adrian-hilton
Church of England

Adrian Hilton on Justin Welby: “he is challenging the ‘principalities and powers’ of institutional existence”

Here follows Adrian Hilton’s (yes, Ed.) first letter to Martyn Percy, reflecting on the mission of the Church of England and the character and leadership of Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a simultaneous exchange with Martyn Percy’s first letter, published yesterday. The responses of each will follow over the course of this week.

Dear Martyn,

I’m always interested to discuss the Church of England’s essential mission: thank you for the opportunity to dialogue.

You may recall when Justin Welby submitted his CV to the CNC in 2012 with a view to the vacant See of Canterbury, he did so with a caveat: “I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. But frankly it’s a joke, because it is self-evident that it is perfectly absurd to consider appointing someone to Canterbury who’s been a bishop for seven months. I shall be praying for you to make the right choice” (Church Times, 31st Jan 13). After some consideration, the CNC did believe +Justin to be the right choice, and duly nominated him despite his ‘joke’ application and ‘absurd’ lack of experience. For some, the appointment was inspired (“..exceptional experience, outstanding record and special gifts” [Diocese of Bristol, 2012]); for others, such as yourself, it was manifestly ill-judged (“..would require a much deeper ecclesial comprehension than the present leadership currently exhibit… no sagacity, serious science or spiritual substance..” [Guardian, 13th Aug 16]).

With a background in corporate management, Archbishop Justin’s leadership style has been a subject of some comment in the media: “He is at his best as a strategist, with skills he honed in his business career. He is revered among his clerical colleagues for his planning, his purposefulness..” (Independent, 20th Feb 15); and some analysis in academia, including by you: “..(his) call to drink from the wells of managerial methods and ‘science’, but not to drown in them” (Managing the Church? Order and Organization in a Secular Age, 2000, p24). This comment was on his early essay on leadership, which you judged to be “a concerted attempt to dissolve the false antimony between sacred and secular methods of organization, and to ponder the form of management that is most appropriate for Church order” (ibid.). Now you appear to think that models of secular management and leadership are antithetical to prophetic leadership and spiritual mission. May not both be essential?

Justin Welby may have been a treasurer for Enterprise Oil plc, and the foundations of his Christian faith may reside in charismatic evangelicalism, but to dismiss his leadership as ‘secular managerialism’ and his ecclesiology as ‘shallow’ is unfair. Yes, he draws on Weber (Managing the Church?, p34), but only to the extent that a polity is ‘proportionable’, as Hooker might aver: the ancient traditions may be contextualised toward secularity, but reform must accord with catholicity. Quoting business theorists Peter Drucker and Arie de Geus, ++Justin observes that successful organisations must be “living entities” (ibid., p37): those which tend toward mechanism, centralisation or to being “obsessed with control” are destined to die. Yet now he is accused of “centralised management” (Observer, 13th Aug 16), but surely he is not ‘obsessed’ with it, and, it may be averred, he is centralising in order to liberalise; that is, to circumvent the old method of episcopal preferment – the old boys’ network.

This may challenge the Church of England’s traditional modus operandi, but it does not negate its essential mission in and to the State. It isn’t only ++Justin’s mission priorities which evidence a distinct charism; he has established a quasi-monastic order at Lambeth Palace and invited a Roman Catholic group to live there and to pray daily for the Anglican mission. How does this not constitute “spiritual substance”? How many previous archbishops of Canterbury have evidenced ecclesial depth and appreciation by visiting every province in the Worldwide Anglican Communion as a matter of episcopal priority?

