Comments: InclusiveChurch responds to Reform threat

Thank you Thinking Anglicans. It's high time these attempts to hijack the Anglican Church and turn it into something it is not were resisted in love.

We need to find a way of witnessing to our Christian faith in a more integrated way and the C of E used to be well known and understood for its breadth of view and its inclusivity. How can we do that, please.

Posted by Una Kroll at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 5:02pm GMT

"These parishes are attacking their Bishops for upholding the agreed position on the Civil Partnership legislation."

Now let's think WHO has "agreed" the position?
General Synod? Nope.
Anyone other than the House of Bishops? Nope.
The House of Bishops themselves? NOPE! (At least one of their own number has openly rejected their position. And many others have qualified it or promised their Dioceses and their parishes that it will be reviewed because no-one is happy with it.)

Not exactly very agreed then.....

Posted by Neil Barber at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 6:05pm GMT

"...this attempt further to divide..."
Dear God, I do love to see correct grammar in use, as in the non-split infinitive above. I know it's silly, but it gave me a little thrill.

But seriously, this press release gives me pause, to wonder what the C of E would be like today if women's ordinations went ahead without "flying bishops" or other accomodations regarding women's ordination hadn't been created, or my own TEC's accomodations hadn't been granted to at least three dioceses on the same issue, even before the C of E authorized the ordination of women. It would have been beyond messy, I'm sure. It even might have seemed disastrous. It would also have said, "This is what the church has chosen. Full stop. Let the chips fall as they may." I don't know...well, we are where we are. Meanwhile, the annual pageant is next week, and it's the entire service with the Eucharist as part of the pageant, and it will be chaotic, and wonderful, both at the same time. Thanks be to God.
Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 6:42pm GMT

This was inevitable. The puritanical element either had control over the communion or it would separate from the balance of the communion. There are those who value diversity and hospitality and those that value perfection. What we are now playing is a numbers game, how many will end up where.

As a diversity, inclusive player, it doesn't matter as they are all part of the body of Christ, which is part of God's greater plan. So all will be well no matter where they end up.

For the puritans, they will be arguing that everyone who is not in their particular camp is destined for death and destruction.

This is a good opportunity to remind souls that moshiach David came through Leah's line and not Rachel's. Rachel's children (like Rachel) epitiomised the pursuit of perfection. To really stir the pot, Rachel was barren until Leah prayed on her behalf. Joseph was the embodiment of all four moschiach's desired traits: Esau's, Jacob's, Rachel's and Leah's. Joseph was sponsored by the parties who had been entrusted with the gifts of that generation (Jacob having both his and Esau's eschewed gifts).

David's line came from Leah - the imperfect one. The lesson hear being that abundance and perfection will be found through the sponsorship by the imperfect. God does not seek our perfection, God does seek our active relationship.

Unfair interpretation? God ask the Jews the last time the God and Shekinah agreed on annointing an acknowledged matriach. Think women's feelings don't matter? They might not to men, but they sure do to God.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 7:45pm GMT

Why not let them do it? It is probably going to come anyway, when a Covenant is introduced as a process. They'll design their own, not one like InclusiveChurch - not is it clear that one the Archbishop would draw up to preserve the Anglican Communion would be acceptable to InclusiveChurch.

Anyway, there are going to be many evangelicals who would prefer contact with those of a more liberal view, those of a catholic view and so on. There are Open Evangelicals, people pretty fed up that despite their evangelicalism church members run off to big media churches and the like. So it is not cut and dried. Many evangelicals won't want to be run by the likes of Reform. Many of a catholic view are happy not to be run by the already semi-detached Forward in Faith. And a message of breadth can still be spoken.

I'd like to be very inclusive, but my inclusiveness puts off those who want definition (of a sort). Plus, no matter how inclusive I'd like to be, some of their stances threaten my wish to be inclusive and I have to exclude them.

Also it sets up an imbalance, one to live with so far - that they demand I am inclusive of them, because I want to be inclusive, but they do not wish to be inclusive of a lot of what I express. I just point out the imbalance.

If the problem is money, use less of it.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 8:18pm GMT

Bravo to Inclusive Church, and what a shame that the poor Bishop of Southwark (one of the targets of the extremist evangelicals) is going through a another mire. His opponents must be gleeful, especially since he seems to have been less than truthful about recent events. That is a pity...but I hope he rises to take on this disturbing development.

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 9:15pm GMT


I don't understand your comments about Tom Butler. All I know is he was recently mugged. Mugging is a horrible thing to happen to anyone and whilst I disagree with him -a lot -I was certainly not gleeful to hear this news as I'm sure is the case with all his opponents

Posted by dave williams at Sunday, 10 December 2006 at 11:12pm GMT

Evangelical puritanism is an aberration of Christianity. Typically, evangelical Christians, misquoting Holy Scripture, view their calling as sitting on the right hand of God, judging the "quick and the dead." Psychologically so hung up on justifying themselves and their actions, they have departed from a "justification by faith" Reformation righteousness to one of "salvation by works." They overlook a long-standing biblical tradition, that God calls the "unwashed", not those who see Scripture as a "law book", i.e., the scribes and the Pharisees in the NT. Who were the ancestors of Jesus according to Matthew and Luke? Tamar, posing as a prostitute to entice Jesus' ancestor Judah to impregnate her, and Rahab, the whore of Jericho, a woman on the very margins of society. David, too, had an affair with Jonathan, King Saul's appointed heir to the throne. I haven't heard of fundi-evangelicals rejecting the Psalter, often ascribed to King David, because David was morally tainted through his "love" relationship with Jonathan! With regard to homoerotic narratives from the OT and the NT, I would like to refer readers to Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., The Man Jesus Loved (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrims Press, 2003). A United Methodist clergyman, Dr. Jennings teaches at the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 1:17am GMT

Let us never forget that the community of the Kingdom, the community of Jesus in the Gospels, is an inclusive community. He was not a puritan. The Anglican Communion is an oasis of Christian freedom amid the cacophony of hate-filled ideologists that have hijacked Christian discourse. Its lessons are for all Christians, and that is why it is targeted with special zeal by puritans and exclusivists.

Posted by Fr Joseph O'Leary at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:50am GMT

"His [i.e., the Bishop of Southwark's] opponents must be gleeful, especially since he seems to have been less than truthful about recent events."

Not sure what the backstory is on this... I'm aware of the flap resulting from the CESA diaconal ordinations, and the subsequent reinstatement of the participating vicar, but does "recent events" refer to something else (and more recent)?

Posted by Nadine Kwong at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:28am GMT

A bit of calm might be in order. A lot of we non-Liberals are quite happy with some mess; and I can't find *any* official announcements on this.. Should Inclusive Church have over-reacted to a press report - before the alleged protagonists have even confirmed, denied or clarified their position?

Knee-jerk reaction anyone ?!

Posted by Dave at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 6:35am GMT

Glad to see "Pluralist" lives up to his name - not all inclusive people are as inclusive as Plurist is above.

Surely it is fair to hold bishops to account and reject wrong ideas? The NT clearly sets high standards for all who would dare to be teachers and leaders, which includes their teaching and the examples they set in their that they do not disgrace the gospel in eyes of the world - even more important in our media age.

