A Tale of Two Privileges: or, the Existential Choice for the Church of England


Joshua Penduck writes: Best of times and worst of times, eh? With such a Dickensian title, this article needs to make an obligatory (read: clichéd) reference to Charles’ great novel. The worst of times are obvious: a Church of England with a declining and aging faithful; a looming financial crisis for many a diocese; and a perpetual division over matters of sexuality (amongst a wondrous spectrum of other incompatible grievances). The best of times is admittedly difficult to see. But on top of all this, General Synod will be making important decisions, which effectively can be considered as an Existential Choice for the Church of England. It will choose between two increasingly incompatible privileges: to be a wife or a mother. Wife to the State through Establishment; Mother to the Anglican Communion.

Like the ideal of Christian marriage, the Church of England has been a wife far longer than a mother. Let us tell this tale: the Church of England has had the privilege of being married to the English State since the beginning. And what a happy tale of love it was! Other than the old youthful bicker over who does what in the English nation—and what married couple doesn’t have those?—the State loved its wife and the Church loved its husband. Indeed, when the English State fell out with its mother-in-law, the Church of Rome, the Church of England remained the faithful wife. Yes, there was a brief unhappy separation in the 17th Century, but that was more than made-up for in the 18th Century second-honeymoon phase. The State delighted in bringing out his wife for great events—look how beautiful she looked! The Church in turn would endlessly praise her husband (ignoring his occasional indiscretion or immoral action). Tensions first began to emerge in the 19th Century midlife crisis for both Church and State. The Irish Church Temporalities Bill of 1833 indicated the direction of the State: it began increasingly to flirt with another younger woman, Liberal Secularism. This caused the Church to have a growing existential crisis—was it first and foremost wife of the State? Or was it closer to its mother, Rome? The occasional letter was made back home over the next two centuries, hoping for a maternal reconciliation. The Church became more volatile, more confused over who she was, more critical of her husband. Nevertheless, in general, she remained a faithful wife.

The new mistress

But increasingly, the State found itself infatuated with its new mistress. The occasional compliment and gift to Liberal Secularism soon turns to something more: the secret lovers’ tryst becomes an invitation to stay in the family home. Of course, the State keeps up the pretence: it is still married to the Church, but it has fallen in love with its mistress. In the eyes of the State, the Church is an old and haggard wife of which it is increasingly embarrassed. It brings her out on great occasions with all her finery, and all the world says, ‘What a wonderful couple they are!’. Each time a Royal dies or is married, the State publicly praises the Church, and inwardly the Church pines,

‘Maybe this time he will love me, maybe this time he will change his attitude towards me’.

But once the festivities are over and they reach home, the State delights in putting the Church down.

‘Stay out of my life!’ he says when he does something immoral and she objects. ‘You’re supposed to remain in the spiritual kitchen, not out working in the political sphere!’ he says to her, forgetting that they are married. He makes fun of her in front of his friends; he is spiteful when she is critical. The State sneers when he sees her in his house; he keeps threatening that he will kick her out.

‘Why don’t you just divorce her?’ asks his younger Secular mistress. ‘Then we can be married!’

But the State knows it will be a long and bitter divorce; they had been married too long.

‘At least kick her out of the House of Lords!’ she says.

The State quietly nods his head.

Rival affection

Meanwhile, the Church tries her best to remain attractive to the State, trying to show that she can change. She even tries to make herself look like her Secular rival on occasion to draw the kind of loving glance he once gave her in their youth. But these make him despise her all the more, for it makes it clear how much more he desires his Secular mistress. Each time she tries to deny her past she feels guilt, as if she has forgotten her principles: she can’t stop being her Mother’s child.

‘If you don’t change, I’ll divorce you’, he says.

She is caught in a trap: every time she changes to please him, the State despises her; if she doesn’t change, she risks being thrown out into the street. It’s not that she wants a divorce—it’s her husband who is pushing the separation.

What a sorry state for this wife. Her once beloved husband has become an arrogant and near abusive partner. Yet not all is bad for the Church of England. For she has a family of children: the Anglican Communion. Yes, these are the joint child of the English Church and State, the legacy of Empire; but in the main, they have tended to disown their often obnoxious and overbearing father (a few have remained in occasional contact); what is more, even though they have serious disagreements with their mother, they still love her. Now, the couple have had two groups of children: the older ones they are proud of (the Churches in the white, Western world); and the younger ones of which they are slightly embarrassed (the Churches in the non-white majority world). It is inexplicable why they are proud of their older children: in the main, they have done poorly in the important things of life. Divorce, decline, and demoralisation are the pattern here. Whether those who live far away, such as North America, South Africa, and Oceania, or those closer to home in Scotland and Wales, their lives are hardly exemplary. Yes, they have the wealth and education prized by mother and father, but there is no vibrancy to their life. They will likely not survive long, certainly not into the next century. Although not married, they have tended to imitate their mother’s crouching attitude to their partners by caving into their demands. Yet mother Church tends to look to their examples!

The younger children

Then there are the younger children, the ones both Church and State are embarrassed of. Why embarrassed? Because they have tended to be obedient to the teachings their mother gave when she was younger (the mother, and older children, are dismissive of this now that they have changed their minds). These younger children are admittedly not wealthy. Nor have they the educational standards of the father, mother, and older children. Sometimes their politics are uncomfortable for their more relaxed mother. But they are vibrant. These younger children are full of life! They are bringing forth multitudes of grandchildren for Mother Church to love too. Undoubtedly, they will live into the next century, and even further afield. Through them this is truly the best of times for the Anglican family. Never before have we seen this family flourish as it does now. Yes, they are angry with their mother for the way she cravenly gives into their father’s demands; indeed, some are beginning to say that they should disown her in the same way they disowned their father. After all, their father was deeply abusive to them. Their father left them impoverished. And even now, their father makes demands of them, telling them to betray what they were taught, in the same way that their father has betrayed that teaching. He says different things, but his attitude towards them has not changed. In his eyes, they are still backward, bigoted, and primitive. Though their mother sometimes patronised them, their mother never treated them like that. In many ways, they are closer to their mother’s family identity than to that bequeathed them by their father.

Some ask their mother, ‘Why do you stay with him? You know what he’s like. You know he wants a divorce. No matter how much you change, he will divorce you eventually. He wants to marry his mistress. Let him. We’ll look after you.’

‘I still love him’ she responds. ‘I can change him.’

They shake their heads in disbelief. Does she really believe that? In reality, their mother is afraid. She has got used to a standard of living and doesn’t want to give it up. She doesn’t want to go back to the old ways before she married their father. How will she pay the bills? Though she doesn’t say it out loud, she doesn’t want to be associated with her younger children; she is embarrassed by what she considers their poverty, politics, and lack of education. She has the privilege of being the mother to a vibrant family of children who love her. But she also has the privilege of being married to a very powerful man, who gives her immense influence, even if her treats her abysmally.

Choosing privileges

General Synod will be forced to choose between these two privileges. If it chooses innovation, the Church of England will placate its overbearing husband – for now. Yet the consequences will be dreadful: it will be the last straw for the younger children of the Anglican family. They will finally have enough. And when her husband, the State, finally disowns her, she will lose both privileges. Yet if she maintains her traditional stance and maintains her family identity above her marital ones, she knows that her husband will begin the process of either forcing her to change her mind or divorcing her (and then marrying his mistress). Though the older children will be somewhat disappointed, they’ll get over it. It’s an unhappy choice for the Church of England.

Let’s step out of our tale for a moment. Already, MPs from both sides of the house are pressuring the Church of England to change its doctrine of marriage – pressing for disestablishment if no change happens. In the event of a ‘no change’ vote, this will, in all likelihood, increasingly become an avalanche. Yes, disestablishment is legally tricky and will take unnecessary time for parliament; but eventually that time will come. Meanwhile, proposals from the likely next party to govern, Labour, indicate that the House of Lords will have radically bishop-less future.

