Are we about to go to war?

That’s what Ruth Gledhill thinks.

The liberal fightback against Anglican conservatives and the Archbishop of Canterbury has begun. Open warfare is now declared.

Pro-gays in the Church of England are planning a survey of all LGBT clergy, in and out of the closet, in London, Southwark and throughout the Church. In the capital, they reckon, it is as many as 20 per cent. They are also intending to survey precisely how many gay blessings have been and are being done. Again, estimates put the number in the hundreds.

The full details are in a statement produced by a coalition of revisionist groups who, looking at the success of the liberal agenda in TEC, are planning to undertake the same guerilla campaign here in England. Their strategy, according to Ruth, is to run a project leading up to the General Synod elections of 2011 which will involve surveying priests involved in sexual relationships outside of marriage and other clergy who have conducted same-sex blessings. This is essentially an attempt to present a fait accompli to the Church of England and to position very clearly “facts in place”, the same tactic used by revisionists across the Atlantic.

But let’s take a look at what they’re actually saying to see the issues involved.

We have read and reflected upon the Archbishop’s response to the Episcopal Church of the USA “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future” and have a number of questions about the consequences of his response. We question whether the voices of those within the Church of England who are or who walk alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have been adequately heard within the recent discussions. These discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion, and we believe it is important in this context that the LGBT faithful and those who work alongside us speak as well.

I find this opening paragraph hard to believe. There have been numerous consultations, uncountable Diocesan and Deanery panels, seminars and discussions on the issue. Every time you go to a Church political event (e.g. Synod) the stands are there. If “discussions have gone on in various places around the Communion”, why do the same people who issued this statement normally cry that discussions haven’t gone on in this and that place around the Communion.

If anything, England (and the wider United Kingdom) is the place where the discussion has happened, but the real problem for Inclusive Church is that despite a generation of talking and listening, the conservatives haven’t changed their mind because no good Biblical argument has been presented to support endorsing, let alone blessing, homosexual relationships. All that the revisionist groups have to go on is “justice”, and as Rowan reminded them last week

However, the issue is not simply about civil liberties or human dignity or even about pastoral sensitivity to the freedom of individual Christians to form their consciences on this matter. It is about whether the Church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.

And while we’re on the subject of “whether the voices of those within the Church of England who are or who walk alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have been adequately heard”, let’s not bring up the issue of the revisionist activist who is one of the signatories to this statement, who objected to my presence at a secret but formally arranged mixed gathering to discuss these issues so much that I was dis-invited. Or what about the house magazine for one of the Anglican provinces that was perfectly happy to have a front page interview with Gene Robinson, but then when asked to do an interview with myself (or someone similar) suddenly battened down the hatches?

Who’s listening now?

I’m afraid this is simply the repeated double-speak of some in the revisionist camp, where listening actually means “hearing until you agree”.

We wish to reaffirm our loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the scriptures, our commitment to the Anglican way, and our celebration of and thanksgiving for the tradition and life of the Church of England. Above all, our concern is for the mission of the Church in our world. We have no doubt that the Church of England is called to live out the Gospel values of love and justice in the whole of its life; these values are intrinsic to the calling of Jesus Christ to follow him and it is out of this context that we speak.

Sounds visionary, but the problem with this is that once you look at where the revisionist agenda has taken hold and examine how “the mission of the Church” is actually going you get a completely different understanding. Attendance and membership numbers in TEC have collapsed, some dioceses (often the most liberal) are at the brink of numerical and financial collapse. Compare this to the ACNA (and in particular the Anglican Mission in America) where numbers are booming and plans for church plants are announced almost every week. As opposed to this TEC massacred their evangelism budget in Anaheim (but put loads into the pot for litigation).

When Bob Jackson wrote his survey of mission strategy effectiveness, The Road to Growth, he concentrated on the hard figures when assessing effectiveness. Any dispassionate assessment of the mission worth of the revisionist agenda would consign it to the evangelism graveyard, yet what Giles Fraser and Inclusive Church want us to do is to focus on nebulous values of “love and justice” while jettisoning any reference to holiness, the key factor in all historical revivals. For example, listening to these accounts of the Hebridean revival after the second world war, and ask yourself, “What was the key contributing factor for hundreds and thousands of men and women coming to the Lord – just love and justice or also holiness and the repentance of sinners”?

[audio:https://www.peter-ould.net/audio/hebrev.mp3]

While we acknowledge the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek a way forward for the Anglican Communion, we have grave concerns about the implications of his reflections in “Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future.” For example, we consider that references to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style”, and assertions that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” to be inconsistent with the Archbishop’s previous statements on committed and faithful same sex relationships (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4473814.ece) and are at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel. Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.

Now we get to the nub of the complaint of Inclusive Church – the Archbishop’s unequivocal condemnation of sexual relationships outside of marriage. The best that can be offered against it is an almost decade old correspondence between Rowan and a psychiatrist. So if Rowan held a revisionist view in the year 2000, what has happened since?

Well chiefly, Rowan became Archbishop of Canterbury and started moving in theological circles beyond the ivory towers of western academia. He encountered the Global South and the millions and millions of Anglican Christians who dwarfed the tiny remnant churches in the UK and North America. He discovered that the mind of the church was on global scale conservative and orthodox. His ecumenical discussions with Rome and the Eastern Orthodox reminded him that the revisionist perspective was absolutely minuscule, that almost everywhere outside of the small liberal talking shops of the Western Church the understanding of the biblical doctrine of sexual expression was very clear, that the witness of the Holy Spirit through his church was unambiguous.

But as we have discussed before, when listening leads you to a result not shared by the revisionist lobby that isn’t counted as listening – it’s bigotry.

The interesting thing about this letter from Inclusive Church and others is that most of the questions raised have already been answered by Rowan in his statement. For example take the last sentence above again

Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.

Where is this coming from? What do the words “we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual” actually mean? Can Giles Fraser or somebody else from the myriad of tiny organisations who have signed this letter tell us what things those people who are attracted to those of the same sex cannot do that those who are attracted to those of the other sex can do that are intrinsic to the spreading of the Gospel? Can they not preach the Word? Can they not pray for healing? Can they not exercise gifts of charity? Can they not, if ordained, celebrate and remember the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Eucharistic table?