The tendency amongst many academics is to contrast the weighty “philosopher-kings” (Joseph Ratzinger and Rowan Williams) with the superficial “evangelist-managers” (Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Justin Welby): “an intellectual has been succeeded by a perceived manager and pragmatist” (ABC Religion & Ethics, 23rd March 13). But a less academic archbishop does not necessarily represent withdrawal from serious theology: Anglicanism “tends toward diversity and struggles thus to maintain coherence (and so it will) have its cycles of reform and consolidation, of intellectual reflection and pragmatic engagement” (ibid.). ++Justin’s theology may be more practical and applied than that of ++Rowan, but that does not mean it lacks sagacity. Leadership, in order to be effective, has to be practical and political: if it then apparently lacks theological erudition and spiritual holiness, it may be because critics are antithetical to the prescribed programme of reform and renewal. Questions then become wrapped up in those of Anglican identity and understanding the mission of the Established Church.

++Justin’s mission focus is not so much on numerical growth but on discipleship: it is “to be loyal to the inheritance of faith which we have received and open to God’s Spirit so that we can be constantly renewed and reformed for the task entrusted to us… to be a community of missionary disciples”, as he co-wrote with the Archbishop of York (In Each Generation, 2015). Where numerical growth is mentioned, it is contiguous with spiritual growth and practical community service (“food banks, credit unions..” [ibid.]). The curatives being offered to reverse church decline are not uniform; nor do they emanate exclusively from the mind of Justin Welby: “The proposals have been developed in the light of what bishops and dioceses said when consulted. There will continue to be 42 diocesan strategies, each of which are entitled to national support” (ibid.). There is clerical collegiality and parochial independence.

While there are justifiable concerns (many of which I share) about centralised ecclesial preferment by a self-perpetuating elite committee; and a palpable absence of pastoral theology, contemplative ecclesiology and prophetic spirituality in the Green Report, as you observed in the Church Times (12th Dec 14), it by no means follows that an expert theologian or educationalist would have ensured “critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature”; or mitigated the “uncritical use of executive management-speak”. Having spent a decade straddling three departments at Oxford, I observe that educationalists, theologians and political scientists (‘experts’) lean overwhelmingly toward what may be considered a ‘liberal’, ‘progressive’ and ‘statist’ worldview, deploying all the jargon and theories of leadership necessary to bolster their own positions (and successors). I can understand the temptation to cut through the institutional bias of a self-perpetuating elite with a report-critique which may be (relatively) lacking in scholarship but is, nonetheless, sensible to identity and a pervasive ideology (how many University review committees on, say, diversity and inclusion actually include an identifiable political/philosophical/theological/educational conservative?).

++Justin’s mission priority is reconciliation through service (cf Mk 10:43), which, he avers, finds resonance in certain secular management theories (Managing the Church?, p25). In relating the local to the national; balancing autonomy with independence; and syncretising the secular and the sacred, he may not always get it right, but he is challenging the “‘principalities and powers’ of institutional existence” (ibid. p41) – a missional priority to which ++Justin’s critics appear to offer no effectual alternative curative.

I look forward to receiving your thoughts.

Warmest regards,

Adrian

  • Mike Stallard

    Lots of corporate speak there Dr. Hilton. Lots of nouns dressed up as verbs! Lots of suffixes!

    I think Mr Welby has an uphill task in mitigating mitigated the “uncritical use of executive management-speak”!

  • Martin

    Too much about ‘management’, too little about godliness.

  • len

    All through history God has accomplished His Purpose’s through fallen men (with one exception Jesus Christ himself). God has no perfect human being to work through (with the exception of Jesus ) so He looked not for perfection but for’ availability’. To be available to listen to God and to carry out Gods Will. This is all God required of man.
    God could of course do whatever He wished bypassing man altogether but God chose to work his purposes through man.
    Availability, humility, and the desire to carry out Gods Will is all God requires of man.

  • Sybaseguru

    “Numbers are the key statistic”. This statement is widely slated outside of the Evangelical church – but look at the facts. Firstly, in the first half of Acts, headcount is referred to 11 times (eg “many were added to their number”). However the main argument is that numbers don’t increase if you have “revolving door syndrome”, so discipleship has to be there if numbers are growing as its involvement and commitment that keeps people there. For this reason its an accurate measure of spirituality in a church.

    • Dominic Stockford

      ‘many’ isn’t a number. If your congregation is 3 strong, then two more will be seen as ‘many’.

