Bishop Philip North
Mission

Bishop Philip North is good news for the poor – what a shame he’s sidelined

It is #GoodNewsFriday – space and time to tell of God’s love, miracles, joy, hope and peace – and Bishop Philip North provides today’s subject matter. Here are a few edited highlights from his sermon this week at New Wine, where his theme was ‘Hope for the Poor‘, in which he tells of “stories where people from hard backgrounds living in the toughest parts of the country have come to faith in Jesus Christ through passionate and committed Christian ministry which has combined service and proclamation…”

And then comes the meat:

“…in the poorest parts of the country, we are withdrawing the preachers. The harvest is rich, but the labourers have been re-deployed to wealthier areas. We are seeing the slow and steady withdrawal of church life from those communities where the poorest people in our nation live.

“And that matters. For the past 25 years I have been delighted to see a vast and ever growing industry of evangelism that now sets the pace in the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is passionate about evangelism and has made it one of his major priorities, backed up with initiatives such as ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’ Dioceses almost all have strong growth strategies in place. The Church Commissioners have released £100m in assets to invest in mission initiatives. Planting new congregations has become an industry in itself, even having its own Bishop and backed up by the work of New Wine, HTB, Fresh Expressions, Messy Church and many others. We have had over two decades of evangelical ascendancy and the majority of senior leaders will now emphasise mission and evangelism above anything else. New evangelistic resources appear on the scene all the time, countless new para-church groups and agencies appear with fresh ideas or new materials. We massively emphasise discipleship to try equip existing Christians to share faith more successfully. I could go on and on. This is a vast and ever-growing industry.

“And what has been the impact? Accelerated decline. In 2001, according to census data, 71% of the UK population identified themselves as Christian. In just ten years, that figure had dropped to 59%. And the trend continues. The 2016 British Social Attitudes Survey found that 48.5% of the population said they were ‘nones’ (ie that they have no religion), outnumbering Christians  who were just 43.8%. Between 1980 and 2015, the percentage of the population attending church declined from 11.8% of the population to 5.0%. In the Church of England attendance decline increases steadily each year and averages around 2% to 3% per annum.

“We are all trying massively hard to renew the Church. We are working like crazy, we are praying like mad, we are trying every new idea under the sun. Yet the longed-for renewal does not seem to come. In fact decline just seems to speed up. Why? Why are we struggling so much? I want to suggest that the answer is quite a straightforward one. It’s because we have forgotten the poor.

“…The lesson of scripture, the lesson of the past is clear. If we want renewal, we must start with the poor. And yet in the Church of England we have a mission approach that is almost entirely focussed on the needs and aspirations of the wealthy. Rather than speaking good news to the poor, we are complicit in the abandonment of the poor.

“…Nationally we spend £8 per head of population on ministry. In some rural areas that figure rises to £24 per head. On the estates we spend just £5 per head, by far the lowest. The poorer you are, the less the church values you.

“…When my old Parish in Hartlepool, a thriving estates Church, was vacant a few years ago, it was over two years before the Bishop could appoint. Clergy didn’t want to live in that kind of area, they didn’t want their children educated alongside the poor – you’ll know the litany of excuses. At the same time a Parish in Paddington was advertised and at once attracted 122 expressions of interest. That is the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England.

“…in 2011 the Synod of the Church of England passed a new table of fees that massively increased the cost of funerals and weddings. Normally if you want to work Synod up to a frenzy you give a rousing speech about a bias to the poor. They love to listen to that sort of thing, but they don’t like to pay for it. That fee increase was nodded through with just two votes against. Without any real fuss at all, we calmly priced the poor out of the ministry of the Church.

“…If you go to a suburban church you will usually find a comfortable and well maintained building with carpets, heating, clean toilets and good music. Estates churches rarely have the money to maintain themselves properly. If you’re poor all you’re worth is a cold and half derelict building.

“…The Church loves to rail against social inequality. And yet we absolutely model the social inequality we so often condemn. The Church of England loves to boast about being a Christian presence in every community. And yet in those communities that most need to hear the message of hope we find in Jesus, that presence is ever weaker or non-existent.

“…Areas characterised by social deprivation desperately need a Gospel of hope. And yet what are we doing? We are withdrawing. We are under-investing. What kind of church is it that turns its back on the dispossessed, or offers them only crumbs from the table of the rich?

“…I remember once when I was running an estates Church in London I was rung up by a member of the Diocesan finance team who said, in passing, ‘Well of course you are a subsidised Parish aren’t you?’ And I realised that for the previous 20 years of my ministry, that’s how I had thought of myself. A subsidised priest, only able to minister because of the largesse and generosity of the wider Church. But who is subsidising whom? Yes, arguably, there may be a small financial subsidy from rich to poor. But the spiritual subsidy flows the other way. It is the rich church that is subsidised by the poor church, because unless it is proclaiming good news to the poor, the Church is not the church at all.

And his solution?

“…we need to reflect on the content of our proclamation. There is a perception that there is a single, verbal Gospel message that can be picked up and dropped from place to place. ‘Christ died for our sins.’ ‘Life in all its fullness.’ Those well-known statements which so easily trip off the Christian tongue. But the Gospel is not a message. It is a person, Jesus Christ, and the way he speaks into different contexts and situations differs from place to place. If you turn up on an estate with nice, tidy complacent answers to questions no one is asking, they will tear you to shreds. Successful evangelism begins with intense listening, with a profound desire to hear the issues on people’s minds and a genuine open heart to discern how Jesus speaks into them. If you’re in debt, what is the good news? If you’re dependent on a foodbank to feed your children, what is the good news? If you’re cripplingly lonely and can’t afford the bus into town, what is the good news? Simple formulae, or trite clichés about God’s love won’t do as answers to these questions.

“…We need to raise up leaders in, for and from the urban church. The best person to speak the Gospel into an urban estate is someone who has grown up there, so we need to be courageous and take risks in raising up a local leadership. Catapulting in 200 white, well-educated, beautiful people from the nice bit of town will dispossess and disempower local residents. The impact will be to take their church away from them such that the church will become just another service provided on their behalf by patronising outsiders. In the Church of England our current structures for selecting and training licensed lay or ordained leaders are woefully unfit for purpose and deliver only white, graduate class leaders. The time for tolerating this systemic failure is now over. We must take risks in raising up local leadership, leadership that cannot and will not speak the jargon-laden drivel of the contemporary church but will instead have the Gospel energy to transform it.

“…I am astonished at the number of people Jesus is calling to plant new churches as long as they are in Zones 1 and 2 of the London transport system. It’s the wrong place to start. Renewal comes from courageous mission to the places where it’s toughest. If you feel called to plant, we need you on the outer estates, we need you in our northern towns, we need you in areas where a majority of people come from other world faiths, we need you in those areas where the trendy coffee shops and artisanal bakers are hard to find. Come there if you really want to make a difference in Jesus’ name.

And the task is urgent, because:

“…We know the stats. Within 10 years we will have all but lost the Church in the poorest areas. We will have become a complacent, smug church of and for the rich.

“…church seems to me to be a symbol of too much of our contemporary Christian life. We are so busy looking back to the church’s past that we fail to see ahead to God’s future. And that is especially a feature of the urban church where declining numbers and decaying buildings are the norm. People are so locked in memories of what they were that they cannot see God’s future. We see the church through the eyes of grief. If only things could be what they once were.”

The spirit of the Lord is upon Bishop Philip North, because God he has anointed him to preach good news to the poor. He has sent him to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

And God has also anointed him to preach a few prophetic home truths to the lukewarm wing of the Church of England.

What a pity that so many believe him to be ‘unsuitable‘ for episcopal advancement – indeed, that to appoint him a diocesan bishop would “cause significant pastoral and public damage to the church” – just because of his orthodox catholic beliefs about sacerdotal ministry.

  • DW

    It sounds like he would be the perfect appointment.
    The church appears to spend more time ensuring it is politically correct whilst ignoring the fact that the gospel is not

  • Sarky

    This may go some way to explaining it..

    http://dailym.ai/2uq4H9p

    • Anton

      Should the definition of poverty be absolute or relative?

      • Sarky

        Does it matter?

        • Anton

          Yes. I’m happy to help the hungry. I’m not happy to subsidise large flatscreen TVs and cigarettes.

          • “The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”

            “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do….We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbour, to love our enemy as well as our friend.”
            (Dorothy Day)

          • Anton

            Too bad nobody told Paul of Dorothy Day’s words about not discriminating between the deserving and undeserving poor, when the apostle wrote that If a man willed not to work then he should not be given food to eat (2 Thess 3:10).

            If you want to subsidise fags and flatscreens for the poor, nothing is stopping you.

          • Miss this bit: “What we would like to do is change the world – make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do….”

            Try this one too: “If you feed the poor, you’re a saint. If you ask why they’re poor, you’re a Communist.”

            Ever heard of the concept of “structures of sin”? Jack deplores welfare dependency. Why has it arisen? Who benefits most from it? It’s own internal contradictions will eventually bring it crashing down as it wrecks society because it has endeavoured to socialise and industrialise “love” and it is destroying families and a sense communal solidarity. But don’t blame those caught up in its evil vice and label them “undeserving”. Is it any wonder they hide behind TV screens and addictive substances.

          • Anton

            I’m not labelling people in welfare dependency as undeserving. I’m labelling them as not poor, in the sense the Bible means.

          • And like anyone addicted to a lifestyle, prudential and measured words and actions are required to wean off the dependency. Personally, Jack fears it has all passed the tipping point. The radical left want it to crash and burn to foster violent revolution. Similarly, the radical right do too so that order can be imposed on the ensuing chaos.

          • CliveM

            Well argued

          • Why thank you, Clive.

      • For God’s sake!

        “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”
        (Oscar Romero)

        • Anton

          You know not what I have seen.

          • Well then reflect this in your comments.

          • Anton

            You seem not to take into account the differences between preaching, blogs, and 1:1 conversations.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Excellent question.

    • Of what relevance is a US based study to this conversation?

      • Sarky

        Because if you actually read this conversation you will see that the attitude to the poor appears to be shared this side of the pond.

  • Anton

    “We are all trying massively hard to renew the Church. We are working like crazy, we are praying like mad, we are trying every new idea under the sun. Yet the longed-for renewal does not seem to come. In fact decline just seems to speed up. Why? Why are we struggling so much? I want to suggest that the answer is quite a straightforward one. It’s because we have forgotten the..

