On the appointment of senior leaders in the Church

On 6th January, it was announced that Stephen Knott, who has been working as part of the Lambeth Palace team, was appointed to be Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments in succession to Caroline Boddington. The role has attracted attention in the past, since Caroline developed the role so that it had significant control over the process of selecting clergy to be part of the (also controversial) senior leader training programme, which then fed into the selection of bishops. Questions were raised about how so much influence over the future leadership of the Church accrued to one (lay) position, and there was also a question of conflict of interest since Caroline is married to the former Bishop of Derby. At her farewell in General Synod in November 2021, Justin Welby described her as ‘the most powerful person in the Church of England.’ Apparently, this was intended to be a joke, but it was sufficiently close to the truth that only half the room laughed.

The role has in fact been changed, with a key part of the involvement in senior leadership training being moved across to Ministry Division—but that has not been mentioned in any of the announcements about the post.

By all accounts, Stephen Knott has been a competent and valued member of the team at Lambeth. But his appointment is controversial, as last year he entered a same-sex marriage with his partner of 20 years, the Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Major General Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, OBE, and did so in a service of the Scottish Episcopal Church conducted by the Bishop of Edinburgh. Discussing particular individuals appointed to specific roles presents a challenge, since it can easily look as though an individual is being singled out—yet there are some very significant questions of process, policy, and institutional integrity which are raised by this—and have been raised in several places.

Synod member Luke Appleton highlighted some of the issues the day after the appointment was announced:

While I don’t think anyone wishes to intrude or cast judgement on Knott’s private life or his marriage, to have had such a public wedding overseen by a figure as senior as the Bishop of Edinburgh is probably the greatest endorsement of a marriage canon change one could gain.

Considering the contention and controversy of the current discussions and the passion held on all sides of the discussion, how can Knott remain impartial on something that will understandably be so significant to him?

Going forward, every appointment will be scrutinized increasingly closely. I have no reason to doubt Knott is a person of integrity, and my hope would be that he would not politicize the appointment process. However having made such a public endorsement of one side and being a known friend of campaigners on that side of the debate surely raises some very serious questions. It is noteworthy that a number of campaigners for liberalization have rejoiced at the news declaring it a ‘victory’ for revisionism and a major step forward. If that is true and this role has been politicized then it must be subject to higher levels of accountability.

In a letter to the Church Times last week, another Synod member Rebecca Chapman asked questions about the transparency of the process of this appointment:

I do not recall seeing this post advertised in the Church Times or elsewhere. It appears to have been made available only internally and briefly. The contrast between this and the open and transparent recruitment process for the new Anglican Communion Office Secretary General, which was advertised over a period of weeks for prayerful consideration and sharing widely, is marked…

I am a recently elected member of the General Synod Appointments Committee, which has guidelines to ensure that “the procedure to be followed should be clear and known.” Why has the person responsible for our most senior clerical appointments been chosen through such an unclear and unknown process? Is this the standard now for church appointments?

David Baker, writing in Christian Today, draws these issues together in his characteristically lively way:

This is a vital role. The appointment has been given to someone living in breach of Church of England teaching. The whole subject is hugely controversial. As has been said in various place in online discussions, it would have been perfectly possible, surely, to have stated a genuine occupational requirement for the person in this post to be living according to the teaching of the Church of England.

While Mr Knott may no doubt consciously seek to be impartial, it is hard to see him being instrumental in appointing, for example, any conservative evangelicals as diocesan and suffragan bishops – though if he does facilitate that long overdue mythical “mutual flourishing,” it will be a good sign. Furthermore, in New Testament terms, what is needed is not someone who is “impartial” – but someone who is strongly partial to Biblical truth and strongly opposed to error…

And finally – there is a whole process underway in the Church of England called “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) which is supposed to facilitate discussion about issues around sexuality and so on. That process is, as yet, far from complete. It feels to many orthodox clergy and believers in the C of E that having got so far with that – and having additionally slogged their guts out through two years of a pandemic – the Archbishops are not only jumping the gun when it comes to LLF and acting as if official church teaching has already been changed, but are blowing a mitred episcopal raspberry to all those (a.k.a. the majority of the global Anglican Communion) taking an orthodox position. No wonder liberal revisionists have cheered the appointment.

Ed Shaw, who is pastor of Emmanuel City Centre church in Bristol, and director of Living Out, offers a different kind of personal response, which I offer here as an important perspective on the issues that this appointment raises.

The Church of England keeps asking its gay members to go against their convictions and consciences. 

Her most recent victim is the new Archbishops’ Appointments Adviser Stephen Knott. He is a gay man who has married his partner in another member church of the Anglican Communion, the Scottish Episcopal Church. He clearly disagrees with the Church of England’s apostolic teaching that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman: he has signaled that in what is surely the most public and permanent way possible. And yet the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have asked him to take charge of the process of appointing the Church of England’s most senior leaders (deans, bishops, and archbishops) who are all duty bound to teach that he cannot be married in the sight of God. How can they have asked him to do something that must be so troubling to his convictions and conscience?

Perhaps he feels, or they have indicated, that this situation won’t be for that long. That soon, post Living in Love and Faith, he will be able to help appoint people who will be able to “bless” his same-sex marriage (indicate the Church of England’s half-hearted acceptance of it), or even allow people like him to get married as Anglicans south of the border too. If so, it is my convictions and conscience that the Church of England is going to trample on next – I am a gay Anglican who lives in the light of historic teaching that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As a result, I am single and celibate, in the reassuring knowledge that this is what my church has consistently asked of people like me. Am I soon to be told that, somehow, we’ve got it wrong for centuries? At what cost to me and my many spiritual forebears? I’m increasingly uncertain as to whether that matters to the archbishops when they appoint someone like Stephen Knott to such a senior and influential position. 

Some will say that neither Stephen Knott nor myself need to worry too much because neither of us are clergy and it is only the ordained, and not lay officeholders, in the Church of England, who need to live in the light of the Church’s official teaching on marriage. This is an idea that has gained traction in recent years as part of an uneasy unofficial settlement that has kept liberals and traditionalists together. The Church of England’s victims this time have been gay clergy who have been disciplined when they have, like Stephen Knott, entered into a same-sex marriage (celibate civil partnerships are permitted). He will now, in theory, be partly responsible for making sure that no ordained man or woman in his position gains preferment in the Church of England – unless his appointment signals a change in the rules. How he can be asked to do this beggars belief, how gay clergy can put up with one rule for him and another for them also strains too many people’s convictions and consciences once again. He, I, may not be ordained but we are both in positions of authority in the Church of England and so surely need to be living in the light of her teaching in all areas of faith and conduct? 

What is the solution to this personal struggle for so many of us? Stephen Knott and his partner have found it – they got married in a church that is happy to marry two men. Surely for conviction and consciences sake that is where they should be staying, and where he should be working? Others like them, Anglican men and women with deep convictions that two men or two women can get married, with consciences that scream out to them when that is not allowed, should be following them. Perhaps the Church of England could help them by enabling a new entity where this can be allowed for those whose convictions and consciences demand it, whilst continuing to care for people like me who love and follow the teachings that a majority of Anglicans down the centuries, across the planet, have always believed? 

It is more than about time the Church of England stopped its gay members from going against their convictions and consciences.

Come and join me for a Zoom teaching afternoon on Thursday 3rd February to explore all the issues around the ‘end times’ and end of the world.

We will look at: the background to this language in Jewish thinking; Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 and Mark 13; the Rapture—what is it, and does the Bible really teach it; what the New Testament says about ‘tribulation’; the beast, the antichrist, and the Millennium in Rev 20; the significance of the state of Israel.

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207 thoughts on “On the appointment of senior leaders in the Church”

  1. The whole idea that it’s one set of rules for ordained and another for lay is insane in itself. As if the biblical teaching were addressed only to pastors and not to the whole people of God! Such a disappointingly low view of the church.

  2. It is unfortunate that this issue cannot be addressed purely as a matter of principle: it involves a named person. But that is entirely the fault of the two archbishops and whoever else was involved; I find their action over this appointment bizarre and shocking. And to have been quietly planning to take such a provocative step while LLF is in mid process makes a mockery of the whole project.

    However I don’t see any case that Stephen Knott is being forced to go against his conscience. If he knew that his position on sex and marriage made him an inappropriate candidate for the job, simple integrity should have meant that he would not apply for it in the first place.

    So where does this leave those Church of England clergy who continue to uphold the church’s doctrine? Beyond expressions of ‘disquiet’ (which are unlikely to achieve anything) what should they actually do? I would suggest they organise themselves and publicly call for this appointment to be withdrawn, while declaring, as one body, that they cannot accept the oversight of any bishop who is appointed under these unacceptable circumstances.

    Is this a time limited appointment?

  3. As the wall ties in the CoE have been strategically corroded and removed, this is another brick in wall, perhaps even a new capstone.
    It is foreseeable that the well chiseled, honed LLF will slot into a designed prominant place with this new cabinet appointment.

  4. In response to Ed Shaw

    1) Since the CoE decided to treat the egregious Issues in Human Sexuality as a shibboleth, lay people who follow their consciences on this matter are not living outside the teaching of the Church.
    2) If you believe that you are called to celibacy and that your reading of scripture compels this in particualr circumstances, why would a change in teaching or pastoral practice alter that? if, for example, I believed that marriage after divorce was forbidden by scripture (which, arguably, it is), I wouldn’t remarry if I was divorced. No amount of revision in teaching would change that. Or are celibate gay men and women only celibate becuase of church discipline and not because they believe this is mandated in scripture? Interesting.

    • I don’t understand this. You seem to be saying that because something is a “shibboleth” it means that if someone as a result of following their conscience is living outside of the teaching of Church then they are not living outside the teaching of the Church.

      If someone through conscience does not accept the teaching of the Church, then they should leave the Church.

      • The CoE (mistakenly in my view) decided that Issues is a shibboleth in that potential ordinands are supposed to agree to abide by its teaching on sexuality. Some candidates for ordination have fallen foul of this rule, although it is interpreted variously in different dioceses.
        Amongst that teaching is the directive (again mistaken in my view) that lay people are allowed a freedom of conscience in entering into sexually active (same-sex) relationships, which the clergy are not. Thus, both Stephen Knott and Ed Shaw would be able licitly to enter sexually active gay relationships.
        See also Andrew Godsall’s post below.

        • What you say is only half true, and therefore misleading.

          C of E didn’t decide Issues was a shibboleth, but that it was a good and clear articulation of biblical teaching, and that is what matters.

