Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 March 2024

Simon Cross Modern Church Looking for what is Becoming

Fergus Butler-Gallie Church Times Give us a quiche, and other church offerings
“Hospitality should be central to churches’ theology — even the dreaded bring-and-share lunch”

Andrew Graystone Prospect The Marshall Plan
“Hedge fund manager Paul Marshall is on a God-driven mission to transform the religious fabric of the nation-and he has the money to do it”

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Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

‘Somewhere amid the arrogance of the Enlightenment, we lost this sense of fallenness.’ Yes indeed, but the realisation that there was no actual Fall from Eden is not arrogant, and I have yet to read a theologian that has reconciled traditional Christian anthropology to the conclusions of modern biology.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Kierkegaard has his moments. His Unscientific Postscript and Concept of Anxiety both lean into the idea that the historicity of Scripture isn’t the most important thing. He’s writing in the 1840s so maybe a bit pre the higher criticism (the Unscientific Postscript is actually arguing the other way: even granted that the Gospels are perfect historical documents, that doesn’t mean anything for your eternal happiness, it only means anything to a professor of history) but you can run them together quite happily.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  FearandTremolo
3 months ago

Perhaps, but again the claim that we are not ‘fallen’ is not arrogant in the slightest, given what we now know about evolution and the emerging of the universe. It’s those who make Christian soteriology dependent on a ‘fall’ who come across as arrogant to me, dismissing scientific knowledge as if it were child play. Arrogant and stupid.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Doesn’t this all hinge on what you mean by the word ‘Fallen’? And what ‘scientific knowledge’ means – and where we understand moral awareness to be found in evolutionary processes?

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  David Runcorn
3 months ago

Christian tradition would understand ‘fallen’ to mean that we once existed in more glorious a form. However you may want to parse it, chronologically, ontologically, morally, it remains untrue. Palaeontology, genetics and evolutionary biology show it to be so. Mr Marshall may very well think it arrogant not to see human nature as fallen, I think it’s precisely the opposite. It’s arrogant to dismiss the evidence provided by these branches of modern science. There never was a ‘better’ version of humankind which we must strive towards.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

You have done an excellent job of evacuating Christianity of its most basic claims. And you state it as if you are a Law greater than Sinai, making Moses look timid by comparison. Modern science is called in to do ontology, moreover!

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Anglican Priest
3 months ago

You may sneer but you’ll find that ‘timid’ Moses agrees with me, and Judaism has never envisaged an original sin as cause of the depravation of our human nature. The story of the fall of man is never appealed to in the Torah either as a historical event or as supporting a theological construction of the nature and origin of sin. Nowhere does the Old Testament theology base its doctrine of sin on the fall of Adam. Eden is not even alluded to in any writings before the post-exilic prophets and even in these no reference is found to the… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Have you never read the psalms? You are going to have to remove quite a few of them. I do not know what kind of NT you are referring to when you speak of “Our Lord.” What does it mean for Jesus to say that he has come to bring us eternal life, to the thief on the cross, ‘today you will be with me in Paradise’, that death is caused by sin and Satan, and that he has come to defeat them? What is eternal life if not Paradise restored, the rupture caused by Adam healed? Jesus addresses his… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Anglican Priest
3 months ago

Addendum. To the degree that Jews do not focus on “original sin,” it is because there is plenty of sin in abundance. Von Rad was but one to point out that the sin of Adam belongs in a series of escalating violence, for which the call of Abraham was the mitigation (Adam and Eve, garments; Cain, mark; Noah, Rainbow; Tower of Babel, ?). Call of Abraham. There is a Day of Atonement — what is the point of that, if not to cover all manner of sin, conscious and unconscious, things done and left undone. The sacrificial system itself, elaborating… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Anglican Priest
3 months ago

This is fruitless. I’m not denying that there is sin, lots of it, only that sinning springs from a depravity of our nature which has its cause in a Fall. And yes, I have read the Psalms and do call Jesus Lord.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

So, Christ is not winning us back from our fallen condition, and taking us into Paradise, Eternal Life. John and Luke (inter alia) do not say this. Correct?

