church of england compromised via media
Church of England

The Church of England is a compromised and compromising church – thank God!

As we await the appointment of the next Bishop of London, some are limbering up for the next round of culture wars within the Church of England.

In a ‘warning‘ issued in advance of the name being announced, the Rev’d William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate in the City of London, announced that if the next Bishop of London were not of his view on matters of marriage and sexuality, he might leave the Church of England.

Some have already indicated that they would bear his departure with as much fortitude as they could muster, but this is not a trivial thing: our Lord expressed the wish that his faithful followers should share his bread and cup together, and our current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has reminded us before that schism is itself an evil. Given the issue upon which the Rev’d William Taylor chooses to make his stand, it is perhaps apposite to say that schism, like marriage, is “not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly”.

Schism has a long history, and not an uplifting one. From the earliest days it was conducted with somewhat greater muscularity than we see now. In the early Councils of the Church, proponents of the rival factions would bring along their supporting militia; physical fights broke out on a regular basis in the early days, often over issues of Christology – the precise understanding of whether/how Jesus was/is fully God and/or fully human. Jesus had asked, “Who do you say I am?” but had provided no recorded definitive answer that satisfied the protagonists.

Thus it was that when the Church gathered to resolve that question in AD 449, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Flavian, died of wounds inflicted upon him in a punch-up at the Council of Ephesus. It was so scandalous that even the winning faction was sufficiently shocked that the Council was subsequently expunged from the historic record; it was called at that time ‘latrocinium’ – the gangster Synod.

Heated controversies are accordingly nothing new, and if you would like to understand them better, then Philip Jenkins’ book Jesus Wars is a fascinating account of those times and offers an effective riposte to anyone seeking to hold up the Early Church as an example of Christian rectitude and charity.

In those days the three factions were loosely divided between schools of thought from Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople: today in the Church of England we have the Catholic, Liberal, and Evangelical schools of thought. I don’t know if there is an Early Church equivalent in the Greek for ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’, but the proposition needs to enter into this discussion somewhere.

The controversies always ultimately revolve around the answers we give to the same four questions. How do we describe the character of Jesus? What is the nature of the Church? By what authority do we say this? By what authority do we act?

Unfortunately, the historic record suggests that most attempts to promote our respective views on these subjects did not end well. The killing did not end at Ephesus, and was often accompanied by indiscriminate violence which was by no means limited to the protagonists. The little people always got hurt. Jesus may have been robust towards the stiff-necked and the proud, but he was invariably gentle toward the little people.

We would all do well to remember this before we march our men to the top of the hill, from which lofty height we then declare our intention to fight to the death.

In contrast, for all its faults, the Church of England developed into a noble experiment in tolerance. Its beginnings may have seemed unpromising: Henry VIII wanted a child-bearing wife who would give him a son. Ordinary human weaknesses aside, he was partly driven by a deep desire to preserve the Tudor dynasty and spare his country another period of rivalry and war.

Like many a Tudor edifice, the original conception has been modified, demolished, rebuilt and sometimes sympathetically restored. Two features survived; the liturgy of Thomas Cranmer and an inclination to avoid extremism which was woven into the fabric by Elizabeth I. She knew what it was to live in fear of persecution for one’s deeply-held convictions, and, unusually for a monarch of the time, had empathy for others in that position.

She famously pronounced: “I would not open a window onto men’s souls”, and with that statement she embedded a principle of Anglicanism which has endured. A degree of permitted plurality arose within the State religion which led us to where we are now. We may not have our current theological diversity had it not been for her.

If I were to take a handful of bread rolls and cast them randomly around the chamber of General Synod, who would catch them? Here, one who sees the Bible as the literal word of God; over there, someone who reads the inspired word of God. This bishop here sees praying for the dead as a Christian duty, whilst a priest (or is he a minister?) over there thinks this to be a futile exercise. Others could urge upon us the efficacy of praying through the Virgin Mary, petitioning through the Saints and venerating icons. The lady sitting next to me might see this as strangely unacceptable, if not borderline idolatry. Then there are the women bishops and priests – or not.

The Church of England is “Episcopally led but Synodically governed”. No compromise is implied there – obviously.

Contemplating these differences, which are all currently held in tension, surely tells us that we are, and have been for a very long time, a compromised and a compromising church. Such institutional tolerance of difference is surely one of our unique selling points within the marketplace of religious ideas.

Our very plurality, tolerance and widespread distaste for extravagantly-expressed doctrinal exclusivity surely coheres with the idea of a national church for all: perhaps we have taken to heart the passage in Luke where the self-consciously righteous man prays:  ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.’

The English seemed to like their church leaders to follow the advice of the book of Ecclesiastes: ‘Be not righteous overmuch.’

The inclination to schism has two additional curiosities. Why is homosexuality the Rubicon?

One knows it was a major obsession of John Smyth, the charismatic leader at the Iwerne camps of which the Rev’d William Taylor is an alumnus, but why is this the trigger, rather than (say) the issue of the remarriage of divorced people in church? Surely that was a far greater step in ‘the wrong direction’? Surely that was the Rubicon. Jesus was explicit on the subject: ‘I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’

And then there is the issue of contraception, which severed the link between sex and procreation. Why was that not the Rubicon? Is anyone choking on a gnat having swallowed a theological camel or two?

It is also somewhat odd to rattle the sabre at this precise time.

Because of its multifaceted character, the Church of England has devised a careful structure for choosing its bishops. We balance the composition of the Crown Nominations Commission between the interests of the national and the local: there are archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity involved. The representatives of the national interests are selected by single transferable vote, which delivers a wider range of opinion and churchmanship than do other methods of election. The Vacancy-in-See Committee is similarly broad-based.

One might hope that such a system would deliver a good cross section of the broad church and that the Holy Spirit will guide the deliberations of those given the responsibility of finding the right person for the Diocese of London.

There is historic precedent to be hopeful.

Saint Ambrose went as the representative of the secular power to the convocation gathered to elect a replacement Bishop of Milan. He was charged with stopping another outbreak of violence, only to have his integrity recognised, which propelled him to the position against his will. He was only baptised after being elected bishop, but went on to become one of the great saints of the Early Church.

More strikingly, the disciples chose Mathias to join their number by the casting of lots.

One has to wonder, if the Church of England has been guided through the hazards of the dice and the vagaries of the factional mob, why the Rev’d William Taylor has been so presumptuous as to assume that the Holy Spirit will not have been at work in the CNC? One is tempted to offer the gentle admonishment: ‘O ye of little faith!’

  • Martin

    Schism is in the act of breaking away from the faith and teaching of the Bible, not in disassociating with those who have already discarded the Bible’s teaching. Thus those who have appointed women to positions of authority and support the concept of LGB Christians are the true schismatics for they have abandoned the Faith.

  • Father David

    When did that daft phrase “Episcopally led but Synodically governed” first appear?
    Was it with the advent of the General Synod in 1970 – if so, how were we governed and led before then in balmier times? Strikes me that Synodical Government is a failed experiment and ought to be replaced by something more in keeping with my own point of view!

    • Albert

      Episcopacy has to do with Governance, not simply leadership. Thus, in adopting such a position, the CofE admits is it not a properly episcopal church. Incidentally, that may be a position entirely acceptable to all but the Anglo-catholics. However, it certainly makes for a tension in which compromises the possibility even of episcopal leadership.

      • Father David

        Episcopacy also has to do with Guardianship of the Faith once committed to the Apostles of old.

        • Albert

          Clearly, but it is not restricted to that. The CofE, in subjecting the governance of the CofE to the General Synod (and previously to the laity, through the monarchy etc.) has emaciated its episcopacy (such as it is).

        • Martin

          Episcopacy has to do with the desire of men for power. It has replaced the Faith committed to the Apostles with the power of the hierarchy over the people.

      • ardenjm

        Yes – the tria munera.
        Expunged, it would seem, from Anglican patrimony.

      • Martin

        Albert

        The only authority for Christ’s Church is the Bible. The leaders of the local churches are subject to that, not to any man made authority over them.

        • Albert

          Episcopacy, properly understood, receives its authority from Christ, and is not to be subjected to any man made authority, such as your misinterpretation of scripture.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Evidence?

          • Albert

            What evidence is there for the only authority for Christ’s Church is the Bible?

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Bible, now present the evidence for your claims.

          • Albert

            Where is the evidence in the Bible?

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Bible is the evidence. Now, again, provide the evidence for your claim that I have repeatedly asked for and you have failed to give.

          • Albert

            No. The Bible gives evidence against sola scriptura. I cannot make any sense of your claim therefore. So please provide the biblical evidence for them. The fact that you are so coy about this gives the impression that you know you won’t be able to defend sola scriptura sola scriptura.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Bible actually supports sola scriptura in it’s entirety. Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.

          • Albert

            To start with, it depends on what you mean by the Bible. You mean of course, the Bible without the Septuagint. But according to the scriptures, Jesus (among other NT figures) cites the LXX. For example:

            “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

            Whereas the Hebrew reads:

            The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

            About 2/3 of NT quotations of the OT come from the LXX (of which the most famous and seasonal is Matthew’s quotation of the virgin shall conceive. Of course, for me, that is quoting scripture, but for you, it isn’t.

            Then there are places where the NT refers to the LXX. For example, Hebrews refers to events only recorded in 2 Maccabees.

            Finally, of course, there are places where the NT refers approvingly to entirely separate texts. For example, in Acts, we read:

            Yet he is not far from each one of us, for `In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.’

            Noe I’m not arguing that therefore these texts are authentic in themselves, I am saying that the NT quotes approvingly from sources that are not biblical. And that means, on your argument that these passages are authoritative. Which is another way of saying your argument fails.

          • Martin

            Albert

            “To start with, it depends on what you mean by the Bible. You mean of
            course, the Bible without the Septuagint.”

            No I don’t.

            ” For example, Hebrews refers to events only recorded in 2 Maccabees.”

            2 Maccabees can be historical record without being inspired Scripture.

            “Finally, of course, there are places where the NT refers approvingly to entirely separate texts. For example, in Acts, we read:

            Yet he is not far from each one of us, for `In him we live and move and
            have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are
            indeed his offspring.'”

            Paul uses it in a sermon, that doesn’t mean the original was inspired Scripture.

            “Now I’m not arguing that therefore these texts are authentic in themselves, I am saying that the NT quotes approvingly from sources that are not biblical. And that means, on your argument that these passages are authoritative. Which is another way of saying your argument fails.”

            No it doesn’t mean the passages are authoritative.

          • Albert

            As I said, I never made the claim that those passage are authoritative. I was just pointing out that arguments about what scripture quotes (or does not quote) can be treacherous. But that means you need another argument.

          • Martin

            So there was no point to your quotes.

          • Albert

            No, they show that your argument is it slippery territory.

          • Martin

            Albert

            Then you failed.