    What’s the missing word? Poor? Or Bible?

    • Missed the *message*, didn’t you?

      “But the Gospel is not a message. It is a person, Jesus Christ, and the way he speaks into different contexts and situations differs from place to place …. “

      Give them a bit of hellfire and brimstone, eh? Call them to repent and turn from evil, eh? A few passages, out of context, from Romans and Corinthians will do the trick.

      • Anton

        The problem in the CoE is theological liberalism, which is a clear departure from scripture. Rather than criticise me for wishing to kick it out of the CoE, you might do your best to keep it out of the CoR – beginning with the Pope.

        • As Jack said, you really, really have missed the message.

          • Anton

            The people know that the CoE doesn’t really believe in anything. Why? They can see that it is following the world, a few steps behind. So, people potentially interested in what the CoE has to offer can see that they won’t get anything different, and people uninterested in it prefer the world, as it provides an up-to-date version of what the CoE provides rather later.

            That is the primary reason why the CoE is in decline, not its ministry to the poor.

          • Jesus reached out to the poor and at the same time castigated the religious leaders. It’s not an either/or option.

            “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has anointed me, and sent me out to preach the gospel to the poor, to restore the broken-hearted; to bid the prisoners go free, and the blind have sight; to set the oppressed at liberty, to proclaim a year when men may find acceptance with the Lord, a day of retribution.”

          • carl jacobs

            You err greatly if you immanentize those categories.

          • And if you spiritualise it away and ignore the world, you are also in error.

            Sheep and Goats.

            “God is not satisfied with appearance. God wants the garment of justice. God wants his Christians dressed in love.”
            (Oscar Romero)

          • carl jacobs

            Jesus was not a Bread king. He did not come to satisfy the material needs of man. Otherwise His whole ministry would have been one long replay of feeding the 5000.

            And if spiritualise it away and ignore the world, you are also in error.

            Fair enough. I didn’t say otherwise. But that has nothing to do with that verse. The poor, the blind, the oppressed – those are universal categories that describe the universal condition of man. The physical is shadow to the spiritual.

          • The two cannot be separated:

            “The absolute desire of ‘having more’ encourages the selfishness that destroys communal bonds among the children of God. It does so because the idolatry of riches prevents the majority from sharing the goods that the Creator has made for all, and in the all-possessing minority it produces an exaggerated pleasure in these goods.”
            (Oscar Romero – Saint and Christian Martyr)

          • carl jacobs

            Who is this Oscar Romero you keep quoting and why should I care about what he says?

            Update: Ah. Never mind. Liberation Theology. I understand now. I should have checked before I asked. I thought I remembered the name.

          • Are you serious? You’ve never heard of him?

          • He’s must certainly not a “liberation theologist” – though the left like to claim him as such and the right accuse him of this. Romero, was not a supporter of liberation theology. He desired a social revolution based on interior reform.

            Here’s another of his quotes:

            “Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. …In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression.”
            (Oscar Romero )

            Shortly afterwards he was gunned down whilst celebrating Mass.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The message is the wrong one.

        • That’s as may be and Jack agrees. However, Bishop North isn’t a liberal theologian and isn’t focussing his energies on attacking them. God knows he could and a lesser man would.

          One can bleat all one likes about the problems of left-leaning clerics and retaliate with *bible believing* foot stamping. Or one can set-off and establish independent exclusive congregations, huddle together and do one’s own thing. Meantime, let all those living on “sink estates” go down the drain.

          Pope Francis isn’t great on theology but Jack happens to agree with his efforts to get the institutional Church to see itself more as a “Field Hospital” for the spiritually sick and needy who’s wounds need binding in the daily chaos and confusion of their lives. Shepherds who get amongst the sheep, smell of them, meet them in their misery, with confidence in the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

          • carl jacobs

            Pope Francis isn’t great on theology

            OK, typical British understatement is one thing, but really now …

          • … and the rest of Jack’s comment about Pope Francis’ focus on people in spiritual and material need?

          • carl jacobs

            Largely “motherhood and apple pie” stuff tbh. Hard to disagree with because the details are left to the reader.

          • Isn’t that how Jesus taught? In parables and similes familiar to a Judaic, agricultural nation versed in the Old Testament message that had been distorted by the religious leaders. Some took His food and ate; and others ate and received His message.

          • carl jacobs

            You tell me, Jack. There is a stench of collectivism around your posts. Is it just my imagination?

          • That’s is your perception, Carl, based on your own world view and internal concepts. It’s not imagination because it’s rooted in your construction of reality.

            Jack is not a “collectivist”, nor is he an “individualist”. His concern is for all people made in the image of God – rich and poor both spiritually and materially – and with the common good. A humane society where everyone shares in the wealth and gifts of creation. More accurate terms would be “solidarity”, aligned with “subsidiarity”.

            No details and “apple pie and motherhood” you say. A worthy ambition, Jack says, even if the world is so fallen as to make it impossible because it rejects the only thing that can hold it together – the Gospel.

          • Anton

            One can bleat all one likes about the problems of left-leaning clerics and retaliate with *bible believing* foot stamping. Or one can set-off and establish independent exclusive congregations, huddle together and do one’s own thing. Meantime, let all those living on “sink estates” go down the drain.

            Why do you suppose that establishing independent congregations and concern for the poor are mutually exclusive? The 18th century episcopacy’s callous unconcern for the poor indirectly did a lot to further nonconformism and the nonconformists were first to preach in the new industrial slums. I think it is still true today.

            Left-leaning clerics are OK with me provided that they have a passion for the gospel.

          • Merchantman

            I think one must not just rely on being a field hospital although that is a Great calling for Christs followers. At some point and early on, the people need to hear the voice, the Word in love; because ‘Faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word’.
            On his mission Jesus gave people their physical needs; food, healing and the goal; their Spiritual rebirth and sustenance which came initially through his uttering Truth so they could understand who he was and be partakers.

          • And He spoke to ordinary folk in parables and similes based on their daily lives and experiences that they would understand – if they had a mind to. He fed with words and with food. All ate His food, some heard His words.

          • Merchantman

            Amazing Grace indeed.

    • magnolia

      We have forgotten to wait upon the Spirit and we think we can do it in our own power, with our favoured formuli, and trendy tickboxes.

      The Spirit blows where it will, and if you are in its headwinds you will see be swept up.

      Unless the Lord builds the house they that labour, labour in vain.

      He doesn’t want us to think renewal is due to our work. He wants us to worship him for his gifts of grace. he doesn’t want every new idea under the sun. He wants us to listen to Him, even if we feel like idiots when doing so.

  • Powerful message.

    Wonder if all those Guardian reading priests and bishops so focussed on sexuality and the latest rainbow fashion accessories will pay attention. The Labour Party moves into these areas with its twisted “Social Justice” message stoking up class division, promoting a politics of envy and offering its solution of ever greater state dependency, cheered on by those clerics preoccupied with *inclusion, *diversity* and *embracing* one another in *love*.

    “There is a perception that there is a single, verbal Gospel message that can be picked up and dropped from place to place. ‘Christ died for our sins.’ ‘Life in all its fullness.’ Those well-known statements which so easily trip off the Christian tongue. But the Gospel is not a message. It is a person, Jesus Christ, and the way he speaks into different contexts and situations differs from place to place …. Simple formulae, or trite clichés about God’s love won’t do as answers to these questions.”

  • BigD

    Similar ideas, albeit mixed with US racial/progressive politics, in this piece from Sojourners on gentrification & church-planting in the USA https://sojo.net/magazine/july-2017/church-planting-and-gospel-gentrification

  • The church has not forgotten the poor. The Church of England is one of the organisations most involved in poor areas. We are often the last organisation there when others have moved out. Through the parish share system the CofE subsidises ministry in poor areas far far in excess of any other denomination.

    Truth is most of these poor urban estates and now highly ethnically diverse and largely Muslim. We withdraw because it is no longer financially viable to sustain and subsidise ministry in a place where most people are of another religion or, if Christian, attend their own ethnically based church.

    Philip North does his church a disservice. We need healthy middle class churches to sustain the cross-subsidy for urban ministry. His diagnosis is also far too simplistic. Can he cite any evidence to support his claim that prioritising the poor is a panacea to the church’s woes?

    Church decline is linked to massive cultural changes in our society. We should sustain ministry to the poor. But don’t be fooled by the bishop’s rhetoric that it is the magic bullet to solve all our problems.

    • Manfarang

      “Truth is most of these poor urban estates and now highly ethnically diverse and largely Muslim.”
      Hartlepool is largely Muslim? I didn’t notice.

      • magnolia

        I don’t think Hartlepool is a good example.

        Any set of inhabitants that could elect Peter Mandelson is sui generis having its own peculiar set of spiritual problems. With some candidates anyone of even passing integrity abandons their party affiliations even should they be lifetime ones.

        • Manfarang

          2011 Census
          White or White British: Total
          55,010,359 87.1%
          Most of the ethnics are London and a few other cities.

          • London, the most populous city, and a few others like Birmingham and Manchester, the next two most populous.

  • Damaris Tighe

    If I may say so as a Catholic on an Anglican blog. Bishop North points out that Anglican clergy don’t want to take their families to deprived areas. Catholicism doesn’t have this problem, first, because being celibate their priests go wherever the need is without further consideration; second, Catholic priests being single are sent by their hierarchy to wherever they’re needed, again, usually without further consideration.

    I’m not intending to bash the CoE here. When Anglo-Catholicism arose as a radical movement in the 19th century, it sent out missions to the urban poor which were very successful. Their priests, like Roman priests, were unmarried and thus separated from ‘bourgeois’ concerns about insalubrious neighbourhoods.

    • IanCad

      The Catholics don’t mind getting their hands dirty. God Bless ’em.

      • We always scrub-up on a Sunday.

        • IanCad

          At least you don’t claim any biblical grounds for it being the day of worship ordained of God, or, not until Dies Domini you didn’t.

          • Anton

            Any day is as good as any other.

            let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – Colossians 2:16.

          • IanCad

            Anton, I think you are mistaken; this verse refers to the Mosaic Law, not the Decalogue, as the next verse (17) makes clear.