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Anglican Priest
3 months ago

Christ is taking us into paradise and eternal life, but I’d love to know where John and Luke state that he is rescuing us from our fallen condition and the sin of Adam.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I hadn’t seen this as a problem so I guess I’m missing something. Does it not amount to the same thing whether we say that we were perfect and fell (the Bible) or that we evolved from slugs to such an extent that we now find ourselves with a sense of the spiritual (the literal truth)? Both stories leave us as less than perfect but with a yearning for perfection.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

We’ve not evolved from slugs. Furthermore to call this a ‘fall’ makes nonsense of the term. It’d actually be its antonym: an emergence.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I realise we’re not evolved from slugs, Lorenzo, but it amuses me to put it like that, slugs being so very sluggy. But it was not intended to be a literal statement. Likewise I agree with you that humanity plainly did not literally experience a “fall”. My point was that the Fall myth and the scientific truth yield the same end result. I never speak of “fallen humanity”, for the same reasons that you articulate, but I don’t see it as a problem if people do, as long as they accept that they are speaking metaphorically. You wrote, “I have… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

But that’s the point, Nigel: science does not tell us that we are ‘imperfect’.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I would argue everything is imperfect. Nothing lasts forever. Everything falls apart.
Entropy is a bummer.
So, yes, human beings are imperfect. We age, are prone to disease and breaking. We war on each other, we connive, cheat and steal. We plunder the Earth’s riches without giving much thinking to the consequences.
And, in terms of the Graystone article, we amass vast wealth and donate some of it to worthy causes, for unworthy purposes, IMO.
GLBT people are made in God’s image with Mr. or Sir Marshall likes it or not.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I’m not clear what point you are trying to make. That there was not an actual historical Fall several people here already agree with you. Or perhaps you want to argue (for some reason) that it is unscientific to say that we are not perfect? I cannot imagine many (even atheist) scientists claiming that we ARE, say, morally perfect beings, it’s so patently not true. But are we not having this conversation in the context of Christianity, which includes believing in a God who is holy, and in that way clearly not like us? Or… you don’t need a Fall… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

This is not what I deny, namely that Jesus died to free us from the consequences of a real, actual Fall, corrupting our human nature. I’m not claiming that we are morally perfect, only that our falling short is not due to some inherited sin or fallen state. It’s just the way we are.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Lorenzo, you might find Catholic theologian James Alison’s thoughts on this helpful.
https://jamesalison.com/some-thoughts-on-the-atonement/

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Erika Baker
3 months ago

No, I truly do not. “God created the universe, including humanity, and it was good. Then somehow or other humankind fell.” I would have James tell me, somehow or other, how we fell. When were we ever better?

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

The sentence you quote is part of what is prefixed: The first thing that I ought to do, therefore, is to give you a brief account of what is traditionally called the substitutionary theory of atonement; of what we are up against;

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Erika Baker
3 months ago

I understood that, Erica, but nowhere does James even envision how ‘somehow or other we fell.’ It’s all a ‘liturgy’ that need not be grasped.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Then we are in agreement. 🙂

And I also agree with you, going back to where this started, if Paul Marshall and his sort of Christianity want to be taken seriously by those who are not Biblical fundamentalists it would be helpful more often for them to point out that they are not suggesting that the Fall is a historical truth. But, I wonder, with you, would they even accept that?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Amen to that.
Thanks for the clarification.

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Understanding ‘fallenness’ as ‘brokenness’ makes perfect sense of the human condition as we experience it and in no way undermines traditional Christian anthropology.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
3 months ago

It does not make sense to me at all. If we are broken: what was the model? what’s the template?

