Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 8 January 2022

Theo Hobson The Spectator Divided we stand: Anglicans need to agree to disagree

Stewart Clem The Living Church Building for Humans: a primer on Christian Architecture

Mark Hill Law & Religion UK The Great Strasbourg Bake Off

Paul Hackwood Church Times Church faces a stark choice for the future
“The drive towards centralisation is not working. Power must be shifted downwards to parish clergy”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church CDM – A Case Study
Safeguarding. A follow-up account of Church discipline in operation

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
79 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
7 months ago

Excellent, as always, from Theo Hobson, but it’s a shame that the opening sentence contains a convenient factual error. The deepest division in the Church of England is whether women are people or meat pies. It was always a disreputable and malicious argument, totally lacking in theology, and not one I hear much any more, but it lies there beneath the surface of our church structure. If you’re old enough you’ll remember how it goes. ‘You CAN ordain a woman, of course, but you might as well ordain a meat pie. Neither of them will actually be a priest’. Theo… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

Mr Forward, I tend to agree with you that there is an incoherence within the CofE as to the definition of what a priest is. Clearly, you subscribe to a definition whereby women can be priests. Others do not, and it is not based upon misogyny but rather through obedience to a tradition different from yours. The CofE has indeed made a clear decision and I am as bemused as you as to why those who cannot in conscience receive the ordination of women remain. I can only attribute it to an Anglican version of Orthodox or Jewish Phronemata in… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

I think that there are two main points there. You invoke other traditions, other ecclesiologies. These are usually cited as Roman Catholic or Orthodox. Perhaps you mean something different. Many of those I know personally and know of who are opposed to the ordination of women are in long-term same-sex partnerships or marriages. I rejoice in this, and celebrate with them, but that rather disqualifies them from such opposition on the grounds of adherence to a different tradition and authority. I would not consider the reason to be misogynist, but gynophobic in many cases. As for your comparison with the… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

Mr Forward, again what you say is perfectly true. Biological sex and theological ideologies are different but I disagree that the comparison is empty. Does one choose one’s theology or is it something which is believed to be from the Holy Ghost? Is one not convinced to be a Anglo-Catholic by what one is compelled to believe by God? If one’s conscience tells one that the (Anglo-, Roman, Eastern) Catholic ideology is true then one must obey it and there can be no other choice just as there is no choice over one’s biological sex: both are determined externally to… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

I’m going to leave it there, for what I hope are obvious reasons,

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

If people take actions that are misogynistic or homophobic then no amount of claiming “God told me to” is going to change that. It’s not so long ago that Godly folk sincerely believed that black people and white people shouldn’t mix, and that the Bible said so. They were still racist. We wouldn’t countenance priests refusing to allow black priests to robe, preach or celebrate communion.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

Indeed, Jo, people have used the Bible to warp its message to mean terrible things. But in the Catholic mindset, it isn’t just the Bible, it’s how the Bible has been consistently interpreted through the Church Fathers that matters. Again the go-to comparison of the ordination of women is made with race. Is the comparison, in Mr Forward’s words, empty? No it isn’t. Women have been treated as chattels, dismissed, deprived of education. So, yes, the comparison with race is indeed valid. The trouble there would be, as some Orthodox Churches sometimes seem to forget, is that ethnicity is largely… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

I think, what we see here in this whole interchange is the problem endemic in the CofE. Two worldviews each regarding the other as “anti”, “-ist”, “-phobe” etc according to their peculiar moral framework. Positions are judged as “misogynist” based on different understandings of the word. Catholics regard the male-only priesthood as theologically necessary and divinely ordained and therefore morally unacceptable to disrupt. Protestants regard the exclusion of women from the priesthood as an affront to their dignity and thus necessarily misogynist. These are two moral frameworks that see pejoratives flung about often without understanding the other position. It seems… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

‘If the Fife experience justifies the existence of ordained women then the Tooth experience justifies the existence of those opposed.’ I never claimed that the exclusion and prejudice experienced by many ordained women in the C of E justified our ordination. That would be bizarre. I wrote the paragraph quoted above, in response to ‘Peter’ who had claimed that what women suffered (and still suffer) in the Church doesn’t equate to apartheid. Our ordination was and is justified because God led the Church to decide that it was right. Even then there were several decades between General Synod’s decision that… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

Of course, by “Church” here, you mean
CofE, don’t you, Mrs Fife, not the whole Church?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