And the answer to all these things is an abundant yes, but the one thing that they cannot do, like the rest of us, is enter into sexual relationships outside of marriage. There is no difference between all people – there are not those who can marry and who can’t marry. There are not those who can signify Christ and the Church in their sexual relationships and those who can’t (Eph 5:31-32). There are not those who have to carry their cross, and those who don’t, and today’s Collect reminds us of this very same thing.

Lord God almighty, who so kindled the faith of King Oswald with your Spirit that he set up the sign of the cross in his kingdom and turned his people to the light of Christ: grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit, may always bear our cross before the world and be found faithful servants of the gospel; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Unless sexual activity is intrinsic to the sharing of the good news then the Inclusive Church statement is clutching at straws in its attempt to link the need to act as our bodies incline us to to the Good News of salvation from our sinful and fallen natures which are in rebellion to God.

Rowan’s answer in his statement is equally as rejecting of this line of argument

4. The first is to do with the arguments most often used against the moratoria relating to same-sex unions. Appeal is made to the fundamental human rights dimension of attitudes to LGBT people, and to the impossibility of betraying their proper expectations of a Christian body which has courageously supported them.

5. In response, it needs to be made absolutely clear that, on the basis of repeated statements at the highest levels of the Communion’s life, no Anglican has any business reinforcing prejudice against LGBT people, questioning their human dignity and civil liberties or their place within the Body of Christ. Our overall record as a Communion has not been consistent in this respect and this needs to be acknowledged with penitence.

6. However, the issue is not simply about civil liberties or human dignity or even about pastoral sensitivity to the freedom of individual Christians to form their consciences on this matter. It is about whether the Church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.

Let’s continue with the Inclusive Church statement.

We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons – properly selected and ordained – and many lay people who are LGBT or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving. We know ourselves to be part of the church of God in England and we work, together, to bring about the reign of God in this part of God’s creation. We pray earnestly that the Church of England will continue to select, train, ordain and deploy LGBT people and enable them to exercise their calling from God in the Church of England.

Amen, Amen, Amen. But let’s read between the lines here. The scriptures and church tradition show very clearly that being attracted to people of the same sex isn’t even vaguely a bar to ministry, so most of this paragraph is a straw man of the highest order. It’s the act of sex, not the attraction to somebody or other that is the issue. We don’t see the modern language of gay and straight used once in the Bible, not because God was ignorant of such things (for that is the logical implication of saying that the inspired writers of the Scriptures were naive on this issue) but because these are not ways that we are meant to think about ourselves above other things. We are not defined by who or what we are attracted to, and more to the point, who or what we are attracted to cannot as Christians prescribe how we ought to live out our lives sexually. The issue is not the church and Christ condemning who we are, but rather asking the serious questions about what the love and holiness of God demands of us to do with who we are and how we feel.

Together, we reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry. We will continue to work towards liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive. We will seek to strengthen the bonds of affection which exist between those in all the Churches of the Anglican Communion who share our commitment to the full inclusion of all of God’s faithful. We will also continue to work closely with our brother and sister churches, especially those with whom we have mutual recognition of orders such as the Nordic churches.

We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues. We find the notion of a “two track communion” flawed in the way that the Act of Synod is flawed, and we commit ourselves to continuing the effort to find ways forward through which those who disagree profoundly on this and on other issues can continue to celebrate their common membership of the Church of England and unity in Christ.

Why the Nordic churches? Because they are the ones who are pushing ahead the agenda of blessing same-sex relationships. This last sentence is a clear challenge to the House of Bishops who have, through the Faith and Order Advisory Group, warned in no uncertain terms the effect that the Church of Sweden would have on the Porvoo Agreement if it pushed ahead with its plans.

The revisionists will make ties with liberals in North America (which completely undermines any criticism of ACNA that they may have and also implies a direct criticism of the TEC leadership who are trying to litigate against similar practices in their jurisdictions) and they will push forward for “liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive”, i.e. same-sex blessings.

This is a direct challenge to the Episcopal authority of the Church and nothing but a clear and firm response from the House of Bishops to it will do. Essentially, the revisionists like Giles Fraser have looked across the Atlantic, seen the effect that “facts on the ground” and a weak and impotent House of Bishops have produced and fancy their chances here. They are quite blatantly preparing to take on the church hierarchy, to challenge them to either do something about their gross misconduct (for that is what a clergyman living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage is doing) and to get them to either “martyr” them or cave in. They will literally out themselves (and others) and then wait to see what happens.

So what is our response as those who are faithful to the Word of God? Well let me suggest that first of all we should adopt that most British of virtues, patience. Let’s take a deep breath, let’s pause and let’s all reflect on what is about to come upon us and only then let’s draw up the battle plans, because unless we have a way to avoid this fight (Sun Tzu’s golden rule) we need to be prepared for what is to come.

One last thought – I was reminded this morning of a fellow Austrian countryman who, when at the height of his powers, thought that he could steamroller his way through the opposition to produce facts on the ground (or facts on the Lebensraum in this case). In reality, he awakened a sleeping giant which, through the struggle of half a decade and millions of lives ended up trampling all over him. The moral of that story (and that of the French Emperor before him) is that if you’re planning to go to war, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and never, never underestimate the strength of the forces lined up against you. That’s a lesson that both sides in this upcoming struggle might want to reflect upon, because “every battle is won before it is fought”.

Interesting times.

Posted in Church of England, Heresy, Holiness, Sexuality Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • >>>Well chiefly, Rowan became Archbishop of Canterbury and started moving in theological circles beyond the ivory towers of western academia. He encountered the Global South and the millions and millions of Anglican Christians who dwarfed the tiny remnant churches in the UK and North America. He discovered that the mind of the church was on global scale conservative and orthodox

    ++Rowan is an intelligent man. I seriously doubt that he was unaware that there are so many conservative/evangelicals; it’s surely more probably that he didn’t think that (e.g.) the Religious Right was right or holy. Which it isn’t. You don’t have to be a raving liberal to see that that the sensiblity that gave us Falwell, Sarah Palin, Reagan’s AIDS “policy”, assaults on science (creationism) etc is hardly a light to the rest of the communion generally or the C of E specifically. If ++Rowan agreed and agrees with the arguments of Jeffrey John but considers the pew-filling implications of the growth of the anti-gay orthodox churches more important then that is regrettable, and surely indicative of intellectual dishonesty. There are (thank God) still more Catholics in the world than evangelicals, but , given how many ignorant papal teaching on things like birth control, I’m not sure if that’s overwhelming proof of the popularity of “conservative” Christianity either.

