, ‘I actually quite like that new song’, or ‘That more… Read more »

Last edited 27 days ago by Swithun
Froghole
Froghole
27 days ago
Reply to  Swithun

Many thanks. I agree completely: there has been a secular shift towards this way of ‘doing church’ in the last few decades, so the extent that it has become ubiquitous. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that, in the main, it has made little difference to the trajectory of decline, since such services are still dominated by the demographic born before 1940. However, if it at least slows the rate of decline/collapse a little, then so much the better. Personally, I care little for the mode of worship (though I have a very mild preference for BCP offices), provided it… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
27 days ago
Reply to  Swithun

Music certainly crosses traditions, not so sure about expository preaching. Many Catholic parishes are not precious about singing a thumping Protestant number or a charismatic chorus alongside Sweet Sacrament Divine, when even a short expository sermon will guarantee glazed looks and complaints to the Vicar.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
27 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

Further thoughts on expository preaching. The Catholic tradition sees the liturgy, including the sermon, as primarily formational, not educational; it should inspire rather than explain. At least, that’s the theory. But given the catastrophic decline of most AC parishes as evidenced by Froghole, it appears we have not been very good at it,

David Emmott
David Emmott
27 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

My limited experience is probably atypical, but I have heard more excellent scriptural sermons from anglo-catholics and patronising wiffle-waffle ‘all about me’ from evangelicals, than the reverse.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
27 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

I have found the topic of attendance to be much more complicated than it appears. While decline is indeed true, it may actually herald rebirth rather than death. I would urge caution in drawing too many conclusions

Graeme

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
26 days ago
Reply to  Graeme Buttery

Woolworth, Maplin, Dixons, the Tie Rack, Poundland etc are well known stores which disappeared through lack of customers. Why should the CofE plc be any different. Or are you expecting the Resurrection of Woolworth’s, Graeme?

David Emmott
David Emmott
26 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Apart from ties, most of the things sold by these deceased stores are still useful and wanted by people. Other shops arise to cater for their needs and sell the same or similar goods. Woolworths has been reborn in the shape of Wilko, Home Bargains and others. Same for the Church surely?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
26 days ago
Reply to  David Emmott

It is true that people shop in new stores which have replaced old ones. But statistics show that most people don’t need religion. The Churches are trying to sell a ‘product’ most folks don’t want. If they close, what’s the point of opening new ones?

David Emmott
David Emmott
25 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

We (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself) don’t want to ‘sell’ anything. There is a hunger and thirst for meaning, even if it’s not expressed in religious terms. If the church is true to itself and continues to pray and offer the Eucharist, and serve those in need (ie all), it will survive. If it doesn’t it deserves to die.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
26 days ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I didn’t specifyanything in particular, because I do not actually know, but since death and resurrection are part of the Christian DNA and that Christianity was around long before the C of E was a distinct entity, aren’t we actually talking about, perhaps something like the death of this particular organised iteration of things? Who knows what might happen or what possibilities might show themselves? I just think we might be open to good things and possibilities, not just commenting on decline. And on a slightly different tack, the whole good old C of E might not actually be dead… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
27 days ago
Reply to  Allan Sheath

In response to all of the comments on the decline/survival prospects of Anglicanism in the U.K. and North America; as an active 91-year-old Anglo-Catholic priest in ACANZP (Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Pasifika) may I humbly suggest that what the world needs at this time of Pandemic is a ‘New Pentecost’ – to match that of the 1960s, which, following on from Vatican II, managed to renew and revive spiritual enthusiasm and growth in many Churches around the world. My own remembrance – as a lay person at that time – was of strange but encouraging stories of people’s… Read more »

ACI
ACI
26 days ago

We likely all have some deep hopefulness about ways ahead. My own are ecumenical. What you describe persists in France in the Chemin Neuf movement, as well as its training contexts (Centre Sevres, Paris). I have benefited greatly from this context and friendships emanating from it. I have written up an account in:

https://www.baylorpress.com/9781481312790/convergences/

Blessings.

Father Ron Smith
26 days ago
Reply to  ACI

Keep up the good work, Christopher. I, too, believe that Christ’s call to unity among his followers is more important than any hermeneutical differences among the diaspora. This is God’s Church after all.

Father Ron Smith
26 days ago

Dear Rod; I really oncur with this statement of yours: “.Anglicanism needs to decide whether it wants its churches to have a sally port or a concourse. If we choose the former it may well be all over except the crying. I’m hopeful enough people will chose the latter, so that, what we shall be has not yet been fully disclosed.” This, I believe, was the intention of Blessed Pope John XXIII at Vatican 2. He was aware that the Church needed to change from its obscurantism and move on – from judgementalism to active discipleship and the propagation of… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Father Ron Smith
John Wallace
John Wallace
26 days ago

Quite agree Fr Ron. I love the other verse in that hymn: For we make his love too narrow, by false limits of our own, and we magnify his strictness, with a zeal he would not own. Says it all.