This indicates the gradual piecemeal approach to disestablishment the Church of England faces across the 21st Century. Yet if we do change doctrine, the growing areas of the Anglican Communion are making it clear that they cannot remain in Communion with Canterbury. We will stop becoming the centre of a vibrant, growing communion of (in the main) black and Asian poor, and instead become the centre of a declining communion of (in the main) rich, middle-class white people. In the effort to be more inclusive the ironic result will be a communion far less inclusive; far less like the early church, far more like the spiritual wing of the elite.

So, wife or mother? Such a choice is the worst of times indeed.

Joshua Penduck

Joshua Penduck is the Rector of Newcastle-under-Lyme, St Giles with St Thomas, Butterton, in the Diocese of Lichfield. Prior to ordination he was a composer and has written music for the LSO, BCMG and Orkest de Ereprijs. He is married to Shelley, who is also an Anglican minister in Stoke-on-Trent. This article was originally published at Fulcrum.

 


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165 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Privileges: or, the Existential Choice for the Church of England”

    • For me, this is all about what marriage symbolises
      Marriage is a reflection of how the trinity works
      The closeness between the members of the trinity is called in Hebrew ” Ehud” the same word used to describe the closeness of man and wife. Also ,jesus the bridegroom is coming to be united to his bride ,the church
      Same sex Marriage totally changes this picture given to us

      Reply
  1. Joshua, I can earnestly see why you think blessing same-sex unions is a capitulation to the spirit of the age, currently being some form of liberal secularism you dislike. If you were a gay man, however, you’d know without any doubt that the secular world and states can be lethally homophobic and still are in most of the world and vast areas of the UK, and that the church was perfectly happy to go along with this. It is homosexuality, not the church, that has traditionally been counter-cultural, but for the last couple of decades.

    Reply
      • Thank you for taking the time to read my article, Lorenzo, and thank you for your very important comment. I think we need to parse out a few issues that are tied together here.

        First: it is true that there are parts of the ‘secular world’ and even in large parts of the UK which are horribly homophobic, and even lethally so. This is horrific. Full stop. When I was in Uganda, I was very open with the Bishop that I was staying with that I think that the views of some Anglican bishops in his country who were calling for the death penalty for any sexual activity between people of the same-sex was abhorrent – I asked him whether he would consider the same policy for adultery, and he admitted that he would not. For another example, I stopped leading an LLF course with members of my leadership team at the church, as I felt I needed to speak privately to both those who were saying that the conservative view on marriage were ‘bigoted’ as well as those who were simply being homophobic. In another piece I wrote for Fulcrum and Psephizo I called for the church to repent of how we have treated the LGBTQ+ community. As such, I am in agreement with you.

        In regards to your comment about being ‘counter cultural’, I can understand he frustrations of a church which tends to ‘go with the spirit of the age’ rather than subvert it – and that the church was going with the ‘spirit of the age’ when it was still conservative (something I allude to in the article I have written, regarding the CofE in the 18th Century). Nevertheless, I can only go so far with you: the call of the Church is not to be counter cultural per se, but rather to be faithful to Christ. Yes, sometimes this is counter-cultural; other times it is not. I would metaphysically ground this in saying in that something has being, to a certain extent it is good, in that being and the good are one in God. This means that sometimes the Church and the spirit of the age align (human rights, for example); sometimes they do not. The Church should be only counter cultural to the extent that the spirit of the age does not align with the Holy Spirit; it should only be in alignment with the spirit of the age to the extent that the spirit of the age aligns with the Holy Spirit. After all, I think we can both agree that racism and sexism are both counter-cultural (in a negative sense) but also anti-Christ.

        Putting this two together can create tension. On the one hand, the Church can and should denounce homophobia. It should also align with the Holy Spirit (who is the author of the Scriptures). I find that the very creative work of Side B Christians is managing to explore ways of holding that tension together. I know that many in the LGBTQ+ Christian community think that the creative tension of Side B Christians does not hold together, and that it can only be resolved through gay marriage; nevertheless, I still think there are better routes to take.

        Reply
        • Indeed in much of North and Central Africa and the Middle East and South Asia homosexuality is still illegal. Indeed in a few Middle Eastern nations and Afghanistan it is still punishable by death tragically

          Reply
        • Joshua: ‘First: it is true that there are parts of the ‘secular world’ and even in large parts of the UK which are horribly homophobic, and even lethally so. This is horrific. Full stop.’ This is really important; thank you for raising it. We need to keep saying this again and again.

          Reply
          • But is that really surprising given the very strong condemnation of gay sex in the Bible, particularly the OT? It did, after all, call for the death penalty.

            I think you can see why some would view Christians as hypocritical in using words as ‘horrific’ regarding homophobia when the Bible says gay sex is ‘an abomination’.

          • I’d wholeheartedly agree PC1, but would add that the author of Romans makes it very clear that gays deserve death too, so it’s both testaments not just the OT.

          • Origen, you are wrong here. Paul does not make it clear that ‘gays deserve death’ since .’gay’ is not a category he knows.

            Same sex sex in Romans 1 is just one amongst many sins which characterise fallen humanity. We all deserve death. The climax of Paul’s argument is Rom 3.23 ‘For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God…’

            I find it odd when people so badly misread Romans to think it is speaking about gays. It clearly isn’t.

        • Historically, when the church went against the spirit of its age and began criminalising (male) gay sex, it began burning us alive, based on the Mosaic Law and Romans 1. Here’s the Theodosian code: 5.2 qui masculum liberum invitum stupraverit capite punietur. https://romanlegaltradition.org/contents/2012/RLT8-BARNES.PDF
          This was, much later commuted by the secular state into hanging (18th century). The death penalty was only lifted in 1861 in favour of the pillory. Full decriminalisation in 1983, if memory serves, for the whole of the UK. Your Ugandan bishops are still very much going along with the Zeitgeist.

          Reply
          • ‘Your Ugandan bishops are still very much going along with the Zeitgeist.’

            Yes, I agree, and we must speak against it.

            And we need to read Romans 1 better. Paul does not say ‘gays deserve death’ since he is not talking about gays, a term he would not have understood. In Romans 1 same-sex sex is just one sin amongst many, as it is in 1 Cor 6.9.

            Since we all sin (Rom 3.23) we all deserve death. Yet God’s remarkable gift to us, at the great cost of his Son, is the offer of life, a new way of life received through repentance and faith.

  2. Thought-provoking insights in this excellent article which greatly help in revealing the choices ahead. Neither path offers anything other than pain. Praying she remembers her first love, the only focus of love which offers a positive way forward.

    Reply
  3. There was once a beautiful girl. She had been chosen to be married to the finest prince the world had ever seen. His father had chosen her himself for his son, whom he loved very much. She was brought up bilingual, to speak the language of her fathers and the language of their neighbours. She kept her feet on the ground but she always looked to the sky, because she knew that one day her prince would come down from there to claim her. He had never told her when he would come back for her, but even as a child she loved and trusted him. He warned her that she would go through suffering before he came back, but she knew that for Him all the suffering in the world was worth it, and more.

    Soon she stopped using the language of her fathers, and forgot it. She started to think like her neighbours, the ones whose language she used – although her heart still remained with her wonderful prince. Her neighbours had powerful friends who hated her, and they saw to it that she was often in and out of prison on false charges, where she was badly beaten. But still it was worth it for her wonderful prince.

    One day, a powerful man came to her. He told her that he was interested in her. He could let her out of jail, dress her in beautiful robes, house her in great palaces, and give her all the riches in the world. She need never suffer again! When he arrived she had just undergone her worst beating yet. She thought she could change the man without being changed herself, and she was a little tempted… so she said Yes. She became bilingual again, but by learning the language of her new suitor’s house. By this time she despised the house of her ancestors and their language, and they despised her.

    She changed her suitor’s ways for the better, but he also changed her. Dressed in her finery, and living in palaces rather than prisons, she began to behave pompously and arrogantly. She talked a lot about her prince, but pride swelled her heart, and she cooled towards him. Still she kept herself clean, although sometimes it felt as if she was losing part of herself.

