Church of England

Chartres' Lambeth Lecture: the Church must be "vision-led and not problem-led"


While the Archbishop of Canterbury pored over the Blogosphere on his iPad (to which he is apparently rather attached), the Bishop of London psyched himself up for the latest Lambeth Lecture: ‘New Fire in London‘.

‘Lambeth Lecture’ sounds a little prosaic, if not unutterably dull. And the way this one began was positively anaesthetising, if not spiritless blah:

The decline in the active membership of the Church of England as a whole in the last quarter of the 20th century was mirrored and exaggerated in London. Many of the congregations were aging and found it difficult to engage the young people who were flooding into the capital from other parts of the UK and from abroad.. Zzzzz..

But that was the Richard Chartres’ way of transporting you to the arid, dispiriting landscape of parish life in 1984:

By the time I arrived as the Reverend Mr Ichabod – ‘the glory has departed’ – there was an average Sunday attendance of 40, no assistant staff and the daughter church had been turned into the HQ of the London Diocesan Fund.

And he recounted financial problems, congregation shrinkage, decrepitude, social deprivation, worship deterioration and tedious formulae for sustaining poor parishes. We were “at the sagging end and chapter’s close” of the Church of England story in London. God could have been relegated to the leisure sector. Evangelism? No cash:

If there had been any appetite for church extension, financial constraints were a major dis-incentive. The Diocesan Budget was in deficit most years and necessitated the sale of historic assets, chiefly property, in a process described by the then Diocesan Secretary as reaching into “his hip pocket”..

It’s a long lecture – a very long one. What followers are the highlights (or lowlights) of the Bishop of London’s diagnoses of the essential structural problems, and the nexus of his missiological transformation:

..there was an energy-sapping superstructure of boards and committees for Mission, Unity, Ministry, Social Responsibility and the like, all of which had been established during the period of decline.. Over-worked members of the Diocesan staff found themselves discussing the same issues over and over again in slightly different forums. There were ideas in plenty and not a few “initiatives” but little energy left over for implementation..

But then comes a spark:

..there were voices within HTB urging that a base outside the Church of England would be more conducive to growth. The local hierarchy was unwilling to see HTB as much more than a conventional parish in the Area, and in particular was keen to restrict the numbers of curates that the Church could employ, even though there was finance available to enlarge the staff. The restrictions were fuelled by a liberal distaste for charismatic evangelicalism and a conviction that the supply of curates should be evenly spread throughout the Diocese, irrespective of the capacity to pay.

And then the kindling:

Growth springs from movements of the Holy Spirit, and from communities and individuals in whom there is life-giving sap. Bishops can do very little alone. They can seek to remove obstacles, and to make wise appointments. Pronouncements can usefully change an atmosphere, but too many “Diocesan initiatives” can be a distraction and contribute to weariness and even cynicism among the clergy, especially if they suspect that the bishop is trying to make a name for himself.

And then a glow (slightly singeing the ‘talent pool‘/MBA approach to leadership):

Spiritually speaking, if a bishop desires the health of the Church then he must lay to heart St Paul’s advice to the elders of Ephesus in Acts XX: 28, “take heed to yourselves” and then “to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you episkopoi”. It is also salutary to remember the saying of St Augustine that “for you I am a bishop; with you I am a Christian”. Shipwreck awaits anybody who assimilates their role and their person. I believe that I am working for the Bishopric of London, I happen to be the 132nd holder of the brand, the local successor to the apostles, but it is vital to understand one’s own frailties and limitations, and not be tempted to personal inflation. The one thing that cannot be delegated is one’s own prayer and study of the scriptures. An MBA in ecclesiastical administration is no substitute for the development of a beginner’s mind and acquiring the teachability with which the Spirit can work. I do not doubt that we can learn much from the experience of other organisations, but the church should also have a non-exclusive confidence in its own experience.

And then a flicker:

..I am aware of the functional atheism of parts of the contemporary church. I simply do not believe that the Spirit who is the author of growth is mere mould grown on the rock of economics and programmes and policies by themselves can have only a limited effect.. Woodenness is both more common and more dangerous than wickedness in the Church of England.. Unfortunately the habit in the Church of England of making changes by juxtaposing new structures without replacing the old ones has often led to confusion.

And then a flash:

Lay participation in church government, liturgical change, schemes of church union, reform of marriage discipline, and the ordination of women were all arguably sensible measures, but the idea that they would halt or reverse the decline in church membership failed to take into account the profound character of the social and intellectual changes which had led to the contraction of the church-going part of the population. Internal bickering over the changes did, however, waste energy, and played a further part in alienating some of the church’s traditional supporters.

Then a flame right at the heart of the via media:

One of the underlying principles of the past twenty years in London has been that every legitimate strand in the Anglican tradition should be honoured and reflected in the appointments made in the Diocese. Everyone should have a spoon in the soup, thereby avoiding the polarisation that often arises from subordinating the appointments processes to the will of transient synodical majorities or — even worse — ideologically driven bishops. Of course the desire to be comprehensive sometimes leads to risky appointments which are not successful. In particular, finding conservative evangelicals who are capable and willing enough to work constructively across the whole gamut of church life has proved challenging.

