on Wednesday, 31 August 2022 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Stephen Bates The New European The Church of England: Has it got a prayer?
David Ison ViaMedia.News Two Things Which Really Matter
Dean Ison writes
the narrative of ‘scientism’ (that the universe, however amazing, is meaningless) undermines spiritual as well as mental health and reasonable faith, leading to superstition and extremism
This line of thought certainly exists, and I agree that it has those effects. But why call it “scientism”, as if it had something to do with science? It has a perfectly good name, which is nihilism.
Science is based on the rather audacious premise that the universe makes sense, and indeed is amenable to human reason. That’s thoroughly compatible with Christian belief.
Well said. Dean Ison totally misconstrues science. Whether the Universe has “meaning” science is neutral on. “Meaning” in this context is totally outside the scope of science. It reminds me of a scene in the movie and the novel written by Carl Sagan titled “Contact”, A US Senate committee is questioning a potential candidate for a space mission, allegedly to judge the candidate’s fitness for the mission. The candidate is an agnostic and a well-known scientist. A senator asks the candidate whether the candidate believes in God (the committee chairperson should have ruled the question immaterial and irrelevant, but that… Read more »
It is thoroughly reasonable for science to show that the universe is totally meaningless and that any ‘sense’ is imposed upon it by us.
Even if that were a valid possibility (and for reasons I won’t go into immediately, I think it is not) it would not entail identifying “scientism” with “nihilism”.
I think there is a very different counter narrative emerging to the one Stephen Bates describes. I’ve checked the tea leaves so here goes. The hope of authorised blessings and weddings for all won’t have the votes in General Synod. Many people are going to face the hard choice of whether to be part of a conservative leaning Church of England. Coupled with the conservative votes on the current CNC this stance will be embedded further in the House of Bishops. Once JW retires, or perhaps before, it won’t be long before a diocesan bishop allied to ‘Save the Parish’… Read more »
I imagine those appointed as diocesans over the next 5 years will come from the ranks of the present suffragans ( or possibly the odd Dean) so I doubt if we will see a major shift. Any changes following LLF may well fail in synod but I suspect at the local level things will continue much as they are. I haven’t heard of any sackings or licence revoking. Yes those seeking a more progressive stance will be fed up but the C of Is too diverse to suddenly become more conservative or indeed much anything, it is increasingly congregational. Except… Read more »
From Dean Ison’s essay:
“I’ve never understood the emphasis in the Church of England’s ordination services on
‘proclaiming’ the gospel, as if it were passed on by megaphone.”
I am reminded of the advice attributed to Francis of Assisi (perhaps spuriously): “Preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary.”
Jesus apparently used a lot of words in his ministry. Once, when he was asked to stay longer in one spot to hear more people, he said he had to go to other places to proclaim the kingdom of God.
I get the emphasis on actions, but there’s no need to make words optional. Jesus never does that.
Since Jesus’s story in the Gospels is told in prose, it’s hard to know what actions he took that didn’t come with spoken words. Did he simply walk into a tavern in a poor part of town and pay for everyone’s food? Did he give his cloak to a man shivering with cold? And who says that, in the case you cite, “proclaim the kingdom of God” didn’t mean simply sitting down and eating with the destitute and neglected?
Well, we can speculate all we want, but (a) there is no record of Jesus ever walking into a tavern and paying for everyone’s food (when he needed a coin to illustrate a parable, he had to borrow it from someone else) and (b) there is a lot of verbal proclamation recorded for us in the gospels, which would seem to indicate that Jesus didn’t think it was optional. We’re also told that when he commissioned the disciples he ‘gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom… Read more »
Thank you Pat. Well said.
It’s easy to read the Gospels for what they contain and be blind to the lacunae.
‘its easy to read the Gospels for what they contain’ – surely the only reason they are the Gospels is because of what they contain? As Tim says, we can all speculate about what the Gospels omit/don’t contain, but that speculation is entirely fuelled by the imagination of the individual. There’s no way that those speculations can be accorded the same status as Jesus words and actions.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that what the Gospels (and for that matter the whole of the Bible) contain was selected by fallible human beings–guided (we hope) by the Holy Spirit, but still subject to all the same failings and foibles as the rest of us.
Well, Tim. I love the ‘words’ about Incarnation, where: ‘The Word became FLESH, and dwelt among us. To me, this transforms words into divine action – where human being is even more important than human doing. I think that the Eucharist, par excellence. moves the emphasis from ‘Words in a Book’ (Bible) to Christ’s actual presence in the Eucharist – among his people. Too often. more attention is paid the ‘words about’ Jesus, than the Word himself. who became like us – so that we might become more like Him. When we consume Christ in the sacraments, we become ‘alter… Read more »
The word became flesh and said, ‘the words that i speak are spirit and life’, and spoke about his words abiding in us.
I agree with every word of Stephen Bates’ analysis. What I’m not clear on is why Archbishop Welby is so determined to cling on until he’s 70. He’s blundered from one embarrassing incident to the next. He had a terrible pandemic. I cannot think of one thing that has gone well for him. Is there any evidence to suggest that the royal family would welcome him staying on in case there’s a state funeral and a coronation? If he is minded to go on until the last possible moment I can only think that it is hubris driving him.