    In time she joined in military expeditions with her suitor’s family – even though she had sworn not to kill. She remained in the house of her suitor after he was no longer around, but she fell under the influence of his descendants. Many of them were vicious. Some could speak one of her languages, some the other, and the two factions got on more and more badly with each other; the family was at war with itself. Increasingly she felt like two separate people. One day, tired of it and with an aching headache, she did a magic trick before the mirror. She split herself in two. The headache vanished! But the two selves, speaking different languages, hated each other, and because of that hatred each of them was less than she had been before the split. Magic always rebounds on its user.

    One twin managed, by bluff and willpower, to bully everyone who spoke its language, including the ruling house. This twin became a harlot, imperious, shameless, desiring the whole world and entranced by its riches. Her head grew bigger and bigger. She said that, because of her ancestry, she was still the prince’s princess. But the Prince, looking down in secret and weeping, could scarcely recognise her.

    One day a man dared to challenge her. She had had many like him put to death, but he used his eloquence to remind her of her promises to the prince, and he somehow survived her attempts to kill him. Because the people were tired of her harlotry, her taking their money and giving little in return, they heeded him. Astonishingly, the people who gathered round him began to look like the beautiful girl that she had once been, long ago. But they soon picked up the same weapons that she had wielded, and they used them against her. There was a horrible fight, and all who took part in it got hurt. Many who didn’t take part got hurt, too. The survivors decided that she was not worth the trouble, and they began to turn their back on her. But, having once known her, they couldn’t do without her, even though they did not grasp the fact. By then they had developed the most powerful weapons in the world; but, without the influence of the better side of her personality, they used those weapons against anybody they wished. Today a great bull is charging at them, and at her. She cannot be killed outright; she is like her prince in that – and she is best when she is suffering, for strangely she becomes more beautiful at those times. She is also beginning to pine for the land of her birth. Once she is made beautiful again, that is where her prince will join her. They will marry, and live together happily ever after.

    Reply
    • “but it has fallen in love with its mistress”

      “Her once beloved husband has become an arrogant and near abusive partner.”

      These men, eh? So easily tempted and led astray…

      😉

      Reply
  4. I’m surprised you have put this Fulcrum submission up as your first response to yesterday’s announcement. It is a rather silly fairytale which vastly oversimplifies a long and complex history and thereby sets up a misleading and inaccurate binary. Also objectionable for its characterisation of women, and the weird colonialism that makes the AC the children of the CofE. Super patronising and inaccurate. Best ignored.

    Reply
    • Well, you are in a minority in that view.

      This is not a ‘first response to yesterday’s announcement’. There was no ‘announcement’ yesterday, only a poor press release and some media sound bites. The announcement happens tomorrow—when I will be writing my first response.

      Reply
      • You think the press release doesn’t actually say what the headlines of the matter are? You think the actual document is going to say the opposite of the press release? The press release could hardly be more clear. But I realise you have a vested interest in not liking what it says.

        Reply
        • Andrew, I have a vested interest in seeing what the statement says. Correspondence with an archbishop has confirmed to me that the language in the press release is mistaken.

          I look forward to the actual announcement tomorrow.

          Reply
  5. The national church until the Reformation was of course the Roman Catholic Church. Henry VIII then created the Church of England with the monarch as its head to be the established church in England. That remains the case today with its doctrine based on the 39 Articles and 1662 BCP. The Church of England is the established church, a Catholic, Apostolic Church with the King as its head with a few evangelicals in it. It is not an evangelical Church and never has been apart from a brief period when Cromwell was Lord Protector evangelicals seem to wish to return to, most Puritans having left for Calvinist churches or America and the Netherlands after the Reformation.

    In one of the few other western nations with established churches like Denmark, homosexual marriage is already now practised by the Lutheran Church of Denmark in its churches where ministers agree and most Danes are members of that Church still. There is no reason the established church cannot have support if it is in tune with what the state it represents wants, after all homosexual marriage has been legal in England for a decade.

    As an Anglican church too other Anglican churches in the West in Scotland, Wales and the USA already allow homosexual marriage in their churches with no problem. The Anglican Communion is just a loose federation anyway. Welby is only leader of the Church of England, other Anglican churches have their own lead bishops, including in Africa. Welby is only primus inter pares, first amongst equals. Evangelicals seen to want to try and restore the British Empire for Anglicanism, when at most the Anglican Communion is a loose version of the Commonwealth. The King is not even head of any other Anglican church other than in England as he is head of the Commonwealth, even if no longer head of state of most Commonwealth nations. The Anglican Communion is not the top down Roman Catholic Church where globally what the Vatican and Pope say goes

    Many evangelicals in England would be happier in Pentecostal or Baptist churches anyway not the Church of England, where they can preach against homosexual marriage to their hearts content. If they won’t even accept an opt out for their evangelical Parishes on the Church of England allowing homosexual marriage

    Reply
    • ‘It is not an evangelical Church and never has been apart from a brief period when Cromwell was Lord Protector evangelicals seem to wish to return to, most Puritans having left for Calvinist churches or America and the Netherlands after the Reformation.’

      I think you are mistaken here. It is clearly an evangelical church; just read the 39 Articles and the BCP Communion service. It is evangelicals, and almost only evangelicals, who still believe all this without either crossing their fingers or reaching for Tract 90. No liberals believe this stuff, and few anglo-catholics.

      You are confusing ‘evangelical’ with ‘Puritan’.

      Reply
      • And perhaps you are confusing Puritan with ‘bad’. The Puritans wanted no more than to be permitted to worship in their own way and to have the taxes they paid to the Crown legitimised by Parliament. At the time they voiced those legitimate desires, they never dreamed of running the country. But they bumped into a sovereign who repeatedly and unrepentantly broke his word and his coronation oath and an Archbishop willing to have Christians flogged for peaceably advocating to pray their own corporate prayers. Neither side was willing to back down and both men got what they deserved.

        Reply
        • The divisions between Puritans in the Church of England ie effectively the evangelicals who would have been Cromwellian Roundheads in the Civil War and supporters of Charles 1st and Laud ie the Anglo Catholics and probably now most of the liberals too still exist today. The Church of England is still dealing with the legacy of the English civil war and Restoration over 350 years later

          Reply
          • Yes but it’s quite complex. Many of the Church of England’s ordained men from the puritan wing quit for nonconformism when it became legal at the Glorious Revolution. 1688 also saw the resignation of quite a few of its high church priests who could not in conscience acknowledge usurping William III as king, the non-jurors. The torpor of the 18th century Church of England is because it lost its best men of principle from both wings. John Wesley relit the CoE’s flame, but because he preached in fields without permission of the parish priest he has never received the acknowledgement within the CoE that is his due. The Methodists did that.

          • Many of the Church of England’s ordained men from the puritan wing quit for nonconformism when it became legal at the Glorious Revolution.

            No they didn’t; they were chucked out in 1662 and were illegal nonconformists unit it became legal at the Glorious Revolution (which is scandalously not taught in schools!).

          • We are both right, S. Many of the Prutina-minded Ministers in the CoE quit for illegal nonconformism when the Clarendon code went through, and many of them stayed but then quit for legal conconformism at the Glorious Revolution.

      • I would suggest that the term ‘evangelical’ is anachronistic to the 16th and 17th centuries. I have read that evanglicalism can be identified in Bohemia (if recollection serves) in the 17th century. In the English speaking world its emergence is an 18th century phenomenon. Actually specifying ‘evangelical’ is somewhat tricky. The famous ‘Bebbington Quadralateral’ is, I understand, taken from English Evangelicals in the 1980’s.

        The Church of England is, however, firmly Reformed (note capital letter) in its theological roots as expressed in the BCP and 39 Articles, and as such looks, or should look, firmly to the Scriptures for its authority.