Posted by NP at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 8:46am GMT,,2087-2496633_1,00.html

Posted by NP at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:01am GMT

Thank you John Henry and Joseph O'Leary for inspiring posts.

Perhaps we are being called to a spirituality of the everyday. Perhaps to the radical simplicity of Jesus' message.

Worshipping on neither this mountain(temple) nor the Jerusalem mountain (temple), but anywhere and everywhre in spirit and in truth. Giving up our 'first world' wealth and power. Giving up the preparations for war. Making a difference in the Markets, on the ground.

Posted by laurence at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:51am GMT

'...We need to find a way of witnessing to our Christian faith in a more integrated way and the C of E used to be well known and understood for its breadth of view and its inclusivity. How can we do that, please.' Una Kroll, above.

Thanks Una, for these wise words, which also encourage.

best wishes if you see this,

Posted by laurence at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:54am GMT

John Henry commented:
I haven't heard of fundi-evangelicals rejecting the Psalter, often ascribed to King David, because David was morally tainted through his "love" relationship with Jonathan!

According to a local ConsEv church, all this Jonathan and David stuff is wicked rumour mongering by us tainted sorts, because (to quote from a sermon) "homosexuality was virtually unknown in the OT". (Yes, I do see where that leaves them theologically, but joined-up thinking isn't necessarily their strong point.)

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 11:30am GMT

Nadine: Neil may be referring to this news report:

Posted by Mike S. at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 12:38pm GMT

I too have struggled without any joy to see who this "small group of evangelical parishes" are - I can't find anything beyond this report in the Telegraph. I would certainly like to know more.

Posted by Graham at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 12:43pm GMT

As a member of a Reform church, I have a horse in this race.

I have to admit: *some* episcopal oversight would be better than the none we have had for the past nine years, since the vicar declared we were in 'impared communion' with the diocesan.

As it is, we are de facto independent whilst still using the parish church and name - but the vicar doesn't answer to anyone, and that can't be healthy. I would very much like to see us brought back within the fold, but I'm not delusional. If alternative oversight can be negotiated with the diocese, then at least I can still pretend I go to an Anglican church.

Posted by Simon Morden at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 12:52pm GMT

For those who haven't been following the +Tom Butler story, which broke on the front page of the Mirror on Saturday, a Google News search for "Tom Butler" will get you up to speed.
There is just so much that doesn't add up here. Overindulging in red wine at the Irish Embassy's Christmas bash is one thing; ending up throwing children's toys out of the back seat of a strangers Mercedes, and stating "I'm the Bishop of Southwark. It's what I do" (which, in isolation, is a mindboggling quote) is another.
Thankfully, with the exception of a Christian People's Alliance Councillor in Newham, +Butler's opponents are waiting for the dust to settle before making any rash pronouncements.
Intoxicated or not, I cannot imagine a chain of events which would lead, as news stories would have us believe, to him trying the doors of parked cars in an isolated street, until he found an unlocked Merc, then taking it out on the owner's chidrens toys, and leaving his brief case behind. But then the alternative - a mugger realising that the fruits of his nights work were poor, and selling a fantasy to the Daily Mirror, is barely more plausible.

Posted by Graham at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 1:01pm GMT

Nothing could be less Christian than 'don't ask, don't tell'. Some people are writing as though this is a Christian attitude, when what they mean is that they themselves grew up in a christian culture where it had seeped in. It is anti-biblical.
Blind-eye turning of this nature was also (among other things) responsible for a lot of the reported catholic child sex abuse.
The evangelical parishes in question know the reality of transformed lives, and know that one of the things that gets transformed is this secrecy tendency.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 1:16pm GMT

John Henry,

Please will you stop telling lies about what Evangelicals beleive. You and your friends have been answered before on this point. Evangelicals do not claim to sit on God's right hand judging. It is the Evangelical position that emphasises that God rescues messed up sinners not perfect people. Your analysis isn't just mistaken. You know our position but are misrepresenting it.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 1:35pm GMT

As an American Episcopalian, I’m not surprised by this development. In fact, it is right in line with what I have been trying to explain to NP on another thread. International fracturing will not only affect the Canadian and American Churches, the UK and the Church of England itself, is not immune from this process. It will be a world-wide fracturing.

Posted by Kurt at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:05pm GMT

"These parishes are attacking their Bishops for upholding the agreed position on the Civil Partnership legislation."

The position "agreed" by whom?

The General Synod? NOPE.
The House of Bishops? NOPE. One Bishop has completely distanced himself from "the agreed position" and won't enforce it. Others have qualified "the agreed position" or promised their Dioceses or Parishes a review since no-one is happy with it.

Not exactly very "agreed" then.

Posted by Neil Barber at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:06pm GMT

I love it when innovators invoke "tradition."

Posted by DGus at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:09pm GMT

If the liberals would put their money where their mouth is, such threats would be meaninglerss. They would also be meaningless if the liberals could actually attract someone to church!

Posted by Chris McMullen at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:22pm GMT


The alternative is plurarilty of elders, local church accountability and relationship with elders at other local churches, rather than a hierarchy! :o)

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:46pm GMT


Thanks for the additional information. It still sounds like a sad story -not one for gleefulness.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:48pm GMT

Kurt - I agree with you there is going to be a split - and I welcome it because it is fruitless being "united" with people when there is no real unity - Anglican fudge is poisonous for everyone and presents a pathetic witness to the world.

I am a fan of KJS' straight talking - looks like she agrees that fudge is no good and is willing to pay the price of honesty in terms of realignment (even if she threatens legal actions over property)

We should split and each have bishops we respect for their teaching and lives....but liberals have so far been afraid to go it alone as they will have a small denomination and no more cash from evos

Posted by NP at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:54pm GMT

Nadine Kwong on Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:28am GMT --

Re: Bishop Butler -- see here:,,1969258,00.html
"the incident is sure to dismay church liberals and may induce glee among some evangelicals,"

As to retired bishops setting up a right-wing C of E, this could actually be a good thing, since it would presumably reduce support for those firmly in the Establishment who want significantly to reduce the diversity in the C of E & the WWAC (viz., N. T. Wright).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:00pm GMT

I cannot tell if NP is being straight or ironic in his praise of my pluralism and its inevitable limits.

Rowan Williams himself tells us of a "gap" in historical and cultural understanding of the creeds, which is why he thinks there should be a Covenant. Which suggests that the creeds as liturgical documents, taken out of the glass cabinet to be read and put back again, do not have the regulative power some think they have. Well they do not, as in any theology department - they are as open to criticism and variety as other ancient documents.

I see that the Inclusive church website has a variety of articles including the danger of a Covenant as a new document that would cause split more than unity, though Giles Fraser welcomes the process. A rather good point is made in and amongst those articles that Anglicanism seems to proceed via a number of landmark essays.

Ethical standards are to be aimed for and a setting for forgivenness and compassion; as for opinions, variety is the spice of life.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:11pm GMT

Thank you to Thinking Anglican online for keeping the debate vital and balanced. I remain Episcopalian because we as a church have always exercised our freedom to express our personal views of God in concert. As a lay leader I have little power in policy structure of AC though as a disciple of Jesus I accept my personal responsiblity to understand through prayer and Spirit, what is presented as "Godly" policy in church. Therefore I applaud this current struggle as essential for individual Episcopalians to get up and state their view. We never have been a church of followers. I pray we never will be,until the Divine one guides us to God's Glory.