          • Albert

            Martin, your failure to understand the force of an argument is no measure of the force of an argument. If you are going to set up an argument based on which sources Jesus used, then you are on dangerous ice. Firstly, why limit your argument to Jesus? All scripture is inspired by God. We know full well why you did this: you did it because you know that the NT as a whole uses other sources. Secondly, Jesus uses a translation (LXX) that you do not accept – at least I assumed you didn’t accept it. Thirdly, the NT as a whole uses the LXX more than the Hebrew. Fourthly, there are sources that the NT uses that are not scripture in themselves. I might have added that whole OT books are never quoted in the NT:

            Judges
            Ruth
            Ezra
            Esther
            Ecclesiastes
            Song of Solomon
            Lamentations
            Obadiah
            Jonah
            Zephaniah

            Now this is very interest, because some at least of those books not cited by the NT were not clearly part of the Hebrew canon at the time of the NT. Will you now say they are doubtful because Jesus did not cite them? And let’s be clear that the list that Jesus did not quote from is longer than this list.

            Now what we learn from this is that an argument based only on what sources Jesus uses fails because it would undercut some parts of the OT and it would authorise some non-scriptural sources. Why refer to sources at all in this kind of discussion? You have to options. Either you say “The use (or non-use) of a source makes it authoritative (or not)” (in which case the use of non scriptural sources makes them authoritative and the non use of scriptural sources makes them doubtful) or you say “It is irrelevant whether a source is used (in which case your argument is irrelevant).

            So now, please set out how your argument serves your original position: The Bible actually supports sola scriptura in it’s entirety. Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.

            As anyone can see, even if all these problems did not exist, your argument is a non sequitur.

          • Martin

            Albert

            It wasn’t I that set up an argument based on which sources Jesus used, that was you. And you seem to be assuming a lot about me that I’ve not commented on.

            Those ten books were nevertheless considered canonical before the time of the NT, they may have attracted debate, but the result of that debate is that they were accepted.

            So you’re not going to bother to address Jesus’ use of Scripture as authority? There is no authority other than Scripture given to men, Rome claims authority but it is clear that it has been corrupt for a very long time, indeed, the pornocracy should have done away with such nonsense long ago.

          • Albert

            It wasn’t I that set up an argument based on which sources Jesus used, that was you.

            As far as I can see and remember, the argument about Jesus started when you said:

            The Bible actually supports sola scriptura in it’s entirety. Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.

            If I’m wrong, show me how.

            Those ten books were nevertheless considered canonical before the time of the NT, they may have attracted debate, but the result of that debate is that they were accepted.

            No. There is a wide amount of scholarly discussion that some of them were not.

            So you’re not going to bother to address Jesus’ use of Scripture as authority?

            No, because you had not set it up as an argument and because it is irrelevant, since scripture is not limited to Jesus.

            Now I’m intrigued by what I take to be your acceptance of the LXX. Is that the case?

            There is no authority other than Scripture given to men

            If you replace “scripture” with “the word of God” then this argument might be correct. And then we would have to look at whether the word of God is limited to scripture and whether the interpretation of scripture requires knowledge from outside of the scripture. Finally, we would need to look at whether someone’s interpretation of scripture is the same as the word of God itself. But if you leave the sentence as it is, then it simply states your position: it does not argue for it.

          • Martin

            Albert

            I have no problem with Jesus using the Septuagint, or rather those writing the Gospels in Greek using the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the available translation of the Old Testament and some other books into Greek.

            “No. There is a wide amount of scholarly discussion that some of them were not”

            That there is scholarly discussion is irrelevant.

            “No, because you had not set it up as an argument and because it is irrelevant, since scripture is not limited to Jesus.”

            Pardon?

            Scripture is the word of God and the word of God is the Bible. Where’s your problem?

          • Albert

            Do you think the Septuagint is itself inspired?

            That there is scholarly discussion is irrelevant.

            Really? What it means is that there is evidence that what you have claimed is false. So your last sentence should have read That there is evidence against my [Martin’s] position is irrelevant. And that of course is the problem. Your tradition is so controlling that evidence doesn’t count.

            Pardon? Scripture is the word of God and the word of God is the Bible. Where’s your problem?

            My problem is that your statement reduced the authority to Jesus not scripture as a whole. This is what you said:

            The Bible actually supports sola scriptura in it’s entirety. Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.

            Actually, Jesus arguably makes allusions to the Deutero-canonical books which you do not accept. But let that pass. How do you get “sola scriptura is true” from Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.

          • Martin

            Albert

            The Septuagint is a translation by a variety of translators, some good, some bad. But a translation isn’t inspired, the original writer was inspired.

            Scholars debate all sorts of things. That they debate something just means they have too much time on their hands.

            Jesus is the word made flesh, Scripture is the word of God, Jesus’ word.

            Even if Jesus makes allusions to non canonical books they are not presented as authority. On the other hand, He clearly asks, “have you not read” endowing the passages with authority. What else does He give authority to?

          • Albert

            Scholars debate all sorts of things. That they debate something just means they have too much time on their hands.

            That is a very silly thing to say. You made a claim, and now you are claiming (tacitly), that there is no evidence against it despite the fact that scholars are discussing it. Where do you get your ideas from?

            Now the important point is this. I asked:

            How do you get “sola scriptura is true” from “Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.”

            And your reply appears to be:

            Even if Jesus makes allusions to non canonical books they are not presented as authority. On the other hand, He clearly asks, “have you not read” endowing the passages with authority. What else does He give authority to?

            As anyone can see, you have not shown how you get sola scriptura from “Show me where Jesus used other than Scripture when debating.” And the reason you haven’t logically made that move is because you can see it does not follow.

          • Martin

            Show me where Jesus expected his hearers to obey what was written in non canonical books, as He clearly does with Scripture.

          • Albert

            He doesn’t. What follows from that?

    • layreader

      If Synodical Government is an attempt at democracy in the C of E, then it has certainly failed. In my experience most church members neither know nor care about (even) General Synod, let alone Diocesan and Deanery ones. Unlike parliamentary democracy, where everyone gets at least one shot every five years in determining who their legislators shall be, the membership of the CofE gets none at all. It’s a system dedicated to sustaining whichever elite can exert the most influence, but don’t pretend that the decisions that General Synod takes are in any way representative of the rest of us.

  • Albert

    It was so scandalous that even the winning faction was sufficiently shocked that the Council was subsequently expunged from the historic record;

    That’s just not correct. The Council was never accepted by the Church for several reasons:

    1. It was highly irregular: for example, the papal legates were not allowed to read out Pope Leo’s Tome, indeed, it appears that the legates could not participate at all.
    2. The Council was heretical.
    3. The Council was not properly received, most notably, it was not received by the Pope, who declared it null.

    On the other hand, it did have the support of the state, in the person of Theodosius II. But the position of the state is theologically and ecclesiologically irrelevant. However, he held power over the Church in his dominions, and so it was only his death by falling off a horse that liberated the Church from the clutches of the state to return to the faith Peter proclaimed through Pope Leo.

  • Inspector General

    This is fortifying news about St Helen’s Bishopsgate, what!

    We have in that true man Taylor a kindred spirit. It takes a special sort to take on the dark (and indeed dirty) forces of militant buggery. In this former army officer, we have just that. Bravo, Sir! Bravo!

    One hopes Cranmer will invite him to the top table at some stage so that he may submit a Christian warrior’s perspective for us to stand to attention to as we read it. For a warrior he must surely be!

    As for schism, it’s already here. In all but name, but what of it? Having followed Cranmer for some years now, one has come to see that the Church of England is far too powerful an institution. Christianity comes from the individual. Gather individuals together and you have a local church. Local churches should be free to call the shots. How can you go wrong that way. If your priest turns bad, you expel him, and find another. You keep the faith pure that way. It is uncorrupted by the likes of ghastly synod.

    One believes this is what Christ always had in mind for his legacy. What he was about is kept alive by individual Christians as a group. Not by ‘issue’ people.

    • Anton

      You are reaching the correct understanding of church polity, Inspector. Now, about the person of Jesus…

      • Inspector General

        Bad priests are the subject, Anton…

        • Anton

          Mr Sewell alluded in his article at top to churchly argument about the person of Jesus and to a book about it by Philip Jenkins.

  • Norman Yardy

    ‘our current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has reminded us before that schism is itself an evil’
    If you don’t break fellowship with those that depart from scripture then you compromise and God said that if you are like warm he will spew you out of his mouth.
    The Cof E has in many cases become lukewarm in respect of the scripture and and God is taking away his candlestick from among them.
    St Helens is one of those churches that speak truth and speak it boldly. If only there were many more like them that stick to truth rather than compromise for the sake of pressure from society.

    ‘the disciples chose Mathias to join their number by the casting of lots’. Why do you select lots as a questionable means of selection? There are many examples in scripture, not least the fleece put out.
    When an answer is not forthcoming from the spirit, it was common to seek a random answer that was hopefully guided by God. Not recommended but it happens and when selected, you go with it.

    • The last record of lot casting was prior to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Thereafter the Spirit leads the church.

  • Jon Sorensen

    Another disagreement, another new denomination…

    I what to see where this “the remarriage of divorced people in church” goes. I was just two weeks ago in CoE wedding where both were remarrying AND it was one of the most conservative parish in the country. Nice wedding it was…

    BTW is this now Bishopsgate or Bishopgate? Like watergate perhaps?

  • SonoView

    Let me first state that I came to, and grew in faith under the ministry of the great Rev. Dick Lucas, William Taylor’s predecessor. I those days it was John Stott in the West End and Lucas in the East End of London. The power of these two ministries has shaped the life of thousands and London was especially privileged to have these two men. I still regularly listen to Lucas (on line) and it is fascinating to hear him in the 70’s accurately predicting what we now see today in the C of E.

    Today the battle ground is sexuality, but the underlying issue is the view of scripture. Lucas and Stott had an extremely high view of scripture (as does William Taylor) and they expounded it in a way which was highly intelligent and relevant to life. And they were uncompromising in maintaining and speaking the truth. That is why thousands flocked to hear them. This was Anglican evangelicalism at its best, a tradition which St. Helen’s and All Souls continue to this day.

    Sadly much of the C of E has become infected by liberalism with an increasingly weak view of scripture. Much of what we hear in liberal dominated churches is what Francis Schaffer termed, “semantic mysticism”: that is the words used have a spiritual connotation but have been cut off from their original biblical roots and become effectively meaningless pap! They have nothing to say, consequently their congregations dwindle.

    Under William Taylor St. Helen’s continues to attract thousands – they come because they hear something sensible and attractive, although also challenging and life changing. Many go on from their to become stalwarts of their local churches, and significant numbers into ministry.

    If the next Bishop of London has a liberal view of scripture then perhaps he (or she) should take a lesson from churches like St. Helen’s – one of the few successful and growing churches in the Capital.

    • Anton

      Today the battle ground is sexuality, but the underlying issue is the view of scripture.

      Beautifully put. Thank you.

    • Martin Sewell

      Can you address the question of why this is the Rubicon rather than the other issues that one might expect to have been equally problematic?

      Some of the Iwerne victims have offered a view but I would value your thoughts.

      • SonoView

        Obviously I cannot answer on behalf of William Taylor, but perhaps you should contact him and ask him – I am sure he would be very approachable.

        From my point of view the sexuality issue has been the Rubicon. This has nothing to do with “homophobia” (an irrational fear / hatred). As fallen humanity we are all broken sexually in some way, and it is not up to me to judge another’s sexuality because of the “beam” in my own eye (if you will forgive this rather confused mixed metaphor).

        But I go back to the creation ordinances in Genesis which have been the basis of our very humanity, principles which Jesus Himself endorsed. Human kind was created male and female, and marriage was to be between a man and a woman.

