Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 February 2024

Jeremy Pemberton From The Quire Inching Forwards?

Helen King sharedconversations Next business, anyone? LLF, Synod, February 2024

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love

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Peter
Peter
1 month ago

There has been a consistent claim that the appeal for structured differentiation is a preoccupation at the fringe of the conservatives groupings. That has been comprehensively shown to be untrue. 42% of Synod voted for moves towards structured provisions. The myth which has captured progressives is that “one more heave” at the next Synod election will do the trick. It will need the vote for those seeking structural provision to collapse by a quarter in just one election. Even that would only deliver an outcome that was just in sight of the required majority to change the law and doctrine… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Ah, don’t fret. I am confident that the Bishops will come up with a way forwards. I suspect that they will propose spending 18 months developing a book which examines the various forms a settlement might take to be followed by 3 years of focus groups from across all sides of the church to talk about how it has affected them and what sort of outcome they are looking for. Another 18 months after that for the bishops to discuss the discussions and come up with a (non) proposal for Synod.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

You might give a moments thought to the real congregations of real people.

It is not really about Synod and its activities

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

A lot of real congregations with a lot of real people want full inclusion of GLBT people.
The 42% you mention still leaves 58%.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

It has long been a concern that General Synod does not accurately represent the mind and will of the local church. These percentages only express the concerns of a very particular group.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Runcorn
1 month ago

But David, the claim is relentlessly made that “Synod has decided and we must get on and deliver” !

So when Synod votes by a margin of one vote the cry is “one vote is enough”.

Yet when large scale opposition is clear that is dismissed on the grounds that GS is not representative.

Please, either Synod is or is not a place which needs to be taken seriously.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

58% is no where near enough for the changes you want.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

I suspect it’s not even a topic of discussion in most congregations. They have “real” problems to deal with–paying for a new roof or heating system, shoring up a crumbling foundation,….

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

There are people in their sixties and seventies who have been waiting for equal marriage and full inclusion in the Church of England all their lives. As you say, it’s about real people, not Synod.

It’s interesting that the orthodox groups are saying that the Church of England is moving too fast on PLF and stand alone services that have taken decades to agree but simultaneously want their structural differentiation now.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Nobody wants structural differentiation, Kate, now or at any time in the future.

It is the least worst option available to us all.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Would not the least worst option actually be to stay together despite our differences, as we have done over divorce, the ordination of women (to some degree), eucharistic theology etc.?

Rowland P
Rowland P
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

By which point the regular attendance will have fallen below half a million. People are going elsewhere. Look at the stats. Fiec, Elim, New Frontiers. So are evangelicals for the ministry.

John S
John S
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

“The only door out of this burning building is a legally binding settlement.”

I would respectfully suggest that the only door out of this building is the grace of God, and I don’t find the concept of legally binding settlements very consonant with the nature of God as revealed in Jesus.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  John S
1 month ago

Legally binding settlements are morally neutral in their character.

There is nothing good or bad about the concept itself.

If you think legal agreements are not in keeping with the character of God you must own no property, have no bank account, and hold no formal employment

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

‘Legally binding settlements are morally neutral in their character.’ They are not. Seriously, only a man could claim this in a church that already legally discriminates against women in its employment policy, on ground of gender.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Morally neutral? You want to embed that there are churches where same sex couples will not be welcome? Strange version of neutrality.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Some years ago, when some conservative members of the Anglican Church of Canada could not reconcile themselves to the direction the church was taking on LGBTQI+ inclusion (NB: it was only a ‘direction’; nothing substantial had yet been agreed to), they had the integrity to leave and form a new denomination, the Anglican Network in Canada, now part of the ACNA. I was sad to see them go—many of my oldest friends were in that group—but I respected their integrity. I think the Church of England has a sad history of trying to keep everyone in the church no matter… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter I am not a gay man and I can’t claim to have the in-depth knowledge that you have but this is how I see it (excuse the simplicity of my approach). For me it’s all a question of love. We worship a God of love but to be honest I see very little love in the Church either at my local level in Berlin or in Lambeth Palace. Is there any love in the hearts of Archbishop Welby and William Nye ? Maybe there is but I see precious little evidence and a great deal of evidence of the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by David Hawkins
Peter
Peter
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

David, thank you for your thoughts.

I certainly think the Church of England appoints the wrong people as bishops.

Peter

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I thought there was some trust in God’d guidance in the matter. Perhaps God is not of the right religious persuasion to please you?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
1 month ago

On the headlines alone, I think Colin captures the situation more with “a Church in crisis” than Jeremy with “Inching Forwards” because I don’t even see that miniscule progress. In the previous two Synods the discussion was at least about moving forwards but that has slipped to discussing meta – now discussing how to talk about progress rather than discussing progress itself. Although the details act to obscure the similarity, it’s essentially the same as the outcome in terms of safeguarding: instead of implementing the Jay recommendations a group will meet to discuss the recommendations. Talk about how to talk… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Synod also has no appetite for any further moves in the direction of the progressives.