          • Anton

            The Decalogue is part of Mosaic Law. It is the first part of it and arguably the paragraph headings for it but it is still part of the Law of Moses, for it was given to Moses at Sinai; and it is not even the most important part of it according to Christ, who singled out two other commands (Love God and your neighbour).

          • IanCad

            I have to entirely disagree Anton. Feeling lazy so excuse me if I resort to copying a comment from a couple of months ago which addresses our dispute:

            John, we have completely different views on the subject. Traditional Protestant and I believe, Catholic teaching, clearly differentiate the two laws. Permit me to present a few, stating the Moral law first:

            Spoken by God Himself – Spoken by Moses.
            Exodus 20:1, 22 – Exodus 24:3
            Written by God on stone – Written in a book by Moses.
            Exodus 31:18 – Exodus 24:4-7, Deut.31:24
            Placed in the Ark by Moses – Deposited by the Levites in the side of the Ark.
            Deut. 10:5 – Deut. 31:26
            Relates to moral precepts – Addresses ritual and ceremonial matters.
            Exodus 20:3-17 – Leviticus , Deuteronomy, Numbers….
            Breaking the law is sin – No sin for it is abolished.
            1 John 3:4 – Ephesians 2:15, Romans 4:15
            Judged by it – Not judged by it.
            James 2:12 – Colossians 2:16
            The perfect law of liberty – Yoke of bondage.
            James 1:25, 2:12 – Galatians 5:1,3
            The law is spiritual – the law is carnal.
            Romans 7:14 – Hebrews 7:16

            Please show me John, where in Holy Scripture does it state that the Christian Sabbath is on the First Day??

          • Anton

            I’m not sure who John is but I don’t actually see any argument against what I’ve said that the 10 Commandments are part of the Law of Moses, not more and not less. The facts you point out imply that they are a vital part of it, but they are still part of it and not anything else. Why? Because they were given to Israel at Sinai and not to anybody else, were they not?

          • IanCad

            I left John’s name in the comment – saw no reason to edit it out.
            The Ten Commandments were given prior to the Laws of Moses; not much prior, but clearly separate and were a summation of the worship and obedience to God as required by Him. True, it could be justly claimed to be part of the whole, but they are distinct in their application and endurance.
            All the ten laws were valid from creation – the law of natural right – Love and duty to God and to man. no worshipping of idols, no murder, thievery, lying etc. It should be noted that in the Fourth Commandment is the instruction to “Remember.” Implicit in this demand would be the pre-existence of the ordinance and could be presumed thus for the other commands.
            Given that the ceremonial Law was abolished at the cross, would not a conflation of the two sets of laws require the cancellation of the Moral?
            I am assuming this is your reasoning as it would appear entirely logical and to some would further their contention that grace has done away with the necessity for law. To this I would counter that without law there is no grace. it seems quite clear to me this is the case, for there is more than ample biblical evidence that we are indeed judged by our obedience to the law as taught by Christ.
            Antinomianism has had a chequered history; today it seems rife in New Covenant theologies but then again, I read where it is not so. It is certainly a minority view – not that minorities are often proven right to the chagrin of the masses.
            Not sure where we go from here but it is a privilege to be able to dialogue with such as your goodself – a Scholar and a Gentleman.

    • The Snail

      Perhaps this is where all the celibate LGBT CofE clergy should be stationed if it’s all about the children of clergy!!

  • carl jacobs

    But the Gospel is not a message. It is a person, Jesus Christ, and the way he speaks into different contexts and situations differs from place to place.

    This is flat-out false. This is not how the Gospel is presented in Scripture.

    • CliveM

      Is Jesus the Christ not the Good News?

      • Anton

        He said that he is the way the truth and the life but not that he is the good news. The good news is that he covers your sins.

        • CliveM

          I tend to see that as separating the person and the message. Fine when talking about mankind, not when you are talking about God, who is described in the gospels as the word made flesh.

          • Anton

            LOGOS means a bit more than ‘text’!

            It is the etymological origin of “-ology” which tends to get tacked onto nouns nowadays to denote everything about that noun. Christ is the -ology of everything: that is what John was saying.

          • Yeah, that’ll go down well in Salford.

          • Anton

            About as well as the difference between latria and dulia.

          • Which you proddies raise – not Catholics.
            All we say is: God loves you, Jesus Christ came here as man because He loves you and His mother Mary loves you too and will help and protect you through her son.

          • Anton

            Already too much.

          • Merchantman

            I agreed with your earlier comment about Jesus being the centre of our Faith giving himself through his victory at calvary and adopting us as brothers, but bring in Marianism and you lose me.

          • Separate topic, covered in full yesterday. Jack was simply countering a point by Anton.

          • Merchantman

            I upticked you anyway, Thanks!

          • The Snail

            His mother only gave one command in scripture – “whatever he says do it”. Where do you get all the other stuff?

          • Read the comments in yesterdays article. This thread is about another subject. Bless you.

        • The Good News is that He loves you, will meet you where you are, wherever you are, and will transform you. That is the Gospel – and it is Jesus Christ who offered Himself in Perfect Love to His Father that we might live. The Word made flesh.

      • carl jacobs

        The Gospel is preached. It is proclaimed. It is a message that has content and that content is that Christ died for your sins and rose for your justification. Doing good works for the poor is not the Gospel. You will never evangelize a single soul by doing good works. Else we should credit the liberals with filling up heaven. Their whole vision of Christianity is immanentized works. Yet what do we say about them? “They are spiritually dead.” Why? Because they reject the content of the Gospel.

        • CliveM

          The gospel is also lived. Without a living witness, our words are empty and we preach empty words.

        • magnolia

          I have just spent some time- undergoing extraordinary abuse during it,- gently persuading two people within a group who identify as Christians that we all sin (or fall short, for I did define it) frequently. I think I succeeded eventually as they remembered the Lord’s prayer tells them they do!! At first some thought it was a terrible thing to believe, and no-one would be attracted to Christianity if that is what it said, as it was SO negative.

          This is the influence of TV and general dumbing-down, and media immersion, and I believe this is far nearer to the problem than how much Anglicanism relates to the poor.

          The other place where he is wrong is in assuming that only people of lower social class can lead those of lower social class. We are all people, and that should be the most important thing. We need to be able to speak to “all sorts and conditions of men” (people). Jesus was. But that probably needs to take into account that those in poor areas aspire upwards more than downwards.

          We also need to have those in power in our camp as far as possible. Other camps will snaffle them otherwise, as there is no such thing as a spiritual vacuum, and that would be to the detriment of all.

          • Manfarang

            It’s a sin to be poor it seems.

          • magnolia

            It is no sin to be poor, nor in all cases to be rich! St Paul knew both and claimed to know how to do both.

            “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I
            have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
            whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
            (Philippians 4.12)

            It is not unusual to know both conditions during one lifetime even these days.

          • Manfarang

            33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
            34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth

            Protestant ethic and all that.

          • Martin

            No one is attracted to Christianity.

          • Manfarang

            I knew a taxi driver in my neighbourhood who became a Christian.
            He was attracted to the idea of Sunday being a day without work.

  • David

    I have no doubt about the spiritual integrity of Philip North nor do I doubt his enthusiasm for reaching out to the poor with the gospel. The attacks on him by the liberals were disgusting, and demonstrated that Welby’s “good disagreement” is a myth.
    In the 18th century Wesley’s brand of Anglicanism brought millions in the industrial slums to Christ. But because he tread on stuffy class ridden Anglican bishops’ sensitivities he was forced to create Methodism. In the 19th century dedicated Anglo-Catholic Anglican priests took the love of God into the heart of our worst slums and brought many to God. Both forms of Christianity can bring men and women to God.
    But now we face a deeper rejection of God. Contemporary culture encourages people not just to fail to do good, or not to stop doing wrong, but it attempts to redefine good as bad, and sin as virtue. It rejects God’s advice almost totally. Liberalism in all its forms is inverting morality – it is that twisted.
    Yet still the gospel needs to be preached and souls saved for Christ. So how ?
    Well regardless of the arguments about cross financing or other administrative arrangements and alternatives, nothing, absolutely nothing will be achieved unless theological liberalism, the luke warm Laodicean form of faith, is rejected in favour of a decisive return to upholding and promoting orthodox, full gospel, traditional Christianity. The presentation can of course be contextually sensitive, but the message must be starkly different from the “anything goes”, “you know best” messages of 21st century western culture. God calls us to repent of our sins and then receive His forgiveness and salvation, by grace, through faith. God’s love is immense but it is conditional to us rejecting our own sinful, rebellious hearts and slowly being willingly transferred by the power of The Holy Spirit working within us.

  • Martin

    Oh dear, His Grace has gone for the social gospel.

    What is really needed in the CoE is renewal, or rather pruning. The dead wood needs to be cut back. Those bishops who are soft on LGBT need to be kicked out on their ear and piled on the bonfire. The Bible needs to be applied, and that means that those women who mistakenly think they have a ‘calling’ need to be pointed to the Scripture that says that no woman may have a leadership role in God’s Church, Altars need to be removed together with candles and the pulpit needs to be placed at the centre of the worship. And no, worship doesn’t mean singing pop inspired songs.

    Can I see it happening? Not a chance, the CoE will go the way of the Methodists and the URCs, closing churches and becoming social centres.

    • carl jacobs

      Altars need to be removed together with candles and the pulpit needs to be placed at the centre of the worship. And no, worship doesn’t mean singing pop inspired songs.

      This is all legalism. You drifted into the realm of tradition and would impose it upon Christian freedom. The position of the pulpit is nothing. The presence or non-presence of an altar is nothing. And there are good modern songs being written – pop or otherwise. Worship is Spirit and Truth. All if this is orthogonal to Spirit and Truth.

      Also, if you are going to talk about bishops being put into a bonfire, you should make clear you are speaking metaphorically.

      Otherwise, I agree with what you said.

      • Martin

        Carl

        No, it’s not legalism, it’s removing those things that distract. What should be central in Christian worship is the preaching of the word, that is simply all there is to it. Many modern songs come from those whose Christian witness is questionable and are not singable by an unaided congregation. They are designed fro show and ‘musicians’ make full use of that.

        At to bonfire, I thought it was pretty clear that I was speaking metaphorically.

        • carl jacobs

          If it’s not legalism then where stands it written?

          • Martin

            Carl

            Wouldn’t it be legalism if it were written?