        Secular society hates God, and hates his creation laws and has decided to trash these ordinances. I believe that these are a clear line in the sand.

        That our current society has rubbed out this line is one thing, but when the church goes along with this then to me this is a definite Rubicon.

        Romans chapter 1 is very clear on this. Man has exalted himself in the place of his creator, and we are under God’s judgement.

      • Christopher Shell

        You talk about ‘Iwerne victims’ inaccurately. Nothing untoward went on at Iwerne. It was and perhaps still is an incomparable cradle of character formation. The evil operations of the lone wolf or snake in the grass were far away from Iwerne (of which he was not the leader but the board-chair for a while), as was his ‘recruitment’ by and large.

  • carl jacobs

    In contrast, for all its faults, the Church of England developed into a noble experiment in tolerance.

    I’m sure the Puritans would agree. It’s probative that the Americans copied the idea of a tolerant national church. Oh wait …

    • Royinsouthwest

      Not just the puritans who left for America. Dissenters in Britain did not find the authorities all that tolerant. Compared with what had gone on in the past, however, the Church of England was tolerant.

  • I have to tell your Grace that the schism has already happened. The Church of England has seceded from the word of God and did so quite a long time ago. The issue today may be same-sex ‘marriage’ but the root of the matter is faithfulness to Christ and to His word.
    Your Grace will note that generally the violence and persecution does not come (initially at any rate) from the seceders; it comes from the body seceded from. This was true in the days of the apostles, true at the Reformation and holds true today.
    .
    Compromises for the sake of a phony peace (Jeremiah 6:13-14) have gone on far too long. What the Church of Christ needs today is a spot of Brownism: ‘Reformation without Tarrying for Any!’
    .
    Come on out; the water’s lovely!

    • francis.marsden

      Actually most of the first persecutions came from Henry VIII, the seceder, against those who remained faithful to what Englishmen since St Augustine had believed: St John Houghton and the Carthusian monks, St Richard Reynolds of Syon Abbey, the abbots of Glastonbury and Reading, hundreds of those who participated in the Pilgrimage of Grace. All 1535-36.
      Later c1541 he started killing Protestants as well as Catholics.
      Some 2000 Catholics were killed in Devon and Cornwall in the 1549 Prayer Book Rebellion during Edward VI’s reign.
      Then Mary Tudor started burning Protestants at Smithfield, c.300 in her reign.
      Elizabeth passed all the penal laws against Catholics, some of which remained on the statute book until 1779.
      Far from not prying into men’s souls, Elizabeth I simply had some 300 Catholics hanged/drawn /quartered for such “treasonable” crimes as attending Mass, being reconciled to the Roman Church, being a priest, possessing Papal documents or objects of piety. About 500 Catholics were martyred up to 1679, thousands imprisoned and many more suffered fines and confiscation of their property. The Protestant Establishment had to rewrite history to justify its breakaway from Catholic Christendom.

      • With respect, your account is not entirely factual.
        Henry VIII was persecuting evangelicals well before he left the Church of Rome and he never stopped. He became a murderous thug whom God used for his purposes just as he used King Cyrus.
        The Prayer Book rebellion was just that: a rebellion. The penalty for treason was hanging, drawing and quartering. At least part of the blame lies with those priests who told ignorant people that Latin was the only language the devil can’t understand and encouraged them to take up arms.
        Elizabeth was eager to keep Roman Catholics onside until the Pope encouraged them to rise up against her, thus making every Roman Catholic in England a suspected traitor. There were also at least two Jesuit attempts on her life, not to mention the Armada. That the punishments meted out to Roman Catholics found guilty of treason were horribly vicious and that many innocent people were killed is undoubtedly true and deeply regrettable, but the Pope must bear a large part of the blame.

        • francis.marsden

          You are right in that Henry’s persecutions began from around 1520. I checked the Wikipedia list and I hadn’t realized he began so early.
          I think the Prayer Book Rebellion deserves more sympathy. The people simply wanted the Catholic Christianity in which they and 30 or 40 generations of their forebears had lived and died. It was a reaction against the new Protestant religion and services of Edward VI’s Book of Common Prayer. They wanted the Mass and the Sacraments. What is so criminal about that?
          There were also economic motives, like the enclosure of common land and increasing poverty, while the gentry seemed to be enriching themselves from the monastic spoils.
          Cornwall, certainly western Cornwall, was Cornish speaking, not English speaking. They had been used to the Mass in Latin, and didn’t understand the new English communion service. The destruction of the monasteries, and the abolition of the Mass,
          seemed like an attack upon the deepest roots of Cornish and Devonian
          identity and culture.

          When Westminster changes the national religion in defiance of the people, are you surprised that a rebellion breaks out? If we had a Muslim government which tried to enforce Islam, wouldn’t you rebel?

          After the rebels’ defeat at Clyst Heath, Sir John Russell ordered the slitting of the throats of all 900 prisoners. Three times as many Catholics killed in an hour as all those Protestants who died under Queen Mary.

          I think your bit about Cornish priests telling people that Latin was the only language the devil can’t understand is a bit of nonsense from the leyenda negra, the blackening of Catholicism employed to attempt to justify the schism from Rome. Maybe you have some genuine historical source for it?

          By the time Pius V issued Regnans in Excelsis, condemning Elizabeth as a heretic, she had been on the throne for 11-12 years. So it was hardly a rash or precipitate move. “To keep Roman Catholics onside” as you put it, in 1559 she deposed and arrested all the Catholic bishops (except Kitchen of Llandaff who compromised), or they fled abroad. The Oath of Supremacy renouncing the Papacy was then tendered to many of the higher clergy, who following their consciences had to abandon their livings and go underground, and say Mass secretly in houses or elsewhere, but not in the parish churches. She ordered magistrates to hunt out and punish Catholic recusants, and bishops like Downham of Chester, in 1562, to visit every parish in his diocese and apprehend the Papists. It’s a strange way to “keep Roman Catholics onside.”

          The English Reformation was a top down effort, enforced by statute, punishment and judicial murders. It was not a popular movement, except perhaps in some areas of E Anglia and London. Most of the country (not all) rejoiced in 1554 at the restoration of Catholicism.

          Christopher Haigh, the historian, has some intriguing data. In 1520 more than 80% of wills at probate left some money or bequests to their local parish, monastery or the Church in some way. By 1590 this had fallen to 20% of wills. It shows a massive detachment of the population from the reformed Church compared to the Catholic Church. Or maybe you will say the Catholic priests were just better at helping people write their wills?

          Both sides of the Tudor family, Protestant and Catholic, did dreadful things. But Henry tore England away from her union with the universal Church, of which we had been part since Roman times cf three British bishops at the council of Arles in 313 AD. The fragmentation and disintegration of Christianity in Britain stems from his reign.

          • Christopher Haigh, the historian, has some intriguing data. In 1520 more than 80% of wills at probate left some money or bequests to their local parish, monastery or the Church in some way. By 1590 this had fallen to 20% of wills. It shows a massive detachment of the population from the reformed Church compared to the Catholic Church. Or maybe you will say the Catholic priests were just better at helping people write their wills?

            No, I will say it proves how the Church of Rome grew fat by deceiving the people. Fear of Purgatory led people to will money to the local church to pay for masses to be said for them after death, thus enriching the church and impoverishing the nation.
            .
            As for Henry VIII, he was a bloodthirsty rogue, but I thank God for him nonetheless in that he unwittingly brought the country out of darkness into the light of the Bible.

          • francis.marsden

            I doubt that you have any reliable statistics concerning the weight or girth of pre-Reformation clergy, so I take that to be mere ungrounded Protestant polemic.
            Nothing wrong with praying for the dead: as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030), purgatory makes perfect sense to me. It is in accord with both Scripture and the most ancient traditions of Christian prayer for the dead.

            The graffiti in the catacombs show where Christians during the persecutions
            of the first three centuries recorded prayers for the dead. Indeed,
            some of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament, like
            the Acts of Paul and Thecla and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (both written during the second century), refer to the Christian practice of
            praying for the dead.

            As Paul says, each man’s work will be tried. And what happens if a righteous man’s work fails the test? “He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved,
            but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15).”You will not get out until you have paid the last penny,” warns Jesus in a parable, particularly to the unmerciful.

            “Nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). Few human beings are morally perfect and sinless. Few have allowed the saving grace of Christ’s blood to wash them completely and totally from sin and make them perfect saints.

            All the historic and apostolic Churches: E Orthodox, Copts, Syriac, Armenians, Byzantines, Ethiopians and Romans, and of course the Jews themselves, pray for the dead.

            Until the sixteenth century the canon used by all Christians contained Maccabees:
            “In doing this he [Judas Maccabaeus] acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward
            that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and
            pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be
            freed from this sin” (2 Macc. 12:43–45).

            Martin Luther on his own supreme pontifical authority, chucked six OT out of his personal canon of Scripture. He would also have liked to ditch the Epistle of the Apostle James. If you want to follow Luther, that’s your choice, but don’t claim to be practising full, historic, apostolic Christianity.

  • len

    ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.’
    (1 John 2:15)
    The problem with the Church (or at least one of the problems) is instead of the Church changing the World the World has been allowed to change the Church.
    To move of the solid Foundation of the Word of God to accommodate those who wish to build their own foundation is to put one foot on the slippery slope from which it is difficult if not impossible to find ones footing again.

    • Norman Yardy

      Good Len as ever. When two are connected in a relationship and one is on a table and the other on the floor, it is so much easier for the one on the floor to pull down the one on the table.

  • ardenjm

    The best insight I ever heard into the muddle that is Anglicanism was given to me by a French Catholic priest who had lived and studied in the UK for a number of years:

    “I did not understand the Church of England at all until the day I realised that it is exactly like our French Socialist Party: it exists simply for the sake of perpeptuating its existence.”

    Continuing the (dynastic) succession is written into the National church’s DNA: its Father was Henry VIII, after all. So I’m sure, then, that this Frankenstein’s monster, this Golem of Prague, this zombified simulacre of a church will no doubt continue shuffling down the decades for many years to come.

    (Individual Anglicans can be, of course, delightful people and sincere followers of Christ.)

    • Anton

      And also with you!

  • carl jacobs

    This argument has been done to death. Every point Mr Sewell makes has been made a thousand times before and refuted a thousand times before. The respective positions are well known. It is clear why homosexuality became the presenting issue in a much more significant fight. There is nothing new here.

    The Church of England is allegedly a “broad” church. A cynic might suggest this means the CoE doesn’t actually believe anything. The cynic would be wrong of course. The CoE believes it must survive. But let’s not fall into cynicism and I stead let’s inquire about this broad church.

    Who must lead it? Well, it can’t be lead by people who take a narrow view of certain doctrines because they will instantly impose doctrinal limits. This used to be called orthodoxy. A broad church requires broad leadership – which means a leadership committed to a plurality of doctrines. But this commitment forms its own orthodoxy. And very soon in leadership you get a collection of people who ruthlessly suppress “old” narrow commitments in terms of “new” narrow commitments.

    In this case, you get a bunch of people who say “You can believe what you like about homosexuality. We can agree to disagree but the broad church must affirm it. Otherwise, homosexuals will feel excluded.” Which means the broad church must declare that it is good and therefore by implication declare those in opposition to be wrong.