Where does that leave us ??

Kieran
Kieran
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

In the birth pangs of the coming Kingdom of peace and mercy.

Who knows, it might even bring conservative evangelicals to a conversion to the authentic and inclusive Gospel of Christ.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kieran
Bob
Bob
1 month ago

Colin Coward in his article “ LLF a church in crisis” comments on one amendment but ignores another. That of Ed Shaw. His amendment simply asked GS to acknowledge that for many, including some present at GS, some of the issues raised are not matters that they can simply agree to disagree. Yet 20 bishops and 92 clergy refused to acknowledge the views of these members of their dioceses and parishes, so making a mockery of the guiding principles of LLF and casting into grave doubt the pastoral care offered by those 20 bishops and 92 clergy. Do these bishops… Read more »

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
1 month ago

The purpose of any system is that which it actually does.

The system of General Synod kicks cans down roads.

QED…

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

Rather an odd mixture of thoughts form my own response. Yes, I’d agree with Colin. This organisation is in a major crisis – and I was once told that the Greek word which forms its root carries with it an implication of DIVINE judgement, so that when we use it we’re actually saying God is judging this part of the church. (Is that right? Will someone perhaps confirm it, please?) I’d agree with Bob as well – the church of Christ in England continues to grow, if not the Church of England (and I said something similar a few days… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

John, it remains to be seen whether yesterday marks a small step forwards. I personally doubt it. It most certainly hasn’t blocked those pursuing schism. They, bishops and CEEC, will be working powerfully behind the scenes, putting pressure on ++Justin and i bodies like the Archbishops’ Council. ++Justin is already under huge pressure, witness his reaction to Robert, and isn’t dealing well with the pressure. The dynamics of the magisterium do not augur well for a creative, visionary, healthy Christian Church of England at the moment. The crisis may lead to breakthrough eventually, but the motivation isn’t there among the… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

There is no chance now of the sort of structural differentiation the most vocal orthodox groups were pushing for. If some parishes are moved out from existing dioceses into new, non-geographical dioceses in a new province then several existing dioceses cease to be financially viable, perhaps even a majority of dioceses. The safeguarding vote demonstrated that diocesan bishops won’t countenance anything which reduces their power so they will block any proposal like that even if clergy and laity could be persuaded somehow. ++Justin has his flaws but I suspect he is well aware that he is stuck between the pressure… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate Keates
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Kate, I broadly agree with your analysis and do so from a conservative perspective.

I would observe that even if Synod is now trapped in setting cement for the foreseeable future – the church is not and the future for 12,000 parishes is far from promising.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

“If some parishes are moved out from existing dioceses into new, non-geographical dioceses in a new province then several existing dioceses cease to be financially viable, perhaps even a majority of dioceses.” Your comment would suggest that those who hold to the Church of England’s current teaching on marriage are essential to the survival of the Church of England. Yet Synod couldn’t bring itself to support an amendment that merely asked GS to acknowledge the views of those who hold to the current teaching on marriage. The bishops seem to be saying we want your money but not your views… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Bob
1 month ago

Just as they expect LGBT people to believe the apologies for our treatment while expecting us to accept that the same discrimination will continue in some parishes.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
1 month ago

Colin – I can only say that that was how I chose to interpret it – my wife says I am notoriously a pessimist, always seeing the dark side. So, please, can I be allowed a very tiny ray of optimism? A friend of mine at church knows Justin Welby personally – he says that he is very unwell due to the strain he is under, and I’m genuinely sorry for him as a fellow person, never mind a brother in Christ. I pray for him regularly on that basis. Certainly, what we are seeing over this is not only… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

I note the concern regarding the Archbishop’s health; ++Justin looked and sounded very tired and weary at GS online and I felt quite sad for him. He became 68 this year and has been in role for over ten years. His predecessors have served (survived?) similar terms of office and retired at a similar, if not younger age. I sense he may be ‘soldiering on’, not wishing ‘the church’ to die under his charge, like many an aging churchwarden or congregant. GS is ‘finding its feet’ and its voice. + Alan Wilson died ‘in service’. Can Justin be allowed to… Read more »

mark cooper
mark cooper
1 month ago

Do the C of E expect clergy in heterosexual relationships to marry before ordination?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  mark cooper
1 month ago

It expects them to be chaste throughout their lives. If they are not chaste – within or outside of marriage – they commit a grave wrong by offering themselves for ordination.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

There’s formal expectation and then there’s real-world expectation.
Everyone knows that in the real world, the answer to marc cooper’s question is “Are you kidding? The number of candidates for priesthood would drop even lower if we did!”
So, for some officially morally-uptight bishops, clergy and others, it’s a wink and a nod for heterosexual candidates and unrealistic demands for GLBT ones or they face public hellfire and brimstone..

mark cooper
mark cooper
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

My question was based on the fact I had found out it was the case in another dinomination so I wondered if this was a common thig

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Would you say the same of an ordinand who had an anger management problem or who was sexist or racist?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Charles Read
1 month ago

Yes

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  mark cooper
1 month ago

Certainly not! As an ordinand I was asked to give a silly suffragan bishop a vow of celibacy. I said that I would be delighted to do so if he could solemnly promise that he required a similar vow of straight unmarried ordinands. There was no more talk of celibacy after that.