Of course, this website is ‘Thinking Anglicans’, so that’s what ‘the Church’ refers to here. But it has to be said that Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and other denominations also ordain women. As to your comment above, the evidence is that the early Church did ordain women; it’s only when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire that women’s ordination stopped. We see some evidence of this in the New Testament, where Phoebe is referred to as a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, and Prisca as ‘of note among the apostles’. There are also frescoes in the… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

I am not convinced that this is right, Mrs Fife. The Bauer thesis of multiple “orthodoxies” in the church has been widely shown to be incorrect and the evidence of women in orders either arises from a misinterpretation of ambiguous archaeology or from conflation with the Montanist sects. The biblical reference to Phoebe and Junia(n) are themselves ambiguous and at no point do women explicitly receive the imposition of hands. Further, many describe themselves as Anglican both within and without the Communion and believe that the Church has not so definitively spoken and indeed cannot unless there is another Oecumenical… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
7 months ago

Janet, You simplify my critique in a way that does justice to neither of us. You have clearly suffered treatment by men that is an affront to your personhood and dignity as one made in the image of God. There is an ontological sense in which that does equate to all abuse of people that has taken place, because of the immeasurable worth of the individual. I would wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the defence of your personal dignity in the face of the reprehensible treatment you describe. My criticism of your article was of the… Read more »

Colin Coward
7 months ago

Theo Hobson says the solution to end the dispute over homosexuality is clear enough. “Diversity must be allowed: liberal parishes must be free to conduct gay weddings, evangelical parishes must be allowed to refuse to.” Hobson sometimes feels that the Church was wrong to tolerate dissent on the ordination of women and let the traditionalists have their separate structures. Now he thinks that it was providential because it set a precedent that can belatedly be followed on an even more divisive issue. I disagree. I think the pragmatic arrangements made to tolerate dissent on the ordination of women have enshrined… Read more »

Peter
Peter
7 months ago

Marriages are conducted by clergy rather than parishes. Are you saying clergy must be required to conduct marriages whenever they are asked to do so ?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

They already are in respect of opposite sex couples. It has long been the case in England that if you are resident in the parish you have the right to be married in the parish church.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
7 months ago

So the important thing is the building in which the service is conducted ?

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
Reply to  Jo B
7 months ago

Actually not necessarily true. The right is to be married in your parish church or by demonstrable connection. It is a little different when it comes to saying who has to do the wedding.

Graeme

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Marriages are indeed conducted by clergy, not parishes. Nonetheless, a parish priest officiating at a marriage represents the liturgical integrity of his or her parish. Hence I’ve always felt it odd that, while the priest is allowed to exercise his/her conscience, the laity is not. Changing this could be seen as a matter of justice – even though this could result in a conservative laity preventing a liberal incumbent from conducting certain marriages.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

“…this could result in a conservative laity preventing a liberal incumbent from conducting certain marriages.”

The solution to this is to adopt the TEC method–rather than the diocese or province assigning priests to a parish, let the parish call a priest who fits their needs.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Couples who live in a parish or have a qualifying connection must be allowed to be married in that church. If the vicar won’t marry them (unfortunately there will have to be a conscious clause for the homophobes, as there is for those who won’t marry a divorcee) the bishop must be required to find a priest who will.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anthony Archer
7 months ago

Clergy will never conduct marriage services against their own conscience. Neither wardens nor PCCs nor archdeacons, bishops, archbishops or Synods have the constitutional or theological authority to over rule individual conscience.

Students of the English Reformations will be surprised to see today’s leaders of the Church of England speaking of conscience in the manner adopted by Mr Archer

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
7 months ago

I’m a gay man and care deeply about the issues raised in connection with Theo Hobson’s article; but if no one takes up Canon Hackwood’s suggestions none of these equality issues will matter one jot.

Terry Tee
Terry Tee
7 months ago

Hobson refers to a recent report which concluded that church planting has had little success. I was surprised and have hunted online for this report. Can anyone enlighten me?

Froghole
Froghole
7 months ago

Mr Hackwood is, of course, entirely right to highlight the selective manner in which central funds have been distributed, which might highlight a fundamental misapprehension on the part of the episcopate and the Commissioners about their responsibilities. He is also right to highlight the key issue, which is the maldistribution of wealth between the various tiers of the Church. It seems palpably obvious that the Commissioners have abdicated their responsibilities with the sanction of Synod: they did so in 1995 (when grants for stipends ceased), and in 1998 when they sloughed off future pension accruals. However, deeper history shows that… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

I think part of the problem is that some management types have lost sight of the corporate governance structure of the church. That ought to be that everything is decided at the most local level possible. You make a compelling argument why finances cannot be devolved to parishes but, for instance, should a parish need to apply for a faculty if they want to make changes to the fabric of a church building?