Posted by Deborah at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:16pm GMT

One of the reasons we at IC don't like the idea of people choosing their own bishops is that it institutionalises disagreement. Since the ordination of women to the priesthood, there's been an increasing lack of communication between different parties resulting in something like a silo mentality. The risk is that we'll get that same silo mentality over sexuality. It seems increasingly clear to us (IC) that there are some pretty profound misunderstandings about the various positions. The fact that the "Listening Process" has been so comprehensively ignored in this country doesn't help. we're beginning to think that people in the C of E should try to enter into our own, local, covenant relationship; Reform, Mainstream, IC, Aff Cath, Changing Attitude, Fulcrum etc etc; agreeing at least the areas on which we can agree (you know, the creeds, authority of scripture, the episcopacy, that sort of thing) and agreeing to work together towards greater understanding on the other areas. Which means, effectively, human sexuality as that seems to be made the major issue so often.

could be, if it worked, a remarkable thing. I think the Anglican Church in Australia has recently managed to agree a covenant. if they can do it, AND include Sydney, then surely we could? what do others think ? worth pursuing ?

Posted by Giles Goddard at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:40pm GMT

I believe Kurt is correct; there is now nothing that can stop the realignment of the Anglican Communion.

What is in question is just how the realignment will pan out.

So far, it seems that Rowan has managed to keep the majority of threats as – just that – threats. Almost all are holding back, save Akinola, from further “realities on the ground”.

His long term strategy appears to be holding and those groups for whom haste is an ally have been thwarted.

For me the question is: Can Rowan hold things together until Lambeth?

If he can, then the realignments will be much les significant – If he can’t then things will get a lot more poisonous and acrimonious as the War of the Primates goes nuclear.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:42pm GMT

to clarify my comments about "silo mentality" - I mean that those parishes which have passed resolutions A B and C have in many cases (though not all!) closed themselves off from other views and therefore from the possibility of change.....and the list of possible organisations should of course include WATCH and GRAS as well as many others.

Posted by Giles Goddard at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 3:55pm GMT

Pluralist - my comments were genuine - I try to avoid sarcasm etc

Giles - it is such a waste of time and energy keeping such very different groups together under one roof just so they can fight - anglicans are not one family with normal squabbles but very different groups with little or no respect for each other - everyone would be better off with a split.....I am glad TEC is showing confidence to go it alone and no longer pretending it can please everyone all the time....even if wrong, at least more honest with KJS

Posted by NP at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:08pm GMT

Dave Williams wrote: "The alternative is plurarilty of elders, local church accountability and relationship with elders at other local churches, rather than a hierarchy!"

Yes but. Firstly, it's not Anglican. Secondly, it's not historically Christian (deacons, priests, bishops). Thirdly, it's not even how Reform want it.

The realities of the Reform movement - as far as I experience it from the inside - are the singularity of (male) leadership, no accountability within the church, no accountability to other local churches, and no relationship with local churches unless there is an agreed theological criteria, set by the Reform church.

They love their hierarchy - if you think you can wean them off it, then good luck and godspeed.

Posted by Simon Morden at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:10pm GMT

I think the split/realignment is both inevitable and should happen. Unity has to be based on something genuine. When it comes down to it, we just believe different things - that's the way it is

There is far too much bureaucracy and unnecessary spending in the church in any case. Slimmed down versions should give the opportunity for a re-think

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:13pm GMT

“We should split and each have bishops we respect for their teaching and lives....but liberals have so far been afraid to go it alone as they will have a small denomination and no more cash from evos.”— NP

I personally believe a split in the Communion is coming. (Probably a 60/40 –your favor, NP, and you are welcome to them). However, in terms of cash, my understanding is that, in Australia for example, it is Sydney which is refusing to contribute their fair share to the Anglican Church there. Here in America “cash from evos” is practically non-existent. (We Episcopalians would be more than happy to send “foreign aid” monies to progressive Anglicans abroad. No more need for “evo cash” and their attached “strings”!)

Posted by Kurt at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:15pm GMT

Kurt: I whole-heartedly agree with you above statement that fracturing will occur not only in TEC and the ACofC but the CofE and most first world counties. In places where civil liberties are only a dream the promise of a new world order/The Kingdom and literal understanding of the Bible (IMHO) will dominate.

As for the Bishop of Southwark, it's a known fact that alcohol is/has been a form of self medication by the many in the clergy. When Gene Robinson sought counselling even his oppenents were sympathetic. But let me say, considering the tensions and the infighting found in the church who can blame them. My rector said, "I became a priest to help people live a Christian life, to follow Christ, not fight with people over if Gene Robinson is good or bad. I know one thing God loves each and everyone of us!" Our former rector is now washing cars after first being isolated from the fold and then eventually unmercifully being attacked at every section meeting and diocesan function for being a liberal (welcome to Pittsburgh).
I guess that is a novel concept.

My understanding of Evangelicals is that they feel that the world is broken, that all people are born with original sin. Christ died on a cross to redeem us and reconcile God to us baddons. There is this idea of Christ redemptive love which transforms our lives and makes us a little purer than the rest. There must be something psychological with self loathing, the need for transformation and the elevation of the transformed depending on who's transformed and who is still in need of transformation i.e. a liberal.

Posted by Robert Christian at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 4:16pm GMT

Having leaders you agree with doesn't have to preclude working together on those things people agree on -although I'm not sure what exactly we do agree on now? It seems that the liberal wing of the church are more united with secular society on the key issues affecting Britain today against the Evangelicals and Catholics.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 5:18pm GMT

Who is it that would agree to local covenants: PCCs, other denominations' committees? What if significant groups of individuals didn't when a PCC did? Tell more about Australia (Giles Goddard). All I can see is statements like those held by university Christian Unions and other statements.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 6:22pm GMT

There has been a regrettable development in Tanzania which effectively inaugurates the split in the Anglican Communion. The Tanzanian House of Bishops has declared:

"that henceforth we are not in communion, namely, communio in sacris, with:

Bishops who consecrate homosexuals to the episcopate and those Bishops who ordain such persons to the priesthood and the deaconate or license them to minister in their dioceses;

Bishops who permit the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses;

Gay priests and deacons;

Priests who bless same sex unions"

The next Primates' meeting will be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. However, it would seem that the Tanzanian bishops' resolution makes it impossible for the Episcopal Presiding Bishop and the Primate of Canada to attend.

The resolution also causes difficulties for ++Rowan, as he too would be barred from the Primates' meeting under its provisions.

Episcopal News Service story:

Mark Harris comments on Preludium: "Tanzania Bishops Put Out the Unwelcome Mat":

Posted by Charlotte at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:05pm GMT

Wrote Dave Williams: "Please will you stop telling lies about what Evangelicals believe. You and your friends have been answered before on this point. Evangelicals do not claim to sit on God's right hand judging."

How come, then, that Evangelicals are so fixated on other people's sins, while blissfully ignoring their own? How come the Tanzanian bishops put out the unwelcome mat for PB Katharine Schori, whom they have never met, and about whose orthodoxy, or lack thereof, they have heard unsubstantiated rumors? How come they always have to make windows into other people's souls, judging their very motivations? Can't they leave judgement to God?