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

Do we need a model? Isn’t conscience sufficient? A universal awareness that we are not as we could be?

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
3 months ago

‘We are not as we could be’ is something Nietzsche itself envisioned: the Uebermensch. He certainly was not Christian. So no, conscience is definitely not sufficient. Humankind has striven to become absolute horror time and again. And again ‘broken’ suggests that humankind was once whole. It wasn’t.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

You said above that science does not tell us we are imperfect. Here you say that humankind has never been whole. What then are you saying about the human race?

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

“Humankind has striven to become absolute horror time and again.” Is that not a “broken” sentence, and not because it was once whole?

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

When were we once whole, Nigel?

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I don’t think it matters much whether we were once whole or not. What’s important is that Jesus’ resurrection tells us we can be whole in the future. We experience imperfection as our reality; He points to a different reality.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Evan McWilliams
3 months ago

Perhaps it was that universal awareness that made Mesapotamian people tell the stories that make up the first 11 chapters of Genesis?

Evan McWilliams
Evan McWilliams
Reply to  Perry Butler
3 months ago

Could well be. I’m not really that interested in trying to peer into the dark ages to figure out how we got here. What matters to me is that, however we got where we are, Jesus’ resurrection takes us somewhere better.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

I have long wondered whether Gen. 6:1-4 contains traces of the memory of a time when there were other hominid species. Would those other hominids – e.g. Denisovans, Neanderthals, Australopithecus – have had moral and spiritual awareness? According to Russian folk stories, the ‘wild woman’ Zana (who actually lived in the 19th C) was both like and unlike what we call the human race. DNA testing on her descendants (she was captured, kept as a curiosity, and mated with local men) indicates that she may indeed have been from a different race – but these results are contested. The legends… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Wikipedia (okay not necessarily accurate but a good first line) suggests that Neanderthal humans “became extinct around 40,000 years ago”. I think it strains credulity to imagine that Genesis might contain any memory of events that distant in human history.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

In non-literate cultures with a narrative tradition, such memories can be remarkably persistent: such as the ‘dream time’ legends among Australian aborigines.

And the story of Goliath, and the comment ‘there were giants in the land in those days’, suggest that some individuals survivors who were perceived to be different from the ordinary run of humans. After all, it’s estimated that we all have around 2% Neanderthal DNA, so Neanderthal bloodlines persisted past the supposed extinction of the species. Other hominids may have survived for longer.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

By coincidence I’m reading Alice Roberts’ book on the colonisation of the world by humankind. Let’s just say that it is a fascinating story – she is a very good writer – and draws together a lot of bits of unconnected history I’d picked up over the years. OK, the book’s now some 12 years old, so there may have been developments since then – but at the time of its writing, it seems from the evidence of mitrochrondial DNA obtained from our limited range of human fossils, that there’s no evidence of interbreeding between Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens or,… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

That seems to be out of date. See the article Pat O’Neill linked below.

Denisovans also interbred with Homo sapiens, but their DNA is found in Asian and Pacific rather than European populations. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/dtcgenetictesting/neanderthaldna/

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Thank you very much, Janet. As I said, the library copy I’m reading is rather old, and I’d subsequently heard about links on tv broadcasts. Given how rapidly scientific discoveries are being made these days, asking someone better informed than me seemed a very sensible idea. That’s the reply I was hoping for.

Usual problem – keeping up with everything that’s going on these days!