    The “broad” church is at root a church founded upon the idea of human autonomy where each man may do what is right in his own eyes. It’s much trumpeted tolerance is in fact a decided attitude of intolerance towards the idea of moral boundaries that exist beyond the will of man. Such boundaries would mean that man is not his own moral master. And this is anathema to the religion of modern man.

    So the broad church will progressively (in every sense of the word) narrow as time passes. It will devolve into a church of men who believe in the autonomy of man and his autonomous freedom to redefine creation as fits his particular desires.

    Everyone else will be long gone.

    • Ray Sunshine

      The “broadness” enforcer currently in charge is Martyn Percy, who ruthlessfully exercised his power of veto earlier this year to ensure that the see of Sheffield wasn’t handed to the “narrowist” Philip North. In that instance, the offending narrowism had to do with women clergy. In the case of the currently vacant see of London, the issue at the root of the threatened schism is the heretical doctrine of homosexualism. I think we may take it for granted that the implacable Dean of Christ Church will once again veto any candidate whom he suspects of covertly sympathising with the narrowist faction.

      • Anton

        Stealth is Satan’s strategy, little by little. One hopes that men of God will soon say “Here I stand”.

      • Anton

        Power of veto? He pointed out a contradiction in the CoE’s position which would have become glaring upon appointing Philip North. He didn’t point out that that contradiction would never have followed had liberals such as he not been assiduously undermining the foundations during previous decades.

    • len

      “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (Matthew 7:13 )

      Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.(Revelation 3:20)

      Could the door that Jesus is knocking on also be the door to the church?

    • Chefofsinners

      And yet within the Church of England there remain faithful congregations, preaching that truth is knowable and absolute. The work of these groups is greatly helped by the positive attitudes which society retains towards the Church of England.

    • Lucius

      Very good analysis. I intend to plagiarize your ideas at my inevitable family debates over religion this Christmas.

    • John

      Absolutely brilliantly put, Carl. You nailed it.

    • I agree. A truly awful post filled with canards refuted a long time ago and many many times. It’s a pity HG feels inclined to give a podium to such arguments. How can anyone still, after all that has happened this past decade, not recognise the paradigm changing nature of same sex marriage? It is absolutely the place where the biblically orthodox must take their stand.

      And see how he connects the issue gratuitously with John Smyth. More of the vicious smear of conservatives by association evident in his earlier post.

  • Dolphinfish

    The Church of England – God’s seat on England’s board of directors, albeit in a strictly non-executive role. Sort of like the old duffer with a ton of company shares who rarely turns up for meetings, except now and then to posit ridiculous ideas like employee share ownership and an extra day’s holiday a year for the staff.

    • len

      The Cof E is like an absent minded old Uncle, well meaning but not much idea of what he is doing.
      Is this better than some churches that are more like a glib secondhand car salesmen wanting to stitch you up with their latest ‘ dodgy deal’?.

      • Dolphinfish

        Or, indeed, those one-man churches made up of “read your biblers”, people who fancy God chose them specially to deliver some message that two thousand year old institutions had somehow missed.

        • Anton

          You mean messages that were once understood and had been forgotten.

        • len

          Too many people have claimed to have had an infallible word, seen a sign in the sky or an angel of light.Jesus warns us of this.

  • David

    Today’s battle is really about the source of authority. In past times the factions may have disagreed over many things but they all concurred that authority was located in Scripture, Tradition and Reason. The different parts placed different emphasises on these three components, but few publicly demurred from the axiom that ultimately, it is Scripture that guides us.
    The situation now is quite distinct. Many of the ordained are little more than Christian humanists who simply do not recognise the God of the two testaments in the way that the Bible’s books meant them to be taken. The Liberals are now, and rapidly too, journeying away from both Scripture and Tradition, rapidly redefining a new faith that puts human ideas, wants and needs as the centre of their emerging beliefs and practices. It is humanity that is being worshipped now, not God. Even Reason seems to carry little weight as these changes are undoubtedly driven by political movements, originating outside the Church; they are not driven by logic, observable fact and science but propelled forward by pure emotion – “I want, so I must have”, is the rule now.
    This unthinking and godless path that western society has embarked upon smacks of an insane, degradation of our culture, the ultimate fulfilment of the madness unleashed by the so called Enlightenment. Rebelling against God, declaring each of us to be our own little gods, millions of blind and lost souls are now at the mercy of diabolical forces which almost all of the nation’s political and Church leadership simply do not comprehend. They have no idea as to where they are being led. Only a direct intervention by The Holy Spirit can save the nation now.

    • Fred

      Extraordinarily clearly expressed. Thank you.

      • David

        Thank you Fred.

    • Martin

      David

      Romans 1:18-32.

      • David

        Indeed !

  • Chefofsinners

    This article is deeply worrying in that it seeks to make virtues of all the faults of the Church of England. A call to repentance is what is needed.
    Love will cover a multitude of sins, but not without repentance.

    The only thing worse than schism is heresy. Those words of Satan : “Has God really said…?” echo down the ages, tempting us to disobey the truth. If, like Adam, we choose our human relationships ahead of obedience to God, then we destroy everything. Satan is doing to the new creation exactly what he did to the first creation.

    • len

      Sat doesn`t really need to change his method, because it has worked so well for him down the ages

    • Royinsouthwest

      Don’t you think that any of Martin Sewell’s points about the dangers of sectarianism are valid? I am a Protestant and therefore am inclined to think that the Reformation was a good thing. However it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that it led to a long period of costly and bloody strife in Europe. England and Wales largely avoided the worst of that but, as some Catholics on this forum are only too ready to remind us, Ireland suffered in the so-called English Civil War. So did Scotland but the Scots followed a type of Protestantism and therefore they don’t really count as far as Cromwell’s critics are concerned.

      Fortunately later schisms within protestantism did not usually lead to bloodshed but how many of those schisms were really justified? The methodists were forced out of the Church of England but did methodism itself have to spilt into its Calvinistic and Wesleyan branches? Of the Protestant denominations in existence today how many really needed to be created and how many are actually needed today? Voltaire described England as “the land of a thousand religions and one sauce”. I am not sure what the sauce was (HP possibly?) but Voltaire had a point,

      • Anton

        Yes, Voltaire had a point. He also regarded protestant England as a far freer country than Catholic France.

        The real problem is politicisation of the church. Any church.

      • Chefofsinners

        It is a common mistake to lay the blame for bloodshed at the door of religion. Most human disputes are really about land, wealth and power. This is the case for those which you mention. There was bloodshed in Europe before the Reformation, and there was bloodshed after.

        I greatly regret the Wesley/Cennick schism. I do not think it was necessary. The mechanism by which we are saved is of secondary importance to the fact that we are in Christ. However, when mankind directly contradicts the word of God over His right to define sin, they have left the faith.

        • SonoView

          I believe I am correct in saying that Wesley preached in St. Helen’s – one of the few Anglican churches in London that accepted him.

          • Chefofsinners

            I led a church which was founded by Cennick, became Wesleyan and then Congregationalist, all within 100 years. What matters is that the gospel was preached: mercy and truth, righteousness and peace.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I didn’t know you led a church….you are indeed a dark horse…

          • ardenjm

            And perhaps someone would be kind enough to explain to this ignorant Left Footer what the substantive differences are between Cennick, Wesleyan, Congregationalist.

            #Theyalllookthesametome

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Goodness, I don’t know…ask the Chef

          • Chefofsinners

            Basically Cennick was a Calvinist, Wesley Arminian.
            Congregationalists were originally Calvinists but can be either. They run their churches on a one-member one vote basis.

          • Anton

            And with supreme irony they eventually gained a hierarchy.

          • Chefofsinners

            Only when some of them merged with the URC. Others remain independent.

          • Anton

            A decade ago I met one of their ministers, who had been appointed from above the congregation he was taking charge of, and he made no mention of the URCs at all.

          • Chefofsinners

            Maybe not. But in 1972 the majority of English Congregationalist churches merged with the Presbyterians to form the URC and accepted an externally imposed hierarchy. Two main groups rejected the merger: The Congregational Federation and the smaller Evangelical Federation of Congregational Churches. Neither of these groups has an external hierarchy.

          • Martin

            Neither united nor reformed and there’s doubt about the rest?

          • Chefofsinners

            For about 10 years.
            More of a dark donkey.

        • John Campbell

          I’m not so sure that the mechanism by which were are saved is of secondary importance to the fact that we are in Christ because unless we are saved by grace through faith, without a work in sight (Eph 2:8-9), then we aren’t in Christ at all.

          • Chefofsinners

            True. But the Calvinist / Arminian debate is not about that. Both acknowledge that we are not saved by works. If we are in Christ then we are saved, even though we might not fully understand the mechanism. “One thing I know: once I was blind, but now I see.”

          • Yes, you are right.

          • Chefofsinners

            And you are gracious.

      • Martin Sewell

        We will be discussing rapprochement with our Methodist friends at General Synod in February. That might be telling us something.

        • Chefofsinners

          Modern Methodists would be no friends of the Wesleys.
          Your rapprochement is indeed telling.

  • A Berean

    Well now! I commented on this article but apparently it’s being treated as spam! Would His Grace happen to know when and if my comment will be released from comment purgatory?

  • In contrast, for all its faults, the Church of England developed into a noble experiment in tolerance.

    I wonder if +North and other traditional conservatives would agree with that. As with much of the world at the moment, tolerance in the CoE seems to mean only tolerating those whose views you find tolerable. Waxing lyrical about the broad, inclusive umbrella of the church sounds very much like a case of rose-tinted spectacles.

    Why is homosexuality the Rubicon?

    Probably because it’s one of the final ones left, the rest having been long crossed by the liberalising factions in the church. Many other issues were Rubicons for people in the days before the internet allowed the whole world to know about it.

    • Chefofsinners

      Homosexuality is a Rubicon because scripture is so completely clear and unequivocal on the issue. Read Jude. Read Romans 1.
      Society has utterly rejected God’s teaching on this matter, becausevvmen love darkness rather than light. So, choose this day whom you will serve.

      • Scripture has been quite unequivocal on a number of other issues the CoE has allowed liberals to steamroller. This is one of the the few last stands left. It’s also not just about homosexuality, because tied into it are:

        – The redefinition of marriage
        – The redefinition of procreation
        – The redefinition of the family
        – Gender ideology that seeks to completely rewrite what it means to be made in God’s image, male and female.

        • Chefofsinners

          Very true. At each unequivocal issue the CoE has lost large numbers of the faithful. Now, to those who have just about stomached all that is past, Martin uses the argument “Why this issue? You have tolerated so much, why not tolerate one more thing?” It is an insidious device; a snare which, every time you accept it, binds you more tightly. It leads you to apostasy one step at a time.

          • Indeed; that’s how most of these things crept in in the first place, just a little bit at a time. After all, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal if your compass is pointing a tiny bit off north until you’ve stated walking – then you suddenly discover you’re miles off course.

          • Martin Sewell

            Let’s try this a different way- not why should you go ( which I really do not want) but why did you stay?

          • Chefofsinners

            Darkness falls slowly. Each man must judge for himself the point at which the glory has finally departed and night has arrived.
            Your argument attempts to hold a man hostage to his past mistakes even when he has recognised them.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          This applies to the world as much as the church.

          Because of the new sexual ideology, the West is in a state of demographic self-destruction, which it has tried to stop by encouraging immigration. Europe as a cultural entity may be gone by the end of this century.