The flames spread to communities:

I was very struck by a remark of Rick Warren, the American Mega-Church leader, to the effect that he had spent “too much time on para-church and not enough on parish church”. The vision of a church serving the whole of its neighbourhood, and not merely growing on the basis of like attracting like, is a very noble one. Unfortunately, the comprehensively devolved character of the Church of England makes it relatively easy for small groups to get themselves into a position where they can appropriate the resources which ought to belong to the whole community, and to build a church with only limited outreach. In extreme cases the result is very far from a genuine parish church, and remote from the “cutting edge of mission”, with the parochial leadership occupying a caravan well to the rear of the battle.

And blazes into mission:

..the aspiration to be a “Christ-centred and outward-looking church” is widely shared. We are well on the way to equipping and commissioning our 100,000 ambassadors for Christ by 2020. [I wanted 144,000 but was overruled by colleagues who said that we would look like Jehovah’s Witnesses.] We are also making progress with increasing the numbers of ordinands by 50%, not only for our own needs but for those of the wider church.

And incendiary new fellowships:

Church planting in the nineteenth century was very often an Anglo-Catholic phenomenon. More recently the charismatic evangelicals have taken the lead. Holy Trinity Brompton made its pioneering church plant into St Barnabas Addison Road in the mid-1980s but the pace of planting has really picked up post-2000 with the establishment of a plant at St Paul’s Hammersmith… Under Capital Vision 2020, we are pledged to establish 100 new worshipping communities in the Diocese in the next five years. Some will be rejuvenated parish churches, but others will be in new locations.

The Church is in the refiner’s fire:

In London in many contexts we have entered a post-denominational phase. Very few of the hundreds of thousands of students studying in the universities of the capital arrive with any clear ecclesial identity. They are looking for communities of faith that are vigorous and spiritually credible, without being too concerned about the denominational label. In particular, the old opposition between the “Established” church and Dissenters has largely faded, and the possibilities of street level co-operation with allies like the Redeemed Church of God run by Pastor Agu have vastly increased.

But the full blaze is yet to come:

Having spent much of the first half of my life wrapped in gloom as a laudator temporis acti, these days I find cheerfulness constantly breaking in… The Christian community will continue to thrive as long as it is vision-led and not problem-led. Prayer of the persevering kind that marks the 24/7 prayer movement really does open the door to God’s future while the Holy Spirit never leaves himself without witnesses. When my name survives only in a litter of plaques marking school extension openings and the refurbished loos at St James’s Clerkenwell, I am convinced that future Bishops of London will be able, with Haggai, to say, “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former saith the Lord of Hosts.”

It was an extraordinarily inspirational lecture, in particular this wonderful observation of ecclesial-theological conservatism:

Traditionalism is the obstinate adherence to the mores of the day before yesterday – the dead faith of living people. Tradition is the spirit-filled continuity of the Church’s life, through which the truth is communicated from generation to generation in fresh ways in order to stay the same. Tradition is the living faith which we share with dead people. Actually often the hardest task is to persuade yesterday’s avant-garde that they are today’s busted flush.

You will rarely (if ever) hear bishops articulate their personal political philosophy in such candid Burkean terms. It is not for nothing that Richard Chartres was asked by Margaret Thatcher to speak at her funeral. It is not for no reason that Richard Chartres is a faithful friend and trusted counsellor to the Prince of Wales. He is, as he says, an introvert: his “default position is as an observer and commentator”. This is an undoubted strength, but it is also a great pity.

The Bishop of London ought not to be confined to the lecture circuit or having to deal with such trivia as the tedious defence of his “modest lodgings“. He grasps the “profound character of the social and intellectual changes” of contemporary society. He understands the distinction between dead church and living church: it is contingent on being vision-led and not problem-led. Someone give him column, or invite him to write an op ed. Perhaps he might do Thought For The Day or be a regular on Question Time. How about it, Auntie?

  • ceige

    Amen. The impact of the Holy Spirit led movement begun an HTB has influenced us here in All Black land; it provided a way and context to share the message of Jesus.

    If it encourages anyone in London I, a random ordinary kiwi, can easily name 7 people (excluding myself) who have been directly influenced in their faith walk by what began at HTB. Being of course, persuaded, this has nought to do with a ‘programme’ or one church but what is possible with God when a group of believers dares to walk the talk in a genuine way.

    A beloved pastor of mine also said, there is a difference between the Faith and having Faith. One speaks of belonging to a history of a religious tradition, the other to the belief in what Jesus is able to do in the present and the future in and through us.

    Blessings, and may indeed the spark become a fire….

    • David

      You’ve expressed well that vital distinction between the two groups.

      And may that spark that becomes a fire, burn brightly in your fair southern islands land as well…..

  • Jon Sorensen

    It is a hard market share battle when a customer base is diminishing and additional competition coming in…

    • ceige

      And the customer base is…..?

      • Jon Sorensen

        the UK populations?

        • ceige

          Oh right. Well there is a few about three quarters of the worlds population according to wikipaedia. So still a bit of mileage left in the customer base.

