Bishop Bill Love, TEC, and same-sex marriage in the church

Andrew Goddard writes: The recent negative judgment by The Episcopal Church’s Hearing Panel on Bishop Bill Love’s pastoral direction nearly two years ago to the clergy of his diocese (Albany) is justifiably leading to widespread comment and concern. But what has happened and what is really at stake? This article explains the background and some of the key elements and unclarities in the judgment; a second article tomorrow will explore some of its possible implications and consequences.

The Background

The Episcopal Church in the United States (TEC) has, for several decades, been authorising various forms of service to affirm same-sex couples. This is one of the major causes of the divisions within the Anglican Communion and was addressed in the 2004 Windsor Report which sought, among other things, a moratorium on such rites. Initially, the services took the form of blessing for same-sex unions. In 2015, however, the further significant step was taken by General Convention of authorising experimental liturgies for same-sex marriage. Because of TEC’s polity, however, each diocesan bishop had to authorise such rites if they were to be used in their dioceses.

As a result of this trajectory, a number of diocesan bishops left TEC, often with many of their clergy and leading to legal disputes. Most helped form or joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). However, a significant number of bishops, such as Bill Love (consecrated as Bishop Coadjutor in 2006) have felt called by God to remain within TEC, to continue to minister to the flock entrusted to their care at their consecration, and to uphold traditional Anglican teaching, as expressed by the Communion, in their teaching and ministry. They have therefore refused to authorise liturgies blessing same-sex unions or rites for same-sex marriage. They have supported each other in this witness through the work of Communion Partners.

In the run-up to the 2018 General Convention a campaign was launched to enable same-sex marriage to be available in every diocese of TEC as it was felt to be unjust that gay and lesbian Episcopalians in some parts of the country could not marry in church. One way of doing this which was proposed was to incorporate the liturgies into the Book of Common Prayer. This would have made the already difficult position of Communion Partner bishops almost certainly untenable as it would have decisively redefined the doctrine, discipline, and worship of TEC which bishops promise to conform to in their episcopal oaths.

Thankfully, a significant number of those supporting same-sex marriage, including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, were not willing to follow such a path which seriously risked excluding those holding to traditional Anglican teaching. As a result, an alternative approach was able to be found which became Resolution B012 from the 2018 General Convention. This sought to grant the desire of many to ensure same-sex marriages could occur in any diocese while enabling those bishops opposed to same-sex marriage to continue to minister with integrity. This was done by again authorizing the controversial liturgies for “continued trial use” along with two new liturgies but creating a process by which Communion Partner bishops would be able to make arrangements for another bishop to have the necessary oversight if one of their parishes wished to celebrate same-sex marriages:

That in dioceses where the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority (or, where applicable, ecclesiastical supervision) holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples, and there is a desire to use such rites by same-sex couples in a congregation or worshipping community, the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority (or ecclesiastical supervision) shall invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation or worshipping community in order to fulfill the intention of this resolution that all couples have convenient and reasonable local congregational access to these rites (para 8).

The questions and challenges raised by this attempt to create a secure space for the minority conservative position (at least as great as those in the Church of England in relation to differences over women priests and bishops) were to be addressed by a Task Force on Communion Across Difference (Resolution A227) which is currently preparing a report for next year’s General Convention.

In their Austin Statement following the passing of the resolution, and in their detailed FAQs about it, the Communion Partners made clear how important it was that this way forward preserved the Book of Common Prayer:

We are grateful to God that the 79th General Convention has preserved the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, guaranteeing its continued use. While giving space for those who seek to develop new rites and new language under the guidance of their bishop, the Convention “memorialize[d] the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian formularies ensuring its continued use” (Resolution A068). In adopting this resolution, the General Convention ensured that we may continue to pattern our communities after the historic Faith and Order of the Book of Common Prayer as authorized in the Episcopal Church, and that clergy and bishops will be able to vow obedience to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church as set forth in its historic prayer book (Austin, para 7).

Bishops may continue to lead their dioceses in accordance with the traditional teaching on marriage as found in Scripture and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which is also the consensus position of the Lambeth Conference (Resolution 1.10, 1998), frequently reiterated by all the Anglican Instruments of Communion. Congregations that seek to perform same-sex marriages in such dioceses do so under the pastoral care of another bishop. The “Austin Statement” of the Communion Partner bishops recorded just this intention for their dioceses (FAQs).

The FAQs, however, also accepted that a bishop could not prohibit the use of the Trial Use marriage rites in his or her diocese in the light of the resolution:

As of Advent 1 of 2018, in all dioceses where the marriage of same-sex couples is legal under civil law, no bishop of the Episcopal Church may prohibit the use of the Trial Use marriage rites. This was the clear intent of Resolution 2018-B012, which set specific “terms and conditions” for how the authorized Trial Use marriage rites were to be used.

Although every other Communion Partner bishop established certain (and varied) “terms and conditions” for the small number of their parishes wishing to use the new same-sex marriage rites, Bishop Bill Love in Albany refused to do this. He found that in conscience he could not do so given his understanding of Scripture, the doctrine and worship of the BCP which he sought to uphold, and his diocesan canons and the teaching of the Anglican Communion which were also clear that marriage was between a man and a woman. His November 2018 Pastoral Letter clearly and graciously set out his reasons and concluded with the direction:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

It is this direction which eventually led to charges being brought against him.

The Verdict

Given the statement quoted above from the Communion Partner FAQs, many of us who shared Bishop Love’s theological stance were concerned that TEC seeking to resolve the problem by judicial process was inevitably going to end with a negative verdict against Bishop Love for violation of the discipline of the Church. The hope was therefore that other approaches could be found to resolve the deadlock. The quite different approach of the current Presiding Bishop compared to that of his predecessor, his constant appeal to Christian love, the desire to work at “Communion Across Difference” within TEC (and the wider Communion), and the delay in bringing charges gave some hope for this. Although complex, could it not, for example, be made possible to find a way to transfer the few diocesan clergy of Albany wishing to exercise their rights under B012 to another bishop so they were not bound by the directive and in marrying a same-sex couple were no longer acting under the authority of Bishop Love and so implicating him and the whole diocese in their actions?

Sadly, the decision was taken by TEC to pursue the matter legally and in September 2019 the Communion Partner bishops issued a statement (“The Minneapolis Statement”) expressing their great concern about this. Although a strong case was put by Bishop Love that he was not in violation of the Discipline and Worship of the Church, it looked inevitable that following this track would not end well but few expected it to end as badly as it now appears to have done.

The most serious aspect of the verdict are the extent of the violations and the grounds on which the judgment is reached which are more than merely technical. The ruling is that resolution B012, rather than preventing the revision of the BCP, with all its consequent problems for all Communion Partner bishops, actually effected this change.

In key phrases (italics added) from the Summary of Opinion against Bishop Love:

This Panel unanimously concludes that TEC has met its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Bishop Love has violated Canon IV.4.1(c) in that his November 10, 2015 Pastoral Directive violated the Discipline of the Church, as Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP…..TEC has also met its burden of establishing that the Direction violated the Worship of the Church in that Resolution B012 added canonically-authorized same-sex marriage rites to the Worship of the Church pursuant to the BCP. Therefore, Bishop Love’s argument that abiding by Resolution B012 would put him in violation of the Discipline, Doctrine and Worship of the Church fails in each assertion. Resolution B012 effectively added rites of worship to which paragraph one of “Concerning the Service” regarding “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage”(“commentary to Concerning the Service”) at 422 of the BCP, describing marriage “as between a man and a woman,” does not apply…. Finally, Resolution B012 was properly constituted to render marriage rites as canonically authorized revisions to the BCP.

This summary and the wider judgment will require some time to digest and evaluate but among the most significant elements are

1. Despite being explicitly authorized “for trial use” the rites are now being judged to be “authorized revision(s)” to the BCP itself. In the judgment itself, however, the language that is used is simply “proposed revisions” and this was what was stated by those bishops who proposed it at General Convention:

Q: Are you proposing that these rites become part of the Book of Common Prayer?

A: No, at least not now. Our proposal differs in this way from that of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which does propose moving toward prayer book revision (Resolution A085). They propose to present the Trial Use rites now as prayer book amendments. This would need to pass again in 2021 before attaining Prayer Book status.

But authorizing Trial Use rites is not the same thing as proposing Prayer Book revision. In order to become part of the Book of Common Prayer, a resolution would need to propose that they be adopted as a prayer book amendment, be sent to diocesan conventions for discussion, and then pass again on a second reading at the next General Convention. Our resolution does not propose any of that, but instead simply extends the period of Trial Use.

It is unclear on what basis the Bishop of Rhode Island (who as a proposer of B012 issued the explanation quoted above prior to its passing) is now, as President of this Hearing Panel, ruling the exact opposite such that “proposed revisions” are in fact “authorized revisions”.

2. The claim that “if Resolution B012 was properly constituted as a canonical proposed revision to the BCP, it constitutes the Worship of the Church” (p41). It thus appears to state that even if it is accepted that the same-sex marriage rites are only a “proposed revision to the BCP” and even though they are only for “trial use” under B012 they are nevertheless to be put on a par with the BCP as elements of “the Worship of the Church” which bishops are to uphold. Thus it is held that Bishop Love’s action “constituted a violation of his vows to adhere to the Worship of the Church” (p42) and not just a violation of its Discipline.

3. Although it is not explicitly stated that Bishop Love also violated the Doctrine of the Church, the question it asks (p31) and appears to answer in the affirmative is “Did Bishop Love’s Pastoral Direction Violate the Discipline and Doctrine of the Church?” (p31). While rejecting one of TEC’s arguments in relation to doctrine the ruling seems to accept TEC’s claim that “canonical changes to Canon I.18 that authorized same-sex marriage and Resolution 2015 B045 allowing for the provisional use of same-sex rites, had the effect of modernizing Doctrine to include same-sex marriage” (p35) and states (p36) that the definition of Doctrine in Canon IV.2 “would plainly include any marriage rite authorized by General Convention as a revision to the BCP” (which is how it interprets B012).

4. The argument of Bishop Love that the Doctrine of the Church in relation to marriage is clearly stated in the BCP (in its commentary on the Marriage Service and in its Catechism) and is what he is upholding in his stance is dismissed on the basis that these statements “should be read in a way to limit their application only those Marriage rites offered to cisgender couples” (p34), a peculiar use of “cisgender” apparently to mean “opposite sex” or “opposite gender” as most same-sex couples who marry are cisgender.

In summary, the ruling claims that Resolution B012 not only has canonical force meaning he has violated “the Discipline of the Church” but also that

  • The resolution has in fact authorized revisions to the BCP,
  • The liturgies B012 authorizes for “trial use” are now part of “the Worship of the Church”
  • The marriage doctrine stated in the BCP is not “the Doctrine of the Church”,
  • By implication, that same-sex marriage is now part of “the Doctrine of the Church”.

Bishop Love in refusing to permit same-sex marriages in his diocese has therefore been found to have violated his oaths to uphold the Discipline of the Church, the Worship of the Church, and (possibly) the Doctrine of the Church.

There are clearly some significant implications for TEC as a result of this. But, given the importance of the issue in the wider Anglican Communion, and with the postponement of the Lambeth Conference to 2022, there will be implications for Communion relations. More than that, with the impending launch of the Living in Love and Faith project, there will inevitably be implications for the Church of England as well. I will explore all these in tomorrow’s post.


Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, and Tutor in Christian Ethics at Westminster Theological Centre (WTC) and at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.


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245 thoughts on “Bishop Bill Love, TEC, and same-sex marriage in the church”

    • You may say that… but isn’t the legal issue that this:

      “Bishop Love in refusing to permit same-sex marriages in his diocese has therefore been found to have violated his oaths to uphold the Discipline of the Church, the Worship of the Church, and (possibly) the Doctrine of the Church.”

      is nonsense?

      Reply
      • Yes, that is the legal issue; but much as many want law (as opposed to reality or science or common sense or logic) to be seen as the bottom line, they are merely serving their own private interests by creating an alternative unreal reality called ‘law’ and ought not to be indulged.

        ‘Law’ as it now exists (let alone its ‘primacy’) is another of those emperor has no clothes scenarii. Its advocates (and we are not arguing here for anarchy but for law to be compulsorily grounded in reality) want law to be 6 feet above suspicion so that people do not notice this obvious point.

        1. Red can be legally voted green – this was confirmed to me by DPP Keir Starmer’s office. Anything at all can be voted as ‘law’. So how dangerous and conscienceless is ‘law’ then?

        2. MPs are happy to vote untrue things into law if that will get them reelected.

        3. They are happy to play God, redefine how families are made (an impossible task), redefine the life cycle, pretend that children don’t need fathers…. Evidence is not their priority.

        4. They need not have researched the issues they vote on at all, let alone be experts on them. So experts don’t vote and non-experts do??? The same elite oligarchy of non-experts every time, on every issue under the sun?? So who do they think they are? And what are the experts thinking as they sit back powerless to change this?

        5. Something becoming law is achieved by the stunning means of walking into a lobby. They ought to get some kind of medal for doing that.

        6. Law can be immoral – it can reward promise breakers and abandon promise keepers.

        And so on.

        Reply
        • So experts don’t vote and non-experts do

          Yes. For the very important reason that the non-experts are accountable to the people that elects[sic] them, and the experts aren’t (unless the experts are also MPs, in which case they can vote, for they are then accountable to the people).