We must also remind ourselves that Archbishop Sentamu when asked about the domestic arrangements of the then unmarried Prince and Princess of Wales said “no one buys a cow without first tasting its milk”.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 month ago

Someone said something similar – about trying out a horse before you bought it – to John Wesley. A very practical attitude, indeed, but not one which is particularly complimentary (or PC) when applied to human beings!

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  mark cooper
1 month ago

Mark I think your apparently innocent question reveals the hypocrisy and double standards. I think even conservative evangelicals would admit that sex will happen outside marriage. But it is the direction of travel that matters. We all sin after all and a bit of extramarital sex on the way to marriage can be forgiven. But for same sex couples a Church of England marriage can never be the end result. A “blessing” is the very most they can hope for. And what does this mean ? It means means that even if you are a “liberal” you think that same… Read more »

Neil J
Neil J
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

“Admit that it happens” is very different from approve that it happens. I know TA readers love to fling the charge of hypocrisy at conservative evangelicals over pre-marital sex and divorce, but it doesn’t stick. I’ve been a member of 8 conservative evangelical churches in my life and most of my friends are vicars of many more. All would ensure no-one living unmarried with a boyfriend or girlfriend takes any sort of leadership role, even a home group or Sunday school. Some would go further and excommunicate someone in that position (after due process, time to discuss etc..) Certainly none… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Neil J
1 month ago

It all sounds so terribly suffocating, life-denying and utterly boring!

Neil J
Neil J
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

But Fr David, your most frequent complaint about evangelicals on this site is that we grin or smile or are happy. So surely suffocating, life-denying and boring is what you would prefer! It feels like we can’t win!

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Neil J
1 month ago

And without cameras in the bedrooms of all their parishioners, how do they know what is happening?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Neil J
1 month ago

Am I right in thinking that excommunication requires the involvement of the Ordinary? What do bishops say to conevo clergy asking to excommunicate parishioners for premarital hanky panky? Given the horrible things human beings are capable of doing to each other l wouldn’t include adult consensual love making in that. Although I know it to be the case, I still don’t understand why conevos obsess about boy meets girl, girl meets girl and boy meets boy. There’s something ludicrous about these men (for they almost always are men) clutching their pearls about frisky young people and not so young people.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Neil J
1 month ago

I had a friend in a ConEvo church whose daughter and boyfriend married just after their 18th birthday so they could have sex within the guidelines. The marriage was much against the advice of both sets of parents (also ConEvo). The happy couple divorced after four years. It is my understanding that young marriage and young divorce following this pattern is not unusual in these churches. It’s an interesting moral quandary. Sex outside marriage and divorce are both against Christian teaching. Is it better to marry early to avoid sex outside marriage, but have a high risk of divorce? Or… Read more »

Mark
Mark
Reply to  mark cooper
1 month ago

I have seen with my own eyes the visible relief on the faces of those running an ordination course when one of the ordinands “came out” as living with his girlfriend – they were just so relieved that he wasn’t gay (and therefore a potential “problem” for them).

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark
Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  mark cooper
1 month ago

Some bishops do and others do not – I have taught several ordinands who have been encouraged to marry their partners but none were told outright they would not be ordained if they did not, as far as I know.

Baptist Trainfan
Baptist Trainfan
1 month ago

Jeremy Pemberton says, “there is a pre-missionary task of enormous importance for the Church of England”. He’s dead right – but it’s surely a task for all churches, working together and sharing their strengths? Having said that, might I suggest that, in some quarters of the CofE at least, there is still a feeling that “Britain is a Christian country” when in fact, as Jeremy rightly says, there is widespread ignorance and indifference to religion and general and Christianity in particular. Maybe the Nonconformists have stopped clinging to this straw of hope more than the Anglicans, still buoyed up by… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
1 month ago

Considering that lay membership of GS is well known to be unrepresentative of parish level views, and in many dioceses has been to a large extent hijacked by the two extremes, I find the 42% GS figure in favour of moves towards structured provisions to be a massive failure. That said, I have no doubt that the illiberals will get their way in the end, albeit it will be a pyrrhic victory because it will leave what is left of the CofE looking like a fringe sect with little or no relevance to the average citizen of the UK.