          • ceige

            Actually I just did God a diservice. Those to whom he reaches include people who have never previously believed in any God. Duh! A recent friend of mine cracked me up when in a group meeting someone asked if they took offence at them being an atheist (we are polite over here); she just said ‘are you kidding, I was like the biggest atheist, I was like – pointing her thumb backwards – to any preaching types.’

          • Jon Sorensen

            People should be proud of being atheists. It usually shows they have thought about the issue.

          • carl jacobs

            You are utterly hilarious. Think about the issue … using what?

            If I ask you what time is or why it forms the forth dimension, you will have no answer. If I ask you why three-dimensional space exists, you will say nothing. If I ask you where matter and energy come from, you will stare at me blankly. Or perhaps you will recite to me some non-provable yarn about multiverses. If I ask you what established the system of consistent laws upon which these alleged processes all rest, you will fall mysteriously silent. All you have done is create a non-theistic metaphysic rooted in an a priori assumption of unbelief and called it “rational.”

            If you begin with the presuppositions of unbelief, you will surely think through the issues to unbelief – amidst must back-slapping and self-congratulation. Where you begin determines where you end.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I think we have pretty good idea what time is (WLC is wrong 😉 ) or why it forms the “forth” dimension (not always), why three-dimensional space exists (we have a good idea of stabilities), where matter and energy come from (we know this). We don’t know what established the system of consistent laws upon which these alleged processes all rest (We are working on it). But this does not bring you any closer to your God. Sorry.

            Note: science is not there to “prove” thing no matter what you claim and science does not rest on “an a priori assumption of unbelief” no matter what you claim. But I’m glad you think I’m utterly hilarious. BTW it looks like you don’t know me…

          • carl jacobs

            All you are doing is reciting the dogmas of that non-theistic metaphysic to which I referred. You are playing with math and calling it wisdom.

          • Tutanekai

            Is there no wisdom in the admission of ignorance? Must every gap in our knowledge be filled with stories and tales for which no supporting evidence exists? If so, how does that make Christians different from
            Hindus with their “turtles all the way down” take on creation?

            Admitting ignorance is the first step towards the acquisition of new knowledge. Admitting there’s a gap that needs to be filled seems like a much wiser attitude than pulling a god out of thin air and using him to plug the holes.

          • carl jacobs

            It’s a false humility built upon pride. You admit your ignorance so that you may say to yourself:

            ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

            You have created a metaphysical entity you call “not God” because you must account for the eternal singularity – the uncaused cause that must exist. You then assign to this entity the functions of God while stripping it of the attributes of God. And all so that you can declare yourself sovereign over your own life. Thus do you prove the truth of Romans 1. You know God exists, but you deny the power and glory of God, and instead willfully suppress this truth in your unbelief. And all so you can worship the creature instead of the Creator.

            It’s right there in front of you, but in your arrogance you are too proud to see it.

          • Tutanekai

            The epistemological solipsism that gives rise to the attitude of “you know God exists and you’re just using doubt as an excuse for rebelling against him” is impervious to all reason, so I won’t even bother to try.

            But I will observe that it takes a pretty robust ego to conjure a god into existence solely on the basis that you have determined it to be so…

            If he really is there, I wonder if he realises he owes his existence to your infallibility?

          • CliveM

            Don’t know about you Carl, but all these atheists are beginning to sound the same to me; Linus, In Perfect Ignorance, Tutanekai.

          • ceige

            Perhaps not ignorance but honesty. From the standpoint of time and human means, it is as impossible to prove the creation narrative as outlined in Genesis as it is to prove evolution. However, individuals do believe in either or both in some cases.

          • Tutanekai

            Evidence for evolution is readily accessible in any natural history museum anywhere in the world.

            But if you go to a church, will you find any evidence that supports the biblical creation tale?

            A logical theory supported by solid evidence deserves to be believed. An uncorroborated story without a single shred of evidence to support its fantastic claims does not.

          • ceige

            Actually yes, there is evidence presented for the creation side of the debate. Australia has a particularly strong organsation that studies this.

            Notwithstanding my prior investigation of both still ‘faith’ is required to believe either.

            Recently I read in our local newspaper of some human remains found that didn’t fit into the evolution story so they just declared them not to be human of the popular kind and gave them a different name, and not a very flattering one at that!

          • Tutanekai

            Evolution is a theory with so much supporting evidence that to reject it on the basis of one set of remains that could diverge from the standard human development pattern for any number of reasons (genetic variance, hereditary atypical morphology, etc) would be foolhardy.

            The evidence for creationism I’d like to see! Comes from Australia, does it? Direct from a press release by The Bundaberg Institute of Racial Studies And Flat-Eartherism, no doubt. Or some other such august and unimpeachable body.

            In any case, if a single report in one small local Kiwi newspaper is all it takes for you to dismiss the scientific findings of the past couple of hundred years, one might wonder if you aren’t looking for an excuse.

            So, what are these earth-shattering revelations uncovered by this respected bastion of impartial Kiwi journalism? What life-changing news did your intrepid “Hokitika Clarion And Cow Cockie’s Journal” reporter divulge? Or does he work for the “Wairarapa Daily Bugle and Christian News”? I would be fascinated to know.