          I can’t think of many things worse than laws being made by technocratic ‘experts’, giving the public no recourse to object beyond rising up in an armed rebellion against them. Can you imagine the sorts of things they would come up with?

          And at least if the MPs vote untrue things into law, they can be removed at the next election and other put in their place who can repeal the law. If laws were made by ‘experts’, it would be no less likely that untrue things would be made law (what if the family law were made by ‘gender identity experts’?); the only difference would be that there would be no chance of correcting the errors, and the errors would be self-perpetuating as the ‘experts’ appointed others in the same mould to replace them

          It would be like C.S. Lewis’s tyranny of busybodies: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/526469-of-all-tyrannies-a-tyranny-sincerely-exercised-for-the-good

          Reply
          • Human law is only ever opinion – nothing more. Whether an individual law happens to be good or bad, it is proof of nothing save that it was enacted at one moment in time by whoever had the power (by whatever means) at that moment. On the other hand none of this applies to God’s law which is a very different thing.

          • But at the election there are only 2 package deal choices.

            Not only that, but it is out of our hands which of the 2 wins, since it has never been the case that one vote would have even come close to making all the difference.

            These are some of the untrue things that are so often repeated.

            I think the idea that nonexperts should be preferred to experts, and the same nonexperts every time, is highly dodgy – how could it be justified?

            Many thanks for the CSL link – yes he did hate busybodies. The Silver Chair Progressive Head (progressively booted upstairs) is a re-run of a character in the first draft of The Magician’s Nephew. Not to mention the individual who had a ministry to others (”you could tell who the others were by their ‘hunted’ expression”). I think it is right to hate busybodyism. (a) Motives are rarely pure, (b) someone who is an outsider can never understand more than a small percentage and will inevitably end up getting the wrong end of the stick.

          • But at the election there are only 2 package deal choices.

            Not true. Yes, it may be the case that there are only two parties capable of forming a government; but that doesn’t mean they can’t be influenced by smaller parties. A party doesn’t have to win seats to have an influence, if it can eat into the vote share of one of the big parties; you only have to look at last year, and the way the success of the Brexit Party in the European elections led directly to the Conservatives finally getting rid of May, to see that in action.

            Not only that, but it is out of our hands which of the 2 wins, since it has never been the case that one vote would have even come close to making all the difference.

            Again, that’s missing the point. One vote wouldn’t have made the difference in last year’s European elections, but it is only because of each one of those millions of people who voted for the Brexit party that the entire political climate of the country changed. If they hadn’t voted, or had voted a different way, because ‘one vote won’t make a difference’, then the outcome of the year would have been totally different (there probably wouldn’t even have been a general election, for example; May would still be Prime Minister).

            I think the idea that nonexperts should be preferred to experts, and the same nonexperts every time, is highly dodgy – how could it be justified?

            As I wrote: it is justified because the nonexperts have to answer to the people. That is the important bit, and it far outweighs any expertise or lack of it.

            It would be nice if there were more MPs with careers and experience outside of politics, so they could bring some expertise as well as being accountable to the people; it’s not that I’m against expertise. Just that if you can only have one out of expertise and accountability, accountability is by far the most important.

            I think it is right to hate busybodyism. (a) Motives are rarely pure, (b) someone who is an outsider can never understand more than a small percentage and will inevitably end up getting the wrong end of the stick.

            And do you not see that your ‘experts’ would inevitably become busybodies? How could they not? How could someone appointed to make laws for others to follow, on the basis of their expertise, not come to think that they knew better than those they rule what is good for them?

  1. Thank you for this helpful analysis. I look forward to the second instalment, which I suspect will be rather more helpful in terms of where the future roads may lie.

    A couple of observations. Firstly, no one was asking +Love or anyone in his diocese to participate in any same sex marriage blessings. Anyone was free to personally disassociate. It is really unclear as to why + Love took the stand he did, because it was very clear he could not sustain that position.

    Secondly the term Communion Partner is very misleading. The group that goes by that name behave as if the Windsor Process were in place. Neither it, nor the covenant it proposed remain options for the Anglican Communion. For the Communion Partner group to behave as if it is an option does everyone in the communion a disservice. Every bishop invited to the Lambeth Conference is de facto a Communion Partner bishop. ++Justin has made it clear that ACNA and groups like them are not represented by bishops at the Lambeth Conference. These are just facts.

    It should have been possible for +Love to make his stand. Instead, he seems to have staged a more spectacular fall and weakened the position he holds – a position which needs to be respected in any road the future takes.

    Reply
    • I think Bill Love has acted faithfully, and with integrity. But that kind of integrity has been ruled out of order in TEC—that is the issue. Many could see that coming, which is why they left to form ACNA.

      Reply
      • I agree that he acted with integrity. But so would those clergy in his diocese who didn’t agree with him had they simply gone ahead and conducted same sex marriages. So it is a complex situation, and he was always going to lose by choosing to act this way.

        Leaving to form ACNA has been a move with less integrity. Far better to stay and maintain a both/and kind of presence rather than create an either/or one. And ++Justin has been surprisingly clear about ACNA. ACNA is already beginning to fall apart over the ordination of women question – a question most Anglicans settled in creative ways years ago.

        Reply
        • Far better to stay and maintain a both/and kind of presence rather than create an either/or one

          Surely the whole point of this is that a ‘both/and’ position is impossible? It seems to have been made clear that anyone who thinks that same-sex sexual relationships are contrary to the doctrine of the church, and therefore that the church should not be conducting services which appear to give approval to those relationships, is not welcome within the denomination.

          Or at the very least is welcome only so long as they keep quiet about what they privately think and in public acquiesce to the opposing view. Which is clearly not an honest position.

          Reply
          • This is just wrong and Andrew Goddard makes it perfectly clear in his analysis that +Love was not being required to do anything or even keep quiet. He was at perfect liberty to say that he did not agree and was not prepared to conduct such services. Which is what other bishops did. What he wasn’t at liberty to do was prevent anybody else from taking such services.

            As to the both/and approach in the CofE – we have had that for a long time as the pastoral statement from the bishops has made clear. Clergy are not allowed to be in a same sex marriage or to conduct them but lay people, who are in the largest majority by far of membership in our churches, are perfectly at liberty to marry someone of the same sex and still to remain in membership in the church; to hold office and so on.

          • ‘What he wasn’t at liberty to do was prevent anybody else from taking such services.’ Which is a bizarre understanding of episcopacy—and a strange understanding of freedom.

          • What he wasn’t at liberty to do was prevent anybody else from taking such services.

            Right. So you’re saying that anyone who thinks such services ought not to be performed by the church, rather than just that they themselves don’t wish to take part in them, is not welcome.

            Or at the very least they are welcome only so long as they keep quiet about their belief, and don’t try to argue for it, or put it into practise in any rôle they hold within the denomination.

            So it it not possible for the denomination to contain ‘both’ those who think the church should be performing such services ‘and’ those who think the church must not perform such services.

          • Ian: that’s just nonsense I’m afraid. Where have you been for the last thirty years? It’s exactly the same with the ordination of women. A diocesan bishop is quite at liberty to say that he does not believe in the ordination of women – as Martin Warner does – but he still has to arrange for someone else to ordain the women in his diocese. He can’t prevent them being ordained.

          • Andrew says that the fact that something has happened for 30 years makes it ok.

            Spot the flaw.

            Secondly, he says that people have not noticed what has happened for 30 years.

            Again he is wrong. Of course they have noticed it. Does he actually think they have not? So what if things happen? – both justifiable and unjustifiable things, both good and bad things happen, and happen over the long term.

            It is incredibly nasty to force people to be party to sin, either in reality or in their own eyes. But what is worse is to force them to commit, help commit, or be involved in that sin. Forcing doctors to refer for ‘abortions’. Forcing midwives to be involved in that of all processes. Forcing MPs to vote the way ‘we’ say you have to.

            No-one even half liberal could affirm things like that. Once again the tyranny of liberalism is unmasked.

          • Andrew Godsall’s response to Ian’s comment makes total sense to me.
            ‘Andrew says that the fact that something has happened for 30 years makes it ok.’ He said nothing of the sort.
            ‘ … he says that people have not noticed what has happened for 30 years.’ He didn’t say that either.
            Nor did he mention abortions, midwives or MPs.
            Finally, his comment has nothing whatsoever to do with being liberal.
            Specsavers anyone?

          • Christopher

            Andrew is saying that the CoE has affirmed women’s orders. Which has nothing to do with being party to sin.
            Priests and laity may disagree with this decision and be allowed to remain ‘untainted’ by it, but they cannot change it.

          • Andrew Godsall’s response to Ian’s comment makes total sense to me.
            ‘Andrew says that the fact that something has happened for 30 years makes it ok.’ He said nothing of the sort.

            What, then, did he mean by ‘Where have you been for the last thirty years?’

            Nor did he mention abortions, midwives or MPs.

            Are you saying argument by analogy should be banned, now?

            By the way, can I ask if you’ve had time to consider my question of:

            https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/do-we-need-new-structures-for-the-new-thing-god-is-doing/#comment-385230

            ‘are you convinced yet that Andrew does not mean at all the same thing as that Stott quotation does by “the Bible is the Word of God and the word of man”?’

            Because as I wrote in https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/do-we-need-new-structures-for-the-new-thing-god-is-doing/#comment-385237

            ‘The only reason to put that over-vague position out there, and not dig further to discover if the agreement is real or merely illusory, would be if you were more interested in using constructive ambiguity to come up with a form of words that you could all sign up to (while meaning different things by them).

            But as that sort of papering over of real differences in the interest of superficial agreement is fundamentally dishonest, that couldn’t possibly be what you are interested in doing.

            Could it?’

          • Exactly. My point had nothing to do with women’s orders, everything to do with ‘X has been happening for 30 years *therefore* X is ok’ being a false piece of ‘reasoning’.

            Likewise, the phrase ‘where have you been for the last 30 years?’ quite clearly implies that people have not noticed what has been going on for the last 30 years. Which they obviously have. Which invalidates his point.

          • Christopher you have rather got the wrong end of the stick here I’m afraid. Ian was claiming that the model of episcopacy adopted in this case was ‘bizarre’. I was pointing out that in the C of E we have adopted that exact same model of episcopacy in connection with the ordination of women. A bishop is entirely free, as a matter of personal conscience, to avoid such ordinations in their diocese but they can not stop them altogether. It’s a very specific point and it’s not possible to draw vast generalisations from it.

          • David, your point ‘he did not mention abortion, midwives or MPs’ is uncontested. What he mentioned was one group of people who were being forced to be party to sin (or at least what in their eyes was sin, and what has been generally been seen as sin by Christians within the internal logic of the Christian worldview). My point was that is part of a wider pattern, of which abortion, midwives, MPs are 3 examples. A 4th example was Obama forcing nuns to fund contraception. Yuk! There are many other possible examples.

            The use of examples to illustrate a wider pattern is standard, and I expect most readers understood that that is what I am doing. It is something you will regularly have seen in your reading. Trashing of conscience is serious; trashing of objective good is worse.

            What we have here is not merely trashing of conscience, but trashing of objective good. Paul speaks of conscience – some people’s conscience lets them do X and Y, some people’s only Y. But the present case is not that -rather, the present case pits people who have a conscience at all against those who have none. Having no conscience has never been an option, and it is sleight of hand that disguises it as an ok option.

          • Once again Christopher you are missing the point here.
            I fully agree that ‘X has been happening for 30 years *therefore* X is ok’ would be a false piece of ‘reasoning’. But I am not reasoning that at all. I was simply pointing out to Ian the way that we have been doing things in the C of E is exactly what is proposed in the case under discussion here. See above.
            You are making generalisations; I was addressing a specific.

          • Andrew – I know you are making that point, and the point is without weight unless 30 years confers authority, which it does not. So wherein else does the weight of your point consist? Why make the point at all?

          • Christopher: Ian was suggesting that the model of episcopacy was a new one in this case. My point is that it isn’t. It has been around in the C of E for thirty years. That doesn’t confer any authority on it at all. But it does mean that what has happened in the case of Bishop Love is not novel. The same model of episcopacy has been around a long time.

            Perhaps you and Ian think that diocesan bishops in the C of E who are against the ordination of women should be able to forbid those ordinations taking place in their dioceses. But the C of E has decided against that. And that is analogous with what is going on with Bishop Love.

          • Christopher: Ian was suggesting that the model of episcopacy was a new one in this case. My point is that it isn’t. It has been around in the C of E for thirty years.

            I think if you had bothered to read what Ian wrote you would have seen that he did not suggest the model of episcopacy was ‘novel’ but that it was ‘bizarre’.

            The fact that the Church of England has been operating with the same bizarre model of episcopacy for thirty years makes it no less bizarre.

            Perhaps you and Ian think that diocesan bishops in the C of E who are against the ordination of women should be able to forbid those ordinations taking place in their dioceses. But the C of E has decided against that. And that is analogous with what is going on with Bishop Love.

            So basically any bishop who thinks the church ought not to be performing the celebrations in question is required to not act on their belief.

            That’s hardly a ‘both/and’ model. It’s a ‘this is the rule and you have to follow it’ system.

          • It’s absolutely both/and. As with the ordination of women, it is permitted to dissent from the view that the Church of England has decided upon – that it has discerned and decided that it is right to ordain women.

            You are welcome to ask Ian if he actually thinks what the C of E does in this case of the ordination of women is bizarre. I don’t think he does. So that’s why it is very odd that he calls this case bizarre.