          • The CoE leadership has been so desperate to remain relevant (instead of faithful) that’s its chased after worldly ideologies for so long, which is why it’s shared the same fate. If then church isn’t distinct from the world, it has nothing to offer.

            Instead of congratulating the CoE for being compromised(!), the author should be calling for a radical conversion and repentance. Contrary to the post title, the being most interested in the church being compromised isn’t God.

      • carl jacobs

        Exactly so.

      • Martin Sewell

        But not divorce or contraception? I genuinely do not understand why so many remained after those Rubicons were passed and have yet to see that explained adequately.

        • Chefofsinners

          Read my response to Lain just below for a description of the device which you are employing.

        • carl jacobs

          I once asked a Roman Catholic friend to present to me the Scriptural case against contraception. He gave me a 300-page book chock full of papal bulls and theological treatises. It contained exactly one reference to Scripture. In an appendix. And it was off point. Contraception is not prohibited in Scripture. Likewise with divorce. There are Scriptural exceptions. In both cases, the authority and integrity of Scripture are not directly threatened.

          This is not so with homosexuality. There is simply no Scriptural case to be made for it. In order to establish homosexuality as a moral good, one must remove the Scripture from its place of authority and subject it to external norms. And what authority is put in its place? The reasoning of man. Based upon what? Based upon what he thinks is right in his own eyes.

          Homosexuality became the presenting issue because it so clearly required an exchange in the place of authority occupied by Scripture and the men who read it.

          • ardenjm

            Genesis 38: Onan was struck down by God for spilling his seed and not giving sons to his brother’s widow.

            In any case the arguments against artificial contraception are the domain of Natural Law not Revelation. You don’t need Faith to believe them you need Reason to understand them. Accordingly, the Church’s teaching on this question is for all ‘men of goodwill’ be they Catholic or not.

            When you read Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI it is that which becomes radiantly clear. Therefore, the question of how the Church has the authority to speak on Faith and Morals (both Natural Law and the meaning of moral teaching found in Revelation) is what lies behind this issue.
            But, once again, Carl Jacobs reveals the extent to which he places private judgement over and above obedience to Christ’s Church – Matthew 18:
            “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

            (I know that Carl has stifled my dissent to his infallible proclamations – the irony! – but this is for anyone reading his pontifications who might be taken in by his misrepresentation of the Church’s teaching.)

            Pax.

          • Anton

            Carl has not stifled you in any way. That is misleading. He has merely arranged a setting so that he does not read you.

          • ardenjm

            You’re right.
            Carl doesn’t prevent me from making posts correcting his erroneous misrepresentations of Catholic teaching.

          • Chefofsinners

            No, what prevents you from correcting Carl is the fact that he is correct.

          • ardenjm

            Well now, don’t be daft.
            He misrepresented how the Church articulates its teaching and her reasons for doing so.
            So whilst – for him and others – he might be ‘correct’ in the alternative, protestant, view he presents, he’s not ‘correct’ in the way he misrepresents Catholic teaching.
            So I helped you all out.

            You’re welcome.

          • Chefofsinners

            He misrepresented the Catholic Church did he? Ideal candidate to be the next pope then. How about it, Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            I think I would make a great Pope. Now, where is that Official Vatican Infallible Pen and Paper Set? I’ve got me some Papal Bulls to write …

          • carl jacobs

            what prevents you from correcting Carl is the fact that he is correct.

            Well, now that you have at long last come to this conclusion, this would probably be a good time to revisit the Doctrines of Grace. You could apply your newfound insight.

          • Chefofsinners

            Context is everything, Carl, as you know. At least, it is in this context.

          • Mike Stallard

            1. There is nothing in scripture about taking hallucinatory drugs or driving a motor car dangerously. Railway trains are pretty much missing too. Absence of prohibition in the Bible is not therefore an argument is it. Certainly some ancients had a horror of contraception and abortion: Hippocratic oath? Oman?
            2. When women were ordained, the Church officially agreed that scripture came second to what people wanted. So now you cannot appeal to scripture without causing a real rumpus.
            And that is not Anglican.

          • carl jacobs

            Your argument would be more credible if it wasn’t for NFP. But in typical fashion, the RCC created a rule, and then invented an artificial category to allow Catholics to get out of the rule. The friend who gave me the book BTW was a serious RC. Jack would approve of him. It was he who invited me to attend the NFP class. Which is why I know NFP is contraception by any other name.

            Absence of prohibition in the Bible is not therefore an argument is it.

            Nice to see you admit there is nothing in Scripture about it. So then, what moral authority do you intent to bring against me to bind my conscience against my will? And do you intend to argue that couples should not make prudential decisions about how many children to have? Should we all be providentialists?

            So now you cannot appeal to scripture without causing a real rumpus.
            Well, I’m not Anglican either so I’m not sure how your otherwise legitimate point applies to me.

          • francis.marsden

            Go forth and multiply!
            The sexual union of husband and wife can call into existence a new human person who will live for all eternity. God breathes in a soul, an immortal spirit to that new human life. That is why sex is so important, sacred even. God reserves its use to within marriage – which is why all forms of fornication, prostitution, adultery, sodomy and impurity are condemned by the Bible.
            A married couple have the right to abstain periodically from sexual intercourse if in conscience before God, they feel it is right to avoid conception for the meantime – to space their children, for medical reasons etc. They can use the Billings method or the symptothermal method, all of which help the wife to understand her own body rhythms better, and oblige her husband to cooperate in this and not be selfish. NFP builds in growth in chastity and self-control, respect and tenderness.

            As to contraception, the Pill, hormonal implants etc etc poison the woman’s body to make her fertility system malfunction. Often they are abortifacient, preventing the implanting in the uterus of a newly fertilized egg (anti-nidative is the term).
            The barrier methods in fact prevent man and wife from becoming totally one flesh, because they insert a piece of latex in between. Contraceptive intercourse effectively says: I love you, but I reject your fertility. I love you, but not as the father/mother of another child of mine. That at least is some of the argumentation of St John Paul II, imperfectly abbreviated!
            Until the 1929 Lambeth Conference the Church of England was totally against contraception, like every other Christian denomination in the world to that time. Have we built a better world with more stable family life since contraception became commonplace?

          • Anton

            Messing yourself up with drugs is your own fault. Hit someone with your car while driving dangerously and lex talionis would apply.

          • Ray Sunshine

            Oman is a country in the Arabian Peninsula. I think you mean Onan. Dorothy Parker famously named her canary Onan, because he spilled his seed on the ground.

        • Chefofsinners

          Place a frog in hot water and he will immediately jump out. Place him in cold water, heat it up slowly and you can cook him.

          • Mike Stallard

            Erm… and his daughters had children by…?

          • Chefofsinners

            “that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds”

        • Anton

          The ban on contraception was a tradition deriving from its long association with prostitution. When contraception became possible without significant impairment of sexual relations between husband and wife, the church needed to look at it again, and the better churches did so and found nothing whatsoever in the Law of Moses prohibiting it between husband and wife in ancient Israel. (I am referring to barrier methods only, so as not to get sidetracked.)

          I think that by ‘divorce’ you really mean ‘remarriage to another during the lifetime of the ex’. The word ‘divorce’ means something different today – when you petition the authorities – and in scripture, where it is a decision for the couple (almost always the husband) who then *inform* the authorities. The remarriage scriptures in the New Testament *appear* to contradict each other as to whether there are exceptions. I do not wish to enter here into exegesis, but where scripture demands careful study it is understandable that there will not be unanimity. In contrast, scripture is crystal clear in condemning homosexual relations.

        • You also need to understand that these issues do not occur in a vacuum, their effect is cumulative, starting with the less scripturally controversial issues and moving towards central ones.

          The CoE moved away from banning contraception in the 1930s. Contraception isn’t explicitly outlawed in Scripture, and this was at a time when the people mainly affected by it would have been married couples who wanted to limit the size of their families in economically difficult times. It seemed a compassionate and sensible move, but nobody could foresee how it would lead to the promiscuity of today’s society, the separation of sex from love and a culture of contraceptive abortion.

          When the church allowed remarriage, it was supposed to be under exceptional circumstances. Again, compassionate and pastoral, and Jesus himself made some accommodation for divorce. But it led to the church buying into the secular ideal of the disposability of marriage – virtually anyone can get remarried in the CoE now.

          When women were ordained and then concentrated, it was done to be compassionate and inclusive. There was a scriptural case against it, but some argued that there was also a case for it. So, while controversial, it wasn’t totally clear cut. It came with promises to accommodate those who objected. Of course, that hasn’t happened and has led to secular ideals of diversity becoming the new orthodoxy.

          Finally, the CoE’s obsession with secular gender ideology threatens to rewrite Christian metaphysics. The most prominent focal point is the church’s determination to celebrate homosexual marriage – something that is explicitly forbidden in scripture – so it naturally becomes the last stand. The CoE has already repeatedly shown itself happy to totally rewrite its theology and ecclesiology, it is now ready to knock out the last remaining foundation stones.

          This is why people will make this their Rubicon. If you are willing to rewrite theology in the face of public opinion, you jettison the idea of sin. If you don’t have sin, you don’t need a saviour. If you don’t have a saviour, you definitely don’t need a church. So why stay?

          • Lucius

            Death by a thousand cuts as they say. A particularly relevant quote from the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood in The Screwtape Letters:

            “You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

          • francis.marsden

            The Church of England at the 1929 Lambeth conference was the first ecclesial body or church within Christendom to legitimise artificial birth control. It broke with the universal Christian consensus up to that point whereby all Christians had accepted that contraceptive behaviour was forbidden. A sad mistake with dire consequences, as we have witnessed since.

          • But a least after that the CoE learned its lesson about the results of going off in the opposite direction to the rest of Christendom…

    • dannybhoy

      Yes, far better to receive the plaudits of unsaved humanity than the “Well done thou good and faithful servant” from the lips of Emmanuel..

  • magnolia

    The church needs to assess what it should move a bit on, what it has got wrong through centuries, and what is unchangeable. All of these can happen, but many see things in either traditional or contemporary ways. This is the wrong debate. Everything must be examined on its own merits, and biblically..

    Shocked at the interfaith mishmash just shown that took place at St Paul’s. Some Muslims who evoked “Allah ” there will now feel they are biding their time before claiming the building and chucking out the Christians. How is that a good result? Yes, the Grenfell Tower tragedy was appalling, but how does a Christian church put Jesus first by putting Muslim girls singing about the will of Allah in. Are they theologically illiterate? Do these Christians not value Jesus? Do they no longer believe he is Son of God and Son of Man, Alpha and Omega, the pre-existent one? Perhaps they are bored with Him and think he can be neatly sidelined while they show their own compassion? Why don’t they have an overwhelming love and passionate loyalty to Jesus? Whose church is it anyway?

    • John Campbell

      O Magnolia, bless your darling heart. I couldn’t agree more. Be careful however, that your views are not hovering around a potential hate crime. I’m sure the police will soon appoint officers to monitor archbishopcramner.com, if they haven’t already.

      How can any true Christian place anyone side by side in faux equality with our Lord and Saviour? But they do. I suppose it is politically correct and loving to do so but for my money it is an act of abject blasphemy conducted not by the broad church as Martin Sewell might suggest, but by those outside the church who are squatting within it.