        Reply
      • It was arguably Protestant evangelical in terms of the way Edward VIth wanted to push it having been effectively Roman Catholic again under Queen Mary Tudor. Elizabeth Ist though restored it as a largely Catholic tradition Church which Charles 1st tried to push further, infuriating the Puritans which was a key reason for the Civil War.

        By the Restoration the 1662 BCP contained few of the elements nonconformist wanted and indeed made full reference to the King as Supreme Governor and the C of E as a Catholic and Apostolic Church

        Reply
        • ‘By the Restoration the 1662 BCP contained few of the elements nonconformist wanted and indeed made full reference to the King as Supreme Governor and the C of E as a Catholic and Apostolic Church’

          The bottom line is that Anglican evangelicals believe in the BCP. No liberals do.

          Reply
          • Most liberals I know do. You make get a few leftwingers in the Church who don’t but they are more Socialists than liberals

          • Sorry? You know liberals that preside from the north end? Who believe that Jesus’ atoning death is a full satisfaction and oblation for the sins of the whole world?

            That a peculiar definition of ‘liberal’!

    • ‘…other Anglican churches in the West in Scotland, Wales and the USA already allow homosexual marriage in their churches with no problem.’

      No problem? Do tell me, how many of these churches are growing and flourishing spiritually and which of them are in rapid decline? I think you will find there is a problem!

      Reply
      • The further problem is that this has divided the churches themselves (look at the extraordinary lawsuits pursued by TEC against ACNA—how is this ‘with no problem’??) and has ‘torn the fabric of the Communion’. It has directly led to persecution of African Anglicans by Muslims. ‘No problem’? Goodness.

        Reply
          • Well given only 46% of people in England now even call themselves Christians let alone C of E, over 70% of Danes being members of the Church of Denmark is an astonishingly high percentage for any Church in a Western nation

          • It is voluntary, membership of the Church of Denmark is not compulsory. Yet it has probably the highest membership of any Protestant church in any Western nation percentage wise and indeed higher than the Roman Catholic membership in most Western nations now too outside the Vatican City

          • It has no relevance.

            I’m sure it has a lot of relevance of what you’re interested in is collecting Church Tax. Millions of people who pay their membership fees but never darken the door is the dream of every gym, isn’t it?

        • “While over 80 percent of the population identifies themselves as Lutheran, church attendance is an astonishing two percent, and half of those members report being agnostic or atheist.”

          Denmark has in reality very few Christians compared to the numbers paying the State Church Tax… and they are decreasing anyway.

          However I’m not sure the numbers game is much of a way of determining truth… We’re often hearing political arguments on all sorts which refer to “other countries” who have done this or that as a justification, as if 7 or 8 out of hundreds means anything substantial. Its simply manipulation of the available evidence to suit a pre-determined conclusion.

          Reply
          • Only 20% of Danes define themselves as atheists. Over 70% describe themselves as members of the national Christian Church, in England we can’t even get over 50% to describe themselves as Christians

          • “However I’m not sure the numbers game is much of a way of determining truth…”
            Hear, hear…let the implications of that sink in.
            In friendship, Blair

          • Over 70% describe themselves as members of the national Christian Church,

            You mean ‘describe themselves wrongly as members of the national Christian Church’

            Being a Christian isn’t like being a member of a gym. You have to actually turn up to be a Christian, you can’t just pay you Church Tax and self-describe as one.

          • Yes you can, either you believe in God and Christ as the Messiah ie you are a Christian or you don’t. Even some atheists go to Church every week, eg Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen who lives in a rural area as it is where the local community meets and he likes the aesthetics of the building

          • Yes you can, either you believe in God and Christ as the Messiah ie you are a Christian or you don’t.

            The Devil believes in God and Christ as the Messiah. Is the Devil a Christian?

        • Many pay a church tax, but that is in expectation of services such as weddings and funerals. It’s essentially a payment for a service. And I personally know Danes who are atheists, or live their lives as effectively atheists, yet continue to pay the church tax out of tradition and expected return. Not an example to follow.

          Reply
          • It maintains a high membership and well funded established church in Denmark, which should be the goal of the Church of England

          • It maintains a high membership and well funded established church in Denmark, which should be the goal of the Church of England

            No, it shouldn’t.

            But thanks for again confirming that all you care about is worldly wealth and glory. We’ve got that by now.

          • That’s basically correct. Paying the State church tax in Europe entitles you to hatch, match and dispatch. Otherwise it means nothing to most Scandinavians.
            I think of it as rather like British public libraries which all council tax payers have to fund but which very few people use today.
            I think in Scandinavia you have to personally opt out of church membership and apathy rules for the most part. But the Church of Sweden has been disestablished since c. 2000 so it may be different there.
            T1’s comments are way off beam.

    • “Many evangelicals in England would be happier in Pentecostal or Baptist churches”.

      That’s simply untrue.

      But it is true that many find it easier to worship alongside *some* non-conformists and to share in evangelism /mission with them than with the Anglican Church down the road which seems to deny more Gospel than it affirms.

      Reply
  6. Starmer may replace the Lords with an elected Senate, that would still not stop the Church of England as the established church with the King as its Head as has been settled in England since the Restoration

    Reply
  7. A godly church would never see itself as having obligations to the state (at least no obligations which were not already imposed by God). Instead it would view any association with the state as existing only as long as the state decided to look to the church – knowing that association might cease at any time. Therefore the supposed wife and mother tension outlined in the article is completely misguided.

    The C of E’s only loyalty – to God – has been betrayed fully and finally in its choosing to bless same sex relationships. That’s the whole point of getting married – to make a commitment to another person while seeking God’s blessing. The only thing the C of E hasn’t done is agree to run same sex marriage services. It’s done everything else – if you go down the road and get married and come back to the church the following week you are blessed by C of E leadership and all C of E churches operating in submission to it – which is everyone who stays part of the C of E. To consider same sex sexual relationships able to be blessed by God is absolutely a change of doctrine – you cannot claim that you bless only opposite sex marriages if at the same time you bless relationships which are not between a man and a woman.

    It’s over. Five years of deliberations are complete – the existence of these deliberations being from the start proof of the intention to move away from the teaching of the bible (it’s not as if evangelicals meet regularly to re-decide which books of the bible will be considered part of the canon!) – but for anyone who couldn’t see that – they now cannot deny what they couldn’t see.

    A C of E church cannot pretend that just because it as a church doesn’t bless same sex marriages that it is not doing so – when it does so by submitting to leaders who do so. Faithful believers must expect more from leadership than that they will not interfere with the believer’s decision to be godly – they should be insisting that any leadership they submit to is godly – and if not they must separate from that leadership.

    I am sad for all those who have reason to be grateful for the way that God used the C of E to introduce and/or grow their faith. I am one such person – an ex-Anglican – the foundation in the faith that the church I grew up in gave me is of infinite worth to me. All I can say to such people is – the God about whom you learned – in whom you were grown – is no less able to be with you as you turn fully to him.

    Reply
  8. I’m sorry but the church is the bride of Christ and for it to get into bed with the State is to commit adultery, for the State is of this world.

    Reply
  9. A very helpful and useful allegory – That’s highlighted the problem right there – the church is supposed to be the bride of Christ – not the state … to mix metaphors, with the latest developments, it’s about this time the cabin crew would be shouting brace, brace, brace …

    Reply
  10. To take the analogy further: Parents (including mothers) expect their children to grow up, make their own decisions and go their own way. They may be sad because of their choices but still allow their children to make them. So perhaps the time has come for both “older” and “younger” children to do this – i.e. time to disband the Anglican Communion and step back (though all will be welcome to visit!). It isn’t the responsibility of the parents to make sure that their adult children get on with each other and share the same ideas and beliefs.