+John-David Schofield calls me, a fellow-Episcopalian, an "apostate", and the 'good' Bishop doesn't even know me or the theology I embrace.

No other websites brought to the attention of the public the recent mis-step of Bishop Tom Butler but VirtueOnLine. Evangelicals immediately pounced on the bishop in judgment before even the facts of the case were known. Why didn't ++Cantuar immediately defrock him?

Evangelicals, sadly, come across as vicious, judgemental people, with little regard for due process under the law (whether canon or secular law). For me their religion of exclusion represents a caricature of Christianity and a distortion of the Gospel of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, reaching out to and including the outcasts. To appreciate how far off base Evangelicals are, I recommend reading Wolfhart Pannenberg's chapters of "Predestination and Eschatology" in the latter's Systematic Theology, Vol. III. Pannenberg wrestles with the scriptures, the tradition of the Church Fathers, Luther, Calvin and the more inclusive eschatology of Ratzinger.

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:18pm GMT

Oh so it's wrong to say that something is wrong or that you don't think someone is a Christian but quite okay to go around calling people bigots and now alright to accuse Evangelicals of having a psychological problem (see Robert Christian's comments above). We really are getting down to what "Thinking Anglicans" is about aren't we!

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:20pm GMT


Wish that I could! Maybe you can do a better job from the inside!


Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:21pm GMT

I certainly hope you are right, Dave. I don't wish to ally myself with the forces of reaction. I think there is very little we agree on.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:43pm GMT

'Evangelical' righteousness makes the Tanzanian bishops turn down U.S. financial aid to help the poor and underprivileged because that money has been 'tainted' by American homosexual bishops, priest, deacons and lay ministers, who have collected those donations.

Reports ENS: "Further to the consequent state of the severely impaired communion, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Tanzania declares that henceforth the Anglican Church of Tanzania shall not knowingly accept financial and material aid from Dioceses, parishes, Bishops, priests, individuals and institutions in the Episcopal Church (USA) that condone homosexual practice or bless same sex unions."

Are the Bible-invoking, self-righteous bishops acting in a Christ-like way in depriving the needy among them of essential, life-saving assistance?

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 7:47pm GMT

"I love it when innovators invoke 'tradition.'"

And yet, DGus, the innovative reactionaries (inaccurately termed "conservative") continue to do so... :-/

Prayers for +Tom Southwark, WHATEVER happened.

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 8:23pm GMT

dave williams, please calm down. Mr Christian's comments are not a personal attack upon any individual.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:05pm GMT

John Henry,

Plenty of vicious judgement goes on, on this website -after all what were your comments -or the comments of someone else accusing Evangelicals of psychological deffects?

Having strong opinions about what is right and wrong is not to say that Evangelicals aren't aware of their own sins. Dare I say it, the majority of Evangelical literature is self critical , the majority of sermons I've heard in the last three months (and I've heard one every day of the working week so that's a lot) had something to say about the sins and dangers that Evangelicals face and where we need to repent.

How come you accuse Bishops of making judgements without meeting you face to face it's wrong but you can judge me and millions of Evangelicals without meeting us face to face!

Oh yes John, there are plenty of non Evangelicals that are good at sitting in judgement -with or without God being at their right hand!

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:06pm GMT


No I'm not sure what we would agree on. I don't get much interest from liberals when I talk about the environment or poverty! I recently blogged about Trevor Phillip's comments about racists and communion. I supported his views I thought at least there would be some unity on that. Apparently not! I think the reality is that there is a gradal admission going on that there are at least two different religions here!

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:11pm GMT

It seems this is pretty much a done deal. The Anglo-Catholics already have their flying bishops: the evangelicals will simply copy the legisation, change a few words (from "woman priest" to, I dunno, non-evangelical, or "in communion with Jeffrey John and Colin Slee", or something) and set up flying bishops, starting with Bishop Millar.

Indeed, as I understand it, that's the plan: they already have overseas support from Akinola & Venables & Orombi. It's either that or the CoE loses about 50 of the largest and most dynamic evangelical parishes by the end of 2007 - I mean: do you really think reform & anglican mainstream are dumb enough to go to the Archbishop & leak to the Telegraph without a list and a solid plan B in place? Given Williams argued in support of just this kind of Network in the US, he cannot argue against the similar realignment in the UK. Especially as the evangelicals will promise to stay in the CoE for at least a couple more months...

Posted by Sinner at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:18pm GMT

Dave Williams is standing up for the moderate evangelicals (Yes they do exist. People such as Rick Warren are doing a great job in redeeming the word evangelical).

However, John Henry's comments about an element of evangelicals that rush to puritanism and pray for harsh judgment of the sinners are also valid. I recently read an excellent evangelical article that commented that this particular subset have a lot in common with the Pharisees and Sadducees against which Jesus debated. Particularly ironic when it comes from a Protestant tradition, which in many ways re-enacted Jesus' renunciation of authority for authority's sake.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:29pm GMT

Dave Williams makes an observation that’s worth exploring.
When he says “secular society” what precisely is he referring to

I think it’s worth unpacking a little.
Does he mean issues of social policy?
If so, which ones?
Does he mean the environment or defence policy or possibly economics?
I think I may understand in a narrow sense where he may be coming from, but I may be wrong

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:39pm GMT

John Henry

"No other websites brought to the attention of the public the recent mis-step of Bishop Tom Butler but VirtueOnLine." Don't you think that "the public" is more likely to read The Sun and The Daily Mail than VirtueOnline? And as far as I can see these papers had the story on the web first.

By the way, David Virtue posted the story as written up in the Independent and the Observer, not the Sun and Daily Mail. And I don't think he even commented on it but I may have missed it - you had me look at VirtueOnline for the first time in many months...

Posted by Thomas Renz at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 9:49pm GMT

I think the thing boils down to the question of what is "adiaphora," indifferent to the substance of the faith. Liberals seem to think that simply because a matter is disputed, it is automatically adiaphora. Conservatives are breaking away to insist that this matter is not indifferent, that the Christian sexual ethic is woven into the very substance of the faith and cannot be pulled out without unravelling the whole cloth.

The dynamic set up is this: if we stay together, "agreeing to disagree," the liberals are proven right. "See," they get to say, "here we are in one church with differing views on sexual morality. It must be adiaphora." If the church breaks up, we conservatives get to say, "See, we told you it was fundamental. Now the breakup of the church proves we were right."

To John Henry:
It's never been, for the conservatives, a question about sinners. We're all sinners. We know that. It's a question of church teaching. The consecration of Robinson enacts a teaching that is contrary to traditional and biblical Christian moral teaching. (By the way, have you read what Pannenberg says about homosexual practice and Christian faith? His brief reference in Systematic Theology, though negative, stands for a very strong repudiation of the new teaching that he's published elsewhere.)

It remains strange, though, how bishops denying the basic tenets of the faith have come and gone over the years without sparking calls for Alternative Oversight. Why this issue? Fear and prejudice, as some are so sure? Not likely. But then why this? (For myself, I know it touches very deeply into pastoral work and undercuts what I've understood as my life's work: helping people move from selfish assertion to the obedience of faith.)

In any case, the Rubicon is now crossed and that old, tolerant Anglicanism is a thing of the past. Can you imagine, today, a conservative parish just quietly putting up with a bishop who, say, openly denies the Resurrection? Can you imagine conservative Africans staying in communion with such a bishop?