          Neither did it say, simpliciter, that lay people could enter SSM. It said quite explicitly, as Andrew has noted, that ‘the same standard applies to all’, but that given the contentious nature of the question, such people should not as a matter of course be excluded from entry into the church, in the sense of being refused baptism or communion.

          People who embezzle their companies funds should not as a matter of course be excluded either, but they are, likewise, living outside the teaching of the church.

          • Andrew also notes that Issues, where it makes that point, is 30 years old and that is why we are engaged in LLF. He also notes that not all bishops agreed with it at the time and wanted to move in a more permissive direction. He also notes that embezzling a companies funds is an illegal matter whereas same sex marriage most certainly is not. So those who had embezzled might not be considered suitable for lay ministry until some restoration or restorative justice had been undertaken. That would certainly not be universally true for those in same sex marriages.

          • Well, Scripture is 2,000 years old. Embezzling is a bad example—you are right. But, for example, being known as a serial adulterer is not illegal, but something like that would surely be a concern for this post. Or, for example, regularly attending an Anglican Church, but going publicly on record as denying the existence of God.

            I am not suggesting any of these things are the same as having entered a SSM—but highlighting the principle that standing outside the teaching of the Church is an issue.

          • Ian

            I hold no brief for Issues. It is a theologically shabby little pamphlet which ‘teaches’ male headship and is disastrously ignorant about bisexuality, in addition to its egregious stance on homosexuality.
            Nevertheless, the Church has raised its status to that of a shibboleth since candidates for ordination are required to assent to its ‘teaching’. (I put teaching in inverted commas, since it was never intended to be a ‘teaching document’.
            Of course Issues did not say that ‘homophiles’ could enter a SSM, since such a thing didn’t exist, legally. However it does emphasise ‘the freedom of the moral agent’ to conscientiously enter a gay relationship, Issues, 5.6.

          • A lot of scripture is much more than 2000 years old and even you consider some of its teaching to be inappropriate today e.g. the strictures on mixing fibres.
            The teaching of the C of E has moved on since ‘Issues’. The world has moved on since ‘Issues’. The place of those in same sex relationships is quite different across the world. We are members of an Anglican Communion where some in such relationships fear for their lives, with the support of the Church for criminalisation. Yet in other parts of the Anglican Church even Bishops are in same sex marriages.
            The teaching of the C of E is that lay people in same sex marriages are welcome members of the Christian community and therefore their ministry must be of value.

          • Movement is one thing, moving on is another. You confuse the two. It is basic that movement can be forwards, backwards or sideways. A fundamentalist who denied that two of these three exist would be flying in the face of oodles of evidence.

          • The problem with the Issues approach (and that of subsequent guidance) lies in its oversimplification of the clergy-laity distinction.
            Issues’ refers to the pastoral function of clergy as the rationale for imposing restrictions on what they may do (5.14)

            Issues (2.13) rightly declared: “In the New Testament the Judaistic background is the product of the general development noted in the Old. The ethical ideal is that sexual activity is to be confined within faithful, heterosexual marriage, normally lifelong, and Jesus is recorded as upholding this in his own teaching.”

            Further on, the guidance went on to say: “But the Church is also bound to take care that the ideal itself is not misrepresented or obscured; and to this end the example of its ordained ministers is of crucial significance.”

            Nevertheless, we all know that, apart from just clergy, there are also lay people who also carry out de facto and official pastoral functions and wield substantial influence in the Church.

            To be in such leadership roles and same-sex married (while the Church practically turns a blind eye) tacitly promotes the very thing that Issues sought to avoid: the implication that the same-sex marriage is “on a par with heterosexual marriage as a reflection of God’s purposes in creation”.

            Since the publication of ‘Issues’, the CofE has laid claim to an official ideal, while conniving at lay people who contradict it because she insists that none but ordained ministers are accountable for upholding or respecting it.

            The sheer naivete of that approach has resulted in staggeringly self-defeating attempts to postpone the inevitable.

          • The problem with the Issues approach (and that of subsequent guidance) lies in its oversimplification of the clergy-laity distinction.
            Issues’ refers to the pastoral function of clergy as the rationale for imposing restrictions on what they may do (5.14)

            Issues (2.13) rightly declared: “In the New Testament the Judaistic background is the product of the general development noted in the Old. The ethical ideal is that sexual activity is to be confined within faithful, heterosexual marriage, normally lifelong, and Jesus is recorded as upholding this in his own teaching.”

            Further on, the guidance went on to say: “But the Church is also bound to take care that the ideal itself is not misrepresented or obscured; and to this end the example of its ordained ministers is of crucial significance.”

            Nevertheless, we all know that, apart from just clergy, there are also lay people who also carry out de facto and official pastoral functions and wield substantial influence in the Church.

            To be in such leadership roles and same-sex married (while the Church practically turns a blind eye) tacitly promotes the very thing that Issues sought to avoid: the implication that the same-sex marriage is “on a par with heterosexual marriage as a reflection of God’s purposes in creation”.

            Since the publication of ‘Issues’, the CofE has laid claim to an official ideal, while conniving at lay people who contradict it because she insists that none but ordained ministers are accountable for upholding or respecting it.

          • I think that is a good summary.

            But the problem here is not that Issues is ‘old and out of date’, but that it failed to grasp completely the difficult intermediate area of Christians who are not ordained but nevertheless exercise considerable responsibility, and perhaps a clergy-like ‘representative function’ in and for the Church.

            It precisely this role which weighs this policy, and finds it wanting.

          • Andrew,

            The clergy-laity oversimplification is mistaken because it is overly focused on the scope of legal restrictions that can be impose, rather than exploring lawful moral measures that the Church could implement in support of the ideal.

            While Issues’ mistaken clergy-laity over-simplification has undermined its stated ‘ethical ideal’, that mistake (which has persisted in all subsequent guidance) doesn’t make the case for declaring the ideal itself to be false, or unrealistic and unworkable.

            Those seeking a revision to the Church’s teaching on marriage need to look elsewhere to argue for that.

  5. My daily reading today was Matthew 23:13-39 where Jesus is rebuking the Jewish religious leaders for their hypocrisy. Then I read this news.

  6. David Baker is characteristically wrong. Whilst he may believe the teaching of the CofE is clear, he fails to recognise what has been said consistently now for several decades. Quoted here for clarity and convenience from the House of Bishops pastoral guidance on same sex marriage:

    15. In Issues in Human Sexuality the House affirmed that, while the same standards of conduct applied to all, the Church of England should not exclude from its fellowship those lay peope of gay or lesbian orientation who, in conscience, were unable to accept that a life of sexual abstinence was required of them and who, instead, chose to enter into a faithful, committed sexually active relationship.

    16. Consistent with that, we said in our 2005 pastoral statement that lay people who had registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and holy communion, or being welcomed into the life of the local worshipping community more generally.

    The Church can’t proclaim all of that and then deny a lay person who is a suitably qualified person a role in the Church anymore than it could fire Caroline Boddington once she married the Bishop of Derby.

      • Surely you can see that admitting someone to baptism is admitting them to the ministry of the Church to be exercised in accordance with their gifts. You seem to have a rather low view of baptism

        • ‘Orientation’ is a concept full of multiple holes:
          (a) An addiction is also an orientation
          (b) To say something is an orientation is not to say anything about the important issues of whether it is so endemically or has become so through circumstances. And the science on that is routinely ignored in favour of a populist media narrative.
          (c) We are all oriented to sin or selfishness anyway, so what is so positive (as opposed to neutral) about orientation?
          (d) Orientations change. They are unaccountably being spoken of as though they do not.

          • I think ‘orientation’ means something clear, but ‘sexual orientation’ is often used lazily without addressing a, b, c, d. I am probably being thick but how does the wikipedia help?

          • Christopher – yeah – I was being silly here.

            The concept of `non-orientability’ entered my mind when reading your post. The Mobius strip is an example of a non-orientable surface. But I’d better stop here …….

          • In the 1970’s, Bruce Winick was General Counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. He wanted the Dade County Human Rights Ordinance to be amended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of homosexual conduct.

            When you think about it, everyone can deem certain kinds of conduct to be offensive and may react adversely to them. It would be difficult to enact an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of conduct.

            In the linked article, Winick described his legal innovation that sidestepped this problem and, ever since has been the blueprint for predicating rights on the basis of behavioural identity.

            He wrote: “Dade County Commissioner Ruth Stak agreed to sponsor the legislation, and I was given the task of figuring out how to draft it.”
            “The problem I faced, however, was a state penal code prohibiting “unnatural and lascivious” sexual conduct. While this criminal provision was not limited to same-sex conduct, it certainly had been primarily invoked against homosexuals.”
            “Could a local ordinance ban discrimination against a group whose members, by definition, violate state law when they engage in sexual conduct?”

            His answer: “I decided to use the phrase “sexual or affectional preference”. My thinking was that, whatever the penal law phrase “unnatural and lascivious” conduct might include, it could not include having a preference. The penal law could punish conduct, but not preferences. Preferences were protected by the First Amendment, which distinguishes between beliefs and actions; preferences, by their nature, are absolutely protected, whereas acts in furtherance of them can be regulated and perhaps even prohibited by the state…Prohibiting discrimination based on sexual or affectional preference thus would not violate state law.”

            The county commission agreed to adopt the amendment by a vote of five to three. And it was that phrasing that became the model for similar ordinances across the US.

            There was an inevitable conservative backlash from church groups and organisations like Save Our Children (led by singer, Anita Bryant). A key initiative of these group was to lobby for repeal of these ordinances. To this end, in 1992, Amendment 2 sought to reverse the law on gay affirmative action in Colorado.

            When surveyed, Coloradans actually strongly opposed discrimination based on sexual orientation but at the same time they opposed affirmative action based on sexual orientation.

            Although Amendment 2 was approved by a vote of 53% to 47%, the campaign to get it passed did not reject the Winick’s concept of sexual/affectional preference, but actually made it concrete.

            Unwittingly, by prohibiting affirmative action on the basis of sexual orientation, Amendment 2 simply made Winick’s notion a legal reality.
            As a result, in Romer vs. Evans, the Supreme Court followed suit and struck down Amendment 2 because it targeted sexual preference, rather than sexual conduct.

            The next piece of the legal strategy was the immutability argument. That those with a particular sexual/affectional preference share a common fixed behavioural essence.

            LGBT advocacy groups have latched on to this concept of an immutable behavioural essence. So, they oppose any rules or curbs that prevent that presumed essence from being expressed in actual conduct.
            They argue that such rules can and have involved such a humiliating cost to the gay person’s fundamental human dignity as to be unworthy of toleration in a democratic society.