          • It’s absolutely both/and. As with the ordination of women, it is permitted to dissent from the view that the Church of England has decided upon – that it has discerned and decided that it is right to ordain women.

            But if you act on that dissent as a bishop then you are going to be disciplined. How is that ‘both/and’? One view is privileged and enforced; the other is not allowed to be enacted.

            That’s ‘we will tolerate your presence so long as you don’t actually do anything, but your views certainly aren’t welcome’.

          • S: you would have to ask a bishop like Martin Warner if he feels like that. From what I have heard, he doesn’t.

          • you would have to ask a bishop like Martin Warner if he feels like that

            More relevant, I’m sure you’d agree, is how a bishop like Bill Love thinks about it.

        • Is there no issue where ‘mutual flourishing’ is untenable? Because if that is so what is the point of having doctrine – certainly in the case of first order issues?

          Reply
          • Is there no issue where ‘mutual flourishing’ is untenable?

            Clearly there isn’t if you don’t think that there’s any such thing as facts when it comes to doctrine, as Andrew Godsall has stated he doesn’t. Because if there’s no fact behind the doctrine then neither side can be right or wrong, so it doens’t matter what they think.

            Of course that does rather rely on him being right about the fact that there are no facts behind doctrine, If he’s wrong about that act, as he’s admitted he might be, then all that edifice comes crashing down.

        • I think you were claiming that the model of episcopacy here in the UK was bizarre. Therefore it’s rather essential to ask what one of these bizarre models actually thinks about it. To test your claim and all that.

          Reply
      • Ian, I’d started a comment but deleted it.
        Integrity,was a key word I used. From all that was very well set out, it was onesided and far from what is seen in the ungodly Machiavellian processes and procedures done in the name of God, that culminated in the Judgement that lacks coherence and logic. It would be interesting to see a detailed ratio decidendi, from the tribunal, if it is available.
        If there has been a spectacular fall, it is plain to me who have fallen, where it resides.
        Shame has been a recent topic: shamelessness has been eradicated.

        Reply
    • He is compelled to facilitate what he may see as immoral, thus being forced to become an accessory to that immorality and quite possibly in reality or in his own eyes being forced to corrupt others. Why should he have to live with that? He is trying to keep his slate clean, and would have been able to do so were it not for these bullies.

      It is just like a doctor who is forced to refer for ‘abortions’ (being part-cause of the children’s deaths thereby), a midwife who is compelled to be part of the reverse process, or just like someone whom the whips compel to vote a certain way. The compellers are conscienceless bullies, the lot of them, and ought to be called out every time they try to act like that.

      Reply
  2. Would it not be true that, by the same logic, Bishop Michael Curry should be found to have “violated his oaths to uphold the Discipline of the Church, the Worship of the Church, and the Doctrine of the Church” in that Church doctrine is still that Marriage is between one man and one woman for life? While practice may have changed, doctrine has not. Indeed, is it not correct that TEC has been reprimanded and disciplined by Canterbury for this very action?

    Reply
    • Indeed that, in my view, is entirely correct.

      The verdict on Bishop Love is extraordinarily odd. I can’t work out how it fits with any logical thinking… no matter which view is taken.

      “A word means what I want it to mean….” or something like that, said the Queen of Hearts. Working agreements now are a nonsense, rendered pointless by shifting sands of some untrustworthy people.

      Reply
  3. Surely at this point is is clear that it is impossible to be a traditional Christian in this denomination; that traditional Christians are not welcome there anyway; and that therefore any remaining must leave?

    Reply
  4. The Anglican church isnt helped by the fact that there seems to be one law/expectation for congregations – they can have gay sexual relationships – but another for the clergy, who can’t. Totally bizarre. It’s either morally wrong or right (ie God’s will). And whichever it is, I think the former, should apply to all.

    Reply
  5. This is the inevitable outcome of the trajectory of TEC over the last 25 years, finally ridding themselves of this last obstacle to the “progress” in editing God’s word to fit worldly values. They will not prosper, in fact they are losing membership at an accelerating pace and are not growing from those they seek to appease.
    The C of E is following them down the rabbit hole rapidly. Melvin Tinker has been an outspoken opponent to the path that the church is on for a number of years. His church has left the C of E and he has retired. As he says “with the two archbishops now in place, there is no hope of the church changing direction and returning to orthodox belief”. May the Lord guide those of us who need to find a new spiritual home.

    Reply
  6. Once again Christopher you are missing the point here.
    I fully agree that ‘X has been happening for 30 years *therefore* X is ok’ would be a false piece of ‘reasoning’. But I am not reasoning that at all. I was simply pointing out to Ian the way that we have been doing things in the C of E is exactly what is proposed in the case under discussion here. See above.
    You are making generalisations; I was addressing a specific.

    Reply
  7. The charade of Welby’s Anglicanism is all falling apart now.
    The 2019 Statistics show relentless decline and aging in the Church of England. Nothing can massage away these facts.
    The Bishop of Reading produces a video of rank heresy about the Incarnation and the Diocese of Oxford rushes to protect her instead of rebuking her false teaching.
    And one of the largest parishes in the country, St John’s Newlands in Hull, walks out, taking 550 members.
    The IICSA reveals a catalogue of episcopal failings but no sitting bishop takes responsibility.
    Faithful Anglicans can see the politics of Tec crossing the ditch and they are increasingly deciding to walk.
    This is the bitter fruit of Welby’s inability and unwillingness to uphold Gospel standards.

    Reply
    • Yes – unravelling is a good word. We are all inclined to think we are clever in making some apparently minor change to a complex structure with a high degree of internal logic – not realising that it is interconnected with everything else and so will change everything else, leading to an unholy mess.

      Reply
      • Of course it does. Because truth is systemic and a change in one part inevitably leads to a change in the body.
        Liberals understand this, which is why Andrew Godsall welcomes Tec’s fundamental and uncatholic changes to the doctrine of marriage- because he knows that the logic of this is a change in the Doctrine of Creation – capitals for emphasis. The horrible heresy spouted by Olivia Graham is not an accident or an imprecise use of language, as the Diocese of Oxford tries to pretend. It represents a profoundly wrong understanding of the relationship between God and creation – but one which advocates of the new sexual morality actually share themselves, if only they are clear sighted enough.
        And erstwhile evangelicals like David Runcorn have boarded that train as well and are going in the same direction that other former evangelicals like Steve Chalke have taken, away from orthodoxy and towards well, what? Neo-Socinianism, I think. The next stop of this train is unitarianism.

        Reply
        • I don’t think that the advocates of the new sexual morality necessarily have an ‘understanding’ (as you put it) here at all – they conform to what they see around them, which also suits their interests nicely. ‘Understanding’ would imply thought and reason.

          Reply
          • I don’t think that the advocates of the new sexual morality necessarily have an ‘understanding’ (as you put it) here at all – they conform to what they see around them, which also suits their interests nicely

            No doubt that is true of most of them, but some clearly know exactly what they are doing.

            I’m not sure which are worse, morally speaking.

  8. I did qualify my remarks with “if only they are clear sighted enough “. I grant that some or many don’t see the implications. But that can only be because they are not paying attention. We know where ex-evangelicals like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Dave Tomlinson and Steve Chalke have arrived in their thinking – and it isn’t evangelicalism with gay couples. This is the conclusion that David Runcorn tries so hard to resist, even while his own thinking today on sexuality, sacraments and penal substitutionary atonement is a long, long long way from classical evangelicalism. It is in fact theological liberalism, and for some (like Bell and McLaren) it goes down a generalised religious syncretism route (Borg’s “Progressive Christianity “), while for David (I suspect) it is the road of liberal catholicism – as it is for Simon Butler. Of course, old habits die hard and some find it hard to admit they are no longer evangelical or even orthodox- instead, they describe themselves as holding a more “generous ” view of the truth – which only shows they don’t understand the meaning of the word “generous”, which means to give freely what is your own to give.

    Reply
    • Hi James. I am in the room here. Anything you want to ask me? You clearly do not know me and this is, after all a discussion forum not a court room. A generous church, for me, is one in which there is respect for difference and for honest disagreement.

      Reply
      • Hello, David, I know a fair bit of your writing, as I do the writings of McLaren, Chalke and Bell. I know how they have changed in their once evangelical beliefs and they are open about this. I understand their different views, even as I reject them as unbiblical.
        Simon Butler has called the EGGS “Soviets” which can only mean he thinks them unchristian since that is certainly what the Soviet Union connotes. You seemed to agree with him, if I read you correctly. Simon has SSA and campaigns for the Church of England to change the doctrine of marriage to include same-sex marriage. Other Christians like Vaughan Roberts with SSA argue this is wrong and unbiblical. You have long argued for same-sex relationships as being part of God’s will for humanity. Your sincere belief, which I think is motivated by pastoral concern for persons experiencing loneliness and personal stress, is profoundly at odds with the New Testament vision of life in Christ’s kingdom.
        As I have often said, Christian truth is systemic and changing one part will in time affect every other part – just as both nutrition and poison as disseminated in a body. Your desire to declare homosexuality God’s good creational will for the human race instead of an instance of fallenness will have terrible, destructive ramifications. I am sure you know how it has devastated the American Episcopal Church and is now tearing the Methodist Church there in two. Do you want to see further devastation in the Church of England as well?
        This will surely happen. Melvin Tinker’s church has departed because of this (because they knew the hierarchy in York would try to impose a pliant incumbent in Hull). The next battle will be over All Souls. Why this devastation?
        Because of the way that Welby and now Cottrell have been manipulating episcopal appointments.

        Reply
  9. I have been saying for years that liberals are inclined to classify things according to new/old (a bit like the characters in Acts 17.21), whereas truth seekers classify things according to whether they are true or coherent or evidenced or not (since truth is surely the aim and raison d’etre of all discussion and debate).

    People will naturally struggle to see the relevance of the new/old factor, which is something entirely neutral and trivial. Old things can be either good or bad, and so can new things (obviously). This faulty assumption often manifests, as it did in what Andrew said above, and it seems to lie so close to the root of the liberal system that the foundations of that system must be questioned.

    Reply
    • This is just vast generalisation Christopher. It was you who made very faulty assumptions above.
      I don’t at all assume that new is better than old. I entirely wish to look for truth. Every liberal I have ever knows wishes to seek for truth.
      You really can’t make such vast and un-evidenced generalisations simply because you got hold of the wrong end of the stick

      Reply
      • don’t at all assume that new is better than old. I entirely wish to look for truth.

        That’s an odd thing for someone who doesn’t think that articles of doctrine have any factual basis to say. What does it mean to you to seek the truth of a doctrine, if you don’t think that doctrines can be true or false because they aren’t facts?

        Reply
        • What I have consistently said, S, is that the 39 Articles of Religion are unreliable as doctrine because they were written at a time of immense religious and political turmoil and prejudice against Roman Catholicism. I have never said that all doctrine is therefore unreliable.
          I do believe that all doctrine is provisional. There is still more light and truth to come from God’s word, and anyone who says otherwise is misleading you.

          Reply
          • Andrew Godsall has just made Christopher Shell’s point for him. The statement that “all doctrine is provisional” is pure liberalism. It means that tomorrow I could discover (or conclude) that the Trinity isn’t true, that Jesus isn’t God Incarnate and he didn’t rise bodily from the dead. In fact, everything that Protestant liberalism from Schleiermacher concluded. Even Andrew’s use of the expression “God’s word” is highly imprecise and protean because for Andrew this does not mean the Bible. Andrew’s Protestantism (even gussed up in some catholic language) is really a king of Hegelianism of culture.

          • What I have consistently said, S, is that the 39 Articles of Religion are unreliable as doctrine because they were written at a time of immense religious and political turmoil and prejudice against Roman Catholicism. I have never said that all doctrine is therefore unreliable.

            You have consistently made a distinction between doctrine or ‘articles of faith’ and facts.

            May I point you at:

            https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/bishops-should-throw-away-their-mitres/#comment-382237

            ‘I don’t think [a point of doctrine, in this case about the mass]’s a fact. I think it’s an article of faith. Quite different.’

            Or https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/bishops-should-throw-away-their-mitres/#comment-382262

            ‘Once again you are confusing facts and articles of faith’

            So again I ask: what does it mean for you to claim you ‘wish to look for truth’ when you have consistently denied that the most important things (like matters of doctrine or article of faith) are even the sorts of things about which truth-statements can be made?

      • But your point above was not about new being good and old bad. It was about new being *significant*. Which it is not. So far as truth goes, neither oldness nor newness is of any significance, though we would want to investigate how old ever became old (or of longstanding) and also the particular reasons why new things had never taken root before.

        Reply
        • New can be significant. There is no logical reason why it can’t be. But of course it doesn’t have to be. Yet it can be.

          Reply
  10. Andrew,
    How do you know that: “there is still more light and truth to come from God’s word?”
    How would you
    recognise it as truth, when you have consistently demonstrated that it is all relative, subjective.
    Neither have you any claim at all on God’s word when you again have consistently demonstrated a deconstructionist approach, a human construct in which God played minimal or no part, and an aversion to confirm your belief in the irreducible, eternal, truths of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the historicity of supernatural incarnation, the life lived of Jesus, his death, bodily resurrection and ascension, his return, and Holy Spirit proceeding from Father and Son.
    You also have no basis for deciding that the 39 Arts do not contain the truth, if you merely state they were in opposition to the Catholic church in times of turmoil. Those reasons even if they were true, of themselves, do not negate truth contained in the Articles.
    In truth we worship different God’s Andrew. Liberalism is a different religion.
    Anyone who says otherwise is misleading, themselves and others.