Nic T
Nic T
Reply to  Francis James
1 month ago

The composition of Synod feels very different to the “real” church on the ground. I acknowledge that every diocese is different, but having returned from Synod back to delightful Bath & Wells I get no sense of 43% of parishioners or clergy feeling in desperate need of legally enforceable structural provision. Even those who do not support the Prayers of Love and Faith, and they are a small if vocal minority in these parts, are usually content when it is explained that the PLF will only happen in those places where priest and PCC agree, and that everyone is agreed… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Nic T
1 month ago

I’m afraid whatever the statistics, I find the logic of this significance thinking troubling. If democratic governance exists in the C of E (big question, but let’s assume for a minute that it does…), when a motion or amendment is voted on, it either passes or falls. If it falls, it falls.

To say Synod should take note (and presumably act on) of a motion or amendment that fell, logically then means Synod should take note of and act on every other motion or amendment that fell, on every side of every debate. That would inevitably render democratic governance unworkable.

Last edited 1 month ago by Realist
Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Realist
1 month ago

This Synod passed no motions relating to LLF. While it is tempting to read something into the votes for an amendment care is needed because people may have voted for the amendment to make the motion itself harder to pass. Votes can be tactical.

Nic T
Nic T
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I can assure you, in this instance those voting on the amendment against structural provision were doing so because they oppose structural provision, those voting in favour of the amendment were doing so because they support it.

Nic T
Nic T
Reply to  Realist
1 month ago

It is true that amendments that fall are not then voted on in the final motion, and so an amendment which has not received enough votes to pass should not be given as much weight as a final motion which has. However, it does give some indication of what would have happened had something regarding structural provision been brought as a main motion. At present we have had two main motions, both subtly amended, passed by General Synod with regard to LLF. None contained reference to structural provision, although the tacit acceptance of the papers in November did give some… Read more »

Realist
Realist
1 month ago

The Bishop of Manchester gave a splendid speech today in the House of Lords, praising the College of Policing in finally introducing a duty of candour, and calling for it to be extended across public bodies. He quoted Bishop James Jones’ Report on Hillsborough, in which he called the appalling obfuscation and abusive lying that went on from public bodies a ‘patronising disposition of unaccountable power’. +Manchester briefly gave a nod to the Church’s failings, saying the Church does not always get it right – which is more of an admission than many have managed. But his obvious sincerity grated… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Realist
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Realist
1 month ago

From what I have read the Synod appears to have been the triumph of the status quo, and the organisers have probably left with a spring in their step… the small buds of dissent have been frosted, injustice prevails , the hierarchy remains in power .
I often read TS Eliot’s ‘Ash Wednesday’ at the start of Lent as Eliot has rediscovered his faith. Opening up my battered Complete Works, unfortunately Synod seemed more in the vein of the famous line in ‘Sweeney Agonistes’- ‘birth, copulation and death’ – all emphasis on copulation …. ‘You’d be bored’- and how.

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Yes, I know what you mean. I’m not a great one for poetry, but it all feels to me like a rather perverse version of ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’, where the chocolate box image is strictly imposed, and everything that threatens it is systematically and ruthlessly eradicated. The trouble is, like all glittering images (cue Susan Howatch….) there is so much more, and usually far less appealing, that lies subsumed underneath…

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 month ago

“triumph of the status quo” seems to me to be a pithily accurate summation of this Synod.

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

Conservatives and progressives can and will make common cause. They were united this week in deciding that General Synod is as much a part of the problem as it may be part of the solution. Nobody is waiting breathlessly for a handful of “representatives” to now take the reins and decide what happens next – behind closed doors on a GS residential, or anywhere else. Decisions are being made across the country at the level of the parish and the congregation. The sum of these decisions will determine what happens next. GS has lost all authority and will now follow… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

GS only ever follows but don’t expect the House of Bishops to be passive if parishes rebel against their authority.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

I agree with you regarding the bishops and their authority.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter
Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
1 month ago

We are told that for traditionalists the same sex issue (or rather the Biblical interpretation question behind it) is so important that, on this, they cannot simply ‘agree to disagree’. But no matter how important the issue, does anything alter the logic that to allow freedom of conscience is the only way for one side not to impose its will on the other side? If the answer’s “yes”, let’s hear it. If the answer’s “no”, doesn’t that resolve the issue? And those who cannot accept the change may choose to leave, just as some who cannot accept the lack of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Jones
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

The “nobody has to conduct these services” riposte is entirely without merit.

Clergy can never be asked to act against their conscience.

Acknowledging that fact is no more of an accommodation than graciously conceding that clergy may breathe the air around them.

A settlement would require both sides to do something they find difficult and costly. It probably will not happen. The idea that freedom of conscience is the “compromise” is a fallacy that helps nobody.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Under the present proposals there will be churches which not only don’t welcome same sex couples (and probably people like me who have transitioned) but are actively hostile to them. Accepting that is difficult and, for those affected, very costly.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Exactly the same cost is faced by those who oppose the changes you seek. We face the prospect of knowing that harmful teaching is being given to many people in churches which have changed the Gospel. The impact on those affected is going to be grievous.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Um – I believe the Gospel Jesus proclaimed in Mark 1.14-20: the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, believe in the good news, and follow Jesus. How exactly have I ‘changed the Gospel’?