  • dexey

    I don’t see that management and godliness have to be opposed but if they are, and if Rowan Williams represented godliness he was completely unintelligible to me.

  • David

    Why are so many connected with the more academic areas of the Church unable to write clearly ?
    I have three degrees in totally different areas of knowledge and I find that, whereas both Earth Scientists and Town Planning academics can, in most cases, convey very complex ideas in good clear English, backed up by statistical information, maps and diagrams, too many theologians and their fellow travellers seem to enjoy using totally unnecessary complexity. Is this professional status seeking, or maybe insecurity ? Certainly it represents a failure to communicate. Or perhaps they are obscuring their lack of clear thinking ? My money is on the last point.

    The last archbishop wrote books that I found to be very opaque. Maybe a poem would have worked better ?
    This writer, who appears to discuss management approaches in relation to godliness seems almost as incapable as Rowan Williams of saying it plainly and clearly. Maybe his thoughts are badly muddled ?

    • John

      To be fair, I believe this was originally intended as private correspondence with someone equally acquainted with all the ecclesiastical jargon. Adrian is usually more lucid when writing for the general public.

      Archbishop Rowan, in one short essay, could serve up over a year’s material for Private Eye’s Pseud’s Corner. Terribly nice chap though.

      • David

        I am not so sure that Rowan was all that “nice”.
        His naivety is still a danger to us all, for example regarding the nature of Islam, whilst his desire to try to please everyone merely represents weakness.
        People who stoutly defend the truth of the gospel are seldom considered “nice” by the cheer leaders for today’s toxic culture or the general populace, many of who have been duped by those same cultural “leaders”.
        Give me a tough, honest, truth speaking leader every time over a “nice”, clueless one, who allows the sheep to be scattered and devoured by the wolves.

        • Anton

          Amen!

        • Inspector General

          The Inspector steps forward…{Ahem}

          • David

            Your mission Inspector is, firstly, lead and conquer Gloucester. Understood ? That should take about a week, max. Then the rest of the world !
            We have confidence in you !

          • Inspector General

            Yes David. One can imagine the headlines…

            “Dog collared humanists weep tears of distress as the Cardinal Inspector, Archbishop of Canterbury, is enthroned. Never expected to HAVE to do Jesus, says one so called divinity student”

          • David

            Well predicted !

          • chefofsinners

            Licking his lips… “mutton you say?”

    • Marcus Honeysett

      “too many theologians and their fellow travellers seem to enjoy using totally unnecessary complexity”.

      Interesting comment. There are essentially two forms of theologian. The first are orthodox Christians who understand their job is to feed the church and facilitate it’s mission. The second are those who teach in theological faculties without reference to the first definition. They may be formally recognised as theologians because of their discipline regardless of whether they are orthodox or even Christian.

      The main difficulty with this is that you more often get PhDs (and their accompanying research grants) for innovation rather than for orthodoxy. This single fact means that orthodox theologians will always have a battle for orthodoxy on their hands in the theological world of secular university theology faculties. It has an inherent bias towards non-orthodoxy (and frequently an undisguised hatred of evangelicals). You can call yourself a theologian, be asked for theological pronouncements and offered positions on the basis of academic qualification that bear no reference to Christian theology or faith whatsoever. And then you have a vested interest in unnecessary complexity. It is code for “this is our discipline, not yours.”

      Which is not to say there aren’t some wonderful Christian theologians in those places. But they can usually be recognised by the fact that they want to make difficult things clear rather than simple things obscure. As J.I.Packer once noted, theologians should be map-makers for the people of God.

      • David

        Well explained. I totally agree.
        I conjecture that the rot started when the C of E allowed theological education to escape into secular seats of learning. After than the discipline ceased to serve the Church by feeding it better and deeper expositions of orthodoxy; instead it morphed into a separated from God, intellectual machine for generating doubt.

