Comments: Wycliffe Hall - another interview with Eeva John

This story really is amazing - it seems that those gathered at Wycliffe and those on its governing council are on a different planet to the rest of us. This is so obviously now a "public scandal" surely others will now have to take action?

Though as an English parish priest said to me this morning:
"I can't think my bishop would do very much to fix what is going on at Wycliffe - the description of staff relations there sounds just like the goings on in our diocese."
OOPS! .......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:45pm BST

Sad to see thses wounds festering.

Sad to see the Goddards and Dr Storkey go.

Glad to see the Bishop or Liverpool and the Principal making a joint statement - hopefully, this unity will help build up moreal at Wyclffe again and it is great that there are no gaps in the teaching staff and more women studying at Wycliffe than ever before!

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 2:51pm BST

Great interview with Eeva John. The Sunday Sequence programme is excellent because it gives guests the chance to speak at length and explain their views. Dr John was superb.

Posted by Claire L at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 8:30pm BST

I am reminded of the first Star Wars movie, where Princess Leah says to Darth Vader, "the tighter you make your grip around the empire the more it will slip through your fingers".

A leadership that has the buildings and the licence to print qualifications. But of what worth and credibility.

More damning, who has been silent when they should have intervened?

Even more damning, look at who supports them and how they talk.

Is this really Christianity's destiny? To be controlled by selfish souls who have no regard to the sensibilities of even other Christians (let alone the rest of humanity or Creation)? For whom the end justifies the means, no matter how deceitful or tyrannical the strategies.

You know, I broke with the Socialists in the 1980s because their paradigms of dialectical growth meant they had simply learnt how to argue and fight for power. They did not know how to heal or nurture. Their paradigm failed because they could never have peace because the skills of peacemaking were the antithesis of the skills required for success in their organizations.

Ditto with such Christians today.

You are either for accusations and tyranny, with no regard to others, the future or the bigger picture. Or you are for healing and peace, with compassion for others, concerned for the future, aware of our interdependence.

We live in a broken world because our systems are premised upon victory justifies the means, and it is fair game to vilify, repress or steal from any or everyone that gets in the way. To heal the world we need to say that it is the journey that matters and that a victory that is built upon cruelty and corruption is a blasphemous abomination. They can take their Baal idolatry and sacrificial paradigms, their thrones and high mounds and throw them into the sea. Such are meaningless and less than dust in God’s eyes.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 9:38pm BST

This link may be around a short while, I don't know: it is my transcript of what must be a very important interview, that just shows the effect of this Principal and the mismanagement. The interview is part of a sequence that started with the infamous video of Richard Turnbull himself.

The radio interview with Eeva John:

(If you want it Simon, you can take it and store it for yourself - reformat it if you wish to suit.)

At the moment I am connecting it with my own website piece on the strategy of Richard Turnbull and Reform:

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 10:45pm BST

Only you, NP, could see what is a disaster as a joint statement building up morale when the interviewee, Dr Eeva John, has no confidence in either of them. This is a managerial disaster that has been unfolding at an alarming rate, all in the service and style of dogma. Nothing is "great" - the statement is a cobbled together set of words about the past that has been overturned and a present about, er, numbers.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 10:50pm BST

Clare MacInnes writes:

“The minutes of the Council do not contain points that I have made dissenting from the recommendations of the Principal and Chair, nor do they record votes against recommendations because no vote was taken, so there were claims that a decision was unanimous when no opportunity had been given to formally register dissent.”

Should we be surprised? I really hope this is not the manner in which the Bishop of Liverpool runs his diocese. If we take 'unity' in the sense that NP seems to imagine, i.e. the crushing of all dissent, then what usually results is not morale but obedience out of fear and distrust. Appropriate for a military junta perhaps, or for the sixteenth-century Catholic church, but very hard to justify on any reputable foundation of Christian ethics.

A complete disregard for due process, intimidation, bullying, obfuscation, stonewalling, and suppression of dissenting voices. This is turning into a public scandal of the first order.

Posted by John Omani at Wednesday, 3 October 2007 at 11:08pm BST

Hard to get to the full bottom line of the facts when the hall leadership is hiding, spin doctoring, and loudly proclaiming nothing happened, or, is it? Only bad people suspect something happened?

Nevertheless, this mess - whether a twist of reputations and perceptions or whether rather more real world than mass media perceptions might convey - might, might, might allow us something of a glimpse through that singular window by which the whole worldwide communion will be framed, lead, and policed - if/when the conservative realignment has its way with church life.

Not a pretty picture, even if a frustratingly fuzzy one. Turnbull's remarks are fairly clear, no? He fancies himself a soldier in the conservative church realignment armies. And none of the rest of us, believers or not, makes any sense to him. Drum rolls, please, salute.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 1:06am BST

Pluralist: many thanks for posting these transcripts (the caricatures are pretty good too!). An extremely useful resource.