    • Hi Ryan,

      What I’m trying to say with this paragraph is that it was his much heightened engagement with the rest of the Communion, which combined with his high view of catholicity that has led to this development.

      The question for people exploring what Rowan thinks is how much of this is him speaking as AB of C and how much is him privately changing his perspective. I guess we’ll only know that once he leaves the office.

  • Jill

    Interesting times indeed! Thank you for this, Peter.

    I notice that WATCH (Women and the Church) has been added to the list of organisations supporting this Joint Statement, according to Thinking Anglicans.

    One glaring omission, though, is the liberal Affirming Catholicsm, Rowan’s own baby (set up in 1990 by him and his friend Jeffrey John, with Frank Griswold, Richard Holloway et al) with the twin aims of furthering ordained women and gays to the episcopacy. Now, a curious thing – when I checked out their website, practically all reference to LGBT issues had been removed. Apart from the odd mention of ‘inclusiveness’ and Jeffrey John’s book in the resources section, there is hardly a clue to this objective. It has even disappeared from ‘our aims’ and ‘who we are’. At one time the site was awash with LGBT issues. And practically all mention of Rowan Williams has been cleared out, even from ‘our history’.

    I feel this is highly significant, but cannot quite fathom out why.

  • winston

    Peter – I wonder if you thrive too much on conflict. It is certainly a tendency of the stream of Christianity that you belong to. Your post contains so many words which do not do justice to the subtleties of what is going on at the moment in the life of the Church of England. It is all about polarities for you, us and them, the saved and the damned.

    I find you last paragraph though the most perplexing. To make any association whatsoever with the rise of Fascism and the ensuing events and our present ecclesial problems is extremely strange. This is a petty battle about power within a small Christian denomination, waged by a small number of clergy and theologians with a few laity throwing their weight around. The average punter in the pew does not care, and the average member of British society doesn’t even notice. Why should they? There is too much important stuff going on in their lives for them to even begin to think about the theological nuances of issues like this. When I make house visits, baptise babies, bury the dead, hold people’s hands in hospital, give them last rites – do they wonder about my sexuality, do they want to discuss Greek words. No, they are just glad that someone is there, someone cares, someone loves them. Maybe Peter, if both of us spent more time doing those sort of things, giving every hour we could to such pastoral encounters and spent last time waging smoke and mirror wars, the kingdom would surely come a lot quicker.

    • Peter – I wonder if you thrive too much on conflict.

      I believe that if you have been reading me for long enough you would know that unlike some conservatives I am hesitant in wanting conflict. It strikes me though that it is very clearly Inclusive Church and their allies who want conflict at this point. The one who stands up and says “We will openly and blatantly ignore orthodoxy and orthopraxis” is the troubler of Israel, not the one who prepares for battle as the en-slaving army masses on the hill tops.

      The average punter in the pew does not care, and the average member of British society doesn’t even notice.

      I think this is the underestimation of the revisionists this time Winston. The reference to Hitler and Napoleon was nothing to do with comparing the revisionists to either of them (as if after all this time reading me you would assume that was my intention) and everything to do with pointing out that when we assume an easy victory over a light-weight opponent we may be about to make a huge miscalculation.

      • winston

        Peter – my point was the that your use of the association in relation to the battle made the issue seem far too important. I stick by that. How many pastoral visits Peter do you make outside of the congregation? The bulk of my work is with the non-churched: tonnes of funerals, lots of hospital visits – what about you? They just do not believe that this issue is important.

        • I find that for the un-churched, when they raise it it is hugely important for them and they tend to be pretty conservative on the issue.

          But that’s just hearsay – it would be good to actually hear personal testimonies instead.

  • Sue

    I hesitate to contribute to this thread- but here goes! I did want to take issue with your assertion that LGBT voices have been listened to adequately, I don’t think they have. It may be true that, “every time you go to Synod the stands are there” but the people prepared to be out and visible at those stands only represent a tiny proportion of LGBT people in the pews and in ministry lay and ordained. As for “Diocesan and Deanery consultations and panels” – well, I’ve been to one and that was enough! Not a single openly gay voice was present and the whole thing was better described as , “a talking about process”. In other words, heterosexual people discussed LGBT people very freely and often with very little or no knowledge of the lives of those involved or of the pain and hurt that can be involved in being gay and Christian.

    Many lay people and clergy are invisible or closeted within the church because they don’t feel able to be open. I know of many people in same sex relationships who have found it hard to find a church or who have left church going altogether because of the difficulties they encounter because of their sexuality, relationships or sympathies (I have left one church myself.)

    I note that you don’t feel you have always been “listened to”, so surely you can understand the same happens to the “other side” as well? We are not very good actually at listening to each other.

    • Gregory

      My experience of deanery and diocesan consultations is different to yours Sue. I rather think that the listening process has happened – plenty of people have been heard and personal testimonies shared – but you probably dismiss this because it has not engendered a shift in the mainstream conservative views of members of the relevant synods.

      • Sue

        I’m really not dismissing anything! I attended a discussion group shortly after the Jeffrey John matter and there wasn’t a person there who identified as gay or bi. It was all “they” and “them”, not “us”, “we” or “I”. I know nothing of whether it engendered a shift in the views of the members of the relevant synods or not. I am not a synod member and at that time had never been to synod. I have been to synod since and felt “listened to” there and that the majority of people were accepting and affirming. I don’t know if that means that there has been a shift in the past five years or so? However, in my diocese, there doesn’t seem to have been any PCC or deanery events to facilitate the listening process since the ones around 2003/4.

        I suppose this just shows that local experiences are different.

        • Here’s the best SEC blogger (and the only clergyman I know of who’s been in Italian Vanity Fair) , Kelvin, on the SEC listening day :

          http://www.thurible.net/20080503/the-listening-day/

          Peter contributes to the blog post’s comments.

          • Sue

            Thanks Cerebusboy, very interesting and I read Peter’s comments. I do think it can be difficult for those who are gay but celibate, or gay or bi and married to have a voice or be included , actually.

            • Let me just second what Ryan wrote – Kelvin is a brilliant blogger. Always straight to the point, analytical, knows what the score is.

  • winston

    Peter – I read too quickly, you have written a little gem:

    “We will openly and blatantly ignore orthodoxy and orthopraxis” is the troubler of Israel, not the one who prepares for battle as the en-slaving army masses on the hill tops.’