            If there’s a link, don’t be shy. Sling it my way. It’s been a few years since last I delved into the recesses and byways of Nya Zild Stendud Unglish, but I’m game for another try. Sweed’az!

          • ceige

            Ouch such defensiveness.

            I found the article (which I kept for the humour of it) and my apologies it was regarding the discovery of tools academics thought could not be made by the relatives of humans because they didn’t fit the theory time line they had for homo-sapiens. Instead they believe they might have been made by ‘Kenyanthropus platyops, probably a small-brained great uncle of Homo spaiens’. Come on you have to admit that is funny. The article is from The Times

            As I have said previously I think both evolution and creationism are theories. Of course there is a lot of scientific literature on evolution one would not expect otherwise it has been taught and studied religiously since Darwin was around. However, I expect any balancing data to this theory or challenges are not so well known.

            Personally it is not my burning issue and hasn’t had an influence on my faith aside from the interest in the scientific greats such as Newton, Pascal etc whose sceince intersected with faith. However, once upon a time in order to be able converse with a friend who was a maths and science major whose rejection of Christianity had a lot to do with evolution I looked into the subject.

            In the Minds of Men (a book you can order on Amazon) was a pretty comprehensive study on the origins and holes in the theory of evolution). If you are really open to investigating both sides of the debate, and don’t just riducule anyone who even dares suggest there maybe another perspective?

            As for the Australian institution it started out as Answers In Genesis and is now part of the International Creation Ministries. One of their discoveries is the fossils they have found in Australia (shells, Kangaroos) have all decreased rather than increased in size) leading to the ‘theory’ mammals may have actually de-evolved rather than evolved.

            Happy investigating.

          • Tutanekai

            Evolution is about adaptation to environment. When things get tougher, evolution responds by selecting for traits that can best exploit the new, harsher environment. It’s therefore completely logical to see evolution favouring smaller, more water efficient bodies in a hot and dry place like Australia. Evolution doesn’t always go from small to big, simple to complex.

            It’s this inability to understand even the most basic concepts of theories that call their dogmatic certainties into question that makes creationists so extremely unconvincing. If they don’t understand what they’re criticising, their criticisms fall flat on their faces and they end up looking like fools.

            It’s against this background of a profound lack of credibility that their own theories must be judged. That plus the total lack of any evidence to support the far-fetched notion of a magical omnipotent god capable of creating the entire universe in 6 days.

            If creationists did more than simply reveal their iwn ignorance when they try to debunk evidence for theories they don’t like, they might be taken a little more seriously. As it is, even the most impartial observer is forced to conclude that they just don’t know how to distinguish fantasy from reality.

          • ceige

            I was of the understanding that evolution and adaptation are two different concepts altogether.

            You will find the book In the Mind of Man has good reviews from evolutionists and creationists, if you are prepared to have an open attitude. Or is dogmatism limited to creationists?

            As for an omnipontent God. Evidence of His existence does not rely soley on what has been discovered by scientists of all persuasions. The greatest evidence of His existence lies in the transformed lives of those who come to believe in him.

            Whether this be Mother Theresa who was given a vision of what God called her to do and went from a private school teacher to reaching the poorest of poor, or even myself who once with very little faith said to God ‘IF you really died 2000 years ago for our sins, then you took on the consequences of the sins done against me and I don’t need to feel this pain anymore’ and went away free from what I had suffered for all of my life. Take my word for it, after you have had such an encounter, to deny it is near impossible, you live with its reality …

          • Tutanekai

            Ah, “transformation”.

            I wonder, how do you measure transformation? What’s the commonly agreed yardstick?

            The problem with transformation is that it means different things to different people. It also depends on self-reporting.

            You say you’ve been transformed, but who’s to say you see yourself and your situation clearly? Who’s to say you aren’t just claiming to be transformed when you’re actually pretty much like you always were? Who’s to say you’re not just fibbing in order to please the other Christians around you and tell them what they want to hear? Who’s to say you’re not fibbing to yourself?

            The only way your claims can be verified is by independent confirmation. Evidence that depends on self-reporting is statistically unreliable because people can lie, and can be deluded, and can try to present things to their best advantage. So is your transformation real, or is it just wishful thinking, or even downright propaganda?

            Where’s your peer-reviewed study of transformation that charts the improving influence that belief in God exercises in the lives of a representative sample of Christians? If you can show me detailed and independently confirmed case studies where improvement can be demonstrated across a range of behaviours and personality traits, while a control sample of unbelievers shows no improvement or even degradation, then your claims would be hard to refute.

            Show me a line chart that correlates growing faith with reducing sin. If God really does transform you, this should be eminently possible.

            Do you have such data? Or are you trying to convince me that God transforms us because you say so, and I should just believe you because you know you’re right, and if I don’t, then I clearly have an agenda and must be one of the devil’s minions?

            Where religion flourishes, solipsism is never far away.

          • ceige

            Empirical data is not the only source of truth, believe it or not (intended pun).

            As for accounts of subjective experience while not to be ruled out, you are correct, one should be cautious and not base everything on anothers exposition.

            Albeit there are some instances where the qualitative evidence of the transfomational work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people is difficult to refute, such as in the Old Walled City of Hong Kong – your line would have existed there but i doubt many statistians dared enter the place.