History's doors are closing on Anglicanism. To the extent it has a future, it won't look anything like its past.

Posted by Doug Taylor-Weiss at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:04pm GMT

Sinner seems to me a little quick in attributing the leak to Reform and/or Anglican Mainstream.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:18pm GMT


I'm sure Mr Christian, if he is a seperate person to yourself will be able to respond himself!

To me though I'm not sure how else to take a post accusing evangelicals of a psychological flaw but as a person attack on all Evangelicals.

I'm not too sure either how to take the constant references to Evangelicals as bigots on your site, except as a personal attack?

If when you were HR director someone came to you and said "Look here is a letter from someone in the company saying that (insert particular group of people) have a psychological flaw." and look here is another letter saying "we are all rapists and abusers" and look here is another one saying we are all bigots" then tell me, what would you have been expected to do about that as a HR director?

I am not asking for people to agree with me, or even to play it soft, there are a number of people on this site who enjoy rough debate -that is fair. What I am complaining about (again) is your continued allowing slanderous remarks to be placed and then responding to my complaints with public and patronising rebukes to myself.

I will assume (once again) that it is not your intention to patronise, nor to encourage inflammatory and offensive language on your site. Perhaps you will take time to assure me of this.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:20pm GMT


That's an easy one because I can answer as to what I meant. You only have to ask! :o)
I was talking in the sense of the agenda that "wants religion to understand its place" as in kept out of the way in the churches.

I'm dying to discuss the types of things you mention there such as defence policy, environment, social policy, economics. Incidently as I've mentioned before you can discuss these things on my blog (hopefully link working now) if you're bored of talking about Sexuality and bishops!

Alternatively Thinking Anglicans could if they really wanted to encourage positive dialogue and maybe even a little bit or harmony to outbreak put some topics up about this? I'm sure I've suggested it before -even though it's meant to be us Evangelicals that are obsessed with sex and bishops!!!! :o)

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:42pm GMT

Note the following story that Tanzania has now formally broken communion with basically every church of England bishop.

Just as the moves last month in the US were coordinated with the Global South Kigali statement, this move must be coordianted with Tanzaina breaking communion with ECUSA and the Church of England.

This can only lend more strength to the evangelical arguments that they must recieve a totally separate structure form the rest of the CoE.

Posted by Sinner at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:46pm GMT


I wuldn't even put it that narrowly. Let's put it this way. Evangelicals are a "unique" bunch of people. We get angry about things, say what we think -rather too bluntly at times, have opinions, voice them, wish we hadn't. Actually we are not that unique -every one does it -have you seen all the judging that goes on here! It would be nice if people would just admit that the language towards evangelicals has been quite violent at times and given that Evangelicals post here, maybe some clarifications wouldn't go amiss! Thanks for your own efforts there

Anyway for all of those things, Evangelicals, extreme as well as moderate believe that God saves by grace alone, do care about people, love people want to help and are actively involved -see for example Tearfund and Care for the family -both Evangelical charities! We are aware of our own sinfulness and most Evangelical books and sermons do remind us of that -far from us sitting in self righteous judgement.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 10:50pm GMT

I suppose the hardline evangelicals in the Church of England will now get their separate ecclesial structure -- their latest separate structure, that is. Once hardline evangelicals emerged as a religious party under Elizabeth I, they rapidly became a separatist movement, and they have separated from the Church of England several times since.

May we now begin to call them by their old names: "Separatists" and "Dissenters"?

If we put this most recent manifestation of Separatism in historical perspective, it is much less troubling. Consider the situation of the Church of England at the time Izaak Walton wrote "The Compleat Angler" -- much, much worse than it is now! If Anglican Mainstream can refrain from cutting off Charles III's head, and the Truro vestry from stabling their horses in Washington National Cathedral, we'll be all right.

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 12:12am GMT

I've sat through many evangelical sermons in my time - attending Anglican evangelical churches for over two decades, you'd rather assume so.

I don't know whether it's my perception that has changed, or my understanding of the faith, or the themes preached on and points expounded. I trust that I have matured somewhat with the passing of years.

But my impression is this. Whilst evangelicals are and do all the things Dave Williams says, there is a 'dark side' - just as, I hasten to add there is to the liberal wing. The evangelical problem is twofold: the inability to promote something as good while at the same time not condemning something as evil; and the concentration on visible, personal sin to the detriment of other equally destructive but hidden or impersonal faults.

I've sat in too many pews, too many times listening to how single parents, gays, humanists, feminists, non-believing clergy and bishops, politically-correct councils and politicians (and more recently, militant Muslims) have destroyed our once-great society, and how only if we were all converted to evangelical Christianity, the world would be shiny and happy.

I can't remember the last time I heard a sermon on domestic violence. Or fair trade. Or the environment. Or nuclear weapons. Things that actually matter to me. Fortunately I get my teaching on these issues from other sources.

I know we're for marriage - we don't have to bad mouth those who aren't or can't. I know we're for sobriety and self-control - we don't have to point the finger at those who are not. I know we are Christians - we ought not despise those who don't live to our ethics.

One day, I suppose I'll just get up and tell them they're wrong, rather than fume quietly and afterwards write measured critiques that fail to get answered. One day...

Posted by Simon Morden at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 12:54am GMT

Regqarding +Southwark's misadventure:

I'm almost certain I've heard almost exactly the same story (down to the "It's what I do" line) repeated about the late Lt. Governor Bob Bullock of Texas, back in his drinkin' days.

Lite Guv Bullock (Dubya's last hope for sanity) died in the late 90's, and he'd been "clean and sober" for several years.

Be careful of this story, no matter where it is printed.

Austin, TX

Posted by Oriscus at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 6:57am GMT

John Henry - I realised after having written the post that you may be living in the States in which case it's a fair point that the (American) "public" may not have been aware of what was all across British papers until David Virtue picked up the story, citing the Evening Standard, not the Observer, as I had mistakenly written.

It is ironic that this comes up in a posting that gives us the response of InclusiveChurch to a newspaper article. I wonder whether Giles Fraser saw no need to wait for the actual papers evangelicals are expected to deliver to the AB today (Tuesday) or has already seen these papers.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 8:07am GMT

Dave Williams

I empathise that certain threads get more dialogue than others. I do remember a few months ago suggesting something to Simon behind the scenes (on the 16th international AIDS conference in Canada) and when it finally went up it got a paltry two comments.

From that I learnt humility, just because I think something is topical does not make it topical for others.

I also learnt to trust Simon's judgement on what TA subscribers are interested in and what they are not.

Now I just go with the flow and find other forums to cover the areas that do not suit the temperament of the regular TA contributors.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 10:49am GMT

Charlotte - rather than "separatists" try "protestants"

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 11:05am GMT

"Separatists had made a hard and painful decision, drastic in its consequences. But the decision once made, there was little tension. Conversely, conformists, who readily identified the church with the whole baptised communicating population, and who agreed with Richard Hooker that church and commonwealth were virtually coterminous, felt no tension. The Puritans were those whose lives were strung between the contrary principles of inclusion and exclusion."

From Chapter Five in Patrick Collinson's From Cranmer to Sancroft: English Religion in the Age of Reformation

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 11:59am GMT

I can't remember the last time I heard a sermon on domestic violence. Or fair trade. Or the environment. Or nuclear weapons. Things that actually matter to me.