    Reply
    • Andrew can’t even say what “God’s word” is. At least orthodox Christianity knows that this is the Bible. We argue about its precise interpretation (as Christians have from the very beginning) but not about its character as God’s Word Written. On this, Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals have always been agreed.
      But Andrew holds to liberal protestant ideas about revelation which owe more to Hegel than to the Reformers who established the Church of England in its doctrinal standards in the 16th century. Andrew’s Hegelianism is about some perpetually unrealized activity of the “Spirit” leading culture to an ever new synthesis of self-expression and self-understanding. That is why he said above that “all doctrine is provisional”. Pure Hegelianism. But try telling that to the Orthodox!

      Reply
      • I trust that Andrew believes God’s Word is Christ. A wholly orthodox belief.
        I also trust that Andrew (and David) share a generous, and orthodox, praxis which precludes sneering about other commentators in the third person and traducing their beliefs and convictions.
        I fear you do worship different gods. I hope not. But there is little evidence of acknowledging the prodigal love of the Father in some of these comments.
        But I am sure you feel justified now you have erected those hedges which exclude those of us who dont share your correct beliefs.

        Reply
        • I trust that Andrew believes God’s Word is Christ. A wholly orthodox belief.

          A very convenient belief, too, for those who wish to put words into Christ’s mouth.

          Reply
          • And take words out of it. For example, who has the most to say about hell in the Bible? Answer: Jesus. The statistics are unanswerable. But liberals don’t believe in eternal punishment, so they deny either that Jesus said these things; or they claim that he didn’t mean them; or that he was a “product of his culture” and did not know better. Calling Christ “the word of God” but then casting doubt on what he said (as the liberal Jesus Seminar and the ex-Christian Bart Ehrman have done) only nullifies that assertion . The liberal Jesus is the Protean invention of their basic Hegelian approach to theology. Richard Rohr is a perfect example of this, so too is Andrew’s theological hero, the ex-Christian Richard Holloway. We have been over this before and there is no way out of the maze of subjectivism for Andrew.

          • Oh Richard Rohr is great hero as well. Thought provoking teacher and of course a Roman Catholic priest.

            I think what Jesus talked about most was the kingdom, and how the people least expected were going in there *before* the confident religious types.

            James, if our belief wasn’t provisional, if it was final, then we’d be like God, knowing everything. As St Paul says, we see through a glass, darkly.

          • I think what Jesus talked about most was the kingdom, and how the people least expected were going in there *before* the confident religious types.

            Of course one thing Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, was also clear about is that not everybody is going to the Kingdom.

            But if you don’t like that it’s quite convenient to be able to say that the recorders of Jesus’ words got that bit wrong, and that you know what he really said, or could have said, or would have said, or should have said instead.

      • “Andrew can’t even say what “God’s word” is.”
        How very dare you!
        God’s Word is Jesus Christ. Absolutely clear about that. As is St John.
        The words of the bible bear witness to him.

        Reply
    • Geoff, (James and others) “there is still more light and truth to come from God’s word?” is a much loved and oft quoted line in the evangelical world from a sermon by pastor John Robinson preached to Christians about to board the Mayflower for the New World in 1620. Andrew is quoting our own words back to us here – and saying he agrees. So can we pause in our familiar habit here of queuing up to kick a liberal who has had the temerity to sneak in here through a gap in the fence. The most helpful question is how we evangelicals have embraced this conviction while avoiding drifting into all things relative and subjective? What does Robinson actually mean? Or was he wrong? Either was it’s our problem first.

      Reply
      • And it is used in a fabulous hymn as well by George Rawson – oft sung in my childhood. I always loved it and still do.

        Who dares to bind by his dull sense
        The oracles of heaven,
        For all the nations, tongues and climes
        And all the ages given!
        The universe how much unknown!
        That ocean unexplored!
        The Lord hath yet more light and truth
        To break forth from His Word.

        Reply
      • Over to you, David.
        Where do yo start in your answers to your questions?
        Are you really saying Andrew sneaks onto this site?
        He is bold, tenacious in his mission to undermine Christian orthodoxy and our Triune God, even, indirectly, the substance of the Creeds.
        Perhaps more light could be shine on the bodily resurrection of Christ.
        This is not intellectual nicety or scholarship: it of eternal significance. For him, you and me, for all. It is Good News of God, in Christ Jesus.

        Reply
        • Geoff

          Please do stop being ridiculous and insulting. Andrew, like David Runcorn, receives a great deal of wholly unchristian spite and calumny from you and other commentators on this blog.
          To say that he wishes to undermine Christian orthodoxy and the Triune God is untrue and defamatory.
          Ian, you have pulled up commentators who have been rude about you on this blog. Could you please warn others about hate speech? Thank you.

          Reply
          • “Hate speech ” is leftist code for censorship of ideas they don’t like. Start your own blog, Penelope, if you can’t handle different opinions.

          • Hate speech is hateful speech, James. It’s not becoming in anyone, least of all a Christian.
            Nor is this about not handling different opinions. I would hardly comment on Ian’s blog if I was afraid of different opinions!
            No, what I object to is not robust argument, but defamation and falsehood.
            Accusing someone of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy is a very hateful thing to do. And a wicked lie.

          • Hate speech is hateful speech

            The word ‘hateful’ has two opposite meanings. It can mean ‘something that arouses feeling of hate in someone who observes it’, or it can mean ‘something which is motivated by hate’.

            Which do you mean here? Do you mean ‘hate speech is speech which is motivated by hate’? Or do you mean ‘hate speech is speech which causes those who hear or read it to hate it or to hate the person who said or wrote it’?

            Accusing someone of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy is a very hateful thing to do.

            Again, which meaning of ‘hateful’ are you using here? Do you mean that the accusation of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy was motivated by hate (in which case you’ll have to explain how you have access to the inner workings of James’s mind, that you could know that)? Or do you mean that reading the accusation causes you to hate James (which would be fair enough but you’d have to explain why your personal feelings should matter to anyone else)?

            And a wicked lie.

            It’s only a lie if James doesn’t think it’s true. If James thinks it’s true — even if he’s mistaken — then it’s not a lie. (If I say ‘X is working to bring down the government’, and I know they’re not, then that’s a lie. But if I say it and I sincerely believe it to be true, then it’s not a lie, though of course it could be a mistake, and if it is and is proved to be a mistake then I ought to acknowledge that).

            So again you here are going to have to explain how you have access to the inner workings of James’s mind, that you know what he sincerely believes to be true.

          • Wrong target S.

            I don’t have a target. I’m just asking you to explain what you mean, as the word you used is ambiguous (if you don’t believe me, look it up in the OED: you can see it has two opposite meanings).

            So which meaning of ‘hateful’ do you mean?

            And given you’re accusing James of lying, ie, deliberately saying something he knows to be false, which is quite a serious accusation, you should probably provide something to justify that accusation, shouldn’t you?

          • But ‘hate speech’ is being extensively used, and people are suffering by being arrested and no-platformed and suspended from twitter.

            It’s a vague term (aren’t they always?) for which it is not clear
            -whether perception is all
            -whether malicious intent is not potentially omnipotent and unquestionable here because of the subjectivity of the whole thing.

            In other words, a dreadful development.

            And – worse – one where it is precisely those who have taken the trouble to research who are getting shut down.

            They are the very ones who call out ‘ad hominem’ as illegitimate in debate, so it is rich that they are now being done for it.

            When Nancy in the latter parts of TV ‘Little House’ couldn’t get her own way, she would always say ‘I knew it – you hate me – you all hate me’. This was and is a way of our identifying immature behaviour.

          • Christopher

            I suggest you also look up the Forstater case.
            Speech may be free, but can have consequences. Rightly.
            Would I be correct in assuming that if someone tweeted blasphemy, Twitter might be right to suspend their account?

          • Would I be correct in assuming that if someone tweeted blasphemy, Twitter might be right to suspend their account?

            Who cares what Twitter would or wouldn’t do? I don’t think we should be taking our moral lead from the terms of service of an American software company; do you really?

          • I totally agree. I have never advocated for free speech. I advocate strongly for free speech with clear exceptions.

            No – the trouble is that the things that get shut down look suspiciously like the things that expose the flaws in a fashionable stance. Worst is that it sometimes seems that the more researched things are, the more likely they are to be shut down. I have experienced that over a decade and a half. That is pure wrong, and I do not know how people dare – but all one can do is to go on exposing them and speaking plainly.

            I do not at all affirm your using phrases like ‘hate speech’ as though their meaning were self-evident.

          • I do not at all affirm your using phrases like ‘hate speech’ as though their meaning were self-evident.

            Penelope has clarified that by ‘hate speech’ she means ‘hateful speech’ but she has still not been explicit about which of the two possible meanings of ‘hateful’ she is using there; I invite her once again to do so.

          • Christopher

            I disagree. Most of the stuff which gets shut down* is un-researched invective and populist polemic.

            * for shut down read given a platform in Spiked, The Spectator, Breitbart, Unherd, The Telegraph, Times, Guardian, TalkRadio, blogs, FB, Twitter, Parler etc etc.

          • It was Christopher who set up Twitter as the moral arbiter, not I

            No, he didn’t. I don’t understand how you could read what was written and come to that conclusion; could you explain?

          • I could rehearse all the times my leaflets or placards have been taken away and/or police called, when the entire content is mainstream large scale research-based.

          • Christopher

            Why have they been taken away?
            Were they defamatory?
            Were they offensive?
            Were you disturbing the peace?


          • Why have they been taken away?
            Were they defamatory?
            Were they offensive?
            Were you disturbing the peace?

            It is not against the law to be offensive, nor should it be.

            (It is against the law to defame someone, or to disturb the peace, quite rightly. But it should never be illegal simply to offend.)

          • This reply merely illustrates the problems in this way of thinking.

            ‘Hateful’ can mean two quite different things – subjectively horrible, and full of hate (which cannot be said of another person whose mind and intentions one does not know: they may on the contrary be full of passion for what they quite rightly care about). So why is it being used as though it were a word whose meaning were clear?

            ‘Defamatory’ – define terms. For example: Men commit more murders than women. Does saying that defame men? No – the facts defame men. It is a very very serious thing indeed to try to stop people speaking facts, and immediately people do that, the spotlight falls on their intentions.

            ‘Offensive’ – how can you treat that as a clear word? And even insofar as it is a clear word, it is still a subjective word, which makes it useless if it’s trying to describe what is true in reality.

            ‘Disturbing the peace’ – are marchers for a cause disturbing the peace? Of course they are – and quite rightly, because they are speaking out against injustice. If there are thousands on a march doing so, and one leafleter doing so, which of the two is the more significant? Are either of them actually bad? If they are bad, then it is bad to stand up for justice and fairness. So it must be good to stand up for injustice and unfairness then.

            However, I have been heckled repeatedly (and worse) when saying and doing absolutely nothing (other than the silent demonstration and the factual contents of the leaflet). That said, people should not have to apologise for protesting in non-silent ways. The greater the injustice, the more they must speak out.

          • Christopher

            Yes, I know that hateful has two meanings.
            But you haven’t given any evidence of your claim of being de-platformed, police being called etc., you now say you were heckled. Isn’t that just something that happens when you protest publicly?

          • Heckled, assaulted, shopped to police repeatedly, you name it. How does the first exclude the others? No comprendo. And you know that these things are happening to Christians all over, just google street preachers.

            What sort of evidence am I supposed to give? Videos of the events over many years? The video would have been confiscated too.

            The things still happened and continue to happen whether or not it is on video. It is not as though I do anything other than speak the truth. I was frogmarched away from Synod Feb 2016, next door to my old school. All because I had quoted a succession of peer reviewed papers. Strong research – we can’t have that. Guards! Guards! The multiple ignorance of the case shown by the person who instigated that is detailed in WATTTC?. So ignorance is rewarded and informedness punished. But I would not emphasise that so much were it not par for the course, and had it not also taken place in Lambeth, Twickenham, Buckingham Palace Road, outside Parliament, north of Victoria, Finchley, Bloomsbury, and in other locations I have probably forgotten.

          • Yes, I know that hateful has two meanings.

            Well, good, as I keep having to explain it to you.

            But as you know, why do you continue to refuse to clarify which of the two meanings you are using in the phrase ‘hate speech is hateful speech’?

            Are you going to clarify now?

          • 10 reasons why ‘born gay’ does not stand up, with citation of the relevant literature.

            Now describe the tyranny that quashes peer reviewed information.

        • Still the wrong target S.

          I really don’t understand what you mean here. I’d ask what you mean by ‘target but clearly you intend to refuse to define any of the words you use, in order that you remain completely incomprehensible.

          I haven’t accused James of anything.

          You’ve accused him of lying, haven’t you? You wrote:

          ‘Accusing someone of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy is a very hateful thing to do. And a wicked lie.’

          What is that other than an accusation that he is lying? Wickedly lying, indeed.

          Reply
          • I haven’t accused James of anything.

            Ah, so you’re rescinding your claim that James ‘[a]ccusing [Andrew] of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy is […] a wicked lie’, are you?

            As well you should. Great.

          • S
            No I am not rescinding my claim that James accused Andrew of anything.
            I didn’t make any such claim. Nor did James.
            READ THE THREAD.

