Comments: Peterborough speaks some more

TEC requires candidates for ordination to attend either a TEC seminary for three years or to top off seminary education at, say, Duke University [Methodist] with a year at a TEC seminary. This is on top of having earned a 4 year undergraduate degree,usually a B.A. [There are exceptions, but this is the normal course.]

I can think of NO TEC seminary, with the possible exception of Trinity, that would regard believing that God stopped the sun for Joshua as historical truth. Even the RCs have abandoned that one.

So what is seminary education like for C of E candidates for ordination? Undergraduate degree plus seminary?

More to the point, what educational qualifications does the bishop-designate of Peterborough bring to the table? And if he decides to mix it up w/TEC over the ordination of gays, why should we pay any attention?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 2:02pm GMT

Fundamentalists from whatever religion are the cause of the hate, distrust and conflict in the world, and between faiths, and within faith. Backward in spirit, stullified in history are two descriptions of them, that come to mind.

How can such a person lead the family of God in a diocese?

Peterborough diocese deserves all our prayers. Im sure the diocese can withstand a person so limited in understanding of folk, and the ongoing life of the people of God.

Fr John

Posted by Fr John Harris-White at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 3:20pm GMT

Archbishop Williams wets his gaiters over the election of Mary Glasspool as a Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles, but I assume will be chief consecrator of Donald Allister as Bishop of Peterborough. As far as I know both Canon Glasspool and Archdeacon Allister are faithful and devoted in their personal family lives. Canon Glasspool is by all accounts an outstanding pastor and proclaimer of the Gospel of Christ. Archdeacon Allister is by all appearances a Biblical looney-tune. I continue to wonder whether someone has kidnapped Our Rowan and replaced him in Lambeth Palace with a diabolically clever plastic replica.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 3:45pm GMT

That a man like Donald Allister could be consecrated a Bishop in the Church of England says a lot about the Evangelical rot that has spread throughout the Church in the past 60 years.

Posted by Kurt at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 4:02pm GMT

I take great exception to Bill Moorhead's calling Donald Allister a 'Biblical looney-tune'.
I have enjoyed many a happy and harmless hour watching Looney Tunes and have never been incited by them to genocide or homophobia or misogyny. I hope, Bill, that you will retract this slur on a fine body of work.

Posted by toby forward at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 4:51pm GMT

Absolutely bang on Fr. John Harris-White. Fundamentalism is a scourge that needs to be challenged head on, wherever it crops up it's ugly little head. Mark my word, it will (and has to much degree in our small towns of the USA) set back Christianity hundreds of years.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 5:58pm GMT

I have met Christian evangelicals or fundamentalists who felt that the Jshua story was literally true. But, for one to believe that Joshua literally stopped the sun from moving, it seems to me that either a) one has to believe that Copernicus and 500 years of science is wrong, that the Roman Catholic Church was right in condemning Galileo, and that the Earth is indeed the center of the Universe, or at least our solar system, or b) one is capable of a huge cognitive dissonance by believing that Joshua stopped the Sun AND believing that modern astronomy is correct.

Posted by peteri at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 6:05pm GMT

Whilst I have little support for biblical fundamentalists, can we at least be fair?

Before we criticise the Bishop too much please look CAREFULLY at the article by Andrew Brown. How much of it the Bishop's actual belief, and how much of it is put into the mouth of the Bishop by the journalist.

Far from making any statement on the story of Joshua, the Bishop refused to comment, making the sort of verbal barrage that we all make when faced by a pushy jounalist trying to create a story. And as someone who personally believes 99% of biblical narrative is myth not historical fact I see no contradiction between that position and the Bishop's postion on Jonah. We are asked not to discount a story, a narrative, a valuable myth. I see no implication in the Bishop's comment which explicitly implies that the Jonah narrative is historically true.

I think it is a journalistic stitch up, an article not about what the Bishop meant, but about what Andrew Brown "thinks he really meant".


Posted by Simon Robert Dawson at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 6:19pm GMT

His responses would seem to say a great deal about the process of "appointment" of bishops in the CofE.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 6:54pm GMT

Kurt -
I think you will find that Donald Allister's appointment has not been greeted with unqualified enthusiasm by all evangelicals.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 7:53pm GMT

He is going to be a gift to any journalist looking for 'loony vicar' stories.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 8:14pm GMT

"I have nothing to say on genocide".... Could someone ask the Bishop whether he meant "on genocide in the Old Testament", or whether he applies this truth to today also?

And "non-Christian religions in general are to be regarded as arising from a sinful perversion of natural revelation"....

What worries me less than one isolated example of what counts as a moral Christian these days is the fact that sufficient people must have believed this man to be an appropriate choice for a bishop, or must at least have believed that his views are not reasonable grounds for questioning his suitability.

Just who made that choice and on what grounds? How many people at the top of the CoE implicitly support these views?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 9:35pm GMT

Well, of course I was hoping for a story. The question is whether I found one. I think I represented pretty fairly his views. I certainly quoted accurately what he said. Had he wanted to say "of course not" he could have done so, and I would have reported it, too. But he didn't. He wanted to assert the primacy of biblical revelation over scientific truth, or law, if you would rather.