        • chefofsinners

          Those seats of learning became secular as society became secular.
          The rot started as soon as the church started. The New Testament is full of references to false teachers, and pithy, simple ripostes.

          • David

            Accept all that. But my point is, perhaps inadequately expressed, is that the Church has no business becoming secular. That in the proverbial nutshell, is the crux of the problem !

      • Anton

        Theology is not an academic subject. The philosophers, whose descendants the academics are, were let loose on it and the church still hasn’t recovered.

        • Inspector General

          Have to disagree, Anton. Philosophy must have a creator hypothesis, or it is not philosophy…

          • Anton

            Tell that to the ancient Greeks, who invented philosophy but did not regard the universe as created by an omnipotent God distinct from it.

  • Phew! I read this and I am thankful for the relative simplicity of non-established churches. I am thankful for many Anglican men. Over the years I have benefited from some immensely, as has the wider church. Having said this it is the men and not the church structures that have been a force for the gospel. This is true to my mind whatever church polity of which we may think.

    There does need to be some basic church polity, the NT makes this plain, however, the creaking stultifying polity of most denominations seem to me a far cry from the simplicity of NT simplicity. Episcopal structures seem particularly monstrous.

    In my view, energy expended in trying to mobilise church structures evangelistically is largely wasted. Churches are rarely revitalised nor the gospel advanced through church politics; the urgent need is for holy men to speak from God. In a word, we need gospel believers with evangelistic hearts who believe in the power of the apostolic gospel to change lives and faithfully proclaim it and we need these at every level of church life. We need the Lord of the harvest to thrust out labourers.

    It also goes without saying this means there is a need in our country for a mighty movement of the Spirit, reviving the church and regenerating the lost. This comes, not through structures but, as far as we can play a part, through prayer. We are called to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out labourers.

    At present the church and the country are largely under divine judgment. The church has apostatised and the nation has embraced idolatry. No amount of political activity will improve either. Repentance and faith are required on a lavish scale. We must each seek opportunities for the gospel and pray for revival. The church and country are under divine judgement. We must call for mercy.

    • David

      Yes indeed !

    • Sarky

      Pray for revival????

      I take it that’s instead of getting off your a##e and causing it?

      • Anton

        Hey Sarky, good to see you again and I hope you are well.

        Revival requires both prayer and action, and please don’t underestimate how hard the former is.

        • Sarky

          Cheers Anton, managed to put my toys back in the pram!!

          Do you mean prayer or action is hard??
          Can’t see how either are really. Action is just starting a conversation. You’d probably be surprised at how receptive people can be.

          • Inspector General

            Thought your wife had banned you from this site? The house going to wrack and ruin for the time you spend here and the children virtually fatherless. That sort of thing…

          • carl jacobs

            Good to see you back, sarky. We missed you. Besides, we didn’t know what to do with the sudden glut of exclamation points.

          • Sarky

            ?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • carl jacobs

            Oh great. Now there’s a shortage. My keyboard just demanded $5 to register a question mark.

          • Anton

            I meant what I said, that prayer for certain things is hard. Action may be easy or hard.

          • Actually, I don’t find people very responsive at all. A general discussion of esoteric apologetically issues, sure. They will talk about evolution and moral issues till the cows come home. Tell them, however gently, that they are sinners in danger of God’s judgement who must repent and bow to the absolute lordship of the risen Christ who died for their sins and the conversation quickly fizzles out.

          • Sarky

            It’s the way you tell’em!!

          • They like my humour it’s the gospel they don’t like. Never have.

          • Sarky

            Did you use it as a stick to beat them with, or a satnav to guide them?

          • I use it as light to expose, enlighten, enliven, enchant and exprobate. Your thinkings too binary.

          • carl jacobs

            Not sure “fizzles out” is the correct verb choice, but, yes. The sensitive issue is moral accountability to authority. It is a cardinal dogma of post-modern man that he is under no such authority, and he will not hear otherwise.