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

“Became extinct” may be a bit of an overstatement. Recent studies indicate that due to interbreeding, as much as 4% of modern human DNA may derive from the Neanderthals. (https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2023/06/lingering-effects-neanderthal-dna-found-modern-humans}

However, there is also strong evidence that Neanderthal humans definitely had some “spiritual awareness,” as evidenced by burials in which carvings, flowers, and other “tokens” are found.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

I was in the famous grotto of Font-de-Gaume (one of the many caves with Paleolithic polychrome paintings and sculptures in the Val d’Homme in France) last month. What is striking is the virtual absence of any representations other than realistic, non metaphorical, drawings. These are not burial caves, of course. But I think most experts agree it is very hard to understand what the drawings mean and why they were done. It’s like entering a enchanting mystery. Sorry for the detour away from the actual content of the essay and whether or not fallenness is, as baldly asserted, “arrogant and… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Anglican Priest
John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Anglican Priest
3 months ago

“The past is another country; they did things differently there.” And, I think, the more I learn, the less I know – there are so many questions to which we can never know the answers. The same truth applies to knowing God.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
3 months ago

It is interesting that Yuval Noah Harari (not a theologian) in his book Sapiens describes a pivotal moment when humans stopped being hunter gatherers for which they were designed to farmers which they were not. Worth reading just for the way this backward step in our development is described and the profound effect it has has ever since. Hard to come up with a better description of ‘the fall’ in human development terms, and quite remarkably mirrors the Genesis account of the fall.

David Keen
3 months ago

The Prospect article gets the award for the most guilt by association shoehorned into a single piece of writing.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

A man who finances the tired and unpopular Tory Party, the odious GB News and HTB (and has to delete anti-Muslim tweets) shows some of the values of today’s happy-clappy CofE. Having sufficient money to spread’ a right-wing evangelical agenda in Church ‘plants’ signals a further death knell for a once-great Church. How very sad.

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

I agree…sounds sad to me too. The connection to right wing politics is a bit of a mystery to me, but that shows my naivety, I expect. Do any HTB people ever receive an ecstatic experience in the Spirit calling them to question the faults and excesses of capitalism, do you think?

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

I don’t know, Shamus. In my youth I was a very right wing Christian (and still can be, with the ‘right’ (wrong) triggers. From that experience I deduce that a lot of right wingers, regardless of wealth and status, are actually very insecure people, frightened of change and losing ‘what little they have’. So God very quickly becomes a bulwark of their security. A lot of the books I read back in the 70’s and 80’s, particularly from an American evangelical bckground, saw capitalism as God’s ‘best’; their mentality was probably influenced by the McCarthy era of US politics, and… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

Speaking for myself, I was nurtured in the charismatic renewal in the 1970s and 1980s, and it was in that context that I first ran across the teaching of people like Ron Sider and his book ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’, and the movement for simple living as a part of Christian discipleship. So my answer to your question is ‘yes’. Also, given the huge amount of money that the Church of England spends on maintaining magnificent ancient buildings, I think mainstream C of E members should be careful about casting aspersions on this subject.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

There’s a difference between the obligation of using money to maintain historic buildings, and spending millions on spreading a right-wing evangelical ideology which, like GB News, is unrepresentative of sensible English people.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

Personally, I don’t find either of them consistent with the teaching of Jesus.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Unfortunately Ron Sider’s book – and I did read it, many years ago – ran parallel with the ‘prosperity gospel’ themes, which sort of morphed into sanctified self interest. It got a lot of followers

As for the buildings – I’m in a nastily cleft stick here. On one hand, I love and value historic architecture, on the other, Christ nowhere told his disciples to become curators of ancient monuments. And following experiences with dioscesan architects regarding certain historic churches I’ve been involved with, my opinions of those folks cannot be safely expressed here……

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

I agree about the prosperity gospel, John. But my own evangelical nurture in the 70s and early 80s came from John Stott, who lived in two rooms over the garage in the rectory at All Souls, got his suits from the Oxfam shop, and gave away all his book royalties to the Langham trust, which bought biblical and theological literature for pastors in the developing world (despite his upper class Bash Camps background).

James
James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

He was an exemplary saint – but also a single man without wife and kids. I wouldn’t like to try to bring up a family in central London on a vicar’s stipend.
That said, there are plenty of other single men who haven’t followed John Stott’s dedicated life of service and self-denial.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  James
3 months ago

James, I don’t disagree that John was able to live as austerely as he did because of his single status. The point I was making was that the greed and materialism that characterize the Prosperity Gospel are far from the whole story of evangelicalism. I have never belonged to a church like HTB, nor was my father (a lifelong evangelical) ever the vicar of such a church.