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Hello again, Peter. I don’t see that you’ve give any reasoning to support your statement that ‘the “nobody has to conduct these services” riposte is entirely without merit.’ You state it and then change the subject.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

The statement just notes the reality of the position in regard to clergy. It is not a concession. It is not an accommodation. It does not involve or require any sacrifice or generosity of spirit from anybody. In your own comment – to which I was responding – you implied it should be a resolution to the issue. You do not resolve a disagreement by doing nothing ! If progressives want a resolution – which they may not – they will need to actually do something. Observing that clergy cannot be required to act against their conscience is not doing… Read more »

Rosalind R
Rosalind R
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

It does matter to be clear that clergy do not have to conduct the PLF services, just as they are free to refuse to marry a couple where one or both are divorced with a living ex-spouse. At the moment, despite the assertion that this is meaningless, clergy do not always have this sort of choice. For example, clergy may not refuse to marry a heterosexual couple living in the parish if neither has been previously married, however anxious they might be about the long term prospects of the union (Yes, there are potential limitations linked to nationality etc) So… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rosalind R
1 month ago

You are conflating entirely different categories !

A heterosexual couple neither of whom have been previously married is not a contested category. It really is not.

The problem is the set of circumstances which are contested.

Rosalind R
Rosalind R
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

The point I was trying to make is that the statement “ clergy cannot be required to act against their consciences” is not as clear cut as you seem to think in all circumstances. There may well be heterosexual couples where clergy are uncomfortable taking the marriage ( neither of the couple having been married before) but C of E clergy are required to do so. Perhaps better not to be able to make judgements but there is no choice. I was only mentioning those previously married to be clear that clergy can act according to conscience in these contexts.… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rosalind R
1 month ago

In my diocese (Edmonton, Alberta), when I was a parish priest, I had freedom not to officiate at a wedding when to do so would be against my conscience. I did not, however, have freedom to block the wedding being done in my church.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Tim, in the Church of England the parish churches do not belong to the bishops and they certainly do not belong to General Synod !

The legal position is that there is no clarity as to who does own the church estate.

A handful of votes in General Synod is not going to have anybody abandoning the building because somebody wants the place

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
1 month ago

Two elephants in the room… 1. It’s well known that as people mature they get less black and white in their thinking- more certain about a few core things and less certain about multiple peripheral issues. (However, once you’ve nailed your colours to any particular mast it’s hard later publicly to admit that you were wrong.) 2. There’s something even more fundamental than either trusting scripture or being faithful to Christian tradition, and that is the wholehearted seeking of truth. If you say that scripture or tradition is the final word on anything then you haven’t grasped this point yet,… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

If you think you are engaged in a wholehearted search for the truth you – along with everybody else who thinks that way – are deluding yourself.

Christianity is Revelation to people who are doing the very opposite. They are rejecting and hiding from the truth.

For the avoidance of doubt, there are not some people doing that, whilst other sensible people are seeking the truth.

Every person who has ever lived will by their nature run from the truth in Christ – not go looking for it.

FrDavid is
FrDavid is
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

“Revelation” is a human construct. Much of what you say is based upon delusion where everyone except yourself is wrong.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid is
1 month ago

‘“Revelation” is a human construct.’

I think Jesus disagrees.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  FrDavid is
1 month ago

I think you need to fix your name suffix from “is” to “H”

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
1 month ago

Thank you

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

“Every person who has ever lived will by their nature run from the truth in Christ – not go looking for it.”

Are you thus saying that humans are, by their very nature and from birth, sinful and evil?

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 month ago

It’s called the doctrine of original sin. I can assure you it is not my personal invention.

There is a distinction between sin and evil, but I am not convinced that is your main point of confusion.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

The issue re Original Sin ( in the western theological tradition), it is different with the eastern Orthodox), is whether the the image of God in humankind is defaced or effaced.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I knew what you were referencing, but I thought it was an outmoded idea, even among evangelicals. Apparently I was wrong.

Do you then believe that even very young children, far under the age of reason (whatever that may be), are inherently sinful? That people who have never been exposed to Judaeo-Christian teaching are condemned to a life of sin, never to be redeemed?