            If you read what I wrote and to whom, to which James responded, rather than making spiteful little claims about the probity of Exeter Diocese, all will become clear.

          • No I am not rescinding my claim that James accused Andrew of anything.
            I didn’t make any such claim. Nor did James.

            Ah, I’m sorry.

            So you’re rescinding your claim that Geoff ‘[a]ccusing [Andrew] of working to undermine Christian orthodoxy is […] a wicked lie’, are you?

            Great. About time.

            If you read what I wrote and to whom, to which James responded, rather than making spiteful little claims about the probity of Exeter Diocese

            Hey, I’m not the one who got the wool puled over my eyes and paid good money for a leaky, crumbling building.

          • READ THE THREAD.

            By the way, you still haven’t clarified which definition of ‘hateful’ you were using when you wrote ‘Hate speech is hateful speech, James’; could you clarify that please? Thank you.

          • S

            Good. You caught up.
            No, I’m not rescinding my comments to Geoff, nor do I need to justify my choice of words to James to you.
            Geoff’s accusation was hateful and false. That he sincerely believes it to be true is no defence.
            Look up the Forstater case.
            Buildings leak, whether modern or medieval. I was observing to James that modern buildings are not necessarily more fit for purpose than medieval ones. But you chose to misunderstand.

          • Geoff’s accusation was hateful and false.

            Again, which meaning of ‘hateful’ are you using here? Do you mean that reading his accusation disgusted you and caused you to hate him? In which case, fine, but why should anyone else cause about what are after all just your subjective feelings of disgust and hate?

            Or do you mean that it was motivated by hate In which case could you explain how you know what Geoff’s internal motivations are?

            Those are the two meanings of the word ‘hateful’; what you have written is ambiguous between them, so could you please clarify which you meant?

            That he sincerely believes it to be true is no defence.

            But it means it’s not a lie, which is what you said it was. Saying something you sincerely believe to be true, but are mistaken about, is not lying. So you should retract your accusation that it was a lie.

            Buildings leak, whether modern or medieval.

            Not if they’re properly built, they don’t, and if a company had a building built and it leaked, they would have a contract which required the builders to fix the problems. If the diocese had a building built and didn’t get such a contract, then they got done, didn’t they?

            And if they didn’t have the building built but bought it, then why did they not get a survey done? Or if they did, why did they not have a clause in the contract making the surveyors liable for missing such obvious problems?

            Either way, ending up with a leaky, crumbling building and no recourse seems careless and incompetent in the extreme.

          • S

            Intent is no excuse. I could say that Hitler didn’t intend to kill millions of Jews and sincerely believe it. It would still be a falsehood. And in certain contexts, actionable.

          • Intent is no excuse. I could say that Hitler didn’t intend to kill millions of Jews and sincerely believe it. It would still be a falsehood. And in certain contexts, actionable.

            So you think anyone who says something incorrect — whether or not they know it to be incorrect — is telling a lie?

            If a woman goes out and leaves her husband at home; and, later, unknown to her, he pops out to the shops; and while he’s out someone asks her where her husband is, and she replies (inaccurately, but correctly to the best of her knowledge) that he is at home; you think she is guilty of telling a lie?

            Seems crazy to me, but if that’s what you think, then that’s what you think.

          • Intent is no excuse. I could say that Hitler didn’t intend to kill millions of Jews and sincerely believe it. It would still be a falsehood. And in certain contexts, actionable.

            By the way, you still haven’t confirmed which meaning of ‘hatful’ you are using above. To help you, here are the two meanings of ‘hateful’ from the OED:

            ‘1. That arouses or provokes feelings of hatred; odious; detestable; repulsive. Later also in weakened use: horrible, very unpleasant. Frequently with to’

            ‘2. Full of hate; malevolent; malign. hateful of: filled with hatred towards or intense dislike of; hostile towards.’

            Please confirm which of those you mean when you describe what Geoff wrote as ‘hateful’ and which you mean when you write ‘hate speech is hateful speech’.

          • As usual, S can’t distinguish between opinion and fact

            Penelope clearly thinks it’s a fact, as you can’t lie about something other than a fact because to lie means to deliberately say something you know to be untrue, and ‘untruth’ can only apply to a thing which is factually false.

          • Well, Andrew, isn’t working to undermine triune orthodoxy (or however Geoff’s egregious claim was worded), so that’s factually false.

          • Well, Andrew, isn’t working to undermine triune orthodoxy (or however Geoff’s egregious claim was worded), so that’s factually false.

            That is the fact in dispute, certainly. You sincerely think it’s false. You might be wrong, of course.

            But let’s assume for the sake of argument that you are right.

            Now, you accused Geoff of lying. You claimed that it was a ‘wicked lie’. But a lie isn’t just saying something that is not correct. Otherwise anyone who ever gave a wrong answer in pub quiz would be a liar. And I assume even you can see that would be a ridiculous position. For it to be a lie, as opposed to just a mistake, the person must know that what they are saying is not the case and be intending to deceive people.

            (and for it to be a ‘wicked lie’, as opposed to just a normal lie, I’d say that in addition they must have particularly malicious intent; would you not agree?)

            If someone says something they believe to be true, that can’t be a lie. It could be a mistake; it could even be a slander. But it can’t be a lie.

            So, I think you should either retract your claim that Geoff was telling a ‘wicked lie’, or explain how you know that Geoff does not sincerely believe that what he wrote is correct.

          • Do you, S?

            I do, as saying someone has told a ‘wicked lie’ is quite a serious accusation, and when you have — as you have — absolutely no basis on which to make it, it ought to be followed by a retraction and an apology.

            It is, in fact, quite clearly defamatory.

      • Geoff My latest book ‘Love means Love’ explores this. Some brief (& edited) extracts from chap 3. “The precise words are – ‘for I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word.’ ‘Breaking forth’ suggests a dynamic energy at work that will not be hemmed in. ‘Yet more’ – there is always newness to be revealed out of what is already given. So the relationship of the faithful to the scriptures is to be always open and trusting. Our understanding is never exhausted, and in every time and place more will be breaking forth to guide the people of God in the challenges and questions they are facing.
        Professor Oliver O’Donovan puts it even more boldly. ‘We have to be alert to the possibility of doctrine being renewed out of scripture in a way that takes the church by surprise.’ [in ‘Marriage, Family and Relationships: Biblical, Doctrinal and Contemporary Perspectives’, Chapter 12, One man, one woman: The Christian doctrine of marriage. Apollos, 2017. A thoughtful collection of essays from a group of biblically conservative theologians].
        But are there any limits to where this newness might lead? There are those who argue that nothing can be accepted that goes beyond what scripture already teaches. In which case nothing is actually new. There is only the task of re-newing or re-discovering of what was already in the text.
        This approach is often accompanied by a belief that the Bible speaks with one voice and that one core meaning and teaching runs through it all. In ‘Having Words with God: the Bible as conversation’, Karl Allen Kuhn challenges this. Instead of being a monological, prescriptive text, he points out how much of the Bible is a dialogue. The Bible texts and writers are also in dialogue with each other [and God]. For example, with very few exceptions, the New Testament writers (and Jesus himself) never quote or allude to Old Testament texts without adapting or modifying them, literally and/or theologically (2008:8-10) (3). A continual theological dialogue is going on through which new understanding is explored. The fact that there are four gospels accounts (and extended discussions by letters) means that even Jesus’s own ministry and teaching is not captured in one clear text. ‘It is not only the words of scripture that matter (and they matter very much). The dynamic, on-going sacred dialogue that Scripture reflects and calls believers to take part in is equally essential to biblical faith’ (2008:16).”

        Reply
        • There are different ways to think of “more truth breaking forth” from the Bible. There could be the Spirit’s use of the Scriptures to make a summons to obedience to as particular individual, as Anthony believed when he heard the Gospel reading about following Christ and decided to take up an eremetical life in the Egyptian desert; or it could be Judge Russell’s claim to understand the true meaning of the Bible when he began the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Or Ellen White, when she claimed a revelation that led to the Seventh Day Adventists. Or Mary Baker Eddy’s experiences which led to Christian Science. Which of these notions do you think the Calvinist Pilgrim John Robinson had in mind? After all, enthusiastic “Spirit ” religion was very common in the 16th and 17th centuries. Luther even had a word for it (Schwaermerei).
          And how would you determine whether a particular interpretation of Scripture was right or wrong? If you reject the Witnesses or SDA or Christian Science, on what grounds do you do so?
          I’m sure you can see it’s a question of catholicity of biblical interpretation.

          Reply
          • James. ‘A question of catholicity’. Interesting way of putting it. Catholicity is not too evident in discussions here. But of course. This is why the discussion is important – and often conflicted . I have asked how folk here, like you, are open to new truth and understanding ‘breaking forth’ while guarding against relativity and subjectivism or, in your terms, ending up Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any takers? There seems great clarity about when others are falling into this trap. How do you know when you are in danger? This is a serious question. And it is really quite a leap from Calvinist Robinson to Christian Science! There is a lot of seriously biblical, non-calvinist faith in between. What of those who believed what was breaking forth was the conviction that slavery should be abolished and they must campaign against it? Or that women should be in full partnership with men in church and society?
            I offer this for discussion … and would welcome generous engagement.

          • What of those who believed what was breaking forth was the conviction that slavery should be abolished and they must campaign against it? Or that women should be in full partnership with men in church and society?

            Um, neither of those ‘broke forth’. From the early days of Christianity, Christians were notable for their including women in full partnership with men, in contrast to Roman society; and likewise the Christian attitude to slavery was in marked contrast to the Roman attitude.

            So neither of those are examples of new things breaking forth, but rather of things which were in Christianity from its very beginning.

            Try again.

      • But you’re not an evangelical (or even a historic catholic) in your desire to replace the Church’s historical teaching on the nature of Christian marriage, as an exclusive union between a man and a woman until death. You are a liberal, David , nurtured in evangelicalism like Brian McLaren, Dave Tomlinson, Rob Bell and Steve Chalke, but like them you have moved away from it. Just as I was raised a Roman Catholic but am so no longer. It would be disingenuous of me to call myself a Roman Catholic when I reject many Catholic beliefs. You are a post-evangelical, like Dave Tomlinson. We understand that, but you can’t bring yourself to admit this, as I am clear I am not a Roman Catholic. As for the John Robinson quote, many of us are familiar with it and think we know rather well what he meant. His problem was persecution by English bishops, something that has not gone away. He would have been astonished by any claim to discover affirmation of homosexual “marriage ” in the Bible.

        Reply
        • James

          Clearly David is an evangelical, as his recent book demonstrates, since he looks to Scripture for guidance, rather than the Church’s historical teaching on marriage. Which, as you must know, is not univocal.

          Reply
          • Clearly David is an evangelical

            I think the question of what label one applies to David Runcorn (or anyone, really; arguing over labels generally generates far more heat than light) is much less important than that he still hasn’t addressed the concern that he is dishonestly trying to use constructive ambiguity to paper over real differences and claim that mutually incompatible views on things like the authority of Scripture are in fact compatible.

          • That isn’t what “evangelical ” means, Penelope. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christadelphians make exactly the same claim.
            David is a post-evangelical, like Dave Tomlinson and Brian McLaren.

          • James You persist is attaching labels to me that I do not recognise. And labels close down. They also more often reflect prejudice. I understand you strongly disagree with me. It happens among Christians. I suspect I strongly disagree with you too on at least some issues – but since you have not shared your own convictions (as opposed to labelling mine) it is hard to know quite where and in what way we disagree. I am not here to be told what I think or believe by those who think they know me better. I am however completely open to being challenged about what I have said or written and to have that tested. That is how discussion works and why it is important. I have friends of more conservative and liberal theology than mine who offer me exactly that. I am very grateful. That would choose the word generous to describe these exchanges.

          • That isn’t what you think evangelical means James. Which, I’m afraid I don’t find very convincing since you seem unaware that the Church has had different traditions re marriage, as, indeed, She has and continues to have, re slavery, women’s orders, the death penalty, atonement, justification etc. etc.

          • That isn’t what you think evangelical means James

            If you must use a label, could you (and James) at least define what you mean by it? What do you each think are the necessary and sufficient properties for someone to be an ‘evangelical’?

            If you don’t both explicitly spell out what you mean by the term so we can see where you differ then a discussion about to whom it properly applies or doesn’t apply is not going to get anywhere useful.

          • Ask James. He knows what it means

            This only really works if you give yours and James gives his, so we can see where they differ.

            So what’s your definition of ‘evangelical’?

          • ‘Evangelical’: The main features are normally
            (1) supremacy of the Bible and/or its teaching/perspective;
            (2) preaching of the gospel;
            (3) importance of evangelism, mission, telling people;
            (4) importance of personal conversion and transformation.

          • I should have added under (2) some of the content of ‘the gospel’, namely that it is Cross-centred and features the atoning blood of Christ and (as Derek Prince would put it) ‘the Divine exchange’.

  11. Andrew,
    Are you related to Nicodemus? THE teacher of Israel, a member of the ruling counsel who couldn’t see, the Kingdom of God couldn’t understand, couldn’t enter it.
    It was a one -to-one encounter. He came in darkness.
    Did he remain in darkness, his mind, whole life occluded?
    Did he enter the light, the kingdom?
    Why? Or why not?
    Do tell us about your encounter with Jesus.

