Thursday, 15 July 2004

CEN reports on synod

This week’s Church of England Newspaper has a large number of reports online:

Church launches new assault on poverty

General Synod: Clergy Discipline

General Synod: Restorative Justice

General Synod: Enabling a world of difference

General Synod: Domestic violence

General Synod: Marriage Law Review

General Synod: Stipend differentials

General Synod:Alternative sources of funding

General Synod: Christmas stamps

General Synod: Church Commissioners Annual Report

General Synod: Drug Misuse

General Synod: Common Worship: initiation services

and this editorial (which will disappear from this URL in a week, so is reproduced here, below the fold) for convenience of TA readers:
Editorial: Heresy on trial

Church of England Newspaper
Editorial: Heresy on trial

The fact that heresy was discussed by General Synod is surely a good sign, indicating that the Church of England does have some fundamental Christian truths to affirm, and if these are regularly denied by its commissioned teachers then it will cease to be Christian. Heresy goes to the very heart of what the Christian Church is about, a classic example being the denial of the deity of Christ – if Jesus is not God incarnate then we not in fact have ‘peace with God’. If Jesus is just a good man, then we are left with a fine example to follow, but any doctrine of his death saving us from our sins becomes absurd – it is a divine act of self-sacrifice, not merely the unjust death of an innocent young man, that atones.

The Church of England places considerable weight on the ordained ministry as an instrument of doctrinal orthodoxy. Those being ordained and consecrated are specifically asked if they assent to the historic formularies in their broad shape and intent, and if they dissent from them while continuing to undergo ordination then they do so in bad faith. Anglicans are committed to the teaching of Scripture and the first four ‘ecumenical councils’ as decisive Christological and Trinitarian interpretations of the Apostolic teachings. There can be no going back on that. The Reformation introduced another important strand of Anglican authority, concerning salvation by grace and rejecting the idea of a mediatorial priestly caste, again not to be deconstructed by even the most ardent Tractarian bureaucrat. The Reformation tradition also introduced the notion of matters ‘adiaphora’, that is matters on which there may be legitimate disagreement, secondary but important issues.

The debate over infant baptism and confirmation could provide an example here. The debate over the ethics of homosexual practice is placed into this category by the revisionists, but into the doctrine of creation and God’s creative intention, by traditionalists. The fact that it is ordination where the shoe pinches follows precisely from the teaching role of the clergy, as noted above. The ‘Sea of Faith’ movement apparently contains scores of ordained clergy, who deny the objective reality God, ‘God’ being for them a word summarising a set of cultural practices such as attending church on Sunday. Here is a first order matter of heresy without question, and Bishop Eric Kemp had the theological courage to deal with a clergyman openly teaching this reductionism. If the Church of England is not witnessing to God, but rather to its own cultural and aesthetic practices, then it is falling into a kind of idolatry of itself.

The secular media of course have their own inquisitorial version of heresy, political correctness. Some culturally conservative opinions are very clearly off-limits for wide swathes of the publicly funded media. To take MRSA infection, for example, could anyone now dare ask whether the dangerous state of hospital cleanliness is directly attributable to the ‘reforms’ to nursing, removing ward cleaning from the authority of the traditional ward sister?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 July 2004 at 4:53 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: General Synod