  • Lucius

    Your Grace states: “Why is homosexuality the Rubicon? … rather than (say) the issue of the remarriage of divorced people in church?”

    The difference is proponents of the LGBT agenda are re-casting homosexuality as positive moral behavior. This was not and is not the case with divorce. And therein lies a crucial distinction. No Church, to my knowledge, has accepted or was aggressively lobbied to accept/approve divorce as positive moral behavior. Divorce is still considered by many Churches to be, if not sin in and of itself, a product of sin (i.e., pride, adultery, etc.) to be disfavored and requiring repentance.

    I believe it is the elevation of homosexual behavior and relationships from sinful to moral, which is without question the ultimate aim of the LGBT lobby on the Church, that has put the faithful at the Rubicon, because if homosexuality is successfully re-cast as such and accepted/approved by the Church, Scripture becomes a dead letter and Holy Tradition all but obsolete.

    • His Grace states nothing in this piece at all.

      • Lucius

        Forgive me. I overlooked the author. Will make an appropriate edit.

      • Inspector General

        One hopes you can spare a bit more time with you and yours over this festival, Eminence. We mob can allow you that, at least, for the good you have done over the year.

    • Nicodemus

      Why is homosexuality the Rubicon?

      Because of the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:20), the minimum standard expected from Gentile believers, namely, a prohibition against idolatry and sexual immorality.

  • dannybhoy

    “Because of its multifaceted character, the Church of England has devised a
    careful structure for choosing its bishops. We balance the composition of the Crown Nominations Commission between the interests of the national and the local: there are archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity involved. The representatives of the national interests are selected by single transferable vote, which delivers a wider range of opinion and churchmanship than do other methods of election. The Vacancy-in-See Committee is similarly broad-based.”

    Sorry, but this might work if Jesus Had chosen to be born an English gentleman and member of Synod.
    It won’t work with a Jewish carpenter born in Bethlehem, residing in Nazareth, who believed he was called of God to be the Messiah of Israel. Then to deliberately lay down His life as the Passover lamb in order that each and every person might access salvation.
    He might have felt incredibly honoured to be born an Englishman and and an Anglican, but He wouldn’t have been worth following as my Saviour and Lord..

    • Mike Stallard

      The Church of England used – once – to be just that. Apart from a few nut cases, everyone was the same faith: CoE. So working through parliament, the crown and the various committees of the people who ran the country was simply common sense.
      Today, those days are gone. Very few people – mostly over 80 years of age – are CoE. Churches stand empty most of the year. Services are infantile very often and proud of it. Morality is reduced to agreeing that sodomy is just the basic human need etc as explained by His Grace above.
      And the future? Monaco with its quaint little state ceremonies?

      • Anton

        Thank you very much for your considered comment about nut jobs Mike. It was people who wrote peaceable pamphlets complaining about mandatory CoE practices who were flogged in public and had their ears chopped off in the 1630s. One-fifth of clergymen refused to conform and lost their living when the same liturgy was reimposed by law in 1662. There was a huge exodus of ‘nut jobs’ into the new nonconformist chapels that became permitted at the Glorious Revolution. It was these nut jobs rather than the Anglicans who preached Christ to the slaves of the Anglican plantation owners in the 18th century. John Wesley was hated by the CoE hierarchy and after he died his followers grew sick of the same suffocating hierarchy and founded the Methodists. It was the nonconformists who led the way in evangelising the uprooted of the countryside living in the godless slums of the new industrial cities. You owe historic English nonconformism an apology.

      • dannybhoy

        I just find it weally weird that a group of blokes, not averse to wearing robes and stwange hats, and tolerant of other views to the point of hewesy, should think that..
        ““Because of its multifaceted character, the Church of England has devised a
        careful structure for choosing its bishops. We balance the composition of the Crown Nominations Commission between the interests of the national and the local: there are archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity involved.”
        is a good thing.
        The CofE could more accurately cast itself in the role of a slightly dishonest* mediator between the State and the Anglican faithful**.
        But certainly not as a loyal, faithful and devoted part of the Church Universal..
        *or biased
        **as relating to an incredibly broad church which tolerates apostates, ssm promoters and active freemasonry…

  • Chefofsinners

    Thus says the prophet of the Turk,
    “Good Mussulman, abstain from pork;
    There is a part in every swine
    No friend of follower of mine
    May taste, whate’er his inclination,
    On pain of excommunication.”
    Such Mahomet’s mysterious charge,
    And thus he left the point at large.
    Had he the sinful part express’d,
    They might with safety eat the rest;
    But for one piece they thought it hard
    From the whole hog to be debarr’d;
    And set their wit at work to find
    What joint the prophet had in mind.
    Much controversy straight arose,
    These choose the back, the belly those;
    By some ’tis confidently said
    He meant not to forbid the head;
    While others at that doctrine rail,
    And piously prefer the tail.
    Thus, conscience freed from every clog,
    Mahometans eat up the hog.
    You laugh — ’tis well — the tale applied
    May make you laugh on t’other side.
    Renounce the world — the preacher cries.
    We do — a multitude replies.
    While one as innocent regards
    A snug and friendly game at cards;
    And one, whatever you may say,
    Can see no evil in a play;
    Some love a concert, or a race;
    And others shooting, and the chase.
    Reviled and loved, renounced and follow’d,
    Thus, bit by bit, the world is swallow’d;
    Each thinks his neighbour makes too free,
    Yet likes a slice as well as he:
    With sophistry their sauce they sweeten,
    Till quite from tail to snout ’tis eaten.
    – William Cowper

  • not a machine

    I suppose we can only but await the appointment I just hope he/she worships Jesus Christ and can help those who have some or no faith to seek the Christ.

  • Chefofsinners

    The word ‘compromise’ is not found in scripture.
    For good reason.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Adopting a conciliatory spirit could be regarded as a compromise of sorts.

      A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
      Proverbs 15:1.

      • Chefofsinners

        Reconciliation is indeed a very scriptural principle. However, the death of Christ was necessary to bring it about. There was no compromise. God did not say ‘alright then I will be a bit less holy if you can be a bit less sinful’.

        Proverbs 15:1 is about the way the message is given, not about compromising the message.

        • Lucius

          “Proverbs 15:1 is about the way the message is given, not about compromising the message.”

          Well said.

  • John

    Ever since Paul and Silas went their different ways from Barnabas and John Mark, the Church has had a long history of separation for the sake of the Gospel. It is no big deal. The only unity that is important is the unity of the Spirit; grass roots cooperation and mutual affection as a spearhead for local mission.

    In the last days we are told that some will depart from the faith, having a form of religion but denying its power. Must we desperately pander to infidels just to show some kind of fake unity to a world that doesn’t care?

    As Archbishop Okoh said recently with such refreshing clarity, “the purpose of the Church is to please and glorify God, not men.” If only we were hearing things like this from Lambeth Palace.

  • francis.marsden

    Mary said: He looks on his servant in her loneliness. Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
    Straight out of the Magnificat in Luke’s Gospel. Looks like Scriptural license for honouring and praising Mary to me. Not as God, certainly, but as the one who was closest to Jesus almost all his earthly life.

    • Rhoda

      Calling Mary “blessed” is a long way from praying to or through her.

      • Chefofsinners

        Exactly right. She was blessed. Of course she was – ‘most highly favoured’. To be the mother of Jesus is an enormous blessing. I can say that without hesitation. But I’ve never praised Mary. Or honoured her particularly. Just recognised that she was blessed by God.

        • francis.marsden

          To God all men are alive, says Jesus in the Gospel. Therefore to God, Mary and indeed all redeemed saints are alive. Just as we can ask friends on earth to pray with us and for us, without impugning the unique mediatorship of Christ (He the Head, we the Body), so we can ask those not in this world but alive in God also to pray for us.
          You don’t really think Jesus goes off in a sulk when we honour or talk with His Mother or his apostles and saints, do you? We are one body, after all. It’s what the Apostles’ Creed c 100 AD means by the communion of saints.

          • Anton

            How do you know that they can hear us? I know that Jesus can.

          • francis.marsden

            How do you know that Jesus has imposed a communications blackout on his saints?

          • Chefofsinners

            To live in bliss, it is necessary to be ignorant of events on earth. To see loved ones in pain or unbelieving would rob those in heaven of heaven’s joys.

          • francis.marsden

            God is Love. Christ in a sense still suffers with His people, and they suffer too until the total number of the elect is reached. Only after the Last Judgement will bliss be perfect. You imply that ignorant bliss is better than a love which cares and which suffers.

          • Chefofsinners

            “Only after the Last Judgement will bliss be perfect.”
            Got a scripture for that assertion?

            “You imply that ignorant bliss is better than a love which cares and which suffers.”
            Not necessarily better, just more blissful.

          • francis.marsden

            I mean it in this sense. After the Last Judgement, God’s perfect justice has been revealed to all. The wicked are damned, by their own choice, rather than accept God’s truth and mercy. The blessed will then see that the wicked have received what they totally and justly deserve, that it is all within God’s design, and they will be content with it. Hell can have no final sanction over heaven, the damned cannot reproach the blessed saying “How can you be joyful when I am damned?” Because it is utterly and totally their own deliberate fault.

            Before the Last Judgement, the destiny of souls on earth is still to be decided. So if the angels care for our progress towards God, cannot the saints in heaven also care for us, offer prayers for us etc?

            “sola Scriptura” isn’t taught by the Bible, by the way. It’s a sixteenth century invention.

          • Anton

            I don’t. But how do *you* know that prayer through saints is heeded by God? Genuine question…

            I do know that prayers through Jesus are guaranteed to reach His Father’s throne.

          • francis.marsden

            We know through faith that as you say, prayers through Jesus are guaranteed to reach His Father’s throne. We can never prove that our prayer X was answered by event Y. As one Anglican bishop put it, when I keep praying, coincidences happen. When I stop praying, the coincidences cease too.Or words to that effect.
            I think the saints become as friends, a sort of consoling personal presence, when we have read about their lives, perhaps visited the places were they worked, lived and died. I’m not personally a great one for asking St Z. to ask God for A. B or C for me, or someone else, yet I am aware of the friendship of the saints, their encouragement in trying to live a Christian life. Yet miracles obviously do happen, and all the saints canonized in the last few centuries had to have at least two miracles to their credit.

          • A Berean

            There’s an incredible amount of rationalization in this reply to justify a position that cannot be supported biblically. Not once are we instructed in the Bible are we encouraged to seek the prayers of those that have passed on. One wonders how the “saints” are able to honor the requests of thousands (or millions) of supplicants.

          • Martin

            How can we talk to them, they are in a different place to which we have no access, indeed, to which we are forbidden access. Saul was in a great deal of trouble for seeking Samuel’s counsel after his death.

            Apostles and Angels likewise have been distressed at men bowing to them for there is no difference between dulia and latria, both are to be given to God alone.

          • francis.marsden

            In Revelation 5:8, John depicts the saints in heaven offering our
            prayers to God under the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which
            are the prayers of the saints.” But if the saints in heaven are offering
            our prayers to God, then they must be aware of our prayers. They are
            aware of our petitions and present them to God by interceding for us.

            We are not talking about spiritualism and necromancy, which the Bible
            strictly forbids. They are occult practices bent on getting secret
            information; whereas in contrast, asking saints to pray for us and help
            us is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on our behalf.