            So, we should remember that Winick’s legal/political strategy of arguing for legally protected “sexual or affectional preference” was never predicated on scientific fact.

            As Christians, we need to decide whether we will surrender to the widespread adoption throughout the West of his clever legal strategy, or to reject the notion of this supposed fixed behavioural essence, know as sexual identity.

            If we do the former, there will be no end to the extremes of sexual conduct which will be enshrined and blessed as new-found God-given identities.


          • David Shepherd – I’m not at all sure what the law of the land has to do with this.

            The whole point about coming to faith in Christ is that the Holy Spirit works within you in such a way that your heart and mind is turned to God – and then you don’t want to do certain things.

            The law of the land about what consenting adults may (or may not) do with each other is neither here nor there.

          • Jock,

            My comment showed that the notion of sexual orientation began as no more than a legal contrivance.

            It’s entirely relevant to and underscores Christopher’s earlier comment probing the meaning of orientation. (“the concept is full of holes”)

            Underscoring that point is far from “neither here nor there”.

            Otherwise, you would have similarly criticised Christopher’s point.

        • Andrew – what do you mean by baptism? I thought that the C. of E. took the somewhat eccentric view that it was OK to baptise babies by dunking some water on their heads, not because of any profession of faith the baby had made, but rather because the parents were baptised members of the C. of E. who wanted it. If this is the case, then admitting someone to baptism is admitting someone to a meaningless ceremony. It certainly doesn’t mean admitting them to the ministry of the Church in any way.

          • Jock: I think you will find that the C of E takes the same view of the sacrament of baptism as the church ‘catholic’. It’s the same baptism as practiced in both Catholic and Orthodox churches throughout the world. About 1.5 billion Christians? Other views of baptism are the eccentric ones – which is not to discount them.
            Baptism most certainly does mean admitting someone to the ministry of the Church. The vast majority of ‘ministry’ is not undertaken by the ordained.

          • Andrew G,
            You well know that pedo baptism, of itself does not admit to the one baptised to partake in the ministry of communion, nor in the ministry of the word. It does not (or does it?) knowingly promote those baptised into the sea of unbelief into ministry.

          • Geoff

            The sacrament of Baptism allows the baptised to partake in the Eucharist in the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches.

          • Geoff: I don’t understand your last point at all I’m afraid.
            What I do know is that those baptised as infants are not baptised again before undertaking ministry – lay or ordained – in the Church of England. Proof of their baptism is simply required.

          • Unless things have changed drastically, (and that might be the case) Penelope, not before confirmation (with classes?) and an knowing affirmation of belief by those baptised as a child are barred from receiving communion. (And from the church Roll- I know not?)

          • You are simply wrong there Geoff I’m afraid. Communion of children before confirmation is now quite normal in the C of E and practised widely.

          • Geoff

            As Andrew says. Confirmation used to be customary in the CoE, but baptism is the admission.

        • I don’t have a low view of baptism. But it is a rite of admission, not a rite of mature leadership and responsibility.

          The idea that responsibility and leadership makes no more demands than the rite of admission at the beginning of the journey of discipleship is, well, rather odd.

          • Which of course is not at all what I said. The point is that ministry is not the preserve of the ordained but of the whole Christian community and all have a part to play in that. The discovery and calling out of appropriate gifts is significant, and that is what has happened in the case of Stephen Knott

          • I agree with Ian Paul. Baptism is not admission of a person to minister leadership in the Church. It is a statement that the baptised person is deemed to be a Christian and expected to receive the regular ministry of the church. Whether he or she is deemed at some later point to be called to the ministry of leadership (which is fundamentally about their capacity to teach the faith to others) is altogether another question. The Pastoral Epistles make it clear that elders (presbuteroi) and overseers (episcopoi) are men whose lifestyle, maturity of character and faithful teaching mark them out for leadership.
            It was the American Episcopal Church that began some years ago promoting an unbiblical understanding of the significance of baptism.

      • Sorry Ian, but I cannot see any reason why there should be different expectations at baptism, than of lay or any other type of leadership in this issue.

        • Because baptism genedrslly denotes a young faith needing to be matured through teaching, service and growth in prayer and Bible knowledge. It is initiation, not culmination.

  7. So … let’s get this …. erm …. straight. This is a story about an appointment in the Church of England, where someone is considered to be a `senior leader’ *not* because he is proclaiming the gospel, convicting people of their sins, bringing judgement upon them and leading them to faith in Christ. That is not what `leader’ means here – it does not mean presenting the gospel message in a way that leads people to Salvation.

    This is about the appointment of somebody to an extremely important non-job where the job description involves swanning about Lambeth Palace. He’s appointed as Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments – where presumably he decides that *other people* should be proclaiming the doctrines of life (actually – he’s involved with appointing clergy, but there was nothing in the piece that suggested that the clergy whom he appoints are supposed to lead people to faith). It sounds like the very important job that Jim Hacker had at the `Department of Administrative Affairs’ in the `Yes Minister’ television series.

    The piece also tells us that preferences of the person appointed to the job seem to be non-linear – and seems to make that the major issue.

    Incidentally, I do wonder if Stephen Knott considers Dave Narey’s great goal against Brazil in 1982 to be a toe-poke? But I’d consider this question to be absolutely secondary to the fact that the C. of E. seems to have generated an awful lot of non-jobs which are considered to be more important than the job of proclaiming the Word of Life.

    (For those who don’t recall – back in 1982, Scotland lost to Brazil in the World Cup. The score was Brazil 4, Scotland 1. Dave Narey scored the first goal, which was an absolutely beautiful goal. Unfortunately, this was precisely the incentive that the Brazilians needed to run faster and up their game – but I digress. Unfortunately, Jimmy Hill, the English football commentator described Dave Narey’s great goal as a `toe poke’, upon which large swathes of the Scotland supporters started to question his sexuality. Years later, Jimmy Hill was still apologetic about this, saying that he didn’t see how Narey could have got his foot properly around the ball).

  8. It appears that there is a troubling ignorance or avoidance of the concept and application of *conflict of interest* in the CoE where deep vested personal interest supplants doctrine, akin to officers and employees of a limited company acting *ultra vires*.
    Or Judges not recusing themselves.
    It seems that this is little more than rampant, unaccountable, politics at play at the core of Canterbury’s cabinet.

  9. Yet another perfect example of how treating the ‘gay issue’ as a civil rights matter is the perfect weapon for neutralising and shrinking those churches that fall for it. It is exactly what would happen if there were a malign overarching intelligence. So maybe there is.

  10. There is no such thing as ‘neutrality’, as the years following ‘issues’ have demonstrated. No one is impartial, not even one, on account of how much broader and more serious this ongoing debate is..

    Whoever was appointed to this post was going to be unpopular with whichever group they were felt *not* to represent. If someone of traditionalist persuasion had been appointed, I know I could have read an identical article to this (but arguing in the other direction) on numerous other sites, and they’d have been right to.

    Could someone more neutral have been found? Possibly. Knott certainly appears to be a fairly provocative choice, but let’s not pretend there’s a person that could have been satisfactory for everyone. The process is certainly cause for concern, especially if it was as opaque as you say, doubly so if the lack of openness was deliberate, as seems to have been implied.

    Fundamentally the problem goes well beyond this. For as long as official teaching remains un-taught, and for as long as discipline remains unexcersied, the formal position of the CofE matters not one bit. If your operant theology doesn’t match your espoused theology, the latter is meaningless.

    • Mat,
      It is not a question of neutrality. Never has been. Personal vested interests v well established, extant, church doctine from uncorrectable Holy Scripture. Scripture is far from neutral, nor is God neutered, nor gagged.

      • But, Mat, as an organisation, institution, the CoE provides a substantial weight of evidence that it is dysfunctional.
        A dysfunctional organisation, ordinarily, is a one in terminal disaffected decline.

      • “It is not a question of neutrality.”

        Please. You know exactly what I mean.

        Neutrality, impartiality, call it what you will. The question being asked of Knott is ‘can he discharge his duties as the secretary of appointments without his judgement being bound by his own personal circumstances?’ Realistically, I think not, as do others, yourself included. I wasn’t really taking issue with that.

        My point was a sufficiently neutral/impartial person, so as to satisfy everyone, does not and cannot exist on this particular issue, such is its scope and connection to everything else.

        • Please Mat,
          My point, as know know, is it remains not a question of impartiality, but a one of evidence, of judgement, unless the point about conflict of interest, (which was first broached in Ian’s article) is not understood or dismissed out of hand.
          It is a question that applies not only to the offer of appointment, but to the acceptance of it.
          Maybe, the rules of natural justice, don’t apply here, where not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done.

    • Correction: no-one who has a conclusion in mind is impartial. But the whole point is that those people who have a conclusion in mind (i.e. who are not truth-seekers) should never be listened to.

    • Good point Mat—but, as David Baker says, it is not neutrality we are looking for.

      I would hope that someone in this position is a person committed to, by conviction and life, the upholding of the doctrine and teaching of the Church.

      I would be raising precisely the same concerns if a person was appointed who was not Trinitarian and had made a public point of announcing that too.

        • Going to Scotland in breach and defiance of CoE doctrine is sanctioned by what in the CoE? Appointment.
          Sounds like the Conservative Party at prayer, perhaps.

          • Knott’s appointment seems to be unthinkly or pointedly provocative. And he doesn’t appear to be someone who comes under authority of CoE extant doctrine.
            Unless…it has ostensibly been waived by those in authority.

          • But what proportion of people in the UK has contracted a civil ‘marriage’ to another man? And the appointment is made out of that particular sector in the pie chart and no other.

          • “And the appointment is made out of that particular sector in the pie chart and no other.”
            Irrelevant. The appointment has been made of the person most suitable for the role. The Secretary does not appoint or ordain anyone bishop or anything else. They, along with the Prime Minister’s secretary, take soundings and match candidates with person specs.
            Clearly this person has been working for the CofE for sometime. Why did nobody complain before?

          • One could not know the superlative that they were the most suitable person unless they interviewed everyone. Sorry – an appreciable number more than they actually did.

        • It isn’t a “doctrinally legal marriage “. It is not a marriage at all ac ording to thd Church of England.
          It gravely imperils this man’s soul and the man he lives with.
          We know the direction Welby wants to take the Church of England in. And we also know that the C of E will be effectively dead in 15 years’ time.
          That will be the legacy of Cottrell and Welby.