    A dose of reality please! When did you ever see a group of Christians amount to an en-slaving mass? I have enough problems getting people to come to church on a Sunday morning, getting them to amass anywhere, especially on a hill would take years of planning, numerous PCC meetings, a few subcommittees and these are supposedly the foot soldiers of the revisitionists??!!

    • Had to rescue that little gem from the spam trap. After a night of viciousness elsewhere against me, that made my morning.

      • Sue

        What viciousness, Peter?

        Feel free to tell me to mind my own business if I am being nosy this morning:)

        • Stick “Father David Heron” into Google and go and see what the worst of the revisionists are like.

          • Sue

            Ouch! Nasty! Unfortunately the internet does spawn this kind of thing. For the majority of contributors it is more about people entertaining themselves and reinforcing each others opinions than something that has you, as a real, living,complex individual, in mind.If you can take my advice, rise above it, let it go and don’t resort to anything legal. I know that is easier said than done.

            I personally think criticism of “ex-gay” therapy is legitimate and needed ( you know my views) but when people need to attack someone’s personal life, it isn’t acceptable, it is unchristian – but really the problem lies with the person making the attack.

            • I think it’s perfectly valid to critique what people say and think but, as you say, when you descend to the level of personal abuse you completely undermine any case you may have.

              What amazes me is that he can’t see what damage he is doing to the priesthood.

              • Jill

                Wear it as a badge of honour, Peter! The more vitriol this ghastly man pours upon you, the more of a threat you are to him, because he cannot come up with one single decent argument to refute anything you have to say.

                No, I know this isn’t the right attitude, but really, he has the nerve to call himself ‘father’. What father would treat his children in this way? He is a disgrace.

  • Brand

    “Rowan is an intelligent man.”

    No he’s not. He’s one of the most foolish men in the world. And why?

    For one – he’s a man who trusts himself more than the Bible and Christ. That was Eve’s great prideful sin, and Rowan has fallen in the same way. The result will be a crack-up in the giant branch of Christianity he was entrusted to shepherd. He will go down in history as the man who most brought about that crack-up.

    But more than that – Rowan is a man who has absolutely no understanding of the deep things. He does not understand well why millions are leaving ECUSA, or why the CoE only draws a couple of percent of the British to church each weekend. He does not understand why men will not bring their sons to a church in which sodomy (a sick and filthy act) is celebrated, and their sons and daughters to a church where male and female have no intrinsic meaning or purpose. He does not understand the real Christian churches grow by calling people to heroic virtue – not to their lust and pride. There are many such other things he does not understand, but it would take too long to write them all down.

    In every way, he is a foolish, dimwitted man who has stood by while sin and depravity are celebrated in the churches he was meant to lead – and while millions of real Christians leave.

    • Sodomy? You mean gross inhospitality and/or desiring to gang rape some angels? Hmm, don’t think I know of any liberal churches that would defend such a thing. Am assuming you don’t mean “anal sex” given that lots of hetereosexual people do that – in fact, even the august conservative/evangelical periodical Christianity Today says that it is acceptable in marriage.

      Thanks, Brand, for giving the game away. I find comments like yours, or a trip to the sewer environs of Stand Firm etc, a useful reminder that, irrespective of the amount of “evangelicals” in the world, those who care about justice and fairness and integrity should stand up and be counted. . Racism and misogyny used to be (still are) pretty popular too, but there are greater concerns than filling the pews , albeit ones that ++Rowan is choosing to ignore.

      • Brand

        “Thanks, Brand, for giving the game away. I find comments like yours, or a trip to the sewer environs”

        Blah, blah, blah. Like I was saying, real, strong, normal and loving fathers aren’t gonna take raise their sons where sodomy (and you know exactly what I mean) is celebrated. It is sick and filthy and also a complete repudiation of one’s manhood. It’s a repudiation of God’s great reproductive gift to us, and the design of our bodies, which is meant for marriage between man and woman – like giving the finger to God. That’s why is universally condemned in the Bible (an abomination) and through Christ (who tells us that sexual immorality of ANY sort “defiles” us). And male-male sodomy is one of the most defiling acts there is between humans.

        Heck, here in the US, where I live – you can go to the big St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York City, and you’ll find old ladies and homosexuals. There are virtually no families or children whatsoever. Why? They’ve been removed to safety by their fathers and mothers – who are NOT going to have sexual perversion held out to them as good and normal and Godly and healthy.

        But apart from that, cerebusboy, you yourself have characterized what I (accurately) talked about as a trip to the sewer. I agree with you! We’re talkin’ about sewer acts. YOU said so yourself. We agree!

        Last, cerebusboy – I urge you to consider what the Bible and Christ actually teach us – that we are to fully love each other – where that love works to bring us all to being like Christ. A true Christian seeks in love what is truly best for the other, where that best is to become like Christ – and to be able to enter heaven one day. There is no right to sex in the Bible. We are all called to chastity, and to treat each other as true brothers and sisters (chastely) – unless we unite our souls and bodies (in the proper way), so as to enable bringing human life into the world, and to properly and best care for it.

        ECUSA’s dying (and rapidly too), and so will the CoE, if it follows down the road of perversion and sin and pride and idiocy.

        Homosex is a repudiation of God’s gift of life and of our bodies and of true love. It is something fit for a dark and fetid place. You don’t want to go there.

        • I don’t live in the US. Studies show that most people here (the young especially, who unless they’re all turned gay by evil liberal indoctrination, will go on to have children and form said families) are pro-gay and are frankly astonished and disgusted that the Church can still hold such discriminatory attitudes. Not all gay people have anal sex you know – incidently, if your disgust at “sodomy” is the basis of your objection to gay people then can I assume you’re ok with lesbians at the altar?

          And the prostate is the male gspot. Thought you guys were all about the “natural law”?

          • Brand

            “And the prostate is the male gspot.”

            Like I said twice above – and as Cerebusboy proves exactly my point – no loving father would EVER bring his sons to a place (church or otherwise), where someone would tell them something perverted and sick like that.

            That’s exactly why ECUSA is dying.

            And cerebusboy – my objections to homosexuality are much broader than the consideration of what the majority of male homos do – which is play with each others rectums. God made our bodies to be used in a certain (and beautiful) way – and in a way that creates new human life. If we insist on depraving our bodies by doing what God tells us point blank to NOT do, we should not expect horrific consequences both in this life and with regard to the next.