So, what makes you think that's unique to being a lefty Evangelical, Simon? Try being a liberal Anglo-Catholic who can be critical of the 'fairtrade' movement, deeply sceptical of environmentalism and finds himself wondering when economic illiteracy was a prerequisite for being ordained in the Church of England.

I suppose this is the conundrum - the Christian faith calls us to social action, but the beliefs which underpin that action vary enormously from one Christian to another.

All these beliefs are provisional and incomplete but one part of the church or another tends to hold them up as infallible dogma.

If and when we split I suspect the churches that emerge are going to be a bit more politically uniform and a bit more convinced they have full possession of the truth.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 12:15pm GMT

I appreciate that my experience is not unique - I acknowledge my need to hear that fidelity and sobriety are part of the Christian life. What I find worrying (I assume you do too) is the lack of breadth, the refusal to acknowledge that God speaks to all areas of our lives. It does get a bit like the proverbial cracked record.

But of course, it's much easier to preach on the sins we *don't* do. Not much on pride, or greed, or violent language and behaviour, or hardness of heart.


Posted by Simon Morden at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 2:15pm GMT

>if we stay together, "agreeing to disagree," the liberals are proven right.< Doug Taylor-Weiss

This, regretably, is probably true, that the evangelicals - beyond the open ones - don't regard the issue of sexual ethics as adiaphora and cannot therefore stay with those of us who regard all this stuff as of another context than today's more complex understanding of relationships and different forms of positive sexual expression.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 3:16pm GMT

I take exception to the published notion that the Anglican Via Media is an anachronism of the past. That amounts to saying that war trumps peace, and as a follow of Jesus of Nazareth who knows something of resurrection, I cannot throw in the towel so easily. Throw out some of the Anglican fudge, but do not throw out the peace-mongering, especially since that is a spiritual gift in itself, and one probably has to have a dollop of grace's peace to be the sort of peacemaker of which Jesus speaks in the Sermon on the Mount.

Those who now do violence to our breathing room as Anglicans via their passions for confessional conformity are still being violent. They will bring in the Kingdom by force if need be. Jesus says as much in the NT, according to some views.

Nevertheless, peaceful Anglican ways call out more profoundly to me than any of the warfare being urged upon us, mainly it seems by bishops. So, rather than fight I will just keep on following the Jesus who is Risen Lord, who, as UCC says, is still speaking to us. Now hearing that voice is a real listening process.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 3:48pm GMT

Didn't Bishop Frank Weston of Zanzibar break communion with a number of others (including the Abp of Canterbury) over an open Communion at the Kikuyu Conference in 1913?
And I recall years ago being told by a UMCA bishop from Tanzania that those from evangelical dioceses in the country were advised by their (Sydney-trained) pastors to go to Lutheran churches if they found themselves in an UMCA diocese.
It seems that breaking Communion is something of a tradition in Tanzania.

And as for homsexuality being totally unknown in Africa, and a European/American abomination - didn't many of the Ugandan Martyrs, both RC and Anglican, die because of their refusal to accept the advances of the then Kabaka (king) of Uganda?

Posted by cryptogram at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 4:50pm GMT

'One day, I suppose I'll just get up and tell them they're wrong, rather than fume quietly and afterwards write measured critiques that fail to get answered. One day... '

Posted by: Simon Morden on Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 12:54am GMT

Wonderful Simon. All power to your elbow !

I shall look forward to reading them.

Posted by laurence at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 6:23pm GMT

>if we stay together, "agreeing to disagree," the liberals are proven right.

>if we stay together, "agreeing to disagree," the liberals are proven "Anglicans rather than Purtians."

There, fixed your typo. :)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 8:29pm GMT

Charlotte and NP

Separatist or Protestant are just labels. Don't get drawn into rock throwing. People will come up with whatever names they want. Some people will be happy to share their labels with some and not with others. If nothing else, the confusion over what it means to be a protestant, evangelical, separatist, christian, child of God is going to get people thinking. People are also going to have to do more than rely on pretty speeches and sychophantic priesthoods to demonstrate their faith. They are going to have to walk the talk.

Simon M's postings have warmed my heart. There are people of faith who look beyond the labels. There are people of faith who look not just at that which flatters them or passages they can twist to justify their hates. There are people who are prepared to ask the hard questions. There are people who are prepared to look at the whole Torah and not just use it as a propoganda tool with some authors more favoured than others because they justify hateful theology and repressive regimes.

I woke this morning contemplating that Jesus' disciples had been unable to stay awake to see and recognise Jesus' in his Glory in the garden at Gethsename. Jesus cried out to the cross "why have you forsaken me?" Yet I contemplate that this "pinnacle" of Christian theology would be no more capable of recognising Jesus' Glory than those two disciples, even if she were an incarnate human being. Further, that they would forsake and abuse her just as they have forsaken and abused whole tracts of the Torah. Jesus' suffering was appalling, but look at the cultural and genocidal suffering his "peak" bodies have imposed on humanity - and not just the Jews...

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 8:34pm GMT

The Kabaka going after his pages was part of the pre colonial picture, but has been somewhat hyped since then ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 8:39pm GMT

NP writes: "Charlotte - rather than "separatists" try "protestants."

All right, that helps: NP is saying that the Church of England and the Anglican Communion are not Protestant. That is what the Separatists of Elizabeth I and James I and VI's reign said, too.

We are living through yet another one of these cycles, which are regular features in the history of the English Church and her daughter Churches.

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 9:24pm GMT

Cheryl Clough: I'll have to disagree with your comment, while appreciating the spirit in which it was offered.

The word "Separatist," like the word "Dissenter," is, I think, more than a label. It names a coherent, intelligible set of phenomena which come together as a potent force, from time to time, in Anglican Church history.

That is why I think it would be helpful to begin using it now. It would help Anglicans understand the movements they are dealing with in the present, by analogy to closely similar movements in the past.

For example, the Anglican Covenant just presented by Reform to the Archbishop of Canterbury (article above) calls for the powers of bishops to be diminished considerably.

This cannot be surprising. Historically, Separatists have been hostile to the episcopal form of Church government. They prefer the Congregationalist form, because they prefer a controlled, purified, closed church. It is easier to control and purify the membership of a congregation than it is to control and purify a territorial diocese.

The Reform manifesto does not even consider the option of worshipping side-by-side with persons of widely varying views, temperaments, and degrees of sanctification, in a geographically-organized parish or diocese. This is not something Separatists do. They want to purge the tares and keep the wheat.

Posted by Charlotte at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 12:03am GMT

well Charlotte - what you fail to see is that the protestants are now the majority in the CofE - protesting against the communion being hijacked by a small radical group which is destroying unity and causing fractures.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 7:18am GMT

Actually the liberals have been dealing with destroying unity for quite some time now. Too liberal parishes have been the targets of restructuring, doctrinal discipline, plantings of families to "rescue" the misguided.

The only thing that has changed in the last few months is honesty. It is not being swept under the rug.

What concerns the conservatives is not that it has been happening, but they have been caught out doing it. What also concerns them is that they have not been able to keep the liberals isolated and confused and without a vocabulary to defend themselves.

That is why things have escalated.