    Reply
  12. The call for the abolition of chattel slavery in the 19th century was not an instance of “new light breaking forth from the Scriptures”. The New Testament already made it plain that “douleia”, a multi- faceted phenomenon that overlapped but also differed in many ways from later slavery in the Americs, was not a good or desirable institution and if believers could gain their freedom, they should. Slavery had in any case disappeared from western Europe before chattel slavery was introduced to the New World (although the indigenous peoples there already practised it, so it wasn’t really an innovation in the Americas). Slaveholders did quote the Bible in support of the practice but they clearly didn’t read the New Testament properly. As for women in all levels of clerical leadership, the great majority of Christians in the world do not have this.
    David knows that the attempt to legitimise homosexual relationships is tearing the Protestant world apart. Thousands have left the Church of England to maintain Orthodox faith and practice and their departure has not been matched by new members from “the world “. Instead the Cof E lost another 3% of attendance last year and the average age of worshippers is now considerably higher than the nation at large. The closure of churches this year has only exacerbated the situation. Yet David advocates a heterodox belief that will only lead 700k people who still attend the C of E into further division and decline.
    As an Anglican priest myself, I implore him to read the Bible again in the catholic manner of the Anglican Reformers. Give up the agonising approach of liberalism which does recognise the Bible as God’s Word Written and come back to the evangelical convictions of Stott, Green and Packer. Give up the heterodoxy of Dave Tomlinson and the wasteland of Post-evangelicalism and return to catholic evangelicalism, which is the only sure way of reading the Scriptures right.

    Reply
    • That should say “atomising” – but “agonising ” is true as well.
      Reading the Bible for oneself and coming up with a new doctrine is the perennial Protestant temptation. That was the point of my references to the Jehovah’s Witnesses , the Seventh Day Adventists the Christadelphians and Christian Science: they have all done what David has done, read the Bible for themselves and come up with novel doctrines at variance with the history of Christian interpretation. Incidentally, those who prided themselves as having “New Light” included the New England Transcendentalists of the 19th century, who had a great following among the descendants of John Robinson’s Pilgrim people. Now the northeast of the USA is probably the least churches part of that nation.

      Reply
    • Well, you’ll all be orthodox (not Orthodox) with your thousands who have left the CoE.
      Good luck with your schismette.

      Reply
      • You left Roman Catholicism, Penelope, for a smaller body, and I presume you did so because you considered its teachings false in some way. I respect your conscience in your decision to turn your back on Rome.
        I imagine you would agree with me that truth isn’t decided by numbers, since Christians have always been a minority in the world, and our Lord admonished us this is how it would be until his return. Actually I haven’t left the Church of England in which I have been a member and priest for most of my life, and I remain a resolute evangelical Anglican in fellowship with the great majority of global Anglicanism. So it’s not exactly a “schismette”. But I will say that if it comes to it, it will not be difficult to leave the bewildered mess the Church of England has become under Welby and Sentamu and his successor. The bottom line for me is simply our buildings in which I and others have invested much money and countless hours of maintenance. If we could leave tomorrow in secure possession of the buildings, most of us would jump at the chance. If you have followed the death throes of the American Episcopal Church, you will know that that is the only road block to a quick resolution there: endless legal battles over properties. The new Anglican fellowships in Britain have simply walked away and started afresh, as over 500 did this summer in Hull.
        For me, it would be a great relief to get away from the repeated episcopal failures and cover ups over sexual abuse, the endless efforts to change the biblical doctrine of marriage- and now the pantheist idiocies of an Olivia Graham. A church that focused on living and proclaiming the Gospel of Christ is a much more appealing thing to me.

        Reply
        • It is interesting that GAFCON UK have found they have not grown, and have now had to make their only member of staff redundant. I’m not at all convinced that this type of evangelicalism will ever really find more than a handful of churches willing to sign up. Hull will always be an exception.

          Reply
        • James

          I agree that there is much wrong in the CoE. The sexual and physical abuse scandals and the cover ups are sickening. As is the CoE’s position on equal marriage. The TEC and the Scottish Episcopal church have been truly prophetic on that issue. I think abuse, homophobia and sacral used misogyny are far more grebious than the Bishop of Reading’s pantheism.
          I stay because I hope for better things and because the Anglican position on sexuality, gender and women is, in the main, far better than that of Roman Catholicism. I admire people who stay and people who leave because their conscience promots them to. But Gafcon, AiME etc. are still tiny schismettes.
          I am surprised you want to keep your church though, I thought they were mediaeval millstones?

          Reply
          • Not our buildings- very modern and expanded and I’ve personally given a LOT of money and time to their development, decorations and upkeep.
            I love old buildings but have no desire to maintain them or use them.
            As for the Scottish Episcopal Church: it will be extinct in 15 years. Usual Sunday attendance (pre-pandemic) was under 15,000 and the average age is 60+.

          • It looks like I exaggerated the size of SEC. Attendance was down to under 13,000 in 2017 and since then its three largest congregations have left, as well as several others. Death may come sooner than expected.

          • James

            One of the costliest church buildings to maintain in the Exeter Diocese is a modern concrete structure. It will crumble long before its Mediaeval siblings.

          • One of the costliest church buildings to maintain in the Exeter Diocese is a modern concrete structure

            By ‘modern’ there do you actually mean ‘horrible sixties Crippsian awfulism’?

            Because that was probably the nadir of architecture, and a lot of things built since then are significantly better, both aesthetically and materially.

          • Not in St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. Like many Cathedrals, it’s flourishing.

            Is a denomination which is reduced to a single church still a denomination?

          • No, S, I don’t. It’s a lovely building and has great meeting rooms. But it leaks and has all sorts of problems.

          • No, S, I don’t. It’s a lovely building and has great meeting rooms. But it leaks and has all sorts of problems.

            And in which decade was it built?

          • This is worth a read – from the Sunday Observer which hardly ever references things church at all. Amazing story of the transformation of millstones into mission.

            And how many souls have they saved? Approximately none, I’d guess?

          • Clearly the ‘saving of souls’, an entirely unbiblical concept takes precedence over feeding the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison.
            Suggest you read the scriptures, S.

          • Clearly the ‘saving of souls’, an entirely unbiblical concept takes precedence over feeding the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison.

            Well, I’m just glad you’re explicit that you don’t want the Church to save souls.

            Though in that case there doesn’t seems to be much point in it existing, and you might as well merge with the social services if that’s all you think the church is for.

          • I certainly don’t want the church to ‘save souls’. Horrid neo-platonic idea. Thoroughly un biblical.

          • I certainly don’t want the church to ‘save souls’.

            You heard it here folks. Penelope wants souls to remain lost.

          • Penelope. Greetings. ‘Saving souls’ is not everyone’s way of talking about Christian conversion/evangelism. There are many others. What is your preferred way of speaking of ‘becoming a Christian’?
            [Just in passing – I do not engage on social media or discussion threads with people who post anonymously]

          • Just in passing – I do not engage on social media or discussion threads with people who post anonymously

            That must be convenient for you when you want to avoid answering awkward questions.

          • Hello David
            For once, I agree with Tom Wright on this. The language of disembodied souls and heaven as a place is non scriptural.
            Ironically, given the fuss over the Bishop of Reading’s interview, I see salvation/redemption as a more cosmic process/event. 2Cor 5.17ff; Rom 8.21ff.
            The good news is that Christ has saved us from the futility of death and that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
            Saving souls language,as well as being unbiblical, is also transactional/contractual: it makes the incarnation and resurrection dependent on correct response/belief/behaviour.

          • A soul is, broadly, a person. How would you phrase what salvation is all about if it is not about saving souls. Worse, if saving souls is hateful?

          • David

            And ‘saving souls’ was very much a part of my childhood RC faith, which had a certain contractual/pelagian tendency.
            It still comes to be current in some parts of RCism, especially that at odds with the current Pope.

  13. GAFCON UK hasn’t had much idea about fundraising. But you will know that many, many redundancies are in the offing in C of E dioceses, especially in Cottrell’s former diocese and if/when the dust settles from this pandemic, the economic devastation across the C of E will be immense. Look for many hundreds of rural churches to be closed and posts scrapped. I am sure you will find this in Exeter as well. The church that emerges from this mess will be free from the albatross of medieval buildings and expensive bureaucracies.

    Reply
    • Andrew Godsall and Penelope evidently misunderstood or misconstrued what I said.
      I was not denying that Roman Catholics are Christians, that would be absurd.
      I was drawing attention to the comparative growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain (fuelled by Polish immigration I am sure), such that for about 13 years now, the number of Roman Catholic churchgoers has exceeded the number of Anglicans in church. This rather undermines the claim of the Church of England to speak for England.
      My larger claim that Britain is probably majority non-Christian now still stands. What if anything, is the Church of England doing to bring the Gospel of Christ to Muslims and Hindus?
      As for “saving souls”, this is perfectly Biblical language, used by our Lord and his Apostles ( as a glance at a concordance will show) and no Christian should be embarrassed to use the language used by the One who called God his Father (and Mary his mother).

      Reply
      • James

        Sorry, I missed this and replied about RC growth below.

        As far as I can see ‘saving souls’ is not biblical thought or language and occurs only in James and 1 Peter.

        Reply
        • As far as I can see ‘saving souls’ is not biblical thought or language and occurs only in James and 1 Peter.

          Um, last I looked James and 1 Peter were in the Bible, so if it appears there then it is Biblical language, isn’t it?

          Reply
          • But I have given papers on that very topic.

            You speak from 100% assurance – which, as you will agree, misrepresents the situation – consequently, you will need to start again. Percentage likelihoods is, rather, what we are looking at.

            It is immaterial anyway, since the letters cannot date from a very different time from that. There is a complex but I think compelling argument that they cannot date from later than Matt (i.e. 85-90). Note that all these dates are interconnected.

            I agree that (assuming James did die in 62 and not later – and the evidence is again complex) some of the material in the later dates from after 62. And it dates from after 1 Peter too. The fullest attempts to get a compelling Sitz im Leben for 1 Peter tend to go for 65 or so, during Peter’s life (but Silas who could write Greek well largely did the wording) – at the very specific moment when the Rome persecution was slated to extend to the very Christian territory of Turkey, where John was to feel its brunt. James is very disjointed (an odd scenario on any showing) so looks like collected sayings – but supplemented from after his death. Bauckham’s treatment of it is superb. I date it 70 (there are many dating factors) but am open to persuasion.

  14. I don’t there will be many many redundancies. That’s very hard to do with clergy terms of service, even if the powers that be actually wanted to do that. It would cost far too much. Better to wait until retirements enable numbers to reduce naturally – which is going to happen.

    The Church of England can’t walk away from expensive medieval buildings, even if it wanted to. . What happens when bits start to fall off them? The church will still be liable, unless it sells them. And have you tried selling a medieval church with a graveyard? It isn’t easy and won’t fetch that much money.

    Gafcon or other similar groupings won’t ever really work here. That kind of approach just isn’t in the English psyche. Compromise will always be found.

    Reply
    • Well, you admit what I said would happen – continued reductions in clergy numbers. I see diocesan staff positions being axed and whole dioceses in the north of England being merged – as has already happened. Colchester will leave many posts unfilled and force parish mergers. The job will become impossible and decline will continue. In fact, Ian Paul has often observed that unfilled posts leads to long term decline. And given the age of those churchgoers and anxiety deepened by the pandemic, how can you seriously se this turning around?
      As for medieval churches, probably the only answer is to give them to the state or the National Trust. They are not really viable.
      I won’t second guess the “English psyche”. The country is now majority non-Christian with large communities of Musilms and Roman Catholics. This isn’t 1950 any more.

      Reply
      • I shouldn’t imagine for one moment that the National Trust wants, or has the resources, to take over hundreds of mediaeval buildings, especially those which were comprehensively restored by the Victorians.

        Perhaps we should return to biblical models of ministry. Didn’t Paul, Prisca and Aquila work?

        Reply
          • “ The country is now majority non-Christian with large communities of Musilms and Roman Catholics. “

            Yes, that was an extraordinary statement of James’ – amongst his many extraordinary statements. Of course Roman Catholics are Christian. By far the largest Christian grouping in the world.

          • To be clear S, can you tells us if is it your view that Roman Catholics by definition, cannot be Christians or that Roman Catholicism (as a systems of beliefs) cannot be Christian?

            Conversely, is Protestantism (as a system of beliefs) by definition, always Christian or do you consider there exist Protestants (with their myriad number of denominations) who cannot be Christian?

            So what do you consider to be the fundamental benchmark?

          • To be clear S, can you tells us if is it your view that Roman Catholics by definition, cannot be Christians or that Roman Catholicism (as a systems of beliefs) cannot be Christian?

            I am sure that some Roman Catholics are Christians. Just as some Anglicans are Christians, some Methodists are Christians, some Baptists, and some Presbyterians.

            But what I want to know is, as Andrew is usually so hot on the distinction between facts and opinions — and keeps accusing me of confusing facts and opinions — whether he thinks that ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’ is a matter of fact or an opinion.

          • “The country is now majority non-Christian with large communities of Muslims and Roman Catholics”.

            My question was rhetorical S.

          • We had this discussion before S. it wasn’t fruitful then and I see no reason why it would be now. My answer hasn’t changed. It was to a large extent impossible because of your confusion between opinion and fact. Even here you can’t answer Chris Bishop when he asks about fundamental benchmark.