          • It is a doctrinally legal marriage according to the Episcopal Church. It does not imperil his soul, nor his husband’s. I don’t believe their formerly living in sin would imperil their souls either, but some might.
            I wish the ABC was taking the CoE in the direction of the Episcopal Church, but I doubt it.
            The CoE may well be dead in 15 years, but it won’t be because it introduced SSM.

          • Then how come that is as strong a correlate to decline generally as any that can be named? Cultural conformity and capitulation to the sexual revolution go hand in hand with decline, so it is part of a larger correlate.

            But what is also disturbing is the blase way you say ‘The C may be dead in 15 years’. That is a big and great thing you are airily waving aside, and multiple very precious souls and lives.

          • Christopher

            Actually, it was James who wrote that.
            And there would still, as you have often observed, be a Church for those ‘precious lives’.
            It just wouldn’t be the CoE.

          • No you both wrote it not just one of you, but he saw it as a bad outcome caused by bad policy whereas you were not clear either on whether the outcome was bad or on what the cause would be.

            I think it is quite wrong to be as pessimistic as either of you, but equally the fortunes of specific denominations are a very secondary matter provided that their heritage is preserved.

      • I wasn’t, in fairness, aiming the comment wholly at you. 😉

        The whole situation is quite unsolvable. I agree with you and share in your hope that the person would have been as described, and I certainly wasn’t accusing you of hypocrisy, but I cannot see how any progress can be made towards a re-assertion of church doctrine without a commitment to A) effective catechesis* and B) tangible consequences for failure to adhere to it**. Without these things, the revisionists are quite right to cry “so what?” in response to any appeal to official teaching. They’re not wrong. A law that is not enforced can hardly be said to be binding……

        * I am not sure I am using the word correctly. Is catechesis a verb? I think so….
        ** For clergy at least. Those who are supposed, by assent and vow, to uphold the teachings of the church (frankly, whether they agree with them or not).

        • ‘A law that is not enforced can hardly be said to be binding’. Except that is not quite true. In the employment appeal case of Jeremy Pemberton it was ruled that the Church does have a doctrine of marriage, and it was clear and known, and that it was enforceable by a bishop *even if* no other bishops actually enforced it.

      • I’m not sure what you mean by being a Trinitarian, but if you mean the belief that Jesus was ‘eternally begotten’, i.e. not really the son of God, this has no more scriptural support than same-sex marriage, and is quite as bad as embezzling company funds. I’m sure there are many who both believe that the godhead consists of three eternal gods and believe that sodomy is OK; they’re both pagan beliefs, after all.

        The qualities of a Christian leader must be those the Bible itself commends (e.g. I Tim 3:2-7).

  11. The idea that we can have rational discussion about roles but have to avoid controversy where named people are involved is not reflective of the Apostle Paul’s approach, and must be considered wrong. It was normal for Paul to confront sin, especially immorality, publicly through his letters, and to identify the individual by name.
    In addition (for example Ephesians 5:3-16) Paul tells us to have nothing to do with sexual immorality or impurity.
    As to this man’s sin, the Day will make it clear.
    The bigger concern here is the unbiblical leadership by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. In Revelation 2:20 Jesus says that what He has against the church, is their toleration of one who calls themselves; in this case, a prophetess, but misleads.
    Jesus own condemnation of the church for their toleration of evil must be understood as the starkest of warning to those who passionately love Jesus.
    When we have a return to the Apostolic faith once delivered to the saints, and a love of righteousness, Jesus will bless His church.
    If we persist in calling evil good, the CofE has no future.

  12. I see a lot of people here working out other people’s salvation in fear and trembling. We are all sinners, I suspect we are all hypocrites, and most of us are astonishingly certain that our interpretation of Scripture is correct – despite most of us having changed our views in some respects.

      • Yes – some things in Scripture are completely clear – such as the fact that Samson was a fine Christian gentleman – and at the same time was a complete hoodlum and fornicator – who is in the number of the Saviour’s family, having acquitted himself admirably in the eyes of God by disposing of a large number of Philistines (Judges 16:30).

        Of course, Samson was never considered for a position in Lambeth Palace; his zeal for God manifested itself in other ways.

        • Jock,
          Could it be suggested that the contrast and comparison is to be made with Jesus. Samson broke Nazarite vows: Jesus is the true Nazarene completing and fulfilling devotion on the cross, with outstrethed arms defeating our enemy a true, flawless, deliverer, from ultimate enemies of satan sin and death, in, place of flawed deliverers (judges) such as Samson.
          Robin Mark sang it well. “I stand Amazed in the Presence of Jesus the Nazarene.”

          • Geoff – it’s an interesting suggestion. I was thinking that Samson should be compared and contrasted with John the Baptist, since John the Baptist was also a Nazarite from birth (and Luke’s account of the angel appearing to Zechariah is remarkably similar to the narrative in Judges) …… but yes – God raised up deliverers during the time of the Judges – and it’s difficult to understand them as men of God (even though they were); the true deliverer was Jesus.

  13. Would the apostles have baptised any they knew to be determined to continue in sexual relationships the Bible forbids, in this case a homosexual relationship? Would such an individual be given a position of influence? If the answer to the first is negative then the second is superfluous.

    A bigger question is how conservative evangelicals manage to live alongside liberals. These are not two shades of the same faith they are different faiths – light and darkness. I am by no means suggesting that the way forward is clear and it is certainly not easy. Can I ask how far do evangelicals in the C of E pretend that we are all brothers together? Are ‘wolves who do not spare the flock’ recognised as such? Would they ever be called out as such?

    • If I would not want my own children of impressionable age to come under the influence of a vicar who taught that same sex relationships are blessed by God, how can I ever be relaxed, on the basis of ‘mutual flourishing’, for someone else’s children to be put in that position? That phrase (‘mutual flourishing’) may have its place when applied to community cohesion or political peace-making, but in the context of obedience in respect of God’s boundaries for how we should live it is redolent of the Devil’s deceits.

      It may be true that a parish can flourish unhindered for a while despite being at odds with the trajectory of its diocese or even the whole church, but I don’t think any formal agreement to work alongside (and affirm) people with whom you fundamentally disagree can be justified. New Testament example and teaching would surely confirm this? And there’s always that truth about ‘a house divided’…

      • I wouldn’t want anyone I loved to come under the influence who believes that gay relationships are inevitably sinful.

          • Penelope – actually, I wouldn’t want anybody whom I loved to come under the influence of any priest or any church man at all.

            The basic idea is that when you are saved, the Holy Spirit takes hold of you, and your own God-given mind, guided by the Holy Spirit kicks in.

            It is those who are not `in Him’, those who have the mark 666 on their foreheads, who get influenced by church people (who, for example in the country where I am, tell their followers not to get vaccinated – and these godless church-going idiots hearken to them).

        • Does that not show how fundamentally different your beliefs are from those of a conservative evangelical. This is a defining issue. There are others but this is one. To approve gay relationships knowing what the Bible teaches places a person among the false teachers who should be excommunicated.

          I’m reluctant to be so forthright for I don’t know you Penelope. I don’t know your circumstances. My point is that our views on an issue like this reveal our heart.

          • ‘The last part of this thesis will challenge the hermeneutics of Pilling and its afterlife by queering its methodologies, particularly in their approach to biblical hermeneutics and exegesis. This will be an experiment in disrupting the normative scriptural hermeneutics employed by the Pilling process and in queering/querying their position of privilege and authority in the Church. The wife of God/bride of Christ metaphor, which is routinely employed to support the normative position of ‘heterosexual’ marriage as a creation ordinance, will be reconstructed, both as analogically gay, and as a disturbing picture of normative marital fidelity and flourishing.’

            This is, as ever, the central issue. Do words actually mean anything? Queer hermeneutics says, no not really—or rather, meaning can be constructed by the reader in a variety of ways.

            At the heart of this debate is the question: does God speak?

          • Yes Ian, and not only whether God speaks but whether words and language have meaning. You can get into all sorts of postmodernist philosophy from that point, and it is as futile as Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 1. The point is that postmodernists *live* as if words have meaning. If they tried to pay for two apples having put five in their shopping bag then they – and we – know what would happen, to take a trivial example.

            Why stop at the Pilling Report? It would be some achievement to ‘queer’ its Appendix by Bishop Sinclair which went in to rescue the whole project from those who would spit in the face of God, but why stop there? The entire Bible awaits.

            Meanwhile, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…

          • Ian Paul – of course she is `exchanging the truth for a lie’. The whole bit that you quote actually looks like such gibberish that it is difficult to see that the sentences actually mean anything at all, but the general tone makes it clear that she stands defiantly in opposition to the Word of God.

            I don’t know what the motives are – either she is `straight’ and simply hates Christ and everything He stands for – and is using the gay issue to promote an agenda aimed ultimately at the disintegration of the church and Christianity – or else she is `gay’ and having difficulties living with it (and she considers part of her problem to be the clear and plain meaning of certain parts of Holy Scripture).

            Either way, this is a person who is at enmity with God – and who is living a sad life. I personally have no idea what sort of outreach is appropriate in cases like this.

            I do deplore the total waste of tax payers money to fund joke research, where people write joke dissertations – where they are clearly having a laugh and seeing what they can get away with. I am reminded of Alain Sokal’s article `Trangressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutic of Quantum Gravity’


            but I’m afraid to say that Alain Sokal’s article, even though it was intended as a complete joke, actually made much more sense than the topic outline in Anton’s link.

          • I’m not sure crude dismissal of someone’s work on the basis you don’t understand it (or indeed them) necessarily makes you look as good as you seem to think it does…..

            Granted, parts of this thesis outline are strange and it asks more questions than it answers. I think it’s bad too, not least because I find it somewhat hypocritical; critiquing one hermeneutic while using another, arguably more alien and open to critique, one.

            That said, it is not incomprehensible, and I do not think the person who would write it is a moron or a fool, least of all a ‘Christ-hater’. they’re just working within very different paradigms. If you’d read much feminist/queer theology the abstract might be more familiar to you. It is one thing to critique a piece of work, quite another to critique the person writing it as a liar, about whom you know very little I suspect.

            One of the reason people like Penelope and Andrew are valued contributors here (usually 😉 ) is because they prevent these comments from being an echo chamber, even if the price is the same oft-repeated sparring. I would rather have my opponents in open dialogue than cast into the outer darkness, wouldn’t you?

            If Ian thought the same he’d have banned the comments by now, and it’s been years that he hasn’t.

          • “I’m not sure crude dismissal of someone’s work on the basis you don’t understand it (or indeed them) necessarily makes you look as good as you seem to think it does…..”