            But I diverse, most Jesus followers use the bible as their primary source of reference.

            And before you go back to creation-ism. Since your preference appears to be for the concrete examples of proof, take a look into the historical evidence that what is written in the bible is true. The archeologist digging out what was ‘thought’ to be Solomon’s temple following the exact dimensions written in the bible to do so. The appearance of historical biblical accounts in non-biblical literature of the time. etc etc…

            P.S. Definitely do not believe me because I believe what I speak is the truth. Only believe because you think I speak the truth about Jesus or you actually believe in Jesus, otherwise there’s not much point. You may have to do something a little more spiritually fishy such as join ISIS before I believed you to be used by the devil… : )

          • Tutanekai

            BTW adaptation is a dynamic evolutionary process resulting in rapid change (via gene expression) in response to environmental factors; it may or may not be a part of permanent genetic change.

            Organic Evolution is a cumulative shift in allele frequencies in a population (microevolution), which can ultimately lead to speciation (macroevolution) under certain circumstances.

            Individuals adapt, they do not evolve. Over generations the cumulative effect of adaptations in response to long term environmental shifts results in evolution.

            So while evolution and adaptation are two different things, they are intimately linked and part of the same process by which speciation occurs.

          • ceige

            Oh just for your interest. Darwin may have come up with the theory of evolution but he still believed in a Creator. See this excerpt from the definitive edition of his origins of the species:

            “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

          • Jon Sorensen

            First you say I have no answers. Now you say my answers are dogmas. Do you want a third try to get it right?

            I don’t see where I’m “playing with math” and why is math not wisdom?

            You asked:
            “Establish for me the initial system state of the universe. Then show me the data to validate your models”
            What would that accomplish? You have no physics background to understand the initial low entropy state of our universe in big bang model or big bounce model. Even if you had it would not make you to accept it. You would just think it is “Dogma” like anything else you don’t like or understand. This God of the gaps argument will not bring you to any closer to your God.

          • Anton

            No, it is people who change belief system from the one they were brought up in who have thought. That’s true in any direction, by the way.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I have to agree. Changing your opinion about big things is a sign that you probably have thought about it.

          • ceige

            I think many are atheists by default. But it is a positive thing if one has at least considered or contemplated whether or not there is a God or seriously thought about the faith they follow.

          • Jon Sorensen

            I was thinking more the UK market. World wide there is plenty of mileage, but competition is heating up everywhere.

  • David

    I see Richard Chartres as one of the few inspiring conservative, but broad Church thinkers within the C of E. Although I lean heavily towards the conservative evangelical end, I can see the great, and largely unsatisfied, need for conservative broad Churchmen to help counter the power of the endless, and I must say, often unthinking, acceptance of the infiltration of “the world” into the Church, rather than the Church going out into the world. His sermons are a real powerhouse, easily followed but both dramatic and thought provoking.
    If the vacancy had arisen earlier, when Chartres was younger, he would have made an excellent A of C.

    • I agree. He fills the heats with hope and the minds with positive passion.

  • dannybhoy

    “In London in many contexts we have entered a post-denominational phase.
    Very few of the hundreds of thousands of students studying in the
    universities of the capital arrive with any clear ecclesial identity.
    They are looking for communities of faith that are vigorous and
    spiritually credible, without being too concerned about the
    denominational label”

    This I believe is where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church. The emphasis is moving away from doctrinal differences to the basics of the faith. The new birth, the Lordship of Christ, discipleship, prayer and sanctification. Above all though is love. God’s love for our Christian brothers and sisters regardless of our traditions, and a strong desire to work together under the direction and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    • David

      I hope you are right, I really do.
      Although I sit within a denomination, which is more about my family and life history than anything else, I try to ask myself “how would the early Church leaders have seen this”? The question is of course difficult to apply, projecting the obsessions of our post-modern age backwards, as it were; but through prayer and studying the Bible, Tradition and using my own reason, I am always pointed to the basics, the ancient Creeds, the essential unity of all true Christian believers which cuts across cultural barriers, and our humility and obedience, ever ready to be instructed by Scripture and the Traditions of our early Church leaders. This is essentially what the Reformation believed that it was recapturing, but the terrible price was that it split the western Church, which had already been rendered asunder from its Eastern Greek half. But despite all that tragedy, what unites us is immense.

      • dannybhoy

        We in the Western churches have become complacent and comfortable, whereas our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world have been aware of the cost of following the Lord for many years.
        I agree about the early Church, that’s my yardstick too, but it seems to me differences and traditions are inevitable in this world of ours. “I am of Barnabas or I am of Saul” and so on..
        They are inevitable, but it is we who elevate those traditions above knowing Jesus. Regardless of our tradition, if we love our Lord and own Him as Saviour, we will recognise the work of the Holy Spirit in each other. That is what should unite us and make us family.

        • David

          I totally agree.
          We have been protected from malign forces so long we have grown complacent and unwary.
          But any genuine committed Christian, of a Trinitarian Church, who sees Jesus as Saviour is my brother or sister in The Lord. I have strongly felt this link whether it is in an Catholic, Orthodox or Coptic Church, anywhere in the world.