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Maybe what you wrote makes sense to you, and you believe that you have all the answers, but this simple sailor is not at all convinced.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

‘Every person who has ever lived will by their nature run from the truth in Christ – not go looking for it.’ Sorry – that may be John Calvin’s (and Karl Barth’s) doctrine, but it is not my experience after 40+ years of parish ministry. C.S. Lewis has much insightful reflection on this subject, as does his mentor George MacDonald. I think it’s truer to say that within ourselves, most of us probably find both a sincere seeker after truth who finds it joyfully in Jesus, and an evader of the truth who would rather cling to the world as… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Tim,

Romans 1 is the authority – not Calvin or Barth

Peter

Tony Phelan
Tony Phelan
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Or we might appeal to Ecclesiastes 3.11 and eternity in human hearts, or Augustine recognising that we have been made for God and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God. And elsewhere in the Wisdom tradition – Proverbs 8 that came up in the lectionary recently where the divine Widom delights in human creatures and the marvellous chapter (24) in Sirach.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I remain astonished that so many evangelicals base their theology on the epistles rather than the Gospel, it’s as if they never heard the Sermon on the Mount.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

You’d think we were living in a full-throated 19th century Modernity, but fortunately its objectivist assumptions have been laid bare by philosophers and theologians alike for at least a half a century. “Enlightenment” is no longer a univocal nor a self-evident thing. Philosophers as distinct as Wittgenstein, Taylor, MacIntyre, Thistleton all agree on this point.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I’m not particularly knowledgeable about postmodernity, I am just trying to point out that somewhere around the 17th/18th century Europeans realised that trusting tradition or scripture was not a route to discovering what is true and something epistemologically shifted. The result was modern science which proved more effective at putting man on the moon and developing vaccines than both the Bible and the traditions of the church ever were! (I put it like that rather than say it yielded truth in order to try to head off a pointless discussion about philosophy which most people cannot join in with.) It… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

The idea that modern science blossomed as religious irrationality was slain is a myth.

The proposition that the physical world is explicable is a fundamentally biblical belief.

The term “Enlightenment” is an example of a historic oxymoron. It purports to be a time when people escaped from ignorance and superstition associated with religion.

In fact, the developments that occurred during that time would have been literally inconceivable (They could not have been imagined) without christianity.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

I simply do not understand this logic. Scripture isn’t an irrational book. The wisest minds in their ages, in the natural sciences as well as in Letters (Origen, Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, Bellermine, Erasmus, Calvin, Hooker, Paul Riceour, Rene Girard, Nicolas Wolterstoff, Hans Frei) saw no distinction between high rationality and the rationality of Sacred Scripture. Probably the most generative turn in Theology and Biblical Studies today is The History of Biblical Interpretation, heralded by the monumental studies of Henri du Lubac, Jean Danielou, Henri Crouzel and others. A certain humility thankfully arose in the wake of 2 World Wars and… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Anglican Priest
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

“Scripture isn’t an irrational book.” Agreed. It is non-rational largely. A story book. To get something of a handle on this, albeit imperfect, let’s look at the Canadian campaign in Italy during WWII. The First link takes us to history ( with a specific perspectivism). I’ve actually talked in depth to veterans (eye witnesses). Something NT scholars cannot do. lol. The second is a non-rational presentation of the same.

historical narrative with perspectivism:

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/italian-campaign

non-rational ‘history’:

https://www.silverhawkauthor.com/post/canadian-war-artists-second-world-war#:~:text=Captain%20C.F.,as%20an%20official%20war%20artist.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Thanks. I have spent my entire professional life reading the history of ideas in the context of biblical studies and hermeneutics.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Thanks. I know. I respect your academic credentials; but I disagree with your philosophical présuppositions. And, as should be obvious, I am very concerned over the policy and pastoral consequences that result from conservative exegesis in general.

Prof C SEITZ
Prof C SEITZ
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I hope this concern you have will be assuaged. I doubt I belong to tribes you like to categorize. Peter Enns and his interlocutors are not company I know well or associate with.

As for my “philosophical présuppositions” — you’d have to read my works to know what they are.

Blogs are great for broad brush “the Bible is story.”



Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Prof C SEITZ
1 month ago

Fair enough. But I think we can glean enough from local TA chatter with regard to the sweep of our respective philosophical presumptions and assumptions. But yes, we would have to drag the library down. Blogs can be the land of amygdala where from time to time we all morph into an uncle Screwtape.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

I can’t remember anyone here claiming that scripture and tradition are more effective that science at developing vaccines or space travel.

I would point out, however, that science was very effective at developing an atomic bomb, but completely ineffective at developing a moral framework for its use or non-use.

Nigel Jones
Nigel Jones
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Yes, modern science emerged in the context of Christianity which may indeed in some ways have have helped this to happen. I also agree that science alone does not deliver moral guidelines- for that we need the difficult wrestling and messy struggle of religion and tradition, experience and reason, doing our best to discern what we value and how best to promote it. But on both these points, a certain freedom and flexibility with the so-called “revelation” is needed. E.g. when you discover dinosaur fossils or the microwave background radiation and the facts lead you to the conclusion that the… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

You talked about ‘the irrational and entirely unjustified starting point of scripture and/or tradition.’ I don’t see why I can’t start from scripture and tradition, and still welcome the learnings and insights of science. I think that’s the approach John Polkinghorne takes in his books, and I don’t think anyone questions his credentials either as a scientist or a theologian.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Nigel Jones
1 month ago