            That was aimed more at Jock’s comment than Johns. The point is that people are being very quick to make assumptions, some of which may be founded, some not, despite have neither read the work nor indeed knowing the individual who wrote it.

            Or would you consider me also part of the problem for daring to defend it? 😉

          • Mat – well, on the one hand – fair point.

            On the other hand I do think that there should be an attempt to make the language transparent – and in this case it plainly isn’t. Particularly, when we’re talking about matters pertaining to faith, I think it is very important that the language does not degenerate into a lexicon that only people in some `ivory tower’, who are familiar with that particular genre, can actually follow.

            Yes – like you – I prefer to see people speak their minds – so if Penelope has genuine conviction, then good that she expresses it (as she has done). At the same time, I am genuinely bamboozled about what is behind this – I do not understand what is going on here, the motivation for it, the mind-set that it is behind it, the issues, etc …..

            If you can give some sort of insight – that would be useful.

          • Mat,

            May I recommend two further books: Learn to write badly: how to succeed in the social sciences by Michael Billig, showing that postmodern jargon often conceals paucity of scholarship and content (Billig is also very funny); and The killing of history: how a discipline is being murdered by literary critics and social theorists by Keith Windschuttle, an Australian scholar, who takes postmodernism apart in some specific contexts. I am a research scientist and much appreciated the Sokal hoax. The humanities subjects are perhaps more beautiful flowers, but more fragile.

          • I don’t disagree with either of you.

            I am not trying to defend the content of the linked PHD research, which should be judged on its merit, but rather the premise as laid out in the abstract and the author’s motive, the latter of which is difficult to know with certainty and which I thought was being treated uncharitably.

            I have my reservations about the state of some postmodern scholarship, and the parodies are indeed cutting (I have read ‘how to write badly’) but as someone currently studying at university it does seem that the desire to dismiss things out of hand prima facie risks missing genuine benefit in the work… I am not saying it is there, only that it could be….

            I share Jock’s concern about the lack of a shared theological language, but I am also aware that many within the queer scholarship streams see that very language as one of the things they want to critique. Not explicitly to throw out or discard it, but certainly to question, which is what seems to me to be the intent of this research….

            The question the author is asking isn’t “is the pilling report any good”, it is “what assumptions is the pilling report making, and how could they be addressed in future”. Your judgment of whether this is a worthwhile question needs to be weighed against the fact Exeter university seem to think it is.

            This is a major digression. I will look at the other book once my sadly depleted book fund replenishes!

          • Do words actually mean anything?
            Or to take another example of fluidity, does ‘son’ as in ‘Son of God’ really have to mean ‘son’?

          • Anton, have you read LLF? Especially the section on how we hear God in the bible? Your question is answered there. There isn’t space here to do it justice.

          • Well found Anton.
            From a couple or so years ago on this site it has been clear that Penelope has been a promulgator of Queer theory and has taught it. It appears to be her primary hermeneutic, following postmodernism and some of its founding fathers, as it developed, such as the Frankfurt school and Foucault and at the same time embracing historical and form criticism, which provides scope for the effulgence of of the sovereign self.
            We have been here before with this, but your link provides fuller evidence of Penelope’s drivers.
            There was a time, a few years ago, after some research (by Christian Smith?)it was concluded succintly that the church was inhabited by many who were * moralistic, therapeutic, deists*.
            Again, over the last couple of years it has been evident that there has been a heavily Stonewall influenced moralism in some parts of Exeter Uni in their response to visiting lecturers.

          • Might I recommend the book Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield? She was a professor of English Literature in the USA specialising in ‘queer theory’ and feminist theory, and a lesbian. Today she is a married Christian. The description of her lecture in which she ‘came out’ as a believer is dramatic in the best sense.

          • Indeed, Anton.
            I couldn’t recall Butterfield’s name, but I heard some of her talks/testimonies on the internet, a few years ago. From Queer (teacher) to Christ, if I can put her conversion in those terms.
            A useful primer, overview, is a book you’ll be familiar with by the late Melvin Tinker: That Hideous Strength. I have the first edition.

          • Hi Chaps

            It’s the poster who is defiantly standing against the word of God here.

            Now you’ve had your jollies (and I am disappointed to see Ian joining in, but there you go), you might like to consider how very sub Christian your behaviour has been. Time to read a bit of that bible you believe you are all following.

            As well as ignorant, of course. I am surprised by Ian’s misunderstanding of queer hermeneutics, but not the rest of you. But thanks for the link to my research proposal. It’s moved on a bit from then. There’s no longer anything on the trophy bride of Christ (but what a good article/presentation that would make). I’ve gone more in the line of Balthasar/Bray on Holy Saturday as a site of queer temporality.

            As for, why I am doing this. Ask yourselves why you are interrogating Knott’s appointment and querying the authorities that put him there and their constructions of power. That’s what I am doing with Pilling. But with a different hermeneutic.

            And why do I choose that particular hermeneutic? Not because I’m gay. I’m straight, married, middle class, middle aged, so I can’t really call myself a queer theologian (as I couldn’t be a black theologian). I choose it because I’m critiquing an institution which is invested in the epistemological hegemonies of the global North and yet seems unaware of the constructions of power and privilege which it inhabits. It regards certain categories as ‘unmarked’, such as whiteness, straightness, being cis gender, being able bodied and minded, whilst other categories are regarded as aberrant or ‘issues’.
            If you think that sounds like gobbledygook I suggest that you aren’t suited to what you sneerily call the ‘ivory tower’, which is fine; why should you be? Or that you could usefully do some serious reading (Anton). Something on the epistemological of the global South might be a start, if you don’t fancy queer theory. Which I have never taught by the way. Only taught scripture.

            Now, I’ll bid you all good night if I may. I just had a WhatsApp from the coven. Nighty night.

          • Penelope

            I am entirely of my words and I would remind you how sharp the Epistles are on false teachers – sharper than me. You have no idea what I have and have not read so that won’t fly.

          • I would remind you of how sharp the Bible is on the sins of gossip and slander. Far sharper than on sexuality. So I would bid you and others hold their tongues.

          • Penelope –
            (a) there was no gossip or slander in this exchange.
            (b) it is precisely because the people have read Scripture and they have understood its plain meaning that they react in the way they (including I) did to what you wrote – and the research outline that Anton found.
            (c) I’m now more convinced than ever (many thanks to David Shepherd for helping to clarify things in my mind) that you are doing nothing that is remotely beneficial to the gay community that you claim to be trying to support.

          • Jock

            I suggest that if you can’t see that you and others are gossiping about me and slandering (libeling rather) me, you take the great big plank out of your own eyes.
            gossip – unconstrained conversation about people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true
            libel – a written defamation.

          • Penelope

            I have made no comment about your person, only your views. Which are unrepentantly at variance with the Bible, I regret to say.

          • Penelope – there was no gossip or libel here – we simply discussed a written document which was in the public domain – and reached conclusions which you don’t like.

            Perhaps it was incorrect for Anton to draw it to our attention to this one and for us to discuss it in this way on this forum – especially since we knew that you were reading our comments. That aspect of it might have been in poor taste and below the belt – but there was no gossip and no libel.

            The discussion would have been entirely in order if it had been an anonymous research abstract – and the comments were based purely on what was written there.

            Perhaps you should use a pseudonym for commenting on public forums.

          • Anton and Jock
            “Ian Paul – of course she is `exchanging the truth for a lie’. The whole bit that you quote actually looks like such gibberish that it is difficult to see that the sentences actually mean anything at all, but the general tone makes it clear that she stands defiantly in opposition to the Word of God.

            I don’t know what the motives are – either she is `straight’ and simply hates Christ and everything He stands for – and is using the gay issue to promote an agenda aimed ultimately at the disintegration of the church and Christianity – or else she is `gay’ and having difficulties living with it (and she considers part of her problem to be the clear and plain meaning of certain parts of Holy Scripture).

            Either way, this is a person who is at enmity with God – and who is living a sad life. I personally have no idea what sort of outreach is appropriate in cases like this.

            I do deplore the total waste of tax payers money to fund joke research, where people write joke dissertations – where they are clearly having a laugh and seeing what they can get away with.”

            This is gossip and slander and is an attack on me (as well as on my views). Someone else here has called me a heretic. Since you ahev no knowledge of my views on the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the Trinity, that is a serious slur. Sexuality is a second order issue, as the Hosue of Bishops has stated.
            My research is in the public domain, although that proposal is very out of date. I have no problem with people crticising my methodology. I do, however, strongly object to partisan, ill-founded and ignorant attacks on my motivation and on my sincerely held Chrsiitan beliefs. I have no wish to be anonymous on this forum. I am not ashamed of my reserach, my views or my beliefs. Anonymity is one reason I won’t enage here with trolls such as ‘S’, and partly why I, unlike you, post under my full name.
            You should be ashamed of your defamation and your unchristisan behaviour. I shall pray for you.

          • I must support everything that Penny says concerning the slanderous words and gossip of Jock and Anton. Penny has now been forced to repost the atrocious and rude comments that Jock made concerning her.
            Penny has been an especially effective teacher of the New Testament, especially St Paul. Her work with individual parishes and groups of local churches was likewise inspirational.
            Quite why Ian permits the postings of those who don’t even have the courage to use their full name is beyond me. It enables those like Jock to go beyond rude and simply become quite sub-Christian as well. I agree with Penny that the only course of action is to pray for such people and then refuse to engage further.
            Penny I am so sorry you have had to be subject to such behaviour and I am quite disgusted that the comments you have been forced to highlight have remained.

          • Andrew Godsall – yes – I accept that this was entirely out of order – my sincere apologies – and I’ve posted an apology in response to Penelope below.

          • Andrew, what makes you think you have authority to apologise on my behalf? I have no idea why Penelope concatenated her reply to me and Jock. We said different things.

          • Firstly, thank you Jock for your apology. That is gracious. I think your comments were out of order whether I am contributing here or not, but I accept your apology.
            Second, thank you Andrew for your support. It means a lot. Especially when Ian is quick to correct the ‘liberals’ on this blog, but not the ‘conservatives’.
            Lastly, Anton, you called me a false teacher. As Andrew has shown that is both false and defamatory.

          • Penelope – thanks – my comments were way out of order – this means a lot to me.

            I wish you the best with the dissertation.

          • “But you teach the opposite of the Bible concerning sexuality.”
            Anton – I think the House of Bishops have made it clear that people are quite free to argue for a change in the Church’s teaching in this area, but are not free to set it aside. Penny has done no more than argue for a change. The whole LLF process encourages that.
            It’s arguable whether a change is the opposite of what the bible teaches and it would not be the first thing that a church now teaches in opposition to the bible.