I am reasonably certain, Erika Baker, that he meant that he had nothing to say about genocide in the OT and did not want to claim that if it happened, God had not willed it. I would not go on from that to suppose he was in favour of any actual genocides now. I am sure he would resist them.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Thursday, 10 December 2009 at 11:59pm GMT

Andrew Brown's last paragraph is even worse, in my mind.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 5:10am GMT

Isn't this bishop a graduate of Peterhouse, Cambridge? If so, one must wonder what British education is coming to.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 7:21am GMT

"... a story that some people might think far-fetched. But Jesus talks about Jonah as if he was a real historical character. And that means that at the very least it's not the sort of story we can discount." - Bishop-elect Donald Allister -

Jesus told stories in mostly allegorical terms. His parabolic style of preaching should warn us not to be too literal about the 'story-telling' of Jesus. We were meant to see his stories about Biblical characters as revelatory of an underlying truth - apochryphal, perhaps, but non-theless having a valid message - like the O.T. generally

However, Donald obviously has a problem with some areas of biblical literalism - as shown in his interview with Andrew Brown. The question for me would be: What qualifies the bishop-elect's categorisation of what is literally true, and what can be considered apochryphal? And does he have an O.T. moral code grading for his choice, or the tenor of Christ's freedom in the Gospel ?

Is this man a credible episcopal guide on matters of Gospel freedom from the gnat-straining ethics of the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 7:57am GMT

Cynthia - the usual training for priests in the C of E is an undergraduate degree (usually 3 years, sometimes 4 depending on subject) plus 1 year of theological college if the degree was in theology, and 2 years if it was not. There are also part-time equivalents for those who cannot study full-time; these usually take twice the time to complete.

Posted by Liz W at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 9:04am GMT

I suppose this makes me wonder, if the the Church of England elected its bishops, like other provinces, would Donald Allister be going to Peterborough?

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 9:49am GMT

"More to the point, what educational qualifications does the bishop-designate of Peterborough bring to the table" - Cynthia

I understand the appointee has a strong interest in medical ethics, so might be a thorn in the side of a future Health Secretary once his turn for getting a space on the benches of the House of Lords comes his way. Alternatively he would most certainly be qualified as, say, a trustee on the board of a hospice in the diocese.

"Just who made that choice and on what grounds?" - Erika

The appointment of a bishop must be one of the few jobs where applicants are not required to provide their own cv (with 'profile', 'skills and achievements' etc), attend interviews, undergo psychometric tests or be grilled by a selection panel, let alone be subjected to the scrutiny of the ordinary folk of the diocese who are having to dig deep into their own pockets Sunday by Sunday, and scrimp and save on local mission work and building maintainence in order to uphold this idolatrous 'parish share' system whereby the central bureaucracy creams off parishioners' money to fund pointless diocesen schemes.

I'm sure this is some sort of retribution for the carving up of the former Diocese of Lincoln in the first place. It's not a proper cathedral anyway! (sorry for that fit of pique ;)

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 10:08am GMT

Liz W is slightly mistaken about the length of time spent at seminary (theological college) in the C of E.

Essentially, to train full time, it is three years for those under 30 (including non-graduates) except for theology graduates who get out in 2 (unless they do a research degree for which they are given more time).
It is two years full time for those over thirty.

Part-time training is almost always over three years.

There are always a small number of exceptions for whom different programmes apply (e.g. a mixture of residential and non-residential or shorter or longer times).

Archdeacon Allister (who, I have said before and I will say again, is a nice bloke) did two years at theological college after his first degree in Cambridge.

Posted by Wilf at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 1:53pm GMT

LizW is not quite right - it's a flexible system nowadays but usually a theology graduate does 2 years at college full time or maybe 2 or 3 part time on a course. Others do 2 years full time or 3 part time if over 30 and 3 full time if under 30.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 2:57pm GMT

"training for priests" - Liz

Far better for the priesthood to be entirely voluntary, with ministers out in the real world doing jobs the rest of us have to do, and spread the duties amongst the laity.

It would wipe out the need for the parish share system at a stroke.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 2:59pm GMT

Well, if ever there was an argument for increasing the episcopal gene pool in the CofE (say, oh I don't know with women maybe) this is it.

Posted by Grumpy High Churchwoman at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 3:59pm GMT

Toby Forward's criticism of my previous comment is very well taken. I apologize to Looney Tunes, and to the Warner Bros. cartoon oeuvre generally.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Friday, 11 December 2009 at 6:58pm GMT

FYI The shortlist for the candidates for the office of Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway has just been released. They are:

The candidates are:

The Venerable Dr John Applegate (born 1956), Course Principal, Southern North West Training Partnership, Diocese of Manchester & University of Manchester

The Very Rev Gregor Duncan (born 1950), Rector of St Ninian’s Church, Pollokshields and Dean of the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway

The Rev Canon Dr Alison Peden, (born 1952), Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Stirling; Chaplain of Forth Valley College, Stirling and Canon of St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth.

The new bishop will be elected by the Diocesan Electoral synod on 16 Jan 2010.

Posted by Kennedy at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 10:31am GMT

Thanks for information about the education of priests in C of E.

In the States, the person is also required to do a summer quarter of Clinical Pastoral Education, usually at a big teaching hospital. Most dicoeses expect people to also do a summer internship - this could be a mission trip or a parish placement. During the last two years in seminary, one has a parish field placement for more hands-on experience.

All are required to have psychological examination before seminary and when leaving. {I expect on the theory that if you're not crazy starting out,you might be by the end.] Married couples get couples counseling.

Everyone is required to take and pass the General Ordination Exams. If you Google that ohrase, I think you'll find copies of last year's. The multi-day exams are given in January.

I think I've got that right. Some of the expectations of field placement and summer internships may vary by seminary or diocese.

No claim that this is a perfect system - it can feel like going through hoops - but it's what we do.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 9:14pm GMT
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