            How can you say that they are in a place to which we have no access? If they are with Christ, then we are connected to them, in spiritual communion. The ἁγίων κοινωνίαν of the Apostles’ Creed. Those who die in grace, go no further from us than God, and God is very close.” (St Bonaventure)

            All the ancient churches – Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, Syriac, Indian etc – have the practice of invoking the saints. For example, near the tomb of St Peter under the Vatican basilica in Rome, many of the tombs bear graffiti and inscriptions. One reads: “Peter, pray for those buried close to you.” It comes from the second or third century.

            It is only those much later denominations which originated in the 16th century or even more recently which reject this practice, maybe because they don’t understand it properly.

            If you want proof that the saints pray for us, look at Rev. 8:3-4: “[An]
            angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and
            he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints
            upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense
            rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before
            God”

            Latria (worship) goes to God alone. Veneration (doulia) is appropriate for the saints, and hyperdoulia to the Virgin Mary, but not latria. They are different!

            Doulia = service, reverence – short of what is due to God but
            appropriate to a human life or context in which the action of God is so
            (in every sense) materially present and at work.

            Latrīa (Latin) from the Greek λατρεία, latreia, is used in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic theology to mean adoration, a reverence directed only to the Holy Trinity. Latria is due to God alone for his supreme excellence and to show people’s complete submission to him.

          • Martin

            Francis

            Actually it says:

            And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation of John 5:8 [ESV])

            Nothing about saints offering anything.

            Communicating with the dead is necromancy. Saul wanted to speak to a revered saint, Samuel.

            The Apostles Creed isn’t Scripture. That churches that have lapsed into heresy practice it is reason we shouldn’t.

            I’m a saint, my prayers are what that angel has.

            Doulia is used to translate acts of worship, as in:

            Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved [douleuo] to those that by nature are not gods. (Galatians 4:8 [ESV])

            As well “the Hebrew word, avad, (Hebrew for “worship”) is translated as
            both dulia and latria in the Septuagint (Greek translation of
            the Hebrew Bible)”

            Both .dulia and latria in a religious context should only be given to God. And Mary is no higher than any other saint, she is saved in exactly the same way.

  • Inspector General

    A freedom loving Inspector here. Off topic, but here we go…

    When an elected representative is gagged from speaking in an elected chamber for his views, is that or is that not embryonic Fascism?

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/12/14/ukip-politician-banned-from-welsh-assembly-after-attacking-nutty-transgender-people-in-vile-speech/

    • Father David

      Just as Mrs. May has “Red Lines” in the chaos which is Brexit which are now looking more like Shocking Pink Lines – so too there must be limits as to what can and cannot be said in a Parliament or an Assembly. Time and time again the irrelevance, which is Ukip, crosses the line and should indeed be censured.This person Gareth Bennett (no relation) must be ruled out of court for his hate speech for if anything in this sceptred isle resembles Fascism – Ukip fits that bill.

      • HedgehogFive

        Mr naive again. I do not like Fascism (I am no fan of Mussolini), but so many people remain willfully blind to the shortcomings of socialism and the evils of communism.

      • Inspector General

        Ah! The intolerance of the liberal. How appropriate it is that you posted

        Not sure if you realise what debate is all about, and what assemblies are for. You’re more of a rubber stamp man it seems. An apparatchik, if you will.
        A Judas priest even, noting the flocks views that do not correspond with yours and the party’s. The information to be passed to the authorities when required by them.

      • Anton

        OOOH! I find your comment so offensive! I’m going to run to His Gwace and ask that you be banned!

        Has it not occurred to you that the best way to show that people might be talking rot is to let them go on doing it?

      • Jilly

        ‘We have no problem with freedom of speech. However, freedom after speech still needs more work.’
        Soviet joke….

  • Lucius

    That author notes that the “Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has reminded us before that schism is itself an evil”

    And yet, as Pope St. Felix III stated: “[n]ot to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it, and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.”

    The author (in what appears to be a misguided quest for unity without conditions) seems to have forgotten those words of exhortation from Saint Paul “that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

  • carl jacobs

    In a very real sense, this is a fight between the advocates of truth and the advocates of sincerity. Has God really spoken? If He has spoken, can we know what He said?

    If you answer those questions “Yes” then you will prioritize the objective truth of God’s revelation. The greatest fault will be deviation from truth and your desire will be to propagate the truth. Men must know the truth and be brought under its authority.

    If on the other hand you answer one or both of those questions “No” you will deweight revelation as unreliable. You will be forced back upon yourself to seek out what may be known of God as best you can. Since you have no way to extend yourself beyond the temporal, truth is ultimately withheld from you. But you can hold to your own ideas with sincerity. In this case the greatest fault is hypocrisy and your desire will be to isolate men from the power of others to impose truth in the face of that sincerity.

    One perspective is Truth-centered. The other perspective is man-centered. They are completely exclusive. They will seek to destroy each other.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Well put. My answers….
      Yes.
      And yes.

  • Mike Stallard

    What is the Church for exactly?
    Is it a greasy pole to climb? If yes, then who is and who is not the Bishop of London matters a lot: S/He has got nearly to the top and won the game.
    Is it a congregation of Saints? In which case, it does not matter who is the Bishop of London. What matters is perfection. Are you saved? Are you one of us?
    Is it a school for sinners?In which case, let it all hang out! Gay people to the fore! Divorced people are normal. Abortion on demand as a human right! Oh – and Xmas is just Santa’s birthday.
    Or it is just an historical remnant like the monarchy, the parliament and the ancient buildings of our country? In which case, watch out – falling masonry!

    • Martin

      The local church is a barracks, a place for the training of warriors. Those who lead it must be loyal subjects of the King, ready to carry out His commands whatever the World may think. They must train those in their care to be like them. It is not the place for the half hearted, quisling or enemy agent.

  • Chefofsinners

    And so, at last, Lord Carlile’s report is published. Warner has issued a pre-emptive apology, indicating heavy criticism – but what will be done to restore George Bell’s honour? Compensation for his family perhaps? And will the lessons really be learned?

    • CliveM

      All those plaques taken down and buildings renamed, will they revert back? Or will there still be a taint.

      • IanCad

        If they are not restored, and pronto, the CofE will, in effect, declare to the world that the 9th Commandment (8th if you’re Catholic) is null and void; As it seems, may be, the notion that male and female created He them

        • CliveM

          Just read the various statements, there maybe apologies for process, but none for the outcome.

          The implication seems to be, they see him as quilty.

          But then the report was never about the facts, simply the process.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Quite so – the report fails to deal with the real point at issue. Even though it highlights the lack of genuine evidence, nowhere does it seem to take the inevitable conclusion and present it, ‘these things did not happen’.

          • Ray Sunshine

            This is the concluding paragraph of the C of E’s newly posted press release (link below). Archbishop Welby is evidently still convinced that Bishop Bell was guilty of “evil acts”.

            “The complaint about Bishop Bell does not diminish the importance of his great achievement. We realise that a significant cloud is left over his name. Let us therefore remember his defence of Jewish victims of persecution, his moral stand against indiscriminate bombing, his personal risks in the cause of supporting the anti Hitler resistance, and his long service in the Diocese of Chichester. No human being is entirely good or bad. Bishop Bell was in many ways a hero. He is also accused of great wickedness. Good acts do not diminish evil ones, nor do evil ones make it right to forget the good. Whatever is thought about the accusations, the whole person and whole life should be kept in mind.”

            https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/publication-bishop-george-bell-independent-review

          • Dominic Stockford

            ‘Convinced’, without any genuine evidence. The man is a complete wally.

          • CliveM

            With the rush to judgment, the CofE has put itself in a difficult spot. If they say he’s innocent the implication is that the claimant lied.

            It’s a mess of their own making however.

          • Anna

            People who readily accept others as guilty without sufficient evidence should consider that one day they in turn might be wrongly accused, and their accusers just as readily believed.

          • Anton

            Because it can’t know that.

    • IanCad

      Excellent commentary on R4 by Martin Bashir. This whole safeguarding/witch hunting must stop.
      No Chef; George Bell’s reputation will not be restored unless “Carol’s” is diminished. I mean, after all, we don’t want to stop the allegations coming in, do we??

    • Anton

      Would someone in Church House who has read the unredacted version please post it on Wikileaks?

    • carl jacobs

      Well, it’s good to know that the CoE acting in “good faith” when it threw George Bell under the bus by calculating the balance of probabilities and deciding that a living accuser was much more likely to prevail in court than a dead defendant. I imagine that was the most important conclusion of the report.

      And the CoE got to disparage all those British Air Crews in the process. The CoE may think he’s guilty of child abuse (not that a good faith rush to judgment is a good way to determine that, but as you know it did act in good faith) but at least Bishop Bell took a principled stand during WWII.

      You know. As opposed to those air crews who flew the missions and died by the thousands. As opposed to bishops who didn’t.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Yesterday Radio 3 featured a lot of Shostakovich. I find his music fits so well the state of hypernormalization

    The term . . . is taken from Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 20 years before it collapsed. A professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he argues that everyone knew the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed “hypernormalisation”.

    I watched the film to which the article refers . It could have been good, but the producer was a typical one-eyed BBC man, full of the faults of Trump and Brexit, but blind to those of Hillary and the EU.

    • Anton

      This collection of Soviet-era jokes from Russia contains some of the sharpest wit I have come across:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_political_jokes

      • IanCad

        Thanks Anton. Well worth a click.

        “Lubyanka (KGB headquarters) is tallest building in the Moscow. You can see Siberia from its basement.”

        • Anton

          I particularly liked the one about the butcher and the fishmonger.

      • dannybhoy

        A swiss friend told me this one,
        “An old Jewish man was sitting on a Moscow park bench intently studying a book on Hebrew.
        A policeman walking by sees the book and snatches it off the old man.
        ‘What’s this about old man?’
        ‘I’m an old man and I want to speak Hebrew, the language of heaven before I die.’ says the old man.
        The policeman laughs,
        ‘That’s assuming you’ll go to heaven. You’re a Jew you’ll probably end up in the other place!’
        ‘That’s okay’ says the old man, ‘I already speak Russian..’

  • Dominic Stockford

    1. This is a step too far, even for those evangelicals who have compromised their understanding of Scriptural teaching so far.
    2. “Jesus had asked, “Who do you say I am?”…” – the answer lies in the question, clearly so.
    3. Because a human institution has compromised its own workings does not mean we should compromise on the clear meaning of Scripture. The two are utterly different.

  • Busy Mum

    “I am fully persuaded that it is not so much on account of our rites and ceremonies, as our not preaching the truth as it is in Jesus, that so many have been obliged to go and seek for food elsewhere. Did not we fall from our established doctrines, few, comparatively speaking, would fall from the Established Church. Where Christ is preached, though it be in a church or on a common, dissenters of all denominations, have and do and must freely come.

    But if our Clergy will not show the way of salvation by faith in Christ, the charge of schism at the day of judgment, I fear, will lie chiefly at their door.”

    Rev George Whitfield

    • Dominic Stockford

      He hit the nail on the head.

      • Busy Mum

        I note with interest that the Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate’s vestments, or lack thereof, mark him out as somewhat of a dissenter.

        • Sir John Oldcastle

          That a Protestant in the Church of England could be thought of as a dissenter tells us all we need to know about how far it has fallen.