      • IanCad

        You were gone for just a few weeks. Time off for good behaviour?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Absolutely so – preach the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone, oppose error, pray for the souls of the lost and the efforts of preachers, and do these with increasing frequency. Interestingly, this is basically what the Book of Common Prayer says that Bishops in the CofE are supposed to be doing…..

  • carl jacobs

    The Ashes! The Ashes!
    From darkness doth the Shade emerge, and corporeal form admit.

    • Anton

      Glad you’re getting into cricket at last, Carl.

      • carl jacobs

        [Snort]

  • carl jacobs

    But a less academic archbishop does not necessarily represent withdrawal from serious theology

    Where “serious theology” is defined as:

    1. Refusing to challenge the verities of the age.
    2. Encouraging the faithful to works of innocuous good deeds.
    3. Making no claims on personal conduct.
    4. Facilitating the marginalization of the Christian faith.

  • Anton

    Yes, but what does Archbishop Cranmer think of his successor?

  • CliveM

    A Church needs people of many different talents. Preachers, administrators, those that pray, evangelists etc. Yes, even perhaps academic theologians. But as Rowan Williams showed, deep theological understanding, doesn’t mean you are able to talk ‘God’ to a wider community. Very often they appear only able to speak theology to other academics.

    • Dominic Stockford

      As the Bible shows us, in the Pharisees and Sadducees, deep theological understanding doesn’t even mean faith.

      • Anton

        If they had deep theological understanding then they’d have acknowledged Jesus.

        • No because their deep theological understanding is at the intellectual level only. It doesn’t have the essential revelation by the Spirit which is available only to the believer.

          • Anton

            Then it’s not deep, is it?

          • I take your point. It is certainly not as deep as it could be though to another unsaved intellectual or academic it might seem to be deep. Taken to its logical conclusion you are right.

        • You don’t need ‘deep theological understanding’ to be a Christian. You need faith and love towards Christ.
          ‘To you who believe, He is precious’ (1 Peter 2:7).

    • Anton

      What makes you think that Rowan Williams had deep theological understanding? Liberals are essentially apostates.

      • CliveM

        Whilst not saying he is one, even atheists can do theology. I’m not saying that deep theological understanding is the same as a full understanding of faith.

        • Anton

          ?
          Please give me an example of an atheist doing theology. Not many Christians can discuss the Trinity decently, let alone atheists!

          • Martin

            Anton

            Plenty of that on Twitter, mostly laughable.

          • Sarky

            John W. Loftus

          • chefofsinners

            Jon Sorenson.

          • chefofsinners

            Only kidding.

          • CliveM

            Don Cupitt.

      • David

        Yes indeed, liberalism is basically about doubting that the Bible is revealed truth, and then reflecting society’s unsteady trends. I saw nothing deep about Rowan, just complexity and doubt.

        • chefofsinners

          Deep in that he plumbed the depths, perhaps.

      • Pubcrawler

        Why the past tense? He’s not dead, I saw him only recently.

        • Anton

          I had in mind his tenure at Canterbury.

          • Pubcrawler

            In that I will concede that he greatly disappointed my initial hopes on hearing of his appointment. But I have found his writings about, for example, the Transfiguration profound and helpful. Oh, and sufficiently accessible that I lent my copy to my intelligent but unschooled mother.

  • Anton

    Allow me to intrude with today’s news

    Remember, remember, the 5th of December
    Judges, treason and plot…

    • chefofsinners

      There are some people who will stop at nothing to get their own way. We call these people politicians.

  • Inspector General

    Reconciliation! Oh Lord…

    We are about to see the CoE split apart. The inner city parishes with secular clergy eager to offer homosexual marriage, and fly rainbow flags from church porches. That’s only the start. We’ll have prayers for abortion intendees and living funerals for the soon to be euthanised. An extreme and unreasonable forecast? Not at all. If you go down the first route, and tear the rules up, there are many by-ways off it to explore.

