Comments: more on Peterborough

The link on lay presidency claim the present custom (a priest) is "unbiblical"... Well, not being mentioned in the Good Book, makes it un-Biblical?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 10:10am GMT


Thursday, November 5, 2009
Donald Alister ( Bishop-designate of Peterboro, UK makes a pathetic statement.
The Bishop-designate of Peterborough, U.K. made the following statement upon the announcement of his appointment. (He is a conservative evangelical who has been nominated to a traditionally anglo-catholic diocese)

"God’s love is very important to me. That’s what you expect to hear from a clergyman, of course! But I firmly believe in the central Christian truths that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead to give me eternal life. That belief thrills me, and I love sharing it with others. Quite wonderfully, Jesus established his Church, which is an odd and sometimes fallible organisation, yet amazingly he has entrusted to us the huge task of sharing his love with the world. This means inviting all people to experience it for themselves. The longing to express God’s love is at the very core of who I am."

I take issue with his assertion about "central Christian truths" - "that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that he rose from the dead to give me eternal life"

Oh for goodness sake! Is the heart of christian truth only about "me" - which Donald Alister asserts?

Does not the the biblical record assert that "truth" has to do with the stewardship of creation; with the pursuit of justice; and with the call of Jesus to "live in the kingdom of God"?

The bishop-designate also states that "Jesus established his Church".

Oh really! Are we to assert that Jesus established a Church (based on a couple of New Testament verses)?

Is it not more faithful to the New Testament writings to say that Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, and that his followers were the ones who "established a Church"?

I have no doubt that Donald Alister is a good man.

But I think that his understanding of the meaning of Jesus and the beginning of the christian churches is remarkably facile.

Posted by J. Michael Povey at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 10:35am GMT

I wonder at the stupidy behind the appontment of a 'conservative' person as Bishop in a traditionally Anglo Catholic diocese. Also his comments on the liberal wing of the church are unchristian, narrow and lacking

in gospel love and charity. He sounds like the pharisees that so often did battle with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fudalmentalism is the scourge and evil of our age. Causing wars, muder and hurt in its path.

Fr John

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 11:37am GMT

Never mind; John Richardson is worried that Allister is dangerously liberal. Just goes to show.

Posted by toby forward at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 12:50pm GMT

In the Episcopal Church in the United States bishops are elected by the people they serve. How does the appointment process work?
Tom Downs

Posted by Tom Downs at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 1:33pm GMT

Thanks Toby, I have added a link.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 1:35pm GMT

I have to say, what would distress me, were I unfortunate enough to be in England, is the idea of a bishop who wants to first fight off all his Liberals and then all his Anglo Catholics - wanting to fight, fight fight. Urghhhh

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 1:46pm GMT

"Fu[n]dalmentalism is the scourge and evil of our age."-Fr. John E. Harris-White

Ain't that the ever-living truth. The same cancer that has ravaged Islam is infecting Christianity rapidly.

Somehow I get the picture of a toddler screaming for attention by engaging in bad behavior with an increasingly apathetic audience of a younger generation that gives up and lapses into agnosticism and secularism.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 1:51pm GMT

I hope someone in England provides a full and clear answer to Tom Downs' very pertinent question. How much longer is the CofE going to continue this anachronistic and self-destructive polity? In the Episcopal Church, heaven knows, we do occasionally elect and consecrate some real dolts as bishops, but at least then it's our own fault. (And if we're lucky they'll leave and join ACNA.)

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 7:36pm GMT

Never mind the spurious alignment with Islamic fundamentalism (which would only whip up a fury), so-called Christian fundamentalism is more than bad enough. Wikipedia has some good articles:

* a precise definition of Christian fundamentalism in terms of belief in 5 doctrines:
* a slight clarification on Liberal Christianity: - note the emphasis on textual criticism and "a [...] willingness to interpret scripture without any preconceived notion of inerrancy of scripture or the correctness of Church dogma".

I see the liberal/literalist distinction as like an onion: the bible has to be a product of (some of) humanity in the same way as an onion's flesh is within its skin. It's just an inside-out world view, to take this book and assume it has more authority despite its differences from reality.

There are those who manage to be liberals *and* anglo-catholics; those who have faced up to the reality of reality and theology and yet still affirm the value of ritual - and sacrament - in bringing the numinous to heart every sunday, and it is for those I have deepest, greatest, respect.
This bishop-elect would do well to study Affirming Catholicism: .

Posted by Tim at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 10:34pm GMT

Allister states in the paper on Lay Presidency:

"I have exercised my right as an incumbent not to allow women readers, because I cannot square my conscience with women preaching."

For this and other reasons I wonder how he can envisage holding this office in the Church of England, and how those involved in appointments could countenance him being a diocesan.

Or has his position changed?

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 11:07pm GMT

Tom and Bill

We have answered this question many times on TA over the years, the explanation is at

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 13 November 2009 at 11:18pm GMT

" I hold a communion service every Sunday, and teach the Prayer Book rubric "that every Parishioner shall communicate at least three times in the year, of which Easter to be one". But I wonder whether communion properly belongs in the parish church as a public service rather than in smaller informal meetings. And I wonder what the Lord meant by "Do this, whenever you drink it": did he mean on every occasion we eat and drink with other believers or (as I suspect) whenever you celebrate the Passover, that is once a year? - Copyright © Donald Allister, 1993.

Until I saw this today, here on the T.A. website, I was not aware of this seditious opinion about the efficacy of the service of Eucharist in the Church of England, published by Donald Allister - a man now called and approved to be the next Bishop of Peterborough in England.

On a former thread, I had taken this prospective bishop at his word - spoken at the time of his election - that he would be open to all opinions within the Church, as befits a diocesan bishop. I am now sadly disillusioned.