          • carl jacobs

            No. The Commandents aren’t legalism. The prohibition against female leadership (which you asserted) is not legalism because it is written in Scripture. Legalism is turning the commands of men in the commands of God. So where is it written that the pulpit must be placed in the center? Where is it written that there must be a pulpit? Where is it written that there must be a building architected to contain a pulpit in the center? These are all traditions. You are free to do them or not.

            Spirit and Truth, not form and liturgy.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Why would you have an altar, what would you sacrifice on it?

          • carl jacobs

            You are confusing the altar with theology. Is the problem with a RC Mass the altar or the theology of the Mass? One can remove the latter without removing the former. I really don’t know why certain denominations use an altar. I simply know that an altar may be used in a God-pleasing manner. In fact I know those who do so. The use of an altar does not imply sacramentalism or acceptance of the errors of the Mass.

          • Martin

            Carl

            An altar is somewhere you sacrifice something, that’s the meaning of the word.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, that’s correct. So what you would have to do is examine the theological symbolism behind its use. You don’t have a prima facia case simply because Rome uses an altar in the Mass.

          • Martin

            Carl

            I have nothing physical to sacrifice.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s not relevant.

          • Martin

            Carl

            It’s entirely relevant to the need for a physical altar.

          • carl jacobs

            No, it isn’t. You need to examine why it was put there in terms of the theology behind its use. You can’t just say “I have no need of it so you shouldn’t have it.”

          • Martin

            Carl

            There is no theology that justifies the ‘use’ of an altar. You have nothing to sacrifice on it.

          • carl jacobs

            You should tell that to the Anglican Calvinist minister I have in mind – whom I know personally and who has an altar in his church. I am sure he would be most interested in your reasons. Can you tell him why he uses it? Or will you just say “You have no just reason. Get rid of it!”

            Earlier you said you were not binding the conscience of any man, and yet here you would do exactly that.

          • Martin

            Carl

            As far as I can see the only reason you have given for having an altar is tradition. Seeing that tradition derives from Romanism and the Mass it stinks of idolatry.

          • carl jacobs

            I haven’t given any reason at all. You are the one demanding reasons without authority. What business is it of yours whether another church uses an altar? Who are you to accuse a brother of idolatry because Roman doctrine is idolatrous?

          • Anton

            What is wrong with Martin’s logic that the definition of an altar is something upon which you sacrifice something, and if you never sacrifice anything physical upon the relevant part of physical church furniture and you deny that Communion is a sacrifice then it shouldn’t be called an altar?

          • carl jacobs

            Nothing is wrong with it. Do you have the authority to impose it?

          • Anton

            Of course not; nor was I trying to.

          • Martin

            Carl

            I ask because altar has a specific meaning and I’m not accusing anyone of anything.

            You are remarkably touchy on the subject.

          • Watchman

            I once asking the rector of our village why he had an altar in the church. He said that it was just another name for a table. So why not call it a table. It seems that when the CofE broke away from Rome it left itself with a lot of the idolatrous junk associated with Rome, particularly in the buildings it inherited.

          • “Inherited”? Something of a euphemism that. Similar to saying one “redesigned” the Abbeys and Monasteries of England and “redistributed” their goods.

          • Watchman

            It would have been better if they had burnt down the buildings as they have proved a stumbling block to the church; expensive to maintain and became idolatrous in their own right.

            From Paul’s Mars Hill address:

            ” God having made the world and all things that are in it, He being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in hand-made temples,”

          • One reaps what one sows. Theft and destruction has its own payback.

          • Watchman

            Alas, you are right! Even a small amount of leaven will spoil the whole batch and the church that is subject to the whims of men will eventually fall into apostasy. The CofE had a good start by by having a reformation rather than a resurrection; starting at the beginning rather than with the leaven it “inherited” from its Romish roots.

          • That’s an excellent summation of the current trajectory of much of modern day Protestantism: “the church that is subject to the whims of men will eventually fall into apostasy.”
            So insightful.

          • Watchman

            I was thinking about both Rome and the CofE. Rome has certainly had more time and more men to tinker and their apostasy is so of the scale that I didn’t count it as part of Christendom. So I guess your lot win, Jack.

          • And the Eastern Orthodox Church? Do you consider them “apostates” too?

          • Watchman

            Are you making another nomination, Jack? I do not know much about their doctrines to know how far they have strayed from biblical truth. Their pantomime outfits are very impressive though!

          • Their major doctrines are all in line with the Catholic Church but with more on an emphasis on pastoral care and spirituality. The main source of disagreement being whether the Bishop of Rome is Supreme Pontiff or primus inter pares. Some resolvable differences over the Holy Spirit and His dynamic relationship in the Trinity; and some areas to tidy-up over the consequences of the Fall.
            So what your particular mix of Christianity?

          • Watchman

            I believe that the 66 books of the bible are the complete inerrant Word of God to mankind. Everything we need to know in order to glorify God and fulfil the commands of Jesus is contained in its pages. Any writing, prophecy, doctrine and practice must not be in contradiction to His Word. This includes the the practice and management of the local church, the model being provided by the early church and Paul’s admonisions and instructions to the church; this includes the independence of the local church from a central body; the Head of the church being Jesus Himself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus death and resurrection is complete and has done everything that is necessary for me to have a direct relationship with God, the Father. We can know the will of God for ourselves and our local church through prayer, fasting and reading His Word. It that enough?

          • Yep, well a good part of that Jack agrees with. You’ll know the parts Jack doesn’t. As Ardenjm said, that really tells Jack very little about how you mix and match the various theories into your own particular cocktail.
            Where do you stand on Calvin and his novel notion of predestination?

          • Watchman

            I don’t mix and match theories. The wonderful thing about God’s Word is that it is inexhaustible and constantly revealing more as a result of reading and meditating. I do not need theory, I need truth and no one can give that to me except the Father through the Holy Spirit. What I don’t understand today I may, by His Grace, understand tomorrow.
            The simple answer on Calvinism is that, as expounded, I reject it on the grounds that it robs us of the free will which we were given at the creation. However I cannot deny that as God lives outside the constraints of time He knows the beginning from the end. This is one of the mysteries than has not been revealed. Remember:
            “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the LORD’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts”.

          • Thank you.
            Jack completely agrees with your rejection of Calvin’s view on predestination. Jack agrees too that the seeming paradox of how free will, wounded at the Fall, works with God’s Sovereignty and man’s free will, remains a mystery. There was a protracted, fierce disagreement about this in the Church and the matter has never been settled.
            Infused or imputed grace? Resistible or irresistible grace? One saved always, always saved?

          • Watchman

            I do not trouble myself with such issues but believe God’s Word as revealed to me. Paul went to a great deal of trouble to explain some of the mysteries of faith, particularly in his letter to the Roman Christians. If I accept, as I do, that his letters are inspired then who do I believe, someone who styles himself as learned, or Paul?

            The first time I got into a pulpit i spoke of the simplicity of the gospel that was clear to the simplest of men yet confounded those who regarded themselves as learned and wise. It was perhaps for these people Paul wrote this:
            “For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools”

            I settled the question of once saved, always saved after a heated discussion of the ministry of Captain Henry Gereke at the Nuremberg trials. Many of those under his chaplaincy were were born again: some of the most notorious persecutors of the Jews who had ever lived. (This also speaks clearly about the enormity of the Grace of God who would offer salvation to such people). I suggested that it would have better for those had those who received salvation to be executed rather than imprisoned for fear of losing salvation. My antagonist agreed. It became clear to me that such a proposition was ridiculous.

            Jack, the gospel is a simple message, understanding it is not so simple.

          • God Bless you , Watchman. Jack, by the grace of God, is, and will always remain, a fierce “Romanist”.

            As scripture says:
            – I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8);
            – I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12); and
            – I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15).

            Like Paul, we work on our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).

          • Watchman

            Thank you Jack, may He bless you too; always remembering that
            “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification”, and this was a complete work; there is nothing we or anyone else can do to add to it but only humbly accept it.

          • You couldn’t resist, Watchman! Jack will have to pay attention when conversing with you.
            Our own works alone can never justify us, but works that grow out of faith in Christ are part of our justification. That’s why Paul says we must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) And this squares with James’s teaching that works that grow from faith justify: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” (Jas. 2:21)

          • Watchman

            No, Jack, I couldn’t resist, let’s say I was inspired!

            Paul didn’t mean that you had to work in order to have salvation, that would be a contradiction to the rest of his ministry. You have to link this with verse 8 in which he extols the obedience of Jesus; he is exhorting the church at Phillipi to emulate the obedience of Jesus in showing the fruit of their faith by “working it out”.

            Abraham was justified by faith long before he offered Isaac (Genesis 15:6). But his obedience in offering Isaac demonstrated that he really did trust God. It was a justification of his faith rather than a justification of himself.

          • Let’s leave it until, God willing, we meet in purgatory …. ;o)

          • Watchman

            You couldn’t resist, Jack! You may be going to purge a Tory but I’m going straight to the glory. I’ve heard that if you follow the pope on twitter you get time off in purgatory. He’s managed to collect 27million followers this way.

            By the way Eph 2:5-8; you forgot verse 9, it’s crucial.

          • Jack assiduously avoids following Pope Francis on twitter. He twitters enough for this man on aeroplanes.

          • Martin

            The Puritans made a great deal of effort to remove this sort of thing but were forced out of the CoE in the Great Ejection of 1662.

          • Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.
            (As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.)

            “Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendour.”
            (Pope Benedict XVI)

            “Thus [the altar] brings heaven into the community assembled on earth, or rather it takes the community beyond itself into the communion of saints of all times and places. We might put it this way: the altar is the place where heaven is opened up.”
            (Pope Benedict XVI)

            “The ancient liturgy, with its poignant symbols and innumerable subtleties, is a prolonged courtship of the soul, enticing and drawing it onwards, leading it along a path to the mystical marriage, the wedding feast of heaven.”
            (Peter Kwasniewski)

            “If you want a church full of Catholics who know their faith, love their faith and practice their faith, give them a liturgy that is demanding, profound and rigorous. They will rise to the challenge.”
            (Peter Kwasniewski)

            “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper.”
            (Pope Paul VI)

          • Anton

            Poor, poor apostles, what spiritual poverty they suffered for not having the Liturgy!

          • And the troll returneth.

          • Anton

            Doesn’t he just? Which of us has been banned here?

