More on the Sheffield Spat

AnswersThe advantage of having such a widely read public forum to ask questions in is that you then get answers. A number of people have written to me to clarify some of the issues around yesterday’s post on the irregular ordination of a Sheffield pastor.

It appears, contrary to the impression I may have given, that Christ Church Fulwood runs a number of successful church plants in other parishes with the full co-operation of those parishes and the Dioceses. Each is run by an ordained Church of England priest and they send ordinands through the Church of England system with little problem.

The problem appears to be with Christ Church Central and it’s daughter church Christ Church Walkley. Christ Church Central was planted from Fulwood in the early 2000s, but without permission from the Diocese. It operated from the very beginning as an independent church. Christ Church Walkley was then planted recently, to all intents an independent church plant from an independent church plant.

This is obviously why there was no attempt to go through the Sheffield Diocese channels for ordination, because that would have meant regularising the relationship between the two churches and the Diocese. But, seeing themselves as Anglican, the leadership sought oversight from elsewhere (Kenya) and the necessary authority to ordain. Certainly there appears to have been little attempt to work within the structures of the Church of England and if there were disputes when Christ Church Central was planted ten years ago, the new leadership in the Diocese since then would very likely be better disposed to trying to work through them now. Instead, it appears they were never even approached. Neither, as is now being intimated to me, were even Christ Church Fulwood…

It all has the smack of border crossing for no purpose. If Christ Church Walkley and Christ Church Central want to ordain church members (and even pastors) into the Anglican tradition then surely the Diocese must be the first port of call. Why was a request made to the GAFCON Council of Primates without first referring to the local ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the Diocese of Sheffield?

Can we not all see how schismatic this looks and how it plays entirely into the hands of the revisionists?

16 Comments on “More on the Sheffield Spat

    • Why shouldn’t they is the more important question. Anglicanism is based on the Nicene concept of one Bishop in one place. If CC Walkley want to be Anglican then their first port of call is the Diocese. There needs to be a good reason not to take that route and still be Anglican and “we didn’t even bother” is not one of them.

      • Err, I think you’re getting a bit too fundamentalist on the Nicene model.. The Orthodox overlap in many jurisdictions and the Roman Catholics have all sorts of orders that are non-geographical…. and religous houses that are under someone other than the local Bishop!

        Does the Nicene model really make it catastrophic to have non-geographical Anglican orders for conservatives – with their own Ordinary(s)?… We could, for instance, call it an “ordinariate”?! :-O !!

        • I don’t think I am. I have no problem with border-crossing where a Bishop is deliberately blocking mission OR is teaching gross heresy. Church history makes it very clear that such Bishops can be ignored and deposed. But neither of these two cases is the situation on the ground in Sheffield. I simply cannot see a reason for a Primate of one Province to ordain someone who is running a church in another province UNLESS that Province is apostate. And Sheffield and the CofE are not apostate.

          • Absolutely, Steve Croft is great! But the issue is not him. It is whether it is a reasonable interpretation of Scripure and Tradition in the current dire circumstances that the current “Nicene” restrictions should continue to restrict planting churches in “someone elses” parish….

            Given the miniscule number of people we are currently reaching, I’d be all for letting any growing Anglican church planting anywhere – as long as they don’t sheep-steal and are faithful to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles.

            The Bishops should “Let them rip” before things get so bad that they decide that they just have to just do it anyway!

            • Once again, who is being “restricted”? If Christ Church Walkley and Central sat down with the Diocese, perhaps some accommodation could be found, but in the absence of such a conversation…

              • “who is being “restricted”?” If the dioceses gave a blanket permission then there would be no restriction.. Otherwise there us a restriction.

                And I’m not sure that restriction is justified any more – on any reasonable interpretation of Scriptural in the light of tradition…

  1. And that’s the problem. If there is a future need for separation because of apostasy, this undermines the ground. It just looks like they want to be their own church. Is anyone from Fulwood talking to them about how daft this tactic is. Keep powder dry.

    • Pete, do you really think that there is any chance that, if ‘liberal apostasy’ took over the Church of England, the orthodox minority would be allowed to secede with their buildings and assets?

      “It’s all about money, sex and power” after all.. and ‘liberals’ have a much better eye for power politics than yer evangelicals…. and the sympathy of the UK’s political elite. Your powder would be well and truly wetted, well in advance.

      • I disagree. We need to remain united and the division on this issue is the real problem. The facts are that “liberal apostasy” exists on the ground, but it is not the position of the church leadership (as it is in TEC).

        • I doubt that we disagree with the “Kenyans” in Sheffield over “liberal apostasy” – and, indeed, their rebellion might remind people on the ‘middle ground’ just how destructive “liberal apostasy” is..

          However, my point is just that it is unrealistic to think that “liberal apostates” would ever allow “mysogenists and homophobes” leaving a religious organisation they controlled with any of their buildings or other assets… as I think we can see from other countries that have made more “progress” than England.

  2. A first-century comparison.

    ‘Fellow rabbis of the the avowed pact of Separation to God from all that is ungodly: ‘As many of you are aware, the young Nazarene rabbi, Yeshu has completely lost his way. His insight, once a pleasure to behold, has become marred by His shameless self-promotion throughout Judaea. As if the Desert Baptiser’s madness was not enough, this latest insanity has reached new heights. Our spies report that his itinerant rabble-rousing has won him a large following of the basest in society, all claiming the experience of his ‘miracle’ of instant forgiveness. He acts with little concern for rites of penitence and sacrifice, nor does he recognise our structures and processes since the ‘Isaiah’ incident at his local synagogue precipitated his expulsion from regular worship, study and discussion.

    His unflattering comparisons of our present troubles with that tragic era of past errors were, to say the least, unhelpful: but to say further that somehow God would favour these benighted heathens over we who are Abraham’s offspring was unforgivable. Yet, this was just one of so many wild and preposterous assertions.’

    ‘He has taken it upon himself to conduct his ‘mission’ outside of the normative structures of our faith, even flouting the Sabbath rest that is enjoined upon all our people. Indeed, his actions are so contrary to the oral traditions passed from generation to generation from Moses himself that he even gorges food after a quick blessing, paying no attention to sacramental cleansing.

    We must report our fears that he must harness the power to whip the crowds up into mindless frenzy from the Evil One. Could this not explain the strange charisma that he exercises upon the simple-minded and upon notorious reprobates alike? His effort to mix with those who have strayed away from God unforgivably (including those who have sold their birthrights to exact Rome’s taxes) must be treated with extreme suspicion.’

    ‘There are rumours that he claims that the Temple of Jerusalem will soon be no more . So, what next? Will he incite his followers to attack God’s house as he did the Temple treasury exchange?

    The discerning will recognise this as another attempt to seduce our nation into that pernicious blasphemy that is Mount Gerazim. This is what happens when our people hopelessly interbreed with Samaritans. He is one of them, for he even vaunted one as humane in his parables.

    Our options for dealing with this crisis are severely limited. Israel may not survive divine judgement, if we connive any further at this insult. Perhaps, it is time to discuss our common concerns with the Sadduccees. For all of their pomp and pretence, they are still our brothers.

    Rabbi Onkelos

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