    • ceige

      Yep would be true in NZ too for those under 50 … with the exception of churches which err towards the Jesus didn’t rise from the dead type of theology. Denominations are useful as tools for organising, and as we are all unique people will gravitate towards different types of worship – notwithstanding as you point out the essentials of the christian faith are becoming ‘the most important thing’ as it should be.

      • dannybhoy


  • David

    Ultimately The Church must be Holy Spirit led.
    It is God’s work in which we are engaged, if we are true Spirit led Christians.
    Unfortunately many within all the western Churches are influenced more by worldly and political forces such as feminism, status, PC and Socialism. Chartres is one of the few, outside the conservative evangelical wing of the Church, that rises above all those forces, such is the depth and breadth of his genuine conservatism.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    How about it, Auntie?

    Doesn’t this bit of Chesterton, from the opening of the first essay in Sidelights on New London and Newer York and other Esssays, get right to the eart of what is wrong with the BBC?

    “WHAT embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism. It is comparatively of little consequence that you occasionally break out and abuse other people, so long as you do not absolve yourself. The former is a natural collapse of human weakness; the latter is a blasphemous assumption of divine power. And in the modern world, where everybody is quarrelling about the urgent necessity of peace, nobody notices how this notion has really poisoned the relations of nations and men. Thus the Irishman would never have minded the English saying he was mad; or even that he was murderous and slanderous and cruel. There was something to be said for the assertion; and Irishmen were often ready, if not to admit it about themselves, at least to admit it about each other. The trouble began when the Englishman advanced the obviously ludicrous proposition that he himself was sane; that he was practical and sensible and well-balanced. No wonder a whole nation went wild at so fantastic a fancy as that.”

    • dannybhoy

      Good point. Arrogance is a curse! To see one’s self as God and others do helps us to retain a sense of proportion about our place in the scheme of things.
      I sometimes struggle with my personal perception that in the broad sweep of human history, I am but a brief speck of life. No more deserving of happiness and security than any other poor wretch caught up in one or another of man’s inhumanity to man.
      I often think about those poor people sentenced to live and die in the frozen wastes of Siberia, because the State saw them as a threat. How terrible

      Yet the Bible tells me that God is love, and that the salvation He provides through Christ Jesus is for all men to receive, if they will it. And it is through that salvation that we mere specks of life may become sons and daughters of the Eternal God..

  • Is “New Fire In London” lecture out on You Tube yet I can’t find it.

    A regular on ‘Question Time’ now that would be a wonder. It would be an interesting episode with him on. I dare the BBC.

  • len

    The Church as an institution is dying but the Church as a Body of believers can be revived if the Holy Spirit breathes Life into the members.
    All revivals that I seem to have heard of start with members earnestly seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance and power to spread the good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    I get the impression that the Holy Spirit is waiting to be invited to attend Church…Perhaps the Church is awakening from its slumbers and the spark will indeed begin to ignite and the tongues of fire will fall as it did with the disciples of Jesus Christ at Pentecost.

    • dannybhoy

      “All revivals that I seem to have heard of start with members earnestly
      seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance and power to spread the good News
      of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I get the impression that the Holy Spirit is waiting to be invited to attend Church…”
      Did you know that there are many Christians in China praying for the Church in Europe? I was told that recently, and that the Church in China is thriving..

      • len

        Dannybhoy, I was referring to the Church in the UK as that was what the article seems to be about?.

        I have remarked on another thread about the Church in China which is growing rapidly……

        • dannybhoy

          I understood that Len. I was just drawing your attention to they way the Church is growing in various parts of the world, and now we have Chinese Christians praying for Europe!

          • len

            Can only be a good thing Danny…God Bless them….

  • Very many excellent things in there – but what I most appreciated was his comment ” I am aware of the functional atheism of parts of the contemporary church “. I started to feel less lonely at that point…

    • alternative_perspective

      Agreed, hopefully his attitude will radiate outwards. I also very much admired his outward attempts to include the conservative evangelicals. Far too often liberal Catholicism is in the driving seat, unfortunately they always seem to want to go to fringE meetings at the line dems annual conference.

  • Inspector General

    A good point made today by Cranmer, and one not made before. Having followed our esteemed host for 4 years, there isn’t much the fellow hasn’t looked into, but he’s managed it today, so well done him!

    And that point is that it is from the right wing that vision comes. From those who appreciate order and authority. Vision is the only true way forward.

    Perhaps we all start out adult life a bit socialisty. The Inspector did, to a degree, and he’s not ashamed to reveal that. For it is those whom have rejected socialism who make the best individualists.

    If you are problem led, there is no end to it. You will find you can never do enough for those who give you problems, and that putting them right, if they can be put right, is a thankless task. When you trace back the outstretched hand, and see what is behind it, you come across the lazy, the feckless, malcontents, losers, and victim mentalists. To wit, people who need a good kick up the arse and told to get on with it. So there you have it. Be led by vision, and people will come with you. Be led by problems and people will get in your way with their oft peevish complaints, and you get nowhere. All of you.

    Onwards, and forwards, what!