          • Andrew, I am interested in what the Bible says. Then we can decide whether the bishops are in line with scripture. You say it is arguable what the Bible says about the subject. Feel free.

          • Thanks Anton. I’m not going to repeat very oft repeated things here that are not on topic. Let’s engage with LLF.

          • I prefer to engage with the Bible and use it to weigh the words of other people. I have never claimed that my exegesis is inerrant, but if I didn’t believe it was correct then obviously I’d change my conclusions.

          • One party engaging with the Bible and the other with a church document. That sums up what is wrong with anglicanism. The documents are supposed to be based on a correct understanding of the Bible anyway. So the more attention to the Bible, the more likely you are to gain an accurate understanding of it. If you mediate it through some document it will just be Chinese whispers. And secondly it will be putting the cart before the horse, something that takes a 180-degree turn to remedy, which is the largest degree turn possible.

          • In your opinion.
            In my opinion, the Bible has little to say about ‘sexuality’.
            Scripture has quite a lot of narratives about sex. Much of it aberrant. Not all of which is condemned.

          • “I prefer to engage with the Bible ..”
            Yes of course. That is exactly what LLF does. It also reminds us that people engage with the bible in a number of different ways – and not just on this subject as I have already indicated. It reminds us that fundamentalism is not part of the Anglican tradition.

          • Forgive me if I am wrong, but the idea is to pick and choose which bits of the Bible you accept and label the ones you reject as ‘fundamentalist’? By what hermeneutic do you decide, and why? Do you accept that, through the Bible, God can challenge any human hermeneutic?

          • Anton, have you read LLF? Especially the section on how we hear God in the bible? Your question is answered there. There isn’t space here to do it justice.

          • Yes I have.

            The idea that this question needs dozens of scholars and hundreds of pages to discuss, let alone settle, is absurd. The Pentateuch was the law of a pastoral land, to be spoken out every few years and designed for farmers to comprehend instantly; while the New Testament was written in street Greek.

          • Anton – I’ve found that the best stock reply when someone asks `have you read (insert title of some weighty treatise)’ is `no, but I’ve seen the movie’.

            This was the reply given by the leader of the Swedish Vansterpartiet one year, when a TV reporter asked him if he had ever read Das Kapital by Karl Marx, he replied, `no, but I’ve seen the movie’.

            In general, I agree with what you are saying here – I always go back to the faith of my grandfather (born 1890’s) who was a fisherman – and had a profound faith. The only book he read was the bible.

            I do read other things – but I always feel that I shouldn’t have to.

          • Jock,

            Yes, life is too short for me to read either Marx or Kant in their own words; I have the intellectual self-confidence, but I prioritise my time differently. Different summarisers reach differing conclusions, which suggests that something important is being said. (I have read several summarisers of each, and settled on Will Durant for Kant and Thomas Sowell for Marx).

            The point at issue comes down to this. Does Leviticus 18:22’s description of “man lying with man as with woman” as toevah reflect God’s opinion or not? (God did not change his opinion of moral matters at Golgotha, only how he responds.) That is the only question worth asking liberals on the subject. If the answer is No, why believe any verse of scripture?

            LLF I see as the next step in the continuing attempt to wear down Anglican evangelicals. God, meanwhile, is causing liberal congregations to wither on the vine, because liberalism is parasitic on true belief while begetting atheism. The problem is that evangelicals and liberals are welded together under a hierarchy of bishops who are overwhelmingly liberal. How will God respond?

      • Penelope – you are wrong about this – it is the argument given in the Westminster Confession whereby the Scottish Presbyterians justify infant baptism, but it is extremely selective misquoting of Scripture. Where the whole household was baptised, the whole household had come to believe.

        `he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.’

        There are no counterexamples to this in the NT.

        • Penelope’s comment was not in response to a question about whether baptism was for believers or not, but whether the apostles were in some way vetting the moral state of the people they were baptising (per John’s question).

          “who knows?” is a perfectly reasonable answer to that. I would think it unlikely.

          • Mat – ah – OK. No – there was nothing in the NT about vetting – I think it was simply based on the person’s own confession. There must have been some reason why Luke could write that all the Philippian jailer’s household had come to believe.

            Clearly they couldn’t have been doing too much vetting though – otherwise it’s difficult to see how they would have baptised the apostle Paul.

          • Indeed, you weren’t wrong, and the Westminster Confession reference is interesting.

            It’s particularly interesting to note how the practice of vetting and baptismal formation developed in the first few centuries actually. I was reading parts of the didache just before Christmas and was rather shocked by the depth and length of such a process in the early church.

          • Jock,
            Not sure how you come to that conclusion with (St) Paul. As far as I’m aware we don’t know about his water baptism. His life transforming conversion encounter with Christ, yes.
            As far as baptism in Acts is concerned we are looking at the spread of the Gospel to first generation believers, likely, largely, adults are we not?
            But in view of the subject we are at risk of floating off down a tributary.
            I stand to be corrected on this but there is nothing in the scripture to say that any of that particular household did not believe or were under an age (infants) incapable of belief. As you quote, the household, (whoever they were) believed.
            You may gather that I do not accept any view that infant baptism of itself confers salvation, reception into a community of believers, yes.
            Andrew Wilson, wrote somewhere that in his view pedo- baptists have a better theology of children, credo-baptists, a better theology of baptism.
            And just who is it who baptises in the Spirit and when? -yet another tributary..

        • There is. Paul baptised the household of Stepahnus. There is no indication whther they were all ‘believers’ or not.

          • In many cultures it will not have occurred to people to believe different from the head of the household or tribe. After all, on what basis would they do so?

            There was (my Bible college tutor assured us) a tribe he saw in Africa which converted en masse when the chief did so. Apart from one family. (Psst – those are the nonChristians.)

          • Thanks for mentioning that Penelope.
            Bearing in mind Paul’s gospel missions the probablity is that they were believers, though Paul’s primary was missionary motives were the proclamation and defence of the Gospel, bringing about belief in Jesus Christ, not baptism.
            Indeed 1 Corinthians 1:16 …”beyond that I don’t remember baptising anyone else.”

          • Penelope – I read it in the context of the rest of Scripture – Acts explicitly indicates that the others in the household were baptised (in the example of the Philippian jailer) – the commandment is `believe and be baptised’ (and is always presented in that order) so that’s how I take the household of Stephanus.

            Christopher – yes – absolutely right. Take, for example, Poland in 966 at the time of Miezko I. He came to believe and was baptised. What he believed was quite simple – he believed that Polish interests were best served through an alliance with the Czech state rather than the Germans – and this involved being baptised, for purely political reasons. Hence his baptism. Because of this political necessity, he brought many of his court to being baptised.

            To quote wikipedia,

            `He saw Poland’s baptism as a way of strengthening his hold on power, as well as using it as a unifying force for the Polish people. It replaced several smaller cults with a single, central one, clearly associated with the royal court. It would also improve the position and respectability of the Polish state on the international, European scene. The Church also helped to strengthen the monarch’s authority and brought to Poland much experience with regard to state administration. Thus, the Church organisation supported the state, and in return, bishops received important government titles (in the later era, they were members of the Senate of Poland).’

            I think that basically sums up what baptism is all about – and sounds remarkably similar to the African tribe that your tutor described.

  14. Ive started to reread Ian Paul’s Revelation (noticed it again in a prominent position in the last video lol) . In his words to one church, Jesus warns:

    “But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads My servants to be sexually immoral and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21Even though I have given her time to repent of her immorality, she is unwilling.

    22Behold, I will cast her onto a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds. 23Then I will strike her children dead, and all the churches will know that I am the One who searches minds and hearts, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

    Strong words. Ian believes this could have meant literal sickness or death for those involved, similar to Paul’s apparent understanding of the consequences of judgement in Corinth.

    Should we expect to see similar in the CoE, either generally or in particular individuals? Or do we believe such ‘judgements’ no longer apply?

      • To return to the job itself. What is the part that has been hived off to Ministry Division?
        Presumably it remains that any member of the CNC, indeed any member of Synod can put forward names?
        And there is still a Prime Minister’s Appointment Secretary despite the post Brown convention that the first name is chosen

    • Hi pC1
      The Lord marks every new venture/direction with a pile of rocks. Sometimes two piles. Good pile. Bad pile. Once marked, the true believer sees in his mind’s eye both way markers and knows which path to take. Ananias &Saphira’s pile need not be repeated any more than Revelation’s Jezebel would be repeated today. Modern Children of Jezebel will eventually find their place. Ther will be two piles in the end, one made of living stones, and one made of hundredweight boulders that gladly cover those who wish to flee the Lamb.

  15. There are quite a few vacancies for bishops at the moment and it will be interesting to see how many are appointed who take a conservative view on sexuality. My guess is few if any.

    It’s ironic that the evangelicals have most of the C of E’s remaining viable congregations but this dominance is not reflected in leadership. I think it will be increasingly difficult for them to remain within the C of E under what will be predominantly liberal leadership.

  16. I’ll try to express a position on this, which risks disapproval from all sides.

    Firstly, as I indicated earlier, there is clearly a very serious problem with the C. of E. if they have jobs with a job description of the one being discussed here. I’m sure that if the job advertisement (which didn’t exist) said `wanted – someone to proclaim the Word of Life, convicting people of their sins and bringing them to saving faith in Christ Jesus’ then Stephen Knott would never have applied and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    As I understand the job (from Ian Paul’s description), Stephen Knott will more-or-less be some sort of Dominic Cummings to Justin Welby’s Boris Johnson – so Justin Welby will have to be very careful if he organises any `Bring Your Own Booze’ parties in the gardens of Lambeth Palace.

    At the same time, the whole business of gay marriage comes up, because Stephen Knott is married to another man (albeit one who wears a kilt).

    On the one hand, I am a conservative Christian, I take the word of Scripture very clearly and Paul is extremely clear in Romans 1 about certain activities and what they signify.

    But …. let us try a thought experiment. Suppose that I were (extremely hypothetical) to turn my back on the Living God, so that He were to turn me over to my sinful desires. I can safely say that these would *not* include adultery (I am happily married and have absolutely no inclination to break the marriage vows – the idea is simply not attractive to me) and they would not involve carnal activities with other men. These things do not provide any temptation for me whatsoever; I cannot even begin to understand why other people might find them attractive. If the Good Lord were to turn me over to my sinful desires, then there are plenty of things that He *could* do, but these sorts of things are not on the list.