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

Another way of looking at central -v- local distribution of capital is that smaller units can be inherently more risky (and possibly more risk averse), and may therefore retain more precautionary capital and make lower long-term returns. A recent development in Church Commissioners funding (and indeed in other funding) through vehicles such as the strategic development fund is the move towards “challenge funding” models which require applications to be made and reports to be written, and therefore use some of the limited intangible resources of parishes and disadvantage parishes with limited capacity. Challenge funding tends also to be for a… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
7 months ago

Many thanks. The last annual report (2021) indicated that a sustainability/support fund had been created, at long last. However, that was some time after the Commissioners had *lent* (not granted) support to the dioceses at 2% above base (the base rate being 0.1%). In my experience churches fail because the run out of money, not necessarily always because their congregations wither (the two phenomena are often in lockstep, of course). Take the infamous example of Christ Church Bacup (Lancs) which closed in 2012 in a depressed area. The old church at Bacup (an ancient chapelry serving the township in the… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

There is another, and sadly more likely, problem with devolving finances: lack of ability and skill. Wycliffe Hall (other colleges are available) is not teaching an MBA, and managing the finances of a church, particularly if it is expected to not only operate using revenue but manage capital on a long-term basis, is hard. This is exactly the experience of “academy” schools: even ignoring the malicious and malevolent, there are plenty of schools in which well-meaning, morally upright head teachers and boards of governors managed the school into the ground. Unsurprisingly, the career trajectory of the aspirant head-teacher does not… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Interested Observer
7 months ago

Many thanks for that. As I see it there is a job which can be harder than being incumbent (and often more stressful) which is being parish treasurer. The legal burdens on PCC trustees, and their liabilities, are considerable (https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/legal%20position%20of%20pcc%20members%20final.pdf) and, unlike many regular professional trustees, they invariably perform their services gratis. Of all the trustees, the treasurer gets much the dirtiest end of the stick. The risk to the treasurer is now often being amplified by the creation of sprawling multi-parish benefices with consolidated PCCs. This then, is not only an argument for taking the buildings (the chief overhead,… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Interested Observer
7 months ago

[[ Reply to Froghole; there’s no Reply button on their reply to me. ]]

In 2022, there is a good general rule of thumb for any voluntary role in governance, financial compliance, etc: that anyone qualified and capable of doing it is qualified and capable enough to realise that it’s not safe to do. Therefore, anyone willing to take on such a role is almost by definition not qualified to do it.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Interested Observer
7 months ago

As so often the case, Froghole is spot on. In my three incumbencies the eight treasurers were just as he describes – doing as best they could without training but with considerable demands heaped upon them by diocesan offices. Most were well over 60 and some worked with pen and paper only. Anxiety levels increased year by year, misplaced loyalty doubtless contributing to increasingly furred-up arteries. Similar observations could be made about secretaries. In one parish, the wealthiest of my ministry, I discovered that the longstanding secretary made no notes during meetings but went home to tell her husband what… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
7 months ago

My point about “recouping” is a technical one – the Commissioners now have more assets than they would have done had the “Lovelock losses” not happened and had they made their target return in every year. So they have assets above expectation, even when expectation is set high – whether that was more achievable because their obligations were reduced is perhaps arguable. [I have a spreadsheet which tracks assets and some other figures back to 1998 and is a bit more extensive from 2006 – which were the figures available when I started. Assets at end 1998 were £3.7bn and… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Mark Bennet
7 months ago

Many thanks for that! The reference to £3.5bn is interesting. There is this, which suggests that the Commissioners had recouped their 1988-92 losses within only a few months of the 1997 Measure coming into effect: https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1998/jun/01/assets (note [Sir] Stuart Bell’s reference to £500m, an amount equivalent to the Lovelock losses). I think it is almost certain that the Commissioners’ task of accruing capital has been made immeasurably easier by not having to accrue for prospective pensions (as well as by not having to cover the stipends of parochial clergy), and by no longer having to provide grants for stipends. In… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Mark Bennet
7 months ago