In a rant with my previous husband who tried to get my help to performance manage a problem employee today. Why bring you "sinners" to me to punish and pass judgement when you have colluded with worse sinners against me for years?

Sorry, there ain't no bad judgment on the homosexuals because you colluded to hide the evidence of corrupt priests, pedophiles, domestic abuse. Let alone the public acts of anti-semitism, attempted physical genocides, ongoing attempts at cultural genocide.

Physician: heal thyself. And in the meantime stop throwing stones, your glass house has developed a nasty draft.

And guarding the door doesn't have much meaning when the door isn't part of a wall anymore. Hang on to those keys, but they ain't stopping anyone going anywhere. Maybe they will keep you warm at night.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 9:50am GMT


It is interesting to see that my direct points were not answered by Simon!

Posted by dave williams at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 11:51am GMT

A puzzle:
Why flag up 'traditional breadth' when neither 'tradition' nor 'breadth' is something virtuous in and of itself?
'TRADITION' simply means what has been widely believed or practised (in certain circles, whether wide or limited). Whereas the relevant point is whether things are *justified* in being belived or practised. To bow to tradition is, in this way, not much different from bowing to fashion. In each case there is no thought behind it. One is simply doing the 'done thing' unthinkingly.
'BREADTH' is likewise something neutral. The more choice one has, the more bad choices that can potentially include. Where is the virtue in being able to come to whatever conclusion one wants? No virtue; but some vice, in that 'want' is elevated above research. (We can guess why.) The academic enterprise is precisely a refinement process which can often involve the jettisoning of various candidate theories.
So any appeal to 'traditional breadth' is the antithesis of the academic/critical enterprise.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 12:35pm GMT

Nonsense, Christopher. We all know perfectly well what 'traditional breadth' signifies — a commitment to respect those who within the Christian tradition prioritise things in a different hierarchy from our own, although that does not make those variant opinions immune to criticism. (One only has to look (on a nice, neutral doctrinal level) at how the Orthodox church manages to contain both Nestorian and Alexandrian tendencies within one communion.)

Tradtional breadth does not equal 'anything goes' — the usual dung-smeared stick with which critical Christians are beaten. It's actually rooted in those old fashioned Christian virtues of humility and waiting on God, and I would go to the stake for that.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 1:43pm GMT

Christopher Shell gives the game away. The agenda is the Sydney agenda, and non-conformists will be tolerated as well as "traditionally broad" Anglicans are there.
This variety of evangelicalism is seriously weak in its doctrine of the church, which it envisages as "people like us" - whether that be construed as people who think like us, or people like us who are (alone) among the Elect.
The last time I looked, one of the catholic creeds (which rank with the scriptures and the "Anglican formularies" as authoritative sources of what we believe and practise) contained the clause "We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church", which means among other things that we believe the church's unity consists in its and its members' relationship with God (its holiness), in its relationship with the rest of the Christian community world-wide (its catholicity) and in its relationship with those who have formed its past (its apostolicity). Lose any of these relations within the church and you go spinning off into potentially very eccentric orbits indeed.

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 3:05pm GMT

cryptogram talks about the church " spinning off into potentially very eccentric orbits indeed."

Yes - this is a risk - I wonder when we will see some eccentric church ordain a practising thief.....after all, all property is theft and, you know, are we really sure the bible means that we should not steal when it say that?? Surely we should not be discriminating against the cleptos!

If you think that is ridiculous - imagine seeing bishops who don't believe in the resurrection (depite what Paul says about such futilefaith!).....or archbishops who can call for an ordination not to happen and then preside over it a few weeks later...."eccentric" indeed.

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 4:20pm GMT

Ah yes, bishops who don't believe in the resurrection. That old canard

Would you care to name names?

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 6:37pm GMT

bishops who don't believe in the resurrection

Names, please. Don't bother with David Jenkins, since we all know that AP misquoted him.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 6:55pm GMT


Eccentric also includes Bishops who announce that the Holy Spirit does not talk to people and that anyone who says they have been spoken to is a liar, insane, delusional or of the "evil one". They did a quick about take leading up the Nias earthquake, and now in typical propoganda style like to make out that they never said such a thing.

CS's comments about breadth not being virtuous stunned me. The most beautiful rebut I can think of comes from 1 Corinthians 12:13-31 with the key highlights noted for those who can't be bothered opening a dictionary:

"...Now the body is not made up of one part but of many... The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

That was the joy of broad tent Anglicanism. It had a vision of encapsulating elements from all parts of the body of Christ. It did not seem obsessed with being the "perfect" liver or amputating limbs or removing ovaries or denying needs or depriving wellbeing to either its own or others.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 13 December 2006 at 8:13pm GMT

>So any appeal to 'traditional breadth' is the antithesis of the academic/critical enterprise.<

No it's not. There is nothing wrong with traditional breadth. Tradition provides the materials to work with (especially in narrative and postmodern understandings of religion) and breadth is the variety of outcomes that the citical process can produce.

For example I had a go at producing a short sermon for a workshop that draws on two traditions to add impetus to the insight of Christian tradition on the body and newness.

In one sense the outcome is orthodox because it takes the main Hellenic strand of Christianity, but on the other hand its critical method and use of Buddhism is heterodox in method. Traditional resources and broad outcome: the liberal end of postliberalism.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 2:17am GMT

NP wrote: “I wonder when we will see some eccentric church ordain a practising thief.....after all, all property is theft and, you know, are we really sure the bible means that we should not steal when it say that?? Surely we should not be discriminating against the cleptos!”

”When we will see???” :?=

Also, I’m afraid that the 7th (8th) Commandment does not “mean that we should not steal”, but that we should not engage in, or facilitate, Slavery.

Because what the Bible says is not “steal”, but not steal human beings.

Bibliolatry without the Bible.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 6:21am GMT

Chaps - find your own heresy refs - I forgot to mention PBs who do not believe John 14:6 too!

Cheryl - I agree that the eye cannot say it does not need the foot - the point is we are talking about different bodies now.

I know some people have called TEC liberabism "a cancer" - an horrible, painful analogy, I think - but it shows we are not talking about one body.....GC2003 /2006 dismembered the old body by its unilateral actions and lack of repentance - and deliberately did so, despite being asked to consider the rest of the body....what you might call the actions of a bully?

Posted by NP at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 7:09am GMT

Goran - what a devastating point you make by highlighting a typo!

Have a read of the Bible - look up Onesimus - you will find a revolutionary attitude taught....but you can carry on looking for typos if you think that is useful

Posted by NP at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 8:54am GMT

Breadth is not remotely virtuous. That is: not intrinsically.
For that matter, nor is narrowness intrinsically virtuous.
What is virtuous is integrity, even-handed research and love of the truth.
I think there's a danger of confusing breadth with unified-diversity. But of course there is a point at which diversity also becomes a bad thing. It's absolutist/fundamentalist to present diversty and/or breadth as always good in all circumstances. A moment's thought and a few counter-examples can easily refute that.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:12am GMT

By the way I am also in favour of all living together. Separation will mean that everyone ends up preaching to the converted and (more importantly) learning nothing because they never encounter or acknowledge views different from their own.

Contrast this with the healthier approach in teh academic world, where there is a free market of ideas and they are ruthlessly thrashed out and refined.

In the academic world there is quality control - not control of people but control of the quality of ideas. The prevailing postmodernism has it that all views however half-baked are worthy (equally worthy?? surely not) of consideration.