Bravo Zulu on your second point. We know the past, to the extent that we know about it at all, only by analogy which is to say we know it by reason. The notion of revelation obscures the pursuit of critical history. It is important not to make the mistake of thinking that a cohort of conservative evangelicals who are the current inheritors of fundamentalism are not skilled and educated. They often are. ( I once had a medically trained professional and ‘bible believer’ tell me that Michelangelo’s big mistake was depicting Adam with a navel). There is a sector… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Rod, could I ask a favour of you? Your posts are often dense. Could you possibly paragraph them for clarity? Thank you.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Sure thing Tim, that is helpful, I will try and remember that. I have attached a link to an interview from, The Bible For Normal People, an interview with Christopher Hays done by academic Peter Enns. At the top of the piece Enns writes: ” an alternate evangelical approach to biblical scholarship, one marked by faithful criticism and critical faith.” “An alternative evangelical approach”? “faithful criticism”? this is all very concerning. The interview itself is a representative sample of the kind of thing I’m identifying in my reply to Nigel Jones, the premise of which I disagree with completely on… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I quite enjoyed that article; thanks, Rod. I like a lot of Peter Enns’ work.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Obviously I have a very different take on it. Lol. The same debate over historical criticism and critical history in general is taking place in Roman Catholic circles as well. Has been for some time. There the issues revolve around the relationship between historical investigation and the parameters set by Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943) and Dei Verbum from Vatican II. I gather the R.C. debate regarding critical historical investigation has been broadened to include tradition as well. Increasingly, as the churches in western liberal democracies especially are confronted with an empirical understanding of culture, the tendency is to retreat, retrench… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Last para., 2nd sentence, should read: ” Regrettably it has not been moved beyond the margins. ” My bad.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Rod, have you read Nick Spencer’s new book ‘Magisteria’, on the history of the relationship between religion and science? It’s quite brilliant, I think.

https://a.co/d/fSJhocx

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

Thanks for the paragraphs!!!

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

lol !. Thanks for the tip to the Nick Spencer book. I’ll look for it. It checked out his columns at The Guardian. I have just listened to Spencer’s interview with philosopher Daniel Dennett. Great interview, not only because Dennett is inherently interesting but because Spencer asks really good informed questions. I’ve attached a link for anyone who may not have heard it.

Tks!

https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/comment/2023/11/14/what-makes-a-philosophical-mind-in-conversation-with-dan-dennett

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

You are creating an intellectual edifice that is pure invention.

Post enlightenment philosophy and the rest you mention is no more devastating than any other bag load of ideas.

Some of it makes sense and is interesting. Most of it is intellectual dross that will burn off within a generation.

If I have to, I will endure the label “fundamentalist”. To describe people like me as “reactionary” is to flatter the conceit of shallow intellectualism

The stuff is just not clever, Rod

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

And lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from being thought not clever ( at least by those who think they are )….

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Peter – I am hugely confused by your unsystematic assertions. Has there not been a major shift in functional epistemology – in which understanding of/knowledge of the world comes from observation (science) rather than revelation (scripture)? One could of course take that back to the garden, where it was the forbidden fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil which gave human beings a locus of knowing other than direct from God. It is suggested that knowing in that way was not the plan, but it is never suggested that the knowledge thereby acquired is not true. However… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 month ago

My comment to Rod was addressing the notion that a bag load of recent ideas have been “absolutely devastating” for historic belief.

That is pure hubris.

Your point on epistemology is a different matter. You are creating a false choice.

The problem is that a comment is made often in response to a prior comment but is then treated in isolation

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

I would add. The idea that a complicated book with probably a dozen different genres I can name off the top of my head (law code, epistle, antique biography, parenetic address, historical chronicle–Kings or Acts, eg., vision, prophetic address, novella, saga, priestly instruction, prayer, didactic report, and the list goes on) could be reduced to a single “thing” like “story,” is not intellectually seriously. At certain points whimsy begins to look like laziness. RG is a bright man. The Bible is a “story book” isn’t serious interpretation, but an effort to flatten or to be clever.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

The notion of “critical” as a universal category always strikes me as odd.

All analysis should be critical, just as narrative should be clear and fluent.

Rod seems to see Critical as a form of epistemology which mystifies me. I sense the dismal influence of Foucault !

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

It is usually my call not to engage with ‘Peter’ whoever ‘Peter’ is. However, just so folks know I am in the room when being talked about, lol, here is another short snapper. There is no secular history. There is no salvation history. There is only history. You are correct that ‘story book’ is not a serious interpretation. In fact it is not an interpretation at all. It is a short hand for zooming out macroscopically. Description without explanation.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

You refer to me personally, so I will take the liberty of responding.

You infer there is no merit in engaging with my comments, which is obviously your prerogative .

My general point is that your analysis attributes a defensiveness to orthodoxy which it neither displays nor needs.

I will assume you consider that point to be of no merit.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Rod Gillis
1 month ago

I agree it is not interpretation at all. It is a pointless reduction. A “snapper.”