            As for homos going after each the way they do – it’s just that it’s easiest to see right there how sick and depraved this whole movement is – and easiest to see how such would be condemned by a loving God who IS OUR FATHER.

            Finally, as for young people in the US – we’ve had a national drop of 9% of those who support homo ‘marriage,’ in the last couple of months (for a variety of reasons). In the old days (the last decades), most people were polite in discussing homosexuality. Most parents didn’t like to mention it much to their kids. Now that homo activists have come after their kids (in churches, in schools, in the media), they’re not so polite anymore, and they’re starting to fight. Most people don’t hate homosexuals, and are willing to tolerate whatever they decide to do to themselves. BUt they won’t tolerate their kids being indoctrinated and psychologically abused and being told horrific lies about all sorts of things. Such IS evil – and good Christians will not tolerate such evil being done to children.

            And by the way, thank God (and I mean that) we don’t live here in the US in some sort of PC tyranny like you do in ‘Great’ Britain, where the police investigate you if you offend a queer.

            We’re a free country; you’re not. I assure you, millions upon million of Americans are disgusted and angered by the homo movement.

            • >>>“And the prostate is the male gspot.”

              —

              Like I said twice above – and as Cerebusboy proves exactly my point – no loving father would EVER bring his sons to a place (church or otherwise), where someone would tell them something perverted and sick like that.

              It’s a medical fact. Sorry if the truth offends you. But I’m not surprised.

              >>>And by the way, thank God (and I mean that) we don’t live here in the US in some sort of PC tyranny like you do in ‘Great’ Britain, where the police investigate you if you offend a queer.

              Ha! Do you think Peter is typing his evangelical/conservative blog from a jail cell? I applaud your live and let live attitude. If you’re such a “free” country then why do you want to curb the civil rights of gay people? After all, you think they’re all going to hell anyway – so what do you care? Isn’t free speech and equal rights for everyone one of the markers of the Shining City on the Hill?

              >>>>>>God made our bodies to be used in a certain (and beautiful) way – and in a way that creates new human life.

              So do heterosexual couples who use birth control similarly disgust and offend you?

              • Brand

                cerebusboy –

                Pray to God to help you live a Godly and holy life. If you really ask for and want that it will be given to you and you will find far more joy there than in being a woman to another man.

                Find your manhood. Be a man.

                Brand

                • This isn’t about me! I never said I was even gay, never mind confessing to being a bottom! But everyone should certainly pray that God would help them live a Godly and Holy life.

                  • Brand

                    “But everyone should certainly pray that God would help them live a Godly and Holy life.”

                    I’m glad, cerebusboy – that we can agree on that.

                    Brand

                • find far more joy there than in being a woman to another man

                  I think there’s a limit to what I’m prepared to let you say to Ryan and you just reached it. Please moderate your language or I will have to ban you.

          • And the prostate is the male gspot.

            Oh come now Ryan. The prostate works as a G-Spot for all males, regardless of the sex of the person they’re having sex with. It’s not a proof of the validity of homosexual activity in and of itself. Plenty of wives have discovered how to access said prostate and husbands up and down the land are truly grateful.

            I think that’s about as far as I’ll go on that one.

            • Sue

              Please – tell us more! Isn’t there only one way to access the prostate ( other than through surgery?)

              • No (to both your questions).

                While I’m quite happy to talk about sex here, some things stay beneath the bed covers.

                • Sue

                  A wise decision, I think

            • I know! And I don’t know any liberals who would make such an argument.But it does show the flaws in many “natural law” approaches. Presumably female lips are somehow self-evidently designed for fellatio but male lips are not. Wouldn’t you agree that (as long as its within the confines of marriage) particular sexual acts are at the discretion of both partners, rather than believing that there is some sort of list of acts that God approves of?

              Terms like bugger and sodomite, that use “homosexual” as a synonym for “someone who engages in male-male anal sex” are very stupid,and deserving of ridicule.

              • Wouldn’t you agree that (as long as its within the confines of marriage) particular sexual acts are at the discretion of both partners, rather than believing that there is some sort of list of acts that God approves of?

                Yes. The things my wife and I enjoy doing are probably not the same things that other married couples enjoy doing, but I don’t see a specific list of proscriptions on what constitutes healthy marital sex.

                Terms like bugger and sodomite, that use “homosexual” as a synonym for “someone who engages in male-male anal sex” are very stupid,and deserving of ridicule.

                I think they’re certainly naive. I try to steer clear of ridicule (unlike some).

                • Sue

                  Sorry to get explicit ( I’m not doing it for its own sake), but consider the following scenarios:

                  – a gay married man receives penetrative anal sex from his wife ( her using an aid, obviously) while he fantasises about having sex with men – as most gay married men do anyway.

                  – a heterosexual couple watch a movie involving simulated rape or sexual violence, they are fully aware that people who get involved in such industries are often from damaging or abusive backgrounds.

                  – a heterosexual couple go “doggging” but it remains voyeuristic or exhibitionist, so there is no adultery involved.

                  – a man and his wife look at lesbian porn together or at what they consider to be erotic pictures involving children( which wouldn’t infringe the law of the land) because it turns them both on.

                  Are all the above morally acceptable and entirely OK in Christian relationships? They are all “within the confines of marriage”, and are “at the discretion of both partners.”

                  I seem to remember you once arguing that for a same sex couple to live together in a celibate relationship would be wrong. How could that be offensive to God when all the above would be acceptable? – or even a source of delight to him?

                  • Oh you know me, always game to do the dodgy stuff…

                    – a gay married man receives penetrative anal sex from his wife ( her using an aid, obviously) while he fantasises about having sex with men – as most gay married men do anyway.

                    I really haven’t met anybody for whom that scenario fits, and you preloaded the question with a supposition, so I think I’ll skip.

                    – a heterosexual couple watch a movie involving simulated rape or sexual violence, they are fully aware that people who get involved in such industries are often from damaging or abusive backgrounds.

                    No, because rape and sexual violence are immoral.

                    – a heterosexual couple go “doggging” but it remains voyeuristic or exhibitionist, so there is no adultery involved.

                    No, because the sexual act has been designed to be intimate. The exhibitionism involved in dogging obviously implies an issue with self esteem.

                    – a man and his wife look at lesbian porn together or at what they consider to be erotic pictures involving children( which wouldn’t infringe the law of the land) because it turns them both on.

                    No, because sex between two unmarried people is immoral, so to attempt to be turned on by it is to consciously endorse such an act.