Now I have caught sight of this statement by the future bishop, I am horrified at his cavalier attitude towards the most important worship activity in the Church - in fact, the only one instituted and commanded by Jesus himelf, as being necessary for 'eternal life' - "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you". Also: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day".

How could such a Church official who is given the task of shepherding the sheep of Christ offer such scant recognition of the stated intention of the Founder of the Church? Does Mr. Allister (I suppose that is what he may prefer to be called in his new position) have some other esoteric worship function that he sees as preferable, to be used in place of the Dominical Sacrament of the Church whose liturgical tradition he will be expected to uphold and teach? The mind boggles!

Also, this cleric's published thoughts about Lay
Presidency at the Eucharist makes him a better candidate for the GAFCON Diocese of Sydney, Australia, than of the Mother Church of England.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 2:29am GMT

Thank you Simon, the link was most useful and educational. It would behoove Americans to learn of a system not like theirs, if not for the fact that not everybody thinks like we do.

Tim, if you were to experience firsthand what is happening with the fundamentalist Christians in the states, you might not think that my analogy is spurious. Remember, it was the fundamentalists that brought the former president to power, and they are a vocal minority that seem to have much greater clout in our government than yours. Over here, they are a frightening spectacle with great potential.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 2:41am GMT

I enjoyed his articles on sacramental theology. To a non-theologian they seemed very provocative, and gave me lots to think about. The main thing that worried me is that he seems to think of the sacraments, especially baptism and confirmation, as the equivalent of Boy Scout or Girl Scout merit badges. Collect them at the right time then advance to the next level. His view of the eucharist I am more familiar with, but it makes me wonder if holy orders are needed at all. It might be more economical and more productive to put church administration and oversight out to bid to various outsourcing firms.

Posted by anthony at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 3:24am GMT

Thank you Simon for the link to the description of the process for appointing a bishop.
Perhaps I should have asked, "How did you get this particular appointment?" Described as "a conservative evangelical who has been nominated to a traditionally anglo-catholic diocese." On the face of it this wouldn't seem like such a wonderful match. One presumes those making the choice would have been thinking of the welfare of the diocese, but are there other issue at work that sometimes are allowed to over ride the best interests of the congregations given into the bishop's charge?
Tom Downs

Posted by Tom Downs at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 4:10am GMT

Embarrassed that my casual "exemplary fellow" remark has morphed into a meme.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 6:00am GMT

We have obviously been infiltrated by the mad Jensenites of Sydney.

Posted by Rev Ivan Ackeroff at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 6:43am GMT

A Bishopric is worth a compromise on women...

So liberals out there, keep your pro gay views to your self and when you get your bishopric you can come out.....

The Anglican way

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 8:06am GMT

Andrew, never underestimate the reforming effect of a promise of the purple.

Posted by toby forward at Saturday, 14 November 2009 at 9:42am GMT

In the light of this latest appointment, there's an interesting article about senior appointments and "classical evangelicals" a term used by the author to denote those who oppose women as presbyters, at this URL
I guess Donald Allister no longer qualifies for this description.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 15 November 2009 at 3:53pm GMT

Why are not the same voices that spoke against Dr Jeffrey John being raised against this man's appointment, especially as he is to be a Diocesan and not an Area Bishop? This man does not hold to the traditional teaching of the Church of England, as some would define it, and he has clearly written, spoken, and acted in accord with his beliefs and conscience. He has not given any reassurances that he will not act upon these unorthodox views when he is consecrated a bishop and enthroned as a Diocesan.

I could answer my own question all too easily! - But I cannot answer the question , 'What possessed the Vacancy in See Committee to vote for him?' I wonder if they were in possession of all the facts and had bothered to read all that this priest had written.

Come on people of the Diocese of Peterborough, act now after the example of Anglican Mainstream and others to get this appontment withdrawn.

Posted by Commentator at Monday, 16 November 2009 at 12:03pm GMT

"Why are not the same voices that spoke against Dr Jeffrey John being raised against this man's appointment," - Commentator, on Monday -

Well, of course you're right, Mr. Commentator (or should that be Ms or Mrs?). The only thing is that the objectors against the Peterborough Bp-Elect are likely to be quite different from the objectors against Dr. Jeffrey John. I surmise that the Mainstream objectors to Jeffrey John were of the Conservative Evangelical variety, and not those Anglo-Catholics who might now want to object to the appointment of Mr. Allister.

His views on the Eucharist - as a rite more properly enacted (one might scarcely say *celebrated* in these circumstances) occasionally in small private meetings in homes - would seem to be at serious odds with Anglicans who rejoice in the public Celebration of The Eucharist on Sundays at least. And his advocacy of Lay-Presidency sits not too well with any other part of the Anglican Communion - except in the Diocese of Sydney, whose Archbishop is known to preside at his General Synod in collar and tie.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 17 November 2009 at 10:27am GMT

Q. "Why are not the same voices that spoke against Dr Jeffrey John being raised against this man's appointment," - Commentator, on Monday.

A. He is not known to be gay.


Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 18 November 2009 at 4:43pm GMT

The new proposed bishop seems to speak with such certainty on matters about we which we can know nothing. Doesn't he know that religion is not a science or factual ?

I suppose he might see me as one of those licentious liberals or creepy catholics ...

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 18 November 2009 at 8:37pm GMT

Donald Alister is a deeply committed Christian,well versed in New testament teaching, pursuing the priniples and beliefs of the historic creeds. He is in every way qualifed to be a bishop in the Church of England. He is at imes controversial, but who were more so than the prphets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Maybe some of his critics would do well to study afresh, and with greater care, what christianity is really all about.

Posted by Cnon Peter Cook at Thursday, 5 January 2012 at 6:53pm GMT
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