    Reply
    • The true mother and children are Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac, followed through by Paul in Galatians. Parent and children of the Promise and faith.
      What is truly remarkable is that with no inkling of self awareness, in pleadings for preservation and continuity of the CoE, history is invoked in the name of setting history aside, in the proclamation and praise of boundary -less progress, in matters of faith and doctrine.
      Whoever marries the *spirit of the age* will be a widow in the next.
      And probably to misquote, Chesterton, don’t take down the fences before knowing the reasons they were erected and by whom.
      To dismantle the form is to dismantle and deny the function.
      But what is bone achingly clear is that any appeal to scripture and doctrine carries no weight and is ignored as irrelevant, no matter how circuitously, it is essayed otherwise.

      Reply
  11. The establishment of the Church of England does present it with particular dilemmas. However, being enticed away by the culture of the age is not exclusive to established churches. The Methodists and URC seems to have been heading down the slippery slope ahead of the CofE.

    Reply
    • Indeed it is not confined to the CoE, David but the subject here is the CoE.
      It also seems that the CoE pays no heed of
      evidence of declensionn in other denominations who have gone down that path.

      Reply
      • Hello Chris,
        It is so deeply grievous: the path is narrow.
        I suppose I’m theologically a Baptist, but I’ve seen the great family growth and fruit of child baptism in believers family, children who are raised in the faith, in the Anglican church I’m now part of. It is a delight to see, a church which subscribes to the 39 Articles and complementarity, a church plant that is growing, even if some, like me, are refugees from other denominations, including, Methodists. Baptists, URC, Elim, R Catholic and probably more.
        From the time of my conversion, I’ve not really been convinced over the need for denominations, being able to have true fellowship with people of faith in Christ, cessationists or not.
        Having trained and worked in the law I saw the, our, truly adversarial nature that arises. An early example for me was the prolonged spat between Piper and Wright..
        And last, over the last 15 or years I’ve found the greatest depth of Biblical teaching from within the Presbyterians, a depth that leads to praise and worship and Presence, along the full spectrum of the Canon, of biblical theology but exponents of that biblical schema come from Presbyterians, Baptists, Anglicans, centring on our God in Christ, and our unity in the Spirit only in the unity in Christ and our Father. John 17.

        Reply
  12. Hello Joshua (and all),

    It seems to me that your main post is a rather prolix way of making a simple point, and that the simple point (the church is capitulating to the Zeitgeist) is one you’ve assumed without properly arguing for.

    Surely going along with the Zeitgeist in this area, would be to say ‘whatever’ and affirm any sex between unrelated adults that’s consensual? That’s not what’s being proposed, if the announcements thus far are accurate. Could you make a case for why tentative support for committed monogamous relationships, is not at least somewhat subversive of prevailing trends?

    I found your response to Lorenzo’s characteristically sharp cogent comment, more compelling, and was struck by this:
    “I would metaphysically ground this in saying in that something has being, to a certain extent it is good, in that being and the good are one in God”.
    Do you accept that homosexuality ‘has being’, to pick up the phrase? If so, following the logic of your sentence, what grounds are there for keeping an absolute prohibition on same-sex relationships?
    In friendship, Blair

    Reply
      • Hi Philip, regarding the unity of good and being in God, this is a key summit of all classical orthodoxy. For Augustine, Thomas, Luther, Calvin and the whole classical tradition, sin has no being – rather it is the distortion of being (I.e the corruption of being’s goodness, truth, or beauty, or the lack of goodness, truth, and beauty in something that exists – and therefore something which does not fully exist). It is not say sin is not ‘real’ but rather that sin is the distortion and corruption of that which is real.

        Reply
    • Hi Blair, thanks for your thoughtful response. The article is not quite about the church capitulating, though that is a factor. My main emphasis is that the State has become an abusive partner to the church, and if (and when) forced to choose between the state and the Anglican Communion we should choose the latter.

      Regarding the zeitgeist, I would agree that a monogamous same-sex relationship is more counter-cultural than a heterosexual person who commits serial monogamy. However, my big emphasis is faithfulness to Christ and conforming all things to him. Some things conform better than others – but still not within the Christian remit. For example, a Buddhist showing altruistic compassion conforms better to Christ than many other things, but the metaphysics which they hold does not. As such, we need to make these important distinctions.

      In terms of the unity of being and the good, this is where we need to be careful. Simply by the act of existing, a murderer participates in the good, because he has his existence from God, who is the unity of being and goodness. But in his act of murdering, he demonstrates a lack of good and therefore a lack of being; he distorts the good and therefore distorts being. That’s quite an extreme example, but it makes the point that just because something in one way participates in the good simply by existing, doesn’t make it ‘a good’ (to use Aristotelian language). Of course, it’s far more complicated than what I can write here (and my wife is insisting I go to the shops to buy our dinner…) but hopefully that gives you an idea of what I am trying to explain. Blessings

      Reply
        • Im not sure evil should be simply thought of as a lack of good. It has a power in itself.

          Evil is not just lack of good but corrupted good. The idea of the seven deadly sins shows this as they are corruption of love: only one (sloth) is a lack of love; the others are either excessive love towards a good object (pride, gluttony, lust*) or love misdirected to an inappropriate object (envy, wrath, avarice).

          The power comes from the corruption.

          * note that people often get lust wrong nowadays. It’s not excessive love of sexual pleasure; that’s gluttony)

          Reply
      • The state has not ‘become an abusive partner’. The state is the state – it is definitionally hostile to the church. If it wasn’t hostile to the church it would be the church. Its hostility to the church is implied in it not being called the church.
        Can I get you to agree Joshua that the C of E’s obligations to the state are only obligations to God? And where they are not that they are sin? And therefore what you describe above about competing loyalties is not a description of the situation in the C of E?

        Reply
      • Hi Joshua,
        Belated thanks for your reply. Mea culpa – I accept i didn’t read carefully enough. I’m not sure I accept the “abusive partner” line though, unless the noise from a few MPs about pushing the church to change its doctrine of marriage actually amounts to anything.
        Thanks also for your further clarifications. Re your last paragraph – I was hoping you might be willing to work through what that looks like with same-sex desire, as am curious a) whether for you this is something that is, or whether instead it’s a distortion of heterosexual desire, and b) how you’ve come to your view?
        In friendship, Blair

        Reply
    • Surely going along with the Zeitgeist in this area, would be to say ‘whatever’ and affirm any sex between unrelated adults that’s consensual? That’s not what’s being proposed, if the announcements thus far are accurate

      Surely it is; or at least, if the leaked proposals are accurate and implemented, the Church of England will have declared that sex outside of marriage is not sinful, won’t it?

      Reply
      • No they won’t and anyway I would rather be in a Church with a congregation of 1 plus the vicar that allows homosexual marriage than a Church of 10 000 preaching against homosexual marriage

        Reply
        • Good for you! I wish you only the best. But given that there are plenty of these churches to already choose from, why are you badgering the CofE to change?

          Reply
          • There aren’t in England, there is the Methodist Church and Reformed Church and that is about it in terms of churches which currently allow homosexual marriage and that is about it and I am Anglican in inclination.

            Those who oppose homosexual marriage have far more to choose from, the Baptist, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic churches for example and still the Church of England do not allow homosexual marriage in any of their churches

          • Indeed T1.
            It can’t be so important to you if you are not willing to move for the worship of your God. It amounts to idolatry.
            Do tell us what a Christian is? Which God do you believe, follow?

        • Hang on T1—you would rather deprive 9,999 people of hearing the message of Jesus if that was the price it cost to have your way, and impose a doctrine in complete contradiction to the view of all of the church catholic?

          There must be a word for that kind of attitude…

          Reply
          • Hi T1… Genuinely I don’t know what point you are making.

            Surely not that rich people are more receptive to or more faithful to God? The tables would conclude that being a Hindu or Jewish us the “top” option!

            1 Corinthians would put things differently…

            … “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

    • Local Methodist churches have still got time to decide their own stance. They have not all done that yet… Certainly some of their ministers will say “no” and have said so.