                    That enough to be getting on with?

                    • Sue

                      Well, if your answer is NO to them all – you DON’T think particular sexual acts are at the discretion of both partners within the confines of marriage ( and you said you did.)

                      I’ve met a gay married man for whom a big issue in his marriage was that he could only have sex with his wife through thinking about men. It caused him a lot of anguish, his wife however didn’t want the relationship to become celibate and in the end they both were able to live with it and continue to have a sexual relationship. ( I’m not saying that they used sex toys or anal stimulation but I have heard that some therapists will suggest this as a way to help gay- straight relationships work.)

                      What I am really pointing out to you is that sex does involve its grey areas – as life does generally. What to you might be “healthy marital sex” might, to another person, seem perverted or unnatural.

                      You know, I once knew a man argued that the only way that it was acceptable (to God) for a woman to have an orgasm was through penetrative sex. Anything else (including ANY direct clitoral stimulation) was, he said, “unnatural”. I felt so sorry for any poor woman who agreed to marry him!

                      I wonder if he saw God as a man ( obviously!) with a clipboard – “yes, that orgasm was good and holy, that one, no, afraid it didn’t qualify…”

                      Anyhow, that’s enough smut from me! Don’t you get to talk about some fascinating subjects on some vicar’s weblogs? Are your PCC meetings anything like this…

                    • The fantasy question is interesting, though. From my reading of evangelical sites on the topic, I understand that BDSM is probably unChristian ( as the pain=pleasure view of sex is unChristian), sex toys per se are permissable (as long as they are an *aid* – and not a substitute for – “real” penetration). However I’ve read that fantasy is only ok if its of one’s spouse. That seems unrealistic to me. A Christian husband could embrace fantasy-based masturbation telling himself that he could stick to images of his wife; but isn’t it (more than?) likely that images of other attractive women (from sexualised TV and movies – Megan Fox etc) would creep in? I honestly don’t see how someone could embrace sexual fantasies but still assume that they could control them in the heat of passion (or at least lust).

                    • Philip Cole

                      Oooh, this is getting tasty! Sue and Peter, I’m amazed no-one has yet raised the case of wife who penetrates her husband using a strap-on-dildo. (Not that I’m aware of people who indulge in such practices, harumph!)

                      Any more hypothetical cases out there?

  • Pingback: COMMON CAUSE? | Midwest Conservative Journal()

  • James Noble

    Wow. Right down into the sewer… Anglican Christianity, comment, and love…
    All we need is Sinner from the MCJ to come over and damn everyone!

    Well let me suggest that first of all we should adopt that most British of virtues, patience.

    Well I’ll agree with that. And point out that, from my perspective at least, Rowan Williams’ leadership throughout this entire mess has primarily embodied this virtue, patience, and another virtue, forgiveness.

    The question for people exploring what Rowan thinks is how much of this is him speaking as AB of C and how much is him privately changing his perspective. I guess we’ll only know that once he leaves the office.

    Well yes, except that he has explicitly said that “The Body’s Grace” was him speculating as an academic theological, but that as a bishop – and moreso as ABC – he must reflect the settled view of his church until it changes. Make of that what you will: I at least think that he still believes what he wrote in “The Body’s Grace” but that – as he said there – the theological work has not been done, and it has not yet been accepted worldwide.

    Then again, I am reminded that, in the CoE:

    Laypeople may engage in homosexual acts, civil unions, etc according to their conscience – and it is against the discipline of the CoE to deny them communion
    Such laypeople may be – and are – ordained at least to the priesthood. As such they are expected to respect the official position of the church. Such respect does not prevent them from living with their partners, entering in civil unions, nor their partners receiving spousal benefits or attending clergy spouse functions in the CoE
    Private, pastoral responses to homosexual unions are also clearly permitted – while full public celebrations are not. This is also clear from the ABCs statement: where you quote the Church is free to recognise same-sex unions by means of public blessings that are seen as being, at the very least, analogous to Christian marriage.. In other words: private blessings, “pastoral” responses, or public responses that are not analogous to Christian marriage are clearly outside the ambit of the ABC’s statement.

    So this is not a “Victory” for the conservative/evangelical part of the church. It is, I think, an expression of the quintessential Anglican virtue – what StandFirm calls “fudge”: the aim of holding together all the streams of a very broad church within which all expressions of the Christian faith, from liberal to conservative, charismatic to catholic, can find expression.

    • I at least think that he still believes what he wrote in “The Body’s Grace” but that – as he said there – the theological work has not been done, and it has not yet been accepted worldwide.

      I think that if you asked him today whether he still agreed with everything he wrote in “The Body’s Grace” you would get a very cagey answer. At least, that’s what I got when I asked him that.

  • Fr Mark

    I think you really misunderstand British attitudes to homosexuality here, and have no comprehension of how radically they have changed in the last 15 years; a massive social change comparable to that which happened regarding the place of women in society in the 1960s. The taboo on gay relationships is utterly gone now, and will not return. The Church of England is the English middle class at prayer, or at least a section of the English middle class, whose family and friends are, in many cases, in socially-approved gay relationships. Even in Conservative Evangelical churches, the young people do not share the anti-gay attitudes of most of the men a generation older in leadership positions, and there is no likelihood at all of them changing their mindset in that area: in fact, being cool about gay people is one of the defining ways to be a young person in Britain at the moment, in contrast to angry old men who don’t have a handle on the issue. It is a completely pointless exercise for people in the C of E to fight the onward rise of equality and aceptance for gay people.

    C of E leaders cannot, without hypocrisy, take the line of “we have to stand against society’s values”: they are part of the opinion-forming and legislative process (in the House of Lords). If civil partnerships have been voted through, including by bishops, in the Lords, then they must accept the consequence, which is that proper pastoral support (in the form of blessings) must be offered to people entering them. You cannot say “we only want to be part of society and vote on laws for everyone when we get our way, and then opt out when we don’t”!

    In my English deanery of 13 parishes, we were 10 in favour of Jeffrey John’s appointment to Reading when it was discussed, and only 3 against. That would be a typical proportion in the C of E: Conservative Evangelical parishes may sometimes (not necessarily, though) have large attendance, but they are a small proportion of the total number of parishes, and, in any case, increasingly internally divided over this issue. Intelligent Conservative Evangelicals realise it is not a battle they can win, and that it does not make them look good to anyone outside to be fighting it. Beyond Conservative Evangelical circles, you don’t find anyone much who is against equality for gay people, in my experience.