          • Happy Jack has never been banned.

          • Anton

            Ah, I misunderstood something.

          • It was his weaker, more troublesome alter ego – The Last of the Dodos – who is now in peaceful retirement after a few troublesome years on here.

          • ‘For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2).
            No altars, no liturgy, no mariolatry, no symbols, no idols. Just the good news (aka Gospel) of Jesus Christ paying the penalty for the sins of His people.

          • You carry on then … One notes your unidimensional understanding of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord.
            As Jack posted:

            Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.
            (As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live.)

          • One notes your disdain for the words of Paul.
            And faith must come before worship. No one gets saved by osmosis.

          • Not the words of Saint Paul, heaven forbid, but their isolation from the full scriptural revelation of the breath and depth of Christ’s life and the love of His Father.

          • Martin

            Carl

            The purpose of meeting together is the reading and exposition of the word. Surely that means that the pulpit must be central.

          • carl jacobs

            A pulpit does not even need to exist for the Word to be central. You are trying to make a particular symbology into a requirement. You don’t have standing to do that.

          • Martin

            Carl

            So the poor preacher must juggle his notes and Bible among the congregation, only a few of whom can see him.

          • carl jacobs

            This is how far your argument has devolved, Martin. You are now asserting the right to bind a brother’s conscience because a preacher needs some place to put his notes. I grew up in a church where the pulpit was placed to the left as the congregation saw. Everyone could see and everyone could hear and there was plenty of room for notes. What you haven’t done is address the core of my argument. What gives you the authority to impose your symbolic traditions on others?

          • Martin

            Carl

            I’m binding no one’s conscience. Why was the pulpit placed to the left?

          • carl jacobs

            I’m binding no one’s conscience.

            Then we agree that the presence of an altar is a matter of indifference.

            Why was the pulpit placed to the left?

            Because that’s the traditional architecture for a church.

          • Martin

            Carl

            It sounds like you’re binding people to a tradition, that is, you must have an altar in the centre and the pulpit on the left.

          • carl jacobs

            I am saying that Christians are free to do what they wish in this matter. I don’t care where the pulpit goes or if there is one at all. I don’t care if an alter is present or not. I care about Spirit and Truth.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Strange, I was under the impression that you were saying the pulpit had to go on the left to make room for the altar.

          • carl jacobs

            Nope.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Then why may the pulpit not go in the centre?

          • carl jacobs

            Who said it couldn’t?

          • Martin

            Carl

            It appeared you did.

          • Watchman

            A pulpit is in the tradition of men. Jesus taught by the rabbinic method of asking questions and someone has recorded that He only answered three questions in the whole of His recorded ministry. To ask questions one needs an audience to answer them and a pulpit seems a strange place from which to do this. Learning deductively has been repeatedly shown to be a far more successful way of learning than inductively, which is presumably why Jesus taught in the way that He did.

        • Anton

          It was clear to me – I didn’t take “kicked out on their ear” literally! But are you suggesting that hymn singing must be acapella? Some of the psalms themselves call for instrumental accompaniment.

          • Martin

            Anton

            No, I wasn’t calling for a capella hymn singing, but I do enjoy it. It’s also preferable to having a music group out the front.

          • Anton

            Hear hear (literally!)

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, put the music group at the back where they can help the singing, not become some sort of local pop group. I’d rather just a piano anyway!

          • Martin

            Dominic

            The piano is certainly the best instrument for the purpose, guitars have so little definition.

          • Sarky

            Only if they’re played badly!

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Guitars? They do not provide the guidance to the singers that is required.

          • Anton

            As in “I want to learn to play the guitar badly”?

          • CliveM

            Pianos are fine for school assembly, but little else.

          • Martin

            Clive

            Pianos are very good for many things, one of those is accompanying singing. The organ is less so since the start of the note lacks precision.

    • David

      As with Carl below I think you have gone beyond the requirements of faithful obedience to Scripture.
      The existence or positions of altars and pulpits is a matter of mere human tradition, reflecting cultural preferences, and no more than that. Their existence or deletion will neither hinder or promote the telling of the gospel. Having said that I agree with the main thrust of your comment.

      • Martin

        David

        Christians have no altars, since the one sacrifice was completed long ago on the cross. There can be no repetition or re-enactment of that sacrifice, although we do remember it in the bread and wine,

        • David

          In my church, which preaches the full undiluted Gospel, we have the “Lord’s Table”. The word “altar” is I agree theologically most questionable, for the reasons you give. But having a formal table, or not, is neither here nor there, as it is a matter of local preference.

          • Martin

            David

            I said nothing about a table, but I did mention an act of remembrance.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I don’t think Martin is suggesting that the Lord’s Supper be celebrated on the floor….. just NOT on an ‘altar’ (which is a visibly different thing to a table).

          • Martin

            David

            I’ve no problem with a table.

    • Anton

      Nothing in a church building should ever be called an altar, but church architecture is fairly adaptable. Re the pulpit, I don’t need to look at my radio when I’m listening to it! As for worship songs, these should be taken case by case. Those with lousy theology and/or tunes should be dumped. That would mean the enormous majority of the modern ones, to be sure, but do bear in mind that Charles Wesley deliberately wrote words that went to the pop songs of his day. Of course I agree with you about liberal bishops and women.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Does a teacher teach from the back of the class or do the class look at him?

        I’d love to sing the Psalms, sadly my church has given it up and I could live without Wesley’s hymns, some of them have bad theology. And some of those who claim to write worship songs have, as their target, changing the churches in an unbiblical way. Others simply do not appear to be Christians, from their acts and connections. Our modern hymnbooks need drastic pruning.

        • Anton

          The teacher is at the front because there’s a blackboard (or modern equivalent) and for reasons of discipline. Jesus never bothered with a blackboard and one hopes that people in church will behave better than schoolboys!

          Yes of course a few of Charles Wesley’s hymns have bad theology; he wrote thousands. Dumping the lot would mean losing some of the finest hymns we have, though. That is why worship songs should be taken case by case.

          Corporate singing of the psalms would be great, but the traditional Anglican way takes absolutely no account of their differing moods. The music should match the mood or it kills it stone dead. (I’ve heard some of the cheerful ones sung kletzmer-style in Hebrew, and very fine it is.) Also some of the psalms are unsuitable for Christian worship because of the limited analogies between ancient Israel and the church, and because they sometimes don’t reflect Jesus’ deeper revelation, eg the last part of Rivers of Babylon (Ps 137) about dashing the Babylonian woman’s baby against the rocks.

          • Martin

            Anton

            The teacher is at the front to get the pupils attention, to see he has the pupils attention and so the pupil can see his ‘body language’ that adds to his words.

            We used to sing metrical Psalms, the tune being chosen to fit the words. Of course, some of the Psalms are deeply personal and unsuitable for congregational singing, although I think there is a worship song that uses Psalm 137. We must remember too, they are God’s word as much as any part of the Bible.

          • Anton

            Body language adds little compared to tone of voice, and we don’t even have Jesus’ tone of voice in God’s all-sufficient word.

          • Martin

            Anton

            It might have been interesting to have both for Matthew 16.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            An old Scottish version:

            O blessed may that trooper be
            Who riding on his naggie
            Will tak tha wee bairns by the taes
            And ding them on the craggie.

    • Watchman

      Nowhere in the Old or New Testament is worship ever associated with singing, always with praise. Modern “worship” is a form of entertainment replicating and substituting for for worldly pleasure.

      • Martin

        I’d agree, indeed, I’d suggest listening to God’s word carefully and taking it to heart is worship in the highest we can achieve.

  • Anton

    Bishop North is wrong that inattention to the poor is the reason for the CoE’s decline.

    The real reason is this: the people know that a liberal-dominated church doesn’t really believe in anything. They can see that it is following the world, a few steps behind. So, people looking for something different know they won’t find it there, and people uninterested in it never take a first step, because the world already provides a full-on version of what the church offers more weakly.

    The church has to be purged of its liberals and their theology. That is not to say that the poor should be neglected, of course: there is shoddy thinking in some responses below which assume that liberal-purging and poor relief are mutually exclusive.

    • Manfarang

      So the conservative evangelical Anglican churches in England are full on a Sunday?

      • Dominic Stockford

        They may not all be full, but they are without doubt the fullest.

      • The one in Exeter is, and they have planted one congregation and are in the process of repeating the exercise.

      • David

        Yes, in my experience they are. Mine is full and active in work to evangelise the town. It also provides a good slice of the volunteers for Town Pastors.

    • dannybhoy

      “The church has to be purged of its liberals and their theology.”
      So what are WE doing about that?

      • Anton

        As I’ve said on earlier threads, evangelical Anglicans shouldn’t do nothing: they should either quit for the Frees (as I did) or get militant with the liberals. I believe God will honour either alternative. But doing nothing won’t do any more.

        • dannybhoy

          Gospel honouring Anglicans should get militant with the Liberals! There is no room for them in the true Church.
          I want to see a strong Christian Anglican Church because I still believe it is best placed to rally the Church in the UK…

          • BigMach

            I agree, Danny. And I tried it. On my first visit to the church a very nice lady engaged me in conversation, during which I said that before moving to XXXXX I had attended an evangelical bible believing church. “Oh” she said. “In that case you need to speak to that man over there.” I did indeed speak to that man. In fact, as we walked home together I discovered that he was my next door neighbour.

            From then on we met regularly to share the scripture and pray together. We attended a bible study with one or two others who had a passing belief in some of the scriptures. But after 2 years I gave up and went to a free fellowship.

            I didn’t know how to proceed further. There was little inclusion of lay people in the ministry. The boat was not to be rocked and that was how the people liked it.

            The C of E doesn’t have a consistent message. There are some excellent parishes where the gospel is preached and where the church is full. The there are others where the bible seems to be a book that gathers dust on the lectern.

            Our next head of the C of E seems to have a lot to say for himself from a limited intellect, but seems not to grasp the essentials of Christianity and salvation. In Jeremiah 18 we read of God’s dealings with the nations. I wonder where our nation stands and if the next King will be our last.