      Reply
      • Hello Ian,
        I did some training as Local Preacher in the Methodist church.
        There was an evangelical arm, Headway, if I remember correctly.
        I was part of a friend’s, support group as he underwent ordination training. His essays which followed the lines of mainstream protestant Theology, were regularly undermined, critiqued in red ink. A friend, a long time local preacher and one time “chair?” of the national Local Preachers association, was robust in his critique of his beloved Methodism in that there was a paucity of theological training, even while Cliff College maintained a reasonable reputation as it seemed to start a liberal drift – a drift in the denomination that resulted in another minister friend’s appointment being curtailed for mainstream Christian preaching/teaching; a drift that saw free Methodist churches being set up; a drift that I heard about 10 years or so ago, that during a service led by a Circuit Superintendent who was supportive of and in a SS relationship, half the church walked out to set up their own church in rented community premises.
        And more could be added to this…

        URC, last year a local URC church left and joined with young evangelical families, from an FICE church in a different part of the urban conurbation. The young families moved their homes to become new leaders, grateful for the generational balance that merger would bring.

        Reply
  13. Fascinating to read all these comments and learn about the Church in Denmark, whether liberals accept the BCP and much, much more … all in a discussion about the sanctity of marriage from whatever perception the various contributors take. Helps me to understand further about how we find ourselves in this particular place …..

    Reply
    • It is a discussion about the position of the Church of England and on homosexual marriage primarily and not about marriage more broadly

      Reply
      • Wrong. This is about extant and Christian -world -wide doctrine, regardless of denomination and that is why it is false to assert that it is a matter of indiffernce. It certainly is not a matter of secular, western cultural indifference.

        Reply
    • This liberal loves the 1662 Prayer Book and King James Bible, both crowning glories of Anglicanism sadly cast aside by far too many provinces.

      Reply
      • And this Classicist loves Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Vergil’s Aeneid, both crowning glories of Latin literature sadly cast aside by far too many schools and colleges – but I don’t for a moment think they are true.

        James do not for one moment confuse literary appreciation with submission to the Word of God and godly worship.

        Reply
  14. Any church denomination that spawns a Wesley (and doesn’t try to immoliate him) can’t be all bad. But any candidates even remotely approaching that role of late (Melvin Tinker, Calvin Robinson?) seem to have to leave today’s CofE. The husband has been demanding an ‘open marriage’ and maybe the wife has been going along with this for too long now.

    Reply
  15. Inventive personifications! 😀

    Now Christendom as-was is finished, the CoE could flourish by freeing itself from the state, and the obligation to attempt to represent an entire nation. Since it de facto disestablished itself in the ’70s with the introduction of synodical governance and appointment of its own bishops, most of the practical necessities are already in place.

    English Laïcité could also emulate its French counterpart in making the state responsible for the upkeep of cathedrals and other major church buildings. Without that financial burden, how much more could be spent on mission? Free of her moorings, the CoE could follow the promise of that ’40s report, and work towards the re-evangelization of England.

    Reply
    • The C of E if disestablished would cease to exist. It was founded to be the established church in England with the King as its head.

      Even if it was disestablished it would become another Anglican church like its cousins in Scotland, Wales and the USA in the liberal Catholic tradition. It is not and never will be a primarily evangelical church.

      As for the maintenance of its historic churches and cathedrals it has £9 billion in assets for that, supported by organisations such the Historic Churches Trust. Plus even in France the Roman Catholics still use their historic buildings, just with state support.

      If evangelicals don’t care about the Church of England, its heritage, its buildings or its role as the established church they have no place in it. They should go away and join the nearest Pentecostal or Baptist church in a modern hall where they can preach evangelism to their hearts content there and the high street, don’t need to worry about homosexual marriage and can leave we genuine Anglicans to our Church of England!!!

      Reply
      • The C of E if disestablished would cease to exist.

        It wouldn’t, though, would it?

        If evangelicals don’t care about the Church of England, its heritage, its buildings or its role as the established church they have no place in it.

        You have a very weird idea of what a ‘church’ is. Hint: it doesn’t involve buildings or ‘heritage’ or providing state ceremonies. What it does involve — and all it involves — is staying faithful to Jesus and the truth revealed in the Bible. All the rest of the stuff, the buildings, the heritage, the association with the Crown, means nothing in the long run.

        John Newton — an Anglican — knew what it was really about:

        Savior, if of Zion’s city
        I through grace a member am,
        let the world deride or pity,
        I will glory in your name.
        Fading are the world’s vain pleasures,
        all their boasted pomp and show;
        solid joys and lasting treasures
        none but Zion’s children know.

        The buildings and the heritage and the association with the Crown that you’re so fixated on? Those are the world’s vain pleasures. You shouldn’t want to be part of the King’s established church; you should want to be part of Zion’s city. Anything else is worthless, as you will find out when the time comes.

        Reply
        • Yes, “church” is, first and foremost, the people assembled to worship God.

          England’s ancient church buildings are priceless treasures, so beautiful because they reflect that ethos. But the CoE doesn’t need to maintain them, and in the current dechristianized context, would benefit from being spared that considerable burden.

          Also agree that The CoE won’t cease to exist or automatically become liberal catholic if disestablished. Many Anglican provinces aren’t. It’d remain a broad church (unless it fragmented), but one free to adapt to working in a contest alien to that in which it was founded.

          Reply
          • But it isn’t is it James, a context alien to that which it was founded? Fallen, human nature remains the same even if it’s expression and outworking differ.

          • The Church of England would become a liberal Catholic Church like every other main Anglican church in the Western world from Scotland to Wales to New Zealand and the US and Canada

          • And yes, James, while the pre – reformation cathedrals may have been built to the glory of our Triune God in Christ, that glory has departed as we abandon our First Love, to worship ourselves on the throne. Ichabod.
            Are reparations, repentance and legal property transfers now required of the CoE to Rome which may retain a contingent interest? And while God doesn’t dwell in the fabric of buildings to could perhaps be correctly said that they could be sold or transferred with the required * vacant possession* of the legal estate.

          • The Church of England would become a liberal Catholic Church like every other main Anglican church in the Western world from Scotland to Wales to New Zealand and the US and Canada

            Possible, but highly unlikely. If the Church of England cares enough about holding to Christian truth to become disestablished, why then would it throw all that away by becoming exactly the kind of secular liberal organisation that would have been able to bow the knee to the government and stay established?

            No, a more likely outcome would be that all those who only stick around because they like the pomp and show of belonging to the national established church would leave — after all, there’d be nothing for them in a Christian church — and so the remainder would be only the more truth-committed ones, so the organisation would move away from the liberal agenda.

            Those who left would then probably set up their own, secular liberal charitable organisation with no doctrine — Unitarians with Bishops, basically — and probably try to get the government to recognise them as the successor to the established church, to give them some of the worldly recognition they so crave. They may even succeed.

          • It doesn’t, the Church of England has no interest in being disestablished, it is a future Labour government threatening disestablishment if it does not recognise homosexual marriage that is the issue.

            Every poll asked shows most Anglicans back gay marriage and it is inevitable it will happen within the Church of England. Probably sooner rather than later to avoid disestablishment reducing Church of England privileges. Most Church of England bishops have zero interest in being common evangelical preachers, they like their seats in the Lords, grand houses and palaces and cathedrals, interviews in the press and BBC etc. Of course the cathedrals and palaces would remain even if disestablishment. They would have no interest in becoming unitarian bishops without keeping all the real estate of the Church of England which only comes with the Anglican church

          • It doesn’t, the Church of England has no interest in being disestablished, it is a future Labour government threatening disestablishment if it does not recognise homosexual marriage that is the issue.

            Right. And if the Church of England cares enough about maintaining true Christian witness that it refuses to bow to such blackmail and as a result is disestablished, then why on Earth would it turn around and become the sort of liberal church that would have avoided it being disestablished in the first place?

            No, if the Church of England is disestablished under those circumstances then its theological centre of gravity will doubtless shift towards the less liberal end, rather than the more liberal, as the liberals leave en masse.