James
James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Tim, I entirely agree. I was a member of All Souls in the 1980s and heard John Stott on many occasions and once or twice led services with him. He was an unfailing model of a self-disciplined and humble mind that never tired of learning and was always focused on exalting Christ.Besides his international preaching ministry he must have mentored hundreds of young people in ministry, including many from overseas.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Mine came more from Michael Harper and Tom Smail; I know JS was widely respected for his interest in ornithology and, I believe, was Michael’s ‘boss’ at one time – not sure of the exact relationship. I used to read JS in ‘Renewal’ magazine, and at least one of his articles made a lasting impression on me. But, sadly, I knew nothing of his background until now. While I don’t share some of his views, I believe he was the genuine article. The tragedy, as Tom Smail expressed on several occasions, was that far too many people wanted the ‘experience’… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

John Stott’s various biographies are well worth reading. There’s a massive two-volume bio by Timothy Dudley-Smith which I very much enjoyed, but didn’t feel the need to keep for a second re-read! In the context of one of his birding trips, John once gave a week to lead a small retreat for five pastors in isolated communities in the central Arctic. He refused to take a penny from us in payment for his time. His personal humility and generosity were an inspiration to me. As you say, I disagree with him on some important subjects, but I’m glad to have… Read more »

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

As another ex-evangelical, can I just say how refreshing it is to hear the nuanced, non-polarised discussion here, in the context of John Stott, about certain wings of the church, i.e. disagreeing on some areas but able to admire them in others. As in culture wars more generally, the LLF and other debates seems to have divided the church into friends and enemies, goodies and baddies. It’s such an opportunity for the church to model something different. I’m not denying that there is teaching coming from certain quarters that is deeply mistaken and harmful, but are not Paul Marshall, Nicky… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

Thanks Nigel and I entirely agree. A blessed Easter to you.

Chris Carter
Chris Carter
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

Of course the “faults and excesses of capitalism” pale against the faults and excesses of socialism.
Be that as it may, can one not applaud his charitable giving even if some might personally disapprove of some of the beneficiaries?

Kieran
Kieran
Reply to  Chris Carter
3 months ago

Given the evident fruits of the excesses of capitalism — eg, sewage flowing in the freshwater supply of parts of the UK, the Post Office scandal, and indeed the oil man who is turning into the most expensive of all the Archbishops of Canterbury — I think it’s well time for some excesses of socialism. Especially if it results in clean drinking water, public utilities that are public, and a Church leadership that isn’t the biggest obstacle to trauma-informed pastoral care.

Acts 4.32-35 comes to mind. Let’s have some excesses of that!

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  Shamus
3 months ago

It should be no surprise. HTB and similar things in our church are just an anglified version of the US conservative evangelical churches (including the non-denominal approach to disregarding the liturgy that should be an important part of worship for all Anglicans). As time wears on the fig leaves of reasonableness are falling off and revealing that they are far more like their red-hat wearing transatlantic cousins they they want you to think. Sadly for some of us, this has been painfully obvious from the get-go and seeing your church slowly fall prey to what I consider a truly odious… Read more »

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

Surely excessive garment rending here, father? HTB in no way floats my spiritual boat, but it clearly does for many. And I think it is OTT to see the Anglican Church ( or possibly you mean the CofE) as ‘once great’. It had, and continues to have, its moments, but those are more than matched by inertia, obstinacy, lack of charity, creaking prejudices, smugness, ( even among TA) and of course the CofE being characterised as ‘the Tory party at prayer’… we could do better, and I mean ‘we’ not ‘they’.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Aljbri
3 months ago

Nowadays, the ‘civil service at prayer’ as well…..