    We are given to understand – and I more-or-less accept this – that there are men who are (shall we say) the other way inclined and who have, in times past, ended up committing suicide as a result.

    While I feel that allowing gay marriage probably provides the *wrong* answer to this problem, I’d much rather see this than see the alternative, where people end up living sad and lonely lives, perhaps even driven to suicide.

    So – in short – I’m not too keen on joining in with the condemnation of people who have difficulties of life that I do not have and who have to deal with problems that I never had to deal with. I do not like gay marriage one bit, but it does seem to be a better solution to a very real problem than the alternatives.

    • “So – in short – I’m not too keen on joining in with the condemnation of people who have difficulties of life that I do not have and who have to deal with problems that I never had to deal with. I do not like gay marriage one bit, but it does seem to be a better solution to a very real problem than the alternatives.”

      The difficulty of course is that the bible does not leave very much space for ‘pastoral accommodation’ of things God condemns, as you yourself acknowledge. If an activity is contrary to the will of God, then it must be resisted and, for want of a better word here, challenged. Correspondingly, the thing we understand to be the will of God must be privileged, taught and upheld.

      • The rest of my comment appears to have gone missing, and so this reads as needlessly dogmatic. 😉

        The second part was to say that the line between challenge and accommodation is notoriously difficult. I do think we need to be better at not simply accommodating or tolerating, but actively welcoming same-sex attracted people into the church, and for it to stop being a barrier to ministry. In the case of human sexuality, the things we find explicitly condemned are not the ‘orientations’ (to use a modern distinction) but the activity.

        Maybe, just maybe, if we were less hypocritical we’d find it easier to navigate these challenges.

        • Mat, in response to an earlier comment you wrote about engaging with other paradigms this raises the question of how helpful it is to expose ourselves to ‘false teaching’ for I would consider some of the views expressed heretical.

          It may be necessary for research study to read false teaching Orr listen to a false teacher. However, to habitually do so, is dangerous. We may just begin to believe what they say. We need to guard our minds.

          You refer to the views of Penelope and Andrew as a different paradigm but they are better described in my view as false teaching or heresy. Paul would condemn such teaching. To us this can sound narrow-minded, judgemental and unloving. Yet such views would not have been tolerated in the early church.

          • Indeed Mat, (re John T’s comment)
            I’m not sure if I’ve seen any overt critique from you of their firmly held views, perhaps starting with a critique of the terms of reference or scope of Penelope’s PhD thesis, queer theory and underpinning philosophies, trajectories, and telelogical end points, goals, terminuses, deconstructions covered in obscurantist terminology, the intelligentsia’s new suit of clothes.
            I do appreciate their comments here, rare though they are on Ian’s scriptural articles. They reveal strength of opposition and fundamental intransigent beliefs, and their sources, of some of those in high places of influence in the CoE seeking progressive revisionism of scripture and the Christian faith.

        • Hi Matt,

          Concerning ‘Issues’ and subsequent pastoral guidance, I wrote above: “the clergy-laity oversimplification is mistaken because it is overly focused on the scope of legal restrictions that can be imposed, rather than exploring lawful moral measures that the Church could implement in support of the ideal.”

          It’s unlikely that an ethos actively welcoming same-sex attracted people will ever prevail until this focus on where the Church can or can’t use legal compulsion is replaced with an emphasis on what the Church can morally reinforce, persuade, model and encourage.

    • Surely, there are other alternatives beyond the binary of either affirming gay marriage or “living sad, lonely lives” and suicide.

      However, if a lay member of the CofE believes in that (false dichotomy), then they can enter a same-sex civil marriage and live happily ever after.

      What they can’t do is to expect the Church to accepting that, unless the CofE authorises same-sex weddings in church, the civil equivalent will just not be enough to prevent them from “living sad, lonely lives” and even contemplating suicide.

      • Jock,
        Another alternative, is to take the route you take and not take part in a church fellowship.
        A national uk Christian radio station presents itself as church even with communion on a Sunday.

      • David – I agree with this – and I personally think that same sex marriage is a non-starter. You are quite right – the church should not offer same sex marriage – and while it is probably good that the state offers civil partnerships, I fail to see how these can be seen as `marriage’ (an important feature of which is laying the basis for having children and bringing them up).

        I also believe that being gay (and gay people say they were born that way) is, frankly, a curse. I thank God that this is not anything that has ever been part of my experience. However it is coated, however much society may be tolerant and accepting, however much the church bends over backward and accepting, there is still something unsatisfactory – as far as I can see, they miss out on the best things that this life has to offer.

        You see it in the research dissertation of Penelope – they seem to think that their main problem is how society and the church deal with them; they think that if they can re-write Scripture and get the church to adopt their re-written version of Scripture, then all their difficulties of life will be over.

        The problem is that this misses the point and there is something much more fundamental.

        • Jock – The notion that the co-morbidities and high levels of stress experienced by LGBT people are largely caused by a lack of societal affirmation (i.e. minority stress theory) has never been proved.

          At best, we know that LGBTQ+ individuals report high rates of prejudice and discrimination (known as distal stressors) across their lifespans. We also know that self-hatred and poor self-regard (known as proximal stressors) can and does result from such prejudice.

          Furthermore, we know that LGBTQ+ people are at risk for long-term adverse mental health outcomes, such as increased rates of substance abuse, suicide attempts, depression, and anxiety.

          However, to date, minority stress studies have only demonstrated a correlation between those adverse LGBTQ+ health outcomes and societal prejudice.

          Of course, those who promote minority stress theory largely ignored a key adverse health outcome that’s the ‘elephant in the room’, i.e. the disproportionately higher STI rate among MSM (men having sex with men): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3334840/

          So, while prejudice and discrimination are always wrong, there’s simply no evidence that merely exercising the right to refuse to affirm, or even reject same-sex sexual expression as immoral and contrary to God’s will is harmful.

          Those who think otherwise are just peddling false guilt.

          • I’d just like to point out that there are no such entities as “LGBT people” or “LGBTQ+ people”. Those ridiculous initialisms (and their seemingly endless variations and extensions) do not denote any logical category. They have been concocted for the purpose of bullying/manipulating gay, lesbian and bisexual people into supporting the crackpot theories and unreasonable demands of aggressive transgender activists. Their effectiveness for that purpose is now, thankfully, diminishing – and none too soon.

          • Penelope – no – and I don’t intend to. Anton posted for us a link which is in the public domain – and I wasn’t misrepresenting anything that was written in that link. What I wrote was entirely fair in the context of this discussion.

          • Hi Chris

            It has taken a (very) long time, and changed in its metanarrative in the processs. But, I am working on my final revisions, as I write this. Yay!

          • Jock

            “Ian Paul – of course she is `exchanging the truth for a lie’. The whole bit that you quote actually looks like such gibberish that it is difficult to see that the sentences actually mean anything at all, but the general tone makes it clear that she stands defiantly in opposition to the Word of God.

            I don’t know what the motives are – either she is `straight’ and simply hates Christ and everything He stands for – and is using the gay issue to promote an agenda aimed ultimately at the disintegration of the church and Christianity – or else she is `gay’ and having difficulties living with it (and she considers part of her problem to be the clear and plain meaning of certain parts of Holy Scripture).

            Either way, this is a person who is at enmity with God – and who is living a sad life. I personally have no idea what sort of outreach is appropriate in cases like this.

            I do deplore the total waste of tax payers money to fund joke research, where people write joke dissertations – where they are clearly having a laugh and seeing what they can get away with.”

            That is not a comment on the content or methodology of the research proposal, it is a nasty and personal attack.
            Since you don’t appear to understand even the outdated research proposal I would shut up if I were you.
            And, don’t worry, none of your precious tax has been wasted. My research is entirely self funded.

          • Penelope – yes – on re-reading, I accept that what I wrote was out of order in this context and I apologise for it.

            It was out of order, because you were participating in the discussion – and this was no way to interact with someone involved in the discussion.

            I do understand sufficient of the proposal and methodology to get the general idea – I can’t say I disagree with anything I wrote, but putting it down in this way, in this context, was wholly wrong – and for this I apologise.

            As Mat Sheffield pointed out, your contribution here is valuable and I for one would not like to see it vanish.

          • I posted this above, but keep getting errors in posting today.
            I must support everything that Penny says concerning the slanderous words and gossip of Jock and Anton. Penny has now been forced to repost the atrocious and rude comments that Jock made concerning her.
            Penny has been an especially effective teacher of the New Testament, especially St Paul. Her work with individual parishes and groups of local churches was likewise inspirational.
            Quite why Ian permits the postings of those who don’t even have the courage to use their full name is beyond me. It enables those like Jock to go beyond rude and simply become quite sub-Christian as well. I agree with Penny that the only course of action is to pray for such people and then refuse to engage further.
            Penny I am so sorry you have had to be subject to such behaviour and I am quite disgusted that the comments you have been forced to highlight have remained. I see Jock has now apologised – although says he doesn’t disagree with anything he wrote!
            Let’s hope he and others may have the courage to use their real names in future and not hide behind anonymity.

  17. One of the first appointment with whom Knott deals is the replacement for Rod Thomas, who is retiring, as flying bishop to conservative evangelical parishes. That will be interesting.

    The real problem here is the Archbishops. I hope to see some plain speaking this summer at the Lambeth conference. Plain speaking which might galvanise evangelicals in this country to start the cleansing of the Church of England. If not, God will continue to cause it to decline.

  18. Commentators here mostly agree that a same-sex marriage is relevant to the postholder’s duties. They disagree only on the subsequent question as to whether it’s an asset or a hindrance.

    But the appointment process seems more than opaque. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s announcement says simply “Stephen was selected as Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments by an independent panel.” Members and friends of the C of E should feel deeply unsatisfied by this.

    • I agree wholeheartedly about the lack of transparency with the process of this appointment, and wrote a letter to the Church Times about it which you can read at https://anglicanmainstream.org/appointments-secretary-appointed/ if you don’t happen to be a CT subscriber.

      There are a few word from Stephen himself about his previous role at Lambeth Palace at https://www.churchofengland.org/about/careers/meet-some-us highlighting that his role there was primarily oversight of the operational functions (Finance, Records, Facilities and so on) which is substantively different to the decade or more of recruitment and HR experience that previous individuals in the Appointments Secretary role have had. His previous role was as a researcher in Parliament (the role he says he went into on work experience and remained for a decade in the article above) so no specialist HR/recruitment experience there either. It’s deeply disappointing.