The history is interesting – the Hansard quotations are helpful. I was on the Southwark Diocesan Board of Finance back in the mid 1990s when future pension liabilities were being pushed down to Dioceses, and a challenging time it was. I am sure the 35% figure is right. Just to be clear, my metric in the mid 2010s was unimpaired capital plus a compound return of inflation plus 6% – which the Commissioners exceeded by some margin on their impaired capital base. I was only counting capital above that return o the unimpaired capital as surplus. Recent spending on “mission”… Read more »

Kate
Kate
7 months ago

One of the oldest traditions is that priests should be Jewish and from the tribe of Levi. Oddly traditionalist ‘priests’ in the Church of England don’t tend to promote that particular tradition but rely upon the Epistles saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The modern church regards two limbs of that as unarguable but continues to differentiate between men and women in terms of ordination and the marriage of couples according to their sex. It’s hypocritical, an obvious barrier to growing the church, and plainly… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Well, to be fair, Kate, most Traditionalists take their model of priesthood from Melchisadec rather than Levi, as per the Letter to the Hebrews.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

Which sets up Jesus as the eternal priest-king / high priest with no continuing need for priests.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

And yet St Ignatius of Antioch speaks about an established pattern of bishop/priest/deacon in the early second century. I guess his is a different interpretation of Scripture from the Evangelical point of view.

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

I’d always taken Ig of Ant’s stuff about the episcopate and so on as promoting a system still not universally acknowledged, not as an affirmation of existing catholic practice, but it’s so long since I read the epistles in question I can’t even remember where the Trallians hung out. Any patristic types out there with more up-to-date insights into IofA’s corpus?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

For some reason there is currently no option to reply to David Rowett’s question to you, but Wikipedia provides this potted history which supports what you say:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatius_of_Antioch

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

This is where the word “priest” is confusing as it has two entirely different meanings. In English the actual word “priest” derives via Latin from the Greek “presbyteros”, meaning “elder”, and translates the New Testament tradition of the leaders being the elders of the Christian group. But we also use the word “priest” to translate the Latin “sacerdos” / Greek “hiereus”, which is the word used in the Old Testament to refer to the hereditary Jewish priests or cohens — the Zadokites (or Saducees) and Levites, as well as being used to refer to the priests of pagan cults. This… Read more »

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
7 months ago

Indeed… Hence the ASB “also called presbyters” for priests.
No individual NT minister or Christian is described as “hierius”. Certainly it was connected with sacrifice at the altar (no longer necessary because of Jesus) and as an earthly intermediary between the people and God (also a redundant post now).

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
7 months ago

And is Galatians iii.28 not in the context of salvation rather than of priesthood?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

No, the context is that all of the baptised are now bound equally to Jesus, not the Law (which is an argument why Leviticus 18:22 has been superseded). There is nothing in Galatians which restricts the meaning to salvation.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

And its reference to the priesthood…? I still don’t see it there.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

It applies to all baptised people. It says that there are no distinctions based on race, status (to paraphrase slavery in the modern context) or sex. Everyone is the same. So no baptised person should be treated differently because of their sex.   It makes sense if you go back to Genesis. Initially both men and women were made in the image of God. We only get male headship after the Fall. So if one of the purposes of Jesus was to repair the damage done by the Fall, you would expect men and women to be treated equally again… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I believe that main gist of Galatians iii is the establishment of Church as family in which all are equally valued. But St Paul does say in I Corinthians that there are still roles within the Church peculiar to people’s calling and, in I Timothy and Titus does restrict some roles to the sexes. All are equal in value, all may receive salvation but no-one has the right to be ordained.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Just a quick note to thank everyone for putting up with me. I think, given that I sense I am outstaying my welcome, I had best crawl back into the wainscoting. God bless you all!

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
7 months ago

Having your views robustly challenged is a sign of welcome! I can’t speak for anyone else but I’d rather have folk be upfront, as you have been, about their views and reasoning than hide behind euphemism as we so often see.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

I would agree that priests in ancient Judaism were Jewish, but once the original generation of Jewish Christians died out and the Christian religion continued, separated from Judaism, it would be counterproductive for Christian priests to be Jewish.
St. Paul was very keen on the idea of Jesus as the greatest and highest and final great high priest, elevated above all others, but I think his point was because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and because of his dispensation, Christians could form their own priesthood.