            Every poll asked shows most Anglicans back gay marriage

            As far as I’m aware there has been no poll of regularly attending Anglicans on the matter, but perhaps you know differently and can point to one?

            and it is inevitable it will happen within the Church of England.

            It really isn’t.

            Probably sooner rather than later to avoid disestablishment reducing Church of England privileges. Most Church of England bishops have zero interest in being common evangelical preachers, they like their seats in the Lords, grand houses and palaces and cathedrals, interviews in the press and BBC etc.

            Again, thanks for admitting that all you really care about it worldly pomp and show, but you do realise it’s not just up to the bishops, right?

            Of course the cathedrals and palaces would remain even if disestablishment. They would have no interest in becoming unitarian bishops without keeping all the real estate of the Church of England which only comes with the Anglican church

            Hence why I write above that if the Church of England is disestablished because it refuses to bow to the government’s wishes, most of the liberal bishops will leave as they have no interest in following God, only in their seats in the Lords etc; and as a result the theological centre will shift away from liberalism as those will be the ones who are left. It certainly won’t become a ‘liberal Catholic church’ like the Scottish or American Episcopal churches.

        • The Church of England is already allowing prayers for gay marriages as the first step in allowing full homosexual marriage to avoid disestablishment if Labour get in at the next general election in 2024/25. Homosexual marriage in the Church of England in compliance with the fact homosexual marriage is now legal in UK law is inevitable, the only question is it allowed by Synod this year or later. The liberals aren’t going anywhere, they have nowhere else to go unlike the evangelicals who can become Pentecostal or Baptist without problem or the Anglo Catholics who can of course become full Roman Catholics.

          Reply
          • Nonsense and speculation. The papers are not even out yet! Please can you stop making these assumptions. If you keep posting semi-trolling comments, I will start deleting them.

          • I think Jayne Ozanne instituted a poll of attending and nonattending Anglicans alike. The large percentage 55% looks to be the result of the answers of the nonattending (nonattending Anglicans is an oxymoron?) as (Regnerus) nominals and seculars hold similar views that are very distinct from those of committed Christians.

          • ‘Committed Christians’ in your words being only evangelicals who oppose homosexual marriage and go to Church weekly. A definition which could apply as much to those attending Baptist or Pentecostal churches, not just Anglicans

          • ‘Committed Christians’ in your words being only evangelicals who oppose homosexual marriage and go to Church weekly.

            Certainly the latter. How can someone be ‘committed’ if they can’t even be bothered to turn up once a week?

            The really committed turn up more than once a week.

            A definition which could apply as much to those attending Baptist or Pentecostal churches, not just Anglicans

            Of course. Why wouldn’t it? They’re all Christians, aren’t they? So they all have to meet the minimum requirements.

          • T1, is your position ‘Anglican good (insofar as it is not similar to Baptist or Pentecostal), Baptist and Pentecostal bad?

            On what grounds is it based, if so?

  16. It would. The Church of England was created as the established Church with the King as its head at the Reformation. Without that it no longer exists, even if a successor Anglican church takes its place.

    A Church is very much the buildings and the role of being the established church even more so for the Church of England. Any type of Christian church in any modern hall can preach the gospel and read the Bible but only the Church of England can lead state ceremonies and protect our historic centuries old churches as the established church. If I desperately wanted to take every word of the Bible as red, including not eating shellfish, anti divorce, not just anti homosexual marriage etc I could wonder down to my local Baptist or Pentecostal or charismatic church in a modern hall and do that.

    Reply
    • It would. The Church of England was created as the established Church with the King as its head at the Reformation. Without that it no longer exists, even if a successor Anglican church takes its place.

      You assert that but you are wrong. It would of course still exist. It would have changed, byt it would not have ceased to exist.

      A Church is very much the buildings

      No it isn’t. Lots of churches don’t have buildings; they meet in school halls, or people’s houses. Are you saying they aren’t churches?

      Reply
        • Not English Anglican churches no. If you want to meet in a hall or living room become Pentecostal or Baptist

          They are still churches, though, right? So buildings aren’t necessary to be a church, right?

          Reply
        • T1,
          Maybe you need to open your eyes and get out more. There are CoE church plants outside existing CoE church buildings. For one, just look up the history of the Gas Street Church plant in Birmingham, England, where and how it started and where it meets now.
          Whether they approve SSM, I’ve no idea, but that is not the specific point you are now making.

          Reply
    • Well, I never; shell fish banned in all those churches! Even if invited, I’d have to decline an invitation the Chris Bishop’s (coastal?) Baptist church. No paella for me from now on, and fish only on Fridays so as to not upset my RC friends.
      Maybe, there is a need to get a better understanding of discontinuity and continuity between the God’s old Covenants and New.

      Reply
  17. And, Believers in Christ are God’s holy temple, in which God dwells. We are ” living stones” – built for the holy glory of God.

    Reply
    • No, but amongst faithfully commenting on scripture readings, and offering a discussion, and exploring ministry at funerals (none of which you appeared to have read, engaged with, or commented on—I wonder why? Are you obsessed with sexuality?) I am going to be commenting on the one moment in the last ten years which is really important.

      I hope you don’t mind. You don’t have to come here and read. And you are very welcome to engage with the other 90% of the material here when you have a moment.

      Reply
  18. Alan Kempson
    One hesitates to join this particulaar thread,however, holding my nose.
    The article is witty in the style of Juvenal; Juvenalian satire, in literature, is any bitter and ironic criticism of contemporary persons and institutions that is filled with personal invective, angry moral indignation, and pessimism. The name alludes to the Latin satirist Juvenal, who, in the 1st century ad, brilliantly denounced Roman society, the rich and powerful, and the discomforts and dangers of city life. Samuel Johnson modeled his poem London on Juvenal’s third satire and The Vanity of Human Wishes on the 10th. Gulliver’s Travels (1726) established Jonathan Swift as the master of Juvenalian satire. In the 20th century, Karl Kraus’s indictments of the prevailing corruption in post-World War I Austria were in the Juvenalian tradition.
    What a wormhole we have entered, What a time of and for weeping,
    Followers of Jesus might remember that” he would not cry aloud nor lift up his voice in the streets”. And repine that they” do err not knowing the Scripture”
    Regarding shepherding the following may give a God’s eye view of the problems.
    JER,3 vs, 14 and 15 contain a wonderful promis for these times
    See also JER,23; EZEK; 34, MICAH:25 ACTS 20;27 – 29. 1PETER5; 1 – 4
    Jesus and Paul speaking of the end of the world remind us that perilous time would come in the latter days and Jesus says of these perilous times “See that ye be not troubled. these are but the beginings of birth pangs”
    The first tremister of birthing is uncomfortabe. the second tremister is unbearable
    “Birth pangs ” suggest that something is about to be born! I suggest that Judgement is what will be born,The day of giving account
    “When my father and my mother forsake me the Lord will take me up”

    Reply
  19. I am not interested in church plants. I am not evangelical. I would happily scrap the lot of them and put the money back into the existing historic Parishes of the Church of England which need the funds, especially in rural areas.

    Reply
    • No they aren’t churches

      Sorry, this appears to have got detached from its prior (the user interface here is… not the best, shall we say (though far from the worst either)) so can I just confirm that you are saying here that any church belonging to a denomination other than the Church of England is not really a church?

      So Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, Methodist churches, Congregational churches, Pentecostal churches, Roman Catholic churches, Greek Orthodox churches… none of them are real churches?

      What about Church of Scotland churches? They’re the established church. Are they real churches?

      What criteria are you using to determine what’s a real church and what isn’t?

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  20. This is an interesting way of presenting the problem, even if analogy of this length and detail is likely to create as many questions as it answers.