          • dannybhoy

            “I didn’t know how to proceed further. There was little inclusion of lay people in the ministry. The boat was not to be rocked and that was how the people liked it.”
            Yes, in part I think because the clergy-laity divide is wrong/non Biblical; but also if you have been taught “leave it to the professionals” then you do!
            You have no real role to play other than warming up the pew with your posterior, and putting something in the collection bag. But more importantly when things go wrong you can blame it on the vicar!
            In fact I wonder if that isn’t the connection between that curious tendency we Brits have to make people into idols and later turn them into Aunt Sallys..
            It has its roots in that clergy laity divide…
            Even in our short sojourn as attendees of an Anglican parish church I/we have heard different descriptions of the role and rule of a parish priest from both church officiants and members of the clergy..
            It’s utter nonsense.
            But every now and then you meet an Anglican vicar who has learnt how to build an effective team around him, who retains enough independence and vision so that he stays true to the Gospel, feeds and inspires his flock, and as a result has a church which is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Such men are precious and to be encouraged.

  • dannybhoy

    You can either have ‘charity’ requisitioned by the State from taxpayers or you can have charity paid for by private individuals, usually Christians or people of faith.
    You can have both together, as we do now, but that same State will steal from the pockets of the taxpayer to fund its Overseas Aid budget which it then distributes to needy countries without any conditions attached.
    Thus ‘real charity’ given by citizens of their own free will for worthy causes of their choice is overshadowed and devalued by the State taking money from its citizens’ pockets to be spent on causes IT considers worthwhile -even if those it takes from disagree….

    • That’s universal suffrage and liberal democracy in a first past the post system with a two party set-up for you. It’s a market place, where votes are bought and sold by appealing to baser instincts in a society which lacks other-centred values. What do you expect?

      • dannybhoy

        That idiot self serving politicians should really think before they speak and that we the Electorate should refuse to waste our vote on such nonsense.

        • From Mr M.

          “There is nothing we can do” is the battlecry of the lazy, the losers and the cowardly. Unless you live in a desert island there is always something you can do. If you have relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances there is always something you can do. As long as you breath there is something you can do ….

          Notice this: in democratic systems everyone accepts that his vote only counts for one and is, certainly, not changing anything on its own. However, everyone is aware that his vote counts together with many others; and this, even if this vote and the others are sure to remain in the minority for the foreseeable future ….

          When we die we won’t be asked whether we have changed the destiny of Countries. We will be asked whether we have done what was in our power to do. “There was nothing I could do” is not likely to help anyone much.

          Fight the good fight as you can, for as long as you can, as a foot soldier of Christ, and die knowing that you have done – with God’s grace – what was in your power. Never succumb to the desire of throwing the towel in, or to think you don’t count. You count for one, and you count for Christ, so don’t think you can call yourself out.

          Fight your fight to the end and, when the Lord calls you, you will be able to proudly say:

          “Presente!”

          • dannybhoy

            Golly!
            One of your very best posts brother Jack.
            Not saying to boast but the wife and I tithe our income and support charities working with our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters overseas. We take seriously the idea that we are simply stewards of all that we have, own and live in, and that it is there at the Lord’s disposal..

          • Not Jack’s words, Danny. Mr M’s.

            And it’s not boasting to share the efforts of you and your wife as an example and encouragement to others. Far from it.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t know who Mr M is, but if you quote them I assume you are endorsing them and that is good enough for me.
            It can be hard to be original sometimes brother Jack..

          • It is stirring stuff, firmly rooted in scripture.

  • Dominic Stockford

    There are many good points.about what he has said. I am pleased to hear of his desire to preach the Gospel to all.

    But, the poor need the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone, just as anyone else does, and money has to be used for that purpose – not money for ‘projects’ and ‘social clubs’.

    It is the fragmented nature of the CofE that causes the problems. Large congregations tend to be conservative evangelical, and refuse to hand over their money (rightly in my opinion) to liberals and other who will not spend it on promulgating the true Gospel. I believe that I am right in saying that they do offer support to smaller conservative evangelical congregations out of their own choice. If they could believe that other congregations would actually use any money given for truly godly work, then I am sure they would support it. But they simply can’t.

    • How’s the front-line in Teddington going, with its pubs, restaurants, leisure premises, fields, fitness clubs and riverside walks, located in Richmond upon Thames?

      No shortage of ministers or facilities there:

      St Mary with St Alban, Church of England.
      Teddington, Baptist Church.
      Sacred Heart, Roman Catholic Church.
      St Mark’s, Church of England
      Teddington Methodist Church
      Christ Church (an independent congregation)
      St Peter & St Paul, Church of England

      • Special miracles are required to save anyone in Teddington (Mark 10:23-27).
        But apart from Christ Church, I wonder how many of those churches preach the Gospel.

        • One seriously wonders why there are so many in Teddington. If Wiki is correct, there are three Church of England churches in Teddington.

        • Martin

          Special miracles are required to save anyone

      • Sarky

        Let them eat cake!!

  • Inspector General

    Keep up the good work, that bishop!

    Verily brother, thy good works and pure heart will get thyself into the Kingdom of Heaven when the time comes. Though art God’s true servant and your reward must surely be a handsome one. (Here’s some advice. Don’t mention you were a CoE bishop at the gates, so to speak. You’ll only be told to “wait over there”).

  • Inspector General

    The poor. The eternal poor. As Anton mentions, perhaps we should concentrate on absolute not relative.

    Here’s ‘poor’, except at the time, we didn’t think we were. Because no one went round telling people they were poor: Soon after his fourteenth birthday, the trainee Inspector was informed by his parents that they could no longer afford to pay him the pittance that passed for his pocket money as the family was somewhat hard up. This was indeed a sudden, unexpected and unwelcome economic downturn to the lad. But the news came with hope. It was suggested that if he wanted to hear the noise of coins in his pocket again, he could always get himself a paper round. He did exactly that.

    The so called poor, some of them, are extremely resourceful. One is continually impressed by their animal cunning in soaking up benefits and at the same time, avoiding work or responsibility for even their own and their children’s upkeep! And their sense of entitlement! It is said that as with the universe, it knows no bounds…

    If only we could drain away this remarkable idle spirit…this lifestyle choice…this contempt for those whose taxes keep them in drink and drugs and tattoos and their oft portly bodies on the sofa…

    Christians, who tend to be brighter than most, have the measure of these gifted people. Politicians, not so…

    • dannybhoy

      “the trainee Inspector was informed by his parents that they could no longer afford to pay him the pittance that passed for his pocket money as the family was somewhat hard up. This was indeed a sudden, unexpected and unwelcome economic downturn to the lad. But the news came with hope. It was suggested that if he wanted to hear the noise of coins in his pocket again, he could always get himself a paper round. He did exactly that.”
      Well done Inspector, but then you must have been brought up by a generation that believed you really were responsible for your circumstances and that there were real consequences to your choices…

      • Inspector General

        Both parents nearly starving to death as children themselves during the depression of the 1930s had something to do with it Danny. Hones the spirit of resource, independence and survival…

        • dannybhoy

          Yes indeed.
          My father told stories about his own childhood in the North East where men in the neighbourhood would go out and rip up old railways sleepers for firewood and raid farmers’ fields for vegetables. That built a strong communal survival instinct.
          A very good discussion could be had here on this Christian blog about whether securing our basic needs actually ensures weakness, indifference to the plight of others and an overwhelming desire to be indulged..

          • Inspector General

            You have it on the nail, sir!

          • dannybhoy

            Any father promising his daughter fifty quid and then reneging deserves to be reported…

          • Inspector General

            Ah! That explains her holding an empty purse upside down…

          • dannybhoy

            You’re very perky of late if I may say so, Inspector.
            Not long ago you seemed to be going through the Slough of Despond, and I was a little concerned for you.
            So to see you more like your old self is a relief…

          • Inspector General

            Very kind of you to say so Danny. One did have the flu of late, and then in astonishing no time at all after that, a heavy cold. As a result, one became bronchial…but over it now…

          • dannybhoy

            I thought something was wrong, and when you are ill (and I assume on your own) it can really bring you down -and possibly our most negative character traits some to the fore..
            (Personal experience ;0)

          • where men in the neighbourhood would go out and rip up old railways sleepers for firewood

            One hopes the trains weren’t still running on them.

          • dannybhoy

            Har har!

          • My Polish uncle used to tell stories of his time spent in Italy during WWII as a conscript labourer – if he was to be believed they spent all day building railways, ripped them up again at night, and sold the wood and scrap metal to the locals for wine and sausages. I don’t think they did a lot for the German/Italian war effort somehow 🙂

          • dannybhoy

            I hope they didn’t!
            Ever seen that film starring Daniel Craig, ” Defiance” ?
            https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10009458_defiance

    • You’re an unmarried man, Inspector, in the prime of your life, blessed, it seems, with a unique insight into the ills of modern man and a certain spiritual insight. Ever thought of becoming a Catholic priest? A few years in seminary will iron out the wrinkles and set you on the right path.

      • Inspector General

        God’s plan for the Inspector is to reveal the beauty of the Higher Understanding to the goats on this site. In return, God will keep this man in drink.

        • Lol ….

          But think of the world wide impact if you were to become Pope Inspector I. They have cats in the Vatican and a ready supply of the fruit of the grain and the barley. Surely the Return of Christ could not be far behind such a development.

          • Anton

            Reckon he’d do better than Francis?

          • Who is Jack to judge? One hypothesises there’d certainly be no more drug fuelled homosexual orgies in the Vatican or talk from Cardinals of homosexuality being “differently ordered” as opposed to “intrinsically disordered”. Just trying to offer the Inspector some solid career advice. His audience is too limited on here.

            One suspects the Second Coming would swiftly follow if he were elevated to the Papacy. Good thing or bad? Let the reader decide.

          • carl jacobs

            The Inspector would make a GREAT Pope! Just think what great things could he do with the power of infallibility. Where can I contribute money to his cause?

          • The seminary training will work wonders. Are you sure you want to contribute?

          • carl jacobs

            It certainly worked a wonder for Dominic.

          • You know, as soon as Jack wrote that he knew what your comeback would be. Jack was dove like but forget the shrewdness of the serpent.

          • carl jacobs

            Just think of me as the Rod of Consistency, Jack. When you are inconsistent, I get to beat you.

          • Not quite the metaphor than came to Jack’s mind, Carl.

          • CliveM

            Reading 50 shades of grey again Carl?

        • carl jacobs

          Sounds like God’s plan for Esau.

        • bluedog

          Goats are highly intelligent and independent minded animals who run rings around sheep. What have you got against goats?