RogerB
RogerB
7 months ago

I think most people on this site will be well aware of the contradictions within scripture, the contradictions between scripture and tradition, and the conflicts between both of these and contemporary culture.
What would be really useful is if people could explain why they have the view that they do rather than one of the others.
It could be some sort of revelation, such as Wesley’s heart being ‘strangely warmed’, or the influence of a particularly gifted teacher.
Let’s hear it and see if we can learn from it too.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  RogerB
7 months ago

Simply put I trust God’s activity in the world – God has put it into the hearts of many women that they have a vocation to the priesthood. I have seen them serve and lead as priests. I do not believe that many women could be independently mistaken about God’s call.

We are rightly concerned about the capture of the church by the “spirit of the age”; but we must equally (if not more so, given the demographics of the church) be conscious of being captured by the spirit of the previous age.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Jo B
7 months ago

Jo, What interpretation do you therefore place on the convictions of the people who reach the opposite conclusion ?

If I may make a working assumption that your view is that they are mistaken, then what is the basis for selecting one set of opinions over another ?

In the end we have to recognise an over-arching authority which is not anthropocentric as a practical necessity.

Otherwise it is just an elaborate form of theological democracy.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

From what I have seen and heard, the opposite view can come from a number of sources. One is the “spirit of a previous age” I alluded to; people simply accepting what they grew up with as normative. An extension of this is “it’s always been this way” or the slightly more theological version “the church has always taught this”. The church has “always” taught a lot of things, right up to the point where it didn’t any more. Moreover, the given logic behind a teaching has changed over time (one classic example being on slavery, where initially the divide… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  RogerB
7 months ago

Yes, there are contradictions in Scripture so it would be a brave person who was certain that their reading is definitely right. So, how do we decide? Debating Scripture is helpful as it may change the minds of some, but it’s unrealistic to believe that it will change all views within less than a generation or two.   Jesus healed on the Sabbath. From that we can see that, even if it seems to conflict with the letter of the Law, the priority should be to do good and reduce people’s burdens. So my view is that, since full agreement… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate
7 months ago

Are you saying that people cannot exercise their conscience except to the extent they share your view ?

By any reckoning that is a narrow view of conscience.

By definition we uphold the right of people to exercise their conscience when it means they take a different view from ourselves.

Otherwise we are just saying the only moral view is the one we hold ourselves

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
7 months ago

You’ve put your finger on it. Here’s how it happens. A woman feels called to priesthood. She says nothing, being unsure, but then people start to say that they think she is so called. Her parish priest asks her if she thinks she is. She goes through a process of discernment. She meets the bishop who agrees that s/he thinks so, too. She has her vocation tested at a selection conference. She goes to theological training, where she is further assessed. In the end she feels that God has called her to priesthood. Her friends and colleagues think God has… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

I wish we had a like button 😃

Stephen King
Stephen King
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

Besides looking at the matter in terms of male vs female, could one not equally do so in terms of catholic vs evangelical? For example, if the hypothetical dying patient in Toby Forward’s example were an Anglo-Catholic wishing to be anointed, would s/he really be happy with the ministrations of a conservative evangelical, who would be unlikely to go down the anointing route?

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Stephen King
7 months ago

I can only speak from my own experience, but in 1977, when I was ordained, the deanery I served in had churches of all flavours, and we were all perfectly happy to cover for anyone in the event of holiday or sickness. I have celebrated the eucharist from the north end of the altar. There was a common understanding that however we expressed our ministry we all shared in an identical calling and we were all ordained to the same office. We were interchangeable.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

I think we move away from interchangeability at our peril.

Peter
Peter
7 months ago

Is the claim that God has always wanted the ordination of women/same sex marriage but that previous generations have been in error.

Or is that that God now has a different perspective on the issues to that which previously applied ?

It would be helpful to know which is the case, or is there a third possibility I have not identified ?

In the spirit of LLF is would be great to have somebody response to my post !

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Some of us would see Romans 16 as evidence of women in leadership in the earliest Church and this being lost in the context of the surrounding cultures over time (though occasionally present in Church history). So we’d see the ordination of women as recovering what has been lost rather than as an innovation. [Ordination practices and terminology and theories post-date Romans, of course, and the argument is that the later practice and theory have reflected cultural assimilation]. Just so you have an answer – I’ll not be entering into a long debate about whether this is right or not… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Mark Bennet
7 months ago

Hi Mark, thanks that’s a perspective I have not heard before so it’s good to know. Peter

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Perhaps there is another viewpoint on same-sex marriage. Society has changed, and in order to fit in with society (and so reverse the decline in church attendance) the Church of England ‘has’ to change its teaching.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
Reply to  Bob
7 months ago

That is certainly one point of view. The Church of England now marries divorcees within the lifetime of their previous spouses. It no longer requires brides to promise to obey their husbands. Has God changed His mind about the indissolubility of marriage? Or about the duty of wifely obedience?
Or do we understand God’s will differently from our forebears?