That is good news for my own half-baked, ill-informed views on car mechanics, astrophysics and numerous other subjects. Postmodernist pluralists everywhere would be deconverted if only they had to listen to me holding forth on these topics.

So (in the church as in all other arenas): all views are worth a hearing; but the idea that all views are equally good/accurate/correct is barking.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:20am GMT


GC2003/2006 attended the wellbeing of their own body. There's not much point worrying about the state of your kidneys if my own are not in order.

They did not go into another's jurisdiction and appoint bishops or other people.

They did set a precedent for how to handle women and homosexuals within their own communion.

But then so did Jesus when he went amongst the lepers.

Some of the extreme reactions are not so much to do with what they did but a fear that they might actually be successful. If their body is healthier by how they treat women and homosexuals, it raises the conundrum for the other dioceses who covertly or overtly approve of the mistreatment of such souls.

Better to accuse and mutilate the US's body than admit to the beauty within? Better to send them to the cross than allow them to live? Better to "kill" the body rather than allow the fruits of their works to be made fully manifest?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:38am GMT

"We are talking about different bodies now" writes NP.
"We were all baptised by one Spirit into one body" writes St Paul (I quote from NIV, an impeccably evangelical translation).

So were so-called liberals and Catholics baptised by a different Spirit? Has the power been cut off? Or is baptism NOT "an effectual sign of grace" (The Catechism), but a symbol of an interior change which has previously taken place but only in the Elect? I think I'll stick with St Paul on this one.

Be very careful about assuming you know just who is among the fixed number of the elect. As St Augustine sagely noted, some who appear to be within may at the last reckoning be found to be without, and likewise some who appear to be without may be found to be within. It's all back to those tares again, and the master's advice to leave the sorting to the appropriate time.
The doctrine of assurance is less to do with an individual being able to caper around singing "I'm S-A-V-E-D" than it is with the utter reliability of God's promises - He who has promised is faithful. It is not a good idea, NP, to unchurch those who see things from a different angle.

Posted by cryptogram at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 9:50am GMT

Chaps - find your own heresy refs

NP, I'm not at all sure that's a legitimate response. I think you made the allegation that there were Anglican bishops (pl) who did not 'believe in the resurrection', so either you need, when challenged, to offer some sort of chapter and verse or to retract the accusation. Otherwise your contribution to the discussion amounts to that of a mischief-maker, don't you think?

The John 14:6 discussion is, I think, a different matter. To reject John 14:6 would be to declare that (Christ) is NOT the way, the truth, etc. I don't know of anyone who's done that and remained a Christian (after all, there'd be no point). The commentaries discuss at great length how this text is to be interpreted, who the 'I' is in this context (historical Jesus or eternal Word) and all that sort of thing.

Naturally, for the ConsEv, all other faiths (and most other Christian traditions) contain nothing of God about them (even though the Scriptures disagree) — but that's not to be found in my draft of the Nicene Creed.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 10:00am GMT

Cryptogram, I liked your posting. One of the phrases I am currently using is that there are some people who have stopped trusting God. They have decided that God isn't doing a good enough job and they are going to step up and become judge and magistrate and prison officer. Good luck to them.

Chistopher S "A moment's thought and a few counter-examples can easily refute that." A moment's thought could have posted a specfic example which could be considered on its merit. Otherwise that is simply a bluff statement.

Plus I love God's attitude to scholars and scribes. For example: Jeremiah 8:8-12 “ ‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished,says the LORD."

And Isaiah 59:4-8 (though all of 59 is worthy) "No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 1:44pm GMT

>Separation will mean that everyone ends up preaching to the converted<

Not so. I talk to people who disagree with me all the time, and regard it as normal. More generally, I reckon that even if the Reform and Anglican Mainstream folks organised their own party, the rest would be a mixture of undefined, open evangelicals, moderate and liberal anglo-catholics, liberals, radicals. So there would still be a conversation, and still an outreach into society and conversation there too.

Christopher Shell: Postmodernism is not simply an abandonment of critical tools and taking any old chat. It is about understanding the relativity of knowledge and the place of story, but it still uses critical tools as, say, in historiography, philosophy, social science research. It is still the case that stories we live by are refined.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 3:36pm GMT

the idea that all views are equally good/accurate/correct is barking.

Quite right — but it's a straw man. I don't really think postmodernism is trying to say all apprehensions are of equal merit, but rather that more than one apprehension may exist and that we must acknowledge this. But I'm no philosopher.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 14 December 2006 at 4:41pm GMT

Sorry Christopher, but this posting coincided with a BBC article today. You wrote "In the academic world there is quality control - not control of people but control of the quality of ideas."

But we are seeing in the academic world that quality control means propoganda control. Everyone might be concerned about some nations' attempts to deny the holocaust ever happened.

But things have degenerated in the US. According to this BBC article 10,000 scientits, including 52 Nobel laureates have signed a statement protesting about political interference in the scientific process. They are calling for restoration of scientific integrity in government policy.

Apparently exclusive divine truth and acting upon it is not simply the province of solo scripturalists in a communion setting...

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 15 December 2006 at 6:46am GMT

I wonder about "political interference" in science it can be a bad thing if there is misuse of science for wrong agendas. However sometimes these statements mean "we are the experts therefore we are not accountable to anyone outside"

Politics has a bad name these days because of bad politicians -but if we take it in a less polluted sense -then...

Posted by dave williams at Friday, 15 December 2006 at 11:43am GMT

Well, scientists should certainly not have to be accountable to religionists - the Church should stop interfering where it has nothing to say. Actually, France has the right idea - the church sticks to religion in the private sphere.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 15 December 2006 at 2:35pm GMT

I gasped in horror at the news that the US's EPA libraries were being shredded. The gemstone of evidence of what chemicals had been used where and their impact on humans and the environment is gone.

Who benefited from this? The only ones I can see who are benefited are chemical manufacturers who have managed to have the government collude in the destruction of legally admissable evidence. the only winners are their lawyers who now can dispute the veracity of victims' claims to damage...

This the the scholarly truth that we are to aspire to?

Jesus said the Spirit of Truth would make all things clear.

One Truth is that the Truth exists, irregardless of propoganda machines. And in times of blatent propoganda and censorship, even scribes have no credibility. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 15 December 2006 at 6:11pm GMT


Its always good to have your certainty Please keep coming out with your strong, fothright opinions about what is right and wrong, what should be allowed and what shouldn't be allowed.


Posted by dave williams at Friday, 15 December 2006 at 11:12pm GMT

Unlike some liberals, Dave, I'm not wishy-washy and relativist. I think your ideas and views are harmful and should be actively challenged. However, my opinions are my own. It would be refreshing if conservatives would own their views rather than assume they speak on behalf of their Sky-Daddy God.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 10:10am GMT

Quality control exists in: publishing; job appointments etc.. There is nothing inherently sinister about it and in some circumstances it is inevitable. I do however agree that there can sometimes be a question about whether it is indeed quality control; at times it can be the replication of the status quo engineered by those already in power.

Now...surely you can think of some counter-examples to the absolutist dogma that diversity is always good. Some of my neighbours steal my mobile phone, others don't. Vivat diversity!

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 19 December 2006 at 12:38pm GMT
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