          • Inspector General

            “I say I say I say. My goat can play chess”

            “That’s a highly intelligent and no doubt independent minded animal you have there”

            “Not really. I beat him 4-1 last night”

          • He let you win, didn’t he? Does the cat get jealous?

    • Anton

      On the contrary, Inspector; politicians have their measure, for these people are bribeable by the highest bidder in benefit largesse at elections, whereas the church hasn’t twigged this.

  • bobo

    The CoE exists to provide the children of the haute bourgeoisie with comfy sinecures, no more, no less. And furthermore, the CoE shares in the visceral loathing of the white working class which is endemic amongst all sectors of the Establishment.

    Snobbery and self-indulgence parading as piety. Unworthy of the name of Christianity.

    • Inspector General

      ‘Loathing’ is a bit strong! Disdain, sir. It is disdain if anything.

      • Mike Stallard

        • Inspector General

          Yes. They love revelling in their own crap. One of the reasons this man no longer watches live TV is to avoid the sight of them…

  • Since this is Good News Day, perhaps I may bring some good news to cheer us all up.
    For the past year or so, my church has been doing door-to-door calling on the area around our building.
    A thick skin is advisable for those who undertake this venture as one is likely to be abused from time to time. We have shared the Gospel with anyone who will listen, and quite a few have expressed interest and we have given them Gospel tracts and/or New Testaments and invited them to church or to a Bible study. We have met up with some for coffee at Starbucks and shared the Gospel in more depth there.
    .
    Although we are still in touch with several folk, not one has made it through the doors of our chapel– until two weeks ago, when Derek came. He heard the sermon, declared himself interested and was back last Lord’s Day. He appears to be under conviction of sin; the Holy Spirit seems to be working within him.
    .
    If you have time, please pray that Derek will trust in Christ for salvation, and give thanks that my church is proving for itself the truth of Galatians 6:9. ‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’ The poor (in spirit- Matt. 5:3) are out there, but many of them are rich in money; do they not deserve to hear the Good News? ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). Only one attender after all that effort, and him not yet saved? Is it worth the effort? Yes! Who can put a value on a human soul?

  • Father David

    Totally agree with your conclusion, Your Grace. I heard Bishop Philip preach at last year’s Glastonbury pilgrimage on the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. It was the best sermon that I have heard in years. Give that man a diocese.

    • You sure you hadn’t pitched your tent at the Glastonbury Festival and overindulged somewhat in the local produce, Father? Jack hears it’s rather popular these days with preachers and such folk.

  • IanCad

    Good news indeed!! That in the CofE a senior bishop cleaves to the teachings of our Saviour in His Sermon on the Mount, and puts at the forefront of his mission, concern for the poor. The Olivet Discourse is the Gospel and contains within the promise and means of salvation.

    It is put very well here:

    “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another.” Thus Christ on the Mount of Olives pictured to His disciples the scene of the great judgment day. And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering.”

  • Mike Stallard

    I live in Wisbech which has the second largest crime rate in England (after Boston, Lincs). Today I hear there was a fight between two groups of adolescents. When (ten years ago) we had a curate, she was assaulted in the Church after she had said Evensong. Drunks hang round the churchyard, many of them unable to speak English. Every so often a woman is raped or even murdered at night.
    Do you honestly think this is a place for a woman minister? Unable to go out at night alone, unable to be alone in the church, unable to visit people safely in their homes? The local comprehensive has had six heads in ten years. It has been closed down twice and reopened again under a new name.
    The days when my father went deliberately to Peterborough to run a rich parish which was boldly expanding into the new estate at Dogsthorpe went fifty years ago.

    Good news though: a loving, understanding priest worked real miracles here. The church filled up with everyone; immigrants, Baltics, Nigerians, Irish as well as classic ancient working class people were warmly welcomed. It depends on what your attitude is. But filling the Church with real Christians is perfectly possible even in Wisbech, Cambs!

    • David

      Greetings from West Suffolk. My mother-in-law has lived in Wisbech for 57 years and knows very well how the town has deteriorated enormously with massive inward migration.

    • Anton

      Contrast with the monoculture of the Nine Tailors!

  • What you call the “externals of liturgy” actually reflect the beliefs of the Church and how we are called to worship and live. That what’s you reject. And Jack rejects the barren “liturgy” of Calvinism and what it reflects.
    That’s what “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi, actually means.

    • carl jacobs

      I much prefer a liturgical service. But it a preference and not a law. The RCC turns it into a law.

      • That’s because the sacred liturgy concerns the Sacraments reflecting our universal Faith and are God’s will as taught by His Apostolic Church. These have been passed down from the first days of the Church and have been organically developed as the sacred mysteries have been revealed to her. They are not impromptu events and are universal in nature so that a Catholic visiting a foreign land will have access to the same liturgical calendar and service … and the same Faith.

        • carl jacobs

          Martin

          This is the kind of argument you are making. If I should ask Jack to justify this, he would have to appeal to Sacred Gnosis Tradition. Are we bound by this? No. Then why do you bind men over a pulpit? The principle is no different.

          • Martin

            Carl

            A pulpit is a practical thing, it enables the preacher to be seen and heard, unlike an altar.

        • carl jacobs

          And so Rome creates slaves to its traditions.

          • As you see it. Sacred Traditions come from Christ and the Apostles. If that’s “slavery” then its yoke is easy and its burden light.

          • carl jacobs

            But the yoke of Rome is neither easy nor light.

          • And you would know this, how?

  • bluedog

    ‘We must take risks in raising up local leadership, leadership that cannot and will not speak the jargon-laden drivel of the contemporary church but will instead have the Gospel energy to transform it.’

    Luvvit.

    • carl jacobs

      What does it even mean? What is the drivel? What is “gospel energy”? What is the transformation?

      • Inspector General

        Can this gospel energy boil a kettle. If so, Inspector here with tea bag…

        • If you’re not careful you might one day have an eternal supply of heat, Inspector. Do be careful what you wish for.

          • Inspector General

            Lightening forecast tomorrow, Jack. God’s wrath and all that…One hopes you have a burrow to disappear down during the worst…

          • Jack loves heavy thunder storms. Such splendid power. Wonderful.

          • Inspector General

            The Irish Sea is a cruel maiden. When your Inspector crossed it in March 1973, even the crew was seasick. Young Inspector produced a pool of his own green. Hence the remembering of the date.

          • Autumn 1962, for this man. En-route to his granddad’s funeral and wake in Sligo. No electricity, gas or inside toilets in the cottage. Water from a nearby spring. Chickens out in the yard and a vegetable plot too – potatoes and white cabbage. Peat from his aunt’s grounds nearby. Donkey and cart to the Church. Wonderful memories.

          • Anton

            Bad winter imminent in autumn 1962 !

          • How on earth do you know this?

          • Anton

            One personal detail I *have* given here is that I was born in the late 1950s. I remember the winter well and how remarkably long that snowman lasted in the garden.

          • Anton

            Put “Close lightning strike” into YouTube. Great fun!

          • bluedog

            Inspector, one struggles long and hard to comprehend the eternal truths of your Higher Understanding, but revelation beckons. It seems you should convert the Mouse and Wheel into a Universal House of Justice and embrace the teaching briefly described below:

            …in the kingdoms of earth and heaven there must needs be manifested a Being, an Essence Who shall act as a Manifestation and Vehicle for the transmission of the grace of the Divinity Itself, the Sovereign Lord of all. Through the Teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed. It is for this very purpose that in every age and dispensation the Prophets of God and His chosen Ones have appeared amongst men, and have evinced such power as is born of God and such might as only the Eternal can reveal. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 67-68.

            One had not realised, but it seems that Mahommed is not the final prophet after all.

          • Deep stuff that, Bluedog.

          • bluedog

            But not too deep for the Inspector. If he can beat a goat at chess, his intellect is a force to be reckoned with.

          • Lol ….

            Jack once dabbled in the writings of the Baha’i Faith. He was trying to understand a psychotic person who was a devotee. In Jack’s view, more dangerous than the writings of Jean Paul Sartre.

          • bluedog

            Well that’s really saying something.

          • As Jack said, deep shit, Bluedog.

          • Inspector General

            It was only the other day that the Inspector mentioned to the proprietor of the New Mouse and Wheel the possibility of turning his function room into a Universal House of Justice. Everything was going well, but there is a sticking point. He’s none too keen on having a gallows erected therein. Still. It’s early days and talks are ongoing…

      • Maalaistollo

        The drivel is usually presented as a diocesan initiative of some sort.

      • bluedog

        One cannot speak for +North, but it seems to this writer that he wants priests who can actually speak to a large and unchurched demographic in language they understand. The poor are not over-educated, and speaking to them in Latinate English will bore them. The KJV is written in plain English, which should help.

        • Anton

          But the plain English of 400 years ago, which won’t.

          • bluedog

            A comment which seems incomplete without the constructive offer of an alternative to the KJV.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Which one of the 60 odd editions of the KJV?

        • Rhoda

          In 1755 John Wesley produced a revision of the King James New Testament “for plain , unlettered men who understand only their mother tongue”. He made 12,000 alterations saying ‘…I have never knowingly, so much as in one place, altered it for altering’s sake; but there only, where, first, the sense was made better, stronger, clearer or more consistent with the context; secondly, where the sense being equally good, the phrase was better or nearer the original.’

      • Er, ever heard of the Holy Spirit, Carl? Tongues of fire and such like? Pentecost offers a clue.

        • grutchyngfysch

          That’s specific though: the language is far more vague. It’s not a call to seek after the charismata of the Spirit, it’s an advertisement for exciting people. It seems pretty clear to me that what he’s fundamentally talking about is social energy. Not in itself intrinsically a bad thing – but it would be better not to be dressed up in the language of spirituality if that’s what you mean.

          Mangerialism in the CofE is more expansive than just the grey accounting variety: it’s the systematic replacement of the spiritual with worldly strength. And it’s why even the supposedly “evangelical” elements end up being remarkably wobbly on doctrinal truth: in the end, it just takes a sufficiently motivational speaker with an “authentic” background to sway most of them.

          The problem with the CofE isn’t its demographics, or its outreach managers. It’s the lack of fidelity to the Gospel. Until it rectifies that, its leadership will continue to be blind to the fact that their decline is not in fact without purpose or even providence: it is a warning of what will happen to churches that abandon the Word of God.