    Reconciliation time is over. There can be no reconciling with the so called progressives…

    It’s time to chase out the apostates in clerical garb and to throw their golden calf after them. That calls for leadership. Clear leadership. And ultimatums. Observe the full canon law of the Church of England, ALL of it, or leave. Do it now. There aren’t many. The 14 who defied and ‘married’ other men. And a certain bishop who cannot bring herself to use Jesus’ words of God the FATHER. They’ll do for now. Purge the lot! They do not belong in Christ’s service, for they serve man. Only man!

    • Difficult to define an apostate in the Church of England, Inspector. Even your “higher theology” would be acceptable.

  • len

    Could it be that Christ has left ‘The Church’ but the Church never noticed?. And the Church sails on like the Titanic with constant re- arranging of the deckchairs as it sails onward into oblivion.
    Christ now walks the streets knocking on doors to see who will let Him in.

    • David

      The Holy Spirit is very active in many countries but perhaps not here so much, at least not in the institutional Churches. In China and Africa the Church is expanding. Surprisingly even in the ME there are many secret converts from Islam to Christianity.

    • Martin

      Len

      One wonders how the churches to whom the letters in Revelation rated their spiritual health.

      • chefofsinners

        Laodicea. That’s everything wrong with today’s church, epitomised by Martin Percy.

  • Inspector General

    For those that didn’t see Chef’s post last thread, this character Percy is apparently a hammer and sickle man, or a fellow traveller or whatever these types call themselves today. Make of that as you will…

  • Inspector General

    Yes, one can imagine the despicable images you search out. Frankly, one hopes your good wife stops sleeping with you…

    • carl jacobs

      Ouch! I can feel the burn from this side of the Atlantic.

      • Sarky

        Sure it’s not coming from trumps tan???

        • carl jacobs

          I haven’t voted yet, sarky. I think I’ll take a match with me and burn my ballot.

          • Sarky

            As someone so eloquently put it,

            “It’s the evil of two lessers”

          • Now that I do like.

          • chefofsinners

            Sarky’s great, John. He gives you the kind of honest advice you normally only get from your own kids.

  • “Mission”, I think, is Anglican for evangelism and church growth. Jesus told us to make disciples not to make converts – Matt 28:19 Why? Because conversion is the Lord’s job. Of course the church is involved, but not in the way it thinks it is! That’s the problem. The structures and hierarchies of the church are political constructs and are populated in too many instances by those who don’t believe the bible is the inspired Word of God; or who do believe but think the restraints and constraints of scripture do not apply to us and that man is free to superimpose his cultural norms upon it; and by those who may or may not be believers but in any event are not prepared to call evil evil and instead make mealy mouthed accommodation.

    The churches job is to preach the gospel. This requires firm leadership from the top, Pauline type leadership I would hazard. Leadership by example not through structures. I speak as a retired British army officer. The gospel is the tool God has given us, for it is the power of God unto salvation. Nothing, absolutely nothing else, will result in the conversion of men. The church mission must be to preach the gospel as revealed by Paul in Romans (and elsewhere!), to preach it and preach it and then preach it again. This and only this is the vehicle God uses to change hearts and it must be the primary focus of the church. Social programmes have their place but they must never be allowed to usurp the main focus.

    “… I will build my church” says Jesus (Matt 16:18). So strong is this structure that He goes on to tell us the gates of hades will not prevail against it. So why is the church so limp and devoid of impact? Because it has failed to learn from the early church the way to fulfil its role.

    Acts 2:46 “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

    Notice the effectiveness of this. We simply cannot improve upon it. They were in one accord, or to put it another way, they agreed on the revealed truth of the gospel. And they preached it. And the Lord added to their number daily. God did it, not the church programmes. It is a sovereign work of Almighty God who will grow His church. Can anyone offer a good reason why the Lord would send people along to most of our churches today? I can’t think of one.

  • chefofsinners

    Thank you Adrian for contending for the faith.
    Those outside the church are simply lost. It is the enemy within which is unforgivably sinful. They are sons of perdition, for whom blackest darkness is reserved.

  • Mine is as expansive as the gospel… in my humble opinion (naturally).