Mike Nash
Mike Nash
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

Eh? Wot? Why the civil service? I spent my life it and saw no connection with prayer, the CofE or the Tory party.

Aljbri
Aljbri
Reply to  Mike Nash
3 months ago

Too right bro. Me too. Or not much.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Mike Nash
3 months ago

I’m thinking of the CofE resembling the civil service – having spent my life in the service too – top heavy beaurocracy, rigidity of ‘the rules’, protection of superiors’ tails and the ‘public image’ of the organisation, domination by committees ….

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  FrDavid H
3 months ago

Must admit, Father, that friend Marshall’s cv makes me feel uncomfortable too. The headlines on GB News which I see on youtube are bad enough; shall I say that Mr Farage was never on my Christmas card, and the extreme evangelical right seem very far from the God whose values I’ve struggled to learn? But then, of course, I don’t have vast sums of money, the power which goes with it, and a vested interest in maintaining the ‘status quo’. I’m not surprised the Smythe report has disappeared into a black hole, somewhere at the back of Mr Nye’s office… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

John, this week’s edition of Private Eye also highlights the delays in publishing the Smyth report and suggests that these delays will continue until after Archbishop Welby’s retirement.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Fr Dean
3 months ago

To tell the truth, Father, I’ve not read Private Eye (other than the covers, on the news stand) for very, very many years. But I am not surprised they are onto this one.

What does surprise me is that, somehow or other, a bootleg copy of the unredacted report has not found its way into their hands before now. (Remember the EA fury over ‘The Myth of God Incarnate’, which they somehow discovered in a dustbin, outside the publisher’s back door?)

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

Wealthy people like Paul Marshall don’t just happen to be associated with things. They are too powerful and busy for that. If he is spending time around others of dubious reputation and action it is a deliberate choice. That said, there is plenty in his own direct actions to show that this is a man that should not have the influence he does on our Church.

I, for one, I heartily sick of our church being in thrall to those who appear the have little in the way of scruples, even if that is the way it ha always been.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  David Keen
3 months ago

The ‘resentment industry’ still trading on 40 pieces of silver it seems.

Lottie E Allen
3 months ago

It is Holy Week. Andrew Graystone has done the church a great service. See the reality of how money talks in Tory England and this attempt to hijack the Church of England and turn it into a narrow public school evangelical cult.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
3 months ago

But ,most power blocks attempt to hi-jack religion, Lotte. Its a more effective way of silencing it than overt, crushing opposition.

Lottie E Allen
Reply to  John Davies
3 months ago

Well said

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
3 months ago

I don’t know about the word ‘evangelical’, but if you look at the education of most bishops and senior church leaders in the last hundred years, I would argue that the Church of England has always been a narrow public school cult.

EagletP
EagletP
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Tim I did a bit of research (ie surfing Wikipedia!) a while back on the schooling of our current bishops. I discovered that although there are a handful who had been to the ‘major public schools’ the majority have been educated in the state sector – either grammar schools for those educated in the 60’s and 70’s, and comprehensives more recently.

So as with so much in the UK, the expansion of education opportunity in the last 100 years has had a big impact on the backgrounds of our church leaders.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  EagletP
3 months ago

Interesting. My dad was a working class kid who was ordained in his thirties in 1965. He often felt a real barrier of class between himself and the largely middle and upper class clergy he rubbed shoulders with (or not). And in his case, he was the evangelical and they were largely not.