            I agree with David Runcorn in his view that it is not possible to have fruitful discussion with those who wish to remain anonymous or post under a pseudonym.

          • My answer hasn’t changed. It was to a large extent impossible because of your confusion between opinion and fact.

            So to help me overcome my conclusion, could you tell me definitively whether the statement:

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion?

            Because you’re right, I’m very confused as to which you think it is and it would be very helpful if you could reply in just one word, either ‘fact’ or ‘opinion’, to let me know once and for all which it is.

          • Whatever else Roman Catholics are, they are certainly not to be generalised about as they now are being! They are a billion people or so. How is it meaningful to generalise about such a large number of people?

          • As James said: “I was not denying that Roman Catholics are Christians, that would be absurd.”
            To say that Roman Catholics are not Christians would be absurd.

          • The only person I have heard suggesting it isn’t fact is you S.

            So you’re saying that

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            is a claim about a real fact, ie, it’s something that is either objectively right or wrong, and not at all a matter of opinion?

            Just to be absolutely clear

          • Just to be absolutely clear S, how about trying this O level multiple choice question:

            Which of the five major world religions does Roman Catholic Church belong to:

            A Judaism
            B Buddhism
            C Sikhism
            D Christianity
            E Islam

            You may choose any one answer.

          • Just to be absolutely clear S, how about trying this O level multiple choice question:

            No no no, I’m not interested in whether you think

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            is true or false, what I what to know is what type of statement you think it is on an ontological level.

            Is it a statement of an objective fact, whose truth or falsehood is an objective reality — something like the statement ‘the Earth orbits the sun’?

            Or is it a statement of opinion, with only a subjective basis, and no real objective truth or falsehood — something like the statement ‘braeburns are the nicest apples’?

            I mean, you keep complaining that I cannot tell the difference between a statement of fact and a statement of opinion, so I would like you to help me so that I can understand what the difference is?

          • It’s really easy. If it were a matter of opinion then more than one of those options would work. They don’t. There is only one possible option isn’t there? Or do you think several of those are possible options? If you do, I can’t help you. But you can then do some basic research. It isn’t very hard on this matter.

          • It’s really easy. If it were a matter of opinion then more than one of those options would work.

            So you’re saying that it’s a matter of fact because only one answer can be true? That makes sense. It ties in with, for example, the statement ‘the sun orbits the Earth’ as being a statement about a fact because it can’t both be true and not be true, as a matter of opinion could.

            But now I am confused. Because previously you claimed that whether or not the mass was a superstitious nonsense was a matter of opinion, not fact. See for example:

            https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/bishops-should-throw-away-their-mitres/#comment-382324

            But if we phrase that as a multiple-choice question:

            ‘Is the mass a superstitious nonsense?

            (a) Yes
            (b) No’

            then only one of those can work, can’t it? I mean it either is a superstitious nonsense or it isn’t. It can’t both be and not be a superstitious nonsense.

            So what is the difference between:

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            and

            ‘The mass is not a superstitious nonsense’

            that makes one a statement about a fact and one a statement about an opinion?

            So you’re right. I am very confused about what things are matters of fact and what are matters of opinion. Could you help me by explaining why the you think whether Roman Catholics are Christians is a matter of fact, but whether the mass is a superstitious nonsense is a matter of opinion?

            What is the relevant difference between those two topics that makes on a question of fact and the other a matter of opinion?

          • That’s also terribly easy isn’t it. One is a matter of interpretation, and one isn’t. People interpret the mass in different ways, and that is well known. People don’t interpret the question of which of the world religions Roman Catholicism belongs to in different ways. There is only one possible answer.

          • Yes, but you are saying there is only one question here (or: one question that you have so far thought of), whereas even a moment’s thought tells us there are at least two. ‘Does Roman Catholic define as a subset of Christian?’ gets the answer Yes. ‘Does calling yourself RC [or Baptist, or…] mean that you are in fact a Christian?’ gets the answer No. Any of us could call ourselves a fish.

          • Well yes Christopher, of course. Hence Chris Bishop was asking S “So what do you consider to be the fundamental benchmark?”. S never answered. As I pointed out. So it’s really a bit of nonsense. But it may perhaps help S understand the difference between fact and opinion.

            And as Penny rightly remarks, a fundamental benchmark is baptism. Whether any of us live up to our calling is another matter. My view is that none of us do. But our God is one of grace.

          • That’s also terribly easy isn’t it. One is a matter of interpretation, and one isn’t. People interpret the mass in different ways, and that is well known. People don’t interpret the question of which of the world religions Roman Catholicism belongs to in different ways. There is only one possible answer.

            Actually people do interpret the question of what it means to be a Christian in different ways. For instance, Penelope writes:

            ‘Anyone who is baptised is a Christian.’

            but the Baptists (and a number of other deonominations) would disagree with her: they would say that people who were baptised as infants are not in fact Christians, unless they are baptised again as adults.

            So the question of who is a Christian is in fact interpreted by different people in different ways. So I ask you again: what is the difference between the two, that one is question of fact and the other a question of opinion?

          • S that was not your question. Your question of fact was whether Roman Catholic’s were Christian. That is fact, and if you wish to say they belong to another world religion or are not Christian at all then bring some evidence.

            Of course different churches place different emphases on baptism of children or adult. That is a different question and is to do with interpretation. But even baptists consider Roman Catholics to be Christian.

          • S that was not your question. Your question of fact was whether Roman Catholic’s were Christian. That is fact, and if you wish to say they belong to another world religion or are not Christian at all then bring some evidence.

            My question is, what is the difference between the things you say are questions of fact and the things you say are matters of opinion. You claim that the difference is that matters of opinion are subject to interpretation, and matters of fact aren’t.

            But the question of whether (all) Roman Catholics are Christians clearly does come down to a question of how one interprets what it means to be a Christian. If you interpret it to mean someone who has been baptised as an adult — an interpretation I don’t personally hold, but a lot of people do — then celearly there are a lot of Roman Catholics who are not, in that interpretation, Christians.

            So you claim that the distinction between questions of fact and matters of opinion is whether the question is subject to interpretation does not, in this case, stack up, as both questions are subject to interpretation.

            Care to try again at providing a distinction? One that actually works this time?

          • I’ve no need to try again S. Do some resarch and provide evidence that Roman Catholics are not Christian. No one else here is confused.

          • I’ve no need to try again S. Do some resarch and provide evidence that Roman Catholics are not Christian. No one else here is confused.

            You really struggle with logic, don’t you? Here, I’ll lay it out for you:

            1. Many Roman Catholics were baptised as infants and not baptised as adults.

            2. (a) A Christian is someone who was baptised as an adult.
            2. (b) A Christian is someone who has been baptised, regardless of whether it was as an infant or as an adult.

            3. Therefore, many Roman Catholics are not Christians.

            Premise 1. is a fact I don’t think even you would deny (would you)?

            Premise 2. (a) and 2. (b) are different interpretations of what it means to be a Christian. Each is held by lots of people.

            The truth of Conclusion 3. therefore depends on which of Premise 2. (a) and 2. (b) you hold. If you hold premise 2 (a) then you must believe Conclusion 3. to be true. If you hold premise 2. (b) then you believe conclusion 3. to be false.

            So clearly, the truth or falsehood of the statement:

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            depends on interpretation.

            So your claim that the distinction between a question of fact like:

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’

            and a matter of opinion like

            ‘the mass is superstition nonsense’

            is that one depends on interpretation but the other doesn’t, can be seen to be nonsense because in fact both depend on interpretation.

            So I repeat: would you like to try again?

          • Ah I see S. you are a relativist.
            You are struggling here and I have tried to help.
            There are of course people who claim RCs are not Christian. Just as there are people who claim we live on a flat earth.

            Go and do some research about Roman Catholicism, and then come back and tell us what you discover. Then you will be able to answer the multiple choice question about which world faith Roman Catholics belong to. I’m surprised you don’t know the answer as everyone else here does and have told you. So, I am not alone in the view I have put forward. James, Christopher, Penny….all say the same.

          • Anyone who is baptised is a Christian??

            That makes something local and small-scale (ritual and custom) the bottom line – rather than something cosmic, which would naturally seem to be the stronger candidate….

            So people who are baptised and reject Christianity have to suffer being told by you they are Christians?

            People who hold a different worldview have to be Christians whether they like it or not?

            People who say ‘I was only a baby, so what say did I have’ are firmly told to be quiet?

            People who don’t know the first thing about anything Christian but were ‘done’ as a baby (or they imagine they must have been, they are a bit vague about it) are forced to identify themselves thus?

            5 objections therefore.

          • So,
            Baptism is local and not cosmic?
            Only adult baptism is ‘valid’?
            People are being ‘forced’ to ‘identify’ as Christians?
            Baptism, like circumcision, is the identifier.
            You can choose to be a good Jew/Christian or a bad one. An observant one or a lapsed/atheist one.

          • Yes, people are forced to identify as Christians, and by you. On the basis of an event of cosmic implications in which they may have had no say. This is also the flaw in Rahner’s ‘anonymous Christians’. People cannot escape the classification ‘Christian’ even if they wish to, believe the precise opposite of what Christians believe, think Jesus never existed etc etc.. They are still told by you that they have to be called Christians, however lapsed. ‘But I don’t want to be, nor (secondly) is it accurate’, they say.

            Jew is an ethnic marker, Christian is not.

          • Ah I see S. you are a relativist.

            How rude of you. I am nothing of the sort.

            You are struggling here and I have tried to help.

            You seem to be the one struggling with basic logic, but help is always appreciated.

            There are of course people who claim RCs are not Christian. Just as there are people who claim we live on a flat earth.

            Is whether we live on a flat earth a question of fact or a matter of opinion?

            Go and do some research about Roman Catholicism, and then come back and tell us what you discover. Then you will be able to answer the multiple choice question about which world faith Roman Catholics belong to. I’m surprised you don’t know the answer as everyone else here does and have told you. So, I am not alone in the view I have put forward. James, Christopher, Penny….all say the same.

            Yes, I know lots of people agree with you. But other people don’t. The point at issue isn’t who agrees with you or doesn’t, or even whether you are right or wrong, it’s what kind of question this is.

            You seem to be unable to separate what you think the answer to the question is from the nature of the question. Is this just a flaw in your thinking? You are simply unable to engage with things at a conceptual level? Have you never studied logic? Read and engaged with Wittgenstein or Kant? Or Thomas Aquinas, even?

          • Are you not able to intellectually grasp what it was the logical positivists were claiming, and exactly why it was nonsense?

          • S. You are making such heavy weather of all of this. The question is ever so simple and is just fact – not opinion at all. Let me ask it again. There is only one answer. The key is to answer the exact question and not one of your own imagining.

            Which of the five major world religions does the Roman Catholic Church belong to:

            A Judaism
            B Buddhism
            C Sikhism
            D Christianity
            E Islam

            Note: I am not asking about Roman Catholics but the Roman Catholic Church.

          • Here is a further question of fact – not opinion – for you to try your intellect on S. Have a go.

            Geza Vermes was awarded a Doctorate of Theology. Is this statement:
            A. True
            B. False

          • Vermes: All kinds of people have been awarded Doctorates in Philosophy. Most of whom know very little of Philosophy.

          • Penny, you are saying there are atheist Christians, ‘Christians’ who would rather walk the planet backwards than be identified as Christian, etc etc. Does anyone agree?

          • The question is ever so simple and is just fact – not opinion at all.

            You keep making this assertion, but repeated assertion is not argument. You have provided no reasoning to support your assertion that this is ‘a fact’.

            When asked what is the difference between this, which you regard as a question of fact, and something else that you have been equally clear is a matter of opinion, you responded that the difference was that the matter of opinion involved ‘interpretation’ whereas the question of fact did not.

            But as I have shown, evaluating the proposition:

            ‘Romans Catholics are Christians’

            does involve interpretation, because the answer is different depending on what the interpretation one uses of what it means to ‘be a Christian’.

            So could you please defend your assertion that this ‘is a fact’, as opposed to a matter of opinion, with some actual valid reasoning instead of simply asserting that it is a fact over and over again?

          • S you do make me laugh! You struggle to even read what is written.
            I am not making an assertion. I am asking you a question. Please note the exact wording, and not what you think the wording is.

            Which of the five major world religions does the Roman Catholic Church belong to:

            I gave you a multiple choice even.

            So do have a shot at it at least.

            I note that you found my second question too difficult as well. So, nil point so far, but third time lucky, hey?

            Hope you are having a super Saturday!

          • S you do make me laugh! You struggle to even read what is written.
            I am not making an assertion. I am asking you a question.

            ‘The question is ever so simple and is just fact – not opinion at all.’

            That is clearly an assertion. In fact it’s two assertions:

            Assertion 1: The question is ever so simple.
            Assertion 2: The question is just fact — not opinion at all.

            I am ignoring assertion 1 and asking what your basis is for assertion 2.

            Which of the five major world religions does the Roman Catholic Church belong to:

            The statement you claimed was a question of fact was:

            ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’.

            (see for example https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/bishop-bill-love-tec-and-same-sex-marriage-in-the-church/comment-page-1/#comment-386822 )

            Nothing there about the Roman catholic church. Please stick to the actual subject of discussion and don’t try to move the goalposts by brining in the Roman catholic church.

            I note that you found my second question too difficult as well. So, nil point so far, but third time lucky, hey?

            Oh, Vermes? Yes, he was awarded a doctorate in theology. He still wasn’t a theologian, though.