I take the latter view. However I have to bear in mind that my own understanding of God’s will is likely to be partial and flawed.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Simon Bravery
7 months ago

It seems somewhat strange even to consider that God changes His mind. What is usually meant is that certain people in a particular denomination have changed their own minds and then ascribe their opinions to God. Obviously as an Anglican, God has decided to allow women to be ordained. But as a Roman Catholic, He hasn’t. We are not clear to which denomination God belongs when His will is clearly contradictory.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  FrDavidH
7 months ago

Hi,

The idea of God changing his mind is a logical possibility but, as you suggest, a theological non-starter.
The reality is surely the general claim is that our ancestors were in some sense wrong.

The severity of the judgement on them seems to vary from commentator to commentator, but the fundamental position is we are “more right” than they were.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavidH
7 months ago

Isn’t the whole point of intercessory prayer a belief that God can be persuaded to change his mind?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Bob
7 months ago

I have long held that the Holy Spirit leads us to understand things in a new way when we–either as individuals or a society–are ready to accept them. As we learn new things scientifically, the Spirit gives the understanding to read the Scriptures in light of that new knowledge. This includes cosmology (Copernican solar system), biology (Darwinian evolution) and, yes, even sexuality (the naturalness of same-sex attraction).

John Wallace
John Wallace
7 months ago

As someone brought up in the extreme Con-Evo of the Gospel Hall, but now who, over 70 years, later worships, serves and preaches in a liberal Catholic parish, I agree with Simon. Our understanding of the social / ethical implications of the Gospel does evolve as we seek the light of the Holy Spirit to present the message of the love of God in Christ Jesus ‘afresh to our generation’. For me, these are all second order issues. The early Church battled with first order issues around the nature of Christ; hence we have the Nicean / Chalcedonian Creed. This… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  John Wallace
7 months ago

I wonder if the sense the we are wiser than previous generations is a political rather than a theological idea ? It seems to me to be the relatively recent notion of Progressivism. The two generations immediately before us clearly did not experience history as a gradually upward moral trajectory. Of course. everybody is exhausted by the arguments and such debates do become binary, and perhaps harsh, as people reach the point where they have just had enough of it. I wonder if it will be our children who have to make sense of it all. Perhaps our job now… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
7 months ago

I’ve never thought of intercessory prayer as an opportunity to convince God of the strength of my arguments. The idea that I can change God’s opinions by debating with Him is anthropomorphism taken to extremes.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  FrDavid H
7 months ago

The best description of intercessory prayer that I have come across is from Michael Ramsey (as you might expect). ‘Being with God, with the people on your heart.’

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Toby Forward
7 months ago

The late Herbert McCabe would agree: “For a real absolute waste of time you have to go to prayer. I reckon that more than 80% of our reluctance to pray consists precisely in our own dim recognition of this and our neurotic fear of wasting time, of spending part of our life in something that in the end gets you nowhere, something that is not merely non-productive, non-money making, but is even non-creative. It doesn’t even have the justification of art and poetry. It is an absolute waste of time, it is a sharing into the waste of time which… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Allan Sheath
7 months ago

Is this intended as a parody ?

Otherwise, is difficult to think of a more obtuse description of prayer to our Father in Heaven

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Peter
7 months ago

Dominicans are noted for scholarship, not parody. I suppose it all depends on whether you see prayer as instrumental or expressive. Does prayer influence God, or does it change the one who prays?

Father Ron Smith
7 months ago

There is much in Theo Hobson’s article that one might agree with – except, of course, for his suggestion that the business of acceptance of S/S Blessings (e.g.) might be equated with the divided acceptance of Women Clergy – under the iniquitous (I think) 2 integrities. (Perhaps if it were called, rather ‘2 realities’?). Another mark in the road of Progress for an Inclusive Church might be the outcome of the just-completed Zoom Meeting at the instigation of S/S-Partnered Bishops with the ABC (on Tuesday), but only IF the ABC realises his mistake in inviting S/S Bishops without their Spouses!… Read more »

79
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x