      • Re my comment above. The job is not the same as Caroline Boddington’s. Part has been gives off to Ministry Division so Ian tells us. I have not seen anything about this. I would like to know more tbh

  19. People commenting on this should appreciate the following:
    1. Stephen Knott, a man in a “same-sex marriage” (a relationship that DISQUALIFIES a person from ordination in the Church of England) was appointed to the post of helping to identify persons for senior ordained posts in the C of E, in a process that was NOT advertised.
    2. The man who led this process is himself in a same-sex relationship.
    3. Welby and Cottrell knew this and approved the process.
    It is obvious from these covert actions that the point is to create sn ever more pro-gay (and actually gay) senior leadership in the C of E (even as the Church of England itself disintegrates).
    Who cannot see that this is actual spiritual warfare?
    We know yhef Welby appointed two partnered gay suffragan bishops (one male and one female) and there are numerous gay deans and archdeacons. The Knott appointment is about reinforcing this trend.
    (I agree with Anton ghat ghd PhD topic he referenced is pomo Sokalese and is incoherent if examined according to the rules of logic.)

    • Yes, it is more than time for gloves off against Welby and Cottrell. Welby is a liberal wolf in evangelical (HTB) clothing; Cottrell is, in Melvin Tinker’s description, the worst of both worlds – the authoritarianism of Catholicism and the theology of liberalism. Liberal bishops and clergy take a salary from churches for providing oversight while sowing doubt. That is parasitism on the body of Christ. Will evangelicals take to handing out leaflets, calmly showing the deviations from holy scripture, at the entrance to events which the Archbishops attend or speak at? Shaming them is a first step.

      • Anton: yes, some may imagine that Welby is an evangelical because of his HTB background (not in itself a guarantee of anything, however, given the intellectual weakness of HTB) but nothing in his utterances has indicated any theological depth. The former oil executive Welby is the ecclesiastical equivalent of the “boardroom man” who wants simply to be with the side that he thinks is winning – and in the western world, that is post-Christian social liberalism. Hence his gestures against Wonga and his Stakhanovite enthusiasm for closing churches during the pandemic. So Welby triangulates while all the time advancing the gay agenda “under the radar” through LLF, appointing gay suffragans and placing Knott in a position of power.
        Welby’s last ambition is to preside over a Lambeth conference before he retires, leaving a greatly reduced Church of England.

        • I’m not sure what is meant by “theological depth”. What I want in an ABC is a man (yes!) who is wise, a committed Christian, has the personality of a leader, and affirms the 39 Articles and means it.

          • That would be deep enough- but I mean someone who really understands the reformed faith and can apply this faithfully to modern culture and science and can fearlessly encourage faithless British people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as witnessed to in the New Testament and the Creeds.

        • Thanks also to Anton for the heads up on Billig’s book on social scirnce and writing, a thoughtful and non-polemicsl book that I am looking through now. It tackles a number of problens that have bugged me for a while in social science writing: reification, extreme use of the passive voice, obscurity – and I would add, a strange tentativeness in style that doesn’t aid comprehension and may conceal the lack of substantive things to say. Social science writing also needs to be more honest and direct about its presuppositions, commitments and aims.

    • James, replying to your post January 21 at 5:50. You write “2. The man who led this process is himself in a same-sex relationship.” As far as I’m aware we haven’t been told who led the process, therefore that part of your comment is inappropriate. If you know who led the process and if you have sufficient publicly-available evidence that that person is in a same-sex relationship, you should name a name. If not, your point 2 should be omitted.

      • My information on this comes from the latest Anglican Unscripted on YouTube. I don’t have a name but the two men who present this usually have inside information.

        • An allegation about an unnamed person from two men who “usually have inside information” doesn’t qualify as a fact that should carry weight in a public forum.

          • You are free to assign it no weight. Persons who trust Anglican Unscripted may do otherwise. A blog is not a peer-reviewed journal, after all.

  20. For those who don’t like the way the Church of England is being directed, there is always the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The big problem there is accepting the authority of the Pope over that of the Queen. How many would do that? Just saying. No offence meant and I hope none taken.

  21. And honest opinion is a defence to an allegation of defamation even a one where the law relating to defamation is assumed and asserted, not as defined in statute and Common Law precedents.
    Where heterodoxy may be honestly regarded as heresy and false in regard to orthodoxy in relation to scripture and the tenets of Christian belief and doctrine.

  22. And on the other side of the coin, I wonder what calling Jordan Peterson a “charlaton” amounts to when he is not “in the room”?

    • Geoff – so many questions – and no answers!

      I just looked up Jordan Peterson on wikipedia – had never heard of him before. My initial impression from the info on wikipedia is that – yes – he probably is a `charlatan’.

      By which I mean – my go-to book for psychology and philosophy is `Impostures Intellectuelles’ by Jean Bricmont and Alain Sokal, which I picked up in a bookshop in Paris back in 1997. I’d be surprised if it hasn’t been translated into English – and I think you would enjoy it. Their style is highly entertaining.

      Anyway, a very quick reading of the wiki page strongly suggested to me that this fellow clicks all the right buttons and falls firmly into the category that Jean Bricmont and Alain Sokal rip apart in the most delightful way.

      But – for the other issues you raise – it’s important to keep a respectful tone. All the issues and arguments had already been raised and discussed, we all understood what everybody else thought about things, before I put in the offending comment.

  23. Anton – thanks for your reply. Given what you have seen in the Church of England, may I ask you a personal question? Which is – why do you stick with the Church of England?

    Jumping ahead, I think I know the answer – there is some very good, deep scholarship, coming from C. of E. people, which is sometimes very helpful (for example C.K. Barrett, Richard Baukham – also, this blog – which has some very good and helpful material is done by a C. of E. man). I look at C. of E. and the C. of S. and, at their best, they produce fine, learned Christians – and other non-conformist denominations do not seem to hold a candle to them.

    Having said that – when the next revival comes (and it will), I just don’t see it coming via the Church of England (or Church of Scotland).

    I understand a lot more of my own background, following a link that SIMON posted on a previous comments section – about the Lowestoft revival in 1921. I forwarded the links to my mother – and she said yes – this looks very likely. In particular, the name of Jock Troup came up – and she remembers that her father had a lot of good things to say about Jock Troup – so, thanks to Simon, we now know where my grandfather’s faith came from.

    This revival had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the `established church’ – the Lowestoft revival led to the revival among the Scottish fishing communities and I know that this had nothing whatsoever to do with the Church of Scotland – what was going on in the fishermen’s meeting halls was completely separate – and, in fact, they were hostile towards the C. of S., which they saw as `middle class’ and a spiritual vacuum.

    With the greatest of respect to our blog host (Ian Paul) who really is an excellent witness for Christ, I’m afraid I simply don’t see any revival originating in the established church, C. of S. or C. of E..

    Furthermore, the document LLF that you were discussing with another person commenting here does not look like the sort of thing that is going to convict people of their sins and lead to the revival we had 100 years ago.

    I have no solutions to this, but I’d be interested to hear why you are sticking with the C. of E..

      • Perry Butler – ahh! thanks for that. OK – some of the things that I read in the books that he wrote make slightly more sense to me now!

      • Hello Steve,

        Ha! It’s a small world, isn’t it? My grandfather was down there every year from 1909 onwards (with a break from 1914 – 1918 when he joined the navy) Lowestoft or Grimsby – so if your great aunt went to the church where Douglas Brown was preaching, then it would be surprising if they didn’t meet.

        Nowadays, we seem to have problems with independence people asking `what have the English ever done for us?’ and now the answer is completely clear: they brought us to faith (Lowestoft revival of 1921 – which was the basis of a great revival among the Scottish fishing communities).

    • Jock,

      I moved from CoE to a free church 20 years ago but have many evangelical Anglican friends, often worship with them, and and retain a close interest in what goes on.

  24. What would Jesus say? As a Jewish believer that Jesus is the Son of God (just to confirm to any doubters that my beliefs are orthodox and Trinitarian) I believe he would be appalled by an awful lot that is going on in the Church of England.
    For those who use the Lectionary and have been reading Nehemiah 8 recently, how many have been weeping as they have heard the reading of the Law? For that matter, how many have been reading and explaining the Law to their congregations?
    After all, if Jesus could preach the whole gospel from what we refer to as the Old Testament, then surely its teachings on human relationships are still relevant today? Why did Jesus say nothing about human sexuality although homosexuality was rampant in His day? Surely it was because He spoke almost exclusively to Jewish people (a centurion and a Syro-Phoenician woman being notable exceptions), whereas Paul wrote almost exclusively to Gentiles and therefore had to educate them concerning what God approves and what He abhors?
    To me as a mere member of the laity it seems a strange kind of church hierarchy that appoints someone to a role who has openly admitted that he is in a 20-year relationship that would make it impossible for him to marry in the C of E. It also seems strange to me that someone in such a long-term relationship would want to work for a church that condemns the very relationship that he has with his partner. A sense of hypocrisy on all sides is what comes over to me most strongly.
    It is certainly causing me to question why, despite having moved around the country and been a member of 3 different PCCs over the years (I am currently a member of my local PCC) I should want to remain within the Church of England. Some other churches are willing to stick with God’s teaching rather than “allowing themselves to be tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (part of Ephesians 4:14) – will evangelicals all have to move to them in order to remain faithful to God? Perhaps the C of E’s real need is for the ministries mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers as such ministries are sorely lacking currently?

    • Hi Andy
      In my view it is too early to leave the CofE. An attempt needs to be made to reverse the trajectory away from believing and preaching the doctrines of the Articles and Homilies, with their terrible warnings and wonderful invitations and promises. Such an attempt could be led by the CEEC and supported by DEFs and Church Society, working through the synods to get a resolution voted on in General Synod on a new Declaration of Assent which could be mandatory annually for all Ministers. If that fails there could still be the possibility of an orthodox province arising from the possible ‘institutional separation’ which is a possible outcome of LLF.

      Phil Almond

  25. Interesting to note that Mr. Knott’s husband, Alastair Bruce, was chosen by Their Royal Highnesses, the Earl and Countess of Wessex to be one of their son’s godfathers. Looks like the Royal Family are, in this instance, in the vanguard of progress when it comes to the Gospel and living it out. Funny considering I’ve always thought they were stuck in the 1950’s, but at least they are ahead of the hierarchy of the CofE who still act as if we’re in the 19th Century. Not that either institution, Church or Monarchy, is remotely relevant to the people of the nation they claim to serve. Though I expect more people will miss the monarchy than they will the Church when they are both gone, if only for the showbiz celebrity effect.


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