Vasantha
Vasantha
1 month ago

For information: ‘Introducing Church Times Month’ is on offer this month. CT has removed its Paywall for the whole of March

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Vasantha
1 month ago

Many thanks Vasantha – very helpful.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Vasantha
1 month ago

Thanks!

Pilgrim
Pilgrim
Reply to  Vasantha
1 month ago

Vasantha, Thank you, much appreciated.

Rowland P
Rowland P
1 month ago

The Church of England is now so tiny that this in house argument is looking more and more ridiculous. Every year it doesn’t do good separation, it shrinks. The rest of the country ignores it.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Rowland P
1 month ago

I think this needs constantly to be said. It is as though wrangling about the authority of scripture is a way to move to a topic other than the severe decline and its reality. The debate also shows how terribly incoherent is the theological and scriptural terrain facing the Church of England and its confreres elsewhere. The Bible is a Story Book. Revelation is a human construct. Original Sin is a fiction. The list goes on. Anyone genuinely interested in the Christian Faith would read a column like this and conclude that there simply isn’t sufficient coherence for one to… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

The general population ignores the Church and probably regards the Bible as a “fairy tale”. Evangelicals claiming the supremacy of Scripture is as relevant as Santa Claus and the fairies at the bottom of the garden. The shift to evangelicalism in recent years has only hastened the Church’s decline as it confirms the popular view the Bible is a story book written by a Sky Fairy.

Last edited 1 month ago by FrDavid H
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

You know, I could easily rewrite this comment about my own country; it would go something like this: ‘The general population ignores the Church and probably regards the idea of wine and wafers being the body and blood of Christ as superstitious, meaningless nonsense. Anglo-Catholics claiming that bishops ordained in the ‘apostolic succession’ are essential to the life of a true church are as relevant as Santa Claus and the fairies at the bottom of the garden (that one might need a little more work as no one I know in Canada has ever heard of fairies at the bottom… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Tim Chesterton
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

(that one might need a little more work as no one I know in Canada has ever heard of fairies at the bottom of the garden)”

At least one very eminent Canadian comedienne knew about them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVo3dphCtJE&t=209s (with Ed Sullivan).

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Froghole
1 month ago

I note that her father was Irish and she basically lived in three places – the UK, Canada, and the USA.

Anyway, since Bea Lillie does not fall into the category of ‘anyone I know in Canada’, I stand by my statement!

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

I must say, the clarity with which you speak is extremely helpful. The Bible is a “fairy tale” — and this is what you hold England now believes.

Best wishes. May the Sky Fairy be with you!

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Many thanks.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

Rowland overstates the irrelevance of orthodoxy in the Church of England. I belong to the orthodox grouping of one Diocese. We have around fifty orthodox clergy involved. There are forty two Dioceses. If you take the Alliance as your frame of reference there are well over a thousand congregations which have already joined the orthodox camp. That number will double or treble within five years. It is not tiny. It is certainly not ridiculous. You are certainly right in your own comments about the general chaos over doctrine, but the orthodox presence within the Church of England is a force… Read more »

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

Thank you. I was not disputing the robust character of a traditional Christianity that has for many decades been pushed to the side in TEC and ACoC. Tim’s comment above comes alongside that. The notion that getting everyone on board with the idea that the Bible is a Fairy Tale, is both necessary, and capable of reversing the death trend, is part of the death trend. I frankly don’t understand the cavalier way this sentiment is bandied about, faced with the seriousness of decline. Theological and doctrinal incoherence–“Anglicans love a mess”–is not attractive in the least. Except for those who… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I would hate to confirm the widespread view that the Bible is a Fairy Tale, or belong to a church which promotes such nonsense. Unfortunately the image of the CofE isn’t helped by a large constituency which suggests the whole Bible is “God breathed”, claiming support for their conservative prejudices by quoting verses at people.
,

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

What percentage of the CofE parishes do you represent, who believe the Bible is a Fairy Tale, and things like Original Sin must be expunged. Are you genuinely representative of a big bloc of Fr David type parishes, or are you just indulging your animosities? Classical Anglicanism does not hold the Bible to be a Fairy Tale nor does it set itself against basic catechetical beliefs of the church Catholic.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

I originally wrote above ” the general population probably regards the Bible as a fairy tale”. That’s not the same as “parishes ” or Classical Anglicanism holding that erroneous belief. Nor have I said Original Sin should be expunged.

Anglican Priest
Anglican Priest
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 month ago

Or, probably doesn’t. Unless coached and encouraged. “Revelation” is a made up idea. “Inspiration” as well. Two things the Bible foregrounds and which makes it what it is. I’m still curious what percentage of CofE churches you believe hold your views.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anglican Priest
1 month ago

It is, as you say, entirely possible.

The struggle is for the uncertain “middle”. The people who are uncommitted to either SSM or orthodoxy.

It will not be the a pretty sight.

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