          • Not sure Jack agrees with your analysis of Bishop North’s homily. You can’t blame for him trying to get his church to focus on people instead of either avoiding them or throwing out glib clichés. It may be a lost cause but at least he’s sticking to the truth as he sees it.

          • grutchyngfysch

            I’m not saying the man’s a heretic: but rather looking at what he’s actually saying. Yes, there’s some good points being made – but the thrust is fundamentally “the CofE is too middle class”; the diagnosis is therefore principally social, not spiritual.

            Now there is much to be said about the Western churches becoming too much in love with their place in the World and the esteem they receive from it; and there is certainly a particular burden placed on those with the blessing of prosperity which cannot be shirked. But our failures in these things are not principally ones of class but of sin. Were it true that only the poor can preach to the poor, how would it be true that Paul, a Jew, were sent as the Apostle to the Gentiles?

          • bluedog

            The nightmare scenario from a sociological point of view is the spread of Islam into the male youth of the white working class, together with its spread into Afro-Carribean youth. Needless to say, the CoE has already disqualified itself from any attempt at preventing this outcome, citing excuses along the lines of ‘cultural insensitivity’.

            Part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

        • Inspector General

          Angelic activity. There’s nine choirs of them. All apparently suited by choir to one or more functions required of them. Look, this Holy Spirit business, it’s them, all along. That’s your Holy Spirit. Messengers from God. Angels.

          From the Higher Understanding

          • Perhaps not a seminary, Inspector. One here’s the Trappist Monks are recruiting.

          • Inspector General

            It’s about time the Angels were given a bit of credit for their sterling work throughout the ages, don’t you think. This 3 gods in 1 nonsense needs to end. There is only one God and he is…

            From the Higher Understanding

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector for Pope! I can’t wait to read his first Papal Bull.

          • In the context of the Inspector’s florid reasoning, (and his alone, Carl, if he were ever to be pope) the term bull would an apt term. There’s an ancient prophecy there will be an anti-Pope before the Second Coming.

          • carl jacobs

            A prophesy from the Oracle of Delphi, no doubt?

          • Attributed to Saint Malachy, a 12th-century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, dismissed by many as a forgery.

          • Anton

            That prophecy is very detailed about the Popes up to the date, some centuries later, at which it was said to have been discovered; after which it is far more vague and cryptic. I strongly believe it’s a forgery from the time it appeared.

          • Hmm … maybe the Bahá’u’lláh after all.

          • carl jacobs

            Nah. We need some pictures of Cardinals. Preferably with Goats. Isn’t that how normal Papal elections are carried out?

          • No, you’re getting mixed up with the selection procedures for Anglican bishops archbishops.
            Wait a moment ….. Inspector.

          • carl jacobs

            No, no, no. The smoke. That’s when they burn the pictures. It’s a Roman thing I’m sure.

          • Inspector General

            You do realise you are a bit of a Yosemite Sam around here, don’t you…

          • carl jacobs

            Be nice. I’m trying to get you a new job.

          • Inspector General

            Wouldn’t ask that fella the best place to piss…

          • In your pants, Inspector. Then, you’re experienced in this. Have the incontinence pads arrived yet?

          • They burn the ballot papers, Carl, when there is no decision. It’s their way of keeping the outside informed.

          • Father David

            Thank God for the white smoke when Pope Francis was elected.

          • Hmmm ….

          • Dominic Stockford

            Yes, having that twit elected showed the RCC for what it really is.

          • Anton

            As I recall they have dedicated chemicals that they add to give black or white colour to the smoke as there was some confusion at one of this century’s conclaves.

          • Adds to the theatre.

          • Inspector General

            Assuming the human race goes on to 12000 AD. Isn’t it better we get it right at 2017. We are closer to Christ’s time on earth than they will be.

          • Or a cave or a stylite in the Sonoran desert. The American’s will listen.

          • Anton

            Inspector, you don’t think that the deepest mysteries in existence, far far deeper than even the most profound mysteries that I am privileged to ponder as a research physicist – and I refer to the mysteries of God – are accessible to unaided human reason, do you?

          • Inspector General

            There’s a question. Can man know pure logic without putting human bias on it. What we know about God comes from Jesus and the observation of the human creation in its existence. We are as God intended us to be. To say other is to suggest God did not, can not, ‘get in right’. With that in mind, we need to steer away from the idea that God is our best mate. Always there to call on in need. As a son must leave the nurture of his mother, and make his own way unaided. So must we.

          • Anton

            There, Inspector, is the root of your differences from the biblical faith, for we are not as God intended us to be. Why did he send Jesus in that case?

          • Inspector General

            We are as God intended, Anton – existing independently and away from him. We are an unknown quantity, and that quality about us will ensure our survival. God will see to that. We are also a disposable product, to be thrown away when we stop working. We still are. The offer of salvation Christ came with is conditional. Why the best of us are to be saved is the mystery. Any thoughts?

          • Father David

            So the Inspector is an Angelologist rather than a Pentecostalist?

          • David

            Arch-angelologist please !
            No demotions on a Saturday – it’s just not good form you know !

          • He’s more a Christadelphian, enlightened by generous helpings of the spirit of Saint Johnnie Walker.

          • Father David

            I suspect he’s more of a Famous GROUSE man actually – as he’s very good at complaining angrily.

      • Anton

        The jargon is a mix of business/marketing phrases and charismatic-Christian terminology. It’s all too familiar over here. He might have said “revive” rather than “transform” though.

  • Graham Smith

    You don’t seem to have picked up on his criticism of the Holy Trinity Brompton model of planting/regenerating churches by catapulting “white, well-educated, beautiful people” who consequently disempower and disposess the local community.

    • magnolia

      They come with an assumption that London is superior and can tell the provinces how to do stuff better, as they can sell their houses for absurd sums and then buy up cheap houses (to them) elsewhere. This is largely built upon some of the immorality of the finance sector to which they have been blind. For the locals it is like having shares which someone is borrowing without your knowledge, and marketing frantically meanwhile, to short the market you were relying upon. This is so across the spectrum of church denominations except the RCs.

    • I think, unfortunately, that that’s hardly just the “Holy Trinity Brompton” model. Rather, that’s how the Western upper middle class operate by default in all sorts of activity. It is our training from birth: that we are the people, the most advanced people, we have been trained in all the proper knowledge, ways and procedures for doing anything, everywhere. We don’t even need to seek for local or situational knowledge, because such can barely exist – our professional certificates identify us as the experts on whatever it is we’ve chosen to do. (As examples, think of some of the absurdities which contemporary society promotes as certain truths which only the evil can deny, in the area of gender).

      We need to learn to humble ourselves, sit again at the feet of Jesus, realise that a good deal of our supposed ‘knowledge’ is not, and learn from him instead.

  • Sybaseguru

    Wonderful stuff except that the “poor” are to be found everywhere. Even in posh houses. I’m not talking of those who are on benefits (although their financial “poorness” is hardly in the same class as those in say South Sudan). The human race suffers from being poor in spirit whenever it abandons God. +Philip almost gets there but seems unable to separate his politics from his love of God. We see the poorness of spirit in relationship issues, the commercialisation of sex (a word that until the sixties was defined as either male or female, not the act), the lack of real compassion along with virtue signalling and a complete breakdown in trust (what happened to “my word is my bond”?) among other signs. These are not the prerogative of the financially poor, but of all who turn their backs on God.

  • magnolia

    I remember going to a concert of an excellent singer who had been long in the business without the success his talent merited. I think the weather was bad and a group had bought a block of seats and then done a no-show.

    So the audience was down. There was o trimming down at all. He told us that in his early days he had been told never to blame those who were there for those who weren’t.

    I think the Church of England doesn’t always hear or properly attend to that advice. I think that is probably something of a turn off.

    People do hear “we don’t want so many xyz people and we want more pqr people, and if they are xyz people it feeds a sense of rejection. Jesus does not want a single sheep lost like th

  • Patrick Morrow

    What is “episcopal advancement”? Surely with articulate wisdom like this, he advances as the bishop he is. Why frame the issue as “his orthodox catholic beliefs about sacetdotal ministry”? The Church in which he is at home is clear that the orthodox catholic belief about sacetdotal ministry is that it is open to persons of both gender after right discernment. (That may be wrong, but you do know it to be the settled position of the Church in which this bishop is at home.) Dissent from this position is possible, indeed honoured. But it is disingenuous to describe the dissent as the “orthodox catholic” position – unless one is speaking from the perspective of another Church – one in which this bishop is presumably a layman.

  • cybervicar

    I find myself having mixed feelings about this. On one hand as someone who grew up in “working class” family and spent years running working class UPA parishes I have a lot of sympathy for +Philip’s words. There is a lot to be angry about. The CofE is overly middle class and many of its congregation are too intimidating for ordinary people. In many places it is the golf club at prayer. However, I strongly disagree with the bishop that this is the overwhelming reason for decline. In my opinion the decline is because the CofE has no clear cohesive agreement about what it stand for or believes. The Church continues to succumb to an internal secularisation considering that changing the 2000 year old message OR tinkering with its structures will turn things around. Of course, it will not. Even the atheists know that the Church’s desperate attempt to ‘get cool’ are hopeless. The spiritual awakening of the West will not occur by the churches doing better marketing or managing. The Church instead needs to accept that it has lost the cultural war and make a strategic retreat to find its own renewal. This may takes generations and in the meanwhile much of modernity may crumble. Perhaps we need to follow what Saint Benedict did in the sixth century and create small moral communities (some of which may be in the poor areas) which will the seeds of a new civilisation – one that will not (as the EU did) reject God from its constitution. My second point for the bishop would be on leadership in poor parishes. It is all very well saying that we must trust people within these parishes and let them lead. However, in my experience the levels of education are so bad and the morale so low that they need a lot of help to get up to speed. In one of my parishes I was the only person on my PCC with email. Many of the PCC did not even have a bank account. Few understood diary skills. Trying to plan anything was a nightmare. So, I don’t think we should be too dogmatic about who leads these inner city parishes. But, we could be more dogmatic about what we teach!

    • Inspector General

      Here’s a tip. Let the CoE offer the people something of hope you can’t get on an I-pad, or I-phone or whatever these contraptions are called…

  • Brigham

    The widow’s mite is no longer enough!!