          • Busy Mum

            As part of the History A level, one of my daughters had a school trip to a well-known English cathedral in order to demonstrate a ‘Protestant’ place of worship. She reported candles, chanting, monks in flowing robes, incense, no Bible to be seen anywhere …

          • Anton

            Forward into the past!

          • Ray Sunshine

            A Catholic priest once “corrected” me when I used the word “Protestant” in connection with the C of E. In the Catholic view, if I understood him correctly, there are three categories – Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant – not just two. Perhaps Dominic can straighten this out for me.

          • Dominic Stockford

            The Church of England is described in its formularies as ‘Protestant’, as evidenced in the oath taken by Her Majesty at her coronation. The only people who call themselves ‘Anglican’ are those who want to avoid the reality of what the CofE should be.

          • Ray Sunshine

            Thank you, Dominic, but my question wasn’t about how Anglicans describe themselves. I am quoting a remark made by a Catholic priest in the course of a conversation. It was my understanding, at the moment he said it, that he was giving factual information about an official Roman Catholic classification of the post-Reformation churches. Only later, when I was telling someone else about that remark, it occurred to me that perhaps the priest was only expressing a nuanced personal opinion to the effect that some of those churches are more Protestant than others.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Ah, Well that is never one I heard. We had a far more cutting remark about Anglican High Churchers, ‘More Roman than Rome’.

          • chiaramonti

            The only person in the UK who is bound by law to take an oath to maintain the PROTESTANT religion is the sovereign at her or his coronation.

          • Sir John Oldcastle

            Exactly. Ask yourself the questions ‘why’, and ‘what consequence’ and you will learn more. Why is the Sovereign, and the head of the CofE taking such an oath? Because those things over which she rules are to be kept Protestant. That means that the CofE is supposed to be Protestant, and that the religion of this nation is supposed to be Protestant Christianity.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            from The Revenge
            by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

            ‘… I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord Howard,
            To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain.’

          • chiaramonti

            The answer is simple. It is required by the Act of Settlement. But like any other legislation, it can be altered.

          • Dominic Stockford

            It hasn’t been though.

          • chiaramonti

            The word ‘protestant’ was not used of anyone in England in the reign of Henry VIII. If used at all, it always referred to individuals in Germany. You will recall that Henry resisted what he regarded as inappropriate innovations in religion.

          • Dominic Stockford

            And?

          • Anton

            But if the people move away, one faces a choice: attempt coercion, or let them drag the nation down. Which alternative a man advocates to some extent defines him. I opt for the latter, because coercion is not part of gospel Christianity, and will not put it in place. Of course I pray for the nation, but I do not believe that if the church becomes more holy then the people will necessarily flock back. There is no scriptural ground to believe that.

          • Anton

            I wonder if you are confusing matters with the fact that Catholics do categorise into three, but those categories are Catholic, Orthodox and protestant?

          • Nunya Beeswax

            The issue at hand is not Protestantism, but disobedience to the Prayer Book.

          • carl jacobs

            ?

            Why should the Prayer Book make a difference? At best it’s a derivative authority. If it was modified in the service of SSM, there would be a positive duty to disobey it.

          • MichaelA

            Of course, but it isn’t. So what?

          • carl jacobs

            So the problem isn’t disobedience to the Prayer Book.

          • MichaelA

            Well it can be. The Book of Common Prayer is a formulary of most Anglican churches, including the Church of England. If someone wants to be in one of those churches, then disobedience to at least the principles of the BCP could be a problem.

            Its the same as if someone breaches the Westminster Confession – it may not be a problem for other denominations, but it is a problem if that person wants to be a Presbyterian.

            BTW, Hi Carl!

          • carl jacobs

            Ya know. I saw your post just before I went to bed last night and I said to myself “I wonder if that’s the Michael A from Stand Firm.”

            It’s good to see you again. Welcome to Cranmer’s. This is where I came when Sarah blew up Stand Firm for me. It’s a good weblog. And its good to see a friend from the “old days”.

          • MichaelA

            Yes its me. Glad to see you are still testifying to the truth.

            I may be on Cranmer occasionally, always glad to see you and any of the gang. I often go on Anglican Ink – tj mcmahon posts there a lot, I’ve also seen Dale Matson there. I have gone back to Virtue Online now that its much more friendly to ACNA and Gafcon. Kenneth (Cennydd) is still faithfully plugging away there. Also Premier News UK has a lot of good Christian articles.

            Yes Stand Firm, some great days – I think it had its glorious day and died. With hindsight, I think most of the mods there were carrying a lot of personal baggage from TEC. They were very faithful and sacrificial Christians, and I don’t blame them for being fixated on TEC, the way they and their loved ones had been treated. They really had put so much into trying to save TEC and when it finally dawned on them that it probably won’t be saved in our lifetimes, they lost their vitality. Anyway, that’s how I see it. I think the Woodliffes had already retired by that stage but Greg G went to the RC Church, Sarah went off into the wilderness, Matt K gave up and concentrated on pastoring, some of the remainder tried to turn the site into a clone of Midwest Conservative Journal but that only lasted for less than a year. Anyway, much good was done on SF and for that we are all grateful. Meanwhile we continue to labour in the cyber harvest fields. ;o) May God protect you and yours wherever you go.

          • carl jacobs

            Interesting update. I didn’t leave Stand Firm on good terms, so when I left I never looked back. But one always wonders what happened there. It was an amazing place in 2007. Fond memories.

            I hope to see you around.

          • MichaelA

            If it still any consolation, you weren’t the only one who left on bad terms. There were many faithful and sacrificial Christians got booted from there (along with those that deserved it – we can probably both think of some examples!). I didn’t see the altercation that led to to you leaving but I can imagine. I gave up myself about a year before it died

            But there you go. In the end, Christian witness is not about us and god knows it’s not about any blog. SF is gone but the work goes on ;o)

          • carl jacobs

            You didn’t see it because it happened in Private Messages. Let’s just say it didn’t go well. But I agree with you. Things have a natural life span. SF was no exception.

          • Nunya Beeswax

            If you follow the thread of discussion, Mr Jacobs, you will see that I responded to a comment about the incumbent’s approach to liturgical vestments.

  • makkabaeus

    Why is homosexuality the Rubicon?
    After all there are only a few references to homosexuality in the Bible and many more to other sins.

    However the most important reference to homosexual behaviour is in the first chapter of Romans, and Romans is Paul’s fullest exposition of the Gospel. Paul links the revelation of the wrath of God on human ungodliness and wickedness to a whole list of sins but gives the first place to homosexual sin and even includes the only biblical reference to lesbianism.
    How is God’s wrath revealed?
    Not in floods, earthquakes, thunderbolts and so on, though v27 might be a reference to STDs (were they around in the first century?). Gods wrath is revealed in that those who deliberately, against what knowledge of God they might have, turn their backs on God are abandoned by God to the consequences of their denial, which are intellectual and moral corruption.
    Thus they replace God with idols of their own making, gods which are no gods. And they replace the natural order of the sexes with an order of their own creation.
    What we have here is not just the condemnation of a homosexual act, but the condemnation of an outlook that regards homosexuality as a part of the norm, as just as good as heterosexuality.

    The legalisation of Same Sex Marriage exemplifies this. If it has encouraged homosexual behaviour at all I think it must be very slight. It acheived hardly any practical benefit for homosexuals. It was primarily symbolic. It symbolises that homosexual acts are just as valid as heterosexual, they are just two sides of one coin.
    In doing this it contradicts not only the Bible but any rational understanding of human nature.
    Same Sex Marriage may not be The Rubicon, but it is certainly a Rubicon.

    • Dominic Stockford

      There were indeed moments in the past when lesser(?) tributaries were crossed, such as the admittance of women into lay-readership. Several, many, clergy I know, and know of, left at that moment, seeing that it heralded an about face from following Scripture, to following the desires of man.

    • Martin

      Eph 5:25 makes a connection between Christ and the Church and Man and Woman joined in matrimony. What an appalling thing it is to do to destroy that picture.

    • chiaramonti

      You cannot set up a rival good to God’s.

      • Anton

        Been reading Brideshead?

        • chiaramonti

          Not recently.

          • Anton

            “I saw today there was one thing unforgivable… the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I’m not quite bad enough to do; to set up a rival good to God’s” – Julia, dumping Charles.

  • jsampson45

    “The Church of England is a compromised and compromising church – thank God!” As a famous politician said about something or other: “No. No. No.” A real church is an embassy of Christ.

  • This post dresses up a very simple question as if it were very complicated.

    God says that he made mankind male and female, as a fundamental fact of our creation, and that homosexuality is a root-and-branch rebellion against his Lordship over that creation and over us. But hey, says “Cranmer”, why make such a fuss about a little thing like that?

    In my own view, the C of E crossed the Rubicon a long time ago. There is no realistic prospect of church discipline in the C of E for appointees who don’t preach the gospel of Christ and summon their hearers to repent. If you’re still overlooking that, and yet you see the failure to treat what God calls abomination as even sinful in any way, then yes, that’s a curious position to have. But that’s not actually a reason to cave in on this issue as well. The solution to a happy inconsistency is not an unhappy consistency.

    • But hey, Cranmer says absolutely nothing at all.

      • Yes, sorry, it’s one of the people on your platform, not you personally. Now that you’ve pointed that out, and granting that… what are the implications of that? It’s your website, under your editorial control, so as the publisher/proprietor. you’re saying *something*. (“About” page: “You’ll find here an unashamedly Christian perspective on contemporary events”). What?

        The article says that for Taylor to say what God says – that homosexuality is a question of root-and-branch rebellion against God’s Creator-Lordship – is unnecessarily sectarian. I suppose you could take the “it’s posted for interesting discussion, I don’t endorse 100% of what contributors say” line, but… contradicting God on fundamental issues isn’t really the pressing need of the hour, is it?

      • MichaelA

        The first Cranmer was very talkative, even when on his way to the stake. ;o)

  • MichaelA

    What a bizarre thesis – allowing divorce and contraception are the worst things the church could do, therefore having done those things, the church may never ever draw the line at anything ever again.

    Oh and if we dare to hold a contrary opinion to other Anglicans on any issue, we are on the slippery slope to actual fisticuffs with our opponents.

    Is Martin Sewell for real?

    • Anton

      Divorce really means a separation acknowledged by the couple to be permanent, and you can’t stop people doing that. Nor should society, for Moses permitted it. The church should have a view on whether its members (specifically) remarry during the life of an ‘ex’, however.

      The ban on contraception was a tradition deriving from its long association with prostitution. When contraception became possible without significant impairment of sexual relations between husband and wife, the church needed to look at it again, and the better churches did so and found nothing whatsoever in the Law of Moses prohibiting it between husband and wife in ancient Israel. (I am referring to barrier methods here, so as not to get sidetracked.)

    • As a Roman Catholic, it’s my view that the Church should make recreational contraception an excommunicable offence. Because as long as we have recreational contraception, we will always have abortion, legal or illegal.

      • DespiteBrexit

        Please explain the link.

  • DespiteBrexit

    Mr Sewell, it is not clear to me if you have any red lines at all when it comes to the Christian faith. Do you? Is there anything that could cause you to decide the CoE is no longer meaningfully Christian?

  • Inspector General

    Excellent, sir!