    • “Perhaps we all start out adult life a bit socialisty. The Inspector did, to a degree, and he’s not ashamed to reveal that.”


      • Inspector General

        Nothing to see here. Move along…

        • CliveM


          I would never have believed it of you! The shame………

          • Inspector General

            It didn’t last long, but its effects did, Clive. As one said, he is now the greatest of individualists as he knows not only the evil of the idea that we are all the same, but indeed, the attractiveness that stance has to the callow young whom have yet to make their impressions on life, or more to the point, life on them…

          • And how in your individualism do you rate the concept of “solidarity” with all people because we are all born in the image of God?

          • Inspector General

            A meaningless statement unless you are a savvy enough to appreciate its truth. Of which you are not, Jack.

          • Then enlighten Jack, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            No. You won’t listen.

          • Jack always listens to you Inspector.

          • CliveM

            Well dull conformity is certainly the hallmark of the Left. They cannot stand dissent.

        • chiefofsinners

          This is excellent for your soul, Inspector. Open the floodgates. What else do you need to confess? Father Jack is at hand…

          • Inspector General

            Cathartic is the word, you know!

          • Brother Jack, if you please.

          • dannybhoy

            Father Jack is more fun…

    • carl jacobs

      Perhaps we all start out adult life a bit socialisty

      I was reading WFB at 14. Nothing Socialist in my background. Must be my iron will. 😉

      • CliveM

        Having spent most of my life being “the only Tory in the Glen” (it’ll be interesting if you get that cultural reference !) I can honestly say I’ve never been even a little socialist. Wouldn’t give the &@”?ards an inch.

        • carl jacobs

          OK, I concede defeat. The reference triggers something but its incoherent and beyond my grasp. Something about “the Glen” strikes a strong chord but I can’t place it. Like a poem or a song that I can’t pull from my memory. Anyways, Google would be cheating. So, no I don’t know the reference. So what is it?

          Note. If it’s not the thing I have been trying to remember, I will be most disappointed.

      • Inspector General

        WFB is Carl, if you would be so kind. At 14 the Inspector was reading
        William Shirers ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’. That didn’t help dispel the soon to be socialist leanings…

        • carl jacobs

          William F Buckley. The father of modern American Conservatism.

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector is obliged to you Carl.

          • Buckley was a fine Roman Catholic, and a member of the Knights of Malta. His early formation was at St. John’s, Beaumont, a Catholic boarding school in England.

          • carl jacobs

            No one is perfect.

          • Is that an admission, Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            Just a pertinent observation.

      • Umm ….

        • carl jacobs

          Not all of us start out as Leftist goo, Jack. Some of us are born of tempered steel. I think it has something to do with American exceptionalism.

          • Inspector General

            We were, in those far off days, a homogenous nation then. We did not have the advantage of having an African American neighbourhood of mayhem down the road, whose ‘interesting take on the sanctity of human life’ made a mockery of the socialist idea that all men wish each other well…

          • Empathising with others who suffer and seeking to understand and trying to do something about this, is only “Leftist goo” to the ….. (answers on a post-card)

          • carl jacobs

            Your mistake is to assume the Left is founded in empathy and understanding. In fact it is founded in envy and entitlement.

          • What is this ‘Left’? You are confusing ends and means. Your mistake is to assume that any one with empathy for the poor and a desire to achieve a fairer society, is some sort of ‘socialist’ driven by envy and entitlement.

          • carl jacobs

            What is this ‘Left’?

            So, let me put it this way. When I took that class called “Understanding Socialism” I had to read a book called “The Essential Left.” Marx, Engels, Lenin. When I say “Left” I mean that ideology that was born in the bloodshed of France, nurtured in the Lessons of the Commune via the mediation of Marx, came to adulthood in the famines and terror of Russia, and is carried forth today by Marx’s many disciples. I like to call you a Leftist, Jack, because it’s fun to annoy you. But you aren’t a Leftist.

            I stand by what I wrote.

          • Then you are referring to the materialist Left who seek to wage class warfare and not those who consider all men and women brothers and sisters, made in God’s image, for whom we have all have a responsibility.

          • Royinsouthwest

            What a sweeping and untrue generalisation! If you want to find “envy and entitlement” why not start with American banks and other American corporations such as Enron?

            It was famously said that the Labour Party in Britain owed more to Methodism than to Marxism. Alas, that is no longer true but it was once.

    • ceige

      Oh yes Mother Theresa must have been terribly lacking in vision from your analysis, say what old chap!

      The key is in the definition of ‘problem’. Her problem: those who didn’t believe the dying warranted care. Her vision: to care for the dying.

      • Inspector General

        Let’s leave that great nun out of it, dear thing. And concentrate instead on the wretches putting their feet up in first world countries while others, possibly even your good self, fetch and carry for the blighters…

        • ceige

          I can’t because I have this sinking feeling my civilised self is one of the wretches at present. Having spent my savings from years past supporting myself while I’ve been unable to work due to a chronic illness… a dosh-danded position to find yourself in. By gosh, throwing oneself on the mercy of this current society is an uappealing prospect.