    What we have is a small vociferous anti-gay industry in the C of E, but they are all mouth and no trousers, and everyone else is becoming increasingly embarrassed by them – look at how the wilder remarks by Graham Dow, Tom Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali have been widely repudiated by ordinary Anglicans. To be anti-gay in England and in the Church of England is now an extremist position, and there is a fundamntal dislike of extremism in the British DNA.

    • Philip Cole

      Fr Mark

      Key point by Peter above …

      “So if Rowan held a revisionist view in the year 2000, what has happened since? Well chiefly, Rowan became Archbishop of Canterbury and started moving in theological circles beyond the ivory towers of western academia. He encountered the Global South and the millions and millions of Anglican Christians who dwarfed the tiny remnant churches in the UK and North America. He discovered that the mind of the church was on global scale conservative and orthodox”.

      I have no doubt that what you describe in Britain is entirely true, and that many or the majority of young people in the CofE are ‘cool about gay people’. However, as Rowan Williams has pointed out in his ‘Reflections’: ‘This is not a matter that can be wholly determined by what society at large considers usual or acceptable or determines to be legal’.

      More to the point, revisionists and liberals in the CofE and ECUSA are out of step with the vast majority of the Anglican Communion and with other orthodox Christian churches worldwide. This excerpt from an earlier post of mine:

      ‘The percentage of Christians in Europe and North America (E&NA) has fallen from around 63% in 1960 to around 40% in 2000. Changes in the proportions of evangelicals in E&NA have fallen even more drastically, from around 67% in 1960 to around 27% in 2000.

      So, simply put, this says what we all should know.

      1) That traditional ‘broad church’ Churchianity (of the type epitomised by the good old CofE and numerous TV charicatures of wet liberal Anglican vicars from ‘All Gas and Gaiters’ onwards) is in serious and terminal decline.
      2) That evangelical Christianity in E&NA has a reduced influence on the surrounding culture as overall religious belief in E&NA has fallen (except for Islam). Evangelical Christianity in E&NA is however now more influential within the Church, as its decline has been less steep than liberal Chrisitianity.
      3) Evangelical Christianity is exploding in the two thirds world, including in countries that are developing rapidly, taking a greater share of the world economy and where per capita incomes are rising. (Hmm, does God bless countries as they turn to Him, and withdraw His blessing as they turn from Him. Perhaps we’ll not go there!)

      A case in point is China where, under severe persecution, the number of Christians has risen from almost nothing at the time of the Communist take over in 1949 to more than 91.5 million in 2006 (7% of the population) growing at more than 7% pa. In other words there are more than 6.6 million new Christians in China alone every year, around 7 times more than attend the Church of England every week. Makes you think doesn’t it?

      Conclusion: Liberals and revisionists in the CofE and ECUSA have largely caved in to the prevailing culture. While influential through their ties to the political establishment, the media and the universities, their contribution to worldwide church growth and to the millions coming to Christ in the two-thirds world is virtually nil.

      The world locus of the Christian faith has shifted dramatically to the two-thirds world, and RW has had to listen. Seems pretty straightforward to me!

      • winston

        Philip – surely Rowan has to listen, but is the answer to move to a more centralised understanding of Anglicanism, or to keep the model that had existed hiterto? I think Giles Fraser is right on this in his CTimes piece this week – we have existed as a national Church for a very long time, so why should we not maintain our integrity while keeping fraternal relationships with those churches that are a product of colonialism?

        Surely, this development is more of a reflection of a desire for power, for status in the ecclesial game park. How will we survive if we do not come after the Romans and the Orthodox in the pecking order? Possibly, subsidiarty is the order of the day, the local over the national, and the national over the global. Golly – I sould like a Eurosceptic Tory, but in a church context. I need to have a sleep.

    • winston

      ‘To be anti-gay in England and in the Church of England is now an extremist position, and there is a fundamntal dislike of extremism in the British DNA.’

      Fr Mark – I think this last statement is very interesting. It is the case that Church of England as a national Church has existed as a fairly middle of the road denomination since the late seventeenth century. The Evangelical revival made little impact on it, and the Anglo-Catholic movement only through a drip by drip process. Essentially, what this has left us with is a national Church with a fairly similar liturgy to the RC Church with some editing, and a moderate, in terms of theology and polity, church going laity. I think your comment about the British, possibly more correctly the English, DNA is borne out therefore by history.

      I am intrigued though what will happen if the clergy numerically become more conservative. What will the impact of this national Church be? Already, we pick up numerous people from neighbouring parishes who will not play ball with the new local conservative clergy man (invariably a man), and as such need a funeral, a baptism, a home visit etc. The said local clergyman is left, therefore, spending most of his time serving his congregation. If this pattern is being repeated elsewhere, what does it mean for the identity of the CofE on the ground. It will be interesting to see what civic religion might look like in the future – can you imagine Canterbury Cathedral having a make-over like the likes of the cathedral in Sydney?

      We can talk theology all we want, but what really interests me is what is happening to this deeply compromised, highly ambiguous, parochially minded national Church, and how will the people of England respond if it is morphed over time into something that has not existed in these lands institutionally for a very long time?

      • I am intrigued though what will happen if the clergy numerically become more conservative. What will the impact of this national Church be? Already, we pick up numerous people from neighbouring parishes who will not play ball with the new local conservative clergy man (invariably a man), and as such need a funeral, a baptism, a home visit etc.

        This intrigues me. Can you flesh it out for us a bit?

        Oh and Winston, we’re desperate for you to sort a proper Gravatar out. Sue’s done it!

  • Fr Mark

    Philip: “I have no doubt that what you describe in Britain is entirely true…”

    Well, that is the key point if someone’s doing ministry in Britain, surely? You wouldn’t say that there’s much mileage in telling Brits that they in fact must be Nigerians or Ugandans if they want to feel connected to their national church? The current attempts to do so are what is putting so many people off.

  • Fr Mark

    Winston: “Already, we pick up numerous people from neighbouring parishes who will not play ball with the new local conservative clergy man (invariably a man)..”

    Yes, I had the same experience in an English parish: hard-line churches tend to be led along rather despotic lines (as you say, invariably by men), and spit people out frequently, I think.

  • We’ve run out of thread levels on the “what’s appropriate in the bedroom” bit of this post.