The political strategies and manoevers of Turnbull and Reform are now clearly uncloaked. You may also have noted the summer edition of CrossWay, the magazine of the Church Society, which follows Turnbull in suggesting that the 'open evangelicals' are 'battering classical evangelicalism as much as possible', and offers sharp criticism of the Bishop of Durham and Fulcrum. Apparently, one of the sins of the latter was to publish a poem praising the late 'Bishop of Rome'!

Cheryl: Your illustration was great and had me smiling.

Posted by Matthew B at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:29am BST

Pluralist - I have a lot of respect for Bishop James Jones and Dr, while I am sad to see some great people (Dr Goddard and Dr Storkey leave), I trust the two in charge.......remember, we do not know all that is going on

Posted by NP at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 7:34am BST

'remember, we do not know all that is going on'

Off topic - but salutary advice when you consider gay clergy and civil partnerships, that might or might not be physically expressed. Yet some people rush to judgement!

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:12am BST

Matthew B

Glad to bring some cheer into your day :-)

There are some people who support people of "their" camp, no matter how unscrupulous their methods.

One of my contemplations today is why do such souls condemn mutually-consenting same gender sex?

They don't seem to mind violence when it is done by one priestly caste over another, or vilification if it is done against women, or rejecting children or sacrificing them to the streets if they are "unworthy".

Who are such souls to condemn homosexuality or genetic abherations when they have no shame, and even gloat over their successes, even their "successes" rely on deceit or duress to succeed.

Is God really so impotent that God has to resort to such skullduggery?????

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:17am BST

The only answer is closure.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 11:50am BST

Merseymike - my, you are a tolerant "liberal", aren't you??!?! You want to burn books by conservative theologians too?

WH is full - and not just with divorced middle-aged women like some other training colleges.......sorry to disappoint you!

Posted by NP at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 3:02pm BST

And does God not call divorced middle aged women to serve him in the priesthood?

Maybe they have less to learn than arrogant 25 year old men.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:00pm BST

erm, what is wrong with divorced middle-aged women, please NP?

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:31pm BST

That comment does you no credit, NP. I hope you have the grace to overcome your self-righteousness and withdraw it.

Posted by cryptogram at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 4:39pm BST

crypto - it is a fact.....look at the ordinands in the CofE.....certain colleges attract mostly very mature students and certain colleges attract many more young men and women (WH has an increasing number of women, by the way!)

poppy - did I say there was anything "wrong" with that group of people?
-having said that, the CofE needs more young men and women who can give 30 years in ministry to build up the church, I think;
-having said that, the contribution (normally unpaid) of middle-aged and old people in the CofE is invaluable and wonderful and without them, we would be impoverished spiritually.
(but I confess, I am not convinced divorced people should be ordained.....based on St Paul's teaching of what the public lives of leaders in the church should look like)

Posted by NP at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 5:38pm BST

Unfortunately NP's comment may reflect a certain mindset among some Christians - remember George Carey's likening of the Church to an old woman muttering in the corner?

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 8:18pm BST

Can you imagine a physics department which teaches only Newtonian mechanics, regarding Einstein as too progressive? Or a politics department which only teaches Marxism? Or a history department which refuses to discuss 20th century history?

Can we actually say that Wycliffe teaches theology? Is theology a proper academic discipline if it is allowed to be taught in such a narrow fashion?

The University should disown it.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 9:59pm BST

No wonder NP doesn't like me - a divorced middle-aged woman. The antithesis of who should be in a theological college!

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 4 October 2007 at 10:43pm BST

Shame on you Cheryl ! Repent ! (asap!) :-)

Posted by L Roberts at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 12:08am BST

NP "-having said that, the contribution (normally unpaid) of middle-aged and old people in the CofE is invaluable and wonderful and without them, we would be impoverished spiritually."

Hmm, for some reason, the term "condescending twit" comes to mind.

Posted by dave p at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 12:12am BST

Turnbull will have to go, and he will. It is now only a matter of time.

Jones too must act soon, or lose all credibility.

Posted by L Roberts at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 12:13am BST

actually, NP, you did say there was something wrong with divorced, middle-aged women. not explicitly, i grant you, but by saying that WH was a better place for not being filled with them. one of your problems (and you have many) is that you fail to recognise nuance in language; another problem is that when you have been caught out in something discreditable you slide away from it. say what you believe, and only that, and if it isn't popular stick with it. and, if you make a mistake, own up to it. and that, i suggest, would be a good formula for the principal and council of wycliffe hall at the moment.

Posted by poppy tupper at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 8:28am BST

"based on St Paul's teaching of what the public lives of leaders in the church should look like)"

I must have missed your post where you explained why St Paul is the 4th infallible person of the Trinity.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 9:01am BST

Erika - are you aware that it is a long-held Anglican position that "all scripture is God-breathed" - including the inspired writings of ST Paul?

The fact you may not like some of the things he says does not invalidate those parts of scripture one bit.

Cheryl - I do not dislike you. I am sure you are a very kind person. I think you fantasise that you are a prophetess with a special mission from "Gaia", talk to angels etc - that's all. This is not dislike.