Charles Clapham
26 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

To be provocative, I wonder whether the decline of a strong ‘liberal’ party in the Church of England is not so much a reflection of the ‘ostensible insipidity of liberal theology’ (as Froghole puts it), but a sign of its success and acceptance: we are all ‘liberals’ now ! In other words: If you can characterise theological liberalism by goals or values, you could argue these probably included: acceptance of historical-critical biblical scholarship; engagement with contemporary science; challenging the notion of eternal torment in hell for unbelievers; establishing the need for and value of interfaith dialogue; recognising the importance of… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by Charles Clapham
Froghole
Froghole
26 days ago

Very many thanks for these characteristically shrewd and perceptive remarks, with which I agree. What I take from them is that the ‘liberal’ or ‘modernist’ party in the Church has been successful almost to the point of making itself redundant. My experience of the HTB stock (of HTB and its satellites within Greater London and southern and eastern England) is that it has appropriated certain of the forms of the charismatic/evangelical churches (not least in its treatment of church furnishings!) whilst adopting a more irenic approach, theologically speaking. It is predominantly evangelical but in a church like St Augustine’s Queen’s… Read more »

Charles Clapham
25 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

To add to these comments, my own take is that the decline of Anglican ‘liberalism’ or ‘modernism’ as a strong movement or identity in the Church of England, is in part due to its failure to develop an adequate theology and practice of evangelism. As a ‘liberal’ Anglican myself, who has also been interested in church growth theory and practice (I’ve taught in this area and acted as an advisor/facilitator to others), I’ve been struck by the resistance to these themes amongst so many non-evangelical (or non-traditionalist Catholic) Anglicans. I think this is the real answer to the unhappiness expressed… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Charles Clapham
Froghole
Froghole
25 days ago

Many thanks. I have some sympathy with your remarks about Angela Tilby (and also some of Martyn Percy’s) critiques of the evangelical movement, although I have been quite taken aback by the visceral responses she has engendered. In my experience there appears to have been a catastrophic failure by almost all parish churches to: (i) invest serious money in youth work (though it’s been hard to invest since the parish share became the main funding base for stipendiaries from 1998); and (ii) to adapt service patterns to radically changed weekend timetables. The change to conventional weekend behaviour became evident shortly… Read more »

Charles Clapham
24 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Thanks for these comments. I entirely agree a failure to invest serious money in youth work has been catastrophic – and (by contrast) it is an area in which many evangelical churches have been much better invested. (Interestingly, when we were seeking a paid youth worker for our (liberal) church, it was quite difficult to think where we would recruit one from who could work with our ethos, since so many of them had been trained in evangelical colleges/courses.) More generally (and I think you have blogged on this before, if memory serves me), I think there is a huge… Read more »

Charles Clapham
24 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

For what it’s worth (having trained originally as an economist), I prefer a more economic analysis – it’s less (I would argue) about church style (if I may call it that), and more about the finances. Provisionally, I think you can suggest a rough correlation between areas of economic growth and decline over the last 40 years across the country, and patterns of church attendance. Certainly, the finances of most London churches (where I am now based) are much better than those up north (where I served before), and that’s as much about property prices and rental income (in London,… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
24 days ago

Many thanks indeed for these messages! That is fascinating. It has been my experience that healthy demographics correlate very closely with affluence. If I think of my experience of touring your current diocese in 2012-15, I was struck by how ‘growth’ and ‘success’ are concentrated within relatively prosperous wards. It seems to me that there is a zone of striking success in Kensington & Chelsea (the HTB effect) and within the City (the Bishopsgate effect), but also in a relatively select number of parishes in postcodes where property prices are especially high: Isleworth, Highgate, Hamsey, etc. However, much of Middlesex… Read more »

Charles Clapham
22 days ago
Reply to  Froghole

Follow the money! Absolutely! HTB and St Helen’s Bishopsgate are located respectively in what must be the two richest areas in western Europe, and yet it is striking that popular discussion or literature on mission, evangelism or church growth is almost silent on this. (I imagine the same might be said of Saddleback or Willow Creek in the USA, though I know less about their demographics). So these networks do plant into poorer areas (as they would point out) but only after they have built up sufficient capital and resources in wealthier communities, to ensure they have financial viability. This… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
20 days ago

This froghole/clapham discussion highlights how important it is for the C of E to take seriously sociology. Yet when i taught church history on a theo course and did POT I found clergy reluctant to accept that these things had much relevance to church growth and decline. It was as if many of them believed Christianity operated outside an economic/social/ cultural context at all. And in the 40 yrs I have been ordained church history in an academic sense has all but disappeared from theological training.

Froghole
Froghole
20 days ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Many thanks, Dr Butler. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about theological education to understand why ecclesiastical history has vanished from the list of subjects taught to ordinands. It does seem strange in view of the mania for contextualisation that has been so commonplace in the humanities over the last generation. Perhaps there are financial reasons for this change. Or is it due to the way in which church history is now conducted overwhelmingly by lay scholars, many (most?) of whom are not especially committed to the faith? In view of your remarks, I assume that there has been a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
20 days ago

Sorry, in my last comment I muddled Hornsey with Hamsey (Sussex, mothballed in Offham) and Hamsey Green (Surrey, doomed unit subordinate to Sanderstead). I meant Hornsey, of course. Yes, I agree with your comments, and many thanks again! One of the fascinating aspects of the virus is the likely fate of cities as vectors for infection, and whether the concept of commuting is now imperilled. If the stereotypical commute is at risk of becoming a thing of past, then there is the possibility of a much wider dispersal of the so-called professional classes across the country. This, as per your… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
27 days ago

Reflecting on reading the blogs of questions of Anglican Identity and also reading blogs on current problems in the Church of England like Bullying or safeguarding, it reminds me of a story an Anglican Contemplative Nun told me and others many years ago, this was the late Sister Helen Columba SLG a Nun of the Sisters of the Love of God at Fairacres in Oxford. Sister Helen Columba was Scottish and had been brought up in the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian National Church in Scotland and she was for a time working at Iona Abbey for the Iona Community… Read more »

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