    What a shame…

    :-)

    • Philip Cole

      And so we’ve found out that Ryan has a secret crush on Megan Fox. Either that or a subliminal association with playing with Transformers as a child ….

      I went to school in Daventry, the centre of whip manufacturing in the ‘leather county’ of Northamptonshire (Oh, the shiver of anticipation)…

      Any more dark and dirty secrets out there?!

      • Sue

        Philip, Philip. That’s the second time you’ve begged us for more. I suggest a cold shower and a lengthy session of prayer and sober bible reading …:)

        • Sue

          …or else you must be beaten soundly…

          • Sue

            Sorry, couldn’t resist! :)

            • Philip Cole

              I was going to reply “Only if you come and do it for me, dear”, but I was worried about getting told off by Peter. Oh, hang on …. :-)

              • Sue

                * amused*

                What I really love is the beneficial effect this site has on us – morally, spiritually, theologically.

                Can you imagine the scene in our respective households,

                ” No, dear, I’m just on the computer, you know, that CHRISTIAN site…”

                All just good fun :)

                I am sure we can rely on the Reverend Ould to rescue us from too much levity.

                • Philip Cole

                  Sue

                  I entirely agree! However vigorously I argue and disagree with you, as it says in the Word “A good larf covers over a multitude of sins”. Oh hang on again …

          • *cough*

            I’m sure you didn’t mean that really (he said, retrieving the comment from the dangerously well informed spam trap)…

  • Megan Fox is great! She even has a tattoo of an autobot symbol, indicating that she is surely any geek’s Dream Girl (am something of a geek myself, as my avatar indicates!).

  • James Noble

    So – winston – the answer is that the CoE turns into another “Anglican” denominational church – not a Church where everyone living in a parish has a legal right to be married and buried there – but simply another option on the menu from Baptist to AOG to Methodist to Orthoox to RC.
    And that yes, perhaps not Canterbury or Westminster, not at first, but say Carlisle or Newcastle could have a Sydney-like makeover, and another couple effectively go to Rome.

    I didn’t think the “Broad church” was only about wet liberalism: but it was about the wet liberals agreeing to tolerate the dry evangelicals, the frilly anglo-catholics, the cynical post-evangelicals, and so on and so forth. Not only tolerate but work along side, admit they were part of the same diocese and archdeaconries, etc. That’s hard to do when both sides are pointing hard at each other and yelling that the other is not only not Anglican, but also not Christian.

  • Pingback: CROSSING THE RUBICON? | Midwest Conservative Journal()

  • winston

    James – it seems to me that your first paragraph above does describe one of the most probable scenarios for the future of the CofE. It saddens me, but it seems to me that it is logically and theologically coherent from a conservative perspective. While I do not like the conservative evangelical position, it does seem to me that it coheres much better with an evangelical ecclesiology than the open evangelical one. It is, however, a form of Anglicanism that has not been seen in this country in a position of any dominance for hundreds of years, and would demand a radical overhaul of the life of the Church.

    With regards to your second paragraph. I think liberals would be very happy to continue living in the world that you suggested existed for such a long time. However, ‘homosexual practice’ has been given priority of place in the battle for orthodoxy in a way that divorce and remarriage, the ordination of women, the use of one’s money, universal greed etc have not, and as such liberals who do not subscribe to this supposed orthodoxy are no longer welcome at the table.

    On a historical point though, I think we do have to be suspicious about the claims of toleration that existed int he past between the various churchmanships. A significant number of evangelicals were not involved in the structures of the Church of England for a very long time. Many an evangelical clergyman would not attend chapter etc. either for fear of taint or just a suspicion that such things were not helpful in the propogation of the Gospel.

    This is so much more interesting than all the ‘sex’ talk above. To localise a debate about sex and sexuality to the genital regions seems to ignore what so much contemporary psychology tells us what makes up our understanding as sexual beings. So, I sound prudish, but it their much difference between an intellectual ‘wank’ about sex, and the more typical one?

    • Philip Cole

      Winston

      I agree with James’ conclusion in his first paragraph as well but, unlike you, it doesn’t sadden me in the least. As a non-deonominational, evangelical and charismatic Christian, I believe the church is at its best and most prophetic when it is primarily local and non-established. Independent churches can then voluntarily affiliate to federated church fellowships, both national and international, such as Vineyard and New Wine.

      I think RWs ‘twin track’ is basically a statement of the reality that is already happening. The various Anglican church lobbies, pro- and anti- gay affirmation, are already linked far more to other theologically similar bodies. And in my view that is a good thing. The ‘broad church’ of Anglicanism has always had the tendency to coalesce around lowest-common denominator Churchianity, where people go to church because its the right thing to do. Now that being a Christian (and even more so an evangelical Christian) is a counter-cultural activity in the UK, there really is no need for an established church.

      For what its worth, here then are a few predications based on the implications of the ‘twin track’:

      1) The liberal wing of Anglicanism will coalesce into ECUSA and other liberal churches in the UK. Following the lead of ECUSA, it will increasingly adopt liberal positions and political causes based on general principles of ‘love’ and ‘justice’. Its spirituality will be increasingly New Age based and inter-faith (think St James’ Piccadilly: Friends of the Earth/Oxfam with a sprinkling of yoga). It will attract existing liberal congregations, elements of the youth that like ‘take your pick’ spirituality, and university-educated progressives with a horror of anything ‘extreme’. As a church, or series of churches, it will continue to maintain striong links to the establishment to lobby for its favourite political causes.
      2) The conservative wing of Anglicanism (evangelical and/or charismatic Anglican churches) will increasingly co-operate with other local, theologically similar churches (Baptist, AOG, Pentecostal, House Churches, Black Independent, etc). As many of these churches are already growing (especially Black Independent, House Churches, and Charismatic) growth will continue. There will be increasing local co-operation in mission and evangelism. There will also be increasing co-operation with two-thirds world churches, including missionaries coming to the UK to return the gift of evangelism. After a difficult period of establishment, especially if the type of Equalities Legislation currently mooted leads to Christians being prosecuted for expressing their beliefs, these churches will grow as people becoming increasingly disenchanted with a broken, hurting and hedonistic society.

      The problem of course, as with all divorces, will be the division of the family silver. However, residual Anglican politeness will make this a far less painful process then the litigation-fest currently going on in ECUSA.

  • Pingback: Are we about to go to war? [in the Church of England] | Fulcrum Anglican()