    Method aside, I think you are right about ‘faithfulness’ being the paradigm at play. Who should the Church of England be faithful to? The State? Rome? Society? Opinion polls? I simply wish it were faithful to itself, and not living with the cognitive dissonance of holding two mutually exclusive positions. Yes, yes, I know not everyone agrees about that…

    Andrew Godsall rebuked me in the comments of an earlier post for having the luxury of being a non-member of the CofE, so I should limit my comment, and to a point he is right: I have no obvious vested interest. But in this analogy (which I am now about to torture beyond the point of usefulness) perhaps us dissenting nonconformists are the lifelong ‘single person’ looking in from outside. Marriage isn’t for us, but we certainly shouldn’t think our christian brothers and sisters accursed for having entered into it. 😉

    Mat

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  21. They are not all evangelical worshippers like your Church, just genuine middle of the road Church of England worshippers like me. The ‘silent majority’ in the Church of England

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  22. Ian’s letter in today’s Church Times makes the central point that all the years of concentration on this question have led to bishops and authorities still regularly making points at the level of schoolchild error and self contradiction (my summary not precisely his). I wrote making precisely the same point, though not so well.

    We are really going to believe that John 16.12-14 was referring to same sex marriage transpiring 2 millennia later!!! – among other things.
    As Bp Croft suggests on p30 of TILAF.

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  23. To put things in perspective, here are some facts – and a couple of questions.
    1. The number of people in the UK who call themselves exclusively homosexual is about 1.5% of the population, according to the 2021 census (why is taking so long to release computer-gathered data?).
    This figure has been known long before the census because it accords with large surveys. Activists have consistently overstated numbers for years (and Stonewall activists in schools do this).
    2. About 1.3% of people also call themselves “bisexual”, testifying to the fact that sexual affections are certainly not innate, nor are they as fixed as some imagine. Among bisexuals are former clergymen like Jeremy Pemberton and Roy Clements, who were formerly married (to women) and raised families before they started new relationships. Jayne Ozanne has also described how she had a relationship with an Anglican clergyman before she went on to have a five year relationship with a woman, so she must appear as a bisexual person as well. Sexuality is clearly not an immutable characteristic of human beings. This puts attempts to ban SOCE in a strange light – since sex (male or female) is actually immutable.
    How can a “bisexual” have a “faithful, permanent, exclusive” relationship and still own the title or self-identity of “bisexual”? Does it mean that he or she intends to “move on” to another relationship at some stage?
    3. The ‘T’ in LGBT represents an extremely small number of people, mainly men, and the L is at war with the T for the most part. My experience of British schools does suggest to me that quite a few unhappy teenage girls wish they were boys – or maybe social media tells them that.
    4. I don’t know what the Q (‘queer’) is supposed to designate or how it is different from ‘homosexual’. Does anyone know what it means or who it denotes?
    Adding letters (“LGBTQIA+”) may sound like an ever-expanding circle but it doesn’t actually increase numbers.
    5. Given these small numbers, why all the salience of homosexuality in modern western culture today? I have to conclude it is because of the wholly disproportionate number of people with SSA in the BBC (about 12% of the workforce) and in the UK Parliament – an extraordinary 56 members of the current Parliament describe themselves as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ or ‘queer’, including 10 SNP members.
    To this must be added at least certain strands of clergy in the Church of England. Westcott House has become well known for a prominent gay sub-culture in recent years, as Salisbury and Wells was formerly known.
    6. Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell have been quietly (or not so quietly) promoting the cause of same-sex marriage in the Church of England through the senior appointments process:
    First, by putting a man in a same-sex marriage in charge of Crown appointments;
    Second, by appointing two suffragan bishops (one male, the other female) in same-sex partnerships;
    Third, by appointing a man in a civil partnership to be Dean of Canterbury (but waiting until Lambeth was over before making the announcement). There isn’t any doubt where Welby wants the Church of England to go.

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    • It is not so much that people are fixedly bisexual:
      -They can find themselves with different desires at different times of life, partly to do with life circumstances and hormones and even revenge desires.
      -They may want to maximise their sexual possibilities,
      -and they may begin to do so when/where that becomes socially acceptable. So the drift will then be towards pansexual over and beyond bisexual. These are nothing like precise or scientific terms, and no doctor can diagnose them by examination.
      -And all these things are on a sliding scale and spectrum anyway.
      -At periods of life when hormones are still stewing as it were, and people’s bodies and brains have not yet settled down, then all kinds of less-settled wilder tendencies can be seen for a temporary period. But if desires are acted upon, this then becomes part of one’s identity in a way it would not otherwise.

      In a country where the mindset is get married, then the category would not arise. But in less stable/mature societies it starts arising.

      The present degenerate culture presents the turbulent fluctuating state of adolescents as ‘the way they are inside’, ignoring the fact that this can change so swiftly.

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    • So what homosexual marriage is legal in the UK, supported by most of the population and most Anglicans too and that 1.5% should not be denied the chance of lifelong 1 in marriage heterosexuals have

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    • Dear James,
      Two errors in what you write.
      1. I am not a ‘former clergyman’ – I remain an ordained deacon and priest. It might be more accurate to call me ‘laid aside’ – for now.
      2. I am not bisexual, I am a cis gay man. I object to being called bisexual simply because I was married to a woman and have children (and grandchildren). Please don’t do it.

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      • Dear Jeremy,
        1. I meant of course that you do not have a license to function as a clergyman in the Church of England and do not serve as one now. Perhaps you minister in another denomination now? (Plenty of retired people are described as former doctors, teachers etc.)
        2. I do not know what a “cis gay man” (cis of what?). Perhaps you can explain.
        3. I assumed that because you were married for years to a woman and had children by her that you had a degree of sexual attraction to women. Do you mean that you were never actually sexually attracted to your wife or that you felt tension or ambivalence?
        That is what I understand by ‘bisexual’, and I know that a lot of men in same-sex relationships were once married, and similarly for women who later in life begin lesbian relationships.

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          • Jeremy, I am a Classics scholar so I know what ‘cis’ means. The idea of ‘cis male’ etc is meaningless because human beings (unlike earthworms) cannot change sex.
            Do you mean that you were never sexually attracted to women when you married your wife or that your attraction was not very strong?
            That is al I have asked you to clarify, thank you.

          • Medicine and teaching are professions.
            Priesthood is not.

            Being a clergyman is a job though. You can be for example a ‘retired clergyman’ so yiu can certainly be a ‘retired clergyman’.

            Also let’s be clear we have no truck with that Roman nonsense of ‘priesthood’ being some kind of ontological change.

          • You can be for example a ‘retired clergyman’ so yiu can certainly be a ‘retired clergyman’.

            Sorry, that should of course read:

            You can be for example a ‘retired clergyman’ so you can certainly be a ‘former clergyman’.

    • Why can someone who is bisexual not have a committed, faithful relationship?
      Does being straight mean that you have to have a sexual relationship with everyone whom you find attractive?

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      • Why can someone who is bisexual not have a committed, faithful relationship?

        Who cares about a ‘committed, faithful’ relationship? What matters is that a relationship is lifelong and monogamous. Which means that whether a bisexual person can gave one depends on whether you mean ‘bisexual’ in a theoretical or a concrete way. Someone can be theoretically bisexual and have a lifelong monogamous relationship, yes. But in other to be practically bisexual they would have to have relationships with at least two people in their life, one of either sex, and if they do that then their relationship is nit lifelong and monogamous.

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        • Arrant nonsense. The gay men and women from Living Out have no doubt that they are gay even thought they may be entirely abstinent. Straight people who remain virgins until their deathbeds still know to whom they are attracted. Sexual orientation doesn’t necessitate sexual activity.

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          • The gay men and women from Living Out have no doubt that they are gay even thought they may be entirely abstinent.

            So that’s exactly as I wrote, using the term in a ‘theoretical’ rather than a ‘practical’ way.

            You can certainly be attracted to both men and women and chaste. What you cannot do is actually have had sex with both a man and a woman and one ever have been in one lifelong, monogamous relationship.

    • 1 The Queen was not silent, mealy – mouthed about Jesus. Maybe her meeting with Billy Graham had something to do with it.
      Repeat Q’s
      1 What or who do you worship?
      2. What is the evangel?
      Don’t suppose you’ll answer.

      Reply

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