  • carl jacobs

    Yeah. Sort of like his feigned hostility to cats.

  • My general view is that the evangelicals in the C of E should come out and leave the others to rot, which is what they (the others) are doing anyway.
    However, if I were the Archbishop (which God forbid), the first thing I would do is close about half the churches. Hopefully, some of them would be taken over by Free churches. My local vicaress has, I think, eight churches under her care. If she were Whitefield and Spurgeon combined, she couldn’t look after that lot on her own, but the fact is that although she’s a dear lady, she couldn’t preach her way out of a wet paper bag and wouldn’t know the Gospel if it bit her on the leg. Hardly anyone goes to any of the churches, so close all but one down.
    The second thing I would do is to fire all the clergy who don’t believe the Gospel and/or who don’t preach it.
    The third thing I would do is find 40 or 50 young evangelists who fear nothing but God and send them out on roving commissions into the remaining churches to shake them up by preaching the Gospel.
    The fourth thing I would do is allow the big, faithful evangelical churches to take over failing churches and to plant new ones all across parish boundaries.
    On reflection, I think my first idea was best. ‘Come out and be separate, says the Lord…….and I will receive you’ (2 Corinthians 6:17). Let the dead bury the dead.

    • David

      Ditto. I too am torn between the separation of the healthy from the sickly, and a rebuilding, through a ruthless culling of empty churches and focussing resources on young evangelists, who as you say “fear nothing but God”. Either way the liberals will shrink and the spirit filled will grow – it is inevitable – it is God’s way.

      • Anton

        Parish mergers should indeed be formalised. Given the decline in attendance the vicar of a merged parish would then have as many regulars to service as in the past, and almost everybody has a car or could be given a lift. It’s little different from the falloff in attendance at lower-division football clubs in favour of the Premier League club 20 miles away, due to improved transport.

        The bigger problem is Establishment, however. The world is now secular and is dragging the church by its hair.

        • David

          Quite !
          I am rather becoming an anti-establishmentarian.
          It is preventing evangelism.
          Stuff “respectability”. It is useless.

  • Never mind management theory, what about teachings? Does the Church of England have any doctrine, transcending time and the seasons, that its ministers and communicants adhere to?

    Of the doctrine of the Church of England

    The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.

    In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

    All terribly vague, isn’t it?

    • carl jacobs

      You have been sparse in attendance of late, Jack. I begin to worry about you. Everything is still fine?

      • All’s well with Jack, Carl. Thank you for your concern. All his recent tests have come up clear.

        • carl jacobs

          So what then is your excuse? Cranmer’s without Jack is like a gym without a punching bag, a bowling alley without a pin, a golf club without a ball, a hammer without a nail. We need you here, Jack.

          • Granddaughter to look after during the day and then Jack got engrossed in “Damages” on Netflix at night. Just watched the last episode.

          • carl jacobs

            I recently watched RTEs “Rebellion” on Netflix. Well, to be honest, I only made it through four episodes before I could take it no longer. It was (shall we say) … historically challenged.

          • Ever watched “Second Chance/U”? Jack found himself starting to warm (ever so slightly) to American Football.

          • carl jacobs

            Had not even heard about it. Looks interesting.

          • So, how did you vote?

          • carl jacobs

            I voted against Hillary.

          • For Trump?

          • carl jacobs

            Against Hillary

          • Hah ….
            What State are you in?

          • CliveM

            I don’t think his mental state will be good!!

          • carl jacobs

            Iowa

          • Sarky

            god help us, what have you done?

          • Hi there, Sarky. Welcome back.

          • Anton

            Carl, in all seriousness there is plenty that can come good from this. Trump believes Europe should take greater responsibility for its defence, doesn’t believe in manmade global warming of dangerous magnitude, and understands Islam for what it is. Those are three really big things.

          • IanCad

            What’s Aleppo??

          • Sarky

            Ha ha Carl’s a silent trumper

        • Anton

          Glad.