          • Inspector General

            Ah, a member of the deserving in want. Well, we must do all we can to make you better and fit enough to work. After all, this is what the social safety net is all about, in a caring society. Not giving up on those who through infirmity or mental problems, need some help to get over a period of whatever. A country’s finest asset has to be its people, is that not the case? Resources must be allocated to you to achieve that end and as speedily as possible. Not as much as we’d like, you understand, as there’s an increasingly large army of parasites playing the system and sucking those valuable resources away from you. Please don’t blame them for that, these devious unscrupulous rascals, but blame everyone else, including yourself, for allowing it to be this way.

          • ceige

            Mr Inspector, it heartens me to hear you believe there is actually a class of the deserving in want. Arohanui.

          • Inspector General

            That’s the spirit! No matter what, never lose your sense of humour…

          • ceige

            Here, here!

          • Inspector General

            Actually, it’s ‘hear, hear’. But never mind…

          • ceige

            Botheration, I did wonder. My grammar has never been great, put it down to my colonial heritage….

          • There, there …

          • CliveM

            You’ve got to be careful with the Inspector, very hot on grammar!!

    • sarky

      Hah ha got a vision of you waving a red flag whilst drinking snakebite and listening to Billy Bragg.

  • chiefofsinners

    Richard Chartres is certainly one of the best things that the CoE has to offer but the thing about bishops is, in order to hold together a very broad church, they become adept at saying what any given audience wants to hear.
    We do smell burning. But is it the Spirit, or just someone’s pants on fire?

    • len


  • Demon Teddy Bear

    I had the same experience on reading the lecture, your grace. It was very encouraging.

    It looks as if Chartres has found himself, to his justified surprise, in a position where all that he has to do, in order to be a success, is not actually create obstacles. And, having had the wit not to screw things up, he is in the extraordinary position of surfing the wave.

    The standard of the current episcopate is so abysmal that such a realisation would occur to almost none of them. Chartes had enough intelligence to keep the diocesan lackwits and haters in check.

  • The Church must be Spirit-led, not vision-led.(eg. Jeremiah 23:16).
    The Church must be Christ-centred, not man-centred (eg. Hebrews 13:8-9).
    The Church must be Word-based, not carried about by every wind of doctrine.(Eph. 4:14).
    I’m afraid I saw nothing in that article that gave me any optimism that the C of E has got the message.

    Christianity is actually booming in London, and while some of it is what African pastor Conrad Mbewe calls ‘Nigerian Religious Junk,’ some of it is excellent Bible-based stuff. Instead of looking at HTB, why not look at St. Helens, Bishopsgate where large numbers of bankers and other City folk have been soundly converted and done much fine charitable work? Or look outside the C of E at the Metropolitan Tabernacle or the East London Tabernacle. Real Christianity is thriving in London even as the wishy-washy Anglican version curls up and dies.

    BTW, what has happened to Dominic Stockford who was posting here recently? Anyone visiting Twickers on a Sunday would be far better advised to visit his church than to watch our wretched Rugby team.

    • ceige

      I am sure there are other thriving churches in London aside from HTB and it’s plants, that is great. However, having known people influenced by the Anglican charasmatic movement from London I wouldn’t write it off. Same goes with Soul Survivor and the likes of Matt and Beth Redman. It’s ALL building the kingdom.

      • ceige

        Oh and there is a scripture you mis-laid;
        “Those without vision perish”

        • Oh and there is a scripture you mis-laid;
          “Those without vision perish”

          You are thinking of Proverbs 29:18. Read it in a modern version and you will see that it applies to revelation, to the word of God. Where God’s word is not being revealed to the people, where there is no public proclamation and exposition of the Scriptures, where there is no authentic preaching, the people perish. ‘ My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6).

          • ceige

            Indeed but is this not the vision the Bishop is referring too? To focus not on such things as ‘how small our congregation’ but what God can do in and through us if our focus is on the possibilities of His word revealed?

          • ceige

            If you want a real joke at the expense of Anglicans. With the debates here regarding the taxing of charities, including churches I heard a comment from a person in support of this; ‘A distinction would need to be made for example the Anglicans are harmless but organisations like ISIS are another matter’.

    • dannybhoy

      What a useful link to St. Helen’s Bishopsgate, Martin. Thank you very much. I have been exploring the section on what scientists think. This consists of little vidclips from the scientists in the congregation sharing their thoughts on faith and science.
      Apart from the slightly annoying piano background music I thoroughly recommend it.
      I shall continue exploration of their resource section afterwards….

      • alternative_perspective

        Agreed, I’m English but I prefer Wales. They have an optimistic style of rugby that is the British equivalent of the French. I always feel the English game is cynical and the team and RFU too ready to implode and complain…. Not an attractive game.

        • dannybhoy

          We thought we were the only renegades! Someone said recently that England work to a plan, and if their opponents don’t allow them to play it, they don’t know what to do and fall apart.
          Wales are missing little Shane Williams and now Halfpenny. I think Shane retiring was quite a blow for the team, and of course Halfpenny is such an influential player.
          Going to be a good weekend…. :0)

    • len

      Well said!. The Church without the Holy Spirit is dead……

      Jesus speaks to the Churches in’ Revelation ‘ and tells them what is necessary for them to do IF they want to survive……