One thing the ABC did do well, was his decision to use the indaba method of discussion – rather than the larger chamber discussion, which might well have become incendiary. Interestingly, Pope Francis used the very same method – asking his cardinals to ‘say what they were really thinking’, rather than succumbing to the more restrictive, formal atmosphere of the larger group. Justin’s well-thought plan on this occasion at least prevented the ‘pure and holy brigade’ from the GS./GAFCON faction from taking over the proceedings. This meant that their promotion of Lambeth 1:10 did not get onto the official agenda… Read more »
Indaba was Rowan Williams’s idea, not Justin Welby’s. Remember how he was planning to have “yes” and “yes, but” options for the “Lambeth Calls”?! The recent Lambeth Conference only worked because the voting mechanism was abandoned, which ended up taking the heat out of the issues you name. The political skulduggery continued anyway.
‘I cannot think of one thing that has gone well for him.’ I’ll just suggest one here. And a very major achievement at that. We now have women who are bishops in the CofE. (And who didn’t have a ‘terrible pandemic’ as a matter of interest?)
Members of Forward in Faith ( and some evangelicals) might claim having women bishops is another of Welby’s great mistakes.
We do but hardly on equal terms – his changes to the Canterbury CNC makes the selection of a woman very unlikely.
Of the five extra members from the Communion at least two have to be women. Most women are not opposed to women being equal in ministry, particularly if they are ordained.
Fr DavidH The decision (mistaken or not) to include women in the episcopate (as it was to ordain them) was Synod’s not the Archbishop’s.
Kate The CNC is elected not appointed by the Archbishop.
Nevertheless you seem to suggest that women bishops are “a great achievement” for Mr Welby since it’s”gone well for him”.
I think facilitating a stuck process through synod in a format all sides could support was a great achievement. I offered this as one example of something going well to a contributor who could not think of anything that had for the ABC. I did not say all it has gone well for him. It never does for leaders.
“the current bench of bishops are a cautious, mediocre, uninspiring lot, all growing grey together. ” says Stephen Bates. True. What he doesn’t say is just how inward looking they are too. Where are the bishops raising money, say, for ambulances for the Ukraine – and driving one there (as an RC Cardinal did)? Where are the bishops spending a morning a week helping out at their local food bank? Where are the bishops offering daily prayer livestreamed from their chapel? Actually – where are they – what are they doing for the good of others beyond the church? I wonder… Read more »
Stephen Bates mistakenly defines the parish share as “ the annual financial support owed by each parish to their diocese based on size of congregation”. Parish Share is the amount of money that a parish is asked to contribute. With energy costs rising exponentially and all other costs rising with inflation, many parishes will not be able to pay their parish share in 2022/3 and 2023/4. David Ison’s aversion to telling the good news (aka gospel) of salvation is unlikely to lead to lead to the numerical church growth necessary to arrest the decline of the Church of England. Those… Read more »
I’m not sure quite what you mean by ‘preach the gospel’, Bob. But it’s not the case that preaching and teaching the Bible, or an evangelical ministry (if that’s what you mean) always results in growth. Much depends on factors like the population and social mix of the local area, and what competition there is from other churches. Many a faithful vicar has watched in chagrin as a well-resourced church plant, or a church which has ‘gone charismatic’, leaches their congregation away. And in poorer areas with an unstable population, people often move away just as the preaching of the… Read more »
I was basing my comments on the results of research being done into church growth/decline by churchmodel.org. There are those denominations which are in decline and those that are growing numerically.
Oddly enough, when I try to reach churchmodel.org, I am told the site cannot be reached. And when I search Google for “churchmodel” all that comes up is places selling miniature models of church buildings.
The full web address is churchmodel.org.uk. Presumably it didn’t work in USA without ‘uk’.
Hopefully this will work. https://churchmodel.org.uk/2022/05/15/growth-decline-and-extinction-of-uk-churches/
Thank you. However, this seems to be about denominations rather than individual churches and clergy, so whether or not they ‘preach the gospel’ is far too general a criterion to judge by. The C of E is blessed with preachers of a very broad range of approach and ability, as you will know.
It’s churchmodel.org.uk, and the word ‘research’ is doing a lot of work in your description. Articles by the author behind churchmodel.org.uk- John Hayward- feature on the Anglican Mainstream web site. That doesn’t make him wrong… but that aside I think the method of prediction is way too crude. According to the person behind churchmodel. decline is the fault of ‘progressive ideology’, which is just impossible to state because the data really, really isn’t there to back up such a statement, one way or another. Do we really, in 2022 need to say ‘correlation is not causation’? That denominations with ‘progressive… Read more »
I think that ‘Bums on Seats’ may sometimes be an actual fruit of what its leaders are pleased to call ‘orthodox’ teaching – especially when it involves the sort of cultic ‘Sola Scriptura’ fundamentalist ‘theology’ that encourages leaving more sacramental ‘Tradition’ and the engagement of more balanced, human ‘Reason’ outside of the meeting. What such people seem to downgrade is the amazing fact that ‘The Word’ (Bible?) had to ‘become flesh’ in order to redeem the world (all of it, not just the self-righteous).