    • Anton

      It’s no less clear than the scriptures themselves. The problem with the CoE is not that its basic documents are unclear but that they are being ignored.

  • Hitlary – “You’re fired.”

    • chefofsinners

      Political establishment – you’re fired.
      Maybe this will serve to remind our establishment what happens when you underestimate the will of the people.

      • IanCad

        Or overestimate the will of the media.

      • David

        Well said Chief !
        The media and their wretched opinion polls are good for one thing – ignoring !

    • Anton

      Hillarious!

    • carl jacobs

      ROFLMAO

  • chefofsinners

    Congratulations, then, Donald.
    Let’s focus on the big issues: The dollar falls, the pound rises. Marmite is cheap again.

  • David

    The Donald has won.
    History is being made.
    Many prayers have been answered.
    Praise be to God !
    The brexit vote is becoming the turning point of history, giving courage to millions.
    So eventually, the pushback begins, to reclaim and rebuild our culture, our faith.
    The US must now hold him to be true to his promises.
    Praise be to God !

    • Merchantman

      Yes!

  • Dreadnaught

    Listening to radio this morning I have never heard such a blatant outpuring of shocked Leftist opinion and biased oprobrium from so-called journalists employed and invited to speak on current affairs on the BBC. Not that this is in any way surprising, but today, they seem incapable of masking their pinko colours today as they stand naked in the spotlight – good job its radio.

    • IanCad

      In all fairness Dred, James Naughtie did seem to be reasonably fair when it became apparent that things were not going according to plan (about 2:30am)
      For sheer, unadulterated stupidity, nothing rivals Adam Gopnilk’s diatribe on “Point of View.” He’s scheduled again this Friday, can’t wait to hear the pompous twerp put the spin on his own foolishness.
      Andrew Sullivan runs a close second.

      • Anton

        Let us confine our gloating to our own homes, however!

        • IanCad

          Sometimes Anton, schadenfreude tastes just too sweet.

          • Anton

            It’ll do for my breakfast today.

        • No doubt the Davosites are looking at all options before the swearing-in. I don’t rule out a declaration of martial law or allowing the dollar to crash and burn – which, after all, is only on life-support. Or who is behind the campaign to despatch Trump? Anything could be on the table from a wounded wolf in sheep’s clothing. Brexit and Trump-it have brought out the snarling animals. They will want to pounce before more of the EU dominoes fall…

    • Anton

      Let us be seemly and confine our gloating to our own homes…

  • CliveM

    Whilst happy that Clinton lost, I’m not happy Trump won. I don’t see this as a victory for Christian renewal in the west. I certainly do not see how a disability mocking, serial sex offender, can be viewed as a champion of Christian values.

    Indeed I pray to God that he isn’t viewed by the wider world as such. it can only damage the Church further if he is.

    • IanCad

      “serial sex offender.” Hardly.

      • CliveM

        I’m just taking him at his word.

    • Anton

      Because he understands the concept of liberty better than Hillary.

      • CliveM

        He does? I’m not a fan of Hilarity, but I do not celebrate the victory of such an individual. I also would not want his views and behaviour to be in any way associated with Christianity and the God I love.

        • Anton

          I see several things to celebrate: he understands Islam for what it is; he is sceptical of manmade global warming of dangerous magnitude and will reverse policies that were doing serious harm to America’s industrial base; he believes that Europe should get serious about its own defence. Those are all very large things.

          • CliveM

            Even if I agreed with everything he said, I still don’t believe that he is the sort of person to lead a country. Nor would I see it, or want it seen, as a victory for Christian values.

          • Anton

            “Christian values” was not on the ballot sheet. I’m simply giving three reasons to celebrate.

      • TropicalAnglican

        He said [if I am elected, etc..]: “We’ll be able to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other again!”

    • Dreadnaught

      Its not what he said or says; its on what he does he will be judged. If he gives PC a good kick in the nads I will be pleased for that alone.

  • Anton

    So, a philanderer in the White House. Nothing like the Clinton era then.