          • Again as you seem to have difficulty grasping the most elementary aspects of logic:

            The point at issue is not whether Roman Catholics are Christians or not.

            The point at issue is whether the claim ‘Roman Catholics are Christians’ is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.

        • I wasn’t denying that. I was drawing attention to the relative growth in Roman Catholicism in Britain, such that for over 13 years now, it has surpassed Anglicanism in church attendance. The context of my comment was the decline of the Church of England.

          Reply
          • James: I take ecumenism to mean that it doesn’t really matter which denominations decline or grow. They are all populated by human beings who are the same whichever denomination they belong to.

          • James: I take ecumenism to mean that it doesn’t really matter which denominations decline or grow. They are all populated by human beings who are the same whichever denomination they belong to.

            Do you mind if the total of members of all denominations (rather than the shares between them) declines or grows? Or does your ‘ecumenism’ extend to syncretism: all religions are populated by human beings who are the same whichever religion they belong to — or even if they belong to no religion at all?

  15. Well I hope you now understand that I was NOT saying that Roman Catholics are not Christians, I was saying that Britain as a whole is becoming non-Christian, while the Roman Catholic Church is surpassing Anglicanism and the number of Muslims has grown. These facts undermine Establishment but I’m not greatly bothered by that. I hope Exeter diocese has a strategy for bringing the Gospel to Muslims and Hindus, as well as the indigenous community.
    Sadly, I don’t get the impression that the hierarchy of the Church of England is interested in the conversion of people to faith in Christ, but we continue in our local way through faith sharing and Alpha.

    Reply
    • My comment was tongue in cheek.
      But I think the growth in RC attendance is due to immigration rather than evangelism

      Reply
    • James. ‘Sadly, I don’t get the impression that the hierarchy of the Church of England is interested in the conversion of people to faith in Christ.’ Well I think this is complete nonsense and unsupported by any evidence. I would not have felt the pressure I did as a ddo in recent years to prioritise gifts and priorities around areas of mission and leadership and pioneer ministry of this was a church without interest in evangelism.

      Reply
      • I wasn’t talking about DDOs, I was referring to the public utterances of Anglican bishops who have a lot to say on Brexit and what they think of it or on climate change and its causes – or the bizarre beliefs of an Olivia Graham – but had NOTHING to say on the extension of abortion on demand to Northrn Ireland and never speak up to defend Christians driven out of their jobs in teaching or nursing because someone takes offence at their expression of faith. You can tell a lot from people’s silences as well as their words.
        It’s a fact that Anglican church attendance fell 3% last year and every other metric shows decline as well, while the Church of England continues to age. As Welby and Cottrell place more liberal bishops and attempt to control appointments to blunt opposition to changes in the doctrine of marriage, I think more congregations will follow the lead of St John’s in Hull. What happens in All Souls will be interesting.

        Reply
        • I think very few church congregations will follow Hull. Those that have already done so have pretty much disappeared. The So called Anglican Mission in England numbers about 20 congregations well after it was founded. Gafcon UK is disappearing. But all we can do is wish those who feel the need to leave well, as we did with those who felt they had to leave over the ordination of women. They go with our prayers is the message we would want to communicate isn’t it? We are glad they find another community to go to.

          Reply
        • Since Bishops sit in the House of Lords we should expect them to speak on climate change and Brexit. Indeed, even if they did not sit in the Upper House, we might expect them to comment on issues such ss the destruction of the planet and trade deals which could make us poorer.
          Taking offence at people’s expression of faith is an alt-right myth. There is usually some reason why people are dismissed other than a simple ‘expression of faith’.
          Some have been trying to blackmail the CoE for years, threatening to take their large congregations and monies, but holding back because stipends and pensions. Ironically, they are often the congregations who don’t pay the common fund anyway, because the CoE is heretical, or apostate, or…..

          Reply
          • Since Bishops sit in the House of Lords we should expect them to speak on climate change and Brexit.

            Should we not expect them to speak on abortion law?

            Indeed, even if they did not sit in the Upper House, we might expect them to comment on issues such ss the destruction of the planet and trade deals which could make us poorer.

            Why? Unless they are politicians, or climate scientists, or trade experts, or economists, what could they possibly have to add to the debate on those matters? What could they possibly have to say which is worth hearing?

            The only place where they might have something to contribute to the public debate is on matters of morality — and it is on those matters where they are conspicuously silent.

            There is usually some reason why people are dismissed other than a simple ‘expression of faith’.

            It’s always easy to trump up reasons, if you want to get rid of someone. That doesn’t change the fact that the motivation at the heart of the dismissal is because the person has said something deemed unacceptable by the Zeitgeist.

          • So climate change and international treaties and poverty are not moral issues?

            And, in answer to you and Christopher and James, the Bishops did speak on one of your favourite topics – equal marriage – and were against the legislation. Not very zeitgeisty.

          • So climate change and international treaties and poverty are not moral issues?

            Nope. Climate change is a scientific issue. International treaties and poverty are economic issues.

            And, in answer to you and Christopher and James, the Bishops did speak on one of your favourite topics – equal marriage – and were against the legislation. Not very zeitgeisty.

            Did they? I don’t remember them doing that and I can’t find any record of them having done so. If they did it must have been very quietly. Can you point to a record of their statement opposing the legislation (in 2102, presumably)? As a group, that is, rather than, say, a individual bishop’s statement in Hansard.

            I would also not they have not spoken out against the government’s currently-active plans to streamline the procedures of divorce, despite having lots of opportunity to do so.

          • It is deliberate policy to use the term ‘equal marriage’ when to my certain knowledge the equality (misattributed equality in this case, because we are not talking about two inborn states, let alone about two inborn states equally fitted to sexual union) applies only to two categories of people. The word ‘equal’ means ‘equal for all’. No polyamorous marriage, no polygamy, no interspecies, no intergenerational, no marriage to oneself was covered. One single category of people had their position change.

            But of course, as in the term ‘Pride’, that category is the one that subsumes all the others, the only one that really matters.

          • Christopher

            Of course it is deliberate. The term same-sex marriage implies that there is something called opposite-sex marriage. There isn’t. There is simply marriage.

          • The term same-sex marriage implies that there is something called opposite-sex marriage.

            No it doesn’t, any more than the term seahorse implies that there is something called a landhorse.

          • S

            Of course climate change is a moral issue, especially since it is ‘man made’. It will affect the poorest communities most and will degrade God’s wonderful creation – which seems pretty immoral to me.

            The Bishops in the HoL – which of course is not all bishops – spoke and voted against the Same-sex marriage bill. I have the records somewhere, but they should be easy to look up.

          • Of course climate change is a moral issue, especially since it is ‘man made’. It will affect the poorest communities most and will degrade God’s wonderful creation – which seems pretty immoral to me.

            No, it isn’t a moral issue. It is a scientific issue, because the only issue is how we continue to general enough energy to run our society — a society which, I might add, has raised the vast majority of people on the globe out of poverty — while dealing with the changing climate.

            That is a scientific (and, depending on how you draw the lines, engineering) challenge. There are no moral decisions to make or questions to answer, only engineering challenges to be overcome to enable use to continue raising the living standards of everyone in the world.

            The Bishops in the HoL – which of course is not all bishops – spoke and voted against the Same-sex marriage bill. I have the records somewhere, but they should be easy to look up.

            I wonder then why the have lost their nerve and stayed silent on the current government’s divorce reform plans.

          • How does the weakness of the term ‘same-sex marriage’ remove the several weaknesses and dishonesties of the term ‘equal marriage’?

          • I should imagine because divorce reform is a Good Thing.

            Lots of moral questions on climate change. Are you prepared to compromise your lifestyle to mitigate climate change?

          • I should imagine because divorce reform is a Good Thing.

            It really isn’t though. Making divorce easier? Turing marriage into a contract which can be dissolved at will by either party, with the other getting no say? It’s totally immoral, and you would expect the bishops of the Church of England to be in the vanguard of opposing it yet they remain silent. Why?

            (Of course the reason why is obvious: it’s because the Church of England has been totally embraced the sexually promiscuous society. Why it even includes the kind of depraved people who would think that one-night stands can be moral.)

            Lots of moral questions on climate change.

            Not really.

            Are you prepared to compromise your lifestyle to mitigate climate change?

            Mitigating the effects of climate change while maintaining our lifestyles is a scientific and engineering challenge, not a moral one.

          • Nonsense, S, making divorce painful, messy and expensive does not make it moral. Nor do you have any idea why the Bishops in the HoL haven’t spoken about divorce reform (if they haven’t, I haven’t checked). It’s certainly nothing to do with them embracing the mores of a promiscuous society!

            Of course changing our lifestyles to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on the earth and its people involves moral choices. Read Deuteronomy, read St Paul. Morality is not just what people do with their genitals.

          • Nonsense, S, making divorce painful, messy and expensive does not make it moral.

            Nothing can make divorce moral. It’s fundamentally immoral and nothing can change that. It may occasionally, in a fallen world, in extreme circumstances, be necessary (eg to separate legally from an abusive partner) but it should never be easy or painless or common. And it should absolutely never be fault-free: if a divorce becomes necessary (eg to escape an abusive spouse) then someone is at fault (ie the abusive spouse).

            Of course changing our lifestyles to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on the earth and its people involves moral choices.

            The point is that the scientific and engineering challenge is to find ways of mitigating the effects of the changing climate without changing our lifestyles. Changing our lifestyles is unnecessary, provided the scientific and engineering challenges of maintaining them amid a changing climate can be overcome, and that ought to be our goal.

            Hence dealing with climate change is a scientific and engineering issue, not a moral one.

          • The irony of Christians demanding that gay people abandon their lifestyles, even when they are living in Holy matrimony, but seeing no need to amend their own lifestyles in order to save God’s earth and His people.

          • Things that do not add up in what you say:

            ‘D reform’ is not one thing but very many things, depending on what the specific proposals are.

            Secondly, to use the word ‘reform’ prejudges the key issue of whether something actually *is* a good thing, which prejudgement is either unintelligent or sneakily immoral.

            Thirdly, the present proposals (which are pure hell) are analysed by me in an Anglican Mainstream article, where several points are made that require consideration.

            For people to spend time thinking and talking about such hellish things as though they are just part of normality rather than unspeakable shows their eyes are set on something wrong.

          • Climate change a moral issue? It is one of the most moral issues imaginable – in the top 2 or 3.

  16. James. Oh. When you spoke about ‘ the conversion of people to faith in Christ’ it was, I think, a natural assumption you meant mission and evangelism – not abortion, Brexit, the doctrine of marriage, climate change, church social policy, employment tribunals, schism, church decline – and silent or liberal bishops.

    Reply
    • It is the failure to see the big picture that brings inaccurate diagnoses.

      The world is a big picture world, and if we have tunnel vision, that way error lies.

      By understanding what the bishops do and do not speak out about (which requires an across-the-board analysis of topics) we understand how culturally conformist they are, thus (in cases where they have been subsumed into the culture and effectively rejected the Christian picture) failing to fulfil their calling. Within the last decade there have been times that were crying out for them to speak out and they failed to turn up, and yes abortion votes are a key instance. This helps us understand whether their Christian voice is at present strong or weak within the culture.

      Reply
      • Yes, Christopher understands the point I was making and David again misreads me or fails to see the logical links that I thought were clear. But if I have to spell it out, here goes:
        – There is no end of public matters that a Christian may have an opinion on.
        – But the great majority of them are ambiguous or multifaceted and don’t touch on the centre of Christian faith.
        – Anglican bishops have no more expertise in ecology, economics or international law than others and their opinions don’t have any more weight (or less) because of their ecclesiastical office.
        – But abortion- the killing of pre-born human life is very obviously a Gospel matter, just as surely as racial abuse and discrimination are, because both are grave attacks on the divine image in man and woman.
        – But Anglican bishops have done and said nothing against the spread of abortion in Britain (Rowan Williams was a noble exception) and now Northern Ireland. There have been 600 abortions there in the past six months since Parliament changed the law unilaterally and bishops said NOTHING. Sarah Mullally is very “pro-choice”. If a professing Christian can’t see the problem here I’m afraid I can’t help you.
        – The cause of the problem is that English bishops are essentially a self-selecting nomenklatura, as in the days of the old Soviet Union. That is why they are so utterly predictable in their opinions and passions. It is very telling, is it not, that only one bishop (now stepped down), Mark Rylands, supported Brexit ( along with 66% of self- described Anglicans), and that a very clearly co-ordinated episcopal Twitter attack was made on Dominic Cummings – but on the ACTUAL sins of bishops in covering up clerical child sex abuse, not a word is heard? This is part of the reason why, among secular folk, the Church of England has very little credibility.

        Reply
        • James. I made clear where my confusion lay. “When you spoke about ‘ the conversion of people to faith in Christ’ it was, I think, a natural assumption you meant mission and evangelism”. Christopher had the advantage of responding to your subsequent reply to me. You have, since your first comment, begun speaking about church leadership and social and political theory and ethics. Fine. And I actually share some of your concerns – but not your strident negativity. You don’t seem aware there has been considerable change in how episcopal ministry is both trained for and selections made in recent years. Society Union? You would get on well with a bullish liberal on another blog site who regularly compares the CofE leadership to North Korea. As to ‘not a word’ being heard about bishops and clerical child abuse – where have you been for the last few years – or even least the last month?
          But we have probably got as far as we are going on this one …. grace and peace.

          Reply

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