EagletP
EagletP
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

Yes but that was 60 years ago, Tim. It’s still quite middle class, undoubtedly, and sure candidates from blue collar backgrounds would still have some stories – but a few pockets aside public school culture is not dominant in middle-Churchofenglandshire – it’s far more of a mix than that. i can certainly see how things can be alienating for some people – just as an example when I was at our Catherdrals chrism Eucharist I saw a board the mission statement written in long-winded very Latinate English and phraseology ‘We aspire to be…blah-di-blah…’ But that’s just bad English, and I… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by EagletP
Ian
Ian
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
3 months ago

I have never had the experience of worshipping at HTB. I did, however, meet one or two clergy many many years ago on post ordination training in the Kensington area. Indeed one charming young woman deacon informed us she had come to faith at a ‘debs bible study at HTB’ so I sort of knew it was posh. I had no idea of its connection with the (if not far), then further right of politics in the way expressed here. I hope the individals mentioned are not representative. I rather fear they may be.

Lottie E Allen
Reply to  Ian
3 months ago

Wealth inequality is growing in the country and in the church.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Lottie E Allen
3 months ago

It’s not that they are turning the Church into anything: it’s more that the humbler church is the part which is dying.

Lottie E Allen
Reply to  Kate Keates
3 months ago

Thank you. Can you unpack your thoughtful comment?

Rev Colin C Coward
3 months ago

I find it hard to connect the opening comments about the Enlightenment, Kierkegaard and the Fall with the content of Andrew Graystone’s article for Prospect. I am feeling profoundly alienated from the Church of England and the Christian foci that seem to be dominant today. I’ve been engaged this week in conversations with a number of good friends about developments related to the Living in Love and Faith process, an invitation to a Zoom meeting, the newly formed group Together, an amalgamation of the General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group and MOSAIC. A meeting of trustees is being held next… Read more »

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
3 months ago

Where’s Rowan Williams in all this? Doesn’t the non-HTB C of E need a leader?

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Nigel Jones
3 months ago

Not quite so simple, I’m afraid. Rowan is undoubtedly a brilliant, humble, prayerful spiritual leader, and not of the HTB ilk. But he is also McDonald Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Theology at St Mellitus College, and his wife, also a brilliant theologian, is the current McDonald Professor, and a founding member of the faculty there. The C of E is an extremely small, and very interconnected, world… On another note, which I don’t quite know whether to find amusing or despair inducing, I believe from friends/colleagues in Manchester Diocese that the building mentioned in the Marshall article as being recently… Read more »

Fr John Caperon
Fr John Caperon
3 months ago

Grateful thanks to Andrew Graystone for his informative and concerning article. Paul Marshall’s philanthropy looks to some extent as if it’s modelled on that of the Clapham Sect (and of course there’s a current ‘Revitalise’ Clapham connection), which made a huge impact on C19th society one way and another. But what is worrying is the simplification of Christian thinking which the current movement seems to represent. Remarks of Cuddesdon’s vice-principal, Canon Mark Chapman, quoted in a recent ‘Church Times’, seem apposite: ‘…there’s a great deal of emphasis now on experience, on feeling good or feeling moved, and often ordinands can’t… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

“traditional British liberalism rests on the Judeo-Christian understanding that we are all, in moral terms, fallen creatures… Somewhere amid the arrogance of the Enlightenment, we lost this sense of fallenness” — quoting Paul Marshall. Thanks to Mr. Graystone, I now know what “HTB” means. To paraphrase an American musical from the 1950s, what’s good for HTB is good for the UK, eh? ** sigh ** Roughly 20 years ago, a woman and I both volunteered for the ACLU, an unabashedly liberal organization in the USA. I would carpool with her. We were listening to a news report, and some politician… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

The arrogance of the Enlightenment helped bring about freedom of speech, freedom of religion or conscience, evidence-based civil or criminal trials (rather than throw a weighted and bound woman into a lake to see if she’s a witch or not, with her both innocence or guilt ending in her death), and ideas about economic freedom that I suspect laid the foundation for Mr. Marshall to accumulate his wealth. The arrogance of the Enlightenment is also closely linked to the Scientific Revolution, which led to vast improvements in medicine and public health, and to various technologies, technologies that Mr. Marshall used… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

Amen, and a couple more words: modern dentistry.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
3 months ago

‘The arrogance of the Enlightenment helped bring about…’

Um – no it didn’t. The Enlightenment brought about those things, not the arrogance of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment freed us to ask all kinds of questions and make amazing scientific discoveries.