Posted by NP at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 9:17am BST

"certain colleges attract mostly very mature students and certain colleges attract many more young men and women (WH has an increasing number of women, by the way!)"

Hmm... why do I want to rewrite that as:
"certain colleges attract mostly very mature students and certain colleges attract many more young men with a lot to learn and some growing up to do"?

And I am told (by a WH staff member) that there are fewer women ordinands now than under McGrath's Principalship.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 12:09pm BST

I know you're not a linguist, but this is not too complicated in English.

God-breathed is not a synonym for dictated.
Inspired is not a synonym for infallible, nor for literally true.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 1:28pm BST

A rich irony that NP's comment about "the inspired writings of ST Paul" exactly mirrors the ambiguity of 2 Tim 3:16 - not that you'd guess it was ambiguous, the way it's bandied about.

Posted by mynsterpreost (= David Rowett) at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 5:01pm BST

NP wrote: "crypto - it is a fact"

NP's view of what's "factual" seems somewhat peculiar to me.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:19pm BST

NP wrote: "based on St Paul's teaching of what the public lives of leaders in the church should look like)"

St Paul had nothing to do with the so called Pastoral letters (an 18th century expression).

He had been dead for a century when they were penned, probably by old Polycarp's boys at Smyrna (electing a successor to Polycarp).

For centuries most refused to have anything to do with them knowing they weren't authentic.

They are not in the first great Pandect, the 4th century Codex vaticanus, for instance (maybe the very first pandect at that).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 5 October 2007 at 7:27pm BST

ok - bored now..... Erika, Goran, anyone carry on justifying whatever you like and ignoring whatever scriptures you do not like but......

Pls do not think you have "scholarship" on your side....plenty of real Anglican biblical scholars (eg +Durham, Dr Radner, Dr Goddard, Prof O'Donovan.....) who do not buy your views on the Greek, hermeneutics etc etc

Pls do not forget that Lambeth 1.10 stands (and the liberals in Lambeth Palace do not dare have another vote on the issue as they would lose again! This is not because the AC have not had Goran's lessons in Greek)

Pls do remember that +Akinola and the other African archbishops and bishops are all theologians and scholars too.... It is not just those who say the bible does not mean what it says on certain issues (normally to suit themselves) who have pHDs, you know!

Pls do ask yourself if you are falling into the trap of justifying your own desires....this is a trap we can all fall into and all need to be active in avoiding it on various issues.

And - pls read this book by Prof D A Carson (you will see why the Spirit should be called he (not it!) and why KJS' pluralistic views are contrary to what Christ says (in John 14) (I am being constructive - if you really want answers, I am giving you authoritative sources)

Posted by NP at Monday, 8 October 2007 at 10:07am BST

Bravo - you are right that these things are not synonyms (inspired / infallible / God-breathed etc.). But which of them describes a Paul who was in your view clearly wrong? In what sense are his words God-breathed at all?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 8 October 2007 at 1:22pm BST

The spirit of what Paul says about Christ and Christianity is wonderful. That's what God-breathed means.
This is not to say that he is right about the minutiae of every single social issue he mentions.

There are two possibilities, none of which discredit Paul as an outstanding teacher and disciple.

1. He did not actually speak out against same gender love, but against promiscuity, abusive relationships and perverted sexual relations, i.e. those who go against the nature of those participating.

2. He did speak out against same gender love, as he understood it in the context of his society.

That is not to say that we have to accept 1st century social norms as relevant for us today.

We believe in the Living God who reveals Himself constantly through the Spirit.

And it's not about God changing, but our understanding what God's love means and what it implies for all mankind developing and growing over time.

We no longer stone people, we don't find it acceptable to beat our children or chastise our wives. We no longer believe that slavery is acceptable. And we no longer demonise people who through no fault of their own are incapable of loving people from the opposite sex.

And we do this because over time, we have come to understand that all those "humane" things are what Jesus is asking of us today.

Simple as that.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 8 October 2007 at 5:16pm BST

Erika - re your point 1 - this is an interpretation which is not accepted by many scholars......

Pls have a read of this very good commentary on Romans by Douglas Moo for a scholarly review of interpretations of what Paul taught from God -

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 7:38am BST

I've just read the link Charles Wallen posted here yesterday (

I particularly liked this paragraph:

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus implies that this Great Commandment relativizes all others (Matthew 22:34-40). Paul concurred (Romans 13:8-10), and so did one of the Johannine authors (1 John 10). St. Augustine made a similar observation in his manual, On Christian Doctrine: “So if it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not yet understood them” (I, 36). Indeed, he argued, even an exegetically dubious interpretation wasn’t pernicious as long as it built up this twin love of God and neighbor.

He starts by quoting Martin Luther, who is not known for “ignoring scripture”, and who says: The true test by which to judge all books is to see whether they deal with Christ or not …. What does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even though St. Peter or Paul taught it. Again, what preaches Christ would be apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod did it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 10:00am BST
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