The arrogance of the Enlightenment claimed that science had the ultimate answers to every question that mattered.

There’s a difference.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
3 months ago

I’d hate to be thought of as being pedantic but my understanding is that unless Sabina Marshall is the daughter of an earl, she should be styled Lady Marshall and not Lady Sabina. Her title derives from her husband’s knighthood.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Fr Dean
3 months ago

You’re probably right. But either way she takes her title from a man. What does she get called if she earns the title herself?

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Dame

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

The feminine equivalent of a knight is a dame….such as Dame Judy Dench.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Pat ONeill
3 months ago

There is nothing, simply nothing, like a dame! The word has different connotations in the US.
Anyway, we can assume that a woman styled ‘Lady’ has done nothing to earn it?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

No, that’s not right either. If Mrs Jane Smith becomes a baroness in her own right (or inherits a barony in her own right which is possible with a very small number of hereditary titles) then she is Lady Smith — or whatever the title is, though these days this is frequently styled Baroness Smith to avoid the clash of titles with the Lady Smith who is the wife of Lord Smith or of Sir John Smith. If on the ther hand she is made a dame then she is styled Dame Jane Smith. Lady Jane Smith would be the… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
3 months ago

Good grief. Maybe it’s time no one had a title unless they’d earned it.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Jesus would agree. And even if they had earned it, no title, just respect.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Janet Fife
3 months ago

Or a Baroness

James
James
Reply to  Fr Dean
3 months ago

Too late, Dean. Embrace your pedantry.

Then join my campaign to abolish titles and the House of Lords. I’ve asked Sir Justin Welby to join as well.

Dan Appleyars
Dan Appleyars
3 months ago

On this Good Friday, I found Simon Cross: Looking for what is Becoming much more engaging, insightful and inspiring than dwelling on The Marshall Plan! Thank you Simon Cross!!!

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Dan Appleyars
3 months ago

An interesting thread for Good Friday… I’m surprised the War in Heaven didn’t get a mention. Rather than wondering whether I should go to church I was lucky enough to have a trip to the St Matthew Passion at the Barbican What an amazing three hours! No mention of Living in Love and Faith, KC’s reports etc etc. Same old church politics pretty much though, with different titles for the postholders….. Now back into the medieval bunker to read the Dream of the Rood which sadly I had not taken with me. So what is the C of E current… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
3 months ago

We went to our new church, Lendrum Mennonite here in Edmonton (Alberta), for an inter-Mennonite Good Friday service. Five congregations (including a Sudanese and a Korean congregation), four languages, wonderful singing, totally shared leadership. No perfect people present, for sure, but an entirely good experience.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
3 months ago

It sounds brilliant- you are so fortunate to have the choice . But Edmonton (of which I have very fond memories from a trip with UK [Girl]Guiders a long time ago) is much larger than where I live

Happy Easter!

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
3 months ago

You too, Susanna!

Neil J
Neil J
3 months ago

Has Andrew Graystone got Richard Tice and Rico Tice confused? I’m not aware of Richard (Reform Party) professing any active Christian faith or having any Iwerne history. Rico (evangelist based at All Souls Langham Place) certainly grew up through Iwerne, but has never shown any appetite for a political career!

James
James
Reply to  Neil J
3 months ago

That’s what I thought as well. Andrew Graystone, please correct this if you have confused the two,

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
3 months ago

Probably too late to comment on this thread.. but rereading the Graystone article it occurs to me that, although my instincts are almost always on the liberal side of current debates in the church context, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be part of an HTB-type church and think their theology is simplistic, nevertheless in the context of concern for wider society might Marshall’s and Revitalise’s influence not be a positive and necessary one?

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